Garments are so very urgently needed for the wounded

Burghfield people continued to make clothes and hospital supplies for wounded soldiers.

Holiday House

The Committee regret that they are unable at present to arrange for any Evening Entertainments &c, due to the Lighting restrictions.

The Holiday House work party wish to thank all those who so kindly subscribed to the thousand penny fund, which was raised in answer to the appeal for funds from the Reading Depot. The amount subscribed more than reached our expectations, and we were able to send the sum of £7 10s 0d in all to the depot, £3 (i.e. 720 pennies) profits on a Whist Drive and Dance at Holiday House, and £4 10s 0d (i.e. 1,080 pennies) collected.

The Work Party would be glad to welcome more workers, as garments are so very urgently needed for the wounded, and also any help in providing wool for “operation” stockings.

Burghfield parish magazine, July 1918 (D/EX725/4)

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Maypole dance for wounded animals

Maidenhead children helped raise funds for wounded army animals.

20th June 1918
Sixteen children were taken this evening to do a Maypole Dance for a fete in aid of the Blue Cross Society.

Log book of King Street School, Maidenhead (C/EL77/1, p. 421)

Men from the Canadian Camp join local fundraising efforts

Canadian soldiers helped entertain the locals and raise money for the Red Cross.

Holiday House

A concert and entertainment were given on Friday evening February 8th, with the object of helping the funds of the Red Cross Working Party, at Holiday House. Various popular items were contributed by men from the Canadian Camp, as well as the local talent…

On the suggestion of Corporal Moore of the Canadians, the room was cleared on the conclusion of the entertainment for an impromptu dance for a short time to finish up the evening. Altogether a successful evening, and £3 handed over for the Red Cross.


Burghfield parish magazine, March 1918 (D/EX725/4)

“The Irish prisoners give us little peace and quiet”, dancing and singing

The Irish internees at Reading seem to have been partying all night, according to an aggrieved warder. (His request was denied, and he was forced to stay at Reading.)

HM Prison
Reading
3rd Jan. 1918

Gentlemen,

I beg to state that after the sick leave that has been granted to me since November last, I feel able and fit to return to duty again. I attribute my illness to the causes, viz to anxiety and over work created by the unexpected additional duties in connection with the interned aliens here, particularly with the canteen and the large daily dealings with tradespeople in Reading and elsewhere by the prisoners; also to my occupation of the Chaplain’s quarters. When it was arranged that I should occupy that house, I had no idea that any sounds from the Female Wing when the wing was in use, could be heard so easily in the quarters. We soon discovered, however, that the Irish prisoners give us little peace and quiet between 7 pm and 10. There was shouting and cheering, drilling, chorus singing, violin and flute playing with step-dancing, besides much walking and running up and down stairs, all of which we hear evenings most plainly and which disturbed the peace and quiet I ought to have enjoyed after my trying day’s due. I then was going down the hill in health, and the quarters under the conditions stated told upon my nerves, general health, as well as upon my wife’s health.

I have now been in the service 33 years, nine of which have been as Steward, and have always endeavoured to perform my duties loyally and with enthusiasm. Owing to present conditions, the extremely high cost of living, and to my family circumstances which have already been brought to your notice by the Governor, it would be a very great hardship to my family if I am compelled to retire from the Service now. I should therefore be grateful if the Commissioners will allow me to resume my duties and transfer me to another station where I may have the advantage of a more bracing climate and of enjoying better health.

I am
Gentlemen

Your obedient servant

Matthew W Loan
Steward

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

A splendid address on Duty and Patriotism that even the tiniest could understand

Empire Day was the focus for patriotic expressions in schools across the county.

Piggott Schools, Wargrave
Empire Day

The children of the Piggott Schools celebrated Empire Day (May 24th) in right loyal fashion. They assembled at the School, and with flags flying, marched down to Church where a short service was held. The Vicar gave an appropriate address. Re-assembling on the Church Green they proceeded to the Schools and took their places round the flag pole from which the Union Jack was flying. A good number of parents and friends of the children with many of the soldiers from the hospital were waiting their return. As the boys passed the soldiers they gave them a salute in recognition of what they had done for their country.

The National Anthem was sung, and the flag saluted, and Miss. E. Sinclair gave a splendid address on Duty and Patriotism in such a way that even the tiniest could understand it. Capt. Bird proposed a vote of thanks to Miss Sinclair and hearty cheers were given in which the soldiers joined. Three Patriotic and Empire Songs were sung by the children, the Vicar called for cheers for the Teachers, and Mr. Coleby announced that Mrs. Cain had most kindly provided buns and sweets for all as they left the grounds. Hearty cheers were given her for her thoughtfulness. Cheers for the King concluded the proceedings.

Alwyn Road School, Cookham
May 24th 1917

Empire Day was celebrated today. The Headmaster addressed the children assembled in the Hall, and the National Anthem was sung. The children then went to their classrooms and ordinary lessons proceeded till 11 o’clock. Each class teacher then gave a lesson on “Empire” and kindred subjects till 11.30. This was followed by a Writing Lesson when some of the important facts were taken down.

The school assembled in the Hall again at 11.55 and after a few more remarks by the Headmaster the national Anthem was again sung and the children dismissed.

Opportunity was taken of this morning’s addresses to instil into the children’s minds the necessity of economising in the use of all food stuffs, and more especially of bread and flour.

A holiday was granted in the afternoon. (more…)

We all need so much help in this troublous time

The vicar of Maidenhead St Luke urged parishioners to commit themselves to God, with the usual Lent self-denial double by the nation’s needs.

Dear Friends and Parishioners, –

The Lenten Season calls us as Church-people to make sacrifices, even of innocent pleasures, so that we may by self-discipline train ourselves to be soldiers of Jesus Christ. The Nation this Spring reinforces the call of the Church. Let us each make up our mind to forego some luxury or pleasure, young and old alike. One may give up sugar, another beer or whiskey, another tobacco, another dancing, another perhaps entertainments. All of these seem trivial things, but I suppose little things are harder to forego than great… And prayer and worship are called for…

May I ask all who can do so – and many can find time if they try – to come to one or other week-day Service, as a definite act of trust in God, Whose help we all need so much in this troublous time, both for ourselves, and for those we love in hardship and danger overseas. We have only arranged three special Services for Men at present, on account of the stress of the war. I hope they will be well attended. The Friday-afternoon services will, we trust, meet specially the needs of the older members of the congregation, to whom darkness is an obstacle. The Wednesday-night Services at 8, and the Friday War Intercession at 7 will, I earnestly hope, be made use of by very many.

If any require an object for their self-denial, I can suggest two: first a Church one – the Free Will Offering Fund, which much needs new members; secondly a State one – War Saving Certificates…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

A little Belgian girl dances the hornpipe

A young refugee had learnt English folk dances in her time in Berkshire.

CHRISTMAS SOCIAL.

On Wednesday, Jan. 5th, the usual Christmas Social was held in the Brownlow Hall at 7 o’clock. The dancing in the hall was varied by songs given by Mr. Thompson, who sang comic songs by Mr. Harry Lauder and others, also by the old English horn-pipe dance, remarkably well danced by a little Belgian girl, Angele Derboven.

Warfield section of the Winkfield District Magazine, February 1916 D/P151/28A/8/2

May Day celebrations in Earley

Earley schoolchildren did not forgo their idyllic spring festivities on May Day, but they supplemented the maypole, country dances and crowning a May Queen with a collection for Reading War Hospital.

30th April 1915

As May 1st comes on a Saturday this year, the May Day celebration took place today. The usual lessons were discontinued at 3 pm, & the children adjourned to the playground, where, in the presence of 300 parents & friends, May Marshall (previously chosen by lot) was crowned May Queen by Miss King. The following programme was the gone through:

Programme
Song “Welcome, welcome lovely May”
Country dance “Gathering Peascods”
Country dance “Hey Boys”
Song “Come Lassies & Lads”
Plating of maypole
Morris dance “Laudnum Bunches”
Country dance “Hyde Park”
Infants’ Game “Looby Loo”
Country dance “None such”
Song “Come ye young men”
Morris dance “Rigs o’ Marlow”
Country dance “Lord of Caernarvon’s Jig”
Country dance “Newcastle”
Infants’ dance “Corkscrew”
Song “Now is the month of Maying”
Country dance “If all the world were Paper”
Country dance “Old Mole”
Infants’ dance “Sir Roger de Coverley”
Country dance “Sellenger’s Round”
God save the King

A collection among the spectators at the end of the performance amounted to [blank], which was given to the funds of the Reading War Hospital.

Earley CE School logbook (SCH36/8/3)

It’s a long long way to Tipperary … from Newbury

Girls attending a youth club at St Nicolas’ Church in Newbury put on a concert to entertain Belgian refugees. It isn’t clear if the ‘Tipperary’ mentioned is the famous ‘It’s A Long Long Way To Tipperary’, which was very popular during the war, or another popular song of the period also called ‘Tipperary’.

Social Evening for the Belgians
On December 16th, the members of the Girls’ Club invited some of our Belgian guests to an Entertainment in the Parish Room. Thanks to Mr.Stillman, a splendid stage was provided with first-rate lights. The first part of the programme was undertaken by the Ladies of the Thatcham Fruit and Flower Farm, whose charming rendering of “Dresden China,” with its stately dance was loudly encored. They also gave some French and English songs, and Miss I. Flint contributed a Violoncello solo. Mr. Witts’ “Tipperary” raised rounds of applause, the chorus apparently equally well known to both English and Belgians. The Evening closed with the singing of the English and Belgian National Anthems.

Newbury parish magazine, January 1915 (D/P89/28A/13)

Miserable digs – but song and dance by the keenest soldier enlivens life

Percy tells his sister some of the lighter side of army life.

St Albans
Oct. 22.14

My dear Florrie

… Last night I learned that Dean Bleaken does not arrive until the 28th. By then I should have commenced my training, and have more regular hours than at present, which will enable me I hope to use Mr Image’s introduction. It will be rather funny if I meet our Brigade Major there. His name is Capt. Shenton of the Somerset Light Infantry. A fine fellow with a most musical voice. He is apparently a great friend of Canon Glossop here, so it is quite possible that I may therefore meet my Brigade Major outside the office later on.

I expect to change my billet on Saturday (of this I will give you prompt notice) as the condition of affairs where I am is too miserable and hopeless for words, so do not write to me at the above address after you receive this until I write again.

Every other night I am sleeping at the Brigade office, so that, in the event of a night alarm there will be an intelligent fellow here to get the Brigade together!!

There are all sorts of rumours as to our next move, but I really don’t think anyone knows what is going to happen to us. Probably it will depend upon how the war goes, and if it goes favourably, I don’t suppose we shall see foreign soil this side of Christmas.

I dare say you know, the men of this Brigade belong to the lower classes of South London. There is a sprinkling of swells and decent fellows, but mainly they are rough – very rough.

One fellow, “Dave” is a hefty baker’s lad for whom I already have a great fondness. As Capt. Holliday says, no matter what you ask him to do, he’ll have a dart for it – he’s a kind of Horace, only much more boyish. If he hasn’t anything to do, he’ll find a job. Today I found him voluntarily scrubbing the doors and paint generally, just to pass the time away, pausing now and then to execute a vigorous sand dance to the music hall ditty he was singing in the real Bermondsey style.

Now I am just off to try and fix up my new diggings, so I’ll say good night.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to his siter Florence (D/EZ177/7/3/13-14)

A Belgian Day of sports and fun in Stratfield Mortimer

The parishioners of Stratfield Mortimer continued to warmly support their allocation of Belgian refugees. In the October issue of the parish magazine, they announced a special fundraising day on their guests’ behalf:

Belgian Refugees
The needs of the homeless refugees from Belgium, much or all of whose belongings has been deliberately and wantonly destroyed by savage malice, have touched all hearts. With a view to assisting in the task of providing them with necessary clothing, it is proposed to set on foot immediately a Sewing Party. This will meet in St John’s Hall on Wednesdays, October 7th, 21st, and 28th, from 2.30-5 p.m. Some invitations have been sent out individually, but Mrs. Palmer, who will be leader, hopes that all who have leisure and goodwill, and who are efficient workers, will come whether a separate invitation has reached them or not.

A “Belgian Day”
Now both of these excellent enterprises will devour a considerable quantity of material, and that material will need to be of good quality, for no one wants to make cheap or trumpery things when it is the winter that has to be faced. Whence then the wherewithal for the purchase of half-a-mile of flannel? and, shall we say, a hundred-weight of wool for knitting? A partial answer may come by the holding of a “Belgian Day”. What is a Belgian Day? It is a day when everybody, man, woman, and child, car and horse and dog, is to be cajoled into wearing a favour showing the Belgian colours, which favour is to be purchased at the price of – well, at some price that we can all afford to give; which price goes to the purchase of material for the sewing parties. Maidenhead made £300 this way a few days ago. Reading is determined to out-do this on September 26th. Let us take Saturday, October 3rd, and try to raise £10. Will you be willing to buy and wear a favour or two on that day?

The November issue of the magazine reported on the success of that Belgian Day:

Belgian Day – On Saturday, October 3rd, we held our Belgian Day in Mortimer, and all the people were very busy making “favours”, which nearly all the parishioners wore. Captain Davis decided to give the school children a treat, and the Headmaster (Mr. Andrews) of St. Mary’s School decided we should go in a procession round the village, those who had bicycles of perambulators decorated them, and the best decorated vehicle won a prize. We met at school at two o’clock and marched up to St. John’s School to meet the infants. Mr. Spratley kindly lent us his light van, which we decorated, and sat up the smallest of the children. When we arrived down in the meadow (kindly lent by Mr. Wise) two soldiers were waiting to greet us with a bag of sweets.

There were all kinds of sports, bowling for the pig, which was won by Mr. John Love, and the best decorated bicycle was won by Florence Tubb. Then the soldiers had a tug of war, Mortimer v. Bramley, Stratfield Saye v. “Irish King’s Own”. Mortimer won, and each of the men received a beautiful leather purse. Then between the men’s tug-of-war, 12 girls v. 8 boys, and the girls won. Later on, about seven o’clock, the prizes were distributed (Mrs. Mynors kindly distributed them), and those girls who took part in the tug-of-war received a beautiful handkerchief, it resembled the Union Jack. Then the soldiers danced, and one played a concertina, and while they were dancing another party got ready the camp fire, and the soldiers sang such songs as “It’s a long way to Tipperary,” and “The girl in the clogs and shawl.” When it got darker the soldiers made ready the imitations of the Crown Prince and the Kaiser, stuffed them with all kinds of fireworks, and set light to them. The people watched them burn with excitement. I am sure the school children enjoyed themselves as well as the soldiers. We all thank Captain Davis for the trouble he has taken.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, October and November 1914 (D/P120/28A/14)