Another opportunity of setting foot on English soil

A soldier celebrated Empire Day with his wedding to an old friend.

MARRIAGE

On Saturday, May 24th, two of our old Sunday Scholars were married in our Church by the Pastor. We refer to Mr R B (“Dick”) Wilkins and Miss Rosina Blake. The bridegroom has been for some years away from Tilehurst, having been in residence in Canada, but on the outbreak of war he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and in the course of his career as a soldier he gained another opportunity of setting foot on English soil.

By a curious coincidence it was “Empire Day” when he enlisted, “Empire Day” again when he first crossed to France, and yet again “Empire Day” when he entered upon married life. The wedding was quite a simple ceremony, marked by earnestness and sincerity, and the large congregation was ample evidence to the young couple of the good wishes which they were receiving from many friends.

We trust that the demands of military service will soon cease in Mr Wilkins’s case, and that he and his wife will be able to settle happily in their far off home across the seas. They know we all wish them the very best…

Tilehurst section of Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, July 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

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Demobilised & returning to-morrow to the West Indies

1919
May 26

M L Simpson granted leave of absence for the morning, to spend it with her fiancé, who has been demobilised & is returning to-morrow to the West Indies.

Log book of St Stephen’s Girls’ School, Clewer (88/SCH/23/5)

A special word to say to the men whom we are all so glad to see back

Reading servicemen were welcomed back to church.

SERVICE of thanksgiving for safe return from war

All Service men and their friends are invited to a service of thanksgiving for safe return, which will be held in St John’s Church on Sunday evening, May 18th, at 6.30. Notices of the service will be sent out throughout the parish, but it will be a great help if readers of the magazine will also make it known… The service will be of a simple hearty character. Special hymns will be sung and special prayers and thanksgivings offered, and the vicar will have a special word to say to the men whom we are all so glad to see back.

Reading St. John parish magazine, May 1919 (D/P172/28A/24)

A cross on the highest point

Suggestions were made for an Ascot war memorial.

WAR MEMORIAL

My dear rector, various suggestions have been made with regard to a War Memorial for Ascot, and it appears desirable that a Public Meering should be arranged for some evening in May when the whole question could be discussed, and a Committee formed.

I know you have been waiting for older residents to take the lead, feeling that it is a local, and not an Ecclesiastical matter; and I now write not as Churchwarden, but as the originator of the Ascot Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Committee.

Amongst the suggestions are:-

1. A Village Cross, with the names of those who have fallen inscribed on the base, to be erected on some suitable site such as (a) the triangular piece of waste at the four cross roads opposite the Royal Hotel; (b) on the highest point of the heath.

2. A Mortuary Chapel in the Ascot Burial Ground in the Priory Road, such a Chapel being urgently required.

3. A tablet in the Church bearing the names of all who have fallen in the war. This might be put up, either by itself, or in connection with the Mortuary Chapel, or as may be desired.

It is hoped that there may be a large gathering at the Meeting, and that especially those who have lost relations in the war, and Sailors and Soldiers who have served will attend, as the question should be widely discussed, so that all may take a share in the project as finally arranged.

Yours Sincerely

W. H. Tottie.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, May 1919 (D/P 151/28A/11/5)

A social evening for soldiers and sailors

7 May 1919

A social evening was held by the members of the HWI on Wednesday May 7th at the Girls; School to entertain the soldiers & sailors who had returned from serving with the colours.

Hurst WI minutes (D/EX1925/33/1/1)

Special classes for soldiers

Students were getting back to normal on leaving the army.

MAIDENHEAD TECHNICAL INSTITUTE

The Sub-committee understand that the Technical Institute will probably be evacuated by the Red Cross Hospital authorities shortly…

EVENING CLASSES

In a circular letter, the Board of Education urge the importance of the resumption of the part of this work which was curtailed owing to the war and of its further development at the earliest possible date.

The Sub-committee have not found it possible to resuscitate any of the closed classes this session but have made provision in the estimates for increasing the number of classes next session.

ARMY EDUCATION

In connexion with the scheme for Army Education, the Sub-committee have been asked to arrange special classes for soldiers at Windsor and these have been duly held. The whole of the cost is payable by the War Office.

COUNTY SCHOLARSHIPS

The Sub-committee have allowed B L James (3rd year Senior Scholar), who was released from the Army in January to resume his Senior Scholarship at the Newbury Grammar School for the remainder of its period.

M G Hyder, who was granted a Supplementary County Scholarship in 1916, has been released from the Army, and took up his Scholarship at Keble College, Oxford, as from the commencement of the Lent Term.

The Sub-committee have renewed the Scholarship of E H Austin (who has also been released from the Army) at the University College, Reading, until the end of the Summer Term.

Report of Higher Education Sub-committee to Berkshire Education Committee, 3 May 1919, in Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/22)

“I am afraid he will not stay”

Postwar wages had not kept up with price rises.

Ap 29th

Visit of Charles and Cecil Burningham who have just been demobilised, and Robert Tompkins and Leslie Booth who were demobilised some time ago.

New scale of salaries came from Office, but teachers are not very satisfied. Mr Robbins has £142.10s which he says is not enough, and I am afraid he will not stay.

St Mary’s CE School, Speenhamland (C/EL119/3)

A welcome to returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen of the Parish

Church of England Men’s Society

On April 29th, the CEMS decided to arrange a welcome to returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen of the Parish, on the Vicarage Lawn on Saturday, June 14th. It is hoped to have a concert, a band, and light refreshments.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, May 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)

Still alive but no chance of getting home yet

Farrier Harry Blackall had been co-opted by the army. His wife passed on news of him to her in-laws.

27/4/19
8 Lowestoft St
Swindon

Dear Mother, Father & Nellie

I am glad to tell you I had a letter from [her husband] Harry yesterday, he says he is still alive but no chance of getting home yet. Too much to do, he is fed up. He has got 140 horses & mules to keep shod. He is the only man left in his unit. All others were applied for [by their employers] and got home now. There are no shoes left, but he hopes when they get to Constantinople there will be a few stray ones about. They are moving in a day or so.

He sent me his photo. He looks very old and thin & worried, poor fellow. I wish he was home, it’s no joke being left all this time alone…

I remain your loving [illegible] Judy

Letter to the Blackall family of Cane End, Caversham, from their daughter in law (D/EX1485/2/16)

The first claim upon our offerings before even War Memorials

Parochial Church Councils, still the central meeting for all Anglican churches, were a post-war innovation.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners…

On Easter Tuesday [22 April] at 8 pm the Easter Vestry will be held in the Parish Room at the Vicarage; it will be followed immediately by the Easter Meeting of Parochial Church Electors. I hope for a very good muster at the Meeting, as if enough support is given, we hope to start a Parochial Church Council for this Parish. The Councillors would have to be Communicants, the Electors have to be confirmed and eligible for Holy Communion. If we decide, now our Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen are many of them home again, to form such a Council, the Election would probably be held at a later date, probably early in May. The Council, like the Sub-Council or Church Committee at St Paul’s, would probably consist of men and women in equal numbers, but the Clergy and Churchwardens would sit ex-officio. It has been suggested that it might be a good thing if the various Church organisations were asked to nominate Candidates. For example, the Choir, Sidesmen, CEMS, Mothers’ Union, Sunday School Teachers, etc, might propose names. In this way we should get a Council that, while we hope it would still be ornamental, would also be useful. Please think this plan over.

Lastly, may I press on you the urgent need of supporting the Free-Will Offering Fund for the maintenance of the Assistant Clergy. We have (may I say what they cannot say?) most earnest and capable shepherds and priests in Mr King-Gill and Mr Thurland; but quite apart from any question of personal excellences, the first claim upon our offerings before even War Memorials or Parish Organisations is the proper support of the Ministry. I try to do what I can personally, sometimes I have to do rather more than I can afford. May I, therefore, with clean hands, urge upon every Communicant and regular worshipper the need, not so much of a large as a regular contribution to the Free-Will Offering Funds…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar,

C E M Fry

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, April 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)

“I trust there are many amongst those now returned from Active Service who are hoping to make their Easter Communion”

Soldiers were welcomed back to church.

The Vicar’s Letter

I trust there are many amongst those now returned from Active Service who are hoping to make their Easter Communion. I propose to have a Service of Preparation for any such on the Thursday in Holy Week, April 17th, at 8 p.m., gladly of course welcoming any other men, old or young, who may like to join us.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, April 1919 (D/P43B/28A/11)

“The imperfect supervision of the weak-minded, which has been one of the consequences of the War, may lead to a great national disaster”

Attitudes towards people with learning difficulties 100 years ago may seem uncomfortable today.

Report of Mental Deficiency Act Committee, 12 April 1919

The committee have received an important circular from the Board of Control, dated 8th March 1919, from which the following paragraphs are extracted:
“…
The Mental Deficiency Act had only been in operation for a few months when the outbreak of War and the concentration of the national energies and resources on War activities seriously hampered its administration. It is now of the first importance that full effect shall be given to its provisions….

The demobilisation of the Army and the return of industry to its normal course will bring serious dangers to light. So far as males are concerned, the majority of the mentally unfit have, during the War, been left amongst the general population, or have been discharged to civil life after a brief Army experience, as unfit to stand the strains of War. A fair percentage of these are congenital defectives whose potentialities for reproduction are unimpaired, and whose inability to perform the duties of parenthood properly is admitted. For this reason, and also as a precaution against the possible risk of transmission to their progeny of the parental defect, every effort should be made to deal promptly with such of them as become liable to be dealt with under the Mental Deficiency Act. The necessity for the existence of adequate measures for the protection of young defective women, on demobilisation, is obvious. Many such, owing to the present scarcity of labour, are now employed, but they will be the first to receive discharge, and the first to be thrown on their own resources, when more efficient labour is available, and the demand for female employment is reduced.

There is unfortunately no doubt that the imperfect supervision of the weak-minded, which has been one of the consequences of the War, has resulted in a substantial increase of venereal disease among the population, and that the provision of effective control is an essential and urgent step needed to avert a great national disaster…

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/22)

“During the past four years I have worked as hard as ever I did in my life”

Life was getting back to normal.

Apr 11th

Mr Robbins has completed his first week’s work since his demobilisation. It has been a very great help to have him back, for during the past four years I have worked as hard as ever I did in my life. Already he has begun with the sports and introduced Rugby football, and in other ways has helped me with work I have hitherto been unable to do.

St Mary’s CE School, Speenhamland (C/EL119/3)

The men of the Berkshire Regiments are welcomed home

It was an exciting day.

11th April 1919

There were a good few children absent on Tuesday because they had gone into the town to see the men of the Berkshire Regiments welcomed home.

Reading: Battle Infants School log book (SCH20/8/2, p. 332)

Pleasure in seeing the men safe home again and good wishes to them on their return to civilian life

Hundreds of Reading men received a warm welcome home.

April

WELCOME HOME TO SOLDIERS AND SAILORS

A list of between 300 and 400 demobilised men resident in the parish or attached to the congregations has now been compiled. To each of these men a letter of welcome from the vicar is being delivered, and also an invitation to a social gathering of welcome for themselves and their wives, which is being held in St John’s Institute on April 9th. Refreshments will be provided and an attractive programme of music and recitations, and the vicar will express in a short speech his own pleasure and that of the parish in seeing the men safe home again and all our good wishes to them on their return to civilian life. Later, a service of thanksgiving for safe return will be held in St John’s Church: the date will be announced at the social meeting. There are still a great many men who have not yet returned to their homes. We shall always be glad to receive notifications of their arrival, and shall hope later on to arrange a second welcome home meant for the men who come later, and for any who may have been left out inadvertently from the present invitation.


May

WELCOME MEETING TO SOLDIERS AND SAILORS.

The first welcome home to Service men held on April 9th, was voted by all concerned a very great success. A good crowd of men accepted the Vicar’s invitation and duly turned up at the Institute accompanied by their wives, or mothers, or future wives, and there was a full house. The catering, looked after by Miss Simmons, was excellently carried out and full justice was done to the good things provided. After the tea and coffee and sandwiches had been disposed of, cigarettes and tobacco were passed round, and also sweets for the ladies, and the guests settled down to enjoy a programme remarkable for the variety and the excellence of its items. Perhaps the most popular number was that contributed by the infants from S. Stephen’s School. The little people presented ‘Nursery Rhymes’ in costume and with appropriate music. They received a tremendous ovation.

Now the welcome is over we are hearing of several men who were overlooked in the invitations. We can only say that we did our level best to compile a complete list of all returned men, and that no one was left out except by the veriest accident. We shall hope to have another welcome gathering soon for men coming home later; and shall be glad if friends would send in to the Vicarage the names of all men who were overlooked on the last occasion and also of all who have returned since.


Reading St. John parish magazine, April and May 1919 (D/P172/28A/24)