“A great want of confidence in Politicians, the War Office and the judgments of Tribunals”

Members of Reading’s Dodeka Club discussed the thorny question of conscription. The evening’s host was considering whether it was time for him to join up voluntarily.

The 282nd meeting of the club was held at Goodenough’s on March 2nd, 1917.

… Gibbons introduced a friend, Lt de Villiers…

…After refreshments the host suggested as a commencement for discussion the question of “National Service”, and pointed out that he personally was requiring advice as to the advisability of volunteering. The experience gained after the Military Service Act and the Derby Scheme gave one a great want of confidence in Politicians, the War Office and the judgments of Tribunals. The host feeling great doubt in his mind as to whether justice would be done to the great body of business men in the country.

Penfold started the ball rolling in the discussion, by asking if members were liable to prosecution under the Defence of the Realm Regulations, should any decision be arrived at, a military representative being present. Some discussion then took place regarding the action of Tribunals, the necessity or otherwise of National Service, compulsion and reduction of the number of shopkeepers. A very pleasant evening was concluded with some submarine stories of a rather fishy nature and a pun relating to Bagged Dads by Gibbons.

Dodeka Book Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)

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“His life was too soon done”

A Cranbourne schoolmaster who had taken an active role in the life of the local church before joining the army was killed.

It is with the deepest regret we have to record the death of our friend, Private William Dowell.

He came to us in February, 1913, with a record of many examinations passed with honours and much more good work in former schools. He at once began to take an active part in our parochial life, proving himself a most loyal friend and helper to the Vicar. He was a regular communicant and taught in the Sunday School, and gained the sincere regard of the children. As leader of our “Study Circle” he distinctly made his mark, with great knowledge of the Bible, he spared no pains in preparing the subjects for discussion at the meetings of the circle; with great ability he started the discussions, and his summary of them in the minute book was a model of what such a record should be.

He joined under the Derby scheme on February 29th, 1916, and trained in the Wiltshires and was transported to the Somerset Light Infantry. We had hoped to see him back among us after the war, and it was a great shock to all of us to hear that he had been killed at the front on September 16th. We all, Teachers, Managers, Members of the C.E.M.S., Children and Vicar deeply mourn his loss. We will remember him always in our prayers.

R.I.P.

“To us it seemed his life was too soon done,
Ended, indeed, while scarcely yet begun;
God, with His clearer vision saw that he
Was ready for a larger ministry.”

Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, October 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/10)

Difficulties for the Lunatic Asylum due to this terrible war

The annual report of Berkshire Lunatic Asylum (later Fair Mile Hospital, Cholsey) for 1915/16 shows the impact of the war in that institution. The hospital was the home, temporary or permanent, of the mentally ill in Berkshire.

The number of patients in the Asylum on March 31st, 1915, was 402 males, 467 females, total 860. These numbers include 60 patients received from the West Sussex Asylum, at Chichester, on this Asylum being vacated for uses as a Military Hospital… During the year … 30 patients [were] received on February 21st from the Middlesex County Asylum, at Napsbury, on its being taken over by the War Office….

Dr S E Holder, the Second Assistant Medical Officer, left on April 28th, 1915, to take up military medical duties. The vacancy has not been filled…. There has been a marked shortage amongst the male staff in all departments, the result of enlistments for active service. Every eligible man for military service attested under the Derby Scheme. The Committee appreciate with what willingness those remaining have successfully overtaken the extra duties imposed upon them.

In view of the risks incurred the Committee deemed it advisable to insure the buildings and furnishings against damage from aircraft….
The Committee desire to state their appreciation of the energetic and ables services of Dr Murdoch, the Medical Superintendent, who, in common with the other officers of the Asylum, has had additional duties thrust upon him during this war time. Dr Murdoch has coped with the difficulties which have arisen owing to this terrible war in a very satisfactory way, and has cheerfully carried out the wishes of the committee.

Annual report of Committee of Visitor of Berkshire Lunatic Asylum, 31 March 1916, in BCC minutes (C/CL/C1/1/19)

The Germans’ well laid plans

Ralph Glyn’s parents both wrote to him in Egypt after a visit to the Wake family at Courteenhall, whose father had just died. Joan (1884-1974), one of the sisters of Sir Hereward (1876-1963) mentioned here, was to become a pioneering archivist. One of the Wakes claimed to have evidence that the German invasion of Belgium had been long planned in advance. The Enver referred to is Ismail Enver Pasha (1881-1922), the Turkish Minister of War who had led that country into alliance with Germany and was responsible for the Armenian Holocaust of 1915.

March 21st 1916

Yesterday we went to Courteenhall and had a cosy hour & more with the dear people. It is good to know that Hereward wishes his mother & sisters to remain on. He has bought a house in London, & is now going back to the front as Lt Colonel, on OGS 1st Grade & will be with General Mackenzie’s Division. He goes about end of April, & he is now at Aldershot taking up his new work. Ida is to be his agent for Northants property, assisted by a good bailiff, & he has secured a good man for the Essex property who can always advise Ida when necessary. Phyllis is back at work nursing at Abbeville. Joan is at home helping all round. Lady Wake pays rent, & keeps up the house…

There is a most interesting & amusing nephew of Lady Wake’s in this Hotel, a Major Wake who has seen all sorts of service in E Africa, Egypt and Ulster!! And in between a recruiting job at home & Ulster he fought [for?] Turk against Italy! While so employed he shared a tent with 3 German officers who told him their well laid plans exactly! Even to the breaking through Belgium to destroy France, knowing her Vosges defences were too strong for other swift accomplishment of victory – but France destroyed, they would take us and Holland on – no wish to destroy either as all Teutonic peoples should come into the Zollverein which would then rule the world. Our practicality was required to wed with their “idealism”, & when this union was complete “we” would together be invincible. They said they liked us, but as long as we were separate they could not do anything, & must always come up against us. They expected all their colonies to be taken, but then at the crisis our Fleet was to be destroyed, & then they would regain their colonies & seize all ours. All this was described with perfect freedom to the English soldiers, and the answer to his enquiry “What do you wish to do with us”. They said this was all open unconcealed knowledge, and that we had such a wretched Government we would never fight, & though our Govt knew they would not prepare, so the thing was “fait accompli”. (more…)

There are now very few indeed of military age who have not offered their services

Many men in Winkfield had responded to the renewed call for volunteers. Sir Thomas Berney (1893-1975), who actually lived in Norfolk, had been educated in Berkshire, at Wellington College.

PARISH NOTES

Lieut. Sir Thomas Berney has left England for the East. We trust that he, together with the now large number of our men at the front, will be remembered in our daily prayers.

Cecil Hayes-Sadler has received a well earned commission after 15 months good service as a despatch rider at the front. He obtained a few days leave home, but has now returned again to duty.

Lord Derby’s campaign for fresh recruits has met with a good response in our parish, and we believe there are now very few indeed of military age who have not offered their services. Some have been refused on medical grounds and some are waiting to be called up when their turn comes, but the following have been accepted for immediate service and have joined their regiments:-

Joseph Church, Royal Field Artillery
Daniel Taylor, Royal Garrison Artillery
Sydney Thurmer, Royal Garrison Artillery
Fred Thurmer, Royal Berks Regiment
Henry Oatway, Royal Engineers
Earnest Woodage, King’s Royal Rifles.

Privates Walter Woodage, Henry Rixon and Wallace Nickless have been wounded, but we are glad to be able to report that they are all doing well, and making a good recovery.

Lance-Corporal Charles Reed has been slightly wounded and is now home for a short rest and change.

We congratulate Lance-Corporal R. Nickless on attaining the rank of full Corporal, and Private Wallace Nickless on his promotion to Lance-Corporal.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, December 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/12)

Pray for a deepened sense of national unity

The Mayor of Newbury (Frank Bazett, a local solicitor) led the way in volunteering for the armed forces as the war’s second Christmas approached.

It is rather difficult this year to look forward as we ought to do to Christmas: there is so much to sadden the gladness of the festival…

The following subjects for Intercession are taken from the Bishop’s Message in the November number of the Diocesan Magazine.

Your prayers are specially asked:

For our country and our government in the present crisis.
For the maintenance of our courage and faith.
For a deepened sense of national unity and mutual understanding between capital and labour.
For those from the Diocese who are serving as chaplains in the Fleet and the Army.
For the remnant of the Armenian nation….

May we be permitted to congratulate the Mayor of Newbury for his patriotic action in joining His Majesty’s Forces, and that at considerable sacrifice, thus setting a good example for other men to follow.

Lord Derby’s recruiting scheme has resulted in a number of young men enlisting from Newbury, and doubtless there are others who will go. Among those who have been accepted are Mr G P Hopson, Mr A Hill, Mr L Cramp, and Mr R J Drewell, four of our servers, and Mr Winkworth, a member of the Men’s Bible Class. Mr G L Pyke has been rejected on account of his eyes, his brother, Mr Cecil Pyke, one of our Sunday School teachers, has been accepted for service at home, and Mr R Bell has been rejected. All honour to those who have tried as well as to those who have been accepted, for they have shown their willingness to serve their country in her need.

May we ask relatives for any interesting news about men at the Front, for insertion in the Parish Magazine.

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