A troublesome foot

A wounded Reading man was released from the army, although he would face a long struggle ahead.

Khaki Chat

Leslie Smith (ex-sergeant) has now received his discharge from the Army, and since arriving home has entered No.1 War Hospital, where the troublesome foot has undergone one more operation. With what success it is impossible yet to say, but Leslie is cheerful and well in himself.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, November 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

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The great sacrifice

Crazies Hill Notes

So far as we have observed the following from our list of those serving King and Country have been home on leave recently and it gave us great pleasure to welcome them:

Henry Doe, Hubert and Walter Denton, Tom Silver, Joseph Kimble, Jesse Waldron, Sam, Jim, David and Tom Weller.

Charles Ellison Woodward is a first-class wireless operator on a patrol yacht and not on a mine-sweeper as stated in our last issue.

Much sympathy is felt for Willie Denton who had a leg amputated owing to wounds and is now in Netley Hospital. He was a faithful member of our choir, and when home on leave some time ago he took his place in the choir as usual and we were all so glad to see him back. To his father and relatives as well as to himself we offer our sincere sympathy.

Hare Hatch

The deepest sympathy of a large circle of friends is felt for Mr. and Mrs. Sharp, whose son Valentin was killed at Salonica, on September 28th.

The Commanding Officer states: “We looked upon him not so much as a comrade but as a brother, he was greatly loved by the whole company.”

Valentine served at Gallipoli until he was wounded when, after a short period of convalescence at home, he was sent to Salonica where he has made the great sacrifice. This second bereavement has called forth the deepest sympathy for the family. We trust they will be supported and comforted by our prayers in the hour of trial.

Wargrave parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

The provision of light employment for discharged partially disabled men incapable of doing a full day’s work

The Disablements Sub-committee of the Berkshire War Pensions Committee reported on training programmes for disabled ex-soldiers, who faced an uncertain future.

The Disablements Sub-committee beg to report that the two schemes for training at Basildon and Windsor have now been approved by the Pensions Minister, with the exception of boot-making at Basildon, which is only provisionally sanctioned. The gardening course at Windsor has been extended from six to twelve months for suitable cases. Both schemes are now in full operation. Since the last meeting the Royal Warrant of April 1917 for treatment and training has come into force, payments being made under it as from 23 July 1917.

A list of hospitals throughout the county where treatment can be obtained for discharged men has been sent forward for approval to the Pensions Minister, also a special application for further necessary accommodation for out-patient treatment at King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor, to enable the authorities of that hospital to provide orthopaedic treatment for discharged disabled men within a radius of ten miles of that hospital. A special request was also put forward as regards the lack of hospital facilities in parts of North Berkshire, especially in the Wallingford District. It is proposed to formulate a scheme to include all facilities and arrangements for medical treatment and submit it as a whole for the approval of the Pensions Minister.

The National Health Insurance Commissioners have made new arrangements in respect of medical benefit for all discharged soldiers and sailors invalided from the Service, and have included those whose incomes do not exceed £160 per annum. Medical Practitioners are required to report to the Insurance Committee as to any special treatment to be provided by the Disablements Committee under the arrangements above alluded to. The scheme will also provide for any treatment recommended by a medical board for a man after his discharge, or for any man for whom treatment is recommended at the time of his discharge from the service by his invaliding board.

Instructions having been received from the Pensions Minister that discharged men who are not in receipt of a pension owing to the disability for which they were discharged not being considered attributable or aggravated by war service have now been afforded facilities for appealing against this decision. Instructions have been issued to all Sub-committees that such cases should be referred to this Committee. Three cases for appeal are coming up shortly for consideration.

The provision of light employment for discharged partially disabled men who are incapable of doing a full day’s work has been considered. A joint public appeal with the County Borough of Reading Committee has been issued through the Press to employers throughout the county for help in this important matter…

During the last three months 643 cases have been entered on the Register, making a total of 1,513 cases. In addition 325 cases (approximately) are being investigated. 512 new cases have been sent out to the various Sub-committees as follows:

Abingdon 34
Easthampstead 20
Faringdon 20
Hungerford 13
Lambourn 5
Maidenhead 72
Newbury 84
Reading Rural 43
Wallingford 27
Wantage 27
Windsor 95
Wokingham 52

220 cases have been considered by the Disablements Committee, treatment in hospital has been arranged for 62 cases, Sanatorium treatment for 7 cases, special training for 23 cases, and a number of men have been placed in employment.

12 November 1917

Berkshire County Council minutes, 1917 (C/CL1/1/21)

Many without legs

A group of wounded servicemen, many of them now permanently disabled, visited Bisham Abbey.

5 November 1917
Wounded arrived about 3 o’clock. Many without legs. Went round house – tea – games. E & I played whist with O’Connor & Puncher – such nice men. Left about 7. Edie came to help as usual.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Adding a name to the list of those of our lads who went out to fight never to return again

Two brothers from Reading had different fates.

Park Church and Institute
Church News

Wilfred Smith

To our great sorrow we have this month to add his name to the list of those of our lads who went out to fight never to return again. Wilfred was killed in action on August 22nd. Unhappily there was a short period of painful suspense before the official news arrived. A letter from a comrade who had been injured by the same shell told how his inquiries as to Wilfred’s fate met with no satisfactory replies, and conveyed the clear impression that its writer suspected that the worst had happened. Following the arrival of that letter came days of silent suffering and fruitless inquiry. Eventually the usual form of announcement from the War Office settled all doubts, and destroyed all hopes. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his father and mother and brothers and sisters. Wilfred belonged to a family that has always been closely identified with Park, and he was one whose pleasing disposition easily won affection. Before joining the Army he was registrar at the Sunday School, and after joining continued to act in that capacity so long as he was about. Some of us will always carry in our minds a picture of him in his Khaki seated at the little table just inside our Hall doors quietly staring at the children’s cards as they arrived on the Sunday afternoon. And we had hoped that this Autumn might see him back there again, and not in his Khaki! But God has opened another door to him, and he has gone where that graciousness of disposition which made him willing to serve while here will be considered of the highest worth. May the Love which has taken him back to itself come very near to those who mourn his loss.

Leslie Smith (Wilfred’s brother) is soon to get his discharge from the army. The wound in his ankle seems to have led to a permanent disability which will rather affect his walking powers. We greatly regret this, but at the same time cannot but be glad that he will soon be back again in safety under the home roof, where no doubt his presence will help to bring comfort and courage.
Mr. Goddard, our Sunday School Secretary, is to our surprise among the wounded. We thought he would never get near the firing line, but he had only been in France quite a short time before he was back again in hospital. He is now in a convalescent camp at Eastbourne, and we are looking forward to a visit from him before long.

It was happy chance which brought the brothers Newey (one from Greece, one from France, and one from a home camp) home on leave together.

Park section of Trinity Congregational Magazine, November 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

“The War still continues, would that it were not so”

Several Newbury men had been reported killed, but those left behind were still keen to support the troops.

The War still continues, would that it were not so. We have suffered several losses lately among the young men in the parish: William James Quinton, of the Gloucester Regiment; Albert James Geater, Royal Berks Regiment; Arthur William Stevens, 1st Devons; Albert Corderoy, Hants Regiment, all killed in France; and William Aldridge, 1st class petty officer, RN, who went down in HMS mine-sweeper Begonia. We offer our sincerest sympathy to the relatives of these brave young men, whom we can ill afford to lose, and we thank God for the example which they have set us.

Harold Hughes, youngest son of Mrs Hughes, of 6, Berkeley Road, has lost a leg in France, and we trust that he will make a good recovery.
We are glad to see Dr Heywood back again in Newbury, after the valuable work which he has been doing at the seat of War.

The Soldiers’ Club at the old “King’s Arms” in the Market Place, has only been used lately very occasionally, because there have been no troops billeted in the town, but we hear that there is the likelihood of 1000 men of the Royal Flying Corps coming to Newbury, and if this does take place we hope to open the Club again, and shall be glad of offers of personal assistance and of subscriptions. The Club, when it was held in other premises, proved a great boon to the men, who thoroughly appreciated the kindness and attention of the ladies who managed it, and gave up so much of their time to it.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

The introduction of compulsory service has rather changed the situation

The parish of Burghfield was keeping track of local men serving in the war.

THE WAR

The Roll of Honour

A list kept by the Rector, of those Burghfield men who since the beginning of the war have laid down their lives for their country and the just cause of the Allies, hangs near the reading-desk in the Church.

The full Roll, including those who have offered and been accepted for immediate or deferred service, is kept up to date by Mr. Willink so far as possible, and hangs in the Church Porch. The introduction of compulsory service has rather changed the situation: but he will be glad to receive names of men not already on the Roll but actually serving, together with the exact title of their ship or unit, also notice of any honours or promotions, wounds or deaths.

The list of wounded is growing long. Happily most cases are light. But it should be known by everybody that any disabled man is entitled to free training, if necessary or possible in some trade, and to be helped in finding employment. Information can be obtained at any Post Office. In cases of delay or difficulty in this matter, or in regard to Pensions or Allowances, applications should be made to the Berkshire War Pensions Committee through Mr. or Mrs Willink, who are on the Reading Rural Sub Committee.

Honours

Colonel Sir Wyndham Murray, of Culverlands, formerly C.B whose distinguished services in past times are well known, has been made K.C.B. He has acted as King’s Messenger during the War, and has repeatedly visited the front. He and Lady Murray have also received certain Japanese decorations.

Captain G. O. W. Willink was mentioned in Despatches in May, and has just been awarded the Military Cross for distinguished conduct in August. He has commanded “A” Coy in the 2/4 R. Berks Regt. Since he went out in July 1916, and has seen service in many parts of the line in France and Flanders.

Burghfield parish magazine, October 1917 (D/EX725/4)

“We have lost another of our lads”

Many young Ascot men had paid the ultimate price, or suffered life changing injuries.

We are sorry to say that we have lost another of our lads, Stephen J. Bennett, or the Royal Engineers. He was a member of the Church Lads’ Brigade, and was due home, after eighteen months at the Front, for leave, when he fell, and may he rest.

Albert Victor Cook, of the Yorkshire Light Infantry, also fell on April 9th.

Many others from our parish have been wounded, and two have been discharged, crippled.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, September 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/9)

The wounded are mostly doing well

There was news for many Reading families.

The Vicar’s Notes
Intercessions

For God’s blessing on S. Mary’s Dedication Festival.
For all our fighting men (especially among the wounded), Charles Woodman (suffering from shell-shock), Alfred Stanbridge, and William Yellen.
For George Patrick Wickham Legg, who has just joined the Army.
For the fallen, especially Reginald Martin, one of the Bible class, killed by a sniper in France; Willie Healey (of Cherry Court), R.I.P.

Thanksgiving
For the granting of the Military Medal to Frederick Nunn (Hope Street)

S. Saviour’s District
Roll of Honour

The names of those from the district who have fallen in this War are now placed in the Church, on a framed roll kindly presented by Mrs Ward. Crucifix, brass candlesticks, vases for flowers, and all kind gifts, are placed with the roll of honour, on the prayer desk near the Chapel. John Warren Wells, one of the latest names, was killed on April 28th. He had been thrice wounded, and was granted the Military Cross posthumously.

Wounded

We regret to hear that George Jacobs has been obliged to have his left foot amputated. The operation fortunately seems to have been successful.

Among those recently wounded are Thomas Howarth, Albert William Shillingford, and Leonard Lee. We are glad to hear the wounded are mostly doing well.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, September 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

“Many of us feel there is a reasonable hope of a termination of hostilities before Christmas”

An army chaplain with links to Mortimer shares details of his life in Normandy.

Mr Bowden writes:-

Dear Vicar,

It is a long time since I sent a contribution to the Magazine, not that I have forgotten Mortimer but I have so little of interest to relate. My work is now in the docks area – I have charge of No. 2 General Hospital, on the quay alongside which the hospital ships lie and take in the wounded direct from the trains to convey them to Southampton. Any cases which prove too bad for the boat journey we take in to our hospital which is directly over the railway station, and occasionally we get a train load for treatment at No. 2. We have three very fine, airy wards; and a broad balcony facing the sea runs the whole length of the hospital; in the summer we place many beds out there – the men love to be in the open air and watch the shipping and the aircraft. The hospital commands a fine view of the town on one side and the mouth of the Seine with Trouville and Honfleur on the other.

In addition to hospital work I have some 1,500 Army Ordnance and 650 Army Service Corps men to work amongst. These are busy on the docks all day long but can be seen in the Recreation Huts and in their billets in the evening and at meal times.

There are plenty of amusements provided for them – some sort of entertainment almost every night. We also have recently acquired a recreation ground for their use and a cricket ground as well as a tennis court for officers and N.C.O.’s.

It might be of interest if I give my Sunday programme – I start early with a Celebration of Holy Communion at 6 a.m. for the A.O.D. in a little chapel near their quarters – another celebration at 7 a.m. for the hospital staff in a hut on the quay. This is always followed by a series of private Communions to sick men and officers in the various wards and huts; [sic] then back to breakfast. I used to have a Parade Service at 10-30 for the R.A.M.C. but have dropped it as it was an inconvenient time for the men. At 11-30 we have a Parade Service for the A.O.D. in one of the warehouses on the docks – the men climb up on the boxes all round a space left for the purpose – we have a good choir, an hearty service, and then the men go straight off to their dinner at noon, or soon after.

Then I have nothing till 5-15 when I hold Ward Services in hospital – these are very much appreciated by the patients and are of an informal nature as all denominations join in. The men love singing hymns and the Sisters come and help form a choir. At 7 p.m. we are now having open-air services in the A.S.C. camp on the river front between the docks and hospital. Here the men are mostly getting on in years – I believe the average age is about 42 – All younger men have long since been sent “up the line.” Of course a large portion of both A.S.C. and A.O.D. men have done their bit at the front in various units and have been sent back to work at the Base owing to wounds or some physical disability rendering them unfit for the fighting line.

Sometimes my day ends here or I have a service at the Y.M.C.A. or in one of the other huts, in turn with other Padres.

We have many destroyers constantly alongside the quays, the escorts for hospital ships, transports, &c. I go aboard when I can but generally most of the sailors are sleeping as they are working all night and its [sic] not often possible to hold a Service for them, but one gets some interesting talks with men and officers.

Just now we have a Mortimer man in hospital – Sergt. Shackleford – he is doing very well. He is only the second man I have met from the parish since I joined the B.E.F. – the other being Frank Parsons.

We are all very cheerful about the position of things just now and many of us feel there is a reasonable hope of a termination of hostilities before Xmas.

With best wishes to all friends.

Yours very sincerely,

W. S. Bowden, C.F.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

The treatment and training of disabled soldiers

The Disablements Sub-committee of the County Council’s War Pensions Committee reported with its progress finding training schemes for disabled former soldiers.

The Disablements Sub-committee beg to report that two Schemes for training disabled soldiers have been drafted after careful consideration and in consultation with Colonel Morrison, the authorities at Windsor Castle, the Windsor Institute and the University College, Reading….

These Schemes can only be successfully carried into practice under the Royal Warrant of April 17, 1917, which provides that the man’s pension shall temporarily cease while under treatment or training, and that all expenses and payments to an approved amount shall be made by the War Pensions Committee….

The period of training in the Gardens at Windsor should be at least 12 months, and should not be restricted to the period of 6 months stipulated I the provisional approval already received from the Statutory Committee.

It was also strongly urged that both these Schemes should be approved and put into operation immediately, because the delay which has already occurred has not only prevented several suitable men from receiving the benefits of this training, which they were at one time prepared to accept, but is likely, if continued, to endanger the success of any Schemes that may be introduced for the treatment and training of disabled soldiers….

The following statistics are reported to date:

Cases registered 927

Cases already considered 193

Cases needing no assistance 484

Cases which may need assistance 211

Cases to be re-considered 174

Cases awarded treatment 27

Cases awarded training 16

Approximate number of cases in hands of Sub-committee for investigation 300

Meanwhile, Berkshire County Council’s Higher Education Committee dealt with some financial implications of the war.

Higher Education Committee

In view of the uncertainties due to … the chance of termination of the War and return of teachers whose situations and annual increases have been guaranteed, it is recommended that the present arrangements should be announced as provisional…

Bursars and Student Teachers

Of 12 Bursars [trainee teachers given scholarships] appointed last year, one failed to take up the Bursary as he joined the Army… Of nine Student Teachers whose engagements terminate on 31 July, one is already on Military Service and one joins up in August…

Higher Education Sub-committee report to BCC Education Committee, 14 July 1917; Disablements Sub-committee of the War Pensions Committee report, 14 July 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

The provisions of the Royal Warrant with regard to discharged disabled Soldiers and Sailors

The porter of Abingdon Workhouse, wounded on active service, returned to work – but stayed on the army’s books.

11th June 1917

A circular recently issued by the Local Government Board calling attention to the provisions of the Royal Warrant with regard to discharged disabled Soldiers and Sailors was read and it was resolved that the same be filed for future reference.

A letter was read from the Local Government Board stating that the Workhouse Porter, E. J. Bradley, had been transferred to Class W. of the Army Reserve to enable him to resume his duties under the Board and requesting in the event of Bradley ceasing to hold Office, the board might be immediately acquainted with the fact. Resolved that the request of the Board be complied with.

Minutes of Abingdon Board of Guardians (G/A1/32)

Most forms of disablement can be usefully dealt with

Provisions for men left disabled as a result of wounds were becoming personal for Ascot people.

The name of William Tidy (son of Mr. Tidy of the Royal Nurseries) has, we regret to say, to be added to our Prisoners of War.

We also feel deep sympathy for the anxiety of the families of William Nobbs and Walter Barton, both of whom are reported missing.

Sergeant Major Arthur Butcher and Corporal William Jones have been called to the Front.

Pte. Thomas Statham is wounded, but we are thankful to say he is progressing favourably.

Pte. Ernest Taylor has been ill in Mesopotamia.

Corporal Claud Parsons (Machine Gun Corps) has received the Military Medal for gallant conduct.

Lieutenant Ernest Monk (R. West Surrey) has been promoted Captain. He gained his commission owing to conspicuous gallantry. He married the daughter of Mr. Jones, London Road. Both he and Corporal Parsons are wounded.

Pte. Walter Talbot is home, and has been discharged “disabled.”

We would like to say that extensive arrangements for the training of disabled men have been set up all over the Country, and most forms of disablement can be usefully dealt with. Any disabled Sailor or Soldier in the Parish requiring training should apply to Mr. Tottie, who will be very glad to give information and assistance.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, June 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/6)

What if discharged disabled soldiers and sailors apply to the workhouse

There was fear that wounded soldiers unable to work might find themelves in the workhouse.

5th June, 1917

A circular letter from the Local Government Board was read with reference to discharged disabled soldiers and sailors asking the Guardians to communicate at once with the Local War Decisions Committee should any become changeable.

A letter was read from the Local Government Board offering no objection to Dr W H Bush’s duties being carried out by D.A.B. Gemmell during the former’s absence on military service.

Wantage Board of Guardians minutes (G/WT1/23, p. 239)

Some disabled ex-soldiers are refusing to work

Berkshire County Council found the war coming close to home when its Deputy Clerk, who had joined the army soon after the start of the war, was reported killed. Meanwhile they had begun to tackle the problem of those men who had returned home from the front with a permanent disability as a result of wounds. How might they be retrained?

DEATH OF THE DEPUTY CLERK

Resolved on the motion of the Chairman [James Herbert Benyon]: That a vote of condolence be forwarded to the widow of Lieut-Col H U H Thorne in her bereavement, and that it be accompanied by an expression of the great loss sustained by the Council in the untimely, though gallant, death in action of their Deputy Clerk.

Report of the Berkshire War Pensions Committee

The War Pensions Committee commenced their work on the 1 October, 1916.

The County, in accordance with the Scheme arranged by the County Council, has been divided into twelve Sub-committees, being, for the main part, one Sub-committee for each petty sessional division; but there have been certain adjustments, for the convenience of working, between the divisions of Wokingham and Easthampstead, while the Lambourn division has been divided between Wantage and Newbury division, with the exception of the parish of Lambourn itself, which is being worked by a Secretary and Treasurer.

Almoners have been appointed for each parish throughout the County, and the Almoners and Sub-committees respectively have had powers given them to deal with all urgent cases of wives and dependants of soldiers and sailors requesting financial assistance, each case being reported to this Committee for approval or revision as the circumstances may require.

During the six months alterations have been made in the amount of the State Separation Allowances and valuable additional powers have been given to the Pensions Committee in the way of making additional grants to meet to some extent the increase in prices, and the work has been now thoroughly organised.

Since the 1 October, 1916, up to the 30 April, 1917, the Finance and General Purposes Sub-committee have dealt with 1326 cases of Advances, Supplementary and Temporary Allowances, Temporary and Emergency Grants, etc. The payments made up to the 30 April, in respect of these Allowances and Grants, amount to a sum of £2299 2s 11d.

In addition to this the Sub-committee have dealt with 33 cases of Supplementary Pensions, which have been recommended to the War Pensions etc Statutory Committee.

The other section of the work of the committee is the very important and constantly increasing work of dealing with discharged and disabled soldiers and sailors. The principle adopted has been that so soon as the notification of the discharge of a man into the county has been received, the particulars are sent down to the Secretary of the Sub-committee in whose district the man proposes to live; enquiries are made in the district as to the man’s physical condition with a view of ascertaining whether he needs further medical treatment or training for some form of employment other than that to which he was accustomed prior to his disablement, and further inquiries to ascertain whether he needs financial assistance of either a temporary or permanent character, other than that provided by his pension, if any.

Considerable difficulty has been found in many cases where men have refused to work for fear of endangering the continuance of their pension, or because they are satisfied to remain as they are for the time being at any rate with the pension that they hold. The new Royal Warrant, however, will considerably strengthen the hands of the committee, as the Ministry of Pensions are entitled to withhold a portion of a pension if a man refuses to undertake treatment which the Pensions Committee, acting on medical advice, consider necessary for him, and the Pensions Committee will be enabled to grant a Separation Allowance for the wife and children where the man is undertaking training, and, further, to pay the man a bonus for each week of a course of training which he has competed to their satisfaction.

The provision of training is a difficult matter, as the necessary organisations are few and far between. In Berkshire the committee have three Schemes in course of formation. (more…)