“If it did not get quite so hot here in the summer Mespotamia would be an ideal place for an Englishman.”

Several Sunningdale men had been taken prisoner, while another man from the village was serving in modern Iraq.

We are thankful to say that none of our men have been killed in recent fighting but the list of prisoners is lengthened for Edward Evans and Walter Day, of Ridge Cottages, Charters Road and Mr. E. Rump have been captured, and also Lt. R. Cowell who was wounded has fallen into the hands of the enemy. Stanley Hind is reported to be in hospital with a severe gunshot wound. We shall be glad if relatives will kindly let us know in all cases of their men being wounded in order that the prayers of the congregation may be offered for them by name.

We give below some letters from abroad, from Roy Lewis in East Africa and Bevis Jerome in Palestine.

Corpl. C. Burrows writes from Mesopotamia his thanks for a parcel from the Sunningdale Red Cross Society.

He says –

‘It will be a trifle strange when I get back to not have anyone to speak to who understands Arabic or the ways of Arabs as I have had 2 ½ years amongst them now and am quite at home with most of them. If it did not get quite so hot here in the summer it would be an ideal place for an Englishman.

I suppose if we continue to hold it they will eventually get it like most places in India.

There is a great prospect of a large flood this year, and I expect it will be like 1916, one mass of water as far as one can see, not deep but very uncomfortable when one has to march through it, knee or waist deep. It is a splendid sight to see the setting sun over the Desert, any artist would love to have a picture of it. It is a pity one cannot get the colours with a hand camera. I sent to Basrah the other day, but same old tale ‘we are expecting it by the next boat’.

Once again thanking you, I remain, etc.

Sunningdale parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P150B/28A/10)

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“He went out to hold service on the battlefield, and found all the wounded killed”

The striking figure of an army chaplain who had studied with the rector of Sulhamstead prior to taking Holy Orders is remembered.

There must still be many in the parish who remember Mr Eli Cobham, a pupil at the Rectory. They will recall his great height, 6 feet 2 inches, and his capabilities in the cricket and football field. It was with great sorrow that we heard of his death last year, in German East Africa. Many incidents of a short but adventurous life were given in the “Greater Britain Messenger”, from which we take some of the following facts.

After much hesitation concerning his own unworthiness, he was ordained to a curacy at All saints, Fishponds. In this post he accepted no stipend. Canon Welchman says that there were few who knew his liberality [generosity]. The lectern was his anonymous gift, and the inscription he chose was “His dominion shall be from sea to sea”. He was afterwards vicar of All Saints, Fishponds.

From here he went to America, and worked his way back as a trimmer in the stoke-hold of a steamer, so as to get experience of what the men had to do and endure. Strong as he was, he found the labour almost beyond his powers.

In 1913 he resigned his living to work in East Africa, where he had 16 centres for service, in some of which he could only hold a service once or twice a year. He enlisted directly the war broke out, and used what time he had from soldiering to act as a Chaplain. He relates how he went out to hold service on the battlefield, and found all the wounded killed. Details of his death are not known, but the bare announcement states that on September 19th, 1917, the Rev. Elijah Cobham died from “wounds received while carrying in the wounded, somewhere in German East Africa”. He was a man of deep spirituality, and when discussing even trifling details, his invariable remark was “Let’s pray about it first”.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, April 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Hastening to rejoin her fallen son

Wesley Methodist Church in Queen’s Road, Reading, considered a request to put up a memorial in the church to a fallen soldier, whose family had worshipped there before emigrating to South Africa. Sadly the young man’s grieving mother had died 10 days after he was killed.

14 May 1917
Brass Memorial Tablet, Mrs Collins

A letter was read from Mr Moon containing extracts from a letter received from Mr E F Collins of South Africa, giving the information asked for as to the suggested lettering on the Memorial tablet he wished to be placed in Wesley Church.

The particulars given were as follows:

The size of tablet to be 3 ft by 2 1/3.

Inscription of Tablet: To the memory of Sarah Ann Collins, who hastening to rejoin her son left the Church Militant for the Church Triumphant on March 20th 1916. Also to the memory of Douglas Collins of the 7th SAI who fell in action on the night of March 11-12 1916 at Reala Lakma, East Africa.

The design of the Tablet ‘Gothic’.

[Resolved] That the Trustees accept the Tablet & will decide the placing of it on its arrival.

Wesley Methodist Church, Reading: trustees’ minutes (D/MS60/1A/1)

Severe shell shock for an Earley man

Two Earley men had been wounded, one of them – brave enough to have been previously awarded a medal – suffering shell shock.

We regret to say that Sergt-Major Jordan who holds the DCM has been seriously wounded in France, and is suffering severely also from shell shock. He is the son-in-law to Mr Spencer of Manchester Road. Private Ernest George Jupe, son of Mrs Jupe of Culver Road, has also been wounded in France. He is one of those who belong to the famous Canadian contingent. We rejoice that his wound is not pronounced serious. 2nd Lieut. T P Norris RE sailed for East Africa on Oct 11 with a draft of 32 sappers.

Earley parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P192/28A/14)

The size of a memorial

A family with connections to Wesley Methodist Church in Reading wanted to have a memorial for their son who had been killed in action.

18 October 1916

A letter was read from Mr H Moon in which he said Mr E F Collins of South Africa, a former Trustee of Wesley Church, had asked him to request the permission of the Trustees to erect a Brass Tablet in the church to the memory of his wife and his son Douglas, the latter killed in the East African Campaign.

The request was favourably considered by the meeting, & the Secretary was desired to write Mr Moon to that effect, & to say they would like to know the size of the Tablet & proposed inscription of same.

Wesley Methodist Church, Reading: trustees’ minutes (D/MS60/1A/1)

“Very severely wounded in many places by a bursting of a bomb in the trenches”

More men from Winkfield were headed to the Front.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING.

The following have joined His Majesty’s Forces during last month:-

Gunner Albert Jones, Royal Berks. Horse Artillery.
Pte. William Chater, Scots Guards.
Gunner Bernard N. Greatham, Royal Garrison Artillery.
Pte. Frederick Jackman, Royal Engineers.

Let us especially remember just now in our prayers the following who have just left for the Front:-

Pte. Edward Thurmer, Pte. Sidney Thurmer, Pte. Alfred Shefford. Also L.M. Donald Thurmer, who has recently sailed for Mudros, and Pte. Bernard Greatham who has sailed for Garrison duty at Hong Kong.

We regret to announce that Pte. Wilfred Church has been invalided out of the Army; we trust he will soon recover his health and be able again to take up useful work.

Pte. Walter Woodage, 1st Royal Fusiliers, was very severely wounded in many places by a bursting of a bomb in the trenches. He is now in hospital in England and recently wrote to the Vicar saying that he was getting on well, so we trust his recovery will now be rapid.
We are sorry to hear that Pte. James Moir was severely wounded in the campaign in East Africa, but he is now reported to as doing well. His brother, Pte. Joseph Moir, we welcome home on a well earned leave of several months and look forward to having the benefit of his services again to the choir.

Winkfield section of Warfield District Magazine, July 2016 (D/P151/28A/8/7)

Terribly sad – but a splendid ideal of self-sacrifice

A Newbury teacher left his school for the trenches, as two other young men were reported killed.

The Managers of the Schools have presented Miss Bell with a Bible, in recognition of the nearly twenty years’ service in the Boys School, which she finished last year; and have presented Mr Nicklen with a wrist watch, on his leaving the school for the Army, he having been a few months longer than Miss Bell a teacher at the School. Mr Nicklen also received a handsome case of pipes together with a pouch from the teachers and the boys. Mr G F Pyke is at present medically prevented from joining the Army, as he wished to do.

The Deanery Secretary of UMCA, Miss Howard, has been endeavouring to arrange for the Annual Meeting in the Oddfellows’ Hall, but it seems better to postpone the meeting to some date after Lent… In the meantime the Mission remains, as ever, in urgent need of prayer and assistance. We hope that the successful prosecution of the Campaign in East Africa will soon result in the setting free of the Missionaries imprisoned within.

We offer our sincerest sympathies to Mr and Mrs Brown, of 47 Northbrook Street, and Mr and Mrs Breach, of 13 Victoria Street, on their loss of a son at the War. It is terribly sad to think of all these fine young fellows being called away so suddenly, and of the great sorrow that is being caused in so many homes: but they are raising up for the Nation a splendid ideal of self-sacrifice.

Newbury parish magazine, April 1916 (D/P89/28A/13)

Very sad to see the Royal Naval Air Service break up

A friend in the Royal Naval Air Service wrote to Ralph Glyn with his news. One of those mentioned was Robert Marsland Groves (1880-1920). There is more about the RNAS at Gallipoli here.

RNAS
27/1/16

My dear Ralph

We are just breaking up and I am returning to England to clear up my points then may be at the Admiralty. With the complete withdrawal from the Peninsula there was no longer need of our headquarters here. We are all separating up. It is very sad. Groves and [Buzzard?] go to Egypt and will give you this if you are still there. Perhaps by this time you will have got to Mesopotamia or East Africa or somewhere?!

I have absolutely no news. G & B will tell you of our recent happenings. I think it is right and [fit?] for me to go home for a few days.

I wonder what you are doing. Let me have word soon, to US Club, Pall Mall.

All good luck.
Yours always
[illegible]

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/4)