“The wretched German private soldier had no idea that the Americans had landed in France”

Newbury people were optimistic that the tide had finally turned, thanks to our allies.

THE WAR

The latest German offensive has been seriously interfered with by a magnificent counter-attack by the French, who are reported (July 19th) to have taken prisoners 18,000 of the enemy and to have captured 100 guns.

The Americans also have had their part in this victory, and it appears that the wretched German private soldier had no idea that the Americans had landed in France, at all events in any considerable numbers, until they found them upon them.

This victory is most welcome and hopeful, and we trust that the tide is now turning.

There are still several of our young men who are missing, and of whom their friends have had no tidings. They ought, both soldiers and friends, to have our sympathy and prayers.

ROLL OF HONOUR

Sergt Stanley Nelson Gordon Giddings, Royal Berks Regt, died of wounds April 7th, 1918, aged 23.

Pte Ernest Frances [sic] Rivers, 2nd Batt. Royal Berks Regt, killed in action in France March 31st, 1918 (Easter Day).

RIP.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, August 1918(D/P89/28A/13)

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“May his sacrifice not be in vain!”

There was sad news for many Reading families.

The Vicar’s Notes

Intercessions

Let us remember in our prayers all our fighting men, especially, among the prisoners, Alfred Standbridge, of Boarded Lane, one of our server; Roy Russell, of Minster Street; Walter Nunn of Hope Street (also wounded); Frank Thomas, of Lavender Street.

The Fallen, especially Norman Day, of Anstey Road (died of wounds); Arthur Walley, of Bartlett’s Cottages, killed in action on Easter Day; George Gardiner, Of Lavender Place (died from wounds).
R.I.P.

All Saints District
List of Men Serving in His Majesty’s forces

We shall be very grateful for additions or corrections to our list so that it may be kept up to date.

We offer our deepest sympathy to one of the oldest members of the choir, Mr Sales, on the loss of a second son. Percy Sales was well known in the district and will be much missed. – R.I.P.

We would also offer our deepest sympathy to Mrs. Austen Leigh and family on the death of her youngest son Acting Captain Arthur Alexander Austen Leigh who was killed in action on May 11th. – R.I.P.

S. Saviours District
R.I.P.

Frank Chard, an old S. Saviours lad, has laid down his life in France. He had served in the army for some time during the war and had only recently returned to the front after his marriage. We feel much with his wife and family who mourn his loss, and also with the army who have lost in him a good soldier. May his sacrifice not be in vain!


Lads Club

We are very sorry to hear that Bert Griffin is dangerously ill in hospital in France; we hope his slight improvement will be maintained. Ben Josey is still very ill. G. Mittam, W. Sawyer are slowly recovering from their wounds. L. Shipway has quite recovered and others who are in H.M.Forces are doing well.

Our Soldiers

Edward James Bonny and Frederick Hearn are prisoners and Charles and James Wayman are missing. William Jessy and Arthur Dye and George Ward are sick, and Tom Josey wounded. They need our prayers.

Sidesman

Mr George Wells has to rejoin the Army at the end of May, but tho’ we shall lose his faithful services for the time being, we shall count him as one of our S. Saviour’s Sidesmen, and one and all wish him well.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, June 1918 (D/P98/28A/13)

Easter eggs for wounded soldiers

Hundreds of eggs were donated as a special Easter gift for wounded soldiers. (They were real eggs not chocolate ones!)

Crazies Hill Notes

Mrs. Woodward once again made a collection of Easter eggs for wounded soldiers and is to be congratulated upon the success of her efforts. In money no less than £4 1s. was offered for this worthy object and 109 eggs were given in addition. 331 eggs were purchased with the money so generously given and a total of 440 eggs were distributed as follows: –

Wargrave Hospital 140
No. 1 War Hospital at Reading 100
Henley Hospital 100
3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth 100

It is to the last named Hospital that the work done by the Crazies Hill Working Party is sent.

Wargrave parish magazine, June 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

“The bomb passed through the bows, exploding on the other side”

Three of the Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist, whose base was at Clewer, were shipwrecked on their way home from India thanks to enemy action.

April, 1918
My dear Associates

You will all be interested to hear that we have just welcomed home from Calcutta Sister Alexandrina, Sister Marion Edith and Sister Edith Helen after a really perilous voyage. The only route available was via Colombo, which they reached by train from Calcutta. The first part of the voyage through the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea was very enjoyable, smooth and lovely weather.

Good Friday was spent in the harbour of Suez, and Port Said was reached on Sunday morning. Along the banks of the Suez Canal they saw many races of the recent fighting in Egypt – deserted trenches and dug-outs, and in one place a camp of a considerable size, but their own course was perfectly uneventful.

After waiting four days at Port Said, their steamer joined a large convoy of vessels bound for England, protected by several destroyers and sloops. All went well during the first six days, and then, at 7 a.m. on a date I am not allowed to mention, the ship was struck by a torpedo. Mercifully no one was seriously injured, the bomb having passed through the bows, exploding on the other side.

Fearing another attack, the Captain immediately transferred all the passengers to the boats, and after rowing about on a rough sea for two hours, a sloop picked them up, and conveyed them to Bizerta, a French town on the coast of North Africa, the actual site of ancient Carthage, about four hours by rail from Tunis. At once everything was done on a most generous scale for their comfort and protection, and four days later a mail boat from Tunis conveyed all the passengers to Marseilles, and from there the homeward journey was continued via Paris, Havre and Southampton….

Letters to Associates of the Community of St John Baptist (D/EX1675/1/24/6)

“The War Cloud looms still larger before our eyes”

The vicar of Maidenhead saw people being spurred by the war to religious commitment.

The Vicar’s letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

… The War Cloud looms still larger before our eyes, but, please God, this may be the crisis of the struggle. We all need to pray for steadfastness, both for our men abroad and ourselves. We must try to be growingly thoughtful one for another, the young as well as the old; and at home we ought to lend the Country all we can save, whether through War Saving Certificates or in some other way.

The Lent Services have been well attended; I hope Easter will have been the same. More and more those who have any character of their own, whether men or women, are being led to feel the need of God’s aid to quit them bravely in the trials and temptations of life.…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar
C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, April 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

Such days as England never experienced before

The spring of 1918 saw a new onslaught at the front.

THE GERMAN FURY.

We have been passing through such days as England never experienced before. Defeat and disaster has seemed to be within measurable distance. If the British lines had been broken through, and the enemy had gained the coast; it is hard to see how we could have avoided surrender.

But through all our terrors and alarms we have never really believed that surrender was possible, not only because we trusted in the unconquerable British Army, but because we trusted in God. As the struggle lengthens out, and privations increase, our hope of endurance and final victory depends even more upon this flaming certainty, that this is the sacred cause of righteousness and God. We shall be traitors to heaven and earth if we allow war-weariness to abate our fixed resolve to continue to the end. Let us be quite sure that the end will be as we desire. It must be, because there is a justice immanent in things, and because God has bidden us defend the right. To leave our task half done would be to leave the world so shadowed by a great evil, that life would be monstrously burdened and spoiled, and happiness and rest for the nations would be impossible.

The nation is being called to still greater sacrifices, and every one of us must give his answer with a whole heart. Already there has been a wealth of sacrifice on all hands greater than we could have dreamed possible. Even we who thought best of our countrymen never guessed of the magnificent capacity for self-denial and service. And if more is demanded, shall we not all be ready? Whatever it is, economy in food or dress, or the rendering of such services in any form as may be in our power, or the brave bearing of the long strain, we must realise that our little counts, and that we shall never respect ourselves again if we do not play our part well now.

Almost every preacher during this Eastertide seems to have likened the anguish of the nation to Christ’s Gethsemane and sacrifice. Surely the resemblance is a real one. If we take it aright, the whole strife and agony of the nation to-day is of a piece with the cross of Christ. Christ’s cross was a voluntary suffering for the advantage of the race. And if we will consciously take it so, our suffering is a willing burden and anguish for the sake of the world and its peace. All those who have willingly risen up and taken arms against the monstrous scourge that threatens us, though some of them had perhaps little thought of religion, are really fighting in Christ’s cause against Antichrist.

And let those who believe in prayer pray. “More things are wrought by prayer than this world knows of.” Shall not the need of to-day teach us to pray with new faith and insistency? So let us pass through these days of pain as Christians should, in the trust that God is, that God sees, that God works, that right is right, and that right is might.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, April 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Savings for the Church Army Hut Fund

The parish of Reading St Mary devoted Lent collections to the Church Army’s work with soldiers behind the lines.

Lenten Savings for the Church Army Hut Fund should be sent in to the Priest-in-Charge at the Vestry at any of the services about Easter time. The boxes provided are much too large to go into the alms bags. Of course, any who prefer to give paper money or cheques may enclose them in envelopes and place them in the alms bags as usual, with the words “Church Army Hut Fund” written on the outside.

Reading St Mary parish magazine (D/P116B/28A/2)

This time of great national anxiety

It was another worrying Easter.

The services on Good Friday and Easter Sunday were well attended and it was satisfactory to notice that at this time of great national anxiety a larger number than usual came to meet our Risen Saviour in his Holy Communion, and pray for their loved ones at His service. In spite of the shortages and high prices many offerings of beautiful flowers were brought to the Church, which looked its best, thanks to the care and taster of those who so lovingly arranged them.

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, May 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/5)

“Oh! the pain inside”

The ongoing struggle continued to concern Florence Vansittart Neale.

31 March 1918

Still holding but daily expecting more awful thrusts.

Easter Day….
11th day of battle! Oh! the pain inside. Pray that Amiens won’t be reached.

Victory in Mesopotamia. 5000 Turks & heaps of material retaken.


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

Very few men in khaki at Easter service this year

Were all the soldiers already at the Front, or had religious enthusiasm declined as the war went on and on?

The number of Communicants on Easter Day [31 March] was slightly less than in the preceding year, but it was noticeable that there were very few men in khaki this year.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

Still having to endure patiently

Good Friday was always a sober day in the church calendar, and the mounting toll at the Front added to the melancholy mood.

29 March 1918

Good Friday. Our feelings so in keeping with the day. Still having to endure patiently. Our line held but moving back slowly….
More soldiers lost!

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

A critical time

Reading churchgoers offered their prayers for the war.

Thanksgiving

For the entry of the British troops into Jericho.

Intercessions

For the spirit of self-sacrifice and perseverance in the nation.

For God’s blessing on Ireland at this critical time, especially on the Feast of S. Patrick (March 17th).

For the Russian people at this critical time in their history.

For all our fighting men and all suffering from the war, especially those in danger from air raids in London and on the East Coast.

For Horace Beesley, one of our altar-lads, just gone out to France as a volunteer carpenter.

For all the wounded, sick and prisoners on both sides.

For the fallen, especially Frederick Mott, Wine Place; John Hannon, Milman Road; William Mason, Stanley Street.


Reading St Mary parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P98/28A/16)

Till we meet again

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING

Private Charles Holloway has long been reported missing, and the War Office has now sent an intimation that he must be “assumed killed in action.” Our deep sympathy is with his widow, and his parents, who have now lost three sons in this war.

Lance-Corporal Leonard Cox has been wounded and is now in hospital in England and is progressing favourably.

We were glad to welcome home on leave this month Privates Broadbent, F. Johnson, and J. Sumner.

The Vicar has received the sum of £1 from sale of waste paper collected in the parish, and this money has been devoted to providing comforts for our two prisoners of war in Germany, Privates W. Harwood and F. Onion.

We hope to send to all our men who are serving an Easter card of greeting with the message “May the Risen Christ, who left His home for us, have you in His keeping till we meet again”; and the assurance that we shall be remembering them at our Easter Communion.

Winkfield section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, March 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/3)

The Committee hope to send a present out shortly to every Ascot man serving abroad

Ascot ladies teamed up with trainee pilots to raise funds for Easter gifts for the village’s servicemen.

ASCOT SAILORS AND SOLDIERS COMMITTEE.

Thanks to the help of several ladies in the neighbourhood, and to members of the R.F.C., two of the best entertainments ever given in Ascot took place on 16th and 17th April and on both occasions the parish room was crowded, and the singing and acting were greatly appreciated.

The funds of the Committee have in consequence received an addition of £24 9s. 2d. (provided the entertainment tax is refunded, for which application has been made) and the Committee hope to send a present out shortly to every Ascot man serving abroad.

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

New laid Easter eggs for wounded soldiers

Easter 1917 saw the children of Crazies Hill not longing for chocolate eggs for themselves, but real fresh eggs for wounded soldiers to eat.

Crazies Hill Notes

The children of the Sunday School, their parents and friends, during Lent and Easter week contributed £2 6s. for the purpose of purchasing Easter Eggs – new laid – for wounded soldiers. Mrs. Woodward acted as Hon. Treasurer to the fund, the success of which is entirely due to her energies in the matter. Mr. Woodward most generously provided packing cases and also packed the eggs with the satisfactory result that the following were dispatched and arrived still fresh and unbroken at various hospitals:-

100 eggs to Woodclyffe Auxilliary Hospital, Wargrave
100 eggs to 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth
72 eggs to King George Hospital, Stamford St., London
72 eggs to No. 1 War Hospital, Reading
66 eggs to 1st Western General Hospital, Fazekerley, Liverpool

The total number sent being 410.

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