Worthy of the wonderful lives that had been laid down

Schoolgirls at Clewer were asked to think about the post-war world and their place in it.

Sale of Work for the Building Fund

The great event of the end of the Christmas term [1918] was the Sale for which we had been working so long…

The epidemic of influenza in the neighbourhood threatened us with long postponement, but having so much to see for Christmas we determined to carry on if possible…

The Hon. Mrs Alington, the wife of the Headmaster of Eton, had kindly promised to open the Sale… It was impossible to meet together just then without looking forward a little. They had to ask over and over again how they were going to prove themselves worthy of the great sacrifices that had been made and ask themselves again and again were they really worthy of the wonderful lives that had been laid down. In promoting the cause of education and building up for the future they were carrying on the great work that had been done during the past four years. She would just like to remind them of two poems, one of which had been frequently quoted during the last few years, but which brought strongly before them what they thought:

“What have I done for thee, England my England,
What is there I would not do, England my own.”

They had got to ask themselves how they were going to be worthy of this country which had been saved for them. The second quotation the speaker read was as hereunder:

“I will not cease from mental strife,
Nor see the sword sleep in my hand
Till I have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.”

The sword had been held up for them to do their utmost to build Jerusalem in our green and pleasant land…

The grand total … came to over £140. The expenses were small, and over £130 was paid into the War Savings Association in which the School “Improvement Fund” now holds more than 420 certificates.

Clewer: St Stephen’s High School Magazine, 1919 (D/EX1675/6/2/2)

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“The real thing: he was a rock, strong, capable, self-reliant, and possessed the complete confidence of every man and officer in the battalion”

A tribute was paid to a Burghfield hero.

THE WAR

IN MEMORIAM

George Ouvry William Willink, MC
2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

George was only 2 ½ years old when the family came here, in July 1890, so his life’s home has been in the parish, and he loved it. And that he has not been spared to live out his days at Hillfields is a sore loss to all classes.

Perhaps no record can be more suitable for printing in the Magazine than the following notice by his Eton Tutor, Mr Vaughan, his parents’ old friend, which appeared in the Eton College Chronicle:

“George Willink came from Mr Locke’s school, St Neot’s, Eversley, in 1901 to Mr Vaughan’s House. Diffident at first, and somewhat slow in thought, he yet showed already those qualities of steadfastness, unselfishness and good temper, which in time won for him the respect and affection of all. He made himself, by pluck and concentration, one of the best in the House at football and fives. In the Lent Half of 1907 he played for Eton v. Harrow in the first “Rugger” match between the two schools, when Eton won by 12 points to 0, and in the summer of that year rowed 2 in the Eight at Henley, and thus at the end of his blameless career came into his own.

“He was always so self-effacing”, writes the boy who was his most intimate friend in the House, “that it was only those who knew him really well, as I did, that realised what a splendid fellow he was”.

It might truly have been said of him at Eton, as it was at Oxford, that “Things, whatever they were, would go all right, if he was mixed up with them.” Throughout his life he thus exercised far more influence than he himself realised. “If my own sons”, his Oxford tutor wrote, “should grow up with that sort of character, I should feel more thankful for this than for anything else in the world.”

In 1907 he went up to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he not only rowed in the Varsity Trial Eights, and managed his College Boat Club, of which he was captain, but worked hard at History, and reaped his reward by obtaining a Second Class in the History School in 1911. In 1913 he was called to the Bar. A keen member of the Eton, and of the Oxford, OTC, in both of which he was a sergeant, he had, on coming to London, joined the Inns of Court OTC (in which his father had once been a captain), and was a lieutenant when the war broke out.

He commanded for some time as captain, No. 1 Company of the Battalion at Berkhamsted, and the universal testimony of officers and men to his good work is remarkable. The words of one of the former (Sir F G Kenyon) may be quoted: “There never was an officer more hard-working, more conscientious, more self-sacrificing, and without claiming any credit for himself”.

In 1916, as soon as he could obtain permission to leave Berkhamsted, he joined the Berks Territorials, in his his brother Captain F A Willink had already seen foreign service, and in July proceeded to France.

In 1917 he was mentioned in dispatches, and later gained the MC for a daring rescue by digging out with a few men, under heavy fire, some buried gunners. Rejoining his regiment, after a “course” behind the lines, on March 23rd, he took over command of his Battalion, the CO having been killed a few days before.

On the 28th he fell while he was gallantly leading, in advance of his men, a counter-attack. “On the first day that I took over the brigade, in September 1916,” writes his Brigadier, “I put him down in my mind at once as the real thing. He was a rock, strong, capable, self-reliant, and possessed the complete confidence of every man and officer in the battalion.”

In the words of a barrister, twenty years his senior in age, who served as his CSM at Berkhamsted: “He was one of the ‘gentlemen unafraid’ and as such has found his welcome in Valhalla’”.

More might be said, especially as to the affection which he inspired, as well as confidence. But this is not the place for it, and after all, his Burghfield neighbours know.

Honours and Promotions

Temp. Lt Geoffrey H B Chance to be Temp. Captain from 27th April 1917.

Casualties

Private E J V Cox (Worcester Regiment), missing; Private F G Cummins (Royal Berks Regiment), severely wounded; Private D Hutchins (Royal Berks Regiment), wounded.

Lance Corporal Howard Pembroke (see Magazine for April) has been definitely offered the choice of a commission in either the Infantry or the Royal Air Service. But he prefers to remain in the ASC, where however he will have to wait for a similar chance until he is older.

Burghfield parish magazine, July 1918 (D/EX725/4)

“He has now lost, like so many others, his only son”

A young pilot from Berkshire had been shot down. His wealthy family had moved to Wargrave Manor in 1898 when he was 13. As well as a grieving father and sister, he left a young widow (who after the war married another RFC officer) and 18 month old old daughter.

Vicar’s letter

We all sympathise with the sorrow which has fallen on our old friend and benefactor, Mr Sydney Platt, by the loss of his son Lionel, late Capt. in the Royal Flying Corps. Some of you may remember he used to bicycle over with his father and sister from Wargrave to service here when he was a boy at Eton. Those years are long past, but his father’s generosity and interest in our parish has been maintained at all times and he has now lost, like so many others, his only son. May he be comforted.

Earley St Nicolas parish magazine (D/P192/28A/14)

Not many at sale for wounded Frenchmen

Sydney Spencer was ill – just in time for Christmas at home.

Sydney Spencer
December 14, 1916

I go home on 12 days sick leave.

Not every effort to raise money to support the war was well attended.

Florence Vansittart Neale
14 December 1916

Bubs & I went to Bear Place for Dottie’s sale for French wounded. Glee singers from Windsor & Eton. Not many people there.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EX801/12); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“These Colours speak to us of a mighty struggle which involves sacrifice even unto death”

Windsor said a formal goodbye to the Canadians who had been stationed nearby as they headed to Kent, and then to the front.

Church and Empire

Wednesday, August 16th, was a red-letter day in the history of our Parish Church. A request had come from the Colonel of the 99th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, recruited in Windsor, Ontario, that their Colours might be deposited in our church for safe keeping during the war. It is needless to say that the request was most willingly and gladly granted, and August 16th was arranged as the day on which the ceremony should take place. Forthwith the citizens and church people of the Mother city prepared to welcome their brothers from the Overseas Daughter.

Our leading citizen [the mayor], ever ready to uphold the honour of the Royal Borough, at once declared his wish to extend his hospitality and official welcome to our guests. It was decided that as a parish we should entertain them at tea, and our churchwardens met with a ready answer to their appeal for funds and lady helpers. Permission was asked and gladly granted for them to see St George’s and the Albert Memorial Chapels, the Castle, Terraces and the Royal Stables.

The party, which included Lt Col Welch, commanding the 99th Battalion, Col Reid, Agent General for Canada, Lt-Col Casgrain, commanding the King’s Canadian Red Cross Hospital, Bushey Park, Mr W Blaynay, representing the Canadian Press, several officers of the Battalion, the Colour Guard, and the Band, arrived at the SWR station at 11.30, and were met by the vicar, who had come up from his holiday for the occasion, and several representatives of the church. From the station they marched, the band playing, and the Colours unfurled, to the Guildhall, which by kind permission of the Mayor was used as “Headquarters” for the day. Sightseeing followed till 1 o’clock, when the Mayor formally received his guests and entertained them in sumptuous fashion at lunch.

For an account of the speeches we must refer our readers to the Windsor and Eton Express of August 18th, in which will be found a very full and interesting report of the whole day’s proceedings.

Next came the event of the day, the ceremony of depositing the Colours in the Parish Church.

It is not likely that any one of the very large congregation which filled the church will ever forget what must have been one of the most interesting and impressive services ever held in the church.
It is probably true to say that most of us realised in a new way the meaning of our Empire, and the part the Church plays and has played in the building and cementing of that Empire’s fabric; and to that new realisation we were helped both by the ceremony itself and the most eloquent and inspiring words spoken from the pulpit by the vicar. (more…)

“Our generation has learnt to think of settling down to end one’s days together in safety seems all one asks of life”

Ralph Glyn’s sister Maysie was amused by their aristocratic mother’s depression at the thought of living on a reduced income now her husband was retiring, and had had a royal encounter in Windsor.

April 24/16
Elgin Lodge
Windsor

My dear darling R.

I wonder what for an Easter you spent [sic]. Very many happy returns of it anyhow. I got yours of 14th today. I hope you have seen Frank by now. How splendid of him to spend his leave in that way. Your weather sounds vile, still you are warm & here one never is. I hear from Pum [Lady Mary] today that Meg is in bed with Flu & temp 102. I am so worried, & hope she will not be bad. I must wait till John comes in, but feel I must offer to go to them, but how John is to move house alone I do not know! We move Thurs. My only feeling is that it may distract the parents somewhat during this trying week….

[Mother] takes the gloomiest view of household economies etc, & is determined it will all be “hugga mugga”, “She was not brought up like that & you see darling I have no idea how to live like that” etc etc. I tried humbly to suggest that one could be happy from experience & was heavily sat on, “it’s different for you young people”. Of course it is, & I wasn’t brought up in a ducal regime, still one can have some idea – also possible if Pum had ever had Dad fighting in a war she’d find more that nothing mattered. I think our generation has learnt that, & to think of settling down to end one’s days together in safety seems all one asks of life perhaps! You can well imagine tho’ nothing is said, how this attitude of martyrdom reacts on Dad. In fact he spoke to John about it. One does long to help, but one feels helpless against a barrier of sheer depression in dear Pum…

There seems little news to tell you. The King came Thurs, & has been riding in the Park. We ran into all the children, 3 princes & Princess M pushing bikes in the streets of Windsor on Friday. It was most surprising. They have got two 75s here as anti-aircraft, one on Eton playing fields & one Datchet way. They say if they ever fire the only certainty must be the destruction of the Castle & barracks!!

You know all leave was suddenly stopped on the 18th & everyone over here recalled. We all thought “the Push” but Billy writes the yarn in France is, it was simply that the Staff and RTs wished to have leave themselves – but then one can hardly believe, it’s too monstrous to be true. However John Ponsonby has written about coming on leave the end of the month so there can’t be so much doing yet. The news from Mesopotamia is black enough, one more muddle to our credit & more glory through disaster to the British Army.

I wonder what you think of the recent political events. Pum nearly or rather quite made herself ill over it!…

Billy has I fancy been pretty bad. The bed 10 days at some base hospital, bad bronchitis & cough….

Bless you darling
Your ever loving
Maysie

(more…)

Germans jeer at drowning victims

Elizabeth “Bubbles” Vansittart Neale, set out for France, where she was going to nurse wounded soldiers. The Revd Edward Lyttelton, referred to here, was the headmaster of Eton, and was forced to resign after stating that peace terms should be generous towards the Germans.

30 March 1916

Bubs off too early for us to go up. 9.5 at Charing X. Most disappointing!… Bubs leaving for 7 months in France with 5 other pro’s… Had wire from Bubs, sleeping day, Folkestone that night…

Liner sank. Over 100 drowned. German submarine crew looked on & jeered!!

Dr Lyttelton’s sermon much criticized.

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

A friend in khaki

A soldier told Clewer, Windsor and Eton members of the Church of England Men’s Society that soldiers should get more opportunities to receive the Holy Sacrament.

CEMS
A combined meeting of members of the Windsor, Eton and Clewer branches was held at the Church Rooms on March 9th, when the Rev. G D Nicholas, Vicar of Clewer St Stephen, read a paper entitled “Religion and Amusements”.… Mr Nicholas took a broad view of the subject, and spoke strongly in favour of amusements, provided they were harmless, and free from betting and gambling. He was not averse to recreation on a Sunday, if it did not entail work on others, and if the day commenced with worship, especially at the Lord’s own service. A good discussion ensued, in which many took part, including a friend in khaki, the latter expressing an opinion that more opportunity should be given to soldiers to attend the Holy Communion.

New Windsor St John the Baptist parish magazine, April 1916 (D/P149/28A/21/2)

The Balkan intervention may end the war sooner

E C Glyn, Bishop of Peterborough wrote to his son Ralph with news of domestic politics and more details of John Wynne-Finch’s wound.

The Palace
Peterborough
Oct 20 [1915]
My darling Ralph

There is a strong feeling of unrest & Carson’s resignation from the Cabinet remains a mystery. We had the brother of the Bishop of London, Admiral W Ingram, staying with us for the Conference, he was most delightfully optimistic & thinks the Balkan intervention in war will be the means to end the war earlier for us. I only hope it may be so.

I had such a nice letter from “your Colonel” to say how sorry he was to lose you & what a help you had been to him at WO.

John is getting over his wound – but the jaw seems a long business. There is a bit of dead bone in the jaw, which Maisie thinks is a result of some injury when he was at Eton – & the poison of his wound has gone to the weak place & he has a bad abcess in his jaw, but that is now broken & they will have to remove the bit of broken bone from the inside, which will not be so much of an operation – & Maisie is quite happy about him.

Your loving father
E C Peterborough

Letter from E C Glyn, Bishop of Peterborough, to his son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/2)

Back to the trenches

Florence Vansittart Neale recieved a letter from Frederick Septimus Kelly, a tenant and near neighbour of the Vansittart Neales, living at Bisham Grange. He was a remarkable figure, Australian born but educated at Eton and Oxford, who was an Olympic rowing medallist in 1908, a musician and composer, and a friend of the poet Rupert Brooke.He had been recently wounded, but it looks as if he was patched up and sent straight back to the Front.

13 June 1915
Letter from Sep. quite interesting. Made him straight, taken trenches.…

Russians successful again by the Dneister.

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