“No man’s land so quiet & peaceful as Cookham Moor on a weekday night”

Sydney Spencer wasted some time and energy hunting for some missing soldiers who were not missing at all, before leading a night party to mend barbed wire defences.

Tuesday 30 April 1918

I arrived in at 12.45 am this morning after examining the ground all round where the shell struck for two men who were missing. I also went to aid post & dressing stations, & caught no sign of them. At 8 am I went over to the company and found them there!

Rained hard all day so parades distinctive [sic] were off. At 3 we had a conference. After tea called on [A?] company, at 8.30 went out to Essex front lines with Corporal Wise & 8 men, with a wiring party. Tomorrow night we go up the line, then I hope my education will be completed.

As usual the job of wiring we had tonight was as cushy as it could be! A fine although cloudy night. Little excitement. Not too dark. No man’s land so quiet & peaceful as Cookham Moor on a weekday night. Got back to our cellar at 2.30 am. The fire was out so tea was off but had some biscuits, cheese & chocolate.

Diary of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EZ177/8/15)

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“We can ill afford to lose men of this sort”

Winkfield families heard news of loved ones.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING

With deep sympathy for his bereaved relatives, we have to record this month the death in action of Lieut. George Ferard, who was killed instantaneously on February 21st whilst giving first aid to one of his wounded men in the front line when under machine gun fire. Lieut. Ferard had been twice invalided home severely wounded and had only just returned to France from leave.

One of the Officers of the Devon Regiment writes “He was a very great loss to the battalion in many ways, we can ill afford to lose men of this sort.”

We have also to mourn the loss of 2nd Lieut. Arthur Cartland who was killed last month in a flying accident near Newcastle. Educated at our schools he joined the Flying Corps in 1913 and acting as “Observer” saw a great deal of active service in France. He did so well that he rapidly rose to the rank of Sergeant, and then gained his Commission and qualified as a pilot last year. Only three days before his death he was home on leave under orders to proceed to the front. He was buried at Worthing with military honours on March 2nd. This is the second son Mrs. Cartland has lost in the war, and our deep sympathy goes out to her and her family.

We congratulate most heartily Captain Sir Thomas Berney – now home on leave from Palestine – on winning the Military Cross awarded after the battle of Gaza.

We were glad to welcome home on leave this month Private R. Mitchell, who has now quite recovered from his wound; and Privates A. Carter and A. Holmes, both of whom were at the battle of Mons and now hold the 1914 medal.

We are glad to learn that Lance-Corporal James Knight, who has been ill in hospital, is progressing favourably.

Winkfield section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, April 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/4)

Playing at soldiers

Berkshire Education Committee was interested in national proposals for a scheme to train teenage boys not yet old enough to join the armed forces. A committee comprising councillor and chair of the committee, H G Willink and Messrs Mansfield and Childs of Reading University reported back. Their main concern was that the men most suitable for running such a programme were away at war, but they also felt that younger boys should not be militarised. Another big issue was the connection between social class and officer status.

Report of Cadet Training Sub-committee to the Education Committee

First report of the Special Sub-committee appointed on 29 April 1916 by the Berks Education Committee to consider the Lord Mayor of London’s “Scheme for the National Organisation of Cadet Training”.

We have met and considered this Scheme; and have also had before us a detailed Scheme of the Essex Education Committee “for the formation and organisation of Cadet Units”.

While not prepared to recommend either Scheme in its entirety, for reasons which will appear, we desire to express our appreciation of the aim underlying both, and to state that in our opinion there is need for some well-considered system by which lads below 18 years of age may not only gain the benefits of discipline but may also undergo a training which will exercise and develop their intelligence. We are convinced that this is essential if the youth of the country is to be adequately prepared either for future naval or military service or to be efficient and useful citizens of the Empire.

The Lord Mayor’s proposals fall under two heads, viz:

1. The establishment of a “National Cadet Council”, with certain relations to other authorities and with a quasi-subordinate system of City and County Cadet Committees…

2. The early introduction of a uniform system of training, upon lines following generally those of the Australian Cadet Scheme (which is established by law) but on a voluntary instead of a compulsory basis.

Under such a Scheme, lads above elementary school age and under 18 would be organised as Senior Cadets, who would receive a minimum of training in Physical Drill, Company (and some Battalion) Drill, Field Training, and Musketry. Boys from 12 to (say) 14, or Junior Cadets, would undergo a training which could only be called military in the sense of being preparation for military work. It would consist of Physical Exercises and Marching Drill, together with any two of the following: Miniature Rifle Shooting, Swimming, Organised Games, and First Aid. Senior Cadets to have a simple uniform, but Juniors none.
As regards the relations with existing formations – OT Corps would not come under the Council at all, the Boys’ Brigade, Church Lads’ Brigade, and YMCA, as well as the Boy Scouts, would remain separate, but close communication between them and the Council would be encouraged; and no objection is raised to lads or boys passing to or from them and Cadet Units, or even belonging to one of them and to a Cadet Unit also.

Note: The Essex Scheme, which contains no reference to the Lord Mayor’s proposals, invites “the co-operation of District Educational Sub-committees, School Managers, Teachers and others, with a view to the formation of Cadet Units”, the membership age to be from that of leaving the elementary school till 19, but no admission after 18….

The Scheme … lays down an elaborate curriculum of instruction, to be given in connection with the Evening Continuation Schools…

One further point may be noted. The Australian lad of 14 receives a “Record Book” in which his military history is entered up to the age of 26 years, and individuals unable to produce a Record Book with a clean service sheet are debarred from any service under the Commonwealth Government. There would, however, appear to be insuperable difficulties in the way of including this valuable feature in any voluntary Scheme, at any rate before the system was in practically universal operation.

Taking the Scheme as its stands, we are of opinion, in regard to the first “head”, that the establishment of some such central consultative body as the proposed “National Cadet Council” is desirable, provided that its functions are in the first instance confined to inquiry, ventilation and discussion; and do not extend to an immediate setting-up of a definite new Scheme, still less to its actual bringing into action.

We give due weight to the objection that the absence on active service, or the employment on other war work at home or abroad, of so many of the men best fitted to construct or introduce a system of such importance is a serious obstacle to arriving at a satisfactory decision upon the best lines for it. But we also feel strongly that the present united spirit of patriotism in public opinion ought to be utilized before reaction sets in, as may very likely be the case when the end of the war comes into sight…

The important point to bear in mind is that no new Scheme can be satisfactory which will not fit into a general plan for National Training for Home Defence, or which will in any way prejudge the question whether such training is to be on a voluntary or compulsory basis….

There are certain points which to us seem fairly clear, and which may be worth stating, if only to elicit discussion.
(more…)

Employ women to release men for other work

Women were wanted to work in non-nursing roles in military hospitals which had hitherto been the preserve of men.

We are asked to call attention to the following notice and to say that information respecting it can be obtained from Miss Barnett, Oaklea.

WORK IN WAR HOSPITALS TO RELEASE MEN.

Attention is called by the Board of Trade to the arrangements recently made with regard to the supply of women for employment by the War Office in certain departments of military hospitals, to enable men to be released for other work. Under these arrangements women will be employed as cooks, storekeepers, dispensers, and on various clerical duties.

The Red Cross Society will select the women for this work from their own members, and also from women whose names have been submitted to them from the Board of Trade Labour Exchanges. All women on appointment will be required to become members of a Voluntary Aid Detachment of the British Red Cross Society, if they have not already done so, though it will not be necessary for them to hold the first aid or nursing certificates usually required in this connexion.

Particulars as to the terms of appointment and the necessary qualifications may be obtained from the any of the Board of Trade Labour Exchanges.

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Magazine, October 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/10)

An unduly large number of young men of enlisting age in the police

Deputy Chief Constable Colonel Ricardo had been checking to see how the practice of calling up Reservists to the police was working out. He was generally pleased but thought some young men were using police work as an excuse for not joining the army.

BERKS POLICE SPECIAL RESERVE
INSPECTION BY COLONEL F. C. RICARDO, CVO
Maidenhead Police Station

28th June 1915
To the Chief Constable of Berkshire
Sir,

As Chief Organising Officer and Commandant of the Berkshire Police Special Reserve, I was naturally very anxious to ascertain by personal inspection the results of the organization which, in accordance with your request, I initiated in September last.
I therefore, with your sanction and approval, consulted the Divisional Officers as to the feasibility of holding Divisional Inspections during the months of May and June. I was much gratified with the interest shown in the suggestion, and am pleased to be able now to report that I have concluded my inspection of all the eight Divisions.

Admirable arrangements were made for these inspections in each case by Divisional Officers, assisted by the Superintendents of the several Police Divisions to whom much credit and thanks are due.

The result of the inspections may be looked upon as very satisfactory and the attendance parade highly praiseworthy, taking into consideration the inconvenience and difficulties which must have been experienced by a great many members of the Force, and the sacrifice of leisure which their attendance must have entailed.

Undoubtedly the organization of the Force generally has been attended with good results. As regards numbers, the Force, according to the latest returns rendered, has now a total strength of 3,298, which is numerically a falling off of about 800 from the returns rendered in November 1914, when the force attained its maximum strength of approximately 4,100. The decrease in numbers is due in a great measure to enlistment of members in His Majesty’s Military Forces, so cannot be looked upon otherwise than as advantageous, at all events from a National point of view.
Drill has been well carried out and the instruction imparted most creditable to the Drill Instructors.

I was much struck by the great steadiness in the ranks at inspections, and the physique of the men was quite up to expectations. In this respect I would specially mention the Wantage Division in which an exceptionally fine body of reservists has been enrolled.

I would also like to bring to favourable attention the Maidenhead Division, which I consider is deserving of praise for conspicuous steadiness on parade, and a general state of efficiency which is undoubtedly the product of very careful supervision.

I regret that I had to comment at one or two of my inspection parades upon the unduly large number of young men of enlisting age in the ranks. In most cases the explanations offered for their enrolment were satisfactory, but undoubtedly there have been instances of a want of rigid adherence to the instructions laid down in the Text Book which, with your approval, I compiled for general guidance when I commenced the organization of the Force.

I am glad to be assured that Rifle Drill and Musketry have been practised by a fair proportion of the men and that interest has been taken in the instruction of detachments in First Aid work.
A mounted detachment of 12 men has been formed in the Abingdon Division, and, judging from their appearance, equipments and equitation, I am confident they would be a very valuable addition to the Police Force on [sic] an emergency. I consider special credit is due to this detachment for the trouble and personal expense entailed in rendering themselves so efficient.

Reading Division

The presence of an unduly large number of men of enlisting age in the ranks was noticeable…

Maidenhead Division

It was brought to notice that about 64 men have quitted the Division to enlist in the Army, which is evidence of the fact that a proper sense of duty has been instilled into those members whose enrolment was in the first instance somewhat irregular.

Report of Deputy Chief Constable, in Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

Patriotic songs in Longworth

The parishioners of Longworth decided patriotic singing should take the place of their usual programme of winter concerts, as their thoughts were with the village’s young men who had volunteered for active service:

We have not felt it right or seemly to arrange for ordinary entertainments and dances while this terrible war is on us. But Lady Hyde is most kindly in arranging for a Lantern Lecture in the Rectory Barn and for some practices of patriotic songs; and Ambulance classes are being given by Dr. Woodward’s kindness in the Manor Barn for men, and by Mr. Moon for young women in the Rectory Barn. We have also applied for Nursing Lectures for women later on.

Please add the names following to the lists in your Prayer Books of the men who are serving their country in the Army or Navy. This is still far from complete. Soldiers: Charles Painton, Richard Painton, Percy Painton, William Hutt, Reginald Harris, Thomas Sollis, William Furley, James Hale, John Hale, J. Leach. Recruits: William Pimm, S. Pike, James Floyd, Richard Adams, Albert Hughes, Raymond Hobbs, A. Henley. John Loder was wounded but is reported as doing well.

Longworth parish magazine, November 1914 (D/P83/28A/9)

Thousands of police reservists and Special Constables sign up

The Chief Constable and the Clerk of the Peace informed the Standing Joint Committee of the County Council and Quarter Sessions of the effects of the war on the police force and the Clerk’s department.

10 October 1914
CHIEF CONSTABLE’S REPORT

On the outbreak of the war the two boarded-out horses from the 11th Hussars were, at the request of the Military Authorities, returned to Aldershot….

The allowances to the wives of Police Constables recalled to Army service are, I now understand, to be altered from the 1st October, 1914, by an increased allowance from Army funds…

As regards the single Constables, I would ask that some consideration may be made them… I would, therefore recommend that the following three unmarried Constables (Army Reservists) who were recalled to the Army for service on 5th and 6th August, 1914, and who have been regularly contributing for their mothers’ support should be granted the allowance of 7/- per week:-
PC 36, George A. Eales
PC 163, Philip Hubbard
PC 214, Harry Easton
and that the money be paid monthly to the mother in each case.

Since the date of your last meeting in August, I have called up one more Police Reservist to take the place of a Police Constable called upon to resign. The total of First Police Reservists now serving is therefore 44.

Formation of a Police Special Reserve.
I beg to report that on the outbreak of war the duties of the Police were increased out of all proportion to the strength of the Force. It was necessary to recall all those away on annual leave and to suspend the weekly rest day. Forty-four 1st Police Reservists have since then been called up for duty. The demands on the time of the Officers and Constables have been very great, consequent on the necessity for continuous watching of the main bridges over the Thames, the railway lines, the requisition of Police by the Military Authorities for mobilization, purchase of horses, vehicles, and billeting, and the posting and distribution of many Orders. The registration and watching of alien enemies under the Aliens Act, 1914, further added important duties for the Police to carry out.
In order that the Police might get some assistance at such a time I issued a Special Constables appeal, a copy of which is attached.
Consequent on this appeal I received the very greatest help and assistance throughout the County, and especially as regards the guarding and watching of the bridges (railway and main road), the railways, waterworks, lighting works and other vulnerable points; and as a result of this splendid and patriotic response to my appeal, I have now a Berks Police Special Reserve Force of nearly four thousand (4,000) under the following organization:-
Chief Organizing Officer Colonel F. C. Ricardo, CVO
Assistant Chief Organising Officer Colonel W. Thornton
Divisional Officer, Abingdon and Wallingford Police Division
Colonel A. M. Carthew-Yorstoun, CB
Divisional Officer, Faringdon Division Francis M. Butler, esq.
Divisional Officer, Maidenhead Division Heatley Noble, esq.
Divisional Officer, Newbury Division (vacant)
Divisional Officer, Hungerford Sub-division Colonel Willes
Divisional Officer, Reading Division (vacant)
Divisional Officer, Wantage Division E. Stevens, esq.
Divisional Officer, Windsor Division Colonel F. Mackenzie, CB
Divisional Officer, Wokingham Division Admiral Eustace, RN

To all these Officers I am very much indebted for their valuable help and voluntary service in this organization. The efficiency of our organization is entirely due to their energetic work.

This Force has for several weeks been drilling and doing patrol work in conjunction with the Police in many parts of the county. Classes of instruction in first aid to the injured are being formed, and miniature rifle ranges are being used by the kind permission of the owners, and new ones about to be given for such use.

We have been careful to exclude from the Reserve all those who are eligible for and whose circumstances permit of them joining the Army.

I have further received great help from the Berkshire Automobile Club, and owners of motor cars generally throughout the county, in placing motor cars at the disposal of the Police when required.

I would ask your authority to swear in a total number of Special Constables not exceeding 2,000, and to provide the necessary batons, whistles and chains, armlets and other necessary articles of equipment…. Under these conditions of appointment of Special Constables, the service is a voluntary and unpaid one.

A report by the Clerk of the Peace with regard to his staff was presented as follows:-

Gentlemen
I have to report that in consequence of the War, the following members of my staff are absent on service:-
H. U. H. Thorne, Deputy Clerk of the Peace Captain, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
E. S. Holcroft, Assistant Solicitor Captain, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
R. G. Attride, Assistant Solictor (Mental Deficiency Act)
Lieutenant, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
H. P. Tate, Senior Clerk, Taxation Department Private, Honorable Artillery Company
F. J. Ford, Clerk, Taxation Department Gunner, Berks Royal Horse Artillery
J. A. Earley, Clerk Private, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
J. A. Callow, Clerk Private, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment

Mr Tate is actually abroad on active service and the remainder have all volunteered for foreign service.

In consequence of the great depletion of my staff, I have, after consultation with the Staff Purposes Committee, arranged with Mr C. G. Chambers, of the firm of Blandy & Chambers, Solicitors, Reading, to assist me in the legal work during the absence of the Deputy Clerk and the Assistant Solicitors…
It has also been necessary for me to make temporary arrangements for the clerical work and I have engaged the following:-

Miss M. A. Burgess, Shorthand-Typist, at 12/6 per week from 7th September, 1914
Miss Norah Scrivener, Shorthand-Typist, at 10/- per week from 14th September, 1914
Stanley A. Bidmead, Office Boy, at 5/- per week from 1st September, 1914.

Standing Joint Committee minutes, 10 October 1914 (C/CL/C2/1/5)