Donkeys and drums

Some clergy had reservations about the unbridled nature of the peace celebrations.

July 1919

Vicar’s Letter

The Signing of the Peace will naturally turn the thoughts of many towards the ‘Peace Celebrations,’ proposed to be held on Saturday, July 19th. I do not think I can do better than quote a few sentences from a letter written by the Bishop of Norwich, which was published in The Times on Saturday, June 28th. With regard to organised festivities in connection with the Celebration of Peace, the Bishop fears lest these should bring out the poorer and not the nobler side of a natural outburst of high spirits, and he says:

‘We do not wish to substitute mere excitement for that quiet sense of fellowship with the living and the dead and that sober thanks-giving which ought to be the real notes of such a day. At this time we have to think not only of peace abroad, but also of true peace and good will at home, and no stimulated and unrestrained merrymaking helps to give us these. The expression of our joy should not be inappropriate to the tender and solemn remembrance of those who have fallen in the war, nor regardless of those who are mourning for the desolation of their homes. This is, indeed, an occasion for joy, but elaborated celebrations are costly, and the country is in no financial position, and many chastened people in no frame of mind, to spend large sums on extravagant exhibitions of rejoicing. Much sacrifice has gone before the day of thanks giving, and much sacrifice must follow it if the Peace is to be as great as the war. I venture to suggest that we should concentrate our efforts on giving the children a happy day, as many of us do at Christmas time when we commemorate the birth of the Prince of Peace. This, I believe, while shielding us from the risks of orgies protracted into the night, would evoke what is best in the hearts of all classes, and would make a memorable occasion for the boys and girls upon whom will eventually rest the task of fully working out the problems of the new age which the Peace has brought with it.’

No words could I think express better my own feelings with regard to the ‘Peace Celebrations,’ and I hope they will equally commend themselves to you all.

August 1919

The Vicar’s Letter

I feel that my first duty is to thank most heartily the Members of the Committee, and all others, who rendered such very efficient help in collecting funds, arranging and cutting up for the tea, and in superintending and devising the capital Sports, etc., which gave so much pleasure to our young guests on the occasion of the Peace Celebration. If only it had been a really fine day! The dampness of the unpleasant drizzle had no apparent effect on the spirits and excellent conduct of the children, yet we all felt it would have been so much brighter had the sun shone out. Provision for the tea was ample and much appreciated. The donkeys were quite up-to-date, and behaved as donkeys have ever done at a Children’s Fête! Most grateful were we to Mrs. Young, Mr Reynolds and Mr. Stretch for the loan of them; they were quite a feature in the programme. And what shall be told of the glory of the bonfire, which apparently surpassed in brilliance any other that could be seen far or near! As soon as the gentleman with the drum was satisfied that he had done enough in celebrating Peace, one was able to get to bed about 1.30 a.m.! thankful that all concerned had had a happy day, and may God grant that the occasion for keeping such a day shall never occur again during the life-time of the youngest of those who were present with us!

Cookham Dean parish magazine, July and August 1919 (D/P43B/28A/11)

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A kaleidoscope, a transformation scene, a hurly-burly, yet an orderly hurly-burly

The people of Stratfield Mortimer celebrated.

Peace and Victory Day

Two ever-memorable days! On Sunday, July 6th, the special services of praise and joy and thanks and hope, well attended, reverent, hearty, charged with deep feeling. The evening congregation at S. John’s filled the church and the singing was noteworthy.

Then on Saturday, July 19th, the merrymaking. Our special correspondent tried in vain to be in two places at once. Yet even so he could wax eloquent on the proceedings both on the Sports’ Ground and in St. John’s Hall had not the Editor ruthlessly refused to allow adequate space. But no pen could do justice to the loyal, happy fellowship of the many workers, to the spirit of the crowd, to the joy of the children over their (unexpected) medals, to the feasting and the music, to the sports and the cricket and the dancing, to the fireworks and the great big blaze.

The Hall and all who worked there were taxed to their utmost capacity; dinner for near 100 of the demobilised; dinner for the workers; tea for 220 children; tea for 50 older folks; tea for the workers; tea for 25 scouts. A kaleidoscope, a transformation scene, a hurly-burly, yet an orderly hurly-burly. All that was wanted and nothing that was not wanted, and what more could anyone wish than that? Great credit and great thanks to the catering committee.

As for “God’s out-of-doors,” we had no procession and no cenotaph, yet probably not one old or young forgot those whom we could not see with us, yet who were with us none the less. Not one forgot to salute them. Therein lay the deeper message and meaning of all the day’s proceedings. This thought was with us even while we danced or raced, jumped or tugged or sang. All went merrily none the less. And this again is homage to the Sports Committee and to their indefatigable president, Colonel Nash.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, August 1919 (D/P120/28A/14)

Fireworks and flares

On 19 July 1919 peace celebrations were held across the county following the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.

St John’s School. Caversham
July 19th 1919

Saturday- to celebrate the conclusion of peace all the children of the town [Reading] were entertained to tea, games etc in either Palmer or Prospect Parks.

King Street School, Maidenhead
19th July 1919

“‘Peace Day’ was kept by a sumptuous tea for the children in school this afternoon. Several people came to help entertain them. An old pupil gave musical selections while children had their tea & the popular airs they were familiar with were much enjoyed.

After tea, cheers were given for the soldiers & the king & concluded with the National Anthem. Children were then taken to Kidwell’s Park to enjoy sports, roundabouts & other amusements.

Aldworth School
July 14th-18th 1919

This week we made 100% attendance!

The Peace celebration was held on Saturday July 19th – Dinner, tea and sports in the old playground, for all parishioners, followed by fireworks and flares in “Battle Field” at Westbridges.

Lower Sandhurst School
July 19th 1919

To day Saturday in common with all parts of the country this Parish held its Peace Festival.

The school children assembled at school and marched to the Wellington Arms where they met the other two schools and headed by a band a procession was formed and a move was made to the Broadway. Here the ceremony of hoisting the flag was performed, prayers and thanksgivings were offered for victory and peace speeches were delivered, Mr. W. J. Joye, Chairman of the Managers, being one of the speakers.

Tea and sports were provided for the children and although the weather was unpropitious the children spent a happy time.

Bracknell Church of England Mixed Primary School
19th July 1919

‘Peace Celebrations’. During the day all school children were specially provided with a tea (followed by a tea for the general public). Sports were also provided for school children, preceded by a procession from the Hall through High Stand to the Sports Ground. All who had served in H. M. Forces during the war were entertained to dinner.

St Peter’s CE School, Earley
19th July 1919

Today was observed as “Peace Celebration Day” for the parish of Earley, & the children of the school, whether living in Earley or in Reading, were included in the invitations. By kind invitation of J Rushbrooke esq, the celebration took place in Bulmershe Park, where, despite showery weather, a most enjoyable afternoon & evening were spent.

Cookham Alwyn Road School log book
July 19th

Saturday: Peace Celebrations. Tea to scholars in School Buildings. March to Kidwells Park at 4.15.

Eastbury National Primary, Lambourn
19th July 1919

Peace celebrations at Eastbury. The school children took part in the procession, sang patriotic songs, and afterwards partook in tea in a lane kindly lent for the occasion. Giving in to the rain, the sports were held on the following Monday.

Charney Bassett
19.7.19

Peace-day was kept up in the village. The children had a tea in a barn kindly lent for the occasion, and the adults a meat tea; owing to the bad weather the sports were postponed until Sat the 26th.

Speenhamland
July 19th

We have been making preparations for the Peace Celebrations tomorrow, and work has to some extent been interrupted.

Bracknell
19th July 1919

Peace Celebrations.

During the day all school children were specially provided with a tea (followed by a tea for the general public). Sports were also provided for school children, preceded by a procession from the Hall through High Stand to the Sports Ground. All who had served in H. M. Forces during the war were entertained to dinner.

Log books of St John’s School. Caversham (89/SCH/14/1); King Street School, Maidenhead (C/EL77/1); Aldworth School (C/EL54/3); Lower Sandhurst School (C/EL66/1); Bracknell Church of England Mixed Primary School (C/EL45/3); St Peter’s CE School, Earley (SCH36/8/3); Cookham Alwyn Road School (88/SCH/18/1); Eastbury National Primary, Lambourn (D/P79B/28/2); Bouverie Pusey School, Charney Bassett (C/EL41/2); St Mary’s CE School, Speenhamland (C/EL119/3); Bracknell Church of England Mixed Primary School (C/EL45/3)

Cake to celebrate peace

10th July 1919
Cake for Peace Celebrations

The Master reported … that a quantity of cake would be required for the inmates in connection with the festivities for the Peace Celebration, and he was directed to make the best arrangements he could to obtain the same.

Report of Stores & Furnishing Committee, Reading Board of Guardians (G/R1/59)

Pork and fruit pies

Reading paupers were to be allowed a night off for the peace celebrations, as well as extra treats.

8th July 1919

Celebration of Peace

Reporting the receipt of a letter and order from the Local Government Board giving the Guardians power to make such modifications of the regulations in force with regard to the discipline and diet of the inmates of the Institution as may be deemed by them suitable for the occasion, and that the event should be celebrated in the Institution on such day or days, not exceeding two in number, as may be determined by the Guardians, and authorising reasonable expenditure in connection with the celebrations.

Recommending that such inmates who wish to go to their friends on the 19th inst may do so and stay the night if they wish. That on the night of the 19th those inmates who wish to do so may remain out until 9.30 pm, and the Master was directed to arrange with the Park Keeper to let them through the gates up to that time.

That tobacco and sweets be provided for the inmates on the 19th instant, and that Wednesday the 23rd instant be fixed for the day for the celebration of peace for the inmates of the Institution, that dinner shall be at 12 o’clock, that pork and fruit pies be provided, and that tobacco and sweets be included in the extras.

Report of House Committee, Reading Board of Guardians (G/R1/59)

“Various brothers gave some of their experiences during the time they were on active service”

More men were welcomed home.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

On Saturday, June 21st, we held the “Welcome Home Tea” to our Brothers who have been on active service, and are now demobilised. They numbered about 30, and a most pleasant evening was spent.

A meat tea was generously given by our President (C Steward Smith, Esq., JP) and afterwards various brothers gave some of their experiences during the time they were on active service. Musical items were rendered, and during the latter part of the evening coffee and sandwiches were served. It was really one of the best and most enjoyable evenings held in connection with the Brotherhood for many a day.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, July 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

A heartfelt “welcome back” to the men who had done and suffered so much for their country and for us

There was a warm welcome home for returning soldiers at Broad Street Chapel.

June

VARIOUS ANNOUNCEMENTS

It is proposed to give a “Welcome Home” to demobilised soldier and sailors connected with the church, in the Schoolroom, on Wednesday June 4th at 7 pm. A limited number of tickets for the tea and subsequent gathering will be sold to other friends at 1/6 each. Application for these tickets should be made to the Chapel-keeper or to any of the deacons.

July

“WELCOME HOME”

On Wednesday June 4th, members of the church and congregation assembled in the Schoolroom to give a cordial “Welcome Home” to men from the church and its various organisations who had been “demobilized”. About forty of these brethren attended, in response to the invitation which had been extended to them, and the whole proceedings were most enjoyable. At 7 o’clock the company sat down to a substantial tea which had been arranged by the wives of the deacons, and when the good things provided had been satisfactorily disposed of, the tables were cleared away for an informal meeting. Miss Vera Smith had very kindly arranged a capital programme of songs, recitations, etc, which were contributed by a number of her friends, and interspersed with the various items short speeches were delivered by several of the deacons.

The Minister was present, but owing to a relaxed throat, he was unable to speak. Mr Chas Steward Smith, JP, presided, and in fitting terms he gave a heartfelt “welcome back to Broad Street” to the men who had done and suffered so much for their country and for us. Other speakers in similar strain were Mr W. J. Brain, Mr Ernest Francis, Mr Swallow, and Mr Tibble. At the close, Mr W. J. Dance and Ex-Sergeant C. S. Stebbings voiced the gratitude of our guests for the welcome accorded them, and for the way in which the church had kept in touch with them by letters and parcels during their absence. The singing of “Auld Lang Syne” fittingly concluded a very happy gathering. Mr J Swallow was secretary, and Mr Tibble treasurer, of the committee which made arrangements for the function.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, June and July 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

A welcome to returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen of the Parish

Church of England Men’s Society

On April 29th, the CEMS decided to arrange a welcome to returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen of the Parish, on the Vicarage Lawn on Saturday, June 14th. It is hoped to have a concert, a band, and light refreshments.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, May 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)

Pleasure in seeing the men safe home again and good wishes to them on their return to civilian life

Hundreds of Reading men received a warm welcome home.

April

WELCOME HOME TO SOLDIERS AND SAILORS

A list of between 300 and 400 demobilised men resident in the parish or attached to the congregations has now been compiled. To each of these men a letter of welcome from the vicar is being delivered, and also an invitation to a social gathering of welcome for themselves and their wives, which is being held in St John’s Institute on April 9th. Refreshments will be provided and an attractive programme of music and recitations, and the vicar will express in a short speech his own pleasure and that of the parish in seeing the men safe home again and all our good wishes to them on their return to civilian life. Later, a service of thanksgiving for safe return will be held in St John’s Church: the date will be announced at the social meeting. There are still a great many men who have not yet returned to their homes. We shall always be glad to receive notifications of their arrival, and shall hope later on to arrange a second welcome home meant for the men who come later, and for any who may have been left out inadvertently from the present invitation.


May

WELCOME MEETING TO SOLDIERS AND SAILORS.

The first welcome home to Service men held on April 9th, was voted by all concerned a very great success. A good crowd of men accepted the Vicar’s invitation and duly turned up at the Institute accompanied by their wives, or mothers, or future wives, and there was a full house. The catering, looked after by Miss Simmons, was excellently carried out and full justice was done to the good things provided. After the tea and coffee and sandwiches had been disposed of, cigarettes and tobacco were passed round, and also sweets for the ladies, and the guests settled down to enjoy a programme remarkable for the variety and the excellence of its items. Perhaps the most popular number was that contributed by the infants from S. Stephen’s School. The little people presented ‘Nursery Rhymes’ in costume and with appropriate music. They received a tremendous ovation.

Now the welcome is over we are hearing of several men who were overlooked in the invitations. We can only say that we did our level best to compile a complete list of all returned men, and that no one was left out except by the veriest accident. We shall hope to have another welcome gathering soon for men coming home later; and shall be glad if friends would send in to the Vicarage the names of all men who were overlooked on the last occasion and also of all who have returned since.


Reading St. John parish magazine, April and May 1919 (D/P172/28A/24)

178,000 tons food a week for starving people in Germany

Germany’s surrender was complete.

15 March 1919

Germany accepted Allies’ terms – begin giving up merchant ships today, & to receive 178,000 tons food a week for starving people.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

“We were very pleased that we spent those four terrible years in England”

The Van Hoof family, who had spent the war as refugees in Maidenhead, returned home.

OUR BELGIAN REFUGEE FRIENDS.

41, Kapelstraat, Boom,
Prov. (Anvers), Belgie,

March 8th.

Dear Mrs. Lewis,-

I am very sorry I have not been able to write before, but we have been so busy that we have not found time to do anything but arrange things at home. We spent nearly a week travelling before we were home. Before going on the boat we had to stay two days in London, which we spent in sight seeing.

We went on the boat about one o’clock on Friday, 28th, and started to sail about 4 o’clock the same day. The weather was glorious all through the sea journey, so that we arrived in Antwerp on Sunday morning about 12 o’clock. Before we were off the boat nearly an hour had passed. One of my uncles was there to meet us, so that it was quite 5 o’clock before we got home. You can imagine our relatives’ joy at meeting us again. We spent the whole of that day in talking, talking, talking.

Our home was quite alright, but the furniture and many other things that were in it have been stolen or else much damaged. The blankets you gave us have come in very useful, for they are things of the past here. The people have suffered very much, and the clothing has been so dear that they used to have all spare blankets dyed (for garments). The food is now much cheaper, about the same as in England, except the meat and bread. That is nearly twice the price as that in England.

We were very pleased that we spent those four terrible years in England, and by the help of the Committee we suffered nothing to complain of. Thanking you for your goodness towards us, and hoping to receive an answer from you,

I remain, yours faithfully,

J. VAN HOOF

Think of that from a little Belgian girl, who did not know a word of English when she came to Maidenhead!

Maidenhead Congregational magazine, April 1919 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Workhouse food

Workhouses were going back to normal now that the food supply was better.

17th February 1919

The following letters were read and ordered to be filed for future reference viz:-

1. From the Local Government Board (1) with reference to the rationing scheme and stating that it had been decided that Poor Law Authorities might now revert to the issue of the dietary tables in force before the introduction of rationing…


Minutes of Abingdon Board of Guardians (G/A1/33)

Pigs scattered over Wargrave, Knowl Hill and Crazies Hill

When food was in increasingly short supply, some turned to keeping pigs.

The Wargrave Pig Club

The Annual Meeting was held on the 13th February. The Report and Balance Sheet were presented showing a balance on hand on 31st December last of £31 2s. 4d. The following is a copy of the Report:-

“The Wargrave Pig Club was formed at a meeting held in the Parish Room on 4th April, 1918, when the Officers and Committee for the year were elected. The membership has reached a total of 79, and at one time there were 290 pigs registered on the Club books.

The Parish Council gave permission for two rooms in the old District School buildings to be used as a store, and arrangements were made for members to attend there on Friday evenings to purchase pig food. The food has been procured by certificates issued by the Livestock Commissioner, and although there has sometimes been difficulty in getting the necessary quantity from the millers owing to the general shortage, there was only one week when millers’ offals were unobtainable. That however did not mean that the pigs were without food altogether, for, thanks to Mr. Bond generously advancing money with which to buy other kinds of pig food in large quantities, the Club had a good supply of unrationed pig meal in store, and the Committee were enabled to “carry on”. Altogether over 36 tons of feeding stuffs have been dealt with.

Mr. Bond has had erected at his own expense six capital sites on the Station Road Allotment ground which he has agreed to let to members of the Club at the low rent of 5s. a year. Five of these sites have been occupied. He also advanced money with which to purchase young pigs. 33 pigs have been so bought and resold to members at the actual cost price.

Sir William Cain provided the sum of £6 for prizes for the best bacon hog. Mr. A.B. Booth £3 3s., for porkers, and Mr. Bond £3 as extra prizes. Mr. Rose and Mr. A’Bear acted as judges, all the pigs being viewed in their own sites. The prizes were distributed at a meeting of the Club members on 3rd December.

The competing pigs being scattered over Wargrave, Knowl Hill and Crazies Hill, it occupied the judges the whole of one day for inspection. The Committee offer them their sincerest thanks for undertaking this work.

One of the objects of the Club is the insurance of pigs and although 27 members paid premiums, the Club only had one claim to settle.

Wargrave parish magazine, March 1919 (D/P145/28A/31)

Discontinuing oatmeal

The food supply was now getting back to normal.

11th February 1919
re Dietary

Letter from the Local Government Board that the Guardians might now revert to the use of the dietary tables in use before the introduction of rationing.

Letter from the Matron re dietary suggesting the reverting to the old scale of bread for Breakfast and supper only, discontinuing oatmeal, the present allowance of bread for dinner to remain, and the Guardian approved the suggestion.

Faringdon Board of Guardians minutes (G/F1/44)

Increased Home Production of Food is as necessary and as urgent as ever

Food would still be an issue in the first year of peace.

The Food Controller assures us that Increased Home Production of Food is as necessary and as urgent as ever. More Allotments must be cultivated, larger Crops must be grown, if a shortage in the coming Summer and Autumn is to be avoided. The remedy for such shortage is to

SOW WEBSTER’S NOTED SEEDS.

Their quality this year is unusually high, but stocks of many kinds are limited.

Therefore Order Early.

124 High Street, & Station Front, Maidenhead

Advertisement in Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, February and March 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)