Food is very scarce

William Hallam (working the night shift in Swindon) heard of food shortages in the Midlands.

18th October 1917

A beautiful starlit night. Home at 6 this morning and lit the fire, washed and had my breakfast, and was in bed at ½ past 7 where I stayed till 4, but did not get a lot of sleep. My bro. George wrote from Coventry. He says food is very scarce there.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

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“Some excess in food has been going on” – but families should get more sugar

Food restrictions were well under way in Newbury.

October 18th, 1917.

Maximum Prices

The Committee have fixed the maximum retail price of milk (delivered) as follows:

For the month of October, 2s per gallon, and 6d per quart, and from November to March inclusive, 2s 4d per gallon, and 7d per quart, prices for all other measures to be in proportion.

The Committee have under consideration the question of Meat prices and Butter.

Sugar Distribution Scheme (Manufacturers, Caterers, Institutions)

Very valuable assistance has been given by a member of the Committee, not a member of the Council, in dealing with these applications. Many more applications have been received from Manufacturers than estimated, and a great deal of delay has been caused in issuing the vouchers, owing to the difficulty of getting further supplies from the supplying department.

The rationing under the scheme, of Manufacturers and Caterers, should mean a very appreciable increase in the amount of sugar available for private consumption. The Committee would put on record that such rationing has been carried out strictly under the rules of the Food Control Department, that is for Manufacturers, 11 ½ per cent of their 1915 supply, for the period covered by the immediate authorities, and for Caterers and Institutions, on the basis of 2-7ths of an oz. per meal, with certain modifications to meet special restrictions such as those against afternoon teas for people who live out in Institutions, and allowances against the sugar used in cakes in certain classes of catering business.

Householders Applications

These applications on the whole are not very incorrectly [sic] filled in, a good many being traced who had omitted the address, by names of schools being inserted on the forms. Voluntary assistance has been given in filing applications, writing envelopes, etc, and all sugar cards should be out early this week.

Hotels, Restaurants

We regret to say that the registers required to be kept under the “Public Meals Order” have not been very well kept in many cases, and that some excess in food has been going on. We hope that this is now stopped.

Food Economy Campaign

The Committee have received a communication from the Ministry of Food asking them to set up a special committee for this purpose, but they have decided to deal with such a campaign, as the question arises, at meetings of the full committee.

We received 48 applications for licences to sell sugar, from retailers, 47 licences have been granted, one application being refused by the Committee on the grounds that no legitimate retail business was in existence.

Flour Compensation

The Committee and their staff were given a good deal of work in connection with this matter.

Potato Licences

The Committee received a large number of applications for dealing in potatoes, the majority of which have been dealt with. They have some late applications which have just come in.

Members of the Committee for the Sugar Distribution Scheme had to meet on an average twice a week, to deal with the above, and also in regard to Flour Compensation, and other details of their work.

Newbury Borough: Report of the Food Control Committee (N/AC1/2/8)

“Days & nights in water and mud is very trying”

An army chaplain reported on his experiences with men just back from the front lines for a short break.

19 October 1917

Mother received a letter from the Sub-Warden on the 17th inst. from which the following are extracts:

“We have just emerged from a very uncomfortable and strenuous time, & are resting in a little French village. The men are splendid, but it was heart-breaking to see them all getting out of the train which brought them straight from the front…

With considerable difficulty we managed to have thin blankets for them all to get into and fall asleep. Already food and rest have changed them wonderfully, & their poor feet are better. Days & nights in water and mud is very trying.

I shall never forget a Mass in a crowded dugout the day before they went in. Halfway through the service, 2 officers managed to slip into the doorway; there was no other spot. I remember them so well crouching in a very uncomfortable position, and shutting out all of what little light could get in. Only the 2 candles on the altar. They made their Communion. It was their Viaticum. GOD rest their souls!”

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

A refugee from the air raids

Yattendon children were sent out to pick horse chestnuts (for munitions) and blackberries (for jam to send to the troops).

Yattendon CE School
Octr 10th

Holiday given this afternoon to enable the children to gather horse chestnuts, which are asked for by the Ministry of Munitions.

Received circular re “Picking Blackberries” from Education Committee.

Abingdon Conduit Rd Infants School
10th October 1917

Re-opened school after fair holiday, admitted one boy (from London – a refugee from the air raids).

Log books of Yattendon CE School (SCH37/8/3) and Abingdon Conduit Rd Infants School (C/EL4/2)

Beautiful gifts of fruit, vegetables and eggs

Harvest Festival gifts went to local hospitals treating wounded soldiers.

Hare Hatch Notes

The Harvest Festival was held on Sunday, October 7th. The number of communicants and the congregations throughout the day were, in spite of the bad weather, really most encouraging…

The gifts, especially those of fruit and vegetables, were more than we have had before, this in itself was a pleasant sight, but the object to which they were devoted made these gifts more acceptable. Twenty-three new laid eggs were brought by the members of the Sunday School…

Letters of thanks and appreciation have been received as follows…

“The Secretary of the Royal Berks Hospital begs to thank you for your kind present of Harvest gifts for the use of the patients.”

From the Woodclyffe Auxilliary Hospital, Wargrave:

“I need hardly tell you how very much the beautiful gifts of fruit, vegetables etc, from your Harvest Festival are being appreciated, and we send very many thanks to all who sent them. H.R. Marshall, for Commandant.”

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

“The attempt of our enemies to starve us has practically failed”

In Earley people were grateful for good weather, which looked set to relieve the pressure on the food supply.

The Vicar’s Letter

My dear friends

Autumn is drawing on apace, and we have again reached the time for our Harvest Thanksgiving, which is fixed for Sunday, October 7th.

This year we ought to be especially thankful. At one time our outlook as regards food appeared to be far from satisfactory, but God has blessed us during the past month with such weather that in most districts the greater part of the harvest has been gathered in without much damage, and the attempt of our enemies to starve us by unrestricted submarine warfare, though still serious, has practically failed. Surely we ought to join together in our thanksgivings, and especially at Holy Communion, with a deepened sense of what we owe to God for our nation and for ourselves.

And while we are thanking God for our material harvest, let us all think of those fields which are ripe for the spiritual harvest in India, Canada, South Africa, and throughout the world… Do we realise as we ought the enormous responsibility that will rest upon our country after the war for the spiritual harvest of the world?

Your friend and Vicar
W W Fowler.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

“I could not say there was accommodation enough for a pig (much less a man) anywhere except in the cellars of ruined houses”

Civilians in wartorn northern France and Belgium suffered terribly due to the war.

Movement in Reading in aid of the Relief of Sufferers by the War in France and Belgium.

Friends at Trinity will no doubt be interested to know that a movement in the above direction has been initiated by the Reading Broad Street Brotherhood. The objective is to supplement the efforts now being made in other towns and in the colonies, and in continuation of efforts already made which have abundantly testified to the Christian sympathy which exists towards those who have suffered so acutely through no fault of their own. A relief fund of £20,000 is contemplated, a very large part of which has already been subscribed by Canadians, by London and other cities, towards which also many small towns have contributed nobly and generously.

It is supposed that the good lead of Basingstoke with its generous promise of £100 in cash, besides clothing, &C., Reading will not wish to be excluded from taking part.

It is proposed to collect both in cash and kind, as in some of the large townships in France (Lille in particular, which is the Manchester of France), the civil population – men, women and children – are in rags, not having had any opportunity of purchasing clothing and boots for 2.5 years (since the German occupation).

Clothing (cast-off and new) will therefore prove most acceptable, also boots.

Those who have seen tell us that the homes of the people in the country towns and villages are ruined-walls broken and roofs fallen. A witness on the spot says:

“In a large town it was my orders to report how many houses were fit for billeting British soldiers, and after visiting with a comrade every house in the place (about the size of Reading) there was not a single house with an unbroken roof, and I could not say there was accommodation enough for a pig (much less a man) anywhere except in the cellars of ruined houses such as I and my comrades occupied.”

Wood houses are already being prepared in sections in this country to be despatched to Northern France and Belgium directly the way opens-facilities having been promised for this purpose as soon as possible by our own Government. A wood house thus prepared can be erected by a few men within a day of arrival, and it cost would be about £40. Seed for gardens, food, flour, blankets, &c will also be despatched.

Interested readers can secure further information by sending two penny stamps to the national Brotherhood Offices, 37, Norfolk Street, London, W.C., when they will be supplied with a pamphlet entitled “The Story of Lille, and its associations with the Brotherhood Movement,” and which describes the Brotherhood Crusade of 1909 A.D. and the practical relief already given.

Locally, every Church, adult School, and Christian Society in Reading will later on be invited to join hands with the Relief Committee connected with Broad Street Men’s Brotherhood, the secretary being Mr. A. Woolley, 85, Oxford Street, Reading.

Further information may also be obtained from J. Harper, “Chelmarsh,” 42, Crown Street, Reading.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

The first War-Time Vegetable Show is a big success

The shortages resulting from restricted imports and the lack of agricultural labour led to efforts to encourage civilians to grow their own vegetables.

June 1917
The War-time Vegetable Show

Schedules, giving all particulars of the War-time Vegetable Show, which will be held on Wednesday, October 3rd, are now ready and can be obtained from members of the Committee, or from MR. H. Coleby, Hon. Secretary, at the Schools. It is hoped that intending exhibitors will read the rules carefully, noting especially numbers 2 and 4, respecting the dates of entries. Certificates of Entries will be found at the end of the Schedules.

November 1917
The Gardeners’ Association

The first War-Time Vegetable Show was held on Wednesday afternoon, October 3rd, and proved a big success. The Committee worked hard and splendid examples of what can be done in Vegetable Growing when men put their backs into it, were exhibited; more potatoes might have been shown with advantage, and the competition would have been much keener. The Judges were loud in their praises of the work that had been accompanied by the Gardeners’ Association in conjunction with the Wargrave Food Production Committee and hoped to find a much more ambitious show next year. The local newspapers contain a complete prize list so it is unnecessary to give it again in the Magazine.

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

The War has brought home to us our dependence on our daily food in a way unknown to most of us before

The vicar of Maidenhead All Saints reminded his flock about the work of merchant seamen bringing food to the country, and of church workers comforting the troops close behind the lines.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-…

St Peter’s Harvest Festival is to be held at the end of this month (September 30th)… And this Harvest we have, indeed, much for which to be thankful. The War has brought home to us our dependence on our daily food in a way unknown to most of us before. We have to thank God for the labours of our farm workers and allotment holders, who, in the face of an inclement Spring, have greatly increased our food supply; for the valour of our Navy, that has convoyed our store ships past many perils; for the steadfastness and courage of our Merchant Sailors, who, risking often sudden death or lingering suffering, have yet dared to go on faithfully bringing grain and meat and other things for the maintenance of our people.

Lastly; sometimes people ask me for the name of some Charity to which they may give a donation, outside the Parish. Just now few deserve more support than the Church Army Recreation Hut Fund. There are over 800 in full work. All are under the auspices of the Church, and special provision is made for those who wish for a quiet place for prayer or study. They are, also, available and used for Church Services. I feel thy deserve great support, for, excellent as the work of the Y.M.C.A. usually is, these Church Army Huts make a still greater claim on our generosity as Church people; that our men should not feel that the Church has in any way neglected them. Any donations should be sent to the Secretary, Church Army Headquarters, 55, Bryanston Street, Marble Arch, London, W.1.

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

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, September 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Escape in a barrel

Florence Vansittart Neale’s nephew Lieutenant Paul Eddis was a submarine officer who had been interned in neutral Denmark for some time. He made a daring escape hidden in a barrel.

Florence Vansittart Neale
30 September 1917

Exciting letter of Paul’s escape. He home Friday. Got in barrel….

Too full moon! Fear raids. General Maude’s victory in Mesopotamia very good.

30th week of air raids. Met by barrage of fire. 3 balloons brought down.

Heard of Paul’s arrival & escape in barrel to waiting yacht 15 hours! Evading destroyers [illegible] to Helsingborn.

William Hallam
30th September 1917

Up at 10 past 5 and working from 6 till 1. Beautiful weather still and the nights as light as can be with a full harvest moon – just right for those air raiders. After dinner – roast lamb fowl too dear; 1/9 a lb, I went to bed … A gloriously bright moonlight night.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Dandelions and devastation

Members of the Broad Street Brotherhood, the men’s group at Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading were supporting the war effort in whatever ways they could; and also helping civilians in the devastated occupied regions. Regional rivalry came into play, with the men not wanting to show up poorly in comparison with Basingstoke.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

Some of our members have intimated a desire to start a War Savings Association in connection with our Brotherhood, similar to what is being done at other Brotherhoods and churches up and down the country.

The matter has been carefully considered by a small sub-committee, and it is felt that it is hardly necessary to open a fresh savings department, but any member can purchase these War Savings Certificates through our already existing Savings Bank.

We most strongly recommend these war savings certificates to the earnest attention of every member as not only are they financially sound, but each one purchased is directly helping our country to victory.

Brother Hendey will be pleased to give particulars and carry through any transaction.

We take this opportunity of thanking many of our brothers who have during the past months loyally and painstakingly worked to keep the allotments in order for the brothers who are at the Front.

This has been a fine example of practical brotherhood work.

It is our sad duty to have to record the death of our Brother Frank Ward, who made the supreme sacrifice for us in France just recently.

He is the fourth member of our Brotherhood who has given his life for his country.

BROTHERHOOD CONTINENTAL RELIEF

Our constituency will no doubt be interested in the movement in Reading in aid of sufferers by the war in France and Belgium, which has been initiated by the Broad Street Brotherhood.

Their object is to supplement the efforts now being made in other towns, and in the colonies (and in continuation of efforts previously made) to express the Christian sympathy which exists towards those victims who, although innocent, have suffered acutely through the war. The National Brotherhood Council are aiming at a contemplated relief fund of £20, 000, a very large part of which has already been subscribed. The Brotherhoods of Canada have sent large sums, as well as London and the great centres of industrial life in England. It is believed that Reading will not want to take second position to Basingstoke, where the generous promise of £100 in cash, besides clothing, books, etc, has been made. It is proposed to collect both in cash and kind.

In several of the large townships of Northern France and Belgium the civil population is in rags. For instance Lille (the Manchester of France), having been in the occupation of Germany for 2 ½ years, has had no chance whatever of providing her people with clothing, even if they had the means to purchase. Clothing, boots (cast off or new), seeds, blankets, or anything of portable, useful and lasting character will be acceptable, and later on fruit trees.

A witness on the spot (Near the Somme) says “the fruit trees, large and small, are ruined; but little remains of pleasing appearance except dandelions, and they cover desolation almost everywhere.” A large town (about the size of Reading) had not a roof left whole upon any one building. In a report given to headquarters he said there was no accommodation for men whatsoever (not even for a pig) except in the cellars of ruined houses, such as he then lived (slept) in personally.

The country people, who crowded into the towns, had to hurriedly vacate their homes which were in the path of the then advancing enemy, and could only carry what they stood upright in. They have had no chance, many of them, since to return; and if they had done so they would have found (as some did) that not a tree in the garden, not a vestige of furniture or other property, and a ruin of the actual building. The writer of the foregoing testimony says that for 9 weeks he never saw a civilian (man, woman or child) although frequently on the move, and for long distances.

Wood houses are being prepared in sections in this country for the purpose of being despatched to Northern France and Belgium directly the way opens, and facilities for this purpose have been promised by the governments of Great Britain and France as soon as possible. A wood house thus prepared can be erected by a few men, within a day, upon arrival at its destination, and its total cost would be about £40. Who will buy one for “La belle France”?

Interested readers can secure further information by sending two penny stamps to The National Brotherhood Offices, 37 Norfolk Street, London WC2, when they should ask for a pamphlet entitled “The story of Lille and its associations with the Brotherhood Movement”. This pamphlet describes the Brotherhood Crusade of 1909 AD and the practical relief already given. Locally, every church, adult school and Christian Society in Reading will be asked later on to join hands with the relief committee connected with Broad Street Men’s Brotherhood, whose secretary, Mr WA Woolley, 85 Oxford Road, Reading, is associated with Bros Mitchell, Hendey and Harper in this great work.

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Commence the 1918 food campaign

Maidenhead gardeners and allotment holders were urged again to make the most of their vegetable gardens.

Great Success of Webster’s Noted Seeds at Cox Green Show.

Many Valuable Prizes won by our Customers.

COMMENCE THE 1918 FOOD CAMPAIGN
By Sowing at once the Fine Stocks of

WEBSTER’S PEDIGREE ONION.
WEBSTER’S SUPERB CABBAGE.
WEBSTER’S CHOICE TURNIPS.

Perfect your present Crops by Dressing with Good CHEMICAL FERTILISERS.

WE STOCK ALL THE STANDARD KINDS.

J. P. WEBSTER, FRHS, SEEDSMAN AND HORTICULTURAL SUNDRIESMAN,
124 High Street, & Station Front, Maidenhead
ALSO AT COOKHAM AND BOURNE END.

The Richer Your Land the Heavier Your Crop by the Use of Fertilisers.

Advertisement in Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, September 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Food from Harvest “will be greatly appreciated by the wounded men in hospital”

Worshippers at Broad Street Church sent their Harvest Festival offerings to the Royal Berkshire Hospital for wounded soldiers.

HARVEST FESTIVAL

The Harvest Thanksgiving Services, held on Sunday, September 23rd, afforded joy and inspiration to all who were able to attend. The church was very prettily and effectively decorated for the occasion. A plentiful supply of fruit, vegetables, flowers, etc, had been provided…

On the following day the good things provided were conveyed by Mr Bunce to the Royal Berks Hospital, for the wounded soldiers who are there.

Mr Rawlinson [the minister] has since received the following letter from the secretary of that institution:

“Dear Sir

Many thanks for your letter, and for the eggs, fruit, vegetables, flowers, bread, etc, which arrived yesterday.

These will be greatly appreciated by the wounded men in hospital, and I should be grateful if you would accept for yourself, and kindly convey to all concerned, an expression of our warmest thanks for this generous present.

I am, dear Sir,
Yours faithfully

Herman Burney
Secretary”

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

The annual Harvest Festival in connection with the church was held on Sunday September 23rd, and as usual our brothers contributed very liberally with fruit and vegetables from their allotments.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Patriotic work which may be of great value to the nation

Instructions were issued for organising the collection of horse chestnuts for use in munitions.

Horse Chestnuts

The Board of Education has issued a circular letter conveying a request from the Minister of Munitions and Food Controller that the Schools should assist in the Collection of Horse Chestnuts.

Neither the teachers not the children are to be asked to do this work as part of their School work, and there is no proposal that the Government should pay for the nuts. Whatever is done will be patriotic work which may be of great value to the nation.

It has been found that, for certain processes, horse chestnuts can be used in place of grain and it is stated that for every “ton of hose-chestnuts which are harvested, half a ton of grain can be saved for human consumption.”

The chestnuts must be collected into heaps in convenient places, preferably under cover; exposure to the weather will not, however, damage the nuts provided the interior of the heap does not heat.

Before being deposited at the Collecting Station they should be freed from the outer green husk, the shells of the nuts being left intact, if the husks are not removed heating of the heap will certainly take place.

When the collection is complete information will be sent to the Director of Propellant Supplies, stating the estimated quantity of the collection, and the Ministry of Munitions will arrange to remove the nuts and forward them to the factories in the course of the winter.

The work will not commence til October, but in the meantime if owners of trees are inclined to invite children to collect the nuts it will be of great assistance if they will kindly inform the Vicar or the Schoolmaster, and also if they will state whether they can lend baskets or sacks for the purpose.

Particular trees will probably be assigned to particular children, so that the work may be done as far as possible without any sort of loss or damage.

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

Scarborough under attack

Sir Henry Vansittart Neale served on the local (Maidenhead) Tribunal hearing conscientious objectors’ and essential workers’ cases against conscription. Meanwhile, the Yorkshire town of Scarborough was being attacked from the sea.

5 September 1917

Men out on river. About 40 came. Henry at Tribunal & Food Production meetings…

Bombardment of Scarborough.

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