By wasting food we are helping our enemies

The vicar of Earley issued a rebuke to those wasting food.

THE VICAR’S LETTER
My dear friends,

After one of the longest and coldest winters that have been recorded for a century, we have suddenly plunged into summer; May has been a perfect month for the crops, most of the time lost has already been made up, and there are on every side signs of an abundance of produce of all kinds. Ought we not to be thankful to God for this answer to our prayers, and to pray that he may grant us in these times of stress a successful ingathering?

Ought we not also to be thankful that the prospect of a serious shortage in our food supplies seems gradually to be diminishing? Let us remember, however, that it depends upon ourselves; if we are lavish or wasteful the danger is a very imminent one: if only everyone would realise the evil of waste, things would be very different, but, in spite of all that is said or done, it still goes on.

We still see bread and other food thrown away in the streets, apparently by children whose parents have carelessly given them more food to take with them than they can eat; it may not be much, but it is a sign of the times that wants strict looking after. By wasting food we are helping our enemies, there is no doubt whatever of this, we are prolonging the war and so endangering the lives of thousands of our soldiers and our fellow countrymen…

Your friend and vicar
W W Fowler

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

A splendid address on Duty and Patriotism that even the tiniest could understand

Empire Day was the focus for patriotic expressions in schools across the county.

Piggott Schools, Wargrave
Empire Day

The children of the Piggott Schools celebrated Empire Day (May 24th) in right loyal fashion. They assembled at the School, and with flags flying, marched down to Church where a short service was held. The Vicar gave an appropriate address. Re-assembling on the Church Green they proceeded to the Schools and took their places round the flag pole from which the Union Jack was flying. A good number of parents and friends of the children with many of the soldiers from the hospital were waiting their return. As the boys passed the soldiers they gave them a salute in recognition of what they had done for their country.

The National Anthem was sung, and the flag saluted, and Miss. E. Sinclair gave a splendid address on Duty and Patriotism in such a way that even the tiniest could understand it. Capt. Bird proposed a vote of thanks to Miss Sinclair and hearty cheers were given in which the soldiers joined. Three Patriotic and Empire Songs were sung by the children, the Vicar called for cheers for the Teachers, and Mr. Coleby announced that Mrs. Cain had most kindly provided buns and sweets for all as they left the grounds. Hearty cheers were given her for her thoughtfulness. Cheers for the King concluded the proceedings.

Alwyn Road School, Cookham
May 24th 1917

Empire Day was celebrated today. The Headmaster addressed the children assembled in the Hall, and the National Anthem was sung. The children then went to their classrooms and ordinary lessons proceeded till 11 o’clock. Each class teacher then gave a lesson on “Empire” and kindred subjects till 11.30. This was followed by a Writing Lesson when some of the important facts were taken down.

The school assembled in the Hall again at 11.55 and after a few more remarks by the Headmaster the national Anthem was again sung and the children dismissed.

Opportunity was taken of this morning’s addresses to instil into the children’s minds the necessity of economising in the use of all food stuffs, and more especially of bread and flour.

A holiday was granted in the afternoon. (more…)

A golden gleam of hope

The controversial question of working on Sundays was challenged due to war conditions.

THE VICAR’S LETTER

My dear friends

Holy Week and April begin together, the 1st of April is Palm Sunday and the 8th is Easter Day. Never were the lessons of the season ore needed than in this time of stress and trouble, through which however there runs ever widening the golden gleam of hope…

We have recently had an urgent call to enrol ourselves for National Service, and we hope that all, men and women, will do their best to answer that call.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a notice that, during the present stress, agricultural and horticultural work may, if it is considered necessary, be undertaken on Sundays. This does not mean that the Sunday Services are to be neglected; our own Bishop writes as follows on the subject in the Diocesan magazine:

“If the Minister of Agriculture makes a serious demand for Sunday labour in the next few weeks for the sake of the food supply, I agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury that the Church ought not to object, but to do the utmost to make spiritual provision for the workers in unusual ways outside the hours of work. The Church has generally approved of such Sunday labour as is necessary to prepare and save the crops.”

We believe that most Church people are doing their best to reverence the day, while working part of it, but we fear that, throughout the country, many, who hardly ever enter a place of worship, are making the Archbishop’s utterance an excuse for throwing off the restraint which they have been constrained to show out of respect to general custom…

Your friend and vicar
W W Fowler

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

We do not forget

The Bishop congratulated the Revd T Guy Rogers, the Reading vicar turned army chaplain, on being awarded a medal for bravery.

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the November Diocesan Magazine:

Your prayers are asked especially
For the good hand of God upon us in the war.
For our allies and especially for Roumania [sic].
For the National Mission…

Your thanksgivings are asked…
For the liberation of the Missionaries in German East Africa.

THE DIFFICULTY ABOUT EVENING SERVICES

I most heartily trust that neither in town parishes nor in country parishes will the evening service on Sundays be abandoned without a very strong effort to carry it on under conditions of lighting which the police can sanction…

THE DEFINITION OF RESIDENCE FOR PURPOSES OF BANNS

I wish to call attention again to the ruling under which I act, given by my Chancellor… to the effect that a person’s normal home where he or she is known may be reckoned as place of residence, though the person in question is at the moment absent whether on military service or for some other purpose.

We are all delighted to know that Mr Guy Rogers has been given the Military Cross. We do not forget him.

COMFORTS FOR THE TROOPS

I have received a letter from the Director General of Voluntary Organisations expressing great anxiety as to the sufficient supply of comforts for the troops, such as mittens, mufflers, helmets and socks, especially the three first. I am asked to ‘secure the co-operation of the clergy’ in my dioceses to make the anxiety known. The following are depots of the V.O.A. in this diocese…

Berkshire: W. C. Blandy, esq, 1 Friar Street, Reading…
Reading: D. Haslam, jun., esq, 16 Duke Street, Reading…

C. OXON

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:

William Monger, George Slaughter, William Hewett, Harold Hales, Cecil Hales, William Brown, Albert Bishop, George O’Dell, Frederick Eady, Herbert Ballard, Alfred Clibbon, George Breakspear, Albert Gray, Harry Rixon, Walter Rosser, Rupert Wigmore, William Butler, Walter Drown, Percy Prater.

In addition to those already mentioned we especially commend the following to your prayers:

Killed: Percy Wyer, Walter May, Ernest Bishop.
Sick: Edward Iles, Charles Webb, William Wright.
Wounded: William Holmes, Frank, Fowler, Harry Merry, Arthur Morrice, Leonard Strong.
Wounded and Missing: Frank Snellgrove.
Missing: Edward Taylor.

CONCERT IN ST PETER’S HALL

On Wednesday, November 29th, there will be a concert in St Peter’s Hall to help provide funds for giving a Christmas Dinner and Entertainment to a party of Wounded Soldiers. Mr E. Love and party are working up an excellent programme, and we hope our readers will help to make the concert a great success by supporting it as much as they can.

Earley parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/11)

Reported wounded and missing long ago in Gallipoli

Children and adults in Bracknell contributed what they could to the war.

EGGS FOR THE WOUNDED.

During the last seven months from January, 1916, 1,106 eggs have been sent to Reading for the National Egg collection.

I should like to take this opportunity to thank on behalf of the Soldiers all those who have sent eggs, and also Mr. Barnard, who has most kindly conveyed them to Reading free of charge. I hope that everyone will continue to send as many eggs as possible each week either direct to the Vicarage or to Mr. May, High Street.

A.M. BARNETT.

WAR WORK.

Names of some of the Bracknell Children who have lately sent knitting to the War Work Depot:- Ethel Brant, Alice Cheney, Phoebe White, Amelia Quick, Phyllis Gough, Dorothy Gale, Mary Wera, May Rance, Grace Fowler, Evelyn Townshend, Margery Metson, Ethel Morley, D. Townshend.

We regret the news has now come through that Jack Franks, who was reported wounded and missing long ago in Gallipoli, is dead. He was one of our choir boys, and though it is now some years since the family left Bracknell, many of us remember him very well, and much sympathy is felt for his mother.

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Magazine, August 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/8)

Pray for wisdom in dealing with the objectors to military service

The Earley parish magazine was to be sent out to men from the parish serving overseas.

The following are extracts from the Bishop’s message in the May Diocesan magazine:

Your prayers are asked specially…

For candidates for Holy Orders: for the maintenance of vocation in those who have gone to the war: and an increased supply after the war….
For our army in Mesopotamia.
For guidance for our rulers.
For the maintenance of industrial peace.
For wisdom in dealing with the objectors to military service.
For British and other prisoners of war in German camps.

C.E.M.S.

It has been suggested that some of those now on Active Service would appreciate a copy of the Parish magazine or the quarterly magazine of the C.E.M.S., and the members of the Earley Branch have undertaken to forward a number of copies each month.

If this should come to the notice of anyone living in the parish who has a friend or relation at the Front or with the Fleet likely to be interested in a copy, I should be grateful for his name and full service address.

Wm H Keep
Acting Hon. Secretary
7, Melrose Avenue

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:
Herbert Bacon, Robert Neale, Philip Pocock, Percy Smith, Louis Taylor, Albert Davies, Jesse Chivers, Frank Burchell, Arthur Hosler, Owen Lewington, Walter Copperthwaite, George Smith, Reginald Merry, Tom Bosley, Frank Fowler, Albert Newberry, Sidney Newberry.

In addition to those already mentioned we especially commend the following to your prayers:

Sick: Renton Dunlop.
Killed in Action: Sidney Marshall.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/5)

Cigarettes and cakes for wounded soldiers

The people of Earley continued to support entertainment for wounded soldiers, complete with food and smoking sessions.

EARLEY WOUNDED SOLDIERS’ ENTERTAINMENT FUND

Since my report of 28th February, two more Entertainments have been given, and as they have been on similar lines, there is no need for me to occupy space regarding same, except to say that they are still very greatly appreciated by our guests. In justice to those who have so generously supported us by contributions in cash and kind, I append a list, made up to date, in continuation of that published in December last, except the Christmas Entertainment which was reported in the March Magazine. In the March Report on the position of the Fund it was subsequently found that payment had not been made, as agreed, for the use of the Hall, or for hire of conveyances; consequently it was necessary to issue a further appeal, which I am glad to report has met with a most generous response, and there will be no difficulty in continuing the Entertainments up to Easter. The Committee desire em to express their gratitude to all.

List of Donors
£ s d
Nov. 29th Cash received to date 32 4 11
Miss George 2 6
Mrs Lily 5 0
Mrs Jordan 5 0
Mr Heelas 1 0 0
Heelas, Ltd 5 0
Anon 2 6
Miss Montizambert 10 0
Mr and Miss Jordan, for prizes 1 6
Miss Maurice 10 0
Collected by Miss Eileen Joel 3 0 0
Mrs Lilly 1 0
Miss Carlsson 10 0
Miss Jordan 2 0
Mr A C Jordan 10 0
Mrs Jordan 2 6
Miss Jordan 2 0
Mr Jas Hissey 10 0
Mr Rogers 1 6
Mrs Lilly 2 6
Mrs Jordan 2 6
Miss Jordan 2 0
Anon 2 6
Mrs Witherington 5 0
Mrs Marshall 5 0
Ms Jordan 2 6
Miss Jordan 2 0

The following since second appeal:

Mr Wooldridge 2 6
Miss Goodwin 5 0
Misses George 5 0
Mr F F Ellis 5 0
Miss Pither 5 0
Mr and Mrs Francis 5 0
Miss Schofield 1 1 0
Mr and Mrs Robb 10 0
Mrs Marshall 2 6
Mrs Evans 2 0 0
Mrs King 5 0
Mrs Lilly 4 0
Mrs and Miss Jordan 5 0

Collected by Miss Eileen Joel as follows:
Mr Watson 1 0 0
Miss Eileen Joel 6 0
Miss Carlsson 10 0
Mlle Weill 10 0
Master Stanhope Joel 5 0
Master Dudley Joel 5 0
Mr Collins 5 0
Miss Dellow 2 6
Miss Goodfellow 2 6
Stud Groom 3 0
Miss Lovegrove 2 6
Miss Eyles 2 0
3 13 6

Mr E Shaw 10 0
Capt. Wheble 2 0 0
Mr Rushbrooke 1 1 0
Mrs Witherington 5 0
The Misses Hannaford 10 0
The Misses Beauchamp 10 0
Mr and Mrs S O Bastow 5 0
Mrs and Miss Jordan 5 0
Mrs Wilkinson 2 6
Miss May 5 0
Anon 2 6
Rev. Canon and Mrs Fowler 1 0 0

Total to date 57 13 11

Loan of motors since last report: Mrs Joel, Mr Barnard, Mr Heelas, Mr Richard Lea, Mr Helps, Mr Bonnett, Mrs Dunlop.

GIFTS IN KIND

Mrs Honey, Mr B Francis, Mr Hedington, Mr Culham, Miss Dellow, Mrs Masser, Miss Carlsson, cigarettes; Mrs Robb, cigarettes and cake; Mlle Weill, prizes and cigars; Miss Lea, cakes; Mrs Bright, cakes; Mr A C Jordan, sweets; Mrs Ballard, cake, bread and butter; Mrs Porter, cakes; Miss Pither, apples; Mr Harris, bread; The Misses Hannaford, cakes, Mrs Friedlander, apples; Mrs Dracup, prizes; Miss Carlsson, sugar and tea; Miss Wain, prizes; Mr and Mrs Masser, oranges.

NB – The Hon. Secretary, Mr Love, 55 Wokingham Road, would be obliged by a note of intended gifts in kind at least one day before an Entertainment, so as to avoid ordering similar provisions. Next Entertainment, Wednesday, April 5th.

Chas J Howlett,
Hon Treasurer
27th March, 1916

Earley St Peter parish magazine, April 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/4)

Grim, but good: German dead stacked like flies on French wire

Maysie Wynne-Finch was beginning to settle down in Windsor. She continued to be outraged by cronyism in high places – and not a fan of Winston Churchill.

Mar. 10/16
Elgin Lodge
Windsor

My darling R.

Thank heaven our stay was not long in the White Hart. We like this little house more every day, it’s getting quite nice as we have got more of our own stuff here, lamps etc. I do wish you could come and stay!…

Yes, the Russian doings seem to be near to you. I hear one Division was returned from Egypt without even landing not long ago. It certainly appears that things are working up to the grand finale in the west. The French are splendid. John saw a man who had been talking to Clive our liason officer at Verdun, last Saturday 4th, Clive had returned that day, & said that Friday night 3rd, the French had a single man of their general reserve up – & were absolutely confident. That’s a week ago, but as far as one can judge from the papers things have not altered much. Clive also said he’d seen himself the Hun dead as the papers described like flies on the French wires by 100s & also in dense droves packed upright in dead stacks. It’s grim, but good.

Rumour has it, too, that as at Ypres in 1914 the Huns were heavily doped, & appeared quite drugged as if not knowing what they were doing. Mabel Fowler told me, who had heard through General Ruggles Brice, who was on leave from France & had seen a French General who told him.

Poor Meg, these are anxious days. No one seems to doubt that some kind of naval activity is coming. Jim wrote as much to me. Wasn’t Arthur B’s answer to Winston perfect. The latter seems to have taken leave of his senses. The only thing that gives me misgiving is that the Admiralty have sanctioned that scandal of G Sutherland’s command. You must know all about it – probably have sent him. It’s too outrageous – Eileen worked it through Lambert one hears, but why was it allowed? Lambert isn’t alone. Eric Chaplin military advisor, forsooth. It beats even army staff appointments!! I never thought the navy would have civilians in sailors’ shoes – it’s affair disgrace….

Your ever loving
Maysie

[PS]…
Wasn’t it dreadful about dear Desmond. The only hope too in that family. That dreadful Edward & his worse wife. He’s trying to divorce her already I believe. She’s a terror.

Desmond was delightful & had done so well. It seems too so unnecessary. He was showing some kind of bomb to some General & as usual it went off. Desmond & young Nugent both killed.

Letter from Maysie Wynne-Finch to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)

A real Christmas for wounded soldiers

70 wounded soldiers recovering in Reading were treated to a Christmas dinner no one would ever forget.

EARLEY WOUNDED SOLDIERS ENTERTAINMENT FUND

Of course the Christmas dinner [on 29 December 1915] has been “the event” – 12 men from each of the five Reading War Hospitals were invited. It consisted of a three-course dinner: soup, meat, puddings, &c. Two large turkeys were sent from our generous friends at Maiden Erlegh, who also sent two huge Christmas puddings and other good things. Mrs Fowler sent a ham and trifle, Mrs Heelas a joint of beef and also cooked for us a third turkey purchased out of the funds, whilst Mrs Wilson cooked for us a second ham also purchased. The Misses Hannaford sent sufficient hot mince pies; Miss Howlett, apples; soup, toast, apples and pears by myself and wife; Mrs Love, floral decorations and serviettes; Miss Goodwin and Mrs Francis, mince pies; Lieut. and Mrs Usmar, Mr W H White, Mr Fred Bright and Mr Watson, cigarettes; Mr Harris, bread; Mr Wooldridge and Mr Wilson, potatoes; Mrs Ballard, tea; Miss Jordan, sugar; Messrs Gregory, Love & Co, Ltd, bon-bons; and last, but not least, we must thank Mr H Allnatt, the well-known caterer, for his great help in providing us with cookers, fuel, cutlery, china, tabling, cruets, etc.

It is needless to say that our guests had a jolly time and very greatly appreciated the efforts which had been made to give them a real Christmas gathering – one of the party rising before the close to voice the feelings of the whole in expressing their gratitude for such an outing. The carvers were the Vicar, Lieut. Usmar, Mr Watson and Mr Ellis from Maiden Erlegh, and the company present included Mrs Joel, Miss Eileen Joel, Masters Stanhope and Dudley Joel, Mrs Honey, Miss Carlsson, Mlle Weill, Miss King, Mrs Helps, Mrs Hart, Mrs A C Jordan, Mrs Wilson, Mrs Francis, Miss Jordan, Miss Goodwin, The Misses Beauchamp, Mrs Culham, Mrs Howlett, Mrs Love, Miss Usmar, The Rev. H Wardley King (who has been of the greatest assistance in arranging the transport on each occasion), Mr Heelas and his sons, and Mr A C Jordan; Messrs White, Love, Howlett, Wooldridge and Wilson assisting in the general arrangements.

The programme on this occasion included two sketches entitled “The Burglar and the Girl”, by Miss Gibbs and Mr Edwin Love, and “My First Client”, by Miss I Hayward and Mr Maurice Love, Mr Walker, the well-known tenor, giving several popular songs, and Mrs Dracup.

Chas J. Howlett
Hon. Treasurer

Earley St Peter parish magazine, March 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/1)

Great sorrow in Earley

Earley parishioners enthusiastically helped to entertain wounded soldiers, while there was bad news of several local men.

Earley “Wounded Soldiers” Entertainment Fund.

In the first place, as Hon. Treasurer to this Fund, I desire on behalf of the committee to express their grateful thanks to all who have so generously assisted by gifts in money, provisions, flowers, fruit, vegetables and, last but not least, the loan of motor cars, without which it would not be possible to carry out the arrangements. To this must be added our thanks to those who have given their time and talent in providing music and plays, which our guests have greatly enjoyed.

List of Men Serving in His Majesty’s Forces.

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:-

William Durman, Edward Harris, Walter Bastow, Herbert Lovegrove, William Powell, Arthur Brereton, Harold Cooper, Herbert Carter, William Carter, Reginald Bluring, Henry Horwood, Jack Edwards, Thomas Watts, Frederick Lee, Albert Pocock, Fred Purver, Albert Spratley, William Nash, Albert Evans, Robert Newton, Frederick Wise, John Winchcombe, Edwin Taylor, Henry Stanbridge, Ashley Franklin, George Polden, Douglas Clarje, Walter Samways, Reginald Holtom, Ernest Fowler, Alexander Burden, Frederick Gardener, William Hooper, George Rooke, Benjamin Rickards, Thomas Bricknell, Harry Bricknell, Aubray Turner, Frederick Thompson.

The following we especially commend to your prayers:-

Missing – George Seymour, Percy Wyer, Charles Timbrill.
Wounded – Francis Mayl, Walter King (wounded and gassed).
Sick – Albert Hiscock, Reginald Sloper, Harry Borroughs, Joseph Marshall, William Clements.
Killed – Richard Jordon.
Prisoners – Charles John Fisher, Ernest Holtom.

In Memoriam.

We much regret to have to record the death of George Wright who was killed in action at Loos on the occasion of the great attack in October; he was a member of the Choir and a past member of the Church Lads’ Brigade, and was much liked by all who knew him. We are sure all our readers deeply sympathize with Mr. and Mrs. Wright and family in their great sorrow.
R.I.P.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, December 1915 (D/P191/28A/22)

“One of the most wicked things ever used in warfare”

Parishioners of St John’s parish in east Reading got an insight into life at the front when the young men from the parish who had joined up wrote to the vicar. They shared their experiences of the trenches, hospitals just behind the lines, and being gassed.

Letters From The Front.

My Dear Vicar,
I have just received the good old Parish Magazine, sent to me by my mother. Well, throughout the numerous hardships I have endured, I am pleased to say I am still quite well and happy. At the time of writing I am out of the trenches with my regiment resting, which I think we all honestly deserve; you cannot imagine the hardships and endless duties we have to perform.

While in the trenches you are working throughout the whole night and practically all day. At night the first duty commences at 8 o’clock, that is two hours’ sentry, which is very monotonous and tiring to the eyes, having to rivet them on a certain object the whole time while the booming of the enemy’s guns is deafening and bullets whistle over your head. After two hours you are relieved, feeling tired and sometimes wet through; you wish you could enter your dug-out and have minutes’ sleep. But no! you are at once detailed to join either a working party or a ration-carrying party, there you keep on hard at work till day break.

Sometimes we are given the job of repairing the barbed wire between ours and the Germans’ trenches; my job one wet night was to climb over the parapet of our trench and crawl up within a few yards of the enemy’s lines and to lie down for four hours listening for any signs of an advance by them; I could hear them singing and talking quite plain. I can assure you I was very pleased when I had finished. At about 4.30 a.m. we partake of breakfast consisting of a piece of salt bacon about four inches square, a small piece of bread, and a mess-tin of tea (?). This meal is looked forward to as much by us as the school treat is by the children.

After this you at once enter your dug-out and snatch a few minutes’ sleep; you generally settle down and are at once told to leave your dug-out and ‘stand to arms’ as Fritz is sending over a few more ‘Whistling Willies.’ You can imagine how very tiring and strenuous this sort of business is day after day, but still we keep a stout heart, trust in God and pray for the time when we can return home victorious, with the knowledge that we have performed our duty both to God and to the nation.

While I have been out here I am pleased to say I have had the opportunity of partaking of Holy Communion. Last Sunday my pals and I walked about four miles to attend a very rough and ready celebration held by our Chaplain in an old stable.

Well, I must now close, hoping you will please excuse this hurried letter and to receive a line from you whenever opportunity afford.

I remain, Rev. Sir,
Yours very respectfully,
ALBERT J. BECKETT
(more…)

The men of Earley serving their country

An extremely long list of men with connections with Earley St Peter were receiving the support of parishioners’ prayers.

List of Names on the Roll of Honour and Prayer List
Duncan Adams, John Adams, Henry Adams, Frederick Allen, John Allen, Frank Allum, George Allum, George Ansell, Robert Ascroft, Frank Aust, William Ayres, Henry Ayres, Cyril Ayres, Reggie Ayres, John Ayres, James Auger, Samuel Auld, Charles Barton, William Barton, Clarence Burnett, Harry Bosley, Benjamin Bosley, Robert Beeson, Walter Bluring, Gordon Brown, Leonard Brown, Walter Brooker, Charles Baker, Ernest Balding, Albert Ballard, George Breach, Phillip Breach, Ernest Breach, Alfred Breach, Percy Bunday, George Bungay, William Bungay, Charles Bolton, Herbert Blyde, Lewis Blyde, Wilfrid Blyde, Arthur Buskin, Herbert Broadbear, Louis Bunce, Frank Berry, James Bowden, Henry Blathwayt, Harold Bennett, Harry Borroughs, Henry Barney, William Brett, Alfred Broad, Harry Ching, Charles Chesterman, George Chesterman, Ernest Chapman, Edwin Coldman, Edward Cottrell, Percy Cotterell, Hubert Collier, Alfred Cooper, George Comport, Guy Comport, Frank Cook, Ernest Cook, Eric Cook, Fernand Camus, John Cane, Charles Carpenter, Charles Clarke, William Clements, Charles Carpenter, Charles Clarke, William Clements, Charles Capel, Leonard Dann, Frederick Douglas, Reuben Dowsett, Renton Dunlop, Tom Durman, Jack Durman, Hugh Deeds, Ralph Deeds, Sidney Davis, Ralph Durand, Albert Denham, Frederick Dawson, Alfred Dee, Hugh Denton, Sidney Dormer, William Elliott, Charles Elliott, Reginald Elliott, Eric Evans, Alec Evans, Ernest Embery, Cyril Eaton, Eustace Finnes, George Forge, John Forge, Henry Fisher, George Fisher, William Fisher, John Fisher, George Fulford, Bernard Fixsen, Theodore Fixsen, William Farmer, Bert Farmer, Arthur Fulker, Cecil Fowler, William Fowles, Charles Goddard, Guy Goodliffe, Ernest Gowers, George Grey, Cecil Grey, Victor Gaines, Reginald Gatehouse, Herbert Garlick, Charles Phillips Groome, Samual Gould, Wilfrid George, Frank George, Gilbert Green, Frederick Goodger, Richard Goodall, Leslie Grinstead, Albert Howlett, Frederick Hearn, Arthur Hearn, Bert Hearn, Harry Harding, George Harding, Albert Harwood, William Harwood, George Harwood, Charles Haines, George Hitchcock, Albert Hitchcock, Henry Hayward, Percy Hamilton, Frank Hawkins, Albert Hosler, William Hall, Albert Hall, Henry Hall, George Hall, William Hall, Francis Harris, Arthur Harris, Richard Hayden, Fred Hull, Charles Hague, James Hague, Stanley Higgs, Leslie Heelas, Leonard Hedges, Harry Hambleton, Reginald Hawes, William Hope, Jack Howlett, Percy Howlett, Bertie Iles, Edward Iles, Percy Ilott, Thomas Ilott, Albert Ilott, Melville Innes, Walter Jeskins, Albert Jerome, Alfred Jerome, Walter Jerome, Frederick Jerome, George Jerome, Charles Jefferies, Henry Jones, Leopold Jenner, William Jeram, George Jeram, Henry Jeram, Woolf Joel, Alfred Jacobs, (more…)

“The Germans are murderers, not clean soldiers”

A selection of letters from Reading soldiers at the Front, in England, and in Egypt, which were printed in their home church’s magazine.

Letter From the Front. Come out and help.
When we are out of the trenches on a Sunday (like to-day) we have a short service which come as a luxury and which reminds me of old times when singing in the choir at S. Stephen’s. I had a scarf sent out to me by my sister which was made at the Girls’ Club, I understand, but it is very handy when we have nights out, which we often do, for it is very cold at nights. We have been out here practically eight weeks, and I suppose have seen as much of the trenches as any battalion out here during that short time. I never thought that when I went to see you when home on leave from Chelmsford that we should have been up in the firing line so quick as we were….

We are always thinking of all the friends and people we have left behind, and I know that you are thinking of us while we are away from everybody doing our bit. I hear that you call the names out on a Sunday and I know that there are quite a number, but I hope that before long that list will be twice as long, for the more men and young chaps we get out here the sooner it will end, and I am sure that we all want to see that as soon as possible.
G. KING.

Poisonous Gases.
Just at present we are having a very troublesome time with the Germans. They are trying their very hardest to break through and we have very hard work to keep them back because they are using those poisonous gases which is something terrible for our poor men, and you can’t do anything at all with them. I think myself that the Germans are murderers, not clean soldiers.
L.H. CROOK. (more…)

We are nothing better than worms – but mustn’t grumble!

Sunday 4 April 1915 was Easter Day. The parishioners of Reading St John (now the Polish Catholic Church) had sent Easter greetings to their young men at the Front. It resulted in a number of letters from the recipients describing their experiences.

Letters from the Front: replies to our Easter letters and cards.

Cards similar to those recently seen on the Church notice boards were sent with covering letters for Easter to some fifty men at the front at the request of their relatives. The following are extracts from some of the replies received by the Vicar:-

A Terrible War.
Here is a much-needed reminder of the seriousness of our task:
‘Two of my men I laid to rest yesterday, just put their heads too far over the parapet; of course killed instantly. It is a terrible business and we are nothing better than worms, dug in and stop there, but hope that happier times are in store and very soon. We all hope and pray for it every day. I don’t think the people at home quite realise what a gigantic task we have; but we mustn’t grumble, but do it.’- GILES AYRES.

Valued Cards.
‘I wish to thank you very much for the good thoughts and wishes of yourself and everyone who remembered us on Easter Day. Thank you very much for the card. I am sending it home to-day so that I shall not lose it.’- A. L. BLAKE.

‘The card you sent me I have hung on to the wall and it shall go where I go. I shall always remember Good Friday, the day I received it.’- D. CAMPBELL.

Neuve Chapelle.
Speaking of the welcome letter just received, the writer adds: ‘Just lately we have been engaged in a big battle at Neuve Chapelle, and it was something awful and also a terrible loss on the German side.’- L.H. CROOK. (more…)

‘Our time will come’ – life at a RAMC convalescent depot

Reading people got a glimpse into the work of the Royal Army Medical Corps close to the Western Front, thanks to this letter from Victor Fowler, which was printed in the St John’s Church magazine. He saw the results of the waterlogged trenches firsthand, and paints a vivid picture for his friends:

We conclude these notes by quoting almost in full a letter from Victor Fowler, of the R.A.M.C., now at the front, and recently an earnest worker in this parish. His description of the Holy Communion Service will be read with interest. God does not fail those who trust in Him.

British Expeditionary Force,
February 7th, 1915.

My Dear Vicar,

You will be interested to know that we are, at present, in charge of a Convalescent Depot for sick troops, in a village a few miles from the firing line. The building we occupy is the village school and we were working for two days, one of which was Sunday, preparing the place to receive patients. The majority of the men we get in are suffering from bad and swollen feet caused through standing in water in the trenches. Poor fellows, it was pitiable to see them; some of them cannot walk at all and the best of them can only hobble, and yet they are quite fit in body. My special duty at the depot is assistant dispenser and medical storekeeper.

We are now quartered in a storeroom in a brewery in the village. It is rather a low place and consequently I have ‘cracked’ my head several times. We have a little straw on the ground to sleep on and one blanket each.

Sundays are just the same as other days out here. Work goes on as usual and as we have about one hundred patients there is plenty to be done. Until this morning we had not been able to attend any sort of Divine Service, but we had the great privilege to-day of attending a short service conducted by one of the Chaplains and afterwards we had a celebration of Holy Communion. The service was held in a large sort of hall, used, I should imagine, in peace time, as a concert room. The Holy Table was made up of two medical store panniers placed on top of one another and covered with a piece of red cloth. A few planks placed on bales of blankets made excellent pews and those who came late had to stand. It was a very impressive service, and it was real good and helpful to realize how very very near our Lord and Master is to each one of us. The hymn singing went well. About forty of us stayed for Communion, and oh, what joy it was just to draw near once more to our Saviour in this beautiful service. As one knelt there on the bare stone floor one’s heart was full to overflowing with thankfulness to our Loving Father for all His great and tender love.

I so often think of you all at dear old S. John’s, especially at eight o’clock on Sunday mornings.

I do not know how long it will be before we go up to the firing line but I suppose our time will come.

Yours very sincerely,
L. Victor Fowler.

Reading St John parish magazine, March 1915 (D/P172/28A/24)