A draft to France

Sydney Spencer was set to go overseas at last.

Jan 22nd [1918]

Battalion order 108. I am released from quarterly board at Brigade Headquarters. About 3.40 took a draft to France with Cubitt.

Diary of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EX801/12)

Advertisements

Comforts for Road Construction and Quarrying Companies in France

Berkshire County Council was unwilling to spend ratepayers’ money on gifts for roadworkers helping with the war effort.

Report of Finance and General Purposes Committee, 19 January 1918

ROADMEN IN FRANCE

An appeal for a subscription out of County Funds has been made by a Committee formed to organise and collect money for providing extra necessaries and comforts for Road Construction and Quarrying Companies in France. It is pointed out that these men are not provided for in the organisation controlled by Sir Edward Ward for the distribution of comforts for troops overseas. The appeal states that the Local Government Board is prepared to sanction a subscription by any Local Authority up to £100.

The Committee feel that no case has been made out for subscribing to this object out of the Rates, and they are unable to recommend it, but think that the appeal should be left to be dealt with by individual effort.

WAR ALLOWANCES

The following recommendation of the War Allowances Section are submitted for approval:

That the allowance granted to A W F Myatt, killed in action on 3 December, 1917, be continued to his dependants for six months from the date of his death.

The Section have considered the effect of the increased payments under Royal Warrant of the 4 December, 1917, in connection with both married and unmarried persons serving with the colours, and recommend that in calculating allowances the following principles be adopted:

Single Men: The full increased pay to be deducted.
Married Men: The full increased pay to be deducted.

The allotment previously paid by the man but now paid by the Government not to be deducted.

Owing to the fact that it will now be difficult to separate Merit Pay from Ordinary Pay and to ascertain in most cases the actual pay receivable as “War Pay” under Clause 3 of the Royal Warrant, the Section recommend that the pay to be deducted shall be the minimum rates set forth in Clause 3 of the royal Warrant, viz:

Private 1s 6d per day
Lance-Corporal 1s 9d per day
Corporal 2s 0d per day

On the receipt of the Quarterly Return, if any persons serving is [sic] found to be in receipt of more than the above rates of pay the excess shall be deducted whenever such excess brings the total Army pay and allowances above the civil pay as at August 1914, plus 25 per cent, but not otherwise.

Berkshire County Council minutes C/CL/C1/1/21

Invalided home from France

One of the Australian soldiers befriended by the Hallams would not be fighting any more.

18th January 1918
One of our Tasmanian friends came, P.Crane. He is invalided home from France.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

This critical time

The vicar of Reading St Mary had hopes that this year would see the end of the war.

The Vicar’s Notes

The best wish I can send to the people of S. Mary’s Parish for 1918 is that it may be a year of peace. God grant it may be so.

Thanksgiving

For the entry of the British into Jerusalem the Holy City.

Intercessions

For the troops on the Western Front at this critical time.

For the fallen especially George Colvill and Edward Albury of Soho Street.
R.I.P.

For Leslie Allen, one of our servers, ill in hospital off Salonika.

Our truest sympathies go out to Mr. Swain, one of our sidesmen and Foreman of our bellringers, and his wife, on the death of their son George, who was killed in action in Palestine on November 28th. George Swain was always the straightest of lads, and one of our most faithful and regular Altar-servers. God rest his soul.

S. Saviours District

R.I.P.

Henry John Coggs has, we regret to hear, been killed in France. Our deepest sympathy is with his parents and family. He leaves an orphan child.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, January 1918 (D/P98/28A/16)

Showing generals how to perform card tricks

Will Spencer was glad to hear how his soldier brothers and family friends from Cookham were getting on. One brother, Horace, was a professional conjurer in peacetime, a skill which entertained his superiors.

13 January 1918

Read a long letter which had come for me by the morning post from Mother, describing their quiet Christmas – none of the boys, & Natalie [wife of Harold Spencer] not able to come, through having an influenza cold. Percy had been with them on the 22nd, leaving on the 23rd. Notwithstanding that the plums Mother had obtained proved to be old ones, the puddings, of which she made two, had been pronounced to be a success. Percy had said they were the best of her making he had ever tasted. She wished I might have been there, & then also have had a piece. The second pudding was still intact, save for the piece cut out which Percy had….

Katie Poskett’s elder boy is in the army, & the younger called up. She finds it difficult to bear. That Percy had passed all his exams I had previously heard. Mother now writes that he is Second Lieutenant & down in Wiltshire. Horace, in France, has been showing generals how he performs his card tricks, & then talks of ‘his friend General — ’ to comrades who “can only boast of corporals’ friendships”.

Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/28)

Wounded and missing

There was worrying news for two Ascot families.

We regret to hear that Fred Talbot has been wounded and that Albert Gale is reported wounded and missing in France.

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, January 1918 (D/P 151/281/10)

A dead German’s Iron Cross

A soldier brought a poignant souvenir home – the medal won by a now-fallen adversary.

7th January 1918
I saw 2 curiosities to-day. Young Cox from Stanford in the Vale shewed me a 5£ piece and I was also shewn an Iron Cross a Swindon fellow had brought home from France which he took off a dead German.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Promise of such a splendid leader

A young man with a bright future was the latest to fall at the Front.

Walford Vernon Knowles

By the death of Walford Knowles on the last day of the old year, yet another name is added to the Roll of boys from Trinity who have laid down their lives in defence of home and country and of human liberty, whose names will live while Trinity stands.

In a letter dated the 6th of January, 1918, Capt. H. A. Curtis writes:

“It is with deep regret that I have to write and inform you of the death of your son. It happened at about 6.15 on the morning of December 31st. We were ‘standing to’ at the time, and the enemy put down a heavy barrage on to the position we were holding. As is usual, all Officers were on duty at the time, and it appears that a heavy shell fell within a yard or so of your son, killing him instantaneously. I am more than sorry to have lost him, as during the short time he was with us he had become very popular amongst his brother Officers, N.C.O’s. and the men, and we all miss him dearly. It seems all the more sad owing to the fact that this was his first tour of trench duty, and he gave promise of such a splendid leader.”

The elder son of our friends, Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Knowles, he was born in January, 1898 and educated at Reading School, into which he took an open Scholarship in 1909, one of the first Scholarships offered by the Reading Town Council. In 1916 he passed the Higher Certificate Examination with distinction in French and German. During his last year at school he won the Laud Scholarship (the blue ribbon of Reading School). Also an exhibition at Worcester College, Oxford, and was further awarded the Ewelme Exhibition at New College, Oxford.

It was not only in his studies that he did well, but in every side of School life he made his mark, becoming a member of the Rugby Football and cricket teams, a sergeant in the Officers’ Training Corps, and finally Captain of the School. Of those who have in recent years held this coveted position he is the third to make the supreme sacrifice during the war, the other two being Marsden Cooper (another Trinity boy) and D.J. Davies.

“As head of the school,” says Mr. Keeton, the Headmaster, “he was extremely conscientious and energetic, and in all departments showed the same qualities and zest and keenness and the desire to do his very best. He won the esteem and affection of all, both masters and boys.”

On reaching military age he carried the same characteristics into the sterner school of war, passing with credit through his cadetship at Gales and afterwards Portsmouth. He went out to France early in October as a Second Lieutenant in the County Regiment and in his all-too-brief period of service had already won the affection and esteem of his comrades and superior officers.

Walford Knowles was in the fullest sense of the words a child of Trinity. There he was baptized, and there he attended during the whole of his life. For several years a loyal member of the Institute, he joined this Church and was received into its fellowship on his confession of faith on September 13th, 1914. During the early winters of the war, and especially during last autumn, before leaving for France, he showed a very keen interest in the Trinity Soldiers’ Club, where his presence and companionship was always appreciated by the men.

The sad news of his death reached us a few minutes before the January Church Meeting, and a resolution of deepest sympathy with his parents and family was passed with the heartfelt consent of all present. In moving that this message be sent, the pastor spoke of the very fine qualities both in mind and heart which had endeared Walford to so a wide circle of friends, and caused them to entertain high expectations for him of a successful career at the University and after that of a life of fruitful service. He referred to his own close and intimate friendship with him, and the great opinion he had formed both of his character and abilities. Undoubtedly there were in him the making of a genuine scholar, a sincere and able thinker, a trusty friend, and a particularly fine type of Christian citizen.

We are sure that the sympathy of Trinity folk as a whole goes out to Mr. and Mrs. Knowles, and their family in this sorrow, and the prayer of us all is that they may be greatly comforted.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, February 1918 (D/EX1237/1)

Policeman “seriously wounded when fighting in France”

A Berkshire policeman was badly hurt in the fighting.

5 January 1918
Constable wounded

I regret to report that PC 61, Percy Sellwood, 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards, was seriously wounded when fighting in France on the 9th October last.

Berkshire County Council and Quarter Sessions: Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

“Life here promises to be frightfully monotonous after I get to regular regimental duties”

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister Florence as he approached the end of his training as an officer.

21st (Res) Battalion Lon[don] Regiment
G Lines
Chiseldon Camp
Near Swindon

Jan 4, 1918

My dear WF

What a glorious day it’s been. Today I’ve been on the hill tops watching boys doing an attack practice with live ammunition – quite exciting. A delicious day. What must it have been from your friendly bay windows.

Life here promises to be frightfully monotonous after I get to regular regimental duties. At the moment about 50 of us kill time at what is termed a Brigade Class. This carries on for about 3 weeks; then there is a 4 day revolver course, and then we footle around until our orders come through for France or Egypt. We then get about 5 days leave, after which we may flit at any time.

There is a medical examination before we go, and I propose if my teeth do not improve to have them put right before I go out. Conditions here not being very good, I find my teeth giving me a certain amount of trouble, so I think it advisable to get them seen to before I’m called upon to stand the harder conditions of France or Egypt.

[Censored by Florence]

Very shortly I am leading a patrol of young officers around some infant mountains, returning about 1 a.m. if I don’t get lost in the Wiltshire hills, so I’m now off to study the map.

With my dear love to you both

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/1-2)

Soldier saints and martyrs

A bereaved mother’s gift would be a permanent memorial to her son, with a military theme.

All Souls’ Church has been further enriched by the completion of the Baptistry with a permanent font and stained glass lights. They are the gift of Mrs Mark Bell in memory of her son Captain R. de H. M. Bell, KRRC, who fell at Guillemont in 1916. The font, which is from a design by Sir Charles Nicholson, has been carried out in stone by Mr A. E. Peacock. Mr Peacock shows himself as adept a carver in stone as he proved himself to be in wood. The same treatment is followed as in the choir stalls. The figures represent Our Lord in His Passion, S. Mark as the patronal saint, S. Michael as the patron of Soldiers, and the Baptist.

The lights, which are from the studio of Mr Whall, reveal the brilliance of colouring for which Mr Whall is noted. The subjects are soldier saints and martyrs. The associations of France with England in this great war and also of the fact that Captain Bell died on French soil is portrayed by S. Louis of France and the newly canonized Joan of Arc. Mr Whall has memorialized the war by giving as a background to S. Jeanne D’Arc the burning Cloth Hall of Ypres, and an outraged humanity is depicted in the little orphan seeking protection from the Virgin Saint. The figures selected are S. Martin of Tours, S. Sebastian, S. Joan of Arc, S. George of England, S. Louis of France, and S. Alban of England.

The dedication took place on November 16th – the dead soldier’s birthday. The gift is a most welcome one, for which we are profoundly grateful.

South Ascot Parochial Magazine, December 1917 (D/P186/28A/17)

Reading has lost one of the most distinguished of its young men

Old Redigensians – Old Boys of Reading School – were among the many on active service.

O.R. NEWS.

Deaths.

D.W. Carter

The funeral took on Monday at Caversham Cemetery, of Mr. Donovan Carter, only son of Mr and Mrs. A.W. Carter, Of “Maubeuge,” Church Road, Caversham, who was drowned while, bathing last week at Peterborough, where he was stationed with the R.N.A.S.

Carter was educated at Reading School, and spent three years in the O.T.C., passing the School Leaving Certificate in 1913. He passed the London Matriculation in 1914, and was studying for B.Sc., with a view to taking research work in a Belgian chemical works in which his father is interested. He was passed for a commission in the A.S.C. in Jan., 1915 but, eager to serve his country at the earliest possible moment, he would not wait for the commission and enlisted in the R.N.A.S. as a driver in June of that year. Most of his time he spent at an R.N.A.S. station at Felixstowe, afterwards training at the Crystal Palace as an engineer. All the naval ratings and officers turned out to do him honour when he was brought home from Peterborough.

2nd-Lieut. D.J. Davies.

-By the death of second-lieutenant D.J. Davies, the only of Mr. and Mrs, of the Market Place, Reading, Reading has lost one of the most distinguished of its young men and Reading School one of the most brilliant of its old boys.

Davies’ record at Reading School was a remarkable one. When he left in the summer of 1915 he was the Captain of the School, the highest honour which a school can confer on any boy, and the holder of a Drapers’ Scholarship and an Open Classical Scholarship at Trinity College, Oxford. He Joined the O.T.C. on the outbreak of the war in 1914, and in the Spring Term of 1915 he was in Rugby XV.; and won his 1st XV. Colours. He was a prominent member of the Literary and Debating Societies. On the occasion of the school holding a debate in French, Davies opened the debate.

He never failed in a public examination and passed the Higher Certificate Examination of the Oxford and Cambridge Board in 1913 with one distinction, in 1914 with four distinctions and in 1915 with five distinctions, coming out at the head of over 1,700 candidates. He competed regularly in the school sports and won several prizes in the under 15 events. Latterly, however, intellectual pursuits were more to his inclination, though he always took a very keen interest in all the school activities. He combined great ability with a real capacity for thoroughness and hard work, and had he lived would have gone far. He died, his tank being struck by a shell, on July 31st, the day before his 20th birthday. His loss is greatly to be regretted.

His Commanding Officer, writing to his father, says:-

The death of your son is a great loss to us all; he was very popular and was an exceedingly gallant officer. Up to the time of his death his tank did exceedingly good work.


Death of Mr. Sydney Lowsley.

Mr. Sydney Lowsley, Deputy Borough Engineer of Harrogate, son of the late Dr. Lowsley, of Reading, died in a London naval hospital last week. Mr, Lowsley, who joined the R.N.A.S. Last July as draughtsman, contracted double pneumonia while training and succumbed after three weeks’ illness. He served his articles with the Borough Engineer at Wolverhampton, and from there went to Westminster, Lewisham, and finally to Harrogate. He leaves a widow and two children.

Gallant Deeds.

Military Cross.

Lieut. Oswald Francis, Royal Berks Regt., has been awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in the recent fighting in Belgium, and also had the honour of being personally congratulated by Sir Douglas Haig. He left Sandhurst in September, 1915, and has served for the last 15 months in France and Belgium, for the greater part of the time on the Somme Front.

Wounded.

Bardsley, Capt. R.C., Manchester Regt., elder son of Mrs. Bardsley, of 72, Addington Road, Reading. Severely in the right arm and hand, on Oct.8th. Capt. Bardsley was educated at Reading School, where he distinguished himself in all athletic pursuits.

Reading School Magazine, December 1917 (SCH3/14/34)

“We none of us feel like Christmas festivities in these troubled days”

Soldiers stationed in Reading genuinely appreciated the socialising they were able to do at Broad Street Church – even more so once they had moved on to less congenial surroundings.

The opening of our rooms for the soldiers has necessitated the temporary suspension of the Ladies’ Sewing Meeting and the Women’s Social Hour. Before the arrangements were made the members of both these organisations were consulted, and they at once expressed their willingness to sacrifice their own interests in order that everything possible might be done for the men who have laid us under such a deep debt of obligation. Not only so, but most of the ladies who had been actively engaged in the work of thse organisations consented to transfer their services for the time being to our new undertaking. In this way it was possible to secure from the outset a band of willing and enthusiastic workers. I feel deeply grateful to the ladies who are giving such devoted service.

That the soldiers appreciate what is being done for them is constantly being proved to us. In another column will be found a letter from one of them. But letters of a similar kind have been received. In one of these letters the writer says: “I am getting on alright here, but we don’t ‘alf miss the Broad Street rooms. With all the YMCAs and others here there is none so comfortable as Broad Street.” Another of our former friends writes: “What a difference I find here. It seems terribly slow compared with Reading, and what makes it worse we are under canvas again. We are having wretched weather. Just imagine what it is like in tents. It would feel nice to drop into Broad Street again, I can assure you. Thanking you once again for your kindness to me.” And so the story continues.

We were all glad to see Lieut. Oswald Francis in our midst again looking so fit and well. During his time of leave Lieut. Francis was summoned to Buckingham Palace to receive his Military Cross at the hands of the King.

We were also glad to see 2nd AM FW Snell again on a recent Sunday, after a long absence with the RFC in France. We hope he may enjoy good health, and that he may be preserved from danger as he continues his arduous duties.

Private HS Hilliard, of the RMLI, son of our friends Mr and Mrs Hilliard of Watlington Street, has been severely wounded, and is now in hospital at Bury St Edmunds. We are glad to hear good reports of Private Hilliard, and we trust he may soon be restored to health and strength.

On Christmas Day we hope to have a service in the church as usual at 11 am. The service will last for about one hour, and we shall hope to have a good attendance. We none of us feel like Christmas festivities in these troubled days; but there is urgent need that we keep before our hearts and minds the things for which Christmas really stands.

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

War trophies for the interned

Philip Preuss was a Belgian stockbroker, aged 41, when he was interned at Reading.

P Preuss

The above named prisoner states:

The letter is correct. Lieut. Le Cocq who is in the Belgian Army lent him some war trophies and also Lieut. Le Cocq’s father lent him some.

He gave receipts for these trophies to the Le Cocqs, father and son.

Mr Le Cocq wrote to him some time ago asking about the trophies and Preuss wrote a petition to the Home Office asking to be allowed to return the trophies to their owners.

The Home Office refused to allow this until either the war was over or Preuss was released, and Preuss wrote to Lieut. Le Cocq who was in France giving him the Home Office reply. Preuss is unable to give Mr Billings an order to return the articles to their owners, as all the trophies are together, and consist of many things besides those of the two Le Cocqs – and Mr Billings does not know the articles belonging to the different individuals.

He is anxious to return the articles to their owners but has not any facilities for doing so.

C M Morgan
Gov

22/12/17

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Soldiers on leave from France see their little ones at work

Maidenhead men on leave were able to see their children’s school, while a school in Bracknell had to go without heating due to fuel shortages.

Maidenhead
20th December 1917

We had an “open day” for parents of Standard I children this afternoon. Thirty eight parents, including soldiers on leave from France, took advantage of this opportunity to see their little ones at work.

Bracknell
20th December 1917

Coal supply has lately been short. This morning no fires could be lit owing to being without coal.

Log books of King Street School, Maidenhead (C/EL77/1, p. 407); and Bracknell Church of England Mixed Primary School (C/EL45/3, p. 410)