“The War is a terrible thing, but it has brought out many splendid qualities in those serving their King and Country”

The parish of Newbury was proud of its young men.

THE WAR

We are very sorry to hear that two of our young men are reported missing – Ernest Edward Cooper, of 17, Waterloo Place, and Albert James Geater, of 2, Wellington Terrace. We trust that their friends may yet hear better news about them. Also Walter John Pocock, of Waterloo Place, is said to be suffering badly from shell shock in hospital in France.

Sergeant E Sivier, formerly of Newbury, has been awarded the Military Medal for bravery on the field, and Harry, son of Mr and Mrs Bright, of West Mills, has received a like honour. These things make us very proud of our young men, and should lead us to be all the more earnest in our prayers for them. The War is a terrible thing, but it has brought out many splendid qualities in those serving their King and Country, and our Nation will be all the richer for these things in the years to come.

The Rector has been hoping to obtain another colleague in the person of Mr C T Lord, son of the Vicar of Chaddleworth, who was to have been ordained by the Bishop of Oxford this September: but those hopes have now been disappointed, as Mr Lord has been claimed by the Military, and so will not be ordained at present.

Newbury St Nicolas parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

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Camouflage with a vengeance

The Images experienced a power cut as a result of an air raid, and heard some interesting Navy news.

29 Barton Road
22 Oct. ‘17
My Most Dear Old Man

On Friday evening we were at dinner – the clock, I remember, was in the middle of striking 8 – when, in a flash, down went the electric light, and up bounced Florence to find whether it was so all through the house. It was! and we had in a candle, to the accompaniment of bombs and anti-aircraft guns, seemingly 2 miles away to the north. I wonder, were they trying for the aerodrome at Hardwick? for they are reported to have attempted that at T in Norfolk. Well, we went unconcernedly to bed, and were awakened by a glare at 2.10 – sign that the raiders were clear of England. But oh how humiliating! They can drop bombs at will, and unharmed, in England. Once cross to France, and they are chivvied and hustled, go wherever they attempt. The French can bring them down. Never has there been such a field day before, for Zepps.

Some friends, fresh from Liverpool, told me the other day of the steady silent inundation of Americans now overflowing the place. Especially of the hundreds upon hundreds of Yankee aeroplanes, beautifully packed, daily landed on the quays.

In one dry dock these people came across a large Yankee man-of-war, painted blue with pink spots (or was it, pink with blue spots. Those were the colours anyhow.) Camouflage with a vengeance: but it has the effect of destroying outlines and muddling them up at a distance. This they observed especially in the case of HMS Ramillies lying out in the stream – a battleship, painted the most bizarre horror, chiefly black and white stripes.

All this is very fine – but as today’s Daily Mail asks, in Italics, ‘Who commands the North Sea?’ The British navy may be the ‘incomparable’ weapon we hear it called, but it is bluffed by the Huns and its convoys and their escort snapped up by a small force of 2 raiders, almost in hearing of the Grand Fleet. The Kaiser’s vaunt of Germany’s future being on the water looks justified – Nelson went to the Gulf of Riga – but we can’t.

Our united love to you both.
Ever yours,
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

Zeppelins get lost

Florence Vansittart Neale rejoiced at the misadventure of some enemy Zeppelins.

21 October 1917

5 Zeppelins down in France, lost their way.

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

A pretty wedding at Bisham

Nurse Elizabeth Vansittart Neale, co-heiress of Bisham Abbey, had enjoyed a wartime romance with 27 year old officer Leo Paget, and today was their wedding day – at Bisham Church. Mother Florence’s diary entry was brief:

20 October 1917

Bubs’ wedding day.

However, she went into more detail in another book she kept.

20th October 1917
Elizabeth married Capt Leo Paget – Rifle Brigade. Wedding took place in Bisham Church – very pretty – good music with Dr. Bath at organ & Marlow choir boys to reinforce ours.

Over 60 guests at luncheon, almost all relations.

Bridal pair repaired [?] to Reading to Malets Cottage at Norcot–Lynton [?].

Young Paget came over on leave from the front in France – he arrived the day before the wedding- he had 2 weeks leave (4 days extra for marriage).

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); Bisham estate memorandum book (D/EX73/1/8/2, p. 222)

The introduction of compulsory service has rather changed the situation

The parish of Burghfield was keeping track of local men serving in the war.

THE WAR

The Roll of Honour

A list kept by the Rector, of those Burghfield men who since the beginning of the war have laid down their lives for their country and the just cause of the Allies, hangs near the reading-desk in the Church.

The full Roll, including those who have offered and been accepted for immediate or deferred service, is kept up to date by Mr. Willink so far as possible, and hangs in the Church Porch. The introduction of compulsory service has rather changed the situation: but he will be glad to receive names of men not already on the Roll but actually serving, together with the exact title of their ship or unit, also notice of any honours or promotions, wounds or deaths.

The list of wounded is growing long. Happily most cases are light. But it should be known by everybody that any disabled man is entitled to free training, if necessary or possible in some trade, and to be helped in finding employment. Information can be obtained at any Post Office. In cases of delay or difficulty in this matter, or in regard to Pensions or Allowances, applications should be made to the Berkshire War Pensions Committee through Mr. or Mrs Willink, who are on the Reading Rural Sub Committee.

Honours

Colonel Sir Wyndham Murray, of Culverlands, formerly C.B whose distinguished services in past times are well known, has been made K.C.B. He has acted as King’s Messenger during the War, and has repeatedly visited the front. He and Lady Murray have also received certain Japanese decorations.

Captain G. O. W. Willink was mentioned in Despatches in May, and has just been awarded the Military Cross for distinguished conduct in August. He has commanded “A” Coy in the 2/4 R. Berks Regt. Since he went out in July 1916, and has seen service in many parts of the line in France and Flanders.

Burghfield parish magazine, October 1917 (D/EX725/4)

“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)

“The toll the war is taking of our men is appalling”

Reading and Caversham property developer Edwin Jesse (1842-1921), currently living in Mapledurham, had seen his sons Edwin (Ted) and Walter, both in their 30s, and his daughter Rose’s husband, off to fight in the war, and the family had now heard bad news of the latter.

13/10/17

Dear Uncle

I am indeed very sorry to hear the sad news of the death of [his cousin] Rosie’s husband. It must have been a great shock to you all, and you have my sincere sympathy.

The toll the war is taking of our men is appalling.

So Ted and Walter [his cousins] are in France now. I wish them both the best of good luck & trust they may return safely – and soon.

I am so sorry that you should have all this anxiety…

With kind regards

Your affectionate nephew
E. S. Herbert

Letter from E S Herbert to Edwin Jesse (D/EX1942/1/1/40/59)

So far recovered from the effects of being gassed, a soldier gets married

There was sad news for many Reading families, but one soldier, home after the nasty experience of being gassed, decided to marry his sweetheart.

The Vicar’s Notes
Intercessions

For our Russian allies in their time of need.

For our own fighting men, and especially for our lads who have just joined the army, particularly Charles Upstone.

For the wounded, especially Percy Viner.

For the fallen, especially Thomas Murray, William Eaton, Albert Ford, George Lawrence, Frederick Lewis. R.I.P.

S. Saviour’s District

R.I.P.
The brass tablet placed in the Church by Miss Ward, and the new Epistle and Gospel lights for the sanctuary, presented by Mrs Ward and Miss Ward, are in memory of the late Evelyn Paget Graves, Major R.A. and R.F.C.

Albert Edward Barnet and Albert Edward Turner are reported killed in France. Our sincere sympathy is with the bereaved families.

Marriage
Our best wishes to Alfred James White (Corporal R.G.A.) and Miss Nellie Allwood, who were married at S. Mary’s on September 1st. We are glad that Corporal White has so far recovered from the effects of being gassed in France.

S. Mark’s district
R.I.P.

It was with great sorrow that we heard that one of our servers, Leonard Pusey, had been killed in France on August 22nd. He had been a server at S. Mark’s for about 7 years and he always took a keen interest in all that was done in connection with the Church; he will be much missed – we offer our sincere sympathy to his wife.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

“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 return to the hell of war must be to our brave fellows a terrible wrench, far more than going out for the first time”

Winkfield men received a sympathetic hearing on their rare visits home on leave.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING.

We regret to report that Pte. George Streamer has been very badly gassed and is now in Hospital in England. It is feared that he may be invalided out of the Army; his sight is badly affected.

Pte. Frank Brant has been seriously ill for several weeks. He is hospital in France and we trust that the anxiety of his relatives will still be relieved.

Pte. James Winnen has been suffering severely from shell-shock, but is now convalescent.

We are glad to welcome home on leave this month Lance-Corporal Edwin Gary, who recently won the Military Medal, Lance-Corporal Hartly Golding, and Privates G. Chaney, W. Harwood, W. Fisher and N. Town.

After the peace and quietness of a few days at home, the return to the hell of war must be to our brave fellows a terrible wrench, far more than going out for the first time. May they have a very real place in our gratitude and prayers.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, October 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/10)

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)

One more name must be added to the roll of immortal honour on which is recorded the names of men who loved peace, but who loved righteousness and truth better

A reluctant but determined soldier, son of a Congregational minister, paid the ultimate price.

After many months of anxious waiting, definite news has come of the death in action, on November 13th, 1916, at Beaumont Hamel, of Mr. Philip G Steer, and so one more name must be added to the roll of immortal honour on which is recorded the names of men who loved peace, but who loved righteousness and truth better. Phil Steer was a son of a manse, and all who knew him looked forward to a great future for him. Combined with a charming manner, he had great qualities of mind. After leaving school he took his B.A. degree, and before he was 21 he was already in the responsible position of assistant master in a public school. The writer well remembers his 21st birthday, for it occurred during our second Trinity Young Peoples Camp in the Isle of Wight, and it was during that delightful fortnight’s companionship that some of us learned the qualities of our friend.

He joined up immediately war broke out, and went through hard fighting in France. When he was promoted on the field for gallantry. He was badly wounded, but recovered quickly and was soon back in France again. Now he has gone, and to those of us who still hoped against hope that he might be a prisoner, the news of his death has come as a great sorrow, and our special sympathy and affection go out to his family in the terrible loss which has come to them. So the great War takes its heavy toll of our best, and we owe it to them who have willingly laid down their lives for a great cause that we carry on their fight till our enemies confess that might is not right, and a true and lasting peace can be achieved.

Trinity Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

Killed in action in France

Two Caversham men were reported killed.

S. John’s
Roll Of Honour

Lieut. Roy Timberlake, Bedford Regt. (Surley Row), an old member of S. Barnabas Choir, has been killed in action in France, and Sergt. E. Hornblow, R.F.A. (6, Church Street), was killed on August 17th.

Caversham parish magazine, September 1917 (D/P162/28A/7)

The wounded are mostly doing well

There was news for many Reading families.

The Vicar’s Notes
Intercessions

For God’s blessing on S. Mary’s Dedication Festival.
For all our fighting men (especially among the wounded), Charles Woodman (suffering from shell-shock), Alfred Stanbridge, and William Yellen.
For George Patrick Wickham Legg, who has just joined the Army.
For the fallen, especially Reginald Martin, one of the Bible class, killed by a sniper in France; Willie Healey (of Cherry Court), R.I.P.

Thanksgiving
For the granting of the Military Medal to Frederick Nunn (Hope Street)

S. Saviour’s District
Roll of Honour

The names of those from the district who have fallen in this War are now placed in the Church, on a framed roll kindly presented by Mrs Ward. Crucifix, brass candlesticks, vases for flowers, and all kind gifts, are placed with the roll of honour, on the prayer desk near the Chapel. John Warren Wells, one of the latest names, was killed on April 28th. He had been thrice wounded, and was granted the Military Cross posthumously.

Wounded

We regret to hear that George Jacobs has been obliged to have his left foot amputated. The operation fortunately seems to have been successful.

Among those recently wounded are Thomas Howarth, Albert William Shillingford, and Leonard Lee. We are glad to hear the wounded are mostly doing well.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, September 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

The Russians are giving in

Florence Vansittart Neale was depressed by the war news, both at home and abroad – and concerned about new food restrictions on sugar.

3 September 1917

Raids at Chatham & Sheerness – 107 sailors killed…

Mr Austman still here. All down about Riga gone. Russians giving in.

Wrote for sugar for jam!

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

Meanwhile the Sub-Warden of Clewer House of Mercy was heading to France as an army chaplain.

3 September 1917

The Sub-Warden returned from Strensall Camp on short leave before reporting himself at the War Office previously to going to France.

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