Vive l’Entente Cordiale!

A wealthy Frenchman living in Burghfield enmtertained wounded British soldiers on river trips. Georges Fiessinger – possibly the obscure artist of that name – married Gertrude Davidson in London in 1912. The couple later moved to Sussex.

More Water Trips for Wounded

A propos of the kind owners of the “Cecilia”, and their good work (see November magazine), it is pleasant to record the kindness shown last summer by our new neighbours at the Manor House, Mr and Mrs Fiessinger, to convalescent soldiers at Oxford. Having fitted out a good sized motor boat with cabins, etc, they took her up the Thames and made Oxford their headquarters, living on board her there for several months, during which time they took wounded soldiers from the War Hospitals daily for trips up and down the river. Mr Fiessinger is of a French family, and was rejected in France for military service, owing to a weak heart. This, however, as our readers will agree, has not affected its warmth, or his will to be of use, somehow, to his Allies, his wife’s native country. Vive l’Entente Cordiale!

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1918 (D/EX725/4)

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A memorial worthy of the men and lads fallen in the War, and the cause for which they have laid down their lives

Influenza was making inroads at home, while the town of Newbury started to think about a war memorial.

The influenza epidemic, if it is the influenza, has been and still is causing a great deal of illness in the parish, both among adults and among children. The Day Schools and Sunday Schools have both had to be closed, and there have been several deaths. We would offer our sympathy to those who are in sorrow at this time, especially to Mrs Philip Webb, Mrs Berry, Mrs Jones, Mrs Hosier; also to Mr and Mrs Barber, whose son Pte William Barber, one of our old choir boys, has died on service in Norfolk; to Mrs Frederick Newport and Mrs Lipscombe, whose husbands have died on service; to Mr and Mrs Buckingham, whose eldest son Lieut Edward Buckingham, RAF, has been killed by accident in France…

We ought to be thinking what form the Memorial to our men and lads fallen in the War is to take. We wish to do something worthy of them and the cause for which they have laid down their lives, and it is probable that there will be several suggestions as to what the Memorial should be. When Christmas is over we must have a meeting of parishioners to consider the matter, and get to work upon it.

Newbury St Nicolas parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

“Rarely, if ever, before, have we been called upon to mourn the loss of so many of our friends, in such a short time as during the past month”

Broad Street Church had endured many sad losses through the war, and the toll was not yet over.

CONDOLENCES

It is our sad duty to report from time to time the death of members of the church and congregation. But rarely, if ever, before, have we been called upon to mourn the loss of so many of our friends, in such a short time as during the past month….

Private Ernest Layton Francis, son of our esteemed Deacon, Mr Ernest Francis, and Mrs Francis, was well known and greatly beloved at Broad Street. Up to the time of his enlistment in the London Scottish Regiment he was a most faithful teacher in the Sunday School, and he exerted a powerful influence for good over his boys. Both teachers and scholars alike bear testimony to his patient and enduring work, and they all deplore his loss.

Mr Witcombe, Chief Warder at Reading Gaol, had been a loyal member of the church since 1911. During the whole of the war period he has given unstinted and devoted service in the work for men and women in khaki attending our rooms, and his cheery presence was always an inspiration. His early and unexpected death from pneumonia has fallen as a sad blow upon his wife and family.

Mr Harry Haydon was, in early days, a loyal worker in connection with the C[hristian] E[ndeavour] Society and Sunday School… a few months ago he had to join the army, but, as he was never strong, the period of training proved too great a strain on his constitution, and the influenza scourge found in him a victim. He leaves a wife and two young children to mourn his loss…

[Miss Rosa Millard and Miss Christina Codiferre are also named as among those dying of influenza.]

The influenza epidemic, which has been raging throughout the country lately, seems to have been worse in Reading than in most places. For several weeks the Sunday School had to be closed. So, too, had the Soldiers’ Rooms. Very many of or Broad Street homes have been visited, and some, unfortunately, with fatal results. It is a relief to know that the evil is now abating, and we trust that those friends who are still suffering may speedily be restored to health.

PTE E. LAYTON FRANCIS

The deepest sympathy has gone out from our whole community to Mr and Mrs Ernest Francis and their family, in the sad loss they have sustained through the death of their second son, Private E. Layton Francis. Layton Francis was a fine type of strong, intelligent, upright manhood, and his passing is deeply regretted by all who knew him.

When the war broke out he was anxious to volunteer at once for active service, but he was prevailed upon to complete his course of training as a Chartered Accountant before doing so. After successfully passing his final examination, he voluntarily joined up in the London Scottish Regiment, and saw much active service in France, Macedonia and Palestine. Readers of the magazine will remember the interesting descriptions he sent of various places in the Holy Land.

At Es Salt, on May 1st, 1918, he was seriously wounded in the right arm. After undergoing treatment in several Military Hospitals abroad, he ultimately reached England and was taken to the Military Hospital at Napsbury, near St Albans. Here, unfortunately, he was seized with influenza, and, pneumonia supervening, his weakened constitution was unequal to the strain.

We give below a couple of extracts from the many letters received by his parents. They testify to the very high regard in which he was universally held:

From a school friend:

“To me Layton was the best chum I ever had, or can hope to have. In fact he was more than a friend, he held the place of a brother. He was a real gentleman, and the life that God has taken will always be a great example and ideal for me to live up to.”

From a friend and former worshipper at Broad Street:

“Although I was considerably older than Layton you know what friends he and I were whilst I was at Reading. It was a friendship of which I was proud. He was the finest boy I have known. He was such a splendid combination of strong character, high principle and lofty ideals. He was absolutely straight – too great a character either to tell a lie or to harbour a mean thought. He was a fine example of young muscular Christianity.”

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Shot through the head

News of the last days of Berkshire soliders continued to trickle in.

Casualties

Sergeant A E Bolton (2nd DG, Queen’s Bays), died in France; Private W H Brown (8th Royal Berks), twice wounded, and prisoner since last April (omitted before); Frank Hicks (2nd Royal Berks), at last officially presumed killed on 9th May, 1915; W Painter (RE), wounded and gassed; J W G Phillips (RAF Labour Company), killed; H J Pembroke (1st Royal Irish Fusiliers), killed in action, 1st October, 1918; G H Poulton-Smith (RGA), wounded; died (of pneumonia) in Italy.

Captain Bullivant’s Death

One day last September, his unit, the 1st Middlesex Yeomanry, was holdig a line of out-posts in Palestine, when a Turkish column was reported to be moving across the front. He rode forward with an orderly to reconnoitre, sending his trumpeter back with orders for the squadron to follow. When they did, however, they at once came under fire, and had to go into action (no doubt dismounted), without having see him or being able to gather which way he had gone in the tangle of ridges and valleys; and the engagement continued for some hours, finishing up in the dark, miles from where it began. Search was made for him early next morning, and a patrol brought in his body. He had been shot through the head, and “must have come right on to them when he galloped over the ridge”, writes his subaltern. His orderly had had his horse shot, and could not himself be traced at the time of writing. A gallant death: but a sad loss to his family and to this parish, in which he took great intrest, and in whose affairs we hoped he was destined to play an active part. He was a Rugby and Cambridge man.

Lieut. Alfred Searies has made a wonderful recovery, and been home on leave. He was buried and damaged while occupying a “pill-box”, and only recovered consciousness five days later in hospital. His MC has been duly awarded him.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1918 (D/EX725/4)

A very brave young soldier

Three young Wargrave men, all of whom had joined up as teeneagers, were reported killed.

Roll of Honour
R.I.P.

Almighty and everlasting God, unto whom no prayer is ever made without hope of they compassion: We remember before thee our brethen who have laid down their lives in the cause wherein their King and country sent them. Grant that they, who have readily obeyed the call of those to whom thou hast given authority on earth, may be accounted worthy of a place among thy faithful servants in the kingdom of heaven; and give both to them and to us forgiveness for all our sins and an ever increasing understanding of thy will; for his sake who loved us and gave himself for us, thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

The following names must be added to the Roll of those who have laid down their lives for their Country in the great war:-

Haycock, Burton. Private 1st Somerset Light Infantry, killed in action at Broadrunde Ridge, October 4th, 1917, aged 19. The eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Haycock of Cockpole Green, Crazies Hill. Reported missing November,1917. In August, 1918, a report was received that he was killed on October 4th, 1917. He joined up in February, 1917 and after 7 months training was sent to France, shortly after his 19th birthday. He had been in France only five weeks when he was killed. His Captain wrote “Your son was a very brave young soldier.”

Herbert, Charles. Rifleman 2/9 County of London Queen Victoria Rifles, killed in action September 26th, 1917, aged 21. He was reported missing until September 29th, 1918, when the news of his death was officially confirmed. He was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. John Herbert of Wargrave. He was educated at the Piggott School. At the outbreak of war he was a footman in service in London, where he found a very kind home and was much appreciated. He volunteered on May 28th, 1915, and was sent to France in February, 1917.

Williams, Jack. Private 14th Royal Warwickshire Regiment, killed in action September 27th, 1918 aged 18. He was educated at the Piggott School and was called up in November, 1917. He was sent to France in June, 1918. He was killed instantly. His Captain wrote:- “His death was a great loss as he was a fine soldier”.

Wargrave parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

More assured hopes of peace

Reading families received sad news despite hopes of the impending end of the war.

The Vicar’s Notes

R.I.P.

Walter George, one of our old Bible Class Lads killed in France, September 30th.

Thanksgiving

For the gradual liberating of Belgium, France and Serbia, and for more assured hopes of peace.

“Care and Comfort”

“Care and Comforts” hope to hold an Exhibition of the wounded soldiers work and a sale on the 4th December in the Corn Exchange, Reading, to raise money for their funds. We hope to have stalls for all kinds of articles, old and new, useful and ornamental, gifts suitable for Christmas presents, provisions, etc.etc. and we shall be particularly grateful for the articles of value. Gifts may be sent to “Care and Comforts”, Minster Street.

If everyone will endeavour to give something we shall have a record sale.

All Saints’ District


R.I.P
. – We have a long list of departed this month. Our sincere sympathy is offered to their friends. May they have strength to bear their sorrow.

Percy John Arding (killed in action) …

S. Saviour’s District

Our deepest sympathy is with Mr. and Mrs. Ward, 19 Field Road, who have just heard of the death of their only son in Egypt. It is indeed a great sorrow for them.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P98/28A/13)

Many still far from well

Christchurch School had been in the throes of an influenza outbreak for over a month already. The Earley teacher mentioned here did not return to work until 6 December.

Leckhampstead
22/11/18

Attendance this week has fallen from 27 out of 28 present on Monday to 17 present this morning – all absentees due to influenza colds. Secretary notified this morning – school closed.

Boyne Hill
Nov: 22nd

The percentage of attendance this week has been 76.5. Many of the children are still far from well, & in consequence the standard of work is very poor.

Christchurch, Reading
22nd November 1918

By order of the Medical Authority, school will be closed until November 25th.

Earley
22nd Nov 1918

Mrs Radbourne, whose husband is home on leave from France, has been absent all the week.

Log books of Leckhampstead School (C/EL 51/2); Boyne Hill Girls’ CE School (C/EL121/3); Reading ChristChurch CE Infants School (89/SCH/7/6); St Peter’s CE School, Earley (SCH36/8/3)

Very happy in his work in France

A curate left the quiet of Crazies Hill in Wargrave for work with soldiers behind the lines.

Crazies Hill Notes

The Revd. W.G. Smylie

A very handsome gold wrist watch, with luminous dial, has been presented to Mr. Smylie by his many friends at Crazies Hill. We have good news from Mr. Smylie who is very happy in his work with the Church Army and is now in France.

Wargrave parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

“We all long for peace, but it must be peace after victory, and the enemy must be thoroughly beaten first”

Even as more men were reported killed, some were determined that no easy quarter should be given to the enemy.

“Sir Albert Stanley, President of the Board of Trade, has sent a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Bourne, the Chief Rabbi, the Salvation Army, and the heads of Churches of all other Denominations in England and Scotland and Wales, calling attention to the serous scarcity of coal, and suggesting that Church Services should be held in daylight.”

The Times, October 17th.

If this should be enforced, we hope our congregation will loyally fall in with such an arrangement.

THE WAR

Our brave troops, along with those of our Allies, have been winning victory after victory for the last three months, and the enemy has made proposals for an armistice to the President of the United States. We all long for peace, but it must be peace after victory, and the enemy must be thoroughly beaten first. We can safely trust to our Rulers, and to our Admirals and Generals, with those of our Allies, to see that no premature peace is entered upon. Now they need all our prayers, that they may be guided to right decisions. We are deeply thankful for God’s recent mercies to us, and we pray that we may be worthy of them. What a glorious day it will be when the war really ends, and our men return home again!

Mrs Doggett has lost her husband, Sidney Newman Doggett, from illness in France, and we offer her our sincere sympathy in her trouble. Like so many others, he has nobly given his life for his country.

ROLL OF HONOUR

91 Albert Edward Marshall, 2nd Batt. Wilts Regt, died of wounds at Haesnes April 12th, 1918. RIP.
92 John William Charles Gough, 5th Batt. West Riding Regt, killed in action July 20th, 1918. RIP.
93 L-Corp. Frederick John Lake, 1st Dorset Regt, killed in action July 20th, 1918. RIP.
94 Pte Jesse A Buxey, 1st Royal Warwicks, killed in action in France August 30th, 1918. RIP.
95 Pte Sidney Newman Doggett, Roayl Warwickshire Regt, died in France September 28th, 1918. RIP.
96 Gunner Philip John Webb, RGA, died of wounds August 15th, 1918. RIP.

Newbury St Nicolas parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

“The world become more cheerless as we think we must go on to the end without them”

Three more bright young men had made the supreme sacrifice.

Memorial Service

Captain F.S. Brain.
Lieut. H.E. Aust.
Charles D. Freeman.

Three more of those brave spirits to whose return into Church life and usefulness some of us were looking, have heard the call of God and have joined the throngs invading Heaven. Three more have cheerfully and bravely given their lives to make earth clean again, and keep it safe from those who regard honour among the highest and love peace. It is easy to write these words, but behind them our hearts ache with grief and yet rejoice with noble pride.

What then is their loss to those who loved them best? Ah! Theirs is a sorrow beyond human comfort. May the only True Comforter console and sustain all such!

Captain Francis Brain was well known to most of us. Although his College career prevented his active participation in our Church life, his interest in Trinity was very real and true. A quiet, unassuming manner hid intellectual powers of no mean order, and his future was bright with possibility when, at the call of duty all was laid aside. On February 26th, 1915, he obtained his commission in the Royal Berks, being later attached to the 1st Batt. Royal Dorset Regt. He saw much service in France, and had quite recently been promoted Captain. His military record is most fittingly recorded in a beautiful appreciation from which we quote:-

“He was of the type of ‘the happy warrior that every man in arms would wish to be.’ His sterling worth drew men to him in a remarkable degree. He was greatly beloved by the men of his Company and a great favourite with every single Officer. In the trenches he was splendid, absolutely fearless, and with never a thought of self. He has been tried to the uttermost and found worthy.”

Warm tributes of affection and high regard have been received.

His Major writes: – “His death has been a great blow to all who knew him. He was loved and esteemed by all ranks of the Battalion, particularly the men of his own company.”

A fellow Officer says: – “I served for a considerable time with your son, and I was very sincerely attached to him. We all loved him- his cheeriness and good fellowship – always ready with a bit of a song to cheer one up in the most cheerless circumstances; but above all the absolute honesty and straightforwardness of his character.”

His servant Wrote: – “It is impossible to tell you in words how awfully sorry everyone in my Company feels at having lost such a good Officer. I myself know that it will be impossible to get another such Officer to be a servant for.”

Lieutenant Harry Aust was equally well known. He was a member of the Institute and had been a willing worker in all its activities. In the School at Spencers Wood his work will belong remembered, and his memory cherished. He too answered duty’s call at the outbreak of war, and, on joining, at once received a commission. On one occasion he was gassed, and later was so severely wounded that he spent eleven months in hospital. But such was his indomitable spirit and high courage that, contrary to expectations, he forced his recovery and returned to France to make the supreme sacrifice that England might live.

Charlie Freeman had been abroad for the last five years in the service of the Eastern Telegraph Company. Yet many of us knew him well, having watched him grow up, and we loved his bright happy nature. He came home this summer on leave and spent a gloriously time joy which had its consummation in his marriage. It was on his way back to his duties that the vessel was torpedoed, and he lost his life in the service of his country equally with those who fall in battle.

So one by one the war takes toll of Trinity’s best, and the world become more cheerless as we think we must go on to the end without them.

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

One month as king

Czar Boris III of Bulgaria had come to the throne aged 23 when his father abdicated in the face of impending war disaster. The news that he too had stepped down was in fact untrue.

2 November 1918

Have Valenciennes completely. Boris abdicated after 1 month as king [of] Bulgaria.

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

“It was 60 to 100 at Lloyd’s yesterday there would be peace before Xmas”

Everyone could see the war coming to an end – even the German PoWs.

St Marys, Oct 31 [1918] Hallows Eve

My own darling own

Yesterday… a man called Savage with his wife quite intend on taking this place and if possible buying it. Evidently a very rich man in war profits having to do with all insurance societies, Lloyd’s included, & he told me it was 60 to 100 at Lloyd’s yesterday there would be peace before Xmas….

Meantime the papers are an hourly unrolling of great scrolls of prophecy fulfilled, and to be having a part in it must be a wonderful feeling, and how I long to talk to you, and how I long for the evening papers with news, if any, from Paris. I dread Bolshevik risings, and spread of that disease with Prussianism a fallen God? It is a tremendous thing to think what is in the hands of those few brains at Paris, and I cling to the knowledge that two at least there are with belief in the Eternal Righteousness revealed as Divine Love to those who follow Christ and company with him in sacrifice for the sake of that Righteousness? It must be hard to go on fighting with the world all crumbling that has opposed that righteousness, and it seems as if it – the victory – was already decided.

The news from Italy is glorious, and then Hungary & Austria & Turkey, and with the little bits of news coming in from the Danube – these waterways and tributaries in silence or in spate determining the way of victory. Well – here I watch our little road and the village passers by, and the trees getting bare, but still some golden glow slimes in at the window, and the only thing in touch with the war are the German prisoners no longer bursting with spirits & laughter and talk, but they look grim….

There is a great deal of mild flu about, and some measles, but I have heard of no bad cases so far. I have no sign of flu, only a very little cold of which I take quite abnormal care, & eat formamint lozenges without end….

Archdeacon Moore has resigned – and I am sorry – one of the few gentlemen left in that changing diocese where everything is going on socialistic lines, and I am so unhappy about poor dear Norman Lang, & cannot imagine what his future is to be when the 6 months at the front are over – & will he be needed there 6 months.

Do take care of yourself – send for formamint lozenges & have eucalyptus & a good tonic?

I suppose John will be all right. Maysie is moving to 6 Hill Street, Knightsbridge…

All my love, darling
Own Mur

Lady Mary Glyn to her son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/5)

A reputation for utter disregard of personal safety, but with it an equal regard for the safety of his men

Two young men from Ascot were confirmed killed.

Many of our readers will have felt the most profound sympathy for his parents in their loss of their only son Harold Keating. He fell in action on June 28th whilst carrying out a duty full of danger. After a school career of extraordinary brilliancy, in which he had gained the gold Asiatic Medal, open to all the youth of England, he had begun his Oxford life when the war broke out.

In September, 1914, he received a commission in the Royal Engineers, and was in France soon after. There he gained a reputation for utter disregard of personal safety, but with it an equal regard for the safety of his men. He would expose himself to risks from which he carefully kept those under him. In 1916 he was wounded and sent home, but in the following year was back again in France. In March, 1918, he was in the Amiens salient, and shared to the full the dangers and hardships of the great retreat. His letters showed how galling that failure to hold the line was to his sensitive mind, but he was spared to see the tide turn, and his own sacrifice not in vain.

Apparently, like many others, he had a premonition that his life here was to end; and before the engagement in which he met his death, he left behind for his parents a letter of the deepest affection and unusual perception.

“I am enough”, he wrote, “of a philosopher not to fear the thought of death, and enough of an adventurer to feel excitement and thrilling sensations of adventure at entering continents unknown. That is how I would have you think of me. The captain of my ship setting sail for some most glorious Eldorado, while the rising sun blazes into my face”.

That is something of the martyr spirit, and the adventure he speaks of is the spirit of faith which God asks from all who step out into the unknown. That a career which might well have left its mark in history has been cut short is obvious, but God has greater rewards to grant than the rewards which men can give. It will be when we can read life in its unabridged edition that we shall know that God does not so lose the gifts he gives to me.

After a long delay of mingled anxiety and hope, the authorities have reluctantly resigned all hope of further news of Robert Brown. Many will recollect the boy solo in All Souls’ choir, with his remarkable pure boy’s voice. He was badly wounded on October 9th, 1917, but from that day onwards not the slightest trace has been heard of him. It is thought that on his way to the clearing station he must have come under shell fire, and been blown to pieces. It is God’s mercy that his only brother has been spared to his parents after a desperate and usually fatal illness.

To the parents of both these young boys of our parish we offer our deepest sympathy. For their souls we shall continue at each requiem to pray, “Grant unto them, O Lord, eternal rest, and let Thy light perpetual shine on them”.

South Ascot Parochial Magazine, October 1918 (D/P186/28A/18)

The interest and attraction of the work

A Wargrave curate who had volunteered as an army chaplain was enjoying his new life.

Crazies Hill Notes

The Rev. W.G. Smylie is now working in a Church Army Hut for the benefit of the soldiers in the Inkerman Barracks, Woking, Surrey. He writes very happily about the interest and attraction of the work. He may soon go to France.

Mr Smylie is much missed by his friends at Crazies Hill and the best wishes of all will follow him in his new work.

Wargrave parish magazine, October 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

“In Glasgow in Stob Hill Hospital they are lying dead by the tens”

A friend or relative of Lady Mary Glyn had some insight into the mixture of pro-Zionism and anti-Semitism in upper class circles. William “Billy” Ormsby-Gore (later Lord Harlech was a convert to Judaism and a leading British Zionist. Meanwhile the terrible influenza epidemic was beginning to make its presence felt.

Oct 26/18
My dear M.

I had a good letter from Ralph of Oct. 22. I answered his queries re Frank, in a long letter, & as I had lunched with Arthur I had some War Cabinet talk. A curious lunch, it had been arranged by Frank, a Jew officer friend of his violently opposed to Zionism. I thought I should see a grave Rabbi, but enter a bubbling schoolboy type, bursting with his views. It was most comic. A. J.’s interruptions. “We must remember there was a Tower of Babel”. And, when some fears were expressed re the Jews, “Don’t be afraid, they will take very good care of themselves – very good care. Every 6th man in New York a Jew”. Billy Gore was there to put the Zionist view. Stern lunches here tomorrow to meet Buffy. I have an intense desire to fall back on ham as the piece de resistance. Stern by name, & no doubt a German in a past, but in the present body an intense Britisher….

I heard yesterday how the American troops are attacked in the transports with this septic pneumonia. No doctor, no nurses, no medicines. On one transport some nurses going to France banded together improvised a hospital, and by shere [sic] nursing, they had no drugs, pulled a lot of men through. In Glasgow in Stob Hill Hospital they are lying dead by the tens. The Times obviously knows it by its leader today….

Ever
[Illegible]

[Sybil or Niall Campbell?] To Lady Mary Glyn (D/EGL/C2/5)