So ends another piece of the war-work

The YMCA Hut supported by a Reading church closed down as men returned home.

The “Trinity” Hut

Since publishing the interesting details in last month’s issue, information has been received that, owing to the rapidity of demobilization, the removal of out Hut to Zeebrugge as intended, will be advisable. It is proposed, therefore to dispose of it by auction sale as is being done with all other such huts. Removal to England is impossible on account of the high cost of freight and the unavoidable damage sustained in transit.

So ends another piece of the war-work, but no such bounds can be set to the good resulting from it. How far-reaching was that influence, Eternity alone will reveal!

Trinity Congregational Magazine, Sept 1919 (D/EX1237/1/12)

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Experiences In France

War time experiences would continue to inform lives in peace time.

Circuit Quarterly Meeting held at Tilehurst, September 10th 1919

Rev. W. A. Parrott related some of his experiences in France, & told of how he had – at the urgent request of many men – baptized & administered the sacrament.

Minutes of Reading Wesleyan Methodist Circuit Quarterly Meeting (D/MC1/1A/1)

Detained as evidence at a forthcoming Field General Court Martial

We wonder what the court martial was for, almost a year after the war’s end.

9th September, 1919
L/c E Edwards, Labour Master

Letter from Captain F Paterson, DAPM, Rouen, read stating that L/c E Edwards is detained as evidence at a forthcoming Field General Court Martial and, that as soon as the Court is convened and settled, he would be released for demobilisation.

Windsor Board of Guardians minutes (G/WI1/26)

A bright spot in a time of need

A Reading church received news about the YMCA hut they had supported for soldiers behind the lines.

The “Trinity” Hut

Owing to the departure of many of the Y.M.C.A. Secretaries from the war area, it has been very difficult to get any definite information about our second Hut in France. Until just lately we believed this was erected at St. Omer, but now find that to be incorrect, as the following prove:
2nd July, 1919.

My Dear Mr. Harrison,

I went up this week to see Mr. McCowen as he was coming back from Germany on his way to London, and immediately took up the question of the allocation of your Hut with him. He well remembers the situation and says that your Hut was not actually in the St. Omer area, but it was at St. Malo-les-Bains, near Dunkirk, which after all is not so far away from St. Omer. He says this is the second Reading Hut. I have asked Mr. Sitters to send me a report as to the work of this Hut during the last few months, and also to see that the board saying it is the Reading Hut is still up in it. This Hut has served, during the past few months, thousands of men, who have been using Dunkirk as a demobilisation centre. Further particulars will be coming through, which I will send along. There is a possibility that the Navy may move the Hut to the mole at Zeebrugge, as there is a great need for an extension of our work at that place, but I will see that you are advised if this is done.

I am enclosing herewith the official receipt for the fifteen pounds which you so kindly sent. It was used in the Hut for Christmas festivities.

Yours sincerely,
(Signed) H.N.HOLMES.
Chief Secretary for France.

The report referred to is as follows:-

“The Reading (Malo) Hut was first erected in the Ypres centres, where it provided rest and recreation for countless numbers of men going in and coming out of the trenches. In it provision was made for reading, writing and games. Concerts and lectures were given from time to time, and services were held on Sundays. A refreshment counter where tea, cocoa and coffee, biscuits, cigarettes, etc., could be obtained, was greatly appreciated by those frequenting the Hut.

Later on, owing to the movement of troops, the sector was occupied by Belgian troops, who made considerable use of the Hut. One feature of their occupation was the excellent concerts given by officers and men of the Belgian army. On account of the Germans shelling the place very heavily it was found necessary to move the Hut to a more sheltered spot. It was dismantled, moved south two miles, near to the famous St. Sixthe Convent, re-erected, re-painted, and re-opened within seven days.

On the signing of the armistice the Hut was moved to Dunkirk, where it has provided accommodation for various units, including re-mounts, men being demobilised, and men returning from leave and going to Egypt. On its removal to Dunkirk it was beautifully re-decorated and fitted with electric light, and may now be considered one of the most attractive huts in France.

The subscribers, through whose generosity it has been possible for the Y.M.C.A. to meet the needs of so many men, will be happy to know that the Hut has been a bright spot in a time of need to thousands of the brave men who have been defending our country.”

Trinity Congregational Magazine, August 1919 (D/EX1237/1/12 )

Only married for nine weeks

The after-effects of being gassed in the trenches could last for years.

A Soldier’s Death

On Sunday, Aug. 10th, there died in the Royal Berks Hospital, Reading, at the age of 30, Lance-Corpl. Frederick Thomas King. For some time he had been suffering from pneumonia, the complaint being aggravated by gas-poisoning contracted whilst serving in France. Deceased had only been married about nine weeks. We take this opportunity of expressing our sympathy with his widow and family.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, September 1919 (D/P120/28A/14)

“An exact copy of the single crosses which are to be erected in France and Belgium will link up our churchyard with the resting places of our gallant men who have fallen out there”

Burghfield planned a simple yet effective war memorial.

The result of the collection for the Celebration Fund and the Memorial Fund is not yet known as we go to press.

Until the amount of the latter at their disposal is ascertained, the Committee can hardly consider how to spend it. At present, as regards the Cross, the only suggestion made is that it should be an exact copy of the single crosses which are to be erected in France and Belgium, one in each cemetery. It is argued that this will, as it were, link up our churchyard with the resting places of our gallant men who have fallen out there, and will not be inappropriate for those whose deaths occurred elsewhere.

Burghfield parish magazine, August 1919 (D/EX725/4)

The final downfall of German militarism: the most epoch-making moment of the year nineteen hundred and nineteen

A woman who grew up in Windsor was present at the celebrations after the signing of the treaty which brought a formal end to the war.

The Peace of Versailles

Probably the most epoch-making moment of the year nineteen hundred and nineteen was that marked by Hermann Muller signing the Treaty of Peace in the name of the German Republic. We did not see that signature affixed. We reached the palace of Versailles as the first gun fired its signal to the waiting crowds. In fact, we were late, for motor cars had been sorely taxed, and we had come with a relay. But the rush in this car from the Arc-de-Triomphe in Paris to Versailles was full of vivid impressions.

Our route lay through the woods of Boulogne-sur-Seine and St Cloud, then in the full flush of their summer glory and lit by a warm sun. The road all the way was kept by French soldiers posted every hundred yards, and at every bend, and as our car dashed furiously along the clear road, people looked at us so curiously, that we felt we must be taken for late arrivals, who hoped at least to defer and perhaps to annul the Treaty.

At last we swung into the long straight avenue leading up to the Palace gates. On either side, dense lines of cavalry – chestnut mounts, azure blue uniforms and helmets overtopped with gleaming lances and red and white pennons, al in perfect alignment. As our late car approached, the whole formation, till then “at ease”, sprang to attention, and we felt we were very fraudulent, and quite undeserving of such salutes. We got out quickly, and as we reached the terrace beyond the Palace, the first gun told us that peace had been signed. The followed a great scene in a great setting: the long park front of the Bourbon’s home, the wide formal gardens of the terrace, the great fountains which play so seldom, and all of these were bathed in sunshine. The Republican Guard were much in evidence, the infantry in dark blue, with befeathered kepis, while the sun was reflected from the dazzling rows of the cuirassiers.

Whilst the German delegates were departing there was silence, but when the “Big Four” appeared, the assembled company on the terrace could restrain itself no longer, and their reception was immense, while the leading representatives of France and England, on making their way to the far edge of the terrace, were well-night carried off their feet by the crowd. The view which these leaders of the Congress had when they eventually reached their goal was unique – in the foreground, the steep slope of the formal gardens, then the high boundary rail, behind it and with the superb avenue and lake for background, the Parisian in his thousands, and with his wife and family all densely packed and cheering.

This was the picture which we left by a side entrance, to seek contrast in the solitude of the great park of Versailles, and there, buried in silent glades, or roaming amidst the artificial rusticity of the “hamlet” it was easy to see again as in a Watteau picture, the senseless but harmless frolics of the Court of Louis XV. Here we were free to muse upon the epochs of history which have had their opening and closing scenes in these surroundings. The revolutionary oath taken in the Tennis Court beyond the palace spelt doom to the regime of artificial shepherds and shepherdesses and all that they implied; from this a span of eighty-two years saw, in the Palais de Glace, the triumph of German militarism, and this day June 28th, 1919, after a further lapse of forty-eight years, had seen its downfall.

An Old Girl.


Clewer: St Stephen’s High School Magazine, 1920 (D/EX1675/6/2/2)

“We are truly sorry to lose from our midst one from whom we expected much in coming days”

After all the dangers of war it was illness which felled one returning soldier.

CONDOLENCE

We much regret to have to record the death of Mr Frank W. Snell of 22 Eldon Road. Our friend had not long been demobilised. He was on active service for a considerable time in France, and was seriously wounded in the head and face. There can be no doubt whatever that the brief illness to which he succumbed was due to this cause. We are truly sorry to lose from our midst one from whom we expected much in coming days, and we tender our sincerest sympathy to his parents, and the other members of his family, in their sore bereavement.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, June 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“War is dreadful, but Peace is terrible”

An army doctor was a leader in the temperance movement.

An Open-Air Meeting in connection with the St Luke’s Branch of the CETS was held in the Vicarage Garden, on Tuesday evening, June 10th, under the Presidency of the Rev. T H Thurland, the Vicar being away on holiday. The Chief Speaker was Dr Harford, General Secretary of the CETS, who first distributed the certificates, etc, won by the Band of Hope members, the handsome Challenge Banner for the Maidenhead Band of Hope competition having been won by North Town.

Dr Harford, in his address, spoke chiefly to interest the large number of juveniles present. He told them of his service for nearly four years as an eye specialist in France, and related many incidents and told of the scenes of destruction and military activities. He next quoted the remark of M. Clemenceau, French Prime Minister, that “War is dreadful, but Peace is terrible”. This meant that when at war we had got but one thing to do – to see we got it through; but in Peace everybody began to fight everybody else we had first to make a good Peace, not only in Paris, but also at home. He urged the young people to do all they could to fight against the evils caused by drink, one of the greatest curses of our land. The Doctor related an interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury relative to the coming big campaign of the CETS, the “Merrie England” Movement, in which the Society would send cinemas and lecturers around the country to give an impetus to better housing and or enlightened action as to food, health and thrift. The Society was anxious that everybody should have happy homes – not only good, decent houses, but real happy homes. As to cooking, the Doctor had a severe shock when, on asking a little boy if he liked nice puddings, and taking for granted the inevitable “Yes”, the little boy frankly replied “No, sir!” The Doctor’s point was that if the wives would only give their husbands plenty of sweet puddings, the men would not care for so much beer, in which they found the sugary element. In the new homes of Merrie England the children must be taught to play games.

Dr Harford later told some experiences as a missionary for many years in West Africa, where he was nearly eaten by cannibals. An effort was being made to suppress the use of gin out there, this spirit being the buying and selling “coinage” of the country. – (Laughter). As part of the “Merrie England” Movement, every parish was being asked to arrange a little pageant play already published as part of the local Peace celebrations; and he hoped the Maidenhead CETS would carry this out.

Reprinted from The Maidenhead Advertiser.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, July 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)

About to return

A schoolboy got an early finish to see his soldier dad.

May 26th 1919

William Newell was allowed to leave school before the close of the afternoon session by request of his father, a soldier from France, about to return.

Bradfield CE School log book (D/P22/28/2, p. 222)

Another opportunity of setting foot on English soil

A soldier celebrated Empire Day with his wedding to an old friend.

MARRIAGE

On Saturday, May 24th, two of our old Sunday Scholars were married in our Church by the Pastor. We refer to Mr R B (“Dick”) Wilkins and Miss Rosina Blake. The bridegroom has been for some years away from Tilehurst, having been in residence in Canada, but on the outbreak of war he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and in the course of his career as a soldier he gained another opportunity of setting foot on English soil.

By a curious coincidence it was “Empire Day” when he enlisted, “Empire Day” again when he first crossed to France, and yet again “Empire Day” when he entered upon married life. The wedding was quite a simple ceremony, marked by earnestness and sincerity, and the large congregation was ample evidence to the young couple of the good wishes which they were receiving from many friends.

We trust that the demands of military service will soon cease in Mr Wilkins’s case, and that he and his wife will be able to settle happily in their far off home across the seas. They know we all wish them the very best…

Tilehurst section of Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, July 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

RIP

Another Newbury man was reported dead retrospectively.

ROLL OF HONOUR
102. Driver Rupert Ferris, 1st Tanks Co., died of wounds, Maricana, France, March 24th, 1918. RIP.

Newbury parish magazine, May 1919 (D/P89/28A/14)

Now going to Russia

More soldiers shared their experiences back home.

May 2nd
Visit of Fred Dore and Reg. Claridge, two old boys who have seen service in Flanders, France, Italy, and are now going to Russia.

St Mary’s CE School, Speenhamland (C/EL119/3)

In memory of two sons

The two Sulhamstead parish churches each received a gift in memeory of a fallen soldier.

The Vestry Meetings were held at the Schools on Tuesday, April 22nd. The Rector presided.

Sulhamstead Abbots:

… The Rector stated that Mr G Leake desired to insert a window in the chancel of St Mary’s Church in memory of his son, Lieutenant George Leake (acting captain), DSO, from the design originally made with the corresponding three. The Vestry gave authority for this being erected …

Sulhamstead Bannister:

… The Rector reported that Mrs Tyser was presenting the church with an organ in memory of her son, Major George Beaumont Tyser, East Lancashire Regiment, who was killed in France on July 6th, 1916. He was authorized to obtain a faculty if such were required, and was directed to convey to Mrs Tyser the thanks of the Vestry for her munificent gift.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, July 1919 (D/EX725/4)

Sympathy for Mr Slade

A Burghfield man survived the war, only to encounter unexpected tragedy at home.

Much sympathy is felt for Mr J Slade on the death of his good wife after a very short illness. Mr Slade, who joined up in September, 1915, has seen service at the Dardanelles and in France, and was only discharged in January last.

Burghfield parish magazine, April 1919 (D/EX725/4)