“The Huns ran from the tanks like hares”

John Maxwell Image wrote to a friend with his latest thoughts, and passing on brother-in-law Percy Spencer’s impressions.

29 Barton Road
Tuesday 10 Oct ‘16

My Very Dear Old Man

I quite understand, and share with you, the absorbing interest of the daily War News. Nothing else matters, now-a-days. What do you make of this morning’s news of the U boat blockade of the United States coast? If America really shuts them out from supplies in her ports, it must be over in a month or so – and if it succeeds, the exasperation of the Yanks’ commerce must kick Wilson into activity. Anyhow it is a risky move for Germany on the brink of a Presidential election. Therefore I should judge it a sop to soothe German home politics – now that things are growing so disastrous on the Somme.

I went last Friday to see the German “Albatross” (captured by us on 15 October last year) which the WO has presented to the University. It is said to be a fine specimen, tho’ the class has been cut out since. I was very little impressed. For one thing it was so much smaller than I expected – a snout nosed, biplane, 2 seater.

We have had 2 Zepp raids since my last letter. I slept peacefully through both. In the latter of the two the Zepp dropped a starshell on Grantchester: and then passed over Barton Road, probably over our own garden, for Prof. Stanley Gardiner (opposite us) heard its drone, and turning over in bed said to his wife, “the raid is over – there are the trains running again”. We were at tea in his lovely house and garden yesterday when he told me this…

Brandon, one of the two airmen who got DSO for bringing down the flaming Zepp was at Trinity Hall.

A Tank passed through Camb[ridge] on Friday. The Signora got an amusing letter from one of her brothers at the Front, last Saturday, in which he says of the Tanks, “they are very funny, but the boundless faith in them of the folks at home is even funnier. On the day when they were first used, the Huns ran from them like hares – this, although they were aware of their advent” (clearly, nothing can be kept from the Hun spy). Two are known to have got in once to the place near Thetford where the Tanks were secretly built. To go on with Percy Spencer: “One of these contraptions was observed going through the main street of a captured village with our boys riding all over her and hanging on the back.” His chief praise, however, is for our Aeroplanes. “In the air, the Hun is a nonentity – and he owns it every day” – and I remember how, when he first went out, he used to laugh and vow that he had seen hundreds shot at, but never one brought down!

These submarine brutes, who torpedo ships without warning! Did you notice that the first question asked by the Submarine at Newport was for the Bremen? Why, his Government, weeks ago, published to the world the safe arrival of the Bremen in America. Does he presume to disbelieve his own Government? The Americans honestly know nothing of her, but we in England for some time past have heard it whispered that she is safe at Falmouth. The Falmouth watch for U boats is very strict, and has been (so they boast) inordinately successful. A lady who came back a few weeks ago from a holiday, recounted to me how she was one afternoon walking by the shore when a destroyer tore past her in furious haste, all the funnels vomiting columns of black smoke. No sooner as she past Pendennis Point than the firing began. It died away – and presently, soberly and slowly, the destroyer came back, another destroyer keeping pace, and between them – the German submarine. What wouldn’t I have given for that sight.

I am told – by Ball, so it is likely to be correct – that Trinity expects this term 47 men of all years, including BAs!

The Fellowship dinner was for tonight. It is postponed till Thursday – after the funerals of Keith Lucas (killed from an aeroplane) nd poor Alfred Humphry. He is buried today at Thaxted…

Our most affectionate wishes to you both.
Bild

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

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“Our streets and homes are becoming rapidly emptied of men”

The war was increasingly striking home as more and more men joined the armed forces – and more and more died.

THE WAR

The Naval Battle off the coast of Jutland and the tragically sudden loss of Lord Kitchener have brought home to us as nothing else has, the awfulness of the war. We can however thank God that we really won the victory, which will probably become clear to us when we read Admiral Jellicoe’s eagerly awaited Despatch and we can truly thank God for the magnificent character of Lord Kitchener and the splendid work which he has done for the Empire. We have also had an additional cause for thankfulness in the wonderful recovery of our Russian Allies and their victories over the Austrians, and also for the courage and grand resistance of the French before Verdun. Please God we shall have still more reasons soon for rejoicing.

Our streets and homes are becoming rapidly emptied of men, and a number more have joined up since last month. There are now from many families several brothers serving, and our sympathy is due especially to those mothers who have several sons at the war.

Several of our old lads have nobly laid down their lives, among whom are Sidney Walter Jones, John Thomas Owen, Ernest Buckle, William Henry Palmer, William Bellinger, and Ernest Westall. Moreover Lieut. William N Gardiner, grandson of the late Rector of Newbury, also died in the Naval Battle, in which Owen, Buckle, Palmer and Bellinger lost their lives. And yet how inadequate is this expression, for indeed they have, we trust, through death found a better and a more glorious life than any that can be ours here.

The Women’s Intercession Service on Friday afternoons is being well attended, though there are a great many more who could come, if they would: the members of the congregation are asked to put any special requests for prayer in the little box which hangs on the church wall, near the Intercession List, and these are used during the service: a certain number of names from the List are also read out.

Newbury parish magazine, July 1916 (D/P89/28A/13)

Fighting indigestion in the trenches

A woman with Berkshire connections was working with the French Red Cross helping to feed French soldiers.

Mr T. Evelyn Swain has been gazetted as Second Lieutenant in the Royal West Surrey Regiment (The Queen’s).

An interesting revelation of the work that goes on behind the firing line of the French Army is given by a knowledge of the work of Mrs Gardiner (daughter of Mr and Mrs Alfred Palmer). She has joined the Croix Rouge Francais, and is engaged in canteen work. It seems that as soon as the French soldiers leave the trenches they come to a Rest House, where coffee and refreshments are served out to hundreds at a time. Then some require special feeding, as they suffer from bad indigestion, and are given proper nourishing food.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, December 1915 (D/EX725/3)

The men of Earley serving their country

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

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