Fruit and nuts for gas masks

Wallingford boys were collecting various kinds of fruit.

Wallingford
1918, 18 September

Visited (pm) by Mr J Brown in connection with arrangements for collection of blackberries. We are already collecting nut-shells and plum-stones, for carbon used in gasmasks.

Hurst
18th September 1918

School closed the whole day owing to the Hurst fete at Staines Hill for the providing of funds for the Hurst prisoners of war.

Aldermaston
18th September 1918

Half holiday, 68lbs of blackberries.

Buscot
Sept. 18th

Older children gathered 88 ½ lbs blackberries – sent to Faringdon.

Log books: Wallingford Boys Council School (SCH22/8/3); Aldermaston School (88/SCH/3/3, p. 94); Hurst C of E Boys School (D/P73/28/23, p. 37)Buscot CE School (C/EL73/2);

Advertisements

“The whole situation on the Western front was changed to our advantage”

The Rector of Remenham encouraged parishioners to give what they could.

Rector’s Letter

My Dear People,

With regard to the War, what cause for thankfulness was ours during the month of August: the whole situation on the Western front was changed to our advantage. Very humbly we have ground to hope that the Almighty has made bare his arm. In dark hours we knew that His care was over us; in the day of sunshine and success we acknowledge that “our sufficiency is of God”. We lift our hearts up unto the Lord.

I would call your attention to two appeals that are made to us in this issue of the Magazine. Please save all your fruit stones (plum, cherry, peach, nectarine, apricot, date) and hard nut shells; they are urgently needed for making charcoal for anti-gas masks to protect our fighting men. I shall be glad to receive at the Rectory between September 15 and 30 all stones and shells collected.

Then, secondly, urge the children to gather blackberries as soon as they are ripe; the Berkshire Education Committee are asking the head teachers to organise the effort throughout the county, and our headmistress is doing so for Remenham…

George H Williams

ANTI-GAS MASKS

Who will help our soldiers?

Mrs Barber, Culham Court, has received an urgent request from the Director-General of National Salvage asking us to collect fruit stones and nut-shells. They are needed for the production of charcoal for anti-gas masks, for the charcoal thus produced affords far greater protection to our soldiers against poison gas than any other known substance. The need will continue for the next two months. It is important that stones and nut shells should be forwarded in a dry condition; stones should be dried by being placed for a short time in the sun or in an oven. Will any one who is disposed to help, collect their fruit stones and nut shells, and send them, however small the quantity may be, to the Rectory any time between September 15 and 30?

BLACKBERRIES WANTED!

The Berkshire Education Committee has been asked by the Ministry of Food to arrange for the systematic picking and collecting of blackberries for jam making. Miss Mannion, the head mistress, is organising the collection by the school children of Remenham. A payment of 3d per lb will be made to the children for the amount collected, and they will be granted holidays for the picking expeditions. The picking should take place when the berries are ripe and dry. The children will work in organised parties under the supervision of their teachers, and they are warned to do no damage and to close all gates after them. All berries picked under this scheme must be reserved for Government use and none may be sold.

Remenham parish magazine, September 1918 (D/P99/28A/4)

Fruit and nuts in demand

The country wanted fruits and nuts to be collected.

COLLECTION OF FRUIT STONES AND NUTSHELLS

The National Salvage Council are most anxious to get as many of these as possible for the manufacture of a special charcoal for anti-gas masks.

Miss Edith Keevil, of Coley Park, Reading, has undertaken to receive and forward any amounts, large or small.

Last year’s stones (from jams, preserves, etc) are as good as this year’s. All hard fruit stones, including dates, and all hard nutshells, are good; but not green almonds, beech nuts, or fircones. Fruit stones should be kept separate from nutshells. They need not be washed, but should be well dried. Further particulars can be obtained at either Post Office.

COLLECTION OF BLACKBERRIES

So far as this is not being done by individual owners for their own use, this is being organized through the schools. Managers have power to grant occasional half holidays, and of course Saturdays can be used. Children, however, must not go wandering wherever they like without leave, and school parties are to work in organized gangs under their teachers, taking care to do no damage, and to close gates after them. All berries picked under this scheme must be reserved for Government use, and none may be sold. A payment of 3d per lb will be made to the children; and Head Teachers acting as local agents will be entitled to £3 per ton.

Braywick
10th September

Another attempt was made to-day to gather fruit, but a heavy storm came on, and school went on as usual.

Buscot
Sept. 10th

Older children taken out blackberrying in the afternoon; 44 pounds gathered, packed and sent to central agent.

Burghfield parish magazine, September 1918 (D/EX725/4); Braywick CE School log book (C/EL65/4, p. 204); Buscot CE School log book (C/EL73/2)

“By the time I reached support line I was fagged out, scarcely having had any food for 24 hours”

Sydney Spencer was tired, hungry and under fire.

Monday 8 July 1918

Written in support line 8.7.18

At 8.30 [last night] informed that I was to do a patrol for a certain object. This we did but object not achieved, it was impossible, & I had been in the front line only an hour or two. Started out at 10.10 & returned at 12.20 am this morning. It took me till 3 to get this report out.

At 3.45 Jerry started a strafe which lasted till about 6.30. I had a half hour’s sleep from then till 7 or so. Then Dillworth relieved me & I got down to Company HQ & waited for Ferrier. By the time I reached support line I was fagged out, scarcely having had any food for 24 hours. Just 4 cups of tea & a slice or two of bread & butter.

We stood to, to get men in fire position. I then had breakfast at 10.30. Tried to sleep & couldn’t. Spent remainder of morning making a trench map for Capt. of JOKO, coming in. Afternoon spent in doing a working party making [illegible] bivouacs. After tea rested a bit.

At 8.30 went with Ferrier to try & arrange firing positions. Enemy put over a barrage of blue cross gas. We wore masks. Only last[ed] a little while.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

This dreamy life

The Russian Imperial family was still alive – but would be murdered in less than a fortnight.

Friday 5 July 1918

Florence Vansittart Neale
5 July 1918

Horrible rumour Tzar, Tzaritza & Tatiana been murdered.

We all nibbling on satisfactoring [sic]. Germans not making push. Our air work very good & upsetting to them.

Sydney Spencer
5 July 1918

Got up at 7.15. Breakfast as 8.15. At 8.30 inspected men’s rifles, hair, SBRs & feet. Dismissed them till 11.30 to clean up. I rested meanwhile in my room, & sewed up my torn breeches etc. At 11.30 I inspected men in full marching order & have them some arms drill. At 12 I went to my room & slept for an hour.

Dear old Maddison arrived at 1 pm & I spent the afternoon lying in a field of cut clover with him. He told me some of his life history. After tea this dreamy life was dispelled by the news that I report back to the Battalion tomorrow at Hedanville.

Domqueur is a delightful spot. Spent the rest of evening playing patience & resting. To bed at 11 & read a stupid ill written novel.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

A sort of gas officer’s nightmare

Sydney was annoyed to have to go through the same procedures over and over again.

Saturday 29 June 1918

Refitted once more with my SBR.

11 am. I am going through a sort of gas officer’s nightmare. What do you think, my dear old diary, I ask, being refitted again with my SBR. So far the history is as follows:

First fitted 5.12.17
2nd fitting 9.5.18
3rd fitting 26.6.18
4th fitting 29.6.18
& so it goes on.

I have to sit & listen to elementary lecture on how to put on a mask! I have had to come about 3 miles for this.

I got back to camp about 4. Had tea & then down to Grand Hotel in hope of seeing Cubitt. He did not turn up. Had a good dinner at the Continental with Peter Layard, Toolman & a chap named Somerset. Its effect was very civilizing & I felt much better as a result. My depression vanished.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

A very quick journey through, only 18 hours altogether

Sydney reached Calais to find his gas mask needed to be refitted.

Friday 28 June 1918

I woke at 4.15 am to find that we were at Etaples already. I did not worry about anything. I just grunted & went off to sleep again & slept on & off fitfully until 10 am when to my surprise I wound I was at Calais! No changes & a very quick journey through! Only 18 hours altogether.

A shave, shampoo, wash at Club. Got 125 francs from Base Cashier. Lunch at Club, bought some socks at ordnance. Got up here to ‘L’ depot (IB) at 3.30. After tea talked to a few old 2/5th Norfolk men.

Went to see Adjutant who said that my SBR must be refitted!! I only had it done 48 hours ago! My kit not yet arrived; it is now 6.30 pm! It arrived at 8.15 pm & I went to bed. Very tired. Essex officers in tent only just out kicked up a big noise.


Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

French holding fairly, lost in some parts, but fighting very hard

It was the last day of Sydney Spencer’s gas training course.

Sydney Spencer
Monday 10 June 1918

Got up at 7.15. After breakfast, I wrote up some of my notes. Then to lecture given by chemical adviser Major Edwardes-Ker, on Responsibilities of Officers.

Then the usual last day of course lectures by students. Very droll, some of them, too. Major Knights was asked about Green X shells & spoke lengthily about what his CO had said concerning yellow X shells. Jones the Welsh man had a fit of spoonerisms, talking of ‘belastic lands’ for elastic bands! Poor Bin – he was dumb! Hardwick knew nothing but was so droll as to pass it all off. Graham was very good indeed. I had to speak on ‘Reliefs’ & gassed areas, etc. Major Ker promised to send my notes down to Broadbent in England. Wore SBB for an hour. After lunch a short lecture by Ash. Then break up of school.

After tea to Hesdin shopping & a bath at common dark place. Dinner, a short walk with Major Knights and then the completion of note writing up to 12.30 am. Wrote letter to Major Ker, reference notes & to bed & read Tartarin de Tarascon.

Florence Vansittart Neale
10 June 1918

Canadians left 9.45…

Disturbed siesta. Soldiers came early – nice set of men. Boats, bowls, croquet & tennis. Left 6.30.

French holding fairly. Lost in some parts, but fighting very hard.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer in France (D/EZ177/8/15); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Gas masks of all nations

Sydney was instructed in the use of gas masks and translating for fellow trainees, while Percy had a bad day.

Sydney Spencer
Saturday 8 June 1918

Another beautiful day after the light rain we had last night. Got up at 7.30. After breakfast lolled about a bit & then on parade by 9.30 am. First parade consisted in [sic] a lecture by Lieut. Ash on Warfare generally, followed by the Projector Gas attack, a very interesting part of the lecture to me as I had not heard more than vague rumours as to how it worked.

After lecture a break, then gas drill till 12.30. Adjustment of box respirators by members! Lunch, & afterwards parade till 4.30. Lecture on gas masks of all nations, ie English, French, German & Russian. The Russian is a hideous [sic] affair. After the lecture a talk from the QM Staff man on Inspection. A rotten exhibition. Then through lachrymator gas to test the masks. At 4.30 we dismissed.

After tea, walked to Hesdin with Barker. Made sundry purchases. Barker wanted anything from ninepins to elephants. He taxed my French noun vocabulary to the last ounce. After dinner a loll in the garden. Then writing up gas notes.

Percy Spencer
8 June 1918

Went up to Battalion HQ. A very pleasant walk up. Fireworks everywhere. An awful journey back. Horses bolted as we tore thro’ batteries shelling & being shelled.

Florence Vansittart Neale
8 June 1918

Better news in France. We retaking few places. Heard Boy [her son in law Leo Paget] 3 months more in England & has an MC.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“It was like a benediction falling on the earth, & the air wounded & bleeding from the incessant noise & was rested & sighed contentedly for that brief space, when respite was allowed”

Sydney Spencer had been unable to take his diary with him to the front line, so he wrote up his experiences on 28 May 1918. He was able to delight in the glories of nature even there, despite the horrors of war.

I propose filling in these pages, my dear Mr Diary, by giving you a broad idea of what happened in the line during these days from Whit Sunday [19 May] until Thursday 23, as I am not certain as to details from day to day.

The normal day’s work consisted of short ‘patches’ of sleep at any odd time, sometimes only twice during the 9 days tour 6 hours sleep in the 24 hours, on an average between 2 & 3 hours. Meals were at 4.30 after stand down. Lunch at 12.30 or 1. Tea at 4 pm & dinner (so its name went & for trench life well deserved it too) at 7. For 4 days from 7.45-8.45 we had to wear small box respirators for practice.

Nights were spent on trench duty, wiring, digging, & for me on one evening a calling party. Also patrols. I only took one, a listening post, although I was detailed for 4 of them. The first three were cancelled as the entire regiment did them instead. After three days in my part of the line I was shunted into immediate support just behind 8 & 5 Platoons, about 25 yards behind the front line. This meant that I became a sort of ‘fatigue dance of death’ in the evenings. I had, while in actual front line, a Lewis gun post, and a rifleman’s post. This new position of mine was not the most comfortable as master Fritz was very fond of playing attention to that quarter twice a day, but we got used to that. On our last day we had the biggest strafe, which included an aeroplane at a very low height.

The weather while we were up the line was glorious from the day we went up until we came out, without a cloud with the exception of one day which rained soft, rained on us & made the soil beastly.

Now something about the nature I was able to study during my tour of ‘Narrow streets’. We had times, occasionally we had moments when peace seemed to reign supreme. One day I was able to stand in the W- C- trenches for fully five minutes without hearing guns either near or distant, nor the clack of L. Guns or Machine guns, nor the hum of aeroplanes. It was wonderful that smooth quiet moment or two when the month of summer was allowed to hold full sway. It was like a benediction falling on the earth, & the air wounded & bleeding from the incessant noise & was rested & sighed contentedly for that brief space, when respite was allowed.

Now to talk of the life I saw in ‘Narrow Street’. First of all the butterflies. They were beautiful. Dear old Peyton used to laugh at me and say “Spencer has a lot of little boxes in his bivy filled with butterflies”, but that wasn’t true. I wrote to Florence one morning & just when I was in the middle of a list of butterflies which I had seen, master Boche started and gave us 3 /12 hours of the worst I have tasted, but I finished my letter all the same for that. Here is a list of butterflies.

1. Small white.
2. Green veined white.
3. Tortoiseshell.
4. Red admiral.
5. Peacock.
6. Small fritillary.
7. Large fritillary.
8. Small Heath.
9. Meadow brown.
10. Small blue.
11. Swallow Tail.
& I think but am not certain
12. The Painted Lady.

I did not see the large white nor orange tip, nor brimstone, which is passing strange, don’t you think, master diary? Of other insects, the handsomest was a glorious heavily built yellow gold & black bodied dragon fly. One morning, in the cool of the hour after stand down, I found one asleep & he went about contentedly on my [illegible] sleeve until the warm sun kissed him into life again. This seemed to highly amuse the men, especially when I shewed them his huge maw, which he opened when I blew on him gently: they also thought me very intrepid, as they thought all dragon flies stung! Frogs there were in abundance, & myriads of dusty coloured running spiders. Also many beautiful beetles. I saw one black & red fly busily hauling off the dead body of a spider! Had he killed it, I wondered? A turning of the tables. Also I found a beautiful emerald green ladybird, who when turned on its back opened its wing casts, prised itself onto its head, turned a somersault & landed on its feet in a tick! That is about all I have to relate.

For the rest, the usual round of wiring parties, water carrying, etc.

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15)