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)

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Treatment for gas poisoning contracted in the trenches

One of the many institutions run by the Community of St John Baptist was a Convalescent Home in Folkestone, Kent – the ideal place for one of the clergymen who assisted the Sisters to go to rcover from his war experiences.

27 January 1919
The Sub-Warden went to St Andrew’s Home in order to have treatment for gas poisoning contracted in the trenches.

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

“Our pride and gratitude for the work so gloriously completed by our naval and military forces”

There were mixed feelings in Ascot as the war’s human price was still an open wound.

The Ascot Sailors and Soldiers’ Committee have decided that efforts must be made to let every man from our parish serving overseas receive a Christmas present and a message assuring him of our pride and gratitude for the work so gloriously completed by our naval and military forces. Arrangements have already been made for the sending of such presents by registered letter post, so that if not delivered they may be safely returned and presented to any who may have already returned home.

To raise the money required, the R.A.F. have most kindly offered to arrange a special performance in their Cinema, probably on Wednesday, December 11th. Please look out for the announcement and make sure that no seat is left vacant. Members of the Committee will be calling upon relatives to ascertain the latest addresses of the men abroad.

We congratulate Sergt. C.C. Parsons on the great distinction of receiving a bar to his military medal.

The Managers have decided to devote the money which would have been expended on prizes during the past three years, on a Christmas Entertainment for all the Children before the conclusions of hostilities.

While we are all full of thankfulness for the great victory, it is a specially sad to have to record the death of yet another Ascot man, who has died whilst serving his Country. George Smith, for many years in the service of Sir Charles Ryan, died in a military hospital at Tidworth, and was buried at Ascot, on Nov. 23rd. When he was called up for the R.A.F. last summer there were many who doubted whether he was strong enough for a soldier’s life, and our deepest sympathy goes out to his widow and little daughter.

We are glad to hear that George Maunder, who is suffering from gas poisoning, is making progress towards recovery, and we hope that this is the last casualty we shall have to record. We pray that very soon those who have relatives prisoners of war may be relieved of their anxiety, and that we may all share in welcoming them home in safety.

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, December 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/10)

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)

“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)

An interesting story to tell of our campaign in Palestine

Soldiers on leave could tell friends and family at home what life was like at the front.

Sailors and Soldiers home on leave should be able to make their thanksgiving for the answer to the prayers which we pray from them, and to make their communion before leaving for duty.

We much regret to hear that Rfm. R. Hinton has been gassed again.

Trooper B. Edmunds came home on leave at the end of August. He had an interesting story to tell of our campaign in Palestine.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, October 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/9)

“Your brother did most excellent work in the last show, but unfortunately tried to accomplish more than a human being can out here”

Sydney Spencer had asked his sister Florence to send some cigarettes to his senior officer.

22 Aug 1918
Dear Mrs Image

I was astonished to receive a large parcel of cigarettes from you this morning.

In thanking you very much indeed, I realise the presence of your brother’s guiding hand. Further you must know that I am unable at present to share the cigarettes with those whom he would wish me to share with, for about five days ago I got a mouthful of gas & at present I am in bed in a Rest Camp behind the lines. I am ever so sorry that your gift did not go straight up to the fellows in the line for we have been on starvation rations for cigarettes lately & I’m sure they would burst into tears at a box this size.
However, as I expect to return in a few days I will see to it that some of the crumbs reach their hungry mouths.

Your brother did most excellent work in the last show, but unfortunately tried to accomplish more than a human being can out here. I felt sure that as a result he would break down as I could not prevail on him to take much rest. I am sure you will be glad to know he commanded the best platoon in the battalion, & we shall all be eager to see him back again but, as I wrote him, it must not be until he is really fit this time. However, a spell at Trouville should do him all the good in the world if this lovely weather continues.

I heard that another brother had been wounded by a bomb – I hope he got to Blighty & is making good recovery.

Please let me thank you again for an almost priceless gift as things are at present, though I fear I receive it under false pretenses.

With kind regards, I remain
Yours sincerely
G E Dillon

Hearty congratulations on your article in Punch – much appreciated by “the troops”.

Letter from Captain Dillon (D/EX801/78)

On a football field in France

Old Boys from St Bartholomew’s Grammar School in Newbury shared their news.

Several letters have come our way from O.N.’s, among them being one J. Allee, who wants to know if there are any other O.N.’s in Palestine, where he is serving as a Captain in the A.S.C., as he has seen no one but Brooks since he has been there, for nearly three years. He seems rather disappointed with Jerusalem, but says that the country around the Dead Sea and the Jordan was well worth seeing, the hills being ablaze with flowers.

H. Pappin, in another letter, tells how he met Newman on the football field in France, where they both had been picked for the same team, the latter recognising Pappin’s name in the list. There seems a favourite place of recognition, for it was in Egypt that Pappin met Hobbs and Beard under similar circumstances. He has been running his battery team, “The Lily Whites,” all the winter, a combination in which what is lacking in science is made up with enthusiasm.

Two most interesting letters have come to us from F. W. Taylor and W. H. Bradfield. The former, who is serving with the Nigeria Regiment at Zungeru, has met our plea for an article by saying that he is writing a Grammar of the Fulani Language, but promises to do his best; while Bradfield, who is with the R.F.A. in France, is in the thick of the present heavy fighting.

J. J. Hurrell, who left the N.G.S. for Bradfield College, in 1913, has just passed through Sandhurst and goes into the Indian Army in September.

A double good fortune is the lot of D. W. Rosling, who is serving at Salonica; for simultaneously with his majority comes the following announcement: May 28th, at Cambray House, Carmarthen, to Florence, wife of Major D. W. Rosling, The King’s Liverpool Regiment, the gift of a son. – Congratulations.

We also have to congratulate two O.N.’s on their marriages; Lieut. E. J. Widle, T.M.B., to Miss Daphne Collette, at St John’s Church, Oxford; and Henry Hoskings, 1st Life Guards, to Miss Phyllis Richens, at St Anne’s, Westminster.

Our casualties are again heavy, though the proportion of wounded is, as last term, small. A. B. V. Brown and I. C. Davidson are both in hospital in England, after having been gassed, while A.L. Sandbach has been discharged through his wounds, after an exciting career. Volunteering for service on the outbreak of hostilities in Africa, he served against German West Africa, under Botha, in Greyling’s Commando, where he was one of the sole two white men serving. German West having been quelled, he returned to his civil duties, but soon after answered the call for men for German East. This time he joined the 2nd South African Horse, with whom he saw some hard fighting, on one occasion having his horse shot from under him. He was promoted to Sergeant and served for about three months longer, after which time he was hit in the thigh by shrapnel at Germinston, with the result as stated that he has been invalided out, returning to his work at Johannesburg. By a curious coincidence, each of these in this branch of the list is an old Victor Ludorum, Sachbach having also tied with Evers for a second year, while the dates of Brown and Davidson respectively, are those immediately preceding the War.

I. K. Fraser, whom we reported as having been wounded, in our last number, has so far recovered as to be able to pay us a visit towards half term. He is looking remarkably fit in spite of all.
Congratulations to G. W. Hall on his Mention in Sir Douglas Haig’s last despatch, and also to J. Allee on his mention in General Allenby’s.

John Cannon has been transferred from the A.S.C. to the 1st Somerset Light Infantry, and is now in the trenches.

The Newburian (magazine of St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury), July 1918 (N/D161/1/8)

“I think we have got the Boche fairly well in hand now “

A Sunningdale soldier wrote an optimistic letter home.

A letter from France to Miss Tritton.

11th July 1918

Dear Madam,

I hope you received the letter I sent you some time ago. I have been wondering if it had gone missing as so many are lost in transit. I trust this note will find you well, and I may state that I am the same, though I have been gassed some time ago, but am fairly recovered from the effects of it.

I hope you are still going strong at the Red Cross work. Needless to say that it is all very much appreciated by the boys out here in France.

I am looking forward with joy to the day when we will be home again, and I think we have got the Boche fairly well in hand now and that he will never do any more than he has already done… I would like it very much if you could send me the Banner (Parish magazine).

I am,

Yours sincerely,

W. K. Turner.

Sunningdale Parish magazine, August 1918 (D/P150B/28A/10)

Reflected glory

A Reading man was honoured for his heroic acts.

Trinity Roll of Honour

Sidney A. Bushell, R.A.F.
Walter John Harvey, A.S.C.
A. Vernon Lovegrove, R.G.A.
Ernest Pocock, 2/6 Warwicks.
Howard H. Streeter, M.G.C.
William Vincent, W.R.B.
Jack Wakefield, Royal Warwicks.
William Alfred Williams, 313th Reserve Labour Battalion.

We are delighted to hear that Lieut. John A. Brain had safely reached Reading on Tuesday, May 21st, and was being cared for, within reach of his friends, at No.1 War Hospital. After a few days his progress became less satisfactory, and on Tuesday, May 28th, his condition was again giving cause for anxiety. A further operation was found to be necessary, and we are more than glad to be able to report, at the time of going to press, was that the operation had been carried out quite successfully, and that he is now doing well.

Our heartiest congratulations to Lce-Corpl. Herbert E. Longhurst, on being awarded the Military Medal, “for his gallantry on March 25th, 1918, when be assisted to save a badly wounded officer under heavy machine gun fire and a fast advancing enemy. Later he rendered great assistance in rallying troops and stragglers, and worked hard on a trench system.”

Our quotation is taken from the white card expressing the appreciation of his Divisional Commander, which has been forwarded to his friends by the Major Commanding his Company, together with “the congratulations of all his old comrades in the company,” on his well-merited honour. We understand that Lce.-Corpl. Longhurst is in hospital somewhere in France, making a good recovery from the effects of German gas.

We trust that he may soon be fully restored to health, and can tell him that we at Trinity are taking to ourselves a little reflected glory and we are all the better and happier for it.

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

Balance sheets are delightful things now-a-days

Newbury’s clergymen were rejected for war work, while the parish magazine was at risk.

THE WAR

There are reported Missing – Alfred Dennis, William Smith, Mr Barlow, and Mr Marshall; Wounded – Ernest Giggs; Gassed – Jack Smart; Prisoners – Jack Cooke and William Selwyn. We offer our sympathy to the relatives and friends.

The clergy of the diocese have received a Form from the Bishop on which they could offer for War Service. The Rector stated on his Form that he would be prepared to go to a Church Army Hut for several months if the work of the Parish could be provided for; and he has received the following reply through the Bishop’s Secretary: “The Bishop says stay where you are”.

Mr Marle offered to go to a YMCA Hut for four months, but received the reply: “The Bishop certainly thinks that you should stay where you are”.

As with our food, our clothes, and our boots, so with our paper. We are continually being faced with a new situation. After urging our readers to continue to take in the Parish Magazine, we have received a communication from the publishers of the Dawn of Day [insert] that there is serious shortage of paper, or that there will be, asking us to cut down our number of copies. However, it appears that our circulation has been so far reduced that we shall not have to ask any of our subscribers not to subscribe; but whether we shall be able to make both ends meet at the end of the year is doubtful. Balance sheets are delightful things now-a-days.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, June 1918(D/P89/28A/13)

“Saw some poor old ladies who have been gassed with yellow X – a lamentable sight.”

Civilians were among the victims of German poison gas.

Tuesday 11 June 1918

Got up at 7.45 am. Got my kit packed by Fox [his batman]. Had breakfast, & then Jones stropped my razor & got a really good shave. After breakfast got down to Hesdin station. Train was due to leave at 10.15 so Graham & I bought biscuits, strawberries & bananas to eat if no food was available. Started at 11.45. Got to St Pol at 1.15. Lunch at the EFC canteen. Town has been fairly well shelled & bombed. Saw some poor old ladies who have been gassed with yellow X. ‘De profundis’ a lamentable sight.

7.30 pm Candas. We stay the night here at Candas as we cannot go further until tomorrow morning at 7.30. Tea at Café’ [illegible] Henly. Then kits to RTO office, a walk and dinner at same café’. Just discovered that I have left my advance pay book & my cheque book, ‘horribili dictu’, at Marronville!

After dinner I made paper frogs for French officers who thought them ‘tres gentils’. To bed at rest camp at 10 pm.

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

“The brutal diabolical Hun: may God frustrate their wicked purpose”

Civilians followed the war news closely.

Joan Daniels
May 28th Tuesday

We all went down to Caversham to see a boat race between Reading Flying School & the Henley Equipment Officers. Reading won by straights, a great triumph.

The Germans slightly advance on the Ancre. May this be their last chance & may God frustrate their wicked purpose & give peace to our beautiful country once more.

Elsie went to Hendon yesterday & saw Mrs Douglass. Eina has been gassed & was back in the hospital that the brutal diabolical Hun bombed so mercilessly for three hours last week. He (Eina) got badly wounded in the head with a piece of shell during the raid. Mr Douglass has gone over to France.

Florence Vansittart Neale
28 May 1918

Line not broken. Hard fighting but we going back slowly.

Diaries of Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1); and
Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“Master Chaffinch sings near by me despite the swish of shells through the air or craaack of shrapnel”

Sydney Spencer took comfort in nature surviving the battlefield, but the nice weather meant easy pickings for the German artillery. Meanwhile their brother Will was in touch with a former pupil in Germany.

Percy Spencer
9 May 1918

A lovely day again, worse luck. Huns shelled our boys with 8” & gas. 14 gassed.

Dr Caux had tea with us & told us pretty story of old lady who refused to leave until her children left, asked how many she had, she replied that she didn’t know, & pointing to the yard crowded with Tommies, exclaimed, “These are my children”.

Sydney Spencer
Thursday 9 May 1918

I was very cold in the night so felt rather cheap when I got up this morning. A glorious spring morning. The grass on which I lie now at 12.30 pm is sweet May scented. All around are the ubiquitous dandelions, daisies & buttercups, & here & there graceful patches of delicate green & white, made by the greater sketchwort. Master Chaffinch sings near by me despite the [illegible] and swish of shells through the air & the angry snip of 18 pounders, or craaack of shrapnel.

Now for some lunch. Saw a beautiful little ‘copper’ butterfly today. The last I saw was at dear old Thoresby Camp, Worksop, only 8 short months ago. After lunch a read or sleep & then worked out mess accounts. After tea continued on mess accounts. At 8.30 ‘stand to’. No 5 platoon dug my fire positions in new battle positions. Bed about 10 pm. Oh happy day. A long night’s sleep.

Will Spencer
9 May 1918

Was pleased to receive a long letter from Fraulein Hildegard Vogel from Cassel, telling me of her musical studies under Dr Zulauf (is now studying the Chopin Fantasia!) & enclosing a photograph of herself with her fiancé. J. thinks, from his uniform, that he is an officer in the Artillery. As the elder of her two brothers (aged 18) is in a Cadet School, & the younger, who is physically & mentally weak, is just going to a Waldpaedagogium in Berka in Thuringen, they (the mother and two daughters) are leaving Cassel next month & going to live in a smaller house in Naumburg a/d Saale, where they will be near Berka.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67); and Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX802/28)

“It was a sickly experience being gassed!”

Part of the officer training experience involved practising dealing with a gas attack.

Nov 16, 1917
My dear WF

I was lucky enough to see John on the way back from being gassed on Wednesday. It was a sickly experience being gassed!…

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to Florence Image (D/EZ177/7/6/71)