Making the best of the difficulties and privations of the times in which we live

Children in Earley would show their solidarity with the troops by doing without refreshments at the annual Sunday School summer party.

SUNDAY SCHOOLS
We hope to hold our Sunday School Summer Treat on Wednesday, July 18th. In loyal obedience to the King’s Proclamation, and in accordance with the wishes of the Food Controller, we shall not have any tea this year, but shall hope to have a jolly evening of games and sports, and we feel certain that all our young people will show the same spirit as our splendid troops and make the best of the difficulties and privations of the times in which we live.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

The House of Windsor is established

The Royal Family’s German roots were increasingly embarrassing, and in July 1917 King George V made the momentous decision to change the family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (legacy of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert) to the unmistakably English “Windsor”.

17 July 1917
Royalties take name of Windsor!!

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“If we waste bread, we are helping the Germans to win the war”

Newbury people were urged not to waste food, particularly bread.

The King has issued a Proclamation on food saving, which is being read, by Royal Command, in Church, but it would perhaps be also as well to put the case in plain language:

1. The stock of bread in the country is not sufficient.

2. The German submarines may make it still more in-sufficient.

3. Therefore we must save all the bread we can.

4. We must not catch horses with bread.

5. We must not give crusts to birds or pigs.

6. We must not throw bread into the street, canal, or dust-bin.

7. We must not cut the crusts off toast.

8. We must eat as little bread as is consistent with health.

9. If we do otherwise, we are helping the Germans to win the war.

The Soldiers’ Club is moving on June 2nd, to “the King’s Arms” in the Market Place. This Hostel must now resign itself to the provision of temperance drinks only. The ladies in charge will be glad of any help in money or kind.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

A splendid address on Duty and Patriotism that even the tiniest could understand

Empire Day was the focus for patriotic expressions in schools across the county.

Piggott Schools, Wargrave
Empire Day

The children of the Piggott Schools celebrated Empire Day (May 24th) in right loyal fashion. They assembled at the School, and with flags flying, marched down to Church where a short service was held. The Vicar gave an appropriate address. Re-assembling on the Church Green they proceeded to the Schools and took their places round the flag pole from which the Union Jack was flying. A good number of parents and friends of the children with many of the soldiers from the hospital were waiting their return. As the boys passed the soldiers they gave them a salute in recognition of what they had done for their country.

The National Anthem was sung, and the flag saluted, and Miss. E. Sinclair gave a splendid address on Duty and Patriotism in such a way that even the tiniest could understand it. Capt. Bird proposed a vote of thanks to Miss Sinclair and hearty cheers were given in which the soldiers joined. Three Patriotic and Empire Songs were sung by the children, the Vicar called for cheers for the Teachers, and Mr. Coleby announced that Mrs. Cain had most kindly provided buns and sweets for all as they left the grounds. Hearty cheers were given her for her thoughtfulness. Cheers for the King concluded the proceedings.

Alwyn Road School, Cookham
May 24th 1917

Empire Day was celebrated today. The Headmaster addressed the children assembled in the Hall, and the National Anthem was sung. The children then went to their classrooms and ordinary lessons proceeded till 11 o’clock. Each class teacher then gave a lesson on “Empire” and kindred subjects till 11.30. This was followed by a Writing Lesson when some of the important facts were taken down.

The school assembled in the Hall again at 11.55 and after a few more remarks by the Headmaster the national Anthem was again sung and the children dismissed.

Opportunity was taken of this morning’s addresses to instil into the children’s minds the necessity of economising in the use of all food stuffs, and more especially of bread and flour.

A holiday was granted in the afternoon. (more…)

Impress upon the children the urgent need for the prevention of waste in food

Schools in Newbury were struggling thanks to the war.

Thursday, May 24th, 1917

Resignation of Teachers

Mr G H Keen, an assistant master at the Council Boys’ School, had been called up for military service on May 18th, and it is recommended that his appointment be kept open for him.

The secretary was instructed to press for the release from military service of one of the Authority’s teachers who since his enlistment had been medically classified as low as C3, and in the event of this teacher being discharged from the Army to appoint him temporarily to the Council Boys’ School.

It may be mentioned that there were eight Assistant Masters in the service of the Local Education Authority before the war; but now there are only two in the whole of the Borough Schools, and one of these is filling the position temporarily….

Food Economy

A letter was received from the Board of Education calling attention to the urgent need for economy in food and especially for saving in bread, and stating that information had reached the Food Controller that there was waste among the children who brought their midday meal to school. The Sub-committee were informed that the matter had been brought to the notice of the Authority’s Head Teachers, and that they had been asked to impress upon the children the urgent need for the prevention of waste in food.

The Sub-committee were also informed that “Empire Day”, Thursday May 24th, was made the occasion in the Borough Schools for giving the children a special lesson on the subject of Food Economy, and also that copies of the recent Proclamation of the King were distributed in the schools.

The Sub-committee considered the question of providing a Public Kitchen for the use of children who bring their midday meal to school, and the secretary was instructed to ascertain the number of these children in the Borough Schools, and to submit a report on the matter to the next meeting….

Finance, School Management and General Purposes Sub-committee of the Newbury Borough Education Committee (N/AC1/2/8)

Some disabled ex-soldiers are refusing to work

Berkshire County Council found the war coming close to home when its Deputy Clerk, who had joined the army soon after the start of the war, was reported killed. Meanwhile they had begun to tackle the problem of those men who had returned home from the front with a permanent disability as a result of wounds. How might they be retrained?

DEATH OF THE DEPUTY CLERK

Resolved on the motion of the Chairman [James Herbert Benyon]: That a vote of condolence be forwarded to the widow of Lieut-Col H U H Thorne in her bereavement, and that it be accompanied by an expression of the great loss sustained by the Council in the untimely, though gallant, death in action of their Deputy Clerk.

Report of the Berkshire War Pensions Committee

The War Pensions Committee commenced their work on the 1 October, 1916.

The County, in accordance with the Scheme arranged by the County Council, has been divided into twelve Sub-committees, being, for the main part, one Sub-committee for each petty sessional division; but there have been certain adjustments, for the convenience of working, between the divisions of Wokingham and Easthampstead, while the Lambourn division has been divided between Wantage and Newbury division, with the exception of the parish of Lambourn itself, which is being worked by a Secretary and Treasurer.

Almoners have been appointed for each parish throughout the County, and the Almoners and Sub-committees respectively have had powers given them to deal with all urgent cases of wives and dependants of soldiers and sailors requesting financial assistance, each case being reported to this Committee for approval or revision as the circumstances may require.

During the six months alterations have been made in the amount of the State Separation Allowances and valuable additional powers have been given to the Pensions Committee in the way of making additional grants to meet to some extent the increase in prices, and the work has been now thoroughly organised.

Since the 1 October, 1916, up to the 30 April, 1917, the Finance and General Purposes Sub-committee have dealt with 1326 cases of Advances, Supplementary and Temporary Allowances, Temporary and Emergency Grants, etc. The payments made up to the 30 April, in respect of these Allowances and Grants, amount to a sum of £2299 2s 11d.

In addition to this the Sub-committee have dealt with 33 cases of Supplementary Pensions, which have been recommended to the War Pensions etc Statutory Committee.

The other section of the work of the committee is the very important and constantly increasing work of dealing with discharged and disabled soldiers and sailors. The principle adopted has been that so soon as the notification of the discharge of a man into the county has been received, the particulars are sent down to the Secretary of the Sub-committee in whose district the man proposes to live; enquiries are made in the district as to the man’s physical condition with a view of ascertaining whether he needs further medical treatment or training for some form of employment other than that to which he was accustomed prior to his disablement, and further inquiries to ascertain whether he needs financial assistance of either a temporary or permanent character, other than that provided by his pension, if any.

Considerable difficulty has been found in many cases where men have refused to work for fear of endangering the continuance of their pension, or because they are satisfied to remain as they are for the time being at any rate with the pension that they hold. The new Royal Warrant, however, will considerably strengthen the hands of the committee, as the Ministry of Pensions are entitled to withhold a portion of a pension if a man refuses to undertake treatment which the Pensions Committee, acting on medical advice, consider necessary for him, and the Pensions Committee will be enabled to grant a Separation Allowance for the wife and children where the man is undertaking training, and, further, to pay the man a bonus for each week of a course of training which he has competed to their satisfaction.

The provision of training is a difficult matter, as the necessary organisations are few and far between. In Berkshire the committee have three Schemes in course of formation. (more…)

The King orders food economy

The Food Economy Campaign was launched by a royal proclamation read aloud in every church in the country. Two of our diarists were present.

William Hallam
6th May 1917

Up at 8. To St. Paul’s at XI. A bright day- no rain. But a bitterly cold E. wind until the afternoon. The King’s proclamation was read out in Church before the sermon – ordering economy by everyone in the matter of food stuffs.

Florence Vansittart Neale
6 May 1917

Willy [the vicar of Bisham] read King’s Proclamation & preached on Food Economy, & again in evening.

Heard from Phyllis: she on duty straight away. Sleeping in Merton. Meals Masonic Hall!

Diaries of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25) and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

When will it end!!

Florence Vansittart Neale continued to pay close attention to news and rumours about the war.

May 1917

Hear that King George prevents us deposing Tino [King Constantine of Greece]!

Hear over 3000 Essex Yeomanry went in the battle of Gaza, to only 600 cannons!

Hear 26 ships of foodstuffs came with American destroyers.

1 May 1917

When will it end!!

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Mutiny in Russia, revolution in the East End

The worst mutiny of the Russian Revolution took place at Kronstadt in March, when two admirals were among the officers murdered. Admiral Viren was the unfortunate commander to be cut into pieces.

1917

Hear that Russian sailors killed all naval officers. Cut up an Admiral & sent pieces to each ship!!

In air raid in London hear police say children might press on the yellow from poison in shells.

They say air raids purposely go East End so as to make the people revolutionary.

Hear Stepney very revolutionary. Hate the King, say the war caused by personal quarrel between our King & Kaiser.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Cheering details from the front

An evening for soldiers’ loved ones in Stratfield Mortimer was a positive occasion.

The War Supper

We call it this for want of a better title. For the third year Mr. and Mrs. Wallis most kindly entertained the fathers and mothers and wives of all the men of the Parish now serving in H.M. Forces. The event took place at the Parish Room, on January 3rd and, happily, there was just room to get everyone in, though the numbers have increased each year.

After a splendid supper the toast of the King was proposed by Mr. Wallis together with that of his Forces, after which the Vicar proposed the toast of our host and hostess and expressed the thanks of the company for the enjoyable evening. For the entertainment that followed, Mr. Wallis’ relations from Basingstoke are responsible, and one can only say that it would be difficult to get together any company which could have given more pleasure. Want of space forbids a description of all the items which formed a programme full of attraction, and it must suffice to say that most of us are seldom privileged to hear such first-class singing as we heard that night.

During a short interval Captain Wallis, who had arrived from France that morning, gave us some cheering details about the state of things at the Front.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, February 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

Joy as Prime Minister resigns

Florence Vansittart Neale had not been a fan of PM Herbert Asquith, so she was delighted when he resigned. Conservative leader Andrew Bonar Law, who was in coalition with the Liberals in the interests of national unity during the war, let Liberal rival David Lloyd George take over.

6 December 1916
Asquith resigned! Joy!! Bonar Law sent for, he cannot do it. Lloyd George gone to King. Firmer war policy.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“There is a consolation in knowing that he did his duty fearlessly”

One man after another from Stratfield Mortimer was reported dead or missing. The toll was beginning to tell.

Garth Club

We have received with the greatest possible regret the news of the death of yet another member on the Field of Honour. When war broke out many members volunteered, and have been serving in most of the fighting zones, – in the Persian Gulf, in Egypt, at the Dardanelles, and Salonica, whilst a number have been in France in the thick of the fighting.

The first to give his life was Frank Goodchild, Pte., R.M.L.I. (enlisted 1913), who went down in the H.M.S. “Good Hope” when she was sunk in action off the Chilian Coast, November, 1914. He took a prominent part in all Club doings and entertainments, and was a general favourite – “one of the best,” and greatly missed.

Next came the sad news that Lance-Corp. Chas. Wickens, who joined on the 11th August, and was drafted to France in the 1st R. Berks the following November, was reported missing on the 15th-17th May, 1915. And it is since believed that he was amongst those killed at Festubert or Richebourg. In the long period of uncertainty the greatest sympathy has been felt with his family and his many friends. He earned his stripe very early in his training, and was a most promising young soldier.

Swiftly came the news of the death of Sidney Raggett, Pte. In the R. Montreal Regt., who also joined in August, 1914, and after three months in Canada came home to complete his training on Salisbury Plain. He went out in February, 1915, was wounded in April, but returned to his duty in May, and on the 21st was killed by a stray shot at Richebourg. His Sergeant wrote of him, “I was awfully sorry he was hit, as he was one of the best boys I had,” and Major-General Sir Sam Hughes, in a letter of condolence to his mother, says, “…there is a consolation in knowing that he did his duty fearlessly and well, and gave his life for the cause of liberty and the upbuilding of the Empire.”

Another period of anxiety has been the lot of Harry Steele’s family and of his wide circle of friends and chums. He, too, felt directly war broke out that it was his duty to join, and he and a friend enlisted in the 10th Hants, and had a long training in Ireland and England. He went in July to Gallipoli, and was in the great charge on the 20th-21st August. He was reported missing, and after many anxious months there seems a sad probability that he may have fallen in that heroic effort. But no details are as yet known. He was a regular and loyal member of the Choir and of St. Mary’s Bellringers, and will be long remembered in the village for his clever impersonation of Harry Lauder, and for his realistic acting at the Club entertainments.

Associated with him, and one of his close chums, was Pte. W. G. Neville, whose death we now mourn. He enlisted in the Hants Regt., and went out early in this year. After a long period of suspense, the War Office have now announced, with the usual message of condolence, and also one of sympathy from the King and Queen, that it is feared he was killed in the great advance on the 1st July last. He was a regular bellringer at St. Mary’s, and he also took a keen interest and a leading part in all Club affairs, and his topical songs and really clever acting were always enthusiastically received at our concerts. He, too, will be most affectionately remembered and greatly missed by his many friends.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P120/28A/14)

“His steel helmet had a hole right through it”

John Maxwell Image wrote to his old friend W F Smith with news of a former pupil, wounded for a second time.

29 Barton Road
[Cambridge]
6 Aug. ‘16

Poor, illstarred Willie Dobbs has stopped another bullet – this time, a shrapnel from one of our own guns 120 yards off – a premature burst. He wrote to me from the Hospital in France, quite in the jaunty Irish way –

“treated me very leniently”, he said, “for it hit me in the wind”. But it must have been a narrow escape, for it went right through the body, “cracking a rib, and came out through another hole on the right of my chest. This was on the 19th and the 2 holes are nearly healed and probably the rib will not take more than a month.”

Mrs Dobbs writes that his steel helmet had a hole right through it. He is now in King Edward VIIth Hospital, London, and “doing well”. Sybil Dobbs found him “looking wonderfully well and in good spirits”, but still in bed….

The King was here on Thursday, to inspect Cadets. They seem to have tried to keep in secret in Camb[ridge]. Indeed we heard of it accidentally – though notice of course had been posted in the Common Room. Madame, full of loyalty, came in early: and we sat down on chairs upon the lawn before the Library. The sky was blue, the air genially warm, the grass and trees most refreshing. The College gates were closed to outsiders – and we and a few others spent a happy half hour watching lazy, pipe-smoking cadets try to build a bridge across the Cam. The menu supposed them to be “surprised in the act” by the King. He came in a small procession of motors, and plainly enjoyed the unceremonious visit, for he staid [sic] a long time. Mumbo in Scarlet received him. And it was grand to behold the monarch subsequently shake hands warmly with our Head Porter, Coe….

I went on Friday to hear OB’s “friend”, Vinogradoff. The Russians are all put up in Nevile’s Court. I ought to go one night to dine and see them. Shall I?

We have about 650, I hear, Cadets in Trinity, candidates for Commissions – most of them have already been at the Front. A week ago we entertained some 120 of these, who had just received their Commissions, at dinner. There must have been 160 in all. I went. Joey in the chair. 2 High Tables and 3 of in the body of the Hall. One of the Cadet captains was overheard preparing his men, as they stood in New Court ready to march to Hall – “Now, boys, understand: this is a dinner – not a Blind”.

All love to you and die Madame

Yours evermore
Bild

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

A terrible blow

A family friend or relative wrote to Ralph, shocked by Lord Kitchener’s death, and the casualties at the front.

Brocket Hall
Hatfield
June 13th 1916

Dearest Ralph

I was delighted to hear from you, & I am glad now to hear from Meg that you are with her. Do take care – & get rid of that dysentery before you start off again, or you will have to come back. This weather, which is simply beastly, is rather bad for you, but I don’t doubt that they [illegible] from chills!

It was dear of you to write. I am only too glad to have been able to cheer up your beloved father & mother. They were so dear & delightful about it all, & I saw it all. By the way, I meant them to, & it makes me so happy that it has cheered them at a time which must be very trying to them. There never were two more unselfish, singleminded people, & anyone who knows them & loves them as I do, can only rejoice to be able to do anything, however small, that will make them more comfy. Uncle George was so anxious for this. How I wish we were in London, but if you do find a moment, here we are, but the weather is too bad for anyone to visit the country, unless obliged.

How dreadfully Lord Kitchener’s death must have shocked you. It is a terrible blow, & one really could not take it in at first, & it did sadden one. I am told the King feels it too dreadfully. It is a personal loss to him, as Lord K was such a help, so honest & straightforward that HM could always depend on him.

Do thank Meg for her letter this morning. What a time “Jim” must have had – & what a splendid fight it was. The Admiralty ought to be whipped for their r[o]tt[e]n report – on Friday night it was quite unpardonable. Alfric is very well & looks beautiful. My little Robbie is so jealous that he won’t let Alfric come near me if he is present, so I have to see Alfric by stealth!

Bless you. Much love to you & Meg, & pray be careful!
Yours ever

Evan

PS The Canadians have had an awful time at that horrid Ypres Salient. We have a nephew there, who writes us an account of it. He only lost 2 officers killed in his battalion, but of course had many casualties. The only thing that seems of any avail is “heavy guns”. One prays they have enough. But have they?

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/38)

The war will bring about theocracy

Lady Mary Glyn wrote a long letter to Ralph. She had strong, if eccentric, views about politics, and was almost as shocked by Australian soldiers’ democratic nature as she was by the Easter Rising.

April 26 1916
Peter[borough]

My darling own blessed Scraps

Easter Day makes me long for you, but all days make me long for you….

I distinguished myself at Windsor by getting bad with indigestion, but it was good to be with John & Maysie, & see them so happy in another Windsor spell of work, and yet being together. He heard when we were there that another operation will not be necessary, but as his Medical Board gave him 3 months they have taken a very good house, “Essex Lodge”, the present house being required by the owner, and this is a much better one with a garden & tennis ground. John is of course very busy, and up early, & at work till late. He looks well, and is in good spirits, evidently liking his work. We saw Cecily Hardy & her Giant, and Tony & Sylvia, & a new Coldstream acquisition – a very Highland McGregor who till lately was engineering in India – quite a new type in the Brigade!

The Political Crisis made those days full of excitement, but none of these soldier people seemed to care, or to look at the papers, and were sure the King would come whatever happened. And he did, but the Crisis was supposed to be over, and the Cabinet once more firmly (?) in the saddle of Compromise. Now the Secret Session, and the result whatever it may be of that settlement is to be made known to so many talkers & plotters and schemers that it will be impossible for all the cats to be in the bag long. Meantime there is a shaken confidence, a longing for a leader other than we have, for this strange growth of freedom to know its limitation, and to recognise its own dependence on laws not made by man, but inflexible because “just and true”, and belonging to the Kingdom that will endure throughout all ages. When we really will, that will come, and its obedience, and we shall learn what freedom is. It does not lie with Democracy, or in Kaiser rule, or in a Republic, but it does in a Theocracy – and my belief is that it is to be restored through this War and “tumult of the nations”….

France is surely ahead of us in the spirit of a new vision, & Russia is invincible because of that vision long accepted – and we wait for it, and you all are bringing it nearer.

(more…)