There are no greater tragedies in connection with the war than those of the brave fellows who have come back blinded from the Front

Broad Street Church put on a concert in aid of men blinded at the front.

December

CHOIR CONCERT

On Wednesday evening, December 18th, our choir will hold its twenty-second annual concert. We have been fortunate, by the kind permission of Lieut-Col P. de Dombasle, in securing the Large Town Hall. This year we propose to repeat the concert version of “Tom Jones” (by permission of Messrs Chappell & Co), which was rendered two years ago. This is the sixth concert we have given for war charities, and this year the call for the co-operation of all our friends is more urgent than ever. We propose to devote the proceeds of the concert to St Dunstan’s Hostel, London, where there are many hundreds of our soldiers who have been blinded during the war. Surely this cause is one which will appeal to the heart of everybody. This will be the happiest Christmas that many of us have known for four years; can we not try to make it brighter for those brave fellows, who, away from their own homes, will miss the usual good cheer of Christmastide?


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On behalf of our Blinded Heroes

There are no greater tragedies in connection with the war than those of the brave fellows who have come back blinded from the Front, all of them young men who have been deprived of their sight at the very outset of life. We have at St Dunstan’s Hostel, London, many hundreds of thses Blinded Soldiers.

Christmastide will soon be with us. We want to make this Xmas as bright and happy as possible for these brave men. Away from home and relatives, they will sadly miss the usual cheer and comforts. Will you please help to give them something of Xmas gladness in return for what they have so nobly done for us all?

BLINDED FOR YOU, WILL YOU NOT CARE FOR THEM?

Broad Street Congregational Church Choir
22nd Annual Concert, 6th Concert for War Charities

On Wednesday evening, December 18th, 1918, in the Large Town Hall (by kind permission of Lieut-Col P. de Dombasle)

The concert version of German’s Opera “Tom Jones” (by permission of Messrs Chappell & Co) will be rendered by the Choir

Artistes

Mrs E. C. Dracup
Miss M. Phillips
Miss M. Tyrrell
Mr Muir Millar
Mr H. J. Collier
Full Band & Chorus
Leader: Miss Lily Davis, ATCL
Conductor: Mr F. W. Harvey

Tickets: West balcony, three front rows, 3/-; three back rows, 2/4; front area, 2/4. All numbered and reserved.
Unreserved: side balconies and area. 1/3; admission 8d.
May be obtained of Messrs Barnes & Avis, members of the Choir, at at the doors.
Doors open at 7 o’clock. Commence 7.30.

January

CHOIR CONCERT

The concert given by our Church Choir in the Town Hall on Wednesday, December 18th, in aid of our blinded soldiers and sailors at St Dunstan’s, was an unqualified success in every way. As the Berkshire Chronicle said:

“It was gratifying to see such a large audience, not emrely on account of the excellence of the object, but as a recognition of the persevering efforts of the choir, which has done so much to brighten us all up during the depressing period of the war. The performance was also in every way worthy of the large gathering.”

Edward German’s “Tom Jones” was the work presented, and the various solos were most capably rendered by Mrs E. C. Dracup, Miss M. Phillips, Miss Muriel Tyrrell, Mr Muir Millar, and Mr Harry Collier. Valuable assistance was also given by Mr and Mrs G. F. Attwood, Mrs Newbery, Mr waite, and the very efficient orchestra led by Miss Lily Davies, ATCL.

“The choir work maintained a high standard, the chorus singing with fine intelligence and unfailing vivacity; the tone was good and nicely contrasted and the balance well preserved. The work of the orchestra did justice to the inherent beauties of the score.”

We all felt tremendously proud of our choir, and we offer our heartiest congratulations to the conductor (Mr F. W. Harvey) on the accomplishment of another triumph. When the accounts are made up there ought to be a considerable sum for the very worthy object for which the concert was promoted to help.

February

By their concert given in the Town Hall on December 18th, the Church Choir raised the sum of £52 for the blinded soldiers and sailors at St Dunstan’s. This is a highly satisfactory result. Altogether, during the period of the war, the choir has raised in this way over £240 for War Charities. This is a record of which any choir might justly feel proud, and we offer our heartiest congratulations to the conductor, Mr F. W. Harvey, and all who were associated with it.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1918 -February 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

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Free to leave internment

The Cusden brothers from Reading had spent the entire war cooped up in a German internment camp. Now they were free. Albert was interested in the revolutionary movement and headed for a day in Berlin; back home he would become a member of the Labour Party, and 30 years later his wife Phoebe, as mayor of Reading, would welcome German children from war torn Dusseldorf to the town.

Spandau-Ruhleben 21 November 1918

Der hier internierte
A. E. Cusden & R. G. Arthur
Ist heute aus dem Englanderlager Ruhleben nach Berlin von neun bis sechs Uhr nachmittags beurlaubt worden.

Der Kommandant [signature]
Feldwebelleutnant

Der Soldatenrat

Pass for Albert and a friend to leave the camp at Ruhleben (D/EX1485/4/6)

Rumours of revolution in Germany

As the German state imploded at the end of the war, some Communists inspired by the Russian Revolution attempted to repeat it in Germany.

6 November 1918

Hear rumours of revolution in Germany.


Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

“Of course no English branch of the business can be carried on now War exists”

A suspicious letter from a former business contact in Germany led the authorities to take a look at an internee in Reading. His business used Yorkshire wool to make hair for dolls in toymaking centre Sonnenberg.

Re letter of G Stichl March 18th 1918
Attention should be drawn to this letter from the Mrs D to whom he refers and to say who he is and how he knows her.
J F W 20/3

Papers returned with many thanks. Doms’ connection with Wm Guy & Sons is on record here, but it is not known that the latter firm acquired Stichl’s business or that the branch at Fonneberg had not been interfered with by the Germans; letter posted.

22 March 1918
G Stichl and Mr Doms
20.8.15 S of S Order, Defence of the Realm Regn, Internment

Stichl states:

He had a wool and dolls hair business in Bradford and at Sonneberg (near Coburg). About 1890 he advertised in Yorkshire for a correspondent – received a reply from Mr Doms, who was correspondent in spinning machine maker’s office, Messrs Wild & Co, Leicester. Engaged him and found him useful – a German speaking perfect English and other languages. Was trained by Stichl at Bradford from about 1890-1896 and then became Stichl’s managing clerk at Sonneberg – used to come to Bradford to see Stichl, and Stichl visited him frequently to examine books &c.

Mrs Doms. Cannot remember her maiden name – was a German woman who was his book keeper at Sonneberg. She married the managing clerk Doms. Does not know that she was ever in England. Cannot speak English. Frequently saw her.

About 6 or 8 years ago the business both at home & abroad was disposed of by Stichl to Mr Guy, under the name of Guy & Sons, Doms and Mrs Doms remaining as before, but Mr Doms severed term… [too faint to read].. to see Mr Guy.

States that Mr Guy still has the business and that from letter he has received from Mrs Doms, business is still carried on successfully and has not been interfered with by the Germans – but of course no English branch of the business can be carried on now War exists.

Mr Doms joined the German Army and he now learns from Mrs Doms has been made prisoner by the British Army.

C M Morgan
Governor
[to] The Commissioners

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

“Camp life makes them familiar”

Thousands of civilians from interned countries were housed at a camp at Holzminden in Germany throughout the war. Ernest Delfosse, a 32 year old motor mechanic from Belgium, 5 foot 6 ½ inches, with brown hair, was among the inmates there, until he escaped to England with the help of his sweetheart. Sadly, this did not mean freedom, as he was arrested on arrival as a suspected spy. He was transferred to Reading from Brixton Prison on 5 February 1917. He was classified as a Friendly Alien but stayed at Reading and was eventually deported in 1919.

HM Place of Internment
Reading

6th March 1918

Sir

With reference to your letter … dated 5th March 18 on the subject of correspondence between the interned alien E. Delfosse and Mrs E Owen, 54 New Compton St, London EC.

The first letter received from Mrs Owen by Delfosse was dated 22.12.17. This was sent to the Commissioners and I drew special attention to it, giving such information as I was able. It was passed.

Prisoner replied on Jany 5th 1918 – submitted & passed. A second letter was received on 12th January 1918 – submitted and passed. Both these letters are attached to this [though not to the letter book copy]. Please send them back as prisoner does not know they have been forwarded to the Home Office.

Prisoner’s reply to the last letter is the subject of the Home Office letter.

The history of the prisoner’s acquaintance with this woman appears to be:

He was interned at Holzminden, a camp of about 24,000. Men and women were allowed to mix for the purpose of visiting restaurants and cinemas in the grounds. He struck up friendship with this woman – also interned – [he] believes for trafficking in letters – but not sure. The majority of the women were interned for that reason. She stated she was a Russian. (I cross-examined Delfosse, who admitted that she might be a German Pole). He cannot (or will not) remember her name – always called her by her Christian name of Emmy. Camp life makes them familiar. She could speak no English and but little French – he could not speak Russian. Conversation carried on in German, in which both were fluent. Does not know if she was then married – thinks not – her maiden name could be obtained from his note book, black, 9” x 4” (about), taken from him by police at Gravesend 20th Oct 1916 (plain clothes man).

On 7th Oct: 1916 Delfosse escaped from Holzminden, “Emmy” keeping the sentry in conversation while Delfosse got away.

Heard nothing more of her until the letter dated 22.12.17. Does not know how she escaped.

Learns she is married to a Canadian officer. Does not know him. She wants to come & see him. Would like to see her.

I think that is all the information I have obtained.

I am Sir
Your obedient servant

C M Morgan
Governor

[To]
The Under Secretary of State
Home Office
Whitehall


Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Promise of such a splendid leader

A young man with a bright future was the latest to fall at the Front.

Walford Vernon Knowles

By the death of Walford Knowles on the last day of the old year, yet another name is added to the Roll of boys from Trinity who have laid down their lives in defence of home and country and of human liberty, whose names will live while Trinity stands.

In a letter dated the 6th of January, 1918, Capt. H. A. Curtis writes:

“It is with deep regret that I have to write and inform you of the death of your son. It happened at about 6.15 on the morning of December 31st. We were ‘standing to’ at the time, and the enemy put down a heavy barrage on to the position we were holding. As is usual, all Officers were on duty at the time, and it appears that a heavy shell fell within a yard or so of your son, killing him instantaneously. I am more than sorry to have lost him, as during the short time he was with us he had become very popular amongst his brother Officers, N.C.O’s. and the men, and we all miss him dearly. It seems all the more sad owing to the fact that this was his first tour of trench duty, and he gave promise of such a splendid leader.”

The elder son of our friends, Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Knowles, he was born in January, 1898 and educated at Reading School, into which he took an open Scholarship in 1909, one of the first Scholarships offered by the Reading Town Council. In 1916 he passed the Higher Certificate Examination with distinction in French and German. During his last year at school he won the Laud Scholarship (the blue ribbon of Reading School). Also an exhibition at Worcester College, Oxford, and was further awarded the Ewelme Exhibition at New College, Oxford.

It was not only in his studies that he did well, but in every side of School life he made his mark, becoming a member of the Rugby Football and cricket teams, a sergeant in the Officers’ Training Corps, and finally Captain of the School. Of those who have in recent years held this coveted position he is the third to make the supreme sacrifice during the war, the other two being Marsden Cooper (another Trinity boy) and D.J. Davies.

“As head of the school,” says Mr. Keeton, the Headmaster, “he was extremely conscientious and energetic, and in all departments showed the same qualities and zest and keenness and the desire to do his very best. He won the esteem and affection of all, both masters and boys.”

On reaching military age he carried the same characteristics into the sterner school of war, passing with credit through his cadetship at Gales and afterwards Portsmouth. He went out to France early in October as a Second Lieutenant in the County Regiment and in his all-too-brief period of service had already won the affection and esteem of his comrades and superior officers.

Walford Knowles was in the fullest sense of the words a child of Trinity. There he was baptized, and there he attended during the whole of his life. For several years a loyal member of the Institute, he joined this Church and was received into its fellowship on his confession of faith on September 13th, 1914. During the early winters of the war, and especially during last autumn, before leaving for France, he showed a very keen interest in the Trinity Soldiers’ Club, where his presence and companionship was always appreciated by the men.

The sad news of his death reached us a few minutes before the January Church Meeting, and a resolution of deepest sympathy with his parents and family was passed with the heartfelt consent of all present. In moving that this message be sent, the pastor spoke of the very fine qualities both in mind and heart which had endeared Walford to so a wide circle of friends, and caused them to entertain high expectations for him of a successful career at the University and after that of a life of fruitful service. He referred to his own close and intimate friendship with him, and the great opinion he had formed both of his character and abilities. Undoubtedly there were in him the making of a genuine scholar, a sincere and able thinker, a trusty friend, and a particularly fine type of Christian citizen.

We are sure that the sympathy of Trinity folk as a whole goes out to Mr. and Mrs. Knowles, and their family in this sorrow, and the prayer of us all is that they may be greatly comforted.

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

Sad but interesting: blinded by the war

Florence Vansittart Neale visited St Dunstann’s Hospital, where blinded soldiers were being rehabilitated.

14 March 1916

Fighting at Verdun begun again. French seem confident. Went to see Helen, stayed about 1 ½ hours. C is back from German lesson, trying for PO censorship. Evelyn [possibly Evelyn Dickinson, wife of Henry Vansittart Neale’s nephew] & I to St Dunstan’s to see blind men’s work. Very sad, but interesting.

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

The hell of a job: British intelligence

An Intelligence officer friend of Ralph Glyn wrote to him with another glimpse into the newly reorganised forerunner of MI6.

MI2c
22.ii.16
My dear Glyn

Thank you for yours of the 15th inst. yes, I alone survive of the old MO2c push. Con is back from GHQ in command of MI2c & the staff has been increased to 5 & possibly 6. I have forsaken the Hun for the Austro-Hun: Austria having been combined with Germany at last in this section (I can’t think why it was not done before). Cox has handed Austria over to me wholesale: it is a hopeless task taking over from old Perry. No handbook since 1909 in spite of the 1912 reorganisation. I hope to get out a booklet on the Infantry by end of March, showing present distribution. The whole army works by Battalions in the most complex way & it is the hell of a job.
Meantime we shall send you once a month a distribution & assumed composition of Austro German forces in the various theatres, which should keep you fairly up to date.

At end of March a new edition of “German Army in the field” will also be published, copies of which will be sent to you.

WO news is very prolific in that a complete reorganisation on very (apparently) sound lines has taken place. A tendency however is showing itself to devote too much attention in the highest quarters to masses of detail which really only concern the subsections or the forces in the field, & thereby to neglect the larger issues. I speak however only of the MI Directorate & it is only a personal opinion so “tell it not in Gath & publish it not in Askalon” [a Biblical quotation].

Wigram, having gone with the DMO to Russia, has returned with ‘Stanislavs’ upon his breast; he returns next week to Petrograd & is having the hell of a time. Buckley remains MI1 (Col) but his activities are narrowly restricted to ‘Intelligence’. Between you & me, he seems to have fallen slightly into the background; after so long a sojourn in the limelight it must be very galling to him & I feel very sorry indeed about it.

Look me up next time you’re back in England & we will dine together & prattle of affairs in general.

Goodbye & good luck to you.

Yours ever
G M B Ingram

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/8)

‘Low and unmanly’ attacks by Zeppelins

Sydney Spencer shares his views on aerial warfare, which had just begun to affect England.

20 January 1915

Yesterday night while dark hid them, Zeppelins came to England’s shores and dropped bombs on Yarmouth & Sheringham. It is believed that three people were killed, and a good deal of damage was done to property in the way of broken windows & smashed roofs. What mean warfare this does seem to be. So low & unmanly it seems to attack places which are unprotected, such as Yarmouth. Of course England has gone in for aircraft raids but has only done damage to Zeppelin sheds so far as the papers go.

I had a long conversation [at Pusey House] with a man who was solemnly writing a diary of his adventures at the war. I carefully refrained from mentioning wounds as I expected he might have been asked the same thing a hundred times over. There were three Germans there too, who were very merry and bright & were very happy having a lady talk German with them.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EX801/14)