“Something attempted, and something done”: a bombing raid on a German Aerodrome

Here we get a rare first person account of an air raid over the German army.

The Vicar has received from one of our Cranbourne Airmen the following account of a bombing raid on a German Aerodrome. The fear of the Censor prevents us mentioning the name of the writer, but it will not be difficult to guess who is the writer. It only seems a few weeks ago since he was a boy in our Schools and singing in our Choir. We are sure Mr. Aldworth will be proud that one of his pupils can write so well and graphically. The following is the account:

“A slight mist hung over the Aerodrome as the bombing machines were wheeled from the hangers. One by one their engines were started up for nothing is left to chance on these strafing expeditions. Meanwhile myself and fellow airmen had been summoned to a little office to learn the whereabouts of our objective. After a few minutes consultation and map reading we made our way to the machines, which looked spick and span, ready for the coming strafe. In a short space of time all was ready and one by one the machines left the ground. Steadily the indicator of the alti-meter was registering, and I knew my machine was climbing well, and it grew colder and colder, although we were wrapped up well. Looking ahead I found the formation of which I was at the rear, in perfect order.

Suddenly a sharp crack under the tail of my machine told me that anti-aircraft gunners had spotted us and that we were over hostile country. A quick glance at my map to pick up my bearings and then one seems to possess the eyes of a hawk. All at once a signal was made by the squadron leader denoting that we were nearing the objective. The air by this time is thick with shrapnel bursts, and looking through the trap door perceived the hangars of the night raiders. A few seconds to take line of sight and then a quick pull at the bomb-wires. Suddenly a streak of light flashes by and looking round I espy a German machine coming full tilt with its pilot firing rapidly. Like a flash I swung my guns at the oncoming Hun, who finding it getting too warm thought discretion the better part of valour and made off. During this little scrap my pilot had got the nose of the machine well down for home where we arrived in a short space of time. I made my report of ‘something attempted, and something done’, had earned a night’s repose.”

We are glad to hear that Pte. H.W. Edmonds is progressing favourably.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, April 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/4)

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“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)

Till we meet again

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING

Private Charles Holloway has long been reported missing, and the War Office has now sent an intimation that he must be “assumed killed in action.” Our deep sympathy is with his widow, and his parents, who have now lost three sons in this war.

Lance-Corporal Leonard Cox has been wounded and is now in hospital in England and is progressing favourably.

We were glad to welcome home on leave this month Privates Broadbent, F. Johnson, and J. Sumner.

The Vicar has received the sum of £1 from sale of waste paper collected in the parish, and this money has been devoted to providing comforts for our two prisoners of war in Germany, Privates W. Harwood and F. Onion.

We hope to send to all our men who are serving an Easter card of greeting with the message “May the Risen Christ, who left His home for us, have you in His keeping till we meet again”; and the assurance that we shall be remembering them at our Easter Communion.

Winkfield section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, March 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/3)

“A renewal of the war when the Teuton wolf has once licked his sores dry”

John Maxwell Image foresaw something like the third Reich.

29 Barton Road
4 March ‘18

Most VDOM

When I study the words and actions of England’s public men, “Can I discern between good and evil?” I begin to truly doubt: Will these suffer the Allies to defeat and CONQUER Germany? We boast of keeping them off Paris. But Germany today is a Continent within the Continent. She and her vassal states stretch in unbroken line from the North Sea to Mesopotamia and over a third of Russia.

If America “stick it”, this “Continent” may be broken up. Yet even America professes unwillingness to interfere with a nation’s right to choose its government – which means a renewal of the war when the Teuton wolf has once licked his sores dry.

Our love to you both
Bild

Letters from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

The pinch will come after the war

The Spencer paterfamilias in Cookham was optimistic, while Florence Vansittart Neale despaired at the situation in Russia.

Will Spencer
23 February 1918

By this morning’s post we received a cheerful letter from Father… Sydney has taken his BA at Oxford. Has received splendid reports from his commanding officers. Was just getting into train at Paddington to come down to Cookham on a Saturday afternoon when he saw Percy on the next platform, whom he hadn’t seen for 2 years. He quickly fetched his luggage out, & stayed the night with Percy, who had just come up from Swindon for a few days, on business.

I was glad to learn from Father that they suffer no privation. The pinch will come after the war, he says, but what can be is being done to provide against that.

Florence Vansittart Neale
23 February 1918

Russians utter degradation, under the heel of Germany.

Diaries of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/28); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

On leave just before going to the Front, though well over military age

Winkfield men continued to serve – even the more mature who were not liable for conscription.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING.

We much regret to report the death of Private William Tomlinson who died from wounds received in action, and we tender our deep sympathy to his relatives in Winkfield.

We are sorry to have to report that Privates W. Harwood and F. Onion are prisoners of war in Germany.

We are glad to welcome home on leave this month Private J. Winnen, M.M., Lance Corporal F. Beal, Private A. Beal, and Private E. Nicholas. The latter, though well over military age, was on leave just before going to the Front.

We have recived a large number of letters of thanks from our men for their Christmas parcels. All were pleased that they had not been forgotten by friends at home.

On January 6th, the Day of National Prayer, the congregations were good. The offertories, amounting to £10, were given to the Red Cross Prisoners of War Fund.


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

A German recruit

Johanna Spencer’s German nephew had been called up, and would be fighting on the opposite side to her husband’s British brothers. He would be training at Kulmsee (now Chelmza), which was in Pomerania, a detached part of Prussia which was to be incorporated into Poland after the war.

11 February 1918

J. read to me letter from Agnes. Kurt has been examined. Will probably receive his officer’s training in the neighbourhood of Kulmsee.

Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/28)

Ordered to be deported to Russia

Nicholas de Tcheriadieff, alias Max Priatel, was a theatre manager born in Dresden in Germany of Russian parentage, aged 39. He was sent to Reading from Manchester Prison on 8 November 1917, aged 39, ordered to be deported, and sent on to Newcastle Prison for that purpose on 15 December.

Prison Commission
Home Office
Whitehall SW1

11th February 1918

[To] The Governor
Reading Prison

With reference to the warrant issued today for the transfer of the Alien Nicholas de Tscherriadeiff [sic] to Newcastle Prison for the purpose of Deportation, please note that he should arrive there in good time before the 17th instant.

The man should be informed by you that (1) it is intended to send him to Russia within the next few days and he can be allowed a visit from any relative if he wishes and (2) if he wants to get any warm clothes for the voyage, which is desirable – or money etc, he should take immediate steps to have them sent either to your Prison before the date on which he is to be transferred or after that date to Newcastle Prison.

J F Wall
Secretary

Noted and prisoner duly informed. He is provided with clothing and money, and the transfer was carried out today.
C M Morgan
Governor
15-2-18

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

“We had just got back from a very rough time up the line, and a cake comes in very nice after one has been on biscuit and bully beef for some time.”

Christmas cake was much appreciated behind the front line.

The Vicar has received many letters from our men who are fighting for us or are in training. They all ask for their thanks to be conveyed to all their Cranbourne friends who joined in sending them the cake and Christmas card.

The following extracts from some of the letters may be of interest.

“Please convey my best thanks to my Cranbourne friends for their kindness in sending me the cake and Christmas card. I am sure the gift will be fully appreciated by all to whom it was sent.”

I appreciated the cake very much for it brought with it memories of the dear old village, where we all hope, if it is God’s will, to meet again and enjoy the benefits of an honourable and lasting peace. I offer to Cranbourne friends many thanks.”

“It is quite a treat to get something to remind one of Blighty.”

“It is nice to feel that one is not forgotten”

“The cake arrived in good condition and was quite a treat, for we don’t get many of those nowadays. It makes it seem like home to have one.”

“The cake was all the more welcome as it was so unexpected and came at a time when we had just got back from a very rough time up the line, and a cake comes in very nice after one has been on biscuit and bully beef for some time.”

We are sorry to hear that Rifleman Ernest Jones is ill in Hospital in Egypt and that Private Alfred Jones is a prisoner in Germany.

News has come that Private W.W. Goodchild previously reported missing is now “assumed killed in action” on the 28th of April, 1917. Our deep sympathy is with Mr. and Mrs. Goodchild in their sorrow.


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

Our economic policy has borne the heat & burden of 3 years strain

The thoughtful members of the Dodeka Bok Club in Reading discussed the possible post-war economy.

The 289th meeting of the club was held on Feb 2. 18 at Cresswell’s…
Cresswell then introduced as a topic for discussion, “Our prewar and postwar fiscal policy”, & in the course of his remarks asked – Does our prewar policy stand condemned? & stated that our general policy, although with defects, had borne the heat & burden of 3 years strain – not only in keeping our industries going, but making large advances to our allies, & London continued to remain the centre of the world’s finance, whilst other countries had had to alter or reverse their pre-war methods, & that our present difficulties were the direct result of war conditions, & would continue more or less acute until the war was over.

Our efforts should therefore be directed to finding out our defects & remedying such as far as possible.

He held the opinion also that as an island country we could not owing to climatic reasons become self-contained or produce all raw material necessary – nor did he agree with the idea of an economic boycott of Germany after the war, even if possible. Especially as each nation has, can & will continue to specialise in its own way & power.

It might be necessary to protect certain industries after the war from unfair competition, but not to the extent that some manufacturers have now, in order that the public should be exploited as they are today.

He confessed to the idea of a “League of Nations” appealing to him very strongly – but this to be effective should include all nations, & thought that such a League the best means to avoid an economic war in the near future. On the whole a too hasty reversal of our pre-war policy would appear to be unnecessary & unwise, & the superplan, he considered, would be to continue as we were in our general policy with an open mind & details could be adjusted from time to time as reason & need arose. A spirited & animated discussion followed.

Dodeka Book Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)

Our old German trade is going to Japan

Japan was an ally of the British during the First World War, and enjoyed an economic boom as a result.

William Hallam
1st February 1918

Down town to-night in the Woolworth Bazaar I bought two lead pencils, 1d, made in Japan. This made me think where our old German trade is going.

Florence Vansittart Neale
1 February 1918

Bad raid in Paris – several killed.

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

Time is on our side for a chance of lasting peace and assured freedom

Bad news for Caversham people was countered by hopes that the end was in sight.

“THE END IS NOT YET”

The Archbishop of York, in his new year’s letter to his Diocese after reviewing the military and economic situation to-day, says that all shows as clearly as ever that time is on our side. Therefore it is a question of steadfast endurance. Accordingly, the enemy is busy everywhere encouraging the belief that the time has come to negotiate for peace. For he knows that an inconclusive peace would leave his military system and prestige able to hold up its head and prepare for another day. Let us not fall into his trap. We want a peace that will endure.

But, continues the archbishop, I still believe what I said last year that “to negotiate about peace when the ‘will to war’ (the Prussian Spirit) is still able to vaunt its strength, would only be to give it time to renew its power and prolong its menace”….

If we are hereafter to say of war “never again” I cannot tell how I would shrink from this conclusion when I think of the sorrows and sacrifices, many of which I cannot share, which it involves. But we seem to be drawn to it by all that we owe to the memories of the past and the hopes of the future. These, then, seem to be the alternatives between which 1918 must decide – either faltering of spirit with its attendant divisions and recriminations, and as a result some kind of inconclusive peace, or firmness of spirit with its attendant unity and trust. And as its ultimate result, a decision which will give the world a chance of lasting peace and assured freedom.

REV.T. BRANCKER

It is with very much regret that we announce that Mr. Brancker has been invalided home, and will probably have to resign his Chaplaincy. On leaving here he was at first appointed a chaplain to a Military Hospital at Sheffield. After some months there he was sent to France, but he had not been abroad more than a few weeks when an attack of his old enemy gastritis caused him to be sent back home to a hospital in England, but this time as a patient. He is now undergoing treatment at his home, but it will be some months at least before he is able once more to undertake ordinary Parish work. We all extend to him our sincerest sympathy and wish him a speedy and complete recovery.

Parish Church (St. Peter’s)
Notes

The war continues to take its dreadful toll of human lives, and among them is that of L./Cpl. A.G.W. Gibbons (Artists’ Rifles), of 33, South View Avenue, on July 16th. The only son of one of our most devoted Church Families, a server and Sunday School Teacher; he gave high promise of future usefulness. And therefore, there is more than ordinary sorrow at his death, and more than ordinary sympathy with his bereaved parents. – R.I.P.

Caversham parish magazine, January 1918 (D/P162/28A/7)

“Oceans of blood and billions of money squandered – and for nothing”

John Maxwell Image was outraged by the latest American peace proposals, as well as strikers in vital munitions factories. He would of course be proved right that a second war would follow 20 years later, though not about the cause.

29 Barton Road
15 January ‘18
My very dear old man

Do you see soldiers and men-of-war’s men in any numbers? I frequently wonder how appalling the dullness here will seem when the longed-for Peace removes our military element…

And about those gunshies [sic] in munition-works who have the daring rascality to threaten “down tools” and hang the war, should an attempt be made to comb them out. Surely the Defence of the Realm Act empowers the placing them under military law? Or will this, like evry other step of government, be taken just too late?

I was shocked by Wilson’s language. It used to be “no terms with the Hohenzollerns”. That we all understood and felt it to brace us up. But today an absolute disclaimer of any wish to interfere with the internal arrangements of Germany and its vassals. The military autocracy to be left in full possession (for how can it be deposed while it has the Army?) – and 20 years hence a fresh war upon a purblind and probably divided Europe. Oceans of blood and billions of money squandered – and for nothing…

Ever yours
Bild

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

Our war aims

Lloyd George’s statement of British War Aims, issued in January 1918 following consultation with his political rivals at home, denied any wish to destroy Germany as a nation.

5 January 1918
Lloyd George speech – calm – on war aims. Germany bitter about it.

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

“While interned here he expressed the strongest pro-German sentiments”

Louis Claas, aged 21 when interned in 1916, was a motor mechanic born in Birmingham of foreign extraction. He said he was a Wesleyan Methodist. He escaped from Reading on 3 November 1917 – but now he was back.

24 Dec 1917

Louis Claas
26.8.16 S of S Order, Defence of the Realm Regulation, Internment

The above named man who escaped from here last November and who while interned here expressed the strongest pro-German sentiments, called at the Prison yesterday wearing the uniform of a Private in the British Army and stated that he had been enlisted into the 30th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment, stationed at Reading. He came nominally to enquire about some property – but probably in hopes of seeing other men.

He was not admitted to the Prison.

C M Morgan
[To] The Commissioner

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