“The war is likely to be the most striking event of the 20th century”

Newbury Museum planned to remember the war and its impact.

Museum and Free Library Committee
Monday, January 19th, 1919


The Hon. Curator laid before the Committee the following report for the past quarter:

Borough of Newbury Museum

Typical Collection.

The war is likely to be the most striking event of the 20th century, and we shall probably not be wrong in devoting the 1 foot 6 inches of wall space allotted to the century almost, if not entirely, to war exhibits. In the table-case there should be nine small but choice objects illustrating the following regions: Britain; North Europe; the campaign in the Murmansk Region; Central Europe; Germany or Austria; Italy; The Balkan Peninsula; Gallipoli; Serbia or Salonika; Egypt; Western Asia; Palestine or Mesopotamia; India; Japan. These objects must be small, as the space at our disposal is very limited, but should be choice. An instructional sectional Mill’s No 5 hand-grenade, an iron cross, and a Turkish cannon-ball, and such-like objects, would be most suitable. Besides these we might exhibit a German shrapnel-helmet, a British gas mask, and a French 75 mm shell-case.

Local Collections

These might be placed in a special case to illustrate the effect of the war on Newbury, and the share in it taken by the Borough and neighbourhood. It would be interesting to collect a complete series of posters, circulars and notices issued by the Police, the County Council, the Borough Council, and the Rural District Council, and by officials and committees acting under their authority; also a complete set of the issue of the “Newbury Weekly News” from the declaration of war to the conclusion of the peace celebrations. These cannot be displayed upon the walls of the Museum owing to lack of space, and the Museum possesses no accommodation for storing them in such a way as to be accessible to students. Perhaps this part of the record could be undertaken by the Free Library.

The special Museum case might, however, contain: Badges of officers and men of the Berkshire regiments; badges and insignia of Newbury Special Constables; badges and arms of the Newbury Volunteers; shell-cases made by Newbury munition firms. These seem to be all that we shall find room for, and ought to be sufficient to show posterity how the war affected Newbury and its neighbourhood.

War Collection – the following special report by the Hon. Curator on a war collection was held before the Committee.:-

Report on War Collections

Now that hostilities have ceased, it is time that the Committee decided what steps should be taken by the Museum to put on record the chief features of the war. In considering this question it will be well to give the matter careful thought, and to make sure that it is approached with due regard to proportion. On the one hand we must avoid concluding that, as the war is an affair of yesterday, it should not be represented in our Historical Collections, still more is it well to remember that, though at the present moment it seems to overshadow in importance all other events, yet it must not occupy an undue amount of space in our cases, but must take its place with other events of a perhaps less dramatic nature. There are two ways in which the war may be considered part of the Museum: one as part of the general history of the Old World, as exhibited on our typical collection; and the other as part of the history of Newbury, as exemplified by our Local Collections.

The Hon. Curator’s report was adopted and efforts were to be made to secure suitable exhibits.


Newbury Borough Council minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

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Good news

Happy news for Christmas.

It is good news to know that Mrs. Baigent has heard from her son, who was a prisoner of war in Germany.

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

A foretaste of the judgment of Christ falling upon a nation which would have none of Him

Celebrations at Ascot were not dimmed by the failure of the electric supply in the middle of the service.

Advent, 1918

My dear friends,

It is with the most profound relief that I am able this year to address to you the Advent letter with the good hope of restored peace. We must feel that Advent has taken on a new meaning for us. It has been in a very real sense that Christ has come to the world. We make a mistake if we relegate the word Advent to His Final Coming. We have watched amazed these last few months a foretaste of the judgment of Christ falling upon a nation which would have none of Him. Whatever causes writers of History may attribute to the dramatic collapse of our enemies, those of us who believe in the immediate Rule of Christ over the world he won for Himself will see in that collapse His judgment at work. It was in truth an Advent, a foretaste of what the Final Advent must mean.

But the Advent of Jesus is not just to destroy, it is to build anew. There lies before us a period of intense activity where without His Guidance our efforts can so easily go in the wrong channels. I say with the utmost deep conviction that man unaided is not sufficient for this opportunity. We must aid our statesmen by our prayers. Here at All Souls’ we shall begin Advent with the daily Eucharist restored to the Parish.

Our thanksgiving services were marked by a real heartfelt thankfulness on the part of our people. Both morning and evening we paid our debt of honour to all who have served their country on active service, and pleaded for the peace and joy of those who had shown the greatest love which man can show. In the morning the congregation with choir and wardens made a pilgrimage to the Shrine, and in the evening to the Rolls of Honour in the Church. In both cases the simple act of respect and honour proved deeply affecting and impressive. It was greatly appreciated by those who have beloved names on our rolls.

An upsetting incident occurred in the failure in the morning of the electric current which put the organ out of commission in the midst of a hymn. The choir, however, rose well to the occasion, and went on as steady as rocks supported by the congregation who sang with a heartiness we have never heard before. Fortunately, our practice piano was standing in the church, and Mr Fowles was able to keep the choir well supported till the current was restored. It was nevertheless a great day and one which no one will ever forget. The Church had touched the need of the people.

A generous benefaction of £100 has been given to the Parish by Mr F A Keating in memory of his son.

The victory was marked by the gift of a large St George’s Cross Banner to the Church by Lady Radnor. It waved bravely over the Church on Thanksgiving Day. It will enable us to express ourselves on great occasions in the future. It is a great addition to the Tower, and helped to hide its unfinished appearance.


South Ascot Parochial Magazine, 1918 (D/P186/28A/18)

PEACE! What a blessed word!

The Broad Street Brotherhood rejoiced at the end of the war.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

PEACE! What a blessed word! How often we have sung “In God’s good time there will be peace”.

And now after four years of awful slaughter, turmoil and anxiety, there is at hand that righteous and lasting peace for which we have so fervently prayed.

It is a time for great joy. Praise and prayer. But let us remember with proud and loving thankfulness those who have won us this great blessing by the sacrifice of all they had. God give us a real peace, peace amongst the nations, and peace at home.

Our heartiest congratulations are extended to our secretary, Brother A S Hampton, on being presented with the coveted Red Triangle by Princess Marie Louise, for his untiring zeal in connection with the YMCA.

We are sorry to learn that our Brother C. Saxby, well-known to the choir members, is still a prisoner of war in Germany, but we are hoping by the time these notes are out, that he will have been released.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1918

The agony and sorrow and sacrifice through which we have passed

The Rector of Remenham had strong views about our defeated enemy, and about domestic politics.

Rector’s letter

Since I wrote last month events connected with the War have moved with startling, dramatic rapidity. Bulgaria, Turkey, Austria, had collapsed, and then on November 11 Germany, the last of our enemies and the worst, whose conduct has been stained with iniquity and brutality and loathsome disregard of the obligations of honourable warfare, was overwhelmed. And now hostilities have ceased, and we breathe freely once again. We trust that, when the actual terms of Peace are settled, the wrongdoers will be adequately and justly punished; and that the foundations of righteousness may be firmly laid among the nations of Europe. On Sunday November 17, we held our Thanksgiving Services to acknowledge the good hand of God upon us, and, while our hearts were lifted up to him in profound gratitude, the agony and sorrow and sacrifice through which we have passed solemnised and, I believe, hallowed our worship.

The country on December 14 will be faced with the responsibility of a general election, and for the first time women will have the parliamentary vote. Let us pray that they may exercise it wisely, and I believe they will. The present Coalition Government, composed of Unionists and Liberals, will appeal to the nation for a fresh mandate to empower them if returned to office, to negotiate the terms of Peace, and, after Peace, to grapple with the grave problems of reconstruction that await solution. Old party divisions will for this election be put aside, and the Government will ask the country to support the united Coalition. The forces opposed to them, as far as I can judge, will be independent Labour and Socialism, and as their interests are confessedly sectional, they are not likely to safeguard the well-being of the nation, at this critical juncture.


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

A prisoner in Germany since last March

Dec 9

Visit of Nathaniel Browning – an old boy who has been a prisoner in Germany since last March and arrived in England yesterday.

St Mary’s CE School, Speenhamland (C/EL119/3)

“We shudder to think how thin seemed the partition between us and destruction!”

Maidenhead Congregational Church rejoiced.

PEACE!

The war is over! How difficult it was to believe at first! We could only slowly get our eyes accustomed to the sudden light. It seemed like passing out of a dark prison into the light of freedom again. Timidity was changed into a feeling of triumph. We can scarcely recognise the altered world, the change has been so sudden and startling. Everything seems new. The glow of victory and expectation is everywhere. As the enemy’s records slowly come to light, it is ever more plain how deliberate and wanton was Germany’s onslaught upon a world at peace, how deep her plots to get the nations under her heel, how tremendous her preparations, yes, and how nearly she succeeded! And now her huge strength has been destroyed. We open our daily newspapers now without a tremor. Nothing in the Peace celebrations seems more wonderful than the restraint and dignified calm of the people as a whole. There was no “mafficking” in the streets, there was no bombast anywhere. Perhaps it was because we had all suffered too deeply. Exultation of course there was, and it was abundantly justified. Dr. McLaren in one of his books asks the question, “Does Christianity forbid us to rejoice when some mighty system of wrong and oppression with its tools and accomplices, is cleared off from the face of the earth?” And the great preacher answers his own question with a text of scripture: “When the wicked perish there is shouting.”

It will be good for us to strive to make our gratitude to God more conscious and eager. We have been in tremendous peril! The Prime Minister said some year or two ago, “We shall win, but we shall only just win.” And it has been “only just.” We may well shudder to think how thin seemed the partition between us and destruction! Can we hope that a new sense of God will fall upon the nation? We need divine guidance and help as certainly in the reconstruction problems as in the peril of the war. Britain’s future depends upon the settlements of the coming year. The nation and the Churches too are at the cross roads! None of us, none of our sires or grandsires, have known a time when the call for earnest thinking and devoted service was to be compared with what it is to-day. Everyone of us must give answer unswervingly if we are not to let the hour pass and the opportunity slip away.

And now, among other things, we want our boys back again. We have felt their absence keenly, not only in our homes, but in the Church. There are nine of our own who will not return, and we will not forget them. But the others, may they come back firmer in fibre, more ready to serve Christ in His Church and in His Kingdom, more determined by His help to “build Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land.” And may the lessons of our great trial and triumph make us all wise and strong while life lasts.”

CHRISTMAS.

We ought to be able to fill our Christmas this year with real and unaffected joy. The great shadow is taken off merry making. Not that all the problems of the world have been solved, but they are nearer solution, and there is a grand hope in our hearts. And the coming of the world’s great King may remind us that the first of all conditions of real peace and content is a child-like heart, a spirit of gentleness and meekness, and of trust in the guidance of the good Father above. Rivalries and frettings eat out our peace, as a moth a garment, as acid soft metal. When man is right with God, all the earth will be right with men. If we are to gain true peace and happiness in the future, either for ourselves or for the nations, it must be by utter submission to Him who was born a child at Bethlehem.

OUR SOLDIERS.

F. W. Harmer is in hospital in London, suffering from some internal trouble, and may have to undergo an operation. Ernest Bristow is much better, and will soon be ready for his artificial leg. He is back at the Maidenhead Red Cross Hospital. Hugh Lewis has been down with a severe and serious attack of “flu,” and is in hospital at Boulogne.”

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, December 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Troops welcomed to stop looting in defeated Germany

Phyllis was still unwell.

6 December 1918

Heard fair account of P[hyllis]… Then on to P. Fond Seymour with her. She feverish after high temp. at night, 104.8. Had doctor up, & had aspirin. Felt rather wretched, head bad. I bathed it with eau de vie & water & Caveau orange. Stayed till nearly 5…

Our troops marching into Cologne. We welcomed to stop looting!!


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

Whom could England put in place of Lloyd George at this juncture?

The upcoming General Election was a historic one – the first in which all men over 21, and at least some women (married women over 30), could vote. The new Labour Party appealed to the working class new voters.

6 Dec. ‘18
My very dear old man

The Poll (but possibly you already know this) will be taken on MTWOF (16th to 20th)…

As for the election – I’m not “enthusing”. I only seem to fear it is Eclipse and the rest nowhere. Whom could England put in place of Lloyd George at this juncture?

We shan’t make Germany cash up, but under any other leader we should secure less than under him.

Beattie and Foch have ‘guts’ and are not timorous of Ultimatums – but these civilian tin-gods! I really half think that one of the Labour men would be more solid and less certain to be weakened than the creatures we are sending. The Hun will play upon Wilson’s vanity for bossing, and England, as usual, will cringe. Carson wouldn’t! O that he could have gone.

Ever affec.
Bild.

Her wounded brother, after whom you kindly ask, is still in St Thomas’s Hospital. It will, I fear, be a very long time with his left wrist – but I can see the great progress in it already.

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

“Although we always anticipated the ultimate success of the Allies, we hardly dared to hope for the great and glorious result which has been achieved”

Reading Board of Guardians reflected on the war and its impact.

28th November 1918

Report by the Chairman

As this is the first meeting of the Board since the Armistice was signed, I should like to say a word or two on the triumphant termination of the terrible war which has raged for over four years and has ended in the complete downfall of German domination. Although we always anticipated the ultimate success of the Allies, we hardly dared to hope for the great and glorious result which has been achieved.

Our thanks for victory, however, are tinged with regret by the losses which have been sustained. The War has been brought home to nearly every household in the land, and there is hardly a family in which some beloved relative or friend has not fallen or been disabled. The members of this Board have had to mourn the loss of many dear ones. I am sure that we should all like to express our sympathy with Mr Guardian Waters whose stepson was killed on the very last day of the War.

It has been my privilege to preside over the Board during the whole period of the Warm, and I am very glad to be the “Peace” Chairman as well as the “War” Chairman. We have had many serious difficulties to contend with, but with the able guidance of Mr Oliver we have been able to surmount them all. Our Institution was one of the first to be taken over as a Military Hospital & it has been found to be so splendidly adapted for the purpose that I expect it will be one of the last to be given up. The Master, Matron, Superintendent Nurse, Nursing Staff, & Officers generally have shown splendid devotion to duty under the most trying and arduous conditions, and we thank them one and all for the self denying services they have rendered. Many of the members of the Board have been engaged in War Work in various capacities, those taking part being: Mr W G Cook, Mr F E Moring, Mr A E Deadman, Col Kensington, Mr Hall-Mansey.

Staff:
Office: J R Beresford, K L Jones, G H Turnbull, A Dawson, K Garrett, K Ayling, K Hawkes
Relief: Mr F H Herrington, Mr G M Munday
Institutional: H Challis, A Sanders, G Smith, W Bibby

Out of this number Challis has been killed & Dawson has lost a leg.

Mr Guardian Waters
Mr Waters thanked the Guardians for their expression of sympathy in the sad bereavement he and his wife had sustained.

Election of Mayor

As the Guardians and Officers had not received the usual invitation to attend the election of Mayor, to accompany him at the Thanksgiving Service held at St Mary’s Church on the 13th November last, strong criticism was adversely expressed ad the Press asked to make a note thereof.

Minutes of Reading Board of Guardians (G/R1/58)

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)

People in London rather wild

It was understandable after four and a half years of war that some of those celebrating its end behaved badly.

19 November 1918

People in London rather wild. Burnt some of the German guns in bonfire.

Stayed in bed for Dr Moore. Said I could get up. Take it easy. Not go out yet.

Lt Knapman & Hay came about 11. on leave from France. Going to Cologne – army of occupation. They on river in canoe…

Henry to London. Saw guns in St James’ Park.

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

Died during the closure

There was sobering news when a school reopened after being hit by flu.

White Waltham
November 18th 1918

School reopened this morning. During the closure Arthur Butcher died of influenza.

East Ilsley
18th November 1918

Reopened after closure for influenza. Eight absent from epidemic sickness.

Peasemore
Nov. 18th

School closed for a fortnight as recommended by the County Medical Officer of Health, on account of influenza among the children.

Newbury
18/11/18

School re-opened today after 3 weeks closure for influenza.

Clewer
1918 Nov 18

School opened. Numbers low. Still many absences through influenza.

Basildon
18th November 1918

The armistice between Germany and the allies was signed and hostilities ceased on November 11th at 11am.

Log books of White Waltham CE School (D/P 142/28/3/2, p. 282); East Ilsley CE School (C/EL39/1, p. 488);Peasemore School (C/EL49/2); St Joseph’s Infant School, Newbury ( N/ES 7/1); St Stephen’s Girls’ School, Clewer (88/SCH/23/5); Basildon CE School Log Book (SCH39/8/1)

An overpowering Germany is shewn by this war to be a Curse to the world

Unlike many, John Maxwell Image did not believe the Armistice meant peace.

29 Barton Road
17 Nov. ‘18

My very dear old man

The town – even in London – is full of riot and devilry. I send you the Cambridge Daily News of the first day – and nightly bonfires have succeeded – with the Kaiser for Guy Faux [sic]. The u.g.s that evening, and on Tuesday, are said to have gone to Girton with music, and serenaded the fair captives “in dismal dance about the furnace blue” – dismal, for on Monday evening no dove would listen – on Tuesday a few weakened, and the whirl became epicene. Then the Mistress phoned to Cambridge for Proctors – who hurried up with bulldogs in motor cars: and at their mere aspect – pulveris exigui jacta quiescent – the u.g.s scattered and fled.

Each day that passes heightens my conviction that the Hun has done us – as it was prophesied by his own people he would. Who can believe that Foch was left free handed in the matter of this armistice? Foch, who had everything matured for the final battle that would have left the Hun army a run away rabble, howling for mercy on any terms – and the Armistice simply gives them a fortnight (or is it a month?) of Rest Cure, to rehabilitate discipline and morale unhindered, and at the end confront us with a restored army well-equipped – Foch knows his Hun. Unhampered by the politician allies, he surely, if grant an armistice he must, would have demanded as sine qua non the bridge heads over the Rhine – over which he would have guaranteed a peaceful passage to the German forces after surrender of their arms.

He would never have allowed this debating about Terms. The man who has his boot heel on the adder’s head, and suffers the reptile to wriggle free, deserves his fate.

Directly debates begin, US (the only safe terms) is lost. The Hun will promise anything; and stick to no promise he can find means to evade. He has himself carefully taught the world that.

I should like to see Germany broken up into free republics. If German Austria unites with the Hohenzollern empire, the agglomeration will be numerically the ‘Predominant Power’ of Europe. An overpowering Germany is shewn by this war to be a Curse to the world.

Ever your affec.
Bild

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

God’s wonderful deliverance of our own nation and the world from the tyranny of lawless force

The first Sunday after the Armistice was the occasion for services of thanksgiving across Berkshire.

Newbury

Monday, November 11th, St Martin’s Day, will for ever be remembered in the history of our country as the day on which the greatest of all wars came to an end, and the strongest and most ferocious of military nations confessed itself beaten. It has been a tremendous triumph for right and justice, and we have endeavoured to express our thankfulness to Almighty God, who has so signally vindicated His mighty power and has so wonderfully blessed our arms and those of our Allies. May we now as a nation and Empire prove ourselves more worthy of His goodness to us, and endeavour to work together to make the world a better, and therefore happier, world.

Thanksgiving Services were held at the Parish Church: on Tuesday morning [12 November], a celebration of the Holy Communion, when there were 88 communicants; on Wednesday afternoon [13 November], when the church was full; and the following Sunday [17 November]. There was also a United Thanksgiving Service in the Corn Exchange, under the presidency of the Mayor, on Sunday afternoon, when there must have been 2,000 people present, and when several hundred failed to gain admittance. Mr Liddle had got together a splendid orchestra for the occasion. May this spirit of thanksgiving remain with us, and may we not forget the spiritual lessons of the war.

The streets presented a very gay appearance, and there were processions (authorised and unauthorised) much to the delight of the young. All the fireworks possible to be obtained were let off in the streets, and one unexploded bomb was found inside the Churchyard gates, and handed over to the police. It appeared afterwards that another member of the Police Force had put it there for safety. We were very glad to see the excellent and sober spirit of the merry-makers. It was indeed an occasion for rejoicing with great joy.


Speenhamland

It was with feelings of profound thankfulness that we heard the Armistice had been signed. Our feelings were deeply stirred at the thought that at last this terrible War, which has oppressed us for over four years, was over, and that there were good prospects of a peace being signed, which we trust will be a righteous and lasting one. Our rejoicings took various shapes during the week, and culminated in our services in Church. We were glad to see many at the Celebrations and at other services; and it was a happy thought to hold a joint service in the Corn Exchange, which was crowded with a devout and reverent congregation. We shall long remember the sight of that vast audience.

Earley

Sunday, November 17, being the first Sunday after the declaration of peace, naturally was observed as a day of thanksgiving. The families of those on our roll of honour responded quickly to the invitation to send flowers, which were massed on the window shelf and corner where the roll hangs. The black oak was relieved by a magnificent display of colour, by flags hanging from the rood loft on the west side.

Reading

Such tremendous things have happened since the last issue of the Magazine that it is almost impossible adequately to express all we should like to say. On S. Martin’s Day, November 11th, about 11.15, came the great news of the signing of the Armistice, and the cessation of hostilities. At 12 o’clock at S. Marys a short impromptu Service of Thanksgiving was held which was attended by quite a number of the faithful. None of us will ever forget the crowded Civic Service held at S. Mary’s, on Wednesday November 13th, when the Mayor and corporation came in state to render solemn thanks to Almighty God for His wonderful deliverance of our own nation and the world from the tyranny of lawless force. Sunday, November 17th was observed as the special Day of Thanksgiving. At the Eucharist at 11 and at evensong at 6.30 the Church was fuller than it has ever been of late years. This is an encouraging sign that our people in in times of joy, as well as in times of trouble and distress, turn instinctively to God.

At 3.30 on the same Sunday the Church Lads’ Brigade came in full strength to S. Mary’s for their parade service; several Officers and Lads were admitted, and the address was given by the Rev. Edgar Rogers, Chaplain at C.L.B. Headquarters in London, who also preached at Evensong. It should be mentioned among the special features of the service of this great Sunday that a large and handsome silk Union Jack was carried in the Procession and also two laurel wreaths to which were tied bows of patriotic colours.

“Deo gratias.”


Broad Street Brotherhood

The Brotherhood held a great mass meeting on Sunday, November 17th, to celebrate, and give thanks for, the Armistice recently concluded with Germany.

Principal Childs of the Reading College [later Reading University] delivered a most impressive address on “The Responsibilities of Victory”, which gave us much food for thought, and left with the members present a clear conception of the trying and serious times with which our country is faced. It was truly a great meeting, and our best thanks are due to the President for arranging it.

Newbury St Nicolas parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P89/28A/13); Speenhamland parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P116B/28A/2); Earley St Bartholomew parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P192/28A/15); Reading St Mary parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P98/28A/13); Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)