Military distinctions awarded to Caversham men

Caversham men were honoured for serving.

Military Distinctions Awarded to Caversham Men

Second –lieut. D.T. Cowan, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Military Cross; Capt. C. Gentry-Birch, Royal Berks Regiment, Military Cross; Rev. C.W.O. Jenkyn, Royal Army Chaplains Dept, Military Cross; Capt. A. Hill, Surrey Yeomanry, Military Cross; Capt. (Rev) W.M. Austin, 1st Wiltshire Regiment, Military Cross; Capt. G.O. Taylor, R.E., Military Cross; Capt. E.F. Churchill, R.E. Military Cross; Lieut. Rollo, Scots Greys, Military Cross; Lieut. H.C. Powell, R.G.A., Military Cross; Sergt-Major D.E. Deane, R.A.M.C., Military Cross; Lieut F.C. Ransley, R.A.F. Distinguished Flying Cross and French Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star; Lieut. B.J.E. Belcher, R.AF. Distinguished Flying Cross; Sergt. A. Price, R.G.A. Distinguished Conduct Medal; Pte. W. Shackleton, 3rd Royal Berks, Distinguished Conduct Medal; Pte J. Girdler, Distinguished Conduct Medal; *Pte. J. Cox, 1ST Grenadier Guards, Distinguished Conduct Medal; *Pte. H. Godwin, 1ST Berks Yeomanry, Military Medal; * Pte. F. de Grunchy, 4TH Royal Berks, Military Medal; * Pte. H. Simmonds, R.A.M.C., Military Medal; Pte. F. Neale, 1st Royal Berks, Military Medal; Pte W. H. Heath, R.A.M.C. Military Medal; Sig-Cpl. F.J. Pointer, R.G.A., Military Medal and Bar; Pte. H.D. Helmore, 1st Royal Warwicks, Military Medal and Italian Bronze Medal for Valour; Gunner T.W. Shuff, R.H.A., Belgian Croix de Guerre; Mec-Staff-Sergt. J.W. Beasley, Meritorious Medal.
*Formerly members of Caversham C.L.B.

CAVERSHAM ROLL OF HONOUR
Third List
POWELL, Capt. E.I. Royal Sussex Peppard Road March 22, 1918
Bryant, Trumpet. F.N. R.E. 59, Queens’s Road July 16, 1917
Bryant, Cpl. S.C. R.E. 59, Queen’s Road
Bell, Cpl. A.J. R.E. 188, Westfield Road
Blackall, Pte. A.E.J. 2/4 R. Berks 8, Cromwell Road Dec. 7 1917
Briant, Pte. A.E.J. 6TH Royal Berks Emmer Green Aug. 15 1917
Bue, Pte. W. 27th Enniskillens Emmer Green Oct. 20 1917
Bennett, Pte. T.A. Gloucester Regt 92 Queens Road Dec. 5 1915
Bristow, Pte. H. R.E. 114, Queens Road Dec 21 1916
Carter, Pte. C. London Regt 69, Briant’s Av Nov 22 1917
Chamberlain, Pte. F. R.H.A., Berks Emmer Green Aug 28 1918
Cox, Seaman D.E. R.N. 18, Coldicutt Street Oct 1918
Doe, Bomb, S.W. R.H.A. 68, Prospect Street Nov 26 1917
Davis, Pte. J. Royal Berks 9, Donkin Hill May 31 1918
Eacott, Pte. H.W. 14TH Royal Warwicks 121, Gosbrook Rd Oct 26 1917
Fuller, Pte. F.G. Rifle Brigade 18, King’s Road May 9 1915
Goodwin, Pte. F.C. 6TH London 168, Hemdean Rd April 14 1917
Gibbins, L-Cpl. A.G. 28TH London 33, South View Av July 16 1918
Hatto, L-Cpl. H.H. 1/4TH R. Berks 111, Kidmore Rd Aug 16 1917
Havell, Pte. H.A. 2ND Ox and Bucks Emmer Green Nov 3 1917
Harrison, Seaman G. H.M.S. Victory 54, Briants Av Sept 4 1918
Higg, Pte. W. Rifle Brigade 105, Queens Road 1916
Jones, Pte, T.J. Northumb. Fus 100, Kings Road Dec 17 1916
Knight, Pte. R.R. Royal Berks 145, Queens Road Aug 26 1918
Morgan, Pte. S. Liverpool Regt 57, westfield Road June 20 1917
Martin, L-Cpl. B.E. R.M.L.I. 163, Gosbrook Road Aug 25 1918
Mott, Pte. S. R.G.A. 79, kidmore Road Sept 21 1918
Miles, Pte. G. R.F.A. 96, Kings Road July 31 1918
Nicholls, Lieut. H.G. 2nd Royal Berks 5, Queens Road May 28 1918
Nicholls, Pte. J. M.T. 3, River View Cots 1918
Povey, Cpl. J. R.H.A. 4, Queens Street April 16 1915
Palmer, Pte. H.T. 1ST Warwicks 34, George Street April 18 1918
Purvey, Pte. W. Oxon & Bucks 16, King’s Road Feb 25 1918
Purvey, Pte. E. R.A.S.C. 16, King’s Road April 12 1918
Rampton, Pte W. Labour Corps 35, Gosbrook St April 9 1918
Robinson, Pte. H. 7TH Queens 34, Priory Avenue Sept 22 1918
Swift, Pte. H.G. 3RD Rifle Brigade 31, Oxford Street May 19 1918
Semple, Pte. H. 2/4TH Royal Berks Emmer Green July 16 1916
Semple, Cadet. F.J.M. R.A.F. 23, Priest Hill Oct 30 1918

Caversham parish magazine, March 1919 (D/P162/28A/7)

“Right in front of the battalion, leading his men in true British style”

This supplement to the roll of honour’s bald list of names gives us more detail about the parish’s fallen heroes.

Supplement to the Wargrave Parish Magazine

ROLL OF HONOUR.
R.I.P.

Almighty and everlasting God, unto whom no prayer is ever made without hope of thy compassion: We remember before thee our brethren who have laid down their lives in the cause wherein their King and country sent them. Grant that they, who have readily obeyed the call of those to whom thou hast given authority on earth, may be accounted worthy among thy faithful servants in the kingdom of heaven; and give both to them and to us forgiveness of all our sins, and an ever increasing understanding of thy will; for his sake who loved us and gave himself to us, thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Baker, Edward
Private, 7th Wiltshire Regiment, killed in action on the Salonica Front, April 24th, 1917, aged 21. He was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Baker. He was born at Wargrave and educated at the Piggott School. When the war commenced he was working as a grocer’s assistant in Wargrave. He volunteered in 1915 and was sent out in 1916. He was killed by a shell in a night charge.

Barker, Percy William

Private, 7th Batt. Royal Berkshire Regiment/ Killed at Salonica, July 4th 1917, aged 19. He was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. William Barker at Yeldall Lodge. His father was for twenty years a gardener at Yeldall. He was born at Crazies Hill and educated at the village school. On leaving school he began work as a gardener. He was one of the most helpful lads on the Boys’ Committee of the Boys’ Club. He volunteered May 11th, 1916. On July 4th, 1917, he was hit by a piece of shell from enemy aircraft while bathing and died within an hour. The Chaplain wrote to his parents “Your loss is shared by the whole battalion”.

Bennett, William
Sergeant, 8th Royal Berkshire Regiment, killed in France, Dec 3rd, 1916 aged 25. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bennett, of Wargrave, and when the war broke out he was working on a farm. He volunteered at once. He was killed instantly by a shell. One of his officers wrote: “Sergt. Bennett was the best N.C.O. we had in the company. Fearless, hardworking, willing, he was a constant inspiration to his platoon. His splendid record must inevitably have led to his decoration. We have lost an invaluable N.C.O. and a fine man. He was buried with all possible reverence about half a mile from Eaucourt L’Abbaye”.

Boyton, Bertram
Lieut., 6th London Brigade Royal Field Artillery, died of wounds in Palestine, Nov. 9th, 1917, aged 36. He was educated at King’s College, London, and was a Surveyor and Architect by profession. He was a Fellow of the Surveyors Institute and had won Gold and Silver Medals of the Society of Auctioneers by examination. He was married to Elsie, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Morris, at the Parish Church, Wargrave, Sept. 7th 1905, He was a member of the London Rowing Club and the Henley Sailing Club, and keenly interested in all athletics. He enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company in April 1915. He was given a commission in the 6th London R.F.A., in July 1915 and was promoted Lieutenant soon after. He went to France with his battery in June 1916, and to Salonica in the following November. He was sent to Egypt and Palestine in June 1917, and was wounded while taking his battery into action in an advance on November 6th. He died at El Arish on November 9th, 1917.

Buckett, Ernest Frederick

Private in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, killed in action Sept. 20th, 1917, in France, aged 23. The dearly loved husband of Dorothy May Buckett, married May 31st, 1917. He was educated at the Henley National School, and before the War was a slaughterman with Messrs. O’Hara & Lee, butchers, Henley and Wargrave. In 1910 he joined the Berkshire Yeomanry (Territorial Force), and was called up on August 4th, 1914, at the commencement of the war. He immediately volunteered for foreign service. He went to France in the spring of 1915. When he had completed his five years service, since the date of his enlistment, he volunteered for another year, but received his discharge as a time-expired man in January 1916. In July, 1916, he was called up under the new regulations and sent immediately to France where he remained, except for leave on the occasion of his marriage, until he fell in action, September 20th, 1917. (more…)

Reading School’s contribution to the war

A complete listing of Reading School’s alumni who had served in the war.

OLD BOYS SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES.

This list has been compiled from information received up to December 14th, 1918; corrections and additions will be welcomed and should be addressed to: – R. Newport, Esq., Reading School, Reading.

Allnatt, Rifleman N.R. — London Rifle Brigade.
(killed in Action).
Ambrose, 2nd Lieut. L.C. — S.L.I.
Anderson, Pte. L.G. — Can. Exp. Force
Appelbee, 2nd Lieut. T. — 13TH West Yorks.
(Killed in Action).
Atkinson, Lieut. E.G. — Indian Army
Atkinson, Capt. G.P. — 6TH Royal North Lancs.
Atkinson, 2nd Lieut. J.C. — R.A.F.
Aust, 2nd Lieut. H.E. — Yorkshire Regt.
(Twice Wounded).
(Killed in Action).
Aveline, Lieut. A.P. — Royal Berks Regt,
(Wounded).
(Military Cross).
Baker, 2nd Lieut. A.C.S. — R.G.A.
Baker, Rifleman A.E. — London Irish Rifles.
(Wounded).
Baker, Rifleman R.S. — London Irish Rifles.
(Wounded).
Baker, Lieut. T.H. — 8TH Royal Berks Regt.
(Wounded)
Balding, Capt. C.D. — Indian Army.
Banks, Pte. W.R. — Public School Corps.
(Killed in Action).
Bardsley, Capt. R.C — Manchester Regt.
(Wounded).
Barnard, F.P. —
Barroby, Trooper. F. — Strathcona Horse.
Barry, Capt. L.E. — R.A.F.
Baseden, Lieut. E. — Royal Berks Regt.
(Killed in Action).
Baseden, 2nd Lieut. M.W. — R.A.F.
Batchelor, Lieut. A.S. — Duke of Cornwall’s L.I.
Bateman, Capt. W.V. — Royal Munster Fusiliers.
Bayley, 2nd Lieut. F. — Chinese Labour Battalion.
Beckingsale, Pte. R.S. — Canadian Contingent.
Beckingsale, Capt. R.T. — Tank Corps (Military Cross).
(Wounded).

Belsten, E.K. — R.A.F.
Biddulph, 2nd Lieut. R.H.H. — Royal Berks Regt.
(Died of Wounds).
Bidmead, Pte. — Wilts regt.
Black, Pte. F. — Public School Corps.
(Killed in Action).
Blazey, A.E.H. — R.A.F.
Blazey, 2nd Lieut. J.W. — Royal Berks Regt
(killed in Action).
Bleck, Lieut. W.E. — R.F.A.
Bliss, 2nd Lieut. A.J. — Leinster Regt.
(Killed in Action).
Bliss, Pte. W. — 2ND Batt.Hon.Art.Coy. (more…)

“The War still continues, would that it were not so”

Several Newbury men had been reported killed, but those left behind were still keen to support the troops.

The War still continues, would that it were not so. We have suffered several losses lately among the young men in the parish: William James Quinton, of the Gloucester Regiment; Albert James Geater, Royal Berks Regiment; Arthur William Stevens, 1st Devons; Albert Corderoy, Hants Regiment, all killed in France; and William Aldridge, 1st class petty officer, RN, who went down in HMS mine-sweeper Begonia. We offer our sincerest sympathy to the relatives of these brave young men, whom we can ill afford to lose, and we thank God for the example which they have set us.

Harold Hughes, youngest son of Mrs Hughes, of 6, Berkeley Road, has lost a leg in France, and we trust that he will make a good recovery.
We are glad to see Dr Heywood back again in Newbury, after the valuable work which he has been doing at the seat of War.

The Soldiers’ Club at the old “King’s Arms” in the Market Place, has only been used lately very occasionally, because there have been no troops billeted in the town, but we hear that there is the likelihood of 1000 men of the Royal Flying Corps coming to Newbury, and if this does take place we hope to open the Club again, and shall be glad of offers of personal assistance and of subscriptions. The Club, when it was held in other premises, proved a great boon to the men, who thoroughly appreciated the kindness and attention of the ladies who managed it, and gave up so much of their time to it.

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

Greater love hath no man than this

Caversham men’s service was honoured.

ANOTHER DISTINCTION FOR CAVERSHAM.

Hearty congratulations to 2nd Lieut. A.F.C. Hill, upon receiving the Military Cross for gallant conduct with the Salonika Expeditions. This is the fourth Military Cross awarded to Caversham men, the other recipients being the Rev. C.W.O. Jenkyn, Army Chaplain; 2nd Lieut. D.T. Cowan, A. and S. Highlanders; and Sergt.-Major Wilfred Lee, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.

Lieut. E.J. Churchill, R.E., has been “mentioned in dispatches.”

Sergt. E. Canning, of 1/4TH Royal Berks, is one of the two non-commissioned officers selected out of his battalion for the honour of a Commission.

Caversham roll of honour.

“Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friend”

Name, Ship or Regiment and address, Date of death
(more…)

The bravest man in the trenches

Many of the former pupils of Reading School were serving with distinction.

O.R. NEWS.

Military Cross

Temp. 2nd Lieut. F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berks Regiment.- For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy twice attacked under cover of liquid fire, 2nd Lieut. Edwards showed great pluck under most trying circumstances and held off the enemy. He was badly wounded in the head while constructing a barricade within twenty-five yards of the enemy.

2nd Lieut. (Temp. Lieut.) W/C. Costin, Gloucester Regiment. – For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy penetrated our front line he pushed forward to a point where he was much exposed, and directed an accurate fire on the trench with his trench guns. It was largely due to his skill and courage that we recaptured the trench. An Old Boy of Reading School, he won a scholarship at St. John’s College. Oxford.

2nd Lieut. D.F.Cowan.

Killed in Action.

Lieut. Hubert Charles Loder Minchin, Indian Infantry, was the eldest of three sons of the late Lieut-Col. Hugh Minchin, Indian Army, who followed their father into that branch of the service, and of whom the youngest was wounded in France in May, 1915. Lieutenant Minchin, who was 23 years old, was educated at Bath College, Reading School, and Sandhurst. After a probationary year with the Royal Sussex Regiment, he was posted to the 125th (Napier’s) Rifles, then at Mhow, with whom he served in the trenches.

After the engagement at Givenchy on December 20th, 1914, he was reported missing. Sometime later an Indian Officer, on returning to duty from hospital, reported that he had seen Lieut. Minchin struck in the neck, and killed instantly, when in the act of personally discharging a machine-gun against the enemy. The Indian officer has now notified that he must be believed to have fallen on that day.
2nd lieut.

F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berkshire Regiment, awarded the military cross, died of wounds on August 10th. He was 23 years of age, and the youngest son of the late Capt. H.H. Edwards, Royal Navy, and Mrs. Edwards, of Broadlands, Cholsey. He was educated at Reading School and the City and Guilds College, Kensington. He had been on active service 10 months. His Adjutant wrote:

“He was the bravest man in the trenches. All the men say he was simply wonderful on the morning of August 8th. We lost a very gallant soldier and a very lovable man.”

(more…)

“I am quite happy and enjoy life immensely, wouldn’t have missed it for anything”

Several men from Reading St Giles had fallen in the war. The vicar pays a personal tribute to their heroism:

NOTE FROM THE VICAR

Hearty congratulations to Sergt. S.W. White, 1/4th R. Berks, on winning the D.M.C. I believe he is the first of the old C.L.B. boys to obtain honours in the war.

To the list of the fallen in the war is a long one this month, and it contains some names closely connected with the work of the church (Reginald Golder, Herbert Day, Harry Walker, Leonard Smith), they all played their part bravely and have died gloriously, and I am sure we shall not forget them nor their good work here. All four were splendid types of the real patriot who thought no sacrifice too great for England: all four loved the church they worshipped in and, as I know well, did not forget the lessons they were taught in it.

Reginald Golder was a very special friend of mine, he rarely missed coming to see me each ‘leave’ and his devotion to his Grandfather in the days gone by was something to admire. His final words in his last letter to me, written a few days before the final action in which he was taken prisoner:

“I am quite happy and enjoy life immensely, wouldn’t have missed it for anything.”

It was a letter showing his deep interest in the things and persons connected with S. Giles’. To the parents and relatives of all these brave men we give our heartfelt sympathy. For them we give our prayers and our affection: they have won a great reward.

To be added to the intercessions list: Private E.F. Mundy, 11th Labour Batt, Royal Berks Regt,; Lieut Frank Moore, 22nd Batt King’s Royal Rifles; Cpl. C.V. Pyke, R.F.C. ; George Biles, 3rd Batt,. Royal Berks Regt.; Geoffrey Church ; Lieut. Boston; Private A.T. Henton, 9th Royal Berks Regt,; Private W. Clare, A.S.C. ; Private S. Watson, Grenadier Guards; Private J. Gibbons, 6th Batt. R.I.F.; Private T.B. Mills, London Scottish.

Sick and Wounded: Private S.J. Tugwell, D.C.L.I.; L, Cpl. Mark Seymour, R.E.; Private W Hart; Private G.F. Stroud, A.S.C.; C.S.M.L. Goodenough 1/4 Royal Berks Regt.; Private E. Wilson, 24th London R.; Gunner H.G. West,R.F.A; L. Cpl. A Harris, Royal Berks Regiment.; Private Redstone, Private G.W. Holloway, 3rd Gloucester Regt.

Prisoners: Private H. Guttridge, Private James Smith. ¼ Royal Berks Regt.

Missing: Private Albert Langford, ¼ Royal Berks Regt.; L.Cpl. Jack Foulger, West Kents; Private Frederick Long, 6th Batt. Royal Berks Regt.; L. Cpl. H. Goldstone, R.W. Surry Regt.

Departed: Private Davey, L. Cpl Herbert Dray, Sergt. Reginald Golder, 2/4 Royal Berks Regt.; Private R. Morris, Private S. Land, Private H.V. Walker, ¼ Royal Berks Regiment,; Private A. Josey. 2nd Hants; Private J. Miles, Oxford and Bucks Lt. Infantry; Private Arthur T. Knott, Private T. Seymour, Royal Berks Regt.; Private Edward Rogers, 8th Batt. Royal Berks Regt.; Private John Simmonds, 6thBatt. Royal Berks Regt.; Private H. Leonard West, Canadian Cont.; Driver Rodney Lock, A.S.C.; Sergt Clement Perrin, 1/4 Royal Berks Regt.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, October 1916 (D/P96/28A/34)

The Church Lads’ Brigade goes into khaki

Over 50 men who had previously been members of the Earley St Peter branch of the semi-military religious boys’ club were now serving.

Church Lads’ Brigade.

The time has come when we are obliged to adopt the Service (khaki) uniform. Many companies have been in uniform for the past 2 years. The Reading Battalion has hitherto tried to manage without incurring this extra expense, but is now compelled to fall into line. The Battalion is making a very strong appeal for the necessary funds to enable them to do this, and we hope our readers will liberally respond. The Church Lads’ Brigade has been in existence for twenty-three years and our organization some three years ago received recognition by the War Office under Cadet Regulations. We appeal with the more confidence on account of the work the Church Lads’ Brigade is doing at the present time. Over 200,000 past and present members are serving in H.M. Forces, 500 of whom are old members of this Battalion, and so satisfied is the War Office with the efficiency of our organization that they have conferred upon it the unique distinction of allowing a Special Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifles to be formed of its members. Of our S. Peter’s, Earley, Company no less than 56 of the past and present members are serving as will be seen from the subjoined list.

4th (Cadet) Battalion Oxford Regiment, S. Peter’s, Earley Company, No. 2679.

Present Officers – O’Leary, Sergeant. C.J., 1st Batt. Dorset Regt. (wounded).

Past Officers – Strong, Sergt. L.P./ Canadian Forces.

Lads – Past and Present
Jones, H., 11th Batt. Suffolk Regt.; Goodger, F., Driver B.R.C. Ambulance, France; Spratley, E., H.M.S. Britannia; Spratley, A., Government Railway Work, France; Green, Lce.-Corpl. G., 4th Batt. Oxford and Bucks L.I.; Leaver, Sergt. A., A.S.C.; Howlett, P., Australian Contingent; Bolton, C., 4th Royal Berks. Regt.; Simson, V., H.M.S. Magnificent; Harwood, P., A.S.C.; Townsend, G., H.M.S. Syren; Admas, J., R.M.L.I. (H.M.S. Rapid); Adams, D., R.M.L.I.; Ballard, A., 1st Canadian Contingent (wounded); Bowden, J., 4th Royal Berks. Regt. (wounded); Martin, J., Dragoon Guards; Maskell, G., 6th Batt. Royal Berks. Regiment; Ansell, Lce.-Corpl. G., 12th Batt. Hampshire Regt.; Harding, G., R.M.A.; Harding, H., 5th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Edwards, F., Royal Navy; Wright, G., 8th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Snellgrove, F., 17th Batt. K.R.R.; Parker, Lce.-Corpl. J., 4th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Borroughs, H., R.A.M.C.; Beeson, F., Berks R.H.A.; Iles, B., H.M.S. Canada; Gains, V., R.E.; Barton, C., 4th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Jacobs, A., A.S.C.; Hitchcock, J., 7th Batt. Gloucester Regt.; Berry, F., 4th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Illott, A., 4th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Gatehouse, R., R.M.L.I. (H.M.S. Stonewall Jackson); Worsfold, A., 2nd Batt. K.R.R.; Allen J., 7th Batt.Royal Berks. Regt.; Neale, W., 3rd Batt. Royal Berks Regt.; Shorter, E., R.E.; Shorter, H., R.E.; Port, C., A.S.C.; Waller, L., H.M.S. Agincourt; Phillips, J., Berks R.H.A.; Watts, E., R.N. Flying Corps; Webb, Lce-Corpl. E., 8th Co. R.E.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, October 1915 (D/P191/28A/22)

“These Indians are splendid fellows, and such fighters”

A wounded soldier from Ascot had words of praise for the Gurkhas and Indian soldiers he was serving with, while two Bracknell men had been killed.

Ascot

THE WAR.

Two of our Ascot lads, Eric Ferns and Sidney Sumner, are amongst the wounded, of Sidney Sumner we shall have more to say in our April Number. The following extracts from a letter of Eric Ferns will be read with interest:-

“I have been very queer for a month now after my smash up. It was on December 9th. I was taking a car full of Gurkhas on to the field, and there came a German aeroplane, and dropped a bomb, and it missed my car, and a crowd of people gathered round to see if we were hit: and the same aeroplane dropped another bomb and took the back of my car off, and pitched me yards into a ditch. I don’t remember any more until I woke up, and found myself in Hospital. That was on the following Tuesday. I got 3 in me, one in the foot, one in the leg, and the other in the wrist: but the shock was dreadful. My foot and leg are much better: but my wrist is still bad, but I have much to be thankful for, as they told me 24 were killed and 4 injured by the same bomb…

These Indians are splendid fellows, and such fighters, they think of nothing else but this war. It is all rain, and up to your knees in mud…”

Bracknell

THE ROLL OF HONOUR

At the end of January news came that two more of those who are on our list on the Church door and fallen in the war.

WILLIAM KING GEORGE was the eldest son of Mr. S. King George of the Brackens. He was serving as Captain in the 3rd Gloucesters, and was killed at La Bassée on 25th January. His Colonel wrote of him, “We feel that we have lost a most gallant comrade and a true friend.” Captain George was married and leaves two sons.

GEORGE BRANT, who fell about the same time, was called up as a Reservist at the beginning of the war. He was a Private in the Queen’s West Surrey Regiment. His parents now live in Martin’s Lane, and were formerly living at Chavey Down. Brant was a widower and leaves two children.

Winkfield District Magazine, March 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/3)

Beautifully made shirts for soldiers

More young men from Earley had joined up, while the women left behind were supporting them as best they could by making them clothes.

Since last month we have received a supplementary list of soldiers and sailors, some of whom by this time are at the front:

Royal Navy

David Clark HMS Emperor of India
Harry Hunt (Telegraphist) HMS Sutley

Army on active service

William Henry Bishop Grenadier Guards
Charles Lucas RAMC
Arthur Stokes Northumberland Fusiliers
David Gerald Kennard Royal Berks Yeomanry
Herbert Edward Long Sherwood Rangers

On home service

H Allaway
Alfred Bishop (India) Royal Hampshire Regiment
Ronald Eric Brown Royal Berks Yeomanry
Noel Chapman Duke of York’s Light Infantry
Thomas Henry Hill R H Artillery
George William Giseltine Royal Berks Regt.
Arthur Henry Long Royal Berks Yeomanry
Albert Edward Lovegrove Army Ordnance Corps
Anthony Lax Maynard Hussars
Leonard Mitchell R Gloucester Regt.
William Stokes R Dorset Regiment
Reginald Wright R G A
Henry James Judges Royal Berks Regt.
Septimus James Hawkes Public School Corps
Arthur Fulcher Royal Berks Regt.
William Povey Pring
(more…)

Problems with an ‘old buffer’ of a clerk in the Orderly Room

Percy Spencer was still desperately trying to organise his transfer from Kitchener’s Army to work with his old boss in a territorial unit, and being stymied by army bureaucracy, as today’s letters reveal:

Pte Spencer, No:-11814
The Gloucester Regiment
YMCA Tent
Horfield Camp
Bristol
Sep. 21.14
Staff Captain R J Holliday
Dear Sir
I was very glad to get your wire today, and again thank you for all the trouble you are taking in the matter.

I had not made an application in writing, as I was quite unable to obtain a form for the purpose. The officers are all very sympathetic, but once in the Orderly Room they seem to curl up before some old buffer of a clerk there and merely repeat his assurance that nothing can be done.

So today I have myself written a formal application to Lt. Col. C J Baines, who is in command of the depot here – the GOC so far as I can ascertain is a General Knox, and if that is the man you want to get hold of, I’ll try and get his full name and address.

I will remain here as long as I can, or until you advise me that you can do nothing further, and in the meantime I’ll try to push matters at my end.

Yours faithfully
Percy J Spencer
(more…)

‘As slow as carthorses’: Percy Spencer tries to move on

Percy Spencer continued to struggle getting his transfer organised. On 19 September he wrote again to Captain Holliday, his peacetime boss, suggesting a medical discharge might be fudged:

Pte Spencer
11814
The Gloucester Regiment
YMCA Tent
Horfield Camp
Bristol
Sep. 19.14

Dear Sir

As wired to you today, I can’t get the adjutant to transfer or discharge. He is not unwilling, but acting, as it seems to me, on the advice of the head clerk in the Orderly Room, he cannot see his way to do anything.

I suggested that a medical exam might discover that I had a weak heart (which I’m supposed to have), or that a stiff joint on my big toe might get me a discharge, but this I understand would prevent my re-enlisting.

The only course he could suggest was that you should apply to the War Office through your CO for my transfer. This I gathered might involve the payment of a few pounds, but I should of course be prepared to repay this to you.

As I am being shoved about from pillar to post pending the settlement of this matter, and if I do not soon get away to Abbey Wood (which would be convenient) I shall be booked for this place or Tidworth (both of which units I hope to avoid), could you let me know by Monday (midday) whether you are doing anything further in the matter. Otherwise I propose to apply for my pass to Abbey Wood to rejoin my company. Drilling with Cheltenham farm hands is getting on my nerves – they’re as slow as carthorses, though very useful lads to have around in a charge, if once they get going, I should think.

I daresay, too, if I get attached to a permanent training station, I shall get through my course in time to see some service.

But I hope to hear on Monday that you have been able to take further steps in the matter of my transfer.

In any case, whether you are able to do this or not, I am very glad you wanted me to serve under you, and grateful for all the trouble you have taken.

Yours faithfully
Percy J Spencer
To – Staff Captain Holliday

Letter from Percy Spencer to Captain Holliday, D/EZ177/7/12/5

‘Just the clothes we stood up in’

On the 18th of September Percy wrote to his sister Florence, anticipating his transfer to his boss’s Territorial regiment. He was quite cheerful about current conditions although remaining critical of the earlier shambles. No doubt his brother Sydney would have been touched by the praise of the YNCA, for whom he was working at another camp.

Sep 18.14

My dear Florrie

Today it is glorious, but I am a wanderer, attached to no Company and without a roof until tonight. All my chums left yesterday for Woolwich. I remain here pending my transfer, but they are all so busy here, I doubt if I get it for a few days.

The instructors and other kind people are frequently distributing pipes, tobacco, shirts, socks and so forth among the men.

Practically all of us, acting on the advice of the recruiting sergeants, came away in just the clothes we stood up in, and our discomforts would have been very much relieved, if we had been warned to come better prepared.

All the men are improving in appearance – the hard work and diet is pulling up the slackers, and there is nothing to complain of the men going away for their course of training at Woolwich. A week here is doing wonders with them.

The YMCA people are the salvation of the camp. God knows what the fellows would do if they were left to their own resources.

The townspeople are very good to us; we are given apples and things on march, and we always come in for a cheer or two.

If I am transferred I hope I shall be able to do my drills and musketry course, and I hope too we shall see some service, as it is fairly certain that if I remained with the Gloucesters, I should see service, and I don’t want to be out of it.

Yours ever
Percy

The same day he chased up that elusive transfer request again with Captain Holliday

Horfield YMCA
opposite Barracks
Bristol

18 Sept 1914

Staff Capt R J Holliday

Dear Sir

I have just seen the orderly sergeant in reference to my transfer, and he informs me that there is no form I can fill up as the matter is unusual, and it will be necessary for you to apply to the War Office for a special order. I hope you will not have much difficulty in doing this, as I am afraid you have already been put to a lot of trouble on my behalf.

Major Trench and Major Spragget here, and other officers, seemed to see no difficulty – only the NCOs.

My term of service is the same as everyone else’s in Kitchener’s Army – three years, if the war lasts as long, but we are all to be discharged with the utmost speed at the conclusion of the war, so I do not see why there should be any difficulty in my transferring to your regiment, which I believe is also a general service regiment for the duration of the war.

I hope you will be able to arrange my transfer, as I should of course be glad to be serving under you.

Yours faithfully
Percy J Spencer

Letters from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/3/7 and 7/12/4)

A most uncomfortable time – but the men are transformed

Percy Spencer was keen to arrange his transfer. He spoke frankly about army life and the shocking conditions for new recruits in a letter to his father in Cookham. He had also met some of the survivors of the retreat from Mons.

Private Spencer
No: 11814
The Gloucester Regiment
YMCA Tent
Horfield Camp
Bristol
Sep. 17.14

Dear Father

But for the fact that I shall probably get my transfer, I should today have been off with my company to Woolwich. Under the circumstances, I shall probably be here another four days, now.

We were a merry party, wet through or dry, penniless or flush, we saw the fun in everything, and when there was no fun, one of us made it.

My chums of a week have gone and you wouldn’t believe how lonely I felt looking round our empty tent. If I don’t get my transfer, I am after them; they may not be good enough for a dinner party but the sort of men I should like to fight with.

We lost a lot of men at Mons, and some of the wounded are here, fine earnest looking fellows, all anxious to get back again. All the men here who have seen service, have a wonderfully straight, stern look.

I have been very chatty with the officers this last day or two about my transfer. They are a fine body of men, sympathetic and anxious to relieve our conditions if possible. Practically active service conditions, to quote the press, are very trying to untrained men, and it would sicken your heart to see the fellows going down all over the ground at first parade. But I am told that when a few days ago. Men were sleeping on the grass without cover (luckily I have at least escaped that), the Colonel would walk round after midnight, and see that every man at least had a blanket.

Yesterday I saw Major Trench about my transfer. He thought I should get it, and told me to see the CO this morning. I made my first salute, turned right about and went flying over some tent rope. Today, amongst 500 men in the YMCA tent, he remembered my face, and stopped to ask me how I had fared, and expressed the hope that I should get my transfer. A wonderful man, with eyes like electric drills but so kind. He made a rattling good speech to us the other day – nothing silly, just earnest and sincere. None of the claptrap we had served up to us in London.

Your loving son
Percy

On the same day Percy wrote to his peacetime boss, Captain Holliday, to try to move things along, with a brief comment on life in the camp. (more…)

“If there is not an enquiry into the management of Kitchener’s Army after the war, I shall be surprised”

Percy Spencer continues to fulminate against the conditions in his army camp:

No. 4 Company
The Gloucesters
YMCA Tent
Horfield Camp
Bristol
Sep. 16.14

Dear Mr Image

Thank you so much for your letter and enclosure – the uncertainty of our movements makes the latter very welcome indeed.

I hope you don’t imagine I am a grumbler. As you say, the discipline is splendid for us all – the improvement in the lowest types is obvious to anyone, but unnecessary hardships are an absurdity.
We are doing 7 parades a day, and untrained men must be treated well to stand this.

If there is not an enquiry into the management of Kitchener’s Army after the war, I shall be surprised.
All of us would rather be taking our chances on active service conditions than staying here under conditions that are almost as severe. The tents leak like sieves, most of our fellows are doing their drills in wet and leaky boots, and at times the rations have been short. If you saw men going down and being carried off on 1st parade, you would feel as strongly about it as myself.

Our fifteen are a jolly set; we all make the best of our conditions and keep smiling. As a matter of fact, we were complimented yesterday by an officer on parade – he said we were the smartest square.

Personally I am feeling splendid. Time flies so, I do not remember if I told you that yesterday we had to take all the obstacles on the parade ground, including a fence, a 6’ 0” wide ditch, and a 7’ 0” high wall – nothing stopped us.

Today we have been down to Bristol for a much needed bath – what a treat after having your clothes on for a week.

I think we marched well – all of us singing choruses, and gaining confidence in our invincibility at every step.

It is wonderful how reliant an organised force feels. In another month I can see our fellows insisting upon going to the front, and I can quite understand now, the Irish Guards (I think it was) rioting because they couldn’t go to the front.

I have just heard again from Capt. Holliday that he will be glad to have me, and that with him I should stand a better chance of promotion.

As a matter of fact I am beginning to wish I was going to stay with the Gloucesters, but now I have seen the Adjutant, and I am given to understand the transfer could and should be made. I shall, if possible, get a transfer.

[The letter is not signed, and the second page may be missing.]

Letter from Percy Spencer to John Maxwell Image (D/EZ177/7/10/5)