A cordial welcome home to our demobilised soldiers,

Vicar’s Letter

We all offer a cordial welcome home to our demobilised soldiers, notably Mr Albert Rider, Mr Fred Rider, Mr Ernest Jupe, Mr Ernest Bryant (who, to our great joy, is returning to the choir of which he was once a leading voice), Mr Reginald Sturgess, Mr O West and Mr Goodson (already in their old place in the choir), Mr Aubrey Grinsted, Mr Stanley Hayward, Mr Frank Ellis, Mr Augustus Love, Mr Leslie Grinsted, Mr George Turnbull and others. We are very glad to see them again.

Short Notes

The Vicar is trying to compile a list of all the demobilised soldiers and sailors who have returned to our parish. He will be very glad of the names and address of any such, if anyone will kindly give him information.

Earley St Bartholomew parish magazine, March 1919 (D/P192/28A/15)

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“Were it not for the sake of those he has left behind, he would have wished for nothing better than to offer his life to others”

There was news of several men from Earley.

With the pleasure of meeting again some of our soldiers – in particular Sergt-Major Rider and Sergt. Woodin, both of whom are recovering from wounds, Albert Earley, R E Edwin Goddard (ASC) and Aubrey Grinsted – comes the news of the death of acting Sergt- Major William Love killed in action. It seems but a short time since his brother Leonard gave his life fighting in the East. William Love, one of our old guild boys, was with us some months ago when last on leave. He was a magnificent type of an English soldier, of great strength and height, and a gentleness and goodness of heart that attracted every one who knew him. He died instantaneously leading his men. His father and sister here know how much we mourn with them his loss.

We regret very much to have to record another loss. Frank Gosling, of the West Surreys, is report missing, but believed to be killed by shell-fire. Our memories of him take us back to early days, to acting and all the social amusements of St Pancras Guild during Mr Haines lifetime; and latterly, whenever there was any Christmas entertainment, and help wanted, it was to Frank Gosling that we turned. Always looking on the bright side of life, his extraordinary gift of cheerfulness and kindness made him greatly beloved of all who knew him. And were it not for the sake of those he has left behind, he would have wished for nothing better than to offer his life to others.

Besides those of our soldiers mentioned, we have had the pleasure of seeing Mr Lewis Hawkes, who after a year’s service on the Somme has been offered a commission; also our choirman Mr F C Goodson, and his son Mr George Goodson.

Earley St Nicolas parish magazine December 1917 (D/P192/28A/14)

“Doing his bit”

An army chaplain wrote to the vicar of Earley with news of a parishioner.

The following letter to the vicar gives a delightful account of our choirman Mr F C Goodson now serving with the RASC in France.

1, Ave Faidherbe, Malo-les-Bains, (Nord) France, March 20th 1916.

My dear sir, please excuse my writing just a line to say that I have been happy in making the acquaintance of one of your parishioners; a Mr Goodson. In making my rounds of the docks where he is employed, I frequently meet and have a little friendly chat with him. You will, I am sure, be glad to know that he is “doing his bit” for the church. He not only comes himself regularly to our Sunday services, but manages also to bring some of his fellow soldiers with him. I could well wish that we had many more like him.

Yours very faithfully

W J Drought (British chaplain of Dunkerque)

Earley parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P192/28A/14)

A supreme death and an imperishable name

The Earley parish magazine reports on the parishioners who had answered the call of their country – and one tragic death.

We regret to learn from a letter dated Oct 5th that Mr F C Goodson who recently joined the 19th Labour Company ASC has met with a serious accident. It appears from his own written account that he was engaged with some Frenchmen and others from his own company in unloading bar iron by means of a steam crane. An unexpected movement of the crane found the men unprepared, and the swing of the bars of metal caught Mr Goodson on the arm and threw him violently against the ship, thereby severly injuring his head. We need hardly say how sorry we are to have this news, and express very real sympathy with him in his suffering.

We were glad to see Mr Thomas Fullbrook home on a few days leave. Lance-Corporal in the Marines, he is one of many who keep watch on the seas in the Grand Fleet. Mr Fullbrook has earned his gun-laying badge, a distinction which may be appreciated by those who reflect what it means to secure eight hits out of ten shots at a floating target of about 900 feet long by 300 feet high at a distance of 18 miles! Mr Fullbrook has been in the Service for some years.

Another of our servers, Mr George Turnbull, has joined the Army Ordnance Corps. Mr Turnbull’s duties at the Guardians’ Office were of so pressing a kind that it was difficult for him to be released. He was formerly an officer in our old CLB [Church Lads Brigade] corps.

Mr Arthur Leslie Edwards – the last remaining tenor in our choir – has joined His Majesty’s Navy, following the example of his two brothers. We shall miss his help, but he is right to go, and carries with him all the good wishes of St Bartholomew’s.

We regret to learn that three soldiers on our special list have been wounded in recent engagements, Sergt. Charles James Bird, Corpl. Samuel Iles, and Pte. Joshua Digweed. Trooper Herbert Long is progressing well at home and is able to report to his regiment.

In Memoriam

It is not easy to put into words the thoughts that come into mind when we have to record the death of Clifford Salman. (more…)

Three days without food in a forgotten trench

More Earley men (and a woman) joined up in the war’s second autumn. Others had suffered the vicissitudes of war.

Yet another of our choirmen, Mr F C Goodson, has gone forth to the war and carries with him our good wishes. Mr Goodson has joined the Army Service Corps (19th Labour Company) and will be employed in France, probably at one of the landing stages. On Sept 7th we heard of his safe arrival on the French coast, and the Vicar heard from him on the 20th.

Mr Stanley Hayward, who for many years has served both in the choir and as principal server, has also gone. Mr Hayward offered his services as clerk to the Army Ordnance Corps, and left home to report himself to Woolwich on Sept. 8th. He, too, carries with him our best wishes.

Mr William Stevens, of 119 Grange Ave, private 2nd Battalion of the Royal Warwicks (which played a gallant part in the first battle of Ypres in Oct, and later on took part in the battle of Neuve Chapelle) has been home and amongst us. Pte Stevens was wounded in the back and buried by a bursting shell in the trenches, and was subsequently dug out. Among his other experiences, he was left with 11 others in an advanced trench for three days without food, as the order to retire failed to reach them. On this occasion he was officially reported “missing”. He has now recovered his health, and sailed on Sept. 2nd to rejoin his regiment. His two brothers are serving, one in the Persian Gulf; the other is in the Royal Navy and shortly expected home on sick leave.

We regret to learn that Mr Herbert E Long, of 40 St Bartholomew’s Road, trooper in the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, has been wounded at the Dardanelles. Fortunately the wounds appear to have been slight. Like Mr W Stevens, he too has two brothers serving in the Army, one with the Army Service Corps in Egypt and one presently in England.

Miss Hilda Sturgess, one of our Sunday School teachers, sailed on Sept 10th for Egypt in company with about 100 nurses. Miss Sturgess reluctantly gave up her class at the beginning of the War and joined the nursing staff at St Luke’s Red Cross Hospital for the wounded. After many months work there the War Office requested her to undertake work in one of the hospitals, presumably Cairo or Alexandria, and she accepted the call. It is a courageous action to go out with strangers into a strange country without hope of return for at least six months. It seems to us a true and honourable service to one’s country and deserving of every commendation.

Mr Reginald Sturgess, another of our old choir leaders, has left England for the Dardanelles. He joined the West Kent Yeomanry about a year ago. They have been quartered near Canterbury these many months wondering whether they would be sent abroad or not. Orders came last month, and they are now either in Egypt or, more probably, at the front in Gallipoli. Mr Reginald Sturgess has won considerable distinction in machine gunnery, and will without doubt prove himself an efficient and capable soldier.

The Rev. J W Blencowe, whose lectures on the Melanesian Mission have been greatly appreciated here, has resigned his curacy at Wokingham and been appointed Chaplain to HM Forces in the Dardanelles. By a curious coincidence Mr Blencowe will go out with the West Kent Yeomanry to which Mr Reginald Sturgess belongs. At the time of writing we have no other information than that Mr Blencowe was ordered to be ready on Monday the 20th ult. If he sails with the West Kents, the chaplain and one of the troopers will begin their friendship with a good deal in common.

Earley parish magazine, October 1915 (D/P192/28A/13)

Eager to go into the trenches

A couple of Reading soldiers write from the Front:

NEWS FROM THE FRONT.
Service in a Cornfield.
‘We had a Church Service in a cornfield this morning and a Communion Service afterwards. It was quite a novelty; the grain was standing in the sheaves and the surrounding scenery was lovely. We are in a valley with clumps of trees and cornfields all around us, and in the distance one can see the spires and chimneys of a town, and on the other hand a little way behind can be seen the ruins of a smaller town where an occasional shell can be heard to burst. We had a good bath yesterday, the first we have had for about six weeks or a little more. Since I last wrote to you I have joined the Signalling Section, and I was about to you a few days ago on my station in the trenches, but just as I was about to start ‘Fritz’ got ahead of me with a few souvenirs in the shape of shells, trench-mortar bombs, rifle grenades, and such-like niceties, so I had to clear for action, as a demonstration by ‘Fritz’ is likely to make our wires pretty busy with messages. ‘Fritz’ got a direct hit on our trench in one place and we were lucky not to have our wire broken, which would have meant going out to mend it, shells or no shells. I saw Lieutenant Poulton Palmer’s grave the other day.
A. Goodson.

Ronald Palmer Club
“Just a line to let you know that another old club boy has managed to get to France. We left Southampton at 7 p.m. on Saturday, august 7th, and arrived in France at 1 o’clock in the morning, but we did not disembark until 8 oc’clock. We went to a rest camp about two or three miles away for the next night. Next day we started to move nearer the firing line. we started at 6 p.m. in cattle trucks and travelled all night until midday the next day, and we were cramped, tired and dirty. We then had a march over rough cobbles to a town, where we are now billeted in barns waiting to be moved into the line, but I am afraid it will be some time before we get there, though our fellows are all eager to go into the trenches. We see a number of aeroplanes hovering round here all day long. I saw one of the old club boys the other day, J. Sawyer of the RHA; he went to our first camp with Mr Heaton, and enlisted just after. I hope the Club and all concerned are getting on well.
Lance-Corporal Bushell.

August 4th
From the four corners of the earth,
Where’er the British flag shall float,
Our vow of victory we take,
Resolved to drown the craven note.

For there are those within our midst
To whom NO peace is premature;
But our’s to war to end such war!
And ne’er again this curse endure.

Not for our gain – a year ago –
‘Twas not for greed we drew the sword,
But to defend our plighted word
Our blood and wealth have been outpoured.

The Empire’s vow’s the Empire’s bond,
All round the world today she’s bound –
This pledge to keep her sword unsheath’d
Until her cause with victory’s crowned.
A.W.E.

Reading St John parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P172/28A/24)

“The Germans are murderers, not clean soldiers”

A selection of letters from Reading soldiers at the Front, in England, and in Egypt, which were printed in their home church’s magazine.

Letter From the Front. Come out and help.
When we are out of the trenches on a Sunday (like to-day) we have a short service which come as a luxury and which reminds me of old times when singing in the choir at S. Stephen’s. I had a scarf sent out to me by my sister which was made at the Girls’ Club, I understand, but it is very handy when we have nights out, which we often do, for it is very cold at nights. We have been out here practically eight weeks, and I suppose have seen as much of the trenches as any battalion out here during that short time. I never thought that when I went to see you when home on leave from Chelmsford that we should have been up in the firing line so quick as we were….

We are always thinking of all the friends and people we have left behind, and I know that you are thinking of us while we are away from everybody doing our bit. I hear that you call the names out on a Sunday and I know that there are quite a number, but I hope that before long that list will be twice as long, for the more men and young chaps we get out here the sooner it will end, and I am sure that we all want to see that as soon as possible.
G. KING.

Poisonous Gases.
Just at present we are having a very troublesome time with the Germans. They are trying their very hardest to break through and we have very hard work to keep them back because they are using those poisonous gases which is something terrible for our poor men, and you can’t do anything at all with them. I think myself that the Germans are murderers, not clean soldiers.
L.H. CROOK. (more…)

Former choirboys risk their lives

Our Soldiers and Sailors

Owing to the length of the special service on Wednesdays in Lent it has not been possible to read out the long lists of our sailors and soldiers, as was done before Lent commenced. This will resume after Easter, and as more and more are leaving from the Home list to the list on active service. Upon these two lists at the present time are the names of several past and present members of the choir and servers at the altar. It is a pleasure to recall them and to say a word about each of them, and in doing so, where possible we have added the date they joined the choir.

Of the present members of the choir are the following:-
Mr Leonard Goodenough, in old days a keen Territorial, of whom, as his home is not in Reading, unfortunately we have heard nothing; Mr Alfred William Long, server and alto singer, who has joined the Army Service Corps and is believed to be now on his way to the Dardanelles; Mr Leslie Grinsted (1907), formerly leader of the trebles, 4th Berks Territorials; Mr Lewis Hawkes (1900), and his brother Mr Septimus Hawkes, the former of whom is serving in the Army Pay Department, and the latter, long time Acolyte in our church, training at Sandhurst Military College; Mr F Grinsted (1892) and Mr F C Sturges (1903) both serving at the supply depot in Reading.

On the list of former choir boys are many who have seen considerable service and have done well. Of these we recall the following names:- Harry Taylor (1904) who has served since August in France with the his regiment, the 1st Life Guards, Frank Washbourne Earley (1907), George William Goodson (1907), Albert George Rider (1893), Sergeant, and a keen Territorial before the war broke out, now made Company Sergeant, his brother Frederick Rider (1909) Clifford Salman, 2nd Lieutenant, and for many years one of our Acolytes, all in the Royal Berkshire Regiment; George Hayward(1902), Recruiting Sergeant at the Butts; Ralph Pusey (1907), of the Grenadier Guards, of whom to our great sorrow nothing has been definitely heard for some months, except the sad fact that he was wounded and missing in October last; Reginald Charles Sturgess (1899), 1st class gunner in the Gunnery section of the West Kent Yeomanry, also an enthusiastic solider in the RHA Territorials before the war; Claude Taylor (1901) and his brother Sydney (1902) of whom the former is leading seaman on the destroyer Ambuscade and took part in the famous fight of Helioland, and the latter a Corporal in the 56th Field Company of RE who was mentioned in despatches and recommended for conspicuous bravery. In the RE also, as despatch rider, is Thomas Pilkington Norris (1901), Sergeant and twice mentioned in despatches. Frederick Charles Edwards (1905) H.M.S. Triumph who took part in the bombardment of Tsing-tau, and is now with his ship in the Dardanelles; and his brother William Stanley Edwards who has recently joined the Navy as a Writer.

Some of this long list will be remembered only by a few, yet what hearty wishes and earnest prayers follow them as they go forth to defend our nation, to fight, and risk, their lives fighting, for us at home who can only follow them in our thoughts and prayers that they might be mercifully protected from all that may hurt them.

Earley parish magazine, April 1915 (D/P192/28A/13)

Even the Boy Scouts are helping the war effort

Young men and boys from Reading St John were serving the country at home and abroad:

The War
It is difficult to collect the names of all our young men who have gone to serve their country, either in Lord Kitchener’s Armies or in the Territorials. We should be very glad to have their names, with their rank and regiment, to put up with other lists in the church porches.

Many will be interested to know that our old friend, Mr. Frank Tucker has enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery and Mr. Victor Fowler, who was formerly Assistant C.E.T.S [Church of England Temperance Society] Secretary, has joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. Also that Messrs. H.J. Dadley and W.A.H. Coates, prominent members of S. John’s Cricket Club, have joined the Royal Flying Corps, and that Arthur Goodson, who went out a few years ago to Canada, is now in training at Valcartier Camp with the Canadian contingent.

The Scouts
The Troop is going strong and is keen upon rendering any public service in war time. Several boys have done quite useful work already in various ways.

The war meant even history classes were suddenly topical. Girls at a school in Abingdon were challenged by the question of the necessity of war:

9 October 1914
Debate in the afternoon – “Is War necessary?” The Resolution that War is necessary was carried by large show of hands.

Reading St John parish magazine, October 1914 (D/P172/28A/23, pp. 2 and 4); Abingdon Girls CE School log book (C/EL2/2, p. 78)