“The knowledge that one was lessening the incredible sufferings and hardships our soldiers and sailors were hourly undergoing”

The war was putting a catastrophical strain on the country’s financial position.

A Successful Meeting

It is not always that a meeting passes from the academic into the practical, and the conveners and chairman of the meeting held at S. Giles’ Hall, London Street on Friday 3rd November are to be congratulated upon having achieved this.

The Vicar the Rev, F.J.C. Gillmor. M.A. , introduced the speaker, Mr. A.T. Tudor, by confessing that he himself was anxious to become a member, and see an association formed, as the necessity for such Associations everywhere was apparent.

Mr. Tudor, representing the local committee, of which the mayor is chairman, briefly outlined the objects of the National Committee, which he stated was formed as an outcome of recommendations made in the report of the committee on War Loans for the small investor dated January last, its objectives being:

1. To stimulate the sentiment and urge the need for economy.
2. To promote the formation of War Savings Associations.
3. To secure for the nation, through these associations, a certain amount of the money required for the prosecution of the War.
The year’s estimated national expenditure up to the 31st March next is 1825 millions, that is 5 millions a day, and as the pre-War amount was roughly only 200 million [per year], it was clear that unless everyone in every sphere lent a hand to help produce the remaining 1,600 millions the treasury was faced with unnecessary anxieties.

Mr. Tudor confessed that he objected to the “don’t” leaflets of the national committee and urged that English people should be left to arrange their own economy’s [sic], beginning when health and efficiency were secured. It was clear however that the possibilities of small savings were immense, as evinced by the 10 million raised by these associations, during the month of August, and locally also some 30 associations were already harmoniously working.

Apart from the attractiveness of the investment, which was an easy first in the history of any country anywhere at any time, there was the knowledge that one was lessening the incredible sufferings and hardships our soldiers and sailors were hourly undergoing for us all. This in itself should bring everyone in.

The fleet was mobilised the army was mobilised, and now it remained for the money to be mobilised.

The central committee were anxious to get in touch with everyone willing to help encourage and promote War Savings Associations, for their autumn campaign included activities from which it was hoped that every school, firm, factory and religious body be gathered in.
Mr Tudor instanced the valuable work done in certain departments of the Great Western Railway Company’s Works.

The meeting was unanimous in passing the following resolution, and the following were nominated and accepted office in the Association:

Chairman: Rev O.F. Spearing, M.A.
Secretary : Mr. Rowe.
Treasurer: Mr. A.T. Higgs.
With a most useful committee.

Resolved: That this meeting of S. Giles’ parishioners ; appreciating “that the obligation to provide in one way or another all that is necessary for the purposes of the war is a command to all citizens,” welcomes this opportunity for the forming an association forthwith;to be called the “S. Giles Parish War Savings association.”

It was hoped to obtain permission of the Governors of Reading Savings Bank for members to pay in there, and some 20 members promptly paid their initial subscriptions there and then.

In case this should meet the eye of anyone wishing to join who was not present at the meeting, the Hon. Secretary, Mr Rowe, will welcome the opportunity of sending them a card.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P96/28A/33)

Working on howitzer guns all night

Night shifts at the munitions factory in Swindon continued to be hard work.

14th October 1916

When I got home at ¼ past 6 this morning I lit fire, washed, fried some sausages for breakfast and got to bed at ½ past 7. Got up at 3 and went down town to get some safety razor blades sharpened and stamps for Income Tax. Home and had my tea and in to work again at 6. Working on 6” howitzer gun arches. A rough windy night.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/24)

Night shift in the munitions factory

William Hallam was doing night shifts making guns at the GWR works.

10th October 1916

Dull again. I have to shift on to another lathe to-morrow on gun work and work nights. A very rough night.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/24)

Blood money

William Hallam, originally from Lockinge, worked at the Great Western Railway works in Swindon, which had been converted to munitions work. He had an unexpected reaction to higher wages.

5th October 1916

Heard to-day we are getting a War Bonus on our wages of 5/. a week. – blood money I call it.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/24)

Finished gun work

William Hallam worked at the GWR works at Swindon, at this time including munitions work which meant higher pay.

4th September 1916
Finished gun work and back on wheels again so no overtime.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/24)

A train load of machine guns

Great Western Railway employee William Hallam witnessed the transport of some guns.

26th May 1915
When going back to work at breakfast time saw a train load of machine guns go down towards Bristol.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/23)

Wages are up, but prices even more so

William Hallam reflects on price rises resulting from the war:

15th February 1915
A notice posted up that we are to have a bonus of 2/. per week while the war lasts. This will help but prices have gone up much more in proportion….

I have now started going to the G.W.R coffee house to breakfast. After going nearly 18 years to Mrs Ponting in Milton Rd [Swindon], she has now given up her business as baker. She told me she had so many debts now flour was so high, she could not afford to keep on any longer since it’s owed over £200.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/23)

An aeroplane would have difficulty in seeing the railway works at night

Over in Swindon, Lockinge-born William Hallam reports on the blackout:

9th February 1915
It is still all shrouded in darkness. I should imagine an aeroplane would have a difficulty to see the [Great Western Railway] Works at night.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/23)

Hard to see where one is going thanks to blackout

William Hallam, a Lockinge man now living in Swindon, reports on blackout conditions at the Great Western Railway Works where he was employed:

2nd February 1915
All lamps round the Works now and inside are either unlit or ½ darkened by black paint. Difficult to see where one is going.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/23)