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)

“The explosion blew the cigarettes out of our mouths”

A young Earley soldier wrote home to report his dramatic experiences in the trenches.

Some excellent letters from the Front have reached us; amongst others, one from Mr Leslie Grinsted. He says on Aug 8th,

“This is the third day in the trenches which is very muddy indeed, and we are in a very lovely pickle you may be sure. We got a good deal of shelling last night, being quite exciting, a shell pitching in one of our dug-outs and blowing it in, though luckily without any casualties. The force of the explosion blew our candles out and the cigarettes out of our mouths. We could not help laughing over it afterwards, though for a few minutes we were in the midst of an explosion which might have had disastrous results. I was out on listening patrol last night. This listening patrol is an advanced sap from the firing trench. Three men go out and keep vigilant watch for German patrols etc. We were standing ankle deep in water for three hours, and rain at intervals made it rather miserable, and I admit we were very glad to get back to dry land again.”

How difficult it is to think of the difference of experience which our late senior choir boy is undergoing. It seems but the other day when he was leading the trebles, and now his leading part is in the trenches.

The casualty list exacts its heavy toll day by day of killed and wounded. Of those upon our own list the name of Alan Godsal, 2nd Lieutenant of the Rifle Brigade, and younger son of E H Godsal Esq of Winnersh Lodge, Wokingham, must, alas be numbered on the honourable list of those who have offered and gave their lives for their country. He died in an attack upon the Hooge German trenches at the end of July and was a delightful boy and a most promising young officer.

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

“We wish them safety”

News of three Earley choristers’ fortunes in the army were published in the parish magazine.

We read in the papers that the 4th Berkshires are now at the Front, and that two of our choirmen are with them – Sergt. Goodenough and Pte. Leslie Grinsted. We also hear that Edwin Goddard is following his trade in the Army Service Corps and is expected to be in France by the time these words are in print. Most sincerely we wish them all safety and good health.

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

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)