Some comfort in memories so full of sadness

A Sulhamstead family who had lost their son were invited to take pride in his heroism.

THE WAR

Mr and Mrs Leake have received the following letter from the War Office. It is indeed to be hoped that the gratifying appreciation of the services of Captain G E A Leake, DSO, may be of some comfort in memories so full of sadness:

“I have it in command from His Majesty the King to inform you, as next of kin of the late Second Lieutenant (Acting Captain) George Ernest Arthur Leake, DSO, of the London Regiment, that this Officer was mentioned in a Despatch from Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, dated 7th November, 1917, and published in the third supplement to the ‘London Gazette’ of the 21st, dated 24th December, 1917, for gallant and distinguished service in the Field.

I am to express to you the King’s high appreciation of these services, and to add that His Majesty trusts that their public acknowledgement may be of some consolation in your bereavement.

[To]
G Leake, Esq.,
Sulhamstead

Sulhamstead parish magazine, March 1918 (D/EX725/4)

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“2 Divisions ran away & so caused Cambrai defeat”

Florence Vansittart Neale was puzzled as how to manage Bisham Abbey with less food available, while the news – and rumours – continued to fascinate her.

1 January 1918
Worried morning over rations. Very difficult but must do it. Edith arranging next Sunday’s “chain of prayer”.

January 1918 [inserted at front, no date]

Hear Haig in London, very sick about things. He had refused to send Divisions to Italy, but had to. Wanted to resign. He said a great deal too much fuss made about Sir J Byng’s push & also a great deal about the subsequent retreat!

Hear we send up stuff against [balloons?] which make the men so deadly seasick they have to come down. On return Irish leave this Xmas, 1000s stuck at Holyhead 5 days. Too many submarines there. At last escorted over by American destroyer & gun boats.

Hear 2 Divisions ran away & so caused Cambrai defeat. Hear General [illegible] sent back after it., then returned by Army Council & again sent back after St Quentin retreat! Hunter-Weston “honouring heroic deed” (drunken Tommie). Foch becoming Generalissimo (March 1918).

Meat & butter rations begin.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Reading has lost one of the most distinguished of its young men

Old Redigensians – Old Boys of Reading School – were among the many on active service.

O.R. NEWS.

Deaths.

D.W. Carter

The funeral took on Monday at Caversham Cemetery, of Mr. Donovan Carter, only son of Mr and Mrs. A.W. Carter, Of “Maubeuge,” Church Road, Caversham, who was drowned while, bathing last week at Peterborough, where he was stationed with the R.N.A.S.

Carter was educated at Reading School, and spent three years in the O.T.C., passing the School Leaving Certificate in 1913. He passed the London Matriculation in 1914, and was studying for B.Sc., with a view to taking research work in a Belgian chemical works in which his father is interested. He was passed for a commission in the A.S.C. in Jan., 1915 but, eager to serve his country at the earliest possible moment, he would not wait for the commission and enlisted in the R.N.A.S. as a driver in June of that year. Most of his time he spent at an R.N.A.S. station at Felixstowe, afterwards training at the Crystal Palace as an engineer. All the naval ratings and officers turned out to do him honour when he was brought home from Peterborough.

2nd-Lieut. D.J. Davies.

-By the death of second-lieutenant D.J. Davies, the only of Mr. and Mrs, of the Market Place, Reading, Reading has lost one of the most distinguished of its young men and Reading School one of the most brilliant of its old boys.

Davies’ record at Reading School was a remarkable one. When he left in the summer of 1915 he was the Captain of the School, the highest honour which a school can confer on any boy, and the holder of a Drapers’ Scholarship and an Open Classical Scholarship at Trinity College, Oxford. He Joined the O.T.C. on the outbreak of the war in 1914, and in the Spring Term of 1915 he was in Rugby XV.; and won his 1st XV. Colours. He was a prominent member of the Literary and Debating Societies. On the occasion of the school holding a debate in French, Davies opened the debate.

He never failed in a public examination and passed the Higher Certificate Examination of the Oxford and Cambridge Board in 1913 with one distinction, in 1914 with four distinctions and in 1915 with five distinctions, coming out at the head of over 1,700 candidates. He competed regularly in the school sports and won several prizes in the under 15 events. Latterly, however, intellectual pursuits were more to his inclination, though he always took a very keen interest in all the school activities. He combined great ability with a real capacity for thoroughness and hard work, and had he lived would have gone far. He died, his tank being struck by a shell, on July 31st, the day before his 20th birthday. His loss is greatly to be regretted.

His Commanding Officer, writing to his father, says:-

The death of your son is a great loss to us all; he was very popular and was an exceedingly gallant officer. Up to the time of his death his tank did exceedingly good work.


Death of Mr. Sydney Lowsley.

Mr. Sydney Lowsley, Deputy Borough Engineer of Harrogate, son of the late Dr. Lowsley, of Reading, died in a London naval hospital last week. Mr, Lowsley, who joined the R.N.A.S. Last July as draughtsman, contracted double pneumonia while training and succumbed after three weeks’ illness. He served his articles with the Borough Engineer at Wolverhampton, and from there went to Westminster, Lewisham, and finally to Harrogate. He leaves a widow and two children.

Gallant Deeds.

Military Cross.

Lieut. Oswald Francis, Royal Berks Regt., has been awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in the recent fighting in Belgium, and also had the honour of being personally congratulated by Sir Douglas Haig. He left Sandhurst in September, 1915, and has served for the last 15 months in France and Belgium, for the greater part of the time on the Somme Front.

Wounded.

Bardsley, Capt. R.C., Manchester Regt., elder son of Mrs. Bardsley, of 72, Addington Road, Reading. Severely in the right arm and hand, on Oct.8th. Capt. Bardsley was educated at Reading School, where he distinguished himself in all athletic pursuits.

Reading School Magazine, December 1917 (SCH3/14/34)

A splendid victory

Douglas Haig (1861-1928) has not had a great reputation with historians of World War I. But at the time people like Florence Vansittart Neale admired him.

2 October 1917

Splendid victory Sir D. Haig. 4,500 prisoners, won all the blights.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Hearing about ‘the Somme battle’

General Douglas Haig’s despatch on the Battle of the Somme was published in the London Gazette.

29 December 1916

Interesting dispatch from Sir D. Haig about Somme battle – lasting 5 months! Edith read it aloud to me.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Major Dinkum

Florence Vansittart Neale heard some gossip and tall tales from army officers. “Dinkum” is actually an Australian word, and the story, ascribed to an Australian officer, is recorded as being in circulation elsewhere.

25 December 1916

Had 5 Remount Depot to dine with us.

Major Remount Depot told me – hear [Colonel?] RFA told him how a spy had been caught. Posed as a Major who came to their Division & gave orders to bombard [later?] a salient! Said he had been sent from the HQ, also seen and arranged for other divisions etc etc. A Canadian present said. “Is this dinkum”, a slang word meaning is this true. He answered Yes, I am Major Dinkum. Whereupon the C[anadian?] rushed on him & held him down & they found he was a spy & was taken out & shot.

One day the artillery was told to bombard heavily but unluckily the ammunition was forgotten!!

Hear the new Government dare not conscript Ireland.

I hear Sir D. Haig sent for 1000 miles of railway lines, 400 engine drivers & heaps of locomotives, & that has caused the reduction of trains & increase in the price of tickets to begin Jan 1 1917.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

The Russians are shocking optimists and may run out of ammunition

Ralph Glyn’s old mentor was feeling a bit out of it now that he was no longer involved in the war.

Montpellier Hotel
Llandrindod Wells
21.6.16

My dear Ralph

I got your letter today. I wrote to you to Egypt about three weeks ago but expect the letter missed you.

Very glad to hear that you have found your way home. You will surely be able to light on some job other than intelligence in Egypt, which has lost its interest and importance so much. You will I suppose go and look up Whigham at the WO who is the dispenser of General Staff jobs in common with Bird.

I came down here last week and after finishing three weeks shall probably go on to Ireland before returning to Town. They are hardly likely to employ me again as they could not expect me to take anything that was not fairly good and there are plenty of people to fill such jobs, without their retrieving dug-outs for the purpose. I am sorry in some ways that I did not accept Haig’s offer last winter to go as his Mili. Secretary in place of Lowther; but at that time I was fed up with office work and I wanted to go to Russia; it could have kept me in harness till the end of the war.

I hope that you are none the worse for the wear [sic], Egypt can be uncommonly hot after April. Things are going well for the Allies but one feels a little afraid that the Ruskis may run short of ammunition if they are too busy; they are shocking optimists.

Ever yours
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

“More brains than bowels”

Ralph Glyn’s mentor General Charles Callwell, just off to Russia, let him know what was going on at the War Office and internationally. For Czar Nicholas II’s impressions of Callwell, see his letters.

Central Station Hotel
Newcastle-on-Tyne

4th March 1916

My dear Glyn

I got your letter just when leaving. It looks as if things were going to be very dull in Egypt and, with the reduction of garrison, I suppose that there will be reduction of staff. Perhaps you will find yourself nearer decisive events before long. Latest news from Verdun seems quite satisfactory and Joffre two days ago was quite satisfied. Robertson had gone over to see him and Haig.

Wigram and I are for the Grand Duke’s HQ but go to Magily first to see the Emperor & Alexieff. I have a GCMG for Yudenich, who commanded the army that took Erzerum, which should make us popular & will justify our getting pretty well up to the front. Whe we get back to Moscow we may go on to Japan – I have a sack of decorations concealed at Christiania to serve as an excuse – so as to see how things are on the Siberian railway & at Vladivostok, but I could not get Robertson to make up his mind. The King told me that AP [Arthur Paget] put in from Petrograd for a trip to the Caucasus, suggesting a decoration for Yudenich as justification; but he was too late, our trip having already been arranged. We may meet him at Stockholm or some such place. Mac[law?] is going with us as far as Petrograd, he has managed to put in about three months at home on an irregular sort of sick leave and strikes me as having more brains than bowels; he is coming down here later and we start tonight. The passage across is no citch [sic] as it is bitterly cold, it is always rough, & the steamers are small & asphyxiating, proving altogether too much for Wigram and our recruit-servant.

The War Office has quite settled down on its new lines and the breaking up of the MO into MO and to MI seems to work very well and to be a decided improvement. Most of the old gang remain on and some of them look rather tired.

Wishing you the best of luck

Yours sincerely
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

“It is terrible trying to carry on war under such conditions”

General Callwell shared some secrets with former assistant Ralph Glyn, now at the Dardanelles.

26, Campden House Chambers
Campden Hill, W

13th December 1915

My dear Ralph

I am taking time by the forelock to drop you a line as the Bag does not go for a couple of days, but there is such a rush these times that it dies not do to leave anything to the end.

I am afraid the retirement from Suvla and Anzac will prove a costly business and it is deplorable that there was so much delay in deciding after Monro reported at the end of October. As a matter of fact the War Council decided on evacuation on the 23rd ult – while K was out in those parts – and Squiff sent me over to Paris to tell Gallieni and old man Joffre; but the Cabinet overrode the War Council and the decision was not finally taken by the Cabinet till the 7th. It is terrible trying to carry on war under such conditions.

The French have been very troublesome over Salonika. We and even our Government have been opposed to that affair all along, but the French managed to drag us into it by threatening to regard our refusal as a blow to the entente. Murray and I, backed up by Robertson, went to Chantilly to see old Joffre, but could not get him to change his mind, and then Squiff [Asquith] and three others of the same sort went over and saw the French Government, but it was no good. I went with Squiff and we had quite a gentlemanly trip in specials and Destroyers, but poor old AJB was a terrible wreck after a Destroyer trip. Then, although Gallieni lied to me gallantly about it, the French never sent that infernal fellow Sarrail orders to retire till his position was extremely awkward and in consequence our 10th Division had a very bad time; but they seem to have done well.

All kind of changes are in the air. Johnny French is to be degomme’ at once, Haig taking his place; and there is a good deal of talk about Robertson becoming CIGS – he caries heavier ordnance than Murray. Henry Wilson is very unhappy at Johnny French’s departure and I am not sure what will become of HW. I doubt whether Haig will have him in his present job and he has come to be looked upon as what the soldier detests – a political general.

The Government is rocky and Bonar Law told me the other day that he thought Gallipoli would finish them. He (BL) should have resigned when Carson did. When K was away in the east they all declared that they would not have him back, but he is back and does not look like going although he is much tamer than he was. He said to me plaintively the other day that the Cabinet would not believe anything he told them and now always insisted on a printed paper from the General Staff. It was rather amusing at a War Council the other day while he was out your way. They were squabbling away about everything after the usual fashion when a box was brought in to Squiff and he read out a wire from K, ending up with an announcement that he was coming home. With one voice the whole gang said he must go to Egypt to report and a wire to that effect was drafted on the spot – however he took no notice and came home in spite of them.

I hope that you are fixed up and getting on well with your RNAS affairs. As Helles is not to be evacuated I suppose that the bulk of Sykes’ commando will remain where it is although there will be plenty of work for airmen in Egypt shortly. I am writing to Bell before the Bag goes and also to Birdwood.

Yours ever
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

“I wonder what the Archangel Michael thinks of destroyers and aeroplanes”

The Bishop of Peterborough and his wife wrote to their son Ralph, serving in the Dardanelles, with the latest news of political developments at home, and an encounter with two disillusioned soldiers serving with the Canadian forces. See here for more about Munro.

Nov 13 [1915]
The Palace
Peterborough

My darling Ralph

Thank you so much for your great letter to me of Nov 2nd & telling us of your going off in the Destroyer on work – & that we possibly may catch you by a letter to Marseilles – so here it is.
You will indeed have a good experience – & going about in this way will be full of new interest – but I can understand your reluctance to leave General Headquarters. I see that General Munro is gone to Salonika, & when I saw it in today’s papers, I wondered if you would have gone there with him – but you will not have gone off on your “destroyer cruise” before he left.

Everyone tells us that Munro is first rate & I heard also that in France he did a job that Haig got praised for & held a tough corner & saved us at one time, & then was not as fully appreciated for it as he should have been.

Your name appears in today’s Times, with K’s and 3 or 4 others, as “persecuted” by HM to wear your Servian & Russian orders – so there you are!

God bless & keep you
Your loving father
E C Peterborough
(more…)

Cranbourne men in the forces

The men of Cranbourne were serving in a variety of regiments.

The following is a list of those who are serving in His Majesty’s Forces and who have their homes in Cranbourne.

Andrews, James, Hampshire Regiment
Brant, Ernest Harold, Royal Berks
Brant, Albert, Royal Berks
Beasley, William, Royal Berks
Bish, Walter George, Army Service Corps
Barker, Harry, Royal Navy
Boyde, Albert Ernest, Remount Department
Boyde, Edward Jospeh, Royal Navy
Barrett, Archibald Richard, Army Ordnance Corps
Bowyer, Charles John, (Lance-Corporal) 15th Hussars
Clarke, Wilfred Lawson (2nd Lieut.) Royal Berks
Cox, Amariah, Royal Berks
Cox, Albert, Royal Berks
Creasy, Robert Leonard (2nd Lieut.), Royal Field Artillery
Evans, Reginald, Royal Engineers
Grout, George, Royal Artillery
Greenough, Edward, Royal Engineers
Herridge, John, Royal Engineers
Herridge, William, Royal Engineers
Higgs, Herbert, Army Service Corps
Hillyer, Tom (Sergt), Canadian Contingent
Harwood, Frederick, 12th Lancers
Hawes, William, Army Service Corps
Haig, John (Major), Westminster Dragoons
Hatch, John, Royal Berks
Harris, Theodore William, Royal Berks
Harris, Frederick, Royal Engineers
Mapp, Ernest, Royal Berks
Keen, Ernest, Royal Veterinary Corps
King, Edward James, Royal Navy
Jones, Frank, Royal Berks
Needham, Evelyn Jack (Lieut.), Northamptonshire Regiment
Needham, Robert Phillip (2nd Lieut.), Northamptonshire Regiment
Pither, Robert James, Enniskillen Dragoons
Pither, John Arthur, Royal Berks
Platt, Charles Frederick (Lance-Corporal), Royal Berks
Platt, Edwin, Royal Engineers
Phillips, Jeoffrey Francis (Captain), Duke of Cornwalls Light Infantry
Prior, Tom, Royal Berks
Sarney, Albert Edward, Royal Navy
Sarney, Francis, Grenadier Guards
Smith, Sidney Alfred, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Taylor, Archibald Henry, Motor Maxim-gun Service
Taylor, Stanley Ernest, Royal Field Artillery
Taylor, Richard Charles, Royal Field Artillery
Ward, Theodore Alfred, Royal Berks
Williams, Richard Freke Maxwell, Royal Naval Brigade
Weston, George, London Regiment
Wath, William, 11th Hussars
Yeo, William, Royal Engineers

With much regret we hear that Private James Andrews has been wounded. He is a member of our branch of the C.E.M.S., and his brother members will doubtless remember him in their prayers. We also hear that Privates C.J. Bowyer, E. Mapp, A. Brant, and W. Yeo have been ill in hospital, and Lieut. W.L. Clarke, whom we congratulate on his appointment to commission, has been unwell, but we are glad to say they are all better.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, June 1915 (D/P151/28A/17/6)

Much needed gifts for the Belgians via Harrods

People from Cranbourne and Chavey Down were generous in their gifts for our Belgian allies.

Chavey Down

The working party at Chavey Down have forwarded a nice parcel of very well made children’s clothes to the Belgian Refugees at Folkestone, where they are very much needed.

Cranbourne

The HARVEST THANKSGIVING SERVICES were held on October 5th. Only the East end and the Font were decorated with flowers. The real decorations of the Church were gifts from the congregation for the distressed in Belgium. A really remarkable response was made to the appeal for these gifts. Nine cases (kindly given by Mr. Laird) were delivered to Messrs. Harrods for shipment to Belgium. The driver of the van said “I am going back to London with almost as much as I started with.”

* * *

The following are the names of those from this Parish who are serving in His Majesty’s Forces:

Creasy G., Midshipman H. M. S. Conqueror.
Creasy, R., 2nd Lieut. R. F. A.
Haig, J., Major, Westminster Dragoons.
Needham, E. J., Lieut, Northamptonshire Regiment.
Needham, R. P., 2nd Lieut, Northamptonshire Regiment.
Phillips, E. H., D. S. O, Major R. F. A.
Phillips, R. N., Captain, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Phillips, G. F., Captain, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.
Andrews, James, Hampshire Regiment.
Barratt, Archibald Richard, National Reserve.
Beasley, T.
Brant, Ernest Harold.
Bish, Walter George, Army Service Corps.
Boyde, Albert Ernest, Army Service Corps.
Boyde, Edward Joseph, Royal Navy.
Clarke, Wilfred Lawson, Royal Berks Regiment.
Cox, Amariah, Royal Berks Regiment.
Curtis, Eric, Seaforth Highlanders.
George, William, Royal Artillery.
Goodchild, Charles.
Greenough, Edward, Royal Engineers.
Herridge, John, Royal Engineers.
Herridge, William, Royal Engineers.
Harwood, Frederick, 12th Lancers.
Higgs, Herbert, Army Service Corps.
Holliday, Walter George, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Harriss, Theodore William, Royal Berks Regiment.
Harriss, Frederick, Royal Engineers.
Hawthorn, George Albert, Royal Naval Flying Corps.
Hillyer, Tom, Canadian Contingent.
Mapp, Ernest, Royal Berks Regiment.
Pither, J. A., Royal Berks Regiment.
Pither, J., Enniskillen Dragoons.
Sarney, Albert Edward, Royal Navy.
Sarney, Francis, Grenadier Guards.
Searle, George, 2nd Life Guards.
Walls, Charles John, Royal Berks Regiment.
Walls, Leslie, Royal Berks Regiment.
Williams, R. F. Maxwell, Royal Naval Brigade.
Ward, Theodore Alfred, Royal Berks Regiment.
Weston, George.

* * *

C. E. M. S.
The annual business meeting was held on October 14th. After the Election of Officers and other business them embers and a few friends were shown some lantern slides illustrating the war in Belgium.

Chavey Down and Cranbourne sections of Winkfield District Magazine, November 1914 (D/P151/28A/6/11)

Tremendous fighting retreat from Mons

Florence Vansittart Neale continued to follow the war news. Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien led the retreat from Mons.

10 September 1914

Sir J. French’s 1st despatch in D.M. [Daily Mail?]. Tremendous fighting retreat from Mons. Most courageous. S. Dorrien. Haig specially mentioned. Allies still pursuing. No mention of Russians yet!

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)