“He was looking worn and depressed at his last leave”

There was news of a number of Maidenhead men, many wounded or ill. One had suffered a nervous breakdown.


Reginald Hill was able to pay a surprise visit of four days to his home, in the midst of his long and weary hospital experiences. He was looking well, considering all that he has borne, but he has one or two more operations yet to undergo. He spoke of a hope that he might be home shortly after Easter.

Ernest Bristow is progressing favourably, but the latest report that reached us spoke of another operation. He seems to be in excellent spirits.

Ben Gibbons is in hospital at Southall, suffering from debility. He was looking worn and depressed at his last leave, from which he had only got back to duty about a fortnight when he broke down and was sent to England, or rather (as we ought to say) Blighty.

Sydney Eastman is in hospital at Chatham, sent home for bronchitis. We may hope to see him shortly. The Medical Board decided that he could not stand the climate at the place where he was stationed.

W. Cleal is in hospital. No particulars known.

David Dalgliesh has received an appointment as Instructor at the Flying School at Winchester.

Hugh Lewis has been at home for a fortnight’s leave in excellent health.

Charles Catliff, too, has been home for his first leave; most of his time he spent at Bucklebury with his mother, who has been seriously ill.

Cyril Laker has had the thrilling experience of being torpedoed in the Mediterranean.

Herbert Brand has received a Commission, and when we last saw him was hoping to be attached to the 4th Berks.

Since the above was in type, a letter has been received from P.A. Eastman. He says:

“The mails where I came from have been very erratic, and some have been lost, including unfortunately the Christmas parcels. Davy Jones is now richer than all the other members of the great family of that name put together, to their and some other people’s impoverishment! ……

The medical authorities have thought it best to send me back after the first year out in the East; doubtless they have a reason. But I am glad to say I am now fairly fit, and hope to improve rapidly under the less trying conditions of English life. Very kind greetings to all West Street friends.”

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, March 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)


Till we meet again


Private Charles Holloway has long been reported missing, and the War Office has now sent an intimation that he must be “assumed killed in action.” Our deep sympathy is with his widow, and his parents, who have now lost three sons in this war.

Lance-Corporal Leonard Cox has been wounded and is now in hospital in England and is progressing favourably.

We were glad to welcome home on leave this month Privates Broadbent, F. Johnson, and J. Sumner.

The Vicar has received the sum of £1 from sale of waste paper collected in the parish, and this money has been devoted to providing comforts for our two prisoners of war in Germany, Privates W. Harwood and F. Onion.

We hope to send to all our men who are serving an Easter card of greeting with the message “May the Risen Christ, who left His home for us, have you in His keeping till we meet again”; and the assurance that we shall be remembering them at our Easter Communion.

Winkfield section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, March 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/3)

Flag waving children greet the Royal Family

Reading children were excited to witness a royal visit.

George Palmer Boys’ School
12th March 1918

Visit to Reading of H.M. King George & H.M. Queen Mary. Assembled school at 9.30 and marched along Elgar Rd, Field Road, Carey St. & Howard St to Oxford Road, lining the street between the premises of Messrs Callas, Sons & May Ltd, and Messrs Dunlops Ltd. The royal party was seen on its way to No.1 War Hospital & on its return. Flags were kindly lent to the boys by Mr Drew, proprietor R.F.S.C.

St Giles Boys’ School, Reading
12th March 1918

Boys were allowed to go to Jackson’s Corner to see HM the King and his Queen. They returned to school.

Battle Infants School
15th March 1918

The Head Mistress was not in school till 1.50 o’clock on Tuesday [12 March] as permission was granted to witness the ceremony of the reception of representative inhabitants and war workers of the town, by their Majesties, the King and Queen, in the Town Hall.

Redlands Boys’ School, Reading
March 12th 1918
The School marched to Broad Street marching at 1.55, in order to see the King and Queen passing the factory. At 3.30 the Scholars returned and were dismissed when close to the School.

Alfred Sutton Primary School, Reading
12th March 1918

The Infants’ school is very small on account of the King’s visit, the Junior pupils are being taken by the teachers to see the procession.

Sonning CE Girls and Infants
12th March 1918

School closed for children to see the King in Reading.

Lower Sandhurst School
March 12th 1918

I was absent from school during the latter part of the afternoon as I was attending a War Savings Conference at Wellington.

Log books of George Palmer Boys’ School (89/SCH/8/1, p. 149); Reading St Giles Boys School (R/ES2/9, p. 259); Reading: Battle Infants School (SCH20/8/2, p. 312); Redlands Boys’ School, Reading (86/SCH/3/30, p. 335)Alfred Sutton Primary School log book (89/SCH/37/1, p. 246); Sonning CE Girls and Infants’ School (89/SCH/1/4, p. 284); Lower Sandhurst School (C/EL66/1, p. 429)

None the worse for two years as a prisoner of war

We get a glimpse into wartime in a peaceful art of British-occupied Africa (now part of Tanzania). The Ruvuma River forms the bundary between Tanzania and Mozambique, which was in 1918 still a Portugese colony.

1-3-18. Massassie.
29th M.A Convoy
British East Africa

Dear Sir,

It is not some time since I wrote to you last, but trust you received my letter in answer to your most welcome letter of 6-8-17. Since writing to you last I have travelled the greater part of this country, the South of Central Railway, I have been over the Ruvoma river into Portuguese territory, but am now back in East Africa.

During the last few months I have had rather a busy time, and have also had my share of illness. I am picking up quickly again now, and feel as full of life as ever. The weather is still very hot. We have had very little rain this season so far: this time last year we were having very heavy rains and were stranded in the swamp for quite a month at a time.

I expect to be going on leave to South Africa some time this month; there are only 5 of us left out of 22 who left England 2 years ago, so I think we shall stand a chance of leave this rainy season.

There is very little game in this part of she country but about 50 miles from here, near the Border almost everything can be seen.

Football is the great game at present as the evenings are very cool now. Our Unit has started a Weekly Paper which is a great success throughout the camp, it is called the “Masassi Times”. If possible I will send you a copy which I am sure you will find very interesting, in fact we can boast the wit of two famous brother Comedians. We are having a very busy time just at present, for the sick average is very high again now, 3-3-18.

It is now Sunday afternoon, tonight we have another service which will be taken by the Rev. Archdeacon Hallet in a Banda at our park. I have had several talks with him, he tells me he has preached at Sunningdale and Ascot and remembered our church when I showed him a photo which I received from home a few months ago. He has been a prisoner in the country for 2 years, but he seems none the worse for his experience, for he is now back at the same Mission as before the war, which is only 4 miles from our camp. The Mission has been used for a hospital by both the Germans and ourselves, but is now given over for its work to be carried on.

It is a lovely building built of stone and brick by the natives, it is built on a hill only a few yards from a great rock several hundred feet high. Looking from a distance the rock appears to overhang the Mission. We have one of these great rocks on all four sides of us, with just a road running between, which is called Bhna. Some of the greatest fights of the campaign took place here, which makes it very historical.

We had a Native Regimental Band here for 2 nights last week, which we all enjoyed being the first we had seen or heard since landing in the country. The natives are very busy with their crops now, most of the land being very fertile, we are able to grow almost anything in the garden we’ve made, but our great trouble is to get the seed. Shops of any description are unheard of in this country so you can imagine our solitude. I think it will appear very strange but pleasant to us all when we get down to South Africa on leave.

I am so pleased to hear that Mrs. Cornish and Miss Mirriam are enjoying good health, please convey my best wishes to everyone at the vicarage. I will now conclude, thanking you for your kindness and trusting you are in the best of health,

Yours sincerely,

W. R. Lewis.

Sunningdale parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P150B/28A/10)

“He has had one of his legs amputated, but is going on well”

Several Bracknell men had been killed or very badly injured.

We have to record the death of three Bracknell men who were on active service.

Sapper Alfred Brant, R.E., was killed on 1st December, 1917. His officer wrote that he was killed instantanously, and said that he had rendered very valuable service and had just been nominated as an N.C.O.

Private Henry Fletcher was in the Royal Berks; he died of fever at Salonika on January 1st.

Corporal A.F. Davis, 2/4 Royal Berks, was killed on January 20th. His mother has received a letter from the Chaplain who buried him, in which he says that he was a very fine soldier and very popular with all. Before the war he was a policeman in the Berks Constabulary.

Trooper Richard Legge, Berks Yeomanry is reported missing since 27th November. He was serving in Palestine.

Sergt. F. Mutlow, R. Scots Fusiliers, was seriously wounded on December 14th. He has had one of his legs amputated, but is going on well, and is in hospital at Liverpool.

Bracknell section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, February 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10)

“If a sufficient number could spare one vegetable a week instead of one or two giving a large quantity the result would be very satisfactory”

A soldier stationed in Italy wanted to play football with his friends.

Crazies Hill Notes

Contributions of Vegetables for Wargrave Hospital will be gladly received on the Tuesday, during the Working Party. One vegetable will be very acceptable. If a sufficient number could spare one vegetable a week instead of one or two giving a large quantity the result would be very satisfactory.

Hare Hatch Notes

A Letter has been received from Sergt. W. Rixon, who is stationed in Italy, asking for a football. We are sure that the kindness of those friends who contributed to this need, will be greatly valued by him.

Wargrave parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

“Some “Johnny Turk” thought it was time I had one”

A Reading man who had been wounded was back in the fray, fighting in the Middle East.

Feb 21st

You will be pleased to hear that I have quite recovered from my wound and that I am now back up the line once again amongst the boys, feeling absolutely in the best of health. We were in some very hot fighting about nine miles north of Jerusalem, on the 21st November, when some “Johnny Turk” thought it was time I had one. I was wounded in the left thigh and right hip, and was very fortunate to have no bones broken. I spent Xmas in hospital at Alexandria having a top-hole time, and went to a Convalescent Home just outside Alexandria the first day of this year….

We are some miles behind our new line doing some very hard training, but you can guess we do not mind that after the hard and rough times we had in the great advance…

W. Palmer (OS)

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, June 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Wounded soldiers in a farce

Struan House in Maitland Road, Reading, was one of the big houses used as hospitals for soldiers. Some of the walking wounded were improving well enough to take part in local life.

Short notes

We welcome Nurse Sturges back from France for a while.

We also regret to learn that Pte. W Waters has been wounded and has been sent to Base hospital. We sincerely hope the wound is a slight one. Up to the time of printing, Mrs Waters had only received a field card dictated by her husband, and characteristicly (sic) making the best of it.


The last month saw a good many of these. First in order came the annual gathering of the Mothers’ Meeting in the Parish Hall, a packed room of over 200 persons with a most excellent programme. The tea of course was dispensed with. The chief feature of the evening’s amusement was a farce entitled “Mary’s sister John” performed by wounded soldiers from Struan House Auxiliary Hospital, Lce.Corp A Snow, Pte. Kirkham, Pte. J Whyte, Pte. E P Proctor and Pte. Newman. The part of the widow was played by Pte Whyte, Lucy by Pte Proctor, Mary by Pte Newman, Septimus Liverpad by Pte. Kirkham, Jack by LceCorp Snow. The farce was extraordinarily amusing from start to finish.

Earley St Bartholomew parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P192/28A/15)

He went up the trenches and 48 hours later had died of wounds

Reading churchgoers were encouraged to pray for our oppressed allies.

S. Mary’s (Lent 1918)

In connection with the war

Sundays The gaining of a permanent peace.
Mondays Our own sailors, soldiers and Airmen.
Tuesdays All war workers, men and women at home and abroad.
Wednesdays The sick, wounded and prisoners, and anxious and bereaved on both sides.
Thursdays Our allies, and more particularly the oppressed nationalities of Belgium, Serbia, Roumania, Montenegro, Poland, Armenia and the populations of occupied territories of France and Italy.
Fridays Our enemies.
Saturdays The fallen.

Our heartiest congratulations to Lady Carrington, whose second son Lieut. C. W. Carrington of the Grenadier Guards has recently been awarded the Distinguished Service Order. It will be remembered that her eldest son also gained the D.S.O. and the youngest son the Military Cross.

Our deepest sympathy has been given to Mrs Montague Brown, on the death of her husband. He went up the trenches on a certain date, and news came forty eight hours later that he had died of wounds. May the God of all comfort console those who are mourning his loss!

S. Saviours District
Our hearty congratulations to Lieut. Fred White on gaining the Military Cross and to Corporal Will Taylor on gaining the D.C.M., and being now out of Hospital.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P98/28A/13)

Hospital accommodation for disabled soldiers and sailors who have been discharged

Some servicemen who were not going to recover their full health were discharged from the forces – but still needed medical care.

8th February 1918
Ministry of Pensions, Letter from.
A letter from the Ministry of Pensions re. Hospital accommodation for disabled soldiers and sailors who have been discharged was considered by the Board, and it was decided on the proposition of Capt Pretyman & seconded by the Revd. C. Fry that the Board offer 4 beds after the War for the same.

Maidenhead Cottage Hospital governors’ minutes (D/H1/1/2, p. 354)

“For twelve hours on end we were serving men who had just come out alive, though not unscarred, from one of the most terrible battles of this most terrible of all wars”

An account of life at one of the YMCA Huts close to the front lines.

“Four Months in Trinity Hut.”

My second period of service with the Y.M.C.A. at the front is now a thing of the past, and I can never say enough to express my gratitude to the friends who made it possible for me to answer the clearest call that ever yet came to me. Looking back on those four months there is no doubt in my mind that they held what was in many ways the greatest experience and supreme opportunity of my life up to now.

It is of course out of the question for me to convey here an adequate idea or connected account of those experiences. Apart from the limited space, very strict regulations forbid me to print anything of a military or even semi-military character. But in my two lectures at Park [Congregational Church, Reading] on January 9th and 16th, and on Sunday afternoons at the Institute I was able to say something about the ordinary workaday life and work at Trinity Hut, and also about sundry adventures that befell me out there.

Speaking quite generally, this visit was from my point of view far and away more satisfactory than was even my last. There was much less in proportion of the mere manual drudgery, such as could be done as well or better by orderlies. As leader of our own hut, one had of course far more initiative, and fuller opportunities for the kind of service that one was most anxious to render. The chief of these were those afforded by our Sunday evening services which will remain with me as priceless memory so long as I live, those and the many chances of quiet personal talks with the men who are bearing the brunt of the present conflict.

It was a very great delight to see and welcome quite a number of our Trinity boys. In this respect my one great disappointment was quickly merged into something far deeper – the sense of irreparable loss and personal sorrow on Learning that the meeting with Wilfred Drake, to which we had looked forward so eagerly, was not to be. He was taken from us on the very day of my arrival at Trinity Hut, not more than three miles or so from its doors; and there are many of us for whom Trinity will never be quite the same, without his bright smile and cheery voice and loyal comradeship in all good things.

Where every day was packed with work and events of the most absorbing interest, it is not easy to make a selection for special reference; but perhaps the most outstanding feature of all was our work among the wounded. During the September fighting we opened a large marquee half-a-mile or so from the hut, at a dressing station in the village. There many hundreds of walking wounded passed through our hands on their way back to the Hospitals behind the lines, in the base towns, or (the lucky ones) in “dear old Blighty.” I shall never forget those days, still less those nights, when sometimes for twelve hours on end we were serving men who had just come out alive, though not unscarred, from one of the most terrible battles of this most terrible of all wars.

I am glad to be able to reproduce on the adjoining page some sketches and outlines drawn by Mr. Cecil Dunford – the first leader of our Hut – which will convey a better of its general shape and proportions than any mere verbal description. The original will, I hope, be framed and hung up in due course somewhere on Church premises.

And now glad as I am to have that priceless experience, I am no less glad to be home again, and back at work which lies so near my heart and among the friends to whose loyalty and patience I owe so much. May God help us all be brave and faithful in these great, stern, tragic, faithful times. To Him let us commit ourselves and our sacred cause, putting all our trust in him, and praying for fulfilment in us of the ancient promise, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

Trinity Congregational Magazine, February 1918 (D/EX1237/1)

“We had just got back from a very rough time up the line, and a cake comes in very nice after one has been on biscuit and bully beef for some time.”

Christmas cake was much appreciated behind the front line.

The Vicar has received many letters from our men who are fighting for us or are in training. They all ask for their thanks to be conveyed to all their Cranbourne friends who joined in sending them the cake and Christmas card.

The following extracts from some of the letters may be of interest.

“Please convey my best thanks to my Cranbourne friends for their kindness in sending me the cake and Christmas card. I am sure the gift will be fully appreciated by all to whom it was sent.”

I appreciated the cake very much for it brought with it memories of the dear old village, where we all hope, if it is God’s will, to meet again and enjoy the benefits of an honourable and lasting peace. I offer to Cranbourne friends many thanks.”

“It is quite a treat to get something to remind one of Blighty.”

“It is nice to feel that one is not forgotten”

“The cake arrived in good condition and was quite a treat, for we don’t get many of those nowadays. It makes it seem like home to have one.”

“The cake was all the more welcome as it was so unexpected and came at a time when we had just got back from a very rough time up the line, and a cake comes in very nice after one has been on biscuit and bully beef for some time.”

We are sorry to hear that Rifleman Ernest Jones is ill in Hospital in Egypt and that Private Alfred Jones is a prisoner in Germany.

News has come that Private W.W. Goodchild previously reported missing is now “assumed killed in action” on the 28th of April, 1917. Our deep sympathy is with Mr. and Mrs. Goodchild in their sorrow.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, February 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10)

A great honour and a proud record

A Berkshire landowner’s wife was only the fifth woman in the country to be awarded the title of Dame – equivalent of a man being knighted. Men from the are were also being honoured for their roles.


The great honour that has been conferred upon the lady now to be known as Dame Edith Benyon, is of importance to other parishes besides Englefield. Apart from the share in this honour that the county justly claims, a considerable portion of Sulhamstead belongs to, and is farmed by, the Englefield estate, and Sulhamstead has its own reasons for being glad. Apart from Queen Alexandra, only four other ladies in the United Kingdom have received this honour.

We take the liberty of quoting the following, which is appearing in the Englefield Parish Magazine:


It was a great honour that the King conferred on the lady who now enjoys the above title. It means that she has been appointed a Dame of the Grand Cross of the British Empire, for her services in connection with the VAD work at the Englefield Hospital, as well as in the County. It is, we need scarcely say, a well-deserved reward for her untiring services. Dame Edith looks upon it as an honour not only to herself, but to the village and the County of Berkshire. It may be useful here to mention that letters should be addressed to her, ‘Dame Edith Benyon, GBE’ on the envelope, and inside she will be addressed as ‘Dear Dame Edith’. So her old title of ‘Mrs Benyon’ will be dropped for good and all.”

Flight-Lieutenant Jock Norton has received a Bar to his Military Cross for recent military services.

Private William Marlow has been awarded the Military Medal in France, and was to have returned home to have it presented to him, but has now been sent to another front.

The following from the “Westminster Gazette” will greatly interest all who remember Sir Reginald Bacon, when in the old days, as nephew of Major Thoyts, he used to visit at Sulhamstead House.

“Another change is announced in the appointment of Vice-Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon as Controller of the Munitions Inventions Department, for which office he gives up his command of the Dover Patrol. Despite the fact that thousands of men are crossing between this country and France every day, he can claim that no life has been lost in the cross-Channel traffic from Folkestone or Dover during that time. That is a proud record, and if his successor achieves as much we shall have every reason for satisfaction.”

Lieutenant H A Benyon has been gazetted Captain.

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

Time is on our side for a chance of lasting peace and assured freedom

Bad news for Caversham people was countered by hopes that the end was in sight.


The Archbishop of York, in his new year’s letter to his Diocese after reviewing the military and economic situation to-day, says that all shows as clearly as ever that time is on our side. Therefore it is a question of steadfast endurance. Accordingly, the enemy is busy everywhere encouraging the belief that the time has come to negotiate for peace. For he knows that an inconclusive peace would leave his military system and prestige able to hold up its head and prepare for another day. Let us not fall into his trap. We want a peace that will endure.

But, continues the archbishop, I still believe what I said last year that “to negotiate about peace when the ‘will to war’ (the Prussian Spirit) is still able to vaunt its strength, would only be to give it time to renew its power and prolong its menace”….

If we are hereafter to say of war “never again” I cannot tell how I would shrink from this conclusion when I think of the sorrows and sacrifices, many of which I cannot share, which it involves. But we seem to be drawn to it by all that we owe to the memories of the past and the hopes of the future. These, then, seem to be the alternatives between which 1918 must decide – either faltering of spirit with its attendant divisions and recriminations, and as a result some kind of inconclusive peace, or firmness of spirit with its attendant unity and trust. And as its ultimate result, a decision which will give the world a chance of lasting peace and assured freedom.


It is with very much regret that we announce that Mr. Brancker has been invalided home, and will probably have to resign his Chaplaincy. On leaving here he was at first appointed a chaplain to a Military Hospital at Sheffield. After some months there he was sent to France, but he had not been abroad more than a few weeks when an attack of his old enemy gastritis caused him to be sent back home to a hospital in England, but this time as a patient. He is now undergoing treatment at his home, but it will be some months at least before he is able once more to undertake ordinary Parish work. We all extend to him our sincerest sympathy and wish him a speedy and complete recovery.

Parish Church (St. Peter’s)

The war continues to take its dreadful toll of human lives, and among them is that of L./Cpl. A.G.W. Gibbons (Artists’ Rifles), of 33, South View Avenue, on July 16th. The only son of one of our most devoted Church Families, a server and Sunday School Teacher; he gave high promise of future usefulness. And therefore, there is more than ordinary sorrow at his death, and more than ordinary sympathy with his bereaved parents. – R.I.P.

Caversham parish magazine, January 1918 (D/P162/28A/7)

“We want every penny now to enable us to win peace through a final and decisive victory”

Several Reading families had heard the worst news, while sacrifices were being made at home.

In accordance with the directions of the Food Controller, there will be no Sunday School teas this Christmas season, but the usual prize-givings will be held, and though there will be no systematic collection throughout the Parish, any contributions sent to the Rev. W. J. Holloway will be added to the Prizes’ Fund…

I propose, too, to keep Sunday, January 27th, as a day for stimulating self-sacrifice of our people in the manner of War Saving. We want every penny now to enable us to win peace through a final and decisive victory.

Thanksgiving: For the entry of the British into Jerusalem – the Holy City.

Intercessions: For the troops on the Western Front this critical time. For the fallen – especially George Colvill and Edward Adbury, of Soho Street. R.I.P. For Leslie Allen, one of our Servers, ill in hospital of Salonika.

Our truest sympathies go out to Mr. Swain, one of our Sidesmen and the Foreman of our bellringers, and his wife, on the death of their son George, who was killed in action in Palestine on November 29th. George Swain was always the straightest of lads, and one of our most faithful and regular Altar-servers. God rest his soul.

Henry John Coggs has, we regret to hear, been killed in France. Our deep sympathy is with his parents and family. He leaves an orphan child.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, January 1918 (D/P116B/28A/2)