“A torpedo boat came gliding in like a needle”

William Hallam was on holiday in Cornwall, but couldn’t escape the war.

William Hallam
16th July 1918

It was wet until dinner time then cleared and was a beautiful day. We had crabs for tea. This afternoon I took that book – rather big for a guide and went round identifying some of the old houses. The quaintest town – the old part – I was ever in but clean even in the lowest streets.

On the pier to-night we saw 2 merchant vessels come in for safety from the submarines and 3 chasers and then a torpedo boat came gliding in like a needle.

Florence Vansittart Neale
16 July 1918

Phyllis quite happy at 4 London General!…

Tzar shot by Bolshevists at Ekaterinberg.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8) and William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Advertisements

“For nearly four years he and others of a sensitive and refined nature fought suffered, bore the rough and tumble hardships of a private soldier, without recognition, without reward or any other distinction than that of doing their duty”

One of the first Earley men to join up in 1914 died at the hands of the influenza epidemic.


In Memoriam

Frank Earley died of influenza in Italy, June 13 1918.

Our readers will remember that in the May magazine we offered our best wishes to Pte. Frank Earley on his return to Italy after a brief and well earned spell of leave. He is gone from us now, not to return. In his home in Manchester Road, by his brothers in France and Italy, and by many friends his loss will be felt.

Always serious from the time he joined the choir as a little boy, as the years went on he took things more seriously, his character taking shape. In August 1914 he was just 18 years of age, and volunteered at once with his brother for service. After six months training he crossed to France. For nearly four years he and others of a like sensitive and refined nature fought suffered, bore the rough and tumble hardships of a private soldier, without recognition, without reward or any other distinction than that of doing their duty.

In the first year of the War commissions were not sought as they are now. Volunteers in the ranks made up the little army which went out to save England. We who knew Frank Earley well can picture him at his post; we knew he never flinched from what was hard, never swerved from what was straight. Thoughtful, modest, resolute – he bore this look in his quiet, almost suffering face, with the strong lines playing about his mouth.

On his last leave he was home for two Sundays. His pleasure at the play on Saturday night did not prevent his presence at the early Celebration at 7.30 the following morning; and on the second Sunday he made his Communion again at the same hour. In Italy he quickly won the admiration of his nurses in the hospital during the brief interval before he laid down his tired life. So passes another of those English boys who at the first responded to England’s call, and by an unselfish devotion to duty have earned themselves an imperishable name.

Short notes

We have heard from our old friend and choir-boy Mr Harry C Taylor who has served at the front in the Guards since 1914. He is presently in hospital in London after a bad attack of influenza.

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

There is no ground for complaint by German Prisoners of War

It looks as if some insane PoWs who had been treated at Broadmoor later complained about the conditions. The authorities disagreed.

Crowthorne War Hospital
Berks

12th July 1918

From Officer i/c Crowthorne War Hospital
To DDMS Aldershot

German Prisoners of War

With reference to your telephonic communication of today’s date I have the honour to state that there has been no insufficiency of warm clothing or lack of heat in this Institution.

There is no ground for complaint by German Prisoners of War who have left this Hospital.

[File copy not signed, but the letter is from Dr Baker]

Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)

Lavender Day

Ascot parishioners were asked to contribute lavender from their gardens in a novel fundaising idea.

The Parade Service of the R.A.F. now takes place in the Church at 9, instead of in the Cinema.

‘There will be a “Lavender Day” on July 20th in aid of the Five “Ascot” beds with the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in France, Corsica and Salonika, and the Berkshire War Prisoners’ Fund. Gifts of Lavender, fresh or dried, will be gratefully received by Miss Hanbury at Holmwood least a few Lavender bushes, and the smallest quantity will be welcome if sent promptly.

The Ascot Sailors and Soldiers Committee have been distributing the printed Cards, mentioned in our last issue, for relatives to post to men serving abroad. If any have not yet received a card in a stamped envelope ready to be addressed and sent along with an ordinary letter, they should apply at once to the member of the Committee in charge of their district as follows:

High Street – A.F. Bullock
H. Woods
London Road – H. Goswell
Fernbank Road – H.Tustin
Seinley and Priory Road – J. Skelton
New Road – H. Charman
A. Morton
Kennel Ride – A.Woods

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, July 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/6)

“A seething mass of Chinese & Prisoners of War”

Much of the behind the scenes work was undertaken by Chinese labourers.

Monday 1 July 1918

I did not have to get up very early as my duty for today consisted of taking 50 other ranks to Vendroux at 11 am. We had a long march of 6 kilos to get there, a hot & dusty road. Arrived at Vendroux, found it a seething mass of Chinese & P of War.

A desolate waste of burnt out hay ricks! About £300,000 damage by a spark! Party worked at filling trucks from 1.30 till 4. Tea & started march back.

A man named Nicker taken ill with PVO. It took 3 hours to see him into hospital. He kept almost ..[illegible due to bleed through from other side]…

Leave Calais tomorrow.

End of 12th week.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

In the heat of the hottest dog day, in one of the hottest rooms of this very hot town

Members of St John’s Church in Reading (now the Polish Catholic church, but then a Church of England one) supported the troops in prayer and by sewing clothes etc for the wounded.

ST JOHN’S CARE AND COMFORTS WORKING PARTY

The Care and Comforts Working Party still pursues its useful activities. Even in the heat of the hottest dog day, in one of the hottest rooms of this very hot town, a number of devoted ladies are to be found each Wednesday making various articles necessary to the comfort of the honoured wounded in our hospitals. Workers never fail, materials are always forthcoming, but the latter have to be paid for and the funds from time to time run short. Donations are always welcome, and should be sent to the Treasurer, Miss Rundell, 7 Alexandra Road.

List of the articles made this month: 1 shirt, 1 pyjama suit, 100 face cloths, 28 treasure bags, 44 sterilizing bags, 43 locker curtains, 17 cushion covers.

THE ROLL OF HONOUR FOR THE FALLEN

We have been asked why the Roll of Honour has been moved from its place by the South Door of the church to its present position in the North Transept. The answer is – in order that it may have a place all to itself with its own bracket for flowers and in a quiet part of the church where people may be sure of being undisturbed in their prayers.

The beautifully made oak bracket beneath the Roll of Honour is the kind gift of two friends who desire to remain anonymous.

Reading St. John parish magazine (D/P172/28A/24)

“Why should we all be potential thieves, liars, cads & scoundrels”

Sydney was uncharacteristically resentful of his superiors.

Wednesday 26 June 1918

When I got up today at 6.45 I felt just as scornful & uppish with everything in general as I did yesterday. Thus does ‘Flu’ play pranks with us. At 7.45 to MO’s inspection. A farce when I simply said ‘I am alright’ & walked off. At 8.5 listened to a long long harangue from the Base Colonel. I cannot understand why such an attitude as he took up should be necessary. Why should we all be potential thieves, liars, cads & scoundrels. At any rate I shall be anxious to prove myself otherwise!

5 pm I am up in the little turret at the top of the Fleche of Rouen Cathedral. A wonderful view. 500 feet or more up. Had dinner at Club. Had a long talk with a staff Major. Afterwards went to a picture show to rest my weary legs. Very boring.

Back to camp by 10 pm. Saw men & dogs being tossed in a blanket. I go away tomorrow. To bed & read more of Tartarin sur les Alpes.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

“He has had the good fortune to be drafted to Reading for treatment”

There was news of several of the soldiers from Reading’s Broad Street Congregational Church.

PERSONAL

We should like to offer our somewhat belated, but very sincere, congratulations to Captain Horace Beer of the RAF on his promotion. Captain Beer obtained his captaincy, it appears, several months ago; but it was only recently that the news reached us. He is now serving at the headquarters of the RAF and he has our best wishes for the future.

News has been received that Private E. Layton Francis has been wounded. He was serving with the London Scottish in Palestine, and many of our readers have enjoyed his vivid descriptions of places and people, which have appeared from time to time in these pages. Private Francis is now in one of the Stationary Hospitals in Gaza, suffering from a gunshot wound in his right arm. Beyond this there is no further information at the moment. We hope, however, that the wound is not serious, and that our friend may have a speedy recovery. Meanwhile we express our sympathy with Mr and Mrs Ernest Francis and their family in their anxiety.

Private F. W. Snell has been seriously wounded in the head and face while fighting in France. He has had the good fortune to be drafted to Reading for treatment and is now lying in No. 1 War Hospital. He is making good progress. We earnestly hope it may continue, and that before long we may see him back in our midst.

We are glad to see our young friend, Private George Hathaway, back at Broad Street. Private Hathaway was training with the Royal Warwicks, but he has been on the sick list for some time, and has now obtained his discharge. We trust that before long he may be restored to health.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

We deeply regret to have to report the death of Brother Ernest Ward of Westfield Road, Caversham, who recently died of wounds….

Our musical director and choirmaster, Brother Wynton-Turner, will have commenced his military duties by the time these notes are in the hands of our readers. We wish him every success.

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

“I have never felt so demoralised & depressed since I have been in France as I felt today”

Sydney was designated well enough to return to duty.

Tuesday 25 June 1918

Today came the word! I got up at 7. My chest was pretty sore with coughing, but I felt annoyingly fit when the doctor came round. He looked at me, smiled sweetly, & apologising gently told me in military language, ie, scribbled all over my temperature chart in blue pencil the word ‘Duty’ – that he would rather have my room than my company.

So at two, once more I got into an ambulance car & now am at DIBD camp out by the racecourse. Now I am in Rouen again to tea. After tea went over the famous St Ouen church. Very ‘self contained’ & ‘self possessed’. A very perfect example of Gothic in its great days. Got back to camp at 7.

After dinner to bed & read some more Tartarin de Tarascon sur les Alpes. I have never felt so demoralised & depressed since I have been in France as I felt today.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

“On the 3rd day one is terror stricken at the idea that they may take one to be a malingerer”

Sydney had the chance to do some sightseeing and wrote to his sister.

Monday 24 June 1918

I thought that the word would go forth today but it didn’t! I got up to breakfast feeling extraordinarily cheap & depressed. At tea the ‘chirpy’ doctor saw me & pronounced me fit to go down into Rouen. I spent the morning getting dressed.

After lunch went with the red haired Flying Corps boy to Rouen. First of all to Cox’s where I got a cheque changed. Afterwards to Ordnance on the other side of the river via a bridge with a hanging carriage called the [blank]. Then back & over Rouen Cathedral. I recognised it as though I had seen it before. Went up to top of fleche. A wonderful view. Saw Coeur de Lion’s tomb, and a wonderful alabaster tomb of two cardinals.

Back to hospital by 6 pm. Feeling very tired. Got round the sisters to let me have dinner in the ward. To bed at 8. Wrote to Florence & to Mother & Father. Read Tartarin sur les Alpes.

June 24th
My Dearest Florence

The Postman will soon whisk through the ward saying letters letters & tear off & not wait for anyone. So just a hurried line.
I have had a slight form of Trench Fever lasting 3 days. First day one feels like nothing, absolutely nothing. Temperature goes up to 103, etc.

2nd day one wonders if one really did feel yesterday & how in the name of fortune one has got past the doctors into hospital.
On the 3rd day one is terror stricken at the idea that they may take one to be a malingerer.

This form of FUO (fever of unknown origin) is very prevalent. You get fever shivers, backache, headache, pain behind eyes, & coughing. There now isn’t that field of symptoms in which dear little Mother might disport herself.

Well, I am up now, got up yesterday for the first time. Feel a bit rocky, stupidly low in morale (it has same effect on life’s outlook as Influenza!) & a bit peevish of a mornin’ me dear.

Here comes that dratted postman.

Write me always to old address

Your always affectionate

Brer
Sydney

7.30 am

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); and letter (D/EZ177/8/3/46)

“This lying by & doing nothing, just resting resting resting has been not only a bodily but a true mental rest, & I would almost have wished my fever had lasted a bit longer”

Sydney was beginning to feel a little better.

Sunday 23 June 1918

Had a rather broken night. 50 officers came in with PVO, which rather created a flutter, & also I had a lot of stupid dreams. In consequence thereof I woke up with a very thick headache and feeling generally a bit peevish but this wore off.

At 6 my temperature was taken again. 98 something or other. Doctor when he saw me said I could get up so I went down to the stores & rescued my kit. Felt more like fainting with weakness but got me up & felt a little stronger each moment although I felt ridiculously peevish & weary. Thus does illness play with one’s fancies.

Lunch downstairs. Didn’t like going down much. My dear old diary, truth to tell, this lying by & doing nothing, just resting resting resting has been not only a bodily but a true mental rest, & I would almost have wished my fever had lasted a bit longer.

Played a game or two at Patience. By the way my bed is No. 11 & I am in ward OI, Rouen.

End of 11th week.

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15)

“Indignant that the Boshe should dare to shell when I was going away to be ill”

Sydney had gone down with the dreaded influenza, and suffered through a horrendous journey to get to hospital.

Written in Base Hospital, Rouen

No one could be more surprised than I am, my dear diary! It is now Saturday afternoon [22 June] & I am lying in a clean green tented ward with pretty chintz curtains at the windows suffering with PVO, this being the common or garden fever of unknown origin.

Here is the history of my movements from when I left off on Wednesday night. I had a curious night. Guns behind us very noisy owing to ‘Chinese Bombardment’ being put up. At 8 breakfast was brought in, & I could not eat it. Took a morning parade but felt mighty seedy.

After lunch lay on my valise & from then on till 7.30 when the doctor came it was one long nightmare. My temperature went up in leaps & bounds. My back ached, I shivered, my head was splitting, I had a hacking cough, & felt extraordinarily weak if I tried to walk. Doctor packed me off. Here is detail how one gets to base-hospital.

1. Doctor sent for stretcher bearers.
2. I was carted off to Battalion HQ.
3. Red X Ambulance car whisked me off to Hedanville.
4. Another car took me to Div. clearing station.
5. Another car took me to 3rd (Brit) Officers CCS at a place called Sezincourt. Here I spent the night between sheets in a massive old chateau looking out over great parklands.
6. At 9 am off in another ambulance car & planked onto an ambulance train.
7. Then 15 long long hours while the train tried its hardest not to get to Rouen.
8. At last the train stopped & a voice from the open called out peremptorily “Ere Bill let’s ‘ave them 21 officers!”

It was raining then. Car brought me here & when I tumbled into these sheets at 12.15 this morning I was not unthankful. I have had my temperature taken umpteen times. It was up to 102.8 when taken at Hedanville but it had commenced abating by then. We were stuck at Hedanville by heavy shelling. I got impatient being of course light headed & felt indignant that the Boshe should dare to shell when I was going away to be ill. However at last after a decidedly near & unpleasing zzzzz bong! our car gathered its legs well under & scuttled, & the next shell rounded far behind by the time it came along.

It is getting on for tea time & I have only just got hold of my kit, & you. I am reading a stupid book called “An Adventuress”! To sleep at about 9 at night. My temperature about normal. 99.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

“I witnessed all the terrific bombardment from land and sea against the Gaza defences, and shall never forget the awful spectacle”

A Maidenhead man bears witness to the fighting in Palestine.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Reginald Hill has left Sheffield Hospital, and hoped to have left hospitals for ever, but very shortly after getting home he had a slight relapse, and at the time of writing is a patient at Cliveden. We hope his stay there will be very brief.

Harold Islip is in hospital at Trouville, suffering from trench fever. He expects shortly to be in training for a Commission.

Ernest Bristow will probably be at Cliveden by the time this has reached our readers’ hands.

George Ayres has been transferred to a Field Company of the Engineers, and is at Anglesey.

Reginald Hamblin is in a Flying Corps, and is training at Totteridge.

Herbert Hodgson is in a camp near Salisbury Plain.

Benjamin Gibbons is in Ireland.

Leonard Beel sends a letter (which has evidently had a soaking in sea water) with vivid account of what he has seen in Palestine. He says:

“I witnessed all the terrific bombardment from land and sea against the Gaza defences, and shall never forget the awful spectacle. Afterwards I had a good look around Gaza, and saw the results of the bombardment, but unfortunately missed the several interesting spots associated with Samson’s career through want of a guide.”

He speaks, too, of visiting Ashdod, Lydda, the Vale of Ajalon, and Jaffa, where Simon the tanner entertained Peter, and where Dorcas was raised.

“The native villages,” he says, “are picturesque from a distance only. Inside they are usually worse than any English slum, full of filth and squalor. It is months ago since I last saw an Arab with a clean face.”

His one regret is that he has missed seeing Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

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

Reflected glory

A Reading man was honoured for his heroic acts.

Trinity Roll of Honour

Sidney A. Bushell, R.A.F.
Walter John Harvey, A.S.C.
A. Vernon Lovegrove, R.G.A.
Ernest Pocock, 2/6 Warwicks.
Howard H. Streeter, M.G.C.
William Vincent, W.R.B.
Jack Wakefield, Royal Warwicks.
William Alfred Williams, 313th Reserve Labour Battalion.

We are delighted to hear that Lieut. John A. Brain had safely reached Reading on Tuesday, May 21st, and was being cared for, within reach of his friends, at No.1 War Hospital. After a few days his progress became less satisfactory, and on Tuesday, May 28th, his condition was again giving cause for anxiety. A further operation was found to be necessary, and we are more than glad to be able to report, at the time of going to press, was that the operation had been carried out quite successfully, and that he is now doing well.

Our heartiest congratulations to Lce-Corpl. Herbert E. Longhurst, on being awarded the Military Medal, “for his gallantry on March 25th, 1918, when be assisted to save a badly wounded officer under heavy machine gun fire and a fast advancing enemy. Later he rendered great assistance in rallying troops and stragglers, and worked hard on a trench system.”

Our quotation is taken from the white card expressing the appreciation of his Divisional Commander, which has been forwarded to his friends by the Major Commanding his Company, together with “the congratulations of all his old comrades in the company,” on his well-merited honour. We understand that Lce.-Corpl. Longhurst is in hospital somewhere in France, making a good recovery from the effects of German gas.

We trust that he may soon be fully restored to health, and can tell him that we at Trinity are taking to ourselves a little reflected glory and we are all the better and happier for it.

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

“May his sacrifice not be in vain!”

There was sad news for many Reading families.

The Vicar’s Notes

Intercessions

Let us remember in our prayers all our fighting men, especially, among the prisoners, Alfred Standbridge, of Boarded Lane, one of our server; Roy Russell, of Minster Street; Walter Nunn of Hope Street (also wounded); Frank Thomas, of Lavender Street.

The Fallen, especially Norman Day, of Anstey Road (died of wounds); Arthur Walley, of Bartlett’s Cottages, killed in action on Easter Day; George Gardiner, Of Lavender Place (died from wounds).
R.I.P.

All Saints District
List of Men Serving in His Majesty’s forces

We shall be very grateful for additions or corrections to our list so that it may be kept up to date.

We offer our deepest sympathy to one of the oldest members of the choir, Mr Sales, on the loss of a second son. Percy Sales was well known in the district and will be much missed. – R.I.P.

We would also offer our deepest sympathy to Mrs. Austen Leigh and family on the death of her youngest son Acting Captain Arthur Alexander Austen Leigh who was killed in action on May 11th. – R.I.P.

S. Saviours District
R.I.P.

Frank Chard, an old S. Saviours lad, has laid down his life in France. He had served in the army for some time during the war and had only recently returned to the front after his marriage. We feel much with his wife and family who mourn his loss, and also with the army who have lost in him a good soldier. May his sacrifice not be in vain!


Lads Club

We are very sorry to hear that Bert Griffin is dangerously ill in hospital in France; we hope his slight improvement will be maintained. Ben Josey is still very ill. G. Mittam, W. Sawyer are slowly recovering from their wounds. L. Shipway has quite recovered and others who are in H.M.Forces are doing well.

Our Soldiers

Edward James Bonny and Frederick Hearn are prisoners and Charles and James Wayman are missing. William Jessy and Arthur Dye and George Ward are sick, and Tom Josey wounded. They need our prayers.

Sidesman

Mr George Wells has to rejoin the Army at the end of May, but tho’ we shall lose his faithful services for the time being, we shall count him as one of our S. Saviour’s Sidesmen, and one and all wish him well.

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