The honourable list of those who have laid down their lives for their country and the right

A Burghfield woman volunteered to help behind the lines in wartorn Serbia.

THE WAR

Honours and Promotions

Mr J Rapley has been appointed “Warrant Mechanician” (HMS Superb)

Casualties

Captain G O W Willink, MC, 2/4th Berks, killed in action, 28th March

Private J W Cox, 1st Royal Berks, died under operation for wounds (April)

William Duffin, Royal Berks, died in hospital (pneumonia)

Albert Hathaway, Royal Berks, killed in action

Corporal Arthur J Pearse, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, wounded (April)

The parish will have learnt with sorrow that Captain George Willink was on 5th April reported “missing, believed killed, 23-3-18”. No further official notification has been published at the time of writing; but a telegram has been received from records, and private inquiries confirm it, removing all hope. His name must therefore be added to the honourable list of those who have laid down their lives for their country and the right. A fuller statement will be made in the June Magazine. Meanwhile his father and the family are well assured that they have the sympathy of all their neighbours in this fresh trouble.

Mrs Howard, so well known in the parish for her good work at Holiday House and with the Boy Scouts, has gone out as a motor driver with the Scottish Women’s Unit in Serbia. We wish her a safe return.

Burghfield parish magazine, May 1918 (D/EX725/4)

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Magnificent raid on Zeebrugge

Edward Hilton Young, later Lord Kennet (1879-1960), grew up at Cookham. He was badly injured taking part in the major Zeebrugge Raid.

24 April 1918

Saw Mrs Howard & Will in his coffin. Looked very beautiful. Military funeral on Friday.

Magnificent naval raid on Zeebrugge – shook up the [illegible]. Hilton Young lost an arm.

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

News from a hospital

Florence Vansittart Neale recorded the loss of another family friend.

23 April 1918
Heard Will Howard had died on Saturday – heart at the end – in Plymouth Hospital.

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

The whole gamut of human emotion

The emotional toll of supporting loved ones at the front was beginning to tell in Maidenhead. One imagines the tears in church – but every now and then there was joy amidst the sorrow.

OUR ROLL OF HONOUR

The Minister has not for some time past read from the pulpit the list of our soldiers, because the strain upon the feelings of the more closely related friends was too great. This month there is space to spare in our columns, and we therefore print the list.

Five of our lads have fallen:

Harold Fisher …Royal Berks.
Duncan Wilson …A.S.C.
Robert Harris …8th Royal Berks.
Stephen Harris …3rd Royal Berks.
John Boyd …2nd Royal Berks.

Two have been discharged:

James Partlo …4th Royal Berks.
E.S. Mynett …Recruiting Sergeant

Forty-nine are still in the Army:

Cyril Hews …Royal Engineers
F.W. Harmer …Royal Berks.
W. Percy Pigg …A.S.C.
Cyril Laker …K.O. Scottish Borderers.
Reginald Hill …2nd Royal Berks.
Robert Anderson …4th Royal Berks.
John Bolton …23rd London.
Thomas Mulford …Royal Engineers.
J.O. Wright …8th Royal Berks.
George E. Dovey …9th Royal Berks.
Percy Lewis …R.A.M.C.
Arthur Rolfe …R.F.A.
Ernest Bristow …R.A.M.C.
Harold Islip …R.E.
Edward Howard …A.S.C.
George Belcher …R.E.
Horace Gibbons …11th Aus. Light Horse.
J. Quincey …A.S.C.
Donovan Wilson …A.S.C.
Aubrey Cole …A.S.C.
W.H. Clark …A.S.C.
Cecil Meade …A.S.C.
Benjamin Gibbons …6th Royal Berks.
David Dalgliesh …R.F.C.
Hugh Lewis …R.E.
H. Partlo …A.S.C.
Herbert Brand …8th Royal Berks.
George Phillips …A.S.C.
J Herbert Plum …R.E.
Wilfred Collins …Canadian Dragoons.
Alex. Edwards …R.F.A.
William Norcutt …A.S.C.
George Norcutt …R.E.
Victor Anderson …R.A.M.C.
Herbert G. Wood …R.E.
C.A.S. Vardy …R.E.
A. Lane …R.E.
Frank Pigg …R.F.C.
Leonard Beel …R.E.
P.S. Eastman …R.N.A.S.
A. John Fraser …A.S.C.
Charles Catliff …R.E.
Ernest A. Mead …7th Devonshires.
Robert Bolton …R.M.L.I
Frank Tomlinson …R.E.
George Ayres …L.E.E.
Thomas Russell …A.S.C.
G.C. Frampton …A.S.C.
W.J. Baldwin …Royal Navy.

In addition there are many who have passed through our Sunday School and Institute, but have not recently been in close connection with us. These also we bear upon our hearts, and bring in prayer before the Throne of Grace.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to be able to say that Reginald Hill is still going forward, and that he is able to walk a little with the aid of sticks. He has now been at the Sheffield Hospital between five and six months. His parents are spending their holiday at Sheffield.

Robert Bolton has gone over with his Company to France.

Wilfred Collins is in Hospital at Sulhamstead, still suffering from heart trouble.

Sidney Eastman is at Mudros, doing clerical work.

David Dalgliesh has been home on leave, in the best of health and spirits.

GOOD NEWS!

In our last number we spoke of the fact that the son of Mr. Jones, of Marlow, was “missing,” and that all hope that he was still living had been relinquished. But the unexpected has happened, and news has been received that Second-Lieutenant Edgar Jones is an unwounded prisoner in the hands of the Germans. His parents have surely run through the whole gamut of human emotion during these weeks.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

German prisoners say we (English) do not know what shelling is!

Food shortages were a problem for both sides, as blockades of shipping limited imports, and labourers fought rather than brining in crops. In Germany, the problem was serious enough to result in food riots.

26 January 1917

Miss Buck says her friend just from Germany says in Berlin riots 1000 killed! Will Howard says German prisoners say we (English) do not know what shelling is! (Ours so much more awful.)

No pheasants to be fed or reared.

Spirits & beer restricted.

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

“It is a most awful place where we are at present”

Soldiers associated with Maidenhead Congregational Church were grateful for Christmas gifts, and in return shared some of their experiences.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We have already received many acknowledgements from our soldier lads of the Christmas parcels from the Church, and they all speak of kindly gratitude. We can find room for a few extracts.

Edward Howard writes, “Many thanks for the most splendid parcel. It is awfully kind of the Church and Institute to think so much of us when we are out here…… It is a most awful place where we are at present. The mud is something like three feet deep, and we are living in tents, but of course we make the best of a bad job. I send you all a warm and affectionate Christmas greeting.”

Reginald Hill received his parcel in hospital at Etretat, where he has been slowly recovering from his gas injuries. He says “I cannot tell you much of my doings in a letter, but one of these Thursday evenings I will give you my experiences at a meeting of the Literary Society.”

Cyril Hews writes, “I can scarcely tell you in a letter what a great feeling of gratitude and pleasure the parcel and letter gave me…… We out here have no doubts as to the future. We are confident that before long victory will be given to the Allies, and the great cause for which they are fighting will be attained.”

Harold Islip says, “Please accept my thanks for the excellent parcel and letter of greeting sent by the Church, which I received two days ago. Both were most welcome. A letter of that description most certainly helps us all out here to “carry on” with our duties, even though they have now become so monotonous. On Sundays, and often during the week, I think of the Church and Institute, and wish I could be present! But by next Christmas the war will be over, and then…!”

J. O. Wright is overwhelmed with his Christmas duties as Post-Corporal (of course, he had a busy time!), but snatches a minute to send “a few lines thanking you and the Church for the splendid parcel, and also for the Magazine.”

Victor Anderson writes, “Many thanks for the parcel which I have just received, and also for the letter. I am in the best of health, and we are now in a very nice place, so I think we shall have as good a Christmas as can be expected out here.”

Percy Lewis is grateful for his parcel, and ventures to congratulate those who made the purchases. “They are just the things one appreciates most out here.”

And J. Quincy, “I thank you very much for the contents of the parcel, which were much appreciated and enjoyed, and I am sure you will extend my gratitude to the Members of the Church for their kindness. May you all have a truly happy Christmas and a bright New
Year.”

Ernest Mead has been placed in the 2/7th Batt. Devonshire Regiment (Cyclists), and is stationed at Exeter.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, January 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

‘The old buffers are those good “christian” people unable to realise there is a war on or to get a move on’

Percy Spencer enjoyed his brief visit home on leave at Christmas, staying with one of his brothers in London and visiting his workplace.

Decr 29, 1916
Dear WF

These few lines are just to let you know that I have “arrived back safely in the trenches” after a very uncomfortable and tiresome journey. However, c’est la guerre.

I did not go down to Cookham again.

After walking over to Victoria and arriving nearly an hour late on Xmas Eve, I was sent back with a day’s extension, this day I spent very quietly in the armchair at my digs and at Mrs Hunt’s flat. Others more virtuous were held up at port of embarkation and [sic] this side and had a worse – much worse time than I.

I was very happy at 37 Dumbarton Rd. [Brother] Horace’s wife is all that is simple and charming; moreover she plays and sings very delightfully – she has temperament. I do hope you’ll soon have the luck to meet her.

Captain Holliday did not get leave and I didn’t see him. But I saw all the directors at N&G as a Board meeting was in progress when I arrived, which they suspended to have a chat with me. They were all very charming to me. Benny Greenwood who you may remember at Howard’s occasionally is now a Major in the RFC. I suppose he would now be about 23 or 4.

I had lunch with Mr Devlin and all the old foggies [sic] of the firm. Poor Mr Devlin – I’m sorry for him as the old buffers he has remaining with him are those good “christian” people unable to realise there is a war on or to get a move on: he told me with despair that they jogged along at the same old rate, or slower, and expected all the ancient pre-war facilities and privileges. Roll on the day when I can get back and re-introduce some ginger.

Garwood is just slicing the OXO and asks me to thank you for it. Earlier this evening he ventured the opinion that OXO was better than rum – it wasn’t very heartily received. He asks me add a PS that more sausages when next you are sending me anything would be very welcome.

With love to you both
Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to his sister Florence Image (D/EZ177/7/5/43-44)

Terribly sad – but a splendid ideal of self-sacrifice

A Newbury teacher left his school for the trenches, as two other young men were reported killed.

The Managers of the Schools have presented Miss Bell with a Bible, in recognition of the nearly twenty years’ service in the Boys School, which she finished last year; and have presented Mr Nicklen with a wrist watch, on his leaving the school for the Army, he having been a few months longer than Miss Bell a teacher at the School. Mr Nicklen also received a handsome case of pipes together with a pouch from the teachers and the boys. Mr G F Pyke is at present medically prevented from joining the Army, as he wished to do.

The Deanery Secretary of UMCA, Miss Howard, has been endeavouring to arrange for the Annual Meeting in the Oddfellows’ Hall, but it seems better to postpone the meeting to some date after Lent… In the meantime the Mission remains, as ever, in urgent need of prayer and assistance. We hope that the successful prosecution of the Campaign in East Africa will soon result in the setting free of the Missionaries imprisoned within.

We offer our sincerest sympathies to Mr and Mrs Brown, of 47 Northbrook Street, and Mr and Mrs Breach, of 13 Victoria Street, on their loss of a son at the War. It is terribly sad to think of all these fine young fellows being called away so suddenly, and of the great sorrow that is being caused in so many homes: but they are raising up for the Nation a splendid ideal of self-sacrifice.

Newbury parish magazine, April 1916 (D/P89/28A/13)

“Every man in uniform (or in bits, alas)”

Maysie Wynne-Finch wrote to her brother Ralph from her temporary home in Windsor, with more details of the tragic accident which killed their friend Desmond FitzGerald (1888-1916). Desmond was the younger brother and heir apparent of the Duke of Leinster, Ireland’s leading peer, a mentally ill bachelor. Youngest brother Edward (1892-1976), who eventually succeeded to the title in 1922, had rashly married a chorus girl. Maysie had also recently met a number of friends on leave. Their mother Lady Mary Glyn also wrote to Ralph with the story of a new recruit.

March 20/16
Elgin Lodge
Windsor

My darling R.

Yes wasn’t Desmond [FitzGerald]’s death tragic. He’s a real loss from every point of view, it seems too one of those ghastly unnecessary things. The RC parson – one Lane Fox, incidentally poor General Pereira’s brother in law, he is too, was playing about with these bombs. Some say it was his fault, others a pure accident no one could have avoided, but the thing went off, killing Desmond & 2 or 3 men, & wounded others including young Nugent, a desperate body wound. He’s had a fearful operation, but they say will live. The wretched man himself has had ½ his face blown away & ½ his hand. A gastly [sic] thing. Poor old Freddy. They say master Edward is already bitterly regretting his wife who is a perfect terror & drinks. However I doubt her letting him divorce her now that he must be a Duke. It’s too dreadful.

We went to London for Sat night & to the Hippodrome. Really a funny show. Harry Tate being sea-sick too priceless, it nearly makes one sick too. Rather to my surprise we met Arthur & Amy there. He went back yesterday after a week’s special leave, he looks ill… We also saw old Wisp. He looks pretty well & I saw no signs of the lost stone – which he’s reported to have lost as a result of Flu – but he’s got 6 weeks leave, which is nice for him. John saw Jerry Sturt yesterday. Poor boy – he’s no better apparently, though they still say he will be. He can’t even stand yet though. He showed John an interesting letter he’d had from Beeky. In it he says the French at Verdun put all their Colonial troops in front & their losses were heavy, also at the 1st push they ran, which gave that 1st small Hun advance, but since then they have been alright. He also said Master Bosch used no gun smaller than a 5 pt 7 during all that fighting – no one seems to know why, unless to save their smaller ammunition for the “advance”.

(more…)

Asking after the Bisham boys

As the wife of an old-fashioned benevolent landlord and employer, Florence Vansittart Neale visited tenants to ask about their sons at the Front. She was also aware of the case of George Watson Smyth, heir to Wadhurst Castle in Sussex, being nursed at Highclere. He was to have his leg amputated.

1 October 1915

Called on Horner, Howard, Paine, Steptoe, Brooks & Simmonds – enquire after boys. Rumour Bob Paine killed. William Randall died – overworked.

Girls & I took Moll home – round by Wargrave to leave French flags….

George Watson Smyth at Highclere Hospital. Foot shattered.

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

A privilege much appreciated at the Front

Frank Streatfeild, an Anglican clergyman who had been living in Newbury, became an army chaplain in 1914. He was with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in France.

The Rev. Frank Streatfeild has courageously gone to the Front as Chaplain to the Forces, and we hope his friends in Newbury will remember him in his new and responsible work. The Rector received an interesting letter from him, describing among other things an open-air Communion service, where all the Communicants were men, and it is evident that the privilege is much appreciated at the Front. It will be remembered that a former Newbury curate, the Rev. F A Hill, is also out with the men.

The energetic ladies have opened St George’s Mission Room on week-day evenings as a Club for Soldiers. A considerable number have made use of the Room and have found there games, writing paper, music and refreshments. One evening a Whist Drive was held which the men – and the ladies – much enjoyed. Some male help would be appreciated with the Club.

In answer to an appeal for the wounded from the Dardanelles in the Hospitals at Malta, where Dr Heywood is working, the following generous response was made:

Given by members of the Newbury Parish and Donnington Square Red Cros Work Parties and by Anon: Miss A Boyce, Mr Bragg, Miss Cotton, Mr H Davis, Miss Davis, Miss Etty, Rev. W S and Mrs Edgell, Mr and Mrs J Morgan Ellis, Mr Harrison, Mrs J H Hopson, Misses Harrison, Miss A Hoad, Mrs Howard, Mr Josselyn, Rev. and Mrs L R Majendie, Mrs Milward, Mrs Pettican, Mrs Plows, Mrs B Pinniger, Rev. H G Rogers, Misses Sperring, Miss Watts, Mrs Wellock.

3 pairs sheets, 13 pillowcases, 21 Towels, 16 table napkins, 6 pairs pyjamas, 11 cotton shirts, 14 pairs socks, 4 handkerchiefs, 20 holland bags, 12 jig-saw puzzles, 1 book, 2 boxes cigarettes, 2 india-rubber hot water bottles, 3 hot water bottle covers, 11 pieces toilet soap, 2 Price’s service boxes, 2 yards macintosh sheeting, 2 yards jaconet, 4 lbs cotton wool, 6 lbs lint, 1 lb boracic lint, 5 dozen bandages, 4 boxes rubber plaster.


Newbury parish magazine, August 1915 (D/P89/28A/13)

Prayers in Flemish with the refugees

Florence Vansittart Neale reported on life at Bisham Abbey, where some of the Belgian soldiers had recovered.

Dr Downs came. Settled 6 men could go. 2 to Folkestone on Saturday: 2 to rejoin, 2 to Cottage, 2 to Eastbourne, leaving 4 or 5. I to see Horace Howard, he to go to Reading Hospital. Henry & I to see Belgians in cottage….

Said prayers in Flemish.

Hear difficulty in getting coal as all goods trains hung up – moving of troops. Idea Dan & 4 senior officers of each battalion : W.O. for week to France to see the sort of work.

William Hallam reported on measures against air raids:

26th January 1915
A notice has been posted that hearing 6 blows on the hooter, signifies hostile aircraft, and all lights are to be extinguished and refuge taken; not to get in crowds out in the streets.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8); Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/23)

A teacher joins the Yeomanry

Windsor Royal Free Boys’ School reports the loss of a teacher who had decided to join the Berkshire Yeomanry (the cavalry) on 8 September 1914. A teacher who was planning to leave a Slough school to join the army was absent for training (and in fact never returned).

Windsor Royal Free School

Mr L. Howard has in consequence of the war, and with the permission of manager, formed  joined the Berkshire Yeomanry and has therefore vacated his post until his service in the army are no longer required. Mr H. J. Middleton commenced duties as temporary assistant in place of Mr Howard this morning.

Stoke Road School, Slough
Mr Kent absent. He has been called up for drill etc.

Windsor Royal Free Boys  School log book (C/EL72/3, p. 133); Stoke Road School, Slough: log book (89/SCH/28/1, p. 355)
September 3rd 1914