The site for the Berkshire war memorial should be the Forbury Hill

A site was selected for a Berkshire war memorial.

21 October 1919
Executive Committee meeting

Present: J Herbert Benyon, President
Messrs Foley, Bates, Willink, Belcher, Bradbury, Barker, Quelch, Howell, Hayward, Johnson (Town Clerk), Arman (secretary).

The Secretary reported that the land in the Caversham Road, suggested as a possible site, could not be obtained for a lesser sum than £5000. He stated that it was understood that the Forbury Hill site would most likely be granted by the Town Council if desired.

The suggested designs sent in by the undermentioned gentlemen were on view and received consideration:

No. 1. Lt C H Perkins, ARIBA, Bracknell
2. J H Willett, Caversham
3. C B Willcocks, Reading
4. H Hutt, Reading
5. J H Carey & Son, Windsor
6. A N Arman (amateur), Reading
7. F G Belcher (amateur), Reading

A general discussion took place during which a scheme in connection with the new Caversham Bridge was referred to and explained by Mr Howell, and the suggestion was more or less supported by Mr Bates.

It was considered that the committee as a body should view the Exhibition of War Memorials at the Royal Holloway before coming to any conclusion, and it was thought that subsequently it should be debated whether a competitive design should be obtained by offering a premium and throwing the competition open generally, or whether it would be best to place the matter into the hands of some eminent artist to prepare a design and advise generally.

In order that some definite progress be made it was proposed by Councillor Quelch, seconded by Col Barker, that the site for the memorial should be the Forbury Hill in the Forbury Gardens, Reading. Carried.

The secretary was requested to make a formal application to the Town Council for the grant of the site in question. He was also requested to send a report of the committee meeting to the newspapers announcing the decision as to the site (subject to the approval of the Town Council).

Mr Hayward moved, and Mr Bates seconded, that Dr Stewart-Abram, the mayor-elect, be invited to join the committee. Passed unanimously.

The secretary submitted proposals, which were approved by the committee, to print and circulate throughout the county a poster asking that the names of Berkshire men for record on the memorial be sent to the vicars of the respective parishes; that the vicar of each parish in the county be asked to co-operate in obtaining the names of the men for record purposes; to print and circulate the suggested letter to the vicars of parishes together with the record card of which drafts were adopted. Similar applications for co-operation to be sent to the Comrades of the Great War and the Federation of Discharged Sailors & Soldiers.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)

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A memorial commemorative of those who have served in the war as well as those who have lost their lives in it

The great and good of Berkshire gathered to consider a county war memorial. They decided ordinary soldiers should be involved too.

30 July 1919
Meeting of the War Memorial General Committee held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Reading, on the 30th July 1919.

Present
J H Benyon esquire, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, Chairman
Stanley Hayward esquire, Mayor of Reading, Vice Chairman
Mrs L Hayward, Mayoress of Reading
Col T J Bowles
Louis H Beard esquire, Constable of Hungerford
Councillor W E Collier
F J K Cross esquire
W Dockar Drysdale esquire
Ernest Gardner esquire, MP
Rev F J C Gillmor
S H Hodgkin esquire
Councillor W R Howell
Dr J B Blay
Councillor Edward Jackson
A J Mackay esquire
Councillor Frank E Moring
H C Mylne esquire, Mayor of Wokingham
Councillor Thomas Norris
W Howard Palmer esquire
Major M L Porter
Councillor L E Quelch
F A Sargeant esquire, Deputy Mayor of Reading
Councillor Wm Sparks
Edmund Stevens esquire
E M Sturges esquire
G A Watson esquire
Col George S Willes

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council submitted the resolutions adopted at the Public Meeting held on the 22nd July appointing and defining the duties of the Committee.

This being the first meeting of the Committee since their appointment the Committee proceeded to elect a Chairman and Vice Chairman, when J H Benyon esquire, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, was elected to be Chairman and Stanley Hayward esquire, Mayor of Reading, was elected to be Vice Chairman.

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council read apologies for absence from the following:

Lady Wantage
Col F W Foley
Brigadier General J E Wigan
Alderman F A Cox
Lt Col Leslie Wilson MP
P E Crutchley esquire
W Crosland esquire
Col J C Carter
W Carter esquire, Mayor of Windsor
Sir Geo Young, bart
Major C W Darby-Griffith
C Adrian Hawker esquire
Rev W M Rawlinson
F A Simonds esquire
Mrs G S Abram

The Committee then considered the appointment of a secretary and
Resolved: That, if he be willing to act, Mr E W J Arman, late Postmaster of Reading, be appointed Honorary Secretary to the Committee.

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council submitted a letter, dated 28th July, which the Town Clerk of Reading had received from Col F W Foley, expressing the opinion that more members of the rank and file of the many battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment should serve on the Committee, and, upon consideration thereof,

It was Resolved: That three nominations of NCOs or men for representation on the Committee be invited from each of the following:

1. The regular battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment.
2. The Berkshire Territorial Force Association.
3. The Comrades of the Great War.
4. The Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers.


[An Executive Committee was appointed]

It was decided that it be a recommendation to the Executive Committee to frame their scheme and inscription as commemorative of those who have served in the war as well as those who have lost their lives in it.

It was decided that the suggestions received from Lady Wantage, Brigadier General J T Wigan, Alderman Cox, Lt Col Walsh and others as to the form which the memorial should take be referred to the Executive Commmittee for their consideration.

The question of the desirability of limiting the amount of individual subscriptions was considered but no resolution upon the subject was passed.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)

The value of the new buildings, fittings and military adaptations

7th February 1919

War Hospital Displacement Purposes: Poor Law Institutions

The Clerk reported the receipt of a letter from the Divisional Officer, Royal Engineers, Reading, stating that he had been instructed to enquire as to the local feeling regarding the handing back of the Institution to the Guardians, and also whether the Guardians would be prepared to take over at a valuation any of the new buildings, fittings or adaptations to military requirements, which had been constructed.

Also reporting the receipt of a letter from the Reading Education Committee, stating that the Committee wished Grovelands School to be handed to them at the earliest opportunity.

Recommending that steps be taken for the return of the Institution to the Guardians, that the Clerk obtain a schedule showing the value of the new buildings, fittings and military adaptations, and that Mr W R Howell be engaged to prepare a list of the dilapidations to the original premises, such schedules to be submitted to a further meeting of the Committee.

Report of Emergency Committee, Reading Board of Guardians (G/R1/58)

Reading School’s contribution to the war

A complete listing of Reading School’s alumni who had served in the war.

OLD BOYS SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES.

This list has been compiled from information received up to December 14th, 1918; corrections and additions will be welcomed and should be addressed to: – R. Newport, Esq., Reading School, Reading.

Allnatt, Rifleman N.R. — London Rifle Brigade.
(killed in Action).
Ambrose, 2nd Lieut. L.C. — S.L.I.
Anderson, Pte. L.G. — Can. Exp. Force
Appelbee, 2nd Lieut. T. — 13TH West Yorks.
(Killed in Action).
Atkinson, Lieut. E.G. — Indian Army
Atkinson, Capt. G.P. — 6TH Royal North Lancs.
Atkinson, 2nd Lieut. J.C. — R.A.F.
Aust, 2nd Lieut. H.E. — Yorkshire Regt.
(Twice Wounded).
(Killed in Action).
Aveline, Lieut. A.P. — Royal Berks Regt,
(Wounded).
(Military Cross).
Baker, 2nd Lieut. A.C.S. — R.G.A.
Baker, Rifleman A.E. — London Irish Rifles.
(Wounded).
Baker, Rifleman R.S. — London Irish Rifles.
(Wounded).
Baker, Lieut. T.H. — 8TH Royal Berks Regt.
(Wounded)
Balding, Capt. C.D. — Indian Army.
Banks, Pte. W.R. — Public School Corps.
(Killed in Action).
Bardsley, Capt. R.C — Manchester Regt.
(Wounded).
Barnard, F.P. —
Barroby, Trooper. F. — Strathcona Horse.
Barry, Capt. L.E. — R.A.F.
Baseden, Lieut. E. — Royal Berks Regt.
(Killed in Action).
Baseden, 2nd Lieut. M.W. — R.A.F.
Batchelor, Lieut. A.S. — Duke of Cornwall’s L.I.
Bateman, Capt. W.V. — Royal Munster Fusiliers.
Bayley, 2nd Lieut. F. — Chinese Labour Battalion.
Beckingsale, Pte. R.S. — Canadian Contingent.
Beckingsale, Capt. R.T. — Tank Corps (Military Cross).
(Wounded).

Belsten, E.K. — R.A.F.
Biddulph, 2nd Lieut. R.H.H. — Royal Berks Regt.
(Died of Wounds).
Bidmead, Pte. — Wilts regt.
Black, Pte. F. — Public School Corps.
(Killed in Action).
Blazey, A.E.H. — R.A.F.
Blazey, 2nd Lieut. J.W. — Royal Berks Regt
(killed in Action).
Bleck, Lieut. W.E. — R.F.A.
Bliss, 2nd Lieut. A.J. — Leinster Regt.
(Killed in Action).
Bliss, Pte. W. — 2ND Batt.Hon.Art.Coy. (more…)

A very gallant officer and gentleman, recklessly brave and a fine example of cool courage

The Old Boys of Reading School were distinguishing themselves at the Front.

O.R. NEWS.

Killed in Action.

2nd Lieut. Norman A. Howell, King’s Shropshire Light infantry. On December 23rd.

He is the second son of Mr. W. Roland Howell, architect, of this town. Born at Reading in April 1897, he was educated at Reading School and St. Laurence College, Ramsgate, and had been about a year in his father’s office before joining the Army in November, 1915. His cadet training at school and college enabled him to get his commission. He was posted to the King’s Shropshire’s, was ordered to the front at the end of June last, and has been in the thick of the Somme fighting for six months. Lieut. Norman Howell came home on his first leave on December 6th and returned on the 16th. Within a week he had made the great sacrifice.

His Commanding Officer wrote to Mr. Howell on December 24th:

“I deeply regret to report the death of your son, who was serving in my Battalion. Whilst going up to the front line trenches in charge of a party last night an enemy sniper shot him through the head, killing him instantly. This morning his body was buried by the Chaplain near where he fell, with military honours, officers and men attending.

“I had trench mortars and rifle grenades on the sniper’s post, patrols had reported 8 to 10 Huns there, none there now! On behalf of his comrades, officers, N.C.O.’s and men, I wish to convey to you our profound sympathy . He was loved and respected by all of us, and we mourn the loss of a very gallant officer and gentleman. To all of us he was known as recklessly brave and a fine example of cool courage, devoted to his duties, which he discharged most cheerfully under the most trying conditions.”

“I placed him in charge of the Lewis Gun detachment, on which he had set his heart and soul. He belonged to my own Headquarters’ mess, and I took particular interest in him. A cross has been put up on the grave near Les Boeufs.”

It will be remembered that in October, 1915, Mr. Howell’s elder son, 2nd Lieut. Roland Basil Howell, was reported “wounded and missing.” Nothing has since been heard of him, and any hopes of his being alive hangs on the very slenderest thread. On the 16th of last month the War Office wrote saying that they were now forced to believe he was killed.

Lieut. Basil Howell was born in October, 1895, and received his commission in the 4th North Staffordshire’s three months after the war started. He was attached to the Northumberland Fusiliers (the Fighting Fifth), and went to the front in May, 1915.

Reports received from the front show that on the night of October 1st-2nd, 1915, the battalion to which Lieut. Howell was attached were in severe action. After all the officers of the company had been killed he gallantly led a bombing party to attack a German trench, but was never seen again.

Every possible enquiry was made through the War Office, the American Embassy, the Red Cross, and the wounded men who returned to England. Many references were made by the latter to the respect and love they had for the brave young officer. Like his brother he was educated at Reading School and St Laurence College, and had started his training to follow in his father’s profession. For many years he was an enthusiastic scout, and took a big share in starting the South Reading Troop.

Lieut. Cedric Charles Okey Taylor, East Kent Regiment, attached to Trench Mortar Battery, only son of Mrs. Taylor, 39, Weltje Road, Ravenscroft Park, W., and of the late Mr. Charles Warmsley Taylor, of Reading. Further details are now to hand of Lieut. Taylor’s death.

He died for King and country on December 3rd, 1916, in his 22nd year. Young in years but old in endurance, he was in constant action for 15 months at Ypres in 1915 and on the Somme in 1916. He is laid to rest in the cemetery, at Faubourg d’Amiens, Arras.

2nd Lieut. W. Marsden Cooper, Worcestershires, only son of Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper, 107, London Street, Reading, aged 19.

Cooper was only 19 years of age and went out to the front in the Worcestershire’s about the middle of December, shortly after completing his course at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was educated at Reading School, where he gained a Council scholarship in 1909. His School career was unusually distinguished. In 1914 he gained a School Certificate followed the next year by a higher certificate.

In response to his country’s call, he decided to take a commission, and in the entrance examination for the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, held in February, 1916, he came out second on the list, gaining a Prize Cadetship. At Sandhurst his success was no less pronounced than at school, and he gained the position of Sergeant in his cadet unit, the highest position a cadet can obtain, before he left College. Not only did he have considerable intellectual gifts, as his record shows but he was a fine athlete as well. He was an excellent all round cricketer and his natural powers as a bowler would have enabled him to make his mark in really good company. As a Rugby Football player he showed great promise, and before he left school he had the distinction of being captain of football, captain of cricket and captain of the school. Yet he was never elated by success, and perhaps it was more than anything else his modesty which made him so popular with the boys and the masters alike. Those who have watched his career, for the last two years, and marked the way in which his development always seemed to keep pace with his new responsibilities feel a special grief that a young life so full of promise should have been brought thus prematurely to a close.
(more…)

Wounded warriors

Soldiers recuperating in the Katesgrove area of Reading had a pleasant summer afternoon courtesy of worshippers at Christ Church.

Entertainment of wounded soldiers

On July 15th our branch of the CEMS had the great pleasure of entertaining some of the wounded soldiers from our Reading hospitals. Thanks to the kindness of the Vicar the event took place in the Vicarage garden, now looking at its best, and St Swithun proving kind, a most enjoyable time was spent by all concerned.

Thirty wounded warriors, convoyed by Messrs Bell & Eldridge from No 5 (Katesgrove) War Hospital, arrived with military punctuality at 2.30 and were soon enjoying themselves in various ways on the larger lawn. Some played bowls with the ladies and members, others competed in clock golf and lawn quoits, whilst those who did not feel equal to much exertion reclined in deck chairs and listened to the pleasant strains of a gramophone. Meanwhile the ladies’ committee prepared tea on the smaller lawn to which the men were summoned at 3.45. After tea a short whist drive, arranged by Mr J Risdale, was carried through and prizes given to the winning soldiers. Cigars, the gift of Mr W R Howell, were then handed round and we said good-bye to our guests.

Our thanks are due to Mrs Morris, Miss Breedon and Mr Pole Routh for the loan of games; to Mr Cripps for the loan of crockery; to the many ladies who so kindly gave cakes and lastly to Mrs W J Brown who so kindly and efficiently managed the tea.

Christ Church parish magazine, August 1916 (D/P170/28A/24)

Lieutenant Spencer in command

Sydney Spencer was still in training as he saw several fellow officers moving to face direct action.

Sept 21st
Battalion order 4. Following officers struck off strength to join Mediterranean Expeditionary Force today.

Lt H W St George
Lt A L Shutes
Lt G H Shakespeare
Lt A C Blyth
Lt D F Harvey
2nd Lt T G Howell
2nd Lt Tebbutt
2nd Lt C E Durrant
2nd Lt C G S Russell
2nd Lt R R Plaistowe

Battalion order 6: A company in command Lt R G Cubitt, 2nd Lt Bagott, 2nd Lt R G Ferrier, 2nd Lt S Spencer

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EX801/12)

Many brave deeds

An officer with Bracknell connections had been praised in the national press for his role in fierce fighting in the Dardanelles before succumbing to his wounds, while ordinary soldiers from the town were wounded in the same battle.

THE WAR

All our readers will have read of the extremely gallant charge of the Berkshire Yeomanry in the recent fighting in the Dardanelles. The following account is from The Times.-

“When the order to charge was given, the Berkshire Yeomanry, although they had suffered many casualties, dashed into the enemy’s trenches, the first to reach them being Major E. S. Gooch, who was wounded in the head, and was defended with great gallantry by Second Lieutenant H. C. Blyde of Reading, who had followed close after him. After Major Gooch was wounded the Adjutant, Captain F. B. Hurndall, 20th Hussars, took over the command and showed excellent leadership. There were many brave deeds done by the rank and file…

The General commanding expressed to all ranks his intense appreciation of their conduct in this their first engagement and also commended the Brigade for reaching Hill 70 in spite of heavy casualties.”

Major Gooch, whose gallant conduct is thus mentioned, reached home, and was taken to Lady Riley’s Hospital in Carlton House Terrace. He was reported to be doing well, but to the intense sorrow of all in Bracknell he succumbed to his wound on September 21st. Though his home had been in Scotland since his marriage in 1902, he was often in Bracknell at his mother’s house, and we can well believe what we are told of the devotion that all in his regiment felt for him, and those who, like the writer of these lines, have had the privilege of knowing him in his Scotch home can testify that this devotion and affection was fully shared by his friends and neighbours there.

The casualties in the ranks of our Berkshire Yeomanry are also very heavy, and though no Bracknell man was killed, some of our neighbours in the villages round have fallen. Amongst those who were wounded, who have been admitted to hospitals at home or abroad, are Harry Adler, who has been severely bruised and shaken; W. B. Skelton, one of our postmen, who was wounded; as were also Lance-Corporal Howell and Sergeant Claude Spencer, both of whom were well known in Bracknell.

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Magazine, October 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/10)