“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)


“The doctor called it ‘Influenza’, but I called it things in much less mild language!”

Training in Yorkshire, Sydney Spencer contracted influenza, the scourge which would end up killing more people than the war. He gives a graphic description.

Warmsworth Hall
Sunday March 3rd 1918
My Dearest Sister

Do you imagine for a single moment what happened last Tuesday? I fell suddenly & grieviously sick! What of? I know not. The doctor called it ‘Influenza’, but I called it things in much less mild language! I had a fearful headache which nearly blinded me & a swollen throat which resulted when I ate in my having a fearfully exciting & incessant sort of steeplechase going on in my throat, ie the food ran along my tongue, paused in mute horror, took breath, gathered itself up carefully like a cat does before jumping, took a flying leap at the small breach left where my throat once was, landed gasping on the brink & then I did the rest by a spasmodic system of gulps. And that’s the only amusement I got out of it! Well, my sickness left me yesterday as suddenly as it came!

The joke of the matter is that a man in this house was discovered to be the proud possessor of a throat which for days past had been dip (no I dare not spell it!) – let us just call it dipth—ia! Furthermore since the aforesaid man was batman to Capt. Fitch who sleeps opposite me, well by the time Thursday came, when I was feeling much less alive than dead, I was having a fairly cheerful outlook on life.

I gargled with ‘lysol’ & that killed whatever germs had attacked my throat & I am as well as possible again.

What do you think of that for a bloodcurdling tale?

Dear old Rowell, commonly known as ‘Pongo’, is now writing his one letter a week to “his Muzzie” as he puts it. He is a sailor by profession, frank & open, but a very blasphemous young man (not really but he bluffs it). He can scarcely spell his own name but is a gentleman by birth & education. He has so far asked me how to spell Warmsworth, the date of the day, & ‘week’, in one minute I shall have to give him my undivided attention, bless him. (Yes, Pongo, UPSET does spell upset, & been spells been & not bean!)

All love to you both, & my humble respects to the kings among feline races.

Your affectionate Brer

Letter from Sydney Spencer to his sister Florence Image (D/EZ177/8/3/7)

The clear, brave notes of the “Last Post” are heard again

There was news of a number of men from Burghfield.


Honours and Promotions

Captain Richard P Bullivant of the Mill House (County of London Yemanry) has been awarded the Military Cross for good service in Palestine, particularly in connection with the charge of dismounted Yeomanry near Jerusalem.

Mr George D Lake of Brookfield has received his commission as 2nd Lieutenant after OTC training, and is to join his unit (ASC, MT) in France on 1st March.

Ernest Wise (2/4th Royal Berks) has been made Provost-Sergeant of the Battalion.


B Hutchins (2/4th Royal Berks), wounded, a second time.


A C Lovelock (ASC, MT), ill health, Feb 1918.

Obituary Notice

Lance-Corporal R T Montagu (see last month’s magazine). Mr Montagu has received a letter from the captain of his son’s Company containing the words –

“Your son was in my platoon before I took over the command of the Company, and I gave him his lance stripe. He was a thoroughly good fellow, and a really fine soldier. The Company has lost a good man, and he will be greatly missed.”

He appears to have been killed by a shell while out on patrol early on the morning of the 8th January.

The death of Ernest Goddard is recorded with regret. He died at home on 12th February. He was called up from Reserve at outbreak of war, and posted to the 1st Royal Berks. Wounded in October 1915, he lost his right arm, and was discharged in June 1916. We all sympathize with his father and the family. The Depot of the Regiment sent a bearer party with a corporal and a bugler to his funeral on the 16th February; and the clear, brave notes of the “Last Post” were heard again in our quiet churchyard.

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

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)

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)

“A terrible blow to his parents”

Tribute is paid to Burghfield men whose deaths had been reported.


C Searle (killed)
Sidney Cooper (wounded and missing, reported killed)
Ernest F Bunce (died of wounds)

R Jordan (wounded)

Obituary Notices

Lance-Corporal Ernest Bunce is reported as having died from wounds received on the 18th November; he was on 1/1st Berks Yeomanry in Palestine during General Allenby’s victorious advance. No news except the telegram of his death has reached his parents, deepest sympathy is felt for them and his twin sister Elsie in their great sorrow. They wish to return grateful thanks for many kind messages.

Christopher Searle of the Royal West Surrey was killed on October 4th in France. His Commanding Officer writes of him that he had just gone through an attack with his Battalion safely, and on going to fetch some water, a shell burst close to him, and he was killed instantly.

“The Company all regret him, he did his work well and was very popular.”

It is a terrible blow to his parents, he was their only son, but he was a brave lad, and they must feel very proud of him.

Sidney Cooper, 2nd Royal Berks, of Pinge Wood, was reported as “wounded and missing” some time ago, he is now believed to have been killed.

Fred W Fisher died in hospital at Brighton on December 6th after a long sad illness partly due to a kick from a mule. He enlisted in the ASC in March 1916, and was fit for duty for only a few months.

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

There must be no risk of infecting the Royal Flying Corps with measles

Infectious disease was a serious concern in the days before vaccination, and the thought of precious pilots being incapitated or killed was a serious consideration.

January 17th 1918

Three boys – Harry Austin and the two Harts whose fathers are in the R.F.C. stationed in Ascot have been forbidden to attend School by the O.C. the Corps. The reason given is that as measles are prevalent in the neighbourhood – not in Ascot – there must be no risk of infecting the Corps.

Ascot Heath Boys’ School log book (C/EL110/4, pp. 91-92)

He “saved an officer’s life by carrying him on his back out of danger, under fire”

There was news of many Burghfield men, some of whom had performed acts of heroism at the front.

Honours and Promotions

We congratulate 2nd Lt Wheeler and his parents Mr and Mrs E C Wheeler on his promotion, he having been given a commission in the King’s Liverpool Regiment. His brother, T Wheeler, is now training as a Pilot in No 5 Cadet Wing, RFC. Cadet (ex Corporal) Alfred Searies is training in Scotland, having been recommended for a commission. He has been twice wounded, and has saved an officer’s life by carrying him on his back out of danger, under fire. The following are now Sergeants: E Cooke (5th R W Surrey), R J Turfrey (ASC< MT), E Wise (2/4th Royal Berks).


E N Pike (killed in action), P C Layley (scalded), J Cummings, A Newman, and A Ware (wounded). W Butler, whose parents long lived in the parish, but have lately gone to Sulhamstead, is also wounded.


Jos. West, ex 2nd Rifle Brigade (wounds); Herbert C Layley, ex 5th Royal Berks (wounds); Fred W Johnson, ex 2nd Royal Berks (heart); Isaac Slade, ex 4th Royal Berks and RE (heart); J D Whitburn, ex Royal Berks (rheumatism), just moved to Five Oaken. Arthur L Collins, in last magazine, should have been described as ex 5th Royal Berks.

Other War Items

Lieutenant Francis E Foster, RNVR, of Highwoods, who since the outbreak of war has been looking for trouble in the North Sea, has been rewarded by transfer to a quieter job further south, for the present. Lieutenant Geoffrey H B Chance, MG Corps (of the Shrubberies) is in hospital in Egypt, suffering from malaria.

Roll of Honour
Mr Willink thanks all who have given him information. He is always glad to receive more. It is difficult if not impossible, especially since the Military Service Act, to keep the Roll up to date.

Obituary Notices

The following death is recorded with regret.

Mr E N Pike, of Burghfield Hatch, son of Mrs Pike of Brook House, lost his life as above stated, for his country on 11th November, less than a week after returning to the front from a month’s leave which had been granted him to enable him to get in his fruit crop. An officer in his Battery writes: “In the short time that Gunner Pike has been in the Battery we have learned to appreciate him not only for his work but for the man he was”. He leaves a young widow and a little boy. He had good hopes of obtaining a commission in time.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1917 (D/EX725/4)

Sympathy for the loss of a young man of great promise and amiability

Worshippers at Maidenhead Congregational Church sent Christmas gifts out to their young men at the front.


Those who knew George Whitmill will be able to sympathise the more keenly with his parents in their sorrow. He was a young man of great promise and amiability, and a keen student. He was a member of Mr. Heywood’s Bible Class in the Institute. He was killed at the front on October 30th. We offer our tenderest Christian sympathies to his friends.

Victor Anderson is in hospital at Sheffield suffering from “trench fever.” Reginald Hill is back at Shheffield, and is to undergo another, and we trust the last, of a weary series of operations. Donald Lindsay and Percy Lewis have been home on leave.

Christmas parcels have already been sent out to our lads in the Mediterranean Forces, and the others will be forwarded very shortly. Miss Hearman and Miss Nicholls have been good enough to undertake the considerable task of the purchase and packing of these parcels.

Letters also of greeting from the Church will be sent to all our men. The minister will be grateful for addresses corrected up to date. Boxes are to be placed at the doors on Sundays, December 2nd and 9th, to receive contributions towards the cost, which amounts to about £6.

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

A good comrade who always played the game

Among the Reading men reported killed were two decorated heroes.

All Saints’ District
The War

Last month we offered our congratulations to Pte, F.R. Johnson of the Machine Gun Corps, and a member of the Choir, on being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallant conduct on July 31st. It is with great sorrow that we have to chronicle the fact that a few days later he was killed in action. He rendered excellent service in the Choir and leaves behind him a good record as a soldier. That he was appreciated and highly esteemed by his comrades is shown in the following extract from one of the several letters written by them which we have been privileged to read: –

“I know quite well from every man in the company would agree with me when I say that we always found him a good comrade and a loyal friend; to put it shortly, he was ‘a white man,’ and always ‘played the game.’”

Such words are a great testimonial to personal character. He was an only child, and our deepest sympathy will go to his sorrowing parents.

We also have to record the death of Pte Arthur James Purchell, of the Royal Berks Regt., whom also was congratulated some time ago on being awarded the Military Medal. He was severely wounded in action and died shortly afterwards.

News has also just arrived of the death of Gunner Frederick Edward Stowell, of the Salonika Force, and of Pt. William Warren Goddard, of the Machine Gun Corps, who died in France of meningitis. To the relatives and friends who are mourning their loss we shall give our sincerest sympathy.

All Saints section of Reading St Mary parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

“Everyone misses his smiling face”

There was good news and not-so-good news of Maidenhead men.


We are very sorry to learn that Ernest Bristow has been wounded, but there seems every hope that his injuries are not serious. One of his chums writes,

“He went up to one of our advanced dressing stations to take over stores, and it was while standing at the mouth of a dug-out that he was wounded. A Bosche fleet of aeroplanes came over, and a bomb dropped quite near, wounding some ten men and killing two others. He caught it in the left arm and in both legs, but his wounds are flesh wounds, and not dangerous. He suffered from a severe shaking up, but bore it extremely well. The sergeant who dressed his wounds thinks he will soon be all right again. Everyone misses his smiling face and bright personality, and none more than his sorrowing pal. We all feel that his loss to the Unit is irreparable… He was by far the best clerk, and one of the most popular in the Unit.”

We earnestly trust that the hopeful tone of this letter may be justified by events, and that Corporal Bristow will suffer no permanent injury.

Harold Islip, who returned to his post after leave about a month ago, has been in hospital suffering from dysentery. Cyril Hews, George Belcher, and Donald Wilson have been home again for ten days, all in good health and spirits. Herbert Brand, who has been Company Q.M.S. in the 8th Berks., has been for two or three months past in a Cadet Corps, and expects shortly to receive a Commission.

Wilfred Collins is now quite convalescent and was in Maidenhead a few days ago.

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

“His machine nose dived to what seemed certain death”

There were varying fortunes for the men of Winkfield.


Much sympathy is felt for the family of Private Charles Mitchell, who we much regret to record was killed in action on October 11th. He was only 19, and had been at the front but a few weeks. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, November 11th, at 6.30 at the Parish Church , when we have no doubt that many will show their sympathy by attending.

Stoker Karl Brant has been very ill with pneumonia but is now convalescent and home on leave.

Private Fred Fancourt has been wounded in the face; he is in Hospital in France and is doing well.

Flight Commander Foster Maynard met with an aeroplane accident which nearly cost him his life. It is reported that when flying, through some mishap, his machine nose dived to what seemed certain death, when it was held up by some branches and he sustained many cuts about the head and a badly broken arm, but is now doing well in hospital.

Private Albert Carter is ill with trench fever, he is in hospital in England and we hope progressing favourably.

We are glad to learn that Private John Carter who had a very long and serious illness, is now convalescent, also Private George Streamer is now almost recovered and able to take up light duty in Ireland.

Private William Burt has been invalided out of the Amy, the chronic nephritis from which he is suffering being brought on by the exposure and hardships of the trenches. He is much better now and will we trust in time get quite strong again.

We congratulate Sergeant Henry Oatway on his promotion to Sergeant-Major in the Engineers.


We have always remembered the Sailors and Soldiers from our Parish at Christmas, and sent them small Christmas gifts which they have greatly appreciated. Mrs. Maynard raised the fund for doing this last Christmas and the Christmas before by means of a rummage sale, but this cannot be managed this year and so we must fall back on the subscriptions as in 1914, but I am sure that we shall feel it a privilege to do our share in bringing some Christmas cheer to the men to whom we owe so much. About £15 will be required.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, November 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/11)

A gallant lad who enlisted “because he thought it was his duty”

The service of several Burghfield men had ended, either through death or illness.


Honours and Promotions

Major Richard Kirkwood, who as temporary Lieutenant Colonel has since the beginning of the war been in command at Exeter of the Depot of his old Regiment (the Devons), has been seriously ill. He is now being relieved, and is receiving the permanent honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and we hope to see him and his wife back at Boldrewood in November.


So far, only the following names have come to hand of Burghfield men discharged from the Navy or Army in consequence of wounds or sickness contracted on service, viz:

Joseph Bedford, ex 8th Royal Berks (wounds)
E H Bracey, ex MGC (wounds)
Arthur L Collins, ex 2nd Anzacs, AEF (sickness)
Ernest Goddard, ex 1st Royal Berks (wounds)
William Goddard, another son of Joel Goddard, born and bred in Burghfield, but not resident for some years, has also been discharged, ex RE, on account of wounds.

Obituary Notices

Percy G Day, a gallant lad who enlisted “because he thought it was his duty”, though he broke his apprenticeship by doing so, was son of George Day of Trash Green. He was in the 2/4th Royal Berks, but was found not strong enough to go to France with the Battalion in May 1916, and was latterly employed on munition work in Leeds, where he died on 6th October in hospital.

Burghfield parish magazine, November 1917 (D/EX725/4)