Delightful excursions for the wounded

People gave according to their means – whether that was lending a luxury yacht or giving handcraft skills.

Colonel Sir Wyndham Murray’s Yacht “Cecilia”

The kindness shown by Sir Wyndham and Lady Murray towards our sick and wounded soldiers is perhaps not so well known as it ought to be. This is the fourth year in succession in which he has devoted his beautiful little vessel during the whole summer to the service of Netley Red Cross Hospital. She is a steam yacht of 200 tons, on the roll of the Royal Yacht Squadron, of which Sir Wyndham is a member. And daily, weather permitting, she has taken parties of patients, medical officers, or sisters, for trips on the Solent, from Southampton Water to Ryde, Cowes, &c. except in the matter of coal, which the Admiralty have supplied, the whole upkeep of the yacht and crew is borne by the generous owner: and no one enjoys the outings more than he and Lady Murray when they find themselves able to be present in person for a few days on board. The Cecilia has carried about 1,000 passengers each summer, and the Hospital authorities have often expressed their appreciation of the benefits conferred upon all who have taken part in these delightful excursions.

The boys attending the handicraft centre at Mrs Bland’s School, under Mr Stavely Bulford’s tuition, have made no less than 2,500 splints and surgical appliances between February, 1916, and August, 1918, besides other work. The demand for wooden appliances is diminishing, owing to introduction of other material, but the young workmen need have no doubt that their labour has not been in vain. Mr Bulford is resigning his appointment as Instructor under the Education Committee, as he wishes to take up honorary work in connection with the War Hospital Supplies Depot. We shall all be sorry to lose him.

Blackberries

School collections sent in: C of E School, 5 cwt, 17 ½ lbs; Mrs Bland’s, 2 cwt, 3 qr 14 lbs.

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

Home to train for a Commission after three years active service

There was news of some Maidenhead soldiers.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Harold Islip is home to train for a Commission. He is to join a Cadet Corps, and hope to enter the R.G.A. He has had three years of active service.

Reginald Hill and Ernest Bristow are still at Cliveden.

John Bolton has been transferred from Egypt to France.

Alec Edwards is at a hospital in the Isle of Wight, suffering from a heart complaint. His condition a few weeks ago seemed critical, but we are glad to know that he has taken a favourable turn.

A.J. Lane is home on furlough, after 14 months absence. He is looking bronzed and well.

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

Americans saved from mines

Florence Vansittart Neale had a dramatic sea crossing returning to the mainland from her Isle of Wight holiday.

22 April 1918
Lovely crossing. Two mine sweepers saved large American convoy by clearing 5 mines!

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

The best results are obtained only by getting into touch with the men personally

Thousands of wounded or sick troops had now returned home. the nation owed them support for their service. Some needed medical help, others re-training for new occupations, or help finding jobs.

The Disablements Sub-committee beg to report that they have been notified of approximately 2,524 disabled soldiers and sailors discharged into the county. Of the cases now entered upon the Register, which exclude those being investigated, the numbers specifying disabilities are as follows:

Amputation of leg or foot 51
Amputation of arm or hand 34
Other wounds or injuries to leg or foot 353
Other wounds or injuries to arm or hand 147
Other wounds or injuries to head 69
Other wounds or injuries 192
Blindness and other eye affections 77
Heart diseases 217
Chest complaints 93
Tuberculosis 101
Deafness and affections of the ear 72
Rheumatism 151
Epilepsy 37
Neurasthenia 47
Other mental affections 31
Other disabilities 532

Of this number all have been provided with a Medical Attendant [i.e. a doctor] under the National Health Insurance Act, and special treatment, including the supply or repair of artificial limbs and surgical appliances, has been provided in accordance with the recommendations of Military Authorities, Medical Boards or ordinary medical Attendants.

From the 1 April 1917, 280 cases have received Institutional treatment – both in and out-patient – at Military Hospitals, Civil Hospitals, Sanatoria, Cottage Hospitals or Convalescent Homes.
The total number of tuberculous soldiers and sailors to date is 101, and of these 72 have received Institutional treatment within the County under the County Scheme and three have received Institutional treatment outside the County Scheme. This treatment is provided through the County Insurance Committee.

The Committee has assisted with Buckinghamshire War Pensions Committee in the provision of a new wing for Orthopaedic Treatment at the King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor. This, which was urgently needed, and will be of the greatest benefit to men in that part of the county, will be opened in the course of two or three weeks. The Committee has also been instrumental with the Buckinghamshire Committee in obtaining the approval of the Minister of Pensions to a proposed Scheme for the provision, equipment, and establishment of a special hospital for totally disabled soldiers and sailors at Slough and an assurance from the Ministry of adequate fees for maintenance thereof. Her Royal Highness Princess Alice is forming a provisional Committee, and we have every hope that the proposed arrangements will e speedily carried into effect.
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The war news is most depressing

The Vansittart Neales were holidaying on the Isle of Wight. The closeness to the Channel made naval news a little closer to home.

Florence Vansittart Neale
11 April 1918

Only 4 big vessels sunk last week.

William Hallam
11th April 1918

Another wet day. Funny weather- murky, damp and foggy, and the war news most depressing.

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

One more name must be added to the roll of immortal honour on which is recorded the names of men who loved peace, but who loved righteousness and truth better

A reluctant but determined soldier, son of a Congregational minister, paid the ultimate price.

After many months of anxious waiting, definite news has come of the death in action, on November 13th, 1916, at Beaumont Hamel, of Mr. Philip G Steer, and so one more name must be added to the roll of immortal honour on which is recorded the names of men who loved peace, but who loved righteousness and truth better. Phil Steer was a son of a manse, and all who knew him looked forward to a great future for him. Combined with a charming manner, he had great qualities of mind. After leaving school he took his B.A. degree, and before he was 21 he was already in the responsible position of assistant master in a public school. The writer well remembers his 21st birthday, for it occurred during our second Trinity Young Peoples Camp in the Isle of Wight, and it was during that delightful fortnight’s companionship that some of us learned the qualities of our friend.

He joined up immediately war broke out, and went through hard fighting in France. When he was promoted on the field for gallantry. He was badly wounded, but recovered quickly and was soon back in France again. Now he has gone, and to those of us who still hoped against hope that he might be a prisoner, the news of his death has come as a great sorrow, and our special sympathy and affection go out to his family in the terrible loss which has come to them. So the great War takes its heavy toll of our best, and we owe it to them who have willingly laid down their lives for a great cause that we carry on their fight till our enemies confess that might is not right, and a true and lasting peace can be achieved.

Trinity Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

Some disabled ex-soldiers are refusing to work

Berkshire County Council found the war coming close to home when its Deputy Clerk, who had joined the army soon after the start of the war, was reported killed. Meanwhile they had begun to tackle the problem of those men who had returned home from the front with a permanent disability as a result of wounds. How might they be retrained?

DEATH OF THE DEPUTY CLERK

Resolved on the motion of the Chairman [James Herbert Benyon]: That a vote of condolence be forwarded to the widow of Lieut-Col H U H Thorne in her bereavement, and that it be accompanied by an expression of the great loss sustained by the Council in the untimely, though gallant, death in action of their Deputy Clerk.

Report of the Berkshire War Pensions Committee

The War Pensions Committee commenced their work on the 1 October, 1916.

The County, in accordance with the Scheme arranged by the County Council, has been divided into twelve Sub-committees, being, for the main part, one Sub-committee for each petty sessional division; but there have been certain adjustments, for the convenience of working, between the divisions of Wokingham and Easthampstead, while the Lambourn division has been divided between Wantage and Newbury division, with the exception of the parish of Lambourn itself, which is being worked by a Secretary and Treasurer.

Almoners have been appointed for each parish throughout the County, and the Almoners and Sub-committees respectively have had powers given them to deal with all urgent cases of wives and dependants of soldiers and sailors requesting financial assistance, each case being reported to this Committee for approval or revision as the circumstances may require.

During the six months alterations have been made in the amount of the State Separation Allowances and valuable additional powers have been given to the Pensions Committee in the way of making additional grants to meet to some extent the increase in prices, and the work has been now thoroughly organised.

Since the 1 October, 1916, up to the 30 April, 1917, the Finance and General Purposes Sub-committee have dealt with 1326 cases of Advances, Supplementary and Temporary Allowances, Temporary and Emergency Grants, etc. The payments made up to the 30 April, in respect of these Allowances and Grants, amount to a sum of £2299 2s 11d.

In addition to this the Sub-committee have dealt with 33 cases of Supplementary Pensions, which have been recommended to the War Pensions etc Statutory Committee.

The other section of the work of the committee is the very important and constantly increasing work of dealing with discharged and disabled soldiers and sailors. The principle adopted has been that so soon as the notification of the discharge of a man into the county has been received, the particulars are sent down to the Secretary of the Sub-committee in whose district the man proposes to live; enquiries are made in the district as to the man’s physical condition with a view of ascertaining whether he needs further medical treatment or training for some form of employment other than that to which he was accustomed prior to his disablement, and further inquiries to ascertain whether he needs financial assistance of either a temporary or permanent character, other than that provided by his pension, if any.

Considerable difficulty has been found in many cases where men have refused to work for fear of endangering the continuance of their pension, or because they are satisfied to remain as they are for the time being at any rate with the pension that they hold. The new Royal Warrant, however, will considerably strengthen the hands of the committee, as the Ministry of Pensions are entitled to withhold a portion of a pension if a man refuses to undertake treatment which the Pensions Committee, acting on medical advice, consider necessary for him, and the Pensions Committee will be enabled to grant a Separation Allowance for the wife and children where the man is undertaking training, and, further, to pay the man a bonus for each week of a course of training which he has competed to their satisfaction.

The provision of training is a difficult matter, as the necessary organisations are few and far between. In Berkshire the committee have three Schemes in course of formation. (more…)

Submarine destroyed

Florence Vansittart headed home after her Isle of Wight holiday, and witnessed an exciting naval fight. She also saw the sad remains of the Gloucester Castle, a hospital ship which had been sunk by the Germans a few days earlier.

4 April 1917
Nice crossing on deck. Saw submarine dest[roy] a submarine; also the Gloucester Castle here under water. Last hospital ships torpedoed off Culver (Sat).

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

Where are they?

Holidaying on the Isle of Wight, Florence Vansittart Neale’s attention turned to the plight of prisoners of war, and the fear of submariners landing secretly.

31 March 1917

Ventnor. A wife of a Turkish prisoner taken at Kut is here. They are so far treated well, but the poor Tommies, they are afraid of them – to fear out of the 6000 taken whether any will return. It is supposed that the Turks do not ill treat them themselves but give them over to the Arabs & Kurds.

I hear that a captain of a German submarine was taken & a bill for dinner was found in his pocket a few days old from an hotel at Bournemouth.

A submarine was found caught in the boom outside Cowes, but no crew. Where are they?

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

Wishing this miserable war would end

Florence Vansittart Neale and her husband returned to the mainland after a stay on the Isle of Wight. Florence then went to see nurse daughter Phyllis.

Florence Vansittart Neale, 18 April 1916

Saw 2 destroyers, the Aquitania & a submarine. Hear they have a V class now. H to London, I to Southampton. Phyllis, Seymour & I spent afternoon together & had tea… Phyllis well & happy – head pro in dining room ward.

William Spencer senior of Cookha, meanwhile, was anxious about his son and German-born daughter in law in Switzerland.

Will Spencer, 18 April 1916
A letter to us both from Father….he is “distressed at Johanna’s position” & wishes that “this miserable war would end.”

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8) and Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/26)

“The great sacrifice”

In Thatcham locals had an idea for a special gift for those who had lost loved ones in the war: individual prints of a painting called “The Great Sacrifice“, the work of James Clark (1858-1943). The original painting was purchased at an auction raising funds for war relief, and is now at the Battenberg Chapel on the Isle of Wight as a memorial to Prince Henry of Battenberg, a grandson of Queen Victoria who was killed at Ypres.

A gift to Relatives of those fallen in the War.

It is proposed to give a copy of the picture called “The great Sacrifice,” to the near relatives of Thatcham men who have fallen in the War. This gift would come as a momento [sic] from the Parish Church, signifying not only our sympathy but also our gratitude to and remembrance of the departed in our prayers.

A notice of this with a copy of the picture and a box will be found on the table at the south door of the church, and it is hoped that all who can will contribute something so as to take their share in the gift. It is by such little acts as these that we are bound more closely together in bonds of sympathy and mutual regard.

Thatcham parish magazine, January 1916 (D/P130/28A/1)

Whole Navy delighted at Winston Churchill’s demotion

Florence Vansittart Neale, holidaying on the Isle of Wight, kept abreast of war news and rumours, from German prisoners escaping to Naval men’s pleasure at seeing the back of Winston Churchill, who was regarded as a disaster as First Lord of the Admiralty after leading Britain into the Dardanelles.

20 June 1915

Hear from Mr Watson that Lloyd George says they have plenty of high explosives now but want shells & fuses.

Heard a Miss Goetz who had been at Ryde came across her cousin, a German officer dressed in khaki. He escaped in a taxi. She told WO. They said there were plenty of those.

Heard through Katie that the papers wrote to order. 1st to be cheerful – now pessimistic to encourage recruiting & to bring in conscription.

Hear we have dummy fleet – even our ships taken in by it.

Hear 2 submarines caught in Portsmouth Harbour.

Hear lighthouse man on Clyde found providing oil for submarines – wathed & caught & hope shot.

The fleet in the Dardanelles is called “the wastepaper basket of the North Sea”.

Captain Carpendale says whole Navy delighted at W. Churchill gone from Admiralty.

Hear regiments sent to trenches to face Germans then come back!

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

A glimpse of Red Cross hospital ships

Still on the Isle of Wight, Henry and Florence Vansittart Neale observed a sea full of British ships:

H & I walked to Bonchurch as near as we could by the sea. Heaps of ships & mine-sweepers. Saw Red X ships, all white…

Heard from Ally – Russia on the offensive.

Heard Sep: was meant to stay & train recruits. He went to the General & before him scratched out his name & insisted on going to Dardanelles – so got in “Hood” division!!

Hear Kitchener & [Sir John] French fierce quarrel. French insisting on more troops. K refused – they not ready but had to send them as F. declared he would call army home if not!!

Heard all “Audacious” crew taken on Queen Eliz:!

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

Germans in England claim to be Swiss

Florence Vansittart Neale and her Admiralty official husband Henry, owner of Bisham Abbey, were holidaying on the Isle of Wight, but kept in touch with war news.

28 February 1915

To Trinity – saw telegram of Dardanelles outer fort destroyed. “Queen Elizabeth” there. Heard from [illegible] officer there last Friday. Went to tea with Venables. Watched “Mine destroyers”, also ship at night – queer lights.

Heard new ship “Queen Eliz:” at Dardanelles. Three times put back – spies on board – narrow risk of explosion – changed suddenly whole of crew.

German here (Ventnor) Freemasons tavern always a German before the war, now says Swiss & put up sign “Hier spricht man Suisse”. V’s tell me a German tailor opposite called Fess – also man “Spenser” with motor boats & pilot boats for hire in secret service here. Rumoured also in German Secret Service. Had German uniform & refuses to let any of his sons fight for England. (Wrote Sir G. Greene March 21st.)

Heard from Mrs Sholto Douglas at that air raid in Essex, bombs fell only 200 yards from barracks (artillery) – full of terriers.

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

New enlistments from Maidenhead

Maidenhead Congregational Church reported on some changes to its roll of honour in the January 1915 issue of its magazine:

NEW ENLISTMENTS

Since our list of men who have joined the Colours was published, there has been some additions.
ERNEST BRISTOW….R.A.M.C. Home Counties’ Field Ambulance.
A.G. PRIOR……………Canadians
HAROLD ISLIP…………R.A.M.C. 2nd Lon. Sanitary Co.

The camp at Newbury has now been broken up, and F.W. Harmer and T.W. Mulford, who have been stationed there, are now guarding prisoners on board H.M.S. Canada, which is anchored about a mile off Ryde.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, January 1915 (D/N33/12/1/5)