Italians doing well

Our Italian allies were making decisive progress against the Austrians.

20 June 1918
Italians doing well against Austrians.

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

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He went up the trenches and 48 hours later had died of wounds

Reading churchgoers were encouraged to pray for our oppressed allies.

S. Mary’s (Lent 1918)
SUGGESTED INTERCESSIONS

In connection with the war

Sundays The gaining of a permanent peace.
Mondays Our own sailors, soldiers and Airmen.
Tuesdays All war workers, men and women at home and abroad.
Wednesdays The sick, wounded and prisoners, and anxious and bereaved on both sides.
Thursdays Our allies, and more particularly the oppressed nationalities of Belgium, Serbia, Roumania, Montenegro, Poland, Armenia and the populations of occupied territories of France and Italy.
Fridays Our enemies.
Saturdays The fallen.

Congratulations
Our heartiest congratulations to Lady Carrington, whose second son Lieut. C. W. Carrington of the Grenadier Guards has recently been awarded the Distinguished Service Order. It will be remembered that her eldest son also gained the D.S.O. and the youngest son the Military Cross.

R.I.P.
Our deepest sympathy has been given to Mrs Montague Brown, on the death of her husband. He went up the trenches on a certain date, and news came forty eight hours later that he had died of wounds. May the God of all comfort console those who are mourning his loss!

S. Saviours District
Our hearty congratulations to Lieut. Fred White on gaining the Military Cross and to Corporal Will Taylor on gaining the D.C.M., and being now out of Hospital.

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

Marching into Jerusalem tomorrow

The Allies were doing better in the Levant.

10 December 1917

Jerusalem surrendered. Our troops, some French & Italians, marching in tomorrow.

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

Our hopes of having a peaceful Christmas this year have been dashed to the ground

Reading people were encouraged to place their savings in the hands of the war effort as another Christmas approached.

The Vicar’s Notes

We are still at War, and our hopes of having a peaceful Christmas this year have been dashed to the ground; but this great Festival always brings a message of comfort and hope, never more so than at such a time as this: so I still venture to wish all the people of S. Mary’s Parish a happy Christmas.

The War Savings’ Campaign has begun again. I hope we will all back it up to the utmost of our power. Information can be obtained at the bureau, 6 Broad Street. A big meeting for stirring up interest will also be held at an early date. Meanwhile let those of us who have received the special letter from the Mayor and other leading townsmen, do what we can to follow out its suggestions.

Nothing can ever really repay the incalculable debt we owe to our Seamen especially at this time: so let us do our best to support the Flag Day of the Missions to Seamen, which is to be held on Dec 1st.

Intercessions

For the newly confirmed, who are making their first communion at Christmas.

For all our allies, especially the Italians and Russians.

For all our fighting men and more particularly for the sick, wounded and prisoners.

For the fallen, especially George and Hanbury Kekewich; also for Sir Stanley Maude, the victor of Bagdad [sic].

Thanksgivings

For success granted to our arms in France and in the Holy Land.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

We refused peace terms thinking the Germans were “on the run”.

Inserted at the front of Florence Vansittart Neale’s diary are her notes made sometime in December 1917 on war news. The impact of America joining the war was beginning to be felt.

December 1917

Hear 4 generals sent home without return tickets!

Hear Germans offered good peace terms 3 months ago. We refused thinking they were “on the run”.

Our troops hissed going through Rome. Cadorna hated by Army – he the Vatican’s party.

Coldstreams scared 91,000 prisoners being taken.

One HQ taken – generals and colonels still adding.

Hear American troops to be trained in Ireland to shame the Irish.

500,000 Americans already in France.

Hear through W Grimmett last push we took any amount of stores & clothing, made light railway & sent it to base before 2 days.

Hear another push is to begin soon.

Americans getting to France about 5000 a week.

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

Germans “too downtrodden to rise”

Florence Vansittart Neale was glued to every wild rumour about the war, while Will Spencer’s love for his German wife had only grown stronger through their difficult years of exile in Switzerland.

Florence Vansittart Neale
November 1917
[inserted before 23 November]

Hear P. Innes says state of Germany awful. People too weak to rise, able bodied men only able to work half time, too downtrodden to rise.
Hear the Pope instigated the Italians to give up. He encouraged Austrian spies everywhere!

23 November 1917

Hear Boy cannot get Paris leave. Hope for January…. Hear most domestic servants to be requisitioned for work – only allowed 1 servant each person! Counting the gardeners!!!

Hear General Plumer & staff have been in Italy 3 weeks to see how many necessary to keep Italy. Our troops must go over Mt Cenes pass.

Hear through Marga that a Florentine Regiment who deserted was sent back to Florence with “traitors to their country” on their brassades.

Hear many battalions would willingly shoot 1 in 10 of strikers [illegible].

Will Spencer
23 November 1917

During the afternoon I called & had an interview with Herrn Fursprech Engeloch. Father need take no further steps to obtain attestation of my residence in Cookham before Jan. 19/15, as it may not be needed. As soon as the matter comes before the Gemeinde (I told him we had chosen Oberburg [as their official home town in Switzerland]. Herr E. will let Oberst Reichel know, in order that he can then write on our behalf, stating that we are friends of his, as he has kindly offered to do. Probably the best means of letting the German authorities know that I had become a Swiss subject would be to apply to have Johanna’s money sent here, mentioning thereby that I am a Swiss subject, & if that is questioned, to then place the matter in the hands of the Swiss Political Department. My naturalization cannot finally be ratified until the Grosser Rat has met again. It only meets twice a year, & will meet next, Herr E. said, in Feb. or March, or at the latest in April….

I was sorry to have to tell Johanna how long we might have to wait for the ratification of our naturalization. After we had had coffee in Johanna’s room, something moved me to tell her that I had learned to know her better & that she had become more to me than ever during these last years – in some ways years of trial – in Switzerland. Johanna had afterwards to go into the town, but she would not let me go with her, as I was not quite up to the mark, & she thought it better for me to rest. When she returned, she thanked me again for what I had said. I said that I was sorry that they were only words that I had spoken, that I felt such things were better expressed in deeds, but she comforted me with the assurance that what I had said had not been merely words.

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

Italians holding their own

Florence Vansittart Neale was pleased with the latest news.

22 November 1917

Smith home from France.

Italians beginning to recover – holding their own. Hope we are behind them by now, & France.

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

A muffled peal rings in Reading

The parish of Reading St Mary had to mourn a number of losses.

The Vicar’s Notes

We have to mourn two losses lately, which have brought the War sadly home to us at S. Mary’s. William Holloway, Sergeant in the Royal Berks, was our Cross-bearer, a member of our Choir, the first server at our Altar, and Secretary of our Men’s Club. His whole character was marked by the strongest loyalty, loyalty to his country, and to his Church. His influence was wholly and entirely for good. We are thankful that his death was painless and instantaneous. A “Requiem” was said for him on Monday, Oct.22nd, at 7-30, and a wreath placed on the War-shrine by the Servers on Sunday, Oct. 28th.

The other loss is that of Alfred T. Reeves, one of our youngest bell-ringers. He was seldom absent from the belfry on Sundays, and a muffled peal was rung, out of respect for his memory, on Wednesday, Oct. 17th.

May they both rest in peace.

Notice
Men of Engineering or Seafaring experience, also Tradesmen or Labourers, of any age, who are desirous of doing ruminative war-work are advised to apply to the Rev. R. Wickham Legg, of S.Mary’s Vicarage, Reading, who is in a position to help them to this end.

Intercessions

For all our Allies, especially the Italians.

For all our fighting men, and also for those who have lately joined the Army, especially Harry Frewin (one of our Altar Servers).

For the sick, the prisoners and the wounded, especially Walter Towner, one of our Choirmen, severely wounded in the head and thigh; for Fred Eggleton, one o0f the Banner-bearers; for Arthur Stokes (of Cherry Court).

For the fallen, especially for William Holloway, our first Altar server at S. Mary’s; for Alfred T. Reeves, one of our Bell-ringers; for Cecil Coulton (of Lavender Street).
R.I.P.

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

A brave bride

New bride Elizabeth Paget (nee Vansittart Neale) had to say goodbye as her husband’s leave was up.

2 November 1917

Bubs & E. down by 4.50. Boy [bridegroom Leo Paget] gone that morning. Our poor dear bride very good & brave but must feel it dull…

Italians still retreating.

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

Awful Italian debacle

The Italians’ defeat was getting even more disastrous.

30 October 1917
Awful Italian debacle.

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

Italians terribly beaten

Florence Vansittart Neale was correct in her assessment. The Battle of Caporetto, as this fight was known, was to be notorious as one of the nation’s worst ever defeats.

28 October 1917

Italians terribly beaten, I fear.

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

Plodding on

Will Spencer’s quest to change nationality was going well. Florence Vansittart Neale continued to be anxious about the war news.

Florence Vansittart Neale
27 October 1917

No air raids mercifully, tho’ bright moon. Germans pushing Italians back. Germans claim 20,000 prisoners. We plodding on.

Will Spencer
27 October 1917

Called & spoke for the first time with Herrn Fursprech Engeloch, who expressed himself very pleased that the matter of my naturalization would now end satisfactorily. He returned to me my Aufeuthaltsbewilligung, for the event of our going to Goldiwil.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)
and Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX810/26)

Italians getting on splendidly

The current guests at Bisham were having a good time, while there was good news from our Italian allies. Monte Santo is now Sveta Gora in Slovenia, close to the Italian border.

1 September 1917

Lt McFarlane left 9.45… The Canadians had been on river (Austman and Kelly, RFC).

Italians getting on splendidly. Over 20,000 prisoners Monte Santo.

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

Binding up the wounded in No-man’s-land

A Reading soldier reports on the act of heroism which won his former vicar a medal.

EXTRACTS FROM LETTER TO THE VICAR THANKING FOR THE PARISH MAGAZINE, FROM MEN ON SERVICE.

By the way I saw the Rev. T. Guy Rogers winning his honour, in fact I saw him in the trenches and No-mans-land binding up the wounded, with our Chaplain, who also won a Military Cross. The Rev. T. Guy Rogers preached the Sermon at the Church Service held on the evening before we went into action at the time when our Brigade captured the village of Lesboeufs on the 25th. I was talking to him and our Chaplain in the third German line and they asked me where most of the wounded lay in support with a gun team and they went forward. Soon afterwards we had orders to move forward and hold ground won and I saw them busy binding the wounded. It was one of the days I shall never forget.

W. HOLLOWAY.

I was at the Dardanelles through the main operation and our ship did some very good work in landing troops &c. I had the misfortune to see the Italian ship ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ blown up. It was a terrible sight and it made us quite nervy for a week or so . But I am proud to say that our ships did all that was possible in the work of rescue.

L.O. STAGG, A.B.

CARE AND COMFORTS

The following have been sent from the Working Party: 5 pillow slips, 6 shirts, 30 locker cloths, 35 limb bandages, 18 bags; total, with those already acknowledged, 1,940.

Donations have been received as follows:

Senior members of St John’s and St Stephen’s Choir, balance of Outing Fund £3.17.11

Miss K C Lovejoy £1

Anon 10s

Mrs Dimbleby 5s

Reading St. John parish magazine, February 1917 (D/P172/28A/24)

A “fine display of assmanship” in Earley

Wounded soldiers being nursed in Reading were treated to a party in Earley, complete with a possibly rather overworked donkey.

21st June

The longest Day in summer was the occasion of the entertainment of about 40 wounded soldiers from two of the town hospitals to a garden party at the Vicarage. The hostesses were the members of the Girls’ Club. Of these, with others who were present to assist at the games, there were a goodly number, and although the party amounted to about 100 persons. The manager of Tramways was good enough to provide two cars without charge for the conveyance of the soldiers, and the home send off at 6.30 occasioned quite a flutter in the neighbouring windows.

The soldiers were received by Mrs Norris, as head of the club, and the members at 3pm; and the weather being all that could be wished proceedings opened quietly enough with skittles and bowls for the active, and a rest for such that were tired. But the spirit which moves between guests and hostesses who have not met hitherto, and which is especially welcome on these occasions had not yet arrived. His appearance, however, at a quarter to four was unmistakeable in the form of an ass harnessed to a barrel organ and guided by an Italian, arriving on the lawn suddenly in the midst of the company.

Henceforth the soberness of the games and the sweet music of Mr Cyphus at the piano gave way to donkey rides for nothing accompanied to the familiar airs associated with the streets, and until the tea bell sounded the bowls and the skittles lay idle on the grass. Earlier in the day the girls had decorated the Parish Hall with flags and flowers and had provided a sumptuous tea, of which all partook with great satisfaction. After which the Vicar, on behalf of the hostesses, offered a welcome to the guests of the afternoon. As was fitting he touched lightly both on the grave and gay sides of the occasion, and drew in response an excellent reply from the senior representative from Struan House Hospital which was concluded in much cheering.

The hundred then took up their position on the lawn and submitted themselves to the menacing eye of the camera, which doubtless will on this occasion make us all look beautiful. This ordeal over, and our brother the ass having been refreshed, moreover the courage of those who wished to ride and had no experience of it being quickened by the successful gallops of others – a fine display of assmanship was given especially when the fair rider was supported by footmen on either side: and all went as merry as wedding bells until the inexorable call of time at 6.30. So ended a memorable occasion.


Earley parish magazine, July 1916 (D/P192/28A/14)