Credit is due to the children for often denying themselves some little treat for the benefit of the men who have done so much for us

Many schools sent “comforts” (food, clothing, books, even cigarettes) to soldiers and sailors. Children at Sandhurst also collected for comforts for those serving at home, while those in Burghfield provided various things for wounded soldiers, ranging from eggs to splints made in their handicraft classes.

Mrs Bland’s School, Burghfield
The Managers regret that they are shortly to lose the services of the Head Teacher, Miss M F Jackson, who in the time that she has been here has won their regard and esteem, and has made many good friends. She is engaged to be married to Sergeant Major Edward Mobbs of the Canadian Forestry Corps, who not content with depriving the neighbourhood of so many beautiful trees, is to carry off our good teacher. He only went to Canada about 13 years ago, after 12 years in the Coldstream Guards, and his family live at Tunbridge Wells.

School Efforts

The chestnut campaign has resulted in the collection of 1 ton 3 cwt of “nuts”, and application for their removal has been sent in.

During the period January 1916 to 31st July 1917, no less than 1660 splints and surgical appliances have been made by the boys in Mr Staveley Bulford’s classes in the Handicraft Room, and have been sent in for use in the war Hospitals or abroad.
The children of the CE Schools have up to date sent 1957 eggs and £1.9s.1d in cash for the use of the wounded soldiers, and have been awarded a “War Badge” as a recognition of their efforts. Credit is due to the children (and in many cases their parents) for often denying themselves some little treat for the benefit of the men who have done so much for us.

Lower Sandhurst
December 13th 1917

Sold flags at School on behalf of the Home Defence Comforts Fund. Amount realised in the one day £2. 4. 9 which was sent to Mrs Russell, the Organising Secretary.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1917 (D/EX725/4); Lower Sandhurst School log book (C/EL66/1, p. 418)

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A kind and valued teacher finds love

A popular teacher found love with one of the Canadians supplying timber for the Front from Berkshire forests.

On Saturday December 8th, Miss Marian F Jackson was married to Sergeant Major Mobbs of the Canadian Forestry Corps. We offer them both our hearty congratulations. Miss Jackson has endeared herself to the children of Burghfield Common where she has worked for 2 ½ years, and they will miss a kind and valued teacher.

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

“Do they really think it economical and saving?”

Cambridge don John Maxwell Image was not impressed by the way his college was implementing food restrictions. His colleagues were, he felt, likely to have extra helpings of the main course if they felt short changed.

29 Barton Road
8 Dec. ‘16
My very dear old man,

Yesterday (Thursday 7th) was our Commemoration – not Feast, that’s been abolished during the War – dinner…

But only listen! This is a notice sent round by the Council on Dec. 6 (Wednesday).

“In accordance with an Order made under the Defence of the Realm Regulations (see “the Times” Dec 6, 1916) the High Table Dinner on and after Friday December 8th, and until further notice, will consist of three courses and cheese. On Wednesdays and Fridays, soup, fish and the choice of a sweet or savoury will be provided. On other days the dinner will consist of soup, meat and the choice of a sweet or savoury. A vegetarian dish will continue to be provided daily as an alternative to the fish or meat course.
Henry Jackson
Vice Master.”

Do they really think it economical and saving to have 2, or possibly 3, helpings of sirloin or Saddle? Instead of one help of joint and one of some cheap entrée, made up out of scraps and leavings?

Gwatkin’s letter is to be published separately. I hear that the Foreign Office will use it to state our case. I read it in the Camb. Review and admire and respect it even as you do.

Love to you both from us,
Bild.


Letter from John Maxwell Image to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

A prominent wayside cross

Cookham Dean had already started to think about an appropriate memorial for those villagers who had lost their lives in the war.

War Memorial

A meeting was held at the Vicarage on Saturday, Oct.21st, to consider the advisability of making some preparation for a War Memorial in some prominent place in the Village. There were present: The Vicar (in the chair), Messrs. Saxon Snell and W. Baldwin (Churchwardens), Sir Melvill Beachcroft, Messrs. R.T. Jackson, T. Stretch, Gordon Hills and J.W. Stone. The subject was introduced by Sir Melvill Beachcroft, who eventually proposed that a Wayside Cross be the form of Memorial chosen, to be erected on some prominent site to be selected later. The proposal met with the unanimous approval of all present, and Messrs. Snell and Gordon Hills were asked to prepare designs to be submitted later to all whom it may concern. The proposal seems likely to meet with good support. Mr J. W. Stone, on behalf of Mrs. Stone and himself, promised a subscription of £100.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P43B/28A/11)

Don’t imagine tanks mean the end of the war

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister Florence to describe his current quarters (a cowhouse in a devastated village), and the impact of our newest weapon: tanks.

3.10.16
My dear WF

It sounds paradoxical, but the nearer to the enemy we get, the more peace we get. In other words, action replaces preparation.

It’s 9 am and I’ve just had brekker after a fairly good night – turned in at 10 pm, called at 1 am, up till 4 am, put Garwood in then, and turned in till 7.30 am. Turning in consists of rolling myself up in my blankets on the bench where I am sitting, and falling straight off to sleep in spite of constant traffic and telephoning within a few feet of me. I’m writing from a spacious cellar in which there is a telephone exchange, officers’ mess and sleeping accommodation, our office, officers’ kitchen and men’s sleeping accommodation. In peace times it was an underground cowhouse. The whole system of accommodation here is most interesting and I should love to show you over it – after the war. The village where it is is a complete ruin – scarcely a vestige of the place remains and none at all of the church – a couple of crosses of before the war-date stand in the little churchyard, and standing there before brekker this morning I saw the bodies of a couple of Huns who had been buried there and been concealed by a shell.

[Censored section]

Outside at this moment is a very pale Hun – you could only tell he was a Hun by his tin hat (a very useful and artistic design), for he’s been in a shell hole for 3 days and is thickly muddied khaki from head to foot. He like all the others we get is very thankful to be cotched [sic].

The “tanks” are of course very funny, but the boundless faith of the folk at home in them is even funnier. Our native concert in our ideas is apt to run away with us. With enough of them they may go a long way to winning the war for us. But don’t imagine “tanks” mean the end of the war. (more…)

“The Huns threw a lot of shells about” – and gassed one of their own men

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister Florence with his latest news. This letter, which is, unusually for Percy, typed, is badly torn and parts are missing. He had been gassed, and met an old friend.

30/9/16

Life is such a harassing affair nowadays that I [never see]m to have both the time and the humour to write you … lines, but if I don’t soon send you a letter I [shall for]get altogether how to write one, so here we are, and … excuse the type.

This pushing business is business, but it’s very […] I can assure you. However, the Huns are absolutely […] and very much on the wobble, and I still hope for [the s]udden collapse I feel sure will be the end of this …

Since writing to you last I have added the experience of being lachrymatory [tear] gassed. It was jolly. [Every]one scrambling for helmets and goggles and crying […], the gas seeming to have caused an inflammation which [was] very much aggravated when one closed one’s eyes. At […] the enemy, and I had the pleasure of getting out […]ration orders wearing a gas helmet and goggles. We [wer]e a remarkable assembly – you couldn’t tell t’other from [whi]ch, and when I had finished at my typewriter I was surprised to find that the man at my elbow crowded on the dug-out steps was a German officer prisoner we had captured. It was rather a joke for this fellow to be brought in and suddenly hoist by his own petard, so to speak.

Since then we have had a “rest” – quite an eventful one, for on one occasion I spent a few thrilling minutes watching parachute descents from kite balloons and on another, after tea, lying out in the sunshine, suddenly I espied a splendid fox wending its way amongst some […] trenches and taking cover in the wire entanglement […] rank grass. We chivvied it out and had a small fox [hole?] all on our own.

The night we came out and went into rest we had […] welcome – the Huns threw a lot of shells about and […] knocked down the house opposite us. That’s the second time they’ve done that – it’s most inconsiderate.

By the way I’ve been looking out for Jack Jackson for a long time. He was wounded at LOOS and I imagine he […] long come out again. Anyway a short time ago toward the end of a pretty big do, I was going up in a Staff car [and] just as I was stepping in, who should go by but Jack. [We] only had time for a handshake, and then on he went up […] the line and I to the comparative safety of a dug-out. I hope he came through all right as the main part of that […] bump so far as his Brigade was concerned was then over.

If you could send me some gloves I should be glad.

I am now transferred to the A.S.C. but have no number at present. My pay is 3/6d per day as from Mar. 9th. You might make a note of this. I was sorry to transfer, but had to….

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/5/30)

We can see the beginning of the end – far off

The parish of Clewer was encouraged by news of the Battle of the Somme, but their optimism was rather premature.

The “Great Offensive”, which began in this month [July], has been so far wonderfully successful, and gives promise of further and greater successes in the near future. In fact, we are able to see in it the beginning of the end, though the end must necessarily be far off. The great sacrifice of human life fills our hearts with sadness, and at the same time with pride as we think of the [sic] magnificient heroism of our soldiers of all ranks. Two of our own residents, Frederick Ash and —— Horsgood are amongst those who in the past month have laid down their lives for their country, and in addition to George Buckell and Ernest Jackson who were lost in the Great Naval Battle off Jutland. Our deepest sympathy goes out to their sorrowing relatives, whose one consolation must be that their dear ones died doing their duty. We humbly commend their souls to Him who has told us that, “Greater love hath no one than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”.

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, August 1916 (D/P39/28A/9)

“He worked his own passage home to enable him to serve his King and country”

Large numbers of young men had gone out from Cookham Dean on active service. Sadly, more had fallen in action.

The Vicar’s Letter

The May issue of the Magazine brings with it the publication of the various Parish Accounts for the twelve months ended on March 31st. It will be seen that on the Church Expenses (Churchwardens’) Account there is a balance due to treasurer of £4 18s 6d. Owing to the number of young men on Active Service, the Congregations have been smaller and the Collections less than in former years, and this doubtless to a great extent accounts for the deficit.

Roll of Honour.

Sincere sympathy will be felt with the parents and gallant brothers of Private R. Piercey (Australian Contingent), who was killed at the Front on April 23rd. Private Piercey went out to Australia some years ago. It is with sincere regret also that we record the death of Capt. Jackson, whose name has for months past been on our Supplementary List. Capt. Jackson was a nephew of our friend Mr R. T. Jackson, of ‘Lynwood’, Cookham Dean. The following, taken from The Church Times, will interest our readers:-

Capt. Dudley Jackson, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who died on April 13th from wounds received on March 31st, was the eldest son of the Rev. Gerald H. Jackson, of Hasfield Rectory, Gloucester. Obtaining a commission in the Manchester Militia, he served in the Boer War, after which he served in the Johannesburg Mounted Police, then took mining in S. Rhodesia. At the outbreak of war in 1914, sending his wife and child before him to England, he worked his own passage home, under great hardships to one in his position, as a coal trimmer in a steamship, to enable him to serve his King and country. He was at once appointed to a company in his old regiment (3rd Manchesters), with which he went to France in May 1915. Later he was transferred to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Capt. Jackson married, in 1912, Ethel Grace, elder daughter of Mr Medcalf, of Capetown, and leaves one son.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P43B/28A/11)

Tragedy too deep for words

Burghfield schoolchildren celebrated Empire Day on 13 March 1916 with a set of patriotic tableaux.

MRS BLAND’S SCHOOL

The children of Burghfield Common have beaten all records in the matter of attracting an audience at the Technical Schools. Not a seat was empty when they gave their bright little performance on Empire Day, and whether or not the whole programme was evolved from Miss Jackson’s own brain, it was cleverly conceived and admirably carried out.

Gordon Prior, aged only 13, ably undertook the accompaniments, the chief item being a representation of the Allied countries now at war with the Central European Powers. Florence Pembroke, in gorgeous silver armour as Britannia, Elsie Love as France, Kathleen Bunce as Belgium, Raymond Batts as Japan, Italy by Ernest Brant, Russia and Servia [sic] by Frank Lalouette and William Emms, made a tableau which reminded us, alas! of a tragedy too deep for words, and only a strong personal interest in the performers themselves and their capable achievement enabled us for a moment to forget the anguish of the reality.

A collection made at the doors raised £4 12s 6d, which has been devoted to the aid of soldiers blinded during the war, whose case perhaps makes a greater appeal to our sympathies than any other, and we sent all our love and pity with the pennies so freely and cheerfully contributed by all the company.

Burghfield parish magazine, July 1916 (D/EX725/3)

Now they know what war means

Meg Meade wrote to her brother Ralph in Egypt. She was staying with their parents in Peterborough, and had heard from her naval husband.

Peterborough
Jan 26th [1916]
My darling Ralph

I hear that the beautiful Lady Loughborough was an Australian called Miss Chisholm & she married out in Egypt the other day.

I sent the Gallipoli bomb to Miss Jackson at that Irish address. I have not yet heard if it’s arrived alright.

I sent £1 to the Home Office for permission for you to wear those foreign orders, & they have acknowledged the money without saying where the warrants have been sent to…

How I envy you in beloved Egypt, & near the Nile!

Jim writes very well, but they have no news. His destroyers are joining up every day, & the gales never stop blowing for an hour…. Jim sent me really a heavenly rhyme about Royalist & her officers which I am copying out for you. Isn’t it priceless.
Maysie will tell you all her news. Poor John has got to have his jaw cut again before it can heal.

The parents seem very well, & Mamma has a thousand irons in the fire as usual, & sometimes get her fingers burnt, but she always retaliates! She’s started a first class Red X workroom in the Knights Chamber which of course infuriates the other Cross Red women who aren’t Red X here!

There is no chauffeur & no gardeners. We live in the hall & dining room & Dad’s study. Mr Green & the housemaids are supposed to run the garden!! So Dad & I had a morning’s weeding today, one had almost to push one’s way along the Monastery Garden through the weeds. But the War has reduced all gardens to that. Dad busy with the hoe, poking, pushing & destroying, muttered pathetically, “Poor dears” & I found he was addressing the weeds!

PS I went to see Aunt Syb who is wonderful, & Joanie, who is the same, but she seemed to me so altered in the face. Something has happened to her eyes, & they seem shattered by the sorrow and shock, & who can wonder. It is so awful.

[On a separate sheet is the poem:]

(more…)

Thank you for the Turkish bomb

Ralph Glyn’s sister Meg Meade had passed on a souvenir he had sent her to a friend in Ireland.

Ballykuran
Athlone

Jan 24, 1916

Dear Mrs Meade

So many thanks for forwarding the Turkish bomb, it arrived quite safely this morning, & looks so nice, it seemed to have been unpacked en route, but most of our parcels seem to be inspected by someone.

We had such a cheery letter from my brother about a fortnight ago, is not it delightful to feel they have left that awful Gallipoli.

Again thanking you so much for sending the bomb.

Yours truly

Ada B Jackson

Letter to Meg Meade (D/EGL/C19)

“Truth, honour, humanity are dead”

The Union of Democratic Control was a movement opposed to many aspects of the war. It was obviously very controversial, as John Maxwell Image reports from Cambridge. Opponents included the classicist Henry Jackson, Vice-Master of Trinity College, a very distinguished academic who was among those who brought about the admission of women students at Cambridge.

29 Barton Road
23 January ‘16
My dearest S[mith]

Are you troubled in Malvern by the UDC? Union of Democratic Control? Well, last term they publicly advertised a Meeting to be held in the rooms of one of the Fellows. The Council read the Advertisements and prohibited the Meeting. Thereupon 14 of these demanded a College Meeting on the subject. It was held yesterday. 42 Fellows present. Virtually, it was of course to elicit a vote of want of confidence in the Council: that, and nothing less. But with Asquithian cunning, their motion in virgin innocence professed merely that a Fellow should have the right to entertain in his own rooms meetings upon any subject, not illegal or immoral. Illegality is best handled by the police, rather than the Council; and no crimes are so atrocious as those committed in the veil of morality. Quantum religio, et cetera.

The Meeting was opened in a speech of nearly one hour’s duration: under cover of defence of liberty of speech, for he professed dissociation from the UDC. The speech was platitudinously irrelevant and when, towards the close of his hour, he unexpectedly aid, “To come to the point”, listeners tittered. Oratory on all sides frothed and fumed. Idle amendments were proposed – and carried! At last one sound head – who had travelled up from London got up and proposed. “I move that the Question be not put.” He was instantly seconded – and his motion carried by a thumping majority! Delighted, we broke up after 2 ¾ hours of tub thumping.

The odd thing is that at a meeting – a Caucus – to oppose the UDC’s proposal, on the previous Saturday, when the universal feeling appeared that the case demanded a vote on a straight issue and no timid amendments, this very thing was moved, “that the Question be not put” – and only 3 men (of whom Bild was one) voted for it. One week later it was carried by 2 to 1.

The most painful thing to me was when dear old Jackson (who is so deaf that he can have heard nothing of the oratory) suddenly arose and delivered his soul. I had never heard accents so loud, or language so downright. He dared to say exactly what honest men universally are feeling, about German warfare. “Truth, honour, humanity are dead. The War is not ending, it is going on. I hope it will go on until after I am dead.” U.s.w. Oh how I wish I had the memory to recall the actual words. Quid si ipsam tumantem audiisses!

I thought poorly of Grey and his Barsalong talk. I heard the whole story, soon after it had happened, from the Captain of a British destroyer.

All affectionate wished for the New Year from us both to you and die Madame.

Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

Hope for the best and be prepared for the worst

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister Florence again. He was not very flattering about artist brother Stanley’s potential as a soldier, but was concerned about newly commissioned brother Sydney.

June 4, 1915
Dear Florrie

Here we are after a night move two days ago, a little move to the south and west. Jack Jackson’s regiment went by me in the dark but I didn’t catch sight of him. I expect he’s all right still as I believe our brigade has done most of the serious work so far.
This is a delightful and wealthy place – with a more glorious garden still than the last, and all the peace of a private farm, and all the joy of peasant men and women working about the place. But we are under the eye of the enemy so all our movements are dark and clandestine.

Mother’s letter was quite good. The artful touch about Edith French was very amusing. Edith will look perfectly charming in a nurse’s uniform, I agree. Tell mother I’m sure she’ll be wrapped up by the first sensible fellow fortunate enough to be wounded and nursed by her, and that I’ll try hard for the post.

By the way, the sweet little lady had written me a charming letter which I hope to answer. Why on earth isn’t she married? The men of her own wealth must be blind, or is it because she lives at the end of the world?

I do hope Stan will stick by the home. He really isn’t of much account for military purposes, but of course I understand it’s hard for him to remain out of this business, and he might be useful in the medical way.

Of course Sydney if he gets a commission and comes out soon will have the worst of it, and take exceedingly serious risks of at least being winged. Nobody except those who have been through it knows the cost and danger of an attack, and I don’t want him to be told, but, Flo dear, if he comes out as a subaltern, hope for the best and be prepared for the worst.


Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/4/32)

“A rummy go”: 10 miles from the fighting, farmers are at work

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister about life close behind the line.

April 12th 1915
Dear Florrie

You’re a marvel.

Never was there such a parcel. The ingenuity of it all passes the mere mind of a man. Thank you for all its contents – chocolate, [spiritives?], battery, tobacco, tripod, cap, matches – is there anything I’ve forgotten!

And thanks for the biscuits.

Yesterday we had some fun. A hostile aeroplane came over, fired at by our allies’ guns. Then some of our aircraft got up, but too late to engage, otherwise we were looking forward to a fight right over our heads. However the enemy was driven off and had again to run the gauntlet of gunfire.

We’ve lost a few of our men up to date, but not many, and they have created a good impression I believe in the fighting line.

I think I told you I had been pretty close up, and now I hear from Stan that one of the Kennedys had been killed just about where I was.

I wonder if H Jackson of the 7th will ever look in here – quite likely as they are in our Division. I suppose he’s a lieutenant…

While I’ve been writing to you an aeroplane has been skirmishing around and being shelled. It’s a rummy go. Guns going and rifles cracking a short distance away from peaceful agricultural employment. I think that struck me more than anything else. A short ten miles from the fighting line over ground which had been quite recently the scene of bloody engagements, farmers were at work again.


Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/4/22)

“Miserable, fearing his arm must come off”

The small hospital for Belgian soldiers at Bisham Abbey was attracting visitors – friends of Florence Vansittart Neale anxious to see how it was doing. Florence’s nephew Paul Eddis was involved in a daring raid on the German naval base at Curhaven.

31 December 1914
Mary Hime & Eardley Wilmots to see hospital. Poor Gustave Kupne miserable, fearing his arm must come off…

Heard through Mary Hime Paul was in the Curhaven raid with his submarine. Also John Stainton wounded in lung, ball in stomach.
Parents gone to Boulogne.

General Plumer in command of [7th?] Army Corps [illegible] Indian regulars & Terriers. Charlie Jackson his ADC.

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