“The Great War in which our whole nation and indeed nearly all the world is engaged”

The anniversary of the war’s start was cause for the parish of Reading St Mary to take stock.

Intercessions

For those just gone to the front for the first time, especially Frank Taylor, our late Sacristan, and Edward Henry Bartholomew, one of our Choirmen, both of whom have gone to France; also Claude Towers, who has just started for Mesopotamia.

For the fallen, especially Richard Page (died of wounds received on June 7th), and Arthur Clements Hiberden.

All Saints’ District
The War

On Saturday, August the 4th (the third anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War) there will be a celebration of the Holy Communion at 8 O’clock, and on Sunday the 5th, there will be celebrations at 7, 8 and 10. Throughout the day the special services will be used, and copies will be provided for the use of the congregation. The collections will be for the Assistant Clergy Fund.

R.I.P.

Our deepest sympathy will be given to Mr. R. F.S. Biddulph and his family on the loss of his elder son Richard Herbert Hoel Biddulph who died of wounds in France on July 5th. He was a member of the Canadian Forces and volunteered for service immediately on the outbreak of war.

St Saviour’s District
August 4th

It will not be possible to pass this third anniversary of the Great War in which our whole nation and indeed nearly all the world is engaged, without some special looking to God, and renewal of national purpose. Probably Sunday August 5th, will be more specially kept as a day of United Prayer and renewal of purpose before God, and of thanksgiving too for renewal of purpose to united effort and sacrifice, which he has made, and is still making to us. Let us at S. Saviours come together before God in Church and there in worship, communion and prayer remember our nation, our church, our dear ones etc. and offer ourselves again to him to do and to suffer all that He wills.

R.I.P.

John Warren Wells, of the Canadian contingent, has been killed in France. As a small boy he lived in Garnet Street, and our sympathy is with his family and relatives, especially with Mr. George Wells, our sidesman. Among those recently wounded in France is, we are sorry to hear, George Jacobs, of 1 S. Saviour’s Terrace, we hope that his family will soon get news of his good progress.

St Mark’s District

We are glad to have good news of the S.Mark’s lads from France and elsewhere, though we are sorry to hear that Trooper H.T. Chamberlain has been in hospital at Alexandria for some weeks suffering from severe breakdown and shell-shock. We trust he will soon be quite restored to health again.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, August1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

Morning hate

Percy Spencer wrote to his just-married sister Florence to report on life quartered in a civilian village just behind the lines – and close enough to be at serious risk.

21.10.15
My dear Sister

Last night I moved back here. We weren’t very close up, but quite close to what has been our front line, as you can imagine it wasn’t a very cheerful place. All these villages are more or less in ruins, but still a lot of the people remain amongst the ruins and live in the cellars. The children play about in the shell holes and make miniature dugouts.

Yesterday morning the Bosche suddenly began throwing shells just over our roof and into the field behind. We happened to be upstairs at the time and experienced all the delightful uncertainty of “will it hit us; won’t it hit us”. From below grandmothers and mothers burst out, rounded up their various charges and went to ground. Far straying youngsters stopped their play and came pounding along home. And then the gentlemen across the way suddenly came to the end of their morning hate, and peace reigned again pretty nearly all day. But just when we were due to move off, everything was cancelled; an attack was expected near us and there was nothing to do after we had rearranged all our dispositions but to sit tight and wait for the music to begin. The previous night 5 pm had been the chosen hour and the Bosch had made a dart which had fizzled out with many losses to them and no loss of ground to us. But last night they apparently thought it better of it anyway, no attack developed and about 8 pm I moved down here and opened shop again in a larger room. The only thing against the place is that it’s riddled with shell splinters – a shell having pitched on the corner of the doorstep.

You were very generous with the wedding cake; it was excellent. After thinking it over I came to the conclusion that it was no use my trying the dream test, and eat the cake there and then, assisted by sundry sappers of the Signal Section who were all in favour of my applying the dream test, especially as I haven’t a pillow, and the cake wouldn’t have been much improved in mixing with my hair.
All our fellows who got knocked out wounded when I lost my kit are at home in various hospitals, one on Manchester, another in Liverpool, and three or four in London: one in Barts, badly hit in the legs.
Thank you for the Jacobs books. I get very little undisturbed time and they are just the sort of thing for us. You’d be surprised how I’m asked to lend them round. Anything that isn’t about the war is so welcome.

Well, I’m going to close for the present.

On second thoughts, I’ll hold on; the post has just arrived; three big bags around which half a dozen eager boys are scrambling, and here comes my share…

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to his sister Florence (D/EZ177/7/4/49-50)

The Church Lads’ Brigade goes into khaki

Over 50 men who had previously been members of the Earley St Peter branch of the semi-military religious boys’ club were now serving.

Church Lads’ Brigade.

The time has come when we are obliged to adopt the Service (khaki) uniform. Many companies have been in uniform for the past 2 years. The Reading Battalion has hitherto tried to manage without incurring this extra expense, but is now compelled to fall into line. The Battalion is making a very strong appeal for the necessary funds to enable them to do this, and we hope our readers will liberally respond. The Church Lads’ Brigade has been in existence for twenty-three years and our organization some three years ago received recognition by the War Office under Cadet Regulations. We appeal with the more confidence on account of the work the Church Lads’ Brigade is doing at the present time. Over 200,000 past and present members are serving in H.M. Forces, 500 of whom are old members of this Battalion, and so satisfied is the War Office with the efficiency of our organization that they have conferred upon it the unique distinction of allowing a Special Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifles to be formed of its members. Of our S. Peter’s, Earley, Company no less than 56 of the past and present members are serving as will be seen from the subjoined list.

4th (Cadet) Battalion Oxford Regiment, S. Peter’s, Earley Company, No. 2679.

Present Officers – O’Leary, Sergeant. C.J., 1st Batt. Dorset Regt. (wounded).

Past Officers – Strong, Sergt. L.P./ Canadian Forces.

Lads – Past and Present
Jones, H., 11th Batt. Suffolk Regt.; Goodger, F., Driver B.R.C. Ambulance, France; Spratley, E., H.M.S. Britannia; Spratley, A., Government Railway Work, France; Green, Lce.-Corpl. G., 4th Batt. Oxford and Bucks L.I.; Leaver, Sergt. A., A.S.C.; Howlett, P., Australian Contingent; Bolton, C., 4th Royal Berks. Regt.; Simson, V., H.M.S. Magnificent; Harwood, P., A.S.C.; Townsend, G., H.M.S. Syren; Admas, J., R.M.L.I. (H.M.S. Rapid); Adams, D., R.M.L.I.; Ballard, A., 1st Canadian Contingent (wounded); Bowden, J., 4th Royal Berks. Regt. (wounded); Martin, J., Dragoon Guards; Maskell, G., 6th Batt. Royal Berks. Regiment; Ansell, Lce.-Corpl. G., 12th Batt. Hampshire Regt.; Harding, G., R.M.A.; Harding, H., 5th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Edwards, F., Royal Navy; Wright, G., 8th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Snellgrove, F., 17th Batt. K.R.R.; Parker, Lce.-Corpl. J., 4th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Borroughs, H., R.A.M.C.; Beeson, F., Berks R.H.A.; Iles, B., H.M.S. Canada; Gains, V., R.E.; Barton, C., 4th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Jacobs, A., A.S.C.; Hitchcock, J., 7th Batt. Gloucester Regt.; Berry, F., 4th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Illott, A., 4th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Gatehouse, R., R.M.L.I. (H.M.S. Stonewall Jackson); Worsfold, A., 2nd Batt. K.R.R.; Allen J., 7th Batt.Royal Berks. Regt.; Neale, W., 3rd Batt. Royal Berks Regt.; Shorter, E., R.E.; Shorter, H., R.E.; Port, C., A.S.C.; Waller, L., H.M.S. Agincourt; Phillips, J., Berks R.H.A.; Watts, E., R.N. Flying Corps; Webb, Lce-Corpl. E., 8th Co. R.E.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, October 1915 (D/P191/28A/22)

The men of Earley serving their country

An extremely long list of men with connections with Earley St Peter were receiving the support of parishioners’ prayers.

List of Names on the Roll of Honour and Prayer List
Duncan Adams, John Adams, Henry Adams, Frederick Allen, John Allen, Frank Allum, George Allum, George Ansell, Robert Ascroft, Frank Aust, William Ayres, Henry Ayres, Cyril Ayres, Reggie Ayres, John Ayres, James Auger, Samuel Auld, Charles Barton, William Barton, Clarence Burnett, Harry Bosley, Benjamin Bosley, Robert Beeson, Walter Bluring, Gordon Brown, Leonard Brown, Walter Brooker, Charles Baker, Ernest Balding, Albert Ballard, George Breach, Phillip Breach, Ernest Breach, Alfred Breach, Percy Bunday, George Bungay, William Bungay, Charles Bolton, Herbert Blyde, Lewis Blyde, Wilfrid Blyde, Arthur Buskin, Herbert Broadbear, Louis Bunce, Frank Berry, James Bowden, Henry Blathwayt, Harold Bennett, Harry Borroughs, Henry Barney, William Brett, Alfred Broad, Harry Ching, Charles Chesterman, George Chesterman, Ernest Chapman, Edwin Coldman, Edward Cottrell, Percy Cotterell, Hubert Collier, Alfred Cooper, George Comport, Guy Comport, Frank Cook, Ernest Cook, Eric Cook, Fernand Camus, John Cane, Charles Carpenter, Charles Clarke, William Clements, Charles Carpenter, Charles Clarke, William Clements, Charles Capel, Leonard Dann, Frederick Douglas, Reuben Dowsett, Renton Dunlop, Tom Durman, Jack Durman, Hugh Deeds, Ralph Deeds, Sidney Davis, Ralph Durand, Albert Denham, Frederick Dawson, Alfred Dee, Hugh Denton, Sidney Dormer, William Elliott, Charles Elliott, Reginald Elliott, Eric Evans, Alec Evans, Ernest Embery, Cyril Eaton, Eustace Finnes, George Forge, John Forge, Henry Fisher, George Fisher, William Fisher, John Fisher, George Fulford, Bernard Fixsen, Theodore Fixsen, William Farmer, Bert Farmer, Arthur Fulker, Cecil Fowler, William Fowles, Charles Goddard, Guy Goodliffe, Ernest Gowers, George Grey, Cecil Grey, Victor Gaines, Reginald Gatehouse, Herbert Garlick, Charles Phillips Groome, Samual Gould, Wilfrid George, Frank George, Gilbert Green, Frederick Goodger, Richard Goodall, Leslie Grinstead, Albert Howlett, Frederick Hearn, Arthur Hearn, Bert Hearn, Harry Harding, George Harding, Albert Harwood, William Harwood, George Harwood, Charles Haines, George Hitchcock, Albert Hitchcock, Henry Hayward, Percy Hamilton, Frank Hawkins, Albert Hosler, William Hall, Albert Hall, Henry Hall, George Hall, William Hall, Francis Harris, Arthur Harris, Richard Hayden, Fred Hull, Charles Hague, James Hague, Stanley Higgs, Leslie Heelas, Leonard Hedges, Harry Hambleton, Reginald Hawes, William Hope, Jack Howlett, Percy Howlett, Bertie Iles, Edward Iles, Percy Ilott, Thomas Ilott, Albert Ilott, Melville Innes, Walter Jeskins, Albert Jerome, Alfred Jerome, Walter Jerome, Frederick Jerome, George Jerome, Charles Jefferies, Henry Jones, Leopold Jenner, William Jeram, George Jeram, Henry Jeram, Woolf Joel, Alfred Jacobs, (more…)