“The League of Nations is one of the ways in which an attempt is being made to reconstruct the world”

In the end the League of Nations would fail to prevent an even worse conflict, but in 1919 hopes were high.

School News
Christmas Term, 1919
Nov. 11th

We assembled in the School hall at 10.50 am, Sister read us the King’s proclamation, and at 11 am, when the Curch bell rang, we kept the two minutes’ silence, which was being observed throughout the British Empire. Afterwards, Mrs Everett spoke to us about the League of Nations…

We were all acquainted with the ordinary selfish person, yet perhaps we were less familiar with what is known as “family selfishness”, or people who do not mind what happens as long as their family does not suffer. But there is yet a third kind of selfishness, in thinking too much of one’s own country, a selfishness often disguised under the name of patriotism. A true patriot can never do too much for his own country, but in this great League of Nations, we have to include the greater part of the world – not only England, but Germany, Austria, Russia, Japan, and all the other great powers. We have to see that every nation has her fair and proper share, so that the strong shall not oppress the weak, and, moreover, the children of each country may have a chance of growing to healthy manhood and womanhood. The League of Nations is one of the ways in which an attempt is being made to reconstruct the world. The Headquarters will be at Geneva, where all disputes and other affairs will be settled.

Concluding, Mrs Everett said that the older people would do their “bit” as long as they could, but it rested with the younger generation whether the small beginnings would prove a success, and the children of another generation would have reason to look back and bless them.

Clewer: St Stephen’s High School Magazine, 1920 (D/EX1675/6/2/2)

“The war is likely to be the most striking event of the 20th century”

Newbury Museum planned to remember the war and its impact.

Museum and Free Library Committee
Monday, January 19th, 1919


The Hon. Curator laid before the Committee the following report for the past quarter:

Borough of Newbury Museum

Typical Collection.

The war is likely to be the most striking event of the 20th century, and we shall probably not be wrong in devoting the 1 foot 6 inches of wall space allotted to the century almost, if not entirely, to war exhibits. In the table-case there should be nine small but choice objects illustrating the following regions: Britain; North Europe; the campaign in the Murmansk Region; Central Europe; Germany or Austria; Italy; The Balkan Peninsula; Gallipoli; Serbia or Salonika; Egypt; Western Asia; Palestine or Mesopotamia; India; Japan. These objects must be small, as the space at our disposal is very limited, but should be choice. An instructional sectional Mill’s No 5 hand-grenade, an iron cross, and a Turkish cannon-ball, and such-like objects, would be most suitable. Besides these we might exhibit a German shrapnel-helmet, a British gas mask, and a French 75 mm shell-case.

Local Collections

These might be placed in a special case to illustrate the effect of the war on Newbury, and the share in it taken by the Borough and neighbourhood. It would be interesting to collect a complete series of posters, circulars and notices issued by the Police, the County Council, the Borough Council, and the Rural District Council, and by officials and committees acting under their authority; also a complete set of the issue of the “Newbury Weekly News” from the declaration of war to the conclusion of the peace celebrations. These cannot be displayed upon the walls of the Museum owing to lack of space, and the Museum possesses no accommodation for storing them in such a way as to be accessible to students. Perhaps this part of the record could be undertaken by the Free Library.

The special Museum case might, however, contain: Badges of officers and men of the Berkshire regiments; badges and insignia of Newbury Special Constables; badges and arms of the Newbury Volunteers; shell-cases made by Newbury munition firms. These seem to be all that we shall find room for, and ought to be sufficient to show posterity how the war affected Newbury and its neighbourhood.

War Collection – the following special report by the Hon. Curator on a war collection was held before the Committee.:-

Report on War Collections

Now that hostilities have ceased, it is time that the Committee decided what steps should be taken by the Museum to put on record the chief features of the war. In considering this question it will be well to give the matter careful thought, and to make sure that it is approached with due regard to proportion. On the one hand we must avoid concluding that, as the war is an affair of yesterday, it should not be represented in our Historical Collections, still more is it well to remember that, though at the present moment it seems to overshadow in importance all other events, yet it must not occupy an undue amount of space in our cases, but must take its place with other events of a perhaps less dramatic nature. There are two ways in which the war may be considered part of the Museum: one as part of the general history of the Old World, as exhibited on our typical collection; and the other as part of the history of Newbury, as exemplified by our Local Collections.

The Hon. Curator’s report was adopted and efforts were to be made to secure suitable exhibits.


Newbury Borough Council minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

100 miles an hour

Sir Henry Vansittart Neale was encouraging his tenants to keep pigs, part of the movement to encourage homegrown food.

Florence Vansittart Neale
17 March 1918

H arranging for “Pig meeting” in village.

Russians done for. Hopeless. Will Japan try & bolster them up?

William Hallam
17th March 1918

A very sharp frost. An air ship went over this morning but I did not see it. Some say it was travelling 100 miles an hour.

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

Our old German trade is going to Japan

Japan was an ally of the British during the First World War, and enjoyed an economic boom as a result.

William Hallam
1st February 1918

Down town to-night in the Woolworth Bazaar I bought two lead pencils, 1d, made in Japan. This made me think where our old German trade is going.

Florence Vansittart Neale
1 February 1918

Bad raid in Paris – several killed.

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

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)

“More brains than bowels”

Ralph Glyn’s mentor General Charles Callwell, just off to Russia, let him know what was going on at the War Office and internationally. For Czar Nicholas II’s impressions of Callwell, see his letters.

Central Station Hotel
Newcastle-on-Tyne

4th March 1916

My dear Glyn

I got your letter just when leaving. It looks as if things were going to be very dull in Egypt and, with the reduction of garrison, I suppose that there will be reduction of staff. Perhaps you will find yourself nearer decisive events before long. Latest news from Verdun seems quite satisfactory and Joffre two days ago was quite satisfied. Robertson had gone over to see him and Haig.

Wigram and I are for the Grand Duke’s HQ but go to Magily first to see the Emperor & Alexieff. I have a GCMG for Yudenich, who commanded the army that took Erzerum, which should make us popular & will justify our getting pretty well up to the front. Whe we get back to Moscow we may go on to Japan – I have a sack of decorations concealed at Christiania to serve as an excuse – so as to see how things are on the Siberian railway & at Vladivostok, but I could not get Robertson to make up his mind. The King told me that AP [Arthur Paget] put in from Petrograd for a trip to the Caucasus, suggesting a decoration for Yudenich as justification; but he was too late, our trip having already been arranged. We may meet him at Stockholm or some such place. Mac[law?] is going with us as far as Petrograd, he has managed to put in about three months at home on an irregular sort of sick leave and strikes me as having more brains than bowels; he is coming down here later and we start tonight. The passage across is no citch [sic] as it is bitterly cold, it is always rough, & the steamers are small & asphyxiating, proving altogether too much for Wigram and our recruit-servant.

The War Office has quite settled down on its new lines and the breaking up of the MO into MO and to MI seems to work very well and to be a decided improvement. Most of the old gang remain on and some of them look rather tired.

Wishing you the best of luck

Yours sincerely
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

“We are not well prepared for anything but defence”

Former Intelligence boss General Charles Callwell was on his way back from Russia. Fr the diary of Hanbury-Williams, see here.

Grand Hotel & Grand Hotel Royal
Stockholm

31st Jan 1916

My dear Ralph

I got a budget of letters, including two from you, at Petrograd just before leaving, and take the opportunity of a rest here to answer some of them.

I am glad to hear that you are settled in the Intelligence line with Tyrrell and hope that you have not been displaced under the Staff reorganisation which has I presume been carried out. After three weeks absence from England one seems to know nothing. As far as I can make out there is not at present much sign of a serious attack on Egypt, and the sands are running out. K & Maxwell worked themselves into a fidget over it but I never believed that there was danger of a really formidable attempt by the Bocho-Turks – the Boches are too wide awake.

I have had a short but pleasant visit to Russia. They did Ralph Wigram & me tophole and I had much talk with bigwigs and got some things settled. Alexieff the new C of S is a capital man and very easy to deal with. We are on our way back to report & to go to GHQ to Chantilly, and then expect to return and to go through to Japan so as to see the working of the Siberian railway and ginger them up if necessary at Vladivostok; with luck we may manage a visit to the Grand Duke at Tiflis [Tbilisi] en route.

Wigram makes an excellent SO and is a bright, cheery companion – he has abandoned me tonight and I fear the worst. We get many messages for you from the Russian Staff & the Yacht Club. “Mon Dieu – quell applomb [sic] ” said La Guiche of you with a reminiscent sight, but Hanbury Williams referred gloomily to the way AP & you left him in the lurch.

The Germans seem to be beginning a big push on the western front which ought to be good for us and to lose them men whom they cannot afford to lose. It seems to be playing our game as at the moment we are not well prepared for anything but defence – thanks to Salonika and such like.

I hope that you are keeping very fit and find your job congenial. Anyway you are in a good climate for the present. Give my love to Tyrrell, and believe me

Ever yours
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

This is “a war run by a gang of chattering civilians” – but no worse than the French

More secrets are revealed in General Callwell’s latest letter to Ralph Glyn. The general was about to move from overall charge of military intelligence and operations, to a secret mission to our allies in Russia and Japan.

26, Campden House Chambers
Campden Hill, W

30th December 1915

My dear Ralph,

I have no idea where you are or what doing, but send this to Egypt, whither I gather Monro and his big staff have gone. Bell wrote the other day and mentioned that he proposed sending you on to Egypt.
Great changes at the WO consequent on Robertson’s taking over CIGS. Poor old man K is in the corner and quite good – does what he is told. My branch has been split in two, operations and intelligence, Maurice becoming DMO and Macdonogh becoming DMI, a post I still hold pending Macdonogh’s arrival. I go off to Russia with Ralph Wigram in a few days and expect to go on to Vladivostok and Japan – Japan as an excuse for going along the Siberian railway to see how it is doing; one cannot get those Russians to bestir themselves and keep things moving on the line although their munitions from America depend entirely upon it. I am delighted to get out of the WO after seventeen months of it.

It has been an awful scandal about the delay in deciding to evacuate Gallipoli. The withdrawal from Suvla and Anzac was a wonderful performance, but no thanks to the Government for that. I dare not hope that the move out of Helles will be a bloodless affair. When the story of the Government’s vacillations comes to be told, the country will realise what it is to have a war run by a gang of chattering civilians who over-ride the decisions of their own War Council. The only thing to be said for them is that they are no worse than the French gang. The French General Staff now, after we have educated them in London and at Chantilly, quite realise the absurdity of the Salonika affair; but Briand and Co dare not clear out for fear of public opinion and of Sarrail.

Archie Murray goes off tomorrow to take up command vice Monro. He did very well indeed as CIGS and we all liked him, but he did not come in on his own terms and backed by the whole Cabinet like Robertson. K’s visit to the Near East was a blessing in disguise in that the government were, during the interval, told the truth about a number of matters – the lack of men amongst other things, and the majority were got to see that we could not get on without compulsion.
I have not heard from you for quite a long time, but hope you are very fit. I see Dulles has got a division – I wish it was a better one. Give him my love if you come across him.

Ever yours
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

The German ships will have the shock of their lives

The survivor of the Battle of Coronel from whom we heard the other day reports on the aftermath.

Nov. 11th
Got to the Plate according to programme & were cheered by the ships on arrival. Dined onboard “Defence” & had a pleasant evening. We shoved off again for Rio at 3 am, where we are going to mend our hole. We have heard which ships are coming out, & they will be amply sufficient but I can’t tell you what they are, save that the “Gneisenau” & “Scharnhorst” will have the shock of their lives when they see them. We hear the “Kongo” is coming from Japan too.

Follow up to eyewitness account of the naval action off Coronel, Chile (D/EX1159/5/8)

Why this unnecessary evil?

Sydney Spencer agonises over the evils of the war:

Thursday October 29th, Saturday October 31st & Sunday

Oxford still exists, & the sound of martial feet is heard in the land, & bugles startle the sacred learned precincts of our college with their brazen cry, & all points to & tells of war. As I write & think of those days when Loughton and I basked in broiling sunshine on the lawn of the Rose & Lily tea gardens, or paddled our canoe among beds of rushes & golden eyed lilies, & followed the sleepy current of that wending stream which runs by the hotel at Wheatley, & saw the world of nature, & pronounced it “very good”, that in four short months the world would be plunged in war!

Yes, as I write our fair world is clouded & darkened, & shaken to its foundations by one of the greatest & most terrible wars that this world has seen. Germany: France: Servia [sic]: Belgium: Portugal: India: Turkey: Poland: Russia: South Africa! All these countries are at war with one or another! England has Germany as her enemy. England, Belgium, Russia, Japan & France are allied against Germany. Servia has as it were, although the originator of the war, died out of the question. In South Africa there is a German party stirring up hatred against England & causing war & bloodshed. Turkey has lifted her hand against Russia & the relations between England & that nation are at breaking point. Today I see that America is protesting against our detention of a ship the “Kroonland”. India in her loyalty to England is drawn into the net, & so the war circle ever widens & widens till indeed it will be a world war.

And that word war. What does it all mean? Why this brutal waste of humanity, why this “unnecessary evil”? For unnecessary it undoubtedly is. And the answer is surely that the nations are not yet Christianised, that is to say not yet civilised. Are those who say that war is a necessary evil right or wrong? In one respect they are right, in one respect wrong. Or perhaps it were better to say, that if they present their arguments in one light they are right, & if in another light wrong. Suppose they say that in the present state of affairs, since the world is neither Christian nor civilised, since nations are wholly ignorant of even the rudiments of Christ’s teaching, since nations would be greeted, if they were suddenly transported to the other world with Depart ye strong to Me, & my Father, depart ye workers of iniquity who lived on earth with a lie ever on your lips: suppose & say that these people acknowledged all this, & further acknowledged that as militarism is the only universally understood language – what a lamentable truth! – and that consequently when we rise up & punish a wicked nation, we must shew we must talk to them in their own language, we must in a word use militarism as an argument & our language, then undoubtedly was is a most necessary evil, & their statement is true. Consequently it is only untrue when nations have learned to respect other arguments, of “meekness”, of “non-resistance”, of “CHRIST”.

I heard an address a little time back, in which the speaker suggested that if I am to gain a man’s respect, & get him to a higher level, I must first shew him that I can beat him on his own level. I take him to mean that I must teach him to respect the fact that I know his own language & philosophy of life, & can beat him on it, & then lift him – having gained his respect and ear, onto a higher level…Well this is a very specious argument, without doubt, as it would logically mean that I must get blind drunk with another man before I can teach him that temperance is a higher level.

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1914 (D/EX801/12)

A missionary is prevented from going to Japan

Pupils at a Caversham Sunday School run by Broad Street Congregational Church heard about the effects of the war on foreign missions:

ROKEBY HALL SUNDAY SCHOOL
On Sunday afternoon, September 13th, we had a visit from Miss Spencer. After the opening hymn and prayer, Miss Spencer addressed the scholars on missionary work. she told them that although the war had prevented her from going to Japan at present, still she hoped soon to be able to go to the mission field.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, October 1914
(D/N11/12/1/14)