Two sons killed within three months

The war was taking a heavy toll.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING.

With much regret we have to record this month the death in action of yet two more Winkfield men. Pte. George Holloway and Pte. Tom Simmonds.

Mr. and Mrs. Holloway have now lost two sons within three months, and deep sympathy is felt for them in these heavy bereavements. Pte. Tom Simmonds was for many years one of our bell-ringers, and we tender his parents and family heartfelt sympathy.

Pte. W. J. Johnson is also reported killed in action. His mother has lately been living in Winkfield and will have the sympathy of many friends here.

Pte. Albert Carter, who has been out at the Front ever since the outbreak of war, is wounded; he is in hospital in England and we are glad to learn that he is doing well. His brother, Pte. John Carter is dangerously ill in hospital. As we write we hear that he has had a turn for the better and so hope that he is now on the road to recovery.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, June 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/6)

“Wounded no less than three times”

Men connected with All Saints’ Church and its choir were serving their country.

All Saints’ District
Choir

We feel sure that members of the congregation will like to see the following list of members of the Choir who are serving with His Majesty’s forces.

Lieut. C. Atkinson – R.N.A.S.
Sergt. J. C. Hinton – Royal BERKS
Sergt. W. H. Clemetson
Sergt. H.E. Hopcraft – A.S.C.
Sergt. W.Smith – Devons.
Pte. F.R. Johnson – Royal Berks.
Pte. H.N. Gaze – R.F.C.

We are glad to welcome to the Choir Lance-Corporal A. Beedson, of the Royal Warwicks, and Pte. S. Baron, of the Devon Regiment, who have kindly volunteered to give us their help during their stay in Reading.

In addition to the above it will be remembered that our Verger, Pte. J. Mundy, is serving with the Royal Veterinary Corps in France, and that our Organ-blower, Pte. A .H. Maskell, who served in the Royal Berks Regiment and has now been transferred to the Essex Regiment, has been wounded no less than three times. We congratulate him and Sergeants Hinton and Clemetson on their recovery from wounds.

Our Congratulations to Company Sergt-Major S. C. Nowlan, Yorks and Lancs Regiment, of 46 Somerstown, who has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

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

“It is nice to think that our friends at home are always thinking of us out here”

There was sad news for some Winkfield families.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING

It is with very great regret that we have to record the death in action of Lance Corporal Edward Thurmer, Royal Berks Regt. Deep sympathy is felt for his parents who have now lost two sons in this war. A memorial service was held on January 14th.

L.M. Donald Thurmer, R.N. Air Service, has had an accident and has been for some time in hospital at Mudros, but we are glad to hear that he is now nearly recovered.

Pte. William Burt who has been in hospital in France suffering from nephritis and “trench feet” has, we are glad to say, recovered sufficiently to be brought to England and is now in hospital in Aldershot.

Pte. Fred Johnson has just joined the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Berks. Regt.

Mrs. Maynard has received many letters of thanks for their Christmas presents from our men. All seemed pleased with them, and especially appreciate the fact that they were not forgotten at Christmas, and the tenor of most of their letters is summed up in this quotation from one of them, –

“It is nice to think that our friends at home are always thinking of us out here.”

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, February 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/2)

What will America do now?

The Dodeka Club of Reading discussed tentative peace proposals put forward by the Americans, which they thought naive.

The 281st meeting was held at Johnson’s on Feb 2nd 1917.

The host took for the subject of his paper “America and Peace”, the paper being suggested by President Wilson’s peace notes and speeches. The host devoted his paper chiefly to the first and sixth heads of the American President’s note.

1st. No victory to be claimed by either side.

6th. The Freedom of the Seas.

With regard to the first, he contended that victory was essential to the allies, & that Wilson was a visionary. That the greatest argument in favour of this view was the American Civil War between North and South. Only by victory could German Militarism be finally stopped.

Regarding the sixth, some difficulty was expressed as to the exact meaning of the Freedom of the Seas, if it meant a reduction of England’s fleet, this fleet was essential to the life of an island nation.

The host felt the value of his remarks were spoilt by Germany’s new methods of submarine warfare against neutrals, and the discussion was largely devoted to the question of America’s new position.

What will America do now?

Dodeka Book Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)

Mourning the death of a footballer

A keen amateur footballer was among the Reading men recently reported killed.

Notes from the Vicar
Intercessions list

Albert Henry Eaton, R.G.A. Malta; Private C.A. Pritchard, 2/4 Royal Berks; Private Edwin Gerald Ritchie, 2/21 1st London Regiment.

Sick and Wounded: Private James A. Dutton, Royal Scots. Privates Harry, George, and Walter Barnes, (on active service). Stoker Albert Edward Ayres, R.N.; Gunner Harold Whitebread, R.G.A. Lieut. Robert Carew Hunt; George G. Lanitz.

Departed: Martin Sinclair David; Lieut. Cedric C. Okey Taylor; Lieut. W.F.F. Venner; Robert D. Bruce; Private G Cooper; Capt. W.F. Johnson, R.N.; Private Walter Michael Carew Hunt (Canadian Infantry). Henry Bilson Blandy R.I.P.

Prisoner: William Henry Cook.

Our sympathy and prayers go out to those who are mourning the death of these loved ones. Lieut. Venner was the 1st Captain of our S. Giles’ football club and took an active part in its formation.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P96/28A/34)

Killed and wounded in recent battles

The impact of the war was beginning to hit home in Reading, with the relentless news of losses and severe wounds.

The Vicar’s Notes
Thanksgivings

For successes granted to the united efforts of the Allies.

All Saint’s District

The following additional names have been sent in for remembrance at the Altar.

Archibald Wren Carter, Royal Claude Wilson, Leslie Charles Frank Payne, Harry Edgar Hopcroft, Frederick Reginald Johnson.

R.I.P.

Frederick Painter, who was a signaller in the 2/4th Royal Berks, was we regret to hear, killed on July 21st. His brother Tom, it will be remembered, was killed at Givenchy on April the 15th, 1915. We now hear that Arthur, another brother, Corporal in the 1/4th Royal Berks, is missing, and believed killed. Our heartfelt sympathy is with Mr, and Mrs. Painter their parents, 4 Dover street, and with their family. It is a great anxiety to Mrs. Arthur Painter.

Also Albert Day, Arthur Day, George Grant, and Leonard Charles Monney, have been killed in the recent battles in France, leaving widows and children to mourn their loss. We assure them of our sympathy.

The wounded, we are glad to hear, are doing well, even George Gaines whose legs have been so badly damaged by a shell. We are sorry to hear that Cecil Allen is reported missing.

Our War intercessions on Wednesday afternoon and Sunday evening continue as usual.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, September 1916 (D/P98/28A/13)

A great success

The Soldiers’ Club in Newbury was a great success, and about to outgrow its premises. William Mount, the local MP, was the great grandfather of outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Soldiers’ Club in the Pelican Yard has proved a great success under the care of the promoters and managers, not to forget Mr and Mrs Johnson and their family who have been most kind in helping. Mr Johnson has most generously let us have the room free of charge, but it will be let at the beginning of this month, when we hope to move to premises not far off.

We are very glad to hear that our Member of Parliament, Mr W A Mount, has made such a good recovery from his very serious illness on France.

Since our last issue several more Newbury lads have given up their lives for their country. May they receive an Eternal Reward for their self-sacrifice. We think with affectionate gratitude of:

Alfred John Aldridge
William James Piddington
Walter Clarke
Cecil Taylor
and
Guy Leslie Harold Gilbert.

Let us remember our Lord’s words: “He that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.”

Newbury parish magazine, September 1916 (D/P89/28A/13)

Collecting for French Flag Day

Florence Vansittart Neale and her daughter Phyllis, and several friends, were involved with collecting for the French.

30 September 1915

Still fighting. Heard Steptoe wounded….

Phyllis & J[ohnson?] off for French flag day. Dot’s motor came so Edith & I went too. Mr Hart Davis & Olly to lunch – we all off [in] 3 motors. Did Cookham & Cookham dene [sic] – out till 6.30. Did fairly well. 18.6.0 in all.

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

“The crack of bombs and the whistle of the bullets”

There was news of a number of wounded men from Ascot. One, Augustus Turner, wrote an illuminating letter about his experiences under heavy fire in the trenches.

We have to record, with regret, the following casualties during the past month.-
Harry Cooper (R. Middlesex Regiment) wounded, now at the Northern General Hospital, Sheffield.
Corporal of the Horse Harry Bonnard (1st Life Guards) wounded.
Captain Sidney Clement (5th Australian Bush Regiment) missing.
James Johnson (1st Life Guards) missing.
Rifleman Augustus Turner (London Irish Rifles) wounded, now in Woolwich Hospital, progressing favourably.
Ernest Oran (1st Life Guards) sick.
Thomas John Minns (1st Batt. R. Berks) wounded.

We give some further extracts from Rifleman Augustus Turner’s interesting letter from the Front.-

“In the evening, by which time we had got accustomed to the noise of bullets and shells and conditions in general, I was one of a party to go sapping. This experience will ever remain in my mind. A sap or a trench had already been dug a distance of about 50 yards from our first trench towards the Germans, and it was our duty to dig still further. I entered the sap first, and when a short distance along a star shell was sent up by the Germans. I’d been warned to keep low when any star shells were sent up so as not to be seen. I did bend down, but almost immediately after the star went up a bomb followed and exploded in the air above me. I don’t remember whether I laid full length on my own accord or really how I got down, but after the bang I found myself lying on my spade measuring my height and a little more perhaps, at the bottom of the sap. The explosion was terrific, it shook the ground and me too, but apart from that I was uninjured. This is just another form of a greeting of the Germans, but in a very short while the crack of bombs and the whistle of the bullets from our men and the ‘Germs’ which passed just above my head, had not the slightest effect and I worked on merrily, smothering myself with clay and throwing above that which didn’t stop on my clothes. It seems strange, but it is quite true that one gets accustomed to the worst of conditions in a very short while.

The sapping continued all night, reliefs taking place of course, and at 3.30a.m. on 12th March, I finished my duty in the sap, when an order was given ‘Rapid fire.’ It continued for an hour, and such a noise is hard to beat. An attack from the Germans was about to take place, but was repelled by this deadly fire. A fellow who dare risk being out in the open under such fire deserves V.C.’s all over him. Just before this hail of lead, an attempt to blow up the trench next to ours by mines, was made; the earth blew up high in all directions, in front of the trench. This made another tremendous report. Morning began to dawn, and things quietened down a bit, and at 9.a.m., on the 12th March we went from the trenches back to our base, after having an experience, which I think, none of us will ever forget.

Our stay in barracks was not for long, for on 13th March we were ordered back to the trenches again for a stay of 24 hours. It is pitiful to see some of the houses- which used-to-be. In villages near the trenches it is one mass of ruin; churches, too, are included. All that remains of what must have been a fine old church is half of the tower. An extraordinary thing in one of these wrecked villages is a beautifully constructed shrine by the roadside. It is practically untouched excepting for a bullet hole just here and there. Needless to say, it attracts everybody’s attention. Our Sunday service was conducted last Sunday in a modern theatre, built 1912. Holy Communion was celebrated at 8 a.m. on the stage of this theatre, but there not being sufficient room we had to remove the pit. This may strike one as being very curious, but I can say from experience a theatre can be turned into a very fine church. Our chaplain, who is a very pleasant gentleman, officiated.

The soldiers here seem fine fellows. They all look very fit and not a tiny bit perturbed through the war. Fighting has not the tiniest effect upon them apparently. That ‘Use is second nature’ seems perfectly true. This war is a fearful thing, but it is giving us all such an experience and bringing upon most of us such a fine condition of health that if we are spared to see it through we can never forget it. I am indeed sorry to hear of the outbreak of disease at the Ascot Hospital, but am more sorry to know of Miss Blackburn being a victim. I truly hope it will be very soon suppressed. I trust, sir, that my letter will not be boring to you, and in conclusion, I would like to say that I’m longing for the day when I can enter Ascot’s dear old church and thank the Almighty for deliverance and protection from and through this awful and terrible war.

With best wishes for your health and well-being.

I am, sir, yours faithfully,

AUGUSTUS T. TURNER.”

* *

A WORKING PARTY has been held (usually at the Rectory) from August to December, and is now going on. In the first instance the work and a contribution in money was sent to Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild. At the present time we are working for the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (Scottish Women’s Hospitals.) Pyjamas, slippers, and hot water covers are out chief contributions. Units are in France and Serbia. The sun of £41 13s. 3d. has been sent in money: and we have an “Ascot bed” in one of the Hospitals.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine (D/P151/28A/17/6)

Ships lost, men wounded

Florence Vansittart Neale was briefly distracted from the bad news of the war by a visit from her daughter Elizabeth (Bubbles) and a nurse friend.

27 May 1915

Loss of “Triumph” in Dardanelles. Crew saved!! Also “Princess Irene”! Blew up in Sheerness. Many killed. French getting on….

Phyllis to fetch Bubs. Brought little Irish Sister… Girls played tennis…

Johnson & Saunders took Bubs back. Hospital quite full. Large convoy in – bad wounds.


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

The greatest naval war the world has ever witnessed

The Dodeka Club rejoiced in the successes of the Royal Navy since the start of the war.

Friday March 5th

Johnson opening the discussion of the evening with a paper on “What the British Navy had done”. He stated that the greatest naval war which the world had ever witnessed has been in progress nearly seven months. It had been marked by no engagement of first class importance, there had been no battle in which battleships of the latest types have been opposed to one another.

Nevertheless the British Fleet, not alone in one sea, but in every sea, had achieved a series of victories of great importance. Reviewing the course of events in broad outline, he summarised what the British Navy had achieved since August 4th 1914.

1. The High Sea Fleet of Germany had been contained in its home ports without respite, not a single German battle squadron had been at sea.
2. Five & a half million tons of German & a million tons of Austro-Hungarian shipping had been driven off the seas or captured.
3. The overseas trade of Germany & Austria had been strangled.
4. The German colonial Empire had been almost entirely destroyed.
Then. Too, at the outbreak of war there were at least – at the lowest estimate – one million Germans & Austrians of military age, resident in foreign countries who were prevented from crossing the seas to fight against us.

By way of contrast Johnson went on to show
1. That British shipping had been as active in war time as in peace, & had suffered but very little loss.
2. British overseas trade, except with the enemy, had been maintained.
3. Not a single British dominion, colony or dependency had been invaded, the German incursion into South Africa excepted.
4. Forty-five millions of inhabitants of the United Kingdom have been amply fed day-by-day & all owing to the Navy, which shows that our sailors are more than maintaining the splendid traditions of the past, & their skill and heroism leave nothing to be desired, and all honour to them.

It was getting towards the bewitching hour of midnight before the meeting broke up.

Dodeka Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)

Zeppelins over Lockinge (but it was only a dream)

William Hallam, born in Lockinge but living in Swindon, dreamed of an air raid:

16th January 1915

A very cold day, the wind especially so. I felt so bad with a cold in my head that I didn’t go out, not even to Bath Rd Reading Room, a most unusual thing for me. It blew a terrific gale in the night for a short time. I remember waking up and thinking to myself it’s too rough for Zeppelins to come over to-night and then I’m blest if I didn’t go to sleep again and dreamt there was a Zeppelin flying over Lockinge House, and I and some more ran up on top of the hill to see if they dropped bombs on the House as we were not sure they were German or not.

Meanwhile, the hospital at Bisham Abbey received some unwelcome new arrivals:

Modeste had his arm operated on. Men arrived about 3! Refugees!! 8 of them. Indignation. Sister & Dr decided to send them back Monday. Johnson still on night duty. Sister PB went to London for weekend.

Unofficial British victory at La Barrie – evacuated by the Germans.

Diaries of William Hallam (D/EX1415/23) and Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8

Bisham Abbey becomes a hospital

The day of Bisham Abbey’s launch as a war hospital for Belgian soldiers dawned. Florence Vansittart Neale’s daughters Phyllis and Elizabeth (Bubbles or Bubs) were among the voluntary nurses.

4 December 1914
Heard no more of Belgians till 10 o’clock. Telegram saying 25 would arrive in afternoon! Tel: motors. Dr Norris & Mr Hill here, turned out dining room. Beds made up! Met 4.40, but arrived 9.30! Dr Downes here till 12 pm. Phyllis & May have Chintz Ward, Bubs & Lottie North. Maud Richardson & Johnson Middle. Gladys Frere & Edie F. Green. Mrs Jay & K. Tovers Hoby Ward! Pry & Browne night nurses. Miss Headington & Mr Hadfield.
Bisham Abbey become a Hospital for 25 Belgians, all with wounds.

Charlie’s furlough of 4 days over. He back to France.

Civilian William Hallam spared a thought for soldiers in wet weather:

4 December 1914

This dinner time I never remember a rougher wetter middle day than it was. In fact for some time now we have had nothing but rough wet weather. It must be awful for our poor soldiers.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8) and William Halalm (D/EX1415/22)

A right minded boy does his duty and dies gloriously

Bracknell had lost its first man to the war – a young career soldier remembered locally for his football skills, with many others joining up.

The following is a list of those who belong to the Parish of Bracknell, and who are in the habit of attending Bracknell Church, who are now serving in H.M. Forces.

NAVY.
R.-Admiral Dudley de Chair, Cecil Bowler, E. Cordery, G. Freeman, G. Jenkins, A. Mott, C. Pleass, H. Roe, R. Watson, E. Wild.

MARINES
E. J. Brailey, R. H. Hester, E. S. Simmonds, C. H. Johnson, W. G. Johnson, J. H. Johnson, F. Gray, Charles Gambriel, G. Jenkins, S. Plummer, A. Prouten.

Many of these are in the North Sea.

ARMY
On Active Service.
Lieut. W. Foster, Lieut. W. Mackenzie, Captain W. K. George, H. Baker, Henry Barlow, Reginald Bowler, George Bowles, John Brant, G. H. Butcher, F. Butler, Alfred Case, Daniel Chaplin, L. Claridge, G. Clarke, N. Clarke, H. Currey, H. Downham, F. Dolby, M. Fox, W. Grimes, F. Harvey, H. Hollingsworth, A. Isaacs, B. Linnegar, A. Mason, H. Matthews, G. Morton, A. Newton, H. Norman, F. Offield, F. Rathband, R. Sadler, B. Sone, A. Winfield, C. Young, A. Penwell (India), S. Norman (Malta), W. Notley, A. E. Reed.

In England
Col. Sir W. Foster, Bart., Lieut. J. C. L. Barnett, Lieut. B. Foster, H. Alder, James Bowyer, John Bowyer, G. Brant, H. Bristow, C. Burt, C. Cave, C. Church, W. Clark, F. L. Dean, C. Dyer, W. Dyer, C. W. Ellis, F. Fitzhugh, J. K. George, E. Godfrey, F. Goddard, H. Gray, J. Gray, Ernest Gambriel, H. Gregory, S. Grimes, A. Holloway, H. Hoptroff, C. Hoptroff, G. Hoptroff, T. H. James, A. Jenkins, G. Kent, S. Kidley, R. Larcombe, J. Lawrence, L. Linnegar, E. Mason, G. Mason, H. Marshall, W. Norris, E. Noyes, H. Perrin, A. Pither, J. Pither, W. Pither, A. J. Prouten, S. Rixon, A. Readings, W. Sargeant, R. Sargeant, D. Sargeant, A. E. Searle, S. Sone, W. Spencer, H. Thompson, P. Treble, W. Turner, B. Turner, H. Webb, F. Webb, A. Winter, G. Winter, H. Winter, J. Wooff, R. Wright, A. Youens, E. Willman.

Two young men belonging to Bracknell have come over with the Canadian Contingent and will shortly be at the Front, – William Searle, and C. Berry.

Drummer Eric W. Roe of the Grenadier Guards is the first of our Bracknell men whose name is placed on the “Roll of Honour.” (more…)

Destitute children and brutally oppressed Belgians

The people of Newbury were encouraged to help those affected by the war, both their own countrymen and Belgian refugees. Th parish magazine was at the forefront of such efforts:

War Emergency Fund
It is earnestly asked that our reader will do what they can to help the above. The society has made an offer to the Prince of Wales National Relief Fund and the Government Relief Committee to provide homes for children who are rendered destitute by the War, and temporary shelter for children of Reservists called to the front who are motherless or unprotected. Help can be rendered in money and food, by making children’s clothing, and by sending any kind of clothing or goods suitable for disposal.

The list of men on active Service, that has been put up in the Parish Church, now comprises seventy names and over, but we do believe there must be more families who would be glad to see the names of their members there: this can be done by the names being given in at the Church House, or to the Clergy, or to any of the District Visitors. We are glad to see that there are now between 300 and 400 men serving from Newbury, but we feel sure that there are a number of young men in town who might volunteer to serve their King and Country in this righteous war: and the more men we are able to send, the sooner the war will be over.

We should like to heartily endorse the appeals which are being made on behalf of our poor neighbours, the distressed Belgian Refugees. Now that their case has been rightly taken in hand by the British Government, the work of caring for them will be done systematically, and doubtless all Newbury people will do their best to assist those to whom they owe so much, and who have been brutally oppressed. Mr. Johnson, at the Pelican, has sent a considerable sum of money to their Relief Fund, and Nurse Coomes has been instrumental in collecting a large number of garments for them. It is quite probable that Newbury will be asked to entertain some Belgian families.

Newbury parish magazine, October 1914 (D/P89/28A/13)