Special classes for soldiers

Students were getting back to normal on leaving the army.

MAIDENHEAD TECHNICAL INSTITUTE

The Sub-committee understand that the Technical Institute will probably be evacuated by the Red Cross Hospital authorities shortly…

EVENING CLASSES

In a circular letter, the Board of Education urge the importance of the resumption of the part of this work which was curtailed owing to the war and of its further development at the earliest possible date.

The Sub-committee have not found it possible to resuscitate any of the closed classes this session but have made provision in the estimates for increasing the number of classes next session.

ARMY EDUCATION

In connexion with the scheme for Army Education, the Sub-committee have been asked to arrange special classes for soldiers at Windsor and these have been duly held. The whole of the cost is payable by the War Office.

COUNTY SCHOLARSHIPS

The Sub-committee have allowed B L James (3rd year Senior Scholar), who was released from the Army in January to resume his Senior Scholarship at the Newbury Grammar School for the remainder of its period.

M G Hyder, who was granted a Supplementary County Scholarship in 1916, has been released from the Army, and took up his Scholarship at Keble College, Oxford, as from the commencement of the Lent Term.

The Sub-committee have renewed the Scholarship of E H Austin (who has also been released from the Army) at the University College, Reading, until the end of the Summer Term.

Report of Higher Education Sub-committee to Berkshire Education Committee, 3 May 1919, in Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/22)

“Right in front of the battalion, leading his men in true British style”

This supplement to the roll of honour’s bald list of names gives us more detail about the parish’s fallen heroes.

Supplement to the Wargrave Parish Magazine

ROLL OF HONOUR.
R.I.P.

Almighty and everlasting God, unto whom no prayer is ever made without hope of thy compassion: We remember before thee our brethren who have laid down their lives in the cause wherein their King and country sent them. Grant that they, who have readily obeyed the call of those to whom thou hast given authority on earth, may be accounted worthy among thy faithful servants in the kingdom of heaven; and give both to them and to us forgiveness of all our sins, and an ever increasing understanding of thy will; for his sake who loved us and gave himself to us, thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Baker, Edward
Private, 7th Wiltshire Regiment, killed in action on the Salonica Front, April 24th, 1917, aged 21. He was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Baker. He was born at Wargrave and educated at the Piggott School. When the war commenced he was working as a grocer’s assistant in Wargrave. He volunteered in 1915 and was sent out in 1916. He was killed by a shell in a night charge.

Barker, Percy William

Private, 7th Batt. Royal Berkshire Regiment/ Killed at Salonica, July 4th 1917, aged 19. He was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. William Barker at Yeldall Lodge. His father was for twenty years a gardener at Yeldall. He was born at Crazies Hill and educated at the village school. On leaving school he began work as a gardener. He was one of the most helpful lads on the Boys’ Committee of the Boys’ Club. He volunteered May 11th, 1916. On July 4th, 1917, he was hit by a piece of shell from enemy aircraft while bathing and died within an hour. The Chaplain wrote to his parents “Your loss is shared by the whole battalion”.

Bennett, William
Sergeant, 8th Royal Berkshire Regiment, killed in France, Dec 3rd, 1916 aged 25. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bennett, of Wargrave, and when the war broke out he was working on a farm. He volunteered at once. He was killed instantly by a shell. One of his officers wrote: “Sergt. Bennett was the best N.C.O. we had in the company. Fearless, hardworking, willing, he was a constant inspiration to his platoon. His splendid record must inevitably have led to his decoration. We have lost an invaluable N.C.O. and a fine man. He was buried with all possible reverence about half a mile from Eaucourt L’Abbaye”.

Boyton, Bertram
Lieut., 6th London Brigade Royal Field Artillery, died of wounds in Palestine, Nov. 9th, 1917, aged 36. He was educated at King’s College, London, and was a Surveyor and Architect by profession. He was a Fellow of the Surveyors Institute and had won Gold and Silver Medals of the Society of Auctioneers by examination. He was married to Elsie, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Morris, at the Parish Church, Wargrave, Sept. 7th 1905, He was a member of the London Rowing Club and the Henley Sailing Club, and keenly interested in all athletics. He enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company in April 1915. He was given a commission in the 6th London R.F.A., in July 1915 and was promoted Lieutenant soon after. He went to France with his battery in June 1916, and to Salonica in the following November. He was sent to Egypt and Palestine in June 1917, and was wounded while taking his battery into action in an advance on November 6th. He died at El Arish on November 9th, 1917.

Buckett, Ernest Frederick

Private in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, killed in action Sept. 20th, 1917, in France, aged 23. The dearly loved husband of Dorothy May Buckett, married May 31st, 1917. He was educated at the Henley National School, and before the War was a slaughterman with Messrs. O’Hara & Lee, butchers, Henley and Wargrave. In 1910 he joined the Berkshire Yeomanry (Territorial Force), and was called up on August 4th, 1914, at the commencement of the war. He immediately volunteered for foreign service. He went to France in the spring of 1915. When he had completed his five years service, since the date of his enlistment, he volunteered for another year, but received his discharge as a time-expired man in January 1916. In July, 1916, he was called up under the new regulations and sent immediately to France where he remained, except for leave on the occasion of his marriage, until he fell in action, September 20th, 1917. (more…)

A terrifying sergeant wakes up the OTC

New OTC recruit Sydney Spencer experienced drill for the first time on 25 January. It was a challenge for the mild-mannered undergraduate.

25 January 1915
This morning I went to my first parade & put myself under the protection of dear old Loughton. It was of course a very new sensation to be ordered about in matters concerning my bodily movements. It is strange how very seldom if ever in my life, my bodily movements have been under the control of anyone outside my immediate self. I suppose that only when I was about 10, when I did a little infant school drilling, or when I learned to swim, & had a few breathing lessons, or when I have been sounded by the doctor, & sighed, & coughed and said “r” or “99”, did I feel the power of another mind over my corporal freedom. Did I like this subservience to the will of another? I answer conclusively and inclusively “Yes”. There was an intellectual satisfaction in the knowledge that one is voluntarily surrendering oneself to the mind & will of another. It is peculiarly difficult to quite explain how this comes about, perhaps there are other thoughts inevitably bound up in it too, i.e. – “No man is safe to command, but he who has learned well how to obey” (a Kempis chapter XX: Book I). I felt an infinite amount of satisfaction from this my first drill, for with all the ceaseless comments, of “eyes right”, “hands to side”, “heels together”, “form fours”, “form two deep”, “right turn”, “about turn”, etc etc, there was the growing knowledge & experience of the infinite depth of meaning in the words, “implicit & unquestioning obedience”. A command is given, I don’t know what it intends, never mind, obey each detail & get the result, & other peoples’ actions look after themselves!

As my head is really very full for the moment of OTC work I shall discuss that question fairly fully these days. Of course we had the usual sort of lectures and mods work in the morning, i.e. Tacitus & Livy. After lunch came the crucial point. I had to face the ordeal of going on company drill with no knowledge of what was expected of me! Things were pretty exciting. First of all I had no place and so that made rather a fly in the ointment. Then Lieutenant Claypole, a young faced chubby fellow who has just been made 1st Lieutenant took up, and we had sundry types of marching to so, some of which were moderately successful, others of which were an appalling hash up since there were a fair number of recruits in our C Company. After a good deal of this type of drilling we had to go to Keble & get rifles. This made matters exciting in the extreme for me, as I never thought I should be able to carry the beastly thing when I got it. To add to the general feeling of ignorance, there was the sergeant who now took us in hand. He was an enormous fellow, Sergeant Glover by name. He has a terrifying bass drone, and his orders split the air for yards around. His whole abdomen seems to contract when he shouts out his commands, & he works us up to such a pitch in marching – at first – that it is almost ludicrous. Of course his whole intention is to make us wake up. He informed me at the end of the rifle drilling that the rifle did not weigh 15 pounds but only eight pounds and a half! He saw that I was having a battle with it but was not cruelly sarcastic, only humorously so. He treated Greenhalgh rather abominably which made him go down in my estimation.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EX801/14)

“God forgive me if I have not played the man”

Sydney Spencer of Cookham visited Oxford, where he was an undergraduate, to investigate his options for service. His diary tells the tale of his anguished debate with hinmself.

September 3rd
Oxford

Now dies the saying ‘No news is good news’! I have had to keep away from you, Mr Diary, for a very long time, but because I have not been able to give you any news it does not mean that it is all good news. Red war still rides her bloody way, & the noise of her chariot wheels is dread & fearful. In her course she ruthlessly runs down thousands of poor men, ruining at the same time hearts & homes, puffing out the one little flame that lit the home, & snatching away the one pair of hands which earned the bread. Oh War, War, when will your end come? On all sides one hears “cursed Germans, wicked Kaiser! Oh that they were all butchered!” Who will find me a man to get up into the chariot of dread war & cast her down & trample her to the ground? That is what we want cursed in its cruelty, cursed in its cold modern methods, cursed root & branch is War, & yet here we are in modern Europe, in the civilized (?) twentieth century, making the whole of Europe shake, making a ghastly field of battle of miles of smiling country, devastating, destroying, wounding killing, yes & even Murdering! Louvain, the loveliest of cities, mellowed by its ancient buildings, beautiful for its memories of the past, [rivalling] Oxford for its traditions & its university; is no more. It has been ruthlessly levelled with the earth. It is almost unthinkable that all those homes – private citizen homes – beautiful for their memories of childhood & young married days, & days spent around the fires by hallowed old age, all, all gone! The spirits of hundreds of homes wander over desolate spots & find no habitation for themselves.

It is just striking three & I am seated on the Union Lawn to write. To write what? The chronicle of perhaps the greatest mental strain I have ever passed through. I came up here to Oxford to find out what work I could do. I did not for one minute think that service might be a point now. It came as a terrible shock & brought me up dead against “self”, when Hudgel of St John’s Street suggested that I should join as a private in the 2nd Bucks Light Infantry Territorials, which are offering to go out on active service. I passed through such a two hours from 9.30 till 11.30 this morning as I never hope to pass through again. It seemed that everything pointed to my going to the office in 20 Magdalen Street, & offering to be medically examined. Every nerve in my body & mind was at breaking tension, & I had determined to throw up all “thoughts” & join, when, passing by Keble College I saw the men I should have to join. It was terrible. My whole power of reasoning & my whole religious feeling cried out, “Play the man, & go in & take the consequences”. But my mind & self kept edging out that it would be unendurable to be always always in the company of those men. The hard living I can endure, the drilling I would have done my best to satisfy, in the dying even for my country & my God I could even support & endure, rather than the hourly & daily torture of being in the company of men whose minds although ennobled by willingness to serve their country, would be for ever grating on mine by their coarseness or even worse than that. God forgive me if I have not altogether played the man, but I have done my all at present.

Last night I was refused altogether by Colonel Ranking at the Hospital (the Examination School). This morning Dr Allen said he would see if there were [sic] any sort of work I could do on the Emergency Committee. Then came the proposal to join the body of men, & I went, confessedly to myself almost distracted by doubts & longings, by thoughts pulling & pushing me one way & another – to Dr Pope. He advised me to go to a Mr C Cookson of Magdalen College, so I went to his rooms. He told me that it was utterly foolish to think of doing such a thing as Hudgel suggested, that I was altogether unfitted for it, & that I should not only be useless but be in the way & do harm. He did not even suggest that I should do any such thing as join this new battalion for ex-public school men or university men, but that I should go home & rest quietly till term commenced & then join in the OTC at once. By this I found that according to him – I should be doing not only what was best for myself, but also the best thing all round. So my next step is to go home & get some drill from Maidenhead in preparation for joining the OTC next term. No one who has not passed through what I have passed through this morning can know what a relief it is to me to feel that I have done what I could possibly do, & that I know my duty plainly – having it set before me by men who are purposely chosen to give advice to such as myself. Dr Pope was very sweet & kind to me & I feel deeply grateful to him, as also to Mr Cookson, for the way in which they helped me through this terrible ordeal. If I want to get further information re the Public Schools & University Corps I can write to the Secretary of the Public School & University Force Committee, 46 Victoria Street, Westminster SW.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EX801/12)