Easily the best platoon in the Battalion

Sydney Spencer was proud that his platoon won a competition.

Friday 26 July 1918

I rolled clean out of bed in the night & fell whack on to a stone floor & I did not even bruise myself!

Today came the greatly talked of “best platoon in the Battalion competition” consisting – we were told – when we got on to the parade ground – of three tests.

(1) Cleanliness & appearance.
(2) Platoon drill.
(3) A platoon scheme.

Hold your breath, Mr Diary – my platoon won! Points were as follows. 20 points for (1), 20 points for (2), 60 points for (3). My platoon tied with a platoon of A Company for cleanliness with 17 points. My platoon got 17 points for drill, “Easily the best” so the CO said. The scheme was an easy one had we had time for reconnaissance, but it was difficult. I got highest points with my platoon – 30 points, so I had 64 out of 100. I was very pleased, so was the platoon too.

Tomorrow comes the company competition, conference in afternoon. Had to explain dispositions. After tea gave Kemp a riding lesson! Frost did not come to dinner as he went on leave. Rolfe stayed to dinner instead.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

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“All his kit had been lost en route”

Sydney Spencer’s commanding officer returned after a period of sick leave.

Friday 19 July 1918

Today old Dillon got back to us again, he arrived in the evening. All his kit had been lost en route. The first time he has ever lost it. His old humour is just as good as ever & he made us shriek with laughter when he & Kemp pretended to act, after dinner. Poor old Rolfe is rather fed up as it means he will go to another Company.

Today’s programme included a scheme under Rolfe. An outpost scheme in woods west of this village. A rather interesting scheme. I believe Dillon managed to get down to Le Treport after his Flu. He had to take a fatigue party down to Vendroeux as I did. To bed rather late.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

“News came that we were to train in billets as the French were very windy about air raids”

Sydney Spencer, who oped to train for the Anglican priesthood, disapproved of vulgar songs.

Thursday 18 July 1918

Got up fairly early. News came that we were to train in billets as the French were very windy about air raids. This we did & gave my platoon a talk about maps & did musketry & gas drill in the billet. The men were very pleased with the talk about maps.

After lunch little or nothing doing. I helped Plant with his Battalion dinner for tonight. It was not very successful, I thought. I hate big messes. There were 33 of us there. I rather deplored the songs which were sung after dinner.

I walked home with Kemp & Sergeant told us great news of a big French victory. Some 20,000 prisoners & 300 guns in all, south of us.

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15)

A good example of a good defensive position

Sydney Spencer and his men practiced tactics before meeting the locals.

Tuesday 16 July 1918

All the servants were very late this morning & we were not called until 7.55. It meant a rush! At nine on parade. Did a good morning’s work consisting of platoon drill, a very thorough inspection, I took the rifle bombers in cup discharge work, then we did a scheme from 11-1. Hervey took out his platoon to a hill with trenches. Kemp attacked. I was in reserve. A good example of how [sic] a good defensive position.

After lunch censored letters. Then went down to Kemp’s billet & played on an atrocious piano. A mademoiselle charmante [charming young lady] spoke pretty broken English, & prettier French. Madame gave me some flowers. Spent a pleasant evening – a really decent one. Acted as interpreter for a photographer who took our drums. The village crier, a pale looking youth with plaintive voice demanded after beating his drum that we should declare the boites de foin [haystacks] gathered in during the [illegible] in the morning.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

Beaucoup wound up about a move

There was tension in the air when expecting a move to the front line.

Saturday 13 July 1918

Beaucoup wound up about a move but nothing had happened yet. 10.45 am. We are now wearing SBRs for an hour. After lunch we had a good rest. I read & lay down for a time but did not sleep.

After tea a conference. I went down to my platoon & arranged things for tomorrow. Trench stores etc. I then went to church for ½ an hour. I am so grateful to the Roman Catholic Church for at least supplying a form of service in which I can take part without feeling that I am not wanted.

Ferrier came into dinner. After dinner packed & to bed at 10. Talked with Kemp about Catholicism until 11.15 & then to sleep.

Saw an old French man with blue trousers & a drum, who stood at street corners & after performing on his drum gave out much important mayoral news to the villagers.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

“A man knocked down another & smashed his head open!”

More from Sydney Spencer behind the lines.

Thursday 11 July 1918

Got up at 7.15 this morning after a good night’s sleep. Felt much rested & contented but my tent mates were ratty & objected to my good temper.

Very few parcels today. 1st parade at 10.30. Small kit inspection, followed by ½ hour’s gas drill & then wearing gas masks for an hour. After lunch wrote up my diary & read papers. Lolled about during afternoon until 4 pm & then we had a conference. After tea I worried out mess accounts with Kemp & Dawkins until 7.30. Managed to put them straight after a fearful scramble.

After dinner we had a long conference with Rolfe about reorganizing the company. This lasted until about 10.15. I then spent more time squaring up accounts. A row took place outside mess. A man knocked down another & smashed his head open! To bed at 11. A lot of rain today.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

“May it please God that the Germans may advance no further”

As the need for men at the front continued to increase, older men were now being called on.

Joan Daniels
June 1st 1918

The news is not too good today, the Germans are advancing and are now 47 miles from Paris again. However, may it please God that they may advance no further….

Daddie went to be medically examined & is in Grade 1. Of course it is nice to know that he is healthy but I would rather he had been in Grade 3. Oh may it please God to leave him with us.

Sydney Spencer
Saturday 1 June 1918

Today I took over a large platoon – for me. Under the new arrangements there are 3 platoons per company, Nos 5, 6 & 7. No 5 is under Dawkins & Hervey. No 6 under myself. No 7 under Peyton & Kemp. I have now 2 LG sections, 2 Rifle sections & an employed section only shewing on paper. Sergeant Timby & Sergeant Seeley are the two additions to my platoon as NCOs.

Parades for today. Company training in morning & march in evening, or rather afternoon from 2 till 3.20. CO’s inspection at 3.30. After inspection paid out company with Dillon. Had a guest night. Knights & Cook came in. After dinner A company came in in force & my duties as Mess President became fast & furious to say the least of it.

Percy Spencer
1 June 1918

Another fine day. Battalion relieved 24th in line. I went to depot near [Coutary] with Gray. Bailey got kicked & went to hospital.

Diaries of Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1); Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

We must continually pray for victory in this the greatest battle in the history of the World

There was more sad news for Newbury families.

We have had more losses among our old boys in the War.

Lieut. Nathaniel Gordon Burgess, RNR, serving in His Majesty’s Navy, was lost at sea on March 6th, after doing splendidly in the Service, and being clearly marked out for further promotion.

Sapper R J Drewell, one of the old CLB lads, was killed in action at Clery in France on March 23rd. His Commanding Officer writes –

“He had behaved splendidly… he will be missed by everyone”.

Mr and Mrs Wyllie have lost their only son.

There have been wounded Frederick Winkworth, Frederick Charles Darby, Percy Robert Styles, Philip Webb, a son of Mrs Tillett, a son of Mr Smart, and a late-comer into the town – Mr Hann. Several are reported missing. We offer our sincere sympathy to the relatives who are in sorrow or anxiety. We must continually pray for victory in this the greatest battle in the history of the World.

ROLL OF HONOUR [nb reno 68-79]

Copied and supplied to the Parish Magazine by J W H Kemp.
(Continued from last month.)

68. Pte Albert Corderoy, 26954, Herts Regt, killed in action in France, 22nd Sept., 1917.
69. Pte R Mason, 1st Royal Berks, killed in France, Sept. 25th, 1916.
70. Pte G Mason, Oxford Light Infantry, killed in action May 16th, 1915.
71. Killed at sea Lieut. Robert Morton Bridges Liddle, RN, December 23rd, 1917.
72. Benjamin Williams, ASC, drowned in the sinking of the SS Arragon Dec. 30th, 1917.
73. Sidney James Hughes, 1st Coldstream Guards, killed January 25th, 1915, at Quinchy, France, aged 23.
74. Pte Thomas Henry Harden Perring, aged 36, killed in action in Palestine, Nov. 13th, 1917.
75. Frederick George Hayward, 2/4 Royal Berks Transport, killed June 6th, 1917, at Tilloy Wood, France. RIP.
76. Pte E B Pounds, London Scottish, son of Mr H Pounds, 3, Enborne Road, killed in action in Palestine Dec. 27th, 1917, aged 21.
77. William James Quintin, killed in action in France, 1917.
78. Pte Albert James Geater, A Co. 1/4 Royal Berks Regt, killed in action August 16th, 1917. RIP.
79. Albert Deacon, 1st Class Steward HMS Marlborough, drowned at sea January 12th, 1918.


Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

Laid to rest: the Newbury roll of honour

The Newbury men who had been killed were listed in the church magazine by installment.

ROLL OF HONOUR

Copied and supplied to the Parish Magazine by Mr J W H Kemp

(Continued from last month.)

45. Pte Benjamin Weller Smith, Duke of Cornwall’s LI, killed in France, June 18th, aged 24. Laid to rest at Bus, France.

46. Corp. Harry Lawes, killed in Mesopotamia 21st January, 1914.

47. Pte Ernest Westall, Territorials, died 16th June, 1916, in hospital.

48. Pte William Oscar Wickens, 8th Batt. Royal Berks Regt, missing since Oct. 13th, 1915, now reported killed.

49. Pte Bertram Edgar Wickens, Inter-communication Section 1/4 Royal Berks Regt, died of wounds April 17th, 1917.

50. Pte Gerald Lionel Wickens, 1/1 Trench Mortar Battery, 1st Infantry Brigade, killed in action August 27th, 1916.

51. Pte James Reginald Swatton, killed November, 1916. RIP.

52. Basil Henry Belcher, Royal Berks Regt, missing, believed killed, July 1st, 1916.

53. Pte Charles Whitehorn, killed in action July 3rd, 1916, 5th Royal Berks Regt.

54. Alan George Busby, killed in France June 9th, 1917. RIP.

55. In memory of Thomas Alfred Stillman, 2nd son of Mrs Stillman, of Market Street, Newbury, killed in action June 6th somewhere in France.

56. In memory of George Frederick Stevens, Qr-Master-Sergt, Royal Engineers, killed in France, July 10-11, 1917.

57. Sergt Frederick John Preston, 2/4 Royal Berks Regt, died of wounds, Le Trefont Hospital, France, 7th June, 1917.

58. L-Corp. William Crook, 94142, 128th Field Co, RE, killed July 1st, 1917, late of Diamond Cottages, Newbury.

59. Sergt W H Lake, 633 battery RFA, Indian Expeditionary Forces, died August 10th, 1916; prisoner of war in Turkey.

60. Pte Frank Pibworth, 6th Batt. Royal Berks Regt, died of wounds August 1st, 1917.

61. Pte Charles Mundy, KOYLI, killed Sept. 14th, 1917.

62. Pte Alfred John Aldridge, 16th Royal Warwickshire Regt, killed in action in France July 27th, 1916.

63. Pte Albert James Geater, A Co 1/4 Royal Berks Regt, killed in action August 16th, 1917.

64. Signalman Arthur William Stevens, 1st Devons, died of wounds in Hospital, France, October 4th, 1917.

65. Pte George Herbert Smith, 6th Batt. Royal Berks, killed in France March 10th 1915.

66. Pte James Henry Smith, 6th Batt. Royal Berks, killed in France August 27th, 1915.

67. Pte Edward Albert Smith, 6th Batt. Royal Berks, killed in action August 16th, 1917.

(To be continued.)

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, April 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

Newbury’s Roll of Honour: Part 1

So many men from Newbury had been killed that the list to date had to be split into several issues of the church magazine. Part 1 was published in March 1918.

ROLL OF HONOUR

Copied and supplied to the Parish magazine by Mr J W H Kemp

1. Pte J H Himmons, 1st Dorset Regt, died of wounds received at Mons, France, Sept. 3rd, 1914.
2. L-Corp. H R Ford, B9056, 1st Hampshire Regt, killed in action between Oct. 30th and Nov 2nd, 1914, in France, aged 28.
3. L-Corp. William George Gregory, 8th Duke of Wellington’s Regt, killed in action Aug.10th, 1915, aged 23.
4. Charles Thomas Kemp Newton, 2nd Lieut., 1st Yorkshire Regt, 1st Batt., killed in action June 3rd, 1914 [sic], at Ypres.
5. 2nd Lieut. Eric Barnes, 1st Lincolnshire Regt, killed in action at Wytcheak, All Saints’ Day, 1914, aged 20. RIP.
6. G H Herbert, 2nd Royal Berkshire Regt, killed at Neuve Chapelle, 10th March, 1915.
7. Pte J Seymour, 7233, 3rd Dragoon Guards, died in British Red Cross Hospital, Rouen, Dec. 8th, 1914, aged 24.
8. Pte H K Marshall, 2/4 Royal Berks Regt, killed in action in France July 13th, 1916.
9. Pte F Leslie Allen, 2nd East Surrey Regt, killed in action May 14th, 1915, aged 19.
10. Pte Harold Freeman, 6th Royal Berks, died of wounds, Sept. 6th, 1916.
11. Joseph Alfred Hopson, 2nd Wellington Mounted Rifles, killed in action at Gallipoli, August, 1915.
12. Sergt H Charlton, 33955, RFA, Somewhere in France. Previous service, including 5 years in India. Died from wounds Oct. 1916, aged 31.
13. Harry Brice Biddis, August 21st, 1915, Suvla Bay. RIP.
14. Algernon Wyndham Freeman, Royal Berks Yeomanry, killed in action at Suvla Bay, 21st August, 1915.
15. Pte James Gregg, 4th Royal Berks Regt, died at Burton-on-Sea, New Milton.
16. Eric Hobbs, aged 21, 2nd Lieut. Queen’s R W Surrey, killed in action at Mamety 12th July, 1916. RIP.
17. John T Owen, 1st class B, HMS Tipperary, killed in action off Jutland Coast May 31st, 1916, aged 23.
18. Ernest Buckell, who lost his life in the Battle of Jutland 31st May, 1916.
19. Lieut. E B Hulton-Sams, 6th Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, killed in action in Sanctuary Wood July 31st, 1915.
20. Pte F W Clarke, Royal Berks Regt, died July 26th, 1916,of wounds received in action in France, aged 23.
21. S J Brooks, AB, aged 24, drowned Dec. 9th, 1915, off HMS Destroyer Racehorse.
22. Pte George Smart, 18100, 1st Trench Mortar Battery, 1st Infantry Brigade, killed 27th August, 1916, aged 27.
23. Color-Sergt-Major W Lawrence, 1/4 Royal Berks Regt, killed in action at Hebuterne, France, February 8th, 1916.
24. Pte H E Breach, 1st Royal Berks Regt, died 5th March, 1916.
25. Pte Robert G Taylor, 2nd Royal Berks Regt, died of wounds received in action in France November 11th, 1916.
26. Alexander Herbert Davis, Pte. Artists’ Rifles, January 21st, 1915.
27. Rfn C W Harvey, 2nd KRR, France, May 15th, 1916.
28. 11418, Rfn S W Jones, Rifle Brigade, France, died of wounds, May 27th, 1916.
29. Alfred Edwin Ellaway, sunk on the Good Hope November 1st, 1914.
30. Guy Leslie Harold Gilbert, 2nd Hampshire Regt, died in France August 10th, 1916, aged 20.
31. Pte John Gordon Hayes, RGA, died of wounds in France, October 4th, 1917.
32. Pte F Breach, 1st Royal Berks, 9573, died 27th July, 1916.
33. L-Corp C A Buck, 12924, B Co, 1st Norfolk Regt, BCF, died from wounds received in action at Etaples Aug. 3rd, 1916.
34. Pte Brice A Vockins, 1/4 Royal Berks, TF, killed in action October 13th, 1916.
35. Edward George Savage, 2nd Air Mechanic, RFC, died Feb. 3rd, 1917, in Thornhill Hospital, Aldershot.
36. Percy Arnold Kemp, Hon. Artillery Co, killed in action October 10th, 1917.
37. Pte G A Leather, New Zealand Forces, killed in action October 4th, 1917, aged 43.
38. Frederick George Harrison, L-Corp., B Co, 7th Bedford Regt, killed in action in France July 1st, 1916; born August 7th, 1896.
39. Sapper Richard Smith, RE, killed in action at Ploegsturt February 17th, 1917.
40. L-Corp. Albert Nailor, 6th Royal Berks, killed in action July 12th, 1917.
41. Frederick Lawrance, aged 20, killed in action November 13th, 1916.
42. Pte R C Vince, 1st Herts Regt, killed in action August 29th, 1916, aged 20.
43. Pte Albert Edward Thomas, King’s Liverpool’s, killed in action November 30th, 1916.
44. Pte A E Crosswell, 2nd Batt. Royal Berks Regt, killed February 12th, 1916.
(To be continued.)

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

Glove making for Mine Sweepers

A teacher faced the loss of her brother, while a Sonning school got its boys to do leatherwork for the Navy.

Newbury St Nicolas CE (Boys) School
19th October 1917

Miss Kemp excused to-day, her brother killed at front.

Sonning Boys school
19th October 1917
Started glove making for Mine Sweepers in Upper Group. This work will be taken instead of gardening during the winter months.

Newbury St Nicolas CE (Boys) School log book (90/SCH/5/3, p.38); Sonning Boys school log book (89/SCH/1/2, p. 53)

“We soldiers do need the prayers of those left behind”

The vicar of Reading St Mary had some Christmas thoughts for his flock, despite the ongoing war, and the large numbers leaving home to join the armed forces.

The Vicar’s Notes

How much we hoped that this Christmas would be a Christmas of peace! But as the King said in his noble appeal to his people, “The end is not in sight.” So we must be patient, and even in the midst of the terrific struggles of this great war, must try and enter into the spirit of the Christmas festival with its strong message of hope and encouragement, and the certainty that it assures us of, that God will bring good out of evil.

Roll of Honour
Additional names, S, Mary’s District

Harry Day, Norman Day, William Day, William Kemp, Frank Goddard, George Hunt, Jesse Gore, Albert Gore, John Gore, Sidney Gore, William Peirce, William Eaton, Robert Hinder, William Noakes, Frederick Wild, George Swain, Herbert Allen, Charles Smith, Clement Green, Albert Gibson, Alec Barker, John Noakes.

All Saint’s District
Roll Of Honour

George Baker, Frederick Montague Brown, Arthur Budd, Alfred Bernard Carter, Harry Clay, Arthur William Crook, Charles Frederick Fox, Fred Fuller, Bert Fuller, William Hanson, Albert Charles Lambden, Walter Howard Lee, Walter John Malham, John Henry Malham, Herbert William Macdonald, Frank James Noble, F. William Pomeroy, Fred Povey, Ernest Frank Sopp, Harold Stagg, Charlie Turner, John Turner, Ernest Wicks, Albert Wiggins.

S. Saviours District
War Intercessions

The service at 3 p.m. on Wednesday will be continued during Advent. Several more men from this district have joined the Army and Navy during the past month, among them being Reginald James Barnes and Albert Edward Griffin, two of our servers, whom we may hope to see at Christmas.

In letters, which have been received, occur such words as “We soldiers do need the prayers of those left behind”; “indeed I miss S. Saviour’s very much”; “I did not get the chance of going to Church either last Sunday or this … I was very disappointed.”

Reading St Mary parish magazine, December 1915 (D/P98/28A/13)

The complications of this Great War grow more and more serious

28 November 1915 was the first Sunday in Advent. The vicar of St Mary’s in Reading used the solemn occasion to encourage parishioners, and worshippers at the daughter churches of St Saviour and All Saints, to pray for the war.

The Vicars Notes

The season of advent, which begins at the end of this month, comes to us at a solemn time. As the complications of this Great War grow more and more serious, the more urgent is the need for deeper and more earnest prayer. Let us see to it that we rise to a higher and truer spiritual level all through the new Christian year.

We should all desire to wish “God’s-Speed” to the Rev. T. Guy Rogers, late Vicar of S. John’s, in his new work as chaplain to the forces at the front. We shall miss him very much in Reading, where he has always taken a strong and vigorous hand on behalf of the things that really matter. May his work among the troops be blessed in every way, and may he be brought back to the homeland once more safe and sound.

Roll Of Honour

Maurice Cooper, Arthur Goodall, Frank Shervall, George Hunt, George Absolom, Francis Russell, George Denton, Alfred Thorp, George Kemp, James Noakes, William Trussell, Frank Lunnon, Edward J. Humphreys, Frances Miles, Thomas Brooker, William Sawyer, Herbert Sawyer, Frederick Deadman.

R.I.P.
Edward Gregory.

S. Mary’s
Soldiers Christmas parcel Fund

Miss Wickham Legg hopes that it will again be possible to send Christmas Parcels to our brave men in the field or at sea. All contributions either in money or kind, should be sent to S. Mary’s Vicarage sometime this month.

All Saints’ District
Roll of Honour

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

William Jesse Baverstock, Aylmer Louis Elliot Fleet, Harry Gerald fox, Ronald Charles Jordan, Richard John Martin, Ernest William Martin, Reginald Francis West, Robert Douglas West, William Charles Wicks.

R.I.P.
Edward Worrell Carrington.

S. Saviours District
List of Honour

A kind friend has given a framed “List of Honour” to contain the names of all those who go out from S. Saviour’s to serve their King and Country. The list is in two parts, nicely written, and is placed in the Porch of the Church. Further names will be added from time to time as they are received.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, November 1915 (D/P98/28A/13)