“This officer at once organized an emergency company of personnel, stragglers and all the available officers and men on the spot, and formed a line of resistance about 100 strong”

Many Old Boys of Reading School covered themselves with glory in the last months of the war. E C Holtom’s book is still in print.

O.R. NEWS.

Mr. W.L. Pauer, son of Mr. W. Pauer, who had previously won the Military Medal and Bar and a French Medaille Militaire, and who had also been made a “King’s Sergeant” for bravery on the field, has now been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Croix de Guerre.

2nd-Lieut. Churchill, M.C., R.F.A., Son of Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Churchill, of Eldon Square, Reading, has been awarded by the President of the French Republic the Croix de Guerre.

Naval Promotion.

Surgeon E.C. Holtom, stationed at Chatham, has been promoted to the position of Staff Surgeon (Lieut. Commander) in the Navy. He has written a book which is being published by Hutchinson & Co., of London, under the title of “Two Years Captivity in German East Africa.” Mrs. Holtom, of 23, Junction Road Reading, the mother of Surgeon Holtom, has received a letter from Queen Alexandra, in which she says she has ordered a copy of the book. Surgeon Holtom was educated at Reading School and is very well known in this district.

Military Cross.

2nd- Lieut. Adrian Lillingworth Butler, Royal Field Artillery, as previously reported, gained the Military Cross. The following is the official account of his gallant conduct: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. This officer fought his section in the open, engaging enemy infantry and tanks until they got within 50 yards, scoring a direct hit on a tank at this distance. He rallied the infantry and only withdrew at the last moment, having himself to drive in a gun team when the driver was killed.

T/2ND-Lieut. E.C.P. Williams, Middlesex Regiment. When the enemy attacked in great force, driving in the line and endeavouring to cut off the retirement of the battalion, this officer remained as a rear-guard with a small party of men and a Lewis gun, inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy, and gaining time for the battalion to withdraw in good order. On previous days he had been out with patrols securing prisoners and bringing back valuable information.

Lieut. (Acting Major) Owen Wakeford, R.G.A. For consistent good work, especially as Officer Commanding Battery, during the operations in the Ypres Sector, from July to December, 1917; where he maintained the efficiency of his unit, under heavy fire.

Bar To Military Cross.

The bar to the Military Cross has been awarded Lieutenant (Acting Captain) L.E.W.O. Fullbrook Leggatt, M.C., Oxon and Bucks L.I. Special Reserve for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty while attached to brigade headquarters. Headquarters suddenly came under heavy rifle fire, and this officer at once organized an emergency company of personnel, stragglers and all the available officers and men on the spot, and formed a line of resistance about 100 strong. He sent out patrols to locate the enemy and our own troops, and himself collected much valuable information. His promptitude did much to clear an obscure situation and strengthen the line. (M.C. Gazette February 18th)

Lieut (Acting Captain) J.L. Loveridge, Royal Berks Regiment. He made a reconnaissance under heavy enemy barrage, and next day led his section to the starting point, in spite of the fact that his Tank had been observed by the enemy and were submitted to heavy fire. Throughout he showed great coolness and initiative.

Reading School Magazine, December 1918 (SCH3/14/34)

Advertisements

“Few workers have shown such a stout heart and cheerfulness under trials””

Burghfield women contributed to the national need as their talents offered. Olive Hockin (1881-1936) was a fervent suffragette with links to arson attacks. Her book was republished in 2016.

THE WAR

The Village Red Cross Working Party is in “full swing”, and much good work still continues to be done each week by the following members:

Mrs Appleton, Mrs Butler, Miss Bedford, Miss Brown, Miss Cullum, Miss Davidson, Mrs Evans, Mrs George, Mrs Groves, Miss Kent, Mrs Chamberlain, Mrs H Chamberlain, Mrs Lamperd, Mrs Marlow, Mrs Moore, Mrs Montague, Mrs Gray, Mrs Overton, Mrs Philpotts, Mrs Richards, Miss G Richards, Mrs Stroud, Mrs E Wise. Surely there are still more who would like to devote an hour and a half each Thursday afternoon to so good a cause.

We have pleasure in announcing the engagement of Miss Jolie B. Buck (grand-daughter of our honoured old friend and neighbour the late General Buck of the Hollies) to Captain James McCallum, of the Canadian Forestry Corps. Captain McCallum is probably going to France shortly, and the wedding will not take place for some time. Miss Buck is at present serving as a lady driver to the Forestry Corps at the Canadian Camp, Ufton.

“Two Girls on the Land – War Time on a Dartmoor Farm”, by Olive Hockin (Edward Arnold, 1918, 2s 6d). A record of a whole year’s work told with sympathy and directness. Few workers on a farm have shown such a stout heart and cheerfulness under trials as the authoress, Mrs Kirkwood’s daughter; and her Burghfield friends will find every page of her story interesting.

Burghfield parish magazine, August 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Reading St Giles intercessions list

Parishioners at Reading St Giles were asked to pray for their servicemen.

Notes from the Vicar

Intercessions List: Eric R.W. Gillmor (O.C.B.), R. Stanley Rudman.

Sick and Wounded: E.R. Righton, James Lambert, Victor Honor, Vincent Cherril, Alfred Honor, Edwin Richie, E.R. Righton, Fred Seymour.

Prisoners: Rifleman A. Pickford, Harry Kirby, Alfred H. Douglas, Harold Nicholson, Private Pavey.

Missing: Lieut Francis R.B. Hill, H.W. Tull, E.W. Kent.

Departed: Corpl. Percy E.H. Sales, Private Leonard Cozens, Private Jack Stevens, Robert Alfred Fryer, Frederick Gill, Sydney Alfred Smith, William Smith, John Oakley Holt. R.I.P.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P96/28A/35)

New work

The Vansittart-Neales’ son in law got a plum job in headquarters in Kent.

29 June 1918
Boy [Paget] went off to his new work. Staff cap! At Dovercourt.

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

Watching ships in camouflage

HMS Vindictive was deliberately sunk to block the port of Ostend.

9 May 1918

Eastchurch… Lay out on cliffs. Watched ships, camouflaged & others. Also “Archies” in the sky & aeroplanes. After tea to see [illegible] & trenches.

Blocked Ostend by the old “Vindictive”, most successful.

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

Exciting place – guns going

Florence Vansittart Neale was on holiday.

8 May 1918

Went to Eastchurch 2.5. Bubs met me halfway. Had tea & went out… Most exciting place – aerodrome school – guns going. Nice little house!

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

We must still wait patiently for this terrible war to end

Maidenhead Congregational Church kept in close touch with the young men it had sent to the war.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are very sorry indeed to record that Ernest Bristow, whose wounding we reported in November, was more seriously injured than we knew, and that his leg has been amputated above the knee. His arm, too, was badly hurt, though there seems every hope of a recovery for that. He is now at the Ontario, Canadian Red Cross, Hospital, Orpington, Kent. Mr. and Mrs. Bristow spent their Christmas holiday in that neighbourhood.

Reginald Hillis still awaiting his final operation, and we shall all rejoice with him when he is successfully past the last of the wearisome series.

Robert Bolton is in Hospital at Newcastle-on-Tyne, suffering from skin trouble.

Ben Gibbons and David Dalgliesh have been home on leave.

The Christmas letters and parcels sent out in the name of the Church were evidently keenly appreciated by our boys, and many letters of gratitude have already been received. Here are a few extracts.

“Just a few lines to thank you for that glorious parcel which the Church so kindly sent me, and which I enjoyed immensely. At the time of receiving it we were in the line, and were having a warm time, and I could not have it then, but when the trouble was all over, I set to and enjoyed it all the more.”

“Thank you very much indeed! And we boys do not forget to be thankful, too, for all the lessons we have learned at our Church.”

“It was with a good deal of pleasure that I received your letter. I am sure we derive immense help from our prayers and thoughts of those at home.”

“Thank you for the Christmas greeting! It is very nice to feel that we are still in your thoughts, especially those who are farthest away.”

“Please thank the Church for the very welcome parcel. Last year I expressed a hope that this terrible war would be over before now, but we must still wait patiently. Meanwhile, it is a great comfort to know that the Church is thinking of us and praying for us.”

“Will you be good enough to tender my heartiest thanks to all those good people responsible for the sending of the package I received yesterday? It is exceedingly kind, and I am sure I will be appreciated by us all.”

“Will you please convey my best thanks to the Church for the most acceptable parcel and message received. My thoughts are often with you all.”

And one of the boys sends us a rhyme, with which we may conclude this short series of extracts:-

“Though I’m only one of millions
Doing bots for Freedom’s fame,
You, I know, will keep a corner,
In your heart to hold my name;
And amid this world-wide welter,
With its terrors, blood and shame,
All my thoughts this Christmas centre
Back to you, and mem’ries frame;
Memories that from our war’s darkness,
Peace and happiness proclaim.”

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, January 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Nursing the convalescent

The Community of St John Baptist had been taking in wounded soldiers at their convalescent home by the sea in Kent.

2 November 1917

Notice sent that the Royal Red Cross decoration had been awarded by the King to Sister Laura Jane as Sister Superior, St Andrew’s Home, Folkestone, where convalescent wounded soldiers have been nursed since the beginning of the war.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

A great air raid

The Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist were relieved not to have suffered at the hands of the latest air raid.

31 October 1917
News came of a great air raid by the Germans on the eastern counties & London. No damage done in any of our Houses in London or at Folkestone either to the Sisters and those in their care, or to property. D. G. [Deo gratias – thanks be to God].

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

The Russians are giving in

Florence Vansittart Neale was depressed by the war news, both at home and abroad – and concerned about new food restrictions on sugar.

3 September 1917

Raids at Chatham & Sheerness – 107 sailors killed…

Mr Austman still here. All down about Riga gone. Russians giving in.

Wrote for sugar for jam!

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

Meanwhile the Sub-Warden of Clewer House of Mercy was heading to France as an army chaplain.

3 September 1917

The Sub-Warden returned from Strensall Camp on short leave before reporting himself at the War Office previously to going to France.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

Invalided solider sent to a Convalescent Home

Hospitals didn’t want wounded soldiers to block beds.

8th June 1917
Convalescent Patient.

The action of the Hon. Secretary in sending an invalided soldier not an inmate of the Hospital to a Convalescent Home at Folkestone was approved.

Maidenhead Cottage Hospital governors’ minutes (D/H1/1/2, p. 338)

74 killed in Folkestone

The peace of Bisham Abbey seemed like a million miles from the south coast, hit by air raids.

2 June 1917

Captain Kennedy arrived – another Australian. Sat out. Men boated.

Bad raid on Folkestone – 74 people killed.

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

Mercifully preserved from an air raid

The Clewer-based Commnity of St John Baptist had a big convalescent home in Folkestone on the Kent coast, and also did mission work in the town. They faced the danger of an air raid in May 1917.

25 May 1917

A bad air raid took place at Folkestone in the evening. About 60 killed and many more injured. Our 3 houses, and all our Sisters, patients & workers mercifully preserved from any injury, for which special thanksgiving was made afterwards at the altar.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

Reading men serving

More Reading men had joined up, while others had been killed.

Notes from the Vicar

Intercessions

Albert Maskell, R.N.; Private J. Taylor, M.G.C.; Private A. Victor Brown, 6th Worcestershire Regt.; Private Frank Griffin; Reginald Midhurst, 8th Royal Berks; Alfred Thomas Hinton, E. Kent Rt.; Private Kent, M. Marine.; Lieut. Laurence Edward Wells. Fullbrook Leggatt, 2nd Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.

Prisoner: Lieut. E.A. Floyer, R.F.C.

Sick and Wounded: Cadet A. Fielding Clarke; Lieut. Hugh Kenney; Capt. F. J. Shirley.

Departed: Sec. Lieut. G.W. Baxter; Lieut. M. Floyer Williams; Lieut. Vaughan Floyer Williams, R.F.C. Private A. Moule; Private William Fleming Robins Oxf. and Bucks. Lt. Inf.; George C. Moppet.
R.I.P.

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

A very gallant officer and gentleman, recklessly brave and a fine example of cool courage

The Old Boys of Reading School were distinguishing themselves at the Front.

O.R. NEWS.

Killed in Action.

2nd Lieut. Norman A. Howell, King’s Shropshire Light infantry. On December 23rd.

He is the second son of Mr. W. Roland Howell, architect, of this town. Born at Reading in April 1897, he was educated at Reading School and St. Laurence College, Ramsgate, and had been about a year in his father’s office before joining the Army in November, 1915. His cadet training at school and college enabled him to get his commission. He was posted to the King’s Shropshire’s, was ordered to the front at the end of June last, and has been in the thick of the Somme fighting for six months. Lieut. Norman Howell came home on his first leave on December 6th and returned on the 16th. Within a week he had made the great sacrifice.

His Commanding Officer wrote to Mr. Howell on December 24th:

“I deeply regret to report the death of your son, who was serving in my Battalion. Whilst going up to the front line trenches in charge of a party last night an enemy sniper shot him through the head, killing him instantly. This morning his body was buried by the Chaplain near where he fell, with military honours, officers and men attending.

“I had trench mortars and rifle grenades on the sniper’s post, patrols had reported 8 to 10 Huns there, none there now! On behalf of his comrades, officers, N.C.O.’s and men, I wish to convey to you our profound sympathy . He was loved and respected by all of us, and we mourn the loss of a very gallant officer and gentleman. To all of us he was known as recklessly brave and a fine example of cool courage, devoted to his duties, which he discharged most cheerfully under the most trying conditions.”

“I placed him in charge of the Lewis Gun detachment, on which he had set his heart and soul. He belonged to my own Headquarters’ mess, and I took particular interest in him. A cross has been put up on the grave near Les Boeufs.”

It will be remembered that in October, 1915, Mr. Howell’s elder son, 2nd Lieut. Roland Basil Howell, was reported “wounded and missing.” Nothing has since been heard of him, and any hopes of his being alive hangs on the very slenderest thread. On the 16th of last month the War Office wrote saying that they were now forced to believe he was killed.

Lieut. Basil Howell was born in October, 1895, and received his commission in the 4th North Staffordshire’s three months after the war started. He was attached to the Northumberland Fusiliers (the Fighting Fifth), and went to the front in May, 1915.

Reports received from the front show that on the night of October 1st-2nd, 1915, the battalion to which Lieut. Howell was attached were in severe action. After all the officers of the company had been killed he gallantly led a bombing party to attack a German trench, but was never seen again.

Every possible enquiry was made through the War Office, the American Embassy, the Red Cross, and the wounded men who returned to England. Many references were made by the latter to the respect and love they had for the brave young officer. Like his brother he was educated at Reading School and St Laurence College, and had started his training to follow in his father’s profession. For many years he was an enthusiastic scout, and took a big share in starting the South Reading Troop.

Lieut. Cedric Charles Okey Taylor, East Kent Regiment, attached to Trench Mortar Battery, only son of Mrs. Taylor, 39, Weltje Road, Ravenscroft Park, W., and of the late Mr. Charles Warmsley Taylor, of Reading. Further details are now to hand of Lieut. Taylor’s death.

He died for King and country on December 3rd, 1916, in his 22nd year. Young in years but old in endurance, he was in constant action for 15 months at Ypres in 1915 and on the Somme in 1916. He is laid to rest in the cemetery, at Faubourg d’Amiens, Arras.

2nd Lieut. W. Marsden Cooper, Worcestershires, only son of Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper, 107, London Street, Reading, aged 19.

Cooper was only 19 years of age and went out to the front in the Worcestershire’s about the middle of December, shortly after completing his course at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was educated at Reading School, where he gained a Council scholarship in 1909. His School career was unusually distinguished. In 1914 he gained a School Certificate followed the next year by a higher certificate.

In response to his country’s call, he decided to take a commission, and in the entrance examination for the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, held in February, 1916, he came out second on the list, gaining a Prize Cadetship. At Sandhurst his success was no less pronounced than at school, and he gained the position of Sergeant in his cadet unit, the highest position a cadet can obtain, before he left College. Not only did he have considerable intellectual gifts, as his record shows but he was a fine athlete as well. He was an excellent all round cricketer and his natural powers as a bowler would have enabled him to make his mark in really good company. As a Rugby Football player he showed great promise, and before he left school he had the distinction of being captain of football, captain of cricket and captain of the school. Yet he was never elated by success, and perhaps it was more than anything else his modesty which made him so popular with the boys and the masters alike. Those who have watched his career, for the last two years, and marked the way in which his development always seemed to keep pace with his new responsibilities feel a special grief that a young life so full of promise should have been brought thus prematurely to a close.
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