A day of grief and glory: another of our boys has heard the call of God and joined the throngs invading heaven “with gay and careless faces”

Memories are shared of a Reading-born man whose death had been reported.

Harry Ireland Long

It was with deep regret that we heard of the death of Lance-Corpl. Harry Long, who was killed in action in Flanders on August 15th. To most of us his name is familiar, as being the son of our old and esteemed friends, Mr. and Mrs. William Long, and to them, as to his sister and brothers, we offer our deep sympathy. Some, however, had a more intimate knowledge, and one of those, the Rev. Herbert Snell, of Caterham, a former minister of Trinity, has kindly written the following:-

“Lest Heaven be thronged with greybeards hoary,
God, who made boys for his delight,
Stoops, in a day of grief and glory,
And calls them in, in from the night.
When they come trooping from the War,
Our skies have many a new gold star.”

Another of our boys has heard the call of God and joined the throngs invading heaven “with gay and careless faces.” Another has cheerfully and bravely given his life to make earth clean again, and keep it safe for those who regard honour among the highest and love peace.

It is easy enough to write these words, but behind them are living hearts that ache with grief and yet rejoice with noble pride.

Harry Ireland Long was the eldest son of William and Anna Long. He was born February 25th 1886, at Reading, and was killed in Flanders on August 15th, 1917.

“Trinity” will remember him, first of all, as a youngster, attending school at Miss Lacy’s and at Miss Burgisi’s, and on Sundays as a member of Mr. H.A. Baynes’ Bible-class. When I knew him he was at Reading School, which he left in 1901 in order to work for a while in his father’s business. Everyone liked his handsome face, with bold dark eyes and pleasant smile; though there was plenty of the boy about him there was a serious vein in Harry’s thinking which soon brought him to face the great deep questions of life. A year had scarcely elapsed from the time of leaving school before he joined the membership of Trinity Church.

In 1904, Harry went to Kingston in Jamaica where he worked for eight years. During that time he went through the terrible experiences of the great earthquake of January, 1907. Although he escaped the physical perils of that time, I have some kind of an idea that it was then he met his “fate,” and that there was some connection between the incidents of January, 1907, and a marriage which took place in Kingston, 1910, between Harry on the one side, and Miss Isabel Frances, of Crouch end, London on the other. But I do not give this as authoritative, lest, perchance, a very treacherous memory should have betrayed me.

Only this I know, and can speak thereon with utter confidence, having been privileged to visit on several occasions their delightful little home in Montreal, that it was a marriage full of happiness and promise.

It was in 1912 that they migrated to Montreal and in 1914 that I found them there, with Maurice who had joined them about a year before. I was at that time taking charge of Emmanuel Church during Dr. Hugh Pedley’s vacation, and being altogether a stranded and solitary stranger in the huge city, it was an indescribable pleasure to receive an English welcome in a Canadian home. None of us thought, in those early uninstructed days of the war, that it would ever be necessary for one of us to join up, and it was utterly beyond the limits of considered possibilities that one of our laughing circle should, in three years from then, have given his life for freedom.

Harry enlisted in the 244th Canadian Battalion Kitchener’s Own on September 1st, 1916. Owing to his previous training in the Victoria Rifles (Montreal’s volunteer contingent), he was almost at once given Sergeant’s rank, and when he came to England in April, 1917, it was a company Quarter-master Sergeant. Six weeks later he went to the Front with a draft to reinforce a Canadian battalion already there, and so lost his stripes, but he was speedily promoted again to Lance-Corporal, and it was while “gallantly leading his section in an attack against a strong German position,” that he met his death. The Chaplain of his Battalion, Capt. C. Stuart, speaks of him as having speedily won a place for himself in affection and esteem of all the boys. “He was so keen and willing in his work, so cheerful always in the face of all discomforts and difficulties that he became one of the most popular men in his platoon.”

And so another of our boys is gone. And the world is becoming more cheerless as we think we shall have to go on to the end without them.

But this also we know, and it far outweighs the gloom, they have brightened the earth by their example, they have for ever enriched life by their self-sacrifice.

Harry Ireland Long will not be forgotten at Trinity, and his name will go down with honour among those who have helped to save the world for Christ.

“Oh, if the sonless mothers weeping
And the widowed girls could see inside,
The glory that hath them in keeping
Who went to the Great War and died,
They would rise and put their mourning off,
And say ‘Thank God, he has enough.”

Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

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So the war takes toll of England’s best

Tribute is paid to a fallen soldier from Reading, a young man with much to offer his community.

In Memoriam
Wilfred Wallace Drake.

The sad news that our loved friend and brother, Lieut. Wilfred Drake, had died on August 16th, from severe wounds received in action that day, has cast quite a gloom over Trinity. It came to all who knew him as a shock of personal and poignant grief. He was so essentially a vital part of the work here that, in his passing, we have sustained a grievous loss. He was perhaps the one to whom some of us were looking to come back into the Church life and, in his inimitable way, to infuse fresh life and vigour into its various activities. It is a great blow to feel that this cannot be.
In thinking over his life, three characteristics stand out in impressive prominence.

1. His Splendid Keenness.

With what tremendous energy and enthusiasm he threw himself into any job he undertook, great or small. Shall we ever forget the eagerness with which he championed the scheme for the entertaining of Kitchener’s Army in 1914-15, and with what joyful willingness he gave up many an evening to this work? Of him it may be truly said – “No duty could over task him, No need his will outrun; Or ever our lips could ask him, His hands the work had done.”

2. His Gentility.

He was of a particular happy disposition, and his spirits were so infectious a nature that he made everyone else interested and enthusiastic. Whether it were the Children’s Choir, the Eisteddfod, an Institute picnic or tennis tournament, it went if “Drake” had anything to do with it. So great was his influence that even his telegram of good wishes for the success of the Eisteddfod of 1916 gave fresh Zest to the proceedings.

3. His Earnestness.

With all his spirits, his deep thoughtfulness impressed all who were privileged with his close friendship. He scarcely ever missed attendance at the Institute Bible School, and was of enormous help getting in other young men to join. They came at first at his word and because he was there; they stopped because they liked it, again helped by his unconscious influence. He was a simple but strong faith; he did not say much but lived out what he believed.

His activities were many and in all he excelled. From its commencement the institute owed much to his initiative and enterprise. For four years he was the superintendent of the Band of Hope, where his bright personality made him the life and soul of every meeting. The training of the children’s choir was a truly great piece of work, and not only revealed his wonderful aptitude for teaching children, but was the means by which large sums were raised for charitable objects. And how the children loved him! They will long revere the memory of their good natured and painstaking conductor, to whose careful tuition many of them owe their musical powers to-day. In the Choir he was invaluable. Possessing a baritone voice of rare quality and resonance, he was a decided acquisition, and his attendance could always be relied upon. Again, his glad willing spirit readily undertook any required service.

Lieutenant Drake received his commission over two years ago, and had been in France since June, 1916. He came home on leave only a month before his death. How little did we, who so gladly welcomed his presence at church, think it was for the last time! He was attached to a Trench Mortar Battery. Numerous are the tributes which have been received showing the deep affection and profound esteem entertained for him.

Through the kindness of Mrs. Drake we are able to print two of them.

His Commanding Officer writes:-

“I have just heard that your husband has died of wounds. I cannot say how sorry we all were. Although he had been away with the trench mortars, he of course belonged to the Regiment, and had been with us for some time. He was one of the bravest and most promising of officer’s, and his loss is greatly felt in the Regiment. Please accept my deepest sympathy and that of all ranks of the Battalion in your great loss.”

The second is from A/Sergt.-Major Holmes, and it is signed by many of the of lieut. Drake’s own Battery. It is as follows:-

“I write to you these few lines of sympathy on behalf the loss of your husband, Lieutenant Drake was, who was an officer in our Battery, and I must say that he was very much liked indeed by all N.C.O’s. and men. It is now we miss him, and many a time I have heard my men say, ‘Isn’t it a pity we lost Mr. Drake?’ And I am sure it is also, for I, as well as all the others, was always fond of such a brave and noble officer as he proved himself to be.

The following are names of the N.C.O.’s and men who came out of the last action; they all asked me to write, and all send their deepest sympathy to you, the wife of a noble Officer of the British Army.”

So the war takes toll of England’s best, and when it claimed Wilfred Drake, it took one whose life would have enriched our land wherever it had been lived. Yet he is not dead, for that spirit cannot die. For us its memory will never fade, but will live as an inspiration to all who knew and loved it, and “the friendships thus made in God will grow through a;; eternity” till we meet before the great white throne and all “the shadows flee away.”

But what of his loss to his loved ones? To his young wife, whose joyful wedding lingers still in all memories, our hearts go out in tender thought, and to her and to his parents, mourning the loss of their only son, we offer our heartfelt sympathy, praying that God of all consolation may comfort their hearts.

On Sunday morning, August 26th, the choir sang very impressively “What are these?” (Stainer), and Mr. Goodenough played “O rest in the Lord. ”At the Bible School in the afternoon.” Mr Streeter made feeling reference to our great loss, and a vote of condolence with Mrs. Drake and the bereaved parents was passed. Mr. E.C. Croft gave a beautiful rendering of R.L. Stevenson’s “Requiem.”

Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

“An old French lady follows all soldiers’ coffins buried from this hospital, to represent the absent mothers”

A much loved Caversham teacher died after an attack of appendicitis at the front.

Sorrow.

It is with a keen sense of loss that we at Trinity heard of the death of yet another of our noble band of soldier heroes, Percy White who passed away 0n May 10th after an operation for appendicitis. The operation itself was most successful, and he rallied splendidly from it, seeming to be doing well, but later complications set in, and though he made a good fight, his strength was gone.

Percy enlisted in The Army Service Corps in October 1915, fully realising that by reason of long-standing delicacy, he thereby ran more risks than many men, but his action was prompted by a keen sense of duty and a desire above all things to do right. He was an able musician, and for a long time had been a much valued member of the choir. There his help has been greatly missed.
His happy nature, his unfailing good temper, and love of peace, won for him a high place in the regard of all that knew him. All who came in to contact with him felt his worth, and the memory of his quiet, good life will add fragrance to the many undying influences which cast a halo round these walls. As our Pastor said in a sympathetic reference on Sunday afternoon, “He was a musician to his very core, and he made music his life.”

He was a staunch friend, a good brother and a devoted son, and to those of his nearest and dearest called to bear this heavy blow we offer our deepest sympathy. Our hearts go out to them in tenderness, praying that the Father Himself will draw very near all strength and consolation.

One of his comrades in France (where he had been 15 months) writes: “I hardly know how to begin this letter. As I told you in my letter of the 9th, poor Percy was much improved that day, but he had a relapse about one in the morning of the 10th, and passed away about 9 a.m. I truly believe everything possible was done for him, he himself said so to me the last time I saw him. It was a great blow to us all, and we know by what he was to us who have only known him such a comparatively short time, what his loss must be to you. We are only plain men, and as such we offer our deepest sympathy. You knew your boy, we knew him. He lived a clean, honest, upright life, and will, I know, reap the rewards such a life merits. We laid him to rest this afternoon in the British cemetery in a soldier’s grave with full military honours, and it was all we could do for him. The whole section and all ranks attended, and he was followed by an old French lady who follows all soldiers’ coffins buried from this hospital. I believe she represents the absent mothers. She has done it all through this long winter in all weathers; it is a great task she has set herself, but surely a kind one. I can say no more except to repeat that we all mourn the loss of the best of comrades.”

The headmaster of the Caversham Council School, where his great ability as a teacher was much appreciated, gives his testimony: “We trust that the memory of Percy’s cheery disposition, high sense of duty, and good life, will bring some solace to you. I think I may truly say that Percy won the esteem of all those with whom he came in contact, and I know that, in the case of those who became more intimately acquainted with him, that esteem ripened quickly into real affection.”

A fellow-teacher also testifies: “To-day has been indeed a sad one at school, where we felt we all knew and loved him. His nobleness and character had endeared him to all. Working and talking with him as I did, I can say that his daily life was one that helped others to be strong, and I am sure those who were privileged to know him must feel as I do, that they have lost a friend. The children at school loved him.”

Several of our “Kitchener’s Men” have this month laid down their lives for King and county, among them Lance-Corporal W. Dewe, whom many of our friends will remember. He attended our rooms every night, and never forgot Trinity, being a faithful correspondent up to the last.

Trinity Congregational Church Magazine, June 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

Guns as thick as blackberries in September

Army chaplain T Guy Rogers reported his latest experiences to his old friends in Reading.

LETTER FROM T. GUY ROGERS.

August 15th, 1916.
My Dear Friends,

I wish I could give you some idea of all the wonderful sights one see on the march. It is true one only sees under difficulties. Great clouds of dust half blind and choke us as we go. The blazing sun makes even the hardiest warrior droop his head a little as we traverse the rolling hills. Sometimes we become too preoccupied with mopping our faces to do any justice to the landscape. But when the ten minutes’ halt comes- ten minutes to the hour – when ranks are broken, and we lie down on the bank, or in the ditch, or on the heap of stones by the road, we find ourselves in more observant mood. Perhaps we have halted near some bivouacs and see hundreds of naked forms bathing in some tiny stream which would have been utterly despised in days of peace. The British soldier is not proud like Naaman! If he cannot find Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, he is content with any trickling or shallow Jordan which come his way.

Perhaps we have halted near some batteries and admire the cleverness with which they have been screened from aeroplane observation. The whole country is stiff with guns. Though there may be good reason to smile at some statements made by politicians, believe all that you hear about the guns. They are as thick as ‘leaves in Vallombrosa’ or blackberries in September. Whole batteries of – spring up like mushrooms in a night; our old eighteen pounders are, like silver in the days of the great King Solomon, ‘nothing accounted of’ for their number.

I wish too, I could repeat for you some of the stories I have heard of the tremendous fighting of the last six weeks. All honour to the armies we call by the name of the great Kitchener. To-day I hear of a boy under age for military service, who, with a handful of men, has held a position for three days against German attacks, when the rest of their Company was killed. The deeds of heroism are without number. Alas we say for those who have fallen. Such sad news comes to me from home of our brave fellows from S. John’s who have laid down their lives in the great advance. But our last word must not be ‘Alas.’ I like that custom of the French Government which consists in congratulating as well as commiserating with the relatives of the fallen. And even though from constant reiteration those fine phrases ‘The Last Debt,’ ‘The Supreme Sacrifice’ may have lost something of their pristine glory, the simple testimony still remains, ‘Greater love hath no man than this- that a man lay down his life for his friend.’

My own life is full of the kaleidoscopic changes of an army in motion. This evening I am in a chateau with ample grounds. I lunched (is the word permissible?) to the roar of a 9-inch gun. Last night I slept in a cellar, full of empty wine bottles, and most inconveniently damp; another night a little farther back in a dug-out in the front line, after burying some poor bodies lying out upon a recent battlefield.

Nearly all my services of late have been in the open air. I can recall so many which could not but touch the least sentimental, and which leave behind unforgettable memories – memories of men kneeling on the slopes of a hillside in the early morning to receive the sacrament, memories of services held between long aisles of waving pines, and on the tops of downs swept by the evening breeze.
Amidst all the sadness – and there is much – when friends (and one has so many now) are struck down by shot or shell, there is an uplifting sense of God’s presence, and we can feel it even in the valley of the shadow. And even if called upon to face sterner ordeals in the immediate future, ‘out of the depths’ shall we still praise our God.

Your sincere friend,

T. GUY ROGERS.

Reading St. John parish magazine, September 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

A ghastly pantomime

John Maxwell Image wrote to his friend W F Smith with news of a visit from a distinguished former pupil; reactions to a threatened air raid; and a book he had read by ‘Ian Hay’ (the pseudonym of a serving officer).

29 Barton Road, [Cambridge]
3 April ‘16
My most dear old man

That was a tumultuous week just passed. Tuesday’s blizzard came on in an undreamed of fury. We were delightedly entertaining an old pupil – now CE and General Commanding a Brigade of Cavalry, who passing thro’ C[ambridge] on the day previous, had learnt my marriage, and came off at once with his congratulations and the remembrances he was charged with by his brother – another pupil and now Colonel of an Infantry Battalion and DSO. It was a happy meeting. Florence apologised for having to put his teacup in a writing table in our tiny drawing room, because we had not yet set up one of those cunning nests of teatables. Next day arrived a beauty from him, begging we would accept it as a belated wedding present. A day later, and he was ordered away again: but the flying call was such a delicious whiff out of the early past.

I never saw such blinding snow before, and oh the prostrate treeboles next day – like spillikins on the grass. I counted 50 khakis labouring on their trunks in our paddocks, and at least as many in St John’s…

On Friday evening I was finishing a letter when suddenly the electric light went down, then rose, then sank – three times altogether, and left us with the faintest glimmer, just shewing enough that someone else was in the room. The official C. warning of Zepps. We packed the servants in snug armchairs by the kitchen fire: and ourselves went out into Barton Rd, where were sundry residents, chattering under the stars, – and a Trinity friend of mine in khaki, stopping all cyclists and compelling them to put out their lights. The sharp military “Halt” in the dark made at least one fellow tumble off his bike in terror! People said they heard bombs. I heard nothing, not even the drone of a Zeppelin – though one or more did pass over C – but innocuous. The Berlin news claims, I see, C among its victims.

Yesterday, at 11 pm, I was pulling off my trousers for bed, when down once more went the ghastly pantomime of the lowered lights and I had to rouse those integuments and go forth to see what was to be seen. On both nights the lights were kept down till 4 am. This morning the sudden raised flash woke me up from the sweetest slumber.

I hear from our carpenter that much damage has been done at Woolwich, where he has a couple of sons. Not a hint of this is suffered to appear in the Press….

“In Germany the devil’s forge at Essen was roaring night and day: in Great Britain Trades Union bosses were carefully adjusting the respective claims of patriotism and personal dignity before taking their coats off.

Out here we are reasonable men, and we realise that it requires some time to devise a system for supplying munitions which shall hurt the feelings of no pacifist, which shall interfere with no man’s holiday or glass of beer, which shall insult no honest toiler by compelling him to work side by side with those who are not of his industrial tabernacle, and which shall imperil no statesman’s seat in parliament.”

Read “The First Hundred Thousand” by Ian Hay (of Joh.[St John’s College]. I Hay (I forget his patronymic) is at the Front and describes the training and subsequent war experiences of a Kitchener’s Battalion so graphically that I have never seen it better done.

Letter from John Maxwell Image to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

A geographical error

Lady Mary Glyn wrote to her son Ralph with her comments on the news. The Appam was a British civilian ship transporting some wounded soldiers and German prisoners of war, as well as civilians, from West Africa. Sir Edward Merewether (1858-1938) was the British Governor of Sierra Leone, and was also onboard. The ship was captured by a German vessel, and taken to neutral America.

My own darling Scrappits…

It is Monday Jan 31 [1916] …

I have been seeing people all day – no time to write or read – even the account of the Paris Zeppelin raid. Poor Sir Edward & Lady Merewether of Malta [dogs?] lost in this Appam tragedy. It is too sad. And Lady Wake’s brother Beau St Aubyn in the Persia – doing a good turn to Johnny Ward whose place it was to go. There seems to be little hope of his having been saved, though the man standing next to him at the time of the explosion was picked up. So the whole round world is full of tragedy – but the assurance is that the Germans cannot hold out much longer. Lettice has heard that there is most certain information as to the economic conditions being desperate & quotes Bishop Bury of N Europe….

Poor Mackenzie, stationmaster – has his son home desperately ill – consumption of the throat. He has not been to the front but serving with Kitchener’s Army & it has been too rough a life….

We began the evening with a Zeppelin excitement, One reported at Bourne – & then at Ryde near Thorney, & Peterborough was warned. Now, 11 pm , I hear the Zeppelin dropped a bomb at Stamford and one other place, & we shall hear more tomorrow, & I only hope it will not come back upon its track to right this way. I am conscious of most inadequate precautions! & worry myself to think how we could protect the children [Meg’s little Anne and Richard, who were visiting]. “The safest place is just where they are”, says T’Arch [possibly the Archbishop] & counsels no move to any quarters other than where they are, as we have no cellars.
(more…)

A gloom over all our celebrations

The parish magazine of Longworth had sad news for villagers from Charney Bassett, but some pious hopes for the new year.

By the time this Magazine is in our readers hands, Christmastide with its conflicting memories of joy and sadness will have passed away. The shadow of the Great War has cast a gloom over all our celebrations during this festive season, but it is to be hoped that in the hour of sorrow this glad festival has been the means of easing many an aching heart and brightening the sad homes that have been desolated by the war. May the New Year, by God’s blessing, bring peace, unity, and concord to all the nations of the world, and happiness and prosperity to all our parishioners.

CHARNEY

We are sorry to have to think that Private Frederick Franklin, Royal Berks., lost his life at the Front some weeks ago, although the War Office at present has only notified that he is missing. We feel much sympathy for the mother in her long anxiety about her son, but can only think that he is one of those who have so bravely and nobly laid down their lives for King and Country. Fred Franklin was the first Charney man to join Lord Kitchener’s New Army.

Longworth Parish Magazine, January 1916 (D/P83/28A/11)

The Church Lads join the Cadets

The new Wargrave branch of the quasi-military Church Lads’ Brigade were settling into their existence.

On May 2nd and Whitsunday the Church Lads Brigade attended Morning Service at our Church. We are glad to publish the following report.

St Peter’s Church Lad’s Company
No. 3184

The Lads are making steady progress in their drill and other work. The Sunday Class and Church Parades have been well attended. They have now received their full equipment and look quite smart.
On Monday evening, April 5th, the Company were invited to join the Cadets, in camp at Bartletts, by Capt. Marrow (Commanding Officer).

On reaching the ground the Company were inspected by Capt. Marrow, who complimented them on their smart appearance, and in course of a short address appealed to them to aim at becoming efficient by prompt attention to all the duties they were called upon to perform.

After being dismissed the Lads joined the Cadets and a pleasant evening was spent in games, songs, etc. At the close Capt. Marrow thanked all present for their share in welcoming the Cadets at Littlewick. He said they had been shewn every kindness by everyone and they had done their utmost to make their stay pleasant. Especially he wished to thank Mr. Bates for their ideal camping ground.

We have to thank several Littlewick friends for the sum of £3 6s. 0d. towards our funds; and there are other promised gifts yet to be received.

It is hoped to give a full list of Subscribers and a statement of accounts, as soon as the Pass Book is received form Headquarters.
We have to record that Corporal A. Arnold has joined Kitchener’s Army.

Signed
T. Butterworth, Capt.
F. C. Barham, Incumbent.

The Vicar has been asked and has consented to act as Parish Representative of the “Inns of Court Officers Training Corps.” He has papers on the subject to show to any who would like to see them. There is an urgent need for well-trained Officers.

Wargrave parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

Greatly missed: Longworth mourns its dead – and Charney sees new recruits

Longworth and Charney remembered their soldiers:

The men from this village who are serving their country as sailors and soldiers are prayed for by name every Friday at the intercession service in church at 3:30. How glad we should be to have yet more of their friends join us there in prayer for them, and for our nation and all concerned.

ROLL OF HONOUR
Private Lewis Brooks – killed in action
Private Henry Timms – killed in action
Lewis Brooks has lived in Longworth all his life, and will be greatly missed. He and his wife were confirmed lately and made their communions in this Church in July, so short a time before he was recalled to his regiment.
Henry Timms had only been in the parish a short time, since his marriage. To both families we desire to express our most sincere sympathy.

Of Longworth men at the Front the following have been wounded: John Loader, Corporal W. Hutt, Albert Adams, Richard Painton, John Leach, but they are now either back at the Front or recovering at home. Albert Hobbs has been made Lance-corporal, and John Porter Colour-Sergeant, both in Kitchener’s Army. We shall be very glad of any further particulars for next month’s magazine.

CHARNEY
James Douglas (Territorial Reserves), Albert John Haines (Territorial Reserves) and William Sergeant (Army Service Corps) are among those who have recently joined the Army. Our prayers and good wishes go with them.

Longworth parish magazine, April 1915 (D/P83/28A/10/4)

We are nothing better than worms – but mustn’t grumble!

Sunday 4 April 1915 was Easter Day. The parishioners of Reading St John (now the Polish Catholic Church) had sent Easter greetings to their young men at the Front. It resulted in a number of letters from the recipients describing their experiences.

Letters from the Front: replies to our Easter letters and cards.

Cards similar to those recently seen on the Church notice boards were sent with covering letters for Easter to some fifty men at the front at the request of their relatives. The following are extracts from some of the replies received by the Vicar:-

A Terrible War.
Here is a much-needed reminder of the seriousness of our task:
‘Two of my men I laid to rest yesterday, just put their heads too far over the parapet; of course killed instantly. It is a terrible business and we are nothing better than worms, dug in and stop there, but hope that happier times are in store and very soon. We all hope and pray for it every day. I don’t think the people at home quite realise what a gigantic task we have; but we mustn’t grumble, but do it.’- GILES AYRES.

Valued Cards.
‘I wish to thank you very much for the good thoughts and wishes of yourself and everyone who remembered us on Easter Day. Thank you very much for the card. I am sending it home to-day so that I shall not lose it.’- A. L. BLAKE.

‘The card you sent me I have hung on to the wall and it shall go where I go. I shall always remember Good Friday, the day I received it.’- D. CAMPBELL.

Neuve Chapelle.
Speaking of the welcome letter just received, the writer adds: ‘Just lately we have been engaged in a big battle at Neuve Chapelle, and it was something awful and also a terrible loss on the German side.’- L.H. CROOK. (more…)

A special case: Percy gets his transfer

At long last, Percy Spencer’s long-awaited transfer from Kitchener’s Army, in which he had too hastily enlisted at the start of the war, to the Territorial Unit he had been ‘temporarily’ attached almost ever since, made it through the red tape – just in time for him to go to the Front with them. (Technically he wasn’t transferred – he was discharged with the understanding that he would automatically re-enlist.)

9/London Regiment/97
Sir,

I am directed to inform you that if Private Spencer of the Gloucestershire Regiment were allowed to remain with the 2nd Battalion, the London Regiment, difficulties might arise in connection with the issue of his pay, especially if the Brigade of which the Battalion forms part whould be sent overseas.

In these circumstances I am to state that sanction is hereby given for the discharge as a special case of Private Spencer from the Regular Army in order that he may be enlisted into one of the Battalions of the 6th London Infantry Brigade.

I am
Sir
Your obedient servant
Gerald Adshead, Captain, for Director of Recruiting

The General Officer Commanding,
London District,
Horse Guards, SW
8/3/15

Letter permitting the discharge of Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/12/31)

Entertaining soldiers

More Territorial soldiers from Kent had been in east Berkshire over the winter and were now moving on.

Ascot
TERRITORIALS.
A large number of our Territorials, to our regret, left Ascot for Chatham on January 26th. They bought with them unaccustomed brightness to our ordinarily quiet Ascot. They are a fine, well-conducted body of men, and all Ascot wishes them GOD speed. The Army Service Corps still remains with us for a time. We understand that a contingent of Lord Kitchener’s Army may be shortly expected here.

Cranbourne
The West Kent Territorials left us on Tuesday, January 26th . They introduced into what has been described as “this dull village of Winkfield” a certain liveliness. We do not imagine we are able to compete with the “resources of civilisation” of a town like Maidstone; still we all tried to do our best to mitigate the alleged dullness.

The Sunday School was converted into a Recreation and refreshment room, water was laid on, gas stoves introduced, games and newspapers provided, concerts arranged, and the “inner man” was generously catered for. Mrs. Creasy and Mrs Maywell-Williams devoted a large part of each day to the commissariat. Their labours were much appreciated, at any rate by the soldiers, who very often expressed their thanks. Other ladies from this Parish and from Winkfield and Ascot were in attendance from 4 to 7 p.m. each evening, and the members of the C.E.M.S. and their lady friends took their place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and, helped by the Scouts, washed up and generally tidied the room after the soldiers had left. The cost of preparing the room and the expenses connected with the lighting, heating and cleaning the room amounts to about £20, towards which the following subscriptions have been received: Mr. Asher, £5; Mrs. Barron, £2 1s. 0d; Col. Cross (for newspapers), 10-; Mrs. Foster, £1; the Misses Ravenhill, £1.

The Cranbourne Reading Room in North Street was also thrown open to the Soldiers without charge, and there they met with a hearty welcome. Several ladies in the neighbourhood also provided concerts and entertainments.

We are grateful to those Soldiers who so kindly helped us in the Choir at the Parade Service and at Matins and Evensong.

Ascot and Cranbourne sections of Winkfield District Magazine, February 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/2)

An earnest appeal to young men in Charney

On 10 December 1914, an illustrated lecture on the war was delivered in the north Berkshire village of Charney Bassett, followed by an impromptu recruitment drive.

A very interesting and instructive Lecture on the War, illustrated with lantern pictures, was given in the Schoolroom on Thursday, December 10, at 8pm by Captain F. C. Loder Symonds. The pictures were shown by Dr Woodward. There was a large audience. The lecturer made an earnest appeal to Charney young men to come forward and join Lord Kitchener’s Army.

Longworth parish magazine, January 1915 (D/P83/28A/10)

Deprived of the opportunity to serve

The head teacher of Sonning Boys’ School was among those who felt called to join up. But his path to arms was denied when his employers refused to release him. He used the school log book to record his position for posterity:

4th December 1914

Having been accepted by the Sportsman’s Battalion (Lord Kitchener’s Army) I made application to the School Managers for leave of absence to join the Army for the period of the war. The Managers decided that they could not sanction my leaving unless I could find a substitute who would have to be approved by them and the Berkshire Education Committee. By a special favour I was granted by the Adjutant a fortnight in which to join the Battalion in training at Hornchurch. The Managers’ decision has consequently deprived me of an opportunity to serve as a soldier.

In reply to a further inquiry of mine asking whether, in the event of my leaving without giving the legal three months notice, the Managers would re-instate me if I returned, the School Correspondent, Mr Mathews wrote to the effect that my position as Head Master could not be kept open for me. He further stated that the Managers thought my patriotism could be better expressed by “remaining at my post”.

I cannot but here record my keen regret and disappointment at the Managers decision.

Another Berkshire school was affected by the war when it was briefly taken over by the army in December 1914. The log book of Gordon Road Boys’ School in Maidenhead records, on 4 December:

School used by Captain Carey (Durham Light Infantry) in the morning to pay his men, and in the afternoon to pay his billets.

Sonning Boys’ School log book (89/SCH/1/2, pp. 23-24); Maidenhead Gordon Road Boys School log book (C/El/107/1, p. 80)

For King and Country

More young men from Theale had joined up by October 1914.

FOR KING AND COUNTRY.
In addition to the names published in the Magazine for September, the following from our Parish have offered themselves:-
William Corderoy, King’s Royal Rifles
Arthur Eatwell, Kitchener’s Army.
Jesse Eatwell, Oxfordshire Light Infantry.
Albert Howard Morland, Grenadier Guards.
Harry Morland, Grenadier Guards.
James Janes, Royal Berks Yeomanry.
Owen Wyatt, Royal Berks Yeomanry.

Theale parish magazine, October 1914 (D/P132B/28A/4)