Chosen to go to America to train men there in “sniping”

A local man was picked to train American recruits.

Warfield

Pte. A. Beal and J. Harwood have recently joined His Majesty’s Forces.

We were glad to welcome home on leave this month Privates L. Cox, F. Fancourt, N. Nickless, T. Nickless, G. Nichols, H. Ottaway, A. Shefford, also A. Cartland, who has just obtained a commission in the R.F.C., and who we heartily congratulate.

We congratulate Corporal Edwin Gray on his promotion to Sergeant and on the fact he has been chosen to go to America to train men there in “sniping.” Sergt. Gray began his career as a marksman at the Winkfield Miniature Rifle Range.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, December 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/12)

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An air of sadness as nature reclaims the countryside

Percy Spencer shared his sense of an abandoned countryside with expat brother Will.

15 December 1917

A letter from Percy to us both, which I read to Johanna in the verandah after breakfast. After telling us about his rowing experiences [in Cambridge while training as an officer there], he continues:

“At the moment I am on [sic] a loose end, but expect to be in France or elsewhere by the middle of January. Cookham is very empty & silent. There is some compensation in the re-asserted claims of nature in the quiet corners of the earth as man’s claims have slackened, but altogether there is an air of sadness about the countryside, very depressing. I feel the water rat would much prefer to plop hastily into the water at your approach & the moorhen to scuttle jerkily into the reeds, than to feed unmolested & fearless of disturbance.”

So Percy feels that the water rat & the moorhen wish too, that the old times were back. In this feeling that the wild creatures must feel the same as he does, Percy not only shows a deep love of nature & of man, but also something of the imagination of a poet.

Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/26)

Sympathy for the loss of a young man of great promise and amiability

Worshippers at Maidenhead Congregational Church sent Christmas gifts out to their young men at the front.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Those who knew George Whitmill will be able to sympathise the more keenly with his parents in their sorrow. He was a young man of great promise and amiability, and a keen student. He was a member of Mr. Heywood’s Bible Class in the Institute. He was killed at the front on October 30th. We offer our tenderest Christian sympathies to his friends.

Victor Anderson is in hospital at Sheffield suffering from “trench fever.” Reginald Hill is back at Shheffield, and is to undergo another, and we trust the last, of a weary series of operations. Donald Lindsay and Percy Lewis have been home on leave.

Christmas parcels have already been sent out to our lads in the Mediterranean Forces, and the others will be forwarded very shortly. Miss Hearman and Miss Nicholls have been good enough to undertake the considerable task of the purchase and packing of these parcels.

Letters also of greeting from the Church will be sent to all our men. The minister will be grateful for addresses corrected up to date. Boxes are to be placed at the doors on Sundays, December 2nd and 9th, to receive contributions towards the cost, which amounts to about £6.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, December 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

War bread makes us itch

The poor quality bread issued in wartime sounds as though it may have caused allergic reactions in some people.

29th November 1917

F.B. went back to-night enroute to Italy he expects.

I went to bed at ½ past 9.

This war bread or something has given all of us a most irritating sensation like the itch.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

A useless horse

28 November 1917

Man came to fetch chestnuts. Horse from Government useless….

Wire from Boy [their son in law Leo Paget] to say Paris leave on from 10th to 16th.

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

A chum he last saw on the banks of the Somme

A friend of the Hallams had an unexpected reunion while home on leave, while a maid at Bisham Abbey had suffered a family bereavement.

William Hallam
25th November 1917

Up at ¼ to 7. Emptied the bath, lit fire and went to H.C. at St. Paul’s at 8. A bitter cold wind. I also went down to the XI [11 o’clock] Service with Muriel & Frank Britten. Coming out of church he met an army chum of his – a St. Paulite – Richards whom he last saw on the banks of the Somme.

Florence Vansittart Neale
25 November 1917

Colonel Wells to lunch about soldiers for allotments….

Annie off home, her brother killed.

Diaries of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

The great sacrifice

Crazies Hill Notes

So far as we have observed the following from our list of those serving King and Country have been home on leave recently and it gave us great pleasure to welcome them:

Henry Doe, Hubert and Walter Denton, Tom Silver, Joseph Kimble, Jesse Waldron, Sam, Jim, David and Tom Weller.

Charles Ellison Woodward is a first-class wireless operator on a patrol yacht and not on a mine-sweeper as stated in our last issue.

Much sympathy is felt for Willie Denton who had a leg amputated owing to wounds and is now in Netley Hospital. He was a faithful member of our choir, and when home on leave some time ago he took his place in the choir as usual and we were all so glad to see him back. To his father and relatives as well as to himself we offer our sincere sympathy.

Hare Hatch

The deepest sympathy of a large circle of friends is felt for Mr. and Mrs. Sharp, whose son Valentin was killed at Salonica, on September 28th.

The Commanding Officer states: “We looked upon him not so much as a comrade but as a brother, he was greatly loved by the whole company.”

Valentine served at Gallipoli until he was wounded when, after a short period of convalescence at home, he was sent to Salonica where he has made the great sacrifice. This second bereavement has called forth the deepest sympathy for the family. We trust they will be supported and comforted by our prayers in the hour of trial.

Wargrave parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

Germans “too downtrodden to rise”

Florence Vansittart Neale was glued to every wild rumour about the war, while Will Spencer’s love for his German wife had only grown stronger through their difficult years of exile in Switzerland.

Florence Vansittart Neale
November 1917
[inserted before 23 November]

Hear P. Innes says state of Germany awful. People too weak to rise, able bodied men only able to work half time, too downtrodden to rise.
Hear the Pope instigated the Italians to give up. He encouraged Austrian spies everywhere!

23 November 1917

Hear Boy cannot get Paris leave. Hope for January…. Hear most domestic servants to be requisitioned for work – only allowed 1 servant each person! Counting the gardeners!!!

Hear General Plumer & staff have been in Italy 3 weeks to see how many necessary to keep Italy. Our troops must go over Mt Cenes pass.

Hear through Marga that a Florentine Regiment who deserted was sent back to Florence with “traitors to their country” on their brassades.

Hear many battalions would willingly shoot 1 in 10 of strikers [illegible].

Will Spencer
23 November 1917

During the afternoon I called & had an interview with Herrn Fursprech Engeloch. Father need take no further steps to obtain attestation of my residence in Cookham before Jan. 19/15, as it may not be needed. As soon as the matter comes before the Gemeinde (I told him we had chosen Oberburg [as their official home town in Switzerland]. Herr E. will let Oberst Reichel know, in order that he can then write on our behalf, stating that we are friends of his, as he has kindly offered to do. Probably the best means of letting the German authorities know that I had become a Swiss subject would be to apply to have Johanna’s money sent here, mentioning thereby that I am a Swiss subject, & if that is questioned, to then place the matter in the hands of the Swiss Political Department. My naturalization cannot finally be ratified until the Grosser Rat has met again. It only meets twice a year, & will meet next, Herr E. said, in Feb. or March, or at the latest in April….

I was sorry to have to tell Johanna how long we might have to wait for the ratification of our naturalization. After we had had coffee in Johanna’s room, something moved me to tell her that I had learned to know her better & that she had become more to me than ever during these last years – in some ways years of trial – in Switzerland. Johanna had afterwards to go into the town, but she would not let me go with her, as I was not quite up to the mark, & she thought it better for me to rest. When she returned, she thanked me again for what I had said. I said that I was sorry that they were only words that I had spoken, that I felt such things were better expressed in deeds, but she comforted me with the assurance that what I had said had not been merely words.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/26)

Meeting a husband home on leave

Two married teachers met up with their soldier husbands, home on leave.

Maidenhead
22nd November 1917

Mrs Wells had leave of absence this afternoon because of her husband’s military leave.

Emmer Green
22nd November 1917

Mrs Hussy, infants’ teacher is away on leave, to meet her husband, a soldier home on leave.

Log books of King Street School, Maidenhead (C/EL77/1, p. 405); and Emmer Green CE School (R/ES8/3, p. 137)

To Ireland at an hour’s notice

The continuing unrest in Ireland affected some of the Vansittart Neales’ friends.

17 November 1917

Fred turned up for weekend. Fear of Ireland stopped his former leave. Hear Ken went off to Limerick at an hour’s notice.

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

“Everyone misses his smiling face”

There was good news and not-so-good news of Maidenhead men.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are very sorry to learn that Ernest Bristow has been wounded, but there seems every hope that his injuries are not serious. One of his chums writes,

“He went up to one of our advanced dressing stations to take over stores, and it was while standing at the mouth of a dug-out that he was wounded. A Bosche fleet of aeroplanes came over, and a bomb dropped quite near, wounding some ten men and killing two others. He caught it in the left arm and in both legs, but his wounds are flesh wounds, and not dangerous. He suffered from a severe shaking up, but bore it extremely well. The sergeant who dressed his wounds thinks he will soon be all right again. Everyone misses his smiling face and bright personality, and none more than his sorrowing pal. We all feel that his loss to the Unit is irreparable… He was by far the best clerk, and one of the most popular in the Unit.”

We earnestly trust that the hopeful tone of this letter may be justified by events, and that Corporal Bristow will suffer no permanent injury.

Harold Islip, who returned to his post after leave about a month ago, has been in hospital suffering from dysentery. Cyril Hews, George Belcher, and Donald Wilson have been home again for ten days, all in good health and spirits. Herbert Brand, who has been Company Q.M.S. in the 8th Berks., has been for two or three months past in a Cadet Corps, and expects shortly to receive a Commission.

Wilfred Collins is now quite convalescent and was in Maidenhead a few days ago.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, November 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Released from internment

One of the British soldiers who had been wounded early in the war and treated in neutral Switzerland had at last been repatriated.

We have had a delightful visit from Pte. Ralph Grinsted and Corpl Arthur Taylor (son of Sergt-Major Taylor) now quartered with the Canadians at Whitley Camp. Pte T F Fullbrook, Royal Marines, writes from Stonehouse that he is leaving England for the Near East. Many good wishes go with him. Capt. Charleywood Turner has at length been released from internment camp in Switzerland and has paid us a visit. He was severely wounded in Aug 1914.

Earley St Nicolas parish magazine November 1917 (D/P192/28A/14)

“His machine nose dived to what seemed certain death”

There were varying fortunes for the men of Winkfield.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING.

Much sympathy is felt for the family of Private Charles Mitchell, who we much regret to record was killed in action on October 11th. He was only 19, and had been at the front but a few weeks. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, November 11th, at 6.30 at the Parish Church , when we have no doubt that many will show their sympathy by attending.

Stoker Karl Brant has been very ill with pneumonia but is now convalescent and home on leave.

Private Fred Fancourt has been wounded in the face; he is in Hospital in France and is doing well.

Flight Commander Foster Maynard met with an aeroplane accident which nearly cost him his life. It is reported that when flying, through some mishap, his machine nose dived to what seemed certain death, when it was held up by some branches and he sustained many cuts about the head and a badly broken arm, but is now doing well in hospital.

Private Albert Carter is ill with trench fever, he is in hospital in England and we hope progressing favourably.

We are glad to learn that Private John Carter who had a very long and serious illness, is now convalescent, also Private George Streamer is now almost recovered and able to take up light duty in Ireland.

Private William Burt has been invalided out of the Amy, the chronic nephritis from which he is suffering being brought on by the exposure and hardships of the trenches. He is much better now and will we trust in time get quite strong again.

We congratulate Sergeant Henry Oatway on his promotion to Sergeant-Major in the Engineers.

CHRISTMAS PRESENTS TO OUR MEN.

We have always remembered the Sailors and Soldiers from our Parish at Christmas, and sent them small Christmas gifts which they have greatly appreciated. Mrs. Maynard raised the fund for doing this last Christmas and the Christmas before by means of a rummage sale, but this cannot be managed this year and so we must fall back on the subscriptions as in 1914, but I am sure that we shall feel it a privilege to do our share in bringing some Christmas cheer to the men to whom we owe so much. About £15 will be required.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, November 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/11)

A brave bride

New bride Elizabeth Paget (nee Vansittart Neale) had to say goodbye as her husband’s leave was up.

2 November 1917

Bubs & E. down by 4.50. Boy [bridegroom Leo Paget] gone that morning. Our poor dear bride very good & brave but must feel it dull…

Italians still retreating.

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

Adding a name to the list of those of our lads who went out to fight never to return again

Two brothers from Reading had different fates.

Park Church and Institute
Church News

Wilfred Smith

To our great sorrow we have this month to add his name to the list of those of our lads who went out to fight never to return again. Wilfred was killed in action on August 22nd. Unhappily there was a short period of painful suspense before the official news arrived. A letter from a comrade who had been injured by the same shell told how his inquiries as to Wilfred’s fate met with no satisfactory replies, and conveyed the clear impression that its writer suspected that the worst had happened. Following the arrival of that letter came days of silent suffering and fruitless inquiry. Eventually the usual form of announcement from the War Office settled all doubts, and destroyed all hopes. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his father and mother and brothers and sisters. Wilfred belonged to a family that has always been closely identified with Park, and he was one whose pleasing disposition easily won affection. Before joining the Army he was registrar at the Sunday School, and after joining continued to act in that capacity so long as he was about. Some of us will always carry in our minds a picture of him in his Khaki seated at the little table just inside our Hall doors quietly staring at the children’s cards as they arrived on the Sunday afternoon. And we had hoped that this Autumn might see him back there again, and not in his Khaki! But God has opened another door to him, and he has gone where that graciousness of disposition which made him willing to serve while here will be considered of the highest worth. May the Love which has taken him back to itself come very near to those who mourn his loss.

Leslie Smith (Wilfred’s brother) is soon to get his discharge from the army. The wound in his ankle seems to have led to a permanent disability which will rather affect his walking powers. We greatly regret this, but at the same time cannot but be glad that he will soon be back again in safety under the home roof, where no doubt his presence will help to bring comfort and courage.
Mr. Goddard, our Sunday School Secretary, is to our surprise among the wounded. We thought he would never get near the firing line, but he had only been in France quite a short time before he was back again in hospital. He is now in a convalescent camp at Eastbourne, and we are looking forward to a visit from him before long.

It was happy chance which brought the brothers Newey (one from Greece, one from France, and one from a home camp) home on leave together.

Park section of Trinity Congregational Magazine, November 1917 (D/EX1237/1)