We have now finished blackberry picking

The terrible flu epidemic hit Hurst.

Hurst
25th October 1918

Some of the boys in the lower class are away with influenza. School closed for a fortnight owing to influenza.

Hampstead Norreys
25th Oct.

We have now finished blackberry picking & altogether this school has picked 2001 lbs. With Filsham (177 ½ lbs) and Yattendon (163 ½ lbs) we have sent away 2,342 lbs.

On “Our Day”, 24th Oct., we collected £6 7s 0 ½ d for the Red Cross Funds.

Reading
1918
Oct 25

School closed till the 5th Nov. because of the prevalence of Influenza. Three teachers – Miss Tilley, Miss Godwin, and Mrs Page, away through influenza.

25th October 1918
A Lantern lecture was given in the schoolroom this evening by Dr Smith – the proceeds going to the Red Cross Fund.


Log books of Hurst C of E Boys School log book (D/P73/28/23, p. 39); Hampstead Norreys CE School (C/EL40/2); St John’s School, Reading (D/P172/28A/23); Aston Tirrold CE School log book (C/EL105/1, p. 168)

Advertisements

The NCOs do not seem to know a great deal about bombs

Sydney was battling through his digestive issues – not to mention his self confidence.


Monday 22 July 1918

As I had had a hard day yesterday, what with the reconnaissance & my indisposition, I did not attend the first parade but went to aid post & there obtained some castor oil for inspection uses.

Went on 9.45 parade. Did platoon training which included some interesting fire orders work. After lunch rested & censored letters.

At 5.15 gave a lecture to all NCOs on bombs, chiefly about the mills bomb. The NCOs do not seem to know a great deal about bombs. I hope I didn’t bore them stiff. After the lecture there were no other parades.

Spent remainder of day in writing, playing patience etc. To bed fairly early. Feeling better after castor oil!

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

“Rather boring but a necessary part of a course I suppose”

Sydney Spencer continued his gas course.

Sunday 9 June 1918

Got up at 7.15. After breakfast wrote up some of my notes. On parade. A long lecture on yellow cross shelling. A very good lecture. After a break, we each had to give details for different drills. Rather boring but a necessary part of a course I suppose. Then a talk by SSOI training Lt Col Porrit Morris. A lecture on cause of casualties in yellow cross. Then we dismissed.

After lunch, during which we had a few contretemps owing to bad mess waiting, a lecture on gas poisoning. After tea lolled about a bit. Wrote notes until 7 pm & then down to Hesdin to dinner with Barker. Noticed a French Major at dinner. He was a curious old man & had curious manners.

After dinner walked back to mess & wrote up my notes until 12.30. Then to bed and read more of Tartarin de Tarascon. A highly entertaining book. A lot of ‘sweet’ rain today to cool the atmosphere. A fine night.

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

A very vigorous lecture on the Navy’s work in the War

Grammar schoolboys in Newbury heard about the Navy – with an eye to recruiting them, perhaps?

On Tuesday, May 21st, we were treated to a very vigorous lecture on the Navy’s work in the War, by Mr. White, a chief lecturer of the Admiralty, who has been doing a tour of the Public Schools. Incidentally it was remarked how few boys we send into the Navy from the school.

The Newburian (magazine of St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury), July 1918 (N/D161/1/8)

A war experience of singular and thrilling interest

A Reading woman bore witness to the war in Serbia.

The Work for Serbian Boys.

A lecture will be given in S. John’s Institute on Monday, May 6, at 8 p.m. on behalf of this work by Miss A. F. Parkinson, who has been acting as Superintendent of the hostel for Serbian Boys in the Bulmershe Rd.

Miss Parkinson has had a war experience of singular and thrilling interest. She was the only English person in Nish when the invading army of Germans and Bulgarians entered and after being kept prisoner for some months, was finally released, given her passport and sent home to this country via Austria and Germany. She stayed a short time in Vienna and a fortnight in Berlin and had unique opportunities of seeing both these capitals of enemy countries under war conditions. She is also very well acquainted with the peoples of the Balkan Peninsula and also knows the full story of the terrible Serbian retreat in which the boys now in our town took part.

No charge will be made for admission to Miss Parkinson’s lecture, but there will be a collection in aid of the work in which she is interested.

Reading St. John parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P172/28A/24)

Slush, real Flanders slush everywhere

It was a gloomy day, but a more cheerful evening, for Sydney Spencer and his fellow officers.

Thursday 18 April 1918

Got up at 7.30. A miserable day, wet & slush, real Flanders slush everywhere. Parades up on the high ground at the range, not of the most cheerful with a biting wind & drizzle, but we got through alright. We had some gas stunts very like what we had in England, except that the Div officer had not the stuff I could use.

After lunch went down to billets & gave two lectures on gas to the company, & there was a kit inspection. After tea wrote a few cards & a letter to Florence. Also packed some spare kit to send home. Washed & changed & bad dinner.

The other chaps are now playing vingt et un, & I am going to be OC gramophone, & then to bed to read Tennyson.

8.45 pm. A fine moonlight night.

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

“It seemed very strange to be doing my work after so many months”

Sydney Spencer was still some way behind the front line.

Wednesday 17 April 1918

Got up at 7.30. A better morning, warmer, but wind.

Went on parade at 9. A march of about one mile up on to a trench system where … I did platoon’s drill for a time. It seemed very strange to be doing my work after so many months.

After lunch fine again till 3 when it poured with rain. I gave a lecture to ‘B’ company on Gas. Paid company at 3.30.

After tea got my clothes dry, changed, made out mess and [illegible] for A and B companies. After dinner, all officers paid me so that I was able to make things square.

To bed at 9.30 & read In Memoriam for a little while. A fine night.

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

Lectures to the interned

A local JP wanted to enliven the lives of the internees stuck in Reading Prison. Sadly, this request was destined to be turned down by the Prison Commission.

11th April 1918

About a month ago Mr Jackson, one of the Borough Visiting magistrates, asked if a friend of his, Mr H M Wallis, Ashton Lodge, Christchurch Road, Reading – also a Borough magistrate, could give a lecture to the interned men here.

I told Mr Jackson his best procedure would be to request Mr Wallis to write to me, and to submit a syllabus of the proposed lecture, and that I would then refer the matter to the Prison Commissioners.

Mr Wallis called on me today, and asked if such a lecture would be allowed, and also left me the attached syllabus of three lectures to select from [not actually attached].

I am informed that Mr Wallis is an able lecturer, but have not met him before. Should the Commissioners approve, the lecture would be held on a weekday in the chapel.

I informed Mr Wallis that I would submit his proposal to the Commissioners. The lecture would of course be voluntary attendance.

C M Morgan

Gov.
[to]
The Commissioners

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

“Providing a man is practical & unselfish, the life is not bad”

Will Spencer heard from soldier brother Horace, who offered a pleasant view of army life, and from the wife of another soldier brother, Natalie.

19 March 1918

When I got back, Johanna asked me if it was my birthday. Letters from Natalie & from Horace, & a parcel [and letter from a Swiss friend]…

Reading the [three] letters to Johanna, with running comments, after dinner, was quite a long proceeding, as Natalie’s letter was one of 8 large pages!.

Horace writes to me,

“Perhaps you are sometimes pained at the conjectured hardships that we have to undergo, so I will try to relieve your mind on that point. Providing a man is practical & unselfish, the life is not bad, there are kind words and deeds exchanged at all times, & so the atmosphere is pleasant. He has heard concerts & lectures, visited 6 cathedral towns in France, has learned to play chess, & read – amongst other books – Holmes’ Life of Mozart….

Natalie writes that Harold “had a rotten [underlined] time one way & another, tho’ now his lines seem to have fallen into pleasanter places”.


Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/28)

Subjects closely connected with the War

Food shortages had led to a soup kitchen for children in Ascot.

The Lantern Services in the Parish Room on Fridays at 7 p.m. are being taken by the Rector and deal with subjects closely connected with the War. There was a very fair attendance at the first service, and it is hoped that it will increase as the services become more generally known.

By the effort of the Teachers a Soup Kitchen is being started as the Schools for the benefit of the children, and we are sure many parents will be most grateful for this help in this difficult days. The Managers have made a small grant towards utensils, and gifts of vegetables, or offers of personal help will be welcomed by the Teachers ….

At a War Savings Conference held at the Reading Rooms, Sunninghill, on Wednesday, February 20th, it was resolve to form a local War Savings Committee for the district to be known as “The Sunningdale and Ascot District War Savings Committee”, its chief object being to establish as many new Associations as possible in the neighbourhood, the ladies and gentlemaen elected being Mr. Percy Crutchley (Chairman), Messrs. H. J. Whitehead and A.J. Merton (Hon. Secretaries), Col. Blackburn, (Hon. Treasurer), Mrs. Ninian Elliott, the Hon. Miss Gordon, Mr. E. Wolseley, Heresy Marchioness of Linthgow, Mr. G. J. Francis, Mr. F. J. Patton, Mr. C.W. Searle, Mr. J.W. Abbott, Mrs. Trotter, Mr T.A. Woods. The Committee was given power to add to its number, and it was intimated that if Sunningdale cared to join up with this Committee, the inclusion of this parish would be cordially welcomed.

The Ascot War Savings Association has just completed one year’s working. The total number of certificates sold during that time being nearly 1000.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, March 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/3)

Re-kindling our interest in Serbia

There were Serbian child refugees in Reading.

Miss Parkinson’s lecture on Serbia should go far towards re-kindling our interest in Serbia, and especially in the Serbian boys living amongst us here in Reading. There will be special collections for the local work of the Serbian Relief Fund at S. Mary’s on Sunday, March 10th.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P116B/28A/2)

Lessons of the Great War

The vicar of Reading St John suggested parishioners might like to help provide a new communion set for an army chaplain:

Letter from the vicar

My dear friends,

My own letter to you this month will be a brief one, as I want to give pride of place to Mr Morley’s very interesting letter from the front. Perhaps some of his friends in the parish would like to supply his obvious need of a set of Communion vessels of convenient size. I shall be very glad to receive subscriptions for this purpose….

The addresses on Wednesday evenings [during Lent] are to be given by the Rev. E J Norris… These services will consist of war intercessions and the address, and will last about 40 minutes…

At St Stephen’s Church on Thursday evenings there will be a series of lantern services, if gas is obtainable for the lantern, under the general heading, “Lessons of the Great War”. The pictures illustrating the addresses are really beautiful, and I think the services will be found both helpful and comforting….

Also let us not cease day and night to make supplication to God for the restoration of Peace.

Your sincere friend and vicar

W. Britton

Reading St. John parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P172/28A/24)

A lecture on aerial photography

The new technology of flight was used in the war not just for battles and bombing – it was an intelligence tool.

1918
Jan 25th

Battalion order 136. A lecture on aerial photography to be given by Captain H Lejeune, MC, RFC Feb 4th. Extremely interesting.

Diary of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EX801/12)

Collections for the sufferers in Palestine from the war

There was sympathy for the plights of civilians in wartorn Palestine.

LECTURES.

Two lectures on Jerusalem were given by the Vicar on December 20th at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. They were illustrated by many lantern slides. Collections were made for the sufferers in Palestine from the war, and realised £1 22d. 9d. and many collecting boxes were taken by old and young.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, January 1918 (D/P 151/281/10)

Shot at dawn for “cowardice” caused by shell shock

John Maxwell Image wrote to his friend W F Smith, who was staying at Hindhead in south west Surrey, not far from the big army camp at Aldershot. Normally very gung-ho in support of the war, Image’s compassion had been aroused by stories of court martials and teenagers shot at dawn. The Revd Thomas Pym (1885-1945), in peacetime the chaplain at Image’s college, was serving as an army chaplain.

29 Barton Rd
6 Dec. ‘17
My very dear old man

The military cars to and fro Aldershot must surely be more or less an interesting sight.

The poor Tommy comes under this [?not clear] penalty quite frequently. Not often from cowardice, poor boy. Most often (I believe) it is from slinking off to some girl in the rear which is called “desertion”, tho’ he would have returned right enough.

Just before I was married there was shown to me a letter from a young Trin. Officer at the Front, describing a visit from one of our Trin. Chaplains, begging this young friend of his to “pray for him”, for he had to pass the night with a boy of 18 who was to be shot at dawn. Pym spoke then of a night with another poor child (of 17!) who had been shot the previous week, for what the CM was pleased to style Cowardice – though he had twice behaved with exceptional bravery, and it was only after seeing his two brothers killed at his side that on this occasion his nerve broke down. In an officer it would have been called “shell-shock”, and the interesting sufferer sent home to a cushy job in England. I know of 2 thus treated. Pym’s words brought the tears to my eyes. I see that he has told the story (slightly altered) in a book that has recently come out by him, Characteristics of the Army in Flanders.

Sir Arthur Yapp at the Guildhall last Friday. The Signora went (non ego) and returned enthusiastic – she and her Cook – over the great man’s dignity and sweetness. That evening he lectured the students (and I believe also them of Girton) in Newnham College – and left by the 9.9 for London.

One remark of his: “The vessels sunk by the U-boats during the week ending Nov. 24 (I forget how many that was) might have carried enough bread to feed Cambridge for nearly 7 years, or enough meat for 8 ½ years, or enough sugar for 64 years.”

He said that Food Tickets have changed Germany to a nation of forgers. He dreaded the like fate for England.

Yours ever
Bild

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