“Of course no English branch of the business can be carried on now War exists”

A suspicious letter from a former business contact in Germany led the authorities to take a look at an internee in Reading. His business used Yorkshire wool to make hair for dolls in toymaking centre Sonnenberg.

Re letter of G Stichl March 18th 1918
Attention should be drawn to this letter from the Mrs D to whom he refers and to say who he is and how he knows her.
J F W 20/3

Papers returned with many thanks. Doms’ connection with Wm Guy & Sons is on record here, but it is not known that the latter firm acquired Stichl’s business or that the branch at Fonneberg had not been interfered with by the Germans; letter posted.

22 March 1918
G Stichl and Mr Doms
20.8.15 S of S Order, Defence of the Realm Regn, Internment

Stichl states:

He had a wool and dolls hair business in Bradford and at Sonneberg (near Coburg). About 1890 he advertised in Yorkshire for a correspondent – received a reply from Mr Doms, who was correspondent in spinning machine maker’s office, Messrs Wild & Co, Leicester. Engaged him and found him useful – a German speaking perfect English and other languages. Was trained by Stichl at Bradford from about 1890-1896 and then became Stichl’s managing clerk at Sonneberg – used to come to Bradford to see Stichl, and Stichl visited him frequently to examine books &c.

Mrs Doms. Cannot remember her maiden name – was a German woman who was his book keeper at Sonneberg. She married the managing clerk Doms. Does not know that she was ever in England. Cannot speak English. Frequently saw her.

About 6 or 8 years ago the business both at home & abroad was disposed of by Stichl to Mr Guy, under the name of Guy & Sons, Doms and Mrs Doms remaining as before, but Mr Doms severed term… [too faint to read].. to see Mr Guy.

States that Mr Guy still has the business and that from letter he has received from Mrs Doms, business is still carried on successfully and has not been interfered with by the Germans – but of course no English branch of the business can be carried on now War exists.

Mr Doms joined the German Army and he now learns from Mrs Doms has been made prisoner by the British Army.

C M Morgan
Governor
[to] The Commissioners

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

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A cheery letter from hospital

The vicar of Reading St Giles reported on parishioners serving in the armed forces – plus the death of his predecessor’s son.

Notes from the Vicar

Intercessions list:

E.W. Wheeler, R.F.C.; G.J. Coggs, 3/7, Worcester Regt.; A.Coggs, 14th Batt. Worcester Pioneers; William E. Haynes, R.E.; Harold Merrick, 1st Garrison Batt. Worcester Regt.; William George Rowe, R.E. Eldridge, R. Berkshire Regt.(attached D.C.L.I.); Frederick Harry Goddard, Queens Own Dorset Yeomanry; Norman A. Norris, London Rifle Brigade.

To the list of the departed: Steward B. Nelson Bolton (H.M.S. Indefatigable); Capt. Aubrey N. Carew Hunt (Oxford and Bucks Lt. Infantry) Lieut. Henry Laing (R.N.); J.W. Beechey (H.M.S. Hampshire); A. North (London Rifle Brigade).

To the list of the wounded: Leonard Smith (Canadian Contingent).

As a parish and a congregation we offer our sincere sympathy to our late Vicar and his family in the death of his son killed at the front. I know how very much we have remembered them all in our prayers. We also extend our sympathy to the Rev. H.E. and Mrs Lury on the death of their daughter.

I have also had a cheery letter from Sergt.-Major A.F. Manning who is in Hospital in Leicester and is progressing favourably.


Reading St Giles parish magazine, July 1916 (D/P191/28A/24)

“I cannot keep from loathing the German vermin”

Lady Mary wrote to her son to Ralph to express her horror at the treatment of British prisoners of war suffering from typhus in a camp at Wittenberg the previous year, which had recently been publicised.

April 11th
In the train

We are reading your General’s Gallipoli despatch and the papers are full of Verdun – and there is the check again in Mesopotamia. The story of Wittenberg is beyond my reading. I cannot read these things & keep my mind clean of loathing of the German Vermin as Collingwood calls them, “not men but Vermin”….

I wonder if you have come across Marmion [Guy], GSO, DSO, I think he is on your Staff BMEF?

I had an amusing talk with a typical Farmer Churchwarden who is an ardent Tariff Reformer, & says there ought to be a determination not to go back to Free Trade if the farmer is to be compensated for putting his farm under wheat & all the labour – that wages must be raised to enable every one to afford a 6d loaf. How? Said the Shoe Manufacturer Churchwarden – how are you going to do that? He was busy turning out one million heels for boots (Army) a month & has a big order for Russia. He gets his leather from France – 26 and 30 tons ordered & now 30 on its way. He keeps only eight men & is doing all the rest with women labour. The farmer was on the tribunal for exempted agricultural labour – a strange agreement was arrived at by them that if the Government had asked for it they should have compulsory service 3 months after war broke out. They were both interesting men, and a sort of labour leader parson Atkins joined in with very real knowledge of all the conditions. His father is an old clergyman in Leicester, who was a working man’s son….

Letter from Lady Mary to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/4)

“I hate the press” – it prints anything, true or false, as long as it sells

Lady Mary Glyn, wife of the Bishop of Peterborough, wrote again to her son Ralph with news from home. She loathed the British press, particularly the empire of Lord Harmsworth.

Monday Dec 6th

Dad … had the Service of Intercession in the Chapel at 3. Many come to it most regularly and one gets to know who are in the one comradeship of these days.

The Baghdad news is sore reading and I think of Syb and all the dread anxiety for her.

We hear little or nothing here, and perhaps it is as well. The “WJ” is the only cheering paper today – it gives an account of conditions which show why the Bosch is anxious to make peace, & the Reserves they are calling up. Rumania [sic] & the ships is the other news, & I have no light on it. It will be known when you get this….

It looks very like Conscription today. Thomas speaks up as to the shortage under Lord Derby’s Scheme & calls for a great last effort.

A good letter from “Wounded” in the Times almost makes me believe the Harmsworth Press to be not so evil as I now think it is. But I always hate the press and its ways, and greed for “copy” and for sale of news, good or bad, true or false, if only it sells – & pays…
There is to be a great Memorial Service in St Martin’s Leicester for the 4th Leicesters on Friday, and I hope to go with Dad. He is to preach, & I hope will only say a few calm strong words & not preach a sermon…

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn to her son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/2)

A fraud and a swindle

Ralph Glyn’s mother, wife of the Bishop of Peterborough, wrote to her son Ralph to tell him of the impact of the execution of Nurse Edith Cavell for helping British soldiers to escape in occupied Belgium had had on recruitment in their area. It probably had a similar effect here in Berkshire. A public school had also set the pupils to making munitions.

Peter[borough]
Nov. 2, 1915

My own darling

I weary to get news of you, to know how I can get news to you, and parcels to you. For we are arranging how to send you your Christmas things, and I shall send something every week if only you will tell me how it can be done better if the wrong things come along!…
The accounts all point now to pressure tightening at the centre, and the conditions becoming intolerable? And the power weakening on which ultimately the central powers must draw? These are dark days – and the shifting of the struggle where you were prepared to find it shifts, will bring to bear on the final problem, the best united effort. And at least the attention of the best brains will be focussed on the East and its redeeming. The King’s accident, & news of Servia [sic], have filled this week.

Recruiting has been good, and in Leicester very good, and much use has been made of the Cavell tragedy, and yet it seems to me that until we leave it with the men to go as the first armies went, from simple devotion to the service of their country, we shall miss the only lasting and outlasting motive force. Appeals to sentiment and emotion have inevitable reaction, and there is only one hope that the dulled imagination and encrusted selfishness may be stabbed awake by the knowledge of all you are bearing “for England’s sake!! at those fronts” as we call them – covering so much!…

John today has had the operation which had to be for the removal of a bit of diseased bone, & removal too of an old stump of a tooth, so he has gone back to Mrs Samuelson’s hospital, & I have no news as Maysie said she would not telegraph….

I am trying to get together a Workroom for Hospital Comforts, but these idiots have now to climb down and “register”, and are now found out as having no Red Cross work to register, so Northampton shows one large blank in the official book, and I am trying to find out if I can get them to support with funds my effort after they have been joined up. They won’t own they have been irregular and my work meantime hangs fire…

We … called on Head Master of Oundle and find the boys there doing splendid munition work, using all their engineering plant…

And this odious Red X trouble worrying me all the time. Constance Butler suggests my asking for an “Enquiry”, as they have now brought out a Report which makes the matter one for public enquiry, but I think with Dad inclined to be worried it ought to be pressed for by someone else. Much as I long to have the thing put right – it is difficult for me to show up what I consider a fraud and a swindle, & the people here would not care so long as they get credit and come before the public. I hear Lilah Butler and someone else are just taking the matter into their own hands, and are starting workrooms to help, & are registered.

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2)

Slightly wounded

Lady Mary Glyn had more news for her son Ralph about the wound suffered by Ralph’s brother in law, and sad news about their local regiment.

Oct 17, 1915
Sunday
The Palace
Peterborough

My own darling

I do miss you, so hungry I get for news and yet I know you will be kept safe under the “cov’ring wing”.

But it would have been so perfect if only you had been near, for yesterday I heard John was to come across – “slightly wounded” as you know, and I was so afraid he would be kept at the Base Hospital & not sent back, & Maysie was getting desperate. He was wounded on the 9th as he was leaving the trenches (after the hard fight on the 8th), and John’s Major wrote to Maysie a letter about John’s doings. Well, this was good news…

My pen gave out: and now on the 18th … John is safely landed in Mrs Samuelson’s Hospital! And Maysie saw him for an hour all to herself in Sibbie’s sitting room, and John had got round the nurses somehow. He had a dreadful abcess in his face, & his back & arms still sore, but the wounds were healing. Maysie’s faith & confidence had got almost to breaking point, and I cannot be too thankful that she has relief from the strain….

Oct 21st…
And now the news of the almost annihilation of the 4th Leicesters at the Hohenzollern Redoubt (which they took?) has flung the whole town of Leicester into mourning, and we know so many who have been killed – and one of the clergy wrote to be excused coming as he was all day with those who had lost their belongings.

John is likely to be some long time under medical treatment, there is some trouble of poison in the jaw, & one of the wounds had to be opened again….

St[aurn?] is to go to Egypt for OTC training work at Cairo, and goes tomorrow, 22nd. Isie is supposed to follow him later, and even dear old Russell.

Arthur Glyn was to go yesterday as 2nd in command of 2nd Grenadiers. Poor Amy. I do so feel for her and it will be hard to be left with the uneasy responsibility of Sidney, and his affairs, which have now all passed into Arthur’s hands for some time…

Your own Mur

Lady Mary Glyn to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2)

“Cut out for a staff officer”

E C Glyn, Bishop of Peterborough, and his wife Lady Mary, each wrote to their son Ralph as he left the country for a diplomatic mission. Their news included the fact that their son in law John Wynne-Finch had been wounded.

The Palace
Peterborough
Oct. 14, 1915

My own darling darling

It makes it somehow more true having to write for this mail that you have really gone, but it is I know all right and you have been sent to the work you wished & to the friends you best can help, and I so and will confide moment by moment – the cov’ring wing has been over us, and it helps so to see it at times. You will hear from Maysie how the news came to her of John’s wounding the very day Meg got back, and after the first intimation they had a bad four hours – waiting to know details. Then his own letter came 9.45 pm telling her all about it and now the fear is it is so “slight” he may not be sent home, and I have just come in from long day in Leicester & find no further news so I fear he is not yet sent across and I wonder if she can go to him. It was a rifle grenade that hit him in back & arm. He walked 2 miles to a dressing station & saw his friends, & had 2 cups of tea before being taken off in an ambulance. And he wrote cheerfully.

Now she has a delightful letter from the Major, with great praise of him. He was in the thick of the awful fighting the day before, Friday 8th, & did very well….

And now there has been another Zepp raid & Meg has had her own way & has been in London. She and Addie wished so to be there, and I only hope the children were not frightened…

so darling, own best, own son
Own Mur
Oct 14 1915
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