Strain every nerve to keep the work going at this crisis of the war

Women in Furze Platt were busy making clothes for the troops.

Furze Platt War Working Party Report for 1917

CR. £ s. d.
Subscriptions 17 7 0
Donations 3 2 10
Collected 31 12 0
Balance, 1916 6 16 0
Debt … 2 10 3 ½
£ 61 8 1 ½

DR. £ s. d.
Cleaning and Firing 0 18 10
Cheque Book …… …0 2 0
Materials… … 55 7 3 ½
Lady Jellicoe’s Fund for Sailors
… … … 5 0 0
£ 61 8 1 ½

Garments Completed
300 Swabs.
219 Bed Socks (pairs).
112 Anti-Vermin Vests.
200 Bags.
161 Sun Shields.
135 Pairs Mittens.
64 Bed Jackets.
18 Nightingales.
9 Pairs Socks.
45 Bandages.
21 Slippers.
7 Helmets.
7 Pyjamas.
26 Shirts.
68 Mufflers.
84 Mosquito nets.

Total … 1476

On the whole the report is satisfactory; the debt was covered by material in stock towards this year’s work, but the funds show a drop of nearly £6 on the amount raised in 1916… We have been able to keep up to our standard of work done, in spite of the greater strain of work which falls on everybody’s shoulders these days.

I have just received a copy of the urgent appeal sent to this district from the head organisation in London, calling upon all voluntary workers to strain every nerve to keep the work going at this crisis of the war. I am sure Furze Platt will respond to the call so far as the workers are concerned; and I trust those living in the neighbourhood will do their best to keep the fund going, and that some who have not subscribed before will either become monthly subscribers or will send a donation. It is absolutely necessary, owing to the price of the material, that we should raise more money this year, if we are to contribute the same amount of work.

I regret that I have been unable to publish this report sooner, owing to having so much work on my hands just now.

Yours faithfully, GLADYS M. SKRINE, Hon.Sec., F.P.W.W.P.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

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“The only jarring feature was the never-ending noise of the guns”

Reading men at the front report on their Christmas experiences. Harrison’s Pomade was a treatment for lice, an unpleasant reality for men in the trenches. It was produced by a Reading chemist.

LETTERS FROM THE FRONT

The following extracts from letters from our men on service have been “in type” for several months, but they have had to be “held over” for lack of space. We now have pleasure in publishing them:

The fact there are friends at home who have not forgotten us out here is a very great consolation, and one’s odd moments are often filled with thoughts of those at home. Maybe this is one of the reasons why the time seems to go so quickly. We had a very good time on Xmas day considering the wildness and loneliness (except for troops) of the spot we are in…

The only jarring feature was the never-ending noise of the guns, but somehow even among that there seemed to be a feeling of peace. Certainly there was, and is, a great desire for it. Please convey to all friends my heartiest thanks, not only for the very useful gifts but for the spirit which prompted them.

L. H. N. (OS)

Thank you so very much for the parcel and message. I was so glad to be remembered by Broad St. The church and friends it embraces will always be one of my happiest memories; and memories mean so much when we are far away. It will be my first duty – and a very pleasant one – to look you all up when I come back. Until then letters will have to suffice, I’m afraid, for all we think and feel.
L. J. P. (OS)

I wish to thank you and Broad St Chapel for the parcel which only reached me yesterday. Fortunately the things were all securely packed and none the worse for the trying journey they must have had. Thank you very much…

Although one is of necessity away from home, one’s thoughts naturally are at home, especially at this time of year, and a parcel from the church where one really learnt the elementary lessons of life is always a pleasure to receive.

L. H. F. (OS)

It gave me very great pleasure when I received the parcel yesterday from my friends at Broad St Church, also your welcome letter and circular enclosed, so full of encouraging and cheering wishes. I assure you the contents of the parcel were very welcome both for physical and spiritual needs, and I hardly know how or what to say in thanks…

Often I sit and think of the times I have spent with the choir at Broad St and long to be back again. I shall be with them in spirit when “Merrie England” is being performed and they won’t miss me half as much as I shall miss the pleasure of being there.

W. H. D. (OS)

It was a big pleasant surprise to receive yesterday the splendid parcel from dear old Broad St. Please accept my sincerest thanks. Candles especially are very welcome, and Harrison’s Pomade is a gift which only those actually here can appreciate fully. I believe this is the third Xmas on which I have received this concrete evidence of your continued interest. I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say I sincerely trust that there won’t be a fourth – under such circumstances as these at all events….

My thoughts are often in Reading, and Broad St always fills a warm corner of my heart.

W. F. H. (OS)

I am writing to thank you for your kind Xmas wishes, and most useful parcel…

I spent a happy Xmas, and even enjoyed the luxury of turkey and pudding – quite a contrast to the previous year, when I spent the festive season between the trenches and sundry “Bairnsfather” barns with “bully” stew as a constant dinner companion. I received your parcel that year during a period in which we were occupying an old brewery cellar. Te building on top had long been demolished by shell fire, but the tall chimney persisted in standing, in spite of decapitation. Naturally with Herr Bosche busily amusing himself with his battered target we were glad to get downstairs. Nor do I remember that any teetotaller had any complaint to make on that occasion upon breweries in general, or brewery cellars in particular.

N. H. (OS)

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, September 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Furze Platt has no lack of War Workers

The women of Furze Platt were hard at work.

Furze Platt War Working Party

The following work has been completed during the last six months:- Mosquito Nets 59, Anti-Vermin Vests 44, Sun Shields 85, Bandages 46, Shirts 21, Bags 133, Bed Socks 80 pairs, Slippers 21 pairs, Nightingales 18, Bed jackets 41, Swabs 300, Mufflers 35, Mittens 61, Socks 7 pairs, Helmet 1.

The subscriptions have fallen by about 15/- a month, as against the amount subscribed at this time last year, and the cost of wool and material has greatly risen. Thanks to having some material in stock at the end of last year, the Working Party has been able to furnish almost the same amount of goods for hospitals and troops at the front; but I should like to call people’s attention to the position of affairs, and to beg them, as far as is in their power, to keep up their subscriptions.

The fact that so much work has been done shows that Furze Platt has no lack of War Workers, and we may be proud of the fact that no work has been returned to us by the Depot as incorrectly done.

G.M. Skrine, Hon. Sec. and Treasurer

June 26th 1917

Furze Platt War Working Party

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

A most unsoldierly appearance

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister Florence to gently discourage her frequent food gifts, as he felt guilty accepting them when he knew food was in short supply in England.

Mar. 6, 1917
My dear WF

Yes, I got the socks & very good & welcome they are.

I’ve just read a very interesting document on “Delousing”.
Camphor and Naphthalene are or is recommended. Can you in some odd corner of your time help me in the greatest problem of this part of the world next to shell dodging!

I loved your last letter: as I think I have told you already, my greatest regret is that I can’t preserve your letters. I keep ‘em till my pockets present a most unsoldierly appearance & then they have to go west. Why “west” by the way?

Garwood wishes me to thank you for the “rum” you sent him. It makes a splendid drink.

The food question seems to be acute, and I feel that we are probably living better here than the masses are at home. Of course I love your parcels, but don’t you think, dear, that the time has come when they should be suspended, or made more occasional, and the cake cut out altogether. Please don’t be hurt, we thoroughly appreciate your dear gifts, but personally I almost have a guilty conscience in enjoying them.

I have been so busy I am sorry there is no time for more just now but to send you both my dearest love and to hope you’re both as fit as I am.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/6/24)

All right, in a topsy turvy world, but assaulted by vermin

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister Florence with a blackly comic description of dealing with vermin at the Front.

Decr 7, 1916
My dear WF

A few lines to let you know that if the rest of the world is topsy-
turvy, I’m all right.

This in spite of a very troublesome day yesterday.

To begin at the beginning, by the simple expedient of obtaining new blankets and jumping into a complete new change of clothes, I solved the vermin difficulty. At least I thought I had until yesterday when a persistent irritation of the left forearm led to investigation with unhappy results. However I was cheered to think that here at last was a chance for Aunt Margaret’s shirt. So I took the treatment thro’ all its stages, defended my cubicle with a “box barrage” of Keating’s cum sulphur and retired to roost in a whirl of asepso, brimstone and virtue – the first result was to get rid of the [illegible], who sniffing the Keatinged atmosphere, decided that “outside was good enough for him”. I was just dropping off to sleep when I found his place had been taken by a large rat who perched on the cigar box which had contained Aunt Margaret’s shirt, just above my head, was devouring the stump of a candle by which I had been reading a few pages of The Lost Tribes.

From that moment I got no peace – encouraged by the comfortable warmth of my bed the little centipedes attacked in force at all points – but the Asepso – Keating’s – sulphur – Aunt Margaret’s shirt was too strong a defence, and baffled and exhausted they fell back upoj their original line, there to hold a concert of war. Apparently the result was a decision to evacuate – anyway my person seemed for the next hour or two to be reckoned a sort of tram centre. However the evacuation completed I slept until, awakened to receive a very late or very early post. Previously I glanced thro’ the various papers until I got to orders – nothing on the front page; turned over and there staring me in the face I read – 1345 – The Louse Problem on the Western Front. With a yell I hurled the hudget at the orderly and retired beneath the blankets there to solve the problem from the sure defence of Aunt Margaret’s shirt.

This and the rat problem are all about [sic] we have to worry about – the rat problem I shall solve with an air pistol I am going to get.

[Censored]

I’m as glad to get all your letters and parcels – the letters are often my only contact with home, and they are so refreshing in these monotonous surroundings.

[Censored]
Sorry this is such a verminous monograph.

My dear love to JMI.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/5/37-41)