Mentioned in the Gazette again

News of Burghfield men.

THE WAR

Honour
Lt-Col. H A Anderson, CMG, RAMC, again mentioned (Gazette of 3rd Sept.)

Casualties

W H Lay (Sapper RE), killed in action, August, 1918; Sidney Keep (1st Royal Berks), wounded, August, 1918.

Discharge
J S Rance (Royal Navy, HMS Rocket), 11th July, 1918, neurasthenia.

Burghfield parish magazine, October 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Efficiency and gallantry

A Burghfield doctor was commended for his contributions.

Honours and promotions

2nd Lieut. F Wheeler (King’s Liverpool Regiment), before being taken prisoner (see last month’s magazine) won 1st Prize Bayonet Fighting (Officers) in the First Army Corps; Sergeant E Cooke (Royal West Surrey Regiment) to be Sergeant Instructor, April 1918.

Casualties

2nd Lieut. T Warner (RAF), flying accident, Salisbury Plain; Private Stretcher-bearer Albert Painter (Royal Berks Regiment), missing since 21st March, now reported died. Company Sergeant Major Albert Manners (17th Lancers) died 10th July in hospital (gastric complaint). Sergeant Manners served through the South African War, and through the present war. Private T Searies (Royal Berks Regiment), wounded (doing well).

Discharge

Private Frank J Cooke (Worcester Regiment), 24th July (heart).

Lt-Col. Anderson

Lt-Col. H S Anderson, RAMC, who is the brother of Mr W C F Anderson of Hermit’s Hill, and who is himself on the Burghfield Electoral Register, was in the New Year’s list of honours, and received the CMG. His name also appeared in the Gazette of February 8th among those who had been “brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War by the Army Council, for very valuable services rendered in connection with the war, up to 31st December 1917”.

HRH the Duke of Connaught, on his visit to the Citadel, Cairo, invested him with the Order at the Hospital which is under his charge. Among such services may particularly be mentioned those in connection with the “Britannic”. Col. Anderson was in command of all the medical staff and hospital arrangement of the huge vessel during several voyages out and home, with marked efficiency, and was on board when she was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Greece. For his gallantry and conduct on this occasion he received especial thanks and mention.

Burghfield parish magazine, August 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Personal bravery and an altogether remarkable appreciation of very difficult and intricate situations

25 year old Mervyn Phippen Pugh (1893-1961) of Reading was both brave and highly able as an officer. He had already received the Military Cross for heroics on the Somme.

CAPTAIN M. P. PUGH, M.C., D.S.O.

We congratulate warmly Captain Pugh and his parents on the distinction recorded in the following extract from the ‘Gazette’:-

The Distinguished Service Order has been awarded to CAPT. M. P. PUGH, M.C., 1ST ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT,

For most conspicuous gallantry, able leadership, and resource at Manancourt on March 23rd, 1918, at Rocquigny on the same day, at Gueudecourt on March 24th, and at Auchonvillers on the 26th. His Commanding Officer was killed on the 23rd and he at once assumed command of the Battalion, without any previous experience of handling large bodies of Troops.

By his own personal bravery and an altogether remarkable appreciation of very difficult and intricate situations, he withdrew the Regiment from position to position, always keeping it intact and ready for further fighting.

On the night of 26/27th March, when the Battalion was relieved, he organized personally the four companies, nearly all the officers having become casualties.

The determination and qualities of leadership shown by the officer were beyond praise, and undoubtedly saved the Battalion on four separate and distinct occasions.

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

“His splendid bravery inspired all troops in the vicinity to rise for the occasion”

An experienced officer who in peacetime had worked managing a Wargrave estate was one of the few to be honoured with the Victoria Cross for his great courage. Oliver Spencer Watson (1876-1918) is buried in France.

The Late Lieut.-Col. O. C. Spencer Watson, V.C.

A supplement to the “London Gazette” of May 8th gave the following particulars respecting the award of the V.C. to Lieut.-Col. O. C. Spencer Watson, D.S.O. (Reserve of Officers), late King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry:

“For most conspicuous bravery, self-sacrificing devotion to duty during a critical period of operations. His command was at a point where continual attacks were made by the enemy in order to pierce the line, and an intricate system of old trenches in front, coupled with the fact that his position was under constant rifle and machine gun fire, rendered the situation more dangerous. A counter attack had been made against the enemy position, which at first achieved its object, but as they were holding out in two impoverished points Lieut.-Col. Watson saw that immediate action was necessary, and he let his remaining small reserve to the attack, organising bombing parties and leading attacks under intense rifle and machine gun fire.

Outnumbered, he finally ordered his men to retire, remaining himself in a communication trench to cover the retirement, though he faced almost certain death by so doing. The assault he led was at a critical moment, and without doubt saved the line. Both in the assault and in covering his men’s retirement he held his life as nothing, and his splendid bravery inspired all troops in the vicinity to rise for the occasion and save a breach being made in a hardly tried and attenuated line. Lieut.-Col. Watson was killed while covering the withdrawal.”

“The Times” of May 11th gave the following particulars, respecting Lieut.-Col. Watson: –

He was the youngest son of the late W. Spencer Watson, F.R.C.S., and was educated at St Paul’s and passed into the Army from Sandhurst, being gazetted to the Yorks Light Infantry in 1897. He was invalided in 1904, after taking part in the Tirah campaign 1897-1898, in which he was dangerously wounded, and in the China campaign of 1900, receiving the medal for each of these campaigns, in the first case with two clasps.

In 1910 he joined a Yeomanry regiment, and on the outbreak of war went with them to Egypt as captain and took part in the fighting on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Promoted major, he came home to join a battalion of the Y.O.Y.L.I., going with them to France early in 1917. In May of that year he was dangerously wounded at Bullecourt, and received D.S.O. for gallantry and leadership.

He returned to the front last January, although he had not recovered from the effect of his wound; was shortly afterwards promoted lieut-colonel, and was killed in action on March 28th. Lieut-Colonel Watson was a keen sportsman, and was known locally as a good cricketer, boatman, and footballer, as well as a straight rider to hounds. Up to the time that he joined the forces in the present conflict he had been the estate agent to Sir Charles Henry, Bart., M.P., at Parkwood, and managed the Farm at Crazies Hill.

Wargrave parish magazine, June 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

Some comfort in memories so full of sadness

A Sulhamstead family who had lost their son were invited to take pride in his heroism.

THE WAR

Mr and Mrs Leake have received the following letter from the War Office. It is indeed to be hoped that the gratifying appreciation of the services of Captain G E A Leake, DSO, may be of some comfort in memories so full of sadness:

“I have it in command from His Majesty the King to inform you, as next of kin of the late Second Lieutenant (Acting Captain) George Ernest Arthur Leake, DSO, of the London Regiment, that this Officer was mentioned in a Despatch from Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, dated 7th November, 1917, and published in the third supplement to the ‘London Gazette’ of the 21st, dated 24th December, 1917, for gallant and distinguished service in the Field.

I am to express to you the King’s high appreciation of these services, and to add that His Majesty trusts that their public acknowledgement may be of some consolation in your bereavement.

[To]
G Leake, Esq.,
Sulhamstead

Sulhamstead parish magazine, March 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Helping the wounded under fire

Former Reading vicar and army chaplain T Guy Rogers had been awarded a medal for his brave conduct helping the wounded on the field. The November issue of the Reading St John parish magazine announced the exciting news:

THE REV. T. GUY ROGERS, M.C.

We were delighted to have our representative at the front with us for two Sundays and a splendid Meeting in the Institute. Now we have all been cheered by the grand news that he has been awarded the Military Cross for gallant conduct in the field. We shall thank God for the way he has preserved and used our dear friend, and shall continue to pray for him and his work now he is back at the front again.

More details emerged the following month:

REV. T. GUY ROGERS.

The London Gazette for November 16th, under the heading ‘Military Cross,’ gave the following account of how Mr. Rogers won his decoration:-

‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in action. He worked ceaselessly all night under fire, tending and carrying in the wounded. On another occasion he has done similar fine work under heavy fire.’

Mr. Rogers has since accepted the living of All Saints, West Ham, a large parish in the new Diocese of Chelmsford, and enters upon this charge in January. His many friends in Reading will wish him much success and blessing in this work.

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

A tremendous excitement: acting as company commander

Sydney Spencer wrote to his sister to tell her that he and his close friend expected a transfer to the Front in the near future.

12 Angel Hill
Bury St Edmunds
Jan 12th 1916
My Darling Florence

Loughton and I are simply being worked off our legs. We have to give lectures to the whole brigade of officers, & colonels & staff officers & the Brigadier etc are present to hear our lectures! The Brigadier turned my head dizzy with his public compliments upon my lectures. I only tell you this because I know how you like to hear of the little conquests of your brer Sydney.

Also (now that I have the chance to give you news in brief) I was made & posted company commander of “A” company for a whole week! Of course I have often taken a company for a morning or for a day, but it was a tremendous excitement, & a great experience to hold the reins of government on my own orderly room, & to see into the puzzling details of company work. You would scarcely believe all the hundred & one little details of work of all sorts that have to be seen into & remembered. Then Loughton & I have had the whole battalion on our hands to instruct in Trench warfare & that has meant incessant work & scheming.

Also Loughton & I are Librarians to the battalion & have to spend hours working to get the library in order. Also I am on an entertainment committee for the soldiers to get up brigade concerts etc. so you can see what a lot of time I have at present for writing even the shortest of letters to so sweet a sister as you are.

And now very much sotto voce & in your ears – that is yours & Mr I – the most exciting bit of news of all. Loughton’s & my names have been sent up for promotion now that we have got our transfers through. So watch the Gazette and perhaps one of these days – ! Well perhaps you will see something interesting. Only Bertie Lamb [another friend] knows this. No one at home must know it till it comes though. I fear a few men here who have been up longer than we have may not altogether like it, so we are not saying a word of it & Loughton & I & one other man the only ones who have the least idea of it. I am so sorry that this is only a short note but I am bodily & mentally just weary & will sign myself

Your very affectionate Brother
Sydney

Letter from Sydney Spencer to his sister Florence Image (D/EZ177/8/2/7)

Death of the “Spirit of Ecstasy”

Sydney Spencer of Cookham was transferred to a new regiment, while in Bisham, Florence Vansittart Neale heard of a tragic attack on a civilian liner. The SS Persia was the first civilian vessel to be torpedoed without warning by an enemy submarine on 31 December 1915. 343 noncombatants were drowned, including Eleanor Thornton (1880-1915), the model for the Spirit of Ecstasy, the statuette which is on every Rolls Royce.

Sydney Spencer
Jan 3rd

By order 10. London Gazette. Following London Gazette of Ded 31st 1915 2/Lt H E Loughton & S Spencer transferred from 12R Warwick Regiment to Norfolk Regiment. They are taken on strength etc Jan 1st 1916.

Battalion order 15. appointments. 2/Lt Spencer is appointed in command A company until Lieut Jermyn returns from leave.

Florence Vansittart Neale
3 Jan 1916

“Persia” P & O Liner blown up near [Crete], over 100 drowned – no troops.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer (D/EX801/12) and Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Two more dear young lads have joined the honoured dead

Sad news came for two Cookham Dean families, while other men were still joining up.

At the time of writing two more lives of dear young lads have passed from the list of those on Active Service to the number of those of the Honoured Dead who have given their lives for their King and Country. Sidney John Godfrey, of the Royal Berks Regt., and Edward Garrett, of the Grenadier Guards. The death of the first has been officially notified in The Gazette, and the news of the latter, received at present only through private sources, is of too circumstantial a nature, alas, to leave any room for doubt as to the actual fact, All alike join in deep sympathy for the fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, in their hour of sorrow.

The Roll of Honour
The following promotions are announced:- Lieut. Brian Lawrence, of the Nth. Staff Regt., is now Captain in the 4th Yorkshire Light Infantry; Sec. Lieut. Randall E. Hunt, A.S.C., is now Lieutenant; Pte Cecil Edwards, of the 13th City of London Regiment, is now Sec. Lieut. In the 8th Middlesex; Frederick Woodbridge is made Lance Corporal.

William Fitchett has enlisted in the 43rd battalion RFA; Alfred Tomlin and William Tomlin have joined the AOD; and Frederick Piercey (making the sixth of his family) has enlisted in the Royal Berks Regt. Lce Corporal Frederick Woodbridge has been badly wounded; Ernest Blinko and Charles Druce have each been wounded a second time; while as mentioned above Sidney John Godfrey and Edward Garrett were killed in action on Sept. 25th and on Oct. 17th respectively.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, November 1915 (D/P43B/28A/31)