Reading School’s contribution to the war

A complete listing of Reading School’s alumni who had served in the war.

OLD BOYS SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES.

This list has been compiled from information received up to December 14th, 1918; corrections and additions will be welcomed and should be addressed to: – R. Newport, Esq., Reading School, Reading.

Allnatt, Rifleman N.R. — London Rifle Brigade.
(killed in Action).
Ambrose, 2nd Lieut. L.C. — S.L.I.
Anderson, Pte. L.G. — Can. Exp. Force
Appelbee, 2nd Lieut. T. — 13TH West Yorks.
(Killed in Action).
Atkinson, Lieut. E.G. — Indian Army
Atkinson, Capt. G.P. — 6TH Royal North Lancs.
Atkinson, 2nd Lieut. J.C. — R.A.F.
Aust, 2nd Lieut. H.E. — Yorkshire Regt.
(Twice Wounded).
(Killed in Action).
Aveline, Lieut. A.P. — Royal Berks Regt,
(Wounded).
(Military Cross).
Baker, 2nd Lieut. A.C.S. — R.G.A.
Baker, Rifleman A.E. — London Irish Rifles.
(Wounded).
Baker, Rifleman R.S. — London Irish Rifles.
(Wounded).
Baker, Lieut. T.H. — 8TH Royal Berks Regt.
(Wounded)
Balding, Capt. C.D. — Indian Army.
Banks, Pte. W.R. — Public School Corps.
(Killed in Action).
Bardsley, Capt. R.C — Manchester Regt.
(Wounded).
Barnard, F.P. —
Barroby, Trooper. F. — Strathcona Horse.
Barry, Capt. L.E. — R.A.F.
Baseden, Lieut. E. — Royal Berks Regt.
(Killed in Action).
Baseden, 2nd Lieut. M.W. — R.A.F.
Batchelor, Lieut. A.S. — Duke of Cornwall’s L.I.
Bateman, Capt. W.V. — Royal Munster Fusiliers.
Bayley, 2nd Lieut. F. — Chinese Labour Battalion.
Beckingsale, Pte. R.S. — Canadian Contingent.
Beckingsale, Capt. R.T. — Tank Corps (Military Cross).
(Wounded).

Belsten, E.K. — R.A.F.
Biddulph, 2nd Lieut. R.H.H. — Royal Berks Regt.
(Died of Wounds).
Bidmead, Pte. — Wilts regt.
Black, Pte. F. — Public School Corps.
(Killed in Action).
Blazey, A.E.H. — R.A.F.
Blazey, 2nd Lieut. J.W. — Royal Berks Regt
(killed in Action).
Bleck, Lieut. W.E. — R.F.A.
Bliss, 2nd Lieut. A.J. — Leinster Regt.
(Killed in Action).
Bliss, Pte. W. — 2ND Batt.Hon.Art.Coy. (more…)

Miserable digs – but song and dance by the keenest soldier enlivens life

Percy tells his sister some of the lighter side of army life.

St Albans
Oct. 22.14

My dear Florrie

… Last night I learned that Dean Bleaken does not arrive until the 28th. By then I should have commenced my training, and have more regular hours than at present, which will enable me I hope to use Mr Image’s introduction. It will be rather funny if I meet our Brigade Major there. His name is Capt. Shenton of the Somerset Light Infantry. A fine fellow with a most musical voice. He is apparently a great friend of Canon Glossop here, so it is quite possible that I may therefore meet my Brigade Major outside the office later on.

I expect to change my billet on Saturday (of this I will give you prompt notice) as the condition of affairs where I am is too miserable and hopeless for words, so do not write to me at the above address after you receive this until I write again.

Every other night I am sleeping at the Brigade office, so that, in the event of a night alarm there will be an intelligent fellow here to get the Brigade together!!

There are all sorts of rumours as to our next move, but I really don’t think anyone knows what is going to happen to us. Probably it will depend upon how the war goes, and if it goes favourably, I don’t suppose we shall see foreign soil this side of Christmas.

I dare say you know, the men of this Brigade belong to the lower classes of South London. There is a sprinkling of swells and decent fellows, but mainly they are rough – very rough.

One fellow, “Dave” is a hefty baker’s lad for whom I already have a great fondness. As Capt. Holliday says, no matter what you ask him to do, he’ll have a dart for it – he’s a kind of Horace, only much more boyish. If he hasn’t anything to do, he’ll find a job. Today I found him voluntarily scrubbing the doors and paint generally, just to pass the time away, pausing now and then to execute a vigorous sand dance to the music hall ditty he was singing in the real Bermondsey style.

Now I am just off to try and fix up my new diggings, so I’ll say good night.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to his siter Florence (D/EZ177/7/3/13-14)

A child’s house of cards in ruins

Maidenhead Congregational Church ponders the war, which seems to have come as something of a shock to them, and remembers its own young men who have joined up:

THE WAR.

To most of us the war came as an immense surprise. We thought war between the great nations, the civilized, not to say the Christian, nations, was at an end for ever. We heard with irritation and impatience the many prophecies that war was bound to come, thinking them nothing but stupid cries of “wolf”. We believed that Christian teaching and the influence of the Churches in England and Germany had built up an edifice of trust and good feeling, which made the talk of possible war nothing but a monstrous absurdity. But alas! That edifice at a touch tumbled into ruins like a child’s house of cards, and we were plunged into the most tremendous war in all history!

At the directors meeting of the London Missionary Society on Tuesday last a latter was read from the directors of a Missionary Society in Germany, comprising no doubt as sincere and godly a band of men as any in that country, which spoke of Germany’s passionate desire that peace should not have been broken, and of the wicked conspiracies of Germany’s enemies, which had forced war upon her! To us the case seems not a little different. Surely we are under no delusion in saying that there was nothing our statesmen would not have done to maintain peace, short of treachery to honour and pledged word! But there was a point beyond which it was not possible to go. “The whole value and beauty of life is that it holds treasures for which men will even dare to die!”

Let us never cease to pray that God will defend the right, and bring victory to our arms. And may it not be, that even by means of the thunder of monstrous guns, and the clash of ten millions of armed men, shall come a truer knowledge of the unspeakable blessings of peace, a new upspringing of the spirit of true brotherhood, a more earnest turning of the hearts of men to Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of all mankind, and the Prince of Peace.

 
(more…)

Too soft a time in St Albans

Percy Spencer reports the latest on his situation to John Maxwell Image, a Cambridge don who was a close friend of the family.


Kildare
Hart Road
St Albans
Oct. 5, 1914

Dear Mr Image

Thank you so much for your letter.

I am having a very soft time here at present – too soft altogether, but if I am allowed to remain, I have been promised that ample opportunity will be given to me to do my training and musketry.
Unfortunately the GOC Salisbury District has refused to confirm my transfer, and I am supposed to return to Bristol.

Captain Holliday is most anxious to retain me; in fact he has made such representations to me that I feel bound to stay with him if it is at all possible.

All day long we have been deep in the “Army Act”, “Manual of Military Law”, “Royal Warrants” etc, until I am beginning to think in sections and sub-sections.

The result of our researches is not at all promising, but I am tonight making an application for a discharge for the purpose of re-enlistment. It is very doubtful indeed that I shall get a discharge either by “indulgence” or by payment, and failing these, it is intended to apply for my attachment to the 22nd C of London Battalion, 6th London Infantry Brigade. Failing all these expedients, I shall have to return to Bristol. But in that case, I think I shall be able to transfer to the Bristol Battalion of my regiment, which is composed of Bristol professional and business men – anyway I shall try.

The impression here is that the Territorials will see more service than Kitchener’s Vagabonds, and certainly they should do, as they are practically equipped, and their training is well advanced. But I feel there is an afternoon feeling about the men here which was absent from my mob.

Of course if the City Battalions or the Public School Corps had been known to me, or had commenced recruiting at the time I joined the army, I should have been enlisted in their ranks. But we were informed that a good class of man was enlisting in Kitchener’s Own – I hope the recruiters will prove correct.

Thank you for the introduction to the Dean of St Albans. I hope to use it, but now my freedom may be terminated by a Corporal and file from Bristol, I suppose.

I’m very much in love with St Albans already. There seems to be all sorts of nooks and corners I should love to explore, so I hope to stay. But with the Cathedral I am rather disappointed. I like the exterior from the west end immensely, but the interior I found rather commonplace.

Yours affectionately
Percy Spencer

Letter from Percy Spencer to John Maxwell Image (D/EZ177/7/10/7-8)

Very different from Kitchener’s Army

At last, Percy Spencer secured his transfer to a territorial unit at St Albans, working for his peacetime boss. Or had he?…

In a letter to his sister Florence, Percy reported the good news:

Kildare
Hart Road
St Albans
Oct 2.14

My dear Florrie

You’ll be glad to hear that, if we go to the front, I should probably be with the staff at headquarters, well away from serious danger.

Soldiering here is very different to that of Kitchener’s Army, but I hope to do some of the rush [sic] and tumble work shortly. This office job exclusively is getting on my nerves. I’ll feel in sorts at all directly, if I don’t do my training and musketry course.

Yours ever
Percy

But it wasn’t the end of the story, as this menacing letter reveals:

The OC Depot
Gloucestershire Regiment
Bristol

In reference to the attached correspondence, I am directed to inform you that this transfer cannot be sanctioned.

Clerks are urgently needed in the Regular Army, and the services of Pte P J Spencer in that capacity can be fully utilized in his present Corps if he so desires.

G Hill
Staff Capt
Salisbury
2nd Oct 1914

[On the reverse page is the following note:]

The Officer Commanding
6th London Infantry Brigade

Please see decision of Headquarters Southern Command … and arrange for the return of Pte Spencer accordingly. Please return this correspondence.

C L Barnes, Lt Col
Commanding Depot Gloucesterhire Regiment
Bristol
3/10/14

Letter from Percy Spencer of Cookham to his sister Florence (D/EZ177/7/3/9) and letter demanding his return (D/EZ177/12/7/14)

Problems with an ‘old buffer’ of a clerk in the Orderly Room

Percy Spencer was still desperately trying to organise his transfer from Kitchener’s Army to work with his old boss in a territorial unit, and being stymied by army bureaucracy, as today’s letters reveal:

Pte Spencer, No:-11814
The Gloucester Regiment
YMCA Tent
Horfield Camp
Bristol
Sep. 21.14
Staff Captain R J Holliday
Dear Sir
I was very glad to get your wire today, and again thank you for all the trouble you are taking in the matter.

I had not made an application in writing, as I was quite unable to obtain a form for the purpose. The officers are all very sympathetic, but once in the Orderly Room they seem to curl up before some old buffer of a clerk there and merely repeat his assurance that nothing can be done.

So today I have myself written a formal application to Lt. Col. C J Baines, who is in command of the depot here – the GOC so far as I can ascertain is a General Knox, and if that is the man you want to get hold of, I’ll try and get his full name and address.

I will remain here as long as I can, or until you advise me that you can do nothing further, and in the meantime I’ll try to push matters at my end.

Yours faithfully
Percy J Spencer
(more…)

“One poor fool has cut his throat” – difficult conditions for the recruits

No sooner had he joined the army than Percy Spencer began to have second thoughts. Conditions at the camp he was assigned to were dreadful, with one suicide. His former boss, Reginald Holliday, had a staff post in the Territorial Army, and was keen for Percy to join him. But would this be possible faced with army bureaucracy? A lengthy struggle kicked off with this letter.

No. 3 Company
Gloucester Regiment
YMCA Tent
Horfield Barracks
Bristol
Sep. 13, 14

Dear Sir

Thank you so much for your letter – I’m very glad you think I’ve done the right thing.

I should like nothing better than to be with you in this business, so if you think I should be useful to you, I shall be more than glad if you can arrange a transfer as you are good enough to suggest.
I sincerely hope you will be able to do this, but in fairness to you, must point out that I am the rawest of recruits – a four days soldier, without uniform or kit. Moreover we have all been badly mauled by some OTC youngsters here.

But you will know whether I should be up to the work you require me to do, and, needless to say, I would do my utmost not to disappoint you, sir.

Today I have been transferred to No. 3 Company, and believe I shall get my number tomorrow when it is rumoured that we are to go to Tidworth, Aldershot or Woolwich. If we are moved, I will advise you at once.

Conditions are very bad here, and men are sneaking off, and one poor fool has cut his throat. But the camp is well situated in glorious country, and the staff here are undoubtedly doing their utmost to deal with an unprecedented situation.

Yours faithfully
Percy J Spencer
To –
Staff Captain R J Holliday
6th London Infantry Brigade

Letter from Percy Spencer to Captain Holliday (D/EZ177/7/12/1)