“This sense of freedom, this new opportunity, this cleaner world, has been purchased for us at the cost of life”

Jerusalem was sung at the dedication of the war memorial in Maidenhead Congregational (now United Reformed) Church.

November 1919
THE WAR MEMORIAL.

On Sunday evening, Nov. 2nd, a Special Service will be held at 6.30 in grateful and reverent memory of our young men who gave their lives in the Great War. The tablet will be unveiled by Mr. Lewis, who will also preach a sermon suitable to the occasion. We hope to see present every member of the Church and Congregation who is not unavoidably prevented.

December 1919
THE MEMORIAL BRASS.

The Brass Tablet erected to the memory of our young men who fell in the Great War was formally unveiled at the Sunday Evening Service, Nov. 2nd. There was a large congregation. The Minister was supported on the rostrum by the Deacons of the Church. The anthem was, “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again,” and the choir sang as a voluntary, Parry’s setting of Blake’s inspiring verses, which declare –

“We will not cease from mental strife,
Nor shall the sword sleep in our hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England’s green and pleasant land.”

Mr. Lewis took for his text, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He said that the cause for which our young friends had laid down their lives was great and worthy, and concluded,

“Let us remember that we are those for whom lives have been laid down. This sense of freedom, this new opportunity, this cleaner world, has been purchased for us at the cost of life. That we might live our lives safely, without being tyrannized over by coarse and godless men, free to develop our own life in the way that seems highest to us, men have suffered and died. Now all life must be more sacred to us. This dear England must be more sacred. It is because Christ has been denied the right to control the life of the nations that the great sorrows yet will come (for there are evils infinitely greater than war and death), if we will not strive to set right the life of the land, according to His mind and will. We don’t belong to ourselves any more, for Christ bought us long ago, and we have been bought again by British soldiers for the service of our brother men. May we be worthy of all that has been done for us.”

The brass is a splendid piece of workmanship, and has been greatly admired. It was executed by a London firm, to the order of Mr Hews.


Maidenhead Congregational magazine, November and December 1919 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Released from an aliens internment camp

An Abingdon man of foreign extraction was released from internment.

29th September 1919

The following letters were read and ordered to be filed for future reference namely:-

4. From the Prisoners of War Information Bureau London, notifying that William Henry Ernest Meyer had been released from an aliens internment camp.

Minutes of Abingdon Board of Guardians (G/A1/33)

Not money enough to pay the wages the strikers expect

The Vansittart Neales’ baby grandson was invited down to Bisham. He came down with his Nannie the next day. The strike ended on 5 October.

27 September 1919

Awful strike begun. All trains stopped. Hear Jo. Kelly to send destroyers to Ireland for [illegible].

They have made preparations, but expect petrol & perhaps [Shaw?] to be commandeered. Hear milk supply in London may be irregular so settled with P[aget]s to send for baby Sunday by car…

Expect strike to last some weeks. The country have not money enough to pay the wages they expect.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

A very memorable occcasion

Cookham Dean soldiers were entertained on their return home.

Lack of space prevents an attempt even at an adequate account of the Supper to our demobilised Soldiers and Sailors, presided over by Sir R. M. Beachcroft, in the Drill Hall, On Sept 27, Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, and the friends that helped them, cannot be too highly congratulated on the excellent taste shewn in the arrangement of the room and of the tables, nor on the beneficent fare provided for the Supper. From first to last the whole proceedings, under the guiding eye of Mr. Edwards, ably backed up by his committee, passed off most satisfactorily.

The Concert, kindly arranged by Messrs. Carr and Kiff, gave the greatest pleasure, and the thanks of all are due not only to the Artistes, but also to Capt. Campbell, who himself went to London in his motor to fetch those who had been prevented from coming by the stoppage of the trains. Each guest received a dainty little programme of the evening, which will doubtless be preserved by many as a pleasant reminder of a very memorable occasion.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, October 1919 (D/P43B/28A/11)

Peace Decorations in the Mall

Boys from Slough witnessed an important Act of Parliament being passed.

September 2nd 1919

On Thursday August 31st the boys of the Gardening Class were taken to London. The trip included a visit to the zoo, a visit to the British Museum to see the illuminated manuscripts and historical autographs, the Peace Decorations in the Mall, and the House of Commons. One and a half hours were spent in the Gallery listening to a debate on Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Pensions. By good luck Black Rod came and called the Commons to the House of Lords for the Royal Assent to the Bill.

Stoke Road School, Slough: log book (89/SCH/28/1)

Any selfishness of any class must stand in the way of real peace and happiness at home

The vicar of Newbury urged a generous spirit in rebuilding national life, and thought servicemen should have first call on all jobs.

The long hoped for signing of the Peace Treaty has taken place, and the Nation has joined together in humble and hearty thanksgiving to Almighty God for His great and undeserved mercies. It is impossible to imagine from what horrors we have been saved by His goodness, and through the willing sacrifice of so many of our splendid men, and the courage and energy of millions, both men and women. If the terms imposed by the Allies on Germany seem hard they would have been nothing to the terms they would have imposed on us if they had won, and for generations our Country would not have recovered, if ever it did recover. Thanks be to God for His mercy to us.

And now we have to reconstruct our National Life. That is no easy task, and it calls for the spirit of willing co-operation and sacrifice from all classes. Any selfishness of any class must stand in the way of real peace and happiness at home. It is the duty surely of employers to give returned soldiers and sailors the first chance of employment, even if it means displacing someone else, and those who have fought and endured should have no just cause for grievances. The Government will have to put down profiteering with a strong hand, and should also severely punish the professional agitator and “him that stirreth up strife among brethren”. While all of us should do our best to spread the spirit of love and service. God has been gracious to us and now it is for us to prove ourselves worthy of His favour.

Sunday, July 6th, was observed as a day of Thanksgiving for Peace, and the services were well attended. The Municipal and National rejoicings took place on July 19th. There was unfortunately a lot of rain, and the children’s tea had to take place in different buildings instead of all together on the Cricket Field. The Procession in London must have been a magnificent sight.

The War Memorial Committee have had two meetings lately, the first with Mr C O Skilbeck to advise them, and the second with Mr Cogswell for the same purpose. They hope soon to have a design from the latter to put before the congregation and parishioners.

Newbury parish magazine, August 1919 (D/P89/28A/14)

The procession of July 19th had a unique significance at once more glorious and more tragic than any that has taken place in the long annals of our country

There were celebrations in Windsor.

The month just passed will be noted in the annals of our National History for the public celebrations in thankfulness for the Peace which has now been declared. Saturday, July 19th was appointed as a universal holiday and both in London and in many of the provincial cities pageants were arranged and carried out in a worthy manner. The London pageant was of course the focus of all other celebrations and was carried out with great magnificence. The march of the troops through the main streets, in which all the regiments who had taken part in the war were represented including those of our French Allies, headed by Marshal Foch, must have been a never-to-be-forgotten sight to all who were fortunate enough to see it. Some of us are old enough to remember the Victoria Jubilee processions in 1887 and 1897. Then there was great rejoicing and great magnificence, but the procession of July 19th had a unique significance at once more glorious and more tragic than any that has taken place in the long annals of our country. It represented a triumph which has been won by a whole nation’s sacrifice and heroism. May we be truly thankful for so great a deliverance and more than ever united in the service of God and our country; for thus only can we gather in the Blessings of Peace.

The Windsor celebration consisted of a march of the demobilized soldiers and those of the garrison together numbering about 2,000, together with contingents of lady workers, boy and girl scouts and others who had taken part in home work. Besides this procession there were river fetes, aquatic sports, a torch light procession, a bonfire and illuminations. Notwithstanding the slight rain which set in about mid-day, nothing daunted the enthusiasm of the sightseers, who paraded the streets till the late hours of the night.

Clewer parish magazine, August 1919 (D/P39/28A/9)

Peace day festivities everywhere

Our diarists enjoyed the peace festivities despite poor weather.

Florence Vansittart Neale
19 July 1919

Gloomy looking morning. Rain about 12. Peace day. Festivities all over England. Grand procession of all troops. Navy & Army, [illegible], Air & WAACs & Wrens! through London. Pagets got seats [at] Admiralty. H, Edith & I to Bisham. Dinner in schools – very pretty. E & I lunch vicarage. Games & sports in Warren. Dinner to returned soldiers (49) – tea & sports for whole village. Everyone enjoyed it. Tea in schools & dancing after till 10.30. We went home after giving prizes.

[and at back of book:]

Peace day festivities everywhere. Big procession soldiers & sailors in London. In Bisham dinner for rehomed soldiers. Tea & sports for everyone. Dancing in evening. Had some rain but not bad! Meals & dancing in schools. Pagets got seats Admiralty from Mr Baddeley.

William Hallam
19th July 1919

I suppose I was tired out this week end for I didn’t wake till 10 past 8. Up, and got breakfast: Marjorie had to take her class of school children to the Theatre to the cinema part of their treat…

This afternoon it came on to rain but we all went round the town. It was the best show of decorations I’ve ever seen but the rain spoilt so much of it. A lot of people had decorated their fronts up with Chinese Lanterns to light at night and of course these were spoilt as it turned out a very wet night.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9); and William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

Extra relief for poor in peace celebrations

15th July, 1919
Peace Celebrations

Letters from the undermentioned Unions read in reference to granting extra Relief to persons in this Union, chargeable to those Unions, during the week ending the 19th instant in respect of Peace Celebrations, and it was resolved to instruct the Relieving Officers to grant extra relief as follows:

Billericay Union – Adults 4/- and Children 2/-
Parish of St Giles, Camberwell – Adults 3/- and Children 1/6
Westhampnett Union – Adults 2/6 and Children 2/-
Eton Union – Adults 4/- and Children 2/-
Parish of Lambeth – Adults 4/- and Children 2/-
Brentford Union – no extra relief
Guildford Union – Adults 4/- and Children 2/-

Letter from St Elizabeth’s Home, Midhurst, read asking if the Guardians will allow a sum of money towards the cost of Peace Celebrations at that Home in respect of Elizabeth M Shaw.
Resolved that the Superintendent be asked to treat E M Shaw in the same manner as the other Children of the Home.

Windsor Board of Guardians minutes (G/WI1/26)

“Lottie’s husband turned up from Germany, & she had to leave the kitchen!!”

Presumably Lottie was the cook at Bisham Abbey.

6 June 1919

I went up early for memorial service for Dick at St Martin’s. Very lovely service…

Heard Lottie’s husband turned up from Germany, & she had to leave the kitchen!!

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Sick at the thought of how we are being let down at Versailles today!

John Maxwell Image was not optimistic about the future. His wounded brother in law was our friend Percy Spencer.

29 Barton Road
7 May ‘19

My dearest old man

Florence … wants to see her wounded brother who is still at St Thomas’s Hospital, poor fellow.

I feel sick at the thought of how we are being let down at Versailles today! Especially at the ingratitude of Belgium, and of Italy – the latter I have heard vigorously defended here. But Belgium!

And the Agitators in Britain!

And Shinn [sic] Fein impudence!

What a future lies before every one in England except the moneygrubber and the Profiteer and their lickspittles.


Tuissimus
Bild

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

War was always unspeakably dreadful

A pupil at St Barthomolomew’s School imagined a future where war was unknown. It may be a creative writing exercise, but it shows the effect the war had on young people’s views of the world.

WAR.

Scene ——————– A room in a house
Time ——————— 2000 A.D.
Dramatis Personae — One sister, one small brother.

Small brother. Sissy, what does war mean? I read it in a book, something about the termination of war or something.

Sister. War, dear child, is the settlement of national quarrels by fighting.

When two or more nations had a quarrel, they used to fight each other till so many people on one side got killed or driven back, that they had to give in.

Sometimes nations just made war for greed because they thought they were stronger than their opponents, indeed this was nearly always the case.

Small brother. Please, what’s reponents?

Sister. Opponents, I said, it means enemies.

Small brother. O yes, I understand enemies; please sissy, why didn’t you say enemies if you meant enemies?

Sister. When you’re a little older, you’ll understand perhaps, but don’t fidget or I shall have to send you upstairs.

Small brother. Go on about war, sissy.

Sister. In the beginning war wasn’t quite so bad, although morally, of course, it was always unspeakably dreadful.

People used to fight hand to hand, and kill each other from quite near, with spears, long steel spikes and other weapons, then later, they shot with bows and arrows, you’ve heard of bows and arrows.

Well, everybody regarded it as a sort of game, with definite rules, particularly we English, who were always slow and stupid.

Small brother. Sissy!!

Sister.
Now don’t interrupt.

Well, people liked fighting very much really, or at any rate some did, they used to put on expensive armour and ride about on beautiful horses, and when there wasn’t a war, they went about saving fair maidens out of enchanted castles, and it was all very nice.

Everything went well, because all the countries used the same weapons, and fought in the same way, but gradually men began to invent more deadly weapons, and some of the countries invented the before their enemies knew anything about it, so of course they said it wasn’t fair and were very cross, and lots of them got killed.

Guns were invented, and other dreadful things, and people fought from a long way off. Nearly everybody fought, and they still had rules like in a game.

Things got worse and worse till the last war, that was about 1914, and then thousands of people got killed, and it was all like a very bad nightmare, men, women and children got killed and aeroplanes dropped bombs about in the town and no one was safe anywhere. After everybody had spent most of their money on the war and lost most of their sons, and had some of their houses knocked down, they got very tired of it, but it had to be finished, because a very wicked country called Germany was threatening the peace of the whole world, not that the whole world really wanted peace, mind you, because they didn’t, but they liked to think they did, and anyhow, they hated the Germans very much, and not without cause.

However, the people who were running the war for England began to see that it wasn’t a game any longer, because they didn’t get enough to each and their sons being killed; so when Germany invented clever things to kill people quicker, which weren’t allowed by the rules, they invented cleverer ones back and said nothing about it, and in the papers the people read all about the wicked things Germany was doing and thought Germany dishonourable for disobeying the rules, and some people say that the English people who were working the war for the English broke the rules first, but this isn’t certain, and anyway, the Germans were a greedy and unscrupulous people, much worse than us, though we were far from perfect, and they were beaten.

And people began to sit down and think a bit, which wasn’t often done in those days, and they came to the conclusion that war wasn’t a game any longer, and that they had better prevent its happening again, so they got together a kind of jury and they called it the League of Nations.

They talked for over a year; some said there must be no more fighting of any kind, and others said that the nature of man couldn’t exist without fighting, so they talked and talked until at last they came to a decision.

They decided to go back to the bow and arrow method, because it looked so nice and wasn’t as dangerous as the other methods, only bows, arrows and armour, were to be used, and directly anybody was wounded he would count as dead, and directly a quarter of the fighters on one side were dead, the other side would have won, and in case of any contravention of the rules, the whole world would punish the offender very severely, and since no country could ever be stronger than all the rest put together, the idea seemed practical and sound.

Well the next fight after the real war was between France and America, it was brought about by a difference of opinion as to whether Paris or New York should lead the fashions in ladies’ hats. It was, of course, a difficult problem, and the League of Nations discussed it for three months, at the end of this time there was a terrible hat strike, and women had to go about bare headed and many of them caught colds and died.

At last the League decided that France and America must figure it out.

The battle was arranged in Hyde Park, London, 100 men from Paris and 100 men from New York were chosen, the battlefield was railed around and people had to pay £20 to watch. The proceeds went to the society for stray cats.

Just before the battle began an Englishman invented an impregnable armour, so he sold the secret for a million pounds to the Paris men, and then got another million from the New York men for telling them, too.

So the first day’s fighting killed no one, and broke a lot of arrows, also it rained hard and the people who had paid £20 to come and watch were very sick about it.

On the second day someone invented an arrow which could pierce the armour, and both sides got hold of the secret, but everyone got to know of it before the battle, so they all wore double armour and again no one got killed, and still it rained, and the fighters sank up to their ankles in mud, because their armour was so heavy, and at the end of the day their friends had to pull them out with ropes.

Now this sort of thing went on for six days; each day better arrows were invented and thicker armour was worn to shield off the arrows, and as a result no one was killed and hundreds of arrows were broken, and still it rained very hard, and all the people who watched got wet and angry, and many died of chills.

And each day, the fighters sank deeper in the mud, because the ground got softer and their armour got heavier.

At last, on the seventh day, which was a Sunday, the situation seemed impossible, because the armed men knew that they couldn’t even get within range of each other; directly they stepped into Hyde Park they would get stuck, and since the rule was that each side should start at opposite ends of the park, it seemed hopeless.

However, a clever Englishman came to the rescue; he constructed two great rafts, and on these the fighters were to row out to the selected spot.

On a given signal they were to step off their rafts and fight as usual.

It cleared up a bit that day and the sun came out, so that heaps of people came to watch in boats and the stray cat’s shares went up seventy-two points.

The Lord Mayor came specially to give the signal for fighting to start.

Directly he blew the whistle the fighters stepped off the rafts, it was calculated by an American that each man weighed seven hundred pounds, anyhow they were never seen again, they sank right down through the each till they reached the centre of gravity and there they presumably remained.

So the question was never settled and everybody bought their hats in London.

Since then there have been no wars.

K.P.L.

The Newburian (magazine of St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury), April 1919 (N/D161/1/9)

Strike menace stopped

Unrest eased at home, while the situation in defeated Hungary continued to worry the allies.

28 March 1919

Strike menace stopped. Railway & miners accept terms, also transport. Coal scarce in London.

Allied troops to go to Hungary.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Hopes of a settlement with strikers

22 March 1919

Johnson to Reading buying trousseau. Leaving us Monday. Married next week! & off to Canada!!…

Strike postponed till Wednesday. Hopes of a settlement.

March past of Guards in London. Old Sir George went up.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Americans versus police

There were riots in London too as postwar dissatisfaction grew among the troops.

10 March 1919
Riot in Strand. American soldiers & sailors v. Police! No deaths.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)