“A torpedo boat came gliding in like a needle”

William Hallam was on holiday in Cornwall, but couldn’t escape the war.

William Hallam
16th July 1918

It was wet until dinner time then cleared and was a beautiful day. We had crabs for tea. This afternoon I took that book – rather big for a guide and went round identifying some of the old houses. The quaintest town – the old part – I was ever in but clean even in the lowest streets.

On the pier to-night we saw 2 merchant vessels come in for safety from the submarines and 3 chasers and then a torpedo boat came gliding in like a needle.

Florence Vansittart Neale
16 July 1918

Phyllis quite happy at 4 London General!…

Tzar shot by Bolshevists at Ekaterinberg.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8) and William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

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“For nearly four years he and others of a sensitive and refined nature fought suffered, bore the rough and tumble hardships of a private soldier, without recognition, without reward or any other distinction than that of doing their duty”

One of the first Earley men to join up in 1914 died at the hands of the influenza epidemic.


In Memoriam

Frank Earley died of influenza in Italy, June 13 1918.

Our readers will remember that in the May magazine we offered our best wishes to Pte. Frank Earley on his return to Italy after a brief and well earned spell of leave. He is gone from us now, not to return. In his home in Manchester Road, by his brothers in France and Italy, and by many friends his loss will be felt.

Always serious from the time he joined the choir as a little boy, as the years went on he took things more seriously, his character taking shape. In August 1914 he was just 18 years of age, and volunteered at once with his brother for service. After six months training he crossed to France. For nearly four years he and others of a like sensitive and refined nature fought suffered, bore the rough and tumble hardships of a private soldier, without recognition, without reward or any other distinction than that of doing their duty.

In the first year of the War commissions were not sought as they are now. Volunteers in the ranks made up the little army which went out to save England. We who knew Frank Earley well can picture him at his post; we knew he never flinched from what was hard, never swerved from what was straight. Thoughtful, modest, resolute – he bore this look in his quiet, almost suffering face, with the strong lines playing about his mouth.

On his last leave he was home for two Sundays. His pleasure at the play on Saturday night did not prevent his presence at the early Celebration at 7.30 the following morning; and on the second Sunday he made his Communion again at the same hour. In Italy he quickly won the admiration of his nurses in the hospital during the brief interval before he laid down his tired life. So passes another of those English boys who at the first responded to England’s call, and by an unselfish devotion to duty have earned themselves an imperishable name.

Short notes

We have heard from our old friend and choir-boy Mr Harry C Taylor who has served at the front in the Guards since 1914. He is presently in hospital in London after a bad attack of influenza.

Earley St Bartholomew parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P192/28A/15)

“Don’t worry, she can’t speak English & I could never make love in French”

Percy Spencer was excited by his sister Florence’s getting a comic article published in Punch, and almost fell in love with a French girl.

July 14, 1918

My dear WF

Another week gone & here I am still at school & beginning to know something about musketry.

I’m very glad to hear Sydney is better again and delighted about the Punch article. Mind you send me a copy of the number.

This week I’ve been feeling very dicky myself. I think I had a touch of this strange fever, but a very slight one. Another officer here, I am sorry to say, has died with it.

Today I have been to a much bombed town near here for a holiday. There is quite a good officers’ club and one can generally meet old friends there and get a good dinner. It’s nice to sit in a pretty garden and receive tea from the fair hands of a wholesome English girl.

Today as you know is France’s National day. I went to the cathedral – which by the way has been rather badly bumped at the eastern end – and listened to a service. The singing was delightful, but it is difficult for me, much as I love the Roman Church’s seriousness, to refrain from smiling at their quaint beadles armed with swords and wearing mighty cocked hats, and at the endless collections.

Another good thing out here is the good nature of all motorists. One sets out to walk anywhere, hails the first car or bus or lorry, which always stops & takes you as far as it can. The other night a staff officer we coolly hailed drove us in here and offered to take us as afar as Paris if we liked. This however only applies as between Englishmen or as between French etc. but today I had quite a romantic experience.

Following the usual custom I stepped out to hail a car, but observing it was driven by a Frenchman, stepped back. However, it stopped & then to my pleasurable surprise I saw it was driven by a French GIRL. I’ve given her capitals as she was a capital girl. She wasn’t going very far my way but would give me a lift on my way. Well, the fair chauffeuse who was on her way to fetch the Prefect of the town we had just left melted, & when she got to her turning & I made to alight, she said she would drive me here and she did. After that we got very friendly and talked about London & the Thames, and she said that after the war she should come to London, and I said then I hoped we should meet again, whereupon she volunteered her address and I mine and neither of us could remember the other nor muster a pencil between us, so we pulled up at a cottage & borrowed one & some paper from an old lady who smiled approval at the beginning of a romance. And all the while the Prefect cooled his heels at some village down south!
I must be a lady killer after all!

Don’t worry, she can’t speak English & I could never make love in French, and Bordeaux (her home) is a long way.

Well, goodbye & God bless you both.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/53-55)

Naturalization to be overhauled

Sir George Cave, the Home Secretary introduced plans to revoke citizenship from some naturalised Britons.

12 July 1918

Read long debate about aliens. Sir G. Cave made speech. End up German banks – not open for some years after war. Naturalization to be overhauled….

Letter from Phyllis from 4 London General. Thinks she will like it.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

A right royal time buying stuff for mess

It was a red letter day for Sydney.

Friday 12 July 1918

Have had my commission 3 years today.

So I have had my three years commission today! & only 95 days in France, woe is me!

Had a delicious night’s sleep & got up at night. A big barrage seemed to have been put up on the left front from 7-4. First parade at 11.30. Men fairly clean but Rolfe rightly found many faults. After lunch Dawkins & I started out for D-ns.

We are now on crossroads to T-s. Here we got hold of an ambulance lorry which took us to Doullens, then we had a right royal time buying stuff for mess, other officers & stuff for our platoon. Tea at officers rest house. EFC could not supply us with anything we wanted.

Had dinner with two NZ Majors at EFC Club. They got great fun out of the London waiter who was shocked at their asking for a ‘follows’ as he called it. Lorry jumped back & got back at 11.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

Influenza prevalent

The flu epidemic was starting to hit.

Datchet
1 July 1918

Only 190 present. Influenza prevalent.

White Waltham
July 1st 1918

Sergt Major London of Australian Expeditionary Force (Mrs Constable’s brother) visited the school this afternoon and spoke to the Mixed Group from 3.15 to 3.45 on “Children of Australia”. The children greatly enjoyed the talk.

Datchet National Mixed School log book (SCH30/8/3, p. 405); White Waltham CE School log book (D/P 142/28/3/2, p. 272)

Conspicuous bravery during the retreat

Various Old Redingensians (OLd Boys of Reading School) had been serving their country.

O.R. NEWS.

Deaths

Captain Lionel Tudor Wild, Somerset L.I., was the second son of Mr. and Mrs Aubrey S. Wild. Of 21, canning-road, Addiscombe, Croydon, and was born in 1888.Educated at St. Winifred’s, Kenley, and Reading School, he was for a short time in the service of the London and Westminster Bank, but afterwards turning his attention to motor engineering, he took up an appointment with Messrs Argylls (Limited) in Dundee, and was subsequently manager of the company’s branch in Aberdeen. For several years before the war he was a member of the Surrey Yeomanry, and attained the rank of sergeant, being one of the best rifle-shots in his squadron. On the outbreak of war he was mobilized with his regiment, and after some months’ training obtained a commission in the Somerset Light infantry, proceeding to France with his battalion in July, 1915. In 1916 he was appointed brigade staff captain, but eventually returned to his regiment, and was given the command of the company. He was reported “wounded and missing” on November 30th, 1917, and it has now been established that he was killed on that date, in an attempt to save the remnant of his company during the German counter attack near Cambrai, and was buried by the enemy at Masnieres.

On Saturday the death occurred at “Westdene,” Earley, the home of his parents, of Sec. Lieut. F.I. (Frank) Cunningham after illness contracted on active service. Deceased was educated at Reading School, from which he entered the City and Guilds Engineering College, London, and after going through the three year’s course he obtained a diploma in civil and mechanical engineering. In 1910 he went to Canada, and was assistant engineer on the Grand Trunk Railway. When war broke out he enlisted on August 14th, as a private in the Royal Highlanders of Canada. He was at Valcartier and Salisbury Plain, and in 1915 went to the front. At Ypres he was wounded in the foot, and after recovery was attached to the C.A.M.C., until 1916. He then obtained a commission in the R.F.C., which he held up till February the 3rd of this year, when he was invalided out of the service and granted the honorary rank of Sec. Lieut.

The funeral took place at St Peter’s Earley, on Thursday, April 11th. The officiating clergy were the Rev. W. S. Mahony, Vicar of Linslade, the Rev. Capt. A. Gillies Wilken (O.R.) Chaplain to the Canadian Forces ( lately prisoner of war in Germany), and the Vicar (Canon Fowler). The coffin was draped in the Union Jack.

Military Cross

Capt. (A/Major) D.F. Grant, R.F.A., the son of Mr W.J. Grant, of 12, Glebe Road, Reading. Major Grant was educated at Reading School, and quite recently lost his eyesight in France but has since regained it.

Captain Arnold J. Wells, A.S.C., T.F. (Territorial Force), has been awarded the M.C. for meritorious service in Egypt. He has served in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine.

Bar To Military Cross

Sec. Lieut. (A/Capt.) J.L. Loveridge, M.C., Royal Berks.

Mentioned In Despatches

Fullbrook-Leggatet, Capt. C.St. Q.O., D.S.O., M.C., Royal Berks Regt.

Military Medal

Corpl. H.C. Love, Despatch Rider, R.E., of Reading, has won the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery during the retreat March 23rd-30th.

The following is the official statement of service for which Lieut. O.S. Frances, M.C. Royal Berks Regt. Received his bar: –

“He marked out the assembly positions for the whole brigade before an attack and guided forward companies of two battalions over very difficult ground and under heavy shell fire.”

Corporal W.L. Pauer, a sniper in the Munster Fusiliers, has been awarded the Military Medal and also the Medaille Militaire. He has been twice wounded. During the retreat in March he was made a King’s Sergeant on the field and he has since been awarded a bar to his Military Medal.

Wounded.

Rees, Major R.A.T., L.N. Lan. Regt., attached South Staff. Regt. He was formerly classical master at Reading School, where he held the commission in the O.T.C.

Reading School Magazine, July 1918 (SCH3/14/34)

“Died through lead poisoning contracted while on Government work in France”

The Berkshire Committee of the National Relief Fund tried to help people thrown into economic disarray as a direct result of the war.

24 June 1918
Shire Hall

The Secretary reported that he had been successful in obtaining work for Mrs Swain with Messrs Gill & Sons, Tailors, Reading. Mrs Swain had, however, since stated that she wished to go to Holland where it was understood her husband had been transferred. The Secretary stated that he had informed Mrs Swain that he did not think it would be possible for her to obtain a permit to do this, and nothing further had been heard in the matter.

The case of Mrs Coleman, Station Road, Twyford, whose husband was killed in an Air-raid on London was considered, and a letter was read stating that the Lords Commissioners had sanctioned an award of £250 to Mrs Coleman. The Committee were asked to inform the Government Committee of their proposals for the disbursement of the amount in the best interests of the dependents, and in order to do this it was agreed that the Chairman and Mr F Bate should interview Mrs Coleman on the following Monday, 1st July.

The Chairman stated that he had authorised as a case of urgent necessity, two grants of £5 to be expended by the Rev. H Tower of Windsor, on behalf of Mrs Kate Clarke, St Leonards Road, Windsor, whose husband had died through lead poisoning contracted while on Government work in France.

The action of the Chairman was confirmed and a further grant of £5 authorised to be paid if necessary.

An application for assistance received from Miss Lipscombe, Maidenhead, was considered and refused, as it was not considered one of distress directly due to the present war.

The Secretary reported the result of his enquiries of Mr Davies, Maidenhead, in the case of Mrs Willis, to the effect that it would appear that Mrs Willis would not be able to take up employment. It was suggested that the case be referred to the Central Office asking whether a final grant might be given to the woman, and the Secretary was instructed accordingly.

The Treasurer reported that the loan of £3 made in April 1917 to Mrs Lake, Yew Tree Farm, Swallowfield, the period for repayment of which had been extended, was now five months overdue, and asked for instructions as to any necessary action in the matter.

After consideration it was agreed that the promissory note be returned to Mrs Lake and the loan treated as a gift.

National Relief Fund: Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1)

Easter eggs for wounded soldiers

Hundreds of eggs were donated as a special Easter gift for wounded soldiers. (They were real eggs not chocolate ones!)

Crazies Hill Notes

Mrs. Woodward once again made a collection of Easter eggs for wounded soldiers and is to be congratulated upon the success of her efforts. In money no less than £4 1s. was offered for this worthy object and 109 eggs were given in addition. 331 eggs were purchased with the money so generously given and a total of 440 eggs were distributed as follows: –

Wargrave Hospital 140
No. 1 War Hospital at Reading 100
Henley Hospital 100
3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth 100

It is to the last named Hospital that the work done by the Crazies Hill Working Party is sent.

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

“Down here because the raids upset her so”

The Daniels family welcomed an additional guest fleeing from air raids in the East End – a young relative of their maid.

Florence Vansittart Neale
5 June 1918

Amusing lunch. Officers described German prisoners! They both left (Granville & Knapman).

Joan Daniels
June 5th Wednesday

Florence’s little sister came with her mending. Mummie has had her down here because the raids upset her so. They live in Plaistow & had bombs very near them last time. She is a most amusing kiddie…

Uncle Jack went to be medically examined & is passed Grade 3. That means if anyone goes it has to be Daddie, but it strengthens the latter’s position with regard to exemption.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and Joan Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1)

The internees may let their friends know where they are as soon as possible

The Irish internees were now to be allowed to communicate with their friends and relations, if under strict censorship.

H M Prison
Reading
May 31 1918

From the MO to the Governor

Concerning the petition of Max John Stephan.

I recommend that he be allowed to go to the dentist’s house under escort.

W Freeman

31.5.1918
[to] The Governor, Reading Prison

It has been decided that the privilege of writing & receiving letters, which has hitherto been suspended, shall now be granted to the interned Irish prisoners.

The examination of the letters will be undertaken on behalf of the Commissioners by the Postal Censorship. Accordingly all letters written by and all letters received for these prisoners, including P’Cards, telegrams, books, & newspapers, and any messages contained in parcels, will be sent by you – the envelopes remaining unopened – to the Chief Postal Censor, Strand House, Portugal Street, London, WC2. With each packet of letters, you will send a covering note as follows: This parcel contains letters received on – date -, for the Irish prisoners interned in Reading P. of I. signed – Governor; or This packet contains letters posted on – date by the Irish prisoners interned in Reading P. of I., signed – Governor.

If passed by the censor, they will be posted to the addresses, or returned to you to deliver to the internees, as the case may be.
The internees should tell their friends to address all letters, postcards, telegrams, and newspapers as follows:

Name
Prison – in brackets
c/o the Chief Police Censor, Strand House, Portugal St, WC2.

This will save delay, as ant letters &c sent to the Prison direct will have to be referred to the Censor in the first place.
Parcels should be addressed direct to the Prison: they must be carefully examined, and any written or printed matter contained in them must not be given to the prisoner until passed by the Censor.

In order that the internees may let their friends know where they are as soon as possible, they should be advised to limit their first communication to a postcard or telegram, stating where they are held, and explaining how letters, parcels &c should be addressed.

For the present, no visits can be allowed.

Signed A H Wall
Sec:

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

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)

Home from the Salonika Front for training in a Cadet Corps

Customers at Sulhamstead Post Office supported a canteen at railway stations for soldiers on the move.

THE WAR

SOLDIERS’ CANTEEN, S.E.R.

The amount in the box held by Mrs Winchcombe at the Post Office for this purpose amounted to 2s 6d.

Sergeant James Price has returned home from the Salonika Front for training in a Cadet Corps. His brother, Corporal Stanley Price, has been sent from India to Egypt, to be trained for a commission in the Royal Air Force.

We regret that Private Amos East has been returned home seriously invalided. Private Enefer is still in hospital in London, suffering from wounds.

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

“Was it a bomb?” “No, a mouse got in”

Joan Daniels’ father inspected the damage from the air raid on his factory.

May 23rd Thursday

Daddie did not come home to lunch as he had to settle up some things about the bomb. They now find that there were two dropped a few yards apart. Daddie told us rather an amazing thing. An old lady was peering in between two sheets that have been fixed across one of the windows now that the glass is gone. The fat old policeman who was on guard came up & said “Ere mother, you clear off”. She turned to him & said “Was it a bomb?” “No” he whispered, “a mouse got in”.

Diaries of Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1)

“No one was killed & no one was hurt”

Joan Daniels’ father’s clothing factory in Kentish Town was hit by a bomb.

Joan Daniels
May 20th Monday (Whit Monday)

Wakened at 6 o’clock in the morning by a policeman for Daddie. There was a bad air raid on London last night after eleven o’clock and they dropped a bomb at Daddie’s place. So of course he went off immediately & sent a telephone message through to say that no one was killed & no one was hurt. Which we were more than thankful to receive. The bomb dropped on a wall at the back between Ash’s false teeth factory & Daddie’s, breaking practically every window in the latter & blowing a lot of the false teeth into LDG’s! Daddie came back by the 12.15 & we spent a lovely afternoon on the river. What a difference. Such a peaceful scene & how much we have to be thankful for that no one was hurt. We heard in the evening that four Gothas were brought down, which is splendid.

Percy Spencer
20 May 1918

BF officer for rest at Le Touquet.

Bosch again disappointed us. A glorious day. Boys dug in cable. Follies performed in evening. CO Major P. dined with 17th. Huns really promised for tomorrow. Davis & I had a long talk in the evening.

Diaries of Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1); and Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)