“Right in front of the battalion, leading his men in true British style”

This supplement to the roll of honour’s bald list of names gives us more detail about the parish’s fallen heroes.

Supplement to the Wargrave Parish Magazine

ROLL OF HONOUR.
R.I.P.

Almighty and everlasting God, unto whom no prayer is ever made without hope of thy compassion: We remember before thee our brethren who have laid down their lives in the cause wherein their King and country sent them. Grant that they, who have readily obeyed the call of those to whom thou hast given authority on earth, may be accounted worthy among thy faithful servants in the kingdom of heaven; and give both to them and to us forgiveness of all our sins, and an ever increasing understanding of thy will; for his sake who loved us and gave himself to us, thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Baker, Edward
Private, 7th Wiltshire Regiment, killed in action on the Salonica Front, April 24th, 1917, aged 21. He was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Baker. He was born at Wargrave and educated at the Piggott School. When the war commenced he was working as a grocer’s assistant in Wargrave. He volunteered in 1915 and was sent out in 1916. He was killed by a shell in a night charge.

Barker, Percy William

Private, 7th Batt. Royal Berkshire Regiment/ Killed at Salonica, July 4th 1917, aged 19. He was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. William Barker at Yeldall Lodge. His father was for twenty years a gardener at Yeldall. He was born at Crazies Hill and educated at the village school. On leaving school he began work as a gardener. He was one of the most helpful lads on the Boys’ Committee of the Boys’ Club. He volunteered May 11th, 1916. On July 4th, 1917, he was hit by a piece of shell from enemy aircraft while bathing and died within an hour. The Chaplain wrote to his parents “Your loss is shared by the whole battalion”.

Bennett, William
Sergeant, 8th Royal Berkshire Regiment, killed in France, Dec 3rd, 1916 aged 25. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bennett, of Wargrave, and when the war broke out he was working on a farm. He volunteered at once. He was killed instantly by a shell. One of his officers wrote: “Sergt. Bennett was the best N.C.O. we had in the company. Fearless, hardworking, willing, he was a constant inspiration to his platoon. His splendid record must inevitably have led to his decoration. We have lost an invaluable N.C.O. and a fine man. He was buried with all possible reverence about half a mile from Eaucourt L’Abbaye”.

Boyton, Bertram
Lieut., 6th London Brigade Royal Field Artillery, died of wounds in Palestine, Nov. 9th, 1917, aged 36. He was educated at King’s College, London, and was a Surveyor and Architect by profession. He was a Fellow of the Surveyors Institute and had won Gold and Silver Medals of the Society of Auctioneers by examination. He was married to Elsie, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Morris, at the Parish Church, Wargrave, Sept. 7th 1905, He was a member of the London Rowing Club and the Henley Sailing Club, and keenly interested in all athletics. He enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company in April 1915. He was given a commission in the 6th London R.F.A., in July 1915 and was promoted Lieutenant soon after. He went to France with his battery in June 1916, and to Salonica in the following November. He was sent to Egypt and Palestine in June 1917, and was wounded while taking his battery into action in an advance on November 6th. He died at El Arish on November 9th, 1917.

Buckett, Ernest Frederick

Private in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, killed in action Sept. 20th, 1917, in France, aged 23. The dearly loved husband of Dorothy May Buckett, married May 31st, 1917. He was educated at the Henley National School, and before the War was a slaughterman with Messrs. O’Hara & Lee, butchers, Henley and Wargrave. In 1910 he joined the Berkshire Yeomanry (Territorial Force), and was called up on August 4th, 1914, at the commencement of the war. He immediately volunteered for foreign service. He went to France in the spring of 1915. When he had completed his five years service, since the date of his enlistment, he volunteered for another year, but received his discharge as a time-expired man in January 1916. In July, 1916, he was called up under the new regulations and sent immediately to France where he remained, except for leave on the occasion of his marriage, until he fell in action, September 20th, 1917. (more…)

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“Our hearts and prayers go out to these dear lads, confident that the day is not far away now when they will come back to us”

There was news from some of the young men from Spencers Wood.

Our Soldier Lads.

Two more of our young men have been wounded in recent engagements: Pte. Fred Norris and Pte. William Povey. Fred has been in France for two and a half years and has been wonderfully fortunate. He is now in a Bristol hospital and going on well. Pte. Povey has been twice wounded, the first time about eighteen months ago at Loos. Both lads were regular in their attendance at our little church.

Cheering letters come from Harry Wheeler, Percy and Chappie Double, who are all so far well, although Harry has suffered from trench feet. Our hearts and prayers go out to these dear lads, confident that the day is not far away now when they will come back to us. God bless them!

Spencers Wood section of Trinity Congregational Magazine, April 1917 (D/EX1237/1/12)

“The Huns threw a lot of shells about” – and gassed one of their own men

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister Florence with his latest news. This letter, which is, unusually for Percy, typed, is badly torn and parts are missing. He had been gassed, and met an old friend.

30/9/16

Life is such a harassing affair nowadays that I [never see]m to have both the time and the humour to write you … lines, but if I don’t soon send you a letter I [shall for]get altogether how to write one, so here we are, and … excuse the type.

This pushing business is business, but it’s very […] I can assure you. However, the Huns are absolutely […] and very much on the wobble, and I still hope for [the s]udden collapse I feel sure will be the end of this …

Since writing to you last I have added the experience of being lachrymatory [tear] gassed. It was jolly. [Every]one scrambling for helmets and goggles and crying […], the gas seeming to have caused an inflammation which [was] very much aggravated when one closed one’s eyes. At […] the enemy, and I had the pleasure of getting out […]ration orders wearing a gas helmet and goggles. We [wer]e a remarkable assembly – you couldn’t tell t’other from [whi]ch, and when I had finished at my typewriter I was surprised to find that the man at my elbow crowded on the dug-out steps was a German officer prisoner we had captured. It was rather a joke for this fellow to be brought in and suddenly hoist by his own petard, so to speak.

Since then we have had a “rest” – quite an eventful one, for on one occasion I spent a few thrilling minutes watching parachute descents from kite balloons and on another, after tea, lying out in the sunshine, suddenly I espied a splendid fox wending its way amongst some […] trenches and taking cover in the wire entanglement […] rank grass. We chivvied it out and had a small fox [hole?] all on our own.

The night we came out and went into rest we had […] welcome – the Huns threw a lot of shells about and […] knocked down the house opposite us. That’s the second time they’ve done that – it’s most inconsiderate.

By the way I’ve been looking out for Jack Jackson for a long time. He was wounded at LOOS and I imagine he […] long come out again. Anyway a short time ago toward the end of a pretty big do, I was going up in a Staff car [and] just as I was stepping in, who should go by but Jack. [We] only had time for a handshake, and then on he went up […] the line and I to the comparative safety of a dug-out. I hope he came through all right as the main part of that […] bump so far as his Brigade was concerned was then over.

If you could send me some gloves I should be glad.

I am now transferred to the A.S.C. but have no number at present. My pay is 3/6d per day as from Mar. 9th. You might make a note of this. I was sorry to transfer, but had to….

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/5/30)

“Since the war began I have altogether knocked off shooting”

Lawyer Arthur Farrer wrote to his client Apsley Cherry-Garrard (invalided home) in response to an invitation to go shooting.

18th September 1916

Dear Cherry-Garrard

It is awfully good of you to ask me to come down and shoot, but since the war began I have altogether knocked off shooting; people here have been so kind in the past asking me to shoot and knowing, as I did, that I ought not to spare the time to go about, I came to a very reluctant decision to give up shooting, at all events for the period of the war. The pressure here increases rather than diminishes, and though the decision was a disagreeable one to take, I am sure it was wise.

We too now are suffering specially by the death of the one young partner we had left here, a son of my senior partner who lost another son at Loos, so I must ask you to forgive me if, as I do, I say ‘no’ to come down and shoot…

Always yours sincerely

Arthur M Farrer

Letter from Arthur Farrer (D/EHR/Z9/72)

A wish fulfilled

One of the men who had left Earley to join the Navy had been killed – the second in his family to be lost.

Our best wishes accompany Mr Sidesman W B Waters who, being called up, joined the 3/4 Royal Berkshires last month. His home activities in the CEMS and his church work as sidesman and principal cross bearer, will be missed. Our hope is the outdoor life may have a beneficial effect on his health which has not been robust these last few years.

In memoriam

The great battle in the North Sea took from this neighbourhood its toll of brave sailors. Among them Francis Harry Stevens, eldest son of Mr & Mrs F Stevens, whose second boy William David, gave his life in the attack at Loos on Sep. 25th last year. His brother Francis Harry who entered the Royal Navy as stoker was making rapid progress and shewing great proficiency in the engine room. Had he lived his promotion was secured. When he heard of his brother’s death he expressed the wish that he might too die for his country, and that wish has been fulfilled for him. His younger brother Arthur is with the Army in Egypt. We desire to express our respectful sorrow with his grief stricken parents and assure them that this parish will honour the memory of their sons.

Earley parish magazine, July 1916 (D/P192/28A/14)

“Heavenly from my point of view”

Maysie Wynne-Finch told her brother Ralph that she was quite pleased her husband was in too poor a state physically to go back to the front for a while. She also shared an amusing joke about the title selected by Sir John French, recently created Earl of Ypres for his leadership on the Western Front.

Friday Feb 3rd [1916]

You can imagine how delighted I am the doctors flatly refuse to let John go to France for anyhow 3 months. They say it will take two before the new cut in the jaw heals, then it may break out again & until there is no chance of this cannot get any plate in & he has no teeth hardly left now, poor darling. Meantime they are again urging him to take on the Adjutancy at Windsor if only for 3 months, so finally he has consented under the circumstances & on condition they let him go as soon as he can pass for France. So he reports to begin duty this next week now, & we are trying to find a little house down there again. It’s heavenly from my point of view.

Billy got back on leave two days ago. Seems very well. They have been having a pretty lively time from shelling lately it seems. We met Captain Tollemache today – back on a fortnight’s leave. I think you know him. He was on the Dardanelles from June till the evacuation.

These last Zepp raids have cause much excitement. They came so early, & got so far, & stayed so late – Dirty beasts.

Do you know the title Lord French should have taken other than Ypres? … Lord Loos is the answer…

Your ever loving
Maysie

Letter from Maysie Wynne-Finch to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)

“Our soldiers, sailors and flying men need our prayers

New Year’s Eve was set to be the first of three special days of national prayer for the war. Several Berkshire parishes give us their slant on it. The vicar of All Saints, Dedworth also had a story from the Front about attitudes to the enemy.

All Saints’, Dedworth

The year 1916 still sees us engaged in a war even more terrible than the beginning of 1915. The Nation is bidden by its spiritual leaders, the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church to keep Friday, December 31st, as a day of special prayer and intercession. Saturday, January 1st, is to be a day of preparation for Communion, which all are asked to make on Sunday, January 2nd. The duty of the Church is to carry on the fight against the World, Flesh and Devil, and it is the duty of the Church’s officers to lead in that fight. The response at times to that call seems small, it may be larger than it looks, but at any rate it makes the work as hard, if not harder, to carry on than other warfare. How grand has been the response to carry arms for King and Country, but the real victory for which we are fighting will not be won unless at the end we are a Nation nearer to God; having shown to the world that Christianity is the greatest power in war and peace.

Mr. Begbie narrates the following from behind the English lines in France:-

“The other day a doctor fell in with a British soldier whose blood was maddened by what he had seen of the German treatment of our wounded men. ‘Do you know what I mean to do,’ he demanded, ‘when I come across one of their wounded? I mean to put my boot in his ugly face.’ The doctor replied, ‘No you won’t; it’s not your nature. I’ll tell you what you will do – you’ll give him a drink out of your water-bottle.’ To which the soldier after a pause, in which he searched the doctor’s face, made grumbling and regretful answer, ‘Well, may be I shall.’”

Reading St John

Mr Rogers has now been moved up to the Front. He is where he wished to be when he offered for service as a Chaplain, and where he will have the opportunity of speaking to men at the most solemn moment of their lives of the things that matter eternally. We shall continue to be much in prayer for him, that he may be kept from all harm, and that his messages may be with great power.

Now may I commend to your very careful notice the arrangements which have been made to enable you to observe the last day of December and the first two days of January as our King and our Archbishops and Bishops desire that they should be observed. We stand on the threshold of a year that promises to be fateful beyond any in our previous history, a year that will probably test severely our fortitude, our courage and our faith.

(more…)

A brave lad who was glad to lay down his life

Earley said goodbye to one of its brave young recruits:

In Memoriam

We record with great regret the death of Private William David Stevens, son of Mr and Mrs Frank Stevens well known to all of us. An account of his wounds and miraculous escape was given in the October magazine, and it is but a short time since he was home on sick leave. He returned to his regiment, the Royal Warwicks, cheerfully and happily, and took part in the British advance at Hulluch and Loos on the 25th Sept. Our apprehensions as to his safety were increased by a sudden absence of letters from him, and nearly a month elapsed before he was officially reported missing. On 1st Nov his parents received official news of his death, and on the same day a wounded comrade, writing from Wrexham in Wales, sent mournful tidings that he had assisted at his burial on the field of battle, that his death was that of a hero “facing the enemy” and that he was sending his parents the cross of palm leaf which was found in his pocket. William Stevens was a brave lad and latterly envinced a turn towards serious things and thoughts which, we can well believe, encouraged and helped him in the midst of his great dangers. He was one who was glad to be allowed to offer and lay down his life for his home and country.

Earley parish magazine, December 1915 (D/P192/28A/13)

Great sorrow in Earley

Earley parishioners enthusiastically helped to entertain wounded soldiers, while there was bad news of several local men.

Earley “Wounded Soldiers” Entertainment Fund.

In the first place, as Hon. Treasurer to this Fund, I desire on behalf of the committee to express their grateful thanks to all who have so generously assisted by gifts in money, provisions, flowers, fruit, vegetables and, last but not least, the loan of motor cars, without which it would not be possible to carry out the arrangements. To this must be added our thanks to those who have given their time and talent in providing music and plays, which our guests have greatly enjoyed.

List of Men Serving in His Majesty’s Forces.

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:-

William Durman, Edward Harris, Walter Bastow, Herbert Lovegrove, William Powell, Arthur Brereton, Harold Cooper, Herbert Carter, William Carter, Reginald Bluring, Henry Horwood, Jack Edwards, Thomas Watts, Frederick Lee, Albert Pocock, Fred Purver, Albert Spratley, William Nash, Albert Evans, Robert Newton, Frederick Wise, John Winchcombe, Edwin Taylor, Henry Stanbridge, Ashley Franklin, George Polden, Douglas Clarje, Walter Samways, Reginald Holtom, Ernest Fowler, Alexander Burden, Frederick Gardener, William Hooper, George Rooke, Benjamin Rickards, Thomas Bricknell, Harry Bricknell, Aubray Turner, Frederick Thompson.

The following we especially commend to your prayers:-

Missing – George Seymour, Percy Wyer, Charles Timbrill.
Wounded – Francis Mayl, Walter King (wounded and gassed).
Sick – Albert Hiscock, Reginald Sloper, Harry Borroughs, Joseph Marshall, William Clements.
Killed – Richard Jordon.
Prisoners – Charles John Fisher, Ernest Holtom.

In Memoriam.

We much regret to have to record the death of George Wright who was killed in action at Loos on the occasion of the great attack in October; he was a member of the Choir and a past member of the Church Lads’ Brigade, and was much liked by all who knew him. We are sure all our readers deeply sympathize with Mr. and Mrs. Wright and family in their great sorrow.
R.I.P.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, December 1915 (D/P191/28A/22)

A real sacrifice

Lady Mary Glyn wrote to her son Ralph with news of the service of various family friends and acquaintances.

Nov. 25, 1915
Overstone
Northampton
My darling Scraps

We had luncheon & tea with Mrs Guy & Mildred Stewart. Her husband is Staff Brigade Major with General Montgomery and she says they all adore Sir Henry Rawlinson, and all that was best in the Loos Battle was his work. And it was wonderful to hear all that Mrs Guy’s many sons are doing – all fighting, except Lasey who is in “Grandpapa’s Own”, the Inns of Court Battalion, and gets much chaffed.

Marmion was at the Suvla Bay landing & his Colonel Linton was killed just after the landing & when he had stood in water 6 hours, 4 ft 4 deep and more for the landing. Allan Guy has just gone as Private with Public Schools Battalion attached to Fusiliers, and the mother says that she thinks this means for him a real giving & sacrifice, for he has never been a soldier, & only schoolmastering. You will remember Mansel Bowly as Commander of the Fed. In Dardanelles.

I have no news to give you, for I have seen very few people lately, and the newspapers are not much good, for what is news today, is stale tomorrow in these days.

Own Mur
I am always thinking of you.

Letter from Lady Mary to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2)

A girl and a gun

Florence Vansittart Neale heard a number of stories of heroism, treachery and incompetence from her circle of acquaintances. Some of them may be more reliable than others, but it shows the kinds of stories that were circulating at home. Queen Sophia of Greece was the sister of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. She and her husband (the uncle of the Duke of Edinburgh) sympathised with the Germans, while the Greek government leaned towards the Allies.

11 November 1915

Germans torpedoed “Ancona”, Italian ship.

Heard through Meg of brave French girl aged 17 at Loos. Phil Carr met her & heard story from Dr. Saw Germans were sniping a dressing station & covered the front door so no one could go out to hit them. This girl who lived near & knew the place well ran out behind with a pistol, into the house & killed them both. Came back, put down revolver & just said “C’est fait” & went on with her dressings.

Phil Carr, rescuing people from Loos, met an old woman carrying her mattress & 2 live rabbits! She had been told she could only bring what she could carry.

Kitchener was asked why he sent out such an “awful ass” as Ian Hamilton. He said because he had no other “awful ass” to send.
I hear that why John [Burres?] left the Cabinet on account of us going to war was because he had been so bamboozled by the Germans while he was there some 2 or 3 years ago, & they persuaded him to put all the money he had in German things – he thought after the war he could get them to give him back his money in consequence.

Germans tell our Tommies across trenches “Gott sei dank! You’ve killed our Prussian commander.”

Hear Queen of Greece stabbed Tino [King Constantine]. So he took to his bed…

Hear Captain Kelly gone on secret expedition. Can’t write to Maisie for some time.

Hear English airman caught in German lines. 2 German officers insisted on his taking them to his machine to see the English lines. He looped the loop & they fell out! He had tied himself in.

Hear so many Belgians are spies, helping Germans – will do anything for money.

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

“Just the sort of absurd thing that a gang of civilians would decide upon”

Ralph Glyn’s boss shared the latest top secret discussions about a withdrawal from the Dardanelles.

26, Campden House Chambers
Campden Hill, W
15th October 1915

My dear Ralph,

Many thanks for your interesting letters from Paris and Rome. I suppose that by this time you are somewhere in the Aegean and will soon be fetching up at Imbros. I have worried Brade without ceasing about the ship for the King’s Messenger and am confident that by the end of the war something thoroughly satisfactory will have been arranged.

I imagine that you will find things a little uncomfortable when you get there, although I do not know how far everything will leak out even there at once. Monro is crossing from France today and I suppose that I shall see him tomorrow; but I do not know how he will manage about staff and so forth. I am very sorry for Sir Ian and Braithwaite who have had a very difficult game to play and have had the cards against them, while they have not received the backing from home that they might fairly have counted upon, It is to be up to Monro to recommend whether the Dardanelles operations are to be gone on with, or whether it is to be a case of clearing out – a nasty thing to have to decide. Afterwards he is apparently to go wandering about the Levant seeing what can be done there, as if a stranger to those parts could decide such matters at a moment’s notice. Just the sort of absurd thing that a gang of civilians would decide upon.
Carson is out of it – at least he has resigned; but there may be some hitch over Squiff’s accepting it, or he may be got at by the King. The Government is all over the place over the Dardanelles and compulsory service, and I do not know how they are going to pull themselves together.

Long says that he will send a banana ship to you, so your suggestion like so many of yours is bearing fruit. I have also rosined up the MS over the honours and have mentioned the matter to K, so that will be all right. Entre nous, I have got Lord Stamfordham to approach the King as to sending out a Prince to visit Gallipoli but have not heard how the All Highest takes it. Of course, that would only fit in if the operations are to be proceeded with; one could hardly pack off a Princeling to witness a retirement.

Our people made another attempt at a big push near Loos and it seems to have been virtually a failure. Robertson, who has been over, HW and JF all insist that they can break the line when they like, but when they try there is no tangible result. Offensive, barring local digs, will now be off for a bit I imagine. Mackenzie wanted to tell you off as 3rd Grade merchant of Mahon’s division, where there is a vacancy, but I pointed out that that would be sending you to Salonika contrary to K’s orders. I prefer your being at GHQ if it can be managed, but do not tell them I said so. Any way I will mention to Monro if I get the chance, as with your experience you might be very useful to him if he goes poking about.

Your “diploma” for the order of chastity or whatever your Serb decoration is arrived; but I suppose you do not want it in the field, and the MS watches over these things. Office much as usual, the “appreciation” epidemic is still virulent, but it has given old man Kiggell indigestion – and no wonder – so we are over the worst. But I miss your cheery presence.

Half asleep.

Yours ever
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

Awful casualties feared

Malcolm Blane (1892-1915) was the younger son of the family which owned Foliejon Park. He was a lieutenant with the Cameron Highlanders, his family coming originally from Scotland. The Vansittart Neales would have socialised with the Blanes, and his death at Loos struck home.

2 October 1915
2nd trenches reached. Holding them. Fear awful casualties. Malcolm Blane killed….

We all packed in motor [and] took Phyllis & Magdalen to Reading – they to Southampton. We to try & find Bubs. She on duty. Great procession (recruiting going on)

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