A memorial commemorative of those who have served in the war as well as those who have lost their lives in it

The great and good of Berkshire gathered to consider a county war memorial. They decided ordinary soldiers should be involved too.

30 July 1919
Meeting of the War Memorial General Committee held in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Reading, on the 30th July 1919.

J H Benyon esquire, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, Chairman
Stanley Hayward esquire, Mayor of Reading, Vice Chairman
Mrs L Hayward, Mayoress of Reading
Col T J Bowles
Louis H Beard esquire, Constable of Hungerford
Councillor W E Collier
F J K Cross esquire
W Dockar Drysdale esquire
Ernest Gardner esquire, MP
Rev F J C Gillmor
S H Hodgkin esquire
Councillor W R Howell
Dr J B Blay
Councillor Edward Jackson
A J Mackay esquire
Councillor Frank E Moring
H C Mylne esquire, Mayor of Wokingham
Councillor Thomas Norris
W Howard Palmer esquire
Major M L Porter
Councillor L E Quelch
F A Sargeant esquire, Deputy Mayor of Reading
Councillor Wm Sparks
Edmund Stevens esquire
E M Sturges esquire
G A Watson esquire
Col George S Willes

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council submitted the resolutions adopted at the Public Meeting held on the 22nd July appointing and defining the duties of the Committee.

This being the first meeting of the Committee since their appointment the Committee proceeded to elect a Chairman and Vice Chairman, when J H Benyon esquire, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, was elected to be Chairman and Stanley Hayward esquire, Mayor of Reading, was elected to be Vice Chairman.

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council read apologies for absence from the following:

Lady Wantage
Col F W Foley
Brigadier General J E Wigan
Alderman F A Cox
Lt Col Leslie Wilson MP
P E Crutchley esquire
W Crosland esquire
Col J C Carter
W Carter esquire, Mayor of Windsor
Sir Geo Young, bart
Major C W Darby-Griffith
C Adrian Hawker esquire
Rev W M Rawlinson
F A Simonds esquire
Mrs G S Abram

The Committee then considered the appointment of a secretary and
Resolved: That, if he be willing to act, Mr E W J Arman, late Postmaster of Reading, be appointed Honorary Secretary to the Committee.

The Deputy Clerk of the Berkshire County Council submitted a letter, dated 28th July, which the Town Clerk of Reading had received from Col F W Foley, expressing the opinion that more members of the rank and file of the many battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment should serve on the Committee, and, upon consideration thereof,

It was Resolved: That three nominations of NCOs or men for representation on the Committee be invited from each of the following:

1. The regular battalions of the Royal Berkshire Regiment.
2. The Berkshire Territorial Force Association.
3. The Comrades of the Great War.
4. The Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers.

[An Executive Committee was appointed]

It was decided that it be a recommendation to the Executive Committee to frame their scheme and inscription as commemorative of those who have served in the war as well as those who have lost their lives in it.

It was decided that the suggestions received from Lady Wantage, Brigadier General J T Wigan, Alderman Cox, Lt Col Walsh and others as to the form which the memorial should take be referred to the Executive Commmittee for their consideration.

The question of the desirability of limiting the amount of individual subscriptions was considered but no resolution upon the subject was passed.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)

The main Military Celebrations for the County of Berks shall take place in Reading

Preparations were underway for official Berkshire celebrations of the peace.

County Peace Celebrations

The Peace Celebrations Committee have decided that the main Military Celebrations for the County of Berks shall take place in Reading.

It is to be understood that this day is not intended to prevent Boroughs or Parishes from organizing local celebrations on another day, though it is hoped that the celebrations in Reading may be looked upon by all as being representative of the County.

The Reading programme is to include a parade and March Past, at which the Lord Lieutenant will take the Salute. The troops will then be entertained to dinner and Sports will be arranged for them in the afternoon. An invitation will be extended to all Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men who have served overseas.

The Hon. Secretary for the Peace Celebrations Committee is Major A.S. Turner, The Barracks, Reading.

Wargrave parish magazine, June 1919 (D/P145/28A/31)

A special pattern: sewing in Sulhamstead

Women in Sulhamstead were keen to help out by knitting and sewing clothing for the troops at the chilly Front.


Communications have been issued by the Lord Lieutenant and Mrs Benyon relative to the new scheme outlined by the War Office, for the supply of comforts for our soldiers and sailors during the forthcoming winter. One of these has been addressed to the Rectory, to Mrs Shepherd. There are many persons in the Parish anxious and eager to work, if materials can be supplied to them. If any such materials or gifts, with which to purchase them, are given to Mrs Shepherd, she will arrange for the workers to receive them.

The requirements are scheduled under six different headings:
British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John – Garments to be made to special pattern
War Office: Knitted scarves etc, of approved colours
Ladies’ Emergency Committee of the Navy League: Underclothing etc
Mine Sweepers: Warm underclothing, gloves and woollen garments
Lady Smith-Dorrien’s Depot for Bags for Soldiers: Bags of an approved pattern and materials

It is pleasing to the Parish to know that Sulhamstead House has again been opened by the kindness and generosity of Sir George and Lady Watson, for the reception of the wounded.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, November 1915 (D/EX725/3)

A wedding before seeing active service

Some young couples rushed into marriage because the bridegroom was in the armed forces. One such groom was Henry Benyon (1884-1959), heir of the Englefield estate. (He survived the war, and wnet on to follow his father as Lord Lieutenant of the county.) The Burghfield parish magazine tells us more:

The marriage of Lieut. Henry A Benyon, son and heir of the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire and of Mrs Benyon, to Miss Violet Eveline Peek, daughter of the late Sir Cuthbert Peek and of the Hon. Lady Peek, of Ronsden, Devon, took place at Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street, London, on March 10th.

It was originally intended that the wedding should be celebrated in Devonshire at a later date, but this arrangement had to be altered in consequence of the bridegroom’s regiment (the Berkshire Yeomanry) being ordered abroad.

Lieut. Benyon is so well known in Burghfield that we feel sure all our parishioners will unite in congratulating both him and his bride, and in wishing them long life and happiness.

Burghfield parish magazine, April 1915 (D/EX725/3)

The National Relief Fund tackles the abnormal conditions caused by the war

The local authorities of Berkshire all responded to the likely economic impact of the war in a pre-Welfare State society. The government had sent out a circular urging councils to consider the distress likely to be caused by the war, and Berkshire was not slow to respond. A meeting convened by Sir Robert G C Mowbray, Chairman of BCC, was held at the Assize Courts, Reading, on Saturday August 15, 1914, at 11 am. The official minutes of the meeting record:

The following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
I. Moved by the Chairman, seconded by the Lord Lieutenant [J Herbert Benyon], That it is expedient to form, in accordance with the circular from the Local Government Board dated 8th August 1914, a Committee to deal with the abnormal conditions arising out of the war, and that the Committee be called “The National Relief Fund – Berkshire Committee”.
II. Moved by the Chairman, seconded by Mr H G Willink. That the National Relief Fund – Berkshire Committee consist of
The Lord Lieutenant
The Member of Parliament for the three County divisions and for the Borough of Windsor
The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the County Council

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of Quarter Sessions

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Berkshire Education Committee

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the following County Council Committees:
Finance Committee
Highways Committee
Public Health Committee

The Chairman and Vice-Chairman and one other representative appointed by the Berkshire Insurance Committee

The Mayors of Abingdon, Maidenhead, Newbury, Wallingford, Windsor and Wokingham

The Chairman of the following Rural District Councils:
Abingdon RDC
Bradfield RDC
Easthampstead RDC
Faringdon RDC
Hungerford RDC
Cookham RDC
Newbury RDC
Wallingford RDC
Wantage RDC
Windsor RDC
Wokingham RDC

The Chairmen of Boards of Guardians who are not Chairmen of District Councils, but who are resident in the County, viz Abingdon, Bradfield, Hungerford and Maidenhead

Two representatives of the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association together with not exceeding five women to be selected by the Committee

The Chief Constable of Hungerford

III. Moved by the Chairman, seconded by Sir R B D Acland, KC. That the Mayors of the Boroughs in the County and the Chairman of the Urban District Council of Wantage and the Chairmen of the Rural District Councils in the Countty, be requested to form local Committee to act in conjunction with the National Relief Fund – Berkshire Committee.

IV. Moved by the chairman, seconded by the Lord Lieutenant. That Mr Francis H Wright, Registrar of University College, Reading, be asked to act temporarily as Honorary Secretary of this Committee.

More detail is to be found in a report printed by the Reading Mercury. The local committees were charged with investigating economic conditions, and which businesses were likely to close.

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