“Come to the cookhouse door, boys”: the long-hoped-for end of this weary and cruel struggle

Burghfield celebrated the end of the war.

Peace Celebrations

These took place on Saturday, July 26th, in fine weather and were a great success. The church bells were rung early in the morning, and at intervals afterwards. At 2.15 there was a short service, with a sermon by the Rector, in the church, attended by practically all the children from our four schools, over 260 of them, with the teachers, as well as many mothers and a number of ex-service men. The church inside was like a flower garden with the happy throng of young folk and their bright flags and banners and pretty dresses; but it was an earnest service too! The Burghfield Brass Band, under ex-bandsman W J Hathaway, late of the Royal Berks, met the long procession on the way from church, and played them into Hillfields lower park [the home of Mr Willink], where tents and a marquee (in preparation for the approaching Flower Show) had already been pitched, and were available in case of rain – which never came.

Sports for the children began at once, and at 4 o’clock they sat down on the grass to a good tea, after which the men’s sports were carried on till 5 o’clock, when 106 ex-service men, residents in Burghfield, were summoned by the now familiar “Come to the cookhouse door, boys” call, to an excellent meat tea in the marquee (provided by Mrs Sherval). Mr Willink said a few words of welcome at the end of the meal; but the fullest speech was well made by Mr Lousley, Chairman of the memorial and Celebrations Committee, later in the evening at the distribution of the sports prizes by Mrs Geoffrey Chance, when he gave a clear explanation of the aims and methods of the Committee, and thanked all those who had done so much for the Festival (except himself, who had as usual done his share and more), especially Mr H D Higgs (the Hon. Sec.), Mr Hannington, for conveying the Pinge Wood children; and Major Chance, Lieut. Searies, and Messrs E Lousley, Page, G Pembroke and Sheppard, with other teachers, as active members of the Sports Sub-Committee.

The day ended with dancing on rather rough sun-baked ground – but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Indeed there were no complaints all day, and it was a real pleasure to see so many friends and neighbours celebrating in such good fashion the long-hoped-for end of this weary and cruel struggle – yet those were not forgotten over whose lives the war has cast an abiding shadow. The Hillfields grounds were open during the day.

Burghfield parish magazine, September 1919 (D/EX725/4)

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“It was a moving thing to see so many of our brave men gathered together at the end of the war”

Ex-servicemen gathered in Burghfield to celebrate the peace.

On Sunday, July 6th, an ex tempore muster of Burghfield ex-service men took place at the Hatch, where about 28 men fell in and marched to the church under Lieut. Searies, for the 11 o’clock service.

A fortnight later [20 July], after better notice, there was a fuller parade in which about 80 took part, including the Chapel band from the Common. Major Chance, Lieut. Searies, Staff Sergeant Major Jordan, Sergeant Wigmore, and other NCOs were present. The band played the party to and from church, and also well accompanied the three hymns (Nos. 166. 540 and 165), which were sung with great heartiness. The Service of Thanksgiving for Victory, and in memory of those who have given their lives, was conducted, in the absence of Mr Coates [the curate, who was on holiday], entirely by the Rector, who preached an eloquent and most inspiring sermon on the text – “To what purpose is this waste?” (Matthew XXVI.8). The lessons (Isaiah XXV.1-9 and John XII.23-33) were read by Mr Willink. The bells rung muffled peals before and after service.

On leaving church the little column proceeded to the Hatch recreation ground, at the entrance marching past Mr Willink and Mr Lousley, the former (by request) taking the salute. Before dismissal some photographs were taken by him, but the light was very bad and no great results can be expected.

It was a moving thing to see so many of our brave men gathered together at the end of the war in that church in which prayers have so often been offered for their safe return, and for that of others who will come back no more. May the great spirit of unity, which, with God’s help, has brought us through to peace, keep us still united in Burghfield during the years before us.

It was disappointing that the invitation to all soldiers and sailors in the Bradfield district, to the Military Festivities in Reading on July 19th had, late in the time, to be withdrawn. This cast unexpected burdens on our Committee. They hope, however, that the steps taken at the last moment will have given satisfaction all round.

Burghfield parish magazine, August 1919 (D/EX725/4)

How the Declaration of Peace (when it comes) may fittingly be celebrated

Burghfield got cracking with memorialising the war.

May

A framed list of Burghfield men who have given their lives in the War has been drawn up by the Rector, and hung in the Church near the Lectern.

War… and Peace

A General Meeting, open to all parishioners, will be held in the New Schools, Burghfield Village, on Monday, 26th May, at 7 o’clock.

Objects:

1. To discuss the question of a Memorial of the part played by Burghfield in the War.
2. To consider how the Declaration of Peace (when it comes) may fittingly be celebrated in the parish.
3. And, if thought right, to appoint a Committee (a) to prepare recommendations for submission to a second General Meeting; and (b) to raise funds.


June

The War… and Peace General Meeting

This was held according to notice, on Monday, May 26th, in the C of E School, and was well attended. On the proposition of Mr Willink, Mr Job Lousley, as Chairman of the Parish Council and Parish Meeting, was voted into the chair. In a few well-chosen words, he explained the objects of the meeting, as stated in last month’s magazine, and asked for remarks. After several suggestions had been made, and noted for consideration, it was agreed to appoint a Committee of 20, with power to add three or four to their number, to report to a further general meeting for approval, and the following were elected accordingly, viz: Messrs F Aldridge, C Chamberlain, E Chance, Major G Chance, R Davidson, Lieut. F E Foster, F C Higgs, Col. R Kirkwood, H C Layley, J Lousley, M H Parfitt, A J Pearse, G Pembroke, Lieut. A Searies, F T Wenman, E Wigmore, H G Willink, and E Wise; also Mrs Butler and Miss Goodall. Mr H D Higgs kindly undertook to act as Hon. Secretary. The Committee will hold their first meeting in June, and it is hoped that any persons having suggestions to make will communicate at once with them.

Burghfield parish magazine, May-June 1919 (D/EX725/4)

Influenza forbids

Money still needed to be raised for meeting the costs of the war.

War Savings

On 5th February there was another Lantern Lecture, “The War on Land”, this time at the Jubilee Room. The Rector, Mr Anderson, and Mr Lousley, all spoke on the importance of saving. There was to have been another Lecture, this week, but influenza forbids.

Burghfield parish magazine, March 1919 (D/EX725/4)

A record of which Burghfield might be proud

The war’s anniversary was commemorated on the 5th of August in Burghfield. It was an opportunity to take stock of the impact of the war locally.

THE SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF THE DECLARATION OF WAR

On Saturday, 5th August, at the Handicraft Room, Mrs Bland’s School, a well-attended meeting was held to commemorate this anniversary. Sir Wyndham Murray, as chairman, opened the proceedings with a few patriotic remarks which were heartily received; and was succeeded by Brigadier General F. Bridgeman of Beech Hill, late Scots Guards, and formerly member for Bradford, who, in an excellent speech, drew a striking contrast between the great Duke of Wellington and our foe the Kaiser. The well-known inscription on the Duke’s monument at Strathfieldsaye [sic] records that “he was honoured abroad for in all the might of conquest he was always just, considerate, and humane” and “he was beloved at home because he had great power, and ever used it well”. Such a record could never truly be written of the Kaiser. In concluding he quoted the message given to Joshua when he became commander-in-chief of the army of Israel, “Have not I commanded thee, be strong and very courageous, be not afraid neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee wheresoever thou goest”. He moved the following resolution, “That this meeting of the parishioners of Burghfield expresses its inflexible determination to continue the struggle to a victorious end”.

Colonel A. Welby, late Scots Greys, Secretary of the Patriotic Fund, and formerly member for Taunton (who said that he remembered camping on Burghfield Common in 1872 at autumn manoeuvres), seconded. He gave a stirring account of the performances of our Army and Navy, and spoke hopefully of the war.

The resolution having been put, and carried unanimously, Mr Willink, in proposing a vote of thanks to the chairman and speakers, which was played by the parish in relation to the war, and particularly to the 240 names upon the Roll of Honour. These names were nearly all names of persons residing in Burghfield at the time of enrolment (not counting those rejected as medically unfit); some however were names of men who, though they had left the parish, had been born and bred in it, and were fairly entitled to be included. It was a record of which Burghfield might be proud. (Mr Willink hopes that parishioners will study from time to time the Roll of Honour, now hanging in the church porch, and will tell him of any omissions, or misdescriptions, or alterations, which ought to be attended to.) Mr Lousley, seconding, paid a warm tribute to the services of women in Burghfield, both on the land and in war work of various kinds. Nor were the Scouts forgotten, nor the 600 hospital appliances made on that very room, nor the eggs and vegetables sent to the hospitals in abundance.

The proceedings ended with the singing of the National Anthem. The resolution has been duly sent to the Committee for Patriotic Organisations, to be added to the numerous identical resolutions passed more or less simultaneously at similar meetings throughout the country.


Burghfield parish magazine, October 1916 (D/EX725/3)

Women on the land

You may recognise the name of Miss Pott from the extracts we have reported from the National Relief Fund Berkshire Committee. Gladys Pott (1867-1961), daughter of the Revd Alfred Pott, a former Archdeacon of Berkshire, was a well known speaker against female suffrage, but she was a strong speaker and organiser. She served as a Woman Inspector of the Women’s Branch of the Board of Agriculture from 1916 to 1919, and was awarded an MBE for her efforts after the war.


Women on the Land

A well attended meeting was held in S. John’s Hall on the evening of Thursday April 6th, to consider the question of the employment of women in gardening and general farm work, to take the places of men called up for military service.

The chair was taken by Mr. Alfred Palmer, who was supported by Miss Gladys Pott, Miss Ludlam, Miss Watson and Mr. Job Lousley.

The Chairman, in opening the meeting, spoke in glowing terms of the splendid way in which the women of the cities had come forward to help with the work on the land, and pointed out how the local women could help in this good work. He said instruction in dairying and farming was provided by the Berks Committee for those who could leave their homes, and for those who could only give a part of their time Miss Watson had offered the use of her garden and grounds every Saturday afternoon to all women (or others) who desired instruction in gardening. Those who wished to aid in the movement were urged to give in their names to Miss Ludlam, the Registrar.

Then Miss Pott, in a most interesting speech, told how much had been done by women since January, 1915, to the present time, and insisted that the question of the food supply was one of the supremest importance, and that every woman could do something to increase the productiveness of their own gardens and allotments, even if it were simply to make two lettuces grow where only one grew before.

Mr. Lousley gave some practical details of the movement, and referred to the successful outcome of women’s outdoor work in his parish and on his own farm.

After the speeches, pictures showing the work of wives and daughters of the French farmers were thrown on the screen. Miss Potts, who explained the pictures and had herself been present as a member of the Women’s Mission to France when these pictures were taken, said, that what they saw in France proved conclusively the glorious way in which the French had understood and answered the call of their country, and such an object lesson should serve to animate English women with a like spirit of devotion to their native land.
Miss Potts thanked Mr. Methold for manipulating the lantern, and a vote of thanks to the chairman and speakers brought the meeting to a close.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P120/28A/14)

Setting up a War Agricultural Committee for the county

Food shortages were a real concern during the war, as German attacks on neutral ships impeded imports. At its meeting on 16 October 1915, Berkshire County Council decided to set up a War Agricultural Committee.

FOOD PRODUCTION
WAR AGRICULTURAL COMMITTEE
A letter, dated 18 September, 1915, addressed to the Chairman of the Council by the President of the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, forwarding a Scheme for the appointment of a War Agricultural Committee and district sub-committees, was considered.
The principal functions of the Committees will be to organise the supply of agricultural labour; to consider the maintenance of, and if possible, the increase in, the production of food; to obtain information as to the requirements and supply available of agricultural implements and fertilisers and feeding stuffs; and generally to assist and advise landowners, farmers, and labourers.

Proposed by the Chairman, seconded by Lord G M Pratt, and resolved: That the following, being representative of landowners, farmers, agricultural societies and institutions, labour and other persons, be appointed a War Agricultural Committee for the County of Berks in accordance with, and for the purposes enumerated in, the circular dated 18 September, 1915, from the Board of Agriculture; with power to add to their number:

F Anstey
F Bate
J H Benyon
W Brewer
William Cordell
F J K Cross
R Crow
P E Crutchley
Miss G Elliot
C A Ferard
J A Fereman
Aaron Frogley
E Gardner, MP
H Goddard
B C Heath
W J Henman
T Latham
A W Lawrence
Local Manager, Labour Exchange
Capt. F C Loder Symonds
Job Lousley
W A Mount, MP
W Pennington
Miss G Pott
A Robinson
T Rose
Frank Saunders
W Anker Simmons
T Skurray
G F Slade
F A Smith
Harry Wilson Sowdon
E M Sturges
T S Tayler
Rev F W Thoyts
W Weall
H W Weaving
H G Willink

Proposed by the Chairman, seconded by Mr Bate, and resolved:

That the Clerk of the Council be nominated, and authorised to act, as Clerk to the War Agricultural Committee for the County of Berks; and that such other members of the administrative staff of the Council, as may be available and required, be allowed to assist such Committee.

That the War Agricultural Committee be allowed the use of County Buildings and equipment free of cost.

Provided that the above authorisations are given on condition that the arrangements do not interfere with the ordinary work of the Council or their Committees.

BCC minutes (C/CL/C1/1/18)