Ordered to be deported to Russia

Nicholas de Tcheriadieff, alias Max Priatel, was a theatre manager born in Dresden in Germany of Russian parentage, aged 39. He was sent to Reading from Manchester Prison on 8 November 1917, aged 39, ordered to be deported, and sent on to Newcastle Prison for that purpose on 15 December.

Prison Commission
Home Office
Whitehall SW1

11th February 1918

[To] The Governor
Reading Prison

With reference to the warrant issued today for the transfer of the Alien Nicholas de Tscherriadeiff [sic] to Newcastle Prison for the purpose of Deportation, please note that he should arrive there in good time before the 17th instant.

The man should be informed by you that (1) it is intended to send him to Russia within the next few days and he can be allowed a visit from any relative if he wishes and (2) if he wants to get any warm clothes for the voyage, which is desirable – or money etc, he should take immediate steps to have them sent either to your Prison before the date on which he is to be transferred or after that date to Newcastle Prison.

J F Wall

Noted and prisoner duly informed. He is provided with clothing and money, and the transfer was carried out today.
C M Morgan

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

A pathetic last letter

Florence Vansittart Neale was saddened to receive a posthumous letter from a young pilot who had been shot down a few months earlier.

Florence Vansittart Neale
8 July 1917

Hear through Manchester we have brought down 11 machines. Got Reg Lownds’ last letter to me just before he was killed – very pathetic – found in blotter.

William Hallam
8th July 1917

Up at 20 past 5 and to work from 6-1. It rained hard all day long. When I got home at dinner time, as I had got wet through, I washed and changed as soon as I got in. After dinner I had a cigar and a sleep. We had a Tasmanian soldier in again to dinner and tea – Donald Blackwell – such a nice fellow.

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

“Before the sun sets, the man whom you wish to help may have passed away from earth and from the reach of your help”

The Church of England Men’s Society helped support soldiers by their work (alongside similar organisations) providing places of rest and recreation behind the lines.

S. Giles Branch

A Meeting of the branch will be held in the parish room, on Tuesday, December 12th at 8.30 p.m., to consider the report of the Annual Conference. Any member wishing to read the report before that meeting, I would be pleased to send a copy.

The Archbishop of York appeals for subscriptions for more huts for our troops. Lieut. Stanley, the agent in charge of the C.E.M.S. on the western front, speaking at the Manchester Conference, said,

“You as a society have provided a most noble work in providing huts at the front, a long chain of huts from Ypres in the north to the banks of the Somme in the south. You were asked to provide a sum of £12,000. Up to date, September 27th, you have provided £16,180. I am going to ask you to double those figures. We have been asked to supply 80 huts at once. The huts are essential. Do not delay. Before the sun sets, the man whom you wish to help may have passed away from earth and from the reach of your help.”

The President of the Reading federation, the Rev.F.J.C. Gillmor, will be pleased to receive subscriptions for the above, or may be sent to the hon. Secretary of the branch,

H.J. HILDERLEY, 65 Pell Street.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P96/28A/33)

The bravest man in the trenches

Many of the former pupils of Reading School were serving with distinction.


Military Cross

Temp. 2nd Lieut. F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berks Regiment.- For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy twice attacked under cover of liquid fire, 2nd Lieut. Edwards showed great pluck under most trying circumstances and held off the enemy. He was badly wounded in the head while constructing a barricade within twenty-five yards of the enemy.

2nd Lieut. (Temp. Lieut.) W/C. Costin, Gloucester Regiment. – For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy penetrated our front line he pushed forward to a point where he was much exposed, and directed an accurate fire on the trench with his trench guns. It was largely due to his skill and courage that we recaptured the trench. An Old Boy of Reading School, he won a scholarship at St. John’s College. Oxford.

2nd Lieut. D.F.Cowan.

Killed in Action.

Lieut. Hubert Charles Loder Minchin, Indian Infantry, was the eldest of three sons of the late Lieut-Col. Hugh Minchin, Indian Army, who followed their father into that branch of the service, and of whom the youngest was wounded in France in May, 1915. Lieutenant Minchin, who was 23 years old, was educated at Bath College, Reading School, and Sandhurst. After a probationary year with the Royal Sussex Regiment, he was posted to the 125th (Napier’s) Rifles, then at Mhow, with whom he served in the trenches.

After the engagement at Givenchy on December 20th, 1914, he was reported missing. Sometime later an Indian Officer, on returning to duty from hospital, reported that he had seen Lieut. Minchin struck in the neck, and killed instantly, when in the act of personally discharging a machine-gun against the enemy. The Indian officer has now notified that he must be believed to have fallen on that day.
2nd lieut.

F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berkshire Regiment, awarded the military cross, died of wounds on August 10th. He was 23 years of age, and the youngest son of the late Capt. H.H. Edwards, Royal Navy, and Mrs. Edwards, of Broadlands, Cholsey. He was educated at Reading School and the City and Guilds College, Kensington. He had been on active service 10 months. His Adjutant wrote:

“He was the bravest man in the trenches. All the men say he was simply wonderful on the morning of August 8th. We lost a very gallant soldier and a very lovable man.”


“He worked his own passage home to enable him to serve his King and country”

Large numbers of young men had gone out from Cookham Dean on active service. Sadly, more had fallen in action.

The Vicar’s Letter

The May issue of the Magazine brings with it the publication of the various Parish Accounts for the twelve months ended on March 31st. It will be seen that on the Church Expenses (Churchwardens’) Account there is a balance due to treasurer of £4 18s 6d. Owing to the number of young men on Active Service, the Congregations have been smaller and the Collections less than in former years, and this doubtless to a great extent accounts for the deficit.

Roll of Honour.

Sincere sympathy will be felt with the parents and gallant brothers of Private R. Piercey (Australian Contingent), who was killed at the Front on April 23rd. Private Piercey went out to Australia some years ago. It is with sincere regret also that we record the death of Capt. Jackson, whose name has for months past been on our Supplementary List. Capt. Jackson was a nephew of our friend Mr R. T. Jackson, of ‘Lynwood’, Cookham Dean. The following, taken from The Church Times, will interest our readers:-

Capt. Dudley Jackson, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who died on April 13th from wounds received on March 31st, was the eldest son of the Rev. Gerald H. Jackson, of Hasfield Rectory, Gloucester. Obtaining a commission in the Manchester Militia, he served in the Boer War, after which he served in the Johannesburg Mounted Police, then took mining in S. Rhodesia. At the outbreak of war in 1914, sending his wife and child before him to England, he worked his own passage home, under great hardships to one in his position, as a coal trimmer in a steamship, to enable him to serve his King and country. He was at once appointed to a company in his old regiment (3rd Manchesters), with which he went to France in May 1915. Later he was transferred to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Capt. Jackson married, in 1912, Ethel Grace, elder daughter of Mr Medcalf, of Capetown, and leaves one son.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P43B/28A/11)

Morning hate

Percy Spencer wrote to his just-married sister Florence to report on life quartered in a civilian village just behind the lines – and close enough to be at serious risk.

My dear Sister

Last night I moved back here. We weren’t very close up, but quite close to what has been our front line, as you can imagine it wasn’t a very cheerful place. All these villages are more or less in ruins, but still a lot of the people remain amongst the ruins and live in the cellars. The children play about in the shell holes and make miniature dugouts.

Yesterday morning the Bosche suddenly began throwing shells just over our roof and into the field behind. We happened to be upstairs at the time and experienced all the delightful uncertainty of “will it hit us; won’t it hit us”. From below grandmothers and mothers burst out, rounded up their various charges and went to ground. Far straying youngsters stopped their play and came pounding along home. And then the gentlemen across the way suddenly came to the end of their morning hate, and peace reigned again pretty nearly all day. But just when we were due to move off, everything was cancelled; an attack was expected near us and there was nothing to do after we had rearranged all our dispositions but to sit tight and wait for the music to begin. The previous night 5 pm had been the chosen hour and the Bosch had made a dart which had fizzled out with many losses to them and no loss of ground to us. But last night they apparently thought it better of it anyway, no attack developed and about 8 pm I moved down here and opened shop again in a larger room. The only thing against the place is that it’s riddled with shell splinters – a shell having pitched on the corner of the doorstep.

You were very generous with the wedding cake; it was excellent. After thinking it over I came to the conclusion that it was no use my trying the dream test, and eat the cake there and then, assisted by sundry sappers of the Signal Section who were all in favour of my applying the dream test, especially as I haven’t a pillow, and the cake wouldn’t have been much improved in mixing with my hair.
All our fellows who got knocked out wounded when I lost my kit are at home in various hospitals, one on Manchester, another in Liverpool, and three or four in London: one in Barts, badly hit in the legs.
Thank you for the Jacobs books. I get very little undisturbed time and they are just the sort of thing for us. You’d be surprised how I’m asked to lend them round. Anything that isn’t about the war is so welcome.

Well, I’m going to close for the present.

On second thoughts, I’ll hold on; the post has just arrived; three big bags around which half a dozen eager boys are scrambling, and here comes my share…

Yours ever

Letter from Percy Spencer to his sister Florence (D/EZ177/7/4/49-50)

First impressions: Sydney Spencer’s first evening in Harwich

Sydney Spencer starts work for the YMCA at Harwich alongside his friend Kenneth “Jumbo” Oliphant, and reports on his first evening:

Friday 11th
At the Royal Naval Sailors Home: Harwich

I arrived at Russell Square to meet Oliphant at 11.30 but he did not turn up till 12.30, as the telegram which I sent him stating the hour as 11.30 had arrived to him stated as 12.30. …Harwich is a very dirty squalid place from what Jumbo & I saw of it last night when we arrived at 9.30. There are nine of us here altogether counting the leader Mr Daldy with whom we came down from town. … Both Jumbo and I are a little disappointed at the fact that we are housed instead of being under canvas. I was looking forward to the tent sleeping just as an experience. All our bedding which we brought with us is now of course not wanted as beds are supplied us. Also the early hours which I was expecting are not kept here, the members of this house apparently not getting up till 5 o’clock for breakfast. Jumbo & I sleep in separate rooms which makes it impossible for us to have our quiet times together.

I begin my work today under the care of a Mr Hayes (who is an Oxford man), & I go with him about a mile out of Harwich for a place I think called Pontisbury. It is right among the trenches so I ought to see some interesting sights as well as just sell “pop”. The man who sleeps with me is from a college in Manchester and he knows a lot of Hindus at Oxford, among them Raju, having lived with him for a fortnight. He is heavily interested in Hindus and was to have gone off for the YMCA to India to a hall in Calcutta which has about 16 Hindu students, & work among them.

Friday evening
I have spent the day from 9.30 right on till 6 pmbehind the counter at the camp at Packerton. It has been a weird sort of day full of extraordinary experiences. In this room there were collected sometimes about thirty or more “tommies”. It is extraordinary how quiet and orderly they all are. They sit & write their letters, read the papers and have their refreshments, and give not the slightest bother at all. They all seem to be aware of the benefit they receive from having this Y.M.C.A. shelter to come to, & accordingly respect the institution and do all they can by natural and almost pretty little courtesies to show their appreciation. One or another with a sheepish smile will bring a few cups back left on the table, or will say, when teaspoons are scarce, “never mind that, I’ll use my mate’s”, & so on. Studying the faces of these men, one sees a great deal more which indicates latent intellectual abilities than one might expect. Some have a native charm about them & the expressions on their faces sometimes show keen intelligence or lively interest & appreciation. We sell here to the men, cakes and buns, tea & coffee, and the ubiquitous “ginger pop”; paper and envelopes are supplied free of charge, & we sell stamps & postal orders to those who want them.

(Diary of Sydney Spencer, 11 September 1914 (D/EX801/12)