“A horse flesh shop has opened here now but I notice a good many more people were outside than in”

Food shortages had led to an attempt to sell horsemeat to the British – who were not keen.

15th February 1918

Down to Ship to pay A.S.E. then got our meat – a piece of pork. 5lbs to last us all the week. A horse flesh shop has opened here now but I notice a good many more people were outside than in.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

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Women tip the Tommies to shop for them as they can get ham & cheese where the women can’t

Still training in Wiltshire, Percy Spencer wanted a special lamp to take back to the Front. He had also had a surprise reunion with younger brother Sydney – and was unimpressed with their other brother Harold’s attempts to sponge on good-natured Sydney.

21st Res Battalion London Regiment
G Lines
Chiseldon Camp
Nr Swindon

Feb 11, 1918

My dear WF

I’ve just returned from 48 hours leave, a frightful scramble, but the break is worth it.

Luckily I was able to catch Dot in town and we went together to “General Pat” at the Haymarket, after trying without success to get into the Albert Hall to hear Carrie Tubb, Ivor Foster & Harry Dearth. She is very much better I’m glad to say.

As I was seeing her off at Paddington, Sydney turned up, and I persuaded him to take his luggage out of the train and stay with me the night in my digs. We hadn’t met for over a year so I was very glad to see him again. He doesn’t seem to have altered a scrap.

We had a talk about Harold, and Sydney is sending me a letter about him. Apparently Harold looks on Sydney as an investment from which he is entitled to expect an income. It’s too preposterous.

I expect my embarkation leave pretty soon now – probably about the time Sydney will be with you. I suppose I may come too if I have a ration card, but please let me know dear, as I don’t wish to crowd you, or add to your food expenditure. In London though the women tip the Tommies to shop for them as they can get ham & cheese where the women can’t.

All last week I was upon battalion duties and lost touch with my boys, and it was very disheartening this morning to find that they had started off badly. However I’ll soon get them going again I hope.

With my dear love to you both

Yours ever
Percy

Percy to Florence
Feb 11, 1918
My dear WF

The lamp is an ORILUX, made by J. H. STEWARD Ltd, 406, STRAND, LONDON. The price including spare bulb 25/- (probably more now).

It is a first rate long life lamp, well protected from weather, most suited for wearing on a belt, military fashion, but quite suitable for carrying by hand. I think, however, Stewards could show more suitable hand lamps.

Yours ever
Percy

Letters from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/11-13)

The general condition of strain consequent on the war

The Anglican Community of St John Baptist, whose headquarters was at Clewer, always fasted during Lent. But the food shortages meant they had to impose a different regime this year.

10 February 1918

The following directions were sent to all the Houses of the Community with reference to the rule of fasting to be observed during the coming Lent this year.

“In consequence of the general condition of strain consequent on the war, the Warden & Mother feel that the usual Lenten rule cannot be kept this year.

There will be dry bread for breakfast only on Wednesdays & Fridays for the first 4 weeks.

The second meatless day will be observed according to the rules of the Government (i.e. according to the days on which the Government prohibits meat to be sold in different places.)

There will be some kind of plain pudding every day.

The regulation as to no pastry being used must be in abeyance (because it has been found necessary sometimes to use pastry to make the meat allowance sufficient).

At breakfast and tea whatever can be most easily obtained should be provided, such as porridge, marmalade, jam, margarine, etc.

On Ash Wednesday there should be dry bread for breakfast & tea as usual, the rest of the food as on meatless days.”

The mitigation of the usual Lenten Rule has been sanctioned by the Bishop, whom the Warden consulted on the subject.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

Growls and Curses at food restrictions and profiteering

The Welsh Liberal politician David Thomas, newly created Viscount Rhondda (1856-1918), was in charge of the food rationing programme. Shortages were beginning to hit home, even at the lavish tables of Oxbridge colleges, while the government was encouraging communal feeding at National Kitchens.

29 Barton Road
6 Feb. ‘18
Right dear old man

Rhondda does his best to increase our discomfort. (Is he a Caius man, by the by?) There is a patriotic Mrs Goodchild, now at your Pepper’s Farm, who has taken a fancy to the Signora, and has permitted her to register for Butter. Mrs G is something of an authority in butter, and her uxorious spouse has just bought her a couple of £70 milch cows, for the better carrying out of her hobby: and great has been the press of University ladies to register with her – far more than she can accept. And so all was well. We confronted the future with peace – Then came a Rhondda ukase that all farmers must sell their butter to grocers, and the Public buy it nowhere except at a shop. More Profiteering! I had hitherto bought mine from an old lady, who sells vegetables from a cart, and possesses one cow – which by this time should be dry.

Growls and Curses. Perhaps they reached his lordship’s ears. For now we learn (so the Signora informs me) that He sanctions direct dealing with farmers and d— the Middleman.

But you should see the straits for Meat. One Sunday was Jointless. Warrington sent it on Monday instead. At the Trinity High Table there are two meatless days in the week: but they have choice fish then, turbot, larges soles, etc. 2 more, they have game and poultry – and 3, meat. But always they have as much in quantity, as many helps as you desire. Prof. Levis is my authority. I haven’t dined yet.

A communal kitchen has been started at Gresham College with cells in various parts of the town – one is near us, and Florence was appealed to, twice, to serve. The first time she refused: but on the second effort she offered to go each Monday, or, if herself prevented, to send Ann. (You remember Ann, who is a capital parlour maid.) “You won’t hear any more of that, Mrs Image”: said Mabel Lassetter. And she didn’t. This apparently is NOT the view of Rhondda, who deprecates any hint of charity or patronage, and wishes the kitchen to be called National, instead of Communal. And we hear that all ranks, Maids and Mistresses, are serving them in London. Florrie holds the like views, and she rubbed them in well, before she left.

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

“The teachers might be trusted to give all necessary instruction”

On 4 January the Newbury Borough Education Committee had agreed to let the government’s new propaganda body talk to Newbury schoolchildren. But it proved to be controversial.

January 29 1918

Food Control Meat Ration

The Mayor mentioned the work of the Local Food Control Committee and the necessity which had arisen for restricting the supply of meat to 1 lb per head per week for all persons over 9 years of age, and ½ lb for those under that age, to be supplied on the production of the sugar tickets.

Education Committee

Alderman Rankin moved the adoption of the report of the 4th January, but expressed his disagreement with the clause in the report with reference to the sending by the South Berks Committee of the National War Aims Committee of a speaker to address the children of the Newbury Elementary Schools on the subject of National War Aims, seconded by Councillor Parfitt.

Alderman Rankin withdrew his motion for the adoption of the report, which was then moved by Councillor Stradling. Seconded by Councillor Parfitt.

Alderman Rankin then moved as an amendment,

“That the paragraph in the Education Committee’s report re War Aims Committee’s request be altered to read as follows: That when the proposed leaflet has been approved by the Education Committee, the Education Committee empowers them to recommend the teachers to explain to the Senior boys the War Aims as lately defined by the Prime Minister and President Wilson.

Seconded by Councillor Pratt.

Alderman Lucas supported the motion, and considered that the teachers might be trusted to give all necessary instruction to the children attending the schools. Councillors Geater and Parfitt opposed the amendment, which on being put, was carried, and the report as amended was then put and carried.

Newbury Borough Council minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

“We hope none have been forgotten”

Christmas presents were sent out again this year, with even wounded soldeiers helping to wrap them.

Warfield

CHRISTMAS PRESENT FUND FOR WARFIELD MEN ON SERVICE.

A meeting was called early in October and a Committee appointed as follows: the Vicar and Mrs. Thackery, Mr. H. Lawrence, Mr. and Mrs. Crocker, Mrs. Crailsbam, Miss Leach, and Miss Hardcastle (Hon. Treasurer.)

The appeal for funds again met with a warm response as will be seen by the figures given below. Special thanks are due to Mr. Pearce and Mr. W. Lovejoy, who took much pains in collecting from a large part of the parish.

The contents of the parcels were chosen by Mrs. Thackery and Mrs. Crocker, and wee as follows, the total number of parcels being 101. For men at the Front, 77 – sock,s writing case, soap, trench powder, potted meat. For men in England, 24 — socks, handkerchief and writing case, potted meat or soap, chocolate. The parcels were packed at the Brownlow Hall by the ladies of the Committee assited by a few others, and each one contained a card with the words: “With all good Christmas wishes from your friends at Warfield.” A great many acknowlededgments have already been received by Mr. Lawrence, all expressing much satisfaction with the parcels and appreciation of the remembrance.

The balance, after paying all expenses of the parcels, was expended on presents for the widows of the six men who have laid down their lives during this year.

Account of the Fund.
Received. Balance from 1916 £1 9 7
Proceeds of Whist Drive 6 10 2
Subscriptions, 1917 13 0 6
£21 0 3
Spent. Contents of Parcels 15 12 1
Paper and String 0 9 1
Postage 4 4 0
Presents to 6 Widows 0 15 0
£21 0 3 ‘

The Warfield Schools War Savings Association have now £207 12s. 0d. to their credit. This is mainly due to the thrift of the majority of the 113 members who have paid their contributions each Tuesday without a break.

Bracknell

CHRISTMAS PRESENTS to the Men Serving.

Parcels have been despatched to all out Bracknell and Chavey Down men serving abroad; we hope none have been forgotten. The money to pay for these presents had been collected by many kind workers, and a great number of people made some contribution. The parcels were packed and sent from the Vicarage, a number of people, including some of the wounded soldiers, helping to do them up.

Cranbourne

SOLDIERS’s PRESENTS

A Christmas present has been sent from Cranbourne to each of our men serving in His Majesty’s forces. A Christmas card has also been posted with a note saying that a present has been sent in a separate parcel. To defray the cost, £7 was contributed from the takings at the recent concert, donations amounting to £5 10s. 0d. have been received, and a house to house collection realised £6 8s. 0 1/2d. We are grateful to Miss Dodge, Miss Jennings and Miss Smith for their kindness in making this collection.

Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, January 1918 (D/P 151/281/10)

A new price for butter

Newbury implemented price controls to stop retailers cashing in on shortages.

January 1st 1918

Home Defence Corps

A letter was read from Second Lieutenant F A Greet asking for the support of the Council to an effort to increase the number of the Newbury Corps so that it might be continued as a separate unit instead of being merged in the Reading Corps.

Food Control Committee

The report of the meetings of the Food Control Committee was referred to from the chair. The Mayor also mentioned that the steps taken by the Committee with respect to the distribution of margarine.

Report of the Local Food Control Committee (appended)

Meetings of this committee have been held on the 29th October, the 5tyh, 12th, 19th and 26th November, and the 3rd, 10th and 19th December.

In October last the Committee fixed the price of English Farmhouse Butter at 2s 4d per lb. subsequently at the meeting on the 19th December, the Committee having fixed a rate for Blended and Imported Irish Butter at 2s 6d per lb, the Committee decided to raise the price of English Farmhouse Butter to 2s 5d per lb….

Potato Licenses.

The Committee have granted licenses to various applicants as wholesalers and retailers. By agreement with the Butchers, the maximum retail prices have been fixed for the sale of Meat within the Area.

It having become necessary to appoint an Officer whose special duty it would be to see that the Orders of the Food Controller were carried into effect, the Committee appointed Mr G W Stillman as Enforcement Officer at a salary of 30s per week….

Complaints having been received as to the sale of Matches and Bread in contravention of the Orders dealing with these articles, prosecutions were ordered by the Committee, and the cases were subsequently dealt with before the Justices.

Newbury Borough minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

“2 Divisions ran away & so caused Cambrai defeat”

Florence Vansittart Neale was puzzled as how to manage Bisham Abbey with less food available, while the news – and rumours – continued to fascinate her.

1 January 1918
Worried morning over rations. Very difficult but must do it. Edith arranging next Sunday’s “chain of prayer”.

January 1918 [inserted at front, no date]

Hear Haig in London, very sick about things. He had refused to send Divisions to Italy, but had to. Wanted to resign. He said a great deal too much fuss made about Sir J Byng’s push & also a great deal about the subsequent retreat!

Hear we send up stuff against [balloons?] which make the men so deadly seasick they have to come down. On return Irish leave this Xmas, 1000s stuck at Holyhead 5 days. Too many submarines there. At last escorted over by American destroyer & gun boats.

Hear 2 Divisions ran away & so caused Cambrai defeat. Hear General [illegible] sent back after it., then returned by Army Council & again sent back after St Quentin retreat! Hunter-Weston “honouring heroic deed” (drunken Tommie). Foch becoming Generalissimo (March 1918).

Meat & butter rations begin.

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

Pork and potato pancakes on Christmas Day – but it will cost extra

Interned foreigners in Reading were to have a special menu on Christmas Day.

The interned aliens have asked for the Christmas Day diet to be as in attached list.

1. Pork – the contractor can supply this at 1/4 per lb against 1/3 per lb for beef. The ingredients for stuffing would be extra – probable total extra cost 8/-.
2. Potato pancakes. Cost about 8/-.
3. They can buy these except ham & sausages (if they can get them), which I have struck on account of food restrictions.
C M Morgan
Gov.

The Governor of Reading P of I
1. The diet should be so arranged that the Christmas Day fare takes the place of the following on the dietary scale: Bread, potatoes, hot meat (mutton), peas or beans and pudding. That is, to avoid their having three puddings in one week. There is no objection to pork for those who desire it, but the extra cost as well as the stuffing they should pay for themselves.
2. The potato pancakes would be an extra. There is no objection to this, but again they should pay the cost themselves.
3. There is no objection to the purchase of the articles mentioned under this paragraph (ham and sausage being omitted). Wine is not allowed.
S J Wall, Secretary 14-12-17

Noted, but the authorised diet is three puddings per week. Is the order allowing men beer or wine each day cancelled? I’ve received no notification and men have it.
C M Morgan, Gov
16-12-17

Three puddings per week must not be exceeded.
Extra wine is not allowed, beyond the daily allowance.
JW 21-12-17

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

Shot at dawn for “cowardice” caused by shell shock

John Maxwell Image wrote to his friend W F Smith, who was staying at Hindhead in south west Surrey, not far from the big army camp at Aldershot. Normally very gung-ho in support of the war, Image’s compassion had been aroused by stories of court martials and teenagers shot at dawn. The Revd Thomas Pym (1885-1945), in peacetime the chaplain at Image’s college, was serving as an army chaplain.

29 Barton Rd
6 Dec. ‘17
My very dear old man

The military cars to and fro Aldershot must surely be more or less an interesting sight.

The poor Tommy comes under this [?not clear] penalty quite frequently. Not often from cowardice, poor boy. Most often (I believe) it is from slinking off to some girl in the rear which is called “desertion”, tho’ he would have returned right enough.

Just before I was married there was shown to me a letter from a young Trin. Officer at the Front, describing a visit from one of our Trin. Chaplains, begging this young friend of his to “pray for him”, for he had to pass the night with a boy of 18 who was to be shot at dawn. Pym spoke then of a night with another poor child (of 17!) who had been shot the previous week, for what the CM was pleased to style Cowardice – though he had twice behaved with exceptional bravery, and it was only after seeing his two brothers killed at his side that on this occasion his nerve broke down. In an officer it would have been called “shell-shock”, and the interesting sufferer sent home to a cushy job in England. I know of 2 thus treated. Pym’s words brought the tears to my eyes. I see that he has told the story (slightly altered) in a book that has recently come out by him, Characteristics of the Army in Flanders.

Sir Arthur Yapp at the Guildhall last Friday. The Signora went (non ego) and returned enthusiastic – she and her Cook – over the great man’s dignity and sweetness. That evening he lectured the students (and I believe also them of Girton) in Newnham College – and left by the 9.9 for London.

One remark of his: “The vessels sunk by the U-boats during the week ending Nov. 24 (I forget how many that was) might have carried enough bread to feed Cambridge for nearly 7 years, or enough meat for 8 ½ years, or enough sugar for 64 years.”

He said that Food Tickets have changed Germany to a nation of forgers. He dreaded the like fate for England.

Yours ever
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

Russian news horrible

It was bad news at home (with additional voluntary food restrictions) and abroad, with more news of the revolution in Russia.

12 November 1917

More food vol: rations [into?] bread rather more, meat less, cereals and fats. Butter to all limited.

Russian news horrible. Petrograd in hands of rebels & Lenin!!

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

“Some excess in food has been going on” – but families should get more sugar

Food restrictions were well under way in Newbury.

October 18th, 1917.

Maximum Prices

The Committee have fixed the maximum retail price of milk (delivered) as follows:

For the month of October, 2s per gallon, and 6d per quart, and from November to March inclusive, 2s 4d per gallon, and 7d per quart, prices for all other measures to be in proportion.

The Committee have under consideration the question of Meat prices and Butter.

Sugar Distribution Scheme (Manufacturers, Caterers, Institutions)

Very valuable assistance has been given by a member of the Committee, not a member of the Council, in dealing with these applications. Many more applications have been received from Manufacturers than estimated, and a great deal of delay has been caused in issuing the vouchers, owing to the difficulty of getting further supplies from the supplying department.

The rationing under the scheme, of Manufacturers and Caterers, should mean a very appreciable increase in the amount of sugar available for private consumption. The Committee would put on record that such rationing has been carried out strictly under the rules of the Food Control Department, that is for Manufacturers, 11 ½ per cent of their 1915 supply, for the period covered by the immediate authorities, and for Caterers and Institutions, on the basis of 2-7ths of an oz. per meal, with certain modifications to meet special restrictions such as those against afternoon teas for people who live out in Institutions, and allowances against the sugar used in cakes in certain classes of catering business.

Householders Applications

These applications on the whole are not very incorrectly [sic] filled in, a good many being traced who had omitted the address, by names of schools being inserted on the forms. Voluntary assistance has been given in filing applications, writing envelopes, etc, and all sugar cards should be out early this week.

Hotels, Restaurants

We regret to say that the registers required to be kept under the “Public Meals Order” have not been very well kept in many cases, and that some excess in food has been going on. We hope that this is now stopped.

Food Economy Campaign

The Committee have received a communication from the Ministry of Food asking them to set up a special committee for this purpose, but they have decided to deal with such a campaign, as the question arises, at meetings of the full committee.

We received 48 applications for licences to sell sugar, from retailers, 47 licences have been granted, one application being refused by the Committee on the grounds that no legitimate retail business was in existence.

Flour Compensation

The Committee and their staff were given a good deal of work in connection with this matter.

Potato Licences

The Committee received a large number of applications for dealing in potatoes, the majority of which have been dealt with. They have some late applications which have just come in.

Members of the Committee for the Sugar Distribution Scheme had to meet on an average twice a week, to deal with the above, and also in regard to Flour Compensation, and other details of their work.

Newbury Borough: Report of the Food Control Committee (N/AC1/2/8)

The War has brought home to us our dependence on our daily food in a way unknown to most of us before

The vicar of Maidenhead All Saints reminded his flock about the work of merchant seamen bringing food to the country, and of church workers comforting the troops close behind the lines.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-…

St Peter’s Harvest Festival is to be held at the end of this month (September 30th)… And this Harvest we have, indeed, much for which to be thankful. The War has brought home to us our dependence on our daily food in a way unknown to most of us before. We have to thank God for the labours of our farm workers and allotment holders, who, in the face of an inclement Spring, have greatly increased our food supply; for the valour of our Navy, that has convoyed our store ships past many perils; for the steadfastness and courage of our Merchant Sailors, who, risking often sudden death or lingering suffering, have yet dared to go on faithfully bringing grain and meat and other things for the maintenance of our people.

Lastly; sometimes people ask me for the name of some Charity to which they may give a donation, outside the Parish. Just now few deserve more support than the Church Army Recreation Hut Fund. There are over 800 in full work. All are under the auspices of the Church, and special provision is made for those who wish for a quiet place for prayer or study. They are, also, available and used for Church Services. I feel thy deserve great support, for, excellent as the work of the Y.M.C.A. usually is, these Church Army Huts make a still greater claim on our generosity as Church people; that our men should not feel that the Church has in any way neglected them. Any donations should be sent to the Secretary, Church Army Headquarters, 55, Bryanston Street, Marble Arch, London, W.1.

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar
C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, September 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Meat now easier to obtain


The food situation was becoming a little easier.


9 June 1917

The Sub-Warden received orders on the 5th June to report himself to Strensall Camp, York, on the 21st inst.

Instructions have been received with regard to mails to India, which are now to go fortnightly instead of weekly. The first mail under the new system will leave here June 13.

Notice was given that, owing to meat being now easier to obtain, the 2nd meatless day in the week would be given up.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

“The villages have been ruthlessly pillaged, burnt, and razed to the ground”

A Reading man writes of his latest experiences at the front – and the death of a friend.

Our “Boys”

This terrible war has taken from us yet another of our brave soldier lads. Horace Pinker, who quite recently lost his brother and mother, was killed in France on the 5th of April. May the God of all comfort be very near to his father, sisters and brother – to console them in their keen sorrow!

The following extract from a letter sent by Eric Chapman to his mother is especially interesting, as it refers to the circumstances and death of his friend:-

“To return to my personal doings, it is unnecessary of course for me to allude to the German retirement on the western front, seeing that the papers are full of it. As you must have guessed, this has made a great difference to our lives, as we have had to be constantly hot on their heels. At times we come to close quarters with them, but on the whole they do not show much fight, and easily surrender or retire. The country over which we are advancing has been most thoroughly and diabolically destroyed. The villages have been ruthlessly pillaged, burnt, and razed to the ground. Not a thing of any value has been left behind by these barbarians. Even the young fruit trees have been deliberately maimed and rendered incapable of bearing fruit. Naturally this has made it most hard for us following in their tracks, as they intended it should, but we are able to overcome all difficulties and continue our victorious advance. There is not the slightest doubt we are winning by force of arms and smashing the Huns back to their own country. May the end come suddenly and speedily!

“Our battalion has just returned from a special attack, in which it distinguished itself, and about which the Colonel has given permission to write, so I am quite in order in relating a few facts without giving valuable information away. Our objective was a large village, fortified and held by the Huns. We commenced the attack in the early hours of the morning, and had to advance a distance of over 2,000 yards, before we came to grips with the enemy. It was snowing slightly at the time and a thin layer covered the ground as the men moved forward in waves to the attack. After we got fairly going I felt strangely exhilarated, and, much to my surprize quite unconcerned by the possibility of danger. The Huns yelled when they saw us coming, but our fellows yelled still louder, and never wavered a moment under the enemy’s fire. Barbed wire impeded our movements to a small extent, but in short time we had reached the village and were careering like mad through the streets. The Huns did not stand a ghost of a chance then, as our men paid back old scores, and in a few seconds they were doing their best to retreat. Many got back to tell the tale to Hindenburg, but I am thankful to say many not. It was not long before the whole village was in our hands, and after we had consolidated our gain we had some sport looking for souvenirs. The most interesting thing to us was the Germans’ rations which they left behind. Some of the men ate them, but although I am not dainty on this job, I did not have! The meat looked tempting enough, but had the undoubted characteristics of worn-out cab horse!

“I am glad to say our casualties on this occasion were comparatively few, although I regret to have to relate the death in action of Horace Pinker. He was killed by a bullet, and died before the stretcher–bearers could get him to the dressing station. It is very sad for his people, but they can have the satisfaction of knowing that he died bravely and nobly, and was accorded a decent burial.”

It has long been felt that we have not done all that we might for those of our numbers who are taking part in this bitter struggle. At Christmas our young people collected enough to send parcels to all on the Institute Roll of Honour. Now it is wished to do the same for the others, and the kind help and generous support of all our friends if asked. We feel confident that this appeal will not be made in vain! Contributions may be sent to Miss Gough, Mrs. Hamilton Moss, Mrs. Streeter, or Miss Austin.

Trinity Congregational magazine, May 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

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