“May it please God that the Germans may advance no further”

As the need for men at the front continued to increase, older men were now being called on.

Joan Daniels
June 1st 1918

The news is not too good today, the Germans are advancing and are now 47 miles from Paris again. However, may it please God that they may advance no further….

Daddie went to be medically examined & is in Grade 1. Of course it is nice to know that he is healthy but I would rather he had been in Grade 3. Oh may it please God to leave him with us.

Sydney Spencer
Saturday 1 June 1918

Today I took over a large platoon – for me. Under the new arrangements there are 3 platoons per company, Nos 5, 6 & 7. No 5 is under Dawkins & Hervey. No 6 under myself. No 7 under Peyton & Kemp. I have now 2 LG sections, 2 Rifle sections & an employed section only shewing on paper. Sergeant Timby & Sergeant Seeley are the two additions to my platoon as NCOs.

Parades for today. Company training in morning & march in evening, or rather afternoon from 2 till 3.20. CO’s inspection at 3.30. After inspection paid out company with Dillon. Had a guest night. Knights & Cook came in. After dinner A company came in in force & my duties as Mess President became fast & furious to say the least of it.

Percy Spencer
1 June 1918

Another fine day. Battalion relieved 24th in line. I went to depot near [Coutary] with Gray. Bailey got kicked & went to hospital.

Diaries of Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1); Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

Fit for Foreign Service but not for General Service

There was a mixed result for the headmaster of Warfield School.

5th March 1917
The result of the medical board exam at Reading Barracks is that I am placed in category B1. I know hold a certificate signed by the medical military officer. The category means that I am fit for Foreign Service but not for General Service and if called up will be placed in Garrison Units or Provisional Units. I have reported this result to the Berkshire Education Committee.

Warfield CE School log book (C/EL26/3, p. 365)

Fit for General Service or not?

A Berkshire head teacher faced the prospect of joining the army.

1st March 1917
Received from the recruiting office Wokingham this morning a notification to report myself at Reading Barracks for re-medical examination so they will know whether I am fit for General Service or not. I will enter the result on Monday.

Warfield CE School log book (C/EL26/3, p. 364)

In honour of a teenage hero

John Travers Cornwell (1900-1916) was a teenage sailor who was the youngest winner of the Victoria Cross in World War I (two younger teenagers won the award in the 19th century.) Aged just 16, he was fatally wounded during the Battle of Jutland, but single handedly manned the guns for the last part of the battle. He was given a posthumous VC, and although he had no Berkshire connections, his youth and courage inspired the mayor of Windsor to order a half holiday for schools in the borough.

21st September 1916

Mr Packwood is absent having been called to Oxford by the military authorities for medical examination.

The school closed at noon, the mayor having given a half holiday in honour of John Travers Cornwell V.C.

Windsor Royal Free Boys’ School log book (C/EL72/3, p. 159)

Rejected for active service

A student (probably a pupil teacher) was rejected for the army, enabling him to go on to further education.

19th September 1916.
T.E.Turner was absent today to attend a medical inspection at Reading Barracks by order of the military authorities. He was however rejected for “active service” and will be able to proceed to college in October.

Aldermaston School log book (88/SCH/3/3)

A medical exam at Reading Barracks

The head teacher of a Basildon School was called up, pending medical fitness.

6th September 1916

Head teacher absent from duty during the afternoon, in order to be medically examined at Reading barracks.

Lower Basildon National School log book (C/EL7/2, p. 171)

More useful at school than in the army

The headmaster of the church primary school in Warfield looked likely to escape military service, as he was not fit enough to go to the front.

10th May 1916

I was attested for military duty at Bracknell on December 10 and reported myself at Reading Barracks on May 6. The military doctor placed me in category 11 Field Service at Home. A letter from the Berkshire Education Committee received this morning says that the recruiting officer will not call me up without reference to the Board of Education Whitehall. It is the opinion of the military authorities that I am more useful at school than I would be if taken for Field Service at Home.

Warfield CE School log book (C/EL26/3, p. 342)

A teacher is medically examined for the army

Mr Crook, headmaster of Yattendon Church of England School, was ready to join the army:

Sept. 9

This afternoon I left school at 1.45 to go to Newbury for the Army Medical Examination. Lessons interchanged with Friday afternoon.

Yattendon CE School log book (SCH37/8/3)