“Our memorial will need a great deal of money if it is to be a worthy one. “

Mortimer people were starting to contribute money towards the planned war memorial.

West End – War Memorial

Up to the end of May there has been collected from those who prefer to give in small monthly payments to this object the sum of £16 12s. 5d. Donors must not be dismayed at the thought of the time which must apparently still elapse before peace comes; they must remember that the cost of all materials is still rising and that our memorial will consequently need a great deal of money if it is to be a worthy one.

We would ask those who have elected to give their contributions in a lump sum at the end of the war to take this into earnest consideration and ask themselves whether they should not re-consider their position and set aside a small sum monthly now, in order that their offerings may not be less than those of the people who are contributing now to the collections made each month.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P120/28A/14)

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“I shall always recollect his energy, his enthusiasm, his fresh, clean cheerfulness and his personal example of bravery”

A Mortimer West End NCO was awarded a medal.

West End

We are very glad to hear that Corporal Francis Penny is recovering from his wounds and offer him out hearty congratulations on winning the Military Medal. His commanding officer writes as follows:-

“I am pleased to be able to intimate that he has been awarded the Military Medal for his gallantry in action during the recent withdrawal and seldom has this medal been more finely won. He has earned it, I know, many times before, and I shall always recollect his energy, his enthusiasm, his fresh, clean cheerfulness and his personal example of bravery, with pleasure and with admiration. The Brigadier-General congratulates him on the honour he has won, and on behalf of the Battery I thank him for the distinction he has brought it.”

This is a letter that the parents may well be proud of and we shall share their pride.

Our fund for the Prisoners of War of the Hants Regt. which was open for a month amounted to £10 3s. 6d.

We deeply regret that Percy Merrick has been officially reported missing since March 21st and at the moment of writing there is no further news of him.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P120/28A/14)

Trouble upon trouble

There was sad news for several Mortimer families.

West End

We offer our deep sympathy to the brothers and sisters of Cecil Hall who was mortally wounded in France on January 6th. He was one of those boys for whom everybody had a good word and we all mourn his loss.

We are also sorry to state that the enquiry department of the Red Cross has had to give up all hope of any further news of Osborne Lampert who was reported wounded and missing in Mesopotamia last February; and so we have had to add his name too to our list of those who have made the great sacrifice. May they rest in peace.

At the moment of writing Alfred Awbery in Alexandria and Harry White in France are both reported dangerously ill, so that poor Birch Lane has had trouble upon trouble.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P120/28A/14)

Several wounded since the late terrible fighting

There was worrying news for families in Mortimer West End.

West End

News of our Sailors and Soldiers

It was with deep regret that we heard of the death of Thomas Henry Dicker. He had recently been transferred to the Lincolnshire Yeomanry and was on the “Arcadian” when it was torpedoed and, unhappily, was amongst those lost. We offer our heartfelt sympathy to Mr. and Mrs. Dicker on the loss of their eldest son.

News has been received of several wounded since the late terrible fighting. James Bailey writes cheerily of his wounds and it is good to hear that Arthur Penny’s are notified as slight while Gilbert Cowdry, at the time of writing, has gone to a convalescent home. Mr. Harry Trelawny, after having slight concussion of the brain, went into the line again but is once more in hospital, suffering from shell-shock.

Charles Murrell, R.N., has been home on leave and Alfred Cowdry has joined the Royal Navy.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

Successful war savings in Mortimer West End

Children at Mortimer West End were contributing to the war effort.

West End – War Savings

The school children have started a War Savings Association and we are glad to hear from Miss Phipps, who is doing all the work in connection with it, that it is proving very successful

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, May1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

Our hearts go out in sorrowful sympathy to the families of the dead

More Berkshire men had fallen in the summer’s fierce fighting, including the father of a baby girl.

The War

We have to record three more deaths in France since the big advance began.

Mr. and Mrs. George Hunt had heard indirectly that their son George, affectionately known as Sammy, had been badly wounded on July 1st, but it was not until a month later that official news came from the War Office to say that he had died of his wounds two days after receiving them. We deeply sympathise with Mr. and Mrs. Hunt, and also with the widow, who has a little daughter whom the father never saw.

Percy and Sidney Eatwell are also among those killed. They figure on our Roll of Honour because they are in the civil, though not the ecclesiastical, parish of West End. To their relations and friends too our hearts go out in sorrowful sympathy.

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

“To the last he was doing his duty, and he practically lost his life by his last unselfish and heroic act”

Two Mortimer West End families faced the loss of bereavement. One man died heroically saving a comrade in arms:

West End

It is with a keen feeling of sympathy for the parents that we record two more deaths in the war this month. On May 25th there died in France Corporal John Collis, 1st Batt. Royal Berks Regt. One of the officers of his battalion sends the following account:-

“Being in the Company to which I am attached, I knew Corporal Collis well, and I can assure you he will be greatly missed. He was a first-rate soldier and died bravely. He was wounded and had started to go back to be dressed when one of his comrades was shot, and Corporal Collis immediately went back and bound the other man up. It was while doing this that he was again hit, and this time seriously. We were able to get him away at once and he got back to the hospital, but died shortly afterwards…

He was a fine soldier, and he was beloved and respected here… To the last he was doing his duty, and he practically lost his life by his last unselfish and heroic act when, although badly wounded himself, he went back to bind up a fellow comrade.”

In the Naval Battle in the North Sea on May 31st, Frederick Penny, R.M.L.I. [Royal Marines Light Infantry], went down on the Black Prince.

We are expressing the feelings of everyone in the parish when we say we are proud of these two men and proud to think that their parents have so worthily upheld the example of the country’s other bereaved parents in counting it an honour to have been called upon to give their best for their Country. At the same time we give them our deep sympathy, and pray that John Collis and Frederick Penny may be granted “a place of refreshment, light, and peace” and receive a merciful judgment at the Last Day.

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

A year of horrors unimaginable, and the end not in sight

Across the county, the first anniversary of the declaration of war was solemnly commemorated with religious services.

At Mortimer West End, the services were dominated by the loss of two of its men who had given their lives.

Wednesday, August 4th, was the anniversary of the declaration of war by England, and we held a well-attended service in the evening of that day to pray about the past and the future. The service began with a Memorial for those who had fallen, remembering especially Captain Stephen Field, R.A.M.C., and Frank Goodchild, who went down on the “Good Hope.” Then we joined in intercession for our Rulers, our Army and Navy, and our Allies, the wounded and those tending them, and made an act of penitence for our national sins and shortcomings. The family of the late Captain Field has put up a memorial brass in the church bearing the following inscription:

“In loving memory of Captain Stephen Field, R.A.M.C., who died a prisoner in Germany, April 10th, 1915, aged 34. He was taken prisoner in the retreat from Mons while tending the wounded in a church. ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

The later news which has come shows that the text was true of Captain Field up to the very last, as he laid down his life attending to typhus patients in camp in the midst of appalling conditions.

If any parents should be summoned to France to see a son dangerously wounded (which God grant may not occur) will they communicate at once with the Vicar, who will put them in touch with an organization which will make things easier for them?

At Stratfield Mortimer:
August 4th
The anniversary of the outbreak of war was observed by large congregations at all the services, 7.45 a.m., 2.30 and 7.30 p.m. There was no preaching, only hymns and prayers, but there was impressive evidence of a deep reality and earnestness. And this we hope to see maintained at the two week-day war services throughout the autumn. We should like to see at these weekly services more of parents and friends of Mortimer men who are now at the Front.

All Saints’, Dedworth, reported:

August 4th, the anniversary of the Declaration of War, was kept as a day of solemn Intercession. There was, as far as possible, continual Intercession throughout the day, and Services at different hours. We were glad to see so many were able to take their part at sometime of the day. We hope these days help to make us realize the tremendous need there is for all to intercede humbly every day to God for our nation, our friends, and our foes.

Nonconformists took part as well as Anglicans. Maidenhead Congregational Church announced the town’s nonconformists’ contributions to the day:

A YEAR OF WAR!
It is a whole year since the world’s peace was broken up, and horrors unimaginable before have become our daily meat. And the end is not yet in sight. There are those who prophesy that the end will be as sudden and unexpected as the beginning, and that Christmas will see us settled down once more in ways of peace. Whatever happens, we are convinced that the Allies will not lay down their arms until their warfare is accomplished, and they have lost no jot of their conviction that their chivalrous and Christian struggle on behalf of a great cause will be crowned with a complete and satisfying victory. But it may be that vast sacrifices lie before us, and for those we shall need more and more the continual succours of grace of God. Fortitude must be fed and supported by faith.

We urge upon all our friends the duty of earnest and constant prayer. We ought to pray in private as well as in public services, that our soldiers and generals may be strong, and our rulers wise. We ought to pray for the Church, that it may be rich in counsel, and that it may guide the people to a more solemn faith in God. And we shall need to pray for ourselves, that our faith may not fail, however great the burdens may be that it may be called upon to carry.

A united meeting of the Free Churches of the town for Thanksgiving and Intercession has been arranged to be held in the Congregational Church on Wednesday, August 4th, the Anniversary of the outbreak of war, at 7.30 p.m. Rev. G. Ellis (the new Primitive Methodist Minister) will preside, and a brief address will be given by the Rev. G. D. Mason. We hope the faith and gratitude of Maidenhead Nonconformists will suffice to bring them together in large numbers, and that we shall renew and enlarge our trust in a ruling and guiding Will. Let us not dwell too much on the past, but let us think of our duty now, and let us set our hearts right before Him. When the nation is on its knees, the victory will arrive.

The minister of Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading, whose instincts were opposed to war in general, was less thrilled by the commemorations, although he allowed his congregation to take part in the town’s services.

Wednesday August 4th will see the first anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War. War is not a thing that we rejoice in. Rather do we deplore the necessity for such a dire calamity. But we are in it – righteously, as we believe – and, God helping us, we are determined to see it through to a victorious conclusion. That is the thought that is animating the vast majority of our countrymen at this time, and a demonstration to give it expression on August 4th is now being organised by the Mayor…

Personally I cannot say that I am enamoured of processions and demonstrations at such a time as this; but that is neither here nor there. The thing I do rejoice in is that the religious element is to be prominent in the proceedings, and I hope my friends will help to make it and keep it so. In this connection I desire to draw attention to the United Service (arranged by the Executive Committee of the Free Church Council) which is to be held in our church that day at 5 p.m. Several of the Free Church ministers of the town will take part, and our organist and choir have promised their help. I trust we may see the church crowded for that service.

St John’s Church in Reading reported its own services and the interdenominational town ones:

Wednesday, August 4th, the anniversary of the Declaration of War, was observed among us principally as an occasion for earnest intercession. We began the day with a Celebration of Holy Communion at 5.30 a.m., at which there were 31 communicants, most of whom were on their way to work. At 10.30 a.m. we had a second Celebration, with an address by the Vicar. The hour of this service was fixed with a view to giving mothers an opportunity to come and pray for their sons at the Lord’s own service, and the number that came shewed how greatly they valued the opportunity. It was indeed a wonderful service, and will live long in the memories of those privileged to take part in it.

Later in the day, after Evensong in St Laurence’s Church, attended by the Mayor and Corporation, there was a great procession, in which all the public bodies in the town were represented, ending up with a demonstration in the Market Place, at which, after a short religious service, stirring addresses were delivered by Bishop Boyd-Carpenter and the Lord Chief Justice. St John’s Church was open from 8.30 onwards, and we ended the day with Family Prayers in Church, at which a large number of worshippers were present, thus ending the day as we had begun it – in prayer.

Churches in the Winkfield area also commemorated the anniversary of the war’s start.

ASCOT

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4th, the Anniversary of the Declaration of War, was observed in our Church, as in almost every Church throughout the land, as a day of Intercession before Almighty God in the spirit of deep penitence and true humility. We are thankful to be able to say that the chain of intercession was never allowed to be broken throughout the whole day. The great service of intercession, the Holy Eucharist, was offered at 8 a.m. and at 10.30 a.m.; and some of the grand old Offices of the Church were said: Sext, None, and Compline. The large attendance at all the services was something to be thankful for. It proved that our people have a sincere belief in the power of intercessory prayer and are willing to make an effort to do at least this much for our soldiers and sailors. But it also proved that mane more might, by a little sacrifice in the re-arrangement of their time, attend the Intercession Service which is held every Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. “Orare est laborare” – “to pray is to work,” and intercession for our men is a very important work in which we can all do our share, if we will.

CRANBOURNE

We were very unfortunate as regards the weather in our open air services of Intercession, four of them had to be abandoned owing to the rain. The Intercessions Services on the Anniversary of the Declaration of War were very well attended.

WINKFIELD

The special Services on August 4th were well attended, especially in the evening when we had a full Church; and the congregations were also large on the Sunday following. The anthem, “Lord for thy tender mercies sake,” being well rendered on both morning and evening.

Our thanks are due to the members of the C.E.M.S., who distributed notices of these services, which work was especially valuable in view of the notices in the Magazine being somewhat belated owing to its late issue this month.

Second Lieutenant Wilfred Loyd has just gone to the Front and will we trust be remembered in our prayers.

We are glad to be able to add two more names, Jack Dear and James Winnen to the list of Winkfield men serving, which was printed last month.

We regret to learn that Private R. Nickless has been wounded after having been at the Front only a few days. He has undergone an operation as is now progressing favourably.

The Vicar has sent a copy of the August Magazine to every man whose name is on the list published in that number.

WARFIELD

WAR ANNIVERSARY.- On August 4th there were two early celebrations of Holy Communion at 6.30 and 8, and though a week-day there were thirty communicants. The best attended service however was the open-air service held at Newell Green at 7 p.m. The Choir vested at the Brownlow Hall and preceded by the Processional Cross and followed by the Warfield Scouts made their way to the Cross Roads, where the service was begun by the singing of the National Anthem, followed by a short address by the Vicar on penitence and prayer, after which the hymn “Lord teach us how to pray aright,” was sung; prayers were offered for every Warfield belligerent by name.

The Vicar then asked all present to come up to the Church and to walk in couples and maintain strict silence while Church Litany was recited in procession. Just before reaching the Church the old Hundredth was sung; the service in Church was that sanctioned for use on the first Sunday in the year. The congregation which came in the procession numbered about three hundred. We thank God for His good hand upon us and for the great number whose hearts were touched and whose lips were opened on this solemn day.

The vicar of Warfield planned an open air service to commemorate the first anniversary of the war’s start.

THE VICAR’S LETTER.

MY DEAR FRIENDS AND PARISHIONERS,

Wednesday, August 4th, ought to be a very solemn day for all of us this year, being as you know the Anniversary of the Declaration of War. A great example is being set to us all on that day by our King and Queen Mary by their intention to be present at a solemn Service of Intercession in St. Paul’s Cathedral at noon. What are we going to do? Let the King be represented by all his subjects in Warfield, and St. Paul’s represented by our own Parish Church. The hour of noon be substituted by 7 p.m. Let us have a united open-air service at the Crossways at Newell Green. The National Anthem will be sung, a short address will be given. All our village soldiers will be prayed for by name. The Litany will be recited on our way to Church, where the service will conclude with the special service used on the first Sunday of this year. The Holy Communion will be celebrated that morning at 6.30 and 8.

Anyone who is absent on such an evening I should feel was ashamed of his country, and deserved no blessing from God. Let us all be united about it, and come not in tens but in hundreds and not be afraid to confess the mighty working of God in our midst. This can be done and I want you all to say that it must be done. Let us confess our God and cry mightily to Him. I ask every parishioner to do his or her utmost to bring their neighbours. London has set us all an example, let the country do her part, and may God lift up your hearts to seek His great and abundant blessings in the coming year.

Yours affectionately in Christ,
WALTER THACKERAY.

More privately, the Community of St John Baptist held its own services at the House of Mercy, Clewer.

4 August 1915
Anniversary of our declaration of war with Germany. The Penitents were present at the 7 a.m. Eucharist. War Litany was said by one of the priests at 12; & at Evensong there were special prayers, hymns, & the National Anthem.

Florence Vansittart Neale went with a friend to attend the big national service at St Paul’s.

4 August 1915
Up by early train with Mary Hine to London for the service at St Paul’s! 1st year of war over! Long wait. Nice service. Artillery band. Royalties there. Over by 1. We missed 2 o’clock train so had lunch, came down 3.45. Church after.

Bubs’ men had motor drive & tea at Henley.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P120/28A/14); Clewer parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P39/28A/9); Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, August 1915 (D/N33/12/1/5); Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, August 1915 (D/N11/12/1/14); Reading St John parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P172/28A/24); Winkfield District Monthly Magazine, August 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/8); CSJB Annals (D/EX1675/1/14/5); Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Marching troops stir up patriotism as well as roads

A soldiers’ march through the village of Mortimer West End stirred up the population, and made them think of civilians in the war zone, as the parish magazine reports.

West End
There is very little to write about this month, as our parish life has been comparatively uneventful, except for the visit of the troops from Basingstoke, who stirred up our patriotism as well as our roads. Many a day’s ironing was done very late in the week that week, and few indeed were the children who condescended to come to school. It all gave us a dim idea of what the countryside in France must look like, and though we who ride our bicycles may complain of the effect of the roads upon our tyres we must all be very thankful that our beautiful woods and gardens are not destroyed by shells and bombs as they are in so many regions on the continent.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, July 1915 (D/P120/28A/14)

Almost every available man has gone to this cruel war

Almost every man from Stratfield Mortimer and Mortimer West End who could realistically serve had answered the country’s call by June 1915, the parish magazine attested. Some had paid the ultimate price.

Men with the Colours

To the lists already published there should now be added: James Flitter and Harry White, K.R.R., Ernest Merrick, M.T., A.S.C., and Herbert West, Gunner R.F.A. The last named should have been on the original list; he is now, we regret to say, in hospital at Warrington, having been seriously wounded at Hill 60 in arms and legs during the first fierce fight for that position.

We cannot refrain from reprinting the following words of Mr. Raymond Asquith, the Prime Minister’s eldest son, on the subject of his training with the 16th City of London Regiment:

“We are trying very hard to fit ourselves in the shortest possible time to kill the largest number of Germans. After recent demonstrations of their ferocious and bestial cruelty, it must be most difficult for any man of suitable age and health to apply himself to any other purpose.”

West End

This cruel war is bringing home to us day by day the awful miseries and troubles which overtake the innocent as a result of the sins of men and nations. One of the very saddest ways in which our parish has come to learn it is in the death of Captain Field, and all our hearts go out in sympathy to his family, and especially to the mother, who through long months of wearing anxiety has given us an example of the pluck and courage which the mothers of England are showing everywhere to-day. It is a bitter end after being taken prisoner while tending the wounded. May his soul rest in peace and may we be given grace to follow his example in doing our duty to our neighbour and our country.

There are several names to be added to our Roll of Honour of those serving their King and Country and our parish may now be considered to have given up almost every available man.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P120/28A/14)

The heart of the village goes out to a bereaved mother

Cookham Dean received the sad news of the village’s first casualty in October 1914.  It affected the whole community, and brought home the tragedy of war in a very personal way:

The sadness of the war has during the past month been brought home to our very doors, and the heart of the whole village has gone out on sympathy with Mr. & Mrs. C. Carter, their family, and others who have had to mourn the loss of Private George Carter, Royal Berks Regiment, killed in action on September 14th.  The news did not reach the village till October 17th.  A memorial service, which was largely attended, was held on Sunday, October 18th.

It was better news for another mother, Mrs Field of Mortimer West End. when she heard her son, missing in action, was a PoW:

West End
We all feel most thankful for the good news which came to Mrs. Field on St Luke’s Day [18 October], that her son is alive and well, though a prisoner in the hands of the Germans, and we shall all continue to hope and pray for his safe return.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, November 1914 (D/P43B/28A/11); Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, November 1914 (D/P120/28A/14)