“Greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friend”

The parish of Earley was saddened by the death of two of its men, both heroes in different ways: one a regular soldier, the other a teenage recruit who died trying to save a friend’s life.

In memoriam

We record with very great sorrow the death of two of our old Guild boys. The first, Leonard Love, son of Mr Love, 49 St Bartholomew’s Road, was a soldier of many years standing. He served in the Royal Field Artillery and so distinguished himself at Gallipoli that he was offered a commission and had accepted it. He died within two days (apparently) of the evacuation of the peninsula. He had been in close contact with his brother William Love who was among those who fought the rearguard action of the time. His brother Frederick Love is serving in France. From such particulars as have come to hand Leonard Love was in excellent health. On the day of his death he returned to his dug-out after breakfast, and shortly after a shell struck the roof of the dug-out, and his death was instantaneous. He had borne the many hardships of the Gallipoli campaign with never a word of complaint in his letters home. Always cheerful he is reported to have been the life and soul of those about him, and his comradeship will be greatly missed by his many friends. He has left behind him a fine example of Christian courage and manliness.

The other is of a wholly different type. James Benjamin Butler, son of Mr B H Butler, former churchwarden here, was little more than a boy in years when, with his younger brother Charles, he offered himself for service 8 months ago and joined the 605th Co. of Motor Transport. The two brothers had been members of our Scouts Patrol whose rules oblige the members of it to look for opportunities of doing kindnesses, and to embrace them when they occur. His training ended, he left England at the beginning of the year, having made his last communion in this church on Christmas Day. He sailed in the “Palermo City” and in the Mediterranean the transport appears to have struck a mine and floundered. James Butler was a powerful swimmer, but his friend Harold Newbold, who had been a long time billeted with him at his home in Reading, could swim but little. Butler was last seen side by side with his friend in the sinking vessel inflating an air pillow in the hope that it might be of service in the water. He himself could (without unforeseen mishap) have remained in the water a long time and been picked up, but there is little doubt that he determined to remain by his friend, and sacrificed his life in attempting to save him. “Greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friend” and better to die young and to offer one’s life for king, country and friend, than to live at ease for many years and accomplish little. Two more honoured names are added to our roll: the mature soldier and the brave lad of nineteen summers. May they rest in peace.

Earley parish magazine, March 1916 (D/P192/28A/14)

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Entertainments to be discontinued

Men at St Peter’s Church, Earley, had given a series of concerts to locally billeted members of the Army Service Corps.

REPORT OF THE C.E.M.S. SOLDIERS ENTERTAINMENT COMMITTEE

The series of Entertainments given to the 178th Co. MT-ASC has been continued for the benefit of the 263rd Co. , who have been stationed in the parish since June.

Twelve concerts were given, the cost of the refreshments and other expenses being contributed as follows:

The Boy Scouts (one), who very kindly gave the money which in normal times would have been devoted to their week in camp; Captain Taylor, commanding the 263rd Co. (one); Mrs Woods of the Manor House (one); the remainder by the Committee with the aid of funds kindly contributed by the following:

Mrs Barkshire, Mrs Francis, Mrs Montizambert, Mrs Iltid Witherington, The Misses Beauchamp, Croome, Davis, George, Goodwin, Hannaford, Jordan, Maurice, Miller, Major Hall, Messrs Bastow Junr, Culham, Edwards, Heelas, Hissey, Howlett, Innel, Keep, King, Lee, Lewington, Newberry, Robb, Rushbrooke, Sargeant, Tomlin, Webb and White.

The Balance Sheet is as follows:
Receipts
Balance in hand 8s.6d
38 subscriptions £15.1.8
Expenditure
Refreshments & Tobacco £12.5.1 ½
Hire of Hall and Cleaning £2.9.0
Sundries 1s.10d
Contribution towards renovating Piano 10s.6
Balance in hand 4s. 1 ½ d

The funds being practically exhausted, the Committee feel that, with so many other urgent appeals, they cannot trespass further on the generosity of the subscribers, who have already contributed over £49. They have, therefore, decided to discontinue the Entertainments. They also wish to express their gratitude to the subscribers, and those ladies and gentlemen who have contributed to the programme.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, January 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/1)

Our first brother killed in this cruel war

The Broad Street Brotherhood, the men’s group at the big Congregational Church in central Reading (now Waterstone’s bookshop) was still sending its members off to the armed forces. They were sobered by their first death in action.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

As we all know, our brother L Victor Smith left England some weeks ago to carry out duties in France. We miss him very much. He has done a tremendous amount of “spade work” in connection with our Society … the beautiful Rolls of Honour, which are hanging up in the vestibule, were amongst his latest pieces of work.

We have now got a very large number of our brothers either serving in France, or in the old country, and we are very glad and grateful to learn that the members of the church and Mrs Rawlinson are sending each of our brothers a parcel of good things at Christmas. In addition, we as a society are sending a cheery personal letter signed by our Presidents, so that our brothers will not be forgotten.

Our Mass Meeting and collection on behalf of the PSA fund for the relief of distress in Belgium, will be held in the early part of the New Year. Mr Rawlinson is arranging for one of the leading orators of the movement to address the meeting, and Mr Mann, secretary of the National Federation, will explain the objects of the fund.
Our choir has been through troubled waters. During the last few months they have had no less than three conductors, two leaving to join the army…

It is with deepest regret that we have to report the death of Brother V M May, of the 8th Royal Berks Regiment, who died in action last month. He is our first brother who has been killed in this cruel war.

ROLL OF HONOUR. POSTAL ADDRESSES.
The following names should be added to the church list given in the magazine last month:-
Cane, 2776 Pte, Norman, 1st Platoon A Co, 1/4th Royal Berks Regiment, BEF
Fletcher, Driver E A, Motor Transport Service, G and H Block, Grove Park, London
Jones, Off. Std. Wm Fletcher, No 12 Hut, East Camp, Royal Naval Barracks, Chatham

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine (D/N11/12/1/14)

“We miss their cheery presence very much”

Men of the Motor Transport Service of the Army Service Corps made themselves popular in Early.

Good Wishes to the M.T.A.S.C.

We are sure all our readers join us in wishing God-Speed and goodwill to all the Officers, N.C.O.s and men of the 178th Company M.T.A.S.C., who left us in the early morning of Saturday, May 29th. After four months stay we all grew to look upon them as friends and we miss their cheery presence very much. May they be guarded and protected from all harm and ill.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P191/28A/22)