Do the German hear our starlight singing in their distant trenches?

There was much news of soldiers from Maidenhead Congregational Church.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to be able to report that Reginald Hill is so far improving, that he has been able to sit up a little each day. Thomas S. Russell has been called up, and is in training with the Motor Transport Section of the A.S.C. G.C. Frampton after about two hours drill was considered advanced enough for foreign service, and left England for France on May 18th. He is gone into Military Canteen work.

An interesting letter has come to hand from Sidney Eastman, which may justly be described as lengthy, for it is written upon a piece of paper some seven or eight feet long, and covers both sides. It is mostly occupied with a description of his travels and of the sights he has seen, and we are glad to gather that he is in good health and spirits.

G.C. Frampton has been unpatriotic enough to take German measles, and is in Hospital at Etaples. We hope to learn very shortly that he is quite well again.

Alfred Vardy, after a severe bout of pneumonia, caught on his way to the Front in France, is now at a Convalescent Camp in Thetford, gaining strength before returning to duty.

Wilfrid Collins is in hospital at Reading, suffering from heart weakness following upon a severe attack of “Trench fever.”

Reginald Hill has been out of bed for an hour, and is going on satisfactorily, though slowly.

Cyril Hews had a somewhat narrow escape recently. He was out with his motor-bicycle upon a French road during a thunderstorm, when the lightning struck a tree by the road-side, and a large branch fell upon the handlebars of the machine, providentially leaving the rider untouched.

Alfred Lane, after more than a year’s training in the Home Counties’ Engineers at Maidenhead, has been sent over with a draft to France.

Harry Baldwin, having attained the age of 18, and being called up, has elected to enter the Navy, and will probably enter a Training School.

One of our young men, who took an active part in the Messines victory, writes:

“Rather a good sight yesterday. I attended with my men a very large open-air drum-head Church Parade Service, as a sort of Thanksgiving Service for our recent great victory. A large number of Welshmen were present, and it really was great to hear these fellows sing “Aberystwith” and “St. Mary,” accompanied by a band.”

The papers, by the way, have been recently telling us that in all the Welsh regiments there are “glee parties,” who sing under the stars, until the Germans must hear and perhaps wonder, in their more or less distant trenches.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, June 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

“Doing our best to be worthy of being the cadets of one of the most famous regiments in His Majesty’s Army”

The Church Lads’ Brigade offered training for teenage boys which in many cases led to heroic actions as adults at the Front.

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE CADETS

We had a very good Field Day at Streatley on Whit-Monday. The Battalion turned up in good strength, and some useful skirmishing practice was got through on the Downs, an ideal spot for such work.
On Saturday, June 9th, the Annual Battalion Marching Competition was held. By kind permission of the Headmaster of Reading School, the various Companies assembled in the School Quad, and under the management of Sergeant-Major Green, were quickly got into due order for inspection. Colonel Melville, RAMC, very kindly came over from Aldershot to judge the competition, and expressed himself as quite astonished at the efficiency of the lads and highly delighted with the whole arrangements and the esprit de corps displayed by the teams. We congratulate our friends the Caversham Company on winning the Shield, our Earley lads were a very close third.

The arrangements for Whit-Monday and the Marching Competition were very ably carried out by the Acting Adjutant, Capt. H A Smith-Masters, who has just received his commission as a Chaplain in the Army. We congratulate him, and shall miss his help very much. He is the fourth Adjutant we have had since the war began, and all four are now serving in the Forces.

Our Captain, Corporal C J O’Leary, MTASC, received some rather severe scalds while rescuing a comrade from a motor which went wrong, and has been in hospital in France, but we are glad to say he is now much better again.

The following Army Order has filled us with pleasure and determination to try and do our best to be worthy of being the cadets of one of the most famous regiments in His Majesty’s Army:

“ARMY ORDER 128, 1917.

The Army Orders for April contain one of the most epoch-making which has ever been issued in respect of the CLB. It runs thus:

‘The recognised Cadet Battalions of the Church Lads’ Brigade are affiliated to the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.’

We hope that every member of the CLB will appreciate the honour of belonging to the famous 60th, and that this will be one more incentive to obtain even a higher standard than the CLB has ever attained before.

The great fact is accomplished, and we hope by it the future of the CLB is assured, and that an adequate safeguard of all its religious training and ideal is achieved.”

Having passed the required examinations, the following lads have been promoted as stated: Corporals F Ansell and C Downham to be Sergeants; Private M Smith to be Lance-Corporal.

The body of one of our old members, Frank Snellgrove, who has been missing for months, has been discovered by a Chaplain in France, and reverently buried with full Christian rites. We offer our deepest sympathy to his people, who have thus lost their only son.

H. Wardley King [the curate]

Earley St Peter parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

“We shall all do our best to keep our end up until the happy day when he can once more return”

The leader of the Church Lads’ Brigade in Earley, a wounded soldier, had recovered sufficiently to join the Army Service Corps, while some of the group’s former members had been killed or wounded.

CLB

We are once again – let us hope for only a short time – losing our Adjutant, Captain C J O’Leary, who has joined the MTASC.

Since his discharge after being wounded at the Battle of the Aisne, Captain O’Leary has thrown himself wholeheartedly into the work of the Battalion, as well as working up his own St Peter’s Earley Company to a high state of efficiency, and we shall miss him terribly. Our very best wishes will go with him wherever he may be sent, and we shall all do our best to keep our end up until the happy day when he can once more return to us.

We greatly regret to say that two more of our first members have been killed in action, Leonard Leaver and Charles Bolton, and we would express our deepest sympathy with their relatives in their sorrow. RIP.

We tender our heartiest congratulations on being awarded the Military Medal. As we are going to press we hear that Sergeant Seely is seriously wounded and are anxiously awaiting further news.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, May 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

“His parents have received no official report from the War Office”

There was news of the Winkfield men serving.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING.

Our deep sympathy goes out to the parents and relations of Pte. John Lunn who was killed inaction in the beginning of November. At the time of writing his parents have received no official report from the War Office, but they heard the sad news from his Commanding Officer who, in a sympathetic letter speaks in high terms of their dead son and the regret felt at his loss.

Lieut. Cecil Hayes-Sadler, R.E., and Privates Albert Fletcher, George Higgs, Earnest Woodage have gone to the front in France, and Dr. Albert Jones has sailed for Salonika. Their names are added to our long list read out in Church, with the request for special prayer in our Intercessions on the second and last Sundays in the month.

We have just learnt that Pte. F. Street has recently joined the M.T.A.S.C.

We are glad to hear that Pte. C.E.Burt is now doing well after his relapse and is in Reading Hospital.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, December 1916 (D/P151/28A/12)

Helping to look after our splendid troops

The Boys of St Peter’s, Earley, normally borrowed camping equipment from the army. It was of course all in use during the war.

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE AND SCOUTS

We are hoping to have a three days’ camp at Newbury from August 5th to 8th. We shall be obliged to sleep in schoolrooms, &c, as tents are not allowed, and we shall have to take our own blankets, &c, as it is quite impossible to get any from the military stores.

ST PETER’S HALL

The Hon, Treasurer appeals for help as the funds are now practically exhausted, and opportunities for assisting these are, in the difficult times we are passing through, few and far between. In normal times various entertainments and other schemes were carried through successfully by the Committee to augment the receipts, but other interests have crowded these out, and yet the Hall must be kept going.

We most earnestly appeal to our readers to help the funds of the above Hall. The Hall has been invaluable during the war, for, in addition to all the ordinary work carried on in it, we have used it constantly for entertainments for the M.T.A.S.C. and the wounded soldiers, so that those who subscribe to the Hall will have the satisfaction of knowing that they are also helping to look after our splendid troops.

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:
William Ellis, Thomas Neilan, George Barnes, Frank Williams, Richard Smith, Archie Morris, Alfred Levens, Henry King, William Cook, Reginald Wyer, Leonard Rixon.

In addition to those already mentioned we especially commend the following to your prayers:

Sick: Jack Parker.
Wounded and Missing: Bernard Tait.
Wounded: John Rosser, Joseph Powell, Charles Barton, Charles Bolton.
Killed in Action: Allan Brown, Dick May, Hereward Sadler.

Earley parish magazine, August 1916 (D/P191/28A/31/8)

“I am increasingly glad to be out here”

The minister of Trinity Congregational Church was volunteering with the YMCA in France, helping provide home comforts for thr troops, and reported to his flock at home. The Taube to which he refers was a kind of aeroplane.

News from France

Through the kindness of Mrs Harrison, we are able to print some extracts from letters telling of our Pastor’s doings. We shall all rejoice to know he is well and enjoying his novel experiences.

YMCA Hut
Near Calais
Jan. 1st-18th, 1916

Here we are, safe and sound, and already hard at work.
There are five of us helpers in this hut, – all good, good sorts!
We spend hours and hours each day serving out tea, coffee, cocoa, cigarettes, matches, chocolate, Nugget polish, boot laces, etc., to the soldiers.

By great fortune I have come across Hamilton Moss, who seems in excellent health and spirits. We were just going to have a smoke together, when I was called away to my duties, – we hope for better luck next time.

For the last two days I have been in charge of a motor transport tent, but am back again now.

This morning I have scrubbed our three cubicles, – a thing never done before at one co,- and gained great glory thereby.

It is now my afternoon out.

There are two great boilers in this hut, from which tea, coffee and cocoa are made, and all water for household purposes drawn. It is my present duty to light the kitchen fires, and keep these pots full and boiling. Scrubbing out cubicles is by no means the heaviest job nowadays. Cleaning up the back yard and the stables, and unloading big cases of provisions from the vans, is a usual morning’s work, while washing up stacks of dirty mugs is becoming second nature.

We have just had our first sight of a Taube. It came almost over our heads, and we watched the shrapnel bursting round it. It got away without doing any damage, but I am told that they brought it down further on.

It is pitch dark here at night, and getting about is a weird business. Flash-lights are indispensable. The weather is not as bad as it might be, and we have some jolly walks along the sands.
Now I am off to get hold of a stove for the rest room. I am able to get some good talks with the men in there, but the room is too bleak for words, so I must make things more comfortable if possible.

This morning, along with other sundry duties already mentioned, I had to peel the potatoes for dinner, and boil them! They were quite well done.

Our chief told us yesterday that we should most likely be sent to the Front this week. We don’t know where, as there are some thirty places under this Calais centre alone. We shall be right in things then, and have less freedom and more work. Some huts are just dug-outs within three quarters of a mile of the trenches.

I am thoroughly enjoying the work, and keeping in the best of health. I am increasingly glad to be out here.

Trinity Congregational church magazine, January 1916 (D/EX1237/1/11)