Working at the RAF

A teenager’s first job was working at the Royal Aircraft Factory in Hampshire.

December 7th 1917

Joseph Scott has left – being 14 – and obtained work in R.A.F. at Fanbaro.

Ascot Heath Boys’ School log book (C/EL110/4, p. 90)

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“She is going to work at the military aircraft factory”

The high wages on offer in munitions factories even to untrained young girls attracted one young monitress, or trainee teacher, to abandon school work.

Abingdon Conduit Rd Infants School
3rd December 1917

Ivy Middleton (monitress) left without notice as she is going to work at the military aircraft factory.

George Palmer Boys’ School, Reading
3rd December 1917

His Worship the Mayor, F.A.Sargent Esq., and Mr Baseden, H[ead] Master of Swansea Rd School, addressed a joint meeting of Girls & Boys re Work of War Savings’ Association, from 10am to 11.

Log books of Abingdon Conduit Rd Infants School (C/EL4/2, p. 175); and George Palmer Boys’ School, Reading (89/SCH/8/1, p. 147)

A gallant lad who enlisted “because he thought it was his duty”

The service of several Burghfield men had ended, either through death or illness.

THE WAR

Honours and Promotions

Major Richard Kirkwood, who as temporary Lieutenant Colonel has since the beginning of the war been in command at Exeter of the Depot of his old Regiment (the Devons), has been seriously ill. He is now being relieved, and is receiving the permanent honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and we hope to see him and his wife back at Boldrewood in November.

Discharges

So far, only the following names have come to hand of Burghfield men discharged from the Navy or Army in consequence of wounds or sickness contracted on service, viz:

Joseph Bedford, ex 8th Royal Berks (wounds)
E H Bracey, ex MGC (wounds)
Arthur L Collins, ex 2nd Anzacs, AEF (sickness)
Ernest Goddard, ex 1st Royal Berks (wounds)
William Goddard, another son of Joel Goddard, born and bred in Burghfield, but not resident for some years, has also been discharged, ex RE, on account of wounds.

Obituary Notices

Percy G Day, a gallant lad who enlisted “because he thought it was his duty”, though he broke his apprenticeship by doing so, was son of George Day of Trash Green. He was in the 2/4th Royal Berks, but was found not strong enough to go to France with the Battalion in May 1916, and was latterly employed on munition work in Leeds, where he died on 6th October in hospital.

Burghfield parish magazine, November 1917 (D/EX725/4)

A new readiness to face a new world

The Bishop of Oxford observed the terrible toll the war was taking at home, but had hopes for a brighter future.

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the October Diocesan magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked…
For the work among the munition workers…
For peace in Ireland and the Irish Conference.
With regard to the European war, for victory and peace, and for the maintenance of the spirit of the nation.

We are settling down to our winter’s work with the horror of the war still upon us and no speedy prospect of relief. Besides the grave anxiety of the war, we have manifold discouragements which specially affect the country clergy. The population of the villages is, in most cases, even disastrously reduced; the number of children we have to deal with so much smaller; the young and middle-aged men almost all absent at the war. Then prices are very high and means slender. In vicarage after vicarage, all the household and garden work falls upon the Vicar and his family, and perhaps they are not used to it….

But behind all these causes of anxiety and depression, we should be able to discern a purpose of God… The great ideas of human fellowship and mutual service are taking firmer root – fellowship and mutual service among nations and classes and individuals. The minds of men are moving with unusual rapidity. There is quite a new readiness to face a new world. It ought to stir us to a profound thankfulness to believe that we can help in the reconstruction of our country and the world; all the more that what is wanted in nothing else whatever but the bringing out into prominence and effect of the root ideas of Christianity about human life….

And surely nowhere is the necessity for social reconstruction and re-equipment more manifold than in the villages. I do not think it is too much to say that in the replenishing of the villages, and the lifting of the life there on to the new level of spiritual and social equality of consideration, independence and brotherhood, lies the only hope for the country…

Depend upon it we shall be really wanted in the exciting days that are coming…

C. OXON.

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

A necessary bit of war work

There was a call for men to join the Police Reservists and help maintain law and order at home.

EARLEY SUB-DIVISION BERKS POLICE SPECIAL RESERVE

Owing to removals and army munition work our numbers are becoming very much reduced, and we would earnestly ask any men in the parish of Earley, whether living in the Borough [of Reading] or not, who are not already acting as Specials or Reservists to come and give us a hand in this necessary bit of war work. After all, to patrol for 3 hours once a month from 9-12 pm is not a very great thing to ask, and there must be many men who could if they would come forward and thus ease the strain on those who have been quietly and steadily doing this work for over 3 years.

The Rev. H Wardley King, 1, Green Road, who is undertaking the duties of Sub-Divisional Officer pro tem, will be very grateful to receive names of any willing to help.

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:

Cecil Webb, Herbert Plumer, Walter Smithers, Ernest Thompson, John Edwards, Eric Burchell.

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

SICK OR WOUNDED: Duncan Simson, Levi Rackley, Charles Barton, George Bungay, Samuel Dee, George Embery, Ernest Embery, Benjamin Rickards, Albert Gray, Herbert Harper, Herbert Oliver, Clifford Holliday, Thomas Ilott, Arthur O’Dell, Owen Lewington, John Phillips.

KILLED: Charles Bowden, William Murphy, William Wynn, John Hitchcock, Albert Hosler.

MISSING: Arthur Langmead.

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

Patriotic work which may be of great value to the nation

Instructions were issued for organising the collection of horse chestnuts for use in munitions.

Horse Chestnuts

The Board of Education has issued a circular letter conveying a request from the Minister of Munitions and Food Controller that the Schools should assist in the Collection of Horse Chestnuts.

Neither the teachers not the children are to be asked to do this work as part of their School work, and there is no proposal that the Government should pay for the nuts. Whatever is done will be patriotic work which may be of great value to the nation.

It has been found that, for certain processes, horse chestnuts can be used in place of grain and it is stated that for every “ton of hose-chestnuts which are harvested, half a ton of grain can be saved for human consumption.”

The chestnuts must be collected into heaps in convenient places, preferably under cover; exposure to the weather will not, however, damage the nuts provided the interior of the heap does not heat.

Before being deposited at the Collecting Station they should be freed from the outer green husk, the shells of the nuts being left intact, if the husks are not removed heating of the heap will certainly take place.

When the collection is complete information will be sent to the Director of Propellant Supplies, stating the estimated quantity of the collection, and the Ministry of Munitions will arrange to remove the nuts and forward them to the factories in the course of the winter.

The work will not commence til October, but in the meantime if owners of trees are inclined to invite children to collect the nuts it will be of great assistance if they will kindly inform the Vicar or the Schoolmaster, and also if they will state whether they can lend baskets or sacks for the purpose.

Particular trees will probably be assigned to particular children, so that the work may be done as far as possible without any sort of loss or damage.

Wargrave parish magazine, September 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

Train to increase output for Aeroplane Engines – if you can stand for 10 hours a day

Women were encouraged to sign up to train as workers in munitions factories.

Munition Training at Reading

Mr. Herbert Maryon, University College, Reading, to whom all enquiries should be addressed, desires to make known particulars of Courses of Munition Training, which are being held at Reading, to increase output [f]or Aeroplane Engines.

Candidates can take a two week’s course at Reading and, if successful, are then transferred to the Instructional Centre in London.

Candidates must be between the ages of 18 and 35, and not under 5-ft, 2ins. in height. They are required to pass a strict medical examination, and be able to stand a ten hour’s working day if necessary. A lady doctor examines all candidates at Reading.

All candidates will be required to sign an agreement to work full time in a factory in any part of the British Isles.

a) A subsistence allowance of 15s. per week if living at home or within easy reach of the College, or 25s. per week if living in lodgings, is payable to candidates accepted for training.
b) 25s. per week during the part of the course taken in London
c) One week’s further maintenance allowance of 25s. will be payable to a candidate when transferred to a factory on the satisfactory completion of the training at the Instructional Centre.

Overalls and caps are supplied to the candidates during training and these remain the property of the Centre, but 3d. per week for washing them is deducted from the allowance.

3d. per week is deducted for National Health Insurance.

Hours of Classes at Reading: – Day, 9-5 (with interval from 1-2.30); Saturdays, 9-1.

Wargrave parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

This awful anniversary – the end is not yet in sight

The third anniversary of the start of the war was a time for reflection.

Reading St Giles
August

Saturday, August the 4th, will be the 3rd Anniversary of the declaration of the War, and the beginning of a 4TH Year. There will be celebrations of the Eucharist at 6.45, 7.30& 8 a.m. I hope that a great many will endeavour to be present to pray and intercede.
I propose on the following day, Sunday the 5th, to have a solemn requiem at 11a.m. for the fallen in the War. If any relatives or friends wish for the mention of names will they please send them into me by August 4th. At evensong, on Sunday the 5th, the special form of intercession put forth by the Archbishop will be used.

September

I was very thankful to see in August 4th, the 3rd Anniversary of the war, so many present at the Eucharist to intercede for our sailors and soldiers, and to pray for Victory and a righteous peace. The number of communions made was nearly four times as large as last year.

Broad Street Congregational Church

AUGUST THE FOURTH

Saturday, August 4th, will bring the third anniversary of the declaration of war, and in this connection a service arranged by the Reading Free Church Council will be held in our church beginning at 3 p.m. The service will be largely intercessory, and it will be conducted by ministers representing the various Free Churches in the town, those having promised to take part being the Rev. J A Alderson (President of the Council), Rev. T W Beck (Wesleyan), Rev. J Carter (Primitive Methodist), Rev. W C King (Baptist), Rev. J Mitchell (Presbyterian), and Rev. E J Perry, BD (Congregational).

Both last year and the year before similar services were held, and they were attended by large congregations. We hope it may be the same again this year.

Wargrave
August 4th and 5th, 1917:

These are days to be much observed with prayer being the third Anniversary of the declaration of War.

Saturday, August 4th, Holy Communion at the Parish Church 8.a.m. Mattins 10.a.m. Evensong 7.p.m. Special forms of prayer.

Sunday, August 5th, Services as usual: Special forms of prayer.

Cranbourne

In connection with the third Anniversary of the Declaration of War the special Forms of Prayer issued by the Archbishops were said in Church, and also at a united Service held in the Sunday School after Evensong. To this service our Wesleyan friends came in large numbers, and the address was given by the Rev. J.S. Hollingworth.

Earley St Peter

The Vicar’s Letter

My dear friends,

On August 4th we shall have reached the third anniversary of the commencement of the war, and we hope that all will observe it on Sunday, August 5th, and make the day a time for earnest prayer that peace may be restored. Three years ago there were comparatively few thought that it would have lasted so long. We feel as sure as ever that our cause will finally triumph, but the end is not yet in sight, and we have still to go on working and enduring, with a full trust that all will come right in God’s good time. It is true that as the writer of the Book of Proverbs says, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick”; but we forget the second half of the verse, “but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life” – that desire with us is a just and secure peace, under which we pray that the world will be restored and revivified; but we must each do our part.

From a secular point of view there are not many who are not working for their country and doing their best, but can we say that the nation as a whole is doing its best from a spiritual point of view, as a profesedly Christian nation? Are there not many among ourselves who, though deeply sincere at first, have gradually fallen back into the ruts of carelessness and indifference, and ought not what our Bishop calls this “awful anniversary” to give us cause to think very seriously on our position nationally and individually?

Your friend and vicar,
W W Fowler.

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the August Diocesan Magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked

For our country and our allies, and for the whole world at the beginning of the fourth year of the war.
For victory and peace.
For a settlement in Ireland…

THE OBSERVANCE OF AUGUST 4-5

Before the Magazine reaches you, you will have in your hands the prayers and suggestions for prayer put out by the archbishops, with the consent of the diocesan bishops, for this awful anniversary. I have not anything to add to what is there suggested, there is abundant need that we should call to prayer all who believe in its power – that is all who believe in our Lord. And there is abundant need also that we should do all that lies in our power to maintain the spirit of our nation at its best level, at the level at which it can pray to God as we Christians have been taught to believe in Him.

A PRAYER FOR GIRLS WORKING IN MUNITIONS AND ON THE LAND

O most merciful Father, we beseech Thee to bless and protect the Girls, who have gone to work in the Munition Factories and on the land. Preserve them from all evil. Keep them in good health. Comfort them with Thy presence when they are lonely, and homesick, and tired. Grant that their influence may be for good, and that by their lives they may lead others nearer to Thee. Very specially we ask for a blessing on the work of the Church among them. Grant that we at home may realise how much there is to do, and that we may not fail in sacrifice, and work, and prayer. For Jesus Christ’s sake.
Amen.

C. OXON.

Reading St Giles parish magazines, August and September 1917 (D/P96/28A/32); Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, August 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14); Wargrave parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P145/28A/31); Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, September 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/9)Earley St Peter parish magazines, 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

A bathing grievance on the part of the Women Munition Workers

Public baths offered both a swimming pool and washing facilities – particularly useful for workers living in rented rooms with no bathrooms. In a more modest era, single sex facilities were normal.

Thursday, June 14th, 1917

Analysis of Flour

The Acting Inspector was requested to take action under the Order of the Food Controller and to obtain samples of the flour used by the bakers in the manufacture of Bread.

Baths – Hours for Women

The Mayor stated that there existed a grievance on the part of the Women Munition Workers in consequence of their inability to use the Public Baths on account of the hours on which the Baths were open to women. The present hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday 11 am to 6 pm, Saturday 11 am to 1 pm.

The Committee decided that the Baths should be open to women in addition to the above, on Tuesdays and on Sundays from 9.30 am until 12.30 pm. The baths would therefore cease to be open to men on the two evenings of the week mentioned, and children would not be admitted on Sundays between 9.30 am and 12.30 pm.

Newbury Borough General, Sanitary, Baths and Cemetery Committee minutes (N/AC1/2/8)

A great demand for women munition workers

The vicar of Reading called for women to sign up as trainee munitions workers.

Notes from the Vicar
Intercessions list:

Lieut. W.T. Stevens (6th Leicestershire Rgt.; Arthur Holt; Corpl. Wm Taylor.

To the list of the departed we must, alas, add the names of Lieut. Wm Marsden Cooper, Lieut. S. Wakeford.

There is still a great demand for Woman Munition Workers (aged 18 to 35) who are prepared to leave the district. They can be trained at University College.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, April 1917 (D/P96/28A/34)

“This year we shall be obliged to keep Lent, whether we like it or not”

Shortages were beginning to affect everyone.

LENT

It seems that this year we shall be obliged to keep Lent, whether we like it or not. Railway travel has been curtailed, food prices are still rising, food is getting scarce, and all the efforts of the nation are to be devoted to winning the war. As Church-people we are used to the season of Lent, but there is a question whether we have kept it as we ought, in fact it is certain that many Church-people have paid very little attention to the Church’s injunctions in this respect. But we cannot disobey the State with impunity, and we should be extremely selfish if we did not do our bit to practise economy, and so help to save the Nation’s food. There are many who might, with advantage, purchase War Savings Certificates, to help the country and to make provision for the future; and we would beg all our readers to do their very utmost to carry out the Food Controller’s instructions, in the spirit in which they were issued. The Germans are not yet decisively beaten – if this is to be done, everyone of us will have to help.

We should like to offer our sincere sympathy to Mr and Mrs Savage on the untimely death of a good son and promising young soldier. Edward George Savage was confirmed at the Parish Church in 1912. He passed away from the effects of pneumonia, following upon an attack of measles… The coffin was borne by soldiers, and there was a following party of the Royal Flying Corps.

We would also offer our sincere sympathy to Mrs Manley on the death of her husband on service, as announced in the “Newbury Weekly News” of February 15th.

The National Schools have had a bad time during the long continued frost: first of all on account of the heating apparatus misbehaving itself; and secondly, on account of the water being frozen. The Managers have endeavoured to remedy the former by adding to the boiler: it is possible that the coke does not nowadays give out so much heat, as certain properties have to be taken out for the manufacture of explosives.

The Parish Room has now been evacuated by the Military, and has returned to its usual state. The soldiers were very quiet and well behaved during their stay there. The occupation brought in a little money to the Parish Room Fund. We trust that outside people, who have been accustomed to use the room, will now appreciate the privilege more. The men who were billeted in the Parish Room desire, through the medium of the Parish Magazine, to sincerely thank all those who so kindly contributed to their comfort during their stay there.

Mrs L R Majendie would be grateful for gifts of material, such as cretonne, for the members of the Mothers’ Meetings to make “treasure bags” for wounded soldiers.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

Belgians want peace at any price – and no wonder

Florence Vansittart Neale was depressed by the war news, while Lockinge-born railway worker William Hallam was making weapons for the war in Swindon.

Florence Vansittart Neale
8 December 1916

Lloyd George forming a ministry. Things in bad way. Greece blockaded. Fear for troops in Salonika….

Met Gustav Kupor. Feel very sorry for Belgian soldiers. No wonder they want peace at any price.

William Hallam
8th December 1916

In to work at 6 to night and by the morning I had finished this war work. Howitzer gun arches.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/24)

Collision in the Irish Sea

The tragedy referred to here was the sinking of the SS Connemara (a passenger-carrying steamer) and Retriever (a coal vessel), which collided at the entrance to Carlingford Lough in Northern Ireland on 3 November 1916. There was only 1 survivor. Some of the victims were young Irish women travelling to England to work in munitions factories.

4 November 1916

Collision in Irish Channel owing to storm. 90 killed!

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

Working on howitzer guns all night

Night shifts at the munitions factory in Swindon continued to be hard work.

14th October 1916

When I got home at ¼ past 6 this morning I lit fire, washed, fried some sausages for breakfast and got to bed at ½ past 7. Got up at 3 and went down town to get some safety razor blades sharpened and stamps for Income Tax. Home and had my tea and in to work again at 6. Working on 6” howitzer gun arches. A rough windy night.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/24)

Night shift in the munitions factory

William Hallam was doing night shifts making guns at the GWR works.

10th October 1916

Dull again. I have to shift on to another lathe to-morrow on gun work and work nights. A very rough night.


Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/24)