Our hearty good-will and our deep sense of all that France has and is suffering for the cause of freedom and the Allies

Bastille Day, the French national day, is actually on 14 July, commemorating the fall of the Bastille and start of the French Revolution. Berkshire schools clearly had a rather vague grasp of French history, but cannot be faulted for their admiration for our ally.

Aldworth
July 12th 1918

On Friday afternoon, being France’s National Day, the children were addressed by the Vicar, the French Flag saluted and the Marseillaise sung – the following letter was also sent to the President of the French Republic:

Aldworth Vicarage
Reading
England

July 12th 1918

Dear Mr President,

The inhabitants of Aldworth wish to take the opportunity, which France’s National Day affords, to express to you our hearty good-will and our deep sense of all that France has and is suffering for the cause of freedom and the Allies.

We also take this opportunity to assure you that we are determined that the war shall at length, at whatever cost, be waged to a victorious issue.

Believe us to be, dear Mr President, your most devoted Allies.

(signed) A. L Watson, Vicar of Aldworth, Chairman of the Parish Council

Coleshill
12th July 1918

At noon to-day the children first saluted ‘The French Flag’ and then our ‘Union Jack’ in the playground. After this they sang ‘the Marseillaise’ and our own National Anthem, this being ‘France’s Day’.

Aldermaston
12th July 1918.

Pamphlets have been sent by the local War Aims committee to be given to the children today to commemorate France’s Day July 14th. The Head Teacher will give a short explanation of the subject to the school.

Hinton Waldrist
July 12th 1918

France’s Day. Children assembled in playground at 1.30. An address given by Capt: J. Loder Symonds. The French Flag and Union Jack saluted. The Marseillaise and God Save the King sung.


Log books: Aldworth School (C/EL54/3); Coleshill CE School (D/P40/28/5); Aldermaston School (88/SCH/3/3); Hinton Waldrist C of E Schoolk (C/EL84/2)

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The wounded soldiers of France

1918 July 12th

France’s National Day celebrated. Lady Faringdon & Miss Gillett visited the school and joined in celebrating the occasion. The children sang the “Marseillaise”, “O God, our Help in Ages Past” and our own National Anthem.

Badges were distributed and a collection made amounting to £2 18s 5d for the wounded soldiers of France.

Buscot CE School log book (C/EL73/2)

Saluting the Roll of Honour of Old Scouts now serving in H.M.’s Forces

Boys joining the Scouts were not just having fun – they anticipated possible military service.

Several friends attended a Parade of the Windsor Forest Boy Scouts which was held on the Sunday School, on Saturday, June 22nd, when the following scouts were admitted after passing the tests of a tenderfoot. A. Kleinod, H. Hyde, R. Harrington, F. Fasey, J. Robb, A. Johnson, W. Prior, H. Welch, M. Adams, E. Payne. Mr. Asher very kindly presented the badges and Miss Ducat (a Scout Mistress) the certificate of admission. The troop was formed into a semi-circle as each Scout made the Scout’s promise, which is as follows: “I promise on my honour to do my duty to God and the King, to help other people at all times and to obey the Scout Law.” Mr. Asher then addressed the troop with kindly words of encouragement, and said he trusted each Scout would at all times remember their promise. The troop then did some staff and cart drill, and after saluting the Roll of Honour of Old Scouts now serving in H.M.’s Forces, the proceedings ended with the national anthem.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, July 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/6)

“The trials and hardships our soldiers have to undergo in the great struggle”

Wargrave children may have celebrated Empire Day a week late, but they got the most graphic description of a world at war from a veteran.

Empire Day

Owing to the Whitsun Holidays the school children were unable to keep the celebration of Empire Day on May 24th, so it was postponed until Friday, the 31st, when they met at the Schools and proceeded to church where a short service was held. The Vicar gave an address from the words “Honour all men, fear God, honour the King” inculcating the lessons of patriotism and brotherly kindness from the story of Moses.

Reforming in procession after the service, the children marched back to the School Playground and assembled round the flag. Here a goodly company of parishioners had gathered and after singing the National Anthem and saluting the flag an address was given by Mr. H.P. Adams, a member of the Executive of Comrades of the Great War Society and himself a holder of the Mons Medal. He gave a vivid description of the trials and hardships our soldiers have to undergo in the great struggle and related his experiences in the battle of Mons. He paid a splendid tribute to Lord Roberts, and advised one and all to do all in their power to be thorough patriots and to show a love for the old Flag. The children sang two patriotic songs and at the close of the proceedings gave three cheers for Lady Cain who kindly provided each child with a cake and a new penny.

Wargrave parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

Lessons on Patriotism for Empire Day

Children across the county celebrated Empire Day with patriotic displays and collections.

Abingdon Girls CE School
1918, 22nd-24th May

On Empire Day the children marched past and saluted the Flag. Recitations and Patriotic Songs were sung and 16/2 was sent to the Overseas Fund.

Reading ChristChurch CE Infants School
24th May 1918

Being Empire Day the National Anthem was sung this morning, and the flag saluted by all the children, many of whom wore the colours. Each half year since the commencement of the War, the children have contributed liberally to the “Over Seas” Club Tobacco Fund, by means of which nearly £7000 has been spent in sending parcels of “smokes” to the soldiers and sailors at the Front.

St Peter’s CE School, Earley
24th May 1918

The morning was kept as our “Empire Day” celebration. The ordinary timetable was not adhered to, lessons on Patriotism taking the place of the ordinary lessons and at 11 a.m. the Flag was raised by the Mayor of Reading (F A Sarjeant Esq) who is one of the School Managers. Speeches were made by the Mayor, the Vicar, Colonel Weldon & R Lea esq, and patriotic songs were sung by the assembled school.

In the afternoon, following the usual custom, May Day celebrations took place… Between 400 and 500 friends of the school & the children were present. A collection was made on behalf of some of the War Funds, and together with donations sent later, amounted to £2.17.6.

Reading: All Saints Infant School (89/SCH/19/2)
24th May 1918

The parents assembled in the school at 11.30am to hear the children sing the special songs they had learned for Empire Day. The Rev. Wardley King gave a short address. The children had a collection for St Dunstan’s Hostel for the blind soldiers and sailors. A half day holiday was given in the afternoon.

Coleshill CE School
24th May 1918

To-day being ‘Empire Day’ the children saluted ‘the flag’ in the girls’ playground and sang the National Anthem. The Empire Pennies brought by the children amounted to £1.0.3½. This sum was sent to The Overseas Fund for Comforts for our Soldiers & Sailors.

Reading Christ Church

On Empire Day May 24 the girls of our Day School presented Sutherlands VAD with a bath chair. The presentation was made by Rose Gillings on behalf of the girls, who asked the Commandant, Mrs Childs, to accept it. The chair was purchased by money raised entirely by the children themselves. Mrs Childs expressed her thanks for the gift. Three soldiers from the Hospital were present and at the end of the proceedings one of them was wheeled in the chair down the schoolroom, greatly cheered by the girls.

Log books of Abingdon Girls CE School (C/EL 2/2); Reading ChristChurch CE Infants School (89/SCH/7/6); St Peter’s CE School, Earley (SCH36/8/3); Reading: All Saints Infant School (89/SCH/19/2); Coleshill CE School log book (D/P40/28/5); and Christ Church parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P170/28A/24)

“In this wretched country, in these wretched conditions, I’m very happy”

Percy Spencer told sister Florence he was having a good time.

May 5, 1918

My dear WF

The CO has borrowed my pen so you’ll have to put up with pencil.
I’m having a fine time working hard re-organising our office, and in the mess enjoying the society of gentlemen.

2 colonels are living with us (having a rest), one has commanded this regiment and the other does. They’re like a couple of schoolboys and spend a lot of time pulling each other’s legs.
John would love one of them in particular. As each of our shells hurtle over he counts the seconds to the burst and describes the damage to the Hun. If only each shell did the damage described, the war would be over.

[censored]

The Padre is a perfectly delightful fellow. In short, in this wretched country, in these wretched conditions, I’m very happy.
All the boys of my old staff are here and seem to take a mighty pleasure in saluting me.

Last night we dined in state with the Regimental Band playing. The CO had invited M. Le Maire [the local mayor] – an ancient old fellow with flowing whiskers. It was a great affair, especially the wine drinking and tasting when the French & our own National Anthems were played.

I told you how I ran into 2 of the fellows we rowed against at Cambridge.

Well, yesterday my rough diamond (No. 6) found me out and we had a long talk together.

Sydney has written me again. He doesn’t seem to like shells, curiously enough, but appears quite happy.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to Florence Image (D/EZ177/7/7/33-34)

Ladies and younger lads keep the bells going, with energy & zeal

Bellringers reflect on the ways the war had changed their profession.

The annual meeting of this branch took place at Wokingham on Sat. Jan. 19th. A short service was held at All Saints’ Church at 4.30 pm with Intercessory Prayers…

The Rural Dean, Canon G F Coleridge, gave an excellent address, & practical, on the words – “Every man according to his ability” (Acts XI.29). He said he had chosen those words, because they brought home what was being done throughout the country regarding the “War”, at that time, & they should appeal with great force & meaning to those present, as Church Bell Ringers. Many of these, amongst other church officers, had been called to active service abroad, some of them from that branch, of whom some had given their lives for their country, & many ladies & younger lads had taken their places, & kept the bells goings, with an energy & zeal which would always be remembered in the Ringing world!…

The National Anthem was heartily sung at the close…

Tow members had been killed in action during the year. – A Edwards & F Collins, while G Collins was still “missing”, as in last year.

Minutes of Sonning Deanery Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers
(for bellringers of the parish churches of Arborfield, Easthampstead, Finchampstead, Hurst, Sandhurst, Sonning, Wargrave, Wokingham All Saints and Wokingham St Paul) (D/EX2436/2)

A pleasant evening

The people of Burghfield continued to support the war effort at home.

January 1918
War Savings

Miss Ada Gripper sends us notice that she has sold 57 War Savings Certificates to members of the Girls’ Friendly Society.

The Rector [Mr George] and Mrs George and Mr and Mrs Sheppard are organising a “Whist Drive” to take place in the Jubilee Room on Thursday, Jan. 10th, at 7 o’clock, the proceeds to be given to the Rectory Red X Working Party, for which Mrs Butler, of Amner’s Farm, Burghfield, kindly acts as secretary. She also “cuts out” and “presses” all the work, and is responsible for taking it to the Depot in Reading. The number of articles sent in during the past year is 125 treasure bags, 47 pairs of socks, 13 pyjamas, 13 pairs of mittens, 182 pillow cases, 15 helpless case shirts, 52 slings, 8 bandages, 2 mufflers, 5 helmets. It is interesting to know that 20 of the Working Party have been awarded the “W.W.” badge.

Subscriptions to the Fund have already been received from Mrs Willink, £1; Mrs George, 5/-; Mrs Butler, 2/6; Miss Goodall, 2/6; Mrs Davidson, 2/6; and Miss Hannam, 2/6.

February 1918
Rectory Red Cross Working Party

A Whist Drive held at the Jubilee Room on January 10th, in aid of this Working Party, was a great success, the sum of £5 15s 0d being obtained. The prizes were given by the Rector and Mrs George…
A pleasant evening ended by a vote of thanks to the Rector and Mrs George, and the National Anthem.

Burghfield parish magazine, January and February 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Special services

The day after the anniversary was commemorated.

5 August 1917

Anniversary of the beginning of the war. Special prayers at the first selebration of the Holy Eucharist and at Mattins. “GOD Save the King” sung at Evensong.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

5 August 1917

Special services for 4th [sic] anniversary of war.

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

An extra good tea

An enjoyable fete in Burghfield in aid of Red Cross funds attracted some of the recuperating soldiers.

Red Cross Fete

On Thursday, July 12th, a Red Cross Fete was held at Home Close. Sixteen wounded soldiers from Mortimer VAD Hospital were driven over, some in a brake and others in the car kindly lent by Mr and Mrs Willink. The proceedings began by a Rummage Sale and the goods were soon cleared off. There were various side shows. One of the most popular was guessing the name of a doll, 3 guesses for 1d. of course the name had frequently to be changed! Aunt Sally was also much appreciated. The soldiers able to walk about enjoyed helping with these and other games. The weather was perfect and we had tea on the lawn. The soldiers had a table to themselves and an extra good tea….The Misses Gripper’s GFS girls and Sunday School children, also many helpers, had free teas.

After tea, Mr Bulford kindly gave a most excellent Conjuring Entertainment, which the soldiers and everybody much enjoyed. The hearty singing of “God Save The King” brought a happy afternoon to a close, and the soldiers drove away amidst much cheering.

Of course the teas did not pay their way – food being so expensive and so many being given free. By the Rummage Sale and Side Shows we raised about £6. Most of this will go to the Red Cross, but a cauldron of coke has been bought for the Mission Church as a reserve, the cold having been so much felt by the congregation last winter.
We think of giving £2 towards the greatly needed dining hut and recreation room to be erected at Mortimer VAD Hospital.

Burghfield parish magazine, November 1917 (D/EX725/3)

Restore oppressed nations to their rightful heritage

A new sympathy and interest were felt in our more obscure allies. It seemed appropriate at the time to look back at our Serbian allies’ historic fight for freedom from Turkey, now our mutual enemy.

The Vicar’s Notes

What is “KOSSOVO” day? It is the day on which, after fierce fighting, the Serbians came under the domination of the Turk (June 28th, 1389), and it is observed solemnly each year by the Serbian people. I hope to have a special memorial service at S. Mary’s on June 28th, at 12.15, very much on the lines of the service held at S. Pauls Cathedral last year. We ought to do all we can to shew our interest in those oppressed nations (at present under the heel of the German) which we are pledged to restore to their rightful heritage.

Intercessions
For the wounded, especially Fred Nunn.
For the missing, especially Charles Mercott, one of our servers.
For the fallen, especially William Stevens (killed in action in France on April 22nd); Tom Gray (died at the front from spotted fever); Edgar Bland and Ernest Lawrence (killed in action); Frederick Welford (Drowned in action)
R.I.P.

For God’s blessing on the efforts being made to save our country’s food.

Thanksgivings
For the progress of the Allied Arms.
For the gift of reasonable weather to help the Crops.

All Saints District
The War

We again have to mourn losses owing to the war and our sympathies will go out in abundant measure to those who are sorrowing. In Frederick Sales we have lost a former choir boy and we shall feel with his father who still has four sons in the Army, three of whom are in the fighting line.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

A follow up appeared in a later issue:

“Kossovo” Day, June 28th, was largely spoilt by the bad weather, But we were glad to see the Serbian lads once more at S.Mary’s, and we had the support of our Mayor, and of the Principal and Registrar of the University College. The Russian “Kontakion” for the departed was well sung by the Choir; and the service ended with the Serbian Royal Anthem and our own National Anthem. Our earnest prayer is that by next “Kossovo” Day our Serbian friends may be restored to their rightful heritage once more.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

A splendid address on Duty and Patriotism that even the tiniest could understand

Empire Day was the focus for patriotic expressions in schools across the county.

Piggott Schools, Wargrave
Empire Day

The children of the Piggott Schools celebrated Empire Day (May 24th) in right loyal fashion. They assembled at the School, and with flags flying, marched down to Church where a short service was held. The Vicar gave an appropriate address. Re-assembling on the Church Green they proceeded to the Schools and took their places round the flag pole from which the Union Jack was flying. A good number of parents and friends of the children with many of the soldiers from the hospital were waiting their return. As the boys passed the soldiers they gave them a salute in recognition of what they had done for their country.

The National Anthem was sung, and the flag saluted, and Miss. E. Sinclair gave a splendid address on Duty and Patriotism in such a way that even the tiniest could understand it. Capt. Bird proposed a vote of thanks to Miss Sinclair and hearty cheers were given in which the soldiers joined. Three Patriotic and Empire Songs were sung by the children, the Vicar called for cheers for the Teachers, and Mr. Coleby announced that Mrs. Cain had most kindly provided buns and sweets for all as they left the grounds. Hearty cheers were given her for her thoughtfulness. Cheers for the King concluded the proceedings.

Alwyn Road School, Cookham
May 24th 1917

Empire Day was celebrated today. The Headmaster addressed the children assembled in the Hall, and the National Anthem was sung. The children then went to their classrooms and ordinary lessons proceeded till 11 o’clock. Each class teacher then gave a lesson on “Empire” and kindred subjects till 11.30. This was followed by a Writing Lesson when some of the important facts were taken down.

The school assembled in the Hall again at 11.55 and after a few more remarks by the Headmaster the national Anthem was again sung and the children dismissed.

Opportunity was taken of this morning’s addresses to instil into the children’s minds the necessity of economising in the use of all food stuffs, and more especially of bread and flour.

A holiday was granted in the afternoon. (more…)

A Cross in memory of those belonging to Cookham Dean who have given their lives for their Country

Cookham Dean made some initial steps towards a parish war memorial.

The War Memorial

The principal Parochial event of the past month was the Meeting held in the Drill Hall on Thursday evening, May 24th, to consider the possibility of erecting a Village Memorial in connection with the War. Preliminary steps had been taken by the distribution of a circular throughout the Village by Mr. Edwards, the circular having been drawn up by Sir R. Melvill Beachcroft and signed by a considerable number of residents in Cookham Dean. The result of this was that the attendance at the meeting was large and thoroughly representative; apologies for absence were sent by the Vicar and Mr J.W. Stone, who were both unavoidably prevented from being present.

After considerable discussion the following resolutions were proposed and seconded, and carried unanimously:-

1) That a Cross be erected in memory of those belonging to Cookham Dean who have given their lives for their Country: that the Cross be erected on one of three sites suggested in the circular.

2) That a Committee be and is hereby appointed to give effect to the foregoing resolution, with authority to invite subscriptions; and that the Committee consist of those whose signatures were appended to the circular, dated May 1st, if willing to act, with power to add to their number, and that the question of the actual site to be selected for the Cross be determined by voting papers to be circulated by the Comnmittee.

The Singing of the National Anthem and a vote of thanks to the Chairman (Sir R. Melvill Beachcroft) brought the meeting to an end.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P43B/28A/11)

The finest, cosiest, and prettiest place in the whole Second Army Area

A Reading church sponsored a place of recreation for soldiers at the front.

“Words Fail Us.”

Such are the words used on a Christmas card by the Y.M.C.A. to convey their deep gratitude to all who have helped in the erection of Huts in France and elsewhere. The words may be even more fittingly used to emphasise the desperate need for these buildings, and we rejoice in having been privileged to take part in this good work. It will be remembered that soon after our pastor’s return from France in March of last year, he announced his wish to erect a Y.M.C.A. hut, and was met by so gratifying a response from his many friends in Trinity and elsewhere that, by the end of August it was being used by our fighting men on the Western “Front.” This month, by the help of the above-mentioned Christmas card, we are able to show our readers a picture of our own hut.

It is situated La Clytte, about 4.5 miles south-west of Ypres and within three miles of the front firing-line very, very near danger. It is by the side of a road, along which is passing a continual stream of men to and from the trenches. Near by is a rest camp, into which the men are drafted after having served a certain time actually in the line. Hence our Hut, capable of accommodating from two hundred to three hundred men, meets the very real need of a large number of men actually in “the thick of it.”

The picture represents its actual appearance from outside, which resembles many other Y.M. Huts, but the interior is most beautifully and artistically decorated with about 250 coloured pictures, with the result that Mr. Holmes (Sec. Y.M.C.A. 2nd Army) pronounces it to be the finest, cosiest, and prettiest place in the whole Second Army Area. For this proud distinction we must thank its present leader, Mr Cecil Dunford, who is an artist, and so in touch with colour-printing firms. To him, too, we are indebted to him for our picture. His helpers are the Rev. Eric Farrar, son of Dean Farrar a most interesting fact and the Rev. Herbert Brown, Chaplain to the Embassy at Madrid.

At Christmas-time, our thoughts flew naturally to the men in our Hut, and Mr Harrison, anticipating our wishes, telegraphed that a sum of £20 was to be spent on festivities. It will interest all to hear what was done.

On Christmas Eve a Carol service took place, assisted by a regimental band, followed by a distribution of free gifts and cake. On Christmas Day the Hut was crowded for service at 10 a.m., and 45 men present at Holy Communion. From 12-1 a free distribution of cakes and tea was enjoyed. An afternoon concert was held, after which the men were again supplied with tea and cakes. At 6.30 p.m. a very informal concert was held, interspersed with games and amusing competitions ducking for apples bobbing in a pail of water, drawing in to the mouth a piece of toffee tied to a long string held between the teeth, pinning blindfold a moustache to the Kaiser’s portrait, etc. Free drinks and tobacco were again distributed, and after three hearty cheers for the people of Reading, the National Anthem brought a memorable day to a close.

To the men this day was a bright spot in their cheerless, dangerous life, and their enjoyment is depicted by Mr Dunford in some clever sketches one of a man straight from the line, in a tin helmet and with pack on his back, beaming happily at a steaming mug of cocoa, and murmuring “Good ‘ealth to the Y.M.”; another man, whose swelled cheek testifies to the huge mouthful of sandwich (evidently “tres bon!” in quality and quantity), wittily designated “an attach in force on the salient.” To the helpers the Christmas festivities evidently proved exhausting as shown by two laughable sketches of utter collapse, one worker clinging feebly to a post, the other being dragged along the floor to a place of rest. Yet we venture to think that even they, with us, rejoice to do something to brighten the lot of our brave boys in khaki.


Trinity Congregational Church, Reading: magazine, February 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

“The children are like soldiers”

The Wargrave parish magazine’s account of a children’s entertainment is full of war allusions.

Sir Charles Henry gave a treat to the School Children on Thursday, December 21st. It was very kind of Sir Charles and it would be difficult for him to realize how much pleasure it gave the children and all concerned.

The Teachers arranged a programme which was gone through in the spirit it deserved – the audience in no way lacking appreciation. Indeed, the children are like soldiers and the entertainments they enjoy are those in which they entertain themselves. That the tea was thoroughly enjoyed no one could doubt. Like the present Cabinet “quick decisions” seemed the order of the day in the matter of buns and cakes. Peace was not declared till the buns were as scarce as we hope the Huns will soon be.

Previous to the singing of “God save the King,” which terminated the proceedings, cheers were given for Sir Charles Henry, the three teachers, and all those who contributed towards the enjoyment of the evening.

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