Much needed gifts for the Belgians via Harrods

People from Cranbourne and Chavey Down were generous in their gifts for our Belgian allies.

Chavey Down

The working party at Chavey Down have forwarded a nice parcel of very well made children’s clothes to the Belgian Refugees at Folkestone, where they are very much needed.


The HARVEST THANKSGIVING SERVICES were held on October 5th. Only the East end and the Font were decorated with flowers. The real decorations of the Church were gifts from the congregation for the distressed in Belgium. A really remarkable response was made to the appeal for these gifts. Nine cases (kindly given by Mr. Laird) were delivered to Messrs. Harrods for shipment to Belgium. The driver of the van said “I am going back to London with almost as much as I started with.”

* * *

The following are the names of those from this Parish who are serving in His Majesty’s Forces:

Creasy G., Midshipman H. M. S. Conqueror.
Creasy, R., 2nd Lieut. R. F. A.
Haig, J., Major, Westminster Dragoons.
Needham, E. J., Lieut, Northamptonshire Regiment.
Needham, R. P., 2nd Lieut, Northamptonshire Regiment.
Phillips, E. H., D. S. O, Major R. F. A.
Phillips, R. N., Captain, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Phillips, G. F., Captain, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.
Andrews, James, Hampshire Regiment.
Barratt, Archibald Richard, National Reserve.
Beasley, T.
Brant, Ernest Harold.
Bish, Walter George, Army Service Corps.
Boyde, Albert Ernest, Army Service Corps.
Boyde, Edward Joseph, Royal Navy.
Clarke, Wilfred Lawson, Royal Berks Regiment.
Cox, Amariah, Royal Berks Regiment.
Curtis, Eric, Seaforth Highlanders.
George, William, Royal Artillery.
Goodchild, Charles.
Greenough, Edward, Royal Engineers.
Herridge, John, Royal Engineers.
Herridge, William, Royal Engineers.
Harwood, Frederick, 12th Lancers.
Higgs, Herbert, Army Service Corps.
Holliday, Walter George, Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
Harriss, Theodore William, Royal Berks Regiment.
Harriss, Frederick, Royal Engineers.
Hawthorn, George Albert, Royal Naval Flying Corps.
Hillyer, Tom, Canadian Contingent.
Mapp, Ernest, Royal Berks Regiment.
Pither, J. A., Royal Berks Regiment.
Pither, J., Enniskillen Dragoons.
Sarney, Albert Edward, Royal Navy.
Sarney, Francis, Grenadier Guards.
Searle, George, 2nd Life Guards.
Walls, Charles John, Royal Berks Regiment.
Walls, Leslie, Royal Berks Regiment.
Williams, R. F. Maxwell, Royal Naval Brigade.
Ward, Theodore Alfred, Royal Berks Regiment.
Weston, George.

* * *

C. E. M. S.
The annual business meeting was held on October 14th. After the Election of Officers and other business them embers and a few friends were shown some lantern slides illustrating the war in Belgium.

Chavey Down and Cranbourne sections of Winkfield District Magazine, November 1914 (D/P151/28A/6/11)

A child’s house of cards in ruins

Maidenhead Congregational Church ponders the war, which seems to have come as something of a shock to them, and remembers its own young men who have joined up:


To most of us the war came as an immense surprise. We thought war between the great nations, the civilized, not to say the Christian, nations, was at an end for ever. We heard with irritation and impatience the many prophecies that war was bound to come, thinking them nothing but stupid cries of “wolf”. We believed that Christian teaching and the influence of the Churches in England and Germany had built up an edifice of trust and good feeling, which made the talk of possible war nothing but a monstrous absurdity. But alas! That edifice at a touch tumbled into ruins like a child’s house of cards, and we were plunged into the most tremendous war in all history!

At the directors meeting of the London Missionary Society on Tuesday last a latter was read from the directors of a Missionary Society in Germany, comprising no doubt as sincere and godly a band of men as any in that country, which spoke of Germany’s passionate desire that peace should not have been broken, and of the wicked conspiracies of Germany’s enemies, which had forced war upon her! To us the case seems not a little different. Surely we are under no delusion in saying that there was nothing our statesmen would not have done to maintain peace, short of treachery to honour and pledged word! But there was a point beyond which it was not possible to go. “The whole value and beauty of life is that it holds treasures for which men will even dare to die!”

Let us never cease to pray that God will defend the right, and bring victory to our arms. And may it not be, that even by means of the thunder of monstrous guns, and the clash of ten millions of armed men, shall come a truer knowledge of the unspeakable blessings of peace, a new upspringing of the spirit of true brotherhood, a more earnest turning of the hearts of men to Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of all mankind, and the Prince of Peace.


An official shambles is redressed by church efforts to provide basic comforts for the troops

Broad Street Congregational Church tells us about its work providing hospitality for soldiers passing through Reading – and incidentally reveals the shambles of the official organisation:

Amongst the many changes caused by the war is a big increase in the number of soldiers at the Barracks and other places in the district. We have all sorts in our midst – Regulars, reservists, Lord Kitchener’s Army and Territorials – and they come from all parts of the country. For the most part they spend a few days only in the neighbourhood and then pass on to other centres.

In the early days of the recruiting for Lord Kitchener’s Army there was such a tremendous inrush of men that the authorities were quite unable to provide for their comfort, and we hear strange tales of the lack of food, sleeping out in the open without even a blanket for covering and other discomforts. Under the circumstances it seemed imperative that something should be done to relieve the situation, and so our schools were thrown open for the use of our soldier friends from 5.30 to 10 p.m. each evening. Arrangements were made for a “wash and brush up”, for shaving, writing, reading, games (including billiards, bagatelle, etc), a smoke and sing-song – all free of expense – and for the provision of refreshments at a moderate charge.

That the provision made had met a felt need was quickly demonstrated by the numbers who came to partake of our hospitality. The rooms were crowded almost from the first, and they continue so.
Happily the condition of things at the Barracks has greatly improved. But there is still need for the work we are trying to do. The men are at a loose end in the evening. They have nowhere to go and nothing to do. We are trying, therefore, to give them an opportunity for social intercourse, and to provide a counter attraction to the public house and other undesirable places, and the fact that we have so largely succeeded has greatly cheered those who are responsible for the arrangements.

Expense must necessarily be incurred in connection with work such as this. There is the extra heating, lighting and cleaning to be considered apart altogether from the other expenses involved. A number of our friends have already given contributions of money. Others have generously sent supplies of groceries and provisions for the refreshment room. Others again have sent us magazines. Whilst one or two others have put billiard and bagatelle tables and other games at our disposal. We are very grateful for the help given in this way, and should be glad to have further help from other friends who may be interested. Mr Layton Francis has kindly undertaken to collect subscriptions, and he will be pleased to hear from any of our friends who can help in any way.

Note: The schools referred to are the Sunday School buildings belonging to the church rather than day schools.
Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, October 1914 D/N11/12/1/14

The right spirit: call to join the reserves in south Berkshire

Former soldiers too old to join up at the start of the war were encouraged to join the National Reserve, making themselves available for service if required. The Sulhamstead parish magazine explains:

The National Reserve, which in Berkshire was closely associated at the outset with the Caversham and Reading Veterans’ Association, is a register of officers and men who have served satisfactorily in any naval or military capacity, and who are no longer liable for service as reservists. Membership is voluntary. There is no uniform; but a badge is issued to all duly enrolled members. The members are organised under the County Associations, with a view to increasing the military resources of the country in the event of imminent national danger. They are divided into three classes, viz:

Class I – Age under 42, and medically fit (now temporarily closed for asmission).
Class II – Aged, Officers and Sergeants under 55, all others under 50, and medically fit.
Class III – (Men unable to undertake any obligation):
(a) Those qualified for Class I, but preferring to Join Class III.
(b) Those qualified for Class II, but preferring to Join Class III.
(c ) All those, without limit of age, not qualified for Classes I or II.

Members joining Classes I and II have to sign an honourable obligation to come up for service when required in time of imminent national danger. They will then be liable to be used to reinforce the Army, for garrison or guard work, as specialists or tradesmen in technical branches, or in hospital, veterinary, remount, clerical, recruiting, or other military duties.
Class I may be required to serve either at home or abroad. Class II can only be used in this country.

There is no pay except on actual service; but National Reservists of all ranks and classes who are duly accepted for service on moblilisation, whether with the Regular Army or the Territorial Force, will receive the current Army rates of pay and allowances, according t the nature of their employment; and they or their families are eligible for pensions and allowances in case of disability or death occurring in actual service.

Four “Berks National Reserve” Battalions have been filled mainly from the towns, but it is desired now to bring the movement within reach of the country districts, and in this particular neighbourhood a new Company (No 8) of the 1st Battalion is in course of formation. Its normal area for membership will, as at present arranged, include the following parishes, viz.: Burghfield, Sulhamstead, Mortimer, Wokefield, Beech Hill, Shinfield, Grazeley, Ufton, Padworth, Aldermaston, Beenham, Bucklebury, Frilsham, Yattendon, Stanford Dingley, Bradfield, Tidmarsh, and Theale. Applications however will be entertained from residents in any adjoining parish which is in the Reading Postal District, and is not within the area of another Company.

All persons, of whatever rank, who are qualified for any of the three “Classes” are cordially invited to communicate with Mr E T Norton (Colour-Sergeant), The Oaks, Sulhamstead, Reading, or with Mr H G Willink (Captain, commanding the Company), Hillfields, Burghfield, Mortimer, Berks.

The Company already numbers nearly 30, and there is no reason why it should not reach full strength, with a proper complement of Officers and NCOs.

After the war is over it is particularly hoped that all the men discharged from “Kitchener’s Army”, who come back to this area, will join. The terms of their enlistment do not include any period of retention on the Regular Reserve; and the National Reserve will afford the best chance for their keeping on touch with each other, and not passing away out of sight.

This is not an appeal to any man on the ground that he personally will get any pecuniary or material benefit out of membership. It rests upon better grounds. To men who are fortunate enough not to be too old it offers the renewed prospect of rendering to their country useful service in time of need. To all men, who have shown already that they have the right spirit in them, it offers opportunities of keeping alive that spirit, in fellowship with others, and with the consciousness that they are still recognised as part of the national forces. And upon all, unless and until occasion arises, it makes no present demand beyond a few parades and musters, and perhaps the taking honourable part in public gatherings.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, October 1914 (D/EX725/3)

Recruits wanted in Burghfield

The village of Burghfield was one where there was much enthusiasm encouraging the young men to answer Lord Kitchener’s call to arms. The parish magazine combines reportage with propaganda:

Burghfield Recruits wanted
Lord Kitchener wants 100, 000 men for his new Regular Army. Every able bodied young man who has not very strong reasons for standing out ought to offer himself.

Those who cannot possibly do this will find information below how to be of service to their King and Country in this time of need. But Kitchener’s appeal must come first.

Two enthusiastic meetings were held on August 18th (at the Technical School) and August 19th (at the Jubilee Room) to promote recruiting: and a strong committee is being formed for the purpose.

A stirring sermon was preached on Sunday morning in the Parish Church by the Rev. Holland Stubbs on the text from Numbers xxxii.6, “Shall your brethren go to war and shall ye sit here?

Age for enlistment.
Ex-soldiers – up to 42.
(Ex-Non-Commissioned Officers particularly needed.)
All others – 19 to 35.

Physical Standards.
Height – 5 ft 3 in or upwards.
Chest – 34 inches or over.

Period of Service – the duration of the war. Men will be discharged as soon as possible at its close.

Recruiting Centre (Sergeant Cole, Recruiting Sergeant) – The Depot (Barracks) Royal Berks Regiment, Oxford Road, Reading; also at the 4th Royal Berks Headquarters, St Mary’s Butts.

Special Reserve.

Age for Enlistment.
Ex-Reservists – Up to 35.
Recruits for Royal Army Medical Corps, Royal Garrison Artillery, and good tradesmen for Royal Engineers – Up to 35.
Ex-Regulars (if satisfying certain conditions) – Up to 38.
All others – 17 to 30.

Physical Standards.
Height – From 5 ft 2 in (Infantry).
Chest – Measurement according to height.
All recruits must be able to read and write.

Period of Service – On original enlistment, 6 years; on re-enlistment, 4 years.
Recruiting Officer – Apply to the Barracks, Reading.

NB – Special Reservists who joined before 11th August can claim a bounty on enlisting in Kitchener’s Army.

Age for enlistment: up to 35.
Period of Service – 4 years (may be extended in case of war).
Recruiting Centres.
Infantry – Headquarters 4th Royal Berks Regt, St Mary’s Butts, Reading.
Yeomanry [the cavalry] – Yeomanry House, Castle Hill, Reading.

NATIONAL RESERVE (open only to men who have served in some branch of His Majesty’s Regular or Auxiliary Forces).
Ages for joining, and classification.
Class I: General Service – up to 42.
Class II: Home Service – Officers & Sergeants, up to 55; others, up to 50.
Class III: No obligations. All over age for Class II, and those who are eligible for Class I and II but do not wish to join either.

Recruiting Centre – 13 Castle Street, Reading (near St Mary’s Butts)

NB – A Company of the National Reserve is being formed in Theale and district. All ex-servicemen wishing to join are asked to communicate with Mr W T Norton, The Oaks, Sulhamstead.

Burghfield parish magazine, September 1914 (D/EX725/3)