A real work of loving service for our brave soldiers and sailors

Newbury women were hard at work sewing for various deserving war causes, while even the mayor (a local solicitor) had joined up.

The members of the Red Cross Work Party continue their labours with undiminished energy. They have up till now held 40 meetings, and have sent work to the British Red Cross Society, the French Red Cross, the Belgian, Italian and Serbian ditto, the Russian Prisoners of War Fund, the Navy League, HMS Conquest (Lieut. Gordon Burgess’s ship), the mine-sweeper Newbury, the War Depot at Wickham House, the Newbury Hospital, Park House Hospital, the Ripon War Hospital, and Hospitals in France and Malta. The Work Party may well be proud of such a record, but we know that it is with all the members a real work of loving service for our brave soldiers and sailors…

We were pleased the other day to see the late Mayor of Newbury, Councillor Bazett, back in the town, looking particularly well. We wish him all success in the Army, and hope that he will come back safe and sound.

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

“Our prayers are needed for the people of Russia, that they may be united in their new liberty”

The parish of Newbury feared the Russian Revolution would make the war longer.

The War still drags on, and the Revolution in Russia has not tended towards making it shorter: our prayers are needed for the people of Russia, that they may be united in their new liberty, and may stand firm against the enemy.

The War has lately claimed two more of our men, and we offer our sincere sympathy to Mrs Cox, of 6, Rosemary Terrace, and Mrs Preston, of 3, Rosemary Terrace, on the loss of their husbands. Several of our CLB lads have lately had to join up. There is still urgent need for economy in the matter of our food, and a food economy exhibition has lately been held in the Corn Exchange.

It is most unfortunate that, just as new and most suitable premises had been secured for the Soldiers’ Club, all the soldiers should disappear from Newbury: and the committee are accordingly left in a difficulty as to what to do. At this moment the club is furnished, but is not open, and we cannot hear of any more soldiers coming. The Secretary and Treasurer of the Club is Miss Godding, and the Committee are Mrs S A Hawker, Mrs O’Farrell, Mrs H Hollands, Mrs Palmer, and Miss A Boyer. These ladies have made the Club a great success by their hard work, and with the assistance of other helpers.

Newbury St Nicolas parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

A soliderly and workmanlike experience of camp life

Many men from west and north Berkshire had volunteered to serve in a Home Defence unit.

The Newbury Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Berkshire Volunteer Regiment went into Camp at Churn from Friday, July 13th, to Sunday the 15th, and had a very good time. This Battalion comprises men from Wallingford, Newbury, Abingdon and Wantage, and formerly went under the title of “The Home Defence Corps”. In order that we may not convey valuable information to the enemy, it would be as well not to mention the particular duties upon which the men of Newbury were on this occasion engaged. Suffice it to say that they set about them in a soldierly and workmanlike manner, and gained the approval of the Major, and Adjutant, and Captain, and other Officers.

The experience of camp life was new to a large number of those present, but there were also some seasoned veterans, who could speak of a similar experience of 20 or 30 years ago. The air of Churn is most invigorating, so much so indeed that some of the company appeared to spend a large portion of the first night in animated conversation, but were quieter the second night, though even then there were those who found sleep difficult, owing partly to the unaccustomed hardness of their bed. A religious Service was held on Sunday morning, at 9.30, by the Chaplain. The catering was done by Mr Tombs, and earned well merited praise. There are many more men in Newbury who ought to join the Battalion.

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

Fit to take wounded cases from overseas

The Managing Committee of Newbury District Hospital were pleased that had won their case to continue to take wounded soldiers rather than mere convalescents – but they feared their rivals in Reading were hogging all the most challenging cases.

Thursday July 12th 1917

Letters from Colonel Russel dated the 6th and 9th inst. Were read, and the Hon. Sec. reported that prior to the receipt of the latter letter he had seen the Consulting Surgeon of the Southern Command who had been over the Hospital with him and had expressed himself pleased in all respects and quite satisfied that it was fit to take wounded cases from Overseas as distinguished from Convalescent cases, and had promised to see that the Hospital received its quota of such cases through Reading.

Resolved that no further attempt be made to question the decision of the Authorities as regards affiliation to Reading and that every effort be made to insure that the Hospital does in fact receive from Reading its fair quota of wounded cases as promised, and not convalescent cases.

Resolved further that Messrs Peake, Graham Roberts, and Howard Savill be appointed to act with the Chairman as a small committee to suggest a scheme for working under the new arrangement, including any desirable re-arrangement or apportionment of the Clerical and similar duties involved, and the relief of the Matron from such duties as far as may be practicable.

Newbury District Hospital minute book (D/H4/3/2)

A church in a hut, and quite a parish!

An army chaplain from Newbury writes on his work:

The Rev. H C Roberts writes to the Rector from the Front as follows:

“I was very pleased to get your letter and to hear some of the Newbury news. It was forwarded on to me, as I have moved on from my last station, and am now at Garrison Mess, APOS 19. It doesn’t convey much, does it? This is a very much bigger place than where I was last, and I am in charge of this part. We have a very nice church in a hut all fitted out with an altar, reading desk, etc. I believe it is about the only one of its kind out here – it holds about 170 men, and at the voluntary evening service it gets quite full. We have two early services on Sundays, 6.15 and 7.15, and an evening communion on the last Sunday of the month. More men we find are able to make their communions in the evening owing to work, so it gives them the opportunity. Here too we have a CEMS Meeting one night in the week, and last time we had about 15 present. Of course work varies very much according to district, etc. In that way this is very much better than my last place. In addition we have various parade services on Sunday too. So you see it is quite a parish!! and, as you may imagine, a pretty big one too…

We are having some very hot weeks again (this was written in July, ED) now, but for one or two nights it turned quite cold. I am sorry I can’t tell you much of the place or work, but of course we are allowed to say very little in our letters, and all mention of places, kind of work, visits, etc, is prohibited, and I can imagine quite rightly.”

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

Police uniforms will have to be lower quality

The war continued to have an impact on the local police service.

7 July 1917

On 8 May last the Acting Chief Constable was informed by the Home Office that the War Cabinet had decided that further members of Police Forces should be released for military service; and that the minimum number to be supplied by Berkshire was 20. he accordingly released that number of the youngest Constables on 1 June, as follows:

PC 44, James H. Benson Married
PC 193, Wilfred Thomas Ditto
PC 192, Henry J. Boshier Ditto
PC 59, James Strange Ditto
PC 29, Charles J. Simmonds Single
PC 187, Harry Hankins Married
PC 180, George W. G. Plumb Ditto
PC 152, Bertie W. Smith Ditto
PC 4, Charles W. Green Ditto
PC 220, Bertram G. Sherwood Ditto
PC 207, Albert J. Harvey Ditto
PC 160, Allan Miles Single
PC 76, Kenneth Chapman Married
PC 157, James A. Butler Ditto
PC 191, Ernest Culley Ditto
PC 67, Ernest West Ditto
PC 53, Francis G. E. Bailey Single
PC 118, Frederick Bailey Ditto
PC 8, Charles V. Foster Married
PC 121, Thomas H. Fletcher Ditto

In accordance with the Committee’s decision on 5 July, 1915, the allowance to the wives of married Constables during the latter’s absence on military service will be the amount the Constables were receiving from Police Funds for pay and war bonus – less the amount received from Army Funds … and the wives will be allowed to remain in their houses on payment of half the usual deduction for house rent.

As regards the single Constables, PC 29 Simmonds alone has been contributing regularly, 6/- per week to the support of his relatives, and the Sub-committee recommend that an allowance of 6d per day be granted in this case.

No further First Police Reservists have been called up for active Police duty, and endeavours will be made to manage with the assistance of the Special Constables whenever practicable.

Three of the Constables who have now joined the Army formed part of the number furnished under agreement to Newbury Borough, and have not yet been replaced pending the reconsideration of the agreement.

Clothing and Helmets for 1918

A tender was obtained from Messrs Titley, Son & Price for the supply of Police clothing for 1918, but the prices being so much in excess of the previous contract, they were communicated with, with a view to the prices being reduced; and they subsequently offered to supply the clothing at the same prices as in 1917, but stipulated that, while the material would be serviceable, it would be of a lower quality. The overcoats, capes and undress trousers would be of the same weight and appearance as, but would not be, all wool. At the same time they strongly recommended the retention of the Sergeants’ and Constables’ winter trouser material at the price quoted, viz £1.1s.0d, instead of 16s 0d as last year. It is recommended that this offer be accepted.

The garments required for the 1918 issue will be Great Coats, Serges, Dress Trousers, Undress Trousers, and Summer Helmets.

Messrs Christy & Co are at present unable to tender for the Caps and Helmets, owing to the Government having commandeered their stock and, as the Committee understand other firms are in like position, it is recommended that tenders be not invited this year.

Adopted.

Class “B” First Police Reserve

The position and pay of Class “B” men on the First Police Reserve – some of whom have been on duty since the beginning of the war – have been brought to the notice of the Sub-committee. In view of the present high prices of food, etc, the Sub-committee recommend that their rate of pay be increased from 5/- to 5/6 per day as from 1 April, 1917…

Carried: That Class “B” First Police Reserve be granted a bonus of 3/6 per week as from 1 April, 19817, instead of the increased rate of pay as recommended by the Finance Sub-committee.

Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

Not suitable for convalescents

A special meeting of the Managing Committee of Newbury District Hospital was called when the hospital’s provisions were downgraded from treating wounded soldiers to acting as a glorified nursing home. The hospital was deeply offended.

Thursday July 5th 1917:

The Hon. Secretary produced correspondence received from the Officer in charge of the Military Hospital, Tidworth, from which it appeared Newbury Hospital had been transferred to the control of Reading War Hospital as from June 18th and in future Convalescent Soldiers were to be received instead of Soldiers from Overseas.

After discussion, it was resolved to request the Hon. Secretary to write to the Military Authorities and state the Managing Committee of the Hospital learn with surprise that Convalescent Soldiers are in future going to be sent instead of Overseas Patients, the Committee do not know the reason for the change as they are perfectly ready as before to receive Overseas Patients & have recently at the urgent request of the Military Authorities spent a large sum of money in building a new annexe for the purpose of receiving Overseas Patients, the mixing of Convalescents with ordinary Civilian Patients is not workable.

The Newbury District Hospital is established for the treatment of Patients from the Neighbourhoods for cases of Sickness & Accidents and two Buildings have been specially erected to accommodate wounded Soldiers. Already between 400 and 500 wounded Soldiers have been successfully treated. No complaint whatsoever of the treatment of them has been received & the Committee have heard with surprise that Convalescents are going to be sent. Are there any reasons for the change?

Our staff of Doctors and Nurses are fully qualified and we possess all the necessary appliances of a fully established Hospital and in the opinion of the Committee it is not suitable for Convalescents.

It was unanimously agreed to send a copy of the above resolution to the Military Authorities to be followed with a request for an interview.

Newbury District Hospital minute book (D/H4/3/2)

We trust their sacrifice will be accepted

A general memorial service was held in Newbury parish church.

Mattins on the last Sunday in June [24 June] was followed by a Choral Celebration at 11.45, or thereabouts, and there were a good number of communicants as well as others present who did not communicate. The service was in commemoration of those fallen in the War, whose sacrifice, we trust, will be accepted through “the One Perfect and Sufficient Sacrifice”. A similar arrangement of services is being held on Sunday, July 22nd.

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

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)

One of the sacrifices which the war calls upon us to make

Clergy who had volunteered to become chaplains to the armed forces left vacancies at home, which other clergymen were asked to fill.

As many of our readers know, the Rev. P.L. Tomkins is leaving the Parish at the beginning of June. When Mr. Tomkins volunteered for National Service he had in intention of severing his connection with Bracknell, but the work which the Bishop assigned to him is to help in a Parish in Newbury, where help is greatly needed, and where the Bishop wished him to stay for so long a period that there was no alternative but for Mr. Tomkins to give up his home here and move his possessions to Newbury. It is with very great that we shall part with so old a friend. He has worked here for nearly ten years, and he will be greatly missed. Our prayers and good wishes will follow him and Mrs. Tomkins in the new home to which they are going.

His departure will leave Bracknell less well provided with Clergy than it has been hitherto, but this is one of the sacrifices which the war calls upon us to make.

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Magazine, June 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/6)

“If we waste bread, we are helping the Germans to win the war”

Newbury people were urged not to waste food, particularly bread.

The King has issued a Proclamation on food saving, which is being read, by Royal Command, in Church, but it would perhaps be also as well to put the case in plain language:

1. The stock of bread in the country is not sufficient.

2. The German submarines may make it still more in-sufficient.

3. Therefore we must save all the bread we can.

4. We must not catch horses with bread.

5. We must not give crusts to birds or pigs.

6. We must not throw bread into the street, canal, or dust-bin.

7. We must not cut the crusts off toast.

8. We must eat as little bread as is consistent with health.

9. If we do otherwise, we are helping the Germans to win the war.

The Soldiers’ Club is moving on June 2nd, to “the King’s Arms” in the Market Place. This Hostel must now resign itself to the provision of temperance drinks only. The ladies in charge will be glad of any help in money or kind.

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

Impress upon the children the urgent need for the prevention of waste in food

Schools in Newbury were struggling thanks to the war.

Thursday, May 24th, 1917

Resignation of Teachers

Mr G H Keen, an assistant master at the Council Boys’ School, had been called up for military service on May 18th, and it is recommended that his appointment be kept open for him.

The secretary was instructed to press for the release from military service of one of the Authority’s teachers who since his enlistment had been medically classified as low as C3, and in the event of this teacher being discharged from the Army to appoint him temporarily to the Council Boys’ School.

It may be mentioned that there were eight Assistant Masters in the service of the Local Education Authority before the war; but now there are only two in the whole of the Borough Schools, and one of these is filling the position temporarily….

Food Economy

A letter was received from the Board of Education calling attention to the urgent need for economy in food and especially for saving in bread, and stating that information had reached the Food Controller that there was waste among the children who brought their midday meal to school. The Sub-committee were informed that the matter had been brought to the notice of the Authority’s Head Teachers, and that they had been asked to impress upon the children the urgent need for the prevention of waste in food.

The Sub-committee were also informed that “Empire Day”, Thursday May 24th, was made the occasion in the Borough Schools for giving the children a special lesson on the subject of Food Economy, and also that copies of the recent Proclamation of the King were distributed in the schools.

The Sub-committee considered the question of providing a Public Kitchen for the use of children who bring their midday meal to school, and the secretary was instructed to ascertain the number of these children in the Borough Schools, and to submit a report on the matter to the next meeting….

Finance, School Management and General Purposes Sub-committee of the Newbury Borough Education Committee (N/AC1/2/8)

Some disabled ex-soldiers are refusing to work

Berkshire County Council found the war coming close to home when its Deputy Clerk, who had joined the army soon after the start of the war, was reported killed. Meanwhile they had begun to tackle the problem of those men who had returned home from the front with a permanent disability as a result of wounds. How might they be retrained?

DEATH OF THE DEPUTY CLERK

Resolved on the motion of the Chairman [James Herbert Benyon]: That a vote of condolence be forwarded to the widow of Lieut-Col H U H Thorne in her bereavement, and that it be accompanied by an expression of the great loss sustained by the Council in the untimely, though gallant, death in action of their Deputy Clerk.

Report of the Berkshire War Pensions Committee

The War Pensions Committee commenced their work on the 1 October, 1916.

The County, in accordance with the Scheme arranged by the County Council, has been divided into twelve Sub-committees, being, for the main part, one Sub-committee for each petty sessional division; but there have been certain adjustments, for the convenience of working, between the divisions of Wokingham and Easthampstead, while the Lambourn division has been divided between Wantage and Newbury division, with the exception of the parish of Lambourn itself, which is being worked by a Secretary and Treasurer.

Almoners have been appointed for each parish throughout the County, and the Almoners and Sub-committees respectively have had powers given them to deal with all urgent cases of wives and dependants of soldiers and sailors requesting financial assistance, each case being reported to this Committee for approval or revision as the circumstances may require.

During the six months alterations have been made in the amount of the State Separation Allowances and valuable additional powers have been given to the Pensions Committee in the way of making additional grants to meet to some extent the increase in prices, and the work has been now thoroughly organised.

Since the 1 October, 1916, up to the 30 April, 1917, the Finance and General Purposes Sub-committee have dealt with 1326 cases of Advances, Supplementary and Temporary Allowances, Temporary and Emergency Grants, etc. The payments made up to the 30 April, in respect of these Allowances and Grants, amount to a sum of £2299 2s 11d.

In addition to this the Sub-committee have dealt with 33 cases of Supplementary Pensions, which have been recommended to the War Pensions etc Statutory Committee.

The other section of the work of the committee is the very important and constantly increasing work of dealing with discharged and disabled soldiers and sailors. The principle adopted has been that so soon as the notification of the discharge of a man into the county has been received, the particulars are sent down to the Secretary of the Sub-committee in whose district the man proposes to live; enquiries are made in the district as to the man’s physical condition with a view of ascertaining whether he needs further medical treatment or training for some form of employment other than that to which he was accustomed prior to his disablement, and further inquiries to ascertain whether he needs financial assistance of either a temporary or permanent character, other than that provided by his pension, if any.

Considerable difficulty has been found in many cases where men have refused to work for fear of endangering the continuance of their pension, or because they are satisfied to remain as they are for the time being at any rate with the pension that they hold. The new Royal Warrant, however, will considerably strengthen the hands of the committee, as the Ministry of Pensions are entitled to withhold a portion of a pension if a man refuses to undertake treatment which the Pensions Committee, acting on medical advice, consider necessary for him, and the Pensions Committee will be enabled to grant a Separation Allowance for the wife and children where the man is undertaking training, and, further, to pay the man a bonus for each week of a course of training which he has competed to their satisfaction.

The provision of training is a difficult matter, as the necessary organisations are few and far between. In Berkshire the committee have three Schemes in course of formation. (more…)

Stop the lavish display of eatables in many provision and food shops

Some people were keen to ensure the authorities cracked down on food waste.

Friday, May 18th, 1917

Food Economy

A communication from Mr G S Shaw, Hon. Secretary of the Food Economy Bureau, Newbury, was read, drawing attention to (1) the lavish display of eatables in many provision and food shops; (2) the waste of bread; and (3) the waste of other food material suitable for pigs; and suggesting the establishment of co-operative kitchens under the control of the Corporation.

The Committee fully appreciate the seriousness of the matters to which their attention has been called, particularly with regard to the reported waste of bread, and the Town Clerk was requested to issue public warning of the heavy penalties to which persons are liable who in any way infringe the Regulations under the Defence of the Realm Act with regard to such waste.

Newbury Borough Council: Finance, Watch and General Purposes Committee minutes (N/AC1/2/8)

“He feels it to be his duty to volunteer”

Two church workers from Newbury were headed to the front.

The Rev. H C Roberts has been accepted as a temporary Army Chaplain, and by this time will be in France. He will be much missed in the church for his thoughtful and direct sermons, and in the Day and Sunday Schools for his real power of teaching and interesting the children. We wish he could have been here longer with us, but he feels it to be his duty to volunteer, and we congratulate him on being so promptly accepted by the Authorities. We wish him every blessing and success in his new work, and a safe return home.

Mr G F Pyke has been called up, and is a severe loss to the CLB, which he Captained so well, and to the Boys’ School.

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