Camouflage with a vengeance

The Images experienced a power cut as a result of an air raid, and heard some interesting Navy news.

29 Barton Road
22 Oct. ‘17
My Most Dear Old Man

On Friday evening we were at dinner – the clock, I remember, was in the middle of striking 8 – when, in a flash, down went the electric light, and up bounced Florence to find whether it was so all through the house. It was! and we had in a candle, to the accompaniment of bombs and anti-aircraft guns, seemingly 2 miles away to the north. I wonder, were they trying for the aerodrome at Hardwick? for they are reported to have attempted that at T in Norfolk. Well, we went unconcernedly to bed, and were awakened by a glare at 2.10 – sign that the raiders were clear of England. But oh how humiliating! They can drop bombs at will, and unharmed, in England. Once cross to France, and they are chivvied and hustled, go wherever they attempt. The French can bring them down. Never has there been such a field day before, for Zepps.

Some friends, fresh from Liverpool, told me the other day of the steady silent inundation of Americans now overflowing the place. Especially of the hundreds upon hundreds of Yankee aeroplanes, beautifully packed, daily landed on the quays.

In one dry dock these people came across a large Yankee man-of-war, painted blue with pink spots (or was it, pink with blue spots. Those were the colours anyhow.) Camouflage with a vengeance: but it has the effect of destroying outlines and muddling them up at a distance. This they observed especially in the case of HMS Ramillies lying out in the stream – a battleship, painted the most bizarre horror, chiefly black and white stripes.

All this is very fine – but as today’s Daily Mail asks, in Italics, ‘Who commands the North Sea?’ The British navy may be the ‘incomparable’ weapon we hear it called, but it is bluffed by the Huns and its convoys and their escort snapped up by a small force of 2 raiders, almost in hearing of the Grand Fleet. The Kaiser’s vaunt of Germany’s future being on the water looks justified – Nelson went to the Gulf of Riga – but we can’t.

Our united love to you both.
Ever yours,
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

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Fine clothes for wounded officers

Wargrave Surgical Dressings Emergency Society had been very productive, sending masses of bandages, clothing and bedding for the uses of the wounded. Note the class-related distinctions, with officers given better quality items.

Wargrave Surgical Dressings Emergency Society
Feb 22nd, 1917.

Fifteen Bales have left the Wargrave workrooms since January 5th, 1917, in answer to the requisitions of the Director General of Voluntary Organisations.

Six Bales have gone direct for the use of the troops at the Front containing:
564 pairs of Knitted Mittens
277 Knitted Mufflers
148 Knitted Helmets
226 pairs of Socks (heavy hand-knitted)
12 heavy long sleeved Cardigans
12 pair of knitted Gloves
5 dozen pieces of Soap.
And oddments of knitted Comforts.

These all went addressed to the A.M.F.O., Le Havre, France, for immediate distribution.

The other Nine Bales contained:

228 Pneumonia Jackets
308 treasure Bags
156 Long heavy operation Stockings
58 pairs of fine pyjamas for Officers
16 fine Flannel Shirts for Officers
156 Surgical Boots and Slippers
13 Pillows
24 Pillow Cases
36 Handkerchiefs
108 Knitted Washcloths
6 double-lined fine twill Flannel Dressing Gowns for Officers
8 fine flannel dressing jackets for Officers
6 pairs of soft grey flannel ward suits for Officers

Hospitals sent to:

C.O 11 General Hospital, B.E.F., France
Sister-in-Charge, 8 Ambulance Train, B.E.F., France
Military Orthopaedic Hospital, Duncane Road, Shepherd’s Bush
The Stewart Norfolk War Hospital for Officers, Thorpe, Norwich
The Matron 17 Park Lane, London (for Officers)
The Highland Casualty Clearing Station, B.E.F., France
Military Hospital, Park Hall Camp, Owestry (Urgent).

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

Shot in cold blood, and now “beyond the reach of human injustice and incompetence”

Cambridge don John Maxwell Image was excited by the new tanks rolling into action; philosophical about air raids – and horrified by first-hand stories of the executions of young men for cowardice or desertion.

29 Barton Road
[Cambridge]

23 Sept. ‘16

Mon Ami!

I share your views about the ghastly War. With its slaughters and its expenditure, where shall we be left after it is over. Any peace that leaves Germany still united – united for evil – is a fool madness that deserves the new War it will render a certainty.

I am in a fever to see the photograph of a Tank in action. I can’t imagine its appearance. I don’t believe them lengthy like caterpillars – but more like mammoths, Behemoths – “painted in venomous reptilian colours” for invisibility – and “waddling on” over trenches.

Today’s paper speaks of a seaplane over Dover yesterday. This is the very general prelude to a Zepp raid: and we expect one accordingly tonight, if their courage hasn’t oozed out. There is a Flying Camp near here – at Thetford, I believe. Daily, Planes soar over us – a sight I view every time with fresh pleasure. Twice we have had an Airship – huge, but not like the pictures of the German Zepps. I may as well tell you of our own experience on Saturday 3 weeks ago. Peaceful and unsuspecting, we were sitting in the drawing room at 10.30 when suddenly the electric lights went down and left the house in darkness. This is the official warning of Zepps. So we went out into Barton Rd. Not a glimmer, nor a sound. Quite unimpressive.

We turned in to bed – all standing (in Navy language) – and I into the deepest slumber, from which I was eventually shaken to hear an agitated voice, “they’re here”. I bundled out, lit a match and read on my watch 2.50. There was no mistaking – a thunderous drone, such as I had never heard before – and, seemingly, exactly overhead. We hurried down into the road. The roar grew fainter, and then began – deep and dignified – the guns. I guessed them to be on the Gogmagogs – then sharp explosions, which we took for bombs, thrown haphazard by the Zepp which was undoubtedly fleeing for the coast.

Robinson’s Zepp had come to earth at 2.30. Possibly ours was the wounded bird, which dropped a gondola or something in Norfolk when making its escape?

At 4.5 our electric lights went up again, and we to bed. Decorous night-rails, this time.

The Signora has a wee aluminium fragment from the Zepp that was brought down at Salonica. It was picked up by a young soldier who had been in her Sunday School Class. We had a sudden visit from her youngest brother, Gilbert, home on 6 days leave from Salonica. You have heard me speak of him as the rising artist who at 20 years of age sold a picture for £100, and is now a Tommy at 1/- a day. I fell in love with him on the spot. So simple, so lovable, – above all, such a child – going about the world unprotected!

By the way Gilbert saw the Zepp come down in flames at Salonica.
He had many yarns. The one that most made me shudder was of the announcement at a morning parade, “Sergeant So-and-so of the Connaught Rangers was shot this morning by sentence of a Court Martial for refusing to obey an order”. Just that! I have heard of these shootings in cold blood, several times, at the Front in France. Always they made me feel sick. A boy (on one occasion) of 17 ½, who had fought magnificently at Hill 60: and then lost his nerve, when his 2 brothers were killed in the trench at his side. Pym (our TCC [Trinity College, Cambridge] chaplain) sat with him all night and gave him the Sacrament. He

“could only feel what a real comfort it was to know that the boy was now beyond the reach of human injustice and incompetence”.

Letter from John Maxwell Image to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

Hard training under canvas

A teacher from Reading School who had recently joined up wrote to his headmaster to report on his experiences. Unfortunately, he later found that he had been sacked while on service despite having been promised that his job would be held open. He sued.

June 7th 1916
A Company 2/7 Bat RWF Regiment
Stationed at Elveden Camp
Thetford
Norfolk

Dear Mr Keeton

Many thanks for your letter regarding my application for a testimonial. I agree with you that it might be better to have it later on so as to have it up-to-date, as well as adapted to circumstances. It will also diminish the chances of its being lost either on my travels or at home.

As you will notice from the address, we have been moved from North Wales. We left Abergele rather over a week ago and were sent to Bedford to join the 68th Division, and then sent on here for a few weeks’ special training. I have had a chat with my platoon officer, but he told me there was no probability of my obtaining my commission later on unless I can pass for General Service, and that of course is out of the question owing to my sight.

We have been subjected to rather hard training down here, and are living under canvas. Weather so far has been fairly propitious, however, with the exception of a few thunderstorms and occasional showers of rain. In a few weeks we expect to move again, either back to Bedford or else to a new place.

Yours sincerely
C W Hardisty.

Letter to the headmaster of Reading School (SCH3/5/50)

“When one looks at the casualty lists, one has a vague feeling that the need is very great”

The headmaster of Reading School was keen to serve.

The Burlington
Sheringham
Norfolk

April 17th, 1916

Dear Mr Wells

Thank you for your letter. There could I think be no question of my going until at any rate after the end of the summer term. As you say it is very difficult to say how great the need is. When one looks at the casualty lists, however, one has a vague feeling that it is very great. I should be glad if you would bring my letter before the Governors and let them decide what they think is best.

Kind regards
Yours sincerely

George H Keeton

Letter to the Clerk to the Governors of Reading School (SCH3/5/50)

The only thing is to beat the Germans and we need every able-bodied man

The headmaster of Reading School was ready to join up.

The Burlington
Sheringham
Norfolk

April 13th, 1916

Dear Mr Wells

I am inclined to think that the time has now come when schools should be left in the hands of those who are either incapable of or past military service. It is true that I have offered myself to the War Office for Foreign Service, but I have a feeling that something more is required of a citizen than to wait until our Government can make up its mind.

I should be glad then if you will be good enough on my behalf to ask the Governors whether they will arrange for me to go into the Army if I can induce the military authorities to take me. It may, of course, be that the Governors may think that in view of the amalgamation [with Kendrick Boys’ School] the School may suffer somewhat by any change at this moment, but for myself, I think the only thing is to beat the Germans and for that what with our conscientious objectors and the exemptions for one cause or another we need every able-bodied man.

I am very sorry to see today that Mr Sutton has lost one of his sons.

Kind regards.

Yours sincerely

George H Keeton

Letter to the Clerk to the Governors of Reading School (SCH3/5/50)

Patriotism is not enough

The Maidenhead parish magazine included various inspiring stories arising from the war, some well known today like that of Edith Cavell, other less so.

Sons of the Clergy.

All classes of the community have vied with each other in manifesting courageous self-sacrifice in the nation’s hour of need. But without drawing undue distinctions it is generally admitted that the sons of the clergy have been conspicuous in the Roll of Honour throughout the War. Week after week the long list of names appearing in the Church newspapers bear eloquent testimony to this fact. The work of the clergy in ministering to those left behind in a variety of ways has been of the greatest value.

“How Can I Help England – Say?”

Miss Helena L. Powell, the Principal of St. Mary’s College, Lancaster Gate, has written an earnest and helpful leaflet for children, showing how children can help in the War. It is addressed to the elder children in our Day and Sunday Schools, and copies required for distribution to these may be had free of charge from Miss Edith Neville, Banstead Place, Banstead, Surrey.

A Daughter of the Parsonage.

Edith Cavell, Directrice d’Ecole des Infirmières, Brussels, who was shot by order of Court-Martial in Brussels on a charge of aiding the escape over the frontier of British, French and Belgian soldiers, was the daughter of the late Rev. Frederick Cavell, Vicar of Swardeston, Norfolk. She was formerly a nurse in the London Hospital. In 1907 she went to Brussels, and when the Germans entered the city she refused to leave.

The Rev H. S. Gahan, British Chaplain at Brussels, has given a touching account of her last hours.

“She said, ‘I have no fear nor shrinking. I have seen death so often that it is not strange or fearful to me.’ She further said, ‘I thank God for this ten weeks’ quiet before the end. Life has always been hurried and full of difficulty. This time of rest has been a great mercy. They have all been very kind to me here. But this I would say, standing as I do in view of God and Eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.’

We partook of Holy Communion together, and she received the Gospel message of consolation with all her heart. At the close of the little service I began to repeat the words ‘Abide with Me,’ and she joined softly in the end. We sat quietly talking until it was time for me to go. She gave me parting messages for relations and friends. She spoke of her soul’s needs at the moment, and she received the assurance of God’s Words as only the Christian can do.”

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The Broad Street Brothers continue to serve

Here is the latest list of men associated with the Broad Street Brotherhood asociated with Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading:

MEN OF THE BROTHERHOOD ON ACTIVE SERVICE, NOVEMBER 17TH, 1915

Bailey, 1932 Pte E G, 4th Royal Berks Regiment, 83rd Provisional Battery, Burnham on Crouch, Essex
Barrett, 2045 Sadler Sergt W, 4th Hants (How) Battery, RFA, Indian EF, Aden
Bishop, 4003 Corp. T E, No 1 Supernumery Comp., 4th Batt. Royal Berks Regiment, Barton Court, New Milton, Hants
Brant, 68686 Pte G P, RAMC, V Co, Hut 181, Haig Hutments, Tweseldown Camp, Surrey
Bucksey, 2697 Trooper C, 1st Berks Yeomanry, 2nd South Midland Brigade, 2nd Mounted Division, BMEF
Burgess, 100747 Sapper J, D Co, RE, Inner Lines, Brompton Barracks, Chatham
Burrett, 4005 Pte W, 4th Royal Berks Regiment, Arnould House, High Street, Lowestoft
Chapman, Sapper E, RE, Wantage Hall, Reading
Cox, 888 Dr W J, 1st Berks RHA, 2nd South Midland Brigade, 2nd Mounted Division, BEMEF
Cranfield, Pte G, 2/4th Royal Berks, B Co, 162 Upper Bridge Road, Chelmsford
Edwards, 4078 Pte H, Section 1, MT, ASC, 73rd Co, Attached 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Supply Column, EF, France
Elvin, 1702 Pte A C, RAMC, T, 4th London General Hospital, Denmark Hill, London, SE
Gooch, 2273 Corp. E, B Squadron, Berks Yeomanry, King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Gooch, 1656 Trooper Percy, 1st Berks Yeomanry (wounded)
Gooch, M2/034985, 21st Division Supply Column, 273rd Co, ASC, MT, BEF, France
Goodyear, 69005 Pioneer J, 35th Division Signal Co, RE, Bulford Camp, Wilts
Grigg, Pte C A, RAMC, 16 Radnor Street, Chelsea, London, SW
Hawting, 15775 Pte H T, 1st Batt, Royal Scots Fusiliers, B Co, 3rd Division, BEF, France
Hunt, 9215 Rifleman J, Prisoner of War, 1st Rifle Brigade, English Gefengenem, Solton Colony Konigsmoor, 14P, Hanover, Germany. Letter address only. For parcel address see another entry, No. 37.
Lambden, P134777 Pte F, 9th Co, ASC, MT, Osterly Park, Middlesex
Lay, 1910 Pte W, A Co, No 1 Platoon, 1/4th Royal Berks Regiment, BEF, France
Lee, M2/035034 Driver W R, 345 Co, ASC, MT, 25th Division Sub, Anm. Park, BEF, France
Littlewood, B, RR
Mills, 13026 Pte C, B Co, 5th Platoon, 8th Royal Berks Regiment, BEF, France
Mills, 1621 Sadler Corp. H, 3rd troop, B Squadron, Royal Berks Yeomanry, 2nd South Midland Mounted Brigade, 2nd Mounted Division, Albania Barracks, Cairo
Milner, 2678 Lance-Corp. H J, 1/6th East Surrey Regiment, E Co, Signallers, No 13 Bungalow, Kuldana, Murree, India
Parr, 71372 Sapper F C, Royal Engineers, 20 Lancaster Road, Hitchin
Pocock, 8607 Corp. E C, 4th Platoon, 33rd Division ACC, Hut 29B, F Lines, Bulford Camp
Pounds, Sergt M, Berks RHA, Reading
Richardson, 16895 Pte H J, RMLI, H Co, H3 Room, Chatham Barracks
Rolfe, Driver H E, 181, ASC, B Squad, Dorset Yeomanry, Cairo, Egypt
Smith, 10456 Pte C, 5th Royal Berks. Wounded.
Smith, L V, Friends Ambulance Unit, Army Post Office, S10, BEF, France
Ward, 1026 Pte F, C Co, 2/6th Cyclist Section, Royal Sussex Regiment, Potter Heigham, Norfolk
Waite, 13687 Gunner J H, 16 Eastney Road, Eastney, Portsmouth
Hunt, 9215 Rifleman Joseph, 1st Rifle Brigade, Konigsmoor Bie Tostedt, Kriegsgafangenew Lager, Kries Harberg, Deutschland. Prisoner of war. Parcel address only.
Shelley, 66407 Pte E, RGA
Gooch, Pte Stanley, Royal Engineers, Reading

In Memoriam
George Shearwood, 323 London Rd, who gave his life for his country whilst serving with the New Zealand Contingent in the Dardanelles
Keene, George, who after many months of service at the Front, in France, was killed whilst doing his duty in the trenches with the 1st Batt. Herts Regiment

From PSA Brotherhood
May, Brother V M, 219 Southampton Street, who was killed in action in October, with the 8th Royal Berks Regiment

Broad Street magazine, December 1915 (D/N11/12/1/14)

That dread word “missing”

Broad Street Church in Reading continued to care about its men who had gone to war.

November 1915

We desire also to express our sympathy with the relatives and friends of our brother, Trooper G P Lewis, of the Royal Berks Yeomanry. Mr Lewis has been a member of our church for some years. He was one of the first to respond to the call of his country in August 1914. He has been reported “missing” in the Dardanelles, for some weeks. We can imagine what that dread word “missing” means to his loved ones, and we tender them our affectionate sympathy.

News reached Reading a few days ago that Private Reginald S Woolley, son of our friends Mr and Mrs W A Woolley, 85 Oxford Road, had been seriously wounded “somewhere in France”. It is a pleasure to be able to report that our young friend is now making good progress towards recovery, and hopes before long to be home on sick leave. We congratulate his parents upon this relief from their anxiety, and we hope that their natural desire to have their son home may soon be realised.

The call for recruits for the army and navy is sadly depleting our ranks in the Sunday School, and there is the possibility of further loss in the near future…

Talking of recruits reminds me that eight more names have been added to the church section of our Roll of Honour.
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Sydney’s first camp

New officer Sydney Spencer of Cookham joined his first training camp.

Aug 19th

First camp. Barnham Camp, Thetford, Norfolk. I am (supernumary) orderly officer under Lt H W St George.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EX801/12)