A sale of effects at the Military Hospital

War hospitals were closing.

Tuesday, the 10th day of June, 1919

HOUSE COMMITTEE

SALE AT BASINGSTOKE MILITARY HOSPITAL

The Master reported that there would shortly be a sale of effects at the Military Hospital at Basingstoke, and on the proposition of the Rev. A H Caldicott, seconded by the Rev. Sir J Key it was resolved:

That the Master and Matron be authorised to attend the sale and purchase any articles which they might deem expedient.

JUNIOR ASSISTANT NURSE

The Master reported that he had received a personal application for the post of Junior Assistant Nurse from Gertrude Roff of Sandford, Oxon. The Master explained that Mrs Roff desired a post in this district, so as to be near her husband, who was a patient in the Ashurst Military Hospital, and on the proposition of the Rev. A H Caldicott, seconded by Mr Hunt it was resolved:

That it be a recommendation to the Board:

That Mrs G Roff be appointed Junior Assistant Nurse at a salary of £20 per annum, plus an allowance of £4 per annum for uniform, with War Bonus at current rates, and that the appointment be for one month on probation.

REPORT OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE

On the proposition of the Rev. A H Caldicott, seconded by Mr A D Wells it was resolved:

That the appointment of Gertrude Roff to the post of Junior Assistant Nurse for one month on probation be confirmed.

Minutes of Wallingford Board of Guardians (G/W1/36)

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“These men had fought for truth and justice, they had fought that England might live”

The little parish of Remenham wanted to provide medical care as the best form of war memorial.

April 1919

The new Parish Council will come into office on Tuesday, April 15, and they intend to hold a public meeting that evening in the Parish hall at 6.30 pm, when all householders are asked to attend, so that we may decide on the best War memorial for the Parish. So will every-one, please, make a note of Tuesday, April 15, at the Hall at 6.30 pm?

May 1919

We have had our public meeting about the Parish war memorial, and you will see by the report that feeling was practically unanimous that it will take the form of a “Remenham Bed” in the proposed Memorial Cottage Hospital in Henley. When information has been obtained as to te sum required by the Henley Committee to guarantee that a bed shall always be available, when required, for a patient from Remenham, an appeal will be issued for subscriptions.

REMENHAM WAR MEMORIAL

There was quite a large gathering of parishioners in the Parish hall on Tuesday evening, April 15, for the purpose of considering the question of a war memorial. Amongst those present were Viscount Hambleden, Mr Heatley Noble, Captain E H Noble, Rev. G H Williams, Mrs Ames, Miss Ames, Mrs Burnell, Mr E C Eveleigh, Mr C T Holloway, Mr H V Caldicott, Mrs Lovegrove, Mr R Ansell, Mr Frank Butler, Mr Tunbridge, Mr Drummond, Mr W Baker, Messrs F Fassnidge, W Ebsworth, J Dixon, W Sears, B Moring, C Langford, G Challis, J Challis, D Marcham, and many others.

At the commencement of the meeting Mr Holloway occupied the chair, and in the course of a few remarks expressed his pleasure at seeing such a large number present to consider the question of a war memorial to those brave fellows who fought, suffered, and laid down their lives for them and their country. He would like to propose that Mr Heatley Noble be the Chairman of the War Memorial, for they who had been associated with him well knew his business qualities – (applause).

Mr Tunbridge seconded and the proposition was agreed to with acclamation.

Mr Heatley Noble on taking the chair said he would rather that Viscount Hambleden accepted the position of chairman, but his lordship said he would prefer not to. Continuing, Mr Noble said whatever they did he trusted it would be unanimous. He was aware that there were differences of opinion, but he hoped the minority would give way to the majority – (applause).

The Rev, G H Williams, at the request of the Chairman, forst addressed the meeting. He said he would like those present to feel that what he was going to say was as an individual parishioner, and whatever the meeting decided on he should loyally fall in with. They were there to do their best in a moment of sacred and solemn responsibility. He had kept an open mind on the subject from start to finish, but after considering all the schemes he had heard propounded, he certainly leaned towards a bed to be called “The Remenham Bed” in the proposed Henley Memorial Cottage Hospital. A meeting was recently held in Henley at which he was present. It was a very representative gathering, the room being practically full, and the meeting unanimously decided upon a hospital as a suitable memorial. In fact, the proposal swept the board, no other proposition being made. He asked, if Remenham joined in the Henley Scheme, could a bed be provided to be named the “Remenham Bed”, and he received an unequivocal “Yes” from both the Mayor (who presided) and the Town Clerk. Therefore if they co-operated with Henley they would do so with a direct Remenham touch. That cleared the ground to some extent. The first question they had to consider was as to the need. So far as Henley was concerned it did not touch them. was there a need in Remenham? (Mrs Ames: Most strongly.) He agreed with Mrs Ames. Reading was most awkward to get to and it would be a great boon to have a hospital close at hand. There had been cases in the parish which had had to wait weeks before getting a bed in the Royal Berks Hospital, and if they had their own bed in Henley the difficulty would be overcome. He would like to say that the proposed hospital in Henley was to be an entirely new one, built on the most modern lines, and to contain as a start eight beds. Round the institution it was suggested should centre all the activities of the new health ministry. As regards the cost, it was intimated that from fifteen to twenty thousand pounds would be required. If he looked into the hearts of some of those present, he knew they would be saying that such a large sum could never be raised. He thought otherwise. There were many substantial people amongst the audience at the meeting he attended, and letters were read from others promising their support. They would find that the rich people would do their duty, and if the rich people in Henley did theirs, he was sure the parishes which were invited to co-operate would not be lacking in their financial assistance. What would be required from them he did not know. It might be £500 or £800, but it would be nice if they could reach £1,000. Some of them might ask why they should do Henley’s work for Henley, but there was another side, and that was, did they want Henley to do for Remenham what they should do for themselves. How did they meet these two questions. Would the idea of a “Remenham Bed” be a sufficiently personal memorial. He thought it would. They would have their inscription over the bed, and could they not add to it a small scroll containing the names of their fallen? That would supply the personal touch. As to the men who had died, they had the personal touch in the parish through the kind provision of the late Mr Wilson Noble, by whose will his executors were enjoined to expend a sum of money for a memorial to be placed in the Church, containing the names of their fallen heroes. In order that all might have an opportunity of participating in the cost of that tablet, it had been agreed that any subscription the relatives and friends liked to give would be handed to the executors. That further secured the personal touch. Then, wpuld the form of memorial he had suggested be worthy of the men whom they wanted to honour. As he had said at the outset, they were at a moment of solemn responsibility and wanted to do their best, and he thought such a memorial would be a worthy one. These men had fought for truth and justice, they had fought that England might live. What about the proposed “Remenham Bed”? Patients would receive attention at the hands of skilful doctors, have careful nursing, the latest appliances would be used, and they would receive good food at a critical time. It might be a child, or a mother, or probably one who had been a soldier or a sailor who was stricken down. No matter who it was, they would be well cared for. So he thought in caring for the sick and suffering, they would be carrying out the spirit of the men who fought for them; it might mean a life saved for England.

The Chairman said that personally he was in favour of what Mr Williams had said, but he would like to hear opinions expressed by others in the room.

Mr Ansell said he had not a scheme of his own as he favoured the hospital idea himself, but one or two who were unable to be present had expressed themselves to him. One favoured the placing of what was contributed to the parish towards putting discharged soldiers on the land. Another suggestion was that they should provide a cottage for a blinded soldier. He would like to ask whether if they endowed a bed they could have the immediate call of it in case of necessity. To name a bed did not necessarily mean that they could always have the call of it.

The Rector said that was a detail which would have to be considered later. The impression he gained at the meeting at Henley was that they would have first claim on the bed, and if there was room they could send more than one patient to the hospital.

Mr Ansell thought if there was going to be only eight beds, Henley could do with that number itself.

The Rector said the doctors at the meeting thought eight beds would suffice, but of course there might be occasions when there was a pressure, which would be provided for. If they went into double figures by way of beds the expense would be greatly increased.

The Chairman thought if they had a “Remenham Bed” it should be reserved for Remenham when required. He would like to say that the comrades of one man who died subscribed together and sent home about £18 to be used in memory of him, and hid friends favoured giving it to the Henley Hospital scheme if Remenham joined it. He had spoken to many of the labouring men and others and they all favoured the hospital scheme.

Mr Caldicott thought if they had a “Remenham Bed” in the Henley Hospital it would be lost sight of after a time. He favoured a memorial in their own parish, and begged to propose that a permanent memorial be erected in the churchyard containing the names of the fallen, and that if the subscriptions more than sufficed the balance be given to the Cottage Hospital at Henley.

This found no seconder, and it fell to the ground.

The Rector submitted the following resolution: “That a War memorial for Remenham should be the endowment of a bed, to be named the ‘Remenham Bed’, in the proposed Cottage Hospital in Henley-on-Thames.”

Viscount Hambleden said if that resolution was passed they ought to give the Committee instructions, before agreeing to join in the scheme, to ascertain if the bed would always be available for Remenham patients. He was afraid from his knowledge of things, there would be a little difficulty over the matter. It would prove unpopular to keep a bed vacant for one particular parish, and he was afraid the Henley people would say they could not give a guarantee. He would also like to know what sum was required for the endowment, and further it should be made clear whether any annual payment was expected from them for its upkeep.

The Rector said he would be happy to embody what his lordship had said in the resolution he had drafted.

Viscount Hambleden thought they might pass the resolution as it stood and pass on to the committee instructions to deal with what he had suggested, and if they failed to come to an agreement to call another general meeting. He would move the resolution.

The Rector seconded and it was carried almost unanimously.

The Committee was then elected and constituted as follows: Mr Heatley Noble (chairman), Mr Ansell (hon. sec.), Viscount Hambleden, Miss Ames, the Rev. G H Williams, Mr Eveleigh, Mr Holloway, Mr Tugwood, Mr Caldicott and Mr Stephens. The Chairman and the Rector were appointed to represent the parish on the Henley Committee.

On the initiative of Viscount Hambleden the Chairman was heartily thanked for presiding.

Remenham parish magazine, April-May 1919 (D/P99/28A/5)

“The matter is one of great urgency in view of the approaching demobilisation of the Forces”

Some former soldiers were interested in the opportunity of farming – but would it be affordable?

A further circular letter has been received from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries dated 14 January, 1919, as follows:

Sir,

The Government have come to the conclusion that while the County Councils are the most suitable bodies to be entrusted with the local administration of the matter, the financial responsibility for the loss which must inevitably occur in creating small holdings under present conditions should be borne by the Exchequer and no charge should be placed on local rates…. The Board will repay to the Council the whole of the deficiency between revenue and expenditure on the Small Holdings undertaking of the Council as a whole including the land already acquired….

As the whole of the financial responsibility has been assumed by the State, the Board feel confident that they can rely on the active assistance of your Council in carrying into effect without delay the desire of the Government to settle on the land of this country as many as possible of the ex-service men who are qualified to become successful small holders. The Board will be glad to receive at the earliest possible date concrete proposals from your Council for the acquisition of suitable land for the purpose, and I am to point out that the matter is one of great urgency in view of the approaching demobilisation of the Forces….

The Board feel sure that Councils will be vigilant guardians of the public funds which they will administer and that they will exercise all possible care and economy with regard to the price to be paid for the land, the expenditure on equipment, and the cost of administration.

I am, Sir, &c

A D Hall
Secretary.

The men attached to Agricultural Companies working in Berkshire (approximately 1,500) have been circularised with a letter and application form (issued by the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries) with a view to ascertaining, in accordance with the Board’s request, the number who desire to settle on the land on demobilisation.

The total number of application forms returned to this Committee from men who definitely state they desire to settle in Berkshire is 84, besides three others, of whom one gives Oxfordshire, one Surrey and one Hampshire as alternatives to Berkshire.

Of these 87 men, 26 state that it is their intention to maintain themselves wholly by farming a small holding.

Replies to the question as to capital available have seldom been filled in and only 16 have stated that they have sufficient or partly sufficient capital for the amount of land required, while no definite amounts have been stated with the exception of three cases.

Another circular is being sent out with a view to ascertaining more definite information both as regards the extent of land required and the amount of capital available.

Berkshire County Council minutes, 18 January 1919 (C/CL/C1/1/22)

“Right in front of the battalion, leading his men in true British style”

This supplement to the roll of honour’s bald list of names gives us more detail about the parish’s fallen heroes.

Supplement to the Wargrave Parish Magazine

ROLL OF HONOUR.
R.I.P.

Almighty and everlasting God, unto whom no prayer is ever made without hope of thy compassion: We remember before thee our brethren who have laid down their lives in the cause wherein their King and country sent them. Grant that they, who have readily obeyed the call of those to whom thou hast given authority on earth, may be accounted worthy among thy faithful servants in the kingdom of heaven; and give both to them and to us forgiveness of all our sins, and an ever increasing understanding of thy will; for his sake who loved us and gave himself to us, thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Baker, Edward
Private, 7th Wiltshire Regiment, killed in action on the Salonica Front, April 24th, 1917, aged 21. He was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Baker. He was born at Wargrave and educated at the Piggott School. When the war commenced he was working as a grocer’s assistant in Wargrave. He volunteered in 1915 and was sent out in 1916. He was killed by a shell in a night charge.

Barker, Percy William

Private, 7th Batt. Royal Berkshire Regiment/ Killed at Salonica, July 4th 1917, aged 19. He was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. William Barker at Yeldall Lodge. His father was for twenty years a gardener at Yeldall. He was born at Crazies Hill and educated at the village school. On leaving school he began work as a gardener. He was one of the most helpful lads on the Boys’ Committee of the Boys’ Club. He volunteered May 11th, 1916. On July 4th, 1917, he was hit by a piece of shell from enemy aircraft while bathing and died within an hour. The Chaplain wrote to his parents “Your loss is shared by the whole battalion”.

Bennett, William
Sergeant, 8th Royal Berkshire Regiment, killed in France, Dec 3rd, 1916 aged 25. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Bennett, of Wargrave, and when the war broke out he was working on a farm. He volunteered at once. He was killed instantly by a shell. One of his officers wrote: “Sergt. Bennett was the best N.C.O. we had in the company. Fearless, hardworking, willing, he was a constant inspiration to his platoon. His splendid record must inevitably have led to his decoration. We have lost an invaluable N.C.O. and a fine man. He was buried with all possible reverence about half a mile from Eaucourt L’Abbaye”.

Boyton, Bertram
Lieut., 6th London Brigade Royal Field Artillery, died of wounds in Palestine, Nov. 9th, 1917, aged 36. He was educated at King’s College, London, and was a Surveyor and Architect by profession. He was a Fellow of the Surveyors Institute and had won Gold and Silver Medals of the Society of Auctioneers by examination. He was married to Elsie, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Spencer Morris, at the Parish Church, Wargrave, Sept. 7th 1905, He was a member of the London Rowing Club and the Henley Sailing Club, and keenly interested in all athletics. He enlisted in the Honourable Artillery Company in April 1915. He was given a commission in the 6th London R.F.A., in July 1915 and was promoted Lieutenant soon after. He went to France with his battery in June 1916, and to Salonica in the following November. He was sent to Egypt and Palestine in June 1917, and was wounded while taking his battery into action in an advance on November 6th. He died at El Arish on November 9th, 1917.

Buckett, Ernest Frederick

Private in the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, killed in action Sept. 20th, 1917, in France, aged 23. The dearly loved husband of Dorothy May Buckett, married May 31st, 1917. He was educated at the Henley National School, and before the War was a slaughterman with Messrs. O’Hara & Lee, butchers, Henley and Wargrave. In 1910 he joined the Berkshire Yeomanry (Territorial Force), and was called up on August 4th, 1914, at the commencement of the war. He immediately volunteered for foreign service. He went to France in the spring of 1915. When he had completed his five years service, since the date of his enlistment, he volunteered for another year, but received his discharge as a time-expired man in January 1916. In July, 1916, he was called up under the new regulations and sent immediately to France where he remained, except for leave on the occasion of his marriage, until he fell in action, September 20th, 1917. (more…)

“Every war memorial should be worthy of the occasion and permanent in character.”

The Bishop issued some guidance as to suitable war memorials in Berkshire churches.

War Memorials

My dear Sir,

I commend to your notice the enclosed suggestions which have been drawn up by the Advisory Committee for War Memorials in this Diocese. Experience has already shown that it is most desirable that local effort should be concentrated on one common Memorial. It is also important to consider carefully the nature of any proposal made, and to obtain competent advice, if possible on the spot, so that every memorial should be worthy of the occasion and permanent in character. To obtain satisfactory results, some delay and great care are imperative. This I sincerely hope that, before determining upon any memorial, you will consult the Advisory Committee. The Secretary is the Rev. William C. Emeris, The Vicarage, Burford, Oxon.
Believe me to be, yours faithfully, C. Oxon.

The Advisory Committee for War Memorials in the Oxford Diocese desires to make the following suggestions.

(1) Advice should be sought when a Memorial is first proposed, and before the question of the form it should take is decided.

(2) The Committee urges the importance of concentrating upon one common design and the avoidance, if possible, of several small Memorials. The best and most permanent Memorial is that which best harmonizes with the building or surroundings in which it is placed. It is not intended to exclude separate Memorials erected under one common scheme, e.g., the fitting up of a chapel.

(3) The erection of a united Memorial should be postponed until the end of the war, though it may be of importance to decide beforehand what form it should take.

(4) The character of the Church (e.g., whether ancient or modern, whether of stone or brick) should be taken into consideration before deciding upon the best form of Memorial. In old Churches preference should be given to the replacing of the ancient ornaments of the Church, rather than to the erection of new monuments. As instances the following are suggested: the restoration of altars to their original dimensions, the re-erection of screens, both chancel and parclose, of roods and lots, canopied font covers, good bells, worthy “ornaments of the Church and of the ministers thereof”, such as the Prayer Book contemplates, and Churchyard Crosses.

(5) Local materials should in most cases be preferred to those brought from a distance. Lacquered brass or copper ornaments are deprecated, also designs submitted by Church furnishing firms.

(6) Special attention should be given to lettering. Roman characters should be preferred to Gothic. It is important to choose such material and lettering as will last for many hundred years. Quality, simplicity and permanence should be the guiding principles in carrying out the work.

(7) Where it is proposed to place the chief memorial in the open air, it is advisable that a record of names should also be preserved within the Church, engrossed on Vellum, in book form or otherwise.

(8) Even for the simplest ornaments of the Church and Minister it is desirable that the services of an architect or artist, and not a firm of Church Furnishers, should be employed. The Church Crafts League, Church House, Westminster, is always ready to suggest names of competent artists and craftsmen.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, June 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

Damage caused by the continual trial trips of the instructional lorries of the Royal Flying Corps

The air war was causing problems on roads back home in Berkshire.

MILITARY REQUISITIONS

Road over Swinford Bridge

A military requisition has been issued for the repairs to the road over Swinford Bridge carrying the brick traffic from Chawley Works to the Oxfordshire Aerodromes. The road belongs to Lord Abingdon and is in a bad state of repair. As Lord Abingdon is unable, owing to lack of labour and materials, to do the work, the Committee have – at the request of the Road Board – undertaken the repairs, and an estimate of the cost has been forwarded to the Finance Committee.

MILITARY TRAFFIC: Damage to roads
Extraordinary military traffic, Ascot and Windsor Road

Damage has been caused by extraordinary military traffic between Lovel Road and “The Squirrel” by the continual trial trips of the instructional lorries of the Royal Flying Corps stationed at Ascot, and damage was also done in Hatchet Lane. The lorries have since left…. Owing to this damage the amount of last year’s estimate for the repairs to the whole of this road has been increased by £1,640.

Berkshire County Council Highways and Bridges Committee report, 20 April 1918 (C/CL/C1/1/21)

The best results are obtained only by getting into touch with the men personally

Thousands of wounded or sick troops had now returned home. the nation owed them support for their service. Some needed medical help, others re-training for new occupations, or help finding jobs.

The Disablements Sub-committee beg to report that they have been notified of approximately 2,524 disabled soldiers and sailors discharged into the county. Of the cases now entered upon the Register, which exclude those being investigated, the numbers specifying disabilities are as follows:

Amputation of leg or foot 51
Amputation of arm or hand 34
Other wounds or injuries to leg or foot 353
Other wounds or injuries to arm or hand 147
Other wounds or injuries to head 69
Other wounds or injuries 192
Blindness and other eye affections 77
Heart diseases 217
Chest complaints 93
Tuberculosis 101
Deafness and affections of the ear 72
Rheumatism 151
Epilepsy 37
Neurasthenia 47
Other mental affections 31
Other disabilities 532

Of this number all have been provided with a Medical Attendant [i.e. a doctor] under the National Health Insurance Act, and special treatment, including the supply or repair of artificial limbs and surgical appliances, has been provided in accordance with the recommendations of Military Authorities, Medical Boards or ordinary medical Attendants.

From the 1 April 1917, 280 cases have received Institutional treatment – both in and out-patient – at Military Hospitals, Civil Hospitals, Sanatoria, Cottage Hospitals or Convalescent Homes.
The total number of tuberculous soldiers and sailors to date is 101, and of these 72 have received Institutional treatment within the County under the County Scheme and three have received Institutional treatment outside the County Scheme. This treatment is provided through the County Insurance Committee.

The Committee has assisted with Buckinghamshire War Pensions Committee in the provision of a new wing for Orthopaedic Treatment at the King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor. This, which was urgently needed, and will be of the greatest benefit to men in that part of the county, will be opened in the course of two or three weeks. The Committee has also been instrumental with the Buckinghamshire Committee in obtaining the approval of the Minister of Pensions to a proposed Scheme for the provision, equipment, and establishment of a special hospital for totally disabled soldiers and sailors at Slough and an assurance from the Ministry of adequate fees for maintenance thereof. Her Royal Highness Princess Alice is forming a provisional Committee, and we have every hope that the proposed arrangements will e speedily carried into effect.
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“He behaved with great bravery and died as a soldier”

Some men from the little village of Crazies Hill had been home on leave, but there was sad news for another local family.

Crazies Hill Notes

We were glad to see Charles Haycock and Bert Plested in Church the other Sunday – both back on leave from active service and looking well. We were also glad to see Charles Ellison Woodward, who is home on short leave from his dangerous work as wireless operator on a mine-sweeper. Sergeant Iles is home and looking well. Walter Denton has also been home during September; and as we are sending this to the printer, we hear that Jim Weller – one of five brothers serving – has come home for a few days.

Much sympathy is felt for Mr. and Mrs. Minchin of Upper Culham whose son was killed in action. We add the following taken from the “Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard”: –

“It is with much regret that we have to record the death of Mr. Arthur Minchin, who was killed in action in France on the 16th of August last. He was only 29 years of age. For several years he worked as one of the undergardeners at Park Place, and during the whole of that time he had been a most faithful member of the Remenham Parish Church choir. He was a young man of most agreeable manners, very unassuming, but was beloved by all who knew him. Less than two years ago he left Park Place and entered the Wiltshire Constabulary. He was for some time stationed at Trowbridge and The Wiltshire Times of Saturday last says “P.C. Minchin was deservedly popular with his comrades in the Police Force.”

After serving some time as P.C. he, seven months ago, joined the colours and was immediately sent over to France. For over five years he had been a member of the Territorial Force at Henley and was universally liked by his comrades. In France, he did good work as is testified by the C.O. who writes to his widow as follows:-

“He (Private Arthur Minchin) was a brave man – a good soldier, and his loss is deeply regretted by officers and comrades alike.”

The Chaplain of his battalion also writes:

“He behaved with great bravery and died as a soldier. He was very popular with his comrades who miss him very much.”

The sincerest sympathy is extended to his young widow. He had only been married seven months.

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

“Let us help, how, when, and where we can, but let us do our bit”

Wargrave women worked hard providing medical supplies for wounded soldiers, and their work inspired ladies across the country.

Wargrave: Surgical Dressing Emergency Society

An American Fete was held at Riverside Lawn, on July 1st, by kind permission of Mr. Cain, in aid of the Society’s funds. The splendid sum of £165 was realised. There is no space to mention all who helped to make the Fete a success, buyers and sellers all did their very best and those present represented a large gathering of interested friends, with a keen appreciation of the work being done at “Millwards” for the Casualty Clearing Stations in France, Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia.

There are now nine branches:-

Long Parish (Hants). Pangbourne.
Chigwall Row. Wimbledon.
Heswell (Cheshire). Peppard.
Shiplake. Ledbury (Gloucestershire)

Knowl Hill is part of the Wargrave branch.

Wargrave being the Head Branch is in direct communication with the Director General of Voluntary Organizations, New Scotland Yard, and is responsible for all the sterilization of Dressings and the packing of Bales.

The Bales are sent direct from Wargrave Station, (as Government Requisitions) to the points in the Firing Line, most in need of help.

Between the Dates of Oct. 19th, 1915 and June 19th, 1916:

1316 Kits of Sterilized Dressings
4989 Spare Bandages
2915 Comforts including Shirts, Pyjamas, Slippers, Tooth Brushes, Soap, etc., etc., have gone out to help out Wounded, straight from the Trenches or Field.

Several Emergency Calls, including one last week for 200 made swaps, and another for 200 Wargrave Surgical Oakum Pads (a special request from the Front) were filled, in each case the Bales left Wargrave Station 24 hours after the call was received.

Medals were awarded through Miss Choate, as head of the Society, to Members of Wargrave and also Members of the Branches, who had worked 100 hours in three months. The list of names will be printed in the next month’s Magazine.

The work of the Society is growing, so alas is the number of Wounded. We are glad of Comforts, especially socks and warm winter garments. One pair of socks, one shirt will comfort one Wounded Man. Let us help, how, when, and where we can, but let us do our bit.

Wargrave parish magazine, August 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

“I will not join the white feather ranks”

Sydney Spencer’s anguish over what service he should enter continues in this diary entry. Gil and Stan were his younger brothers Gilbert and Stanley, art students:

Sept 4th Friday
Now, Mr Diary, how do you think I should feel if after having spent little-to-be-spared money & time on finding what I should do, & being unsuccessful too, one of these dear ladies should offer me a white feather emblem of cowardice! For a little while yesterday I felt that perhaps I did deserve one, but when all wiser & older men than myself not only said that I had done all I could but that I should only be fit for an example & could instil some of my enthusiasm into freshmen next term by joining the OTC, & that I should never be of any use as a military man, then I felt at rest. Even now I must own I am rather restless & worried. I hate to feel so utterly useless, & even working as I have done in all sorts of odd ways to do my best to help, I chafe at my position, & boil inwardly at the thought that perhaps the imputation of “cowardice” & unloyalty may be thrown at me. The whole thing is a strain upon one, & I begin to long to put a finish to the whole matter by joining, useless or not. Despite the fact that my whole future may be utterly wrecked by this terrible war, & that I shall have to look to the German Emperor & his war party (not the rest of the nation) as the cause of my future failure, if failure it be; I am thankful that I can say with clear conscience that loyal as I am to my beloved England, & eager as I am to do my last & best for her glory, still by God’s grace I am free from that dagger, sharper and more deadly than the dagger of war itself – the dagger of bitterness – how I do deplore that bitter spirit which prompts whole crowds of people to say “Germany has played a dirty game. Pay her back as she has treated us!” May the fair scutcheon of England’s fame never be smudged & dulled by our despicable actions, & may the spirit of right prevail over & rule down the hot heads of people so bitter as to make them blind to every thing clean & fair!

I have just met a man who was at Keswick. He will not think of joining the regulars, he says. He will only join if he can get a commission! Am I to be blamed if I think he might deserve a white feather? He says he has just got a schoolmaster’s job & does not feel justified in throwing it up. He thinks it too infra dig to be a regular even in a good army!

[Later that day]
Wheatley Rose & Tea Gardens
I have said goodbye to Oxford!… If I do return to Oxford, it will be a saddened Oxford. Many of her sons have gone off to fight for England. I think that some 1100 have either got commissions or joined the ranks. If such a big number as that goes from Oxford, how can the papers say that the universities are not waking up to their duty! That fellow whom I met who feels that he does not care to take anything less than a commission, rather disgusts me. If he is a specimen of what many men are like, well, men are cowards. England wants men, & she shall have me if I can get efficient enough. I will not join the white feather ranks. Cowardice shall never be written in conjunction with my name! Now I have had tea I shall get on home. I hope & almost pray that Gil & Stan have enlisted. England needs us. Let that suffice!

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EX801/12)