Edible offal versus falling into a sewer

Food rationing had now hit the universities, accustomed to lavish tables. But if John Maxwell Image felt dismayed, he also knew of the privations at the front, and those suffered by French civilians, courtesy of his brothers in law.

29 Barton Road
5 May ‘18

My VDB

Your letter arrived on Friday, and I can’t tell you how it rejoiced me to find you writing in such good spirits. Cheltenham is the place for you, evidently… I am prostrated before… a Communal Kitchen that provides edible food. (So does NOT ours here.)
I am flooded with printed notices from Trinity “in consequence of a change in the Meat Control Regulations”. Butchers’ Meat will, from May 6 (tomorrow), be served in Hall only on Tuesdays and Saturdays. On which days a whole Coupon will be required from each diner.
If he dines without one, or is absent, sans notice, the Fellow incurs a fine of 5/-.

On Mondays and Thursdays, Poultry, Game, Bacon or “edible offal” (!!) will be served instead of Meat. (Note, every item headed with a capital, except “edible offal”.) “And on these days a half coupon only will be required.”

Anyhow, it is “for the period of the war”.

What is to be eaten on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday we are not informed. More “edible offal”?

But the word “Fish” is not mentioned once on these Bills of Fare!

Florence is a genius of a Food Provider. I don’t feel the pinch of hunger. Indeed she and Ruth (the Cook) dish up food that is distinctly “edible”. Salmon, Sole, Bloater, Woodpigeon, etc, and ‘made dishes’ that do the pair credit.

Florence’s two officer brothers write very cheerfully and much oftener than one would expect. Two of their epistles came with yours on Friday, both are in the middle of the great Push, and keep their tails up well.

One had difficulty in getting there. He and his men were stranded within 5 or 6 miles of the British line by the French “borrowing” their “train complete with kits and rations and half their men”.

“The climax (he went on) came when at 2 a.m. this morning one of the party pitched into a ditch which was really the outfall from a sewer. The proceedings were trying for the victim. However he’s quite scraped down now. We dried him in sections before some boilers, and if one keeps up-wind, he’s all right. The worst is, if his kit doesn’t turn up, he has nothing else in France to escape into”.

The other brother sent a very mixed bag. He had been out on a raid the night before. He spoke of cuckoos, housemartins, song birds – lying on his back in an orchard reading the Lady of Shalott, white and blue and tortoiseshell butterflies, – and “when the battery behind us ceased fire for the moment, chaffinches making melody on the trees above” (he must have read Chaucer as well as Tennyson) – then, more sadly, of a “poor old badly crippled woman” who sobbed, in patois, pouring out her troubles to him, and “pathetically asked me whether I would do her the kindness of shooting her! My Captain, who says that he is a well-seasoned soldier, was quite overcome by the incident, so you can imagine that I had to take very great care to preserve an outward calm.”

Most affec.
Bild

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

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“He sang a cheery song to me which for a wonder was not disturbed by the boom & shriek of shells”

Sydney Spencer could still delight in birdsong.

Saturday 27 April 1918

Got up at 7.30. Last night our goods came up, also drinks. Thank goodness the drinks came as everyone was getting very weary of waiting & I was wondering how long my popularity as MP would last! We had our usual parade at 9.45. Inspection of rifles… I got a lot more camouflage done. Wrote to Florence.

After lunch read a little. Went down to company, inspected ammunition, gave the men some cigarettes. Came back to orchard behind my platoon & read Tennyson, “The Lady of Shalott” & a few others. Saw a blue butterfly & other butterflies. I saw also a lovely cock chaffinch. He sang a cheery song to me which for a wonder was not disturbed by the boom & shriek of shells.

After tea wrote to Florence. Then came post with rations, bringing me despatch case & lots of useful articles & a long letter from Florence. She pulled my leg by addressing me as Sir – yours to hand etc, & signed it Yours faithfully, Image & Co.

Went on working party Suffs with Peyton from 8-11 pm.

After tea officers of A Company called on us. Then went for a walk towards windmill on our left. At 8 I took a working party to Suffs. In orchard over way about 8 ten shells burst all round us, one slight casualty only. During work on CT Trench was [enfiladed?] by shell fire & luckily all shells landed on parapet.

Heard a nightingale singing in the orchard this morning.

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15)

“10 seconds later his plane was crippled on the ground, enveloped in gigantic flames”

Sydney Spencer revealed life behind the lines in France in his diary, and wrote to his sister with more details.

Diary
Sunday 21 April 1918

Men bathed today from 9-4. So ‘Beer’ company officers had a rest in bed. Got up at 8.30, had a cold bath. After breakfast wrote to Mother & Father & Florence. It is now 11.15 am. A sunny morn & I am in a bit of pretty woodland. We parade at 11.30 am so I must go.

We had our parade on some fields near to billets. Only a short inspection & a talk and organization of platoon. I take over No 6 Platoon. After lunch took out company for football. After tea went to church in ‘flying fox’ lecture hall. A good service with a band and some solos from Elijah. A lovely day with plenty of sunshine.

After dinner I tried on my field boots which came today. They fit well. To bed at 10. Read Tennyson.

Letter

7th Norfolk Regiment
BEF
France

Sunday
21.4.18

My Dearest Florence & Mr I

Just a short line to let you know that I am very well & quite happy. Nothing exciting has yet taken place. The great pleasure at present is coming across lots of men who used to be in our regiment, who shew in their slow Norfolk way a keen relish at meeting a man of the old (help! I nearly got within reach of the censor I believe!) regiment. Also I have come across two men who were up at Oxford with me, one yesterday & one last week. …

Yesterday night a man was ‘stunting’ in his plane just above us. One moment he was like a calm serene bird floating down the wind. 10 seconds later his plane was crippled on the ground, enveloped in gigantic flames. I only hope he escaped a horrible death!

All love to you both
Your affectionate Brer Sydney

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); and letter to his sister and brother in law (D/EZ177/8/3/20)

Slush, real Flanders slush everywhere

It was a gloomy day, but a more cheerful evening, for Sydney Spencer and his fellow officers.

Thursday 18 April 1918

Got up at 7.30. A miserable day, wet & slush, real Flanders slush everywhere. Parades up on the high ground at the range, not of the most cheerful with a biting wind & drizzle, but we got through alright. We had some gas stunts very like what we had in England, except that the Div officer had not the stuff I could use.

After lunch went down to billets & gave two lectures on gas to the company, & there was a kit inspection. After tea wrote a few cards & a letter to Florence. Also packed some spare kit to send home. Washed & changed & bad dinner.

The other chaps are now playing vingt et un, & I am going to be OC gramophone, & then to bed to read Tennyson.

8.45 pm. A fine moonlight night.

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15)

“It seemed very strange to be doing my work after so many months”

Sydney Spencer was still some way behind the front line.

Wednesday 17 April 1918

Got up at 7.30. A better morning, warmer, but wind.

Went on parade at 9. A march of about one mile up on to a trench system where … I did platoon’s drill for a time. It seemed very strange to be doing my work after so many months.

After lunch fine again till 3 when it poured with rain. I gave a lecture to ‘B’ company on Gas. Paid company at 3.30.

After tea got my clothes dry, changed, made out mess and [illegible] for A and B companies. After dinner, all officers paid me so that I was able to make things square.

To bed at 9.30 & read In Memoriam for a little while. A fine night.

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15)

A horrible stench

Foraging for provisions in the French countryside could be challenging in unexpected ways.

Sunday 14 April 1918.

Rose at 8 am. Cozens Hardy not at all well. Has a high fever. Took working party with me to hangars again, a stiff job, which we completed by 1.15 pm after a struggle. I did not like the engineer chief under whom I was working. He was “naggy”.

After lunch had a sleep. Cozens Hardy gone into hospital. Capt. Dillon’s taken over company.

After tea went with Frost the Mess waiter & got 2 kilos of very good pork from a farm nearby. The farmer’s wife was cleaning offal, the most horrible stench emanating therefrom & she in polite French offered me a chair with her beady brown eyes sparkling.

Before dinner I wrote letters, & after dinner cleared up. Read In Memoriam to the accompaniment of the sound of shellfire & to sleep. In bed by 9 pm.

Diary of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EZ177/8/15)

Lonely homes and aching hearts

This poem was published in Newbury parish magazine.

“GIVE PEACE IN OUR TIME, O LORD”

O God of Mercy, God of Love,
“Our Father which art in Heaven above,
Give us this day our daily bread”;
These were the words the Saviour said,
And taught us prayer.

A sparrow’s stricken fluttering fall
Is known to Thee, Thou lovest all;
Great God in mercy let Thy hands
Fall lightly on these sorrowing lands,
And shew Thy care.

To mothers, wives and children dear,
To whom life’s future’s lone and drear,
Who long for touch of vanished hands
Of loved ones, laid in foreign lands;
Give them Thy peace.

O God of battles, shew Thy will
Unto the nations struggling still;
Support the right, Thy glory show
Unto the people who here below
Shall honour Thee.

Restore the faith, give clearer sight
Of awe, and majesty, and might;
Ambition, lust of power, displace,
Let love for others take their place,
And wars shall cease.

O God of Justice, through Thy Son,
Who taught us that “Thy will be done
On earth as Heaven”, give us the power
To say in this our darkest hour
“That we forgive”.

The broken tie Thy mercy heal,
Let lonely homes Thy Presence feel,
Fill aching hearts with Love Divine,
“The Power and Glory’s ever thine”.
Lord give us Peace.

HB, Newbury.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, April 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

“Nothing has been farther from our thoughts than for the club to be a shelter for unpatriotic or conchies”

Datchet Working Men’s Club was a little defensive about its contribution to the comfort of noncombatants.

31.1.18

“Life is mostly froth & bubble
Two things stand like stone
Kindness in another’s trouble
Courage in our own”

Worthy President, Vice Presidents and fellow members,

Such words as these came into my mind after the last years meeting, and as I am sure such a feeling as I had must have taken possession of those present, as each one looked upon the Club’s troubles as his own, and was determined to take courage. We screwed that courage to the sticking point and a successful year was the result. Facts are stubborn things and we are proud that our Wisdom knows no more – We have been through the refining fire, and we are all the better because the dross of “not taking heed lest we fall” has disappeared.

Dulce et decorum est pro patria more

We bow our heads in silence, and connect earth to heaven when in contemplation of our fallen heroes (one this year) who have fought the good fight of justice and honour for the love of home and the Motherland.

Our “Beacon Light” the President is still guiding us and may his flame never dim, and so lead us on amidst encircling gloom and over crags and torrents….

We have not kept open for selfish motives for nearly everyone is assisting in his country’s needs in some form or other. We have been criticized rather unfairly but nothing has been farther from our thoughts than for the club to be a shelter for unpatriotic or conchies. Moreover in addition to our other sacrifices we shall find that the club has been a centre of good, for not only has the Village Hall been let free for everything pertaining to the Nation’s welfare, but “Drivers” have been frequent for the benefit of various Institutions that are doing such magnificent work for our wounded sailors and soldiers, whose every pain seems to cry out to us – To be bemoaning all day long renders that murid, sluggish, and there is wanted a tonic of cheerfulness to keep it working normally – much more abnormally – the club has been a rendezvous for our Boys home from the front, and we have welcomed them these and have had together many a shake hand and a conversation, as have done our hearts good and given us pleasant reminiscences for all times.

We had 51 paying members last year for the whole or part of the year, and there were only 2 who were not actually doing Government work in the strict sense of the word. These were over military ages, and their work had been greatly increased by shortage of labour, so it cannot be said that we have not done our bit. Moreover from the preceding year 12 entered the Service, and about 30 the year previous to that. Therefore the “Fiery Cross” has been responded to and may “Toujours Prêt” ever be our motto in responder to the calls from our “Isles of honour and bravery.”

In conclusion, my fervent gratitude is due to my fellow members, who have oiled my whereto of energy increasingly and thus enabled me to move in every way so as to surmount the difficulties encumbrances and friction.

“Lives of great men all remind us,
We can make our lives sublime
And departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of Time.”

E.W. Page
Hon: Sec.

Datchet Working Men’s Club annual report (D/EX2481/1/5)

A day of grief and glory: another of our boys has heard the call of God and joined the throngs invading heaven “with gay and careless faces”

Memories are shared of a Reading-born man whose death had been reported.

Harry Ireland Long

It was with deep regret that we heard of the death of Lance-Corpl. Harry Long, who was killed in action in Flanders on August 15th. To most of us his name is familiar, as being the son of our old and esteemed friends, Mr. and Mrs. William Long, and to them, as to his sister and brothers, we offer our deep sympathy. Some, however, had a more intimate knowledge, and one of those, the Rev. Herbert Snell, of Caterham, a former minister of Trinity, has kindly written the following:-

“Lest Heaven be thronged with greybeards hoary,
God, who made boys for his delight,
Stoops, in a day of grief and glory,
And calls them in, in from the night.
When they come trooping from the War,
Our skies have many a new gold star.”

Another of our boys has heard the call of God and joined the throngs invading heaven “with gay and careless faces.” Another has cheerfully and bravely given his life to make earth clean again, and keep it safe for those who regard honour among the highest and love peace.

It is easy enough to write these words, but behind them are living hearts that ache with grief and yet rejoice with noble pride.

Harry Ireland Long was the eldest son of William and Anna Long. He was born February 25th 1886, at Reading, and was killed in Flanders on August 15th, 1917.

“Trinity” will remember him, first of all, as a youngster, attending school at Miss Lacy’s and at Miss Burgisi’s, and on Sundays as a member of Mr. H.A. Baynes’ Bible-class. When I knew him he was at Reading School, which he left in 1901 in order to work for a while in his father’s business. Everyone liked his handsome face, with bold dark eyes and pleasant smile; though there was plenty of the boy about him there was a serious vein in Harry’s thinking which soon brought him to face the great deep questions of life. A year had scarcely elapsed from the time of leaving school before he joined the membership of Trinity Church.

In 1904, Harry went to Kingston in Jamaica where he worked for eight years. During that time he went through the terrible experiences of the great earthquake of January, 1907. Although he escaped the physical perils of that time, I have some kind of an idea that it was then he met his “fate,” and that there was some connection between the incidents of January, 1907, and a marriage which took place in Kingston, 1910, between Harry on the one side, and Miss Isabel Frances, of Crouch end, London on the other. But I do not give this as authoritative, lest, perchance, a very treacherous memory should have betrayed me.

Only this I know, and can speak thereon with utter confidence, having been privileged to visit on several occasions their delightful little home in Montreal, that it was a marriage full of happiness and promise.

It was in 1912 that they migrated to Montreal and in 1914 that I found them there, with Maurice who had joined them about a year before. I was at that time taking charge of Emmanuel Church during Dr. Hugh Pedley’s vacation, and being altogether a stranded and solitary stranger in the huge city, it was an indescribable pleasure to receive an English welcome in a Canadian home. None of us thought, in those early uninstructed days of the war, that it would ever be necessary for one of us to join up, and it was utterly beyond the limits of considered possibilities that one of our laughing circle should, in three years from then, have given his life for freedom.

Harry enlisted in the 244th Canadian Battalion Kitchener’s Own on September 1st, 1916. Owing to his previous training in the Victoria Rifles (Montreal’s volunteer contingent), he was almost at once given Sergeant’s rank, and when he came to England in April, 1917, it was a company Quarter-master Sergeant. Six weeks later he went to the Front with a draft to reinforce a Canadian battalion already there, and so lost his stripes, but he was speedily promoted again to Lance-Corporal, and it was while “gallantly leading his section in an attack against a strong German position,” that he met his death. The Chaplain of his Battalion, Capt. C. Stuart, speaks of him as having speedily won a place for himself in affection and esteem of all the boys. “He was so keen and willing in his work, so cheerful always in the face of all discomforts and difficulties that he became one of the most popular men in his platoon.”

And so another of our boys is gone. And the world is becoming more cheerless as we think we shall have to go on to the end without them.

But this also we know, and it far outweighs the gloom, they have brightened the earth by their example, they have for ever enriched life by their self-sacrifice.

Harry Ireland Long will not be forgotten at Trinity, and his name will go down with honour among those who have helped to save the world for Christ.

“Oh, if the sonless mothers weeping
And the widowed girls could see inside,
The glory that hath them in keeping
Who went to the Great War and died,
They would rise and put their mourning off,
And say ‘Thank God, he has enough.”

Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

We try to keep the home fires burning

The vicar of Reading St John had a New Year’s message for men from his parish who were serving their country.

TO SOLDIERS AND SAILORS ON ACTIVE SERVICE

Dear Brothers,

I have been given the privilege of writing the few lines that shall be our message from the parish in the homeland to you as the old year passes and the new year comes. If there ever were a time when the biggest words of goodwill and greeting could be given in absolute sincerity, then it is now from us at home to you whom we would hope to see here also during the coming year. But as this is to be our New Year’s card to you I suppose it should have a motto. Let it be this, which I think expresses the best desires of most Englishmen today:

“Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my Arrows of desire!
Bring me my Spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental Fight
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.”

So are we trying to do what you used in a different way to ask us to do in the song you used to sing: “Keep the home fires burning”.

With every good wish throughout 1917.

Your sincere friend

R W Morley

THE INSTITUTE.

Just as we go to press news comes that the Military are assuming entire control of the Institute. It may still be possible for us to hold one more important meeting in the Large Hall, but a large amount of re-arrangement in our Parochial Programme will be necessary. As early notice as possible will be given to all concerned.

Reading St. John parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P172/28A/24)

A week is a long, long time in war

Where do you sleep to-night, my lad? is a poem written by William Arthur Dunkerley, aka John Oxenham. It spoke profoundly to those bereaved at home, and was published (without credit) in the Winkfield District Magazine, omitting the folliwng verse: (originally lines 11-15):

“Oh, a week is long when so little’s enough
To send a man below.
It may be that while we named your name
The bullet sped and the quick end came,–
And the rest we shall never know.”

THE WAR.-

We mourn for several more of our Ascot lads, who have given their lives for their country.

Kenneth Grant, one of our Altar Servers, a former member of the Parish Catechism, and the best boy of his year in the Ascot Boys’ School, was shot dead in his first engagement with the enemy. R.I.P.

Alfred Thompson, whose influence for good in the Parish was great, has followed his brother, at no long interval, into the Eternal Home. He died of his wounds. R.I.P.

William Bissley, a devout Churchman of the best type, and a former Assistant Master of the Ascot Boys’ School, has also laid down his life. R.I.P.

George Morton, brother of Arthur Morton, our Choirman, has been killed. R.I.P.

To all who are sorrowing for the temporary loss of their dear ones, we offer our heartfelt sympathy. We shall all be together again when the Day breaks and the shadows flee away.

“Where are you sleeping to-night My Lad?
Above ground or below?
The last we heard you were up at the Front,
Holding a trench, and bearing the brunt;
But that was a week ago.

Ay! That was a week ago, Dear Lad,
And a week is a long, long time,
When a second’s enough in the thick of strife
To sever the threads of the bravest life
And end it in its prime.

But this we know Dear Lad, all’s well
With the man who has done his best,
And whether he live or whether he die,
He is sacred high in our memory:
And to God we can leave the rest.

So – wherever you’re sleeping to-night, dear lad,
This one thing, we do know-
When ‘Last Post’ sounds, and He makes His rounds,
Not one of you all will be out of bounds,
Above ground or below.”

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, October 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/10)

The horror of Kitchener’s end

A friend of Ralph’s found Lord Kitchener’s death by drowning too horrible to think about, and took refuge in poetry.

Brocket Hall
Hatfield

June 18th, 1916

Dearest Ralph

Any day that you can dine & sleep, just wire me in the morning that you are coming. We shall be delighted to see you.

How you must hate this cold.

Have you read Browning’s “Prospice” – it is just Kitchener’s death. I daresay I am foolish – but I cut the horror of Kitchener’s end out of my mind – I feel sure he freed it to be the brave man he was, but it must have been terrible, for there was time to realise it.

Much love, & do come.

Yours ever
Evan

Leter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/39)

Now they know what war means

Meg Meade wrote to her brother Ralph in Egypt. She was staying with their parents in Peterborough, and had heard from her naval husband.

Peterborough
Jan 26th [1916]
My darling Ralph

I hear that the beautiful Lady Loughborough was an Australian called Miss Chisholm & she married out in Egypt the other day.

I sent the Gallipoli bomb to Miss Jackson at that Irish address. I have not yet heard if it’s arrived alright.

I sent £1 to the Home Office for permission for you to wear those foreign orders, & they have acknowledged the money without saying where the warrants have been sent to…

How I envy you in beloved Egypt, & near the Nile!

Jim writes very well, but they have no news. His destroyers are joining up every day, & the gales never stop blowing for an hour…. Jim sent me really a heavenly rhyme about Royalist & her officers which I am copying out for you. Isn’t it priceless.
Maysie will tell you all her news. Poor John has got to have his jaw cut again before it can heal.

The parents seem very well, & Mamma has a thousand irons in the fire as usual, & sometimes get her fingers burnt, but she always retaliates! She’s started a first class Red X workroom in the Knights Chamber which of course infuriates the other Cross Red women who aren’t Red X here!

There is no chauffeur & no gardeners. We live in the hall & dining room & Dad’s study. Mr Green & the housemaids are supposed to run the garden!! So Dad & I had a morning’s weeding today, one had almost to push one’s way along the Monastery Garden through the weeds. But the War has reduced all gardens to that. Dad busy with the hoe, poking, pushing & destroying, muttered pathetically, “Poor dears” & I found he was addressing the weeds!

PS I went to see Aunt Syb who is wonderful, & Joanie, who is the same, but she seemed to me so altered in the face. Something has happened to her eyes, & they seem shattered by the sorrow and shock, & who can wonder. It is so awful.

[On a separate sheet is the poem:]

(more…)

“Some corner of a foreign field”

Some of our parish magazines have published verse of limited literary value, although it clearly appealed to contemporary sentiments. Christ Church in Reading picked a new poem which is now regarded as a classic war poem, albeit an early one epitomising patriotism rather than the disillusionment of later poems by men like Wilfred Owen (who had been an undergraduate in Reading).

Some of our readers may be glad to read this sonnet written by Rupert Brooke who died of illness in the Dardanelles where he had gone with the Expeditionary Force. The sonnet is one of six bearing the title “1914” and is published in a small volume “1914 and other Poems”.

The Soldier
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by the suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Reading Christ Church parish magazine, November 1914 (D/P170/28A/24)

Eager to go into the trenches

A couple of Reading soldiers write from the Front:

NEWS FROM THE FRONT.
Service in a Cornfield.
‘We had a Church Service in a cornfield this morning and a Communion Service afterwards. It was quite a novelty; the grain was standing in the sheaves and the surrounding scenery was lovely. We are in a valley with clumps of trees and cornfields all around us, and in the distance one can see the spires and chimneys of a town, and on the other hand a little way behind can be seen the ruins of a smaller town where an occasional shell can be heard to burst. We had a good bath yesterday, the first we have had for about six weeks or a little more. Since I last wrote to you I have joined the Signalling Section, and I was about to you a few days ago on my station in the trenches, but just as I was about to start ‘Fritz’ got ahead of me with a few souvenirs in the shape of shells, trench-mortar bombs, rifle grenades, and such-like niceties, so I had to clear for action, as a demonstration by ‘Fritz’ is likely to make our wires pretty busy with messages. ‘Fritz’ got a direct hit on our trench in one place and we were lucky not to have our wire broken, which would have meant going out to mend it, shells or no shells. I saw Lieutenant Poulton Palmer’s grave the other day.
A. Goodson.

Ronald Palmer Club
“Just a line to let you know that another old club boy has managed to get to France. We left Southampton at 7 p.m. on Saturday, august 7th, and arrived in France at 1 o’clock in the morning, but we did not disembark until 8 oc’clock. We went to a rest camp about two or three miles away for the next night. Next day we started to move nearer the firing line. we started at 6 p.m. in cattle trucks and travelled all night until midday the next day, and we were cramped, tired and dirty. We then had a march over rough cobbles to a town, where we are now billeted in barns waiting to be moved into the line, but I am afraid it will be some time before we get there, though our fellows are all eager to go into the trenches. We see a number of aeroplanes hovering round here all day long. I saw one of the old club boys the other day, J. Sawyer of the RHA; he went to our first camp with Mr Heaton, and enlisted just after. I hope the Club and all concerned are getting on well.
Lance-Corporal Bushell.

August 4th
From the four corners of the earth,
Where’er the British flag shall float,
Our vow of victory we take,
Resolved to drown the craven note.

For there are those within our midst
To whom NO peace is premature;
But our’s to war to end such war!
And ne’er again this curse endure.

Not for our gain – a year ago –
‘Twas not for greed we drew the sword,
But to defend our plighted word
Our blood and wealth have been outpoured.

The Empire’s vow’s the Empire’s bond,
All round the world today she’s bound –
This pledge to keep her sword unsheath’d
Until her cause with victory’s crowned.
A.W.E.

Reading St John parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P172/28A/24)