The baneful influence of Bolshevism

Post-war Europe was threatened by the spread of revolution.

The Peace Conference now sitting and deliberating in Paris is the supreme object of our interest and our Prayers. The present disturbed state of Europe makes it imperative that the Conference should agree as soon as possible in its resolutions and in the action to be taken by the Allied Countries for the suppression of Bolshevism, and the liberation of Russia and Poland from its baneful influence. A multitude of difficult problems has to be solved by the Conference. We must pray that its Unity may not be impaired by any purely selfish ambitions on the part of any of various nations taking part in it, but that Peace based upon Justice to all, may continue to be its high ideal. Let us pray that man’s wisdom may be over ruled by that wisdom from on high which is “first pure, and then peaceable.”

Clewer parish magazine, February 1919 (D/P39/28A/9)

“He hated Germans, who had ruined his country, Russia”

The perennially dissatisfied internee Herman von Schlapowsky was certainly not pro-German.

15 August 1918

That I spoke to Herman von Schlapowsky this morning about his health, and suggested that he might write a petition to be sent to Germany as the newspapers talked about repatriation of certain Germans.

He stated that he was not a German, and would not go to Germany or Poland or any country under German rule or in the occupation of Germans, and wished to be sent to Russia or to Switzerland, of which country his wife is a native, but he hated Germans, who had ruined his country, Russia.

C M Morgan

[to] The Under Secretary of State
Home Office

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Hunger strike due to bad temper

The Schraplowsky saga rumbled on.

Place of Internment, Reading
4 May 1918

Sir

I have the honour to report with reference to letter … dated 3 May 1918 that the hunger strike of Herman von Schraplowsky had nothing to do with the reasons of his internment or nationality but was due to temper.

On 9th April he wrote an impertinent letter to his wife regarding the Medical Officer and his treatment. I informed him that he could not utilise his letters for that purpose – that he could not write the letter – and that if he had any grievance against his medical treatment he could see me, or he could petition on the point if not satisfied with my decision. He was rather impertinent saying he would write just what he liked. I stopped the letter.

At his next visit on 20th April, he referred to this to his visitor. I attached the letter in question to the report of the visit to the Prison Commissioners – all visits are reported.
On 24th April he again wrote and the letter was improper. I awarded him 10 days forfeiture of privileges on no 2 diet. He then went on hunger strike. In accordance with standing orders the Medical Officer reported the case to the Prison Commissioners at the expiration of 48 hours. And as the man is excitable with an exceedingly bad temper, added that it might be necessary to forcibly feed him, but that as he weighed close on 200 lbs, it would not hurt him to go a bit longer.

On 27th April, as the Chairman of the Visiting Committee called at the Prison, I suggested that he should go and see Shraplowsky without me – he did so. Schraplowsky turned his back on him and refused to speak.

I then tried a method of my own, and had some onions fried over his cell, and when the smell was at its best had then placed with potatoes in his cell. In a few minutes he was eating everything at hand.

He was not forcibly fed – neither was he confined to bed.

I have not under the circumstances informed him as to your letter today regarding his nationality, but when I visited him this morning I asked him in conversation the questions, and his reply is that he is a Russian Pole, and that he would not go to Germany, but to Poland or to Switzerland where his wife comes from.

I may add that he completed his ten days today and his conduct is normal, in fact civil.

I have the honour to be
Sir

Your obedient servant
C M Morgan, Governor

[to]The Secretary of State, Home Office

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Adventures in armoured cars and tanks

Old Boys of Reading School continued to serve their country, and share their experiences.

O.R.NEWS.

Mr. A.J. Wright has kindly sent the headmaster extracts from a letter of R.F. Wright’s, who was then in the 2nd squadron Russian Armoured Cars. The letter gives a vivid description of the threat on the Galician front and for the adventures of the Armoured Cars. The most striking sight was the explosion of the huge ammunition dumps at Crosowa, – apparently caused by a chance shot,- which Wright witnessed from a distance of 5 or 6 miles. It was most fortunate that the British cars got away with such small loss.

We must congratulate Capt. Rev. A.G. Wilken, Brigade Chaplain, Canadian Force on his return from Germany. He has been a prisoner of war for a year and eight months, during which time he has made the acquaintance of no less than six prison camps, Gutersloh, Minden, Crefeld, Schwarmstedt, Holzminden and Frieburg. We understand that some of these were comfortable enough, others very much the reverse. We hope that someday perhaps Capt. Wilken will tell us of some of his experiences.

Captain Haigh, M.C.

We are now in a position to publish news of the great honour which has been conferred upon Capt. Richard Haigh, M.C., Tank Corps, son of Mr. W. Haigh, of “Llanarth,” Hamilton Road, Reading. Capt. Haigh has been selected from all the officers of “His Majesty’s’ Land Ships” to take charge of the tank which has been touring Canada and the United states to help boom the U.S. Liberty Loan. He and his crew all of whom, by the way, have been wounded, have been touring the chief cities of the Republic for the past three months polarizing the great loan which our Allies have been raising. Such work is, of course, of the highest responsibility, and the fact that the gallant officer has been entrusted with this duty speaks well for his ability and for the confidence which the authorities place in him.

Educated at Reading School, where he distinguished himself in every form of athletics, particularly long distance running and football, Capt. Haigh obtained a commission in the Royal Berks Regt. just after the outbreak of war. He was wounded at Loos in 1915 and again on the Somme in 1916. In January of last year he was awarded the Military Cross, and for the last twelve months he has been attached to the Tank Corps.

Lieut. Fielding Clarke. – On Wednesday in the last week Captain Fielding Clarke of Ampthill, Craven Road, Reading, received a telegram intimating that his second son, Sec. Lieut. A. Fielding Clarke, R.F.C., was missing. The previous Saturday he had been with his squadron carrying out a bombing raid on and around Metz, and his machine was the only one which did not return. Lieut. Clarke, whose age is 18 and a half, was educated at Reading School and Bradfield College, and joined the R.F.C. at the age of 17 years and four months. He had been in France about three months and had just returned from his first Furlough. It is supposed that the cause of his failing to return must have been engine trouble, for on the occasion of the raid there was particularly little German anti-aircraft fire.

(Later). Lieut. A. Fielding Clarke is now known to be a prisoner of war interned at Karlsruhe.
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A German recruit

Johanna Spencer’s German nephew had been called up, and would be fighting on the opposite side to her husband’s British brothers. He would be training at Kulmsee (now Chelmza), which was in Pomerania, a detached part of Prussia which was to be incorporated into Poland after the war.

11 February 1918

J. read to me letter from Agnes. Kurt has been examined. Will probably receive his officer’s training in the neighbourhood of Kulmsee.

Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/28)

“The Polish people have suffered terribly during the war, especially the Polish Jews”

A missionary speaker in Reading told his hearers about the war in Poland, which had been split between the Austrian, German and Russian empires for a century, and was right on the front line between Russia and the enemy, resulting in fierce fighting and a major impact on the civilian populace, including the large Jewish minority.

MEN’S SERVICE

The speaker at the St Stephen’s Men’s Service on Sunday, February 18th, will be the Rev. H. C. Carpenter, British Chaplain at Warsaw, and we hope there will be a really large congregation of men to hear him. He will speak on behalf of the London Jews’ Society, and he is sure to have much that is interesting to tell us, for Warsaw, as our readers know, is the ancient capital of Poland, and the tide of war in the East has passed right through and beyond the city, while the future of Poland is one of the most difficult problems to solve after the war is over. The Polish people have suffered terribly during the war, especially the Polish Jews.

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

Funds are urgently needed to reinstate the farmers who have been entirely ruined in the countries of our Allies, Belgium, France, Serbia, Poland, &c

Vast swathes of farmland in the contested territories had been ravaged by the fighting. Berkshire farmers, safe at home, wanted to help out.

BRACKNELL

It is announced that an Agricultural Jumble Sale will be held at Bracknell on October 19th, at 11 a.m., in aid of the Agricultural Relief to Allies Fund and the British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund. Contributions of Live and Dead Stock, Furniture, &c. should be notified to the Hon. Secretaries, Messrs. F.W. Hunton & Son, and donations can be paid to them or to P. Crutchley, Esq., Ascot, the Treasurer.

CRANBOURNE

We have been asked to mention that an Agricultural Jumble Sale will be held at Bracknell on October 19th, at 11 a.m., in aid of the “Agricultural Relief to Allies Fund” and the “British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund.” We believe a letter stating the objects of the Fund has been widely distributed, so we need say nothing more than express the hope that contributions any kind of Live and Dead Stock, articles of Furniture, &c will be made by members of the Parish.

These contributions should be notified to Messrs. F.W. Hunton & Son, the Hon. Secretaries, Bracknell, and donations of money may be paid to A.H.S. Elliott, Esq., N. Fitzroy, Esq., or Mr. F. W. Bowyer, who form the Winkfield Committee.

WINKFIELD

NOTICE.

Agricultural Relief to Allies Fund and the British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund.-

We are asked to let our readers know that the Agricultural Jumble Sale in aid of the above, will be held at Bracknell on October 19th, at 11 a.m. The Committee, under the Chairmanship of Lord George Pratt, appeal for help to make the sale a success, by the sending of any kind of Live and Dead Stock, articles of furniture, &c. to be sold.

Funds are urgently needed to reinstate the farmers who have been entirely ruined in the countries of our Allies, Belgium, France, Serbia, Poland, &c, and also to help the Red Cross Society, which has been doing such noble work during the war.

It is proposed to print in the Catalogue the name of each donor, afterwards advising him what his gift realised. The local Committee for Winkfield are Messrs. A.H.S. Elliott, N. Fitzroy, and F. W. Bowyer, who will furnish any further information required.

WARFIELD

It is proposed to hold an Agricultural Jumble Sale at Bracknell on October 19th, at 11 a.m., in aid of the Agricultural Relief to Allies Fund and the British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund. All articles of furniture etc. Live and Dead Stock or donations will be acceptable and all donations can be paid to Mr. R. Crow, Mr. H. Crocker, Mr. R. Lawrence, or Mr. Smewing. Other contributions in kind should be notified to Messrs. F.W. Hunton & Son, Bracknell.

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

A terrible price – are we worth it?

Eric Guy Sutton, a member of the wealthy family which owned Sutton’s Seeds, Reading’s iconic horticultural business, had joined up soon after the start of the war. He was awarded the Military Cross a year later for saving a fellow soldier’s life, but was killed in action in April 1916. His home church, St John’s, was devastated by the news.

It was with great sorrow and deep sympathy for the bereaved family that we heard of the death of Lieut. E. G. Sutton. This most promising young officer, who had already been awarded the Military Cross for an act of great courage and self-sacrifice, was killed on Saturday, April 8th, in the gallant performance of his duty. We shall hope to publish some details of his career in the next issue of the magazine.

“Ye are not your own. You are bought with a price” (1 Cor VI.20)
Most of us were moved, I think, a few weeks ago by a story of almost unexampled heroism given in a list of recently conferred V.C.’s. A young officer attempted to throw a bomb into the enemy’s trench. The missile, however, struck his own parapet and fell in to his own trench. The officer cried a warning to his comrades and himself sprang back into safety, but then noting that his warning had been unheeded, turned back, flung himself upon the bomb and was destroyed by its explosion. And I wonder what were the feelings of his comrades and whether the thought of our text came into their minds, and they said to themselves: “We are not our own, we have been bought with a price.” And I wonder how many of us at home had the same thought in our minds as we read the account, or whether we have ever sufficiently thought at all that not to one such glorious act of heroism, but to countless splendid and ungrudging acts of devotion, do we owe today the security of our shores, the air we breathe untainted by foul poison emanations, the food we eat unstinted in quantity, our women their honour, our children their deliverance from brutality, our old people the quiet, even tenor of their placid lives, and all of us our immunity from the horrors that have desolated Belgium and Poland and Serbia.

We are bought with a price! Who will deny it? Vicarious suffering! Vicarious death!, say some. “We can’t understand it, we can’t accept it!” To such, I say: Alas for the poverty of your intellect and the hardness of your heart, when the very thing is happening today before your very eyes and crying to your souls. When not one minute passes, but even now in France, in Russia, on the seas, wherever the ceaseless battle rages, a man dies that other men may live. We are bought with a price, and day by day in that pitiful concentration of tragedy we know as the casualty list, the bill is presented, and every now and then, at longer intervals, the account is rendered up to date. And how stands it today? Some half a million of Englishmen slain, mutilated, sick, languishing in pestilent Wittenberg prison camps – for us. Mown down by machine guns, crashing from the air in the shattered aeroplane, settling to the ocean-bed in the sunken submarine, buried beneath the soil, buried beneath the waves, unburied in the hideous no-man’s-land between the trenches, tossing in our hospitals, limping about our streets, cry of the wounded and sob of the broken of heart, laughing boys who do not know what awaits them, grave-faced men who do, going forth in courage to do their part – behold the price that is paid; the price that is paid for us; in virtue of which we sit tranquilly in this church this morning, and shall walk tranquilly home to our tranquil and ample dinners.

(more…)

The Germans’ well laid plans

Ralph Glyn’s parents both wrote to him in Egypt after a visit to the Wake family at Courteenhall, whose father had just died. Joan (1884-1974), one of the sisters of Sir Hereward (1876-1963) mentioned here, was to become a pioneering archivist. One of the Wakes claimed to have evidence that the German invasion of Belgium had been long planned in advance. The Enver referred to is Ismail Enver Pasha (1881-1922), the Turkish Minister of War who had led that country into alliance with Germany and was responsible for the Armenian Holocaust of 1915.

March 21st 1916

Yesterday we went to Courteenhall and had a cosy hour & more with the dear people. It is good to know that Hereward wishes his mother & sisters to remain on. He has bought a house in London, & is now going back to the front as Lt Colonel, on OGS 1st Grade & will be with General Mackenzie’s Division. He goes about end of April, & he is now at Aldershot taking up his new work. Ida is to be his agent for Northants property, assisted by a good bailiff, & he has secured a good man for the Essex property who can always advise Ida when necessary. Phyllis is back at work nursing at Abbeville. Joan is at home helping all round. Lady Wake pays rent, & keeps up the house…

There is a most interesting & amusing nephew of Lady Wake’s in this Hotel, a Major Wake who has seen all sorts of service in E Africa, Egypt and Ulster!! And in between a recruiting job at home & Ulster he fought [for?] Turk against Italy! While so employed he shared a tent with 3 German officers who told him their well laid plans exactly! Even to the breaking through Belgium to destroy France, knowing her Vosges defences were too strong for other swift accomplishment of victory – but France destroyed, they would take us and Holland on – no wish to destroy either as all Teutonic peoples should come into the Zollverein which would then rule the world. Our practicality was required to wed with their “idealism”, & when this union was complete “we” would together be invincible. They said they liked us, but as long as we were separate they could not do anything, & must always come up against us. They expected all their colonies to be taken, but then at the crisis our Fleet was to be destroyed, & then they would regain their colonies & seize all ours. All this was described with perfect freedom to the English soldiers, and the answer to his enquiry “What do you wish to do with us”. They said this was all open unconcealed knowledge, and that we had such a wretched Government we would never fight, & though our Govt knew they would not prepare, so the thing was “fait accompli”. (more…)

“England is worth dying for” – and Winston Churchill is the devil on earth

Meg Meade let her brother Ralph know the details of the last moments of their cousin Ivar Campbell, together with news of various friends and relations – plus her very unflattering views of Winston Churchill. Ralph had political ambitions, and subsequently became a Conservative MP. The controversial Noel Pemberton Billing, mentioned here, had just won a by-election standing as an Independent, but his political career (perhaps fortunately) lasted only a few years.

March 16th [1916]
Peter[borough]

My darling Ralph

I hear Wisp is coming to London as he has six weeks leave, lucky thing, but the reason is he has had such a bad dose of flu he has lost a stone! Jim says lots of them have had it in the north. If it produced leave on that scale, & Jim doesn’t catch it, I shall have to send him a bottled germ of it!

I posted my last letter to you from London when I went up to see Arthur. He was looking very well indeed, he says the English soldiers have invented a sort of pidgeon French which is now used by the French soldiers to make themselves understood by the English & vice versa, & it’s frightfully difficult to understand. One day Arthur came out & found his servant looking up into his horse’s face & saying “Comprennie? Comprennie?” He said Frenchwomen always come to him about every conceivable thing, even to if they are going to have a baby, & one had highstrikes [sic] in his office the other day.

I hear that Bertie is convalescent on crutches now & they are trying to prevent his being sent home to England on account of his health.

Poor old Mrs Hopkinson came in here today, broken hearted; for Pen’s husband, Colonel Graeme, was killed in France last Friday behind the lines by a stray shell. Killed outright mercifully. But oh dear, how sad one is at these ceaseless sorrows, and all the broken hearted people all round one. “But England is worth dying for” as Noel Skelton wrote to Aunt Syb about Ivar. I dined with Aunt Syb the night I was in London. She is so wonderful, so is Joan, but it has told hard on both of them. Aunt S has aged & Joan carries the mark in her face too…

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The horrors of invasion are brought home

Ascot residents heard a first-hand account of the horrors of war-torn Poland and the flight of refugees.

AT A MEETING held on March 1st at the Ascot Hospital (by kind permission of Viscount Churchill) in aid of the Women’s Maternity and Relief Unit for Refugees into Russia, the horrors of invasion were brought home to us. Miss Geraldine Cooke gave a very feeling address in which she described some of the sufferings of thrice war-ridden Poland, with its host of Refugees driven from their homes, its destitute mothers and lost children; its roads marked with infants’ graves; its cattle crowded off the highways to perish in the swamps; its towns and villages raised to the ground.

She mentioned the noble work being done by the Russian Relief Committee. She explained how the Maternity Unit offered its services to help our Allies in their great undertaking, and how a Hospital is already opened at Petrograd (to work under the Russian Government) for destitute mothers and children; also how, at the request of the Government it hopes to arrange Homes in healthy country places for lost Refugee children, and to bring happiness into the lives of some of these desolate little ones.

The meeting (at which Lady Edwin Lewin took the chair) closed with the singing of the Russian and English National Anthems, and a generous collection was made.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Monthly Magazine, April 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/4)

Pray for calmness, endurance, unity and resolution

The vicar of Reading St Giles invited parishioners to pray for our Russian allies. The Russians had had a bad summer’s fighting, and were in full retreat on Poland and Lithuania.

The Vicar’s Notes

Intercessions

For God’s blessing on our dedication festival.
For success to be granted to our Russian allies.
For calmness, endurance, unity and resolution amongst our own people.

Roll of Honour

George Brindley Aufrere Baker. Robert Thatcher Beckensdale. James Melmouth Du Buisson. David Butler. John Markham Carter. Charles Henry Coventry. Harold Frank Cross. Roy Cuddeford. Frank Cuddeford. William Warren Goddard. Hugh Hart. Percival Herbert Higgins. Reginald Edward Kemble. Albert George Charles Payne. Alan Nelson Philbrick. Charles Frederick Louis Rouff. Frederick Henry Griffith Russell. George Henry Victor Saunders. Alfred Ernest Smith. Rupert Stephens. Godfrey Stevens. Arthur Wooliams.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P98/28A/13)
September 1915

Agonized at regimental losses

Florence Vansittart Neale sympathised with a friend whose son had faced the deaths of many of his fellow soldiers. The city of Lemberg was in a part of historic Galicia ruled before the war by the Austrians. As Lwow, it was part of Poland between the wars. It is now known as Lviv, and in Ukraine.

19 June 1915
Down by 10 o’clock [train] to see Helen. Letter [to her] from Val [her son] – rather agonized. His regiment much cut up…

Edith & I shopped, did up parcel for prisoners….

Fear Russians still retreating – Germans making great dash on Lemberg.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Helping at the YMCA

Florence Vansittart Neale and her friends helped out again at the YMCA canteen.

11 June 1915

Up to Canteen – took Edie & Mary. Not much doing till 4, then plenty of men. Home 6.30…

German defeat in Galicia. Two of our destroyers sunk in North Sea.
Heard Sep. wounded slightly in head. In Alexandria Hospital. Had hard fighting in Gallipoli.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Pleased to be nursing bad cases

Phyllis Vansittart Neale, elder daughter of Henry and Florence, was nursing the wounded like her younger sister. She was pleased to be working on the most challenging cases.

4 May 1915

Germans claim great victories in Galicia! They at Riga too. Believe great battle going on in Flanders….

Hear we are to have great good news in 2 or 3 days!

Heard from P. – she changed her ward, got under Dr Keith & bad cases! Pleased.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (DEX73/3/17/8)