The question of the employment of women as Clerks and Chauffeuses is under consideration by the Berkshire Constabulary

More Berkshire policemen were called on to join the army, leading to the county considering the drastic step of recruiting females for support roles.

20 April 1918
Identity books issued to Aliens

In March 1916 Identity Books were sent to the Acting Chief Constable from the Home Office with instructions for same to be issued to Aliens, for which a fee of 1/- each was to be paid, the same to be retained by the Police.

The Acting Chief Constable has recently written to the Under-Secretary of State for directions as to the disposal of the sums so received, and has been informed that it is left to the discretion of the Police Authority, the general practice being to credit such sums to the Police Fund or the Police Pension Fund.
… The sum of £38.16s.0d has been paid to the Pension Fund.

Application for Allowances to Wives

Application has been made by four Constables now serving in the Army for allowances to be made to their wives under the Police Constables (Naval and Military Service) Acts, 1914 to 1917.

These and 13 other Constables have (after first obtaining the permission of the Acting Chief Constable in accordance with the Regulations of the Force) married since joining the Army, and as in all (or nearly all) these cases applications to get married was only made after the Constables were selected to join the Military Forces, and no homes have been provided by the Constables for their wives, who are in receipt of the Army separation allowance, the Sub-committee recommend that the application be not acceded to.

Police for Military Service

The Acting Chief Constable has received a letter from the Home Office to the effect that, in view of the new emergency which has arisen, it has become necessary to make a further call on the Police to release at an early date a further contingent to join the Army. The quota … for Berkshire is 13….

As regards filling the vacancies caused by the Constables joining the Army, the question of the employment of women as Clerks and Chauffeuses is under consideration.

Recommended: That the Acting Chief Constable be authorised to make arrangements for such employment at 35s pay per week, and also for the calling up of further Police Reservists for regular police duty if necessary.
Adopted.

Col. Poulton has offered to release PC Wheeler (whose services as a Chauffeur the Committee allowed him to retain) for police duties.
Recommended: That his offer be accepted and that the 1/- per day hitherto paid to the County by Col. Poulton for PC Wheeler’s services be discontinued after 1 May.

I regret to report that PC 219, Alfred F. W. Davis, was killed in action on 20 January last. He joined the Force on 1 November 1913, and the Army on 19 June, 1915. He was 22 years of age at the time of his death…

PC 192, H. Boshier, rejoined the Force on 11 February, 1918, having been discharged from the Army as medically unfit. He has been examined by the Police Surgeon, who has provisionally passed him as ft for Police duty.

PCs 158, Sidney H. Giles, 55, Percy Sellwood, and 71, George H. Wheatcroft, have I understand been wounded, but at present I have no information as to the extent of their injuries – except in the case of PC Giles, who is now convalescent.

Berkshire County Council and Quarter Sessions: Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

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“He was the leader and chief agitator” of the internees

Ferdinand Louis Kehrhahn arrived at Reading in January 1917, aged 33. He was an art publisher born in the UK (Birkenhead) of German parentage. He had been sent back to Liverpool Police in April 1917, but now (following an unsuccessful escape) wanted to return to Reading. The Governor of Reading Prison objected to this troublemaker returning.

18 April 1918
Reading PI

The internee Ferdinand L. Kehrhahn, now in Brixton Prison, has petitioned the Secretary of State to take into consideration his present position – no companions with whom to mix with. On that account it is suggested that he be moved back to your custody, but before so doing please furnish your observations and views of the questions.
[?] Wall
Secretary

19 April 1918

In reply to letter … dated 18.4.18 on the subject of F. Kehrhahn, I think it very undesirable that he should return here for the following reasons:

When here before he was the leader and chief agitator amongst the men, and almost all of the men (of what was then C. party) are here, including his special friends.

Secondly, after leaving here he brought most untrue and unfounded charges against Warders, accusing them of stealing prisoners’ food – and they deeply resented his accusations.

Thirdly, when Kehrhahn and others escaped from Islington, information was given to me by Escosuras as to their whereabouts. I communicated with Scotland Yard by telephone, an official was sent from Scotland Yard within an hour to see me, and two of the men were arrested the same night, Escosuras being moved from here before Kehrhahn came. Escosuras is now here.

C M Morgan
Gov.
[to] The Commissioners

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

“Camp life makes them familiar”

Thousands of civilians from interned countries were housed at a camp at Holzminden in Germany throughout the war. Ernest Delfosse, a 32 year old motor mechanic from Belgium, 5 foot 6 ½ inches, with brown hair, was among the inmates there, until he escaped to England with the help of his sweetheart. Sadly, this did not mean freedom, as he was arrested on arrival as a suspected spy. He was transferred to Reading from Brixton Prison on 5 February 1917. He was classified as a Friendly Alien but stayed at Reading and was eventually deported in 1919.

HM Place of Internment
Reading

6th March 1918

Sir

With reference to your letter … dated 5th March 18 on the subject of correspondence between the interned alien E. Delfosse and Mrs E Owen, 54 New Compton St, London EC.

The first letter received from Mrs Owen by Delfosse was dated 22.12.17. This was sent to the Commissioners and I drew special attention to it, giving such information as I was able. It was passed.

Prisoner replied on Jany 5th 1918 – submitted & passed. A second letter was received on 12th January 1918 – submitted and passed. Both these letters are attached to this [though not to the letter book copy]. Please send them back as prisoner does not know they have been forwarded to the Home Office.

Prisoner’s reply to the last letter is the subject of the Home Office letter.

The history of the prisoner’s acquaintance with this woman appears to be:

He was interned at Holzminden, a camp of about 24,000. Men and women were allowed to mix for the purpose of visiting restaurants and cinemas in the grounds. He struck up friendship with this woman – also interned – [he] believes for trafficking in letters – but not sure. The majority of the women were interned for that reason. She stated she was a Russian. (I cross-examined Delfosse, who admitted that she might be a German Pole). He cannot (or will not) remember her name – always called her by her Christian name of Emmy. Camp life makes them familiar. She could speak no English and but little French – he could not speak Russian. Conversation carried on in German, in which both were fluent. Does not know if she was then married – thinks not – her maiden name could be obtained from his note book, black, 9” x 4” (about), taken from him by police at Gravesend 20th Oct 1916 (plain clothes man).

On 7th Oct: 1916 Delfosse escaped from Holzminden, “Emmy” keeping the sentry in conversation while Delfosse got away.

Heard nothing more of her until the letter dated 22.12.17. Does not know how she escaped.

Learns she is married to a Canadian officer. Does not know him. She wants to come & see him. Would like to see her.

I think that is all the information I have obtained.

I am Sir
Your obedient servant

C M Morgan
Governor

[To]
The Under Secretary of State
Home Office
Whitehall


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

“He has had one of his legs amputated, but is going on well”

Several Bracknell men had been killed or very badly injured.

We have to record the death of three Bracknell men who were on active service.

Sapper Alfred Brant, R.E., was killed on 1st December, 1917. His officer wrote that he was killed instantanously, and said that he had rendered very valuable service and had just been nominated as an N.C.O.

Private Henry Fletcher was in the Royal Berks; he died of fever at Salonika on January 1st.

Corporal A.F. Davis, 2/4 Royal Berks, was killed on January 20th. His mother has received a letter from the Chaplain who buried him, in which he says that he was a very fine soldier and very popular with all. Before the war he was a policeman in the Berks Constabulary.

Trooper Richard Legge, Berks Yeomanry is reported missing since 27th November. He was serving in Palestine.

Sergt. F. Mutlow, R. Scots Fusiliers, was seriously wounded on December 14th. He has had one of his legs amputated, but is going on well, and is in hospital at Liverpool.

Bracknell section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, February 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10)

Escaped internee “did not make friends with the dog”

Carlos Kuhn Escosura y Diaz was a Spanish electrical engineer from Vigo, aged 28 when he first arrived at Reading Prison as an internee in May 1916. He escaped custody in 1917, and shocking claims were made in the papers about the way he had allegedly suborned a guard dog.

16 January 1918
Reading PI [Place of Internment]

Please note that arrangements are being made to bring back Carlos Kuhn de la Escosuras to your custody from the Spanish Embassy, whither he fled on escaping from your custody some time since. He will not be punished for his offence, and precautions will be taken to prevent his making any fresh attempt to escape.

[Illegible]
Secretary

Noted. Prisoner was received on the 15th inst.
C M Morgan
Governor

The attached cutting from last night’s “Evening News” [not attached] may interest the Commissioners. It is the average veracity of the Northcliffe Press.


C K de la Escosuras

1. He did not make friends with the dog.
2. The dog did not come into the Prison.
3. The dog does not exist – the only officer who has a dog is the Chief Warder and far from being friendly to strangers, it bit a policeman in the “tail” when he was searching the Forbury Gardens on the night of the escape – it is a bull dog.

He did not pick his cell lock with a wire. He was not in a cell – but free to walk about the prison till 8 pm – and this escape took place about 7.30 pm.

He does not collect Prison Keys – neither are they left for him to collect.

The key was made by another man out of tinfoil and the garden door unlocked as previously reported.

As regards his prolonged conversation with Police and other officials – he is the only man of the four who cannot talk English.

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

Punch and Judy and wartime fare

Controversial today, the Punch and Judy puppet show was very popular in the early 20th century, and its broad comedy entertained soldiers on leave.

St. Luke’s and North Town Sunday School Treats

St. Luke’s Sunday School Treat was held on Thursday, February 7th, in the Town Hall…

One of the best “Punch and Judy” shows that I, personally, have ever seen, kept us amused for quite an hour. One could only wonder at the impunity with which “Punch” threw the baby repeatedly out of the window, while one constable, at least, not to count returned soldiers from the Front, were to be seen in the hall…

Miss Chambers and the North Town Mothers again produced, as if by magic, a sufficient, if war-time fare…

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

Policeman “seriously wounded when fighting in France”

A Berkshire policeman was badly hurt in the fighting.

5 January 1918
Constable wounded

I regret to report that PC 61, Percy Sellwood, 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards, was seriously wounded when fighting in France on the 9th October last.

Berkshire County Council and Quarter Sessions: Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

“Exceptional zeal in the performance of his duties”

Burghfield’s postmaster was commended for his work as a Special Constable.

Special Constable George Cooper

It will be learnt with pleasure that attention having been called to the good services of our old friend Mr G Cooper, Postmaster of Burghfield, who was one of the first to be sworn in, Colonel F C Ricardo, the Acting Chief Constable of the County Police, issued on 13th December a memo expressing his great gratification, and stating

“It is evident that Special Constable Cooper has displayed exceptional zeal in the performance of his duties; and taking into consideration his age and his business requirements, I can only record my high appreciation and commendation.”

Burghfield parish magazine, March 1918 (D/EX725/4)

A policeman’s widow

The widow of a policeman who had been recalled to the army was allowed to keep her special allowance from the police force for a period after her husband’s death.

1 December 1917

The following report by the Acting Chief Constable as to proposed allowance to the widow of the late PC 58 Frank Brown was read:
I beg to report the death of PC 58 Frank Brown, who was killed when in action with the British Expeditionary Force on 9 October last.

The widow, Mrs Daisy Brown, was, at the time of his death, in receipt of an allowance of 9d per day under the Police Reservists Allowances Act, 1914, and I recommend that such allowance may be continued for a period of six months from the date of his death….

Adopted.

Berkshire County Council and Quarter Sessions: Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

Almost ludicrous if not so horrible

Opposition to the war had led to revolution in Russia, and the fear of getting drawn in caused riots in neutral Switzerland.

Florence Vansittart Neale
19 November 1917

Russia almost ludicrous if not so horrible. A subaltern made Commander in Chief.

Will Spencer
19 November 1917

News that a policeman & two other men had been killed in “anti-military” riots in Zurich on Saturday night…. After dinner I read the account of the Zurich riots on Friday & Saturday. (They began on Thursday.)

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/26)

A brave man’s death for his King and Country

A bellringer at St Andrew’s Church, Clewer, was the latest to be reported killed.

In Memoriam: Henry Wetherall. R.I.P.

We desire to express our heartfelt sympathy with Mrs. Wetherall, who has lost her husband at the Front. Henry Wetherall was one of our Bellringers, and we could ill afford to lose him.

The Chaplain has written: –

“Your husband was killed in his dug-out by a shell. I know what a blow this will be to you, but I pray that God may show you that even in this ‘all things work together for good to those who love Him.’ You have the pride and the joy of knowing that he died a brave man’s death for his King and Country. I buried him on September 8, in the little village of Boeringhe, in Belgium, in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to Eternal Life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. He was buried alongside of some of his Comrades, and the Police, to whom he belonged, have erected a Cross over his grave. May God comfort and bless you in your great need.

F. W. HEAD, Chaplain of the Guards Division.

Clewer parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

“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)

A necessary bit of war work

There was a call for men to join the Police Reservists and help maintain law and order at home.

EARLEY SUB-DIVISION BERKS POLICE SPECIAL RESERVE

Owing to removals and army munition work our numbers are becoming very much reduced, and we would earnestly ask any men in the parish of Earley, whether living in the Borough [of Reading] or not, who are not already acting as Specials or Reservists to come and give us a hand in this necessary bit of war work. After all, to patrol for 3 hours once a month from 9-12 pm is not a very great thing to ask, and there must be many men who could if they would come forward and thus ease the strain on those who have been quietly and steadily doing this work for over 3 years.

The Rev. H Wardley King, 1, Green Road, who is undertaking the duties of Sub-Divisional Officer pro tem, will be very grateful to receive names of any willing to help.

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:

Cecil Webb, Herbert Plumer, Walter Smithers, Ernest Thompson, John Edwards, Eric Burchell.

In addition to those already mentioned, we especially commend the following to your prayers:

SICK OR WOUNDED: Duncan Simson, Levi Rackley, Charles Barton, George Bungay, Samuel Dee, George Embery, Ernest Embery, Benjamin Rickards, Albert Gray, Herbert Harper, Herbert Oliver, Clifford Holliday, Thomas Ilott, Arthur O’Dell, Owen Lewington, John Phillips.

KILLED: Charles Bowden, William Murphy, William Wynn, John Hitchcock, Albert Hosler.

MISSING: Arthur Langmead.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

Drawing on the nation’s too limited wool supply

By this point in the war 10 Berkshire policemen who were serving at the Front had been killed. Closer to home, demand for army uniforms was monopolising the nation’s wool supply. Most men’s outdoor clothing was based on woven woollen cloth, which was warm and waterproof.

6 October 1917
Clothing for 1918

The Acting Chief Constable has received the following letter from Messrs Titley, Son & Price, whose tender for the supply of clothing for the year 1918 has been accepted.

19, Cheap Street, Bath
13th Sept. 1917

Dear Sir

When we tendered for 1918 overcoats, something serviceable at old prices, we anticipated some difficulty but this has been increased by the few men, on the two lists we have received, who are doing without them. We calculated that we might obtain sufficient material to supply about half your force; and in the state of the wool market, which as you know is practically commandeered for military requirements, we do not see how we can fill more than that. We have plenty of blue to enable us to offer Capes, Serges, or Trousers in lieu, without drawing on the nation’s too limited wool supply. Could you kindly, at the next pay day, help us by causing to be discovered if there are not a large number of men with overcoats sufficiently new to enable the exchange to be made.

Yours obediently in all commands
Titley, Son & Price.

The Committee recommend that the Acting Chief Constable be empowered in all cases where the Superintendents report that the great coats now in the possession of the men are serviceable and likely to last until the next issue in 1920, to issue capes, serges or trousers in lieu thereof, or to grant, as compensation, £1.1s.0d on the understanding that in the event of a man’s coat not lasting until the issue in 1920, he shall repay an amount in proportion to the period unexpired.

Constables killed in action

I regret to report the death on active service of the following Police Constables, viz PC 111 Raymond E. Offer, PC 119 Charles Warman, PC 213 Arthur Frank Wheatcroft and PC 82 George William Bennett.

PC 111 Offer died on 20 July 1917 from wounds received in action, and PCs 119 Warman, 213 Wheatcroft and 82 Bennett were killed in action on 1 August, 16 August and 8 September respectively.

All four were unmarried, and so far as I am aware had no one dependent on them for support. Bennett joined the force on 1st January 1907.

This makes 10 Constables who have lost their lives during the war.

PCs 80 Pill and 41 Vile have rejoined the Force, the former on 1 September and the latter on 24 September.

Berkshire County Council and Quarter Sessions: Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/5)

Police uniforms will have to be lower quality

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

7 July 1917

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clothing and Helmets for 1918

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

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

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

Adopted.

Class “B” First Police Reserve

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

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

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