A year of real pleasure, and a great boon to the men

The hospitality offered at Broad Street Church to the wounded and soliders in training continued.


A meeting of the Soldiers’ Welfare Committee was held in the Institute Room on Monday, October 21st, when a large number of the workers attended. The President (Rev. W. M. Rawlinson) occupied the chair, and in a short speech expressed his feeling of profound indebtedness to all the helpers for their loyal and devoted service throughout the year just ended. He made special reference to the untiring and self-denying labours of the Hon. Secretary (Mr W A Woolley), and his remarks in this connection were cordially endorsed by all present.

The secretary read his report of work done, and the Hon. Treasurer (Mr W J Brain) submitted a financial statement which showed that after paying the ordinary expenses, there was a balance in hand to meet certain other outstanding liabilities. The report and financial statement were both adopted, and attention was then given to a number of suggestions for the better working of our Khaki Club.

We give below a few extracts from the secretary’s report:

“We opened the rooms on October 15th, 1917, and they have been open every day since, except on three occasions: Good Friday, Easter Monday and the day of the Garden Sale. Very few of us thought, when we opened, that we should keep open so long; but the need has been great, and as far as I can see, it will be a long time yet before we can think of closing it down. The large numbers of men and women using the rooms prove, without doubt, that they appreciate being able to come in every day.

Our first week’s takings amounted to £13.13s, and gradually the figures increased until we reached the very satisfactory sum of £41.12.2d. That was one week in January last. Then in February the new regulations were put into force by the Military, and our takings went down immediately to £18, and for one week in May we only took £8.11s.10d.

This went on until August. Since then we have been allowing the men to buy a little more food, and we are now taking £23 to £25 per week.

The wounded especially attend in large numbers during the afternoons, and steps must be now be taken to increase the number of helpers during that time. There is always plenty of work for 4 or 5 helpers every afternoon.

It will interest you to know that we have bought and distributed free, no less than 17,000 envelopes and 14,000 sheets of paper. This has cost us £14.10s. We have also sold over the counter postage stamps to the value of £51.2s.7 ½ d, which, of course, is without profit, but a great convenience to the men and women, especially after the Post Office is closed. The matches have been a great boon to the men, and we have sold over 14,200 boxes during the year.

In February last we received the splendid donation from our Church Choir of £25.9s.1d, which enabled us to pay a cheque to the church funds for coal, gas, etc, of £25.10s…

Every Sunday evening during last winter Khaki Socials were held, arranged by Mrs Dracup and Miss Green, and they were very well attended. We shall have to decide tonight whether we shall have the Khaki Socials again, or carry on as we are now doing…

I should like to express my personal thanks to all the Superintendents and helpers, who have put such whole-heartedness into the work, and by so doing obtained such a splendid result.

It has been a year of real pleasure to me to work with such a willing, capable and pleasant staff, everybody (not forgetting Mr Brain, Mr Rawlinson and the Caretakers) doing their very best for the common good of all.

The figures for the year include the following:

Sales £1,054.13s.0d
Donations £42.9s.1d
Total receipts £1.097.2s.1d

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, November 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

The war may be won or lost by gardening and keeping pigs

The April issue of the Sulhamstead parish magazine had suggestions for parishioenrs to support the war effort at home. The Senussi were a tribe and religious sect based in what is now Libya and Sudan. They fought against Western colonisers, which meant they took the side of Germany and Turkey against Italy, France and Britain during the First World War, although they were to fight for the Allies against Italy in the Second World War.

Information has been published in the press that the shipwrecked men from the “Tera”, captured and held prisoners by the Senussi, have been recaptured in the gallant victory of our troops and are now safe. Amongst the names of those rescued is 2nd Lieut. Albert Marsh, RNR, for whom the Church has been praying.

The Government have sent circulars to all the Rectors and Vicars in the country, asking them to bring before their parishioners the great need of economy in every way, and of equal importance, the pressing necessity of so working their gardens as to produce the largest amount of produce and fruit. They further urge all who can keep a pig or poultry. They go so far as to suggest that the War may be won or lost by the care we exercise in these matters. In connection with gardens, pigs and poultry, special prizes are being offered by the Burghfield and Sulhamstead Horticultural Society, of which brief particulars are given in this magazine.

Books and magazines for the troops
A circular has been received from the Postmaster at Reading, begging that magazines, not more than a year old, and readable books, may be left at the Post Office, Sulhamstead. 50,000 a week are being received at the Post offices, and they want to double that amount. The Postmistress will forward them free of charge for the use of the troops.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, April 1916 (D/EX725/3)

Insuring against air raids

William Hallam decided to buy air raid insurance.

21st February 1916
Up at 8.15. After breakfast I went down town and paid bread bill, then up to the Bldg. Soc. and paid 4/. for insurance against air-craft, then up to Post Office to get a withdrawal notice for wife’s father’s money from the Sav. Bank. After filling this in I took it to post and also put 15/6 in War Savings. After dinner to bed for a hour or two then up to tea and work.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/24)

The disappearance of a very gallant friend

Lady Mary Glyn wrote to her son Ralph with her latest news. She and her daughter Meg had been worried about Meg’s naval officer husband after another ship in his flotilla was lost to enemy action.

16th Feb

It was dreadful to come home & know of the Arethusa disaster, & to hear they had had no letter from Jim & still no letter yesterday. But today it has come. They have evidently all been out and it is indeed good to know that he is safe. 13th his letter is dated. Bless him….

I have made acquaintance with a Mrs Evans, wife of Captain Evans, Signal Officer with you at Ismailia. Do, if possible, write to me something good to pass on to her about him. She is Welsh – such a very cheery pleasant helper in the Red Cross Work Room and so proud of him on the Staff Headquarters with the MEF, and I told her, I would be able to hear all the evil things that could be said someday, & chaffed her well. He was a Post Office official here – wireless and telegraph engineer, at least so I gather….

Sir George Pragnell’s death will probably make another difficulty re Red Cross Workers. As far as I can make out he was the only man who could stand up to Sir Edward Ward and his levellings up – or down – of all voluntary work into one more abysmal organisation. And to add to Red X sorrows, they are to give up Burlington House for a spring exhibition in about a fortnight & truly we have hundreds of workers & do not know where they are to migrate.

Own Mur

Meg herself, who was staying with their parents, wrote to her brother the same day. (more…)

The Post Office collects books for the troops

The Post Office launched an appeal for reading material to be sent out to the troops. The parish of Wargrave published the request in the church magazine:

Books and Magazines for the Troops

The following appeal has been addressed to the Vicar and it seems to be one which everybody would be glad to respond.

“Post Office, Reading
14th February, 1916


We venture to enlist your interest in our efforts locally to double the number of books and magazines distributed to the Army and Navy on active service through the medium of the Post Office. As you may have observed, from notices in the local press, the Postmaster General has asked the Postmaster of Reading to do all that is possible in the Reading District to increase the numbers, and a small local committee has been formed for the purpose of organizing and sustaining a regular increased supply. At present 50,000 volumes a week are being received at Post Offices throughout the country for distribution from a central depot in London, and our efforts are now being directed with a view to double that number and, what is more important, to maintain that figure if possible.

It might be practicable to arrange, in cases where parcels of Books or Magazines could be spared regularly, for a Postman to call, if that would be more convenient to you than handing in the parcels at the nearest Post Office.

We are, your obedient servants,
E.W. Wedlake, Postmaster,
J. S. Wilkin, Hon. Sec. to Local Committee”

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

No power to pay for a sister’s season ticket

The Standing Joint Committee which oversaw Berkshire’s police were not very receptive to requests from two young policemen who had joined the army, but wanted the County Council to help subsidise their families, who were struggling without their contributions to family income.

8 January 1916

PC210, Arthur J. Wicks, joined the Army on 1 December, 1915, under the provisions of the Police (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1915. He stated that he had been contributing 2/- per week towards the support of his parents, and also paying £1.3s.9d. per quarter for his young sister’s railway season ticket from Twyford to Reading to enable her to learn dressmaking. His father is employed on the Great Western Railway and earns 18/- per week. The Sub-committee recommend that PC Weeks [sic] be informed that the committee have no power to contribute to the cost of his sister’s season ticket; and that so far as his parents are concerned, application should be made to the Army Authorities for an allowance.

PC 190, Thomas Irving, joined the Army on 1 December 1915, under the same Act, and stated that he had been contributing £1 per month to the support of his parents. His father is temporarily employed at Windsor Post Office, and earns about 27/6 per week. The Sub-committee are of opinion that any application by PC Irving for an allowance should be made by him to the Army Authorities.

Standing Joint Committee minutes (C/CL/C2/1/6)

Ex parte reports are not quite cricket

Ralph Glyn’s officer friend Stephen Pollen had returned from the Dardanelles.

28, Hyde Park Gardens
Nov. 9th [1915]

Dear Glyn

I am so sorry to have just missed you. It was so kind of you to have burdened yourself with a parcel for me & I am only glad to think your trouble was not wasted & that the coat is useful to you.

Many thanks, too, for the cheque although I don’t see why you should pay me a full price for a second-hand article! It is no use writing you all we hear here of what is in the melting-pot about the MEF. The centre of decision & the Decider have shifted to your GHQ.

I am to remain & assist Sir I.H. to finish off his despatches &c, & shall, I fancy, not be available for a few weeks more as we are waiting on various documents from your side. Subla [sic] Bay complicates the matter as ex parte reports have been received at WO & apparently have no small influence which is not quite cricket.

I would have liked to see the show through. It is nice to be home but not nice to come in the way one did! And what a difference being “in” it & “out”! The fortune of war & its no use lamenting.

I hope to be usefully employed again – & after all in this war, if one can be that it should be enough…

Yrs ever
S H Pollen

Mind you make use of me if there is anything you would like done.

Meanwhile a Scottish writer had taken up an idea Ralph had put forward to improve the supply of reading material for the troops.

“Where the devil are we going to end up?”

A naval officer friend of Ralph Glyn thought it unfair than civilians were earning more than those in the armed forces.

Princess Royal
7 August 1915

My dear Ralph

What the devil has become of you? Since I saw your comic caricatures in the illustrated papers watching the Fall – or was it Rise of Remysh – you don’t appear to have existed….

I deserted the N.2 a fortnight ago partly because the 12” won’t shoot as far as these & partly because I was no 3 there & badly jambed for promotion in consequence.

Look here Ralph – when is someone going to start governing the country. Why are bad workmen paid £6 a week & good soldiers 15/-. Why are these continual strikes allowed to continue. Why do members of Parliament get £400 a year & six weeks holiday. Why should Post Office officials get a war bonus. Who is getting the sailors’ prize money & where the devil are we going to end up now that it is to the interest of half the country to continue the war as long as possible.

So long & let me know when you are in the North & I’ll try & see you sometime.

Yours ever

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C31/13)

Penny subscriptions for French relief

July 15th 1915

Sent P.O for 6/- to Secretary of French Relief Fund; the amount collected by penny subscriptions yesterday (French Flag Day).

Bradfield CE School log book (D/P22/28/2, p. 140)

Patriotic to be thrifty

It was clear by now that the country needed money to keep the war going, and it could not be “business as usual” any more. The Wargrave parish magazine explained the new War Loans, investments which the Government promised to repay in due course.

July 1915

Patriotism and Thrift
At the beginning of the War it seemed the right thing to maintain “Business as Usual” in every direction one could. Many industries were obviously hard hit, and if all the usual orders had been withheld it would have aggravated disaster. People therefore felt that they were giving help of a right kind if they could spend money with those whose business had been so abruptly curtailed.

But after ten months of War the business of the country has been adjusted to the new conditions, and we now understand that as long as the conflict lasts there will be nothing as usual. We are told on the best authority that it is patriotic to be as thrifty as we can and that we can help by saving.

The Government requires all the money that people can save, and will give 4s. 6d interest per annum on every £5. This is 2/- more than the interest on Post Office Savings Bank Accounts. Scrip Vouchers for this Government War Loan can be bought at any Money Order Post Office.

It is not necessary to pay for a £5 Scrip immediately. People can buy 5/- Scrip Vouchers at any Money Order Post Office as often as they like, between now and December 1st, with a view to gradually saving £5. Interest will be paid on each 5/- in the meantime.

In this war the Government is asking everyone to save money to help towards victory, and papers to explain the whole matter can be obtained at any Post Office.

Wargrave parish magazine, July 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

Thinking seriously of investing in War Loan

War Loans were a way of encouraging people to voluntarily invest their savings in a kind of government bond. Both Florence Vansittart Neale and William Hallam were interested in the proposals.

Florence Vansittart Neale
23 June 1915

Russian success at the Dniester. Austrians driven back, 4000 prisoners. French success at [illegible].

Papers more cheerful this evening. Russians better, big success! Explaining War Loan – small investors in PO.

William Hallam
23rd June 1915

To-day I have been seriously thinking of taking up another mortgage on this house of 100£ and investing it in the War Loan at 4½ P.C.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8) and William Hallam (D/EX1415/23)