Wireless messages concerning the armistice coming from an agitated operator at the Eiffel Tower, before many in authority knew what was being said

St Augustine’s was the only children’s home for boys run by the Community of St John Baptist. Many of its inmates went on to serve in the Armed Forces, and they shared their experiences with the Sisters.

June, 1919
Dear Friends of St Augustine’s Home

The health of the boys has been excellent this winter, for which we are most thankful. We had a bad epidemic of influenza a year ago, and when the disease made its re-appearance in Windsor in the beginning of winter, we trembled, but schools were closed, and we resorted to gargling and house-spraying, and had not more than half a dozen cases at most.

Our always kind doctor and dentist have returned home from war work, and again look after our boys…

We ended our financial year with bills amounting to more than £200 unpaid. We are printing not merely our last balance sheet, but a pre-war one, by way of an interesting and instructive comparison. One thing that may strike you is that not merely are our expenses heavier, but our subscriptions are considerably less. There have been so many claims on everyone, but we hope that as these lessen, the claims of a Home like ours, which has sent many sons to the front and is helping to train others to take the place of those who have fallen, may appeal not merely to former subscribers but to those who will become new friends…

Our household linen cupboard, and our clothes cupboard, were almost empty this spring… Then … came a large package of garments, cutlery and other things from a war hospital… during the last two weeks of March.

A number of kind friends at Eton and other places made a special Lent effort and sent us a nice contribution of stockings… If other friends would follow this example (perhaps some of those who have knitted so assiduously for soldiers) and ask their friends to do the same, the stocking basket would wear a more cheerful aspect…

August will soon be here, and we hope to see some of our old boys down for the holidays, though Peace celebrations may very naturally take them elsewhere. They have come and gone from time to time as leave allowed, and many thrilling things some of them have to tell – though told always in the simplest, most matter-of-fact way. Some have been in ships torpedoed, one received and transmitted wireless messages concerning the armistice coming from an agitated operator at the Eiffel Tower, before many in authority knew what was being said. And some of our boys will of course never return, but have won the “great promotion” of which the Home is so proud.

Yours very gratefully
The Sister-in-Charge

Letter to Friends of St Augustine’s Home, Clewer (D/EX1675/23/4/6)

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Appointment, for the period of the War

8th May 1919

Miss Lewin, Casepaper Clerk

Reporting the receipt of a letter from the Local Government Board, stating that they offered no objection to the appointment, for the period of the War, of Miss M L Lewin as Casepaper Clerk, at a Salary at the rate of £62 per annum.

Exchequer Grants

Reporting the receipt of a letter from Lt Col. Wilson stating that he had been in communication with the Local Government Board on the subject of the proposal put forward by the Guardians that Exchequer Grants towards salaries should be increased proportionately to the advances which had been made during the last 14 years, and that he had now received a letter from Mr Waldorf Astor, Parliamentary Secretary to the Board, stating that any additional grant, such as the Guardians suggest, would require legislation, and he was afraid that there was no prospect of this at present. Also, that apart from other considerations, the Government were pledged to some alteration of the Poor Law system, and could not very well in the meantime attempt to deal with a point which must be considered in connection with much wider issues.

Report of Finance & General Purposes Committee, Reading Board of Guardians (G/R1/59)

“I am afraid he will not stay”

Postwar wages had not kept up with price rises.

Ap 29th

Visit of Charles and Cecil Burningham who have just been demobilised, and Robert Tompkins and Leslie Booth who were demobilised some time ago.

New scale of salaries came from Office, but teachers are not very satisfied. Mr Robbins has £142.10s which he says is not enough, and I am afraid he will not stay.

St Mary’s CE School, Speenhamland (C/EL119/3)

“What we have sunk to makes me sad”

John Maxwell Image had some interesting view on the effects of the war (some unfortunately anti-semitic).

29 Barton Road
7 April ‘19

My very dear old man

We have the American influx on us in full swing – u.g.s as plentiful as before the War: Navy blue and gold by the hundred: and now suddenly the Yanks. Where can all be accommodated?…

Ye take too much upon ye, ye sons of Zeruiah – that is the natural feeling as to the American air. They came in at the last hour – to receive every man a penny, and claim to boss the show.
Britain, bled to the white in men and money, cannot stand up against them. Grousing is no good. Our fighting class are killed off. Those now alive, want only panem et circences [bread and circuses]. They can‘t look beyond the day. Those who can make money, squander it: the unhappy ones with fixed incomes, and with a little saving, to tax for the proletariat’s advantage, won’t find England a fair country to live in, except for the Bolshevik. What claim to his own property will be regarded by Parliament.

Half an hour ago I was shewn Punches Almanack for 1915 – i.e. in the first 6 months of the War. It made me sad! What we expected then; and what we have sunk to. The retreat from Mons had but convinced us that we should thrash von Klack, and certainly – ; that, driven back to Germany, the Kaiser’s Army will be met by Cossacks in occupation of Berlin. No mention could I see of submarines! None of air-raids of any kind! What is more striking still, there was no hint of brutality by German soldiers, anywhere. There seemed in the country a contemptuous disdain for our German opponents. We should stamp them down, as did our fathers, and then Russia would mop them up. Poor Russia! And her German Tsaritsa – the cause of it all!

There was a curdling leader in the paper a few days ago on the Bolshevist Chiefs. Lenin, the writer who knows him [says], has brains and energy: and he is of noble birth. But Trotsky and the others – their names were all given – are one and all of them JEWS – and with the Jew characteristic of making a good thing for themselves, while others do the fighting.

It was a leader in the Times on April 1st (Tuesday). Read it. Trotsky, Zinovieff, Svendloff, Kameneff, Uritsky, Yoffe, Rodek, Litvinoff, many others – Jews one and all.

The Hon. Russell’s new book was reviewed in the Observer, did you see it? The Russell has the impertinence to pretend that Bolshevik ruthlessness is the offspring of Love! Is the man sane? or merely dishonest?

Your dear friend
JMI

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

Unable to proceed with the present war memorial design

Inflation meant that Cookham Dean had to postpone its war memorial plans.

The Vicar’s Letter

You will along with the Parish Magazine receive the design of the proposed War Memorial. Circumstances are now so very different from the time when it was first mooted, the cost of material and of labour have so considerably advanced, that the estimated expense of erection is found to be more than £50 beyond what was expected, and I am asked by the Chairman of the Committee (Sir R. Melvill Beachcroft) to state that unless further subscriptions come in, the Committee will be unable to proceed with the present design. It is possible that some have waited to see the design before promising a subscription; in that case I hope they will at once come to the help of the Committee, so that they may be able to complete the work that they were asked to undertake. I might add that the names of men fallen in the War, from whatever cause, would be carved on the panels shewn blank in the design.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, April 1919 (D/P43B/28A/11)

We expect nothing to-day at pre-war prices

The economy had changed forever.

May we call attention to the collections for the past month. They are due to the inclement weather. Do the members of the congregation remember when they make their offerings that on the Sundays they miss, from the weather or illness, expenses go on just the same, and that, unless they make good for those missed Sundays, a debt will soon roll up? The whole question of collections must be faced. Our collections are pre-war; our expenditure is of to-day. We expect nothing to-day at pre-war prices. The service of worship should be no exception to this rule.

South Ascot Parochial magazine, March 1919 (D/P186/28A/19)

“We were very pleased that we spent those four terrible years in England”

The Van Hoof family, who had spent the war as refugees in Maidenhead, returned home.

OUR BELGIAN REFUGEE FRIENDS.

41, Kapelstraat, Boom,
Prov. (Anvers), Belgie,

March 8th.

Dear Mrs. Lewis,-

I am very sorry I have not been able to write before, but we have been so busy that we have not found time to do anything but arrange things at home. We spent nearly a week travelling before we were home. Before going on the boat we had to stay two days in London, which we spent in sight seeing.

We went on the boat about one o’clock on Friday, 28th, and started to sail about 4 o’clock the same day. The weather was glorious all through the sea journey, so that we arrived in Antwerp on Sunday morning about 12 o’clock. Before we were off the boat nearly an hour had passed. One of my uncles was there to meet us, so that it was quite 5 o’clock before we got home. You can imagine our relatives’ joy at meeting us again. We spent the whole of that day in talking, talking, talking.

Our home was quite alright, but the furniture and many other things that were in it have been stolen or else much damaged. The blankets you gave us have come in very useful, for they are things of the past here. The people have suffered very much, and the clothing has been so dear that they used to have all spare blankets dyed (for garments). The food is now much cheaper, about the same as in England, except the meat and bread. That is nearly twice the price as that in England.

We were very pleased that we spent those four terrible years in England, and by the help of the Committee we suffered nothing to complain of. Thanking you for your goodness towards us, and hoping to receive an answer from you,

I remain, yours faithfully,

J. VAN HOOF

Think of that from a little Belgian girl, who did not know a word of English when she came to Maidenhead!

Maidenhead Congregational magazine, April 1919 (D/N33/12/1/5)

“We can’t get coal enough to keep the flame of life within our veins”

Fuel was still in short supply, as the universities got a sudden influx of new students, many of them men who had served in the armed forces.

29 Barton Road
25 January ‘19

My dearest old CMY

We can’t get coal enough to keep the flame of life within our veins – though we are eking our fuel out with blocks of wood – 30/- for 300! – and even with the fire in my little study (you remember it?) I go about with Florrie’s Shetland shawl – I gave it her when she was Miss Spencer – wrapped round my senile shoulders. And we cannot afford fire in the study more than twice a week. Half of our whole coal ration has already been used.

The streets are filled with Caps and Gowns – all new. The wearers of course are all freshmen. When last, say, 3 years back, Cambridge saw u.g.s, not a soul wore academical dress, except to lecture. Now they are vain of it. How they will manage at Trinity I wonder. The Cadets have left the New Court Rooms in a dirty confusion, and the upholsterers cannot supply furniture of beds, chairs, tables, etc. Many mammas seem to be importing furniture from home to their hopefuls. Lawrence, Junior Bursar, is driven out of his senses. Then in Master’s Courts are 400 Naval Lieutenants and Sub-lieutenants. The gold lace of their uniforms quite cuts out the military khaki. So I hear ladies say. It glitters over the streets all day. Naval men refuse Oxford, which doubtless knows neither Math nor Science.

But did you notice the slight cast here by the Army? I boil!

Our dear love, Florence’s and mine, to you both.

Ever affec
Bild

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

At least we may hope that the bloodshed is past, and that the Peace terms may help to right the many wrongs committed

What would a post-war world look like, many wondered.

My dear friends,

We open our New Year with hearts relieved of the heavy anxiety which all of us felt at the dawn of the year past. At least we may hope that the bloodshed is past, and that the Peace terms may help to right the many wrongs committed.

But our victory, so largely brought about by the English speaking nations, lays upon those nations no light responsibility. How wide and how deep that responsibility will be, and into what spheres it will penetrate, is something one can more easily feel than formulate into words. We may take it for granted that things which had grown old are now becoming new, and that those things which were cast down are now being raised up; and that all things are returning to perfection, through Him from whom they took their origin.

Statesmen are of one accord that the world must be built up on new lines. Are they inspired with the truth that perfection cannot lie apart from Jesus Christ? We have seen a pagan efficiency brought down with a run. The years 1914-18 are pages of history which may well make Statebuilders think. Where Christ was banished, there lay already the germ of failure. The worship of power and wealth has brought a proud nation to its knees before a horror-struck and outraged world. Is this nothing to us who wield perhaps the greatest influence since the days of the old Roman Empire?

But it is more about matters at home I am concerned. If a league of nations is possible beyond our Empire, surely it is possible to be at home as a city at unity in itself. Class differences in outlook perhaps there always will be, but class antagonisms are mutually suicidal. If we could learn to respect each other’s outlook, and help that so far as the outlook is just and right, England could be a happier, more united country. God has given us such proof of His confidence that He has given us this victory. Let us begin by being at least just at home.

And it is in the spiritual sphere also that the consequences of victory is to be felt. We see the stirring of conscience in religious bodies that disunion and schism are not the Mind of Christ. These Bodies are not to be brought into unity piecemeal. The resulting bitterness of individual conversion only makes the antagonisms worse. I do not think we as Christians sufficiently realise the loss to Christ through conflicting Christianity; and we should be prepared to make any concession to those separated from us as does not involve a breach with the true Catholic Church of Christ. Just as prejudice is not to be allowed to stand in the way of England’s reconstruction, neither should it stand in the way of the reconstruction of the Church….
One fallacy which has been exploded by the war was that unity by command meant the sacrifice of national independence. We now know that diversity of effort meant playing into the enemy’s hand. The English army had its part to play, as the English Church will always have her part to play; and the English army suffered no loss of prestige or national self-determination because it correlated its effort with the armies of the allied forces under a supreme command. It has been a great lesson, and one which can be so pointedly applied…

The coming year must be full of matters of deep moment. I pray God that we may meet it under His guidance.

We owe a debt of thanks to Mr Self Fowles for the great help he has given as a temporary choirmaster. He has given himself heart and soul to the work, and has been loyally backed up by the choir. His heart is in the Church, and we hope that he may find a sphere as congenial to him as All Souls has been. Mr Clarke will resume his place at the organ at once, and he will receive a hearty welcome back from many old friends.

The cost of Magazines has again risen. We do not propose to raise the price, but we hope that those who can afford it will raise the sum they usually pay for the year. As the Magazine has been in existence for 23 years the vicar has determined to continue it; but it was after some hesitation.

Your affectionate priest and friend,

Barrington B. Murray

South Ascot Parochial magazine, January 1919 (D/P186/28A/19)

Let us play our part manfully for God in the new conditions we all have to face

Maidenhead continued to celebrate peace and look to the future.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners …

Alas, we have to raise the price of the Magazine to 2d, when bought from a District Visitor, or over the counter at Mr Marsh’s shop. The price for a year, delivered separately, is 2/6 instead of 1/6. We are, I believe, the last Magazine in Berkshire to raise our price, but last year has been run at a loss, and the cost of paper and printing has enormously increased…

Then may I wish you all a very Happy New Year, the safe return of all friends from the Forces, and a final Peace on just lines in the world…

As regards the future, the Band of Hope Tea is to be held on January 7th at Brock Lane Room, St Luke’s Sunday School Treat on January 23rd, and North Town later on. For these treats I will gladly receive (and even request) donations. Let us make our Armistice Tea a success.

Then as regards the further future, I hope to call a Meeting to discuss a War Memorial for the Parish of St Luke, Maidenhead, in February, as, doubtless, the Mayor will call upon all citizens to do something for the Borough at the Town Meeting in January. I think we ought, as Church people, to plan something definite for the Church or its work. Let us put our heads together in the meantime…

In the meantime, let us try and back up our existing work, so as to play our part manfully for God in the new conditions we all have to face.

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C E M Fry.
Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, January 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)

We may find peace more dangerous than war, but we have great faith in the newly granted votes for women

Earley women were encouraged to consider their vote.

The Vicar’s Letter

My Dear Friends

Our first feeling this month is surely one of deep thankfulness to Almighty God for our deliverance from the dark cloud of war that has so long brooded over us; we can hardly yet realise the greatness of our victory; as a nation, we have taken it calmly and seriously, and in our thanksgiving services, we have shown that we definitely ascribe it to the giver of all good. It is well that we should have been so, for we have a great deal before us; in the first place let us pray earnestly for a just and righteous, an an abiding peace; and in the next place let us all remember the great responsibilities that are opening upon us, or we may find peace more dangerous than war.

After all great wars there has always been more or less of an upheaval, and many people are looking forward with dread to the next two or three years, but we feel sure that the common sense of our country will prevail, and that the spirit in which we have carried on through the war will carry us on through the early and troublesome times of peace, if we are only true to ourselves and the principles on which we have met the long struggle for right and justice.

Not least among the factors which will make for this result is the coming General Election; if everyone will give his or her vote for what he or she thinks really best for the welfare of the nation. We shall have gone far to solve many of the problems that will soon press upon us: and in this connection we have great faith in the newly granted votes for women; it is surely a great historic occasion when the “Mother of Parliaments” for the first time admits women to vote for her formation, and we hope that there will be no slackness in recording the vote, but that every woman will weigh for herself the position of affairs and fully discharge her responsibility.

Owing to the very large increase in the cost of printing and paper the Magazine, if continued, will have under present arrangements, to face a deficit of £40 or £50 for the coming year; moreover, it is impossible to obtain nearly a sufficient number of the “Dawn of Day” to go round, as the publishers cannot supply more than about 400 copies, and we want nearly 600; it is therefore, possible, that the magazine may have to be discontinued for a year; if this is the case we hope to issue a bi-monthly or quarterly sheet containing the chief Parish news at the price of a halfpenny a copy, as is done in other parishes. In any case we hope to continue the Magazine on its old basis, as soon as conditions improve.

In case, therefore, that the Magazine does not appear in January, I take this opportunity of wishing everyone a Happy New Year as well as a Happy Christmas; we have much, very much, to be thankful for, and we should try and show our thankfulness by sympathizing withal those whose Christmas will be darkened, though we may hope not without happiness, by helping others, and above all by consecrating our lives by coming to the Holy Communion on Christmas Day, and resolving come more regularly in the future.

Your friend and Vicar.

W.W. FOWLER.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P191/28A/25)

“What would have happened to us if things had gone the other way we shudder to contemplate”

Feelings in Earley were still hostile to Germany.

The Vicar’s Letter

My Dear friends,

We have again very much to be thankful for with regard to the War. We have been passing through a critical stage, much more critical than most people have thought. The attempts of our enemies to bring about an armistice, and to gain time to recover and bring about a peace favourable to themselves, have been attended by very real danger for the future of all free nations, and we may be thankful that they have not succeeded. We all desire peace from the bottom of our hearts, but it must be a just and righteous peace, which will once and for all safeguard the world in the future against the horrors and misery of the past four years. A vindictive spirit is not a characteristic of our nation, but none of us can have read during the past month of the “agony of Lille,” the cold blooded cruelty of the sinking of the “Leinster,” and the outrageous treatment of our prisoners, without feeling that there must be a sharp punishment as well as reparation. Moreover, we cannot, as President Wilson says, make any terms with the present rulers of Germany, and therefore we must still fight on for the present; and surely we ought to thank God that we are more than likely, within a reasonable time, to be in a position to impose our own terms. What would have happened to us if things had gone the other way we shudder to contemplate.

It is possible that the Magazine may have to be suspended for a time owing to the scarcity of paper and the great increase of cost. We shall be in a position to make a further announcement next month.
Your friend and Vicar,
W.W. FOWLER.

THE WAR

Events are moving so rapidly in the War that it is possible for us seriously to indulge in hopes of peace, even though we find ourselves quite unable to put the slightest trust in German professions. It is difficult to understand the state of mind of those who, while asking for peace, continue those very practices which have above everything produced the strong determination in the allies to render them impossible in the future. It does appear certain that the best hope for the World does not lie in a peace by negotiation, but in a peace dictated by strong conquerors who are in a position to ensure justice. The ideal of human justice is to secure society from the depredations of the criminal, and if possible restore the criminal so that he may become a worthy member of society; for this purpose punishment may be necessary and salutary but among civilized people the just judge is not expected to vindicate. It is to be regretted that in some of our leading papers letters are allowed to appear which are more characteristic of the Hun attitude in the days of their ascendancy than of the strong calm nation which is pledged to a righteous and lasting peace. The Germans have shown themselves to be brutal; we are happy to think that our own men could not bring themselves even in retaliation to be brutal, and that we shall to the end retain a clean record.

The following have been added tom the list of those serving in His Majesty’s Forces – Frank White, George Jerram, Albert Harry Burgess.

Our prayers are also asked for the following: –

Richard Goodall, Harry Russell, Killed.

Frank Lloyd, Neil Henderson, missing.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P191/28A/25)

How the high wages are spent

Good news was tempered with sadness as men continued to die.

Florence Vansittart Neale
19 October 1918

Dear old Christopher died of pneumonia or flu. None of his family there. Up at the Orkneys. On hospital ship “Agadir”….

Had letters from girls. Wonderful entrance into Lille – all inhabitants kissing. Bring sugar & sweets for our soldiers.

William Hallam
19th October 1918

This afternoon I went through the town.… I could not help noticing this afternoon all the people especially women are dressed up to the nines and even then looking into the drapers windows for more clothes. This is how the high wages are spent.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9); and William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

A demonstration against raising the food prices

The rising prices of food were causing discontent at home.

William Hallam
1st October 1918

A sharp frost this morning the roofs of the houses quite white when I went to work at 6. We all came out at 4 to make a demonstration against raising the food prices. I came home- didn’t go up to Town Hall.

Florence Vansittart Neale
1 October 1918

After tea to Freres & Mrs Hester. Dicky short leave (one day!).

Diaries of William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

These days of war taxation, war claims and war prices

Before the advent of the National Health Service a generation later, hospitals like the Royal Berkshire Hospital were a mixture of private, charitable and subscription-based. Subscribers paid an annual fee to ensure treatment if they needed it. But the war’s disruption of the economy put hospitals at risk.

ROYAL BERKS HOSPITAL

An Urgent Appeal

The hospital is in serious need of money. As times go on subscribers pass away. Their places are hard to fill in these days of war taxation, war claims and war prices. On the other hand, expenses rise. Special departments become necessary, operations cost more. All maintenance costs more. The number of patients grows. Altogether, increased support to the amount of £5000 is needed if the work is not to suffer.

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