“Everything getting most scandalously dear”

William Hallam was shocked by the latest price rises, but was still patriotically investing in war savings certificates.

15th September 1917

Fine to-day again. Worked till 5. To-night after tea and I had washed, shaved and changed I went down to the Frome Hotel and got 2 pints of ale 1/= then along Bath Rd, bought a W.S.C. 15/6, then walked along looking in the shop windows. B[ough]t an oz of Red Bell tobaccos 6d. and a box of matches 1½d. Everything getting most scandalously dear. Coming back I went into Bath Rd reading room till ½ past 8. Very dark coming home. To bed at 10.

Diary of William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

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“The French are very selfish”

John Heading, a young man working with a labour company in France, wrote to his Berkshire farmer uncle with his impressions of his work – and the French.

Pte J C Heading
84,790
142nd Labour Co.,
BEF
France

My dear Uncle

I received your very kind letter, and we are glad of some warm weather. We have had quite a lot of thunder shower[s] ever since St Swythyn’s day, but it’s been very growing [sic]. The pears are very plentiful.

The French people charge very dear for everything. I take care they have very little of my money. There’s a reason in all things and they are very selfish. I’m very glad that this Heavenly Father has so mercifully spared my life up to the present time. I can assure you I have had some very narrow escapes. It’s only him that has kept me safe.

We have just heard some good news – this is Wednesday Aug 1st 1917. I am asking my wife to forward this letter on to you. We only get a green envelope once a fortnight and I send something home in that envelope for my wife. All other letters have to be left open to be censored. I may not post this letter until Friday has [sic] we expect to be paid then. I hope that you are all quite well and that the Country looks well. We, all of us, will be glad when the War is over, I can assure you.

We have a bath every week and we have to do our own washing. We are at a rail Head and have to unload trucks of Coal, Hay, Oats, Biscuits and all such things for the Troops. It’s a very heavy thunder storm, Aug Wed 8th, 1917.

I now conclude with best love to all. I remain

Your affect. Nephew
Pte J C Heading
84,790

Letter from Private John Heading to his uncle Albert Castle of Charlton, 1 and 8 August 1917 (D/EX2547/2/3/10)

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)

Furze Platt has no lack of War Workers

The women of Furze Platt were hard at work.

Furze Platt War Working Party

The following work has been completed during the last six months:- Mosquito Nets 59, Anti-Vermin Vests 44, Sun Shields 85, Bandages 46, Shirts 21, Bags 133, Bed Socks 80 pairs, Slippers 21 pairs, Nightingales 18, Bed jackets 41, Swabs 300, Mufflers 35, Mittens 61, Socks 7 pairs, Helmet 1.

The subscriptions have fallen by about 15/- a month, as against the amount subscribed at this time last year, and the cost of wool and material has greatly risen. Thanks to having some material in stock at the end of last year, the Working Party has been able to furnish almost the same amount of goods for hospitals and troops at the front; but I should like to call people’s attention to the position of affairs, and to beg them, as far as is in their power, to keep up their subscriptions.

The fact that so much work has been done shows that Furze Platt has no lack of War Workers, and we may be proud of the fact that no work has been returned to us by the Depot as incorrectly done.

G.M. Skrine, Hon. Sec. and Treasurer

June 26th 1917

Furze Platt War Working Party

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

No unnecessary travelling

Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist had their holidays constricted by the financial effects of the war, and the order’s chaplain offered himself to work with the troops.

11 May 1917

Notice sent to all the [daughter] Houses that in consequence of directions issued by Government that there should be no unnecessary travelling, and also because of the increased expense of journeys, the rests must not be broken up, but each Sister must take hers all at the same time, and so far as possible in one place.

The Chaplain has been accepted as Military Chaplain, and may be called up for service abroad or in England any time after the 15th inst.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

Bread and butter, yes! real butter at khaki socials

Reading Congregational Church reports on another winter’s worth of entertaining soldiers.

KHAKI SOCIALS

Now that the Khaki Socials have ended for the season, a short report may be of interest to those who read the magazine.

The winter season started on Sunday October 8th 1916, and continued every Sunday until May 6th 1917, a total (including Good Friday) of 32 Socials. At first they were not attended as well as could be expected, but after a while they became more widely known, and many nights the room has been quite crowded. The average attendance for the season was about sixty soldiers, besides others who came in as “friends”.

One of the chief features of the socials has been the refreshments, which were always appreciated by the Khaki boys, especially the thin pieces of bread and butter, yes! real butter.

The singing of the Fellowship Hymns was much enjoyed, special favourites being “All Hail the Power”, “Fight the Good Fight” and “Lead, kindly Light”, which were often selected by the men themselves, and couldn’t they sing, too!

The “tone” of the concerts was well maintained throughout the season, thanks to the various kind friends who have rendered help in this way.

The financial side of the Socials has been rather heavy, on account of the extra cost of foodstuffs. Consequently there is a deficit of several pounds.

The average cost per social was about 12/-, and it is estimated that nearly 2.000 Tommies attended and received refreshments during the season, so the committee cannot be accused of “over-feeding” at any rate.

There is now a splendid opportunity for two or three generous friends to send along their donations to wipe off the deficiency.

It would take too much space to say what I should like to say about all the friends who have helped so splendidly; but there are two or three who certainly should be mentioned. First is our Minister, Mr Rawlinson, who has presided on most nights, and has done more than anyone to cheer and brighten the meetings. It is not everyone who, after a strenuous day’s work, would undertake this extra work, but Mr Rawlinson has done it and done it cheerfully. Then Mr and Mrs J Ford and Mrs Witcombe, the “Food Controllers”, must be mentioned for their splendid services. Always behind the scenes, yet always on the spot and ready. They never once failed to supply even the “sugar”. Then our best thanks are due to one who, although not on the committee, has done good work as welcomer and door keeper. I refer to Mr J Owen. Some of the men got quite used to his welcome “how a-r-r-e you?”, especially the “Welsh Boys”.

What we should have done without Mrs Dracup and Miss Green in the musical department of the work, it is difficult to think. They have been a real help, and each deserves the silver medal for “services rendered”.

Besides those mentioned, the Khaki Socials Committee consisted of the following, all of whom have done their share of the work:
Mr Nott, Mrs Hendey, Mrs Woolley, Mr and Mrs Tibble, Mr A S Hampton and Mr Swallow, Mr Hendey as treasurer, and Mr W A Woolley as secretary.

The same committee has been re-elected to arrange Garden Parties, River Trips, etc, for the wounded soldiers during the summer months. Friends wishing to help in this good work should communicate with the secretary, who will be pleased to book up dates and make arrangements.

W A Woolley

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, June 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Totally blinded

The County Education Committee continued to find its work affected by the war in many ways, as teachers joined up, prices rose, and they helped people cope with shortages of staple foods.

School Management Sub-committee

SCHOLARSHIPS

Mr F Portas, who has for four years held a Supplementary University Scholarship, has now completed his medical course and passed the final examinations of the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons. He is now serving in the RAMC. Mr Portas, prior to receiving a Guthrie Scholarship at Westminster Hospital, held a County Scholarship at the Windsor County Boys’ School, where he received his school education.

DOMESTIC ECONOMY

The demand for Sicknursing Classes which have been conducted by Miss Barrett since 1896, has during the last year ceased, chiefly on account of circumstances arising from the war, and the Sub-committee have received the resignation of Miss Barrett.

The Sub-committee desire to record their appreciation of Miss Barrett’s useful work. For twenty years the classes have been held in almost every town and village in the county, and have always been well attended and greatly appreciated.

Higher Education Sub-committee

TEACHERS ON MILITARY SERVICE

Under an arrangement between the Board of Education and the War Office, the following teachers in the lower medical categories have been released from the Army to resume their school work: Mr H May, Mr W Edginton, and Mr B Gibbons.

The Sub-committee record with regret that Mr F W Lupton has been killed in action, and Mr F E Parker has been totally blinded.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

The Educational Supply Association have given one month’s notice to terminate on 11 May the present schedule of prices on which school materials are supplied; but will submit a revised schedule before that date.

The Contractors for Needlework Supplies have also notified further increases in the prices of some materials, and Messrs Charles & Son have raised their prices for paper goods to 100% above pre-war figures.

NATIONAL SERVICE

The Sub-committee have passed the following resolution:

In view of the fact that the Local Education Authority is of opinion that teachers are engaged in work of national importance, the Local Education authority will be unable to give any guarantee to any teacher called up that his or her place will be kept open.

FOOD ECONOMY CAMPAIGN

The Sub-committee have considered and approved a memorandum of the Education Secretary, referred to them by the War Savings Committee, with regard to the use of the Committee’s Cookery Centres for making known the best way of utilising as foods such substitutes for wheat as are available locally.

Reports of School Management Sub-committee and Higher Education Sub-committee to Berkshire Education Committee, 28 April 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

Promoting the economical use of foods

The Education Committee was at the forefront of war savings schemes locally. School were also to be used to promote changes in people’s habits with regards to food and cookery given the food shortages resulting from the war.

Report of Berks War Savings Committee

The War Savings Committee submit the following report of their work since the report to the July meeting of the Education Committee:

In accordance with the powers given to them on appointment, the following additional members have been co-opted:

Mr G F Slade
Mr T Skurray

During July and August last… Local Committees for War Savings came into being at Abingdon, Windsor and Maidenhead. Since that date, as a result of public meetings addressed by Miss Fraser of the National War Savings Committee and the Education Secretary, Local Committees have been started at Pangbourne, Thatcham, Newbury, Wallingford, Bracknell, Hungerford and Wokingham. Up to the 31 March, War Savings Associations have been established under the control of these Local Committees as follows:

Abingdon, with 6 Associations

Wallingford, 15 Associations

Pangbourne, 4 Associations

Hungerford, 7 Associations

Newbury, 15 Associations

Thatcham, 5 Associations

Wokingham, 13 Associations

Windsor

Maidenhead, 32 Associations

Bracknell, 13 Associations

As a general rule, these local committees deal only with their immediate areas, but efforts are being made by the National War Savings Committee to secure the extension of their activities to the surrounding parishes; e.g. the Associations of Marcham and Moulsford are affiliated to the Abingdon and Wallingford Local Committees respectively, and the War Savings Associations at the Cookham, Alwyn Road Council School, and Clewer S. Stephen’s School are affiliated to the Maidenhead and Windsor Local Committees respectively, whilst the Earley CE School War Savings Association is affiliated to the Reading Central Committee.

The Associations in connexion with Windsor Castle and the Broadmoor Asylum are affiliated directly with the National Committee.

The number of War Savings Associations (in addition to the above) in the Rural Parishes formed up to the 31 March, is 56; at least one half of these are in connexion with the schools….

The average amount saved by each Association during the quarter January to March, 1917, is £217. These figures do not include the grouped Associations, and relate only to the smaller Rural Associations, where the opportunities to save are less than in the larger centres of population.

The Berks Teachers’ Association officials in January consented to help in the work, and have been successful in arousing and maintaining interest in the movement. Messrs Camburn, James and Fryer, in particular, have done most valuable service.

The National War Savings Committee have been invited by the Ministry of Food to assist in the Food Economy Campaign, and the Berks War Savings Committee have had before them the Central Committee’s suggestions for Local Authorities and War Savings Committees, and in conjunction with the School Management Sub-committee, they have approved the arrangements embodied in the following memorandum:

FOOD CAMPAIGN

The Food Controller, in conjunction with the National War Savings Committee, has suggested that “Under the auspices of the Education Authorities a Conference might be called in every area with a view to enlisting the enthusiastic support and active help of teachers. In the case of ordinary schools, the children will form a means of securing the interest of the parents, and invitations to meetings and special classes can be issued through them. The Domestic Science teachers will be wanted to take charge of such classes.

After consultation with HM Inspector, the following preliminary Scheme has been drafted:

That the Instructresses be instructed to modify their syllabus with a view:

To promote the economical use of foods of which there is an available supply in the locality.

To prepare specimen menus for family use based on the above, with notes on the quantities required to give a proper diet.

To arrange to have the cooked meals on view after the lessons, so that the mothers can see them and ask questions.

To confer with the Head Teachers of the neighbouring schools as to the best way of spreading useful information among the parents of children not in attendance at the Centres, either by inviting visits which could be regarded as object lessons or by co-operating in drawing up a scheme for simple instruction in the schools.

It is to be noted that:

While it is important to keep the full record of all meals and their cost, it is not to be expected that the employment of substitutes will effect any substantial saving in cost, as the price of substitutes must rise as the standard foods become scarce.

It is most important to give guidance as to the feeding of children, as in some families there may be a tendency to reduce the food value of their meals.

Where milk is obtainable, it will be very useful to emphasise its uses in cookery.

It is hoped to hold a conference as soon as the Instructresses have drawn up their Scheme, and it is most important that the scheme should be prepared as soon as possible.

This Conference was held on the 20th April and the preliminary steps have been already taken to start work.

Report of Education Finance Sub-committee

The Sub-committee have arranged with certain employees on Military Service, who were receiving allowances from the Committee, to invest on their behalf part of their allowances in War Savings Certificates.

Reports to Berkshire Education Committee, 28 April 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

The cost of food and other commodities has more than doubled since the commencement of the war

Berkshire policemen were given a pay rise to cope with war conditions.

21 April 1917

The Clerk referred to the death of Lieut-Col Thorne, the Deputy Clerk of the Peace, who had been killed in action near Arras on 9 April, while in command of a battalion of the Royal Scots.

Resolved on the motion of Lord George Pratt, seconded by Sir R. D. Acland, knight, KC: That a letter of condolence be sent to the widow of rhe late Deputy Clerk of the Peace.

Police Constable 212, Frederick Charles Kimmer, has been called upon to join the Army, being under 23 years of age.

War Bonus

The cost of food and other commodities which has more than doubled since the commencement of the war, is being felt very seriously at the present rate of pay and bonus. The rate of pay of a Constable on joining, together with the 3/- war bonus, amounts to 26/11 per week, in addition to the incidental advantages he obtains in the way of clothing, boots, rent, rates and pension, and, in the case of single Constables, bedding, fuel and light.

Information has been obtained from all the County forces in England … and, placing the wages and war bonus with others… Berkshire compares very unfavourably with others… only 6 county forces coming beneath it.

Taking everything into consideration, the Committee recommend the following extra war bonus to all ranks .. to commence from 1 April, 1917, be payable until three months after the conclusion of the war…

32 per week for each member
1s per week for wife
6d per week for each child under the age of 15 years

It is estimated that the extra cost would be about £2,550.

Adopted.

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

No potatoes and poor quality beer

Shortages were beginning to bite for William Hallam in Swindon.

14th April 1917

All the greengrocers shops had notices up “No potatoes”. So we shall have to do without this Sunday. After tea I went along to Bath Rd Reading Room till nearly 8. Beer and stout is now 6d a pint and poor stuff at that price but I got some to-night for supper.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/26)

Worse cases than we have hitherto had will be sent to Mortimer

Some of the costs of the many voluntary hospitals which were treating wounded soldiers had to be met locally.

V.A.D. Hospital

This hospital was opened on October 24th, 1914, and became an Auxiliary Hospital attached to the 3rd Southern General Hospital at Oxford. On April 1st this year it was transferred to the No. 1 War Hospital at Reading. The following letter was received from Colonel Ranking:-

“To the Commandant V.A.D. Hospital, Mortimer, 30/3/17. Dear Miss Wyld. I have the honour to inform you that V.A.D. Hospital, Mortimer, will be transferred from this command to the War Hospital, Reading, on 1st April next. In relinquishing control of the above Hospital I wish to convey to yourself, the Medical Officer and Staff my very sincere thanks for the assistance rendered to me by the able and efficient manner in which the work of the Hospital has been carried out while in this command, and my best wishes for a successful future.
Yours sincerely, George Ranking, Lt.-Col. Administrator 3rd S.G. Hospital.”

At the request of Colonel Maurice, Administrator No. 1 War Hospital, Reading, the number of beds has been increased from 18 to 28, and in all probability worse cases than we have hitherto had will be sent. I should like to take this opportunity of thanking very heartily all the many kind friends who have generously helped in the past, both with money and other gifts. Any further help will be most gratefully accepted, for while the prices of everything are so enormously increased, the Government allowance of 3/- per diem per man remains the same, and it is not intended or expected that this allowance should cover all expenses in such Hospitals. Last year the expenses worked out at 4/7 per head. This was rather high, but for a long time we had very few patients and then the cost comes very heavy. The accounts are made up to December 31st, audited and sent through the Red Cross Committee to the War Office.

F. M. Wyld, Commandant.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

The great advance in prices

A church run refreshment stand had to increase its prices.

COFFEE STALL.

Owing to the great advance in prices it has been found necessary to raise some of the charges at the Coffee Stall. Bread and butter is now 1d. a slice or two slices for 1½d. Halfpenny cups of tea will be sold only up to 9 a.m., after that hour only penny cups will be on sale. Other prices are unchanged.

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

“This year we shall be obliged to keep Lent, whether we like it or not”

Shortages were beginning to affect everyone.

LENT

It seems that this year we shall be obliged to keep Lent, whether we like it or not. Railway travel has been curtailed, food prices are still rising, food is getting scarce, and all the efforts of the nation are to be devoted to winning the war. As Church-people we are used to the season of Lent, but there is a question whether we have kept it as we ought, in fact it is certain that many Church-people have paid very little attention to the Church’s injunctions in this respect. But we cannot disobey the State with impunity, and we should be extremely selfish if we did not do our bit to practise economy, and so help to save the Nation’s food. There are many who might, with advantage, purchase War Savings Certificates, to help the country and to make provision for the future; and we would beg all our readers to do their very utmost to carry out the Food Controller’s instructions, in the spirit in which they were issued. The Germans are not yet decisively beaten – if this is to be done, everyone of us will have to help.

We should like to offer our sincere sympathy to Mr and Mrs Savage on the untimely death of a good son and promising young soldier. Edward George Savage was confirmed at the Parish Church in 1912. He passed away from the effects of pneumonia, following upon an attack of measles… The coffin was borne by soldiers, and there was a following party of the Royal Flying Corps.

We would also offer our sincere sympathy to Mrs Manley on the death of her husband on service, as announced in the “Newbury Weekly News” of February 15th.

The National Schools have had a bad time during the long continued frost: first of all on account of the heating apparatus misbehaving itself; and secondly, on account of the water being frozen. The Managers have endeavoured to remedy the former by adding to the boiler: it is possible that the coke does not nowadays give out so much heat, as certain properties have to be taken out for the manufacture of explosives.

The Parish Room has now been evacuated by the Military, and has returned to its usual state. The soldiers were very quiet and well behaved during their stay there. The occupation brought in a little money to the Parish Room Fund. We trust that outside people, who have been accustomed to use the room, will now appreciate the privilege more. The men who were billeted in the Parish Room desire, through the medium of the Parish Magazine, to sincerely thank all those who so kindly contributed to their comfort during their stay there.

Mrs L R Majendie would be grateful for gifts of material, such as cretonne, for the members of the Mothers’ Meetings to make “treasure bags” for wounded soldiers.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

Nurses not satisfied with increased salaries

Queen Victoria Institute for District Nursing, Reading, continued to work well despite the war.

1 February 1917

Amalgamation with the work of Caversham District Nursing Association

Doctor Hope emphasised the great importance, especially since the war began, of the midwifery work and the representatives of the Institute, especially the Lady Superintendent, expressed themselves as in favour of a reconsideration of the Institute’s position as to this work, but they pointed out that pending some decision by the Reading Corporation as to the Tuberculosis and School work it was not likely that the Institute could some to a definite arrangement with regard to this because the accommodation at present would not permit of any increase in the staff and if midwifery work were taken an increase would be inevitable.

Salaries of Nursing Staff

Miss Moxhay reported that she had reason to believe that the Nurses were not satisfied with the increase of salaries arranged at the last meeting. It was pointed out that no part of the recent increase in the price of food and materials fell upon these nurses as they were boarded and lodged in all respects at the expense of the institute, but it was resolved that the Honorary Secretary should write to Headquarters and find out, if possible what the Council recommended in the matter having regard to the suggestions which they had made in March 1916.

Finance

The Honorary Treasurer reported that he had obtained the opinion of Messers Barclay & Co. with regard to the conversion of the existing War Loan holdings and they recommended that the holding of £100 – 4 ½ percent War Stock (1925/45) should be converted into the new 5 per cent War Stock (1929/47) but that the existing holding of £200, 6 per cent Exchequer Bonds should not be converted.

Resolved: that action be taken accordingly.

Minutes of Queen Victoria Institute for District Nursing, Reading (D/QX23/1/2)

Major Dinkum

Florence Vansittart Neale heard some gossip and tall tales from army officers. “Dinkum” is actually an Australian word, and the story, ascribed to an Australian officer, is recorded as being in circulation elsewhere.

25 December 1916

Had 5 Remount Depot to dine with us.

Major Remount Depot told me – hear [Colonel?] RFA told him how a spy had been caught. Posed as a Major who came to their Division & gave orders to bombard [later?] a salient! Said he had been sent from the HQ, also seen and arranged for other divisions etc etc. A Canadian present said. “Is this dinkum”, a slang word meaning is this true. He answered Yes, I am Major Dinkum. Whereupon the C[anadian?] rushed on him & held him down & they found he was a spy & was taken out & shot.

One day the artillery was told to bombard heavily but unluckily the ammunition was forgotten!!

Hear the new Government dare not conscript Ireland.

I hear Sir D. Haig sent for 1000 miles of railway lines, 400 engine drivers & heaps of locomotives, & that has caused the reduction of trains & increase in the price of tickets to begin Jan 1 1917.

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