“Far away from my battalion and the plague of khaki”

Percy had gone on ahead of his unit to arrange billets in the French countryside.

June 19 [1918]
My dear WF

I like this place. Far away from my battalion and the plague of khaki, here I am billeting – at least I was yesterday.

Today I’m just waiting for my people to turn up.

I like the chateau with its monster lime trees – one, the largest I have ever seen. And I like the big farmer who took me into a direct current from his styes and there held me in lengthy conversation – and the old ladies apparently born in strait waistcoats who hold one spellbound for hours in a flood of patois out of which one thing only is clear – they require an exorbitant price for what they are pleased to call an officers’ mess.

The postman, fat & aged, is refreshing too. His cheerful announcement of letters & postcards with all details and contents of the letter is good to the heart. His cheery good day to me as I passed and request for a cigarette & explanation that tobacco is very scarce went straight to my cigarette case.

And then there is M. le Maire, schoolmaster & umpteen other things, who left his overalled charges to show me billeting matters and give me lengthy explanations only pausing to hurl corrections across the courtyard to the schoolroom, where one of the boys was reading aloud.

And then there is Madame at the estaminet where I have my temporary headquarters, who provides me with an interminable reserve of eggs and coffee, and constant shocks. The climax was reached when I asked for milk, and taking a homely bedroom utensil [a chamberpot!], she drew therein a supply from her little goat and served me liberally therefrom.

And that’s my village.

With my dear love to you both

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/47-49)

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Strain every nerve to keep the work going at this crisis of the war

Women in Furze Platt were busy making clothes for the troops.

Furze Platt War Working Party Report for 1917

CR. £ s. d.
Subscriptions 17 7 0
Donations 3 2 10
Collected 31 12 0
Balance, 1916 6 16 0
Debt … 2 10 3 ½
£ 61 8 1 ½

DR. £ s. d.
Cleaning and Firing 0 18 10
Cheque Book …… …0 2 0
Materials… … 55 7 3 ½
Lady Jellicoe’s Fund for Sailors
… … … 5 0 0
£ 61 8 1 ½

Garments Completed
300 Swabs.
219 Bed Socks (pairs).
112 Anti-Vermin Vests.
200 Bags.
161 Sun Shields.
135 Pairs Mittens.
64 Bed Jackets.
18 Nightingales.
9 Pairs Socks.
45 Bandages.
21 Slippers.
7 Helmets.
7 Pyjamas.
26 Shirts.
68 Mufflers.
84 Mosquito nets.

Total … 1476

On the whole the report is satisfactory; the debt was covered by material in stock towards this year’s work, but the funds show a drop of nearly £6 on the amount raised in 1916… We have been able to keep up to our standard of work done, in spite of the greater strain of work which falls on everybody’s shoulders these days.

I have just received a copy of the urgent appeal sent to this district from the head organisation in London, calling upon all voluntary workers to strain every nerve to keep the work going at this crisis of the war. I am sure Furze Platt will respond to the call so far as the workers are concerned; and I trust those living in the neighbourhood will do their best to keep the fund going, and that some who have not subscribed before will either become monthly subscribers or will send a donation. It is absolutely necessary, owing to the price of the material, that we should raise more money this year, if we are to contribute the same amount of work.

I regret that I have been unable to publish this report sooner, owing to having so much work on my hands just now.

Yours faithfully, GLADYS M. SKRINE, Hon.Sec., F.P.W.W.P.

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

“The increase is of course due entirely to the greatly enhanced cost of labour and materials since the war commenced”

The County Council was affected by several war-related matters.

Report of Finance and General Purposes Committee, 30 April 1918

PRISONERS OF WAR

An application has been received from the Committee of the Rifle Brigade Prisoners of War Help Fund, asking if the Council would consent to regularly contribute to the Fund for the benefit of the men belonging to the County who are prisoners of war.

The Finance Committee make no recommendation.

Report of Highways and Bridges Committee to Finance and General Purposes Committee, 30 April 1918

TYLE MILL BRIDGE

At the request of the Road Board, the Committee have undertaken the work of strengthening Tyle Mill Bridge sufficiently to take the loads of timber from the Canadian Forestry Corps Camp at Ufton to Tyle Mill Siding. Skilled labour is being supplied by Messrs J K Cooper & Sons of Maidenhead, who are carrying out the work with the approval of the Road Board, payment to be made on a percentage basis. The Canadian Forestry Corps is providing the reminder of the labour and other facilities. The cost of the work will be refunded to the Council by the Road Board.

Report of Public Health and Housing Committee to F&GP, 30 April 1918

ABINGDON HOSPITAL

The Committee have had under consideration as scheme for the provision of additional accommodation at the Tuberculosis Hospital, Abingdon, which is urgently required, mainly for the treatment of discharged soldiers and sailors belonging to Berkshire….

It is pointed out that the cost of the scheme would be considerably in excess of the £150 per head which the Local Government Board fixed in pre-war times as the maximum to which their grant would then apply, but the increase is of course due entirely to the greatly enhanced cost of labour and materials since the war commenced.

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/21)

How long shall the ungodly triumph?

The Germans seemed to be triumphing, as prices continued to rise at home.

Florence Vansittart Neale
27 April 1918

Germans claim 6000 prisoners, mostly French. Other parts held. May have to evacuate Ypres! Oh! Lord how long! How long shall the ungodly triumph….

News better but Kemmel still in enemy hands.

William Hallam
27th April 1918

This afternoon cut up firewood and then painted our garden gate and clothes posts and spouting and coal hole door. Everything now is double the price- even paint.

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

“All possible economy must be effected”

The economic cost of the war affected every aspect of life at home.

The Church Accounts, 1917-1918.

Wargrave Vicarage,
April 20th, 1918.

My dear Friends,

We now have the pleasure of publishing the parochial accounts for the year ending at Easter, 1918.

The income for which they account to £623 as against £542 11s. 0d. the increase of subscriptions is partly due to the inclusion of all the Churchyard Accounts of which only part has been included in previous years, but this makes an addition of only £19 12s. 0d., and the remainder is due to increased support. The increased church collections is to some extent attributable to the addition of two Organ Recitals, £20 16s. 6d, but to the very generous response to special appeals, as in the case of the Red Cross, £36 5s. 0d, but the general level of weekly offertories has been distinctly higher and the result is most pleasing.

The increased income is balanced on the expenditure side by additions to salaries and the heavy cost of fuel.

Sir William Cain’s gifts are distributed so widely in the parish that his liberality is known to all and everyone in Wargrave has reason to be grateful for them, they have for instance made the V.A.D. Hospital possible, on its present scale…

A copy of the statement of accounts is to be sent to every subscriber, but no copies are to be included with the parish magazines as in former years, because all possible economy must be effected in printing and paper. The Schedule of Special Offertories will however be inserted in the magazine together with this letter.

I remain faithfully yours,

STEPHEN M. WINTER

Wargrave parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

It is hoped to hand the Lunatic Asylum over as a war hospital

Cost and staffing pressures affected the county Lunatic Asylum at Cholsey.

War Bonuses to the Attendants, Nurses and Artizan [sic] Staff have been increased in view of the existing conditions of the labour market.

Since the commencement of the war 37 male Attendants and other employees have joined the colours. Two of these have been awarded the Military Medal, 7 wounded, and 4 have been killed or have died….

The continued high prices ruling for provisions and all necessary articles has necessitated the raising of the maintenance charges from 11/8 to 12/3 per patient per week. The Committee fear that in view of the prevailing conditions, this figure may have to be revised at no distant date….

At the request of the Board of Control the Committee have agreed to receive, subject to certain conditions as regards the provision of the necessary extra Staff, to receive [sic] a number of patients from another Asylum. This step has been rendered necessary by the shortage of Hospital accommodation, which it is hoped to remedy by handing over the Asylum in question to the War Office for that purpose….

Annual report of Committee of Visitors of the Berkshire Lunatic Asylum, year ending 31 March 1918 (C/CL/C1/1/21)

This time of great national anxiety

It was another worrying Easter.

The services on Good Friday and Easter Sunday were well attended and it was satisfactory to notice that at this time of great national anxiety a larger number than usual came to meet our Risen Saviour in his Holy Communion, and pray for their loved ones at His service. In spite of the shortages and high prices many offerings of beautiful flowers were brought to the Church, which looked its best, thanks to the care and taster of those who so lovingly arranged them.

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, May 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/5)

A child is killed

William Hallam was shocked by rising prices, while Florence Vansittart Neale was distressed by the latest air raid.

William Hallam
16th February

Paid 5/ for my boots being soled and heeled – could have bought nearly a new pair for this before the war.

Florence Vansittart Neale
16 February 1918

Gave up golf…
Dover bombarded! 1 child killed. 2 women injured.

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

“Despite all the talk of brotherhood and solidarity, it is the hard bargaining of the Labour market to which the men will return from the trenches”

Socialist agitators were concerned that it would be back to the bad old days after the war.

“After The War” Problems: 1. – The Class Struggle

It is first of all essential in discussing “after-the-war” labour problems to realise that at bottom they are precisely the same as the old “pre-war” problems… Europe – whatever the colours of its map – will be, after the wat, the same old Europe that we have known all our lives; a Europe inhabited by a few capitalists and a multitudinous proletariat – a Europe of heaven knows how many nationalities, but only two classes…

While the control of industry is in the hands of a capitalist oligarchy, and of the State they control, while Labour is a commodity to be bought and sold, there cannot be, in any real sense, a new England.

Despite all the talk of brotherhood and solidarity, it is the hard bargaining of the Labour market to which the men will return from the trenches. They may have saved England: but their share of the salvage will be only their own labour power, by the sale of which they must gain their livelihood. They may have won political freedom for the world: but they will have to begin again to fight for economic freedom for themselves.

And they will not be able to take up the battle where they left in in the summer of 1914. The fight will be the same, but the conditions under which it is waged will have been modified considerably – and modified greatly to the disadvantage of Labour…

Prices may fall at the end of the war, but they will not fall to the old level, and it will need a stiff struggle to bring the general standard of wages into conformity with the new prices. Every indication points to an even harder battle over the restoration of the rules and privileges which were so lightly abandoned in the hot fit of patriotism. Promise of restoration were cheerfully made, and trustfully accepted; but it is a long way back to March, 1915, and the capitalist press is already busy explaining why and how restoration will be neither practicable nor desirable. So, to, with the rights sacrificed under the Munitions Acts, with the concessions with regard to dilution, with every sacrifice of freedom or status that Labour has made. The employers have, naturally enough, little wish to abandon their gains; they have realised, too, the possibilities of the exploitation of patriotism, and will not forget the experience. Already the cry is being raised that in trade war which is to come with peace, the whole energies of the nation will be demanded; that strikes will still be acts of treachery to the nation. All that has been preached with regard to munitions of war will be preached with regard to munitions of peace.

The Reading Worker: The Official Journal of Organised Labour in Reading and District, no. 13, January 1918 (D/EX1485/10/1/1)

‘We have tried our best to “carry on” under pre-war conditions’

The war had led to raging inflation. One victim was the publishing industry.

Our readers will scarcely be surprised to hear that with this number we are compelled to increase the charge for the magazine from one penny to three half-pence. Everyone knows that, owing to the war, the cost of materials has increased enormously, to say nothing of the cost of labour. This means that we cannot any longer publish the magazine at the old price without considerable loss. We have tried our best to “carry on” under pre-war conditions, but at last we are reluctantly compelled to follow the example of most other papers and periodicals. We feel sure our readers will believe that it is necessity alone which has led us to take this step, and we confidently appeal for a continuance of their loyal support.

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

“Now the beds are always kept full”

Many wounded soldiers were treated at Newbury District Hospital, with much help from local people.

The Thirty Third Annual Report of the Managing Committee of the Newbury District Hospital For the year ending December 31st, 1917.

The Past Year has been a very important one for the Hospital.

The figures, giving the number of Civilian Patients admitted, shew a decline compared to the previous year by 34, whilst there is an increase of 27 in the number of Soldiers admitted: this is due to the extra accommodation of 24 beds in the New Annexe constructed during the early spring.

There was a certain amount of delay before these beds were filled, and but for that fact, there would have been a very much larger increase in the number of Soldier Patients for the year.
The Benham Annexe was erected, at the very urgent request of the War Office, at a cost of £386. The Buildings, though similar to the previous one, cost rather more owing to the higher price of material and labour. It is situated on the West Side of the Main Buildings, and adjoins the Thurlow Ward.

Many very useful gifts have been received during the past year. The Local Branch of the British Red Cross Society have provided useful articles for the new ward, amounting to over £50, as well as defraying the cost of entertainments got up for the soldiers. Mr. Fairhurst and the late Mr. Vollar presented a large circulating electric fan for the Benham Ward. Mr. Porter, of Bartholomew Street, did the entire wiring gratuitously, and Miss Wasey gave the sun blinds, which were much needed.

Sir R. V. Sutton kindly lent all the beds, bedding and furniture for the same ward.

The Newbury War Hospital Supply Depot have again supplied a large quantity of bandages of various kinds, also swabs, shirts, and dressing gowns, all of which were much appreciated. Miss Wasey again came forward to organize Pound Day, which took place in June, and was most successful. Many Entertainments were got up by various ladies in the town and district, which were much enjoyed by the soldiers.

Special Donations towards the Benham Ward were received from Mrs. Caine, Sir. W. Walton, Mr. Fairhurst, and the Hon. Sec. Mr. Tufnail sent the proceeds of a week’s Cinema performance which amounted to £67 17s. 0d., and Mrs. C. Ward’s Garden Fete at Burghclere, realised £30 18s. 0d.

During August the War Office transferred the distribution of soldiers from Tidworth to Reading; this was done for the purpose of economising transport; the result has been quite satisfactory to the hospital, for now the beds are always kept full. Whilst the change was being carried out, we were able to close the Wards for a month for the purpose of painting and cleaning, which was thoroughly done.

The Berkshire Branch of the British Red Cross Society asked us to receive paralysed soldiers for special treatment in the hospital; this was willingly agreed to, and also the promise of two beds to be allotted for that purpose.

A very important service that the Hospital is doing just now, is the treatment of discharged soldiers sent to them by the Military War Pensions Committee, who have appointed Dr. Heywood as their Medical referee; these men come to the Hospital either as in-patients, or out-patients, for special treatment, and arrangements have been made that they come at fixed times on certain days for their treatment.

The Financial position of the Hospital is quite satisfactory; it has been well supported with liberal Subscriptions and Donations. The Hospital Saturday Fund amounted to £160; this is a record, and well to be proud of. The success of this fund is entirely due to the energetic Secretary, Mr. W. H. Paine, and his many willing workers. The League of Mercy kindly sent a grant of £15.
The Committee wish to thank, very heartily, all the Medical Staff, in Drs. Adams, Hemsted, Coplestone and Simmons, for all their useful work to the Hospital during a very strenuous year. The Committee’s thanks are due to Dr. Heywood, who returned from abroad in the autumn, and resumed his work at the Hospital; he has been appointed Medical Officer to the soldiers, thus releasing the other Medical Staff.

The thanks of the committee are offered to Mrs. Sharwood-Smith (Commandant), Miss. Cecile Boldero (Assistant-Commandant), Mrs. Adrian Hawker (Quartermaster), and the Ladies of Newbury Volunteer Aid Detachment for the great work that they are doing; to Miss Cecile Boldero, who has been a most consistent worker during the year, and has been a great help to the Staff; to Miss. Salway, who has given her services by providing special treatments to the soldiers; to Mr. Graham Robertson, for his useful help in the clerical work connected with the soldiers; and to Mr. Alleyne for kindly looking after the recreation room.

The best thanks are due to the Matron and her assistant Nurses during a very strenuous year, the increased number of soldiers naturally added very much to their work, and high praise is due to the efficient way in which they have performed their various duties. The difficulties in catering during the latter part of the year increased the work of the Matron considerably, who deserves praise and thanks of the Committee for her excellent management.

Newbury District Hospital Annual Report, 1917 (D/H4/4/1)

Determined not to give in until an end has been made of the menace of tyranny and despotism

The vicar of Earley continued to be exercised by the unpatriotic refusing to restrain their consumption of limited food and drink supplies.

The Vicar’s Letter

We can hardly realise that we have almost reached the end of another year; it seems but a few weeks to our last Advent, our last Christmas, yet how much has happened since. How the war drags on from week to week, month to month, and how, in spite of it all, it finds us as determined as ever not to give in until an end has been made of the menace of tyranny and despotism. There is no fear as to the final result, but we shall have need of all our self-control and self-denial during the next few months. And yet how many are absolutely refusing to exercise that self-control in matters of food and drink.

A short while ago a foreman of some railway works in the west of England told us that he had spoken to his men about the probability of the cost of beer being raised to a shilling a pint, and asked them what they meant to do. “We shall have it”, was the reply. Here lies the real danger for our country, far more than in the direct attacks of our enemies…

If we think as we ought of what the season means for us, we can at any rate spend a Happy Christmas, even if a Merry Christmas is out of the question.

Your friend and Vicar
W W Fowler.

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have [sic] been added to our prayer list: Harold Davies.

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

SICK OR WOUNDED: Harold Giles, Rupert Wigmore, Harry Hewett, Eric Fowler, Ernest Thompson, George Fulford, Harry Ayres.

KILLED: Arthur Buskin, Frank Buskin, Charles Smith.

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

A remarkable fact during the third year of war

The cause of Christian missions suffered from the war’s calls on the public’s generosity.

Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts:
Diocese of Oxford:
An Urgent Appeal

The Society is constrained by force of circumstance to ask this year for an increase of £35,000 over its income in 1916.

The need for the Appeal

In the Mission Field, as at home, money does not go so far as it did. This additional £35,000 is not required for any fresh developments but for the maintenance of existing work only.

To reduce the grants for 1918, without previous warning and in the face of remarkable self-sacrifice on the part of workers in all parts of the Mission field, would, humanly speaking, be disastrous. It would mean the with-drawal of Christian workers who are planting all over the world true civilisations grounded in the Christian Faith, and the closing of Mission Stations. It would mean undoing the work of years of devoted labour. It would probably mean that in the eyes of non-Christians the Gospel cause must be waning.

Such a step is unthinkable, and for 1918 the Society has pledged itself not to reduce its grants. It looks to its supporters to enable it to keep its pledge.

The amount required is small indeed compared with the immense sums that are being so generously and splendidly subscribed to War Funds. Let those who realise the extreme importance of the Missionary work of Church overseas see to it that the permanent work of the Church of God is not maimed in these years of stress, for the want of these few thousands.

The Missionaries are doing their part nobly. In one diocese, for instance, the Missionaries supported by the Society are setting a fine example by putting aside 5 percent of their small stipends to form an “Emergency Fund” in case the Society should be unable to keep its pledges.

Of the additional £35,000 to be raised, the share of this diocese (based on the last five years’ average contributions to the General Fund) is £1,433.


How is this Appeal to be Met?

The Oxford Diocesan S.P.G. Committee appeals at once for an additional sum of £500 for the General Fund towards this amount.

A resident in the diocese has offered to give £5 if 99 other gifts of £5 are contributed before the end of the year. It has been suggested in addition to personal gifts of £5 it may be possible for Rural Deaneries or parishes to contribute one or more sums of £5 over and above the contributions in 1916.

Apart from this “challenge” Ruri-decanal and parochial secretaries are earnestly requested to use every effort to obtain new subscribers; and all Incorporated Members, Members, and supporters of the Society are asked to increase, if possible, their contributions this year.

The Diocese of Oxford last year raised more money for the Society through parochial channels than ever before. That is surely a remarkable fact during the third year of war! It shoes that the tide of the missionary spirit is still rising and is of good omen for the present year. A little more and the worst strain will be over.

Contributions should be sent to Miss Porter, Ouseleys, Wargrave.


Wargrave parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

The war has brought in its train many economies over which we need waste no lamentations

The women and children of Burghfield were continuing to contribute to the war effort. The children’s collection of horse chestnuts was ready to send to be made into munitions, while the women sewed. But they were saddened that a local convalescent home had been forced to close due to the economic conditions.

Chestnuts
The centres for collection are the New Schools (Burghfield C of E) and Mrs Bland’s School. The whole will eventually be stored at the former School until sent for by the Director of Propellant Supplies, 32 Old Queen Street, London, SW1.

Holiday House
Not every village is fortunate enough to possess such an institute as Holiday House, though it is coming to be felt more and more that some such centre is needed in villages, where people may meet each other and relieve the monotony of the long dark winter evenings…

That Burghfield Common has such a place is entirely due to the generosity and public spirit of a lady who has the welfare of the Common very much at heart, Mrs Kirkwood. Founded in 1914, it has been the home and centre of varied activities: a band, Boy Scouts, dances, socials, entertainments, lectures, debates, are some of the chief, besides its nightly bill of fare of billiards, draughts, cards, etc. Not by any means the least of its activities have been the War-work Party started early in the war to make shirts and other necessary garments for the wounded, and also splints, bed trays and various other appliances. There is also a canteen, under the care of Mrs Bailey, who supplies refreshments and tobacco to all comers; but no alcoholic drinks are allowed on the premises.

St Catherine’s, Burghfield Common

The war has brought in its train many economies over which we need waste no lamentations. Other economies, however, cannot be passed over without a sigh. We allude, more particularly, to those which have lessened the power of people of moderate means to continue their contributions to charitable institutions…

It is therefore with peculiar regret that we have to record the closing of St Catherine’s. This Home was founded in 1913 by Miss Morison, and was offered by her to the Margaret Street Hospital for Consumption (Cavendish Square, W) for the benefit of girls and women in the early stages of tuberculosis….

From first to last no less than 130 patients have passed through the Home, and in the large majority of cases they have been discharged completely cured, or with the progress of the disease arrested. When we think of the wonderful air which those of the uplands of Burghfield are privileged to enjoy, it is not so very surprising to learn that the number of patients who got worse instead of better may be told on the fingers of one hand. It is a matter of grief to us all that Miss Morison has found it necessary to limit her beneficent work in the great crusade against what is so graphically called the “White Scourge” of these islands.

War Hospital Supplies
The Red Cross Working Party has re-commenced its meetings at the Rectory on Wednesday afternoons at 2.30. Mrs George will be glad to have some new members as the War Hospitals Supply Depot in Reading is urgently appealing for more comforts for our soldiers and sailors, ad we are anxious to send as much work as possible from Burghfield.

Burghfield parish magazine, November 1917 (D/EX725/4)

A salary increase for teachers

Teachers were well rewarded in war conditions.

2nd November 1917

The Head Teacher received increase of salary from October 22nd making £95 per annum plus War Bonus of £7/10/0.

Little Wittenham CE School log book (C/EL24, p. 96)