“They would be bitterly disappointed if they could see how few really care”

Enthusiasm was flagging among those who had committed to praying for the troops in Cookham Dean – but the village’s children cared about injured horses.

The Vicar’s Letter

Might I plead once more for more regular attendance at our ordinary Intercession Services? Why has the attendance dropped in numbers so seriously – especially on Wednesdays at 11? As far as possible I vary the Services so that they should not be the same – and I would urge those who began well and attended so regularly during the first months of the war to begin again. ‘Be not weary of doing well’, says St. Paul, who there enforces a lesson we all need to learn over and over again. The thoughts of so many on Active Service turn for comfort and support to the thought that at certain times, ‘Many are gathered together praying’ for them in the Church which at home they know best and love most; and I fear they would be bitterly disappointed if they could see how few really care to come with any regularity to the Services provided for them. Do think of this, and act upon it.

The Roll of Honour

The promotion of Pte. E. Blinko to be Corporal should have been notified some months ago. We should like to congratulate most heartily Capt. Vesci Batchelor M.G.C. (elder son of the Vicar of Cookham), who has recently been promoted Major, and 2nd Lieut. C. Edwards promoted Lieut.

Parish Registers

The children of the school have made a Collection on behalf of the Wounded Horses Fund, and have sent up £1 to the R.S.P.C.A. Society.


Cookham Dean parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P43B/28A/11)

Advertisements

“We earnestly pray that our friend may be kept from all harm in the difficult and dangerous work in which he is engaged”

A former member of Broad Street Congregational Church had been reported killed, but there was better news from local hero Victor Smith.

We extend our sympathy, too, to the relatives of the late Sergeant A Middlemost, of the South African Contingent. Before emigrating to South Africa, Sergeant Middlemost was an active member of the Young Men’s Institute. In the early days of the war he joined up with the South African forces, and he has now paid the supreme sacrifice for his country. Those who knew him will ever cherish his memory with affection.

The many friends of Captain L. Victor Smith, MC, have been greatly pleased to hear of his recent promotion, and they would unite in heartiest congratulations to him and his parents – our esteemed friends Mr and Mrs Chas Steward Smith – and in good wishes for the future. Captain Smith is the first of our Broad Street representatives to win his captaincy in the present war, and he has done it in a remarkably short time. It is not long since we were rejoicing in the MC which he had won for conspicuous bravery, and now comes this further cause for gratification. We earnestly pray that our friend may be kept from all harm in the difficult and dangerous work in which he is engaged.

The way in which our schoolrooms are crowded each afternoon by wounded soldiers, and each evening by other men and women in khaki, gives ample proof of the need for such work as is now being efficiently done by the church. I [the minister] should like to thank the many ladies and gentlemen who have so readily come to our assistance in this matter. They need no assurance from me that it is abundantly worth while.

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

Just one of the best men

A Caversham-born architect who rose from the ranks to a commission was killed. Haslam’s legacy includes St Andrew’s Church in Caversham, while his father’s family firm is still going strong.

Parish Church (S. Peter’s)
Personal Notes

Lieut. James Haslam, London Regiment, killed on October 30th, was a prominent Thames rowing man. Born in 1880, he was the third son of Mr. Dryland Haslam, of Warren House, Caversham, and was educated at Bradfield College. Soon after leaving school he joined the Artists’ Rifles, and also volunteered for the South African War, in which he served for two-and-a-half years, with Paget’s Horse, and received the Queen’s and King’s medals.

After his return he began business as an architect and surveyor at Reading. In 1904 he was appointed secretary to the Reading Chamber of Commerce, and held the appointment up to his death. He rejoined the ranks of the London Regiment directly war broke out, and went to France on October 26th, 1914. He had been promoted to Company Sergeant–Major before taking up a commission, and had been at the front almost continuously. He was slightly wounded early in the present year.

A brother Officer wrote: –

“His loss is a great blow to the battalion. He was noted for his kindness to all, both before and after he took his commission, Lieut. Haslam was just one of the best men, and we always had great admiration for him.”

Lieut. Haslam rowed for Reading R.C. for several years, and stroked the four for the Wyfold Cup at Henley Regatta for three years, in addition to winning prizes at many other regattas,. He was captain and hon. Secretary of the Reading R.C. for some time and a prominent official of the Reading Amateur Regatta. He played hockey for the Berkshire Gentleman and Football for the Reading Amateurs and other clubs. He was captain of the Church Lads’ Brigade at Caversham. He leaves a widow.

(from the “Times.”)

Caversham parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P162/28A/7)

One more name must be added to the roll of immortal honour on which is recorded the names of men who loved peace, but who loved righteousness and truth better

A reluctant but determined soldier, son of a Congregational minister, paid the ultimate price.

After many months of anxious waiting, definite news has come of the death in action, on November 13th, 1916, at Beaumont Hamel, of Mr. Philip G Steer, and so one more name must be added to the roll of immortal honour on which is recorded the names of men who loved peace, but who loved righteousness and truth better. Phil Steer was a son of a manse, and all who knew him looked forward to a great future for him. Combined with a charming manner, he had great qualities of mind. After leaving school he took his B.A. degree, and before he was 21 he was already in the responsible position of assistant master in a public school. The writer well remembers his 21st birthday, for it occurred during our second Trinity Young Peoples Camp in the Isle of Wight, and it was during that delightful fortnight’s companionship that some of us learned the qualities of our friend.

He joined up immediately war broke out, and went through hard fighting in France. When he was promoted on the field for gallantry. He was badly wounded, but recovered quickly and was soon back in France again. Now he has gone, and to those of us who still hoped against hope that he might be a prisoner, the news of his death has come as a great sorrow, and our special sympathy and affection go out to his family in the terrible loss which has come to them. So the great War takes its heavy toll of our best, and we owe it to them who have willingly laid down their lives for a great cause that we carry on their fight till our enemies confess that might is not right, and a true and lasting peace can be achieved.

Trinity Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

Double recognition of a soldier’s gallantry

A Mortimer man killed on the Somme was honoured.

The Military Medal has been awarded to Sydney Eatwell, who was killed 1st July, 1916, on the Somme. His friends have also only recently been informed that he had been promoted to be Sergeant. We congratulate his parents heartily on this double recognition of their son’s gallantry.

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

Carrying on under exceptional circumstances

A Slough soldier came to visit his old school while home on leave.

July 30th 1917

Lieutenant Henry Chilverd R.F.A came to the school today. He was promoted to Sec[ond] Lieutenant in the regular army eighteen months ago for ‘carrying on’ with his battery under exceptional circumstances.

He had been in the army before the war and also served in the North West – Canada. His younger brother was the first of our old boys to be killed in this war.

Stoke Road School, Slough: log book (89/SCH/28/1, p. 399)

“No better discipline or anything of that sort, I hope”

Percy Spencer wrote to Florence asking for some
Lysol petroleum jelly, an antiseptic. He had recently attended a dinner with old comrades, which had both tragic and comic elements.

May 3, 1917
My dear WF

This is just a few scrambled lines, mostly to ask for things.

I should very much like a tube of Lysall [Lysol] petroleum jelly, or a small bottle of Lysall and some phospherine tablets.

Also some ink to fit my box.

If I have any merino underwear or any shirts, I should like them please!

I’m sorry I can’t think of anything more to ask just now!

Well, I saw the Big Brass Hat yesterday and he said “H’m yes” 3 times, so I expect I’m in for something pretty bad – probably a month’s training in the trenches – or “something worth boiling out in it”.

We had a first rate dinner the night before last – the surviving officers & sergeants of my old Battalion, numbered just 18, 15 of whom were present. It was a right good evening, tho’ it had its tragic side.

By the way I am the only original member of the staff left: also I am the only remaining Staff Clerk in the Division who came out with us. The only original Quartermaster in the Division (of my old Battalion) was at the dinner. In fact so many of us were the only remaining something or other, we felt quite lonely.

Well, dear girl, I’m sending you the souvenir of that event. “Pat” enlisted as a private tho’ in private life he is Paterson of the Home Office – head of the Prisons of England – a fine man with a grand head. Dear old RSM Fisler’s speech was too funny. Private Pat, Corporal Pat, Sergeant Pat & 2nd Lt Pat of No. 4 Platoon was the well beloved of this Battalion of rough lads, and the fine old RSM ran himself high & dry on the rock of affection for the battalion idol: “that’s about all I’ve got to say, I think, sir”, he concluded lamely after a long pause.

The Sergeant Cook was pressed to sing – everyone knew he wanted to sing, and what he wanted to sing, and what he would sing – still he announced as he reluctantly rose to his feet, it would be a sad song. Nobody said, “We know; it’s going to be “Speak not ‘er nime”, tho’ everyone knew that “Speak not ‘er nime” it would be notwithstanding the cheering effect of a [bumper?] of port & Kummel shandy the worthy fellow had mixed for himself under the impression the harmless looking liquor was a sort of Perrier.

And so the evening passed. We talked of the St Albans days & the early days out here, of this good fellow and that, of a stout hearted Sergeant who wouldn’t be put off his game by enemy shelling before the battle of Loos – “What’s that?” exclaimed a jumpy platoon sergeant as a crump landed near. “Spades trumps” replied the other, and as the next one landed even nearer, “Clubs laid, your turn to play.”

But always we got back to Pat – to the early days out here, when as a Lance Corporal he “borrowed” the transport officer’s mount and a local landau & drove his “boys” out, only to run into the Divisional General. Of the Divisional General’s wrath & enquiry as to disciplinary action taken, & the CO’s reply – “This NCO has been promoted to Corporal”.

And I reminded him of the day when talking to the RSM he passed by en route for the guard room, there to comfort one of his platoon with all the food & illegal things he could buy.

Oh, the discipline of No 4 was awful, but they’d follow Pat anywhere.
Pat had to go away for a long time – upon returning he asked how things were with No. 4. “Oh, they’ve gone downhill fast, sir, since you left”. “No better discipline or anything of that sort, I hope”, Pat enquired anxiously. “Oh no” replied his informant in a horrified tone.

And now this same Pat is our Divisional Lecturer on “Discipline”.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/6/33-35)

The army continues to make its demands upon our young men

Maidenhead Congregational Church had news of its young men serving their country.

OUR SOLDIER LADS.

The army continues to make its demands upon our young men. George Ayres has joined the ranks of the London Electrical Engineers, and his friend Harry Baldwin is on the point of assuming khaki. P.S. Eastman sailed for the East on February 13th, and was delighted to discover Arthur Ada upon the same boat. Robert Bolton is in the R. M. Light Infantry. Arthur Rolfe has been promoted to corporal. Alfred Vardy has been moved to Southampton. Ernest Bristow went over to France at the end of January. Cecil Meade has arrived at Salonika.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, March 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Hasten the end of the war with your savings

Newbury churchgoers were encouraged to put their savings in the hands of the government.

The Government is very wisely urging all who can to assist the country in its need by foregoing luxuries of all kinds, and by investing in the War Savings Certificates. To quote from one of their leaflets – “War Savings Certificates cost 15/6 each, and £1 will be paid for each Certificate five years after the date of issue… It will be easily seen what a good investment this is, but still more important it is to remember that all money lent to the Government will help to save the lives of our men by providing our Armies with ammunitions, and so will hasten the end of the war.

The Parish Rooms have been commandeered by the military for the ASC; consequently we have had to turn out, and shall have to conduct our meetings, etc, as best we can.

Our best congratulations to Sec. Lieut. Richard Wickens, one of our old boys, who has been given his Lieutenancy for his excellent services at the front. This promotion does him very great credit.

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

Dangerously ill

Some Winkfield soldiers were ill, while other men from the parish had distinguished themselves.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING.

We regret to hear that Pte. William Burt is ill in hospital in France, and wish him a speedy recovery.

Pte. Bernard Grantham has been very dangerously ill with pneumonia; we rejoice to hear that he is now much better, and we hope out of danger.

We heartily congratulate Lieut. Cecil Ferard on the honour of being mentioned in despatches, and Flight-Lieut. F.H.M. Maynard on his promotion to Flight Commander, R.N.

Winkfield section of Winkfield district magazine, January 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/1)

The more we feel that a cloud of sorrow is upon our land the more grateful should we be for the message of Christmas

Maidenhead Congregational Church thought the country needed to celebrate Christmas differently under war conditions.

We are approaching our third War-Christmas, and the duty of rightly celebrating the season of “Peace and Goodwill” is becoming heavier. Probably few of us will find much difficulty in heeding the call to cut down the usual expenditure in Christmas fare. At the best of times it has seemed to cool observers a strange way of celebrating the coming of the Son of God to earth, to indulge in an orgy of eating and drinking. But the custom seems to have the sanction of the centuries. Long before the Conquest those in authority took pains at this season of the year to lead the fashion in gluttonous eating and drinking. Even in more stately Plantagenet times Christmas extravagance was recognised as the correct thing. At the opening of the Hundred Years’ War, when Edward III put his foot down on all kinds of luxurious expenditure, he made an exception of the principal Church feasts, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And Dickens stirred us up in this matter in fine style, until we almost came to regard gorging at Christmas as a sacred duty.

But this year at least, we must modify our ideas in these matters. Food is not abundant, and it is dear, and if we are not careful now, there may not be enough to go round presently. Nevertheless, there ought to be no diminution of Christmas joy. The more we feel that a cloud of sorrow is upon our land the more grateful should we be for the message of a King of righteousness and peace. Our laughter may be checked, but for gratitude and joy there is perhaps more reason than usual. For God has given us a great part to play in the cause of National Righteousness, and the work we are doing and the sorrows we are bearing will result in a new era for humanity.

And though in many a household we shall miss our sons and brothers and husbands, our hearts will swell with a new pride in them. The noblest manhood in them has come out, they are inside the secret of life, we thrill to recognise that they are capable of heroisms. They have no fighting instincts to gratify. They have nothing of the born-soldier in them. They have freely gone into this thing out of devotion to a high cause, in the spirit of pure sacrifice, against the natural grain. Therefore they, and the families to which they belong, and the Church to which they are attached, and the town from which they set out, and the nation of which they are a part, shall be of nobler life and purer vision for their act of sacrifice. May the blessing of heaven be upon them everyone!”

FOR OUR SOLDIERS.

The small Committee appointed to send greetings and gifts at Christmastide to our soldiers has got the matter well in hand. The parcels to Salonika and Egypt are already on their way, those to France will shortly be posted. To those who are still in training in this country, as well as to those abroad, a letter from the Church will be sent, in which we say, among other things,

“We are sure that your faith in God will help you to be good soldiers of the British Army. You will not be behind any of your comrades in pluck and purity, in high ideals and self-control, in heroism and devotion. We speak to our absent boys and pray for them constantly. We want you to know how much we are with you, how deeply we feel you are representing us and fighting for us, and we hope to do our part at home, to maintain a high standard of Church life until you come back again. The Church does not seem the same without its young men. At every point we miss you.”

THE LATEST INFORMATION.

Reginald Hill has been gassed, and is in Hospital. Percy Pigg is back at Aldershot for a time. Cecil Mead is on the point of leaving for Salonika. Percy Lewis has been home for a fortnight’s leave. Hugh Lewis has been transferred to the 1/4 London R.E., and is in France. Sidney Eastman is stationed for the present at Chingford, and Mrs. Eastman has taken apartments for awhile in that neighbourhood. Benjamin Gibbons has been promoted Lance-Corporal.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, December 1916 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Some cease to contribute to Belgian relief

Members of Maidenhead Congregational Church continued to support their Belgian families, but in slightly fewer numbers.

BELGIAN RELIEF FUND.

The Secretary of the above fund desires to report that sufficient money will be forthcoming in the present system, if subscriptions are maintained, to allow our guests rent, gas, and a limited supply of coal, thereby leaving them the wages received from employment at Wycombe (a nett amount of 27/- per week) for food and clothing.

In spite of rumours to the contrary, it will be necessary to continue subscriptions at any rate during the winter months, and, on the present much reduced basis, the emergency fund will have to be used to some extent to make up the amounts of subscribers who, for one cause and another, have ceased to contribute.

The Treasurer will be glad to have the arrears, which, in a few cases, have been allowed to accumulate, and will be pleased to forward a statement of amounts owing on application.

OUR MILITARY.

We offer hearty congratulations to Mr. Cyril Hews upon his promotion to 2nd Lieut. He has been in the Army from the outbreak of the war, and has done a lot of hard work in this country and in France.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, November 1916 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Back in the trenches again

More and more Winkfield men had headed to the Front.

Gunner Daniel Taylor has been wounded in the foot, and Pte. Edward Holloway in the shoulder; both are doing well.

We regret to learn that Pte. A.E. Burt, who was convalescent from a serious illness, has had a relapse, and is again in hospital. We sincerely hope that his relatives will soon have better news of him.

Pte. Edward Still having served his time in the Coldstream Guards, has rejoined the Colours and is now with the 14th Devons at the Front.

Pte. George Holloway has also just gone to the front.

Pte. Cecil Jenden recently wrote to the vicar that he has quite recovered from his wound, and is now back in the trenches again.

We were very glad to see Pte. George Benstead again in his place in the Choir for two Sundays; though lame from his wound he is able to get about, and we trust will soon be completely recovered.

We congratulate Lance-Corporal Edward Thurmer and Lance Corporal Brant on gaining their stripe.

The following men from our Parish have just joined His Majesty’s Forces:-

Pte. Albert Brown, A.S.C. Mechanical Transport.
Pte. George Clayton, 3rd Royal Berks.
Pte. A. E. Gardner, 4th Northants.
Pte. George Franklin, 10th Sussex Regt.
Pte. William Harwood, 3rd Royal Berks.
Pte. James Summer, R.F.A.

We hope this Christmas to be able again to send small Christmas presents to the men from our parish now serving, but as their numbers this year are so great we shall need more generous help than ever to enable us to send even a very small token of remembrance to each. Mrs. Maynard is arranging to have a small rummage sale in the Parish Room at the end of November to help raise some of the necessary funds, and she would welcome any articles for this sale.

She would also be glad to receive as soon as possible from their relatives the full addresses of any men serving in Mesopotamia or Egypt, for their gifts ought to be dispatched by the middle of November.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, November 1916 (D/P151/28A/11)

The first great military award gained by a Winkfield man

A number of Winkfield men had been wounded or were unwell.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING

We regret to learn that Pte. Jack Dean has been wounded with a bullet wound through the left leg. He is in hospital in England and writes cheerfully, so we hope he is doing well.

Pte. George Benstead has been moved from the hospital in France to England. He writes to the Vicar that he is so much better that he hopes shortly to be home and able once more, for a time, to take his place in the choir again.

Pte. Fred Holmes, Pte. W. Franklin, and Pte. C. Jenden have also been wounded; they have been in England some time and are now convalescent.

Pte. C.E. Burt has been seriously ill with rheumatic fever, but is better, and we trust now out of danger.

Pte. Fred Blay joined the Army Service Corps last month and Fred Knight joined H.M.S. Impregnable.

Corporal Reginald Nickless and Privates Leonard Cox and George Faithful, having recovered from wounds or sickness have returned to the front, also Private Norman Nickless has gone out, and we trust all will find a place in our prayers.

Most of us have heard with great pleasure and satisfaction that the Military Medal (and promotion to Lance-Corporal) was won by Edwin Gray for gallantry on July 1st at Deville Wood. This good news ought to have appeared in the August Magazine, but though now belated it is fitting that a record be made in the Parish Magazine of what is, we believe, the first great military award gained by a Winkfield man, and we heartily congratulate Lance-Corporal Edwin Gray and his relatives on this distinction.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, October 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/10)

“They have given their best for their country”

Two Cookham Dean men had died of their wounds.

Roll of Honour

It is almost impossible to keep pace with the additions and constant alterations in our list. Lieut. J. del Riego has been promoted Captain and, alas, George Higgs and Reginald Foster have died of wounds, the former at Salonika and the latter in France. Each bore an excellent record and have given their best for their Country. A Memorial Service for both was held in Church on Sunday evening, October 22nd. May they rest in peace.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P43B/28A/11)