“They drinked and drinked till they had drinked it all up”

Now the war was over, William Hallam was hoping to retire back to his birthplace in the Vale of White Horse. On a reconnaissance trip he saw German PoWs hard at work.

22nd April 1919

Up at 7 this morning and went to Uffington by the 20 past 9 train. I walked up to Fernham. Looked over the churchyard and the church (modern) was locked. Just under churchyard a piece of ground occupied by the ruins of 2 old wattle & daub cottages which would do to build a new house on, I thought, if it could be bought cheap. Here an old man who was chopping the hedge tidy told me it was a sharp frost this morning, and if we had many more like it, it would do a lot of harm to the fruit.

I went on to Longcot and when I got there went into Pub to have a drink but the hostess said they hadn’t a drop of anything, she said you know Sir we had a wedding yesterday and they kept it up, yes, and they drinked and drinked till they had drinked it all up.”

I enquired of her where the houses were which were for sale and then went and looked at them. One was too big and another too small (one room down 2 up), another property was a block of 3 cottages – but I don’t want neighbours when I get into the country. I’ve had enough of their borrowing and gossiping ways here in Swindon. This property had high sounding names for instance the little cottage was Priory Glen, the 3 cottages Priory Place and the largest house the Priory, but all this is misnamed for I don’t believe a religious house or property ever existed there. However none of it will suit me.

I then went and looked round the Churchyard. I quizzed some of the stones – must go and copy them down. At the SW corner of the C.yard is a little house or room where they hold the Church… over the door is date 1821 & initial. Then I walked on to Shrivenham.

In a garden at Longcot I was 2 German prisoners at work planting potatoes- working very leisurely and smoking cigarettes. As I had plenty of time before getting to the station I went into Church & churchyard. Sat down in a pew and rested……..”

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Let us pray that peace may be arranged on such terms as shall make war impossible in future

The minister at Broad Street Chapel had a sober view of the end of the war.

MINISTER’S JOTTINGS

The great event of the past month has been the signing of the Armistice and the consequent cessation of hostilities. Monday, November 11th, will long be remembered as the day on which the war cloud lifted, and people began to breathe freely again. It was a day for which we had long prayed, and it brought relief to many a troubled heart. Our petitions were suddenly changed into great and glad thanksgivings.

There was great rejoicing in the streets – especially in Broad Street – and people gave themselves up to the excitement of the moment. But after four long years of repression, it was perhaps only natural that pent up feeling should find a vent in this way, and we may congratulate ourselves upon the fact that things were not carried to greater lengths than they were. The shorter hours for the opening of public houses proved a great blessing.

Many felt, however, that it was a time for thanksgiving to Almighty God rather than empty merry-making; and they flocked to the various churches in which Thanksgiving Services were hastily arranged. At Broad Street we held a special service of this kind on Thursday evening, November 14th, and in spite of the difficulty of making it known, it was largely attended. We were drawn together by a common desire to pour out our hearts in praise and thanksgiving.

With the coming of peace we shall have to face grave new problems, both in the national life and in our church life. Let us earnestly pray for Divine wisdom and strength, so that we may be able to tackle them with brave hearts and undaunted spirits. Let us also pray that peace may be arranged on such terms as shall make war impossible in future.

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

Oh! what a blessing when families can be together in this dreadful time of strife & separation

Beer was in very short supply.

William Hallam
9th June 1918

Much colder to-day and heavy storms which were wanted badly but a N. wind with it. Didn’t go out all day except at 1 with Geo. to the Frome to have a drink. He says the first comfortable drink in a pub he’s had for months, for in Coventry if a pub has beer in it’s a fight for it.

Joan Daniels
June 9th Sunday

[After description of pleasant family day]

Oh! what a blessing when families can be together in this dreadful time of strife & separation.

Diaries of William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25); and Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1)

Knitting for the troops

By December the schoolchildren of Thatcham (at least, the girls) were busy knitting warm clothing for the troops as winter approached, as the parish magazine reports:

The National School Children’s Work for Soldiers
The children’s hands have been very busy making useful articles for our soldiers at the front, under the direction of their teachers, during their spare time. Socks and belts have been knitted by Edith Absolom, May Arnold, Beatrice Aldridge, Bessie Broughton, Nellie Browning, Edith Goodman, Elizabeth Herbert, Jeannie Hacker, May Lyford, Emily Schubert; and scarves by Hilda Hazell and Alice Maynard. Mrs Turner, of the “Crown,” kindly gave wool for one pair of socks, and the rest of the materials was most kindly provided by Mrs Glastonbury, Head Mistress, Miss Reynolds, and Miss Boulter, her assistants. The parcel containing a number of these articles was recently forwarded to the Lady-in-waiting to the Queen, and the following letter of thanks was received in reply:-

Devonshire House, Piccadilly.

“The Lady-in-waiting is commanded by the Queen to thank the teachers and children of the Thatcham School most heartily for their very kind gift of comforts for the use of the troops at the front. Her Majesty highly appreciates this contribution.”

We may be quite sure that the soldiers’ need of such useful articles as these will be very great during the coming winter months, and that they will be extremely grateful to all kind workers who give their skill, their time, and materials to provide them. Moreover, we must not wait until the want of them is seriously felt, for then it will be too late to set about providing them.

Thatcham parish magazine, December 1914 (D/P130/28A/1)