Great decorations and interest in American President

President Woodrow Wilson’s visit to France and London was the first official trip to Europe by a US President.

26 December 1918

Temperature still keeping down. Breathing bad. Saw her very little that day. So exhausted.

Took Henry to Paddington to spend night at Bisham. Went 11.20, then saw A & E & back for lunch.

President Wilson arriving – great decorations & interest. Well received. K & Q there too.

Only saw her one moment. Ag here to dine & keep me company.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

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Queen Mary’s noble example has helped us be brave

Hurst WI rejoiced at the end of the war.

To Her Most Gracious Majesty Quueen Mary from the Women’s Institute of Hurst, Berks, membership 95.

We the members of the Hurst Women’s Institute being deeply sensible of your Majesty’s sympathy with our services & trials in the last few years beg that you will accept our humble congratulations in the termination of the war. We know that whatever have been our sufferings & deprivations that they have been equally shared by our Queen, & this knowledge has enabled many of us to be brave. Now that a calm joy fills our hearts we are anxious to share this also with your Majesty whose noble example has uplifted us all & whose personal sympathy has done so much to rivet the people’s affections ever more firmly to your Majesties.

Signed
Alice Martin
President

Wed Dec 4, 1918

Draft address to Queen Mary from Hurst WI (D/EX1925/33/5/2/1)

Congratulations on the termination of this terrible war

The war was over, but the wounded still needed to be treated.

12 November 1918

Inmates from Hungerford Union.

Read letter from the Clerk to Hungerford Union saying that the Military Authorities were possibly taking over that Institution for a Hospital. Resolved that the Clerk be instructed to reply that this Board are prepared to receive about 50 of the Hungerford inmates on similar terms they receive the inmates from Reading.



The Armistice

Resolved on the motion of the Chairman recorded by the Vice Chairman that we the Guardians of the Newbury Union desire to offer you to you our King and to our Queen most heartfelt congratulations on the termination of this terrible war and trust that now you will leave rest from your long labours of devotion and love to your subjects. All thanks to Almighty God for His mercies.

The Clerk was instructed to forward the resolution to His Majesty.

Newbury Board of Guardians minutes (G/N1/39, pp. 108-109)

A Silver Wedding present

The Royal Family requested any fans should send gifts to the troops in honour of the King and Queen’s Silver Wedding.

Mrs. Crailsham collected 14/3 at the Brownlow Hall sewing party, for the King and the Queen’s Silver Wedding present for providing comforts for the troops.

Warfield section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, August 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/7)

A permanent memorial of the war

A soldier serving in Palestine sent a gift to the school his children attended.

7th May 1918

One of the nicest and certainly the most valued and unique present received in the name of the school was sent to us from Palestine a week or so ago. It is a wooden bound book containing dried and pressed flowers from the Holy Land. The sender is First Class Warrant Officer Ernest Baker and the book bears the title of blumen aus dem heiligen land [flowers from the Holy Land, in German] being posted on 4. 4. 18. The sender is now on active service in the Holy Land, his children attend our school but he is a perfect stranger never having seen Warfield. The book will be carefully placed in the museum cupboard to be a permanent memorial of the war.

Today I read and explained the royal letter of congratulation from the King and Queen. It is now framed and hung to be read by scholars of future years. On April 30 we had 124 members on our war savings association and we have purchased 386 certificates.

Warfield CE School log book (C/EL26/3, p. 395)

The Nation can be proud of its young sons and daughters

The Royal Family was impressed by the commitment shown by Berkshire children and their teachers to supporting the war.

The following copy letter received by the President of the Board of Education from the King’s Private Secretary has been forwarded to this Committee, and they have directed a copy to be sent to each Head Teacher of the schools in the county:

Windsor Castle

It has given the King and Queen much pleasure to visit recently Schools of various types, and thus gain an insight into the daily life of the rising generation at work and at play.

Their Majesties are aware of the magnificent response which the Educational Service throughout the County has made to the demands of the present time, not only in its contribution to the Fighting Forces, but also in the assistance which it has rendered in many kinds of important War Work.

Above all, they wish to express their admiration of the self-denial and devotion of the Teachers, who it is evident, while training the mind and body of their pupils, recognise the importance of the formation of character.

These visits have brought home to the King and Queen the keenness and patriotism of the Youth of the Country.

They realise the unselfish and hearty manner in which boys and girls, inspired by the example of their Teachers, have formed War Savings Associations; subscribed money for charitable purposes; and, by their handiwork, contributed to the personal needs and comforts of the Troops.

Their Majesties feel that the Nation can be proud of its young sons and daughters, whose example during this great War augurs well for the future of our race.

I am commanded to request you to convey to the School Authorities and Teachers the hearty congratulations of the King and Queen upon the admirable manner in which the Public Service of Education is being maintained, the progress of which Their Majesties will ever watch with interest and sympathy.

Believe me
Yours very truly
Stamfordham

Report of Berkshire Education Committee, 27 April 1918 (C/CL/C1/1/21)

Pray for victory in the great struggle in the west

Reading people continued to support the war effort in various ways.

The Vicar’s Notes

Reading did well during its “Monitor” Week; we were asked to raise £250,000 and we actually raised over £376,000; so that we can well imagine the pleasure with which our Mayor was able to tell His Majesty the King of the real success gained largely through the efforts of the Reading Chamber of Commerce, and of Miss Darker and her workers at 6 Broad Street. We should also like to take this opportunity of congratulating all those connected with S. Mary’s Parish who had the honour of being presented to the King and Queen.

Thanksgiving

For the happy visit of our King and Queen to Reading.

Intercessions

For all our fighting men, especially among the wounded, Charles Gould, one of our Choirmen.

For victory in the great struggle in the west.

For the fallen.
R.I.P.

Mission to Seamen

Help is urgently needed. Subscriptions or donations, however small, will be most gratefully received, or any information as to other ways of helping will be gladly given by the Hon. Secs. For Reading: Miss Fanny Bird, Ivy Bank, Downshire square; Mrs Laing, 80 Crescent Road.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, April 1918 (D/P98/28A/13)

Flag waving children greet the Royal Family

Reading children were excited to witness a royal visit.

George Palmer Boys’ School
12th March 1918

Visit to Reading of H.M. King George & H.M. Queen Mary. Assembled school at 9.30 and marched along Elgar Rd, Field Road, Carey St. & Howard St to Oxford Road, lining the street between the premises of Messrs Callas, Sons & May Ltd, and Messrs Dunlops Ltd. The royal party was seen on its way to No.1 War Hospital & on its return. Flags were kindly lent to the boys by Mr Drew, proprietor R.F.S.C.

St Giles Boys’ School, Reading
12th March 1918

Boys were allowed to go to Jackson’s Corner to see HM the King and his Queen. They returned to school.

Battle Infants School
15th March 1918

The Head Mistress was not in school till 1.50 o’clock on Tuesday [12 March] as permission was granted to witness the ceremony of the reception of representative inhabitants and war workers of the town, by their Majesties, the King and Queen, in the Town Hall.

Redlands Boys’ School, Reading
March 12th 1918
The School marched to Broad Street marching at 1.55, in order to see the King and Queen passing the factory. At 3.30 the Scholars returned and were dismissed when close to the School.

Alfred Sutton Primary School, Reading
12th March 1918

The Infants’ school is very small on account of the King’s visit, the Junior pupils are being taken by the teachers to see the procession.

Sonning CE Girls and Infants
12th March 1918

School closed for children to see the King in Reading.

Lower Sandhurst School
March 12th 1918

I was absent from school during the latter part of the afternoon as I was attending a War Savings Conference at Wellington.

Log books of George Palmer Boys’ School (89/SCH/8/1, p. 149); Reading St Giles Boys School (R/ES2/9, p. 259); Reading: Battle Infants School (SCH20/8/2, p. 312); Redlands Boys’ School, Reading (86/SCH/3/30, p. 335)Alfred Sutton Primary School log book (89/SCH/37/1, p. 246); Sonning CE Girls and Infants’ School (89/SCH/1/4, p. 284); Lower Sandhurst School (C/EL66/1, p. 429)

The Royal Family visits Reading

George V and Queen Mary visited Huntley & Palmers’ factory in Reading, causing great excitement – as did a plane crash further west.

Reading
12th February 1918

Owing to the visit of the King & Queen to Reading, the attendance today has been very small indeed – number present this morning 108, this afternoon 73.

Thatcham
February 12th 1918

Several boys stayed away from school this morning to see an aeroplane which had come down.

Log books of Christ Church CE Infants School, Reading (89/SCH/7/6, p. 190); and Francis Baily Primary School, Thatcham (90/SCH/15/1, p. 45)

Dead meat

The Caversham clergyman who had signed up as an army chaplain was sent to a hospital. He sent back this very graphic account of one patient’s appalling wounds – a trigger warning may be in order before you scroll down.

S. Andrew’s
Things seen in a hospital

I am glad they have made a Hospital Chaplain if only because it brings one into contact with such an amount of heroism, patience, and persevering industry. It is greater than anything I had ever dared to believe existed in this England of ours.

I was asked this morning to help with a dressing; a man had been badly smashed; there were other wounds as well; one in particular in the hip that was bad, but it was the arm that chiefly mattered. I say an arm but it looked to me almost like a piece of dead meat; for a moment I thought the hand had been amputated, but then I saw there were fingers, or what had once been fingers. I was asked to support the wrist and the elbow, and more skilful hands than mine directed me where I was to hold; there was nothing which gave any indication to me as to the position of the wrist and elbow. And then they began to examine, and I will try to remember wounds; there was one I know in the palm of the hand, but that could not be dressed then, time and the patient’s strength did not permit; there was one somewhere above the wrist; there was a gaping one where the elbow joint had been excised; there was another a little above that, and there was one on the back of the shoulder that was very difficult to reach.

He had only just come in to our Hospital though he had been four months wounded, and one tried to picture what that arm had been like at the beginning of the treatment which had gone on for those four months in that French Hospital. The wounds had not been dressed during the thirty-six hour s that he had been traveling, and they were dirty and very painful. The sister had not yet learnt how to handle him deftly nor the exact position of all the wounds, and in moving the arm and getting off the dressings she could not help causing him exquisite torture which he shewed by screwing up his face, but he never uttered a cry.

Meanwhile, partly to distract his attention from what was being done to him I asked him to tell me his story and he told me of all the long months during which the doctor in France had worked on his arm. The elbow had been excised as far back as May 1st; then there had come a time when the doctor had given up hope and decided to take the arm off, but it so chanced that the day on which it was to come off was the day that the King and Queen had chosen to visit the Hospital and there were no operations; then the next day there was a slight improvement and the doctor determined to try a little longer and the arm was saved. And now the order had gone out to empty all French hospitals to make room for fresh wounded and the doctor had sent his patient home to Blighty, just pinning on his army papers a brief note, “let us know how he goes on.” That was his reward for all the self-sacrificing work, just to know that it had not all been in vain.

And while the man was telling the story the dressing was going on and occasional spasms of pain shot across his face. The Sister was not too occupied to forget that he might be feeling faint and sent for some soda water. There was even time for merriment when she found ointment of some kind on his shoulder and laughingly remarked she was sure it was some doctor put that on. All doctors are supposed to love ointment, and most nurses hate it, chiefly, one suspect, because they have to get it off again.

It was all just an incident part of the daily routine of a base Hospital, but I wanted to hug everyone connected with it, doctors, nurses, patients and all. A pawkey Scottish private who was helping remarked that it was nothing, that when a corporal in his company had won the V.C. he had forty wounds, but only twenty-nine of them had been serious. I asked what had become of him, and he said, “Ah, he’s living yet; he lost an arm, and an eye, and some fingers of the other hand and I misremember whether he lost a leg or no, but he’s worth fifty dead ‘uns.”

Some of the men in another hospital were talking about the various military decorations; they talked of the men who had won the Military Medal and the Military Cross, but when it came to the Victoria Cross they said that a man was generally dead by the time he had won the Victoria Cross in the war.
THOS. BRANCKER.

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

To Windsor to see the Queen

The Vansittart Neales’ Australian guest, a wounded hero, got a royal audience.

14 August 1917

Captain Yates & I went dog walk – then golf and croquet. We all motored to Maidenhead, I to meetings about work – new secretary…

Captain Y[ates] to Windsor & saw Queen.

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

Gifts for the good cause

Warfield women were inspired to replace gifts for the troops which had been sent to the bottom of the sea by enemy action.

On Wednesday, May 30th, the Warfield “Shower of Gifts” to Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild was held by the kind invitation of Mrs. Shard at Warfield Hall. This was a scheme to provide from home the loss of many of the overseas gifts which had been lost by the work of German torpedoes. Mrs. Shard received the gifts in the garden, and the total amounted to 407. Such a number far exceeding anything that we had anticipated. All the donors were afterwards received at tea in the dining room, including a great number of children from the School who were all armed with gifts for the good cause; after which all the gifts were then packed and sent off to the Bracknell headquarters as a gift to Queen Mary for her birthday on June 2nd, to be distributed by her among our Soldiers and Sailors.

Warfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, July 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/7)

“There is a consolation in knowing that he did his duty fearlessly”

One man after another from Stratfield Mortimer was reported dead or missing. The toll was beginning to tell.

Garth Club

We have received with the greatest possible regret the news of the death of yet another member on the Field of Honour. When war broke out many members volunteered, and have been serving in most of the fighting zones, – in the Persian Gulf, in Egypt, at the Dardanelles, and Salonica, whilst a number have been in France in the thick of the fighting.

The first to give his life was Frank Goodchild, Pte., R.M.L.I. (enlisted 1913), who went down in the H.M.S. “Good Hope” when she was sunk in action off the Chilian Coast, November, 1914. He took a prominent part in all Club doings and entertainments, and was a general favourite – “one of the best,” and greatly missed.

Next came the sad news that Lance-Corp. Chas. Wickens, who joined on the 11th August, and was drafted to France in the 1st R. Berks the following November, was reported missing on the 15th-17th May, 1915. And it is since believed that he was amongst those killed at Festubert or Richebourg. In the long period of uncertainty the greatest sympathy has been felt with his family and his many friends. He earned his stripe very early in his training, and was a most promising young soldier.

Swiftly came the news of the death of Sidney Raggett, Pte. In the R. Montreal Regt., who also joined in August, 1914, and after three months in Canada came home to complete his training on Salisbury Plain. He went out in February, 1915, was wounded in April, but returned to his duty in May, and on the 21st was killed by a stray shot at Richebourg. His Sergeant wrote of him, “I was awfully sorry he was hit, as he was one of the best boys I had,” and Major-General Sir Sam Hughes, in a letter of condolence to his mother, says, “…there is a consolation in knowing that he did his duty fearlessly and well, and gave his life for the cause of liberty and the upbuilding of the Empire.”

Another period of anxiety has been the lot of Harry Steele’s family and of his wide circle of friends and chums. He, too, felt directly war broke out that it was his duty to join, and he and a friend enlisted in the 10th Hants, and had a long training in Ireland and England. He went in July to Gallipoli, and was in the great charge on the 20th-21st August. He was reported missing, and after many anxious months there seems a sad probability that he may have fallen in that heroic effort. But no details are as yet known. He was a regular and loyal member of the Choir and of St. Mary’s Bellringers, and will be long remembered in the village for his clever impersonation of Harry Lauder, and for his realistic acting at the Club entertainments.

Associated with him, and one of his close chums, was Pte. W. G. Neville, whose death we now mourn. He enlisted in the Hants Regt., and went out early in this year. After a long period of suspense, the War Office have now announced, with the usual message of condolence, and also one of sympathy from the King and Queen, that it is feared he was killed in the great advance on the 1st July last. He was a regular bellringer at St. Mary’s, and he also took a keen interest and a leading part in all Club affairs, and his topical songs and really clever acting were always enthusiastically received at our concerts. He, too, will be most affectionately remembered and greatly missed by his many friends.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P120/28A/14)

One of Scott’s best men killed

Apsley Cherry-Garrard, a veteran of Scott’s Antarctic expedition, was now definitely declared unfit for further service. One of his companions in the Antarctic was naval officer Harry Pennell, a casualty of the Battle of Jutland in May 1916.

June 12, 1916

Lamer Park
Wheathampstead
Herts

Dear Farrer

I saw a specialist on Wed. He says he feels sure there is no alteration now inside me – but inflammation etc etc & that this will go on a very long time.

I am very gradually to get on my legs a bit & under a year I ought to be able to lead a fairly normal life, but the process will cause an increase of pain & sickness. That the Admiralty will not, & should not vex me again.

One of Scott’s best men, Pennell, went down with the Queen Mary.

Yours ever
ACG

Letter from Apsley Cherry-Garrard (D/EHR/Z9/61)

“Our generation has learnt to think of settling down to end one’s days together in safety seems all one asks of life”

Ralph Glyn’s sister Maysie was amused by their aristocratic mother’s depression at the thought of living on a reduced income now her husband was retiring, and had had a royal encounter in Windsor.

April 24/16
Elgin Lodge
Windsor

My dear darling R.

I wonder what for an Easter you spent [sic]. Very many happy returns of it anyhow. I got yours of 14th today. I hope you have seen Frank by now. How splendid of him to spend his leave in that way. Your weather sounds vile, still you are warm & here one never is. I hear from Pum [Lady Mary] today that Meg is in bed with Flu & temp 102. I am so worried, & hope she will not be bad. I must wait till John comes in, but feel I must offer to go to them, but how John is to move house alone I do not know! We move Thurs. My only feeling is that it may distract the parents somewhat during this trying week….

[Mother] takes the gloomiest view of household economies etc, & is determined it will all be “hugga mugga”, “She was not brought up like that & you see darling I have no idea how to live like that” etc etc. I tried humbly to suggest that one could be happy from experience & was heavily sat on, “it’s different for you young people”. Of course it is, & I wasn’t brought up in a ducal regime, still one can have some idea – also possible if Pum had ever had Dad fighting in a war she’d find more that nothing mattered. I think our generation has learnt that, & to think of settling down to end one’s days together in safety seems all one asks of life perhaps! You can well imagine tho’ nothing is said, how this attitude of martyrdom reacts on Dad. In fact he spoke to John about it. One does long to help, but one feels helpless against a barrier of sheer depression in dear Pum…

There seems little news to tell you. The King came Thurs, & has been riding in the Park. We ran into all the children, 3 princes & Princess M pushing bikes in the streets of Windsor on Friday. It was most surprising. They have got two 75s here as anti-aircraft, one on Eton playing fields & one Datchet way. They say if they ever fire the only certainty must be the destruction of the Castle & barracks!!

You know all leave was suddenly stopped on the 18th & everyone over here recalled. We all thought “the Push” but Billy writes the yarn in France is, it was simply that the Staff and RTs wished to have leave themselves – but then one can hardly believe, it’s too monstrous to be true. However John Ponsonby has written about coming on leave the end of the month so there can’t be so much doing yet. The news from Mesopotamia is black enough, one more muddle to our credit & more glory through disaster to the British Army.

I wonder what you think of the recent political events. Pum nearly or rather quite made herself ill over it!…

Billy has I fancy been pretty bad. The bed 10 days at some base hospital, bad bronchitis & cough….

Bless you darling
Your ever loving
Maysie

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