The Russians are giving in

Florence Vansittart Neale was depressed by the war news, both at home and abroad – and concerned about new food restrictions on sugar.

3 September 1917

Raids at Chatham & Sheerness – 107 sailors killed…

Mr Austman still here. All down about Riga gone. Russians giving in.

Wrote for sugar for jam!

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

Meanwhile the Sub-Warden of Clewer House of Mercy was heading to France as an army chaplain.

3 September 1917

The Sub-Warden returned from Strensall Camp on short leave before reporting himself at the War Office previously to going to France.

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

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Setting such a good example in food economy, that at present there is not much prospect of compulsory rationing

Reading clergy agreed none of their churches would put on a tea for Sunday School children this year.

THE VICAR’S LETTER

My dear friends,

The Bishop of Oxford, in the Diocesan Magazine for this month, calls especial attention to the effort that is to be made following on the National Mission of last year. To stimulate prayer and interest and self-sacrifice for the overseas work of the Church, Sunday, October 14th, and the days following have been set apart for this purpose in Reading, and we hope that there will be a wide response. The Bishop expresses his earnest wish that we and our people should realise the great obligations laid upon us by the war for the evangelization of the world…

At a meeting of the clergy, of all denominations in Reading, held a short time ago, it was resolved that there should be no Sunday School Teas as usual, but that an afternoon should be set aside for games and sports. We are sure that both children and parents will feel that at this time public meals of any sort are to be avoided. We understand that so many town, including Reading, are setting such a good example in food economy, that at present there is not much prospect of compulsory rationing.

Your friend and vicar,
W W Fowler

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list: George Bernard, Bernard Walker, Charles Simmonds, Ernest Dormer, William Cooper.

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

KILLED IN ACTION: Albert Denham, Frank Snellgrove, George Jeram.

SICK: Alban Fixsen, William May, Cornelius O’Leary, Francis Broadhurst.

WOUNDED: Frederick Smithers, Frank Taylor, Gilbert Adams.

MISSING: William Wynn.

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

The gravity of the situation and the imperative need for all to carry out the instructions of the Food Controller

Various kinds of savings were pursued in Winkfield – but there were concerns as to how poorer people would cope.

WINKFIELD WAR ASSOCIATION.

The Committee organised a Public Meeting in the Parish Room on Friday, March 30th , when there was a large attendance.

Mrs. Boyce gave an excellent address on the Food question, pointing out clearly the gravity of the situation and the imperative need for all to carry out the instructions of the Food Controller, especially as regards to bread; and the point was emphasized that although the labouring man who could not afford so much meat might legitimately take a larger allowance of bread, yet he is now bound to reduce his usual amount by at least one pound a week.

Mr. Creasy also spoke on the importance of War Savings, and proposed the following resolution which was seconded by Mr. Harrison and carried “that all present pledge themselves to co-operate in carrying out the regulations of Lord Devonport and the Authorities on the question of rations to households generally, and to support the War Savings Association to the best of their ability”.

The Committee learning that many Cottagers and Allotment holders found great difficulty in obtaining seed potatoes arranged to buy a ton of seed at once, and Mr. Asher kindly advanced the money to secure them. Most of these potatoes have now been applied for, but a few pecks are still available, and any wishing to buy them should apply to Mr. C. Osman, Winkfield Row.

Arrangements have been made for the saving of waste paper; sacks have been taken by Mr G. Brown, Maiden’s Green, Mr. Eales, Winkfield Street, Mr. C. Osman, Winkfield Row, Mr. Langley, Brock Hill, Mr. Osman, Gorse Place, and also at the Schools, and it is hoped that many will send contributions of waste paper (old letters, circulars, newspapers, but not brown paper) to help fill these sacks which will then be collected and forwarded.

Winkfeld section of Winkfield District Magazine, May 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/5)

“It is what a nation gives that makes it great”

Maidenhead Congregational Church and St Peter’s Church in Earley supported calls to restrict food consumption, warning of the potential consequences if people did not pitch in voluntarily.

Maidenhead Congregational Church

FOOD ECONOMY.

The Food Controller is making urgent appeals to us all for voluntary limitation of consumption, and for aid where possible in increased food production. And the Prime Minister has specially asked for the fullest co-operation of all member of the Free Churches in carrying forward the great National campaign for economy and increased production. Our readers will forgive us for saying a few words here in response to their appeal.

The fact that the food situation is serious should be clearly grasped by every one. We have always been accustomed to unrestricted purchasing so long as we had the money, and cannot easily imagine a condition of things in which money will not purchase. But with proper precaution now the plans of the enemy will be frustrated. The nation has been placed upon its honour to observe the scale of dietry which Lord Davenport [sic] has published. He has warned us that the machinery to bring into operation a system of compulsory rationing is being organised, and will be used if the voluntary system fails.

Surely there is no one who needs force in such a cause as this. We are rather proud to have some part in the privations and pains which our brothers are bearing in the field and on the sea. The forcible words of Mr. Lloyd George are worth quoting again:

“You cannot have absolute equality of sacrifice in a war. That is impossible. But you can have equal readiness to sacrifice from all… Let the nation as a whole place its comforts, its luxuries, its indulgences, its elegances, on a national altar, consecrated by such sacrifices as these men have made. Let us proclaim during the war a National Lent. The nation will be better and stronger for it, mentally and morally as well as physically. It will strengthen its fibre, it will ennoble its spirit. Without it we shall not get the full benefit of this struggle…. Unless the nation as a whole shoulders part of the burden of victory it will not profit by the triumph, for it is not what a nation gains, it is what a nation gives that makes it great.”

Earley St Peter

THE VICAR’S LETTER

My dear friends

During the whole of this month we shall be keeping Lent and it is the duty of us all to make it a real time of repentance and preparation for Holy Week and Easter. We have today received an appeal to the Nation from the Food Controller, Lord Devonport, containing a quotation from a speech of Mr Lloyd George, headed “A National Lent”. The appeal has been sent to all incumbents with a request that they will lay it before their people…

Mr Lloyd George alludes to abstinence from food only, but what a blessing it would be for our nation if it could keep a really National Lent in the best sense, humbling itself, as a whole, before God and truly repenting of its sins.

Lord Devonport, in his circular, further remarks that from an ethical as well as national point of view self control is of infinitely greater value than enforced discipline: there is no one who will not heartily agree with him, but it should be laid to heart that if the former fails the latter becomes absolutely necessary, from whatever point of view we regard it.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, March 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5); Earley St Peter parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

We shall never regret complying with the new restrictions

The new food restrictions were a worry in Cookham Dean, especially for the poorer who were already struggling.

The Vicar’s Letter

I expect we are all, more or less, feeling worried about the Food Regulations, not that we do not wish to do all we can do to support the Government’s arrangements at such a crisis, but the difficulty is, how to do it. In households where, as is the case with so many of you, there is never too great a supply of food, it must be most anxious work to know how best to carry out the regulations.

Let us try loyally and conscientiously to do our best: after all what is the inconvenience that we have to put up with compared with what our Allies in Belgium, France, Serbia and Roumania [sic] have had to suffer. If, as we are assured over and over again by those in authority, it is one of the ways that we can each one do our best to assure ourselves and our Allies of Victory, for which we long and pray, let us do our part as cheerfully and uncomplainingly as our brave men in their trenches and in the North Sea are doing theirs. We shall never, never regret it.

Notices

The week-day collections during Lent (apart from Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) will be given to the National Institute for the Blind, which is doing so much at the present time for those of our wounded soldiers who have alas lost their sight.

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

What can we substitute for bread?

The Superintendent of the county Lunatic Asylum at Cholsey was unable to restrict bread consumption by patients as much as the Food Controller demanded.

(Letter)

The Berkshire Asylum, Wallingford [sic].
February 19th 1917.

Sir,

Your circular letter of the 13th instant was read to the Committee of Visitors at their meeting on Friday last. I was instructed to reply that in the matter of the patient’s dietary only the bread allowance exceeded that set down by the Food Controller, and considering the great demand for additional supply of bread made by the patients in certain wards during the past few weeks, the Committee did not think it would be desirable to further restrict the supply of bread in the meantime.

As to the staff the matter will be further considered at the next meeting when I hope a reduction will be arranged. The difficulty, however, presents itself as to what substitutes can be given without further hampering the sea transport.

It was suggested that a lead might be given by your board to Asylums generally which would support any action taken by Committees in respect of a reduction, as they understand will be done by the L.G.B. regarding institutions under their control.

I am, Your obedient Servant.

D/H10/A6/6/1/3

The lunatic asylum must comply with food restrictions

Berkshire Lunatic Asylum received an official enquiry as to compliance with the new food rationing.

THE BOARD OF CONTROL,
66, Victoria Street, S.W.

13th February, 1917

PRESSING

Sir,

The Board of Control have been desired by the Secretary of State to ascertain how far the Dietaries in force in the various institutions for the insane in England and Wales conform to the limitations imposed by the Food Controller, which are:-

Bread not to exceed, per head, 4lbs a week.

Meat not to exceed, per head, 2½lbs a week.

Sugar not to exceed, per head, ¾lbs a week.

Accordingly, I am to request that you will be good enough to inform the Board, without delay, what steps have been taken by the Visiting Committee and yourself in this connection, and whether you are in a position to assure the Board that the amounts of the three articles of food mentioned above, issued to Officers, Attendants and other member of the Staff, and to the patients in your Institution, do not exceed the limitations, except so far as partial substitution of one for another is allowed, and the special diets of the sick and acute cases render necessary.

I am, Sir, Your Obedient Servant,

O.C. Dickinson, Secretary

[To] The Medical Superintendent, Berks Asylum

Letter to Berkshire Lunatic Asylum (D/H10/A6/6/1/2)

Cats bless food restrictions

John Maxwell Image wrote to his old friend W F Smith with news of how food rationing was affecting his household, including the pets cats, formerly fed on scraps and leftovers, but now treated to tasty offal not fit for human consumption. Lord Devonport was the Government Food Controller. More sadly, Rudolph Cecil Hutchinson, a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, had been exceptionally severely wounded at the Battle of Loos back in 1915. After over a year’s suffering, he finally died in Cambridge in February 1917. He seems to have been generally known as Cecil. A memoir of him was published privately in 1918 and can be downloaded free.

29 Barton Road
13 Feb. ‘17

Praeclarissime EMY


The Signora … is away at a Newnham College concert, with a fair Marylander, youthful spouse of a Trinity MA, who on his part has been spirited off to scientific War Work at L’pool…

Well, as for Devonport, she accepted him enthusiastically. The hosue is put on rations of bread, meat and sugar – and so cannily that I can’t discover any difference. Helen and Ann, two excellent sisters, are devoted to their mistress’s will. Joe and Binnie bless Devonport all day, for, obviously, the house-meat cannot any longer be cast to the cats: so special supplied – I trust not 5 lb weekly – of lights and such like dainties come in for their use and behoof. Their little barrels bulge – and the 2 tails are rolling pins for size.

We have for many months baked our own bread – the best standard bread I ever ate! 12 lbs of flour produces a long loaf each day, which is bisected each morning, one half for the parlour and one for the kitchen. Helen, who is the surgeon, rigorously adheres to the Devonport law, and always I see some over on our table at night. The only difficulty is there being so very, very little flour for puddings. I don’t mind, and the petticoats don’t grouse….

We had a military funeral in Trinity this morning. A BA Lieut. There must have been over 100 troops – the coffin on a gun carriage, draped with the Union Jack. The first part of the service in Chapel at 11.45. And then the procession – band playing (very poorly) the Dead March went down Trin. St and Trin. Lane, through the Paddocks. Rudolph Cecil Hopkinson, Lieut. RE – died of wounds on Feb. 9th.

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

An agitating week

Florence Vansittart Neale was worried.

10 February 1917

Heard about war savings meeting.

Agitating week over food rations – also will America go to war. Vessels being sunk.

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

“Spain may come in”

Florence Vansittart Neale had to deal with the practical implications of rationed food essentials, while hoping that neutral Spain might join the Allies thanks to the Germans’ aggressive targetting of all shipping.

7 February 1917

Mrs S. [the cook?] & I daily talks on food economy. 2 ½ lb meat – 4 lbs bread – ¾ lb sugar for each person.

Manpower 18-60. How many ought to go!!…

Germans refuse to stop torpedoing every ship – neutral or enemy. Spain may come in.

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

Food rations begin

Our diarists had a variety of interests. In Switzerland, Will Spencer saw the US was coming closer to war; in training, his brother Sydney was learning to shoot; and in Bisham, Florence Vansittart Neale was worried by food rationing and strikes.

Will Spencer in Switzerland
5 February 1917

News in the paper that diplomatic relations between Germany & the United States have been broken off by the latter.

Sydney Spencer in army training
Feb 5th

General Musketry course results (extract). Lt S Spencer, A company, Marksman 130. This was fired at Totley with 2 feet snow & hard ports!

Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey
5 February 1917

Expected men from Cliveden – arrived late as motor broken down. Came in 2 ambulances.

Wild argument from miners!…

Food rations begin. 2 ½ lb meat – 4 lbs bread or flour – ¾ lb sugar per week.

Diaries of Will Spencer, 1917 (D/EX801/27); Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EX801/12); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Impossible to carry on council business due to “minute quantities of petrol allowed”

Berkshire County Council received a petition from the British Empire Union, a racist and anti-semitic pressure group formerly known more honestly as the Anti-German Union.

ALIENS

A circular from the British Empire Union, asking that meetings should be organised with a view to the internment of all enemy aliens, was read, and ordered to be laid on the table [i.e. ignored].

PETROL SUPPLY

Mr Preston called attention to the impossibility of carrying on certain important parts of the County business in consequence of the minute quantities of petrol allowed to the respective officers; and the Clerk was directed to communicate with the authorities responsible and to apply for an increase.

Berkshire County Council minutes, 29 July 1916 (C/CL/C1/1/19)