Merry as a marriage bell – despite the unbidden guest

Church choirs typically had an annual jolly day out. The choir at Broad Street Church in Reading invited along a group of wounded soldiers in 1918.

July

RIVER TRIP

Arrangements are being made by the Church Choir for a river trip in the afternoon of Saturday, July 20th, when they hope to entertain a party of wounded soldiers. Goring and Hartslock Woods will most likely be the places visited. In addition to the members of the choir and their wounded friends, there will be accommodation for about thirty visitors. Full details have not yet been arranged, but particulars may be obtained from members of the choir after July 1st. It is very desirable, however, that early application should be made for tickets by those who wish to join the party.

August

CHOIR TRIP

On Saturday, July 20th, the annual choir trip took place, the destination this time being Goring and Hartlock Woods. A party of twenty-five wounded soldiers from the military hospitals had been invited as guests of the choir, so there was accommodation for only about forty other friends.

In the forenoon the weather outlook seemed very uncertain, but as 1.30 pm drew near it assumed a more promising aspect. Immediately after the arrival of “the men in blue” the steam-launch “River Queen” was started, and the party of 105 proceeded upstream at a steady pace. The choir discoursed sweet music as we journeyed and “all went merry as a marriage bell”.

We reached Goring without mishap at 4.15 pm, and there we disembarked for about twenty-five minutes, to permit of a hasty look round. Setting off on the return journey at 4.45 pm, we reached Hartslock Woods at 5 o’clock, and took a short walk whilst arrangements were being made for tea.

At 5.15 we sat down to do full justice to the good things provided. The sun was now shining with unwonted brilliance, and was even considered by some to be too powerful. After tea, Mr F. W. Harvey read a letter from the Rev. W. Morton Rawlinson (who unfortunately, through indisposition, was unable to join the party) and in an appropriate speech gave welcome to our guests. To this welcome, the officer who accompanied the wounded soldiers fittingly replied, and expressed the gratitude of those for whom he spoke.

The company now dispersed in various directions. Some rambled along the banks of the river; others explored the beautiful woods; and still others climbed the high hill from which an uninterrupted view could be gained of “Father Thames”, stretching away into the distance on either side.

As our soldier friends had been granted an extension of time it was not proposed to start for home until 8.15. but unhappily the fickle sun, which had promised so well at tea-time, was hidden from view by a heavy thunder-cloud, which speedily began to give us a taste of its contents. Everyone made for the boat, and at 7.30, as there seemed to be no prospect of a change in the weather, it was decided to return.

The rain continued most of the way home, but the choir again delighted us with various musical selections, and made it impossible for us to feel depressed or even dull. Their efforts to beguile the time, from Tilehurst onwards, were supplemented by those of three youngsters on the lookout for stray pence, who, on the river bank, kept pace with the boat and provided a varied exhibition.

Altogether, although the rain was an unbidden guest, the trip was most thoroughly enjoyed, and great praise is due to the choir for the entertainment given to their wounded guests and to the whole party. We should like to thank Mr Harvey, too, and the members of the Choir Committee, for the excellent arrangements made for the comfort of all.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, July and August 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

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The use of jam, treacle or syrup will be discontinued

Internees were about to be deprived of jam, unless they could pay for it themselves.

Prison Commission
HO
20.7.18

[to] The Gov
Reading P of I

Please note that when your present stock of jam is exhausted, the use of jam, treacle or syrup will be discontinued, but it may of course be purchased in reasonable quantities by interned prisoners.

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

“Any letters which contain obscure expressions, abbreviations and indirect references to prohibited subjects are liable to delay, and may have to be stopped”

Complaints about how internees were treated were strictly forbidden.

19.7.18

[to] The Gov
Reading P of I

The U S of S [Under-Secretary of State] requests that the Irish interned prisoners in your custody may be informed as follows:

The S of S has asked that you may be reminded that letters are allowed for the purpose of communicating with your relations & friends on domestic matters and matters of business in which you are personally interested. They must not be used for the discussion of public events or for complaints about your internment or treatment; any such complaints should be made to the S of S.

Communications which offend against these rules will be stopped by the Censor.

Arrangements have been made to deal with all letters as quickly as possible, but any which contain obscure expressions, abbreviations and indirect references to prohibited subjects are liable to delay, and may have to be stopped.

If your correspondents understand English you are recommended to write to them in that language.

A J Wall
Secy

Each man was informed of this on reception and also a notice was placed In the hall.

A further notice embodying this letter has now been placed in the Irish Prison.

C M Morgan
Gov:
20-7-18

HM Prison
Reading
July 19. 18

From the MO to the Governor

Regarding the petition of H. Shlapowsky, I reported fully upon May 8th of this year.

He is [illegible – herplocked?] on the right side (not badly) and there is a weakness on the left, but … [illegible] behind. He has done no heavy work here, but has … [illegible] pretty, fights with fellow prisoners and has been on hunger strike.

What he says about us is nonsense, and I have declined to allow him to bug Alber from the Chemist.

Since his hunger strike in April, he has registered a weight of over 110 lbs. I am willing to supply him with a … [illegible] but I find we shall have a [illegible].

At the present time I see no necessity for increased rations.

W T Freeman.

Prison Commission
HO
SW1

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

The German offensive is an utter failure

Reading teenager Joan Daniels was excited by the latest news.

July 18th Thursday
The German offensive is an utter failure & the French counter attack most successfully.

Diary of Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1)

Able to give information to the police

An internees was ready to help police with their enquiries. The interview in question took place on 20 July.

Met: Police Office
N. Scot: Yd
SW1
The Prison Comm[issio]n

I should be very glad if you would authorise the Governor of Reading Pn to allow a Police Officer of this department to have an interview with M J Stephan, interned under D of R Regn, Stephan having informed the Governor that he is able to give information respecting a man named Louis Brandt.

BT
16-7-18

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

“Competitors to walk 50 yards smoking a cigarette”: competitions for wounded soldiers

On Wednesday 10 July 1918, Reading Philanthropic Institution mounted a Wounded Soldiers’ Outing at Rectory Grounds, Caversham, placed at the disposal of the committee by Lady Moseley.

The day consisted of the following programme:

2.30

Sports programme

1. Guessing Competition.
The Secretary of the Institution [J H Smart of Beresford Road, Reading] was born in the year 1841. What was his age in days on July 1st, 1918, estimated at 365 days per year?

2. Threadneedle Race.
Wounded Soldiers and Ladies – Soldiers to thread needle.

3. Slow Walking Race.
Competitors must place one foot after the other in a forward movement; to stand still means disqualification.

4. Egg and Spoon Race.
Teams of three; each competitor to cover 25 yards.

5. Necktie Competitions.
Conditions explained at the start.

6. Toy Symphony.
Competitors to walk 50 yards playing “toy instruments”.

7. Whistling Competition.
Conditions explained at the start.

8. Animal Imitations.

9. Musical Chairs.

10. Potato Race in Pairs.

11. Feeding Bottle Contest.
Competitors to walk 50 yards smoking a cigarette, drink contents from feeding bottle suspended without using their hands, cigarette to be kept alight until the finish of a further walk of 25 yards.

12. Bowling Competitions.

13. Fixing The Donkey’s Tail

14. Band Race

7.30
Lady Moseley will present the Prizes to the winning competitors.

From 5.45 to 7.30 the sports were accompanied by a concert by Reading Favourites Concert Party, followed by the band of the 1st battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

Wounded soldiers’ outing programme (R/D137/6/3)

“For how much has God given us to be thankful”

Joan’s father escaped conscription at least for a while.

July 10th Wednesday

Daddie appeared before the tribunal yesterday unknown to us & got four months exemption with leave to appeal again. However the military representative may appeal against this, but it is by no means certain that he will, nor his success should he do so. For how much has God given us to be thankful.

Diary of Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1)

“He calls himself a Sinn Feiner but is interned under the rules for Aliens”

A foreign (American?) citizen who was interned as an alien but sympathised with the Irish nationalists wanted permission for a friend to visit him. The Commission said they had no objection so the visitors were allowed.

Place of Internment, Reading
6.7.1918

J. J. Macconnastair alias Nestor
24.4.18 C S for Ireland’s Order, Defence of the Realm Regn (1413) Internment

The above prisoner was received from here on 4/7/18 from Brixton.
He calls himself a Sinn Feiner but is interned under the rules for Aliens.

He wishes to send the attached V.O. and states that he has permission from the HO to be visited by these persons, and that he was so visited at Brixton, but I have only his word. As an Alien he would be entitled to a visit, but owing to his connection with the Sinn Feiners movement the question is submitted.

C M Morgan

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

“There was no mention of a diamond ring”

A Swiss internee claimed to have had a diamond ring stolen while he was interned.

5th July 1918

The attached letter [no copy found so far] from the Swiss Legation is submitted.

It has been acknowledged to the effect that it is having attention.
P. Theisen was received with other Aliens from Woking Military Prison 31.10.14 for internment.

He was transferred to Brixton 22.2.15.

When received here from Woking, his property consisted of a gold watch – gold chain – gold ring – attached to the chain. As the reception officer was doubtful as to the “gold” it was entered in our property book as metal watch – metal chain – metal ring, and signed for as correct by Theisen. There was no mention of a diamond ring, and none was received or entered.

The day prisoner was transferred he asked for a diamond ring, and was told there was no such ring. He admitted that he had not seen it after Woking Prison. Two officers received him and stated that he had no ring, neither was one entered on the transfer document, except the metal one referred to.

Prisoner apparently applied to the Governor of Brixton on this subject and a reply was sent to Brixton to the above effect. Nothing can be traced as having come for him at the end of 1915, which would be several months after his removal. If anything came, it would of course be sent on unopened from here. Perhaps Brixton can answer this.

C M Morgan
Governor

[to] The Commissioners

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

More fool than knave, an excitable kind of man & not very evenly balanced

One of the Irish internees in Reading had a nasty skin infection.

4 July 1918
Irish Joint Petition

Report from Medical Officer attached.

Davys told me on Sunday that he thought he had a skin disease caught from the soldiers at Holyhead as the beds there were dirty, and that he did not catch it here. He also asked to be allowed to occupy a cell on second floor so as to be isolated. I allowed him to do so, but he plays handball with the others.

Coles and Hayes stated that they petitioned in hopes of getting Davys released; that he was excitable and eccentric, but had conducted himself here much better than they had anticipated, and that whatever offences they had committed, Davys had not done anything and was more fool than knave. My own opinion is that they rather want to get rid of him as he is an excitable kind of man & not very evenly balanced. The others are more reading men.

The Prison was whitewashed throughout since it was last occupied by the Sinn Feiners.

C M Morgan
Gov.

[to] The Commissioners

They were anxious that he should not know that they had [illegible].

H M Prison
Reading

July 4.18

To the Governor
Concerning R. Davys

He has been suffering from an eczema of the face since the 17th of June. It may be a little troublesome to get well. In the ordinary sense of the words it is neither infectious nor contagious.

In fact, it [sic] technically I am satisfied that it is not a hyphogenic sycrosis and if there be any colligenic element about it, it is secondary.

It is in my opinion ridiculous to make any scare about it.

The mask is an ordinary and useful element in the treatment. I have felt for some days that such a petition might be forthcoming and mentioned my suspicions, you may remember, to you.

W T Freeman, MD, FRIS

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Reading St Giles intercessions list

Parishioners at Reading St Giles were asked to pray for their servicemen.

Notes from the Vicar

Intercessions List: Eric R.W. Gillmor (O.C.B.), R. Stanley Rudman.

Sick and Wounded: E.R. Righton, James Lambert, Victor Honor, Vincent Cherril, Alfred Honor, Edwin Richie, E.R. Righton, Fred Seymour.

Prisoners: Rifleman A. Pickford, Harry Kirby, Alfred H. Douglas, Harold Nicholson, Private Pavey.

Missing: Lieut Francis R.B. Hill, H.W. Tull, E.W. Kent.

Departed: Corpl. Percy E.H. Sales, Private Leonard Cozens, Private Jack Stevens, Robert Alfred Fryer, Frederick Gill, Sydney Alfred Smith, William Smith, John Oakley Holt. R.I.P.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P96/28A/35)

Conspicuous bravery during the retreat

Various Old Redingensians (OLd Boys of Reading School) had been serving their country.

O.R. NEWS.

Deaths

Captain Lionel Tudor Wild, Somerset L.I., was the second son of Mr. and Mrs Aubrey S. Wild. Of 21, canning-road, Addiscombe, Croydon, and was born in 1888.Educated at St. Winifred’s, Kenley, and Reading School, he was for a short time in the service of the London and Westminster Bank, but afterwards turning his attention to motor engineering, he took up an appointment with Messrs Argylls (Limited) in Dundee, and was subsequently manager of the company’s branch in Aberdeen. For several years before the war he was a member of the Surrey Yeomanry, and attained the rank of sergeant, being one of the best rifle-shots in his squadron. On the outbreak of war he was mobilized with his regiment, and after some months’ training obtained a commission in the Somerset Light infantry, proceeding to France with his battalion in July, 1915. In 1916 he was appointed brigade staff captain, but eventually returned to his regiment, and was given the command of the company. He was reported “wounded and missing” on November 30th, 1917, and it has now been established that he was killed on that date, in an attempt to save the remnant of his company during the German counter attack near Cambrai, and was buried by the enemy at Masnieres.

On Saturday the death occurred at “Westdene,” Earley, the home of his parents, of Sec. Lieut. F.I. (Frank) Cunningham after illness contracted on active service. Deceased was educated at Reading School, from which he entered the City and Guilds Engineering College, London, and after going through the three year’s course he obtained a diploma in civil and mechanical engineering. In 1910 he went to Canada, and was assistant engineer on the Grand Trunk Railway. When war broke out he enlisted on August 14th, as a private in the Royal Highlanders of Canada. He was at Valcartier and Salisbury Plain, and in 1915 went to the front. At Ypres he was wounded in the foot, and after recovery was attached to the C.A.M.C., until 1916. He then obtained a commission in the R.F.C., which he held up till February the 3rd of this year, when he was invalided out of the service and granted the honorary rank of Sec. Lieut.

The funeral took place at St Peter’s Earley, on Thursday, April 11th. The officiating clergy were the Rev. W. S. Mahony, Vicar of Linslade, the Rev. Capt. A. Gillies Wilken (O.R.) Chaplain to the Canadian Forces ( lately prisoner of war in Germany), and the Vicar (Canon Fowler). The coffin was draped in the Union Jack.

Military Cross

Capt. (A/Major) D.F. Grant, R.F.A., the son of Mr W.J. Grant, of 12, Glebe Road, Reading. Major Grant was educated at Reading School, and quite recently lost his eyesight in France but has since regained it.

Captain Arnold J. Wells, A.S.C., T.F. (Territorial Force), has been awarded the M.C. for meritorious service in Egypt. He has served in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine.

Bar To Military Cross

Sec. Lieut. (A/Capt.) J.L. Loveridge, M.C., Royal Berks.

Mentioned In Despatches

Fullbrook-Leggatet, Capt. C.St. Q.O., D.S.O., M.C., Royal Berks Regt.

Military Medal

Corpl. H.C. Love, Despatch Rider, R.E., of Reading, has won the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery during the retreat March 23rd-30th.

The following is the official statement of service for which Lieut. O.S. Frances, M.C. Royal Berks Regt. Received his bar: –

“He marked out the assembly positions for the whole brigade before an attack and guided forward companies of two battalions over very difficult ground and under heavy shell fire.”

Corporal W.L. Pauer, a sniper in the Munster Fusiliers, has been awarded the Military Medal and also the Medaille Militaire. He has been twice wounded. During the retreat in March he was made a King’s Sergeant on the field and he has since been awarded a bar to his Military Medal.

Wounded.

Rees, Major R.A.T., L.N. Lan. Regt., attached South Staff. Regt. He was formerly classical master at Reading School, where he held the commission in the O.T.C.

Reading School Magazine, July 1918 (SCH3/14/34)

In the heat of the hottest dog day, in one of the hottest rooms of this very hot town

Members of St John’s Church in Reading (now the Polish Catholic church, but then a Church of England one) supported the troops in prayer and by sewing clothes etc for the wounded.

ST JOHN’S CARE AND COMFORTS WORKING PARTY

The Care and Comforts Working Party still pursues its useful activities. Even in the heat of the hottest dog day, in one of the hottest rooms of this very hot town, a number of devoted ladies are to be found each Wednesday making various articles necessary to the comfort of the honoured wounded in our hospitals. Workers never fail, materials are always forthcoming, but the latter have to be paid for and the funds from time to time run short. Donations are always welcome, and should be sent to the Treasurer, Miss Rundell, 7 Alexandra Road.

List of the articles made this month: 1 shirt, 1 pyjama suit, 100 face cloths, 28 treasure bags, 44 sterilizing bags, 43 locker curtains, 17 cushion covers.

THE ROLL OF HONOUR FOR THE FALLEN

We have been asked why the Roll of Honour has been moved from its place by the South Door of the church to its present position in the North Transept. The answer is – in order that it may have a place all to itself with its own bracket for flowers and in a quiet part of the church where people may be sure of being undisturbed in their prayers.

The beautifully made oak bracket beneath the Roll of Honour is the kind gift of two friends who desire to remain anonymous.

Reading St. John parish magazine (D/P172/28A/24)

Killed by the explosion of a shell

A Reading teacher serving in the army was killed in what is now Iraq.

27th June 1918
Heard this morning from Mrs Sheldon that her husband Frederick George Sheldon (who was assistant in the old school in Southampton St. and subsequently in the George Palmer Boy’s School from its opening Oct 3rd 1907) had been killed by the explosion of a shell, whilst he was serving as acting sergeant in the A.O.C. Mesopotamia, on June 18th 1918.

Reading: George Palmer Boys’ School log book (89/SCH/8/1, p. 152)

Artists or literary authors among the Irish prisoners to be allowed materials

Many of the Irish internees were artists and writers.

26 June 1918

[to] The Gov, P of I, Reading

The Ch: Sec: for Ireland stated in the House of Commons that any artists or literary authors among the Irish prisoners would be allowed to have artists’ materials or other necessities for the practice of their arts. Be good enough to let the prisoners know that these will be allowed at their own expense.

[not signed]

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)