Forbury Hill “not really suitable for the erection of a War Memorial such as would be worthy of the great events which it was now proposed to commemorate”

There was considerable debate over a proposed Berkshire war memorial. This project never came to fruition, as not enough money was raised, and the committee folded in 1922. However, in 1930 a former serviceman who was elected mayor of Reading revived it.

17 November 1919

The secretary reported that Dr Stewart Abram, Mayor of Reading, had acceded to the request to join the committee [and was present at this meeting]. He also reported the death of Mr H C Mylne and it was agreed that Mr Martin, the newly elected Mayor of Wokingham, be asked to take the vacant place on the committee.

The secretary reported that the Town Clerk had written saying that the application for the Forbury Hill site had been considered by the Parks & Pleasure Grounds Committee, and that they have recommended the Town Council to accede to the application of the Berkshire War Memorial Executive Committee. The recommendation above will be considered by the Council on the 4th December.

The site of the Forbury Hill selected for the memorial was criticised by Mr Bates, who pointed out that in all probability the Hill was itself a memorial and that it was not really suitable for the erection of a War Memorial such as would be worthy of the great events which it was now proposed to commemorate. Considerable discussion took place, and it was suggested that a much better position could be found in the Forbury Gardens at the Victoria Gate. Mr Bates moved and Mr Howell seconded

“that the Town Clerk should be informed that on re-consideration and after an inspection of the Forbury Hill and Gardens the Committee feel that it would be undesirable to interfere with the amenities of what they understand is really an Historical Monument. Moreover the Committee finds that any suitable monument erected on the Hill would necessitate much re-modelling of the Gardens and interference with the existing arrangements. In the circumstances the Committee request that the application made in the secretary’s letter of the 24th October be not put forward at the Town Council meeting on the 4th December.”

This was approved unanimously. The secretary was instructed to intimate that a fresh application for another site in the near neighbourhood will probably be forthcoming later on.

The Committee visited the Forbury Gardens in connection with a suggestion made by Mr Bates, supported by Councillor Howell and others, and it was ultimately decided that Mr Benyon, Mr Bates and Councillor Howell be appointed a Sub-committee to prepare a plan of the site in question in order that the matter may be further considered at the next committee meeting.

The secretary reported the issue of posters & record cards as agreed at the last meeting, and the question was raised as to the persons whose names should be recorded. Colonel Barker moved that “the Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and Men who were serving in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and Territorial battalions of the Berkshire Forces when the war broke out, be deemed to be Berkshire men for the purpose of the memorial”. The resolution was seconded by Mr Bates and passed.

The secretary was instructed to return the designs submitted at the last committee meeting, and to express the thanks of the committee to the designers.

Bills for printing and petty expenditure were submitted and passed.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)

Two minutes of perfect silence and stillness

Schools remembered the Armistice one year earlier on the first Remembrance Day.

Bracknell
11th November 1919

Today is the first anniversary of the armistice. All the children and staff assembled around the flagstaff. Just before 11 a.m the Headmaster read the King’s proclamation – the flag was lowered to half mast and two minutes of perfect silence and stillness was observed as a simple service of silence and remembrance. Children sang ‘God save the King’ and special lessons on ‘The League of Nations’ were given in the upper classes.

White Waltham
November 11th 1919

Today Nov 11th is the first anniversary of the Armistice which stayed the world wide carnage of the four preceding years and marked the victory of Right and freedom. The King has sent the following message to the people with a request that his message should be read to the pupils in all schools.

Kings Message:

I believe my people in every part of the Empire fervently wish to perpetuate the memory of that Great Deliverance and of those who laid down their lives to achieve it.

To afford an opportunity for the universal expression of this feeling it is my desire and hope that at the hour when the armistice came into force, the eleventh our of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, there may be for one brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all normal activities. During that time, except in rare cases where this may be impractical, all work, all sound, and all locomotion should cease, as that in perfect stillness the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the Glorious Dead.

No elaborate organisation appears to be necessary. At a given signal, which can easily be arranged the suit the circumstances of each locality. I believe that we shall, all gladly interrupt our business and pleasure, whatever it may be and unite in this simple service of Silence and Remeberance.

George R.I.

Programme:

10.50 All Children assembled in Large Room
10.55 Brief explanation of reason of assembly and the Reading of the King’s Message.
11-11.2 Reverent Remembrance of the Glorious Dead in Silence
11.3 Singing of Hymn “On the Resurrection Morning” to end a most impressive service
11.10 Resumption of work.

Eastbury
11th November 1919

The League of Nations Day Nov. 11th. At eleven o’ clock a pause was made in the ordinary work. The bell tolled thirteen times as that was the number of men at Eastbury who have made the great sacrifice. During that time the names of the dead heroes were written on the blackboard, while all the children stood silent, seeming to realise the act of honour the silence was giving to the glorious dead.

Prayers for the departed were read and the prayer for peace and a hymn was sung. The children seemed much impressed by the lessons that were given. The King’s letter was read. The national anthem concluded the service.

King Street School, Maidenhead
11th November 1919

The Anniversary of Armistice Day was kept in school by a complete change of timetable commencing with a simple musical service of praise & worship & an address to the children on “Give to the world the best you have” as a basis for a League of Nations.

The Silence Time (which is a daily occurrence here) was devoted to the sending of love & affection to the fathers of our children killed in the war & yet still near them. The lessons throughout the day were in relation to this, & bigger children were allowed to take home what they had written about the Great Day.

A widowed mother called in the afternoon & told of the cheer she had received from her little boy’s expression of what has been told him in school today.

(more…)

All men who, having lost their lives during the war, may be considered fit subjects for Berkshire Commemoration

It was important to remember all the war dead.

County and Reading War memorial

A strong Committee, upon which Mr Willink is serving, are considering this difficult subject, and an appeal will shortly be issued. At present the only decision arrived at is that the site shall be the mound in the Forbury Gardens. The Committee are issuing to all incumbents of parishes, and to all Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Associations, a request to send in the names, with details, of all men who, having lost their lives during the war, may be considered fit subjects for Berkshire Commemoration. If we can settle our own list for our own Parish Cross, this ought to serve both purposes. And Mr Willink repeats his appeal for any comments on the provisional list now to be seen in the church, near the lectern.

Burghfield parish magazine, November 1919 (D/EX725/4)

“Profiteering seems to be the latest stunt”

The male friends of the Dodeka Club in Reading discussed what would be called spivs in the Second World War – people who abused the regulations to make money.

The 304th meeting of the Club was held at Cresswell’s on Friday 7th Nov 1919…

Cresswell then read a short paper on Profiteering. “Profiteering”, he said, “seems to be the latest stunt, & like most other varieties of this breed is the victim of exaggeration. No doubt in many cases advantage has been taken of the situation & too high prices have been charged, but when one looks at reports of the Tribunals the trivial results are far from convincing that the real culprits have been found.”

He referred to the unfairness of selecting one particular article from a varied stock & saying only so much profit should be charged upon it, when other goods in the same shop do not bear the same profit as the tribunal decides is reasonable for the article complained about, & stated that from some of the decisions of the tribunals, which have been published, it is doubtful whether they are sufficiently alive to what is really a fair profit as affecting a certain article or a certain trade to appreciate the difference in articles & trades…

Cresswell concluded his remarks with the belief that the chief way of bringing about lower prices will be by increased production & in consequence more competition based on a fair living profit will right many of the evils existing today.

An interesting and at times warm discussion followed. It was apparent that members were fully of the opinion that profiteers do exist even if there are none amongst the members of the Club.

Dodeka Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/4)

Employing a greater percentage of discharged men than was required

There was pressure to find work for men permanently disabled as a result of wounds.

6th November 1919
Disabled Soldiers

Reporting the receipt of a letter from the Unemployment Exchange enclosing Form of Undertaking with regard to the employment of discharged ex-service men. The Clerk stated that at the present time the Guardians were employing a greater percentage of discharged men than was required by the undertaking. No action was taken.

Report of Finance Committee, Reading Board of Guardians (G/R1/59)

“The Committee cannot proceed with the design selected unless a total of at least £500 is secured”

Stratfield Mortimer needed to raise money for its war memorial.

The War Memorial

The Committee report as follows:-

“Subscriptions received to date at Lloyds Bank are £166 6s 0d. In addition, £100 has been promised. Any donations to this fund should be sent to Lloyds Bank, Reading, crossed ‘Mortimer War Memorial Fund.’ Smaller subscriptions will be gladly welcomed by the Hon. Sec., Miss Phelp, Wisley, Padworth Road.”

It is hoped that the above amounts will be largely increased early this month, as the Committee cannot proceed with the design selected unless a total of at least £500 is secured.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, October 1919 (D/P120/28A/14)

To make our country, our county, our village, supreme monuments to our Glorious Dead

There was still bitterness towards those who had chosen not to fight.

Discharged Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Federation

On Wednesday, 22nd October, the Mortimer and District Branch met at the Jubilee Room, under the chairmanship of Mr R W Sharp, the prospective representative of the branch on the Local War Pensions Committee. Mr H C Eggleton, the Branch Chairman, explained clearly the objects of the Federation, viz (briefly), “To safeguard the interests of every ex-Service man and the dependants of our fallen comrades, and to make our country, our county, our village, supreme monuments to our Glorious Dead”.

It is hoped that every man who has worn the Blue or Khaki (excepting only conscientious objectors) will join the Federation. Will every man whos is suffering through delayed gratuity, etc, kindly communicate with Mr J Anderson, Secretary, Nightingale Lane, Mortimer, who will give every possible assistance; also all widows, mothers, or other dependants of those who have made the supreme sacrifice. It is hoped to have a Burghfield sub-branch, if enough new members join.

Note: The Editor willingly inserts this, and assures the Branch that the Reading Rural WP sub-committee will hope to work in harmony with a friendly ally.

Burghfield parish magazine, November 1919 (D/EX725/4)

The site for the Berkshire war memorial should be the Forbury Hill

A site was selected for a Berkshire war memorial.

21 October 1919
Executive Committee meeting

Present: J Herbert Benyon, President
Messrs Foley, Bates, Willink, Belcher, Bradbury, Barker, Quelch, Howell, Hayward, Johnson (Town Clerk), Arman (secretary).

The Secretary reported that the land in the Caversham Road, suggested as a possible site, could not be obtained for a lesser sum than £5000. He stated that it was understood that the Forbury Hill site would most likely be granted by the Town Council if desired.

The suggested designs sent in by the undermentioned gentlemen were on view and received consideration:

No. 1. Lt C H Perkins, ARIBA, Bracknell
2. J H Willett, Caversham
3. C B Willcocks, Reading
4. H Hutt, Reading
5. J H Carey & Son, Windsor
6. A N Arman (amateur), Reading
7. F G Belcher (amateur), Reading

A general discussion took place during which a scheme in connection with the new Caversham Bridge was referred to and explained by Mr Howell, and the suggestion was more or less supported by Mr Bates.

It was considered that the committee as a body should view the Exhibition of War Memorials at the Royal Holloway before coming to any conclusion, and it was thought that subsequently it should be debated whether a competitive design should be obtained by offering a premium and throwing the competition open generally, or whether it would be best to place the matter into the hands of some eminent artist to prepare a design and advise generally.

In order that some definite progress be made it was proposed by Councillor Quelch, seconded by Col Barker, that the site for the memorial should be the Forbury Hill in the Forbury Gardens, Reading. Carried.

The secretary was requested to make a formal application to the Town Council for the grant of the site in question. He was also requested to send a report of the committee meeting to the newspapers announcing the decision as to the site (subject to the approval of the Town Council).

Mr Hayward moved, and Mr Bates seconded, that Dr Stewart-Abram, the mayor-elect, be invited to join the committee. Passed unanimously.

The secretary submitted proposals, which were approved by the committee, to print and circulate throughout the county a poster asking that the names of Berkshire men for record on the memorial be sent to the vicars of the respective parishes; that the vicar of each parish in the county be asked to co-operate in obtaining the names of the men for record purposes; to print and circulate the suggested letter to the vicars of parishes together with the record card of which drafts were adopted. Similar applications for co-operation to be sent to the Comrades of the Great War and the Federation of Discharged Sailors & Soldiers.

Berkshire War Memorial Committee minutes (R/D134/3/1)

The last five years have been clouded by the terrible war

A pacifist clergyman who had ended up supporting the war now looked to a new start.

My dear friends…

On October 20th I begin, if I am spared, my eighth year of ministry. The last five years have been clouded by the terrible war, and much that I had hoped to do has had to be left, until a more convenient season. Now that the war is over, I feel that the time has come for a great forward movement…

Yours very sincerely
W Morton Rawlinson

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, October 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Commencing to work under pre-war conditions

Things returned to normal as buildings which had been requisitioned were returned to their former use.

17th October 1919
Glad to report that the Central School Classes after spending Tuesday & Wednesday in removals, have now returned to the Central School. At once got the desks with their respective rooms & now am only awaiting the replacing of the cupboards before commencing to work under pre-war conditions.

George Palmer Boys’ School log book, Reading (89/SCH/8/1, p. 161)

A scheme with the object of absorbing into industry disabled and discharged Ex-Service men

It was important to find work for former soldiers.

13th October 1919
Employment of Ex Service Men

Reporting the receipt of circular letters from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour calling attention to a scheme with the object of absorbing into industry disabled and discharged Ex-Service men.

Recommending that the Clerk inform the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Health of the fact that the Guardians had re-instated all their Officers who had been on service.

War Pensions

Reporting the receipt of a letter from the Ministry of Pensions, referring to the Clerk’s letter stating that the Guardians supported the Resolution reported by the Hemsworth Board, and asking for particulars of cases which had prompted the Guardians to support the Resolution. Further reporting the receipt of a letter from Lt Col Leslie Wilson, MP, stating that he would be glad to be informed of any delay in awarding pensions to men living in Reading, and that he would have any such cases fully investigated at the Ministry of Pensions.

MReport of Finance & General Purposes Committee inminutes of Reading Board of Guardians (G/R1/59)

“She desired to make a home for her two sons who had been demobilised”

A children’s home lost its foster mother due to her own sons coming home from the war.

7th October 1919

Mrs Hannon, Foster Mother

Reporting the receipt of a … letter from Mrs Hannon asking the Guardians to allow her to resign as she desired to make a home for her two sons who had been demobilised.

Recommending that the resignation be accepted.

Foster Mother, Palmer Home

Recommending that the vacancy at this home caused by the resignation of Mrs Hannon be referred to a Sub-committee … with a view to their considering and reporting to the Committee upon the advisability of employing a Foster Father and Foster Mother.

Report of Infant Poor Committee, Reading Board of Guardians (G/R1/59)

It has only been necessary to render assistance to 47 persons

Special assistance to persons in financial difficulties due to the war was called to a halt.

Shire Hall

4th October, 1919

The Government Committee on the Prevention and Relief of Distress have decided that the time has now come for the general discontinuance of the system of the assistance to persons included in the civilian population suffering distress in consequence of the war in which the Local Representative Committee have co-operated, and with a few exceptions, such assistance has been terminated as from the 31st July last.

On the 31st July there was only one case receiving assistance from this Committee, namely, that of a widow living in Maidenhead, whose husband was an accountant in the employ of a firm in West Africa and who lost his life by the torpedoing of the SS Falaba in 1915. She has hitherto been in receipt of a weekly payment of 10/6d, and the Government Committee have asked for recommendations in any case where the need for further periodical allowances may be obviated by the payment of a small lump sum grant for rehabilitation. The Executive Committee have considered this case very carefully but they have come to the conclusion that a lump sum would be of no real value and that if the grant is to discontinue, it should do so at once.

It is satisfactory to note that since the Committee was formed in 1914, it has only been necessary to render assistance to 47 persons and that the total expenditure by the Committee during that period has amounted to £365.0.10 only.

The whole of the funds advanced to the Committee and not expended have been refunded to the Government Committee and the accounts have been audited…

Resolved: That the Berkshire Committee of the National Relief Fund be dissolved.

National Relief Fund: Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1)

Now that the war is over a burden has been lifted from many hearts

Another opportunity to celebrate the peace.

HARVEST FESTIVAL

It is proposed to hold the usual Harvest Festival Thanksgiving Services on Sunday, September 28th, when special music, appropriate to the occasion, will be rendered by the Church Choir.

The Harvest Festival is always a glad day… Now that the war is over a burden has been lifted from many hearts, and this should give us all increased cause for gratitude and praise….

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, September 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Peace Sports at Palmer Park

Central Continuation School, Reading
24th September 1919

The afternoon being the occasion of the children’s peace sports, all the elementary schools of the Borough are closed.

George Palmer Boys’ School, Reading
24th September 1919

Closed in afternoon for “Peace Sports” at Palmer Park.

St John’s School, Reading
Sept 25th

Half holiday given on Wed. 24th inst for children to attend “Peace” Sports at Palmer Park.

Emmer Green
24th September 1919

The school was closed this afternoon on account of the Peace Festival Sports which were held at Palmer Park.

Log books of Central Continuation School, Reading (89/SCH/8/9); George Palmer Boys’ School, Reading (89/SCH/8/1); St John’s School, Reading (D/P172/28A/23); Emmer Green CE School (R/ES8/3)