A necessary bit of war work

There was a call for men to join the Police Reservists and help maintain law and order at home.

EARLEY SUB-DIVISION BERKS POLICE SPECIAL RESERVE

Owing to removals and army munition work our numbers are becoming very much reduced, and we would earnestly ask any men in the parish of Earley, whether living in the Borough [of Reading] or not, who are not already acting as Specials or Reservists to come and give us a hand in this necessary bit of war work. After all, to patrol for 3 hours once a month from 9-12 pm is not a very great thing to ask, and there must be many men who could if they would come forward and thus ease the strain on those who have been quietly and steadily doing this work for over 3 years.

The Rev. H Wardley King, 1, Green Road, who is undertaking the duties of Sub-Divisional Officer pro tem, will be very grateful to receive names of any willing to help.

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:

Cecil Webb, Herbert Plumer, Walter Smithers, Ernest Thompson, John Edwards, Eric Burchell.

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

SICK OR WOUNDED: Duncan Simson, Levi Rackley, Charles Barton, George Bungay, Samuel Dee, George Embery, Ernest Embery, Benjamin Rickards, Albert Gray, Herbert Harper, Herbert Oliver, Clifford Holliday, Thomas Ilott, Arthur O’Dell, Owen Lewington, John Phillips.

KILLED: Charles Bowden, William Murphy, William Wynn, John Hitchcock, Albert Hosler.

MISSING: Arthur Langmead.

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

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Happy evenings

Soldiers training at home were grateful for the hospitality shown by Reading people.

Our Soldiers’ Club

This is now well established and a steady increase in the attendance testifies to the appreciation of the comforts provided. Though only open a fortnight, the following letter is the grateful testimony of one who came every night and looked on the Club as “home”:- Reading 20/10/17.

Dear Mr. Stevens, –

You no doubt will be surprised to learn that I am leaving Reading this afternoon for Tidworth. It came very unexpectedly. I cannot let this occasion pass without tendering very heartfelt thanks for the way that I have received and the kindness shown to me by various gentlemen of the soldiers’ club. In fact, I will always look back upon the happy evenings which I spent there with very pleasant memories. I cannot tell you how I feel in leaving Reading, but will always maintain that the Trinity Congregational Church Soldiers Club is worthy of the highest credit which it thoroughly deserves, and I sincerely hope and trust that the good work will continue and that Miss Austin will sell the refreshments better than ever.

Again thanking you one and all,

Believe me, I remain,

Yours Sincerely,

John J. Kingdom.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, November 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

We joyfully welcome men home on leave

There was news of men from Trinity Church in Reading.

Trinity Roll of Honour

We regret that last month we inadvertently omitted the following.

Samuel Henry Baker, 6th L.R.O. Co., att. Royal Fusiliers.
Fred B. Gleave, now 2nd Lieut. Labour Battalion.

We joyfully welcome home on leave Douglas Elsbury, Walter Harding, and Charles Bostwick. All look very fit and well.

Charles Wagner, too, is with us again, being an inmate of Wilson Hospital with his left arm and hand badly broken. We are glad that now he is steadily improving.

Bert Prior is still in hospital with a wounded shoulder, but is doing well.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

A pretty wedding at Bisham

Nurse Elizabeth Vansittart Neale, co-heiress of Bisham Abbey, had enjoyed a wartime romance with 27 year old officer Leo Paget, and today was their wedding day – at Bisham Church. Mother Florence’s diary entry was brief:

20 October 1917

Bubs’ wedding day.

However, she went into more detail in another book she kept.

20th October 1917
Elizabeth married Capt Leo Paget – Rifle Brigade. Wedding took place in Bisham Church – very pretty – good music with Dr. Bath at organ & Marlow choir boys to reinforce ours.

Over 60 guests at luncheon, almost all relations.

Bridal pair repaired [?] to Reading to Malets Cottage at Norcot–Lynton [?].

Young Paget came over on leave from the front in France – he arrived the day before the wedding- he had 2 weeks leave (4 days extra for marriage).

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); Bisham estate memorandum book (D/EX73/1/8/2, p. 222)

The introduction of compulsory service has rather changed the situation

The parish of Burghfield was keeping track of local men serving in the war.

THE WAR

The Roll of Honour

A list kept by the Rector, of those Burghfield men who since the beginning of the war have laid down their lives for their country and the just cause of the Allies, hangs near the reading-desk in the Church.

The full Roll, including those who have offered and been accepted for immediate or deferred service, is kept up to date by Mr. Willink so far as possible, and hangs in the Church Porch. The introduction of compulsory service has rather changed the situation: but he will be glad to receive names of men not already on the Roll but actually serving, together with the exact title of their ship or unit, also notice of any honours or promotions, wounds or deaths.

The list of wounded is growing long. Happily most cases are light. But it should be known by everybody that any disabled man is entitled to free training, if necessary or possible in some trade, and to be helped in finding employment. Information can be obtained at any Post Office. In cases of delay or difficulty in this matter, or in regard to Pensions or Allowances, applications should be made to the Berkshire War Pensions Committee through Mr. or Mrs Willink, who are on the Reading Rural Sub Committee.

Honours

Colonel Sir Wyndham Murray, of Culverlands, formerly C.B whose distinguished services in past times are well known, has been made K.C.B. He has acted as King’s Messenger during the War, and has repeatedly visited the front. He and Lady Murray have also received certain Japanese decorations.

Captain G. O. W. Willink was mentioned in Despatches in May, and has just been awarded the Military Cross for distinguished conduct in August. He has commanded “A” Coy in the 2/4 R. Berks Regt. Since he went out in July 1916, and has seen service in many parts of the line in France and Flanders.

Burghfield parish magazine, October 1917 (D/EX725/4)

Wounded soldiers get a space for reading, writing and social intercourse

Broad Street Congregational Church’s latest effort was to offer organised entertainment to wounded soldiers who had been aimlessly wandering the streets.

HOSPITALITY TO SOLDIERS

On Monday October 15th, a new movement was inaugurated in our Schoolroom. For some time previously various members of the congregation has been impressed with the idea that something should be done for the Wounded Soldiers who gather each afternoon in Broad Street, and who appeared to need a place where they could rest (particularly in wet weather), play games, and be able to obtain light refreshments. It was felt that there was need of something of the same sort being done for other men and women in khaki in the town in the evening. These matters were considered by the Church members, and ultimately it was decided that an attempt should be made to meet the needs referred to, and a Committee immediately got to work, with the result that the Schoolroom and two adjoining rooms were ready for occupation by the soldiers on the 15th.

Subsequent events have proved that the needs were even greater than we thought. From the very first the undertaking has been a success. The various Military Hospitals and billeting places had been informed, by printed handbill, of our arrangements, and this was all that was necessary. Almost as soon as the doors were opened, our wounded friends began to arrive, and every afternoon since they have been coming to Broad Street in large numbers. Each evening, too, there is a good attendance of men and women in khaki. Our visitors are allowed to amuse themselves in the way they deem best. Some make good use of the writing room, in which writing-paper and envelopes are provided without cost; whilst others join in one or other of the various games. Magazines and papers are supplied for those who care to read them; and the piano is in almost constant use by those who enliven the whole proceedings. The original intention was to try the experiment for a month, but the success was such that it has now been decided to continue indefinitely. It has also been decided to meet a further need by opening the rooms for reading, writing and social intercourse each Sunday afternoon from 4 to 6.15 pm.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Khaki Socials have proved a great boon to very many

Soldiers and airmen were entertained weekly on Sunday evenings at Broad Street Church in Reading.

Now that the darker evenings are upon us, arrangements have been made to resume the “Khaki Socials”, which have been held every Sunday evening in the winter months since shortly after the war began. These Socials have proved a great boon to very many. Sunday, October 14th, is the day fixed for re-opening, and we shall hope to see then many of our old friends, and many new ones also.

The running of these Socials – seeing that light refreshments are provided free of cost – involves us in expense. But of this we shall have more to say in our next month’s issue.

The many friends of Lieut. Oswald Francis (son of our friends, Mr and Mrs Ernest Francis) will be glad to hear that he has been awarded the Military Cross “for exceptional valour and devotion to duty through the battles east of Ypres” in August. We heartily congratulate both Lieut. Francis and his parents on the honour which he has won, and we earnestly hope he may live for many years to enjoy it.

The aforementioned article appeared in the October church magazine. There was a follow up report in December:

KHAKI SOCIALS

The Khaki Socials which have proved such an interesting part of our winter programme since the war began, were resumed after the evening service on Sunday, October 14th. There was a very good attendance for the opening meeting, and the number has increased with each succeeding Sunday. There is no doubt about the popularity of these Socials, nor can there be any doubt of their usefulness. Quite apart from the number attending – which in itself is no mean testimony – we have the frequent expressions of gratitude from those who deeply appreciate what is being done. There is nothing stiff or formal about these gatherings, but a delightful homelike feeling which greatly appeals to our friends in khaki.

Music – vocal and instrumental – and recitations form the chief items in the weekly programme, and these are interspersed with hymns in which all present heartily join.

Members of the Royal Flying Corps have to leave us at 10 o’clock, but most of our other khaki friends remain for the family worship with which we close the proceedings at 9.30 pm.

We are sorry that owing to our limited accommodation we cannot invite more of our Broad Street friends to join us for these gatherings, but we can assure them that, in their name, a very helpful bit of work is being done by the ladies and gentlemen who gladly give their services week by week.

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, October and December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“The toll the war is taking of our men is appalling”

Reading and Caversham property developer Edwin Jesse (1842-1921), currently living in Mapledurham, had seen his sons Edwin (Ted) and Walter, both in their 30s, and his daughter Rose’s husband, off to fight in the war, and the family had now heard bad news of the latter.

13/10/17

Dear Uncle

I am indeed very sorry to hear the sad news of the death of [his cousin] Rosie’s husband. It must have been a great shock to you all, and you have my sincere sympathy.

The toll the war is taking of our men is appalling.

So Ted and Walter [his cousins] are in France now. I wish them both the best of good luck & trust they may return safely – and soon.

I am so sorry that you should have all this anxiety…

With kind regards

Your affectionate nephew
E. S. Herbert

Letter from E S Herbert to Edwin Jesse (D/EX1942/1/1/40/59)

Art in an internment camp

Albert Cusden, one of four Reading brothers in a civilian internment camp in Germany, wrote home enclosing some pictures of the camp. Albert was a talented amateur artist, and many of his sketches from Ruhleben can be seen at Berkshire Record Office. The camp was famous in later days for the educational efforts run by the internees themselves, many of whom were teachers and academics. Please forgive the non-PC description of an internee from the Caribbean.

Oct 13th 1917
My dear Parents

As mentioned on my card last week, Dick sent off a photo addressed to you, and I sent off five drawings, so they should have arrived by now. Early this week Dick sent off a second photo. There was a special one signed by the group… The ink sketch I sent was of the chemical lab[oratory in] the Camp School. Then there were two charcoal sketches, one a landscape scene and the other a head study. And two pencil head studies, one of a fellow dressed for a part in a play and the other of a darkie. This young darkie, who is from the West Indies, is himself an amateur artist, and has worked at sketching, painting etc quite diligently since he has been here. We have acted as models for one another….

The Savoy Association has been sending clothes parcels to men on their list. Arch & I have just received ours. They are very nice parcels and include a thick overcoat. We shall all four be well provided for in this respect this winter, so don’t worry. If you could send on a couple of reels of black cotton or thread we should be glad, as we cannot obtain this here now. Also just a little tape. Don’t send much. Thanks in advance…

We are keeping well in all kinds of weather…

With love to all,

Your affectionate son,
Albert

Letter from Albert Cusden in Ruhleben to Mr & Mrs Cusden, 57 Castle Street, Reading (D/EX1485/4/4/7)

So far recovered from the effects of being gassed, a soldier gets married

There was sad news for many Reading families, but one soldier, home after the nasty experience of being gassed, decided to marry his sweetheart.

The Vicar’s Notes
Intercessions

For our Russian allies in their time of need.

For our own fighting men, and especially for our lads who have just joined the army, particularly Charles Upstone.

For the wounded, especially Percy Viner.

For the fallen, especially Thomas Murray, William Eaton, Albert Ford, George Lawrence, Frederick Lewis. R.I.P.

S. Saviour’s District

R.I.P.
The brass tablet placed in the Church by Miss Ward, and the new Epistle and Gospel lights for the sanctuary, presented by Mrs Ward and Miss Ward, are in memory of the late Evelyn Paget Graves, Major R.A. and R.F.C.

Albert Edward Barnet and Albert Edward Turner are reported killed in France. Our sincere sympathy is with the bereaved families.

Marriage
Our best wishes to Alfred James White (Corporal R.G.A.) and Miss Nellie Allwood, who were married at S. Mary’s on September 1st. We are glad that Corporal White has so far recovered from the effects of being gassed in France.

S. Mark’s district
R.I.P.

It was with great sorrow that we heard that one of our servers, Leonard Pusey, had been killed in France on August 22nd. He had been a server at S. Mark’s for about 7 years and he always took a keen interest in all that was done in connection with the Church; he will be much missed – we offer our sincere sympathy to his wife.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

A big problem at the present time

A teenage boy’s parents needed help getting him training funded, as the rising prices meant salaries no longer stretched as far as they had done before the war.

11th October 1917

Apprenticeship. D. D. Harrison’s charity.

The clerk read the following letter in respect to an application for the apprenticeship premium under Dame Dorothy Harrison’s Charity:-

Boys’ School House, Hurst
26-Sep-1917.

Dear Sir,

I wish to make an application to the trustees of Harrison’s Charity, Hurst, for assistance in apprenticing my boy Leonard Percival Darlington. The lad has just finished his school life & is at present
undergoing preliminary trial at the Pulsometer Works, Reading, with the idea of being indentured in November next. The expenses of educating the lad have been heavy & the premium of £25 required by the Reading firm is a big problem at the present time when prices are so great and the salary of an elementary schoolmaster is not excessive.

I should be much obliged if you would bring my application before the Trustees at their next meeting.

I am, Sirs, yours faithfully,

Leonard A. Darlington.

Mr Darlington attended before the Trustees in support of the above application, his son being unable to leave his employment.

It was resolved on the motion of the Rev’d E. Broome seconded by Mr. H. W. Verey: that the application be acceded to and that Leonard Percival Darlington be awarded an apprenticeship premium of £14 subject to the usual Indenture of Apprenticeship being entered into.

Mr Darlington was informed thereof and undertook to forward the clerk the necessary details for the Indenture when he had finally completed his arrangements with the Pulsometer Company.

The clerk was directed to insert an addition clause in the Indenture providing that in the event of Darlington being called upon to join the army, a proportionate part of the premium be returned to the Trustees.

Hurst Parochial Charities trustees’ minutes (D/QX30/1/4)

The Church Lads’ Brigade has lost many of its smartest lads, who are now serving in the Forces

The Reading St John branch of the Church Lads’ Brigade was preparing teenage boys for army service.

CLB

The Company is changing its headquarters from the Institute to the Princes Street Mission Room. It has been passing through some stormy times lately, but we feel that it has now weathered the worst, and we look forward to a winter of real progress. There are vacancies for some good recruits, who will be welcomed any Monday from October 8th onwards.

The Company has had a great many changes in the personnel of its officers during the last year, and has lost many of its smartest lads, who are now serving in the Forces. In spite of these difficulties, the drill was very fair, and the uniform clean and correctly worn, and the lads steady on parade… Acting Captain Hawkes is evidently very keen.

Reading St. John parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P172/28A/24)

Beautiful gifts of fruit, vegetables and eggs

Harvest Festival gifts went to local hospitals treating wounded soldiers.

Hare Hatch Notes

The Harvest Festival was held on Sunday, October 7th. The number of communicants and the congregations throughout the day were, in spite of the bad weather, really most encouraging…

The gifts, especially those of fruit and vegetables, were more than we have had before, this in itself was a pleasant sight, but the object to which they were devoted made these gifts more acceptable. Twenty-three new laid eggs were brought by the members of the Sunday School…

Letters of thanks and appreciation have been received as follows…

“The Secretary of the Royal Berks Hospital begs to thank you for your kind present of Harvest gifts for the use of the patients.”

From the Woodclyffe Auxilliary Hospital, Wargrave:

“I need hardly tell you how very much the beautiful gifts of fruit, vegetables etc, from your Harvest Festival are being appreciated, and we send very many thanks to all who sent them. H.R. Marshall, for Commandant.”

Wargrave parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

Pray for Reading men

Prayers were asked for Reading men who had gone to war.

Notes from the Vicar

Intercessions: 2nd Lieut. Cuthbert J. Wollaston Trendell, 8th Norfolks; P.F.O. Mervyn H. Wollaston Trendell, R.N.A.S.

Sick and Wounded: Gunner Goulden; Sapper Chambers.

Departed: Private H.C. Cowley; Rifleman Leonard Smith; Private C. Clarke, Royal Berks Regt.; Gunner S. Crewes, Royal Field Artillery.
R.I.P.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P96/28A/32)

“I could not say there was accommodation enough for a pig (much less a man) anywhere except in the cellars of ruined houses”

Civilians in wartorn northern France and Belgium suffered terribly due to the war.

Movement in Reading in aid of the Relief of Sufferers by the War in France and Belgium.

Friends at Trinity will no doubt be interested to know that a movement in the above direction has been initiated by the Reading Broad Street Brotherhood. The objective is to supplement the efforts now being made in other towns and in the colonies, and in continuation of efforts already made which have abundantly testified to the Christian sympathy which exists towards those who have suffered so acutely through no fault of their own. A relief fund of £20,000 is contemplated, a very large part of which has already been subscribed by Canadians, by London and other cities, towards which also many small towns have contributed nobly and generously.

It is supposed that the good lead of Basingstoke with its generous promise of £100 in cash, besides clothing, &C., Reading will not wish to be excluded from taking part.

It is proposed to collect both in cash and kind, as in some of the large townships in France (Lille in particular, which is the Manchester of France), the civil population – men, women and children – are in rags, not having had any opportunity of purchasing clothing and boots for 2.5 years (since the German occupation).

Clothing (cast-off and new) will therefore prove most acceptable, also boots.

Those who have seen tell us that the homes of the people in the country towns and villages are ruined-walls broken and roofs fallen. A witness on the spot says:

“In a large town it was my orders to report how many houses were fit for billeting British soldiers, and after visiting with a comrade every house in the place (about the size of Reading) there was not a single house with an unbroken roof, and I could not say there was accommodation enough for a pig (much less a man) anywhere except in the cellars of ruined houses such as I and my comrades occupied.”

Wood houses are already being prepared in sections in this country to be despatched to Northern France and Belgium directly the way opens-facilities having been promised for this purpose as soon as possible by our own Government. A wood house thus prepared can be erected by a few men within a day of arrival, and it cost would be about £40. Seed for gardens, food, flour, blankets, &c will also be despatched.

Interested readers can secure further information by sending two penny stamps to the national Brotherhood Offices, 37, Norfolk Street, London, W.C., when they will be supplied with a pamphlet entitled “The Story of Lille, and its associations with the Brotherhood Movement,” and which describes the Brotherhood Crusade of 1909 A.D. and the practical relief already given.

Locally, every Church, adult School, and Christian Society in Reading will later on be invited to join hands with the Relief Committee connected with Broad Street Men’s Brotherhood, the secretary being Mr. A. Woolley, 85, Oxford Street, Reading.

Further information may also be obtained from J. Harper, “Chelmarsh,” 42, Crown Street, Reading.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/EX1237/1)