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)

“His splendid bravery inspired all troops in the vicinity to rise for the occasion”

An experienced officer who in peacetime had worked managing a Wargrave estate was one of the few to be honoured with the Victoria Cross for his great courage. Oliver Spencer Watson (1876-1918) is buried in France.

The Late Lieut.-Col. O. C. Spencer Watson, V.C.

A supplement to the “London Gazette” of May 8th gave the following particulars respecting the award of the V.C. to Lieut.-Col. O. C. Spencer Watson, D.S.O. (Reserve of Officers), late King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry:

“For most conspicuous bravery, self-sacrificing devotion to duty during a critical period of operations. His command was at a point where continual attacks were made by the enemy in order to pierce the line, and an intricate system of old trenches in front, coupled with the fact that his position was under constant rifle and machine gun fire, rendered the situation more dangerous. A counter attack had been made against the enemy position, which at first achieved its object, but as they were holding out in two impoverished points Lieut.-Col. Watson saw that immediate action was necessary, and he let his remaining small reserve to the attack, organising bombing parties and leading attacks under intense rifle and machine gun fire.

Outnumbered, he finally ordered his men to retire, remaining himself in a communication trench to cover the retirement, though he faced almost certain death by so doing. The assault he led was at a critical moment, and without doubt saved the line. Both in the assault and in covering his men’s retirement he held his life as nothing, and his splendid bravery inspired all troops in the vicinity to rise for the occasion and save a breach being made in a hardly tried and attenuated line. Lieut.-Col. Watson was killed while covering the withdrawal.”

“The Times” of May 11th gave the following particulars, respecting Lieut.-Col. Watson: –

He was the youngest son of the late W. Spencer Watson, F.R.C.S., and was educated at St Paul’s and passed into the Army from Sandhurst, being gazetted to the Yorks Light Infantry in 1897. He was invalided in 1904, after taking part in the Tirah campaign 1897-1898, in which he was dangerously wounded, and in the China campaign of 1900, receiving the medal for each of these campaigns, in the first case with two clasps.

In 1910 he joined a Yeomanry regiment, and on the outbreak of war went with them to Egypt as captain and took part in the fighting on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Promoted major, he came home to join a battalion of the Y.O.Y.L.I., going with them to France early in 1917. In May of that year he was dangerously wounded at Bullecourt, and received D.S.O. for gallantry and leadership.

He returned to the front last January, although he had not recovered from the effect of his wound; was shortly afterwards promoted lieut-colonel, and was killed in action on March 28th. Lieut-Colonel Watson was a keen sportsman, and was known locally as a good cricketer, boatman, and footballer, as well as a straight rider to hounds. Up to the time that he joined the forces in the present conflict he had been the estate agent to Sir Charles Henry, Bart., M.P., at Parkwood, and managed the Farm at Crazies Hill.

Wargrave parish magazine, June 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

“2 Divisions ran away & so caused Cambrai defeat”

Florence Vansittart Neale was puzzled as how to manage Bisham Abbey with less food available, while the news – and rumours – continued to fascinate her.

1 January 1918
Worried morning over rations. Very difficult but must do it. Edith arranging next Sunday’s “chain of prayer”.

January 1918 [inserted at front, no date]

Hear Haig in London, very sick about things. He had refused to send Divisions to Italy, but had to. Wanted to resign. He said a great deal too much fuss made about Sir J Byng’s push & also a great deal about the subsequent retreat!

Hear we send up stuff against [balloons?] which make the men so deadly seasick they have to come down. On return Irish leave this Xmas, 1000s stuck at Holyhead 5 days. Too many submarines there. At last escorted over by American destroyer & gun boats.

Hear 2 Divisions ran away & so caused Cambrai defeat. Hear General [illegible] sent back after it., then returned by Army Council & again sent back after St Quentin retreat! Hunter-Weston “honouring heroic deed” (drunken Tommie). Foch becoming Generalissimo (March 1918).

Meat & butter rations begin.

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

“Our Soldiers are doing great things in France, we who are at home must do our part”

Warfield and Bracknell commemorated the second anniversary of the start of the war.

Warfield

AUGUST 4th.-

The Vicar is unable to hold the Anniversary of the War Service this year on August 4th, as the Bishop has called all the Clergy into retreat that week in preparation for the National Mission. The special services will be held on Sunday, August 6th. In addition to the usual services, there will be a very short Open-Air Service at the cross roads near the Brownlow Hall at 6 o’clock, where the procession will be formed, headed by the Processional Cross and Banners to reach the Church at 6.30. We hope to see all our parishioners on this special occasion in the procession, to testify to their trust in God, Who alone can give us the victory.

Bracknell

On August 4th we shall enter on the third year of the war. It is right that we should once again make a special appeal to Almighty God to bless our efforts in the cause of honour and justice. We shall therefore respond to the appeal of our Archbishop and offer our petitions for God’s protection and blessing.

With our prayers we must make our thanksgivings for the blessings that have already been given to us. When we recollect all that has happened in the last two years, and the dangers we have passed through, we shall see how much we have to be thankful for; and yet how much need there is for God’s continued help in the difficulties and anxieties that surround us still!

There will be a special service at 8 p.m. on Friday August 4th, and some alterations will be made in the order of services on August 6th, and all who can will no doubt join in the Prayers and Thanksgivings that will be offered. Our Soldiers are doing great things in France, we who are at home must do our part and support them with our earnest prayers.

Warfield and Bracknell sections of Winkfield District Magazine, August 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/8)

“An engaging personality, but not a convincing one”

Sybil Campbell was not impressed by Sir Ian Hamilton, the commander in charge of the Dardanelles expedition.

32 Addison Road
Kensington, W
Nov. 10/15

I met Sir Ian Hamilton at a small dinner the night you were here. I asked him [whether?] 12 ships had been lost, had the Dardenelles [sic] been forced. “More likely 5” was the answer. But – if not supported on land? He believes with material we shall get thro’; but he said a retreat meant the Turk’s bayonet in the back of the rear guard, & the sea for drowning. He was very human & indiscreet. I asked about Ralph. He said “very brilliant, & snubbed by GHQ as all men of ideas are”. Told me he was now in the Flying Corps, or rather on its Staff.

Asked, how did I know him, “only aunt”, I replied. He was much surprised. He looks wasted to a shadow & told me of the enteritis diarrhoea the germ produces, the same can enter the bile ducts & give jaundice which I suppose made R. look so yellow. I think you will find K. is there, & not soon to return. It may be it is he or Birdwood who will get “the Gloire”. Ian Hamilton is an engaging personality, I have long known him, but not a convincing one…

Yrs gratefully
[Sybil]

Letter from Sybil Campbell to Lady Mary Glyn (D/EGL/C31)

“The Huns do not spare a thing”

The voice of ordinary working class soldiers is often hard to find, but here is a letter from a Stratfield Mortimer man to the vicar of his church at home:

A Letter from the Front
We are glad to print the following extracts from a letter to Canon Lovett Cameron from Private C. E. White, 73rd Co. A.S.C. M.T-

I am all right, and like it out here very much. I am very glad now that I joined the Army, as it must be awful for a man walking the roads of England knowing that this is a life and death struggle and doing nothing for their country, or I may put it for their own homes. They ought to see a few towns of Belgium, then they might realise the nature of this terrible war. The Huns do not spare a thing. There is a most lovely church not far from here; as I expect, you know the churches here are splendid; this church which I have seen myself they have reduced to ruins, and have torn up the graveyard by their shell fire. It is most wicked…

We get plenty of good food, also plenty of clothing… You ought to see some of the roads here, awful to drive over, holes in places 2 ft. deep, and with all this rain very slippery. We have about 180 lorries and over 700 men in this Company. We got through the retreat from Antwerp all right, and up to now have only lost 2 men killed and 3 injured, that was at Ypres, the Germans shelled us there.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, April 1915 (D/P120/28A/14)