“The villages have been ruthlessly pillaged, burnt, and razed to the ground”

A Reading man writes of his latest experiences at the front – and the death of a friend.

Our “Boys”

This terrible war has taken from us yet another of our brave soldier lads. Horace Pinker, who quite recently lost his brother and mother, was killed in France on the 5th of April. May the God of all comfort be very near to his father, sisters and brother – to console them in their keen sorrow!

The following extract from a letter sent by Eric Chapman to his mother is especially interesting, as it refers to the circumstances and death of his friend:-

“To return to my personal doings, it is unnecessary of course for me to allude to the German retirement on the western front, seeing that the papers are full of it. As you must have guessed, this has made a great difference to our lives, as we have had to be constantly hot on their heels. At times we come to close quarters with them, but on the whole they do not show much fight, and easily surrender or retire. The country over which we are advancing has been most thoroughly and diabolically destroyed. The villages have been ruthlessly pillaged, burnt, and razed to the ground. Not a thing of any value has been left behind by these barbarians. Even the young fruit trees have been deliberately maimed and rendered incapable of bearing fruit. Naturally this has made it most hard for us following in their tracks, as they intended it should, but we are able to overcome all difficulties and continue our victorious advance. There is not the slightest doubt we are winning by force of arms and smashing the Huns back to their own country. May the end come suddenly and speedily!

“Our battalion has just returned from a special attack, in which it distinguished itself, and about which the Colonel has given permission to write, so I am quite in order in relating a few facts without giving valuable information away. Our objective was a large village, fortified and held by the Huns. We commenced the attack in the early hours of the morning, and had to advance a distance of over 2,000 yards, before we came to grips with the enemy. It was snowing slightly at the time and a thin layer covered the ground as the men moved forward in waves to the attack. After we got fairly going I felt strangely exhilarated, and, much to my surprize quite unconcerned by the possibility of danger. The Huns yelled when they saw us coming, but our fellows yelled still louder, and never wavered a moment under the enemy’s fire. Barbed wire impeded our movements to a small extent, but in short time we had reached the village and were careering like mad through the streets. The Huns did not stand a ghost of a chance then, as our men paid back old scores, and in a few seconds they were doing their best to retreat. Many got back to tell the tale to Hindenburg, but I am thankful to say many not. It was not long before the whole village was in our hands, and after we had consolidated our gain we had some sport looking for souvenirs. The most interesting thing to us was the Germans’ rations which they left behind. Some of the men ate them, but although I am not dainty on this job, I did not have! The meat looked tempting enough, but had the undoubted characteristics of worn-out cab horse!

“I am glad to say our casualties on this occasion were comparatively few, although I regret to have to relate the death in action of Horace Pinker. He was killed by a bullet, and died before the stretcher–bearers could get him to the dressing station. It is very sad for his people, but they can have the satisfaction of knowing that he died bravely and nobly, and was accorded a decent burial.”

It has long been felt that we have not done all that we might for those of our numbers who are taking part in this bitter struggle. At Christmas our young people collected enough to send parcels to all on the Institute Roll of Honour. Now it is wished to do the same for the others, and the kind help and generous support of all our friends if asked. We feel confident that this appeal will not be made in vain! Contributions may be sent to Miss Gough, Mrs. Hamilton Moss, Mrs. Streeter, or Miss Austin.

Trinity Congregational magazine, May 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

“The dear boy was not 19 years of age”

Two families in Cookham Dean had to face the worst news of their beloved sons.

Roll of Honour

Sincere sympathy must be expressed with Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton Hobson, of Dean House, in the loss of their brave young son, Geoffrey Hamilton Hobson, 2nd Lieut., Hampshire Regiment, who died of wounds received in action early in the month. The dear boy was not 19 years of age.

Our very sincere sympathy also is with the wife and parents and other relatives of Pte. John Usher, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, the news of whose death from wounds, on April 24th, has been (unofficially) received.

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

“Our purpose that we may be worthy of you and help to make England ‘God’s own Country’ when you come home”

Winkfield remembered its soldiers at Easter.

MY DEAR FRIENDS,

In writing briefly to wish you all a happy Easter, there is I feel sure but little need to ask you not to forget our Soldiers and Sailors in prayer on Easter Day. I am sending men from our parish an Easter card with the assurance that we at the old Church at home shall be praying for them at our Easter Communion, and with the following message:

“We send you this card to remind you of the Easter flowers at Home, of our love and prayers for you in your great sacrifice for us, of our purpose that we may be worthy of you and help to make England ‘God’s own Country’ when you come home. Will you join with us on Easter Day in thanking God that He sent His Son to suffer and die that He might open the Gate of Life to all who trust in His Great Sacrifice for them, and that He lives to be our ever present Friend.”

The celebration of the Holy Communion on Easter Day will be at 6, 8.15, and midday at the parish Church, and at 7 at S. Mary the Less, and the names of our men at the Front will be mentioned at all these Services.
Your sincere Friend and Vicar,
H. M. MAYNARD

With sorrow we have to record this month another addition to our Roll of Honour, for Private Edward Holloway of the 6th Royal Berks Regiment died of wounds received in action on February 23rd. A memorial service was held at S. Mary the Less on March 4th, when there was a large congregation, full of sympathy for his young widow and his bereaved parents who have three other sons now at the Front.

Private Edward Fancourt has joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry, and Private Cecil Brant the Cyclist Corps of the 11th Berks Yeomanry.

Private Henry Clayton, who recently joined the 2nd Hants Regiment, has now gone out to the Front.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, April 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/4)

Well and serving in France

Rumours spread fast in wartime, as the people of Bracknell found.

A rumour appears to be widely spread in Bracknell to the effect that Bullbrook Schools are to be turned into a military hospital. We can assure the parents and scholars that there is no sort of foundation for this rumour.

* * *

THE ROLL OF HONOUR.

One of our Bracknell men, Earnest Napper, of the Royal Engineers, has been killed in France and has left a wife and three little children.

Official news has also now reached Mrs. George Fish of the death of her husband last October. He too has left a young family.

Co. Hugh Stanton has been wounded and is in hospital in France.

Oswald Blay, who nine months ago was officially reported missing, has now been heard of. He wrote a post card to his relatives stating that he was well and serving in France, but they have so far had no explanations to account either for the report of his being missing or of his long silence.

We congratulate Mr. Taylor, our Station Master, on the Military Medal which has been awarded to his son Vernon.

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Magazine, March 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/3)

Conscientious objectors honoured

It is unusual to see a conscientious objector listed on a church’s roll of honour.

Spencer’s Wood Roll of Honour.

Tom Allen, Canadian.
Cpl. W. Appleby, R.B.
*Edward Beales, R.B.
Alfred Beken, R.F.A.
*Arthur Bradfield,R.B.
*Archie Butler, Territorials.
Fred Card, R.E.
Charlie Clacey, R.N.
Tom Clements, R.F.C.
Will Clements, A.S.C.
Ted Clements, R.F.A.
Frank Cocks, R.B.
Charlie Cocks, R.B.
Harry Coffill, R.N.
Charlie Day, R.B.
Dick Day, Devon Regt.
Jacob Didcock, R.N.
Cpl. Fred Didcock.
Sgt. W.Doherty, Man. Regt.
*Jim Double, R.E.
Percy Double, R.B.
Chappie Double, R.B.
Sgt. Kenneth Eggleton, A.M.C.
E. Eggleton.
E. Foster, R.E.
Sgt. Hawkins, R.B.
Reginald Jewell. R.B. (wounded).
Reginald Lee, R.A.M.C.
Edgar Lee, R.E.
Wilfred Lowe, R.F.C.
Leonard Luckwell, Coldstream Guards.
Walter Luckwell, R.F.A.
A. Marcham, R.B.
A.H. Marcham, R.B.
Jolly Middleton.
Arthur Middleton.
Sydney Middleton, R.F.C.
Harry Moss, A.S.C.
Arthur Moss, A.S.C.
Albert Povey, R.B.
William Povey, R.B. (prisoner of war).
– Sloper (C. objector).
Fred Swain, A.S.C.
Bert Swain, A.S.C.
Leonard Swain, Coldstream Guards.
S. Tiller.
*Alfred Watkins, Canadian.
George Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Edwin Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Charles Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Sgt. Wallace Webb, C.C.
Stanley Webb, R.F.A.
Lieut. William Wheeler, C.Dr.
Owen Wheeler, R.E.
Lce-Cpl. H. Wheeler, R.B.
*Laurie White, R.N.
Frank Wilson, R.F.A.
William Wilson, R.B.
Fred Wiseman, East Kent.

*Has made the supreme sacrifice for King and Country.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, March 1917 (D/EX1237/1/12)

A prisoner of war in Germany

A Cookham Dean man had been taken prisoner.

Roll of Honour
With sincere regret and sympathy we hear that Corporal H. Winkworth, Royal Berkshire Regiment, is a prisoner of war in Germany.

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

“A special grief that a young life so full of promise should have been brought thus prematurely to a close”

A Reading teenager’s burial at the front is described.

Trinity Roll of Honour.

Two more of our “boys” are this month enrolled, one of whom, we are sorry to hear, has already made the supreme sacrifice.

John Bernard Eighteen.
Henry Thomas Eighteen (Killed).


Marsden Cooper.

It is the deepest regret that we have to record the death in action of another of our young men who have gone out from our Church. After a brief two months only at the front, Second Lieutenant Marsden Cooper has fallen in the fight for his country and the right. He was an Officer full of the highest promise, having done well in everything he attempted. Our deep sympathy goes out to Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper in their bereavement.

We print an extract from the Chaplain’s letter to his parents:

“Though he had not been here long he had impressed everyone with his constant cheerfulness and straightforwardness of his character. We laid him to rest in a little Cemetery just behind the firing line late on Saturday evening. There had been some difficulty in preparing the grave owing to a sudden and somewhat violent bombardment, but about 7.45 the news was brought to our dug-out that all was ready and we felt out way out along the communication trench and then over it to the Cemetery.

It was so dark that we could not see that we had arrived at the place until one of the pioneers spoke to us. There were seven or eight of us all told, and as we stood around the open grave we repeated the words, ‘Be thou faithful unto death, and we will give thee the crown of life,’ and ‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ and together we thank God that your boy had not counted his life dear unto himself, but had laid it down for King and Country. I may not, of course say where the grave is, but I have forwarded full particulars with map reference to the Authorities. “A small wooden cross with durable inscription has been made by the Battalion Pioneers, and was placed in position on the following day.”

The following is the appreciative testimony of the Headmaster of Reading School:

“The deceased officer was only 19 years of age, and went to the front in the Worcestershire’s about the middle of December, shortly after completing his course at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was educated at Reading School, where he gained a Council Scholarship in 1909. His School career was unusually distinguished. In 1914 he gained a School Certificate, followed the next year by a Higher Certificate. In response to his country’s call, he decided to take a commission, and in the entrance examination for the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, held in February, 1916, he came out second on the list, gaining a prize Cadetship.

At Sandhurst his success was no less pronounced than at School, and he gained the position of sergeant in his cadet unit the highest position a cadet can obtain before he left the College. Not only had he considerable intellectual gifts, as his record shows, but he was a fine athlete as well. He was an excellent all-round cricketer, and his natural powers as a bowler would have enabled him to make his mark in really good company. As a Rugby football player he showed great promise, and before he left school he had the distinction of being captain of football, captain of cricket, and captain of the School. Yet he was never elated by success, and perhaps it was more than anything his modesty which made him so popular with the boys and masters alike. Those who have watched his career for the last two years, and marked the way in which his development always seemed to keep pace with his new responsibilities, feel a special grief that a young life so full of promise should have been brought thus prematurely to a close.”

Trinity Congregational Church, Reading: magazine, February 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

Greater love hath no man than this

Caversham men’s service was honoured.

ANOTHER DISTINCTION FOR CAVERSHAM.

Hearty congratulations to 2nd Lieut. A.F.C. Hill, upon receiving the Military Cross for gallant conduct with the Salonika Expeditions. This is the fourth Military Cross awarded to Caversham men, the other recipients being the Rev. C.W.O. Jenkyn, Army Chaplain; 2nd Lieut. D.T. Cowan, A. and S. Highlanders; and Sergt.-Major Wilfred Lee, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.

Lieut. E.J. Churchill, R.E., has been “mentioned in dispatches.”

Sergt. E. Canning, of 1/4TH Royal Berks, is one of the two non-commissioned officers selected out of his battalion for the honour of a Commission.

Caversham roll of honour.

“Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friend”

Name, Ship or Regiment and address, Date of death
(more…)

Did all the Christmas parcels reach the soldiers last year?

Burghfield parish was planning to send out Christmas gifts to its men serving in the armed forces for a second time.

CHRISTMAS PARCELS

It is particularly requested that parents or wives of bonafide Burghfield men absent from home on service in this country or abroad will send me, if they have not already done so, their present correct address and description, especially if there has been any change since the Roll of Honour was hung in the Church porch last summer. Last year a number of parcels were never acknowledged, and very possibly were never received owing to wrong addresses, and this year it is not proposed to send parcels to men, about whom there is any doubt.

The information ought to reach me not later than December 4th for France, and December 10th for England. Parcels for the East have already gone.

H G Willink, Hillfields.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1916 (D/EX725/3)

Dolton, Murley and Reed

More Reading men joined up.

The Vicars Notes
All Saint’s District
Roll of Honour

The following additional have been sent in for remembrance at the Altar.

Albert Edward Dolton, William Ashley Murley, Ronald Reed.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P98/28A/14)

“We now have several families in which no less than five sons are serving King and Country”

Men from across Reading were joining up in their droves.

All Saint’s District
Congratulations

Our heartiest congratulations to Capt. A.H. Norris, R.A.M.C. on being awarded the Military Cross.

Roll Of Honour

The following additional names have been sent in for remembrance at the Alter:

Donald Anderson, William Ayres, Bert Ayres, Thomas William George Bernard, Frank Ernest Butler, Lawrence Darwall, Frederick Charles Dolton, Cecil Hankey Dickson King, Vivian Majendie, Arthur Ernest New, Arthur Herbert Norris, Norman Alexander Norris, Rowland Victor Norris, Harold Sales, Richard James Saunders, Joseph Styles, George Thomas, Frank Thomas, James Young.

It may be of interest to note that we now have several families in which no less than five sons are serving King and Country.

S. Saviours District
R.I.P.

Two more of our young men have, we hear, laid down their lives for their country. Sidney Ostridge, brother of Alfred Ostridge, server at S. Saviour’s, has been killed in France; and Corporal Walter Paice, son of Mrs. Lane, a faithful worshipper at S. Saviour’s, was killed instantly in action on the night of October 3rd, near Salonika, to the great regret of his comrades, officers and men, among whom he was very popular. Their families are assured of our sincerest sympathy. The officer of one of them writes: “He died a noble death,” and a sergeant writes: “ He was laid to rest just behind us and the Chaplain held the service and placed a Cross at the head of the grave.” There is hope in the Cross.

S. Marks District
R.I.P.

It was with very great regret that we heard Private G. W. Davis had been killed in action. He was very well known and respected in this District, and we offer to his widow and all his relations our very sincere sympathy.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P98/28A/14)

“All true life involves sacrifice”

Newbury parish church followed its neighbours in Thatcham in purchasing a copy of “The Great Sacrifice” by James Clark (1858-1943). The original painting is now at the Battenberg Chapel on the Isle of Wight as a memorial to Prince Henry of Battenberg, a grandson of Queen Victoria who was killed at Ypres.

An oil painting of the well-known picture “The Great Sacrifice” has been placed in the church by an anonymous donor; underneath the picture is a board surrounded with a laurel wreath, and on this board may be placed the names of those who have died in the war. Cards for this purpose may be obtained from the Church House. We trust that this memorial may not only keep in our minds our young men’s noble sacrifice, but may remind us of the fact that all true life involves sacrifice, after the One Perfect Example.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, November 1916 D/P89/28A/13

Weatherproof war shrines

Churches in Clewer set up outdoor shrines as a focus for intercessory prayer for those fighting overseas.

St. Andrew’s Parish Church, Clewer

A strong desire has been expressed to erect War Shrines in different parts of the Parish, as has been done elsewhere. We hope very shortly to organize through a Committee the carrying out of the work. We feel sure that all will be glad to contribute, and thus show their affection for those who are so dear to us and so much in need of our prayers.

St. Agnes’, Clewer

Before this Magazine is out the first of our War Shrines will probably be up: but as one alone can only take a comparatively few names, you will no doubt wish for several Shrines. You will have already seen that the first column on the Roll of Honour contains the names of those who are serving their Country, and the second column the names of those who have fallen in the war. These Rolls of Honour are of course for the names of those only who have gone from this District, as it is the system which is being adopted throughout the Country. One advantage of our Shrines is that they are weatherproof, and can therefore be left out day and night.

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P39/28A/9)

The war on its spiritual side

Burghfield was ready for the National Mission, as it mourned the deaths of two more of its young men.

THE NATIONAL MISSION OF REPENTANCE AND HOPE

Before this is in the hands of our readers we shall all have had the opportunity of hearing “God’s Message to England” from the lips of our special Messenger….

A copy of our Missioner’s letter, together with a list of the special services, has been distributed (I hope) to every house in the parish, but we think it will be well to preserve a copy of the letter in the magazine as a permanent record.

Missioner’s Letter

My dear friends

Our Bishop has given me the great privilege, and laid upon me the great responsibility, of carrying the message of the National Mission to you in Burghfield…

High and low, rich and poor, priest and people, all alike need the message; all alike must be humble, and ready to listen. As with the War, so with this; we are all in it, and none must stand aloof. Indeed it is the War, the War on its spiritual side, the War of a people of God against sin, selfishness, misery, and all that takes the joy and innocence out of a people’s life. And I, though a sinful man not worthy of my office, come to you in God’s name, bearing His word, declaring His promise, bringing His gifts, to help you to do our part at home for our dear native land, as the lads are doing it in other ways abroad.

Yours faithfully in Christ Jesus our Lord

Allen E. Dams

ROLL OF HONOUR

We regret to announce two more deaths during the past month.

1. William Vockins, aged 19, of Pinge Wood. He was severely wounded in the head and sent home to a London hospital, where he died on October 4th. On the previous day the poor boy, helped by his nurse, wrote a few lines to his mother to say that he felt a little better! He was confirmed in our church in March 1913.

2. Frank Pearse, aged 25, the elder son of our district nurse, was killed instantaneously by a shell in France on October 3rd. We remember him as an upright and manly young fellow, a member of our choir and a communicant. He had been in France for 14 months. His mother wishes to express her appreciation of all the sympathy she has rceieved from so many parishioners and friends. R.I.P.

Burghfield parish magazine, November 1916 (D/EX725/3)

Progress at a terrible cost

There was more sad news for Reading families.

The Vicar’s Notes

Though the Allies have made great progress in the War, yet it is a progress at a terrible cost, and there have been many families who have lost those near and dear to them during the past month.

Of one, Guy Bartholomew, the extracts from the following letter speak for themselves:

“As a subaltern in your son’s Company, and as a friend of his out her for more than 12 months, I wish to write and tell you of my own and the Company’s sympathy for you in your loss. His death is the most grievous loss suffered by the Battalion since its formation. In him we have all lost a great friend, whose example and wonderful devotion to everything that was right have been of incalculable service to many out here.”

All Saint’s District
The War

Our Heartiest congratulations to Commander J.W. Carrington on gaining the Distinguished Service Order, and to Private A.J. Purcell on being awarded the Military Cross. Our deepest sympathy to the parents and friends of many of our young men who have been killed in action, or reported missing or wounded.

Roll of Honour

Percy Borreet, John Warburton Phillips, Arthur James Purchell, William John Purchell.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, October 1916 (D/P98/28A/13)