“The war is ending, it seems, but the misery of it cannot end with it”

More details of Sydney Spencer’s shell shock not long before his final days.

Oldbury House
Tewkesbury
9 Nov 1918

Dear Mrs Image

I was dreadfully sorry to hear of Sydney’s death, & it must have been a bitter shock to you, especially when you knew that there had been no real necessity for him to go back to duty when he did. You will be impatient to hear what Capt Dillon told me – though I fear it is as unsatisfactory as all such information must be.

The MC was given, not for any single piece of bravery, but for continued good work during the battallion’s [sic] attack at Morlanecourt (near Albert) on Aug 8-10 & during the previous period when the company had a difficult time owing to the German attack on the division immediately on its right. Sydney put in a tremendous amount of work – too much, Capt. Dillon says: he was too careless about himself, got quite insufficient sleep & really prepared the way for his break-down & shell-shock. While in this over-taxed state the company got shelled rather badly, & a shell fell pretty close with the result that Sydney succumbed to the trembling kind of shock & had to go to hospital on Aug 10th. He was not actually wounded, except for a tiny scratch on the upper arm, which they put some iodine & a dressing on. When he got to hospital he pretended, for fun, that he had a very bad wound & the nurse took extra care in unbinding it, but enjoyed the joke when the wound was revealed. He told Capt. Dillon on his return that he was only really ill for three days, but Capt. Dillon thought that he had come back too soon & in any case sooner than he need have done.

He was first of all in hospital at Rouen & then spent time at Trouville. On his return he seemed very well & cheerful: Dillon saw him again on Sept 10th. The battalion was then very busy preparing for the attack which was to be made on Sept 18th. On the 17th he & Dillon had a cheerful chat about prospects: & Sydney said they both would get nice Blighty wounds & go back together & be out of it comfortably; he seemed quite confident that he was coming out of the affair with his life. On the 18th Dillon was wounded, & Sydney took his place automatically. The company had a very bad time & almost everybody was knocked out. This accounts for the fact that there is so great difficulty in getting any particulars. The attack took place east of Epehy, & Dillon thinks that in all probability it was there that Sydney was killed. The line was being advanced at the time, & in those circumstances, it is some slight consolation to know, his body would probably be buried decently & the exact spot recorded. If you wished to make any enquiries on that point the Graves Registration people would be the ones to apply to. I am afraid I don’t know their address. Capt. Dillon suggests as possible sources of information Sydney’s batman, the chaplain or the company sergeant-major; but I think you have already tried those people. The other lieutenant who was with Sydney was also killed at the same time.

Capt. Dillon can’t say much about the time Sydney was in hospital, & he does not understand how it is that you have heard nothing about it: for he knew that Sydney was in the habit of writing very full letters about everything. The lack of news from the 5th to 10th was probably due to the amount of fighting that was taking place. Capt. Dillon suggests that you might get some particulars of what was happening from the “Times” of 8th-10th – which however he says is full of mistakes (it was their battalion who took Morlanecourt, & the Americans had no share in it). But I feel that what you want is more personal details, & though I managed to extract some from Capt. Dillon (which I have told you) there are doubtless others which might be pumped out by yourself but hardly could be by anyone else. Capt. Dillon is apparently a very good sort, but rather lacks the faculty of unbosoming himself to strangers. If you do ever meet him you may be able to do better than I have; as to actual historical details I think he gave me all he could. One point he mentioned which may interest you was that Sydney won his MC within a mile or so of the sport where Percy [his brother] was wounded; Percy’s division being the next but one in the line. You may already know this.

I do hope that Percy’s wrist is making good progress: I had no idea that it was so bad as you say, or that his nerves were so badly upset. The war is ending, it seems, but the misery of it cannot end with it.


Yours sincerely
R. Harold Compton

Letter from R Harold Compton to Mrs Florence Image regarding the death in action of her brother Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EZ177/8/24)

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“Our children will inherit a war eviller still”

John Maxwell Image’s latest letter to his old friend W F Smith saw hypocrisy among those advocating the growing of vegetables, while he and Florence heard that both Percy and Sydney had been wounded.

29 Barton Road
1 Sept. ‘18
My very dear ancient

We went to the Botanical Garden the other day, and found the great lawn stripped of grass, and from end to end now green with potatoes – that of course, one expected – but I boiled with wrath when great beds, which had been carefully set out with scientifically labelled specimens are now filled with kitchen vegetables – e.g. faded yellow beans rattling in their pods – for not a single one of them, either here or in other beds, had been picked. Woe unto you, S. and P., hypocrites – it is all shabby humbug. At least these might have been brought to utility. But for the publicity to myself, I would fain bring this scandal under the eye of the Local Food Controller, and give a dressing down to the paid Curator…

You object to RC “mummeries” and genuflexions which teach the men at the front to forget the inside of a church. What do you think of this, which I heard the other day from the Medical Officer of an Army Hospital at Cherryhinton? It had happened to the RC Padre only the day previously. A poor Anzac soldier was dying of his wounds, and in very low heart. The RC, who liked the man, was endeavouring to comfort him with the assurance that God is a Merciful God and will pardon the sinner who repents. “Ah, Sir”, said the dying man, “that is not my trouble. I know Him to be merciful: it’s the other chap I’m afraid of.” (The word used wasn’t “chap” but “b—“.)

To me it seems that our best, and only, chance, is for America to crush the High Command and Junkers while she is still hot on the business. If we cool down, the Hun, with our own Pacifists and Defeatists, will be too clever for us – and our children will inherit a war eviller still. It is horrible the slaughter and loss among the families known to us here. Not one seems to have escaped, wounds at least.

Florence has two brothers, Lieutenants in the Norfolks and the Civil Service Rifles respectively. When the push began, we had such a joyous letter from Percy at breakfast, and that same afternoon, as I was sitting in my study, a rap came at the door, and Ann’s voice: “Mistress has had a telegram. Mr Percy is wounded.” Very smart the WO was – “regret to inform you that … admitted 8 General Hospital Rouen August 9th. Gunshot wound left wrist and scalp severe.” Admitted Aug. 9: and news to us at Cambridge the very same day.
Then Sydney, the Norfolks, after fighting Thursday, Friday and Saturday – a shell landed exactly where he stood – with 6 of his men – only 1 of the 7 not killed or wounded.

You would imagine Florrie to be miserable. On the contrary, she is in brighter spirits than she had ever shewn during the English Advance. She feels that they are safe, for a short time – no anxiety: and I heard her giving joy, two days ago, to her Cook Ruth, who has just heard news of her brother being wounded and in hospital and therefore safe (poor Ann’s brother was killed).

We have had such charming letters from Colonels and Generals etc, re both boys, each of whom is a favourite in his Regiment. Sydney (whom his Colonel describes as always working “at Concert pitch”) will, I trust, soon be well enough to return. Poor Percy – they fear he will lose the use of his left hand.

Re the Greben. Admiral Troubridge (so I heard) had her nicely encircled, when suddenly came an Admiralty wire, ordering him to let her alone. He was recalled to England to explain his action – and produced this very telegram. They identified the room in the Admiralty from whence it came: but professed inability to identify the sender. Credit Judaeus Apella – Traitors in high places – who will never be dislodged. It is our own people we have to fear.

Kind love from us both to you both.

Ever yours
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

Severe gunshot wound

Florence Image was her brother Percy’s official next of kin. He was transferred to a London hospital later that day.

9 August 1918

Regret inform you Second Lt P J Spencer 21st Londons admitted 8 General Hospital Rouen August 9th gunshot wound left wrist and scalp severe.

Infantry Record Office

Official telegram to Florence Image (D/EZ177/7/7/65)

“Why should we all be potential thieves, liars, cads & scoundrels”

Sydney was uncharacteristically resentful of his superiors.

Wednesday 26 June 1918

When I got up today at 6.45 I felt just as scornful & uppish with everything in general as I did yesterday. Thus does ‘Flu’ play pranks with us. At 7.45 to MO’s inspection. A farce when I simply said ‘I am alright’ & walked off. At 8.5 listened to a long long harangue from the Base Colonel. I cannot understand why such an attitude as he took up should be necessary. Why should we all be potential thieves, liars, cads & scoundrels. At any rate I shall be anxious to prove myself otherwise!

5 pm I am up in the little turret at the top of the Fleche of Rouen Cathedral. A wonderful view. 500 feet or more up. Had dinner at Club. Had a long talk with a staff Major. Afterwards went to a picture show to rest my weary legs. Very boring.

Back to camp by 10 pm. Saw men & dogs being tossed in a blanket. I go away tomorrow. To bed & read more of Tartarin sur les Alpes.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

“I have never felt so demoralised & depressed since I have been in France as I felt today”

Sydney was designated well enough to return to duty.

Tuesday 25 June 1918

Today came the word! I got up at 7. My chest was pretty sore with coughing, but I felt annoyingly fit when the doctor came round. He looked at me, smiled sweetly, & apologising gently told me in military language, ie, scribbled all over my temperature chart in blue pencil the word ‘Duty’ – that he would rather have my room than my company.

So at two, once more I got into an ambulance car & now am at DIBD camp out by the racecourse. Now I am in Rouen again to tea. After tea went over the famous St Ouen church. Very ‘self contained’ & ‘self possessed’. A very perfect example of Gothic in its great days. Got back to camp at 7.

After dinner to bed & read some more Tartarin de Tarascon sur les Alpes. I have never felt so demoralised & depressed since I have been in France as I felt today.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

“On the 3rd day one is terror stricken at the idea that they may take one to be a malingerer”

Sydney had the chance to do some sightseeing and wrote to his sister.

Monday 24 June 1918

I thought that the word would go forth today but it didn’t! I got up to breakfast feeling extraordinarily cheap & depressed. At tea the ‘chirpy’ doctor saw me & pronounced me fit to go down into Rouen. I spent the morning getting dressed.

After lunch went with the red haired Flying Corps boy to Rouen. First of all to Cox’s where I got a cheque changed. Afterwards to Ordnance on the other side of the river via a bridge with a hanging carriage called the [blank]. Then back & over Rouen Cathedral. I recognised it as though I had seen it before. Went up to top of fleche. A wonderful view. Saw Coeur de Lion’s tomb, and a wonderful alabaster tomb of two cardinals.

Back to hospital by 6 pm. Feeling very tired. Got round the sisters to let me have dinner in the ward. To bed at 8. Wrote to Florence & to Mother & Father. Read Tartarin sur les Alpes.

June 24th
My Dearest Florence

The Postman will soon whisk through the ward saying letters letters & tear off & not wait for anyone. So just a hurried line.
I have had a slight form of Trench Fever lasting 3 days. First day one feels like nothing, absolutely nothing. Temperature goes up to 103, etc.

2nd day one wonders if one really did feel yesterday & how in the name of fortune one has got past the doctors into hospital.
On the 3rd day one is terror stricken at the idea that they may take one to be a malingerer.

This form of FUO (fever of unknown origin) is very prevalent. You get fever shivers, backache, headache, pain behind eyes, & coughing. There now isn’t that field of symptoms in which dear little Mother might disport herself.

Well, I am up now, got up yesterday for the first time. Feel a bit rocky, stupidly low in morale (it has same effect on life’s outlook as Influenza!) & a bit peevish of a mornin’ me dear.

Here comes that dratted postman.

Write me always to old address

Your always affectionate

Brer
Sydney

7.30 am

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); and letter (D/EZ177/8/3/46)

“Indignant that the Boshe should dare to shell when I was going away to be ill”

Sydney had gone down with the dreaded influenza, and suffered through a horrendous journey to get to hospital.

Written in Base Hospital, Rouen

No one could be more surprised than I am, my dear diary! It is now Saturday afternoon [22 June] & I am lying in a clean green tented ward with pretty chintz curtains at the windows suffering with PVO, this being the common or garden fever of unknown origin.

Here is the history of my movements from when I left off on Wednesday night. I had a curious night. Guns behind us very noisy owing to ‘Chinese Bombardment’ being put up. At 8 breakfast was brought in, & I could not eat it. Took a morning parade but felt mighty seedy.

After lunch lay on my valise & from then on till 7.30 when the doctor came it was one long nightmare. My temperature went up in leaps & bounds. My back ached, I shivered, my head was splitting, I had a hacking cough, & felt extraordinarily weak if I tried to walk. Doctor packed me off. Here is detail how one gets to base-hospital.

1. Doctor sent for stretcher bearers.
2. I was carted off to Battalion HQ.
3. Red X Ambulance car whisked me off to Hedanville.
4. Another car took me to Div. clearing station.
5. Another car took me to 3rd (Brit) Officers CCS at a place called Sezincourt. Here I spent the night between sheets in a massive old chateau looking out over great parklands.
6. At 9 am off in another ambulance car & planked onto an ambulance train.
7. Then 15 long long hours while the train tried its hardest not to get to Rouen.
8. At last the train stopped & a voice from the open called out peremptorily “Ere Bill let’s ‘ave them 21 officers!”

It was raining then. Car brought me here & when I tumbled into these sheets at 12.15 this morning I was not unthankful. I have had my temperature taken umpteen times. It was up to 102.8 when taken at Hedanville but it had commenced abating by then. We were stuck at Hedanville by heavy shelling. I got impatient being of course light headed & felt indignant that the Boshe should dare to shell when I was going away to be ill. However at last after a decidedly near & unpleasing zzzzz bong! our car gathered its legs well under & scuttled, & the next shell rounded far behind by the time it came along.

It is getting on for tea time & I have only just got hold of my kit, & you. I am reading a stupid book called “An Adventuress”! To sleep at about 9 at night. My temperature about normal. 99.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/15)

Temporary apparent chaos

The Spencer brothers were both subject to a temporary reprieve.

Sydney Spencer
Wednesday 8 May 1918

After a good sleep from 4.30 till 9.30 I was called to go with Dillon to BHQ, to speak for 2 lance corporals (vide April 29). This was postponed so I washed, shaved & had a thorough good clean up after yesterday night’s escapade. Felt much lighter round the nether regions after I had removed the mud from trousers & boots. Had a short snooze after lunch. Then viewed scene for new bivys.

At 3 pm this afternoon we were informed that the company would move up a bit – consequence temporary apparent chaos while everyone ‘scrounged’ bits of wood & corrugated iron, old doors etc lying about for making new bivys. Finally we got the men fairly settled in by about 7 pm. Had dinner at 6.30 so as to give the men a chance of getting mess stuff away. While cutting ‘broom’ for our bivy, men from D Company passing by, not knowing me: “Hullo George, what yer doing… [remainder illegible but seems to be vulgar].

Percy Spencer
8 May 1918

A lovely day. Huns didn’t come up to time. Field cashier who had no cash – aide to contrary. Walk up to Hunancourt. Saw 1st shell hole for 10 months. Haven’t heard them shell again yet.

A jolly evening. Col. Parish gloating over leave & going down walks in various parts of London. Me le Maire [the local mayor] again dined with us & collared lots of bread. Fitzclarence lunched with us & told good stories of 3rd degree trial re loss of 5000 francs. Also of Mrs R- of Rouen.

Hun attack reported postponed 3 days.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); and Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

Newbury’s Roll of Honour: Part 1

So many men from Newbury had been killed that the list to date had to be split into several issues of the church magazine. Part 1 was published in March 1918.

ROLL OF HONOUR

Copied and supplied to the Parish magazine by Mr J W H Kemp

1. Pte J H Himmons, 1st Dorset Regt, died of wounds received at Mons, France, Sept. 3rd, 1914.
2. L-Corp. H R Ford, B9056, 1st Hampshire Regt, killed in action between Oct. 30th and Nov 2nd, 1914, in France, aged 28.
3. L-Corp. William George Gregory, 8th Duke of Wellington’s Regt, killed in action Aug.10th, 1915, aged 23.
4. Charles Thomas Kemp Newton, 2nd Lieut., 1st Yorkshire Regt, 1st Batt., killed in action June 3rd, 1914 [sic], at Ypres.
5. 2nd Lieut. Eric Barnes, 1st Lincolnshire Regt, killed in action at Wytcheak, All Saints’ Day, 1914, aged 20. RIP.
6. G H Herbert, 2nd Royal Berkshire Regt, killed at Neuve Chapelle, 10th March, 1915.
7. Pte J Seymour, 7233, 3rd Dragoon Guards, died in British Red Cross Hospital, Rouen, Dec. 8th, 1914, aged 24.
8. Pte H K Marshall, 2/4 Royal Berks Regt, killed in action in France July 13th, 1916.
9. Pte F Leslie Allen, 2nd East Surrey Regt, killed in action May 14th, 1915, aged 19.
10. Pte Harold Freeman, 6th Royal Berks, died of wounds, Sept. 6th, 1916.
11. Joseph Alfred Hopson, 2nd Wellington Mounted Rifles, killed in action at Gallipoli, August, 1915.
12. Sergt H Charlton, 33955, RFA, Somewhere in France. Previous service, including 5 years in India. Died from wounds Oct. 1916, aged 31.
13. Harry Brice Biddis, August 21st, 1915, Suvla Bay. RIP.
14. Algernon Wyndham Freeman, Royal Berks Yeomanry, killed in action at Suvla Bay, 21st August, 1915.
15. Pte James Gregg, 4th Royal Berks Regt, died at Burton-on-Sea, New Milton.
16. Eric Hobbs, aged 21, 2nd Lieut. Queen’s R W Surrey, killed in action at Mamety 12th July, 1916. RIP.
17. John T Owen, 1st class B, HMS Tipperary, killed in action off Jutland Coast May 31st, 1916, aged 23.
18. Ernest Buckell, who lost his life in the Battle of Jutland 31st May, 1916.
19. Lieut. E B Hulton-Sams, 6th Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, killed in action in Sanctuary Wood July 31st, 1915.
20. Pte F W Clarke, Royal Berks Regt, died July 26th, 1916,of wounds received in action in France, aged 23.
21. S J Brooks, AB, aged 24, drowned Dec. 9th, 1915, off HMS Destroyer Racehorse.
22. Pte George Smart, 18100, 1st Trench Mortar Battery, 1st Infantry Brigade, killed 27th August, 1916, aged 27.
23. Color-Sergt-Major W Lawrence, 1/4 Royal Berks Regt, killed in action at Hebuterne, France, February 8th, 1916.
24. Pte H E Breach, 1st Royal Berks Regt, died 5th March, 1916.
25. Pte Robert G Taylor, 2nd Royal Berks Regt, died of wounds received in action in France November 11th, 1916.
26. Alexander Herbert Davis, Pte. Artists’ Rifles, January 21st, 1915.
27. Rfn C W Harvey, 2nd KRR, France, May 15th, 1916.
28. 11418, Rfn S W Jones, Rifle Brigade, France, died of wounds, May 27th, 1916.
29. Alfred Edwin Ellaway, sunk on the Good Hope November 1st, 1914.
30. Guy Leslie Harold Gilbert, 2nd Hampshire Regt, died in France August 10th, 1916, aged 20.
31. Pte John Gordon Hayes, RGA, died of wounds in France, October 4th, 1917.
32. Pte F Breach, 1st Royal Berks, 9573, died 27th July, 1916.
33. L-Corp C A Buck, 12924, B Co, 1st Norfolk Regt, BCF, died from wounds received in action at Etaples Aug. 3rd, 1916.
34. Pte Brice A Vockins, 1/4 Royal Berks, TF, killed in action October 13th, 1916.
35. Edward George Savage, 2nd Air Mechanic, RFC, died Feb. 3rd, 1917, in Thornhill Hospital, Aldershot.
36. Percy Arnold Kemp, Hon. Artillery Co, killed in action October 10th, 1917.
37. Pte G A Leather, New Zealand Forces, killed in action October 4th, 1917, aged 43.
38. Frederick George Harrison, L-Corp., B Co, 7th Bedford Regt, killed in action in France July 1st, 1916; born August 7th, 1896.
39. Sapper Richard Smith, RE, killed in action at Ploegsturt February 17th, 1917.
40. L-Corp. Albert Nailor, 6th Royal Berks, killed in action July 12th, 1917.
41. Frederick Lawrance, aged 20, killed in action November 13th, 1916.
42. Pte R C Vince, 1st Herts Regt, killed in action August 29th, 1916, aged 20.
43. Pte Albert Edward Thomas, King’s Liverpool’s, killed in action November 30th, 1916.
44. Pte A E Crosswell, 2nd Batt. Royal Berks Regt, killed February 12th, 1916.
(To be continued.)

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

Seriously wounded for a second time

Two Ascot men suffered severe injuries.

SERGEANT Archibald Grimmett has, we deeply regret to say, been so seriously wounded (a second time) that it has been necessary to have his leg amputated. He is in Hospital at Rouen.

Pte. Edward Allum has been dangerously wounded.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, May 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/5)

The bravest man in the trenches

Many of the former pupils of Reading School were serving with distinction.

O.R. NEWS.

Military Cross

Temp. 2nd Lieut. F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berks Regiment.- For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy twice attacked under cover of liquid fire, 2nd Lieut. Edwards showed great pluck under most trying circumstances and held off the enemy. He was badly wounded in the head while constructing a barricade within twenty-five yards of the enemy.

2nd Lieut. (Temp. Lieut.) W/C. Costin, Gloucester Regiment. – For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy penetrated our front line he pushed forward to a point where he was much exposed, and directed an accurate fire on the trench with his trench guns. It was largely due to his skill and courage that we recaptured the trench. An Old Boy of Reading School, he won a scholarship at St. John’s College. Oxford.

2nd Lieut. D.F.Cowan.

Killed in Action.

Lieut. Hubert Charles Loder Minchin, Indian Infantry, was the eldest of three sons of the late Lieut-Col. Hugh Minchin, Indian Army, who followed their father into that branch of the service, and of whom the youngest was wounded in France in May, 1915. Lieutenant Minchin, who was 23 years old, was educated at Bath College, Reading School, and Sandhurst. After a probationary year with the Royal Sussex Regiment, he was posted to the 125th (Napier’s) Rifles, then at Mhow, with whom he served in the trenches.

After the engagement at Givenchy on December 20th, 1914, he was reported missing. Sometime later an Indian Officer, on returning to duty from hospital, reported that he had seen Lieut. Minchin struck in the neck, and killed instantly, when in the act of personally discharging a machine-gun against the enemy. The Indian officer has now notified that he must be believed to have fallen on that day.
2nd lieut.

F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berkshire Regiment, awarded the military cross, died of wounds on August 10th. He was 23 years of age, and the youngest son of the late Capt. H.H. Edwards, Royal Navy, and Mrs. Edwards, of Broadlands, Cholsey. He was educated at Reading School and the City and Guilds College, Kensington. He had been on active service 10 months. His Adjutant wrote:

“He was the bravest man in the trenches. All the men say he was simply wonderful on the morning of August 8th. We lost a very gallant soldier and a very lovable man.”

(more…)

We must cheerfully submit to any inconvenience and privation that comes to us through war

The organist at Holy Trinity, Bracknell, joined up, while other Bracknell men ould not be coming home.

Mr F. C. Faulkener, our Organist, has been called up to join H.M. Forces. This will be a great loss to us in the Church, and we shall greatly miss Mr. Faulkener’s beautiful playing and the efficient training that he has given to the choir. However the country has the first call on his services, and we have in this, as in many other ways, to cheerfully submit to any inconvenience and privation that comes to us through war.

Mr. F.W. Hunton, who was organist for many years, has most kindly given us his help, and Miss Emery, a lady on the Heathfield staff has also signified her readiness (with Miss Wyatt’s concurrence) to do what is possible to supply Mr. Faulkener’s place during his absence. If the result is that the congregation join in more heartily with the singing, perhaps we shall get some useful results even from our difficulties, and we must all do the best we can to make our services worthy of Him to whom they are offered.

THE WAR.-

Amongst those who have fallen we deeply regret to have to number Albert Searle, aged 22, Corporal in the Royal Berks. He was wounded when going into action at the head of his section, but kept up with wounderful courage and cheeriness. He died at the hospital at Rouen. Few young men could have won more affection and esteem than he. His work as Scoutmaster was typically thorough, energetic and unselfish.

Kenneth Grant, 2nd. Lieut. Seaforth Highlanders, was for some time a member of the Chavey Down Choir.

In our last number we mentioned that Sergt. G.W. Morton, of the Black Watch, had been killed in action. He fell on August 18th, and the following is an extract from a letter written by one of his officers.

“I personally led the attack and especially noted the late Sergt. Morton, for his bravery and the gallant way in which he handled his men both in and out of action; he was an excellent soldier and was very much liked by officers, N.C.O.’s and men of his battalion.”

Sergt. Morton was only 22 years of age, and had been on active service for 2 years.

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Magazine, October 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/10)

“His passing-on brings the realities of war close to home”

The people of Ascot supported the war in multiple ways.

THE WAR.

We deeply regret to have to record the death of Pte. Harry Freeman, killed in France. His family is so well known and respected in Ascot, and he himself, as one of our old School boys, and in the Choir, so familiar a figure among us in the past years, that his passing-on brings the realities of war close to home. His parents and sisters have our deepest sympathy.

Pte. Jack Jones, having recovered from his wound, has been at home for a week, and is now stationed at Portsmouth for a short time. He is one of the 9 survivors out of 25 engaged in digging a trench in the open.

Another of our wounded, Archibald Grimmett, is doing fairly well, we are thankful to say, but has not yet recovered the use of his side. He is now at Southbourne.

Percy Huxford and Richard Taylor are prisoners of war in Germany.

Our other wounded are doing well.

TWO SPECIAL INTERCESSIONS SERVICES will be held during Advent, on Tuesday, December 7th, at 7.30 p.m., in the Parish Room, when the names of all those at the Front whose homes are in the Brookside District of the Parish will be specially remembered before GOD; and on Monday, December 13th, at 7.30 p.m. in the Church, for those whose homes are in the London Road and High Street Districts. It is earnestly hoped that the near relatives of our Ascot lads, in each case, will be present at one or other of these prayer meetings, so that, all together, we may unite in prayer to our Father in Heaven for those whom it is our bounden duty to pray.

A “PRISONERS OF WAR” box is placed inside the Church, for which offerings are invited. We hope to send out to our prisoners Christmas parcels: and we look forward, if the offering allow, to send them further parcels from time to time.

WAR HOSPITAL STORES DEPOT.

It may interest those of our readers who are working at the Ascot War Hospital Stores Depôt to know that over 46,000 articles have been sent to the Hospitals abroad since the depôt opened on June 22nd last. The work is continuing at full swing, though more helpers will be gladly welcomed by Lady Susan Dawnay at the depôt room above the Military Hospital at any time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Thursdays from 10 a.m. till dark. 28 crates and 3 bales have already been sent to the following Hospitals:

21st British General Hospital, Alexandria, 2 crates
French Military Hospital, Ducey, France, 2 crates
Belgian Military Hospital, Calais, 2 crates
British General Hospital, Havre, 2 crates
British General Hospital, Lemnos, 5 crates
“Entente Cordiale” Hospital, Mentone [Menton, France], 3 crates
Belgian Field Hospital, Dunkirk, 2 crates
“Border” (British) Hospital for French Soldiers, France, 2 crates
French Hospital, Château du Franc Port, Compiègne, 1 crate
Ascot Military Hospital, 1 crate
Italian Field Hospital on Austrian Frontier, 1 crate and 1 bale
No. 12 British General Hospital, Rouen, 2 bales
Belgian Hospital (c/o Belgian Soldiers Fund) 2 crates

“Two crates” contain approximately the following articles :
1000 bandages, 24 many-tailed bandages, 24 T-bandages, 24 slings, 24 knee many-tailed bandages, 24 head or stump bandages, 12 chin bandages, 50 pairs of splints, 1000 puff swabs, 1 gross Turkish towelling swabs, 1 gross eye swabs, 1 gross solid gauze swabs, 1 gross gauze and wool swabs, 1000 flat swabs, 1000 plugs, 12 pillows, 6 pairs of crutches, 24 pairs of socks, 24 pyjamas or night shirts, 12 bed jackets, 24 shirts. Consignments of blanket shave also been sent.

BELGIAN SOLDIERS FUND. £6 9s 0d. has been sent to the above Fund from Ascot Parish.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, December 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/12)

“They got more than they bargained for”

Ralph Glyn’s married sisters, Meg Meade and Maysie Wynne-Finch, wrote to him after his brief leave. Meg lived in London and was acting as Ralph’s financial proxy while he was away. Maysie, who was staying with her sister, told Ralph all about her husband’s wound. Neither woman was a fan of British politicians.

Oct 15th
23 Wilton Place
SW

My darling Ralph

It was very sad returning here with the babies on the 12th to find you had gone. If only you could have stayed a few days longer here, it would have been perfect. But I am hoping always that we shall have you back very soon. If you don’t come straight back here, I’ll never never forgive you!…

Bless you for your letter you wrote to me before leaving London. Jim [her husband] loved getting the maps… Anne [her daughter] has drawn you a sunset & has written you a letter which I enclose “For Uncle Ralph at Darnelles” she said.

I went to Cox this morning & saw your old friend Mr Smith. He was very kind to me, & I have a cheque book to draw on your account, so look out!

And in accordance with your long & interesting letter I got from you today, I have only been mixing with Cabinet Ministers today. That’s all. I took your letter to Sir Edward Carson to Eaton Place. Instead of putting it in the letter box I thought I’d go one better & give it to the butler so I rang the bell. The door opened & out stepped Bonar Law & Sir Edward! I mumbled to the latter “This letter is from my brother Ralph Glyn” & fled, however Sir Edward insisted on shaking me warmly by the hand, & your letter has evidently been too much for him, because all the papers have been remarking on his conspicuous absence from the Cabinet meeting today.

Things do look serious. The best news I’ve heard since war began, I heard at dinner tonight at the [Somertons?]. There was a nice man there called Baker Kerr who said he knew you, but what tickled me was that he said that we should have conscription in 6 weeks time. I hope to Heaven it’s true. Things have been bungled & enough misery caused by the selfish stupidity & timidity of politicians. I hear that the Zepps have strict orders not to drop any bombs on Whitehall or Downing Street for our Government are Germany’s best friends.

What a bore for you being hung up in Rome… Don’t pull the noses of any of the irritating Dips who are there either, if you can help it. They must be perfectly maddening to deal with…

Dad … tells us a Zepp passed over Peter[borough] last night, & did a lot of harm at Hertford, killed a lot of people, & smashed up the town. The Zepp raid here on Wednesday night was quite amusing. I was in the middle of writing a letter to Dickie when the guns started firing. So I collected the babies & we went to the kitchen till it was over. Of course I went out to try & see the Zepp, but I can’t say I succeeded. I saw confused shadows in the searchlight, but I did see the bursting shell from our guns, but most other people seem to have seen the Zepp & say there were 4 of them or 5….

Maysie tells me she has protected me by sending you all the news…

Your always lovingest
Meg

(more…)

Sorry to hear about Rupert Brooke’s death

Rupert Brooke was one of the most famous of the early war poets. He died on 23 April 1915 while on active service in Greece as a naval lieutenant. Percy Spencer wrote to his sister Florence on hearing of Brooke’s death, revealing that his own brother the artist Stanley Spencer was a Brooke fan.

May 17, 1915
Dear Florrie

Thank you for all your parcels and faithful correspondence. You must think me awfully slack, but I’m not. “My King and country” is needing an alarming number of the days & hours just at present, and I have no time to write even a field postcard sometimes.

I stand the racket of the long hours very well, I think, and beyond that I am not hard worked – in fact I sometimes wonder whether I shall ever get my old speed back again.

I was sorry to hear about Rupert Brooke’s death – Stan will be sorry too, I expect, as I believe he and you both admired his poetry, and Stan liked the man. Personally I don’t think his work will be more than that of the [illegible] of the best man’s in a bad time.

We had a rare old dust-up last Sunday week – and next spring in our room at Lyme you and I will listen to the history of it all. Meanwhile if you haven’t already heard all details, read the description of our two attacks on May 9th in The Daily Mail May 15th. Its accuracy as an outline of the day’s events is remarkably accurate.

I wasn’t at the place of the postcard [Rouen Cathedral] when I sent it to you – as a matter of fact we were in action and I was off to our palatial dug-out a good deal further forward, but I have since had a night’s “rest” in the town, broken by shells which the houses opposite stopped fortunately, though one of them immediately opposite and dead in a line with our billet wiped out a poor family.

About 2 p.m. I was ordered to the cellar where all of us remained until morning.

Now we are in the line again about 6 miles due east of that town and at the present moment the din of gunfire is too awful – it fairly rattles your frame at every report.

How are you all this long time? I hope well and jolly. I hope too the people of our nation will not lose its head but deal with all [restrictions?] sanely and moderately. I don’t like the papers at all. The state of domestic affairs is not necessary.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/4/27)