Two sons killed, two more at the front

More news of Reading men. One mother had now lost half of her children.

Intercession List

Privates Alfred Goodger, A. Palmer, G. Clack.

Wounded: Corpl. E. Durman, 2nd Lieut. G.A.F. Gillmor.

Departed: Capt. A. Hudson, R. Berks Rt.; Hugh Willis, R.A.M.C.; E.A. Pearce, R Berks Rt. (attached T.M.B.)

R.I.P.: Private Pearce was one of our most regular Sunday school teachers and servers. Our sympathies go out to the widowed mother, two of whose sons have been killed, while two more are at the front.

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

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The whole gamut of human emotion

The emotional toll of supporting loved ones at the front was beginning to tell in Maidenhead. One imagines the tears in church – but every now and then there was joy amidst the sorrow.

OUR ROLL OF HONOUR

The Minister has not for some time past read from the pulpit the list of our soldiers, because the strain upon the feelings of the more closely related friends was too great. This month there is space to spare in our columns, and we therefore print the list.

Five of our lads have fallen:

Harold Fisher …Royal Berks.
Duncan Wilson …A.S.C.
Robert Harris …8th Royal Berks.
Stephen Harris …3rd Royal Berks.
John Boyd …2nd Royal Berks.

Two have been discharged:

James Partlo …4th Royal Berks.
E.S. Mynett …Recruiting Sergeant

Forty-nine are still in the Army:

Cyril Hews …Royal Engineers
F.W. Harmer …Royal Berks.
W. Percy Pigg …A.S.C.
Cyril Laker …K.O. Scottish Borderers.
Reginald Hill …2nd Royal Berks.
Robert Anderson …4th Royal Berks.
John Bolton …23rd London.
Thomas Mulford …Royal Engineers.
J.O. Wright …8th Royal Berks.
George E. Dovey …9th Royal Berks.
Percy Lewis …R.A.M.C.
Arthur Rolfe …R.F.A.
Ernest Bristow …R.A.M.C.
Harold Islip …R.E.
Edward Howard …A.S.C.
George Belcher …R.E.
Horace Gibbons …11th Aus. Light Horse.
J. Quincey …A.S.C.
Donovan Wilson …A.S.C.
Aubrey Cole …A.S.C.
W.H. Clark …A.S.C.
Cecil Meade …A.S.C.
Benjamin Gibbons …6th Royal Berks.
David Dalgliesh …R.F.C.
Hugh Lewis …R.E.
H. Partlo …A.S.C.
Herbert Brand …8th Royal Berks.
George Phillips …A.S.C.
J Herbert Plum …R.E.
Wilfred Collins …Canadian Dragoons.
Alex. Edwards …R.F.A.
William Norcutt …A.S.C.
George Norcutt …R.E.
Victor Anderson …R.A.M.C.
Herbert G. Wood …R.E.
C.A.S. Vardy …R.E.
A. Lane …R.E.
Frank Pigg …R.F.C.
Leonard Beel …R.E.
P.S. Eastman …R.N.A.S.
A. John Fraser …A.S.C.
Charles Catliff …R.E.
Ernest A. Mead …7th Devonshires.
Robert Bolton …R.M.L.I
Frank Tomlinson …R.E.
George Ayres …L.E.E.
Thomas Russell …A.S.C.
G.C. Frampton …A.S.C.
W.J. Baldwin …Royal Navy.

In addition there are many who have passed through our Sunday School and Institute, but have not recently been in close connection with us. These also we bear upon our hearts, and bring in prayer before the Throne of Grace.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to be able to say that Reginald Hill is still going forward, and that he is able to walk a little with the aid of sticks. He has now been at the Sheffield Hospital between five and six months. His parents are spending their holiday at Sheffield.

Robert Bolton has gone over with his Company to France.

Wilfred Collins is in Hospital at Sulhamstead, still suffering from heart trouble.

Sidney Eastman is at Mudros, doing clerical work.

David Dalgliesh has been home on leave, in the best of health and spirits.

GOOD NEWS!

In our last number we spoke of the fact that the son of Mr. Jones, of Marlow, was “missing,” and that all hope that he was still living had been relinquished. But the unexpected has happened, and news has been received that Second-Lieutenant Edgar Jones is an unwounded prisoner in the hands of the Germans. His parents have surely run through the whole gamut of human emotion during these weeks.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

“Many of us feel there is a reasonable hope of a termination of hostilities before Christmas”

An army chaplain with links to Mortimer shares details of his life in Normandy.

Mr Bowden writes:-

Dear Vicar,

It is a long time since I sent a contribution to the Magazine, not that I have forgotten Mortimer but I have so little of interest to relate. My work is now in the docks area – I have charge of No. 2 General Hospital, on the quay alongside which the hospital ships lie and take in the wounded direct from the trains to convey them to Southampton. Any cases which prove too bad for the boat journey we take in to our hospital which is directly over the railway station, and occasionally we get a train load for treatment at No. 2. We have three very fine, airy wards; and a broad balcony facing the sea runs the whole length of the hospital; in the summer we place many beds out there – the men love to be in the open air and watch the shipping and the aircraft. The hospital commands a fine view of the town on one side and the mouth of the Seine with Trouville and Honfleur on the other.

In addition to hospital work I have some 1,500 Army Ordnance and 650 Army Service Corps men to work amongst. These are busy on the docks all day long but can be seen in the Recreation Huts and in their billets in the evening and at meal times.

There are plenty of amusements provided for them – some sort of entertainment almost every night. We also have recently acquired a recreation ground for their use and a cricket ground as well as a tennis court for officers and N.C.O.’s.

It might be of interest if I give my Sunday programme – I start early with a Celebration of Holy Communion at 6 a.m. for the A.O.D. in a little chapel near their quarters – another celebration at 7 a.m. for the hospital staff in a hut on the quay. This is always followed by a series of private Communions to sick men and officers in the various wards and huts; [sic] then back to breakfast. I used to have a Parade Service at 10-30 for the R.A.M.C. but have dropped it as it was an inconvenient time for the men. At 11-30 we have a Parade Service for the A.O.D. in one of the warehouses on the docks – the men climb up on the boxes all round a space left for the purpose – we have a good choir, an hearty service, and then the men go straight off to their dinner at noon, or soon after.

Then I have nothing till 5-15 when I hold Ward Services in hospital – these are very much appreciated by the patients and are of an informal nature as all denominations join in. The men love singing hymns and the Sisters come and help form a choir. At 7 p.m. we are now having open-air services in the A.S.C. camp on the river front between the docks and hospital. Here the men are mostly getting on in years – I believe the average age is about 42 – All younger men have long since been sent “up the line.” Of course a large portion of both A.S.C. and A.O.D. men have done their bit at the front in various units and have been sent back to work at the Base owing to wounds or some physical disability rendering them unfit for the fighting line.

Sometimes my day ends here or I have a service at the Y.M.C.A. or in one of the other huts, in turn with other Padres.

We have many destroyers constantly alongside the quays, the escorts for hospital ships, transports, &c. I go aboard when I can but generally most of the sailors are sleeping as they are working all night and its [sic] not often possible to hold a Service for them, but one gets some interesting talks with men and officers.

Just now we have a Mortimer man in hospital – Sergt. Shackleford – he is doing very well. He is only the second man I have met from the parish since I joined the B.E.F. – the other being Frank Parsons.

We are all very cheerful about the position of things just now and many of us feel there is a reasonable hope of a termination of hostilities before Xmas.

With best wishes to all friends.

Yours very sincerely,

W. S. Bowden, C.F.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

“Doing our best to be worthy of being the cadets of one of the most famous regiments in His Majesty’s Army”

The Church Lads’ Brigade offered training for teenage boys which in many cases led to heroic actions as adults at the Front.

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE CADETS

We had a very good Field Day at Streatley on Whit-Monday. The Battalion turned up in good strength, and some useful skirmishing practice was got through on the Downs, an ideal spot for such work.
On Saturday, June 9th, the Annual Battalion Marching Competition was held. By kind permission of the Headmaster of Reading School, the various Companies assembled in the School Quad, and under the management of Sergeant-Major Green, were quickly got into due order for inspection. Colonel Melville, RAMC, very kindly came over from Aldershot to judge the competition, and expressed himself as quite astonished at the efficiency of the lads and highly delighted with the whole arrangements and the esprit de corps displayed by the teams. We congratulate our friends the Caversham Company on winning the Shield, our Earley lads were a very close third.

The arrangements for Whit-Monday and the Marching Competition were very ably carried out by the Acting Adjutant, Capt. H A Smith-Masters, who has just received his commission as a Chaplain in the Army. We congratulate him, and shall miss his help very much. He is the fourth Adjutant we have had since the war began, and all four are now serving in the Forces.

Our Captain, Corporal C J O’Leary, MTASC, received some rather severe scalds while rescuing a comrade from a motor which went wrong, and has been in hospital in France, but we are glad to say he is now much better again.

The following Army Order has filled us with pleasure and determination to try and do our best to be worthy of being the cadets of one of the most famous regiments in His Majesty’s Army:

“ARMY ORDER 128, 1917.

The Army Orders for April contain one of the most epoch-making which has ever been issued in respect of the CLB. It runs thus:

‘The recognised Cadet Battalions of the Church Lads’ Brigade are affiliated to the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.’

We hope that every member of the CLB will appreciate the honour of belonging to the famous 60th, and that this will be one more incentive to obtain even a higher standard than the CLB has ever attained before.

The great fact is accomplished, and we hope by it the future of the CLB is assured, and that an adequate safeguard of all its religious training and ideal is achieved.”

Having passed the required examinations, the following lads have been promoted as stated: Corporals F Ansell and C Downham to be Sergeants; Private M Smith to be Lance-Corporal.

The body of one of our old members, Frank Snellgrove, who has been missing for months, has been discovered by a Chaplain in France, and reverently buried with full Christian rites. We offer our deepest sympathy to his people, who have thus lost their only son.

H. Wardley King [the curate]

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

Maintain unity of spirit and the will of sacrifice in the allied nations

The Bishop asked Berkshire churchgoers to pray for the war to end successfully.

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the June Diocesan Magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked

For the maintenance in the allied nations of unity of spirit and the will of sacrifice.

For the prosecution and ending of the war in the Name of God, and of Liberty.

For the chaplains, doctors, nurses, the RAMC and the ASC…

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

Totally blinded

The County Education Committee continued to find its work affected by the war in many ways, as teachers joined up, prices rose, and they helped people cope with shortages of staple foods.

School Management Sub-committee

SCHOLARSHIPS

Mr F Portas, who has for four years held a Supplementary University Scholarship, has now completed his medical course and passed the final examinations of the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons. He is now serving in the RAMC. Mr Portas, prior to receiving a Guthrie Scholarship at Westminster Hospital, held a County Scholarship at the Windsor County Boys’ School, where he received his school education.

DOMESTIC ECONOMY

The demand for Sicknursing Classes which have been conducted by Miss Barrett since 1896, has during the last year ceased, chiefly on account of circumstances arising from the war, and the Sub-committee have received the resignation of Miss Barrett.

The Sub-committee desire to record their appreciation of Miss Barrett’s useful work. For twenty years the classes have been held in almost every town and village in the county, and have always been well attended and greatly appreciated.

Higher Education Sub-committee

TEACHERS ON MILITARY SERVICE

Under an arrangement between the Board of Education and the War Office, the following teachers in the lower medical categories have been released from the Army to resume their school work: Mr H May, Mr W Edginton, and Mr B Gibbons.

The Sub-committee record with regret that Mr F W Lupton has been killed in action, and Mr F E Parker has been totally blinded.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

The Educational Supply Association have given one month’s notice to terminate on 11 May the present schedule of prices on which school materials are supplied; but will submit a revised schedule before that date.

The Contractors for Needlework Supplies have also notified further increases in the prices of some materials, and Messrs Charles & Son have raised their prices for paper goods to 100% above pre-war figures.

NATIONAL SERVICE

The Sub-committee have passed the following resolution:

In view of the fact that the Local Education Authority is of opinion that teachers are engaged in work of national importance, the Local Education authority will be unable to give any guarantee to any teacher called up that his or her place will be kept open.

FOOD ECONOMY CAMPAIGN

The Sub-committee have considered and approved a memorandum of the Education Secretary, referred to them by the War Savings Committee, with regard to the use of the Committee’s Cookery Centres for making known the best way of utilising as foods such substitutes for wheat as are available locally.

Reports of School Management Sub-committee and Higher Education Sub-committee to Berkshire Education Committee, 28 April 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

Mesopotamia had a bad name, but things are greatly improved

Some of the surgical dressings made by volunteers in Wargrave were put to use on a hospital boat in what is now Iraq.

Surgical Dressing Emergency Society, Wargrave, Berks

The Society is now sending regular Monthly Bales as follows:
To the 2nd New Zealand Hospital, Walton-on-Thames, Requisition 18856:

24 Handkerchiefs
24 Limb Pillows and Pillow Cases
12 Towels
30 Pairs of Carpet Slippers with Firm Soles
(Due on the 6th, of each month)

To the 25th, General Hospital B.E.F. France Requistion 23,111.

100 Hospital Treasure Bags
200 Capeline Bandages
500 Roller Bandages
50 Triangular Bandages
6 Flannel Dressing Gowns
25 Bed Jackets
12 Pairs of Flannel Pyjamas
50 Slings
12 Pairs of Carpet Slippers
12 Paris of Surgical Slippers or Boots
500 Gauze Dressings (Small)
500 Gauze Dressings (Large)
200 Medical Swabs
200 Round Swabs
500 Operation Swabs
And a quantity of old Linen.

To the 30th, General Hospital, Requisition 20519, B.E.F. France.

100 Abdominal Many Tail Bandages
50 Knee Bandages
100 Shoulder Bandages
50 Capeline Bandages
500 Roller Bandages
100 T Shaped Bandages
50 Triangular Bandages
500 Large Gauze Dressings
500 Medium Gauze Dressings
20 Pairs of Operation Stockings
500 Operation Swabs
500 Round Swabs

A good many other Bales are being sent out also, containing all kinds of comforts – one very beautiful present of 18 fine white winsey pyjamas.

We are glad to receive comforts to send out, especially knitted socks, for which there will be a great sudden demand in September and October.

A River Boat
Basra
Mesopotamia,
April 12th, 1917.
Dear Madam,

This is to inform you that a bale of dressings from your Society was opened by me a few days ago. The contents will be most useful and they were just what we needed. We are employed in conveying the sick and sounded from places up the line, down to Basra. Boats, such as this, travel up and down the Tigris. The hot weather has now arrived so we expect more sick than sounded, especially now that the fighting here is almost over. You will of course have read in the paper of the splendid advance and capture of Bagdad [sic] a few weeks ago.

Yours faithfully,

J…. T…. R.A.M.C.

P.S. Mesopotamia had a bad name, but after six months here, I can say that things are greatly improved.

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

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)

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 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)

‘He has now volunteered for Field Ambulance work at Salonika’

Will Spencer had news of several of his brothers. Stanley and Gilbert, both art students and a year apart in age, were very close to one another, and both had joined the Royal Army Medical Corps.

31 August 1916

Letters from Mother & from Florrie. Both contained the news that Gilbert had recently written from a hospital ship at Marseilles. He has now volunteered for Field Ambulance work at Salonika. Stanley hopes he may be going to Salonika, as he so much wants to be with Gilbert. Horace better, & making himself useful by making tables & chairs.

Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/26)

Accommodation for insane German prisoners of War

Some prisoners of war were mentally unwell. It was suggested that perhaps they could be housed at Broadmoor.

Report of a visit by Dr Bond on 14th August 1916 to Broadmoor Asylum with the object of judging whether certain vacant accommodation is suitable for the use of insane German prisoners of War.

Under a provisional arrangement made between Sir William Byrne and Sir Edward Troup, & at the request of the Director General of the Army Medical Service, I, on the 14th inst, paid a visit to Broadmoor Asylum, where I called upon Dr John Baker & inspected a disused block of the Institution.

The block in question has been unoccupied for the last 2 years, but, generally speaking, is in good condition & available for immediate use…

While situated within the boundary wall of the Institution, it can nevertheless easily be provided with a separate entrance from the road by making a doorway in the wall at the spot marked D on the plan [not in the file].

DESCRIPTION OF THE BLOCK.

The block comprises 3 storeys. On the ground floor are 16 single rooms for patients, 2 attendants’ rooms, a scullery, bath-room, and a small sanitary spur. All these rooms are repeated on the first and second floors; but on each of these 2 floors are 2 day rooms… Each floor is provided with an alternative exit in case of fire.

There is thus accommodation in the block for 48 patients…

OBSCURING OF WINDOWS.

The window panes in the lower sashes of windows in the corridors and day rooms would have to be obscured if it is desired to prevent the inmates of the block from seeing the patients in other divisions….

Dr Baker is very short of attendants for the wards & would be quite unable to find staff for the block, but thinks he would be able to loan 2 experienced & trained men, one to act as charge attendant & the other to act as deputy charge attendant of the block, provided 2 inexperienced men were given him in lieu. It would thus be necessary for the War Office to supply whatever number of orderlies is required.

SUGGESTED NAME OF PROPOSED HOSPITAL.

It is suggested that if the block in question be handed over to the War Office the name & address of the new hospital should be either: Crowthorne Military Hospital, Crowthorne, Berks, or in the event of “Crowthorne” being already the name of a local hospital used for sick & wounded soldiers, Owlsmoor Military Hospital, Crowthorne, Berks….

SUGGESTIONS RELATING TO THE STAFF THAT WOULD BE REQUIRED

That Dr Baker & Dr Foulerton each receive a commission in the RAMC.

That two or three of the present more experienced attendants should be made non-commissioned officers & given the responsible positions in the block; & that orderlies to the necessary number be supplied by the War Office….

C Hubert Bond
Commissioner of the Board of Control

Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)

The dugout canteen does a roaring trade

The Revd T Guy Rogers was now running a canteen for soldiers in a dugout as well as continuing his religious work.

April 10th

The canteen is successfully opened, and is doing a roaring trade. We started at 5 p.m. on Saturday (just after the men had been paid), and sold 200 frs. worth in a couple of hours… you should have seen the crowd trying to get into the very small quarters. I tried to give them a start by helping to sell behind the counter, but I soon get hopelessly muddled trying to calculate how much chocolate I should sell for 90 centimetres at 15 centimetres a bar! My arithmetic was never strong – I found a R.A.M.C sergeant, whose father had been a shopkeeper, and put him on it while I sat by aghast at the speed with which he calculated to the uttermost farthing. We have now got three men told off to the job, one of whom is quite good and understands shop-dressing. He has made the stacks of tinned fruits look so fetching, you cannot choose but buy.

The place itself is just a dug-out made of sand bags under the ramparts. We have pinched an old door and are getting a lock and key by the less interesting method of purchase! There is a great demand for candles. Soap, too, comes high in the list of articles which ‘Tommy’ feels the need of…

I never found it so easy to make my Sunday arrangements. This is because I have a comparatively small area to cover. On the other hand the Sundays are tiring for we have to take a great number of small Services. The work is quite fascinating though, and the deeper one gets – how shall I put it? into the perils of the firing line, the more the men seem to want what one has to give them…

I had a series of short Services in the morning from 9-12.30, celebrating three times – once in the bowels of the earth, once in a cellar. In the last place I had 18 Communicants crammed into a very small space. I had to disperse with kneeling, except at the actual partaking… Then in the afternoon three more services, 3, 4, and 6 p.m. Then some funerals. I do not finish till about 9.30.

Reading St. John parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

Human kites: an ambulance convoy on the move

The Revd T Guy Rogers, former vicar of St John’s Church, Reading, reports his latest adventures as as army chaplain attached to a medical contingent.

A FIELD AMBULANCE TREK (BY REV. T. GUY ROGERS).

Here we are on ‘trek’ – only half a dozen miles from our starting place – destination all unknown. It was a good thing the journey was a short one – we made it against driving wind and rain, and it was difficult either to sit on a horse or to walk. Everybody’s mackintosh was distended like a balloon – the Sergeant Major on horseback might have been mistaken for a zeppelin. If only the wind could have done a little more for us and converted us into human kites we might have enjoyed the struggle with the elements, but as it was we were merely buffeted and knocked about.

Here and there the ranks were broken as someone plunged into the ditch by the side of the road to recover his cap blown off by the wind. The lucky ones (including the Padre) found them floating peak upwards, the unlucky ones peak downwards. Every now and then we halted, blocked by transport ahead of us, and resigned ourselves to a profane silence. These halts may be said to have begun before we started (this is what one of the Irish contingent said anyhow!), for just as we moved up the narrow by-street, C.O. riding as the head, R.A.M.C. in serried ranks following, transport bringing up the rear, ready to defile upon the road of march, we found our exit blocked by troops in motion. So we sat upon our horses, or stood upon our feet, while the wind blew and the rain poured, admiring the balloon-like forms in front of us.

At length – a long length it seemed to us – the troops passed our exit and it was possible for us at last to ‘debouch’ (ah! That word has a good military sound about it!) upon the road behind them. But the halt was ill-omened, prophetic of many halts behind this column which had filched our right of way. ‘How do you pass the time during these delays?’ Punch’s historic answer gives the correct reply: ‘Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sit.’ (no ‘p’ in the last word, though Tommy Atkins is apt to insert it when he quotes the ‘bon mot’!)

At last we march in, though at first it looks as if there was nothing to march into. Motor wagons are side tracked, horses stabled, men billeted, and last, according to unwritten law, Officers find their way to the Mess, if there is one, and concentrate upon a scratch meal, to which a ravenous appetite does ample justice.

Reading St John parish magazine, March 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

More men from Reading wounded or killed

More men from Reading had joined up, while others had been killed or wounded.

Names for Intercession List:
Segt. A.R. Waite, 8th Batt R. Berks Regt. (Wounded); William Green, 19th Batt R. Fusiliers; Roland O. Norris, 114th Mahrattas; Frank Alfred Smith, R.E.; Lieut. H Field Etherington, 2nd Dragoon Guards (R.I.P.); Horace May, R.A.M.C.; Chris Beasley, 3/4 R. Berks Reg.; Henry Charles Pyke, A/P.C. (R.I.P.); Leonard Dobbie Cane, Captain 20th Batt, R.F. (R.I.P.)

Reading St Giles parish magazine, February 1916 (D/P96/28A/33)