“May blossoms and war seem as though they ought to be impossible in the same world”

The minister of Maidenhead Congregational Church tried to encourage members to look on the bright side of life despite all the horrors and losses of the war.

May blossoms and war seem as though they ought to be impossible in the same world. The dreadful mud in the midst of which our soldiers have been living is more congruous with the spirit of warfare than sweet grass and hawthorn buds. Many letters from the front have spoken of the start of surprise with which a lark’s song is heard over the trenches. We have all, when some sorrow is heavy upon us, felt a sort of astonishment that the sun should go on shining, and the birds twittering, and passers by smiling, as though nothing had happened. But the worst of sorrows cannot cover the whole sky. We want taking out of ourselves at times. Evils won’t bear brooding over, we only make them worse. We shall be able to bear “the strain of toil, the fret of care” better, if we make rich use of the ministry of the blossoms.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to hear that Reginald Hill is progressing, though slowly. He has had several operations, and probably must undergo two or three more. The doctors think he may have to be in bed for at least three months yet, but they hope he will make quite a good recovery.

We regret deeply to have to record that John Boyd, formerly the Caretaker of the Chapel, was killed in action on March 29th. He enlisted in the 2nd Berks. In June 1916, and was sent to France on Sept. 22nd. He was a most genial and kind-hearted man, and had a wide circle of friends among whom he was very popular. We offer our Christian sympathy to Mrs. Boyd and her family.

It is distressing too to hear that Stephen Harris is returned as “missing.” The Captain of his Company has written to Mr. and Mrs. Harris that he has made all possible inquiries and can gain no information. The best that can be hoped for is that he may be a prisoner in German hands. Robert Harris was killed in July last. May God grant His patience and consolation to the distressed parents.

Wallace Mattingly has been admitted to Sandhurst Military College for eight months’ training. G. Frampton is expecting to be called up immediately. We are glad to see Cyril Hews at home again on leave, looking in the pink of health. P.S. Eastman writes in good spirits from “somewhere in the East.”

He says, “I have not yet left for the special work for which I was sent out, but may do so any day now. In the meantime I have had quite a variety of work, until at present I find myself in the C.O.’s office. Yesterday I had a line from Frank Pigg, who is with the R.F.C in Salonica; may be one of these days I shall be able to pay him a visit.”

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

Reading men serving

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

Notes from the Vicar

Intercessions

Albert Maskell, R.N.; Private J. Taylor, M.G.C.; Private A. Victor Brown, 6th Worcestershire Regt.; Private Frank Griffin; Reginald Midhurst, 8th Royal Berks; Alfred Thomas Hinton, E. Kent Rt.; Private Kent, M. Marine.; Lieut. Laurence Edward Wells. Fullbrook Leggatt, 2nd Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.

Prisoner: Lieut. E.A. Floyer, R.F.C.

Sick and Wounded: Cadet A. Fielding Clarke; Lieut. Hugh Kenney; Capt. F. J. Shirley.

Departed: Sec. Lieut. G.W. Baxter; Lieut. M. Floyer Williams; Lieut. Vaughan Floyer Williams, R.F.C. Private A. Moule; Private William Fleming Robins Oxf. and Bucks. Lt. Inf.; George C. Moppet.
R.I.P.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, May 1917 (D/P96/28A/34)

A very gallant officer and gentleman, recklessly brave and a fine example of cool courage

The Old Boys of Reading School were distinguishing themselves at the Front.

O.R. NEWS.

Killed in Action.

2nd Lieut. Norman A. Howell, King’s Shropshire Light infantry. On December 23rd.

He is the second son of Mr. W. Roland Howell, architect, of this town. Born at Reading in April 1897, he was educated at Reading School and St. Laurence College, Ramsgate, and had been about a year in his father’s office before joining the Army in November, 1915. His cadet training at school and college enabled him to get his commission. He was posted to the King’s Shropshire’s, was ordered to the front at the end of June last, and has been in the thick of the Somme fighting for six months. Lieut. Norman Howell came home on his first leave on December 6th and returned on the 16th. Within a week he had made the great sacrifice.

His Commanding Officer wrote to Mr. Howell on December 24th:

“I deeply regret to report the death of your son, who was serving in my Battalion. Whilst going up to the front line trenches in charge of a party last night an enemy sniper shot him through the head, killing him instantly. This morning his body was buried by the Chaplain near where he fell, with military honours, officers and men attending.

“I had trench mortars and rifle grenades on the sniper’s post, patrols had reported 8 to 10 Huns there, none there now! On behalf of his comrades, officers, N.C.O.’s and men, I wish to convey to you our profound sympathy . He was loved and respected by all of us, and we mourn the loss of a very gallant officer and gentleman. To all of us he was known as recklessly brave and a fine example of cool courage, devoted to his duties, which he discharged most cheerfully under the most trying conditions.”

“I placed him in charge of the Lewis Gun detachment, on which he had set his heart and soul. He belonged to my own Headquarters’ mess, and I took particular interest in him. A cross has been put up on the grave near Les Boeufs.”

It will be remembered that in October, 1915, Mr. Howell’s elder son, 2nd Lieut. Roland Basil Howell, was reported “wounded and missing.” Nothing has since been heard of him, and any hopes of his being alive hangs on the very slenderest thread. On the 16th of last month the War Office wrote saying that they were now forced to believe he was killed.

Lieut. Basil Howell was born in October, 1895, and received his commission in the 4th North Staffordshire’s three months after the war started. He was attached to the Northumberland Fusiliers (the Fighting Fifth), and went to the front in May, 1915.

Reports received from the front show that on the night of October 1st-2nd, 1915, the battalion to which Lieut. Howell was attached were in severe action. After all the officers of the company had been killed he gallantly led a bombing party to attack a German trench, but was never seen again.

Every possible enquiry was made through the War Office, the American Embassy, the Red Cross, and the wounded men who returned to England. Many references were made by the latter to the respect and love they had for the brave young officer. Like his brother he was educated at Reading School and St Laurence College, and had started his training to follow in his father’s profession. For many years he was an enthusiastic scout, and took a big share in starting the South Reading Troop.

Lieut. Cedric Charles Okey Taylor, East Kent Regiment, attached to Trench Mortar Battery, only son of Mrs. Taylor, 39, Weltje Road, Ravenscroft Park, W., and of the late Mr. Charles Warmsley Taylor, of Reading. Further details are now to hand of Lieut. Taylor’s death.

He died for King and country on December 3rd, 1916, in his 22nd year. Young in years but old in endurance, he was in constant action for 15 months at Ypres in 1915 and on the Somme in 1916. He is laid to rest in the cemetery, at Faubourg d’Amiens, Arras.

2nd Lieut. W. Marsden Cooper, Worcestershires, only son of Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper, 107, London Street, Reading, aged 19.

Cooper was only 19 years of age and went out 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 College. Not only did he have 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 else his modesty which made him so popular with the boys and the 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.
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“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)

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)

“Wounded no less than three times”

Men connected with All Saints’ Church and its choir were serving their country.

All Saints’ District
Choir

We feel sure that members of the congregation will like to see the following list of members of the Choir who are serving with His Majesty’s forces.

Lieut. C. Atkinson – R.N.A.S.
Sergt. J. C. Hinton – Royal BERKS
Sergt. W. H. Clemetson
Sergt. H.E. Hopcraft – A.S.C.
Sergt. W.Smith – Devons.
Pte. F.R. Johnson – Royal Berks.
Pte. H.N. Gaze – R.F.C.

We are glad to welcome to the Choir Lance-Corporal A. Beedson, of the Royal Warwicks, and Pte. S. Baron, of the Devon Regiment, who have kindly volunteered to give us their help during their stay in Reading.

In addition to the above it will be remembered that our Verger, Pte. J. Mundy, is serving with the Royal Veterinary Corps in France, and that our Organ-blower, Pte. A .H. Maskell, who served in the Royal Berks Regiment and has now been transferred to the Essex Regiment, has been wounded no less than three times. We congratulate him and Sergeants Hinton and Clemetson on their recovery from wounds.

Our Congratulations to Company Sergt-Major S. C. Nowlan, Yorks and Lancs Regiment, of 46 Somerstown, who has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

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

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)

It is hard for us to adequately realise the great discomforts and hardships which our brave men are facing so cheerfully this winter

Winkfield churchgoers were asked to contribute to the work of the Church Army behind the main lines.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING.

The following have lately joined His Majesty’s Forces: Dick Dean, Royal Garrison Artillery, Robert Mitchell, Royal Berks Regiment, Charles Mitchell, Royal Field Artillery.

There is not much news this month from our men at the front, but we learn with regret that Corporal K. Nickless and Private J. Winnen are laid up with bad throats resulting from the extreme cold they have had to undergo in France.

It is hard for us to adequately realise the great discomforts and hardships which our brave men are facing so cheerfully this winter, but we must feel that it is a privilege to be able to do anything towards helping to make their lot easier, and so it is proposed that our Lenten self-denial savings should this year go towards the Church Army Huts at the Front. We may well hope that for such an object many more will this Lent apply for a Church Army War Work Savings Box, which can be obtained from the Vicar or the Post Office; and a leaflet in this month’s Magazine contains full information about these War Huts and the great comfort they are to our troops.

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

News of Reading men

The vicar of Reading St Giles drew parishioners’ attention to local men who had recently joined the armed forces or been wounded or killed.

The Vicar’s letter
Intercessions

Lieut. W.T. Stevens, 6th Leicestershire Rgt.; Private C. J. Walker, C.E.F. ; Corp. William Eades Taylor, 8th Royal Berks Regt. ; Cadet G.A.F. Gillmore, 4th O.C.B., Oxford; Private Edward Whiteway, Royal Berks Regt.

Sick and Wounded: Private Harry Sturgess; Private Thomas Morgan; 2nd Lieut. R. S. Wakeford. R.F.C.; Private J. Desbridge, A.S.C.

R.I.P.: Gunner Seymour W. Soole, R.F.A.; Lieut C.D. Vanstone; James Lavender (Killed in action at sea); Albert E. Ayres, R.N

Reading St Giles parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P96/28A/34)

“It is nice to think that our friends at home are always thinking of us out here”

There was sad news for some Winkfield families.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING

It is with very great regret that we have to record the death in action of Lance Corporal Edward Thurmer, Royal Berks Regt. Deep sympathy is felt for his parents who have now lost two sons in this war. A memorial service was held on January 14th.

L.M. Donald Thurmer, R.N. Air Service, has had an accident and has been for some time in hospital at Mudros, but we are glad to hear that he is now nearly recovered.

Pte. William Burt who has been in hospital in France suffering from nephritis and “trench feet” has, we are glad to say, recovered sufficiently to be brought to England and is now in hospital in Aldershot.

Pte. Fred Johnson has just joined the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Berks. Regt.

Mrs. Maynard has received many letters of thanks for their Christmas presents from our men. All seemed pleased with them, and especially appreciate the fact that they were not forgotten at Christmas, and the tenor of most of their letters is summed up in this quotation from one of them, –

“It is nice to think that our friends at home are always thinking of us out here.”

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, February 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/2)

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
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A foreign accent betrays escaped German prisoners

The Standing Joint Committee which oversaw the police in Berkshire heard of an exciting incident involving escaped PoWs in Old Windsor. Meanwhile, single policemen were continuing to join the armed forces, while women and the retired were filling civilian jobs.

6 January 1917

The Finance Sub-committee report that at about midnight on 7 December, 1916, PC 177, George Crook, was on duty at Old Windsor when he met two men who were unable to give a satisfactory account of themselves, and, as they spoke with a foreign accent, the Constable telephoned to Superintendent Jannaway at Clewer, who instructed him to detain them and convey them to Clewer Police Station, where it was eventually discovered that they had escaped from the German Officers’ Internment Camp at Holyport that same night. As an appreciation of PC Crook’s prompt action and judgment in the matter, he has been advanced in grade of pay (2d per day) nearly three months earlier than he otherwise would have been.

Police joining the Army

The Chief Constable has written to Lieut-General Sclater, Commanding the Southern District, Salisbury, giving him the number of Constables under the age of 30 years serving in the Force, and a list of those now serving in HM Army, with a view to the possible release of such as can be replaced by men of the Berkshire Police whom it is advisable to release from further military duty, but who are fit for Police duties. (more…)

Mourning the death of a footballer

A keen amateur footballer was among the Reading men recently reported killed.

Notes from the Vicar
Intercessions list

Albert Henry Eaton, R.G.A. Malta; Private C.A. Pritchard, 2/4 Royal Berks; Private Edwin Gerald Ritchie, 2/21 1st London Regiment.

Sick and Wounded: Private James A. Dutton, Royal Scots. Privates Harry, George, and Walter Barnes, (on active service). Stoker Albert Edward Ayres, R.N.; Gunner Harold Whitebread, R.G.A. Lieut. Robert Carew Hunt; George G. Lanitz.

Departed: Martin Sinclair David; Lieut. Cedric C. Okey Taylor; Lieut. W.F.F. Venner; Robert D. Bruce; Private G Cooper; Capt. W.F. Johnson, R.N.; Private Walter Michael Carew Hunt (Canadian Infantry). Henry Bilson Blandy R.I.P.

Prisoner: William Henry Cook.

Our sympathy and prayers go out to those who are mourning the death of these loved ones. Lieut. Venner was the 1st Captain of our S. Giles’ football club and took an active part in its formation.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P96/28A/34)

Parcels for prisoners

New restrictions made it harder to support PoWs in Germany.

ASCOT PARISH Prisoners of War Fund

On account of the new regulations in regard to the despatch of parcels to British Prisoners of War, it has become necessary to close this Fund. Happily, up to the present only two Ascot men have been taken prisoners, both of whom belong to the Berkshire Regiment. This Regiment has entirely adopted them, though arrangements have been also made whereby the parents in each case are still able to send parcels to their sons in their own name, through the Regimental Fund. With the consent of the subscribers to our fund, the balance in hand, £3 2s. 4d., has been sent to the Berkshire Regiment Prisoners of War Relief Fund, in acknowledgement of their generous treatment of our two Ascot lads. Our thanks are due to the kind donors and subscribers to this Fund during the past year.

THE CHRISTMAS SALE, in aid of the two “Ascot Beds” (French and Serbian Womens’ Hospitals) will be held at the South Ascot Parish Hall on Wednesday, December 6th. The Sale will be opened at 2.30p.m. by Countess Roberts.

Christmas Tree. Bran Pies. Admission, 2.30-5.30p.m., 6d. After 5.30, admission free. Tea, 6d.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, December 1916 (D/P151/28A/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.”

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