Cheer him in his pain and solitude

Members of Maidenhead Congregational Church were serving in various fields. One man was having a nice break in Malta on his way to the east, while another was suffering with a severe wound.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Sidney Eastman sent us a message announcing his arrival at Malta. He says,

“A line of greeting from an isle of sunshine and blossoms! The brilliant blue of sea and sky, white sails and grey giants, sandstone rocks and golden architecture, vividly focussed by the eyes of an enthusiast, convey to the chambers of memory a mental masterpiece in the producing of which nature and man work hand in hand – nature gives light while man gives shade. I am very fit now, and much enjoying a day or two of respite here.”

Evidently the “sunshine and blossoms” have got into our deacon’s soul.

Reginald Hill has been rather badly wounded and is at the Wharncliff War Hospital at Sheffield. We may be quite sure that letters from any of his old friends of the West Street Church would cheer him in his pain and solitude, and would be joyfully welcomed. Letters should be addressed, “17 Ward, 6 Block.” We are glad to know that his doctors anticipate that he will probably make quite a good recovery.

Ernest Bristow is in Hospital in France, suffering from influenza.

Alfred Vardy was married on March 8th to Miss Coxhead, and is now on active service in France.

We were glad to see Ernest Mead on Sunday last looking quite fit and well.

W.H. Clark has arrived at Salonika.

A. Lane has been transferred with his section to Marlow.

Charles Catliffe is with a Signal section at a Camp near Bedford.

MILITARY MOVEMENTS.

Most of the Engineers who have been for some months in training at Maidenhead have been removed elsewhere, and at least an equal number have been brought to our town to take their place. The new-comers seem to appreciate the comforts of the Clubroom more than their predecessors, and use it in much larger numbers. But the Free Church parade service has suffered. So far, only a few attend, instead of the eighty or more of recent months. Perhaps the organization has been at fault, and we will yet hope for better things.

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

Shells laming horses

Wounded soldiers visiting Bisham Abbey gave Florence Vansittart Neale information about the war.

16 April 1917

Went to Engineers’ camp to see dug outs & trenches…

Wounded came for afternoon. Nice set – usual games & singing. All enjoyed themselves. Edie & Mary came.

One of the wounded from church told me we could have taken Bapaume before Xmas but the French Government stopped us to save the town – now the Germans have destroyed it.

Hear [illegible] casualty to horses 10,000 in 3 days! Germans leave shells with sharp points that get into the hoofs & lame them.

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

Well and serving in France

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

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

* * *

THE ROLL OF HONOUR.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conscientious objectors honoured

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

Spencer’s Wood Roll of Honour.

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

*Has made the supreme sacrifice for King and Country.

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

A day of wild rumours

The area was swept with particularly wild rumours about a possible invasion.

27 March 1917

Day of wild rumours. Our navy defeated! Big battle North Sea for 3 days! Germans landed Scotland. All troops mobilized. Nothing in papers.

Went on all today. That there was a great N. Sea battle – 11 ships lost! Then 9!! The Germans had landed in Scotland – then on east coast. All troops from neighbourhood sent away. The Engineers at Maidenhead left Sunday, Marlow this morning. (This latter is true). Also Sydney Elliott at Bramshott, then suddenly mobilized to go somewhere. Heatley said it was a rising in Ireland. Nothing in the papers – morning or night, except Londoner’s Diary laughing at the reports. Last version Germans had taken Scotland!!!

No petrol substitutes to be given out. No more petrol allowance after end April!

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

Conduct, knowledge, manliness, and sports

A prize given by locally billeted soldiers shows what qualities they valued.

The Piggott Schools: The School Challenge Cup

The Cup was presented by the Officers and Men of the 83rd and 84th Companies of the Royal Engineers, Feb. 13th, 1915. It is held yearly, for one year only, by the best boy in the school in regard to conduct, knowledge, manliness, and sports. Half marks are given by the Headmaster and half marks by the votes of the boys themselves. It has been awarded this year to Thomas Dover.

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

Cats bless food restrictions

John Maxwell Image wrote to his old friend W F Smith with news of how food rationing was affecting his household, including the pets cats, formerly fed on scraps and leftovers, but now treated to tasty offal not fit for human consumption. Lord Devonport was the Government Food Controller. More sadly, Rudolph Cecil Hutchinson, a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, had been exceptionally severely wounded at the Battle of Loos back in 1915. After over a year’s suffering, he finally died in Cambridge in February 1917. He seems to have been generally known as Cecil. A memoir of him was published privately in 1918 and can be downloaded free.

29 Barton Road
13 Feb. ‘17

Praeclarissime EMY


The Signora … is away at a Newnham College concert, with a fair Marylander, youthful spouse of a Trinity MA, who on his part has been spirited off to scientific War Work at L’pool…

Well, as for Devonport, she accepted him enthusiastically. The hosue is put on rations of bread, meat and sugar – and so cannily that I can’t discover any difference. Helen and Ann, two excellent sisters, are devoted to their mistress’s will. Joe and Binnie bless Devonport all day, for, obviously, the house-meat cannot any longer be cast to the cats: so special supplied – I trust not 5 lb weekly – of lights and such like dainties come in for their use and behoof. Their little barrels bulge – and the 2 tails are rolling pins for size.

We have for many months baked our own bread – the best standard bread I ever ate! 12 lbs of flour produces a long loaf each day, which is bisected each morning, one half for the parlour and one for the kitchen. Helen, who is the surgeon, rigorously adheres to the Devonport law, and always I see some over on our table at night. The only difficulty is there being so very, very little flour for puddings. I don’t mind, and the petticoats don’t grouse….

We had a military funeral in Trinity this morning. A BA Lieut. There must have been over 100 troops – the coffin on a gun carriage, draped with the Union Jack. The first part of the service in Chapel at 11.45. And then the procession – band playing (very poorly) the Dead March went down Trin. St and Trin. Lane, through the Paddocks. Rudolph Cecil Hopkinson, Lieut. RE – died of wounds on Feb. 9th.

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

“All very uncheery – what!”

Percy’s last letter to Florence on 4 February was interrupted by events. He picked up his pen a week later to address their brother Will’s concerns about a young German friend who had been reported missing.

[11 February 1917]

That was 7 days ago. Seven days of perfect weather and comparative comfort. And now I have an hour or so in which I think I can manage to finish.

Garwood has now gone on leave, and if the present idea obtains another couple of months and leave is still open then, I ought to be home again.

Did I tell you that the younger of Mr Lewis’s sons is one of our RE [Royal Engineers] officers. He superintended the building of our mess. We now have 3 snug (for war time) messes in this part of the world, so long as the Bosch don’t shell.

Will wrote me about Max Ohler who is “missing”. Will doesn’t seem to get my very occasional letters. I wish when next you write, you would tell him that I have received all of his, and that I am not now, and may not be again, in a position to make any direct enquiry about MO. I have however been able to put enquiries thro’ the British Graves Commission and made a request for them to be passed on to the French authorities. If he hears nothing, it may add something to Johanna’s hope that Max has not been buried by us or the French, or if unfortunately he does hear, at any rate, even that will be some comfort too, to know at least the boy has been buried & his grave registered.

All very uncheery – what!

I’m sending you a souvenir menu card of a little Xmas dinner we had. The pennant is our sign by day & the lamp by night – the flags are those of the Signal Section. I hope you’ll like my hurried design.

Also I’ve been to see our follies. They’re awfully good & include some professionals – the “girls” are quite edible.

With my dear love to you both

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/6/12-14)

Greater love hath no man than this

Caversham men’s service was honoured.

ANOTHER DISTINCTION FOR CAVERSHAM.

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

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

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

Caversham roll of honour.

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

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

‘The “liveliness” hereabouts not at all conducive to steady nerves’

Percy Spencer wrote from the Front to his sister Florence to thank her for her gifts.

Jan 29, 1917
Dear WF

I’m a shocking correspondent these days, but business is fairly brisk, the weather simply freezing and the “liveliness” hereabouts not at all conducive to steady nerves and letter writing.

Thanks, dear, I’ve got all the clothes I want, except perhaps one or two pairs of socks, if I have any.

Did I ever thank you for the mittens – they are fine.

And the books too – I haven’t had an opportunity yet to read them but a friend of mine who is off duty sick has been devouring them with great relish.

The other week a subaltern RE in charge of the reconstruction of our NCOs mess turned out to be the younger of the Rev Lewis’s sons…

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/6/11)

The spiritual welfare of those who are so ready to give their lives in the great cause

Reading churchgoers were asked to contribute towards the cost of building a chapel at the closest army camp.

The Vicar’s Notes
Best greetings and blessings to all the parish for the New Year. There seem to be real signs at last of the prospect of peace. God grant that, when it comes, it may be real and lasting.

The Following Appeal comes from the Bishop of Buckingham.

Halton Camp.

With the approach of winter the problem of holding the church parade Services for this large camp has become acute. The accommodation provided by the Churches in the immediate neighbourhood, and by the Y.M.C.A. huts (which are readily lent for the purpose, and which are doing such excellent work), is quite insufficient for the purpose. With the present accommodation it would require many more parades than are possible every Sunday to take in all the troops attending Church.

It is proposed therefore to erect a large wooden building capable of holding 1,000 to 1,500 men, such has been found suitable in other large camps. The primary objective would be to make provision for the Church services during the winter, but the building would also be available for other purposes. It is estimated that the cost of such a building would be £1,000. Voluntary help would be given by qualified architects among the troops and Royal Engineers.

This is the only large camp in the Diocese of Oxford, and we feel that the Church people of the Diocese will be desirous of showing their interest in the spiritual welfare of those who are so ready to give their lives in the great cause by making by making a prompt and adequate answer to this appeal. It is most desirable that the matter should be put in hand at once, before the severe weather sets in.

The scheme has the hearty approval of the General Officer Commanding and the Bishop of Oxford and the Bishop of Buckingham.

Subscriptions will be thankfully received by the Senior Chaplain, the Rev. P.W.N. Shirley, Halton Camp, Bucks, or by the Bishop of Buckingham, Beaconsfield.

Sympathy

During the past month there has been an exceptional amount of sickness and a large number of deaths. Our deepest sympathy is given to all those who have suffered the loss of those near and dear to them. May the divine comforter bring them every consolation and support in their time of sorrow.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P96/28A/15)

The more we feel that a cloud of sorrow is upon our land the more grateful should we be for the message of Christmas

Maidenhead Congregational Church thought the country needed to celebrate Christmas differently under war conditions.

We are approaching our third War-Christmas, and the duty of rightly celebrating the season of “Peace and Goodwill” is becoming heavier. Probably few of us will find much difficulty in heeding the call to cut down the usual expenditure in Christmas fare. At the best of times it has seemed to cool observers a strange way of celebrating the coming of the Son of God to earth, to indulge in an orgy of eating and drinking. But the custom seems to have the sanction of the centuries. Long before the Conquest those in authority took pains at this season of the year to lead the fashion in gluttonous eating and drinking. Even in more stately Plantagenet times Christmas extravagance was recognised as the correct thing. At the opening of the Hundred Years’ War, when Edward III put his foot down on all kinds of luxurious expenditure, he made an exception of the principal Church feasts, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. And Dickens stirred us up in this matter in fine style, until we almost came to regard gorging at Christmas as a sacred duty.

But this year at least, we must modify our ideas in these matters. Food is not abundant, and it is dear, and if we are not careful now, there may not be enough to go round presently. Nevertheless, there ought to be no diminution of Christmas joy. The more we feel that a cloud of sorrow is upon our land the more grateful should we be for the message of a King of righteousness and peace. Our laughter may be checked, but for gratitude and joy there is perhaps more reason than usual. For God has given us a great part to play in the cause of National Righteousness, and the work we are doing and the sorrows we are bearing will result in a new era for humanity.

And though in many a household we shall miss our sons and brothers and husbands, our hearts will swell with a new pride in them. The noblest manhood in them has come out, they are inside the secret of life, we thrill to recognise that they are capable of heroisms. They have no fighting instincts to gratify. They have nothing of the born-soldier in them. They have freely gone into this thing out of devotion to a high cause, in the spirit of pure sacrifice, against the natural grain. Therefore they, and the families to which they belong, and the Church to which they are attached, and the town from which they set out, and the nation of which they are a part, shall be of nobler life and purer vision for their act of sacrifice. May the blessing of heaven be upon them everyone!”

FOR OUR SOLDIERS.

The small Committee appointed to send greetings and gifts at Christmastide to our soldiers has got the matter well in hand. The parcels to Salonika and Egypt are already on their way, those to France will shortly be posted. To those who are still in training in this country, as well as to those abroad, a letter from the Church will be sent, in which we say, among other things,

“We are sure that your faith in God will help you to be good soldiers of the British Army. You will not be behind any of your comrades in pluck and purity, in high ideals and self-control, in heroism and devotion. We speak to our absent boys and pray for them constantly. We want you to know how much we are with you, how deeply we feel you are representing us and fighting for us, and we hope to do our part at home, to maintain a high standard of Church life until you come back again. The Church does not seem the same without its young men. At every point we miss you.”

THE LATEST INFORMATION.

Reginald Hill has been gassed, and is in Hospital. Percy Pigg is back at Aldershot for a time. Cecil Mead is on the point of leaving for Salonika. Percy Lewis has been home for a fortnight’s leave. Hugh Lewis has been transferred to the 1/4 London R.E., and is in France. Sidney Eastman is stationed for the present at Chingford, and Mrs. Eastman has taken apartments for awhile in that neighbourhood. Benjamin Gibbons has been promoted Lance-Corporal.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, December 1916 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Reading men serve their country

More men from Reading were serving their country.

Notes from the Vicar
Intercessions list:

Gunner H. Shelley, R.G.A.; Sapper R.E. Leadley. R.E.; L-Cpl. Mark Seymour, R.E.; Trumpeter Vallis C. Turner.

Missing: Corp. William Genge Heydon.

To The list of the departed: Private Arthur Josey, 2nd Hampshire Regt. Private Thomas Munt; Private Frank Pierce; Gunner H.J. West, R.G.A. Capt. E.A. Shaw; Novice Mary Elsa.

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

Severe shell shock for an Earley man

Two Earley men had been wounded, one of them – brave enough to have been previously awarded a medal – suffering shell shock.

We regret to say that Sergt-Major Jordan who holds the DCM has been seriously wounded in France, and is suffering severely also from shell shock. He is the son-in-law to Mr Spencer of Manchester Road. Private Ernest George Jupe, son of Mrs Jupe of Culver Road, has also been wounded in France. He is one of those who belong to the famous Canadian contingent. We rejoice that his wound is not pronounced serious. 2nd Lieut. T P Norris RE sailed for East Africa on Oct 11 with a draft of 32 sappers.

Earley parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P192/28A/14)

“I am quite happy and enjoy life immensely, wouldn’t have missed it for anything”

Several men from Reading St Giles had fallen in the war. The vicar pays a personal tribute to their heroism:

NOTE FROM THE VICAR

Hearty congratulations to Sergt. S.W. White, 1/4th R. Berks, on winning the D.M.C. I believe he is the first of the old C.L.B. boys to obtain honours in the war.

To the list of the fallen in the war is a long one this month, and it contains some names closely connected with the work of the church (Reginald Golder, Herbert Day, Harry Walker, Leonard Smith), they all played their part bravely and have died gloriously, and I am sure we shall not forget them nor their good work here. All four were splendid types of the real patriot who thought no sacrifice too great for England: all four loved the church they worshipped in and, as I know well, did not forget the lessons they were taught in it.

Reginald Golder was a very special friend of mine, he rarely missed coming to see me each ‘leave’ and his devotion to his Grandfather in the days gone by was something to admire. His final words in his last letter to me, written a few days before the final action in which he was taken prisoner:

“I am quite happy and enjoy life immensely, wouldn’t have missed it for anything.”

It was a letter showing his deep interest in the things and persons connected with S. Giles’. To the parents and relatives of all these brave men we give our heartfelt sympathy. For them we give our prayers and our affection: they have won a great reward.

To be added to the intercessions list: Private E.F. Mundy, 11th Labour Batt, Royal Berks Regt,; Lieut Frank Moore, 22nd Batt King’s Royal Rifles; Cpl. C.V. Pyke, R.F.C. ; George Biles, 3rd Batt,. Royal Berks Regt.; Geoffrey Church ; Lieut. Boston; Private A.T. Henton, 9th Royal Berks Regt,; Private W. Clare, A.S.C. ; Private S. Watson, Grenadier Guards; Private J. Gibbons, 6th Batt. R.I.F.; Private T.B. Mills, London Scottish.

Sick and Wounded: Private S.J. Tugwell, D.C.L.I.; L, Cpl. Mark Seymour, R.E.; Private W Hart; Private G.F. Stroud, A.S.C.; C.S.M.L. Goodenough 1/4 Royal Berks Regt.; Private E. Wilson, 24th London R.; Gunner H.G. West,R.F.A; L. Cpl. A Harris, Royal Berks Regiment.; Private Redstone, Private G.W. Holloway, 3rd Gloucester Regt.

Prisoners: Private H. Guttridge, Private James Smith. ¼ Royal Berks Regt.

Missing: Private Albert Langford, ¼ Royal Berks Regt.; L.Cpl. Jack Foulger, West Kents; Private Frederick Long, 6th Batt. Royal Berks Regt.; L. Cpl. H. Goldstone, R.W. Surry Regt.

Departed: Private Davey, L. Cpl Herbert Dray, Sergt. Reginald Golder, 2/4 Royal Berks Regt.; Private R. Morris, Private S. Land, Private H.V. Walker, ¼ Royal Berks Regiment,; Private A. Josey. 2nd Hants; Private J. Miles, Oxford and Bucks Lt. Infantry; Private Arthur T. Knott, Private T. Seymour, Royal Berks Regt.; Private Edward Rogers, 8th Batt. Royal Berks Regt.; Private John Simmonds, 6thBatt. Royal Berks Regt.; Private H. Leonard West, Canadian Cont.; Driver Rodney Lock, A.S.C.; Sergt Clement Perrin, 1/4 Royal Berks Regt.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, October 1916 (D/P96/28A/34)