A marvellous escape from an airship crash

Broad Street Church kept in contact with all its men who had joined up.

News has now been received from Air-Mechanic Fred W. Warman to the effect that he is interned at Croningen in Holland. He was acting as wireless-operator in the air-ship which came down there, and had a marvellous escape. We are glad to know that he writes in a bright and cheerful strain, and that he is trying to make the best of things.

Flight Sub-Lieut W. R. Taper of the RNAS has been appointed for duty in Malta. It has been a pleasure to see him frequently in our midst in recent weeks. The good wishes of many friends at Broad Street will go with him as he takes up his new duties.


Brother Woolley has consented to continue his good services by acting as correspondent with our members on service. This [is] a quiet piece of work which is bound to have its good results when things are normal again.


The list of our men who have responded to the call of God and King and Country. (more…)


A lecture on aerial photography

The new technology of flight was used in the war not just for battles and bombing – it was an intelligence tool.

Jan 25th

Battalion order 136. A lecture on aerial photography to be given by Captain H Lejeune, MC, RFC Feb 4th. Extremely interesting.

Diary of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EX801/12)

There must be no risk of infecting the Royal Flying Corps with measles

Infectious disease was a serious concern in the days before vaccination, and the thought of precious pilots being incapitated or killed was a serious consideration.

January 17th 1918

Three boys – Harry Austin and the two Harts whose fathers are in the R.F.C. stationed in Ascot have been forbidden to attend School by the O.C. the Corps. The reason given is that as measles are prevalent in the neighbourhood – not in Ascot – there must be no risk of infecting the Corps.

Ascot Heath Boys’ School log book (C/EL110/4, pp. 91-92)

Prayers for Reading men

More Reading men had been reported killed.

Notes from the Vicar

Intercession List

Lieut. C. W. May, Devonshire Regt.

Wounded: Sapper Woodbridge, L’ce-Corpl. Herbert Standing.

Sick and Wounded: Private Harry Barnes; Corpl. L. Leach.

Departed: Private W. Allaway, Wilts Regt.; 2nd Lieut. B.R.H. Carter, R.F.C.; Sapper George Money, R.E.; L’ce-Corpl. Frank Griffin, R.M.L.I.; 2nd lieut. B Cripps, R. Berks Regt.; Private Bagnell; Private James Edward Cook, R. Berks Regt.

Reading St Giles parish magazines, December 1917 (D/P96/28A/34)

He “saved an officer’s life by carrying him on his back out of danger, under fire”

There was news of many Burghfield men, some of whom had performed acts of heroism at the front.

Honours and Promotions

We congratulate 2nd Lt Wheeler and his parents Mr and Mrs E C Wheeler on his promotion, he having been given a commission in the King’s Liverpool Regiment. His brother, T Wheeler, is now training as a Pilot in No 5 Cadet Wing, RFC. Cadet (ex Corporal) Alfred Searies is training in Scotland, having been recommended for a commission. He has been twice wounded, and has saved an officer’s life by carrying him on his back out of danger, under fire. The following are now Sergeants: E Cooke (5th R W Surrey), R J Turfrey (ASC< MT), E Wise (2/4th Royal Berks).


E N Pike (killed in action), P C Layley (scalded), J Cummings, A Newman, and A Ware (wounded). W Butler, whose parents long lived in the parish, but have lately gone to Sulhamstead, is also wounded.


Jos. West, ex 2nd Rifle Brigade (wounds); Herbert C Layley, ex 5th Royal Berks (wounds); Fred W Johnson, ex 2nd Royal Berks (heart); Isaac Slade, ex 4th Royal Berks and RE (heart); J D Whitburn, ex Royal Berks (rheumatism), just moved to Five Oaken. Arthur L Collins, in last magazine, should have been described as ex 5th Royal Berks.

Other War Items

Lieutenant Francis E Foster, RNVR, of Highwoods, who since the outbreak of war has been looking for trouble in the North Sea, has been rewarded by transfer to a quieter job further south, for the present. Lieutenant Geoffrey H B Chance, MG Corps (of the Shrubberies) is in hospital in Egypt, suffering from malaria.

Roll of Honour
Mr Willink thanks all who have given him information. He is always glad to receive more. It is difficult if not impossible, especially since the Military Service Act, to keep the Roll up to date.

Obituary Notices

The following death is recorded with regret.

Mr E N Pike, of Burghfield Hatch, son of Mrs Pike of Brook House, lost his life as above stated, for his country on 11th November, less than a week after returning to the front from a month’s leave which had been granted him to enable him to get in his fruit crop. An officer in his Battery writes: “In the short time that Gunner Pike has been in the Battery we have learned to appreciate him not only for his work but for the man he was”. He leaves a young widow and a little boy. He had good hopes of obtaining a commission in time.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1917 (D/EX725/4)

“We none of us feel like Christmas festivities in these troubled days”

Soldiers stationed in Reading genuinely appreciated the socialising they were able to do at Broad Street Church – even more so once they had moved on to less congenial surroundings.

The opening of our rooms for the soldiers has necessitated the temporary suspension of the Ladies’ Sewing Meeting and the Women’s Social Hour. Before the arrangements were made the members of both these organisations were consulted, and they at once expressed their willingness to sacrifice their own interests in order that everything possible might be done for the men who have laid us under such a deep debt of obligation. Not only so, but most of the ladies who had been actively engaged in the work of thse organisations consented to transfer their services for the time being to our new undertaking. In this way it was possible to secure from the outset a band of willing and enthusiastic workers. I feel deeply grateful to the ladies who are giving such devoted service.

That the soldiers appreciate what is being done for them is constantly being proved to us. In another column will be found a letter from one of them. But letters of a similar kind have been received. In one of these letters the writer says: “I am getting on alright here, but we don’t ‘alf miss the Broad Street rooms. With all the YMCAs and others here there is none so comfortable as Broad Street.” Another of our former friends writes: “What a difference I find here. It seems terribly slow compared with Reading, and what makes it worse we are under canvas again. We are having wretched weather. Just imagine what it is like in tents. It would feel nice to drop into Broad Street again, I can assure you. Thanking you once again for your kindness to me.” And so the story continues.

We were all glad to see Lieut. Oswald Francis in our midst again looking so fit and well. During his time of leave Lieut. Francis was summoned to Buckingham Palace to receive his Military Cross at the hands of the King.

We were also glad to see 2nd AM FW Snell again on a recent Sunday, after a long absence with the RFC in France. We hope he may enjoy good health, and that he may be preserved from danger as he continues his arduous duties.

Private HS Hilliard, of the RMLI, son of our friends Mr and Mrs Hilliard of Watlington Street, has been severely wounded, and is now in hospital at Bury St Edmunds. We are glad to hear good reports of Private Hilliard, and we trust he may soon be restored to health and strength.

On Christmas Day we hope to have a service in the church as usual at 11 am. The service will last for about one hour, and we shall hope to have a good attendance. We none of us feel like Christmas festivities in these troubled days; but there is urgent need that we keep before our hearts and minds the things for which Christmas really stands.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Chosen to go to America to train men there in “sniping”

A local man was picked to train American recruits.


Pte. A. Beal and J. Harwood have recently joined His Majesty’s Forces.

We were glad to welcome home on leave this month Privates L. Cox, F. Fancourt, N. Nickless, T. Nickless, G. Nichols, H. Ottaway, A. Shefford, also A. Cartland, who has just obtained a commission in the R.F.C., and who we heartily congratulate.

We congratulate Corporal Edwin Gray on his promotion to Sergeant and on the fact he has been chosen to go to America to train men there in “sniping.” Sergt. Gray began his career as a marksman at the Winkfield Miniature Rifle Range.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, December 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/12)

A chaplain among the departed

Prayers were requested for men from Reading serving or fallen.

Notes from the Vicar

Intercessions list: 2nd A.M. Clout, R.F.C; 2nd Lieut. A. Herman Turner, R.F.C.; Trooper M.T. Butler, Berks Yeomanry; Private A. Goodger.

Sick and Wounded: Gunner Goulden; Gunner H. Whitbread; Privates G. Wise, H. Standing, C. Beazly.

Departed: Sergt. C. Spencer; Private R. Egginton; Lce-Cpl. J. T. Foulger, R.E.; Privates Hugh Willis, R.A.M.C., E.A. Pearce, T.M.B.; The Rev. E.P. Carter (priest).

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

“The War still continues, would that it were not so”

Several Newbury men had been reported killed, but those left behind were still keen to support the troops.

The War still continues, would that it were not so. We have suffered several losses lately among the young men in the parish: William James Quinton, of the Gloucester Regiment; Albert James Geater, Royal Berks Regiment; Arthur William Stevens, 1st Devons; Albert Corderoy, Hants Regiment, all killed in France; and William Aldridge, 1st class petty officer, RN, who went down in HMS mine-sweeper Begonia. We offer our sincerest sympathy to the relatives of these brave young men, whom we can ill afford to lose, and we thank God for the example which they have set us.

Harold Hughes, youngest son of Mrs Hughes, of 6, Berkeley Road, has lost a leg in France, and we trust that he will make a good recovery.
We are glad to see Dr Heywood back again in Newbury, after the valuable work which he has been doing at the seat of War.

The Soldiers’ Club at the old “King’s Arms” in the Market Place, has only been used lately very occasionally, because there have been no troops billeted in the town, but we hear that there is the likelihood of 1000 men of the Royal Flying Corps coming to Newbury, and if this does take place we hope to open the Club again, and shall be glad of offers of personal assistance and of subscriptions. The Club, when it was held in other premises, proved a great boon to the men, who thoroughly appreciated the kindness and attention of the ladies who managed it, and gave up so much of their time to it.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

Khaki Socials have proved a great boon to very many

Soldiers and airmen were entertained weekly on Sunday evenings at Broad Street Church in Reading.

Now that the darker evenings are upon us, arrangements have been made to resume the “Khaki Socials”, which have been held every Sunday evening in the winter months since shortly after the war began. These Socials have proved a great boon to very many. Sunday, October 14th, is the day fixed for re-opening, and we shall hope to see then many of our old friends, and many new ones also.

The running of these Socials – seeing that light refreshments are provided free of cost – involves us in expense. But of this we shall have more to say in our next month’s issue.

The many friends of Lieut. Oswald Francis (son of our friends, Mr and Mrs Ernest Francis) will be glad to hear that he has been awarded the Military Cross “for exceptional valour and devotion to duty through the battles east of Ypres” in August. We heartily congratulate both Lieut. Francis and his parents on the honour which he has won, and we earnestly hope he may live for many years to enjoy it.

The aforementioned article appeared in the October church magazine. There was a follow up report in December:


The Khaki Socials which have proved such an interesting part of our winter programme since the war began, were resumed after the evening service on Sunday, October 14th. There was a very good attendance for the opening meeting, and the number has increased with each succeeding Sunday. There is no doubt about the popularity of these Socials, nor can there be any doubt of their usefulness. Quite apart from the number attending – which in itself is no mean testimony – we have the frequent expressions of gratitude from those who deeply appreciate what is being done. There is nothing stiff or formal about these gatherings, but a delightful homelike feeling which greatly appeals to our friends in khaki.

Music – vocal and instrumental – and recitations form the chief items in the weekly programme, and these are interspersed with hymns in which all present heartily join.

Members of the Royal Flying Corps have to leave us at 10 o’clock, but most of our other khaki friends remain for the family worship with which we close the proceedings at 9.30 pm.

We are sorry that owing to our limited accommodation we cannot invite more of our Broad Street friends to join us for these gatherings, but we can assure them that, in their name, a very helpful bit of work is being done by the ladies and gentlemen who gladly give their services week by week.

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, October and December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

So far recovered from the effects of being gassed, a soldier gets married

There was sad news for many Reading families, but one soldier, home after the nasty experience of being gassed, decided to marry his sweetheart.

The Vicar’s Notes

For our Russian allies in their time of need.

For our own fighting men, and especially for our lads who have just joined the army, particularly Charles Upstone.

For the wounded, especially Percy Viner.

For the fallen, especially Thomas Murray, William Eaton, Albert Ford, George Lawrence, Frederick Lewis. R.I.P.

S. Saviour’s District

The brass tablet placed in the Church by Miss Ward, and the new Epistle and Gospel lights for the sanctuary, presented by Mrs Ward and Miss Ward, are in memory of the late Evelyn Paget Graves, Major R.A. and R.F.C.

Albert Edward Barnet and Albert Edward Turner are reported killed in France. Our sincere sympathy is with the bereaved families.

Our best wishes to Alfred James White (Corporal R.G.A.) and Miss Nellie Allwood, who were married at S. Mary’s on September 1st. We are glad that Corporal White has so far recovered from the effects of being gassed in France.

S. Mark’s district

It was with great sorrow that we heard that one of our servers, Leonard Pusey, had been killed in France on August 22nd. He had been a server at S. Mark’s for about 7 years and he always took a keen interest in all that was done in connection with the Church; he will be much missed – we offer our sincere sympathy to his wife.

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

“Now what’s up? Well, I have been up! Yes, up in an aeroplane!”

Sydney Spencer was enthralled with the experience of flight.

At The Race Course
Sunday Sept 24 [1917]

My Dearest Sister Mine

Now what’s up? Well, I have been up! Yes, up in an aeroplane! I am part of an advance party for our B[riga]de & am billeted with the 41st RS Flying Corps for about 3 weeks & well I got round a delightful flying pilot of the name of Hirst to take me for a joy ride! This morning I walked into the aerodrome & looked charming & when Hirst came along & said that he thought the air was not fit for flying but he would just go up & test it, I smiled & said let me go too, & lo & behold, yes in a quarter of an hour I had been for a flight over fields & woods & seem people down below (only 500 feet though) & cows & trees & roads looking like a nursery Noah’s ark affair.

I have never had such a sense of exhilaration in my life. In the last few seconds when we seemed to make a clean dive for the earth & one looked over the nose of the car & saw the great earth loom up & such to met you, as it were, I could have clapped my hands with delight like a foolish child.

One confession however. I was not strapped in, preferred not to be. The Pilot said, “when we come down you will want to grab at something I expect, so grab at the struts on either side”. Well, I thought to myself, Pah, who wants to grab at struts? But at the first dive, what do you think I did? Well, I made a momentary grab at the struts, but only momentary. I felt wild with myself for shewing ever such a small show of feeling.

My dear lady, what do you think of that now for an experience?

All love to you both from

Letter from Sydney Spencer to his sister Florence Image (D/EZ177/8/2/22)

Italians getting on splendidly

The current guests at Bisham were having a good time, while there was good news from our Italian allies. Monte Santo is now Sveta Gora in Slovenia, close to the Italian border.

1 September 1917

Lt McFarlane left 9.45… The Canadians had been on river (Austman and Kelly, RFC).

Italians getting on splendidly. Over 20,000 prisoners Monte Santo.

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

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.


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.


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.


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)

“He has now lost, like so many others, his only son”

A young pilot from Berkshire had been shot down. His wealthy family had moved to Wargrave Manor in 1898 when he was 13. As well as a grieving father and sister, he left a young widow (who after the war married another RFC officer) and 18 month old old daughter.

Vicar’s letter

We all sympathise with the sorrow which has fallen on our old friend and benefactor, Mr Sydney Platt, by the loss of his son Lionel, late Capt. in the Royal Flying Corps. Some of you may remember he used to bicycle over with his father and sister from Wargrave to service here when he was a boy at Eton. Those years are long past, but his father’s generosity and interest in our parish has been maintained at all times and he has now lost, like so many others, his only son. May he be comforted.

Earley St Nicolas parish magazine (D/P192/28A/14)