“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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The Committee hope to send a present out shortly to every Ascot man serving abroad

Ascot ladies teamed up with trainee pilots to raise funds for Easter gifts for the village’s servicemen.

ASCOT SAILORS AND SOLDIERS COMMITTEE.

Thanks to the help of several ladies in the neighbourhood, and to members of the R.F.C., two of the best entertainments ever given in Ascot took place on 16th and 17th April and on both occasions the parish room was crowded, and the singing and acting were greatly appreciated.

The funds of the Committee have in consequence received an addition of £24 9s. 2d. (provided the entertainment tax is refunded, for which application has been made) and the Committee hope to send a present out shortly to every Ascot man serving abroad.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, June 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/6)

A record of which we may well be proud

Ascot churchgoers sent care parcels to their friends in the forces, and entertained strangers in the Royal Flying Corps.

ASCOT SAILORS AND SOLDIERS COMMITTEE.

In January a parcel was sent to Ascot men in the Navy or Army serving abroad “with every good wish for a happy New Year from your friends in Ascot.” The parcel contained a fitting writing case, a pair of thick socks, and some candles for the men in the trenches, and was sent to 12 men in the Navy, 75 men in France, and 13 in Egypt, Salonica and Mesopotamia.

Many letters have since been received from the men thanking Ascot for their kind thoughts of them, and giving good accounts of themselves. The cost of the parcels with the postages has more than exhausted the funds at the disposal of the Committee, and we must hope of means of replenishing the fund before long.

We are very pleased to hear that Sergeant Grimmett has been recommended for a commission, and we cordially congratulate him. This will make the sixth commission specially earned by Ascot, and is surely a record of which we may well be proud. The names of the gallant six are- 2nd Lieuts. Baker, Grimmett, Robinson, Stuart, Taylor and Watson, and we wish them “Good Luck.”

We regret to have to add the name of William J. Tidy (Gun Section H. A. C.) to our Prisoners of War.

CLUB ROOM for the men of the Royal Flying Corps.

Through the earnestness and energy of several ladies of All Saints congregation a Club Room has been opened at the Fire Brigade Station in High Street, the Committee of the Brigade having most kindly lent their premises for the purpose.

Ascot 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 very marked success

Young pilots training in Ascot could enjoy refreshments provided by volunteers.

THE TEA ROOOM for the Royal Flying Corps is unavoidably closed for a fortnight (beginning March 26th), owing to the prevalence of German measles. The tea room is proving a very marked success.

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

“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)

“This year we shall be obliged to keep Lent, whether we like it or not”

Shortages were beginning to affect everyone.

LENT

It seems that this year we shall be obliged to keep Lent, whether we like it or not. Railway travel has been curtailed, food prices are still rising, food is getting scarce, and all the efforts of the nation are to be devoted to winning the war. As Church-people we are used to the season of Lent, but there is a question whether we have kept it as we ought, in fact it is certain that many Church-people have paid very little attention to the Church’s injunctions in this respect. But we cannot disobey the State with impunity, and we should be extremely selfish if we did not do our bit to practise economy, and so help to save the Nation’s food. There are many who might, with advantage, purchase War Savings Certificates, to help the country and to make provision for the future; and we would beg all our readers to do their very utmost to carry out the Food Controller’s instructions, in the spirit in which they were issued. The Germans are not yet decisively beaten – if this is to be done, everyone of us will have to help.

We should like to offer our sincere sympathy to Mr and Mrs Savage on the untimely death of a good son and promising young soldier. Edward George Savage was confirmed at the Parish Church in 1912. He passed away from the effects of pneumonia, following upon an attack of measles… The coffin was borne by soldiers, and there was a following party of the Royal Flying Corps.

We would also offer our sincere sympathy to Mrs Manley on the death of her husband on service, as announced in the “Newbury Weekly News” of February 15th.

The National Schools have had a bad time during the long continued frost: first of all on account of the heating apparatus misbehaving itself; and secondly, on account of the water being frozen. The Managers have endeavoured to remedy the former by adding to the boiler: it is possible that the coke does not nowadays give out so much heat, as certain properties have to be taken out for the manufacture of explosives.

The Parish Room has now been evacuated by the Military, and has returned to its usual state. The soldiers were very quiet and well behaved during their stay there. The occupation brought in a little money to the Parish Room Fund. We trust that outside people, who have been accustomed to use the room, will now appreciate the privilege more. The men who were billeted in the Parish Room desire, through the medium of the Parish Magazine, to sincerely thank all those who so kindly contributed to their comfort during their stay there.

Mrs L R Majendie would be grateful for gifts of material, such as cretonne, for the members of the Mothers’ Meetings to make “treasure bags” for wounded soldiers.

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

“Many empty lorries driven by the men of the Flying Corps pass daily through the village”

Cranbourne people were invited to grow vegetables, while church services were disrupted.

For the purpose of saving fuel and light in Lent week, Evening Services will be held in the Sunday School on Wednesdays at 7 p.m., and Evensong will be said on Sundays in Church at 3 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., until we can do without the gas. It seems to be almost impossible for the Coal Merchants to deliver fuel just now, there is coke and coal at the stations, but no carts are to be had. Many empty lorries driven by the men of the Flying Corps pass daily through the village, how helpful it would be if they could “dump” a few sacks of coal for us at some central place.

Two lectures on “Vegetable cultivation in War time” have been given in the Reading Room by Mr. F. W. Custin, F.R.H.S. Unfortunately there was not the large attendance that might have been expected when all of us are being urged to add to the food supply of the nation. The lectures were most practical and helpful. Great stress was laid on the need of spraying not only potatoes, but the young vegetable plants. The lecturer gave the following recipe for a spray of paraffin emulsion:- ¼ pint of paraffin, ¼ -lb. of soft soap, 3½ -gallons of water. Mix the soft soap with a little hot water, whisk it up and then add the paraffin slowly, beating it up as it is poured in, then add the remainder of the water. This should be used for onions and celery in May and June. Potatoes should be sprayed with Bordeaux mixture at the beginning of July and also early in August. We expect the delivery of the seed potatoes at an early date.

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

An expert airman is an inspiration

Evelyn Paget Graves (1890-1917) was one of the pioneers of the Royal Flying Corps. Born in India, he was educated in Sussex and had spent some time as a teenager in Germany. His family home was in Coley Avenue, Reading – the same street where the Record Office is today.

R.I.P.

Evelyn Paget Graves gave his life for his country on March 6th. He had rapidly become an expert airman, and though he was only 26 years of age, had reached the rank of Major and Squadron Commander. He is a great loss to the Air service, but those who knew him speak confidently of the inspiration which his example has been, and will still be, to all with whom he had to do.

Our deep sympathy is with his family, and with Mrs. Ward, whose grandson he was, and with Miss, for many at S. Saviours will remember him from his childhood. There was a Requiem Celebration of the Holy Communion for him on March 14th, at S. Saviour’s.

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

The exigencies of war are taking constant toll on the Scouts

Three leaders of a Scout troop in Reading were called up.

The exigencies of war are taking constant toll of our workers. During recent days the Scouts have been most seriously affected. First came the news that the two assistant Scoutmasters (Messrs Leslie Pocock and Brian Moore) would have to go; and now we hear that the Scoutmaster (Mr Arthur Pocock) must go too.

Mr Pocock has been admitted to the Inns of Court OTC; Mr Brian Moore has become a Motor Driver in the RFC; Mr Francis is likely to obtain an appointment in connection with the RNAS. Whist we are terribly sorry to lose these friends, we feel deeply grateful to them for their splendid service in connection with the Scouts, and our best wishes go with them as they respond to the call of King and Country. We shall hope to have them back at the end of the war.

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

“Glad and proud that we are able to make a patriotic sacrifice”

A Reading church gave up the use of its hall for war purposes.

THE INSTITUTE

As already announced, the Royal Flying Corps have now taken over the entire control of the Institute buildings, and we as a parish may be glad and proud that we are able to make a patriotic sacrifice by surrendering it, and by what sometimes seems harder, attending with equal or greater regularity, meetings arranged elsewhere. The large Hall is still allowed to be used by the vicar for certain fixtures, but notice of these has to be given some time beforehand, and the number is limited.

Reading St. John parish magazine, February 1917 (D/P172/28A/24)

‘The old buffers are those good “christian” people unable to realise there is a war on or to get a move on’

Percy Spencer enjoyed his brief visit home on leave at Christmas, staying with one of his brothers in London and visiting his workplace.

Decr 29, 1916
Dear WF

These few lines are just to let you know that I have “arrived back safely in the trenches” after a very uncomfortable and tiresome journey. However, c’est la guerre.

I did not go down to Cookham again.

After walking over to Victoria and arriving nearly an hour late on Xmas Eve, I was sent back with a day’s extension, this day I spent very quietly in the armchair at my digs and at Mrs Hunt’s flat. Others more virtuous were held up at port of embarkation and [sic] this side and had a worse – much worse time than I.

I was very happy at 37 Dumbarton Rd. [Brother] Horace’s wife is all that is simple and charming; moreover she plays and sings very delightfully – she has temperament. I do hope you’ll soon have the luck to meet her.

Captain Holliday did not get leave and I didn’t see him. But I saw all the directors at N&G as a Board meeting was in progress when I arrived, which they suspended to have a chat with me. They were all very charming to me. Benny Greenwood who you may remember at Howard’s occasionally is now a Major in the RFC. I suppose he would now be about 23 or 4.

I had lunch with Mr Devlin and all the old foggies [sic] of the firm. Poor Mr Devlin – I’m sorry for him as the old buffers he has remaining with him are those good “christian” people unable to realise there is a war on or to get a move on: he told me with despair that they jogged along at the same old rate, or slower, and expected all the ancient pre-war facilities and privileges. Roll on the day when I can get back and re-introduce some ginger.

Garwood is just slicing the OXO and asks me to thank you for it. Earlier this evening he ventured the opinion that OXO was better than rum – it wasn’t very heartily received. He asks me add a PS that more sausages when next you are sending me anything would be very welcome.

With love to you both
Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to his sister Florence Image (D/EZ177/7/5/43-44)

The Royal Flying Corps trains in Reading

A church’s social premises in the Newtown area of Reading were the base for trainee airmen.

THE INSTITUTE.
The Institute, including the care-taker’s house, at the request of the Military Authorities, has been placed at the disposal of the Royal Flying Corps School of Instruction for the mornings and afternoons of all the days of the week except Saturdays and Sundays. It will still be available for parochial purposes on Saturdays and Sundays and every evening. Also it may be possible to use the small Hall and the Committee Room occasionally in the afternoon, but organizations affected by this arrangement will be given due notice of when their Meetings are to be held.

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