Bravery during the last Offensive Operations on the Marne

A soldier with links to Wargrave was honoured by our French allies.

Crazies Hill Notes

We are very pleased to record that Mr. Walter George, Gunner in the Royal Marines Artillery, has been awarded the French decoration, Croix de Guerre, for bravery during the last Offensive Operations on the Marne.

Mr George is well-known at Crazies Hill, where his wife, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Waldron, resides.

Wargrave parish magazine, October 1919 (D/P145/28A/31)

“There is much anxiety felt in several homes where the sons have not been heard of for some time”

More Bracknell men had fallen.

THE ROLL OF HONOUR

We have had to add four names to the list of those who have given their lives in the war.

George Matthews of the Royal Marines, Arthur Wilson, who was formerly one of our choir boys, Corporal S. Bowyer of the Royal West Surrey Regiment, and Charles Olyott, who was a choir man; his loss is deeply deplored, and he has left a wife and three little children. We greatly sympathise with those who have been bereaved. Mrs. Olyott has now lost two sons, and her third son is in Mesopotamia.

Others have been wounded, amongst them Private W.T. Atkins, who only recently went out to France, but we are glad to think his wound is not serious. There is also much anxiety felt in several homes where the sons have not been heard of for some time.

Bracknell section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, May 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/5)

Released from internment

One of the British soldiers who had been wounded early in the war and treated in neutral Switzerland had at last been repatriated.

We have had a delightful visit from Pte. Ralph Grinsted and Corpl Arthur Taylor (son of Sergt-Major Taylor) now quartered with the Canadians at Whitley Camp. Pte T F Fullbrook, Royal Marines, writes from Stonehouse that he is leaving England for the Near East. Many good wishes go with him. Capt. Charleywood Turner has at length been released from internment camp in Switzerland and has paid us a visit. He was severely wounded in Aug 1914.

Earley St Nicolas parish magazine November 1917 (D/P192/28A/14)

The army continues to make its demands upon our young men

Maidenhead Congregational Church had news of its young men serving their country.

OUR SOLDIER LADS.

The army continues to make its demands upon our young men. George Ayres has joined the ranks of the London Electrical Engineers, and his friend Harry Baldwin is on the point of assuming khaki. P.S. Eastman sailed for the East on February 13th, and was delighted to discover Arthur Ada upon the same boat. Robert Bolton is in the R. M. Light Infantry. Arthur Rolfe has been promoted to corporal. Alfred Vardy has been moved to Southampton. Ernest Bristow went over to France at the end of January. Cecil Meade has arrived at Salonika.

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

“There is a consolation in knowing that he did his duty fearlessly”

One man after another from Stratfield Mortimer was reported dead or missing. The toll was beginning to tell.

Garth Club

We have received with the greatest possible regret the news of the death of yet another member on the Field of Honour. When war broke out many members volunteered, and have been serving in most of the fighting zones, – in the Persian Gulf, in Egypt, at the Dardanelles, and Salonica, whilst a number have been in France in the thick of the fighting.

The first to give his life was Frank Goodchild, Pte., R.M.L.I. (enlisted 1913), who went down in the H.M.S. “Good Hope” when she was sunk in action off the Chilian Coast, November, 1914. He took a prominent part in all Club doings and entertainments, and was a general favourite – “one of the best,” and greatly missed.

Next came the sad news that Lance-Corp. Chas. Wickens, who joined on the 11th August, and was drafted to France in the 1st R. Berks the following November, was reported missing on the 15th-17th May, 1915. And it is since believed that he was amongst those killed at Festubert or Richebourg. In the long period of uncertainty the greatest sympathy has been felt with his family and his many friends. He earned his stripe very early in his training, and was a most promising young soldier.

Swiftly came the news of the death of Sidney Raggett, Pte. In the R. Montreal Regt., who also joined in August, 1914, and after three months in Canada came home to complete his training on Salisbury Plain. He went out in February, 1915, was wounded in April, but returned to his duty in May, and on the 21st was killed by a stray shot at Richebourg. His Sergeant wrote of him, “I was awfully sorry he was hit, as he was one of the best boys I had,” and Major-General Sir Sam Hughes, in a letter of condolence to his mother, says, “…there is a consolation in knowing that he did his duty fearlessly and well, and gave his life for the cause of liberty and the upbuilding of the Empire.”

Another period of anxiety has been the lot of Harry Steele’s family and of his wide circle of friends and chums. He, too, felt directly war broke out that it was his duty to join, and he and a friend enlisted in the 10th Hants, and had a long training in Ireland and England. He went in July to Gallipoli, and was in the great charge on the 20th-21st August. He was reported missing, and after many anxious months there seems a sad probability that he may have fallen in that heroic effort. But no details are as yet known. He was a regular and loyal member of the Choir and of St. Mary’s Bellringers, and will be long remembered in the village for his clever impersonation of Harry Lauder, and for his realistic acting at the Club entertainments.

Associated with him, and one of his close chums, was Pte. W. G. Neville, whose death we now mourn. He enlisted in the Hants Regt., and went out early in this year. After a long period of suspense, the War Office have now announced, with the usual message of condolence, and also one of sympathy from the King and Queen, that it is feared he was killed in the great advance on the 1st July last. He was a regular bellringer at St. Mary’s, and he also took a keen interest and a leading part in all Club affairs, and his topical songs and really clever acting were always enthusiastically received at our concerts. He, too, will be most affectionately remembered and greatly missed by his many friends.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P120/28A/14)

“To the last he was doing his duty, and he practically lost his life by his last unselfish and heroic act”

Two Mortimer West End families faced the loss of bereavement. One man died heroically saving a comrade in arms:

West End

It is with a keen feeling of sympathy for the parents that we record two more deaths in the war this month. On May 25th there died in France Corporal John Collis, 1st Batt. Royal Berks Regt. One of the officers of his battalion sends the following account:-

“Being in the Company to which I am attached, I knew Corporal Collis well, and I can assure you he will be greatly missed. He was a first-rate soldier and died bravely. He was wounded and had started to go back to be dressed when one of his comrades was shot, and Corporal Collis immediately went back and bound the other man up. It was while doing this that he was again hit, and this time seriously. We were able to get him away at once and he got back to the hospital, but died shortly afterwards…

He was a fine soldier, and he was beloved and respected here… To the last he was doing his duty, and he practically lost his life by his last unselfish and heroic act when, although badly wounded himself, he went back to bind up a fellow comrade.”

In the Naval Battle in the North Sea on May 31st, Frederick Penny, R.M.L.I. [Royal Marines Light Infantry], went down on the Black Prince.

We are expressing the feelings of everyone in the parish when we say we are proud of these two men and proud to think that their parents have so worthily upheld the example of the country’s other bereaved parents in counting it an honour to have been called upon to give their best for their Country. At the same time we give them our deep sympathy, and pray that John Collis and Frederick Penny may be granted “a place of refreshment, light, and peace” and receive a merciful judgment at the Last Day.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, July 1916 (D/P120/28A/14)

That dread word “missing”

Broad Street Church in Reading continued to care about its men who had gone to war.

November 1915

We desire also to express our sympathy with the relatives and friends of our brother, Trooper G P Lewis, of the Royal Berks Yeomanry. Mr Lewis has been a member of our church for some years. He was one of the first to respond to the call of his country in August 1914. He has been reported “missing” in the Dardanelles, for some weeks. We can imagine what that dread word “missing” means to his loved ones, and we tender them our affectionate sympathy.

News reached Reading a few days ago that Private Reginald S Woolley, son of our friends Mr and Mrs W A Woolley, 85 Oxford Road, had been seriously wounded “somewhere in France”. It is a pleasure to be able to report that our young friend is now making good progress towards recovery, and hopes before long to be home on sick leave. We congratulate his parents upon this relief from their anxiety, and we hope that their natural desire to have their son home may soon be realised.

The call for recruits for the army and navy is sadly depleting our ranks in the Sunday School, and there is the possibility of further loss in the near future…

Talking of recruits reminds me that eight more names have been added to the church section of our Roll of Honour.
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The Church Lads’ Brigade goes into khaki

Over 50 men who had previously been members of the Earley St Peter branch of the semi-military religious boys’ club were now serving.

Church Lads’ Brigade.

The time has come when we are obliged to adopt the Service (khaki) uniform. Many companies have been in uniform for the past 2 years. The Reading Battalion has hitherto tried to manage without incurring this extra expense, but is now compelled to fall into line. The Battalion is making a very strong appeal for the necessary funds to enable them to do this, and we hope our readers will liberally respond. The Church Lads’ Brigade has been in existence for twenty-three years and our organization some three years ago received recognition by the War Office under Cadet Regulations. We appeal with the more confidence on account of the work the Church Lads’ Brigade is doing at the present time. Over 200,000 past and present members are serving in H.M. Forces, 500 of whom are old members of this Battalion, and so satisfied is the War Office with the efficiency of our organization that they have conferred upon it the unique distinction of allowing a Special Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifles to be formed of its members. Of our S. Peter’s, Earley, Company no less than 56 of the past and present members are serving as will be seen from the subjoined list.

4th (Cadet) Battalion Oxford Regiment, S. Peter’s, Earley Company, No. 2679.

Present Officers – O’Leary, Sergeant. C.J., 1st Batt. Dorset Regt. (wounded).

Past Officers – Strong, Sergt. L.P./ Canadian Forces.

Lads – Past and Present
Jones, H., 11th Batt. Suffolk Regt.; Goodger, F., Driver B.R.C. Ambulance, France; Spratley, E., H.M.S. Britannia; Spratley, A., Government Railway Work, France; Green, Lce.-Corpl. G., 4th Batt. Oxford and Bucks L.I.; Leaver, Sergt. A., A.S.C.; Howlett, P., Australian Contingent; Bolton, C., 4th Royal Berks. Regt.; Simson, V., H.M.S. Magnificent; Harwood, P., A.S.C.; Townsend, G., H.M.S. Syren; Admas, J., R.M.L.I. (H.M.S. Rapid); Adams, D., R.M.L.I.; Ballard, A., 1st Canadian Contingent (wounded); Bowden, J., 4th Royal Berks. Regt. (wounded); Martin, J., Dragoon Guards; Maskell, G., 6th Batt. Royal Berks. Regiment; Ansell, Lce.-Corpl. G., 12th Batt. Hampshire Regt.; Harding, G., R.M.A.; Harding, H., 5th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Edwards, F., Royal Navy; Wright, G., 8th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Snellgrove, F., 17th Batt. K.R.R.; Parker, Lce.-Corpl. J., 4th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Borroughs, H., R.A.M.C.; Beeson, F., Berks R.H.A.; Iles, B., H.M.S. Canada; Gains, V., R.E.; Barton, C., 4th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Jacobs, A., A.S.C.; Hitchcock, J., 7th Batt. Gloucester Regt.; Berry, F., 4th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Illott, A., 4th Batt. Royal Berks. Regt.; Gatehouse, R., R.M.L.I. (H.M.S. Stonewall Jackson); Worsfold, A., 2nd Batt. K.R.R.; Allen J., 7th Batt.Royal Berks. Regt.; Neale, W., 3rd Batt. Royal Berks Regt.; Shorter, E., R.E.; Shorter, H., R.E.; Port, C., A.S.C.; Waller, L., H.M.S. Agincourt; Phillips, J., Berks R.H.A.; Watts, E., R.N. Flying Corps; Webb, Lce-Corpl. E., 8th Co. R.E.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, October 1915 (D/P191/28A/22)

Because we pray, a bullet may miss

As the war continued, the members of Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading renewed their prayers for their friends who had joined up. Interestingly, one detects here a little scepticism in the veracity of the legend of the Angel of Mons.

PRAYER AND SAFETY

“In Jesus’ keeping
We are safe and they”

The editor has again very kindly invited me to send him a few lines for our magazine, and whilst wondering what they should be, the above quotation from one of our well known hymns came to my mind.
The thought should be, I think, very helpful to us in these most trying days providing we do, as we might, really and truly believe it.

I take it that practically everyone connected with us is thinking of our soldiers and sailors throughout each day, and of the dangers they have been facing so long, and are facing still, and also of the lesser dangers we at home are liable to meet with from overhead, from possible invasions and in other unexpected ways.

And as we “look up” at the beginning of every new day and commend the keeping of these brave fellows – an ever-increasing number – and especially those whom we know so well, to Almighty God, and when again the darkness falls, we repeat with added earnestness the prayer to our ever watchful Father Who never slumbers nor sleeps, I do think we feel the grace and beauty of those eight words. Are we not frequently being told by men who should know that the power of prayer is indeed wonderful? And some of us would very humbly say we have not the shadow of a doubt about it. Some day we may know that because you and I prayed, a bullet missed its object by a brief inch or two and a precious life was spared.

I cannot but make just a reference to the vision of angels seen at Mons and which undoubtedly many of our men there sincerely believed aided them and discomfited their foes, but I do place entire reliance in a very much older record, “the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them.”

HFA

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“He had only been out in France a few weeks”

Worshippers at St Giles’ Church in Reading had a special day to pray for the war – and a special loss to commemorate.

Sunday August the 29th will be observed as a day of continuous Intercession for the war, and there will be special commemoration of those who have laid down their lives for their country. The Ven. the Archdeacon of Oxford will preach at evensong. He has most kindly given up a Sunday in his short holiday to spend it with us. I hope those who have to mourn the loss of relatives or friends during this war will make a special point of being present in Church on the day.

The following names should be added to those our intercessions list: Francis Henry Smallbone, ASC (France); Arthur Allway, Royal Scots Fusiliers; William Pocock, Royal Flying Corps; George Sherwood, Oxford and Bucks L.I.; Brig-General Hencer, D.S.O., and his division (now in the trenches); Robert Manning , 4/5th R. Berks; Corp. Herbert Telford, 1st Canadian Contingent, (France).

Missing: John Bright, R.M.

To the list of the fallen, George Arthur Smith-Masters. We feel great sympathy will be felt with his parents- well known to us here – and his brother, one of our own priests. He had only been out in France a few weeks after a year’s service in England. Those who were privileged to know him will not easily forget his brightness and humour. Some of us hoped that in the near future he would have been ordained, with S. Giles in Reading as his title. But he had and has other work to do, and as we remember him in our prayers so we feel he will not forget S. Giles’. R.I.P. I quote here the words I used in a sermon on the 22nd, because they were true of him:

“But once I pass this way, and then no more. But once and then, the silent door swings on its hinges, opens, closes, and no more I will pass this way. So while I may, with all my might, I will essay sweet comfort and delight, to all I meet upon the pilgrims’ Way. For no man travels twice the Great Highway that climbs through Darkness up to light through night and day.”

Reading St Giles parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P96/28A/32)

With our fellows facing death, we can’t enjoy a summer holiday

The minister of Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading didn’t think the summer holiday season could be enjoyed as usual. His mind, like many others, was on the men at the front.

MINISTER’S JOTTINGS
August is the great holiday month. Where there are any members of the family still at school this is inevitable. But people are not feeling like holidays in the ordinary sense this year. With so many thousands of our brave fellows facing death in the trenches and thousands of others working day and night in munitions factories and the like, one hesitates to mention the word holidays….

ROLL OF HONOUR
J P Anger, 33 Bartlett’s Cottages, 38th Co. Royal Engineers
D A Bacon, 301 London Rd, 9th Batt. Leicestershires
Douglas Baker, 196 King’s Road, 4th Royal Berks
W Russell Brain, Kendrick House
Horace Beer, 6 Lynmouth Rd, Royal Flying Corps
Frank Brown, 18 Gower St, Royal Marines LI
Fred Brown, 18 Gower St, 5th Midd. Army Reserve
Albert Butt, 111 Elm Park Rd, ASC
Harry Chandler, 7 Junction Rd, 4th Royal Berks
E C E Dracup, 6 Priory Avenue, 4th Royal Berks
Arthur Dyer, 43 Edgehill St, 4th Royal Berks
Oswald Francis, Southcote Rd West, Royal Military College, Sandhurst
Norman Hancock, c/o Messrs Hedgcock & Co
W F Harper, Surbiton, RAMC
A E Hawkins, 19 Liverpool Rd, Army Ordnance Corps
Arthur Hilliard, 60 Watlington St, 4th Royal Berks
Reginald Hilliard, 60 Watlington St, RAMC
G H Keene, 6 Manchester Rd, 1st Herts Regiment
G P Lewis, 23 Jesse Terrace, Royal Berks Yeomanry
Geo. E Maggs, 92 Southampton St, 8th Royal Berks
H Nott, 127 Southampton St, Staffordshires
A C Papps, c/p Messrs Hedgcock & Co, 4th Royal Berks
R Sanders, 158 Wantage Rd, Royal Berks Yeomanry
F Ward, 13 Westfield Rd, Caversham, 6th Royal Sussex
Reginald S Woolley, 85 Oxford St, 7th Norfolk Regiment

In Memoriam
Geo. Shearwood, 323 London Rd, New Zealanders

Brotherhood Members
E G Bailey, Norfolk Rd, 4th Royal Berks
T Bishop, 71 Mount Pleasant, National Reserves
C Bucksey, 10 Coldicot St, Berks Yeomanry
J Burgess, 40 Francis St, Royal Engineers
W Barrett, 29 Cranbury Rd, National Reserves
G Cranfield, 39 George St, 4th Royal Berks
W Cox, Temple Place, RHA
H Edwards, 8 Belle Vue Rd, ASC
Edward Gooch, 12 Stanley Grove, Berks Yeomanry
Bro. Goodyear, 100 Cumberland Rd, Royal Engineers
H T Hawting, 63 Upper Crown St, Royal Scots Fusiliers
J Hunt, 190 Kensington Rd, King’s Royal Rifles
W Lay, 5 Barnstaple St, 4th Royal Berks
W Lee, 3 Essex St, ASC
B Littlewood, 56 Newport Rd, Royal Engineers
V May, 219 Southampton St
C Mills, 23 Eldon Terrace, 8th Royal Berks
H Mills, 23 Eldon Terrace, Berks Yeomanry
H J Milner, 26 St Edward’s Rd, East Surrey Regiment
Bro. Parr, Royal Engineers
M Pounds, 34 Christchurch Rd, Berks RHA
H Richardson, 536 Oxford Rd, Royal Marines
H E Rolfe, 1 Garrard Square, Berks Yeomanry
C Smith, 116 Elgar Rd, 5th Royal Berks
W E White, 20 Highgrove Terrace, Royal Marines

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, August 1915 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Wargrave’s roll of honour

Wargrave was one of many parishes to publish a list of men serving in the parish magazine. This allowed parishioners at home to pray for them all by name.

‘The Roll of Honor for the Parish of Wargrave

The Royal Navy
Bywater, Darol. Lieut. R.N.D
Grey, Thomas Robinson. Sub-Lieut., R.N.A.A.V.C.
Blackburn, Ernest. H.M.S. Glory
Bucker, J. H.M.S. Laurel
Carr, Joseph, Fireman. Transport
Clarke, William. H.M.S. Laconia
Coleman, Charles William. H.M.S. Glasgow
Doughty, Albert. H.M.S. Irresistible
Doughty, Arthur. H.M.S. Tartar
Doughty, Herbert. H.M.S. Queen Mary
Doughty, Horace. H.M.S. Donegal
Doughty, John. H.M.S. Hindustan
George, Walter. H.M.S. Agamemnon
Haskett, Bernard. H.M.S. Jason
Haycock, Charles William. H.M.S. Ajax
Hollis, Alfred John. H.M.S. Implacable
Jemmett, Leonard Oakley. H.M.S. Galatea
Mayne, Frederick. H.M.S. Britannia
Parritt, Edward. H.M.S. Defiance
Pauline, Leonard. H.M.S. Hebe
Payne, William. H.M.S. Britannia
Pugh, Charles. H.M.S. Hibernia
Sandleford, James. H.M.S. Mars
Waldron, Jesse. H.M.S. George V.
Waldron, William. H.M.S. Dido

George, William. Royal Marines, H.M.S. Agamemnon
Pugh, Herbert. Royal Marines, H.M.S. Prince George
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Rejected on account of ill health

The Longworth parish magazine reported various matters relating to the war in their February issue:

Four of the men who offered themselves as recruits were rejected on account of health. There remain to be added to the previous list Albert Underwood (Marines), Charles Batts, William Bestly, Frederick Weston, and Bartholomew Green.

Miss Bartlett’s very excellent Nursing lectures were greatly appreciated by those who attended them, but we wish that this has included more of the village mothers.

£7 10s was sent to the British Red Cross Society and the Society of St John of Jerusalem for the wounded soldiers. The carol singers collected £3 10s. 9d. The rest was made up by the collections in Church. We will give the amounts subscribed for the Belgium Fund next month.

Longworth parish magazine, February 1915 (D/P83/28A/10/2)

Making the soldiers happy

Broad Street Congregational Church in the centre of Reading offered entertainment to soldiers stationed in the town.  Those members of the church’s Brotherhood organisation for men who were not themselves in service took a major role in this work:
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It may almost be called a World War

The Theale parish magazine may be one of the first places to use the phrase “World War”.

THE WAR.
During the last four weeks out thoughts have been full of what may almost be called the ‘World War’ in which Great Britain and the Empire have been forced to intervene to make good her solemn and repeated pledge to support the neutrality of Belgium, ruthlessly attacked by Germany, which had signed the same pledge, to fulfil our obligations to our allies, the French, suffering from wanton military despotism, and for our own preservation. In this righteous cause tha nation is prepared to make every sacrifice, and its justified in appealing to God to bless her efforts and to give us victory. Prayers have been offered in our Church since the opening of the War. But alas! it is likely to be a long struggle, and we must go on praying. ‘Prayer must be made without ceasing of the Church,’ so we invited out people to attend a short ‘Service of Intercession’ every Friday evening at 7 o’clock, and to attend the Sunday Services in far larger numbers for the same purpose.

The collections made in our Church on Sunday, August 16th , amounted to £12 14s. 6½d., to which were added subsequent contributions, bringing the total sum sent to the ‘Prince of Wales’s National Defence Fund’ up to £16 9s. 0d., a most generous gift from our parish. A receipt for this amount has been received from Buckingham Palace by Mr. D. M. Davies, Churchwarden, and have been placed in the Church Porch.

‘God Save the King’ will be sung in our Church at the close of each Sunday Evening Service. The rector is making a list of all who are gone forth as sailors or soldiers from our parish to serve their Country, which he read out in Church last Sunday evening. He will be glad to receive the names of any that have been omitted, or who may join in future. Let us remember them by name in our prayers.

The following have already gone from their homes in Theale to serve their Country:-

Thomas Beasley, Kitchener’s Army.
George Bedford, Royal Berks Regiment, Bellringer.
Percy Bowley, Territorials.
George William Burgess, R.A.M.C.
Walter Butler, R.A.M.C.
Albert Chapman, Territorials.
Sergeant-Major Davies, R.A.M.C.
Alfred Day, Territorials.
George William Duckett, Kitchener’s.
Frank Eatwell, Royal Marines.
Albert George Fisher, Kitchener’s.
William Fisher, Royal Horse Artillery.
Lance-Sergeant Frank Hill, Royal Berks Regiment.
Lieutenant Clarence Krabbè, Royal Berks Yeomanry.
Reginald William Leavy, Territorials.
Sidney Parsons, Royal Navy.
Herbert Parsons, Royal Navy.
Richard Parsons, Territorials.
John Parsons, Territorials.
George Henry Pusey, Territorials, formerly 5th Lancers.
Edwin William Rouse, Kitchener’s, Bellringer.
Edward Theodore Van Veen, Yeomanry Territorials.
James Wright, Kitchener’s.
Oscar Wyatt, Artillery Territorials, Bellringer.

Theale parish magazine, September 1914 (D/P132B/28A/4)