100 miles an hour

Sir Henry Vansittart Neale was encouraging his tenants to keep pigs, part of the movement to encourage homegrown food.

Florence Vansittart Neale
17 March 1918

H arranging for “Pig meeting” in village.

Russians done for. Hopeless. Will Japan try & bolster them up?

William Hallam
17th March 1918

A very sharp frost. An air ship went over this morning but I did not see it. Some say it was travelling 100 miles an hour.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)


A critical time

Reading churchgoers offered their prayers for the war.


For the entry of the British troops into Jericho.


For the spirit of self-sacrifice and perseverance in the nation.

For God’s blessing on Ireland at this critical time, especially on the Feast of S. Patrick (March 17th).

For the Russian people at this critical time in their history.

For all our fighting men and all suffering from the war, especially those in danger from air raids in London and on the East Coast.

For Horace Beesley, one of our altar-lads, just gone out to France as a volunteer carpenter.

For all the wounded, sick and prisoners on both sides.

For the fallen, especially Frederick Mott, Wine Place; John Hannon, Milman Road; William Mason, Stanley Street.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P98/28A/16)

“Camp life makes them familiar”

Thousands of civilians from interned countries were housed at a camp at Holzminden in Germany throughout the war. Ernest Delfosse, a 32 year old motor mechanic from Belgium, 5 foot 6 ½ inches, with brown hair, was among the inmates there, until he escaped to England with the help of his sweetheart. Sadly, this did not mean freedom, as he was arrested on arrival as a suspected spy. He was transferred to Reading from Brixton Prison on 5 February 1917. He was classified as a Friendly Alien but stayed at Reading and was eventually deported in 1919.

HM Place of Internment

6th March 1918


With reference to your letter … dated 5th March 18 on the subject of correspondence between the interned alien E. Delfosse and Mrs E Owen, 54 New Compton St, London EC.

The first letter received from Mrs Owen by Delfosse was dated 22.12.17. This was sent to the Commissioners and I drew special attention to it, giving such information as I was able. It was passed.

Prisoner replied on Jany 5th 1918 – submitted & passed. A second letter was received on 12th January 1918 – submitted and passed. Both these letters are attached to this [though not to the letter book copy]. Please send them back as prisoner does not know they have been forwarded to the Home Office.

Prisoner’s reply to the last letter is the subject of the Home Office letter.

The history of the prisoner’s acquaintance with this woman appears to be:

He was interned at Holzminden, a camp of about 24,000. Men and women were allowed to mix for the purpose of visiting restaurants and cinemas in the grounds. He struck up friendship with this woman – also interned – [he] believes for trafficking in letters – but not sure. The majority of the women were interned for that reason. She stated she was a Russian. (I cross-examined Delfosse, who admitted that she might be a German Pole). He cannot (or will not) remember her name – always called her by her Christian name of Emmy. Camp life makes them familiar. She could speak no English and but little French – he could not speak Russian. Conversation carried on in German, in which both were fluent. Does not know if she was then married – thinks not – her maiden name could be obtained from his note book, black, 9” x 4” (about), taken from him by police at Gravesend 20th Oct 1916 (plain clothes man).

On 7th Oct: 1916 Delfosse escaped from Holzminden, “Emmy” keeping the sentry in conversation while Delfosse got away.

Heard nothing more of her until the letter dated 22.12.17. Does not know how she escaped.

Learns she is married to a Canadian officer. Does not know him. She wants to come & see him. Would like to see her.

I think that is all the information I have obtained.

I am Sir
Your obedient servant

C M Morgan

The Under Secretary of State
Home Office

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

The horrible British workman

The news continued to be mixed. The upper class Florence Vansitttart Neale was outraged by men at home going on strike.

3 March 1918

Activity on front – most attempts repulsed.

Much better Russian news – they taking offensive.

Strike going on. Horrible British workman.

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

The pinch will come after the war

The Spencer paterfamilias in Cookham was optimistic, while Florence Vansittart Neale despaired at the situation in Russia.

Will Spencer
23 February 1918

By this morning’s post we received a cheerful letter from Father… Sydney has taken his BA at Oxford. Has received splendid reports from his commanding officers. Was just getting into train at Paddington to come down to Cookham on a Saturday afternoon when he saw Percy on the next platform, whom he hadn’t seen for 2 years. He quickly fetched his luggage out, & stayed the night with Percy, who had just come up from Swindon for a few days, on business.

I was glad to learn from Father that they suffer no privation. The pinch will come after the war, he says, but what can be is being done to provide against that.

Florence Vansittart Neale
23 February 1918

Russians utter degradation, under the heel of Germany.

Diaries of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/28); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Ordered to be deported to Russia

Nicholas de Tcheriadieff, alias Max Priatel, was a theatre manager born in Dresden in Germany of Russian parentage, aged 39. He was sent to Reading from Manchester Prison on 8 November 1917, aged 39, ordered to be deported, and sent on to Newcastle Prison for that purpose on 15 December.

Prison Commission
Home Office
Whitehall SW1

11th February 1918

[To] The Governor
Reading Prison

With reference to the warrant issued today for the transfer of the Alien Nicholas de Tscherriadeiff [sic] to Newcastle Prison for the purpose of Deportation, please note that he should arrive there in good time before the 17th instant.

The man should be informed by you that (1) it is intended to send him to Russia within the next few days and he can be allowed a visit from any relative if he wishes and (2) if he wants to get any warm clothes for the voyage, which is desirable – or money etc, he should take immediate steps to have them sent either to your Prison before the date on which he is to be transferred or after that date to Newcastle Prison.

J F Wall

Noted and prisoner duly informed. He is provided with clothing and money, and the transfer was carried out today.
C M Morgan

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

The acute crisis of the war is on now

Losses were mounting, as the Russians bowed out.

18 December 1917

Met H on return at Marlow & heard with joy my muff found – not parcel yet!

Horrid news of lost convoy between here & Norway. Treachery somewhere. Lost 5 ships in Halifax disaster. Russian armistice begun!!!!

The acute crisis on now of the war.

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

“The prisoner expressed great satisfaction with his treatment here”

Herman von Schraplowsky was a Russian stockbroker, aged 47 when interned in 1915. He had obviously lived here for years and made a home for himself.

17th Decr ‘17
H. Schraplowsky
22.6.15 S of S Order, Alien – Deportation

The above named Alien prisoner was visited on Saturday the 15th inst. by his wife, Mrs Schraplowsky of 66 Station Road, Church End, Finchley N.

The conversation was on family matters. The prisoner expressed great satisfaction with his treatment here.

S [Tanner?]
[To] The Commissioners

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Our hopes of having a peaceful Christmas this year have been dashed to the ground

Reading people were encouraged to place their savings in the hands of the war effort as another Christmas approached.

The Vicar’s Notes

We are still at War, and our hopes of having a peaceful Christmas this year have been dashed to the ground; but this great Festival always brings a message of comfort and hope, never more so than at such a time as this: so I still venture to wish all the people of S. Mary’s Parish a happy Christmas.

The War Savings’ Campaign has begun again. I hope we will all back it up to the utmost of our power. Information can be obtained at the bureau, 6 Broad Street. A big meeting for stirring up interest will also be held at an early date. Meanwhile let those of us who have received the special letter from the Mayor and other leading townsmen, do what we can to follow out its suggestions.

Nothing can ever really repay the incalculable debt we owe to our Seamen especially at this time: so let us do our best to support the Flag Day of the Missions to Seamen, which is to be held on Dec 1st.


For the newly confirmed, who are making their first communion at Christmas.

For all our allies, especially the Italians and Russians.

For all our fighting men and more particularly for the sick, wounded and prisoners.

For the fallen, especially George and Hanbury Kekewich; also for Sir Stanley Maude, the victor of Bagdad [sic].


For success granted to our arms in France and in the Holy Land.

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

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)

The Russians are giving in

Florence Vansittart Neale was depressed by the war news, both at home and abroad – and concerned about new food restrictions on sugar.

3 September 1917

Raids at Chatham & Sheerness – 107 sailors killed…

Mr Austman still here. All down about Riga gone. Russians giving in.

Wrote for sugar for jam!

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

Meanwhile the Sub-Warden of Clewer House of Mercy was heading to France as an army chaplain.

3 September 1917

The Sub-Warden returned from Strensall Camp on short leave before reporting himself at the War Office previously to going to France.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

“Our prayers are needed for the people of Russia, that they may be united in their new liberty”

The parish of Newbury feared the Russian Revolution would make the war longer.

The War still drags on, and the Revolution in Russia has not tended towards making it shorter: our prayers are needed for the people of Russia, that they may be united in their new liberty, and may stand firm against the enemy.

The War has lately claimed two more of our men, and we offer our sincere sympathy to Mrs Cox, of 6, Rosemary Terrace, and Mrs Preston, of 3, Rosemary Terrace, on the loss of their husbands. Several of our CLB lads have lately had to join up. There is still urgent need for economy in the matter of our food, and a food economy exhibition has lately been held in the Corn Exchange.

It is most unfortunate that, just as new and most suitable premises had been secured for the Soldiers’ Club, all the soldiers should disappear from Newbury: and the committee are accordingly left in a difficulty as to what to do. At this moment the club is furnished, but is not open, and we cannot hear of any more soldiers coming. The Secretary and Treasurer of the Club is Miss Godding, and the Committee are Mrs S A Hawker, Mrs O’Farrell, Mrs H Hollands, Mrs Palmer, and Miss A Boyer. These ladies have made the Club a great success by their hard work, and with the assistance of other helpers.

Newbury St Nicolas parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

Restore oppressed nations to their rightful heritage

A new sympathy and interest were felt in our more obscure allies. It seemed appropriate at the time to look back at our Serbian allies’ historic fight for freedom from Turkey, now our mutual enemy.

The Vicar’s Notes

What is “KOSSOVO” day? It is the day on which, after fierce fighting, the Serbians came under the domination of the Turk (June 28th, 1389), and it is observed solemnly each year by the Serbian people. I hope to have a special memorial service at S. Mary’s on June 28th, at 12.15, very much on the lines of the service held at S. Pauls Cathedral last year. We ought to do all we can to shew our interest in those oppressed nations (at present under the heel of the German) which we are pledged to restore to their rightful heritage.

For the wounded, especially Fred Nunn.
For the missing, especially Charles Mercott, one of our servers.
For the fallen, especially William Stevens (killed in action in France on April 22nd); Tom Gray (died at the front from spotted fever); Edgar Bland and Ernest Lawrence (killed in action); Frederick Welford (Drowned in action)

For God’s blessing on the efforts being made to save our country’s food.

For the progress of the Allied Arms.
For the gift of reasonable weather to help the Crops.

All Saints District
The War

We again have to mourn losses owing to the war and our sympathies will go out in abundant measure to those who are sorrowing. In Frederick Sales we have lost a former choir boy and we shall feel with his father who still has four sons in the Army, three of whom are in the fighting line.

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

A follow up appeared in a later issue:

“Kossovo” Day, June 28th, was largely spoilt by the bad weather, But we were glad to see the Serbian lads once more at S.Mary’s, and we had the support of our Mayor, and of the Principal and Registrar of the University College. The Russian “Kontakion” for the departed was well sung by the Choir; and the service ended with the Serbian Royal Anthem and our own National Anthem. Our earnest prayer is that by next “Kossovo” Day our Serbian friends may be restored to their rightful heritage once more.

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

Mutiny in the Baltic

The Russian Revolution took a new turn.

25 June 1917

Russian Baltic fleet all mutinied.

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

Wise dealing with the Liquor question

The Bishop asked Berkshire churchgoers to pray for Russia, our ally in the throes of revolution, and for the question of alcohol restrictions at home.


The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the May Diocesan Magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked

For the Russian people and Government and Church

For the Chaplains to the troops, especially those who have gone from this diocese.

For parishes whence clergy have gone on National service, that their spiritual interests may not suffer.

For wise dealing by the Government with the Liquor question…

Earley St Peter parish magazine, May 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)