“She was not going to starve her children to pay rates while German wives of Englishmen are getting help”

A sailor’s wife refused to pay her taxes.

5th Nov., 1918

A letter was read from Mrs L Sant, of “The Mays”, Spencers Wood, of the 12th ult, stating she refused to pay rates and taxes until her husband is released from the Navy, and pointing out if Civil Liabilities can help other business houses they can do so in her case, and stating she was not going to starve her children to pay rates while German wives of Englishmen are getting help, and she made to struggle, why not them?

After discussion, on the motion of the Chairman, it was resolved to forward the letter to the Civil Liabilities with a request for their remarks thereon.

Wokingham Board of Guardians minutes (G/WO1/26)

Scarves for sailors

Girls at an Abingdon school were supporting the war effort both by voluntarily collecting their pocket money and knitting in class.

8th to 12th [November 1915]
Children have sent £1 to the War Fund for Soldiers and Sailors. Their next subscriptions are for Blinded Soldiers and Sailors.

The 7th Standard girls have made 7 scarves for Sailors, per Mrs Reynolds.

Abingdon Girls CE School log book (C/EL2/2)

The impact of the war on schools was becoming a national concern.

12th November 1915
On Thursday afternoon Mr Dean, H.M.I., came for about an hour. He wanted information as to how we were being affected by the War.

Newbury St Nicolas CE (Girls) School Log Book(90/SCH/5/5, p. 197)

“We shall win – have no fear”

Thatcham schoolchildren who had sent tobacco out to the Navy were rewarded with a letter from a grateful sailor.

The National School Children’s Comforts for our Sailors.

In a former number reference was made to the contributions collected by the children of the National School and expended on comforts for our Sailors at sea. Another acknowledgment has now come, and caused much pleasure to the children to see that their efforts to help were appreciated. It is as follows:-

“H.M.S. Doris
Thank you very much indeed for your most acceptable gift of tobacco. We have not seen dear old England since the day war was declared, and when we do return let us all sincerely wish that it will be victorious with honour. We are now fighting the Turks in far away Gallipoli. We shall win – of that have no fear. Keep the flag flying at home, and the lads of the Empire will do the rest.”
(Signed) R., & B., R.M.I.I.

This card was posted on Nov. 5th, and was addressed “To the children of the National School, Park Lane, Thatcham”.

Meanwhile, girls in Basildon were knitting away for the troops.

5th November 1915
Girls are busy knitting socks, mittens and comforters for the soldiers.

Thatcham parish magazine, December 1915 (D/P130/28A/1); Basildon CE School Log Book (90/SCH/16/1, p. 409)

No woodwork in Warfield

Warfield children were missing out on some of their favourite lessons, but still patriotically collected money for British sailors.

2nd September 1915
The Ranelagh cookery and woodwork classes are closed until after the war for reasons of economy, and our scholars do not live near enough to attend without conveyance.

I answer to an appeal for funds by the National Sailors’ Society Seven girls and boys have collected the sum of £3. 6s 3 ½d, which I have today sent to the secretary, Rev. W. Burton, 34 Prince Street, Bristol.

Warfield CE School log book (C/EL26/3, p. 323)

Continuous demand for books for soldiers

The parishioners of Wokingham St Sebastian are asked for contributions for use by the troops:

War Appeals.

In case anyone is hesitating as to where they can send donations or articles we may mention two appeals which have lately reached us:

1. Hon Ambulance Association ask for ‘clothing, etc., required in hospitals and convalescent homes’.

2. S.P.C.K ask for donations to provide books for our soldiers and sailors. They have already supplied books to the value of £700, and the demand, both at home and at the front, is continuous.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, March 1915 (D/P154C/28A/1)

Churches crowded

The Sulhamstead parish magazine had some thoughts on the religious response to the war, at home and abroad, as well as reporting news of local soldiers who have been honoured or have fallen:


It is publicly announced that the churches in France are crowded with praying worshippers.

It is with much pleasure and congratulations that are read in the list of men mentioned in dispatches, the name of Lieut. H A Grimshaw, of “The Abbotts”…. Lieut. H A Grimshaw has received his 1st Lieutenancy since his arrival at the Front. The engagement from which this honour has arisen, was the famous attack of the Prussian Guards in November last, when the finest regiment in Germany was hurled against the British Forces.

A handsome Brass has been placed in the chancel of St Michael’s Church by Colonel Thoyts in memory of his son, bearing the following inscription: –

“In loving tribute to the memory of Francis Gordon Thoyts, Major, Somerset Light Infantry (second son of Colonel N B Thoyts, sometime lord of the manor of Sulhamstead), who gave his life for his King and Country at Beauvois in the great war, on August 26th, 1914.”

The Brass was sanctioned by the Archdeacon, instead of incurring the expenses of a faculty.

Lower End Tuesdays at 7 pm
St Michael’s Church Thursdays at 7 pm.

At these services the special form of Litany of Intercession for our cause and our sailors and soldiers will be used. All who have any relations engaged in His Majesty King George’s Service are earnestly invited to attend and join in constant Intercession for them.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, March 1915 (D/EX725/3)

‘Treating’ soldiers with free booze renders them unfit for their great task

The problem of drunken servicemen at home prompted many expressions of concern. One reason for this was the habit of ‘treating’ men to free drinks while home on leave. The following appeal shows the official response, fully backed by the church:

The Bishop of Oxford has requested all Rectors and Vicars to bring home to their parishioners by meetings or otherwise, the following appeal of the leaders of the Navy and Army:

My dear Sir
The late Field-Marshal Lord Roberts, Lord Kitchener, Sir John French and Sir John Jellicoe, the Admiral in Command of HM Fleet, have implored the Nation to abstain from treating our sailors and soldiers when preparing for the Front, and those going to and returning from it. May we appeal to you in the Name of Christ and His Church to do all you can to bring home to your parishioners, by meetings or otherwise, the appeal of our leaders? The custom of treating renders our men unfit for their great task and puts a temptation in their way which will hinder the success of their efforts on the Empire’s behalf.

We are, yours very faithfully
C Oxon, President
T H Archer Houblon, Chairman
H Ferris Pike, Diocesan Secretary

Sulhamstead parish magazine, February 1915 (D/EX725/3)

Our gunnery far better than the Germans!

The convalescent Belgian soldiers at Bisham Abbey had an enjoyable outing.

All the men to cinema. Farewell visit…

We prevented saving more German sailors as Zeppelin aeroplanes came to drop bombs on us. Our gunnery far better than Germans!

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

Few Belgian refugees settle in the countryside

The parishioners of Longworth and Charney Bassett continued to support the war effort:

We desire to express our deep sympathy with Mrs Timms, whose husband has been “killed in action,” and with Mrs Lewis Brooks and the whole family in their prolonged anxiety and suspense. Corporal W. Hutt, Privates Albert Adams and John Loder, who were wounded, have happily recovered, and are now, we believe, on their way back to the Front, where our prayers follow them. Some more men have volunteered for service but they have not yet (at the time of going to press) been passed, we will reserve their names for the February Magazine. We heartily congratulate them on their decision. It is a great pleasure to welcome back to Longworth from time to time, such of our recruits as are able to get leave. For the most part they look in excellent health and spirits.

Longworth has been anxious to do its duty towards the Belgium refugees. A meeting was called to discuss the matter. It was agreed that it would probably be better to offer to support a family in Oxford rather than to get one to live in Longworth. The following quotation from the Oxford Secretary’s letter will show that the decision was a wise one:-

Thank you very much for your kind offer from Longworth village to provide for a Belgium [sic] Family in Oxford. It is exactly the kind of offer we most appreciate. I am afraid you would find great difficulty in making a family happy in the country in the winter, all the Belgians appear to be townspeople, and very few settle down in the country here. We are having a great deal of rearranging and resettling families here just now, and your offer will help us very much with our plans.

It is proposed that we should undertake to provide for a family for three months. The time to be prolonged later if it is found advisable. Offers of help have been received ranging from 6d to £1 a week for this time. A paper will be put somewhere in the village on which further subscriptions and donations may be entered; or they may be sent direct to Miss Crum (who is acting as Treasurer) or to Mrs Illingworth. One of the boxes in Church will also be devoted to this purpose. Any sums, however small, will be most acceptable. Vegetables, fruit and flowers may be sent to the Oxford Belgian Relief Committee, Ruskin College.

The school girls have worked a number of socks, mittens, cuffs and scarves for the benefit of the sailors on board H.M.S. Antrim which is in the North Sea. The school children have also subscribed the sum of 10s towards the Belgian Relief Fund.

Longworth parish magazine, January 1915 (D/P83/28A/10/1)

Patriotic songs in Longworth

The parishioners of Longworth decided patriotic singing should take the place of their usual programme of winter concerts, as their thoughts were with the village’s young men who had volunteered for active service:

We have not felt it right or seemly to arrange for ordinary entertainments and dances while this terrible war is on us. But Lady Hyde is most kindly in arranging for a Lantern Lecture in the Rectory Barn and for some practices of patriotic songs; and Ambulance classes are being given by Dr. Woodward’s kindness in the Manor Barn for men, and by Mr. Moon for young women in the Rectory Barn. We have also applied for Nursing Lectures for women later on.

Please add the names following to the lists in your Prayer Books of the men who are serving their country in the Army or Navy. This is still far from complete. Soldiers: Charles Painton, Richard Painton, Percy Painton, William Hutt, Reginald Harris, Thomas Sollis, William Furley, James Hale, John Hale, J. Leach. Recruits: William Pimm, S. Pike, James Floyd, Richard Adams, Albert Hughes, Raymond Hobbs, A. Henley. John Loder was wounded but is reported as doing well.

Longworth parish magazine, November 1914 (D/P83/28A/9)

The people of Longworth and Charney support the war effort

Many young men from Longworth and Charney Bassett had answered the call and joined the armed forces. The Longworth parish magazine reports on these men, and what people at home could do to support them:

A poster calling upon us to remember in prayer our soldiers and sailors at the front, also the wounded, the prisoners and the bereaved, has been placed in the Church porch and elsewhere in the village. We hope it may be possible to ring the church bell at noon each day in order to remind us of this call. We shall be joining our prayers with thousands of others offered at the same time in every part of the country.

The names of men who are serving from this village are given, so far as we have been able to get them, below. They will also be found in the Church porch. Perhaps we could copy the list into our books of prayer, and so remember the men individually.

Soldiers- Henry Timms, John Loder, Ernest J. Godfrey, Lewis Brooks, Oscar Wilcox, Charles Truman, Charles Hammond, John K. L. Fitzwilliams.

Sailors- George Painton (North Sea), John Richings (China).

Recruits- Fred Heath, Ernest Ridge, George Pimm (Shorncliff), John Porter, Percy Butler, Alfred Leach, Harry Clarke, Hedley Luckett, Albert Hobbes, Francis John Rivers (Oxford), Richard Adams, Albert Pimm (Weymouth).

From Charney- George Shorter, George Wheeler, Ernest Franklyn.

In addition to the above, six have volunteered and been rejected as “medically unfit.” All honour to them notwithstanding, for they have done their best, and no man can do more. Will our readers be so kind as to help us to make this list complete.

A service of Intercession on behalf of our soldiers and sailors engaged in the war is held each Wednesday at 7pm. The church bell is tolled a few times each day at noon as a call to private prayer on the same behalf. We should remember in our prayers the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, whose work is carried on chiefly in German territory. The sum of 7s. 8d. was collected in Church on Sunday, August 16, towards the Prince of Wales’ National Defence Fund.

Lady Hyde has kindly taken some “Quiet Afternoons” with the Charney mothers, and supplied them with material for making clothing for the soldiers and sailors.

Longworth parish magazine, October 1914 (D/P83/28A/9)