Serbians now living in our midst

Reading people offered prayers for the Russian Revolution and for Serbian refugees who had come to Reading.

The Vicar’s Notes
Intercessions

For Russia in her time of crisis.
For Serbia and the Serbians now living in our midst in Reading.
For all the operations of the allies this spring.
For all those lately confirmed.
For the Dedication Festival at S. Saviour’s that the War-shrine may be a real spiritual help to the Parish.

Thanksgiving

For Successes granted to our arms in Mesopotamia and France.

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

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We shall never regret complying with the new restrictions

The new food restrictions were a worry in Cookham Dean, especially for the poorer who were already struggling.

The Vicar’s Letter

I expect we are all, more or less, feeling worried about the Food Regulations, not that we do not wish to do all we can do to support the Government’s arrangements at such a crisis, but the difficulty is, how to do it. In households where, as is the case with so many of you, there is never too great a supply of food, it must be most anxious work to know how best to carry out the regulations.

Let us try loyally and conscientiously to do our best: after all what is the inconvenience that we have to put up with compared with what our Allies in Belgium, France, Serbia and Roumania [sic] have had to suffer. If, as we are assured over and over again by those in authority, it is one of the ways that we can each one do our best to assure ourselves and our Allies of Victory, for which we long and pray, let us do our part as cheerfully and uncomplainingly as our brave men in their trenches and in the North Sea are doing theirs. We shall never, never regret it.

Notices

The week-day collections during Lent (apart from Ash Wednesday and Good Friday) will be given to the National Institute for the Blind, which is doing so much at the present time for those of our wounded soldiers who have alas lost their sight.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, February 1917 (D/P43B/28A/11)

Funds are urgently needed to reinstate the farmers who have been entirely ruined in the countries of our Allies, Belgium, France, Serbia, Poland, &c

Vast swathes of farmland in the contested territories had been ravaged by the fighting. Berkshire farmers, safe at home, wanted to help out.

BRACKNELL

It is announced that an Agricultural Jumble Sale will be held at Bracknell on October 19th, at 11 a.m., in aid of the Agricultural Relief to Allies Fund and the British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund. Contributions of Live and Dead Stock, Furniture, &c. should be notified to the Hon. Secretaries, Messrs. F.W. Hunton & Son, and donations can be paid to them or to P. Crutchley, Esq., Ascot, the Treasurer.

CRANBOURNE

We have been asked to mention that an Agricultural Jumble Sale will be held at Bracknell on October 19th, at 11 a.m., in aid of the “Agricultural Relief to Allies Fund” and the “British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund.” We believe a letter stating the objects of the Fund has been widely distributed, so we need say nothing more than express the hope that contributions any kind of Live and Dead Stock, articles of Furniture, &c will be made by members of the Parish.

These contributions should be notified to Messrs. F.W. Hunton & Son, the Hon. Secretaries, Bracknell, and donations of money may be paid to A.H.S. Elliott, Esq., N. Fitzroy, Esq., or Mr. F. W. Bowyer, who form the Winkfield Committee.

WINKFIELD

NOTICE.

Agricultural Relief to Allies Fund and the British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund.-

We are asked to let our readers know that the Agricultural Jumble Sale in aid of the above, will be held at Bracknell on October 19th, at 11 a.m. The Committee, under the Chairmanship of Lord George Pratt, appeal for help to make the sale a success, by the sending of any kind of Live and Dead Stock, articles of furniture, &c. to be sold.

Funds are urgently needed to reinstate the farmers who have been entirely ruined in the countries of our Allies, Belgium, France, Serbia, Poland, &c, and also to help the Red Cross Society, which has been doing such noble work during the war.

It is proposed to print in the Catalogue the name of each donor, afterwards advising him what his gift realised. The local Committee for Winkfield are Messrs. A.H.S. Elliott, N. Fitzroy, and F. W. Bowyer, who will furnish any further information required.

WARFIELD

It is proposed to hold an Agricultural Jumble Sale at Bracknell on October 19th, at 11 a.m., in aid of the Agricultural Relief to Allies Fund and the British Farmers’ Red Cross Fund. All articles of furniture etc. Live and Dead Stock or donations will be acceptable and all donations can be paid to Mr. R. Crow, Mr. H. Crocker, Mr. R. Lawrence, or Mr. Smewing. Other contributions in kind should be notified to Messrs. F.W. Hunton & Son, Bracknell.

Winkfield District Magazine, October 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/10)

The allies are in the ascendant – but the sacrifice is awful

The Bishop of Oxford looked back at the start of the war and the reasons for going to war, as the National Mission began:

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the August Diocesan magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked:

For all the needs of the nation, for peace in Ireland, and for the good hand of God upon us in the war, especially in connection with August 4, the anniversary of its declaration.

THE CLERGY RETREATS AND AUG. 4

I am very sorry that this anniversary of the declaration of war coincides with the last day of the clergy retreats at Bradfield and Wellington… The observance of this anniversary must, where necessary, on this or other grounds, be postponed till the Sunday.

THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE DECLARATION OF WAR

I trust that we shall use the anniversary to revive in our minds the clear consciousness of what we are fighting for. What drew us, under an overmastering sense of national duty, for the sake of ourselves and all mankind, to go to war, was that we found ourselves face to face with a claim made by Germany, so plainly destructive of international obligations and so plainly destructive of the equal rights of all nations in the sight of God, that it was necessary to league ourselves with other nations in order to resist it, and if possible, to crush it (not Germany, but the arrogant claim of Germany) once and for ever.

It is the cause for equal rights for all peoples: for liberty, and the maintenance of international obligations for such as are fighting: and it is laid upon us plainly to show ourselves worthy to fight for these sacred laws by vindicating the liberty and the just rights and the legitimate claims of all at home and within our Empire as well as abroad. We who have used the sacred words of liberty and justice are on our trial no doubt before the eyes of men. Please God we shall rise to the great responsibility.

Meanwhile as the terrible war goes on, year after year there are no signs of failure to maintain the unity and spirit of the nation. Just at present our longing eyes are being greeted at many points by conspicuous signs for success. For the first time we feel justified in saying that the allies appear to be in the ascendant. We are full of hope. We are filled with enthusiasm at the splendid spirit of our men. Nothing more glorious in its kind could be desired. But the sacrifice is awful. And our hearts are torn every day by the awful records of loss. We can only pray with all the concentration of which we are capable that the awful and long-continued sacrifice, on our own part, on the part of France, on the part of Serbia, on the part of Russia, on the part of Italy, may really avail to build upon secure foundations a future of peace: a future in which the nations of Europe in their attitude toward one another shall be less unworthy of the name of Christian nations.

THE NATIONAL MISSION

The preparation for the national mission goes on, I trust, deepening and widening. There are many hopeful signs. But a great deal of awakening remains to be done. Not so many women as we were led to hope for were in fact forthcoming for the first Pilgrimage, and there were some acute disappointments. But the first reports of the reception of the pilgrims are distinctly encouraging. …

C. OXON

Earley parish magazine, August 1916 (D/P191/28A/31/8)

“It is appalling these awful losses, goodness knows where we find all the officers”

Two of Ralph Glyn’s fellow officers wrote to him with their opinions on the war.

June 20th [1916]
Dear Glyn

Very many thanks for your letter. I was very pleased to hear from you. Georgevitch has evidently done something to get himself into very hot water, I believe the question of decorations has something to do with it, anyhow he is absolutely shelved. You will have heard that a Colonel Nikolauivitch has been appointed Military Attache in London; it is just as well no one proposed Georgevitch for there, as he would have been refused. When they were discussing the question of who to send, they privately asked me & I suggested G, but was at once told that his name would not be entertained for a moment. I fear that there is nothing more that can be done for him. He got into trouble once before I understand over his treatment of his soldiers, & was for this reason only not with a battery in the Field Army.

It is appalling these awful losses, goodness knows where we find all the officers. Still one hopes on the whole the thing is going well though slowly.

I am glad to say I am better, though I have had a bit of [fun?] lately, everyone is having it too. [Hemlis?] & his division have left as you will have heard, most of them I believe going to help at Malta & elsewhere. The country is [illegible] fun from Typhus now, & there is a general air of cleanliness & sanitation about. All his troops practically are inoculated against Cholera.

My wife has been in the North all this time working up relief funds for Serbia, & has collected quite a lot of money; so anyhow you would not have had a chance of meeting her, thanks very much all the same. Things are very quiet here, but I am busy enough with wires & things the WO want. We were visited by 3 Austro-German aeroplanes the other day who dropped some bombs & made a lot of noise, but did not do much damage. We bagged one on its way back.
Wishing you the best of luck.

Yrs sincerely
Arthur Harrison

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A terrible price – are we worth it?

Eric Guy Sutton, a member of the wealthy family which owned Sutton’s Seeds, Reading’s iconic horticultural business, had joined up soon after the start of the war. He was awarded the Military Cross a year later for saving a fellow soldier’s life, but was killed in action in April 1916. His home church, St John’s, was devastated by the news.

It was with great sorrow and deep sympathy for the bereaved family that we heard of the death of Lieut. E. G. Sutton. This most promising young officer, who had already been awarded the Military Cross for an act of great courage and self-sacrifice, was killed on Saturday, April 8th, in the gallant performance of his duty. We shall hope to publish some details of his career in the next issue of the magazine.

“Ye are not your own. You are bought with a price” (1 Cor VI.20)
Most of us were moved, I think, a few weeks ago by a story of almost unexampled heroism given in a list of recently conferred V.C.’s. A young officer attempted to throw a bomb into the enemy’s trench. The missile, however, struck his own parapet and fell in to his own trench. The officer cried a warning to his comrades and himself sprang back into safety, but then noting that his warning had been unheeded, turned back, flung himself upon the bomb and was destroyed by its explosion. And I wonder what were the feelings of his comrades and whether the thought of our text came into their minds, and they said to themselves: “We are not our own, we have been bought with a price.” And I wonder how many of us at home had the same thought in our minds as we read the account, or whether we have ever sufficiently thought at all that not to one such glorious act of heroism, but to countless splendid and ungrudging acts of devotion, do we owe today the security of our shores, the air we breathe untainted by foul poison emanations, the food we eat unstinted in quantity, our women their honour, our children their deliverance from brutality, our old people the quiet, even tenor of their placid lives, and all of us our immunity from the horrors that have desolated Belgium and Poland and Serbia.

We are bought with a price! Who will deny it? Vicarious suffering! Vicarious death!, say some. “We can’t understand it, we can’t accept it!” To such, I say: Alas for the poverty of your intellect and the hardness of your heart, when the very thing is happening today before your very eyes and crying to your souls. When not one minute passes, but even now in France, in Russia, on the seas, wherever the ceaseless battle rages, a man dies that other men may live. We are bought with a price, and day by day in that pitiful concentration of tragedy we know as the casualty list, the bill is presented, and every now and then, at longer intervals, the account is rendered up to date. And how stands it today? Some half a million of Englishmen slain, mutilated, sick, languishing in pestilent Wittenberg prison camps – for us. Mown down by machine guns, crashing from the air in the shattered aeroplane, settling to the ocean-bed in the sunken submarine, buried beneath the soil, buried beneath the waves, unburied in the hideous no-man’s-land between the trenches, tossing in our hospitals, limping about our streets, cry of the wounded and sob of the broken of heart, laughing boys who do not know what awaits them, grave-faced men who do, going forth in courage to do their part – behold the price that is paid; the price that is paid for us; in virtue of which we sit tranquilly in this church this morning, and shall walk tranquilly home to our tranquil and ample dinners.

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An adventurous march through Serbia

A friend of Ralph Glyn’s wrote to him with news of his wife. She may have been one of the women nursing at hospitals in wartorn Serbia.

General Staff “I”
Salonica Expeditionary Force
April 12, 1916

Dear Glyn

Many thanks for your note. I am sorry not to have answered it before.

My wife got safely down from Belgrade after an adventurous march through Serbia with the British Naval Mission. She arrived here at the end of November, & was with me till the end of January, when she went to England.

At present she is staying with an English woman friend of ours in Capri, where I want her to rest & recuperate for some time, as she is by no means well, and tried her strength very high on Serbia. She came to see me again for a day or two en route, rather deviously, from England to Italy.

Many thanks for your kind enquiry which I have passed on to her, with news of where you are.

Yours sincerely
Arthur More

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/27)

“It is extraordinarily difficult to teach the officers anything but the men are good”

Ralph Glyn’s friend Hereward Wake was now training soldiers in Wiltshire. He was not impressed – but at least he approved of Sir William Robertson (1860-1922), the new Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

General Staff
61st (SM) Division

9/4/16
Salisbury

My dear Ralph

Three letters from you to answer, more shame to me, but I am putting in more work than usual here, preparing for the fray. This Division has existed 15 months. Warned for war 6 weeks ago, they thought it ought to be trained, so it was armed& equipped, the whole of the Staff & commanders were changed, & for the first time the men fired a rifle & carried a pack. Result, as far as the targets are concerned, was complete immunity. And the people figured bravely in the scheme for Home Defence for over a year. It is extraordinarily difficult to teach the officers anything but the men are good. We shall begin to come over early next month.

I left WO on 1st March, so what can I do for you? Charles French can help you, however.

I sympathize very much with you being in Egypt and hope you may escape. If it absolutely depends on Salonika it looks bad. You say there are only 2 courses there, offensive or clear out, so I suppose we shall take the third, namely stay there & do nothing. I wonder if the Greeks might fare badly at the hands of the Bulgars if we cleared out? Would they not at once take Salonika? And how are we at the end the war (if there ever is an end) to get them out of it again, or for that matter to re-establish Servia [sic]?

The big storm here 2 weeks ago has flattened everything in the Midlands & the roads are still blocked with trees & telegraph wires – the poles all snapped off short at Courteenhall & there was 3’ [feet] of snow. We had less of it here, but a lot of trees down.

Remember me to Linden Bell – a good Staff Officer, isn’t he? as well as a good fellow.

I feel great confidence now that Robertson is CIGS. He loves the truth better than himself, and fears nobody.

Yours
Hereward

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/26)

Tragedy too deep for words

Burghfield schoolchildren celebrated Empire Day on 13 March 1916 with a set of patriotic tableaux.

MRS BLAND’S SCHOOL

The children of Burghfield Common have beaten all records in the matter of attracting an audience at the Technical Schools. Not a seat was empty when they gave their bright little performance on Empire Day, and whether or not the whole programme was evolved from Miss Jackson’s own brain, it was cleverly conceived and admirably carried out.

Gordon Prior, aged only 13, ably undertook the accompaniments, the chief item being a representation of the Allied countries now at war with the Central European Powers. Florence Pembroke, in gorgeous silver armour as Britannia, Elsie Love as France, Kathleen Bunce as Belgium, Raymond Batts as Japan, Italy by Ernest Brant, Russia and Servia [sic] by Frank Lalouette and William Emms, made a tableau which reminded us, alas! of a tragedy too deep for words, and only a strong personal interest in the performers themselves and their capable achievement enabled us for a moment to forget the anguish of the reality.

A collection made at the doors raised £4 12s 6d, which has been devoted to the aid of soldiers blinded during the war, whose case perhaps makes a greater appeal to our sympathies than any other, and we sent all our love and pity with the pennies so freely and cheerfully contributed by all the company.

Burghfield parish magazine, July 1916 (D/EX725/3)

A Tramp Sister in Russia

A nurse from Wargrave was working in Russia, where the Winter Palace in St Petersburg (now the Hermitage Museum) had been converted into a war hospital.

A Tramp Sister

The following letter has just arrived from Russia. Nurse Borlase is a “Tramp Sister”; when met by Miss S. in London, she had just come back from Serbia. She had been doing special work, going on to any vessel where there were wounded, where no nurse and often no doctor were to be found to tend them on the first hurried journey – She just did what she could, with nothing to do it with, to make the lads more comfortable and cheer them up.

This letter has arrived from her and tells of the new work just starting, but I feel very sure that before long she will be down on the shores of the Baltic – She has been “a Tramp Sister” and a tramp sister is never cured of tramping.

Dear Miss C.

I am working at the Anglo-Russian Hospital, we have arrived, but the palace and club are not quite ready, so we cannot get to work. We are gong to the “Winter Palace” daily, to help cut dressings. If your Society can spare me some dressings I should be so grateful. I hope soon to be sent outside to a Field Dressing Station and shall require lots of things. The cold is intense, lots of snow and everything is expensive.

We have a Canadian Sister on the staff, who is rejoicing in the snow and cold. I am taking the opportunity of seeing work in the other hospitals, and, of course, am doing the Churches; they are very fine, and glorious singers.

There is such a noise from the workmen and a great deal of chattering, so I hardly know what I am writing, therefore excuse such a poor letter.

I am, yours sincerely
Jessie. E. Borlase.

This Society is now recognised by the War Office. All parcels are sent to Hospitals named by the War Office as most in need. All parcels are sent “Carriage free” by Government Authority.’

Wargrave parish magazine, January 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

A tremendous boon for the nurses

The Surgical Dressing Emergency Society in Wargrave, a group of women who spent their spare time making dressings for wounds and also clothes and general comforts for the wounded found their efforts were gratefully received by the matrons of the hospitals.

Surgical Dressing Emergency Society: Wargrave

Dressings have been sent to France, Belgium, Servia [sic], all along the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force Area, and especially to outlying Casualty Clearing Hospitals and Stations.

Old linen and comforts are coming in very well, and parcels of lovely shirts, pyjamas, socks etc, have been sent out this month with the “Kits”.

Letters Received
To the S.D.E.S., Wargrave
Somewhere in the Mediterranean. No. 1
Dear Madam,

A most splendid Bale arrived here today from you. I cannot tell you how very grateful I am to receive it, and all the things, (shirts, socks, pyjamas, etc.) we are always so glad to use – Many, many thanks.

It is such a tremendous boon for the Nurses to find these dressings so ready for them to use, it is the utmost help, for we are all as busy as we can be.
Yours very gratefully
——————-,
Matron

This is a large tent Hospital, in a well-known Island. The Matron and Nurses are under-staffed and need everything. There are 4000 cases.

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A Red Cross nurse from Reading is taken prisoner

The latest list of those serving from Reading St Giles included a woman, Hilda Willes, who was a Red Cross nurse in embattled Serbia and was believed to have been taken prisoner.

Notes from the Vicar

To be added to the intercession list:-

Edward Monk, A.S.C.; James Thomas Rhodes; Lewis Andrew Tudor, Berks Yeomanry; Hilda Willes, Red Cross Nurse, thought to be a prisoner in Serbia; Percy Emery, Berks Yeomanry, died in Egypt, October 26th, R.I.P.; Cyril Scrivener, Berks Yeomanry, who is ill in one of the hospitals in Malta; Victor Edward Burgess, R.A.M.C.; William E. Haynes, R.E.; Captain Ernest Dudley Mathews, H.K.S.B., R.G.A., Egypt; Samuel Frances O’Grady Haslem; Norman J. Darby, R.F.; Leslie Darby, Canadian Contingent.

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

The postman is going to Persia

Florence Vansittart Neale was still keeping busy working with the local ed Cross. Sydney Spencer was too busy now that he was training in the army to write much in his diary. But he occasionally found the time to write a few words. He was the perfect choice to run his battalion’s library.

Florence Vansittart Neale
22 November 1915

Went to meeting re Red X at Christine’s… Settled to keep money to go to meeting at Maidenhead. I to Park Place [for] a final “quilt” party…

Geoffrey (the postman) starting for Persia [now Iran]. Seems little more hope for Servia [sic].

Sydney Spencer
Nov 22nd [1915]

Battalion order 4. Library formed at 19 Northgate Street under 2nd Lt H E Loughton & S Spencer.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8); Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EX801/12)

Is Greece on our side or not?

Florence Vansittart Neale was working with women at home towards the war effort, while paying close attention to the war overseas.

15 November 1915

Servian [sic] phase disquieting. Greece asked to give answer – our side or not!…

I to Reading for meeting about women’s work in war scheme.

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

“I wonder what the Archangel Michael thinks of destroyers and aeroplanes”

The Bishop of Peterborough and his wife wrote to their son Ralph, serving in the Dardanelles, with the latest news of political developments at home, and an encounter with two disillusioned soldiers serving with the Canadian forces. See here for more about Munro.

Nov 13 [1915]
The Palace
Peterborough

My darling Ralph

Thank you so much for your great letter to me of Nov 2nd & telling us of your going off in the Destroyer on work – & that we possibly may catch you by a letter to Marseilles – so here it is.
You will indeed have a good experience – & going about in this way will be full of new interest – but I can understand your reluctance to leave General Headquarters. I see that General Munro is gone to Salonika, & when I saw it in today’s papers, I wondered if you would have gone there with him – but you will not have gone off on your “destroyer cruise” before he left.

Everyone tells us that Munro is first rate & I heard also that in France he did a job that Haig got praised for & held a tough corner & saved us at one time, & then was not as fully appreciated for it as he should have been.

Your name appears in today’s Times, with K’s and 3 or 4 others, as “persecuted” by HM to wear your Servian & Russian orders – so there you are!

God bless & keep you
Your loving father
E C Peterborough
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