“Died through lead poisoning contracted while on Government work in France”

The Berkshire Committee of the National Relief Fund tried to help people thrown into economic disarray as a direct result of the war.

24 June 1918
Shire Hall

The Secretary reported that he had been successful in obtaining work for Mrs Swain with Messrs Gill & Sons, Tailors, Reading. Mrs Swain had, however, since stated that she wished to go to Holland where it was understood her husband had been transferred. The Secretary stated that he had informed Mrs Swain that he did not think it would be possible for her to obtain a permit to do this, and nothing further had been heard in the matter.

The case of Mrs Coleman, Station Road, Twyford, whose husband was killed in an Air-raid on London was considered, and a letter was read stating that the Lords Commissioners had sanctioned an award of £250 to Mrs Coleman. The Committee were asked to inform the Government Committee of their proposals for the disbursement of the amount in the best interests of the dependents, and in order to do this it was agreed that the Chairman and Mr F Bate should interview Mrs Coleman on the following Monday, 1st July.

The Chairman stated that he had authorised as a case of urgent necessity, two grants of £5 to be expended by the Rev. H Tower of Windsor, on behalf of Mrs Kate Clarke, St Leonards Road, Windsor, whose husband had died through lead poisoning contracted while on Government work in France.

The action of the Chairman was confirmed and a further grant of £5 authorised to be paid if necessary.

An application for assistance received from Miss Lipscombe, Maidenhead, was considered and refused, as it was not considered one of distress directly due to the present war.

The Secretary reported the result of his enquiries of Mr Davies, Maidenhead, in the case of Mrs Willis, to the effect that it would appear that Mrs Willis would not be able to take up employment. It was suggested that the case be referred to the Central Office asking whether a final grant might be given to the woman, and the Secretary was instructed accordingly.

The Treasurer reported that the loan of £3 made in April 1917 to Mrs Lake, Yew Tree Farm, Swallowfield, the period for repayment of which had been extended, was now five months overdue, and asked for instructions as to any necessary action in the matter.

After consideration it was agreed that the promissory note be returned to Mrs Lake and the loan treated as a gift.

National Relief Fund: Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1)

So many are giving their lives for us that we may enjoy freedom, that we must be willing to make our smaller sacrifices and use our freedom unselfishly and for others

There was news of several Sulhamstead soldiers.

THE WAR

We congratulate Mrs Grimshaw upon her son’s latest honour. Captain Grimshaw, MC, has been awarded the Croix de Guerre, Senior Class (with Palm).

Mr Harry Frank Wise, Queen’s Own Oxford Hussars, who proceeded to France in October, 1914, has been given, on the field officer’s recommendation, rank as lieutenant.

We regret to record many casualties and one death since our last issue. Colour Sergeant Major Robert East, 3rd Battalion AIF, has been returned home seriously wounded. His leg has been amputated above the knee, and he lies in a very serious condition. It will be remembered that his brother, Private Amos East, was returned seriously invalided. At the same hospital as C. Sergeant Major Robert East is Gunner Reginald Briant Brown, RFA, son of Mr Brown of Jame’s Farm, Lower End, [who] is also lying wounded.

Private Albert Painter, 8th Berks Battalion, Stretcher Bearer, has been missing since March 31st.

Amongst others connected with the parish, we have received tidings of the death of Private Ernest Brown, RFA, son of the late Mr Henry Brown of the Kennels.

It is with great sorrow that we announce two deaths. Private Henry Bonner, 2nd Battalion, Royal Berks Regiment, was killed in action during the period from March 22nd to April 2nd. This is all the War Office can communicate.

The second death was that of the son, Samuel, of Mr and Mrs Locke. He was sent back to England wounded, died in Hospital at Reading, and was buried at Shinfield on May 14th. It is only a few months since his brother’s death. So many are giving their lives for us that we may enjoy freedom, that we must be willing to make our smaller sacrifices and use our freedom unselfishly and for others.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, June 1918 (D/EX725/4)

The best results are obtained only by getting into touch with the men personally

Thousands of wounded or sick troops had now returned home. the nation owed them support for their service. Some needed medical help, others re-training for new occupations, or help finding jobs.

The Disablements Sub-committee beg to report that they have been notified of approximately 2,524 disabled soldiers and sailors discharged into the county. Of the cases now entered upon the Register, which exclude those being investigated, the numbers specifying disabilities are as follows:

Amputation of leg or foot 51
Amputation of arm or hand 34
Other wounds or injuries to leg or foot 353
Other wounds or injuries to arm or hand 147
Other wounds or injuries to head 69
Other wounds or injuries 192
Blindness and other eye affections 77
Heart diseases 217
Chest complaints 93
Tuberculosis 101
Deafness and affections of the ear 72
Rheumatism 151
Epilepsy 37
Neurasthenia 47
Other mental affections 31
Other disabilities 532

Of this number all have been provided with a Medical Attendant [i.e. a doctor] under the National Health Insurance Act, and special treatment, including the supply or repair of artificial limbs and surgical appliances, has been provided in accordance with the recommendations of Military Authorities, Medical Boards or ordinary medical Attendants.

From the 1 April 1917, 280 cases have received Institutional treatment – both in and out-patient – at Military Hospitals, Civil Hospitals, Sanatoria, Cottage Hospitals or Convalescent Homes.
The total number of tuberculous soldiers and sailors to date is 101, and of these 72 have received Institutional treatment within the County under the County Scheme and three have received Institutional treatment outside the County Scheme. This treatment is provided through the County Insurance Committee.

The Committee has assisted with Buckinghamshire War Pensions Committee in the provision of a new wing for Orthopaedic Treatment at the King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor. This, which was urgently needed, and will be of the greatest benefit to men in that part of the county, will be opened in the course of two or three weeks. The Committee has also been instrumental with the Buckinghamshire Committee in obtaining the approval of the Minister of Pensions to a proposed Scheme for the provision, equipment, and establishment of a special hospital for totally disabled soldiers and sailors at Slough and an assurance from the Ministry of adequate fees for maintenance thereof. Her Royal Highness Princess Alice is forming a provisional Committee, and we have every hope that the proposed arrangements will e speedily carried into effect.
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The War Department should contribute to road repairs

Berkshire County Council’s Highways and Bridges Committee tackled the thorny question of who was to pay for damage to local roads caused by heavy army traffic.

MILITARY TRAFFIC

In connection with the claim against the War Department for damage to main roads by military traffic, the following estimates were, at their request, submitted to the Road Board:

Ascot to Wokingham Road: Resurfacing sides with tarmac in place of granite, £1541
Wokingham to Reading Road: Ditto, £2394
Bath Road, Reading to Hungerford: Ditto, £3544
Bath Road, Hungerford to Wilts county boundary: Strengthening foundations and resurfacing with tarmac, £4578
Total £12,057

After consideration the Board came to the conclusion that it would be reasonable for the War Department to make some contribution to the proposed expenditure, but pointed out that the works, if carried out, would not only provide the Council with better roads than those at present existing, but would also anticipate, for a number of years, works of renewal which, in the ordinary course, would have to be provided for in maintenance account.

The Road Board state that if the Council will undertake to carry out the works … the War Department will make a contribution of £2800 in settlement of the Council’s claim. In addition to this contribution the Board will be prepared – subject to the approval of the Treasury – to make a grant to the Council, out of the Road Improvement Fund, of £4050, and to advance the balance of £5207 by way of loan, free of interest, repayable by five annual instalments.

As the matter was urgent the Road Board were informed on 24 June, 1916, that the Council would be prepared to carry out the works mentioned in the estimates upon the terms offered…

Reading and Eversley road.
Owing to the heavy military traffic, the main road from Reading through Shinfield and Arborfield has suffered considerable damage. The road has been inspected by the Engineering Inspector of the Road Board; and an estimate of the necessary repairs is being prepared with a view to a claim being made on the Military Authorities.

MILITARY REQUISITIONS

A further requisition has been received from the Military Authorities for the improvement of a private road at Ascot for military purposes at a cost of £92, and the works re being carried out by the committee in accordance with the general authority given to them by the Council. The estimate has been forwarded to the Finance Committee.

Payments to Sub-surveyors.
As these military requisitions throw a considerable amount of extra work on the Sub-surveyors, the committee have asked the Finance Committee to consider whether a proportion of the 10 per cent allowance to the County Council by the Road Board for administrative expenses should be paid to the Sub-surveyors….

WORKMEN’S WAGES

In consequence of the higher wages which are now being paid to workmen generally throughout the county, the committee have considered it advisable to recommend that an advance of wages be made to lengthmen and men employed with the tarring and roller gangs, for the period of the war….

C A Ferard, Chairman
8 July, 1916

BCC Highways and Bridges Committee report (C/CL/C1/1/19)

No school Medical Officer should be pressurised to join the army

The local Education Authority was affected by the war in multiple ways, including the use of schools by the army, the decision of teachers to join up, and the thorny question of whether some of the boys should be allowed to take time of school to help on farms.

Higher Education Sub-committee
Evening and Technical Schools

INSTRUCTION FOR TROOPS
Letters have been received from the Eastern and Southern Commands asking whether the Committee were prepared to offer instruction in certain specified subjects for troops in these Commands. Similar instruction has been provided by the County Education Authorities of East and West Sussex.

The Sub-committee recommend that, as far as possible, assistance should be given to the Military Authorities, and the secretary has been instructed to report on the matter to the Committee at this meeting.

MAIDENHEAD TECHBNICAL INSTITUTE
This Institution is still in the hands of the Military Authorities for use as a Hospital.

School Management Sub-committee
TEACHERS ON MILITARY SERVICE
Up to 1st March, thirty-three Teachers from the Elementary Schools of the County had joined H M Forces…

In reply to a letter, the Board of Education have replied that they do not consider that teachers who are absent on Military service can be regarded as forming part of the staff of the school for the purposes of the Code. The Board expect Authorities to make every effort to comply with the requirements of the Code by providing a suitable and efficient staff for their schools and by maintaining them in a state of efficiency. Should it not be possible to obtain the services of a qualified teacher, the Board are however prepared to exercise the discretion reserved to them under the Code and to take into consideration the employment of unqualified teachers appointed on supply.

USE OF SCHOOLS BY MILITARY AUTHORITIES
During the quarter the following schools have been used by the Military Authorities for billeting troops for short periods: Shinfield CE, Shinfield Three-Mile-Cross, and Finchampstead.
The Hungerford Technical Institute (Special Subjects Centre) has also been requisitioned as a Red Cross Hospital since 2nd Fenruary. The Sub-committee have arranged for the Manual Instruction to be taken at the Council School but the Cookery and Laundrywork Classes have necessarily been abandoned for the present.

By-Laws and Attendance Sub-committee

SCHOOL MEDICAL SERVICE
A circular letter has been received from the Board of Education stating that they have been informed by the War Office that there is at the present time an urgent need for more medical men to staff the additional hospital accommodation needed to meet the requirements of the large forces now being placed in the field. The Board of Education has been asked to facilitate the volunteering of officers of the School Medical Service for hospital work. so far as the Board are concerned, they feel that they can give but one answer to an application of this kind. They do not suggest that any pressure should be brought to bear on any particular officer to volunteer for service, but, should any officer desire to volunteer the Board would raise no objection to his doing so, even though his temporary absence may cause dislocation of the School Medical Service. They have no doubt that Local Education Authorities will regard the matter in the same light and will grant leave of absence on terms as will not involve any loss in his salary, status or tenure….

The Sub-committee recommend that leave of absence be granted to either or both of the Assistant School Medical inspectors if they wish to volunteer. They will consider, at their next meeting, the steps to be taken for carrying on the essential parts of the work if either of the Medical Officers volunteer…

School Attendance
SHORTAGE OF FARM LABOUR
The Sub-committee have considered the question of sanctioning absence from school of boys over 12 years of age to take up farm work in places where there is a shortage of labour due to the war.

They have passed the following resolution:

That no general rule for dealing with cases of employment of boys between 12 and 13 be adopted; but that where application is made, particulars be submitted by the Attendance Officer on a special form prepared by the Secretary; and that the Secretary be given power to grant permission (temporary) subject to the approval of two members of the Sub-committee….

The Board of Education have issued a circular letter in which attention is called to the statements made in the House of Commons by the President of the Board of Education indicating the conditions which, in the view of the Government, should be satisfied before the Local Authority excused children from attendance at school for the purposes of agricultural employment. The conditions are as follows:
1. The employment of children of school age should be regarded as an exceptional measure permitted to meet a special emergency, and should only be allowed where the Authority are satisfied that no other labour is available, and in no case should children be excused attendance at school if older children who are under no legal obligation to attend school are available.
2. In considering the available supply of labour, the Authority should satisfy themselves that all reasonable efforts have been made to secure adult labour, e.g. by application at the Labour Exchanges and especially by the offer of adequate remuneration.
3. Every case should be considered on its merits, and there should be no general relaxation of By-laws.
4. The employment should be of a light character and suitable to the capacity of the child.
5. Permission, if given at all, should be given for a definitely limited period only.
Up to the 31st march the number of boys between 12 and 13 who have been excused from attendance at school to take up agricultural employment was 41.

Reports of sub-committeees to Berkshire Education Committee, 24 April 1915 (C/CL1/1/18)

Disabled soldiers will get pensions, so shouldn’t need extra help

The Berkshire branch of the National Relief Fund met to consider various needy cases resulting – or allegedly resulting – from the war:

9 March 1915
The Ass. Sec. reported that John Nobes of E Hanney had obtained an Army Pension, & therefore no longer required assistance from the NRF, nor had the grant made for him at last meeting been given on his behalf.

It was further reported that a letter from Mr Mount, MP, had been received, in which the following passage occurred. “Every soldier who is discharged for disability due to military service & whose disability interferes with his capacity for earning a living is eligible for Pension under the regulations”, & Mr Mount stated that this was the official reply of the War Office to his question on the subject of men invalided from the New Army.

Applications for relief were considered from
Russell of Woodley, Wokingham RDC, Taylor & Capell, Windsor RDC, each of which was adjourned for further enquiry.
Mills of Kintbury. Resolved that upon the information supplied the Committee did not consider the applicant suitable for relief from the N R Fund but that the secretary should make further enquiry into the conditions by communicating with Colonel Willes.
Tyrrell, Abingdon Borough. The Chairman reported that he had authorized a grant of 5/- a week for four weeks beginning Feb 24th to the applicant. The Committee confirmed this grant.
Gunn, Binfield, Easthampstead RDC. A grant of 10/- a week for two weeks was made to applicant, the secretary being instructed to ask the local Hon. Sec. for a report upon the case from the Local Sub-committee of the NRF.
Cole, Maidenhead Borough. Resolved upon the information given the applicant, being an invalided soldier, was not a suitable case for this Fund. The Secretary was instructed to draw the attention of the local Hon. Sec. to the statement in Mr Mount’s letter (as above quoted) regarding the claim of disabled soldiers for a pension, & also to inform him that it is possible for a recommendation to be given by the Army authorities to local National Insurance authorities by which a disabled tuberculous soldier may obtain tuberculosis treatment.
George, Maidenhead Borough. The Chairman reported that he had authorized a grant of a sum not exceeding £2 on behalf of the applicant, should the local Committee consider the case one of urgent necessity. The Committee confirmed such grant.
Allen, Cookham RDC. Resolved that the applicant was a case for Poor Law relief & not for the Nat. Relief Fund.
Bailey, Cookham RDC. Resolved that as the information produced shewed no evidence that the applicant was in distress owing to the war, no grant be made on her behalf.
Ashford, Cookham RDC. Resolved that a grant of 6/- per week for one month beginning March 8th be made.
White, Shinfield. Resolved that as the information upon this case shewed a difference of opinion between the officer & local Committee of the Old Age Pensions as to the suitability of the applicant for relief, no grant be made from the Nat. Relief Fund until such divergence of views cease.

National Relief Fund Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1)

Rail fares and pawn redemption for war-hit jobseekers

The Berkshire Committee of the National Relief Fund met on 24 November 1914 at Shire Hall, Reading. The Fund had been established to help anyone who was in extraordinary financial distress specifically due to the war, so they would not have to endure the stigma of the workhouse through no fault of their own.

Reports on unemployment were read from Windsor RDC & Bradfield RDC. Both districts reported no abnormal conditions of labour. Miss Pott reported that Mr Ferard had directed her to say the same as regarded the Easthampstead district.

Applications for relief were considered re:
Daisy Brown, Shinfield. A letter regarding this case addressed to Sir R Mowbray [chairman of the committee] was read. The secretary was instructed to reply to the same to the effect that the committee did not see their way to altering their procedure.
Gladys Grover, Shinfield. Resolved that the applicant be not entertained.
Victor Ross, Windsor RDC. Reported that the case had been taken up by the S&SFAss.
Mrs ? (wife of French soldier), Wantage. The secretary reported that the applicant had been directed to write to the French Consulate. [Mrs Bouvarlet added in later.]
Tindall, Windsor. Resolved a grant of 10/- be made.
Cole, Windsor. Resolved that a grant of 7/6 a week for 3 weeks be made.
Hillyer, Windsor. Resolved that the arrears of rent, plus one month’s rent in advance, be paid. The Hon Treasurer was empowered to pay a sum not exceeding 2.2.0 on this account.

Railway fares for 27 men for whom work had been found at a distance was applied for by the Windsor Secretary. Resolved that one half, i.e. £2.15.1 of such fares be paid, as it did not appear certain whether all the applicants were out of work owing to the war.

Resolved that 4/6 be paid to the Windsor Committee on account of expense of getting a workman’s tools out of pawn.

Local Government Board Circulars re American Xmas gifts to children was read & considered. Resolved that the S&SFA be approached & enquiry made whether that Association would be prepared to carry out the scheme in Berkshire…

Local Gov Board Circular letter re Professional Classes Unemployment was reported, with certain replies to the same from District Committees shewing that so far as could be ascertained no abnormal distress amongst such classes obtained in the County Area.

National Relief Fund Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1)

Amply provided for

The Executive Committee of the National Relief Fund Berkshire Committee met on 27 October 1914 at
Shire Hall, Reading. Once again they dealt with cases of families of servicemen who were in financial difficulties.


At present there is no distress in Abingdon directly caused by the war…

The following applications for relief were considered:
Fanny White, Shinfield. Resolved that 4/6 per week for three weeks, beginning October 17th, be granted.
P C Dennys, Wargrave. Letters concerning this applicant from the Rev. B Batty and Mr Henry Bond were read, and the secretary was instructed to write to Mr Dennys and advise him to apply for an interpretership to the War Office and to the Belgian Refugee Committee.
Oakley, Bracknell. The Committee resolved that the case be dropped for the present.
Ethel Bourgeois, Bray. The secretary reported that the applicant was receiving a weekly payment from the French Consulate and that her late employer had written saying that for the present she was amply provided for.
A Ross, Clewer. Resolved that the applicant’s arrears of rent to the amount of 35/- be paid to the landlord through the local Windsor Committee.

The Government Committee’s circular letter DMTI re Medical Relief was considered. Mr Melvill Davidson and Mr Tottie reported that the Soldiers and Sailors’ Families Association in Berkshire was prepared to deal with the administration of the medical relief….

National relief Fund berks ctee C/CL/C6/4/1

Can a government contract for blankets keep an Abingdon factory open?

The Executive Committee of the Berkshire branch of the National Relief Fund met on 13 October 1914, at Shire Hall in Reading. They tried to help a factory at risk from closure get war contracts, and gave handouts to various individuals:

The Chairman reported that with regard to Clarke’s Factory in Abingdon, contracts had been received which would keep the hands fully employed until Christmas.

That the manager of the Carpet Factory at Abingdon had asked the assistance of the Committee in obtaining contracts for rough horse cloths & blankets in order to enable him to keep the factory open, & the Committee had been able to obtain leave for him to submit 100 specimens of his blankets to the Admiralty & War Office, it being hoped that some contract would be obtained.

Applications for relief
Elstrick, Windsor. Mr Durant reported that work had been found for the applicant.
Daisy Brown, Shinfield. The Chairman reported that he had made personal enquiry into the case & agreed to pay arrears of rent, & that 36/- had been paid by the Treasurer on this account.
Fanny White, Shinfield. A grant of 9/- was sanctioned by the Committee, representing 4/6 a week for two weeks. A further report was to be asked for on this case from the Wokingham Committee.
Minnie Jones, Shinfield. Mr Tottie reported that the SSFA was dealing with this case.
Philip Dennys, Wargrave. The secretary was instructed to write to Mr Batty and Mr Bond & ask for particulars concerning the applicant for the post of interpreter.
Oakley, Bracknell. Mr Ferard made a report upon this case. The secretary was instructed to write to Mr Wilson asking what steps had been taken to obtain work.
Tindall, Windsor. Mr Durant gave a report on the case & the Committee decided to make a grant of £1 as representing the applicant’s rent for 3 weeks.
Heard, Cookham RDC. The application was declined on the ground that it was not a suitable one for the National Relief Fund.
Ethel Bourgeois, Cookham RDC. The Committee decided to advance £3 to the Local District Committee on behalf of this case, such sum to be expended at the discretion of the Committee. The secretary was instructed to write to the applicant’s late employer asking for particulars concerning rent of applicant’s house, and also to write to the French Embassy asking whether any fund was in existence for the assistance of the dependants of French Reservists in this country.

The Chairman reported the receipt of a telegram from the Local Government Board asking for further offers of hospitality for Belgian refugees. The secretary was instructed to send a copy of the same to Local District Committees.

Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading was just as anxious to help out those whose family finances might be badly hurt by the loss of the breadwinner, in an age when gaining public assistance meant the shame and unpleasantness of the workhouse. The church magazine tells us more:

ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The church at its last meeting decided to appoint an advisory committee whose function, during the course of the war, shall be to look after the interests of those amongst our people who may be adversely affected by the enlistment of fathers, sons or other relatives (upon whom they are dependent) in H. M. Forces or by privation directly due to the outbreak of hostilities. There are many ways in which this committee may be of service, apart altogether from the actual giving of relief.

It is hoped that every member of the church and congregation will hold a watching brief on behalf of the committee, and report cases of distress and privation amongst our number with which they may be acquainted, to the secretary. Very often the most deserving and the suffering cover their distress from a sense of pride – a pride which we commend – and it is for us to see that such are not overlooked on this account. Since the inception of the idea for which the committee stands, articles recommending the formation of such bodies in our churches have appeared, as many will have seen, in the British Congregationalist.

The following friends have promised to serve on the committee:-
Rev. W. Morton Rawlinson (Chairman)
Mrs C. Steward Smith
Mrs A. S. Hampton
Mr W. J. Brain
Mr J. Swallow (secretary)

National Relief Fund Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1); Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, October 1914 (D/N11/12/1/14)

The right spirit: call to join the reserves in south Berkshire

Former soldiers too old to join up at the start of the war were encouraged to join the National Reserve, making themselves available for service if required. The Sulhamstead parish magazine explains:


The National Reserve, which in Berkshire was closely associated at the outset with the Caversham and Reading Veterans’ Association, is a register of officers and men who have served satisfactorily in any naval or military capacity, and who are no longer liable for service as reservists. Membership is voluntary. There is no uniform; but a badge is issued to all duly enrolled members. The members are organised under the County Associations, with a view to increasing the military resources of the country in the event of imminent national danger. They are divided into three classes, viz:

Class I – Age under 42, and medically fit (now temporarily closed for asmission).
Class II – Aged, Officers and Sergeants under 55, all others under 50, and medically fit.
Class III – (Men unable to undertake any obligation):
(a) Those qualified for Class I, but preferring to Join Class III.
(b) Those qualified for Class II, but preferring to Join Class III.
(c ) All those, without limit of age, not qualified for Classes I or II.

Members joining Classes I and II have to sign an honourable obligation to come up for service when required in time of imminent national danger. They will then be liable to be used to reinforce the Army, for garrison or guard work, as specialists or tradesmen in technical branches, or in hospital, veterinary, remount, clerical, recruiting, or other military duties.
Class I may be required to serve either at home or abroad. Class II can only be used in this country.

There is no pay except on actual service; but National Reservists of all ranks and classes who are duly accepted for service on moblilisation, whether with the Regular Army or the Territorial Force, will receive the current Army rates of pay and allowances, according t the nature of their employment; and they or their families are eligible for pensions and allowances in case of disability or death occurring in actual service.

Four “Berks National Reserve” Battalions have been filled mainly from the towns, but it is desired now to bring the movement within reach of the country districts, and in this particular neighbourhood a new Company (No 8) of the 1st Battalion is in course of formation. Its normal area for membership will, as at present arranged, include the following parishes, viz.: Burghfield, Sulhamstead, Mortimer, Wokefield, Beech Hill, Shinfield, Grazeley, Ufton, Padworth, Aldermaston, Beenham, Bucklebury, Frilsham, Yattendon, Stanford Dingley, Bradfield, Tidmarsh, and Theale. Applications however will be entertained from residents in any adjoining parish which is in the Reading Postal District, and is not within the area of another Company.

All persons, of whatever rank, who are qualified for any of the three “Classes” are cordially invited to communicate with Mr E T Norton (Colour-Sergeant), The Oaks, Sulhamstead, Reading, or with Mr H G Willink (Captain, commanding the Company), Hillfields, Burghfield, Mortimer, Berks.

The Company already numbers nearly 30, and there is no reason why it should not reach full strength, with a proper complement of Officers and NCOs.

After the war is over it is particularly hoped that all the men discharged from “Kitchener’s Army”, who come back to this area, will join. The terms of their enlistment do not include any period of retention on the Regular Reserve; and the National Reserve will afford the best chance for their keeping on touch with each other, and not passing away out of sight.

This is not an appeal to any man on the ground that he personally will get any pecuniary or material benefit out of membership. It rests upon better grounds. To men who are fortunate enough not to be too old it offers the renewed prospect of rendering to their country useful service in time of need. To all men, who have shown already that they have the right spirit in them, it offers opportunities of keeping alive that spirit, in fellowship with others, and with the consciousness that they are still recognised as part of the national forces. And upon all, unless and until occasion arises, it makes no present demand beyond a few parades and musters, and perhaps the taking honourable part in public gatherings.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, October 1914 (D/EX725/3)

Soldiers’ wives in distress

The Executive Committee of the National Relief Fund Berkshire Committee met on 22 September 1914 at Shire Hall, Reading. They considered various applications for assistance from families of soldiers and sailors, the impact on local jobs, and the arrival of Belgian refugees in the county.


With the exception of three cases in the Wantage district, two cases in the Faringdon district and one case in the Wokingham district, Committees had reported that so far as they knew no wives or dependants of soldiers or sailors were likely to be turned out of their cottages in October. Of the six cases reported it was probable that arrangements could be made locally to accommodate each family concerned. No reply had been received from six districts….

With regard to conditions of labour and probable unemployment, no cases of emergency had been certified, except that of the Ready-made Clothes Factory of Messrs Clarke at Abingdon. The Committee had approached the Government Department on this matter and it was hoped that work had been obtained. The building trade was the only one that appeared likely to be seriously affected in the immediate future…

The Chairman gave details of certain applications for relief which had been received. In the case of Elstrick from Windsor, payment of 8/- a week for two weeks ending September 24th was authorised, and payment of 11/6 for Arnold from Windsor was also authorised. With regard to the case of Minnie Jones of Shinfield, Mr Tottie reported that it was under consideration by the Soldiers & Sailors Families Association. Decided that the cases of Mrs Pullen & Daisy Brown of Grazeley should be deferred for further enquiry by the Chairman. Other cases from Windsor were referred to the General Committee meeting at which the Town Clerk of Windsor was expected to be present.

The Local Government Board’s Circular PRD13 was reported to the Committee with the information that some accommodation for Belgian refugees had been offered in Wokingham, and by private persons in the Bracknell, Pangbourne and Newbury districts. Resolved that a letter be sent to the Refugees Committee asking whether any payment, & if so what amount, would be granted towards the expenses of the accommodation of refugees….

The chairman reported that the National Relief Fund Committee had sent him a cheque for £100 on account for the relief of distress, which sum he had paid into a separate account at Barclays’ Bank.


National Relief Fund Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1)