Virtual civil war in America

Ralph Glyn’s cousin Niall, Duke of Argyll, paid an inspection visit to France.

Coombe
31 March 1916
My dear Ralph

Your [letter] arrived today. Many thanks. I was not telling you however about any Charlie French but of Lord French. I lunched with him last Thursday to meet Sir Arthur Herbert, just back from the USA, who was most interesting a – virtual civil war going on as an average of 4 munition places a week are being blown up of which Europe hears nothing….

I had a very interesting time away [in France] and saw Vornelot (now a hospital) on my way back. Queen Amelie had been there for a bit which excited Aunt L [Princess Louise, Dowager Duchess of Argyll] terribly, but once you lend a house what does it matter. 780 nurses have already used it as a rest. I thought it a beastly place anyway, a mad thing to go and build anyway.

I had a long & very interesting talk with the Bishop of Amiens about the invaded part of his diocese – French politics etc, he told me many interesting things…

Yesterday I met Carben de Viard a very clever Belgian at the de Lalaings. He was secretary for years to King Leopold & told me curious details about his last hours and words. He is just back from 4 months mission to the USA as to which I heard a lot. The position there is extraordinary….

The French & Belgian Generals I ran across at Amiens etc were all very optimistic as to duration.

Your affect. Cousin
Niall

The former Royal Naval Air Service friend of Ralph’s who wrote to him on 27 January was bitterly disappointed with his new assignment as a quartermaster.

United Service Club
Pall Mall, SW
March 31st, 1916

My dear RG

Very many thanks indeed for your letter. I am going off to take up my new duties as an AA & QMG to one of the Home [illegible] Mounted Divisions. About the last thing I wanted!

I am glad to hear that things are fairly smooth in your patch now. I hope they will get even better.

I have seen Buzzard at home and he will probably now have given you all the news. I hear he is taking command of a Howitzer Brigade now.
I will write again soon if there are developments in my case. I am so sick about it all that I cannot write any more now and must go off to my job.

All good luck to you.
Yours always

[Illegible – MD?]

Letters to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C16; C32/21)

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A single cabbage helps the war

Sulhamstead people were supporting the war effort in their vegetable gardens, while rejoicing in good news of local soldiers.

THE WAR
Lieutenant H. A. Grimshaw has been mentioned in Sir John French’s despatches. This makes the second time that he has been so honoured. He has also been awarded the additional honour of the Military Cross.

It is with great thankfulness that the news has been received that Lieutenant Albert Marsh, RNR, of the “Tera”, sunk in the Mediterranean Sea, is safe, although held a prisoner.

ROLL OF HONOUR
George Derring, second footman at Folley [sic] Farm when the war broke out, was killed by the bursting of a shell at the Front in France.

VEGETABLES FOR THE SOLDIERS’ HOSPITALS
It is a bad time of the year for vegetables, but the Boy Scouts are trying to send a hamper to Reading every week. If any have got vegetables they would like to give to the hospitals, and would send them to the School on Mondays, or leave word at the School in the previous week, a Scout would fetch them. The hamper goes on Tuesdays. A single cabbage, half a dozen potatoes, etc, soon swell the contents.

THE LIGHTING ORDER
This order will not affect our Lower End Service as the room is furnished with dark green curtains, but it will prevent services being held on week days in Lent in the Church or School, and accordingly special meetings will be held in the large room at the Rectory on Thursdays at 7 pm.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, March 1916 (D/EX725/3)

Light dancing on the lawn heralds a death in action

Ralph Glyn’s cousin Niall, Duke of Argyll (1872-1949), the head of the Campbell family, wrote to his first cousin Ralph Glyn. He was known to be somewhat eccentric; this letter reveals a belief in the supernatural which helped with the sorrow of losing another cousin, Ivar Campbell.

22 Feb 1916
28 Clarges Street
Mayfair, W

My dear Ralph

I was glad to get your letter yester even. News at last about Ivar’s end, he was hit through the lungs 7th Jan and died on the 8th without gaining consciousness, it was on the 8th that the queer light dancing on the lawn appeared at Inveraray & Niky came to my room about 8 pm and told me of it and I made a note of it at the time. Within a week the fritts, though she did not see him, undoubtedly got a certain message from him to pass on to Aunt Sibell [sic] and once since then, viz last week she heard a certain thing which only Ivar could have said. He amongst other things said that as to the end he remembered nothing whatever and that he would try somehow to get through to Aunt Sib, hard as it was. But if she heard anything she would be sure to seek a cure in her pill box.

Tomorrow I am dining with French with whom I did a play etc about a week ago, and Thursday I am off to see the Argylls under Douglas Baird in France and have just been getting the passes etc. Nicky got to Coombe last Sunday morning. No express trains from Stirling now and it took her 23 hours…

Rutland gave me an account of the bomb within ¼ mile of Belvoir which fell in a field. The Granbys were honeymooning there which made His Grace deem is specially impudent…

I went to the opening of the HL [House of Lords] and heard Kitchener then and once since on the Air question. Victor Devonshire told me his younger children heard the Derbyshire bombs from Chatsworth. At Walmer a few days ago our airmen set up and fired merrily on each other, next the anti aircraft guns fired on both of them, and then knocked off the top of the church steeple and hurt some men in a barracks. The enemy were against the men & got away & most of our officers were feeding 2 miles away. A real Bedlam.

Oswald is in Egypt so you may meet him. He was off from London just before I got south.

I saw the D. of Atholl the other day, he snored somewhat and his neighbours had to bump his bench, he seemed cheerful, did not mention Geordie but said Bardie was in Egypt.

Erzeroum [sic] fell since your letter was written I expect as your date is the 4th of February.

London is more pitch dark than ever. I watched the Green Park Gun practice at 6.30 last night.

Your affect. Cousin

Niall

Letter from the Duke of Argyll to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C16)

“Heavenly from my point of view”

Maysie Wynne-Finch told her brother Ralph that she was quite pleased her husband was in too poor a state physically to go back to the front for a while. She also shared an amusing joke about the title selected by Sir John French, recently created Earl of Ypres for his leadership on the Western Front.

Friday Feb 3rd [1916]

You can imagine how delighted I am the doctors flatly refuse to let John go to France for anyhow 3 months. They say it will take two before the new cut in the jaw heals, then it may break out again & until there is no chance of this cannot get any plate in & he has no teeth hardly left now, poor darling. Meantime they are again urging him to take on the Adjutancy at Windsor if only for 3 months, so finally he has consented under the circumstances & on condition they let him go as soon as he can pass for France. So he reports to begin duty this next week now, & we are trying to find a little house down there again. It’s heavenly from my point of view.

Billy got back on leave two days ago. Seems very well. They have been having a pretty lively time from shelling lately it seems. We met Captain Tollemache today – back on a fortnight’s leave. I think you know him. He was on the Dardanelles from June till the evacuation.

These last Zepp raids have cause much excitement. They came so early, & got so far, & stayed so late – Dirty beasts.

Do you know the title Lord French should have taken other than Ypres? … Lord Loos is the answer…

Your ever loving
Maysie

Letter from Maysie Wynne-Finch to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)

“It is terrible trying to carry on war under such conditions”

General Callwell shared some secrets with former assistant Ralph Glyn, now at the Dardanelles.

26, Campden House Chambers
Campden Hill, W

13th December 1915

My dear Ralph

I am taking time by the forelock to drop you a line as the Bag does not go for a couple of days, but there is such a rush these times that it dies not do to leave anything to the end.

I am afraid the retirement from Suvla and Anzac will prove a costly business and it is deplorable that there was so much delay in deciding after Monro reported at the end of October. As a matter of fact the War Council decided on evacuation on the 23rd ult – while K was out in those parts – and Squiff sent me over to Paris to tell Gallieni and old man Joffre; but the Cabinet overrode the War Council and the decision was not finally taken by the Cabinet till the 7th. It is terrible trying to carry on war under such conditions.

The French have been very troublesome over Salonika. We and even our Government have been opposed to that affair all along, but the French managed to drag us into it by threatening to regard our refusal as a blow to the entente. Murray and I, backed up by Robertson, went to Chantilly to see old Joffre, but could not get him to change his mind, and then Squiff [Asquith] and three others of the same sort went over and saw the French Government, but it was no good. I went with Squiff and we had quite a gentlemanly trip in specials and Destroyers, but poor old AJB was a terrible wreck after a Destroyer trip. Then, although Gallieni lied to me gallantly about it, the French never sent that infernal fellow Sarrail orders to retire till his position was extremely awkward and in consequence our 10th Division had a very bad time; but they seem to have done well.

All kind of changes are in the air. Johnny French is to be degomme’ at once, Haig taking his place; and there is a good deal of talk about Robertson becoming CIGS – he caries heavier ordnance than Murray. Henry Wilson is very unhappy at Johnny French’s departure and I am not sure what will become of HW. I doubt whether Haig will have him in his present job and he has come to be looked upon as what the soldier detests – a political general.

The Government is rocky and Bonar Law told me the other day that he thought Gallipoli would finish them. He (BL) should have resigned when Carson did. When K was away in the east they all declared that they would not have him back, but he is back and does not look like going although he is much tamer than he was. He said to me plaintively the other day that the Cabinet would not believe anything he told them and now always insisted on a printed paper from the General Staff. It was rather amusing at a War Council the other day while he was out your way. They were squabbling away about everything after the usual fashion when a box was brought in to Squiff and he read out a wire from K, ending up with an announcement that he was coming home. With one voice the whole gang said he must go to Egypt to report and a wire to that effect was drafted on the spot – however he took no notice and came home in spite of them.

I hope that you are fixed up and getting on well with your RNAS affairs. As Helles is not to be evacuated I suppose that the bulk of Sykes’ commando will remain where it is although there will be plenty of work for airmen in Egypt shortly. I am writing to Bell before the Bag goes and also to Birdwood.

Yours ever
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

“It makes all the difference when men have been constantly facing death and seeing their comrades fall at their side”

The experiences of an army chaplain were published in the Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine.

The Rev. W. W. Bowdon, C.F.

Cheery letters have been received from Mr. Bowdon, and the following will be of interest to many:-

No. 14 Stationary Hospital,
Wimereux,
Boulogne.

I crossed the water on Thursday, 30th September. There were a great crowd of officers and many hundreds of men crossing. It was rather weird on board with all lights out, not even the light of a cigarette allowed, and we were accompanied by destroyers. On arriving at Boulogne we were detailed off to various trains, and I soon found myself wedged in with half-a-dozen officers and piles of baggage in an unlighted 1st class carriage, bound for General Headquarters (it is not permitted to say where). I arrived in the small hours of the morning and, being too early to do anything else, turned in again and slept in a carriage on a siding, first making sure it wouldn’t be moving before I did. Then about 8 a.m. a rough toilet and le petit déjeuner at the station buffet. I then drove up to see my new chief, Bishop Gwyn, of Khartoum, Acting Chaplain-General, passing General French’s headquarters on the way.

I found myself appointed to this great hospital for infectious diseases at the base, so back I came. Wimereux is four miles from Boulogne, a pretty place, and in peace time a fashionable sea-side resort, now given over for hospital work. My hospital is situated right on the sea-shore, there is also a large compound of wooden huts near by and a canvas camp for convalescents in the fields at the back. I mess with the officers, all of whom are very nice. We have the General with us, a Colonel (our C.O.), two Majors, and the rest Captains and Lieutenants, to the number of about 25. I am put down as the Rev. Captain Bowdon, C.F., but they all call me ‘Padre,’ and we are very friendly and informal out here. Our mess rooms are delightful, in a separate house on the sea front and with charming views.

The work is, as I expected, pretty strenuous. I visit my patients for about five hours a day, take services when and where I can, run a recreation hut and canteen for the R.A.M.C. men, of whom we have some 1500 here, censor all the company’s letters, and do other odd jobs always cropping up.

One of my difficulties is that different classes of patients must not be mixed, and there are a choice variety of diseases – enteric and scarlet fever, with para-typhoid, meningitis, diphtheria, measles, mumps, whooping-cough, and some others. So at present instead of dodging the bullets I am dodging disease germs. I am wondering which are the more dangerous. I expect to be here some months and then to go ‘up the line’ (as we speak of going into the firing zone), but are always liable to be called up at a moment’s notice. One man was rushed off yesterday after being here but three days.

Of war alarms we have none. Our own air-craft are often about, but none of the enemy’s.

I find the men most responsive and so grateful for one’s ministrations that it is a pleasure to work amongst them. Nearly all my patients have been ‘up the line,’ and it makes all the difference when men have been constantly facing death and seeing their comrades fall at their side. I am inclined to think their experiences are making a very deep and permanently beneficial impression on the character of most of them.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, November 1915 (D/P120/28A/14)

Everyone is loud in criticising the Government

Meg Meade and her husband were blissfully happy while he was home on leave. She wrote to her brother to tell him about the national mood – one of anti-Government – and chaos with shipbuilders having to be unrecruited from the armed forces.

30th Oct
23 Wilton Place

My darling Ralph

Since last writing to you I haven’t written any letters. You know what it is with at home. We are out all day & if we are at home alone together, Jim reads to me. There’s a picture of domestic bliss!…

Will you thank Willie so very much for his letter. I am sending 100 cigarettes & some tobacco under cover to you. The cigarettes are his, & could you have the tobacco? As Maysie who I asked to settle up with Major Wigram about sending these things in the bag says that they make a great favour of sending anything in the bag, which is annoying, & Maysie fiercely refuses to allow me to send more this time. I am sending the rest of Willie’s order by post immediately….

Jim goes tomorrow (Sunday) night or Monday.

I did give Sir Ed. Carson your letter. Everyone is loud in criticizing the Government, but that don’t seem to move them. We lunched with Edith yesterday & met Lord Derby there. He said he had just received a letter signed by 6 men saying they would rejoin their regiments & enlist the moment that F E Smith was sent back to rejoin his regiment instead of sitting at home on a salary of £20,000, or whatever he gets! Lord Derby had some very amusing stories of Mrs Asquith. Sir John French went to see her, & she threw her arms around his neck & said, “Oh John, John, how splendid you are, but what a lot of worry you give Henry!” She also wrote to Lord Derby & asked him to spare “Henry”’s chauffeur, valet & footmen, as he being Prime Minister, his comfort was essential, so she asked Lord Derby to see they were not recruited. Lord Derby said that he expected we’d have conscription in 6 weeks time, but that’s too good to be true. He said that when he came to work his job, he found the most awful chaos, all the men who had been “starred” on the pink papers ought not to have been, & the ones unstarred ought to have been starred. By some oversight none of the shipbuilders in Cammell Laird’s yards were starred, so they could have been enlisting as hard as they could, & in consequence a certain new light cruiser called the Constance which Jim thought he’d a chance of getting has been tremendously delayed, & they are having to bring the men back to the yards again. Another employer wrote to say “all his men were starred, but they ought to be unstarred”. The WO left the “starring” business to the local recruiting people, who seem to have starred anyone who gave them half a crown.

I wonder if you have heard that Jim is to be a Captain D1! & have 20 of the newest & latest destroyers under him. Captain D of 12th Flotilla he will be, & he keeps the Royalist according to present arrangements. Isn’t it splendid. Royalist will have to be fitted out as a D’s ship, so I hope it won’t be 7 months before I see him again. He will take the new destroyers as they are turned out.

…Maysie & John are still at Bruton Street. He’s alright practically again except for his face. The abcess in the jaw. They are going to cut out the bit of dead bone on Monday, & he has been given 2 months to recover in, so that’s good….

We live in fogs now. No Zepps have penetrated to London lately although they visited Chatham I hear in the night before last….

Meg

Letter from Meg Meade to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2)

Abundant need for the King’s pledge to abstain to be followed in Reading

Broad Street Church in Reading enthusiastically supported the temperance movement, and the King’s lead.

THE KING’S PLEDGE

All true Temperance reformers have had cause for rejoicing lately in the efforts to promote sobriety – even teetotalism – which have been witnessed in unexpected quarters. Where appeals for self-denial on one’s own account, or for the sake of the weaker brother, have ignominiously failed, the appeals for self-denial in the interests of national fitness and efficiency in a time of crisis, have been more successful….

The most illustrious disciple of this new school of thought is our beloved King. Recognising the awful havoc wrought amongst our toilers by the drink habit and wishing to lead them in a more excellent way, His Majesty has taken a pledge to abstain from all alcoholic beverages during the period of the war, and he has banished them entirely from all the royal palaces…. Such a worthy example has been followed, as it deserved to be, by many men in exalted positions. Amongst others Lord Kitchener, Sir John French and Sir John Jellicoe have followed the King’s lead. But unfortunately the movement has not been taken up so universally as was at one time hoped.

How far has it been responded to in Reading? It would be difficult to say. But judging from the state of things in some of our principal streets on a Saturday night, there is abundant need for a vigorous crusade.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES
The latest recruit from the Brotherhood is our Musical Director and Choirmaster, Brother Grigg, he having joined the RAMC Sanitary Department.

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

Straw and gunfire: Communion in a crowded barn

The Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine is filled with references to the war, some clearly taken from elsewhere – such as the story of a martial Midlands clergyman moonlighting in a munitions factory. In September 1915 they included a moving depiction of religious worship at the Front.

A Bishop’s Loss.
Much sympathy is felt for the Bishop of Winchester and the Hon. Mrs Talbot on account of the death of their youngest son, Lieutenant Gilbert Talbot, who was killed in action while leading his men. A brilliant career had been predicted for the young officer, who was a man of exceptional ability and promise.

Holy Communion on the Battlefield.

A chaplain at the Front gives the following description of his work:

All the services were very inspiring. The work and experiences which the men had so bravely undergone but a day or two before impressed them with the all-availing power of the Christian religion…

My first service was a celebration of Holy Communion. And how uplifting it was! There, in a barn, with the door littered with straw which had served as a mattress for the men who had occupied it during the night, and with men’s equipment and rifles so placed as to be ready for immediate use in case of alarm – The Holy Mysteries were celebrated with the utmost reverence, though the quietness of the morning hour was broken by the thrilling sound of gunfire. It was a weird accompaniment to Christian worship. Ration boxes covered with a fair linen cloth served as the Table of the Lord.

The barn was crowded to overflowing, and some, unfortunately, could not gain admission. Commanding officers, with majors and adjutants, knelt side by side with the last joined soldiers. Here, indeed, was that religious atmosphere which arises from sincere devotion in prayer and praise. This was specially to be noticed when we came to the beautiful words in the prayer for the Church Militant – ‘And we also bless Thy Holy Name for all Thy Servants departed this life in Thy faith and fear…’ And then they whispered ‘Amen.’ You know of whom we are thinking, the brave ones known to us so well, who were unflinching to the end at the call of duty. Words fail – indeed, they are unnecessary – but you will understand.

The Bishop of Oxford and the War.

Dealing with the subject of the Church and the War, Dr. Gore says:

We believe that we are fighting for liberty and justice and fidelity to obligations and the rights of smaller nations, and that Germany is using its matchless intellect and power of organization to trample on these sacred things. None the less, in expressing this our confident conviction we must be careful not to use language which sounds self-righteous. There is a history behind us, and our own history is very far from being immaculate. If we wish to say that we are fighting against Antichrist, we must always show that we recognize how very much that is antichristian there is in us – in our politics, in our industrial, social and religious life. Self-righteousness becomes us very ill. Something more like national penitence is what we want, and we are not, I fear, showing anything like national penitence on a wide scale.

Clergymen as War Workers.

Writing in his Parish Magazine, the Rector of Quinton explains that his assistant-curate and himself are each devoting three days and three nights every week to making shells. Their action has the warm approval of the Bishop of Birmingham, and any money they earn after the cost of overalls, etc., has been deducted, will be devoted to the Assistant-Clergy fund.

The Bishop of Khartoum for the Front.

The War Office has issued an announcement that in view of the large number of Church of England chaplains now serving with the troops under Sir John French’s command, and of the increases which are in course of being made to the British Forces in France, the Bishop of Khartoum has been appointed to represent the Chaplain-General at the Front, and to be his deputy there for all purposes connected with the Church of England chaplains and Church of England troops.

The Rt. Rev. Llewellyn Henry Gwynne, who has been chosen for this responsible post, was at Khartoum in 1901 and acted as chaplain to the troops when the British forces recovered the Soudan [sic], and was subsequently appointed Archdeacon and then Bishop in that region with the formal title “Suffragan-Bishop in Khartoum.” He has visited the Front in France and Flanders during the present war and has therefore some experience of the conditions in which his future work, for a very restricted period let us hope, will lie.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P181/28A/24)

Bovril for the troops

The parishioners of Cookham decided to contribute to a fund sending Bovril to the troops:

Our War Fund

We have lately disposed of our small remaining balance, £8 18s. 3d., made up to £12 by the kindness of Mrs. Oppenheim by giving it to Miss Storey’s excellent work. Miss Storey has since last December been sending out large consignments of Bovril to the soldiers in the trenches. The great and growing need of this form of help is acknowledged by Sir John French and all the leading Generals at the front. An appeal is now being made for £10,000, and we were glad, on the suggestion of Mrs. Oppenheim, to do what we could. Donations should be sent to Miss Gladys Storey, 39, Broadhurst Gardens, N.W.

Clewer parish magazine, April 1915 (D/P39/28A/9)

A glimpse of Red Cross hospital ships

Still on the Isle of Wight, Henry and Florence Vansittart Neale observed a sea full of British ships:

H & I walked to Bonchurch as near as we could by the sea. Heaps of ships & mine-sweepers. Saw Red X ships, all white…

Heard from Ally – Russia on the offensive.

Heard Sep: was meant to stay & train recruits. He went to the General & before him scratched out his name & insisted on going to Dardanelles – so got in “Hood” division!!

Hear Kitchener & [Sir John] French fierce quarrel. French insisting on more troops. K refused – they not ready but had to send them as F. declared he would call army home if not!!

Heard all “Audacious” crew taken on Queen Eliz:!

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

‘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)

Pluck, endurance and steadiness under fire: a tribute to the Royal Berkshire Regiment

The sterling service at the Front of the Royal Berkshire Regiment was acknowledged on 3 December 1914 by Field Marshal Sir John French (1852-1925), Commander in Chief of the British Expeditionary Force in France and Belgium.

Fresh Laurels for the Berkshires
Sir John French inspected, on December 3rd, the 1st Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment, which has been engaged in some of the fiercest fighting since Mons, and delivered the following address:-

Royal Berkshire Regiment, – As your Commander-in-Chief, I wish to say how much I appreciate the magnificent work you have done in this campaign. It is men like you who have enabled us to gain the successes that have been won.

This is not the first time I have fought with your regiment. Thirty years ago I remember the laurels your regiment won in Egypt – your glorious colours bear the names of nearly all the battles in which the British Army has been engaged for the last 200 years.

In these battles in France not only have you maintained your reputation, but you have won fresh laurels.

I deeply regret that Colonel Graham, who has led you so gallantly, is not present, and that he has been wounded.

We all hope that he may soon be at the head of his Battalion again.

Royal Berkshire Regiment, from the bottom of my heart I thank you – every single man of you – for what you have already done in this campaign.

It was printed in the Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, together with the personal tribute of an officer home on leave:

An Officer just returned from the front writes:-

Every one who belongs to Berkshire will be intensely proud of their regiment when the history of the doings of the 1st Battalion during the past three months comes to be written. They fought at Mons, and during the subsequent retirement and at Maroilles, and then they were in the advance and fought in the battles of Marne and Aisne. For thirty-two days they were on the Aisne, and all but five days were spent in the trenches. They are making a great name of themselves, a name for steadiness under fire, pluck and endurance. They have been out there from the beginning, have been in every battle and always on the front line. Their example should be an inducement to all able-bodied men in Berkshire to enlist immediately.

The following copy of orders by Lieutenant–Colonel M. D. Graham, commanding 1st Batt. Royal Berkshire Regt., is exhibited at Reading Barracks:-

October 29th. – The Commanding Officer has been directed by the Major General Commanding 2nd Division to convey to the Battalion the very high appreciation of their attack on October 24th, and of the determined manner in which they subsequently held their ground.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, January 1915 (D/P120/28A/14)

Not one man has surrendered or run out of his trench: the Commander in Chief praises Berkshire troops

The Royal Berkshire Regiment was the recipient of widely circulated praise by their commanding officer. The words of Sir John French were published in, among other places, the Sulhamstead parish magazine:

Sir John French’s Battlefield praise of the Berkshires.
The following quotations are worthy of being kept by every resident in Berkshire:

Royal Berkshire Regiment: As your commander in chief I wish to say how much I appreciate the magnificent work that you have done in this campaign. It is men like you that has enabled us to gain the successes that have been won. Your glorious colours bear the names of nearly all the battles in which the British army has been engaged for the last two hundred years. Royal Berkshire Regiment, from the bottom of my heart I thank you, every single man of you for what you have already done in this campaign.

A private letter dated Nov 23rd states,

not one man has surrendered or run out of his trench. Three men from the ranks have been raised to Commissioned Officers.

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

Another spy unmasked

Karl-Gustav Ernst was at the centre of the German spy ring in London at the start of the war. He was a London hairdresser, born in Britain but of German ancestry. Unluckily for him, MI5 had been aware of his covert role passing information, and he and his confederates were rounded up and arrested early in the war.

16 November 1914
Girls to Cookham to see wounded…. Sir George & Mme de la Bistrale came to luncheon. Then Mrs Puxley & Florrie Stainton came, & the Riches for tea. Went over hospital. May Innes to dine. Percival [Innes] told he to go guard Lord Roberts at Wellington Chapel 4 a.m. tomorrow!

Heavy fighting round Ypres. Germans can’t break through. One spy Ernst (hairdresser) to have 7 years!

An on dit of Kitchener when the P. of Wales went to him to beg him to let him go with his regiment. K said “Well, sir, if you were wounded that does not matter, & if you were killed that would not matter, but it would put us in such a hole if you were taken prisoner!” So he refused. Now he has gone out on Sir J. French’s staff.

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