For the sake of economy

A school in Slough shut not because its buildings were taken over for the war, but to save money:

30th-31st March 1916

Two days holiday that desks and apparatus may be removed to Upper School Buildings as, for the period of the War for the sake of economy, the infants will be taught there. I take charge of the [Touman Mosley] Infants School, at Slough, on April 3rd.
Rose Down.

Wraysbury Infants School log book (88/SCH/22/2)

Farewell to a friend

The head teacher of a school in Slough allowed a staff member time off to see a friend heading for the Front.

February 4th 1916

I allowed Mrs Dibben to leave at 10:30am this morning to bid farewell to a friend leaving for France.

Slough and Chalvey British Infants School log book (C/EL123)

No books owing to the war

A prize day at a Slough school saw a quieter occasion than usual – and no real prizes for the pupils. Meanwhile, an Aldermaston teacher got a day off to see her soldier brother, home on leave.

Stoke Road School, Slough
November 22nd 1915

Annual Prize Distribution.

The following managers were present:- Mr Daw (Chairman) and the Revd Theo Cousens. The Revd PH Eliot, Mr McCormack and Mr Andrews signified their inability to attend. Mrs Allhusen was in France.

Mrs Cousens kindly distributed the certificates. The pupils were briefly addressed by the Chairmen and Mrs Cousens.

Mr Greenway R.A.M.C was present.

There were no book prizes owing to the War, certificates of merit being issued instead.

Aldermaston School
22nd November 1915

Miss Adams has been granted a leave of absence for today as her brother has returned from the trenches in France for a few days.

Stoke Road School, Slough: log book (89/SCH/28/1, p. 379); Aldermaston School log book (88/SCH3/3, p. 45)

A bombardier talks to Slough schoolboys

Schoolboys from Slough got a first hand account of life in the trenches. Bombardiers were non-commissioned officers in the artillery.

September 6th 1915
Bombardier Calmer on leave from the Front visited the school and talked to the Top Class boys.

Stoke Road School, Slough: log book (89/SCH/28/1)

Belgians mow and reap the hay

As Warfield men went to war, Belgian refugees helped to take on some of the work at home.


Mr. Hammond, Junr., Secretary of the Wokingham Federation, was the recipient of a silver tray from the members of the branches in the Federation, on the occasion of his marriage on June 12th, and also of his resignation as Secretary, has now got a commission in the New Army. His place has been taken, at any rate for the present, by Mr. C. Jones, Moor Cottage, Binfield. Warfield was represented at the Slough Conference of the C.E.M.S. by the Vicar (Branch President), Mr. Brockbank (Branch Secretary), and Mr. H. Parks (Delegate of the Branch). We were very sorry that our other Delegate, Sir William Herschel, was unavoidably prevented from attending.

Some of our own Branch have been very helpful in a practical way, coming in the evening to mow and reap the hay in the Churchyard. Our biggest thanks are due to Messrs. G. Higgs, G. Lewis, H. Parks, Probyn, and B. Peat, also to the other non-members, L. Bristow, Chaney, Dyer, J. Lewis, our Belgian Guests Messrs. Taes and van der Voorde, also to Mrs. Thackeray and Mrs. Parks for their assistance.

Warfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, July 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/5)

How the Church of England Men’s Society can help those at the Front

The Church of England Men’s Society was a national church organisation whose many local branches provided a social and fellowship meeting for men. Founded in 1899, it existed up until 1985.


The 5th Annual Conference of the Oxford Diocesan Union of the Church of England Men’s Society was held at Slough on Saturday, June 19th. The Wargrave Branch elected Messrs. Chenery and Coleby as delegates and they attended each of the Sessions. The Bishop of Oxford presided and was supported by members of the Council. After a cordial welcome from the Chairman of the Slough District Council, the Bishop referred to matters that were to be discussed during the day…

In the afternoon the late Secretary (Rev. Ernest F. Smith) brought forward several ways in which the C.E.M.S can help with soldiers who are serving at the Front and this led to a good discussion…

The Slough Federation most kindly provided tea for the Delegates. A Service of Intercession took place in St Paul’s Church and was attended by a large number of members of the Conference.

Wargrave parish magazine, July 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

Chatting with children about Army Life

A former schoolmaster who had joined up paid a visit to his old pupils in Slough. Did he encourage the older boys to follow him in due course?

May 18th 1915

Mr H Pugh at one time an assistant master of the school, and who has been on active service at the Front, visited the school. Mr Pugh received a wound in the leg.

Mr Greenaway visited the school and had a chat with the top class boys on Army Life.

Stoke Road School, Slough: log book (89/SCH/28/1, p. 372)

Reading schools continue to be disrupted

The Battle schoolchildren’s education continued to be limited due to the shortage of accommodation, thanks to military needs:

26th March 1915
Notice has been received that after Easter, the children will attend school, for four weeks from 1.30 to 4.30 in the afternoon, instead of the morning session as now.

Slough children supporting the Cheap Food Campaign were doing well, with even the boys keen to help with the cooking.

March 26th
The seven dinners have been prepared and have been quite successes. The invitations to dinner were equitably portioned between the boys and girls.

A Harbox cooker has been made and a stew put into it at 10 o’clock was found nicely cooked at 4.30pm.

The boys want to have a try at cookery and may be given a chance next term.

Battle Infants School log book (SCH20/8/2, p. 258); Stoke Road School, Slough: log book (89/SCH/28/1)

Flemish children at school in Reading

A Slough school was enthusiastic about supporting the campaign for cheaper food as prices rose due to shortages.

March 22nd 1915
Cheap Food Campaign.

Two course Dinners. Average cost for a family consisting of a father mother and four children, 10d per meal.

In connection with the above a Committee of the elder girls has been formed. Six shillings have been given to the Committee to make the necessary purchases for seven tenpenny dinners. A rota of the dinners and cooks has been drawn up. The cooking is to be done in the Master’s room, except baked dishes which are to be cooked in the school house.

Stoke Road School, Slough (89/SCH/28/1, p. 367)

Two Belgian refugee children were admitted to a Reading school:

22nd March 1915
Today admitted two Belgian Refugees, Francis Caulemins, the other [Herrmond?] Caulemins, both came from near Ghent. Both can speak a little English, their language is Flemish. They are put in Class I at present.

Reading St Giles Boys School log book, 22 March 1915 (R/ES2/9, p. 214)

Mrs Allhusen sends parcels to Slough boys at the front

A kind benefactor of a school in a deprived part of Slough had been helping the poorer children with material needs for some time. Since the war had begin, she had not forgotten the old boys, now at the Front. The wealthy Allhusens lived at Stoke Court in Stoke Poges, and Mrs Allhusen herself was a relative of Winston Churchill’s wife Clementine. Her unusual first name was Osma.

March 10th 1915

Through the kindness of Mrs Allhusen I have been able today to give out to the poorer boys 2 suits of clothes, 3 jackets and 4 pairs of boots. At Mrs Allhusen’s request I had prepared a list of poorly clad children and the above articles were to supply the deficiencies noted on my list. Mrs Leat has also been able to supply from the same source, many articles of clothing at various and many times to the girls.

All children, medically reported as needing spectacles, whose parents are not in good circumstances, have had the spectacles given to them by Mrs Allhusen if Mrs Leat or myself have reported the circumstances as justifying it.

Four or five anaemic children are having a class of new milk at lunchtime every morning. Children who have had serious illnesses have been sent to convalescent homes at the seaside.

Old boys of the school serving at the Front receive parcels and letters from the same generous source.

I cannot pretend to tell one half the good things that have been done by the managers’ representative on the “Care Committee”.

This sort of thing has been happening for a very long time, and I feel that a note of it ought to appear in this book.

Stoke Road School, Slough: log book (89/SCH/28/1, p. 365)

School swimming lessons saved his life

Children at a Slough school got to hear first hand about the near miss enjoyed by two old boys who had joined the Navy when their ship was torpedoed.

November 3rd 1914

Mr Greenaway has enlisted in the Army Pay Services.

Two old boys Frank Gomm and William Hobbs who were saved from the ‘Hermes’ when torpedoed by a German Submarine on Sat. last – came to the school. The scholars were delighted to congratulate them on their fortunate escape. Hobbs told the top class boys that the school swimming lessons had been the means of saving his life, as he had to swim 200 yards in his clothes before getting some support from a petrol can. Gomm managed to get on a waterplane float. They were in the water for ¾ of an hour.

Other schools continued to see disruption. A teacher at Bradfield CE School was involved with the movement to help Belgian refugees, when she took one group to the Benyon family at Englefield:

November 3rd 1914
Miss Robinson was allowed to leave before the close of the afternoon session to escort Belgian Refugees to Englefield House.

A Cookham school depleted of staff had to completely rearrange its classes:

November 3rd 1914

School reopened after Half Term holiday.

In consequence of the depletion of staff owing to the war, the Upper Standards V, VI, VII have been today rearranged. Standard V has been placed in No.2 classroom and the Boys and Girls of the First Class put together in the 1st Classroom. This has appeared to me to be the most reasonable way of dealing with the classes under the present circumstances.

Stoke Road School, Slough: log book (89/SCH/28/1, p. 359); Bradfield CE School log book (D/P22/28/2, p. 124); Cookham Alwyn Road School log book (88/SCH/18/1, p. 240)

‘The working of the school has been difficult’

A Slough headmaster was finding war conditions somewhat overwhelming.

October 9th 1914

The working of the school has been somewhat difficult since the holidays. Partly owing to the war and partly to illness of teachers. I have sometimes had two classes on my hands.

Stoke Road School, Slough: log book (89/SCH/28/1, p. 358)

Schools in Purley and Slough affected by the war

The headmaster of Slough and Chalvey British Infants School recorded in the school log book on 21 September 1914:

I have today received information of the appointment of Mr George Hearn, ‘Felbrigg’, Henry Rd, as temporary attendance officer in place of Mr Mattingley who is serving with the colours.

Slough and Chalvey British Infants School log book (C/EL123, p. 286)

Meanwhile, at Purley Church of England School:

21st-24th September 1914

The timetable was not strictly followed during the afternoons, as Belgian favours were being made.

These would have been rosettes or similar items to be sold to raise funds for the refugees.
Purley CE School log book (C/EL85/2)

A teacher joins the Yeomanry

Windsor Royal Free Boys’ School reports the loss of a teacher who had decided to join the Berkshire Yeomanry (the cavalry) on 8 September 1914. A teacher who was planning to leave a Slough school to join the army was absent for training (and in fact never returned).

Windsor Royal Free School

Mr L. Howard has in consequence of the war, and with the permission of manager, formed  joined the Berkshire Yeomanry and has therefore vacated his post until his service in the army are no longer required. Mr H. J. Middleton commenced duties as temporary assistant in place of Mr Howard this morning.

Stoke Road School, Slough
Mr Kent absent. He has been called up for drill etc.

Windsor Royal Free Boys  School log book (C/EL72/3, p. 133); Stoke Road School, Slough: log book (89/SCH/28/1, p. 355)
September 3rd 1914

War declared during the holidays

The schoolboys of Sonning returned to school after their summer holiday to find more changes than usual:

7th September 1914
School opened today after the holidays. Several boys were absent. During the holidays, War with Germany was declared. Mr W L Clarke, our assistant master, has enlisted in the 4th Berks Territorials. The B.E.C has appointed Mr Ernest Victor Evans, a trained Certificated Teacher, to take his place. Mr Evans began his duties this morning.

Wargrave School faced the loss of its premises, according to a note in the school log book on 7 September 1914:

Superintendent Goddard and several other gentlemen inspected the premises in the afternoon with a view to their being requisitioned by the government for the use of soldiers of some sort.

A Slough teacher, meanwhile, made the war the subject of a lesson:

7th September 1914
Mr Elves gave a lecture to the upper part of the school on the causes of the War.

Sonning Boys’ School log book (89/SCH/1/2, p. 20); Wargrave School Log Book (88/SCH/36/1, p. 124); Stoke Road School, Slough: Log Book (89/SCH/28/1, p. 356)