“The line is a very different country now to what it was when I was here in September 1916”

Percy Spencer, as a single man, relied heavily on his sister Florence for the supply of toiletries and other things, and even asked her to do his mending. He was pleased to hear that former art student brother Stanley had been asked to join the War Artists scheme. As Percy proudly predicted, it was to be the first step in a starry career.

June 5, 1918

My dear WF

Thank you for the long letter, battery, key ring and tinder ‘lighter’, the lighter however does everything but light and the battery is the wrong shape. I think I said tubular. However I’m trying to get one here.

I got the last parcel – in fact all you have sent I think, dear. But letters do seem scarce when one’s only correspondents are a dear sister and one’s mother and father.

Can I give you another wants list –

6 eyelets for field boots
1 pair long laces (field boots)
2 pairs mohair laces (ankle boots)
Cake Wrights coal tar soap
Tube Kolynos tooth paste
Socks

3 or 4 pairs of socks I have, want mending. May I send them back to you on receipt of some from you?

I can’t remember whether I left any at my diggings. If you have none I’ll write to Mrs Curtis.

I’m having a lovely time camped in a wood by a stream. Worked pretty hard, as the orderly room has run downhill badly and I’m applying ginger.

We generally get a few hours bombing each night and occasional shelling and gas shelling, but nothing very near. Had a lucky escape further back a week or so ago. The Huns shelled our camp and dropped a shell close to the tent the doctor and I were in and between 2 bivouacs. Luckily we were all sleeping at the time and the force of the explosion and another from the shell went over us.

Last night I went for a walk up the line as I was feeling rather bilious. It was about 8 miles up from here. A very different country now to what it was when I was here in September 1916. It was a very quiet trip, no shelling or machine gunning. Arrived back at 2.30 am and feel all the better for my walk this morning.

Have you seen that Gen. K has got a CMG?

Your news about Stanley is the best that has reached me for many a day. Of course it’s a terrific compliment to his work and an appreciation which may be the making of his name.

I rather think that Sydney is north of me.

Yours ever
Percy


Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/41-44)

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“Looking more or less like an Englishman, instead of a walking mole heap in damp weather & a dust bin in dry weather”

Sydney and Percy Spencer both took the opportunity to write to their sister.

May 28th [1918]
My Darling Florence & Mr I.

Now it is really a time of rest & once more I can sit at a table again looking more or less like an Englishman & feeling very much like one too, instead of looking like a walking mole heap in damp weather & a dust bin in dry weather. Your parcel of toffy & chocolate was very much enjoyed

May 29th
I am simply bursting to tell you of a frightful row between my platoon & the villagers who possessed the little orchard in which they live. Suffice it to say that, broken bottles, language, shovels, dogs, tent mallets, myself, 4 sergeants & the town mayor (an aged full colonel) were chief actors in the scene, to say nothing of a goat which eats my men’s soap and children who steal their rifle oil to put on boots & other little etceteras! Happily we decamped before anything more than threatened warfare had taken place.

The cause of the quarrel? I was ordered to make my tent bombproof which meant digging up the floor of the tent & heaping up round it. This raised the ire of Monsieur et Madame et les petits!…

Your always affectionate

Brer
Sydney

May 29, 1918
My dear WF

Wants as usual.

6 pots of Properts MAHOGANY polish & invoice, please.

1 bottle of fountain pen ink. Boots have some Watermans boxes if you cannot get Swan. Everyone borrows mine & then complain that it’s bad ink!

The polish is for the CO so I hope Thrussells will come up to scratch. He can’t get it from his wife. Thrussells can pack it no doubt. Rather elliptic, but you’ll understand.

Well dear, it’s a lovely day – the planes have been doing stunts over the line and all’s merry & bright. Our quarters are good shelter but no cover against fire so I wasn’t particularly happy last night when the Hun commenced shelling. We have also had a fairly consistent bombing stunt nightly – very pretty to watch but too near to be pleasant.

The other day – Sunday in fact – I went all over one of our tanks. Life inside one must be pretty cramped and unhappy [censored].

My quarters on Sunday were in the guest chamber of a ruined chateau. A shell had had an extraordinary career through the next room but except for windows my room was all right. We went there as our previous quarters were stiff with guns of all sizes firing into our back doors. When some 9 1/2s began to arrive we moved. The concussion of those beggars is terrific.

Yours ever
Percy

Letters from Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/3/38-39); and Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/40)

“A dirty morning but bad for the Hun so it’s a good day after all”

Percy Spencer wrote a long letter to his sister Florence based on his diary.

May 13, 1918

Ny dear WF

It’s along time since I wrote you, but now I swear to steal an hour and give you a sort of diary of events.

First of all, though, before I forget them list of wants –

Propane Royal Navy dressing
2 pairs long cord laces for field boots
Wrights coal tar soap

Also what does my baccy cost out of bond? What would 50 small size Meriel de luxe cigars cost out of bond? And what would 100 reasonably good Virginia cigarettes cost out of bond?

If you could do all that for me when passing the tobacconist, the chemist & Thrussell’s. I shall be very grateful.

I’m trying hard for your sake to keep a diary that is within the law. Just how far I had got in my last letter I forget, so forgive me if I repeat myself.

On My 3rd Ridley, my No. 6 in the famous Eight, turned up and talked over our Trinity days.

The next day was mostly solid work. Colonel P[arish]’s band played at mess, I think it was that evening the Mayor dined with us and we drank to France and the King, and everyone was awfully friendly and nothing disturbed the harmony except Col. P’s boyish anxiety for Paddy, a lovely Irish terrier, the regimental mascot, which is always being stolen. Paddy was tied to the big iron entrance gates while the band played, and every few minutes Col. P jumped up to see none of the crowd outside had borrowed him.

On the 5th the Padre, a delightful fellow, messed with us. The CO wound up a jolly evening with an imaginary stroll “down the Dilly”.
The next day was wet. M. Le Maire [the local mayor] dined with us and under the influence of his own good brandy made a clean breast of buried souvenirs de la guerre.

The 7th was a red letter day. Many honours were received by the Division, Col. P getting a DSO and our own CO his 2nd bar to DSO.
In the evening another padre came in and talked politics & economies till a late hour.….

The 8th was a lovely day. The field cashier turned up short of cash & I had to cycle to another village to get money for the boys. Me. Le Maire [the local mayor] again dined with us & collared lots of bread. Col. P spent the evening gloating over the anticipation of leave and going [on] imaginary walks all over London much to our CO’s disgust. The APM lunched with us and told us amusing “3rd degree” trial stories.

The 9th produced the best story I’ve heard for along time. Told me by an interpreter at lunch who had been engaged upon taking a census of people in a certain village in the forward village [sic] and persuading them to leave. An elderly lady refused to go without her children. And how many children have you, enquired the interpreter. I don’t know, she replied. But surely madam! Exclaimed the interpreter. Pointing to the yard crowded with Tommies, she exclaimed, “There are my children: when they go, I go.”

10th Paterson the popular officer of my old regiment dined with us.
On the 11th I had tea with my old friends Tyrrell, Garwood & a host of others. They all made me very welcome, only “Miss Toms” couldn’t remember to call me anything but “Sergeant Spencer”.

In the evening another Regimental Band played outside my orderly room, conducted to my pleasant surprise by the private in my platoon in England who is a Mus. Doc. [doctor of music] & deputy organist of St Paul’s. Col. P went on leave. I prosecuted in a case for him.

12th: a very uneventful day because I have heard the full song of a Bosch shell for the first time for 10 months. Had a long chat with the CO who said the folks forward were finding me very useful. A letter too from a wounded Major in England arrived saying nice things about me. I’m easily getting to the not altogether enviable position of having a reputation to live up to. By the way I might say here that KK has been perfectly charming to me.

And that brings me up to today – a dirty morning but bad for the Hun so it’s a good day after all.

Give my love to all at 29 & let me know if you don’t like this sort of letter.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to his sister (D/EZ177/7/7/35-36)

“This front is not so quiet as the papers would have you believe”

A member of Broad Street Brotherhood wrote home from service in a bleak part of the Balkans.

Somewhere in Macedonia
5th March 1918

I am taking the first opportunity of writing to thank you and the friends at Broad St for the nice Xmas parcel which arrived safely last week. It is indeed most kind of you all to think of me in this distant land, and I can assure you your kindness is keenly appreciated.

I must heartily congratulate whoever was responsible for the selection of the contents. They were just what I was in need of – especially the writing pad, toilet soap and cigarettes. These things are very difficult to obtain in our part of the line, which is in a most deserted and desolate area, far removed from any YMCA tent or EF canteen, and 50 or 60 miles from Salonica…

Of course I cannot give you any details of our doings out here, but I can assure, you, this front is not so quiet as the papers would have you believe. Praying that the Almighty’s richest blessing may crown all your efforts to brighten matters in “dear old Blighty”.

W J Dance (OS) [on active service]

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, April 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Coming to the Front?

Florence Image sent her brother some gifts ready to take to the Front.

21st (Res) Battalion London Regiment
G Lines
Chiseldon Camp
Nr Swindon

Feb 28, 1918

Dear WF

Very many thanks for the books and for the soap case…

Since [his last letter] an officer from Gen Kennedy’s Brigade has been here who introduced himself to me & told me Gen Kennedy talking to him the other day had told him I was coming out to the 15th. But I have no further news direct….

Yours ever

Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/17-18)

“We hope none have been forgotten”

Christmas presents were sent out again this year, with even wounded soldeiers helping to wrap them.

Warfield

CHRISTMAS PRESENT FUND FOR WARFIELD MEN ON SERVICE.

A meeting was called early in October and a Committee appointed as follows: the Vicar and Mrs. Thackery, Mr. H. Lawrence, Mr. and Mrs. Crocker, Mrs. Crailsbam, Miss Leach, and Miss Hardcastle (Hon. Treasurer.)

The appeal for funds again met with a warm response as will be seen by the figures given below. Special thanks are due to Mr. Pearce and Mr. W. Lovejoy, who took much pains in collecting from a large part of the parish.

The contents of the parcels were chosen by Mrs. Thackery and Mrs. Crocker, and wee as follows, the total number of parcels being 101. For men at the Front, 77 – sock,s writing case, soap, trench powder, potted meat. For men in England, 24 — socks, handkerchief and writing case, potted meat or soap, chocolate. The parcels were packed at the Brownlow Hall by the ladies of the Committee assited by a few others, and each one contained a card with the words: “With all good Christmas wishes from your friends at Warfield.” A great many acknowlededgments have already been received by Mr. Lawrence, all expressing much satisfaction with the parcels and appreciation of the remembrance.

The balance, after paying all expenses of the parcels, was expended on presents for the widows of the six men who have laid down their lives during this year.

Account of the Fund.
Received. Balance from 1916 £1 9 7
Proceeds of Whist Drive 6 10 2
Subscriptions, 1917 13 0 6
£21 0 3
Spent. Contents of Parcels 15 12 1
Paper and String 0 9 1
Postage 4 4 0
Presents to 6 Widows 0 15 0
£21 0 3 ‘

The Warfield Schools War Savings Association have now £207 12s. 0d. to their credit. This is mainly due to the thrift of the majority of the 113 members who have paid their contributions each Tuesday without a break.

Bracknell

CHRISTMAS PRESENTS to the Men Serving.

Parcels have been despatched to all out Bracknell and Chavey Down men serving abroad; we hope none have been forgotten. The money to pay for these presents had been collected by many kind workers, and a great number of people made some contribution. The parcels were packed and sent from the Vicarage, a number of people, including some of the wounded soldiers, helping to do them up.

Cranbourne

SOLDIERS’s PRESENTS

A Christmas present has been sent from Cranbourne to each of our men serving in His Majesty’s forces. A Christmas card has also been posted with a note saying that a present has been sent in a separate parcel. To defray the cost, £7 was contributed from the takings at the recent concert, donations amounting to £5 10s. 0d. have been received, and a house to house collection realised £6 8s. 0 1/2d. We are grateful to Miss Dodge, Miss Jennings and Miss Smith for their kindness in making this collection.

Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, January 1918 (D/P 151/281/10)

The meaning of Christmas: ‘You won’t be afraid when your time comes to “go over the top”’

Members of Broad Street Church sent gifts to their friends at the front – and the minister had some special words of comfort for them this Christmas.

CHRISTMAS PARCELS

It has been decided to send once more a Christmas Greeting to men of the church and Brotherhood who are serving with HM Forces. Each man is to receive a small parcel as in previous years. As there are 150 men to be provided for this will involve considerable expense. Our friends are therefore asked for their generous help. The best way in which this could be given would be by gifts of money. But for those who prefer to contribute goods it is acceptable, viz: Woollen comforts, soap, candles, condensed milk, tobacco and cigarettes, towels, handkerchiefs, sweets in tins, sardines, note paper and envelopes. Mr C Dalgleish, Hollybush, Grosvenor Road, Caversham, has kindly consented to rceive gifts of money. Goods will be gratefully received by either Mrs Rawlinson, 50 Western Elms Avenue, or Mr W A Woolley, 85 Oxford Road.

THE MESSAGE OF CHRISTMAS TO OUR MEN AWAY

What has Christmas to do this year with you, or indeed with any of us? At first sight, little enough; but looking deeper, everything.
God did not create a humanity that was bound to go wrong, and then leave it. He is not “an absentee God, sitting idle, at the outside of His universe, and seeing it go.” There was only one way to fight the evil, and God – all Righteousness and all Love – took that. “O generous love! that he who smote in man for man the foe…” The Divine Personality was born a little child over nineteen hundred years ago. That was Christmas.

He began by obeying orders, doing irksome things that seemed unmeaning and useless, but doing them as long as they had to be done. Then he lived in self-sacrifice, giving Himself for others utterly. He was friend and healer and helper wherever there was need. He fought evil with good, and hate with love. He stood for right and justice against odds. So far as you follow Him, and do these things, that is Christmas for you.

The meaning of Christmas persists. Christ is alive and working now, more nearly present than He could be then, and what He was on earth he is still.
….
He is still the friend and helper, with you in all loneliness and need and temptation. It keeps you straight, often to remember the eyes waiting at home, expecting that yours will be able to smile squarely into them when you come back. You can’t go wrong when you remember His eyes expecting as much, but with the power, too, to quell any demon that attacks you. You have not to fight your battles alone. He is no myth. Reach out to Him in your extremity, and see whether He fails you. “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

You won’t be afraid to leave your home people in His care, knowing that He cares for them as much as you do – as they have the harder task of leaving you. Every Sunday, and how many times between, they and we think of you, and pray for His care of you – in the trenches, or in the air, or in the sea; in hospitals or in camps; in far lands or in the home country; in drudgery or in danger.

You won’t be afraid when your time comes to “go over the top” (at the end of a long life, as we trust), seeing that the Friend with whpm you have lived and who you have trusted so long, is waiting out there for you, in that life which He left to come to your help.
All this is what Christmas means for you.

In connection with the Church, Christmas parcels are being sent to our Brothers in the Forces as before, and a “collection in kind” will have been taken by the time these notes are in print, and another in money will be asked for on December 2nd.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Lemonade crystals for the troops

Ascot soldiers and sailors received regular parcels from home. The contents included concentrate to make a fizzy lemon drink.

ASCOT SAILORS’ AND SOLDIERS’ COMMITTEE.

The object of this Committee is to keep in touch with every Ascot man who is serving his Country abroad, and to show appreciation of what he is doing. Correspondence is kept up with the men and parcels are sent out periodically.

Recently, parcels have been sent out to 101 men, namely:

10 in the Navy, consisting of book, pipe and socks. 63 in the B.E.F., consisting of matches, candle, bootlaces, towel, lemonade crystals, soap, pipe, and 1/4lb. of tobacco.

28 in the M.E.F. and India, consisting of lemonade crystals, socks, pipe, 1/4lb. of tobacco and tinder.

In sending these the Committee have found a number of changes of address, and several additions to the number of men serving. In future, in order to avoid disappointment, it is important that any changes should be at once notified to any member of the Committee or to Mr. W.H. Tottie.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, September 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/9)

Fine clothes for wounded officers

Wargrave Surgical Dressings Emergency Society had been very productive, sending masses of bandages, clothing and bedding for the uses of the wounded. Note the class-related distinctions, with officers given better quality items.

Wargrave Surgical Dressings Emergency Society
Feb 22nd, 1917.

Fifteen Bales have left the Wargrave workrooms since January 5th, 1917, in answer to the requisitions of the Director General of Voluntary Organisations.

Six Bales have gone direct for the use of the troops at the Front containing:
564 pairs of Knitted Mittens
277 Knitted Mufflers
148 Knitted Helmets
226 pairs of Socks (heavy hand-knitted)
12 heavy long sleeved Cardigans
12 pair of knitted Gloves
5 dozen pieces of Soap.
And oddments of knitted Comforts.

These all went addressed to the A.M.F.O., Le Havre, France, for immediate distribution.

The other Nine Bales contained:

228 Pneumonia Jackets
308 treasure Bags
156 Long heavy operation Stockings
58 pairs of fine pyjamas for Officers
16 fine Flannel Shirts for Officers
156 Surgical Boots and Slippers
13 Pillows
24 Pillow Cases
36 Handkerchiefs
108 Knitted Washcloths
6 double-lined fine twill Flannel Dressing Gowns for Officers
8 fine flannel dressing jackets for Officers
6 pairs of soft grey flannel ward suits for Officers

Hospitals sent to:

C.O 11 General Hospital, B.E.F., France
Sister-in-Charge, 8 Ambulance Train, B.E.F., France
Military Orthopaedic Hospital, Duncane Road, Shepherd’s Bush
The Stewart Norfolk War Hospital for Officers, Thorpe, Norwich
The Matron 17 Park Lane, London (for Officers)
The Highland Casualty Clearing Station, B.E.F., France
Military Hospital, Park Hall Camp, Owestry (Urgent).

Wargrave parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

Some internees mope about all day long

Artistic Albert Cusden, interned in Ruhleben camp near Berlin with three of his brothers, wrote regularly to his family safe in Reading. Brother Len was the recipient of this letter. In return, the family and other friends back home sent the Cusdens food and other essentials.

18 Jan 1917

Dear Len

I received Lucy’s letter of the 4th a few days ago. The money sent for Swiss bread in December was apparently used for sending a small parcel of food in place of the bread, as Dick received a card from the Bureau to the effect that a small parcel of provisions was being sent from Shrimpton’s, and Arch & I received similar advice as from you. These parcels arrived early this week, so suppose everything is now settled. I note Lucy states you still do not know particulars of the new parcel system, but I gave details in my letter to Father & Mother, so I daresay you understand everything now. We are receiving the new parcels regularly and as regards quantity, quality & variety, the food is very good and we shall be very satisfied if things go on like this. We are also able to obtain as much bread as want, as regular supplies of Danish bread are sent to our camp captain for distribution. This Danish bread is white and superior to the Swiss. I wrote sometime ago asking for soap, but just too late for you to send before December. Since then we have obtained some extra soap and one of the standard parcels contains soap, so we have now enough. But I believe that anything not in the nature of food, e.g. clothing etc, can be sent by private individuals, but through the Central Organisation. So if we require anything like this we will let you know….

I haven’t been doing so much drawing lately, the weather isn’t so favourable. Winter seems really to have come now, plenty of snow and frost, but it is chiefly dry and as long as it remains so I don’t mind how cold it be, except of course from the point of view that I don’t do so much drawing. The changes in the weather form, I suppose, the chief changes in the life here, but the time doesn’t hang so much as it might easily do. It depends mostly upon the person. There are some who mope about all day long and won’t or can’t take up anything. Did the Camp magazine reach home? My drawings didn’t come out well, the originals were too small. And I haven’t done much with ink yet…

Your affectionate brother

Albert

Letter from Albert Cusden to L W Cusden, 57 Castle Street, Reading (D/EX1485/4/4/5)

“Let us help, how, when, and where we can, but let us do our bit”

Wargrave women worked hard providing medical supplies for wounded soldiers, and their work inspired ladies across the country.

Wargrave: Surgical Dressing Emergency Society

An American Fete was held at Riverside Lawn, on July 1st, by kind permission of Mr. Cain, in aid of the Society’s funds. The splendid sum of £165 was realised. There is no space to mention all who helped to make the Fete a success, buyers and sellers all did their very best and those present represented a large gathering of interested friends, with a keen appreciation of the work being done at “Millwards” for the Casualty Clearing Stations in France, Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia.

There are now nine branches:-

Long Parish (Hants). Pangbourne.
Chigwall Row. Wimbledon.
Heswell (Cheshire). Peppard.
Shiplake. Ledbury (Gloucestershire)

Knowl Hill is part of the Wargrave branch.

Wargrave being the Head Branch is in direct communication with the Director General of Voluntary Organizations, New Scotland Yard, and is responsible for all the sterilization of Dressings and the packing of Bales.

The Bales are sent direct from Wargrave Station, (as Government Requisitions) to the points in the Firing Line, most in need of help.

Between the Dates of Oct. 19th, 1915 and June 19th, 1916:

1316 Kits of Sterilized Dressings
4989 Spare Bandages
2915 Comforts including Shirts, Pyjamas, Slippers, Tooth Brushes, Soap, etc., etc., have gone out to help out Wounded, straight from the Trenches or Field.

Several Emergency Calls, including one last week for 200 made swaps, and another for 200 Wargrave Surgical Oakum Pads (a special request from the Front) were filled, in each case the Bales left Wargrave Station 24 hours after the call was received.

Medals were awarded through Miss Choate, as head of the Society, to Members of Wargrave and also Members of the Branches, who had worked 100 hours in three months. The list of names will be printed in the next month’s Magazine.

The work of the Society is growing, so alas is the number of Wounded. We are glad of Comforts, especially socks and warm winter garments. One pair of socks, one shirt will comfort one Wounded Man. Let us help, how, when, and where we can, but let us do our bit.

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

The dugout canteen does a roaring trade

The Revd T Guy Rogers was now running a canteen for soldiers in a dugout as well as continuing his religious work.

April 10th

The canteen is successfully opened, and is doing a roaring trade. We started at 5 p.m. on Saturday (just after the men had been paid), and sold 200 frs. worth in a couple of hours… you should have seen the crowd trying to get into the very small quarters. I tried to give them a start by helping to sell behind the counter, but I soon get hopelessly muddled trying to calculate how much chocolate I should sell for 90 centimetres at 15 centimetres a bar! My arithmetic was never strong – I found a R.A.M.C sergeant, whose father had been a shopkeeper, and put him on it while I sat by aghast at the speed with which he calculated to the uttermost farthing. We have now got three men told off to the job, one of whom is quite good and understands shop-dressing. He has made the stacks of tinned fruits look so fetching, you cannot choose but buy.

The place itself is just a dug-out made of sand bags under the ramparts. We have pinched an old door and are getting a lock and key by the less interesting method of purchase! There is a great demand for candles. Soap, too, comes high in the list of articles which ‘Tommy’ feels the need of…

I never found it so easy to make my Sunday arrangements. This is because I have a comparatively small area to cover. On the other hand the Sundays are tiring for we have to take a great number of small Services. The work is quite fascinating though, and the deeper one gets – how shall I put it? into the perils of the firing line, the more the men seem to want what one has to give them…

I had a series of short Services in the morning from 9-12.30, celebrating three times – once in the bowels of the earth, once in a cellar. In the last place I had 18 Communicants crammed into a very small space. I had to disperse with kneeling, except at the actual partaking… Then in the afternoon three more services, 3, 4, and 6 p.m. Then some funerals. I do not finish till about 9.30.

Reading St. John parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

Christmas parcels

There was an interdenominational effort in Bracknell to co-ordinate sending Christmas gifts to the men at the front.

Christmas parcels have been sent to all the men who are on active service both in the Navy and the Army. The Chavey Down men received their parcels through the working party on the Down. The members of the Congregational Church and P.S.A. sent to those connected with their organizations, and the remainder, about 70 in number, were provided for by subscriptions contributed by many in Bracknell.

Grateful letters of acknowledgement have come from a large number of the men, who desire the Vicar to thank all the Bracknell friends who contributed; the contents of the parcels seem to have been much appreciated.

The parcels were packed by Mrs. Barnett at the Vicarage, with the kind assistance of Mr. Payne and Miss Hunton. The contents of the parcels were such things as biscuits in tins, cake, Oxo, potted meat, milk and cocoa, chocolate, apples, soap, candles and cigarettes.

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Monthly Magazine, January 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/1)

Soap, beef tea, chocolate and peppermints

Church members at Maidenhead Congregational Church sent Christmas parcels to the “lads” from their ranks who had joined up and were now at the front.

OUR SOLDIER LADS.
The young soldiers from the Institute received from their fellow members a parcel of good things and a letter at Christmas. From the proceeds of a collection taken on December 12th, the other heroes who have gone out from us have also each received a “Surprise Packet,” consisting of a pair of socks, a writing pad and envelopes, a tablet of soap, a box of beef-tea tablets, chocolate and peppermint, and a letter from the Minister.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, January 1916 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Comfort parcels for PoWs

The people of Ascot donated generously towards parcels of food and other comforts for British PoWs in Germany.

HARVEST THANKSGIVING SERVICES were held at All Saints Church on Sunday, October 3rd. The Choir, though much thinned in numbers owing to the war, sung admirably, having been carefully trained by the Choirmaster, Mr. A. Tustin. The Church was beautifully decorated with flowers, fruit and vegetables. Afterwards, these offerings were distributed – the grapes to sick and aged parishioners; the apples and vegetables to the Priory Orphanage, the Nursing Home, and elsewhere.

On the previous Sunday a suggestion was made that “comfort parcels” should be sent to British prisoners in Germany. The response to this invitation was really remarkable. Cocoa (70 tins, and some tablets), biscuits (28lbs.), condensed milk (24 tins), wool and knitting needles, jams, tinned fruits and vegetables, raisins, macaroni, soap, tobacco, chocolate, peppermint, socks, etc., and gifts in money (including sixpence from a little girl who brought her coin to the Altar) were contributed and were eventually passed on to the Church Army whose officers had guaranteed that all these “comforts” should reach the prisoners safely.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine November 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/11)