“A communal store would have destroyed any idea among the workers that the rich could get supplied at the expense of the poor”

Union members in Reading were vigilant in the cause of rationing.

Reading and District Trade Union Branch News and Notes

General Workers’ Union

The way in which members are subscribing towards the children’s entertainment is extremely gratifying, showing that our members realise that they owe something to the youngsters whose fathers are away doing their duty.

The entertainment will be held in our hall towards the end of January…

At the District Council on December 15 … Bro. J R Clynes, MP, attended to answer an adverse and critical resolution which was on the agenda on the Food Control business. After his speech, which gave a good deal of information which his critics were not possessed of previously, the resolution was lost by a large majority.

No doubt he has a very difficult task to perform, but with our knowledge of his ability and steadfast work in the interest of the workers we do not doubt that his position has and will result in benefitting us all as consumers.

As a Union we are doing all we can locally to tackle the food question here. Bros Knight and Russell have had interviews with the District Food Commissioner and the Mayor, and also have attended a Conference with the Food Control Committee and representatives of the traders, and it is hoped that with the cooperation of the people of Reading there will soon be in operation a scheme which will ensure the equal distribution of available tea, butter, margarine, and lard. It is a pity the idea of a communal store was not accepted for this scheme. It would have been an interesting experiment, and would have destroyed any idea among the workers that the rich could get supplied at the expense of the poor. However, we must all co-operate, and not fail to report any case of departure from the regulations to the Food Control Secretary.


The Reading Worker: The Official Journal of Organised Labour in Reading and District, no. 13, January 1918 (D/EX1485/10/1/1)

Advertisements

“The populace gave us a tremendous welcome”

A Reading soldier was involved in the conquest of Jerusalem, and reported on the triumphant entry into the city.

THE TAKING OF JERUSALEM

We are pleased to be able to give below an extract from a letter received by our friends Mr and Mrs Ernest Francis from their son, Private E. Layton Francis of the London Scottish Regiment. Private Layton Francis has many friends at Broad Street and they will rejoice to know that in spite of many trying experiences, he is safe and well.

Egyptian Expeditionary Force
12-12-17

Since writing my last letter home I have been through another attack and a unique experience, and have much to be thankful for that I have been kept safely through so much. After we left our last position, we marched all night – over a twelve hours’ march – and attacked in the early morning. Doubtless you will have seen from the papers that Jerusalem has fallen, and that to our Division has been given the credit of taking it.

Our triumphal entry into the city was an experience worth living for, and the populace gave us a tremendous welcome. The city is full of well dressed and apparently well educated people, many of whom can speak English perfectly, and were very anxious to speak with us. An Armenian – quite a nice looking old chap of English appearance – joyfully told us that “Now there will be a happy Christmas for all good Christians.”

I hope this letter will reach you as it is, as I do not think myself it contains anything of “Military Importance”. Anyhow I shall have a tremendous lot to tell you once I get home again. It is almost impossible to realise that we have been fighting and marching where Jesus Christ was born and crucified, and that we must have actually been over the same hills were He has passed…

It is bitterly cold where we are just now at night time and heavy frosts are quite frequent, although I expect it is still hot in the canal zone.

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

Awful explosion in ships

The explosion of a French ship carrying munitions in Canada has been called the worst manmade explosion before the invention of nuclear weapons.

8 December 1917

Awful explosion in ships at Halifax, Nova Scotia. Town almost destroyed! Roumania [sic] having truce….

Wrote to prisoners. Mrs Pack & Mr Rich [visited]. His son died of wounds. My Bubs to start for Paris 4 pm via Southampton & Havre.

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

A son killed fighting in Palestine

The son of a prominent Reading family (of Sutton’s Seeds fame) had been killed.

6th December 1917

It was agreed unanimously on the motion of the Chairman that a letter of sympathy should be sent to W. L. F. Sutton, as Chairman of the Committee, on the recent death of his son who had been killed fighting in Palestine.

Minutes of Queen Victoria Institute for District Nursing, Reading (D/QX23/1/2, p. 249)

Great regret and deep sympathy

There was widespread sympathy for the prominent Sutton family’s loss.


4 December 1917

It was moved by the Chairman, seconded by Mr. Holmes & unanimously resolved:-

“That the committee of The Reading Dispensary Trust wish to express the great regret which they have felt on hearing of the death of Lieut. Victor Sutton, the fourth son of the President, Mr. L. G. Sutton & they desire to express their deep sympathy with him & his family”.

The secretary was requested to send a copy of this Resolution to the President.

Reading Dispensary Trust minutes (D/QRD1/11, pp. 409-410)

We live in times when death is seen to stand near the door of every household

The war served as a constant reminder of the fragility of life to those at home.

Advent and Christmas

The Message of the Advent Season is a very solemn one “Prepare to meet thy God”.

It is a message that cannot be set aside as addressed only to come of us, or unheeded as having no immediate urgency. We live in times when death is seen to stand near the door of every household and the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

But if we take to heart the Advent message of the Church, we need not be afraid of anything that death can do for we shall be learning to company with Him who is the Lord of Life.

The way to prepare to meet our God is to occupy ourselves, with alert and purposeful industry, in the daily duties which lie before us. God sets the task, which we call duty. He will show us what He would have us do, if we seek to Him, in prayer, for guidance: He will give us the Bread of Life. He will not suffer the work to fail when we ourselves are called away, nor can any life be said to be cut short if the service for which God has asked has been fully rendered.

“For even here unto were ye called – that ye should follow His steps.” “Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing.” For all such servants the happiness of Christmas is an earnest of the joy of the Lord”.

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

Sympathy for the loss of a young man of great promise and amiability

Worshippers at Maidenhead Congregational Church sent Christmas gifts out to their young men at the front.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Those who knew George Whitmill will be able to sympathise the more keenly with his parents in their sorrow. He was a young man of great promise and amiability, and a keen student. He was a member of Mr. Heywood’s Bible Class in the Institute. He was killed at the front on October 30th. We offer our tenderest Christian sympathies to his friends.

Victor Anderson is in hospital at Sheffield suffering from “trench fever.” Reginald Hill is back at Shheffield, and is to undergo another, and we trust the last, of a weary series of operations. Donald Lindsay and Percy Lewis have been home on leave.

Christmas parcels have already been sent out to our lads in the Mediterranean Forces, and the others will be forwarded very shortly. Miss Hearman and Miss Nicholls have been good enough to undertake the considerable task of the purchase and packing of these parcels.

Letters also of greeting from the Church will be sent to all our men. The minister will be grateful for addresses corrected up to date. Boxes are to be placed at the doors on Sundays, December 2nd and 9th, to receive contributions towards the cost, which amounts to about £6.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, December 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

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)

Universally liked and respected

A popular postman was reported killed.

We deeply regret to have to record that Stanley Ewins of the Berks Yeomanry was killed in action in Palestine on November 27th. He was very well known in Bracknell as one of our postmen and was universally liked and respected. He was also a member of our Church Choir. Very great sympathy is felt for his widowed mother.

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

A chum he last saw on the banks of the Somme

A friend of the Hallams had an unexpected reunion while home on leave, while a maid at Bisham Abbey had suffered a family bereavement.

William Hallam
25th November 1917

Up at ¼ to 7. Emptied the bath, lit fire and went to H.C. at St. Paul’s at 8. A bitter cold wind. I also went down to the XI [11 o’clock] Service with Muriel & Frank Britten. Coming out of church he met an army chum of his – a St. Paulite – Richards whom he last saw on the banks of the Somme.

Florence Vansittart Neale
25 November 1917

Colonel Wells to lunch about soldiers for allotments….

Annie off home, her brother killed.

Diaries of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

The great sacrifice

Crazies Hill Notes

So far as we have observed the following from our list of those serving King and Country have been home on leave recently and it gave us great pleasure to welcome them:

Henry Doe, Hubert and Walter Denton, Tom Silver, Joseph Kimble, Jesse Waldron, Sam, Jim, David and Tom Weller.

Charles Ellison Woodward is a first-class wireless operator on a patrol yacht and not on a mine-sweeper as stated in our last issue.

Much sympathy is felt for Willie Denton who had a leg amputated owing to wounds and is now in Netley Hospital. He was a faithful member of our choir, and when home on leave some time ago he took his place in the choir as usual and we were all so glad to see him back. To his father and relatives as well as to himself we offer our sincere sympathy.

Hare Hatch

The deepest sympathy of a large circle of friends is felt for Mr. and Mrs. Sharp, whose son Valentin was killed at Salonica, on September 28th.

The Commanding Officer states: “We looked upon him not so much as a comrade but as a brother, he was greatly loved by the whole company.”

Valentine served at Gallipoli until he was wounded when, after a short period of convalescence at home, he was sent to Salonica where he has made the great sacrifice. This second bereavement has called forth the deepest sympathy for the family. We trust they will be supported and comforted by our prayers in the hour of trial.

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

Show that we appreciate what they are doing for us

Ascot parish worked hard to keep in touch with its men serving overseas.

ASCOT SAILORS’ AND SOLDIERS’ COMMITTEE.

This Committee, which was formed over two years ago, endeavours to keep in touch with all Ascot men serving in the Navy and Army abroad, and to show that we appreciate what they are doing for us. In order to keep the records up to date it is important that all information and changes of address relating to the men be at once communicated to any of the following members of the Committee.
High Street: A.F. Bullock, H. Woods. London Road: H. Goswell. Fern Park Road: A. Tustin. Swinley and Priory Road: J. Skelton. New Road: H. Charman, A. Morton. Kennel Ride: A. Woods.

We deeply regret the loss of Charles Sharpe and Victor Wye, killed in action, and our sympathy goes out to their relatives.

Mrs. Paxford and family wish to thank their kind neighbours and friends for their gift and sympathy in the great bereavement.

The following are reported wounded: E.H. Beasley, C. Everett, R. Strut.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, November 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/11)

A good comrade who always played the game

Among the Reading men reported killed were two decorated heroes.

All Saints’ District
The War
R.I.P.

Last month we offered our congratulations to Pte, F.R. Johnson of the Machine Gun Corps, and a member of the Choir, on being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for gallant conduct on July 31st. It is with great sorrow that we have to chronicle the fact that a few days later he was killed in action. He rendered excellent service in the Choir and leaves behind him a good record as a soldier. That he was appreciated and highly esteemed by his comrades is shown in the following extract from one of the several letters written by them which we have been privileged to read: –

“I know quite well from every man in the company would agree with me when I say that we always found him a good comrade and a loyal friend; to put it shortly, he was ‘a white man,’ and always ‘played the game.’”

Such words are a great testimonial to personal character. He was an only child, and our deepest sympathy will go to his sorrowing parents.

We also have to record the death of Pte Arthur James Purchell, of the Royal Berks Regt., whom also was congratulated some time ago on being awarded the Military Medal. He was severely wounded in action and died shortly afterwards.

News has also just arrived of the death of Gunner Frederick Edward Stowell, of the Salonika Force, and of Pt. William Warren Goddard, of the Machine Gun Corps, who died in France of meningitis. To the relatives and friends who are mourning their loss we shall give our sincerest sympathy.

All Saints section of Reading St Mary parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

“His machine nose dived to what seemed certain death”

There were varying fortunes for the men of Winkfield.

OUR MEN WHO ARE SERVING.

Much sympathy is felt for the family of Private Charles Mitchell, who we much regret to record was killed in action on October 11th. He was only 19, and had been at the front but a few weeks. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, November 11th, at 6.30 at the Parish Church , when we have no doubt that many will show their sympathy by attending.

Stoker Karl Brant has been very ill with pneumonia but is now convalescent and home on leave.

Private Fred Fancourt has been wounded in the face; he is in Hospital in France and is doing well.

Flight Commander Foster Maynard met with an aeroplane accident which nearly cost him his life. It is reported that when flying, through some mishap, his machine nose dived to what seemed certain death, when it was held up by some branches and he sustained many cuts about the head and a badly broken arm, but is now doing well in hospital.

Private Albert Carter is ill with trench fever, he is in hospital in England and we hope progressing favourably.

We are glad to learn that Private John Carter who had a very long and serious illness, is now convalescent, also Private George Streamer is now almost recovered and able to take up light duty in Ireland.

Private William Burt has been invalided out of the Amy, the chronic nephritis from which he is suffering being brought on by the exposure and hardships of the trenches. He is much better now and will we trust in time get quite strong again.

We congratulate Sergeant Henry Oatway on his promotion to Sergeant-Major in the Engineers.

CHRISTMAS PRESENTS TO OUR MEN.

We have always remembered the Sailors and Soldiers from our Parish at Christmas, and sent them small Christmas gifts which they have greatly appreciated. Mrs. Maynard raised the fund for doing this last Christmas and the Christmas before by means of a rummage sale, but this cannot be managed this year and so we must fall back on the subscriptions as in 1914, but I am sure that we shall feel it a privilege to do our share in bringing some Christmas cheer to the men to whom we owe so much. About £15 will be required.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, November 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/11)

“Our work for soldiers’ children is overwhelming”

Charities were struggling to compete with the demands of war-related appeals, even those who were helping families affected by the war.

Church of England Waifs’ and Strays’ Society.

Rev. E. de M. Rudolf, Secretary of the Society writes ‘We are still “carrying on” but the demands are always increasing, and so is the difficulty of meeting them. “Munitions” and “more and more munitions” is our cry. Do help us. Our work for soldiers’ children is overwhelming; do join us in special effort to carry it through. So many of us have cheerfully though sadly given up our nearest and dearest, that we can hardly grudge the stretching out a hand to those little ones whose own protectors are powerless to see to their welfare.

This Society is the one officially authorised by our Church to care for the little ones who are homeless and friendless, and as such is deserving of all the support which we can give it. Our offerings in Church at the Children’s Service on the third Sunday in each month and on Christmas Day are given to it. In addition £1 7s. 6d. has just been received, per Miss M. A. Monk (Aldworth), in subscriptions. Additional subscriptions are earnestly invited, and collecting boxes may be obtained from the Vicar. The value of the work which the Society is doing cannot be overestimated.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P154C/28A/1)