“Such was his enthusiasm that he was led to write war verses with a view to stimulating the slacker”

Here we learn of the war experiences of some of the Old Boys of St Bartholomew’s Grammar School, Newbury, who had lost their lives.

In Memoriam.

In reporting the deaths of the following Old Newburians, we take this opportunity of expressing our most sincere sympathy with the bereaved friends and relations.

N. G. Burgess.

Croix De Guerre

Lieutenant Nathaniel Gordon Burgess, Croix De Guerre, R.N.R., entered the N.G.S. in April, 1901, and left at Christmas, 1906, from the South House. He obtained his place in both the second Cricket and Football elevens in 1903 and got into both firsts in his last year. On leaving school he entered the Civil Service, but subsequently turned to the Mercantile Marine. His connection with the Senior Service dates from April, 1915, when his offer of service was accepted and he was granted the commission of Sub.-Lieutenant. The following September he was promoted to Acting Lieutenant and posted to H.M.S Conquest. While serving under the then Commodore Tyrrwhit he had the good fortune to capture two German trawlers laden with munitions; and the telegrams of congratulations, both from his Commanding Officer and the Admiralty, together with the battered flag of one of the trawlers, were among his most cherished possessions. The posthumous award of the Croix de Guerre was conferred on him by the French Government for his gallantry in the naval action off Lowestoft, in July 1916, when a German shell entered one of the magazines of his ship. Fortunately the shell did not immediately explode, and, by flooding the magazine compartment, the gallant officer prevented what might have been serious damage, his action being regarded very highly by the authorities.. thus it was a very promising life which was cut short when at the age of twenty-six, Burgess was lost at sea in March of this year.

J. V. Hallen.

Corporal John Vernie Hallen, School House 1905-1908, was born in 1894 and received his preliminary education at College House, Hungerford, thence going to The Ferns, Thatcham, from which school he finally came to the N.G.S., getting into both the Cricket and Football Seconds in 1907. After leaving here he became an expert motor engineer, from which occupation he joined up early in the war, determined at all costs to uphold the honour of his country. Such was his enthusiasm that he was led to write war verses with a view to stimulating the slacker, which we understand to have been always well received, and in the meanwhile he found time to use his great physical strength in winning the heavy weight boxing championship of his regiment, the 1st Surrey Rifles. Such was the man who was killed in action in France some three months ago.

F. C. Mortimer.

Private Frederick C. Mortimer, South House 1910-1915, who was reportedly killed in action “in the Field,” on Friday the 26th of April, was exactly nineteen years and four months old on the day of his death. He took a keen enjoyment in outdoor sport and got into the Second Cricket Eleven in 1914, while his dash was quite a feature of the First Fifteen in his last year here. Always cheerful and amusing, he was generally liked in his form and took his school life with a lightheartedness that made it well worth living. His last letter to his parents was dated on the day of his death, from France, whither he was drafted on the first of last February, after a year’s training at Dovercourt and Colchester. We cannot but feel that he died as he had lived, quickly and cheerfully.

R. Cowell-Townshend.

Second Lieutenant Roy Cowell-Townshend, R.A.F., Country House 1913-1916, was a promising Cricketer, having played for the first eleven both in 1915 and in his last term. On leaving school he wished to become an electrical engineer and entere4d into apprenticeship with Messrs. Thornycroft, on June 1st, 1916. Having reached the age of eighteen, he was called to the colours on February 17th, 1917, and went into training on Salisbury Plain, quickly gaining a stripe and the Cross Guns of the marksman. Soon afterwards he was drafted to the R.F.C. as a Cadet and went to Hursley Park for his course. From here he went first to Hastings and then to Oxford when, having passed all his exams, he was granted his commission on December 7th, 1917. He then went to Scampton, Lincoln, where he qualified as a Pilot, and afterwards to Shrewsbury, where he was practicing with a Bombing Machine he was to take on to France. Every report speaks of him as having been a most reliable pilot, and he had never had an accident while in this position, nor even a bad landing, and at the time of his death he was acting as passenger. The fatal accident occurred on May 29th, 1918, the machine, which the instructor was piloting, having a rough landing, and Townshend being pitched forward and killed instantaneously. His body was brought to his home at Hungerford, where he was buried with military honours on June 3rd.

The Newburian (magazine of St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury), July 1918 (N/D161/1/8)

Advertisements

Safe and well in spite of rumours to the contrary

There were concerns for men from Warfield.

Our sympathy goes out to Mrs. Bowyer of Scotland Farm, and Mr. and Mrs. Green, of Nuptown, whose sons are reported prisoners of war, and it is with the deepest regret that we have heard that Private William Baigent is reported missing.

We are glad to know that in spite of rumours to the contrary R. Lawrence’s son is safe and well.

Warfield section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, July 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/6)

A delightful, sunshiney, joyful life

An Earley soldier turned RAF man died suddenly of influenza.

In memoriam

Septimus James Hawkes, Captain Royal Berks Regiment

We record with great sorrow the sudden death of one much beloved of us all during his early life when he was closely associated with the Church and parish. He was an admirable scoutmaster and held the office of Taperer or candle-bearer in the church for several years until the outbreak of war called him to Sandhurst, from which he took a commission in the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

He served his country with great ability, and miraculously escaped with his life through many engagements. After recovery from a wound Capt. Hawkes qualified for the Air service and took up his new quarters at Dublin. Up to the day of his death he was in exceptionally good health and spirits. On Wednesday July 10, he had an attack of influenza and died the same day.

We mourn his loss greatly, and his death in Ireland after escaping the dangers of long service in France came as a terrible shock to his family and all here. His was a delightful, sunshiney, joyful life; his affectionate nature kept him in constant touch with his many relations and friends, and he found time to write frequent latters or cards in the stress of his laborious duties in France.

His body was bought back to the church he loved to serve on Sunday night July 14 and lay draped in the Union Jack before the chancel gates until the burial service the following day, at which a large number of officers and men with the military band attended.

Earley St Bartholomew parish magazine, August 1918 (D/P192/28A/15)

“It is our bounden duty to do our utmost to supply the Government with the financial resources which will enable them to win the war”

Speenhamland people were encouraged to contribute their savings to the government’s war funds.

We have had two War Savings’ Associations at work in the Parish, one called S. Mary’s branch and the other in connection with the Day Schools. The first has not been met with the support that the excellence of the cause demands. The other is in a more flourishing condition, for there are 58 members who have subscribed a sum of over £300 since its formation 18 months ago…

We sincerely hope that many more of the parishioners will join the Association and avail themselves at the same time. Most of us have relatives and friends in Army or Navy, and it is our bounden duty to do our utmost to supply the Government with the financial resources which will enable them to win the war.

Speenhamland parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P116B/28A/2)

Conspicuous bravery during the retreat

Various Old Redingensians (OLd Boys of Reading School) had been serving their country.

O.R. NEWS.

Deaths

Captain Lionel Tudor Wild, Somerset L.I., was the second son of Mr. and Mrs Aubrey S. Wild. Of 21, canning-road, Addiscombe, Croydon, and was born in 1888.Educated at St. Winifred’s, Kenley, and Reading School, he was for a short time in the service of the London and Westminster Bank, but afterwards turning his attention to motor engineering, he took up an appointment with Messrs Argylls (Limited) in Dundee, and was subsequently manager of the company’s branch in Aberdeen. For several years before the war he was a member of the Surrey Yeomanry, and attained the rank of sergeant, being one of the best rifle-shots in his squadron. On the outbreak of war he was mobilized with his regiment, and after some months’ training obtained a commission in the Somerset Light infantry, proceeding to France with his battalion in July, 1915. In 1916 he was appointed brigade staff captain, but eventually returned to his regiment, and was given the command of the company. He was reported “wounded and missing” on November 30th, 1917, and it has now been established that he was killed on that date, in an attempt to save the remnant of his company during the German counter attack near Cambrai, and was buried by the enemy at Masnieres.

On Saturday the death occurred at “Westdene,” Earley, the home of his parents, of Sec. Lieut. F.I. (Frank) Cunningham after illness contracted on active service. Deceased was educated at Reading School, from which he entered the City and Guilds Engineering College, London, and after going through the three year’s course he obtained a diploma in civil and mechanical engineering. In 1910 he went to Canada, and was assistant engineer on the Grand Trunk Railway. When war broke out he enlisted on August 14th, as a private in the Royal Highlanders of Canada. He was at Valcartier and Salisbury Plain, and in 1915 went to the front. At Ypres he was wounded in the foot, and after recovery was attached to the C.A.M.C., until 1916. He then obtained a commission in the R.F.C., which he held up till February the 3rd of this year, when he was invalided out of the service and granted the honorary rank of Sec. Lieut.

The funeral took place at St Peter’s Earley, on Thursday, April 11th. The officiating clergy were the Rev. W. S. Mahony, Vicar of Linslade, the Rev. Capt. A. Gillies Wilken (O.R.) Chaplain to the Canadian Forces ( lately prisoner of war in Germany), and the Vicar (Canon Fowler). The coffin was draped in the Union Jack.

Military Cross

Capt. (A/Major) D.F. Grant, R.F.A., the son of Mr W.J. Grant, of 12, Glebe Road, Reading. Major Grant was educated at Reading School, and quite recently lost his eyesight in France but has since regained it.

Captain Arnold J. Wells, A.S.C., T.F. (Territorial Force), has been awarded the M.C. for meritorious service in Egypt. He has served in Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine.

Bar To Military Cross

Sec. Lieut. (A/Capt.) J.L. Loveridge, M.C., Royal Berks.

Mentioned In Despatches

Fullbrook-Leggatet, Capt. C.St. Q.O., D.S.O., M.C., Royal Berks Regt.

Military Medal

Corpl. H.C. Love, Despatch Rider, R.E., of Reading, has won the Military Medal for conspicuous bravery during the retreat March 23rd-30th.

The following is the official statement of service for which Lieut. O.S. Frances, M.C. Royal Berks Regt. Received his bar: –

“He marked out the assembly positions for the whole brigade before an attack and guided forward companies of two battalions over very difficult ground and under heavy shell fire.”

Corporal W.L. Pauer, a sniper in the Munster Fusiliers, has been awarded the Military Medal and also the Medaille Militaire. He has been twice wounded. During the retreat in March he was made a King’s Sergeant on the field and he has since been awarded a bar to his Military Medal.

Wounded.

Rees, Major R.A.T., L.N. Lan. Regt., attached South Staff. Regt. He was formerly classical master at Reading School, where he held the commission in the O.T.C.

Reading School Magazine, July 1918 (SCH3/14/34)

“On the 3rd day one is terror stricken at the idea that they may take one to be a malingerer”

Sydney had the chance to do some sightseeing and wrote to his sister.

Monday 24 June 1918

I thought that the word would go forth today but it didn’t! I got up to breakfast feeling extraordinarily cheap & depressed. At tea the ‘chirpy’ doctor saw me & pronounced me fit to go down into Rouen. I spent the morning getting dressed.

After lunch went with the red haired Flying Corps boy to Rouen. First of all to Cox’s where I got a cheque changed. Afterwards to Ordnance on the other side of the river via a bridge with a hanging carriage called the [blank]. Then back & over Rouen Cathedral. I recognised it as though I had seen it before. Went up to top of fleche. A wonderful view. Saw Coeur de Lion’s tomb, and a wonderful alabaster tomb of two cardinals.

Back to hospital by 6 pm. Feeling very tired. Got round the sisters to let me have dinner in the ward. To bed at 8. Wrote to Florence & to Mother & Father. Read Tartarin sur les Alpes.

June 24th
My Dearest Florence

The Postman will soon whisk through the ward saying letters letters & tear off & not wait for anyone. So just a hurried line.
I have had a slight form of Trench Fever lasting 3 days. First day one feels like nothing, absolutely nothing. Temperature goes up to 103, etc.

2nd day one wonders if one really did feel yesterday & how in the name of fortune one has got past the doctors into hospital.
On the 3rd day one is terror stricken at the idea that they may take one to be a malingerer.

This form of FUO (fever of unknown origin) is very prevalent. You get fever shivers, backache, headache, pain behind eyes, & coughing. There now isn’t that field of symptoms in which dear little Mother might disport herself.

Well, I am up now, got up yesterday for the first time. Feel a bit rocky, stupidly low in morale (it has same effect on life’s outlook as Influenza!) & a bit peevish of a mornin’ me dear.

Here comes that dratted postman.

Write me always to old address

Your always affectionate

Brer
Sydney

7.30 am

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); and letter (D/EZ177/8/3/46)

“More might spare time from the river or their gardens to pray for the brothers and fathers and friends, who in our defence have neither our pleasures, our comfort, nor our safety”

The vicar of Maidenhead found wartime bread substitutes were inappropriate for Holy Communion.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

Ascension Day and Whit-Sunday have come to us in glorious weather, and we had satisfactory numbers of Communicants and good congregations. Both might have been rather better, for though well up to the level of other years, in this time of stress, I think more might spare time from the river or their gardens to pray for the brothers and fathers and friends, who in our defence have neither our pleasures, our comfort, nor our safety…

St Luke’s is going to ask for some extra donations to wipe off our deficit. Collections have been up in both churches, but the price of fuel, light, etc, has soared like an aeroplane…

Lastly, I have to ask for your consideration in a very delicate matter that needs reverent treatment. We are very fortunate in being able to get a special loaf of bread made for Church use, which is purer and whiter than the ordinary war bread. This, I hope, we shall always be able to get for Sundays, and we are much indebted for the trouble that has been taken by those who supply us with the bread. But frequently there are (in addition to Thursday) occasional week-day Celebrations. Sometimes I can arrange for a special loaf; sometimes it is difficult for me to do so. In these last cases, on week-days I propose to use wafer bread, made in squares that one can break, thus preserving the symbolism of the “One Loaf”. It is made of pure wheat, flour and water, and thus obeys the spirit of the rubric at the end of the Holy Communion Service. And there is no Scriptural or Church Warrant for the use of potato flour, etc, in church bread.

I must ask you to believe me when I say that I do it reluctantly, but I feel that in the circumstances the use of the very crumbly war bread makes devout persons of all schools of thought in the Church feel that something else should be secured that can be more easily and reverently divided. In France, I believe, the Army almost always uses wafer bread for the Holy Communion Service. No one attending the week-day Services will, I think, be made uncomfortable by the change; and old-fashioned people will not be disturbed by any change on Sunday as long as I can get a special loaf made.

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar
C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, June 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

Sneezing gas or hay fever?

Sydney was plagued by hay fever and thirst.

Sydney Spencer
Monday 17 June 1918

Got up at 6.45. Paraded at 7.45 for inspection. After inspection half an hour’s PT followed by a half hour’s run & then dismissed. Spent a lot of time reconnoitring. It was a scorching hot day, & the scent of clover fields so strong & pollen so strong that 4 out of 8 of us were set to sneezing violently. Some thought that it was sneezing gas as we were shelled pretty closely while on the trench line in front of A-y Wood, but I don’t think so.

This reconnoitring scheme took place from 9.30 till 3.30, 6 hours in a scorching sun with two biscuits & not a drop of drink! ‘No [won?]’ as the troops would say. The landscape was lovely. Saw numbers of swallow tail butterflies, scarlet pimpernels in abundance. A glorious walk if it had been a pleasure walk. A sleep. Dinner at seven. A turmoil of chits & arrangements & bed finally.

Joan Daniels
June 17th Monday

This morning the Austrian report said they had taken 10,000 prisoners, but tonight the paper says that they were completely squashed, which is a good thing. I am afraid the McKenzies will be anxious about Leslie, but trust he is alright.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer in France (D/EZ177/8/15); and Joan Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1)

Balance sheets are delightful things now-a-days

Newbury’s clergymen were rejected for war work, while the parish magazine was at risk.

THE WAR

There are reported Missing – Alfred Dennis, William Smith, Mr Barlow, and Mr Marshall; Wounded – Ernest Giggs; Gassed – Jack Smart; Prisoners – Jack Cooke and William Selwyn. We offer our sympathy to the relatives and friends.

The clergy of the diocese have received a Form from the Bishop on which they could offer for War Service. The Rector stated on his Form that he would be prepared to go to a Church Army Hut for several months if the work of the Parish could be provided for; and he has received the following reply through the Bishop’s Secretary: “The Bishop says stay where you are”.

Mr Marle offered to go to a YMCA Hut for four months, but received the reply: “The Bishop certainly thinks that you should stay where you are”.

As with our food, our clothes, and our boots, so with our paper. We are continually being faced with a new situation. After urging our readers to continue to take in the Parish Magazine, we have received a communication from the publishers of the Dawn of Day [insert] that there is serious shortage of paper, or that there will be, asking us to cut down our number of copies. However, it appears that our circulation has been so far reduced that we shall not have to ask any of our subscribers not to subscribe; but whether we shall be able to make both ends meet at the end of the year is doubtful. Balance sheets are delightful things now-a-days.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, June 1918(D/P89/28A/13)

“May his sacrifice not be in vain!”

There was sad news for many Reading families.

The Vicar’s Notes

Intercessions

Let us remember in our prayers all our fighting men, especially, among the prisoners, Alfred Standbridge, of Boarded Lane, one of our server; Roy Russell, of Minster Street; Walter Nunn of Hope Street (also wounded); Frank Thomas, of Lavender Street.

The Fallen, especially Norman Day, of Anstey Road (died of wounds); Arthur Walley, of Bartlett’s Cottages, killed in action on Easter Day; George Gardiner, Of Lavender Place (died from wounds).
R.I.P.

All Saints District
List of Men Serving in His Majesty’s forces

We shall be very grateful for additions or corrections to our list so that it may be kept up to date.

We offer our deepest sympathy to one of the oldest members of the choir, Mr Sales, on the loss of a second son. Percy Sales was well known in the district and will be much missed. – R.I.P.

We would also offer our deepest sympathy to Mrs. Austen Leigh and family on the death of her youngest son Acting Captain Arthur Alexander Austen Leigh who was killed in action on May 11th. – R.I.P.

S. Saviours District
R.I.P.

Frank Chard, an old S. Saviours lad, has laid down his life in France. He had served in the army for some time during the war and had only recently returned to the front after his marriage. We feel much with his wife and family who mourn his loss, and also with the army who have lost in him a good soldier. May his sacrifice not be in vain!


Lads Club

We are very sorry to hear that Bert Griffin is dangerously ill in hospital in France; we hope his slight improvement will be maintained. Ben Josey is still very ill. G. Mittam, W. Sawyer are slowly recovering from their wounds. L. Shipway has quite recovered and others who are in H.M.Forces are doing well.

Our Soldiers

Edward James Bonny and Frederick Hearn are prisoners and Charles and James Wayman are missing. William Jessy and Arthur Dye and George Ward are sick, and Tom Josey wounded. They need our prayers.

Sidesman

Mr George Wells has to rejoin the Army at the end of May, but tho’ we shall lose his faithful services for the time being, we shall count him as one of our S. Saviour’s Sidesmen, and one and all wish him well.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, June 1918 (D/P98/28A/13)

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

There was news of several Sulhamstead soldiers.

THE WAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh! what a blessing when families can be together in this dreadful time of strife & separation

Beer was in very short supply.

William Hallam
9th June 1918

Much colder to-day and heavy storms which were wanted badly but a N. wind with it. Didn’t go out all day except at 1 with Geo. to the Frome to have a drink. He says the first comfortable drink in a pub he’s had for months, for in Coventry if a pub has beer in it’s a fight for it.

Joan Daniels
June 9th Sunday

[After description of pleasant family day]

Oh! what a blessing when families can be together in this dreadful time of strife & separation.

Diaries of William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25); and Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1)

Gas masks of all nations

Sydney was instructed in the use of gas masks and translating for fellow trainees, while Percy had a bad day.

Sydney Spencer
Saturday 8 June 1918

Another beautiful day after the light rain we had last night. Got up at 7.30. After breakfast lolled about a bit & then on parade by 9.30 am. First parade consisted in [sic] a lecture by Lieut. Ash on Warfare generally, followed by the Projector Gas attack, a very interesting part of the lecture to me as I had not heard more than vague rumours as to how it worked.

After lecture a break, then gas drill till 12.30. Adjustment of box respirators by members! Lunch, & afterwards parade till 4.30. Lecture on gas masks of all nations, ie English, French, German & Russian. The Russian is a hideous [sic] affair. After the lecture a talk from the QM Staff man on Inspection. A rotten exhibition. Then through lachrymator gas to test the masks. At 4.30 we dismissed.

After tea, walked to Hesdin with Barker. Made sundry purchases. Barker wanted anything from ninepins to elephants. He taxed my French noun vocabulary to the last ounce. After dinner a loll in the garden. Then writing up gas notes.

Percy Spencer
8 June 1918

Went up to Battalion HQ. A very pleasant walk up. Fireworks everywhere. An awful journey back. Horses bolted as we tore thro’ batteries shelling & being shelled.

Florence Vansittart Neale
8 June 1918

Better news in France. We retaking few places. Heard Boy [her son in law Leo Paget] 3 months more in England & has an MC.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“A chaffinch is singing impetuously overhead, & it is peace, absolute peace”

Sydney enjoyed a pleasant day off.

Sydney Spencer
Friday 7 June 1918

After a most beautiful night’s sleep I got up at eight o’clock. Took breakfast at my leisure & am now lying under an apple tree in an orchard with the four other men. We are sprawling on the grass in the warm sunshine & a chaffinch is singing impetuously overhead, & it is peace, absolute peace.

We are now going into Hesdin.

Went into Hesdin & bought some gloves. 22 francs. Also some cherries. Afterwards got my hair cut, & had a delicious bath in camp commandant’s enclosure. Returned to mess at 1 pm. After lunch wrote a long letter to Bertha Lamb & also to Florence.

After tea went over churchyard & church with Major Knights & Graham. Then a short walk. Finally we lay in orchard & read. I read more of Tartarin de Tarascon. Have got half way through it.

Now it is dinner time. The army chemical adviser & gas instructor has just rolled in. We start work tomorrow morning. After dinner, went to bed & read more of Tartarin de Tarascon. To sleep by about 10.30 pm. (After dinner a short walk to Barker’s billet.)

Will Spencer
7 June 1918

A letter … for me from Mother, from Florrie’s. …

Mother’s letter contained the news that Percy had received still further promotion, – that he and Horace and Sydney had not yet met in France, but hoped to do so later, – and that Stanley’s name had been suggested to undertake war pictures, & he had “accepted the offer”, & would be leaving his present position.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer in France (D/EZ177/8/15); and Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/29)

“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)