Pinning peace medals

Maidenhead children were presented with something to remember the end of the war by.

King Street School
4th November 1919

The Mayor, accompanied by the Mayoress, and the Clerk to the Education Committee, visited this afternoon to distribute the Peace Medals to the children. Time would not permit for him to hand each child his medal, so he pinned one on the Head Teacher & asked the teachers to do likewise for the children.

Gordon Road Boys School
November 4th 1919

The mayor accompanied by the Mayoress and Town Clerk visited the school to distribute the Peace medals.

Boyne Hill Girls’ CE School
Nov. 4th

The Mayor, accompanied by the Mayoress & Mr Davies, addressed the children for a few minutes this afternoon, the occasion of the distribution of Peace Medals. The afternoon Cookery Class was postponed.

War Loan takings today = £3.15.

Log books of King Street School, Maidenhead (C/EL77/1); Gordon Road Boys School, Maidenhead (C/EL/107/1); Boyne Hill Girls’ CE School (C/EL121/3

Peace mugs distributed

Souvenir mugs to celebrate peace were in high demand in Hampstead Norreys.

24th Oct.

Yesterday (Thurs) the Peace Mugs were distributed to all the scholars by Mrs Coper of Eling. A number of parents also attended to receive mugs for those children above or below school age.
The 1st Class children sang two songs before the presentation, and afterwards, on the proposition of the Head master, thanked Mrs Cooper for coming to distribute the mugs.

They were bought with money collected by the Peace Celebrations Committee.

Hampstead Norreys CE School (C/EL40/2)

There should be some sort of Peace Memorial

There were mixed views in Wargrave as to how to commemorate the war.

October
Peace Memorial

The Parish has summoned a Parish Meeting for Friday, October 10th, which will be held 7.15 p.m. in the Woodclyffe Hall.

It is felt that this would be a suitable occasion for raising the question of a Peace Memorial in the Parish.

I. – There is a very general feeling that there should be some memorial in the Parish Church, in memory of those who fell and to record the names of those whose lives were freely jeopardised for the glory of God. Such a memorial has been already dedicated in the East Window, as a tribute from an individual donor, and it will be completed by a Chancel Screen with the names carved on the panels. But there are those who would like to have a share in raising a General Memorial, which would remain as a tribute from the parish as a whole. With this view the East End of the South Aisle was specially reserved by a Resolution of the Vestry. Sir Charles Nicholson has prepared a scheme of decoration, for this which will be submitted to the meeting on Friday, Oct. 10th. It provides for a screen, in continuation of the proposed Chancery Screen, and for the panelling of the walls. A lectern might be added with a large volume, after the fashion of an old chained bible, in which the names might be engrossed and biographical particulars added. We should thus have a Place of Memorial.

No scheme of embellishment can give to any part of the church the least dignity and sanctity without making it a place of Communion, because the whole plan in the building and decorating of our churches is to lead the worshippers to the altar, as that to which everything else is subordinated. In our Peace Memorial there is unfortunately no space for an altar. But the East Window of the chancel itself is a memorial to the fallen and all who approach the choir to enter the sanctuary will see the names on the chancel screen.

II. – there are also those who feel that there should be some sort of Peace Memorial outside the church. If so it would seem that this should be either a monument to commemorate the services rendered or an institution to benefit the families of those who served and their children after them.

There may be many suggestions made when the opportunity of the public meeting gives occasion and, if so, the widest possible range is to be encouraged. We want all the suggestions which commend themselves to the different views and tastes of parishioners. It will be easy to refer such proposals to a committee, who shall report to a subsequent meeting, if such a course is thought to be advisable.

It is therefore to be hoped that the meeting will be very largely attended.

The actual purpose for which the meeting is summoned is to decide about a German Gun.

The War Office has sent a 77 m/m Field Gun and Carriage to the Parish Council to be kept in the parish as a public trophy of the great victory and as an acknowledgement of the V.C. which adorns the Wargrave Roll of Honour.

It has been presented to the Parish Council that there is some difference of opinion as to how the gift should be dealt with. The Parish Council has therefore summoned a Public Meeting of the Parishioners to decide the matter.

November
The Parish Meeting

Three matters were brought before the Parish Meeting, which was summoned by the Parish Council on Friday, October 10th, at the Woodclyffe Hall. The Peace Memorial, a German Gun presented by the Trophies Committee of the War Office, and a new Burial Ground.

There were very diverse subjects, but in each case it was felt that the matter should be put to the widest possible vote, and when the prospect arose of a largely attended meeting it seemed best to take the opportunity of bringing them all forward on the same night.

The Peace Memorial

The Vicar, as chairman of the Parish Council, presided. He introduced the subject by explaining that there was no notice of any particular Resolution before the meeting, but it would seem that a Peace Memorial should either take the form of some sort of monument to commemorate the fallen, or some sort of institution to benefit those who had served in the Great War or their dependents.

A memorial to the fallen might be either inside the Church or outside. A memorial was already secured inside the Church in the East Window and Chancel Screen given by Sir William and Lady Cain. The names of the fallen would be carved on the panels of the screen. But this was an individual gift and several people had expressed a wish to add something more, as a memorial by public subscription. Any such proposal having to do with the fabric of the Parish Church must be submitted to a “Vestry Meeting”.

A Vestry Meeting had decided that the East End of the South Aisle should be reserved as a Place of Memorial and the walls had therefore been left free from individual tablets. The consulting architect, Sir Charles Nicholson, had considered that if this proposal was eventually adopted the best [plan would be to erect a screen, in harmony with the Chancel Screen, and to panel the walls in oak. It would be possible to preserve a record of the names of all who had served, together with biographical particulars of the fallen, in a book, after the fashion of a chained bible, on a Lectern inside the screen. Sir Charles Nicholson’s sketch design was exhibited in the Hall.

After some discussion it was proposed that a Committee be appointed to consider the best form of Peace Memorial outside the Church and to report. The following gentlemen were elected on the Committee with power to add to their number:- Messrs. R. Sharp, H. A. Hunt, T. H. Barley, F. Headington, A. B. Booth, W. Sansom, J. Richardson, J. Hodge, Major Howard Jones, Col. C. Nicholl, Major K. Nicholl, and Dr. McCrea.

Another Parish Meeting will be summoned in due course to receive the report of this Committee.

It is no doubt a good thing to leave the question of any Memorial inside the Church to a Vestry Meeting. A Vestry is an equally public Meeting, but it is summoned by the Vicar and Churchwardens and is technically qualified to apply to the Chancellor of the Diocese for het legal ‘faculty,’ which gives permission to proceed with the work. A Parish Meeting summoned by the Parish Council is not thus qualified and could only make a recommendation to a Vestry.

The German Gun

The next question was that of the German Gun. A resolution asking the Parish Council to accept the trophy was lost by a considerable majority.


Wargrave parish magazine, October and November 1919 (D/P145/28A/31)

A German rifle

War trophies were handed out.

September 17th 1919

A German rifle has been presented to the school by the Parish Council, who have received some six for distribution.

Bradfield CE School log book (D/P22/28/2, p. 227)

“The last time I saw Sturdee was at the Falkland Islands”!

The American Commander in Chief, General John Pershing, British Admiral Doveton Sturdee and General William Birdwood were all granted honorary degrees from Cambridge after the war.

29 Barton Road
27 July ‘19

My very dear Smu

[Visiting Southwold, Suffolk] On Thursday 10th there came, with their crews, 2 armoured cars, which had been serving in Russia: and in the photographs sold in the shops next day, we recognised unmistakeably Mr and Mrs Image.

I see that I’ve only left a few inches to describe the Honorary Degrees on Wednesday 23rd – so I’ll enclose the paper I found on my seat. The figure I was most anxious to see was Admiral Sturdee. He looked like a Dean or an Archdeacon – an ecclesiastic of high degree. Just in front of me was a naval Lieutenant in uniform (with a pretty young wife) – so I appealed to him. He gave me all information quite simply – and as we rose to go, and watched Sturdee leave the Senate House, he said, “the last time I saw Sturdee was at the Falkland Islands”!! I was delighted to see a fellow who had been in that fight.

Pershing looked capable of sternness.

The u.g.s (who were all in their khaki) chaired Birdwood.

Our kindest remembrances to ye both.

Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

A torpedo as a war memorial

A torpedo might have been an interesting choice of war memorial, but it was not allowed.

Report of Highways Committee, 26 April 1919

WAR MEMORIALS

Cookham.

With reference to the application for consent to erect a war memorial at Cookham – referred to in the last report of the Committee – the County Surveyor has since inspected the proposed site, which is the centre of the triangular piece of waste land adjoining the main road from the Moors to Cookham village.

The Committee recommend that no objection be raised to the erection of the memorial on the site suggested.

Pangbourne.

An application has been received from Miss Waddington for permission to erect a War memorial at Pangbourne, in the middle of the Square.

As the erection thereof would cause danger to the traffic, the Committee recommend that such consent be not given.

An application has been received from the Pangbourne Parish Council for permission to place a torpedo (which has been presented to them) on the parapet of the bridge over the River Pang as a War Memorial.

The torpedo being approximately 22 ft in length, 18 in wide, and about 1 ton in weight, the Committee recommend that consent to its erection on the bridge be not given.

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/22)

Interesting curios from the battlefields

Exciting incidents could distract children from their school work.

Sparsholt
1919
Jan 16th

This afternoon Major Pocock [an old boy] gave the children a short address, & exhibited various interesting curios from the battlefields in France.

Boxford
Jan 16th 1919

An aeroplane came down in the village this dinner time, many boys are absent this afternoon owing to the same.

Emmer Green
16th January 1919

Mrs Bartlett was absent from duty this morning on business connected with her husband’s return from ‘Active Service’.

Log books of Sparsholt CE School D/P115/28/47); Boxford CE School log book (C/EL115/2);Emmer Green CE School log book (R/ES8/3

“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)

Horribly mutilated by shell fire

Animals were among the many victims of the war.

Sydney Spencer
Monday 13 May 1918

Got up at 6.50. Breakfast at 7.30. Peyton & I took company along the line to M- M-. Men walked along. I took first tack from 10-12.20. On way there a dead mule lay on track. Neck & chest horribly mutilated by shell fire. Poor beast. Our tool cart mules for a long time refused to pass it! They knew!

It rained from 10 on till 2.30 when we got back to A-n. After lunch I to bed as Pepys would have said. It is now 4.45 pm & I am just going to dress. A very ‘Novembery’ day. Yesterday I found some interesting old bills & receipts, dates 1782 & 3. I sent them to Florence. I hope she gets them.

After tea called down to interview with CO. I had let my men straggle a bit in the mud when coming home. Bad for discipline. After dinner to bed & lay awake reading till about 1.30 when I at last got some sleep. Finished reading Rupert of Hentzau, & this week’s Punch.

Percy Spencer
13 May 1918

A nice dirty day, promising trouble for the Hun tomorrow if he tries his luck against us. Dreamt of Gil last night. Somehow he got down a narrow shaft and I had to haul him out. He was in a pretty bad way.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); and Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

“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)

A permanent memorial of the war

A soldier serving in Palestine sent a gift to the school his children attended.

7th May 1918

One of the nicest and certainly the most valued and unique present received in the name of the school was sent to us from Palestine a week or so ago. It is a wooden bound book containing dried and pressed flowers from the Holy Land. The sender is First Class Warrant Officer Ernest Baker and the book bears the title of blumen aus dem heiligen land [flowers from the Holy Land, in German] being posted on 4. 4. 18. The sender is now on active service in the Holy Land, his children attend our school but he is a perfect stranger never having seen Warfield. The book will be carefully placed in the museum cupboard to be a permanent memorial of the war.

Today I read and explained the royal letter of congratulation from the King and Queen. It is now framed and hung to be read by scholars of future years. On April 30 we had 124 members on our war savings association and we have purchased 386 certificates.

Warfield CE School log book (C/EL26/3, p. 395)

“We all had to doss down in the Officers’ Mess bivy as thick as sardines”

Sydney was now out of the trenches again, but found himself in sub-standard accommodation.

Sydney Spencer
Monday 6 May 1918

Although we all had to doss down in the Officers’ Mess bivy as thick as sardines, I got a good night’s sleep & got up at 8 am. It has been a glorious day throughout, warm, sunny & really like May weather. We did little all day except clean up after our four days in the trenches. At noon the Div[ision] General came round our line. He had a few things to say but seemed quite pleasant.

After lunch got my shave which I needed so badly, & then took Sergeant Leigh & section commanders over to shew them their battle positions. Then drew my range chart.

After tea letters came on from Florence. Her letters make landmarks, always welcome when they appear.

Went over my platoon front again, & drew a sketch of main features. Stand to at 8.30. Men dug fire steps or rather dug positions for themselves. Dinner at 9.15.

After dinner beds warm & cosy at first, & then it rained & rained & I look up to find little streams falling on my eyes.

Percy Spencer
6 May 1918

Another wet day. M. le Maire [the local mayor] dined with us & confessed to 4 Hun & 4 British rifles buried as souvenirs.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); and Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

Too exciting to enjoy

Patriotic enthusiasm in Swindon was aroused by the public exhibition of a tank and a flying dispay.

4th May 1918

An ideal day. After dinner I chopped up fire wood for a week then shaved and washed and dressed and with wife and Mur & Marj. went down to the Public Offices. Great crowds there. Wife & I went into the Pub. Off. and each got a W.S.C., then down into the enclosure where the Tank was and had a tank stamp put on it and poked in our heads and looked round it. Not much room for the poor devils who worked them…

After tea I went to Bath Rd reading room, then hearing a lot of flying going on I went down the Town, and was glad I did, for an aviator was giving a most marvellous display of flying at the Town Hall. He seemed capable of doing anything with his machine. Looping the loop and flying down under the telephone wires and round the clock and coming up over the roof and round the corners enough to frighten one to death. Expected him to come a crash on the ground or into the walls every minute. It was too exciting to enjoy it. Men like this I should think too valuable to risk losing.

I heard 120,000£ has been invested this week in Swindon in the War Loan.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

A right little, tight little house with sandbag entrance steps and a strong sense of security

Percy Spencer told his sister Florence al about the cosy way he and a comrade had improved his current trench.

1.ii.18

Dear WF

Well, how are domestic affairs going?

We’re getting on quite well. Little by little we’re improving our “home”. Having been well strafed the other day, the map expert and I set to work to build a wall of sandbags at our end of the dugout. It’s now a right little, tight little house with sandbag entrance steps and a strong sense of security. Also we’ve got wooden gratings laid in the trenches, so we’re not so much in the mud as we were, and our home is greatly improved. You’d be surprised how each day “we” (that’s my brainy map expert assistant) make little improvements in ways and means. Now we each have a board bed off the ground, & a canvas bucket wash has taken the place of a teacup wash – by the way what would they say at home if I arose, cleaned my teeth, shaved, washed and breakfasted all from the same tin mug you sent me? But as I say, we’re gradually changing all that for the better. We took over a dirty untidy dugout open to the wind and the weather: we shall hand over a tidy, weather proof and shell proof residence, and I’m glad we shan’t hand it over to the people who left us such a miserable legacy. The best souvenir we found when digging to level the earth was a German officer’s revolver loaded in two chambers, one bullet having been bored at the top to make it a dum-dum. I wish I could have kept it and sent it you.

I’ve just been arranging a mouse trap on the tip cat system. We’ve made a beauty and the map expert with a bloodthirsty glint in his eye is toasting some cheese in the candle.
[Censored]

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/93)

A dead German’s Iron Cross

A soldier brought a poignant souvenir home – the medal won by a now-fallen adversary.

7th January 1918
I saw 2 curiosities to-day. Young Cox from Stanford in the Vale shewed me a 5£ piece and I was also shewn an Iron Cross a Swindon fellow had brought home from France which he took off a dead German.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)