10 miles behind the German lines, with no hope of rescue

A small Sulhamstead church would have an organ as a war memorial.

We are very thankful to hear that our two prisoners of war have returned safe. Sergeant George Steel, MM, has been a prisoner of war since May 1918. It will be remembered that it was at first reported that he had been killed. Private Ernest Adams was made prisoner in March 1918. His company was left 10 miles, or so, behind the German front line after their sudden sweeping advance in that month, and defended themselves there for many hours without any hope of rescue.

Lieutenant Colonel Greenley, DSO, Royal Army Service Corps, whose marriage is reported in this number, has been further distinguished by the conferment by His Majesty of the Companionship of St Michael and St George.

Major Gilbert Shepherd, RE, DSO, Chevalier Croix de Guerre, has been promoted to Brevet-Major.

AN ORGAN FOR ST MICHAEL’S CHURCH

Mrs Tyser has most generously promised to give an organ for St Michael’s Church in memory of Major George B Tyser, East Lancashire Regiment, son of Mr and Mrs Tyser of Oakfield, who was killed almost instantaneously on July 6th, 1916. He was last seen in the act of encouraging his men across to the enemy trenches in one of the brilliant assaults that we were then making.

Mr J Price, Wilts Regiment, has received his commission as Second Lieutenant, on discharge from the Army. We congratulate him and his family on the well-merited promotion. His brother, Mr Stanley Price, has received a similar promotion. He has been gazetted Second Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, and is now engaged in instruction work. He, too, receives our best congratulations.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, February 1919 (D/EX725/4)

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“One of the most hopeless specimens of mankind I have ever come across” offers an answer to U-boats

Gustav Stichl, alias Steel, was a German wool merchant from Hamburg, aged 48 on internment in 1916. He was clearly very disaffected, and the Governor of Reading Prison, or Place of Internment, was annoyed by his complaints of ill treatment. Another internee, Belgian Charles Slingeneyer or Slingermeyer, was an engineer from Bruges, aged 36 when interned in 1916. He was classified as ‘alien, not enemy’, and was trying to support the war effort with his ingenious invention, but remained at Reading Prison until 1919.

9th February 1918
G Stichl

As regards this prisoner’s petition, I have no knowledge of his treatment before he came to Reading – but during the time he has been here every consideration has been shown to him not only by the officers but by the other prisoners.

He is a dirty, untidy and idle man. To my knowledge prisoners have cleaned up his cell for him on many occasions to avoid him being reported – and also because the smell was most offensive.
He has been offered every kind of work time after time, but refused all. The trade instructor by my orders has tried him 4 or 5 times at bags – he only spoils canvas. He refused cleaner’s work, and the only work he has attempted is unravelling some socks & balling the wool which he started a few days ago & which I gave him out of charity – but he won’t work full time even at that & earn the money he could, as after the Prisoners of War were removed to isle of Man, all men were located in one hall – this man considered it a grievance that he had to remove his furniture etc to his new cell & to assist other men in cleaning up the wing. The only one who [grumbled?].

As regards his teeth, his wife offered to pay half the regular charges if prisoner would work & earn the other half – he refused & did nothing. He is one of the most hopeless specimens of mankind I have ever come across and most of his troubles are of his own making. He has never been punished while here – simply because he is so hopeless & helpless – except by having his petitions stopped for a time by order of the Home Office.

C M Morgan
Gov.
9.2.18

February 9th 1918
Sir,

I beg of you to consider the following rough description of a device for dealing with U-boats.

Allow me to explain first on what grounds I based this device.
A Submarine is a very difficult thing to deal with, because:
1st It is always difficult to ascertain the presence of submarines without using detectors. (Without knowing how far the detectors in use are able to discover submarines I humbly remark here that if I had been able to work out my detector referred to in my letter to you on 4th of December 1916, I am almost certain that I would have had the means of not only detecting them but of “spotting” them also. Anyhow a detector, so constructed that by taking for instance the [main?] length for calculating the distance and the strength of sound for giving the direction, would enable vessels to keep out of the way in most cases.)

2nd A submarine is almost or wholly invisible to the vessel she intends to attack.

3rd Minefields are no barrier to submarines.

4th If a submarine is provided with a detector her commander must not fear to come to the surface and is guarded against unexpected attacks.

5th When destroyers or submarine chasers approach a submarine can dive and evade also her enemy.

Those five points are already enough to convince me that the best and surest way for dealing with submarines would be under the water, because it is the only way in which she cannot escape destruction, being caught unawares.

My device therefore would consist of a floating peculiar shaped nutlike structure, which lower part would reach the depth at which a submarine can safely remain under water, so as to prevent her from going under it or passing over it.

Floating body to be made out of mat[erial?] as invisible as possible from the surface.

Special mines to be attached to the aforesaid structure in such a way that, in the case of a submarine striking the structure they would without fail destroy her.

If this device were tried one would have the means of laying minefields against submarines as well as one has minefields against other vessels and the now dangerous zones could be well protected without loss of life or danger and operations by submarines as for instance at present in the Irish Channel could be made impossible.
If laid near a submarine base I am convinced that very few of them, if any at all, would pass through.

Nothing whatever will happen to any surface vessel on striking this structure.

Willing to answer any questions and to give all further necessary information on this subject if required, I remain, Sir,

Your humble servant
Charles Slingeneyer

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Intelligence is being exploited more now

A former War Office/Intelligence colleague wrote to Ralph with more behind-the-scenes gossip after the complete reorganisation of British Intelligence.

February 11
War Office
Whitehall
SW

My dear Glyn

Just got your letter dated 2nd Jan, but I think you wrote it 2nd Feb probably! Sorry I missed you in my travels to the Near East with Lord K. They told me you had been “chased away” from Medforce! Your “position finder” system has been used to great advantage not only for fixed WT Stds, but for other “floating aerial bodies”. You will I am sure be glad to hear it has been of such use – only keep to yourself the fact that it has been so useful. Gen Callwell arrived back February 7th from Russia & is now in France – probably going back to Russia in a week or two, he was as you say the most charming of chiefs to serve under, & I miss him very much. He & Wyman were both decorated with “Stanislav’s [instant?] swords” – there is now a real liaison business between the CIGS and Chantilly – Sidney Clive and [Birthie?] de Sauvigny go backwards & forwards every 10 days & there is always one of them here & one at Chantilly working with us so that we each know now what the other is doing. It works well.

Gillman came in to see me today. You would hardly know your way about here now – there have been so many changes. MI2C is very much changed and is a very busy spot with even a lady clerk as assistant to Mr Baker. Cox from GHQ is the 2nd Grade [illegible]. [Fryam?] – Joyce (from British [Arucan?]) – Crichton who was in your regiment – and a youth coming over from France to join the subsection. We have shipped old man Perry off to Salonica. I could not do with his squeaky boots any longer and we thought he would like a change! He is delighted to go. Then I have a section now on the 2nd floor under Steel – which includes Persia, Afghanistan, India, Senussi etc – and the Balkans live in the room next to Thorp & are under him.

Amery is really the head of the Balkan sub-section and Skeff-Smyth works with Steel. It is of course good for the Germans to know that we are going to march up to Vienna through the Balkans! You forgot this in criticizing the “ops” – ! I am having “German forces in the field” sent to Tyrrell & a “Boche” order of battle. Colin Mackenzie has just left here to take charge of a Division again & Bird is DSO. Maurice as you know is DMO & Macdonogh DMC. We still have lots of work but the intelligence part of the show is I hope being exploited a little more than before. Best of luck & kindest regards from my wife.

Yrs ever
Bazil Brierly


Letter from Bazil Brierly to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/6)

Happy relations with our Belgian guests

The people of Theale had undertaken to support a Belgian family living in the village.

THEALE BELGIAN RELIEF FUND
A meeting of the subscribers to this Fund was held in the Parish Room on July 6th, at which the Rector, president of the Committee, was in the chair, and there were also on the platform the Rev. F. G. Steel, Vice-President, Mr. D. M. Davies, Hon Secretary, and Mr. A. G. Phillips, Hon. Treasurer. Mr. Phillips presented the Balance Sheet, which showed total receipts of £114 10s. 10s., and an expenditure of £94 18s. 9d., leaving a balance of £19 12s. 1d., which it was decided to allot as follows:

£5 for the benefit, at the discretion of the Committee, of the Belgian family still in our village. £5 to the Belgian National Relief Fund. £5 to the French Relief Fund, and the balance of £4 12s. 1d. to the Berks County Red Cross Society.

The Rector congratulated the parish on the large sum raised, on our happy relations with our Belgian guests and on the harmonious working of the Committee and to the ladies who had done such good work. We are happy to hear that Monsieur and Madame Rémonchamps have obtained satisfactory positions in London, and that the rest of our guests in Devonshire House, where they lived for seven months, are well provided for.

Theale parish magazine, August 1915 (D/P132B/28A/4)

A home for ‘better class’ Belgians in Theale

On 26 October a public meeting was held in Theale to discuss the problem of the Belgian refugees in the area:

Belgian Refugees
A Public Meeting Of Parishioners & Neighbours of Theale, will be held in the Parish Room, On Monday, October 26th, 1914 At 7 p.m.

I. To discuss the suggestion of providing a Home in Theale for a Belgian family.
II. If adopted, to appoint Committees to raise a fund, and make the necessary arrangements.

Signed –
Stuart C. F. Angel-Smith, Rector.
F. G. Steel, Congregational Minister.
D. H. Davies, Chairman of Theale Parish Council.

The parish magazine subsequently reported on the decision made to provide free housing for a family of Belgians (of the better class only).

BELGIAN REFUGEES.
A well-attended and business-like meeting was held in the Parish Room on Monday, October 26th. The Rector presided and opened the Meeting with Prayer. In his introductory remarks the Chairman said that we in Theale wanted to take a part, however small, in discharging the debt that England and France especially owed to Belgium and her heroic Army. We wished to provide a Home for a party of Belgian Refugees. A house must be provided, rent free, and furnished. Much of the furniture would be lent. We must raise a fund for preliminary expenses, and another fund of weekly contributions for maintenance of the guests. Mr. Herbert Blatch, in an interesting and informing speech, thought we should do well to choose a party of better-class Belgians. Te Rev. F. G. Steel proposed a resolution pledging the meeting to support the scheme. This was carried unanimously. Mr. D. M. Davies then proposed the names of several ladies and men to form a Committee, with power to add to their number, meanwhile papers were handed to the audience, on which to put down their contributions to the Starting Fund, and weekly maintenance fund. Promises to the first came to £14 3s. 6d., to the second to £1 18s. 0d. The Rector then announced that he had received, through Miss Blatch, the promise of a donation of £5 from her eldest sister, Mrs. Parlett. This generous gift was much appreciated.

The Committee then met for a short time, and the Rector was elected Chairman, the Rev. F. G. Steel, Vice-Chairman, Mr. D. M. Davies, Hon Secretary, and Mr A. C. Phillips, Hon. Treasurer. The question of choosing a house arising, the Chairman proposed that Mr. Herbert Blatch, Mr. Davies and Mr. Cumber for a Sub-Committee to negotiate for an appropriate house. This was passed.

The parish is to be heartily congratulated on the unanimity with which this good work has been inaugurated, and on the generous support given to the first appeal for subscriptions. Many more offers will doubtless come from those not present at the Meeting.

Theale parish magazine, November 1914, and flier (D/P132B/28A/4)