Successful war savings in Mortimer West End

Children at Mortimer West End were contributing to the war effort.

West End – War Savings

The school children have started a War Savings Association and we are glad to hear from Miss Phipps, who is doing all the work in connection with it, that it is proving very successful

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, May1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

Truly Mortimer has done well, and the workers have earned the handsome official War Worker badge

The Stratfield Mortimer women were particularly industrious, producing almost three times as many bandages and clothing for the troops as every other village in Bradfield Poor Law Union combined!

The War-Working Party

Some account of this important piece of the parish’s activity has been long overdue. Workers have been numerous and diligent, much being done at home in addition to what is accomplished at the meetings. Mrs. Alfred Palmer, as organiser, has been indefatigable; and the tedious work of much cutting out has been in the capable hands of Mrs. Thatcher, Mrs. Charles Thorp, and Miss Illman.

The grand total of articles made from Dec. 1915 to Mar. 1917 is as follows:- Shirts, 109; bed-jackets, 188; mufflers, 117; Helmets, 46; pairs of socks, 146; pairs of bed socks, 42; pairs of mittens, 281; bandages of various sorts, 785; total 1,714.

This noble total gains its real significance when it is added that the number of articles made in all the villages in the Bradfield Union during the first 12 months was only 6,459. Truly Mortimer has done well, and the workers have earned the handsome official W.W. badge which has been granted to many of them.

And now about funds. More than £50 has been received and spent up to last Xmas. Some £30 or £40 more is needed, and quickly too: material, and especially the flannel material, which is a necessity, is now so dear. Are there any who are unable to come and work, who can yet give – to the encouragement of the actual workers? Gifts, large or small, would be welcomed by Mrs. Roalfe Cox who is Hon. Treasurer. The committee is about to discuss methods of getting more money, as unless this can be speedily provided it may be necessary to cease even giving out work after the end of this month.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, April 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

Worse cases than we have hitherto had will be sent to Mortimer

Some of the costs of the many voluntary hospitals which were treating wounded soldiers had to be met locally.

V.A.D. Hospital

This hospital was opened on October 24th, 1914, and became an Auxiliary Hospital attached to the 3rd Southern General Hospital at Oxford. On April 1st this year it was transferred to the No. 1 War Hospital at Reading. The following letter was received from Colonel Ranking:-

“To the Commandant V.A.D. Hospital, Mortimer, 30/3/17. Dear Miss Wyld. I have the honour to inform you that V.A.D. Hospital, Mortimer, will be transferred from this command to the War Hospital, Reading, on 1st April next. In relinquishing control of the above Hospital I wish to convey to yourself, the Medical Officer and Staff my very sincere thanks for the assistance rendered to me by the able and efficient manner in which the work of the Hospital has been carried out while in this command, and my best wishes for a successful future.
Yours sincerely, George Ranking, Lt.-Col. Administrator 3rd S.G. Hospital.”

At the request of Colonel Maurice, Administrator No. 1 War Hospital, Reading, the number of beds has been increased from 18 to 28, and in all probability worse cases than we have hitherto had will be sent. I should like to take this opportunity of thanking very heartily all the many kind friends who have generously helped in the past, both with money and other gifts. Any further help will be most gratefully accepted, for while the prices of everything are so enormously increased, the Government allowance of 3/- per diem per man remains the same, and it is not intended or expected that this allowance should cover all expenses in such Hospitals. Last year the expenses worked out at 4/7 per head. This was rather high, but for a long time we had very few patients and then the cost comes very heavy. The accounts are made up to December 31st, audited and sent through the Red Cross Committee to the War Office.

F. M. Wyld, Commandant.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

Excellent war pictures

People in Mortimer attended an illustrated lecture on various fronts of the war.

War Pictures
On Mar. 12th S. John’s Hall was crammed from end to end with a responsive audience for Colonel Lynden-Bell’s lecture on the Somme, Russian, and Mesopotamia fronts. The pictures were excellent, the lecturer most interesting: the only flaw was the failure of the supply of hydrogen at about half time. But the lecturer has kindly offered to come again and finish his programme. £4 15s. 6d. was given at the door – for the Russian Red Cross. It was a pleasure to have Colonel W. P. Nash in the chair.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, April 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

“A splendid witness to the determined spirit and confidence of the country”

Stratfield Mortimer pried itself on generosity investing in War Loans.

War Loan
Owing to the efforts of one or two patriotic capitalists, and the assistance provided by some kind canvassers, it is estimated that our little village contributed, in small sums, well over £300 to the great War Loan, which has been such a splendid witness to the determined spirit and confidence of the country.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

War charities registered

The County Council’s War Charities Sub-committee had been busy registering local war charities, ranging from bandage making to Christmas gifts for the armed forces.

REGISTRATIONS

Since the last report to the Council the following applications for registration under the War Charities Act, 1916, have been approved, and the Clerk has been instructed to issue certificates and to notify the Charity Commissioners:

No of Cert. Name of Charity Applicant

21 Bracknell War Work Depot (Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild) Mrs Littlewood, Hillside, Bracknell

22 Hanney Xmas Tree Fund for men serving HM Forces H. Leslie Edwards, schoolmaster, Hanney

23 Bracknell Xmas Parcels Fund Canon H. Barnett, Bracknell Vicarage

24 Bradfield District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society C J Haviland, Mead House, Bradfield

25 Bracknell Oaklea Auxiliary Hospital Mrs L A Berwick, Sunny Rise, Bracknell

26 Crowthorne Waste Paper Collection of War Charities Miss H M M Moody, Ferndene, Crowthorne

27 Wargrave Woodclyffe Auxiliary Hospital W. Ryder, The Little House, Wargrave

28 Wokingham Work Guild Mrs H M Lomax, Frog Hall, Wokingham

29 South Easthampstead District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society Miss E Monck, Aldworth, Crowthorne

30 Heatherside Auxiliary Military Hospital Miss E Monck, Aldworth, Crowthorne

31 Finchampstead Belgian Refugees S F Smithson, The Old Rectory, Finchampstead

32 Maidenhead Rural North Branch of British Red Cross Society Mrs Carpendale, Pinkneys Green

33 Hungerford Sailors and Soldiers Xmas Parcel Fund E C Townshend, Willows Close, Hungerford

34 Finchampstead Hospital Supply Depot Miss L M Hopkinson, Wyse Hill, Finchampstead

35 Bourton War Hospital Supply Depot Mrs W H Ames, Church Farm House, Bourton

36 Hungerford District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society A S Gladstone, JP, Wallingtons, Hungerford

37 The VAD Red Cross Hospital, Hungerford A S Gladstone, JP, Wallingtons, Hungerford

38 The VAD Red Cross Hospital, Barton Court, Kintbury A S Gladstone, JP, Wallingtons, Hungerford

39 Twyford and Ruscombe War Committee Rev. R W H Acworth, Twyford Vicarage

40 Sonning and Woodley Surgical Requisites Association Mrs C Christie Miller, The Deanery, Sonning

41 Mortimer VAD Hospital Miss F M Wyld, Highbury, Mortimer

42 Waltham St Lawrence Prisoners of War Fund Claude M Warren, Old School House, Shurlock Row

43 Wokingham South Rural District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society Mrs A M Western, The Coppice, Finchamapstead

44 Registered in error – subsequently cancelled

45 Ascot Military Hospital Miss Nora Collie, Ascot Military Hospital

46 Wantage District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society Miss Gertrude Elliott, Ginge Manor, Wantage

47 Binfield Popeswood Auxiliary Hospital Henry E A Wiggett, White Lodge, Binfield

48 Spencers Wood Local Red Cross Fund Rev. F T Lewarne, Spencers Wood, Reading

49 Faringdon District of Berkshire Branch of British Red Cross Society Henry Procter, Gravel Walk, Faringdon

EXEMPTION CERTIFICATES (to 7 January, 1917, only)

2 Burghfield Sailors and Soldiers Xmas Parcel Fund H G Willink, JP, Hillfields, Burghfield

3 East Challow Xmas Presents Concert Fund Miss E B Vince, Manor Farm, East Challow

4 Kintbury Xmas Presents Fund Mrs Alice G Mahon, Barton Holt, Kintbury

Report of War Charities Sub-committee of BCC, 20 January 1917 C/CL/C1/1/20)

Cheering details from the front

An evening for soldiers’ loved ones in Stratfield Mortimer was a positive occasion.

The War Supper

We call it this for want of a better title. For the third year Mr. and Mrs. Wallis most kindly entertained the fathers and mothers and wives of all the men of the Parish now serving in H.M. Forces. The event took place at the Parish Room, on January 3rd and, happily, there was just room to get everyone in, though the numbers have increased each year.

After a splendid supper the toast of the King was proposed by Mr. Wallis together with that of his Forces, after which the Vicar proposed the toast of our host and hostess and expressed the thanks of the company for the enjoyable evening. For the entertainment that followed, Mr. Wallis’ relations from Basingstoke are responsible, and one can only say that it would be difficult to get together any company which could have given more pleasure. Want of space forbids a description of all the items which formed a programme full of attraction, and it must suffice to say that most of us are seldom privileged to hear such first-class singing as we heard that night.

During a short interval Captain Wallis, who had arrived from France that morning, gave us some cheering details about the state of things at the Front.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, February 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

The bravest man in the trenches

Many of the former pupils of Reading School were serving with distinction.

O.R. NEWS.

Military Cross

Temp. 2nd Lieut. F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berks Regiment.- For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy twice attacked under cover of liquid fire, 2nd Lieut. Edwards showed great pluck under most trying circumstances and held off the enemy. He was badly wounded in the head while constructing a barricade within twenty-five yards of the enemy.

2nd Lieut. (Temp. Lieut.) W/C. Costin, Gloucester Regiment. – For conspicuous gallantry during operations. When the enemy penetrated our front line he pushed forward to a point where he was much exposed, and directed an accurate fire on the trench with his trench guns. It was largely due to his skill and courage that we recaptured the trench. An Old Boy of Reading School, he won a scholarship at St. John’s College. Oxford.

2nd Lieut. D.F.Cowan.

Killed in Action.

Lieut. Hubert Charles Loder Minchin, Indian Infantry, was the eldest of three sons of the late Lieut-Col. Hugh Minchin, Indian Army, who followed their father into that branch of the service, and of whom the youngest was wounded in France in May, 1915. Lieutenant Minchin, who was 23 years old, was educated at Bath College, Reading School, and Sandhurst. After a probationary year with the Royal Sussex Regiment, he was posted to the 125th (Napier’s) Rifles, then at Mhow, with whom he served in the trenches.

After the engagement at Givenchy on December 20th, 1914, he was reported missing. Sometime later an Indian Officer, on returning to duty from hospital, reported that he had seen Lieut. Minchin struck in the neck, and killed instantly, when in the act of personally discharging a machine-gun against the enemy. The Indian officer has now notified that he must be believed to have fallen on that day.
2nd lieut.

F.A.L. Edwards, Royal Berkshire Regiment, awarded the military cross, died of wounds on August 10th. He was 23 years of age, and the youngest son of the late Capt. H.H. Edwards, Royal Navy, and Mrs. Edwards, of Broadlands, Cholsey. He was educated at Reading School and the City and Guilds College, Kensington. He had been on active service 10 months. His Adjutant wrote:

“He was the bravest man in the trenches. All the men say he was simply wonderful on the morning of August 8th. We lost a very gallant soldier and a very lovable man.”

(more…)

The wounded keep pouring down from the front

The latest news from the Revd W S Bowdon, an army chaplain, saw him based at a hospital well back from the front line.

Rev. W. S. Bowdon, C.F. – The most recent news from Mr. Bowdon includes the following:-

No. 1 General Hospital,
Etretat – Havre Base.

I have left the front and come to work at this base where nothing very exciting ever happens. At a base there is regular work every day, and at a time like the present when the wounded keep pouring down from the front the work is endless. Also to my mind the opportunities are greater and results more satisfactory.

Since my arrival here we have had about a trainload of wounded per week, i.e., some 400 men, half of whom are generally stretcher cases. Such a supply keeps everyone as hard at it as it is possible to be. While the ‘great push’ continues so, I suppose, will this state of things, but when winter begins we hope to be rather freer and to get more time to ourselves.

We have some 1000 beds here. Once, I believe, they had over 1200 cases in the hospital, but we have not had more than 600 cases at once since I arrived. There are four building for men and one for officers. We occupy nearly all the hotels and a good many private houses besides; but it is a small place and very compact, so not difficult to work.

Besides the hospital here I also have 600 men working at the docks at Fécamp to look after. So have to run over there periodically for services and Bible classes, and as it is ten miles away it is difficult to fit things in. Havre is 20 miles in the other direction.

With all best wishes to friends at Mortimer.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P120/28A/14)

“There is a consolation in knowing that he did his duty fearlessly”

One man after another from Stratfield Mortimer was reported dead or missing. The toll was beginning to tell.

Garth Club

We have received with the greatest possible regret the news of the death of yet another member on the Field of Honour. When war broke out many members volunteered, and have been serving in most of the fighting zones, – in the Persian Gulf, in Egypt, at the Dardanelles, and Salonica, whilst a number have been in France in the thick of the fighting.

The first to give his life was Frank Goodchild, Pte., R.M.L.I. (enlisted 1913), who went down in the H.M.S. “Good Hope” when she was sunk in action off the Chilian Coast, November, 1914. He took a prominent part in all Club doings and entertainments, and was a general favourite – “one of the best,” and greatly missed.

Next came the sad news that Lance-Corp. Chas. Wickens, who joined on the 11th August, and was drafted to France in the 1st R. Berks the following November, was reported missing on the 15th-17th May, 1915. And it is since believed that he was amongst those killed at Festubert or Richebourg. In the long period of uncertainty the greatest sympathy has been felt with his family and his many friends. He earned his stripe very early in his training, and was a most promising young soldier.

Swiftly came the news of the death of Sidney Raggett, Pte. In the R. Montreal Regt., who also joined in August, 1914, and after three months in Canada came home to complete his training on Salisbury Plain. He went out in February, 1915, was wounded in April, but returned to his duty in May, and on the 21st was killed by a stray shot at Richebourg. His Sergeant wrote of him, “I was awfully sorry he was hit, as he was one of the best boys I had,” and Major-General Sir Sam Hughes, in a letter of condolence to his mother, says, “…there is a consolation in knowing that he did his duty fearlessly and well, and gave his life for the cause of liberty and the upbuilding of the Empire.”

Another period of anxiety has been the lot of Harry Steele’s family and of his wide circle of friends and chums. He, too, felt directly war broke out that it was his duty to join, and he and a friend enlisted in the 10th Hants, and had a long training in Ireland and England. He went in July to Gallipoli, and was in the great charge on the 20th-21st August. He was reported missing, and after many anxious months there seems a sad probability that he may have fallen in that heroic effort. But no details are as yet known. He was a regular and loyal member of the Choir and of St. Mary’s Bellringers, and will be long remembered in the village for his clever impersonation of Harry Lauder, and for his realistic acting at the Club entertainments.

Associated with him, and one of his close chums, was Pte. W. G. Neville, whose death we now mourn. He enlisted in the Hants Regt., and went out early in this year. After a long period of suspense, the War Office have now announced, with the usual message of condolence, and also one of sympathy from the King and Queen, that it is feared he was killed in the great advance on the 1st July last. He was a regular bellringer at St. Mary’s, and he also took a keen interest and a leading part in all Club affairs, and his topical songs and really clever acting were always enthusiastically received at our concerts. He, too, will be most affectionately remembered and greatly missed by his many friends.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P120/28A/14)

Blinded soldiers turn to chicken rearing

Berkshire County Council and its committees dealt with several war related matters. One was the registration of the multitude of independent war charities which had sprung up.

Report of School Management Sub-committee, 14 October 1916

HEAD TEACHERS AND MILITARY SERVICE

The following Head Teachers have rejoined the Army since the last meeting: Mr Mills (Childrey), Mr Hunt (Cold Ash), Mr Bird (Priestwood), Mr Andrews (Mortimer St Mary’s) and Mr Verrall (Brimpton). Their places have been filled temporarily by the appointment of the Certificated Assistant (Woman) of their respective schools, or by the transfer of a teacher from another school.

Report of Smallholdings and Allotments Committee, 14 October 1916

COTTAGES AND LAND FOR BLINDED SOLDIERS, &C, FOR POULTRY FARMING

Enquiries were made on behalf of the Blinded Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Hostel, St Dunstan’s, as to whether any assistance could be given in finding locations near Reading for Blinded Soldiers who have been taught chicken rearing. They require a cottage and about an acre of ground at a rent not exceeding £30 per annum.

The agents in the Reading district were asked if they had any suitable properties available, but from the replies received it appeared that no suitable places were available for renting, and only three or four were put forward for sale.

It was stated by St Dunstan’s that at present only leasing could be considered.

Report of the War Charities Committee, 14 October 1916

The following applications for registration under the War Charities Act, 1916, have not been approved, and the Clerk instructed to issue certificates and to notify the Charity Commissioners: (more…)

A great granite cross “would be something fresh”

Virtually every British village has its memorial to the fallen of World War I, often dominating the churchyard, and it can be hard to imagine the scene without them. But of course none was there during the war itself.

A Parish Memorial

It has been suggested by the family of one of those who have fallen that when the time comes to consider the erection of a permanent memorial to the courage and self-devotion of those whom we shall all wish to commemorate, it could take no better form than a wayside cross. The suggestion is an attractive one, and well worth thinking over. It chimes in with what people everywhere are thinking about at this time – how to bring the cross (that is our holy religion) out into the open everyday life of every village. There are plenty of crosses within the churchyard. An additional one there would scarcely make any appeal. But a great granite cross, set high up upon steps, and with a slab recording in leaded letters the names of those in whose honoured memory it is erected, would be something fresh, and could not fail to strike the imagination.

The original suggestion was that this might stand at the turning leading to the Parish Church. Clearly however there would not be room for it there. But on the green triangle opposite to S. John’s it would find a fitting position. Permission would, no doubt, have to be obtained for its erection there. But one cannot imagine that that would present serious difficulty. The idea is, at least, well worth thinking about.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, October 1916 (D/P120/28A/14)

Our hearts go out in sorrowful sympathy to the families of the dead

More Berkshire men had fallen in the summer’s fierce fighting, including the father of a baby girl.

The War

We have to record three more deaths in France since the big advance began.

Mr. and Mrs. George Hunt had heard indirectly that their son George, affectionately known as Sammy, had been badly wounded on July 1st, but it was not until a month later that official news came from the War Office to say that he had died of his wounds two days after receiving them. We deeply sympathise with Mr. and Mrs. Hunt, and also with the widow, who has a little daughter whom the father never saw.

Percy and Sidney Eatwell are also among those killed. They figure on our Roll of Honour because they are in the civil, though not the ecclesiastical, parish of West End. To their relations and friends too our hearts go out in sorrowful sympathy.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, September 1916 (D/P120/28A/14)

“To the last he was doing his duty, and he practically lost his life by his last unselfish and heroic act”

Two Mortimer West End families faced the loss of bereavement. One man died heroically saving a comrade in arms:

West End

It is with a keen feeling of sympathy for the parents that we record two more deaths in the war this month. On May 25th there died in France Corporal John Collis, 1st Batt. Royal Berks Regt. One of the officers of his battalion sends the following account:-

“Being in the Company to which I am attached, I knew Corporal Collis well, and I can assure you he will be greatly missed. He was a first-rate soldier and died bravely. He was wounded and had started to go back to be dressed when one of his comrades was shot, and Corporal Collis immediately went back and bound the other man up. It was while doing this that he was again hit, and this time seriously. We were able to get him away at once and he got back to the hospital, but died shortly afterwards…

He was a fine soldier, and he was beloved and respected here… To the last he was doing his duty, and he practically lost his life by his last unselfish and heroic act when, although badly wounded himself, he went back to bind up a fellow comrade.”

In the Naval Battle in the North Sea on May 31st, Frederick Penny, R.M.L.I. [Royal Marines Light Infantry], went down on the Black Prince.

We are expressing the feelings of everyone in the parish when we say we are proud of these two men and proud to think that their parents have so worthily upheld the example of the country’s other bereaved parents in counting it an honour to have been called upon to give their best for their Country. At the same time we give them our deep sympathy, and pray that John Collis and Frederick Penny may be granted “a place of refreshment, light, and peace” and receive a merciful judgment at the Last Day.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, July 1916 (D/P120/28A/14)

The first “to go over”

An army chaplain with links to Stratfield Mortimer was a witness to the horrific carnage of the Battle of the Somme.

Mr. Bowdon’s latest news is as follows: –

2nd Royal Berks, B.E.F.,
17th July 1916.

Dear Vicar,

Much has happened since last I wrote, and my battalions have been through a terrible time. They were with the first “to go over” on July 1st, at the Battle of the Somme, and got badly cut up. We lost more than half the men and nearly all the officers – in my battalions alone some 800 men and N.C.O.s are killed, missing, or wounded, and 38 officers! We got the full force of their concentrated machine gun fire. However, it wasn’t in vain, for we prepared a way for others, and we now hold all the ground which they contested so stubbornly. We had the Wurttenburghers in front of us, and there is no question they are fine soldiers and know their business.

It was all very sharp and short, and in 36 hours we were right out of it and miles away in the rear to re-form and rest. From my perch on a hillside about three miles from the firing line I watched the whole of the bombardment during the week preceding the battle. I could even see our lines as I lay in bed – but the morning of the attack was so misty no glasses could penetrate the clouds, and we could only listen to the din and wonder how things were going. It wasn’t long however before our poor wounded chaps began to stream along the road, some in ambulances, some in lorries and carts, and many on foot; so by 9 a.m. I was busy (the attack was at 7.30), and as the day advanced there were more that [sic] we could cope with, our wards and tents were full, and men were lying everywhere, in the streets and fields and ditches. But they were all splendid and so grateful for the smallest thing we did for them. We did eventually get them all dressed and fed and more or less comfortable, but not till noon next day could anyone slack off. I reckon some 1,500 men passed through our hands at that one Field Ambulance!

That same evening we were on the move again, and I re-joined the remnant of my two battalions to entrain for the rear.

Yesterday I arranged and conducted a Brigade Memorial Service at the Theatre here. The names of all officers and men killed at the Battle of the Somme were read out and prayers offered for them. The whole service was in keeping, but quite bright and joyous. We had the Divisional Band, and the Assistant Chaplain General 1st Army preached. Besides our own General, the Army Commander and his Staff were present, and Prince Arthur of Connaught.

I have had a fair share of the dangers and risks of war these past weeks. Four times during the bombardment about Albert I had to tumble into my dugout to escape the bursting shells – three times about 2 a.m. in the darkness, cold and wet. One day I spent with the guns in the thick of the firing, and even back with the Field Ambulance they didn’t let us alone. It has been a great relief to be away from the noise and out of range of their guns for a spell.

With kindest remembrances to all friends at Mortimer.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, August 1916 (D/P120/28A/14)