Hot and fly-plagued

A Berkshire army chaplain had news of the war in Italy.

The Italian Front

Mr. Bowdon arrived on the 29th, very well, and very full of Italian news. He has recently been in charge of a British hospital at Taranto in the extreme south, hot and fly-plagued; but hopes to return to the front on the Piave.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, September 1918 (D/P120/28A/14)

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The retreat of the helpless women and children of a whole people across interminable mountains, under inconceivable hardships

A Berkshire audience heard first-hand details of the horrors endured by civilians in the Balkans.

Serbian Relief Fund

In spite of unpropitious weather the meeting at Mortimer Lodge on July 22nd was a great success, a large number of people being present. Miss Parkinson’s able speech was brimful of pathos, as well as thrilling interest. Her account of the retreat of the helpless women and children of a whole people across interminable mountains, under inconceivable hardships, stirred her audience deeply; while her sketch of the conditions of life in Berlin and Vienna, even 18 months ago, made people appreciate how fortunate this country still is. £9 6s. 3d. was given for the Serbian Relief Fund.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, September 1918 (D/P120/28A/14)

“I shall always recollect his energy, his enthusiasm, his fresh, clean cheerfulness and his personal example of bravery”

A Mortimer West End NCO was awarded a medal.

West End

We are very glad to hear that Corporal Francis Penny is recovering from his wounds and offer him out hearty congratulations on winning the Military Medal. His commanding officer writes as follows:-

“I am pleased to be able to intimate that he has been awarded the Military Medal for his gallantry in action during the recent withdrawal and seldom has this medal been more finely won. He has earned it, I know, many times before, and I shall always recollect his energy, his enthusiasm, his fresh, clean cheerfulness and his personal example of bravery, with pleasure and with admiration. The Brigadier-General congratulates him on the honour he has won, and on behalf of the Battery I thank him for the distinction he has brought it.”

This is a letter that the parents may well be proud of and we shall share their pride.

Our fund for the Prisoners of War of the Hants Regt. which was open for a month amounted to £10 3s. 6d.

We deeply regret that Percy Merrick has been officially reported missing since March 21st and at the moment of writing there is no further news of him.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P120/28A/14)

Help our brave sons and brothers who stand between us and our unscrupulous enemy

Mortimer people were chastised for not contributing enough cash to the war effort.

War Savings Association

I am sorry to say that this deserving work of National importance is not receiving from the parishioners the support which it ought to receive.

Although started nearly eight months ago, the number of members is only about 110 – principally school children – and the total subscriptions are less than £100.

In comparison with other villages with similar populations and occupations these figures are lamentably below the average, and it is to be hoped that Mortimer will yet rise to a sense of its responsibilities, and do all in its power to help, by financial assistance, our brave sons and brothers who stand between us and our unscrupulous enemy.

Deposits however small, will be gladly received by the Treasurer, at Springfield, on any Friday evening between 5.30 and 6.30, or at S. Mary’s and S. John’s National Schools at any time during school hours.

War Distinctions

Mrs. Gould was at Oxford presented, by the Major-General in Command, with the Military Medal won by her husband Samuel Gould at the Battle of the Somme.

We also congratulate most heartily Driver William Milne on having received the Military Cross.


Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P120/28A/14)

Trouble upon trouble

There was sad news for several Mortimer families.

West End

We offer our deep sympathy to the brothers and sisters of Cecil Hall who was mortally wounded in France on January 6th. He was one of those boys for whom everybody had a good word and we all mourn his loss.

We are also sorry to state that the enquiry department of the Red Cross has had to give up all hope of any further news of Osborne Lampert who was reported wounded and missing in Mesopotamia last February; and so we have had to add his name too to our list of those who have made the great sacrifice. May they rest in peace.

At the moment of writing Alfred Awbery in Alexandria and Harry White in France are both reported dangerously ill, so that poor Birch Lane has had trouble upon trouble.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P120/28A/14)

Excellent work in Serbia

A Mortimer woman turned from nursing soldiers in the Balkans to caring for war orphans.

A Distinction for a Nurse

Miss Joyce Fremlin has been awarded the Red Cross Samaritan (Serbian) Order for her excellent work: first at Monastir for the Serbian army and afterwards at Salonika, where she was in charge of a Serbian Babies’ Orphanage. Her friends, and especially the Scouts who were under her command, will congratulate her heartily.

Miss Fremlin has now been transferred to Cyprus, and is nursing in a hospital at Famagusta.

She wishes to express her thanks to those Mortimer folk who kindly sent out toys for her Orphanage. These toys arrived safely and were gratefully appreciated.

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

Women “have proved that they can do many things which did not occur to them before the war”

The Burghfield parish magazine reported on various changes the war had brought to the parish.

Other matters connected with the War

a) The war savings movement has done well in Berkshire, chiefly owing to the efforts of Mr. W.C.F. Anderson, of Hermitts Hill, the Secretary of the County Committee. An Association stared in Burghfield in the spring, now numbers 106 members, and 128 certificates have been sold. It is hoped to combine this with Associations at Mortimer and Theale under a “Local Committee,” on the system adopted elsewhere. Already over 106,000,000 has been raised, and over 35,560 Associations formed, throughout the country: and the National Committee are arranging for a vigorous Autumn campaign.

b) As in other parishes, occupiers of agricultural land have been called upon to consider the possibilities of breaking up pasture into arable. And the County War Agricultural Committee, acting through the Bradfield District sub committee, have found the farmers and owners of land in Burghfield no less ready to answer this call of their country than the King has found the young men ready for the hardships of war.

c) “War Economy” has of course received much attention: and it is hoped that in every house efforts have been made to economize in food, clothing, and expenditure generally. Meetings have been held and literature circulated. The duty of promoting economies, which at first was imposed upon War Savings Associations, has been transferred with other duties to the Food Control Committees appointed by the District Councils. The collection of horse-chestnuts has been entrusted chiefly to the School authorities, and directions given. It appears that every ton of chestnuts, in proper condition, released half-ton of corn which would otherwise be required for the manufacture of propellant explosive.

Women Workers on the Land

We are pleased to see how well the Burghfield women have come forward to work on the land and to endeavour to replace the men who have been called to serve their country. They have proved that they can do many things which did not occur to them before the war; and are now doing good work milking and generally helping to produce food. There are now 21 women working regularly, two of whom have been imported.

Burghfield parish magazine, October 1917 (D/EX725/4)

Everybody owes it to the nation and to the men who are fighting, to save every penny that they can save

More adults were wanted to devote their savings to the war.

The War Savings Association Committee met recently at the Vicarage – Sir Edmund Mowbray in the chair. While more than pleased at the popular response to their venture – there being already more than 90 depositors – the Committee wish to point out that membership is not intended especially for children. They would welcome and they wish to invite more adult depositors. The position in a nutshell is this: Everybody owes it to the nation and to the men who are fighting, to save every penny that they can save; no security is safer than these Certificates; the interest is more than 5 per cent. per annum; the money deposited can be got out again at any time, should necessity arise. The Treasurer or the Hon. Sec. are on duty at S. Mary’s Schools every Friday, from 5-30 to 6-30 p.m.

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

“Many of us feel there is a reasonable hope of a termination of hostilities before Christmas”

An army chaplain with links to Mortimer shares details of his life in Normandy.

Mr Bowden writes:-

Dear Vicar,

It is a long time since I sent a contribution to the Magazine, not that I have forgotten Mortimer but I have so little of interest to relate. My work is now in the docks area – I have charge of No. 2 General Hospital, on the quay alongside which the hospital ships lie and take in the wounded direct from the trains to convey them to Southampton. Any cases which prove too bad for the boat journey we take in to our hospital which is directly over the railway station, and occasionally we get a train load for treatment at No. 2. We have three very fine, airy wards; and a broad balcony facing the sea runs the whole length of the hospital; in the summer we place many beds out there – the men love to be in the open air and watch the shipping and the aircraft. The hospital commands a fine view of the town on one side and the mouth of the Seine with Trouville and Honfleur on the other.

In addition to hospital work I have some 1,500 Army Ordnance and 650 Army Service Corps men to work amongst. These are busy on the docks all day long but can be seen in the Recreation Huts and in their billets in the evening and at meal times.

There are plenty of amusements provided for them – some sort of entertainment almost every night. We also have recently acquired a recreation ground for their use and a cricket ground as well as a tennis court for officers and N.C.O.’s.

It might be of interest if I give my Sunday programme – I start early with a Celebration of Holy Communion at 6 a.m. for the A.O.D. in a little chapel near their quarters – another celebration at 7 a.m. for the hospital staff in a hut on the quay. This is always followed by a series of private Communions to sick men and officers in the various wards and huts; [sic] then back to breakfast. I used to have a Parade Service at 10-30 for the R.A.M.C. but have dropped it as it was an inconvenient time for the men. At 11-30 we have a Parade Service for the A.O.D. in one of the warehouses on the docks – the men climb up on the boxes all round a space left for the purpose – we have a good choir, an hearty service, and then the men go straight off to their dinner at noon, or soon after.

Then I have nothing till 5-15 when I hold Ward Services in hospital – these are very much appreciated by the patients and are of an informal nature as all denominations join in. The men love singing hymns and the Sisters come and help form a choir. At 7 p.m. we are now having open-air services in the A.S.C. camp on the river front between the docks and hospital. Here the men are mostly getting on in years – I believe the average age is about 42 – All younger men have long since been sent “up the line.” Of course a large portion of both A.S.C. and A.O.D. men have done their bit at the front in various units and have been sent back to work at the Base owing to wounds or some physical disability rendering them unfit for the fighting line.

Sometimes my day ends here or I have a service at the Y.M.C.A. or in one of the other huts, in turn with other Padres.

We have many destroyers constantly alongside the quays, the escorts for hospital ships, transports, &c. I go aboard when I can but generally most of the sailors are sleeping as they are working all night and its [sic] not often possible to hold a Service for them, but one gets some interesting talks with men and officers.

Just now we have a Mortimer man in hospital – Sergt. Shackleford – he is doing very well. He is only the second man I have met from the parish since I joined the B.E.F. – the other being Frank Parsons.

We are all very cheerful about the position of things just now and many of us feel there is a reasonable hope of a termination of hostilities before Xmas.

With best wishes to all friends.

Yours very sincerely,

W. S. Bowden, C.F.

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

Double recognition of a soldier’s gallantry

A Mortimer man killed on the Somme was honoured.

The Military Medal has been awarded to Sydney Eatwell, who was killed 1st July, 1916, on the Somme. His friends have also only recently been informed that he had been promoted to be Sergeant. We congratulate his parents heartily on this double recognition of their son’s gallantry.

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

May the memorial may be worthy of those commemorated

Future US President Herbert Hoover led efforts to help starving civilians in wartorn Belgium, allowing the people of Mortimer to concentrate on their war memorial.

War Working Party

It is hoped to start work again at S. John’s Hall on Thursday, September 6th. In the meantime all kinds of woollies are wanted to be ready for August delivery. Pyjamas are wanted, also sun shields and mosquito nets. If workers will kindly send a post card to Mrs. Alfred Palmer, to say what they will undertake to do, materials shall be sent to Mrs. Thorp, The Street, where they can be called for.

Belgian Relief Fund

Now that the United States have made themselves responsible for the relief of the people in Belgium our local fund is closed. In the nineteen months that we have been collecting we have raised £90 3s. 3d. It was decided at our last parish meeting that the monthly collection should continue and that the proceeds in future should be devoted to our parish War Memorial. It is hoped that those who have given so liberally in the past will continue their generosity in order that the Memorial may be worthy of those commemorated.

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

Wholly wonderful results

Stratfield Mortimer was the latest parish to set up a war savings scheme.

War Savings Association

On the following evening [July 12th] a small company met in S. John’s Hall and listened for an hour to Mr. W. F. Anderson’s admirably told tale of the wholly wonderful results achieved by these Associations. It was unanimously resolved to begin at once such an Association for Mortimer. Sir Edmund Mowbray was elected chairman, Mr. Ponting hon. Treasurer, Miss Westall hon. Secretary. The office of the Association will be (pro tem) in S. Mary’s Infants’ School, by the kind consent of the managers of the school, and will be open every Friday from 5-30 to 6-30 p.m. Literature will be circulated in explanation of the scheme, and great results may be looked for.

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

An extra good tea

An enjoyable fete in Burghfield in aid of Red Cross funds attracted some of the recuperating soldiers.

Red Cross Fete

On Thursday, July 12th, a Red Cross Fete was held at Home Close. Sixteen wounded soldiers from Mortimer VAD Hospital were driven over, some in a brake and others in the car kindly lent by Mr and Mrs Willink. The proceedings began by a Rummage Sale and the goods were soon cleared off. There were various side shows. One of the most popular was guessing the name of a doll, 3 guesses for 1d. of course the name had frequently to be changed! Aunt Sally was also much appreciated. The soldiers able to walk about enjoyed helping with these and other games. The weather was perfect and we had tea on the lawn. The soldiers had a table to themselves and an extra good tea….The Misses Gripper’s GFS girls and Sunday School children, also many helpers, had free teas.

After tea, Mr Bulford kindly gave a most excellent Conjuring Entertainment, which the soldiers and everybody much enjoyed. The hearty singing of “God Save The King” brought a happy afternoon to a close, and the soldiers drove away amidst much cheering.

Of course the teas did not pay their way – food being so expensive and so many being given free. By the Rummage Sale and Side Shows we raised about £6. Most of this will go to the Red Cross, but a cauldron of coke has been bought for the Mission Church as a reserve, the cold having been so much felt by the congregation last winter.
We think of giving £2 towards the greatly needed dining hut and recreation room to be erected at Mortimer VAD Hospital.

Burghfield parish magazine, November 1917 (D/EX725/3)

Everybody already understands the importance of saving and of lending what is saved to our country for national use

Villages competed with one another as to how much they could do for the war effort.

War Savings

We desire to invite all people of good will to come to S. John’s Hall on Wednesday, July 4th, at 8 p.m., to discuss the formation of a Mortimer War Savings Association. Everybody already understands the importance of saving and of lending what is saved to our country for national use. Mortimer has, we know, already done wonders in the matter, for example, of buying War Savings Certificates.

But everybody does not yet understand the advantage of co-operation in this matter. Think of the encouragement that is given to young people and to others who cannot buy a whole certificate right out when they see that their savings can be made fully useful to the nation, with much profit also to themselves, if they will put by only 6d. per week!

Results have been attained in other villages through War Savings Associations which have astonished no one more than the people themselves. And it would never do for Mortimer to be behindhand. We therefore wish to invite everybody to come and hear more of this scheme and its methods and advantages in S. John’s Hall on Wednesday, July 4th, at 8 p.m. We believe that a vigorous Association will be the result and that it will achieve wonders.

A. Baskerville Mynors, Vicar.
E. C. L. Mowbray, Chairman, Parish Council.

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

Several wounded since the late terrible fighting

There was worrying news for families in Mortimer West End.

West End

News of our Sailors and Soldiers

It was with deep regret that we heard of the death of Thomas Henry Dicker. He had recently been transferred to the Lincolnshire Yeomanry and was on the “Arcadian” when it was torpedoed and, unhappily, was amongst those lost. We offer our heartfelt sympathy to Mr. and Mrs. Dicker on the loss of their eldest son.

News has been received of several wounded since the late terrible fighting. James Bailey writes cheerily of his wounds and it is good to hear that Arthur Penny’s are notified as slight while Gilbert Cowdry, at the time of writing, has gone to a convalescent home. Mr. Harry Trelawny, after having slight concussion of the brain, went into the line again but is once more in hospital, suffering from shell-shock.

Charles Murrell, R.N., has been home on leave and Alfred Cowdry has joined the Royal Navy.

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