“It is an appalling thought that a nation lately saved by the sacrifice of so many noble lives should be ready to run the risk of civil war”

The vicar of Stratfield Mortimer was disappointed by attitudes after the war.

Easter

At the moment of writing, the whole country is in a state of uncertainty and anxiety as to the future. It is an appalling thought that a nation lately saved by the sacrifice of so many noble lives should be ready to run the risk of civil war. There appears to be a terrible spirit of “grab” abroad, which is a melancholy thing to have to show as a result of the shining examples of self-sacrifice so recently given. The war did not bring us back to God, and it may be there are yet more terrible lessons before us. Will all Christians make a special effort this Holy Week to meditate upon the Divine Sacrifice and pray for something of the same spirit of love in our country?

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, April 1919 (D/P120/28A/14)

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“On view, for public approval, in the window of Mr. Methold’s Garage”

A war memorial design was put out to public consultation.

War Memorial

The design unanimously recommended by the Committee is now on view, for public approval, in the window of Mr. Methold’s Garage.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, April 1919 (D/P120/28A/14)

Very fine work has been done

Another war hospital closed its doors. This one had been in the Working Men’s Club in Mortimer.

The V.A.D. Hospital

After four years and six months’ valued service, the Mortimer War Hospital closed its doors on February 28th. Under many difficulties, and in spite of frequent changes in the staff, very fine work has been done, and Miss Wyld. M.B.E., is to be congratulated upon the way in which she has, as Commandant, stuck to her work through thick and thin. Six hundred and thirty-four patients have passed through the hospital. To Dr. Cox and to all the voluntary staff these owe a deep debt of gratitude.

The Commandant writes as follows:-

“I should like to take this opportunity of thanking all the many kind friends who have so constantly sent gifts, often unknown to me, which have been a great boon to our many patients during the past 4 ½ years.

F. M. Wyld, Commandant.”

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, April 1919 (D/P120/28A/14)

It has been a delightful experience to welcome home some of those who have been far too long absent

PoWs were coming home at last.

Prisoners of War

It has been a delightful experience to welcome home some of those who have been far too long absent.

Mrs. Trevor thanks all those who so kindly subscribed to the Rifle Brigade Prisoners of War Bread Fund. From July 15th, 1916, to October 22nd, 1918, inclusive, £123 14 s. 3d. was sent to the Treasurer of the Fund. The balance £12 4s. 6d. has been sent to Sir A. Pearson for S. Dunstan’s Hostel, where so many of our blind soldiers and sailors are. The accounts have been most kindly audited each half-year by Mr. Sillence, and the balance sheet hung up in the porch of S. John’s Church.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, February 1919 (D/P120/28A/14)

A bronze plaque with appropriate figures in relief

Plans were underway for a war memorial in Stratfield Mortimer.

War Memorial

The Committee appointed on November 19th have got to work, and have agreed to recommend to the adjourned public meeting:

(1) that the Memorial take the form of a cross; (2) that the cross should have on one side a bronze plaque with appropriate figures in relief, and an inscription; (3) that names be in bronze in relief on the other three sides; (4) that not less than £500 would be required for a worthy Memorial.

One scale model has already been submitted to the Committee, but they are asking for other designs also before making their report. Over £60 has already been received, and further donations will be welcomed at any time by the Hon. Sec. Miss Phelp, Wisley, Padworth Road.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, January 1919 (D/P120/28A/14)

Rejoicing on all lips and in all hearts

Stratfield Mortimer acknowledged the end of the war.

Now Thank We All Our God – From the King’s speech in the Royal Gallery on November 19th to the headlines of the penny newspaper this note has been universally sounded. And for the very fact that the rejoicing in all countries has taken this form we Christians cannot be too thankful. On all lips and in all hearts has been the cry “It is the Lord Who hath done great things for us, whereof we rejoice.” And certainly our own impromptu Service of Commemoration and of Praise on November 11th (Armistice Day) was one which will not pass from the memories of those who joined in it. S. John’s was packed to the doors and beyond. And though the right note of solemnity was not absent, yet the singing was radiant both with human joy and with heart-deep praise of the Lord of Hosts.

War Memorial

A well-attended public meeting on November 19th decided in favour of the erection of a Memorial on the green outside S. John’s Church rather than a cottage hospital or almshouses. A representative Committee was appointed to consider plans in more detail. This body will report to a further public meeting. In the meanwhile, gifts will be gladly received by the collectors or by the Hon. Sec., Miss Phelp, Wisley, Padworth Road.

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

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)

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)