Some comfort in memories so full of sadness

A Sulhamstead family who had lost their son were invited to take pride in his heroism.


Mr and Mrs Leake have received the following letter from the War Office. It is indeed to be hoped that the gratifying appreciation of the services of Captain G E A Leake, DSO, may be of some comfort in memories so full of sadness:

“I have it in command from His Majesty the King to inform you, as next of kin of the late Second Lieutenant (Acting Captain) George Ernest Arthur Leake, DSO, of the London Regiment, that this Officer was mentioned in a Despatch from Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, dated 7th November, 1917, and published in the third supplement to the ‘London Gazette’ of the 21st, dated 24th December, 1917, for gallant and distinguished service in the Field.

I am to express to you the King’s high appreciation of these services, and to add that His Majesty trusts that their public acknowledgement may be of some consolation in your bereavement.

G Leake, Esq.,

Sulhamstead parish magazine, March 1918 (D/EX725/4)


A great honour and a proud record

A Berkshire landowner’s wife was only the fifth woman in the country to be awarded the title of Dame – equivalent of a man being knighted. Men from the are were also being honoured for their roles.


The great honour that has been conferred upon the lady now to be known as Dame Edith Benyon, is of importance to other parishes besides Englefield. Apart from the share in this honour that the county justly claims, a considerable portion of Sulhamstead belongs to, and is farmed by, the Englefield estate, and Sulhamstead has its own reasons for being glad. Apart from Queen Alexandra, only four other ladies in the United Kingdom have received this honour.

We take the liberty of quoting the following, which is appearing in the Englefield Parish Magazine:


It was a great honour that the King conferred on the lady who now enjoys the above title. It means that she has been appointed a Dame of the Grand Cross of the British Empire, for her services in connection with the VAD work at the Englefield Hospital, as well as in the County. It is, we need scarcely say, a well-deserved reward for her untiring services. Dame Edith looks upon it as an honour not only to herself, but to the village and the County of Berkshire. It may be useful here to mention that letters should be addressed to her, ‘Dame Edith Benyon, GBE’ on the envelope, and inside she will be addressed as ‘Dear Dame Edith’. So her old title of ‘Mrs Benyon’ will be dropped for good and all.”

Flight-Lieutenant Jock Norton has received a Bar to his Military Cross for recent military services.

Private William Marlow has been awarded the Military Medal in France, and was to have returned home to have it presented to him, but has now been sent to another front.

The following from the “Westminster Gazette” will greatly interest all who remember Sir Reginald Bacon, when in the old days, as nephew of Major Thoyts, he used to visit at Sulhamstead House.

“Another change is announced in the appointment of Vice-Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon as Controller of the Munitions Inventions Department, for which office he gives up his command of the Dover Patrol. Despite the fact that thousands of men are crossing between this country and France every day, he can claim that no life has been lost in the cross-Channel traffic from Folkestone or Dover during that time. That is a proud record, and if his successor achieves as much we shall have every reason for satisfaction.”

Lieutenant H A Benyon has been gazetted Captain.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, February 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Why not adopt a prisoner?

The Russian Revolution had led to that country ceasing to take part in the war, which naturally disheartened the Allies. Meanwhile a Reading shop encouraged locals to buy comforts for British PoWs, even taking out advertisements in rural parish magazines.

My Friends

The year 1918 finds us still in the midst of war. Our troops have had the joy of spending Christmas in Jerusalem, but the hopes that peace might at that time be reigning through the world were shattered by the defection of Russia. We have again and again to remind ourselves that

The knowledge is a strong buttress to our confidence and a sure hope. Many have found this thought “as a shadow of a great rock in a weary land”.

Let us begin the year with the prayer that “we may consecrate ourselves afresh to the cause of righteousness, freedom and peace”.
Yours faithfully,

Alfred J. P. Shepherd,

The War Savings Association has been a great success. Over 90 certificates have already been bought.

Alleviate the torture to British prisoners of war by sending parcels regularly.

BAYLIS’ new shop, 7, The Arcade, Reading, is now open exclusively for the sale and despatching of these eagerly welcomed goods.

Why not adopt a prisoner?

Send us the order, we do the rest.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, January 1918 (D/EX725/4)

He “saved an officer’s life by carrying him on his back out of danger, under fire”

There was news of many Burghfield men, some of whom had performed acts of heroism at the front.

Honours and Promotions

We congratulate 2nd Lt Wheeler and his parents Mr and Mrs E C Wheeler on his promotion, he having been given a commission in the King’s Liverpool Regiment. His brother, T Wheeler, is now training as a Pilot in No 5 Cadet Wing, RFC. Cadet (ex Corporal) Alfred Searies is training in Scotland, having been recommended for a commission. He has been twice wounded, and has saved an officer’s life by carrying him on his back out of danger, under fire. The following are now Sergeants: E Cooke (5th R W Surrey), R J Turfrey (ASC< MT), E Wise (2/4th Royal Berks).


E N Pike (killed in action), P C Layley (scalded), J Cummings, A Newman, and A Ware (wounded). W Butler, whose parents long lived in the parish, but have lately gone to Sulhamstead, is also wounded.


Jos. West, ex 2nd Rifle Brigade (wounds); Herbert C Layley, ex 5th Royal Berks (wounds); Fred W Johnson, ex 2nd Royal Berks (heart); Isaac Slade, ex 4th Royal Berks and RE (heart); J D Whitburn, ex Royal Berks (rheumatism), just moved to Five Oaken. Arthur L Collins, in last magazine, should have been described as ex 5th Royal Berks.

Other War Items

Lieutenant Francis E Foster, RNVR, of Highwoods, who since the outbreak of war has been looking for trouble in the North Sea, has been rewarded by transfer to a quieter job further south, for the present. Lieutenant Geoffrey H B Chance, MG Corps (of the Shrubberies) is in hospital in Egypt, suffering from malaria.

Roll of Honour
Mr Willink thanks all who have given him information. He is always glad to receive more. It is difficult if not impossible, especially since the Military Service Act, to keep the Roll up to date.

Obituary Notices

The following death is recorded with regret.

Mr E N Pike, of Burghfield Hatch, son of Mrs Pike of Brook House, lost his life as above stated, for his country on 11th November, less than a week after returning to the front from a month’s leave which had been granted him to enable him to get in his fruit crop. An officer in his Battery writes: “In the short time that Gunner Pike has been in the Battery we have learned to appreciate him not only for his work but for the man he was”. He leaves a young widow and a little boy. He had good hopes of obtaining a commission in time.

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

Death while engaged in trench work

Another young man from Berkshire was killed.


We regret to record the death of Corporal G Povey, on December 22nd, aged 28 years, while engaged in trench work.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, February 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Sewing and saving

Burghfield parishioners continued to sew and save for the troops.

Red Cross Working Party
An urgent appeal for contributions to buy materials for the above is made by Mrs George. Between 20 and 30 workers meet at the Rectory every week and much good work is done. The Depot in Reading has given a liberal supply of material, but now more funds are needed.

War Savings Movement
The Burghfield Association has now bought 238 Certificates of which 206 have been sold to members. And new Associations have been formed in Sulhamstead and Theale.

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

“He went out to hold service on the battlefield, and found all the wounded killed”

The striking figure of an army chaplain who had studied with the rector of Sulhamstead prior to taking Holy Orders is remembered.

There must still be many in the parish who remember Mr Eli Cobham, a pupil at the Rectory. They will recall his great height, 6 feet 2 inches, and his capabilities in the cricket and football field. It was with great sorrow that we heard of his death last year, in German East Africa. Many incidents of a short but adventurous life were given in the “Greater Britain Messenger”, from which we take some of the following facts.

After much hesitation concerning his own unworthiness, he was ordained to a curacy at All saints, Fishponds. In this post he accepted no stipend. Canon Welchman says that there were few who knew his liberality [generosity]. The lectern was his anonymous gift, and the inscription he chose was “His dominion shall be from sea to sea”. He was afterwards vicar of All Saints, Fishponds.

From here he went to America, and worked his way back as a trimmer in the stoke-hold of a steamer, so as to get experience of what the men had to do and endure. Strong as he was, he found the labour almost beyond his powers.

In 1913 he resigned his living to work in East Africa, where he had 16 centres for service, in some of which he could only hold a service once or twice a year. He enlisted directly the war broke out, and used what time he had from soldiering to act as a Chaplain. He relates how he went out to hold service on the battlefield, and found all the wounded killed. Details of his death are not known, but the bare announcement states that on September 19th, 1917, the Rev. Elijah Cobham died from “wounds received while carrying in the wounded, somewhere in German East Africa”. He was a man of deep spirituality, and when discussing even trifling details, his invariable remark was “Let’s pray about it first”.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, April 1918 (D/EX725/4)

The whole gamut of human emotion

The emotional toll of supporting loved ones at the front was beginning to tell in Maidenhead. One imagines the tears in church – but every now and then there was joy amidst the sorrow.


The Minister has not for some time past read from the pulpit the list of our soldiers, because the strain upon the feelings of the more closely related friends was too great. This month there is space to spare in our columns, and we therefore print the list.

Five of our lads have fallen:

Harold Fisher …Royal Berks.
Duncan Wilson …A.S.C.
Robert Harris …8th Royal Berks.
Stephen Harris …3rd Royal Berks.
John Boyd …2nd Royal Berks.

Two have been discharged:

James Partlo …4th Royal Berks.
E.S. Mynett …Recruiting Sergeant

Forty-nine are still in the Army:

Cyril Hews …Royal Engineers
F.W. Harmer …Royal Berks.
W. Percy Pigg …A.S.C.
Cyril Laker …K.O. Scottish Borderers.
Reginald Hill …2nd Royal Berks.
Robert Anderson …4th Royal Berks.
John Bolton …23rd London.
Thomas Mulford …Royal Engineers.
J.O. Wright …8th Royal Berks.
George E. Dovey …9th Royal Berks.
Percy Lewis …R.A.M.C.
Arthur Rolfe …R.F.A.
Ernest Bristow …R.A.M.C.
Harold Islip …R.E.
Edward Howard …A.S.C.
George Belcher …R.E.
Horace Gibbons …11th Aus. Light Horse.
J. Quincey …A.S.C.
Donovan Wilson …A.S.C.
Aubrey Cole …A.S.C.
W.H. Clark …A.S.C.
Cecil Meade …A.S.C.
Benjamin Gibbons …6th Royal Berks.
David Dalgliesh …R.F.C.
Hugh Lewis …R.E.
H. Partlo …A.S.C.
Herbert Brand …8th Royal Berks.
George Phillips …A.S.C.
J Herbert Plum …R.E.
Wilfred Collins …Canadian Dragoons.
Alex. Edwards …R.F.A.
William Norcutt …A.S.C.
George Norcutt …R.E.
Victor Anderson …R.A.M.C.
Herbert G. Wood …R.E.
C.A.S. Vardy …R.E.
A. Lane …R.E.
Frank Pigg …R.F.C.
Leonard Beel …R.E.
P.S. Eastman …R.N.A.S.
A. John Fraser …A.S.C.
Charles Catliff …R.E.
Ernest A. Mead …7th Devonshires.
Robert Bolton …R.M.L.I
Frank Tomlinson …R.E.
George Ayres …L.E.E.
Thomas Russell …A.S.C.
G.C. Frampton …A.S.C.
W.J. Baldwin …Royal Navy.

In addition there are many who have passed through our Sunday School and Institute, but have not recently been in close connection with us. These also we bear upon our hearts, and bring in prayer before the Throne of Grace.


We are glad to be able to say that Reginald Hill is still going forward, and that he is able to walk a little with the aid of sticks. He has now been at the Sheffield Hospital between five and six months. His parents are spending their holiday at Sheffield.

Robert Bolton has gone over with his Company to France.

Wilfred Collins is in Hospital at Sulhamstead, still suffering from heart trouble.

Sidney Eastman is at Mudros, doing clerical work.

David Dalgliesh has been home on leave, in the best of health and spirits.


In our last number we spoke of the fact that the son of Mr. Jones, of Marlow, was “missing,” and that all hope that he was still living had been relinquished. But the unexpected has happened, and news has been received that Second-Lieutenant Edgar Jones is an unwounded prisoner in the hands of the Germans. His parents have surely run through the whole gamut of human emotion during these weeks.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Mothers, wives and widows take on their men’s allotments

Women were picking up the slack at home when it came to tending soldiers’ allotments.

Burghfield and Sulhamstead Horticultural Society’s Annual Show

On Wednesday 29th August, it was a gratifying sight to the promoters of this Show to see so goodly a supply of produce from the cottage gardens and plots; especially when it is remembered that a large number of the gardens and allotments are being cultivated by the wives and mothers of the men who are away serving their country; and by the widows of those who have fallen in the war. The greatest credit is due to them.

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

A shock of personal grief

A Sulhamstead man’s death saddened his church as well as his family.

With deep regret we record the death of Henry Cooper, who was killed in action on February 17th. The sad news came to all of us who knew him as a shock of personal grief, and it seems almost impossible to realise that we shall not see him again in our little sanctuary at Sulhampstead, for he was really one of our Sulhampstead men, having grown up with us in our Sunday School, afterwards becoming a member of our choir, and a regular worshipper at our services. We as members cannot but grieve that we have lost him, and our hearts go out in united sympathy to his sorrowing widow and little girl, his mother, brother and sisters in their sad bereavement.

On Sunday evening, March 11th, Mr. Cole conducted the memorial service. Special hymns were sung, and a very helpful and comforting address was given based upon the text: “There shall be no night there” (Rev. xxi, 25). The beautiful thoughts given to us upon these words should prove a strength and consolation to all.

Sulhamstead section of Trinity Congregational Magazine, April 1917 (D/EX1237/1/12)

Rightly proud of medals

Two Sulhamstead men had been awarded medals. Friends and family were proud of them.


The parish is rightly proud of the honour gained by Mr. Steele’s son at the Front, and we heartily congratulated both Mr Steele and his son George, on the D.C.M recently conferred upon him. We believe also that he has been more than once mentioned in despatches. He is also a Sergeant.

Mr A Ford, now Farrier-Staff Sergeant A Ford, who formerly lived and worked at the Lower End, has very many friends in Sulhamstead. They will be glad to read the following reprinted from the Mercury in connection with the Meritorious Service Medal awarded to him. It begins with the official telegram:

“The GOC congratulates you on your being awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.”

He has also received letters of congratulations – one from his commander’s wife:

“Dear Sergeant Ford, –

I was very glad indeed to hear that you had been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, and send you my best congratulations. Am sure you deserve it. I always hear how well the Divisional Train is doing, and my husband is very proud of his command. He has a very fine lot of men, and I know that you are one of the originals when they were forming at Pangbourne.”

Sulhamstead parish magazine, December 1916 (D/EX725/3)

A canteen at the station

Every little helped, as the Sulhamstead postmistress collected money for a canteen for troops passing through Reading. The South Eastern Railway Station site is now part of the main Reading station, but was originally completely separate. It was the terminus for the line through Guildford to Redhill (and which now goes on to Gatwick Airport).

Mrs Fremantle has a box at the Post Office to collect for the canteen at the South Eastern Railway Station, Reading. The box has just been opened and contained 3s. 2d.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, November 1916 (D/EX725/3)

Sad news of a teenage Scout

A Sulhamstead teenager fell in action.

We all remember Percy Kimbrey – our school boy – and our scout. Amongst the sad news that the papers bring us daily, is the statement that he was killed in action. No particulars are given. He was only 18 years of age.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, October 1916 (D/EX725/3)

Changed lives

The parish of Sulhamstead prepared for the National Mission.


The solemn self-searching period which has been the call to the nations of the world is approaching its climax in this country in the movement which we call the National Mission.

Our sailors and soldiers have not only shown themselves devoted to their country and to the defence of our shores and ourselves, but are not afraid, we are told, to speak of changed lives and a drawing near to God.

We at home must seek from God the power to rise to new heights so that we may be worthy of their sacrifice and provide for them on their return home that will sustain their spirit of devotion to duty and service to God.

By the time this has reached the majority in this parish, our special services will have begun by a sermon on the morning of October 1st, by the Rev. Canon Hurt, Rector of Bradfield. Full particulars have been printed and circulated.

Our Diocesan Bishop has written a very striking and stirring letter, which has been sent to all incumbents and has been printed in the Diocesan Magazine. The newspaper press has commented upon it, and quoted it. It has now been reprinted for public circulation and it is trusted that all in the parish who have received a copy will thoughtfully, carefully and prayerfully read it.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, October 1916 (D/EX725/3)

“The horizon of men’s thought has been suddenly and immensely expanded” by the war

The people of Sulhamstead supported the war effort in various ways. Now they were asked if anyone could foster children orphaned by the war.


One of the special features of the Flower Show was the large number of splints and other appliances for the wounded made by the boys attending the Technical School. They attracted a great deal of attention.


The times require such an effort; the horizon of men’s thought has been suddenly and immensely expanded; we are conscious, as most of us were not two years ago, of our membership in the nation, and of the responsibility of our nation in the world.

Our sons and brothers at the Front are serving their nation and helping it to meet its responsibility, at the risk of their lives; many of them in doing so are finding a new realisation of God.

Cottage Homes for the Children of the Waifs and Strays

The Secretary for the Waifs and Strays Society has asked the clergy in this and other rural deaneries, to find out if the occupiers of any suitable cottages are willing to take a child – mostly of soldiers killed in the War – and to board, lodge, and treat them etc, as their own children. The rector will be able to give particulars, and to name the amount paid weekly by the Society.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, September 1916 (D/EX725/3)