Pork and fruit pies

Reading paupers were to be allowed a night off for the peace celebrations, as well as extra treats.

8th July 1919

Celebration of Peace

Reporting the receipt of a letter and order from the Local Government Board giving the Guardians power to make such modifications of the regulations in force with regard to the discipline and diet of the inmates of the Institution as may be deemed by them suitable for the occasion, and that the event should be celebrated in the Institution on such day or days, not exceeding two in number, as may be determined by the Guardians, and authorising reasonable expenditure in connection with the celebrations.

Recommending that such inmates who wish to go to their friends on the 19th inst may do so and stay the night if they wish. That on the night of the 19th those inmates who wish to do so may remain out until 9.30 pm, and the Master was directed to arrange with the Park Keeper to let them through the gates up to that time.

That tobacco and sweets be provided for the inmates on the 19th instant, and that Wednesday the 23rd instant be fixed for the day for the celebration of peace for the inmates of the Institution, that dinner shall be at 12 o’clock, that pork and fruit pies be provided, and that tobacco and sweets be included in the extras.

Report of House Committee, Reading Board of Guardians (G/R1/59)

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How the high wages are spent

Good news was tempered with sadness as men continued to die.

Florence Vansittart Neale
19 October 1918

Dear old Christopher died of pneumonia or flu. None of his family there. Up at the Orkneys. On hospital ship “Agadir”….

Had letters from girls. Wonderful entrance into Lille – all inhabitants kissing. Bring sugar & sweets for our soldiers.

William Hallam
19th October 1918

This afternoon I went through the town.… I could not help noticing this afternoon all the people especially women are dressed up to the nines and even then looking into the drapers windows for more clothes. This is how the high wages are spent.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9); and William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

Registration of retailers of Sweetmeats

Some people had allegedly sneakily acquired two lots of ration cards.

7th June 1918

Applications for registration as retailers of Sweetmeats were considered. The Committee, in view of the Regulations issued by the Ministry, were unable to sanction the same.

The Committee had under consideration certain information which would seem to suggest that two applications had been made, one in this district, and one outside, for supplementary ration cards, which had been granted in each case, and the Executive Officer was instructed to investigate the matter.

Newbury Borough Council Food Control Sub-committee minutes (N/AC1/2/9)

“Looking more or less like an Englishman, instead of a walking mole heap in damp weather & a dust bin in dry weather”

Sydney and Percy Spencer both took the opportunity to write to their sister.

May 28th [1918]
My Darling Florence & Mr I.

Now it is really a time of rest & once more I can sit at a table again looking more or less like an Englishman & feeling very much like one too, instead of looking like a walking mole heap in damp weather & a dust bin in dry weather. Your parcel of toffy & chocolate was very much enjoyed

May 29th
I am simply bursting to tell you of a frightful row between my platoon & the villagers who possessed the little orchard in which they live. Suffice it to say that, broken bottles, language, shovels, dogs, tent mallets, myself, 4 sergeants & the town mayor (an aged full colonel) were chief actors in the scene, to say nothing of a goat which eats my men’s soap and children who steal their rifle oil to put on boots & other little etceteras! Happily we decamped before anything more than threatened warfare had taken place.

The cause of the quarrel? I was ordered to make my tent bombproof which meant digging up the floor of the tent & heaping up round it. This raised the ire of Monsieur et Madame et les petits!…

Your always affectionate

Brer
Sydney

May 29, 1918
My dear WF

Wants as usual.

6 pots of Properts MAHOGANY polish & invoice, please.

1 bottle of fountain pen ink. Boots have some Watermans boxes if you cannot get Swan. Everyone borrows mine & then complain that it’s bad ink!

The polish is for the CO so I hope Thrussells will come up to scratch. He can’t get it from his wife. Thrussells can pack it no doubt. Rather elliptic, but you’ll understand.

Well dear, it’s a lovely day – the planes have been doing stunts over the line and all’s merry & bright. Our quarters are good shelter but no cover against fire so I wasn’t particularly happy last night when the Hun commenced shelling. We have also had a fairly consistent bombing stunt nightly – very pretty to watch but too near to be pleasant.

The other day – Sunday in fact – I went all over one of our tanks. Life inside one must be pretty cramped and unhappy [censored].

My quarters on Sunday were in the guest chamber of a ruined chateau. A shell had had an extraordinary career through the next room but except for windows my room was all right. We went there as our previous quarters were stiff with guns of all sizes firing into our back doors. When some 9 1/2s began to arrive we moved. The concussion of those beggars is terrific.

Yours ever
Percy

Letters from Sydney Spencer (D/EZ177/8/3/38-39); and Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/40)

Vegetables and cigarettes

The village of Crazies Hill dedicated its harvest festival to supporting the troops, with gifts of varying levels of healthiness.

Crazies Hill Notes

The Harvest Festival was held on October 15th. Throughout the day the Services were bright and hearty. The congregations were large; indeed everything was in keeping with the joyous occasion. The Children’s Service also, in the afternoon, was well attended. The Children’s offerings were made during the singing of a hymn when the children marched in procession and placed the various articles in a basket. The basket was large, yet was well supplied with packets of cigarettes, sweets, and other things. These were carried to the Parkwood Hospital after the Service as the Children’s gifts for the wounded soldiers.

At the Evening Service the anthem ‘The Lord is My Shepherd’ was rendered very nicely by the Choir. The Special Preacher was the Rev. H. I. Wilson, Rector of Hitcham, to whom we are much indebted for coming.

The decorations were carried out with much care and skill – the building looking a veritable flower garden. It would be difficult to realize the amount of labour and time spent in arranging the flowers, plants, corn and vegetables. The result was certainly beautiful. We are very grateful to the following who so generously gave their labour and time: Mrs. Light, Mrs. Habbitts, Mrs. Wakefield, Mrs. Woodward, Miss Rose, Miss Stanton, Miss Beck, and Miss Doe, and the following who so kindly sent gifts: – Mrs. Whiting, flowers and vegetable marrow; Miss Beck, flowers; Mrs. William Willis, plants; Mrs. Hull, flowers; Mrs. Weller, flowers; Mrs. Goodwin, flowers; Mr. Kimble, flowers and vegetables. Mr. Griffin, flowers; Mr. Bacon, bread; Mr. Stanton, flowers. Miss Fleming, corn and wheat; Miss Rose, flowers; The Hon. Mrs. Crawford, corn; Capt. Willis, flowers.

We are also indebted to Parkwood for so kindly sending a collection of choice plants.

The collections throughout the day, which were in aid of the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, amounted to £1 10s. 7 ½ d.

The vegetables and flowers were sent to Wargrave Military Hospital, Mr. Whiting most kindly conveying them thither.

Throughout the day offerings of cigarettes, etc., were most generously made for our men serving at the present time.

Wargrave parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

“I am doing my bit for them, as I know there is a lot that can’t”

Soldiers from Ascot appreciated gifts from the schoolchildren, while one man with a local connection had been awarded a French medal.

ASCOT SAILORS’ AND SOLDIERS’ COMMITTEE.

The Boys’ Entertainment was highly successful and produced £12 9s. 0d., after deducting all expenses, and enabled the Committee to send a parcel “With best wishes from the Boys of Ascot Heath School,” to every Ascot man serving at sea or abroad. To every man a pip, a khaki handkerchief, and some cigarettes were sent, and to those in France in addition a couple of candles, and to others either another handkerchief or a packet of sweets. A good many letters have been received saying that the parcels had arrives safely and were much appreciated, and the following from one man is a sample of others:

“I thank all the boys of Ascot Heath Schools for their kindness in sending me a parcel which I received safe and sound. It was what I wanted as I am an old smoker of a pipe, and please tell them that I am doing my bit for them, as I know there is a lot that can’t.”

The number of Ascot men now on our list is 97, and we are glad to say that we continue to receive good reports of all of them. The two prisoners seem to be fairly well treated; and the four men still suffering from wounds are still going on well.

It is a satisfaction to be able to report that Grenade-Sergeant Robinson of the 2nd Wilts, whose father was formerly in the Rifle Brigade and has lately come to live in Ascot, has been mentioned in despatches and been awarded the D.C.M. and the “Medaille Militaire.”

ANOTHER ACCOUNT of the Boy’s Entertainment.

The Boys of the Ascot Heath Schools gave a concert on Wednesday, 23rd February, in All Saints parish Room at 2.45 p.m. in the afternoon and repeated the entertainment in the evening at 7.30 p.m. The object of the concert was one well calculated to appeal to the hearts and so the pockets of Ascot people: it was to raise enough money to enable a parcel to be sent to every man on active service in the Navy or the Army with the best wishes of the boys as a token of their affectionate remembrance. The attendance at the afternoon performance was most gratifying, and at once ensured the success of the scheme from a financial point of view; while in the evening the room was packed to the doors.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Monthly Magazine, April 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/4)

The children’s gift to the Serbian Relief Fund

Children who attended the Anglican Sunday School in Bracknell did get a Christmas party this year – but no entertainment other than a storyteller.

SUNDAY SCHOOL TEA.

This took place on January 4th, at the Victoria Hall. The tea seemed to be much enjoyed by the party of 220, who found the tables well supplied with cakes and bread and butter, arranged by the kind ladies who had undertaken to help. After tea crackers were handed round and caused much enjoyment. Then, while those helping were having their tea, Mr. Grant stood forth and told the children a capital fairy story which was listened to in quiet. A distribution of presents followed. In the classes of elder children, three or four in each class who had gained the highest number of marks received a small gift, while in the Infant classes each child was presented with a present.

The Vicar explained to the children that there was to be no entertainment, and the money that would otherwise have been spent on this was to be sent as the children’s gift to the Serbian Relief Fund. This announcement was received with applause. When “God Save the King” had been sung the children were dismissed, and as they left the Hall each child received an orange and some sweets, the kind gift of Mr. Western.

Bracknell section of the Winkfield District Magazine, February 1916 D/P151/28A/8/2

A real Christmas for wounded soldiers

70 wounded soldiers recovering in Reading were treated to a Christmas dinner no one would ever forget.

EARLEY WOUNDED SOLDIERS ENTERTAINMENT FUND

Of course the Christmas dinner [on 29 December 1915] has been “the event” – 12 men from each of the five Reading War Hospitals were invited. It consisted of a three-course dinner: soup, meat, puddings, &c. Two large turkeys were sent from our generous friends at Maiden Erlegh, who also sent two huge Christmas puddings and other good things. Mrs Fowler sent a ham and trifle, Mrs Heelas a joint of beef and also cooked for us a third turkey purchased out of the funds, whilst Mrs Wilson cooked for us a second ham also purchased. The Misses Hannaford sent sufficient hot mince pies; Miss Howlett, apples; soup, toast, apples and pears by myself and wife; Mrs Love, floral decorations and serviettes; Miss Goodwin and Mrs Francis, mince pies; Lieut. and Mrs Usmar, Mr W H White, Mr Fred Bright and Mr Watson, cigarettes; Mr Harris, bread; Mr Wooldridge and Mr Wilson, potatoes; Mrs Ballard, tea; Miss Jordan, sugar; Messrs Gregory, Love & Co, Ltd, bon-bons; and last, but not least, we must thank Mr H Allnatt, the well-known caterer, for his great help in providing us with cookers, fuel, cutlery, china, tabling, cruets, etc.

It is needless to say that our guests had a jolly time and very greatly appreciated the efforts which had been made to give them a real Christmas gathering – one of the party rising before the close to voice the feelings of the whole in expressing their gratitude for such an outing. The carvers were the Vicar, Lieut. Usmar, Mr Watson and Mr Ellis from Maiden Erlegh, and the company present included Mrs Joel, Miss Eileen Joel, Masters Stanhope and Dudley Joel, Mrs Honey, Miss Carlsson, Mlle Weill, Miss King, Mrs Helps, Mrs Hart, Mrs A C Jordan, Mrs Wilson, Mrs Francis, Miss Jordan, Miss Goodwin, The Misses Beauchamp, Mrs Culham, Mrs Howlett, Mrs Love, Miss Usmar, The Rev. H Wardley King (who has been of the greatest assistance in arranging the transport on each occasion), Mr Heelas and his sons, and Mr A C Jordan; Messrs White, Love, Howlett, Wooldridge and Wilson assisting in the general arrangements.

The programme on this occasion included two sketches entitled “The Burglar and the Girl”, by Miss Gibbs and Mr Edwin Love, and “My First Client”, by Miss I Hayward and Mr Maurice Love, Mr Walker, the well-known tenor, giving several popular songs, and Mrs Dracup.

Chas J. Howlett
Hon. Treasurer

Earley St Peter parish magazine, March 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/1)

“By far the best entertainment our wounded heroes get in the district”

The parish of Earley St Peter made something of a speciality of entertaining wounded soldiers.

EARLEY “WOUNDED SOLDIERS” ENTERTAINMENT FUND

In continuation of my account dated 25th November last, I am glad to report that there seems to be no lack of interest shewn by our friends and helpers in this deserving cause, nor in appreciation of our efforts by those whom we have been privileged to entertain.

Fifty-five guests were entertained on the 1st inst. and 55 on the 15th, and it needs but little time to be spent amongst them to find out how pleased they are with the form of entertainment provided. Presents of fruit, flowers, smokes, sweets, cakes, &c, continue to be given, whilst additional games have been introduced; three especially good ones, “Fishing” and “Bombardo”, kindly introduced by Miss Joel, and Parlour Bagatelle by Mrs Helps, having proved a great attraction. The hat-trimming, hairdressing, bowling and other competitions continue in great favour, and the evergreen sketch, “Mixed Pickles”, by the Misses Hayward and E. Francis and Messrs Edwin and Maurice Love creates much amusement, in fact we now have the credit of providing by far the best entertainment our wounded heroes get in the district.

I regret the Editor cannot allow this report to stand over for the special event we hope to provide on Wednesday, the 29th instant. On that date we are arranging to give dinner to 60 at 12.45, followed by the usual amusements: and promises of joints, puddings, mince pies and other good things have already been provided, so that an excellent repast is certain, and the only difficulty we are likely to have to face will be the provision of motors. In regard to this branch of helpers we have had the assistance of Mr Friedlander, Mrs Joel (bus and car), Mr Ed. Heelas, Lieut. Usmar, Mr D. Helps, Mr Richard Lea, Mr O. Dixon, [and] Mr A. C. Jordan, and to them our grateful thanks are due.

It is impossible to write to all who may wish to contribute to this Fund, but our hon secretary, Mr Love, or myself, will be glad to receive any additional gifts at any time. Since my last report the following further gifts have been received. Our Lady Subscribers have been good enough to attend and give valuable help.

Chas. J Howlett, Hon. Treasurer
16 December, 1915

DONATIONS

Miss George (further donation) 2s.6d
Mrs Lily 5s
Mrs Jordan (further donation) 5s
Mr E. D. Heelas £1
Heelas, Sons & Co., Ltd 5s
Anon (further donation) 2s.6d
Miss Montizambert (further donation) 10s
Mr and Miss Jordan (donation, prizes) 1s.6d
Miss Maurice 10s

GIFTS IN KIND
Miss Eileen Joel, Cakes and Cigarettes
Mrs A. C. Jordan, Cakes
Mrs Friedlander, Fruit
Mrs Marshall, Cigarettes
Mrs Wooldridge, Flowers and Fruit
Miss Jordan, Prizes
Mrs Bright, Cakes
Mrs Masser, Cigarettes
Mr A. C. Jordan, Chocolates and Cigars
Lieut. Usmar, Cigarettes
Mrs Murton, Cigarettes
Miss L. Goodwin, Cakes
The Misses Beauchamp, Cakes
Miss Lea, Cakes

Earley St Peter parish magazine, January 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/1)

Germans using aspyxiating gas

Florence Vansittart Neale, visiting her daughter Phyllis in Southampton:

24 April 1915

Phyllis came about 10. Sent men out in motor to Winchester. We shopped & poked about. We bought sweets & cigarettes. Phyllis took men out in motor in afternoon…

French retreating a bit beyond reach [of] Germans asphyxiating gases. We also. Canadians valiantly recovering guns short bit.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)

It is very kind of people at home to think of the soldiers

Reading servicemen appreciated the gifts they received from girls who attended St John’s Church, and wrote to say so:

The parcels sent out by the Girls’ Club to men at the front have been much appreciated. The greatest pains were taken in the making of the goods and the sending of them. ‘Many thanks to you’ (Mrs. Haslam) ‘and the S. John’s Girls’ Club,’ writes Driver W. Sawyer, ‘for the parcel you sent which I received quite safe and intact. I think it is very kind of the people at home for studying the troops at the front. I was very pleased with the waistcoat and also the tobacco and sweets. I am in very good health, I am glad to say, and looking forward to the day of days when peace is declared and we all go home again.’

Reading St John parish magazine, March 1915 (D/P172/28A/24, p. 3)