No improvement

Florence Vansittart Neale rushed to London to see her daughter, very ill with the dreaded influenza.

3 December 1918

Both telephones out of order so wired hospital. Reply paid. Answer “No improvement” so settled to go up. 1.45 from Maidenhead. Went straight to hospital in taxi. Found her very poorly in room with 4 others. Rather longed for her to have quiet home nursing…

To Aunt E’s about 6. Found all ill with flu (maids) so I went to Ally’s – she putting me up. Edith at flat.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

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Soldiers from Cliveden as usual

Florence Vansittart Neale’s daughter was the latest flu victim.

2 December 1918

Had party of soldiers from Cliveden as usual….

Heard P. had flue – high temp. I telephoned – heard “easier”.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Members of Parliament stripped naked?

Even the Irish internees were being allowed short periods out on parole. The Governor of Reading Prison, not exactly a sympathiser, still refised to have them strip-searched on their return.

29 Nov 1918

F M Reynolds, Irish interned prisoner, was released on parole on 17 Nov 1918 and returned today.

No – these men on parole are not searched and the same procedure was [observed?] in [illegible] except a “special search” was made [illegible] was stripped. It would be of no use, and if this course was adopted there would be [illegible] of Members of Parliament stripped naked & c &c. Besides, these men can carry any mental messages they wish.

If the Commissioners wish it, of course I will specially search the men, but as they are on parole, I do not recommend it. At the same time, I have no doubt that many [do pass] messages & apparently written ones go [illegible].

C M Morgan
Gov
[to] The Commissioners

29th Nov 1918
Frank Reynolds

This Irish prisoner, who was released on parole on the 17th instant, returned to my custody today.

[C M Morgan]
Governor

[to] The Commissioners

29 Nov 1918
J. MacDonagh

Prisoner applied to me this morning for a petition to be released on parole on account of the illness of his brother.

He was given permission and I told him I would mark it “urgent” if the petition was sent in & he wished it.

He thanked me & left.

About 10 minutes afterwards he sent in a slip of paper requesting me to telephone to the Secretary of State and ask for him to be released on parole. I told the Warder I could not telephone to the Secretary of State, but would mark his petition urgent, and besides I had no knowledge of the case.

As no petition came from him this evening, I sent over to inquire. The reply was that as I had refused to telephone he would do nothing. I told him he could telegraph himself, but he refused.
I attach the telegram he has sent in.

C M Morgan
Gov

[to] The Commissioners

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

There is no ground for complaint by German Prisoners of War

It looks as if some insane PoWs who had been treated at Broadmoor later complained about the conditions. The authorities disagreed.

Crowthorne War Hospital
Berks

12th July 1918

From Officer i/c Crowthorne War Hospital
To DDMS Aldershot

German Prisoners of War

With reference to your telephonic communication of today’s date I have the honour to state that there has been no insufficiency of warm clothing or lack of heat in this Institution.

There is no ground for complaint by German Prisoners of War who have left this Hospital.

[File copy not signed, but the letter is from Dr Baker]

Broadmoor correspondence file (D/H14/A6/2/51)

“No one was killed & no one was hurt”

Joan Daniels’ father’s clothing factory in Kentish Town was hit by a bomb.

Joan Daniels
May 20th Monday (Whit Monday)

Wakened at 6 o’clock in the morning by a policeman for Daddie. There was a bad air raid on London last night after eleven o’clock and they dropped a bomb at Daddie’s place. So of course he went off immediately & sent a telephone message through to say that no one was killed & no one was hurt. Which we were more than thankful to receive. The bomb dropped on a wall at the back between Ash’s false teeth factory & Daddie’s, breaking practically every window in the latter & blowing a lot of the false teeth into LDG’s! Daddie came back by the 12.15 & we spent a lovely afternoon on the river. What a difference. Such a peaceful scene & how much we have to be thankful for that no one was hurt. We heard in the evening that four Gothas were brought down, which is splendid.

Percy Spencer
20 May 1918

BF officer for rest at Le Touquet.

Bosch again disappointed us. A glorious day. Boys dug in cable. Follies performed in evening. CO Major P. dined with 17th. Huns really promised for tomorrow. Davis & I had a long talk in the evening.

Diaries of Joan Evelyn Daniels of Reading (D/EX1341/1); and Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

“He was the leader and chief agitator” of the internees

Ferdinand Louis Kehrhahn arrived at Reading in January 1917, aged 33. He was an art publisher born in the UK (Birkenhead) of German parentage. He had been sent back to Liverpool Police in April 1917, but now (following an unsuccessful escape) wanted to return to Reading. The Governor of Reading Prison objected to this troublemaker returning.

18 April 1918
Reading PI

The internee Ferdinand L. Kehrhahn, now in Brixton Prison, has petitioned the Secretary of State to take into consideration his present position – no companions with whom to mix with. On that account it is suggested that he be moved back to your custody, but before so doing please furnish your observations and views of the questions.
[?] Wall
Secretary

19 April 1918

In reply to letter … dated 18.4.18 on the subject of F. Kehrhahn, I think it very undesirable that he should return here for the following reasons:

When here before he was the leader and chief agitator amongst the men, and almost all of the men (of what was then C. party) are here, including his special friends.

Secondly, after leaving here he brought most untrue and unfounded charges against Warders, accusing them of stealing prisoners’ food – and they deeply resented his accusations.

Thirdly, when Kehrhahn and others escaped from Islington, information was given to me by Escosuras as to their whereabouts. I communicated with Scotland Yard by telephone, an official was sent from Scotland Yard within an hour to see me, and two of the men were arrested the same night, Escosuras being moved from here before Kehrhahn came. Escosuras is now here.

C M Morgan
Gov.
[to] The Commissioners

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

A bargain price for citizenship

Part of the process of obtaining citizenship in Switzerland for Anglo-German couple Will and Johanna Spencer as finding a home parish in their new country, which is still necessary to gain naturalisation.

19 December 1917

Before breakfast Johanna was called to the telephone. It was Frau Oberst Reichel very kindly telephoning to let us know that a letter had just arrived for her husband from Herrn Engeloch, which she had opned before sending it on to him, to say thast the Parish Council of Oberburg had on Sunday consented to our becoming parishioners of that parish.

I afterwards found on the breakfast table a letter for me from Herrn Engeloch in the same sense, & mentioning that the fee would be 500 francs. The Parish Council had at first said 500-600fr., so this is the smallest amount we expected to have to pay.

We afterwards walked to Muldenstrasse to call & thank Frau Reichel & introduce ourselves as the new fellow-parishioners, but she was not at home. We returned by tram, breaking our journey to order a Christmas decoration (a hanging bunch of sprays of fir, mistletoe, etc) to be afterwards sent to the Oberst Reichels, at flower shop in the Bubenbergplatz.

Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/26)

“He died, as he had always lived with us, a brave and perfect gentleman”

Tribute is paid to two Caversham men.

S. Peter’s

IN MEMORIAM

Second–Lieutenant Thomas Clark Powell, R.G.A.

Born in 1897, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Cotton Powell, of Fairlawn, Caversham, he was educated at Ashdown House, Forest Row, and at Shrewsbury. At the latter school he had a distinguished career: he became head of his house and a cadet Officer in the Officers’ Training Corps, and at the end of 1915 he was elected to an open Mathematical Scholarship at New College, Oxford.

On leaving in 1916 he obtained a commission in the R.G.A., and went to the front in France in September of the same year. He was slightly wounded early this year, and on the night of July 14th was struck by a shell and mortally wounded, dying shortly after reaching the Casualty Clearing Station; and so closing a career of great promise.

An Officer of his Battery writes:

“He had been tending our wounded, and was mending the telephone lines, when he was hit. He died, as he had always lived with us, a brave and perfect gentleman.”

S. John’s

We regret to have to record the death of Harry Borton, sidesman at S. John’s. He is the first of the officials connected with the church in our district to give his life in war service at the front. He was not very well known to many at as. John’s. For he was of a very quiet and retiring nature and fond of his home. But he was regularly in church on a Sunday morning with his wife and used to sit well to back on the pulpit side. Mrs. Borton may be sure she has the sympathy of the congregation in her sorrow.

Caversham parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P162/28A/7)

An awful disappointment

Florence Vansittart Neale was disappointed that her nurse daughter could not make it home on leave as planned.

1 August 1917

Telephone from Australian officer wanting to come. Arranged to come that night – Lieut. Maxwell….

Heard Bubs leave stopped – awful disappointment!

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

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…)

Firing on our own people

Florence Vansittart Neale had some unexpected – and not entirely welcome – Belgian guests at Bisham Abbey. She was also dismayed by (accurate) rumours of a friendly fire incident at the Front.

26 March 1915
Jean Baptiste turned up from London hospital. Not expected & at 6.30 heard his father & mother had come!! Really not mother but fiancée. Had to put them up.

Hear victory not so complete at Neuve Chapelle as we thought. Meant to have taken Lille. Hear some generals sent back. Not much good – also horrible idea our artillery fired on our own people – mist & telephone wrong!!

Mr Arlea said he had given our telephone in case Special Constables called out!

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

Wounded Belgians to arrive tomorrow

At last, after all the preparations that had gone into making Bisham Abbey ready for use as a war hospital, Florence and Henry Vansittart Neale got the call they had been waiting for.

3 December 1914
Had telephone. “May have 25 wounded Belgians sent tomorrow.” Great excitement.

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