Conscientious objectors honoured

It is unusual to see a conscientious objector listed on a church’s roll of honour.

Spencer’s Wood Roll of Honour.

Tom Allen, Canadian.
Cpl. W. Appleby, R.B.
*Edward Beales, R.B.
Alfred Beken, R.F.A.
*Arthur Bradfield,R.B.
*Archie Butler, Territorials.
Fred Card, R.E.
Charlie Clacey, R.N.
Tom Clements, R.F.C.
Will Clements, A.S.C.
Ted Clements, R.F.A.
Frank Cocks, R.B.
Charlie Cocks, R.B.
Harry Coffill, R.N.
Charlie Day, R.B.
Dick Day, Devon Regt.
Jacob Didcock, R.N.
Cpl. Fred Didcock.
Sgt. W.Doherty, Man. Regt.
*Jim Double, R.E.
Percy Double, R.B.
Chappie Double, R.B.
Sgt. Kenneth Eggleton, A.M.C.
E. Eggleton.
E. Foster, R.E.
Sgt. Hawkins, R.B.
Reginald Jewell. R.B. (wounded).
Reginald Lee, R.A.M.C.
Edgar Lee, R.E.
Wilfred Lowe, R.F.C.
Leonard Luckwell, Coldstream Guards.
Walter Luckwell, R.F.A.
A. Marcham, R.B.
A.H. Marcham, R.B.
Jolly Middleton.
Arthur Middleton.
Sydney Middleton, R.F.C.
Harry Moss, A.S.C.
Arthur Moss, A.S.C.
Albert Povey, R.B.
William Povey, R.B. (prisoner of war).
– Sloper (C. objector).
Fred Swain, A.S.C.
Bert Swain, A.S.C.
Leonard Swain, Coldstream Guards.
S. Tiller.
*Alfred Watkins, Canadian.
George Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Edwin Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Charles Webb, Berks Yeomanry.
Sgt. Wallace Webb, C.C.
Stanley Webb, R.F.A.
Lieut. William Wheeler, C.Dr.
Owen Wheeler, R.E.
Lce-Cpl. H. Wheeler, R.B.
*Laurie White, R.N.
Frank Wilson, R.F.A.
William Wilson, R.B.
Fred Wiseman, East Kent.

*Has made the supreme sacrifice for King and Country.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, March 1917 (D/EX1237/1/12)

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The Church Lads’ Brigade dons khaki

The April issue of the Reading St John parish magazine touched on various war related matters: insurance against air raids, news from army chaplain T Guy Rogers, and the Church Lads’ Brigade which got teenage boys training in preparation for joining up when they were old enough.

INSURANCE OF THE PARISH PROPERTIES AGAINST DAMAGE BY AIRCRAFT

The vicar and churchwardens have thought it right in the interest of the parish to insure the churches and other parochial buildings against the above risks.

The cost of insurance is £26 12s 6d, and it is an expense which the ordinary funds are unable to meet.

An appeal is therefore made to the members of the congregations for donations to meet this special expenditure. These may be sent either to the vicar or churchwardens, or placed in the church boxes.

THE REV. T. GUY ROGERS

Friends are asked to note that Mr Rogers’ address is now 2nd Guards Brigade, BEF. By the time this issue of the magazine is in print the men Mr Rogers is ministering to will be back in the trenches, and their Chaplain living once more in a dug-out, somewhere in the second or third line. We were rejoiced to hear that twenty-three of the men had been confirmed, and we must remember these brave fellows continually in our prayers, asking that they may be given grace to witness a good confession for Christ, and to stand firm against all temptations which may beset them. Nor shall we forget to pray that our friend himself may be preserved amid all the dangers of his work, and may have the great joy of seeing many more men coming forward to confess Christ in Confirmation.

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE

The CLB has just reached a great epoch in its history, in that its members have donned khaki. It may not be generally known that the local CLB Battalion, of which our Company forms part, is recognized by the War Office as a Cadet Battalion under the Territorial Association.

In the Battalion Drill Competition, St John’s Company came out second with 186 marks out of a possible 200.

Just at present our numbers are small as many have left us to join the Colours, and we shall be glad to welcome prospective recruits if they will turn up at the Institute at 8.15 p.m. on any Monday evening. There must be many boys in the parish of 13 years and upward who ought to join, and do their best to maintain the traditions of St John’s Company.

Reading St John parish magazine, April 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

Topsy turvy times, as darkness shrouds us all

Trinity Congregational Church, Reading, had been forced to hold evening services in the afternoon thanks to the blackout.

Echoes from the Deacons’ Vestry

If anyone had prophesied two years ago that we should now be holding Evening Worship at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, we should have advises him to consult a doctor, and yet, so topsy turvy are the times, that the improbable has come to pass. We took the step with some trepidation, partly in the interests of economy (for to darken our church would have meant a large expense), but also because we knew many of our members preferred the walk in the daylight rather than in the darkness that shrouds us all at night in these days.

Trinity Roll of Honour

This month the call of “King and Country” has claimed yet another of our useful workers. Mr Eric Bowsher, our Publication Secretary, has joined the Army Service Corps, and is now in training at Osterley, Isleworth. We are very sorry to lose him…

Another name is that of Private Joseph Woodley (whose services in the choir are greatly missed), 5th City of London Territorial Regiment, London Rifle Brigade.

Mr Hubert Cox and Mr Fred Gleave, of the 9th Worcesters (Garrison Battalion) have also been called up, and are stationed at Gosport.

Trinity Congregational Church, Reading: church magazine, March 1916 (D/EX1237/1/11)

The final run for life

Lady Mary wrote to her son Ralph Glyn with more news of her Red Cross work, and the family’s responses to the death of her nephew Ivar Campbell. She had also heard a first hand account of the last stand at Gallipoli.

Jan 17th [1916]

5.30 service, and then I ran down to the Rest Room & found we were to expect 40 sailors tonight and 60 soldiers, the sailors at 11 pm and the troops at 6 am. So the Canteen had to be replenished & sufficient help made sure.

This morning I had to prepare for the Red Cross Work Room tomorrow, and ghet a cupboard for material, & I collected cutters out to prepare the work, and I cannot tell you how willing and good people have been – and you were right to encourage me. I know nothing more of the town row and the investigation, but evidently my Room is not to be interfered with. I hear rumours of the Enquiry and of the town talk over it….

I saw Colonel Collingwood today for a few minutes. He is always full of enquiry for you, and loves to think of you in Egypt.

The papers are full of indigestible matter, and the accounts from the Tigris will give Aunt Syb a worse horror, for the fighting must have been very severe and one dreads that there must have been delay in moving the wounded down. Aunt Eve has now seen Aunt Syb, and very anxious we should see her, but no, she refused to see dad, & writes, “he will understand”. I think it best to keep away. They all have a shunning of religious expression, and it does so hurt him and puzzles him – dear darling Dad with such a longing to love and to comfort and to help.

I hear of Uncle Henry gone to to the Front from Eisa Middleton, and I do dread its risks for anyone of his age. He goes as the head of the Northern Territorial Division, but for how long I do not know.
Darling, I do so love your New Year’s Eve letter, and when I can bear it more I read it, but letters make me so hungry for you. I so understand all you feel about the Dardanelles, and there was the great venture and the quest. It might have come off, but if the Allies had got to Constantinople it would not have prevented the Balkan imbroglio? And our troops and ships would have been unable to prevent Salonika becoming a base – in the end I believe it will save bloodshed and massacre that the fall of Constantinople is postponed.

We have been seeing here parents of a boy who was left in the rear guard on that night of the evacuation, and I have seen a wonderful letter he wrote to his mother, with the evident belief it would be his goodbye to her. He tells her to think always of the honour done to his family he should be in that lot, and now the Brigadier had given each man his choice, of the chance, little or none of their getting away. Another a wonderful account of the final run for life, 3 miles, while time fuses & bombs were still going off from every part of the trenches. A wonderful story told with the simple joy of the venture, & of the miracle of escape, of a boy of 21.

“That nothing be lost” and in the gathering up of the fragments of that wonderful story the glory of England is not dimmed, and this war will not be won on so many acres of material soil, but by the spirit which is to overcome and master the Brute Beast – a spiritual warfare, and you are all raising and lifting the spirit of man as it has never been raised before, for this, I believe final assault, when Satan is unloosed, to bring in the glorious shout that is to sound through Heaven and an earth renewed – “Hallelujah – for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth”.

I think of you in Egypt, and love to think of you there and hearing the muezzin call to prayer and the still sunlight in the depths of space, the stars and the moonlight, the littleness of European civilisation, and dwarf Roman the parvenu Latin peoples. Is the world war to have an end where east and west shall meet?…

A business/political acquaintance also wrote to Ralph:

1 Howard Street
Strand
London, WC
17th January 1916

Dear Capt. Glyn

I hope you are fit again. I heard you had a bad attack of dysentery at the Dardanelles.

How awfully sad Ivar Campbell’s death is. It must be a terrible blow to the family.

Yours sincerely
Robert Pollock

Letters to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3; C32/2)

‘Abide with me’ sung by a large number of men in a cave, with the shells rattling overhead.

The Maidenhead parish magazine had a number of reports relating to the religious effects of the war.

Prebendary Carlile at the Front.

Prebendary Carlile, who has recently returned from a visit to France, where his special mission was to inspect the work of the Church Army near the Front, paid a high tribute to the devoted women who are working with the Royal Army Medical Corps and British Red Cross, and also to the clerical chauffeurs who are driving some of the Church Army ambulance cars. The tenderness and care of the wounded which they display came, he said, as a revelation to him. The same spirit of self-sacrifice for others was seen in the Church Army rest-huts and clubs. Before his return Dr. Carlile had the perhaps unique experience of standing between the Bishop of Birmingham and a Russian bishop and grasping a hand of each. This he hopes may be a symbol of the new knowledge and sympathy which has been aroused between the two countries and Churches.

The Sacrament in a “Dug-out.”

The parish magazine of St. Andrew’s, Plymouth, contains an interesting letter from the Rev. R. H. Fulford, who is acting as Chaplain to the Forces in the Dardanelles :-

“Services in the trenches,” he says, “are difficult to arrange, as we are under constant fire. Yet I have administered the Sacrament in my dug-out to as many as the place would comfortably hold, and have often spoken to men individually and in small groups in the firing-line itself, and, of course, at the fixed ambulance station. Here there is a large natural cave, and on Sunday evening it was good to hear ‘Abide with me’ sung by a large number of men, with the shells rattling overhead. We had a wonderful service in the dark just before landing on the Peninsula, and it gave us the greater courage to meet the heavy shell-fire which greeted us. Any day you may see men openly reading their New Testaments in the trenches and elsewhere, and many and earnest prayers are said from the heart. Last week I was burying a fellow, when the corporal told me that the fatigue party, of which the dead man had been one, after a heavy shelling had got under cover and gone down on their knees and thanked God for their escape. We live here upon the threshold of two worlds much more consciously than in ordinary life, and England will be the better for the return of her Army in its present spirit. Of course, there are dull and foolish ones even in the tightest corners; but, at any rate, the question of life and death has to be faced, and in most cases the religious answer carries conviction and comfort.”

Church Training Colleges and the War.

The recently issued Report of the National Society contained some striking figures with regard to the part played in the War by the Training Colleges of the Church of England. From these figures it would appear that there are some three thousand past and present students and members of the staffs of eleven Training Colleges serving with the Colours, of whom some 250 hold commissions. Even more striking, however, is the number of students who were called out on the mobilisation of the Territorial Force. These numbered over 800, and would doubles have exceeded 1,000 but for the fact that in the case of two Colleges difficulties arose when the old Volunteers were disbanded and the new Territorial Force was created.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, November 1915 (D/P181/28A/24)

“Why is the atmosphere of life more cheerful nearer to all the horrors and ugliness of modern war than it is behind?”

Ralph Glyn had political ambitions, and the College constituency in Glasgow was being nursed for him. He had narrowly lost the 1910 election to a Liberal (he was a Conservative/Unionist). While serving in the army he delivered a lengthy statement to those he viewed as future constituents. Unfortunately for him and all his work, the constituency was abolished before the 1918 election. The paper itself, however, is an interesting insight into the views of an intelligent officer into attitudes at home and at the front.

GHQ
MEF
November 1915

I have been asked by one or two friends in the College Division to write a letter that may be a link between so many old friends of those former days, when Peace was not understood, and myself. To do this as I would wish by personal letter my work here will not allow. I must ask everyone who reads these lines to believe how sincere are my wishes for as happy a New Year as these days permits to be theirs.

I write these lines because I have always been open with my friends in Glasgow, and I believe you will all understand how it is impossible to write “news”.

There are many who have been all the time in France, or in Gallipoli, whilst some have been in both theatres of operations; but there are few officers now who have not spent some time at home, either wounded, or on leave or duty, and so it is possible to take a comprehensive survey of men, matters and means.

The newspapers are the only medium between the Public and events that happen behind the veil of the censor. Letters from friends and relations pass from the Front to those at home producing for a period a clear gleam of light – sometimes too vivid – of what is fact and reality at one small point of that vague term “The Front”. The days are shortening, the winter with all its horrors is close upon us and we are all well aware that if only something could be lifted the Future would be brighter and more easy to face. To arrive at any satisfactory conclusion we must try and see things as they are – undisguised but very possibly naked and ashamed. No time should be lost in establishing both at “the front” and at “the back” a “New Feeling” based upon the firm belief that at last true bearings have been taken, the clouds have lifted and the sun seen long enough to enable the exact position of the ship to be located, and that each and all having but the one port open to them are determined, in spite of all stress of weather, to reach their destination without undue delay.

Why is the atmosphere of life more cheerful nearer to all the horrors and ugliness of modern war than it is behind? There is nothing in any trench in France or Gallipoli to equal the gloom of many a house at home. The individual man is happy when he knows he is doing “his bit” and has that feeling down his back of something worthy of accomplishment being well done. But this same feeling should animate those miners, munition-workers, ship-builders and all that other host at home, whose work is as vital to the war’s success as any gallant action in the trenches. Why is there this feeling of unrest and mistrust in so many quarters? “Out here”, be it in France or Gallipoli, this war acts in one way all the time and without variation. The Regular Army has almost ceased to exist as it was before the war. Officers and men have fallen and others have taken their place. The tradition of a great regiment holds all the new comers in its sway and the magic mantle of “esprit de corps” stirs through the new blood of the recruit, officer and man, tempering and making him part of the original stock. The Reserve ceased to exist when war began; because by our system the fighting force of the country, Regular and Reserve, were and are one and indivisible. Any gunner will tell you that had it not been for the “dug out” the new armies could not have been born. The “dug out” has much to bear from the gibes of younger men who too often assume that all “dug outs” must be musty and old, stupid and out of date, but he can console himself with the knowledge that without him the Regular serving soldiers could not have kept the machine running.
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Make the Wargrave Roll of Honour perfect

Many parishes regularly published a Roll of Honour of those serving. One of these was Wargrave, and July saw the publication of Part 2 of their list:

The Roll of Honour for The Parish of Wargrave

Luker, Ernest, VIII Hussars
F Mance, Robert. Army Services Corps.
F Milford, John. R.F.A.
F Morse, George. Royal Berks Regt.
F Nicholl, Charles. Major. Oxfordshire Hussars.
Nicholl, Kenneth. Capt. Welsh Fusiliers
F Nicholls, Albert. Royal Berks Regt
Noble, Eric Heatley. 2nd Lieut. Grenadier Guards
Noble, Norris Heatley. 2nd Lieut. Kings Royal Rifles
F Ogbourne, Harry. 1st Life Guards.
F Over, Reginald. Lce-Corp. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Parritt, William John. Lce-Corp R.E.
Paget, Colin. Wiltshire Territorials
F Perry, George Edwin. Scotch Greys
Piggott, George. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Pithers, James. VIII Royal Berks Regt
Plested, Herbert. Royal Berks Regt
Plested, Albert. Royal Berks Regt
Plowman, Thomas Austen. Berks Yeomanry
Porter, Albert E. Army Service Corps
F Pugh, Ernest. Royal Berks Regt
Rhodes, John Edward. Lt-Col. Princess Beatrice’s Isle of Wight Rifles
Rhodes, Wilfred. Major. Provost Marshal on Staff
F Rhodes, Victor. Capt. Late Sherwood Foresters
Remnant, John. Lieut. Royal Berks Regt
Rayner, John. 2nd Lieut. Royal Berks Regt
Reid, George William. Royal Berks Regt
Richardson, Fred. Berks Yeomanry
Rideout, Henry Randall. Expeditionary Force’s Canteen
Rixon, Charles. Royal Berks Regt
F Rixon, Walter. Royal Berks Regt
Rufey, William. Royal Berks Regt
F Shepherd, Henry. Capt. IX C of London Regt
F Schuster, Leonard Francis. Lieut. 3rd County of London Yeomanry
Sinclair, Gerald John. 2nd Lieut. Black Watch
Sanson, Gordon Ralph. Hon. Artillery Co.
F Sharp, Ernest Gladstine. VIII Dragoon Guards
Sharp, Samuel. Lee-Corp. Welsh Fusiliers
F Sharp, William. Army Service Corps
Shaw, George. Royal Berks Regt
F Shersby, Edward. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Sherwood, Fred. Royal Berks Regt
Silver, Frank. Army Services Corps
Silver, Harry. R.F.A.
F Silvey, Stephen. R.A.M.C.
Slatter, T. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Slattery, Udolph Wolfe. 2nd Lieut. IX West Kent Regt
Smith, George Frederick. Veterinary Corps
Stanbridge, Albert. Irish Fusiliers
F Stone, Samuel Philip. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
F Swanborough, Alfred. Army Services Corps
F Symons-Jeune, Bertram. Lieut. Army Service Corps
Talbot, Arthur. Corpl. IInd Royal Berks Regt
F Talbot, Anthony George. XCIIth Lancers
F Talbot, Albert. Army Services Corps
Tigwell, Monty. Royal Berks Regt
F Watson, Burton. Major. 107th Pioneers, Indian Army
F Watson, Cyril. Captain. Middlesex Husaars
Walsh, Gordon Herbert. Lieut. Royal Sussex Regt
Wakefield, Caleb. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Wakefield, Cecil. Royal Berks Regt
F Warby, Albert H. XIIth Lancers
F Webb, George. Rifle Brigade
Weller, David. R.F.A.
Woodruff, Charles Herbert. Xth Regt Cavelry

Warren Row In the Parish of Knowl Hill

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A serious and urgent matter

The rush to join up had left many voluntary organisations short of staff, and churches were no exception, as Newbury discovered. Even women were in shorter supply than usual. But that did not stop the rector from encouraging still more to join up.

We need several more Sunday School Teachers for the Boys’ School and for the Infants School, and the Rector will be glad to receive the names of volunteers. We also need some more men in the Choir. Of course we know that a number of men have left to join the forces, and that a number of women are busily engaged during the week in work for their country and the soldiers: yet this is not the time to let things get slack at the Church and it ought to be a point of honour with the parishioners to keep everything connected with their Parish Church at a high pitch of excellence.

May we once more remind our readers and the parishioners generally of the duty of regularly attending the Parish Church during the War, and of taking part in the frequent intercessions which are used there. The special prayers at Evensong on Sunday are now said at the Altar after the Sermon – they are also used at all the daily services – and are there not a number of those who have relatives at the Front, and who therefore need much encouragement in their anxiety, who might try to come to either the Wednesday or Friday night choral evensong at 7.30pm, when they would be cheered by the bright service?

The Editor will be glad to receive any news from the Front, which relations of men may care to send to him for insertion in the Parish Magazine. There are now a large number of our young men in the forces, and we have a long list of names on the Intercession Board at the Church. It is a great pleasure to see our old boys at home on leave looking so fit and well, and it is clear that the training and discipline which they receive is a splendid thing for them. All honour be to them for their courage and self-sacrifice. We should like to congratulate Lieut. Mayers on his promotion to be Captain, and the two Messrs. Belcher, Mr. Masters and Mr. Swinley, on obtaining their commission.

We had a large invasion of soldiers one week in May, and the resources of Newbury in the matter of billeting was severely taxed. There were over 20 men in S. Hilda’s mission room, and 95 in the Parish Room, and we all, who were privileged to entertain them in our houses, found them most quiet and well-behaved guests. The men in the Parish Room were well cared for by Mr. & Mrs. Stillman, and were very grateful for the attention which they received; they were all given, while there, an extra pair of socks, and thanks are due to all those who kindly provided powder for the men’s feet. They badly needed these things after their long marches in the wet. Before leaving the men contributed, as a thank-offering, to the Parish Nursing Work Box. May God watch over them all and bless them.

The Inns Of Court Officers Training Corps
The Rector has been appointed as one of the local representatives of the above, and is prepared to give forms containing the necessary information to suitable applicants. This Form states that “It is to be understood that all men joining this Corps are willing to take Commissions in the Special Reserve, the New Army, or the Territorial Force, as soon as they are sufficiently trained. No one is accepted without a personal interview with the Commanding Officer, and every candidate must be passed by the Medical Officer of the Corps.” The great and lamentable loss in officers that has taken place must make it clear that the provision of officers is a very serious and urgent matter for the prosecution of the war.

Newbury parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P89/28A/13)

Harrowing scenes with maddened mothers desperate to reach wounded sons abroad

Cambridge don John Maxwell Image wrote to the wife of his friend W F Smith, who was living abroad, with a report on the rush to get passports in order to attend a dying son’s hospital bed.

TCC [Trinity College, Cambridge]
Thursday 29 April 1915

My dear Mrs Smith

Here in England Passport Photographs are being turned out by the thousand – owing to the accursed War. A lady friend of mine whose son – his battalion (Rifle Brigade) will not go out till next month – has already had hers done, to enable her to start at the first moment’s notice for the French Hospital where she foresees the boy will be lying, directly after he has entered the deadly Trenches.

The Photographer at Harrods, who is being worked to death, describes to her the heart-rending interviews he has to undergo with maddened mothers imploring him to produce in a couple of hours the likeness without which the passport is unable to bring her to receive, perhaps, the dying words of the wounded son. The scenes are harrowing, he says.

The world was at peace – Germany itself (despite the wolf lurking secret under every German fleece) would have kept peace, but for these malign Prussian robber-savages.

Who, so prate our Prigs, must not be “humiliated”, or even penalized for their crime.

Leave Prussia unbroken, and let our children, half a century hence, be destroyed by a fresh and bloodier hurricane of these same villains, when maybe there are no France and Russia at their side.

How strange to you would seem Cambridge as an armed camp. We, by this time, are inured to it. Full term is on – yet the streets swarm with khaki only – massed Regiments in the Great Court two or three times a day – the streets blocked with Paddocks echoing to drill – and the River at the backs alive with canoes and punts of an afternoon.

Yesterday, for the first time since January 26, we were allowed electric light, instead of candles, to eat our dinner by: and this with only one half the regular number of burners.

No light in the Great Court (you’ve no conception of the grace and majesty of the buildings seen under the full moon).

St Mary’s Clock restarted its chimes on Easter Sunday, but by daylight only. Silent all the night. A week ago the Trinity Clock resumed striking the Hour, with both voices, but not the Quarters: and by day only.

At 1 pm for the last week a huge hooter has emitted its gigantic wailing, heard all over the Town: this is merely to teach the populace. When that hooter shall rouse us from slumber, it will imply a Zeppelin over Cambridge…

The German war book owns that there is no check save the fear of Reprisals – which they have no dread of from England, the flabby. Possibly France and Russia may be less squeamish.

The 2nd battalion of the Monmouths (how different from the first battalion!) evacuated Whewell’s Courts on the 21st – leaving such filth behind them – broken windows, smashed doors and electric fittings, scribbled walls, etc, that the Junior Bursar demanded over £100 damages before he would consent to admit another Regiment. That Regiment was only a couple of hours off, and the billeting officer was at his wits’ end to put them anywhere else – so the terms were granted.

The Regiment in question is the 4th Royal Surrey – a very different set of men. The finest and best drilled Territorials I ever saw. Their Colonel, Campion (Unionist MP for Lewes, New College, Oxon) – sat next me in Hall, and is as nice a fellow as his Regiment are “smart and snappy”….

I respect the autocratic eraser too much to give you any of the hundred thrilling rumours (or canards) hovering around us. Will he suffer me to say that we lie under a rotten ministry?

Love to both
Affectionately

Bild [nickname]

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don (D/EX801/1)

We are nothing better than worms – but mustn’t grumble!

Sunday 4 April 1915 was Easter Day. The parishioners of Reading St John (now the Polish Catholic Church) had sent Easter greetings to their young men at the Front. It resulted in a number of letters from the recipients describing their experiences.

Letters from the Front: replies to our Easter letters and cards.

Cards similar to those recently seen on the Church notice boards were sent with covering letters for Easter to some fifty men at the front at the request of their relatives. The following are extracts from some of the replies received by the Vicar:-

A Terrible War.
Here is a much-needed reminder of the seriousness of our task:
‘Two of my men I laid to rest yesterday, just put their heads too far over the parapet; of course killed instantly. It is a terrible business and we are nothing better than worms, dug in and stop there, but hope that happier times are in store and very soon. We all hope and pray for it every day. I don’t think the people at home quite realise what a gigantic task we have; but we mustn’t grumble, but do it.’- GILES AYRES.

Valued Cards.
‘I wish to thank you very much for the good thoughts and wishes of yourself and everyone who remembered us on Easter Day. Thank you very much for the card. I am sending it home to-day so that I shall not lose it.’- A. L. BLAKE.

‘The card you sent me I have hung on to the wall and it shall go where I go. I shall always remember Good Friday, the day I received it.’- D. CAMPBELL.

Neuve Chapelle.
Speaking of the welcome letter just received, the writer adds: ‘Just lately we have been engaged in a big battle at Neuve Chapelle, and it was something awful and also a terrible loss on the German side.’- L.H. CROOK. (more…)

Former choirboys risk their lives

Our Soldiers and Sailors

Owing to the length of the special service on Wednesdays in Lent it has not been possible to read out the long lists of our sailors and soldiers, as was done before Lent commenced. This will resume after Easter, and as more and more are leaving from the Home list to the list on active service. Upon these two lists at the present time are the names of several past and present members of the choir and servers at the altar. It is a pleasure to recall them and to say a word about each of them, and in doing so, where possible we have added the date they joined the choir.

Of the present members of the choir are the following:-
Mr Leonard Goodenough, in old days a keen Territorial, of whom, as his home is not in Reading, unfortunately we have heard nothing; Mr Alfred William Long, server and alto singer, who has joined the Army Service Corps and is believed to be now on his way to the Dardanelles; Mr Leslie Grinsted (1907), formerly leader of the trebles, 4th Berks Territorials; Mr Lewis Hawkes (1900), and his brother Mr Septimus Hawkes, the former of whom is serving in the Army Pay Department, and the latter, long time Acolyte in our church, training at Sandhurst Military College; Mr F Grinsted (1892) and Mr F C Sturges (1903) both serving at the supply depot in Reading.

On the list of former choir boys are many who have seen considerable service and have done well. Of these we recall the following names:- Harry Taylor (1904) who has served since August in France with the his regiment, the 1st Life Guards, Frank Washbourne Earley (1907), George William Goodson (1907), Albert George Rider (1893), Sergeant, and a keen Territorial before the war broke out, now made Company Sergeant, his brother Frederick Rider (1909) Clifford Salman, 2nd Lieutenant, and for many years one of our Acolytes, all in the Royal Berkshire Regiment; George Hayward(1902), Recruiting Sergeant at the Butts; Ralph Pusey (1907), of the Grenadier Guards, of whom to our great sorrow nothing has been definitely heard for some months, except the sad fact that he was wounded and missing in October last; Reginald Charles Sturgess (1899), 1st class gunner in the Gunnery section of the West Kent Yeomanry, also an enthusiastic solider in the RHA Territorials before the war; Claude Taylor (1901) and his brother Sydney (1902) of whom the former is leading seaman on the destroyer Ambuscade and took part in the famous fight of Helioland, and the latter a Corporal in the 56th Field Company of RE who was mentioned in despatches and recommended for conspicuous bravery. In the RE also, as despatch rider, is Thomas Pilkington Norris (1901), Sergeant and twice mentioned in despatches. Frederick Charles Edwards (1905) H.M.S. Triumph who took part in the bombardment of Tsing-tau, and is now with his ship in the Dardanelles; and his brother William Stanley Edwards who has recently joined the Navy as a Writer.

Some of this long list will be remembered only by a few, yet what hearty wishes and earnest prayers follow them as they go forth to defend our nation, to fight, and risk, their lives fighting, for us at home who can only follow them in our thoughts and prayers that they might be mercifully protected from all that may hurt them.

Earley parish magazine, April 1915 (D/P192/28A/13)

A couple of fools

The war prompted many young courting couples to bring forward their weddings. William Hallam comments caustically on an acquaintance whose teenage son, a Reading shop assistant, had joined the Territorial Army, leaving an even younger bride pregnant. Heelas’ department store is now John Lewis.

17th March 1915
Mrs H. called in this evening. She is full of trouble & well may be, her son Frank, 19 years old, is married – secretly – expecting a family already, and has joined the Terriers, and hasn’t a ½d. His wife is only 18, they were both in Heelas’ shop in Reading – a couple of fools.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/23)

A special case: Percy gets his transfer

At long last, Percy Spencer’s long-awaited transfer from Kitchener’s Army, in which he had too hastily enlisted at the start of the war, to the Territorial Unit he had been ‘temporarily’ attached almost ever since, made it through the red tape – just in time for him to go to the Front with them. (Technically he wasn’t transferred – he was discharged with the understanding that he would automatically re-enlist.)

9/London Regiment/97
Sir,

I am directed to inform you that if Private Spencer of the Gloucestershire Regiment were allowed to remain with the 2nd Battalion, the London Regiment, difficulties might arise in connection with the issue of his pay, especially if the Brigade of which the Battalion forms part whould be sent overseas.

In these circumstances I am to state that sanction is hereby given for the discharge as a special case of Private Spencer from the Regular Army in order that he may be enlisted into one of the Battalions of the 6th London Infantry Brigade.

I am
Sir
Your obedient servant
Gerald Adshead, Captain, for Director of Recruiting

The General Officer Commanding,
London District,
Horse Guards, SW
8/3/15

Letter permitting the discharge of Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/12/31)

Germans in England claim to be Swiss

Florence Vansittart Neale and her Admiralty official husband Henry, owner of Bisham Abbey, were holidaying on the Isle of Wight, but kept in touch with war news.

28 February 1915

To Trinity – saw telegram of Dardanelles outer fort destroyed. “Queen Elizabeth” there. Heard from [illegible] officer there last Friday. Went to tea with Venables. Watched “Mine destroyers”, also ship at night – queer lights.

Heard new ship “Queen Eliz:” at Dardanelles. Three times put back – spies on board – narrow risk of explosion – changed suddenly whole of crew.

German here (Ventnor) Freemasons tavern always a German before the war, now says Swiss & put up sign “Hier spricht man Suisse”. V’s tell me a German tailor opposite called Fess – also man “Spenser” with motor boats & pilot boats for hire in secret service here. Rumoured also in German Secret Service. Had German uniform & refuses to let any of his sons fight for England. (Wrote Sir G. Greene March 21st.)

Heard from Mrs Sholto Douglas at that air raid in Essex, bombs fell only 200 yards from barracks (artillery) – full of terriers.

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

Entertaining soldiers

More Territorial soldiers from Kent had been in east Berkshire over the winter and were now moving on.

Ascot
TERRITORIALS.
A large number of our Territorials, to our regret, left Ascot for Chatham on January 26th. They bought with them unaccustomed brightness to our ordinarily quiet Ascot. They are a fine, well-conducted body of men, and all Ascot wishes them GOD speed. The Army Service Corps still remains with us for a time. We understand that a contingent of Lord Kitchener’s Army may be shortly expected here.

Cranbourne
The West Kent Territorials left us on Tuesday, January 26th . They introduced into what has been described as “this dull village of Winkfield” a certain liveliness. We do not imagine we are able to compete with the “resources of civilisation” of a town like Maidstone; still we all tried to do our best to mitigate the alleged dullness.

The Sunday School was converted into a Recreation and refreshment room, water was laid on, gas stoves introduced, games and newspapers provided, concerts arranged, and the “inner man” was generously catered for. Mrs. Creasy and Mrs Maywell-Williams devoted a large part of each day to the commissariat. Their labours were much appreciated, at any rate by the soldiers, who very often expressed their thanks. Other ladies from this Parish and from Winkfield and Ascot were in attendance from 4 to 7 p.m. each evening, and the members of the C.E.M.S. and their lady friends took their place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and, helped by the Scouts, washed up and generally tidied the room after the soldiers had left. The cost of preparing the room and the expenses connected with the lighting, heating and cleaning the room amounts to about £20, towards which the following subscriptions have been received: Mr. Asher, £5; Mrs. Barron, £2 1s. 0d; Col. Cross (for newspapers), 10-; Mrs. Foster, £1; the Misses Ravenhill, £1.

The Cranbourne Reading Room in North Street was also thrown open to the Soldiers without charge, and there they met with a hearty welcome. Several ladies in the neighbourhood also provided concerts and entertainments.

We are grateful to those Soldiers who so kindly helped us in the Choir at the Parade Service and at Matins and Evensong.

Ascot and Cranbourne sections of Winkfield District Magazine, February 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/2)