Boating and bowls

Another group of wounded soldiers enjoyed a lovely summer’s day at Bisham Abbey.

13 August 1917

Had wounded soldiers – 16 of them. Fine day boating & bowls. Stayed [until] 7.30!

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

By boat from Cliveden

A group of wounded soldiers recuperating at Cliveden visited Bisham by boat.

strong>30 July 1917
Wounded from Cliveden came by launch.

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

Armed ships on the Thames

Even the River Thames was now regarded as a dangerous place.

10 December 1916

Mrs Martin tells me her niece tells her, whose husband works in Woolwich, all merchant ships go down the Thames now as mid guns each end.

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

No April fooling in the shadow of air raids

Air raids were a worrying experience for people at home – even if they were not directly affected.

Florence Vansittart Neale
1 April 1916

Papers & letters very late owing to Zepps – big raid over east coast. 5 Zepp: altogether. One brought down in Thames – crew captured….

Wire saying Bubs safe at Boulogne. Also letter from her from Folkestone.

Community of St John Baptist
1 April 1916

Air raid during past night in some parts of the country. Stricter orders as to lights.

William Hallam
1st April 1916

I had just gone up to bed at 10 last night when the hooter blew a Zepp warning but still, I was not at all anxious but got into bed and went to sleep although the rest were nervous. No April fooling here now to-day.

To night I put 4£ in P. B. bank and 15/6 in War Saving Certif.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5);
Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/24)

Bugle needed for the Church Lads’ Brigade

The semi-military boys’ group, the Church Lads’ Brigade, was flourishing in Wargrave.

St Peter’s Church Lad’s Brigade Company: No. 3184, 4th Battalion Oxford Regiment

The Parades have been well attended during the month (with exception of Whit-Monday, when several were absent without leave, and some were at work).

The Company turned out for Chuch Parade at Knowl Hill on Whit Sunday. On Whit Monday the Company went for a Route March and had a most enjoyable day, the weather being very fine.

The first halt was made at Marlow where a short time was spent. After this they made for Quarry Woods [in Bisham], where, under the shade of trees and overlooking the Thames, they devoured the contents of their haversacks. After this a free and easy march was made for Cookham and from thence to Maidenhead in full order. Here the Company stayed for tea and a look round. After falling in once more Littlewick was reached where the boys were dismissed.

There was a good turn up for Church Parade at Littlewick on June 20th, 1915. After the service the Company were inspected by the Chaplain, The Rev. T. Wrenford.

It is hoped that the boys will distinctly understand that it is against the rules for a member to be absent without leave.

A Parishioner has kindly offered to supply one of two needed bugles, if another will give the second.

Wargrave parish magazine, July 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

Children watch soldiers practise building pontoons

The children of Purley had an outing to watch soldiers based in the area practise building pontoons across the River Thames. There was some doubt about the educational value of this trip, as the school log book records:

19th April 1915The children, forty in number, were taken along the river bank, nearly to Pangbourne, at 1.45pm to watch the soldiers build rival pontoons.

Copy of letter received from the Education Secretary [not actually received until 23 April]:

“I have seen HM Inspector and have talked over the proposed school visit to the Pontooning Ground. He agrees with me that it is difficult to lay down any rule as to the educational value of such visits, as this must depend on the way in which the teacher deals with the subject. In this case he would not with-hold consent, but would expect the teacher to take the whole of the upper school according to their class or classes and to give a lesson beforehand to teach them what they had to observe and a lesson after the visit during which they would record what they had seen. The teacher’s notes should be presented to show the character of the instruction. If Miss Reed is prepared to conduct her visit in this way, HM Inspector will not raise any objection to is being counted as a school meeting”.

Purley CE School log book (C/EL85/2, p. 74)

River maintenance suspended

River maintenance seems to have come to a halt as a result of the war. Hugh Russell, representative of Berkshire County Council on the Thames Conservancy Board, reported as follows:

In common with other Authorities, the Conservators were affected by the War, and as about 100 of their employees were called up for service with the Forces, some of the works in hand, such as dredging and weed cutting, &c, had to be temporarily suspended. The Conservators were requested by the War Office, and other Authorities, to take measures for the protection of certain railway bridges, and other important points, and the measures taken met with the approval of the Army Council, who wrote to Lord Desborough, the chairman of the Board, expressing their appreciation and thanks for the steps which had been taken.

Hugh W Russell
18th January 1915

Report to Berkshire County Council (C/CL/C1/1/18)

Wounded soldiers on the Thames

Not all the patients at Bisham Abbey were helplessly confined to bed. It was rather a concern when two of the young Belgians decided on an impromptu boat trip on the Thames.

17 December 1914

Patients went on river! Caught by orderly.

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

Thousands of police reservists and Special Constables sign up

The Chief Constable and the Clerk of the Peace informed the Standing Joint Committee of the County Council and Quarter Sessions of the effects of the war on the police force and the Clerk’s department.

10 October 1914
CHIEF CONSTABLE’S REPORT

On the outbreak of the war the two boarded-out horses from the 11th Hussars were, at the request of the Military Authorities, returned to Aldershot….

The allowances to the wives of Police Constables recalled to Army service are, I now understand, to be altered from the 1st October, 1914, by an increased allowance from Army funds…

As regards the single Constables, I would ask that some consideration may be made them… I would, therefore recommend that the following three unmarried Constables (Army Reservists) who were recalled to the Army for service on 5th and 6th August, 1914, and who have been regularly contributing for their mothers’ support should be granted the allowance of 7/- per week:-
PC 36, George A. Eales
PC 163, Philip Hubbard
PC 214, Harry Easton
and that the money be paid monthly to the mother in each case.

Since the date of your last meeting in August, I have called up one more Police Reservist to take the place of a Police Constable called upon to resign. The total of First Police Reservists now serving is therefore 44.

Formation of a Police Special Reserve.
I beg to report that on the outbreak of war the duties of the Police were increased out of all proportion to the strength of the Force. It was necessary to recall all those away on annual leave and to suspend the weekly rest day. Forty-four 1st Police Reservists have since then been called up for duty. The demands on the time of the Officers and Constables have been very great, consequent on the necessity for continuous watching of the main bridges over the Thames, the railway lines, the requisition of Police by the Military Authorities for mobilization, purchase of horses, vehicles, and billeting, and the posting and distribution of many Orders. The registration and watching of alien enemies under the Aliens Act, 1914, further added important duties for the Police to carry out.
In order that the Police might get some assistance at such a time I issued a Special Constables appeal, a copy of which is attached.
Consequent on this appeal I received the very greatest help and assistance throughout the County, and especially as regards the guarding and watching of the bridges (railway and main road), the railways, waterworks, lighting works and other vulnerable points; and as a result of this splendid and patriotic response to my appeal, I have now a Berks Police Special Reserve Force of nearly four thousand (4,000) under the following organization:-
Chief Organizing Officer Colonel F. C. Ricardo, CVO
Assistant Chief Organising Officer Colonel W. Thornton
Divisional Officer, Abingdon and Wallingford Police Division
Colonel A. M. Carthew-Yorstoun, CB
Divisional Officer, Faringdon Division Francis M. Butler, esq.
Divisional Officer, Maidenhead Division Heatley Noble, esq.
Divisional Officer, Newbury Division (vacant)
Divisional Officer, Hungerford Sub-division Colonel Willes
Divisional Officer, Reading Division (vacant)
Divisional Officer, Wantage Division E. Stevens, esq.
Divisional Officer, Windsor Division Colonel F. Mackenzie, CB
Divisional Officer, Wokingham Division Admiral Eustace, RN

To all these Officers I am very much indebted for their valuable help and voluntary service in this organization. The efficiency of our organization is entirely due to their energetic work.

This Force has for several weeks been drilling and doing patrol work in conjunction with the Police in many parts of the county. Classes of instruction in first aid to the injured are being formed, and miniature rifle ranges are being used by the kind permission of the owners, and new ones about to be given for such use.

We have been careful to exclude from the Reserve all those who are eligible for and whose circumstances permit of them joining the Army.

I have further received great help from the Berkshire Automobile Club, and owners of motor cars generally throughout the county, in placing motor cars at the disposal of the Police when required.

I would ask your authority to swear in a total number of Special Constables not exceeding 2,000, and to provide the necessary batons, whistles and chains, armlets and other necessary articles of equipment…. Under these conditions of appointment of Special Constables, the service is a voluntary and unpaid one.

A report by the Clerk of the Peace with regard to his staff was presented as follows:-

Gentlemen
I have to report that in consequence of the War, the following members of my staff are absent on service:-
H. U. H. Thorne, Deputy Clerk of the Peace Captain, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
E. S. Holcroft, Assistant Solicitor Captain, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
R. G. Attride, Assistant Solictor (Mental Deficiency Act)
Lieutenant, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
H. P. Tate, Senior Clerk, Taxation Department Private, Honorable Artillery Company
F. J. Ford, Clerk, Taxation Department Gunner, Berks Royal Horse Artillery
J. A. Earley, Clerk Private, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
J. A. Callow, Clerk Private, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment

Mr Tate is actually abroad on active service and the remainder have all volunteered for foreign service.

In consequence of the great depletion of my staff, I have, after consultation with the Staff Purposes Committee, arranged with Mr C. G. Chambers, of the firm of Blandy & Chambers, Solicitors, Reading, to assist me in the legal work during the absence of the Deputy Clerk and the Assistant Solicitors…
It has also been necessary for me to make temporary arrangements for the clerical work and I have engaged the following:-

Miss M. A. Burgess, Shorthand-Typist, at 12/6 per week from 7th September, 1914
Miss Norah Scrivener, Shorthand-Typist, at 10/- per week from 14th September, 1914
Stanley A. Bidmead, Office Boy, at 5/- per week from 1st September, 1914.

Standing Joint Committee minutes, 10 October 1914 (C/CL/C2/1/5)