Up to your eyes in mud and water – or a howling wilderness of desert sand

Reading men at the front write home with more news of their experiences, and hopes for the longed-for period after the war.

We still manage to keep smiling, with the hope that this war will soon come to an end. We are now (March 16th) at work loading and unloading material, and taking it up the line on the light railways. We have exciting times some days. I hope to have a leave before long, if all goes well. It is just on 12 months since I crossed the Herring Pond…

The weather out here has been like summer these last few days, but of course it is very cold in the early morning. It’s rotten out here when it is wet. The least drop of rain, and you are up to your eyes in mud and water…

G. Thatcher (OS)

I wonder if you have the same crush into your Soldiers’ Club as there is in all such places out here in the camp where I am working. At the YMCA here it is the usual thing to have half an hour queue wait to get a cup of cocoa in the evenings. All religious services on Sundays are full to overflowing three quarters of an hour before starting time, and it is advisable to get there an hour before time to get a seat. Needless to say concerts and lectures are as bad. I hope the Brotherhood is still flourishing. The attendance is, I magine, largely of greybeards – the old faithfuls. The choir is, I suppose, practically defunct for the present – awaiting a glorious resurrection when the boys come home…

With best wishes to all at Broad St.
Chas A. Grigg (OS)

I should just love to visit a place such as you have (the Soldiers’ Room) but my place at present is a howling wilderness of desert sand. We have done great work, the boys of the Berkshire Battery, for which we have been praised – also the Yeomanry, too…

This week we have had a very bad time for rain and wind. I have changed three times today (Feb 19th) owing to getting wet through. The towel you send me came into use directly I opened the parcel; and the other contents I can honestly say came in extremely useful. I am writing you the first letter out of the writing pad you also were good enough to send me…

Please give my fondest regards to the Brothers…

God bless and keep you all.

A. W. Slatter (OS)

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, September 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

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A marvellous escape from an airship crash

Broad Street Church kept in contact with all its men who had joined up.

News has now been received from Air-Mechanic Fred W. Warman to the effect that he is interned at Croningen in Holland. He was acting as wireless-operator in the air-ship which came down there, and had a marvellous escape. We are glad to know that he writes in a bright and cheerful strain, and that he is trying to make the best of things.

Flight Sub-Lieut W. R. Taper of the RNAS has been appointed for duty in Malta. It has been a pleasure to see him frequently in our midst in recent weeks. The good wishes of many friends at Broad Street will go with him as he takes up his new duties.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

Brother Woolley has consented to continue his good services by acting as correspondent with our members on service. This [is] a quiet piece of work which is bound to have its good results when things are normal again.

THE ROLL OF HONOUR

The list of our men who have responded to the call of God and King and Country. (more…)

Truly Mortimer has done well, and the workers have earned the handsome official War Worker badge

The Stratfield Mortimer women were particularly industrious, producing almost three times as many bandages and clothing for the troops as every other village in Bradfield Poor Law Union combined!

The War-Working Party

Some account of this important piece of the parish’s activity has been long overdue. Workers have been numerous and diligent, much being done at home in addition to what is accomplished at the meetings. Mrs. Alfred Palmer, as organiser, has been indefatigable; and the tedious work of much cutting out has been in the capable hands of Mrs. Thatcher, Mrs. Charles Thorp, and Miss Illman.

The grand total of articles made from Dec. 1915 to Mar. 1917 is as follows:- Shirts, 109; bed-jackets, 188; mufflers, 117; Helmets, 46; pairs of socks, 146; pairs of bed socks, 42; pairs of mittens, 281; bandages of various sorts, 785; total 1,714.

This noble total gains its real significance when it is added that the number of articles made in all the villages in the Bradfield Union during the first 12 months was only 6,459. Truly Mortimer has done well, and the workers have earned the handsome official W.W. badge which has been granted to many of them.

And now about funds. More than £50 has been received and spent up to last Xmas. Some £30 or £40 more is needed, and quickly too: material, and especially the flannel material, which is a necessity, is now so dear. Are there any who are unable to come and work, who can yet give – to the encouragement of the actual workers? Gifts, large or small, would be welcomed by Mrs. Roalfe Cox who is Hon. Treasurer. The committee is about to discuss methods of getting more money, as unless this can be speedily provided it may be necessary to cease even giving out work after the end of this month.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, April 1917 (D/P120/28A/14)

“Wargrave is to be congratulated in this time of War”

Several of the Wargrave church bellringers had joined up, but they were still keeping the peals ringing.

The Belfry:

A Meeting of the Belfry was held on Wednesday, December 27th.

There were present: the Vicar in the Chair, the Foreman (Mr. W. H. Easterling) and 11 members.

The official list of the Belfry now numbers 20 men.

Wargrave is to be congratulated in this time of War, both on having sent 4 Ringers to the Front and on having 14 men and lads still ready to ring the eight bells at home.

The names of the members and probationers are as follows, the names of those serving in His Majesty’s Forces are printed in Italics,

H. Attlesey W. Elsley F. Hanson S.P. Nash
G. Bayliss P. D. Elsley R. Lawrence J. Neighbour
W. Burrows E. Field E. Ladd E. Thatcher
A.E. Cox A. Guy F. Pocock C. F. Shersby
W. H. Easterling W. Herbert J. Preston

FINANCE
It appeared that the most important need, in regard to apparatus, was the provision of eight mats, to take the fall of the ropes as they touch the floor, and a set of Mufflers.

The Foreman was requested to enquire about the cost of suitable squares of carpet.

No resolution was passed in regard to Mufflers. It was suggested that if a set could in an emergency be borrowed from a neighbouring tower a purchase might be deferred until after the War.

Wargrave parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

“I don’t think we grudge these sons of ours if their death removes once and for all the horrors of war for future generations”

The vicar of Reading St Giles reported on the news of many young men from the town serving at the Front. Several had fallen in action.

Notes from the Vicar

To be added to the intercessions list:
Charles Barber (H.M.S. Ajax); lieut. James McNie Campbell, 12th Royal Scots; Lce. Corpl. E. Jardine, 5th R. Berks Rgt.; Trooper P.O. Jardine, Berkshire Yeomanry; Lieut. S.H. Jardine, 17TH R, Fusiliers; Private L.F.Jardine, 12th R Warwickshire Rgt; Ernest William Wheeler, R.F.C.; Fredk. H. Goddard, Queens Own Dorset Yeomanry; Leslie Victor Peirce, 3rd R. Berks; A. Williams, R. Fusiliers; Private Charles A. Bartlett, 1st Garrison Worcester Regt.; Private Henry Adams,1st Buffs; Lydall Savill, Eric Savill, Alfred Savill, Cyril May.

Sick and Wounded:
Corpl. Arthur Smith, C.G. Gutch, Private Albert Bendall, Private William Long, Private Leonard Smith, J. W. Redston, Private Ernest James Wise, Sergt. Clemetston, Private R. Crawford, Lieut. B. Lloyd, Drummer W.G. Stevens, Private C. Greaves, Private Thatcher, Departed: Lieut. T.G. Haughton, Capt. Bruce Smith-Masters, Driver R. Lund, R.F.A. Lieut. G.E. Maggs, Sergt. J. Eaton, Private Stanley Durman, Private Victor Burgess, Private Albert Bowley, Private T.J. Tollman, C.V. Tollman, R.N. Lieut. S. Sneider, Private G.H. Wellings.

We are sorry to hear that Sergt. R. Golding is among the “missing.”

Our sympathy goes out to the relatives and friends of these brave men who have so nobly done their duty. I should like to quote one sentence I received from a mother. “I don’t think we grudge these sons of ours if their death removes once and for all the horrors of war for future generations, as we trust it will; the only thing to do is to look steadily at the happiness of those who have passed.” They will always be remembered at S. Giles as their names are on the Roll of Honour.

I think a good many of you would like to read the letter sent by one of Captain Bruce Smith-Masters’ brother officers.

“Capt. Smith-Masters, who was my company Commander on active service for 15 months, was a magnificent type of the British Officer, as we know them. He was looked up to and admired by his Officers, and worshipped by his N.C.O’s and men. It was a tremendous shock to us to hear that he had been killed, as he went into the battle as cheerily as could be, and I certainly expected him to survive. He had been our constant companion for a long period of the campaign, and I think I am right in saying that he was the making of his company. Keen on sports by nature, and an athlete himself, he trained his men excellently, and was the means of their keeping fit. He always had an eye on their personal comfort, and anything that could be done for them, he did. In short, he was an awfully good fellow, and I am terribly sorry to think that he has gone. A finer company commander I never had, a keener officer never breathed.”

S. MICHAEL’S DISTRICT

To the list of the fallen in the war I have with great regret to add the names of Victor Burgess and Ernest Goddard. The deepest sympathy of us all goes out to the relations of these men and others on our list who have given their lives for their country.

Harold Baker is reported as missing in the recent fighting in Franc, but up to the moment of writing this has not been officially posted. We shall, I hope remember in our prayers his relations and friends, and others who are in anxiety and suspense because of the absence of definite news of their missing relations.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, August 1916 (D/P191/28A/24)

Former bellringers in the services to get pride of place in Wargrave

When the war broke out, the parish Wargrave had been in a state of disarray, as the church had been burnt down by an arsonist (believed to be a suffragette) earlier in 1914. By the time it had been repaired in 1915, the bellringing team had been broken up. It was revived in August 1915, with provision for those former bellringers who had joined up to be regarded as founder members of the new team.

The Belfry

A Public Meeting of Parishioners interested in bells and bell-ringing was summoned by the Vicar for Thursday, August 5th, and there was a good attendance.

The Vicar reminded the meeting that the Wargrave Ringers were in a peculiar position at the time of his institution in Nov. 1914.
Several had shown their patriotism by enlisting for the great war, the bells were broken and melted, the belfry was burned out, and there had been no ringing since the fire on Whitsunday 1914.

The Vicar, Churchwardens, and Ringers had then decided, in meeting, that after the gathering of the usual Christmas gifts from the parish, the Belfry should be dissolved and that it should make an entirely new beginning when the new bells were hung.

The eight bells had now been hung by Messrs Mears and Stainbank. A silencing apparatus was being fitted and the bells could be rung, without being heard outside the Belfry, as soon as the Architect could allow it.

It therefore seemed time to restart a Band of Ringers. The meeting was summoned in order that Ringers might be proposed and elected. When the Belfry Band was thus constituted the Belfry Members would proceed to consider their Rules. But certain preliminary rules should be passed by the whole meeting, to define the range and qualification of membership.

It was therefore resolved:
I. That the Society shall be called ‘The Wargrave Belfry and shall belong to the Sonning Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bell-Ringers’, and as such shall be subject to its rules.
II. All members must be Communicants of the Church of England.
III. There shall be Ex-Officio Members, Honorary Members, and Ringing Members.

Members were then elected. It was resolved ‘That all former Members of the Belfry at present serving their Country in Navy or Army be elected Ringing Members and their names be entered first on the list to be fixed in the Belfry.’

The Following were then elected:-
Ex-Officio Members: The Vicar, Chairman and the two Churchwardens.
Honorary Members: Mrs Groves, Mrs Victor Rhodes, Miss Rhodes, Miss Sturges, Rev. A. H. Austen Leigh, Rev. W. G. Smylie, Messers H.C. Bond, A. E. Chenery and V. Wyatt.
Ringing Members: Messers G. Bailiss, W. Burrows, W. R. Fuller, W. Elsley, A. Guy, W. H. Easterling, H. Cox, S. C. Nash, J. F. Neighbour, F. Pocock, W. W. Hill, E. Thatcher.
Probationers: Messers Cecil Burrows, H. Herbert, Charles Fuller.

The Belfry Members then proceeded to pass Rules:-
All Members are expected to attend Church once on a Sunday.
A Foreman and Deputy Foreman shall be elected annually by the Belfry subject to the Vicar’s approval.
All members shall have the right of entry to the Belfry whenever open.
Probationers shall not be Members of the Belfry, but shall be admitted as Members at all times by leave of the Belfry as decided by a majority.
No one but a member, or a member of the Diocesan Guild, shall be allowed in the Belfry except by the introduction of a member, with the permission of the Foreman or Leader for the day.
Honorary Members shall pay a subscription of not less than 2/6 annually.
A list of Ringing Members shall be hung up in the Ringing Chamber, and the selection of the band for each occasion shall be made by the Foreman, who is responsible for a sufficient side.
No person except the Foreman or Leader or such person as shall be requested by the Foreman or Leader to do so shall interfere or criticise during the ringing, and all present in the Belfry shall at all times conform to the wishes of the Foreman or his deputy duly appointed.
Ringing shall always begin with a collect to be said by the Foreman or his deputy, and the Versicle ‘Praise ye the Lord’ with the response ‘The Lord’s name be praised.’
The Bells shall be rung on the following days [the days to be fixed presently].
All Ringing Members shall attend a weekly practice during the winter months; any member unable to be present shall give notice to the Foreman.
No member shall be eligible for Sunday duty until he can keep his place in ringing rounds on 8 bells for 5 consecutive minutes. Any Ringing Member unable to be present at future meetings shall give notice to the Foreman (or his deputy for the time being).
Any Ringing Member who is absent from the Belfry for a space of one month, without having thus previously given notice, shall be considered to have ceased to be a Member of the Belfry, unless he elect to become an Honorary Member.
Any money received by Subscriptions or Donations shall be paid into the ‘Belfry Fund’, of which the Treasurers shall be the Foreman and the Vicar’s Churchwarden, and shall be spent in accordance with resolution at the Annual Meeting held in [month to be fixed presently]. The Fund will be available for small expenses, for excursions to other Towers, a pleasure outing, etc., etc. If money be voted for a pleasure outing, those unable to go through ill-health or other unavoidable cause shall be entitled to an equivalent share.
All money received for Weddings, Funerals, or extraordinary occasions shall be paid into the Belfry Fund, but shall form a separate account. This special account shall be divided at the end of the year among the Members of the Belfry who attended on those occasions and shall be paid out at the Annual Meeting. Notice shall be given to all the Belfry Members when such special occasion arises, and any case of sickness shall be considered by the Belfry.
The Fees to be paid shall not be less than £5 for a day’s ringing; £2 2s. 0d. for two Peals; £1 1s.0d. for a single Peal.
Any Band of Ringers desiring to use the Wargrave Belfry must apply to the Foreman, who will apply to the Vicar at least so long beforehand as shall allow an answer to be sent by post. No more than six such applications shall be entertained by the Foreman in any one year.
The Foreman shall be responsible for keeping order in the Belfry and shall have full control and authority during the time of ringing. Ringers shall obey his orders so that there be no brawling or unseemly argument: And if any Ringer have just cause for complaint he shall appeal to the vicar and shall give the Foreman notice of his intension to do so.
It shall be the duty of the Foreman to keep a record of all attendances during the year.
Any Member wishing to move a resolution at the Annual Meeting shall place a written notice in the ringing chamber 7 days before the meeting. No alteration or addition shall be made to these rules except at an Annual Meeting after due notice.
The Ringers on all occasions shall adhere to the above Rules or forfeit their appointment.

Mr W. J. Fuller has been elected Foreman and Mr. A. Guy, Deputy Foreman.

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

Payment of back rent by the National Relief Fund not a precedent

The Berkshire branch of the National Relief Fund considered various requests for assistance from individuals who had been disadvantaged by the war:

31 May 1915Applications for relief were considered from:
Gray, Windsor. Resolved that a grant of 50/- be made in accordance with the recommendation of the Windsor Committee, but the Executive Committee does not regard the payment of back rent as a desirable expenditure of the National Relief Fund, & instructs the assistant secretary to inform the Windsor Committee that the grant given must not be regarded as a precedent for such payment.
Pike, Windsor. Resolved that a grant of 12/- be made.
Winney, Windsor. Resolved that a grant of £2.12.6 be made as representing one half of the sum expended by the Windsor Committee.
Beasley, Windsor. Resolved that the applicant was not suitable for relief from the NRF.
Crow, Windsor. Resolved that a grant of 25/- be made.
Waller, Windsor. Resolved that the applicant be not suitable for relief from the NRF.
Ottley, Windsor. Resolved that a grant of 10/- be made: though the Committee does not admit that the mere fact of the rise of price in raw material gives a claim on the NR Fund, the special circumstances & advanced age of the applicant affords reasons for relief being given.
Thatcher, Abingdon. The Chairman reported grant of £2.0.0 on behalf of this case.
Winterbourne, Abingdon. Grant of £1.0.0 reported.
Willis, Maidenhead. Grant of 10/6 per week, beginning May 1st, reported.
Forrester, Maidenhead. Grant of 10/6 per week for two months beginning May 17th reported. The Sec: was instructed to communicate with the Sub-committee on Professional Classes at the offices of the Central Committee upon the circumstances of this case.
Pounds, Peasemore, Wantage. Grant of 5/- per week for three months beginning May 17th reported.
Fish, Warfield, Easthampstead. Reported as refused by chairman.
Ross, Clewer. Reported as having been received & refrred to the SSFA for further information.
Rosser, Wokingham. Reported as not recommended by the local Committee.
George, Maidenhead. Reported that the grant authorized on behalf of applicant on March 23rd had not been paid as the local Sec: had not found it necessary to pay the same.

The grants as reported were confirmed by the Committee.

National Relief Fund Berkshire Committee minutes (C/CL/C6/4/1)

Longworth recruits include a woman

The people of Longworth who had remained at home were keen to support the war, while others had volunteered to serve – including one woman, at the Front with the Red Cross. The parish magazine reports:

Mr. Moon’s Ambulance Lectures were so much appreciated that they are (we believe) to be repeated. Miss Bartlett’s Nursing Lectures are also admirable, and the attendance from thirty to thirty-three proves that they are valued.

We give below a complete list, so far as we possess it, of the Longworth men who are serving their country in the Navy or the Army. If any corrections or additions are necessary, please send them to the Rectory as soon as possible.

Navy: George Painton, John Richings, Oscar Wilcox, Frederick Thatcher (Recruit).

Soldiers at the Front: Capt. Fitzwilliams, Lewis Brooks, Henry Timms, John Loder, Ernest Godfrey, Gilbert Beechy, William Hutt (Corporal, wounded), Reginald Harris, Albert Adams (wounded), Henry Newport, Herbert Hughes, John Leach (wounded), Richard Painton, James Hale, Mary Wilson (Red Cross).

Soldiers not yet at the Front: Major Crum, Charles Painton (Colour-Sergeant), Percy Painton (Quartermaster-Sergeant), Ewen Truman, Tom Sollis, John Hale, Walter Henley, James Webb, Harry Webb, Edward Webb.

Recruits: Edward Tyrhwitt-Drake, Herbert Wilson, Albert Hobbs (Lance-Corporal), John Porter (Corporal), Fred Heath, Ernest Ridge, William Pimm, George Pimm, Albert Pimm, Headley Luckett, John Rivers, Percy Butler, Alfred Leach, Harry Clarke, James Floyd, Vincent Adams, Robert Ashfield, Raymond Hobbs, Arthur Henley, Stephen Pike, and (although he is no longer with us in Longworth) Frank Knowles (Sergeant).

There is a Service of Intercession for all engaged in, or suffering through the War, on Fridays, at 3:30, in the Church.

Longworth parish magazine, December 1914 (D/P83/28A/9)

A privilege to do one’s duty

The parishioners of Warfield felt the church was in danger, presumably from foreign invasion, and rallied round to help, as the church magazine bears witness:

NIGHT WATCH AT THE CHURCH.
“England expects that every man will do his duty” has been exemplified by the noble way in which the men of Warfield have come forth to guard their old Parish Church during this period of anxiety. One feels sure that they need no thanks, being always a privilege to do one’s duty. It is also right that the Parish Magazine should chronicle their names which are taken as they stand on the list before the Editor.

Messrs. J. Street, R. Searle, Fairminer, Goddard, Haines, E.Street, Pearce, Chaney, Peat, Higgs, Lovejoy, B. Bowyer, Brockbank, Johnson, G. Woodwards, C. Dyer, Bowyer, S. Moss, W. Dyer, E. Gale, H. Crocker, W. Bowyer, Crewe, Rickson, Parks, Dixon, R.Crow, J.Crow, G.Lewis, Joe Lewis, Dyer, Vicar, E.Gregory, B. Gregory, Inglefield, Lovejoy, S. White, Gill, Lewis, S. Bowyer, T. Bowyer and Son, Staniford, S. Stacey, Gale, Inskeep, A. Bowyer, Clee, Banham, Jakeman, Thatcher, Campbell, W. Excel, L. Bowyer, Carding, E. Bowyer, Ward and Woodwards.

Ascot, Bracknell, Cranbourne and Winkfield District church magazine, August 1914 (D/P151/28A/6/8)