Sewing and saving

Burghfield parishioners continued to sew and save for the troops.

Red Cross Working Party
An urgent appeal for contributions to buy materials for the above is made by Mrs George. Between 20 and 30 workers meet at the Rectory every week and much good work is done. The Depot in Reading has given a liberal supply of material, but now more funds are needed.

War Savings Movement
The Burghfield Association has now bought 238 Certificates of which 206 have been sold to members. And new Associations have been formed in Sulhamstead and Theale.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1917 (D/EX725/4)

Women “have proved that they can do many things which did not occur to them before the war”

The Burghfield parish magazine reported on various changes the war had brought to the parish.

Other matters connected with the War

a) The war savings movement has done well in Berkshire, chiefly owing to the efforts of Mr. W.C.F. Anderson, of Hermitts Hill, the Secretary of the County Committee. An Association stared in Burghfield in the spring, now numbers 106 members, and 128 certificates have been sold. It is hoped to combine this with Associations at Mortimer and Theale under a “Local Committee,” on the system adopted elsewhere. Already over 106,000,000 has been raised, and over 35,560 Associations formed, throughout the country: and the National Committee are arranging for a vigorous Autumn campaign.

b) As in other parishes, occupiers of agricultural land have been called upon to consider the possibilities of breaking up pasture into arable. And the County War Agricultural Committee, acting through the Bradfield District sub committee, have found the farmers and owners of land in Burghfield no less ready to answer this call of their country than the King has found the young men ready for the hardships of war.

c) “War Economy” has of course received much attention: and it is hoped that in every house efforts have been made to economize in food, clothing, and expenditure generally. Meetings have been held and literature circulated. The duty of promoting economies, which at first was imposed upon War Savings Associations, has been transferred with other duties to the Food Control Committees appointed by the District Councils. The collection of horse-chestnuts has been entrusted chiefly to the School authorities, and directions given. It appears that every ton of chestnuts, in proper condition, released half-ton of corn which would otherwise be required for the manufacture of propellant explosive.

Women Workers on the Land

We are pleased to see how well the Burghfield women have come forward to work on the land and to endeavour to replace the men who have been called to serve their country. They have proved that they can do many things which did not occur to them before the war; and are now doing good work milking and generally helping to produce food. There are now 21 women working regularly, two of whom have been imported.

Burghfield parish magazine, October 1917 (D/EX725/4)

“Our soldiers, sailors and flying men need our prayers

New Year’s Eve was set to be the first of three special days of national prayer for the war. Several Berkshire parishes give us their slant on it. The vicar of All Saints, Dedworth also had a story from the Front about attitudes to the enemy.

All Saints’, Dedworth

The year 1916 still sees us engaged in a war even more terrible than the beginning of 1915. The Nation is bidden by its spiritual leaders, the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church to keep Friday, December 31st, as a day of special prayer and intercession. Saturday, January 1st, is to be a day of preparation for Communion, which all are asked to make on Sunday, January 2nd. The duty of the Church is to carry on the fight against the World, Flesh and Devil, and it is the duty of the Church’s officers to lead in that fight. The response at times to that call seems small, it may be larger than it looks, but at any rate it makes the work as hard, if not harder, to carry on than other warfare. How grand has been the response to carry arms for King and Country, but the real victory for which we are fighting will not be won unless at the end we are a Nation nearer to God; having shown to the world that Christianity is the greatest power in war and peace.

Mr. Begbie narrates the following from behind the English lines in France:-

“The other day a doctor fell in with a British soldier whose blood was maddened by what he had seen of the German treatment of our wounded men. ‘Do you know what I mean to do,’ he demanded, ‘when I come across one of their wounded? I mean to put my boot in his ugly face.’ The doctor replied, ‘No you won’t; it’s not your nature. I’ll tell you what you will do – you’ll give him a drink out of your water-bottle.’ To which the soldier after a pause, in which he searched the doctor’s face, made grumbling and regretful answer, ‘Well, may be I shall.’”

Reading St John

Mr Rogers has now been moved up to the Front. He is where he wished to be when he offered for service as a Chaplain, and where he will have the opportunity of speaking to men at the most solemn moment of their lives of the things that matter eternally. We shall continue to be much in prayer for him, that he may be kept from all harm, and that his messages may be with great power.

Now may I commend to your very careful notice the arrangements which have been made to enable you to observe the last day of December and the first two days of January as our King and our Archbishops and Bishops desire that they should be observed. We stand on the threshold of a year that promises to be fateful beyond any in our previous history, a year that will probably test severely our fortitude, our courage and our faith.

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Should price rises mean OAPs got extra help?

The Berkshire branch of the National Relief Fund met again at Shire Hall, Reading, to discuss applications for financial support due to the circumstances of the war. The committee would go quiet after this with a minor meeting on 3 June 1916 with no substantive matters discussed, and no other meetings until 1917.

4 December 1915

Miss Pott reported that no further application had been received from Mrs Pounds of Peasemore; that Mrs Forrester had found employment in one of Boots’ supply stores in the London district & was also in receipt of an allowance from the Central Bureau for the Employment of Women; & that the grant of £100 asked for had been received from the Government Committee of the NRF.

Applications for relief were reported from
Brandon, Maidenhead. The applicant being resident in Buckinghamshire, his application had been refused.
Chapman, Theale. Reported that the local Committee recommended that no further relief be give,
Patterson, Maidenhead. The Chairman reported that he had authorized a further grant of 10/- per week for 2 weeks so that the allowance would continue until January 2, 1916, after which the applicant would be in receipt of other monies. The Committee confirmed the Chairman’s action.
Turner, Wantage. Resolved that the case be referred back for further information, and be decided by the Chairman upon the facts supplied by the Local Secretary.

Miss Pott reported that the Abingdon Secretary had written to ask whether the Committee would give relief to Old Age Pensioners in consideration of the rise in cost of living. That she had laid the letter before Mr Nisbet, the Local Government Board Inspector, who had replied that the Government Commission of the NRF had decided against relief being given on such grounds; & that a copy of Mr Nisbet’s letter had been sent to Abingdon.

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

Why are people not praying in this time of peril?

The church at Theale was struggling financially due to smaller congregations since the war had started.

The Rector is very sorry to have to add the warning that the Churchwardens cannot hope to meet the necessary expenditure with the small congregations and small collections we are now having. The smallness of the collections creates a serious difficulty, but it is sadder still to have to acknowledge that in this time of the Country’s peril, and of stress and sorrow and anxiety in almost every home, not more, but fewer, of our people seem to feel the need of united prayer to God to help us through our troubles. And yet “God is our refuge and strength: A very present help in trouble.”

Theale parish magazine, November 1915 (D/P132B/28A/4)

A time that calls for sacrifice from us all

Theale Church decided to cancel its usual harvest offerings in favour of a cash collection for the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

HARVEST THANKSGIVING
We propose to hold our Annual Thanksgiving Services, as usual, on the last Sunday in September, the 26th inst. Even during this terrible War time, with all its sorrows and anxieties, we must remember to thank God for his gifts, through our thankfulness is inevitably chastened by the horrors and suffering with which the world is afflicted. It is meet, we think, that this chastened feeling should be reflected in our Services this year, and that they should be of a less festal character than usual. The afternoon Service, at which offerings of vegetables, fruit, etc. have been made in former years, will not be held; but we urge that the value of them should be added to our offerings of money, which will be given of course to the Royal Berks Hospital. The Hospital is making a special appeal for increased funds this year, because, among other reasons, it is providing 100 beds for sick and wounded soldiers. This is a time that calls for sacrifice from us all, especially on behalf of those who are making the greatest sacrifices, and are willing to give their lives, if need be, in the service of their Country.

Theale parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P132B/28A/4)

Our Russian Allies have been nobly bearing the chief brunt of the enemy’s attack

Women and children were at the forefront in Burghfield, Sulhamstead and Theale fundraising efforts on behalf of wounded Russians, while efforts were also made in Reading.

Sulhamstead

RUSSIAN FLAG DAY

An energetic canvass of the parish on behalf of the Russian Red Cross Society was mad eon Saturday, September 18th, by an enthusiastic band of workers, organised by Miss B Leake. It is said they met with a bright welcome at almost every house at which they called, or every person whom they asked. All the flags had been sold by 2 o’clock, and givers after that time were content to have no recognition. The collecting boxes were taken unopened to Canon Trotter on Saturday night by Miss Leake, but the counting was deferred, and was not known at the time of going to press.

The St Michael’s Scouts gathered blackberries, which they sold for the Russian Red Cross, and added £1 to the fund from their sale.

Theale

RUSSIAN FLAG DAY

It is interesting to record the efforts made, and the sums contributed, in our parish towards meeting the manifold needs of our Allies and ourselves in this time of War. During the last two months appeals have been made to the Country to assist the Russian wounded and sick, and our own Red Cross and St. John Ambulance Association. On both occasions Mr. D. M. Davies took up the work with zeal, invited the collectors and assigned them their districts.

“Russian Flag Day” was September 18th, and £8 18s. 9d. was contributed. The following collected: Mrs Charles Blatch, Miss Bunce, Miss Cowing, Miss Dance, Miss Ivy Forrester, Miss Pickford, Miss Elsie Janes, Mrs Sly and the Misses Windle.

Burghfield
RUSSIAN FLAG DAY
Our parishioners gladly and willingly responded to the appeal made by the Mayor of Reading to help the Russian Red Cross by buying flags on Saturday, September 18th, and the very satisfactory sum of £11. 13s 7d was realized as our contribution to the good cause. The Rector and Mrs George are most grateful to all the collectors who responded to their appeal, and who spared no effort to make the day a success.

Reading

A Reading church had a special fundraising day in aid of wounded Russian soldiers.

The Vicar’s notes

Our Russian Allies have been bearing so nobly the chief brunt of the enemy’s attack during the last few months that it was only fitting that we should do our best to help their wounded, who I fear, must be numbered by hundreds of thousands. So Saturday, Sept 18th was kept as Russian Flag Day, and the results were splendid; the total amount reaching, I believe, some £2,000.

Sulhamstead and Burghfield parish magazines, October 1915 (D/EX725/3); Theale parish magazine, November 1915 (D/P132B/28A/4); Reading St Mary parish magazine, October 1915 (D/P98/28A/13)

Distress due to the war

The Berkshire branch of the National Relief Committee met again at Shire Hall to consider applications for help from individuals who had fallen on hard times due to the war.

21 August 1915

The Sec: reported that Mrs Forrester’s case had been taken over by the Central Bureau for the Employment of Women upon the advice of the Professional Classes Sub-committee of the NRF Committee in London.

That the grant to Mrs Pounds had now been paid in full.

That Ross of Clewer was being relieved by the SSFA.

The Sec: was empowered to renew the weekly grant to Pounds if the application were received & no change had occurred in the applicants’ circumstances.

Applications for relief were reported as follows.

Patterson, Maidenhead. The Chairman reported a grant authorized by himself of 10/- weekly for 3 months. Such grant was confirmed by the Committee.
Haines, Earley. Resolved that the case was outside the scope of the Committee.
Tame, Denchworth. Reported by the Sec: as having been referred to the SSFA.
Stallwood, Maidenhead. Resolved that no grant be given.
Pocock, Chieveley. Resolved that there being no evidence of distress owing to the war no grant be given.
Sadler, Beedon. Resolved that as the payment of debts does not come within the scope of the operations of this Committee, no grant be given.
Chapman, Theale. Adjourned for further information to be obtained from the local sec: & the SSFA.

Berkshire branch of the National Relief Committee: minutes (C/CL6/4/1)

A time to turn to God with fresh earnestness, after a year of war

As the anniversary of the start of the war approached, two Berkshire churches had special services on 1 August.

Reading St John

My Dear Friends,

We are approaching the Anniversary of the Declaration of War which is to be kept on Wednesday, August 4th, with all solemnity. You will be naturally interested to hear that what part we propose to take as a parish in this great event of our national life.

We are aiming at two things. First, we want to do something to help in preparing the mind of the town to enter worthily upon the observance of the day. In no spirit of self sufficiency or idle boasting but in sincere and humble dependence upon God we want to renew our vows to adhere to the high ideals with which we entered upon the war. If we are able to do this some thought and waiting upon God should precede the keeping of the day. With this in view a great Open Air Service is to be held on ‘S. John’s Lawn,’ 1, Victoria Square, on Sunday, August 1st, at 3 p.m.

The Mayor of Reading will preside, and addresses will be given by the Rev. Percy N. Harrison and myself. A large platform will be erected and the Mayor will be supported by many leading citizens who are deeply concerned in the religious life of the town. The Meeting will be widely advertised and will be open to people of all denominations or of no denomination. Seats will be provided for about 500, but practically any number can be accommodated standing or sitting. Service papers will be provided and the singing will be led by massed choirs and accompanied by a band. The main entrance will be from Victoria Square, but the ground may also be entered from Orts Road. If wet, the Service, which is to last one hour, will be held in S. John’s Hall. I would earnestly ask your prayers that God may direct the carrying out of these arrangements and give His own message to the speakers.

Theale

INTERCESSIONS IN WAR-TIME

As the Rector reminded the congregations on the last Sunday in July, we are close to the first anniversary of the great War. All Christian people must feel that this is a time to turn to God with fresh earnestness. In the words of the Bishop of London, it calls upon us ‘to pray,’ ‘to repent,’ ‘to serve’ and ‘to save.’ It is a great opportunity to pray for Victory, and that we may be such as to deserve victory. Special Prayers and Intercessions will therefore be held in the Parish Church at the close of the Evening Service on Sunday, August 1st, to which the parishioners are earnestly invited. The Service will conclude with the singing of ‘God, Save the King.’

Reading St John parish magazine, August 1915 (D/P172/28A/24); Theale parish magazine, August 1915 (D/P132B/28A/4)

Happy relations with our Belgian guests

The people of Theale had undertaken to support a Belgian family living in the village.

THEALE BELGIAN RELIEF FUND
A meeting of the subscribers to this Fund was held in the Parish Room on July 6th, at which the Rector, president of the Committee, was in the chair, and there were also on the platform the Rev. F. G. Steel, Vice-President, Mr. D. M. Davies, Hon Secretary, and Mr. A. G. Phillips, Hon. Treasurer. Mr. Phillips presented the Balance Sheet, which showed total receipts of £114 10s. 10s., and an expenditure of £94 18s. 9d., leaving a balance of £19 12s. 1d., which it was decided to allot as follows:

£5 for the benefit, at the discretion of the Committee, of the Belgian family still in our village. £5 to the Belgian National Relief Fund. £5 to the French Relief Fund, and the balance of £4 12s. 1d. to the Berks County Red Cross Society.

The Rector congratulated the parish on the large sum raised, on our happy relations with our Belgian guests and on the harmonious working of the Committee and to the ladies who had done such good work. We are happy to hear that Monsieur and Madame Rémonchamps have obtained satisfactory positions in London, and that the rest of our guests in Devonshire House, where they lived for seven months, are well provided for.

Theale parish magazine, August 1915 (D/P132B/28A/4)

The evidence of blood and tears

The rector of Theale preached on the war at a prestigious annual service at an Oxford College.

Friday, June 25th 1915

War As A World Judgment: St. John the Baptist Service at Magdalen.

Arrangements were yesterday made at Magdalen College for the service which is customarily held on St. John the Baptist’s Day in the quadrangle overlooked by the stone-canopied pulpit, a relic of the ancient Hospital of St. John the Baptist, but at the last moment owing to the rain it was necessary for the service to take place in the chapel. The preacher was the Rev. S. C. F. Angel-Smith (Hertford College), rector of Theale, Reading, and amongst those present were the Principal of Brasenose (Pro-Vice-Chancellor), the President of Magdalen (Sir Herbert Warren), the Senior and Junior Proctors, and a number of senior and junior members of the University.

The Rev. Angel-Smith took as his text St. Matthew III. 1-2 “In those days came John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, Repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” He urged them in this “dies irae,” when the world was plunged into the whirlpool of war, when

“Human sorrow fills the air,
Death is reigning everywhere.”

To try and read the secret of the world-tragedy, that they might catch, if it might be, a ray of hope for the world’s redemption. Let them pass from the Baptist’s message of “the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” to another kingdom the very contradiction of it. He reminded them of the temptation and the offer to Christ of the kingdoms of the world, and added the devil, discomfited by the Christ, had gained many a victory through the subsequent ages. In these last days could they fail to credit him with perhaps his most conspicuous success in the world’s history?
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A Roll of Honour framed in oak

The Theale Roll of Honour now took a prominent place in the church.

THE ROLL OF HONOUR

The Rector has presented to the Church the List of all from this parish who are serving their King and Country, framed in oak, and it is now placed on the west side of the Chantry in the Chancel.

Theale parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P132B/28A/4)

Wait, work and pray at ‘the base’ while loved ones fight

Many of the women who belonged to Theale Mothers’ Union, a church-based group, were enduring the anxiety of having a husband or son at the Front. The May issue of the parish magazine announced a special meeting to address their special concerns:

THE MOTHERS’ UNION
Arrangements will be made, it is hoped, for a meeting of the members of our Branch on Thursday, May 20th. A short Service will be held in Church, with an address by the Rectory, at 3.30 p.m., to be followed by Tea in the Parish Room. Due notice will be given in Church, and by the District Visitors to the members individually. A Meeting for Prayer is particularly called for now that the husbands and sons of so many members are serving their King and Country, and in peril in the War.

FOR KING AND COUNTRY
Ezra East, of Calcot … Army Service Corps.
The Rector will be glad to receive further names.

The following month reported on the success of this meeting:

SPECIAL SERVICE OF INTERCESSION
The members of the Mothers’ Union, and the wives and mothers of all in the parish serving their King and Country, were invited to a Service in the Parish Church on Thursday, May 20th, at 3.30 p.m. The congregation numbered about 50. After the Whitsuntide Collect, the Mothers’ Union Prayer, etc. Psalm 91 was said, and was followed by the special Lesson, Romans VIII, 19 to 28. In his address the Rector said that the sacredness of Marriage was the root-principle of the Mothers’ Union, and the bond that united families, when our sailors and soldiers had gone forth to do their duty to their King and Country. Their wives and mothers were at ‘the base,’ where they had to wait and work and pray.

The Rector besought them in times of anxiety and depression not to regret that they had let their husbands and sons go forth, but to let the consciousness that they had done right comfort them, and hearten them to bear any sacrifice. They had also done their best for them. It was true of many a one who had responded to the high call, that it had made a man of him, it had made a Christian of him, it had made a hero of him. In this time of trial and anxiety may all seek the help of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.

The names on the Roll of Honour, to the number of 67, were read out. Hymns 207 and 595 were sung, and a collection was made for the County Red Cross Society, amounting to £1 1s 6d. A receipt for this sum has been received from Mr. Haviland, Hon. Treasurer. After the service, those present were entertained at tea in the Parish Room, for which arrangements had kindly been made by Mrs. Snelling, Mrs. Forrester, Mrs. Rudd and Mrs. Charles Blatch, assisted at the tea itself by Mrs. Walford, Miss Bunce, Mrs. Angel-Smith and other ladies.

Theale parish magazines, May and June 1915 (D/P132B/28A/4)

Proud of our men

More men had joined from Theale.

FOR KING AND COUNTRY.
Frederick Warwick … Royal Berkshire Regiment.
William Fisher … … Royal Garrison Artillery.
William Hill … … 16th Lancers.

The rector believes there are others who have joined, and he will be glad to received their names and regiments. A complete Roll will shortly be drawn up and placed in the Church Porch.

Mr. FRED DAVIS.
We congratulate Mr. Fred Davis on the distinction he has won in the service of his country. Mr Davis, R.A.M.C. has been honourably mentioned in Dispatches, and has been given a Commission. He is now Lieutenant Quarter Master Davis. He also holds the South African Medal, the King’s Medal for South Africa, and the 18 Years’ Good Conduct Medal. His old parish and his home are proud of him.

Theale parish magazine, April 1915 (D/P132B/28A/4)

blog Capt Fred Davis 1940

Here is Fred Davis in later life, thanks to his great grandson.

A Lent message: War is the fruit of sin

The season of Lent is always a cause for reflection and penitence in Christian churches. The first Lenten season of the First World War sparked off considerable cause for thought. The vicar of Wargrave wrote:

Lent
The Season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 17th. The solemnity of the season is much deepened for all of us this year by the stress of War. We are fighting in a righteous cause, to defend the weak and to uphold the honour of our plighted word; but war is the fruit of sin to which all nations have contributed, and it was because of the sin of the world that the Good Shepherd suffered the agony of the Cross. Each year, in the season of Lent, we draw near to the Cross, confessing our sins, and as we look upon the crucified Saviour we learn anew the hatefulness of sin. This year its outcome has brought home to us the horror of war. The tendencies of right and wrong principles in teaching and conduct are often obscured by the complex circumstance of life, but now they are laid bare before the world.

“I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil…therefore chose life… That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice.”

“The wages if sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Let us therefore endeavour to keep the season with special effort of prayer, almsgiving and fasting. So may we learn to surrender our wills to God, to sanctify our conduct with love, and enter into the spirit of those at the front who are making so noble a sacrifice for us.
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