Many anti-submarine proposals have been received

An internee’s proposals for trapping enemy submarines were greeted with a signal lack of enthusiasm, while the imposition of rationing meant the Place of Internment (aka Reading Prison) had to revamp menus.


Board of Invention & Research
Victory House
Cockspur St
SW1

21-2-18

Sir

I am directed by the Board of Invention & Research to thank you for your letter of the 14th inst: transmitting particulars of anti-submarine proposals put forward by alien C. Slingeneyer, interned at Reading.

In reply, I beg to inform you that many similar proposals have already been received from various sources. If however the Inventor will be good enough to furnish a full description of the device to which he calls attention, the matter will receive careful consideration; and I am to ask that, if no objection be seen, alien C. Slingeneyer may be informed accordingly.

I am, sir,
Your obedient servant
Walter J. James

21-2-18
The Gov. P of I Reading

With ref: to the system of rationing which will shortly come into operation, the enclosed scale of dietary will be taken into use at your Establishment – as soon as you can make the necessary arrangements. The Commission desire to leave you a free hand as to the manner in which the ingredients shall be prepared and the Con: Pn: dietary is enclosed for your information. This, together with the present dietary for interned prisoners will be a guide as to the distribution of the various articles.

Fresh fish will be issued alternately with salt fish. The Commission are arranging for the supply of fresh fish to all Establishments and instructions will shortly reach you on this point.

The dietary cards at present in use will be withdrawn when the new dietary is introduced. On the introduction of the new dietary, no prisoner will be permitted to purchase rationed articles, or articles containing ingredients which are rationed. The rationed articles are bread, cereals (including flour, oatmeal, rice, tapioca, barley, beans, peas etc), meat, sugar, margarine or butter, fats, oils etc.

Signed Alfred Wall, Sec:

Breakfast Bread 6 oz
Porridge 1 pint
Margarine 1 oz
Tea or Coffee

Dinners

Sunday Bread 2 oz
[Illegible] Meat 2 ½ oz
Potatoes 16 oz
Rice 3 oz (uncooked)
Jam 2 oz

Monday Bread 2 oz
Soup 1 pint (containing 3 oz clods, 4 oz peas, 2 oz vegetables, 2 oz onions)
Potatoes 16 oz

Tuesday Bread 2 oz
Fish 12 oz uncooked
Potatoes 16 oz
Rice 3 oz uncooked made into puddings

Wednesdays Bread 2 oz
Salt Pork 13 oz
Haricot Beans [1 ½ oz?]
Potatoes 16 oz
Apple rings or fresh fruit

Thursday Bread 2 oz
Beef 6 oz uncooked
Potatoes 16 oz

Friday Bread 2 oz
Vegetable soup 1 pint consisting of 2 oz vegetables, 1 oz onions, ¼ oz fish, 5 oz peas
[Illegible]

Saturday Bread 2 oz
Fish 12 oz uncooked
Potatoes 16 oz
Tapioca 3 oz
Jam 2 oz

Suppers Bread 6 oz
Cocoa or Tea 1 pint
Margarine ¼ oz
Potatoes 6 oz
Cheese 1 oz

Fish – fresh and salt alternate days.

As the meat ration increases, the vegetable soup on Fridays will contain clods.

Fresh vegetables for part ration potatoes when obtainable.

These men can of course buy at the canteen or elsewhere such things as eggs, fruit, tinned fish &c: in fact anything that can be bought outside, not rationed, as in the past.

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

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The meaning of Christmas: ‘You won’t be afraid when your time comes to “go over the top”’

Members of Broad Street Church sent gifts to their friends at the front – and the minister had some special words of comfort for them this Christmas.

CHRISTMAS PARCELS

It has been decided to send once more a Christmas Greeting to men of the church and Brotherhood who are serving with HM Forces. Each man is to receive a small parcel as in previous years. As there are 150 men to be provided for this will involve considerable expense. Our friends are therefore asked for their generous help. The best way in which this could be given would be by gifts of money. But for those who prefer to contribute goods it is acceptable, viz: Woollen comforts, soap, candles, condensed milk, tobacco and cigarettes, towels, handkerchiefs, sweets in tins, sardines, note paper and envelopes. Mr C Dalgleish, Hollybush, Grosvenor Road, Caversham, has kindly consented to rceive gifts of money. Goods will be gratefully received by either Mrs Rawlinson, 50 Western Elms Avenue, or Mr W A Woolley, 85 Oxford Road.

THE MESSAGE OF CHRISTMAS TO OUR MEN AWAY

What has Christmas to do this year with you, or indeed with any of us? At first sight, little enough; but looking deeper, everything.
God did not create a humanity that was bound to go wrong, and then leave it. He is not “an absentee God, sitting idle, at the outside of His universe, and seeing it go.” There was only one way to fight the evil, and God – all Righteousness and all Love – took that. “O generous love! that he who smote in man for man the foe…” The Divine Personality was born a little child over nineteen hundred years ago. That was Christmas.

He began by obeying orders, doing irksome things that seemed unmeaning and useless, but doing them as long as they had to be done. Then he lived in self-sacrifice, giving Himself for others utterly. He was friend and healer and helper wherever there was need. He fought evil with good, and hate with love. He stood for right and justice against odds. So far as you follow Him, and do these things, that is Christmas for you.

The meaning of Christmas persists. Christ is alive and working now, more nearly present than He could be then, and what He was on earth he is still.
….
He is still the friend and helper, with you in all loneliness and need and temptation. It keeps you straight, often to remember the eyes waiting at home, expecting that yours will be able to smile squarely into them when you come back. You can’t go wrong when you remember His eyes expecting as much, but with the power, too, to quell any demon that attacks you. You have not to fight your battles alone. He is no myth. Reach out to Him in your extremity, and see whether He fails you. “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

You won’t be afraid to leave your home people in His care, knowing that He cares for them as much as you do – as they have the harder task of leaving you. Every Sunday, and how many times between, they and we think of you, and pray for His care of you – in the trenches, or in the air, or in the sea; in hospitals or in camps; in far lands or in the home country; in drudgery or in danger.

You won’t be afraid when your time comes to “go over the top” (at the end of a long life, as we trust), seeing that the Friend with whpm you have lived and who you have trusted so long, is waiting out there for you, in that life which He left to come to your help.
All this is what Christmas means for you.

In connection with the Church, Christmas parcels are being sent to our Brothers in the Forces as before, and a “collection in kind” will have been taken by the time these notes are in print, and another in money will be asked for on December 2nd.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Bread is better than tins

Medical orderly and artist Stanley Spencer wrote to his sister Florence asking for home made bread.

March 25th, 1917.

Dear Florence,

I have been down to Salonique in hospital again, though only for a trivial thing. I had bronchitis, but it was more really nasal catarrh. I am out again now, and after a day at the base was drafted into the 143rd field amb. so you will address me accordingly.

That is three ambs. I have been in.

The flowers are out, the primrose, violet, celandine and many other flowers unknown to me. I passed by such wonderful ones to-day.

It is getting dark and I have no candles and want my letter to go to-night, so goodnight, Flongy dear. With much love to you both,

Your loving brother

STANLEY

If you send me anything, send me some currant biscuits or bread and butter. We get bread and we get butter sometimes, but you know what a boy I am for bread and butter, and it is better to send that than these eternal tinned stuffs. Send me some of your own home made bread, Flongy dear, and I will love you forever.

Letter from Stanley Spencer to Florence Image (D/EX801/20)

Christmas parcels

There was an interdenominational effort in Bracknell to co-ordinate sending Christmas gifts to the men at the front.

Christmas parcels have been sent to all the men who are on active service both in the Navy and the Army. The Chavey Down men received their parcels through the working party on the Down. The members of the Congregational Church and P.S.A. sent to those connected with their organizations, and the remainder, about 70 in number, were provided for by subscriptions contributed by many in Bracknell.

Grateful letters of acknowledgement have come from a large number of the men, who desire the Vicar to thank all the Bracknell friends who contributed; the contents of the parcels seem to have been much appreciated.

The parcels were packed by Mrs. Barnett at the Vicarage, with the kind assistance of Mr. Payne and Miss Hunton. The contents of the parcels were such things as biscuits in tins, cake, Oxo, potted meat, milk and cocoa, chocolate, apples, soap, candles and cigarettes.

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Monthly Magazine, January 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/1)

“The narrowest escape I ever want”

A Reading man reported on his experiences in the trenches, transporting food supplies under fire – and one very narrow escape.

IN THE TRENCHES “SOMEWHERE IN BELGIUM”
EXTRACT FROM LETTER FROM HARRY CHANDLER, 4TH ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT

I am writing this letter in the trenches while off duty for a short time. We marched from our last place yesterday about eight miles; the roads are very bad here for marching, being all cobbles in the centre and mud at the sides.

I do not get much time to write letters or do anything for myself.
There is plenty of hard work to do and I will tell you what we did after coming out of the trenches the last time, that is, the four days we have spent at the ‘Piggeries’.

In the morning we were subjected to a very heavy shelling from the Germans – quite a warm time and not at all pleasant, and you never knew what was going to happen next. After dinner we packed up and when the other company came in about three o’clock to relieve us, we gave over our trench and departed for the Piggeries, arriving there about 4.30, had tea and a wash, and then at 7.30 paraded in drill order and marched to a place where all the stores, rations, water jars, and in fact everything is placed for us to carry to the trenches. There you see piles upon piles of timber, mountains of food of all descriptions in tins, all ready for us to carry the distance remaining between the firing lines and the trenches where the transports cannot go. When it is dusk, if you look carefully, you will see numerous parties of men drawn from all the companies waiting by the side of the roads for the signal to take up something or another and move off. I am in A Company’s party, and when the QMS gives the signal our party slowly moves up and each man receives a load; perhaps it is with another fellow to carry a very large sack of bread or coal, etc, one at each end of the sack; perhaps, if your luck is in, it is only 75 lb of jam in bags in tins, or a side of bacon – of course with these last things you get no help, but carry them yourself all the way. Please remember we are in drill order carrying our rifles slung over the shoulder.

When every man has his load we slowly move off and another party takes your place and so on nearly all night. When you get along perhaps a quarter of a mile all sit down and have a rest, and then go on like that till you come to apart where you are out in the open, under rifle fire from the enemy, and then there is no stopping unless they turn a Maxim on us which nearly always happens, then we lie flat down at once until it ceases. Of course no smoking or talking is allowed.

After you arrive at your destination and deliver your goods you return with the empty water jars, etc, and this goes on all night.
When you arrive at the end of your last journey you are stiff, tired, weary, worn and sad, and are not even allowed to take off your boots and puttees, so have to sleep in them after marching all day. It takes us ten minutes when we wake up to find our feet they are so numbed and stiff. We have not had one complete night’s rest for six weeks.

The other day we went into N—, a distance of 4 ½ miles away, and all of us had a hot bath. Just fancy marching nine miles for a wash!

While I was on sentry duty recently in the trenches, it was just time for all the fellows to come out, when buzz – over came German shells bursting all around us; dirt, sand bags, wood, etc, flew, and we were smothered. It was a very lucky escape for me as one shell burst about two feet from me and I picked up the top of the shell with the time fuse, etc, complete, which I shall be sending home shortly.

The last time I was in the trenches I had the narrowest escape I ever want. A sniper was firing and one of the bullets came through the earth which we were throwing up and just grazed my face, the dirt going in my eye. I really thought for the second that I was done for.

We are now going for four days to a rest camp up on the hills. I am pleased to say I am in the best of health and feeling merry and bright. Certainly my four years in the old Volunteer Cyclist Corps has stood me in good stead.

Please remember me to all friends.

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, July 1915 (D/N11/12/1/14)