“They drinked and drinked till they had drinked it all up”

Now the war was over, William Hallam was hoping to retire back to his birthplace in the Vale of White Horse. On a reconnaissance trip he saw German PoWs hard at work.

22nd April 1919

Up at 7 this morning and went to Uffington by the 20 past 9 train. I walked up to Fernham. Looked over the churchyard and the church (modern) was locked. Just under churchyard a piece of ground occupied by the ruins of 2 old wattle & daub cottages which would do to build a new house on, I thought, if it could be bought cheap. Here an old man who was chopping the hedge tidy told me it was a sharp frost this morning, and if we had many more like it, it would do a lot of harm to the fruit.

I went on to Longcot and when I got there went into Pub to have a drink but the hostess said they hadn’t a drop of anything, she said you know Sir we had a wedding yesterday and they kept it up, yes, and they drinked and drinked till they had drinked it all up.”

I enquired of her where the houses were which were for sale and then went and looked at them. One was too big and another too small (one room down 2 up), another property was a block of 3 cottages – but I don’t want neighbours when I get into the country. I’ve had enough of their borrowing and gossiping ways here in Swindon. This property had high sounding names for instance the little cottage was Priory Glen, the 3 cottages Priory Place and the largest house the Priory, but all this is misnamed for I don’t believe a religious house or property ever existed there. However none of it will suit me.

I then went and looked round the Churchyard. I quizzed some of the stones – must go and copy them down. At the SW corner of the C.yard is a little house or room where they hold the Church… over the door is date 1821 & initial. Then I walked on to Shrivenham.

In a garden at Longcot I was 2 German prisoners at work planting potatoes- working very leisurely and smoking cigarettes. As I had plenty of time before getting to the station I went into Church & churchyard. Sat down in a pew and rested……..”

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

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Really better

Phyllis was gradually recovering.

28 January 1919

I off by 9.3 to London…

Found Phyllis looking really better. More herself, her eyes very blue. Seymour turned up, & masseuse. Sisters had lifted her on sofa a little while last night. Hopes Dr will let her lie there soon for a change. Tube still in, rather hurting. Less discharge.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Great decorations and interest in American President

President Woodrow Wilson’s visit to France and London was the first official trip to Europe by a US President.

26 December 1918

Temperature still keeping down. Breathing bad. Saw her very little that day. So exhausted.

Took Henry to Paddington to spend night at Bisham. Went 11.20, then saw A & E & back for lunch.

President Wilson arriving – great decorations & interest. Well received. K & Q there too.

Only saw her one moment. Ag here to dine & keep me company.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Holding her own

12 December 1918

Went up to London 9.5. Arranged to sleep at flat & on to Hospital. Found P[hyllis] fairly bright. Spent day with her. Red aloud a bit. She & I alone all afternoon & had tea together. Dr said she very ill but holding her own.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Very sad at leaving my Pussycat

Phyllis Vansittart Neale was still suffering.

10 December 1918

Up to London 9.45. Straight to Hospital. Saw P[hyllis] was feverish. Has pleuro patch in middle of lung. Cough bad but coughs up something now. Read to her in afternoon & left at 4 when motor came. Down with it. Felt very sad at leaving my Pussycat.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

A sandwich lunch

With her daughter on the mend, Florence Vansittart neale headed home.

7 December 1918

Went straight to Hospital from O. St and much relieved to find Phyllis really seemed better. No headache & temp. had touched normal after a week’s fever. Stayed with her till nearly 1. Then took bus to Paddington & caught 2.5 train, having sandwich lunch in waiting room.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

No improvement

Florence Vansittart Neale rushed to London to see her daughter, very ill with the dreaded influenza.

3 December 1918

Both telephones out of order so wired hospital. Reply paid. Answer “No improvement” so settled to go up. 1.45 from Maidenhead. Went straight to hospital in taxi. Found her very poorly in room with 4 others. Rather longed for her to have quiet home nursing…

To Aunt E’s about 6. Found all ill with flu (maids) so I went to Ally’s – she putting me up. Edith at flat.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

German Navy flies the red flag

Germany was in even greater disarray.

8 November 1918

Delegates left Germany for Western Front. Navy revolt in Germany. Fly the red flag. Refuse to come out against our Navy.

Heard an overseas officer coming same train as Boy & Bubs [Leo and Elizabeth Paget]… B & B & Mr D[avidson]. came by 4.40 train. All seemed well. Mr D. wounded in leg.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Coal is the source of power wanted to end the war

THE COAL CRISIS

In view of the serious coal shortage, Sir Guy Calthrop, the Coal Controller, makes the following urgent appeal:

“The country is faced with a serious shortage, and I appeal to clergymen of all denominations to do their utmost to bring the facts to the notice of their parishioners and congregations, with the view to enlisting the services of every man, woman and child in this country in one united effort to save coal.

Coal is the key industry of Great Britain and the Allies, and the outlook today is very much more serious than is generally realised. The causes of the shortage are:

1. The call to the Colours of 75,000 miners to meet the peril of the German offensive in March; and
2. The almost complete stoppage of the mines in Northern France as a result of the German advance in the West.

Coal is the source of power; it makes gas, electricity and steam. It drives the ships and it drives the trains.

The coal of England must be shared with our Allies – France, Italy and America. It helps to carry the American Army to France. It helps them to move their army while in France, and it keeps their soldiers warm.

It is sold to neutrals to buy shipping to bring American troops over and is exchanged for food which would otherwise go to Germany.

Coal is the source of power wanted to end the war. Coal burned in a house in excess of absolute need is power wasted. It is, therefore, the duty of every one to save coal, because to save coal is to save lives.”


Remenham parish magazine, October 1918 (D/P99/28A/4)

“Tommy from the line” thinks he should be able to buy “fags” at any hour of the day or night

A colourful glimpse of soldiers on their way home for a leave.

“LEAVES FROM A LEAVE CAMP.”

Mr Frampton, who is at Boulogne, sends us the following:-

“From the windows of the canteen where the writer is “doing his bit,” may be seen any evening a body of men with tin hats and rifles swinging along the road to the entrance of the “leave” camp. They are of many types, and it is most interesting to watch them file into the camp. One can see at a glance there are men from every walk of life, for the “khaki” does not cover a man so well that his former occupation cannot be shrewdly guessed.

As soon as they arrive in sight the canteen is at once closed. It has perhaps been open all the afternoon for the benefit of the staff attached to the camp, but it is necessary to close it now, for otherwise “Tommy” would make tracks for the counter in order to purchase “fags,” soap, towels, socks, and the numerous articles he is out of after a spell “up the line.” Of course, “Tommy” wishes to go to “Blighty” looking smart and clean, but he may not purchase just now. He is dealt with as follows:-

Each man as he passes the gate is served with a ticket entitling him to an evening meal and breakfast in the morning. After all have enjoyed the evening meal, the canteen opens for an hour or two, and Tommy may make his purchases. Cigarettes and tobacco are an easy first, and the other articles sold are far too numerous to specify. Well, from say 7 to 9 o’clock he can buy what he needs, or play games in the canteen. Each canteen boasts a piano also. So much for his first few hours in the last camp before that journey to “Blighty” in the morning.

Lights out at 10 p.m., and “Tommy” is safely tucked up, sometimes twelve in a tent, till morning. It is a bit close, but it keeps them warm. Well, now, the morning arrives at last for “Tommy” who is “going home,” but it arrives too soon for the canteen hands, who were in all probability up at 4.30 the morning previous. However the canteen hands are often aroused at about 4 a.m. by some wakeful “Tommy,” who enquires in no uncertain voice, “When are you going to open?” The response is, “When you’ve all had breakfast.” Sometimes the conversation is not so short and sweet, but long and, truth to tell, “very lurid,” for “Tommy from the line” thinks he should be able to buy “fags” at any hour of the day or night, for, does he not work and fight day and night? And on the other hand the canteen hands consider that from 4.30 a.m. till 9 p.m. is a fair day’s work (with short breaks), and do not care to be roused at 3.30 a.m. by a strident voice shouting “What time do you open?”

Well, the canteen does eventually open, and you can imagine, say 1,000 men, making a sudden rush to the counter. They’ve had breakfast, and been supplied with their railway pass and ration cards for use in “Blighty,” and now they are about to spend on luxuries not so easily procured “higher up.” They are easily and quickly served with chocolate for the kiddies, postcards for mother, fancy handkerchiefs for “My dear sweetheart,” etc., etc. The articles mentioned are only samples, for “Tommy” is pleased to buy the best he can get, as a rule, for he has also got some arrears of pay in his pocket.

About two or three hours after breakfast he receives the order “Fall in.” It does not take long to “Fall in,” and the march is begun to the quay side. The first man, for instance, steps on board at say 10.30 a.m., and one hour later he realises that all are on board and he is actually leaving France behind for a short space of time. Two hours to ——- and two more in the train brings him to a London terminus, and if he is as lucky as the writer he will be “indoors” in five or six hours after leaving France. Again, if he is lucky he will have a splendid time in “Blighty” and return in better trim for “doing his bit.”

Of that return, more another time, for it has many a sad side to it, but as the writer is not now at camp where “Tommy” passes through on his return, perhaps he may never give you the impressions he gains by witnessing the return of so many fine men, whose hearts are doubtless very full of their own thoughts.

In conclusion, it may interest those at home to know that both “Tommy” and his officers are catered for by the “Expeditionary Force Canteen,” and the “Canteens” are an institution likely to remain very much in the foreground in the army when the great day of “Peace” shall arrive once more. May that day be not far distant!”

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, October 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Coal is the key to victory – will you fail?

The coal shortage had a very good reason.

THE COAL CRISIS

HOW TO SAVE COAL

Mix coke with it; a third of coke will have no bad effect upon the fire.

Use fire bricks to reduce the size of the grate, or have a false bottom fitted.

Put the poker out of the way. Never let a fire burn fiercely. Use the small coal to damp down the large.

Keep your pans and kettles clean outside as well as inside. Dirt and soot absorb and waste heat.

Never use gas for cooking when the kitchen fire is alight. Do not light the kitchen fire for cooking when you can use gas instead.

Take out the electric light bulbs that are only a temptation. Put in smaller bulbs and smaller gas burners where less light will serve.

Never mend a fire late at night. Take the coal off when you go to bed. Save the cinders.

Burn all your rubbish. Remember the dustbin often contains a supply of fuel of sorts. The kitchen fire will burn all sorts of fuel.

“COAL IS THE KEY TO VISTORY” – Marshal Foch.

British coal supports the war in France. It is the great source of power. It is wanted for moving trains. It is wanted for driving ships. It is wanted for making munitions. It is wanted for high explosives. It is wanted to exchange for food and wood and ships.

All the Allies want British coal and must have it. The Germans have seized French coalfields. Italy has none. America’s coal is too far away. It is Britain’s part to supply them all.

All the coal you save is used for WAR purposes – to bring victory nearer.

YOU CAN SAVE COAL – WILL YOU FAIL?

Issued by the Board of Trade, Coal Mines Dept.

Newbury parish magazine, October 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

Blackberrying

More blackberrying by Berkshire children.

Aldermaston
17th September 1918

Half holiday to pick blackberries, 89lbs picked and sent off by evening train.

Lower Sandhurst
September 17th 1918

Half holiday this afternoon for blackberrying.

Datchet
17 September 1918

Blackberrying this afternoon.

Buscot
Sept 17th

Older children with 2 teachers went blackberrying; 93 ¼ lbs gathered, weighed and sent to Central Agent.

Log books: Lower Sandhurst School (C/EL/66/1, p. 447); Datchet National Mixed School (SCH30/8/3, p. 406); and Aldermaston School (88/SCH/3/3, pp. 93-94); Buscot CE School (C/EL73/2)

Sent off by the evening train

Children collected wild blackberries for jam to help oombat food shortages.

Thatcham
1918
Sep: 16th

Money earned by children picking blackberries received, £5.11.3. This was divided amongst the children according to the number of pounds each had picked.

Goosey
September 16th 1918

The children of classes I and II will be taken out for the purpose of gathering black berries for M.O.F during the school sessions in not more than three half days per week.

Aldermaston
16th September 1918

The children on three half days each week when fine will go under teachers supervision to pick blackberries for Ministry of Food. Half holiday to pick blackberries, 56lbs picked and sent off by evening train.

Lower Sandhurst
September 16th 1918

The children gathered 215 lbs. of blackberries after school this afternoon.

Datchet
16 September 1918

Blackberrying.

Log books: Thatcham CE School (C/EL53/4); Goosey CE School (C/EL89/1, p. 169); Lower Sandhurst School (C/EL/66/1, p. 447); Datchet National Mixed School (SCH30/8/3, p. 406); and Aldermaston School (88/SCH/3/3, pp. 93-94)

A race with winter

Coal shortages were a major challenge to the nation.

The Vicar’s Notes

The Coal Crisis (Appeal to Clergymen)

In view of the serious coal shortage, Sir Guy Calthorp, the Coal Controller, makes the following urgent appeal to clergymen of all denominations.

“ The country is faced with a serious coal shortage, and I appeal to clergymen of all denominations to do their utmost to bring the facts to the notice of their parishioners and congregations, with the view to enlisting the services of every man, woman and child in this country in one united effort to save coal.

“Coal is the key industry in Great Britain and the allies, and the outlook today is very much more serious than is generally realized. The Causes of the shortage are:-

1. The call to the Colours of 75,000 miners to meet the peril of the German offensive in March; and

2. The almost complete stoppage of the mines in Northern France as a direct result of the German advances in the west.

“Coal is the source of power; it makes gas, electricity and steam. It
drives the ships and drives the trains.

“The coal of England must be shared with our Allies – France, Italy and America. It helps to carry the American Army to France. It helps them to move their army while in France and it keeps their Soldiers warm.

“It is sold to neutrals to buy shipping to bring American troops over in exchange for food which would otherwise go to Germany.

“Coal is the source of power wanted to end the war. Coal burnt in a house is excess of absolute need is power wasted. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone to save coal, because to save coal is to save lives.

“Except among the poorest houses, there will not be a dwelling in Great Britain this winter with as much coal as it would like to burn. Self-denial is called for.

“England to-day is short of 36,000,000 tons of coal. By the system of household rationing we hope to save 9,000,000 tons of coal.

“Twenty-seven million tons, therefore, remain still to be found. This deficit can be reduced not made good only if miners get more coal and if householders use less than their ration. Even then the supplies of coal to industrial works will be short.

“This will mean that the woollen manufacturers, pottery manufacturer’s fabric dyers, bleachers, and others may have their business seriously curtailed, and their workpeople consequently must suffer.

“Notwithstanding economies already made in these directions, we are still on the danger line, and the facts cannot be too insistently and too often brought to the notice of the people of this country.

“The stocks of our munition works are being eaten into, gas and electric companies are crying for coal to build up their stocks against the winter months. These stocks are not being accumulated at the present time; they are being drawn upon, and we have not been able to fulfil our coal obligations to our Allies.

“The miners’ leaders have promised to do their utmost to induce the men to increase the output, and the public are being asked to do their part in reducing the consumption of coal, coke, gas and electricity to a minimum.

“It is a race with winter. The miners and mine managers and owners can help the country to win through.

“Every consumer should try to manage on three-quarters of his ration. The quarter saved will help to keep our brave soldiers warm.”

(Signed) Guy Calthrop,
10th September,1918. Controller of Coal Mines.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, October 1918 (D/P98/28A/13)

A splendid crop

It was good news all around.

Florence Vansittart Neale
10 August 1918

Still good news. 24,000 prisoners. 300 guns.

William Hallam
10th August 1918

I went up to Uffington by train at 5 past 2 then walked across the field (and nearly got lost) to Shellingford. Had a good look over the church. Very nicely kept – then copied down all the Inscrip. in the Ch.yard on the E & N. sides- many old ones obliterated and walked back to Uffing. station by the road.

Terribly hot. A lot of harvesting being done quite a lot of beans, oats and wheat cut. And the men at work I stopped talking to say it is a splendid crop. I was tired when I got home. I can’t walk about now like I could 10 years ago and only 50.

After I had my tea and a wash I went along to Bath Rd reading room to see the latest war news and it is still progressing favourably.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8); and William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)