“This mysterious illness has been rife”

The influenza epidemic puzzled many people. Phyllis Vansittart Neale’s case, which we have been following in detail, was worse, and now her mother was ill with the stress.

Burghfield
The Influenza

This mysterious illness has been rife in the parish, though not so bad as in the towns. All our three schools, and the Infant School, have been closed at one time or another, and, as can be seen by the unusually long list of burials, there have been a sad number of deaths.

Bisham
19 December 1918

Phyllis very ill.

I kept in bed all day by Dr Belfrage – nearly fainted. Edith went down to hospital for me. Ag went in afternoon and did not get back till 6.30. Felt dreadfully nervous. Said I must go to Hospital, sleep there. P. too ill for me to be away. Got up & dressed, went in officers’ taxi to Victoria, then tram. P. not to know. Kind Matron & night nurse.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1918 (D/EX725/4); Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

Advertisements

A wonderful day – full of thankfulness

The lights came on again as the armstice was celebrated at home.

Florence Vansittart Neale
11 November 1918

Armistice signed 5 a.m. Hurrah. War 4 years, 3months & a week.
A wonderful day – full of thankfulness. Fighting stopped at 11 a.m. Peace. Peace. We heard it on the golf links. I, the girls & Boy. Shaw heard the church bells, & we the sirens & guns!! London I hear a marvellous sight – crowds & all happy & orderly. Own overseas went up.


William Hallam
11th November 1918

We heard Germany had accepted the armistice about 20 past 11. We all left off work at 12 and came home. I washed and changed and after dinner we all went round the town which was soon decorated up and everybody visiting. Heard the first fireworks for 4 years. People letting them off even down at the Tram Centre. After tea along to Bath Rd reading room. Quite a crowd there waiting for evening papers to see the terms but there were not pub liked- the terms I mean. We all went down to St Paul’s to a thanksgiving service at 8. The most noticeable thing I suppose on going out was to see the street lamps lit. At the conclusion of the service we had a solemn Te Deum with incense.

CSJB
11 November 1918

The Armistice signed at 4 a.m. ‘Te Deum’.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9); and William Hallam (D/EX1415/25); Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

Heroes in blue and grey and a rained-off garden party

Reading Congregational Church choir entertained wounded soldiers at a garden party in July 1917. They announced the occasion in the church magazine:

The Garden Party to wounded soldiers which the choir have arranged to give instead of their usual River Trip, will be held on Wednesday, July 4th. Mr and Mrs Tyrrell have very generously placed their beautiful garden at the disposal of the choir for this function, and to them our best thanks are due for their kindness. We earnestly hope that the day may be fine, and that the “party” may be a big success in every way.

But unfortunately, the weather turned out to be a disaster. The August issue of the magazine reported on the event’s success, regardless.

CHOIR HOSPITALITY

Wednesday, July 4th was a day that will long be remembered by many of us. It was the day that had been fixed by the choir for their “Khaki” Garden Party. In other words, it was the day upon which the choir, having foregone their usual river trip for the purpose, had decided to entertain wounded soldiers from the various “War Hospitals”, in the grounds of “Rosia”, Upper Redlands Road, which had so generously been placed at their disposal by Mr and Mrs Tyrrell.
Thus it had all been arranged. But alas for “the best laid plans of mice and men!” We had counted without the weather. When the day arrived it was very soon evident that the steady downpour of rain would upset all calculations, and that garden parties would be out of the question. It was terribly disappointing, but there was no help for it. And so our energetic choir master and Miss Green were early abroad, with a view to an in-door gathering at Broad Street. It was no easy task they had to perform, but it was successfully accomplished, and by the time the visitors arrived everything was in readiness for their reception.

Shortly before 2.30 p.m. the “heroes in blue and grey”, brought by trams specially chartered for the purpose, began to troop in, and in a short time the schoolroom was crowded. It was a thoroughly good-natured company, intent upon making the most of their opportunities; and no time was lost in setting to work. Games and competitions were immediately started, and proceeded merrily, in a cloud of smoke from the cigarettes kindly provided by Mr Tyrrell.

At 4.15 a halt was called whilst preparations were made for tea. There was an adjournment to the church, where, for half an hour, Miss Green, assisted by members of the choir, “discoursed sweet music”. On returning to the Schoolroom the guests were delighted to find that ample provision had been made for their refreshment, and they did full justice to the good things provided.

After tea there was an impromptu concert in which the honours were divided between hosts and guests, selections from “Tom Jones” and other items by the choir being interspersed with “contributions” by the men themselves. It was a thoroughly happy time, and 7 o’clock came all too quickly.

Shortly before the close of the proceedings Mr Rawlinson voiced the general regret that the weather had interfered with the arrangements originally made, but hoped the visitors had all enjoyed themselves; and Mr Harvey expressed the indebtedness of the choir to Mr and Mrs Tyrrell, Mr and Mrs Brain, and other friends for the help they had given with the undertaking. Rousing cheers were given for Mr Harvey, the choir, and all concerned, for the hospitality provided, and after partaking of light refreshments in the shape of fruit, mineral waters, etc, the visitors made their way to the trams that were waiting for them, thoroughly pleased with the good time they had enjoyed.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, July and August 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

A sumptuous tea

Wounded soldiers invited to tea at Trinity Church in Queen’s Road contributed to their own entertainment.

Wounded Soldiers Tea

On December 15th we had the pleasure of entertaining about 45 patients from Redlands War Hospital. By the kindness of the Tramways Manager, a special car was provided, which brought our guests to Trinity soon after two o’clock.

Various games – cards, bagatelle, dominoes, draughts, were indulged in with evident enjoyment until 4.15, when we all sat down to a sumptuous tea. Soon, a very festive appearance was presented, as crackers were pulled, and soldiers and lady-helpers alike donned the fanciful headgear.

After tea, songs were contributed by various friends, and two most interesting turns were provided by Private Fielding, A.S.C, who, accompanied on the piano by Private Barraclough, A.S.C., played first with bones, and then upon the rather unusual instruments – four wine glasses.

Flowers, magazines, and fruit were given to the men as they left, to give to those in hospital who were unable to be present.

Trinity Congregational Church, Reading: church magazine, February 1916 (D/EX1237/1/11)

Wounded soldier turned tram driver

Henry Stephen Tuttle of Sulhamstead was one of the first local soldiers to return sufficiently disabled to have his post-war career affected.

THE WAR

We are pleased to hear that Henry Stephen Tuttle, who name has figured in our Intercessions amongst the wounded for many Sundays, has now sufficiently recovered to leave his hospital. He has courageously accepted a post as a driver of a London tram. He is not well enough to undertake the walking that is required for a tram conductor. This family has given four brothers to the war.

We hear that a cricket match has been arranged between the soldiers at Sulhamstead Home and those at Englefield and is to be played at Englefield, after this has gone to press, on July 17th.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, August 1915 (D/EX725/3)