“The increase is of course due entirely to the greatly enhanced cost of labour and materials since the war commenced”

The County Council was affected by several war-related matters.

Report of Finance and General Purposes Committee, 30 April 1918

PRISONERS OF WAR

An application has been received from the Committee of the Rifle Brigade Prisoners of War Help Fund, asking if the Council would consent to regularly contribute to the Fund for the benefit of the men belonging to the County who are prisoners of war.

The Finance Committee make no recommendation.

Report of Highways and Bridges Committee to Finance and General Purposes Committee, 30 April 1918

TYLE MILL BRIDGE

At the request of the Road Board, the Committee have undertaken the work of strengthening Tyle Mill Bridge sufficiently to take the loads of timber from the Canadian Forestry Corps Camp at Ufton to Tyle Mill Siding. Skilled labour is being supplied by Messrs J K Cooper & Sons of Maidenhead, who are carrying out the work with the approval of the Road Board, payment to be made on a percentage basis. The Canadian Forestry Corps is providing the reminder of the labour and other facilities. The cost of the work will be refunded to the Council by the Road Board.

Report of Public Health and Housing Committee to F&GP, 30 April 1918

ABINGDON HOSPITAL

The Committee have had under consideration as scheme for the provision of additional accommodation at the Tuberculosis Hospital, Abingdon, which is urgently required, mainly for the treatment of discharged soldiers and sailors belonging to Berkshire….

It is pointed out that the cost of the scheme would be considerably in excess of the £150 per head which the Local Government Board fixed in pre-war times as the maximum to which their grant would then apply, but the increase is of course due entirely to the greatly enhanced cost of labour and materials since the war commenced.

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/21)

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The best results are obtained only by getting into touch with the men personally

Thousands of wounded or sick troops had now returned home. the nation owed them support for their service. Some needed medical help, others re-training for new occupations, or help finding jobs.

The Disablements Sub-committee beg to report that they have been notified of approximately 2,524 disabled soldiers and sailors discharged into the county. Of the cases now entered upon the Register, which exclude those being investigated, the numbers specifying disabilities are as follows:

Amputation of leg or foot 51
Amputation of arm or hand 34
Other wounds or injuries to leg or foot 353
Other wounds or injuries to arm or hand 147
Other wounds or injuries to head 69
Other wounds or injuries 192
Blindness and other eye affections 77
Heart diseases 217
Chest complaints 93
Tuberculosis 101
Deafness and affections of the ear 72
Rheumatism 151
Epilepsy 37
Neurasthenia 47
Other mental affections 31
Other disabilities 532

Of this number all have been provided with a Medical Attendant [i.e. a doctor] under the National Health Insurance Act, and special treatment, including the supply or repair of artificial limbs and surgical appliances, has been provided in accordance with the recommendations of Military Authorities, Medical Boards or ordinary medical Attendants.

From the 1 April 1917, 280 cases have received Institutional treatment – both in and out-patient – at Military Hospitals, Civil Hospitals, Sanatoria, Cottage Hospitals or Convalescent Homes.
The total number of tuberculous soldiers and sailors to date is 101, and of these 72 have received Institutional treatment within the County under the County Scheme and three have received Institutional treatment outside the County Scheme. This treatment is provided through the County Insurance Committee.

The Committee has assisted with Buckinghamshire War Pensions Committee in the provision of a new wing for Orthopaedic Treatment at the King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor. This, which was urgently needed, and will be of the greatest benefit to men in that part of the county, will be opened in the course of two or three weeks. The Committee has also been instrumental with the Buckinghamshire Committee in obtaining the approval of the Minister of Pensions to a proposed Scheme for the provision, equipment, and establishment of a special hospital for totally disabled soldiers and sailors at Slough and an assurance from the Ministry of adequate fees for maintenance thereof. Her Royal Highness Princess Alice is forming a provisional Committee, and we have every hope that the proposed arrangements will e speedily carried into effect.
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The war has brought in its train many economies over which we need waste no lamentations

The women and children of Burghfield were continuing to contribute to the war effort. The children’s collection of horse chestnuts was ready to send to be made into munitions, while the women sewed. But they were saddened that a local convalescent home had been forced to close due to the economic conditions.

Chestnuts
The centres for collection are the New Schools (Burghfield C of E) and Mrs Bland’s School. The whole will eventually be stored at the former School until sent for by the Director of Propellant Supplies, 32 Old Queen Street, London, SW1.

Holiday House
Not every village is fortunate enough to possess such an institute as Holiday House, though it is coming to be felt more and more that some such centre is needed in villages, where people may meet each other and relieve the monotony of the long dark winter evenings…

That Burghfield Common has such a place is entirely due to the generosity and public spirit of a lady who has the welfare of the Common very much at heart, Mrs Kirkwood. Founded in 1914, it has been the home and centre of varied activities: a band, Boy Scouts, dances, socials, entertainments, lectures, debates, are some of the chief, besides its nightly bill of fare of billiards, draughts, cards, etc. Not by any means the least of its activities have been the War-work Party started early in the war to make shirts and other necessary garments for the wounded, and also splints, bed trays and various other appliances. There is also a canteen, under the care of Mrs Bailey, who supplies refreshments and tobacco to all comers; but no alcoholic drinks are allowed on the premises.

St Catherine’s, Burghfield Common

The war has brought in its train many economies over which we need waste no lamentations. Other economies, however, cannot be passed over without a sigh. We allude, more particularly, to those which have lessened the power of people of moderate means to continue their contributions to charitable institutions…

It is therefore with peculiar regret that we have to record the closing of St Catherine’s. This Home was founded in 1913 by Miss Morison, and was offered by her to the Margaret Street Hospital for Consumption (Cavendish Square, W) for the benefit of girls and women in the early stages of tuberculosis….

From first to last no less than 130 patients have passed through the Home, and in the large majority of cases they have been discharged completely cured, or with the progress of the disease arrested. When we think of the wonderful air which those of the uplands of Burghfield are privileged to enjoy, it is not so very surprising to learn that the number of patients who got worse instead of better may be told on the fingers of one hand. It is a matter of grief to us all that Miss Morison has found it necessary to limit her beneficent work in the great crusade against what is so graphically called the “White Scourge” of these islands.

War Hospital Supplies
The Red Cross Working Party has re-commenced its meetings at the Rectory on Wednesday afternoons at 2.30. Mrs George will be glad to have some new members as the War Hospitals Supply Depot in Reading is urgently appealing for more comforts for our soldiers and sailors, ad we are anxious to send as much work as possible from Burghfield.

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

An increasing number of discharged soldiers are suffering from tuberculosis

The County Council’s Public Health and Housing Committee had to face the problem of men sent home as they had been diagnosed with TB – a very infectious, often fatal illness.

Accommodation at Peppard

The question of providing additional accommodation at Peppard has been raised in view of the increasing number of discharged soldiers suffering from tuberculosis requiring treatment, and a prelimnary inquiry at Peppard, in conjunction with representatives of the Bucks County Council has been suggested.

Military and National Service

The Committee have considered the effect of the new Military Service Act (which provides for the re-examination by the Military Authorities of men discharged from the Army) and of the National Service Scheme, as regards men who have recently suffered from tuberculosis. There appears to be some danger of such men being taken into the Army or sent to unsuitable work, and a communication has been sent to the Local Government Board expressing the hope that the arrangement for not calling up men notified as tuberculous and men discharged from the Army on account of tuberculosis for further military service for a period of three years, would be confirmed – and extended with modifications to National Service.

Report of Public Health and Housing Committee, 14 April 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

Nurses not satisfied with increased salaries

Queen Victoria Institute for District Nursing, Reading, continued to work well despite the war.

1 February 1917

Amalgamation with the work of Caversham District Nursing Association

Doctor Hope emphasised the great importance, especially since the war began, of the midwifery work and the representatives of the Institute, especially the Lady Superintendent, expressed themselves as in favour of a reconsideration of the Institute’s position as to this work, but they pointed out that pending some decision by the Reading Corporation as to the Tuberculosis and School work it was not likely that the Institute could some to a definite arrangement with regard to this because the accommodation at present would not permit of any increase in the staff and if midwifery work were taken an increase would be inevitable.

Salaries of Nursing Staff

Miss Moxhay reported that she had reason to believe that the Nurses were not satisfied with the increase of salaries arranged at the last meeting. It was pointed out that no part of the recent increase in the price of food and materials fell upon these nurses as they were boarded and lodged in all respects at the expense of the institute, but it was resolved that the Honorary Secretary should write to Headquarters and find out, if possible what the Council recommended in the matter having regard to the suggestions which they had made in March 1916.

Finance

The Honorary Treasurer reported that he had obtained the opinion of Messers Barclay & Co. with regard to the conversion of the existing War Loan holdings and they recommended that the holding of £100 – 4 ½ percent War Stock (1925/45) should be converted into the new 5 per cent War Stock (1929/47) but that the existing holding of £200, 6 per cent Exchequer Bonds should not be converted.

Resolved: that action be taken accordingly.

Minutes of Queen Victoria Institute for District Nursing, Reading (D/QX23/1/2)

Suddenly discharged with TB

Berkshire County Council was concerned about the position of men released from the army because they had contracted TB – a highly contagious and often fatal illness.

Report of Public Health and Housing Committee, 30 September 1916

Treatment of discharged soldiers

After considerable experience it is found that the treatment at the Sanatorium of discharged soldiers is not as successful as it ought to be, owing mainly to the arrangements made by the Military Authorities. It appears that a man suffering from tuberculosis is suddenly discharged from the Army with instructions to at once proceed to a Sanatorium for treatment. With regard to his finances the separation allowance [to his wife] automatically ceases while facilities for the man to visit his family or friends before going into the Sanatorium are not accorded.

In the opinion of the Medical Officer of the Sanatorium these circumstances are not conducive to good results, as to receive the full benefit of treatment a patient must be freed from all worries, financial and otherwise. The Medical Officer suggests that a man should be allowed to visit his home before going into the Sanatorium, and that he should know definitely what his financial position will be whilst undergoing treatment. The Committee desire to draw attention to this matter, with the hope that publicity will result in improved arrangements being made by the Army Authorities.

Berkshire County Council minutes (C/CL/C1/1/19)

Wounded soldiers will be fit subjects for these dreadful germ-carrying flies

The arrival of wounded soldiers to Reading gave a new impetus to the battle to fight contagious disease in the town.

SAVE THE WOUNDED

The Municipal Authorities have joined forces with the War Office in a great crusade, the object of which is the extermination of flies.
It is a matter of common knowledge that the house fly is a carrier of diseases, including the germs of consumption, typhoid fever, diphtheria and other infectious diseases.

A committee was recently formed to deal with this question which is a most serious one in view of the fact that there will be in Reading hundreds of wounded soldiers, who will be fit subjects for these dreadful germ-carrying flies.

It was decided that every house within a quarter-of-a-mile radius of each war hospital shall be regularly and systematically visited, and that fly traps shall be provided to each of these houses.

Many V.A.D. Nurses, District Visitors, and other ladies have already offered their services for this work, valuable not only on behalf of the soldiers but for the benefit of the health of the entire community.

This is a tremendous undertaking, as many thousands of houses will require to be visited, and the offers of help at present received are not nearly adequate to deal with the work.

There must be, many ladies, who would be glad to do any useful work on behalf of our soldiers, more especially for the wounded who have already risked life and limb for us as a nation.

As we in Caversham now have a Red Cross Hospital the work has to be taken up here.

The Hon. Secretary (Miss Innes, Health Department, Municipal Buildings, Reading), or Mrs. Cleaver, who has undertaken the work of Supervisor for Caversham, will be glad to receive offers of help, and to give particulars with regard to the duties of the voluntary inspectors.

A lecture will given on “Flies” at Balmore Hall, at 2.30, on Thursday, June 3rd, by Dr Stenhouse Williams, and it hoped that all who are able will be present.

Caversham parish magazine, June 1916 (D/P162/28A/7)

Doctors take leave of absence to help the wounded

Berkshire County Council was prepared to lose its TB and Medical Officers to allow them to provide medical care to wounded soldiers. One of the resulting vacancies was filled by a local woman doctor.

COUNTY MEDICAL OFFICER OF HEALTH AND TUBERCULOSIS OFFICER

Referring to the urgent appeal by Sir Alfred Keogh on behalf of the War Office for medical men for Army Service during the period of the war, Dr Richmond, the Tuberculosis Officer and Acting County Medical Officer of Health, is anxious to offer his services if the Council can see their way to grant him the necessary leave of absence. In view of the urgency of the demand and the importance of providing the Military Authorities with all possible help, the Public Health and Housing Committee do not wish to place any obstacle in the way of Dr Richmond’s acceptance of an Army appointment.

They are of opinion that temporary arrangements for the continuance of the work of the Public Health Department during the absence of both Dr Taylor and Dr Richmond can be made, and suggest that Dr Sisam (Acting Medical Officer of the West Berks Combined Sanitary District) be asked to undertake the principal administrative duties of County Medical Officer of Health, and Dr Carling (Medical Officer of the Berks and Bucks Joint Sanatorium) the duties of Tuberculosis Officer, both doctors being well qualified to carry on the work. The Office staff would be able to deal with routine work.

Dr Richmond’s Army pay will be 24/- a day and under the Council’s resolution, if permission be given to him to join H M Forces, the deduction from his salary would be at the rate of £438 per annum.
Both Dr Carling and Dr Sisam have been approached and have expressed their willingness to undertake the duties provided the consent of their respective Joint Committees can be obtained as they are both whole-time officers. Dr Sisam has declined to accept any remuneration, but as the work would, in many cases, be done in conjunction with his own work as District Medical Officer of Health, and complications might arise in the allocation of his travelling expenses, he has asked that a fixed sum be allowed him for travelling; and is willing to accept £1 10s a week. The Public Health and Housing Committee recommend that his offer be accepted.
With reference to Dr Carling, it is recommended that a bonus at the rate of £100 a year be made to her and travelling expenses in accordance with the Council Scale….

The Committee are of the opinion that Miss Nicholls, the Lady Inspector, could be utilised, with advantage, for some of the home visiting, and recommend that she be paid an additional remuneration for the extra work at the rate of £25 a year.

Report of Staff Purposes Sub-committee to Berkshire County Council, 1 May 1915 (C/CL/C1/1/18)

Disabled soldiers will get pensions, so shouldn’t need extra help

The Berkshire branch of the National Relief Fund met to consider various needy cases resulting – or allegedly resulting – from the war:

9 March 1915
The Ass. Sec. reported that John Nobes of E Hanney had obtained an Army Pension, & therefore no longer required assistance from the NRF, nor had the grant made for him at last meeting been given on his behalf.

It was further reported that a letter from Mr Mount, MP, had been received, in which the following passage occurred. “Every soldier who is discharged for disability due to military service & whose disability interferes with his capacity for earning a living is eligible for Pension under the regulations”, & Mr Mount stated that this was the official reply of the War Office to his question on the subject of men invalided from the New Army.

Applications for relief were considered from
Russell of Woodley, Wokingham RDC, Taylor & Capell, Windsor RDC, each of which was adjourned for further enquiry.
Mills of Kintbury. Resolved that upon the information supplied the Committee did not consider the applicant suitable for relief from the N R Fund but that the secretary should make further enquiry into the conditions by communicating with Colonel Willes.
Tyrrell, Abingdon Borough. The Chairman reported that he had authorized a grant of 5/- a week for four weeks beginning Feb 24th to the applicant. The Committee confirmed this grant.
Gunn, Binfield, Easthampstead RDC. A grant of 10/- a week for two weeks was made to applicant, the secretary being instructed to ask the local Hon. Sec. for a report upon the case from the Local Sub-committee of the NRF.
Cole, Maidenhead Borough. Resolved upon the information given the applicant, being an invalided soldier, was not a suitable case for this Fund. The Secretary was instructed to draw the attention of the local Hon. Sec. to the statement in Mr Mount’s letter (as above quoted) regarding the claim of disabled soldiers for a pension, & also to inform him that it is possible for a recommendation to be given by the Army authorities to local National Insurance authorities by which a disabled tuberculous soldier may obtain tuberculosis treatment.
George, Maidenhead Borough. The Chairman reported that he had authorized a grant of a sum not exceeding £2 on behalf of the applicant, should the local Committee consider the case one of urgent necessity. The Committee confirmed such grant.
Allen, Cookham RDC. Resolved that the applicant was a case for Poor Law relief & not for the Nat. Relief Fund.
Bailey, Cookham RDC. Resolved that as the information produced shewed no evidence that the applicant was in distress owing to the war, no grant be made on her behalf.
Ashford, Cookham RDC. Resolved that a grant of 6/- per week for one month beginning March 8th be made.
White, Shinfield. Resolved that as the information upon this case shewed a difference of opinion between the officer & local Committee of the Old Age Pensions as to the suitability of the applicant for relief, no grant be made from the Nat. Relief Fund until such divergence of views cease.

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