There are no greater tragedies in connection with the war than those of the brave fellows who have come back blinded from the Front

Broad Street Church put on a concert in aid of men blinded at the front.

December

CHOIR CONCERT

On Wednesday evening, December 18th, our choir will hold its twenty-second annual concert. We have been fortunate, by the kind permission of Lieut-Col P. de Dombasle, in securing the Large Town Hall. This year we propose to repeat the concert version of “Tom Jones” (by permission of Messrs Chappell & Co), which was rendered two years ago. This is the sixth concert we have given for war charities, and this year the call for the co-operation of all our friends is more urgent than ever. We propose to devote the proceeds of the concert to St Dunstan’s Hostel, London, where there are many hundreds of our soldiers who have been blinded during the war. Surely this cause is one which will appeal to the heart of everybody. This will be the happiest Christmas that many of us have known for four years; can we not try to make it brighter for those brave fellows, who, away from their own homes, will miss the usual good cheer of Christmastide?


Advertisement

On behalf of our Blinded Heroes

There are no greater tragedies in connection with the war than those of the brave fellows who have come back blinded from the Front, all of them young men who have been deprived of their sight at the very outset of life. We have at St Dunstan’s Hostel, London, many hundreds of thses Blinded Soldiers.

Christmastide will soon be with us. We want to make this Xmas as bright and happy as possible for these brave men. Away from home and relatives, they will sadly miss the usual cheer and comforts. Will you please help to give them something of Xmas gladness in return for what they have so nobly done for us all?

BLINDED FOR YOU, WILL YOU NOT CARE FOR THEM?

Broad Street Congregational Church Choir
22nd Annual Concert, 6th Concert for War Charities

On Wednesday evening, December 18th, 1918, in the Large Town Hall (by kind permission of Lieut-Col P. de Dombasle)

The concert version of German’s Opera “Tom Jones” (by permission of Messrs Chappell & Co) will be rendered by the Choir

Artistes

Mrs E. C. Dracup
Miss M. Phillips
Miss M. Tyrrell
Mr Muir Millar
Mr H. J. Collier
Full Band & Chorus
Leader: Miss Lily Davis, ATCL
Conductor: Mr F. W. Harvey

Tickets: West balcony, three front rows, 3/-; three back rows, 2/4; front area, 2/4. All numbered and reserved.
Unreserved: side balconies and area. 1/3; admission 8d.
May be obtained of Messrs Barnes & Avis, members of the Choir, at at the doors.
Doors open at 7 o’clock. Commence 7.30.

January

CHOIR CONCERT

The concert given by our Church Choir in the Town Hall on Wednesday, December 18th, in aid of our blinded soldiers and sailors at St Dunstan’s, was an unqualified success in every way. As the Berkshire Chronicle said:

“It was gratifying to see such a large audience, not emrely on account of the excellence of the object, but as a recognition of the persevering efforts of the choir, which has done so much to brighten us all up during the depressing period of the war. The performance was also in every way worthy of the large gathering.”

Edward German’s “Tom Jones” was the work presented, and the various solos were most capably rendered by Mrs E. C. Dracup, Miss M. Phillips, Miss Muriel Tyrrell, Mr Muir Millar, and Mr Harry Collier. Valuable assistance was also given by Mr and Mrs G. F. Attwood, Mrs Newbery, Mr waite, and the very efficient orchestra led by Miss Lily Davies, ATCL.

“The choir work maintained a high standard, the chorus singing with fine intelligence and unfailing vivacity; the tone was good and nicely contrasted and the balance well preserved. The work of the orchestra did justice to the inherent beauties of the score.”

We all felt tremendously proud of our choir, and we offer our heartiest congratulations to the conductor (Mr F. W. Harvey) on the accomplishment of another triumph. When the accounts are made up there ought to be a considerable sum for the very worthy object for which the concert was promoted to help.

February

By their concert given in the Town Hall on December 18th, the Church Choir raised the sum of £52 for the blinded soldiers and sailors at St Dunstan’s. This is a highly satisfactory result. Altogether, during the period of the war, the choir has raised in this way over £240 for War Charities. This is a record of which any choir might justly feel proud, and we offer our heartiest congratulations to the conductor, Mr F. W. Harvey, and all who were associated with it.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1918 -February 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Advertisements

“A dirty morning but bad for the Hun so it’s a good day after all”

Percy Spencer wrote a long letter to his sister Florence based on his diary.

May 13, 1918

Ny dear WF

It’s along time since I wrote you, but now I swear to steal an hour and give you a sort of diary of events.

First of all, though, before I forget them list of wants –

Propane Royal Navy dressing
2 pairs long cord laces for field boots
Wrights coal tar soap

Also what does my baccy cost out of bond? What would 50 small size Meriel de luxe cigars cost out of bond? And what would 100 reasonably good Virginia cigarettes cost out of bond?

If you could do all that for me when passing the tobacconist, the chemist & Thrussell’s. I shall be very grateful.

I’m trying hard for your sake to keep a diary that is within the law. Just how far I had got in my last letter I forget, so forgive me if I repeat myself.

On My 3rd Ridley, my No. 6 in the famous Eight, turned up and talked over our Trinity days.

The next day was mostly solid work. Colonel P[arish]’s band played at mess, I think it was that evening the Mayor dined with us and we drank to France and the King, and everyone was awfully friendly and nothing disturbed the harmony except Col. P’s boyish anxiety for Paddy, a lovely Irish terrier, the regimental mascot, which is always being stolen. Paddy was tied to the big iron entrance gates while the band played, and every few minutes Col. P jumped up to see none of the crowd outside had borrowed him.

On the 5th the Padre, a delightful fellow, messed with us. The CO wound up a jolly evening with an imaginary stroll “down the Dilly”.
The next day was wet. M. Le Maire [the local mayor] dined with us and under the influence of his own good brandy made a clean breast of buried souvenirs de la guerre.

The 7th was a red letter day. Many honours were received by the Division, Col. P getting a DSO and our own CO his 2nd bar to DSO.
In the evening another padre came in and talked politics & economies till a late hour.….

The 8th was a lovely day. The field cashier turned up short of cash & I had to cycle to another village to get money for the boys. Me. Le Maire [the local mayor] again dined with us & collared lots of bread. Col. P spent the evening gloating over the anticipation of leave and going [on] imaginary walks all over London much to our CO’s disgust. The APM lunched with us and told us amusing “3rd degree” trial stories.

The 9th produced the best story I’ve heard for along time. Told me by an interpreter at lunch who had been engaged upon taking a census of people in a certain village in the forward village [sic] and persuading them to leave. An elderly lady refused to go without her children. And how many children have you, enquired the interpreter. I don’t know, she replied. But surely madam! Exclaimed the interpreter. Pointing to the yard crowded with Tommies, she exclaimed, “There are my children: when they go, I go.”

10th Paterson the popular officer of my old regiment dined with us.
On the 11th I had tea with my old friends Tyrrell, Garwood & a host of others. They all made me very welcome, only “Miss Toms” couldn’t remember to call me anything but “Sergeant Spencer”.

In the evening another Regimental Band played outside my orderly room, conducted to my pleasant surprise by the private in my platoon in England who is a Mus. Doc. [doctor of music] & deputy organist of St Paul’s. Col. P went on leave. I prosecuted in a case for him.

12th: a very uneventful day because I have heard the full song of a Bosch shell for the first time for 10 months. Had a long chat with the CO who said the folks forward were finding me very useful. A letter too from a wounded Major in England arrived saying nice things about me. I’m easily getting to the not altogether enviable position of having a reputation to live up to. By the way I might say here that KK has been perfectly charming to me.

And that brings me up to today – a dirty morning but bad for the Hun so it’s a good day after all.

Give my love to all at 29 & let me know if you don’t like this sort of letter.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to his sister (D/EZ177/7/7/35-36)

“The most noticeable thing in this war, I think, is the good qualities that the fighting men have discovered”

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister Florence with news of his situation.

Apl 26, 1918
My dear WF

I think I told you yesterday I am employed on Headquarters and getting into the run of the work again.

General K and the Divisional General gave me a very warm welcome, as did also all the officers I have come in contact with during my time in France.

The officers here too, who don’t know me, are very charming and good fellows. The most noticeable thing in this war, I think, is the good qualities that the fighting men have discovered for our happiness and inspiration.

So dear Old Syd is where I expect to be shortly. I must write to him & try and gain touch.

By the way, Garwood, Tyrrell etc (my boys) got out all right. Only the gentlemen higher up got snaffled.

With my dear love to all
Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/32)

A strenuous time with tanks

There was news of several soldiers associated with Broad Street Church in Reading, while the men’s group was trying to help displaced civilians in France.

PERSONAL

Captain L. Victor Smith, MC, has many friends and well-wishers at Broad Street, and they were all delighted to see him once more when he was recently home on furlough. Captain Smith had been having a most strenuous time with his tanks, and we were all glad to know that he had come safely through many perils “without a scratch”. We pray that God’s protecting care may continually be about him. During his stay he was summoned to Buckingham Palace to receive his Military Cross at the hands of the King.

News has been received that Air-Mechanic Fred W. Warman, of the RNAS (eldest son of our friends Mr and Mrs Warman) is interned in Holland. He was in an air-ship which “came down” there a few days ago. Whilst we deeply regret this misfortune, we rejoice to know that our young friend’s life has been spared, and we trust he may be as happy as circumstances permit. We all sympathise with his parents in their anxiety.

At the time of writing, 2nd Lieut. Leslie Pocock is on his way to India, and the thoughts and prayers of many at Broad Street go with him. We trust he may have a safe journey, that he may come safely through every experience, and that some day in the not distant future we may have the joy of welcoming him home. He will be missed in many branches of our church work.

Quite a number of our “men in training” have been home recently for a short furlough. We refrain from mentioning names for fear lest some should be overlooked. It is always a pleasure to see them at the services, and we take this opportunity of telling them so. The Minister is not always able, as he would wish, to speak to them. They get away too soon. He wishes they would “stay behind” for a few moments at the close of the service so that he might have opportunity for a word of greeting.

We should like to join our Brotherhood Correspondent in his appreciation of the generosity of Mr Tyrrell. At the conclusion of the Brotherhood meeting at the Palace Theatre, Mr Tyrrell promised £40 to provide one of the huts which the Brotherhood National Council propose to erect for destitute families in the devastated districts of France. Mr Tyrrell requested that his name should not be publicly mentioned in the matter. He wished the money to go from Broad Street Brotherhood. But seeing that someone “gave away the secret” to the local press, there is no reason now why the name should be withheld. We hope this generous lead will inspire the Brotherhood Committee to renewed efforts on behalf of their distressed brethren in Northern France.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, January 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“Grateful appreciation of the remembrance”

Broad Street Church continued to support both their own men at the front, and the strangers stationed in Reading.

CHRISTMAS PARCELS
The members of the committee responsible for the sending of Christmas parcels to our men serving with HM Forces desire to thank the many friends who contributed, either in money, or kind, or both. Parcels were despatched to all the men connected with Church or Brotherhood in time to reach them before Christmas, and already many letters have been received expressing grateful appreciation of the remembrance. We hope to be able to give a few extracts from these letters in a subsequent issue.

SOLDIERS’ WELFARE COMMITTEE
Several of the ladies who are helping in connection with our work for the soldiers have expressed a desire to change their day for duty. In order that this might be possible, a new rota will be arranged in the early days of the New Year. Ladies wishing for a change are requested to communicate with either the Chief Superintendent (Mrs Tyrrell) or the Secretary (Mr W A Woolley) before January 10th. Any other ladies who would be willing to help in this admirable work are requested to give in their names by the same date. The hours of duty are from 2 to 5.30 in the afternoon, or from 5.30 to 9.30 in the evening.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, January 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Help the people in the countries on the Continent devastated by the enemy

The plight of civilians in the countries where the fighting was taking place touched the hearts of Reading people.

November 1917
Brotherhood Notes

Sunday, December 9th, is to be a big day with the society. On that day we are to have an open meeting, to be held in the Palace Theatre, at which meeting one of the leaders of the movement will speak – probably the International Secretary, Brother W. Ward. Our Musical Conductor, Brother W. Wynton-Turner, is making the arrangements, and we can look forweard to a great time on that day.

The object of the meeting is to stir up interest in the National Brotherhood Scheme for relief in the countries devastated by the enemy, and a collection for this fund will be taken.

December 1917
BROTHERHOOD NOTES

Sunday, December 9th is to be a great day with our Society. An open meeting for men and women will be held at the Palace Theatre, to be addressed by Brother William Ward, the International Brotherhood Secretary. The meeting will start at three o’clock, and the Right Worshipful the Mayor of Reading, F A Sarjeant, esq., JP, will take the chair. The Reading Temperance Band will play selections, and special hymns will be sung. Brother Wynton Turner is putting in superhuman efforts to make this meeting a great success, and looks for the support of all our brothers.

The object of the meeting is to collect funds for the relief of the destitute peoples in the countries devastated by the enemy – a worthy object and one heartily recommended to our members. Be sure and keep that date free, and talk about it, and come in your hundreds to fill the Palace.

January 1918
BROTHERHOOD NOTES

The outstanding event during the past month was undoubtedly the very successful mass meeting which was held on Sunday December 9th at the Palace Theatre. The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Reading (F A Sarjeant, esq., JP) presided, and Brother William Ward, the International Secretary of the Brotherhood, gave a most vigorous and inspiring address, bringing before our notice the great need of help to the peoples in the countries on the Continent devastated by the enemy. A collection was taken up at this meeting which amounted to nearly £14, and in addition Mr Tyrrell most generously gave £40 for a hut. The meeting was an unqualified success, both as regards attendance and organisation, and for the latter the whole of the praise is due to Brother J. Wynton Turner, who worked most indefatigably.

Brother William Ward gave some valuable suggestions, and one amongst them was that a central depot be opened in the town, and old clothes be collected for the sufferers. This matter will be carefully considered by our committee.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, November 1917-January 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

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)

Amateur dramatics behind the lines – “each pause is filled with the roar of guns & explosion of shells”

Percy wrote cheeefully to Florence, telling her about the amateur (and cross-dressing) dramatics by his soldiers.

April 24, 1917

I wonder if the sun is shining on you as well. It’s a perfectly glorious day here, full of sea, wind, aeroplanes and shells. There’s precious little sleep after daybreak this sort of weather.

Yesterday I went for quite a good walk across the fields along narrow waterways, and in the evening I went to the Follies and saw an absolutely topping performance. I do wish I could have you both here one evening just to show you what alluring damsels some of my boys make. Of course one can’t get away from the incongruity of it all, for each pause is filled with the roar of guns & explosion of shells, and at the end of each scene, as the windows are thrown open, bursting shells in the distance are just about all the view.

Altogether we’ve had a very good time lately, and but for a couple of rounds which the Huns fired at another NCO and myself a fortnight or so ago, we’ve been particularly immune from that being-shot-at feeling.

I’m enclosing one or 2 more souvenirs. I think Tyrrell’s is a perfectly charming group (the family put their Sunday clothes on for the event). The other is really sad – the central figure committed suicide a few days ago – why, heaven knows.

Well, I’m being so interrupted, I’m going to close.

Oh, I forgot to say I have been applied for direct (without a cadet course) by the OC of the Battalion I’m to go to, and the Brigadier has endorsed all the nice things said about me in the letter sent with my papers by the CO. So I doubt whether I shall get much, if any, time in England.

With my dear love to you both
Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/6/29)

Rattled nerves and sickly faces under heavy shelling

Percy Spencer had time for a long letter to sister Florence after some near escapes.

Feb 20, 1917
Dear WF

It’s a niggly drizzly day, but I haven’t seen much of it so far as I slept peacefully on till 9 am – and of course the whole office did the same. That’s the worst of being senior, no one moves till I move.

As soon as I came back to this part of the world I started cultivating a throat again, but apparently I’ve become hardened, for just as I began to have hopes of “home-sickness” I got better again.
This is evidently a “throat” area for half the world here has some throat trouble.

Garwood is due back from leave today. I expect he went to the Curtises and left them news of me – I’m afraid you’ll find it rather more shelly that you’d like. However we’re getting grand at dodging.
A short while ago our outfit was driving to a certain place, when I noticed a shrapnel burst ahead of us. I remarked to my brother Sergeant on the box of the lorry that that it appeared to be bursting at our destination. He disagreed and I therefore drove on. Just as I ordered the driver to stop at a road corner, the beggars burst a second shell almost overhead, but luckily beyond us, so I suddenly changed my [speed?] and drove on 50 yards. Before I’d got my men clear and off in small parties towards our ultimate destination, we’d had a dozen more shells over, and for a quarter of a mile of our progress, so very much on the lines of a game of musical chairs in which the gun report was the pause in the music and the ruined skeletons of houses the chairs. There’s a certain amount of sport in this shell dodging game, but on that occasion I could not get up any of the interest of my brother sergeant in the terrific bounds of red hot lumps of metal off the frozen surface of the road a few yards away.

However I think I’d always rather be in the open when there’s any heavy shelling on, unless your roof is absolutely safe. For instance, also a short time ago, when we had to endure the heaviest shelling in the worst cover that has so far been our misfortune, we all (including myself) awaited the climax with rattled nerves and sickly faces, but once I got into the open en route to my office I thoroughly enjoyed sliding across a frozen moat, scooting across a road into a ditch t’other side, and ducking along this as the shells came over until we reached home. Tyrrell went sprawling in the ditch but nevertheless was an easy first – a big burly fellow passed me like the wind on the final stretch – I couldn’t run for laughing at the humour of the situation – once the heavies got going, man is very much in the position of the rabbit when a ferret is dropped in his warren.

Last night we had your sausages for supper. Today, just now, in fact, I’ve had lunch – quite a swagger meal, so I’ll list it:

Roast beef
Boiled potatoes
Tinned beans
Suet pudding
Boiled pudding & treacle
Cheese

Come and join us! It’s bully beef tomorrow.

I’m gradually getting a little more time to myself and last night played a rubber of bridge in our mess – it’s a cosy little shanty, timbered roof & green canvas walls – once upon a time it was our office, until one afternoon in the midst of a hefty strafe the Huns dropped a 5.9 shell just behind it, so now we’re in a somewhat safer place, and next door to an almost safe place into which we all dodge if the weather gets too thick.

Believe me, this is a shell strewn part of the world, and just when I went up the line the other afternoon during a very heavy bombardment, we turned up first a hare, then a cock pheasant and then a brace of partridges that all the noise and thunder couldn’t disturb – only man is vile.

Did I ever thank you for the splendid socks you sent me, and for a thousand and one other things – I’m afraid not.

I believe I did tell you about our follies & their pantomime. There’s some excellent stuff in it, the best scene I think being one of the opposition trenches manned by their respective defenders. A system of reliefs has been inaugurated under which firing & trench guarding is done by turns and the scene opens with a row between the Britisher & the Hun, because the latter had during the night fired his rifle out of his turn and nearly hit someone. From that you go on to the idea of morning inspection of each other’s trenches with a good deal of friendly criticism and wind up with the arrival of tourists and souvenir hunters, the “ladies”, as I told you, being quite edible.

Well my dear girl I’m now going to do a little work by way of a change,

With my dear love to you both

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/6/15-20)

“If keeping your heart up & your head low will carry us through…”

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister Florence from behind the lines with a few cheerful words.

Feb 4, 1917
My dear WF

If the ink lasts in my pen I hope to write you a few lines – if it doesn’t, you’ll have to wait for the ink in the filler is frozen solid.

It’s a perfectly grand day and we’re all enjoying it with the full pleasure that comes to those who feel they have well earned it. Garwood & Tyrrell are both outside the hut playing footer while “Miss Jones” (the latest addition to my staff) and I “hold the fort”. The weather is and has been bitter cold, but grand for those out of the line. There have been times though, since I came back when we’ve all thoroughly hated the beauty of the day; when our only remark has been that of the parrot of the monkey, and the night has seemed full of charm.

Well, “here we are”, “here we are” all right, and here we all mean to keep, if keeping your heart up & your head low will carry us through. Germany seems to be following the normal course of its hydrophobia: it ought pretty soon to reach the climax of its disease.

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/6/12-14)

Work for the “common cause”

Two of Ralph Glyn’s friends based in London – one orking in Intelligence at the War Office, the other an army officer seconded to arms manufacturer Vickers, wrote to him.

War Office
London, SW
M.I.1/113/NE

7th April, 1916

My dear Glyn

Very many thanks for your letter of March 13th. I was very glad to hear from you again after such a long time. I understand that Holdich is taking Tyrrell’s place and I expect to be writing to him by this mail also.

As regards your suggestion about I.a work in the B.C.I., I am afraid that any suggestion to strengthen this part of the B.C.I. will not be regarded with favour, because, when the B.C.I. was started, it was agreed by the representatives of the various Allies that this International Intelligence Bureau should not deal with matters which had hitherto been subjects of direct correspondence between the various GHQs concerned, and it was agreed that the B.C.I. was to be primarily a clearing house for information about contre-espionage [sic] and military statistical intelligence of a permanent or semi-permanent nature. Consequently, any attempt to meddle with enemy orders of battle or 1.a. work generally has been most severely discouraged.

I think that, when you realise this, you will probably not want to go to the B.C.I. and I shall, therefore, take no action on your part until and unless I hear from you again.

Yours ever,
C French

36, Sloane Court, SW
7th April, 1916

My dear Ralph

What has become of you?

It’s nearly a year since last I saw or heard of you and I’m now stirred into writing by seeing in the papers that your father is leaving Peterboro’.

I am so sorry: however, I expect he feels that after many strenuous year [sic] he wants to retire to a more peaceful life…

I am with Vickers now and am fairly up to my eyes in work all day and every day: it’s very interesting and real hard work; how long the WO will keep me at it I don’t, of course, know. I’ve never done a day with the W. Gds [Welsh Guards?] yet since I was transferred to them. However, as long as I feel I’m doing some work for the “common cause” I’ve nothing to complain of.

I occasionally hear scraps of news about you from Rome, or Greece, or Russia! I suppose you are dashing about all over the place on every sort of mysterious mission.

If you ever are in London, let me know – do: I’d love to see you again. Vickers House finds me all day & every day, except when I’m away at gun trials: and here we are installed in a flat – our first home!…

Yours ever,
Jack O’W

Letters to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/24-25)

Intelligence is being exploited more now

A former War Office/Intelligence colleague wrote to Ralph with more behind-the-scenes gossip after the complete reorganisation of British Intelligence.

February 11
War Office
Whitehall
SW

My dear Glyn

Just got your letter dated 2nd Jan, but I think you wrote it 2nd Feb probably! Sorry I missed you in my travels to the Near East with Lord K. They told me you had been “chased away” from Medforce! Your “position finder” system has been used to great advantage not only for fixed WT Stds, but for other “floating aerial bodies”. You will I am sure be glad to hear it has been of such use – only keep to yourself the fact that it has been so useful. Gen Callwell arrived back February 7th from Russia & is now in France – probably going back to Russia in a week or two, he was as you say the most charming of chiefs to serve under, & I miss him very much. He & Wyman were both decorated with “Stanislav’s [instant?] swords” – there is now a real liaison business between the CIGS and Chantilly – Sidney Clive and [Birthie?] de Sauvigny go backwards & forwards every 10 days & there is always one of them here & one at Chantilly working with us so that we each know now what the other is doing. It works well.

Gillman came in to see me today. You would hardly know your way about here now – there have been so many changes. MI2C is very much changed and is a very busy spot with even a lady clerk as assistant to Mr Baker. Cox from GHQ is the 2nd Grade [illegible]. [Fryam?] – Joyce (from British [Arucan?]) – Crichton who was in your regiment – and a youth coming over from France to join the subsection. We have shipped old man Perry off to Salonica. I could not do with his squeaky boots any longer and we thought he would like a change! He is delighted to go. Then I have a section now on the 2nd floor under Steel – which includes Persia, Afghanistan, India, Senussi etc – and the Balkans live in the room next to Thorp & are under him.

Amery is really the head of the Balkan sub-section and Skeff-Smyth works with Steel. It is of course good for the Germans to know that we are going to march up to Vienna through the Balkans! You forgot this in criticizing the “ops” – ! I am having “German forces in the field” sent to Tyrrell & a “Boche” order of battle. Colin Mackenzie has just left here to take charge of a Division again & Bird is DSO. Maurice as you know is DMO & Macdonogh DMC. We still have lots of work but the intelligence part of the show is I hope being exploited a little more than before. Best of luck & kindest regards from my wife.

Yrs ever
Bazil Brierly


Letter from Bazil Brierly to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/6)

“We are not well prepared for anything but defence”

Former Intelligence boss General Charles Callwell was on his way back from Russia. Fr the diary of Hanbury-Williams, see here.

Grand Hotel & Grand Hotel Royal
Stockholm

31st Jan 1916

My dear Ralph

I got a budget of letters, including two from you, at Petrograd just before leaving, and take the opportunity of a rest here to answer some of them.

I am glad to hear that you are settled in the Intelligence line with Tyrrell and hope that you have not been displaced under the Staff reorganisation which has I presume been carried out. After three weeks absence from England one seems to know nothing. As far as I can make out there is not at present much sign of a serious attack on Egypt, and the sands are running out. K & Maxwell worked themselves into a fidget over it but I never believed that there was danger of a really formidable attempt by the Bocho-Turks – the Boches are too wide awake.

I have had a short but pleasant visit to Russia. They did Ralph Wigram & me tophole and I had much talk with bigwigs and got some things settled. Alexieff the new C of S is a capital man and very easy to deal with. We are on our way back to report & to go to GHQ to Chantilly, and then expect to return and to go through to Japan so as to see the working of the Siberian railway and ginger them up if necessary at Vladivostok; with luck we may manage a visit to the Grand Duke at Tiflis [Tbilisi] en route.

Wigram makes an excellent SO and is a bright, cheery companion – he has abandoned me tonight and I fear the worst. We get many messages for you from the Russian Staff & the Yacht Club. “Mon Dieu – quell applomb [sic] ” said La Guiche of you with a reminiscent sight, but Hanbury Williams referred gloomily to the way AP & you left him in the lurch.

The Germans seem to be beginning a big push on the western front which ought to be good for us and to lose them men whom they cannot afford to lose. It seems to be playing our game as at the moment we are not well prepared for anything but defence – thanks to Salonika and such like.

I hope that you are keeping very fit and find your job congenial. Anyway you are in a good climate for the present. Give my love to Tyrrell, and believe me

Ever yours
Chas E Callwell

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

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)

A Christmas party for soldiers’ families in Wokingham

St Sebastian’s Church in Wokingham held a Christmas party for the families of local soldiers, who must have been particularly lonely at this time of year:

‘On Service.’ The following is a complete and amended list of those from this Parish. Any additions should be notified as soon as possible.
Akers, Frank, Royal Berks
Annetts, Samuel, HMS Minerva
Annetts, Arthur, 8th Royal Berks
Bingham, Wilfred, Royal Engineers
Bunce, Joseph, 4th Hants
Butler, John, Grenadier Guards
Butler, Thomas, Grenadier Guards
Carter, Col. Duncan, Remount Depot
Casserly, Corpl John, RFA [Royal Field Artillery]
Chaplin, Sidney, 4th Royal Berks
Chamberlain, Charles, 8th Royal Berks
Clacey, Sergt Frank, 7th Queen’s Royal West Surrey
Collar, Robert, 6th Inniskillings
Darbourn, George, 4th Royal Berks
Englefield, William, 4th Royal Berks
Frost, Capt. Frank, S & T Indian Corps
Fisher, Alfred, 4th Royal Berks
Hurdle, James, 2nd West Yorks
Hurdle, Herbert, RFC [Royal Flying Corps]
Hurdwell, Alfred, 4th Royal Berks
Jewell, James, Royal Berks
King, Egbert, ASC [Army Service Corps]
King, Sergt Edwin, Royal Irish Fusiliers
King, William, RFA
Littlewood, Herbert, 7th Queen’s Royal West Surrey
Milam, Ernest, 2nd Royal Berks
Munday, William, 8th Gloucesters
Newman, William, HMS Assistance
Parker, Alfred Charles, 3rd Royal Berks
Perry, Alfred, 21st Lancers
Perry, James, 2nd Hants
Perry, Charles, 2nd Lincolns
Phillipps, Francis, HMS Lancaster
Povey, Frederick, 2nd West Yorks
Povey, William
Povey, Ernest, Royal Berks Yeomanry
Prater, Daniel, Royal Engineers
Prior, Gerald, 4th Hants
Rance, Albert Victor, 4th Hants
Readings, Charles, HMS Talbot
Robertson, John, 5th Royal Berks
Rose, Charles, RFA
Stafford, Lieut. John Howard, Royal Engineers
Townsend, Charles, 7th Queen’s Royal West Surrey
Townsend, Lance-Corpl Albert, 5th Queen’s Royal West Surrey
Tucker, Sergt Harry, 5th Royal Berks
Tyrrell, Edwin, 4th Royal Berks
Waygood, John, Royal Berks

A Prayer Book, in a special binding, was sent to all these at Christmas, as a little remembrance from ‘their fellow Parishioners,’ and judging by the letters received, the gift has been much appreciated.

On Wednesday, December 30th, the wives and children of those ‘on service’ were invited to the Parish Room. The arrangements for their entertainment were undertaken and admirably carried out by Miss Radcliffe, to whom, and to those who assisted, hearty thanks were given.”

Wokingham St Sebastian parish nagazine, January 1915 (D/P154C/28A/1)