Useful articles

Hospitals benefitted from the end of the need to treat wounded soldiers.

11th July 1919
It was proposed by Col Muir, seconded by Rev. T. Lewis, & resolved, that a letter be written to thank the Commandant of the V.A.D Red Cross Hospital at Maidenhead for Convalescent Soldiers for a large number of useful articles of furniture, material etc. sent to this hospital on the closing of the Convalescent Hospital.

Maidenhead Cottage Hospital governors’ minutes (D/H1/1/2)

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“The influenza epidemic put a great strain on the hospital”

A Newbury hospital reflected on the challenges of the last year of the war.

Annual General Meeting held at The Newbury District Hospital on Wednesday May 24th 1919

The Committee’s Report

The Managing Committee reported that the year had been an interesting and difficult one, there having been many changes in the staff. The influenza epidemic put a great strain on the hospital, as a large number of pneumonia cases were received, and the staff were laid up. Notwithstanding these difficulties, an unusually large number of patients were treated during the year. As compared with 1917 civilian patients increased by 104 and soldier patients by 38. It would have been impossible for the small staff to have coped with this work without the help of the Newbury Voluntary Aid Detachment and some other ladies, all of whom rendered most valuable assistance. The committee acknowledged the general interest in the hospital evidenced by the gifts of vegetables, supplies and other useful articles throughout the years.

Newbury District Hospital minute book (D/H4/3/2)

VADs to Reading for a meeting

26 April 1919

Took my VADs to Reading for meeting – Mary, Phyllis, Lottie, Mrs Mead & Katie Paine. Had tea at Heelas.

Found 3 Canadians arrived on our return! 2 brothers Erb & one Williams.

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

No further appeal for vegetables is necessary

Another war hospital closed its doors.

Hare Hatch Notes

Congratulations to Corporal John Milford upon his having gained the Military Medal for Gallantry in the Field.

With the closing of the V.A.D. Hospital no further appeal for supply of vegetables is necessary. We desire to thank those who sent their gifts so regularly.

A.E.C.
Wargrave parish magazine, April 1919 (D/P145/28A/31)

Very fine work has been done

Another war hospital closed its doors. This one had been in the Working Men’s Club in Mortimer.

The V.A.D. Hospital

After four years and six months’ valued service, the Mortimer War Hospital closed its doors on February 28th. Under many difficulties, and in spite of frequent changes in the staff, very fine work has been done, and Miss Wyld. M.B.E., is to be congratulated upon the way in which she has, as Commandant, stuck to her work through thick and thin. Six hundred and thirty-four patients have passed through the hospital. To Dr. Cox and to all the voluntary staff these owe a deep debt of gratitude.

The Commandant writes as follows:-

“I should like to take this opportunity of thanking all the many kind friends who have so constantly sent gifts, often unknown to me, which have been a great boon to our many patients during the past 4 ½ years.

F. M. Wyld, Commandant.”

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, April 1919 (D/P120/28A/14)

All those who have unselfishly put their whole heart into the work have done service of which their relations may be proud

Wargrave looked back at the war work of a hospital.

The V.A.D. Hospital

Whatever plans may be made for the future of the Hostel we may be sure that nothing could have given greater satisfaction to the Founder than the use to which it has been put during the War. The distinction of an M.B.E. which has been awarded to the Commandant is a compliment to the Hospital as well as an honour to herself, and all those who have unselfishly put their whole heart into the work have done service of which their relations may be proud, and for which the parish should be very grateful.

Wargrave parish magazine, February 1919 (D/P145/28A/31)

Proud to be able to give pleasure to those to whom so much is owing

Earley girls entertained wounded soldiers.

Girls’ Club

About 30 members of the club, accompanied by Miss Bowden, went up to Struan House V.A.D Hospital on Saturday Jan 11th and gace a concert and entertainment – consisting of singing and country dancing – to the wounded soldiers there. Miss Bowden contributed some popular songs with choruses to the programme, which gave great pleasure. The performers were most enthusiastically received, and all enjoyed themselves very much and felt proud to be able to give pleasure to those to whom so much is owing.

Earley St Bartholomew parish magazine, February 1919 (D/P192/28A/15)

The devoted, unselfish and loyal work of the V.A.D.s, both men and women

The work of the Red Cross was recognised.

All Saints’ District
Red Cross Society

It was a great pleasure to welcome the members of the local V.A.D. Hospitals and others who attended the Church parade held at ALL Saints’ on Sunday January the 5th, at 11 a.m. The devoted, unselfish and loyal work of the V.A.D.s, both men and women, has been beyond all praise, and it has been a constant source of joy throughout the war to make the efficiency, economy and adaptability of this invaluable British Red Cross Society.

All Saints section of Reading St Mary parish magazine, February 1919 (D/P98/28A/16)

Really splendid work at Devonshire Lodge

A voluntary war hsopital in Reading was no longer needed. Devonshire Lodge was a big house in Shinfield Road.
Devonshire Lodge V.A.D. Hospital

It was with sincere regret that many of us heard that this excellent Hospital was closing at the end of December. We would offer our sincerest congratulations to the Commandant, Miss Purcell, and her staff on the really splendid work that has been done.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, February 1919 (D/P98/28A/16)

Important changes at the Hospital after an interesting but difficult year

The war’s end meant changes for Newbury District Hospital.

Newbury District Hospital : The Thirty-Fourth Annual Report and Balance Sheet for 1918

For the year ending December 31st, 1918:

There have been important changes at the Hospital during the past year, and in many respects, the period under review has been an interesting but difficult one.

Miss Atkins, whose services as Matron are well known to the Subscribers, left in August last to be married. Having regard to her long arduous and successful work in the Hospital the Committee took upon themselves to present her, on behalf of the Subscribers, with a sum of £25 on leaving. The Subscribers are asked to ratify this grant.

Sister Biddle also left in August to take up another engagement. Miss Atkins was replaced, as Matron, by Miss Phoebe Jones, whose testimonials were of a very high character. She entered on her duties at a time when the work was very heavy, and as the Nursing Staff, for some time afterwards, was very inadequate, the Committee recognise that her position was a difficult one. Every effort was made to replace Sister Biddle, and to put the Staff on a satisfactory footing in other respects, but it was not until October that the situation was somewhat relieved by the engagement of Sister White.

Shortly afterwards the outbreak of Influenza put a further strain on the Hospital, as a large number of cases of pneumonia were received. Practically all the Probationers were laid up by Influenza, and to add to the difficulties the Matron herself was attacked, and after being laid up in the Hospital for some time was obliged to go away to recruit.

During her absence Sister White was in charge and proved herself efficient, but it became obvious that the Staff was over worked, and must be strengthened as soon as the general scarcity of Nurses would allow it.

On the advice of the Matron the Committee, late in the year, authorised advertisements for a third Sister, and some other additions to, and alterations in, the Nursing Staff. As it was not possible to make this addition immediately it became necessary to relieve the Staff by closing one of the Annexes, and reducing the number of Soldiers in the Hospital for some weeks. Throughout this period the domestic Staff was, as it still is, a source of anxiety, it being necessary to depend to a great extent on temporary assistance.

It will be seen from the statistics annexed that notwithstanding these difficulties, an unusually large number of Patients were treated in the Hospital during the year. As compared with 1917 Civilian Patients increased by 104 and Soldier Patients by 38. It would have been impossible for the small staff to cope with this work without the help of the Newbury Voluntary Aid Detachment and some other ladies, all of whom rendered most valuable assistance.

Since the retirement of Dr. Heywood, Dr. Kennedy has been responsible for Soldier Patients, Dr. Adams giving his assistance as regards surgical matters when required.

The Rev. W. S. Edgell undertook the duties of Hon. Secretary on the retirement of Mr. Savill in April.

The Committee has again to acknowledge the general interest in the Hospital evidence by the gifts of vegetables, supplies and other useful articles throughout the year. The Newbury War Hospital Supply Depot has again furnished many requisites, and Miss Wasey again organised a successful Pound Day and also presented fittings for the Anaesthetic room. Mrs. Wombwell, Mrs. Rooke and Menstone House School made very liberal donations for the entertainment of the Soldiers at Christmas. Mr. Wombwell, Mr. R. Beynon, Mr. Hogg, Mr. Cotterell, Mr. Johnson and others shewed their interest by gifts and in other ways.

Hearty thanks are due to all the members of the Medical Staff, upon whose time the Hospital has made large demands.

The Committee also desire to thank Mrs. Sharwood-Smith, the Commandant, and the Officers and ladies of the Newbury Voluntary Aid Detachment, who have done very valuable work.

Miss Cecile Boldero, the Assistant Commandant (latterly Commandant) was most helpful in the difficulty caused by the deficiency in the regular Nursing Staff.

Miss Salway has again given massage and special treatment to Soldiers, for which the Committee are most grateful, and thanks are due to Mr. Alleyne for taking charge of the recreation room.

Thanks are also due to the former and present Matrons, and the Sisters, and Nurses, for their services during a very strenuous year. In addition to their heavy nursing duties they have had to meet difficulties in catering, and the want of a permanent and sufficient domestic Staff. The economic results of their efforts are best shewn by the Statistics annexed as to cost per occupied bed, and cost of food per head. Having regard to the great rise in prices the Committee think these figures very satisfactory.

During the past year, and in fact during the war, few repairs and renewals could be done owing to the pressure of work, and a thorough overhauling of the Hospital is required now that the soldiers have gone. A considerable expense will be involved. A sub-committee has been appointed to report on the necessary repairs and renewals and on certain structural alterations. The most pressing work upstairs has been done, but the sub-committee has not finally reported. An important matter to be considered is central heating, and some other mode of heating the passages, etc. this is most desirable, and perhaps necessary, but the expense would be very large. The question of the disposal of the temporary Annexes is under consideration: one of them is now clearly unnecessary, and it is doubtful whether either of them should be retained.

In this connection it may be mentioned that when the soldiers left, the Chairman received from the Southern Command, Salisbury, a cordial letter thanking the subscribers and the committee for the generous provision made for soldiers during the war, and the care bestowed on them.

W. Walton, Chairman

W. S. Edgell, Hon. Sec.

Newbury District Hospital annual report (D/H4/4/1)

“Those who had brought many eggs gave to those who had none”

Everyone pitched in to provide eggs for a war hospital in Wargrave.

Egg Service

A very successful Egg Service was held at the Parish Church on Sunday, June 2nd. Those who had brought many eggs gave to those who had none, and each child gave an egg to the Vicar as they passed in procession to the chancel step. The Wargrave V.A.D. Hospital was thus provided with one hundred and eighty eggs.

Wargrave parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

Eggs from Newbury, meanwhile, were set to provide nourishment for seriously wounded soldiers in France.

An “Egg Service” was held at 3 pm on Trinity Sunday [2 June]: 140 eggs were presented, and the collection amounted to £1.13s.1d, this being considerably more than last year. A total of 280 eggs, or more, were thus provided for the wounded in France.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, July 1918(D/P89/28A/13)

Lessons on Patriotism for Empire Day

Children across the county celebrated Empire Day with patriotic displays and collections.

Abingdon Girls CE School
1918, 22nd-24th May

On Empire Day the children marched past and saluted the Flag. Recitations and Patriotic Songs were sung and 16/2 was sent to the Overseas Fund.

Reading ChristChurch CE Infants School
24th May 1918

Being Empire Day the National Anthem was sung this morning, and the flag saluted by all the children, many of whom wore the colours. Each half year since the commencement of the War, the children have contributed liberally to the “Over Seas” Club Tobacco Fund, by means of which nearly £7000 has been spent in sending parcels of “smokes” to the soldiers and sailors at the Front.

St Peter’s CE School, Earley
24th May 1918

The morning was kept as our “Empire Day” celebration. The ordinary timetable was not adhered to, lessons on Patriotism taking the place of the ordinary lessons and at 11 a.m. the Flag was raised by the Mayor of Reading (F A Sarjeant Esq) who is one of the School Managers. Speeches were made by the Mayor, the Vicar, Colonel Weldon & R Lea esq, and patriotic songs were sung by the assembled school.

In the afternoon, following the usual custom, May Day celebrations took place… Between 400 and 500 friends of the school & the children were present. A collection was made on behalf of some of the War Funds, and together with donations sent later, amounted to £2.17.6.

Reading: All Saints Infant School (89/SCH/19/2)
24th May 1918

The parents assembled in the school at 11.30am to hear the children sing the special songs they had learned for Empire Day. The Rev. Wardley King gave a short address. The children had a collection for St Dunstan’s Hostel for the blind soldiers and sailors. A half day holiday was given in the afternoon.

Coleshill CE School
24th May 1918

To-day being ‘Empire Day’ the children saluted ‘the flag’ in the girls’ playground and sang the National Anthem. The Empire Pennies brought by the children amounted to £1.0.3½. This sum was sent to The Overseas Fund for Comforts for our Soldiers & Sailors.

Reading Christ Church

On Empire Day May 24 the girls of our Day School presented Sutherlands VAD with a bath chair. The presentation was made by Rose Gillings on behalf of the girls, who asked the Commandant, Mrs Childs, to accept it. The chair was purchased by money raised entirely by the children themselves. Mrs Childs expressed her thanks for the gift. Three soldiers from the Hospital were present and at the end of the proceedings one of them was wheeled in the chair down the schoolroom, greatly cheered by the girls.

Log books of Abingdon Girls CE School (C/EL 2/2); Reading ChristChurch CE Infants School (89/SCH/7/6); St Peter’s CE School, Earley (SCH36/8/3); Reading: All Saints Infant School (89/SCH/19/2); Coleshill CE School log book (D/P40/28/5); and Christ Church parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P170/28A/24)

“All possible economy must be effected”

The economic cost of the war affected every aspect of life at home.

The Church Accounts, 1917-1918.

Wargrave Vicarage,
April 20th, 1918.

My dear Friends,

We now have the pleasure of publishing the parochial accounts for the year ending at Easter, 1918.

The income for which they account to £623 as against £542 11s. 0d. the increase of subscriptions is partly due to the inclusion of all the Churchyard Accounts of which only part has been included in previous years, but this makes an addition of only £19 12s. 0d., and the remainder is due to increased support. The increased church collections is to some extent attributable to the addition of two Organ Recitals, £20 16s. 6d, but to the very generous response to special appeals, as in the case of the Red Cross, £36 5s. 0d, but the general level of weekly offertories has been distinctly higher and the result is most pleasing.

The increased income is balanced on the expenditure side by additions to salaries and the heavy cost of fuel.

Sir William Cain’s gifts are distributed so widely in the parish that his liberality is known to all and everyone in Wargrave has reason to be grateful for them, they have for instance made the V.A.D. Hospital possible, on its present scale…

A copy of the statement of accounts is to be sent to every subscriber, but no copies are to be included with the parish magazines as in former years, because all possible economy must be effected in printing and paper. The Schedule of Special Offertories will however be inserted in the magazine together with this letter.

I remain faithfully yours,

STEPHEN M. WINTER

Wargrave parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

A great honour and a proud record

A Berkshire landowner’s wife was only the fifth woman in the country to be awarded the title of Dame – equivalent of a man being knighted. Men from the are were also being honoured for their roles.

THE WAR

The great honour that has been conferred upon the lady now to be known as Dame Edith Benyon, is of importance to other parishes besides Englefield. Apart from the share in this honour that the county justly claims, a considerable portion of Sulhamstead belongs to, and is farmed by, the Englefield estate, and Sulhamstead has its own reasons for being glad. Apart from Queen Alexandra, only four other ladies in the United Kingdom have received this honour.

We take the liberty of quoting the following, which is appearing in the Englefield Parish Magazine:

“DAME EDITH BENYON

It was a great honour that the King conferred on the lady who now enjoys the above title. It means that she has been appointed a Dame of the Grand Cross of the British Empire, for her services in connection with the VAD work at the Englefield Hospital, as well as in the County. It is, we need scarcely say, a well-deserved reward for her untiring services. Dame Edith looks upon it as an honour not only to herself, but to the village and the County of Berkshire. It may be useful here to mention that letters should be addressed to her, ‘Dame Edith Benyon, GBE’ on the envelope, and inside she will be addressed as ‘Dear Dame Edith’. So her old title of ‘Mrs Benyon’ will be dropped for good and all.”

Flight-Lieutenant Jock Norton has received a Bar to his Military Cross for recent military services.

Private William Marlow has been awarded the Military Medal in France, and was to have returned home to have it presented to him, but has now been sent to another front.

The following from the “Westminster Gazette” will greatly interest all who remember Sir Reginald Bacon, when in the old days, as nephew of Major Thoyts, he used to visit at Sulhamstead House.

“Another change is announced in the appointment of Vice-Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon as Controller of the Munitions Inventions Department, for which office he gives up his command of the Dover Patrol. Despite the fact that thousands of men are crossing between this country and France every day, he can claim that no life has been lost in the cross-Channel traffic from Folkestone or Dover during that time. That is a proud record, and if his successor achieves as much we shall have every reason for satisfaction.”

Lieutenant H A Benyon has been gazetted Captain.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, February 1918 (D/EX725/4)

“Now the beds are always kept full”

Many wounded soldiers were treated at Newbury District Hospital, with much help from local people.

The Thirty Third Annual Report of the Managing Committee of the Newbury District Hospital For the year ending December 31st, 1917.

The Past Year has been a very important one for the Hospital.

The figures, giving the number of Civilian Patients admitted, shew a decline compared to the previous year by 34, whilst there is an increase of 27 in the number of Soldiers admitted: this is due to the extra accommodation of 24 beds in the New Annexe constructed during the early spring.

There was a certain amount of delay before these beds were filled, and but for that fact, there would have been a very much larger increase in the number of Soldier Patients for the year.
The Benham Annexe was erected, at the very urgent request of the War Office, at a cost of £386. The Buildings, though similar to the previous one, cost rather more owing to the higher price of material and labour. It is situated on the West Side of the Main Buildings, and adjoins the Thurlow Ward.

Many very useful gifts have been received during the past year. The Local Branch of the British Red Cross Society have provided useful articles for the new ward, amounting to over £50, as well as defraying the cost of entertainments got up for the soldiers. Mr. Fairhurst and the late Mr. Vollar presented a large circulating electric fan for the Benham Ward. Mr. Porter, of Bartholomew Street, did the entire wiring gratuitously, and Miss Wasey gave the sun blinds, which were much needed.

Sir R. V. Sutton kindly lent all the beds, bedding and furniture for the same ward.

The Newbury War Hospital Supply Depot have again supplied a large quantity of bandages of various kinds, also swabs, shirts, and dressing gowns, all of which were much appreciated. Miss Wasey again came forward to organize Pound Day, which took place in June, and was most successful. Many Entertainments were got up by various ladies in the town and district, which were much enjoyed by the soldiers.

Special Donations towards the Benham Ward were received from Mrs. Caine, Sir. W. Walton, Mr. Fairhurst, and the Hon. Sec. Mr. Tufnail sent the proceeds of a week’s Cinema performance which amounted to £67 17s. 0d., and Mrs. C. Ward’s Garden Fete at Burghclere, realised £30 18s. 0d.

During August the War Office transferred the distribution of soldiers from Tidworth to Reading; this was done for the purpose of economising transport; the result has been quite satisfactory to the hospital, for now the beds are always kept full. Whilst the change was being carried out, we were able to close the Wards for a month for the purpose of painting and cleaning, which was thoroughly done.

The Berkshire Branch of the British Red Cross Society asked us to receive paralysed soldiers for special treatment in the hospital; this was willingly agreed to, and also the promise of two beds to be allotted for that purpose.

A very important service that the Hospital is doing just now, is the treatment of discharged soldiers sent to them by the Military War Pensions Committee, who have appointed Dr. Heywood as their Medical referee; these men come to the Hospital either as in-patients, or out-patients, for special treatment, and arrangements have been made that they come at fixed times on certain days for their treatment.

The Financial position of the Hospital is quite satisfactory; it has been well supported with liberal Subscriptions and Donations. The Hospital Saturday Fund amounted to £160; this is a record, and well to be proud of. The success of this fund is entirely due to the energetic Secretary, Mr. W. H. Paine, and his many willing workers. The League of Mercy kindly sent a grant of £15.
The Committee wish to thank, very heartily, all the Medical Staff, in Drs. Adams, Hemsted, Coplestone and Simmons, for all their useful work to the Hospital during a very strenuous year. The Committee’s thanks are due to Dr. Heywood, who returned from abroad in the autumn, and resumed his work at the Hospital; he has been appointed Medical Officer to the soldiers, thus releasing the other Medical Staff.

The thanks of the committee are offered to Mrs. Sharwood-Smith (Commandant), Miss. Cecile Boldero (Assistant-Commandant), Mrs. Adrian Hawker (Quartermaster), and the Ladies of Newbury Volunteer Aid Detachment for the great work that they are doing; to Miss Cecile Boldero, who has been a most consistent worker during the year, and has been a great help to the Staff; to Miss. Salway, who has given her services by providing special treatments to the soldiers; to Mr. Graham Robertson, for his useful help in the clerical work connected with the soldiers; and to Mr. Alleyne for kindly looking after the recreation room.

The best thanks are due to the Matron and her assistant Nurses during a very strenuous year, the increased number of soldiers naturally added very much to their work, and high praise is due to the efficient way in which they have performed their various duties. The difficulties in catering during the latter part of the year increased the work of the Matron considerably, who deserves praise and thanks of the Committee for her excellent management.

Newbury District Hospital Annual Report, 1917 (D/H4/4/1)