“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)

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)

Certificate for vegetables

January 23rd 1919

Received certificate signed by Sir David Beatty, from the Fleet, as an appreciation of the vegetables sent by the school children.

Hinton Waldrist C of E School log book (C/EL84/2, p. 168)

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)

There will be no volunteers during winter & spring

The authorities agreed that internees should continue to work in the prison garden – but would not let the Irish bypass the prison doctor, who they did not care for.

Commissioners’ Minute

Work in the Garden cannot be considered as the “Service of the Prison” and interned Civilians cannot be forced to work at it.

The punishment must therefore be cancelled.

JW
24.X.18

Noted.

Hitherto the service of the Place of Internment has been considered to be such things as are necessary for its ordinary upkeep, and consisted of – cooks, bakers, laundry, engineers’ party, garden party (the vegetables are grown for the Place of Internment only), cleaner, whitewashers, and this has been the practice throughout, men being paid according to the scale for each class of service approved by the Commissioners. Will the Commissioners please instruct me as to what is to be done about the garden? It grows a considerable amount of vegetables, but there will be no volunteers during winter & spring when all the digging & planting has to be carried out, and unless kept up, both it and the paths will be soon overgrown with weeds.

The garden party in the past also assisted the stoker with ashes, & in wet weather cleared out the basement.

My practice throughout has been for men to arrange for all the duties amongst themselves and no man to leave such employment until his successor is appointed.

I hope the Commissioners will not think I am saying more than I should if I say that I regret their present decision and inability to support me.

C M Morgan
Governor

25.10.18

The commissioners do not wish to alter the practice which has hitherto been in vogue at Reading, but digging etc in the garden was not included when Reg 9 was approved. As it appears to be understood that gardening is part of the upkeep of the P of I, the practice will be continued.
JW 30/10/16

25th Oct 1918

F. Thornton, Irish prisoner, applied today. He states on behalf of the Irish prisoners that Dr R. Hayes, who is an Irish internee, act as Medical Officer for them in place of the Medical Officer appointed for duty here, and that Dr Hayes be allowed to write to Ireland for his medical appliances. Drugs to be obtained from here.

Report from Medical Officer attached.

C M Morgan
Gov
[to] The Commissioners

The Commissioners are unable to sanction the proposal.
A J Wall
Sec: 30/10/18

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Thanksgiving for the uplifting news from the fields of warfare

The Hare Hatch harvest festival handed over many of the gifts to wounded soldiers.

Hare Hatch Notes

Our Harvest Festival was held on Sunday, Oct 6th. The Mission Church looked very pretty. We had good attendances both at the morning and evening services, nearly every seat was filled. We had the pleasure of the help of the Rev. H. M. Wells, who celebrated the Holy Communion at the morning service. The chief thoughts of the day were Praise and Thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest also the uplifting news from the fields of warfare. The gifts, especially the vegetables, were more than we have had before, and the object to which they were devoted made these gifts very acceptable. The children’s contributions at the afternoon service of new laid eggs and vegetables were very pleasing indeed. The offertories throughout the day amounted to £3 8s. 11d. letters of thanks and appreciation have been received as follows: –

Thank you so very much for sending us such a splendid consignment of vegetables and also eggs. The onions are especially valuable and I was delighted to get some apples they will be greatly appreciated by the men. We have 45 patients to feed and I find they thoroughly enjoy the liberal supply of vegetables I am able to give them through the kindness of our friends.
Mabel Young, Quartermaster

The Secretary of the Royal Berks Hospital begs to thank you for your kind present of Harvest Gifts for the use of the patients.
A.E.C.

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

Fruit, vegetables and eggs for wounded soldiers

Once more, harvest gifts were donated to wounded soldiers.

HARVEST FESTIVAL

On Sunday, September 29th, we held our Harvest Thanksgiving Services…. The church was once more tastefully decorated for the occasion, a plentiful supply of vegetables, fruit, flowers, eggs, etc, having been provided…

On the following day the fruit, vegetables and eggs were sent to the Royal Berkshire Hospital for our wounded soldiers, and the secretary of that institution has sent a letter in which he expressed gratitude for the gift.

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

From the Front to a football match

Some teachers were less enthusiastic than others about letting youngsters spend time picking berries and helping farmers, while soldiers on leave returned to their old school to play current pupils at football.

Windsor
20th September 1918

Eight old boys who are serving in His Majesty’s Forces visited the school this morning and assisted by three of the present scholars played a football match with the school team, the old boys winning by 4 goals to 2.

Braywick
20th September 1918

The classes went for berries on two fine afternoons, on Wednesday and Friday. The results of the pickings are very satisfactory.

Thatcham
Sep: 20th

Registers not marked this afternoon – blackberrying. 198 lbs sent in, making a total for the week of 519 lbs.

Sandhurst
September 20th 1918

Half holiday for blackberry picking. 297 lbs. sent.

Buscot
Sept. 20

Older children went blackberrying in the afternoon; 85 ½ lbs gathered.


Log books:

Hampstead Norreys
1918
20th Sep

The children this week have again been busy picking blackberries. The weather has been very changeable, and we have had to catch an hour or two whenever we could, so that in several cases we have been unable to send the children straightaway, having had to keep them until the blackberries dried. In these cases we marked registers.

We weighed out & paid for 479 lbs of blackberries during the week.

In the limited school time at our disposal we have mostly kept up the Reading Writing and Arithmetic.

Speenhamland
1918
Sept 20th

Attendance poor; four of St VI gone to pick up potatoes for Mr Whitington [sic] – they seem to have got permission from the Authority – Cecil Bishop has also got permission. I do not think this should be.

The school was closed on Tuesday afternoon for the children to gather blackberries but they got very few – only 190 lbs; we shall not go again.

Some of the girls took wood away from Mrs Farquhar’s property, and she wrote an indignant letter to the Vicar and another to myself. I wrote to her, and expressed regret.

Buscot
Sept. 20

Older children went blackberrying in the afternoon; 85 ½ lbs gathered.

Thatcham
Sep: 20th
Registers not marked this afternoon – blackberrying. 198 lbs sent in, making a total for the week of 519 lbs.


Log books of Windsor Royal Free Boys’ School log book (C/EL72/3, p. 193); Braywick CE School (C/EL65/4, p. 204); Thatcham CE School (C/EL53/4); Lower Sandhurst School (C/EL/66/1, p. 448); Buscot CE School (C/EL73/2); Hampstead Norreys CE School (C/EL40/2);St Mary’s CE School, Speenhamland (C/EL119/3); Buscot CE School (C/EL73/2)
; Thatcham CE School (C/EL53/4)

Spare a cabbage a week

Wargrve gardeners were asked to help the parish war hospital.

Woodclyffe Auxiliary Hospital

The Hospital was reopened on September 9th after being closed for three weeks. There is every prospect of its being kept full during the winter months.

The Quartermaster will be most thankful for gifts of eggs which are greatly needed for the wounded soldiers.

Will everyone please give one a week during the winter months?

Vegetables of all kinds are also always wanted and will be welcomed in large or small quantities. If allotment holders and cottage gardeners will only spare one cabbage, a couple of carrots or parsnips, or several onions &c. each week and send them to Mr. F. Pope, Victoria Road, or Mr. A. Chenery, Hare Hatch, they will be delivered at the Hospital several times a week.

Many small gifts will make a considerable quantity in a very short time.

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

“Our children will inherit a war eviller still”

John Maxwell Image’s latest letter to his old friend W F Smith saw hypocrisy among those advocating the growing of vegetables, while he and Florence heard that both Percy and Sydney had been wounded.

29 Barton Road
1 Sept. ‘18
My very dear ancient

We went to the Botanical Garden the other day, and found the great lawn stripped of grass, and from end to end now green with potatoes – that of course, one expected – but I boiled with wrath when great beds, which had been carefully set out with scientifically labelled specimens are now filled with kitchen vegetables – e.g. faded yellow beans rattling in their pods – for not a single one of them, either here or in other beds, had been picked. Woe unto you, S. and P., hypocrites – it is all shabby humbug. At least these might have been brought to utility. But for the publicity to myself, I would fain bring this scandal under the eye of the Local Food Controller, and give a dressing down to the paid Curator…

You object to RC “mummeries” and genuflexions which teach the men at the front to forget the inside of a church. What do you think of this, which I heard the other day from the Medical Officer of an Army Hospital at Cherryhinton? It had happened to the RC Padre only the day previously. A poor Anzac soldier was dying of his wounds, and in very low heart. The RC, who liked the man, was endeavouring to comfort him with the assurance that God is a Merciful God and will pardon the sinner who repents. “Ah, Sir”, said the dying man, “that is not my trouble. I know Him to be merciful: it’s the other chap I’m afraid of.” (The word used wasn’t “chap” but “b—“.)

To me it seems that our best, and only, chance, is for America to crush the High Command and Junkers while she is still hot on the business. If we cool down, the Hun, with our own Pacifists and Defeatists, will be too clever for us – and our children will inherit a war eviller still. It is horrible the slaughter and loss among the families known to us here. Not one seems to have escaped, wounds at least.

Florence has two brothers, Lieutenants in the Norfolks and the Civil Service Rifles respectively. When the push began, we had such a joyous letter from Percy at breakfast, and that same afternoon, as I was sitting in my study, a rap came at the door, and Ann’s voice: “Mistress has had a telegram. Mr Percy is wounded.” Very smart the WO was – “regret to inform you that … admitted 8 General Hospital Rouen August 9th. Gunshot wound left wrist and scalp severe.” Admitted Aug. 9: and news to us at Cambridge the very same day.
Then Sydney, the Norfolks, after fighting Thursday, Friday and Saturday – a shell landed exactly where he stood – with 6 of his men – only 1 of the 7 not killed or wounded.

You would imagine Florrie to be miserable. On the contrary, she is in brighter spirits than she had ever shewn during the English Advance. She feels that they are safe, for a short time – no anxiety: and I heard her giving joy, two days ago, to her Cook Ruth, who has just heard news of her brother being wounded and in hospital and therefore safe (poor Ann’s brother was killed).

We have had such charming letters from Colonels and Generals etc, re both boys, each of whom is a favourite in his Regiment. Sydney (whom his Colonel describes as always working “at Concert pitch”) will, I trust, soon be well enough to return. Poor Percy – they fear he will lose the use of his left hand.

Re the Greben. Admiral Troubridge (so I heard) had her nicely encircled, when suddenly came an Admiralty wire, ordering him to let her alone. He was recalled to England to explain his action – and produced this very telegram. They identified the room in the Admiralty from whence it came: but professed inability to identify the sender. Credit Judaeus Apella – Traitors in high places – who will never be dislodged. It is our own people we have to fear.

Kind love from us both to you both.

Ever yours
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

“A man that will never be satisfied”

An internee grumbled about the vegetable-heavy meals in Reading Prison.

H M Prison
Reading

Aug. 22nd, 1918

From the MO to the Governor

Concerning the petition of H. Schraplowsky, I reported upon him on July 19.18. Also upon May 8th 1918.

He is now wearing a double truss and it fits him properly.

He spoke to me the other day about not liking the peas and beans, and I advised him that they made up a nourishing part of his diet.
He is a man that will never be satisfied. Please see my previous reports.

W T Freeman.

There is no evidence of his food being returned uneaten.

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Not much to grumble at

The Governor of Reading Prison was defensive about complaints about the food put forward by one of the Irish internees.

Place of Internment
Reading
29 May 1918

W L Cole

1. The Commissioners’ instructions are – no letters in or out – no visits.

2. When formerly here, the Home Office allowed parcels of food &c. Now food is controlled & parcels mean letters to acknowledge.

3. By Commissioners’ orders these men were on Local Prison diet. This does not carry tea or coffee. Further as tea is rationed in Reading, 1 ½ oz per head per week, they could not buy it without coupons, and they cannot write [for it]. Now the diet has been altered – as for the remainder of the interned aliens – they can have tea for breakfast or coffee.

4. They receive 3 ½ oz a head a week, the same as other interned men – Reading maximum ration is 4 oz per week. They receive 14 oz of bread daily, the same as other men. Cereals are limited to 117 oz a head a week.

5. They receive potatoes daily and on most days of the week a second vegetable – leeks – or something else as well – where procurable.

I will give their food today – not much to grumble at. They can supplement that by purchasing non controlled articles.

Breakfast – 6 oz bread, 1 pint porridge, ¼ oz margarine, 1 pint coffee.

Dinner – 2 oz bread, 1 ½ oz salt pork, 4 oz haricot beans, 16 oz potatoes, 4 oz stewed rhubarb (fresh), 4 oz leeks (from garden).

Supper – 5 oz bread, 1 pint cocoa, ¼ oz margarine, 6 oz potatoes, 1 ½ oz salt pork (alternatively with cheese).

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

The absolute necessity for food production

Children contributed to the food supply.

Hinton Waldrist
April 26th 1918

Received letters signed Beresford thanking boys for their work in sending vegetables to the sailors.

Ascot Heath
April 26th 1918

Occasional extra time in the Garden will be taken, in view of the absolute necessity for food production.

Sandhurst
April 26th 1918

The recently formed War Savings Association has made an excellent start with about 60 members.

Hinton Waldrist C of E School log book (C/EL84/2, p. 165); Ascot Heath Boys’ School log book (C/EL110/4, p. 94); Lower Sandhurst School log book (C/EL66/1, p. 436)

“The knowledge that it is a little portion of ‘our bit’ will repay our efforts”

The Ascot soup kitchen was a success.

The following report has been received from the Teachers who have organised the Soup Kitchen with so much energy and success.

“This attempt to cope with the food difficulty has now been at work for about a month, and owing to the kindness of many friends has met with considerable success. In spite of the fact that on four occasions one school has had to stand out because of the small capacity of our boiler, the average number of children partaking of the soup is 140. Our sincere thanks are due to those who have made this effort possible, to those who have given help by sending vegetables, cereals, etc., those who give of time and labour in making and preparing for the soup, and in serving it. The appreciation of the children, and the knowledge that it is a little portion of ‘our bit’ will repay our efforts.”

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, April 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/4)

Help in these difficult days

Food shortages led to a soup kitchen being set up in Ascot.

By the effort of the Teachers a Soup Kitchen is being started as the Schools for the benefit of the children, and we are sure many parents will be most grateful for this help in these difficult days. The Managers have made a small grant towards utensils, and gifts of vegetables, or offers of personal help will be welcomed by the Teachers of the Rector.

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, March 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/3)