The amount of work done, even during the last year of the War, when people were so short handed

Tribute is paid to the women of Furze Platt for their contributions.

Report of the Furze Platt War Working Party

In March 1918, a special appeal was made for funds to carry on the work at a time of great national danger. That appeal received a steady response all through the year, bringing in a total of nearly £60. When the accounts are audited a full report will appear in the press. In the meanwhile the details of the actual work done are given below.

1916 1917 1918
Bags 30 300 –
Bed Socks 78 219 310
Bandages 265 45
Bed Jackets 115 64 57
Helmets 73 7 34
Dressing Gowns 3 – –
Nightingales 10 18 –
Mosquito Nets 70 84 –
Mittens 53 135 236
Mufflers 6 68 264
Socks – 9 57
Shirts 29 26 –
Sun Shields 50 161 –
Anti-Vermin Vests- 112 226
Pyjamas – 7 –
Slippers 77 21 135
Swabs – 300 –
Helpless-case – – 25
Work Totals 859 1476 1354

Subscriptions: 1916, £64 12s 1d. 1917, £54 12s 1½d. 1918, £39 0s 4d.

The amount of work done, even during the last year of the War, when people were so short handed and had very little time to give to outside work, is a very great credit to the workers of Furze Platt. I should like to express on behalf of myself and all those interested in this work, our appreciation of all that has been done by Mrs E H Wyatt and the Collectors to make the Furze Platt District of the Maidenhead Branch a capable and reliable contributor to the Voluntary Work Organisations of the Country.

G M Skrine, Hon, Sec.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, April 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)

Advertisements

Strain every nerve to keep the work going at this crisis of the war

Women in Furze Platt were busy making clothes for the troops.

Furze Platt War Working Party Report for 1917

CR. £ s. d.
Subscriptions 17 7 0
Donations 3 2 10
Collected 31 12 0
Balance, 1916 6 16 0
Debt … 2 10 3 ½
£ 61 8 1 ½

DR. £ s. d.
Cleaning and Firing 0 18 10
Cheque Book …… …0 2 0
Materials… … 55 7 3 ½
Lady Jellicoe’s Fund for Sailors
… … … 5 0 0
£ 61 8 1 ½

Garments Completed
300 Swabs.
219 Bed Socks (pairs).
112 Anti-Vermin Vests.
200 Bags.
161 Sun Shields.
135 Pairs Mittens.
64 Bed Jackets.
18 Nightingales.
9 Pairs Socks.
45 Bandages.
21 Slippers.
7 Helmets.
7 Pyjamas.
26 Shirts.
68 Mufflers.
84 Mosquito nets.

Total … 1476

On the whole the report is satisfactory; the debt was covered by material in stock towards this year’s work, but the funds show a drop of nearly £6 on the amount raised in 1916… We have been able to keep up to our standard of work done, in spite of the greater strain of work which falls on everybody’s shoulders these days.

I have just received a copy of the urgent appeal sent to this district from the head organisation in London, calling upon all voluntary workers to strain every nerve to keep the work going at this crisis of the war. I am sure Furze Platt will respond to the call so far as the workers are concerned; and I trust those living in the neighbourhood will do their best to keep the fund going, and that some who have not subscribed before will either become monthly subscribers or will send a donation. It is absolutely necessary, owing to the price of the material, that we should raise more money this year, if we are to contribute the same amount of work.

I regret that I have been unable to publish this report sooner, owing to having so much work on my hands just now.

Yours faithfully, GLADYS M. SKRINE, Hon.Sec., F.P.W.W.P.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

A most unsoldierly appearance

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister Florence to gently discourage her frequent food gifts, as he felt guilty accepting them when he knew food was in short supply in England.

Mar. 6, 1917
My dear WF

Yes, I got the socks & very good & welcome they are.

I’ve just read a very interesting document on “Delousing”.
Camphor and Naphthalene are or is recommended. Can you in some odd corner of your time help me in the greatest problem of this part of the world next to shell dodging!

I loved your last letter: as I think I have told you already, my greatest regret is that I can’t preserve your letters. I keep ‘em till my pockets present a most unsoldierly appearance & then they have to go west. Why “west” by the way?

Garwood wishes me to thank you for the “rum” you sent him. It makes a splendid drink.

The food question seems to be acute, and I feel that we are probably living better here than the masses are at home. Of course I love your parcels, but don’t you think, dear, that the time has come when they should be suspended, or made more occasional, and the cake cut out altogether. Please don’t be hurt, we thoroughly appreciate your dear gifts, but personally I almost have a guilty conscience in enjoying them.

I have been so busy I am sorry there is no time for more just now but to send you both my dearest love and to hope you’re both as fit as I am.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/6/24)

“Only those who have lived amongst the Boche can fully appreciate what it means to be at the mercy of a brutal bully”

A man educated at Reading School reveals the horrors of being a prisoner of the Germans.

THE UNSPEAKABLE HUN.
A True Story.

It was Thursday morning, February 16th of last year [1917], and intensely cold, the thermometer registering 10 degrees below Zero. At 9 a German soldier came to tell me that I was wanted at the camp hospital. I was there met by the British doctor, Capt. Frank Park, C.A.M.C., who told me that their ere sixteen British Prisoners had just newly arrived from the station seven Kilometres away. With him I went into ward 2, and there saw 16 specimens of humanity. That is all you could call them, 16 frozen, hollow cheeked wrecks, the remnants of hundreds and hundreds of once strong, healthy men, who had been taken prisoners and kept to work behind the lines. Their comrades were dead.

Now these men were captured in September, October and November, 1916, and kept to work close to the front, working in preparation of the big German retreat then planned to take place in February and March, 1917. Their work was demolishing houses, bridges, felling trees, making roads and digging trenches, those called the Hindenburg line. This line and others were built by prisoners of war. We praised German engineering skill and paid silent tribute to the endurance and work of German working parties, but the work of prisoners, Russians and Rumanians in thousands and tens of thousands, and of British. They worked under appalling conditions, brutal treatment, blows, kicks, death if they refused, with housing and quarters not fit for pigs and food not enough to keep even body and soul together. What did it matter if they died, there were plenty more where they came from? Germany numbered her prisoners by millions. Prisoners they were, not prisoners of war; slaves, yea, worse than slaves.

These details these poor wretches told us with tears in their eyes when they spoke of some dear friend and pal who died beside them at his work, died of exposure, starvation, or our own shell fire. They told us of the clothes they had to wear. There was no need to tell, we saw it ourselves when we undressed them. Here is the list, and think of the temperature and cold as you read it:

Thin service tunic and trousers, old cotton shirt, socks and boots, and old cap. That was all, no warm under clothing, no great coat. All these the Boche had stolen under the plea they needed to be fumigated. But they were never returned.

And what did the outside world know of this or care? It may have cared, it must have cared, but it knew nothing. Germany took great care of that. These men were reported in British Casualty lists as “missing,” and missing they will remain till the end of time. But they were not missing; they were once strong healthy men, prisoners of war. They were not allowed to write to their relatives, Germany did not want the world to know where they were, or of their existence.

Amongst the sixteen who reached Minden were men who had been prisoners four or five months. This I found out as a fact when I wrote home to their relatives. They told me of pals who died beside them and I reported them to the Record Office of their Regiments and my letter never got home. It was always a mystery to us that these sixteen and other little parties later ever got back into Germany. They attributed it to the fact that, being men of fine physique and health, they didn’t succumb as quickly as their comrades went to hospital suffering chiefly from dysentery, recovered a little strength, and the Germans, seeing it was no good sending them back to the line. Put them on a train and back they came into Germany.

This is just one isolated instance of many that might be quoted. What one must realise in relation to these crimes is that while primarily they may be said to be the work of the system and spirit inculcated throughout the German Army by “Prussian Militarism,” yet nevertheless they were perpetrated by the Boche generally, and that right down to the very last German soldier this devilish brutality is to be expected and looked for. This is not generally realized, and only those who have lived amongst the Boche can fully appreciate what it means to be at the mercy of a brutal bully. You have no possible redress, no chance of even making your conditions known to the outside world, and you have only your own British spirit to carry you through.

If you can realise what this means, perhaps then you can appreciate what the ex-prisoner feels when he tells you that never again can he hold out his hand in friendship to a German.

CAPT. REV. A. GILLES WILKEN.
(Late British Prisoner of War).

Reading School magazine December 1918 (SCH3/14/34)

All right, in a topsy turvy world, but assaulted by vermin

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister Florence with a blackly comic description of dealing with vermin at the Front.

Decr 7, 1916
My dear WF

A few lines to let you know that if the rest of the world is topsy-
turvy, I’m all right.

This in spite of a very troublesome day yesterday.

To begin at the beginning, by the simple expedient of obtaining new blankets and jumping into a complete new change of clothes, I solved the vermin difficulty. At least I thought I had until yesterday when a persistent irritation of the left forearm led to investigation with unhappy results. However I was cheered to think that here at last was a chance for Aunt Margaret’s shirt. So I took the treatment thro’ all its stages, defended my cubicle with a “box barrage” of Keating’s cum sulphur and retired to roost in a whirl of asepso, brimstone and virtue – the first result was to get rid of the [illegible], who sniffing the Keatinged atmosphere, decided that “outside was good enough for him”. I was just dropping off to sleep when I found his place had been taken by a large rat who perched on the cigar box which had contained Aunt Margaret’s shirt, just above my head, was devouring the stump of a candle by which I had been reading a few pages of The Lost Tribes.

From that moment I got no peace – encouraged by the comfortable warmth of my bed the little centipedes attacked in force at all points – but the Asepso – Keating’s – sulphur – Aunt Margaret’s shirt was too strong a defence, and baffled and exhausted they fell back upoj their original line, there to hold a concert of war. Apparently the result was a decision to evacuate – anyway my person seemed for the next hour or two to be reckoned a sort of tram centre. However the evacuation completed I slept until, awakened to receive a very late or very early post. Previously I glanced thro’ the various papers until I got to orders – nothing on the front page; turned over and there staring me in the face I read – 1345 – The Louse Problem on the Western Front. With a yell I hurled the hudget at the orderly and retired beneath the blankets there to solve the problem from the sure defence of Aunt Margaret’s shirt.

This and the rat problem are all about [sic] we have to worry about – the rat problem I shall solve with an air pistol I am going to get.

[Censored]

I’m as glad to get all your letters and parcels – the letters are often my only contact with home, and they are so refreshing in these monotonous surroundings.

[Censored]
Sorry this is such a verminous monograph.

My dear love to JMI.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/5/37-41)

“Things are pretty unbearable here, now”

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister Florence, asking for cigarettes and a treatment for lice. He was clearly greatly appreciated by his commanding officer for his remarkable efficiency, but was thinking of getting a commission.

2.11.16
Dear WF

Don’t worry about sending me anything at all except Fryers – that I can’t get here. By the way, do you get this “out of bond”? If ordered from a tobacconist to be sent out to me regularly, it would of course be much cheaper and save you some trouble.

The difficulties at home are of course unknown to us and I quite understand that you have a good deal of unnecessary worry over me, as you don’t know how well we are provided for or can provide for ourselves.

Thank you very much for the gloves and the helmet – they’ll be most useful, but don’t send any sweaters or comforters or spiritive, etc, as I have plenty of clothing and woollen things – our needs get simpler as we go on.

The dear old ladies of St Albans wrote and congratulated me on my medal.

[Censored]

Captain Holliday is to have 6 months home service. I don’t quite know what I shall do, but if he doesn’t get into something where he can get me with him I think I shall try for a cadet school course with a view to taking a commission. Things are pretty unbearable here, now.
(more…)