No government has ever had to face a greater task than that which will now come to power

The suffragan Bishop of Buckingham warned there was still a great deal of work to do.

The Bishop’s Message

The war is over and we cannot find words to express our feelings: only in our thanksgiving to Almighty God can we give utterance to the thoughts of our hearts.

The war is over, but the stupendous task remains of repairing the breaches, building up the waste places, and restoring the paths to dwell in. This can be done only if the same spirit is maintained-the unity of effort, the subordination of selfish interests, the wise leadership, the loyal co-operation, the self-sacrifice, the organization, the discipline which has brought us to victory – if this is preserved in peace. The spiritual forces of the whole world must be moved in action. The League of Nations is not a fancy of visionaries; it is a practical possibility which can be realized if Christians unite to bring it about. It is not enough to wish for it, or even to pray for it, we must work for it. Surely here the Church must make its influence felt and not be daunted by difficulties in the way.


The Marriage Laws

We have reason to be devoutly thankful that the Divorce Bill was defeated in the House of Lords, but there are strong forces at work and we must be watchful. It is indeed distressing that at such a time as this there should be such persistent efforts to lower the moral standard – for that must be the effect in spite of the specious arguments. We owe a debt to Lord Parmoor for his vigorous leading.

The General Election

No government has ever had to face a greater task than that which will now come to power. The election will be a great test of the nation’s purpose. Can we put aside all petty issues and party bitterness and selfish aims and unitedly undertake the great work of reconstruction in a manner worthy of a people that has proved itself so great? The prayers which have been such a power in the war can be no less effective in gaining the victories of peace. Here are some questions on which we hope the church may speak with a united voice, for example, the immediate need of dealing with the housing of the people, the improved standard of Wages, the Education question, and the retention of control of the liquor trade. We render humble and hearty thanks to Almighty God fo0r the great and glorious victory, and for the fidelity, courage and devotion of the allied forces.

We pray

For the great Council of the nations which shall determine the conditions of peace.

For the ministry of the crown and those upon whom rests the duty of leadership in restoring conditions of peace in all countries.

For all those who profess and call themselves Christians, that they may act accordingly to their profession.

For the Church, that it may, by wise action, have due influence in the counsels of the nation.

For our troops, that they may be strong to resist the special temptations to which they are exposed.

For the soldiers who are prepared to take Holy Orders.

For the General Election.

For the Central Board of Finance, and for success in the promotion of the Central Fund of the Church of England.

For the revival of Missionary work which has been hindered by the war.

For the Diocesan Board of Missions.

For the C.E.T.S.

For the Diocesan Inspectors.

E.D. BUCKINGHAM.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P191/28A/25)

Advertisements

How the high wages are spent

Good news was tempered with sadness as men continued to die.

Florence Vansittart Neale
19 October 1918

Dear old Christopher died of pneumonia or flu. None of his family there. Up at the Orkneys. On hospital ship “Agadir”….

Had letters from girls. Wonderful entrance into Lille – all inhabitants kissing. Bring sugar & sweets for our soldiers.

William Hallam
19th October 1918

This afternoon I went through the town.… I could not help noticing this afternoon all the people especially women are dressed up to the nines and even then looking into the drapers windows for more clothes. This is how the high wages are spent.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9); and William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

Bleeding the country

Railway worker William Hallam felt guilty at the higher pay he was getting for working on munitions.

4th October 1918

Wages 4£. 11s. 7d. after 10/6 stopped. As we have a 3/6 a week increase in wages & 9 wks back pay to come. It’s bleeding the country though.

Diary of William Hallam of Swindon (D/EX1415/25)

“All news from Russia is horrible, and it is like seeing a criminal lunatic asylum self governed”

Lady Mary Glyn was struggling to cope with the wartime shortage of domestic servants.

30 Half Moon Street
Oct 4 1918

My own darling

I have stayed in bed till luncheon time trying to understand all the dazzling news of these victories, but the fighting is dreadful, and the struggle far from over. How glad you will be to have Armentieres in our hands again.

I am still without a maid. The really good ones can get enormous wages & I must try to get a more settled establishment before I can make anyone comfortable. It is so absurd when everything of domestic bliss hangs upon a nonexistent kitchen girl.

Ressington in today’s Morning Post is good – I hope you see it? – on the American army & methods. All news from Russia is horrible, and it is like seeing a criminal lunatic asylum self governed….

Very own Mur

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/5)

Down with Capitalism, Militarism, and War!

Advertisements for local left wing parties reveal a lesser known aspect to local life including attitudes to the war.

The Independent Labour Party
is an International Socialist Party. Down with Capitalism, Militarism, and War! Up with Socialism and the Brotherhood of all nations!

National Socialist Party, Reading branch.

All unattached SOCIALISTS are invited to join the above branch, the members of which recognise the necessity of the success of the Allied Forces in the present struggle to ensure the early realisation of Democracy and Socialism.

British Socialist Party
is opposed to Imperialism, Capitalism, and war, and is working for an immediate peoples’ peace.

The Voice of Labour Is like one crying in the wilderness. It is crying out against High Prices: it is crying out for more wages by which to pay the high prices: it is crying out against the people who are making the prices high. These people do not heed the cry, they meet the demand for more wages then just put a little more on the goods than they have paid in extra wages.

Give up crying out and do something!

The people must –

Control raw material.
Control production.
Control prices,

For the benefit of the whole community.

The only way – join the Co-Op.
The Stores that are owned and controlled by the Members, and do your duty.

The National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers
125 Friar Street

The Reading Branch, in conjunction with many others, is demanding that the Government shall increase the separation allowance to soldiers’ and sailors’ wives and their dependants owing to the increased cost of living; also that discharged men should be more fully represented on Pension Committees and other bodies dealing with such matters. Lord Rhondda on his death-bed sent this message to the Natioanl Baby Week. “The care of the children is a sacred duty.” How can the wives left at home to keep the home fires burning feed and clothe the babies on the present miserable allowance? We want all discharged men to join us to help us in this good work. Also to wake up the Pensions Ministry. A member speaking in the House of Commons said, “There are 2000 clerks at Chelsea dealing with 12000 pension cases weekly. That means one case per day for each clerk, yet it often takes twelve to fourteen months to get a man’s case settled.” Come along to help us to get a move on.

The Reading Worker: The Official Journal of Organised Labour in Reading and District, no. 21, September 1918 (D/EX1485/10/1/2)

Statements about food prices not calculated to make people less irritable in these trying times

Rising food prices were a big problem.

Matters of Public Interest

I hear rumours that [the paper] will have to stop publication because of the shortage of paper and the resulting increased cost of production. I understand that the cost has more than doubled, and that the charge of 1d per copy has somewhat decreased sales…

We are informed that it is quite essential that the price of meat should be raised, yet farmers are saying that butchers are making exceedingly large profits at their expense, and there was some rather strong talk only a month or two ago that the price of meat ought to have been two or three pence per pound less, and that bacon could be sold at 1s per pound to 1s 6d and still make a fair profit. These statements, whether true or false, are not calculated to make people less irritable in these trying times, and all tend to justify the dissatisfaction that is felt by workers at the exorbitant prices they have to pay…

Prices soar, and in order to pay them the workers struggle to obtain higher wages, and are abused for so doing, whilst the profiteer goes on his way rejoicing, because in spite of increases of wages, the relative position of the wage earner in this town, whatever may be the case in munitions areas, remains much the same on the average, in spite of increases and war bonuses which have been obtained. The old economic law of Capitalism, supply and demand, continues to operate in spite of the restriction imposed by Acts of Parliament and Departmental Orders, and owing to the comparative shortage of labour, the workers have found their struggle to force wages to some degree of equality with the increase of prices a little easier than in normal times. Still the old class war continues, as in the nature of things it is bound to do as long as the two classes of wage payers and wage receivers continues to exist. There can be only one ending, i.e. the abolition of the wages system in its entirety….

There is no doubt that during this war it would have been better for the workers as a whole (and a higher real wages [sic] would have been obtained) if they had devoted most of their efforts to keeping down prices and reducing profits rather than to securing higher wages and war bonuses.

The Reading Worker: The Official Journal of Organised Labour in Reading and District, no. 21, September 1918 (D/EX1485/10/1/2)

“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)

It is hoped to hand the Lunatic Asylum over as a war hospital

Cost and staffing pressures affected the county Lunatic Asylum at Cholsey.

War Bonuses to the Attendants, Nurses and Artizan [sic] Staff have been increased in view of the existing conditions of the labour market.

Since the commencement of the war 37 male Attendants and other employees have joined the colours. Two of these have been awarded the Military Medal, 7 wounded, and 4 have been killed or have died….

The continued high prices ruling for provisions and all necessary articles has necessitated the raising of the maintenance charges from 11/8 to 12/3 per patient per week. The Committee fear that in view of the prevailing conditions, this figure may have to be revised at no distant date….

At the request of the Board of Control the Committee have agreed to receive, subject to certain conditions as regards the provision of the necessary extra Staff, to receive [sic] a number of patients from another Asylum. This step has been rendered necessary by the shortage of Hospital accommodation, which it is hoped to remedy by handing over the Asylum in question to the War Office for that purpose….

Annual report of Committee of Visitors of the Berkshire Lunatic Asylum, year ending 31 March 1918 (C/CL/C1/1/21)

Soldiers’ pay for digging the garden

Scattered Homes were small children’s homes intended to provide a more homelike atmosphere for children in the workhouse authorities’ care.

26th March, 1918

The following Committee is appointed to consider the application of the Porter and Porteress for an increase in their salary and to consider a scale of war bonuses for the Officers, viz Messrs A. Frogley, W. L. Bennett, J. A. Gauntlett, R. K. Slade, Revd C W H Griffith and Miss Campbell.

It is resolved that L/C Buckley be paid the usual Soldiers pay of 1/8 per day with rations whilst employed in digging the garden at the Scattered Homes.

Minutes of Wantage Board of Guardians (G/WT1/23, p. 305)

Appointed for the period of the War

Workhouse staff demanded higher pay.

26th February, 1918

An application from the Porter and Porteress for an increase in their salaries is referred to a Committee to be appointed at the next meeting who will be asked to consider also a scale of war bonuses for Officers.

A letter is read from the Local Government Board offering no objection to the temporary arrangement made by the Guardians for the nursing of the sick inmates in the Infirmary for the period of the War.

It is therefore resolved that Mrs Eliza Anna Staniland, the Matron, be appointed for the period of the War to take charge of the nursing at the Infirmary.

Minutes of Wantage Board of Guardians (G/WT1/23, p. 299)

“Despite all the talk of brotherhood and solidarity, it is the hard bargaining of the Labour market to which the men will return from the trenches”

Socialist agitators were concerned that it would be back to the bad old days after the war.

“After The War” Problems: 1. – The Class Struggle

It is first of all essential in discussing “after-the-war” labour problems to realise that at bottom they are precisely the same as the old “pre-war” problems… Europe – whatever the colours of its map – will be, after the wat, the same old Europe that we have known all our lives; a Europe inhabited by a few capitalists and a multitudinous proletariat – a Europe of heaven knows how many nationalities, but only two classes…

While the control of industry is in the hands of a capitalist oligarchy, and of the State they control, while Labour is a commodity to be bought and sold, there cannot be, in any real sense, a new England.

Despite all the talk of brotherhood and solidarity, it is the hard bargaining of the Labour market to which the men will return from the trenches. They may have saved England: but their share of the salvage will be only their own labour power, by the sale of which they must gain their livelihood. They may have won political freedom for the world: but they will have to begin again to fight for economic freedom for themselves.

And they will not be able to take up the battle where they left in in the summer of 1914. The fight will be the same, but the conditions under which it is waged will have been modified considerably – and modified greatly to the disadvantage of Labour…

Prices may fall at the end of the war, but they will not fall to the old level, and it will need a stiff struggle to bring the general standard of wages into conformity with the new prices. Every indication points to an even harder battle over the restoration of the rules and privileges which were so lightly abandoned in the hot fit of patriotism. Promise of restoration were cheerfully made, and trustfully accepted; but it is a long way back to March, 1915, and the capitalist press is already busy explaining why and how restoration will be neither practicable nor desirable. So, to, with the rights sacrificed under the Munitions Acts, with the concessions with regard to dilution, with every sacrifice of freedom or status that Labour has made. The employers have, naturally enough, little wish to abandon their gains; they have realised, too, the possibilities of the exploitation of patriotism, and will not forget the experience. Already the cry is being raised that in trade war which is to come with peace, the whole energies of the nation will be demanded; that strikes will still be acts of treachery to the nation. All that has been preached with regard to munitions of war will be preached with regard to munitions of peace.

The Reading Worker: The Official Journal of Organised Labour in Reading and District, no. 13, January 1918 (D/EX1485/10/1/1)

“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)

“She is going to work at the military aircraft factory”

The high wages on offer in munitions factories even to untrained young girls attracted one young monitress, or trainee teacher, to abandon school work.

Abingdon Conduit Rd Infants School
3rd December 1917

Ivy Middleton (monitress) left without notice as she is going to work at the military aircraft factory.

George Palmer Boys’ School, Reading
3rd December 1917

His Worship the Mayor, F.A.Sargent Esq., and Mr Baseden, H[ead] Master of Swansea Rd School, addressed a joint meeting of Girls & Boys re Work of War Savings’ Association, from 10am to 11.

Log books of Abingdon Conduit Rd Infants School (C/EL4/2, p. 175); and George Palmer Boys’ School, Reading (89/SCH/8/1, p. 147)

A salary increase for teachers

Teachers were well rewarded in war conditions.

2nd November 1917

The Head Teacher received increase of salary from October 22nd making £95 per annum plus War Bonus of £7/10/0.

Little Wittenham CE School log book (C/EL24, p. 96)

The war will be followed by a revolution

A soldier home on leave envisaged potential revolution after the war.

THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION

No very penetrating observation of the signs of the times is necessary to discover that in all probability the war will be followed in England by disturbances which may amount to a revolution. If many people are unaware of the urgency of this peril it is because the greater part of labour is still inarticulate and because, in response to the demand for an appearance of unity at all costs, labour is at present willing to wait till the war should be ended before it makes its demands known.

Many factors will combine to precipitate the crisis. The days before the war were full of a growing industrial unrest on the one hand, and the example of threatened civil war on the other. The Irish rebellion, the growth of Sinn Fein, and, above all, the Russian Revolution, have had influences greater almost than can be imagined. Sources of irritation and distrust are to be found in the conduct of the war itself. Finally, the end of the war will leave society in a state of flux in which all who were discontented with the old state of things will see a condition propitious for change. And they will have learned the use of bayonets ….

It will always be surprising to some people that any radical change should be thought desirable in “free England”; still more so that a revolution should be deemed necessary to bring it about. But they forget that political freedom, even when it exists, does not imply an economic equivalent. They hardly realise that millions of the men and women of “free England” are condemned by our economic system to spend their lives in joyless drudgery for a wage which hardly permits mere physical efficieny. Such conditions are strangulation to the spiritual in man; and the very danger lies in this. It is not ideals that make revolutions; it is empty stomachs and empty souls, and hunger may desperately clutch the wrong things and content itself with the purely material.

What remedy, then, can we offer? The placid politicians who propose mere goodwill can have no idea of the acuteness of the situation.

Russell Brain

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)