Alas! glorious victories cost precious lives!

There was news of several Maidenhead men, one of whom had paid the ultimate price while taking part in an important operation.

OUR SOLDEIRS.

Reginald Hill is at a Convalescent Home, but he has not quite done with the Hospital yet. However, he hopes to say farewell to his friends at Sheffield in a month or so. Ernest Bristow has not yet been able to make the promised move to Cliveden, apparently because there has been a slight set-back in the healing process. But he is in excellent spirits. Harold Islip is in Hospital in France, suffering from a slight attack of trench fever. He expects shortly to return to England to be trained for a Commission. Wilfrid Collins has returned to Canada. Cecil Meade has been invalided home from Salonika, with a touch of malaria. He is reporting himself immediately, but does not expect to return to the East. Benjamin Gibbons is out of hospital again, and has been sent to Ireland. Herbert Brand has been gazetted 2nd Lieut. in the Staffordshires. Alfred Vardy went over to France at the beginning of April. Harry Baldwin has been home on leave, and anticipates being sent on active service (naval) very shortly. Wallace Mattingley, after a year’s training at Sandhurt, has received a Commission in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

We deeply regret to record the death of Arthur Ada, who was killed in the attack upon Zeebrugge on the night of Monday, April 22nd. Alas! glorious victories cost precious lives! We sympathise deeply with his sorrowing friends and relatives. There will be a touch of pride and admiration in the recollection of him when the manner of his death is recalled. It is said that before the operation actually took place everyone was informed quite clearly of the risk, but that no one backed out. The body was brought to Maidenhead for burial, and after a service in the Baptist Chapel (where Mr. Ada was organist), conducted by Revs. T. W. Way and T. F. Lewis, the interment was made at the Cemetery. Mr. Ada at one time contemplated offering himself for Missionary service.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, May 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

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‘Hungering for something beyond the vapidity of his military associates’

Sydney Spencer contributes a pen portrait of a fellow officer who shared his artistic temperament:

28 March 1915

I want to commandeer today’s page with a description of a Lieutenant Poole who had tea with us. He is a Cambridge man & had only just been made a fellow of St John’s Oxford when he joined. He is a delightful man but his open disgust at all things military is extraordinary. He is much loved by his platoon though, which shews that he knows how to control his disgust. He is a brilliant scholar, a true gentleman and a Christian – attributes which seem lamentably absent in the majority of vapid insipid looking subalterns! It was almost pathetic after tea when Mr Way asked me to play some music. I played a slow movement from a Beethoven sonata & then Mr Way asked what constituted a sonata & I gave him a sketch from different sonatas, & played a few bars of the Waldstein. When Lt Poole heard this he begged me to play it right through. I protested that it was awfully difficult, & could scarcely play more than a few bars. He still insisted & so I stumbled through it & he listened to it with delight! The psychological reason for his delight was I feel sure that he was starving for something intellectual & refining, hungering for something beyond the vapidity of his military associates & so he revelled in listening to my poor struggles just as a starving man – even if an epicure – would revel in a dry muddy crust of bread. I asked him if it were not possible to mentally hibernate, saying that that was what I hoped to do, as the only means of making existence & a commission at all tolerable!

Diary of Sydney Spencer of Cookham (D/EX801/14)

Peppered with rosettes by fast women

Oxford student Sydney Spencer of Cookham reports on festivities in aid of Belgian refugees, where he found the tone rather unseemly.

Sydney Spencer’s diary, Saturday Nov 7th 9.30 pm
I have just been to the Union to write. Today is Oxford’s Belgium day. The town tonight was absolutely packed with people, the thing seemed almost more an affair of joy & ‘gala’ than a deed of mercy. Every man, woman & child was wearing a badge & many undergrads were absolutely peppered with rosettes from head to foot – literally – for they had huge bows of red yellow & black on each shoe! Way, when he watched with me on Wednesday afternoon – (& by the way I went into Pusey House chapel to see it, it is artistic, light as is so possible in Gothic – altogether satisfying in the aesthetic way) – said that he thought that this Belgian badge day, good in itself, was bad in that giddy fast women were the sellers, & so to speak sold their affections to gain the money of the men. This is perhaps rather extreme but I am in agreement with him.

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1914 (D/EX801/12)

Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham also attended the event, but was more interested in the successful Japanese assault on the German-held city of Tsingtao (now Qingdao) in China.

I motored to Oxford. Lunch at Randolph. Belgian Day….

Tsingtao fallen. Great blow to Germans. Relieve our troops and ships.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)