“Suppose it had been the other thing, not victory but defeat”

The vicar of Reading St Giles was grateful the war had ended in victory at last.

Notes from the Vicar

S. Martin’s Day, November the 11th, will always be remembered as the day on which the armistice was signed and hostilities ceased. It was a wonderful deliverance for which everyone was devoutly thankful. It was most encouraging to see the way groups of people were to be found in church all that day thanking God for his great mercies; and many made their Communion and were present at the Eucharist next morning. On Tuesday evening there was a special service of thanksgiving, which was well attended. The service began with hymn 166, followed by Psalm 100, Isaiah lx1. Was read by the Rev. H.C. Frith; then psalm 46 was sung, and a second lesson (Rev.xx1. 1-9) was read by the Rev. F. Young. The Creed was recited and a special Thanksgiving prayers were offered by the Vicar. The other Hymns were 379, 165 and 298. After the procession a solemn Te Deum was sung. The Vicar gave a short address, taking as his text Psalms 29; verse 10 “The Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.” Only a few words. Thank God. Peace at last! That is the one thought that fills every heart to-day. Thank God. We are met here tonight, at short notice, to say, consciously and deliberately, the same words. Thank God, Peace! Our first thought then must be – it could not be anything else-the thought of God “The snare is broken and we are delivered.” How has this come about? As was said wisely in the Times on Saturday: “No doubt we are right in ascribing our victory to the skill and valour of the men of all ranks, who, as the allied nations, for more than four years, have fought for us by land and sea and air. By their amazing valour and indomitable spirit at last are enemies have been defeated. But they could not have fought thus in their own strength. He is of an uncomprehending mind who does not lift up his heart to the lord of hosts by whose power our valiant men and our allies have attained the victory.”

So said the Times, and that is full of significance. To God alone we ascribe this happy victory. Peace after four years and a quarter of war, and such war as the world has never known. To realize the blessing of our peace we have only to recall those four and a quarter years. Shall we, who are here in this ancient parish church, ever forget them – their darkness, and their sadness, their bereavement and their desolation. It is only when we remember what these years have meant to all classes, the mansion and the cottage alike, that the word peace becomes not merely a passing emotion. And first, then, we turn to God and thank him, as we did in our Eucharist this morning as we are doing now. In God’s name and in His help, then, we shall try to celebrate this gift of peace as something which comes from God.

I could not but help feeling yesterday morning as I heard the syrens and whistles go at eleven o’clock, and I am sure you must have felt the same: suppose it had been the other thing, not victory but defeat. For we have been in great danger of disaster not once or twice. Perhaps how near defeat has been to us few here realise. Dangers across the seas, difficulties at home, we never acquiesced in the thought of defeat, but we knew, those of us who were wise, it was possible. Well, as we think of that, ought it not all the more make us thank God for this great deliverance. Thank God that he has heard our prayers at each Eucharist and at out Intersession Services. It has been said that “it is often harder to acknowledge God in success than in defeat.” Popular language shows how men are more ready to confess his presence in disaster than in success. For one man who is ready to ascribe victory to God, a hundred will declare that pain and sorrow and defeat are the work of his vengeance. And therefore, it is all the more necessary that we should at once thank Almighty God who has brought us safely through these years and now gives us the blessing of peace.

There is no one here who does not feel more than ever with those whose rejoicing at the great victory and at Peace is alas touched with feelings of sorrow and sadness, as they think of those loved ones lying in nameless graves or buried beneath the little white cross. “If only he could have lived to see this day”; well perhaps, truly he sees this day “elsewhere.” We do not forget the gallant dead, who poured out their life’s blood on the field or in the hospitals or on the seas. It was not we who won this war: it was the soldiers and sailors: all gratitude to them, the Dead and the Living who have won our Peace.

I end as I began. Our first thought is one of gratitude to God. Ere this service closes we shall solemnly sing the Te Deum. But, it is not the voice of mere human exaltation which benefits the occasion of this service. It is rather as the Te Deum itself will suggest the acknowledgement of the divine power, in comparison with which all men of all nations are but things of the day. “He increaseth the nations and destroyeth them. He enlargeth nations and chasteneth them again” So we, to-night are here to hope the hope that is born of reliance upon him, the God of our fathers. Who has blessed us in the past and who will not fail nor forget us if we are true to him. “Hope in God for I shall yet thank him. Who is the help of my countenance and my God”.

On the following Sunday (12th), a great many communions were made, and there was an especially large congregation at the high celebration. In the afternoon, a special service of praise and thanksgiving was held for the cadets of the 4th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment and their friends, the church being nearly full. At festal evensong the church was crowded, over 1,500 being present, and many could not get admission. The flags of the allies were carried in the procession by officers and men in khaki, and the service a never to be forgotten one ended with the Te Deum.

We have, indeed, very much to thank God for.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P96/28A/35)

Thousands of police reservists and Special Constables sign up

The Chief Constable and the Clerk of the Peace informed the Standing Joint Committee of the County Council and Quarter Sessions of the effects of the war on the police force and the Clerk’s department.

10 October 1914
CHIEF CONSTABLE’S REPORT

On the outbreak of the war the two boarded-out horses from the 11th Hussars were, at the request of the Military Authorities, returned to Aldershot….

The allowances to the wives of Police Constables recalled to Army service are, I now understand, to be altered from the 1st October, 1914, by an increased allowance from Army funds…

As regards the single Constables, I would ask that some consideration may be made them… I would, therefore recommend that the following three unmarried Constables (Army Reservists) who were recalled to the Army for service on 5th and 6th August, 1914, and who have been regularly contributing for their mothers’ support should be granted the allowance of 7/- per week:-
PC 36, George A. Eales
PC 163, Philip Hubbard
PC 214, Harry Easton
and that the money be paid monthly to the mother in each case.

Since the date of your last meeting in August, I have called up one more Police Reservist to take the place of a Police Constable called upon to resign. The total of First Police Reservists now serving is therefore 44.

Formation of a Police Special Reserve.
I beg to report that on the outbreak of war the duties of the Police were increased out of all proportion to the strength of the Force. It was necessary to recall all those away on annual leave and to suspend the weekly rest day. Forty-four 1st Police Reservists have since then been called up for duty. The demands on the time of the Officers and Constables have been very great, consequent on the necessity for continuous watching of the main bridges over the Thames, the railway lines, the requisition of Police by the Military Authorities for mobilization, purchase of horses, vehicles, and billeting, and the posting and distribution of many Orders. The registration and watching of alien enemies under the Aliens Act, 1914, further added important duties for the Police to carry out.
In order that the Police might get some assistance at such a time I issued a Special Constables appeal, a copy of which is attached.
Consequent on this appeal I received the very greatest help and assistance throughout the County, and especially as regards the guarding and watching of the bridges (railway and main road), the railways, waterworks, lighting works and other vulnerable points; and as a result of this splendid and patriotic response to my appeal, I have now a Berks Police Special Reserve Force of nearly four thousand (4,000) under the following organization:-
Chief Organizing Officer Colonel F. C. Ricardo, CVO
Assistant Chief Organising Officer Colonel W. Thornton
Divisional Officer, Abingdon and Wallingford Police Division
Colonel A. M. Carthew-Yorstoun, CB
Divisional Officer, Faringdon Division Francis M. Butler, esq.
Divisional Officer, Maidenhead Division Heatley Noble, esq.
Divisional Officer, Newbury Division (vacant)
Divisional Officer, Hungerford Sub-division Colonel Willes
Divisional Officer, Reading Division (vacant)
Divisional Officer, Wantage Division E. Stevens, esq.
Divisional Officer, Windsor Division Colonel F. Mackenzie, CB
Divisional Officer, Wokingham Division Admiral Eustace, RN

To all these Officers I am very much indebted for their valuable help and voluntary service in this organization. The efficiency of our organization is entirely due to their energetic work.

This Force has for several weeks been drilling and doing patrol work in conjunction with the Police in many parts of the county. Classes of instruction in first aid to the injured are being formed, and miniature rifle ranges are being used by the kind permission of the owners, and new ones about to be given for such use.

We have been careful to exclude from the Reserve all those who are eligible for and whose circumstances permit of them joining the Army.

I have further received great help from the Berkshire Automobile Club, and owners of motor cars generally throughout the county, in placing motor cars at the disposal of the Police when required.

I would ask your authority to swear in a total number of Special Constables not exceeding 2,000, and to provide the necessary batons, whistles and chains, armlets and other necessary articles of equipment…. Under these conditions of appointment of Special Constables, the service is a voluntary and unpaid one.

A report by the Clerk of the Peace with regard to his staff was presented as follows:-

Gentlemen
I have to report that in consequence of the War, the following members of my staff are absent on service:-
H. U. H. Thorne, Deputy Clerk of the Peace Captain, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
E. S. Holcroft, Assistant Solicitor Captain, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
R. G. Attride, Assistant Solictor (Mental Deficiency Act)
Lieutenant, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
H. P. Tate, Senior Clerk, Taxation Department Private, Honorable Artillery Company
F. J. Ford, Clerk, Taxation Department Gunner, Berks Royal Horse Artillery
J. A. Earley, Clerk Private, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment
J. A. Callow, Clerk Private, 4th Battalion Royal Berks Regiment

Mr Tate is actually abroad on active service and the remainder have all volunteered for foreign service.

In consequence of the great depletion of my staff, I have, after consultation with the Staff Purposes Committee, arranged with Mr C. G. Chambers, of the firm of Blandy & Chambers, Solicitors, Reading, to assist me in the legal work during the absence of the Deputy Clerk and the Assistant Solicitors…
It has also been necessary for me to make temporary arrangements for the clerical work and I have engaged the following:-

Miss M. A. Burgess, Shorthand-Typist, at 12/6 per week from 7th September, 1914
Miss Norah Scrivener, Shorthand-Typist, at 10/- per week from 14th September, 1914
Stanley A. Bidmead, Office Boy, at 5/- per week from 1st September, 1914.

Standing Joint Committee minutes, 10 October 1914 (C/CL/C2/1/5)