How the Declaration of Peace (when it comes) may fittingly be celebrated

Burghfield got cracking with memorialising the war.

May

A framed list of Burghfield men who have given their lives in the War has been drawn up by the Rector, and hung in the Church near the Lectern.

War… and Peace

A General Meeting, open to all parishioners, will be held in the New Schools, Burghfield Village, on Monday, 26th May, at 7 o’clock.

Objects:

1. To discuss the question of a Memorial of the part played by Burghfield in the War.
2. To consider how the Declaration of Peace (when it comes) may fittingly be celebrated in the parish.
3. And, if thought right, to appoint a Committee (a) to prepare recommendations for submission to a second General Meeting; and (b) to raise funds.


June

The War… and Peace General Meeting

This was held according to notice, on Monday, May 26th, in the C of E School, and was well attended. On the proposition of Mr Willink, Mr Job Lousley, as Chairman of the Parish Council and Parish Meeting, was voted into the chair. In a few well-chosen words, he explained the objects of the meeting, as stated in last month’s magazine, and asked for remarks. After several suggestions had been made, and noted for consideration, it was agreed to appoint a Committee of 20, with power to add three or four to their number, to report to a further general meeting for approval, and the following were elected accordingly, viz: Messrs F Aldridge, C Chamberlain, E Chance, Major G Chance, R Davidson, Lieut. F E Foster, F C Higgs, Col. R Kirkwood, H C Layley, J Lousley, M H Parfitt, A J Pearse, G Pembroke, Lieut. A Searies, F T Wenman, E Wigmore, H G Willink, and E Wise; also Mrs Butler and Miss Goodall. Mr H D Higgs kindly undertook to act as Hon. Secretary. The Committee will hold their first meeting in June, and it is hoped that any persons having suggestions to make will communicate at once with them.

Burghfield parish magazine, May-June 1919 (D/EX725/4)

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Our “Burghfield Belgians” are trying to return home

A refugee family who had found asylum in Berkshire were now hoping to return home.

Our “Burghfield Belgians”

It will be remembered that our honoured guests, the Laurent family of Louvain, after a year’s sojourn in the Old Schools, migrated on October 19th, 1915, to Reading, partly for Mme Laurent’s health and partly to get work. The step was successful in both respects. But still better prospects opening up in London they moved there after about 15 months, and have since supported themselves entirely. The enemy having been driven out of Belgium, they are now trying to return to their native country, for though their home at Louvain is destroyed, they have friends in Antwerp and mean to go there, at any rate for a time.

At the last meeting of our Committee it was resolved that any funds left after the payment of small bills should be retained by the Treasurer and handed to the family on repatriation.

The balance in question has grown by interest accretions, from £16 4s 4d to £18 9s 0d, which latter sum was paid by Mr Willink, the Hon. Treasurer, on 13th February, and he holds the receipt. The whole family begged him to thank the Committee and all Burghfield friends very warmly for their help in time of need.

They will probably set up a boot shop again – they had the biggest one in Louvain. The two sons have both served right up to the end of the war – Arthur in fact wishes to remain a soldier. We wish them all happiness and good fortune.

Burghfield parish magazine, March 1919 (D/EX725/4)

War echoes

The war was over but not forgotten.

WAR ECHOES

Honours and Promotions

Temporary Captain G H B Chance (MGC) to be Temporary Major (November). Harry D West (RGA) is Farrier Sergeant Major (date unknown).

Casualty

Private William West (MGC), died in France (of broncho-pneumonia).

Repatriation

Private F J Painter (5th Royal Berks)

Christmas Parcels

In view of the difficulties both of obtaining things to send, and of ascertaining correct addresses, and also in consideration of the fact that hostilities are suspended, Mr Willink has made no arrangements for sending parcels this season to sailors and soldiers. They may be sure, however, that they are not forgotten by all at home.

The Influenza

This epidemic, which has amounted to a veritable plague, seems to be abating in this country. We are told that throughout the world it has directly, or by after-effects, caused over 6 million deaths, more than the number reported from action of this war of 4 ½ years.

WAR SAVINGS

Peace and Thanksgiving Campaign

The war may be practically over, but money is still urgently required for a time. The National War Savings Committee have been called on by the Government to make one more big effort during the period ending with next autumn. Berkshire’s share is assessed at £900,000, of which our Bradfield Local Committee are asked to raise £50,000. with this object, Lantern Lectures, with excellent slides, will be given in each Association’s area from January to April. The present arrangements for Burghfield are:

January 8th War on Land
February 5th War in Italy
March 5th War at Sea
April 2nd War in the Holy Land

The first and third will be at the Handicraft Room, Mrs Bland’s School; the second and fourth in the Jubilee Room or the C of E School, 7 o’clock in all cases.

The Committee hope that readers of the magazine will make these facts known, and do their best to see that the campaign is a success.

A Burghfield War Memorial

It is, perhaps, too soon to begin public consultation of this matter. But it is not too soon to begin thinking about it. Probably we are all agreed that there should be some visible memorial of this Great War to keep alive the recollection of the working part playing in it by Burghfield men.

Burghfield parish magazine, January 1919 (D/EX725/4)

“The real thing: he was a rock, strong, capable, self-reliant, and possessed the complete confidence of every man and officer in the battalion”

A tribute was paid to a Burghfield hero.

THE WAR

IN MEMORIAM

George Ouvry William Willink, MC
2/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment

George was only 2 ½ years old when the family came here, in July 1890, so his life’s home has been in the parish, and he loved it. And that he has not been spared to live out his days at Hillfields is a sore loss to all classes.

Perhaps no record can be more suitable for printing in the Magazine than the following notice by his Eton Tutor, Mr Vaughan, his parents’ old friend, which appeared in the Eton College Chronicle:

“George Willink came from Mr Locke’s school, St Neot’s, Eversley, in 1901 to Mr Vaughan’s House. Diffident at first, and somewhat slow in thought, he yet showed already those qualities of steadfastness, unselfishness and good temper, which in time won for him the respect and affection of all. He made himself, by pluck and concentration, one of the best in the House at football and fives. In the Lent Half of 1907 he played for Eton v. Harrow in the first “Rugger” match between the two schools, when Eton won by 12 points to 0, and in the summer of that year rowed 2 in the Eight at Henley, and thus at the end of his blameless career came into his own.

“He was always so self-effacing”, writes the boy who was his most intimate friend in the House, “that it was only those who knew him really well, as I did, that realised what a splendid fellow he was”.

It might truly have been said of him at Eton, as it was at Oxford, that “Things, whatever they were, would go all right, if he was mixed up with them.” Throughout his life he thus exercised far more influence than he himself realised. “If my own sons”, his Oxford tutor wrote, “should grow up with that sort of character, I should feel more thankful for this than for anything else in the world.”

In 1907 he went up to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he not only rowed in the Varsity Trial Eights, and managed his College Boat Club, of which he was captain, but worked hard at History, and reaped his reward by obtaining a Second Class in the History School in 1911. In 1913 he was called to the Bar. A keen member of the Eton, and of the Oxford, OTC, in both of which he was a sergeant, he had, on coming to London, joined the Inns of Court OTC (in which his father had once been a captain), and was a lieutenant when the war broke out.

He commanded for some time as captain, No. 1 Company of the Battalion at Berkhamsted, and the universal testimony of officers and men to his good work is remarkable. The words of one of the former (Sir F G Kenyon) may be quoted: “There never was an officer more hard-working, more conscientious, more self-sacrificing, and without claiming any credit for himself”.

In 1916, as soon as he could obtain permission to leave Berkhamsted, he joined the Berks Territorials, in his his brother Captain F A Willink had already seen foreign service, and in July proceeded to France.

In 1917 he was mentioned in dispatches, and later gained the MC for a daring rescue by digging out with a few men, under heavy fire, some buried gunners. Rejoining his regiment, after a “course” behind the lines, on March 23rd, he took over command of his Battalion, the CO having been killed a few days before.

On the 28th he fell while he was gallantly leading, in advance of his men, a counter-attack. “On the first day that I took over the brigade, in September 1916,” writes his Brigadier, “I put him down in my mind at once as the real thing. He was a rock, strong, capable, self-reliant, and possessed the complete confidence of every man and officer in the battalion.”

In the words of a barrister, twenty years his senior in age, who served as his CSM at Berkhamsted: “He was one of the ‘gentlemen unafraid’ and as such has found his welcome in Valhalla’”.

More might be said, especially as to the affection which he inspired, as well as confidence. But this is not the place for it, and after all, his Burghfield neighbours know.

Honours and Promotions

Temp. Lt Geoffrey H B Chance to be Temp. Captain from 27th April 1917.

Casualties

Private E J V Cox (Worcester Regiment), missing; Private F G Cummins (Royal Berks Regiment), severely wounded; Private D Hutchins (Royal Berks Regiment), wounded.

Lance Corporal Howard Pembroke (see Magazine for April) has been definitely offered the choice of a commission in either the Infantry or the Royal Air Service. But he prefers to remain in the ASC, where however he will have to wait for a similar chance until he is older.

Burghfield parish magazine, July 1918 (D/EX725/4)

He has given his health, as his brother has given his life

Burghfield men continued to pay a high price.

THE WAR

Honours and Promotions

Cadet Alfred Searies has been posted as 2nd Lieutenant to the Suffolk Regiment. Lance Corporal Percy Sheppard (Army Ordnance Corps) and Rifleman E Wigmore (Rifle Brigade) have been promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

Casualties

Ernest Eaton (Royal Berks Regiment) wounded; 2md Lieut. F Wheeler (King’s Liverpool Regiment), Sergeant Wigmore (see above) and Private W H Brown (Royal Berks Regiment), Prisoners of War.

Discharges

Captain Francis A Willink (4th Royal Berks Regiment), Dysentery and Colitis; Isaac Osman (Labour Corps, ex Rifle Brigade), Rheumatism.

The promised statement about the late Captain George Willink is held over.

Congratulations to 2nd Lieut. Alfred Searies. He is the first of Mr Sheppard’s “old boys” of the Burghfield C of E School to obtain a commission. Let us hope he will not be the last, as he certainly will not be the least, either in stature or merit.

Condolences with Captain Francis Willink, who sorely against his will is, after fifteen Medical Boards, gazetted out of the Army “on account of ill-health contracted on active service”. He worked up from Private to a Commission in the Eton College OTC. On going to Oxford in 1910, he joined the 4th Royal Berks, and was a Lieutenant when war broke out, soon afterwards being made Captain and given command of “E” (the Newbury) Company. In March 1915 he went to France with the Battalion, which had then become the 1/4th, upon the formation of the 2nd unit. They went immediately into trenches at “Lug Street”, afterwards holding sections of the line by Bethune, and later at Hebuterne. The trying conditions of active service however told upon him and brought on dysentery and colitis, and after holding out as long as he possibly could, perhaps too long, he was invalided home in September 1915. Since then he has done a lot of useful work with the 3rd Line at Weston-Super-Mare, and Windmill Hill on Salisbury Plain, and for some time was Draft Officer. But his health did not really improve, and about a year ago he was transferred to Reserve, since which time he has been further twice medically examined and is now declared to be permanently unfit for medical service. He has given his health, as his brother has given his life. Fortunately there is still useful work open to him to do of national importance.

Burghfield parish magazine, June 1918 (D/EX725/4)

The honourable list of those who have laid down their lives for their country and the right

A Burghfield woman volunteered to help behind the lines in wartorn Serbia.

THE WAR

Honours and Promotions

Mr J Rapley has been appointed “Warrant Mechanician” (HMS Superb)

Casualties

Captain G O W Willink, MC, 2/4th Berks, killed in action, 28th March

Private J W Cox, 1st Royal Berks, died under operation for wounds (April)

William Duffin, Royal Berks, died in hospital (pneumonia)

Albert Hathaway, Royal Berks, killed in action

Corporal Arthur J Pearse, 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, wounded (April)

The parish will have learnt with sorrow that Captain George Willink was on 5th April reported “missing, believed killed, 23-3-18”. No further official notification has been published at the time of writing; but a telegram has been received from records, and private inquiries confirm it, removing all hope. His name must therefore be added to the honourable list of those who have laid down their lives for their country and the right. A fuller statement will be made in the June Magazine. Meanwhile his father and the family are well assured that they have the sympathy of all their neighbours in this fresh trouble.

Mrs Howard, so well known in the parish for her good work at Holiday House and with the Boy Scouts, has gone out as a motor driver with the Scottish Women’s Unit in Serbia. We wish her a safe return.

Burghfield parish magazine, May 1918 (D/EX725/4)

A happy battalion

A senior officer gave up some of his period home on leave to deliver a public lecture on how his battalion was getting on.

The 2/4th R. Berks

The distinguished CO of this Battalion, Lt-Col. J H Dimmer, VC, MC, while home on leave, besides giving up much of his time to making acquaintance with families and friends of officers and men under his command, kindly gave a lecture on 16th January in Reading, upon the doings of the battalion, and the general conditions of life on foreign service.

He impressed his audience with a feeling of confidence that their “lads” were well looked after at the front, and that the battalion was not only a happy battalion, all ranks having full trust in each other, but that it had deservedly won a good reputation among those who ought to know, as was proved by private and official congratulations which he had received upon its behaviour in recent strenuous times.

The Burghfield men in the battalion at present are Captain G Willink, MC, Sergeant Ernest Wise, and Privates W Bushnell, L Clarke, B Hutchins and D Hutchins.


Burghfield parish magazine, February 1918 (D/EX725/4)

A pleasant evening

The people of Burghfield continued to support the war effort at home.

January 1918
War Savings

Miss Ada Gripper sends us notice that she has sold 57 War Savings Certificates to members of the Girls’ Friendly Society.

The Rector [Mr George] and Mrs George and Mr and Mrs Sheppard are organising a “Whist Drive” to take place in the Jubilee Room on Thursday, Jan. 10th, at 7 o’clock, the proceeds to be given to the Rectory Red X Working Party, for which Mrs Butler, of Amner’s Farm, Burghfield, kindly acts as secretary. She also “cuts out” and “presses” all the work, and is responsible for taking it to the Depot in Reading. The number of articles sent in during the past year is 125 treasure bags, 47 pairs of socks, 13 pyjamas, 13 pairs of mittens, 182 pillow cases, 15 helpless case shirts, 52 slings, 8 bandages, 2 mufflers, 5 helmets. It is interesting to know that 20 of the Working Party have been awarded the “W.W.” badge.

Subscriptions to the Fund have already been received from Mrs Willink, £1; Mrs George, 5/-; Mrs Butler, 2/6; Miss Goodall, 2/6; Mrs Davidson, 2/6; and Miss Hannam, 2/6.

February 1918
Rectory Red Cross Working Party

A Whist Drive held at the Jubilee Room on January 10th, in aid of this Working Party, was a great success, the sum of £5 15s 0d being obtained. The prizes were given by the Rector and Mrs George…
A pleasant evening ended by a vote of thanks to the Rector and Mrs George, and the National Anthem.

Burghfield parish magazine, January and February 1918 (D/EX725/4)

Training is given free to disabled soldiers who are unable to take up their old employment

Big problems were faced by former soldiers who had been sent home because they were no longer medically fit to serve, often because they were now permanently disabled. The Burghfield parish magazine offered advice:

Discharged Soldiers and War Pensions

A man’s discharge dates, not from the day he leaves the colours, but from three weeks afterwards, ie. from three weeks after his return home. For those three weeks he should receive his pay, also a gratuity of £1 and an allowance of 17/6 in place of plain clothes, and also any arrears that are due to him. If a wife or dependant is receiving an allowance it should be continued, and the ring paper not withdrawn, for two weeks after the expiration of the three weeks. if the pension which is due after discharge is not paid, application should be made to the War Pensions Sub-committee, either through Mr and Mrs Willink, who are serving on it, or to the Secretary of that Sub-committee at the Shire Hall, Reading, any day except Monday or Wednesday.

If there should be a delay in the issue of the pension, this Sub-committee has power to give a returnable grant till the money is forthcoming. Training is given free to disabled soldiers who are unable to take up their old employment. The following are some of the trades being taught: Engineering, including Aeroplane work, Building and House Decorating, Printing, Furniture, Leather Goods and Boot and Shoe Making, Cane and Willow Industry, etc. A form is issued for each disabled soldier to sign and fill up, so that his case may be investigated should there be any distress or need.

MGW

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1917 (D/EX725/4)

He “saved an officer’s life by carrying him on his back out of danger, under fire”

There was news of many Burghfield men, some of whom had performed acts of heroism at the front.

Honours and Promotions

We congratulate 2nd Lt Wheeler and his parents Mr and Mrs E C Wheeler on his promotion, he having been given a commission in the King’s Liverpool Regiment. His brother, T Wheeler, is now training as a Pilot in No 5 Cadet Wing, RFC. Cadet (ex Corporal) Alfred Searies is training in Scotland, having been recommended for a commission. He has been twice wounded, and has saved an officer’s life by carrying him on his back out of danger, under fire. The following are now Sergeants: E Cooke (5th R W Surrey), R J Turfrey (ASC< MT), E Wise (2/4th Royal Berks).

Casualties

E N Pike (killed in action), P C Layley (scalded), J Cummings, A Newman, and A Ware (wounded). W Butler, whose parents long lived in the parish, but have lately gone to Sulhamstead, is also wounded.

Discharges

Jos. West, ex 2nd Rifle Brigade (wounds); Herbert C Layley, ex 5th Royal Berks (wounds); Fred W Johnson, ex 2nd Royal Berks (heart); Isaac Slade, ex 4th Royal Berks and RE (heart); J D Whitburn, ex Royal Berks (rheumatism), just moved to Five Oaken. Arthur L Collins, in last magazine, should have been described as ex 5th Royal Berks.

Other War Items

Lieutenant Francis E Foster, RNVR, of Highwoods, who since the outbreak of war has been looking for trouble in the North Sea, has been rewarded by transfer to a quieter job further south, for the present. Lieutenant Geoffrey H B Chance, MG Corps (of the Shrubberies) is in hospital in Egypt, suffering from malaria.

Roll of Honour
Mr Willink thanks all who have given him information. He is always glad to receive more. It is difficult if not impossible, especially since the Military Service Act, to keep the Roll up to date.

Obituary Notices

The following death is recorded with regret.

Mr E N Pike, of Burghfield Hatch, son of Mrs Pike of Brook House, lost his life as above stated, for his country on 11th November, less than a week after returning to the front from a month’s leave which had been granted him to enable him to get in his fruit crop. An officer in his Battery writes: “In the short time that Gunner Pike has been in the Battery we have learned to appreciate him not only for his work but for the man he was”. He leaves a young widow and a little boy. He had good hopes of obtaining a commission in time.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1917 (D/EX725/4)

Hope for a people braver and stronger and more God-fearing for the long years of sacrifice and sorrow

A special Christmas letter from Mrs Willink offered kindly advice to the members of Burghfield Mothers’ Union.

Hillfields, Xmas 1917

Dear [blank]

In these days when the shadow of war and suffering and death seems constantly with us, the good wishes for a joyful Christmas seem almost out of place. But I feel I must send a little message of affection and friendship to my dear members of the Mothers’ Union.
I say to you all be of good courage, and may God give you that inward happiness and serenity which surely comes to those who live near him. May He fill our hearts with light and peace, so that if sorrow or loss or accident come to us we may bear them unshaken and accept them as if they were straws on the tide of life.

Bless our absent ones, keep them in life, keep them in growing honour; and, for us, grant that we may be worthy of their love. We civilians at home for whom there are no supreme moments of daring and sacrifice can yet constantly keep our courage at a high level. It has been said that victory is ultimately won, not by the troops in action, but by the spirit of the nation behind them.

We who stay at home have the duty of preserving, for those who are fighting, that heritage for which they are laying down their lives.
Dear wives and mothers, let it be your work to keep your homes sweet and clean, so that when the men and the lads come back, they may find that best happiness, a home of love and welcome ready for them. This can only be done by some self-sacrifice now; food is short, and it will grow shorter, and it is only by strict economy and thought and trouble that the food difficulty can be met, try and buy as many substitutes as you can for bread, meat and sugar, and take pains in cooking them, and you will be helping the War. You are such clever housewives that I am sure you will be able to do so.

I should also like to say especially to the Mothers’ Union members, that they should at this time do all in their power to help and influence others outside the Union, by little acts of kindness and sympathy, and by such example as can shew those others what our Union stands for, and try and persuade them to think seriously as to what it means, and perhaps in time to join it.

“In quietness and confidence shall be your strength,” and may the Christmas message of glad tidings give us that strength to work – and be patient, and kind, and helpful, and self-forgetful in the New Year that is coming, and then we may hope that the blessing of peace will return, and find a people braver and stronger and more God-fearing for the long years of sacrifice and sorrow.

Believe me always

Your true friend
Mary G Willink

Special Christmas letter inserted in and probably distributed with the January 1918 parish magazine, Burghfield (D/EX725/4)

From Buckingham Palace to the Front

A Burghfield man was honoured.

Honours and Promotions
On the 7th November Captain G O W Willink received his MC at Buckingham Palace, at the hands of the King. He has returned to the Front.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1917 (D/EX725/4)

The introduction of compulsory service has rather changed the situation

The parish of Burghfield was keeping track of local men serving in the war.

THE WAR

The Roll of Honour

A list kept by the Rector, of those Burghfield men who since the beginning of the war have laid down their lives for their country and the just cause of the Allies, hangs near the reading-desk in the Church.

The full Roll, including those who have offered and been accepted for immediate or deferred service, is kept up to date by Mr. Willink so far as possible, and hangs in the Church Porch. The introduction of compulsory service has rather changed the situation: but he will be glad to receive names of men not already on the Roll but actually serving, together with the exact title of their ship or unit, also notice of any honours or promotions, wounds or deaths.

The list of wounded is growing long. Happily most cases are light. But it should be known by everybody that any disabled man is entitled to free training, if necessary or possible in some trade, and to be helped in finding employment. Information can be obtained at any Post Office. In cases of delay or difficulty in this matter, or in regard to Pensions or Allowances, applications should be made to the Berkshire War Pensions Committee through Mr. or Mrs Willink, who are on the Reading Rural Sub Committee.

Honours

Colonel Sir Wyndham Murray, of Culverlands, formerly C.B whose distinguished services in past times are well known, has been made K.C.B. He has acted as King’s Messenger during the War, and has repeatedly visited the front. He and Lady Murray have also received certain Japanese decorations.

Captain G. O. W. Willink was mentioned in Despatches in May, and has just been awarded the Military Cross for distinguished conduct in August. He has commanded “A” Coy in the 2/4 R. Berks Regt. Since he went out in July 1916, and has seen service in many parts of the line in France and Flanders.

Burghfield parish magazine, October 1917 (D/EX725/4)

Last year’s addresses are not sufficient

The parish of Burghfield was anxious that no soldier’s Christmas gift should be sent to the wrong place.

IMPORTANT
Christmas Parcels for Sailors and Soldiers

Relatives of men on active service are requested, if they wish parcels to be sent out as last year, to send to Mr Willink in good time the “numbers”, ranks and exact names of ship or unit, also the correct address. There are constant changes; and last year’s addresses are not sufficient.

Burghfield parish magazine, October 1917 (D/EX725/4)

The lessons to be learnt from Mr Vickers’ life as a teacher, and his death as a soldier

Herbert Vickers, a teacher and Special Constable, had been killed earlier in the summer. The school he had taught at paid tribute to him:

October 12th 1917

Memorial to the late Mr Vickers

An impressive ceremony was held this afternoon, when managers, parents and scholars were present to witness the unveiling of the portrait of the late Mr Vickers…

Mr Willink unveiled the portrait after delivering an address to those present, on the lessons to be learnt from Mr Vickers’ life as a teacher, and his death as a soldier.

Wokingham Wescott Road School log book (C/EL87, p. 178)