“He was looking worn and depressed at his last leave”

There was news of a number of Maidenhead men, many wounded or ill. One had suffered a nervous breakdown.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Reginald Hill was able to pay a surprise visit of four days to his home, in the midst of his long and weary hospital experiences. He was looking well, considering all that he has borne, but he has one or two more operations yet to undergo. He spoke of a hope that he might be home shortly after Easter.

Ernest Bristow is progressing favourably, but the latest report that reached us spoke of another operation. He seems to be in excellent spirits.

Ben Gibbons is in hospital at Southall, suffering from debility. He was looking worn and depressed at his last leave, from which he had only got back to duty about a fortnight when he broke down and was sent to England, or rather (as we ought to say) Blighty.

Sydney Eastman is in hospital at Chatham, sent home for bronchitis. We may hope to see him shortly. The Medical Board decided that he could not stand the climate at the place where he was stationed.

W. Cleal is in hospital. No particulars known.

David Dalgliesh has received an appointment as Instructor at the Flying School at Winchester.

Hugh Lewis has been at home for a fortnight’s leave in excellent health.

Charles Catliff, too, has been home for his first leave; most of his time he spent at Bucklebury with his mother, who has been seriously ill.

Cyril Laker has had the thrilling experience of being torpedoed in the Mediterranean.

Herbert Brand has received a Commission, and when we last saw him was hoping to be attached to the 4th Berks.

Since the above was in type, a letter has been received from P.A. Eastman. He says:

“The mails where I came from have been very erratic, and some have been lost, including unfortunately the Christmas parcels. Davy Jones is now richer than all the other members of the great family of that name put together, to their and some other people’s impoverishment! ……

The medical authorities have thought it best to send me back after the first year out in the East; doubtless they have a reason. But I am glad to say I am now fairly fit, and hope to improve rapidly under the less trying conditions of English life. Very kind greetings to all West Street friends.”

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

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“Much abuse of the manpower of the nation”

The Dodeka Club discussed government inefficiency in putting people’s skills to the best use.

The 283rd meeting of the Dodeka was held at Baynes’ on April 13th 1917.

Much interest was shown in the early part of the evening in Morris’s recent experiences with burglars, the full account of which was heard by many for the first time.

After refreshments the host called on Morris for the paper.

Morris, after explaining that he had been unable to prepare a paper suggested as material for discussion, the two topics had been prominently before the public during recent weeks, namely “Man Power” and “National Service”. The secretary, after some thought, concluded that the best title for Morris’s remarks would be (with apologies to Dickens), “The Art of Circumlocution, or How not to do it”.

Many instances were given of Navy business methods. Orders being sent for confirmation from Reading to Winchester, Winchester to Salisbury, Salisbury to the War Office, and being received back via the same route, thus wasting much valuable time. Instances were given of skilled mechanics being put to road making and men off the land being put to the work of mechanics, such as painting, etc. it was concluded that there was much abuse of the manpower of the nation, and that the War Office had no direct methods of dealing with any business.

Dodeka Book Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)

New terms too humiliating

Florence and Henry Vansittart Neale travelled south to visit their daughter.

20 January 1916

Henry & I started in heavy rain to Southampton by motor. Stopped soon – then quite sunny. New way to Basingstoke by Hurst and Wokingham. Reached Winchester 1.10. Lunch at the George, left at 3. Got to Phyllis’s hospital at 3.40. She just starting an operation, so did not come till past 6. H & I walked down to pier, then had tea in town. Unpacked. P & I talked. She dined here. Rather priceless company – she played Chopin! Patience – bed early.

Hear new terms too humiliating. Montenegro continuing war!

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

Germans using aspyxiating gas

Florence Vansittart Neale, visiting her daughter Phyllis in Southampton:

24 April 1915

Phyllis came about 10. Sent men out in motor to Winchester. We shopped & poked about. We bought sweets & cigarettes. Phyllis took men out in motor in afternoon…

French retreating a bit beyond reach [of] Germans asphyxiating gases. We also. Canadians valiantly recovering guns short bit.

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

“It is rather absurd the way we are expected to produce every darned thing for for other countries”

Ralph Glyn’s mission to Serbia had gone well, as we can see from this letter from a colleague in the War Office, who shares the latest information and his candid views on some of our allies. The port of Cattaro (now Kotor and in Montenegro) was one of the main bases of the Austrian Navy. MO4 was the topographical section of British Intelligence. Colonel George Fraser Phillips (1863-1921) was a former Governor of Scutari.

March 6 [1915]

War Office
Whitehall
SW

My dear Glyn

Your letters have been most interesting. The last one received was from Petrograd dated 18th February. I gave WGO a copy. I daresay I shall get another from you in a few days. The plan of Cattaro has been copied by MO4 and given to the Admiralty. The original is being taken back to Nisch by Phillips who takes this letter. Phillips you know was in Albania – commandant at Scutari – & was rather a big bug there. Lord K wished him to go out in some capacity to the Balkans so he has been fixed up as MA [Military Attache] – Serbia & Montenegro. He is going to make his HQ at Cettinje [Cetinje]. We have made it quite clear to Harrison that Phillips in no way supersedes him. Harrison will still remain as Attache with Serbian Forces in the field. We had to give in to K in the matter as we particularly wanted C B Thomson to go to Bucharest & Tom Cunninghame to Athens. The latter got to work very quick and the Greeks seem to be scratching their heads a bit as to what they are going to do. I wish they were not in such a funk of the Bulgars. None of the Balkans except perhaps Serbia quite like the idea of a Russian occupation of Constantinople.

You will be interested to hear that Deedes has gone off to be on the spot in case we meet with success in the Dardanelles. He left Toulon for Malta on the 27th February & was hoping to get a ship from there on to what we call “Lundy” Island. He says that if ever he sets foot in Constantinople he will make a “B” line for his old hotel in the hopes of finding all his kit. When you come back, I suppose about 30th March, you are to take over Deedes’ job in MO etc. You will find Ingram a most excellent assistant. He has quite got hold of the “ins & outs” of the German corps &c & has everything at his finger ends. Thank you for your postcard from Bucharest which fetched up all right. Serbia are now “asking” us for anti-aircraft guns. We couldn’t supply them with oats and horses as our own imported supply is only enough to meet our own requirements and in these days of submarines with long sea capacity one never knows when we may run short. Russia surely ought to be able to supply forage & horses to Serbia. It is rather absurd the way we are expected to produce every darned thing for for other countries – but it always was so in the old days of European wars.

I am very sorry to lose Deedes – but I am glad for his sake that he has got his nose turned towards the Turks once more. Fitzmaurice you will find in Sofia I suppose. You will have a rather “delicate” time I expect in the land of the Bulgars, but it will be a smack in the eye for the French if the King receives Paget after refusing to see General Pau. I hope the fact of delaying you a few days to wait for Phillips will not be very inconvenient to you. The other alternative was to send out another mission with fresh trinkets – & this would have cost a great deal. So they are going to wire to you today to stop you leaving the Balkans till you can dole out a few more trinkets or rather hand them to old man Peter for distribution. This general strewing of orders is absolutely against our British ideas & we want to nip it in the bud or it will become intolerable. I hear Russia has sent a box of 850 “orders” as a first instalment!

I lost my sister very sadly last week after a few days’ illness. She was nursing in the Red Cross Hosp. at Winchester… She caught cerebro-spinal fever & died after being unconscious 36 hours….

Yrs sincerely
B E Bulkley

Letter from B Bulkley to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C31/3)

Summer clothes in an English winter

Some troops were brought over from service in far flung parts of the Empire, and had relatively little time to prepare for the change in climate. One battalion who had been serving in the summer heat of India suddenly faced a chilly English winter. The parishioners of Newbury offered them some warm clothes (not to mention something to smoke).

The warm garments so generously contributed by the members of the congregation were distributed to the men of the 4th Batt. Kings Royal Rifles the day after they arrived at Winchester from India, and were much appreciated, especially in view of the cold and wet weather into which they came. Another appeal was made, this time in the Parish Church, and resulted in the following articles being given:

1 sweater, 1 cardigan jacket, 4 vests, 6 helmets, 6 khaki handkerchiefs, 22 pairs of socks, 32 body belts, 33 pairs of mittens, 34 mufflers, 16 packets of tobacco, and some strong leather bootlaces.

Major Majendie in a letter of thanks said “they were magnificent gifts and very much appreciated, as we all arrived in summer clothes. Every man in my company had something. Please let the workers know how grateful the men were.” The Battalion is now at the Front, and as Mrs. B.J. Majendie hopes to send out contributions to them every fortnight, any additional gifts will be welcome at the Rectory.

Newbury parish magazine, January 1915 (D/P89/28A/13)