Thursday, 24 June 2021

Wargrave Local History Society

MEMBERS looked back at the village during the First World War at their monthly meeting on

MEMBERS looked back at the village during the First World War at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, September 13.

The meeting heard how several members of the coalition government stayed at Wargrave Hall, home of Worcester MP Edward Goulding, the night before war was declared and that Cabinet meetings were held at the property during the conflict. By the end of 1914, the Royal Engineers were camped in the village while learning how to build pontoon bridges across the River Thames.

The memorial in Mill Green records the names of 55 fallen soldiers but hundreds of other villagers also served in the conflict.

James Allen Preston, a private in the Royal Berkshire Regiment, was mentioned in the London Gazette when, during the attack on Mormal Forest, he had to lead his regiment after his commander was hit.

Oliver Cyril Spencer Watson, an estate manager before the war, was awarded the distinguished service order for gallantry and leadership in 1917.

The following year he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for “most conspicuous bravery, self- sacrificing devotion to duty and exceptionally gallant leading”.

The majority of men from Wargrave were in the army but several joined the Royal Navy, including Jesse and William Waldron, from Crazies Hill.

Members heard how one name on the village memorial was considered a mystery, as William Wyatt is listed but not included on another list inside the neighbouring St Mary’s Church. He was eventually found to have been a member of the Royal Naval Air Service who died in his plane after colliding with another plane in midair at 300ft.

Further research found that he was baptised in Wargrave in April 1881 and his parents ran the St George and Dragon pub in the village.

Local women formed the Wargrave Hospital Dressing Emergency Society, which made surgical dressings.

By the end of the war about half a million dressings and comforts were dispatched from Wargrave to as far as Egypt, Serbia and America.

Villagers also collected various items as gifts for the men serving, including tobacco and chocolate. The village war memorial was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and unveiled on May 28, 1921.

The society’s next meeting will be on Tuesday, October 11, when Sue Hourigan, the conservationist at the Berkshire Record Office, will talk about the preservation of archive records.

On Tuesday, November 8, Barbara Ratings will give a talk called “Experiences as a vicar’s wife from Germany”.

Meetings are held at the Old Pavilion, off Recreation Ground, starting at 8pm.

For more information about the society, call Peter Delaney on 0118 940 3121 or visit

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