Florence Mary Faithfull (c.1892-1918)

As we start the final week of Women’s History Month, this is an opportunity to feature someone mentioned to me recently by Dr Rhianedd Smith (University Museums and Special Collections Services) .

Florence Faithfull is the only woman whose name appears on the War Memorial on the London Road Campus and University College Reading’s Book of Remembrance.

War memorial
London Road, the Roll of Honour beneath the Clock Tower
Book of Remembrance
Book of Remembrance of those Members of The University College Reading who fell in The War 1914-1918

She was born in the early 1890s and lived at number 26 Upper Redlands Road, Reading with her parents and siblings.

A former student of University College Reading, Faithfull is recorded in the Annual Report for 1910-11 as receiving the Certificate in Commerce.

Certificate result

During the First World War, she enrolled as a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment and was stationed in Mesopotamia (Iraq) at the British General Hospital. She died at Basra in January 1918 at the age of 26, the result of a tragic boating accident.

The circumstances of her death were that the Matron and twelve of the hospital nurses had been invited to the Officers’ Hospital to meet those convalescing and to have tea. They were transported by motor launch, but on the way back there was a collision with a steam tug and four of the nurses lost their lives. A Court of Inquiry recorded a verdict of accidental death resulting from an error of judgement by the helmsman of the launch.

Florence Faithfull’s medal card containing the words ‘Died on service’ is held in the National Archives.

Medal card

Her death is remembered in 1920 in the ‘Old Students’ News’, though there is a mis-spelling of her name.

Old Students

As noted above, her name has been entered in the Book of Remembrance (again with the mis-spelling). Regrettably there is no photograph.



To Dr Rhianedd Smith for telling me about Florence Faithfull and suggesting her as a topic.

To Paul Johnson, Image Library Manager, National Archives, for permission to reproduce the image of the medal card.


Biographical information about Florence Faithfull was obtained from the University of Reading’s Enterprise Catalogue.

Book of Remembrance of those Members of The University College Reading who fell in The War 1914-1918. University of Reading Special Collections, MS 5339.

Medal card of Faithfull, Florence, M. Corps: Voluntary Aid Detachment. National Archives, Catalogue reference: WO 372/23/13539

University College, Reading. Old Students’ News, No. 6, Jan., 1920.

University College, Reading. Report to the Court of Governors for the Year ended September 30th, 1911.

On Armistice Day

The War Memorial, November 2022
George and Walter Lucking

A year ago I published a post about George Lucking and the University of Reading War Memorial.

Mr Lucking had been a porter on the College’s Valpy Street premises from 1904, just before the move to London Road, and became Head Porter on the new campus in 1907. He remained in post until 1924.

His son Walter is recorded on the roll of honour beneath the clock tower and in the Book of Remembrance of members of the College who fell in the War of 1914-18.

University of Reading, Special Collections

I recently discovered another image of George Lucking in the form of the sketch below. It is undated, but he looks of a similar age to his portrait with the clock tower bell in my earlier post so it is likely that it was completed in the early to mid-1920s.

University of Reading, Special Collections:  Undated sketch of George Lucking, Head Porter at London Rd.
W. M. Childs

As Principal of University College Reading it was W. M. Childs who suggested a memorial to the members of the College who had fallen in the 1914-18 War.

It would, he proposed, consist of a tower with a clock and a great bell. And the tower, should ‘make its appeal simply through its visible strength, its austerity, and its proportions.’ (1933, p.255).

He records that,

‘More than 500 of our members, past and present, served in our fleets or armies and upon our war memorial are the names of 144 who lost their lives.’ (W. M. Childs, 1933, p. 218)

In his memoir, Childs focuses on the effect of the war on the college and on those who died, but it is left to his son, Hubert, to record the emotional effect the horrors of war had on him:

‘A fortnight’s lecturing to troops in forward areas in France, which he undertook under the Y.M.C.A. auspices early in 1918, served to increase his abhorrence of the terrible destruction, waste and squalor that the conflict was causing, and added to his eagerness for a return to normal life. ‘ (H. Childs, 1976, p. 120).

The Peace Garden at London Rd. 11/11/2022:  Memorial Sculpture designed and constructed by Secondary PGCE students using recyclable materials.

Childs, H. (1976). W. M. Childs: an account of his life and work. Published by the author.

Childs, W. M. (1933). Making a university: an account of the university movement at Reading. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd.

University College, Reading. Calendars from 1904-5 to 1923-4.

University of Reading Special Collections. University History MS 5305 Photographs – Portraits Box 1.

University of Reading Special Collections. MS 5339 Book of Photographs of Members of University College, Reading who fell in the 1914-18 War.

George Lucking and the University of Reading War Memorial

The recent Armistice Day service in the Peace Garden at London Road reminded me of an image I had seen of George Lucking next to the bell of the clock tower. The photograph was probably taken in 1923, the year before the memorial’s dedication, when Mr Lucking was Head Porter at University College Reading.

The Clock Tower Bell (University of Reading Special Collections)

What makes the image particularly moving is that Mr Lucking had lost his only son, Walter Thomas Lucking, during World War I. Walter’s name can be seen below on the roll of honour.

The Roll of Honour on the War Memorial showing Walter Thomas Lucking.

George Lucking had worked for many years as a porter at London Road. The photograph below shows him on an early College postcard.

George Lucking (right) and colleague in the North Cloister  (University of Reading Special Collections).

University of Reading Special Collections, Photographic Archives.