A long road still to travel

Members of Maidenhead Congregational Church had to face the fact that life was different in wartime. Particular difficulties were faced by Belgian refugees, who spoke little or no English in a less globalised world than today.

There has not been the usual spirit of happy freedom for any of us in this year’s holiday month. Some have not felt able to leave home at all, and others have been compelled to be content with a shortened time of leisure. But we shall do well to use every means to maintain our ordinary level of health and spirits. If “business as usual” is not an attainable ideal, we must try to live up to “health and nerve as usual.” It may be that we have yet a long road to travel before we see the end of the present horrors. It may be that anxieties and fears are yet to come to us in intensified forms. We must keep up heart. There is of course enough in the possibilities of everyone of us to make us depressed, if we calculate all the possibilities of evil, and sum them up into one terrifying spectre. There is nothing the heart of man needs more than a message of courage and confidence. And we can only get it out of faith, it grows as a blossom upon the plant of faith. Only as we learn to trust in God’s love, and become sure of the gracious purpose, can we maintain our hearts in balance and in peace.

Some of our friends have been inquiring why the men of our Belgian household have not found some remunerative employment during these many months. As a matter of fact, they have not been altogether idle. Mr. Dykes kindly found them work on his farm for awhile, but the experiment was not wholly a success. The language difficulty was a serious handicap, they were quite unskilled in farming occupations, and there were other hindrances. One of them was for a time engaged in a local builder’s yard. At the time of writing one is at work for a boat builder in Oxford, and if the arrangement seems likely to continue, perhaps his wife and two little girls may join him there.

The Roll has received two additions during the past month. Robert Harris has joined the 9th Royal Berks, and Charles Hurrell has entered the Navy. Percy Pigg has been home for a week’s leave, looking remarkably well and strong after a year’s hard work. Harold Islip has been transferred to the Royal Engineers, and is in France, engaged in the chemical side of munition-making. Percy Lewis is in Flanders, not far from the fighting line. George Belcher is in France, engaged mostly in telegraphic duties. Horace Gibbons is with the Australian Light Horse in Egypt. Harold Fisher is with the 1st Royal Berks, Cyril Laker is with the 13th Infantry Brigade, and Robert Anderson with the 4th Berks, all “somewhere in France,” and Wilfred Collins is serving with the Canadian Dragoons, also in France. We are grieved to hear that G. H. Gemmel and Arthur Gemmel, who were scholars in our Sunday School, and who for some years have lived in Canada, have been both seriously wounded. We trust to receive good news of their progress towards recovery. And may our gracious Father preserve and bless all our lads, and bring them home again sound in body and mind.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, September 1915 (D/N33/12/1/5)

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