“I often wonder why I joined up”

Many young men who before the war had belonged to the Broad Street Brotherhood Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Society, a semi-religious social group connected with the Congregational Church in the centre of Reading, kept in contact with their old friends.


We give below a few extracts from the letters received during the last week or two, from members of the Brotherhood. The many Broad Street friends, who, by their generosity, made possible the sending of the Christmas parcels will find these notes interesting. The letters are so good, and so full of appreciation an thanks, that it has been difficult to make the selections. The “O.S.” means “On Seervice”.
W A Woolley

Thank you for the splendid letters of comfort. It does me good to know I have such faithful friends in the P.S.A. I shall be glad, when we have defeated our enemy, and settled down again, to take up the same old seat at Broad Street as before the war.
H. J. R. – “O.S.”

Thanks for letters and parcels from the Broad Street friends. It is very kind of you all to think of us soldier boys. Please convey to the Brothers my best wishes. Though some distance away, I always remember the meetings at the Brotherhood on Sunday afternoon, and I think of the good times spent at Broad Street. Kindest regards.
E. G. – “O. S.”

It’s nice to think one is not forgotten, although as a member I never took a prominent part. It was very good of the Presidents, and you, to write to me. But there! – what does the Brotherhood stand for, if not for mutual and spiritual help to its members, even though we are sometimes apart. This is my first Christmas away from home, and receiving that parcel and letters has done me more good than many a sermon.
A. C. E. – “O.S.”

I want to wish you all at the Brotherhood a happy Christmas; and I hope the New Year will be brighter than the past. I am thinking of the happy times spent with the choir. I trust you at home will spare a thought for those who are on active service, and those doing garrison duty in foreign lands.
H. J. M – “O.S.”

I shall be unable to answer my name at the “Roll Call”, as duty still calls. I hope you will have a jolly good time. I often think of the helpful times I have spent at the P.S.A., and am looking forward to the time to be back with you again. Best wishes for continued success.
E.G.B. – “O.S.”

Many thanks for letters and parcel received safely. Everything in the parcel was a soldier’s want. Am so glad you thought of me. It makes the Brotherhood more real than ever I thought it. I shall never forget the happy expressions in the letters.
W. P. – “O.S.”

I hardly need say how very pleased I was to get your welcome letters and parcel. I shall carry the letters about with me, to help keep me cheerful and bright. No! I cannot be with you on January 2nd, but shall be thinking of you all. I have been “out here” fifteen months, and have seen some heart-rending sights, and have been among some stupefying scenes and horrors. But thank God I am quite as well as when I left you all. With my kindest regards to you all.
H. E. – “O. S.”

Deeply regret being unable to be at the “Roll Call”. Thanks for letters and parcel. It is nice to think that while away, one is not forgotten. Give my best wishes to the brothers, also to the Chairman and Mr Rawlinson.
E.S. – “O. S.”

Best thanks for the Brotherhood letters, and also that part of the parcel which was the result of the members’ generosity. Sorry I shall not be present AT “Roll Call”. May all your efforts result in a great fillip to the Brotherhood movement. The Brotherhood ideals carried out consistently and thoroughly will go a tremendous long way towards minimising the awful effects of this war. With best wishes to all.
C. A. G. – “O. S.”

I am in France so cannot be with you to shout “Here”. Shall be thinking of you all on January 2nd. I have been a soldier just twelve months. I often wonder why I joined up, fighting being quite contradictory to my belief; but I came to the conclusion that to come out here, and share the burden of my fellows, is sufficient argument in my favour for doing so. Many thanks for kind wishes contained in letters. Hope you will all have a happy time.
E. C. P. – “O. S.”

Just a line to thank you for the letters and parcel. The garments were very useful indeed, and I put them on at once. The text on the card enclosed in parcel was “When the outlook is bad, look up”. It seemed to cheer me up, because at the time there was a lot of shelling going on. I hope you will have a good time at the “Roll Call”, and a happy New Year. Greetings to you all.
W. L. – “O. S.”

Just a card from France to wish you a Happy New Year. I wish it would bring Peace on Earth. I wish the Brotherhood could finish this awful war. Hope to be with you when I get my leave. Best wishes to all,
B. M. – “O. S.”


The first Sunday in the New Year [2 January] was a red letter day in the history of our Society; for on that day we held our first “Roll Call”… No less than 227 brothers personally answered to their names, whilst 44 (23 of whom were on active service) sent written greetings.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine (D/N11/12/1/14)

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