A Prayer in War Time

This manuscript was found in the pocket of Lt. Col. A. J. Saltren-Willett, R. G. A, when he was killed in action, on October 11th, 1917 at 4.30pm in Flanders.

A Prayer in War Time

Father of all, Helper of the Free, we pray for anxious hearts for all who fight on sea or land, and in the air, to guard our homes and liberty.

Make clear the visions of our leaders, and their counsels wise.

Into thy care our ships and seamen we commend; guard them from chance sown mines, and all the dangers of this war at sea, and, as of old give them the victory.

To men on watch give vigilance, to those below calm keep.

Make strong our soldiers’ hearts, and brace their nerves against the bursting shrapnel and the [cover] fire that lays the next man low

In pity blind them from the sight of fallen comrades left on the field

May Christ himself in Paradise receive the souls of those who pass through death.

Let not our soldiers ever doubt that they shall overcome the forces of that King who seeks to “wade through slaughter to a throne, and shut the fate of mercy on mankind”.

O God of Love and Pity have compassion on the wounded, make bearable their pain or send unconsciousness.

To surgeons and dressers give strength that knows no failing and skill that suffers not from desperate haste.

To tired men give time for rest.

Pity the poor beasts of service, who suffer for no man’s wrong.

For us at home, let not that open shame be ours, that we forget to ease the sufferings of the near and dear of the brave men in the fighting line.

O thou who makest human hearts the channel of thy answers to our prayers, let loose a flood of sympathy and help for children and their mothers, and all who wander desolate and suffering, leaving wrecked homes and fields and gardens trodden under ruthless feet.

With thee, who sufferest more than all, may we in reverence thy burden share, for all Thine and in Thine image made; They too are Thine, and in Thine who caused the wrong.

O Father may this war be mankind’s last appeal to force. Grant us from the stricken earth, sown with Thy dead an ever lasting flower of peace shall spring, and all Thy world become a garden where this flower of Christ shall grow.

And this we beg for our dear Elder Brother’s sake, who gave Himself for those He loved.

Jesus Christ Our Lord
Amen

D/P162/28/79/1-2

A great air raid

The Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist were relieved not to have suffered at the hands of the latest air raid.

31 October 1917
News came of a great air raid by the Germans on the eastern counties & London. No damage done in any of our Houses in London or at Folkestone either to the Sisters and those in their care, or to property. D. G. [Deo gratias – thanks be to God].

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

Broken up

The Hallams had sad news of an Australian soldier they had befriended.

William Hallam
31st October 1917

This morning at Breakfast time we heard from Gordon Inglis one of those Tasmanians who used to come in to see us. He tells us Don Blackwell, one of the others, was killed at ½ past 10 at night on the 17th in Polygon Wood. We were all very much cut up at this news. He was such a fine fellow. The girls especially broken up.

Florence Vansittart Neale
31 October 1917

Busy preparing for the whist drive. Had about 165 in two rooms….

Bad raid in London. Not much damage, only 3 got through! But most of people up 3 hours.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25) and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

A brave man’s death for his King and Country

A bellringer at St Andrew’s Church, Clewer, was the latest to be reported killed.

In Memoriam: Henry Wetherall. R.I.P.

We desire to express our heartfelt sympathy with Mrs. Wetherall, who has lost her husband at the Front. Henry Wetherall was one of our Bellringers, and we could ill afford to lose him.

The Chaplain has written: –

“Your husband was killed in his dug-out by a shell. I know what a blow this will be to you, but I pray that God may show you that even in this ‘all things work together for good to those who love Him.’ You have the pride and the joy of knowing that he died a brave man’s death for his King and Country. I buried him on September 8, in the little village of Boeringhe, in Belgium, in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to Eternal Life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. He was buried alongside of some of his Comrades, and the Police, to whom he belonged, have erected a Cross over his grave. May God comfort and bless you in your great need.

F. W. HEAD, Chaplain of the Guards Division.

Clewer parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

A great success from the Patriotic as well as the Social point of view

A concert encouraged Clewer people to invest their savings in government funds aimed at helping with the war effort.

St Agnes’, Clewer

There is no doubt that we all enjoyed ourselves thoroughly at our War Savings Concert on October 30, and it was a great success from the Patriotic as well as the Social point of view. What with the varied selection of popular songs, the wonderful execution of a pianist, and the telling speech in which Mr. Weston advocated the advantages gained for our Country and for ourselves by joining the War Savings Association, it was an out and out star-performance.

No less than six new members were enrolled then and there, and others have joined up since. Payments (6d. and upwards) are made at the Mission Room any Monday between 4 and 5 o’clock. when the Hon. Secretary will gladly give information to all who will take this splendid opportunity of helping those at the Front, and at the same time, getting a good return for our money which we can always have out at any time if we should want it.

Clewer parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

Awful Italian debacle

The Italians’ defeat was getting even more disastrous.

30 October 1917
Awful Italian debacle.

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

Just one of the best men

A Caversham-born architect who rose from the ranks to a commission was killed. Haslam’s legacy includes St Andrew’s Church in Caversham, while his father’s family firm is still going strong.

Parish Church (S. Peter’s)
Personal Notes

Lieut. James Haslam, London Regiment, killed on October 30th, was a prominent Thames rowing man. Born in 1880, he was the third son of Mr. Dryland Haslam, of Warren House, Caversham, and was educated at Bradfield College. Soon after leaving school he joined the Artists’ Rifles, and also volunteered for the South African War, in which he served for two-and-a-half years, with Paget’s Horse, and received the Queen’s and King’s medals.

After his return he began business as an architect and surveyor at Reading. In 1904 he was appointed secretary to the Reading Chamber of Commerce, and held the appointment up to his death. He rejoined the ranks of the London Regiment directly war broke out, and went to France on October 26th, 1914. He had been promoted to Company Sergeant–Major before taking up a commission, and had been at the front almost continuously. He was slightly wounded early in the present year.

A brother Officer wrote: –

“His loss is a great blow to the battalion. He was noted for his kindness to all, both before and after he took his commission, Lieut. Haslam was just one of the best men, and we always had great admiration for him.”

Lieut. Haslam rowed for Reading R.C. for several years, and stroked the four for the Wyfold Cup at Henley Regatta for three years, in addition to winning prizes at many other regattas,. He was captain and hon. Secretary of the Reading R.C. for some time and a prominent official of the Reading Amateur Regatta. He played hockey for the Berkshire Gentleman and Football for the Reading Amateurs and other clubs. He was captain of the Church Lads’ Brigade at Caversham. He leaves a widow.

(from the “Times.”)

Caversham parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P162/28A/7)

Three of our “boys” home on leave

Some soldiers came home on leave to Spencers Wood.

Our Village Churches
Spencer’s Wood. Pastor: Mr H.E. Cole.

Home on Leave.

We are very pleased to see us amongst us three of our “boys” home on leave. Percy Double was home for ten days from France. Lce.-Cpl Harry Wheeler was home on hospital leave. Fred Norriss was home on his “last” leave. All these lads joined with us in worship on Sunday, August 26th. Percy Double and Fred Norris are now ”somewhere in France,” and they would like us to remember them in our prayers.

Sympathy.

Many of us at Spenser’s Wood learnt with deep sorrow of the death of Lieut. W.W. Drake. And we would like to express to Mrs. Drake our deepest sympathy.

Spencers Wood section of Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

London children find safety

More refugees from London arrived in Berkshire.

October 29th 1917

Admitted five children from London.

Lower Sandhurst School log book (C/EL66/1, p. 415)

Awfully bad war news

William Hallam, contemplating a return home to Berkshire, was disappointed by the war news.

29th October 1917

Up at 8 this morning. Awfully bad war news from the Western Front. Wrote to my sister in India, then went down to the Institute and changed Lib. book. I saw in the Reading Mercury that that old house at Harwell; which my brother said would just suit me; sold for 470£ a figure above my mark. Went to bed after dinner and got up at 5 tea and in to work at 6. Not so cold as it was. The boiler makers started work again after 4 weeks strike – scoundrels.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Italians terribly beaten

Florence Vansittart Neale was correct in her assessment. The Battle of Caporetto, as this fight was known, was to be notorious as one of the nation’s worst ever defeats.

28 October 1917

Italians terribly beaten, I fear.

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

“This must be done before the war is over and the war-work dropped”

The Church of England hoped to use the groundswell of voluntary work supporting the war effort as a springboard for religious purposes at a later date.

OXFORD DIOCESAN BOARD OF MISSIONS

The autumn effort in relation to the war.

In some ways this is a bad time for a Missionary Effort, but not in all ways. In order to point out one advantage of making the Effort before the end of the war the Executive Committee has unanimously passed the following Resolution:

The main aim of the Autumn Missionary Effort must be so to influence members of the Church that the services they are now rendering to King and Country (in prayer, gifts and in personal work), shall after the war be as far as possible conserved and transformed to service for the extension of God’s Kingdom.”

ILLUSTRATIONS

1. Prayer. One Deanery has already decided that War Intercession Services shall be continued after the war as Intercession Services on behalf of the Church Overseas.

2. Gifts. Regular or occasional subscriptions to war Funds (Red Cross, Belgian Relief, etc, would naturally cease after the war. The Autumn effort should encourage resolutions to continue such subscriptions (in part at least) after the war, for the unceasing frontier warfare of the Church.

3. Personal Service. Not a few Territorials in India who have visited Missions there, mean after the war to give themselves to missionary work. In some cases Red Cross and other Working Parties have already decided to continue to meet after the war, in support of Medical Missions. How many of our Nurses might put their trained experience at the disposal of Medical Missions!

The opportunity is great. If quite a small fraction of the voluntary war-work now being done were by-and-by transferred to the cause of Missions, the help given to the Church overseas would be multiplied many times!

Would it not be well for the parochial clergy earnestly to consider how best to bring this thought before each of their parishioners? Only this must be done before the war is over and the war-work dropped.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Plodding on

Will Spencer’s quest to change nationality was going well. Florence Vansittart Neale continued to be anxious about the war news.

Florence Vansittart Neale
27 October 1917

No air raids mercifully, tho’ bright moon. Germans pushing Italians back. Germans claim 20,000 prisoners. We plodding on.

Will Spencer
27 October 1917

Called & spoke for the first time with Herrn Fursprech Engeloch, who expressed himself very pleased that the matter of my naturalization would now end satisfactorily. He returned to me my Aufeuthaltsbewilligung, for the event of our going to Goldiwil.

Diaries of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)
and Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX810/26)

A double military wedding

A soldier on leave got married to his sweetheart.

TILEHURST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

Miss Florence Savory was married at our church on Saturday, October 27th, to Mr Arthur Jacob Hailstone of Tilehurst, the service being conducted by the Pastor, Rev. E J Perry….

An interesting feature was the presence at the marriage of the bride’s brother-in-law, Mr Heath, who is back again in England for training as a Commissioned Officer. Mr Hailstone has been serving with the forces also for about 18 months, so that in a double sense it was a military wedding.…

We take this opportunity of wishing Mr and Mrs Hailstone all happiness in the years ahead, and trust that the husband’s military duties will soon cease.

Tilehurst section of Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

A rather large influx of “raid” children

More families fled London, while local children collected chestnuts for munitions.

Crowthorne
October 26th 1917

There has been a rather large influx of “raid” children from East London.

Yattendon
Octr 26th

Half holiday given this afternoon for chestnut picking.

Crowthorne C.E. School log book (D/P102B/28/2); Yattendon CE School log book (SCH37/8/2)