“The Great War in which our whole nation and indeed nearly all the world is engaged”

The anniversary of the war’s start was cause for the parish of Reading St Mary to take stock.

Intercessions

For those just gone to the front for the first time, especially Frank Taylor, our late Sacristan, and Edward Henry Bartholomew, one of our Choirmen, both of whom have gone to France; also Claude Towers, who has just started for Mesopotamia.

For the fallen, especially Richard Page (died of wounds received on June 7th), and Arthur Clements Hiberden.

All Saints’ District
The War

On Saturday, August the 4th (the third anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War) there will be a celebration of the Holy Communion at 8 O’clock, and on Sunday the 5th, there will be celebrations at 7, 8 and 10. Throughout the day the special services will be used, and copies will be provided for the use of the congregation. The collections will be for the Assistant Clergy Fund.

R.I.P.

Our deepest sympathy will be given to Mr. R. F.S. Biddulph and his family on the loss of his elder son Richard Herbert Hoel Biddulph who died of wounds in France on July 5th. He was a member of the Canadian Forces and volunteered for service immediately on the outbreak of war.

St Saviour’s District
August 4th

It will not be possible to pass this third anniversary of the Great War in which our whole nation and indeed nearly all the world is engaged, without some special looking to God, and renewal of national purpose. Probably Sunday August 5th, will be more specially kept as a day of United Prayer and renewal of purpose before God, and of thanksgiving too for renewal of purpose to united effort and sacrifice, which he has made, and is still making to us. Let us at S. Saviours come together before God in Church and there in worship, communion and prayer remember our nation, our church, our dear ones etc. and offer ourselves again to him to do and to suffer all that He wills.

R.I.P.

John Warren Wells, of the Canadian contingent, has been killed in France. As a small boy he lived in Garnet Street, and our sympathy is with his family and relatives, especially with Mr. George Wells, our sidesman. Among those recently wounded in France is, we are sorry to hear, George Jacobs, of 1 S. Saviour’s Terrace, we hope that his family will soon get news of his good progress.

St Mark’s District

We are glad to have good news of the S.Mark’s lads from France and elsewhere, though we are sorry to hear that Trooper H.T. Chamberlain has been in hospital at Alexandria for some weeks suffering from severe breakdown and shell-shock. We trust he will soon be quite restored to health again.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, August1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

Sending dressings right out to the firing line

People in the villages of Wokingham Rural District gave their money generously, while those in Wargrave were proud to know that their handmade surgical dressings were being put to use at the front where they were most urgently needed.

Our Day

Very hearty congratulations and our best thanks are due to Mrs. Oliver Young and all her collectors, for the splendid contribution sent this year from the district to the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. The Cheque sent to the County Secretary from the Wokingham North District was for £168. 10s. 1d. and was made up as follows:-

£. s. d.
Wargrave per Mrs. Victor Rhodes: 19 3 2
Wargrave per Mrs Vickerman 36 0 0
Hare Hatch per Mrs. A. W. Young 20 7 2
Twyford per Mrs. F. C. Young 23 4 0
Remenham and Crazies Hill per Mrs. Noble 21 1 7
Mr. Noble per Mrs. Noble 20 0 0
Sonning per Miss Williams 13 0 0
Woodley per Miss Pantin 3 6 2
Hurst per Mrs. Roupell 12 8 0

£168 10 1

Wargrave Surgical Dressing Emergency Society

Since March 23rd, 1915 over 300 Bales of dressings and comforts have been sent to Casualty Clearing Stations in France, Malta, Egypt, Alexandria and Port Said. The Society is now approved by the War Office, and properly licensed under the New War Charity Act. In future it is intended to print the hospitals where dressings are sent every month, in the Parish Magazine, as it cannot fail to be a source of satisfaction to know that while the Hospital is doing all it can for the men who have come back, the Surgical Dressing Society is sending every month about 20 Bales right out to the Firing Line, for the use of the men who come out of the trenches on the field of Battle.

List of Hospitals for October and November:

B. Ex. F. France:
No. 5, Casualty Clearing Station
No. 27, Field Ambulance – 9th Scottish Section
No. 3, Canadian Casualty Clearing Station

Egypt:
No. 19 General Hospital, Alexandria
No. 31, General Hospital, Port Said

These Hospitals have 4 Bales of Dressings etc. each:
No. 21 Casualty Clearing Station
No. 5 Casualty Clearing Station
No. 2/2d London Casualty Clearing Station
No. 1/1 Midland D. Casualty Clearing Station
British Exped. Force, France.

4 Bales each.

By order of the Director General. Vol. Organizations
Scotland Yard.

Wargrave parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

Casting their shadows before them

Members of Maidenhead Congregational Church were serving in various regiments.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Frank Pigg has joined the Flying Corps, and is stationed at Farnborough, and John Boyd has been placed in 3/4 Royal Berks, and is for the present at Reading. Other enlistments too from our numbers are casting their shadows before them! Leonard Beal has been in hospital at Alexandria, suffering from fever, but is reported better, and returned to duty. As we go to press we hear that Donald Lindsay is reported wounded. No details are given, and we may trust that the wounds are not severe.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, July 1916 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Misunderstandings are apt to arise at a distance

Ralph Glyn was getting all his contacts to help him with intelligence background for his latest mission, in Greece.

Alexandria
23rd April 1916

My dear Glyn,

The man who is doing the Greek personalities for us will do his best to let you have the particulars you ask for concerning the entourage of the King and Queen. It is however doubtful whether he will be able to help us as regards the G.G.S. [Greek General Staff] and their sympathies. We might of course find out this from our people in Athens, but I am always afraid of treading on the toes of a military attaché. If I were there I am sure I could easily arrange matters with Fairholme, who as you know is a very good fellow, but at a distance misunderstandings are apt to arise so I hope you will not be disappointed if you don’t get much from us about G.G.S.

Yours sincerely
R

Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/29)

The air is full of rumours

Lady Mary Glyn informed her son Ralph of the latest news at home.

March 8th [1916]

I did calls yesterday. Volck is the name of the new manager at Sage’s. Wife very Brightonian. Decollee at 5 pm and they have taken the Canes’ house in Precincts. They tell me of an RNS Lieutenant called Meynell with his wife at the Peterborough Hotel and a flying man called Gordon England has taken the Archdeacon’s house where the Cooks were. I winder if you know him. I understand there is a great concentration of flying men and inventors & machines to tempt the Zepps here now, and a wireless station at Dogsthorpe & guard of 40 men. Peterborough is becoming quite as central as it can ever hope to be….

The air is full of rumours of sea action, of liveliness in the North Sea. And Churchill has just made one more limelight dramatic speech demanding Fisher’s recall. Hedworth has made his debut as a speaker and hopes Churchill will go back to duty in the trenches.

Lady Exeter says Lord Exeter has been in hospital nearly all his time at Alexandria – influenza, and very seedy in hospital there….

Own Mur

Letter from Lady Mary to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)

Is God really sitting on the fence?

Lady Mary Glyn, wife of the Bishop of Peterborough, wrote to her son Ralph. The Bishop was planning to retire in the near future, as he felt out of pace in the changing Church of England. The increased numbers of men being called up had led to a shortage of people willing to work in domestic service.

Sunday evening, March 5th 1916
My own darling blessing and own son and Scrappits

The Mission will bring the Bishop of London here on April 4th. He is made in his own words “Chief of Staff” and more & more I feel how trying these modern methods are for men of Dad’s age and experience – and “Chelmsford” has actually talked of “God, if I may say it with reverence(!) is sitting on the fence! – isn’t it inconceivable that a man can say such a thing as this with regard to the Almighty, & the victors in this war! If that is to be the tone of our leaders, Dad will be quite out of it!…

We have kept on Tuke, the chauffeur, after a month’s trial & have had to allow him to have wife (& 2 children) at the Lodge. She is very young & had a Zepp scare, & could not bear to be alone in London. We are not doing up the house, & she is only there till Easter; we find the furniture from here. she will then probably move into rooms – but as the married groups are being called up, it is most probable so young a man will have to go & we do not want to be involved in his family here. The whole question of servants will be very difficult, and we must do with as few as possible, and they must be able-bodied and “willing” to work, not watertight compartments refusing “menial” work one for another. A soldier man and his wife are my idea, but we must try to run at first with those who will stick to us….

I hear Aunt Syb has heard from the captain and chaplain [about her late son Ivar] as I think I told you, but I did not see her this time in London & get most of my news from Aunt Eve. Aunt Far tells me Frank sent for his sword which she mercifully insured before sending it in the Maloja….

Oswald is on some General’s Staff at Alexandria, but Meg does not know whose staff it is, & you must by this time know. Aunt Alice was full of talk about [illegible] and his work, of Harry busy in Soudan [sic] getting together 25,000 camels and provisioning Salonika from the Soudan, and she thinks Gordon must be singing Te Deums in Heaven over it. She was also full of information as to the gear of Belgians being bought and open to bribery by the Huns & need for much taking over.

And by the time you get this Verdun will be decided and how much else. It is wonderful to know France has won her soul and is able for such a crisis in calm fortitude to bear this tremendous shock and to await events with confidence. And I think the rumours everywhere of naval “liveliness” are reflected in Meg, as I think she is tremendously anxious & prepared to hear of some engagement.

Mr James said London was full of rumours yesterday & stories of prisoners brought to Leith, and they had anxious days with no letters last week and it was such a relief when one did come on Friday 3rd… Your dear letter of the 24th reached me in the morning and was under my pillow that night… I know you must have many blue moments in the strange sad searching of that desert world of departed aeons and of sunshine that is all too brazen! But yet I am thankful after Gallipoli you have this climate, and conditions in which “recuperation” after that time is made possible, but I do long for you unbearably…

France is a nightmare just now, & news has come to us through Maysie of Desmond FitzGerald’s death, an accident with a bomb which he was showing to the Colonel. One has to believe it was somehow to be, and he is saved from a suffering in some way by this tragic way of dying.

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)

Lives complete in self-sacrifice

A naval and army chaplain with links to Windsor reports on his experiences at Gallipoli ad in Egypt. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he was open to learning from the non-white and non-Christian peoples he encountered, and respected the Turks as an honourable enemy.

The Vicar has received the following letter from Mr Everett:

Hospital Ship “Asturias”
Alexandria
February 1st, 1916

My dear Vicar

Since I last wrote I have seen so much, and gathered so many new impressions, that I find it difficult to decide what to write, and what to leave out. I have been several times through the Aegean Sea, either from Malta or Alexandria, on my way to Lemnos, the Gallipoli Peninsula, or Salonica [sic], from which places we, of course, brought back sick and wounded…

What thoughts are produced by Mount Olympus – hoary Olympus – once believed of men the home of the greater Gods! There, standing lofty and snowcapped, it has looked down through the ages on the surrounding country and the Gulf of Salonica. What has it seen in the past, and what now! Then, men seeking an unknown God in their own way, making wars, too, or carrying on their simple business, or cultured lives, on land and sea; using their frail ships with their banks of oars, or driven by contrary winds, and now, watching the great ships go by, battle cruisers and hospital ships (two strange contrasts), huge transports for the gathering of armies, and busy torpedo boats, all more or less independent of storm and tempest, and defeating space with their wireless installations.

But my pen has run away with me over my fascinating travels, nd I must turn to twentieth century history. The Dardanelles campaign is over, but I am not likely to forget my brief visits to Anzac Beach or Cape Helles; nor will those splendid men of all ranks, who spent months there and at Suvla Bay, under conditions which are well known. At Cape Helles I was sometimes ashore, and went over ground once held by fire and sword. It would take too long to describe it – the camps, landing places, “River Clyde”, and the town and fortress of Sedd El Bahr; but one enclosed space, of pathetic interest, held me – the little grave yard studded with crosses, some elaborate, but the majority rough and ready, marking the resting places of some of the many on the Peninsula whose lives, though so short, were so complete in their voluntary self-sacrifice. I eagerly scanned the names and rude inscriptions, in case I could recognise some brave friend from Windsor or elsewhere, in order to tell someone at home about it, and bring back a photograph, but found none I knew. I venture to think that the Turk, who has been an honourable foe, now that he is again in possession of Cape Helles, will reverence that little spot. I might add that I carefully looked at the crosses on Lemnos Island, over the graves of those who had died in hospital there, and have also seen the military burying place in Alexandria, but have only come across one name I knew.

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An awful, awful tragedy

Lady Mary Glyn wrote to Ralph again to let him know how her Red Cross and other war work was going.

Jan 18th [1916]…

We heard of the great doings at the G[reat] E[astern] Rest Room. Over 100 men there last night – 40 sailors, 60 men & then more, and an efficient staff of helpers. All night. Then in afternoon I … called on Recruiting Officer’s wife…

From 6 to 9 (with break for dinner) the Knights Chamber Private Registered Red X Work Party. 32 workers all in caps & white aprons and sleeves, and it is really a joy to see that Room full – all happy, and the long tables covered with clean oil baize, and your old nursery cupboard moved there to hold the material. I hear there is a tremendous “muddle” at Northampton, & as these inanities here appealed to Lord Spencer they have dragged him into their mesh of muddle, and I have written no word & keep silence, but events move, and things must take their course. Sir George Pragnell looks like a bulldog that will not easily let go, and the evidence he took from me was quite sufficient to show misapplication of money, and a vast trickery of the public they feared my action would bring to light. They would have done better to leave me alone!…

I read the papers and wish I knew what to think! Montenegro and its heights to add to the pecuniary burdens of ruined nations, but in the meantime how far adding to their resources?…

My whole love always
Own Mur

Ralph’s sister Meg also wrote to him, with thoughts on politics, and more on the Campbell family’s loss with the death of their cousin Ivar. (more…)

The religious work of the war

The people of Sulhamstead heard a lecture about evangelistic work in the trenches.

THE WAR
LANTERN LECTURE
A lecture accompanied with the exhibition of Lantern Slides will be given on Friday, January 7th, at the School, at 7 p.m., by the Rev. J. Hobson, MA, London District Secretary of the Religious Tract Society, on Religious Work at the Front and in the Trenches.
Admission 2d and 1d. There will be a collection to support the work.

SOLDIERS’ AND SAILORS’ COFFEE STALL
A box into which anyone may place small contributions to help support this stall at the S. Eastern Railway Station, Reading, is on the counter as the Post Office. These stalls are doing a great work throughout the country, and the Post Office Mistress will be grateful for any donations.

We regret to state that Lieutenant Albert Marsh, RNR, has been missing since the “Tera” was sunk in the Mediterranean. A body of some 300 men was seen on the shores of Africa, about 300 miles west of Alexandria, and it is hoped they are safe, and that he is among them.

The lecture went ahead, as the February issue of the parish magazine reported:

The Lantern Lecture on the Religious Work of the War, by the Rev. J Hobson of the Religious Tract Society, with Sir George Watson, bart, as Chairman, was given to a crowded audience. The views of the trenches and camps were very fine, and we wished we could have had more of them. The entrance money and collection amounted to £2. 11s. 10d., which was handed over to Mr Hobson for the work amongst the soldiers.

Sulhamstead parish magazines, January and February 1916 (D/EX725/3)

“Knowing no fear and heeding no danger”

A much-loved young man from Earley lost his life in Egypt in December 1915.

In memoriam

Thursday the 16 December, bought us heavy tidings in the death of Ronald Eric Brown, Trooper, Berks Yeomanry, youngest son of our churchwarden, Mr Richard Brown of Capenor, Crescent Road. Ronald Brown was a delightful example of English youth vivacious, active, cheerful, fearless, and an excellent horseman. He left England for Cairo last April, and suffered greatly from the effects of the climate and conditions of life in Egypt, being repeatedly sent down to hospital in Alexandria with blood poisoning. To be left behind when his companions went up to the Dardanelles was heart breaking to him, and it is not difficult to believe that he longed with an intense desire for the opportunity which, when it came, cost him his life.

It appears from his long delayed letters that – his health restored by Dec 1st – he was one of those selected to put down disturbances caused by Arab tribes on the west front of Egypt. From the wilds of the desert he sent his last letter home, describing the pitiless sandstorms, the cold and the wet, the great distances from village to village; but anxious to do his bit (so he said) when the moment came. And on the 11th it came; and those who knew him best at home can picture him in the front line, knowing no fear and heeding no danger, ready to do his bit and return if it might be so, and if not – well, to shew those by his side that he was. So he died – one more of the brave lads baptized, confirmed and communicants in the old home church, fighting for her and the old country, cheerful and fearless in life in death. But the heart of our parish goes out to his father and mother.

Earley parish magazine, January 1916 (D/P192/28A/14)

“His passing-on brings the realities of war close to home”

The people of Ascot supported the war in multiple ways.

THE WAR.

We deeply regret to have to record the death of Pte. Harry Freeman, killed in France. His family is so well known and respected in Ascot, and he himself, as one of our old School boys, and in the Choir, so familiar a figure among us in the past years, that his passing-on brings the realities of war close to home. His parents and sisters have our deepest sympathy.

Pte. Jack Jones, having recovered from his wound, has been at home for a week, and is now stationed at Portsmouth for a short time. He is one of the 9 survivors out of 25 engaged in digging a trench in the open.

Another of our wounded, Archibald Grimmett, is doing fairly well, we are thankful to say, but has not yet recovered the use of his side. He is now at Southbourne.

Percy Huxford and Richard Taylor are prisoners of war in Germany.

Our other wounded are doing well.

TWO SPECIAL INTERCESSIONS SERVICES will be held during Advent, on Tuesday, December 7th, at 7.30 p.m., in the Parish Room, when the names of all those at the Front whose homes are in the Brookside District of the Parish will be specially remembered before GOD; and on Monday, December 13th, at 7.30 p.m. in the Church, for those whose homes are in the London Road and High Street Districts. It is earnestly hoped that the near relatives of our Ascot lads, in each case, will be present at one or other of these prayer meetings, so that, all together, we may unite in prayer to our Father in Heaven for those whom it is our bounden duty to pray.

A “PRISONERS OF WAR” box is placed inside the Church, for which offerings are invited. We hope to send out to our prisoners Christmas parcels: and we look forward, if the offering allow, to send them further parcels from time to time.

WAR HOSPITAL STORES DEPOT.

It may interest those of our readers who are working at the Ascot War Hospital Stores Depôt to know that over 46,000 articles have been sent to the Hospitals abroad since the depôt opened on June 22nd last. The work is continuing at full swing, though more helpers will be gladly welcomed by Lady Susan Dawnay at the depôt room above the Military Hospital at any time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on Thursdays from 10 a.m. till dark. 28 crates and 3 bales have already been sent to the following Hospitals:

21st British General Hospital, Alexandria, 2 crates
French Military Hospital, Ducey, France, 2 crates
Belgian Military Hospital, Calais, 2 crates
British General Hospital, Havre, 2 crates
British General Hospital, Lemnos, 5 crates
“Entente Cordiale” Hospital, Mentone [Menton, France], 3 crates
Belgian Field Hospital, Dunkirk, 2 crates
“Border” (British) Hospital for French Soldiers, France, 2 crates
French Hospital, Château du Franc Port, Compiègne, 1 crate
Ascot Military Hospital, 1 crate
Italian Field Hospital on Austrian Frontier, 1 crate and 1 bale
No. 12 British General Hospital, Rouen, 2 bales
Belgian Hospital (c/o Belgian Soldiers Fund) 2 crates

“Two crates” contain approximately the following articles :
1000 bandages, 24 many-tailed bandages, 24 T-bandages, 24 slings, 24 knee many-tailed bandages, 24 head or stump bandages, 12 chin bandages, 50 pairs of splints, 1000 puff swabs, 1 gross Turkish towelling swabs, 1 gross eye swabs, 1 gross solid gauze swabs, 1 gross gauze and wool swabs, 1000 flat swabs, 1000 plugs, 12 pillows, 6 pairs of crutches, 24 pairs of socks, 24 pyjamas or night shirts, 12 bed jackets, 24 shirts. Consignments of blanket shave also been sent.

BELGIAN SOLDIERS FUND. £6 9s 0d. has been sent to the above Fund from Ascot Parish.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, December 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/12)

That dread word “missing”

Broad Street Church in Reading continued to care about its men who had gone to war.

November 1915

We desire also to express our sympathy with the relatives and friends of our brother, Trooper G P Lewis, of the Royal Berks Yeomanry. Mr Lewis has been a member of our church for some years. He was one of the first to respond to the call of his country in August 1914. He has been reported “missing” in the Dardanelles, for some weeks. We can imagine what that dread word “missing” means to his loved ones, and we tender them our affectionate sympathy.

News reached Reading a few days ago that Private Reginald S Woolley, son of our friends Mr and Mrs W A Woolley, 85 Oxford Road, had been seriously wounded “somewhere in France”. It is a pleasure to be able to report that our young friend is now making good progress towards recovery, and hopes before long to be home on sick leave. We congratulate his parents upon this relief from their anxiety, and we hope that their natural desire to have their son home may soon be realised.

The call for recruits for the army and navy is sadly depleting our ranks in the Sunday School, and there is the possibility of further loss in the near future…

Talking of recruits reminds me that eight more names have been added to the church section of our Roll of Honour.
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Three days without food in a forgotten trench

More Earley men (and a woman) joined up in the war’s second autumn. Others had suffered the vicissitudes of war.

Yet another of our choirmen, Mr F C Goodson, has gone forth to the war and carries with him our good wishes. Mr Goodson has joined the Army Service Corps (19th Labour Company) and will be employed in France, probably at one of the landing stages. On Sept 7th we heard of his safe arrival on the French coast, and the Vicar heard from him on the 20th.

Mr Stanley Hayward, who for many years has served both in the choir and as principal server, has also gone. Mr Hayward offered his services as clerk to the Army Ordnance Corps, and left home to report himself to Woolwich on Sept. 8th. He, too, carries with him our best wishes.

Mr William Stevens, of 119 Grange Ave, private 2nd Battalion of the Royal Warwicks (which played a gallant part in the first battle of Ypres in Oct, and later on took part in the battle of Neuve Chapelle) has been home and amongst us. Pte Stevens was wounded in the back and buried by a bursting shell in the trenches, and was subsequently dug out. Among his other experiences, he was left with 11 others in an advanced trench for three days without food, as the order to retire failed to reach them. On this occasion he was officially reported “missing”. He has now recovered his health, and sailed on Sept. 2nd to rejoin his regiment. His two brothers are serving, one in the Persian Gulf; the other is in the Royal Navy and shortly expected home on sick leave.

We regret to learn that Mr Herbert E Long, of 40 St Bartholomew’s Road, trooper in the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, has been wounded at the Dardanelles. Fortunately the wounds appear to have been slight. Like Mr W Stevens, he too has two brothers serving in the Army, one with the Army Service Corps in Egypt and one presently in England.

Miss Hilda Sturgess, one of our Sunday School teachers, sailed on Sept 10th for Egypt in company with about 100 nurses. Miss Sturgess reluctantly gave up her class at the beginning of the War and joined the nursing staff at St Luke’s Red Cross Hospital for the wounded. After many months work there the War Office requested her to undertake work in one of the hospitals, presumably Cairo or Alexandria, and she accepted the call. It is a courageous action to go out with strangers into a strange country without hope of return for at least six months. It seems to us a true and honourable service to one’s country and deserving of every commendation.

Mr Reginald Sturgess, another of our old choir leaders, has left England for the Dardanelles. He joined the West Kent Yeomanry about a year ago. They have been quartered near Canterbury these many months wondering whether they would be sent abroad or not. Orders came last month, and they are now either in Egypt or, more probably, at the front in Gallipoli. Mr Reginald Sturgess has won considerable distinction in machine gunnery, and will without doubt prove himself an efficient and capable soldier.

The Rev. J W Blencowe, whose lectures on the Melanesian Mission have been greatly appreciated here, has resigned his curacy at Wokingham and been appointed Chaplain to HM Forces in the Dardanelles. By a curious coincidence Mr Blencowe will go out with the West Kent Yeomanry to which Mr Reginald Sturgess belongs. At the time of writing we have no other information than that Mr Blencowe was ordered to be ready on Monday the 20th ult. If he sails with the West Kents, the chaplain and one of the troopers will begin their friendship with a good deal in common.

Earley parish magazine, October 1915 (D/P192/28A/13)

Senior French army delegation “jabbering French like monkeys and wasting our time”

Ralph Glyn’s mentor General Charles Callwell was not very impressed with our French allies.

War Office
Whitehall
SW

20/10/15

My dear Ralph

I thank you very much for your letter and for your useful notes. I will see what I can do with regard to improving the communication between you and this part of the world. I have already spoken frequently about this to Brade. I shall also suggest that there should be some system of liason between you and Salonika and Athens, organising a main base at Alexandria for both the Medforce and the Salonika force under Ellison may perhaps improve matters.

I have just come back from a visit to France and I would much liked to have had you with me as on the last occasion. Archie Murray and I went to see General Joffre at Chantilly about this Macedonian affair and when we got through we found he was starting the same evening for this country to talk matters over with our Government. The nett result of it all is that we are let in for sending additional troops to Salonika and for undertaking what looks to me like a serious campaign. The French idea was to snap up the troops from the Dardanelles and to pop them down at Salonika, but I think I succeeded in choking them off this and they now realise that the force for these new operations must come from France. All this, as you will understand, gives us a lot of work here at present, especially as Joffre and his party have been here to-day; the party jabbering French like monkeys and wasting our time. However, they have all gone off this evening and been got rid of.

The question of the Arabs is extraordinarily important and we are taking it up here very thoroughly. It is a matter that Lord K fully understands and is much interested in, but the Arabs are opening their mouths rather wide and the question of Syria is to some extent involved, which brings us against the French. Were it not for them we could fix them up in no time.

No time for more.

Yours sincerely
Chas E Callwell

PS I hope you are very fit, and think you should go to Salonika now and help there unless you are required at Mudros. I will mention this to Bell in my next letter.

Letter from General Callwell to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C24)

“The Germans are murderers, not clean soldiers”

A selection of letters from Reading soldiers at the Front, in England, and in Egypt, which were printed in their home church’s magazine.

Letter From the Front. Come out and help.
When we are out of the trenches on a Sunday (like to-day) we have a short service which come as a luxury and which reminds me of old times when singing in the choir at S. Stephen’s. I had a scarf sent out to me by my sister which was made at the Girls’ Club, I understand, but it is very handy when we have nights out, which we often do, for it is very cold at nights. We have been out here practically eight weeks, and I suppose have seen as much of the trenches as any battalion out here during that short time. I never thought that when I went to see you when home on leave from Chelmsford that we should have been up in the firing line so quick as we were….

We are always thinking of all the friends and people we have left behind, and I know that you are thinking of us while we are away from everybody doing our bit. I hear that you call the names out on a Sunday and I know that there are quite a number, but I hope that before long that list will be twice as long, for the more men and young chaps we get out here the sooner it will end, and I am sure that we all want to see that as soon as possible.
G. KING.

Poisonous Gases.
Just at present we are having a very troublesome time with the Germans. They are trying their very hardest to break through and we have very hard work to keep them back because they are using those poisonous gases which is something terrible for our poor men, and you can’t do anything at all with them. I think myself that the Germans are murderers, not clean soldiers.
L.H. CROOK. (more…)