Cheerily planning to teach the Germans a lesson

The young men of Wargrave who had joined up were still pretty gung-ho about their prospects.

Wargrave Men at the Front

The Rev. B. S. Batty has received a large number of letters from Wargrave men at the front and serving on His Majesty’s ships, in which they express great gratitude to the people of Wargrave for the tobacco and cigarettes forwarded to them after the Harvest Festival. Most of them say what a great encouragement it is to them to receive such proof that those at home bear them in mind…

All honour to those of our young men who answered the call of King and Country to join the Army. The district has done its best, for nearly all those who answered to the recruiting standard have gone from amongst us to undergo the necessary training. From those we have heard from they are very cheery and full of confident expectation of being sent to the front “to teach the Germans a lesson.” We are sure they will render a good account of themselves. Let us not forget to pray for them and encourage them in every possible way we can. Some of our readers might like to use daily the following prayer: –

O Heavenly Father, we commit into Thy loving hands all the men who have dedicated themselves to the service of their Country, and especially those who have gone forth from this Parish. Let them cheerfully submit to work and discipline, as they prepare for war. Enable them to endure patiently, as good soldiers, and to persevere to the end. Let them not be afraid to profess Christ before their comrades and friends, and to fight manfully under His banner against all the temptations around them. Let them feel our prayers are ever following them. Guard them with a sense of the justice of their cause. Bid them be of good courage and bring them home in peace and safety when the victory is won. All this we ask in the Name and for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wargrave parish magazine, November 1914 (D/P145/28A/31)

Amply provided for

The Executive Committee of the National Relief Fund Berkshire Committee met on 27 October 1914 at
Shire Hall, Reading. Once again they dealt with cases of families of servicemen who were in financial difficulties.

At present there is no distress in Abingdon directly caused by the war…

The following applications for relief were considered:
Fanny White, Shinfield. Resolved that 4/6 per week for three weeks, beginning October 17th, be granted.
P C Dennys, Wargrave. Letters concerning this applicant from the Rev. B Batty and Mr Henry Bond were read, and the secretary was instructed to write to Mr Dennys and advise him to apply for an interpretership to the War Office and to the Belgian Refugee Committee.
Oakley, Bracknell. The Committee resolved that the case be dropped for the present.
Ethel Bourgeois, Bray. The secretary reported that the applicant was receiving a weekly payment from the French Consulate and that her late employer had written saying that for the present she was amply provided for.
A Ross, Clewer. Resolved that the applicant’s arrears of rent to the amount of 35/- be paid to the landlord through the local Windsor Committee.

The Government Committee’s circular letter DMTI re Medical Relief was considered. Mr Melvill Davidson and Mr Tottie reported that the Soldiers and Sailors’ Families Association in Berkshire was prepared to deal with the administration of the medical relief….

National relief Fund berks ctee C/CL/C6/4/1

Chocolate and cigarettes for the troops: Harvest offerings

The collections at Wargrave Church’s Harvest Festival in 1914 were divided between normal peacetime charities and war-related ones, with various gifts for the troops. The October issue of the parish magazine provides more information about the plans, while the November issue reports on the reality of the occasion. The church was a temporary one because the historic parish church had been burned down on 1 June 1914 in a mysterious arson attack believed to have been suffragettes. No one was ever convicted.

October 1914

Harvest Festival: Special Notice:

The temporary Church will be suitably decorated, but it will not be possible to use the large amount of fruit and flowers usually sent. It is recognised that the security of our harvest, under the Province of God, is largely due to the heroic efforts of our sailors and soldiers, and it is proposed to recognise this by placing two large boxes at the entrance to the Church, into which gifts of cigarettes (in packets of 10), pipes, tobacco, and chocolate in packets (not milk chocolate), can be placed by members of the congregation. These will be sent to the men of Berkshire Regiment and Oxfordshire Regiment at the Front, and also to all Wargrave men serving on H. M.’s ships. Such gifts have been specifically asked for, and those who usually give fruit and flowers are invited to help in this way. Children are also asked to bring such gifts to the Children’s Service.
B. S. Batty, Vicar

Crazies Hill Notes

Harvest Festival: People ought to try to make much of the Harvest Thanksgiving this year. It means such a lot to us. We have begun to realize the value of the good things of the earth, and how for our very existence we depend on God’s bounty.

November 1914

Our Harvest Festival Services were held on October 4th. The collections and offertories amounted to £17. 2s. 7d., which were divided between the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Society and the Royal Berkshire Hospital at Reading.

The collections in kind amounted to 1550 cigarettes, 26lbs. of tobacco, 160 pipes, a large quantity of chocolate, and matches, which were sent to the Berks Regiment, the Oxford Light Infantry, and our sailors in the Navy. Many letters of grateful acknowledgement have been received by Mr Batty.

Crazies Hill Notes
The annual Harvest Festival Services went off very well indeed. People have most liberally in money and kind. We got over 2000 cigarettes for our soldiers, besides a good deal of useful chocolate and writing paper.

Wargrave parish magazine, October and November 1914 (D/P145/28A/31)

War is an instrument of justice which produces the highest virtues

The vicar of Wargrave had to write an open letter to his parishioners in the church magazine in order to explain some controversial sermons he had delivered in support of the war:

When I last wrote in the Magazine the clouds of war were beginning to gather over Europe, and since then have burst, with the appalling result that most of the civilised world is in a state of war, and it seems as if those few countries living in peace must soon draw the sword on one side or the other.

I feel that my personal views on war are at variance with those of many who write and speak of war as something contrary to the Will of God, and necessarily evil. It seems to me that war is very definitely an instrument of justice amongst nations, and that a ‘peace at any price’ policy would be far more likely to hinder the coming of the Kingdom of God than to help it. I cannot help thinking, too, that there is much hypocrisy in the way in which we speak of the battlefield as if it was a perfect carnival of evil.
Probably more sin is committed in one night in one of our large cities than you would find on all the great battlefields in the world’s history. I rather take the opposite view that the battlefield produces virtues of the highest kind.

I put these suggestions forward in rather a crude form, and necessarily expressed very briefly as some have asked me about certain points raised by my sermons on the subject, and I think my standpoint was rather misunderstood. No one desires or prays for peace more fervently than I do, but I am convinced that in the present case there can be no real abiding peace except through the arbitrament of war.

Yours very faithfully,
B. Staunton Batty.

The magazine also reported less contentious matters relating to the war

Wargrave at The Front
The Vicar has been compiling a list of men from Wargrave who have answered their country’s call in her hour of need and danger. It will be published shortly under the heading “Wargrave’s Roll of Honour”. The number of names upon the list is 47 at present, and there are one or two more to be added.

More men are wanted especially between the ages of 19 and 30. Such an opportunity of playing the man in service of King and Country may never present itself again to this generation, and only the most urgent necessary reasons should keep any man at home from this crisis. The present campaign is the greatest the world has ever seen and to help in the victory will indeed be a glorious recollection to carry through life.

Hare Hatch Notes
The discipline of the war is having a marvellous effect upon our people, in that it is developing in them a sense of the seriousness of life. It is a fine purpose which has been awakened in our people, we have now the opportunity of a lifetime. The call to our young men to join the Army ought not to be neglected, the nation requires them if only for home defence, every young man should see to it now, ere it be too late, to do something in answer to this call. But there is a definite call, a higher call, which everyone must respond to, the call to prayer and mutual helpfulness. We urge upon all classes in our midst the necessity of prayer, simple and self-denying living. There will be much loss and suffering to be borne. None of us will (or want to) escape. We must bear our part in helping one another. Already evidence of this is forthcoming. Let there be no panic, no exaggeration, no selfish seeking of our own. Let us make sure we see God’s hand and hear His voice…

The Mission Church will be open daily from 10 to 1pm for any who care to use it for private devotion and meditation whilst the war lasts. Every Wednesday and Friday Litany will be said at 12, suitably adapted for present needs. Intercession Services, Wednesday and Friday at 6pm. We strongly urge our men-folk to come to the intercession services, as they leave off work. Let our worship and prayers follow those who are fighting for our national honour and security.

Crazies Hill Notes
In order to meet and to encourage a widespread desire among our people to pray for their country in this time of war and anxiety we have arranged the following Services of Intercession. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 8.30am and 7.0pm, Wednesday 8.30 and 3.0, Saturday 8.30. Many are using these services already. WE now invite all others to do so, firmly believing that such intercession is not only comfort to those who pray, but have also effects in more distant directions than we can see or even imagine.

In this time of war we must not neglect or forget our other claims. This is addressed specially to the holders of Missionary Boxes. Our missionary services will not be discontinued, but dates will be given them which will be announced later in church.

In connection with the Red Cross Society, Miss Cole has arranged sewing meetings in the Hall at 3.30 on Wednesday afternoons. All workers are invited. We are sure that no one will refuse to respond to the appeal to contribute a little time and trouble to providing small comforts for our gallant soldiers and sailors…

We congratulate Crazies Hill on its efforts to contribute to the various relief funds. We were able to send £5. 4s. 10d., to the Prince of Wales’ Fund, and £1. 16s. 3d, to the Belgians’ Relief.

Wargrave parish church magazine, September 1914 (D/P145/28A/31)