“It is not only the world of nature that is pulsing with the promise of new life, we are all hoping to see a better world after the terrible days of war”

The vicar of Wargrave had a postwar Easter message.

Lent

Easter comes late this year and “Lent”, which means “Spring” should be full of the promise of its name. But it is not only the world of nature that is pulsing with the promise of new life, we are all hoping to see a better world after the terrible days of war. So our thoughts turn to the Terms of Peace and we pray for the statesmen concerned that they may be filled with the Spirit of wisdom and counsel.

We could not find a better subject for Lenten thought, prayer and effort than the Terms of Peace.

When we think of the Paris Conference we pray for such a Peace as may advance the Kingdom of God. We know that God rules over the affairs of men and is working His purpose out through human history. The policy of nations may be so directed as to obstruct His purpose. When this is so we learn from history that man may obstruct but cannot frustrate God’s will. God overrules the stubborn policy of Pharraoh and with a mighty hand He brings His people out. But it is also true that the policy of nations may be harmonious with the will of God. It is so when the endeavour is to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke. “Happy is that people; that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people whose God is the Lord.”

When we think of Industrial Peace in our own country we know the terms upon which it can be secured, they are to be found within the circle of family life, where they are reorganised as being ordained of God. For by one Spirit are we all baptised into one body. And whether one member suffer all members suffer with it; or one member be honoured; all members rejoice with it. “Let nothing be done through strife of vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love.”

When we think of inward troubles, each one of the plague of his own heart, we know Who has made Peace through the blood of His cross. The terms are open to us without money and without price. “Come now, let us reason together, such the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” “Repent and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so injury shall not be your ruin.”

“Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”.

The Book of Revelation has a special message for such times as we have passed through during the last four years but it is not easy to understand. Perhaps there are some people who will like to make it a subject of special reading during Lent.

Wargrave parish magazine, March 1919 (D/P145/28A/31)

Advertisements

“Every one of us has volunteered to go as an Army Chaplain”

The need for army chaplains was rising.

RECTOR’S LETTER (EXTRACT)

My Dear Friends,

As you are well aware the need of the moment is general enlistment for National Service. The Director-General treats the doctors and the clergy as special classes whose “services are required in particular directions.” The clergy have to make their offer of service through their Bishops. The Bishop of Oxford has sent a letter to his clergy in which he points out that “in the case of the clergy our national service is primarily that to which our ordination has pledged us.”

When the Bishop was here on the occasion of the Confirmation he informed me that there was great need of Army Chaplains, for though many clergy had volunteered, not all were considered suitable for the work. He also told me that he wanted one at least of the clergy working in this parish for service elsewhere. I am glad to say that every one of us has volunteered to go as an Army Chaplain or in fact do whatever the Bishop Requires. I have sent him our “forms of offer,” and he is going to select whichever of us he thinks is most suitable for the desired work and can be best spared from the parish.

I wish, however, to point out that since the war began we have been one short of the proper number of clergy for this parish, and Mr. Neison in consequence has been doing double work at S. John’s. When our staff is reduced still further it will be impossible to continue the number of services which have been somewhat lavishly provided in this parish, but if the laity have to an extra half mile to Church or get up somewhat earlier I hope they will do so cheerfully.

Pharaoh tried to make the Israelites supply an undiminished “tale of bricks,” after he had cut off the necessary provision of straw, but the final result was disastrous for Pharaoh, and I intend to profit from his example.

I regret to say that I omitted last month to include among the Honours won by Caversham men, the military cross bestowed upon the Rev. W.M. Austin for the part he played in helping to defeat the Prussian guard at the Thiepval on August last. Mr. Austin has now risen to the rank of acting Major in the 1st Wiltshire Regt., and has written to his mother expressing the grateful thanks of the men of his regiment for the socks (70 pairs), cigarettes and tobacco so kindly forwarded by friends.

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

The Great War is certainly a fearful example of how men may obstruct God’s purpose – but He will bring good out of evil

The Wargrave parish magazine explained the upcoming National Mission as a response to the war.

The National Mission

The Ven. the Archdeacon of Berkshire has most kindly consented to come to Wargrave in the late Autumn as our Missioner. All who know him or who heard him preach in the restored Church, on Sunday, July 23rd, will certainly feel very happy and grateful to read this announcement, and we may indeed count ourselves most fortunate.

The Vicar has known Archdeacon Ducat for many years now, he has been somewhat intimately associated with him in Diocesan work of various kinds, he has received many kindnesses at his hands and there is no one from whom he would more gladly learn or to whom he would more happily entrust the work of the Mission in his parish.

The Archdeacon will come with the purpose of helping the Vicar and sharing his responsibility. He will work on his lines and act in the closest consultation and co-operation in everything which he undertakes in the parish.

What is the Mission:

What is the Mission? It is the bringing of a Message from God to the Nation. The Church of England feels called by God to deliver the Message. We pray to God to give us his grace that we may hear the Message alright and deliver it faithfully.

The Occasion of the Mission:

The Occasion of the Mission is the Great War. The Bible teaches us that God over-rules the affairs of men and works His purpose out through the history of nations. Man has been given free-will to refuse evil and to choose the good. Sometimes men refuse the good and chose the evil. When this is the case men obstruct and delay the working out of God’s good purpose.

Men may further God’s purpose and become fellow-workers with Him, or they may obstruct His purpose. This is a very solemn truth, but the Bible teaches us that it is so. It is true of the influence of individuals in a small circle and of nations in a wide circle.

The little maid was furthering God’s purpose when she told her mistress of the Prophet of Samaria who could recover Naaman of his leprosy. Cyrus the King was furthering God’s purpose when he and his people of Persia allowed the Jews to return to their Country.

On the other hand, the Brothers of Joseph were obstructing God’s purpose when they sold the lad into Egypt. And Pharaoh was obstructing God’s purpose when he and the Egyptians refused to let the people go.

Men and Nations may sinfully obstruct God’s purpose, but of course they cannot frustrate God’s purpose. He over-rules their sinful obstruction and brings good out of evil. So Joseph in Egypt was a means of saving many lives from famine: Amd Pharaoh stands now as a terrible example of the failure of those who set themselves against God’s Will.

A Mission of Repentance:

It is a Mission of Repentance. The Great War is certainly a fearful example of how men may obstruct God’s purpose and set themselves against the advance of His Kingdom. Selfishness, Godlessness, and the teaching that Might is Right have during the past years become a constantly growing influence in Europe. These and other evil influences have now reached their climax and borne fruit in the War.

We believe that we are fighting in a righteous cause and that it was God’s Will for us as a nation to draw the sword, as truly it is God’s Will for each lad to enlist for King and Country.

But out nation has not been innocent of sin, we have had our share of selfishness, the pursuit of wealth, and the heedlessness of God which are at the root of this War.

Repentence must therefore have the first place in this Message of God to the Nation, when we desite to further His purpose by the Service of Arms. The purpose of God is the Brotherhood of Man in Christ: The War is an offence against Brotherhood. The purpose of God is the happy development of family and nation in ever closer relationship up-growing to the consummation of the Kingdom of Christ: The War has set back the development of nations. It has uprooted countless homes in Europe and it has called men away from new lands, where they were furthering the purpose of God in building up new nations to do Him service. Here then is a National call to Repentence.

A Mission of Hope:

It is a Mission of Hope. Our confession of penitence means that we desire to do God’s Will. There is Hope. God can bring good out of evil, and in that beneficent work we as a nation desire to serve. In absolute self surrender we pray that we and our allies may be fellow workers of God. In that spirit we can be sure of victory and the darkest battlefield is illuminated with Hope.

The War is a colossal evidence of the power and cruelty of sin. But already the rainbow of God’s mercy shines far over it, and we see that God is working His purpose out in spite of man’s sinful obstructions. The men of the new lands have left township and village which need their strength, but they have brought a fuller brotherhood to the old country. Blood has been shed like water, but the nobility of sacrifice will extend the message of the Cross.

The Message of the Church to the Nation is to call to repentance for sin, which must ever obstruct the purpose of God, but it is a message of Hope to all who will hear the call and rise to be fellow workers with God in absolute self-surrender to do His Will.

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

A record of which Burghfield might be proud

The war’s anniversary was commemorated on the 5th of August in Burghfield. It was an opportunity to take stock of the impact of the war locally.

THE SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF THE DECLARATION OF WAR

On Saturday, 5th August, at the Handicraft Room, Mrs Bland’s School, a well-attended meeting was held to commemorate this anniversary. Sir Wyndham Murray, as chairman, opened the proceedings with a few patriotic remarks which were heartily received; and was succeeded by Brigadier General F. Bridgeman of Beech Hill, late Scots Guards, and formerly member for Bradford, who, in an excellent speech, drew a striking contrast between the great Duke of Wellington and our foe the Kaiser. The well-known inscription on the Duke’s monument at Strathfieldsaye [sic] records that “he was honoured abroad for in all the might of conquest he was always just, considerate, and humane” and “he was beloved at home because he had great power, and ever used it well”. Such a record could never truly be written of the Kaiser. In concluding he quoted the message given to Joshua when he became commander-in-chief of the army of Israel, “Have not I commanded thee, be strong and very courageous, be not afraid neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee wheresoever thou goest”. He moved the following resolution, “That this meeting of the parishioners of Burghfield expresses its inflexible determination to continue the struggle to a victorious end”.

Colonel A. Welby, late Scots Greys, Secretary of the Patriotic Fund, and formerly member for Taunton (who said that he remembered camping on Burghfield Common in 1872 at autumn manoeuvres), seconded. He gave a stirring account of the performances of our Army and Navy, and spoke hopefully of the war.

The resolution having been put, and carried unanimously, Mr Willink, in proposing a vote of thanks to the chairman and speakers, which was played by the parish in relation to the war, and particularly to the 240 names upon the Roll of Honour. These names were nearly all names of persons residing in Burghfield at the time of enrolment (not counting those rejected as medically unfit); some however were names of men who, though they had left the parish, had been born and bred in it, and were fairly entitled to be included. It was a record of which Burghfield might be proud. (Mr Willink hopes that parishioners will study from time to time the Roll of Honour, now hanging in the church porch, and will tell him of any omissions, or misdescriptions, or alterations, which ought to be attended to.) Mr Lousley, seconding, paid a warm tribute to the services of women in Burghfield, both on the land and in war work of various kinds. Nor were the Scouts forgotten, nor the 600 hospital appliances made on that very room, nor the eggs and vegetables sent to the hospitals in abundance.

The proceedings ended with the singing of the National Anthem. The resolution has been duly sent to the Committee for Patriotic Organisations, to be added to the numerous identical resolutions passed more or less simultaneously at similar meetings throughout the country.


Burghfield parish magazine, October 1916 (D/EX725/3)

“God and Right” is the fighting motto of our sailors and soldiers

The vicar of Winkfield had some stirring words for parishioners, who had sent Christmas gifts to men at the front.

THE VICAR’S LETTER.

MY DEAR FRIENDS.

You will have already received my letter about the Day of National Intercession on January 2nd, and I sincerely hope that there will be very few this year who will have the reproach of neglecting to respond to this piece of duty to their country, the joining and offering of humble homage to Almighty God in humble recognition of our National reliance upon His overruling Hand.

We long for peace and pray it may come this year, but we believe with our whole souls that we are fighting for God and Right, and it is this that has nerved so many thousands to answer their country’s call as clear call from God, and to offer their young lives willingly, cheerfully and gladly until a just and lasting peace can be secured.
And this brings the thought, has my response to the call of God and His Church to serve in His Army against all the forces of evil, been like that? Ought not our Christian soldiering to be far more real and earnest? If “God and Right” be the fighting motto of our sailors and soldiers, shall it not also be a New Year’s motto for all of us who are pledged to serve in the Army of God. May it be yours and mine in this New Year.

Your sincere Friend and Vicar,

H. M. MAYNARD.

PARISH NOTES

The Christmas presents to our men were sent off in good time and already Mrs. Maynard has received several grateful letters with warm expressions of thanks to all kind friends in Winkfield who helped, and this proof that they were not forgotten be those at home is what seems to have been especially appreciated by the men.

Seventy-seven parcels were sent, practically all of which contained some articles of warm clothing, besides cigarettes, pipes, tobacco, chocolate, biscuits, &c., and a pocket testament and tiny prayer book.

Winkfield section of Winkfield District Monthly Magazine, January 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/1)

Patriotism is not enough

The Maidenhead parish magazine included various inspiring stories arising from the war, some well known today like that of Edith Cavell, other less so.

Sons of the Clergy.

All classes of the community have vied with each other in manifesting courageous self-sacrifice in the nation’s hour of need. But without drawing undue distinctions it is generally admitted that the sons of the clergy have been conspicuous in the Roll of Honour throughout the War. Week after week the long list of names appearing in the Church newspapers bear eloquent testimony to this fact. The work of the clergy in ministering to those left behind in a variety of ways has been of the greatest value.

“How Can I Help England – Say?”

Miss Helena L. Powell, the Principal of St. Mary’s College, Lancaster Gate, has written an earnest and helpful leaflet for children, showing how children can help in the War. It is addressed to the elder children in our Day and Sunday Schools, and copies required for distribution to these may be had free of charge from Miss Edith Neville, Banstead Place, Banstead, Surrey.

A Daughter of the Parsonage.

Edith Cavell, Directrice d’Ecole des Infirmières, Brussels, who was shot by order of Court-Martial in Brussels on a charge of aiding the escape over the frontier of British, French and Belgian soldiers, was the daughter of the late Rev. Frederick Cavell, Vicar of Swardeston, Norfolk. She was formerly a nurse in the London Hospital. In 1907 she went to Brussels, and when the Germans entered the city she refused to leave.

The Rev H. S. Gahan, British Chaplain at Brussels, has given a touching account of her last hours.

“She said, ‘I have no fear nor shrinking. I have seen death so often that it is not strange or fearful to me.’ She further said, ‘I thank God for this ten weeks’ quiet before the end. Life has always been hurried and full of difficulty. This time of rest has been a great mercy. They have all been very kind to me here. But this I would say, standing as I do in view of God and Eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.’

We partook of Holy Communion together, and she received the Gospel message of consolation with all her heart. At the close of the little service I began to repeat the words ‘Abide with Me,’ and she joined softly in the end. We sat quietly talking until it was time for me to go. She gave me parting messages for relations and friends. She spoke of her soul’s needs at the moment, and she received the assurance of God’s Words as only the Christian can do.”

(more…)

“We will keep the Home fires burning and the Church bells ringing till our lads come home”

The vicar of Winkfield drew parishioners’ attention to the spiritual needs of men at the front.

THE VICAR’S LETTER

MY DEAR FRIENDS,

I think most of us know that we are sending to all the men from our parish now serving in the Army or Navy, Christmas greetings accompanied by a present, to let them know that whilst they are spending Christmas far away they are not forgotten by those at home. Each man will receive with is present a Christmas card with the words “We will keep the Home fires burning and the Church bells ringing till our lads come home,” and also the message, which I ask you to specially note “We are praying for you at our Christmas Communion.” Those of us who have relations at the front will hardly need to be invited to come to Church on Christmas Day and there, especially in Holy Communion, the Lord’s own Service, commend their dear ones to His keeping; but I trust there will be but few in the parish who will not make a point of attending Divine Service on such a solemn and unique Christmas as this will be, to remember in earnest prayer those who cannot be with us in the home circle.

I want to draw the attention of those who have relatives serving to the article on “The Little Calendar.” One of these calendars, together with a pocket Testament and Prayer Book will be sent in each Christmas parcel to our men, and I should be glad to supply any who would like one of these calendars in order to read the same passage daily and use the same prayer as a bond between themselves and their absent loved ones.

In closing let me commend to your thoughtful consideration the message from the Archbishops urging us to make the first Sunday in the New Year a special day of Intercession in connection with the War. Notices of Services will be issued later.
Your sincere Friend and Vicar,
H.M. MAYNARD

* * *

THE LITTLE CALENDAR.

The other day, when one of our Army Chaplains was home for a short furlough, he mentioned a difficulty met by men on active service who were trying to lead a Christian life. They wished to read a few verses of the Bible every day. But the various Bible Reading Unions all chose passages from all over the Bible, and a Testament was as much as they could conveniently carry. Moreover, the Prayer Book Calendar Lessons were generally too long. So there was a need for a series of Short Readings, confined to the New Testament.

This want THE LITTLE CALENDAR is intended to meet. On Sundays and Holydays the Reading is usually from the Epistle or Gospel. On other days the Readings are for several days nearly consecutive, and month by month they illustrate some aspect of Christian Calling.

Much Bible Reading is of little profit, because the pith and marrow of it is not gathered up into prayer; and much prayer is stale and unhelpful because it has no fresh inspiration behind it. So a reference to some suitable Prayer Book prayer follows each reading. In this way the reading can be made more practical, and some of the wealth of devotional material in the Prayer Book can be illuminated by the lamp of God’s Word.

It is suggested also that THE LITTLE CALENDAR may serve as a bond between the absent. If soldiers and sailors on active service knew that their friends at home were daily reading the same passage and using the same prayer, it would make the Communion of Saints a more real and stronger thing, and as THE LITTLE CALENDAR, though specially prepared for soldiers and sailors, has nothing in it that is not adapted for general use, it is hoped that other people may like to use it, and be glad to think of those who are using it too.

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

Khaki testaments

People in Hare Hatch were interested to hear that the Bible Society was supplying Bibles to soldiers from the colonies, our allies, and even captured enemy soldiers.

Hare Hatch Notes

A Most interesting Lantern Lecture was given on Wednesday, December 1st, at 6.30 p.m., by the Rev. E. W. G. Hudgell, Diocesan Secretary for the British and Foreign Bible Society. The lecturer, after having introduced us to the Society’s Headquarters in London, gave a vivid description of the noble work done among the brave soldiers and sailors of our Empire. He next told us how the Bible is translated into the various languages of our Allies, thus bringing them under the influence of the Society’s good work. We also learnt that even our enemies, so far as it is possible, are supplied with the little ‘Khaki Testament’ printed in their own language. It is interesting to note that wherever a missionary goes the work of the British and Foreign Bible Society follows him.

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

‘Abide with me’ sung by a large number of men in a cave, with the shells rattling overhead.

The Maidenhead parish magazine had a number of reports relating to the religious effects of the war.

Prebendary Carlile at the Front.

Prebendary Carlile, who has recently returned from a visit to France, where his special mission was to inspect the work of the Church Army near the Front, paid a high tribute to the devoted women who are working with the Royal Army Medical Corps and British Red Cross, and also to the clerical chauffeurs who are driving some of the Church Army ambulance cars. The tenderness and care of the wounded which they display came, he said, as a revelation to him. The same spirit of self-sacrifice for others was seen in the Church Army rest-huts and clubs. Before his return Dr. Carlile had the perhaps unique experience of standing between the Bishop of Birmingham and a Russian bishop and grasping a hand of each. This he hopes may be a symbol of the new knowledge and sympathy which has been aroused between the two countries and Churches.

The Sacrament in a “Dug-out.”

The parish magazine of St. Andrew’s, Plymouth, contains an interesting letter from the Rev. R. H. Fulford, who is acting as Chaplain to the Forces in the Dardanelles :-

“Services in the trenches,” he says, “are difficult to arrange, as we are under constant fire. Yet I have administered the Sacrament in my dug-out to as many as the place would comfortably hold, and have often spoken to men individually and in small groups in the firing-line itself, and, of course, at the fixed ambulance station. Here there is a large natural cave, and on Sunday evening it was good to hear ‘Abide with me’ sung by a large number of men, with the shells rattling overhead. We had a wonderful service in the dark just before landing on the Peninsula, and it gave us the greater courage to meet the heavy shell-fire which greeted us. Any day you may see men openly reading their New Testaments in the trenches and elsewhere, and many and earnest prayers are said from the heart. Last week I was burying a fellow, when the corporal told me that the fatigue party, of which the dead man had been one, after a heavy shelling had got under cover and gone down on their knees and thanked God for their escape. We live here upon the threshold of two worlds much more consciously than in ordinary life, and England will be the better for the return of her Army in its present spirit. Of course, there are dull and foolish ones even in the tightest corners; but, at any rate, the question of life and death has to be faced, and in most cases the religious answer carries conviction and comfort.”

Church Training Colleges and the War.

The recently issued Report of the National Society contained some striking figures with regard to the part played in the War by the Training Colleges of the Church of England. From these figures it would appear that there are some three thousand past and present students and members of the staffs of eleven Training Colleges serving with the Colours, of whom some 250 hold commissions. Even more striking, however, is the number of students who were called out on the mobilisation of the Territorial Force. These numbered over 800, and would doubles have exceeded 1,000 but for the fact that in the case of two Colleges difficulties arose when the old Volunteers were disbanded and the new Territorial Force was created.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, November 1915 (D/P181/28A/24)

This war is getting worse every day: a child’s view

Young Harold Blackall, whose father had joined the army, wrote to his aunt Phoebe in Reading with his hopes and fears.

24.10.15
Burford
Dear Aunty

You seem to be getting on well with your Guides and I think we ought to do something at home as well as the soldiers out there. I don’t think there is anything better than a Bible that I should like for Christmas but I think we ought to go without some presents this year and send the soldiers some instead. I have not heard from father since he went away, I hope he is all right, he will be quite safe I know….

I think this war is getting worse every day, but I think we shall win in the end…

Your loveing [sic] nephew
Harold

Letter from Harold Blackall to his aunt Phoebe (D/EX1485/2/7)

Services under constant fire

An army chaplain’s experiences in the Dardanelles were published in a local parish magazine.

CRANBOURNE

INTERCESSION SERVICES.

May we again remind our Parishioners that there is an Intercession Service every Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. and also every Sunday evening at Evensong. All our men are prayed for by name at each of these services and also at one of the celebrations of the Holy Communion. We hope no one forgets to pray for our Sailors and Soldiers each evening when they hear the Church bell.

WINKFIELD

Three more of our young men, 2nd Lieut. Cecil Ferard, and Privates George Faithful and Ernest Faithful, have now gone to the Front, and their names are added to the list of “those in danger at the Front” read out in Church when we have our special Intercessions on the 2nd Sunday at Evening Service and the last Sunday in the month at Morning Prayer.

Second-Lieut. Wilfred Loyd was invalided home wounded after only seven days at the Front, but we are glad to say he is now convalescent and going on well.

Lance-Corporal A. Kimble was unfortunately obliged to undergo another operation. We rejoice to hear that it was successful, the piece of shrapnel has now been removed and we hope he will soon be allowed out of hospital.

Lance-Corporal R. Nickless has been removed from the base hospital and is now in England and going well. We learn with regret that possibly he may have to undergo another operation but sincerely hope this will not be found necessary.

In the ordinary course the Mother’s Meetings at the Vicarage would recommence this Autumn, but during this time of war, it is felt that perhaps it would be more helpful to turn them into Working Parties for the benefit of our men at the front.

A small sum was raised by an entertainment got up by Miss Montgomerie last winter, and she has kindly handed this over to Mrs. Maynard to provide some materials. It will probably be arranged to give any mothers who have sons at the front, some of this material to make useful things for them at the meetings, and Mrs. Maynard would be glad to receive the names of any who would like to attend on Thursday afternoons for this purpose; and she will then let them know when the meetings commence.

THE SACRAMENT IN A “DUG-OUT.”

The parish magazine of St. Andrew’s, Plymouth, contains an interesting letter from the Rev. H. Fulford, who is acting as a Chaplain to the Forces in the Dardanelles:-

“Services in the trenches” he says “are difficult to arrange, as we are under constant fire. Yet I have administered the Sacrament in my dug-out to as many as the place would comfortably hold, and have often spoken to men individually and in small groups in the firing-line itself, and, of course, at the fixed ambulance station. Here there is a large natural cave, and on Sunday evening it was good to hear ‘Abide with me’ sung by a large number of men, with the shells rattling overhead. We had a wonderful service in the dark just before landing on the Peninsula, and it gave us the greater courage to meet the heavy shell-fire which greeted us. Any day you may see men openly reading their New Testaments in the trenches and elsewhere, and many and earnest prayers are said from the heart. Last week I was burying a fellow, when the Corporal told me that the fatigue party, of which the dead man had been one, after a heavy shelling had got under cover and gone down on their knees and thanked God for their escape. We live here upon the threshold of two worlds much more consciously than in ordinary life, and England will be the better for the return of her Army in its present spirit. Of course there are dull and foolish ones even in the tightest corners; but, at any rate, the question of life and death has to be faced, and in most cases the religious answer carries conviction and comfort.”

Winkfield District Magazine, October 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/10)

A Bible for a church’s ‘old boys’ at the Front

St John’s Church in Reading was anxious to provide spiritual sustenance for the young men it had sent off to war:

The War

We publish a further list of boys or ‘old boys’ connected with our congregations who are now in training or actually engaged in active service on behalf of the Empire. We are always glad to hear news of our boys and they are constantly remembered by us in prayer. George Townsend, Cyril Keatly, Alfred Richard Allum, Horace Arthur Church, Albert Stevens, William Ernest Charles Egan, Arthur John Robert Egan, Albert Fanstone, Ralph Shepherd, Sidney J Luker, Viney Flint, Percy Froude, William Grantham, Arthur Walters, J J Cooper, A Beckett, Walter Crane, Basil Sutton, Edmund Terry, John Edwin Hopcraft, Durward Sydney Hopcraft, James Lyons, William Lyons, – Allaway, A Blake, T J Blake, O L Stagg, W Phipps, A Phipps, Lionel Dymore-Brown, Hugh Dymore-Brown, Arthur Robotham, Arthur Richard Penson, E W Hunt, Victor Fowler, J H Cane.

The Clergy will be very glad to write to any of our lads and to enclose an attractive little copy of S. John’s gospel, which contains also hymns with their tunes and pictures, and Lord Roberts’ letter to the troops, if they are asked to do so. Will parents and friends please communicate with whichever of the clergy knew the young man, giving the full address on paper. In cases where the young man is unknown to the present staff the Vicar will be glad to write.”

Reading St John parish magazine, November 1914 (D/P172/28A/23, p. 4)

A useful book at the Front

Sydney Spencer hears from a friend at the front:

October 21st
I had a postcard from Roy Ruscoe from the Front. He is in the RFA, & was glad to accept one of the pocket testaments which I had to give away….

He says

Dear Sydney,

Am still going well. Your little Book has come in very useful indeed. Have met a fellow in our company who knows your family very well, we had a long chat about you. The weather has now completely broken, so we are looking forward to the real winter.

Hope you are all well.

Yours very sincerely,
Roy

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1914 (D/EX801/12)