“This sense of freedom, this new opportunity, this cleaner world, has been purchased for us at the cost of life”

Jerusalem was sung at the dedication of the war memorial in Maidenhead Congregational (now United Reformed) Church.

November 1919
THE WAR MEMORIAL.

On Sunday evening, Nov. 2nd, a Special Service will be held at 6.30 in grateful and reverent memory of our young men who gave their lives in the Great War. The tablet will be unveiled by Mr. Lewis, who will also preach a sermon suitable to the occasion. We hope to see present every member of the Church and Congregation who is not unavoidably prevented.

December 1919
THE MEMORIAL BRASS.

The Brass Tablet erected to the memory of our young men who fell in the Great War was formally unveiled at the Sunday Evening Service, Nov. 2nd. There was a large congregation. The Minister was supported on the rostrum by the Deacons of the Church. The anthem was, “If we believe that Jesus died and rose again,” and the choir sang as a voluntary, Parry’s setting of Blake’s inspiring verses, which declare –

“We will not cease from mental strife,
Nor shall the sword sleep in our hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England’s green and pleasant land.”

Mr. Lewis took for his text, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He said that the cause for which our young friends had laid down their lives was great and worthy, and concluded,

“Let us remember that we are those for whom lives have been laid down. This sense of freedom, this new opportunity, this cleaner world, has been purchased for us at the cost of life. That we might live our lives safely, without being tyrannized over by coarse and godless men, free to develop our own life in the way that seems highest to us, men have suffered and died. Now all life must be more sacred to us. This dear England must be more sacred. It is because Christ has been denied the right to control the life of the nations that the great sorrows yet will come (for there are evils infinitely greater than war and death), if we will not strive to set right the life of the land, according to His mind and will. We don’t belong to ourselves any more, for Christ bought us long ago, and we have been bought again by British soldiers for the service of our brother men. May we be worthy of all that has been done for us.”

The brass is a splendid piece of workmanship, and has been greatly admired. It was executed by a London firm, to the order of Mr Hews.


Maidenhead Congregational magazine, November and December 1919 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Another opportunity of setting foot on English soil

A soldier celebrated Empire Day with his wedding to an old friend.

MARRIAGE

On Saturday, May 24th, two of our old Sunday Scholars were married in our Church by the Pastor. We refer to Mr R B (“Dick”) Wilkins and Miss Rosina Blake. The bridegroom has been for some years away from Tilehurst, having been in residence in Canada, but on the outbreak of war he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and in the course of his career as a soldier he gained another opportunity of setting foot on English soil.

By a curious coincidence it was “Empire Day” when he enlisted, “Empire Day” again when he first crossed to France, and yet again “Empire Day” when he entered upon married life. The wedding was quite a simple ceremony, marked by earnestness and sincerity, and the large congregation was ample evidence to the young couple of the good wishes which they were receiving from many friends.

We trust that the demands of military service will soon cease in Mr Wilkins’s case, and that he and his wife will be able to settle happily in their far off home across the seas. They know we all wish them the very best…

Tilehurst section of Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, July 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Our sympathy goes out to the relatives and friends of these brave men

Many Reading families were affected by the war.

Notes from the Vicar
Intercessions list

Sick and Wounded: Lieut. Kibbly, Private Ernest James Wise.

Departed: Sergt. B Stevens, George Dix, Lieut, John Maurice, Lieut. Frederick Leslie Hedgcock, Private Horace William Tull. R.I.P.

Prisoner of War: Pte. R. Blake.

Our sympathy goes out to the relatives and friends of these brave men.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P96/28A/35)

We are nothing better than worms – but mustn’t grumble!

Sunday 4 April 1915 was Easter Day. The parishioners of Reading St John (now the Polish Catholic Church) had sent Easter greetings to their young men at the Front. It resulted in a number of letters from the recipients describing their experiences.

Letters from the Front: replies to our Easter letters and cards.

Cards similar to those recently seen on the Church notice boards were sent with covering letters for Easter to some fifty men at the front at the request of their relatives. The following are extracts from some of the replies received by the Vicar:-

A Terrible War.
Here is a much-needed reminder of the seriousness of our task:
‘Two of my men I laid to rest yesterday, just put their heads too far over the parapet; of course killed instantly. It is a terrible business and we are nothing better than worms, dug in and stop there, but hope that happier times are in store and very soon. We all hope and pray for it every day. I don’t think the people at home quite realise what a gigantic task we have; but we mustn’t grumble, but do it.’- GILES AYRES.

Valued Cards.
‘I wish to thank you very much for the good thoughts and wishes of yourself and everyone who remembered us on Easter Day. Thank you very much for the card. I am sending it home to-day so that I shall not lose it.’- A. L. BLAKE.

‘The card you sent me I have hung on to the wall and it shall go where I go. I shall always remember Good Friday, the day I received it.’- D. CAMPBELL.

Neuve Chapelle.
Speaking of the welcome letter just received, the writer adds: ‘Just lately we have been engaged in a big battle at Neuve Chapelle, and it was something awful and also a terrible loss on the German side.’- L.H. CROOK. (more…)

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)

Soldiers and sailors from Earley

The roll of honour of Earley parish was quite an impressive one even this early in the war.

The following are the names of the sailors and soldiers on the roll of this parish. A note of interrogation signifies that the name of the regiment or ship has not been furnished us.

On Active Service

Albert Ernest Allnutt HMS Iron Duke
Arthur Sidney Allnutt
James Allen Royal Berks. Regiment
Ernest Brown Ryl Oxfordshire Regt.
Edward Brown HMS Weymouth
George Bond Royal Berks. Regiment
Cecil Caulfield Royal Scottish Rifles
Herbert Collier Ryl Oxfordshire Regt.
Alfred Eyres Royal Berks. Regiment
Edward Fisher Grenadier Guards
Thomas Fullbrook HMS Blake
Stephen Gibbons ?
Alfred Gibbings Royal Navy
Sydney George Gough HMS Glasgow
Charles Samuel Gough HMS Larne
William Golding Royal Field Artillery
William Grace Life Guards
Edgar Robert Gunningham HMS Amphitrite
Ernest Holton (Surgeon) HMS Goliath
James Hussey Royal Berks. Regiment
Percy Walter Hewett HMS Fearless
Ernest Albert King Rifle Brigade
William James Kinchin Royal Berks. Regiment
Leonard Love Royal Horse Artillery
William Walter Love HMS Venerable
Thomas Pilkington Norris Royal Engineers
Edward Parvin HMS Tiger
William Henry Pomeroy HMS Magnificent
William Poffley Grenadier Guards
Ralph Pusey Grenadier Guards
Albert Povey Royal Berks. Regiment
Edward Price Royal Berks. Regiment
George William Rixon HMS Euryalus
Francis Harry Stevens HMS Euryalus
William Davis Stevens Ryl. Warwickshire Regt.
Lieut. Robert Sturgess HMS Exmouth
Lieut. Austin Charlewood Turner Connaught Rangers (P.O.W)
Joseph Tull Rifle Brigade
Harry Wise Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders (wounded)
Charles Henry White Royal Berks. Regiment
Frederick Charles Edwards HMS Bramble on service in
China
(more…)