Slight consolation in proud grief

A war memorial was unveiled in Ascot.

November 21st made up for two previous disappointments, and the presence of the Diocesan Bishop amongst us for his first visit to South Ascot gave additional pleasure to some old friends. He expressed his admiration more than once for our beautiful church… For the latest addition to our prized possessions – the Churchyard Crucifix erected by the relations of those from All Souls’ who gave their lives in the great war – he expressed his delight and cordial approval.

A full and visibly impressed congregation assembled for the Dedication, and the service had a pathos and dignity which will not readily be forgotten. The music was mainly composed for the occasion by Mr D Clarke, and much of the well-timed conduct of the service was due to his careful training of the choir. The memorial represents in England the last resting place of our dear lads whose bodies lie, known or unknown, in France or elsewhere. As such it will command at least the same reverence as is claimed for the Cenotaph in Whitehall. But our Cenotaph here has another and more cogent reason for reverence. It is crowned by the Symbol of the World’s Greatest Sacrifice. We have dared to place That there because we believe that there is some parallel, however distant, between the Son of God’s Redeeming Sacrifice and the sacrifice made by our men. “In that Broken Body,” as the Bishop said in his address, “there is a likeness to which any human sacrifice of life willingly made does approximate”. It is quite true that no such claim would ever be advanced by our heroes, and it might be equally true that such a thought did never occur to them. But it is as we meditate over their accepted offering that we trace reverently a parallel which makes nothing less than the Crucifix an adequate memorial.

But the memorial has a value apart from its immediate purpose. It is a silent witness to the passer-by of his one hope of salvation. “In Cruce Salus” (in the Cross lies our safety) is a truth which all men need to recollect, and here in South Ascot its truth is driven home by the presence of the Figure which gives to the cross its meaning and its power. And the passer-by will make his act of thankfulness not merely to the memory of valiant hearts which bled for England, but to the Redeemer Who died for him. Surely it will preach many a sermon to those whom sermons do not reach, and keep them in mind how much they need the Redeemer’s Sacrifice.

And the observer will notice that it is no figure of a Dead Christ which hangs there. It is Christ hanging from the Tree. The Sacred Eyes are resting in tender sympathy upon the tomb beneath. He watches over their emblematical resting place. Under His protection they rest in peace with the promise of His presence to give them refreshment in Paradise. And not to them only, but also to all who sleep or shall sleep in our graveyard under the shadow of the great Christ, is this sense of guardianship given…

The Figure of the Christ has been carved out of oak known to be 150 years old, and the colour is natural. The carver, Mr Peacock, was sent a copy of the war picture the “Great Sacrifice” for his model. He has faithfully reproduced the effect which was wished, and as a work of art it leaves nothing to be desired. The lettering was carried out by Mr Bannister and is well executed. The masonry is solid and carefully laid. Messrs Bowman’s workmen took obvious interest in the work. For the Service itself it is difficult to single out individuals for our thanks, for all deserve them. From churchwardens to the smallest choir boy, all endtered into the spirit of the day. A special word of thanks is however due to Mr Jenkins, not merely for his help given on the day, but for help during the difficult erection of the Cross, and also to Mrs Browning for her work, constantly undone, in getting the church ready, and to Mrs Keating for her gift of the flowers used for the altars.

All who care for All Souls must feel profoundly grateful to the donors of the Crucifix. It cannot but strengthen the bonds which bind us to our beautiful church. The Mourners too must have felt the deep sympathy which prevailed for them in their proud grief. Perhaps it may have been some slight consolation…

South Ascot Parochial magazine, December 1919 (D/P186/28A/19)

A prisoner in Germany since last March

Dec 9

Visit of Nathaniel Browning – an old boy who has been a prisoner in Germany since last March and arrived in England yesterday.

St Mary’s CE School, Speenhamland (C/EL119/3)

Intercessions list: Reading St Giles

Reading churchgoers were asked to pray for their men.


Intercessions List

Sick and wounded: Kenneth Baines, Private Edwin Ritchie.

Missing: Alfred Henry Douglas. Harold Willoughby, Privates George May, Harry Kirkby, and Pavey.

Prisoners: The Rev. H.A. Smith-Masters, C.F. Lieut Cuthbert J.W. Trendall, Private Ernest Rogers.

R.I.P.: Driver Walter Browning, Corporal Frederick Browning, Captain Noel Thornton, Privates Ware, Connell and Dowler, Lieut. Mervyn Trendell.

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

The horror of Kitchener’s end

A friend of Ralph’s found Lord Kitchener’s death by drowning too horrible to think about, and took refuge in poetry.

Brocket Hall
Hatfield

June 18th, 1916

Dearest Ralph

Any day that you can dine & sleep, just wire me in the morning that you are coming. We shall be delighted to see you.

How you must hate this cold.

Have you read Browning’s “Prospice” – it is just Kitchener’s death. I daresay I am foolish – but I cut the horror of Kitchener’s end out of my mind – I feel sure he freed it to be the brave man he was, but it must have been terrible, for there was time to realise it.

Much love, & do come.

Yours ever
Evan

Leter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/39)

Knitting for the troops

By December the schoolchildren of Thatcham (at least, the girls) were busy knitting warm clothing for the troops as winter approached, as the parish magazine reports:

The National School Children’s Work for Soldiers
The children’s hands have been very busy making useful articles for our soldiers at the front, under the direction of their teachers, during their spare time. Socks and belts have been knitted by Edith Absolom, May Arnold, Beatrice Aldridge, Bessie Broughton, Nellie Browning, Edith Goodman, Elizabeth Herbert, Jeannie Hacker, May Lyford, Emily Schubert; and scarves by Hilda Hazell and Alice Maynard. Mrs Turner, of the “Crown,” kindly gave wool for one pair of socks, and the rest of the materials was most kindly provided by Mrs Glastonbury, Head Mistress, Miss Reynolds, and Miss Boulter, her assistants. The parcel containing a number of these articles was recently forwarded to the Lady-in-waiting to the Queen, and the following letter of thanks was received in reply:-

Devonshire House, Piccadilly.

“The Lady-in-waiting is commanded by the Queen to thank the teachers and children of the Thatcham School most heartily for their very kind gift of comforts for the use of the troops at the front. Her Majesty highly appreciates this contribution.”

We may be quite sure that the soldiers’ need of such useful articles as these will be very great during the coming winter months, and that they will be extremely grateful to all kind workers who give their skill, their time, and materials to provide them. Moreover, we must not wait until the want of them is seriously felt, for then it will be too late to set about providing them.

Thatcham parish magazine, December 1914 (D/P130/28A/1)