“It was all very suggestive of Bethlehem, except for the noise of the guns outside”

Another army chaplain reports his experiences leading services and planning social activities very close to the front line.

5 December 1917

The following extracts are from 2 letters which Mother received lately from the Sub-Warden with the troops in France.

“This morning, I had an hour’s walk through mud & trenches, delayed by the unwelcome attention of a German aeroplane for a while, but otherwise uneventful, & at last arrived at a certain dug out. There was a steep staircase down about 20 ft, then a square flat, and then 5 or 6 more steps to the right. On the square flat I arranged a little altar. Men all up & down the stairs crouching to one side so as to leave me room to pass to communicate them, and a few outside in the trench kneeling in the mud. At the bottom, a few Non-Conformist officers were very reverent & interested… I reminded them that our Lord chose a “dug out” when He first came to earth… It was all very suggestive of Bethlehem, except for the noise of the guns outside.”

“We have discovered a large cellar beneath ruins close to the lines. There is plenty of room for a canteen, reading rooms & a chapel. The chapel is to be dedicated to St John Baptist. I wonder if the Community would furnish the altar for us; the Pioneers would make the altar… I said Mass there this morning & 60 men came & were very reverent and appreciative.”

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

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The war has brought in its train many economies over which we need waste no lamentations

The women and children of Burghfield were continuing to contribute to the war effort. The children’s collection of horse chestnuts was ready to send to be made into munitions, while the women sewed. But they were saddened that a local convalescent home had been forced to close due to the economic conditions.

Chestnuts
The centres for collection are the New Schools (Burghfield C of E) and Mrs Bland’s School. The whole will eventually be stored at the former School until sent for by the Director of Propellant Supplies, 32 Old Queen Street, London, SW1.

Holiday House
Not every village is fortunate enough to possess such an institute as Holiday House, though it is coming to be felt more and more that some such centre is needed in villages, where people may meet each other and relieve the monotony of the long dark winter evenings…

That Burghfield Common has such a place is entirely due to the generosity and public spirit of a lady who has the welfare of the Common very much at heart, Mrs Kirkwood. Founded in 1914, it has been the home and centre of varied activities: a band, Boy Scouts, dances, socials, entertainments, lectures, debates, are some of the chief, besides its nightly bill of fare of billiards, draughts, cards, etc. Not by any means the least of its activities have been the War-work Party started early in the war to make shirts and other necessary garments for the wounded, and also splints, bed trays and various other appliances. There is also a canteen, under the care of Mrs Bailey, who supplies refreshments and tobacco to all comers; but no alcoholic drinks are allowed on the premises.

St Catherine’s, Burghfield Common

The war has brought in its train many economies over which we need waste no lamentations. Other economies, however, cannot be passed over without a sigh. We allude, more particularly, to those which have lessened the power of people of moderate means to continue their contributions to charitable institutions…

It is therefore with peculiar regret that we have to record the closing of St Catherine’s. This Home was founded in 1913 by Miss Morison, and was offered by her to the Margaret Street Hospital for Consumption (Cavendish Square, W) for the benefit of girls and women in the early stages of tuberculosis….

From first to last no less than 130 patients have passed through the Home, and in the large majority of cases they have been discharged completely cured, or with the progress of the disease arrested. When we think of the wonderful air which those of the uplands of Burghfield are privileged to enjoy, it is not so very surprising to learn that the number of patients who got worse instead of better may be told on the fingers of one hand. It is a matter of grief to us all that Miss Morison has found it necessary to limit her beneficent work in the great crusade against what is so graphically called the “White Scourge” of these islands.

War Hospital Supplies
The Red Cross Working Party has re-commenced its meetings at the Rectory on Wednesday afternoons at 2.30. Mrs George will be glad to have some new members as the War Hospitals Supply Depot in Reading is urgently appealing for more comforts for our soldiers and sailors, ad we are anxious to send as much work as possible from Burghfield.

Burghfield parish magazine, November 1917 (D/EX725/4)

Do the German hear our starlight singing in their distant trenches?

There was much news of soldiers from Maidenhead Congregational Church.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to be able to report that Reginald Hill is so far improving, that he has been able to sit up a little each day. Thomas S. Russell has been called up, and is in training with the Motor Transport Section of the A.S.C. G.C. Frampton after about two hours drill was considered advanced enough for foreign service, and left England for France on May 18th. He is gone into Military Canteen work.

An interesting letter has come to hand from Sidney Eastman, which may justly be described as lengthy, for it is written upon a piece of paper some seven or eight feet long, and covers both sides. It is mostly occupied with a description of his travels and of the sights he has seen, and we are glad to gather that he is in good health and spirits.

G.C. Frampton has been unpatriotic enough to take German measles, and is in Hospital at Etaples. We hope to learn very shortly that he is quite well again.

Alfred Vardy, after a severe bout of pneumonia, caught on his way to the Front in France, is now at a Convalescent Camp in Thetford, gaining strength before returning to duty.

Wilfrid Collins is in hospital at Reading, suffering from heart weakness following upon a severe attack of “Trench fever.”

Reginald Hill has been out of bed for an hour, and is going on satisfactorily, though slowly.

Cyril Hews had a somewhat narrow escape recently. He was out with his motor-bicycle upon a French road during a thunderstorm, when the lightning struck a tree by the road-side, and a large branch fell upon the handlebars of the machine, providentially leaving the rider untouched.

Alfred Lane, after more than a year’s training in the Home Counties’ Engineers at Maidenhead, has been sent over with a draft to France.

Harry Baldwin, having attained the age of 18, and being called up, has elected to enter the Navy, and will probably enter a Training School.

One of our young men, who took an active part in the Messines victory, writes:

“Rather a good sight yesterday. I attended with my men a very large open-air drum-head Church Parade Service, as a sort of Thanksgiving Service for our recent great victory. A large number of Welshmen were present, and it really was great to hear these fellows sing “Aberystwith” and “St. Mary,” accompanied by a band.”

The papers, by the way, have been recently telling us that in all the Welsh regiments there are “glee parties,” who sing under the stars, until the Germans must hear and perhaps wonder, in their more or less distant trenches.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, June 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

The dugout canteen does a roaring trade

The Revd T Guy Rogers was now running a canteen for soldiers in a dugout as well as continuing his religious work.

April 10th

The canteen is successfully opened, and is doing a roaring trade. We started at 5 p.m. on Saturday (just after the men had been paid), and sold 200 frs. worth in a couple of hours… you should have seen the crowd trying to get into the very small quarters. I tried to give them a start by helping to sell behind the counter, but I soon get hopelessly muddled trying to calculate how much chocolate I should sell for 90 centimetres at 15 centimetres a bar! My arithmetic was never strong – I found a R.A.M.C sergeant, whose father had been a shopkeeper, and put him on it while I sat by aghast at the speed with which he calculated to the uttermost farthing. We have now got three men told off to the job, one of whom is quite good and understands shop-dressing. He has made the stacks of tinned fruits look so fetching, you cannot choose but buy.

The place itself is just a dug-out made of sand bags under the ramparts. We have pinched an old door and are getting a lock and key by the less interesting method of purchase! There is a great demand for candles. Soap, too, comes high in the list of articles which ‘Tommy’ feels the need of…

I never found it so easy to make my Sunday arrangements. This is because I have a comparatively small area to cover. On the other hand the Sundays are tiring for we have to take a great number of small Services. The work is quite fascinating though, and the deeper one gets – how shall I put it? into the perils of the firing line, the more the men seem to want what one has to give them…

I had a series of short Services in the morning from 9-12.30, celebrating three times – once in the bowels of the earth, once in a cellar. In the last place I had 18 Communicants crammed into a very small space. I had to disperse with kneeling, except at the actual partaking… Then in the afternoon three more services, 3, 4, and 6 p.m. Then some funerals. I do not finish till about 9.30.

Reading St. John parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

Glad to be brought together for fellowship and prayer prior to the trenches

More from chaplain T Guy Rogers:

April 6th

I am writing at Headquarters… going out to bury at 8 p.m. Then back here to sleep for a few hours, and out again to visit at 3.30 a.m…. Yesterday I took in two sections – and had such touching Services for them – one deep under the ramparts, another in a cellar. They will be in the trenches and were glad to be brought together for fellowship and prayer…

I am busy now getting a canteen started where the men can get coffee, tea, chocolate, cigarettes, bread, tinned stuffs. The General is keen on it, and we are constructing a shed in the safest place we can.

Reading St. John parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

A fine body of young women

The Revd E C Glyn, Bishop and Peterborough, and his wife Lady Mary both wrote to their soldier son Ralph. The Bishop was anxious that his letters were not reaching Ralph:

The Palace
Peterborough
15 March [1916]

My darling Ralph

Thanks for your letters – & your news – but we long to hear what & where your next move will be.

I have written by each “bag” every week, & I can’t understand if & why you have not had a letter from me each time! Unless it is that Captain Kellet does send every letter as well as General Callwell used to do! I wonder what is to be done with General Callwell & if he will want to get you for his work somewhere?…

Lady Mary was busy with her own war work, not to mention a feud with a rival Red Cross branch.

March 15, 1916
The Palace
Peterborough

My own darling and blessing

This has been a bad week for me and there has been nothing but futile fuss, perhaps – but fuss! And I have had no leisure. Meg went to London on Thursday, and was away one night in London, and all Friday I was at the Rest Room seeing to Canteen worries…

I went to see Colonel Collingwood who has seen your reappointment as GSO General Staff vice [under] Captain Loyd, & he was much excited and wanted to know what it meant. I could only say I supposed some redistribution of work at the end of your previous work of all this winter. But it set me thinking and this week with the news of Verdun always in one’s head, with the rumours always in every paper of German naval activity, and of the mines everywhere, one knows that one needs to have a stout heart for a stae brae….
The Rest Room is crowded out some days with the troops moving about, and we had over 1100 last month. We have a splendid hand of workers night and day.

Any my Red Cross Room is such a joy – it was quite full last night and I have enough money to go on, but must soon get more; the material is very expensive, & the County Association (now definitely under Sir Edward Ward) gives no grants to these private Rooms. The Town depot now “under the War Office” and having a pompous Board announcing its connection with the British Red Cross & the “Northampton Red Cross (??)” has collected 680 pounds, and intends to get 1000£ in order to sit upon all BRC work. Not sent to the War Office – to be distributed by them, & not by our Headquarters, 83 Pall Mall. It is from here quite incomprehensible when one knows how these people have behaved, & the lies they have told to cover up the defects of their organization, but I suppose Sir Edward had to level up all sorts of abuses & get the whole into his hand before any order could be restored. And the BRC did not organize its work in time. Now the Central Work Rooms have had to move from Burlington House to 48 Gros: Square & they have taken that big corner house for six months.

Sir George Pragnell’s death has been a blow, as I felt safe behind him from further attack – but the Stores Manager at 83 is so delighted with the work we have now sent up that our position will be assured. Another enemy – not me – quashed!

It is a complication that the Lady Doctor who is our splendid and most efficient Superintendent is expecting to add to the population! (more…)

Splendid workers for the troops

Lady Mary Glyn continued to devote herself to Red Cross activities.

12th Feb 1916

I am taking up a huge parcel to Red X Burlington House Work Rooms. We are so happy in our Work Room, 37 last Tuesday, in the uniform dresses we have to wear to ensure cleanliness, and the other care – the Rest Room GE [Great Eastern railway station], all very successful. Splendid workers. It is open night & day and we have had over 1500 men there since Christmas Eve.

Little difficulties arise and as President I find I can keep in both ways – Canteen and workers, & they are all so pleasant to work with….

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

Bread and butter in Ruhleben

Victor Cusden, one of four Reading-born brothers held in the civilian internment camp Ruhleben, near Berlin wrote to his little sister Iris in Reading. is main concern was the supply of bread, as much of their food had to be sent by their families via the Red Cross.

11 February 1916
Dear Iris

It is a very long time since I wrote you last but I know you won’t scold me too much for not having written more often. You must however not think I have been ill. This winter I have not even been troubled with colds – as yet at any rate. Arch & I have also to write every now and again to our friends in Giessen and in Holland who have from time to time helped us in various small ways. You must not be surprised then that it is Albert who usually writes our letters home, since it would look strange were he to answer these others for us.

We all thank you for the letters received from the various ones at different dates, & thank all concerned for the parcels we have had sent us.

The last kind of bread sent keeps very well and is very good. The toast too keeps admirably. I relish it even when we have nothing to put on it. The butter and margarine arrives also in good condition. There is no need to state whether it is appreciated or not as neither butter nor margarine can be obtained at the canteen.

We do not require any more composition powder as we have now two tins of it. Albert asks me to thank you Len very much for sending him the drawing materials. He has done some quite nice drawings, besides the caricatures that is always at. I’m afraid I do practically nil in this line at present as study is more pressing.

When sending again will you please enclose three or four copying-ink pencils of the durable variety such as the Koh-i-Noor. They need not of necessity be this make however…

I have occasionally written to the Headmaster & one of the other masters, and have received nice letters in return. Numbers of my old school-fellows have either been killed or wounded. Of Sammy Hall I have heard nothing since the war began and for over 6 months nothing of Mr Naulty. Many fellows who were little “squirts” when I was at school have been doing conspicuous things at the front. It does seem strange…

Love to all & much for yourself,
Viccie

Letter from Victor Cusden to his sister Iris (D/EX1485/4/5/1)

The final run for life

Lady Mary wrote to her son Ralph Glyn with more news of her Red Cross work, and the family’s responses to the death of her nephew Ivar Campbell. She had also heard a first hand account of the last stand at Gallipoli.

Jan 17th [1916]

5.30 service, and then I ran down to the Rest Room & found we were to expect 40 sailors tonight and 60 soldiers, the sailors at 11 pm and the troops at 6 am. So the Canteen had to be replenished & sufficient help made sure.

This morning I had to prepare for the Red Cross Work Room tomorrow, and ghet a cupboard for material, & I collected cutters out to prepare the work, and I cannot tell you how willing and good people have been – and you were right to encourage me. I know nothing more of the town row and the investigation, but evidently my Room is not to be interfered with. I hear rumours of the Enquiry and of the town talk over it….

I saw Colonel Collingwood today for a few minutes. He is always full of enquiry for you, and loves to think of you in Egypt.

The papers are full of indigestible matter, and the accounts from the Tigris will give Aunt Syb a worse horror, for the fighting must have been very severe and one dreads that there must have been delay in moving the wounded down. Aunt Eve has now seen Aunt Syb, and very anxious we should see her, but no, she refused to see dad, & writes, “he will understand”. I think it best to keep away. They all have a shunning of religious expression, and it does so hurt him and puzzles him – dear darling Dad with such a longing to love and to comfort and to help.

I hear of Uncle Henry gone to to the Front from Eisa Middleton, and I do dread its risks for anyone of his age. He goes as the head of the Northern Territorial Division, but for how long I do not know.
Darling, I do so love your New Year’s Eve letter, and when I can bear it more I read it, but letters make me so hungry for you. I so understand all you feel about the Dardanelles, and there was the great venture and the quest. It might have come off, but if the Allies had got to Constantinople it would not have prevented the Balkan imbroglio? And our troops and ships would have been unable to prevent Salonika becoming a base – in the end I believe it will save bloodshed and massacre that the fall of Constantinople is postponed.

We have been seeing here parents of a boy who was left in the rear guard on that night of the evacuation, and I have seen a wonderful letter he wrote to his mother, with the evident belief it would be his goodbye to her. He tells her to think always of the honour done to his family he should be in that lot, and now the Brigadier had given each man his choice, of the chance, little or none of their getting away. Another a wonderful account of the final run for life, 3 miles, while time fuses & bombs were still going off from every part of the trenches. A wonderful story told with the simple joy of the venture, & of the miracle of escape, of a boy of 21.

“That nothing be lost” and in the gathering up of the fragments of that wonderful story the glory of England is not dimmed, and this war will not be won on so many acres of material soil, but by the spirit which is to overcome and master the Brute Beast – a spiritual warfare, and you are all raising and lifting the spirit of man as it has never been raised before, for this, I believe final assault, when Satan is unloosed, to bring in the glorious shout that is to sound through Heaven and an earth renewed – “Hallelujah – for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth”.

I think of you in Egypt, and love to think of you there and hearing the muezzin call to prayer and the still sunlight in the depths of space, the stars and the moonlight, the littleness of European civilisation, and dwarf Roman the parvenu Latin peoples. Is the world war to have an end where east and west shall meet?…

A business/political acquaintance also wrote to Ralph:

1 Howard Street
Strand
London, WC
17th January 1916

Dear Capt. Glyn

I hope you are fit again. I heard you had a bad attack of dysentery at the Dardanelles.

How awfully sad Ivar Campbell’s death is. It must be a terrible blow to the family.

Yours sincerely
Robert Pollock

Letters to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3; C32/2)

Will the government have enough pluck to shoot those who oppose conscription?

Ralph Glyn’s parents both wrote to him on New Year’s Eve. The good bishop was quite gung ho (and one might think not very Christian) about deporting Germans and even shooting conscientious objectors! Lady Mary was still fussing about her quarrels with a rival Red Cross workroom.

The Palace
Peterborough
Dec 31 [1915]

My darling Ralph

Here is my New Year letter to you…

Things at Salonica [sic] seem doing well – & our forces must be growing there – as we see daily accounts in the papers of “more troops arriving” – and I am glad that the French General has taken the enemy consuls & staff & put them on board of a French man-of-war – so they have got rid of them as spies – & it is good. Tonight’s paper tells of an English cruiser blown up in harbour – “HMS Natal, captain Eric Back, RN armoured cruiser sank yesterday in harbour as the result of an internal explosion”. This seems to me only another reason why we should ship away every German in England & send them to their own country, as it is no use keeping the enemy here to do such mischief as blowing up our ships in harbour – as I should say it must have been done by some bomb put on board by a German.

We have got our conscription so far, & shall hear all about it on Thursday. It is high time the “Government” (so-called) made up their minds to the inevitable – & the “country” will back them up certainly – & now we shall “wait & see” if the Government will have pluck enough to shoot those that oppose them.

Much love – & take care of your dear self.

Your loving father
E C Peterborough

Dec 31 1915
My own darling own Ralph

The news of the loss of the “Natal” has come this evening to us here – and one dreads to think it may be another treachery or labour trouble – but the news is good of the full Cabinet meeting and one feels sure that the country will be sound on the question of these men who have held back…

I hear of Edith Wolverton coming here but not to see us. I think the war makes these women quite queer. They are so anxious to be petite maitresse & do not understand how it is all lost in provincial towns where everyone on the spot wishes to emulate any “star” that wishes to “shoot”. We are very happy with our canteen and it will give us plenty to do and I shall hear I suppose soon about the other crazy emulation over Red Cross. They are all quite sick with anger I have my private workroom and the Sham Committee find they are quite powerless to stop it but I am quite willing to co-operate it when they become real. I am in close touch with Headquarters. Oh! me, when will these silly little fusses be read over by you and where! And it will all seem so silly and so paltry and hard to believe that men and women can be so mean and self seeking over work for the sick and wounded at the Front.

We keep quite quiet and say nothing, but they are spluttering into the papers with their silly complainings. It may have to end in a private official enquiry but Winfrey has managed to save his face by registering one committee under all three – Queen Mary’s Needlework, Sir Edward Ward’s Voluntary Association & the Red Cross! All this with one Fund and the same little creature as accountant that went against affiliation to centre at the beginning & start of all the fuss. I am afraid the expenses are enormous, and that I shall have difficulty in getting the money unless we can get the whole thing put under one authority & one Fund….

Letters from E C and Lady Mary Glyn to their son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/3)

A wonderful miracle

Lady Mary Glyn, wife of the Bishop of Peterborough, was thinking of her son Ralph, just evacuated from Gallipoli, on Christmas Day.

Christmas Day [1915]
My own darling Scraps

Then coming back here to these sad turmoils & committees & doings which have cost me more than usual time & thought of late, and yet in many ways the best work I have done – because at last a healthy support against mean opposition, and the discovering of the nature of the mean spite of some of these people. Anyway, the Rest Room at the GG was opened by Dad yesterday, with Mayor & Mayoress present, and many people there. And last night, Christmas Eve, Mrs Evans, wife of the Precentor, sat up all night, & 27 men needed the Canteen & Rest, & were so glad of it & grateful, and the railway officials came & begged them to take in some civilians who had been stranded. The troops come through from the east coast by a 4 am train & cannot get on to central England till after 6 am, and they have had to hang about there, or be sent up to the GN, where they have had as many as 135 and 90. It is such a joy we have been able to do this, but it has meant a lot of work & anxiety at one time… People have been too kind – pouring gifts on us for it, and offers of help flow in – and I am so thankful as I know it will do good in many ways, and it is the only way to open people’s eyes to what has been going on to keep me and Dad out of everything by a strange combination of social spite & religious animosity. The Red X workroom is also going to be a very great help towards that needed discovery….

I try to think of the miracles of mercy that are ours, and the miracle of Love that has watched over you all, and how the things one feared have served for songs of deliverance, and from here the Suvla Bay & Anzac affair appears to be as wonderful a miracle as any and though Colonel Collingwood takes the soldier’s view of it, as you all must, “Not since La Rochelles” [sic] – he sees it best that they had courage to do it.

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn to her son Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2)

“We are all very cheery about the war”

The army chaplain with friends in Mortimer had more information about his life behind the lines in France, preparations for Christmas, and dramatic and musical entertainments for the troops.

Mr. Bowdon writes happily about his cinematograph; “quite a lot of stuff has been given, and the Globe Film Co. have promised to supply me with a weekly programme free of charge except cost of carriage.”

He also sends the following for publication:

14, Stationary,
Wimereux,
Boulogne.

20th December.

Dear Vicar,

I feel I must devote half-an-hour or so to writing a few lines for the magazine, though I am busier than ever in the midst of preparations for Xmas. We are arranging a concert party to go round to all the wards in the hospital, and in the largest there will be a Xmas tree for patients there, and all convalescents who can crawl so far. On Xmas Eve a party of sisters and officers are going round singing carols with lanterns, &c. Then on the Monday we have a big Xmas dinner for our orderlies and N.C.O.’s and a concert and tea at the Recreation Hut in the evening. I regret to say the cinema is not yet ready – the goods are delayed at the Millwall Docks. It is a terrible job getting things out from England and getting work done here, but we hope to overcome all difficulties in time.

I am also arranging a pantomime, a play, and a grand concert by the officers of the A.S.C., to include if possible Kennedy Rumford and the chief tenor from the Italian Opera, so we look forward to a very gay and enjoyable Xmas season. We have built a magnificent stage at the Hut with spacious ‘green rooms,’ draw curtains, electric head and foot-lights. The hut has become very popular, and our lady helpers are kept hard at work from early morn till dewy eve. They all work like bricks, and have been serving on an average 200 hot lunches and suppers a day, in addition to all the usual canteen fare.

The hospital, I am glad to say, is rather empty, so I am not quite so rushed as I have been – at any rate I have more time for seeing to the Xmas festivities. There will be a great number of Xmas communions, in almost all the wards, all over the compound and in the camp services will have to be held. I think they will have to extend over Xmas Day, Sunday and Monday. Much time will be occupied in preparing the patients. We also have three celebrations at our little church, and a special service for the orderlies of our isolation compound who are not allowed to go outside.

We are to have the great pleasure of welcoming Dr. Gore amongst us on Sunday week. He is going to preach, at my request, at our church in the evening, and will dine with me at the Mess afterwards. He is visiting the Boulogne Base for a fortnight. We are having splendid congregations at church, especially at Evensong; when the Bishop comes I doubt if we shall fit them all in.

We are all very cheery about the war, and expecting great things in the Spring. I could a tale unfold but mustn’t. One hears interesting things at our Mess from the innumerable visitors of note who come to dine with the general and other of the Olympians.

With every best wish for Xmas and kindest remembrances to all friends at Mortimer.

Yours very sincerely,
W.S. Bowdon.
C.F.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, February 1916 (D/P120/28A/14)

Fighting indigestion in the trenches

A woman with Berkshire connections was working with the French Red Cross helping to feed French soldiers.

Mr T. Evelyn Swain has been gazetted as Second Lieutenant in the Royal West Surrey Regiment (The Queen’s).

An interesting revelation of the work that goes on behind the firing line of the French Army is given by a knowledge of the work of Mrs Gardiner (daughter of Mr and Mrs Alfred Palmer). She has joined the Croix Rouge Francais, and is engaged in canteen work. It seems that as soon as the French soldiers leave the trenches they come to a Rest House, where coffee and refreshments are served out to hundreds at a time. Then some require special feeding, as they suffer from bad indigestion, and are given proper nourishing food.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, December 1915 (D/EX725/3)

“It makes all the difference when men have been constantly facing death and seeing their comrades fall at their side”

The experiences of an army chaplain were published in the Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine.

The Rev. W. W. Bowdon, C.F.

Cheery letters have been received from Mr. Bowdon, and the following will be of interest to many:-

No. 14 Stationary Hospital,
Wimereux,
Boulogne.

I crossed the water on Thursday, 30th September. There were a great crowd of officers and many hundreds of men crossing. It was rather weird on board with all lights out, not even the light of a cigarette allowed, and we were accompanied by destroyers. On arriving at Boulogne we were detailed off to various trains, and I soon found myself wedged in with half-a-dozen officers and piles of baggage in an unlighted 1st class carriage, bound for General Headquarters (it is not permitted to say where). I arrived in the small hours of the morning and, being too early to do anything else, turned in again and slept in a carriage on a siding, first making sure it wouldn’t be moving before I did. Then about 8 a.m. a rough toilet and le petit déjeuner at the station buffet. I then drove up to see my new chief, Bishop Gwyn, of Khartoum, Acting Chaplain-General, passing General French’s headquarters on the way.

I found myself appointed to this great hospital for infectious diseases at the base, so back I came. Wimereux is four miles from Boulogne, a pretty place, and in peace time a fashionable sea-side resort, now given over for hospital work. My hospital is situated right on the sea-shore, there is also a large compound of wooden huts near by and a canvas camp for convalescents in the fields at the back. I mess with the officers, all of whom are very nice. We have the General with us, a Colonel (our C.O.), two Majors, and the rest Captains and Lieutenants, to the number of about 25. I am put down as the Rev. Captain Bowdon, C.F., but they all call me ‘Padre,’ and we are very friendly and informal out here. Our mess rooms are delightful, in a separate house on the sea front and with charming views.

The work is, as I expected, pretty strenuous. I visit my patients for about five hours a day, take services when and where I can, run a recreation hut and canteen for the R.A.M.C. men, of whom we have some 1500 here, censor all the company’s letters, and do other odd jobs always cropping up.

One of my difficulties is that different classes of patients must not be mixed, and there are a choice variety of diseases – enteric and scarlet fever, with para-typhoid, meningitis, diphtheria, measles, mumps, whooping-cough, and some others. So at present instead of dodging the bullets I am dodging disease germs. I am wondering which are the more dangerous. I expect to be here some months and then to go ‘up the line’ (as we speak of going into the firing zone), but are always liable to be called up at a moment’s notice. One man was rushed off yesterday after being here but three days.

Of war alarms we have none. Our own air-craft are often about, but none of the enemy’s.

I find the men most responsive and so grateful for one’s ministrations that it is a pleasure to work amongst them. Nearly all my patients have been ‘up the line,’ and it makes all the difference when men have been constantly facing death and seeing their comrades fall at their side. I am inclined to think their experiences are making a very deep and permanently beneficial impression on the character of most of them.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, November 1915 (D/P120/28A/14)

Make the Wargrave Roll of Honour perfect

Many parishes regularly published a Roll of Honour of those serving. One of these was Wargrave, and July saw the publication of Part 2 of their list:

The Roll of Honour for The Parish of Wargrave

Luker, Ernest, VIII Hussars
F Mance, Robert. Army Services Corps.
F Milford, John. R.F.A.
F Morse, George. Royal Berks Regt.
F Nicholl, Charles. Major. Oxfordshire Hussars.
Nicholl, Kenneth. Capt. Welsh Fusiliers
F Nicholls, Albert. Royal Berks Regt
Noble, Eric Heatley. 2nd Lieut. Grenadier Guards
Noble, Norris Heatley. 2nd Lieut. Kings Royal Rifles
F Ogbourne, Harry. 1st Life Guards.
F Over, Reginald. Lce-Corp. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Parritt, William John. Lce-Corp R.E.
Paget, Colin. Wiltshire Territorials
F Perry, George Edwin. Scotch Greys
Piggott, George. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Pithers, James. VIII Royal Berks Regt
Plested, Herbert. Royal Berks Regt
Plested, Albert. Royal Berks Regt
Plowman, Thomas Austen. Berks Yeomanry
Porter, Albert E. Army Service Corps
F Pugh, Ernest. Royal Berks Regt
Rhodes, John Edward. Lt-Col. Princess Beatrice’s Isle of Wight Rifles
Rhodes, Wilfred. Major. Provost Marshal on Staff
F Rhodes, Victor. Capt. Late Sherwood Foresters
Remnant, John. Lieut. Royal Berks Regt
Rayner, John. 2nd Lieut. Royal Berks Regt
Reid, George William. Royal Berks Regt
Richardson, Fred. Berks Yeomanry
Rideout, Henry Randall. Expeditionary Force’s Canteen
Rixon, Charles. Royal Berks Regt
F Rixon, Walter. Royal Berks Regt
Rufey, William. Royal Berks Regt
F Shepherd, Henry. Capt. IX C of London Regt
F Schuster, Leonard Francis. Lieut. 3rd County of London Yeomanry
Sinclair, Gerald John. 2nd Lieut. Black Watch
Sanson, Gordon Ralph. Hon. Artillery Co.
F Sharp, Ernest Gladstine. VIII Dragoon Guards
Sharp, Samuel. Lee-Corp. Welsh Fusiliers
F Sharp, William. Army Service Corps
Shaw, George. Royal Berks Regt
F Shersby, Edward. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Sherwood, Fred. Royal Berks Regt
Silver, Frank. Army Services Corps
Silver, Harry. R.F.A.
F Silvey, Stephen. R.A.M.C.
Slatter, T. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Slattery, Udolph Wolfe. 2nd Lieut. IX West Kent Regt
Smith, George Frederick. Veterinary Corps
Stanbridge, Albert. Irish Fusiliers
F Stone, Samuel Philip. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
F Swanborough, Alfred. Army Services Corps
F Symons-Jeune, Bertram. Lieut. Army Service Corps
Talbot, Arthur. Corpl. IInd Royal Berks Regt
F Talbot, Anthony George. XCIIth Lancers
F Talbot, Albert. Army Services Corps
Tigwell, Monty. Royal Berks Regt
F Watson, Burton. Major. 107th Pioneers, Indian Army
F Watson, Cyril. Captain. Middlesex Husaars
Walsh, Gordon Herbert. Lieut. Royal Sussex Regt
Wakefield, Caleb. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Wakefield, Cecil. Royal Berks Regt
F Warby, Albert H. XIIth Lancers
F Webb, George. Rifle Brigade
Weller, David. R.F.A.
Woodruff, Charles Herbert. Xth Regt Cavelry

Warren Row In the Parish of Knowl Hill

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