“The news of his death was only received after the signing of the Armistice”

There was a particular poignancy when news of a death came after the war had ended.

Roll of Honour.

Frederick Pither.

The news of his death was only received after the signing of the Armistice and the blow, therefore, come with added force to his wife and children.

We would desire to convey to her the very real and special sympathy of all.

Military Cross.

Lieut. R. Palmer – to whom heartiest congratuilations.

Blinded Soldiers’ Fund.

The total sum received is £32; made up as follows:-

Carol Singing £22 10s., Christmas Dinner Table envelopes £9 10s. This latter sum is for the children of Blinded Soldiers.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, February 1919 (D/P154C/28A/1)

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Carols for blinded soldiers

Wokingham carol singers collected money for soliders blinded in the war, and their children.

Blinded Soldiers.

The outcome of the Carol Singing has been very satisfactory, and the Choir hope to hand over £20 or so as the fruit of their efforts. Such a result has of course entailed the expenditure of considerable time and trouble, which however has been given most ungrudgingly by all the members. We congratulate them on their success. Needless to say, the generous contributions and kindly welcome everywhere received have greatly added to the pleasure of their good work.

For the children of Blinded Soldiers, nearly £10 has been contributed by means of Xmas Dinner Table envelopes.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, January 1919 (D/P154C/28A/1)

“Beginning again in the dark”

There was great sympathy for soldiers’ whose war wounds had left them blind.

FOR ST DUNSTAN’S

We have done a good many generous things as a church, but it is doubtful if we ever responded quite so well as when we helped the cause of the Blinded Soldiers and Sailors during the Christmas season. Starting in quite a modest way with the suggestion that our choir should provide a carol service in the evening of Christmas Sunday [28 December 1918], the plans gathered sympathy, until they included a United Carol Service in the Village Hall on the Sunday evening referred to, a collection at the Watch-night service, and a special gathering of personal donations from members of our church and congregation. By this means £10 3s. 4d. was raised for those “beginning again in the dark”. We recognise that this was a united effort, and do not take the credit to ourselves, but we do appreciate the kindly sympathy that our folks showed in both subscribing to and organising such a fund.

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

“The Christmas presents from the parish reached Salonika”

The after-effects of the war still dominated Christmas.

ST. DUNSTAN’S HOSPITAL FOR BLIND SOLDIERS

We are glad to have been able to send £13 16s. 4d. as the result of the collection at the Carol Service on Christmas Day, and the Carol Singing by the Choir at Heathfield School, when £7 1s. 1d. was subscribed, together with £1 14s. given by the Girls’ school and 16s by the Infants.

It is satisfactory to learn that the Christmas presents from the parish reached Salonika by Dec 22nd, and several men write saying they received them there on Xmas Eve.

Ascot section of Winkfield District Magazine, February 1919 (D/P 151/28A/11/2)

Progressing favourably in Egypt

Ascot churchgoers continued to think of their men in the services.

On Wednesdays there will be an address after Evensong and War Intercessions at 7.30 and also on Fridays at 11, after the Litany.

The following have written thanking the Men’s Committee for Christmas parcels safely received :–

M. Sumner, W. Roots, F. Swayne, R. Sensier, F. May, J. Nobbs, J. Siggins, J. Williams, S. Waite, E. Butler, G. Larkin, G. Andrews, A Barnard, F. Barton, H. Wilderspin, C. Berridge, G. White, E. Dunstan, G. Talbot, W. Jones.

We are very glad to hear that Fred Talbot, who was reported dangerously wounded, is now reported progressing favourably in Egypt.

The collection at Evensong on Christmas afternoon when carols were sung, amounted to £2 10s. 0d. fot St Dunstan’s Hospital for Blinded Soldiers.

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, February 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10)

“May humanity after victory be the predominant feature in the British fleet”

Wokingham choir singers raised money for the children of men blinded in the fighting, while a prayer from the Napoleonic Wars had a new resonance.

Blind Soldiers Fund.

The Choir has spent several evenings in Carol Singing, and as a result has obtained, so far, £8 for the Blind Soldiers Fund. The rendering of the Carols was most creditable to the members. The Christmas dinner table envelopes received up to now, have produced just over £5. This sum is for the children of Blind Soldiers.

Lord Nelson’s Prayer.

May the Great God whom I worship grant to my country and for the benefit of Europe in general a great and glorious victory, and may no misconduct in any one tarnish it and may humanity after victory be the predominant feature in the British fleet. For myself individually I commit my life to Him that made me, and may His blessing alight on my endeavours for saving my country faithfully. To Him I resign myself and the just cause it is entrusted to me to defend.

Amen, Amen, Amen.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, January 1918 (D/P154C/28A/1)

For our blinded soldiers

Cranbourne planned a post-Christmas collection.

Carols will be sung after evensong on Sunday, December 30th, and a collection will be made on behalf of our blinded Soldiers.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, December 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/12)

Carols for blind soldiers – a cause we all must have at heart

Blind Soldiers.

Sir Arthur Pearson, who has done so much for the Blind, has invited Choirs to go round singing Carols at Christmas-tide and to give any proceeds to the cause which he and all of us must have at heart. Our own Choir is proposing to take a part in this scheme and will, we feel sure, get a liberal welcome. Further details will be issued shortly.

Wokingham St Sebastian parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P154C/28A/1)

The finest, cosiest, and prettiest place in the whole Second Army Area

A Reading church sponsored a place of recreation for soldiers at the front.

“Words Fail Us.”

Such are the words used on a Christmas card by the Y.M.C.A. to convey their deep gratitude to all who have helped in the erection of Huts in France and elsewhere. The words may be even more fittingly used to emphasise the desperate need for these buildings, and we rejoice in having been privileged to take part in this good work. It will be remembered that soon after our pastor’s return from France in March of last year, he announced his wish to erect a Y.M.C.A. hut, and was met by so gratifying a response from his many friends in Trinity and elsewhere that, by the end of August it was being used by our fighting men on the Western “Front.” This month, by the help of the above-mentioned Christmas card, we are able to show our readers a picture of our own hut.

It is situated La Clytte, about 4.5 miles south-west of Ypres and within three miles of the front firing-line very, very near danger. It is by the side of a road, along which is passing a continual stream of men to and from the trenches. Near by is a rest camp, into which the men are drafted after having served a certain time actually in the line. Hence our Hut, capable of accommodating from two hundred to three hundred men, meets the very real need of a large number of men actually in “the thick of it.”

The picture represents its actual appearance from outside, which resembles many other Y.M. Huts, but the interior is most beautifully and artistically decorated with about 250 coloured pictures, with the result that Mr. Holmes (Sec. Y.M.C.A. 2nd Army) pronounces it to be the finest, cosiest, and prettiest place in the whole Second Army Area. For this proud distinction we must thank its present leader, Mr Cecil Dunford, who is an artist, and so in touch with colour-printing firms. To him, too, we are indebted to him for our picture. His helpers are the Rev. Eric Farrar, son of Dean Farrar a most interesting fact and the Rev. Herbert Brown, Chaplain to the Embassy at Madrid.

At Christmas-time, our thoughts flew naturally to the men in our Hut, and Mr Harrison, anticipating our wishes, telegraphed that a sum of £20 was to be spent on festivities. It will interest all to hear what was done.

On Christmas Eve a Carol service took place, assisted by a regimental band, followed by a distribution of free gifts and cake. On Christmas Day the Hut was crowded for service at 10 a.m., and 45 men present at Holy Communion. From 12-1 a free distribution of cakes and tea was enjoyed. An afternoon concert was held, after which the men were again supplied with tea and cakes. At 6.30 p.m. a very informal concert was held, interspersed with games and amusing competitions ducking for apples bobbing in a pail of water, drawing in to the mouth a piece of toffee tied to a long string held between the teeth, pinning blindfold a moustache to the Kaiser’s portrait, etc. Free drinks and tobacco were again distributed, and after three hearty cheers for the people of Reading, the National Anthem brought a memorable day to a close.

To the men this day was a bright spot in their cheerless, dangerous life, and their enjoyment is depicted by Mr Dunford in some clever sketches one of a man straight from the line, in a tin helmet and with pack on his back, beaming happily at a steaming mug of cocoa, and murmuring “Good ‘ealth to the Y.M.”; another man, whose swelled cheek testifies to the huge mouthful of sandwich (evidently “tres bon!” in quality and quantity), wittily designated “an attach in force on the salient.” To the helpers the Christmas festivities evidently proved exhausting as shown by two laughable sketches of utter collapse, one worker clinging feebly to a post, the other being dragged along the floor to a place of rest. Yet we venture to think that even they, with us, rejoice to do something to brighten the lot of our brave boys in khaki.


Trinity Congregational Church, Reading: magazine, February 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

Impossible to go round carol-singing as in happier years

An unexpected casualty of the war was carol singing.

The Vicar’s Letter

The War affects us in so many ways, and this year, owing to the darkness and the prohibition of the use of lanterns giving anything more than a modicum of light, the Choir regret that it will be impossible for them to go round carol-singing as in happier years. I suppose this is the first time for fifty years or more that the carol-singing out of doors will have been given up.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P43B/28A/11)