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)

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“We have all been made happy by the news of the entry of the British troops and their Allies into the holy city of Jerusalem”

Berkshire clergymen were delighted by the capture of Jerusalem from the Ottomans.


Reading St Mary
The Vicar’s Notes

The best wish that I can send to the people of St Mary’s Parish for 1918 is that it may be a year of Peace. God grant that it may be so.

We have all been made happy by the news of the entry of the British troops and their Allies into the holy city of Jerusalem. This great event was commemorated by a “Te Deum” at St Mary’s at both services on Sunday, December 16th.

An interesting letter appeared in the Times of December 12th from the Archdeacon of Northampton, in which he pointed out that it was at Reading on March 17th, 1185, that Heraclius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, gave to Henry II the keys of Jerusalem and of the Holy Sepulchre with the words: “In thee alone after God do the people of the land put their trust.” And the King’s answer was: “May our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Power, be the defender of His people, and we will be His fellow-workers to the utmost of our power.” Could we have a happier inspiration that these words, or a happier time for the possession of Jerusalem than just before the Festival of our Lord’s Nativity?

Cranbourne

The taking of Jerusalem was celebrated on Sunday, December 16th by a Te Deum sung in procession, and by special psalms, lessons and hymns.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, January 1918 (D/P116B/28A/2); Cranbourne section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, January 1918 (D/P 151/281/10)

Pork and potato pancakes on Christmas Day – but it will cost extra

Interned foreigners in Reading were to have a special menu on Christmas Day.

The interned aliens have asked for the Christmas Day diet to be as in attached list.

1. Pork – the contractor can supply this at 1/4 per lb against 1/3 per lb for beef. The ingredients for stuffing would be extra – probable total extra cost 8/-.
2. Potato pancakes. Cost about 8/-.
3. They can buy these except ham & sausages (if they can get them), which I have struck on account of food restrictions.
C M Morgan
Gov.

The Governor of Reading P of I
1. The diet should be so arranged that the Christmas Day fare takes the place of the following on the dietary scale: Bread, potatoes, hot meat (mutton), peas or beans and pudding. That is, to avoid their having three puddings in one week. There is no objection to pork for those who desire it, but the extra cost as well as the stuffing they should pay for themselves.
2. The potato pancakes would be an extra. There is no objection to this, but again they should pay the cost themselves.
3. There is no objection to the purchase of the articles mentioned under this paragraph (ham and sausage being omitted). Wine is not allowed.
S J Wall, Secretary 14-12-17

Noted, but the authorised diet is three puddings per week. Is the order allowing men beer or wine each day cancelled? I’ve received no notification and men have it.
C M Morgan, Gov
16-12-17

Three puddings per week must not be exceeded.
Extra wine is not allowed, beyond the daily allowance.
JW 21-12-17

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

Determined not to give in until an end has been made of the menace of tyranny and despotism

The vicar of Earley continued to be exercised by the unpatriotic refusing to restrain their consumption of limited food and drink supplies.

The Vicar’s Letter

We can hardly realise that we have almost reached the end of another year; it seems but a few weeks to our last Advent, our last Christmas, yet how much has happened since. How the war drags on from week to week, month to month, and how, in spite of it all, it finds us as determined as ever not to give in until an end has been made of the menace of tyranny and despotism. There is no fear as to the final result, but we shall have need of all our self-control and self-denial during the next few months. And yet how many are absolutely refusing to exercise that self-control in matters of food and drink.

A short while ago a foreman of some railway works in the west of England told us that he had spoken to his men about the probability of the cost of beer being raised to a shilling a pint, and asked them what they meant to do. “We shall have it”, was the reply. Here lies the real danger for our country, far more than in the direct attacks of our enemies…

If we think as we ought of what the season means for us, we can at any rate spend a Happy Christmas, even if a Merry Christmas is out of the question.

Your friend and Vicar
W W Fowler.

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have [sic] been added to our prayer list: Harold Davies.

In addition to those already mentioned we especially commend the following to your prayers:

SICK OR WOUNDED: Harold Giles, Rupert Wigmore, Harry Hewett, Eric Fowler, Ernest Thompson, George Fulford, Harry Ayres.

KILLED: Arthur Buskin, Frank Buskin, Charles Smith.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

A present to each of our men in the Navy and Army

It was time to remember the troops at Christmas again.

CHRISTMAS PRESENTS TO SOLDIERS.

It is proposed to send a present to each of our men in the Navy and Army. The Vicar will be glad if the relations of our men will give him at once their present address.

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

“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)

We live in times when death is seen to stand near the door of every household

The war served as a constant reminder of the fragility of life to those at home.

Advent and Christmas

The Message of the Advent Season is a very solemn one “Prepare to meet thy God”.

It is a message that cannot be set aside as addressed only to come of us, or unheeded as having no immediate urgency. We live in times when death is seen to stand near the door of every household and the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

But if we take to heart the Advent message of the Church, we need not be afraid of anything that death can do for we shall be learning to company with Him who is the Lord of Life.

The way to prepare to meet our God is to occupy ourselves, with alert and purposeful industry, in the daily duties which lie before us. God sets the task, which we call duty. He will show us what He would have us do, if we seek to Him, in prayer, for guidance: He will give us the Bread of Life. He will not suffer the work to fail when we ourselves are called away, nor can any life be said to be cut short if the service for which God has asked has been fully rendered.

“For even here unto were ye called – that ye should follow His steps.” “Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing.” For all such servants the happiness of Christmas is an earnest of the joy of the Lord”.

Wargrave parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

Our fourth war-time Christmas: a joy none can take from us

Food shortages, and the use of adulterated products, had one unexpected casualty – the quality of communion bread. The vicar of Cookham Dean reflected on the fourth Christmas of the war.

The Vicar’s Letter

Since the war began I have found increasing difficulty to obtain bread suitable for use at the Holy Communion. For years I have had a special loaf sent every week from Edinburgh, but it is impossible to depend now upon its quality, and some of the ingredients with which bread is at present made are quite unsuitable for the holy purpose for which it is used. For a long time past I have used, both for sick people and on Saints’ Days, wafer bread, made as the Prayer Book directs, ‘of the best and purest wheaten flour’: Its use secures reverence, and its quality never varies, so that from Advent Sunday onward I intend to use it on Sundays also: I am obtaining it for the present from the same place that supplies the Bishop with that used by him in the Palace Chapel at Cuddesdon.


The Vicar’s Letter

This will be our fourth war-time Christmas. As each year goes on one realises how less like Christmases of former days each succeeding one becomes; and yet, beneath all the changes and turmoil of war, there must ever be the gladdening in our hearts at the thought of the Redemption of the World by our Lord Jesus Christ. We must be ready to offer our worship at the Manger Throne, and find the same comfort and the same grace as ever before at the Altar Throne if our hearts have been duly prepared in Advent by penitence and faith to seek Him, and receive Him there.

Some of the dear lads from the village will spend their Christmas very near to Bethlehem: What an un-looked-for experience for them! May they, and we, and all our dear ones, far and near, bound together in love for Him who was born at Bethlehem – ‘born for us’- find in His Presence a joy none can take from us, and thus realise in a very true way a happy Christmas.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P43B/28A/11)

Sympathy for the loss of a young man of great promise and amiability

Worshippers at Maidenhead Congregational Church sent Christmas gifts out to their young men at the front.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Those who knew George Whitmill will be able to sympathise the more keenly with his parents in their sorrow. He was a young man of great promise and amiability, and a keen student. He was a member of Mr. Heywood’s Bible Class in the Institute. He was killed at the front on October 30th. We offer our tenderest Christian sympathies to his friends.

Victor Anderson is in hospital at Sheffield suffering from “trench fever.” Reginald Hill is back at Shheffield, and is to undergo another, and we trust the last, of a weary series of operations. Donald Lindsay and Percy Lewis have been home on leave.

Christmas parcels have already been sent out to our lads in the Mediterranean Forces, and the others will be forwarded very shortly. Miss Hearman and Miss Nicholls have been good enough to undertake the considerable task of the purchase and packing of these parcels.

Letters also of greeting from the Church will be sent to all our men. The minister will be grateful for addresses corrected up to date. Boxes are to be placed at the doors on Sundays, December 2nd and 9th, to receive contributions towards the cost, which amounts to about £6.

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

The meaning of Christmas: ‘You won’t be afraid when your time comes to “go over the top”’

Members of Broad Street Church sent gifts to their friends at the front – and the minister had some special words of comfort for them this Christmas.

CHRISTMAS PARCELS

It has been decided to send once more a Christmas Greeting to men of the church and Brotherhood who are serving with HM Forces. Each man is to receive a small parcel as in previous years. As there are 150 men to be provided for this will involve considerable expense. Our friends are therefore asked for their generous help. The best way in which this could be given would be by gifts of money. But for those who prefer to contribute goods it is acceptable, viz: Woollen comforts, soap, candles, condensed milk, tobacco and cigarettes, towels, handkerchiefs, sweets in tins, sardines, note paper and envelopes. Mr C Dalgleish, Hollybush, Grosvenor Road, Caversham, has kindly consented to rceive gifts of money. Goods will be gratefully received by either Mrs Rawlinson, 50 Western Elms Avenue, or Mr W A Woolley, 85 Oxford Road.

THE MESSAGE OF CHRISTMAS TO OUR MEN AWAY

What has Christmas to do this year with you, or indeed with any of us? At first sight, little enough; but looking deeper, everything.
God did not create a humanity that was bound to go wrong, and then leave it. He is not “an absentee God, sitting idle, at the outside of His universe, and seeing it go.” There was only one way to fight the evil, and God – all Righteousness and all Love – took that. “O generous love! that he who smote in man for man the foe…” The Divine Personality was born a little child over nineteen hundred years ago. That was Christmas.

He began by obeying orders, doing irksome things that seemed unmeaning and useless, but doing them as long as they had to be done. Then he lived in self-sacrifice, giving Himself for others utterly. He was friend and healer and helper wherever there was need. He fought evil with good, and hate with love. He stood for right and justice against odds. So far as you follow Him, and do these things, that is Christmas for you.

The meaning of Christmas persists. Christ is alive and working now, more nearly present than He could be then, and what He was on earth he is still.
….
He is still the friend and helper, with you in all loneliness and need and temptation. It keeps you straight, often to remember the eyes waiting at home, expecting that yours will be able to smile squarely into them when you come back. You can’t go wrong when you remember His eyes expecting as much, but with the power, too, to quell any demon that attacks you. You have not to fight your battles alone. He is no myth. Reach out to Him in your extremity, and see whether He fails you. “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

You won’t be afraid to leave your home people in His care, knowing that He cares for them as much as you do – as they have the harder task of leaving you. Every Sunday, and how many times between, they and we think of you, and pray for His care of you – in the trenches, or in the air, or in the sea; in hospitals or in camps; in far lands or in the home country; in drudgery or in danger.

You won’t be afraid when your time comes to “go over the top” (at the end of a long life, as we trust), seeing that the Friend with whpm you have lived and who you have trusted so long, is waiting out there for you, in that life which He left to come to your help.
All this is what Christmas means for you.

In connection with the Church, Christmas parcels are being sent to our Brothers in the Forces as before, and a “collection in kind” will have been taken by the time these notes are in print, and another in money will be asked for on December 2nd.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Our hopes of having a peaceful Christmas this year have been dashed to the ground

Reading people were encouraged to place their savings in the hands of the war effort as another Christmas approached.

The Vicar’s Notes

We are still at War, and our hopes of having a peaceful Christmas this year have been dashed to the ground; but this great Festival always brings a message of comfort and hope, never more so than at such a time as this: so I still venture to wish all the people of S. Mary’s Parish a happy Christmas.

The War Savings’ Campaign has begun again. I hope we will all back it up to the utmost of our power. Information can be obtained at the bureau, 6 Broad Street. A big meeting for stirring up interest will also be held at an early date. Meanwhile let those of us who have received the special letter from the Mayor and other leading townsmen, do what we can to follow out its suggestions.

Nothing can ever really repay the incalculable debt we owe to our Seamen especially at this time: so let us do our best to support the Flag Day of the Missions to Seamen, which is to be held on Dec 1st.

Intercessions

For the newly confirmed, who are making their first communion at Christmas.

For all our allies, especially the Italians and Russians.

For all our fighting men and more particularly for the sick, wounded and prisoners.

For the fallen, especially George and Hanbury Kekewich; also for Sir Stanley Maude, the victor of Bagdad [sic].

Thanksgivings

For success granted to our arms in France and in the Holy Land.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

Hoping “the streets of Jerusalem may be at peace, under the guard of Christian soldiers drawn mainly from our British race”

The assistant clergyman who was the minister at St Peter’s, Furze Platt, in the parish of Maidenhead St Luke, became an army chaplain in 1916.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

Alas, we lose Mr. Sellors on November 29th. He goes to Aldershot and thence to Salonica. Our prayers and good wishes go with him. I know that in the difficult interregnum that will follow his departure, I can count upon your loyal support, and that the St. Peter’s Church Committee will do all that is possible to keep things up in Furze Platt. Your loyal support has, I know, never failed me in similar (all too frequent) difficulties, which are much magnified by the War.

Lastly, may I hope that we all may have a happy and peaceful Christmas; and that when we meet, very many of us round the Altar on that day, Bethlehem, still a little Christian City, may be again in Christian hands; and the streets of Jerusalem may be at peace, under the guard of Christian soldiers drawn mainly from our British race.

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar
C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

A most excellent entertainment

Ascot people supported Christmas presents for soldiers.

The two concerts given in the Parish Room on November 27th and 28th in aid of the Fund for Christmas Parcels for Ascot Men serving over seas were a great success, the total receipts amounting to about £34. A number of letters have already been received from the recipients expressing their grateful thanks to Mr. Tottie and thhe Men’s Committee who worked so hard in the cause as well as to the Ladies and the R.F.C.M. Ascots who gave a most excellent entertainment.

Ascot section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, January 1918 (D/P 151/281/10)

The stress of war conditions

Coal Clubs, where poorer families paid in throughout the year in order to ensure a supply of winter fuel, were often run by parish churches.

ST LUKE’S COAL CLUB

Owing to the stress of war conditions, we have been asked to issue the Christmas Coal Tickets at an earlier date. I have arranged, in consequence, that the children may fetch their tickets from the School on Monday, November 26th, and the following Mondays.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

In these anxious days we need a mental tonic

Morale as well as money was raised by fundraising entertainments.

ENTERTAINMENTS.

Two most successful and thoroughly enjoyable concerts, organised by Mrs. Cross, were given in the Sunday School on November 22nd and 23rd. We offer our warmest thanks to Mrs. Cross and to the ladies and gentlemen from Fern Hill who so kindly entertained us. In these anxious days we need a mental tonic, and to have our thoughts diverted sometimes from the food problem and other war difficulties. It must be gratifying to our entertainers to have caused so much pleasure; no wonder enthusiastic cheers were given for them at the close of each performance. Again, we say, many many thanks. The proceeds, amounting to about £17 (after deducting expenses) will be given as to £10 to the Cranbourne branch of the Voluntary War Workers Association, and the balance will be given to the Fund for providing the Christmas presents [for soldiers and sailors].

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