“Three members have given their lives for their Country”

The Reading St Giles branch of the Church of England Men’s Society took stock of the numbers of their felllows who had joined up.

The annual meeting of our branch of the C.E.M.S. was held on the 24th [July]. Three members have given their lives for their Country: Randolph Portnell, Reginald Golder, Harry Gorring; and 28 members are now in the Navy or Army.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P96/28A/32)

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A church in a hut, and quite a parish!

An army chaplain from Newbury writes on his work:

The Rev. H C Roberts writes to the Rector from the Front as follows:

“I was very pleased to get your letter and to hear some of the Newbury news. It was forwarded on to me, as I have moved on from my last station, and am now at Garrison Mess, APOS 19. It doesn’t convey much, does it? This is a very much bigger place than where I was last, and I am in charge of this part. We have a very nice church in a hut all fitted out with an altar, reading desk, etc. I believe it is about the only one of its kind out here – it holds about 170 men, and at the voluntary evening service it gets quite full. We have two early services on Sundays, 6.15 and 7.15, and an evening communion on the last Sunday of the month. More men we find are able to make their communions in the evening owing to work, so it gives them the opportunity. Here too we have a CEMS Meeting one night in the week, and last time we had about 15 present. Of course work varies very much according to district, etc. In that way this is very much better than my last place. In addition we have various parade services on Sunday too. So you see it is quite a parish!! and, as you may imagine, a pretty big one too…

We are having some very hot weeks again (this was written in July, ED) now, but for one or two nights it turned quite cold. I am sorry I can’t tell you much of the place or work, but of course we are allowed to say very little in our letters, and all mention of places, kind of work, visits, etc, is prohibited, and I can imagine quite rightly.”

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, September 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

A real “Godsend” to the boys

Churchgoers in Reading and Windsor paid for a recreation “Hut” behind the front lines.

Notes from the Vicar

Intercessions list

Ptes. W.G. Pearce, 2nd Worcestershire Regt,; H.A.T. Wicks, 33rd Training Reserve Batt,; H.W. March, 47th Canadians.

Missing: Lce,-Cpl. Harold Walker.

Sick and Wounded: Pte Green; Pte. Bailey.

Departed: Lce,-Cpl. J. Cole; Gunner W. Shaw. R.I.P.

C.E.M.S.

The following report has been received about the Reading and Windsor Federation Hut.

“Everything has been done to make this Hut one of the most attractive and comfortable in this area. Crowds of men pass through daily, and much use is made of the stationary Literature, and Games provided for their comfort. Concerts are held, Lantern Services and Voluntary services of all kinds. It’s a real “Godsend” to the boys.”

Subscriptions are still needed to supply the above Hut. And will be gratefully received by the Hon. Sec. Mr. Lane, 5/-

H.J. HINDERLEY, Hon. Sec.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, May 1917 (D/P96/28A/34)

Pray for God’s blessing on our cause and gallant men

Children and adults in Maidenhead were urged to pop in to the church in spare moments to pray for the troops.

War Shrine

On Whit-Sunday, May 27th, the beautiful little War Shrine presented and fixed by the St. Luke’s Branch of the C.E.M.S and one or two friends, was dedicated and unveiled by the Vicar at the Children’s Service…

It is hoped that many who pass by the Church will slip in, if but for two minutes and pray for God’s blessing on our cause and gallant men. The names of the Fallen are well and clearly written up by Mr. Habbin.

Any additions or corrections should be sent either to the Hon. Sec., Mr. E. Hazeldine, 5, College Rise, or to Mr. Habbin, 2 Fairford Road.

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

Torpedoed off Capetown

More War Savings Associations continued to flourish.

Bracknell

A War Savings Association has been started in connection with the C.E.M.S. sharing-out Club, and there are already about 50 members.

Warfield

Our War Savings Association is thriving; we now have 100 members, thanks to the energy and zeal of our Secretary and Treasurer.

We welcome the return of Mr. T. Bowyer, jun, who was one of the engineers on the Cilicia which was torpedoed off Capetown and now has got back safely to Warfield.

Winkfield District Magazine, April 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/4)

What we hope to do to welcome our returned soldiers on the conclusion of peace

The men’s group at St Luke’s, Maidenhead, was keen to welcome home our soldiers when the war came to an end.

The Church of England Men’s Society

An interesting Meeting of the C.E.M.S. was held on April 16th. The details of the War Shrine were gone into.

Dr Underhill gave us an interesting account of what a Committee, of which he is a member, hope to do to welcome our returned soldiers on the conclusion of peace. It was resolved to hold a meeting at an early date to go into the matter…

I may add that if any Parishioners, other than members of the C.E.M.S., wish to contribute to the War Shrine, they should communicate with Mr. Hazeldine, Hon. Sec., 5, College Rise. The C.E.M.S. does not want to be at all selfish in the matter, and would gladly welcome any gift from outside its own body.

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

It is impossible to forget the war

Yet more men went out from Earley.

C.E.M.S
It is impossible to forget the war, and once again the C.E.M.S. at St Peter’s is confronted with the exigencies of the national need for men. Mr Likeman is called to rejoin the Colours, and, for the third time since the war began, we have to appoint an Acting Hon. Secretary.

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES
The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:
George Neale, Alfred Coxhead, Kenneth Gordon, Reuben Murphy, Thomas Murphy, William Murphy, Jack Murphy, Albert Still, Alfred Still, Herbert Douglas, Horace Giles, William Wilder, Harold Ballard.

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

WOUNDED: Walter Samways, Percy Heath, Roby [sic?] Haslam.
SICK: Frank Masser, Frank Berry.
KILLED IN ACTION: William Bungay, Thomas Radbourne, Alfred Stroud.

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

A million sheets of notepaper

Reading St Giles Church of England Men’s Society had contributed to the well-being of soldiers at the front through the CEMS Huts.

The following letters have been received giving information concerning the Reading and Windsor C.E.M.S. Huts…

January 31st 1917

This is a large and important centre always well organized. The religious and social side of the work is everything that can be desired. We also have a tea room built in addition to the hut. This gives us more room. It is a most valuable hut being in the centre of many things: hundreds of letters are written daily, Services are not forgotten, and it is now being used by the Canadian Chaplain, the Canadian troops being quartered in that district.

Funds are now urgently required to enable the headquarters to supply the huts with the proper necessaries which is very large. The provision of stationary is a considerable matter and already the society has sent out about a million sheets of notepaper and 500,000 envelopes for the use in the forty huts in France, Flanders, Egypt, Malta, Salonika and England.

I am sure the members of S. Giles’ who contributed to the hut mentioned above will be glad to hear of its usefulness.

H.J. HINDERLEY Hon.Sec.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P96/28A/34)

A place of peace in the midst of war

A grateful soldier wrote to the members of Reading and Windsor Church of England’s Men’s Society regarding the recreation huts they sponsored close behind the front line.

The following letters have been received giving information concerning the Reading and Windsor C.E.M.S. Huts.

January 16th 1917
The hut is A.1. and beautifully fitted up. The General of the division is keenly interested in it, and a lovely little flower garden has been made all around it. It is a place of peace in the midst of War. Many a man has gone out finding new strength which has enabled him to stand the strain and ghastliness of trench Warfare. I am sure your members will feel it worth making sacrifices for such a result.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P96/28A/34)

No Socials in the present state of the war

The Maidenhead St Luke branch of a church men’s group decided to abandon their annual party for patriotic reasons.

Church of England Men’s Society

The Monthly Meeting was held on Jan. 8th in the Parish Room in the Vicarage. …

The Committee .. decided whether, in the present state of the War, the “Social” should be held. It was unanimously decided to give it up.

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

“Before the sun sets, the man whom you wish to help may have passed away from earth and from the reach of your help”

The Church of England Men’s Society helped support soldiers by their work (alongside similar organisations) providing places of rest and recreation behind the lines.

C.E.M.S.
S. Giles Branch

A Meeting of the branch will be held in the parish room, on Tuesday, December 12th at 8.30 p.m., to consider the report of the Annual Conference. Any member wishing to read the report before that meeting, I would be pleased to send a copy.

The Archbishop of York appeals for subscriptions for more huts for our troops. Lieut. Stanley, the agent in charge of the C.E.M.S. on the western front, speaking at the Manchester Conference, said,

“You as a society have provided a most noble work in providing huts at the front, a long chain of huts from Ypres in the north to the banks of the Somme in the south. You were asked to provide a sum of £12,000. Up to date, September 27th, you have provided £16,180. I am going to ask you to double those figures. We have been asked to supply 80 huts at once. The huts are essential. Do not delay. Before the sun sets, the man whom you wish to help may have passed away from earth and from the reach of your help.”

The President of the Reading federation, the Rev.F.J.C. Gillmor, will be pleased to receive subscriptions for the above, or may be sent to the hon. Secretary of the branch,

H.J. HILDERLEY, 65 Pell Street.

Reading St Giles parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P96/28A/33)

Cigarettes and chocolate for the troops – but not enough for all

The Harvest Festival at Wargrave Church gave the opportunity for parishioners to send gifts to the troops.

The Harvest Festival

The Harvest Festival will be held on Sunday, October 8th. The collections will as usual be divided between the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.

The sermons will be preached by the Vicar. Several invitations have been given to special preachers but all our friends have been obliged to decline owing to the present exceptional circumstances, shortness of staff and the approach of the National Mission.

Presents for Men at the Front

Gifts of Tobacco, Cigarettes and Chocolate will be gladly welcomed at the Harvest Festival as on the previous occasions during the war. These presents are not large in size when divided up into separate packets for all our men on the roll, but they are greatly appreciated as many letters testify. There seems no better plan than that adopted last year when small packets were made up, with a few lines of greeting in each, and given to relations to be enclosed in the next parcel from home.

The results were reported in the following issue of the parish magazine.

Presents for the Men at the Front

There was a goodly collection of Tobacco, Cigarettes, and Chocolate received at the Church and Mission buildings on the occasion of the Harvest Festival. The Church of England Men’s Society met and divided it all up into suitable packets, which have now been distributed. There was sufficient for some fifty parcels but not nearly enough to enable us to send something to everybody.

Perhaps we may be able to have another such collection at Christmas time so that we may show all the others that they are not forgotten. Or if there are any who would like to extend the list of recipients at once their gifts can be received at the Vicarage at any time and will be carefully distributed.

Wargrave parish magazine, October and November 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

Are we prepared for peace?

The Church of England Men’s Society in Earley was planning on taking a major role in the National Mission, and was already thinking ahead to the end of the war.

C.E.M.S.

A great deal of thinking and a great deal of work is being done in preparation for the National Mission and its application to the parish. A small but increasingly enthusiastic section of the membership continues to meet for discussion. In connection with the Mission an appeal has been drawn up and this, together with the paper on “Repentance”, is being delivered with a personal introduction to every house in the parish.

This branch desires to express its gratitude to the Vicar, Mr Edward Heelas and Mr Masser for donations to the expenses of the Mission campaign. The acting Hon. Secretary (Mr Keep) is now prevented by his Government duties from continuing his valuable services in his office, and his resignation was received with regret on the 24th August last….

The C.E.M.S. is expected to take an active part in preparing the nation for the coming Mission. We are also expected to take an active part in preparing the nation to receive our home-coming troops – after the war. Upon the Declaration of Peace, the “Men of the Church” must take up the Sword – the Sword of the Spirit of the Living God. Are we prepared?

Earley parish magazine, October 1916 (D/P191/28A/31/10)

“His life was too soon done”

A Cranbourne schoolmaster who had taken an active role in the life of the local church before joining the army was killed.

It is with the deepest regret we have to record the death of our friend, Private William Dowell.

He came to us in February, 1913, with a record of many examinations passed with honours and much more good work in former schools. He at once began to take an active part in our parochial life, proving himself a most loyal friend and helper to the Vicar. He was a regular communicant and taught in the Sunday School, and gained the sincere regard of the children. As leader of our “Study Circle” he distinctly made his mark, with great knowledge of the Bible, he spared no pains in preparing the subjects for discussion at the meetings of the circle; with great ability he started the discussions, and his summary of them in the minute book was a model of what such a record should be.

He joined under the Derby scheme on February 29th, 1916, and trained in the Wiltshires and was transported to the Somerset Light Infantry. We had hoped to see him back among us after the war, and it was a great shock to all of us to hear that he had been killed at the front on September 16th. We all, Teachers, Managers, Members of the C.E.M.S., Children and Vicar deeply mourn his loss. We will remember him always in our prayers.

R.I.P.

“To us it seemed his life was too soon done,
Ended, indeed, while scarcely yet begun;
God, with His clearer vision saw that he
Was ready for a larger ministry.”

Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, October 1916 (D/P151/28A/8/10)

A wish fulfilled

One of the men who had left Earley to join the Navy had been killed – the second in his family to be lost.

Our best wishes accompany Mr Sidesman W B Waters who, being called up, joined the 3/4 Royal Berkshires last month. His home activities in the CEMS and his church work as sidesman and principal cross bearer, will be missed. Our hope is the outdoor life may have a beneficial effect on his health which has not been robust these last few years.

In memoriam

The great battle in the North Sea took from this neighbourhood its toll of brave sailors. Among them Francis Harry Stevens, eldest son of Mr & Mrs F Stevens, whose second boy William David, gave his life in the attack at Loos on Sep. 25th last year. His brother Francis Harry who entered the Royal Navy as stoker was making rapid progress and shewing great proficiency in the engine room. Had he lived his promotion was secured. When he heard of his brother’s death he expressed the wish that he might too die for his country, and that wish has been fulfilled for him. His younger brother Arthur is with the Army in Egypt. We desire to express our respectful sorrow with his grief stricken parents and assure them that this parish will honour the memory of their sons.

Earley parish magazine, July 1916 (D/P192/28A/14)