“We could hardly realise that our popular Big Drummer would never return to help us again”

Teenage boys from Earley had the fun of a camp dispelled by sad news of old friends who had gone to the Front.

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE AND SCOUTS

We had a most enjoyable time on the School journey in spite of the weather. A very full account is being published in the “Reading Observer”, and we are hoping that Mr Albert Smith will be able to spare the time to come and give us a Lantern Lecture describing our travels, so we shall not enter into details now. Several of the Cadets and two more Scouts joined us at Hungerford when we spent a most delightful four days, everyone showing us the greatest kindness.

The news of the death of our late Staff-Sergeant George Maskell came as a great shock to us on our return, and we could hardly realise that our popular Big Drummer would never return to help us again. We had a Memorial Service after Matins on Sunday, August 12th, some of our friends from St Giles’ and St John’s Companies joining us for the Parade Service and staying to the Memorial Service. We offer our deep sympathy to the relations and friends of one whom we all loved – RIP.

On going to press we have just heard of the death of another of our CLB Staff Sergeants, John Parker. Jack was one of our very keenest and best CLB workers and we shall miss him terribly. We offer our deepest sympathy to his mother and other relations and friends. RIP.


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

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“All right, now mind all you – will attend the next – parade”

Back in the UK as he undertook officer training, Percy Spencer was amused by a sergeant particularly keen on ensuring religious observance.

July 29, 1917
My dear WF

Sunday, and if there could have been any doubt about it, this was settled by the burly orderly sergeant who appeared in our hut at 9.50 am and in stentorian tones demanded all Nonconformists on parade. Nobody moving, he added. “All right, now mind all of you – will attend the next – parade, C of E. Doesn’t matter a – what you are. Understand?” and I’ve no doubt he sings hymns beautifully.

There are strong rumours that we should be away from here by Friday next at latest. But I have nothing definite to go upon.

If I get 3 or 4 days I shall run up to London and get my kit together. Here I have nothing but army clothes. At the cadet school I shall want quite a lot of civilian things I have.

I am writing on the front at Abergele, a very quiet little place, charmingly situated north of St Ormes Head. On Tuesdays we come here to bathe – a great privilege but rather spoilt by the march here which the officer who takes us tries to do at 150 paces a minute, a frightful step.

I’ve heard from Will this week. He seems very well and still deep in the heights of mountains and size of lakes.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer to his sister Florence Image (D/EZ177/7/6/58-61)

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)

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 spiritual welfare of those who are so ready to give their lives in the great cause

Reading churchgoers were asked to contribute towards the cost of building a chapel at the closest army camp.

The Vicar’s Notes
Best greetings and blessings to all the parish for the New Year. There seem to be real signs at last of the prospect of peace. God grant that, when it comes, it may be real and lasting.

The Following Appeal comes from the Bishop of Buckingham.

Halton Camp.

With the approach of winter the problem of holding the church parade Services for this large camp has become acute. The accommodation provided by the Churches in the immediate neighbourhood, and by the Y.M.C.A. huts (which are readily lent for the purpose, and which are doing such excellent work), is quite insufficient for the purpose. With the present accommodation it would require many more parades than are possible every Sunday to take in all the troops attending Church.

It is proposed therefore to erect a large wooden building capable of holding 1,000 to 1,500 men, such has been found suitable in other large camps. The primary objective would be to make provision for the Church services during the winter, but the building would also be available for other purposes. It is estimated that the cost of such a building would be £1,000. Voluntary help would be given by qualified architects among the troops and Royal Engineers.

This is the only large camp in the Diocese of Oxford, and we feel that the Church people of the Diocese will be desirous of showing their interest in the spiritual welfare of those who are so ready to give their lives in the great cause by making by making a prompt and adequate answer to this appeal. It is most desirable that the matter should be put in hand at once, before the severe weather sets in.

The scheme has the hearty approval of the General Officer Commanding and the Bishop of Oxford and the Bishop of Buckingham.

Subscriptions will be thankfully received by the Senior Chaplain, the Rev. P.W.N. Shirley, Halton Camp, Bucks, or by the Bishop of Buckingham, Beaconsfield.

Sympathy

During the past month there has been an exceptional amount of sickness and a large number of deaths. Our deepest sympathy is given to all those who have suffered the loss of those near and dear to them. May the divine comforter bring them every consolation and support in their time of sorrow.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P96/28A/15)

“This is a time when every man, who is not otherwise serving, should join this force”

The Volunteer Training Corps was a home defence militia for older men – a precursor to the “Dad’s Army” Home Guard of the Second World War.

We were pleased to welcome at Church Parade the Officers and Men of the Newbury Company of the 2nd Battalion of the Berks Volunteer Regiment [sic], on the 3rd [December 1916]. This is a time when every man, who is not otherwise serving, should join this force. The volunteers may yet have a very important part to play in the war.

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

“A rotten job”

More news about the impact of the war in British India and also independent Iran comes from the missionary sponsored by St John’s Church, Reading.

EXTRACTS FROM A LETTER TO THE VICAR FROM THE REV. A.I. KAY, dated June 1st, 1916.

Miss Biggs left Amritsar on April 2nd and according to the newspapers the British party reached Ispahan [now Isfahan, Iran] on May 16th and received a great ovation and welcome from the Russians and the populace. It was a very plucky thing for Miss Biggs and Miss Stuart to return so soon to Ispahan, and it was with considerable anxiety that their friends watched their return. However, their safe arrival has justified their confidence and although no other Persian Missionaries are returning to Persia from the Punjab at present, yet events in Persia seem to be going against the Germans and Turks and before long we hope the whole country will once again be open to Missionary work…

I must not close without referring to what is after all my main work now. At the beginning of April I became Acting Chaplain once again for Amritsar. I enjoy this work very much though the hot weather is not a time when a padre’s heart may be rejoiced by large congregations. Instead of getting the soldiers to Church for the Parade Service we arrange Services in the Barracks and the Fort, and early on Sunday mornings there is a good turn-out of men in shirt sleeves, who take a hearty share in the short Services.

I have the greatest admiration for the present garrison troops in India. They are on a rotten job; they would all like to be at the Front; instead they have to put up with a monotonous life which is at times made well nigh intolerable by the heat. In Amritsar a detachment of the 23rd Batt[alion] of the Rifle Brigade is stationed at present. They are all old men, most of them with sons at the Front; some of them over 50 and a few over 60 years of age. When the men come back from war, I hope the garrison troops of India will march side by side with the men from the Front, for many of them have suffered and some have died.

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

“Every man in uniform (or in bits, alas)”

Maysie Wynne-Finch wrote to her brother Ralph from her temporary home in Windsor, with more details of the tragic accident which killed their friend Desmond FitzGerald (1888-1916). Desmond was the younger brother and heir apparent of the Duke of Leinster, Ireland’s leading peer, a mentally ill bachelor. Youngest brother Edward (1892-1976), who eventually succeeded to the title in 1922, had rashly married a chorus girl. Maysie had also recently met a number of friends on leave. Their mother Lady Mary Glyn also wrote to Ralph with the story of a new recruit.

March 20/16
Elgin Lodge
Windsor

My darling R.

Yes wasn’t Desmond [FitzGerald]’s death tragic. He’s a real loss from every point of view, it seems too one of those ghastly unnecessary things. The RC parson – one Lane Fox, incidentally poor General Pereira’s brother in law, he is too, was playing about with these bombs. Some say it was his fault, others a pure accident no one could have avoided, but the thing went off, killing Desmond & 2 or 3 men, & wounded others including young Nugent, a desperate body wound. He’s had a fearful operation, but they say will live. The wretched man himself has had ½ his face blown away & ½ his hand. A gastly [sic] thing. Poor old Freddy. They say master Edward is already bitterly regretting his wife who is a perfect terror & drinks. However I doubt her letting him divorce her now that he must be a Duke. It’s too dreadful.

We went to London for Sat night & to the Hippodrome. Really a funny show. Harry Tate being sea-sick too priceless, it nearly makes one sick too. Rather to my surprise we met Arthur & Amy there. He went back yesterday after a week’s special leave, he looks ill… We also saw old Wisp. He looks pretty well & I saw no signs of the lost stone – which he’s reported to have lost as a result of Flu – but he’s got 6 weeks leave, which is nice for him. John saw Jerry Sturt yesterday. Poor boy – he’s no better apparently, though they still say he will be. He can’t even stand yet though. He showed John an interesting letter he’d had from Beeky. In it he says the French at Verdun put all their Colonial troops in front & their losses were heavy, also at the 1st push they ran, which gave that 1st small Hun advance, but since then they have been alright. He also said Master Bosch used no gun smaller than a 5 pt 7 during all that fighting – no one seems to know why, unless to save their smaller ammunition for the “advance”.

(more…)

Whizz! Bang! Life is too dangerous under fire to be pleasant

An army chaplain with links to Stratfield Mortimer wrote to the vicar with more news of his work in France. He was now right at the Front in constant danger.

25th Brigade,
8th Division, B.E.F.
22nd February, 1916.

Dear Vicar,

With much regret I have had to leave my work at Wimereux to come ‘up the line’ right to the battle front to minister to two battalions of regulars of the 1st Army – one from our own county. And also to look after the patients at an advanced Field Ambulance. I am now continuously in the danger zone, and my work takes me into the trenches, and to the reserve billets just behind the lines. I spent a week with the General at Brigade Headquarters, but now have a billet of my own nearer the hospital, but still under shell fire, indeed my room is rather unpleasantly situated, being just between the railway station, a large ordnance workshop, and a battery of 6-in. guns, all of which are being constantly shelled. Last Sunday afternoon I was lying down for half-an-hour after a strenuous morning – a Celebration and four Parade Services, all at different places – when twelve shells roared over my billet, I could tell by the noise and vibration that they were fairly low down, so thought I had better get a move on. I had just stepped into the street when whizz! bang!! and a 4.9 shell burst almost under my nose, making a huge hole in the roadway, and bowling over two Frenchmen who were passing – fortunately for me the whole force of the explosion was away from me, so I escaped without a scratch, but it was a near thing! A little further along another shell dropped, while overhead 16 aeroplanes were straffing [sic] one another, and as some of us were gazing upwards watching the fighting a Bosche let loose two bombs which exploded with a terrific noise near by, but didn’t hurt anyone. They were shelled out of the hospital, which has been evacuated, and the patients taken to a farm further back. A man was being operated on when a shell burst over the roof of the building, and patient, doctor and sisters were smothered with glass and debris, but none were badly hurt.

This sort of thing goes on more or less every day, and the noise of the guns is hardly ever out of one’s ears. I am continually in the saddle and often get into warm places, one never knows where the shells are going to drop next, so it is little use trying to dodge them. Nearer the lines one has to go on foot, and it is well to go along with an eye open for grassy hollows into which to tumble if a shell comes too close or the bullets begin to fly around. The other day a Colonel, with his 2nd in Command, found themselves in the way of a shell and promptly rolled into a ditch by the roadside, unfortunately, it was full of water, and very cold, and they rather regretted they hadn’t taken their chances of being blown into a warmer clime.

Life is very rough and comfortless up here, but there are opportunities for us which make it all worth while, and certainly the Padres always find a warm welcome from both officers and men. I hold services wherever and whenever I can – in barns and dug-outs and tumbledown houses, often with the guns booming and shells falling all around. Funerals are the worst part of our duties – apart from the sadness of them, there is always a most unpleasant amount of risk as the cemeteries are close to the lines and often very exposed – we wait for nightfall when possible, but often they have to be taken in broad daylight and in full view of the Huns’ observers. Life is very exciting and interesting, but too dangerous and nerve-racking to be pleasant. I often wish myself back in the comparative security and quiet of Wimereux.

I mustn’t close without a word about the Cinematograph. I spent a couple of days of my week’s leave in buzzing around the cinema firms, got the whole apparatus together and brought it out with me on the leave boat, by special permission of the War Office. It should be in full swing by now, but I haven’t yet had word to that effect from my successor at the Hut at Wimereux. I applied for permission to remain till I had it all fixed up and working, but was told that senior men were badly needed at the front, so felt I couldn’t press my claim.

With best wishes to all friends at Mortimer.
Yours very sincerely,
W.S. Bowdon, C.F.

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

“The men are thoroughly in earnest”

The villagers of Knowl Hill were contributing to the war effort in various ways.

Knowl Hill

Collections for the Waifs and Strays Society on Christmas Day and the 26th.

Ought we not to try earnestly to make as good a present of ourselves to our Lord in Holy Eucharist at Christmas, and thus shew we greatly value the new Birth for mankind, which was so greatly needed: The Incarnate Son of God – once a Waif and Stray.

The Waifs and Strays Society is doing excellent work for Orphans of Soldiers killed in the war.

Berkshire Volunteer Defence Reg: Maidenhead Battalion, Littlewick and Knowl Hill Section

The drills in connection with the above have been very well attended and the men are thoroughly in earnest in their work. On the 8th and 22nd November paraded with the Battalion at Maidenhead to proceed to Didcot to assist in loading and unloading the railway trucks at the A.O.C. Depot there. A Church Parade was held on the 15th and was well attended. The section is still open for recruits.

Drills. Wednesday, 7 Recruits
7.30 Section
Thursday 8.15 Section

Knowl Hill Church Lads’ Brigade

The usual drills have been held but have not been very well attended.

The Church Parade to Knowl Hill was only poorly attended on account of the weather; the one to Littlewick Church was fairly well attended.

It is hoped that the drills will be more regularly attended even if the nights are dark.

It is thought possible to change the Company into a Cadet Corps still under the government of the C.L.B.

Mr Butterworth will be glad to receive the names of all the men of the Parish serving, wounded, missing, etc., so that a complete list may be drawn up for Roll of Honour.

Wargrave parish magazine, December 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

A real spirit of reverence: an army chaplain’s first Sunday at the Front

T Guy Rogers, former vicar of Reading St John, wrote back to his former parishioners to describe his new life as an army chaplain.

EXTRACT FROM A LETTER FROM Mr. ROGERS.

Dec. 6th

…My first Sunday at the front… I had several strenuous days trying to make arrangements, sometimes riding up and down a street or locality for about half an hour, trying to find a particular headquarters, or officer. My job was to arrange services for all units of the Division (as far as was humanly possible!) – quartered in my particular neighbourhood- the place where the dressing station is. That meant not only for my own Brigade (such part of it as would be out of the trenches) but engineering sections, pioneers, machine gunners, artillery and anything in the way of Divisional troops round me. No one seems to have had the job before, as the Guards have only recently come here. At any rate I was left to sink or swim. However, all my arrangements came through and I had a successful Sunday…

I started off at 8 a.m., with my servant, both walking, carrying communion bag, robes, hymn-books for the congregation etc. After about 20 minutes we reached a big barn, in the loft of which I was to take a parade service, followed by a celebration for a company of Engineers. When I arrived, men were sleeping and dressing, hanging up their clothes and sitting by the braziers making their breakfasts.
It was really rather an awful moment, but we soon got a fatigue party to sweep up the place. I got some forms, rather dirty I’m afraid, and fenced them round a rough table for communion rails; put on a white tablecloth and got ready. The bunks were pushed well back and we got a clear space, though rather a wet one, in the centre. Then the officers came in and we had a very happy little parade service of about 30 or 40. Everybody stood all the time. Of course we had no instrument but some of the men started some of the well known hymns. This was service number one. Then I took a short form of celebration for about 7 or 8. The surroundings were very odd, but there was a real spirit of reverence. (more…)

Kashmir prays for British success

The parishioners of Reading St John had the chance to hear from three very different men affected by the war: their old vicar, Guy Rogers, serving as an army chaplain in France; a last letter from a young man in the army; and a view from the Empire.

The following is an extract from a letter received from the Vicar just as the Magazine goes to press:-

I am taking charge of the military church at the top of the hill and will live at the back of it as they do here, with an Army Scripture Reader as my curate. The room has to be furnished with a camp bed and shelves. There is nothing but the bare boards. I am getting camp carpenters to work to make a bed and shelves. I must rake up a table cloth if I can, and a few pictures and hangings for walls to make the place home-like. The we are going to turn the end of the church into a Reading Room for the soldiers. Would anyone undertake to collect a good supply of illustrated and weekly papers and send them regularly? The church has been built by subscriptions from home and belongs not to government but to us.

OUR OWN MISSIONARY
A letter has been received by the Vicar from the Rev. A. I. Kay, extracts from which we have permission to print:

[Kay had been on holiday in Kashmir]

I used to think New Zealand was the most beautiful country in the world, but it will have to take second place now to Kashmir…

On Friday (the Mohammedan Sabbath) I was amazed to see all the people pouring into Hazratbal all the morning… It looked like market day and there were crowds of people about. Most of them were praying in front of the Mosque… One was glad to think that one of the things they pray for is the victory of the British arms.

LETTER FROM THE FRONT.

There is a pathetic interest in this letter, as Lance-Corporal Bushell was killed in the advance just after its receipt:-

We have had two Church Parades since we arrived and I have enjoyed them very much. The first was the better of the two. It was absolutely the best Service I have had the pleasure to attend, for the Chaplain seemed to speak right to your heart, and I don’t believe any man on parade missed a word that he said, and from all sides the men were heard to say that they thoroughly enjoyed it, and for myself I hope I hear some more services like it before the time comes for me to meet my Maker….

I wish I had been confirmed when you offered me the chance, and I have regretted it many a time, and I wish I had remembered that old saying: ‘Never put off till to-morrow what can be done to-day.’ I am going to try and see our Chaplain and see if it can be arranged, for I think it can be at certain times when the Bishop is in our part.

W.BUSHELL.

Dear old Bushell! He was one of our very best at the Ronald Palmer Lads’ Club.

Reading St John parish magazine, November 1915 (D/P172/28A/24)

A service in a cornfield: more impact than churches at home

Soldiers from Reading St John (the Newtown area) reported on their experiences in a selection of letters home, while those left behind continued making clothes and bandages for the wounded.

Letters from the front

“I was hoping to be able to see a good deal of Missionary work while out here but it is hardly possible for us Tommies to do so. Jubbulpore [now Jabalpur] is a purely native city of about 90,000 inhabitants and is 3 miles away from the Cantonments, but it is out of bounds for the troops…

Some months back I went over the compound of a training school for native teachers. This is in the European quarter and is supported by an American Church. Practically all the students were married and had families; each family had its own ‘house’ consisting of two small muttie built rooms. Of course I couldn’t talk to them, neither could they understand me, so it was not so interesting as otherwise it might have been, and again a soldier in uniform is about the last person in the world to get the slightest confidence from a native…
F.T.”

“We have just come from Church Parade; the Chaplain that takes it is a fine fellow. We had the service in a corn-field. He preached a fine sermon. The men take a lot more notice out here than what they did in England. In all the villages and towns that you go through on the march you see the Image of Christ on the Cross in cemeteries and places on the wall, some life-size and some smaller; the people here are very religious but nearly all are in black. There are only women and children, very few men about. We have been in the firing line, but are now resting in a small village a short way behind. We are expecting to go back very shortly….
J. Pym.”

THE HORTICULTURAL SHOW
One of our keenest exhibitors now serving in the trenches writes:

“Fancy they are not going to have a show at St John’s this year. I suspect they have not got any one to take the Prize money away now I am not there!”

“CARE AND COMFORTS” WORKING PARTY
Further subscriptions received: Mr Peto 5/-; Mrs Peto 5/-. Fewer articles have been sent to the Depot during September as our All Day Working Party [for missionaries] claimed one Wednesday, and, for the time being, there was not the demand. The following, however, were sent: nightshirts, 6; bed jackets, 6; many-tailed bandages, 10; locker and tray cloths, 15; face washers, 40; slippers, 3 pairs; socks, 2 pairs; bed socks, 1 pair; total with those already sent, 890.

Reading St John parish magazine, October 1915 (D/P172/28A/24)

Two bugles and a drum

The semi-military boys’ group, the Church Lads’ Brigade, was doing well in Wargrave.

The following report on the Church Lads Brigade has been sent for publication:

The usual routine has been somewhat interfered with during the month because of the outbreak of fever. The Church Parades have been as usual, but only fairly well attended. There has been no Bible Class. The Company has now received the two bugles and a drum.

Wargrave parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P145/28A/31)

Both sides are thoroughly weary of the war

The Newbury parish magazine reports a wearied mood regarding the war. Little did they know how much more they would have to endure.

The War still goes on, and it would be true to say that both sides are thoroughly weary of it. Still we must try to be patient, and trust in persevering prayer, not that we may attempt to make our will prevail, but in order that we may bring ourselves and our Nation to a right state of mind, and that means a state of penitence and of love for God. And let us trust Him to work His Purposes out in His own wide way. The services on August 4th were pretty well attended, there being 59 communicants at the Celebrations, but we must keep on praying and must be very regular at our devotions, both private and public.

The War Litany continues to be said at the Church on Thursdays at noon, and we should like to see more present there, and at the Celebrations during the week, which afford a special opportunity for intercession. There is also a weekly litany at St Hilda’s Mission Room on Tuesday nights at 8 pm, at which we have a small but regular congregation.

We are having just now a congregation of 300 or more men at our Church Parade Service, and the SPCK Soldiers’ Service Books, authorised for use by the Chaplain General, have been kindly lent us by Major C Abbot-Brown, Commanding ASC. It is grand to see so many men together at Church.

The Rector has had another letter from Mr Streatfeild at the Front: he is not allowed to publish these, but may say that they give interesting details of a Chaplain’s work – and they may remind us that the Clergy at the Seat of War, as well as the men whom they serve, stand in constant need of our prayers in their all-important duties. The last letter was written “under a waggon shelter waiting for the rain to stop”.

We should like to express our sincerest sympathy with Mrs S Payne of 2 Bartholomew Place, in the very severe loss of two of her sons through the war. A third son has been badly wounded, and a fourth has been given a Commission, while she has also two step-sons serving. In addition to this Mr S Payne himself has gone out to the seat of war to dig trenches. This is a remarkable record of loyalty, and well worthy of imitation.

We are glad to know that the Soldiers’ Club at St George’s continues to flourish, and is much appreciated by the men who use it, as is shown by the gratitude which they express personally, and in letters after they have left. At the Church Parade Service one Sunday a collection was made for the expenses of the Club.

Newbury parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P89/28A/13)