Jerusalem taken by the British

The Community of John Baptist was pleased to hear that Turkish-ruled Jerusalem had been captured.

11 December 1917
News came that Jerusalem had been taken by British troops.
Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

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“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)

A priest called up for service as a chaplain

Magdalens were the ‘fallen women’ who had originally come to Clewer House of Mercy as Penitents. Most such women only stayed for two years before leaving for respectable jobs, but a few were inspired by the religious life and chose to take permanent vows similar to those of the full Sisters. Even their life was disrupted by the war.

20 November 1917
The Magdalens’ Retreat began, conducted by the Revd G B Budibent. The retreat had been postponed from the original date in October because the priest who was then to have taken it had been called up for service as Military Chaplain.

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

Photos of soldiers and sailors in a place of honour

A Clewer church made sure that the faces of its servicemen were immediately before worshippers.


St. Agnes’, Clewer

We shall welcome still more photos of Sailors and Soldiers to put up with those which are already up in our War Corner in the Church.

Please write the name on the front of the photos before sending them to me. Of those already up most are in uniform, but some in civilian clothes: some are small, some large, and some cut out from a family group: and any photograph that you have of them has a place of honour waiting for it with all the rest among the Flags of the Allies around the Symbol of the Great Sacrifice.

Clewer parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

A great air raid

The Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist were relieved not to have suffered at the hands of the latest air raid.

31 October 1917
News came of a great air raid by the Germans on the eastern counties & London. No damage done in any of our Houses in London or at Folkestone either to the Sisters and those in their care, or to property. D. G. [Deo gratias – thanks be to God].

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

A brave man’s death for his King and Country

A bellringer at St Andrew’s Church, Clewer, was the latest to be reported killed.

In Memoriam: Henry Wetherall. R.I.P.

We desire to express our heartfelt sympathy with Mrs. Wetherall, who has lost her husband at the Front. Henry Wetherall was one of our Bellringers, and we could ill afford to lose him.

The Chaplain has written: –

“Your husband was killed in his dug-out by a shell. I know what a blow this will be to you, but I pray that God may show you that even in this ‘all things work together for good to those who love Him.’ You have the pride and the joy of knowing that he died a brave man’s death for his King and Country. I buried him on September 8, in the little village of Boeringhe, in Belgium, in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to Eternal Life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. He was buried alongside of some of his Comrades, and the Police, to whom he belonged, have erected a Cross over his grave. May God comfort and bless you in your great need.

F. W. HEAD, Chaplain of the Guards Division.

Clewer parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

A great success from the Patriotic as well as the Social point of view

A concert encouraged Clewer people to invest their savings in government funds aimed at helping with the war effort.

St Agnes’, Clewer

There is no doubt that we all enjoyed ourselves thoroughly at our War Savings Concert on October 30, and it was a great success from the Patriotic as well as the Social point of view. What with the varied selection of popular songs, the wonderful execution of a pianist, and the telling speech in which Mr. Weston advocated the advantages gained for our Country and for ourselves by joining the War Savings Association, it was an out and out star-performance.

No less than six new members were enrolled then and there, and others have joined up since. Payments (6d. and upwards) are made at the Mission Room any Monday between 4 and 5 o’clock. when the Hon. Secretary will gladly give information to all who will take this splendid opportunity of helping those at the Front, and at the same time, getting a good return for our money which we can always have out at any time if we should want it.

Clewer parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

“Days & nights in water and mud is very trying”

An army chaplain reported on his experiences with men just back from the front lines for a short break.

19 October 1917

Mother received a letter from the Sub-Warden on the 17th inst. from which the following are extracts:

“We have just emerged from a very uncomfortable and strenuous time, & are resting in a little French village. The men are splendid, but it was heart-breaking to see them all getting out of the train which brought them straight from the front…

With considerable difficulty we managed to have thin blankets for them all to get into and fall asleep. Already food and rest have changed them wonderfully, & their poor feet are better. Days & nights in water and mud is very trying.

I shall never forget a Mass in a crowded dugout the day before they went in. Halfway through the service, 2 officers managed to slip into the doorway; there was no other spot. I remember them so well crouching in a very uncomfortable position, and shutting out all of what little light could get in. Only the 2 candles on the altar. They made their Communion. It was their Viaticum. GOD rest their souls!”

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

The Russians are giving in

Florence Vansittart Neale was depressed by the war news, both at home and abroad – and concerned about new food restrictions on sugar.

3 September 1917

Raids at Chatham & Sheerness – 107 sailors killed…

Mr Austman still here. All down about Riga gone. Russians giving in.

Wrote for sugar for jam!

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Meanwhile the Sub-Warden of Clewer House of Mercy was heading to France as an army chaplain.

3 September 1917

The Sub-Warden returned from Strensall Camp on short leave before reporting himself at the War Office previously to going to France.

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

Special services

The day after the anniversary was commemorated.

5 August 1917

Anniversary of the beginning of the war. Special prayers at the first selebration of the Holy Eucharist and at Mattins. “GOD Save the King” sung at Evensong.

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

5 August 1917

Special services for 4th [sic] anniversary of war.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

A chaplain begins his spiritual work in an army camp

The Community of St John Baptist heard how their former Warden was getting on as an army chaplain.

13 July 1917

Notice was sent that Mother had received news from the Sub-Warden of the beginnings of his spiritual work amongst the soldiers in Strensall Camp.

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

Flowers for the war shrines

Clewer people were placings flowers at the roadside memorials which had sprung up in the parish during the war.

St Agnes’, Clewer

Several people have asked whether they may take flowers for the War Shrines. Most certainly they may do so, and it is much hoped that they will, and specially those whose relatives have their names on these Rolls of Honour. The flowers should be taken to Mr. Pert or Mrs. Cornish, who have kindly taken charge of the Shrines, and who will be very glad to put any flowers in the boxes provided for them.

Clewer parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

‘How the words of a war memorial – “There shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying” – can be true in the face of present facts’

A war memorial was unveiled in Clewer.

St. Agnes’, Clewer

Our wayside Memorial of the Fallen, which was dedicated on July 4, appeals very strongly to those who have seen it. This is a great satisfaction to the many who have contributed towards it: and numbers from a distance who have passed by have been much struck by the beauty of the Figure. Several people, not connected with each other, and who have seen many another wayside Crucifix, have volunteered the remark “I have never seen such a beautiful Figure.”

We are most grateful to Canon Eliot for having come over to dedicate the Memorial, and on one of the wettest days too, that even this July has brought us: but providentially not so much as a drop of rain fell during the time of service, though it came on again immediately afterwards. So were the goodly company who mustered in honour of the Fallen rewarded for braving the elements: and it was cheering to have with us the Rector, the Warden of the House of Mercy, Mr. Warlow, and our other good friends.

Some have expressed wonder how the words over the Cross – “There shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying” – can be true in the face of present facts, thinking that the words apply to what ought therefore to be here and now. But they tell of what will be, not now, but hereafter when the Crucified shall come in the greatness of His glory: and the present widespread sorrow which death all around is bringing into so many homes makes the more striking that comforting truth, revealed by Jesus Christ after His triumphant return to His Own Home in Heaven, that the time is most surely coming when for ever this shall be no more. The record of this revelation by Jesus Christ to St. John, which took place in the year 96 on the island of Patmos, is Revelation XXI.4.

Others have asked the meaning of the letters “I.N.R.I.” on the scroll at the head of the Cross. So it may be a help to mention, in case any one else should not understand them, that they stand for “Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum,” which is the Latin for “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” The Letter “I” was in olden times used for “J”. If we look at St. John XIX, 20 and 21, we see that this title was written by Pilate over the Cross in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus, and the merits of His most sacred Passion, be between us and our enemies.

Clewer parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

“There could be no Memorial so fitting as this”

Two of the Anglican churches in Clewer were thinking about memorials for the war.

St. Andrew’s Parish Church, Clewer

We hope to have a Conference of Church Workers, Members of the Congregation and any others, men or women, who wish to attend, on Monday, June 25th, in the Clewer Hall, at 8 p.m. The main subject for discussion at this conference will be concerned with the War Memorial, which it is proposed should be erected in the Parish to commemorate those belonging to the Choir, Congregation and Parish who have fallen in the War. Also with regard to the special Memorial to be erected in the Parish Church.

The exact form of the Memorial in each case is a matter that requires careful consideration and it is of the utmost importance that whatever is decided upon should be in accordance with the general wishes of the Parishioners. The Rector has a very definite opinion of his own on the subject, but does not desire to express it, till he has heard what others have to say. It has therefore occurred to him that another Conference on the same lines as those recently held in connection with the National Mission, would be the best preliminary to any further action that may be taken. Of course, the Conference has no power of final decision; but at the same time, if it should lead to anything like a unanimous expression of opinion on either branch of the subject, that opinion will no doubt have a very decided influence on our future course of action. In the case of any memorial to be erected in the Church, a Faculty will have to be applied for through a Vestry Meeting specially called for the purpose. Without a Faculty, which expresses the sanction of the Bishop, acting through his Chancellor, nothing, not even a Brass Plate inscribed with the names of those commemorated, can be placed in the Church.

We trust the proposed Conference will awaken a good deal of interest; in fact we feel sure it will do so, considering the importance of the subject to be discussed, and its direct appeal to our personal feeling and patriotism.

St Agnes’, Clewer

I feel sure that there are many who will welcome the opportunity of giving something towards our Memorial of the Fallen from this Church and District – a large Figure of our Saviour on the Cross, with Statues of the Mother of Jesus and St. John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” – which is soon to be placed by the wayside in the garden by the Church. Such contributions are much desired, and it is hoped that they will be as generous as possible, and be sent to me as early as can conveniently be.

Everybody seems to agree that there could be no Memorial so fitting as this, which tells how God so loved the world that He gave His Only-Begotten Son: which tells of the breaking up of His Home on earth: and, in that “by His death He hath destroyed Death,” it tells of our reunion that is to come when “there shall be no more Death, neither sorrow, nor crying.” The latter words from the Book of Revelation of St. John will be in letters of gold on the front of the pent-roof.

Clewer parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

Beginning military service as a chaplain

The Community of St John Baptist said goodbye to their warden, who was starting his service as an army chaplain.

21 June 1917

The Sub-Warden went away to begin his military service as Chaplain at Strensall Camp near York. The 7 am celebration [of Holy Communion] was at the High Altar followed by the Travellers’ Service.

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