“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)

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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)

Meat now easier to obtain


The food situation was becoming a little easier.


9 June 1917

The Sub-Warden received orders on the 5th June to report himself to Strensall Camp, York, on the 21st inst.

Instructions have been received with regard to mails to India, which are now to go fortnightly instead of weekly. The first mail under the new system will leave here June 13.

Notice was given that, owing to meat being now easier to obtain, the 2nd meatless day in the week would be given up.

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

An extraordinary state of affairs

The vicar of Dedworth was a little miffed to be turned down for service as an army chaplain.


All Saints’, Dedworth

Since the publication of last month’s Magazine, I have heard that the Chaplain General cannot offer me a Chaplaincy. I understand that this is the fate of the majority of Priests who are recommended to the Chaplain General by their various Bishops. It seems to be an extraordinary state of affairs, however, I am sure the regular worshippers at All Saints’ will be much relieved, not because they would miss me personally, but because they would be sorry to be deprived of the usual number of Services.

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

Mercifully preserved from an air raid

The Clewer-based Commnity of St John Baptist had a big convalescent home in Folkestone on the Kent coast, and also did mission work in the town. They faced the danger of an air raid in May 1917.

25 May 1917

A bad air raid took place at Folkestone in the evening. About 60 killed and many more injured. Our 3 houses, and all our Sisters, patients & workers mercifully preserved from any injury, for which special thanksgiving was made afterwards at the altar.

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

No unnecessary travelling

Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist had their holidays constricted by the financial effects of the war, and the order’s chaplain offered himself to work with the troops.

11 May 1917

Notice sent to all the [daughter] Houses that in consequence of directions issued by Government that there should be no unnecessary travelling, and also because of the increased expense of journeys, the rests must not be broken up, but each Sister must take hers all at the same time, and so far as possible in one place.

The Chaplain has been accepted as Military Chaplain, and may be called up for service abroad or in England any time after the 15th inst.

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

Promoting the economical use of foods

The Education Committee was at the forefront of war savings schemes locally. School were also to be used to promote changes in people’s habits with regards to food and cookery given the food shortages resulting from the war.

Report of Berks War Savings Committee

The War Savings Committee submit the following report of their work since the report to the July meeting of the Education Committee:

In accordance with the powers given to them on appointment, the following additional members have been co-opted:

Mr G F Slade
Mr T Skurray

During July and August last… Local Committees for War Savings came into being at Abingdon, Windsor and Maidenhead. Since that date, as a result of public meetings addressed by Miss Fraser of the National War Savings Committee and the Education Secretary, Local Committees have been started at Pangbourne, Thatcham, Newbury, Wallingford, Bracknell, Hungerford and Wokingham. Up to the 31 March, War Savings Associations have been established under the control of these Local Committees as follows:

Abingdon, with 6 Associations

Wallingford, 15 Associations

Pangbourne, 4 Associations

Hungerford, 7 Associations

Newbury, 15 Associations

Thatcham, 5 Associations

Wokingham, 13 Associations

Windsor

Maidenhead, 32 Associations

Bracknell, 13 Associations

As a general rule, these local committees deal only with their immediate areas, but efforts are being made by the National War Savings Committee to secure the extension of their activities to the surrounding parishes; e.g. the Associations of Marcham and Moulsford are affiliated to the Abingdon and Wallingford Local Committees respectively, and the War Savings Associations at the Cookham, Alwyn Road Council School, and Clewer S. Stephen’s School are affiliated to the Maidenhead and Windsor Local Committees respectively, whilst the Earley CE School War Savings Association is affiliated to the Reading Central Committee.

The Associations in connexion with Windsor Castle and the Broadmoor Asylum are affiliated directly with the National Committee.

The number of War Savings Associations (in addition to the above) in the Rural Parishes formed up to the 31 March, is 56; at least one half of these are in connexion with the schools….

The average amount saved by each Association during the quarter January to March, 1917, is £217. These figures do not include the grouped Associations, and relate only to the smaller Rural Associations, where the opportunities to save are less than in the larger centres of population.

The Berks Teachers’ Association officials in January consented to help in the work, and have been successful in arousing and maintaining interest in the movement. Messrs Camburn, James and Fryer, in particular, have done most valuable service.

The National War Savings Committee have been invited by the Ministry of Food to assist in the Food Economy Campaign, and the Berks War Savings Committee have had before them the Central Committee’s suggestions for Local Authorities and War Savings Committees, and in conjunction with the School Management Sub-committee, they have approved the arrangements embodied in the following memorandum:

FOOD CAMPAIGN

The Food Controller, in conjunction with the National War Savings Committee, has suggested that “Under the auspices of the Education Authorities a Conference might be called in every area with a view to enlisting the enthusiastic support and active help of teachers. In the case of ordinary schools, the children will form a means of securing the interest of the parents, and invitations to meetings and special classes can be issued through them. The Domestic Science teachers will be wanted to take charge of such classes.

After consultation with HM Inspector, the following preliminary Scheme has been drafted:

That the Instructresses be instructed to modify their syllabus with a view:

To promote the economical use of foods of which there is an available supply in the locality.

To prepare specimen menus for family use based on the above, with notes on the quantities required to give a proper diet.

To arrange to have the cooked meals on view after the lessons, so that the mothers can see them and ask questions.

To confer with the Head Teachers of the neighbouring schools as to the best way of spreading useful information among the parents of children not in attendance at the Centres, either by inviting visits which could be regarded as object lessons or by co-operating in drawing up a scheme for simple instruction in the schools.

It is to be noted that:

While it is important to keep the full record of all meals and their cost, it is not to be expected that the employment of substitutes will effect any substantial saving in cost, as the price of substitutes must rise as the standard foods become scarce.

It is most important to give guidance as to the feeding of children, as in some families there may be a tendency to reduce the food value of their meals.

Where milk is obtainable, it will be very useful to emphasise its uses in cookery.

It is hoped to hold a conference as soon as the Instructresses have drawn up their Scheme, and it is most important that the scheme should be prepared as soon as possible.

This Conference was held on the 20th April and the preliminary steps have been already taken to start work.

Report of Education Finance Sub-committee

The Sub-committee have arranged with certain employees on Military Service, who were receiving allowances from the Committee, to invest on their behalf part of their allowances in War Savings Certificates.

Reports to Berkshire Education Committee, 28 April 1917 (C/CL/C1/1/20)

Not strong enough for military service

The Sub-Warden of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer, decided to take a curate’s job to allow a younger, stronger clergyman to serve as an army chaplain.

13 April 1917

The Revd G H Warlow, who had offered himself for National Service, has arranged to go back as curate to his old parish (Bury Lane) to take the place of the curate who is now an Army Chaplain, Mr Warlow himself not being strong enough for military service.

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

‘I may have to “join up” at any time now’

The curate at Dedworth had applied for service as an army chaplain.

All Saints’, Dedworth

The Rector warned you last month that owing to the call the Country is making upon able-bodied men for National Service, a member of this staff might be withdrawn from Parish work which would mean the cutting down of the number of Services held in the Parish.

Since that date I have been recommended by the Bishop of the Diocese to the Chaplain General as an Army Chaplain, and have also had some correspondence with the latter. It is therefore possible that I may have to “join up” at any time now, or on the other hand nothing may come of these negotiations.

But if the former be the case we hope to make arrangements for at least an early Celebration of the Holy Communion every Sunday and a sung Evensong at All Saints. The Sung Eucharist would have to be given up for the time being. Should these changes come to pass I do most earnestly hope that you will make real use of the opportunities for worship offered you, and do your utmost to “keep things going” until, please God, I return.

Clewer parish magazine (D/P39/28A/9)