The Church Lads’ Brigade dons khaki

The April issue of the Reading St John parish magazine touched on various war related matters: insurance against air raids, news from army chaplain T Guy Rogers, and the Church Lads’ Brigade which got teenage boys training in preparation for joining up when they were old enough.

INSURANCE OF THE PARISH PROPERTIES AGAINST DAMAGE BY AIRCRAFT

The vicar and churchwardens have thought it right in the interest of the parish to insure the churches and other parochial buildings against the above risks.

The cost of insurance is £26 12s 6d, and it is an expense which the ordinary funds are unable to meet.

An appeal is therefore made to the members of the congregations for donations to meet this special expenditure. These may be sent either to the vicar or churchwardens, or placed in the church boxes.

THE REV. T. GUY ROGERS

Friends are asked to note that Mr Rogers’ address is now 2nd Guards Brigade, BEF. By the time this issue of the magazine is in print the men Mr Rogers is ministering to will be back in the trenches, and their Chaplain living once more in a dug-out, somewhere in the second or third line. We were rejoiced to hear that twenty-three of the men had been confirmed, and we must remember these brave fellows continually in our prayers, asking that they may be given grace to witness a good confession for Christ, and to stand firm against all temptations which may beset them. Nor shall we forget to pray that our friend himself may be preserved amid all the dangers of his work, and may have the great joy of seeing many more men coming forward to confess Christ in Confirmation.

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE

The CLB has just reached a great epoch in its history, in that its members have donned khaki. It may not be generally known that the local CLB Battalion, of which our Company forms part, is recognized by the War Office as a Cadet Battalion under the Territorial Association.

In the Battalion Drill Competition, St John’s Company came out second with 186 marks out of a possible 200.

Just at present our numbers are small as many have left us to join the Colours, and we shall be glad to welcome prospective recruits if they will turn up at the Institute at 8.15 p.m. on any Monday evening. There must be many boys in the parish of 13 years and upward who ought to join, and do their best to maintain the traditions of St John’s Company.

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

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A more serious view of life when facing death

Some wounded soldiers recuperating at Stratfield Mortimer made a religious commitment. The Right Reverend Charles Corfe (1843-1921) was the retired Anglican Bishop of Korea, and had previously spent 20 years as a Naval chaplain.

A Soldier’s Confirmation

Four of the wounded in our V.A.D. Hospital, having been prepared for Confirmation by the Vicar during many weeks, and the probability of their departure, convalescent, before the arranged date of the usual Confirmation rendering it necessary for some immediate step to be taken, a special service was arranged at a moment’s notice, Bishop Corfe most kindly coming from London for the purpose on Monday, February 28th. Unfortunately it was not possible to make the service known, as the Bishop’s wire was only received during the morning. The congregation consequently was small, but it was a most impressive service: first, the Baptism of one of the wounded and one of our own lads (the Vicar officiating), and then the Laying-on of Hands by Bishop Corfe on the five persons.

Two days later a special Holy Communion Service was held at the Parish Church at 8 a.m., when the newly confirmed men received the Blessed Sacrament together before going on leave.

The whole thing is one more token of the more serious view of life and its responsibilities which is felt by those who are called upon to face death at any moment in the war.

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

Lives complete in self-sacrifice

A naval and army chaplain with links to Windsor reports on his experiences at Gallipoli ad in Egypt. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he was open to learning from the non-white and non-Christian peoples he encountered, and respected the Turks as an honourable enemy.

The Vicar has received the following letter from Mr Everett:

Hospital Ship “Asturias”
Alexandria
February 1st, 1916

My dear Vicar

Since I last wrote I have seen so much, and gathered so many new impressions, that I find it difficult to decide what to write, and what to leave out. I have been several times through the Aegean Sea, either from Malta or Alexandria, on my way to Lemnos, the Gallipoli Peninsula, or Salonica [sic], from which places we, of course, brought back sick and wounded…

What thoughts are produced by Mount Olympus – hoary Olympus – once believed of men the home of the greater Gods! There, standing lofty and snowcapped, it has looked down through the ages on the surrounding country and the Gulf of Salonica. What has it seen in the past, and what now! Then, men seeking an unknown God in their own way, making wars, too, or carrying on their simple business, or cultured lives, on land and sea; using their frail ships with their banks of oars, or driven by contrary winds, and now, watching the great ships go by, battle cruisers and hospital ships (two strange contrasts), huge transports for the gathering of armies, and busy torpedo boats, all more or less independent of storm and tempest, and defeating space with their wireless installations.

But my pen has run away with me over my fascinating travels, nd I must turn to twentieth century history. The Dardanelles campaign is over, but I am not likely to forget my brief visits to Anzac Beach or Cape Helles; nor will those splendid men of all ranks, who spent months there and at Suvla Bay, under conditions which are well known. At Cape Helles I was sometimes ashore, and went over ground once held by fire and sword. It would take too long to describe it – the camps, landing places, “River Clyde”, and the town and fortress of Sedd El Bahr; but one enclosed space, of pathetic interest, held me – the little grave yard studded with crosses, some elaborate, but the majority rough and ready, marking the resting places of some of the many on the Peninsula whose lives, though so short, were so complete in their voluntary self-sacrifice. I eagerly scanned the names and rude inscriptions, in case I could recognise some brave friend from Windsor or elsewhere, in order to tell someone at home about it, and bring back a photograph, but found none I knew. I venture to think that the Turk, who has been an honourable foe, now that he is again in possession of Cape Helles, will reverence that little spot. I might add that I carefully looked at the crosses on Lemnos Island, over the graves of those who had died in hospital there, and have also seen the military burying place in Alexandria, but have only come across one name I knew.

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