“We are particularly wishful to carry on the good work being done for our soldiers and sailors”

Fuel shortages were hitting home.

MINISTER’S JOTTINGS

We are likely to have considerable difficulty this winter with regard to our heating and lighting. We are not yet informed as to what our ration of coal, gas and electricity will be, but we are most anxious to prevent, by the strictest economy, any curtailment of our work, and we are particularly wishful to carry on the good work being done for our soldiers and sailors if it can possibly be managed. When we know what our allowance for heating and lighting is to be, we shall have to go more thoroughly into the matter. In the meantime will those responsible for the various meetings please see that no more gas or electricity is used than is absolutely necessary.

We are hoping to resume the Khaki Socials after worship on Sunday evenings at an early date. It is not easy to ensure a sufficient number of artistes to carry on this much appreciated work, but we trust it may be successfully accomplished once more this winter. We are indebted to Mrs Dracup and Miss Green for the splendid service they have rendered in this connection in past years.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, October 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

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Lively services for soldiers

Religious services for soldiers were simpler and livelier than those they attended at home.

The soldiers in France who attend the voluntary services arranged by the Y.M.C.A. rightly expect that the service shall be a ‘live’ one. The man who would win and hold a congregation must be a man of conviction, of sincerity and of force of character. When he speaks he must have a case and must know how the present it to those who are listening to him. Mr Evans was probably the most attractive preacher in the Calais area in my time and I have no hesitation saying that he had a very sure place in the respect and affection of the men stationed in the district.

Abingdon Church Congregational Monthly Leaflet, October 1918 (D/N1/12/1/1)

Fruit, vegetables and eggs for wounded soldiers

Once more, harvest gifts were donated to wounded soldiers.

HARVEST FESTIVAL

On Sunday, September 29th, we held our Harvest Thanksgiving Services…. The church was once more tastefully decorated for the occasion, a plentiful supply of vegetables, fruit, flowers, eggs, etc, having been provided…

On the following day the fruit, vegetables and eggs were sent to the Royal Berkshire Hospital for our wounded soldiers, and the secretary of that institution has sent a letter in which he expressed gratitude for the gift.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, November 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Churches are to be rationed

Churches feared a chilly winter to come.

THE COAL SHORTAGE.

The shortage of coal may possibly be a serious matter for places of worship this winter. We are distinctly told that Churches are to be rationed, though the method has not yet been made public. Several months ago the deacons appointed a sub-committee to consider the question of our fuel supply and economy, and certain alterations in the method of heating our premises are recommended. When our Church was first erected no provision for heating was made; apparently in those days all places of worship were left at the mercy of the seasons, our fathers being content, it would seem, with an extra coat! But in these days a cold Church would be left empty. Hugh Bourne, one of the Primitive Methodist founders, on a freezing morning when then the chapel stove refused to draw, observed, “I never knew a sinner yet who was converted with cold feet.”

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, September 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Trinity roll of honour

Trinity Roll of Honour
Robert Howard Freeman, Signal section, R.N.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, September 1918 (D/EX1237/1)

“His services to the wounded in this respect during this and previous years have been simply priceless”

Wounded soldiers in Reading were treated to a lovely day out.

River Trip for Wounded Soldiers

On Friday afternoon, September 13th, our own particular River Outing for wounded soldiers, under the auspices of the Care and Comforts Committee, took place under perfectly ideal conditions. After several days of somewhat broken weather, we struck the one bright sunny afternoon when the river was at its best. The arrangements on the steamer had been made as usual, by Mr. Awmack, whose services to the wounded in this respect during this and previous years have been simply priceless.

The “Merry Mascots” Concert party provided just the right sort of musical entertainment, with the songs that our soldiers delight in, accompanied by piano, harp and violin. The tea would have been very good in ordinary times – under present conditions it was marvellous. And the abundant supply of cigarettes handed round by Mrs. A.T. Watkins and Miss Shorter was evidently appreciated to the full.

The goal of our journey was Park Place, the residence of Colonel Noble, and it was good to see the enjoyment of our guests as they made their way up the green slope and through the famous tunnel to the fine historic mansion, with its glorious views, and enchanting grotto, and gardens.

Our party include men from many distant parts of the Empire as well as from the Old Country – from Australia and South Africa, and the Rocky Mountains. By their words and their looks, they left us in no doubt that the object we all had in view was fully attained, and the expedition will long live in their memory, as in ours who were privileged to go with them.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1918 (D/EX1237/1)

“In spite of dark hours of disappointment, all those on active service at home and abroad are looking for the dawn”

More and more men were being called up.

PERSONAL

The many friends of Cadet Douglas Baker, son of our esteemed Deacon, Mr Henry Baker, will be glad to hear that he has successfully passed all his examinations, and is now awaiting his commission as an officer in the RAF. We tender him our heartiest congratulations and good wishes. Our young friend has already several years of service to his credit, and a record of which he may justly feel proud.

We also desire to congratulate Sergeant C. S. Stebbings on his recent promotion. Sergeant Stebbings has served for more than 2 ½ years with the Royal Engineers in France, and he has just returned “on leave” with his three stripes. So far he has come through “safe and sound”. We earnestly hope that the like good fortune may be his in coming days.

Fred Warman writes very cheerily from his internment camp at Groningen, Holland. The supply of food, he tells us, is insufficient, but “by buying biscuits and chocolates, which are very dear, I manage to live fairly well and endeavour to keep up my health and strength.” He is learning to speak Dutch, and has made some good friends.

Private Gerald S. Hampton has been wounded in the right hand, and is now in a hospital at Warwick. We are not informed of the extent of his injury, but we hope it is not serious, and that he may have a speedy recovery.

SUNDAY SCHOOL NOTES

Our young friend, Mr Hedley Wyles, who for some time past has helped us as pianist in our morning school, has recently been called to the colours. We greatly regret this has become necessary, but our bets wishes go with him and we trust ‘ere long to have the pleasure of welcoming him back again safe and sound. Miss W. Quelch has very kindly undertaken to fill the post vacated by Mr Wyles.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

“O.A.S” [on active service]

It is a joy to receive letters from our Brothers abroad bearing this inscription, for right well we know they are on active service away on the battle fronts!

Whilst congratulating them on their sacrificial work out yonder, we at home are striving to deserve a similar title…

In spite of dark hours of disappointment, all those on active service at home and abroad are looking for the dawn, and with outstretched hand say to each other with faith and confidence:
“Hope on, the sun is rising, prepare for the coming day. God be with you till we meet again.”…

We are not forgetting our Brother on service. The number increases week by week, so that it has become almost impossible for Brother Woolley to write a personal letter to each member individually, so it is hoped that a special monthly message from the President with a reprint of these notes will be sent each month to brothers on service.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, September 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Smiles and kindly wishes, and a small extension of leave

An officer seized the opportunity to get married while home on leave.

MARRIAGE.

On Saturday, September 7th, Lieut. Cyril Hews and Miss Winifred Hudson were married at the Maidenhead Congregational Church. The building had been specially carpeted and decorated with flowers for the ceremony, and a large number of friends assembled to grace the occasion with smiles and kindly wishes. The “breakfast” was spread and the speeches delivered in a marquee in Mr. Chamberlain’s garden. We are glad to know that Lieut. Hews was able to obtain a small extension of leave beyond the usual meagre fortnight, but duty called him back to France on the 26th. We hope he will get a month next time.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, October 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

“Surely he has earned his discharge!”

oMaidenhead men had mixed fortunes, but some had returned home after severe wounds.

At the time of writing, Reginald Hill is in Ireland, waiting for decision of his medical board concerning his future. Surely he has earned his discharge! John Bolton, Percy Lewis, Harry Baldwin, Ernest Mead, and George Frampton, have been home on leave, all in sound health and good spirits. Ernest Bristow is at the Red Cross Hospital, Marlow Road, suffering from a slight set-back in the healing process. David Dalgliesh is expecting to return any day to active service in France. Ernest Saunders has been discharged. He received an injury to his skull in some blasting operations in Italy. Alex Edwards is out of hospital, and is back to his old post.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, September 1918 (D/N33/12/1/5)

“One pitch-dark night, about half-past twelve, a shell dropped in the entrance of the dug-out, smashing it up and setting fire to its contents”

Noncombatant workers behind the lines were also at terrible risk.

Trinity Hut

It is now pretty well known by members of the Church and congregation that our Trinity Y.M.C.A. Hut at La Clytte is no more. It was completely destroyed during the fighting in Flanders towards the end of March, and the young Y.M.C.A. Worker, Mr. L. Hutchinson, who took charge there soon after I left, was himself severely wounded, and is now in hospital at Chelsea. I called on him there recently, and learned from him some particulars which must not be published, and some others that will be of interest to all members and friends of Trinity.

The first accident that happened to the Hut was the bursting of a big shell a few yards away, which riddled the little cabin known as Hotel de la Paix, where I used to sleep, and wrecked some 40 feet of the main hut on that side. This was quickly patched up, and the work was continued until the military authorities decided that it was necessary to close the Hut. Then our workers obtained the use of a large dug-out in the vicinity holding about a dozen at a time, and carried on the canteen work there, sleeping in a smaller dug-out nearby. Finally one pitch-dark night, about half-past twelve, a shell dropped in the entrance of the smaller dug-out, smashing it up, setting fire to its contents, and badly wounding my friend Mr. Hutchinson just above the knee.
His colleagues, one of whom was slightly hurt, succeeded with some difficulty in extricating him from the wreckage, but it was more than an hour before an ambulance and medical aid was forthcoming. It was found necessary to amputate the injured lag. I am glad to say that my friend is now making excellent progress towards recovery.

Since the general facts became known to us, I have been asked by a good many of our friends, “What are we going to do about it?” and the desire has been expressed from many quarters first that we should do something practical to show our sympathy with this young worker who held the fort so faithfully to the very last in our hut, and our appreciation of all that he did as to that extent our representative; and in the second place that we should endeavour in some form or other to replace the Hut erected as a memorial to those of our boys who have made the supreme sacrifice during the war.

To rebuild the Hut as it was would of course cost a great deal more than the original £500. Nor is the Y.M.C.A. putting up so many buildings of that type in the battle area. A less expensive type of Hut, of which a number are now being set up in France, costs £300, and even this would be a great deal to ask of our people as things are at present.

Many who might fully sympathise with the object may be so placed that other pressing claims made it impossible for them to take part in any such effort as this, and I do not intend to put them in the position of having to say so. I shall not therefore be making any immediate public appeal from the pulpit, nor any personal appeal to individual members of the Church congregation. But on the other hand, I know that many of our members are not only able and willing, but eager to do something in this direction. I am therefore making it known in this way, with the consent of the Deacons, that I shall be very glad to give further information to any who ask for it, and to forward any gifts that may be entrusted to me for this purpose. At the time of writing I have already gifts and promises amounting to £85. If it should not prove possible to for us to find enough for a Hut, it may still be within our reach to provide a marquee in which the same type of work could be carried on. The more we can raise, the more can be done. But I do hope and believe that before very long we may have the satisfaction of knowing that somewhere at the Front some bit of work is again being done by the Trinity, in the Master’s Name, for those brave men who are facing such hardships and dangers on our account. P.N.H.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, August 1918 (D/EX1237/1)

Welcome home after arduous and trying experiences in Russia

WELCOME HOME

We have all been pleased to see Private H H Taylor (elder son of our friends Nr and Mrs Dakin Taylor) once more in our midst after his arduous and trying experiences with the Royal Scots in North Russia. We give him a most cordial “welcome home”.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, August 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Sincere good wishes

Some Tilehurst soldiers came home on leave.

WELCOME HOME

It was good to see three of our “boys” home on leave on August 11th and present at our services. We were disappointed that Harold Bunce’s leave was postponed from Communion Sunday weekend. They, and all the others, have our sincere good wishes.

Tilehurst Congregational Church section of Reading Congregational Church magazine, September 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

To find a soldier’s rest

This poem was written by army chaplain the Revd Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy. It is entitled ‘Prayer Before An Attack’.

The following verses quoted by the Pastor in a recent sermon are given here by request:-

It ain’t as I think ‘E’ll keep me safe
While the other blokes goes down;
And it ain’t as I wants to leave the earth
And wear an ‘ero’s crown.
It ain’t for that as I says my prayers
When I goes to the attack;
But I pray that whatever comes my way,
I may never turn my back.
I leave the matter o’ life and death
To the Lord who knows what’s best;
And I pray that I still play the man,
Whether I turn East or West.
But grant me, God to do my bit,
And then If I must turn West,
I’ll be unashamed when my name is named.
And I’ll find a soldier’s rest.


Trinity Congregational Magazine, August 1918 (D/EX1237/1)

“Major Smith has been associated with the Tank Corps from the beginning of its operations and he has rendered splendid service”

There was news of three Reading men.

PERSONAL

We offer our heartiest congratulations to Major L. Victor Smith, MC, on his recent promotion. Major Smith has been associated with the Tank Corps from the beginning of its operations and he has rendered splendid service. We are glad to know that he has come safely through many dangers, and we pray that he may have the continued protection of the Most High in all the days that lie before him. It was a pleasure to see him looking so fit and well when he was home on furlough.

Private Gerald S. Hampton, only son of our friends Mr and Mrs A. S. Hampton, has recently been in hospital in one of the base camps, “somewhere in France”. We are glad to hear that he is now well again, and able to take up his duties. We pray that he may come safely through all the dangers of the trenches.

The latest news of Private E. Layton Francis is that he is in a military hospital in Cairo and making good progress. His many friends will wish that the progress may be accelerated, and that before long he may be home on furlough.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, August 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“What true Christian can think of the feebleness of organized religion in the face of the world’s great need, through these terrible years, without a sense of bitter shame!”

Nonconformist churches also commemorated the anniversary of the war.

Tilehurst

The celebration of the Fourth Anniversary of the Declaration of War was the occasion of further united Free Church effort in Tilehurst.
We met for United Prayer at 8 a.m. in the Congregational Church, and spent a very memorable three quarters of an hour around the Throne of Grace. Some twenty six friends from the three churches met for this service, and the atmosphere was very intense.

The Wesleyan Church was crowded in the evening at 6.30 for the United Preaching Service, the Congregational Church being closed.

Representatives from the three churches took part in the conducting of the service. Mr Beckley for the Wesleyans, Mr Sleep for the Armour Hall, and our Pastor [Revd E. J. Perry] for our church. Mr Perry was appointed to preach the sermon, and he chose for his text the familiar words which close the Lord’s Prayer: “Deliver us from evil, for Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory for ever”. The preacher sought to show the fact of the Sovereignty of God. People had often said, “Why doesn’t God do something?”, but is there after all anything left for God to do? …

The service was marked by great solemnity and earnestness, everyone feeling that we were bearing the burden of a common shame and sorrow. Suitable hymns were specially selected, and the singing of them was led by a strong united choir.

Members of our church returned to their own place of prayer to meet around the Lord’s Table for the Sacrament.

We all devoutly trust that August 4th, 1919 may be spent in very much happier circumstances, our many loved ones restored to our home circles. Meanwhile, let us ease one another’s burden all we can, and live in a way that is worthy of the great sacrifices of our “boys”.

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