Help the people in the countries on the Continent devastated by the enemy

The plight of civilians in the countries where the fighting was taking place touched the hearts of Reading people.

November 1917
Brotherhood Notes

Sunday, December 9th, is to be a big day with the society. On that day we are to have an open meeting, to be held in the Palace Theatre, at which meeting one of the leaders of the movement will speak – probably the International Secretary, Brother W. Ward. Our Musical Conductor, Brother W. Wynton-Turner, is making the arrangements, and we can look forweard to a great time on that day.

The object of the meeting is to stir up interest in the National Brotherhood Scheme for relief in the countries devastated by the enemy, and a collection for this fund will be taken.

December 1917
BROTHERHOOD NOTES

Sunday, December 9th is to be a great day with our Society. An open meeting for men and women will be held at the Palace Theatre, to be addressed by Brother William Ward, the International Brotherhood Secretary. The meeting will start at three o’clock, and the Right Worshipful the Mayor of Reading, F A Sarjeant, esq., JP, will take the chair. The Reading Temperance Band will play selections, and special hymns will be sung. Brother Wynton Turner is putting in superhuman efforts to make this meeting a great success, and looks for the support of all our brothers.

The object of the meeting is to collect funds for the relief of the destitute peoples in the countries devastated by the enemy – a worthy object and one heartily recommended to our members. Be sure and keep that date free, and talk about it, and come in your hundreds to fill the Palace.

January 1918
BROTHERHOOD NOTES

The outstanding event during the past month was undoubtedly the very successful mass meeting which was held on Sunday December 9th at the Palace Theatre. The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Reading (F A Sarjeant, esq., JP) presided, and Brother William Ward, the International Secretary of the Brotherhood, gave a most vigorous and inspiring address, bringing before our notice the great need of help to the peoples in the countries on the Continent devastated by the enemy. A collection was taken up at this meeting which amounted to nearly £14, and in addition Mr Tyrrell most generously gave £40 for a hut. The meeting was an unqualified success, both as regards attendance and organisation, and for the latter the whole of the praise is due to Brother J. Wynton Turner, who worked most indefatigably.

Brother William Ward gave some valuable suggestions, and one amongst them was that a central depot be opened in the town, and old clothes be collected for the sufferers. This matter will be carefully considered by our committee.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, November 1917-January 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

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Sympathy for the loss of a young man of great promise and amiability

Worshippers at Maidenhead Congregational Church sent Christmas gifts out to their young men at the front.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Those who knew George Whitmill will be able to sympathise the more keenly with his parents in their sorrow. He was a young man of great promise and amiability, and a keen student. He was a member of Mr. Heywood’s Bible Class in the Institute. He was killed at the front on October 30th. We offer our tenderest Christian sympathies to his friends.

Victor Anderson is in hospital at Sheffield suffering from “trench fever.” Reginald Hill is back at Shheffield, and is to undergo another, and we trust the last, of a weary series of operations. Donald Lindsay and Percy Lewis have been home on leave.

Christmas parcels have already been sent out to our lads in the Mediterranean Forces, and the others will be forwarded very shortly. Miss Hearman and Miss Nicholls have been good enough to undertake the considerable task of the purchase and packing of these parcels.

Letters also of greeting from the Church will be sent to all our men. The minister will be grateful for addresses corrected up to date. Boxes are to be placed at the doors on Sundays, December 2nd and 9th, to receive contributions towards the cost, which amounts to about £6.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, December 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

The meaning of Christmas: ‘You won’t be afraid when your time comes to “go over the top”’

Members of Broad Street Church sent gifts to their friends at the front – and the minister had some special words of comfort for them this Christmas.

CHRISTMAS PARCELS

It has been decided to send once more a Christmas Greeting to men of the church and Brotherhood who are serving with HM Forces. Each man is to receive a small parcel as in previous years. As there are 150 men to be provided for this will involve considerable expense. Our friends are therefore asked for their generous help. The best way in which this could be given would be by gifts of money. But for those who prefer to contribute goods it is acceptable, viz: Woollen comforts, soap, candles, condensed milk, tobacco and cigarettes, towels, handkerchiefs, sweets in tins, sardines, note paper and envelopes. Mr C Dalgleish, Hollybush, Grosvenor Road, Caversham, has kindly consented to rceive gifts of money. Goods will be gratefully received by either Mrs Rawlinson, 50 Western Elms Avenue, or Mr W A Woolley, 85 Oxford Road.

THE MESSAGE OF CHRISTMAS TO OUR MEN AWAY

What has Christmas to do this year with you, or indeed with any of us? At first sight, little enough; but looking deeper, everything.
God did not create a humanity that was bound to go wrong, and then leave it. He is not “an absentee God, sitting idle, at the outside of His universe, and seeing it go.” There was only one way to fight the evil, and God – all Righteousness and all Love – took that. “O generous love! that he who smote in man for man the foe…” The Divine Personality was born a little child over nineteen hundred years ago. That was Christmas.

He began by obeying orders, doing irksome things that seemed unmeaning and useless, but doing them as long as they had to be done. Then he lived in self-sacrifice, giving Himself for others utterly. He was friend and healer and helper wherever there was need. He fought evil with good, and hate with love. He stood for right and justice against odds. So far as you follow Him, and do these things, that is Christmas for you.

The meaning of Christmas persists. Christ is alive and working now, more nearly present than He could be then, and what He was on earth he is still.
….
He is still the friend and helper, with you in all loneliness and need and temptation. It keeps you straight, often to remember the eyes waiting at home, expecting that yours will be able to smile squarely into them when you come back. You can’t go wrong when you remember His eyes expecting as much, but with the power, too, to quell any demon that attacks you. You have not to fight your battles alone. He is no myth. Reach out to Him in your extremity, and see whether He fails you. “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

You won’t be afraid to leave your home people in His care, knowing that He cares for them as much as you do – as they have the harder task of leaving you. Every Sunday, and how many times between, they and we think of you, and pray for His care of you – in the trenches, or in the air, or in the sea; in hospitals or in camps; in far lands or in the home country; in drudgery or in danger.

You won’t be afraid when your time comes to “go over the top” (at the end of a long life, as we trust), seeing that the Friend with whpm you have lived and who you have trusted so long, is waiting out there for you, in that life which He left to come to your help.
All this is what Christmas means for you.

In connection with the Church, Christmas parcels are being sent to our Brothers in the Forces as before, and a “collection in kind” will have been taken by the time these notes are in print, and another in money will be asked for on December 2nd.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

A troublesome foot

A wounded Reading man was released from the army, although he would face a long struggle ahead.

Khaki Chat

Leslie Smith (ex-sergeant) has now received his discharge from the Army, and since arriving home has entered No.1 War Hospital, where the troublesome foot has undergone one more operation. With what success it is impossible yet to say, but Leslie is cheerful and well in himself.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, November 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

The risk of permanent injury to eyesight

Calls for a blackout to guard against air raids caused problems for ladies at one Berkshire church.

THE LIGHTING.

The method of obscuring our chapel windows to satisfy the Regulations has not been quite satisfactory, and a new method has now been adopted. Mr. Leach most kindly gave us a supply of “casement cloth,” and some of our ladies fixed it up. We hope now that all our friends will again be able to read their bibles and hymn-books without risk of permanent injury to their eyesight.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, November 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

“Very proud of this honour”

Members of the Broad Street Brotherhood, the men’s group at the Congregational Church, enjoyed some vicarious pride in the progress of Victor Smith, their leaders son, while another elderly official decided to devote his full attention to managing the hospitality the church offered to soldiers in Reading.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

Our first duty this month is to most cordially congratulate Captain L. Victor Smith, MC, on his well deserved promotion. We of the Brotherhood feel very proud of this honour which has been bestowed upon our President’s son.

Following on the visit of Miss Darker, the secretary of the War Savings Committee of Reading, the matter was again brought before our Brothers at a recent Sunday meeting, and an appeal for those who wished to form a War Saving Association on connection with the Brotherhood was made; but the response was not sufficient to warrant us starting one. Should any brothers wish to purchase War Savings Certificates, they can do so through the Savings Bank.

At the last General Committee, Brother W A Woolley tendered his resignation as secretary, explaining that he was obliged to give up this office on account of not enjoying such good health as he would wish, and to enable him to devote more time to the great work he has undertaken in connection with the Soldiers’ Welfare Committee.

The Soldiers’ Welfare Committee is catering for our wounded soldiers, and men and women in khaki, every afternoon and evening in the [Sunday] Schoolroom, and many of our brothers are helping in this good work; but still further help would be appreciated as the number of soldiers using the room is considerably increasing each day.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, November 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Soldiers get very rough and ready, but are grateful to the churches for hospitality

One of the soldiers who had attended the social evenings run by Broad Street Church wrote to say how much he appreciated it. The “pioneers” in the British Army were engaged in construction and engineering, and also leading assaults on major fortifications.

APPRECIATION OF HOSPITALITY

The friends who are helping in connection with our work amongst the soldiers are constantly hearing expressions of appreciation and thanks. But the following letter is perhaps the best evidence of the feeling which has been called forth. It was sent to Mr Rawlinson by Corporal Hill of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and it speaks for itself:

Litherland
Near Liverpool

November 20th, 1917

Dear Sir,

I am writing to thank you for all you did for me during my stay in Reading.

I was attached to the Pioneer School, and took advantage of your hospitality, and appreciate it very much; and I must say I appreciate it more now that I have left Reading. I was too “nervous” or I should have thanked you personally on behalf of the fellows of the School, for the good time you gave us. So please convey my gratitude to those who entertained us on Sunday evenings, and also yourself for allowing us there. I know soldiers get very rough and ready, but I have heard some of them speak in glowing terms of the efforts made by the Congregationalists all over the country to help cheer up all those who were away from home, and wanted somewhere where they could spend a quiet and contemplative evening.

I have a very good impression of Reading, and am looking forward to the time when I shall be able to visit it again.

I shall be very pleased to receive a letter from you.

Again thanking you for what you have done for me amomgst many.

Yours sincerely
A J Hill.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“Many of our Missionaries are engaged in work amongst the troops”

Many British missionaries were now working with the troops when the latter were off-duty.

THE LMS ANNIVERSARY

This year the annual meetings of the Reading Auxiliary of the London Missionary Society are to be held on Sunday, November 18th and following days.

In the afternoon of [the Sunday] there will be the usual gathering of children and young people at Trinity Church, where addresses will be delivered by the Missionary Deputation…. The annual Public Meeting will be held at Broad Street … [where] we are to have addresses from the Deputation.

Owing to the difficulties of travel in these days, and the fact that so many of our Missionaries are engaged in work amongst the troops on the Continent and elsewhere, the authorities at the Mission House have very few Missionaries at their disposal for deputation work…

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, November 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“Everyone misses his smiling face”

There was good news and not-so-good news of Maidenhead men.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are very sorry to learn that Ernest Bristow has been wounded, but there seems every hope that his injuries are not serious. One of his chums writes,

“He went up to one of our advanced dressing stations to take over stores, and it was while standing at the mouth of a dug-out that he was wounded. A Bosche fleet of aeroplanes came over, and a bomb dropped quite near, wounding some ten men and killing two others. He caught it in the left arm and in both legs, but his wounds are flesh wounds, and not dangerous. He suffered from a severe shaking up, but bore it extremely well. The sergeant who dressed his wounds thinks he will soon be all right again. Everyone misses his smiling face and bright personality, and none more than his sorrowing pal. We all feel that his loss to the Unit is irreparable… He was by far the best clerk, and one of the most popular in the Unit.”

We earnestly trust that the hopeful tone of this letter may be justified by events, and that Corporal Bristow will suffer no permanent injury.

Harold Islip, who returned to his post after leave about a month ago, has been in hospital suffering from dysentery. Cyril Hews, George Belcher, and Donald Wilson have been home again for ten days, all in good health and spirits. Herbert Brand, who has been Company Q.M.S. in the 8th Berks., has been for two or three months past in a Cadet Corps, and expects shortly to receive a Commission.

Wilfred Collins is now quite convalescent and was in Maidenhead a few days ago.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, November 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

“We earnestly pray that our friend may be kept from all harm in the difficult and dangerous work in which he is engaged”

A former member of Broad Street Congregational Church had been reported killed, but there was better news from local hero Victor Smith.

We extend our sympathy, too, to the relatives of the late Sergeant A Middlemost, of the South African Contingent. Before emigrating to South Africa, Sergeant Middlemost was an active member of the Young Men’s Institute. In the early days of the war he joined up with the South African forces, and he has now paid the supreme sacrifice for his country. Those who knew him will ever cherish his memory with affection.

The many friends of Captain L. Victor Smith, MC, have been greatly pleased to hear of his recent promotion, and they would unite in heartiest congratulations to him and his parents – our esteemed friends Mr and Mrs Chas Steward Smith – and in good wishes for the future. Captain Smith is the first of our Broad Street representatives to win his captaincy in the present war, and he has done it in a remarkably short time. It is not long since we were rejoicing in the MC which he had won for conspicuous bravery, and now comes this further cause for gratification. We earnestly pray that our friend may be kept from all harm in the difficult and dangerous work in which he is engaged.

The way in which our schoolrooms are crowded each afternoon by wounded soldiers, and each evening by other men and women in khaki, gives ample proof of the need for such work as is now being efficiently done by the church. I [the minister] should like to thank the many ladies and gentlemen who have so readily come to our assistance in this matter. They need no assurance from me that it is abundantly worth while.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, November 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

The quality and price of “Government Beer”

The Dodeka Club talked about various matters to do with food and drink. The members were mostly associated with a local Congregational Church, hence the reference to some being deacons, who held a position of some responsibility. The government had just introduced legislation weakening the strength of beer, while increasing taxes on it.

The 287th meeting of the Dodeka was held at Penfold’s on Nov 2nd 1917.

In the early part of the evening some considerable amount of discussion took place with regard to the quality and price of “Government Beer”. The secretary notices that the Deacon members took an animated part, and it was finally described as “Arms & Legs”.

Despite the restrictions of the Food Controller and other difficulties, the host provided very excellent refreshments…

The host having stated that sufficient notice of the meeting had not been given for him to provide a paper, a discussion took place regarding Government Methods, more particularly with regard to the Sugar Ration.

Dodeka Book Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)

Adding a name to the list of those of our lads who went out to fight never to return again

Two brothers from Reading had different fates.

Park Church and Institute
Church News

Wilfred Smith

To our great sorrow we have this month to add his name to the list of those of our lads who went out to fight never to return again. Wilfred was killed in action on August 22nd. Unhappily there was a short period of painful suspense before the official news arrived. A letter from a comrade who had been injured by the same shell told how his inquiries as to Wilfred’s fate met with no satisfactory replies, and conveyed the clear impression that its writer suspected that the worst had happened. Following the arrival of that letter came days of silent suffering and fruitless inquiry. Eventually the usual form of announcement from the War Office settled all doubts, and destroyed all hopes. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his father and mother and brothers and sisters. Wilfred belonged to a family that has always been closely identified with Park, and he was one whose pleasing disposition easily won affection. Before joining the Army he was registrar at the Sunday School, and after joining continued to act in that capacity so long as he was about. Some of us will always carry in our minds a picture of him in his Khaki seated at the little table just inside our Hall doors quietly staring at the children’s cards as they arrived on the Sunday afternoon. And we had hoped that this Autumn might see him back there again, and not in his Khaki! But God has opened another door to him, and he has gone where that graciousness of disposition which made him willing to serve while here will be considered of the highest worth. May the Love which has taken him back to itself come very near to those who mourn his loss.

Leslie Smith (Wilfred’s brother) is soon to get his discharge from the army. The wound in his ankle seems to have led to a permanent disability which will rather affect his walking powers. We greatly regret this, but at the same time cannot but be glad that he will soon be back again in safety under the home roof, where no doubt his presence will help to bring comfort and courage.
Mr. Goddard, our Sunday School Secretary, is to our surprise among the wounded. We thought he would never get near the firing line, but he had only been in France quite a short time before he was back again in hospital. He is now in a convalescent camp at Eastbourne, and we are looking forward to a visit from him before long.

It was happy chance which brought the brothers Newey (one from Greece, one from France, and one from a home camp) home on leave together.

Park section of Trinity Congregational Magazine, November 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

Three of our “boys” home on leave

Some soldiers came home on leave to Spencers Wood.

Our Village Churches
Spencer’s Wood. Pastor: Mr H.E. Cole.

Home on Leave.

We are very pleased to see us amongst us three of our “boys” home on leave. Percy Double was home for ten days from France. Lce.-Cpl Harry Wheeler was home on hospital leave. Fred Norriss was home on his “last” leave. All these lads joined with us in worship on Sunday, August 26th. Percy Double and Fred Norris are now ”somewhere in France,” and they would like us to remember them in our prayers.

Sympathy.

Many of us at Spenser’s Wood learnt with deep sorrow of the death of Lieut. W.W. Drake. And we would like to express to Mrs. Drake our deepest sympathy.

Spencers Wood section of Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

Not yet out of the wood

There was news of soldiers associated with Maidenhead Congregational Church.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We have not as much information this month as we would like, and shall be glad if friends will send us news of the boys month by month.

Harold Islip has been home on leave. After his gassing, he was in hospital for a week, and in a convalescent camp for a fortnight. It is about 17 months since his last leave. On return he went straight back to duty.

John Hedges paid his old school and church a visit on a Sunday in August. It is some six or seven years since he left us to seek his fortune in Australia. He returned in a khaki suit. After some hard experiences he is at present doing clerical work in London.

Reginald Hill still continues to improve though he must yet pass through another operation before he is out of the wood. But we hope to see him home about Christmas.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, October 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Happy evenings

Soldiers training at home were grateful for the hospitality shown by Reading people.

Our Soldiers’ Club

This is now well established and a steady increase in the attendance testifies to the appreciation of the comforts provided. Though only open a fortnight, the following letter is the grateful testimony of one who came every night and looked on the Club as “home”:- Reading 20/10/17.

Dear Mr. Stevens, –

You no doubt will be surprised to learn that I am leaving Reading this afternoon for Tidworth. It came very unexpectedly. I cannot let this occasion pass without tendering very heartfelt thanks for the way that I have received and the kindness shown to me by various gentlemen of the soldiers’ club. In fact, I will always look back upon the happy evenings which I spent there with very pleasant memories. I cannot tell you how I feel in leaving Reading, but will always maintain that the Trinity Congregational Church Soldiers Club is worthy of the highest credit which it thoroughly deserves, and I sincerely hope and trust that the good work will continue and that Miss Austin will sell the refreshments better than ever.

Again thanking you one and all,

Believe me, I remain,

Yours Sincerely,

John J. Kingdom.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, November 1917 (D/EX1237/1)