We are nothing better than worms – but mustn’t grumble!

Sunday 4 April 1915 was Easter Day. The parishioners of Reading St John (now the Polish Catholic Church) had sent Easter greetings to their young men at the Front. It resulted in a number of letters from the recipients describing their experiences.

Letters from the Front: replies to our Easter letters and cards.

Cards similar to those recently seen on the Church notice boards were sent with covering letters for Easter to some fifty men at the front at the request of their relatives. The following are extracts from some of the replies received by the Vicar:-

A Terrible War.
Here is a much-needed reminder of the seriousness of our task:
‘Two of my men I laid to rest yesterday, just put their heads too far over the parapet; of course killed instantly. It is a terrible business and we are nothing better than worms, dug in and stop there, but hope that happier times are in store and very soon. We all hope and pray for it every day. I don’t think the people at home quite realise what a gigantic task we have; but we mustn’t grumble, but do it.’- GILES AYRES.

Valued Cards.
‘I wish to thank you very much for the good thoughts and wishes of yourself and everyone who remembered us on Easter Day. Thank you very much for the card. I am sending it home to-day so that I shall not lose it.’- A. L. BLAKE.

‘The card you sent me I have hung on to the wall and it shall go where I go. I shall always remember Good Friday, the day I received it.’- D. CAMPBELL.

Neuve Chapelle.
Speaking of the welcome letter just received, the writer adds: ‘Just lately we have been engaged in a big battle at Neuve Chapelle, and it was something awful and also a terrible loss on the German side.’- L.H. CROOK. (more…)

Even the Boy Scouts are helping the war effort

Young men and boys from Reading St John were serving the country at home and abroad:

The War
It is difficult to collect the names of all our young men who have gone to serve their country, either in Lord Kitchener’s Armies or in the Territorials. We should be very glad to have their names, with their rank and regiment, to put up with other lists in the church porches.

Many will be interested to know that our old friend, Mr. Frank Tucker has enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery and Mr. Victor Fowler, who was formerly Assistant C.E.T.S [Church of England Temperance Society] Secretary, has joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. Also that Messrs. H.J. Dadley and W.A.H. Coates, prominent members of S. John’s Cricket Club, have joined the Royal Flying Corps, and that Arthur Goodson, who went out a few years ago to Canada, is now in training at Valcartier Camp with the Canadian contingent.

The Scouts
The Troop is going strong and is keen upon rendering any public service in war time. Several boys have done quite useful work already in various ways.

The war meant even history classes were suddenly topical. Girls at a school in Abingdon were challenged by the question of the necessity of war:

9 October 1914
Debate in the afternoon – “Is War necessary?” The Resolution that War is necessary was carried by large show of hands.

Reading St John parish magazine, October 1914 (D/P172/28A/23, pp. 2 and 4); Abingdon Girls CE School log book (C/EL2/2, p. 78)