“The altered conditions will put us all in better mood for Christmas rejoicings”

There was one last effort to send Christmas gifts to servicemen.

We have decided to send a Christmas greeting once more to men of the Church and Brotherhood who are serving with HM Forces. We hope to send also a small parcel to each man, as in previous years. This will involve considerable expense, as we have about 150 men to provide for. Our friends are therefore asked to give their generous help. Mr C Dalgleish, Hollybush, Grosvenor Road, Caversham, has again kindly consented to act as Treasurer of the Fund, and he will be pleased to receive contributions. As this is likely to be the last occasion on which such an appeal will be made, we trust there may be a generous response.

On Christmas Day we shall hold a service as usual in the church at 11 am. It will last for about one hour. The altered conditions will put us all in better mood for Christmas rejoicings. So we shall hope for a large attendance.

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

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“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)

“He was looking worn and depressed at his last leave”

There was news of a number of Maidenhead men, many wounded or ill. One had suffered a nervous breakdown.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Reginald Hill was able to pay a surprise visit of four days to his home, in the midst of his long and weary hospital experiences. He was looking well, considering all that he has borne, but he has one or two more operations yet to undergo. He spoke of a hope that he might be home shortly after Easter.

Ernest Bristow is progressing favourably, but the latest report that reached us spoke of another operation. He seems to be in excellent spirits.

Ben Gibbons is in hospital at Southall, suffering from debility. He was looking worn and depressed at his last leave, from which he had only got back to duty about a fortnight when he broke down and was sent to England, or rather (as we ought to say) Blighty.

Sydney Eastman is in hospital at Chatham, sent home for bronchitis. We may hope to see him shortly. The Medical Board decided that he could not stand the climate at the place where he was stationed.

W. Cleal is in hospital. No particulars known.

David Dalgliesh has received an appointment as Instructor at the Flying School at Winchester.

Hugh Lewis has been at home for a fortnight’s leave in excellent health.

Charles Catliff, too, has been home for his first leave; most of his time he spent at Bucklebury with his mother, who has been seriously ill.

Cyril Laker has had the thrilling experience of being torpedoed in the Mediterranean.

Herbert Brand has received a Commission, and when we last saw him was hoping to be attached to the 4th Berks.

Since the above was in type, a letter has been received from P.A. Eastman. He says:

“The mails where I came from have been very erratic, and some have been lost, including unfortunately the Christmas parcels. Davy Jones is now richer than all the other members of the great family of that name put together, to their and some other people’s impoverishment! ……

The medical authorities have thought it best to send me back after the first year out in the East; doubtless they have a reason. But I am glad to say I am now fairly fit, and hope to improve rapidly under the less trying conditions of English life. Very kind greetings to all West Street friends.”

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

We must still wait patiently for this terrible war to end

Maidenhead Congregational Church kept in close touch with the young men it had sent to the war.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are very sorry indeed to record that Ernest Bristow, whose wounding we reported in November, was more seriously injured than we knew, and that his leg has been amputated above the knee. His arm, too, was badly hurt, though there seems every hope of a recovery for that. He is now at the Ontario, Canadian Red Cross, Hospital, Orpington, Kent. Mr. and Mrs. Bristow spent their Christmas holiday in that neighbourhood.

Reginald Hillis still awaiting his final operation, and we shall all rejoice with him when he is successfully past the last of the wearisome series.

Robert Bolton is in Hospital at Newcastle-on-Tyne, suffering from skin trouble.

Ben Gibbons and David Dalgliesh have been home on leave.

The Christmas letters and parcels sent out in the name of the Church were evidently keenly appreciated by our boys, and many letters of gratitude have already been received. Here are a few extracts.

“Just a few lines to thank you for that glorious parcel which the Church so kindly sent me, and which I enjoyed immensely. At the time of receiving it we were in the line, and were having a warm time, and I could not have it then, but when the trouble was all over, I set to and enjoyed it all the more.”

“Thank you very much indeed! And we boys do not forget to be thankful, too, for all the lessons we have learned at our Church.”

“It was with a good deal of pleasure that I received your letter. I am sure we derive immense help from our prayers and thoughts of those at home.”

“Thank you for the Christmas greeting! It is very nice to feel that we are still in your thoughts, especially those who are farthest away.”

“Please thank the Church for the very welcome parcel. Last year I expressed a hope that this terrible war would be over before now, but we must still wait patiently. Meanwhile, it is a great comfort to know that the Church is thinking of us and praying for us.”

“Will you be good enough to tender my heartiest thanks to all those good people responsible for the sending of the package I received yesterday? It is exceedingly kind, and I am sure I will be appreciated by us all.”

“Will you please convey my best thanks to the Church for the most acceptable parcel and message received. My thoughts are often with you all.”

And one of the boys sends us a rhyme, with which we may conclude this short series of extracts:-

“Though I’m only one of millions
Doing bots for Freedom’s fame,
You, I know, will keep a corner,
In your heart to hold my name;
And amid this world-wide welter,
With its terrors, blood and shame,
All my thoughts this Christmas centre
Back to you, and mem’ries frame;
Memories that from our war’s darkness,
Peace and happiness proclaim.”

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

An acceptable parcel for every man

The war’s effect on the economy limited Christmas gifts for soldiers this year.

Broad Street Congregational Church, Reading

For the Fund to provide Xmas Parcels for our men with the Naval and Military Forces, there was contributed (in addition to the many comforts and other gifts in kind) the sum of £33 7s 9d. The committee appointed for the purpose were thus enabled to send an acceptable parcel to every man who has gone out from the Church or Brotherhood, and they wish to thank the many friends who subscribed to the Fund, either in money or kind, or both, for their gifts. I should like to associate myself with that expression of gratitude, and I should like further to acknowledge a deep sense of indebtedness to Mr C Dalgleish (Hon. Sec.) and the members of the committee for the splendid service they rendered in making provision for, and despatching, the parcels.

Burghfield
Parcels

In accordance with the notice in the magazine, 58 Christmas parcels have been sent to all Burghfield men who are serving beyond seas. Owing to bad times, the subscriptions for the parish were not so large as last year, but the greeting from friends at Burghfield was written on a Xmas card in each parcel.

Burghfield parish magazine, January 1918 (D/EX725/4)

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

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)

The whole gamut of human emotion

The emotional toll of supporting loved ones at the front was beginning to tell in Maidenhead. One imagines the tears in church – but every now and then there was joy amidst the sorrow.

OUR ROLL OF HONOUR

The Minister has not for some time past read from the pulpit the list of our soldiers, because the strain upon the feelings of the more closely related friends was too great. This month there is space to spare in our columns, and we therefore print the list.

Five of our lads have fallen:

Harold Fisher …Royal Berks.
Duncan Wilson …A.S.C.
Robert Harris …8th Royal Berks.
Stephen Harris …3rd Royal Berks.
John Boyd …2nd Royal Berks.

Two have been discharged:

James Partlo …4th Royal Berks.
E.S. Mynett …Recruiting Sergeant

Forty-nine are still in the Army:

Cyril Hews …Royal Engineers
F.W. Harmer …Royal Berks.
W. Percy Pigg …A.S.C.
Cyril Laker …K.O. Scottish Borderers.
Reginald Hill …2nd Royal Berks.
Robert Anderson …4th Royal Berks.
John Bolton …23rd London.
Thomas Mulford …Royal Engineers.
J.O. Wright …8th Royal Berks.
George E. Dovey …9th Royal Berks.
Percy Lewis …R.A.M.C.
Arthur Rolfe …R.F.A.
Ernest Bristow …R.A.M.C.
Harold Islip …R.E.
Edward Howard …A.S.C.
George Belcher …R.E.
Horace Gibbons …11th Aus. Light Horse.
J. Quincey …A.S.C.
Donovan Wilson …A.S.C.
Aubrey Cole …A.S.C.
W.H. Clark …A.S.C.
Cecil Meade …A.S.C.
Benjamin Gibbons …6th Royal Berks.
David Dalgliesh …R.F.C.
Hugh Lewis …R.E.
H. Partlo …A.S.C.
Herbert Brand …8th Royal Berks.
George Phillips …A.S.C.
J Herbert Plum …R.E.
Wilfred Collins …Canadian Dragoons.
Alex. Edwards …R.F.A.
William Norcutt …A.S.C.
George Norcutt …R.E.
Victor Anderson …R.A.M.C.
Herbert G. Wood …R.E.
C.A.S. Vardy …R.E.
A. Lane …R.E.
Frank Pigg …R.F.C.
Leonard Beel …R.E.
P.S. Eastman …R.N.A.S.
A. John Fraser …A.S.C.
Charles Catliff …R.E.
Ernest A. Mead …7th Devonshires.
Robert Bolton …R.M.L.I
Frank Tomlinson …R.E.
George Ayres …L.E.E.
Thomas Russell …A.S.C.
G.C. Frampton …A.S.C.
W.J. Baldwin …Royal Navy.

In addition there are many who have passed through our Sunday School and Institute, but have not recently been in close connection with us. These also we bear upon our hearts, and bring in prayer before the Throne of Grace.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to be able to say that Reginald Hill is still going forward, and that he is able to walk a little with the aid of sticks. He has now been at the Sheffield Hospital between five and six months. His parents are spending their holiday at Sheffield.

Robert Bolton has gone over with his Company to France.

Wilfred Collins is in Hospital at Sulhamstead, still suffering from heart trouble.

Sidney Eastman is at Mudros, doing clerical work.

David Dalgliesh has been home on leave, in the best of health and spirits.

GOOD NEWS!

In our last number we spoke of the fact that the son of Mr. Jones, of Marlow, was “missing,” and that all hope that he was still living had been relinquished. But the unexpected has happened, and news has been received that Second-Lieutenant Edgar Jones is an unwounded prisoner in the hands of the Germans. His parents have surely run through the whole gamut of human emotion during these weeks.

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

Our soldiers – and our conscientious objector

There was news of the varying destinations of various men associated with Maidenhead Congregational Church. One was even a conscientious objector.

OUR SOLDIERS.

David Dalgliesh, at the conclusion of his training, has received a Commission in the Royal Flying Corps, and is at present at Hendon. Frank Pigg has departed for Salonika and John Boyd for France. Our Deacon, P.S. Eastman, has been compelled to leave the doors of his business closed and is in training for the Royal Naval Air Service at the Crystal Palace. He will probably be engaged in photographic work. Percy Lewis has been placed in charge of the Mobile X-ray Unit of the 1st Army. Reginald Hill has gone over with his regiment to France. Archibald Fraser has enlisted in the Army Service Corps, and is at present stationed at Lee. F. Kempster, who is a “conscientious objector,” has gone to take up farm work in the south of England. Herbert G. Wood is in British East Africa.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, October 1916 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Maidenhead lads in army training

Two Maidenhead men from the same church were doing well in the armed forces.

OUR SOLDIER LADS.

Our heartiest congratulations to David Dalgleish. After about six months at the front, he has been sent home to be put into training for a Commission, and will probably for awhile be stationed at Uxbridge.

Hugh Lewis has completed a courses of training at Esher, and has returned to his Unit, the East Anglican Engineers, who are stationed at Maidenhead.

Maidenhead Congregational magazines (D/N33/12/1/5)

Legitimately proud of their handsome contribution

The members of Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading continued to support the war effort.

The Khaki Socials are still being held at the close of evening worship each Sunday, in the Schoolroom. They are very greatly appreciated by the RAMC men at work in the various War Hospitals, and other soldiers in the district, as is evidenced by the attendance. An appeal was made a month ago for the help of ladies and gentlemen who might be willing to provide the refreshments for one evening; but the responses has not been so prompt as we had hoped. Mr Tibble has kindly promised to arrange for the necessary provisions, and he will gladly hear from any friends who would be willing to provide for an evening’s hospitality (the expense involved is about 10/-) or to share in the cost. Recent hosts and hostesses have been:

December 26th, Mr and Mrs J Ford
January 2nd, Mr and Mrs Tibble
January 9th, Mr and Mrs W J Brain.

To these friends, we tender our sincere thanks.

NEWS ITEMS

As will be seen from another column, the amount raised for the Reading War Hospitals, by our Church Choir Concert, was the highly creditable sum of £52 16s. by a similar effort, on behalf of the Belgian Refugees’ Relief Fund, the sum of £67 13s was obtained last year. This makes a total of £120 9s for the two concerts. It is a record of which Mr F W Harvey, the Choirmaster, and the members of the choir, may legitimately be proud.

Our thanks are due, and cordially tendered, to Mr W J Rich, who acted as Treasurer, for the success of his efforts on behalf of the National Committee for Relief in Belgium. The retiring collections in November relaised £34 16s 8d for this fund. The Lord Lieutenant of the County has written to Mr Rich, gratefully acknowledging this “handsome contribution”.


The sum collected by Mr D Dalgleish for the Fund to send Christmas parcels to our Broad Street soldiers and sailors was £18 10s 0 ½d.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, February 1916 (D/N11/12/1/14)

The calamity of war teaches us a lesson

Maidenhead Congregational Church was girding itself for another year of war.

SOLDIER GUESTS.

There seems every probability that Maidenhead will be again called upon to receive a number of soldiers in training, and that in consequence our Schoolroom may be again required for their entertainment in the evenings. If it be so, we will cheerfully face the disturbance to our own arrangements, and no doubt the willing workers of last winter will feel it a privilege to serve again.

A Word for the New Year

With what spirits are we going forward into this strange New Year? …

We move into the New Year with the calamity of war upon us, and we may calmly wait the issue, if we believe in God, and if we are sure that for us, yea and for all the nations too, even our enemies, the end of it will bring us nearer to the goal of all true civilization. God has always brought blessings out of calamities. He who knows nothing of surgery might denounce the cruelty of the surgeon’s knife, but wisdom is sure that the hand that holds it is mercy. National putrefaction is a worse thing than national sorrow, and when God’s judgments are written in flaming letters across the lands, many who could not have heard the lesson in any other way, begin to understand that there is a God in the earth.

The virtues of courage and endurance are everyone’s admiration just now, so magnificently are they exemplified by our khaki-clad heroes. Is there not room and occasion for them in the lives of us all?…
T F Lewis.

SOLDIER GUESTS.
There seems every probability that Maidenhead will be again called upon to receive a number of soldiers in training, and that in consequence our Schoolroom may be again required for their entertainment in the evenings. If it be so, we will cheerfully face the disturbance to our own arrangements, and no doubt the willing workers of last winter will feel it a privilege to serve again.”

OUR ROLL OF HEROES.
There are a few changes to make since our last record. Charles Hurrell has been discharged from the Navy, in consequence of a breakdown in health. Cyril Hews has left Newhaven, where he has been since August of last year, and expects to proceed to the front immediately. Thomas Mulford has left for Egypt. Horace Gibbons is still in hospital, but is going on well. Percy Lewis has been gazetted Captain, Hugh Lewis has received a Second Lieutenancy in the Royal Engineers, and is stationed at Northampton. No news has been received of Harold Fisher, reported missing on September 28th, but it has been ascertained that some of his Company were taken prisoners on that day, and we may hope that he is among them. Benjamin Gibbons and David Dalgliesh have gone with their regiments to the scene of action in France. John Bolton has been promoted Company Quarter-Master Sergeant. Robert Harris is on the point of crossing to France, perhaps has already crossed. Bert Plum has gone down the Mediterranean, destination unknown. May our Heavenly Father, to whose gracious care we lovingly commend all our lads, preserve and bless them, and enable them to be faithful to their duty and their God.

OUR SOLDIERS’ LETTERS

Many acknowledgements have been received of the Church’s letter: we quote extracts from two.

“I write to thank the Church for the very kind and thoughtful letter which I received last week. It brings to my mind the happy days I spent in the Sunday School, which I look back upon as days of sunshine. It gives me great satisfaction to know that yourself and the Church have not forgotten one who has been away from your midst for a few years.”

“Let me thank you, as our Church’s representative, for the very nice letter of greeting and good will which I received on the 18th November. It has been a great comfort to me on several occasions to remember that I am a member of the Church, and I was very much gratified to receive the kind message, and the assurance that God is on our side, and is always with us.”

Maidenhead Congregational magazine, December 1915 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Christmas remembrances from Broad Street Church

Mrs Rawlinson, wife of the minister at Broad Street Congregational Church, co-ordinated that church’s scheme to send Christmas presents to young men associated with the church.

OUR SOLDIERS AND CHRISTMAS

Mrs Rawlinson is most grateful to the friends who so generously helped her to send parcels to the men from Broad Street in HM Forces last Christmas and throughout the year.

This year the number of men “with the colours” is doubled, and the need for “remembrances” from their old church is greater than ever. That these honoured brethren should be forgotten by their church, in their time of stress and strain, is unthinkable. An effort is therefore to be made, to send a gift to each man who has gone out, either from the church or Brotherhood. At the request of the church, Mr C Dalgleish, Hollybush, Grosvenor Road, Caversham, has kindly consented to act as Hon. Treasurer of the necessary fund. Will our friends please rally to our help once more, and send their gifts of money to Mr Dalgleish, and their gifts of woollen comforts, chocolate, tinned goods, tobacco, books, etc, to Mrs Rawlinson, 50 Western Elms Avenue.

Parcels must be posted before December 13th, to ensure their arrival “at the front” before Christmas Day.

The number of men to be provided for is 74. as friends know, it costs 1s, at least, to send each parcel outside the country.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1915 (D/N11/12/1/14)

God bless the new recruits

In May 1915 Maidenhead Congregational Church reported the latest men to sign up:


OUR ROLL OF HONOUR
Since the list of recruits was published in the Manual, the following additions have been made:-

J. QUINCEY. Army Service Corps.
HAROLD FISHER.
WM. HENRY CLARK. Army Service Corps.
DAVID DALGLIESH. Public Schools Battalion.
EDWARD L. MYNETT. Recruiting Sergeant, Berks.
BENJAMIN GIBBONS. 9th Berks.

May the good Father bless and keep them.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, May 1915 (D/N33/12/1/5)