An extraordinary state of affairs

The vicar of Dedworth was a little miffed to be turned down for service as an army chaplain.


All Saints’, Dedworth

Since the publication of last month’s Magazine, I have heard that the Chaplain General cannot offer me a Chaplaincy. I understand that this is the fate of the majority of Priests who are recommended to the Chaplain General by their various Bishops. It seems to be an extraordinary state of affairs, however, I am sure the regular worshippers at All Saints’ will be much relieved, not because they would miss me personally, but because they would be sorry to be deprived of the usual number of Services.

Clewer parish magazine, May 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

‘I may have to “join up” at any time now’

The curate at Dedworth had applied for service as an army chaplain.

All Saints’, Dedworth

The Rector warned you last month that owing to the call the Country is making upon able-bodied men for National Service, a member of this staff might be withdrawn from Parish work which would mean the cutting down of the number of Services held in the Parish.

Since that date I have been recommended by the Bishop of the Diocese to the Chaplain General as an Army Chaplain, and have also had some correspondence with the latter. It is therefore possible that I may have to “join up” at any time now, or on the other hand nothing may come of these negotiations.

But if the former be the case we hope to make arrangements for at least an early Celebration of the Holy Communion every Sunday and a sung Evensong at All Saints. The Sung Eucharist would have to be given up for the time being. Should these changes come to pass I do most earnestly hope that you will make real use of the opportunities for worship offered you, and do your utmost to “keep things going” until, please God, I return.

Clewer parish magazine (D/P39/28A/9)

“Are we down-hearted”?

A PoW writes home after two years in the hands of the enemy.

Prisoners of War.

We think it would interest our readers to see extracts from letters from one of our Prisoners of War, Private W. Simmonds, of Dedworth. Every month we send in from Clewer a small collection for the Prisoners of War Fund. This month 16/- was sent. The Boys of St. Augustine’s Home contribute largely towards it. Mrs. Buttress and Mrs. Cowie very gladly receive contributions, however small, as they all mount up. They are sent in the beginning of each month, and after reading the letter you will see how very grateful the recipients are. The parcels used to be packed weekly at the Town Hall, Windsor, but now they are sent straight from the London Depot, 4, Thurloe Place, London, S.W.

Letter from Private Simmonds, Kriegsgefangenenlager, Prisoner of War, Langensalza, Germany, Jan., 1917.

Dear Mrs. Cowie,

So pleased to have the pleasure of writing to you, to let you know that I am still in splendid health, thanks to the parcels you send me weekly, for these I think go a long way to keep our spirits up in this very trying time, but I suppose we shall have to stick to our well-known motto – “Are we down-hearted”? At present there is still the same answer amongst us, that is, “No.” But we shall be pleased when it is all finished and we can return to those who are dear to us again.

Madam, I should be very pleased if you can give any instructions as to the acknowledging of the parcels, as no name of the donor is received from the Central Prisoners of War Committee, London. It was a splendid parcel, and of course I should like for yourself to continue packing the parcel, but there we are in war time, and orders are orders, so we must abide by them for the present, but not much longer, I hope.

You say in your letter, Madam, that we must have patience, but I am afraid mine won’t last out; being here two years has tried my patience to its utmost, but still with the help of those fine parcels I have managed to pull through with flying colours. I shall certainly have to visit that War Shrine in Dedworth when I return.

And now will you kindly convey best wishes and thanks to His Worship the Mayor of Windsor, yourself, and all helpers of the Committee and all in the dear old Royal Borough and vicinity for their-never-to-be-forgotten kindness towards myself and all other unfortunate comrades of the Borough. I am sure, Madam, if you and the Mayor heard how good we all speak of you, you would be prouder than the V.C. winner. Again thanking you and all members of the Committee for their kindness,

I remain yours thankfully,

W. SIMMONDS (Private).

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

Excellent work with the hand grenade

Clewer parishioners were proud of accolades awarded to Dedworth man William Bloomfield.

All Saints’, Dedworth

It is with great pleasure we insert the following letter:-
To 2617 Private W. Bloomfield,
1st Bucks Bn.

Your Commanding Officer, and Brigade Commander, have informed me that you have distinguished yourself by your conduct in the field on the night April 1-2, 1916.

I have read with much pleasure,
(Signed) R. FAREHAM, Major-General,
Commanding 48th S.M. Division.

William Bloomfield has done splendid work for his country. His conduct under fire is wonderfully calm, and he has been awarded the above for his excellent work with the hand grenade.

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P39/28A/9)

“Our soldiers, sailors and flying men need our prayers

New Year’s Eve was set to be the first of three special days of national prayer for the war. Several Berkshire parishes give us their slant on it. The vicar of All Saints, Dedworth also had a story from the Front about attitudes to the enemy.

All Saints’, Dedworth

The year 1916 still sees us engaged in a war even more terrible than the beginning of 1915. The Nation is bidden by its spiritual leaders, the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church to keep Friday, December 31st, as a day of special prayer and intercession. Saturday, January 1st, is to be a day of preparation for Communion, which all are asked to make on Sunday, January 2nd. The duty of the Church is to carry on the fight against the World, Flesh and Devil, and it is the duty of the Church’s officers to lead in that fight. The response at times to that call seems small, it may be larger than it looks, but at any rate it makes the work as hard, if not harder, to carry on than other warfare. How grand has been the response to carry arms for King and Country, but the real victory for which we are fighting will not be won unless at the end we are a Nation nearer to God; having shown to the world that Christianity is the greatest power in war and peace.

Mr. Begbie narrates the following from behind the English lines in France:-

“The other day a doctor fell in with a British soldier whose blood was maddened by what he had seen of the German treatment of our wounded men. ‘Do you know what I mean to do,’ he demanded, ‘when I come across one of their wounded? I mean to put my boot in his ugly face.’ The doctor replied, ‘No you won’t; it’s not your nature. I’ll tell you what you will do – you’ll give him a drink out of your water-bottle.’ To which the soldier after a pause, in which he searched the doctor’s face, made grumbling and regretful answer, ‘Well, may be I shall.’”

Reading St John

Mr Rogers has now been moved up to the Front. He is where he wished to be when he offered for service as a Chaplain, and where he will have the opportunity of speaking to men at the most solemn moment of their lives of the things that matter eternally. We shall continue to be much in prayer for him, that he may be kept from all harm, and that his messages may be with great power.

Now may I commend to your very careful notice the arrangements which have been made to enable you to observe the last day of December and the first two days of January as our King and our Archbishops and Bishops desire that they should be observed. We stand on the threshold of a year that promises to be fateful beyond any in our previous history, a year that will probably test severely our fortitude, our courage and our faith.

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Splendid sandbags go straight to the front

Women in Dedworth were working hard making sandbags for the front. To some these might have seemed less rewarding than making things for the wounded, but their products were just as useful.

All Saints’, Dedworth

The second instalment of sand-bags sent up have been acknowledged, and are reported “splendid – sent straight to the front.” Two or three private letters written home by Dedworth soldiers speak of the value they set on the sand-bags, and the huge quantity required. Shall not all this encourage us to make a great effort to raise funds and stitch bags when Mothers’ Meetings, Clubs, etc., start again in the autumn?

Clewer parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P39/28A/9)

A year of horrors unimaginable, and the end not in sight

Across the county, the first anniversary of the declaration of war was solemnly commemorated with religious services.

At Mortimer West End, the services were dominated by the loss of two of its men who had given their lives.

Wednesday, August 4th, was the anniversary of the declaration of war by England, and we held a well-attended service in the evening of that day to pray about the past and the future. The service began with a Memorial for those who had fallen, remembering especially Captain Stephen Field, R.A.M.C., and Frank Goodchild, who went down on the “Good Hope.” Then we joined in intercession for our Rulers, our Army and Navy, and our Allies, the wounded and those tending them, and made an act of penitence for our national sins and shortcomings. The family of the late Captain Field has put up a memorial brass in the church bearing the following inscription:

“In loving memory of Captain Stephen Field, R.A.M.C., who died a prisoner in Germany, April 10th, 1915, aged 34. He was taken prisoner in the retreat from Mons while tending the wounded in a church. ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

The later news which has come shows that the text was true of Captain Field up to the very last, as he laid down his life attending to typhus patients in camp in the midst of appalling conditions.

If any parents should be summoned to France to see a son dangerously wounded (which God grant may not occur) will they communicate at once with the Vicar, who will put them in touch with an organization which will make things easier for them?

At Stratfield Mortimer:
August 4th
The anniversary of the outbreak of war was observed by large congregations at all the services, 7.45 a.m., 2.30 and 7.30 p.m. There was no preaching, only hymns and prayers, but there was impressive evidence of a deep reality and earnestness. And this we hope to see maintained at the two week-day war services throughout the autumn. We should like to see at these weekly services more of parents and friends of Mortimer men who are now at the Front.

All Saints’, Dedworth, reported:

August 4th, the anniversary of the Declaration of War, was kept as a day of solemn Intercession. There was, as far as possible, continual Intercession throughout the day, and Services at different hours. We were glad to see so many were able to take their part at sometime of the day. We hope these days help to make us realize the tremendous need there is for all to intercede humbly every day to God for our nation, our friends, and our foes.

Nonconformists took part as well as Anglicans. Maidenhead Congregational Church announced the town’s nonconformists’ contributions to the day:

A YEAR OF WAR!
It is a whole year since the world’s peace was broken up, and horrors unimaginable before have become our daily meat. And the end is not yet in sight. There are those who prophesy that the end will be as sudden and unexpected as the beginning, and that Christmas will see us settled down once more in ways of peace. Whatever happens, we are convinced that the Allies will not lay down their arms until their warfare is accomplished, and they have lost no jot of their conviction that their chivalrous and Christian struggle on behalf of a great cause will be crowned with a complete and satisfying victory. But it may be that vast sacrifices lie before us, and for those we shall need more and more the continual succours of grace of God. Fortitude must be fed and supported by faith.

We urge upon all our friends the duty of earnest and constant prayer. We ought to pray in private as well as in public services, that our soldiers and generals may be strong, and our rulers wise. We ought to pray for the Church, that it may be rich in counsel, and that it may guide the people to a more solemn faith in God. And we shall need to pray for ourselves, that our faith may not fail, however great the burdens may be that it may be called upon to carry.

A united meeting of the Free Churches of the town for Thanksgiving and Intercession has been arranged to be held in the Congregational Church on Wednesday, August 4th, the Anniversary of the outbreak of war, at 7.30 p.m. Rev. G. Ellis (the new Primitive Methodist Minister) will preside, and a brief address will be given by the Rev. G. D. Mason. We hope the faith and gratitude of Maidenhead Nonconformists will suffice to bring them together in large numbers, and that we shall renew and enlarge our trust in a ruling and guiding Will. Let us not dwell too much on the past, but let us think of our duty now, and let us set our hearts right before Him. When the nation is on its knees, the victory will arrive.

The minister of Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading, whose instincts were opposed to war in general, was less thrilled by the commemorations, although he allowed his congregation to take part in the town’s services.

Wednesday August 4th will see the first anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War. War is not a thing that we rejoice in. Rather do we deplore the necessity for such a dire calamity. But we are in it – righteously, as we believe – and, God helping us, we are determined to see it through to a victorious conclusion. That is the thought that is animating the vast majority of our countrymen at this time, and a demonstration to give it expression on August 4th is now being organised by the Mayor…

Personally I cannot say that I am enamoured of processions and demonstrations at such a time as this; but that is neither here nor there. The thing I do rejoice in is that the religious element is to be prominent in the proceedings, and I hope my friends will help to make it and keep it so. In this connection I desire to draw attention to the United Service (arranged by the Executive Committee of the Free Church Council) which is to be held in our church that day at 5 p.m. Several of the Free Church ministers of the town will take part, and our organist and choir have promised their help. I trust we may see the church crowded for that service.

St John’s Church in Reading reported its own services and the interdenominational town ones:

Wednesday, August 4th, the anniversary of the Declaration of War, was observed among us principally as an occasion for earnest intercession. We began the day with a Celebration of Holy Communion at 5.30 a.m., at which there were 31 communicants, most of whom were on their way to work. At 10.30 a.m. we had a second Celebration, with an address by the Vicar. The hour of this service was fixed with a view to giving mothers an opportunity to come and pray for their sons at the Lord’s own service, and the number that came shewed how greatly they valued the opportunity. It was indeed a wonderful service, and will live long in the memories of those privileged to take part in it.

Later in the day, after Evensong in St Laurence’s Church, attended by the Mayor and Corporation, there was a great procession, in which all the public bodies in the town were represented, ending up with a demonstration in the Market Place, at which, after a short religious service, stirring addresses were delivered by Bishop Boyd-Carpenter and the Lord Chief Justice. St John’s Church was open from 8.30 onwards, and we ended the day with Family Prayers in Church, at which a large number of worshippers were present, thus ending the day as we had begun it – in prayer.

Churches in the Winkfield area also commemorated the anniversary of the war’s start.

ASCOT

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4th, the Anniversary of the Declaration of War, was observed in our Church, as in almost every Church throughout the land, as a day of Intercession before Almighty God in the spirit of deep penitence and true humility. We are thankful to be able to say that the chain of intercession was never allowed to be broken throughout the whole day. The great service of intercession, the Holy Eucharist, was offered at 8 a.m. and at 10.30 a.m.; and some of the grand old Offices of the Church were said: Sext, None, and Compline. The large attendance at all the services was something to be thankful for. It proved that our people have a sincere belief in the power of intercessory prayer and are willing to make an effort to do at least this much for our soldiers and sailors. But it also proved that mane more might, by a little sacrifice in the re-arrangement of their time, attend the Intercession Service which is held every Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. “Orare est laborare” – “to pray is to work,” and intercession for our men is a very important work in which we can all do our share, if we will.

CRANBOURNE

We were very unfortunate as regards the weather in our open air services of Intercession, four of them had to be abandoned owing to the rain. The Intercessions Services on the Anniversary of the Declaration of War were very well attended.

WINKFIELD

The special Services on August 4th were well attended, especially in the evening when we had a full Church; and the congregations were also large on the Sunday following. The anthem, “Lord for thy tender mercies sake,” being well rendered on both morning and evening.

Our thanks are due to the members of the C.E.M.S., who distributed notices of these services, which work was especially valuable in view of the notices in the Magazine being somewhat belated owing to its late issue this month.

Second Lieutenant Wilfred Loyd has just gone to the Front and will we trust be remembered in our prayers.

We are glad to be able to add two more names, Jack Dear and James Winnen to the list of Winkfield men serving, which was printed last month.

We regret to learn that Private R. Nickless has been wounded after having been at the Front only a few days. He has undergone an operation as is now progressing favourably.

The Vicar has sent a copy of the August Magazine to every man whose name is on the list published in that number.

WARFIELD

WAR ANNIVERSARY.- On August 4th there were two early celebrations of Holy Communion at 6.30 and 8, and though a week-day there were thirty communicants. The best attended service however was the open-air service held at Newell Green at 7 p.m. The Choir vested at the Brownlow Hall and preceded by the Processional Cross and followed by the Warfield Scouts made their way to the Cross Roads, where the service was begun by the singing of the National Anthem, followed by a short address by the Vicar on penitence and prayer, after which the hymn “Lord teach us how to pray aright,” was sung; prayers were offered for every Warfield belligerent by name.

The Vicar then asked all present to come up to the Church and to walk in couples and maintain strict silence while Church Litany was recited in procession. Just before reaching the Church the old Hundredth was sung; the service in Church was that sanctioned for use on the first Sunday in the year. The congregation which came in the procession numbered about three hundred. We thank God for His good hand upon us and for the great number whose hearts were touched and whose lips were opened on this solemn day.

The vicar of Warfield planned an open air service to commemorate the first anniversary of the war’s start.

THE VICAR’S LETTER.

MY DEAR FRIENDS AND PARISHIONERS,

Wednesday, August 4th, ought to be a very solemn day for all of us this year, being as you know the Anniversary of the Declaration of War. A great example is being set to us all on that day by our King and Queen Mary by their intention to be present at a solemn Service of Intercession in St. Paul’s Cathedral at noon. What are we going to do? Let the King be represented by all his subjects in Warfield, and St. Paul’s represented by our own Parish Church. The hour of noon be substituted by 7 p.m. Let us have a united open-air service at the Crossways at Newell Green. The National Anthem will be sung, a short address will be given. All our village soldiers will be prayed for by name. The Litany will be recited on our way to Church, where the service will conclude with the special service used on the first Sunday of this year. The Holy Communion will be celebrated that morning at 6.30 and 8.

Anyone who is absent on such an evening I should feel was ashamed of his country, and deserved no blessing from God. Let us all be united about it, and come not in tens but in hundreds and not be afraid to confess the mighty working of God in our midst. This can be done and I want you all to say that it must be done. Let us confess our God and cry mightily to Him. I ask every parishioner to do his or her utmost to bring their neighbours. London has set us all an example, let the country do her part, and may God lift up your hearts to seek His great and abundant blessings in the coming year.

Yours affectionately in Christ,
WALTER THACKERAY.

More privately, the Community of St John Baptist held its own services at the House of Mercy, Clewer.

4 August 1915
Anniversary of our declaration of war with Germany. The Penitents were present at the 7 a.m. Eucharist. War Litany was said by one of the priests at 12; & at Evensong there were special prayers, hymns, & the National Anthem.

Florence Vansittart Neale went with a friend to attend the big national service at St Paul’s.

4 August 1915
Up by early train with Mary Hine to London for the service at St Paul’s! 1st year of war over! Long wait. Nice service. Artillery band. Royalties there. Over by 1. We missed 2 o’clock train so had lunch, came down 3.45. Church after.

Bubs’ men had motor drive & tea at Henley.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P120/28A/14); Clewer parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P39/28A/9); Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, August 1915 (D/N33/12/1/5); Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, August 1915 (D/N11/12/1/14); Reading St John parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P172/28A/24); Winkfield District Monthly Magazine, August 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/8); CSJB Annals (D/EX1675/1/14/5); Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)

Tinned food for Berkshire prisoners of war

During the First World War, prisoners of war were not treated quite as well as they would be today. Food and clothing were in short supply, but the Red Cross helped to funnel supplies sent by friends at home. The Clewer parish magazine urged parishioners to help out:

We desire to call the attention of our Readers to the excellent work which is being done by “the Berkshire Prisoners of War Fund.” Tins of food and clothing are sent every week from the Windsor Guildhall to prisoners of the Berkshire Regiment and other prisoners connected with this neighbourhood. All who wish to help in this good work are asked to contribute in money or kind. Every Thursday goods are packed and despatched from the Guildhall. Two or three of our Dedworth men are amongst the prisoners receiving this help.

Clewer parish magazine, July 1915 (D/P39/28A/9)

We must pray for our enemies

The church of Dedworth was another to have strong religious views. The incumbent advised, in the magazine the church shared with Clewer St Andrew, that prayer should be for the enemy as well as for our own side:

Our minds are naturally filled with one great subject – the War – and so much has already been said and written to help us how we should act during this time, it seems difficult to add anything further. But one or two thoughts about our prayers: How real they do seem to be now: we can realize better the duty and privilege of offering up to Almighty God, intercessions on behalf of our dear ones, our land, our empire – we feel how earnestly we can plead for justice, and peace with honour.

What do we pray for? ]

(1) That all may be carried out according to the will of God, and that His love may be made manifest, and clear throughout the world. We hope for victory, but that too we must leave to the decree of God.
(2) For all engaged in the war in any way; remember as Christians we are bound to pray for all, whether fighting for, or against us.
(3) For our empire, that selfishness and greed may disappear, and all may be self-controlled, and thoughtful for others.

How should we pray?
(1) Not with pride, or with any spirit of boastful assurance on account of the greatness, and power of our empire, but with the utmost humbleness, confessing our sins, asking pardon of God for our own, and our nation’s short-comings.
(2) We should surely try to be present, at any rate, as often as we can, at the Holy Eucharist. It is at that service all the Catholic Church of Christ meet at the great Prayer Meeting at the great Service of Intercession.

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, September 1914 (D/P39/28A/9)