“The most wonderful thing in the whole story of the war is the marvellous heroism of our men”

Worshippers in Maidenhead were stirred by thoughts of the heroism of the men at the front.

EXTRACTS FROM A WAR ANNIVERSARY SERMON, AUGUST 5TH, 1917.

Perhaps the most wonderful thing in the whole story of the war is the marvellous heroism of our men. We were inclined to think that courage and the power of facing death for high ends belonged only to the past, that our age was too soft to risk life or maiming for an ideal. But it has turned out that the heroism and self-sacrifice of our men has been more wonderful than anything in the world’s history. The stories of Greek, Roman, Spartan bravery, have nothing to match it. Indeed, the conditions were wholly different. It is one thing to face death for a few hours in a brief battle or even series of battles, it is quite another to live for weeks and months while death in its most tremendous form is being rained incessantly upon you, and not a moment’s lull can be secured. So civilization, far from weakening man’s moral and physical fibre, has strengthened it, has given him a more masterly self-control, has made him capable of acts of courage and sacrifice which were not thought possible.

Before this war, we had stock illustrations of sublime heroism, the 300 at Thermopylae, brave Horatius at the bridge, and so on; and we had stock examples of generous self-sacrifice for comrades, Sir Philip Sidney at Zutphen, for instance. But we shall never dare to refer to these stories again, they are all obsolete, outfaced and outmatched a hundred times in the story of what our wonderful men have done. Our brothers are finer, nobler fellows than we had ever dreamed of! How many there have been like Julian Grenfell (Lord Desborough’s eldest son), of whom a short biography says that he went to the war as to a banquet for honour’s sake, that his following of Christ did not affect his ardour for the battle, that his intense moral courage distinguished him even more than his physical bravery from the run of common men, and his physical bravery was remarkable enough, whether he was hunting, boxing, or whatever he was at.

That is the spirit in which our Christian warfare must be waged. We shall do nothing if we go on in a haphazard sort of way. Said a scholar and saint not long ago, “Thoughtful men have no use for the Churches until they take their distinctive business in the world more seriously.” If we believe in God and salvation and another life, it is stupid to go out and live as though they were only fables. We must take God seriously, as men and women who believe that the rule of God is a grand reality. We must take worship seriously, knowing it to be the food of the soul; not playing with it as though it were a child’s pastime to be taken up or laid aside according to the mood of the moment. We must take Christian life seriously, remembering that if we are Christ’s, the first claim upon us (not the second or the twentieth) is to be seeking the widening of His Kingdom.


Maidenhead St Luke

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

May I draw your attention to two Parochial things: firstly, the Anniversary of the War, which we hope to observe with special forms of Service on Sunday, August 5th. I hope many will make a real effort to come, and, if possible, to attend the Holy Communion Service to pray for the speedy coming of a Righteous Peace, and for strength to do our duty, however hard it might seem…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Cookham Dean
Special Services during August

Sunday, August 5th – Services as appointed in connection with the Anniversary of the Declaration of War. Service books will be provided.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5); Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P181/28A/26); Cookham Dean parish magazine, Augst 1917 (D/P43B/28A/11)

“Personally, my hopes lie in the Constituent Assembly choosing a Constitutional Monarchy” in Russia

Customary insistence that churchgoers should wear their Sunday best had gone by the wayside.

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

This short line comes to greet you in the midst of what I hope will be pleasant summer weather. The very beauty of Nature around us must make us in our green Island think of the goodness of God’s bounty to us all ; and it must in our thankfulness suggest to us how great our sympathy should be with all those of our kith and kin, who in weariness too often, in hardship too frequent, are on our behalf in the shell-scarred, dusty, noisome trenches of many foreign lands.

I would not exhort, as Vicar, for just now we are all very ready to stir each other up to action, but I would rather beg of you as a fellow worshipper, that we should try not to grow weary or fainthearted in our prayers for those we love, whether at home or in Church. St Luke’s Church is open always from 8 am to 6 pm, later on Fridays and Sundays; St Peter’s is open, too. Those who cannot find a quiet corner at home, can find one there. Working clothes do not matter; God wants our hearts, not fine clothes.

There is, too, the War Shrine to provide a centre for our prayers. And many could come to the weekly Friday Intercession Service. We have to remember that life is not the only boon we can ask for those we love but that honour, purity, and straightforwardness are even greater things. I think we are all doing this pretty well; but I suppose we could none of us honestly say we could not do a great deal better…

Now may I say one ward as regards Treats, etc. The War certainly imposes on us the need for great economy. All expenses should, so far as possible, be cut down. But the War has already lasted nearly three years, and owing to the Republican disorder in Russia, the hope of an early Peace has faded away; though the entry of the United States into the War has made more certain than ever before a full and final victory. We must all hope for a speedy settlement in the land of our great Russian Ally; personally, my hopes lie in the Constituent Assembly choosing a Constitutional Monarchy.

So, many children are fast growing up without much memory of the peaceful days before the War. For them there should be, I think, very simple and economic Treats. I hope those who agree with me will support our Sunday School Fund during this month. I feel that the Mothers are another class who should have some little outing, as cheap as possible, of course, still a little change from the daily work and anxiety…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Help to hasten the arrival of a victorious peace!

Maidenhead people were asked to support the troops in prayer and with their savings.

Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,

… Our new War Shrine (temporary) is now erected in the Church. I hope many who pass by will enter to say a prayer from time to time in that quiet corner, for those in danger for our sakes, or to honour the memory of our gallant dead. If anyone would like to give a desk or rail to kneel against, they should communicate with Mr. Hazeldine, 5, College Rise, the hon. sec. of the C.E.M.S., the Society to whose generosity the Shrine is mainly due, or with myself as Vicar…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY


St Luke’s War Saving Association

Miss Garratt, hon. sec., attends at the National School, East Street, from 7 to 8 p.m. every Monday, to receive deposits of 6d. and upwards to buy War Saving Certificates. Come in numbers, and help to hasten the arrival of a victorious peace!

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

We are reaching a difficult point in our National struggle

The vicar of Maidenhead St Luke remained reluctant to encourage work on Sundays.

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

We are reaching a difficult point in our National struggle. The test of endurance is being rigorously enforced upon us. We are called upon to cultivate all available land, to put aside what money we can lend through War Savings Associations and in other ways to the State and to be very economical in our use of food, especially of bread, and finally to do it all cheerfully for the sake of our country

Now, all these things can only be done well by God’s help. Anyone can begin well, but to persevere we want grace from God to strengthen our weakness. Now to get that, we want some leisure to think of God.

So I would urge that while necessary Sunday labour, e.g. on the land at present, must be done, do not let us do any work on Sunday that by forethought we could do in the week, for in the long run men and women can only do a definite amount of work, and if they work needlessly on Sunday it usually means slackness during several days of the week, and body and soul alike demand attention…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, May 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

National Service is just now very much to the fore

Paid employment on Sundays was severely restricted before the war, but necessity was leading to relaxation of the rules. The vicar of St Luke’s in Maidenhead had his doubts.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and parishioners,-

We have spent, I think, on the whole a very profitable Lent… The older men who were able to do so, came well to the three Services for Men; many of the younger ones, as we all know, were employed on their Country’s work elsewhere…

Just now the loss of friends is so common that I can usually make no reference to it in this Letter…

National Service is just now very much to the fore. I feel sure that the Churchpeople of this Parish will respond to any call made upon them. I ought perhaps to say, though I do it reluctantly, as it is a personal thing, that Mr. Sellors and I have both given in our names to the Bishop in case we are needed for Service elsewhere, but nothing has happened as yet. In the meanwhile and probably all the War, we are obeying the Director General’s advice and are remaining in our present work.

I have been asked to say a word or two about the difficult question of Sunday work. I suppose the old Christian rule is that works of necessity and charity are allowable…. This year I gather that during say six weeks of the sowing season, many gardens, and some farm lands, must be cultivated on Sunday. After that till Harvest, I should say that ordinary weeding, etc, could be done during the week, especially under the Daylight Saving Bill…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, April 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

We all need so much help in this troublous time

The vicar of Maidenhead St Luke urged parishioners to commit themselves to God, with the usual Lent self-denial double by the nation’s needs.

Dear Friends and Parishioners, –

The Lenten Season calls us as Church-people to make sacrifices, even of innocent pleasures, so that we may by self-discipline train ourselves to be soldiers of Jesus Christ. The Nation this Spring reinforces the call of the Church. Let us each make up our mind to forego some luxury or pleasure, young and old alike. One may give up sugar, another beer or whiskey, another tobacco, another dancing, another perhaps entertainments. All of these seem trivial things, but I suppose little things are harder to forego than great… And prayer and worship are called for…

May I ask all who can do so – and many can find time if they try – to come to one or other week-day Service, as a definite act of trust in God, Whose help we all need so much in this troublous time, both for ourselves, and for those we love in hardship and danger overseas. We have only arranged three special Services for Men at present, on account of the stress of the war. I hope they will be well attended. The Friday-afternoon services will, we trust, meet specially the needs of the older members of the congregation, to whom darkness is an obstacle. The Wednesday-night Services at 8, and the Friday War Intercession at 7 will, I earnestly hope, be made use of by very many.

If any require an object for their self-denial, I can suggest two: first a Church one – the Free Will Offering Fund, which much needs new members; secondly a State one – War Saving Certificates…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, March 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Remember the men who by air and sea and land, are enduring great hardships for our sakes

A Maidenhead church urged prayer for those serving abroad.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

This will be a very brief letter. Lent will soon be here. Let us make good use of it! I propose to have the usual services, save only that I shall not have more than four or five Men’s Services, as so few men are left with us.…

Lastly, may I ask you all to make of this Lent a second time of National Mission, and above all to remember before God on Friday nights and Sunday evenings, and at other times, the men who by air and sea and land, are enduring great hardships for our sakes.

I remain,

Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, February 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Hearty good wishes from the Scouts

Two Earley Scout leaders joined up.

The Scouts Patrol have begun their year with the loss of their excellent patrol leader, Mr Bruce Wing, who is now called up to serve his country and carries with him our hearty good wishes. Mr Fry, who wished to help us in this work, follows his example and must leave us. His personality and knowledge of scout work will be missed. Mr Crapp has come to our assistance and has most kindly made the interests of the patrol his own.

Earley parish magazine, February 1917 (D/P192/28A/14)

A Christmas spirit in defiance of all the might of Central Europe

The vicar of St Luke’s, Maidenhead, urged hope.

Dear Friends and Parishioners,

Christmas is come and gone, and the New Year looms up before us doubtful and uncertain, yet we hope full of promise. We know all things are in God’s hands, and if we are faithful, God will bless mightily all our honourable prayers, wishes and deeds. Let us hope that no faint-heartedness may, as a Nation or individuals baulk us of a goal half-won. But let us pray for a righteous Peace on Earth, as in Heaven, so soon as ever God may see fit to let us be given this great Grace.

As regards Christmas, we had a few more Communicants than last year, which is a very good sign, as the strain of the War affects the Parish much more this year than last. Thanks to many kind ladies, both St Luke’s and St Peter’s were beautifully decorated, while the excellent singing showed the hard work Mr Garrett Cox and Mr Snow, and St Luke’s and St Peter’s Choirs, must have put in, often under circumstances of considerable difficulty…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Future Festivities

Owing to the War everything will have to be on a quiet scale, but we must do something to show a Christmas spirit in defiance of all the might of Central Europe. The two things for which I ask subscriptions and donations are firstly: the Band of Hope Tea and Prizes, to be held on Jan. 8th. We must keep up the children’s interest in Temperance, especially in War time; secondly the Sunday School treat and prizes.


Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)