Britain’s great army in “civies” again after their unforgettable experiences

Maidenhead men were coming home.

OUR SOLDIERS.

Britain’s great army, having gloriously accomplished its tremendous task, is being rapidly broken up, and already something like one-half of our men are demobilised. F.W. Harmer, R. R. Hill, J.H. Bolton, Harold Islip, Heorge Belcher, Cecil Meade, C.S. Vardy, C. Catliff, in addition to those who have been previously named, are in “civies” again, and others are shortly expecting their papers. Percy Lewis has been sent home from France, and is for the present doing duty at an Army Hospital in Camberwell. It is a great pleasure to welcome all these friends home again, after their unforgettable experiences.

Maidenhead Congregational magazine, March 1919 (D/N33/12/1/5)

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“We shudder to think how thin seemed the partition between us and destruction!”

Maidenhead Congregational Church rejoiced.

PEACE!

The war is over! How difficult it was to believe at first! We could only slowly get our eyes accustomed to the sudden light. It seemed like passing out of a dark prison into the light of freedom again. Timidity was changed into a feeling of triumph. We can scarcely recognise the altered world, the change has been so sudden and startling. Everything seems new. The glow of victory and expectation is everywhere. As the enemy’s records slowly come to light, it is ever more plain how deliberate and wanton was Germany’s onslaught upon a world at peace, how deep her plots to get the nations under her heel, how tremendous her preparations, yes, and how nearly she succeeded! And now her huge strength has been destroyed. We open our daily newspapers now without a tremor. Nothing in the Peace celebrations seems more wonderful than the restraint and dignified calm of the people as a whole. There was no “mafficking” in the streets, there was no bombast anywhere. Perhaps it was because we had all suffered too deeply. Exultation of course there was, and it was abundantly justified. Dr. McLaren in one of his books asks the question, “Does Christianity forbid us to rejoice when some mighty system of wrong and oppression with its tools and accomplices, is cleared off from the face of the earth?” And the great preacher answers his own question with a text of scripture: “When the wicked perish there is shouting.”

It will be good for us to strive to make our gratitude to God more conscious and eager. We have been in tremendous peril! The Prime Minister said some year or two ago, “We shall win, but we shall only just win.” And it has been “only just.” We may well shudder to think how thin seemed the partition between us and destruction! Can we hope that a new sense of God will fall upon the nation? We need divine guidance and help as certainly in the reconstruction problems as in the peril of the war. Britain’s future depends upon the settlements of the coming year. The nation and the Churches too are at the cross roads! None of us, none of our sires or grandsires, have known a time when the call for earnest thinking and devoted service was to be compared with what it is to-day. Everyone of us must give answer unswervingly if we are not to let the hour pass and the opportunity slip away.

And now, among other things, we want our boys back again. We have felt their absence keenly, not only in our homes, but in the Church. There are nine of our own who will not return, and we will not forget them. But the others, may they come back firmer in fibre, more ready to serve Christ in His Church and in His Kingdom, more determined by His help to “build Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land.” And may the lessons of our great trial and triumph make us all wise and strong while life lasts.”

CHRISTMAS.

We ought to be able to fill our Christmas this year with real and unaffected joy. The great shadow is taken off merry making. Not that all the problems of the world have been solved, but they are nearer solution, and there is a grand hope in our hearts. And the coming of the world’s great King may remind us that the first of all conditions of real peace and content is a child-like heart, a spirit of gentleness and meekness, and of trust in the guidance of the good Father above. Rivalries and frettings eat out our peace, as a moth a garment, as acid soft metal. When man is right with God, all the earth will be right with men. If we are to gain true peace and happiness in the future, either for ourselves or for the nations, it must be by utter submission to Him who was born a child at Bethlehem.

OUR SOLDIERS.

F. W. Harmer is in hospital in London, suffering from some internal trouble, and may have to undergo an operation. Ernest Bristow is much better, and will soon be ready for his artificial leg. He is back at the Maidenhead Red Cross Hospital. Hugh Lewis has been down with a severe and serious attack of “flu,” and is in hospital at Boulogne.”

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

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)

Killed in HMS Vanguard

An Earley man went down with HMS Vanguard, which exploded at Scapa Flow. It remains one of the worst accidental disasters to befall the Royal Navy.

LIST OF MEN SERVING IN HIS MAJESTY’S FORCES

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list: Howard Bull, Russell Harmer, Leonard Tovey.

In addition to those already mentioned we especially commend the following to your prayers:

SICK OR WOUNDED: Leonard Brown, Gilbert Adams, Frank Hayward.
DIED OF WOUNDS: Robert Newton, William Murphy.
KILLED IN HMS “VANGUARD”: James Hall.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

New enlistments from Maidenhead

Maidenhead Congregational Church reported on some changes to its roll of honour in the January 1915 issue of its magazine:

NEW ENLISTMENTS

Since our list of men who have joined the Colours was published, there has been some additions.
ERNEST BRISTOW….R.A.M.C. Home Counties’ Field Ambulance.
A.G. PRIOR……………Canadians
HAROLD ISLIP…………R.A.M.C. 2nd Lon. Sanitary Co.

The camp at Newbury has now been broken up, and F.W. Harmer and T.W. Mulford, who have been stationed there, are now guarding prisoners on board H.M.S. Canada, which is anchored about a mile off Ryde.

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

A child’s house of cards in ruins

Maidenhead Congregational Church ponders the war, which seems to have come as something of a shock to them, and remembers its own young men who have joined up:

THE WAR.

To most of us the war came as an immense surprise. We thought war between the great nations, the civilized, not to say the Christian, nations, was at an end for ever. We heard with irritation and impatience the many prophecies that war was bound to come, thinking them nothing but stupid cries of “wolf”. We believed that Christian teaching and the influence of the Churches in England and Germany had built up an edifice of trust and good feeling, which made the talk of possible war nothing but a monstrous absurdity. But alas! That edifice at a touch tumbled into ruins like a child’s house of cards, and we were plunged into the most tremendous war in all history!

At the directors meeting of the London Missionary Society on Tuesday last a latter was read from the directors of a Missionary Society in Germany, comprising no doubt as sincere and godly a band of men as any in that country, which spoke of Germany’s passionate desire that peace should not have been broken, and of the wicked conspiracies of Germany’s enemies, which had forced war upon her! To us the case seems not a little different. Surely we are under no delusion in saying that there was nothing our statesmen would not have done to maintain peace, short of treachery to honour and pledged word! But there was a point beyond which it was not possible to go. “The whole value and beauty of life is that it holds treasures for which men will even dare to die!”

Let us never cease to pray that God will defend the right, and bring victory to our arms. And may it not be, that even by means of the thunder of monstrous guns, and the clash of ten millions of armed men, shall come a truer knowledge of the unspeakable blessings of peace, a new upspringing of the spirit of true brotherhood, a more earnest turning of the hearts of men to Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of all mankind, and the Prince of Peace.

 
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