“Amidst this hell on earth God is with us”

A Wargrave soldier reminded friends at home of the dangers he and his comrades were facing.

Harvest Festival Gifts

Many letters have come to us from the men at the Front to say how much the tobacco and cigarettes have been appreciated and to convey thanks to the congregation for the gifts, one writes:-

“It is cheering to know that we are remembered by friends in the homeland, but what we value most, Sir, is your prayers. Pray without ceasing for us, Sir. God is very real to us out here, for He has delivered us several times from certain death, which is in answer to the prayers offered up to our Heavenly Father on our behalf in the dear old Church at Wargrave. One often thinks of home.

It was last Sunday while up the line at work between ten and eleven o’clock while the guns were booming and the shells bursting around that I was lost in thought. I thought I heard the bells pealing from out the old tower and the congregation singing the Psalms and the good old hymns, so dear to us Tommies. While thus lost in thought God spoke to me through His word, “Lo I am with you always”. What a blessing, Sir, to be able to realize that amidst this hell on earth God is with us, another answer to your prayers.”

Wargrave parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

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Beautiful gifts of fruit, vegetables and eggs

Harvest Festival gifts went to local hospitals treating wounded soldiers.

Hare Hatch Notes

The Harvest Festival was held on Sunday, October 7th. The number of communicants and the congregations throughout the day were, in spite of the bad weather, really most encouraging…

The gifts, especially those of fruit and vegetables, were more than we have had before, this in itself was a pleasant sight, but the object to which they were devoted made these gifts more acceptable. Twenty-three new laid eggs were brought by the members of the Sunday School…

Letters of thanks and appreciation have been received as follows…

“The Secretary of the Royal Berks Hospital begs to thank you for your kind present of Harvest gifts for the use of the patients.”

From the Woodclyffe Auxilliary Hospital, Wargrave:

“I need hardly tell you how very much the beautiful gifts of fruit, vegetables etc, from your Harvest Festival are being appreciated, and we send very many thanks to all who sent them. H.R. Marshall, for Commandant.”

Wargrave parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

“The attempt of our enemies to starve us has practically failed”

In Earley people were grateful for good weather, which looked set to relieve the pressure on the food supply.

The Vicar’s Letter

My dear friends

Autumn is drawing on apace, and we have again reached the time for our Harvest Thanksgiving, which is fixed for Sunday, October 7th.

This year we ought to be especially thankful. At one time our outlook as regards food appeared to be far from satisfactory, but God has blessed us during the past month with such weather that in most districts the greater part of the harvest has been gathered in without much damage, and the attempt of our enemies to starve us by unrestricted submarine warfare, though still serious, has practically failed. Surely we ought to join together in our thanksgivings, and especially at Holy Communion, with a deepened sense of what we owe to God for our nation and for ourselves.

And while we are thanking God for our material harvest, let us all think of those fields which are ripe for the spiritual harvest in India, Canada, South Africa, and throughout the world… Do we realise as we ought the enormous responsibility that will rest upon our country after the war for the spiritual harvest of the world?

Your friend and Vicar
W W Fowler.

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

The War has brought home to us our dependence on our daily food in a way unknown to most of us before

The vicar of Maidenhead All Saints reminded his flock about the work of merchant seamen bringing food to the country, and of church workers comforting the troops close behind the lines.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-…

St Peter’s Harvest Festival is to be held at the end of this month (September 30th)… And this Harvest we have, indeed, much for which to be thankful. The War has brought home to us our dependence on our daily food in a way unknown to most of us before. We have to thank God for the labours of our farm workers and allotment holders, who, in the face of an inclement Spring, have greatly increased our food supply; for the valour of our Navy, that has convoyed our store ships past many perils; for the steadfastness and courage of our Merchant Sailors, who, risking often sudden death or lingering suffering, have yet dared to go on faithfully bringing grain and meat and other things for the maintenance of our people.

Lastly; sometimes people ask me for the name of some Charity to which they may give a donation, outside the Parish. Just now few deserve more support than the Church Army Recreation Hut Fund. There are over 800 in full work. All are under the auspices of the Church, and special provision is made for those who wish for a quiet place for prayer or study. They are, also, available and used for Church Services. I feel thy deserve great support, for, excellent as the work of the Y.M.C.A. usually is, these Church Army Huts make a still greater claim on our generosity as Church people; that our men should not feel that the Church has in any way neglected them. Any donations should be sent to the Secretary, Church Army Headquarters, 55, Bryanston Street, Marble Arch, London, W.1.

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar
C.E.M. FRY

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

“As far as it is possible to anticipate in these uncertain times”

It was hard to make plans during war time.

Harvest Festival

It seems rather early to announce any notions of the Harvest, but everyone will be glad to hear that the Bishop of Buckingham has kindly promised to come and preach for this Festival on Sunday, September 30th, “as far as it is possible to anticipate in these uncertain times”.

Wargrave parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

Food from Harvest “will be greatly appreciated by the wounded men in hospital”

Worshippers at Broad Street Church sent their Harvest Festival offerings to the Royal Berkshire Hospital for wounded soldiers.

HARVEST FESTIVAL

The Harvest Thanksgiving Services, held on Sunday, September 23rd, afforded joy and inspiration to all who were able to attend. The church was very prettily and effectively decorated for the occasion. A plentiful supply of fruit, vegetables, flowers, etc, had been provided…

On the following day the good things provided were conveyed by Mr Bunce to the Royal Berks Hospital, for the wounded soldiers who are there.

Mr Rawlinson [the minister] has since received the following letter from the secretary of that institution:

“Dear Sir

Many thanks for your letter, and for the eggs, fruit, vegetables, flowers, bread, etc, which arrived yesterday.

These will be greatly appreciated by the wounded men in hospital, and I should be grateful if you would accept for yourself, and kindly convey to all concerned, an expression of our warmest thanks for this generous present.

I am, dear Sir,
Yours faithfully

Herman Burney
Secretary”

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

The annual Harvest Festival in connection with the church was held on Sunday September 23rd, and as usual our brothers contributed very liberally with fruit and vegetables from their allotments.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“This weather is getting serious for the crops and just when we want an extra good one”

William Hallam was worried that bad weather would worsen food shortages.

29th August 1917

All night it rained too. This weather is getting serious for the crops and just when we want an extra good one.

It got brighter this evening tho’. An aeroplane went over just after 9 o’clock to-night. The latest I have seen one yet.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/25)

Squads of schoolboys to bring in the harvest

Shortages of labour due to the vast numbers of men gone to the war combined with restricted imports to lead to fears for a food crisis.

Public School Boys as Harvesters

The Director-General of National Service has appealed for the help of the elder boys from Public and Secondary Schools as a Reserve of Labour.

There has been good response from the Schools on the part of the Masters and Boys.

Free railway warrants are to be provided for volunteers undertaking work for two consecutive weeks in term time or three consecutive weeks in the holidays.

Boys will be organised in squads. Each squad will be in charge of an assistant master.

Squads will not be asked to do any work under this Scheme on Sundays.

Boys will receive the current rate of wages applicable to the locality, i.e. 3d to 4d. per hour. Boys will only be paid for work done. When not employed through wet weather or for other reasons, they will receive no pay.

Squads for fruit picking are included in the Scheme.

The Rev. R. Holmes, White Waltham Vicarage, Maidenhead, is Secretary for this District and he has asked the Vicar, the Rev. S. M. Winter, to act as Local Correspondent for Wargrave. Applications for the services of such volunteer workers for further particulars should be addressed to him.

Potato Spraying

The Food Protection Committee, through the kindness of the President, have taken steps to obtain Sprayers and the necessary Spraying Material.

The Sprayers will be lent by the Committee to all who require them, and the Liquid will be obtainable at cost price.

Wargrave parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

Restore oppressed nations to their rightful heritage

A new sympathy and interest were felt in our more obscure allies. It seemed appropriate at the time to look back at our Serbian allies’ historic fight for freedom from Turkey, now our mutual enemy.

The Vicar’s Notes

What is “KOSSOVO” day? It is the day on which, after fierce fighting, the Serbians came under the domination of the Turk (June 28th, 1389), and it is observed solemnly each year by the Serbian people. I hope to have a special memorial service at S. Mary’s on June 28th, at 12.15, very much on the lines of the service held at S. Pauls Cathedral last year. We ought to do all we can to shew our interest in those oppressed nations (at present under the heel of the German) which we are pledged to restore to their rightful heritage.

Intercessions
For the wounded, especially Fred Nunn.
For the missing, especially Charles Mercott, one of our servers.
For the fallen, especially William Stevens (killed in action in France on April 22nd); Tom Gray (died at the front from spotted fever); Edgar Bland and Ernest Lawrence (killed in action); Frederick Welford (Drowned in action)
R.I.P.

For God’s blessing on the efforts being made to save our country’s food.

Thanksgivings
For the progress of the Allied Arms.
For the gift of reasonable weather to help the Crops.

All Saints District
The War

We again have to mourn losses owing to the war and our sympathies will go out in abundant measure to those who are sorrowing. In Frederick Sales we have lost a former choir boy and we shall feel with his father who still has four sons in the Army, three of whom are in the fighting line.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

A follow up appeared in a later issue:

“Kossovo” Day, June 28th, was largely spoilt by the bad weather, But we were glad to see the Serbian lads once more at S.Mary’s, and we had the support of our Mayor, and of the Principal and Registrar of the University College. The Russian “Kontakion” for the departed was well sung by the Choir; and the service ended with the Serbian Royal Anthem and our own National Anthem. Our earnest prayer is that by next “Kossovo” Day our Serbian friends may be restored to their rightful heritage once more.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

By wasting food we are helping our enemies

The vicar of Earley issued a rebuke to those wasting food.

THE VICAR’S LETTER
My dear friends,

After one of the longest and coldest winters that have been recorded for a century, we have suddenly plunged into summer; May has been a perfect month for the crops, most of the time lost has already been made up, and there are on every side signs of an abundance of produce of all kinds. Ought we not to be thankful to God for this answer to our prayers, and to pray that he may grant us in these times of stress a successful ingathering?

Ought we not also to be thankful that the prospect of a serious shortage in our food supplies seems gradually to be diminishing? Let us remember, however, that it depends upon ourselves; if we are lavish or wasteful the danger is a very imminent one: if only everyone would realise the evil of waste, things would be very different, but, in spite of all that is said or done, it still goes on.

We still see bread and other food thrown away in the streets, apparently by children whose parents have carelessly given them more food to take with them than they can eat; it may not be much, but it is a sign of the times that wants strict looking after. By wasting food we are helping our enemies, there is no doubt whatever of this, we are prolonging the war and so endangering the lives of thousands of our soldiers and our fellow countrymen…

Your friend and vicar
W W Fowler

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

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)

“Nothing out here seems so nice as that which comes from home”

Wargrave men were deeply grateful for little remembrances from the people at home and Christmas saw another set of donations.

Gifts to the Men at the Front:

A quantity of tobacco and cigarettes for the men at the Front was brought to the Church on Christmas Day and will be carefully distributed among those who were left out at the time of the Harvest Festival.

The letters from the front show how much these little presents are appreciated. We have heard from S. Briscoe, K. F. Buckett, F. Cunnington, A. Haycock, C. M. Hodge, J. Hodge, A. J. Hollis, J. Milford, S. Piggott, J. Pithers, J. Wigmore, and others. A few extracts are printed below:

“I am writing to thank you and also the inhabitants of Wargrave for the cigarettes they kindly sent out here for me, as nothing out here seems so nice as that which comes from home.”

“I now take pleasure in writing to thank you very much indeed for the cigarettes and kind wishes, which I received quite safely. I am sure I am very grateful to all those kind friends which have helped you to do this and although I cannot thank them personally I wish you to do so.”

“Believe me it does one good to know that we out here are not altogether forgotten. I send to you and all friends in Wargrave, many thanks and best wishes for a merry Christmas and a much happier New Year.”

“I cannot express how pleased we are out here to get the news and good wishes from all at home, letters etc. being the great connecting link with the dear homeland and we all thank you most heartily for them.”

“We are out of the trenches now staying in a small village, our Division was inspected by the Duke of Conaught. I expect it was a grand sight for those who were watching us. I do not know of anyone from Wargrave in this Battalion but I have met one from Hurst. I think we are lucky to be out of the trenches now as we have had a lot of rain this last week which would make them in an awful state. Our Chaplain has recently been awarded the Military Medal. We have a service every Sunday morning.”

Wargrave parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P145/28A/31)

“The Message of Peace seems so unheeded in the outside world, amid the din of battle”

A Christmas message from the vicar of Wargrave:

Christmas:

May the Message of Peace, which seems so unheeded in the outside world, amid the din of battle, being solace to all Christian hearts. Those who, obey the call of duty to fight for their country find indeed a peace which passes all understanding, for they have made the great surrender and offered their lives to God. Those who serve at home, or only wait and pray, may find some peace if they fill the place to which God calls them. We do not choose our place or tasks: He allots them to us all, if we are alert to hear His call. And if we are content to do out best therein we shall find Peace; the same as that which sanctified the life in Bethlehem, and in the upper room, and in the garden, and on Calvary. The Peace which belongs unto our Lord and which He has the power to give.

Gifts for Men at the Front:

As the gifts of Tobacco and Cigarettes at the Harvest Festival were not nearly enough to go round, another opportunity will be given to the congregations on Christmas Day. Any further gifts received then will be distributed among those who did not get anything from the Harvest Festival.

The letters received by the Vicar from those who have already received the little presents show how very gratefully they are appreciated.’

A Gift to the Bell-Ringers:

A very handsome medal has been presented by Mr. W.E. Cain to all who were members of the Belfry at the time of the Re-Opening of the Tower.

It is the size of half-a-crown, with a very effective view of the Church on one side and a little inscription on the other.

All the men were delighted with it, it is a gift which will certainly give the keenest pleasure to those who are now fighting and were away from home at the time.

The Bell-Ringers tender their most grateful thanks to the kind donor and their gratitude for such kindly thought is shared by all who have their interest at heart.

Wargrave parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

Vegetables and cigarettes

The village of Crazies Hill dedicated its harvest festival to supporting the troops, with gifts of varying levels of healthiness.

Crazies Hill Notes

The Harvest Festival was held on October 15th. Throughout the day the Services were bright and hearty. The congregations were large; indeed everything was in keeping with the joyous occasion. The Children’s Service also, in the afternoon, was well attended. The Children’s offerings were made during the singing of a hymn when the children marched in procession and placed the various articles in a basket. The basket was large, yet was well supplied with packets of cigarettes, sweets, and other things. These were carried to the Parkwood Hospital after the Service as the Children’s gifts for the wounded soldiers.

At the Evening Service the anthem ‘The Lord is My Shepherd’ was rendered very nicely by the Choir. The Special Preacher was the Rev. H. I. Wilson, Rector of Hitcham, to whom we are much indebted for coming.

The decorations were carried out with much care and skill – the building looking a veritable flower garden. It would be difficult to realize the amount of labour and time spent in arranging the flowers, plants, corn and vegetables. The result was certainly beautiful. We are very grateful to the following who so generously gave their labour and time: Mrs. Light, Mrs. Habbitts, Mrs. Wakefield, Mrs. Woodward, Miss Rose, Miss Stanton, Miss Beck, and Miss Doe, and the following who so kindly sent gifts: – Mrs. Whiting, flowers and vegetable marrow; Miss Beck, flowers; Mrs. William Willis, plants; Mrs. Hull, flowers; Mrs. Weller, flowers; Mrs. Goodwin, flowers; Mr. Kimble, flowers and vegetables. Mr. Griffin, flowers; Mr. Bacon, bread; Mr. Stanton, flowers. Miss Fleming, corn and wheat; Miss Rose, flowers; The Hon. Mrs. Crawford, corn; Capt. Willis, flowers.

We are also indebted to Parkwood for so kindly sending a collection of choice plants.

The collections throughout the day, which were in aid of the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, amounted to £1 10s. 7 ½ d.

The vegetables and flowers were sent to Wargrave Military Hospital, Mr. Whiting most kindly conveying them thither.

Throughout the day offerings of cigarettes, etc., were most generously made for our men serving at the present time.

Wargrave parish magazine, November 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

Cigarettes and chocolate for the troops – but not enough for all

The Harvest Festival at Wargrave Church gave the opportunity for parishioners to send gifts to the troops.

The Harvest Festival

The Harvest Festival will be held on Sunday, October 8th. The collections will as usual be divided between the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, and the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution.

The sermons will be preached by the Vicar. Several invitations have been given to special preachers but all our friends have been obliged to decline owing to the present exceptional circumstances, shortness of staff and the approach of the National Mission.

Presents for Men at the Front

Gifts of Tobacco, Cigarettes and Chocolate will be gladly welcomed at the Harvest Festival as on the previous occasions during the war. These presents are not large in size when divided up into separate packets for all our men on the roll, but they are greatly appreciated as many letters testify. There seems no better plan than that adopted last year when small packets were made up, with a few lines of greeting in each, and given to relations to be enclosed in the next parcel from home.

The results were reported in the following issue of the parish magazine.

Presents for the Men at the Front

There was a goodly collection of Tobacco, Cigarettes, and Chocolate received at the Church and Mission buildings on the occasion of the Harvest Festival. The Church of England Men’s Society met and divided it all up into suitable packets, which have now been distributed. There was sufficient for some fifty parcels but not nearly enough to enable us to send something to everybody.

Perhaps we may be able to have another such collection at Christmas time so that we may show all the others that they are not forgotten. Or if there are any who would like to extend the list of recipients at once their gifts can be received at the Vicarage at any time and will be carefully distributed.

Wargrave parish magazine, October and November 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)