“Everyone misses his smiling face”

There was good news and not-so-good news of Maidenhead men.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are very sorry to learn that Ernest Bristow has been wounded, but there seems every hope that his injuries are not serious. One of his chums writes,

“He went up to one of our advanced dressing stations to take over stores, and it was while standing at the mouth of a dug-out that he was wounded. A Bosche fleet of aeroplanes came over, and a bomb dropped quite near, wounding some ten men and killing two others. He caught it in the left arm and in both legs, but his wounds are flesh wounds, and not dangerous. He suffered from a severe shaking up, but bore it extremely well. The sergeant who dressed his wounds thinks he will soon be all right again. Everyone misses his smiling face and bright personality, and none more than his sorrowing pal. We all feel that his loss to the Unit is irreparable… He was by far the best clerk, and one of the most popular in the Unit.”

We earnestly trust that the hopeful tone of this letter may be justified by events, and that Corporal Bristow will suffer no permanent injury.

Harold Islip, who returned to his post after leave about a month ago, has been in hospital suffering from dysentery. Cyril Hews, George Belcher, and Donald Wilson have been home again for ten days, all in good health and spirits. Herbert Brand, who has been Company Q.M.S. in the 8th Berks., has been for two or three months past in a Cadet Corps, and expects shortly to receive a Commission.

Wilfred Collins is now quite convalescent and was in Maidenhead a few days ago.

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

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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)

Do the German hear our starlight singing in their distant trenches?

There was much news of soldiers from Maidenhead Congregational Church.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to be able to report that Reginald Hill is so far improving, that he has been able to sit up a little each day. Thomas S. Russell has been called up, and is in training with the Motor Transport Section of the A.S.C. G.C. Frampton after about two hours drill was considered advanced enough for foreign service, and left England for France on May 18th. He is gone into Military Canteen work.

An interesting letter has come to hand from Sidney Eastman, which may justly be described as lengthy, for it is written upon a piece of paper some seven or eight feet long, and covers both sides. It is mostly occupied with a description of his travels and of the sights he has seen, and we are glad to gather that he is in good health and spirits.

G.C. Frampton has been unpatriotic enough to take German measles, and is in Hospital at Etaples. We hope to learn very shortly that he is quite well again.

Alfred Vardy, after a severe bout of pneumonia, caught on his way to the Front in France, is now at a Convalescent Camp in Thetford, gaining strength before returning to duty.

Wilfrid Collins is in hospital at Reading, suffering from heart weakness following upon a severe attack of “Trench fever.”

Reginald Hill has been out of bed for an hour, and is going on satisfactorily, though slowly.

Cyril Hews had a somewhat narrow escape recently. He was out with his motor-bicycle upon a French road during a thunderstorm, when the lightning struck a tree by the road-side, and a large branch fell upon the handlebars of the machine, providentially leaving the rider untouched.

Alfred Lane, after more than a year’s training in the Home Counties’ Engineers at Maidenhead, has been sent over with a draft to France.

Harry Baldwin, having attained the age of 18, and being called up, has elected to enter the Navy, and will probably enter a Training School.

One of our young men, who took an active part in the Messines victory, writes:

“Rather a good sight yesterday. I attended with my men a very large open-air drum-head Church Parade Service, as a sort of Thanksgiving Service for our recent great victory. A large number of Welshmen were present, and it really was great to hear these fellows sing “Aberystwith” and “St. Mary,” accompanied by a band.”

The papers, by the way, have been recently telling us that in all the Welsh regiments there are “glee parties,” who sing under the stars, until the Germans must hear and perhaps wonder, in their more or less distant trenches.

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

“May blossoms and war seem as though they ought to be impossible in the same world”

The minister of Maidenhead Congregational Church tried to encourage members to look on the bright side of life despite all the horrors and losses of the war.

May blossoms and war seem as though they ought to be impossible in the same world. The dreadful mud in the midst of which our soldiers have been living is more congruous with the spirit of warfare than sweet grass and hawthorn buds. Many letters from the front have spoken of the start of surprise with which a lark’s song is heard over the trenches. We have all, when some sorrow is heavy upon us, felt a sort of astonishment that the sun should go on shining, and the birds twittering, and passers by smiling, as though nothing had happened. But the worst of sorrows cannot cover the whole sky. We want taking out of ourselves at times. Evils won’t bear brooding over, we only make them worse. We shall be able to bear “the strain of toil, the fret of care” better, if we make rich use of the ministry of the blossoms.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to hear that Reginald Hill is progressing, though slowly. He has had several operations, and probably must undergo two or three more. The doctors think he may have to be in bed for at least three months yet, but they hope he will make quite a good recovery.

We regret deeply to have to record that John Boyd, formerly the Caretaker of the Chapel, was killed in action on March 29th. He enlisted in the 2nd Berks. In June 1916, and was sent to France on Sept. 22nd. He was a most genial and kind-hearted man, and had a wide circle of friends among whom he was very popular. We offer our Christian sympathy to Mrs. Boyd and her family.

It is distressing too to hear that Stephen Harris is returned as “missing.” The Captain of his Company has written to Mr. and Mrs. Harris that he has made all possible inquiries and can gain no information. The best that can be hoped for is that he may be a prisoner in German hands. Robert Harris was killed in July last. May God grant His patience and consolation to the distressed parents.

Wallace Mattingly has been admitted to Sandhurst Military College for eight months’ training. G. Frampton is expecting to be called up immediately. We are glad to see Cyril Hews at home again on leave, looking in the pink of health. P.S. Eastman writes in good spirits from “somewhere in the East.”

He says, “I have not yet left for the special work for which I was sent out, but may do so any day now. In the meantime I have had quite a variety of work, until at present I find myself in the C.O.’s office. Yesterday I had a line from Frank Pigg, who is with the R.F.C in Salonica; may be one of these days I shall be able to pay him a visit.”

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

“It is a most awful place where we are at present”

Soldiers associated with Maidenhead Congregational Church were grateful for Christmas gifts, and in return shared some of their experiences.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We have already received many acknowledgements from our soldier lads of the Christmas parcels from the Church, and they all speak of kindly gratitude. We can find room for a few extracts.

Edward Howard writes, “Many thanks for the most splendid parcel. It is awfully kind of the Church and Institute to think so much of us when we are out here…… It is a most awful place where we are at present. The mud is something like three feet deep, and we are living in tents, but of course we make the best of a bad job. I send you all a warm and affectionate Christmas greeting.”

Reginald Hill received his parcel in hospital at Etretat, where he has been slowly recovering from his gas injuries. He says “I cannot tell you much of my doings in a letter, but one of these Thursday evenings I will give you my experiences at a meeting of the Literary Society.”

Cyril Hews writes, “I can scarcely tell you in a letter what a great feeling of gratitude and pleasure the parcel and letter gave me…… We out here have no doubts as to the future. We are confident that before long victory will be given to the Allies, and the great cause for which they are fighting will be attained.”

Harold Islip says, “Please accept my thanks for the excellent parcel and letter of greeting sent by the Church, which I received two days ago. Both were most welcome. A letter of that description most certainly helps us all out here to “carry on” with our duties, even though they have now become so monotonous. On Sundays, and often during the week, I think of the Church and Institute, and wish I could be present! But by next Christmas the war will be over, and then…!”

J. O. Wright is overwhelmed with his Christmas duties as Post-Corporal (of course, he had a busy time!), but snatches a minute to send “a few lines thanking you and the Church for the splendid parcel, and also for the Magazine.”

Victor Anderson writes, “Many thanks for the parcel which I have just received, and also for the letter. I am in the best of health, and we are now in a very nice place, so I think we shall have as good a Christmas as can be expected out here.”

Percy Lewis is grateful for his parcel, and ventures to congratulate those who made the purchases. “They are just the things one appreciates most out here.”

And J. Quincy, “I thank you very much for the contents of the parcel, which were much appreciated and enjoyed, and I am sure you will extend my gratitude to the Members of the Church for their kindness. May you all have a truly happy Christmas and a bright New
Year.”

Ernest Mead has been placed in the 2/7th Batt. Devonshire Regiment (Cyclists), and is stationed at Exeter.

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

Some cease to contribute to Belgian relief

Members of Maidenhead Congregational Church continued to support their Belgian families, but in slightly fewer numbers.

BELGIAN RELIEF FUND.

The Secretary of the above fund desires to report that sufficient money will be forthcoming in the present system, if subscriptions are maintained, to allow our guests rent, gas, and a limited supply of coal, thereby leaving them the wages received from employment at Wycombe (a nett amount of 27/- per week) for food and clothing.

In spite of rumours to the contrary, it will be necessary to continue subscriptions at any rate during the winter months, and, on the present much reduced basis, the emergency fund will have to be used to some extent to make up the amounts of subscribers who, for one cause and another, have ceased to contribute.

The Treasurer will be glad to have the arrears, which, in a few cases, have been allowed to accumulate, and will be pleased to forward a statement of amounts owing on application.

OUR MILITARY.

We offer hearty congratulations to Mr. Cyril Hews upon his promotion to 2nd Lieut. He has been in the Army from the outbreak of the war, and has done a lot of hard work in this country and in France.

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

“In the pink of condition”

There was news of some of the men from Maidenhead Congregational Church who had joined up.

CONCERNING THE MILITARY.

Cyril Hews is enjoying a month’s holiday at home, on rejoining after earning his discharge. Harold Islip was home for the usual few days leave during the second week in May, and seemed to be in the pink of condition. Percy Lewis is at a Base Hospital on the coast some twelve miles south of Boulogne. Charles Catliffe, Alfred Lane, and C. S. Vardy have joined the Royal Engineers (4/1) who are in training in Maidenhead. Stephen Harris has enlisted in the Berks Regt., Alfred Isaac has been granted exemption until August 1st.

F.C. Taylor has been passed over by the Military authorities to the Friends’ Ambulance Unit, for “work of National Importance.” He has been appointed to the charge of a new Undenominational Settlement at Melton Mowbray, for boys and girls who have passed through the Police Court, or have been in trouble in some other way. Mr. Taylor will be taking up his work in a week or two. It will be a great loss to us to be deprived of our Sunday School Secretary, but we shall all be glad that his difficulties have straightened out so satisfactorily.

THE CLUB ROOM.

Notwithstanding the light evenings, our soldiers’ club-room is almost as well used as during the winter months. Many of the men write all their letters there, and rely upon the Refreshment Department for their suppers.


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

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)

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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