“The absolute stillness and reverence of the crowd was most marked”

The Cookham Dean war memorial was unveiled.

The blessing and dedication of the war memorial, long looked forward to, took place on Sunday, November 23rd, at 3 p.m. There has been such a kindly notice of the proceedings in the local Press that it will suffice to say that no more impressive day had occurred in the history of the village since the day that the Church was consecrated in 1845. Arrangements for the orderly conducting of the ceremony had been most skilfully and carefully made by Mr. Edwards, and to this is due the great success of the afternoon. Three Companies of Service men, under the command of Capt. R. E. Hunt, helped to keep the ground. The absolute stillness and reverence of the crowd was most marked; it is said that every word of the Service could be heard by all. The hymns were accompanied most sympathetically by the Band. The children, in charge of the Lady Stewards, did their sad part faultlessly, and all felt that as far as earthly honour could go, the thirty-nine men whose names are carved upon the Memorial received that which was due and fitting from those for whom their lives had been given – ‘Faithful unto death, their name liveth for evermore.’ May our Cross be ever honoured, ever cared for, ever reverenced for their sakes in whose memory it has been erected, and, above all, for the sake of Him who died upon a Cross that they and we and all mankind may live though him.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, December 1919 (D/P43B/28A/11)

The great silence: the sacrifice of those who fell must not be in vain

The first Remembrance Day was observed in churches across the county.

Wargrave

Armistice Day

The first anniversary was well observed in the parish. There was a celebration of Holy Communion at 8 a.m. A muffled peal was rung from 10.30 to 10.45 a.m. A service in church was held at 10.45 and ended with the two minutes of silence when 11 o’clock was struck on the tenor bell. A full peal of bells, with firing, was rung in the evening. The services were well attended and ringing was exceptionally good.

Crazies Hill Notes

On November 11th an Intercessory Service was held in memory of those who laid down their lives during the War, and, at the hour of eleven, a silent tribute was paid to the fallen. Those moments of meditation were for many of us, accompanied by grief; but there were also hope and pride and high resolve in the thoughts of all who took part in that Service. Perhaps the uppermost thought was that the sacrifice of those who fell must not be in vain.

Burghfield

Armistice Day

Rural circumstances do not lend themselves to such striking manifestations as were to be seen in towns and cities during the “great silence”. But there can have been few in the parish who did not act upon the King’s suggestion and desire. Many of us would like this mute solemn commemoration to be repeated annually.


Ascot

On the Anniversary of the Armistice there was a special Celebration of the Holy Communion at 10.40 at which all our parishioners, who gave their lives in the War, were remembered by name.
The service was so timed that, at the moment of silence throughout the Empire, the large congregation was in the act of pleading the Sacrifice of Christ for the Living and the Dead.

In the evening there was a special Service of Thanksgiving , when we prayed for God’s Blessing upon the Ex-Service Men’s Club, the first portion of the Ascot War Memorial, which was declared open by Lady Roberts, and handed over to the Men’s Committee immediately afterwards. During the first week over 150 men joined the club.

Cranbourne

On Armistice Day a large number of our Parishioners came to Church at a few minutes before eleven o’clock and spent the time in silent prayer. After the bell had struck eleven strokes and the two minutes had elapsed, a Celebration of the Holy Communion took place. Instead of a sermon the Vicar read Mr. Arkwright’s no well-known hymn “O Valiant hearts” and before the Church Militant Prayer the names of all our fallen were read at the altar and specially commended to God’s keeping.


Newbury

On Armistice Day, November 11th, we kept the King’s command by holding a Special Service at 10.55, including the two minutes silence at 11 o’clock. There was a large congregation. The sights in the streets of our great cities, when all traffic stopped and men stood with bared heads, must have been most striking. Truly does the whole Empire honour the men who gave their lives in God’s Cause of Righteousness.

Wargrave parish magazine, December 1919 (D/P145/28A/31); Ascot and Cranbourne in Winkfield District Magazine, December 1919 (D/P 151/ 28A/11/12); Burghfield parish magazine, December 1919 (D/EX725/4); Newbury parish magazine, December1919 (D/P89/28A/14)

Two minutes of perfect silence and stillness

Schools remembered the Armistice one year earlier on the first Remembrance Day.

Bracknell
11th November 1919

Today is the first anniversary of the armistice. All the children and staff assembled around the flagstaff. Just before 11 a.m the Headmaster read the King’s proclamation – the flag was lowered to half mast and two minutes of perfect silence and stillness was observed as a simple service of silence and remembrance. Children sang ‘God save the King’ and special lessons on ‘The League of Nations’ were given in the upper classes.

White Waltham
November 11th 1919

Today Nov 11th is the first anniversary of the Armistice which stayed the world wide carnage of the four preceding years and marked the victory of Right and freedom. The King has sent the following message to the people with a request that his message should be read to the pupils in all schools.

Kings Message:

I believe my people in every part of the Empire fervently wish to perpetuate the memory of that Great Deliverance and of those who laid down their lives to achieve it.

To afford an opportunity for the universal expression of this feeling it is my desire and hope that at the hour when the armistice came into force, the eleventh our of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, there may be for one brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all normal activities. During that time, except in rare cases where this may be impractical, all work, all sound, and all locomotion should cease, as that in perfect stillness the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the Glorious Dead.

No elaborate organisation appears to be necessary. At a given signal, which can easily be arranged the suit the circumstances of each locality. I believe that we shall, all gladly interrupt our business and pleasure, whatever it may be and unite in this simple service of Silence and Remeberance.

George R.I.

Programme:

10.50 All Children assembled in Large Room
10.55 Brief explanation of reason of assembly and the Reading of the King’s Message.
11-11.2 Reverent Remembrance of the Glorious Dead in Silence
11.3 Singing of Hymn “On the Resurrection Morning” to end a most impressive service
11.10 Resumption of work.

Eastbury
11th November 1919

The League of Nations Day Nov. 11th. At eleven o’ clock a pause was made in the ordinary work. The bell tolled thirteen times as that was the number of men at Eastbury who have made the great sacrifice. During that time the names of the dead heroes were written on the blackboard, while all the children stood silent, seeming to realise the act of honour the silence was giving to the glorious dead.

Prayers for the departed were read and the prayer for peace and a hymn was sung. The children seemed much impressed by the lessons that were given. The King’s letter was read. The national anthem concluded the service.

King Street School, Maidenhead
11th November 1919

The Anniversary of Armistice Day was kept in school by a complete change of timetable commencing with a simple musical service of praise & worship & an address to the children on “Give to the world the best you have” as a basis for a League of Nations.

The Silence Time (which is a daily occurrence here) was devoted to the sending of love & affection to the fathers of our children killed in the war & yet still near them. The lessons throughout the day were in relation to this, & bigger children were allowed to take home what they had written about the Great Day.

A widowed mother called in the afternoon & told of the cheer she had received from her little boy’s expression of what has been told him in school today.

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“The familiar hymns were never better sung or seemed more full of meaning”

Warfield unveiled its war memorial – a simple, tasteful stone tablet inside the church.

September

The unveiling of the Memorial in the Parish Church, will take place at the evening 6.30 service, on Sunday, September 28th, the eve of Michaelmas Day.

November

The Service of Dedication of the War Memorial on Sunday evening, September 28th, will live long in the memory of those who took part in it.

The Church was full, and the familiar hymns were never better sung or seemed more full of meaning.

The Memorial, so well executed by Mr. Murphy, is very beautiful in its extreme simplicity.

A perfectly plain white marble slab, with the words “Roll of Honour” at the top and beneath “in Grateful and lasting Memory of the Men of Warfield who fell in the Great War, 1914-1919.”

Warfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, September and November 1919 (D/P 151/28A/11/9, 11)

A large muster

The Comrades of the Great War was one of several organisations for veterans of the war.

At the request of the Comrades of the Great War, a service was held for them conducted by the Vicar, in the Vicarage Garden, on Sunday afternoon, July 27th. There was a large muster. The men assembled at the bottom of Bracknell Street and preceded by the Band marched to the Vicarage Lawn. Admiral Eustace, Commandant of the Wokingham Branch, was in command. Sir Dudley de Chair met the men at the Vicarage. A short form of service was held, and hymns, some accompanied by the Band, formed a special feature of the service. The Vicar gave an address, and expressed his regret that the Rev. Mr Sheffield was prevented by duties at Bulford Camp from taking part in the service. It is hoped that services of a similar character may be held from time to time for the Comrades.

Bracknell section of Winkfield District Magazine, September 1919 (D/P 151/28A/11)

“It was a moving thing to see so many of our brave men gathered together at the end of the war”

Ex-servicemen gathered in Burghfield to celebrate the peace.

On Sunday, July 6th, an ex tempore muster of Burghfield ex-service men took place at the Hatch, where about 28 men fell in and marched to the church under Lieut. Searies, for the 11 o’clock service.

A fortnight later [20 July], after better notice, there was a fuller parade in which about 80 took part, including the Chapel band from the Common. Major Chance, Lieut. Searies, Staff Sergeant Major Jordan, Sergeant Wigmore, and other NCOs were present. The band played the party to and from church, and also well accompanied the three hymns (Nos. 166. 540 and 165), which were sung with great heartiness. The Service of Thanksgiving for Victory, and in memory of those who have given their lives, was conducted, in the absence of Mr Coates [the curate, who was on holiday], entirely by the Rector, who preached an eloquent and most inspiring sermon on the text – “To what purpose is this waste?” (Matthew XXVI.8). The lessons (Isaiah XXV.1-9 and John XII.23-33) were read by Mr Willink. The bells rung muffled peals before and after service.

On leaving church the little column proceeded to the Hatch recreation ground, at the entrance marching past Mr Willink and Mr Lousley, the former (by request) taking the salute. Before dismissal some photographs were taken by him, but the light was very bad and no great results can be expected.

It was a moving thing to see so many of our brave men gathered together at the end of the war in that church in which prayers have so often been offered for their safe return, and for that of others who will come back no more. May the great spirit of unity, which, with God’s help, has brought us through to peace, keep us still united in Burghfield during the years before us.

It was disappointing that the invitation to all soldiers and sailors in the Bradfield district, to the Military Festivities in Reading on July 19th had, late in the time, to be withdrawn. This cast unexpected burdens on our Committee. They hope, however, that the steps taken at the last moment will have given satisfaction all round.

Burghfield parish magazine, August 1919 (D/EX725/4)

In memory of the men of the Albert Works who fell in the War

The Albert Steam Joinery, run by local firm Elliotts, had sent many of its workers to the war.

A well-attended service was held on May 24th, in memory of the men of the Albert Works who fell in the War, and when the new carved Litany Desk is presented by the Works was dedicated. It is a very handsome piece of work. Mrs Clifford Phillips sang “I know that my Redeemer liveth”, and “The Last Post” and the “Reveille” were sounded by two Buglers from Reading. The choir was present, and Mr Liddle played several appropriate pieces on the organ. We were glad to see a number of the employees of the Works present.

Newbury parish magazine, July 1919 (D/P89/28A/14)

The flag of St George is hoisted

Cranbourne greeted the end of the war with joy.

The news of the signing of the Armistice on Nov 11th reached Cranbourne about noon. The ringing of the Church bells announced the fact to the village, the flag of St. George was hoisted, very quickly flags appeared on most of the houses, and everywhere one heard expressions of deep thankfulness. An impromptu service of Thanksgiving, which was very well attended was held at 12 o’clock on Nov. 13th.

On the following Sunday the form of service drawn up by the Archbishops was used, and the names of all our men serving in H.M. forces was read, also the manes of those who have made the great sacrifice. The large congregation joined most heartily (we might say fervently) in the Hymns, and the singing was much helped by a cornet played by Bandmaster J. Dennison of the R.A.F., at Ascot and by a violin played by Miss E. Hern. Before the singing of the hymn, “For all the saints,” special reference was made to our men who have been killed, or died of wounds.

“Our dead lie scattered far and wide, On Mount, and Plain and Sea, But since for Thee they fought and died, They surely rest with Thee. O Love Divine, O Living Lord, Heal every broken heart; Who gives to God hath great reward, And they — the better part.”

And we remembered too those who have fought for us and worked for us, and whom we hope soon to welcome home, for them also we thanked God with thankful hearts.

“From that Brute force its saddle hurled, And that the sword no more can rule the world, For that Thy Justice is again restored, And War as arbiter abhorred, For high heroic bearing under stress, For hearts that no ill-fortune could depress, For noble deeds as simple duty done, In their Christlikeness known to God alone. We thank Thee Lord, We Thank Thee Lord.”

Cranbourne section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, December 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/10)

Peace was declared at 11am by the continual blowing of all Reading hooters followed by ringing of church bells

No one in Berkshire could miss the end of the war.

Earley

On Monday November 11 peace was declared at 11am by the continual blowing of all Reading hooters followed by ringing of church bells and a general half holiday. We have no peal of bells here, but we had a beautiful Thanksgiving Service at half past seven the same evening. The order of service was as follows; the National Anthem, a short address from the pulpit by the Vicar; a procession round the church with Milton’s hymn “let us with a gladsome mind” and “Now thank we all our God”; prayers and thanksgivings in front of the altar; “Gloria in Excelsis”; hymn by Mr Athelstan Riley “Ye watchers and ye holy ones”; the blessing. The whole service lasted 25 minutes. It was a damp, miserable evening but all hearts and spirits were full of thankfulness and rejoicings. The next morning a noticeable number of people communicated at 7.30.

Bracknell

November 11th will always be kept in remembrance as the day when the Armistice was signed which put an end to the fighting. The news was received in Bracknell about 11 o’clock, and spread rapidly far and near. Groups gathered together, discussing the news, and the street was soon gay with flags. A Thanksgiving Service was held in the church in the evening, which was attended be a large and representative gathering.

Never before have our hearts been so deeply stirred as they were when we sung our psalms and hymns and said our prayers of thanksgiving.

Earley St Bartholomew parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P192/28A/15); Bracknell section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, December 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/10)

The wounded soldiers of France

1918 July 12th

France’s National Day celebrated. Lady Faringdon & Miss Gillett visited the school and joined in celebrating the occasion. The children sang the “Marseillaise”, “O God, our Help in Ages Past” and our own National Anthem.

Badges were distributed and a collection made amounting to £2 18s 5d for the wounded soldiers of France.

Buscot CE School log book (C/EL73/2)

Old clothes for the destitute people in the devastated parts of Northern France

Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading was collecting second hand clothes for our friends in the battleground areas of France.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

In connection with the collection of old clothes for the destitute people in the devastated parts of Northern France, the committee who had this matter in hand, found that they could not get sufficient canvassers and helpers to embark upon the more ambitious scheme of canvassing the whole town for articles of clothing.

Rather than let the matter entirely drop, it has been decided to carry out the scheme in a modified form. Rooms have been obtained over Poynders’ old bookshop near the Post Office, as a depot and clothing station. It is intended to send a circular and reply postcard to persons in the town whom we think will assist us in the scheme, asking for promises of clothes, and then arrangements will be made for the collection of the same.

For this purpose we still want the help of our Brothers, but it will only consist of a very small amount of definite work compared with the previous scheme. Members of the Brotherhood who have been preparing bundles of clothes, should get them quite ready, and a date for the collection will be arranged. This scheme must now be pushed, as the time of year is getting on.

It has been thought desirable by some of our members that we should revive the old Horticultural Show for this autumn. We are all more or less interested in allotments and “back to the land” schemes, and it is felt that a horticultural show, held in our schoolroom, would be an incentive and an encouragement to our many brothers who are spending all their spare time in increasing the food supplies of the country. An enthusiastic committee has been appointed and details will shortly be announced.

The time of year has again arrived when we hope our brothers will volunteer, as in past years, to keep the allotments of those members who are on service in order. This work in the past has been done ungrudgingly, though un-noticed, and it has earned the heartfelt gratitude and thanks of many a member away serving his country, and been a help to the wife and little ones at home.
..
A much appreciated addition to our Sunday afternoon services has been made in the form of singing a verse of a “hymn of remembrance” of the brothers who are serving us on land and sea and in the air. They will know that each Sunday afternoon, and before we disperse, we shall be singing:

O Trinity of Love and Power
Our Brethren shield in danger’s hour
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe’er they go;
Thus evermore shall rise to thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, April 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Mass in a barn, no room at the inn

The Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist at Clewer had a quiet wartime Christmas, while their Sub-Warden, a clergyman who helped to see to their spiritual needs, was serving as an army chaplain.

25 December 1917

Christmas Day. Midnight Mass (plain) in the old chapel on account of necessity for screening lights at night.

The Sub-Warden

“Christmas Day. This morning my first Mass was said in a barn. The altar set up against a door, surrounded by straw, piled arms, etc. Again “there was no room for Him in the Inn”. The service over, I rode to a neighbouring village, my servant following on a bicycle with the bag of Sacred Vessels. There I had a whole Battalion in a hall & a band to play the hymns.”

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer, 25 December 1917 and 3 January 1918 (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

“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)

Khaki Socials have proved a great boon to very many

Soldiers and airmen were entertained weekly on Sunday evenings at Broad Street Church in Reading.

Now that the darker evenings are upon us, arrangements have been made to resume the “Khaki Socials”, which have been held every Sunday evening in the winter months since shortly after the war began. These Socials have proved a great boon to very many. Sunday, October 14th, is the day fixed for re-opening, and we shall hope to see then many of our old friends, and many new ones also.

The running of these Socials – seeing that light refreshments are provided free of cost – involves us in expense. But of this we shall have more to say in our next month’s issue.

The many friends of Lieut. Oswald Francis (son of our friends, Mr and Mrs Ernest Francis) will be glad to hear that he has been awarded the Military Cross “for exceptional valour and devotion to duty through the battles east of Ypres” in August. We heartily congratulate both Lieut. Francis and his parents on the honour which he has won, and we earnestly hope he may live for many years to enjoy it.

The aforementioned article appeared in the October church magazine. There was a follow up report in December:

KHAKI SOCIALS

The Khaki Socials which have proved such an interesting part of our winter programme since the war began, were resumed after the evening service on Sunday, October 14th. There was a very good attendance for the opening meeting, and the number has increased with each succeeding Sunday. There is no doubt about the popularity of these Socials, nor can there be any doubt of their usefulness. Quite apart from the number attending – which in itself is no mean testimony – we have the frequent expressions of gratitude from those who deeply appreciate what is being done. There is nothing stiff or formal about these gatherings, but a delightful homelike feeling which greatly appeals to our friends in khaki.

Music – vocal and instrumental – and recitations form the chief items in the weekly programme, and these are interspersed with hymns in which all present heartily join.

Members of the Royal Flying Corps have to leave us at 10 o’clock, but most of our other khaki friends remain for the family worship with which we close the proceedings at 9.30 pm.

We are sorry that owing to our limited accommodation we cannot invite more of our Broad Street friends to join us for these gatherings, but we can assure them that, in their name, a very helpful bit of work is being done by the ladies and gentlemen who gladly give their services week by week.

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, October and December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

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)