A critical time

Reading churchgoers offered their prayers for the war.


For the entry of the British troops into Jericho.


For the spirit of self-sacrifice and perseverance in the nation.

For God’s blessing on Ireland at this critical time, especially on the Feast of S. Patrick (March 17th).

For the Russian people at this critical time in their history.

For all our fighting men and all suffering from the war, especially those in danger from air raids in London and on the East Coast.

For Horace Beesley, one of our altar-lads, just gone out to France as a volunteer carpenter.

For all the wounded, sick and prisoners on both sides.

For the fallen, especially Frederick Mott, Wine Place; John Hannon, Milman Road; William Mason, Stanley Street.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P98/28A/16)


Our own duties seem commonplace in contrast with other war-work

The vicar of Wargrave acknowledged the montonous nature of many wartime jobs, and urged parishioners not to slacken their efforts.


It may well seem in these critical days of the War that all seasons are reduced to a National Lent. People who are loyally doing their best to keep to the voluntary rations are living frugally, even if they are able to procure all that the scale allows. Yet it may be that we still retain some little indulgence not absolutely necessary to health and efficiency, of which we can make voluntary sacrifice during this solemn season. If so we may be sure the effort will not be fruitless if it is made in the right spirit.

The right spirit for Lenten self-denial is the spirit of Love and Penitence. Love for God, in that He first loved us, and we desire to train ourselves as good soldiers of Christ to endure hardness that we may be more efficient in His service. Love for man, in that we want to reduce our own consumption of every kind in order that we may impart the more for others. Penitence in that we think in this holy season of what the Master suffered for us and we know that all those sufferings were brought about by human sin. We are sinners; and if there is anything we can do to show our sorrow for sin we may welcome the opportunity.

But there is one direction in which the call of this season may hearten us to renewed efforts. In our intercessions we pray not only for the soldiers, sailors and air-men, but also for the nation at home: –

“Give us grace to fulfil our daily duties with a sober diligence. Keep us from all uncharitableness in word or in deed; and enable us by patient continuance in well-doing to glorify Thy Name: Through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

We need to use that prayer for many reasons. Our own duties seem commonplace in contrast with other war-work and we are apt to forget that for the individual soldier the most important task in the world is the particular duty assigned to him. Our daily duties have become more arduous and monotonous now that the war has been so prolonged, and we are tempted to grow slack. The temptation approaches us insidiously under the suggestion that someone else might take a turn now at this particular job, or that if we were set free in one or two directions we might take up something else, or under some other well-sounding plea. But when the time really comes for any one of us to give up any task or change his place or employment, the call to do so will certainly come from outside. When those who know us and can view our capabilities without prejudice suggest any sort of change of work, then will be the time to consider it with all loyalty to those over us and all consideration for those beside us. But until such call comes the best service we can render is patient continuance in well doing. May this be the purpose of our resolutions and the outcome of our efforts this Lent.

Wargrave parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P145/28A/31)

He went up the trenches and 48 hours later had died of wounds

Reading churchgoers were encouraged to pray for our oppressed allies.

S. Mary’s (Lent 1918)

In connection with the war

Sundays The gaining of a permanent peace.
Mondays Our own sailors, soldiers and Airmen.
Tuesdays All war workers, men and women at home and abroad.
Wednesdays The sick, wounded and prisoners, and anxious and bereaved on both sides.
Thursdays Our allies, and more particularly the oppressed nationalities of Belgium, Serbia, Roumania, Montenegro, Poland, Armenia and the populations of occupied territories of France and Italy.
Fridays Our enemies.
Saturdays The fallen.

Our heartiest congratulations to Lady Carrington, whose second son Lieut. C. W. Carrington of the Grenadier Guards has recently been awarded the Distinguished Service Order. It will be remembered that her eldest son also gained the D.S.O. and the youngest son the Military Cross.

Our deepest sympathy has been given to Mrs Montague Brown, on the death of her husband. He went up the trenches on a certain date, and news came forty eight hours later that he had died of wounds. May the God of all comfort console those who are mourning his loss!

S. Saviours District
Our hearty congratulations to Lieut. Fred White on gaining the Military Cross and to Corporal Will Taylor on gaining the D.C.M., and being now out of Hospital.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P98/28A/13)

Lessons of the Great War

The vicar of Reading St John suggested parishioners might like to help provide a new communion set for an army chaplain:

Letter from the vicar

My dear friends,

My own letter to you this month will be a brief one, as I want to give pride of place to Mr Morley’s very interesting letter from the front. Perhaps some of his friends in the parish would like to supply his obvious need of a set of Communion vessels of convenient size. I shall be very glad to receive subscriptions for this purpose….

The addresses on Wednesday evenings [during Lent] are to be given by the Rev. E J Norris… These services will consist of war intercessions and the address, and will last about 40 minutes…

At St Stephen’s Church on Thursday evenings there will be a series of lantern services, if gas is obtainable for the lantern, under the general heading, “Lessons of the Great War”. The pictures illustrating the addresses are really beautiful, and I think the services will be found both helpful and comforting….

Also let us not cease day and night to make supplication to God for the restoration of Peace.

Your sincere friend and vicar

W. Britton

Reading St. John parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P172/28A/24)

Progressing favourably in Egypt

Ascot churchgoers continued to think of their men in the services.

On Wednesdays there will be an address after Evensong and War Intercessions at 7.30 and also on Fridays at 11, after the Litany.

The following have written thanking the Men’s Committee for Christmas parcels safely received :–

M. Sumner, W. Roots, F. Swayne, R. Sensier, F. May, J. Nobbs, J. Siggins, J. Williams, S. Waite, E. Butler, G. Larkin, G. Andrews, A Barnard, F. Barton, H. Wilderspin, C. Berridge, G. White, E. Dunstan, G. Talbot, W. Jones.

We are very glad to hear that Fred Talbot, who was reported dangerously wounded, is now reported progressing favourably in Egypt.

The collection at Evensong on Christmas afternoon when carols were sung, amounted to £2 10s. 0d. fot St Dunstan’s Hospital for Blinded Soldiers.

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

Added to the Earley prayer list

More Earley men had gone to serve their country.

List of men serving in his Majesty’s forces

The following additional names have been added to our prayer list:-

Harry Seymour, Norman Swain, Sidney Oates, Frank Lloyd, John Blackman, George Clare, Richard Meadowcroft.

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

Sick or Wounded. William Spratley, Harold Pocock, Gilbert Green, Frederick Winkworth.

Missing. Walter King, William Ellis.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P191/28A/25)

Missing, wounded and dead

There was bad news for several Reading families.

Notes from the Vicar

Intercession list.

Missing: Leman John Cross (Berks Yeomanry);

Wounded: Private Charles Edward Pearce, Royal Berks Regt.;

Departed: Private Forrest (one of our old C.L.B. boys); Edwin Wilson. R.I.P.

Reading St Giles parish magazines, January 1918 (D/P96/28A/34)

“We want every penny now to enable us to win peace through a final and decisive victory”

Several Reading families had heard the worst news, while sacrifices were being made at home.

In accordance with the directions of the Food Controller, there will be no Sunday School teas this Christmas season, but the usual prize-givings will be held, and though there will be no systematic collection throughout the Parish, any contributions sent to the Rev. W. J. Holloway will be added to the Prizes’ Fund…

I propose, too, to keep Sunday, January 27th, as a day for stimulating self-sacrifice of our people in the manner of War Saving. We want every penny now to enable us to win peace through a final and decisive victory.

Thanksgiving: For the entry of the British into Jerusalem – the Holy City.

Intercessions: For the troops on the Western Front this critical time. For the fallen – especially George Colvill and Edward Adbury, of Soho Street. R.I.P. For Leslie Allen, one of our Servers, ill in hospital of Salonika.

Our truest sympathies go out to Mr. Swain, one of our Sidesmen and the Foreman of our bellringers, and his wife, on the death of their son George, who was killed in action in Palestine on November 29th. George Swain was always the straightest of lads, and one of our most faithful and regular Altar-servers. God rest his soul.

Henry John Coggs has, we regret to hear, been killed in France. Our deep sympathy is with his parents and family. He leaves an orphan child.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, January 1918 (D/P116B/28A/2)

We hope that 1918 may bring happiness and peace

A New Year message for men from Reading hoped for peace this year.


Dear friends

The vicar has invited me to write a few lines to you who are so nobly and faithfully serving in the Forces, and very gladly I accept the invitation.

I am bold enough to open with the old old greeting – “A Happy New Year”. It is what you would wish us all at home, and in fullest measure we hope that 1918 may bring happiness and peace to you all. Would that we could grasp you by the hand as we say it; for indeed the greeting comes to you with our earnest prayers, and our kindest thoughts….

You to whom these lines are written are scattered far and wide, and some will not read it until many weeks have gone by. But be assured, dear brothers, that the heart of the parish is warm with a real affection towards you all, and there are frequent times when in our intercessions for you we are conscious that at the same moment God hears our petitions for you all and neither time nor distance count with Him in the bestowal of His grace and blessing.

May He guard and guide and bless you all.

Yours very sincerely

Frank Winter.


The Abbey Hall having been commandeered by the Military Authorities it will not be possible to hold the Meetings usually arranged in connection with the universal week of prayer.

Reading St. John parish magazine, January 1918 (D/P172/28A/24)

This critical time

The vicar of Reading St Mary had hopes that this year would see the end of the war.

The Vicar’s Notes

The best wish I can send to the people of S. Mary’s Parish for 1918 is that it may be a year of peace. God grant it may be so.


For the entry of the British into Jerusalem the Holy City.


For the troops on the Western Front at this critical time.

For the fallen especially George Colvill and Edward Albury of Soho Street.

For Leslie Allen, one of our servers, ill in hospital off Salonika.

Our truest sympathies go out to Mr. Swain, one of our sidesmen and Foreman of our bellringers, and his wife, on the death of their son George, who was killed in action in Palestine on November 28th. George Swain was always the straightest of lads, and one of our most faithful and regular Altar-servers. God rest his soul.

S. Saviours District


Henry John Coggs has, we regret to hear, been killed in France. Our deepest sympathy is with his parents and family. He leaves an orphan child.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, January 1918 (D/P98/28A/16)

The great cause for which we are fighting – the cause of liberty, justice, peace and the fellowship of nations

Churches in the Bracknell area joined in the National Day of Intercession.


Sunday, January 6th (The Epiphany) has been appointed as a day of Special Prayer for the War and the alms at all services will be for the Red Cross Fund.


‘THE WAR.—In accordance with the King’s Proclamation the first Sunday in the New Year, January 6th,the Feast of the Epiphany, will be observed as a special day of Prayer and Thanksgiving in Bracknell. The services in the Church will be held at the usual hours, but special forms of prayer will be used, and every one who desires to seek the help of God in these anxious times should make a point of being present. The collections will be given to the Red Cross Society.


As we all know, the 1st Sunday in the New Year has been appointed as a “Day for Intercession on behalf of the Nation and Empire in this Time of War.” There will be celebrations of the Holy Communion as 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. Special forms of Prayer and Thanksgiving have been issued under the authority of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and will be used at our services. January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany. The idea of the Epiphany is the manifestation of God among all nations nations, and our Bishop has pointed out “how deeply we stand in need of such a manifestation to day, and how “the great cause for which we are fighting – the cause of liberty, justice, peace and the fellowship of nations – would truly, if it were realised, be a manifestation of God, and a preperation for the Kingdom of Christ, for which our most earnest and constant prayers are needed.

It is to be hoped that, whatever the weather is, none of us will be absent from the services on January 6th, but that we shall, as a Parish kneel before the Throne of Grace and offer up our petitions to Him who judges the peoples of the world, and is our only refuge and strength, and a very present help in time of trouble.



My Dear Friends,

Once again the New Year will find us in the midst of the horrors of war, and in our King’s words, “this world wide struggle for the triumph of right and liberty is entering on its last and most difficult phase when we shall need our courage fortified to face the sacrifices we may yet hace to make before our work is done.”

Very justly does the King call upon all his people to make the first Sunday of the New Year a Day of special Prayer and Thanksgiving, a day of National Intercession to Gon on Behalf of our Country, for the great casuse of rightousness entrusted to us, and for the men (so many of them near and dear to us in Winkfield) who are fighting for it on sea and land.

We all long for a victorious Peace, but can we expect that almighty God will, as a matter of course, give it us, if we do not think it worth while to ask Him for it by humble and united Public Prayer; for until we, as a whole Nation, realise our need od something more that material force, we do not deserve to win.

It is then a real patriotic duty for every man and woman to attend their Parish Church on January 6th and take their part in this National wave of Intercession. Our Sailors and Soldiers have a right to expect our prayers; and the help and co-operation of those who seldom or never go to Church or Chapel is specially asked on this great and solemn occasion.

I can only solemnly repeat what I wrote last year that I should not like to have on my own conscience the responsibility which that man or woman takes who could help their Country by joining in this movement, and yet is too careless and indifferent to do so.

If you belevie in God, and have any love for your Country, come and help.

Your sincere Friend and Vicar,

H.M. Maynard

The Services on January 6th will be:

8 a.m., Holy Communion.
11 a.m. Service and Holy Communion.
6.30 p.m. Special Intercession Service (copies of which will be provided.)

Bracknell, February

The Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving in connection with the War on January 6th was fairly well kept in Bracknell. The congregations were larger than usual in the morning and evening, and in the afternoon a considerably number of people attended the special service. The weather was bad and hindered some who would have wished to be present, but it was a little disappointing not to have had quite crowded congregations on such a day.

Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, January 1918 (D/P 151/281/10)

“The great cause for which we are fighting – the cause of liberty, justice, peace and the fellowship of nations”

The Bishop of Oxford had special instructions for the Day of National Prayer.


The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the December Diocesan magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked:

That the nation as a whole may respond to the King’s summons to prayer on Jan. 6th.
For this nation and for our Allies, especially for Italy, Russia, Serbia and Roumania, and for Ireland.
For victory and peace.
For the munition worked, especially in our diocese.
For the wounded soldiers.
For those whom we have sent to minister to our troops in soul and body….


I could have wished that the last Sunday of the year could have been appointed and not the Festival of the Epiphany. But Jan. 6 is appointed, and we must respond zealously to the King’s summons. Of course the proper Service of Epiphany must be retained, but

(i) At the Holy Communion, the collect, O God, the Ruler of all kings and people, should be said before the Blessing, and at the offertory the people should be bidden to pray according to the needs of the time for the nation and its allies with some fulness [sic].

(ii) In the Litany I sanction (for this special occasion) the substitution for the words ‘the Lords of the Council and all the nobility’, the words ‘the prime minister, the other ministers of the Crown, and all who hold command in the King’s forces’, and after the versicle ‘that it may please thee to bless and keep all thy people’, the additional versicles, ‘that it may please thee to enlighten the understanding and to fortify the courage of our whole nation and Empire’, and ‘that it may please thee to grant thy blessing to all our allies and to defend and restore their lands’. (This change and these added versicles might be printed on slips for the congregation or notified before the beginning of the Litany.)

(iii) The sermons should bring out the idea of the Epiphany as the manifestation of God among all nations, show how deeply we stand in need of such a manifestation today, and impress upon the people that the great cause for which we are fighting – the cause of liberty, justice, peace and the fellowship of nations – would truly, if it were realised, be a manifestation of God and a preparation for the kingdom of Christ, for which our most earnest and constant prayers are needed. The King’s proclamation should also be read. (It was in the newspapers on Nov. 8th.)

(iv) I would suggest that if there is a celebration of Holy Communion at 11, it be preceded by the Litany with the special versicles; and if the service at 11 is commonly morning prayer, that on this occasion (morning prayer having been already said in full at an earlier hour) there should be a special service which might run thus:

Hymn – Hail to the Lord’s Anointed.
Sermon to guide the thoughts and prayers of the day.
The Litany as above.
(Before the prayer of St Chrysostom) Psalms 46 and 72
A lesson, Isaiah xi to verse 11.

The parish roll of men serving their country should be read, and additional intercessions (such as are not included in the Litany) offered with spaces for silent prayer. One or two other hymns might be interspersed, and the concluding prayers of the Litany said.

(v) Evensong might be said up to the third collect (Psalms 46 and 72), followed by a sermon and special intercessions. Of suggestions for intercessions we have a sufficient store.

If a special form of prayer is issued with the authority of the Archbishops for the whole country, it is sanctioned for use in the diocese, and will modify the above directions.


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

“Of course, men are just now scarce”

The shortage of men at home was changing church life.

We wish to appeal to the men of the congregation to ask them if some could not volunteer to help in the Boys’ Sunday School. Besides the original men teachers who remain, we have now the assistance of several ladies, but the numbers have lately grown, and there is room for more helpers. In the old days of this parish there was a large company of men Sunday School teachers. Of course, men are just now scarce, but even so, those who remain at home might try and take their share in the work of the Church equally with the women.

Assistant Curates just now are very scarce. Efforts are being made to obtain one, and we shall probably have to be content with only one during the War.

The attendance at the Friday Women’s Service has slightly increased, and we hope will increase still further. More and more is there need of our prayers about the War, for all who are engaged in it, and for all who suffer through it, and it is by prayer that we can maintain our own faith in these days of strain and trouble.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

Determined not to give in until an end has been made of the menace of tyranny and despotism

The vicar of Earley continued to be exercised by the unpatriotic refusing to restrain their consumption of limited food and drink supplies.

The Vicar’s Letter

We can hardly realise that we have almost reached the end of another year; it seems but a few weeks to our last Advent, our last Christmas, yet how much has happened since. How the war drags on from week to week, month to month, and how, in spite of it all, it finds us as determined as ever not to give in until an end has been made of the menace of tyranny and despotism. There is no fear as to the final result, but we shall have need of all our self-control and self-denial during the next few months. And yet how many are absolutely refusing to exercise that self-control in matters of food and drink.

A short while ago a foreman of some railway works in the west of England told us that he had spoken to his men about the probability of the cost of beer being raised to a shilling a pint, and asked them what they meant to do. “We shall have it”, was the reply. Here lies the real danger for our country, far more than in the direct attacks of our enemies…

If we think as we ought of what the season means for us, we can at any rate spend a Happy Christmas, even if a Merry Christmas is out of the question.

Your friend and Vicar
W W Fowler.


The following additional names have [sic] been added to our prayer list: Harold Davies.

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

SICK OR WOUNDED: Harold Giles, Rupert Wigmore, Harry Hewett, Eric Fowler, Ernest Thompson, George Fulford, Harry Ayres.

KILLED: Arthur Buskin, Frank Buskin, Charles Smith.

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

The meaning of Christmas: ‘You won’t be afraid when your time comes to “go over the top”’

Members of Broad Street Church sent gifts to their friends at the front – and the minister had some special words of comfort for them this Christmas.


It has been decided to send once more a Christmas Greeting to men of the church and Brotherhood who are serving with HM Forces. Each man is to receive a small parcel as in previous years. As there are 150 men to be provided for this will involve considerable expense. Our friends are therefore asked for their generous help. The best way in which this could be given would be by gifts of money. But for those who prefer to contribute goods it is acceptable, viz: Woollen comforts, soap, candles, condensed milk, tobacco and cigarettes, towels, handkerchiefs, sweets in tins, sardines, note paper and envelopes. Mr C Dalgleish, Hollybush, Grosvenor Road, Caversham, has kindly consented to rceive gifts of money. Goods will be gratefully received by either Mrs Rawlinson, 50 Western Elms Avenue, or Mr W A Woolley, 85 Oxford Road.


What has Christmas to do this year with you, or indeed with any of us? At first sight, little enough; but looking deeper, everything.
God did not create a humanity that was bound to go wrong, and then leave it. He is not “an absentee God, sitting idle, at the outside of His universe, and seeing it go.” There was only one way to fight the evil, and God – all Righteousness and all Love – took that. “O generous love! that he who smote in man for man the foe…” The Divine Personality was born a little child over nineteen hundred years ago. That was Christmas.

He began by obeying orders, doing irksome things that seemed unmeaning and useless, but doing them as long as they had to be done. Then he lived in self-sacrifice, giving Himself for others utterly. He was friend and healer and helper wherever there was need. He fought evil with good, and hate with love. He stood for right and justice against odds. So far as you follow Him, and do these things, that is Christmas for you.

The meaning of Christmas persists. Christ is alive and working now, more nearly present than He could be then, and what He was on earth he is still.
He is still the friend and helper, with you in all loneliness and need and temptation. It keeps you straight, often to remember the eyes waiting at home, expecting that yours will be able to smile squarely into them when you come back. You can’t go wrong when you remember His eyes expecting as much, but with the power, too, to quell any demon that attacks you. You have not to fight your battles alone. He is no myth. Reach out to Him in your extremity, and see whether He fails you. “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

You won’t be afraid to leave your home people in His care, knowing that He cares for them as much as you do – as they have the harder task of leaving you. Every Sunday, and how many times between, they and we think of you, and pray for His care of you – in the trenches, or in the air, or in the sea; in hospitals or in camps; in far lands or in the home country; in drudgery or in danger.

You won’t be afraid when your time comes to “go over the top” (at the end of a long life, as we trust), seeing that the Friend with whpm you have lived and who you have trusted so long, is waiting out there for you, in that life which He left to come to your help.
All this is what Christmas means for you.

In connection with the Church, Christmas parcels are being sent to our Brothers in the Forces as before, and a “collection in kind” will have been taken by the time these notes are in print, and another in money will be asked for on December 2nd.

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