Lives complete in self-sacrifice

A naval and army chaplain with links to Windsor reports on his experiences at Gallipoli ad in Egypt. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he was open to learning from the non-white and non-Christian peoples he encountered, and respected the Turks as an honourable enemy.

The Vicar has received the following letter from Mr Everett:

Hospital Ship “Asturias”
February 1st, 1916

My dear Vicar

Since I last wrote I have seen so much, and gathered so many new impressions, that I find it difficult to decide what to write, and what to leave out. I have been several times through the Aegean Sea, either from Malta or Alexandria, on my way to Lemnos, the Gallipoli Peninsula, or Salonica [sic], from which places we, of course, brought back sick and wounded…

What thoughts are produced by Mount Olympus – hoary Olympus – once believed of men the home of the greater Gods! There, standing lofty and snowcapped, it has looked down through the ages on the surrounding country and the Gulf of Salonica. What has it seen in the past, and what now! Then, men seeking an unknown God in their own way, making wars, too, or carrying on their simple business, or cultured lives, on land and sea; using their frail ships with their banks of oars, or driven by contrary winds, and now, watching the great ships go by, battle cruisers and hospital ships (two strange contrasts), huge transports for the gathering of armies, and busy torpedo boats, all more or less independent of storm and tempest, and defeating space with their wireless installations.

But my pen has run away with me over my fascinating travels, nd I must turn to twentieth century history. The Dardanelles campaign is over, but I am not likely to forget my brief visits to Anzac Beach or Cape Helles; nor will those splendid men of all ranks, who spent months there and at Suvla Bay, under conditions which are well known. At Cape Helles I was sometimes ashore, and went over ground once held by fire and sword. It would take too long to describe it – the camps, landing places, “River Clyde”, and the town and fortress of Sedd El Bahr; but one enclosed space, of pathetic interest, held me – the little grave yard studded with crosses, some elaborate, but the majority rough and ready, marking the resting places of some of the many on the Peninsula whose lives, though so short, were so complete in their voluntary self-sacrifice. I eagerly scanned the names and rude inscriptions, in case I could recognise some brave friend from Windsor or elsewhere, in order to tell someone at home about it, and bring back a photograph, but found none I knew. I venture to think that the Turk, who has been an honourable foe, now that he is again in possession of Cape Helles, will reverence that little spot. I might add that I carefully looked at the crosses on Lemnos Island, over the graves of those who had died in hospital there, and have also seen the military burying place in Alexandria, but have only come across one name I knew.


A tremendous boon for the nurses

The Surgical Dressing Emergency Society in Wargrave, a group of women who spent their spare time making dressings for wounds and also clothes and general comforts for the wounded found their efforts were gratefully received by the matrons of the hospitals.

Surgical Dressing Emergency Society: Wargrave

Dressings have been sent to France, Belgium, Servia [sic], all along the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force Area, and especially to outlying Casualty Clearing Hospitals and Stations.

Old linen and comforts are coming in very well, and parcels of lovely shirts, pyjamas, socks etc, have been sent out this month with the “Kits”.

Letters Received
To the S.D.E.S., Wargrave
Somewhere in the Mediterranean. No. 1
Dear Madam,

A most splendid Bale arrived here today from you. I cannot tell you how very grateful I am to receive it, and all the things, (shirts, socks, pyjamas, etc.) we are always so glad to use – Many, many thanks.

It is such a tremendous boon for the Nurses to find these dressings so ready for them to use, it is the utmost help, for we are all as busy as we can be.
Yours very gratefully

This is a large tent Hospital, in a well-known Island. The Matron and Nurses are under-staffed and need everything. There are 4000 cases.


Soldiers and children in need

During the war charities suffered from the double blow of fewer donations and greater need. The churches of Sulhamstead decided that the Christmas Day offerings should go to the Church of England Society for Waifs and Strays (now the Children’s Society). Meanwhile, parishioners helped out both destitute families at home, and wounded soldiers, with warm clothing:

The collections at the 11 am and 5.45 [Christmas Day services at St Mary’s and St Michael’s churches respectively] will be on behalf of the Society for providing for Waifs and Strays. This and other kindred societies will need all the help that can be given. They will have the same, if not more, poor destitute children for whom to provide, while some of the subscriptions and many of the contributions will undoubtedly be diverted to charities connected with the war.

Many women joined the working party at either the Rectory or in their own homes. A good number of garments were made for women and children. Besides these 6 kit bags were made and fully provided with all requisites for wounded soldiers in hospital.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, December 1914 (D/EX725/3)

A handsome case of gifts for the troops

Wargrave parish donated the produce at their Harvest Festival to a locally billeted battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment. The soldiers were grateful, and one of the junior officers wrote to say thank you.

Harvest Festival Gifts

Royal Berkshire Regiment,
British Expeditionary Force.
24th November, 1914.
To the Vicar and Congregation
Wargrave Parish Church

On behalf of the Battalion I write to thank you, and all the kind friends who have contributed, very much indeed for your extremely handsome case of gifts.

We have just been pulled out to refit, and I hope to be able to distribute the presents to-morrow.

You have no idea how much we all appreciate your kindness, and above all the thought the prompts the givers.

With many and renewed thanks,

I am,
Yours very truly,
A. G. F. Base, Lieutenant, Royal Berkshire Regiment

Another group of Berkshire people giving what they could were the members of the Cookham Dean branch of the Red Cross. They chose to support wounded soldiers by providing then with warm clothing and other handmade items, as highlighted in the parish magazine:

Red Cross statement
Mrs Lawrence of Dial Close, Hon. Treasurer of the local branch of the Red Cross Society, asks that the accompanying statement may be published in the magazine:
Red Cross Statement £.s.d
Money collected in Cookham Dean 42.11.11

Disbursed to October 30th
To Red Cross Society for flannel and materials 20.0.0
Paid for wool, materials and fittings for 12 kit bags and sundries
Cash in hand 13.7.9

The list of garments at present supplied comprises some 227 articles including: 24 Helpless Case shirts, 34 night shirts, 28 bed jackets, 57 bandages, 24 pairs of socks, 24 day shirts, 12 kit bags fully fitted up according to Red Cross regulations, 24 pocket handkerchiefs, 12 pairs of felt shoes, 12 small pillows and 1 pillow case. Knitted scarves, socks and body belts are now in the making, the above balance being spent on materials.

Wargrave parish magazine, January 1915 (D/P145/28A/31); Cookham Dean parish magazine, November 1914 (D/P43B/28A/11)

Sulhamstead helps unhappy refugees and wounded soldiers

The parishioners of Sulhamstead supported refugees from Belgium in several ways, ranging from providing homes for some families, to making clothing for them – almost essential in an era when few bought readymade garments. Sulhamstead women and children also knitted and sewed garments and bags for wounded British soldiers. The parish magazine reports:

Most villages are affording hospitality to the unhappy refugees from Belgium who have lost their all in the ruthless destruction of their country. Announcements of many of these have been made in the Reading papers. In our own village 9 are being housed and cared for by Sir George Watson, Bart. Mrs Merton is entertaining 7 in the Rectory cottage and Mr Tyser has some although they are not housed in Sulhampstead [sic]. Mr Norton has also put up two more in his own house.

Many women joined the Working Party either at the Rectory or in their own homes. A good number of garments were made for women and children. Besides these 6 kit bags were made and fully provided with all requisites for wounded soldiers in hospitals. Mrs Merton kindly provided a shirt pyjama suit and other things to complete their equipment.

Subscriptions were received from several people towards the expenses; the balance was paid by the part proceeds of a Jumble Sale.

In addition to the above public effort, there has been continuous work privately sent to headquarters by members of the parish.

A Jumble Sale was held on November 2nd. The proceeds were allocated as follows: Balance to Red Cross and Belgian Working Party £1.7s.9d. Wool for school children to make scarves for the soldiers 12/-. Towards the Font Cover £1.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, December 1914 (D/EX725/3)