“The War Cloud looms still larger before our eyes”

The vicar of Maidenhead saw people being spurred by the war to religious commitment.

The Vicar’s letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

… The War Cloud looms still larger before our eyes, but, please God, this may be the crisis of the struggle. We all need to pray for steadfastness, both for our men abroad and ourselves. We must try to be growingly thoughtful one for another, the young as well as the old; and at home we ought to lend the Country all we can save, whether through War Saving Certificates or in some other way.

The Lent Services have been well attended; I hope Easter will have been the same. More and more those who have any character of their own, whether men or women, are being led to feel the need of God’s aid to quit them bravely in the trials and temptations of life.…

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

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, April 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

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Savings for the Church Army Hut Fund

The parish of Reading St Mary devoted Lent collections to the Church Army’s work with soldiers behind the lines.

Lenten Savings for the Church Army Hut Fund should be sent in to the Priest-in-Charge at the Vestry at any of the services about Easter time. The boxes provided are much too large to go into the alms bags. Of course, any who prefer to give paper money or cheques may enclose them in envelopes and place them in the alms bags as usual, with the words “Church Army Hut Fund” written on the outside.

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

Our sorely-tried ally Serbia, unlike the new Republic of Russia, has remained faithful at great cost

Our ally Serbia was suffering in the fighting.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

This month I commend to your support all our Lenten Services, asking you specially to try to pay honour to our sorely-tried ally Serbia, a kingdom which, unlike the new Republic of Russia, has remained faithful at great cost to her old friend; by coming to hear the Rev. Father Nicolai Velimirovic at Evensong on March 17th, and giving generously to his appeal for the Serbian local Relief Fund…

Lastly, let us all pray for grace to persevere; the gift of perseverance is what we most need as a Church and a People in the present time.

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

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

“All must have gained courage and great heartedness to face the privations and strain and sorrows of the year”

The vicar of Maidenhead St Luke’s latest thoughts on Christian responses to the war.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners, –

First I must say how encouraging was the response made by most Parishioners this year to the claims of God’s worship on Christmas Day and the National Day of Intercession. Many, I am sure, must have felt the joy of Christmas underlying the oppression of the War, and reassuring of the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom of the Prince of Peace. And on January 6th all must have gained courage and great heartedness to face the privations and strain and sorrows of the year under the guidance of One who came to be a “Light to lighten the Nations, and to be the Glory of his people Israel,” and whose instrument in that work was the Cross…

Lastly may I urge upon you all the observance of Lent… This year it may not be easy to get many outside preachers, because of the shortage of Clergy and the difficulty of travel…

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

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

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.

Lent

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)
SUGGESTED INTERCESSIONS

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.

Congratulations
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.

R.I.P.
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)

Probably we are nearing the final stages of this trouble

There was sad news for some Reading families, while others could be proud of their loved ones’ medals.

It was with extreme regret that we recorded in our November issue the news of the death of Private F. R. Johnson of the Machine Gun Corps, who was killed in action shortly after he had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Previously to his joining the Army he had been a member of our Choir and was deeply interested in all that concerned its well-being. We now have to announce a very kind and thoughtful act on the part of his parents. He left behind him a certain sum of money which they decided to hand over for the benefit of the Choir and it is proposed to invest this sum in War Loan and to the use the interest in case of sickness among the men or boys of the choir. There may be times when tickets for the Convalescent Homes and railway fares to the Homes may be very acceptable, and we are much indebted to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson for their generosity. It is proposed to call the Fund the “Johnson Benevolent Fund” and we hope it may prove the nucleus of a Fund to which other members of the congregation may like to add from time to time”.

Our heartiest congratulations to Lady Carrington, whose second son Lieut. C. W. Carrington of the Grenadier Guards has recently been awarded with 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. Montagu Brown, on the death of her husband. He went up into 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!

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.

This will be one of the most solemn Lents we have ever known. We all feel more and more that great changes are taking place in the world and that probably we are nearing the final stages of this trouble, the ultimate result of which it seems impossible to tell but one thing we are certain that we must not slacken our prayers – but rather increase them and deepen the spirit in which they are offered.

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

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)

“May I congratulate an unknown someone on the choice of shoelaces”

A man who had seen three Christmases on active service was grateful for the latest remembrance from his home church – even if it arrived closer to Easter.

My very best thanks for the kindly and helpful Xmas letter which reached me in about time for Ash Wednesday…

May I congratulate an unknown someone on the choice of things enclosed in the splendid little parcel. Please tell her (or him) that laces were a great idea. They form an excellent substitute for string in footwear without being what might be termed an essential in these days.

On this the third occasion may I return thanks…

C. A. G. (OS)

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

The general condition of strain consequent on the war

The Anglican Community of St John Baptist, whose headquarters was at Clewer, always fasted during Lent. But the food shortages meant they had to impose a different regime this year.

10 February 1918

The following directions were sent to all the Houses of the Community with reference to the rule of fasting to be observed during the coming Lent this year.

“In consequence of the general condition of strain consequent on the war, the Warden & Mother feel that the usual Lenten rule cannot be kept this year.

There will be dry bread for breakfast only on Wednesdays & Fridays for the first 4 weeks.

The second meatless day will be observed according to the rules of the Government (i.e. according to the days on which the Government prohibits meat to be sold in different places.)

There will be some kind of plain pudding every day.

The regulation as to no pastry being used must be in abeyance (because it has been found necessary sometimes to use pastry to make the meat allowance sufficient).

At breakfast and tea whatever can be most easily obtained should be provided, such as porridge, marmalade, jam, margarine, etc.

On Ash Wednesday there should be dry bread for breakfast & tea as usual, the rest of the food as on meatless days.”

The mitigation of the usual Lenten Rule has been sanctioned by the Bishop, whom the Warden consulted on the subject.

Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

“The world-wide struggle for the triumph of right and liberty is entering upon its last and most difficult phase”

The first Sunday of the year was set aside for special prayers in every church.

The Kings Proclamation

TO MY PEOPLE-

The world-wide struggle for the triumph of right and liberty is entering upon its last and most difficult phase. The enemy is striving by desperate assault and subtle intrigue to perpetuate the wrongs already committed and stem the tide of a free civilization. We have yet to complete the great task to which, more than three years ago, we dedicated ourselves.

At such a time I would call upon you to devote a special day of prayer that we may have the clear-sightedness and strength necessary to the victory of our cause. This victory will be gained only if we steadfastly remember the responsibility that rests upon us, and in a spirit of reverent obedience ask the blessing of Almighty God upon our endeavours. With hearts grateful for the Divine guidance which has led us so far toward our goal, let us seek to be enlightened in our understanding and fortified in our courage in facing the sacrifices we may yet have to make before our work is done.

I therefore hereby appoint January 6th – the first Sunday of the year – to be set aside as a special day of prayer and thanksgiving in all Churches throughout my dominions and require that this Proclamation be read at the services held on that day.

GEORGE R.I.

Reading St Mary, January 1918

6th January 1918

We shall keep January 6th, though it be the Feast of the Epiphany, as a special day of prayer in connexion with the War. I hope all our people will observe it devoutly and reverently. We are passing through a particularly anxious time, and our own splendid men and our Allies want all the force of prayer and intercession to help them in the struggle.

Speenhamland, February 1918
The first Sunday in the Year was the Feast of the Epiphany. It was also chosen by the King as the Day of National Prayer and renewed resolution to win the war and a peace which shall be lasting….

The solemn Day of National Prayer, Sunday, January 6th (the Feast of the Epiphany), was well kept throughout the Parish. We all hope and pray that such a day may have strengthened our determination to persevere in carrying out the great ideals which we put before ourselves at the beginning of the War. The season of Lent, which starts on February 13th, will give us another opportunity in re-dedicating ourselves to God’s service in self-denial and self-discipline, not only for the good of our souls, but for the helping forward of our country and its Allies on their way to a lasting peace.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Church
MINISTER’S JOTTINGS
Once more at the beginning of a New Year, I desire to send a message of good-will to all our readers. Twelve months ago we were hoping that by this time the war would be over, and that we should be rejoicing in the establishment of peace. That hope has been disappointed, and the outlook at the moment is anything but promising. Still we renew our hopes today that 1918 may see the end of this terrible war, and the realisation of those ideals for which we are struggling. In the meantime let us stand firm in our faith in God, and in the conviction that the cause of righteousness must ultimately prevail.

His Majesty the King has “appointed January 6th – the first Sunday of the year – to be set aside as a special day of prayer and thanksgiving in all the Churches”, and he calls upon all his people to devote the day to special prayer for the nation. We propose to respond to the call of His Majesty at Broad Street, and to observe the day in the way he requests. I would venture, therefore, to express the hope that every member of the congregation will endeavour to be in his or her place that day, so that we may all unite in the special intercession.

Reading St SaviourThe first Sunday in the Year was the Feast of the Epiphany. It was also chosen by the King as the day of National Prayer and renewed resolution to win the war and a peace which shall be long lasting.

Community of St John Baptist, Clewer
6 January 1918

Day appointed by the King for Prayer & Thanksgiving in connection with the war. At both celebrations of the Holy Eucharist the service was of the Epiphany, but at the second one, the King’s Proclamation was read after the Creed, followed by the “Bidding Prayer”. At Matins & Evensong, the special Psalms, Prayers etc appointed in the Form of Prayer put forth for the day were used.

Florence Vansittart Neale
6 January 1918

Crowded National Prayer & Thanksgiving.

King’s proclamation printed in Wargrave parish magazine, January 1918 (D/P145/28A/31); Speenhamland parish magazine, January and February 1918 (D/P116B/28A/2); Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, January 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14); St Saviour’s section of Reading St Mary parish magazine, February 1918 (D/P98/28A/13); Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5); Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

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)

“If you feel satisfied, in all probability one has had too much”

Warfield churchgoers were encouraged to use Lent as a starting point for a restricted diet in the face of shortages.

VICAR’S LETTER.

MY DEAR FRIENDS AND PARISHIONERS,

I have been asked by the Secretary of the Ministry of Food to bring before my parishioners the imperative necessity of observing voluntarily the spirit and letter of Lord Devonport’s appeal. I urged this at the Morning and Evening Service last Sunday.

As loyal citizens you have been asked to save the country the enormous expense of using compulsion, which means the diversion of labour that could be more profitably employed in other directions. The Church during this season of Lent is calling us to self-control; some have always made a rule of restricting their diet in obedience to the laws of the Church on certain days and will not feel this restriction of food as other people may. We have to leave the table feeling unsatisfied, but that is an excellent thing to do. If you feel satisfied, in all probability one has had too much.

What a great thing it would be if England could accommodate herself to the present circumstances from loyalty rather than under compulsion. It is no excuse for anyone to excuse their excess because others exceed. If one man is a thief and robs his neighbour’s food, it does not make it right for others to do the like. Let us all try from our duty to God as well as our duty to our fellow man to keep under our bodies and bring them into subjection.

Yours faithfully in Christ,

WALTER THACKERAY.

* * *

As a result of a preliminary meeting in Bracknell on the subject of War Savings, a branch has been started in Warfield with its headquarters at the School. Mr. Brockbank is Hon. Secretary and Miss Leach Hon. Treasurer. It has already been doing good business. We wish to thank Lady Finlay for her encouragement of the children by giving eightpence towards the sum of 14/- saved.

Warfield section of Winkfield District Magazine, March 1917 (D/P151/28A./9/3

“This year we shall be obliged to keep Lent, whether we like it or not”

Shortages were beginning to affect everyone.

LENT

It seems that this year we shall be obliged to keep Lent, whether we like it or not. Railway travel has been curtailed, food prices are still rising, food is getting scarce, and all the efforts of the nation are to be devoted to winning the war. As Church-people we are used to the season of Lent, but there is a question whether we have kept it as we ought, in fact it is certain that many Church-people have paid very little attention to the Church’s injunctions in this respect. But we cannot disobey the State with impunity, and we should be extremely selfish if we did not do our bit to practise economy, and so help to save the Nation’s food. There are many who might, with advantage, purchase War Savings Certificates, to help the country and to make provision for the future; and we would beg all our readers to do their very utmost to carry out the Food Controller’s instructions, in the spirit in which they were issued. The Germans are not yet decisively beaten – if this is to be done, everyone of us will have to help.

We should like to offer our sincere sympathy to Mr and Mrs Savage on the untimely death of a good son and promising young soldier. Edward George Savage was confirmed at the Parish Church in 1912. He passed away from the effects of pneumonia, following upon an attack of measles… The coffin was borne by soldiers, and there was a following party of the Royal Flying Corps.

We would also offer our sincere sympathy to Mrs Manley on the death of her husband on service, as announced in the “Newbury Weekly News” of February 15th.

The National Schools have had a bad time during the long continued frost: first of all on account of the heating apparatus misbehaving itself; and secondly, on account of the water being frozen. The Managers have endeavoured to remedy the former by adding to the boiler: it is possible that the coke does not nowadays give out so much heat, as certain properties have to be taken out for the manufacture of explosives.

The Parish Room has now been evacuated by the Military, and has returned to its usual state. The soldiers were very quiet and well behaved during their stay there. The occupation brought in a little money to the Parish Room Fund. We trust that outside people, who have been accustomed to use the room, will now appreciate the privilege more. The men who were billeted in the Parish Room desire, through the medium of the Parish Magazine, to sincerely thank all those who so kindly contributed to their comfort during their stay there.

Mrs L R Majendie would be grateful for gifts of material, such as cretonne, for the members of the Mothers’ Meetings to make “treasure bags” for wounded soldiers.

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

“Many empty lorries driven by the men of the Flying Corps pass daily through the village”

Cranbourne people were invited to grow vegetables, while church services were disrupted.

For the purpose of saving fuel and light in Lent week, Evening Services will be held in the Sunday School on Wednesdays at 7 p.m., and Evensong will be said on Sundays in Church at 3 p.m. instead of 6 p.m., until we can do without the gas. It seems to be almost impossible for the Coal Merchants to deliver fuel just now, there is coke and coal at the stations, but no carts are to be had. Many empty lorries driven by the men of the Flying Corps pass daily through the village, how helpful it would be if they could “dump” a few sacks of coal for us at some central place.

Two lectures on “Vegetable cultivation in War time” have been given in the Reading Room by Mr. F. W. Custin, F.R.H.S. Unfortunately there was not the large attendance that might have been expected when all of us are being urged to add to the food supply of the nation. The lectures were most practical and helpful. Great stress was laid on the need of spraying not only potatoes, but the young vegetable plants. The lecturer gave the following recipe for a spray of paraffin emulsion:- ¼ pint of paraffin, ¼ -lb. of soft soap, 3½ -gallons of water. Mix the soft soap with a little hot water, whisk it up and then add the paraffin slowly, beating it up as it is poured in, then add the remainder of the water. This should be used for onions and celery in May and June. Potatoes should be sprayed with Bordeaux mixture at the beginning of July and also early in August. We expect the delivery of the seed potatoes at an early date.

Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, March 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/3)