Balance sheets are delightful things now-a-days

Newbury’s clergymen were rejected for war work, while the parish magazine was at risk.

THE WAR

There are reported Missing – Alfred Dennis, William Smith, Mr Barlow, and Mr Marshall; Wounded – Ernest Giggs; Gassed – Jack Smart; Prisoners – Jack Cooke and William Selwyn. We offer our sympathy to the relatives and friends.

The clergy of the diocese have received a Form from the Bishop on which they could offer for War Service. The Rector stated on his Form that he would be prepared to go to a Church Army Hut for several months if the work of the Parish could be provided for; and he has received the following reply through the Bishop’s Secretary: “The Bishop says stay where you are”.

Mr Marle offered to go to a YMCA Hut for four months, but received the reply: “The Bishop certainly thinks that you should stay where you are”.

As with our food, our clothes, and our boots, so with our paper. We are continually being faced with a new situation. After urging our readers to continue to take in the Parish Magazine, we have received a communication from the publishers of the Dawn of Day [insert] that there is serious shortage of paper, or that there will be, asking us to cut down our number of copies. However, it appears that our circulation has been so far reduced that we shall not have to ask any of our subscribers not to subscribe; but whether we shall be able to make both ends meet at the end of the year is doubtful. Balance sheets are delightful things now-a-days.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, June 1918(D/P89/28A/13)

Advertisements

“A measure forced upon us by the War”

It was usual for church magazines to contain not only the unique local information and articles which we are drawing on for this blog, but also a nationally published magazine like The Parish Magazine, Home Words, or Dawn Of Day, which was sewn into the local magazine. These included serious articles and short stories, and provided popular reading for the general public at a relatively low price. But war conditions put the practice at risk. It is interesting to note that in Wargrave, church officials hoped to keep the supply of edifying reading going for the poorer parishioners, who could not afford to buy books or belong to a subscription library.

Editorial

The Publishers of the “Dawn of Day” write as follows:

“Since our letter of April 10th was circulated, circumstances have arisen in connection with the supply of paper which render it necessary for us to reduce our printing order, from the July issue onwards, by at least 20 per cent.

It naturally follows that we must cut down customers’ supplies to a like extent, and we beg to ask their forbearance for so doing. We are very sorry, and beg to express our apologies to the clergy who localised the magazine. It is a measure forced upon us by the War, and the uncertainty of obtaining regular supplies of paper owing to prevailing conditions.”

The full number of copies of the Wargrave Magazine will be issued, but 20 per cent will in future contain local matter only. Those distributed to the Cottages will as far as possible contain the “Dawn of Day” as hitherto.

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

“One can get absolutely nothing except very poor & cheap cigarettes, or bootlaces when you want a cup of tea, or a tine of dubbin when you want some chocolate!”

In another pencil letter on a scrap of paper, Sydney Spencer wrote to his sister Florence.

May 10th 1918
My ownest own Florence

I think my last letter said that I had received cigarettes [and] tin box safely, but bless my soul & body if I didn’t forget for the Nth time to say that I received & do receive Punch regularly & it is great pleasure to get it too. Can I get Spirit cigarettes. My dear lady. War is not what it was. In these days of rapid movement (I call my bivvy nowadays ‘where-my-caravan-doesn’t-rest-for-long’), one can get absolutely nothing except very poor & cheap cigarettes, or bootlaces when you want a cup of tea, or a tine of dubbin when you want some chocolate! So Spirit cigarettes are a Godsend!

I am sending you a cheque for £7. Will you take what you want from it for my debt to you & part what I owe Percy [their brother]. If you could order some Spirit cigarettes to be sent out to me every fortnight, 200 at a time, that would be very agreeable to me….

I know all the flowers round here. Just outside I found a plant of wild tanseys & another of delicate blue periwinkle. Why has it such an ugly name! The cock crowing would have just the same effect on me I am sure, although I must own that at the present moment a cock’s crow would be pleasing.

Now it is midnight, & I’ll curl up on the straw which is mighty comfortable too, & sleep as I always do out here without a dream & quite peacefully. A few nights ago I slept quietly through the explosion of about 150 lbs of guncotton within about 100 yds of my dugout!…

Your always affectionate
Brer Sydney

Letter from Sydney Spencer to Florence Image (D/EZ177/8/3/30-32)

Old clothes for distressed people in Europe

Members of the Broad Street Brotherhood wanted to help families in areas in France and Belgium occupied, and devastated, by the enemy.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

The final result of the Mass Meeting held in the Palace Theatre enabled the society to remit a cheque for £49 8s 0d to the National Federation [of Brotherhoods], on behalf of the distressed people in the countries on the continent. This was a good bit of work, but Brother William Ward wished further efforts to be made in the direction of collecting old clothes.

A small sub-committee met to consider this matter, and they decided it would be a good thing to do. But to ensure success it would be absolutely necessary to have a body of at least 40 or 50 willing helpers, who would systematically visit the various houses in the town, leave literature, and call and ascertain if gifts of old clothes can be spared.

To bring this particular object before the whole body of our members, an open meeting for men and women is to be held on Sunday March 3rd, at which a special speaker will address the meeting. After that it is intended to ask for subscriptions for initial expenses, and also for the names of helpers.

If both subscriptions and helpers are forthcoming, then the committee intend to go forward with this very necessary bit of work; but they feel that they cannot possibly do this unless they are well backed up by the whole body of the Brotherhood.

It has been decided to send to all our brothers on service – whether at home or abroad – a copy of the Broad Street Magazine in the future, instead of the Brotherhood Journal, as a wish has been expressed for a paper with more local news in it. Brother A. T. Doe has again undertaken to do the work of addressing and dispatching these, month by month.

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

‘We have tried our best to “carry on” under pre-war conditions’

The war had led to raging inflation. One victim was the publishing industry.

Our readers will scarcely be surprised to hear that with this number we are compelled to increase the charge for the magazine from one penny to three half-pence. Everyone knows that, owing to the war, the cost of materials has increased enormously, to say nothing of the cost of labour. This means that we cannot any longer publish the magazine at the old price without considerable loss. We have tried our best to “carry on” under pre-war conditions, but at last we are reluctantly compelled to follow the example of most other papers and periodicals. We feel sure our readers will believe that it is necessity alone which has led us to take this step, and we confidently appeal for a continuance of their loyal support.

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

“Off to the realm of star-shells and whizz-bangs”

A former curate at St John’s Church left the parish to help with the YMCA’s support work behind the lines in France.

LETTER FROM MR MORLEY

My dear friends

The vicar has given me this further opportunity of attempting to thank you all for the almost overwhelming generosity, in kind and in affection, which I have experienced while in St John’s parish and especially for the kind words and most liberal gifts of November 5th…

And now we are off to the realm of star-shells and whizz-bangs, where we shall revel in a pair of most formidable rubber boots and where one’s gaze will rest on little but the inevitable khaki; and one’s heart leaps at the thought. It is simply great to be going amongst it.

I have today obtained my new address which as far as I know for some time now will be, Rev. R W Morley, YMCA, APOS 51, BEF, France. I sincerely hope I may get an occasional letter at least, and also it would, I am sure, even before I see my new sphere of work, be a real help and delight if any friends having illustrated papers or magazines which lie idle after they have seen them would post them on to me for use in cheering and diverting the Tommies who use the hut…

Ever your sincere friend

R W Morley

Reading St. John parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P172/28A/24)

Wounded soldiers get a space for reading, writing and social intercourse

Broad Street Congregational Church’s latest effort was to offer organised entertainment to wounded soldiers who had been aimlessly wandering the streets.

HOSPITALITY TO SOLDIERS

On Monday October 15th, a new movement was inaugurated in our Schoolroom. For some time previously various members of the congregation has been impressed with the idea that something should be done for the Wounded Soldiers who gather each afternoon in Broad Street, and who appeared to need a place where they could rest (particularly in wet weather), play games, and be able to obtain light refreshments. It was felt that there was need of something of the same sort being done for other men and women in khaki in the town in the evening. These matters were considered by the Church members, and ultimately it was decided that an attempt should be made to meet the needs referred to, and a Committee immediately got to work, with the result that the Schoolroom and two adjoining rooms were ready for occupation by the soldiers on the 15th.

Subsequent events have proved that the needs were even greater than we thought. From the very first the undertaking has been a success. The various Military Hospitals and billeting places had been informed, by printed handbill, of our arrangements, and this was all that was necessary. Almost as soon as the doors were opened, our wounded friends began to arrive, and every afternoon since they have been coming to Broad Street in large numbers. Each evening, too, there is a good attendance of men and women in khaki. Our visitors are allowed to amuse themselves in the way they deem best. Some make good use of the writing room, in which writing-paper and envelopes are provided without cost; whilst others join in one or other of the various games. Magazines and papers are supplied for those who care to read them; and the piano is in almost constant use by those who enliven the whole proceedings. The original intention was to try the experiment for a month, but the success was such that it has now been decided to continue indefinitely. It has also been decided to meet a further need by opening the rooms for reading, writing and social intercourse each Sunday afternoon from 4 to 6.15 pm.

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

Once again are the rooms at Trinity thrown open to the boys in “Khaki”

Reading was once again a centre for soldiers in training. They found a warm wecome in local churches.

The Soldiers Club

Once again are the rooms at Trinity thrown open to the boys in “Khaki,” and so familiar is the scene that it is hard to realise that an interval of eighteen months lies between the two occasions.
This time, even more strongly than before, was the doubt of actual need expressed a doubt which has long ago dispelled, not only by the attendance, but by the very words of the men. It was arranged that the rooms should be open at six o’clock, but long before that time many men arrived eager to enjoy the comforts of the washing accommodation. Here they can have an unlimited supply of hot water a luxury more appreciated than anything else and they can shave, clean their shoes, and polish their buttons. The writing room is well patronised, crowded on Sundays, and the post-box provided, which is cleared at intervals corresponding to the town collections, has proved a great convenience.

The scene in the schoolroom itself is of a homely character, which evidently attracts the men we desire to help. In fact, we are told that among Trinity is designated as “Home,” and the following conversation is common: “Where are you going to-night? “Oh to the little home. I’ll see you there.” Could one wish for any higher appreciation.

The billiard table is the great attraction, and never without players, whilst draughts, bagatelle, chess, and cards are freely indulged in. Our Pastor frequently gives up his valuable time to play chess with our guests, and his visits are always appreciated by the men. Many of the men are musical, and an evening rarely passes without music of some sort, often an excellent repertoire. Other quieter spirits find enjoyment in a perusal of the magazines and papers provided, or in a chat round the fire.

On two occasions a whist-drive has given great pleasure, and once a very successful concert was arranged by a party of our soldier friends.

The refreshment canteen is a very attractive feature; the men much enjoyed the good things provided, and hailing with special delight anything “home-made.”

Incidentally, ministering to sore throats and heavy colds, bandaging fingers, and repairing clothes, promotes the home feeling so much appreciated, and makes the men realise they are among friends who desire to meet every want as far as lies in their power.

On Sunday the schoolroom (in order not to disorganize the Sunday school work) is closed to the men until four o’clock. At that hour they eagerly troop in, arrange themselves in little groups, and chat or read until 4.20, when tea is served at a charge of 4d, followed by cigarettes. It is good to see their evident enjoyment of the fare provided, and to hear their expressions of thanks. Many respond to the invitation to join in the evening service, after which there is usually a short concert and a free supper of coffee, cakes, pastries, etc.

Our grateful thanks are tendered to all who so kindly send cakes, papers, etc., or who contribute to the musical programme, and we would welcome additions to their number. This article closes with a letter sent by one of our guests after leaving for another camp, which is a striking testimony to the place Trinity has in their memories.

Halton Camp West.

Dear Mr. Maggs,

I do hope you will not think me unkind for not writing before, but I have been shifting about all over this Camp. We are still waiting to be posted away; some of the boys have gone, some to York and New Forest and various other stations. We are about four miles from Tring; the Rothschilds have a fine place there, and today we have been over the private museum of animals, fishes, etc., of every description. But our one great loss is our kind friends at Reading, of whom we are never tired of talking. The kindness you all showed to me and the happy evenings I spent at Trinity will always be to me one of my most treasured memories, and I am quite sure that the example and the spirit which prompts it can only come from the true love of Christ.
Please remember me to all my kind friends, and may God bless you all in your noble work, and again thanking you for all you did for me,

I remain,

Your affectionate friend,

F. White.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, March 1917 (D/EX1237/1/12)

Socks and sardines

East Reading women and children continued to support the wounded:

CARE AND COMFORTS COMMITTEE

The vicar has received a letter from this Committee acknowledging with many thanks the receipt of the following:

Cake, eggs, biscuits, sardines, sweets, fruit, potted meat, honey, jam, books and magazines, from the children at St John’s Church. These gifts were presented at the service on October 28th.

The following articles have been sent from the Working Party: 16 shirts, 5 bed jackets, 3 pyjamas, 32 pillow cases, 7 pairs socks, 2 socks (arm), 88 many-tailed bandages, 28 locker cloths, 14 treasure bags. Total, with those already sent, 1,849.

Reading St. John parish magazine, December 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

Delight in the deadly monotony of trench or sea life

Reading St John parishioners were doing their best to support the troops, whether that was making special slippers for men suffering from ‘trench foot’ from months in waterlogged mud, or sending them copies of the church magazine to keep them entertained.

SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MAGAZINE FUND

We thank all those who have sent sums of money to send the magazine to be sent regularly to soldiers and sailors on active service closely connected with our churches and their work. A sufficient sum has been sent in to enable the magazine to be sent regularly to some 60 men. We can assure our readers that in the deadly monotony of trench life or life at sea under war conditions, these monthly messages of remembrance from the homeland will be welcomed with delight.

“CARE AND COMFORTS” WORKING PARTY

The following articles have been sent to the depot: 9 shirts, 1 suit pyjamas, 6 pairs trench-feet slippers, 12 cushion covers, 3 pairs socks, 15 bags, 16 jug covers, 11 many-tailed bandages, 1 bed jacket, 10 face washers; total, with those already sent, 1,354.

Reading St John parish magazine, May 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

The war may be won or lost by gardening and keeping pigs

The April issue of the Sulhamstead parish magazine had suggestions for parishioenrs to support the war effort at home. The Senussi were a tribe and religious sect based in what is now Libya and Sudan. They fought against Western colonisers, which meant they took the side of Germany and Turkey against Italy, France and Britain during the First World War, although they were to fight for the Allies against Italy in the Second World War.

THE WAR
Information has been published in the press that the shipwrecked men from the “Tera”, captured and held prisoners by the Senussi, have been recaptured in the gallant victory of our troops and are now safe. Amongst the names of those rescued is 2nd Lieut. Albert Marsh, RNR, for whom the Church has been praying.

FOOD SUPPLIES
The Government have sent circulars to all the Rectors and Vicars in the country, asking them to bring before their parishioners the great need of economy in every way, and of equal importance, the pressing necessity of so working their gardens as to produce the largest amount of produce and fruit. They further urge all who can keep a pig or poultry. They go so far as to suggest that the War may be won or lost by the care we exercise in these matters. In connection with gardens, pigs and poultry, special prizes are being offered by the Burghfield and Sulhamstead Horticultural Society, of which brief particulars are given in this magazine.

Books and magazines for the troops
A circular has been received from the Postmaster at Reading, begging that magazines, not more than a year old, and readable books, may be left at the Post Office, Sulhamstead. 50,000 a week are being received at the Post offices, and they want to double that amount. The Postmistress will forward them free of charge for the use of the troops.

Sulhamstead parish magazine, April 1916 (D/EX725/3)

When the evening shadows fall: a valuable service for soldiers in Maidenhead

Maidenhead Congregational Church continued to provide a homely environment for off-duty soldiers billeted locally.

OUR SOLDIERS’ CLUB ROOM.
The room continues to be thronged every evening, and is undoubtedly doing a most valuable service for the men. There is always a large number engaged in letter-writing, for which paper and envelopes, ink and pens are provided free. The five bagatelle tables are never idle, the piano has little time for rest when the evening shadows fall; the news-papers and magazines are well thumbed. The ladies at the refreshment buffet take about £5 weekly, mostly in half-pence, for coffee, tea, cocoa, Oxo, buns, cakes and cigarettes. The B.W.T.A. ladies in the mending room “take in washing,” and see that it is returned darned and patched up. Two Concerts and a Conjuring Entertainment have been thrown in as extras, and other delights of a similar character are in process of being arranged.

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

The Post Office collects books for the troops

The Post Office launched an appeal for reading material to be sent out to the troops. The parish of Wargrave published the request in the church magazine:

Books and Magazines for the Troops

The following appeal has been addressed to the Vicar and it seems to be one which everybody would be glad to respond.

“Post Office, Reading
14th February, 1916

Sir,

We venture to enlist your interest in our efforts locally to double the number of books and magazines distributed to the Army and Navy on active service through the medium of the Post Office. As you may have observed, from notices in the local press, the Postmaster General has asked the Postmaster of Reading to do all that is possible in the Reading District to increase the numbers, and a small local committee has been formed for the purpose of organizing and sustaining a regular increased supply. At present 50,000 volumes a week are being received at Post Offices throughout the country for distribution from a central depot in London, and our efforts are now being directed with a view to double that number and, what is more important, to maintain that figure if possible.

It might be practicable to arrange, in cases where parcels of Books or Magazines could be spared regularly, for a Postman to call, if that would be more convenient to you than handing in the parcels at the nearest Post Office.

We are, your obedient servants,
E.W. Wedlake, Postmaster,
J. S. Wilkin, Hon. Sec. to Local Committee”

Wargrave parish church magazine, March 1916 (D/P145/28A/31)

A sumptuous tea

Wounded soldiers invited to tea at Trinity Church in Queen’s Road contributed to their own entertainment.

Wounded Soldiers Tea

On December 15th we had the pleasure of entertaining about 45 patients from Redlands War Hospital. By the kindness of the Tramways Manager, a special car was provided, which brought our guests to Trinity soon after two o’clock.

Various games – cards, bagatelle, dominoes, draughts, were indulged in with evident enjoyment until 4.15, when we all sat down to a sumptuous tea. Soon, a very festive appearance was presented, as crackers were pulled, and soldiers and lady-helpers alike donned the fanciful headgear.

After tea, songs were contributed by various friends, and two most interesting turns were provided by Private Fielding, A.S.C, who, accompanied on the piano by Private Barraclough, A.S.C., played first with bones, and then upon the rather unusual instruments – four wine glasses.

Flowers, magazines, and fruit were given to the men as they left, to give to those in hospital who were unable to be present.

Trinity Congregational Church, Reading: church magazine, February 1916 (D/EX1237/1/11)

Ex parte reports are not quite cricket

Ralph Glyn’s officer friend Stephen Pollen had returned from the Dardanelles.

28, Hyde Park Gardens
Nov. 9th [1915]

Dear Glyn

I am so sorry to have just missed you. It was so kind of you to have burdened yourself with a parcel for me & I am only glad to think your trouble was not wasted & that the coat is useful to you.

Many thanks, too, for the cheque although I don’t see why you should pay me a full price for a second-hand article! It is no use writing you all we hear here of what is in the melting-pot about the MEF. The centre of decision & the Decider have shifted to your GHQ.

I am to remain & assist Sir I.H. to finish off his despatches &c, & shall, I fancy, not be available for a few weeks more as we are waiting on various documents from your side. Subla [sic] Bay complicates the matter as ex parte reports have been received at WO & apparently have no small influence which is not quite cricket.

I would have liked to see the show through. It is nice to be home but not nice to come in the way one did! And what a difference being “in” it & “out”! The fortune of war & its no use lamenting.

I hope to be usefully employed again – & after all in this war, if one can be that it should be enough…

Yrs ever
S H Pollen

Mind you make use of me if there is anything you would like done.

Meanwhile a Scottish writer had taken up an idea Ralph had put forward to improve the supply of reading material for the troops.
(more…)