“The line is a very different country now to what it was when I was here in September 1916”

Percy Spencer, as a single man, relied heavily on his sister Florence for the supply of toiletries and other things, and even asked her to do his mending. He was pleased to hear that former art student brother Stanley had been asked to join the War Artists scheme. As Percy proudly predicted, it was to be the first step in a starry career.

June 5, 1918

My dear WF

Thank you for the long letter, battery, key ring and tinder ‘lighter’, the lighter however does everything but light and the battery is the wrong shape. I think I said tubular. However I’m trying to get one here.

I got the last parcel – in fact all you have sent I think, dear. But letters do seem scarce when one’s only correspondents are a dear sister and one’s mother and father.

Can I give you another wants list –

6 eyelets for field boots
1 pair long laces (field boots)
2 pairs mohair laces (ankle boots)
Cake Wrights coal tar soap
Tube Kolynos tooth paste
Socks

3 or 4 pairs of socks I have, want mending. May I send them back to you on receipt of some from you?

I can’t remember whether I left any at my diggings. If you have none I’ll write to Mrs Curtis.

I’m having a lovely time camped in a wood by a stream. Worked pretty hard, as the orderly room has run downhill badly and I’m applying ginger.

We generally get a few hours bombing each night and occasional shelling and gas shelling, but nothing very near. Had a lucky escape further back a week or so ago. The Huns shelled our camp and dropped a shell close to the tent the doctor and I were in and between 2 bivouacs. Luckily we were all sleeping at the time and the force of the explosion and another from the shell went over us.

Last night I went for a walk up the line as I was feeling rather bilious. It was about 8 miles up from here. A very different country now to what it was when I was here in September 1916. It was a very quiet trip, no shelling or machine gunning. Arrived back at 2.30 am and feel all the better for my walk this morning.

Have you seen that Gen. K has got a CMG?

Your news about Stanley is the best that has reached me for many a day. Of course it’s a terrific compliment to his work and an appreciation which may be the making of his name.

I rather think that Sydney is north of me.

Yours ever
Percy


Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/41-44)

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The calamity of war teaches us a lesson

Maidenhead Congregational Church was girding itself for another year of war.

SOLDIER GUESTS.

There seems every probability that Maidenhead will be again called upon to receive a number of soldiers in training, and that in consequence our Schoolroom may be again required for their entertainment in the evenings. If it be so, we will cheerfully face the disturbance to our own arrangements, and no doubt the willing workers of last winter will feel it a privilege to serve again.

A Word for the New Year

With what spirits are we going forward into this strange New Year? …

We move into the New Year with the calamity of war upon us, and we may calmly wait the issue, if we believe in God, and if we are sure that for us, yea and for all the nations too, even our enemies, the end of it will bring us nearer to the goal of all true civilization. God has always brought blessings out of calamities. He who knows nothing of surgery might denounce the cruelty of the surgeon’s knife, but wisdom is sure that the hand that holds it is mercy. National putrefaction is a worse thing than national sorrow, and when God’s judgments are written in flaming letters across the lands, many who could not have heard the lesson in any other way, begin to understand that there is a God in the earth.

The virtues of courage and endurance are everyone’s admiration just now, so magnificently are they exemplified by our khaki-clad heroes. Is there not room and occasion for them in the lives of us all?…
T F Lewis.

SOLDIER GUESTS.
There seems every probability that Maidenhead will be again called upon to receive a number of soldiers in training, and that in consequence our Schoolroom may be again required for their entertainment in the evenings. If it be so, we will cheerfully face the disturbance to our own arrangements, and no doubt the willing workers of last winter will feel it a privilege to serve again.”

OUR ROLL OF HEROES.
There are a few changes to make since our last record. Charles Hurrell has been discharged from the Navy, in consequence of a breakdown in health. Cyril Hews has left Newhaven, where he has been since August of last year, and expects to proceed to the front immediately. Thomas Mulford has left for Egypt. Horace Gibbons is still in hospital, but is going on well. Percy Lewis has been gazetted Captain, Hugh Lewis has received a Second Lieutenancy in the Royal Engineers, and is stationed at Northampton. No news has been received of Harold Fisher, reported missing on September 28th, but it has been ascertained that some of his Company were taken prisoners on that day, and we may hope that he is among them. Benjamin Gibbons and David Dalgliesh have gone with their regiments to the scene of action in France. John Bolton has been promoted Company Quarter-Master Sergeant. Robert Harris is on the point of crossing to France, perhaps has already crossed. Bert Plum has gone down the Mediterranean, destination unknown. May our Heavenly Father, to whose gracious care we lovingly commend all our lads, preserve and bless them, and enable them to be faithful to their duty and their God.

OUR SOLDIERS’ LETTERS

Many acknowledgements have been received of the Church’s letter: we quote extracts from two.

“I write to thank the Church for the very kind and thoughtful letter which I received last week. It brings to my mind the happy days I spent in the Sunday School, which I look back upon as days of sunshine. It gives me great satisfaction to know that yourself and the Church have not forgotten one who has been away from your midst for a few years.”

“Let me thank you, as our Church’s representative, for the very nice letter of greeting and good will which I received on the 18th November. It has been a great comfort to me on several occasions to remember that I am a member of the Church, and I was very much gratified to receive the kind message, and the assurance that God is on our side, and is always with us.”

Maidenhead Congregational magazine, December 1915 (D/N33/12/1/5)