Starving and orphan children walked, some from Jerusalem and others 200 miles, to obtain food and shelter from the British

A missionary organisation was helping care for child refugees in British-occupied Palestine.

WORK OF THE CHURCH IN THE WAR ZONE

A Lawn Meeting was held at the Rectory on June 6th, when a most interesting account was given of the work of the Church in the Mohammedan Land of Palestine.

Miss Roberts told of how the Church Missionary Society were asked to re-open their Hospitals at Gaza, of the starving and orphan children who had walked, some from Jerusalem and others 200 miles, to obtain food and shelter. She exhibited samples of the lace work done by these children and others, and was ready to receive orders.

She showed how the Military Authorities were relying for such help upon the Church Missionary Society, and the danger of having numbers of orphans to maintain without the provision of funds. A voluntary collection was made, producing £2 6s 6d. This included a cheque from a lady who could not attend.

Sulhamstead parish magaizine, August 1918 (D/EX725/4)

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“Freedom, Freedom at last!”

The Reading soldier we heard from a few days home after the entry into Jerusalem wrote home again with his impressions of the city at the end of the Ottoman era.

MORE ABOUT JERUSALEM

By the kindness of our friends Mr and Mrs Ernest Francis we are enabled to give another extract from a letter recently received from their son Private E. Layton Francis, of the London Scottish Regiment. We feel sure it will prove interesting to many at Broad Street, where Private Layton Francis is so highly regarded.

Egyptian Expeditionary Force
17/12/17

It is most awfully interesting here, and the experience is worth much. There are all manner of conditions of men here – Natives who adhere to the customs and dress of our Lord’s time, Mahomedans [sic] of every description, and highly educated native Jews. One Jew told me he had lived in London and Cardiff for some years, and showed me his business cards. He was immensely relieved at our advance, and said we “kicked Johnny out like a football”. Another American Jew was overjoyed at seeing us, and he kept repeating “Freedom, Freedom at last!”

The building we are billeted in appears to have been built for a school. We are on the first floor. There are several small rooms opening on one side, and on the other side there is one tremendous window made up of small panes about one foot square. The weather is still very cold, but we have overcoats now, and so are better able to cope with it. This afternoon (18th December) I had the great privilege of going over the old “Holy City” of Jerusalem. I should explain that there is the New City of Jerusalem and the old Holy City.

The Holy City is surrounded by walls entirely, and entrance is through the various gates. We entered by the Jaffa gate, and passed through St Stephen’s Gate and saw several of the others. The first place of interest is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Here is a slab of marble which is claimed to cover the spot where the body of Jesus laid before He was buried. Then there is the Hill Calvary, just outside the City walls. This is not a green hill, now at any rate, but is very stony, and it is quite a small hill too. The Garden of Gethsemane is full of cypress and olive trees, and is at the foot of the Mount of Olives, quite near to the city wall. The site of the Old Temple is located, but the Moslems have built a magnificent mosque almost on the spot. The mosque is the Mosque of St Omar [sic], and it is a most wonderful building, the base being of inlaid marble, and the rest beautiful mosaic work. The Jews will not walk on the site of the Temple as they believe the Ark of the Covenant to be buried there. But nearby is the “Jews’ wailing place”, a huge wall made up of the original stones of the Temple, and here every Sabbath the Jews pray for the restoration of the Temple, and of their land. Then there is the Golden Gate. This gate is entirely walled in, and the Jews believe it will not be opened until the Messiah comes.

The streets of Jerusalem are very narrow, the houses from the opposite sides almost touching one another. Many streets are like arcades, or to describe them better, like tunnels through solid stone. The shops are just holes in the side of the tunnel.

I must close now although there is much more to say – later on.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, Marc h1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

The final run for life

Lady Mary wrote to her son Ralph Glyn with more news of her Red Cross work, and the family’s responses to the death of her nephew Ivar Campbell. She had also heard a first hand account of the last stand at Gallipoli.

Jan 17th [1916]

5.30 service, and then I ran down to the Rest Room & found we were to expect 40 sailors tonight and 60 soldiers, the sailors at 11 pm and the troops at 6 am. So the Canteen had to be replenished & sufficient help made sure.

This morning I had to prepare for the Red Cross Work Room tomorrow, and ghet a cupboard for material, & I collected cutters out to prepare the work, and I cannot tell you how willing and good people have been – and you were right to encourage me. I know nothing more of the town row and the investigation, but evidently my Room is not to be interfered with. I hear rumours of the Enquiry and of the town talk over it….

I saw Colonel Collingwood today for a few minutes. He is always full of enquiry for you, and loves to think of you in Egypt.

The papers are full of indigestible matter, and the accounts from the Tigris will give Aunt Syb a worse horror, for the fighting must have been very severe and one dreads that there must have been delay in moving the wounded down. Aunt Eve has now seen Aunt Syb, and very anxious we should see her, but no, she refused to see dad, & writes, “he will understand”. I think it best to keep away. They all have a shunning of religious expression, and it does so hurt him and puzzles him – dear darling Dad with such a longing to love and to comfort and to help.

I hear of Uncle Henry gone to to the Front from Eisa Middleton, and I do dread its risks for anyone of his age. He goes as the head of the Northern Territorial Division, but for how long I do not know.
Darling, I do so love your New Year’s Eve letter, and when I can bear it more I read it, but letters make me so hungry for you. I so understand all you feel about the Dardanelles, and there was the great venture and the quest. It might have come off, but if the Allies had got to Constantinople it would not have prevented the Balkan imbroglio? And our troops and ships would have been unable to prevent Salonika becoming a base – in the end I believe it will save bloodshed and massacre that the fall of Constantinople is postponed.

We have been seeing here parents of a boy who was left in the rear guard on that night of the evacuation, and I have seen a wonderful letter he wrote to his mother, with the evident belief it would be his goodbye to her. He tells her to think always of the honour done to his family he should be in that lot, and now the Brigadier had given each man his choice, of the chance, little or none of their getting away. Another a wonderful account of the final run for life, 3 miles, while time fuses & bombs were still going off from every part of the trenches. A wonderful story told with the simple joy of the venture, & of the miracle of escape, of a boy of 21.

“That nothing be lost” and in the gathering up of the fragments of that wonderful story the glory of England is not dimmed, and this war will not be won on so many acres of material soil, but by the spirit which is to overcome and master the Brute Beast – a spiritual warfare, and you are all raising and lifting the spirit of man as it has never been raised before, for this, I believe final assault, when Satan is unloosed, to bring in the glorious shout that is to sound through Heaven and an earth renewed – “Hallelujah – for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth”.

I think of you in Egypt, and love to think of you there and hearing the muezzin call to prayer and the still sunlight in the depths of space, the stars and the moonlight, the littleness of European civilisation, and dwarf Roman the parvenu Latin peoples. Is the world war to have an end where east and west shall meet?…

A business/political acquaintance also wrote to Ralph:

1 Howard Street
Strand
London, WC
17th January 1916

Dear Capt. Glyn

I hope you are fit again. I heard you had a bad attack of dysentery at the Dardanelles.

How awfully sad Ivar Campbell’s death is. It must be a terrible blow to the family.

Yours sincerely
Robert Pollock

Letters to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3; C32/2)

Kashmir prays for British success

The parishioners of Reading St John had the chance to hear from three very different men affected by the war: their old vicar, Guy Rogers, serving as an army chaplain in France; a last letter from a young man in the army; and a view from the Empire.

The following is an extract from a letter received from the Vicar just as the Magazine goes to press:-

I am taking charge of the military church at the top of the hill and will live at the back of it as they do here, with an Army Scripture Reader as my curate. The room has to be furnished with a camp bed and shelves. There is nothing but the bare boards. I am getting camp carpenters to work to make a bed and shelves. I must rake up a table cloth if I can, and a few pictures and hangings for walls to make the place home-like. The we are going to turn the end of the church into a Reading Room for the soldiers. Would anyone undertake to collect a good supply of illustrated and weekly papers and send them regularly? The church has been built by subscriptions from home and belongs not to government but to us.

OUR OWN MISSIONARY
A letter has been received by the Vicar from the Rev. A. I. Kay, extracts from which we have permission to print:

[Kay had been on holiday in Kashmir]

I used to think New Zealand was the most beautiful country in the world, but it will have to take second place now to Kashmir…

On Friday (the Mohammedan Sabbath) I was amazed to see all the people pouring into Hazratbal all the morning… It looked like market day and there were crowds of people about. Most of them were praying in front of the Mosque… One was glad to think that one of the things they pray for is the victory of the British arms.

LETTER FROM THE FRONT.

There is a pathetic interest in this letter, as Lance-Corporal Bushell was killed in the advance just after its receipt:-

We have had two Church Parades since we arrived and I have enjoyed them very much. The first was the better of the two. It was absolutely the best Service I have had the pleasure to attend, for the Chaplain seemed to speak right to your heart, and I don’t believe any man on parade missed a word that he said, and from all sides the men were heard to say that they thoroughly enjoyed it, and for myself I hope I hear some more services like it before the time comes for me to meet my Maker….

I wish I had been confirmed when you offered me the chance, and I have regretted it many a time, and I wish I had remembered that old saying: ‘Never put off till to-morrow what can be done to-day.’ I am going to try and see our Chaplain and see if it can be arranged, for I think it can be at certain times when the Bishop is in our part.

W.BUSHELL.

Dear old Bushell! He was one of our very best at the Ronald Palmer Lads’ Club.

Reading St John parish magazine, November 1915 (D/P172/28A/24)

Going the wrong way: a missionary leaves the war behind

A Reading-sponsored missionary reports on the effects of the war on his journey back to what is now Pakistan, in a letter to members of the congregation at St John’s Church in Watlington Street. It was printed in the parish magazine, and gave Reading people a glimpse of the war from the colonies:

Church Missionary Society,
Lahore.
October 21st. 1914.
My dear Vicar,

Here I am at the Headquarters of the Punjab Mission, tho’ by no means at the end of my travels. At the last moment it was found impossible to run the Language School at Lucknow this year, which is rather a blow. However, Canon Wigram is trying to arrange that the three Punjab recruits shall work together for some months at language study. Probably we shall go to Multan in a fortnight’s time, and until then I am going up to the Batala by way of Amritsar.
I have so much to write about that it will be very difficult to be concise, but I will make an effort.

We had an excellent voyage and never once was it rough, though for two half days I was hors de combat owing to the ship pitching in a horrid swell. We saw signs of war the whole way. On the first night we very nearly ran down a British destroyer near Dover. At Gibraltar we saw the ‘Highflyer’ and the ‘Carmania,’ both covered with renown after their fights in the Atlantic. Off Malta we passed quite close to four troopships from India under the escort of three French cruisers: and at Port Said we saw no less than thirty-five troopships on their way to the Front. We passed them amid tremendous cheering, tho’ everywhere we were greeted with shouts of ‘You’re going the wrong way.’ At every port we touched at we saw captured German and Austrian merchant ships. On reaching Aden we heard that the German cruiser ‘Konigsberg’ had got through the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb into the Red Sea and was coaling at Jeddah; if this is true we must have passed within a very few miles of her and we may be thankful that our voyage wasn’t terminated on the Arabian coast.

From Aden to Bombay we ran with very few lights on at night and these few were darkened by brown cardboard funnels, so we were more or less invisible after dark. The second night out from Aden all lights were suddenly switched out and the ship’s course was completely altered. We thought that the ‘Emden’ was on our track, and some of the ladies went so far as putting on lifebelts. The Captain had spotted a glare in the distance, which turned out to be only an Arab dhow fishing in an unusual part.

We were a party of seven C.M.S. Missionaries on board, and I fear usually the noisiest table at meal-time; however, I hope noise is a sign that we were enjoying ourselves.

I was quite sorry in many ways when the voyage came to an end and we dropped anchor in Bombay harbour at sunrise on October 16th. There were at least a dozen crowded troopships to greet us as we steamed up the bay; and the Tommies didn’t seem to mind standing in the full glare of the sun to watch us pass. …..

Yours affectionately,
Arnold I. Kay.

A second letter provides more details. (more…)