Because we pray, a bullet may miss

As the war continued, the members of Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading renewed their prayers for their friends who had joined up. Interestingly, one detects here a little scepticism in the veracity of the legend of the Angel of Mons.


“In Jesus’ keeping
We are safe and they”

The editor has again very kindly invited me to send him a few lines for our magazine, and whilst wondering what they should be, the above quotation from one of our well known hymns came to my mind.
The thought should be, I think, very helpful to us in these most trying days providing we do, as we might, really and truly believe it.

I take it that practically everyone connected with us is thinking of our soldiers and sailors throughout each day, and of the dangers they have been facing so long, and are facing still, and also of the lesser dangers we at home are liable to meet with from overhead, from possible invasions and in other unexpected ways.

And as we “look up” at the beginning of every new day and commend the keeping of these brave fellows – an ever-increasing number – and especially those whom we know so well, to Almighty God, and when again the darkness falls, we repeat with added earnestness the prayer to our ever watchful Father Who never slumbers nor sleeps, I do think we feel the grace and beauty of those eight words. Are we not frequently being told by men who should know that the power of prayer is indeed wonderful? And some of us would very humbly say we have not the shadow of a doubt about it. Some day we may know that because you and I prayed, a bullet missed its object by a brief inch or two and a precious life was spared.

I cannot but make just a reference to the vision of angels seen at Mons and which undoubtedly many of our men there sincerely believed aided them and discomfited their foes, but I do place entire reliance in a very much older record, “the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them.”



With our fellows facing death, we can’t enjoy a summer holiday

The minister of Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading didn’t think the summer holiday season could be enjoyed as usual. His mind, like many others, was on the men at the front.

August is the great holiday month. Where there are any members of the family still at school this is inevitable. But people are not feeling like holidays in the ordinary sense this year. With so many thousands of our brave fellows facing death in the trenches and thousands of others working day and night in munitions factories and the like, one hesitates to mention the word holidays….

J P Anger, 33 Bartlett’s Cottages, 38th Co. Royal Engineers
D A Bacon, 301 London Rd, 9th Batt. Leicestershires
Douglas Baker, 196 King’s Road, 4th Royal Berks
W Russell Brain, Kendrick House
Horace Beer, 6 Lynmouth Rd, Royal Flying Corps
Frank Brown, 18 Gower St, Royal Marines LI
Fred Brown, 18 Gower St, 5th Midd. Army Reserve
Albert Butt, 111 Elm Park Rd, ASC
Harry Chandler, 7 Junction Rd, 4th Royal Berks
E C E Dracup, 6 Priory Avenue, 4th Royal Berks
Arthur Dyer, 43 Edgehill St, 4th Royal Berks
Oswald Francis, Southcote Rd West, Royal Military College, Sandhurst
Norman Hancock, c/o Messrs Hedgcock & Co
W F Harper, Surbiton, RAMC
A E Hawkins, 19 Liverpool Rd, Army Ordnance Corps
Arthur Hilliard, 60 Watlington St, 4th Royal Berks
Reginald Hilliard, 60 Watlington St, RAMC
G H Keene, 6 Manchester Rd, 1st Herts Regiment
G P Lewis, 23 Jesse Terrace, Royal Berks Yeomanry
Geo. E Maggs, 92 Southampton St, 8th Royal Berks
H Nott, 127 Southampton St, Staffordshires
A C Papps, c/p Messrs Hedgcock & Co, 4th Royal Berks
R Sanders, 158 Wantage Rd, Royal Berks Yeomanry
F Ward, 13 Westfield Rd, Caversham, 6th Royal Sussex
Reginald S Woolley, 85 Oxford St, 7th Norfolk Regiment

In Memoriam
Geo. Shearwood, 323 London Rd, New Zealanders

Brotherhood Members
E G Bailey, Norfolk Rd, 4th Royal Berks
T Bishop, 71 Mount Pleasant, National Reserves
C Bucksey, 10 Coldicot St, Berks Yeomanry
J Burgess, 40 Francis St, Royal Engineers
W Barrett, 29 Cranbury Rd, National Reserves
G Cranfield, 39 George St, 4th Royal Berks
W Cox, Temple Place, RHA
H Edwards, 8 Belle Vue Rd, ASC
Edward Gooch, 12 Stanley Grove, Berks Yeomanry
Bro. Goodyear, 100 Cumberland Rd, Royal Engineers
H T Hawting, 63 Upper Crown St, Royal Scots Fusiliers
J Hunt, 190 Kensington Rd, King’s Royal Rifles
W Lay, 5 Barnstaple St, 4th Royal Berks
W Lee, 3 Essex St, ASC
B Littlewood, 56 Newport Rd, Royal Engineers
V May, 219 Southampton St
C Mills, 23 Eldon Terrace, 8th Royal Berks
H Mills, 23 Eldon Terrace, Berks Yeomanry
H J Milner, 26 St Edward’s Rd, East Surrey Regiment
Bro. Parr, Royal Engineers
M Pounds, 34 Christchurch Rd, Berks RHA
H Richardson, 536 Oxford Rd, Royal Marines
H E Rolfe, 1 Garrard Square, Berks Yeomanry
C Smith, 116 Elgar Rd, 5th Royal Berks
W E White, 20 Highgrove Terrace, Royal Marines

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, August 1915 (D/N11/12/1/14)

A German invasion is not an impossibility

The Newbury parish magazine urged parishioners with military experience to consider joining a new local defence force to act as a last line of defence in the event of invasion.

Christmas is coming, and although it seems certain that the war will not be over, and that there must still be much sadness and anxiety on all hands, which will naturally interfere with the usual festivities.

Mrs Lionel Majendie having made a private appeal for warm garments for the men of the 4th Battalion of the 60th Rifles, met with a most generous response, and was enabled to send off the following:-

1 Sweater
8 Shirts
30 Pairs of Mittens
35 Helmets
56 Belts
75 Mufflers
109 Pairs of Socks
Total 314

Major and Mrs Bernard Majendie send their best thanks to all those who have so kindly sent warm garments for the men of the 4th Battalion Kings Royal Rifles, for which they are most Grateful (November 1914).

The number of the National Reserves at the Race-Course is growing less, as also is the number of prisoners; the reason being that the authorities have decided that the camp is too cold and damp to have men quartered there during the winter, and the prisoners are now being removed elsewhere with their guards.

The C.E.M.S. have shewn their interest in the welfare of the troops by giving a concert to the Yeomanry, and another to the National Reserves. The former looked as if it would be a failure, for at first there were considerably more performers present than audience, but more were fetched in, and in the end the entertainment was quite a success – moreover it was continued on the following night with the help of the men themselves. The other concert was held in the Y.M.C.A. tent at the Race Course, and the performers boldly ran the gauntlet of the armed sentries and of a powerful draught which raged in the tent. The concert ended with prayer and the singing of hymn 27, in which all present joined heartily.

The number of men appealed for by the government and Lord Kitchener has not yet been by any means completed, and it is a question whether other means should not now be employed to obtain them. The Rector has received an invitation from the War Office to see if he can find any non-commissioned officers among the congregation, for such are needed for drilling the new recruits, – so that if this catches the eye of any such, perhaps he will remember his duty to King and Country, and offer his services. Mr. Ranshaw, with his usual energy, is taking an active part in raising the new Newbury Defence Force, which is intended for those who are not eligible for the Army. Let us remember that a German invasion of England is not an impossibility, and that the more men that get ready now, the less will be the danger should it come.

Newbury parish magazine, December 1914 (D/P89/28A/13)

A crowded church parade

Florence Vansittart Neale found the morning service at Bisham Church full with people involved with the war effort.

27 September 1914

Early church – Church parade – Nat. Reserve, nurses, men’s VAD, Scouts and Guides, band. Church crowded.

Harold accepted Naval Brigade.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)

A dismal death wail calls up the reserves

William Hallam in Swindon was depressed rather than excited with patriotism as the war started to get underway:

5 August 1914

A pouring wet day and the placards all out with Declaration of War. Any amount of Terriers [sic] about all day. All food gone up. Butter 1s 4d a lb, and sugar 3½, bread ½d a loaf. Neighbours advise us to buy in a stock but we haven’t the money. Hooter blew again to-night at ¼ to 9 to call up the National Reserves. It seemed to give any one the creeps to hear this dismal death wail.

Diary of William Hallam (D/EX1415/22)