“May blossoms and war seem as though they ought to be impossible in the same world”

The minister of Maidenhead Congregational Church tried to encourage members to look on the bright side of life despite all the horrors and losses of the war.

May blossoms and war seem as though they ought to be impossible in the same world. The dreadful mud in the midst of which our soldiers have been living is more congruous with the spirit of warfare than sweet grass and hawthorn buds. Many letters from the front have spoken of the start of surprise with which a lark’s song is heard over the trenches. We have all, when some sorrow is heavy upon us, felt a sort of astonishment that the sun should go on shining, and the birds twittering, and passers by smiling, as though nothing had happened. But the worst of sorrows cannot cover the whole sky. We want taking out of ourselves at times. Evils won’t bear brooding over, we only make them worse. We shall be able to bear “the strain of toil, the fret of care” better, if we make rich use of the ministry of the blossoms.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to hear that Reginald Hill is progressing, though slowly. He has had several operations, and probably must undergo two or three more. The doctors think he may have to be in bed for at least three months yet, but they hope he will make quite a good recovery.

We regret deeply to have to record that John Boyd, formerly the Caretaker of the Chapel, was killed in action on March 29th. He enlisted in the 2nd Berks. In June 1916, and was sent to France on Sept. 22nd. He was a most genial and kind-hearted man, and had a wide circle of friends among whom he was very popular. We offer our Christian sympathy to Mrs. Boyd and her family.

It is distressing too to hear that Stephen Harris is returned as “missing.” The Captain of his Company has written to Mr. and Mrs. Harris that he has made all possible inquiries and can gain no information. The best that can be hoped for is that he may be a prisoner in German hands. Robert Harris was killed in July last. May God grant His patience and consolation to the distressed parents.

Wallace Mattingly has been admitted to Sandhurst Military College for eight months’ training. G. Frampton is expecting to be called up immediately. We are glad to see Cyril Hews at home again on leave, looking in the pink of health. P.S. Eastman writes in good spirits from “somewhere in the East.”

He says, “I have not yet left for the special work for which I was sent out, but may do so any day now. In the meantime I have had quite a variety of work, until at present I find myself in the C.O.’s office. Yesterday I had a line from Frank Pigg, who is with the R.F.C in Salonica; may be one of these days I shall be able to pay him a visit.”

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, May 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

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“Blunder after blunder – what can you expect from politicians if the only soldier of influence & in power is no d— use.”

Maysie Wynne-Finch informed her brother Ralph about her wounded husband’s latest operation. She had also met an old friend, the distinguished soldier Sir Hereward Wake (1876-1963).

Jan 28 [19]16
11 Bruton Street
My darling R.

Here we are back in London & my poor John in hospital & to be cut open again in about ¼ hour’s time, so if this letter is ga-ga – you’ll understand. His face swelled up again so badly that we had to come up to London on Friday. We saw the surgeon yesterday who said he must operate at once or the abcess might burst outwardly & there’d be the devil then of a mess. This morning they gave him proper anisthetic [sic] & it will be a longer job than last time, I fancy, as they have to dig out the wisdom tooth & then clean up & scrape the jawbone….

In the train on Friday we met Hereward & Daisy Wake… H looks better & is back in his old dept at the WO… He spoke strong & straight over the hopelessness of the conduct of the war in general, & says all the blame lies at our door. There is no doubt it’s the general opinion on all sides now – how can it be otherwise. Blunder after blunder – what can you expect from politicians if the only soldier of influence & in power is no d— use.

I saw poor dear Aunt Syb yesterday. She is quite splendid, but it just breaks our heart to see & hear here. It’s terrible. No doubt you know far more about Frank Balfour’s doings than I do, but he seems to have done a splendid thing, & to have had the fact duly appreciated, not at all always the same thing. I am so glad. Poor Lesley is naturally in a great state of anxiety over Arthur. They have been in action. I am lunching with Addy & the Admiral today. Judging from a conversation on the telephone he is wildly excited, off to France tomorrow, & evidently determined to be in the thick of anything going. There seems to be considerable liveliness too just now, judging from the casualties anyhow.

Later – John’s op quite successful. They cleaned up the bone & removed the wisdom tooth. He has been in great pain, poor darling, all day…

Letter from Maysie Wynne-Finch to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/3)

“They deserved it” – but Staff officers should not get the same kind of medal for safe work

Maysie Wynne-Finch told her brother Ralph how proud she was that her Guards officer husband John had won the Military Cross.

Jan. 22/16
Voelas
Bettws-y-Coed
N Wales
My dear darling R.

You will guess that I am what Jim calls “throwing my chest out” after John’s Military X. It was for that show on Oct. 8th. It’s so awfully nice Billy should have one too. I think they deserved it! Your news of Lord A’s DSO does not surprise me. It’s the usual story. As Becky wrote to John re his X – “he hoped it might be the 1st of many rows – for himself being on the staff of course, he felt pretty safe to finish up with 3 rows at least!” One is all for staff work being honoured but why not make classes & have one for good safe work & another for dangerous jobs whether won by staff or anyone else. Don’t you agree? I am so glad to hear of your new work. It sounds most awfully interesting – & I do hope you’ll be left in place at the one job for a bit. Yes, your DMO went with the rest. I was sure you would be sorry. K seems to become more & more disappointing as far as one can judge by effect. Rumour has it he’s going to marry old Lady Minto. “I should have thought he’d enough to do without the cares of matrimony” as O de B sarcastically wrote to me!! Which reminds me, I [am] sending you rather a nice little Kipling on the Navy & also a collection of various newspaper articles.

I don’t know how much of news John told you in his letter. He went & saw his doctors & jaw man last Mon. the latter thinks another lot of jaw bone has gone – caused by a huge wisdom tooth coming through & setting up inflammation in the already tender jaw bone. Anyhow he was x rayed again & is now waiting to get the report. He will probably have to have another little operation to remove the bad stuff.

George Crichton offered him & urged him very strongly to go to Windsor as Adjutant, however, having got the Docs to say he should, all being well, be fit for France in another two months, he has refused, not wishing to get stuck at Windsor. The Med Board have given him another 3 weeks sick leave to his extreme wrath, to have his jaw treated. He wished & had determined to combine the process with duty at Windsor. I expect we shall go to London next week now to have the op. or whatever it’s to be, he’ll go to Windsor as soon as possible. From all accounts nothing but a miracle can account for that evacuation of that awful peninsula. I had a delightful letter from Capt McClintock saying so, & giving that story no doubt you know of the cruiser, one of the covering squadron, who after the last man had left, drew out of the line & assembled all the ships company & on their knees thanked God & then returned to bombard the enemy. I like that, it has a fine old flavour of sea tradition.

One thing I long for these days all the time is that Mahan had not died before writing this last & possibly greatest chapter of the influence of Sea Power.

Incidentally these last figures of the neutral food supply open people’s eyes a bit. It’s no news to sailors or soldiers of course. Oh God these d— politicians & diplomats. It’s sickening. If America plays the fool & one doubts her pluck too, let her come in & be d— to her.

Isn’t it too ghastly about Ivar. Poor dear Aunt Syb. One hardly dares to think of the black desolation of her sorrow. She writes too wonderfully. No word of complaint or regret, only thankfulness that he so played the game – & by heaven he did….

People from France write rather fed up just now. No wonder – it all sounds too beastly, especially in the weather we’ve had…

Submarines were again in the Irish Channel at New Years time I believe. The mail was held up one day & night till they were cleared off, I believe….

Joan Lascelles writes of some new appointment Eddy has. I was so glad for her about his Mil X – though John heard much adverse comment on the matter in London last week! Ducky Follett is doing well, a wife & a DSO all at once. I was so glad.

Yours ever
Maysie

Letter from Maysie Wynne-Finch to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C2/2)

A tremendous boon for the nurses

The Surgical Dressing Emergency Society in Wargrave, a group of women who spent their spare time making dressings for wounds and also clothes and general comforts for the wounded found their efforts were gratefully received by the matrons of the hospitals.

Surgical Dressing Emergency Society: Wargrave

Dressings have been sent to France, Belgium, Servia [sic], all along the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force Area, and especially to outlying Casualty Clearing Hospitals and Stations.

Old linen and comforts are coming in very well, and parcels of lovely shirts, pyjamas, socks etc, have been sent out this month with the “Kits”.

Letters Received
To the S.D.E.S., Wargrave
Somewhere in the Mediterranean. No. 1
Dear Madam,

A most splendid Bale arrived here today from you. I cannot tell you how very grateful I am to receive it, and all the things, (shirts, socks, pyjamas, etc.) we are always so glad to use – Many, many thanks.

It is such a tremendous boon for the Nurses to find these dressings so ready for them to use, it is the utmost help, for we are all as busy as we can be.
Yours very gratefully
——————-,
Matron

This is a large tent Hospital, in a well-known Island. The Matron and Nurses are under-staffed and need everything. There are 4000 cases.

(more…)

Services under constant fire

An army chaplain’s experiences in the Dardanelles were published in a local parish magazine.

CRANBOURNE

INTERCESSION SERVICES.

May we again remind our Parishioners that there is an Intercession Service every Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. and also every Sunday evening at Evensong. All our men are prayed for by name at each of these services and also at one of the celebrations of the Holy Communion. We hope no one forgets to pray for our Sailors and Soldiers each evening when they hear the Church bell.

WINKFIELD

Three more of our young men, 2nd Lieut. Cecil Ferard, and Privates George Faithful and Ernest Faithful, have now gone to the Front, and their names are added to the list of “those in danger at the Front” read out in Church when we have our special Intercessions on the 2nd Sunday at Evening Service and the last Sunday in the month at Morning Prayer.

Second-Lieut. Wilfred Loyd was invalided home wounded after only seven days at the Front, but we are glad to say he is now convalescent and going on well.

Lance-Corporal A. Kimble was unfortunately obliged to undergo another operation. We rejoice to hear that it was successful, the piece of shrapnel has now been removed and we hope he will soon be allowed out of hospital.

Lance-Corporal R. Nickless has been removed from the base hospital and is now in England and going well. We learn with regret that possibly he may have to undergo another operation but sincerely hope this will not be found necessary.

In the ordinary course the Mother’s Meetings at the Vicarage would recommence this Autumn, but during this time of war, it is felt that perhaps it would be more helpful to turn them into Working Parties for the benefit of our men at the front.

A small sum was raised by an entertainment got up by Miss Montgomerie last winter, and she has kindly handed this over to Mrs. Maynard to provide some materials. It will probably be arranged to give any mothers who have sons at the front, some of this material to make useful things for them at the meetings, and Mrs. Maynard would be glad to receive the names of any who would like to attend on Thursday afternoons for this purpose; and she will then let them know when the meetings commence.

THE SACRAMENT IN A “DUG-OUT.”

The parish magazine of St. Andrew’s, Plymouth, contains an interesting letter from the Rev. H. Fulford, who is acting as a Chaplain to the Forces in the Dardanelles:-

“Services in the trenches” he says “are difficult to arrange, as we are under constant fire. Yet I have administered the Sacrament in my dug-out to as many as the place would comfortably hold, and have often spoken to men individually and in small groups in the firing-line itself, and, of course, at the fixed ambulance station. Here there is a large natural cave, and on Sunday evening it was good to hear ‘Abide with me’ sung by a large number of men, with the shells rattling overhead. We had a wonderful service in the dark just before landing on the Peninsula, and it gave us the greater courage to meet the heavy shell-fire which greeted us. Any day you may see men openly reading their New Testaments in the trenches and elsewhere, and many and earnest prayers are said from the heart. Last week I was burying a fellow, when the Corporal told me that the fatigue party, of which the dead man had been one, after a heavy shelling had got under cover and gone down on their knees and thanked God for their escape. We live here upon the threshold of two worlds much more consciously than in ordinary life, and England will be the better for the return of her Army in its present spirit. Of course there are dull and foolish ones even in the tightest corners; but, at any rate, the question of life and death has to be faced, and in most cases the religious answer carries conviction and comfort.”

Winkfield District Magazine, October 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/10)

Bitterly disappointed, but very thankful

Florence Vansittart Neale dad mixed feelings when she heard that submariner nephew Paul Eddis had been saved from drowning, but arrested by the neutral Danes.

21 August 1915
Heard Paul saved, also Captain Layton. [Interned] Copenhagen. Am bitterly disappointed but very thankful!…

Phyllis rather overtired, back to bed early – had trying fortnight, 13 operations.

Italy at war with Turkey.

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