“The most wonderful thing in the whole story of the war is the marvellous heroism of our men”

Worshippers in Maidenhead were stirred by thoughts of the heroism of the men at the front.

EXTRACTS FROM A WAR ANNIVERSARY SERMON, AUGUST 5TH, 1917.

Perhaps the most wonderful thing in the whole story of the war is the marvellous heroism of our men. We were inclined to think that courage and the power of facing death for high ends belonged only to the past, that our age was too soft to risk life or maiming for an ideal. But it has turned out that the heroism and self-sacrifice of our men has been more wonderful than anything in the world’s history. The stories of Greek, Roman, Spartan bravery, have nothing to match it. Indeed, the conditions were wholly different. It is one thing to face death for a few hours in a brief battle or even series of battles, it is quite another to live for weeks and months while death in its most tremendous form is being rained incessantly upon you, and not a moment’s lull can be secured. So civilization, far from weakening man’s moral and physical fibre, has strengthened it, has given him a more masterly self-control, has made him capable of acts of courage and sacrifice which were not thought possible.

Before this war, we had stock illustrations of sublime heroism, the 300 at Thermopylae, brave Horatius at the bridge, and so on; and we had stock examples of generous self-sacrifice for comrades, Sir Philip Sidney at Zutphen, for instance. But we shall never dare to refer to these stories again, they are all obsolete, outfaced and outmatched a hundred times in the story of what our wonderful men have done. Our brothers are finer, nobler fellows than we had ever dreamed of! How many there have been like Julian Grenfell (Lord Desborough’s eldest son), of whom a short biography says that he went to the war as to a banquet for honour’s sake, that his following of Christ did not affect his ardour for the battle, that his intense moral courage distinguished him even more than his physical bravery from the run of common men, and his physical bravery was remarkable enough, whether he was hunting, boxing, or whatever he was at.

That is the spirit in which our Christian warfare must be waged. We shall do nothing if we go on in a haphazard sort of way. Said a scholar and saint not long ago, “Thoughtful men have no use for the Churches until they take their distinctive business in the world more seriously.” If we believe in God and salvation and another life, it is stupid to go out and live as though they were only fables. We must take God seriously, as men and women who believe that the rule of God is a grand reality. We must take worship seriously, knowing it to be the food of the soul; not playing with it as though it were a child’s pastime to be taken up or laid aside according to the mood of the moment. We must take Christian life seriously, remembering that if we are Christ’s, the first claim upon us (not the second or the twentieth) is to be seeking the widening of His Kingdom.


Maidenhead St Luke

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

May I draw your attention to two Parochial things: firstly, the Anniversary of the War, which we hope to observe with special forms of Service on Sunday, August 5th. I hope many will make a real effort to come, and, if possible, to attend the Holy Communion Service to pray for the speedy coming of a Righteous Peace, and for strength to do our duty, however hard it might seem…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Cookham Dean
Special Services during August

Sunday, August 5th – Services as appointed in connection with the Anniversary of the Declaration of War. Service books will be provided.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5); Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P181/28A/26); Cookham Dean parish magazine, Augst 1917 (D/P43B/28A/11)

This awful anniversary – the end is not yet in sight

The third anniversary of the start of the war was a time for reflection.

Reading St Giles
August

Saturday, August the 4th, will be the 3rd Anniversary of the declaration of the War, and the beginning of a 4TH Year. There will be celebrations of the Eucharist at 6.45, 7.30& 8 a.m. I hope that a great many will endeavour to be present to pray and intercede.
I propose on the following day, Sunday the 5th, to have a solemn requiem at 11a.m. for the fallen in the War. If any relatives or friends wish for the mention of names will they please send them into me by August 4th. At evensong, on Sunday the 5th, the special form of intercession put forth by the Archbishop will be used.

September

I was very thankful to see in August 4th, the 3rd Anniversary of the war, so many present at the Eucharist to intercede for our sailors and soldiers, and to pray for Victory and a righteous peace. The number of communions made was nearly four times as large as last year.

Broad Street Congregational Church

AUGUST THE FOURTH

Saturday, August 4th, will bring the third anniversary of the declaration of war, and in this connection a service arranged by the Reading Free Church Council will be held in our church beginning at 3 p.m. The service will be largely intercessory, and it will be conducted by ministers representing the various Free Churches in the town, those having promised to take part being the Rev. J A Alderson (President of the Council), Rev. T W Beck (Wesleyan), Rev. J Carter (Primitive Methodist), Rev. W C King (Baptist), Rev. J Mitchell (Presbyterian), and Rev. E J Perry, BD (Congregational).

Both last year and the year before similar services were held, and they were attended by large congregations. We hope it may be the same again this year.

Wargrave
August 4th and 5th, 1917:

These are days to be much observed with prayer being the third Anniversary of the declaration of War.

Saturday, August 4th, Holy Communion at the Parish Church 8.a.m. Mattins 10.a.m. Evensong 7.p.m. Special forms of prayer.

Sunday, August 5th, Services as usual: Special forms of prayer.

Cranbourne

In connection with the third Anniversary of the Declaration of War the special Forms of Prayer issued by the Archbishops were said in Church, and also at a united Service held in the Sunday School after Evensong. To this service our Wesleyan friends came in large numbers, and the address was given by the Rev. J.S. Hollingworth.

Earley St Peter

The Vicar’s Letter

My dear friends,

On August 4th we shall have reached the third anniversary of the commencement of the war, and we hope that all will observe it on Sunday, August 5th, and make the day a time for earnest prayer that peace may be restored. Three years ago there were comparatively few thought that it would have lasted so long. We feel as sure as ever that our cause will finally triumph, but the end is not yet in sight, and we have still to go on working and enduring, with a full trust that all will come right in God’s good time. It is true that as the writer of the Book of Proverbs says, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick”; but we forget the second half of the verse, “but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life” – that desire with us is a just and secure peace, under which we pray that the world will be restored and revivified; but we must each do our part.

From a secular point of view there are not many who are not working for their country and doing their best, but can we say that the nation as a whole is doing its best from a spiritual point of view, as a profesedly Christian nation? Are there not many among ourselves who, though deeply sincere at first, have gradually fallen back into the ruts of carelessness and indifference, and ought not what our Bishop calls this “awful anniversary” to give us cause to think very seriously on our position nationally and individually?

Your friend and vicar,
W W Fowler.

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the August Diocesan Magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked

For our country and our allies, and for the whole world at the beginning of the fourth year of the war.
For victory and peace.
For a settlement in Ireland…

THE OBSERVANCE OF AUGUST 4-5

Before the Magazine reaches you, you will have in your hands the prayers and suggestions for prayer put out by the archbishops, with the consent of the diocesan bishops, for this awful anniversary. I have not anything to add to what is there suggested, there is abundant need that we should call to prayer all who believe in its power – that is all who believe in our Lord. And there is abundant need also that we should do all that lies in our power to maintain the spirit of our nation at its best level, at the level at which it can pray to God as we Christians have been taught to believe in Him.

A PRAYER FOR GIRLS WORKING IN MUNITIONS AND ON THE LAND

O most merciful Father, we beseech Thee to bless and protect the Girls, who have gone to work in the Munition Factories and on the land. Preserve them from all evil. Keep them in good health. Comfort them with Thy presence when they are lonely, and homesick, and tired. Grant that their influence may be for good, and that by their lives they may lead others nearer to Thee. Very specially we ask for a blessing on the work of the Church among them. Grant that we at home may realise how much there is to do, and that we may not fail in sacrifice, and work, and prayer. For Jesus Christ’s sake.
Amen.

C. OXON.

Reading St Giles parish magazines, August and September 1917 (D/P96/28A/32); Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, August 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14); Wargrave parish magazine, August 1917 (D/P145/28A/31); Cranbourne section of Winkfield District Magazine, September 1917 (D/P151/28A/9/9)Earley St Peter parish magazines, 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

“Personally, my hopes lie in the Constituent Assembly choosing a Constitutional Monarchy” in Russia

Customary insistence that churchgoers should wear their Sunday best had gone by the wayside.

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

This short line comes to greet you in the midst of what I hope will be pleasant summer weather. The very beauty of Nature around us must make us in our green Island think of the goodness of God’s bounty to us all ; and it must in our thankfulness suggest to us how great our sympathy should be with all those of our kith and kin, who in weariness too often, in hardship too frequent, are on our behalf in the shell-scarred, dusty, noisome trenches of many foreign lands.

I would not exhort, as Vicar, for just now we are all very ready to stir each other up to action, but I would rather beg of you as a fellow worshipper, that we should try not to grow weary or fainthearted in our prayers for those we love, whether at home or in Church. St Luke’s Church is open always from 8 am to 6 pm, later on Fridays and Sundays; St Peter’s is open, too. Those who cannot find a quiet corner at home, can find one there. Working clothes do not matter; God wants our hearts, not fine clothes.

There is, too, the War Shrine to provide a centre for our prayers. And many could come to the weekly Friday Intercession Service. We have to remember that life is not the only boon we can ask for those we love but that honour, purity, and straightforwardness are even greater things. I think we are all doing this pretty well; but I suppose we could none of us honestly say we could not do a great deal better…

Now may I say one ward as regards Treats, etc. The War certainly imposes on us the need for great economy. All expenses should, so far as possible, be cut down. But the War has already lasted nearly three years, and owing to the Republican disorder in Russia, the hope of an early Peace has faded away; though the entry of the United States into the War has made more certain than ever before a full and final victory. We must all hope for a speedy settlement in the land of our great Russian Ally; personally, my hopes lie in the Constituent Assembly choosing a Constitutional Monarchy.

So, many children are fast growing up without much memory of the peaceful days before the War. For them there should be, I think, very simple and economic Treats. I hope those who agree with me will support our Sunday School Fund during this month. I feel that the Mothers are another class who should have some little outing, as cheap as possible, of course, still a little change from the daily work and anxiety…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, July 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Help to hasten the arrival of a victorious peace!

Maidenhead people were asked to support the troops in prayer and with their savings.

Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,

… Our new War Shrine (temporary) is now erected in the Church. I hope many who pass by will enter to say a prayer from time to time in that quiet corner, for those in danger for our sakes, or to honour the memory of our gallant dead. If anyone would like to give a desk or rail to kneel against, they should communicate with Mr. Hazeldine, 5, College Rise, the hon. sec. of the C.E.M.S., the Society to whose generosity the Shrine is mainly due, or with myself as Vicar…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY


St Luke’s War Saving Association

Miss Garratt, hon. sec., attends at the National School, East Street, from 7 to 8 p.m. every Monday, to receive deposits of 6d. and upwards to buy War Saving Certificates. Come in numbers, and help to hasten the arrival of a victorious peace!

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, June 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

What we hope to do to welcome our returned soldiers on the conclusion of peace

The men’s group at St Luke’s, Maidenhead, was keen to welcome home our soldiers when the war came to an end.

The Church of England Men’s Society

An interesting Meeting of the C.E.M.S. was held on April 16th. The details of the War Shrine were gone into.

Dr Underhill gave us an interesting account of what a Committee, of which he is a member, hope to do to welcome our returned soldiers on the conclusion of peace. It was resolved to hold a meeting at an early date to go into the matter…

I may add that if any Parishioners, other than members of the C.E.M.S., wish to contribute to the War Shrine, they should communicate with Mr. Hazeldine, Hon. Sec., 5, College Rise. The C.E.M.S. does not want to be at all selfish in the matter, and would gladly welcome any gift from outside its own body.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, May 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

Fears of a separate peace

James Louis Garvin, the influential editor of The Observer, warned of the potential impact on the war of the revolution in Russia.

18 March 1917

Harold back on leave. Hopes to get job in France soon….

Garvin’s account of Russia very interesting. Find fears of separate peace justified.

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

What will America do now?

The Dodeka Club of Reading discussed tentative peace proposals put forward by the Americans, which they thought naive.

The 281st meeting was held at Johnson’s on Feb 2nd 1917.

The host took for the subject of his paper “America and Peace”, the paper being suggested by President Wilson’s peace notes and speeches. The host devoted his paper chiefly to the first and sixth heads of the American President’s note.

1st. No victory to be claimed by either side.

6th. The Freedom of the Seas.

With regard to the first, he contended that victory was essential to the allies, & that Wilson was a visionary. That the greatest argument in favour of this view was the American Civil War between North and South. Only by victory could German Militarism be finally stopped.

Regarding the sixth, some difficulty was expressed as to the exact meaning of the Freedom of the Seas, if it meant a reduction of England’s fleet, this fleet was essential to the life of an island nation.

The host felt the value of his remarks were spoilt by Germany’s new methods of submarine warfare against neutrals, and the discussion was largely devoted to the question of America’s new position.

What will America do now?

Dodeka Book Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)

The spiritual welfare of those who are so ready to give their lives in the great cause

Reading churchgoers were asked to contribute towards the cost of building a chapel at the closest army camp.

The Vicar’s Notes
Best greetings and blessings to all the parish for the New Year. There seem to be real signs at last of the prospect of peace. God grant that, when it comes, it may be real and lasting.

The Following Appeal comes from the Bishop of Buckingham.

Halton Camp.

With the approach of winter the problem of holding the church parade Services for this large camp has become acute. The accommodation provided by the Churches in the immediate neighbourhood, and by the Y.M.C.A. huts (which are readily lent for the purpose, and which are doing such excellent work), is quite insufficient for the purpose. With the present accommodation it would require many more parades than are possible every Sunday to take in all the troops attending Church.

It is proposed therefore to erect a large wooden building capable of holding 1,000 to 1,500 men, such has been found suitable in other large camps. The primary objective would be to make provision for the Church services during the winter, but the building would also be available for other purposes. It is estimated that the cost of such a building would be £1,000. Voluntary help would be given by qualified architects among the troops and Royal Engineers.

This is the only large camp in the Diocese of Oxford, and we feel that the Church people of the Diocese will be desirous of showing their interest in the spiritual welfare of those who are so ready to give their lives in the great cause by making by making a prompt and adequate answer to this appeal. It is most desirable that the matter should be put in hand at once, before the severe weather sets in.

The scheme has the hearty approval of the General Officer Commanding and the Bishop of Oxford and the Bishop of Buckingham.

Subscriptions will be thankfully received by the Senior Chaplain, the Rev. P.W.N. Shirley, Halton Camp, Bucks, or by the Bishop of Buckingham, Beaconsfield.

Sympathy

During the past month there has been an exceptional amount of sickness and a large number of deaths. Our deepest sympathy is given to all those who have suffered the loss of those near and dear to them. May the divine comforter bring them every consolation and support in their time of sorrow.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P96/28A/15)

“A cheap and illogical effusion” and “cheeky suggestion” from the American President

Captain Austin Longland was on his way home to Radley for a spell on leave. The SS Kashmir was a P&O cargo ship which had been requisitioned to carry troops.

Jan 25th ’17

P&OSNCo
SS Kashmir

Another note to show you that I am comfortably settled, with far better accommodation than the Atlantic Transport Line gave me on my outward journey – but a fat old doctor in my cabin who looks as if he would snore. The 6 are all together on the boat, so I shall have their company for meals, tho’ their higher rank prevents me from sharing a cabin with any of them.

So, given a calm journey, we ought to have quite a nice trip, especially as I have still escaped any duties, and should now I think get right back without having to shepherd any men.

Each day this week I have taken a walk in the afternoon, and am getting to know the place a little. Should be able to how you round if ever we spend a winter in the South of France! Had hoped to get ashore for one or two small things, but once on board they won’t let us off again. If ever I come on leave again, by the way, I shall be wiser in many ways!

Marseilles is a very large place, without much character, lying at the head of the bay, its harbour guarded partly by a chain of islands where are German prisoners. ..

They would never give us any idea when we were likely to go, or I could at least have wired my address and got a letter from you. As it is there is probably one on the ship, and I shall have to travel in its company for a week or more before I see it. There may even be one or two fresh ones awaiting my return among all the relics of last year.

What a cheap and illogical effusion Wilson has put forward as his answer to our and the German terms, – with a cheeky suggestion that only such arrangements between the European powers can obtain as commend themselves to the USA.

ACL

Letter from Austin Longland of Radley (D/EX2564/1/8)

Real signs at last of the prospect of peace

The vicar of Reading St Mary was optimistic.

The Vicar’s Notes
Best greetings and blessings to all the parish for the New Year. There seem to be real signs at last of the prospect of peace. God grant that, when it comes, it may be real and lasting.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P98/28A/15)

We do not want a peace which would throw away all the blood and treasure that we have spent

The Rector of Caversham St Peter urged parishioners to continue the struggle.

RECTOR’S LETTER

My Dear Friends

We are entering upon a new year, and there is little if any of that spirit of light-heartedness which the prospect of a new year often brought in the past. The mood of our nation is grim, and, such a mood in wartime is far more befitting than the “mafiking” mood of the Boer War. We hope that the year will bring peace but we do not want a peace which would throw away all the blood and treasure that we have spent. Better far struggle bravely on towards our destined goal, “he who putteth his hand to the plough and looketh back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” We may have much to do and much to endure before we gain our end, but still “fight on,” in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.

Caversham parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P162/28A/7)

Praying it may please God soon to grant us a just and lasting peace

The young men of Earley who had graduated from the Scouts and Church Lads’ Brigade in the decade before the war to serving their country overseas were not forgotten at home.

CHURCH LADS’ BRIGADE AND CHURCH SCOUTS

January 29th was the ninth anniversary of the enrolment of St Peter’s Earley Company of the CLB, and December 17th the seventh of our Patrol of Scouts. At the Corporate Communion on Sunday, January 21st, the long list of names of past and present members who are serving in His Majesty’s Forces was read out and special prayers offered on their behalf.

Since our last anniversary two more of our first members have been killed in action, Percy Howlett and Alfred Bolton, and another, Frank Snellgrove, reported wounded and missing. We offer our deepest sympathy to their relatives and friends…

We know many of our comrades past and present are regular readers of this magazine, so we take this opportunity of sending them our very best wishes and earnest prayers that it may please God soon to grant us a just and lasting peace and that they, our members who are serving, may be safely restored to us.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, February 1917 (D/P191/28A/24)

Our enemies are hard pressed and there are definite prospects of peace

Churchgoers in Clewer looked forwards to prospects of peace.

There is another War-Shrine of precisely similar pattern (each is surmounted by a crucifix) to be erected in Clewer New Town in a spot to be chosen by the inhabitants of that District. The Shrines are beautifully made and are much appreciated.

The New Year.

We enter upon the New Year with brighter hopes and more definite prospects of Peace, than in the year that is just closed. The new Government, with Mr. Lloyd-George as Prime Minister, has already proclaimed its determination to be satisfied with no Peace but that which will secure adequate reparation for the past, and adequate security for the future, and this has been emphatically endorsed by all our Allies.

On the other hand our enemies are evidently hard pressed and have shown that Peace is becoming an urgent matter for them, and that they have nothing to hope from a further continuance of the War. Let us redouble our Prayers and readily submit to whatever sacrifices we may be called upon to make in order to bring the War to a successful conclusion. Let us labour for Peace by the earnestness of our Prayers, and the application of self-discipline to our home-life. Then we may be sure that God’s Blessing will rest upon our efforts, and will fulfil our heart’s desire for a ‘Happy New Year.’

Clewer St Andrew parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P39/28A/9)

The Kaiser retaliates in bombastic style

Florence Vansittart Neale reports the latest news.

13 January 1917
Wrote letters. Kaiser very angry with Allies’ answer to President Wilson. Retaliates in bombastic style.

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

Hope for an honourable, righteous and lasting peace

The vicar of Cookham Dean had a New Year wish for peace to come in 1917.

The Vicar’s Letter

From my heart I wish you a Happy New Year. We all feel that the good old wish that year after year kind friends have expressed for us in one way or another ever since we can remember, carries now a meaning far deeper than it used to do in days gone by. We cannot but wonder with some anxiety, what 1917 has in store for us! What sorrows it may be? What joys? We are now being taught to take a wider outlook than in years gone by and should be learning, slowly it may be, but surely to look, not merely on our own things, but also as St. Paul bids us, upon the things of others: so that at the present time, ‘A Happy New Year’ means first and foremost:-

May God send us during the coming year the opportunity with our Allies of making an honourable, righteous and lasting peace – a peace that will bring with it for the whole world, especially for War-stricken Europe, and most especially for our own dear country, higher ideals than ever before of brotherhood and mutual service, together with the determination on the part of each one of us to rise to these ideals and unselfishly to work for their fulfilment.

Cookham Dean parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P43B/28A/11)