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


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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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)

Surely the day of peace must be ONE of the 365 of the year 1917?

The Congregational minister at Maidenhead thought peace must surely come in 1917.


“To reap the harvest of perpetual peace
By this one bloody trail of sharp war.”

“Let the bugles sound the Truce of God to the whole world forever.”

What a year it has been, this stormy 1916! No one living has ever been through anything remotely resembling it. Europe has been full of weeping. Gloom is upon every corner of it. At this moment each side is mustering its utmost reserves for one great final effort. Surely the day of peace must be ONE of the 365 of the year 1917? And is it possible to harbour any lingering doubt what the issue will be? The enemy’s boastful trust in material resources, his disregard of human rights, his cruelty and oppression must re-act after the historic fashions of such. The plainest lesson of history, writ so plainly that the blindest eye ought to be able to see it, is that the strongest nations rot to their doom, when they disregard moral laws, and set Heaven at defiance.

No nation concerned in this war is guiltless before God. We have not in England honoured Him as we ought to have done, and this war is a call to us to mend our ways. But we entered it for the sake of right, without hope of anything to gain. And in the smoke of the battle and the din of the conflict, let us not forget to keep our ideals in mind. Let it be a holy war for us. Nations die of unfaithfulness, they do not die of wounds. They can survive many losses, one thing they cannot survive, that is, the dry rot of defection from God’s eternal laws. Let us remember that in this strife God has a will. The final destiny of the peoples is with Him. There are those who are fearing that human trust and brotherhood, morals and religion will be wounded and left hopeless after the war. That is faithless! Hilary spoke of an irreligious solicitude for God. There is no need for us to have compassion upon Him because His purposes are likely to be defeated, and His plans taken out of His hands.

But all high work, and in particular, the work of religion, will need our utmost endeavours during this coming year of trial and crisis. The question at issue will be, “Shall we be worthy to have a part in God’s great work of reconstruction and revival?” We in West Street have had our place, and an important place it has bee, in the shaping of the religious life of the neighbourhood. Shall we be able to retain it in the future? Have we faith enough, life enough, vision enough? Can we pray passionately enough, toil ardently enough? Dr. Adeney has been saying that “the old stiff forms of the Church must be broken through and a more straight line taken for the purpose of the Kingdom of God. Churches have been too self-contained and self-centred. Perhaps God will require the crucifixion of the Church for the salvation of the world.”

Something different is clearly required. The place of the Church in the nation is altogether unsatisfactory, and cannot continue as it is. The shaking-up of things which is going on to-day will compel us all to reconsider the place and work of religion in life. Our great leaders may plan schemes of reconstruction, but we can do nothing better meanwhile than to practice to be earnest, to learn to give our best to whatever seems highest and holiest.

We go into 1917 full of wonder as to what it may reveal. May our homes be all undarkened to its end! May we bear its inevitable sacrifices with devout belief in God and our cause. May a worthy peace, a peace which we shall feel to be a gift of Heaven, make one of its days golden and memorable for ever. And “may the peace of God,…… keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”


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

A Christmas spirit in defiance of all the might of Central Europe

The vicar of St Luke’s, Maidenhead, urged hope.

Dear Friends and Parishioners,

Christmas is come and gone, and the New Year looms up before us doubtful and uncertain, yet we hope full of promise. We know all things are in God’s hands, and if we are faithful, God will bless mightily all our honourable prayers, wishes and deeds. Let us hope that no faint-heartedness may, as a Nation or individuals baulk us of a goal half-won. But let us pray for a righteous Peace on Earth, as in Heaven, so soon as ever God may see fit to let us be given this great Grace.

As regards Christmas, we had a few more Communicants than last year, which is a very good sign, as the strain of the War affects the Parish much more this year than last. Thanks to many kind ladies, both St Luke’s and St Peter’s were beautifully decorated, while the excellent singing showed the hard work Mr Garrett Cox and Mr Snow, and St Luke’s and St Peter’s Choirs, must have put in, often under circumstances of considerable difficulty…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar


Future Festivities

Owing to the War everything will have to be on a quiet scale, but we must do something to show a Christmas spirit in defiance of all the might of Central Europe. The two things for which I ask subscriptions and donations are firstly: the Band of Hope Tea and Prizes, to be held on Jan. 8th. We must keep up the children’s interest in Temperance, especially in War time; secondly the Sunday School treat and prizes.

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

Germany wanting to make peace

Florence Vansittart Neale was excited by news of possible peace negotiations.

5 January 1917

Germany wanting to make peace notes!

Transport [illegible – possibley Ivernia] sunk.

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