“Oceans of blood and billions of money squandered – and for nothing”

John Maxwell Image was outraged by the latest American peace proposals, as well as strikers in vital munitions factories. He would of course be proved right that a second war would follow 20 years later, though not about the cause.

29 Barton Road
15 January ‘18
My very dear old man

Do you see soldiers and men-of-war’s men in any numbers? I frequently wonder how appalling the dullness here will seem when the longed-for Peace removes our military element…

And about those gunshies [sic] in munition-works who have the daring rascality to threaten “down tools” and hang the war, should an attempt be made to comb them out. Surely the Defence of the Realm Act empowers the placing them under military law? Or will this, like evry other step of government, be taken just too late?

I was shocked by Wilson’s language. It used to be “no terms with the Hohenzollerns”. That we all understood and felt it to brace us up. But today an absolute disclaimer of any wish to interfere with the internal arrangements of Germany and its vassals. The military autocracy to be left in full possession (for how can it be deposed while it has the Army?) – and 20 years hence a fresh war upon a purblind and probably divided Europe. Oceans of blood and billions of money squandered – and for nothing…

Ever yours
Bild

Letter from John Maxwell Image, Cambridge don, to W F Smith (D/EX801/2)

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The great cause for which we are fighting – the cause of liberty, justice, peace and the fellowship of nations

Churches in the Bracknell area joined in the National Day of Intercession.

Ascot

Sunday, January 6th (The Epiphany) has been appointed as a day of Special Prayer for the War and the alms at all services will be for the Red Cross Fund.


Bracknell

‘THE WAR.—In accordance with the King’s Proclamation the first Sunday in the New Year, January 6th,the Feast of the Epiphany, will be observed as a special day of Prayer and Thanksgiving in Bracknell. The services in the Church will be held at the usual hours, but special forms of prayer will be used, and every one who desires to seek the help of God in these anxious times should make a point of being present. The collections will be given to the Red Cross Society.

Cranbourne

THE DAY OF NATIONAL PRAYER.
As we all know, the 1st Sunday in the New Year has been appointed as a “Day for Intercession on behalf of the Nation and Empire in this Time of War.” There will be celebrations of the Holy Communion as 8 a.m. and 12 p.m. Special forms of Prayer and Thanksgiving have been issued under the authority of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and will be used at our services. January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany. The idea of the Epiphany is the manifestation of God among all nations nations, and our Bishop has pointed out “how deeply we stand in need of such a manifestation to day, and how “the great cause for which we are fighting – the cause of liberty, justice, peace and the fellowship of nations – would truly, if it were realised, be a manifestation of God, and a preperation for the Kingdom of Christ, for which our most earnest and constant prayers are needed.

It is to be hoped that, whatever the weather is, none of us will be absent from the services on January 6th, but that we shall, as a Parish kneel before the Throne of Grace and offer up our petitions to Him who judges the peoples of the world, and is our only refuge and strength, and a very present help in time of trouble.

Winkfield

VICAR’s LETTER.

My Dear Friends,

Once again the New Year will find us in the midst of the horrors of war, and in our King’s words, “this world wide struggle for the triumph of right and liberty is entering on its last and most difficult phase when we shall need our courage fortified to face the sacrifices we may yet hace to make before our work is done.”

Very justly does the King call upon all his people to make the first Sunday of the New Year a Day of special Prayer and Thanksgiving, a day of National Intercession to Gon on Behalf of our Country, for the great casuse of rightousness entrusted to us, and for the men (so many of them near and dear to us in Winkfield) who are fighting for it on sea and land.

We all long for a victorious Peace, but can we expect that almighty God will, as a matter of course, give it us, if we do not think it worth while to ask Him for it by humble and united Public Prayer; for until we, as a whole Nation, realise our need od something more that material force, we do not deserve to win.

It is then a real patriotic duty for every man and woman to attend their Parish Church on January 6th and take their part in this National wave of Intercession. Our Sailors and Soldiers have a right to expect our prayers; and the help and co-operation of those who seldom or never go to Church or Chapel is specially asked on this great and solemn occasion.

I can only solemnly repeat what I wrote last year that I should not like to have on my own conscience the responsibility which that man or woman takes who could help their Country by joining in this movement, and yet is too careless and indifferent to do so.

If you belevie in God, and have any love for your Country, come and help.

Your sincere Friend and Vicar,

H.M. Maynard

The Services on January 6th will be:

8 a.m., Holy Communion.
11 a.m. Service and Holy Communion.
6.30 p.m. Special Intercession Service (copies of which will be provided.)

Bracknell, February

The Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving in connection with the War on January 6th was fairly well kept in Bracknell. The congregations were larger than usual in the morning and evening, and in the afternoon a considerably number of people attended the special service. The weather was bad and hindered some who would have wished to be present, but it was a little disappointing not to have had quite crowded congregations on such a day.

Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, January 1918 (D/P 151/281/10)

“1917 has been the greatest history making year of this old world’s existence”

Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading joined the National Day of Intercession with hopes that the war would end this year.

The first Sunday in the New Year, January 6th (by command of HM George V), we, in common with other churches, chapels and brotherhoods throughout the United Kingdom, are holding a special intercessory service with special prayers, etc. On that Sunday our Annual Roll Call will be held… We are expecting greetings from most of our members on active service.

Brother Harvey, our organist, has been called up for military service, and our best wishes go with him. Our sincere thanks are due to Miss E E Green, who has most kindly stepped into the breach and preside at the organ on Sunday afternoons….

1917 has been the greatest history making year of this old world’s existence. It is the prayerful hope of us all that 1918 may prove an even greater year, because in it the long prayed for, the long wished for peace has been established.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, January 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

May God in His great mercy bring this terrible war to an end before another year is through

There was a Christmas message for men from Reading St John.

TO SOLDIERS AND SAILORS ON ACTIVE SERVICE

Brothers,

Let me once again, in a few brief words, express to you all the cordial good wishes of your friends back here in the home parish. out of hearts full of affection and gratitude we send you our very warmest Christmas greetings. You may be sure that we shall be thinking of you on Christmas Day, and praying for you too. May God in His great mercy bring this terrible war to an end before another year is through, so that all the families now separated may be reunited, and the men now on the sea or in the trenches may spend next Christmas in peace under their own roof-tree.

Believe me,

Your very sincere friend and vicar

W. Britton

Reading St. John parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P172/28A/24)

“The only jarring feature was the never-ending noise of the guns”

Reading men at the front report on their Christmas experiences. Harrison’s Pomade was a treatment for lice, an unpleasant reality for men in the trenches. It was produced by a Reading chemist.

LETTERS FROM THE FRONT

The following extracts from letters from our men on service have been “in type” for several months, but they have had to be “held over” for lack of space. We now have pleasure in publishing them:

The fact there are friends at home who have not forgotten us out here is a very great consolation, and one’s odd moments are often filled with thoughts of those at home. Maybe this is one of the reasons why the time seems to go so quickly. We had a very good time on Xmas day considering the wildness and loneliness (except for troops) of the spot we are in…

The only jarring feature was the never-ending noise of the guns, but somehow even among that there seemed to be a feeling of peace. Certainly there was, and is, a great desire for it. Please convey to all friends my heartiest thanks, not only for the very useful gifts but for the spirit which prompted them.

L. H. N. (OS)

Thank you so very much for the parcel and message. I was so glad to be remembered by Broad St. The church and friends it embraces will always be one of my happiest memories; and memories mean so much when we are far away. It will be my first duty – and a very pleasant one – to look you all up when I come back. Until then letters will have to suffice, I’m afraid, for all we think and feel.
L. J. P. (OS)

I wish to thank you and Broad St Chapel for the parcel which only reached me yesterday. Fortunately the things were all securely packed and none the worse for the trying journey they must have had. Thank you very much…

Although one is of necessity away from home, one’s thoughts naturally are at home, especially at this time of year, and a parcel from the church where one really learnt the elementary lessons of life is always a pleasure to receive.

L. H. F. (OS)

It gave me very great pleasure when I received the parcel yesterday from my friends at Broad St Church, also your welcome letter and circular enclosed, so full of encouraging and cheering wishes. I assure you the contents of the parcel were very welcome both for physical and spiritual needs, and I hardly know how or what to say in thanks…

Often I sit and think of the times I have spent with the choir at Broad St and long to be back again. I shall be with them in spirit when “Merrie England” is being performed and they won’t miss me half as much as I shall miss the pleasure of being there.

W. H. D. (OS)

It was a big pleasant surprise to receive yesterday the splendid parcel from dear old Broad St. Please accept my sincerest thanks. Candles especially are very welcome, and Harrison’s Pomade is a gift which only those actually here can appreciate fully. I believe this is the third Xmas on which I have received this concrete evidence of your continued interest. I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say I sincerely trust that there won’t be a fourth – under such circumstances as these at all events….

My thoughts are often in Reading, and Broad St always fills a warm corner of my heart.

W. F. H. (OS)

I am writing to thank you for your kind Xmas wishes, and most useful parcel…

I spent a happy Xmas, and even enjoyed the luxury of turkey and pudding – quite a contrast to the previous year, when I spent the festive season between the trenches and sundry “Bairnsfather” barns with “bully” stew as a constant dinner companion. I received your parcel that year during a period in which we were occupying an old brewery cellar. Te building on top had long been demolished by shell fire, but the tall chimney persisted in standing, in spite of decapitation. Naturally with Herr Bosche busily amusing himself with his battered target we were glad to get downstairs. Nor do I remember that any teetotaller had any complaint to make on that occasion upon breweries in general, or brewery cellars in particular.

N. H. (OS)

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, September 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“We have all been made happy by the news of the entry of the British troops and their Allies into the holy city of Jerusalem”

Berkshire clergymen were delighted by the capture of Jerusalem from the Ottomans.


Reading St Mary
The Vicar’s Notes

The best wish that I can send to the people of St Mary’s Parish for 1918 is that it may be a year of Peace. God grant that it may be so.

We have all been made happy by the news of the entry of the British troops and their Allies into the holy city of Jerusalem. This great event was commemorated by a “Te Deum” at St Mary’s at both services on Sunday, December 16th.

An interesting letter appeared in the Times of December 12th from the Archdeacon of Northampton, in which he pointed out that it was at Reading on March 17th, 1185, that Heraclius, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, gave to Henry II the keys of Jerusalem and of the Holy Sepulchre with the words: “In thee alone after God do the people of the land put their trust.” And the King’s answer was: “May our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Power, be the defender of His people, and we will be His fellow-workers to the utmost of our power.” Could we have a happier inspiration that these words, or a happier time for the possession of Jerusalem than just before the Festival of our Lord’s Nativity?

Cranbourne

The taking of Jerusalem was celebrated on Sunday, December 16th by a Te Deum sung in procession, and by special psalms, lessons and hymns.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, January 1918 (D/P116B/28A/2); Cranbourne section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, January 1918 (D/P 151/281/10)

The risk of prosecution for distributing pacifist leaflets

The Reading branch of the Women’s Peace Crusade had been formed in August 1917 by representatives of groups including the Quakers, and suffrage and left wing organisations. The chair was Phoebe Blackall. The group distributed pacifist leaflets, delivered by hand to homes in Reading and handed to worshippers outside churches. Lord Lansdowne’s letter was a proposal for peace, which was not well rrceived by the British public.

Dec 5th 1917

A discussion took place re leaflets, it being finally decided to suspend distribution of same, for the time being, owing to the risk of Prosecution.

Mrs Tyser raised the question of Lord Lansdowne’s letter, suggesting the sending of a resolution approving of his action.

Proposed by Mrs Coppuck, seconded by Mrs Stansfield and Carried.

Minutes of the Women’s Peace Crusade: Reading branch (D/EX1485/24/1)

Farms willing to have women workers

Florence Vansittart Neale and Miss Dane continued to work on the initiative to get more women in farmwork.

5 December 1917

Miss Dane & I dropped Henry at Maidenhead, then on to Holyport. Miss Coatt saw nice old farmer – no good. Then visited our farms about women on the land – all willing to have them. Home for lunch. Sent Miss D. to Hurley farmers after lunch.

America declares war on Austria.

Russian terms for Armistice!!

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

“My thoughts are with my country”

The exit of Russia from the war led expat Will Spencer to worry for the future of Britain.

1 December 1917

Have serious thoughts with regard to what the present defection of Russia may mean for the Entente, & particularly for my country. According to the papers, peace negotiations between Russia & Germany are to begin tomorrow.

Felt that my letter to Father, finished last night, talking chiefly about my new pupil, Pastor Burri, & about the beauty of, & my affection for Wimmis, was a strange one to have written under the circumstances. Was glad that I had just room to add the following postscript:

“I refrain from speaking about the war in my letters. I can only say that my thoughts are with my country & with you all.”

Diary of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/26)

We refused peace terms thinking the Germans were “on the run”.

Inserted at the front of Florence Vansittart Neale’s diary are her notes made sometime in December 1917 on war news. The impact of America joining the war was beginning to be felt.

December 1917

Hear 4 generals sent home without return tickets!

Hear Germans offered good peace terms 3 months ago. We refused thinking they were “on the run”.

Our troops hissed going through Rome. Cadorna hated by Army – he the Vatican’s party.

Coldstreams scared 91,000 prisoners being taken.

One HQ taken – generals and colonels still adding.

Hear American troops to be trained in Ireland to shame the Irish.

500,000 Americans already in France.

Hear through W Grimmett last push we took any amount of stores & clothing, made light railway & sent it to base before 2 days.

Hear another push is to begin soon.

Americans getting to France about 5000 a week.

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

Russia governed by Leninites!!

As the gardens of Bisham Abbey were ploughed up, Florence Vansittart Neale continued to be appalled by the news from Russia.

20 November 1917

Have ploughman & horses sent us to plough up Long Walk & Moors into arable (15 acres in all)….

Russia governed by Leninites!! We & Allies have nothing to do with it – propose Armistice of all powers!!

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

A Prayer in War Time

This manuscript was found in the pocket of Lt. Col. A. J. Saltren-Willett, R. G. A, when he was killed in action, on October 11th, 1917 at 4.30pm in Flanders.

A Prayer in War Time

Father of all, Helper of the Free, we pray for anxious hearts for all who fight on sea or land, and in the air, to guard our homes and liberty.

Make clear the visions of our leaders, and their counsels wise.

Into thy care our ships and seamen we commend; guard them from chance sown mines, and all the dangers of this war at sea, and, as of old give them the victory.

To men on watch give vigilance, to those below calm keep.

Make strong our soldiers’ hearts, and brace their nerves against the bursting shrapnel and the [cover] fire that lays the next man low

In pity blind them from the sight of fallen comrades left on the field

May Christ himself in Paradise receive the souls of those who pass through death.

Let not our soldiers ever doubt that they shall overcome the forces of that King who seeks to “wade through slaughter to a throne, and shut the fate of mercy on mankind”.

O God of Love and Pity have compassion on the wounded, make bearable their pain or send unconsciousness.

To surgeons and dressers give strength that knows no failing and skill that suffers not from desperate haste.

To tired men give time for rest.

Pity the poor beasts of service, who suffer for no man’s wrong.

For us at home, let not that open shame be ours, that we forget to ease the sufferings of the near and dear of the brave men in the fighting line.

O thou who makest human hearts the channel of thy answers to our prayers, let loose a flood of sympathy and help for children and their mothers, and all who wander desolate and suffering, leaving wrecked homes and fields and gardens trodden under ruthless feet.

With thee, who sufferest more than all, may we in reverence thy burden share, for all Thine and in Thine image made; They too are Thine, and in Thine who caused the wrong.

O Father may this war be mankind’s last appeal to force. Grant us from the stricken earth, sown with Thy dead an ever lasting flower of peace shall spring, and all Thy world become a garden where this flower of Christ shall grow.

And this we beg for our dear Elder Brother’s sake, who gave Himself for those He loved.

Jesus Christ Our Lord
Amen

D/P162/28/79/1-2

Peace at any price?

The church of St John in Reading was willing to challenge its worshippers – and managed to cause a local controversy.

THE MEN’S SERVICE.

Our subject for last month, as announced on the posters, was ‘Peace at any Price,’ and it seems to have caused a certain amount of displeasure, especially to the soldiers in our neighbourhood. We would like therefore to explain that owing to a mistake a mark of interrogation was left out from the end of the title, which should have read, ‘Peace at any Price?’ The soldiers if they had turned up would not have heard a pacifist sermon, but alas they did not take the trouble to come, but contented themselves with illtreating one or two of our posters.

All the same we had a fine turn-up in spite of the absence of khaki, and the general feeling seemed to be in favour of the Vicar as he declared for ‘Peace at any Price,’ saying that no price is too great to pay, not for a mere armistice, but for real genuine and permanent peace, and the price that the nation has to pay just now is to go on fighting. And the spiritual application was listened to as intently as the remarks on the war.

Reading St. John parish magazine, October 1917 (D/P172/28A/24)

A new readiness to face a new world

The Bishop of Oxford observed the terrible toll the war was taking at home, but had hopes for a brighter future.

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

The following extracts are from the Bishop’s message in the October Diocesan magazine:

Your prayers are specially asked…
For the work among the munition workers…
For peace in Ireland and the Irish Conference.
With regard to the European war, for victory and peace, and for the maintenance of the spirit of the nation.

We are settling down to our winter’s work with the horror of the war still upon us and no speedy prospect of relief. Besides the grave anxiety of the war, we have manifold discouragements which specially affect the country clergy. The population of the villages is, in most cases, even disastrously reduced; the number of children we have to deal with so much smaller; the young and middle-aged men almost all absent at the war. Then prices are very high and means slender. In vicarage after vicarage, all the household and garden work falls upon the Vicar and his family, and perhaps they are not used to it….

But behind all these causes of anxiety and depression, we should be able to discern a purpose of God… The great ideas of human fellowship and mutual service are taking firmer root – fellowship and mutual service among nations and classes and individuals. The minds of men are moving with unusual rapidity. There is quite a new readiness to face a new world. It ought to stir us to a profound thankfulness to believe that we can help in the reconstruction of our country and the world; all the more that what is wanted in nothing else whatever but the bringing out into prominence and effect of the root ideas of Christianity about human life….

And surely nowhere is the necessity for social reconstruction and re-equipment more manifold than in the villages. I do not think it is too much to say that in the replenishing of the villages, and the lifting of the life there on to the new level of spiritual and social equality of consideration, independence and brotherhood, lies the only hope for the country…

Depend upon it we shall be really wanted in the exciting days that are coming…

C. OXON.

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

One more name must be added to the roll of immortal honour on which is recorded the names of men who loved peace, but who loved righteousness and truth better

A reluctant but determined soldier, son of a Congregational minister, paid the ultimate price.

After many months of anxious waiting, definite news has come of the death in action, on November 13th, 1916, at Beaumont Hamel, of Mr. Philip G Steer, and so one more name must be added to the roll of immortal honour on which is recorded the names of men who loved peace, but who loved righteousness and truth better. Phil Steer was a son of a manse, and all who knew him looked forward to a great future for him. Combined with a charming manner, he had great qualities of mind. After leaving school he took his B.A. degree, and before he was 21 he was already in the responsible position of assistant master in a public school. The writer well remembers his 21st birthday, for it occurred during our second Trinity Young Peoples Camp in the Isle of Wight, and it was during that delightful fortnight’s companionship that some of us learned the qualities of our friend.

He joined up immediately war broke out, and went through hard fighting in France. When he was promoted on the field for gallantry. He was badly wounded, but recovered quickly and was soon back in France again. Now he has gone, and to those of us who still hoped against hope that he might be a prisoner, the news of his death has come as a great sorrow, and our special sympathy and affection go out to his family in the terrible loss which has come to them. So the great War takes its heavy toll of our best, and we owe it to them who have willingly laid down their lives for a great cause that we carry on their fight till our enemies confess that might is not right, and a true and lasting peace can be achieved.

Trinity Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/EX1237/1)