Soldiers get very rough and ready, but are grateful to the churches for hospitality

One of the soldiers who had attended the social evenings run by Broad Street Church wrote to say how much he appreciated it. The “pioneers” in the British Army were engaged in construction and engineering, and also leading assaults on major fortifications.

APPRECIATION OF HOSPITALITY

The friends who are helping in connection with our work amongst the soldiers are constantly hearing expressions of appreciation and thanks. But the following letter is perhaps the best evidence of the feeling which has been called forth. It was sent to Mr Rawlinson by Corporal Hill of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and it speaks for itself:

Litherland
Near Liverpool

November 20th, 1917

Dear Sir,

I am writing to thank you for all you did for me during my stay in Reading.

I was attached to the Pioneer School, and took advantage of your hospitality, and appreciate it very much; and I must say I appreciate it more now that I have left Reading. I was too “nervous” or I should have thanked you personally on behalf of the fellows of the School, for the good time you gave us. So please convey my gratitude to those who entertained us on Sunday evenings, and also yourself for allowing us there. I know soldiers get very rough and ready, but I have heard some of them speak in glowing terms of the efforts made by the Congregationalists all over the country to help cheer up all those who were away from home, and wanted somewhere where they could spend a quiet and contemplative evening.

I have a very good impression of Reading, and am looking forward to the time when I shall be able to visit it again.

I shall be very pleased to receive a letter from you.

Again thanking you for what you have done for me amomgst many.

Yours sincerely
A J Hill.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, December 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

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Nowhere to go but their billets

A church hall in Reading became the off-duty home for men training to be Pioneers (military engineers).

The Parish Hall has been taken over by the military authorities who intend to use it as a reading room and recreation room for the Pioneer School of Instruction which numbers 400 NCOs and men who on a wet day have no-where to go but their billets. In consequence the Hall will not be available for any other purpose, parochial or otherwise.

The Vicar has heard from Mr Hepple who asks to be remembered to his many friends. Mr Hepple is Chaplain to a West Country regiment in Mesopotamia. He writes in excellent spirits and is enjoying temperature of between 86 and 110 degrees in the shade. When the cold winter days come we will warm ourselves by thinking of Mr Hepple.

Christ Church parish magazine, Noveber 1917 (D/P170/28A/24)

“A special grief that a young life so full of promise should have been brought thus prematurely to a close”

A Reading teenager’s burial at the front is described.

Trinity Roll of Honour.

Two more of our “boys” are this month enrolled, one of whom, we are sorry to hear, has already made the supreme sacrifice.

John Bernard Eighteen.
Henry Thomas Eighteen (Killed).


Marsden Cooper.

It is the deepest regret that we have to record the death in action of another of our young men who have gone out from our Church. After a brief two months only at the front, Second Lieutenant Marsden Cooper has fallen in the fight for his country and the right. He was an Officer full of the highest promise, having done well in everything he attempted. Our deep sympathy goes out to Mr. and Mrs. John Cooper in their bereavement.

We print an extract from the Chaplain’s letter to his parents:

“Though he had not been here long he had impressed everyone with his constant cheerfulness and straightforwardness of his character. We laid him to rest in a little Cemetery just behind the firing line late on Saturday evening. There had been some difficulty in preparing the grave owing to a sudden and somewhat violent bombardment, but about 7.45 the news was brought to our dug-out that all was ready and we felt out way out along the communication trench and then over it to the Cemetery.

It was so dark that we could not see that we had arrived at the place until one of the pioneers spoke to us. There were seven or eight of us all told, and as we stood around the open grave we repeated the words, ‘Be thou faithful unto death, and we will give thee the crown of life,’ and ‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ and together we thank God that your boy had not counted his life dear unto himself, but had laid it down for King and Country. I may not, of course say where the grave is, but I have forwarded full particulars with map reference to the Authorities. “A small wooden cross with durable inscription has been made by the Battalion Pioneers, and was placed in position on the following day.”

The following is the appreciative testimony of the Headmaster of Reading School:

“The deceased officer was only 19 years of age, and went to the front in the Worcestershire’s about the middle of December, shortly after completing his course at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was educated at Reading School, where he gained a Council Scholarship in 1909. His School career was unusually distinguished. In 1914 he gained a School Certificate, followed the next year by a Higher Certificate. In response to his country’s call, he decided to take a commission, and in the entrance examination for the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, held in February, 1916, he came out second on the list, gaining a prize Cadetship.

At Sandhurst his success was no less pronounced than at School, and he gained the position of sergeant in his cadet unit the highest position a cadet can obtain before he left the College. Not only had he considerable intellectual gifts, as his record shows, but he was a fine athlete as well. He was an excellent all-round cricketer, and his natural powers as a bowler would have enabled him to make his mark in really good company. As a Rugby football player he showed great promise, and before he left school he had the distinction of being captain of football, captain of cricket, and captain of the School. Yet he was never elated by success, and perhaps it was more than anything his modesty which made him so popular with the boys and masters alike. Those who have watched his career for the last two years, and marked the way in which his development always seemed to keep pace with his new responsibilities, feel a special grief that a young life so full of promise should have been brought thus prematurely to a close.”

Trinity Congregational Church, Reading: magazine, February 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

Greater love hath no man than this

Caversham men’s service was honoured.

ANOTHER DISTINCTION FOR CAVERSHAM.

Hearty congratulations to 2nd Lieut. A.F.C. Hill, upon receiving the Military Cross for gallant conduct with the Salonika Expeditions. This is the fourth Military Cross awarded to Caversham men, the other recipients being the Rev. C.W.O. Jenkyn, Army Chaplain; 2nd Lieut. D.T. Cowan, A. and S. Highlanders; and Sergt.-Major Wilfred Lee, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry.

Lieut. E.J. Churchill, R.E., has been “mentioned in dispatches.”

Sergt. E. Canning, of 1/4TH Royal Berks, is one of the two non-commissioned officers selected out of his battalion for the honour of a Commission.

Caversham roll of honour.

“Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friend”

Name, Ship or Regiment and address, Date of death
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A real spirit of reverence: an army chaplain’s first Sunday at the Front

T Guy Rogers, former vicar of Reading St John, wrote back to his former parishioners to describe his new life as an army chaplain.

EXTRACT FROM A LETTER FROM Mr. ROGERS.

Dec. 6th

…My first Sunday at the front… I had several strenuous days trying to make arrangements, sometimes riding up and down a street or locality for about half an hour, trying to find a particular headquarters, or officer. My job was to arrange services for all units of the Division (as far as was humanly possible!) – quartered in my particular neighbourhood- the place where the dressing station is. That meant not only for my own Brigade (such part of it as would be out of the trenches) but engineering sections, pioneers, machine gunners, artillery and anything in the way of Divisional troops round me. No one seems to have had the job before, as the Guards have only recently come here. At any rate I was left to sink or swim. However, all my arrangements came through and I had a successful Sunday…

I started off at 8 a.m., with my servant, both walking, carrying communion bag, robes, hymn-books for the congregation etc. After about 20 minutes we reached a big barn, in the loft of which I was to take a parade service, followed by a celebration for a company of Engineers. When I arrived, men were sleeping and dressing, hanging up their clothes and sitting by the braziers making their breakfasts.
It was really rather an awful moment, but we soon got a fatigue party to sweep up the place. I got some forms, rather dirty I’m afraid, and fenced them round a rough table for communion rails; put on a white tablecloth and got ready. The bunks were pushed well back and we got a clear space, though rather a wet one, in the centre. Then the officers came in and we had a very happy little parade service of about 30 or 40. Everybody stood all the time. Of course we had no instrument but some of the men started some of the well known hymns. This was service number one. Then I took a short form of celebration for about 7 or 8. The surroundings were very odd, but there was a real spirit of reverence. (more…)

Pioneer training for Sydney Spencer

Lieutenant Sydney Spencer of Cookham, who had spent most of 1915 in training, was now sent on a training course for Infantry Pioneers, who were responsible for engineering related tasks, such as building roads and bridges for the army.

Nov 27th
By order 4 Lt S Spencer has been detailed to attend the next Infantry Pioneer course assembling at Ongar on the 3rd Dec 1915. He will make arrangements accordingly.

3rd Dec
I go to Ongar as above order states.

Diary of Sydney Spencer (D/EX801/12)

Make the Wargrave Roll of Honour perfect

Many parishes regularly published a Roll of Honour of those serving. One of these was Wargrave, and July saw the publication of Part 2 of their list:

The Roll of Honour for The Parish of Wargrave

Luker, Ernest, VIII Hussars
F Mance, Robert. Army Services Corps.
F Milford, John. R.F.A.
F Morse, George. Royal Berks Regt.
F Nicholl, Charles. Major. Oxfordshire Hussars.
Nicholl, Kenneth. Capt. Welsh Fusiliers
F Nicholls, Albert. Royal Berks Regt
Noble, Eric Heatley. 2nd Lieut. Grenadier Guards
Noble, Norris Heatley. 2nd Lieut. Kings Royal Rifles
F Ogbourne, Harry. 1st Life Guards.
F Over, Reginald. Lce-Corp. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Parritt, William John. Lce-Corp R.E.
Paget, Colin. Wiltshire Territorials
F Perry, George Edwin. Scotch Greys
Piggott, George. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Pithers, James. VIII Royal Berks Regt
Plested, Herbert. Royal Berks Regt
Plested, Albert. Royal Berks Regt
Plowman, Thomas Austen. Berks Yeomanry
Porter, Albert E. Army Service Corps
F Pugh, Ernest. Royal Berks Regt
Rhodes, John Edward. Lt-Col. Princess Beatrice’s Isle of Wight Rifles
Rhodes, Wilfred. Major. Provost Marshal on Staff
F Rhodes, Victor. Capt. Late Sherwood Foresters
Remnant, John. Lieut. Royal Berks Regt
Rayner, John. 2nd Lieut. Royal Berks Regt
Reid, George William. Royal Berks Regt
Richardson, Fred. Berks Yeomanry
Rideout, Henry Randall. Expeditionary Force’s Canteen
Rixon, Charles. Royal Berks Regt
F Rixon, Walter. Royal Berks Regt
Rufey, William. Royal Berks Regt
F Shepherd, Henry. Capt. IX C of London Regt
F Schuster, Leonard Francis. Lieut. 3rd County of London Yeomanry
Sinclair, Gerald John. 2nd Lieut. Black Watch
Sanson, Gordon Ralph. Hon. Artillery Co.
F Sharp, Ernest Gladstine. VIII Dragoon Guards
Sharp, Samuel. Lee-Corp. Welsh Fusiliers
F Sharp, William. Army Service Corps
Shaw, George. Royal Berks Regt
F Shersby, Edward. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Sherwood, Fred. Royal Berks Regt
Silver, Frank. Army Services Corps
Silver, Harry. R.F.A.
F Silvey, Stephen. R.A.M.C.
Slatter, T. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Slattery, Udolph Wolfe. 2nd Lieut. IX West Kent Regt
Smith, George Frederick. Veterinary Corps
Stanbridge, Albert. Irish Fusiliers
F Stone, Samuel Philip. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
F Swanborough, Alfred. Army Services Corps
F Symons-Jeune, Bertram. Lieut. Army Service Corps
Talbot, Arthur. Corpl. IInd Royal Berks Regt
F Talbot, Anthony George. XCIIth Lancers
F Talbot, Albert. Army Services Corps
Tigwell, Monty. Royal Berks Regt
F Watson, Burton. Major. 107th Pioneers, Indian Army
F Watson, Cyril. Captain. Middlesex Husaars
Walsh, Gordon Herbert. Lieut. Royal Sussex Regt
Wakefield, Caleb. Ox and Bucks Light Infy
Wakefield, Cecil. Royal Berks Regt
F Warby, Albert H. XIIth Lancers
F Webb, George. Rifle Brigade
Weller, David. R.F.A.
Woodruff, Charles Herbert. Xth Regt Cavelry

Warren Row In the Parish of Knowl Hill

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