“His soldiering days are probably over”

With six of their seven sons having joined the army, the Spencers of Cookham had a lot to worry about.

Will Spencer
30 September 1918

By the afternoon post a letter of Sept. 11 from father. They have had news from Stanley. They are not allowed to know Gilbert’s present whereabouts. Sydney has gone back to the front. Harold leading an orchestra (in Plymouth, Father believes). Horace is better, but Father thinks his soldiering days are probably over.

Florence Vansittart Neale
30 September 1918

We reached Cambrai. 2nd Army with Belgians got Dixmade.

Diaries of Will Spencer in Switzerland (D/EX801/28); and Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/8)

News from a hospital

Florence Vansittart Neale recorded the loss of another family friend.

23 April 1918
Heard Will Howard had died on Saturday – heart at the end – in Plymouth Hospital.

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

‘Abide with me’ sung by a large number of men in a cave, with the shells rattling overhead.

The Maidenhead parish magazine had a number of reports relating to the religious effects of the war.

Prebendary Carlile at the Front.

Prebendary Carlile, who has recently returned from a visit to France, where his special mission was to inspect the work of the Church Army near the Front, paid a high tribute to the devoted women who are working with the Royal Army Medical Corps and British Red Cross, and also to the clerical chauffeurs who are driving some of the Church Army ambulance cars. The tenderness and care of the wounded which they display came, he said, as a revelation to him. The same spirit of self-sacrifice for others was seen in the Church Army rest-huts and clubs. Before his return Dr. Carlile had the perhaps unique experience of standing between the Bishop of Birmingham and a Russian bishop and grasping a hand of each. This he hopes may be a symbol of the new knowledge and sympathy which has been aroused between the two countries and Churches.

The Sacrament in a “Dug-out.”

The parish magazine of St. Andrew’s, Plymouth, contains an interesting letter from the Rev. R. H. Fulford, who is acting as 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.”

Church Training Colleges and the War.

The recently issued Report of the National Society contained some striking figures with regard to the part played in the War by the Training Colleges of the Church of England. From these figures it would appear that there are some three thousand past and present students and members of the staffs of eleven Training Colleges serving with the Colours, of whom some 250 hold commissions. Even more striking, however, is the number of students who were called out on the mobilisation of the Territorial Force. These numbered over 800, and would doubles have exceeded 1,000 but for the fact that in the case of two Colleges difficulties arose when the old Volunteers were disbanded and the new Territorial Force was created.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, November 1915 (D/P181/28A/24)

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)