The conflagration may spread with no governments left to reconstruct the world

Lady Mary Glyn anticipated the Communist Revolution which would take place as Germany collapsed at the end of the war.

30 Half Moon St
London W
Oct 19 1918
My own darling

Railway facilities all much altered by the war….

John is to go for 3 months to GHQ on Wednesday on staff of General Ruggles Brise. Maysie will try to get small house or flat in London & stay near us & help our house hunt.

Your letter today – very interesting, and I find my views are not at all yours! And that you think Wilson has made disastrous mistakes, but I cannot help seeing the danger lies in another Bolshevist rising in Germany? And that the conflagration may spread with no governments left to reconstruct the world if we do not give a chance to the right people to make an enduring peace when the Armies judge the right moment has come?

It is evident that a long fight is ahead of us if the Hun saves the 195 Divisions, and has these and the navy to bargain with? And much is going on we can know nothing of; I have a faith that while soldiers must decide on the terms of Armistice, the statesmen (if we believe there are any left) must deal with the civilian element in all nations, and it is to these people that the decision will be given as to the form democratic government will take?

Meantime it seems to me to be the most solemn time when tremendous issues are at stake and that no human power can hold and keep the mind of man in place but the Divine Power, and in our recognition of what we call for want of a better – the “personal” Rule of that God in whose image we are all made. So it is a time for faith, & a glorious venture of faith. The demonstration has come – the vindication of the Righteousness for which we have ventured everything – that we should not mar and deface this glorious revealing through any passion for vengeance now which is not the avenging of divine justice is the paramount need, and I should trust Foch even more than Clemenceau? Clemenceau is said to be a man of no faith? It would be our undoing now not to be guided by men who believe in the powers of the world to come. We hold the lantern in our hands of a light that is not our own. We have to see that lantern is not darkened.

The world we know is full of private & individual sorrow, poor Norman Lang has lost his wife with this dread influenza…

My darling – how wonderful it would be if we were to have our Christmas together…

Own Mur


Lady Mary Glyn to her son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/5)

Advertisements

“They do not care for anyone here or for their blasted Hunnish masters!!”

The Governor of Reading Prison was finding the Irish internees difficult to deal with.

13 October 1918

I shall be glad of the advice of the Commissioners regarding the Sinn Fein prisoners.

These now number 17, and are a pretty objectionable set, different in many ways from those I had in 1916, and comprise the leaders of hunger strikes and smashers up in other prisons.

Their conduct is most offensive, in some cases, and the leaders are Ginnell, MP, McDonagh, Cahill, Thornton – though some of the others are nearly as bad.

When visited by the Visiting Committee member, Ginnell called him a “blasted Hun”, and fortunately the Member took it as the raving of an illmannered man & simply told him that he was not now in the House of Commons. At the same time this sort of thing cannot go on and their behaviour is abusive and contemptuous [sic]. I am quite prepared to enforce discipline and to separate & punish a man who behaves in such a manner, but as they have openly said that 17 men will raise all the trouble they can, & will probably go on hunger strike or smash up, I think it well to refer the matter to the Commissioners before taking action, and to know if I have their support.

My Warders complain of them, and I wish to stop it at once. They refuse to petition for things they want and say they do not care for anyone here or for their blasted Hunnish masters!! This sort of thing cannot go on. It’s just beginning now but the first man punished will begin the [illegible].

The man who is most offensive is L. Ginnell, but his reputation is doubtlessly known to the Commissioners without any comment of mine.

He must either be taken seriously or ignored – I prefer the latter and act on it, but am not at all sure that the Visiting Committee will stand his remarks when they visit him. He has collected a few men round him – Cahill, Thornton – much like himself.

I will see how things go on.

With reference to prisoners interned elsewhere I would refer the Commissioners to their instructions to me when the Irish came – that the men sent to Reading were largely composed of men who had mutinied elsewhere and that they anticipated trouble from them.

Of men elsewhere interned, some 40 were previously here and with the exception of 4 or 5 gave little trouble, preferring to pose as martyrs.

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

We can trust our brave soldiers absolutely and entirely

The vicar of Reading St Mary encouraged parishioners to pray for all involved in the war.

The Vicar’s Notes

We are now in the thick of the most terrific struggle in the history of the world. We can trust our brave soldiers absolutely and entirely; they are fighting with a magnificent spirit and courage that is the wonder and admiration of all. The point is that they should be able to trust us, the civilian population; a great deal of the issue of this battle depends on the moral and spiritual backbone of those who are here at home. We ought at this critical time to make our prayers a deeper and greater reality and so I am putting in front of our magazine this month some simple heads of intercession.

Let us pray for:
Our King, and all our leaders at home and at the front.
Our fighting men and those of our allies.
The wounded and the prisoners.
The fallen.
The doctors, nurses, stretcher-bearers, the chaplains, on or near the field of battle.
The people at home that may be steadfast and true.
For final victory and after victory, lasting peace.

S. Mary’s Church is open each day till 9 o’clock in the evening so as to give opportunities of quiet prayer and intercession in this time of need.

S. Saviour’s District
R.I.P.

It is with great sorrow that we have heard of the death of George Courtnell, our late esteemed Verger, and our hearty sympathy is with Mrs. Courtnell in her sad bereavement. He died in the Canadian hospital at Doullens, having been brought there with many other wounded at the beginning of the recent big battle in France, and was buried with military honours near there. He died as he had lived, trying to do his duty. He was a faithful servant of Christ, and a loyal worker and helper at S. Saviour’s.

Our deep sympathy is also with Mrs. Lane, who has for the second time been called to make the sacrifice of a son, Henry Paice having been recently killed in France. He leaves a widow and children, to whom also, as to his mother, we offer our sincere condolence.

S. Mark’s District
R.I.P.

It is with sincere regret that we have to record the death of George Martin, one of our old S. Mark’s choir boys. He met with a very serious accident some six months ago, while engaged in the service of his country, from which he never recovered and passed away in the Royal Berkshire Hospital on April the 8th. He was most wonderfully patient and cheerful through all his illness. We offer his parents and sisters our sincere sympathy.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P98/28A/13)

Offensive may begin soon

Press baron Lord Rothermere had been a controversial chairman of the Air Council.

25 April 1918
Motored to Reading for Commandandants meeting….

Fear offensive beginning.

Lord Rothermere resigns.

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

Internees “are as tricky as monkeys and use any means to try to gain their ends”

Reading Prison officials got into hot water when they accidentally stopped an MP from communicating with an internee. Fred Jowett (1864-1944) was a Labour MP who was opposed to the war.

Letter & enclosure withdrawn & issued.

It was not known that Mr Jowett was an MP but the letter appeared peculiar & attention was drawn. It was only when this letter was received that it was considered that Mr Jowett might be an MP & reference to Whitaker’s Almanac confirmed it & the Commissioners were told.

No man is allowed to communicate with an MP if it is known – these men are as tricky as monkeys and use any means to try to gain their ends.

C M Morgan
Gov

14-4-18

Enclosing:
April 11th 1918

G Stichl
S of S Order 20.8.16 Internment

Special attention is drawn to this letter.

On 8.10.17 a letter addressed to Mr Jowett was submitted to the Commissioners, special attention being drawn. It was passed and posted by them 11.10.17.

On 17.10.17 an answer to this letter arrived from Mr Jowett. It was submitted to the Commissioners same day and retained by them.
On 3.4.18 a letter addressed to Mr Jowett by Stichl was submitted to the Commissioners and posted by them 4.4.18. The letter now submitted appears to be the answer to this last letter.

C M Morgan
Gov

I am informed that Mr Jowett is a Member of Parliament.

[in new hand:]
The letter may be given to Jowett, but any attempt to write Mr Jowett again should be specially brought to the notice of the Commissioners or to any MP. The letter of 3-4-18 was passed on the fact that he was MP was not recognised. The one passed of 8-10-17 was allowed as a special case, through a misunderstanding.
JW 13-4-18

Reading Prison [Place of Internment] letter book (P/RP1/8/2/1)

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

The Bishop of Oxford had special instructions for the Day of National Prayer.

THE BISHOP’S MESSAGE

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

Your prayers are specially asked:

That the nation as a whole may respond to the King’s summons to prayer on Jan. 6th.
For this nation and for our Allies, especially for Italy, Russia, Serbia and Roumania, and for Ireland.
For victory and peace.
For the munition worked, especially in our diocese.
For the wounded soldiers.
For those whom we have sent to minister to our troops in soul and body….

THE DAY OF NATIONAL PRAYER (JAN. 6)

I could have wished that the last Sunday of the year could have been appointed and not the Festival of the Epiphany. But Jan. 6 is appointed, and we must respond zealously to the King’s summons. Of course the proper Service of Epiphany must be retained, but

(i) At the Holy Communion, the collect, O God, the Ruler of all kings and people, should be said before the Blessing, and at the offertory the people should be bidden to pray according to the needs of the time for the nation and its allies with some fulness [sic].

(ii) In the Litany I sanction (for this special occasion) the substitution for the words ‘the Lords of the Council and all the nobility’, the words ‘the prime minister, the other ministers of the Crown, and all who hold command in the King’s forces’, and after the versicle ‘that it may please thee to bless and keep all thy people’, the additional versicles, ‘that it may please thee to enlighten the understanding and to fortify the courage of our whole nation and Empire’, and ‘that it may please thee to grant thy blessing to all our allies and to defend and restore their lands’. (This change and these added versicles might be printed on slips for the congregation or notified before the beginning of the Litany.)

(iii) The sermons should bring out the idea of the Epiphany as the manifestation of God among all nations, show how deeply we stand in need of such a manifestation today, and impress upon the people that 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 preparation for the kingdom of Christ, for which our most earnest and constant prayers are needed. The King’s proclamation should also be read. (It was in the newspapers on Nov. 8th.)

(iv) I would suggest that if there is a celebration of Holy Communion at 11, it be preceded by the Litany with the special versicles; and if the service at 11 is commonly morning prayer, that on this occasion (morning prayer having been already said in full at an earlier hour) there should be a special service which might run thus:

Hymn – Hail to the Lord’s Anointed.
Sermon to guide the thoughts and prayers of the day.
The Litany as above.
(Before the prayer of St Chrysostom) Psalms 46 and 72
A lesson, Isaiah xi to verse 11.

The parish roll of men serving their country should be read, and additional intercessions (such as are not included in the Litany) offered with spaces for silent prayer. One or two other hymns might be interspersed, and the concluding prayers of the Litany said.

(v) Evensong might be said up to the third collect (Psalms 46 and 72), followed by a sermon and special intercessions. Of suggestions for intercessions we have a sufficient store.

If a special form of prayer is issued with the authority of the Archbishops for the whole country, it is sanctioned for use in the diocese, and will modify the above directions.

C. OXON

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

The war will be followed by a revolution

A soldier home on leave envisaged potential revolution after the war.

THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION

No very penetrating observation of the signs of the times is necessary to discover that in all probability the war will be followed in England by disturbances which may amount to a revolution. If many people are unaware of the urgency of this peril it is because the greater part of labour is still inarticulate and because, in response to the demand for an appearance of unity at all costs, labour is at present willing to wait till the war should be ended before it makes its demands known.

Many factors will combine to precipitate the crisis. The days before the war were full of a growing industrial unrest on the one hand, and the example of threatened civil war on the other. The Irish rebellion, the growth of Sinn Fein, and, above all, the Russian Revolution, have had influences greater almost than can be imagined. Sources of irritation and distrust are to be found in the conduct of the war itself. Finally, the end of the war will leave society in a state of flux in which all who were discontented with the old state of things will see a condition propitious for change. And they will have learned the use of bayonets ….

It will always be surprising to some people that any radical change should be thought desirable in “free England”; still more so that a revolution should be deemed necessary to bring it about. But they forget that political freedom, even when it exists, does not imply an economic equivalent. They hardly realise that millions of the men and women of “free England” are condemned by our economic system to spend their lives in joyless drudgery for a wage which hardly permits mere physical efficieny. Such conditions are strangulation to the spiritual in man; and the very danger lies in this. It is not ideals that make revolutions; it is empty stomachs and empty souls, and hunger may desperately clutch the wrong things and content itself with the purely material.

What remedy, then, can we offer? The placid politicians who propose mere goodwill can have no idea of the acuteness of the situation.

Russell Brain

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“A great want of confidence in Politicians, the War Office and the judgments of Tribunals”

Members of Reading’s Dodeka Club discussed the thorny question of conscription. The evening’s host was considering whether it was time for him to join up voluntarily.

The 282nd meeting of the club was held at Goodenough’s on March 2nd, 1917.

… Gibbons introduced a friend, Lt de Villiers…

…After refreshments the host suggested as a commencement for discussion the question of “National Service”, and pointed out that he personally was requiring advice as to the advisability of volunteering. The experience gained after the Military Service Act and the Derby Scheme gave one a great want of confidence in Politicians, the War Office and the judgments of Tribunals. The host feeling great doubt in his mind as to whether justice would be done to the great body of business men in the country.

Penfold started the ball rolling in the discussion, by asking if members were liable to prosecution under the Defence of the Realm Regulations, should any decision be arrived at, a military representative being present. Some discussion then took place regarding the action of Tribunals, the necessity or otherwise of National Service, compulsion and reduction of the number of shopkeepers. A very pleasant evening was concluded with some submarine stories of a rather fishy nature and a pun relating to Bagged Dads by Gibbons.

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

Joy as Prime Minister resigns

Florence Vansittart Neale had not been a fan of PM Herbert Asquith, so she was delighted when he resigned. Conservative leader Andrew Bonar Law, who was in coalition with the Liberals in the interests of national unity during the war, let Liberal rival David Lloyd George take over.

6 December 1916
Asquith resigned! Joy!! Bonar Law sent for, he cannot do it. Lloyd George gone to King. Firmer war policy.

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

Guns as thick as blackberries in September

Army chaplain T Guy Rogers reported his latest experiences to his old friends in Reading.

LETTER FROM T. GUY ROGERS.

August 15th, 1916.
My Dear Friends,

I wish I could give you some idea of all the wonderful sights one see on the march. It is true one only sees under difficulties. Great clouds of dust half blind and choke us as we go. The blazing sun makes even the hardiest warrior droop his head a little as we traverse the rolling hills. Sometimes we become too preoccupied with mopping our faces to do any justice to the landscape. But when the ten minutes’ halt comes- ten minutes to the hour – when ranks are broken, and we lie down on the bank, or in the ditch, or on the heap of stones by the road, we find ourselves in more observant mood. Perhaps we have halted near some bivouacs and see hundreds of naked forms bathing in some tiny stream which would have been utterly despised in days of peace. The British soldier is not proud like Naaman! If he cannot find Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, he is content with any trickling or shallow Jordan which come his way.

Perhaps we have halted near some batteries and admire the cleverness with which they have been screened from aeroplane observation. The whole country is stiff with guns. Though there may be good reason to smile at some statements made by politicians, believe all that you hear about the guns. They are as thick as ‘leaves in Vallombrosa’ or blackberries in September. Whole batteries of – spring up like mushrooms in a night; our old eighteen pounders are, like silver in the days of the great King Solomon, ‘nothing accounted of’ for their number.

I wish too, I could repeat for you some of the stories I have heard of the tremendous fighting of the last six weeks. All honour to the armies we call by the name of the great Kitchener. To-day I hear of a boy under age for military service, who, with a handful of men, has held a position for three days against German attacks, when the rest of their Company was killed. The deeds of heroism are without number. Alas we say for those who have fallen. Such sad news comes to me from home of our brave fellows from S. John’s who have laid down their lives in the great advance. But our last word must not be ‘Alas.’ I like that custom of the French Government which consists in congratulating as well as commiserating with the relatives of the fallen. And even though from constant reiteration those fine phrases ‘The Last Debt,’ ‘The Supreme Sacrifice’ may have lost something of their pristine glory, the simple testimony still remains, ‘Greater love hath no man than this- that a man lay down his life for his friend.’

My own life is full of the kaleidoscopic changes of an army in motion. This evening I am in a chateau with ample grounds. I lunched (is the word permissible?) to the roar of a 9-inch gun. Last night I slept in a cellar, full of empty wine bottles, and most inconveniently damp; another night a little farther back in a dug-out in the front line, after burying some poor bodies lying out upon a recent battlefield.

Nearly all my services of late have been in the open air. I can recall so many which could not but touch the least sentimental, and which leave behind unforgettable memories – memories of men kneeling on the slopes of a hillside in the early morning to receive the sacrament, memories of services held between long aisles of waving pines, and on the tops of downs swept by the evening breeze.
Amidst all the sadness – and there is much – when friends (and one has so many now) are struck down by shot or shell, there is an uplifting sense of God’s presence, and we can feel it even in the valley of the shadow. And even if called upon to face sterner ordeals in the immediate future, ‘out of the depths’ shall we still praise our God.

Your sincere friend,

T. GUY ROGERS.

Reading St. John parish magazine, September 1916 (D/P172/28A/24)

The war will bring about theocracy

Lady Mary Glyn wrote a long letter to Ralph. She had strong, if eccentric, views about politics, and was almost as shocked by Australian soldiers’ democratic nature as she was by the Easter Rising.

April 26 1916
Peter[borough]

My darling own blessed Scraps

Easter Day makes me long for you, but all days make me long for you….

I distinguished myself at Windsor by getting bad with indigestion, but it was good to be with John & Maysie, & see them so happy in another Windsor spell of work, and yet being together. He heard when we were there that another operation will not be necessary, but as his Medical Board gave him 3 months they have taken a very good house, “Essex Lodge”, the present house being required by the owner, and this is a much better one with a garden & tennis ground. John is of course very busy, and up early, & at work till late. He looks well, and is in good spirits, evidently liking his work. We saw Cecily Hardy & her Giant, and Tony & Sylvia, & a new Coldstream acquisition – a very Highland McGregor who till lately was engineering in India – quite a new type in the Brigade!

The Political Crisis made those days full of excitement, but none of these soldier people seemed to care, or to look at the papers, and were sure the King would come whatever happened. And he did, but the Crisis was supposed to be over, and the Cabinet once more firmly (?) in the saddle of Compromise. Now the Secret Session, and the result whatever it may be of that settlement is to be made known to so many talkers & plotters and schemers that it will be impossible for all the cats to be in the bag long. Meantime there is a shaken confidence, a longing for a leader other than we have, for this strange growth of freedom to know its limitation, and to recognise its own dependence on laws not made by man, but inflexible because “just and true”, and belonging to the Kingdom that will endure throughout all ages. When we really will, that will come, and its obedience, and we shall learn what freedom is. It does not lie with Democracy, or in Kaiser rule, or in a Republic, but it does in a Theocracy – and my belief is that it is to be restored through this War and “tumult of the nations”….

France is surely ahead of us in the spirit of a new vision, & Russia is invincible because of that vision long accepted – and we wait for it, and you all are bringing it nearer.

(more…)

‘My eye, they do seem bitter about Gallipoli’

Lady Mary Glyn and her daughter Meg Meade both wrote to Meg’s brother Ralph. Lady Mary was staying with her other daughter Maysie Wynne-Finch in Windsor, while Meg was in Portsmouth caring for a sick friend’s children, and mixing with senior naval figures.

Elgin Lodge
Windsor
April 19 1916

The Cabinet Crisis is a real one & may bring about great events, but Asquith … seems to be able to keep together the Coalition at all hazards.

Trebizond is the good news of today’s paper. Well, the French are teaching is what it is to “hold”, and it is my belief we are to hold for the Kingdom that will surely come and we are all to think of the Christ as St John saw him… and He will make no mistake and order no sacrifice that is unavailing – the only leaders now are those who are “joyful as those that march to music, sober as those that must company with Christ” and we see them at all the fronts, but not yet among those who have made of statecraft a craft for self and for selfish ends. It is lamentable how few there are who are trusted & who can “hold” now for the Kingdom of that Lord & His Christ you soldiers know and obey. And yet I cannot believe that a country is ready to win the war so long as there is no real love and faith in God or man as a nation through its representatives. And our power will crumble if we give way to a carping spirit of criticism, and sometimes in perfect despair I find myself trying to believe in AJB and Walter Long, Bonar Law & those in whom the “Party” have consented before the Coalition. But as you know I have never had much belief in AJB’s power to impart a conviction which is founded on the rubble of the failure to find an absolute conviction….

Your own Mur
(more…)

Compulsion and martial law would be the work of a strong man at the top

Lady Mary Glyn shared her views on the political crisis at home.

April 18 1916

I took .. a huge consignment of work from the Red Cross Room to 48 Grosvenor Square, but Lord Gosford no longer demands inspection there, & I took them on to 83. Then picked Dad up at 23 & came on to Paddington, to see the [illegible – affiches?] of the setback of Tigris Force is bad & the Cabinet Crisis & Asquith postponing his statement. I wonder if it is to be the downfall of the Cabinet after all, & Lloyd George to be Prime Minister sooner than we think. Anything is possible in this glacier on the move and a morain cavernous opening out from this Recruiting muddle.

Compulsion & Martial law would surely be the work of a strong man for both must go together. It is inequality & sense of injustice that brings the strain.

I had a talk with Meg on the telephone, & her beloved Admiral came & talked…

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn to her son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/4)

We live in anxiety

HRH Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, confided her thoughts on the political situation in her late husband’s nephew Ralph Glyn:

April 14th/16
Kensington Palace

My dear Ralph

It was very nice of you remembering my birthday, & sending me a nice letter…

The anxiety we live in for what is going on is great as you can fancy, home politics terrible. Excepting the WO, it is, I hear from soldiers, improving under & working with KK [Lord Kitchener] are two of our very best men, & things seem to be on a more settled ground from all accounts. This is a great thing.

The Australian Prime Minister is a splendid man, very fearless & very strong & not quite liked by some on account of that but he is a very highly strung man & feels [accused?], therefore he broke down after making so many splendid speeches – sorry enough end…

Yours affectionately

L

Letter from Princess Louise to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C15/4)

“England is worth dying for” – and Winston Churchill is the devil on earth

Meg Meade let her brother Ralph know the details of the last moments of their cousin Ivar Campbell, together with news of various friends and relations – plus her very unflattering views of Winston Churchill. Ralph had political ambitions, and subsequently became a Conservative MP. The controversial Noel Pemberton Billing, mentioned here, had just won a by-election standing as an Independent, but his political career (perhaps fortunately) lasted only a few years.

March 16th [1916]
Peter[borough]

My darling Ralph

I hear Wisp is coming to London as he has six weeks leave, lucky thing, but the reason is he has had such a bad dose of flu he has lost a stone! Jim says lots of them have had it in the north. If it produced leave on that scale, & Jim doesn’t catch it, I shall have to send him a bottled germ of it!

I posted my last letter to you from London when I went up to see Arthur. He was looking very well indeed, he says the English soldiers have invented a sort of pidgeon French which is now used by the French soldiers to make themselves understood by the English & vice versa, & it’s frightfully difficult to understand. One day Arthur came out & found his servant looking up into his horse’s face & saying “Comprennie? Comprennie?” He said Frenchwomen always come to him about every conceivable thing, even to if they are going to have a baby, & one had highstrikes [sic] in his office the other day.

I hear that Bertie is convalescent on crutches now & they are trying to prevent his being sent home to England on account of his health.

Poor old Mrs Hopkinson came in here today, broken hearted; for Pen’s husband, Colonel Graeme, was killed in France last Friday behind the lines by a stray shell. Killed outright mercifully. But oh dear, how sad one is at these ceaseless sorrows, and all the broken hearted people all round one. “But England is worth dying for” as Noel Skelton wrote to Aunt Syb about Ivar. I dined with Aunt Syb the night I was in London. She is so wonderful, so is Joan, but it has told hard on both of them. Aunt S has aged & Joan carries the mark in her face too…

(more…)