“The War still continues, would that it were not so”

Several Newbury men had been reported killed, but those left behind were still keen to support the troops.

The War still continues, would that it were not so. We have suffered several losses lately among the young men in the parish: William James Quinton, of the Gloucester Regiment; Albert James Geater, Royal Berks Regiment; Arthur William Stevens, 1st Devons; Albert Corderoy, Hants Regiment, all killed in France; and William Aldridge, 1st class petty officer, RN, who went down in HMS mine-sweeper Begonia. We offer our sincerest sympathy to the relatives of these brave young men, whom we can ill afford to lose, and we thank God for the example which they have set us.

Harold Hughes, youngest son of Mrs Hughes, of 6, Berkeley Road, has lost a leg in France, and we trust that he will make a good recovery.
We are glad to see Dr Heywood back again in Newbury, after the valuable work which he has been doing at the seat of War.

The Soldiers’ Club at the old “King’s Arms” in the Market Place, has only been used lately very occasionally, because there have been no troops billeted in the town, but we hear that there is the likelihood of 1000 men of the Royal Flying Corps coming to Newbury, and if this does take place we hope to open the Club again, and shall be glad of offers of personal assistance and of subscriptions. The Club, when it was held in other premises, proved a great boon to the men, who thoroughly appreciated the kindness and attention of the ladies who managed it, and gave up so much of their time to it.

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P89/28A/13)

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Straw and gunfire: Communion in a crowded barn

The Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine is filled with references to the war, some clearly taken from elsewhere – such as the story of a martial Midlands clergyman moonlighting in a munitions factory. In September 1915 they included a moving depiction of religious worship at the Front.

A Bishop’s Loss.
Much sympathy is felt for the Bishop of Winchester and the Hon. Mrs Talbot on account of the death of their youngest son, Lieutenant Gilbert Talbot, who was killed in action while leading his men. A brilliant career had been predicted for the young officer, who was a man of exceptional ability and promise.

Holy Communion on the Battlefield.

A chaplain at the Front gives the following description of his work:

All the services were very inspiring. The work and experiences which the men had so bravely undergone but a day or two before impressed them with the all-availing power of the Christian religion…

My first service was a celebration of Holy Communion. And how uplifting it was! There, in a barn, with the door littered with straw which had served as a mattress for the men who had occupied it during the night, and with men’s equipment and rifles so placed as to be ready for immediate use in case of alarm – The Holy Mysteries were celebrated with the utmost reverence, though the quietness of the morning hour was broken by the thrilling sound of gunfire. It was a weird accompaniment to Christian worship. Ration boxes covered with a fair linen cloth served as the Table of the Lord.

The barn was crowded to overflowing, and some, unfortunately, could not gain admission. Commanding officers, with majors and adjutants, knelt side by side with the last joined soldiers. Here, indeed, was that religious atmosphere which arises from sincere devotion in prayer and praise. This was specially to be noticed when we came to the beautiful words in the prayer for the Church Militant – ‘And we also bless Thy Holy Name for all Thy Servants departed this life in Thy faith and fear…’ And then they whispered ‘Amen.’ You know of whom we are thinking, the brave ones known to us so well, who were unflinching to the end at the call of duty. Words fail – indeed, they are unnecessary – but you will understand.

The Bishop of Oxford and the War.

Dealing with the subject of the Church and the War, Dr. Gore says:

We believe that we are fighting for liberty and justice and fidelity to obligations and the rights of smaller nations, and that Germany is using its matchless intellect and power of organization to trample on these sacred things. None the less, in expressing this our confident conviction we must be careful not to use language which sounds self-righteous. There is a history behind us, and our own history is very far from being immaculate. If we wish to say that we are fighting against Antichrist, we must always show that we recognize how very much that is antichristian there is in us – in our politics, in our industrial, social and religious life. Self-righteousness becomes us very ill. Something more like national penitence is what we want, and we are not, I fear, showing anything like national penitence on a wide scale.

Clergymen as War Workers.

Writing in his Parish Magazine, the Rector of Quinton explains that his assistant-curate and himself are each devoting three days and three nights every week to making shells. Their action has the warm approval of the Bishop of Birmingham, and any money they earn after the cost of overalls, etc., has been deducted, will be devoted to the Assistant-Clergy fund.

The Bishop of Khartoum for the Front.

The War Office has issued an announcement that in view of the large number of Church of England chaplains now serving with the troops under Sir John French’s command, and of the increases which are in course of being made to the British Forces in France, the Bishop of Khartoum has been appointed to represent the Chaplain-General at the Front, and to be his deputy there for all purposes connected with the Church of England chaplains and Church of England troops.

The Rt. Rev. Llewellyn Henry Gwynne, who has been chosen for this responsible post, was at Khartoum in 1901 and acted as chaplain to the troops when the British forces recovered the Soudan [sic], and was subsequently appointed Archdeacon and then Bishop in that region with the formal title “Suffragan-Bishop in Khartoum.” He has visited the Front in France and Flanders during the present war and has therefore some experience of the conditions in which his future work, for a very restricted period let us hope, will lie.

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