Sick at the thought of how we are being let down at Versailles today!

John Maxwell Image was not optimistic about the future. His wounded brother in law was our friend Percy Spencer.

29 Barton Road
7 May ‘19

My dearest old man

Florence … wants to see her wounded brother who is still at St Thomas’s Hospital, poor fellow.

I feel sick at the thought of how we are being let down at Versailles today! Especially at the ingratitude of Belgium, and of Italy – the latter I have heard vigorously defended here. But Belgium!

And the Agitators in Britain!

And Shinn [sic] Fein impudence!

What a future lies before every one in England except the moneygrubber and the Profiteer and their lickspittles.


Tuissimus
Bild

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

The national unity which the war brought into being is dissolving again into fragments

The post-war world terrified many.

LENT, 1919.

Lent find us this year in the midst of an after-war reaction. The national unity which the war brought into being is dissolving again into fragments, and the national seriousness which deepened as the war dragged on seems to be giving way to an almost hectic frivolity. We are threatened again with the class war, we are living once again for pleasure or for merely selfish ends. Outside the borders of our own land the situation is far worse. The conditions in Russia, and to a less extent in Germany, put one in mind of a striking phrase in the Apocalypse, ‘The Devil is come down into the Earth, having great wrath, for his time is short.’ Evil unmitigated and unabashed seems actually to occupy the seat of power in Russia, and is seeking to extend its sway over all the world. In such days as these it is imperatively necessary that the Church, the Organ of God the Holy Spirit, should put itself on a war footing and organise itself for defensive and aggressive warfare. The powers of evil are gathering force and the Kingdom of Good may stand ever against the Kingdom of Evil in clearer definition, in intensified goodness and in energetic action.

Reading St. John parish magazine, March 1919 (D/P172/28A/24)

Pray for co-operation and the spirit of unity among all classes

There were still problems to face.

YOUR PRAYERS ARE ASKED –

For the Peace Conference and all its members.

For all our men serving at home and abroad.

For the Chaplains to the Forces.

For a peaceful solution to all Industrial Problems.

For co-operation and the spirit of unity among all classes.

Newbury St Nicolas parish magazine, February 1919 (D/P89/28A/14)

The baneful influence of Bolshevism

Post-war Europe was threatened by the spread of revolution.

The Peace Conference now sitting and deliberating in Paris is the supreme object of our interest and our Prayers. The present disturbed state of Europe makes it imperative that the Conference should agree as soon as possible in its resolutions and in the action to be taken by the Allied Countries for the suppression of Bolshevism, and the liberation of Russia and Poland from its baneful influence. A multitude of difficult problems has to be solved by the Conference. We must pray that its Unity may not be impaired by any purely selfish ambitions on the part of any of various nations taking part in it, but that Peace based upon Justice to all, may continue to be its high ideal. Let us pray that man’s wisdom may be over ruled by that wisdom from on high which is “first pure, and then peaceable.”

Clewer parish magazine, February 1919 (D/P39/28A/9)

There is an ugly temper brewing in some quarters, and if things show no signs of mending, there will be trouble

Peacetime offered new challenges for the country, especially with a newly democratic parliament.

THE NEW YEAR.

The old wish, “A Happy New Year,” seems out of place just now. There is too much strenuous work to be done, there are too many calls upon our best manhood and womanhood for any of us to be looking round for mere happiness. Happiness is for future years, when the social fabric of the nations has been put together again, and there is rest. In the new year we are expecting great things from the Parliament, which is charged with a duty weighty and solemn beyond all precedent. Too much in the past our statesmen have forgotten God and His righteousness in the fashioning of laws. If we want a strong nation, we must get it established upon the foundations of eternal justice and love. We have got to make our nation really Christian, for only in that way can it endure. The most cleverly constructed constitution in the world will rot and go to pieces if it be not in harmony with the teaching of the Gospels. On Christ, the solid rock, it must stand, all other ground is sinking sand. What an opportunity the country has to-day! Now is our chance to uplift the nation and the world into Christian ideals! Let us batter the gates of heaven with storms of prayer for it.

We are all hoping, too, for a higher level of social life in our country, that life may be made more tolerable for all classes. We must do something towards getting money dethroned, towards rooting out that vulgar error that wealth means money. True wealth is life and happiness and peace, work to do and love to bestow. Wealth means quality of life. It is to have capacity for noble joy and noble sorrow, it is to have a passion for love and beauty and truth. The vulgar craving for money, the race for wealth, has brought about the thrusting down of the poor and the workers, and conditions in our towns and villages that will not be longer tolerated. There is an ugly temper brewing in some quarters, and if things show no signs of mending, there will be trouble.

The solution of all our problems is in making Christ the actual reigning King of life, national and personal. The Prime Minister spoke recently of a wave of materialism which he said always followed great wars. Was he right in saying “always?” When England had been saved from a great danger by the destruction of the Spanish Armada in 1588, was there not a sense of gratitude to God, and a great revival of religion? And was there not a similar revival at the close of the Napoleonic wars? If we Christians will put our hearts into it, with prayer and consecration, we can make much for Christ of this great opportunity. If we will fight unbelief and materialism, if we will wage warfare for the Kingdom of Christ, as our men fought on the banks of the Yser, and in the Valley of the Somme, our national life will be purer, and Christ will find place in many hearts.

So let us not wish each other this time “A Happy New Year,” but a guided and a useful and a blessed New Year.

T.F. LEWIS.

Maidenhead Congregational magazine, January 1919 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Working to be repatriated as quickly as possible

The question of hiow to repatriate internees was beginning to be considered.

HM Prison
Reading
Nov. 26. 18

From the MO to the Governor
Concerning the state of body & mind of Ion Perrocino [?].

He has maintained his weight on a special diet that I have allowed him. No doubt he feels the cold weather.

He is depressed about his internment and gets very excited when he insists upon discussing his return to Brazil.

He is evidently working to be repatriated as quickly as possible. I do not believe he will take his life or go mad.

His behaviour to myself has always been correct.

W T Freeman

Reading Prison
26 Nov 1918

Sir

Owing to the absence of Clerk & Schoolmaster Mr Stevens, through influenza, I was working alone for a fortnight, during which the error in W Horlock’s account occurred. I greatly regret the submission of this error, but I was working under considerable pressure and difficulty, and did my best to keep the office work going and to carry out what checking I could.

I am
Sir
Your obedient servant
M N Loarn
Steward

[to] The Governor

[The error related to a purchase of liberty clothing for the internees.]

HM “Place of Internment”
Reading

26th November 1918

Sir

I have the honour to acknowledge your letter … dated 21st November 1918 on the subject of the interned Alien Albert Hemmerle.

The prisoner states that the Duchy of Lichtenstein is at present in a state of revolution, but that he will write to his parents and request them to obtain from whatever form of Government there may be, the required guarantee that he will remain in Lichtenstein if deported there.

I have the honour to be
Sir
Your obedient servant

F G C M Morgan
Governor

[to] The Under Secretary of State
Home Office
London SW1

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

“It was 60 to 100 at Lloyd’s yesterday there would be peace before Xmas”

Everyone could see the war coming to an end – even the German PoWs.

St Marys, Oct 31 [1918] Hallows Eve

My own darling own

Yesterday… a man called Savage with his wife quite intend on taking this place and if possible buying it. Evidently a very rich man in war profits having to do with all insurance societies, Lloyd’s included, & he told me it was 60 to 100 at Lloyd’s yesterday there would be peace before Xmas….

Meantime the papers are an hourly unrolling of great scrolls of prophecy fulfilled, and to be having a part in it must be a wonderful feeling, and how I long to talk to you, and how I long for the evening papers with news, if any, from Paris. I dread Bolshevik risings, and spread of that disease with Prussianism a fallen God? It is a tremendous thing to think what is in the hands of those few brains at Paris, and I cling to the knowledge that two at least there are with belief in the Eternal Righteousness revealed as Divine Love to those who follow Christ and company with him in sacrifice for the sake of that Righteousness? It must be hard to go on fighting with the world all crumbling that has opposed that righteousness, and it seems as if it – the victory – was already decided.

The news from Italy is glorious, and then Hungary & Austria & Turkey, and with the little bits of news coming in from the Danube – these waterways and tributaries in silence or in spate determining the way of victory. Well – here I watch our little road and the village passers by, and the trees getting bare, but still some golden glow slimes in at the window, and the only thing in touch with the war are the German prisoners no longer bursting with spirits & laughter and talk, but they look grim….

There is a great deal of mild flu about, and some measles, but I have heard of no bad cases so far. I have no sign of flu, only a very little cold of which I take quite abnormal care, & eat formamint lozenges without end….

Archdeacon Moore has resigned – and I am sorry – one of the few gentlemen left in that changing diocese where everything is going on socialistic lines, and I am so unhappy about poor dear Norman Lang, & cannot imagine what his future is to be when the 6 months at the front are over – & will he be needed there 6 months.

Do take care of yourself – send for formamint lozenges & have eucalyptus & a good tonic?

I suppose John will be all right. Maysie is moving to 6 Hill Street, Knightsbridge…

All my love, darling
Own Mur

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

“We do not want to reconstruct with a pair of scissors, or with a paste-pot and a lump of putty, but with a pick-axe!”

Reading leftwingers hoped for a big change in life after the war.

Reading Branch ILP

We have held one good meeting at Workers’ Hall on Sunday, November 25, when W N Ewer gave an interesting and useful address on “The Work of the ILP during the coming period of Reconstruction”. The speaker was careful to point out that “Reconstruction” does not mean the methods of hedging and trimming generally associated with the two political parties, but a real system of “Revolution”; or, as he put it, we do not want to reconstruct with a pair of scissors, or with a paste-pot and a lump of putty, but with a pick-axe!…

At our branch meetings we have discussed many subjects including “Fusion of the ILP and BSP”, “Militarism in the Schools”, “Food Profiteering”, “Trade Unionism at the Cross Roads”, and the “Censorship of Leaflets”.

The Reading Worker: The Official Journal of Organised Labour in Reading and District, no. 13, January 1918 (D/EX1485/10/1/1)

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)