Peace seems to bring with it as many activities as war

Wounded soldiers made a generous gift to a Maidenhead church.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,

This July we have had a busy month of Parish work and Festivities. Indeed, I never remember to have passed a summer month so lacking in leisure. Peace seems to bring with it as many activities as war. Still, with its arrival, it is a great joy to welcome old friends on their safe return. Among others, the return from the wilds of the Danube, even if fleeting, of Mr Sellors, our old colleague, has been a great pleasure to us all.

In connection with the War, St Luke’s Church has received an almost unique gift. Together with, I believe, St Paul’s Cathedral alone, the wounded soldiers at the VAD Hospital have worked us a strikingly beautiful red silk Altar Frontal and Antependium for the fald-stool [sic?]. It was done for us as a surprise, and was finished just before the Hospital, the mounting being completed by July 26th. The idea was formulated, I believe, by the Commandant, but all details and material were got for the men by Mrs Salmonson; and, I know, that the active sympathy of many other workers contributed to its final success. The names of the men who worked on it are written on the back of the Frontlet or Super-Frontal. By lifting the fringe we shall see thus an enduring record of the names of the skilled and kindly men who did the work. It is to be used and dedicated on Sunday, August 3rd, the Eve of the Anniversary of the War. The Special Prayer of Dedication will be said at the 11 am Service, when some front seats will be kept for VAD workers…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar, C E M Fry.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, August 1919 (D/P181/28A/28)

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“I am hopeful that the next few weeks will see us very near the end of the war”

A chaplain told his Maidenhead friends about his experiences with our Serbian allies.

Letter from Rev. J. Sellors

Dear Friends,-

To-day we have had some excellent news which will be old by the time you read this. We have just heard that Bulgaria has signed an unconditional peace, and I am hopeful that the next few weeks will see us very near the end of the war. At this stage I am allowed to say that part of my work was to visit a British battery on the part of the front where the Allies – Serbs and French – first broke through the Bulgar lines. It was in the sector between Monastir and the Vardar, comprising the Moglena range of mountains, which rise abruptly from a plain to a height of anything from 4,000 to 6,000 feet, bounded on the left by Mount Kaimachalan, over 8,000 feet high. When crossing the plain I could see the Bulgar lines near the crest of the mountains, and knew that from their observation posts in the direction of Vetrenick and Kozyak they could see my car approaching, and I rather sympathised with the rabbit (the wild one, not Mr. Chevasse’s variety) which knows there is a man with a gun in the neighbourhood, and wonders when he is going to fire, and if he is a good shot. However, I was fortunate enough to escape any shelling, although the roads and villages en route were on several occasions shelled shortly before or after I had passed by.

The enemy positions seemed absolutely impregnable, and we felt here the Allies had little chance of success if the Bulgars made a very determined resistance. We were immensely pleased and cheered to hear that after an intense bombardment of only seven minutes, an attack was made which broke right through the lines held by the very dazed surviving Bulgars, overcame all resistance offered in reserve trenches, and never stopped till the enemy cried for peace. The Serbs were simply magnificent. They bounded forward at the rate of some 40 kilometres (about 25 miles) a day. The enemy was given no chance to reorganize; a great part of his whole army was thrown into absolute chaos, and having lost practically the whole of its supplies, food, ammunition, guns etc., with a fortnight it acknowledged itself as beaten. Personally I do not think that without the Serbs the Allied victory would have been so speedy and complete. They are wonderful fighters, and charming, simple people. I see a good deal of them, as I am chaplain to the British units attached to the Serbian army and have my headquarters at a hospital for Serbs (37th General Serbian Hospital, Salonika Forces).

As I write, the units are scattered all over the country, but my parish used to extend about 50 miles of front and lines of communication, and I visited a battery, a number of transport companies, hospitals, etc., and had to use a motor car for the performance of my duties. (Don’t imagine me riding about in great comfort. The car was really a small Ford van, generally used for carrying shells and supplies, and we had to travel along very uneven roads, sometimes mere cart tracks, and owing to the consequent bumping, the intense heat of the sun, and that rising from the engine, together with the dust, riding was often the reverse of pleasant.)

I find that on the whole the “padre’s” work is very much appreciated, and one is constantly receiving proof that man instinctively wants God and reverences Christ, and it is a great privilege to take part in the work of proclaiming God to others and seeking to drawn men to Him. Men out here have been torn away from all the things which hitherto filled their loves, and I think this enforced detachment from normal pursuits has led many who previously luke-warm Christians to find that their religion alone in such times of stress can comfort, strengthen, inspire and sustain them. Thus I think the war will have the effect of deepening the religious life of many, even if it does not lead the indifferent man to faith in God through Christ.

I trust before many months have passed I shall be with you again in Maidenhead for a short time.

With prayers for you all, especially those in sorrow or anxiety,

Yours sincerely,

J. SELLORS, C.F.

Macedonia, Sept. 30th, 1918

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, November 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

The further call for soldiers brings home to us the coming climax of the War

There was still need for more soldiers.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

… Last month was a busy one, and our record of it has to be compressed; nor can I find space for a letter from Mr. Sellors, who, I am glad to say, keeps well and fit at Salonika…

As regards to more serious things, we have to thank Mr. F. Rogers for two beautiful flags for the Church; they will be a valued reminder of all we have gone through together during the War. The further call for soldiers brings home to us the coming climax of the War. Still more families have a personal interest in the welfare of our Navy, Army and Air Force.

Let those of us at home turn still more earnestly to God for strength to do our duty and bear our burdens. For from him alone comes the power to be workers, and not drones, whether for God’s service, or that of our Country, or our Homes.

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar
C.E.M. FRY

PARISH MAGAZINE

Owing to paper shortage, we are only allowed about 525 copies of the “Dawn of Day” a month. So about 1590 people will have to be content with Parish matter only.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, July 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

“Our small tent collapsed in a blizzard”

Army chaplain J Sellors reached his post in southern Greece, where he found the weather not conducive to a good night’s sleep.

Letter from the Rev. J. Sellors

Dear Friends,

I last wrote to you when I was on my way out here. I have now been here for about a month, and my address at present is 28th General Hospital, Salonika, where any letters you may wish to write will find me. (We are not allowed to put our address at the top of letters).

I cannot give details of my journey, but I think the censor will allow me to say that shortly before reaching here there was no railway for a distance of about thirty miles, and we had to take motor lorries. For fifteen or more miles we passed through a valley completely filled with olive trees, then we had to climb over a mountain pass. We ascended to a height of between 3,000 and 4,000 feet, and saw around us deep valleys and snow-tipped mountain peaks, which glistened like silver in the sunlight. In several places we were only a few feet from the edge of a precipice without any protecting wall; a little carelessness on the part of the driver, and – imagine the result!

When we arrived at Salonika we were sent to a camp for a few days to await orders. The weather was beautifully warm and bright until we arrived here, when it changed suddenly, and a bitterly cold wind sprang up and the rain came in torrents.

The second night we had a blizzard, and just after, two of us Chaplains, who were together, had retired to rest, our small tent collapsed, and we had an exciting few minutes extricating our bedding and seeking dry quarters in a hut, where we spent the remainder of the night. Next morning we found part of our belongings covered with several inches of snow and mud. We had scented trouble before going to roost, so were not altogether unprepared for our experience.

I will endeavour to tell you a little about my work when next I write. I am quite well, and happy in my work.

March 22nd, 1918

Yours sincerely, J. SELLORS, C.F.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, May 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

“One chaplain has been wounded in the face and lost the use of one eye, and is wearing the Military Cross, so evidently has been in some very hard fighting”

An army chaplain from Maidenhead was part of a group of padres heading for new flocks at the front.

Letter from the Rev. J. Sellors.

Dear Friends, –

I am writing this in the train somewhere in Italy, and shall not be at my destination for several more days. I have slept on the train for eight nights, but three companions and I in the compartment have managed to make ourselves fairly comfortable. There are four officers or six men to each compartment, and even at this stage of the journey, although travelling has been tiring, everybody seems to be in good spirits. This partly due to the excellent weather we have had; we have had continual sunshine for over a week, and have been passing through vineyards, olive yards, orange groves, etc., sometimes through mountainous scenery, sometimes by the sea-side, so there has been much to interest us. Some of the towns are quite fascinating in this part of the country. Many are built on a hill, and they appear to be on large compact building, but on closer inspection we can see narrow streets dividing the town into separate parts. All the houses are whitewashed and have flat roofs, and the brilliant sunshine gives them a dazzling appearance.

There are six Chaplains on the train – three Roman Catholics and three Anglican, all going to different places; one has been wounded in the face and lost the use of one eye, and is wearing the Military Cross, so evidently has been in some very hard fighting.

My thoughts often dwell on the time I spent at Maidenhead, and I pray that God will bless the work that is done in His name in St Luke’s Parish. I am in the best of health, and look forward eagerly to the great work to which I have been called.

Feb. 9th, 1918.

Your sincere friend, J. SELLORS, C.F.

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, March 1918 (D/P181/28A/27)

Hoping “the streets of Jerusalem may be at peace, under the guard of Christian soldiers drawn mainly from our British race”

The assistant clergyman who was the minister at St Peter’s, Furze Platt, in the parish of Maidenhead St Luke, became an army chaplain in 1916.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

Alas, we lose Mr. Sellors on November 29th. He goes to Aldershot and thence to Salonica. Our prayers and good wishes go with him. I know that in the difficult interregnum that will follow his departure, I can count upon your loyal support, and that the St. Peter’s Church Committee will do all that is possible to keep things up in Furze Platt. Your loyal support has, I know, never failed me in similar (all too frequent) difficulties, which are much magnified by the War.

Lastly, may I hope that we all may have a happy and peaceful Christmas; and that when we meet, very many of us round the Altar on that day, Bethlehem, still a little Christian City, may be again in Christian hands; and the streets of Jerusalem may be at peace, under the guard of Christian soldiers drawn mainly from our British race.

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar
C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, December 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

We shall be very glad when Peace comes and things return to their normal conditions

The curate at Maidenhead St Luke was going to become an army chaplain, while the organist was too busy working in a munitions factory to rehearse the choir.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and Parishioners,-

This November again brings us the Confirmation. I hope all are remembering in their prayers those who are preparing for Confirmation. It should be one of the great turning points in a boy’s or girl’s, or man’s or woman’s, life. Just now, with all the concomitant disturbance and upheaval of the War, it is difficult for any, old or young, to find much time for quiet, and the making of great resolves. All the more honour is due, and the more help should be given, to those who have the courage to try and serve God in this way. I hope that all god-parents, parents and friends of the Candidates, who can possibly be present, will attend the Confirmation on Sunday, November 25th, at 3.30 pm.

Alas! after the Confirmation, we are to lose Mr. Sellors, who has been posted as an Army Chaplain from November 26th, though his actual departure may be a little later. We cannot grudge him his War Service; but I am sure that on behalf of the whole parish I ought to say how much he has endeared himself to us all since he first came among us in June, 1916… We pray God he may return safe, to work among us again, if the War do not last too long, or, if it do, to visit us before he shall take up work in the Foreign Mission Field.

There has been some re-arrangement in the matter of the Musical Services at St. Luke’s, temporarily owing to the War.

The ever-growing claims of Munitions now prevents Mr. Garrett Cox from taking the Friday night practices of the Choir. He can still play on Sundays, except on some evenings.

Mr. King-Gill has kindly undertaken to act as Choir-Master and Precentor for the time being, and I am sure in his hands the Choir will maintain its reputation for good and reverent singing. Mr. Sinkins is most generously helping us on those Sunday nights when Mr. Garrett Cox is away, and at other times, too. And we are still fortunate in getting help from Mr. Snow and Mr. Goolden, and occasionally from Mr. Chavasse and Mr. Sellors.

I feel that a word of public thanks is also due to Mr Chas King for the great help he gave us in Choir training while Mr Garrett Cox had to be making shells; we all much appreciate the work he did for us. We shall, of course, be very glad when Peace comes and things return to their normal conditions, but thanks to our many good friends we have done wonderfully well at St Luke’s in a very trying time…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, November 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)

National Service is just now very much to the fore

Paid employment on Sundays was severely restricted before the war, but necessity was leading to relaxation of the rules. The vicar of St Luke’s in Maidenhead had his doubts.

The Vicar’s Letter

Dear Friends and parishioners,-

We have spent, I think, on the whole a very profitable Lent… The older men who were able to do so, came well to the three Services for Men; many of the younger ones, as we all know, were employed on their Country’s work elsewhere…

Just now the loss of friends is so common that I can usually make no reference to it in this Letter…

National Service is just now very much to the fore. I feel sure that the Churchpeople of this Parish will respond to any call made upon them. I ought perhaps to say, though I do it reluctantly, as it is a personal thing, that Mr. Sellors and I have both given in our names to the Bishop in case we are needed for Service elsewhere, but nothing has happened as yet. In the meanwhile and probably all the War, we are obeying the Director General’s advice and are remaining in our present work.

I have been asked to say a word or two about the difficult question of Sunday work. I suppose the old Christian rule is that works of necessity and charity are allowable…. This year I gather that during say six weeks of the sowing season, many gardens, and some farm lands, must be cultivated on Sunday. After that till Harvest, I should say that ordinary weeding, etc, could be done during the week, especially under the Daylight Saving Bill…

I remain, Your faithful friend and Vicar

C.E.M. FRY

Maidenhead St Luke parish magazine, April 1917 (D/P181/28A/26)