Peace was declared at 11am by the continual blowing of all Reading hooters followed by ringing of church bells

No one in Berkshire could miss the end of the war.

Earley

On Monday November 11 peace was declared at 11am by the continual blowing of all Reading hooters followed by ringing of church bells and a general half holiday. We have no peal of bells here, but we had a beautiful Thanksgiving Service at half past seven the same evening. The order of service was as follows; the National Anthem, a short address from the pulpit by the Vicar; a procession round the church with Milton’s hymn “let us with a gladsome mind” and “Now thank we all our God”; prayers and thanksgivings in front of the altar; “Gloria in Excelsis”; hymn by Mr Athelstan Riley “Ye watchers and ye holy ones”; the blessing. The whole service lasted 25 minutes. It was a damp, miserable evening but all hearts and spirits were full of thankfulness and rejoicings. The next morning a noticeable number of people communicated at 7.30.

Bracknell

November 11th will always be kept in remembrance as the day when the Armistice was signed which put an end to the fighting. The news was received in Bracknell about 11 o’clock, and spread rapidly far and near. Groups gathered together, discussing the news, and the street was soon gay with flags. A Thanksgiving Service was held in the church in the evening, which was attended be a large and representative gathering.

Never before have our hearts been so deeply stirred as they were when we sung our psalms and hymns and said our prayers of thanksgiving.

Earley St Bartholomew parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P192/28A/15); Bracknell section of Winkfield and Warfield Magazine, December 1918 (D/P 151/28A/10/10)

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“His services to the wounded in this respect during this and previous years have been simply priceless”

Wounded soldiers in Reading were treated to a lovely day out.

River Trip for Wounded Soldiers

On Friday afternoon, September 13th, our own particular River Outing for wounded soldiers, under the auspices of the Care and Comforts Committee, took place under perfectly ideal conditions. After several days of somewhat broken weather, we struck the one bright sunny afternoon when the river was at its best. The arrangements on the steamer had been made as usual, by Mr. Awmack, whose services to the wounded in this respect during this and previous years have been simply priceless.

The “Merry Mascots” Concert party provided just the right sort of musical entertainment, with the songs that our soldiers delight in, accompanied by piano, harp and violin. The tea would have been very good in ordinary times – under present conditions it was marvellous. And the abundant supply of cigarettes handed round by Mrs. A.T. Watkins and Miss Shorter was evidently appreciated to the full.

The goal of our journey was Park Place, the residence of Colonel Noble, and it was good to see the enjoyment of our guests as they made their way up the green slope and through the famous tunnel to the fine historic mansion, with its glorious views, and enchanting grotto, and gardens.

Our party include men from many distant parts of the Empire as well as from the Old Country – from Australia and South Africa, and the Rocky Mountains. By their words and their looks, they left us in no doubt that the object we all had in view was fully attained, and the expedition will long live in their memory, as in ours who were privileged to go with them.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1918 (D/EX1237/1)

“If only Fritz would drop a bomb on it, it would save further argument”

Percy Spencer wrote to his sister Florence to let her know how he was getting on. The following day he was to be wounded.

Aug 6, 1918
My dear WF

Almost I’ve forgotten how to write a letter. Lately I have been so busy picking up the threads and so on that I haven’t had time to write a line since July 14, I think it was – not even to write and wish you many happy returns of the 4th. However I’ll put the clock back a couple of days and do it now.

My diary has gone during the last few weeks and I’m racking my brain for news.

To go back, I finished my course on the 17th. My section, 4/7 of which was my Division, won the School cup. The runners up were also 4/7 my Division. So we set our caps at the Canadians, Australians & our friends from USA and swanked. Also individually my section scored highest marks in the examination. My own report read –
Qualifications Very good
Power of command Ditto
Keen

So there was much rejoicing and our [HLI?] instructor got very tipsy at our expense and insisted on singing all the Scotch songs ever written, and some which I believe had before scarcely escaped the boundaries of his “wee bit hoos ben” or some such foreign place.

After that I returned “here” – that’s interesting. From here I went up the line once or twice, and then went “there” and billeted the Battalion. With the aid of 200 men, made the area reasonably clean, and HQ habitable. There was even a piano and one evening we had our string trio over to play to us at mess, and afterwards the doctor (from USA) with a fine voice, sang to us and made us all homesick. And the adjutant begged for Raff’s [Cantina?] and got it, and wondered how I knew when I turned to him during the piece and said, “Your wife plays this”.

And then I came here again & the adjutant being inoculated & sick, I had to ride up the line and take over. And now I am here again (and it’s pouring with rain) in an abandoned cottage with an earth floor and leaky roof and really very comfortable. To a newcomer it would be startling to go round a battalion’s “billets” and hear our boys tell the visiting officer that they were quite comfortable in a tumbledown outhouse or barn. Someday again I expect we shall get luxurious again.

Had one very bad night here during an event I expect you are now reading about. Fritz bombed all night and generally played the devil. A few days before a billet of ours was gutted by fire due to another unit’s fault. Luckily overnight I had organised our people for such an event, and in 25 minutes we had it out and a large farm saved. The other unit having at last accepted liability, rebuilt the place. I remarked that if only Fritz would drop a bomb on it, it would save further argument. He did, but not till it had been rebuilt & occupied and the farmer was gloating over new buildings for old.

The CO has just turned up so I’ll close while I have the opportunity.
With my dear love to you both

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/7/58-60)

“News came that we were to train in billets as the French were very windy about air raids”

Sydney Spencer, who oped to train for the Anglican priesthood, disapproved of vulgar songs.

Thursday 18 July 1918

Got up fairly early. News came that we were to train in billets as the French were very windy about air raids. This we did & gave my platoon a talk about maps & did musketry & gas drill in the billet. The men were very pleased with the talk about maps.

After lunch little or nothing doing. I helped Plant with his Battalion dinner for tonight. It was not very successful, I thought. I hate big messes. There were 33 of us there. I rather deplored the songs which were sung after dinner.

I walked home with Kemp & Sergeant told us great news of a big French victory. Some 20,000 prisoners & 300 guns in all, south of us.

Diary of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15)

“They deserved to be left behind”

Albert Cusden, one of the four Reading brothers interned in a German camp, wrote to one of his sisters. Some of the older internees had been repatriated, and it was a bittersweet farewell.

Jan. 19th 1918

Dear Iris

Two letters received from Father and Ruby to Vic, yesterday. Have had no other news for quite a long time, but I believe there is only one mail boat running a month now, so if this is the case your letters and ours will arrive in bunches.

We had quite a memorial day on Jan. 2nd. About 350 men over forty five left here for England. You will of course have read of their arrival long before this is written. Four men went from our loft. As you can imagine all the men were very excited the night before. I know of some men who dressed themselves the night before, and spent the night just waiting. I think there were very few who got much sleep. One man gave a farewell breakfast to his chums at four o’clock in the morning. They had to leave the camp between six and seven in the morning, and three were actually late! They deserved to be left behind.

A train was waiting for them on a siding just outside the camp, and we who were left climbed on to sheds or anything that was handy to wave farewell to men who had been interned with us for over three years. One or two attempts were made to sing such songs as “It’s a long way to Tipperary” and “What’s the use of worrying?”, but they were not very successful. Fellows just watched the train and shouted. Well, they’re gone now, and some day I suppose we shall follow.

We have had very peculiar weather for quite a time. We must have had close on eighteen inches of snow during the last ten days. Most of it has now disappeared. In the first few days we had a frost, so that it was very slippery. Now a thaw has set in and it is very mild.

Our new school term has not yet started, we have been waiting for warmer weather. Probably in another week’s time it will start. It is impossible to do much work in the winter.

We are all four keeping in good health. Love to all.

Your affectionate brother, Albert.

Letter from Albert Cusden in Ruhleben to Miss Iris Cusden, 57 Castle Street, Reading (D/EX1485/4/4/9)

“The Irish prisoners give us little peace and quiet”, dancing and singing

The Irish internees at Reading seem to have been partying all night, according to an aggrieved warder. (His request was denied, and he was forced to stay at Reading.)

HM Prison
Reading
3rd Jan. 1918

Gentlemen,

I beg to state that after the sick leave that has been granted to me since November last, I feel able and fit to return to duty again. I attribute my illness to the causes, viz to anxiety and over work created by the unexpected additional duties in connection with the interned aliens here, particularly with the canteen and the large daily dealings with tradespeople in Reading and elsewhere by the prisoners; also to my occupation of the Chaplain’s quarters. When it was arranged that I should occupy that house, I had no idea that any sounds from the Female Wing when the wing was in use, could be heard so easily in the quarters. We soon discovered, however, that the Irish prisoners give us little peace and quiet between 7 pm and 10. There was shouting and cheering, drilling, chorus singing, violin and flute playing with step-dancing, besides much walking and running up and down stairs, all of which we hear evenings most plainly and which disturbed the peace and quiet I ought to have enjoyed after my trying day’s due. I then was going down the hill in health, and the quarters under the conditions stated told upon my nerves, general health, as well as upon my wife’s health.

I have now been in the service 33 years, nine of which have been as Steward, and have always endeavoured to perform my duties loyally and with enthusiasm. Owing to present conditions, the extremely high cost of living, and to my family circumstances which have already been brought to your notice by the Governor, it would be a very great hardship to my family if I am compelled to retire from the Service now. I should therefore be grateful if the Commissioners will allow me to resume my duties and transfer me to another station where I may have the advantage of a more bracing climate and of enjoying better health.

I am
Gentlemen

Your obedient servant

Matthew W Loan
Steward

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

“I expected to be home about Xmas, but instead I found myself in Italy”

Members of Broad Street Brotherhood were reminded of home at Christmas.

MESSAGES FROM BROTHERHOOD MEN

Below we give extracts from a few of the letters recently received from members of the Brotherhood who are serving with HM Forces. The writers of these – and many other – letters were most grateful for the Christmas parcels, but in making our extracts we have not thought it necessary to include their expressions of appreciation in every case.

Today I had a very pleasant surprise in receiving the parcel of very useful things you all had so kindly sent me. I thank you very much for your kind thoughts and wishes expressed in your helpful letter, and for all you have sent. What a splendid and helpful “Xmas Message” that is on the leaflet you enclose. I shall pass it on.
Stanley Gooch (OS)

Thank you so much for the parcel I received quite safely. It is good of you all to make our Xmas so bright by the splendid things that you sent along. I received the parcel on Xmas afternoon. I expected to be home about Xmas, but instead I found myself in Italy. But never mind. Let us hope that this terrible war will soon finish…

How I look forward to the time when I can sit in my old place in the choir and let rip our good old Brotherhood hymns…

I thought of Broad St and the Choir on Xmas Day when our Quartette Party sang “The Soldier’s Farewell”.

J E Graham (OS)

I beg to acknowledge the parcel that was so kindly forwarded to me from the Church and Brotherhood. Please convey my heartfelt thanks to all those who helped to add another kind expression of brotherly feeling to the absent ones. They can never know the pleasure it gives….

Although so far away it seems to bring us all right home to Broad St and the happy times we’ve had together…

I am sorry to say we have no Brotherhood here, but one of the Church Army Huts, which I can assure you is very acceptable to the boys at the Hospital. We have service morning and evening, and since I’ve been here I have not missed one. We have a Male Voice Choir of which I am a member, and I believe we could now put Broad Street M[ale] V[oice] Choir in a back seat. But please don’t tell the conductor this, as he might take it serious.

Herbert Tott (OS)

Will you kindly thank the members of the Church and Brotherhood who so kindly gave to the parcel you sent. I received it in the trenches…

I must thank God I have been spared to see another Xmas where there have been so many that have fallen. I have been very glad Mr Woolley ever induced me to join the Brotherhood…

We are having very cold weather, and the ground is thick with snow which makes it bad for getting about.

C Mills (OS)

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, April 1918 (D/N11/12/1/14)

Do the German hear our starlight singing in their distant trenches?

There was much news of soldiers from Maidenhead Congregational Church.

OUR SOLDIERS.

We are glad to be able to report that Reginald Hill is so far improving, that he has been able to sit up a little each day. Thomas S. Russell has been called up, and is in training with the Motor Transport Section of the A.S.C. G.C. Frampton after about two hours drill was considered advanced enough for foreign service, and left England for France on May 18th. He is gone into Military Canteen work.

An interesting letter has come to hand from Sidney Eastman, which may justly be described as lengthy, for it is written upon a piece of paper some seven or eight feet long, and covers both sides. It is mostly occupied with a description of his travels and of the sights he has seen, and we are glad to gather that he is in good health and spirits.

G.C. Frampton has been unpatriotic enough to take German measles, and is in Hospital at Etaples. We hope to learn very shortly that he is quite well again.

Alfred Vardy, after a severe bout of pneumonia, caught on his way to the Front in France, is now at a Convalescent Camp in Thetford, gaining strength before returning to duty.

Wilfrid Collins is in hospital at Reading, suffering from heart weakness following upon a severe attack of “Trench fever.”

Reginald Hill has been out of bed for an hour, and is going on satisfactorily, though slowly.

Cyril Hews had a somewhat narrow escape recently. He was out with his motor-bicycle upon a French road during a thunderstorm, when the lightning struck a tree by the road-side, and a large branch fell upon the handlebars of the machine, providentially leaving the rider untouched.

Alfred Lane, after more than a year’s training in the Home Counties’ Engineers at Maidenhead, has been sent over with a draft to France.

Harry Baldwin, having attained the age of 18, and being called up, has elected to enter the Navy, and will probably enter a Training School.

One of our young men, who took an active part in the Messines victory, writes:

“Rather a good sight yesterday. I attended with my men a very large open-air drum-head Church Parade Service, as a sort of Thanksgiving Service for our recent great victory. A large number of Welshmen were present, and it really was great to hear these fellows sing “Aberystwith” and “St. Mary,” accompanied by a band.”

The papers, by the way, have been recently telling us that in all the Welsh regiments there are “glee parties,” who sing under the stars, until the Germans must hear and perhaps wonder, in their more or less distant trenches.

Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, June 1917 (D/N33/12/1/5)

Bread and butter, yes! real butter at khaki socials

Reading Congregational Church reports on another winter’s worth of entertaining soldiers.

KHAKI SOCIALS

Now that the Khaki Socials have ended for the season, a short report may be of interest to those who read the magazine.

The winter season started on Sunday October 8th 1916, and continued every Sunday until May 6th 1917, a total (including Good Friday) of 32 Socials. At first they were not attended as well as could be expected, but after a while they became more widely known, and many nights the room has been quite crowded. The average attendance for the season was about sixty soldiers, besides others who came in as “friends”.

One of the chief features of the socials has been the refreshments, which were always appreciated by the Khaki boys, especially the thin pieces of bread and butter, yes! real butter.

The singing of the Fellowship Hymns was much enjoyed, special favourites being “All Hail the Power”, “Fight the Good Fight” and “Lead, kindly Light”, which were often selected by the men themselves, and couldn’t they sing, too!

The “tone” of the concerts was well maintained throughout the season, thanks to the various kind friends who have rendered help in this way.

The financial side of the Socials has been rather heavy, on account of the extra cost of foodstuffs. Consequently there is a deficit of several pounds.

The average cost per social was about 12/-, and it is estimated that nearly 2.000 Tommies attended and received refreshments during the season, so the committee cannot be accused of “over-feeding” at any rate.

There is now a splendid opportunity for two or three generous friends to send along their donations to wipe off the deficiency.

It would take too much space to say what I should like to say about all the friends who have helped so splendidly; but there are two or three who certainly should be mentioned. First is our Minister, Mr Rawlinson, who has presided on most nights, and has done more than anyone to cheer and brighten the meetings. It is not everyone who, after a strenuous day’s work, would undertake this extra work, but Mr Rawlinson has done it and done it cheerfully. Then Mr and Mrs J Ford and Mrs Witcombe, the “Food Controllers”, must be mentioned for their splendid services. Always behind the scenes, yet always on the spot and ready. They never once failed to supply even the “sugar”. Then our best thanks are due to one who, although not on the committee, has done good work as welcomer and door keeper. I refer to Mr J Owen. Some of the men got quite used to his welcome “how a-r-r-e you?”, especially the “Welsh Boys”.

What we should have done without Mrs Dracup and Miss Green in the musical department of the work, it is difficult to think. They have been a real help, and each deserves the silver medal for “services rendered”.

Besides those mentioned, the Khaki Socials Committee consisted of the following, all of whom have done their share of the work:
Mr Nott, Mrs Hendey, Mrs Woolley, Mr and Mrs Tibble, Mr A S Hampton and Mr Swallow, Mr Hendey as treasurer, and Mr W A Woolley as secretary.

The same committee has been re-elected to arrange Garden Parties, River Trips, etc, for the wounded soldiers during the summer months. Friends wishing to help in this good work should communicate with the secretary, who will be pleased to book up dates and make arrangements.

W A Woolley

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, June 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

“No better discipline or anything of that sort, I hope”

Percy Spencer wrote to Florence asking for some
Lysol petroleum jelly, an antiseptic. He had recently attended a dinner with old comrades, which had both tragic and comic elements.

May 3, 1917
My dear WF

This is just a few scrambled lines, mostly to ask for things.

I should very much like a tube of Lysall [Lysol] petroleum jelly, or a small bottle of Lysall and some phospherine tablets.

Also some ink to fit my box.

If I have any merino underwear or any shirts, I should like them please!

I’m sorry I can’t think of anything more to ask just now!

Well, I saw the Big Brass Hat yesterday and he said “H’m yes” 3 times, so I expect I’m in for something pretty bad – probably a month’s training in the trenches – or “something worth boiling out in it”.

We had a first rate dinner the night before last – the surviving officers & sergeants of my old Battalion, numbered just 18, 15 of whom were present. It was a right good evening, tho’ it had its tragic side.

By the way I am the only original member of the staff left: also I am the only remaining Staff Clerk in the Division who came out with us. The only original Quartermaster in the Division (of my old Battalion) was at the dinner. In fact so many of us were the only remaining something or other, we felt quite lonely.

Well, dear girl, I’m sending you the souvenir of that event. “Pat” enlisted as a private tho’ in private life he is Paterson of the Home Office – head of the Prisons of England – a fine man with a grand head. Dear old RSM Fisler’s speech was too funny. Private Pat, Corporal Pat, Sergeant Pat & 2nd Lt Pat of No. 4 Platoon was the well beloved of this Battalion of rough lads, and the fine old RSM ran himself high & dry on the rock of affection for the battalion idol: “that’s about all I’ve got to say, I think, sir”, he concluded lamely after a long pause.

The Sergeant Cook was pressed to sing – everyone knew he wanted to sing, and what he wanted to sing, and what he would sing – still he announced as he reluctantly rose to his feet, it would be a sad song. Nobody said, “We know; it’s going to be “Speak not ‘er nime”, tho’ everyone knew that “Speak not ‘er nime” it would be notwithstanding the cheering effect of a [bumper?] of port & Kummel shandy the worthy fellow had mixed for himself under the impression the harmless looking liquor was a sort of Perrier.

And so the evening passed. We talked of the St Albans days & the early days out here, of this good fellow and that, of a stout hearted Sergeant who wouldn’t be put off his game by enemy shelling before the battle of Loos – “What’s that?” exclaimed a jumpy platoon sergeant as a crump landed near. “Spades trumps” replied the other, and as the next one landed even nearer, “Clubs laid, your turn to play.”

But always we got back to Pat – to the early days out here, when as a Lance Corporal he “borrowed” the transport officer’s mount and a local landau & drove his “boys” out, only to run into the Divisional General. Of the Divisional General’s wrath & enquiry as to disciplinary action taken, & the CO’s reply – “This NCO has been promoted to Corporal”.

And I reminded him of the day when talking to the RSM he passed by en route for the guard room, there to comfort one of his platoon with all the food & illegal things he could buy.

Oh, the discipline of No 4 was awful, but they’d follow Pat anywhere.
Pat had to go away for a long time – upon returning he asked how things were with No. 4. “Oh, they’ve gone downhill fast, sir, since you left”. “No better discipline or anything of that sort, I hope”, Pat enquired anxiously. “Oh no” replied his informant in a horrified tone.

And now this same Pat is our Divisional Lecturer on “Discipline”.

Yours ever
Percy

Letter from Percy Spencer (D/EZ177/7/6/33-35)

Shells laming horses

Wounded soldiers visiting Bisham Abbey gave Florence Vansittart Neale information about the war.

16 April 1917

Went to Engineers’ camp to see dug outs & trenches…

Wounded came for afternoon. Nice set – usual games & singing. All enjoyed themselves. Edie & Mary came.

One of the wounded from church told me we could have taken Bapaume before Xmas but the French Government stopped us to save the town – now the Germans have destroyed it.

Hear [illegible] casualty to horses 10,000 in 3 days! Germans leave shells with sharp points that get into the hoofs & lame them.

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

We try to keep the home fires burning

The vicar of Reading St John had a New Year’s message for men from his parish who were serving their country.

TO SOLDIERS AND SAILORS ON ACTIVE SERVICE

Dear Brothers,

I have been given the privilege of writing the few lines that shall be our message from the parish in the homeland to you as the old year passes and the new year comes. If there ever were a time when the biggest words of goodwill and greeting could be given in absolute sincerity, then it is now from us at home to you whom we would hope to see here also during the coming year. But as this is to be our New Year’s card to you I suppose it should have a motto. Let it be this, which I think expresses the best desires of most Englishmen today:

“Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my Arrows of desire!
Bring me my Spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental Fight
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.”

So are we trying to do what you used in a different way to ask us to do in the song you used to sing: “Keep the home fires burning”.

With every good wish throughout 1917.

Your sincere friend

R W Morley

THE INSTITUTE.

Just as we go to press news comes that the Military are assuming entire control of the Institute. It may still be possible for us to hold one more important meeting in the Large Hall, but a large amount of re-arrangement in our Parochial Programme will be necessary. As early notice as possible will be given to all concerned.

Reading St. John parish magazine, January 1917 (D/P172/28A/24)

Wounded Australians visit Bisham Abbey

A group of wounded Australians came for an afternoon at Bisham Abbey.

29 September 1916
Dull day, some rain. Party of 17 Australian wounded came in afternoon about 3. Saw over house – had large tea in drawing room with maids. Miss Billyard Leake brought them! Maisie came & sang. Sapper Jones! Also. Left about 6.

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

“He loved life with all his heart”

A Windsor hero made the ultimate sacrifice, and the church magazine responded with a heartfelt portrait of the young man behind the record.

Charles James Henry Goodford.

Only a few weeks ago he was here in Windsor. He had come to receive the Military Cross which he had won by an act of splendid heroism. And many of us saw him and rejoiced with him at the honour which had come to himself and to those who loved him. Only a few weeks ago he was kneeling at the altar of All Saints Church on the very morning of his return to France.

And now with a shock we realise that we shall never see him on earth again. He has made the supreme sacrifice; he has heard the call and has responded to it even unto death.

Those who have always known him are not surprised. And all of us who knew him at all remember how at the outbreak of the war he was eager, and anxious, to share in the mighty struggle that lay before this land and empire. Then followed the brief course at Sandhurst, and before we realised that such a thing was possible we heard that he had gone to the Front.

That was eighteen months back- a brief space indeed, but marked with high distinction.

The Military Cross was the symbol of something more than one heroic act. From the first he showed, and he always showed, the ability and the temper of a true soldier. The letters which have come from those who were with him in France are a striking testimony to this. These are the words of a brother officer:

“No one in the regiment is mourned more than he by both officers and men. It is not an empty saying, everybody loved him.”

If this were all it would be more than worth saying. But it is not the whole of the story. Something must be said – and how much might be said – from the point of view of that which matters most of all- character.

He was so thoroughly human. This was seen in his love of his home, his garden, his pursuits and his school. And some of us will never forget the attractive boyishness of the pride with which he opened the case in which it lay and showed us the Military Cross. He loved life with all his heart and longed that, if it were God’s will, he might be spared to come through.

But behind all this was his strong and simple trust in God which bore the fruit of singleness of heart, loyalty of honour and truth, and purity of soul. He had realised the power of prayer in his spiritual life, and the knowledge that we were praying for him, and for others, at home was the joy and inspiration of days of danger and difficulty. He loved to think of us in Church on Sundays and to repeat the hymns which he thought that we perhaps were singing. He was specially helped just before he went into action for the last time by the closing verse of “Christ in Flanders.”-

“Though we forget You, You will not forget us,
But stay with us until this dream is past;
And so we ask for courage, strength and pardon,
Especially, I think, we ask for pardon,
And that You’ll stand beside us at the last.”

And when the strange experience came to him, as it must to us all, it was put to pass into the nearer presence of One Whom he had long since tried to serve and learned to love.

We cannot think of him as dead. We know that he lives and we doubt not that in the great unseen there will be grander, nobler work for him to do.

Our hearts go out to those who loved him most.

We cannot ever tell them how we care, how we sympathise. But we shall never cease to pray that the passing years may bring to them, more and more, the certainty of the abiding presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, a growing realisation of the communion of saints, and the vision of the many mansions wherein, in God’s time, His people shall know that they have not waited nor longed in vain.

Grant unto him, O Lord, eternal rest
And let eternal light shine upon him.

E.M.B.

New Windsor St John the Baptist parish magazine, August 1916 (D/P149/28A/21/5)

The only thing the soldier never seems to do is to ‘rest’

Army chaplain T Guy Rogers describes how he encouraged the soldiers to attend his services in their spare time.

My Dear Friends,
June 15th 1916.

Would it surprise you to hear that your Chaplain has become a Hun! Only temporarily and to oblige, morally or immutably. Do not be shocked nor repudiate him as your representative! It was only at manoeuvres to swell the skeleton army opposed to the British. A well delivered smoke bomb soon put him out of action. He has since returned to his allegiance with a profound respect for the élan of the British Infantry.

This is a glimpse of how we spend our time when we are ‘at rest’- a phrase which makes the soldier smile. Marches, attacks, drill, occupy our attention. Bath parade and ‘foot parade’ and kit parade and gas helmet parade are arranged as pleasant little interludes. The only thing the soldier never seems to do is to ‘rest’ in the loose sense in which it is so often employed of slacking or doing nothing. When the Commanding Officer is done with him, and the Medical Officers’ fever for inoculation is spent, and the Sergeant-Major has ceased from troubling, he organizes himself for cricket and football and rounders.

Finally, he has the Chaplain to reckon with! It is he who comes along smiling and debonair with a haversack slung across his shoulders (concealing beneath his gay exterior a nervousness which is often acute); ‘What about a service, men,’ he says, ‘on the grass under the trees before the cricket and football begin – just twenty minutes. I’ve got hymn sheets with our favourite hymns – what do you say?’ And they come of their own free will – at first slowly, gradually overcoming their inertia, but gathering force and numbers as they get under way and at last singing with heartiness and animation which shows the interruption is not resented.

In the midst of all this happy open air life there suddenly comes an order that we are wanted somewhere. We are all whirled away in motor buses a distance of twenty miles and we are in the midst of stern realities again.

Remember all our brave men recalled thus suddenly to the line.

Your sincere friend,
T. GUY ROGERS.

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