The agony and sorrow and sacrifice through which we have passed

The Rector of Remenham had strong views about our defeated enemy, and about domestic politics.

Rector’s letter

Since I wrote last month events connected with the War have moved with startling, dramatic rapidity. Bulgaria, Turkey, Austria, had collapsed, and then on November 11 Germany, the last of our enemies and the worst, whose conduct has been stained with iniquity and brutality and loathsome disregard of the obligations of honourable warfare, was overwhelmed. And now hostilities have ceased, and we breathe freely once again. We trust that, when the actual terms of Peace are settled, the wrongdoers will be adequately and justly punished; and that the foundations of righteousness may be firmly laid among the nations of Europe. On Sunday November 17, we held our Thanksgiving Services to acknowledge the good hand of God upon us, and, while our hearts were lifted up to him in profound gratitude, the agony and sorrow and sacrifice through which we have passed solemnised and, I believe, hallowed our worship.

The country on December 14 will be faced with the responsibility of a general election, and for the first time women will have the parliamentary vote. Let us pray that they may exercise it wisely, and I believe they will. The present Coalition Government, composed of Unionists and Liberals, will appeal to the nation for a fresh mandate to empower them if returned to office, to negotiate the terms of Peace, and, after Peace, to grapple with the grave problems of reconstruction that await solution. Old party divisions will for this election be put aside, and the Government will ask the country to support the united Coalition. The forces opposed to them, as far as I can judge, will be independent Labour and Socialism, and as their interests are confessedly sectional, they are not likely to safeguard the well-being of the nation, at this critical juncture.


Remenham parish magazine, December 1918 (D/P99/28A/4)

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At last the “cease fire” has sounded from end to end of the long front

The news was sinking in, even for the girls at the House of Mercy.

Burghfield

THE WAR

At last the “cease fire” has sounded from end to end of the long front; and the stern terms of Armistice have been perforce accepted by Germany, following on similar surrenders by Austria, Turkey and Bulgaria. With deep, heartfelt thankfulness to God, Who alone giveth victory, we rejoice, and trust that a just and lasting Peace will in due time follow. Meanwhile, if ever men may be proud of their race, we of the British Empire have that right. With men, with ships, with arms and munitions, with coal, with money, and by our high example, we Anglo-Saxons have indeed played our part. And terrible as our losses have been, we may now feel sure that they have not been in vain.

It was good to see the church nearly full at the Evening Service of humble thanksgiving, which was promptly arranged by the Rector on Tuesday, 12th November, the day after the Armistice was signed: and to feel the earnestness and unity of spirit which all showed, and which we hope will ever be with us in the parish in peace as well as in war.

Wargrave
Hare Hatch Notes

Thanks giving services. A large congregation assembled in the Mission Church, on Tuesday, November 12th, at 7 p.m., to render thanks to God for our glorious victory. It was a simple but yet most impressive service. The collection on behalf of the King’s Fund for disabled officers and men amounted to £2.

CSJB
12 November 1918

Choral Eucharist at 8.30 in thanksgiving for cessation of war. The Warden dispensed us from silence. The girls had a talking dinner & tea, & holiday in evening.

Burghfield parish magazine, December 1918 (D/EX725/4); Wargrave parish magazine (D/P145/28A/31); Annals of the Community of St John Baptist, Clewer (D/EX1675/1/14/5)

“This most wonderful news of Turkey is all so exciting”

There was yet more good news for the Allies, as the Ottoman Empire ended its involvement in the war.

St Mary’s
Bramber
Sussex

My own darling own

This most wonderful news of Turkey and of Austrian debacle is all so exciting and I long to hear from you after the news has reached you and the further news you already know most probably….

I have read the papers inside and out & do so long to hear all sorts of things no papers can tell.

Your very own
Mur

All Saints Day [1 November] 1918

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

Turkey has given in completely

Germany’s ally Turkey surrendered. Meanwhile, at home, Ernest Gardner of Cookham, the sitting Conservative MP for Wokingham, would successfully stand for Windsor at the upcoming 1918 election, following a redrawing of constituency boundaries.

31 October 1918

Turkey out of the war!

Henry & I went off after early lunch to Windsor to nominate Mr Gardner. Lloyd George in chair. Good speeches. We had coffee & tea at Langtons & then walked on terrace. So thankful Germans had not destroyed it.

Heard Turkey had given in completely. We going to Dardanelles & Constantinople. They submit to all proposals.

Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale of Bisham Abbey (D/EX73/3/17/9)

“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)

Laid to rest: the Newbury roll of honour

The Newbury men who had been killed were listed in the church magazine by installment.

ROLL OF HONOUR

Copied and supplied to the Parish Magazine by Mr J W H Kemp

(Continued from last month.)

45. Pte Benjamin Weller Smith, Duke of Cornwall’s LI, killed in France, June 18th, aged 24. Laid to rest at Bus, France.

46. Corp. Harry Lawes, killed in Mesopotamia 21st January, 1914.

47. Pte Ernest Westall, Territorials, died 16th June, 1916, in hospital.

48. Pte William Oscar Wickens, 8th Batt. Royal Berks Regt, missing since Oct. 13th, 1915, now reported killed.

49. Pte Bertram Edgar Wickens, Inter-communication Section 1/4 Royal Berks Regt, died of wounds April 17th, 1917.

50. Pte Gerald Lionel Wickens, 1/1 Trench Mortar Battery, 1st Infantry Brigade, killed in action August 27th, 1916.

51. Pte James Reginald Swatton, killed November, 1916. RIP.

52. Basil Henry Belcher, Royal Berks Regt, missing, believed killed, July 1st, 1916.

53. Pte Charles Whitehorn, killed in action July 3rd, 1916, 5th Royal Berks Regt.

54. Alan George Busby, killed in France June 9th, 1917. RIP.

55. In memory of Thomas Alfred Stillman, 2nd son of Mrs Stillman, of Market Street, Newbury, killed in action June 6th somewhere in France.

56. In memory of George Frederick Stevens, Qr-Master-Sergt, Royal Engineers, killed in France, July 10-11, 1917.

57. Sergt Frederick John Preston, 2/4 Royal Berks Regt, died of wounds, Le Trefont Hospital, France, 7th June, 1917.

58. L-Corp. William Crook, 94142, 128th Field Co, RE, killed July 1st, 1917, late of Diamond Cottages, Newbury.

59. Sergt W H Lake, 633 battery RFA, Indian Expeditionary Forces, died August 10th, 1916; prisoner of war in Turkey.

60. Pte Frank Pibworth, 6th Batt. Royal Berks Regt, died of wounds August 1st, 1917.

61. Pte Charles Mundy, KOYLI, killed Sept. 14th, 1917.

62. Pte Alfred John Aldridge, 16th Royal Warwickshire Regt, killed in action in France July 27th, 1916.

63. Pte Albert James Geater, A Co 1/4 Royal Berks Regt, killed in action August 16th, 1917.

64. Signalman Arthur William Stevens, 1st Devons, died of wounds in Hospital, France, October 4th, 1917.

65. Pte George Herbert Smith, 6th Batt. Royal Berks, killed in France March 10th 1915.

66. Pte James Henry Smith, 6th Batt. Royal Berks, killed in France August 27th, 1915.

67. Pte Edward Albert Smith, 6th Batt. Royal Berks, killed in action August 16th, 1917.

(To be continued.)

Newbury St Nicholas parish magazine, April 1918 (D/P89/28A/13)

On leave from Palestine

The son of a friend of Florence Vansittart Neale was on leave from the Middle East. Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, one of our enemies.

18 July 1917
To Helen’s. Eden had just come from Palestine.

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

Hope Roumelia has fallen

Roumelia, or Rumelia, was ancient Thrace. By the time of the First World War it was partly in Bulgaria and partly in the Ottoman Empire, both countries having joined the side of the Germans.

30 June 1916

Hear Roumelia fallen – hope it is true.

Roger Casement sentenced to be hung.

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

News from Bucharest “is invariably all skittles”

Basil Thorold Buckley, the Director of Military Intelligence, told Ralph Glyn that he was suspicious of the veracity of “secret” information passed to the British by the Romanians. Buckley was a cousin of Berkshire peer Lord Radnor.

General Staff
Director of Military Intelligence
War Office
Whitehall
SW

17 Apr. 1916

My dear Glyn

Your request for maps is receiving attention, but I think you have in one case asked for something that does not exist.

We cannot understand the craze which exists (& has always existed) in the MEF Intelligence for news from Bucharest. It is invariably all skittles & we never can rely on it.
Here is a very fair sample of it. I have a similar thing from W Clayton on 24th March by bag to show what rotten stuff. Comes from the Romanian GS [General Staff]. The Germans know jolly well that the RGS pass it on to us. So they feed the RGS up with all sorts of lies.

Critical times in the House of Commons this week. I think LG [Lloyd George] may chuck his place in the Cabinet if the PM does not show he is strong enough to bring in Conscription. Old Leverson paid me a visit yesterday on return from Egypt. I was in an awful fright he would as to be re-employed in MI2C.

Best of luck.
Yrs ever
B T Buckley

(more…)

Lost in the desert

Lady Mary Glyn was anxious but optimistic as she wrote to her son in Egypt:

March 28th

I long for news of the naval fight…

I know how oppressive it must be for you there in the desert where the individual seems so lost, and the day merged in aeons of a dead world & civilization, but Gordon’s triumph in the Sudan now supplying all the needs of a new time, and all you have done to keep out the Turk will act as inspiration…

I do not love the thought of French Front. Though if you are sent there I know you will be in the House of Defence set very high – as you are now…

My own darling blessing
Own Mur

Letter from Lady Mary Glyn to her son Ralph (D/EGL/C2/3)

The Germans’ well laid plans

Ralph Glyn’s parents both wrote to him in Egypt after a visit to the Wake family at Courteenhall, whose father had just died. Joan (1884-1974), one of the sisters of Sir Hereward (1876-1963) mentioned here, was to become a pioneering archivist. One of the Wakes claimed to have evidence that the German invasion of Belgium had been long planned in advance. The Enver referred to is Ismail Enver Pasha (1881-1922), the Turkish Minister of War who had led that country into alliance with Germany and was responsible for the Armenian Holocaust of 1915.

March 21st 1916

Yesterday we went to Courteenhall and had a cosy hour & more with the dear people. It is good to know that Hereward wishes his mother & sisters to remain on. He has bought a house in London, & is now going back to the front as Lt Colonel, on OGS 1st Grade & will be with General Mackenzie’s Division. He goes about end of April, & he is now at Aldershot taking up his new work. Ida is to be his agent for Northants property, assisted by a good bailiff, & he has secured a good man for the Essex property who can always advise Ida when necessary. Phyllis is back at work nursing at Abbeville. Joan is at home helping all round. Lady Wake pays rent, & keeps up the house…

There is a most interesting & amusing nephew of Lady Wake’s in this Hotel, a Major Wake who has seen all sorts of service in E Africa, Egypt and Ulster!! And in between a recruiting job at home & Ulster he fought [for?] Turk against Italy! While so employed he shared a tent with 3 German officers who told him their well laid plans exactly! Even to the breaking through Belgium to destroy France, knowing her Vosges defences were too strong for other swift accomplishment of victory – but France destroyed, they would take us and Holland on – no wish to destroy either as all Teutonic peoples should come into the Zollverein which would then rule the world. Our practicality was required to wed with their “idealism”, & when this union was complete “we” would together be invincible. They said they liked us, but as long as we were separate they could not do anything, & must always come up against us. They expected all their colonies to be taken, but then at the crisis our Fleet was to be destroyed, & then they would regain their colonies & seize all ours. All this was described with perfect freedom to the English soldiers, and the answer to his enquiry “What do you wish to do with us”. They said this was all open unconcealed knowledge, and that we had such a wretched Government we would never fight, & though our Govt knew they would not prepare, so the thing was “fait accompli”. (more…)

A fine body of young women

The Revd E C Glyn, Bishop and Peterborough, and his wife Lady Mary both wrote to their soldier son Ralph. The Bishop was anxious that his letters were not reaching Ralph:

The Palace
Peterborough
15 March [1916]

My darling Ralph

Thanks for your letters – & your news – but we long to hear what & where your next move will be.

I have written by each “bag” every week, & I can’t understand if & why you have not had a letter from me each time! Unless it is that Captain Kellet does send every letter as well as General Callwell used to do! I wonder what is to be done with General Callwell & if he will want to get you for his work somewhere?…

Lady Mary was busy with her own war work, not to mention a feud with a rival Red Cross branch.

March 15, 1916
The Palace
Peterborough

My own darling and blessing

This has been a bad week for me and there has been nothing but futile fuss, perhaps – but fuss! And I have had no leisure. Meg went to London on Thursday, and was away one night in London, and all Friday I was at the Rest Room seeing to Canteen worries…

I went to see Colonel Collingwood who has seen your reappointment as GSO General Staff vice [under] Captain Loyd, & he was much excited and wanted to know what it meant. I could only say I supposed some redistribution of work at the end of your previous work of all this winter. But it set me thinking and this week with the news of Verdun always in one’s head, with the rumours always in every paper of German naval activity, and of the mines everywhere, one knows that one needs to have a stout heart for a stae brae….
The Rest Room is crowded out some days with the troops moving about, and we had over 1100 last month. We have a splendid hand of workers night and day.

Any my Red Cross Room is such a joy – it was quite full last night and I have enough money to go on, but must soon get more; the material is very expensive, & the County Association (now definitely under Sir Edward Ward) gives no grants to these private Rooms. The Town depot now “under the War Office” and having a pompous Board announcing its connection with the British Red Cross & the “Northampton Red Cross (??)” has collected 680 pounds, and intends to get 1000£ in order to sit upon all BRC work. Not sent to the War Office – to be distributed by them, & not by our Headquarters, 83 Pall Mall. It is from here quite incomprehensible when one knows how these people have behaved, & the lies they have told to cover up the defects of their organization, but I suppose Sir Edward had to level up all sorts of abuses & get the whole into his hand before any order could be restored. And the BRC did not organize its work in time. Now the Central Work Rooms have had to move from Burlington House to 48 Gros: Square & they have taken that big corner house for six months.

Sir George Pragnell’s death has been a blow, as I felt safe behind him from further attack – but the Stores Manager at 83 is so delighted with the work we have now sent up that our position will be assured. Another enemy – not me – quashed!

It is a complication that the Lady Doctor who is our splendid and most efficient Superintendent is expecting to add to the population! (more…)

Only part of the church has been insured against air raids

A Reading vicar encouraged parishioners to pray for the Armenian victims of genocide in Turkey.

Contributions are still urgently needed towards the fund for protecting our churches and buildings in the parish against possible attacks from hostile Air-craft. As the Rector I have already insured the Chancel of S. Mary’s, but the Nave is not yet insured. I hope all parishioners may be able to send some donation, however small, to the Treasurer of their particular Church.

We are trying to carry out loyally the new lighting, or rather darkening orders in our Churches, and it is to be hoped our efforts have been successful.

Intercessions
1. For the persecuted Armenians.
2. For success to be granted this year to the various operations of the Allies.
3. For the preservation of our country from hostile air-craft.
4. For unity of will and purpose amongst the people of our nation and Empire.

Reading St Mary parish magazine, February 1916 (D/P98/28A/13)

“A crime which in scale and horror has probably no parallel in the history of the world”

The ethnic cleansing and mass slaughter of Armenians in Turkey shocked the west.

ARMENIAN REFUGEES (LORD MAYOR’S FUND)

In accordance with the expressed desire of the Archbishop of Canterbury, it is to be hoped that on Sunday, February 6th (5th Sunday after Epiphany) Intercessions may be made in the churches on behalf of the Armenian and Assyrian peoples in their dire extremity – for those brought to degradation and slavery or left without protection or support in Turkey, for those who are refugees in the Russian Caucasus and elsewhere; and also that collections may be taken, wherever possible, for the relief of these survivors of Turkish barbarity.

The Archbishop’s Appeal is as follows:

THE PRIMATE’S APPEAL

“The massacre of Armenian and Assyrian Christians in the Turkish Empire is a crime which in scale and horror has probably no parallel in the history of the world, and the sufferings baffle description which are now being endured by the rapidly dwindling number of hunted and persecuted survivors. To these people in their dire distress Christian aid should flow ungrudgingly. In many churches arrangements are already being made for collections on their behalf on Sunday, February 6th, and I venture to hope that on that or one of the succeeding Sundays there may be a wide-spread effort to alleviate distresses which are literally unspeakable. The money should be sent to the Secretary of the Armenian Refugees (Lord Mayor’s) Fund, 96, Victoria Street, Westminster, SW.”

Note: The collections on Sunday, February 6th in St Peter’s Church will be given to the above fund.

Earley St Peter parish magazine, February 1916 (D/P191/28A/23/1)

How can we be calm in days like these?

A sermon preached by the Revd W. Britton as he began his ministry at St John’s, Reading, on Sunday evening, January 9th, 1916, impressed parishioners enough to reprint in the parish magazine.

I come tonight to give you a message at a time like this when this people of England undoubtedly is faced by a great danger and by a great difficulty. He that denies we are compassed about by danger and difficulty and that our future is going to be no easy future dwells in a fool’s paradise. We live in dangerous days and difficult. This empire which has been built up by our fathers is being tried and tested in these days of their sons.

What does this empire most need? I say without any hesitation that the greatest need of this empire today is that her sons and daughters should be tranquil people, calm people, not flurried, not flustered, not uneasy; calm because strong, strong because they have faith, strong and able to strengthen their brethren. Those are the men we want, at home as well as abroad. Men who are not intimidated by danger, men who are not cast into abysses of despair because plans miscarry, and armies have to be withdrawn; men who meet disaster with unruffled composure and repair mistakes – mistake after mistake if need be; men who move forward in loyal and unflinching obedience to their leaders, and in a trust which never falters in the justice of their cause and the certainty of its ultimate triumph. We have such men in our ships upon the seas.

I have had this text, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength”, often on my mind these last few weeks. It rarely comes without this thought – that in that great Navy, which does its work so quietly, with so little fuss and with such great efficiency, we have almost its best example. These men are efficient, and they are confident; they have a certain faith in the speed of their ships, in the great range of their guns; they have a certain strength and faith in their own efficiency for every call which shall come. They are strong, they are confident; they know something, that is why they are strong.

We have such men on the seas, in the trenches, in the air. But look at home. Have we got such men in our editorial chairs; have we got such men representing every constituency in Parliament? Are there such men in the streets; are the men as they chatter in the clubs such men as these? it is not confidence, it is not strength that bubbles out in indiscreet questions in Parliament; that gushes out in fatuous and foolish advice in the columns of our newspapers, or in peevish complaints in the mouth of the citizen….

You may say legitimately, “I am an uneasy sort of being, and I cannot help it. I have enough to make me uneasy. My boys are out in the Dardanelles; my business is in the worst of conditions; my home is even threatened; how can I be quiet with all this coming upon me?” Sir! There can be no quietness where there is no confidence; there can be no strength where there is no faith. But the finest tempered strength is bred of a certain conviction, a faith that our God lives and that he goes marching on. That is what we need if we are to be calm and strong. If you had such a conviction your friend who met you in the street might say, “Calm in days like these?” And you might answer, “I am calm, quiet, tranquil, because I know something.” “O! you have got hold of some military secret, some great naval secret, some political secret.” “O no, it is not a secret I have got hold of… it is the eternal truth that God lives”… Though our foes roll up in ever increasing numbers, though Turkey be added to Germany and Austria, though Bulgaria adds itself to them…

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