“It is appalling these awful losses, goodness knows where we find all the officers”

Two of Ralph Glyn’s fellow officers wrote to him with their opinions on the war.

June 20th [1916]
Dear Glyn

Very many thanks for your letter. I was very pleased to hear from you. Georgevitch has evidently done something to get himself into very hot water, I believe the question of decorations has something to do with it, anyhow he is absolutely shelved. You will have heard that a Colonel Nikolauivitch has been appointed Military Attache in London; it is just as well no one proposed Georgevitch for there, as he would have been refused. When they were discussing the question of who to send, they privately asked me & I suggested G, but was at once told that his name would not be entertained for a moment. I fear that there is nothing more that can be done for him. He got into trouble once before I understand over his treatment of his soldiers, & was for this reason only not with a battery in the Field Army.

It is appalling these awful losses, goodness knows where we find all the officers. Still one hopes on the whole the thing is going well though slowly.

I am glad to say I am better, though I have had a bit of [fun?] lately, everyone is having it too. [Hemlis?] & his division have left as you will have heard, most of them I believe going to help at Malta & elsewhere. The country is [illegible] fun from Typhus now, & there is a general air of cleanliness & sanitation about. All his troops practically are inoculated against Cholera.

My wife has been in the North all this time working up relief funds for Serbia, & has collected quite a lot of money; so anyhow you would not have had a chance of meeting her, thanks very much all the same. Things are very quiet here, but I am busy enough with wires & things the WO want. We were visited by 3 Austro-German aeroplanes the other day who dropped some bombs & made a lot of noise, but did not do much damage. We bagged one on its way back.
Wishing you the best of luck.

Yrs sincerely
Arthur Harrison

(more…)

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A year of horrors unimaginable, and the end not in sight

Across the county, the first anniversary of the declaration of war was solemnly commemorated with religious services.

At Mortimer West End, the services were dominated by the loss of two of its men who had given their lives.

Wednesday, August 4th, was the anniversary of the declaration of war by England, and we held a well-attended service in the evening of that day to pray about the past and the future. The service began with a Memorial for those who had fallen, remembering especially Captain Stephen Field, R.A.M.C., and Frank Goodchild, who went down on the “Good Hope.” Then we joined in intercession for our Rulers, our Army and Navy, and our Allies, the wounded and those tending them, and made an act of penitence for our national sins and shortcomings. The family of the late Captain Field has put up a memorial brass in the church bearing the following inscription:

“In loving memory of Captain Stephen Field, R.A.M.C., who died a prisoner in Germany, April 10th, 1915, aged 34. He was taken prisoner in the retreat from Mons while tending the wounded in a church. ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

The later news which has come shows that the text was true of Captain Field up to the very last, as he laid down his life attending to typhus patients in camp in the midst of appalling conditions.

If any parents should be summoned to France to see a son dangerously wounded (which God grant may not occur) will they communicate at once with the Vicar, who will put them in touch with an organization which will make things easier for them?

At Stratfield Mortimer:
August 4th
The anniversary of the outbreak of war was observed by large congregations at all the services, 7.45 a.m., 2.30 and 7.30 p.m. There was no preaching, only hymns and prayers, but there was impressive evidence of a deep reality and earnestness. And this we hope to see maintained at the two week-day war services throughout the autumn. We should like to see at these weekly services more of parents and friends of Mortimer men who are now at the Front.

All Saints’, Dedworth, reported:

August 4th, the anniversary of the Declaration of War, was kept as a day of solemn Intercession. There was, as far as possible, continual Intercession throughout the day, and Services at different hours. We were glad to see so many were able to take their part at sometime of the day. We hope these days help to make us realize the tremendous need there is for all to intercede humbly every day to God for our nation, our friends, and our foes.

Nonconformists took part as well as Anglicans. Maidenhead Congregational Church announced the town’s nonconformists’ contributions to the day:

A YEAR OF WAR!
It is a whole year since the world’s peace was broken up, and horrors unimaginable before have become our daily meat. And the end is not yet in sight. There are those who prophesy that the end will be as sudden and unexpected as the beginning, and that Christmas will see us settled down once more in ways of peace. Whatever happens, we are convinced that the Allies will not lay down their arms until their warfare is accomplished, and they have lost no jot of their conviction that their chivalrous and Christian struggle on behalf of a great cause will be crowned with a complete and satisfying victory. But it may be that vast sacrifices lie before us, and for those we shall need more and more the continual succours of grace of God. Fortitude must be fed and supported by faith.

We urge upon all our friends the duty of earnest and constant prayer. We ought to pray in private as well as in public services, that our soldiers and generals may be strong, and our rulers wise. We ought to pray for the Church, that it may be rich in counsel, and that it may guide the people to a more solemn faith in God. And we shall need to pray for ourselves, that our faith may not fail, however great the burdens may be that it may be called upon to carry.

A united meeting of the Free Churches of the town for Thanksgiving and Intercession has been arranged to be held in the Congregational Church on Wednesday, August 4th, the Anniversary of the outbreak of war, at 7.30 p.m. Rev. G. Ellis (the new Primitive Methodist Minister) will preside, and a brief address will be given by the Rev. G. D. Mason. We hope the faith and gratitude of Maidenhead Nonconformists will suffice to bring them together in large numbers, and that we shall renew and enlarge our trust in a ruling and guiding Will. Let us not dwell too much on the past, but let us think of our duty now, and let us set our hearts right before Him. When the nation is on its knees, the victory will arrive.

The minister of Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading, whose instincts were opposed to war in general, was less thrilled by the commemorations, although he allowed his congregation to take part in the town’s services.

Wednesday August 4th will see the first anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War. War is not a thing that we rejoice in. Rather do we deplore the necessity for such a dire calamity. But we are in it – righteously, as we believe – and, God helping us, we are determined to see it through to a victorious conclusion. That is the thought that is animating the vast majority of our countrymen at this time, and a demonstration to give it expression on August 4th is now being organised by the Mayor…

Personally I cannot say that I am enamoured of processions and demonstrations at such a time as this; but that is neither here nor there. The thing I do rejoice in is that the religious element is to be prominent in the proceedings, and I hope my friends will help to make it and keep it so. In this connection I desire to draw attention to the United Service (arranged by the Executive Committee of the Free Church Council) which is to be held in our church that day at 5 p.m. Several of the Free Church ministers of the town will take part, and our organist and choir have promised their help. I trust we may see the church crowded for that service.

St John’s Church in Reading reported its own services and the interdenominational town ones:

Wednesday, August 4th, the anniversary of the Declaration of War, was observed among us principally as an occasion for earnest intercession. We began the day with a Celebration of Holy Communion at 5.30 a.m., at which there were 31 communicants, most of whom were on their way to work. At 10.30 a.m. we had a second Celebration, with an address by the Vicar. The hour of this service was fixed with a view to giving mothers an opportunity to come and pray for their sons at the Lord’s own service, and the number that came shewed how greatly they valued the opportunity. It was indeed a wonderful service, and will live long in the memories of those privileged to take part in it.

Later in the day, after Evensong in St Laurence’s Church, attended by the Mayor and Corporation, there was a great procession, in which all the public bodies in the town were represented, ending up with a demonstration in the Market Place, at which, after a short religious service, stirring addresses were delivered by Bishop Boyd-Carpenter and the Lord Chief Justice. St John’s Church was open from 8.30 onwards, and we ended the day with Family Prayers in Church, at which a large number of worshippers were present, thus ending the day as we had begun it – in prayer.

Churches in the Winkfield area also commemorated the anniversary of the war’s start.

ASCOT

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4th, the Anniversary of the Declaration of War, was observed in our Church, as in almost every Church throughout the land, as a day of Intercession before Almighty God in the spirit of deep penitence and true humility. We are thankful to be able to say that the chain of intercession was never allowed to be broken throughout the whole day. The great service of intercession, the Holy Eucharist, was offered at 8 a.m. and at 10.30 a.m.; and some of the grand old Offices of the Church were said: Sext, None, and Compline. The large attendance at all the services was something to be thankful for. It proved that our people have a sincere belief in the power of intercessory prayer and are willing to make an effort to do at least this much for our soldiers and sailors. But it also proved that mane more might, by a little sacrifice in the re-arrangement of their time, attend the Intercession Service which is held every Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. “Orare est laborare” – “to pray is to work,” and intercession for our men is a very important work in which we can all do our share, if we will.

CRANBOURNE

We were very unfortunate as regards the weather in our open air services of Intercession, four of them had to be abandoned owing to the rain. The Intercessions Services on the Anniversary of the Declaration of War were very well attended.

WINKFIELD

The special Services on August 4th were well attended, especially in the evening when we had a full Church; and the congregations were also large on the Sunday following. The anthem, “Lord for thy tender mercies sake,” being well rendered on both morning and evening.

Our thanks are due to the members of the C.E.M.S., who distributed notices of these services, which work was especially valuable in view of the notices in the Magazine being somewhat belated owing to its late issue this month.

Second Lieutenant Wilfred Loyd has just gone to the Front and will we trust be remembered in our prayers.

We are glad to be able to add two more names, Jack Dear and James Winnen to the list of Winkfield men serving, which was printed last month.

We regret to learn that Private R. Nickless has been wounded after having been at the Front only a few days. He has undergone an operation as is now progressing favourably.

The Vicar has sent a copy of the August Magazine to every man whose name is on the list published in that number.

WARFIELD

WAR ANNIVERSARY.- On August 4th there were two early celebrations of Holy Communion at 6.30 and 8, and though a week-day there were thirty communicants. The best attended service however was the open-air service held at Newell Green at 7 p.m. The Choir vested at the Brownlow Hall and preceded by the Processional Cross and followed by the Warfield Scouts made their way to the Cross Roads, where the service was begun by the singing of the National Anthem, followed by a short address by the Vicar on penitence and prayer, after which the hymn “Lord teach us how to pray aright,” was sung; prayers were offered for every Warfield belligerent by name.

The Vicar then asked all present to come up to the Church and to walk in couples and maintain strict silence while Church Litany was recited in procession. Just before reaching the Church the old Hundredth was sung; the service in Church was that sanctioned for use on the first Sunday in the year. The congregation which came in the procession numbered about three hundred. We thank God for His good hand upon us and for the great number whose hearts were touched and whose lips were opened on this solemn day.

The vicar of Warfield planned an open air service to commemorate the first anniversary of the war’s start.

THE VICAR’S LETTER.

MY DEAR FRIENDS AND PARISHIONERS,

Wednesday, August 4th, ought to be a very solemn day for all of us this year, being as you know the Anniversary of the Declaration of War. A great example is being set to us all on that day by our King and Queen Mary by their intention to be present at a solemn Service of Intercession in St. Paul’s Cathedral at noon. What are we going to do? Let the King be represented by all his subjects in Warfield, and St. Paul’s represented by our own Parish Church. The hour of noon be substituted by 7 p.m. Let us have a united open-air service at the Crossways at Newell Green. The National Anthem will be sung, a short address will be given. All our village soldiers will be prayed for by name. The Litany will be recited on our way to Church, where the service will conclude with the special service used on the first Sunday of this year. The Holy Communion will be celebrated that morning at 6.30 and 8.

Anyone who is absent on such an evening I should feel was ashamed of his country, and deserved no blessing from God. Let us all be united about it, and come not in tens but in hundreds and not be afraid to confess the mighty working of God in our midst. This can be done and I want you all to say that it must be done. Let us confess our God and cry mightily to Him. I ask every parishioner to do his or her utmost to bring their neighbours. London has set us all an example, let the country do her part, and may God lift up your hearts to seek His great and abundant blessings in the coming year.

Yours affectionately in Christ,
WALTER THACKERAY.

More privately, the Community of St John Baptist held its own services at the House of Mercy, Clewer.

4 August 1915
Anniversary of our declaration of war with Germany. The Penitents were present at the 7 a.m. Eucharist. War Litany was said by one of the priests at 12; & at Evensong there were special prayers, hymns, & the National Anthem.

Florence Vansittart Neale went with a friend to attend the big national service at St Paul’s.

4 August 1915
Up by early train with Mary Hine to London for the service at St Paul’s! 1st year of war over! Long wait. Nice service. Artillery band. Royalties there. Over by 1. We missed 2 o’clock train so had lunch, came down 3.45. Church after.

Bubs’ men had motor drive & tea at Henley.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P120/28A/14); Clewer parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P39/28A/9); Maidenhead Congregational Church magazine, August 1915 (D/N33/12/1/5); Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, August 1915 (D/N11/12/1/14); Reading St John parish magazine, September 1915 (D/P172/28A/24); Winkfield District Monthly Magazine, August 1915 (D/P151/28A/7/8); CSJB Annals (D/EX1675/1/14/5); Diary of Florence Vansittart Neale (D/EX73/3/17/8)

“Primitive and different” in the Balkans

A friend of Ralph Glyn’s was following in his footsteps in Serbia.

88 Ebury St
SW

14th July, 1915
Dear Mr Glyn,

I am just home from Serbia where I have been for the last 3 months – an interesting time at Belgrad [sic]! Everywhere I heard much of you – even once when I fussed about a particularly dirty looking bedroom in the Olympos at Salonika I was assured that it must be the best they had, as it had had the honour of being occupied by you. Even so far as Nish and Belgrad [sic] I used to hear people discussing the young officer who was “very much not married” as they put it!!

Other more serious people told me of the splendid work you did. I always told you that you would succeed, didn’t I? May I congratulate you and offer you my best wishes for its continuance and your safety through this beastly war.

I’m going back to the Balkans almost at once and expect to be out there until the war is over. The spirit of unrest entered into my soul a long time ago and I cannot settle anywhere for long….

The Balkans are interesting in that they are primitive and different and I like the language; also I’ve learnt a lot about medicine, which I always wanted to do but couldn’t. I saw Typhus at its worst in a hospital, of which I have been acting as secretary, within 100 yards of the Austrians, and now I’m anxious to get back before the line gets closed or cut. The Germans have sent about 60,000 to Comlin to strengthen the Austrians there, which looks like another walk through Belgrad [sic].

Do write sometime and tell me such of your doings as are not government property.

Yours
AEM

Letter from “AEM” to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C31/9)

Dreadful conditions in Serbia

One little known aspect of the First World War is the terrible epidemic of typhus which devastated our ally Serbia. William Hunter (1861-1937), the British doctor and fever specialist who was in charge of tackling the disease, was an family friend of the Glyns, and was surprised to run into Ralph in Serbia.

15 March 1915

My dear Ralph

I did not know the last time I saw you in Harley St that our next meeting or greeting would be – of all places – in this Heaven-forsaken and distressed land.

I am asking Colonel Harrison – our Secretary Attache here – to carry to you the letters contained herein – viz to Captain Fitzwilliams – RAMC Influenza officer at [Straela?].

I am out here as Colonel AMS in Comand of some 30 officers of the RAMC as a great Sanitary Corps sent out by the War Office to deal with the frightful problems presented in this country.

We arrived in Nish on Thursday the 4th inst, stayed there till Monday the 8th inst, interviewing all the Government Officials – from the Prime Minister downwards. Came on here to Hdquarters with my Major a week ago – brought up the other officers here last Thursday; and have during this past week been fearfully busy, amid all kinds of uncomfortable conditions, preparing our plans of operations for the whole Serbian Armies, to which we are attached.

Our stores arrive in a day or two, but already we have been able to decide – & our recommendations have enabled the Serbian Authorities to decide on the plan of operations to deal with the frightful epidemic now prevailing.

Will you tell my dear wife how things are in this country?

Will you also try to se Captain Fitzwilliams at Malta, & ask him to see that the ‘food stores’ we have ordered are sent out at once. We want them very badly.

During the last 10 days we have indeed “gelebt und gelutten”. But things are straitening [sic] out, as the result of continuous pressure.

My Headquarters will be here – with my stores & laboratories, while the larger part of the Corps of officers are going forward, elsewhere.

It’s a great fight we have to put up – against dreadful conditions of disease – & we can only aim to do our duty: against all odds, whatever they may be. No such problem of infection has ever been presented to any body of men in modern history.

I asked Mrs Hunter specially to write to Lady Mary, telling her of my mission – on which I was despatched with some 3 days’ notice, and I little knew that you had gone before.

I hope you are very well – and that you will call on my dear wife & tell her that, in spite of all difficulties, things are moving.

With all good wishes.

Yours ever sincerely
Wm Hunter

Letter from William Hunter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C31/4)