“God bless our wives and kids” – not the King

Should patriotism, and loyalty to the Crown, be mixed with religion? John Maxwell Image was sceptical – while his wife’s foray into pig keeping was a mixed success.

29 Barton Road
4 Aug. ‘18
Tres Cher

Before I forget, let me tell you a tale of Warren, the gardener we share with the Foster Coopers. He is minister of a Grantchester Chapel, and father of a Lieutenant in the Army, and is himself worthy of such exalted claims – but he turns out to be incapable of bloodshed. All the wives in Barton Rd (my own excepted) are allowed to keep rabbits and fowls… Under Warren’s hands the pigs would die of old age – but that we have arranged with Warrington, our butcher, for the execution, I believe, in October….

I doubt if die Madame [Mrs Smith] would entirely have approved of the blending of all denominations in the afternoon service today at St Mark’s (recently appointed our parish church). Florence was present and tells me that the lesson from Revelation was read by a Sergeant (and beautifully read, with all aspirates correct) who, as he turned away from the reading desk, subjoined “And may God add his blessing to the reading of his ‘Oly Word”. He was followed by a Trinity Cadet from the Front – a gentleman, and who probably had been some sort of missionary…

Are you affected by the singing of the National Anthem, now so usual in Church? But it upsets me. We were told that at the Front, when it is sung, the men never mention King George, but the words they sing are “God bless our wives and kids”. Is that true, I wonder?

I am, most fraternally, yours
Bild

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

Growls and Curses at food restrictions and profiteering

The Welsh Liberal politician David Thomas, newly created Viscount Rhondda (1856-1918), was in charge of the food rationing programme. Shortages were beginning to hit home, even at the lavish tables of Oxbridge colleges, while the government was encouraging communal feeding at National Kitchens.

29 Barton Road
6 Feb. ‘18
Right dear old man

Rhondda does his best to increase our discomfort. (Is he a Caius man, by the by?) There is a patriotic Mrs Goodchild, now at your Pepper’s Farm, who has taken a fancy to the Signora, and has permitted her to register for Butter. Mrs G is something of an authority in butter, and her uxorious spouse has just bought her a couple of £70 milch cows, for the better carrying out of her hobby: and great has been the press of University ladies to register with her – far more than she can accept. And so all was well. We confronted the future with peace – Then came a Rhondda ukase that all farmers must sell their butter to grocers, and the Public buy it nowhere except at a shop. More Profiteering! I had hitherto bought mine from an old lady, who sells vegetables from a cart, and possesses one cow – which by this time should be dry.

Growls and Curses. Perhaps they reached his lordship’s ears. For now we learn (so the Signora informs me) that He sanctions direct dealing with farmers and d— the Middleman.

But you should see the straits for Meat. One Sunday was Jointless. Warrington sent it on Monday instead. At the Trinity High Table there are two meatless days in the week: but they have choice fish then, turbot, larges soles, etc. 2 more, they have game and poultry – and 3, meat. But always they have as much in quantity, as many helps as you desire. Prof. Levis is my authority. I haven’t dined yet.

A communal kitchen has been started at Gresham College with cells in various parts of the town – one is near us, and Florence was appealed to, twice, to serve. The first time she refused: but on the second effort she offered to go each Monday, or, if herself prevented, to send Ann. (You remember Ann, who is a capital parlour maid.) “You won’t hear any more of that, Mrs Image”: said Mabel Lassetter. And she didn’t. This apparently is NOT the view of Rhondda, who deprecates any hint of charity or patronage, and wishes the kitchen to be called National, instead of Communal. And we hear that all ranks, Maids and Mistresses, are serving them in London. Florrie holds the like views, and she rubbed them in well, before she left.

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

Almost every available man has gone to this cruel war

Almost every man from Stratfield Mortimer and Mortimer West End who could realistically serve had answered the country’s call by June 1915, the parish magazine attested. Some had paid the ultimate price.

Men with the Colours

To the lists already published there should now be added: James Flitter and Harry White, K.R.R., Ernest Merrick, M.T., A.S.C., and Herbert West, Gunner R.F.A. The last named should have been on the original list; he is now, we regret to say, in hospital at Warrington, having been seriously wounded at Hill 60 in arms and legs during the first fierce fight for that position.

We cannot refrain from reprinting the following words of Mr. Raymond Asquith, the Prime Minister’s eldest son, on the subject of his training with the 16th City of London Regiment:

“We are trying very hard to fit ourselves in the shortest possible time to kill the largest number of Germans. After recent demonstrations of their ferocious and bestial cruelty, it must be most difficult for any man of suitable age and health to apply himself to any other purpose.”

West End

This cruel war is bringing home to us day by day the awful miseries and troubles which overtake the innocent as a result of the sins of men and nations. One of the very saddest ways in which our parish has come to learn it is in the death of Captain Field, and all our hearts go out in sympathy to his family, and especially to the mother, who through long months of wearing anxiety has given us an example of the pluck and courage which the mothers of England are showing everywhere to-day. It is a bitter end after being taken prisoner while tending the wounded. May his soul rest in peace and may we be given grace to follow his example in doing our duty to our neighbour and our country.

There are several names to be added to our Roll of Honour of those serving their King and Country and our parish may now be considered to have given up almost every available man.

Stratfield Mortimer parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P120/28A/14)