A cordial “welcome home”

Reading soldiers were coming home.

We have been glad to see Lieutenant W. D. Hart, MC, once more in his old place in the choir, and we give him a cordial “welcome home”.

We also give cordial welcome to the other brethren restored to us during the past month by the demobilization. We have been glad to see once more in our midst:

Lieut. Wilfred Beer, Private G. S. Hampton, Sergeant E. C. Dracup, Lance-Corporal A. E. Hawkins, Corporal R. S. Woolley, Corporal A. Butt, Private F. W. Snell, Private E. R. Robertson, Gunner A. G. Walker, Private V. Mace, and Private A. W. Panting.

Reading Broad Street Congregational Magazine, March 1919 (D/N11/12/1/14)

A year of real pleasure, and a great boon to the men

The hospitality offered at Broad Street Church to the wounded and soliders in training continued.

SOLDIERS’ WELFARE

A meeting of the Soldiers’ Welfare Committee was held in the Institute Room on Monday, October 21st, when a large number of the workers attended. The President (Rev. W. M. Rawlinson) occupied the chair, and in a short speech expressed his feeling of profound indebtedness to all the helpers for their loyal and devoted service throughout the year just ended. He made special reference to the untiring and self-denying labours of the Hon. Secretary (Mr W A Woolley), and his remarks in this connection were cordially endorsed by all present.

The secretary read his report of work done, and the Hon. Treasurer (Mr W J Brain) submitted a financial statement which showed that after paying the ordinary expenses, there was a balance in hand to meet certain other outstanding liabilities. The report and financial statement were both adopted, and attention was then given to a number of suggestions for the better working of our Khaki Club.

We give below a few extracts from the secretary’s report:

“We opened the rooms on October 15th, 1917, and they have been open every day since, except on three occasions: Good Friday, Easter Monday and the day of the Garden Sale. Very few of us thought, when we opened, that we should keep open so long; but the need has been great, and as far as I can see, it will be a long time yet before we can think of closing it down. The large numbers of men and women using the rooms prove, without doubt, that they appreciate being able to come in every day.

Our first week’s takings amounted to £13.13s, and gradually the figures increased until we reached the very satisfactory sum of £41.12.2d. That was one week in January last. Then in February the new regulations were put into force by the Military, and our takings went down immediately to £18, and for one week in May we only took £8.11s.10d.

This went on until August. Since then we have been allowing the men to buy a little more food, and we are now taking £23 to £25 per week.

The wounded especially attend in large numbers during the afternoons, and steps must be now be taken to increase the number of helpers during that time. There is always plenty of work for 4 or 5 helpers every afternoon.

It will interest you to know that we have bought and distributed free, no less than 17,000 envelopes and 14,000 sheets of paper. This has cost us £14.10s. We have also sold over the counter postage stamps to the value of £51.2s.7 ½ d, which, of course, is without profit, but a great convenience to the men and women, especially after the Post Office is closed. The matches have been a great boon to the men, and we have sold over 14,200 boxes during the year.

In February last we received the splendid donation from our Church Choir of £25.9s.1d, which enabled us to pay a cheque to the church funds for coal, gas, etc, of £25.10s…

Every Sunday evening during last winter Khaki Socials were held, arranged by Mrs Dracup and Miss Green, and they were very well attended. We shall have to decide tonight whether we shall have the Khaki Socials again, or carry on as we are now doing…

I should like to express my personal thanks to all the Superintendents and helpers, who have put such whole-heartedness into the work, and by so doing obtained such a splendid result.

It has been a year of real pleasure to me to work with such a willing, capable and pleasant staff, everybody (not forgetting Mr Brain, Mr Rawlinson and the Caretakers) doing their very best for the common good of all.

The figures for the year include the following:

Sales £1,054.13s.0d
Donations £42.9s.1d
Total receipts £1.097.2s.1d

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

“In spite of dark hours of disappointment, all those on active service at home and abroad are looking for the dawn”

More and more men were being called up.

PERSONAL

The many friends of Cadet Douglas Baker, son of our esteemed Deacon, Mr Henry Baker, will be glad to hear that he has successfully passed all his examinations, and is now awaiting his commission as an officer in the RAF. We tender him our heartiest congratulations and good wishes. Our young friend has already several years of service to his credit, and a record of which he may justly feel proud.

We also desire to congratulate Sergeant C. S. Stebbings on his recent promotion. Sergeant Stebbings has served for more than 2 ½ years with the Royal Engineers in France, and he has just returned “on leave” with his three stripes. So far he has come through “safe and sound”. We earnestly hope that the like good fortune may be his in coming days.

Fred Warman writes very cheerily from his internment camp at Groningen, Holland. The supply of food, he tells us, is insufficient, but “by buying biscuits and chocolates, which are very dear, I manage to live fairly well and endeavour to keep up my health and strength.” He is learning to speak Dutch, and has made some good friends.

Private Gerald S. Hampton has been wounded in the right hand, and is now in a hospital at Warwick. We are not informed of the extent of his injury, but we hope it is not serious, and that he may have a speedy recovery.

SUNDAY SCHOOL NOTES

Our young friend, Mr Hedley Wyles, who for some time past has helped us as pianist in our morning school, has recently been called to the colours. We greatly regret this has become necessary, but our bets wishes go with him and we trust ‘ere long to have the pleasure of welcoming him back again safe and sound. Miss W. Quelch has very kindly undertaken to fill the post vacated by Mr Wyles.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

“O.A.S” [on active service]

It is a joy to receive letters from our Brothers abroad bearing this inscription, for right well we know they are on active service away on the battle fronts!

Whilst congratulating them on their sacrificial work out yonder, we at home are striving to deserve a similar title…

In spite of dark hours of disappointment, all those on active service at home and abroad are looking for the dawn, and with outstretched hand say to each other with faith and confidence:
“Hope on, the sun is rising, prepare for the coming day. God be with you till we meet again.”…

We are not forgetting our Brother on service. The number increases week by week, so that it has become almost impossible for Brother Woolley to write a personal letter to each member individually, so it is hoped that a special monthly message from the President with a reprint of these notes will be sent each month to brothers on service.

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

A manly sermon and modern religion

Sydney attended to the practical needs of his men while thinking about God.

Sydney Spencer
Sunday 12 May 1918

After a delicious night’s sleep in pyjamas on a semblance of a bed, I got up at 10 am! Wrote sundry letters. Made up my accounts. Went down & saw my platoon. They seemed very happy. Also to HQ Mess, settled wine account. After lunch got QM to change a cheque for 300 francs. Hence we have money again. Examined kits of platoon. Took them to a bath where they got change of clothes. Got their clothes and boots examined.

Tea & more letter writing. Heard from OB, Major Bracey, Field & Ruscoe. Got some money out of officers. Spent 47 francs on food for mess.

To evening service of YMCA. Christopherson, padre of Buffs, preached a manly sermon. Stayed to communion. About 60 men stopped. Had a talk with C afterwards. After dinner sat & talked ‘modern religion’ to Hervey & Rolfe.

Percy Spencer
12 May 1918

A wet day. But an eventful one because I have just heard my first shell since June last year. No connection, but the villagers are moving out in anticipation of Fritz’s attack, due originally on the 8th, next yesterday, & now fixed for the 14th.

Had a long chat with CO in the evening. CO told me forward HQ found my presence at Dept very useful. Major Woolley also wrote from England saying nice things about me. Another bad night owing to Bosch shelling & aircraft activity.

Diaries of Sydney Spencer, 1918 (D/EZ177/8/15); Percy Spencer (D/EX801/67)

A marvellous escape from an airship crash

Broad Street Church kept in contact with all its men who had joined up.

News has now been received from Air-Mechanic Fred W. Warman to the effect that he is interned at Croningen in Holland. He was acting as wireless-operator in the air-ship which came down there, and had a marvellous escape. We are glad to know that he writes in a bright and cheerful strain, and that he is trying to make the best of things.

Flight Sub-Lieut W. R. Taper of the RNAS has been appointed for duty in Malta. It has been a pleasure to see him frequently in our midst in recent weeks. The good wishes of many friends at Broad Street will go with him as he takes up his new duties.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

Brother Woolley has consented to continue his good services by acting as correspondent with our members on service. This [is] a quiet piece of work which is bound to have its good results when things are normal again.

THE ROLL OF HONOUR

The list of our men who have responded to the call of God and King and Country. (more…)

“Grateful appreciation of the remembrance”

Broad Street Church continued to support both their own men at the front, and the strangers stationed in Reading.

CHRISTMAS PARCELS
The members of the committee responsible for the sending of Christmas parcels to our men serving with HM Forces desire to thank the many friends who contributed, either in money, or kind, or both. Parcels were despatched to all the men connected with Church or Brotherhood in time to reach them before Christmas, and already many letters have been received expressing grateful appreciation of the remembrance. We hope to be able to give a few extracts from these letters in a subsequent issue.

SOLDIERS’ WELFARE COMMITTEE
Several of the ladies who are helping in connection with our work for the soldiers have expressed a desire to change their day for duty. In order that this might be possible, a new rota will be arranged in the early days of the New Year. Ladies wishing for a change are requested to communicate with either the Chief Superintendent (Mrs Tyrrell) or the Secretary (Mr W A Woolley) before January 10th. Any other ladies who would be willing to help in this admirable work are requested to give in their names by the same date. The hours of duty are from 2 to 5.30 in the afternoon, or from 5.30 to 9.30 in the evening.

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

“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)

The meaning of Christmas: ‘You won’t be afraid when your time comes to “go over the top”’

Members of Broad Street Church sent gifts to their friends at the front – and the minister had some special words of comfort for them this Christmas.

CHRISTMAS PARCELS

It has been decided to send once more a Christmas Greeting to men of the church and Brotherhood who are serving with HM Forces. Each man is to receive a small parcel as in previous years. As there are 150 men to be provided for this will involve considerable expense. Our friends are therefore asked for their generous help. The best way in which this could be given would be by gifts of money. But for those who prefer to contribute goods it is acceptable, viz: Woollen comforts, soap, candles, condensed milk, tobacco and cigarettes, towels, handkerchiefs, sweets in tins, sardines, note paper and envelopes. Mr C Dalgleish, Hollybush, Grosvenor Road, Caversham, has kindly consented to rceive gifts of money. Goods will be gratefully received by either Mrs Rawlinson, 50 Western Elms Avenue, or Mr W A Woolley, 85 Oxford Road.

THE MESSAGE OF CHRISTMAS TO OUR MEN AWAY

What has Christmas to do this year with you, or indeed with any of us? At first sight, little enough; but looking deeper, everything.
God did not create a humanity that was bound to go wrong, and then leave it. He is not “an absentee God, sitting idle, at the outside of His universe, and seeing it go.” There was only one way to fight the evil, and God – all Righteousness and all Love – took that. “O generous love! that he who smote in man for man the foe…” The Divine Personality was born a little child over nineteen hundred years ago. That was Christmas.

He began by obeying orders, doing irksome things that seemed unmeaning and useless, but doing them as long as they had to be done. Then he lived in self-sacrifice, giving Himself for others utterly. He was friend and healer and helper wherever there was need. He fought evil with good, and hate with love. He stood for right and justice against odds. So far as you follow Him, and do these things, that is Christmas for you.

The meaning of Christmas persists. Christ is alive and working now, more nearly present than He could be then, and what He was on earth he is still.
….
He is still the friend and helper, with you in all loneliness and need and temptation. It keeps you straight, often to remember the eyes waiting at home, expecting that yours will be able to smile squarely into them when you come back. You can’t go wrong when you remember His eyes expecting as much, but with the power, too, to quell any demon that attacks you. You have not to fight your battles alone. He is no myth. Reach out to Him in your extremity, and see whether He fails you. “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”

You won’t be afraid to leave your home people in His care, knowing that He cares for them as much as you do – as they have the harder task of leaving you. Every Sunday, and how many times between, they and we think of you, and pray for His care of you – in the trenches, or in the air, or in the sea; in hospitals or in camps; in far lands or in the home country; in drudgery or in danger.

You won’t be afraid when your time comes to “go over the top” (at the end of a long life, as we trust), seeing that the Friend with whpm you have lived and who you have trusted so long, is waiting out there for you, in that life which He left to come to your help.
All this is what Christmas means for you.

In connection with the Church, Christmas parcels are being sent to our Brothers in the Forces as before, and a “collection in kind” will have been taken by the time these notes are in print, and another in money will be asked for on December 2nd.

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

“I could not say there was accommodation enough for a pig (much less a man) anywhere except in the cellars of ruined houses”

Civilians in wartorn northern France and Belgium suffered terribly due to the war.

Movement in Reading in aid of the Relief of Sufferers by the War in France and Belgium.

Friends at Trinity will no doubt be interested to know that a movement in the above direction has been initiated by the Reading Broad Street Brotherhood. The objective is to supplement the efforts now being made in other towns and in the colonies, and in continuation of efforts already made which have abundantly testified to the Christian sympathy which exists towards those who have suffered so acutely through no fault of their own. A relief fund of £20,000 is contemplated, a very large part of which has already been subscribed by Canadians, by London and other cities, towards which also many small towns have contributed nobly and generously.

It is supposed that the good lead of Basingstoke with its generous promise of £100 in cash, besides clothing, &C., Reading will not wish to be excluded from taking part.

It is proposed to collect both in cash and kind, as in some of the large townships in France (Lille in particular, which is the Manchester of France), the civil population – men, women and children – are in rags, not having had any opportunity of purchasing clothing and boots for 2.5 years (since the German occupation).

Clothing (cast-off and new) will therefore prove most acceptable, also boots.

Those who have seen tell us that the homes of the people in the country towns and villages are ruined-walls broken and roofs fallen. A witness on the spot says:

“In a large town it was my orders to report how many houses were fit for billeting British soldiers, and after visiting with a comrade every house in the place (about the size of Reading) there was not a single house with an unbroken roof, and I could not say there was accommodation enough for a pig (much less a man) anywhere except in the cellars of ruined houses such as I and my comrades occupied.”

Wood houses are already being prepared in sections in this country to be despatched to Northern France and Belgium directly the way opens-facilities having been promised for this purpose as soon as possible by our own Government. A wood house thus prepared can be erected by a few men within a day of arrival, and it cost would be about £40. Seed for gardens, food, flour, blankets, &c will also be despatched.

Interested readers can secure further information by sending two penny stamps to the national Brotherhood Offices, 37, Norfolk Street, London, W.C., when they will be supplied with a pamphlet entitled “The Story of Lille, and its associations with the Brotherhood Movement,” and which describes the Brotherhood Crusade of 1909 A.D. and the practical relief already given.

Locally, every Church, adult School, and Christian Society in Reading will later on be invited to join hands with the Relief Committee connected with Broad Street Men’s Brotherhood, the secretary being Mr. A. Woolley, 85, Oxford Street, Reading.

Further information may also be obtained from J. Harper, “Chelmarsh,” 42, Crown Street, Reading.

Trinity Congregational Magazine, October 1917 (D/EX1237/1)

Dandelions and devastation

Members of the Broad Street Brotherhood, the men’s group at Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading were supporting the war effort in whatever ways they could; and also helping civilians in the devastated occupied regions. Regional rivalry came into play, with the men not wanting to show up poorly in comparison with Basingstoke.

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

Some of our members have intimated a desire to start a War Savings Association in connection with our Brotherhood, similar to what is being done at other Brotherhoods and churches up and down the country.

The matter has been carefully considered by a small sub-committee, and it is felt that it is hardly necessary to open a fresh savings department, but any member can purchase these War Savings Certificates through our already existing Savings Bank.

We most strongly recommend these war savings certificates to the earnest attention of every member as not only are they financially sound, but each one purchased is directly helping our country to victory.

Brother Hendey will be pleased to give particulars and carry through any transaction.

We take this opportunity of thanking many of our brothers who have during the past months loyally and painstakingly worked to keep the allotments in order for the brothers who are at the Front.

This has been a fine example of practical brotherhood work.

It is our sad duty to have to record the death of our Brother Frank Ward, who made the supreme sacrifice for us in France just recently.

He is the fourth member of our Brotherhood who has given his life for his country.

BROTHERHOOD CONTINENTAL RELIEF

Our constituency will no doubt be interested in the movement in Reading in aid of sufferers by the war in France and Belgium, which has been initiated by the Broad Street Brotherhood.

Their object is to supplement the efforts now being made in other towns, and in the colonies (and in continuation of efforts previously made) to express the Christian sympathy which exists towards those victims who, although innocent, have suffered acutely through the war. The National Brotherhood Council are aiming at a contemplated relief fund of £20, 000, a very large part of which has already been subscribed. The Brotherhoods of Canada have sent large sums, as well as London and the great centres of industrial life in England. It is believed that Reading will not want to take second position to Basingstoke, where the generous promise of £100 in cash, besides clothing, books, etc, has been made. It is proposed to collect both in cash and kind.

In several of the large townships of Northern France and Belgium the civil population is in rags. For instance Lille (the Manchester of France), having been in the occupation of Germany for 2 ½ years, has had no chance whatever of providing her people with clothing, even if they had the means to purchase. Clothing, boots (cast off or new), seeds, blankets, or anything of portable, useful and lasting character will be acceptable, and later on fruit trees.

A witness on the spot (Near the Somme) says “the fruit trees, large and small, are ruined; but little remains of pleasing appearance except dandelions, and they cover desolation almost everywhere.” A large town (about the size of Reading) had not a roof left whole upon any one building. In a report given to headquarters he said there was no accommodation for men whatsoever (not even for a pig) except in the cellars of ruined houses, such as he then lived (slept) in personally.

The country people, who crowded into the towns, had to hurriedly vacate their homes which were in the path of the then advancing enemy, and could only carry what they stood upright in. They have had no chance, many of them, since to return; and if they had done so they would have found (as some did) that not a tree in the garden, not a vestige of furniture or other property, and a ruin of the actual building. The writer of the foregoing testimony says that for 9 weeks he never saw a civilian (man, woman or child) although frequently on the move, and for long distances.

Wood houses are being prepared in sections in this country for the purpose of being despatched to Northern France and Belgium directly the way opens, and facilities for this purpose have been promised by the governments of Great Britain and France as soon as possible. A wood house thus prepared can be erected by a few men, within a day, upon arrival at its destination, and its total cost would be about £40. Who will buy one for “La belle France”?

Interested readers can secure further information by sending two penny stamps to The National Brotherhood Offices, 37 Norfolk Street, London WC2, when they should ask for a pamphlet entitled “The story of Lille and its associations with the Brotherhood Movement”. This pamphlet describes the Brotherhood Crusade of 1909 AD and the practical relief already given. Locally, every church, adult school and Christian Society in Reading will be asked later on to join hands with the relief committee connected with Broad Street Men’s Brotherhood, whose secretary, Mr WA Woolley, 85 Oxford Road, Reading, is associated with Bros Mitchell, Hendey and Harper in this great work.

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, September 1917 (D/N11/12/1/14)

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)

“I often wonder why I joined up”

Many young men who before the war had belonged to the Broad Street Brotherhood Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Society, a semi-religious social group connected with the Congregational Church in the centre of Reading, kept in contact with their old friends.

GREETINGS AND APPRECIATIONS

We give below a few extracts from the letters received during the last week or two, from members of the Brotherhood. The many Broad Street friends, who, by their generosity, made possible the sending of the Christmas parcels will find these notes interesting. The letters are so good, and so full of appreciation an thanks, that it has been difficult to make the selections. The “O.S.” means “On Seervice”.
W A Woolley

Thank you for the splendid letters of comfort. It does me good to know I have such faithful friends in the P.S.A. I shall be glad, when we have defeated our enemy, and settled down again, to take up the same old seat at Broad Street as before the war.
H. J. R. – “O.S.”

Thanks for letters and parcels from the Broad Street friends. It is very kind of you all to think of us soldier boys. Please convey to the Brothers my best wishes. Though some distance away, I always remember the meetings at the Brotherhood on Sunday afternoon, and I think of the good times spent at Broad Street. Kindest regards.
E. G. – “O. S.”

It’s nice to think one is not forgotten, although as a member I never took a prominent part. It was very good of the Presidents, and you, to write to me. But there! – what does the Brotherhood stand for, if not for mutual and spiritual help to its members, even though we are sometimes apart. This is my first Christmas away from home, and receiving that parcel and letters has done me more good than many a sermon.
A. C. E. – “O.S.”

I want to wish you all at the Brotherhood a happy Christmas; and I hope the New Year will be brighter than the past. I am thinking of the happy times spent with the choir. I trust you at home will spare a thought for those who are on active service, and those doing garrison duty in foreign lands.
H. J. M – “O.S.”

I shall be unable to answer my name at the “Roll Call”, as duty still calls. I hope you will have a jolly good time. I often think of the helpful times I have spent at the P.S.A., and am looking forward to the time to be back with you again. Best wishes for continued success.
E.G.B. – “O.S.”

Many thanks for letters and parcel received safely. Everything in the parcel was a soldier’s want. Am so glad you thought of me. It makes the Brotherhood more real than ever I thought it. I shall never forget the happy expressions in the letters.
W. P. – “O.S.”

I hardly need say how very pleased I was to get your welcome letters and parcel. I shall carry the letters about with me, to help keep me cheerful and bright. No! I cannot be with you on January 2nd, but shall be thinking of you all. I have been “out here” fifteen months, and have seen some heart-rending sights, and have been among some stupefying scenes and horrors. But thank God I am quite as well as when I left you all. With my kindest regards to you all.
H. E. – “O. S.”

Deeply regret being unable to be at the “Roll Call”. Thanks for letters and parcel. It is nice to think that while away, one is not forgotten. Give my best wishes to the brothers, also to the Chairman and Mr Rawlinson.
E.S. – “O. S.”

Best thanks for the Brotherhood letters, and also that part of the parcel which was the result of the members’ generosity. Sorry I shall not be present AT “Roll Call”. May all your efforts result in a great fillip to the Brotherhood movement. The Brotherhood ideals carried out consistently and thoroughly will go a tremendous long way towards minimising the awful effects of this war. With best wishes to all.
C. A. G. – “O. S.”

I am in France so cannot be with you to shout “Here”. Shall be thinking of you all on January 2nd. I have been a soldier just twelve months. I often wonder why I joined up, fighting being quite contradictory to my belief; but I came to the conclusion that to come out here, and share the burden of my fellows, is sufficient argument in my favour for doing so. Many thanks for kind wishes contained in letters. Hope you will all have a happy time.
E. C. P. – “O. S.”

Just a line to thank you for the letters and parcel. The garments were very useful indeed, and I put them on at once. The text on the card enclosed in parcel was “When the outlook is bad, look up”. It seemed to cheer me up, because at the time there was a lot of shelling going on. I hope you will have a good time at the “Roll Call”, and a happy New Year. Greetings to you all.
W. L. – “O. S.”

Just a card from France to wish you a Happy New Year. I wish it would bring Peace on Earth. I wish the Brotherhood could finish this awful war. Hope to be with you when I get my leave. Best wishes to all,
B. M. – “O. S.”

BROTHERHOOD NOTES

The first Sunday in the New Year [2 January] was a red letter day in the history of our Society; for on that day we held our first “Roll Call”… No less than 227 brothers personally answered to their names, whilst 44 (23 of whom were on active service) sent written greetings.

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

That dread word “missing”

Broad Street Church in Reading continued to care about its men who had gone to war.

November 1915

We desire also to express our sympathy with the relatives and friends of our brother, Trooper G P Lewis, of the Royal Berks Yeomanry. Mr Lewis has been a member of our church for some years. He was one of the first to respond to the call of his country in August 1914. He has been reported “missing” in the Dardanelles, for some weeks. We can imagine what that dread word “missing” means to his loved ones, and we tender them our affectionate sympathy.

News reached Reading a few days ago that Private Reginald S Woolley, son of our friends Mr and Mrs W A Woolley, 85 Oxford Road, had been seriously wounded “somewhere in France”. It is a pleasure to be able to report that our young friend is now making good progress towards recovery, and hopes before long to be home on sick leave. We congratulate his parents upon this relief from their anxiety, and we hope that their natural desire to have their son home may soon be realised.

The call for recruits for the army and navy is sadly depleting our ranks in the Sunday School, and there is the possibility of further loss in the near future…

Talking of recruits reminds me that eight more names have been added to the church section of our Roll of Honour.
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Because we pray, a bullet may miss

As the war continued, the members of Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading renewed their prayers for their friends who had joined up. Interestingly, one detects here a little scepticism in the veracity of the legend of the Angel of Mons.

PRAYER AND SAFETY

“In Jesus’ keeping
We are safe and they”

The editor has again very kindly invited me to send him a few lines for our magazine, and whilst wondering what they should be, the above quotation from one of our well known hymns came to my mind.
The thought should be, I think, very helpful to us in these most trying days providing we do, as we might, really and truly believe it.

I take it that practically everyone connected with us is thinking of our soldiers and sailors throughout each day, and of the dangers they have been facing so long, and are facing still, and also of the lesser dangers we at home are liable to meet with from overhead, from possible invasions and in other unexpected ways.

And as we “look up” at the beginning of every new day and commend the keeping of these brave fellows – an ever-increasing number – and especially those whom we know so well, to Almighty God, and when again the darkness falls, we repeat with added earnestness the prayer to our ever watchful Father Who never slumbers nor sleeps, I do think we feel the grace and beauty of those eight words. Are we not frequently being told by men who should know that the power of prayer is indeed wonderful? And some of us would very humbly say we have not the shadow of a doubt about it. Some day we may know that because you and I prayed, a bullet missed its object by a brief inch or two and a precious life was spared.

I cannot but make just a reference to the vision of angels seen at Mons and which undoubtedly many of our men there sincerely believed aided them and discomfited their foes, but I do place entire reliance in a very much older record, “the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him and delivereth them.”

HFA

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With our fellows facing death, we can’t enjoy a summer holiday

The minister of Broad Street Congregational Church in Reading didn’t think the summer holiday season could be enjoyed as usual. His mind, like many others, was on the men at the front.

MINISTER’S JOTTINGS
August is the great holiday month. Where there are any members of the family still at school this is inevitable. But people are not feeling like holidays in the ordinary sense this year. With so many thousands of our brave fellows facing death in the trenches and thousands of others working day and night in munitions factories and the like, one hesitates to mention the word holidays….

ROLL OF HONOUR
J P Anger, 33 Bartlett’s Cottages, 38th Co. Royal Engineers
D A Bacon, 301 London Rd, 9th Batt. Leicestershires
Douglas Baker, 196 King’s Road, 4th Royal Berks
W Russell Brain, Kendrick House
Horace Beer, 6 Lynmouth Rd, Royal Flying Corps
Frank Brown, 18 Gower St, Royal Marines LI
Fred Brown, 18 Gower St, 5th Midd. Army Reserve
Albert Butt, 111 Elm Park Rd, ASC
Harry Chandler, 7 Junction Rd, 4th Royal Berks
E C E Dracup, 6 Priory Avenue, 4th Royal Berks
Arthur Dyer, 43 Edgehill St, 4th Royal Berks
Oswald Francis, Southcote Rd West, Royal Military College, Sandhurst
Norman Hancock, c/o Messrs Hedgcock & Co
W F Harper, Surbiton, RAMC
A E Hawkins, 19 Liverpool Rd, Army Ordnance Corps
Arthur Hilliard, 60 Watlington St, 4th Royal Berks
Reginald Hilliard, 60 Watlington St, RAMC
G H Keene, 6 Manchester Rd, 1st Herts Regiment
G P Lewis, 23 Jesse Terrace, Royal Berks Yeomanry
Geo. E Maggs, 92 Southampton St, 8th Royal Berks
H Nott, 127 Southampton St, Staffordshires
A C Papps, c/p Messrs Hedgcock & Co, 4th Royal Berks
R Sanders, 158 Wantage Rd, Royal Berks Yeomanry
F Ward, 13 Westfield Rd, Caversham, 6th Royal Sussex
Reginald S Woolley, 85 Oxford St, 7th Norfolk Regiment

In Memoriam
Geo. Shearwood, 323 London Rd, New Zealanders

Brotherhood Members
E G Bailey, Norfolk Rd, 4th Royal Berks
T Bishop, 71 Mount Pleasant, National Reserves
C Bucksey, 10 Coldicot St, Berks Yeomanry
J Burgess, 40 Francis St, Royal Engineers
W Barrett, 29 Cranbury Rd, National Reserves
G Cranfield, 39 George St, 4th Royal Berks
W Cox, Temple Place, RHA
H Edwards, 8 Belle Vue Rd, ASC
Edward Gooch, 12 Stanley Grove, Berks Yeomanry
Bro. Goodyear, 100 Cumberland Rd, Royal Engineers
H T Hawting, 63 Upper Crown St, Royal Scots Fusiliers
J Hunt, 190 Kensington Rd, King’s Royal Rifles
W Lay, 5 Barnstaple St, 4th Royal Berks
W Lee, 3 Essex St, ASC
B Littlewood, 56 Newport Rd, Royal Engineers
V May, 219 Southampton St
C Mills, 23 Eldon Terrace, 8th Royal Berks
H Mills, 23 Eldon Terrace, Berks Yeomanry
H J Milner, 26 St Edward’s Rd, East Surrey Regiment
Bro. Parr, Royal Engineers
M Pounds, 34 Christchurch Rd, Berks RHA
H Richardson, 536 Oxford Rd, Royal Marines
H E Rolfe, 1 Garrard Square, Berks Yeomanry
C Smith, 116 Elgar Rd, 5th Royal Berks
W E White, 20 Highgrove Terrace, Royal Marines

Broad Street Congregational Church magazine, August 1915 (D/N11/12/1/14)