Launceston through the First World War 1917
1917: January, St Thomas: News of Service Men. One of the pleasures of the past month has been to meet Pte. R Dew, Cpl. CH Westlake and Gunner Wenmoth after valiant service on the Western Front, but Dew and Westlake had been sent out a long time looked remarkably well so long a time without furlough; Wenmoth’s time out was short but very thrilling; as a gunner in one of the “Tanks” Mr Wenmoth has the satisfaction of having taken part in an exploit that will not soon be forgotten. We are thankful to know that he has made a good recovery from his wounds. Cpl. Manning is still in hospital, he has sent me a large and interesting account of his experiences in the Balkans. Pte. F Edgcumbe, in a bad state of health, is in England and is now in hospital at Bristol. Pte. WH Nute has been wounded in France, he is now in hospital in Scotland. L/Cpl. JH Sleeman, who has been in hospital at the Base, has returned to duty. Cpl. GH Hicks sends Christmas greetings, also Pte. J Reed, who misses bell-ringing. Pte. FH Whale, writing home from France, sends many thanks for smokes, and adds “I am spending a first Xmas away from Home,” Thanks for cigs from Sapper W Hicks and Pte. WO Body, Sapper J Hillman, T Hillman, JC Worth, S Pearse, Ptes. T Browning, A Breyley, and L Breyley, and L Gale; Drivers Causeley and Cowling have been on leave.
1917 Lawhitton Lawhitton Working Party. A sum of £9. 15s. 2d. was collected in the parish this Autumn for material which our workers have made into comforts for service men in hospital and in the trenches. With the addition of gifts from others in the parish who supplied their own materials, we were able to send to Mrs Davey, on December 5th: 12 Shirts; 12 Bed Jackets; 11 Waistcoats; 126 Handerchiefs; 50 Trouser` Bags; 24 Knitted Washers; 22prs Socks; 18 prs. Bed Stockings; 26 Mufflers; 8 prs. Mittens; 7 prs Cuffs. Acknowledgments for these have been received as follows: From the Hon. Lady Hawley, Hon. Sec. Queen Mary’s Needlework Guild, Friary Court, St James Palace. Dec. 11, 1916:- “I am commanded by Her Majesty to convey to you the expression of her high appreciation of your generosity, and to thank you for the splendid gift which you have been so good as to send to the O.M.N.G..”
From the Hon. Sec. Holyrood Needlework Guild, Falmouth: “We sent all your woolies by post direct to France for the men in the trenches.” Dec. 12th. 1916.
1917, Broadwoodwidger; March. News of Service Men. We have been pleased to have Pte. Froude Burnett among us for a few days leave, before returning to the Front. He had had pretty well as much of the trenches as anyone since the War began.
1917 January. Stokeclimsland: 138 pairs of Socks (with a packet of cigarettes in each) were sent by the Red Cross Working Party to the Sailors and Soldiers from this parish. With the Twelve who have laid down their lives, the total of men serving is One Hundred and Fifty.
Western Times – Friday 12 January 1917
MARCH 1917: St Mary Magdalene.
Rev. TNH Smith-Pearse. The Rev TNH Smith-Pearse has been home for a fortnight’s rest after working somewhere in France, where he has been in charge of an Officer’s Hut under the control of the Y.M.C.A.
St Thomas, March 1917: News of Service Men. We are glad to hear good news has been received of Pte. WJ Trewin, Pte. R Bartlett, Cpl. GH Hicks, Gunner RJ Algate, Sapper T Hillman, and Pte. C Hillman. Thanks for comforts have been received from Pte. SW Parish, Sapper W Hicks and Pte E Chambers.
North Petherwin, Mar 1917: We are glad to here of the quick recovery of Pte SJ Davis from his serious wounds in the hospital at Malta.
Western Times – Saturday 03 March 1917
St Thomas, APRIL 1917: News of Service Men. We are glad to hear that Cpl Manning, who has been in hospital a long time, is making good recovery from his wounds. On the other hand Pte. WH Nute has had to have his leg amputated; the latest news of him is “that he is progressing favourably.” I have received a letter from Pte. WH Lane.
St Thomas, APRIL 1917: News of Service Men. We are glad to hear that Cpl Manning, who has been in hospital a long time, is making good recovery from his wounds. On the other hand Pte. WH Nute has had to have his leg amputated; the latest news of him is “that he is progressing favourably.” I have received an interesting letter from Pte. WH Lane, who says of what he has seen since he left the choir; he praises YMCA and Church Institutes very much, “by God’s help I’m trying to lead a Christian life in the Army. I read some of the Bible every day and never forget my prayers.” Pte – – -, writing from the trenches, says “I often think of the happy Sundays I used to spend, and I wish I was back again. We have services out here, sometimes in the trenches, sometimes in barns.” Pte. – – – also, writing from a Church Army Hut near the trenches, says “I always think about the Church when Sunday comes round. We have Communion Services here every Sunday, and I always attend. The Communion Table is made up of cartridge boxes, but that doesn’t matter as long as our faith is here. We have a fine Chaplain, he calls us “his Boys.”
St Thomas, April 1917: National Service. (Rev. JJ Haworth, BA, vicar). I have had the good fortune to be selected for Y.M.C.A. work in France and shall (D.V.) be leaving the parish shortly for a few months. I am sorry I cannot give any particulars, but hope to be able to do so next month. The YMCA and Church Army, and kindred societies are doing splendid work for our soldiers, and I regard the prospect of going into such a work as an honour and a great privilege. I shall be sorry to leave you, but glad to go if I can be of any service to “on whose every remembrance we ought to thank God” and ask ourselves “are we worthy of their sacrifices.”
A strange meeting: Who would have thought that when at the send-off meeting I expressed the hope that I might meet some of our own boys out here, my wish would be granted on my first full day (May 21st) in present quarters. I must reserve the full story until I come home, for it will seem incredible if put on paper. The fact is, I met Gunner Rundle, whose letter was in the magazine for March. The remarkable thing about the story is, I was actually looking for him as a Battery passed, and was talking about him to a YMCA Worker, when he!, Gunner Rundle, spotted me and crossed the road! At first I could not believe my own eyes, but when he shook my hands, I knew it was he. When my friend and I returned to YMCA headquarters and told the story, our excellent chief said “It was most extraordinary” and added “That the incident alone was well worth coming out for.” “Verily God is the living God.” Never did I feel the truth of those words as I did after that strange meeting. Yesterday Rundle and I spent a few hours together and had a really good time. I was able to tell him many things of interest and give him a little of what you entrusted to me. If possible we should have another good time together to-day, but if it is not possible – for nothing is certain out here – at any rate two hearts will pass on much changed by that strange –and may I not say? divinely ordered meeting. As I write a Bosche Aeroplane is passing over and is having a pretty warm time of it.
St Thomas, Rev. JJ Haworth May 1917: The Coming Months. I cannot quite tell when I shall be leaving the parish for work with the YMCA among the troops – Meantime I must be ready to go any day after the 8th May. I dislike to use the word “goodbye” so will wish you “good morning”, and would add ‘Pray for us’ and ‘carry on.’
St Thomas, Rev. JJ Haworth, June 1917: ‘My dear friends: I have scarcely had time to thank you for your kind gift and hearty send-off, since I left London. I arrived in London late one night; next morning at 10.30 I saw YMCA Worker’s Secretary, received uniform and had afternoon tea in France. The next day I set out on my journey and arrived here just as you were singing the opening hymn on Sunday morning, May 20th. Tomorrow I begin responsible Hut Work, so am writing to thank you one and all for the way in which you sent me off. I want you to remember that when you sing those lines about ‘our splendid men,’ you are singing something that is absolutely true – the men are splendid; there is the common feeling of the Hut workers. I cannot tell you where I am, what I have already heard and seen, nor where my future work will be.
Lewannick: June 1917: Lewannick Red Cross Working Party. Account of Work Oct-Dec, 1916.
Dispatched: Bed Jackets 3; Cardigans 10; Day Socks 14; Pants (Flannel) 25; Mufflers 11; Body Belts 3; Mittens 1; Cuffs 1; Helmets 5; Bags 22; Face Washers 5; Old Linen 1; Cushions 2; Quilt 1; Pyjamas 5; Trousers 11; Total 120 Articles, sent to Depot Oct and Nov. –
Ready for Dispatch – Pants (Flannel) 6; Socks 7; Huck Towels 12; Bags 6; Scarves 6; Skull Caps 4; Towels (Turkish) 12; Face Washers 8; Mittens 2; Total 65
St Mary Magdalene, July 1917: (Assistant priest: Rev CP Triplett, Chaplain to the Forces)
“By the time the Magazine is in your hands I shall have left you again. When the call to National Service was issued I offered my services to the War Office again as a Chaplain to the Forces, with the approval of the Bishop and the Vicar (Rev. Canon FE Lewis, Hendra.) At Last I have received orders from the Chaplain General to go to France on July 3rd. I do not know yet what my special work will be, but as I have done a year’s hospital work, I hope I shall be with the troops in the field this time. For several reasons I shall be sorry to leave Launceston, yet I shall be happier in khaki and to be with those who have given up so much for us, taking them the ministrations of the Church many of them love and value, and I hope I may be allowed to be with them in their dangers. It will be impossible to call and wish you all good-bye in person, so I take this opportunity of doing so. If there is one branch of the work here I love more than another it is the Children’s Service on Sunday afternoons. Beside the members of the Sunday School, a few of the members of the congregation bring or send their children, and we have lately had the pleasure of welcoming the Pendruccombe children. CP Triplett.
July 1917: St Thomas. St Mary’s Mission Church, Tregadillett. Rev. JJ Haworth.
Whit Sunday in a Rest Camp. I shall always remember the Whit Sunday just passed, for it was my first complete Sunday out here, and it was ushered in by a visit from enemy aircraft. At 8. am. we had a beautiful Communion service with about Sixty Communicants, who but a few days before had come from the places mentioned in my letter above. The service was very responsive and very reverent throughout, notwithstanding the incessant noise of anti-aircraft guns and the far greater noise made by the guns nearer the line. Sometimes we could only faintly hear some of the prayers for the noise it made one feel that “the world is upside down” and it made one ask “Are we commemorating the birthday of the Christian Church or of the Kingdom of Satan?”
Other services were held throughout the day, and at night the YMCA when men ask for hymns.
The first hymn asked for was “Holy Father In Thy Mercy” [the hymn for absent friends], then came a request for “I’ve found a friend” and then “Crown Him with many crowns.”
I must say that if Felt the hymns were leading us aright and were good preparation for the helpful service which followed. The Hymn most sung at the services in this Hut is “Crown Him with many crowns”. I feel thankful for this, for it shows clearly where the failure lies and what is the only sure hope for the future. Another favourite hymn is “Oh for a thousand tongues”. The hymns I have selected and heard sung are unwittingly a tribute to the satisfaction and power found in our Divine Redeemer.
As Hut Leader of this Hut, I am largely responsible for the religious services, and shall be grateful if you will remember this in your prayers. On Trinity Sunday I took the 8.am. and the 9. am. (Parade Service) for the Chaplain, who was on duty elsewhere. We had over twenty Communicants on Trinity Sunday morning..
August 1917: St Thomas: St Mary’s Mission Church, Tregadillett: Rev JJ Haworth
YMCA Work in a Dugout. There is so much to write about that it is difficult to select what would apply and interest you most. I might tell you of the rollicking fun there is when ‘The Follies’ visit a camp, or the keen competition when ‘Sports Day’ is held, or again I could write an interesting account of our YMCA service last Sunday night when fifteen men came forward and signed ‘The [Spiritual] War Roll’ in the presence of their comrades. I think, however, I will tell you of a visit to a YMCA Dugout. It was a great privilege to see this good work carried out near the line. My guide and I passed all sorts of strange dwellings by the way, and cave dwellers – brown as berries – peered at us from squints, tiny windows and doors that reminded one of rabbit holes. I was much amused at some of the names given to special dwellings; in the names given was a strange mixture of pride, humility, irony and homeliness. There was ‘Clarence House’ on our right with it’s owner outside endeavouring to remove from his chin a day’s growth of hair. ‘Grand Hotel’ too, was here, by the entrance of which one of the men who lived there was boiling water – using his steel helmet as a pan. The owner of humble ‘Rose Cottage’ was doing-a-bit-of-washing on his door-step. One portion of the place where we were was evidently very wet at times, for the man who lived in that corner has put up a notice inviting one and all to turn into ‘The Sailor’s Rest.’ Pushing on, we arrived at this advanced YMCA Dugout, to find it quite crowded out with men who had come in form various quarters to buy for themselves and their less fortunate comrades.
This splendid work is carried out in four Dugouts set side by side and well protected with sand bags, etc. In No.1, a small company of men can sit and enjoy the gramophone, write letters, or obtain something to read. In No.2, about 20 men can sit in comfort, drink lemonade, smoke and chat with their comrades. In No. 3, the storing, buying and selling are done. A visitor is impressed by the variety and abundance of the good things set out for sale. In No.4, the Workers live; their position is office, dining and bedrooms combined. I recall to mind the tiny recess into which a worker would creep at the close of day and probably have his toes nibbled by a friendly rat during the nights. I shall always remember with gratitude the kindness and hospitality of these YMCA workers, one of whom took a most and fatherly interest in the boys; I liked the way he said ‘Yes, laddie’, and ‘What can I do for you my Lad?’ And if you know the NCO’s name I know that he daily radiates hope and gladness where they are sorely needed, and that he is much beloved by the men. I am sure some St Thomas lads must have met him.
St Thomas & St Mary’s Mission Church, Tregadillett.: Dec 1917: News of Servicemen. It was with much regret we heard that Cpl A Penfound had been ‘wounded and gassed’ after more than three years service with the Field Artillery in France; the latest news of him is very good. We are glad to report that Sapper J Hillman, Pte E Chambers, Sapper TH Hillman, Pte J Fry and Pte Atwill are all making good recovery. Pte C Hillman sends thanks for smokes, and frankly confesses that life in France is “rotten” after the delightful time he had on leave.
Lt. GN Carter, Sapper S Cowling, Pte B Penfound, Sapper H Hicks, Cpl Fry, Pte H Venning and H Dymond have been on leave. Pte WH Nute is home having lost a limb for our country.