Surrey Regiment soldiers buried at Vestre Cemetery, Copenhagen

Research and text by Dorothy Jones, edited M.A. Jones

The names of 19 British soldiers, including 4 members of the Surrey Regiments, appear on an imposing memorial in the Vestre Cemetery in Copenhagen. All had died between 22 December 1918 and 13 January1919. Amongst their number were a Canadian, an Indian and an Australian from Tasmania. They were all making their way home after having been held as prisoners of war in Germany. After surviving their imprisonment it is very sad that their journey home ended in Copenhagen; they did not get back to their loved ones. The circumstances with regard to why they were in Denmark, what caused their deaths and the funeral ceremonies that honoured them are detailed below.

The Danish Scheme, devised by Captain Charles Cabry Dix, the British Naval Attaché in Copenhagen, was in full swing. It was transporting British prisoners of war who had been held in German camps to the East of the River Elbe to Denmark for transfer to ships that would take them back to the UK. The British Red Cross commission in Copenhagen had set up an Ambulance section under the leadership of Professor Holger Mygind which hired Danish doctors and nurses to attend to the sick and wounded on the ships. This journey often involved a stay of about a week in Denmark. On arrival in Copenhagen or Århus the men would be taken to army camps whilst the majority of officers were accommodated in hotels.

Some of the men still needed treatment for their wounds and some were weak after years of  imprisonment. Given professional treatment, tender care, and good food and with the joy of being free and on their way home most of the men would make the journey successfully. Some were too weak to be taken from the lazaretts (prison camps for the wounded) in Germany where the Red Cross sent them comforts. A number of hospital ships were sent to the Baltic to deal with the sick and transport them home. Some didn’t make it and died on route.

The main killer of most of the 19 ex-prisoners of war was the Spanish flu and its complications. The flu was spreading across the world and its victims also included the young, strong and well fed. Many Danes were affected and the hospitals and staff were stretched to their limit. A good number of Prisoners of War succumbed and the hospitals in Copenhagen had to deal with a sudden influx of several hundred foreign patients who also needed their care and attention.

William Church 1st Battalion QRWS Regiment. Image courtesy of the Church family/Dorothy Jones

William Church 1st Battalion QRWS Regiment. Image courtesy of the Church family/Dorothy Jones

On 26th December 1918, William Church of 1st Battalion the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment died. Before the war he had worked at a gas works. He had travelled from Warnemünde on the Cimbria, a ship from the Danish Det Forenede Dampskibs-Selskab (DFDS) fleet taking part in the repatriation scheme, some few days before. Church’s group had been staying at Skov camp, on Amager. He was the first who died of the Spanish flu and pneumonia. The flu epidemic which in an odd way may have saved his brother’s life. Tom was in the Royal Garrison Artillery, serving as a Signal linesman. In April 1918 he was due to leave for France. He later told his grandson that he didn’t expect to survive, as his job involved repairing broken signal wires under fire, and his trade was known to take high casualties. Contracting the flu he was hospitalised and was still in hospital when the Armistice was signed.

By the end of December 1918 five British soldiers had died in Copenhagen. Captain Andrews, an ex Prisoner of War himself who was now working with the repatriation commission, in a letter sent on 30 December to the Danish Committee (Justitsministeriets kontor for hjemsendelse af fremmede krigsfanger) asked if the men could be buried in Copenhagen. A decision was needed and given the number of men ill with influenza it was probable that more would die in the coming days.

Pastor Storm conducting funeral service, Vestre Chapel, Copenhagen, January 1919. Image courtesy of Dorothy Jones

Pastor Storm conducting funeral service, Vestre Chapel, Copenhagen, January 1919. Image courtesy of Dorothy Jones

On Saturday 4 January a ceremony was held for the first five in the Vestre cemetery chapel and they were subsequently buried in its precincts. Five white coffins covered with British flags stood in the chapel each with a guard of four British soldiers. Wreaths lay on each coffin. Lord Kilmarnock the British Chargé d’ Affairs, Major Hazard, an ex POW now acting as senior British officer for the British soldiers in Denmark, Colonel Willemoes from Sandholm camp, Captain Kühl, Captain Davidsen liaison officer for the Danish and British authorities, Dr. Würtzen and Mrs Mygind from the British Red Cross commission in Copenhagen were present. One hundred and fifty British soldiers who were billeted at Sandholm camp also attended the ceremony.

Pastor Andreas Vangberg Storm, minister from the Kastel Church performed the service. Before the war he had once been the vicar at the Danish Seamen’s Church at Newcastle. His wife was English. He followed the English burial service and spoke in English. The first psalm was “Lead, kindly light!” and then pastor Storm spoke. He based his sermon on Moses’ story that he from mount Nebo was allowed to see into the Promised Land which he would never enter. Another psalm followed then the English soldiers carried their comrades out of the chapel to Handel’s death march “Saul” played on the organ.

The 1st Regiment’s band was waiting outside the chapel and with a Danish guard of honour led the procession to the graves while Chopin‘s funeral march was played. The Danish soldiers took turns with the British to carry the coffins. The weather was terrible, with rain and wind, the tall leafless trees whistling in the storm over the soggy paths. The five coffins were lowered into the graves by the English soldiers while the band played “Nearer my God to thee”. Then “earth to earth, ashes to ashes …..” was recited, first in English and then in Danish. The band played “The last post” and the Danish soldiers fired an honorary salute at the graveside.

Frederick William Rayner gravestone at Vestre Cemetery, Copenhagen. Image courtesy of Dorothy Jones.

Frederick William Rayner gravestone at Vestre Cemetery, Copenhagen. Image courtesy of Dorothy Jones.

32 year old Frederick William Rayner of 1st Battalion Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment died on 1 January 1919 of the Spanish flu and bronchitis. Rayner who had been born in Croydon, had emigrated to Canada and worked as a moulder in a brass foundry in Ontario. He was one of five British men buried on 7th January 1919 and in much better weather than the last funerals three days earlier. Otherwise things were done more or less in the same way.

Around 1 o’clock 100 British soldiers who were billeted at Barfredshoj camp and a half company from 23rd. Battalion with the band from 1st. regiment arrived for the service. They stood to attention on each side of the gravel square outside the chapel. Lord Kilmarnock, Major Hazard, Captain Kühl, and Lieutenant Colonel With and Major Cunliffe, Danish and British senior officers from Barfredshoj, attended. Pastor Storm from Kastel Church led the ceremony with the organist and boys choir from the English church St. Albans.

Six British soldiers stood to attention by each of the coffins throughout the ceremony. Each coffin was covered by a British flag and was topped with two wreaths. The organ played and the boys’ choir sang with voices pure and hauntingly beautiful. Pastor Storm spoke about how these five had finally been released from imprisonment only to fall to the last foe: death, whilst still in a foreign country, albeit a friendly one. He told the soldiers that they should take home with them a greeting to those who grieved over the five, and tell them that their graves would be cared for.

The ceremony finished at the graveside with the band playing “Dejlig er Jorden” followed by a threefold volley salute and a trumpeter played “The last post”. In sunshine the English and Danish soldiers marched out of the cemetery in silence. Out on the road the band played “Tipperary” and the soldiers sang along to the tune. Descriptions of the funerals appeared in newspapers and magazines, but it is only in the report of the funeral on 7 January that photos are included. We can see from these photos that others, young as well as old, attended the ceremony to honour these men who after fighting for their country weren’t to see their homeland again.

Alfred Warren gravestone at Vestre Cemetery, Copenhagen. Image courtesy of Dorothy Jones.

Alfred Warren gravestone at Vestre Cemetery, Copenhagen. Image courtesy of Dorothy Jones.

The next funeral took place on the following day, 8 January: this time for three men. It was almost a copy of the day before with Kilmarnock, Hazard, Kühl and Davidsen as representatives for the authorities and senior military and with Pastor Storm officiating. British soldiers from Sandholm camp and Danish soldiers from 21st. Battalion with band attended.

Two of these men had died on HMHS Formosa; both were “old contemptibles” who had been prisoners of war for more than four years – William George Dimpsey, 1st Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps and Fred Papworth, 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. The third was Alfred Warren, 28 years old, who had been a boat builder before the war and served with 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment. He had been billeted at Greve camp before being admitted to the Epidemic hospital, where he died of pneumonia on 6th January 1919.

George Henry Kelland gravestone at Vestre Cemetery, Copenhagen. Image courtesy of Dorothy Jones.

George Henry Kelland gravestone at Vestre Cemetery, Copenhagen. Image courtesy of Dorothy Jones.

The last three were buried on 17th January. They included George Henry Kelland a 25 year old from 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment who had died on 10th January. He had been billeted at Barfredshoj camp and died of pneumonia in the Garnisons hospital. Pastor Storm led the ceremony as usual, but perhaps this funeral may have touched him more than the others. He had visited one of the men several times while he was ill and comforted him in his hopeless struggle against death. Lord Kilmarnock, Major Hazard, Captain Kühl and Captain Davidsen, Danish soldiers from 3rd and 4th Machine Gun Corps and some English soldiers attended. A few were still in Copenhagen even though the repatriation for the British was more or less finished.

Lord Kilmarnock thanked, through the newspapers, the Danes for all the sympathy they had shown at the funerals, not least for the anonymous wreaths and flowers. Even before the last Briton was buried a collection had been started for a monument. Contributions could be sent to Mrs. Nanni Jarl, married to Carl Jarl, Professor Holger Mygind and Pastor Andreas Vangberg Storm. All three had been involved in British Red Cross work in Copenhagen during the war years. Other committees also collected for monuments for the five Belgian, forty French and thirteen Italian former prisoners of war who also died in Denmark on their way home.

The English soldiers gravesite was bought as a family plot and most of the soldiers were buried two to a grave, double depth. Each of the prisoners of war have their own headstones. A committee of ladies with Mrs. Mygind as chairman collected funds for the maintenance of the graves. Money streamed in for the monument which was to be a stylish memorial for the poor Tommies who died on Danish soil. A preparatory sketch was made – the little trumpeter, playing “the last post”. The memorial monument was unveiled by H.N. Andersen at a ceremony that took place on the 21 August 1920. The sketch hadn’t been used.

War Memorial Monument, Vestre Cemetery, Copenhagen. Image courtesy of Dorothy Jones

War Memorial Monument, Vestre Cemetery, Copenhagen. Image courtesy of Dorothy Jones

The memorial consists of a standing obelisk with pointed top in Nexo sandstone on a three part pedestal. The obelisk is decorated with a wreath in relief and a tablet in marble. Inscribed on the tablet is ”To the glory of God and in loving memory of the nineteen British soldiers who died in Denmark 1918-1919 on their journey home from captivity.” The Commonwealth War Grave Commission wanted to remove the monument in 1970’s as it was badly in need of restoration. Fortunately the head of funeral services Erik Rafn’s interest was aroused and he arranged for the restoration of the monument.

Vestre Cemetery is the largest cemetery in Copenhagen and the resting place of many notable Danish people, including the sculptor Edvard Eriksen and the composer Carl Nielsen. The section containing the war graves is referred to as Copenhagen Western Cemetery by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

William Church’s story and memorabilia have been handed on to his grandnephew via his brother Tom. Bill’s medals are mounted together with his death plaque, portrait and a photo of an epitaph. The epitaph is placed at the back of St. Alban’s Church at Copenhagen. The fine marble memorial was designed by professor Dahlerup and donated by local British resident and member of the church, William Mau. Following the text inscribed at the centre of the tablet ”Sacred to the memory of the following British sailors and soldiers who served in the Great War 1914-1918 and are buried in this city” are the 24 names. The epitaph was dedicated at the morning service on Sunday March 4th 1923. Andreas Vangberg Storm, the pastor who had performed the military funerals 4 years earlier, took part.

The story of the British ex-Prisoners of War who passed through Copenhagen at the end of the Great War is being told on The Danish Scheme website.

This story is extracted from In Memoriam – Vestre Cemetery, Copenhagen by Dorothy Jones, edited by M A Jones. You can read the full article here.

Stoke D’Abernon – 1915

St Mary’s Church, Stoke D’Abernon and St Andrew’s Church, Oxshott

From the perspective of the church, January 1915 began with a day of intercession on the 3rd, which was to be observed throughout the Empire by the Churches of England, Rome, and Non-Conformists alike, and by the Allies more generally. In Oxshott members of the Rifle Club, Civilian Reserve, Special Constables, and the Boy Scouts were all to parade at the service and the alms were to be given to the British Red Cross. The following Sunday saw the children of Stoke D’Abernon being invited to bring toys to be presented to Belgian refugee children living in the UK. This was an invitation well-received as the following month it was reported that ‘in spite of a very wet afternoon, the children… turned out in goodly numbers laden with parcels [and] two large hampers…, containing some 180 presents and clothes were sent to the 60 Belgian Refugee orphans at [the Convent de la Sagesse] near Hendon’. The Mother Superior had sent grateful thanks.

It was also reported that the Schiff Home of Recovery had seen many visitors to the English and Belgian soldiers ensconced there, but they were now much in need of a second piano to prevent the existing one from having to be taken up and downstairs between the wards. This was subsequently donated by Mrs Nevill.

Meanwhile, the Stoke D’Abernon Men’s Club had held a smoking concert on December 9 to welcome home their fellow-club member Private H. Coombs, invalided home from the fighting in the north of France. The toast was given by Reverend Blackburne, who paid tribute to the ‘pluck and wonderful bravery shown by our Army’, saying that ‘it was to such an Army… that we all looked forward to the future with great hopes of success and certain victory’. Private Coombs, who had been Parish Clerk and Church Verger, expressed his pleasure to be home and related his experiences at the Front.

In Oxshott, thanks were extended to the named parishioners who had contributed a total of £41 5s. 6d. towards a fund ‘to provide the sum of £1 for each Oxshott recruit’. It was reported that letters had been received in gratitude and the following extract, from an unnamed recipient, was published as an example:-

‘Will you convey to the Oxshott parishioners my warmest thanks for their gift. It makes me feel how good it is to be a soldier, when those who have been unable to join, show their good fellowship and friendship in such a real hearty manner. A happy Christmas to them all. I am keeping very well, and hope we shall be a first-class fighting regiment before long.’

In a number of ways, life in the parishes carried on as before. In Oxshott, for example, Mr Morrish gave an ‘enjoyable and instruction lecture [with excellent photographs], on a three weeks tour of Provence’, a bridge bournament was held, at which ‘several of the Oxshott soldiers who were home on Christmas leave were present’, and the Men’s Club continued to meet. In Stoke D’Abernon, choir practice, wood carving class and Mothers’ Meetings continued as usual, as did the Mother’s Union Festival and Sunday School Treat.

In February 1915, with Lent on the horizon, the Bishop of Winchester laid out his response to accusations that:

‘Some people, I think, have been too afraid that we have been speaking too much and too down-heartedly of humility and repentance and national fault, and not making enough of the righteousness of our cause, the clearness of our conscience, the gallantry and nobility of our soldiers, or the nation’s patriotic response. I don’t think they are right. There is no fear of all that being overlooked or forgotten, and a Christian will always prefer to err on the humbler side’.

But, for the Bishop, Lent was a special time for acknowledging and confessing what was wrong and, to that end, he continued:

‘We make light of “little faults.” We find it hard to be very angry with ourselves for familiar sins. But to-day these things are “writ large” for us to read. We see on a huge scale what evil means. We see all this “devil’s work” of the war coming, some-how, out of the heart of the life of the nations, fed by their “sins, negligences and ignorances”… We see on a great scale how man’s fault does the devil’s work’.

In the Oxshott magazine, news was given of the work done by the women and girls employed at the Red Cross workroom in Spitalfields, to which the Oxshott Fund was to provide financial assistance, in order to ensure that the work could continue. Their primary aim was to ensure that ‘the women and girls employed should not be thrown out of work at this time of year’.

March 1915 brought reports that an enjoyable evening had been spent by those who attended a concert at the Village Room on February 3, where ‘a special welcome was given to Madame Nöel, who has a voice of fine quality and well trained’, offering evidence that the Belgian refugees, who had sought a temporary home at the Manor House, had settled well into village life.

With the exception of the news from India that Private William Scarfe had drowned whilst bathing, and that Private H.W. Champion had been unable to get home from his regimental duties before his father, Henry Champion, had passed away, the March issue of the Oxshott magazine makes no other specific mention of the war or its effects.

By April 1915, as the magazines increasingly returned to the business of reporting daily life in the parishes, St Mary’s reported ‘that the special services of intercession are not now nearly so well attended as at the beginning of the war’. In May 1915 St Andrew’s reported that the Oxshott branch of the Red Cross Society had received hearty thanks for their donations towards the King Edward Institution War Workroom, and that the Ruridecanal Choirs’ Association had found it advisable to postpone their planned Festival ‘owing to the number of Choirmen engaged in war work’. By June 1915 the Red Cross work in Stoke D’Abernon was put on hold, with the hope of ‘[sending] out fresh appeals for funds in the autumn and [starting] the monthly meetings again when sufficient money has been collected’. In Oxshott a call went out, on behalf of the Basil Ellis County Nursing Association, ‘for help in securing suitable young women to be trained in their Emergency Home at Guildford, as nurses and midwives [as] at present the supply is far too limited to provide all the nurses required’.

Deep sympathy was also extended to Mr and Mrs Child of The Causeways, whose son Gilbert had given his life on Sunday, 9th May, during the battle of Richebourg.

July 1915 saw an appeal made in the Stoke D’Abernon magazine for further gifts of cigarettes and tobacco, as well as garden bowls or darts, for the men of the Schiff Home. There was also an extensive report on a Garden Meeting that had been organised by Lieutenant-Colonel and Mrs Bowen-Buscarlet on behalf of the ‘Lord Roberts’ Memorial Fund’ (i.e. the Lord Roberts Fund for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors, named in honour of Field Marshal the 1st Earl Roberts VC KG [etc.], 1832-1914), whose aim was to provide workshops and instruction for wounded and disabled soldiers and sailors. The author described Lord Roberts as:

‘the greatest English General of modern times, who, in his old age, spent his last years in warning our country of its present dangers, and with loud trumpet call bid us to prepare in time. We refused to listen, and are now feverishly hastening to make up for lost time.’

The Garden Meeting was deemed a great success, ‘a large display of work done by disabled soldiers and sailors… was practically all sold before the evening’ and the ‘highly satisfactory sum’ of £412 6s. 8d. was raised.

An appeal to readers went out in Oxshott, to help in the national egg collection for the wounded, in the form of fresh eggs from those who kept fowl or money from those who didn’t. It was reported that a minimum of 300,000 eggs per week were required to meet the needs of the wounded soldiers and sailors in our hospitals but, at that time ‘this nutritious and recuperative food’ was very difficult to obtain. As a result, close to 900 new laid eggs were collected in June and July.

With the first anniversary of the declaration of war a special service of solemn intercession was to be held in Stoke D’Abernon, on the 4 August 1915 and, unsurprisingly, the war and its effects took greater prominence in the magazines this month. In the St Mary’s magazine, the Bishop’s letter, a little prematurely it transpired, anticipated the difficult times to come once the war was over. For the Bishop ‘this is not (for most) the difficult timebut… the difficult time will come soon’. For now, he pointed out, ‘we have abundant employment, high wages, liberal separation allowances’, but, he argued, they needed to use this time ‘to prepare for the lean years when after the return of huge numbers of men employment may be scarce, money for business hard to come by, and special allowances at an end’.

The War Office, it was reported, had inspected and approved ‘Heywood’ in Cobham as an auxiliary voluntary hospital to accommodate 35 wounded men, a matron, and two trained nurses. The Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment in Cobham was to provide the remainder of the nursing staff. The house had been generously offered by Mrs Butler, but funds were urgently needed for equipment and running costs. The following month it was reported that the appeal for subscriptions had been met ‘most generously and promptly’, with subscribers raising the total sum of £736 6s. 0d.

In Oxshott, the British Red Cross Society detailed the contents of their balance sheet. The funds had almost entirely supported the King Edward Institution workroom between September 1914 and March 1915, and grants had also been made to the British Red Cross Society, the Navy League, Leatherhead Red Cross Hospital, Connaught Red Cross Hospital at Aldershot, the Schiff Home, the King’s Own Lancaster Regiment, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, the French Destitute, Belgian Refugees, Women’s Emergency Corps, Waifs’ and Strays’ Society, and the Queen Alexandra’s Field Force Fund. The balance in hand, of £16 9s. 8d., had been handed over to the Oxshott Women’s War Work Fund, who made garments, bandages, etc. for wounded soldiers and sailors. A report was also received on the Belgian Refugees’ Fund, which had enabled hospitality to be extended for longer than originally intended, and, of the two families received, one had now emigrated to Canada, while the other had returned to Brussels. For both families, their travel fares had been born by the fund, and both had written on arrival to extend their grateful thanks.

Finally, for July, a Committee of Ladies had set up a workroom in St Andrew’s Hall on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, from 10am to 6pm. In the first eight days 36 women had attended, and they had made 18 bed jackets, 18 pairs of pyjamas, 6 operation gowns, 4 ‘helpless case shirts’ and numerous bandages. Contributions were called for to assist with the cost of materials, and those who attended were also asked to make a weekly contribution of money, as well as time, if at all possible.

September 1915 saw reports of the August 19 route march from Roehampton to Stoke D’Abernon by the 3rd Battalion of the London Scottish, with which their late Churchwarden Major Gore was connected. On arrival the Battalion had slept out in fields which were lent for the occasion by Mrs Bowen-Buscarlet. For the author, ‘the immediate interest for the Village was the fact that the Village was invited to an evening Concert in the meadows’.

In Oxshott, the Men’s Club was amalgamated with the Rifle Club, in the hope that ‘now [they had] the privilege of using an excellent range’, more men would take the opportunity to learn to shoot with a rifle.

In October 1915 the Bishop’s letter, once again, offered the primary commentary on the war and Home Front. Bishop Winton, again anticipating rainy days at the war’s conclusion, called for those at home to do what they could ‘to reduce spending on things for which money has to go out of the country… to add (if possible) to home production; and if any of us make any profits out of the war… to put the bulk of that into the War Loan’. Such an effort, he argued, ‘may not only win the war… but also be an incalculable moral benefit to the nation, without [which] victory, if it were possible, might be a curse and not a blessing’. He also contrasted the situation at home with that in Germany where ‘by all accounts [they are] working like one man, throwing the whole of its heart and its wonderful industry into winning the war’, and where ‘one is told… all the Lutheran Churches… are full with praying people’.

As in Oxshott, the Men’s Club of Stoke D’Abernon was feeling the effects of war-time and, in November 1915, it was reported that the resultant fall in membership and attendance had left a debit balance on the annual accounts of £4 10s. 81/2d. As often seemed to be the case in Oxshott, Mrs Bowen-Buscarlet stepped into the breach, offering to clear the deficit.

On Trafalgar Day, which had been set apart throughout England as ‘Our Day’ in support of the work of the Red Cross, both the parishes of St Mary’s and St Andrew’s collected funds for the Society, to the sum of £26 45. 9d. and £100 2s. 4d. respectively.

The magazines this month closed with the sad news of the deaths of Archibald Rowan-Hamilton and Reginald Carter, and, in the St Andrew’s magazine, there was also a list of those who were currently wounded, sick, or reported missing.

As the first full year of the conflict drew to a close, December 1915 in both parishes saw an appeal for presents of ‘turkeys, plum puddings, mince-meat, fruit, crackers, cakes, or any Christmas fare’ for the Red Cross Hospital at the Red House in Leatherhead.

In Stoke D’Abernon an invitation was extended to children and grown-ups to bring a toy or article of clothing to the Church on December 12, as a Christmas gift for the children of the sailors and soldiers serving in the war. Mr W. Bruce Bannerman, who transcribed and edited the parish register, offered to send 10 or 20 copies to be sold at £1 1s. 0d. each, on the condition that the money was ‘credited to the Red Cross or other fund in your parish for the relief of the widows of any soldiers killed in Freedom’s Cause or of wounded soldiers (whether natives of or residents of your parish)’ and that the names of subscribers were published or fixed on the Church door. Finally, mixing philanthropy with pleasure, it was reported that the Men’s Club had held a well attended whist drive, the proceeds of which were to be handed to the Red Cross.

In Oxshott, a memorial service was held on Sunday November 28 for those who had fallen. All those who had laid down their lives from the parish were mentioned by name, and two buglers, who were given leave to attend from the East Surrey Regiment, played the ‘Last Post’. With news of the loss of local men Frederick Cotterell, Walter Akerman, and Hubert William Selby from the 7th Battalion of the East Surreys, on October 13 at the Battle of Loos, the year ended on a sombre note.


St Mary’s, Stoke D’Abernon, and St Andrew’s, Oxshott, Parish Magazines, January to December 1915, SHC Ref. 8909/8/1/4.



Henry Puddick

Taken from the Surrey Comet, 11 November 1916

“[Private] Puddick, of Royal Fusiliers, who was twenty-three years of age, was a son of Mr. And Mrs. H. Puddick, of James street, Alpha road, Surbiton Hill, and was born in Surbiton. As a lad he was a member of Christ Church Company of the Church Lads’ Brigade, and was a chorister at Christ Church from his boyhood until he joined the colours on the outbreak of war. He had been at the Front for about twelve months when he was killed on October 13 by the accidental explosion of a rifle grenade at headquarters. [Lieutenant] E Price Hallowes, writing to his wife concerning him, said: ‘He will be greatly missed as he was beloved by all his company’. In August last year he married Miss Dorothy Byfield, of Surbiton Hill, and their home was at 7 Kingscote road, New Malden. His widow is left with an infant son.  Prior to his enlistment [Private] Puddick was employed as a clerk at the Army and Navy Stores.”

Harry Beavis

Taken from the Surrey Comet, 11 November 1916

“A Past Grand Master of the bush Park Lodge, M.U.I.O.O. and a chorister and server at St. Andrew’s Church, Surbiton, Rifleman Harry J. Beavis was well known in the district.  Also formerly a member of the Kingston Men’s V.A.D., he frequently did duty at the Red Cross Hospital at New Malden.  Prior to the outbreak of war he was for several years head tuner at Messers F.T.V Honeywed and Son, of Surbiton Park Terrace, Kingston, being much respected by the firm’s clients.  He was the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. H.W. Beavis, of “Surbiton”, Victoria avenue, W Swanage.  Rifleman Beavis, who was serving in the Queen’s Westminsters, was killed in action on September 10.”

Stoke D’Abernon – 1914.

St Mary’s Church, Stoke D’Abernon and St Andrew’s Church, Oxshott.

The parish magazine came in two parts, one for each church, and prior to the outbreak of war both were predominantly taken up with the usual mix of church business and parish life.

However, two editions in the lead up to the war provide an interesting insight into how broader social and political concerns had impacted upon both villages. In August 1914, for example, St Mary’s was primarily concerned with ‘the guarding of the church from suffragette outrages’. Without providing details of the steps taken, for fear of revealing their hand, the magazine put on record the names of the 34 men ‘who have so willingly volunteered to keep on night guard against possible attacks’.

Perhaps more pertinently, the June 1914 edition of the St Andrew’s magazine offers a snapshot of what life was like for many children in Surrey, on the eve of the Great War, with its discussion of the reasoning behind the appointment of a School Care Committee for Oxshott School, and every other school in county. The duties of the committee were to attend to the health of the children while at school, as well as trying to ensure that they had the opportunity to continue their education, post-elementary-level. It was believed that these committees were required on a number of grounds. Firstly, medical inspections had revealed that many children were suffering from serious, and often preventable, ill-health. This was attributed to ‘bad and insufficient housing and sanitation with the resultant physical and moral evils’. Additionally, the article asserted that, while many people thought child labour had been done away with, in reality children were often by used as ‘Cheap Labour’ and, as a consequence, were too tired to take advantage of the education that was offered to them. Lastly, enquiries had shown that, on leaving school, a large proportion of pupils were drifting into occupations ‘which offer[ed] no prospect of permanent employment or training, and…  in a very few years they frequently drift[ed] into the ranks of the less skilled and un-organized workers’. These grave evils, it was alleged, existed in towns and villages throughout Surrey and were due to ‘deep-rooted defects in our social organization, [resulting] in a waste of the nation’s wealth’, both in terms of the children’s potential and the money spent upon them. The author was quick to offer reassurances that, except in cases of gross neglect, the Committee would not interfere or take any action without the parent’s consent, and that any medical treatment would be carried out at an affordable cost. With regards to employment, it was highlighted that, whilst there was generally no problem finding work for boys and girls, it was not ‘the kind of employment for which they are best fitted and which will provide the necessary training to enable them to become the skilled workman and skilled workwoman of the future’. To that end, the Care Committees were to be linked up with the national Labour Exchanges in Surrey, each of which had appointed an officer to find suitable industrial openings for boys and girls.

First mention of the war, in any context, came in the September 1914 editions of the magazine.  Both provided a list of men in service for their country, with St Andrew’s differentiating between those already in service and those who had enlisted since the outbreak of war, and these continued to be updated.

In Stoke D’Abernon some 60 men, mostly veterans and so too old to enlist, were giving up their evenings for drill and for lessons in the use of a rifle. These were held at the Manor House range, which had been offered by Colonel Buscarlet, and were all under the instruction of an unnamed sergeant-instructor, late of the Hussars, who came from Esher four times a week, as well as Colonel Guise and Mr Mercer who had been ‘indefatigable in helping to give training to the men’.  In Oxshott a public meeting was held on August 18th to discuss how the men of the village could best service their country. As a result, 14 men had enlisted in Lord Kitchener’s Army and a Rifle Club and Civilian reserve had been formed for those men outside of the age of enlistment, which was 19 to 30.  On August 23rd, 60 men had assembled and were formed into companies with the aim of becoming efficient shots.  It was hoped that a range would be provided for shooting in the near future. The object of the Club was very clearly outlined. They were ‘not to form an armed guard or to interfere or seem to interfere in any way with the enlistment of men… but to teach the handling of a rifle so that in a great emergency the men of Oxshott may be able more quickly to fit themselves for service in the country’s forces’.

Meanwhile 60 ladies of the village of Stoke D’Abernon had, on August 14th, attended a meeting of the Red Cross at the Village Room, and undertaken to make garments for the sailors and soldiers. The author was certain that there would be ‘no lack of willing workers to do all in their power to meet the wants of our men, whether on sea or land, and where needed for the distress which is likely to arise from the war’. Similarly, in Oxshott, a committee of ladies had formed, consisting of Lady Spencer, Mrs Lambert, Mrs Landon, Mrs Verrey (Treasurer), Mrs Williams and Miss Durrad (Secretary), to organise work on behalf of the Society. An appeal for funds, made early in August, succeeded in raising £60 and at the first meeting, on August 17th, cut-out garments were distributed for making-up.  The Committee also advised that they had been offered the loan of a house in Oxshott, by an unnamed lady, ‘for use as a convalescent home for sailors and soldiers’. However, they had been unable to accept, as, after making enquiries to the Red Cross Society, they had discovered that ‘at present the War Office do not wish to consider any hospital or convalescent home under 50 beds, [as] so many large buildings have been offered that it was thought it would be a waste of funds and materials to equip a small house’.

Special services of Intercession were to be held at St Mary’s at 6.45pm on Wednesdays and Fridays, and intercessions were to be made each day at 10am at St Andrew’s. At the suggestion of Bishop Edward Winton, the Church Bells were to be rung daily for Noonday Prayer. In his letter, written on August 14th and published in the St Mary’s magazine, the Bishop spoke of the impossibility of writing ‘with reality or usefulness’ when, by the time of the magazine’s publication, things may have changed so enormously.  However, he suggested that the ringing of the bell would serve to mark a moment when, as suggested by the Chaplain-General, people should pause ‘to put up a word or thought of prayer for our soldiers and sailors’. In addition, he hoped that, in speaking to many hearts, this would be ‘mentioned in letters to our gallant defenders [and] vividly suggest our loving remembrance of them offered to God’.

Lastly, the Oxshott magazine brought news from the front in the form of a letter home from Frederick Brooks, who was in Hasler Hospital, having been injured by a shell which had burst on the deck of his ship whilst it lay off Kiel in northern Germany.

In October 1914 St Mary’s published an appeal on behalf of the Army Council for help in supplying blankets to the Territorial and newly-formed regiments, as the Army Stores had run out. Mrs Dunning of The Tilt House, Cobham, had undertaken to forward any gifts and in November it was reported that she had been able to distribute 309 blankets amongst the troops at Kingston and Aldershot, which were ‘most thankfully received’. In addition, in answer to an appeal made by Mrs Bowen-Buscarlet, three large cases of clothing for Belgian Refugees had been sent off and, the following month, it was reported that she had received grateful acknowledgement.

As well as the call to prayer at noon, and the Wednesday and Friday services, a new weekly Service of Intercession had been added at noon on Thursdays.  In November these were then changed again, to 6.45pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 12 noon on Fridays.

The magazine also reported on the work at the nearby Schiff Home of Recovery, where some 20 men who had been wounded at Mons and the battle of the Marne were being cared for.  It was thought that gifts of illustrated papers, tobacco and cigarettes, with Players’ Navy Cut being the favourite, would be acceptable and welcomed. Boots were also needed. Visitors were asked to come on Mondays and Thursdays, between 2 and 4, bringing any gifts with them. Alternatively, they could be sent to The Rector, who was also Chaplain of the Home.

In Oxshott, the Red Cross committee made it known that a workroom had been opened on September 28th in East London, where 12 to 20 girls would be employed in making garments. The money raised locally was to be used to purchase materials for the workshop, and anyone was welcome to visit and see the work going on. In the meanwhile, 85 roller bandages, 47 many-tail bandages, 6 small cushions, 9 pillow cases, 20 flannel shirts, 21 nightshirts, 18 bed jackets, 17 pyjamas and 4 pairs of bed socks had been sent to Mrs Henderson for the Leatherhead Branch of the Red Cross Society, and 12 shirts and 12 pairs of socks had been sent to Mrs Northcott for the 9th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

The economic and social effects of wartime were already being felt. ‘Pound Day’ was to take place on October 6th, when Mrs Verrey and Miss Moorish would receive contributions to the annual collection of gifts of money and groceries for the Cobham Cottage Hospital. The importance of not forgetting ‘this local call upon our charity’, at this time of rising prices and urgent need, was emphasised, and It seems that this appeal was a great success as in November it was reported that records gifts had been received from 400 people.  The total result was £28 11s. 0d., 1,622 ½lbs of groceries, and 110 miscellaneous gifts.

Demonstrating the degree of need that being felt within the community, it was also reported that Oxshott now had a local ‘Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey Fund’ committee. They were to receive contributions for the Prevention and Relief of Distress during the War, as well as attempting to find employment for those who were out of work. However, whilst the Committee would do all they could to find work for those who required it, it was pointed out that this would require the assistance of employers.  To that end, an appeal was made ‘to everyone to do their utmost to make work’, stating that ‘no one wants charity, but every man and woman wants to earn a livelihood’.

Congratulations were also extended to Frederick Brooks who had returned, recovered, to his ship HMS ‘Queen’.

The November 1914 edition saw a report on a Lantern Lecture, entitled ‘Why Britain is at War, and how it came about’, given by Mr Addison McLeod of the Victoria League on October 22nd in St Andrew’s Hall. The slides were considered to be ‘excellent’ and ‘several pictures of Oxshott recruits were also thrown up upon the sheet’. Tribute was paid by the chair, Mr Morrish, to the Belgian King and people, and the profits from the lecture were given to the collection for Belgian Refugees that was being organised by Mrs Northcott.  The same lecture was given at the Village Room in Stoke D’Abernon, a week later, when the Stoke D’Abernon Choir had sung the National Anthems of each of the allied countries engaged in the War and, again, pictures of ten serving local men had been exhibited.

The Victoria League is an independent, non-political organisation, founded in 1901 to promote closer union between the different parts of the then British Empire in order to foster understanding and good fellowship. Hospitality, fundraising, friendship, and education have been important focuses for the League and during the Great War they organised beds and meals for servicemen on leave, and sent food parcels to the families of those serving.

In Stoke D’Abernon, the St Mary’s Harvest Festival of the previous month had been subdued in tone and no anthem was sung, but ‘God’s providence’ had ensured that, despite the precarious nature of food supplies during wartime, they had not lacked. As well as a ‘good harvest of wheat at home’, the protection of the Navy had meant that supplies were arriving from abroad ‘almost as in normal times’. By contrast, the St Andrew’s Harvest Festival seems to have been a much jollier affair as, proving fears unfounded, ‘the decorations were more beautiful than ever before.  Flowers were given in abundance and most artistically arranged… [and] the music was well up to the standard we try to preserve’.

With Christmas on the horizon, the members of the Mothers’ Meeting and Sunday School children had collected 10/- for Princess Mary’s Christmas Gift Fund for our Sailors and Soldiers.

Throughout the magazines at this time, there was a strong sense of gratitude for the sacrifices made by the Belgian people, and a desire to do something for them in return.  At a local level some very immediate assistance was being offered to some of the many Belgians who had been forced to flee the ‘ruthless, cruel, savage [and] wanton… deeds perpetrated on [their] country… by the enemy’. Colonel and Mrs Bowen-Buscarlet had offered hospitality at their home, Manor House, to Mons. and Madame Noél and their child; Monsieur Noél senior; Monsieur and Madame Van den Leven; Mademoiselle Van de Leven; Monsieur Heun de France, an invalided officer; Mademoiselle Suzanne Froidbise; and Monsieur Robert Froidbise. In addition, Monsieur and Madame Sneyers, along with their three daughters and grandmother, were receiving hospitality at the Manor Dairy Cottages, and in December it was reported that the balance of £1 18s. 6d. from the Stoke D’Abernon Lantern Lecture had been handed to the family, and received with gratitude. These families had all fled from Mons or the siege of Antwerp. Similarly, in Oxshott, two families were being hosted, and more were expected. At the Oxshott Children’s Harvest Service, one hundred and thirty-three parcels of clothing were received, which Mrs Faulkner had ‘conveyed to London by motor’. The officials of the Relief Committee ‘were most grateful’ and a letter that effect, from the War Refugees’ Committee, was also published in the magazine.

The final month of the year, December 1914, sees more emphasis on the usual business of the church and parish, in the form of Christmas, Confirmations, Sunday School, gifts to the church, general finances, and local entertainment, at which ‘national airs and patriotic songs formed a large item’.

An update on the Stoke D’Abernon Red Cross work party was provided, who, since their last account, had despatched 21 shirts, six pairs of socks, and one waistcoat, to the Royal Sussex Regiment, 48 petticoats to the ‘very destitute poor women at St Marks’ Parish, Portsea’, and two shirts, two pairs of socks, and one belt to Madame Sneyer’s son, ‘who is a Belgian soldier, and much in need of warm clothing’. It was also noted that about £6 per month was needed from the ‘Lord Lieutenant’s Fund for the County of Surrey’, for the purchase of materials for the working party.

The St Andrew’s Christmas Day Collections were, as usual, to go to the ‘Bishop of Winchester’s Fund’, which provided ‘spiritual food’ to the men, women and children of the diocese and was urgently in need of increased support. Potential subscribers were called upon to think about the people of Southampton, Aldershot and, in particular, ‘Portsmouth and all that it stands for’, because of whom the parishioners of Oxshott were able to eat their daily bread.

Lastly, there was also news from the front about the wartime experiences of Harry Coombs, the St Mary’s Parish Clerk, a Reservist who was called to serve at the beginning of the war and who was now recovering at the Schiff Home.


St Mary’s, Stoke D’Abernon, and St Andrew’s, Oxshott, Parish Magazines, January to December 1914, SHC Ref. 8909/8/1/4.

Victoria League for Commonwealth Friendship, ‘History’, accessed 2 November 2015,






Cranleigh in November 1916

Research and text by Joy Horn, published in The Cranleigh Magazine

The local branch of the Church Lads’ Brigade started its winter programme with enthusiasm, despite the fact that at least seven of its ex-members had already died in the War, besides others wounded. Physical drill and dumb bell exercises were carried out on Mondays in the Village Hall, rifle practice was held on Wednesdays at  the miniature range in Knowle Park, with the Bible class on Thursdays in the Kent House tearoom (over the present Barnardo’s shop). There were currently 20-30 members.

The Village Hall was also the venue for the annual general meeting of the Rifle Club. Sir George Bonham of Knowle was in the chair, and declared that ‘the benefit of these clubs is being gradually recognised.’ It currently had 45 members, most of them from the Voluntary Training Corps – the ‘Dad’s Army ’of the First World War – consisting of men who had failed the Army’s medical test or were over the age of conscription.

Mrs Rowcliffe, commandant of Oaklands Red Cross Hospital, appeared before the Hambledon Tribunal, which heard appeals against men being conscripted into the armed forces. She put in a strong plea on behalf of Abraham Osgood, 34, the hospital orderly. He was the only man employed in a hospital of 30 patients, and he worked the kitchen garden of over an acre, looked after twelve pigs, besides poultry, and attended to the drainage system and heating apparatus. An older man simply could not get through the work. Mrs Rowcliffe was a forceful lady, accustomed to getting her own way. Nevertheless, Abraham was allowed only three months. The tribunal seems to have been getting tougher in granting exemptions.

The Cranleigh Women’s War Work Committee, meeting in the Schoolroom behind the Baptist Chapel, had produced 1,096 articles for the armed forces in the past year. This included pyjamas, shirts, vests and knitted ‘comforts’. 157 workers were enrolled, and attendances had numbered 1,163. It must have been a hive of activity. The women had supplied the needs of Oaklands Military Hospital, and had sent a steady stream of parcels to Friary Court in London, the central depot of the Queen Mary’s Needlework Association.

Milford – 1915

St John‘s Church, Milford – 1915

In January 1915 the vicar’s New Year address was, unsurprisingly, very different to that of 1914 which had been entirely preoccupied with parish finances. Only a few months into the war Reverend Nattrass remained optimistically cheerful in his outlook, certain that, when God saw fit, the black cloud of war would lift and the process of healing begin. He praised the troops training in nearby camps, who desired no pity despite the fact that they lived their life in ‘shush and rain’, and viewed their behaviour as evidence of the trustworthiness of reports of the ‘cheerfulness of our men in the fighting lines’. The Reverend also continued to see the war as a just one, concluding that:

‘Everyone of us feels it is a privilege to do what is in their power to meet the endless demands which our country makes upon us in this hour of its great need. God grant that this year may see the end of the Great War, but if this may not be, then our happiness will be found in the unceasing opportunities which are being given us of rendering, however humble, a support in maintaining that heroic conflict until it shall end in a victory such as none shall every [sic] grudge the cost of.’

It seems that earlier pleas for greater support of the Curate’s Stipend Fund had been heeded as the vicar had been joined by a second clergyman, Reverend C J Johnstone.

Finite resources, both human and material, meant that the support given to the South African Church Railway Mission had been deferred, in actuality only until March, as ‘the extra work that is being done to provide for the comfort of the Troops and for the needs of those who are suffering because of the war’ was prioritised. In the meantime the Working Party continued to make garments for soldiers at the Front and mend socks for those at ‘our Camp’. A new Working Party was also to be instigated every Thursday fortnight at 6.30pm, for those who could not attend in the afternoon. Members of the League of Honour were particularly asked to attend.

The ‘League of Honour for Women and Girls of the British Empire’ was established in response to the national crises. Its motto was ‘Strength and Honour’ and its members pledged ‘by the help of God to uphold the honour of our nation and its defenders in this time of war, by Prayer, Purity and Temperance’. The organisation’s four key objects were very much couched in terms of women’s responsibility for the moral welfare of the nation, in particular for ‘the manhood of our country’.

It seems, however, that these aims were misunderstood and the magazine’s authors were keen to establish that ‘far from casting any aspersion on our soldiers, as some have mistakenly thought, members of the League should be ready to do all they can for the true welfare of those who have given up so much in the service of their country’. In practice, by August 1915 the Milford branch of the League had so far held no meetings, although one was proposed towards the end of the month in the Vicarage Garden.

In February 1915 the privations of wartime were clearly demonstrated as magazine recorded that the ‘dearness of food, the heavy taxation, and the irresistible appeals… reaching us daily’ meant that Lent this year was to be welcomed as offering ‘a consecration by Religion of that abstinence which necessity has laid upon us’.

The issue of church seating was once again mentioned and thanks were offered to members of the congregation who had given up their usual seats at the 11am service in favour of Officers and Soldiers from the local camp, who were also welcomed to the Sunday services.

Financially, the Alms Fund was showing increased solvency, which was largely attributed to ‘the special circumstances arising out of the war’, and total church collections had also increased.  However, subscriptions had fallen and this was attributed to the ‘departure from the parish of many regular subscribers’.

March 1915 saw reports that, on Sunday 21st February, the parish bade farewell to the first group of men who had occupied ‘Hut City’ at the military encampment. In contrast to their apparent initial misgivings, the it was recorded that they ‘know now that soldiers make excellent neighbours’ and, in response to the appreciation shown for the efforts made by the parishioners to mitigate the hardships of camp life, ’we shall take the more pleasure in doing what lies in our power to be of service to them’. Throughout the year the parish continued to take pleasure in the appreciation shown by the occupants of Milford Camp.

The April and May 1915 editions were mainly taken up with church business, including, once again, the falling off of subscriptions ‘occasioned by death, and by the departure from the parish of several regular subscribers’, particularly in relation to the parish’s ability to maintain an assistant priest at the exact time ‘when unique circumstances call for the utmost exertion’. In May these fears were realised when the Vicar announced that it had become necessary to cancel the services of Reverend Johnstone, despite the increase in work caused by the Military Camp, which included a corresponding increase in Sunday worshippers. However, the Diocese came to the rescue when Reverend H P Thornton, Honorary Secretary of the Diocesan Clerical Registry, consented to help out temporarily, on a part-time basis.

Appeals for money continued throughout the year as the church attempted to compensate for these lost contributions. These included appeals for The Parish Funds, the Curate’s Stipend Fund, funds for fittings at the four Church huts at Milford Camp, the Winchester Diocesan Fund, funds for those made homeless by War, the Sunday School annual Christmas Treat, the National Committee for Relief in Belgium, the Red Cross, and Missions Overseas. The demands on parishoner’s finances were plentiful.

In June 1915 the magazine reported that the parish was to respond to the Bishop of Winchester’s repeated charges of lack of support for the summons to Prayer, by moving the special Intercessory service from Friday evening to Thursdays at 7.30pm, and, if not successful, to Wednesday evenings.

At Milford Camp The Church Army had established a hut, the only institution provided by a Church agency within the camp. The Camp Hospital called for gifts of magazines to relieve the monotony of ‘these innocent prisoners’. Arrangements had been made for The Boy Scouts to call and collect any suitable publications.

In addition the inevitability of conscription was addressed, as the author asserted that ‘to wait for compulsion is to forfeit the honour of self-sacrifice’ and expressed a hope that, when the day arose, no Milford man ‘will be found to be taken other than those whom good reason has restrained from voluntary enlistment’.  This sentiment was to be repeated later in the year when King George V made his ‘call to arms’.

July 1915 was once again taken up with matters financial and in many ways, although for different reasons, this was a return to matters that had preoccupied the parish’s organisations before the outbreak of war. Additionally, the magazine reported that a special day of continuous Intercession had taken place on 21st June, which was well observed but by comparatively few. The coming departure from the Camp of XI Division, ‘among whom we have found so many good friends’, was also anticipated.

In August 1915 the effects on a small population of having a military camp nearby were highlighted, when the magazine reported on the Vicar of Aldershot’s appeal for help in building additional schoolrooms for a village that, before the Crimean War, had a population of 200 and which now had ‘a military population of 40,000, and a civil one of 24,000’. The author concluded that it did not call for much effort to foresee a day when Milford might have to take similar action.

In ‘Practical Patriotism’, the magazine recorded that the Educational Authorities, at the request of the Government, had distributed leaflets through the School advising of practical ways in which adults and children could support the war effort. These included practising ‘careful economy in our daily expenditure’ and ‘avoiding, so far as is possible, the purchase of foreign products’. In addition it was asserted that ‘it should be the ambition of everyone to possess at least one £5 War Loan Stock Certificate’.

In June 1915 the Government had announced a new War Loan scheme. Unlike an earlier scheme, in which the minimum subscription of £100.00 could only be made via the Bank of England, the new loan was designed to be more widely accessible and, to that end, bonds for the sum of £5 and £25, paying interest at 4.5%, were to be obtainable through the Post Office. For those for whom this was too much of a stretch, vouchers were also made available in five shilling multiples, not only through Post Offices but also through bodies such as Trade Unions, Friendly Societies and Works Offices. These vouchers carried interest at 5% per annum and, once accumulated to £5, could be exchanged for a bond.

National War Bonds: woman with flag

Title: National War Bonds: woman with flag
Description: Source: The National Archives, NSC5/11 by-nc

Parents in Milford were invited to encourage their children to ‘save up for the proud moment when they become possessors of a voucher of their own’.

In September 1915 a meeting was held to explain a County Scheme that had been set up to enable individuals to become 2 shilling contributors to the War Loan scheme. Payments were to be made weekly, with a penny fine for each lapsed week, and parents were able to invest in the name of a child, so endowing them with a benefit for the future. However, the meeting was poorly attended and few had become contributors.

The thorny subject of poor attendance at Intercessory prayers was tackled yet again as the author asked ‘how is it that any home which has sent out a sailor or solider to the war has no one to represent it, but leaves it to others to offer united prayer for their own dear ones in danger?’ This was contrasted with the situation in France where it had been reported that partially ruined Churches in devastated districts were ‘crowded with supplicants’.

With the approach of Michaelmas Day, also known as The Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, the magazine made reference to the story of ‘The Angels at Mons’ as one of many reasons for keeping this festival ‘with special earnestness’.

Lastly in September, the news that Corporal William Ogden, a postman, had become the first of Milford’s own to lay down his life. This had been followed, more recently, by the death of Sydney Voller (known as Frank), who was baptized in Milford Church and had spent his life within the community.

The October 1915 issue advised that the List of Honour in the Church Porch had been revised and, ‘to the credit of our Parish’, been considerably lengthened to reflect the names of all Milford men serving in the Navy and the Army. Amongst these were the churchwarden, Walter Butterworth (known as Cecil), who had taken up a commission in the 3rd West Surrey Regiment, necessitating the appointment of Mr Mackintosh as Acting Churchwarden.  Cecil was to fall at the Somme on 21 July 1916.

In addition, the Superintendent of the Ockford Sunday School, Miss E Laidman, had accepted foreign-service as a Red Cross Nurse. Finally, the sad news of the loss of the Bishop of Winchester’s youngest son, Gilbert. The Bishop asked that his two elder sons, who were both serving as Chaplains in France, should be remembered in prayers.

November 1915, opened with the ‘King’s Appeal’ and the looming possibility of ‘compulsory recruiting’. The Girl’s Friendly Society and War Working Party were continuing their good works, and it was announced that strict measures would be adopted to enforce the regulation requiring windows to be blacked-out after dark.

Two more Milford soldiers had also lost their lives in France, Alfred Herbert died of wounds in hospital and Alfred Luff fell in action. The message from the Front telling of Alfred’s death, and the way in which he was ‘so valued by his officers and comrades’, was a matter of both pride and consolation to the parish.

1915 closed with the December issue and extracts from a charge by the Bishop of Winchester, which detailed his reflections on the nation’s response to the War so far.

The Bishop stated that, having found the War necessary, and therefore right, ‘the nation plunged with something of the blitheness of good conscience, and of conscious unanimity into the greatest adventure of history’, and the Church, having found itself convinced that treachery and cowardly self regard are more anti-Christian than war, ‘threw the whole weight of its influence into strengthening and consecrating the nation’s decision’. However, Bishop Talbot went on to assert that ‘a little too content with its decision, the nation was a little slow to see how much the decision involved, and how much it left untouched’.


St John’s Milford, Monthly Magazine, January 1915 to December 1915, SHC Ref. 8005/2/17.

‘The League of Honour’, Surrey Mirror and County Post, 4 December 1914.

‘The New War Loan’, The Times (London), 22 June 1915.


Milford – 1914

St John‘s Church, Milford

As 1914 opened the Vicar of Milford, Ronald Nattrass, was primarily concerned with matters financial, particularly in relation to the parish schools and the Alms Fund, which had ‘broken down under the strain of the increasing demands which have been made upon it’. For the majority of the year the parish magazine was taken up with the usual day to day concerns of a parish, including missionary work, Sunday schools, local societies, the choir, the Boy Scouts and rummage sales, as well as the controversy surrounding the passage of the Welsh Church Act 1914.

However, by March 1914 the world outside the parish started to encroach, as concerns about the ‘national troubles’ began to be voiced and calls were made for individuals to add special petitions to their ordinary prayers, in line with the Bishop’s wish, for guidance through this time. The Bishop’s own attitudes were also voiced for the first time as he described this time of trouble as ‘the chastisement which our sins deserve’. In April the magazine recorded that special prayers, again authorized by the Bishop, were to be said from time to time during service, for ‘so long as grave unrest continues’. In particular prayers were to be said for the King, that he may be guided by God to meet the tremendous responsibility which faced him.

In September 1914, the magazine began with an address by the Bishop of Winchester, Edward Talbot. On August 5th, 1914, he wrote from Farnham Castle that ‘an unspeakably solemn and momentous time is upon us… [as we] find ourselves faced with a crisis which shakes every stone in our national house’. The Bishop recognised the ‘tremendous reality… that in its scale, in the numbers whom it will touch, in the amount of suffering which it may cause, there has been nothing like it in the history of Europe’ and, highlighting the feelings of uncertainty, he continued, saying that ‘there is not one of us who can tell what it may mean to himself or herself, not one to whom it may not be personally ruinous, for whom it may not change the whole outlook of life’.

The Bishop called upon Readers to remember that ‘this awful thing comes to us in the Providence of God’, asserting that if this is ‘chastisement or discipline’ for what many have felt to be a life of ‘luxury, pleasure-worship and money-worship, with all its forgetfulness or contempt of God, all its unequal pressure on the poor’ that ‘could not go on long unchanged’, then it is necessary to ‘humble ourselves as a people and as individuals before Him’ and ‘have the penitence and faith’ to search for the ‘good to come out of agony and suffering’. He recognised that there will be a temptation to doubt God but recommended returning to the Bible, Psalms and Prophets to see how faith and hope have led to victory in the darkness of previous trials. Finally the Bishop called for all to unite, forgetting differences and recognising that what seems wrong to us may seem right to our enemies, who ‘will suffer horribly too’, before entreating people to ‘pray as you have never prayed before’.

October 1914 again began with a message from Bishop who felt ‘increasingly sure that we are fighting in a righteous cause, for freedom and for a better future’. He was encouraged in this by the support given by the colonies, as well as ‘the main body of American opinion, and by public feeling in Italy’, all of whom he considered to be ‘independent witnesses’ to some degree. The Bishop returned to the idea of God teaching us lessons that will lead to ‘moral gains’, as well as the lessons of courage and prayer that ‘we are being taught by our countrymen’, who ‘face up with high spirit and unwavering readiness to a war by sea and land’. He particularly highlighted the courage of Belgium, ‘a victim sacrificed, in a war for with which she has nothing to do, for the strife and sin of the great nations’, and called for contributions to the Belgian Relief Fund.

The Magazine detailed Milford’s response to the war, which was to take the form of:

Firstly: Prayer – an intercession at every service and a Special Intercessory Service in the Parish Church on Fridays at 7.30pm, and another at Ockford on Thursday evenings. The bell was also to be rung by volunteers at noon each week day ‘to invite all to join in prayer for our Sailors and Soldiers and for those of our Allies’.

Secondly: Men – Over 60 men had gone to serve, the majority volunteering, several of whom were old service men. A List of Honour was being prepared for the Church Porch, which was to give the names of Milford men on service which they expected to continue to grow ‘after so splendid a start’.

Finally: Self Sacrifice – so much voluntary service was being undertaken that ‘space does not allow us to detail’ and, while ‘there was no sort of need to appeal to Milford parishioners to support generously the various War Relief Funds’, there was also a need to, at the same time, maintain the ability of the Alms Funds to render assistance to the parish’s poorer brethren.

It was also announced that Milford had set up a Rifle Club and, with a range provided by Lord Midleton and ‘hearty support’ by Archdeacon Potter, it had been possible to meet this ‘urgently felt’ need.

In addition, a War Working Party was to meet at the Working Men’s Club every Thursday from 2.30-4.30pm and members were invited.

In November 1914 the magazine began with ‘War News’, which talked about the strain of waiting for news ‘from the Front and from our Fleet’, and called for the prayers provided at the outbreak of the war to be supplemented by special intercession that was informed by what was being learnt about the actual progress of the struggle. For the author, ‘prayer is our part in the war which is being waged’, and we should ‘follow our braving fighting men right up to the front with our prayers’.

Returning to the subject of prayer, ‘War Intercession’ lamented the fact that the church was unable to maintain a daily Eucharist, as well as the fact that, even though St John’s was a small parish church, it was not ‘packed to the doors [at the special Intercessory Service] on Friday evenings’. Each reader was asked to give thought to the question ‘How can I allow any obstacle, short of absolute duty, to keep me away when they gather in God’s house to offer those special prayers for those who are offering their lives, that I may dwell in safety’.

Troops were to be quartered in the parish at the locally situated Milford Camp, a part of the Witley Military Camp, and the magazine reported that the Godalming Federation of the Church of England Men’s Society had resolved to offer its services to Reverend Nattrass for him to utilise in ‘whatever work he would apportion it among the troops’ quartered therein. It was also recorded that the Church of England Sailors and Soldiers’ Institute, amongst others, had offered support to supplement the efforts that were to be made locally in hosting this ‘somewhat large number of welcome guests’. However, concerns about funds continued, and attention was drawn to the need for larger support of the Curate’s Stipend Fund. This was to ensure that the parish was not left without the help of a second priest at just the time when their work was ‘calling for the utmost effort’ and they were being given the opportunity ‘of rendering special service in connection with the camp’.

The Mothers’ Union reported that its usual monthly meetings were being suspended in favour of the Working Party, whose numbers had varied from 30 to 40, and who had already made over 50 garments for those who had been impoverished by the war. These were to be sent through the Surrey Needlework Guild to the Queen’s Guild and Red Cross Society. It was also reported that 25 belts and six pairs of socks had been sent towards to the Queen’s gift to the troops, with more being made. In addition, the Girl’s Friendly Society (GFS) was to meet on two Wednesdays in November and any young women interested in doing ‘war work’ and unable to attend the working party, were welcomed. Lastly, Mrs Edith Urmson of Elm House, was to give out work for the Red Cross. To date ‘210 garments of various kinds and 41 bandages have been sent to Headquarters in Godalming, to Hospitals in London and… Godalming [and] two sacks of clothes, four complete sets of baby clothes (also a cradle), have been sent to Belgian Refugees’.

As 1914 drew to a close, with the exception of an announcement about Christmas services, the December edition of the St John’s, Milford, Monthly Magazine was entirely preoccupied with the effects of the war, both directly and indirectly.

The magazine highlighted the Bishop of Winchester’s appeal for contributions towards a special fund aimed to supplement the provision being made by the government for the wellbeing of the troops quartered in camps in the diocese. Part of this fund was to be allotted to providing small hut chapels and the remainder devoted towards the erection of recreation huts, mainly by the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). The parish welcomed this action as it relieved them of the responsibility of providing and maintaining a hut themselves, and they resolved to support the Bishop’s scheme. At a meeting convened on 19th November, to carry out this resolution, the YMCA had reported that they intended to erect four large huts for recreation and refreshment, that would also be available for religious uses, and appealed to Milford for the use of twelve people for each evening for the week to ensure the timely opening of the first hut.

In ‘Navvy Mission’ it was reported that while the camp construction had brought hundreds of men into the parish, any attempt to have a care for these men had so far met with failure. It was with apparent relief then, that the magazine reported that Mr Sutton of the Navvy Mission Society was now hard at work in the Camp supporting these men. A large hut had been set apart as a Workmen’s Institute, which was to provide shelter and a place to relax in the evening, and Mr Sutton was keen to receive offers of help, both in the form of personal service or gifts. In addition, it was reported that the Navvy Mission Society would be glad to receive any financial contributions towards its expenses.

The ongoing financial strain on the parish and its parishioners was a recurring theme, and so it was with some great pleasure they reported that the parish’s response to their earlier appeal had resulted in the total amount of offerings on Sunday 8th November ‘exceeding the usual average of our annual contribution towards the work of the Diocese’. This response was taken as ‘proof that Milford Church people are resolved not to allow the ordinary work of the Church to be hampered because they are being called upon to meet so many demands upon their purses’. The magazine also acknowledged the subscriptions received by the treasurer of the National Relief Fund from various Milford parishioners.

In addition, and in contrast to the previously reported lack of attendance on Friday nights, the magazine reported that, in order to ensure ‘that all who come to the services shall find themselves welcome in our Church’, regular worshippers who have a preference for a particular seat should ensure that they attend in good time as, once the final bell begins, any vacant seats will be liable to be occupied by visitors.

Finally, the congratulations extended to ex-Milford school pupil Walter Harris, on his promotion from Lance-Corporal to 2nd Lieutenant, marked the first time that an individual’s war-time service is reported in the parish magazine.


St John’s Milford, Monthly Magazine, January 1914 to December 1914, SHC Ref. 8005/2/17.



James Perry Davey (1878-1939)

A veteran buried in Green Lane Cemetery, Farnham (B1033)

Researched and written by Jenny Mukerji

James was born in South Wales in 1878 and was educated at Shebbear College, North Devon. He entered the Ministry of the United Methodist Church in 1904. His career saw him in Tavistock and Brighton before he volunteered for service as a chaplain in WW1. His  service, in 1916, took him to Gallipoli where, during the evacuation, he undertook that “no British soldier shall be left uncovered or unburied”. In order to fulfil this pledge, he went out with burial parties himself and had to crawl around in No Man’s Land, burying bodies and repeating the burial service.

He also served in Egypt before being promoted to 2nd Class chaplain and placed in an Army Corps in France where he was promoted to the 5th Army as Assistant Principal Chaplain. It was for services in this role that he was mentioned in despatches four times and awarded the CMG having gone through the fighting at Passchendaele and the great retreat of 1918. He was promoted to Principal Chaplain which carried the rank of Brigadier General and, at the Armistice he returned to the War Office.

In 1921 he became assistant chaplain general for the London District and later went to Turkey and between 1923 and 1926 he was on the Rhine. James returned to Aldershot where he was in charge of the United Board of Churches in the Army, comprising of the Baptist, Congregational, United and Primitive Methodists, retiring on a pension on 1 February 1932.

He was also a Freemason and had married twice, his second wife being the daughter of Frank Darracott, the Aldershot confectioner.

He died of a heart attack on 25 March 1939 and his funeral service took place at the Congregational Church in Farnham.

Arthur William Child

Research and text by Brian Roote

Arthur was born at 1 Wyche Grove, South Croydon, on 29 June 1892, to Joseph and Mary Ann Barfoot (who had married in Kensington on 25 December 1886 before moving to Wyche Grove). They later moved to 64 Sanderstead Road. Arthur went to Brighton Road School, where he was admitted on 7 March 1900.

Arthur enlisted with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in Holborn on 12 November 1915, with his Army Service Record stating he was 5’4” tall with a 36” chest.  During his time in France he was twice wounded. On May 4 1917 the Royal Welsh Fusiliers were on board SS Transylvania when it was torpedoed and sunk. He was one of the few men rescued.

Arthur Child's official report on wounds received outside active service

Title: Arthur Child's official report on wounds received outside active service
Description: Thanks to brian by-nc

He was with a number of his comrades having a swim on 18 September 1917 (just 4 months after his escape from the Transylvania) when a large wave carried him out to sea and, despite attempts to rescue him, he drowned; his body was not recovered. The company chaplain wrote a very moving letter to his mother. His effects post war were a War Gratuity of £10 10s.0d. to his mother. His bank account showed a debit balance of £1 10s.0d.

On 21 March 1921 his personal belongings were sent home and they consisted of, amongst other things, a wallet containing letters, a purse, cigarette case, a small wallet containing photos, a souvenir of Malta and a prayer book.

Arthur is remembered on The Jerusalem Memorial, Brighton Road School Memorial and St Augustine’s Church Memorial.


Footnote;- His brother Percival served in the Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment rising to the rank of Sergeant. He was invalided out on the 21 September 1918 and was issued with a Silver War Badge.