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.

Sources:

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.

A Weybridge Conscientious Objector

Taken from Surrey and Hants News, 13 July 1916

‘Herbert Bankes (34), provision manager of Weybridge applied for the variation of his certificate on conscientious grounds.  The Local Tribunal had granted him exemption from combatant service only, but he now asked to be exempted from military service altogether an expressed willingness to do work of national importance. – Applicant said that for conscience sake he could not take up non-combatant service. He added that he was a member of the Plymouth Brethren and produced letters to show that he had held his belief or a number of years. – Case adjourned for a fortnight, appellant meanwhile to be given an opportunity to take up work of national importance’.

Indian Army Facts

ESP Arch
  • At the outbreak of the First World War, the Indian Army was 161,000 strong.
  • Native Indian rulers contributed huge amounts of money to the war effort. The Nizam of Hyderabad gave £400,000, and the Maharajah of Mysore, £333,000.
  • Indian troops were recruited from the so-called ‘peasant martial races’, e.g. Sikhs, Pathans, Dogras, Jats and Rajputs, and Gurkhas from Nepal.
  • Land grants and financial rewards called ‘jaygia’ were given by the Indian rulers to those who had served over the generations. For many, the motivation to enlist came through recruiting parties and private recruitment drives.
  • All private soldiers (‘sepoys’) were from the Indian sub-continent, the majority of officers were British.
  • The Indian Corps was formed in France in September 1914, under Lt-Gen. Sir James Willcocks.
  • 1.5 million Indian volunteer soldiers served in the First World War, nearly 700,000 of them in the Middle East.
  • Nearly 900,000 soldiers and 600,000 non-combatants were recruited from the villages and towns of British India to serve the Empire.
  • More than half the soldiers came from the recruiting grounds of the Punjab, which supplied 190,000 Muslim, 97,000 Sikh and 83,000 Hindu soldiers.
  • The first military engagement involving Indian troops took place near Ypres on 25 October 1914.
  • The Indian Corps provided half the attacking force at Neuve Chapelle, in March 1915. More than 500 were killed and 1,450 wounded.
  • Indian Labour Corps provided invaluable support to fighting troops, performing essential tasks such as baking, laundry, and tailoring.
  • 140,000 Indian soldiers served in France and Flanders. 60,000 were mule corps, stretcher bearers and camp followers.
  • The Lahore Division fought at the 2nd Battle of Ypres, in April 1915, experiencing toxic gas attacks.
  • The Indian Corps sustained heavy losses at the Battle of Loos, September 1915, and were transferred to the Middle East.
  • Two Indian cavalry divisions remained on the Western Front until March 1918.
  • 140,000 Indian soldiers served on the Western Front. 7,000 of them died.
  • The Indian Corps won 13,000 medals for gallantry, including 12 Victoria Crosses.
  • Official figures suggest nearly 64,500 Indian troops died. Some suggest nearer 72,000 is more accurate.

Compiled from the following sources:

The Western Front Association www.westernfrontassociation.com

The Long, Long Trail http://www.1914-1918.net/corps.htm

Dr David Omissi, India and the Western Front http://www.bbc.co.uk/history

Dr Santanu Das, The Indian sepoy in the First World War (British Library extract http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/the-indian-sepoy-in-the-first-world-war)

Dr Santanu Das Soldiers of Empire, BBC Radio 4 programme http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04l0zq5

Guide to tracing sources for the Indian Army – click here to download a pdf (PDF)copy.

Part of the Great War: From India to Woking display.

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The ‘Islamic Review’ reports the war

The Islamic Review, the monthly magazine of Woking Muslim Mission was published from the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking. The following items show how the war was received by the Islamic community and reported to its followers. At the time, the Islamic Review was the widest circulated Islamic publication in the world and it fully communicated its support for the British Empire and the war.

The Western Daily Press newspaper (Bristol), reported on 25 September 1914, that at a meeting of the British Muslim Society held at Woking Mosque, the following resolution was unanimously carried:

“We desire to offer our whole-hearted congratulation to our Eastern brethren now at the Front, and to express our delight to find that our co-religionists in Islam are fighting on the side of honour, truth and justice, and are thus carrying into effect the principles of Islam, as inculcated by the Holy Prophet Mohammed.”

The resolution, made 20 September 1914, was reported in the Islamic Review, the following month.

Resolution from the Shah Jahan Mosque</br>(Courtesy of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (UK), the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission)

Resolution from the Shah Jahan Mosque
(Courtesy of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (UK), the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission)

The war was a source of great debate among the Muslim community and the magazine carried several discussion articles in September 1914, including:

‘The present war and the Prophet of Islam’ (The Woking Mosque Sunday Lecture Series);
‘Soldiers and Morality’;
‘An Appeal against War: Dear Women on the World’, by Katherine Halkett;
Maxims of War: Abu Baker, the First Muslim Caliph and Lord Kitchener’;

The Islamic Review, 1913-1971 has mostly been digitised and is available online at www.wokingmuslim.org

Click here to see pdf (PDF)copies of articles from the Islamic Review, September 1914. (Courtesy of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (UK), the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission.)

Further supportive articles followed and by November 1914 the back cover of the magazine showed Lord Kitchener’s famous appeal to arms. Click on the images below to see larger versions. (Courtesy of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (UK), the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission.)

By December 1914, four months in to the war, the Islamic Review carried a morale-boosting notice ‘Muslim Greetings from Woking to the Front’. The notice stated that Lord Headley’s resolution issued by the British Muslim Society in the September had, by the direction of General Sir James Willcocks, had been translated and distributed among Muslim troops of the Indian Army Corps under his command.

Muslim greetings from Woking to the Front, Islamic Review, Dec 1914

Muslim greetings from Woking to the Front, Islamic Review, Dec 1914
(Courtesy of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (UK), the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission)

Guide to tracing sources for the Indian Army – click here to download a pdf (PDF)copy.

Part of the Great War: From India to Woking display.

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Local Support in Woking for Muslim Soldiers

One Woking woman, Alice Mobarikah Welch, a white, middle-class convert, submitted a poem to the Islamic Review entitled ‘A cheer from the British Muslims to our Indian Troops in France’, which was printed in December 1914. The previous month, Mrs Welch had placed flowers on the grave of Ahmad Khan, the first Muslim soldier buried in Britain, at Brookwood Cemetery.

‘A cheer from the British Muslims to our Indian troops in France’ by Alice Mobarikah Welch</br>(Courtesy of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (UK), the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission)

‘A cheer from the British Muslims to our Indian troops in France’ by Alice Mobarikah Welch
(Courtesy of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (UK), the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission)

Guide to tracing sources for the Indian Army – click here to download a pdf (PDF)copy.

Part of the Great War: From India to Woking display.

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1914 The First Muslim Soldier is Buried

In December 1914, the Islamic Review reported the first burial in Britain of a Muslim soldier. The body of Ahmad Khan, of the 3rd Sappers and Miners, was conveyed to the Shah Jahan Mosque, Woking, in a coffin draped with the Union Jack. Khan died on 4 November 1914, of wounds received in France, whilst serving with the Indian Expeditionary Force. He was buried in the Muslim section of Brookwood Cemetery following negotiations between the Mosque and the Necropolis Railway Company. The increasing number of deaths of Muslim troops led to the foundation of the Muslim Burial Ground, Horsell, in 1915. The site was chosen because it was close to the only purpose-built mosque in England. It was created in response to German war propaganda, which sought to alienate Muslim troops on the British side by claiming that the British did not respect Muslim burial customs.

Indian soldier buried at Woking’, Islamic Review, December 1914.</br>(Courtesy of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (UK), the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission.)

Indian soldier buried at Woking’, Islamic Review, December 1914.
(Courtesy of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (UK), the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission.)

Photograph of the Muslim soldiers’ burial plot at Brookwood Cemetery (Courtesy of Martin Starnes)

Photograph of the Muslim soldiers’ burial plot at Brookwood Cemetery (Courtesy of Martin Starnes)

More about the burial of Indian troops at Woking can be found on The Open University’s ‘Making Britain’ project website http://www.open.ac.uk/researchprojects/makingbritain/content/shah-jahan-mosque-woking and on the Woking Muslim Mission website, which includes extracts from the Islamic Review for the First World War http://www.wokingmuslim.org/work/ww1/muslim-burials.htm

Papers relating to the burial of Muslim troops at Woking, including correspondence from Moulvi Sadruddin, Imam of the Shah Jahan Mosque, 1915, and the Necropolis Railway, 1914-1929, can be found in the India Office papers at the British Library (Ref: Mss Eur F143/80 and IOR/L/MIL/7/17232).

Guide to tracing sources for the Indian Army – click here to download a pdf (PDF)copy.

Part of the Great War: From India to Woking display.

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Eid-ul-Fitr at Woking during wartime, 1915

On Friday 13 August, 1915, Imam Maulana Sadr-ud-Din (from Lahore, India) addressed the congregation at the Shah Jahan Mosque, gathered for the Eid Friday sermon. The congregation included three Indian Muslim soldiers of the British Indian Army in the front row.

According to reports of this occasion, forty to fifty Indian Muslim soldiers attended the prayer service in uniform, arriving under the command of Staff Sergeant W. Shepherd. The festival was covered with photographs by the Daily Graphic (London), on 14 August 1915, and the Graphic Newspaper, 20 August 1915.

Eid-ul-Fitr prayer service in the grounds of the Shah Jahan Mosque, 1915</br>(Courtesy of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (UK), the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission.)

Eid-ul-Fitr prayer service in the grounds of the Shah Jahan Mosque, 1915
(Courtesy of Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha‘at Islam Lahore (UK), the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission.)

Click here http://www.wokingmuslim.org/work/id-ul-fitr-1915.htm to read an article by Dr. Zahid Aziz on the Second ‘Id-ul-Fitr at Woking Muslim Mission, 13th August 1915. The event was attended by Muslim soldiers of the British Indian Army, who had come from the Western Front in Europe.

Guide to tracing sources for the Indian Army – click here to download a pdf (PDF)copy
.

Part of the Great War: From India to Woking display.

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Mahrup Shah

Mahrup Shah was wounded and sent to the Royal Pavilion Hospital at Brighton, where he died on 16 September 1915. His body was interred at the Muslim Burial Ground and later moved to Brookwood Military Cemetery. The plaque would have been sent to his family in India (now Pakistan).

Click on the images to see larger versions.

Mahrup Shah material</br>(Courtesy of Mr Kevin Smith of Woking)

Mahrup Shah material
(Courtesy of Mr Kevin Smith of Woking)

The collection of material, of which Mahrup Shah’s plaque was part, was purchased at an auction in Southampton, by Mr Kevin Smith of Woking. Mr Smith used to play at the Muslim Burial Ground as a child in the 1970s and is now a keen military enthusiast.

No further provenance of the items is known but among the items was the printed letter of condolence from King George V, a Qur’an published in 1917 by the Shah Jahan Mosque (the site of the Islamic Review offices), and a postcard of the Muslim Burial Ground, c.1920. The Qur’an is inscribed ‘B.W Addison’ of Freckleton, Lancashire. Research has shown that there was a 2nd Lieutenant BW Addison of the Lancashire Fusiliers, who fought at the Battle of Cambrai, but it is not known if this is the same person.

This version of the Qur’an was translated by Maulana Muhammad Ali, leader of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement until his death in 1951 and author of several books on Islam. The volume contained his commentary and was first published in 1917, from the Woking Muslim Mission’s offices at the Shah Jahan Mosque, and printed by Unwin Brothers of Old Woking. During 1916, pages from this Qur’an were printed in the Islamic Review issues before the full book was available.

This was the first English translation of the Qur’an by a Muslim to become generally available to the public anywhere in the world and the first by a Muslim to be published and distributed in the West. There had been little known ones before in India, and some translations by non-Muslims were already available in Britain (George Sale 1734, Rev. J M Rodwell 1861, Edward Palmer 1880) but these versions contained notes by the authors with the purpose of discrediting Islam.

Front Cover and Front Page of the Qur’an in the Mahrup Shah material

Front Cover and Front Page of the Qur’an in the Mahrup Shah material

Grave of Mahrup Shah at Brookwood Cemetery (Courtesy of Martin Starnes)

Grave of Mahrup Shah at Brookwood Cemetery (Courtesy of Martin Starnes)

Note: The 129th Baluchis had the distinction of one soldier winning the first native VC, when Khudadad Khan gallantly defended his position at Hollebeke, 1914. Most of the Baluch Regimental units went to Pakistan in 1947, and today the battalion is known as the 11th Btn, Baloch Regiment, Pakistan Army. Information courtesy of Dr Iftikhar H Malik.

Note: It has also been pointed out that the name Mahrup Shah may have been recorded wrongly. It is known that British military and hospital clerks transcribing Indian names incorrectly and anglicised spellings. Ilyas Khan has informed us that there is no such name as ‘Mahrup’, and it is likely to be a mis-spelling of the common name ‘Maruf ‘ or ‘Mahruf’ Shah, “Probably a Syed of the NWFP area of British India”.

The Stories of Sacrifice project exhibition at the British Muslim Heritage Centre features displays dedicated to the bravery and sacrifice of Muslim soldiers during World War One, including Mahrup Shah http://www.storiesofsacrifice.org.uk/exhibition/burials/

Guide to tracing sources for the Indian Army – click here to download a pdf (PDF)copy.

Part of the Great War: From India to Woking display.

A history of the 129th Baluchis and Mahrup Shah’s story was featured on The Subedar Khan Foundation website which commemorated the contribution of Punjabi Muslim soldiers and the British Pakistani community https://twitter.com/SubedarKhanOrg./

Read more about the Muslim Burial ground, the servicemen originally buried there and it’s transformation into a Peace Garden on the Exploring Surrey’s Past website.

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