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Roger Woods Articles as shown in WHM Magazines from November 2017

1914 – 1918
A Time to Reflect

War Declared Tuesday 4th  August 1914

A letter to the Parishioners of West Hallam Parish Magazine September 1914:

A letter from the Rectory

2 September 1914.

My dear Parishioners,
Today we find ourselves called upon to face the gravest crises in the history of our country which has arisen for 100 years. This great and terrible war, in which so many nations are engaged, must have a deep and lasting effect upon our country, either for good or evil. It is our duty as British citizens to endeavour to the utmost of our power to help bring the war to a successful issue. This does not mean merely that we should wish for the victory of our King’s forces on land and at sea, but that we should each one of us seek to find out how we may best serve our country in her hour of need, and learn the lessons which we cannot doubt are meant to be taught by this war for our own and our country’s good. At the outset we have great cause for thankfulness in the knowledge that the war has been none of our seeking. Our King and his Ministers of State up to the last possible moment made strenuous efforts to preserve peace. Such a war has been threatening for many years and more than once has been averted by a hair’s breadth. For 40 years Germany has been spending, millions upon millions of pounds, and devoting her whole energy to make herself the greatest military power the whole word has ever known. And when she believed her military organisation had reached perfection, it was humanly speaking certain that she would take an opportunity of proving her power to the world, and making use of it to her own advantage. It is with Germany that responsibility for the war rests – most certainly as regards the western nations of Europe.

Again we must be thankful that the immediate cause of our country being drawn into war was our sense of justice and honour. In defiance of treaties and obligations, Germany violated the neutrality of Belgium. Her own chief Minister of State has admitted that her action was wrong, but seeks to justify it by saying it was necessary in order that she might be in a better position to attack France. Our country was bound by the same treaties and obligations to help Belgium to protect herself, and when she appealed to us we could not, without incurring everlasting disgrace and loss of honour, have left this small nation to her fate.

Feeling that this war has been thrust upon us, feeling too the justice of our cause, we must surely be eager as loyal citizens to serve our country. To some, the opportunity of doing this is given in answering the call to join the King’s forces, and if need be to take their place in the fighting line. All who do so may be sure that their fellow-countrymen will approve their action, and they will themselves be thankful that they have been able in this way to prove their loyalty. For others, who from age or other cause are not allowed to fight for their country, there are other ways in which their loyalty may be shown. First, by avoidance of panic in any form, either by word or action. In the perilous time which lies before us, we must all be very careful not to spread idle rumours or ill- founded reports, or even to speak about what has actually occurred in such a way as to promote or increase needless anxiety – still less must we do anything from, or what may seem to be selfish fear. Then we must do what we can for those who are fighting for us and for those dependent upon them, and also for those who more than others suffer hardship owing to the commercial effects of the war. The opportunity of doing this is given to us in supporting the Prince of Wales’ National Relief Fund and the British Red Cross Society. Circulars regarding the former will shortly be sent to every house in our parish, and a notice regarding the latter will be found in this magazine. Ever yours faithfully, A.E. R. Bedford. (Reverend Albert Edward Riland Bedford) 

News of Our Country’s Call

Our boys have been quick to respond to the King’s Call and the list of those connected with West Hallam steadily grows. Those now serving are:

Captain Beaumont Henry Beaumont Checkland (5th Sherwood Foresters).
Thomas Edmund Bacon (Derbyshire R.F.A.).
Harry Bailey (Derbyshire R.F.A.).
Robert Elliott (Derbyshire R.F.A.).
Douglas Flint (Derbyshire R.F.A.).
George Flint (Derbyshire R.F.A.).
Wilfred Flint (Derbyshire R.F.A.).
Robert Ford (Staffordshire R.H.A.).
Frank Hartley (Sherwood Foresters).
William Holgate (Derbyshire R.F.A.)
George Edmund Hooper (Derbyshire R.F.A.).
Horace Merriman (Army Service Corps.).
Samuel Peacock (10 th Reserve Cavalry).
Thomas Petitt (Derbyshire R.F.A.).
Horace Reginald Riley (Oxfordshire and Bucks Light Infantry.).
Frank Slaney (South Staffordshire Regiment.).
Walter Toplis (13 th Reserve Cavalry) (Moved to West Surrey Regiment).

In addition to the above Charles Mills of Park Hall Lane, has passed a qualifying examination has an electrical Artificer in the Royal Navy, and hopes to be appointed in a few days’ time. 

Mr. Thomas Williamson our Church Warden, of the Firs, West Hallam (Managing Director of the West Hallam Collieries). Informs us that Lieutenant Bernard Smith, (Scots Guards) of Wingfield Park, Derbyshire. Only son of Francis Nicholas Smith, the Colliery owner, has requested a move back to his unit in France. It is believed he was in America on Government business, when War when was Declared.

A letter from Gunner Flint.

The Rectory has also received a letter from Gunner Douglas Flint (Derbyshire R.F.A.) in which he writes:

“We are all in the best of health and spirits, and we are having a good time. Rumours have reached here from home that one or two of us have been ill in bed. But nothing of the sort, we are all feeling as fit as can be. It is very quiet here, being about 4 miles from Luton. Nearly all the 4 th North Midland Brigade, are encamped around Luton. Including the Lincolns, Stafford’s, A.S.C. and the R.A.M.C. Territorials. We all met together on Thursday last, while we were on a route march. It was quite a sight too, about 10,000 of us all lined up. The Lincolns with their 15lb quick firing guns, the Stafford’s heavy battery, and our (Derbyshire and West Hallam Howitzer Brigade). We went into action and it stirs one up. Sir, I can tell you when you hear the guns roar. Of course we were only firing blanks. We have sent some of our horses out to the front, and every man in the Brigade is ready too. Sir, when the call comes. Our only fear is that it will not come. We are under a strict course of training, and every man is better for it. We had a Church parade this morning in the Park, about 300 of us attended the Service. The Parish Church of Stropsley (near Luton Bedfordshire) is only 1⅟2 miles away, and most of the West Hallam lads go there on Sunday nights when off duty. I thought about our Church during the Service and it was grand to think that we were all asking God’s blessing on our arms at the same time.”
Douglas Flint.

A week later, he would leave England and face the horrors of War.

The Reverend Albert Edward Riland Bedford reports:

Since my magazine article last month I have to add the following names of those, from or connected with West Hallam, now serving in the King’s forces:

Michael Danbury, Royal Garrison Artillery.
William Harvie Gilchrist, 5th Sherwood Foresters.
Robert E. Brammer, Yorkshire Light Infantry.
Cyril Cable, Northumberland Fusiliers.
Frederick W. Cuff, Derbyshire Imperial Yeomanry.
James Deaville, Lowland Division Royal Engineers.
William Harris, Sherwood Foresters.
Harry Jackson, Derbyshire Royal Field Artillery.
Frank Allan Kerslake, Royal Field Artillery.
George Williams, Derbyshire Yeomanry.

The two first names have been granted commissions.

Robert E. Brammer and W. Harris have been on active service and the former, we regret to say is reported “Missing.” While the latter has been wounded and is now in hospital at Newcastle on Tyne, we are glad to hear, he is progressing favourably.

News has reached us from the Reverend Thomas Williams in the neighbouring village of Stanley of the death of one of his parishioners. Grenadier Guardsman Richard Elliott had been reported missing in the Ilkeston Pioneer on the 30th October 1914. Sadly it has now been confirmed he was killed near Villers-Cotterets.
Richard lived at 33 Spencer Street, Smalley Common with his widowed father John and his wife Lily. He was employed by the Mapperley Colliery Company (Simon Pit) has a coal miner/loader. Aged just 30, he is the first known casualty of the war from the Ilkeston District.


These are special Services of Intercession on behalf of the King and all in authority, for those engaged in the War or affected by it, and for the restoration of peace. Here at St. Wilfrid’s Church on Wednesday Evenings at 6-30 p.m.

There will be a Service of Intercession for Foreign Missions on Wednesday December 2nd at 7-00 p.m.

A Second letter received from Gunner Douglas Flint (Derbyshire R.F.A.)

The first letter the Rector received from a West Hallam lad “at the front,” was written by Gunner Douglas  Flint, on Sunday February 7th 1914. A week after he had left England. He writes:

“We came straight from England to the firing line, and we have now been in action for three days. I fired the first shot of our Battery at the Germans. I did it with the greatest of pleasure too. You can believe, Sir, all you read in the papers about churches being wrecked, and the pitiable condition of the refugees. You can’t believe how the Country is absolutely cut up, till you see it for yourself. We are confident of beating the Germans, and we are all trying to do our very best for our King and Country. We have had some wet weather this last day or two, largely due to the heavy firing of artillery here. It makes one think of peaceful West Hallam as, we see and hear the shells bursting and flying about, but we feel quite at home now, and keep giving them (The Germans) all we can. We are not allowed, as you know, to say very much. We all put our trust in God. Hoping to come home safe and carry on things as usual. I am writing this as I sit by the gun awaiting the order to fire.”

Douglas Flint


Douglas William Flint M.M. (2nd Lieutenant 800635 Royal Field Artillery) Survived the War and is named on the front right hand panel of the West Hallam War Memorial.

Death of Colliery Owners Son

The men at the West Hallam Colliery have been informed by Mr Williamson Managing Director of the Company, that the owners son Captain Bernard Ridley Winthrop Smith had been killed. This is the second tragedy to report within the last few days. He was 31 years old, Captain Smith was with the 1st Battalion Scots Guards and only been at the front for 3 days. He was wounded in the head and died at the Boulogne British Base hospital. His family were notified of his injuries, and his mother was at his bedside when he died. His body is to be returned to Wingfield Park, Ambergate for burial. Several of the colliery workforce have requested permission to attend the funeral. He was known by the men, often seen accompanying his father at the pit.

Our War Efforts at Home

Home Guards

A meeting was held in the Boys’ School, on Monday , March 20th 1915, at which the chair was taken by Mr. Thomas Williamson (Church Warden). The guest of honour was the Mayor of Ilkeston, who briefed the group on the need for support from the home front.

It was decided to form a West Hallam unit of the Derbyshire Volunteer Regiment of Home Guards. Those who may join are men above the age of 38 years and young men between 16 and 18. Also men between 19 and 38, who are prevented from enlisting by genuine reasons. Enrolment forms and further information may be obtained from Mr. T. Hawley of Lewcote Gate, West Hallam.

Click Photo to Enlarge
Double Click to Reduce

The Reverend Albert Edward Riland Bedford reports:

Since my magazine article last month I have to add the following names of those, from or connected with West Hallam, now serving in the King’s forces:

Wilfred Bancroft, Royal Field Artillery.
William H. Cotton, Army Service Corps.
Edgar Hartley, Rifle Brigade.
Anthony Haynes, Derbyshire Yeomanry.
Robert Toplis, Sherwood Foresters.
Walter Toplis, has now exchanged into the West Surrey Regiment.

News has now been received that Robert E. Brammer, Yorkshire Light Infantry, previously reported “missing” he is now a prisoner in Germany.

News of your Red Cross donations has also been received and I have published the information for you to see how your contributions are helping to support our boys in these difficult times:


Dear Workers of the B.R.C.S.,
Once again I must thank you all for your generous support for the Motor Soup Kitchen for the Front. I am sure you will be delighted to hear, the splendid result, was 143 contributions amounting to £9 - 4s., far more than I ever hoped for. I thought you were all very good, indeed in the way you responded to my first appeal for funds and workers, but you have given again just as willingly. From our small parish I do think we have done splendidly, and the following letter which I Received from your Vice President I think you will all like to see:

“Dear Mrs. Bedford,
Thanks so much for your nice contribution of shirts, all such nice ones, and socks, all so well made (no freaks, as I sometimes get!). Please thank all your workers. You really have done good work. Just at present, mittens seem the one thing most wanted, as they seem well provided with garments; so I think your kind helpers can take a rest. Of course if this awful war goes on, later things will be required again; but people have responded so well, and you did so well for the Soup Kitchen. I am so proud of my division; all have been so kind.

With Kind Regards,
Yours Sincerely,
Catherine Louisa Miller Mundy”.

Mrs. Spencer Rook (West Hallam Hall), Mrs. Crawford Adams, Mrs. E. Tatham and Miss Hancock have worked hard in helping me to collect the money and get the workers, and up to the present the following is a statement of what I have received and spent, and sent to Mrs. Mundy, in addition to the £9-4s for the Soup Kitchen mentioned above:

18 Yearly subscriptions  £  2 – 9s – 6d
74 Donations   £14 – 3s – 6d
Second Class Girls, Sunday School £  0 – 2s – 4⅟2d
£16 – 15s – 4⅟2d
Spent on Materials:  
£12 – 16s – 0d

Forwarded to Mr. Mundy:  6 Kit bags, 20 flannel shirts, 60 pairs of socks, 4 scarves, 2 pairs of mittens, and 1 belt.

For the immediate present no more shirts or socks are needed, but mittens are wanted at once. They are very easy done on two pins. I have plenty of wool, and can give a copy of the instructions to anyone who will help me with them.

Again thanking you all,
Yours Sincerely,
Eva Elizabeth Coldwell Bedford.
West Hallam Rectory.
November 30th 1914.

Changes at the Rectory

May 1915. Reverend Bedford and his wife left West Hallam, moving to St George’s Church, Kidderminster, Worcestershire. On the announcement of his departure many of his parishioners were saddened, because the Reverend Bedford had been so supportive throughout these difficult Times. Although he was facing a new challenge has Vicar of St Georges, he hoped he would be able to keep in touch with his many friends at St Wilfrid’s and had loved the friendship bestowed upon him during his 8 years as Rector. In 1918, he returned to the area taking up the position has Vicar of St Matthew’s, Morley.

His replacement at West Hallam was the Reverend Alfred Ernest Wicks, who arrived in June 1915. He had been the Curate of Stanningley, Yorkshire. He and his wife now faced the increasing demands of a Parish whose faith was being tested to the limit by the effects of the war, which the parishioners thought would have ended months before.

Soon after his arrival Reverend Wicks arranged meetings with his two neighbouring Clergymen. Reverend Thomas Williams, Vicar of St Andrew’s Stanley and All Saints church Stanley Common, and the Reverend John Pleming, Vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Mapperley. Meetings with Reverend Thomas Williams were few, following his announcement that he was being moved from Stanley on an exchange arranged by the Church authorities. He had been the Vicar of Stanley since 1905, and much of his time had been dominated with fundraising and overseeing the building and opening of the new church (All Saints opened 1913) at Stanley Common.

His exchange was with the Reverend Ernest Frank Scofield Vicar of St Luke’s Church Millwall. Who had previously been the Chaplain at All Saints, Leipzig, Germany (1903-1909). He also, had other German interests, being married to a wife who was born in Germany to British parents. But with anti-German hostilities in the London area, the church authorities though it would be safer to move him to a more rural setting.

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