Treasures from Worcestershire’s Past: ~36~ Berrows Worcester Journal
- 1st August 2014
For this week’s Treasure Julia Pincott, Archive Assistant, has chosen one of our most popular resources used by customers in our Self Service Area at The Hive – our microfilmed newspaper archive. Here, Julia tells us more about a particular feature in Berrows, which focused on the effects of the First World War on the people of Worcestershire:
At Worcestershire Archives we are fortunate to have a collection of local newspaper archives dating back to 1712.
A newspaper archive allows us to look back at major national and international events and see how they affected our local communities. Never more so than the effect the First World War had on the people of Worcestershire. When the vicar of St. Paul’s, Worcester, Rev. Geoffrey Anketell Studdert-Kennedy ( ‘Woodbine Willie’), spoke during the dedication of their war memorial he gave a brief but hugely powerful address. The following is the report of the event taken from Berrows Worcester Journal of April 1921:
‘In a brief address, the Vicar said that he hoped that for ever and for ever the memorial would have a message for the people of St. Paul’s and for their children. They would find that there had been written on the stone:-
“To the memory of the men who gave their lives”
-not for their country. He had not written that, he had written-
“who gave their lives for us.”
He had not said that they died for their country, because to say that would have been to say at once too much and too little. It was something much larger than their country for which they died and at the same time it was something very much more intimate and much smaller. He had often asked men at the front what they were fighting for and generally they would take out from their pocket a photograph of two or three children and say,
“That is what I am fighting for”
– and that was the little intimate, dear and tender thing for which these men fought and died. Rightly or wrongly they believed, rightly or wrongly they were led to believe, that it was the call of God and they gave their lives to defend their wives and little ones. It was for these little causes that they died and so he had written on the stone “for us”. It would be too small a thing to say that they died for their country because when one said that they died for us one did not only mean that they died for their wives and their children and their country, but that they died as he believed they did, for the whole wide world.
They died, the best of them, in the best moments of their lives, believing that by their death they were bringing nearer the days when wars should cease and peace would reign. So far, it seemed that their sacrifice had not borne much fruit, but whether it bore fruit or not, took not away from the nobility of that sacrifice.
With regard to the figure on the Cross, he said that that was itself a message to them all. It was not the same as the figure on some crucifixes. The Christ had His head held erect. He was not beaten, broken or defeated. They took His body and broke it and hung it between the earth and the sky, but His spirit was unbroken and so the spirit of their own brothers and fathers who had died was unbroken and unbeaten and so for their success must we live pledged to fight against the common enemies of mankind and die to the end unbroken and unbeaten. Let them tell their children that the Crucifix meant the victory of good over evil. He could not bring himself to have a Calvary made where Christ looked broken and dead. In depicting Him as he had done, he thought that the artist had preached to them an everlasting sermon in wood. So he prayed that it might stand with its message, warning them that they must never forget. People were forgetting the war, and he could not blame them altogether, but we must not forget the lessons we ought to have learned from it. Let them take that message home and let them remember to keep the memory of it ever green.’
Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service are currently undertaking an HLF funded project to mark the centenary of the First World War in Worcestershire. For more information on the project and how you can get involved visit the project website: www.ww1worcestershire.co.uk.