Paying our respects
July means that it is time to pay our respects to those who fought in the Battle of the Somme, in particular the 15 that died from Romsey, mentioned in last month’s memorial service.
Below is an extract from the July 1916 edition of the church magazine. Following the death of Lord Kitchener on the 5 June, the church magazine gives details on their memorial service taken by Rev D Lewys Thomas. The service reflected on Kitchener’s character and life.
Article from Romsey Congregational Magazine - July 1916 Lord Kitchener’s Memorial Service
“… Gathered together as they were in a Christian church, what had they to say about that life? He knew nothing of Lord Kitchener’s inner life, he knew nothing of his religious views; he imagined that very few did; but he did know that there were certain traits in his character that they would do well to ponder over in God’s House that night. For one thing, his was a strenuous life. He was undoubtedly a man of exceptional gifts, but that was not enough to account for the power he wielded and the position he occupied. He was a hard worker from the beginning to the end. From his schooldays until the last Monday afternoon Lord Kitchener had lived a strenuous life. The preacher then made reference to Lord Kitchener’s beneficent work in the Soudan, South Africa, Egypt, and India, and to his crowning work during the last two years, when he had summoned into existence in so short a time the enormous army which at home and abroad was maintaining the honour of the Empire. Carlyle once said that genius was an infinite capacity for taking pains. Lord Kitchener was certainly a genius in that sense. The preacher continued that he was speaking to many young people that night. If they were spared, one thing was certain: the life before them would be a life that demanded brave hearts and willing hands. If they were to achieve anything they must be hard workers. There was no royal road to success, hard work was the surest means. Lord Kitchener’s was also a simple life. During his time at the War Office, the preacher had been told, he always slept in his simple camp bed. He avoided anything like ostentation; he had no taste for the footlights; he never sough popular applause; he had a horror of anything that savoured of personal advertisement. The preacher was afraid that during the past few years the nation had drifted away from the simple life. There had been a tremendous amount of vulgar display; there had been an insane desire for unnatural exciting pleasure, and, in the midst of it all, it was refreshing to contemplate the life of this great man who lived a simple, natural life. Again, Lord Kitchener’s was a life of unrivalled devotion to duty. A week or two ago in the House of Commons Mr. Asquith had to defend Lord Kitchener against the attacks made upon him by some individuals and by some hornets of the Press who seemed to have a mania for attacking men who were heavily burdened with responsibilities. In that speech the Prime Minister said that it was only the stirring call of duty that made Lord Kitchener accept the War Secretaryship. Like every good soldier, said Mr. Asquith, duty came first with him: he subordinated everything to that. The Preacher said that as a Christian minister he could not forget the fact that when the King gave that noble example to the nation a while ago, Lord Kitchener was the first to follow him in abstaining from intoxicating liquor. Well, he was gone; the labourer’s task was o’er; the soldier had sheathed his sword, and had passed “to where beyond these voices there is peace.” But from his unknown grave in the far north he was calling us “to respond to the call of country, according to our several powers, to put far from us all selfish indifference to the needs of others, and to ask for grace to be given us to fulfil our daily duties with a sober diligence.””