Tag Archives: Home Leave 1916.

15TH NOV.1916: R.A.M.C. GIVEN DUE CREDIT IN BATTLE OF SOMME.

R.A.M.C Autogrphed Cigarette Papers. Red Cross Hospital. 1916.
R.A.M.C. Troop’s Autos & their Cigarette Papers. The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital. A.H.H. Autograph Album. 1916.

ramcbadge-jpg-opt155x181o00s155x181

 

 

 

 

JOHN JONES, R.A.M.C. (1) Aid Post in the Line:

LETTER to Pte HUBERT HIBBETT, The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire.

15/11/16

Dear Mr Hibbett, 

Your letter from the Cenacle to hand yesterday. I am at present one of three stationed at an aid-post in the line (2), but of course things have quietened down considerably since you were up here. We have quite a snug little dug-out, doing all our own cooking, which is so much better than depending on a cook-house. 

first-line-hospital-101-b-jpg-opt880x569o00s880x569

Casualties are brought down to the regiment aid-post about 20 yards from here, then we take them down to the dressing station from there.

emaze-front-line-dressing-station5581658-3x2-940x627
Front Line Dressing Station. http://www.emaze

I have not actually been stationed in the town you mention but at a hospital on the road about 2 miles towards the line. You may know where I mean.  Also at a prison dressing station (3) still further up the line.

British Soldiers carry German wounded.
British Soldiers with German wounded prisoners. Somme Offensive. July 1916.

I was pleased to hear that you were satisfied with the way the R.A.M.C. treated you out here.  Previous to operations  on the Germans (censored but decipherable (3)) people at home seemed to be under misunderstanding about the work of the R.A.M.C. out here but I think we are now given due credit for our work.

I gather that you were wounded in the arm ?( censored) (4) so you will know that we were far from idle or out of danger there (5).

New Brighton Wallesley Sands.

Certainly, my heart aches to be with you strolling along New Brighton Sands. It certainly is a fine spot for wounded to recuperate.

Our division has commenced leave (6) so I hope to see Blighty sometime before the ending of the war. I guess you don’t half enjoy those little concerts you have at the Cenacle (7).

I do not think I have anything else to write to you about this time, only it gives me great pleasure in being able to make a written acquaintance with you.  I am sure it gave mother (8) great pleasure in doing her little bit to get you better again. 

I remain,

 Yours very sincerely, John Jones* (scarcely readable signature).

**************************

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

The writer of this Letter, John Jones, R.A.M.C., was most probably a civilian doctor who volunteered for service at the Front without having to undergo extra training. He appears to be the son of Mrs M.A. Jones, one of Marie Hibbett’s best friends in Walsall. Pte Bertie Hibbett frequently mentions her kindness in sending parcels & letters to him at the Front & to the Cenacle Hospital. 

John Jones is responding to my father’s request for information about what might have happened to his brother after he was reported wounded & missing in No Man’s Land. For many months the Hibbett Family hoped Sgt Sydney Hibbett might have been taken prisoner or might simply be lost in the system. ‘I see no objection to parties with Motor Ambulances searching villages in France for the wounded & to obtain particulars of the missing & convey them to hospital’. Lord Kitchener.12th Sept. 1914. 

Asclepius

(1) R.A.M.C. Badge has the Rod of Asclepius (with serpent  symbol of life & healing) surmounted by a crown, within a laurel wreath (symbols of honour & victory) with the regimental motto ‘In Arduis Fidelis‘ (Faithful in Adversity) or ‘Royal Army Medical Corps’ in a scroll beneath.  Asclepius was a Greek Hero & God of Medicine, (<www.GreekMedicine.net>).  R.A.M.C. medics wore an arm band but carried no weapon or ammunition. ramc-badge-jpg-opt150x144o00s150x144

(2) Aid Post in the Line: the first in a chain of medical posts organised by the Field Ambulance (FA). The FA Bearer Division brought wounded from the Front Line Regimental Aid Post (RAP) to a Casualty Clearing Station (CCS), then on to a Main Dressing Station MDS (Tented ‘Hospital’) for treatment by the FA Tent Division. At the outbreak of war the R.A.M.C. had only 5,000 officers & men.

Lt general Sir Alfred Kogh 1857 -1936.
Lt General Sir Alfred Keogh 1857 -1936.

After the Battle of Mons, 23rd Aug 1914, when many wounded died in the chaos for lack of transport & swift medical support, (Doctor) Sir Alfred Henry Keogh was appointed Director General of R.A.M.C. & completely re-organised it. 

first-line-hospital-101-b-jpg-opt880x569o00s880x569

A massive fund-raising scheme to purchase motor ambulances took place. Many women acted as ambulance drivers & motor mechanics.

Women Drivers.
354. The English Camp -The Garage of Cars & Women Drivers (& Mechanics) at work in front of their  Red Cross Motor-Ambulances. Le Treport. 1916.
Field Ambulance on Parade. Location unknown
Field Ambulance Unit on Parade. Location unknown.jpg.opt.

A Field Ambulance Unit consisted of 10 Officers, 224 Other Ranks & Army Service Corps. ‘Each column consisted of ambulance wagons, water-carts, forage carts for stores, cook’s wagon, 52 riding & draught horses’ and a member of the Cycle Corps.  cf Hibbett Letters: 14th Dec. 1915 and <https://www.1914-1918.net/fieldambulances&gt;

Grateful thanks to Tony Allen for his excellent website “The Royal Army Medical Corps on WW1 Postcards <https://www.worldwar1postcards.com/war-wounded-and-the-ramc.php> It is full of information, well researched, clearly presented with numerous illustrations.

(3) German Wounded Prisoners: the R.A.M.C.’s humanitarian aim was to treat British & German wounded alike, according to the Geneva Convention of 1864: ‘Wounded & sick combatants, to whatever nation they may belong, shall be collected & cared for’. ‘Operations on the Germans’: i.e the Battle of Somme/Gommecourt (not medical operations).

frg-of-18-pdr-mark-iii-shell-complete-detonationfragmentation-4-this-one-jpg-opt630x843o00s630x843
Fragmentation of 18 pounder Mark iii Shell (complete detonation). Courtesy Tony Allen.

(4) Pte Bertie’s Wound: a three-letter word (‘arm‘?) has been censored to prevent the enemy learning the effect of its shells. The R.A.M.C contributed to WW1 research into types of wounds caused by fragmentation of shells. One of these such fragments nearly cost my Dad his arm.

(5) ‘Out there’: ie Foncquevillers Church Crypt Field Dressing Station (where my father had his wound dressed & received anti-tetanus injection 1st July 1916).  If the Germans had counter-attacked the medics there might well have been taken prisoner as the FDS in the Church Crypt was so close to the Front Line.

(6) Division Commenced Leave: Leave had dried up since June  prior to Battle of Somme 1st July 1916 (i.e. nearly 6 months). See Hibbett Cartoon & Letter: 6th June 1916.

(7) Cenacle Patients’ Concerts: See Hibbett Letters: 4th Oct 1916 & 10th Nov. 1916.

(8) MotherMrs M.A.Jones, attended St Paul’s Church Walsall (wife of J.H.Jones on Walsall Education Committee? / called him ‘His Lordship’ 20th June 1915;12th & 13th Sept. 1915). Many refs in Hibbett Letters to her parcels & letters. Mother of Lance Corp. A.O.Jones to whom Sydney entrusted his pack should anything happen to him. See Hibbett Letters: 17th May 1915; 27th Feb. 1916;10th & 21st May 1916; 1st June 1916; 19th July 1916.

NEXT POST: 20th Nov. 1916. ‘I dreamt a dream last night . . . Sydney on a Charger  . . . helmet covered with leaves’.

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6th JUNE 1916: WHEN SHALL I GO ON HOME LEAVE -THIS YEAR? NEXT YEAR? SOMETIME? NEVER?

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

SOUASTRE DIVISIONAL RESERVE.

6th June Tue: Marched to new billets at SOUASTRE , arrived at 10.pm.

*********************

Bertie in Uniform

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to MARIE NEAL HIBBETT & ARTHUR HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.

Hand delivered in envelope addressed: ‘To Dearest Mummy from her loving Bertie’.

I had another volunteer to pose for me for this. Drew it in less than 10 mins.

Cartoon This year
WHEN SHALL I GO ON HOME  LEAVE. Cartoon:  Pte A. H. HIBBETT, 1916.       

                                                                                  Tuesday June 6/ 16.

WHEN SHALL I GO ON HOME LEAVE ? This year? Next year? Sometime? Never?  Nearing the Top. (1)   

My Very Dear Mother & Father & all of you,

Your ripping parcel came this dinner time. I have just read the letter.  Am sending this letter with another comrade out of ‘A’ Company who is going today on leave. Remember me writing at Easter sayingLet us hope (D.V.) that I shall see you at Whitsuntide(2). 

All my comrades & Sydney say I shall be going Home this week. The boy who is going today says I follow tomorrow. He lives near Home & said he will take it to my Home if he does not post it. He will most likely tell you I am following him on Leave tomorrow.

You had an idea we were about to go to the trenches!  Well as a matter of fact we move from this Place of Rest towards the line today. Time was getting rather anxious about Leave. I have washed a shirt, that comfortable shirt you sent last, so that I can wear it for when I go.

I might go to have tea with Sydney this evening, but on these ‘moving’ days we are busy packing up etc.

I will conclude now. I think I have said too much with regard to Leave. Sydney’s Leave came suddenly but as you seem to be anxious for news of my Leave I have told you as much as is wise to.

Battle of Jutlasnd
Battle of Jutland, off Coast of Denmark. 31st May -1st June 1916. <http://www.britishbattles.com&gt;.

We all know of the Naval activities & I am pleased we won (3).

Goodbye for the present. Thanking you all again for your kind wishes.

I see Dodger had a go at printing the label this time.

Your affec.  Bertie. 

PS Send Ida this month’s Pickwickian Leaflet (4).

****************

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

The tension & anxiety for Pte Bertie Hibbett must have been almost impossible to bear a hundred years ago – on the move but not knowing where  – to ‘Leave Parade’ & Home  – to the Front & Battle with always the thought that he might never see his Home again. He plays a childhood game, does a sketch & washes a shirt; homely comforting activities.

(1Nursery Counting Game: Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief.  Fortune-telling Song counting plum stones, daisy petals or grasses etc. to answer questions: What will I be when I grow up?  or When will I marry? ‘This year, Next Year Sometime, Never‘.  Rould Folk Song Index No 802.

‘Nearing the Topdouble meaning here for Bertie – ref to nearing the top of the grass and ‘Going over the Top‘ into No Man’s Land and to Battle.

 (2) D.V.  Deus Vult Latin ‘God wills it’/ ‘God willing’  Whitsuntide: 50 days after Easter (Pentecost/ ‘pente’ Greek for fifty). Major Christian Festival. Celebrates the Gift of Holy Spirit on disciples of Christ. Acts 2.1-31. 

John Jellico Admiral of the Fleet.
Admiral of the Fleet, John Jellicoe.
www.eyewitnesstohistory.comjutland1
<http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com&gt;

(3) Battle of Jutland: North Sea off the coast of Denmark. 31st May -1st June, 1916. Largest Naval Battle of WW1, Both sides claimed Victory, with great loss of life.

Royal Navy, under Admiral John Jellicoe, lost 14 out of 28 battleships and twice as many lives as Germany (which lost 7 out of 16 dreadnought battleships) but British achieved long-term aim to prevent Germany gaining access to Britain & the Atlantic. 

Pickwickian Leaflet.
Pickwickian Leaflet. May 1916. A.H.H.

(4) Pickwickian Leaflet for June 1916 has not survived.

*******************

NEXT POST: 11th June 1916.

4th June 1916: THE END IS AT HAND! THE REGIMENT WIPED OUT BY A COLWICK CHEESE & I M-M-MI-IGHT BE HOME NEXT WEEK!

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

LUCHEUX.

1st – 4th June.  In Rest Billets. Battalion training.

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Bertie HibbettPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to MARIE NEAL HIBBETT & ARTHUR HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd  Walsall.

‘The end of all things is at hand’.  (1)

‘. . . ye remember that I told you of them’. (2) Epistle and Gospel for:-

Sunday after Ascension Day. June 4/ 16

My Very Dear Mother & Father & Basil,

I picture you three this time; I fancy Harold does not go Home and spend tea with you every Sunday. I went to see Sydney this afternoon at his billet; he was however in a field opposite, writing in answer to a long letter I asked him my usual, i.e. if he had had anything in the post, & he gave me Dodger’s most jolly letter of 28th May (last Sunday).

Dodger, you did make I larf & Sydney too smiled when I repeated what you said about that incident at Abergele (3). Sydney also showed me several PCs, one was a photo with Vernon, oh how his old face came back so. By the by Norman* is not at all a bad letter writer & he too can send long epistles.

en-wikiimgres
James & Finley Bell Ltd, Glasgow. Empire Blend. 2 oz tin.

I had a very kindly & most lengthy, extraordinarily lengthy letter from Miss Foster*, with some toffees & a Tin of Three Nuns Tobacco (4). Alas! I have not a decent pipe, but you need not send me a pipe as I m-m-mi-ight be Home next week at this time.

www.belvoircreamery.wordpress.com>
<http://www.belvoircreamery.wordpress.com&gt;

I wrote to Miss Foster yesterday but forgot to mention the Colwick Cheese (3). Miss Foster was told that the Colwick Cheese would turn veryhigh’ & she did not wish the Regiment to be wiped out just by a Colwick Cheese.  She wanted to know if I knew of anybody receiving a cheese that smelt; just write & tell her in your next that I have not & I will give up the expectation; Miss Foster can cancel the idea & tell her we shall not need a Colwick Cheese to make us run.  Tell her that the jokes about the cheese made me nearly split with laughing.

Five Franc Note 1916.
Five Franc Note. 1916. Selling now on ebay $159/£109.

Sydney, knowing that I had ‘petit d’argent’ & my unexpected Home Leave coming any day now, generously presented me with a handsome note, five francs; which is, in English money, 3/7d. (5)

What a lot of fuss & talk etc in the papers & by people at Home over this Daylight Bill (6).

William Willett 1856-1915. Property developer eg Sloan Street, London 1880s.
William Willett. 1856-1915. 

Punch (7) has  a great deal to say about it and chaps from Leave have said how puzzling it was, the clocks had not been altered & they were all giving different times.

Latest news of Leave is that I am leaving the Batt. on Tuesday – if all goes well & Leave is not stopped.

I will close now with Best love to all.

Always your affec.  Bertie.

PS: Should I have the luck to go Home next week, I wish to have just a quiet time with you at Home. I shall not put myself about to speak to friends, only keep my promise of invitation. I feel that I couldn’t bear to have the bell ringing everyday with people to see me, a Private Buy in no extras. Take things as a M of C. (8).

Please, thank you, dear Mum, I had rather wait till I see you before you give me a prayer-book (9). I am trying to make this one last the record. Nice letters of the Evans aren’t they? 

*********************

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

The apocalyptic language used in this letter indicates how well an ordinary soldier like Pte Bertie Hibbett understood that a Major Battle was about to take place on the Western Front and that great loss of life was inevitable. For him there was no way out. Even if he got Home Leave it would be very short and he would have to return to the Front. His longing is for a quiet time and the comfortable commonplace of Home.

Emperor Domitian. AD 81- 96. (born AD 51).
Emperor Domitian. AD 81- 96. (born AD 51).

(1) ‘The end of all things is at hand’ 1 Peter 4.7: . . be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves’. Possible date: Roman Emperor Domitian’s persecution of Christian Church. AD 81 -96.

(2) Sunday after AscensionGospel: John 15.26. Ye remember that I told you’.When the comforter is come, he will testify of me. . . the time cometh that whoso killeth you will think they do God service . . . When the time shall come ye may remember. . . ‘

(3) Abergele Holiday Aug 1914 when someone sent the family a very ripe cheese?  Colwick Cheese: a soft curdy cheese bowl-shaped for sweet or savoury fillings/ 17th Cent). Colwick: a village south of Nottingham.  

Amazon.com-Original-Vict-print-1916.81j8A9KuMhL._SY450_(4) Three Nuns Tobacco: Advert reads: ‘Philosophy, under the most trying conditions, is to be found by distracting the mind from the contemplation of immediate disaster. Give a man a pipeful of Three Nuns – the familiar fragrance woos back the mind to the comfortable commonplace . . . puts fresh heart into a man and gives him assurance that there’s a good time coming’. NB. It took my father until the 1950s to give up smoking.

(5) Five France Note worth 3/7d  (i.e. 43p today). Selling now on ebay for $159/£109.

(6) The Daylight Bill 1916: pioneered by William Willett 1856-1915. (Property developer Sloane Street, London 1880s). An attempt to aid economy/farming by increasing daylight hours. Greenwich Meantime was advanced one hour in Spring & put back one hour in autumn.(i.e. 21st May & 1st Oct 1916).

(7)  Punch 1916: ‘So simple and successful has been the progress of the Daylight-Saving Scheme, under which the clock is to be put forward an hour during the summer months, that a movement is on foot to help the War Office prophets by putting the War back a couple of years’. NB 1914 prophets had said ‘The War will be over by Christmas‘. 

(8) The Book of Common Prayer. 1662from which Pte Bertie appears to have taken most of his biblical quotations. He knew & took comfort from the fact that his family would be reading the same passages designated for the day.

NEXT POST: 4th June 1916. Enclosed Letter to Basil/ Dodger.

21ST APRIL, 1916: ‘FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO’.

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

ECOIVRES.

17th Apr. Mon: In Brigade Reserve. Very quiet day. 18th Apr. Tue: Ditto. Enemy artillery active at 4.20 pm and 5.30 pm.  Otherwise quiet19th Apr. Wed: Ditto. Very quiet day.

20th Apr. Thur: Ditto. Battalion relieved by 11th CHESHIRES, relief complete 11.40 pm.

21st Apr. Fri: ECOIVRES  Battalion in Huts by  2.0. am.  Marched to new billets at CHELERS (1) starting 10.0 am arriving 2.15 pm.

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Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER to MARIE NEAL HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall. 

Good Friday. Ap 21st 1916.

‘Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves’. (2)

‘Forgive them for they know not what they do’. (3)

My Very Dear Mother,

St Paul's at Crossing
The Crossing at St Paul’s Walsall. East Window, 2001.
St Paul's Interior Walsall
St Paul’s Walsall as the Hibbett Family knew it.

I do hope you too are having sunny Spring weather like we are having today: 

I think the time must be about 11 o’clock so I am picturing you all attending St. Paul’s – the light of the sun is beaming through the windows & giving the interior a bright appearance. It lights up the pew that Mum & Dad, Basil & Ida are in. 

Heleborus Niger (Christmas or lenten Rose).
Heleborus Niger:(Christmas or Lenten Rose).

As I listen to a thrush singing its lovely song in these budding trees it reminds me of you all singing together with the choirboys’ treble voices There is a green hill far away’ (4) and ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’ (5). All the bushes & trees are showing new life & the fields look beautiful in their fresh green coat.  I send you some white flowers with a tinge of purple on the back of the petals; they remind me of the Passion Flower (6).

I received your welcome letter of Friday 14th & Palm Sunday,  yesterday (Thursday 20th). How funny that I too wrote to you on the Friday following Harold’s Birthday & again on Palm Sunday & you, like me & Mr W.H. Cozens*, headed our Sunday letters by that familiar name. The Batt. came back to huts last night; I saw Sydney & gave him your letters to read as well as Harold’s, Basil’s & Miss Foster’s; he handed to me the shirt & the handsome three bladed sharp knife, for which I thank you very much dear Mum.

Sydney was inclined to be cross with me (and rightly too, I think too now) for telling you that I should be Home soon. Well I did hear I was included in the next six, but where ‘the STING’ of it all was I forgot at the moment Leave has the ‘knack’ of stopping anytime.

gpembertononline.coukLegionww1Wounded.html FieldAmbulance
Motor Ambulance: gpembertononline.co.uk

You will be thinking of Our Lord’s Heavy burden of the Cross and his long walk with it to Calvary (7).

The Batt: too are most likely on their long march in full pack of about 15 kilometres this morning.  Grateful to say I came by Motor Ambulance – lucky beggar eh?  So I am waiting here for them.

Stourport on Severn. Cast Irton Bridge 1870.
Stourport on Severn. Cast Iron Bridge. Built 1870.

I will wait till Easter Sunday and enclose this in with that.  Harold told me he, Miss Bore & a few friends were going to Stourport today (8); well I hope they will enjoy themselves, but it seems a pity Harold does not have more holiday to enable them to go on another day than Good Friday, eh Mum?

Having been behind them and away from the Batt. I have had some difficulty in getting off letters to Harold, Miss Foster etc.

I have heard that Leave starts again soon, lets hope so.  Oh! I shall see you –  so ‘bide a wee an’ dinna fret’ (9). I think of Our Lord’s saying on His Way to the Cross ‘Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves’ (2).

They said the enemy shook hands with us at Xmas (10); I think they should do so today & more so being Good Friday don’t you?‘Let us forgive one another’ for man doesn’t know what he is doing when he is at War.

* * * * * * *   Continued on Easter Day.

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

My father’s Good Friday Letter is full of the language & imagery of the Passion of Christ – seen as an ever-present reality in his experience of War & the pity of War – with Nature the only sign of Life and hope of Easter. 

(1) Chelers: village near Tincques, approx.10 miles (15 km) from Neuville St Vaast & 13 miles (22 km) from Arras. That Pte Bertie went by Motor Ambulance shows he was not fit enough to carry a full pack – 50-58 Ibs in 1914 increased to 70-90 Ibs by 1916 (included steel helmets, wire cutters, respirators & extra ammo).

(2)Weep not for me. . .’ Luke 23.28. Jesuswords to women of Jerusalem on road to Calvary. (3) Forgive them . . . ‘  Word of Jesus from the Cross/ central to the Gospel message. Luke 23.34. Both sayings (in Luke only) proclaim a universal Gospel of Good News/ show Jesus’ unprecedented concern for women, poor, sick & all outcasts of society.

(4‘There is a green hill’. HymnMrs. Cecil F. Alexander. 1818-1895. Inspired by grassy hill outside Derry, Ireland & serious illness of her daughter. Published in Hymns for Little Children, 1848.

(5) ‘When I survey . . . ‘  Hymn. Isaac Watts 1674 -1748. TuneRockingham. Edward Miller. 1790. (Charles Wesley said he would give up all his other hymns to have written this one).

Passion Flower. A vine.
Passion Flower. 

(6) Passion Flower: I think he sent home a helebore, as illustrated above.

(7) Calvary. Hill outside Jerusalem city wallsAlso called Golgotha ‘Place of a Skull’. (Greek transcription of Aramaic, Gol Goatha ‘Place of execution’. King James Bible translates Latin ‘Calvariae’ in Vulgate Bible as ‘Calvary‘).

(8) Stourport on Severn. Rapid industrial rise when Staffordshire & Worcester to Birmingham Canal built in 1768. Plenty of history & industrial architecture to interest Harold Hibbett & his friends.

(9) ‘Bide a wee an’ dinna fret. . .’  Leisure Hours. 1878. cf Hibbett Letter 27th March 1916.

(10) Christmas Truce 1914 & 15. See Menu Page.

NB I took a copy of  this letter to Embrace the Base at Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp/ Cruise Missile Base. October 13th 1983. Hung at the Violet Gate celebrating world-wide religious/spiritual messages of peace. e.f.w.

NEXT POST: 23rd Apr. 1916. Easter Day.