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Number nine




Since the last private pamphlet was issued, giving
extracts from letters from all parts of the war area, it has
been my privilege to visit all of the principal countries
engaged in the present life and death grapple of the
nations. My time was spent chiefly in Great Britain,
France, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia. The
object of my journey was to study how the practical
Christlike ministry on behalf of the multitudes of men
and boys in the armies and prisoner-of-war camps might
be more widely extended.

At the time of my first visit to the war zone, in the
first stage of the struggle, this campaign of helpfulness
had been inaugurated in but one or two of the many
countries arrayed against each other. Now virtually
every one of these lands is open to such unselfish effort,
and the work is actually organized in every important
field and is accomplishing results which are nothing less
than marvelous. The opportunity has become vastly
wider. Then there were only 700,000 military prisoners ;
now there are fully 5,500,000. Then the number of men
summoned to the colors in all the belligerent countries
numbered possibly J 7,000,000; now more than twice that
many are under arms. This time I found fully 5,000,000
men in military hospitals*

Never in the history of the world have there been
massed together such vast bodies of men. These men are
the very flower of the nations. They are accessible.
They are keenly responsive to kindness. They stand in
desperate need of the ministries of the Young Men's
Christian Association to body, mind and spirit. The

additional installment of letters given in this pamphlet
constitute typical stories from life, and on every page
present an irresistible appeal.

We are entering upon the most terrible winter of
mental and physical strain and suffering that men have
ever known. That the readers of these lines will rise up
and afford needed relief I have no question.


124 East 28th Street,
November \ f J9J6. New York Gty.



The Streets of London

In the midnight patrol work, as you perhaps know, we spend
all night picking up from the streets of London soldiers and "loose
ends" over the city, and see them safely housed in Association
Huts. We also meet men back from leave and en route to the
trenches, who arrive in London on very early trains, before the
'buses or tubes are running. We steer them to the huts, where
they get everything the hut has to offer. Often there are as many
as 140 to one hut. Then we mobilise the patrol cars about 5 a. m.
and transport the men across the City to the station of departure.

Robert Stuart.

A Father's Appreciation

The immense amount of good done by the Young Men's
Christian Association is, of course, well known and acknowledged
by everybody. When this awful war is over, the Association will
certainly occupy a much greater part in the thought and heart of
the people than in former years. My son, Second Lieut. R. A.
Bogue, was wounded in the fight of July 1. He suffers from
gunshot wounds in the body, while his left foot, being partly
blown off, had to be amputated. I was sent for by the War Office,
but owing to circumstances into which I need not enter I could not
go to France. My daughter went. She writes: "From Glasgow
to Etaples I found everyone most kind. The Association is splen-
did. Nothing is too much trouble for anyone, and when they
leave you it is 'Cheer oh ! I'm sure you'll get good news !' I feel
I shall never be able to do enough in the interest of the Young
Men's Christian Association, and this is the thought of most vis-
itors." You will be pleased to know my son is "Doing well." He
was second in command of his company, and was wounded while
making the attack — alas ! all the other officers were killed !

John Bogue, Glasgow.

A Soldier's Letter

Dear Sir,

I take great pleasure in writing this little note to thank you
for the great kindness you have done for me in getting the photo-
graph of my wife taken. I am sure you must have had great diffi-


culty in locating my wife's whereabouts. The picture came as a
great surprise to me as I never thought when I filled out that little
card at the building close to where I was stationed that your Asso-
ciation would have taken so much trouble for our interests, but it
seems that nothing is too much for them to do. It is these little
acts of kindness that prove to us the wonderful work of your
society in this country and also abroad. I will now conclude wish-
ing you every success and thanking you for past favors, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Frank Gannon.

G. S. Eddy's Evangelistic Tour

Note : So great is the opportunity for evangelism among the British
and Colonial troops that Mr. Eddy cabled for his brother Brewer Eddy to
join him. The "War Roll" to which reference is made is a roll of soldiers
who sign up for Christian living as they have enlisted for war.

Sunday evening in one of the big huts where the meeting is
about to begin, hundreds of men are seated at the tables and get-
ting their tea and coffee or supper, as no evening meal is served to
them from the army rations. Many others are writing to the old
folks at home, away in Australia or New Zealand. Captain "Peg,"
of Canada, who is with us to lead the singing, steps on the plat-
form and announces a hymn. Immediately several hundred men
flock to the seats and begin singing the Christian hymns they knew
at home. Eyes light up and faces are aglow as they sing "Nearer,
My God, to Thee," "Lead, Kindly Light," and "Fight the Good
Fight." Gradually the numbers increase until a thousand men
are singing. Then we begin the address. Here are men far from
home and fiercely tempted, open-hearted, warm-blooded boys who
have gone down in the obscene streets of Cairo and Port Said and
who will have to face the temptations of the big base camps. We
begin on moral themes, the temptations of drink, gambling, and
impurity. Within half an hour it seems as if the better nature of
every man is with us. The Christian ideals of home, the Sunday
school, the Church, and of their own best selves, surge up again,
until we have seated and standing a whole battalion of twelve
hundred men who are ready to make the fight for purity with the
help of Jesus Christ. I shall never forget that closing hymn as
the men rose to sing "God Be With You Till We Meet Again."
I saw tear stained faces before me as the whole twelve hundred
joined in the song "Tell Mother I'll Be There." Heaven itself
seemed to bend down over the meeting that night.

At the close of the meeting one boy stepped up and handed
me a letter, as he said: "I thank you for that message tonight,
sir. I will be true to the little girl I left at home. Here is a
letter I had just written to a bad woman in London. God helping
me I will not go. I have signed the War Roll tonight and I am
going to keep true to it." Hundreds of men filed past and shook

our hands in gratitude. One humble private, who had been a
pilot out at sea, handed me a poem which he had written. The
last lines of the poem read :

"And if I fall, Lord, take an erring mortal
Into those realms of peace and joy above;
And, bye-and-bye, at Thy fair mansion's portal,
Let me find there the little girl I love."

The next night we go to another one of the forty Young
Men's Christian Association huts in this district. It is evident
from the start that we are going to have to fight for the crowd.
The men seem restless. Some are tired after a long route march,
others have come in wet and cold after drilling all day in soaking
rain and mud, in from wet tents and the half shelter of a single
damp blanket. They will go to bed wet and get up to put on wet
clothes and go out to drill in the soaked plain, but they are dog-
gedly cheerful. Now we gather the crowd and begin singing the
old choruses, "Pack up your troubles in Your own Kit Bag and
Smile, Smile, Smile," "Keep the Home Fires Burning," "The
Long, Long Trail," "Tennessee," "My Old Kentucky Home,"
"John Brown's Body," and the camp songs that they love. Soon
we have them singing the Christian hymns and now about five
hundred men are listening to the Christian message and many
decide for Christ. So we go on night by night with these warm-
hearted Australian boys, fearless, open as the sunshine, but fiercely

I have just come in from a great meeting with two thousand
of the sailor boys crowded in a big theater. The concert was
going on when we arrived and the jeers and yells of the crowd
drown some of the voices of the performers and it is evident that
we are going to have a fight on. Captain "Peg" steps to the stage
and soon has them singing, "We'll Never Let the Old Flag Fall."
Roars of applause follow and they clamor for more. Out in the
glare of the footlights and looking into that sea of faces, we begin
to fight for that audience. Here are two thousand tempted men
whom we shall never see again. God give us victory tonight ! In
five minutes the whole theater is hushed ; you can hear a pin drop.
After half an hour the meeting is interrupted by the noise of the
band outside. Surely the men will bolt now and leave the meet-
ing. I said to them : "Boys, there is the band. Let everybody go
now who wants to go : I am going on. Every man that wants to
make the fight for character, the fight for purity with the help of
Jesus Christ, stay right here." There was a yell from the audience
and not a man left the theater. The band thundered on, but the
crowd was with us now and the hopes of two thousand hearts for
the things that are eternal surged to the surface. Some five
hundred men signed the War Roll, pledging their allegiance to the
Lord Jesus Christ. One sailor boy comes up to thank us, saying

that he had all but fallen the week before ; simply for lack of six-
pence he had been saved from sin. With God's help he will now
live for Christ. Another comes up who had been drinking heavily
and has quarrelled with his wife. He did not have the price of
a postage stamp to write to her. He has signed the War Roll
and wants to know how he can be saved from drink. A captain of
the navy follows and then others. Oh, it is the opportunity of a
lifetime. Pray for us as we go from camp to camp, to face these
warm-hearted and fiercely tempted men who must soon face death
in the trenches or on the battle ships. Pray that there may be
great revival of religion in the armies now at war.

G. S. Eddy.

P. S. — The drunkard has just come back, bringing two other
men whom he has won for Christ and with whom he has started
a little prayer group.

A Tribute to a Heaven-Sent Organization

Written by a Tommy

I am just a "Tommy," and therefore as any one of the many
hundreds of thousands of soldiers who have thronged the Asso-
ciation Huts, I know my experience is identical to theirs, and in
voicing my appreciation I am voicing theirs, for don't I live
amongst them, and I have both heard and seen. Picture, if you
like, a soldier who, after enduring the most awful nerve-racking
torture that before the war I think most of us would have thought
beyond human endurance, either through wounds or sickness, has
been sent down to the base hospital, and thence to the various base
camps, until he arrives at a camp which is much the same as all
other camps, "dull as ditchwater." One is weary and "fed up"
with the everlasting red tape, and bored with the monotony of
routine, which seems all the worse because one's nerves are all
on edge. Oh, I remember with what joy a comrade said to me in
this certain base camp, "Come up with me to the Association Hut."
"Do you mean to say they are out here?" I replied. You see it
was my first time away from the firing-line, and I did not know.
"Yes, indeed, and mighty glad we are of them," he replied. I
assure you I heartily endorsed his opinion when a few minutes
later I entered this hut. I was greeted with that glad smile
of welcome, which I shall always associate with the Young
Men's Christian Association now, by real ladies, the first I had
seen for over seven months. I only wish to God that I could
adequately describe my feelings, and I know mine were the same
as thousands of my brothers-in-arms. It seemed to me, but, oh,
I cannot describe it, that amidst all the turmoil and din of this
awful war, with the horrors of the retreat and the first battle for


Ypres imperishably photographed on my memory, I had found a
haven of rest with a most soothing and homelike atmosphere.
Perhaps this may seem an exaggeration, but just let any doubter
go through the same horrors, and suddenly find himself, as I did,
wafted into such a place, and without a shadow of a doubt he will
agree with me. Yes, indeed a haven of rest, where one could
read every kind of paper provided and play those splendid old
indoor games so dear to an Englishman's heart. Also, if you
choose, you can sit down and write to those who are waiting and
watching at home, all necessaries being provided gratis. That is
why I felt that this place verily saved my reason, as it has done
thousands more of my comrades, and the very least I can do surely
is to endeavor to write this expression of my feelings.

I am sure it must be most gratifying to those indefatigable
ladies and gentlemen to know that they have given relaxation and
cast a ray of sunshine across the path of many a poor soul who
has passed out through their portals for the last time into the
shadows of the night, to find a hero's grave somewhere amidst
those shell-torn trenches. We know what Christ said of those
who labored for the good of their fellow-men, and what would
be their ultimate reward; this reward I hope, as so many of my
comrades-in-arms hope, will be meted out to those who work in
this cause, they who are part and parcel of that "God-sent organ-
ization, the Young Men's Christian Association." May God bless
their efforts, and may the three great principles embodied in their
tri-sided emblem be a living and glorious reality to the souls of
the men of the British Army is ever the wish of one of his
Majesty's "Tommies."


The way in which Shrewsbury is opening up is gratifying.
During the first three weeks after its erection, our Hut was used
by 5,450 prisoners — largely men taking part in the class work just
begun. That means an average of 1,820 a week, and is a very
good total when you consider that the Hut is only 32 by 32. It
has seen right good service. At the beginning of each period, a
member of the committee standing in the doorway of the Hut
rings the bell, a bell improvised from a piece of old iron hanging
on a rope and struck by a small wooden mallet. Then the mem-
bers of the class come scurrying together into the two little rooms
to be in time for the marking of attendance. Down they sit on
their hard benches at the long narrow tables, and great husky
bearded men become school children once more.

Along other lines, too, these men in Shrewsbury needed en-
couragement from outside their world of barbed wire. For in-
stance, any positive or aggressive religious work had been un-
known before. Now, in addition to the regular bi-weekly visit

of a German pastor, we have organized a Bible class held twice
weekly, for those who feel a hunger for spiritual food. Besides,
we are arranging an athletic meet — the first these men will have
held. It is intended to awaken new interest in sports and games,
and get the prisoners to hard physical work.

At Leigh too, we have arranged for a meet in July and the
prisoners are busy with training. In the games and competitions
alone 340 men have been enrolled, and elimination matches of
football, hockey, fist-ball, etc., are held daily. To encourage orig-
inality in handicrafts, we have a camp exhibition in view, not so
much to find markets, as to show the whole camp what some men
have accomplished through ingenuity and application. Just by
way of an example, some mechanically gifted prisoners have built
an electric clock in Leigh and intend to install a similar chronom-
eter in each compound.

At Handforth our work has gone on encouragingly. Period-
ically I make the trip to the camp, bowed down with the weight of
many parcels. You know how cool an English summer is ordi-
narily, but one afternoon I actually wilted my collar in my role of
porter pro tern. — which refreshing experience has a wondrous
home-like touch. Recently I procured a lithographic apparatus,
at least the stone, for the rest was built in the camp, and on it we
had the diplomas printed which were used for the Athletic Meet.
This event kept the men busy for two solid days. I have no de-
tailed reports handy as yet, but I know casualties included at least
one broken nose.

K. G. Hamilton.


Where it Really is Warm

My word, it's warm out here, and no mistake ! The great thing
is to find the men something cool to drink. I have just purchased
700 cases lemons, 300 lemons to a case. That won't last us long.
Got a supply of ice to some of the camps. That's a real luxury
for the men with a temperature of no to 115 .

A Secretary.

Dear Sir: Will you and your Association kindly accept my
thanks and appreciation (and it is the sentiment of thousands of
others) of the kindness and labor of the ladies and of your own
staff in doing so much for us here in Egypt ? Everything possible
is done for our comfort and enjoyment. What we should do with-
out your Association I do not know, and a cup of real English tea
is a great luxury. Tea in Cairo at the majority of places is not



On the Banks of the Tigris
The Post of the Association Four Miles from the Turkish Line

Mat Huts at the British Army Base in Mesopotamia
One of These is Used bv the Association

worth drinking, and many a time instead of a cup of tea I have
gone and had beer in preference, very often in doubtful company,
but with your Association anywhere in the vicinity dozens besides
myself have had our refreshments in good Christian companion-
ship, and so temptation has been at arm's length instead of in the

One of His Majesty^ Soldiers in Egypt.

The Impressions of a New Secretary

The work is most fascinating, and, to use a little slang, keeps
a fellow going. At Port Said is a typical mat hut built on the
sand, with all the discomforts of desert life, heat, insects, etc.
At Ismailia the hut is very advantageously constructed of boards,
with a wooden floor.

At Cairo, Esbekiah Gardens were very complete and most
inviting. The men at the hospital worship Downes almost. He
has a tremendous hold on their hearts, and the officers won't hear
of his leaving.

Alexandria has several huts, as you know, at Mustafa, Sidi
Bishr, Ras-el-tin, and last but best, Central. The work begins at
7 130 a. m. and we generally manage to get in bed by twelve. The
rush comes from four in the afternoon till ten, when we close.
The canteen is open from ten a. m. to ten p. m. The biggest day's
returns since I have been here were Pounds Thirty-five, not bad
when most of the things sell for a half piastre apiece.

The days are full of good honest work, and the more a fellow
can stand, the more he can find to do. Seven days a week we are
at it. In the Association there are no vacations.

Ralph White.

The Association "At Homes"

I have reorganized a Sunday afternoon social tea. My aim
is to make it as home-like and at the same time as helpful as
possible. The small tables are arranged in the main hall with
white table cloths on, a small vase of flowers, "home-made" cakes,
etc., and the tea is served just as it is at home. Eleven or twelve
men sit around each table at which a married woman presides.
These ladies are specially chosen, and each seeks to turn the con-
versation at her table to things that count for most. While tea is
being served, a soloist sings two or three sacred songs. After the
tea an informal sing-song is held, at which time a short message,
or three or four testimonies, are given. Last Sunday I gave a
little talk on the Association. I found out that among the sixty or
seventy who stayed, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Channel
Islands, America, Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, Africa were
represented. Men from three of these countries told us of Asso-

ciation work being carried on in their own towns and nearly all
said they were going to join the Association when they returned
home. Men on leaving Alexandria have come in and thanked me
for these teas. One man said, "I have been in the army now for
fifteen months, and this is the first time I have sat down to a table
with a cloth and flowers since I left home ; more than that I am

going away inland to tomorrow, and so I do not expect to

have this pleasure again for perhaps that same time."

Some of the Australian troops have been leaving Egypt. A
couple of local missionaries, who have been helping us very con-
siderably in our work, and myself have sailed out to the transports
and given the men a little farewell message. They gather round
the side of the boat in large numbers, and at our request let down
a rope. We send up Testaments, tracts, writing pads and choco-
late, and then speak to them very briefly. This is a wonderful
opportunity and most impressive, and I feel sure that God honors
our efforts. These men have seen the horrors of this war and
know to what they are going. They consider the words of

Our Garden Court is appreciated more and more each day.
Our week-ends are very busy helping hundreds of men, and keep-
ing others off the streets. On a Saturday we have the Garden
Court full and men standing all round, three French classes, a con-
cert in the hall, men reading and writing, and the refreshment bar
"going strong." A large rest camp is being made in Alexandria.
Men who have been up country for some months and need a vaca-
tion are being sent to this camp for one week. We are opening
up a large center there, and the American missionaries are going
to manage it.

S. J. L. Crouch.


His Excellency the Viceroy, in speaking at Simla, said: "I
am extremely glad to be here and to be able to lend my support to
the Young Men's Christian Association. I am confident that not
one word too much has been said of its work. I have known the
Association in Queensland, New South Wales, and in London.
For many years it was regarded as the home of good young men
who were not as other men and had not much stuff in them, but
this war has exploded that idea, as it has many other ideas, and
from the western front in Europe to our cantonment possessions
in Egypt there are men who are thanking their good fortune that
they have been brought into touch with the Young Men's Chris-
tian Association. No organization in this war has come in for
such unstinted and unqualified praise as the Association. When
General Bingley and Sir William Vincent came back from Meso-


potamia the other day they told me that the work in that region
was invaluable and they have put on record their appreciation
of the fine work of the Association. On that I wrote to Sir Percy
Lake and he told me he was ready to receive as many units as
could be sent and could be accommodated. His words might be
quoted: 'I have an extremely high opinion of the work of the
Young Men's Christian Association with the troops. It is almost
beyond praise.' "

A Scene on the Tigris

One scene on the Tigris comes to my mind. Three boats on
the river are filled to overflowing with wounded soldiers. There
are Highlanders from Scotland and Highlanders from the Him-
alayas; there are Christians, Hindus, and Mohammedans. But
all have this in common, that they are wounded ; and on those three
boats there is space for great suffering, yet room for little com-
fort. When the three boats reached Kut-El-Amara, there came on
board two men from the Young Men's Christian Association
depot. I can not tell of all the change they wrought among those
three hundred wounded soldiers — of the food distributed, the
shelters they contrived against the rain (for all the three boats
were exposed to wind and rain), the quilts and mattresses they
laid under the wounded on the decks that were swimming with

Online LibraryPier Desiderio PasoliniFor the millions of men now under arms (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 35)