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Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: The Scottish Churches' Huts

Looking Back: The Scottish Churches' Huts

Friday August 19 2016

Looking Back: The Scottish Churches' Huts

A report from August 1916, about the establishment of church huts for soldiers in France.


THE SCOTTISH CHURCHES' HUTS IN FRANCE

By the Rev. GEORGE CHRISTIE

THE first two Huts are open and fully justifying their existence.

On Sunday mornings Parade Services are held in both Huts, and it is an inspiring sight to see the great halls – 120 feet by 30 – crammed from end to end, many standing or sitting on our counters. The evening voluntary services taken by the Guild workers are also well attended, and evening prayers each night at 8 find many worshippers – Scots, English and Anzacs.

Many Guildsmen and sons of the manse have made themselves known. One Guildsman had long had the ambition to serve a Guild Tent at home; now he is helping the hut in France. There are manses in Moray, Fife, Lanark and Perthshire whose sons we have welcomed.

It is surprising how many Scottish boys leave home without a New Testament in their kit; we have written names in hundreds already and given them away with our God-speed – chiefly to men going up the line. It is amazing also to find how the lads revel in letter-writing. A Guildsman managed forty in a week, another nineteen in a day! This comes from the fact that we are dealing chiefly with reinforcements passing through from home and lying here for a few days only. Of course there are hard-bitten soldiers also. Here is a Gordon who has been at Mons – himself wounded, five brothers lost in the war, and his only child killed in an English coast town in a Zeppelin raid.

But well as our Huts are doing we want many things. The writer has seen only one Scotsman in three weeks! We need daily papers, weeklies, all kinds of illustrated papers and magazines, popular books, games, bagatelle boards, local papers from any and every town and country. Above all, subscriptions are urgently required. Of the £5000 asked for, fully £3000 have been received. Who will help further?

So far, life has been too strenuous to allow of looking for other openings, but once the routine is thoroughly settled, we hope to make advance. The Church has set itself to a splendid endeavour, and will carry it through to the end. The Scottish touch appeals, the church note appeals; patriotism and religion together make a true Scot everywhere. This article cannot close without an expression of warm thanks to Commanding Offices and Chaplains for their sympathy and practical help in many ways.


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