World Wars 1 and 2


‘Desolated Belgium’ Meeting: 20/11/14


Buck Free Press 20/11/14 (p.8)

Through the instrumentality of Mr J. C. Grove, a crowded audience at the Institute and Reading Room, Penn, were on Monday evening given a thrilling and graphic revelation by the Rev. J. Chas. Cox L.L.D., F.S.A. of the barbarities of the German military occupations in the desolated cities of Louvain, Antwerp, Termond, Lieges, Malines etc. The arrangements for the lecture were admirably made by Miss Thevenard, Secretary of the Institute. The lecture was illustrated by the means of a lime-light lantern, and the slides revealed with all the grim eloquence of the camera the unparalleled ruin and devastation caused by the invading German hordes.

Mr J. C. Grove having briefly introduced the lecturer, Dr Cox, at the outset, explained that the proceeds of the lecture were being forwarded to the Belgian Legation, and he also congratulated the people of the neighbourhood on assisting the refugees in other ways. Having dealt with the general condition of Belgium before the outbreak of war, the industry of its people, the success of its small farming, its religious freedom, its excellent administration of Poor Law and Charities, the education and intelligence of its people, and the incomparable treasures of architecture and other arts, the Lecturer described the havoc which had been wrought since the advent of the German soldiery. Some excellent pictures of the famous Churches and Town Halls of Belgium, many of them taken since the bombardments, revealing the ruthless and unjustifiable way in which the invaders had destroyed or damaged irreparably the work of centuries. His personal impressions of the beauties and historic interest of the old Belgian towns, and particularly of Louvain, were followed with great interest. He referred in detail to the unique features of the respective towns, and presented illustrations of the devastation dealt out to the undefended towns by the enemy’s artillery. The Lecturer observed that all those horrors which had been committed and which were so terrible, the ghastly loss of life on both sides, were so awful that some people seemed to think that civilization was on its trial, and that days of massacre would prevail in its place. He thought, however, that one might venture to say there was a silver lining to that awful cloud. He believed, with Robert Browning, that God was in his Heaven, and that all was right with the world, and that through the working of His providence an England would arise purified from the extravagance and love of luxury and so-called sport. Already the nation was getting purer, the people more prayerful, and the bitterness of political life and religious bigotry had died out amongst them. He closed an excellent lecture, which had all along held his audience enthralled, with those memorable words of Longfellow’s “Arsenal at Springfield” and expressed the belief that ere long the German people would be only too pleased to throw off the yoke of the accursed Prussian militarism, and once more there would come the reign of Peace.

A number of portraits of the leaders of the Allied Nations were then projected on the screen, and received with every enthusiasm.

A vote of thanks to Dr Cox for his lecture and to Mr J. C. Grove for his instrumentality in bringing Dr Cox to them, was ably proposed by Mr A. Birch Reynardson, and cordially passed, and the gathering closed with the singing of the National Anthem.

Thanks are accorded to Mr W. Evans for the loan of chairs. The lantern was operated by Mr E. Walker, representing Mr E. G. Wood of Queen Street, Cheapside. Messrs Day (senior and junior) very kindly undertook the sale of tickets, and seeing people into their seats.

The proceeds of the lecture, £26 4s (?) were sent to the Belgian Legation.

Bucks Free Press 20/11/14 (p.5)

THE KING OF THE BELGIANS. – At the conclusion of Evensong, the Belgian National Anthem was played in honour of King Albert’s Fete Day, and was listened to by several Belgian Refugees living in the parish or nearby, and was much appreciated by them.

Maude Smith’s WW1 Diary – 1914.  Thanks to Jon Walters and Ron Saunders.