Friday, December 11, 2015

Sepia Saturday: The Church Army, WW1

When my husband's grandfather, Roy Phelan, was an Aussie soldier on leave in London he purchased a handful of postcards depicting the Church Army Soldiers' Hostel and posted them home. They show various rooms within the building that were used by soldiers on leave or recuperating from illness - the dining room, the recreation room, the bedrooms - and must have been popular because there are numerous images of the same postcards on the web. Roy may have stayed there as he was a man of faith and was also injured in 1918.

The hostel was set up by the Church of England in the Buckingham Palace Hotel and run by the Church Army. The Army also set up refuge huts in France.

Postcard of the Church Army Soldier's Hostel, Buckingham Palace Hotel
Soldiers in the canteen, Church Army Soldier's Hostel
An Australian called Canon David Garland (who was the architect of Anzac Day) talked about the Church Army in a speech in Australia 1917. This is an extract from that speech:
Extract from a speech by Canon David Garland, the architect of ANZAC Day, November 1917.
And this article was published in a Queensland paper in 1917. I found several similar articles in other Australian and New Zealand papers.

Brisbane Courier, 22 May1917
Roy also sent this photo home. It shows food canteens being carried to through  the trenches to soldiers serving on the Front. The text has been hand written but there's nothing written on the back.

WW1 Postcard. Carrying food up the front line on the Western Front.
This blog has been written in response to the Sepia Saturday prompt that shows a Salvation Army magazine photo of a soldier eating. You may find some more soldiers marching on their stomachs over at Sepia Saturday.


  1. What a wealth of postcards you have there from Roy, and perfect for this week's SS.

  2. It must have been the running joke among soldiers to tell their family and friends back home, "I stayed at Buckingham Palace."

  3. They must have had a steady line of walkers bringing in food that way.

  4. It is hard for me to imagine a thousand church huts at the front. I don't think they have anything like that in modern wars.

  5. The hostel looked so impressive from its imposing frontage, and the nal image was so apt for this week's theme.

  6. Nicely matched to the prompt challenge!

  7. A clever take on the prompt image with very interesting extract and newsclip.

  8. Very appropriate postcards, and I'm impressed that you have preserved them all this time. Recently I read a history of the war and was surprised at how often British soldiers could get leave to return to London. I don't know that the other national forces were so generous.

  9. Quite heartbreaking the horror we commit against each other. Nice that there are moments like these.


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