By kind permission of John King, Author
It was the August issue of St Mildred’s magazine that revealed certain problems at the church. The May magazine had pointed to the problem when it was revealed that pew rents had only been £85 for the previous half year when once it had been over £500 a year. The problem was that out of the pew rents the vicar was expected to subsist. In 1916 the pew rents were so low that the vicar was only receiving £15 a month. Farquhar therefore believed he had reached the margin beyond which he could safely remain at St Mildred’s. He concluded the answer was the abolition of pew rents which he claimed put off new residents from coming to the church and their replacement by a free will guarantee endowment fund. The churchwardens advised the church members that the problem would be discussed at a meeting after the holiday period. It should in passing be noted that the problem was not unique — Christ Church, Lee, had the same problem.
The August of 1918 was also a critical year for Dr Lansdale. His eldest son William had followed in his footsteps, entering Guy’s Hospital in 1909, eventually graduating in November 1914. He immediately joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in which he became Captain the following year. In January 1916 he went out to France as M.O. to a field ambulance, then he was M.O. to the RFA and finally for eighteen months he was M.0. in charge of the 5th Royal Berks. on 26 August he was directing some of his stretcher-bearers to take cover when he was killed by a shell.
Lansdale’s death was followed by two more from Grove Park in September — Alfred Hawes on 29th of the month when his tank was hit by four shells at the same time; and John W King (no relation to the author) of 2/20th London Regiment the following day. King was described as a devoted member of the choir at St Augustine’s over many years. His officer wrote of him that he was a fine man, a fine soldier, admired and loved by all who knew him and it was mainly owing to his gallant behaviour that we reached our objective. He was killed by a sniper in the advance”.
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