I’m just finishing a case study on the four Moon Brothers, of Southborough,near Tunbridge Wells. Harry died of wounds on 2nd June 1916, followed by Walter on 4th July, and Charles and John (Jack) on 14th August. So their parents lost all of them within 10 weeks or so. Unbelievable sadness. Four other children remained at home; Ethel, Nellie, Ruth and Herbert (the youngest, aged 7).
Apart from the personal tragedy of the story, and the kind invitation of the family to look at their archive, the story intrigued me because they were all Strict and Particular Baptists. Further, all of them (unusually, statistically,) had identifiable graves, and the parents had chosen texts for the headstone inscriptions.
I am greatly indebted to the fine book ‘With Mercy and With Judgement’ about the Strict Baptists in WW1 by Dr Matthew Hyde. Also to the Ph.D. thesis of the late Dr Kenneth Dix, and to the recent book ‘Amid This Gigantic Sorrow’ by Dr Dix and his daughter Judith James. It deals with the same subject, but using many different sources, and/or in different ways.
Unlike the major denominations, the Strict Baptists have no hierarchy, so there is no authoritative Strict Baptist ‘view’ of the war. On the other hand, of course, other churches held widely differing internal views of the conflict. Nevertheless, in practical terms, the Strict Baptists overwhelmingly felt that it was right to prosecute the war to a conclusion.
However, some published letters of three of the boys, and the headstone texts, reveal a deep level of thought and prayer about not only the war, but the individual’s place in it, and most of all their relationship with Christ in the turmoil and slaughter.
It’ll go off to my supervisor when I’ve tidied up the notes and references. I hope he thinks it’s useful!