Review: Faith & the First World War

Pupils from Shell and Remove were joined by guests from the Town to listen to the Revd Canon Andrew Studdert-Kennedy (C3 1972-76) talking about his grandfather Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, better known as Woodbine Willie, as he was renowned for handing out ‘Woodbine’ cigarettes to the men in the trenches. For his bravery in being alongside the men in the trenches, he was awarded the Military Cross.

For many, including Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy himself, the image of an almighty God was challenged by the scale of horror and suffering during the Great War. It was hard to believe in a God who was in control when seeing the suffering and death of so many in the trenches. Through his poetry, Studdert Kennedy offered a different image of God: a God whose presence was seen in the suffering and vulnerability of the men who fought and died.

It was very fitting for this talk to take place in the Memorial Hall at this time of remembrance, as it challenged not only a common perception of an almighty God, but also reflected on the purpose of our remembrance celebrations and the role of religion within this. In summary, a talk that gave the audience a lot to think about.

The Revd Dr Janneke Blokland
Assistant Chaplain

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