We Shall Remember...

Remembrance Day is commemorated on November 11th each year and marks the end of World War I in 1918, the intention of the day is to remember the fallen on both sides in the 'Great War'. In the UK, the official commemoration was moved to the Sunday closest to November 11th 1939, to avoid any disruption to production in factories supporting the war effort. The Sunday observance has remained since, November 11th is also marked with a moment of silence at 11am.

Why the poppy?

As Canada and The United Kingdom observed its very first Remembrance Day, Madame Anna Guérin, a teacher from France, had the idea to distribute poppies in order to raise money for veterans in need. The practice caught on quickly and has continued since.

SNU during the war 

In 1914, there were 145 societies affiliated to the Spiritualists National Union. By the end of the War, it had more than doubled to 309. Spiritualism provided an important source of faith and comfort for many soldiers dealing with the effects of war.” 

In 1914 the SNU made a decision to send 7,000 pamphlets to the front line. In an article in Two Worlds the purpose of these was “to despatch the living and burning thoughts of some of our foremost and ablest thinkers to carry the glad tidings of the Spiritualists’ gospel to the men who are bearing the heat and burden of the ghastly conflict now being waged upon the European Continent.” An appeal was made to assist with the cost of publication, which amounted to £10. However, there were yet further efforts that would unfold. 

In 1914, there were 145 societies affiliated to the Spiritualists National Union. By the end of the War, it had more than doubled to 309. Spiritualism provided an important source of faith and comfort for many soldiers dealing with the effects of war. 

In 1915 the Union’s Vice-President, James J. Morse, also held the role of treasurer for the newly-formed Spiritualist Motor Ambulance Fund. This was born from the mission to provide ambulances to send to the front lines and quickly gained traction. In fact, after just six weeks of opening the fund stood at £232 4s. 6½d. Ten weeks later this had risen to £931 11s. 2d. It is difficult to understand the value of this pre-decimal amount but it could equate to around £660,000 sterling in current value. To raise this amount of money so quickly, and in wartime, was a testament to the generosity of Spiritualists. Again, in Two Worlds, it was reported by J.J. Morse that “the original plan of two cars was amplified to include four cars, and, finally, to obtain five cars!” 

The motor ambulances were duly purchased and delivered to the military depot at Kempton Park, London for onward delivery to the front lines. Each ambulance was given an inscription to identify it as being provided by Spiritualism. It was further reported by Morse that “each car will accommodate two stretcher cases, or three sitting cases, with the ambulance attendant in each case. The engines are unequalled for working, and the fleet of five represents one of the most useful gifts contributed by any denomination.” Whilst attitudes towards the war were varied among Spiritualists, this fundraising mission was something that all were able to support, with Morse’s encouraging words, “Help this fund according to your disposition, and you will put into effect at least one of our seven principles: The Brotherhood of Man.” Further funds continued to arrive until a sixth ambulance could be purchased. Contributions for this also came from New Zealand Spiritualists, with the ambulance inscribed to acknowledge this. 

In August 1916 a letter was published in Two Worlds from Private A. Bamford, who had spotted one of the ambulances in Egypt. He was a Spiritualist, and we can only imagine how uplifting it must have been to realise that his brothers and sisters had made such practical efforts of support. 

Recent Years

The SNU has worked closely with the Royal British Legion and the National Memorial Arboretum to build our own memorial which is now open in Staffordshire, visit their website to plan your visit www.thenma.org.uk   

Both contemporary and historical efforts helped us in our application to be included at the National Memorial Service in London. 2018 was our first year to be featured and Minister David Bruton continues to represent The Spiritualists' National Union each year at the Cenotaph, the whole event is broadcast on national television.    

Read all about it

Below is an excerpt from our Feb 2019 SNU Today magazine, featuring our first time at the cenotaph in London.

Our Annual Peace Walk

This special day in the Unions calendar sees Spiritualists from around the UK gather together, seeking to bring peace into the world, an uplifting service of peaceful prayer, readings, singing and inspirational words. Our Peace walk is open to everyone and you can find out how to join us here

Join our Peace Walk