Army Scripture Readers in WWII

75 years since ten ASRs prepared to deploy into France: June 1944

Photo - Men of the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division of the British Army coming ashore at Gold Beach near Normandy, France, on 6 June 1944 at the start of the Invasion (credit - public domain)

From the SASRA archives...

Headquarters Notes 

On the 6th June the long anticipated landing in France as a prelude to the invasion of Germany took place by the United Nations under supreme command of Gen. Eisenhower, who, in his message to his sailors, soldiers and airmen on the eve of landing spoke of the coming invasion of the Continent as “The great Crusade towards which we have striven, these many months," and after assuring them that, the “hopes and prayers of liberty-loving-people would march with them." he closed his message to his fellow-Crusaders with the invitation to “beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon the great and noble undertaking.” 

The following evening our Patron, His Majesty The King, broadcast a message to his people from which we quote the following extracts:

“After nearly five years of evil and suffering we must renew that crusading impulse on which we entered the war and met its darkest hour. We and our Allies are sure that our fight is against evil, and for a world in which goodness and honour may be the foundation of the life of men in every land. That we may be worthily matched with this summons of destiny, I desire solemnly to call my people to prayer and dedication. We are not unmindful of our shortcomings past and present. We shall ask, not that God shall do our will, but that we may be enabled to do the will of God; and we believe that God has used our Nation and Empire as an instrument for fulfilling His high purpose. I hope that throughout the present crisis of the liberation of Europe there may be offered up, earnest continuous and widespread prayer. We, who remain, in this land can most effectively enter into the suffering of subjugated Europe by prayer, whereby we can fortify Sailors, Soldiers and, Airmen who go forth to set captives free, The Queen joins with me in sending you this message. She well understands the anxieties and cares of our womenfolk at this time, and she knows that many of them will find, as she does herself, fresh strength and comfort in such waiting upon God. She feels that many women will be glad in this way to keep vigil with their men folk, as they man the ships, storm the beaches and fill the skies. At this historic moment, surely not one of us is too busy, too young or too old, to play a part in a nation-wide, perchance a world-wide vigil of prayer, as the great crusade sets forth."

There will be no need for any urging on our part to encourage our members to continuous prayer, in response to our most gracious Sovereign's desire and invitation, and that of the Commander of the Supreme Allied Expeditionary Force.

Our friends and supporters will be grateful to know that we are sending ten of our Scripture Readers to accompany the Invasion Troops as soon as the Authorities are able to make the necessary arrangements. These will be under the superintendence of Mr. Robert Laidlaw, who for the past five years nearly, has rendered the Association such valuable service as one of the Field Directors. So that friends may be able to follow the Readers by name and pray for them, they are:

G. Barton

A. Ball

W. Davies

E. Farwell

C. Main

R. J. Samson

W. G. Taylor

J. N. Watkins

W. Watson

H. G, Young