The Back Parts of War: The YMCA Memoirs and Letters of Barclay Baron, 1915 to 1919
The record of the British churches in the First World War is still mired in caricature and controversy. While most of the historiography on the British churches and the British soldier of the First World War centres on army chaplains, the critical work of civilian religious welfare organisations has been largely ignored. This volume represents an account of the work of the Young Men's Christian Association with the British army in France, Belgium and occupied Germany from 1915-1919. Barclay Baron, the author of these memoirs and letters, was a committed Anglican layman who was dedicated to the cause of Christian social work throughout his adult life. Before 1914 he played a prominent role in the development of the Oxford Bermondsey Mission and, after the war and his work for the YMCA, he became a major figure in the Toc H movement. The story that Baron tells through his memoirs and letters is as salutary as it is unfamiliar; far from being ineffectual onlookers, through the YMCA in particular the churches provided a ubiquitous, unstinting and even heroic service to the British soldier in the months and years of the First World War.
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