The Back Parts of War

The Back Parts of War

The YMCA Memoirs and Letters of Barclay Baron, 1915-1919

Edited by Michael Snape


Boydell Press



Far from being ineffectual onlookers, through the YMCA in particular the churches provided a heroic service to the British soldier in the First World War.
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.


October 2009
16 black and white illustrations
322 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Church of England Record Society
ISBN: 9781843835196
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Barclay Baron (1884-1964)
Introduction: The YMCA and the British army in the First World War


(An) excellent book. (...) This valuable record tells the story of unstinting and courageous service by thousands of church people, clergy and laity alike. STAND TO!

Constitutes a significant contribution to looking afresh at 'religion and war'. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY
All the more valuable for the lack of very much published material on the role of the Church of England's chaplains in World War I. THE LIVING CHURCH
A collection not to be ignored for libraries seeking historical memoirs, especially those with a religious views. MIDWEST REVIEW
Tells the fascinating story of the heroic work of the YMCA during the First World War. (...) Once again, Snape enables us to look at the First World War with fresh eyes. The evocative illustrations enhance this fine and important book. THE CHURCH TIMES

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