Heart­felt note to help boost morale

Let­ter to troops gave them some com­fort

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Marc McLean

A let­ter of sup­port sent to nearly 700 Ruther­glen sol­diers mid­way through the Great War has been un­earthed this week ahead of the Ar­mistice Day cen­te­nary.

Daniel Lusk Rodger, the founder of Ruther­glen Evan­gel­i­cal In­sti­tute, penned a let­ter on Jan­uary 1, 1916 that was copied and sent to our lo­cal troops serv­ing on for­eign soil.

Mr Rodger was the brother of town provost Adam K Rodger and a dis­tin­guished mem­ber of the Ruther­glen com­mu­nity, hav­ing spear­headed the build­ing of the In­sti­tute in 1885.

Many sol­diers went to church at the build­ing in Green­bank Street be­fore war broke out in 1914, and by 1916 it was recorded that 682 In­sti­tute mem­bers were serv­ing in WWI. By the end of the war, 1034 men were on that Roll of Hon­our – 164 of those men did not re­turn home.

Thanks to his­to­rian Zen Boyd at the heritage cen­tre in Ruther­glen Li­brary, we have ob­tained a copy of the heart­felt let­ter that Daniel Lusk Rodger sent to In­sti­tute troops at the be­gin­ning of 1916.

The let­ter, ad­dressed from the Evan­ge­lis­tic In­sti­tute and in per­fect hand­writ­ing, reads: “Dear Com­rade, at the reveille bu­gle call as the new year dawns, I has­ten to wish you warmly ‘A Happy New Year’.

“This wish to some may seem vain but, as many of you have your­selves told me, you find hap­pi­ness even among the hard­ships and dangers of the trenches in do­ing your duty and de­fend­ing our cause and coun­try and the loved ones at home.

“We who can­not stand by you in the fir­ing line at the Front try to back you up here at home as best we can and we earnestly pray that among the happy days of this new year may be the great day of the fi­nal vic­tory, and glad day when we wel­come our con­quer­ing heroes home. “May God soon grant it. “I re­main ever your sin­cere friend and com­rade in the cause. D L Rodger.”

The first evan­ge­lis­tic com­mit­tee was formed in 1885 with 23 men, in­clud­ing Daniel Lusk Rodger as pres­i­dent and his brother Adam as vice-pres­i­dent.

Dur­ing the war years, an In­sti­tute Work Party was formed to send food, cloth­ing and let­ters to the troops at war.

As the ca­su­al­ties were re­ported, at the In­sti­tute kept its own Roll of Hon­our for its con­gre­ga­tion.

Scores of let­ters were re­ceived from the troops ev­ery week, and it ap­pears that th­ese were read out ev­ery Sun­day at an In­sti­tute meeting at­tended by mil­i­tary staff.

Hand­writ­ten The let­ter sent to Ruther­glen troops at the be­gin­ning of 1916 to boost morale

Let­ter writer Daniel Lusk Rodger, who founded the Ruther­glen Evan­gel­i­cal In­sti­tute

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