Heartfelt note to help boost morale
Letter to troops gave them some comfort
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