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Posted in Aid, Disasters, Historical articles, History, Institutions, Medicine, Philanthropy, Religion on Monday, 19 March 2012
This edited article about the St John Ambulance Brigade originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 669 published on 9 November 1974.
Sea rescue by volunteers of the St John Ambulance Brigade, by Clive Uptton
At football and cricket matches, in cinemas and theatres, at exhibitions, tattoos and country shows or wherever public entertainment is staged, the navy blue uniformed men, women and ‘teenagers of the St John Ambulance Brigade maintain their unobtrusive watch, ready to comfort and treat the sudden accident victim.
The army that wears the eight-pointed white cross of mercy is just one branch of the Order of St John, the chivalrous crusade born in the Middle Ages and today a vast international medical movement of 150,000 volunteers: a sobering thought in an age of increasing materialism.
The ambulance brigade, which celebrates its centenary in 1977, was set up by the order to cope with the flood of accidents that came with the Industrial Revolution. Today, the value of their voluntary work is underlined by the current accident rate in Britain: 20,000 deaths, 300,000 serious injuries and five million minor ones. The brigade treats 400,000 accident victims a year, involving four million hours of voluntary public duty. It is a high-speed medical corps that operates on land, at sea and in the air . . .
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Posted in Aid, America, Bible, Historical articles, History, Institutions, Missionaries, Philanthropy, Religion, War, World War 1 on Monday, 5 March 2012
This edited article about the Salvation Army originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 658 published on 24 August 1974.
An American First World War poster featuring a Salvation Army girl by George M Richar
“How wide is the girth of the world?” roared General Booth. The crowd of Salvationists that milled around him cried back, “Twenty-five thousand miles.” “Then,” bellowed Booth, triumphantly, “We must grow till our arms get right round about it!”
Within months, Booth had mobilised his Army, and the troops were setting off to war across the seas, ready to take the nations of the world by storm.
On March 10th, 1880, Commissioner Scott Railton and his soldiers landed in the United States of America. The siege of New York had begun. Two months after his first service, which was held in what one appalled minister had called “The most disreputable den in the United States,” Railton was able to report back to headquarters in London the figures for his American recruits: 16 officers, 40 cadets, 412 privates. One year later the number of converts topped 1,500. Railton travelled across the sprawling land mass of America, setting up headquarters north, south, east and west of the great continent.
Meanwhile, 23-year-old Kate, Booth’s eldest daughter, had opened fire in France. In Australia, two men from England had set out by themselves to take up the Salvationist cause.
In the summer of 1882, the man who was to become part-creator of Salvationist strategy for conquest abroad, had set out for India. Frederick St. George Lautour Tucker was a Greek scholar, and knew Hindustani, Urdu and Sanskrit.
When he arrived in Bombay, a huge police force came to meet him. The authorities in India, hearing that the Salvation Army was about to ‘capture’ India, believed that this meant invasion by thousands of troops. They were relieved to find that the thousand strong army they had expected was only made up of three men and a girl but they could not have known then that Tucker and his three assistants were to create more havoc than an army of one thousand could have done.
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Posted in Aid, Historical articles, History, Institutions, London, Missionaries, Religion, Sinners on Tuesday, 10 January 2012
This edited article about the Salvation Army originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 899 published on 14 April 1979.
In the middle of the 19th century, people in London’s East End fought a grim battle against poverty. With jobs ill-paid and hard to come by, it was generally a losing battle, and one in which they lacked any leadership. Yet a leader was at hand.
Many poor Londoners made regular visits to the pawnbrokers, to deposit an article of clothing or some other possession as security for a small loan. In one of these shops, in Southwark, worked a young man named William Booth. It was an unlikely job for the man who was to become the champion of the poor and unfortunate.
Booth had been born in Nottingham on 10th April, 1829. His father had apprenticed him to a pawnbroker, and this brought him into contact with poverty, and all the misery it can cause. To him it seemed that the only solution was to be found in practical Christianity, and he became a lay preacher.
His apprenticeship over, he did not at first abandon pawnbroking, but obtained a post in London. He continued to practise as a lay preacher, and joined a break-away branch of the Methodist Church. In 1858 he became a minister.
He now began his campaign which was to occupy him for the rest of his life. Supported by his wife Catherine, herself an effective preacher, he toured Britain, holding open-air meetings in various parts of the country. Soon he gave up his official ministry to devote himself to his own brand of evangelism.
Establishing himself once more in London, he set out to spread the gospel among the East Enders. Through religion, he was convinced, they could be won over from drunkenness and crime.
At an early stage Booth had compared his campaign to warfare, with his followers as “Christ’s soldiers”. In 1878 he formed them into the blue-uniformed organisation which we know as the Salvation Army.
William Booth, the first “General” of the Salvation Army, knew the popular appeal of pageantry and music. So military-style parades, and bands playing stirring tunes, became a familiar part of the Army’s activities.
To begin with, Salvationists had to face up to ridicule, and even brutal violence. At one time the police even arrested them for “provoking breaches of the peace”. But gradually their dedicated work won them universal approval.
By the time General Booth died in 1912, his organisation had long since spread to North America and other lands. The Salvation Army has since gone from strength to strength, its soldiers always on the march against sin and misfortune.
Posted in Aid, Heroes and Heroines, History on Wednesday, 9 March 2011
This edited article about Henri Dunant and the birth of the International Red Cross originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 918 published on 25 August 1979.
Henri Dunant was on an urgent mission. This Swiss banker was planning business projects in Algeria, but first he needed authorisation from the French government, which then controlled Algeria. At that time the emperor of France, Napoleon III, was in northern Italy, where his army, in alliance with the Piedmontese, was fighting to expel the Austrians.
The International Red Cross was founded by Henri Dunant. Illustration by John Keay
Dunant decided to follow him there, and in June 1859, he arrived near the village of Solferino – and became witness to the horrors of a battle.
Dunant was appalled at the suffering he saw, and the woefully inadequate facilities for tending the wounded. Forgetting his original errand, Dunant gathered together a few volunteers and did what he could to save the wounded and comfort the dying. Three years later he published an account of his experiences in Un Souvenir de Solférino. In it he strongly advised that “voluntary aid societies” should be formed to help victims of war. His plea attracted world-wide interest.
In Geneva, Dunant and others formed a committee to pursue his aims. On 22nd August 1864, the first Geneva Convention was signed, and the committee was nominated to head a new organisation devoted to alleviating the crueller effects of war. The aim was to care for the wounded of the war, whether enemy or friend, and for its emblem the committee chose the Swiss flag reversed – a red cross on a white background. In this way the International Red Cross movement was born.
The operational side of the organisation was placed in the hands of national Red Cross Societies in the member countries. The work of these societies, later joined by Red Crescent Societies in some Moslem lands, was soon extended beyond the problems of the battlefield.
The arrangements made by military authorities for tending the wounded improved considerably. But civilian refugees and prisoners of war were still suffering. Also, when human beings are not inflicting misery on one another, nature can make them the victims of disaster – plague, earthquake, flood or famine. Today, wherever there is suffering, the Red Cross is likely to be on hand to bring aid and comfort.
Henri Dunant’s subsequent life was not a very happy one. Only three years after the foundation of the Red Cross, his business failed. He went bankrupt, resigned from the International Committee, and vanished from public view.
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