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Reform Magazine | June 28, 2017

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Crescent Boys

Crescent Boys

Rosie Dawson unearths a touching story of the boys from an Everton church in the First World War

In August 1914, a group of nine young men were holidaying in Cumbria. United in their love of ginger biscuits, they decided to form a society, “The Ancient Order of the Ginger Knut.” They chose a motto –“Keep smiling.” Each evening at supper their president – a red-head – would break and distribute a biscuit among its members.

Within weeks, these men had enlisted into the army and were bound for different theatres of war. But they vowed to keep each other in mind on Sunday evenings, by breaking a ginger nut and eating it, whether they were training at home, or in a dugout or trench far away.

This story is told in an extraordinary volume that can be read – although it rarely is – in Liverpool Records Office. It contains monthly editions of a newsletter called Young Crescent: Near and far and was published by a school teacher, James Moir, who was a member of the Crescent Congregational Church in Everton.

Each of the 53 editions of Young Crescent includes letters written by family and church members to men serving on the Front, and from the men back home. “The fighting has now developed into trench warfare and our firing line is about 200 yards from the enemy,” writes Will Mackie from the Dardanelles in June 1915. “After being relieved we go to the rest camp – what’s in a name! – but we are about two miles from the firing land and are continually shelled.” …

Rosie Dawson is senior producer in the BBC’s religion and ethics department

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This is an extract from the November 2015 edition of Reform.

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