Monday, August 3, 1914, dawned cool for the time of year. The weather was unsettled, like the continent of Europe. The harvest was being gathered around Mapledurham. It was the last day of peace for Britain as the hell of the Great War broke loose.
The day before, Dick Cleare sang in the choir of St John the Baptist Church, next door to his home in Church Terrace, now part of Gosbrook Road. His family were probably with him, including his brother Edward.
On Sunday, August 3, 2014, that last day of peace was remembered at St John’s 100 years on. And it was remembered at St Peter’s, Caversham, where Dick’s parents were married, and at St Margaret’s, Mapledurham, where 30 men of the village were lost during that war.
Together, the three churches of Caversham Thameside and Mapledurham offered everyone the chance to remember that last day of peace. Pat Cleare, widow of Dick Cleare’s son Tony, was among them.
Dick’s older brother Edward was remembered at St John’s. He was killed in action in March, 1918 and is remembered on the Arras War Memorial. Beneath his name and so many others, it says “Their names liveth for evermore”.
The Revd Mike Smith, Rector, said: “As we remember the beginning of the First World War and the subsequent horrors and tragedy that followed, we as churches want to take the opportunity to remember those dark days and the fragility of our own world, and to pray for peace.”