"If the men can't go to church then the church must go to the men"

Over 5,000 men of God left their pulpits to serve alongside the soldiers during the First World War.  179 Chaplains died during the conflict.  Here you can read about some who had connections with Southwark.


Edward Noel Mellish VC, MC

The first Army Chaplain to be awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War was  Edward Noel Mellish (24 December 1880 – 8 July 1962).  Mellish was Assistant Curate at St Paul’s Deptford in the Diocese of Southwark.  During the First World War,  after losing his brother Richard at the Battle of Loos in early 1915, Mellish volunteered for the Army Chaplaincy serving from May 1915 until February 1919.  Reverend Mellish was attached to the 4th Battalion of the Royal Fusilers and held the rank of Captain.

His citation for the VC reads as follows;

On three consecutive days, the 27th to 29th March 1916, during the heavy fighting at St Eloi, Belgium, Captain, the Reverend, MELLISH, went to-and-fro continuously between the original trenches and the captured enemy trenches, attending to and rescuing wounded men. The first day, from an area swept by machine-gun fire, he rescued 10 severely wounded men. Although his battalion was relieved on the second day, he returned and rescued 12 more of the wounded. Taking charge of a group of volunteers, on the third day, he again returned to the trenches in order to rescue the remaining wounded. This excellent work was done voluntarily and was far outside the sphere of his normal duties.

In 1918, Mellish was also awarded the Military Cross for bravery.

After the war Revd Mellish was Vicar of St. Mark’s, Lewisham.  He later became vicar of Wangford-cum-Heham and Reydon, in Suffolk and later still in Great Dunmow, Essex and Baltonsborough, Somerset.  Mellish died in 1962 at the age of 81.

His Victoria Cross is held by the Royal Fusiliers Museum at the Tower of London.


Clifford Woodward MC

Born in 1878, Clifford Salisbury Woodward was educated at Marlborough School and Jesus College, Oxford.  After ordination, he served as a lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and chaplain of Wadham College, Oxford before becoming rector of St Saviour’s (Southwark Cathedral) with St Peter’s Southwark.

Woodward volunteered for the Army Chaplaincy in May 1916 leaving the Cathedral and was posted to the 147th division, known as the 2nd London Division.

Just a few months later, he earned the Military Cross for 'conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty.  'An unedited copy of his Gazette citation states that this was earned at High Wood between the 15 and 19 September: a phase of the Battle of the Somme.

The Rev. Canon Clifford Salisbury Woodward, temp. Chapl. to the Forces, 4th Class, A. Chapl. Dept. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during operations. He tended and brought in wounded under very heavy shellfire, and continued this gallant work for 36 hours without stopping. He showed an utter disregard of danger, and gave confidence and relief to many.

In 1918, he became Rector of St Peter's, Cranley Gardens, in the West End of London, becoming a Canon of Westminster Abbey and Rector of St John's, Smith Square in 1925. Woodward was consecrated Bishop of Bristol in 1933 and in 1946 became Bishop of Gloucester. 


William Charles Campling

Born in North Bradley, Wiltshire in 1887, Campling served with the Essex regiment during the last few months of the war.  Campling studied at Bishops College Cheshunt, ordained Deacon in 1914 and priested a year later serving his Curacy in Wimbledon until 1918 when he enlisted into the British Army as a Chaplain.  Campling was chaplain to the 15th battalion the Essex Regiment and the 11th Somerset Light Infantry

On his return to England, Campling was Vicar at St Augustine’s, Honor Oak Park, Vicar of St Andrew’s, Coulsdon, Rector of St Luke’s, Charlton.  Campling was made Honorary Canon of Southwark Cathedral in 1944.

Campling kept a diary during his 2 months on the front line which can be found here


Cyril Narramore Were

Cyril Narramore was born in North Bradley in Wiltshire, the son of the Vicar, Edward Ash, later Bishop Suffragan of Derby 1889-1909, and of Stafford 1909-1915, and Julia Were.  

He went to Christ Church, Oxford graduating with a BA in 1903 and MA in 1907.  He was ordained deacon in 1904, and priest in 1905, by the Bishop of Winchester.  From 1904 to 1907 he was curate of Bramshott, Surrey.  From 1907-1908 he was appointed Rector of Samford Brett, and from 1909-1911 Curate of Addlestone.  He was Domestic Chaplain to the Bishop of Lichfield 1911-1913, and Domestic Chaplain to the Bishop of Southwark in 1914.

Cyril’s appointment as temporary Chaplain to the Forces (4th class) was gazetted on 21 December 1917.  He served in France 1917-1918, with 12th Rifle Brigade, dying from gas poisoning whilst his Battalion were in the support trenches in France in January.

Revd Cyril Were’s name appears on the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department 1914-1918 War Memorial in the Sanctuary of the Royal Garrison Church of All Saints, Aldershot, Hampshire and he is buried at the Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension, Billeul Nord, France.