Article of the week: Army snippets
6 November 2021
Army snippets shared by General John Larsson (Retired)
HE CAME HOME WITH A BABY
WHEN 17-year-old Bramwell Booth visited the Andrews family, poverty-stricken members of The Christian Mission at Bethnal Green, he found that Mrs Andrews had just given birth to yet another child.
The parents were in despair – the mother was near the point of death. When she pleaded with Bramwell to take care of her newborn, Harry, he was so moved that he arrived home carrying the baby in his arms.
Mrs Booth rose to the occasion. She welcomed Harry into the household and Emma, her 13-year-old daughter, became like a mother to him. When Harry Andrews was 15, Emma Booth married Frederick Tucker, the Army pioneer in India, and Harry persuaded ‘Mother’ to take him with her to that country.
From his earliest years, Harry showed a flair for healing work. He became an officer, and in his first appointment at Nagercoil opened a dispensary where he could keep his simple remedies and receive people.
Bramwell Booth helped his ‘East End baby’ to train as a doctor and, in time, from Harry’s small dispensary grew the famed Catherine Booth Hospital – and, indeed, all the Army’s vast health services around the world. It Began with Andrews was the apt title given to the first book that reviewed the Army’s medical work.
In 1919, when Colonel Harry Andrews was 46, he was requisitioned for medical duty by the British Indian Army and was killed in action in a border war. He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his bravery under fire.
THE KING WHO BECAME A SALVATIONIST
‘AM arriving tomorrow,’ announced a terse telegram addressed to General Bramwell Booth in 1920. It was signed by King Hudson of the Gold Coast – now Ghana.
When interviewed by the Overseas Department, it emerged that this tall, well-built potentate was king of one of the kingdoms within the Gold Coast, was a Christian, was a planter with three cocoa farms and was married with seven children. He had learnt of the Army’s work in neighbouring Nigeria, felt that his country needed the Army and had come offering to pioneer its work in his home country.
He offered to pay for his training as a Salvation Army officer and his own fare back to Accra. As evidence of his financial means to back the new venture he produced a bank book showing a large credit in a London bank and casually drew from his pocket six massive gold rings and a number of gold nuggets.
The General gave the go-ahead and King Hudson became Brother King Hudson when he was enrolled as a soldier at the Clapton Congress Hall. Shortly afterwards he became Cadet King Hudson, as he joined the session of cadets at the training garrison. When commissioned he was appointed to open the work in his home town.
The Army’s Year Book annually records these events in a brief sentence: ‘Salvation Army operations began in Ghana in 1922 when Lieutenant King Hudson was commissioned to “open fire” in his home town of Duakwa.’
IN the early 1980s it was decided to build a block for married cadets and their families at the International Training College at Denmark Hill. The IHQ property team looked enviously at the adjacent green, which, like the college, fronted Champion Park and reached right to the main road of Denmark Hill.
It was a large site and would be ideal for the new block. Originally it was intended to accommodate a quadrangle of houses to match the ‘women’s quad’ on the other side of the Assembly Hall, but those plans were never fulfilled. The council now looked after the vacant site.
If only it were ours, thought the property team. ‘I think you will find that it is ours!’ commented a grey beard in the team. ‘When the site was cleared of housing after the Second World War, the Army did not sell all of it, but instead leased a large part of it to the council for a peppercorn rent so that it would be available if ever needed.’
Checks were made with the Finance Department – and, sure enough, every year for the best part of four decades a cheque for £1 had faithfully been received from Southwark council. The land was the Army’s!
The block for married cadets was built on it, and the site will now house the new territorial headquarters – a case of visionary foresight rewarded.