THERE was a time when the immediate panacea for anyone suffering
shock or extreme stress was to thrust a lighted cigarette between
their lips, if possible followed by a mug of well-sugared tea.
Certainly cigarettes played a large part in helping both soldiers
and civilians cope through two world wars, regardless of the (then
unknown) long-term effects.
The Revd Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy was well aware of the comfort
that soldiers found in lighting up, and he became so famous for
offering Woodbines - the most popular cheap cigarettes of the day -
to the troops in the trenches of the First World War that he was
for ever after known as "Woodbine Willie" (Comment, 1
He described his chaplain's ministry as taking "a box of fags in
your haversack, and a great deal of love in your heart". He won the
Military Cross in 1917, at Messines Ridge, in Flanders, after
running into no man's land to help the wounded during an attack on
the German front line - an act that was fully in character with his
passionate care for his soldiers.
Born in Leeds, Studdert Kennedy had read divinity and classics
at Trinity College, Dublin, before becoming an ordinand at Ripon
Clergy College, then in the city of Ripon, next to the Diamond
During the war, he became a Christian Socialist, and later
worked for the Industrial Christian Fellowship. It was on one of
his lecture tours to Liverpool, for the ICF, in 1929, that he was
taken ill and died at the early age of 46. Now he is not only
remembered in the Church of England Calendar on 8 March, but on a
new plaque put up by the Ripon Civic Society, on the site of the
original Ripon College. It was recently dedicated by the Bishop of
Ripon & Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer.