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Pte E S Kilner of 1/6 West Yorkshire Regt, only son of Mr and Mrs Harry Kilner of 21 Clifton Place Shipley has written to his parents stating that whilst on sentry duty he was hit with a bullet underneath the left eye. An officer gave him some morphine and he did not feel any pain. He is thankful it is no worse than it is. Pte Kilner also mentions that he has had a chat with Rev R Whincup and speaks of the rev gentleman as a good friend to all of them.
“‘Mr Whincup is the idol of the men and the message he sent home was that he is enjoying the best of health. “Mr Whincup is a splendid fellow and everybody regards him as the right man in the right place. He goes up to the trenches regularly to bury the dead and to hold services in the trenches.” Pte Arthur Ruddock of 196 Leeds Road, Windhill.
“The men at the front look upon Mr Whincup as a parson and a man. They regard him as a ‘topper’ “I have received 200 letters from the Front during the past four months and it would be difficult to find one which does not contain an appreciative reference to Mr Whincup. “I hope the people of Windhill will be as faithful to their vicar as the vicar is to the men in the trenches.” W.A.S Robinson, member of the Independent Labour Party and leading recruiter of soldiers.
The right man in the right place
There are many reports that the relationship between army chaplains and the officers and men they served were not always good. The professional soldiers saw many chaplains as needing too much attention and living in comfort well behind the line. But it is clear from these extracts that Rev Whincup earned the respect of all, especially for his willingness to go into the danger zones,
At Ypres There were a few cases in the Division of men being drowned in Communication Trenches. Several times men lost their footing in two or three feet of water and would have drowned but for a comrade’s help, as they were too exhausted and loaded with equipment to save themselves. Naturally it was impossible to move along the front line in daytime or to get from one post to another across the open. Our chaplain, Rev R Whincup, again and again in later days stated that when he visited the front line trenches (which he often did, as no one in the Battalion is likely to forget), and when he realised the state of misery in which men were existing and their dogged optimism, he was amazed and could hardly believe such endurance possible. E.V. Tempest History of the Sixth Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment; Vol 1 – 1/6th.
The other dugouts in Thorpe Street were also adorned with pictures though of differing kind – usually noble arrays of Kirchner prints or coloured drawings from La Vie Parisienne. Hours of animated conversation were spent in discussing the respective merits of these different types of female loveliness. When the Padre visited the dugout his chair – or biscuit box – was carefully placed so that his eye should not be ‘intrigued’ by the more scantily dressed figures E.V. Tempest History of the Sixth Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment; Vol 1 – 1/6th.
Group of 1/6 West Yorkshire Regt officers taken at Estaires, June 1917 Rev Richard Whincup is second from the right on the front row
25 August 1917 In the evening a farewell concert and entertainment was given to Rev Cpt R Whincup M.C. prior to his departure to England to be demobilized. The padre had a great send off and every one was sorry to lose him. He had served with the Battalion from August 1915 and by his unselfishness and constant anxiety to serve the best interests of the officers and men he had gained a unique influence in the Battalion. Unblushingly Frankly and unblushingly a civilian in outlook and sympathy, he helped to counteract some of the vile tendencies of military life – a narrow sympathy and low moral standard – but always without a trace of priggishness. Appreciation was expressed during the concert by Lieut- Colonel Wistance, Major Clough and Rev Major Sherwell, Chaplain to the Division. E.V. Tempest History of the Sixth Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment; Vol 1 – 1/6th.