Tuesday, October 12, 2010


General Wickberg on his training days:

"We were 500 Cadets in my Session. Our Training Principal was Commissioner Charles Jeffries. But we did not see much of him except in big meetings and lectures. He had opened our work in China, and he loved China. He often spoke about that great country. But it impressed us more to learn that he had been the leader of the "Skeleton Army" that fought William Booth and his Salvation Army on the streets of Whitechapel. Until he was converted and became a Salvationist himself. He was a 'he-man', a quick-witted Londoner, a man of few words, always to the point, who could preach about hell-fire and the tail of the devil, so that we seemed to smell sulphur and brimstone!

"Towards the end of the Session nearly all the men had had an interview with the Principal – but not I. I had almost given up hope of being called. Then one day, after a lecture at Mildmay, I was called. But not into an office. The Commissioner was just ready to leave - putting on his coat. "How are you, Wickberg?" he asked. "What do you read?" - What a question I thought – and then I said: "I read the Bible and Orders and Regulations."

""Of course, you do," said the Commissioner, "what else?"

"Again I thought: 'What a question!' But then I took courage and said: "Well, there isn't much time here to read much else." I shall never forget his reaction. He grabbed me with one hand, looked straight into my eyes and said: "Wickberg, if you are going to do the work of a Salvation Army Officer as you should, you will never have more time than you have here." This he said and departed. But I never forgot it."

A short while later Lt. Erik Wickberg was commissioned to command the HAMILTON TEMPLE CORPS.

I recall General Erik Wickberg's visit to my officer parents' home. Whether there for a few hours or overnight, his visits always included taking time to look through my father's extensive library; many of those books are now on my shelves, including two gifted to me by the General.

Want an immediate insight into a person's thinking, their mind, their soul ?! On your next visit to someone's home, take time to peruse the shelves in their study- remove a book or two to ascertain the amount of wear and tear... What are the treasured resources that speak to their soul and molds their spirit ? The Bible might be the place to begin.

Dr. Sven Ljungholm

(Erik Wickberg (July 6, 1904 – July 5, 1996) was the 9th General of The Salvation Army (1969-1974).
Born in Stockholm to Officers David and Betty Wickberg. He had a keen mind, and as a teenager, he once beat the national Swiss chess champion. Erik became a Soldier of the Salvation Army in 1924 at Berne II Corps, being sworn in by Captain Otto Brekke. In 1925, Erik became an Officer from Bern 2 Corps, Switzerland. His first appointment was corps officer in Hamilton, Scotland. He then took on the role of Training (Education) Officer in Germany, and Private Secretary to the Chief Secretary and Territorial Commander. He went on to become Private Secretary to International Secretary, IHQ. Soon, he moved to Sweden as International Headquarters Liaison Officer. During World War II, he was appointed to Germany, where he was often obliged to sleep in air raid bunkers. When the war was over, he was assigned Divisional Commander of Uppsala, Switzerland Chief Secretary, Sweden Chief Secretary, Territorial Commander of Germany, and Chief of Staff, before becoming the General.


Anonymous said...

Being an avid SA history buff I just can't resist commenting on a story that has both General Wickberg and Commissioner Jeffries' names in it!

I may wind up getting 40 lashes with a wet noodle and/or banished from all Army websites forever but I only write what I'm about to write to show those who are nostalgia prone and talk as if everyone in the Army in bygone years was happy, holy, loving, in one accord with all of their comrades and always asking first "What would Jesus do?" that it just wasn't so. There have always been problems--- and some very, very big ones!

I remember reading once that when General Wickberg was a Captain in the 1930s and appointed to IHQ as the international liason officer (btw, he could communicate in something like 7 languages--oh, I dunno, maybe 4 but it was a very impressive number!)he had to go to Germany on behalf of the General to dismiss 15 different officers. These dismissals had to do with such things as leaving the Army Hall after Sunday night open-air and salvation meeting, only to change from the uniform of Die Heilsarmee into a brown shirt and parade the streets with the Nazis! Certainly there had to be some disconnect to see no conflict between salvationism and Nazism.(then again maybe some burned out, used up officers and formers might disagree with that assessment!lol!)

Commissioner Jeffries of course went on to become the British Commissioner during the Army's UK statistical heyday in the early to mid-1930s. He was Promoted to Glory in 1936 which was the UK's last recorded year of growth. What most people are not aware of though (and it can all be verified in several articles written about the incident in the New York Times) is that then General Evangeline Booth in 1937 got up in front of a packed crowd at the Royal Albert Hall and posthumously accused the Commissioner of being a crook! She caused such a ruckus that Jeffries' children immediately filed a lawsuit against her for slander and defamation of character!

Eventually the retired Mrs. Jeffries intervened and persuaded her children to drop the lawsuit because she felt that the Army's work was more important than any family contempt or bitterness toward Evangeline Booth.

Btw, speaking of 1937, a year among many others that most old-timers might regard as being "back in the days of the Good Old Army" there was not one positive story reported about TSA in the New York Times! Besides the Booth/Jeffries incident, 300 Japanese SA officers stormed THQ in Tokyo in a sit down strike/protest demanding that all "imperialist British officers" go back to the UK and in White Plains, New York the C.O. had the Eastern Chief Secretary arrested for "stealing" $200 in postage stamps from the White Plains corps!

Since Evangeline Booth retired in 1939 and soldiered at White Plains until her death in 1950, one supposes the White Plains incident would've been right up her alley! (lol!)

Anyway, so much so for nostalgia and a time when people acted so much better and more Christ-like than they do today....

Daryl Lach
USA Central

"You Must Go Home By the Way of the Cross to Stand with Jesus in the Morning!"

Graeme said...

I agree that a person's library will tell you a lot about them - but nowadays, it's a bit hard to do when there are so many books on e-books and on the internet. Many people (including myself) read books on the internet - whether at home, on their phone, on I-pads etc. It's a bit hard to go snooping through someone's computer to find the books they're reading. I myself read the Bible every morning either on the computer or through my phone! So much easier - and reminds me of the words of Christ - whenever you pray, do so in secret.

Graeme Randall
Former Australian East