Chaplain ( Pastor Nick of Fives, Lille)
Tall and spare, with his slender face made even thinner by the rough life he leads, but with a direct gaze under his bushy eyebrows, deepset eyes alight with the burning flame of faith; thus the protestant chaplain appears to us, just as he appeared to thousands upon thousands of soldiers during the hard five years’ length of the course of the war. The First Corps to which he was attached went everywhere, everywhere where there was an effort needed, heroic deeds to be done, or a sacrifice to endure; and the chaplain was a faithful companion, a friend on both good and bad days, in times of anguish, in times of danger, and at the hour of death. He accomplished his task simply, quietly and without weariness. His labour was all inward, unrecognised by many who were only attracted by vain outward show, but how many soldiers, how many of these morose and quiet northern lads learned to love his tall outline appearing in the midst of danger; over how many sufferings did he bend, and how many of the despairing did he rescue? The true Christian has no thought for himself, so it is necessary for those he aided to pay him public homage.
Henri Nick (1868-1954)
Henri Nick trained as a protestant cleric in Montauban, and after a period in the Gard (Provence) went to work in Fives, a poor industrial district of Lille, which became a hotbed of left wing politics. There he raised his family and spent the rest of his life. He founded a mission there and devoted much of his time to the fight against alcoholism, and establishing holiday villages in the Pas de Calais. He was a well know figure in Lille travelling the streets on his bicycle (see photograph in the third link). During the German occupation of WW2 he was active in helping Jews escape deportation and helping the Resistance. He is still remembered in Lille as the following links demonstrate.
A street in Fives, today.
The protestant temple in Lille, today. The congregation which now included all protestants, appears to be shrinking rapidly.