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The Service At The Bath Blitz Memorial, 24th April 2016


Crowd scene

Meeting up.

The ceremony was arranged for 3 pm at the memorial.  Guests started to assemble a few minutes beforehand.

Although a dull day, it stayed dry for our service.


Bath Spa Band

Arrival music.

The Bath Spa Band played to welcome those who came to watch and everybody taking part as they took their places.


Brian Vowles

Welcome and Introduction.

The welcome address was given by Brian Vowles, the Project Chairman and one of the Project's co-founders.


John Hauselman

John Hauselman read a poem about wartime friendships.

  As we make our journey down the winding road of War -
  We cannot linger very long at Friendship's lighted door
  We lift the latch and cross the threshold, but we cannot stay,
  We exchange a greeting and we pass upon our way.

  Many fellow-travellers along the road we hail -
  We fall in step, then off we go along another trail
  With our wartime friends we part - for so it has to be.
  But their names are written in the book of memory.




The Blessings, by John Hauselman.

A Blessing and Prayers were offered by John Hauselman.

This led on to The Lord's Prayer recited by all.

Last Post

The Last Post.

The Last Post was played to signal the start of 1 minute's silence for private contemplation.

To signal the end of the one minute silence the trumpeter from the Bath Spa Band played "Reveille".


Harry reads

Harry Hemming told of humorous memories.

The memories were those of a lady named Joan, who was part of the Admiralty staff transferred from London to Bath.

Joan told of unconventional adornments to an office in Queen Square; of firewatching in the Empire Hotel; of bomb damage to her billet in Batheaston.


laying the wreath

Laying the wreath.

The wreath in memory of those killed in the Bath Blitz was laid by two pupils of St Mary’s RC Primary School.


Their wreath

The Wreath.

The wreath was donated by St Mary’s RC Primary School.


Brian Vowles

Final Address.

Bryan Vowles extended thanks to The Bath Spa Band for their musical contributions, and to St Mary’s RC Primary School for the donation of the wreath.

He also thanked those who had attended this year's service and gave the date (23 April 2017) of next year's event.

He informed those present that the conversion of the bomb-scarred former Labour Exchange had started, and he had written to the developer suggesting that an information plaque should inform the public of the significance of the building.

Bath Spa Band

The Bath Spa Band.

The Bath Spa Band played again as everybody dispersed.


Click here for information about the plans for the 2017 ceremony.


An item was placed on-line on the Chronicle website the day after the service, with the article appearing in print in the next Chronicle issue:

Bath remembers the Second World War Blitz that killed 417 people in the city

Wreath Placed
Imogen, left, and Madeleine of St Mary's Catholic Primary School in Weston.

A gathering has been held outside Royal Victoria Park to remember the 417 people who died in Bath during the Blitz.

People gathered at the Queen's Parade entrance to the park to watch the small ceremony which has been held for the last 14 years on the nearest Sunday to the bombings.

A wreath was donated by St Mary's Catholic Primary School and placed by two pupils, Madeleine and Imogen, beside the plaque which remembers those who died.

To mark the start of the ceremony, the Bath Spa Band played an arrival song and the Last Post was played. Then a minute's silence was held.

Bath Spa Band
The Bath Spa Band.

A survivor of the blitz, Harry Hemming, from Oldfield Park, recalled light-hearted memories of the terrible events.

Harry served for 25 years in the Army, and his wife Eileen lost almost her entire family during the bombings on Monday, April 27, 1942.

The family, who lived at 23 Snow Hill, sheltered in their cellar when they heard the air raid sirens sound.

"One of the things that sustained us during the war years was a sense of humour. Even during the terrible nights of the bombing there were sights and experiences that raised a smile" he said.

Harry Hemming
Harry Hemming.

"So while the memories of the survivors of the Bath Blitz tell of the events from a number of personal points of view, it is no surprise that some of the lasting memories include humorous things."

Harry read out a woman called Joan's account of the blitz in Bath, which was gathered by Bath Blitz Memorial Project treasurer Jim Warren.

Jim Warren
Jim Warren of Bath Blitz Memorial Project.

She recalled: "We were moved from London to Bath and we were allocated a building in Queen Square for our offices when we arrived.

This had previously been a museum, and in one large room there were numerous more-than-life sized statues of naked Greek gods hurling what looked like dinner plates.

We had to push these to one end of the room to get our desks in, and we concealed them behind temporary screening.

This was OK in September, but when winter came we found that the central heating radiators were at that end too, and with Greek gods and screening in the way, we were not getting much heat.

So the screening was taken down and the Greek Gods were brought out to stand around the office overlooking our desks.

Luckily, this was not an office that was open to the public.  Goodness knows what visitors must have thought of our unconventional office decorations!

Later, I was transferred to another office in what used to be the Empire Hotel, and I had to take my turn fire watching.  Firewatchers were provided with camp beds to sleep on, in the basement between the racks holding ship's ledgers.

The firewatchers were instructed to answer the phone, if it rang, with 'Ship's Book Room here'.  Try saying that in a hurry when woken in these strange surroundings in the middle of the night, trying to use the phone above the noise of the air raid sirens blasting forth."

Memorial text
A plaque dedicated to the 417 people who died in the Blitz

She added: "I had been billeted in a house in Batheaston, near the church.  After fire watching at the office during one of the Baedeker air raids on Bath, I returned to my billet the following morning, and found that a bomb had landed in the corner of the garden during the night.

The bomb had uprooted an apple tree which had been blown into the air, coming down through the roof of a single-storey extension at the back of the house.

The tree, which was fully grown and a fair size, had remained upright, with its roots resting on a bed (which happily had been unoccupied that night) and its branches were sticking out through a jagged hole in the roof."



Click here for information about the plans for the 2017 ceremony.

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