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The Service At The Bath Blitz Memorial, 23rd April 2017

 


Crowd scene

Meeting up.

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

This was the 75th anniversary of the Bath Blitz and the occasion attracted a larger attendance than previous years.

Once again the weather was kind to us and it stayed dry for our service.

 


Bath Spa Training Band

Arrival music.

This year there was a clash of events and the Bath Spa Band was booked to play at the council's World Heritage Day event in the Parade Gardens instead of at our service.

We were provided with an alternative group of musicians from the Bath Spa Training Band, who 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.

He welcomed the special guests for this service, the Mayor of Bath, Councillor Paul Crossley, and Bath's Member of Parliament, Ben Howlett.  They both made a short address to those assembled at the memorial.

 

The Mayor The MP

VIP Speeches.

Both the Mayor of Bath, Councillor Paul Crossley, and Bath's Member of Parliament, Ben Howlett commended the Project on the effort put in to mount the annual service.

The Mayor focussed on the importance of remembering those who were victims of the Bath Blitz.

Bath's MP recognised the value of remembrance services in preserving the memories for future generations.

 

John Hauselman

John Hauselman read a poem:  "The Interruption".

The fragrant silence of the night was shattered by the siren's wail.
The boom of guns broke in upon the singing of the birds.
The stars that had been strung like lamps above the elm trees in the lane
Were outshone by bursting rockets falling in a crimson rain.
The skies that should have held such peace upon this perfect night in April
Became a roaring field of battle blazing round the young white moon.
The fighters passed - the stars came back - the drone of engines died away.
The birds took up their song and sang till the break of day.


At the end, "WE WILL REMEMBER THEM".

 

Prayers

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 Training Band played "Reveille".

 

Harry reads

Harry Hemming told Joy's story.

Joy Stockley had played an active part in the creation of the Memorial, assisting in identifying and validating the names that would appear on it.  She had also provided her memories of the war from her perspective of a five year old girl living in the Southgate area of Bath.

Harry read a shortened version to fit in with the time constraints.  The full text of her story is available on-line.

Joy did attend the service, but she preferred Harry to do the public speaking.

 

laying the wreath

Laying the wreath.

To mark this 75th anniversary of the Bath Blitz, the wreath has been provided by a Blitz survivor and founder member, Doreen Williams, who placed it beside the Memorial.

As one of the founder members, Doreen was asked to provide a memory, and she reported what happened to her father, Fireman Leonard Smith.

 

The wreath

The Wreath.

Doreen chose her own wreath.

 

Brian Vowles

Final Address.

Bryan Vowles described the origins of the Project, and named all those who had contributed to the Project's progress from the first meeting to today's final service [1].  One of the still living participants was unable to attend, and Brian read out the e-mail sent with his apologies.

He also listed the project's achievements in getting the Memorial created and installed, and the preparation of all the educational material that had been distributed to Bath Schools.

Finally Brian described the latest achievement of getting an information plaque mounted on the war-scarred outer wall that was once part of the street elevation of the Labour Exchange when war broke out.

The meeting-up date for 2018 was announced as 29 April 2018.  There will be no service then but those attending will meet like-minded people.


Bath Spa Band

The Bath Spa Band.

The Bath Spa Band played again as everybody dispersed.

END

Click here for information about the plans for the 2018 ceremony.


[1]  In alphabetical order: John Follon, Ruth Haskins, Harry Hemming, Francis Joy, Joe Marsh, John Penny, Ann Salter, Joy Stockley, Mike Stockley, Brian Vowles, Jim Warren, Doreen Williams.
   Special thanks also for contributions to the annual Services by Edgar Evans for the prayers, Katherine Pond Barrett for the readings and The Bath Spa Band for the music.



 

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:

Final memorial in Royal Victoria Park  (an article credited to James Crawley)

Wreath Placed

The last formal memorial gathering to remember the nights of the Bath Blitz has been held.  Around 70 people gathered at the war memorial of the Royal Victoria Park gates on Sunday April 23 2017 to mark the 75th anniversary of the Bath bomb­ing raids.

The service has been held annually in memory of the 417 people who tragic­ally lost their lives in Second World War air raids of 1942.

The AddressFor the organisers it was their last formal gathering, since starting the event back in 2003.

Every year speeches have been made, poems read and wreaths laid at the war memorial.

This year music was performed by The Bath Spa [Training] Band, including The Last Post which was followed by a minute's silence.

Chairman of the Bath Blitz Memorial Project Brian Vowles opened and closed the speeches.  The current mayor of Bath Paul Crossley and Bath MP Ben Howlett also addressed the crowds.

A poem and prayer were led by John Hauselman, and Second World War survivor Harry Hemming shared memoirs of the bombings.  Fellow survivor Doreen Williams laid a wreath next to the memorial plaque.

Speaking after the service Mr Vowles said: "We still have the website to con­tinue so we will work at it over the years.  It takes a lot to do this but it's for the crowds of people who gather.  They are the real survivors and real family people."

Blitz SurvivorsChippenham siblings Peter Knight and Cynthia Holbrow were seven and nine years old at the time of the bomb­ings.  They lived at 42 Second Avenue in Oldfield Park which was completely destroyed on the second night of strikes.

The family had moved to Bath from Swansea as it was deemed a safer place to be, according to their father.

Peter said: "I remember being trapped under the stairs. I remember my father couldn't open the cupboard under the stairs where we were hiding.  The wardens came to get us out.  But we didn'treally understand it.".

Afterwards they went to live with an aunt in Swindon and returned to Bath to live at number 51 Second Avenue.

Cynthia added: "Some time after that when the sirens would go off mother would get us up and we would go and sleep under the hedges and the trees, away from the houses."

"We were lucky really because we had no other family in Bath.  What happened to us is a small thing compared to what is happening in Syria and what families are going through."


A similar item was published in the Western Daily Press.

Wreath LayingThe last formal memorial gathering to remember the nights of the Bath Blitz has been held.  Around 70 people gathered at the war memorial of the Royal Victoria Park gates yesterday to mark the 75th anniversary of the Bath bombings.

The annual service is held in memory of the 417 people who tragically lost their lives in Second World War air raids of 1942.

For the organisers it was their last formal gathering, since starting the annual event back in 2003. Every year speeches are held, poems read and wreaths laid at the war memorial.

This year music was performed by The Bath Spa Band, including The Last Post which was followed by a minute's silence.

Chairman of the Bath Blitz Memorial Project, Brian Vowles opened and closed the speeches. The current mayor of Bath Paul Crossley and Bath MP Ben Howlett also addressed the crowds.

A poem and prayer was led by John Hauselman, and Second World War survivor Harry Hemming shared memoirs of the bombings. Fellow survivor Doreen Williams laid a wreath next to the memorial plaque.

 


 


Click here for information about the plans for the 2018 ceremony.



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