Russian Cannon

Article from
THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS
Of Saturday, August 28th 1858

INAUGURATION OF A RUSSIAN GUN AT SEAHAM HARBOUR.

cannon2Few, if any, of our seaport towns can boast such youth and vigour as the harbour of Seaham. Less than thirty years ago it had no existence. A bold rocky foreshore, with little inlets and sandy bays, indicated its site. No fishermen’s huts crowned the banks ; no boats lay basting on the beach. As far as progress was concerned, all was at a dead stand. Now and then a few women from the neighbouring town of Sunderland might be caught sight of among the rocks in search of bait; or a stray artist, sketch-book in hand, in quest of the picturesque. No sounds reached the ear other than the scream, of the gull or the constant chafing of the waves against the rocks.
Happily, other eyes than those of the painter scanned the place, and other drawings than those for mere ornament were made. The energetic mind of Charles Stewart, then Marquis of Londonderry, conceived a nobler destiny for this rocky shore than pictures and shellfish. He saw here a suitable place for the shipment of his coals for the London market. Battling with every difficulty, blasting out of the rocky cliff a dock, carving out a harbour, protecting it by piers, and indicating its bearings by a lofty lighthouse ; laying down an iron road from his coal-mines; planting powerful steam-engines; erecting whole streets of workmen’s dwellings and suitable workshops: in fact, starting Seaham Harbour, properly equippel.
As a natural consequence, ships crowd the dock and harbour; factories, houses, shops, schools, charitable institutions, churches, chapels, and public buildings, have sprung up, and visitors are now whirled to and fro on the railway from Sunderland. Thus has the great scheme of the late Marquis been crowned with complete success. Seaham has now 7000
inhabitants; and it is no un¬common occurrence for seventy vessels to leave at one tide.
cannon1Like a true-hearted English lady, Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry, after the death of the Marquis, carried on the work with increased vigour, trimmed up the place with taste and neatness, erected buildings with an eye to the beau¬tiful, and still watches over the health and prosperity of the place with genuine solicitude; and as, year by year, she pays her visits, she invariably leaves some souvenir of her love and attachment for the place.
Seaham has recently been the scene of two interesting demonstra¬tions on the occasion of a visit by the Marchioness of Londonderry to her seat at Seaham Hall.
On Monday, the 2nd instant, the children attending the various colliery schools founded and maintained by the Marchioness attended at Seaham Harbour, to receive from the hands of her Ladyship prizes for ability and good conduct. The ceremony took place in a large and handsome marquee erected for the occasion contiguous to the new school at Seaham Colliery. Upwards of 1300 scholars were present, who were conveyed to Seaham in colliery wagons’, and then marched to the rendezvous, each school with the master or mistress at its head. The children were addressed by her Ladyship and the Lord Bishop of Durham in a spirit of affectionate and earnest simplicity.
The other demonstration which forms the subject of our en¬graving was the inauguration of a Russian gun. This event took place on Saturday, the 31st ult., in the presence of two thou¬sand of the principal inhabitants of Seaham and neighbourhood. The interesting trophy—a 38-pounder, weighing 66s cwt.—was erected on a stone pedestal and placed in the centre of ‘* The Green,” which has been laid out as a public promenade, and faces the sea.
Near to the spot was erected a platform for the accommodation of Lady Londonderry and her visitors, who arrived shortly after one o’clock—the Earl and Countess Vane, Lord Ravensworth, Lord A. Vane Tempest, the Countess of Portarlington, and the Misses Longley arriving first in an omnibus-carriage drawn by four greys, and followed by a second carriage in which was Lady Londonderry and the Bishop of Durham.
Having ascended the platform, Lady Lon¬donderry stepped to the front, and gave the signal for displaying the gun, which was covered by a large naval ensign. At this moment her Ladyship’s private band struck up ” God Save the Queen,” and a salute of twenty-one guns was fired by the coastguard men. This was followed by loud cheering, on the subsidence of which the assemblage was addressed by Earl Vane, Lord Ravensworth and Lord Adolphus Vane Tempest.
An address was then presented to the Marchioness of Londonderry expressing the gratitude of the inhabitants of Seaham for the important benefits recently conferred by her Ladyship upon the place ; to which the Marchioness replied as follows:—”Gentle¬men,—I confess that the spontaneous and unexpected expression of your kind feeling towards me has caused me the deepest gratification. It is encouraging and cheering to find my humble efforts to improve this place have been appreciated; and it is most satisfactory to watch its increased prosperity and importance during my care and tenancy. While I thankfully acknowledge the progress and contemplate the rise with pride and pleasure, believe me I take no merit for any little share I may have had in this, for it is my happiness as well as my duty to direct my best energies to the wel¬fare of a place which I have watched from its commencement, thirty years ago, and received as a sacred legacy from its founder, to whose name it remains as a touching monument that all connected with him may well feel proud of.
The ceremony this day is particularly satisfactory, for these guns have only been presented to towns of certain importance and population ; and the promise of a County Court from the Lord Chancellor, after four years’ patient and re¬peated petitioning, is another just advance in the scale and position Seaham town and harbour holds in this county. Gentlemen, I thank you sincerely for your affectionate address and good wishes, and in return can only reiterate my promise, that while God spares my life it will be devoted to the interests of this place, and the welfare of all in my employ.”

This terminated the proceedings of the ” inauguration.” Three cheers were then given for Lady Londonderry, three for Earl and Countess Vane, one for their son, Lord Seaham, an interesting child, who bowed acknowledgment, and three for Lord Adolphus Vane.

NUREMBERG RAID MARCH 30th 1944

 

Article from the Daily Mail by Robert Hardman, March 29th 2014 

Sections in blue refer to the Halifax bomber which crashed at Ryhope on its return, killing the pilot Cyril Barton.

EVEN the old pros had never seen carnage like this. Whole squadrons were being decimated before their eyes. Some aircraft simply exploded in mid-air, each one a monstrous firework packed with three tons of bombs, 1,500 gallons of aviation fuel  and seven brave men.

One dumbstruck gunner, surveying the German countryside from the tail end of a Lancaster that night in March 1944, would describe his comrades’ funeral pyres stretching 60 miles into the distance.

Pilots not only had to dodge anti-aircraft guns, searchlights and enemy night fighters equipped with a new and lethally effective secret weapon  but also the parachutes of chums who managed to bale out. For those who made it down in one piece, there were fresh dangers. That same week, 50 captured Allied airmen were shot, on Hitler’s orders, for their part in the Great Escape.

There was astonishing heroism amid the horror. His controls shot to pieces, Tom Fogaty ordered his crew to grab parachutes and bale out. But the flight engineer’s backpack had become jammed out of reach. Fogaty handed him his own parachute and went down with the plane (miraculously, he survived).

Enemy fighters had strafed Cyril Barton’s Halifax bomber, destroying all his communications plus one of his engines while half his crew had baled out in the confusion. Yet the 22-year-old pilot officer refused to give up and pressed on to his target. Cyril would win the Victoria Cross for his valour that night. If only he had lived to pick it up.

Flight Sergeant Bob Gill was a ‘tail-end Charlie’, the rear gunner in a Lancaster bomber from 35 Squadron, a Pathfinder unit whose job was to lead the way. Now 90, and with the Distinguished Flying Medal to his name, the retired Surrey accountant sums it up succinctly: ‘It was just a disaster.’

He is not exaggerating. This was, in fact, the worst night in the entire history of the Royal Air Force. It remains etched in many minds to this day. As we approach tomorrow night’s 70th anniversary of the Nuremberg Raid, we can expect to see many new wreaths and heartbreaking little messages laid before the magnificent new Bomber Command memorial at London’s Hyde Park Corner.

Cyril Barton’s family still cherish every memory of a ‘wonderful man’ revered by all his crew to their dying days.

‘Everyone adored him,’ his sisters tell me. ‘He had something special.’ They’ll be in Tyne & Wear on Monday to reopen a wing of the hospital where Cyril died from his injuries. It is still called the Barton Centre.

In North Yorkshire, Harold Panton and his family will gather tomorrow night in the disused control tower of RAF Skipton-on-Swale. At 21:49, they will hold a private service in memory of Chris Panton, Harold’s big brother and playmate on the family’s Lincolnshire farm. It was at this precise time that Chris’s Halifax took off from here for the last time, bound for Nuremberg. Sadly, neither the Ministry of Defence nor the Royal Air Force has seen fit to mark the anniversary in any way. But for families as far afield as North America and Australia, the events of March 30-31 are anything but ‘history’.

This was the night when more than 100 Allied bombers — all on the same mission — were lost. Come dawn, more than 700 men were missing, as many as 545 of them dead. More than 160 would end up as prisoners of war. In one night alone, the RAF had lost more men than in the entire Battle of Britain.

So what went wrong? And why is this bloody anniversary going unmarked?

It had already been a perilous few months for the bomber boys. Hundreds of aircraft and thousands of men had been lost during sustained attacks on Germany’s industrial heartlands.

For decades afterwards, historians and politicians would debate the rights and wrongs of dropping thousands of tons of high explosives on German cities night after night.

But, with the war in its fifth year and victory anything but certain, the Allies had yet to gain a foothold on the Continent. The boys of Bomber Command were still the only ones taking the war to the enemy. So their value to British morale was incalculable, quite apart from their crucial strategic importance.

Their commander-in-chief, Arthur Harris, was convinced that the only path to victory was to hammer Germany’s infrastructure, choke its supply lines and drain the will of its people. But it came at a tremendous cost. By the end of the war, 55,573 of the 125,000 men who had served under Harris were dead.

Yet, it was only two years ago that they were finally honoured with that stunning memorial in London (and the trustees are still desperately raising funds to meet the final bills).

No other arm of the Services had such a pitiful life expectancy. This was a world where a new crew, embarking on a tour of duty (30 operations over enemy territory), would have been safer pointing a gun at their heads and playing Russian roulette.

As Harris (later knighted but never given the peerage granted to the other wartime chiefs) would write afterwards: ‘In Bomber Command, we had to lay on at least one major battle every 24 hours. Navies fight two or three major battles per war. Armies maybe a dozen. We had to lay on, during my three and a half years, well over a thousand.’

Old soldiers and sailors will, of course, dispute his sums, but this was vintage Harris. And it helps explain why none of his senior staff queried his judgment on the morning of March 30, 1944, as he outlined his plans for the night ahead. He wanted a huge force — well over 700 bombers — to drop 2,600 tonnes of explosives on Nuremberg.

The historic city had plenty of major industrial targets, including tank and engine factories, but it was also of huge symbolic importance to the Nazis. Hitler had staged his rallies there and regarded it as the ‘most German’ of German cities. And it had not been touched for months.

That afternoon, as pilots and navigators gathered in their briefing rooms, there was some relief that they were spared yet another run through Europe’s deadliest air defences to Berlin. Everyone had lost friends in raids on the German capital in recent months.

But relief soon gave way to grave doubts. First, there was a disturbingly straight red line stretching right across the map. They were to take a direct route over Germany for 265 miles (common sense dictated a zigzag route to confuse the enemy but that would have required more fuel and, thus, fewer bombs). Second, the moon was almost full. If there was no cloud, they would be easy prey for the Luftwaffe’s night fighters there was little sign of cloud cover. ‘We were expecting the raid to be called off. But it wasn’t,’ Sir Michael Beetham tells me from his Norfolk home.

The future Chief of the Air Staff (he commanded the skies during the Falklands War) was a young Flight Lieutenant flying a Lancaster from 50 Squadron that evening. ‘The weather was better than expected,’ he sighs. ‘Deary me…..

Arthur Harris, however, was working on the basis that he had one last crack at hitting deep inside Germany before shorter nights reduced the nocturnal range of his bombers and before the impending invasion of Normandy forced him to turn his attention to France.

He had ordered four diversionary raids involving 162 bombers to fool the Germans into thinking that the target was Hamburg, perhaps, or Berlin once more.

But the main force was so large it emptied every British bomber base from Yorkshire to Cambridge. Once assembled, this airborne armada stretched almost 70 miles from end to end.

The Germans were not going to be fooled for long, especially if all this hardware was flying in a straight line; even more so if the sky turned out to be clear and full of RAF vapour trails. And it was.

As John Nichol explains in a pulsating new account of the raid, The Red Line, the massacre was soon under way. More than 200 night-fighters based around the Ruhr and the Rhine took to the skies. ‘We were ducks lined up at a fairground stall,’ says Jeff Gray DFM, as we stand next to the Bomber Command Memorial. On that night 70 years ago, he was a Flight Sergeant at the helm of a Lancaster from 61 Squadron.

Unbeknown to the RAF, many enemy fighters were equipped with new guns which pointed upwards. Instead of attacking in the conventional way from above, they would hide below and shoot up at the bomber’s exposed underbelly.

‘You could see up at night but it was very hard to see down,’ recalls Bob Gill. ‘It was just pot luck if you got through.’

One German ace, Martin Becker, notched up six ‘kills’ in half an hour. It was all the more shocking for the RAF crews because the weather offered such a good view of friends exploding far and wide.

Sir Michael Beetham’s wireless operator, Reg Payne, would later recall: ‘I saw the smoke and shower of flames as an aircraft died in front of my eyes. Seven people in it; gone in an instant.’

To add to the confusion, the wind was much stronger than expected, pushing the armada north of its red line and even closer to the dense German defences along the Ruhr. ‘I could see we were being blown off course and I told the navigator to compensate. That probably saved us,’ Sir Michael reflects.

Jeff Gray admits that he and his crew missed the target by miles. ‘When we got to what was supposed to be Nuremberg, we couldn’t see anything,’ recalls the 91-year-old retired BOAC pilot. ‘Then this searchlight opened up on us so I just said “right, bomb doors open” and we let him have the lot. That light soon went out.’

To cap it all, the damage to Nuremberg itself was slight — 256 buildings destroyed and 75 enemy dead (a fraction of the losses endured by the RAF). While 60 bombers were destroyed on the way out, another 35 were lost on the return. A further 11 aircraft would crash on British soil.

Cyril Barton, minus his radio, one engine and half his crew, had persisted in dropping his bombs. Now, he and his remaining men had to cross Germany, Belgium and the North Sea with only the stars to guide them.

Unable to make radio contact with anyone, they crossed the British coast only to endure the horror of being shot at by their own side. A trigger-happy antiaircraft battery mistook them for Germans. Cyril was forced to fly back out over the North Sea and find a fresh approach. Coming in again over the pit village of Ryhope near Sunderland, he finally ran out of fuel.

He did his best to steer the plane away from the pithead gear and the miners’ cottages as he hit the ground. His men survived but Cyril did not. ‘My parents never wanted him to fly but he was determined,’ recalls his sister, Joyce Voysey, 79, at home in New Maiden, Surrey. ‘My mother never really got over it.’

Joyce remembers a despatch rider at the door soon afterwards. ‘Dad opened this big brown envelope and said: “Cyril’s been awarded the Victoria Cross.” All Mum said was: “It won’t bring him back.” But she carried that letter with her until the day she died.’

On Monday, Joyce and her sister, Cynthia Maidment, will enjoy a warm welcome in Ryhope. The villagers still proudly embrace the boy from Surrey as one of their own on their war memorial.

Even by the standards of the day, there was shock at RAF bases up and down the land as the BBC’s Alvar Liddell declared: ‘Ninety-six of our aircraft failed to return…’ That did not include those, like Cyril, who went down at home.

‘We were aghast,’ says Bob Gill, who went on to complete 47 operations before being shot down and captured on number 48. Jeff Gray was expecting a roasting at base for missing his target. ‘Instead, they just seemed very pleased to see us no matter what we’d done,’ he says.

But there was little time to dwell on the death toll. ‘You had a job to do and you just got on with it,’ says Sir Michael Beetham.

The survivors hold no grudge. Ask these veterans and they just shrug and say: ‘It was war.’ It remains a salutary lesson for our blame-addicted culture.

But it is a pity the RAF is not commemorating this anniversary in any way. True, there were many other costly raids that winter. This, though, was the night which, more than any other, symbolises the gallantry of those young men, all volunteers, who climbed in to their flying coffins night after night — and then had to wait almost 70 years before being allowed to build (and pay for) their own memorial.

They still need our help.

 

Story of an Air raid

By

THE REV. JAMES DUNCAN, O.B.E.., M.A.., HON. C.F.  Vicar of Dawdon.

With a Foreword by

THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY, K.G.

(On August 15th 1940 Seaham suffered a daylight air raid, German Heinkels and Messerschmitt 110s attacked and bombs were dropped on Dawdon. Spitfires shot down one Messerschmitt. Houses were demolished in Illchester St, Stavordale St and Fenwick’s Row. 12 people died, altogether there were 53 casualties, 119 people were homeless and 230 houses damaged. St Hild and St Helen’s Church was damaged. – D Angus)

Foreword

By the MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY

I am sure we are greatly indebted to Mr. Duncan for the Souvenir Booklet which he has issued in connection with the recent air raid at Seaham. It contains a record of what has occurred in relation to the actual part which Dawdon can be said to have played in the war.

This war is quite different from every other war, as it is being waged in its present phase more perhaps on the civilian population than between recognised combatant forces. The endeavour of our enemies is to break down the morale of our nation and so render it powerless to oppose the world domination which it is obvious is the object and aim of German aggression.

Many of us had hoped that by statesmanship this war could have been avoided and that the nations of the world could have jointly arrived at some international understanding which would have obviated the resort to what is known as the arbitrament of force. It is quite obvious that this war could have been avoided if the nations of Europe, all of whom were peaceably inclined with perhaps the exception of those who felt that they were labouring under the disabilities imposed upon them by the Peace Treaties, could have been made to realise that the German nation, by being unsatisfied, was the potential aggressor, and that unless some very definite measures were taken in the direction of curtailing her tremendous warlike preparations, war was inevitable.

Statesmanship has sadly failed during these last 20 years and it is necessary for us to bear the consequences with fortitude and determination. The presence of a common danger has united the people of Great Britain in a manner which perhaps no other influence could have achieved and one hopes that that unity, developed in such terrible circumstances, will continue so as to face the difficulties and the problems which must crowd in upon us whenever hostilities come to an end.

We must not forget the great ideals for which we are fighting nor must we minimise their importance. The fight to-day is being waged between two totally opposing doctrines. The Germanic arrangement of the world pre-supposes an association of States existing on a basis of servitude without any freedom, either national or individual, of self expression.

The British Empire, which has actually since the Napoleonic wars achieved the hegemony of the world, has carried out its mission by seeking to give a full measure of freedom and independence to all those peoples and nations which come within the orbit of British influence. The fact that this process did establish the British Empire as the foremost nation in the world was the reason why in 1914 the Kaiser Wilhelm II. at the head of the German State challenged the supremacy of Great Britain, and it has been shown by what has happened in the last few months that this is the aim and object of Hitler in the war which is being waged at the present moment. The successes which have attended the German Army are phenomenal in their extent. There is no conqueror in all history who has achieved so much, and there are few, apart from Hitler, Mussolini and their immediate supporters, who would not gladly accept the doctrines which it has been the object of the British Empire to disseminate throughout the world and which must prevail sooner or later.

But at this moment we are the sole champions for the principles which we advocate. Every other country has been absorbed in the German ambit or is remaining neutral in some cases and nominally neutral in others, and it falls to us not only to maintain the flag of freedom, but to place ourselves in such a position as to challenge and destroy those theories which are embodied in the teachings of the German leaders and which it is the determination of Hitler to impose on those who question his authority.

The struggle before us is the greatest in which we have ever been engaged and we should be wrong if we sought to encourage and console ourselves by thinking that peace is near at hand. Peace can never be established unless the aggressor in this terrific struggle is defeated, and I am quite convinced that when we have witnessed the spirit which actuates not only the people in this country of all classes and both sexes, but also throughout the Dominions, we can have no doubt as to the result of the struggle.

Let us make up our minds under no circumstances to reduce our efforts, but to join in the great national unity which in itself is one of those formidable factors which supplements and augments the splendid work which is being done by our fighting Services.

LONDONDERRY,

Mount Stewart, Newtownards, Co. Down.

1st October, 1940.

Author and Reader

I desire to acknowledge my obligation, and to express my thanks to all those who have made possible the publication of the booklet, ” Story of an Air Raid.” Mine has been the task of compiling and editing contemporary records of events that now make a conspicuous landmark in the history of Seaham. While much of the material has appeared already in the Press, there are also new and original contributions. Attention may be directed to the Foreword by the Marquess of Londonderry. Its clear and cogent argument serves as a spur to action as well as a reminder of the gravity of the present war situation. But the difficulties, as Lord Londonderry indicates, may be surmounted successfully by national unity and the full use of our powerful resources in the achievement of a victory imperatively demanded for the physical, mental and spiritual salvation of mankind.

Profits from the sale of the booklet will go to the Dawdon Parish Restoration Fund. Both church and vicarage were damaged in the air raid. The cost of repairing them is estimated at nearly £1,000. Responsibility for raising this large sum chiefly falls upon the incumbent, acting, of course, under the direction of the Bishop of the diocese. It is worth noting that the Church of St. Hild and St. Helen, Dawdon, was consecrated in 1912, and is an outstanding example of Byzantine architecture. It contains unique features, notably the baptistry with the beautiful rose window above it, and the strikingly life-like carved figures of saints on the front of the altar. A bomb struck the middle of a wall in the south aisle, but, apart from the loss of stained glass memorial windows, inflicted no damage that cannot be put right by competent craftsmen. Contributions, to enable this to be done, will be welcomed by me, and acknowledged in the Dawdon Church Magazine.

It is thought that the booklet may be of more than passing interest to the people of Seaham and their friends. Naturally, the ” Story of an Air Raid ” touches the tender emotions and stirs sympathy for the victims of the raid, and all who suffered. But it also quickens pride in a community that, in a searching ordeal, revealed sublime courage, unfaltering faith, and unflinching resolution to turn disaster into triumph, and from evil misfortune to wrest enduring blessing.

JAMES DUNCAN.

8

Seaham Air Raid

{From the Sunderland Echo.’”)

A number of people were killed and injured when a number of bombs were dropped recently by enemy aircraft on Seaham.
The injured were sent to hospital or were treated at their own homes.
Among the killed were Mrs. Ferry (46), Mrs. Shaw (56), a widow and her married daughter, Mrs. Johnson (29), and Mr. Edward Swan (35).

Hospital cases were : Mr. Henry Gale (25); Mrs. Gale (22); Mr. J. Harvey (29), Mr. Patrick Brett (46), Mr. Nicholas Brown (50), Mr. Robert Bird, Mrs. Elizabeth Kirby (30), Mr. George Cummings (67), Mr. John Ferry (16), Miss Doreen Ferry (14), Mr. David Stafford (24), Mr. James Graham (16), and Mr. Thomas Herrington (62).

British fighters were seen to bring down an enemy plane into the sea. The local motor lifeboat went out to the place where the machine fell, but no survivors were found.
During the raid a train which was at a standstill had many windows blown out and several passengers received injury.

” I saw the plane come from the north, “said Mr. Harrison in an interview.” It seemed to be crippled and was flying very low. It unloaded its bombs in the sea and they exploded with a deafening crash. Three Hurricanes then came up from the southwards and gave the German two or three bursts of fire and he fell into the sea. The plane rested on the water for about five minutes and then sank. The lifeboat went out to the place but no survivors were seen.”

In one street four houses were demolished and four persons belonging to one house were killed.
In the same street Mrs. Shaw, a widow (56), was killed, along with her married daughter, Mrs. Johnson (29), but Mrs. Johnson’s 18-month-old baby was rescued practically unhurt.

In another street two houses were demolished, and in one of these Mrs. Ferry was killed, while two children were injured, namely Doreen and John. The occupants next door escaped injury.

9

Some distance away, in another street, three houses were practically demolished and here Mr. Swan was killed.
Mrs. Dyson, who lives in a house opposite to one of those blown down, said the noise of the explosions was terrible. She and her husband and two children were in the shelter in a neighbour’s yard at the time. “Two of our windows and part of the front door were blown in,” she added, “and the knocker, door knob, key, and nameplate from the house opposite came flying through our front window, while the curtains from the same house were blown into our passage.”

Many houses had windows blown out and slates scattered.

Mr. Sample, who was out on duty during the raid, said when the bombs fell he got behind a wall, as he had not time to reach his post. The bombs burst with terrific explosions, shook the whole place, and raised clouds of dust, while splinters of metal flew all over. As soon as the enemy planes cleared off it was found that two or three houses had been demolished in his area. All the A.R.P. services were quickly at work attending to the injured. “The A.R.P. personnel worked splendidly,” he added.

An Anglican church was struck, and a large hole made in the south wall, while many slates were dislodged on the roof of the south aisle. The vicarage, which is next to the church, was hit by parts of a bomb, which caused a crater in the garden. The walls and ceiling of the vicarage were damaged and many windows broken.

The Vicar, who was in the house at the time, said : ” I heard the alarm, and just before the bombs exploded I sought refuge under the stairs.

“Immediately afterwards the bombs exploded on both sides of the vicarage. They broke the windows of the kitchen and wrenched three doors violently from their hinges, within a few inches of where I was.”

“Fortunately, apart from a little shock, I received no injury. My wife was away from home at the time. The dog, by a curious instinct, found safety in the only room in the house which was untouched by the explosion. A canary in its cage in the dining-room was also unhurt.

It was the maid who induced me to go under the stairs,” said the Vicar, “and she was there herself. But for her foresight and coolness I might not have gone in and might have been seriously injured.”

In an adjoining rural district, which is one of the largest in the North-East, many bombs were dropped. At one village two houses in one street and one in another were demolished. Four people were killed in this village.

10

People were reported killed in other parts of the area, one being a farmer and another a baby.

Reported killed in the rural area were Messrs. J. Green, T. Hardman, T. Barker, Mrs. Wilding, a baby, Mrs. Goulding, Mr. Seymour, Mrs. Gillespie, Messrs. Pattison and Greenwood.

More than 20 bombs were dropped, mostly in fields. A recreation ground was also hit.

A Memorial Service

(From the Sunderland Echo,”)

. A memorial service for those who lost their lives in the recent air-raid was held at St. Hild and St. Helen’s Church, Seaham, and attended by many relations and friends of the victims. The church was crowded, and chairs and forms had to be placed in the aisles to accommodate those attending.

Among those present were the Marquess of Londonderry (Lord Lieutenant of the County of Durham), the Marchioness of Londonderry, Mr. E. Shinwell, M.P., Mr. Malcolm Dillon (Chairman of Seaham Magistrates), Mr. W. A. Ellis (Clerk), Miss Dillon (Durham County Commissioner of Girl Guides), Mrs. Ellis (Commandant, Durham County Red Cross), Couns. H. F. Lee (Chairman), T. S. Wright, T. McLauchlin, J. E. McCutcheon, Mrs. M. I. Robinson ; and Messrs. J. C. Edington (Clerk), W. J. Dring (Accountant), J. S. Forster (Electrical Engineer), and R. W. Potts (Assistant Accountant), representing Seaham Urban Council: Police (in command of Supt. J. Proud), A.R.P. personnel, Home Guard (Platoon Commander J. Kirton), Girl Guides (Mrs. Duncan), Townswomen’s Guild (Mrs. M. Bowran and Mrs. E. Miller).

Lord Londonderry read the Lessons and the sermon was preached by the Rev. J. Duncan, Mr. T. Stonehouse officiated at the organ, and Messrs. H. Elliott and J. Middleton, churchwardens, superintended the arrangements.

Preaching from the text, ” We know that all things work together for good to them that love God ” (Rom. viii., 28), the Rev. J. Duncan recalled how a woman whose only son and only child was killed in action signed herself “a sad but proud mother.” That night they were assembled in God’s house to remember with sadness the loss of lives and express sympathy with the bereaved. But he thought they could feel proud of those who had laid down their lives as surely as those on the battlefield for the sacred cause of country, freedom and justice.

11

The saddest hour of his life, continued Mr. Duncan, was when he officiated at the funerals and four coffins were laid side by side, containing a father and mother and their two daughters.

When these people were found the arms of the mother were around her daughters.

Then there was the story of a woman and her daughter who were both killed, while a boy was injured and sent to the Infirmary. The first words he said after coming round were “Look after Mum and my sister, please.”

In another case a grandmother who was killed shielded an 18-month-old infant with her own body. The baby was alive and well. ” Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” God gave us memory that we might have roses in December. We walk in the garden and we gather fragrant flowers of proud remembrance.

Mr. Duncan paid tribute to the service and sacrifice of the first aid parties, A.R.P. personnel, special constables, Home Guard, and all others who rendered assistance in the hour of necessity. The town was proud of them.

The community had been united by affliction. It had found expression in kindness. The best and bravest in the people had come to the top. Those who had been afflicted and those whose homes had been destroyed had told him how they had been moved by the kindness of others.

In affliction and disaster, we were all one. As Kipling wrote, “The colonel’s lady and Judy O’Grady are sisters under the skin.” He might paraphrase this, added Mr. Duncan, and say, “The colonel himself and Private O’Grady are brothers under the skin.” Such disasters brought out our common humanity.

What legislation or local action could not do, misfortune had done, and we realised that the greatest thing in life was loving kindness and the human touch.

“It’s the human touch in the world that counts,
The touch of your hand and mine,
Which means far more to the hungry soul
Than shelter or bread or wine.
For shelter is gone when the night is o’er,
And bread lasts only a day,
But the sound of a voice and the grip of a hand,
Sing on in the soul alway.”

In these searching times, continued Mr. Duncan, people were finding their way slowly but surely back to God. God never forced Himself upon mankind, but man’s extremity was God’s opportunity.

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Those who served in the last war knew that what had happened to Seaham was a comparatively small thing in the vital issues of war. The end was not yet, and only those who endured to the end would be saved.

He was in a house where the occupants narrowly escaped death, and where a man had been injured and a woman said : “If they think this air raid is going to shake our confidence, they are mistaken. It only makes us more determined to go on to the bitter but victorious end.

“To-night,” concluded Mr. Duncan, “we come to God’s house to steel our souls and to ask God for help through His Son so that with cool heads, stout hearts and strong wills, we may see this ordeal through to the end.

“We shall not shrink, but go on united in body and soul, through Jesus Christ, Who never lost a battle, until we conquer. For in the end right must prevail. Let us take heart from the lines :

“One who never turned his back but marched breast forward, Never doubted clouds would break, Never dreamed though right were worsted wrong would

triumph. Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better, Sleep to wake.”

The Last Rites

{From “The Durham Chronicle”)

A series of funerals took place on Monday, at Seaham Cemetery, and everywhere men stood bareheaded as the processions passed.

Mr. H. F. Lee, Chairman of Seaham Urban Council, and Mr. J. C. Edington, Clerk to the U.D.C., and Special Constables attended. Wreaths from Lord and Lady Londonderry were placed on each coffin inscribed ” With deep sympathy from the Marquess and Marchioness of Londonderry.”

Among the dead were Mr. Thomas Rochester (44), a Colliery Deputy; Mrs. Eleanor Rochester (47), his wife; and Eileen (19) and Joyce (14), daughters.

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A detachment of the Home Guard, of which Mr. Rochester was a member, in command of Section-Leader Dobson, attended, and the Miners’ Lodge was represented by Messrs. J. Devlin (Vice-President), T. Williams (Compensation Secretary), T. McLauchlan (Delegate), T. Scollen (Assistant Secretary), and T. Cheek (Treasurer of the Aged Miners’ Homes Committee). The Rev. James Duncan held a service.

In the case of Mrs. Barbara Ferry (48), wife of Mr. Robert Ferry, a bricklayer, and Doreen Ferry (14), daughter, the Rev. James Duncan and the Rev. A. G. Cross held a service at the house and Mr. Duncan officiated at the graveside. Mr. Ferry is Chairman of a local Mechanics’ Trade Union Branch, which was represented by Mr. R. Paxton (Secretary), Mr. S. Horn (Treasurer), and Mr. T. Craggs (Delegate), and which also sent a wreath.

Mrs. Ferry was a member of the Townswomen’s Guild, on behalf of which Mrs. R. Bainbridge (Chairman), Mrs. A. Elgey (Secretary), and Mrs. H. Little (Treasurer) attended. The Guild sent a wreath,

Doreen was a Girl Guide, and the Guides sent a wreath and a detachment in command of Capt. Mrs. Duncan.

When Mrs. Edna Tempest (30) was buried the chief mourner was Mr. Charles Tempest, her husband, wearing naval uniform. A brother in the Navy and two brothers-in-law in the Army also attended. Mr. N. Tempest represented New Seaham Independent Methodist Church.

Mr. Edward Tempest, father-in-law of Mrs. Tempest, from whose home the funeral took place, fought in the Great War and has two sons and a son-in-law in the Navy and two sons-in-law in the Army, one of whom is a sergeant-major and one a staff sergeant. The Rev. E. N. O. Gray conducted the service in Church and at the graveside.

Mrs. Sarah Shaw (55), a widow from the last war, and her daughter, Mrs. Mary Johnston (29), wife of Mr. Thomas Johnston, a miner, were carried to their last resting place together. The Rev. James Duncan took the service at the home and cemetery. Messrs. S. Barratt and J. Shaw were present from the Miners’ Lodge, and Nurses F. McLennan, E. March, M. Cook and L. Williams from a sanatorium where Mrs. Johnston was formerly employed.

Last came the funeral of Mr. Edward Swan (36), a Colliery Banksman, and in this case the Miners’ Lodge was represented by Mr. R. Lawson (Secretary) and Mr. W. Thompson, a member of the Committee. The officiating clergyman was the Rev. E. N. O. Gray.

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Courage

(From Dawdon Parish Magazine)

Affliction tests a community. Every mining district is aware of this. The nature of the collier’s calling is familiar to all. Risks have to be taken daily; dangers must be faced. Women and children, like the men folk, come to accept them with a stoicism that conceals but does not remove anxiety. It is an unwritten tradition that the miner and his kind should face the hazards of life with the quiet courage and serenity of the soldier or the sailor or the explorer. This is not something for conventional talk. It belongs to the spirit, knitting the whole community together, giving purpose to its corporate action, and enabling it to act solidly as a unit in good fortune or bad. The miner is at his best when disaster threatens his comrades. Neither peril nor terror will prevent the great adventure of serving his fellows in the hour of need.

Recently, Seaham had to face tragic happenings. These might have overwhelmed it. Instead, the community, as expected by those who knew its character, revealed the strength of its soul. Misfortune was not minimised nor was it magnified. It was met with understanding and courage. It called for the finest qualities of our common humanity and these poured out in abundant measure. ” A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind.” Sorrows shared make for steadfast comradeship. Said a hard headed miner, inured to hardship, unmoved by the malice of man, and contemptuous of sentimentality, “Strangers and friends alike have been so generous to me in my trouble, so ready to help, so insistent on giving, that I have wept tears at their kindness. If we can strengthen and maintain this spirit Seaham will be a wonderful place to live in, and our misfortunes may prove to be blessings in disguise.” Adversity is a stern teacher, but its lessons, rightly learned, ennoble the whole man. Those who pass through the school of suffering with clear mind and pure spirit, make contact with reality, and become aware of the essential values of life. Their inward peace is not to be shaken thereafter by the storms that rage without.

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As already reported in the Press, a memorial service for the victims of air raids took place in the parish church on Sunday, August 25. The building, large though it is, was crowded to the door. Every inch of available space was occupied. But, more important than the size of the congregation, was the spirit of devotion and worship that prevailed. A praying people turned to the Father of All Mercy for consolation, the assurance of immortality, strength to face difficulties, and grace to persevere to the end of a struggle that is testing the soul of the nation. It was my privilege to preach the sermon. The lessons were read by the Marquess of Londonderry, who, along with Lady Londonderry, has made sympathetic contact with parishioners, and by material gifts given proof of practical understanding. Also present at the service were Mr. Malcolm Dillon, J.P., Mr. E. Shinwell, M.P., and Mr. H. Lee, Chairman of the Seaham Urban District Council. The singing of the national anthem at the end of the service brought forth a volume of sound and feeling that demonstrated, in remarkable manner, the patriotism of the worshippers. Love of country stirs emotion and stimulates action. Our duty to those who have made the Great Sacrifice is to strive against evil forces, to promote good will, justice and peace, and to build, on the sure foundation of righteousness, the Kingdom of Christ here’ upon earth.

Why are some people afraid of being thought to be afraid ? We are ready to confess that we are sometimes hungry, and thirsty and sleepy—especially sleepy these days ! The instinct of fear is as natural as the desire for food and drink and rest. It is implanted and fostered for the great purpose of self-preservation. It is nature’s own siren, warning us of danger and bidding us escape to a place of shelter or, if that is not possible, to stand and fight in self-protection and defence. The brave man is the fellow who recognises fear in himself, makes use of it, forcing it to be his servant while he remains master of his fate, refuses to be weakened by events, and with cool head and stout heart goes on with unswerving determination to achieve his purpose. Turn round the letters V.C. and the meaning is clear. For the V.C. marks the triumph of Christian Virtues.

JAMES DUNCAN.

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Everyday Life in War Time

By the MARCHIONESS OF LONDONDERRY, D.B.E.. (From Dawdon Parish Magazine).

(The following letter was written by request of the Chairman of the Northern Depot for Overseas Civilian Supplies. It has been widely circulated in America, and is published here by the kind permission of Lady Londonderry).

We are living partly in Northern Ireland, 15 miles from Belfast on the Northern shores of Strangford Loch. Everyday life in Ulster proceeds on its leisurely way. There is no conscription, much as the inhabitants regret the fact, but the British Government did not enforce it in this outpost of Empire, owing to de Valera’s openly expressed view that he would regard it as’ an unfriendly act. And so we are not faced with a shortage of men as across the water, and in appearance everything seems normal. But Ulster is only normal on the surface—the Six Counties are bristling with British troops. The ordinary citizen accustomed to regard himself as part and parcel of the United Kingdom, now finds himself subject to every restriction to which an alien country or citizen. is liable. No one may travel without a Permit and then only on work of National importance. No parcel may enter the province without a permit; not even medicine may be sent. This has been brought about owing to the neutrality of Southern Ireland, and the fact that the Legations of two countries with whom we are at war are still functioning in Dublin. Every letter, telegram or telephone message is drastically censored. In fact, everyone living in the Six Counties is now treated as a possible suspect, owing to the unfortunate attitude of Southern Ireland.

In my dual capacity as a citizen of Northern Ireland and England, and holding the position as President of the Red Cross Society, both for County Down and County Durham, I was given leave to cross to Great Britain, which is best done via Larne in County Antrim to Stranraer in Wigtonshire, Scotland. Mines are laid in these waters by German aeroplanes, but are swept up diligently by British minesweepers.

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I had no sooner arrived in London than word was received of an air raid at one of my husband’s Collieries in County Durham—at a place called Dawdon, close to Seaham Harbour on the North East Coast. I travelled North as soon as possible straight to the town. People were standing about in groups in the streets. There was no sign of panic; instead there was fierce determination to carry on and make good the losses. Twelve people only had been killed. I say only as when the various scenes of desolation had been visited, you could only marvel that there were not many more victims, although a number of people were injured. Here was a street with three or four houses in a row absolutely reduced to rubbish heaps. In one, an entire family had perished; two young daughters, who were in domestic service in the South and who had come home on holiday, were amongst the dead. The next house belonged to a miner, who had left home a few hours earlier on a glorious summer morning. He was earning good money and he was blest with a good wife and two children in their teens, a boy and a girl. On his return, after having been hastily summoned from the pit, he finds his home a heap of debris, piled up in overwhelming heaps and stacks of mortar and bricks. After hours of work, the dead body of his wife is recovered, then that of his little daughter brought out, and last of all the boy is found. He is alive but badly injured. We saw him later at the hospital, where, under skilful treatment, he is on the way to complete recovery.

Across the street the houses were standing firm and intact. These houses, built a generation ago by my husband’s father, are very different from some modern jerry-built affairs, which crumble at the first shock. In one particular house, just opposite the miner’s lost home, a young girl-mother had given birth to her first baby during the height of the raid. He is a fine boy, with the baptismal name of Barry. The little mother lay in her bed proud and well, surrounded by her parents and friends, laughing happily when holding out the baby for inspection.” She was a real hero,” the nurse said, “and she made never a murmur.” These people in the pit villages are a breed to be proud of. They have often had to face danger for their men folk and they are facing it now for themselves in the same calm way, eager to help each other in their distress. No pitiful tale do they tell. These wrecked homes ! In some the little white curtains are still up at the windows of houses which only had front walls standing ; in others a picture is still hanging on the wall; in another children’s toys, yet there is not a murmur. These people had lost everything, and had nothing but what they stood up in. Some streets there were with not a pane of glass left in the windows, and further on you reach a house where the onlookers are silent and hushed. Here a mother was killed and her two daughters. Her arms were round them both as though trying to shield them. A grandmother in the next house saved her little grandson’s life at the expense of her own.

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The baby was unhurt, but the grandmother, who shielded him with her body, had died of a shrapnel wound which lacerated her lungs. In another house, a mother was able to save her baby. She was badly wounded and has since died. She was only 22.

It was all so pitiable, so cruel, so senseless. The sun shone down and the air was full of the salt breezes from the sea. You saw the brave merchant ships plying their way along the coast of this densely populated part of England. All looked as usual to a casual observer, but you knew that at any moment, before any warning could be given, deadly missiles might come hurtling through the air, perhaps released from machines some 20,000 feet up in the skies. This had happened at a neighbouring town, when 40 people were struck down in a shipyard, so swift and suddenly, that the wounded were arriving at the casualty ward of the hospital before the matron had had time to get down to the ward. But no one thought of complaining. They were carrying on as usual, intent on helping all they could. Men and women in the raided area met together and formed a Samaritan Society, which has had as its object the collection of household furniture, crockery and clothes, to be distributed anonymously amongst those who had lost their all.

It was at the time of these raids in the Northern district, that I received a letter from Lady Butterfield telling me of the forthcoming help from the “Northern Depot for Overseas Civilian Supplies,” men and women’s garments, blankets and sheets. This letter seemed an answer to our prayers and to the efforts these poor people were making to be brave and carry on. Our American friends and cousins across the sea were indeed the Good Samaritan of the Gospel, and our hearts go out in heartfelt thanks to them for their generous gifts, and to all those who are devoting their time and energy in organising relief for us in our trouble. I can only assure them that no matter where you go there is nothing but a determined resolve to see anything and everything through— come what may. The people are really marvellous.

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Bombs on the Vicarage

(From the Sunderland Echo.”)

It is obvious that I am a Parson of No Importance. My living is no more than an existence; the parish itself is little known. Strangers locate it only when I mention a not far distant town famous for a football club that, in the piping days of peace, provided

me with pleasant diversion on Saturday afternoons. Yet upon our remote village the avalanche fell with sudden devastating force. In the nick of time I scrambled to shelter under the stairs.

Crash ! Bang ! Wallop ! Crunch ! Zeus the Furious had launched his thunderbolts. Bombs dropped from the blue heavens; aeroplanes swept the skies like devouring vultures. In less time than it takes to describe what happened I had entered and emerged from my hiding place, shaken but unhurt by flying splinters, smashed glass, and falling ceilings.

In his humorous story of “Bob the Rigger’s Christmas Turkey,” John Green wrote that after the turkey had invaded Bob’s house the kitchen” looked, for all the world, like a wreck at the back of Roker Pier.”

The phrase haunted my mind as I surveyed the vicarage. What a mess! There was debris everywhere except in the dining-room and one bedroom. It was comforting to know that a sanctuary remained in the wilderness of desolation.

Later, it was surprising to find, apart from broken windows and tumbling ceilings, that comparatively little damage had been done. Personal property and belongings almost miraculously had been preserved. Sharp splinters took a slice from the leg of a kitchen table and then penetrated to a china cupboard behind which I was crouching. These spent their force against an aluminium coffee percolator, twisting and dinting it in curious fashion. But the crockery was intact!

“What does it feel like to be bombed ?” my friends have asked me. More than idle curiosity prompted a question not easy to answer. My own experience was over so quickly that the mind had barely time for reasoned thought.

Yet—used to watching my own conduct almost subconsciously— I can still recall my reactions. Despite all that I had heard and read, in the imminence of death my past life did not come before me either to condemn or commend me. And I seem to be one of the few persons in the parish who did not, faced by similar calamity, spontaneously cry out for Divine help. Earlier that morning, however, I had said my prayers and feel these brought to me, when needed, the grace of strength.

I was neither tremendously excited nor extraordinarily calm. (I have experienced greater thrills and correspondingly deeper depressions in watching the fluctuating fortunes of my favourite football team). When the bombs were crashing I did not feel myself a hero coolly confronting danger nor—though I had a sinking feeling—was I unduly frightened.

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Such thoughts as these almost simultaneously flashed through my mind and registered themselves : “Hullo ! My house is being hit! How curious! I thought this sort of thing happened only to other people ! What strange swishing sounds ! If this is the end, it is not so dreadful after all and it will come soon! Pity though to go out like this! It’s a bit undignified to expire in a dark corner under the stairs! But it is all right so far !

“I would not be surprised to find that the worst is passed and that I am to survive it! And what an experience it all is ! Gracious ! It is over . . . and now I am free to move about this dwelling of mine, once so familiar and now strange, bewildering and unreal.” Yes, a veritable tumult of conflicting, inconsequent, surging thoughts in happenings of something like three minutes duration.

I was given little time to record impressions afterwards or to get things going again. Immediately the “All clear” signal sounded a crowd of sightseers invaded the house and grounds; slaked their curiosity; made the same sort of jejune observations in wearisome reiteration, and departed with happy mutual congratulation that they themselves had escaped the worst terrors of the day.

But there were some—blessings on their heads!—friends and strangers alike who stayed to remove the debris and restore the vicarage to something like its former state. In a few hours the house was transformed; a week later new windows and stronger ceilings gave added dignity to its appearance. On the outside walls remained scores of shrapnel wounds—honourable scars bearing testimony to the soundness of the structure.

It now remains to complete the restoration of the building. That, I gather, is to be the major responsibility of the incumbent. Poor parson! Civic authorities apparently have no interest in vicarages. They issue forms which are to be completed with numerous details and sent on to Government officials, with vague promises that at a later period some compensation may be possible.

Diocesan dignitaries descend upon the harassed cleric, pouring into his wounds the oil of sympathy and the wine of kindness. They hint that the Good Samaritan in the drama to produce the “twopence ” may be the Queen Anne’s Bounty Benefactors who will lend the money for the repairs at a nominal interest. This really means, of course, that the Parson of No Importance will continue to hold the ecclesiastical baby, wondering how he is to sustain it with suitable nourishment in his still unimportant but now widely-known parish of limited resources.

21

Pity the poor parson, please. Ordinarily, he has trials that the layman dreams not of. Bombs that shatter his house increase his difficulties. But, bless you, by nature and calling he tends to optimism. He knows that others have faced with dauntless courage worse ordeals than his own. The little bird of hope sings still in the sanctuary of his soul, reminding him that some day man will cease to rage, and that peace and contentment and comradeship will come into their own again.

Yes, yes. Bombs that damage and destroy may have their uses if they uproot what is evil from this perplexed but pleasant world, preparing it for a golden future. It then may be that even a Parson of No Importance will have pride of place in a parish, with little claim to fame, but where people value above all else the things of the spirit that make life full and free and abundantly worth while.

Lessons from an Air Raid

By Councillor H. F. LEE, J.P., Chairman of the Seaham Urban Council.

At the August meeting of the Seaham Urban District Council, I was able to express the sympathy of all members of the Council with those who had suffered through the recent air raid. I also took the opportunity of paying tribute to the efficiency of the different services of our Civil Defence when the testing time thrust such great responsibilities upon them. Nothing but praise came from our fellow citizens that day, and it was right that the Council should record their appreciation and thanks. It was my duty to move round the district throughout the raid and afterwards. I was struck by the magnificent way in which the people carried on under such difficult conditions. People vied with one another to render real practical assistance. Many little kindnesses were performed with an understanding sympathy that was touching.

The hard experiences of the air raid, however, have revealed, as was perhaps natural in the circumstances, some weakness in the administration of financial and other relief. I can give the assurance that should the need again unfortunately arise that we shall be better prepared for it.

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I told the Council we found that the P.A.C. whose duty it is to give assistance for the first 48 hours, had overlooked one or two matters of importance, but that this would lead to a strengthening of the whole system. It is important, for instance, that a hot meal should be provided immediately for the homeless, and that more than two blankets should be available for women and children seeking temporary sleeping quarters. There must be also light mattresses, and baby clothes, milk and baby food, while red tape must be cut if it strangles immediate relief. The time to help is the occasion when it is most needed. I am glad to add that my appeal for contributions to the Relief Fund met with a wide and generous response. There is still a demand for material and financial aid for there were casualties, some of them proving fatal. Of the 15 seriously injured and removed to hospital, Mrs. Gale passed out of her sufferings despite the efforts to preserve her life. A number of houses were damaged, and families were for a short time rendered homeless. It is good to record that homes have been restored and scattered members of families once more united.

Concerning Church Collections

By the Rev. JAMES DUNCAN, Vicar of Dawdon (From. The Church Monthly”)

A popular journalist declared recently that “the penny churchgoer is still much in evidence.” He has been at pains to learn for himself what is the average contribution made by worshippers when they attend their parish church on a Sunday. He finds it is one penny and he blazons his discovery as though it were new. Bless his honest soul! He is a trifle late with his news. For the past century and more the man in the pew has dropped his nimble nickel into the plate, openly and unashamed. While he may not have boasted about it he has not hesitated to say in the presence of his family, ” Now let me see. I must not go to church this morning without a penny in my pocket for the collection. It would never do to forget it.”

In these days the same good fellow will seldom pay less than one shilling for a seat in the local cinema. Yet he considers a twelfth part of this sum is sufficient to ensure him comfortable accommodation in his Parish Church, with a hymn book, prayer book, and a hassock—and it must make comfortable kneeling, mark you, or he will have none of it—thrown in, of course. It is clear that the Church and the Police Force share an ardent faith in the Power of Coppers.

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There was once a dear, good bishop who was not afraid to extol the potent properties of the modest copper coin. Having made reference to the offertory, he would look straight at his congregation and exclaim :

“He dropped a penny in the plate, Then meekly raised his eyes, Another week’s rent was duly paid For mansions in the skies.”

It is almost ancient history to record the comment of the small boy who listened to the diatribes of his father on their return from church. “It was a dismal service,” shouted paterfamilias.” The organ sounded cracked; the choirboys were seldom in tune; the prayers were mumbled; the hymns ill-chosen; the lessons were badly read; and the sermon had not an ounce of sustenance in it.”

It was then the little fellow broke in with, “But, daddy dear, what more could you expect for a penny?”

Some time ago a friend of mine went to New Zealand to conduct a mission there. He told me that he found the people magnificently generous and responsive. After one service, the collection plates poured upon the vestry table a huge heap of gold, silver and notes. Suddenly tears were seen running down the cheeks of a sturdy churchwarden. “Anything wrong, John?” asked the vicar anxiously. John shook his head. Then he bent forward and took from the mountain of money a single, solitary penny. He kissed it passionately. “There’s someone here from the old country to-night,” he stammered brokenly. “Heaven bless him!”

And then there is the story of the famous Arthur Stanton who in his great days at St. Alban’s, Holborn, was in demand as a preacher. He made a powerful appeal in a London fashionable church for his beloved poor. The financial result disappointed him. He returned to the pulpit on the following Sunday. ” Last week,” he began, “as I looked at your dear, good, wealthy and comfortable people, I said to myself, Where are the poor?” Afterwards, when the offertory was counted in the vestry, I said again to myself, “Dear me, dear me ! Where were the rich?” I’m still wondering what could have happened to them.

But, of course, it is not always so. In every parish church there are generous souls who value their religion. They understand that money is needed and give often at great personal sacrifice. They refuse to offer that which costs them nothing. I know an old age pensioner, living in one room, quietly happy in her poverty. She tries to set aside one-tenth of her limited income to her church, her only fear being that others may learn and praise—or condemn— her for a liberality like that of the widow who gave her mite, and was specially commended by our Lord Himself.

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And just the other day one of my former choirboys walked into the church vestry to see me. He had been present at evensong, although his leave was short. He was back from a long sea voyage, hazardous and adventurous. From the bridge of his ship he had looked on strange sights. Alien submarines had followed them; floating mines were a constant menace ; storm and icebergs had to be faced, while explosives in the holds of the ship threatened disaster for momentary slip or error. Into my hands he pressed a crisp Bank of England five pound note. I gasped with both astonishment and delight, and then told him that I thought it was too large an offering to make.

” It is my gift for my old church,” he said. “You must take it.” He paused before he added : “You see I have had great luck. I have a lot for which to thank God. But you must not mention my name. Put the contribution down to Mr. Anonymous.”

He said good-bye, and three days later was once more on the high seas. They that go down to the sea in ships and occupy their business in great waters see the works of the Lord—and they are grateful. Generosity is a characteristic of seamen. It marks those who have voyaged to far places and have found life perplexing yet pleasant, strange and wonderful, hard and bitter, but on the whole tender and sweet, and sane and good.

Generosity is the twin of thankfulness. The grateful heart is unmindful of sacrifice and cost. It readily responds to the calls of country, church and charity. It confers what money cannot measure, since with the gift it gives—itself.

Vivid Memories

By G. S. BOGGON.

One day this year will remain in my memory as long as I live. I started that day at Houghton-le-Spring Police Court. The business was just over and the court room was nearly empty when the siren sounded. Civilians took cover. Officials went each to his station. I finished my report.

I went to my accustomed telephone but was unable to get in touch with the office of my newspaper and so I waited in a street shelter for the “raider’s passed ” signal. The shelter was full of young women from a large store. Were they downhearted ? No ! They were lustily singing ” There will always be an England.”

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We heard the distant rumble of the bombs and the sharp fire of the anti-aircraft guns. The general impression was that the enemy was over Sunderland or South Shields. When the ” All clear ” sounded I got through to the office with my Police Court matter and was told that as far as was then known the raiders had been North of Sunderland.

I was asked to go to Hetton and investigate the ringing of the church bells at Eppleton and did so, and of course this took up more time and it was while at Hetton that I received a message that Dawdon had been bombed and I jumped in my car and drove straight home, arriving about 3-30.

It was only then that I learned that my native town had been attacked and that a German plane had been brought down in the sea. There was a crater in a field quarter of a mile from my house.

I was soon in touch with realities. Stark tragedy gripped Dawdon. In Staverdale Street I saw ruined homes. Opposite the demolished houses I interviewed an old lady in her kitchen. She had received a severe shock, but she was sitting at her sewing machine bravely trying to sew. That street had its dead and injured.

Ilchester Street showed a great gap where several houses were down. In the words of the Psalmist it was “a heap of stones.” Dead and wounded had been removed but even then the A.R.P. men were still trying to recover a body which, so far, had not been reached.

More dead in Fenwicks Row ! After checking up with official sources I found there were 10 deaths, many injured were in hospital and others at home.

No need for gruesome details. That is not my purpose here. The hush of death was over Dawdon, but one saw unflinching courage in the calm demeanour of the people, one heard it in their conversation, and one realised it in the splendid work of the A.R.P.

We are all in this war and there is a wonderful bond of faith, hope and charity between the population of our island and the great civil defence service which the war has called into being. Our united will is to see the war through to its victorious end.

“This England never did, nor never shall, Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,

Come the three corners of the world in arms, And we shall shock them.

Nought shall make us rue,

If England to itself do rest but true.”

Let England be true to herself and with the help of God and our own right arm we will win.

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One of the ways we can remain true to ourselves is to hold fast to the faith of our fathers and our church. Good luck in the name of the Lord to Mr. Duncan in his efforts to repair the ravages of the enemy on St. Hild and St. Helen’s, Dawdon. When the scheme is accomplished I suggest a memorial tablet and upon the stone I would engrave :

To the glory of God and to commemorate Those who gave their lives for their country and also The restoration of this Church after damage by air attack, This tablet is placed here.

__________

” The Lord of Hosts is with us ;

the God of Jacob is our refuge.”

Solace

By the Rev. JAMES DUNCAN

The heart knows its own bitterness. Sooner or later every mortal born under the sun is made aware of this. For to all men come disappointment, the thwarting of hopes, the shattering of schemes, and the heavy-loaded sorrow of bereavement. In the hour of grief we must, for a time, stand apart since there is a gulf which no one can bridge. But to be alone for long is to be wounded in the spirit and to receive a hurt not easy to be healed.

Those who fall upon sorrow need the sympathy of their fellows. It is then that the word softly spoken may restore hope ; the grip of a hand give confidence; and a kiss on the lips make the heart sing once more with joy. Sincerity is the secret of those with the gift of sympathy. It is not to be feigned for it is often in the silence that heart goes out to heart and spirit meets with spirit. Those who are in sorrow know those who love them most.

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Calamity may bring a community together as well as individuals. In the recent air raid there was a remarkable demonstration of sympathy with the victims and their friends. This expressed itself in simple word and golden deed, and sometimes only in the emanation of kind thoughts. The bereaved were helped in this way and they now reveal that the burden was lightened and made easier to bear by human sympathy. Here is an extract from a letter written by one who endured a two-fold loss. “I am writing you in an endeavour to express our sincere appreciation and gratitude to you for your great kindness and sympathy in the sad loss of our loved ones. They are a great miss and it seems we shall not be able to fill their places. I can assure you on behalf of us all that it was very nice to receive such kind words and tokens of sympathy such as you offered to us. And it was not so much the words uttered as the manner in which they were spoken, and also the pressure of the hand means a lot when you are in trouble. We received many expressions of sympathy from numerous people, and we all appreciated it very much.”

Then from a widow left with an only child comes the note : “I am writing this letter to thank you and Mrs. Duncan, also Lord and Lady Londonderry, for the gifts you gave me as well as for the kindness shown to me in my recent trouble. Words cannot express how much I appreciate what you all did for me and my boy. All I can say is : thank you very much indeed.”

As we pass through life we can do something to alleviate the sufferings of our fellow travellers who have fallen by the wayside. The balm of sympathy succours those who have sorrow of heart; solace comes to those who are stricken when they find their load lifted by the strong hands of understanding friends. We cannot now explain the darker mysteries of life nor learn why innocence should suffer while guilty men escape. But we do know that Calvary was the prelude to man’s assured immortality, and that the Crown of Thorns was more glorious than the crown of gold an earthly king may wear. First the Cross and then the Crown is the way of God for man, but only those with eyes to see discern the truth and Faith alone dare take the challenge.

“Not till the loom is silent,

                               And the shuttles cease to fly, Shall God unroll the canvas,

                               And explain the reason why. The dark threads are as needful

                               In the weaver’s skilful hand, As the threads of gold and silver

                               In the pattern He has planned.”

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War’s Light and Shade

By the Rev. JAMES DUNCAN.

Life is made of light and shade. There are sunshine and darkness ; love and hatred; war and peace; joy and sorrow. These are complementary, vital and necessary to each other. This is best seen in the play of human emotions. A baby comes into the world with a cry. Later, he laughs. It must be a day of marvel for a mother when she sees the first pleasurable smile lighting the infant’s face, and wonders what strange magic conjured it there. At a still further stage in his pilgrimage the child cheers and claps his hands.

Emotion is expressed by a cry, a laugh, and a cheer. There are occasions, curiously, when we seem to do all three simultaneously. Some good news stirs and thrills and moves us so tremendously that, as we put it, “we laugh and cry for joy.” And perhaps at the same time we cheer and clap our hands—just as the baby does when he is pleased.

In the three significant sounds of life, the trio of C’s—a cry, a chuckle, a cheer—are contained in the world’s tragedy, comedy and romance. Hollywood knows this, and so too does every successful dramatist. Still more aware of it is the poet who sees clearly beneath the surface of life’s happenings. The mighty Shakespeare remains the master of them all. His immortal tragedies, comedies, romances, sonnets and poems bear witness to his unequalled knowledge of human nature and the emotions that sway the race of man.

Now there is a time to cry, and a time to laugh, and a time to cheer. We sigh in sadness ; in happy mood we smile, and when we approve we applaud. A cry, a chuckle, and a cheer are like three strings of a harp. The constant twanging of one cord jars, frets, tends to dull monotony. Bnt a skilled use of all strings makes for variation, melody and delight.

Remembering this, it is not surprising that grim war itself has light and shade, and that an air raid, tragic though it be with its toll of suffering, may yet provoke both laughter and cheers. I like, for instance, the story of the gallant fellow whose house was blown sky high. On the debris he erected a board which bore the words : “REMOVED INTO NEXT STREET.”

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Then there was the tradesman who found that every window in his shop was shattered by shrapnel. He also affixed a notice. It read : ” I have no PANE, dear mother, now !” In my own parish a miner looked at a heap of rubble that marked the place where his house had stood. With a grin he handed the front door key to a policeman. “Take care of this, please,” he said. “If anyone calls to see me tell him that I am not at home ! “

Think, too, of the plain philosopher who, observing the damage done by bombs from the air, remarked to a friend, ” Well, George, we must make the best of things. It’s no use fretting and fuming. What has been, has been; what is, is ; and what is to be will be, and will come in its own time and in its own way. After all, George, it’s no use worrying for if your name is on a shell, you’ll get it all right.”

“Is that really so, Bill ? ” inquired the startled George.” Why, bless my soul, I didn’t know that Hitler was writing our names on the bombs now. It beats me to know where he gets ’em from !”

And this is what a mother, who cried and laughed and cheered in turn, said to me, “After the air raid we went back to our home from the shelter. What a shock we got! We found that walls had been knocked down: ceilings had fallen, and windows were blown to bits. Most of the furniture was smashed, the piano was out of action, and the curtains had been torn into shreds.” She paused and a smile lit up her face. “Yet the father and I,” she continued, “could not help laughing when our little girl, looking round, suddenly shouted, ‘O dad! O mum! What a shame ! Why they have gone and broken poor dolly’s best china tea-set!’”

It may not be true to say :

” Laugh and the world laughs with you, Weep and you weep alone.”

But it is to be observed that the person who possesses a sense of humour which, after all, is a sense of proportion, draws more good companions to share his laughter and his woes than the lugubrious individual who forces himself and his unwelcome pessimism into any pleasant gathering.

Those who enjoy a full but disciplined emotional life learn how and when to cry, and to chuckle, and to cheer. If it happens that they laugh and applaud more frequently than they weep it is not because they do not discern” the tears in things” but that, facing life steadily and facing it whole, they believe in the essential soundness of human nature and that,

“The world that we are living in, Is very hard to beat. We find a thorn in every rose, But aren’t the roses sweet! “

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Son o’ Mine

They took away my only son

To fight for liberty, To serve against a cruel foe,

And set the peoples free. And as he went he waved to me,

Then fondly smiled his love for me.

And now he’s gone I’m left alone

Yet not alone at all. For day by day I hear his voice,

And answer to his call. Nor time, nor space, nor deepest sea

Shall keep my own true love from me.

Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone,

In thee myself I see, And know that war can never break

Thine own sweet constancy, Thus from my heart I banish fear

And feel in spirit thou art near.

A mother’s lot is mine to bear,

To stand and hope and wait, And watch the pages one by one,

Turned by the hand of Fate. And scan with straining eyes to see

What Time’s blurred tome holds there for me.

His courage on the battlefield,

Shall stand the test of wars, And Duty give him grace to face

Perils and wounds and scars, And in the fight for liberty,

Strike doubly strong for victory.

Courage ! I too must play my part,

The hardest part may-be, And steel my soul and set my hand

To tasks of loyalty, Then share the peace, the conflict won,
With Faithful Heart—my life, my son.

—JAMES DUNCAN

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Good Companions

Dear Good Companion,

This is a personal appeal to a specially selected two hundred of my friends and acquaintances. You are one of them. I feel you will be interested.

It is now known that recently Seaham suffered a heavy bombardment from the air. Casualties were numerous; damage was extensive. It was my melancholy duty to officiate at the funerals of victims in my parish. I have seen the injured in hospital or at their own homes. It is pleasant to record that their unfailing courage and cheerfulness have been factors in their recovery. Through the generosity of understanding people, I have helped many whose furniture and household goods were damaged or destroyed.

I myself had a fortunate escape when the church and vicarage were hit by bombs. I am now faced with the responsibility of repairing them. The estimated cost is nearly £1,000.

ONE THOUSAND POUNDS!

(I am asking the printer to put this in capital letters).

It staggers one until the idea is grasped of THE TWICE ONE HUNDRED GOOD COMPANIONS. Then, somehow, the task of raising the money seems comparatively easy. Here is the scheme : If one hundred of my friends will give or raise for me £10 each the whole amount could be obtained in quick time. Should the £10 unit be considered too high then a similar result would be achieved if THE TWICE ONE HUNDRED GOOD COMPANIONS subscribed £5 each.

I am well aware that my fellow clerics are generally overworked and underpaid. That is their lot, accepted gladly in the exercise of the best of all vocations. Perhaps they would like to but could not give £10 or even £5 from attenuated war time resources. Yet they could—and I hope I may add that they will—raise £10 (or £5) by collections or by a parochial social effort or by a little judicious begging. (What incorrigible and expert beggars the clergy are to be sure !) I promise to do as much for them if—may the kind fates forfend—they are ever placed in similar plight to my own.

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It is my belief that most of my lay friends, to whom I am addressing this letter, could give or raise £10 (or £5) without much difficulty. I know them to be men and women of infinite resource and fertile of ideas. So much about them I hope a familiar may say without suspicion of flattery.

Well, there it is. One hundred subscriptions of £10 or two hundred gifts of £5 would provide me with the £1,000 for the restoration of church and vicarage. Of course, I need hardly add that larger sums than £10 will be welcomed while smaller sums than £5 will be received gladly. In the legitimate attainment of our objective the spirit of the giving will count for more than the method of its expression. What matters the shape of the chalice if the wine be good? My wife and I claim the privilege of making the first contribution of £10. You may ask, “What will you do if the Government defrays the whole or part of the cost of restoration?” My answer is, “If this is done then, after the necessary work is completed and all accounts settled, I shall send the money still in my possession to the Durham Diocesan Finance Board for use in the diocese of Durham. It will be marked as the gift of THE TWICE ONE HUNDRED GOOD COMPANIONS.”

But, acting on competent professional advice, I want to proceed at once with the repairs to church and vicarage, and I long for that £1,000 from my friends and acquaintances to free me from a financial burden in a world crisis that is fraying the nerves of the strongest. Do please help me now. ” He gives twice who gives quickly.”

If you have escaped from the dangers of air raids, then your gift may become a thanksoffering. This will surely please God when you say your ” thank you ” to Him for your safety and that of those near and dear to you. Moreover, in our damaged but still beautiful church we shall remember with real gratitude, all who aid us in our day of dire need. May God bless you in a testing time that teaches anew that those who bear the burdens of their comrades best fulfil the law of our Master, Christ.

Yours sincerely and expectantly, JAMES DUNCAN

(Vicar of Dawdon).

[Copies of the letter given above have been sent to two hundred friends and acquaintances of the Vicar of Dawdon. He hopes, however, that readers of ” Story of an Air Raid” who have not received a personal appeal, will help him in his efforts to restore the church and vicarage. Donations should be sent to—

The Rev. JAMES DUNCAN, Dawdon Vicarage, Seaham, Co. Durham].

END

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