Main Street Community Church

Remembrance service 2019

The service is led by Gill Morgan. There are contributions from June, Edith, and Harry. Paul Wintle leads the prayers.

This recording includes the spoken parts of most of the service. Music and hymns are not included because of licensing restrictions. Some notices and other items have also been left out. Recorded on .

The excluded items include:

The total length of the recording is .

Play in browser

A transcript is available lower down the page.

Transcript

[Paul: ] It’s good to welcome you this morning to our remembrance service today. Gill will be leading us through our time together with a number of people coming forward to share in a number of different ways. I trust and I hope and I pray that this morning will do justice to the sombre and remembering occasion that befits this time of year. Shall we pray? Father God, we thank you for bringing us into this place. As we remember again lives given for us, we remember the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. We thank you for what his resurrection means for us, that we may have eternal life. So this morning, Father God, we offer you our time together and pray that it would be like sweet-smelling incense to your heart. Amen.

[Gill: ] There was some music playing which I don’t know if you were able to hear. I don’t know if we can get a couple more minutes of it where it was.

[music]

[Gill: ] That music is, I find very very beautiful and very moving, and that’s from The Armed Man which is subtitled“A Mass for Peace”, which was written, I think at the millennium. Actually, this is sort of a plug, but I would have played this anyway because I think it’s beautiful music. John Giles will be singing in this in Chester Cathedral the Saturday after next. If you want to go and hear it, it is a wonderful piece. The whole work is absolutely wonderful. But I find that very beautiful, that’s the Benedictus. I’ve teamed it with this photograph here. I don’t know if anybody knows where this is.

This is one of the D-Day beaches. We were in France in September and some friends of ours were there too. We tried to meet up with them, but we were all going in different directions and we didn’t manage it. They commented at the end that they were going to the D-Day beaches on the way home. We had briefly thought of it, but as usual, we didn’t get ourselves organized to allow enough time to go. I happened to comment that my dad was involved in D-Day. The next time I saw these friends, they had brought me a jar of sand and pebbles from the beach they went to.

We don’t know which beach Dad was on, he never talked about it much, but they went to two or three. They said when they got there, this rainbow was there. This is one of the beaches and I was very touched. They took this and brought it to me in a card with the sand and the stones from the beach, the D-Day beach. This is a Mulberry harbour, the temporary harbours that were put there. I just felt that was a touching opening to this morning’s service and especially when I saw Martin’s wonderful bulletin that he’s done with wonderful graphics on it too, and it’s D-Day’s 75th anniversary.

So that was just a moment and I think perhaps at the end of the service, we’ll just pop that up again. If you want to stay in quietly at the end of the service and think some thoughts of your own, then you are very very welcome to do that.

Let’s start by singing number 147, Great is Thy Faithfulness. As Paul has already alluded, we are here to remember and commemorate and to honour those people who gave their lives and those people who came back and were never the same again. Particularly from the two world wars, but from all wars, and it’s still happening and still going on. But we as Christians, we have a greater promise that Jesus died and that his resurrection has given us all a promise of life. So let’s sing together Great is Thy Faithfulness. O God, my Father, there is no shadow of turning with thee.

After this, June is going to come and talk. We have a couple of things that June is going to talk to us about, but between us, we’re going to get that silence happening at 11:00. June is quite happy to be interrupted if that’s necessary. So we’re going to sing this song and then June will come and talk as I invite her to come up, but we will be standing to remember at eleven o’clock for two minutes.

Great is Thy faithfulness. Great is Thy faithfulness. Morning by morning, new mercies I see. Thank you.

[music]

[Gill: ] Strength for today, Lord give us strength for today. Give us bright hope for tomorrow and help us to see your blessings which you give to each one of us just in thousands and thousands. Help us, Lord, to see those. Thank you, Lord, for being here with us this morning. In Jesus’ name, amen.

[Congregation: ] Amen.

[Gill: ] June.

[June: ] Morning.

[Congregation: ] Morning.

[June: ] I’ll try and keep my act together this morning. I’m quite happy when it’s eleven o’clock, to stop.

[Gill: ] Yes.

[June: ] I don’t know if you’re aware that the last soldiers went over the top at 4.20am on November 11, 1918. The Armistice was to be signed at five o’clock in the morning in a railway carriage in the Forest of Compi├Ęgne in France. At the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918, the guns of Europe fell silent and the Great War was over, but on that morning alone, there were 10,944 casualties and 2,738 deaths on the Western Front. A lot of people were unaware that there had been an Armistice signed.

I spoke to you last year about my four uncles who survived the Great War but came home suffering from what we now call PTSD, shell shock. It was my mother’s older brother who was 18 when the war broke out. He was in the Royal Engineers and he served in France throughout most of the war, and all his mates were blown to pieces around him and he suffered hysterical paralysis. He couldn’t speak for two or three years when he came home. Eventually, he got his speech back, but he also stammered for the rest of his life under stress. He was quite a happy man, actually, many respects. I knew him extremely well. He was a lovely fellow.

[Gill: ] He is one of these people in here?

[June: ] That’s right, yes.

[Gill: ] Sorry to interrupt you.

[June: ] If you come down from the top right {on a projected photograph], Uncle Harry is the one with his hands stretched out, that’s mum’s brother. Most of these fellows were killed around him and that’s what led to his, as I said hysterical paralysis. He actually lived till he was 74 and he had a good life really, I suppose. There’s a picture somewhere, he sent a brooch home to my mum. My mother was only–She was born in 1910 so she was only eight when the war finished. Well, I think there’s a picture of that somewhere in there. It’s there, somewhere.

There was also my uncle Stan. He was a pacifist, but he volunteered for the RAMC [Royal Army Medical Corps] when he was 19. In fact, he served in France throughout the war, in charge of up to 32 stretcher bearers, many of whom were wounded or killed by shell, gas, and bomb attack. He was commissioned in the field and was awarded the Military Medal in 1917 on active service in the Somme and Ypres. In a log he kept, which I’ve got, he repeatedly wrote he could not sleep or eat, so sick at heart and nauseated was he with the bloodshed. He died in 1958 aged 54.

Uncle Robert, who was the Artists ’ Rifles, he was an art teacher, he died in 1961 aged 68. He never spoke of the war, I never saw him smile. Absolutely devastated throughout the rest of his life. Uncle Peter who served in the Cheshire Regiment, he was born in 1898. He served some time with Todger Jones who was a Runcorn VC. Todger, there is a statue of him in Runcorn in memorial gardens, opposite the cenotaph. He got VC at Morval in France when he allegedly captured a hundred Germans, but actually, I think they’d had enough and they surrendered to him, but he still got the VC. I met him several times. I attended his funeral. He is buried in Runcorn Cemetery.

[Gill: ] We’re just coming up to eleven o’clock now. So if you would like to stand if you’re able, and we’ll bring to mind the people we know who are from our family, or we can think of those just the mark of respect for those who went and for those people who still go. Let’s stand and let’s have two minutes in silence.

[silence]

[Gill: ] Thank you.

[June: ] Right. I was talking about my uncle Peter, he was gassed and he coughed his life away. He died in his fifties. I remember him well because he lived next door to my grandparents in Runcorn. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, having served at Mons. Then finally, there’s my father’s best friend, Alex.

[June: ] It’s okay. He died aged 19, 10 days after the armistice having been gassed. I’ve actually got the last letter he wrote to my father here. That’s Alex and that’s the letter he sent to my father. He says,“Dear John, you’re most welcome parcel received today. First of all, I wish to thank you for your kindness. You’ve no idea how much I think about it. I sincerely hope that this will greet you and yours in the very best of health as it leaves me.” He then goes on to refer to my father, who was working in the public hall then in Runcorn as an electrician. Alex worked alongside him.

“Don’t think about leave, John. I don’t know when I shall get ‘home’,” which is inverted commas,“But I keep on going and it will come sometime and we will make up for it. Well, John, I think this is all I have to say in this and will close with thanking you once again for your kind parcel.” He then goes on to mention two friends.“Tell them both I was asking for them, yours always. Alex.” He came home in a box four months later. He’s buried in Runcorn Cemetery and I was over that last week with a cross. Sorry about that.

That’s the Ypres badge that my uncle sent to my mum. It’s over a hundred years old that now. That’s Alex’s last letter again, that was written in July 1918 and my father kept it all his life, obviously. Sorry about that. Thanks very much.

[Gill: ] We really appreciate how much Jean brings all these things alive to–Jean, I’m sorry I called you Jean, that’s my mum’s name.

[June: ] It’s all right. Don’t worry.

[Gill: ] How much June brings all these things in a precious way to us, I think, and helps us to see a lot of the heartache that went on, that over the years is if we’re not careful, it’s becoming- people are less and less aware of.

[June: ] When I’ve gone, I suppose my generation will be the last people that knew people who fought in WWI and knew a lot in the second, but we won’t go into that.

[Gill: ] Thank you.

[June: ] Sorry about that.

[Gill: ] Please don’t apologize. We appreciate very much that you come out here and share these things with us. I should have said at the outset of that that June was coming to bring her memories of the WWI and how it affected her family. I’m sorry, I was getting bothered about the time and everything else so I forgot to say that, but that became evident as you spoke. Thank you, June and I know that June goes to the Runcorn Cemetery very regularly to tend that grave of her father’s friend. Edith, at the other end of the scale, if you like, with no offence meant.

Edith was very fortunate to go with her school, Manor House School, on a trip just a few weeks ago, wasn’t Edith? She’s going to come now and talk to us about it. Are you happy to stay here and talk and I’ll jump up at the end? Let’s just wait for Paul to get the photos, you’ve got some photos. I’m not telling you where she went, she will tell you that herself as it goes.

[Edith: ] Okay. As you know, as some of you know, I’ve recently been on a trip to France, and when we went there we visited two cemeteries in Belgium, so I’m going to tell you about them. So the first Tyne Cot Cemetery. On Tuesday, we went to Belgium to visit the English cemetery called Tyne Cot. The graves were beautifully displayed and well respected. This is another one of Tyne Cot Cemetery but it’s showing the magnificent monument to commemorate the soldiers who fought and died. Then we got–We were lucky enough to get a picture next to it.

Before we went to Tyne Cot, we went to visit the Menin Gate. When we went, we did our own remembrance service and me and a few of other year sixes laid down a poppy wreath on a stand and had a minute of silence to remember the brave soldiers who lost their lives in conflict. On the tag, it said, ’You will never be forgotten’. We also visited the Passchendaele Museum and at the Passchendaele Museum, there was a section that represented what the trenches were like. At Langemark, it’s the German cemetery and unlike Tyne Cot, the graves had loads of soldiers in one grave. At one point, me and my friend actually decided to have a minute of silence there. Then this is another picture of Langemark.

[Gill: ] Don’t run away yet, because we just wondered…/p>

[applause]

I think hearing that, coming straight after June’s recollections, has been very moving for all of us actually. It’s good to see that you were able to go and see the things you brought, which June has talked about, and you have seen that people still go and people still remember. Thank you, but we just wondered really, well, I just wondered, how did you feel when you were there?

[Edith: ] I felt quite reflective because it was just like so moving to be at the graves.

[Gill: ] At the graves of all those people.

[Edith: ] Yes.

[Gill: ] Yes. Okay, thank you, Edith. How long were you away for with that trip?

[Edith: ] A week.

[Gill: ] A week. That was an amazing experience, I’m sure, to be able to have that. Thank you for sharing that with us, Edith, we’re very grateful. I’m sure if you want to talk to her afterwards, she’ll talk some more about what she saw and did when she was there. Right, now we are going to sing another song now. We’re going to sing number 79 if you’re using a book.“Dear Lord and father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways. ” I think those first two lines say at all in the context of today.“Reclothe us in our rightful mind, in purer lives, thy service find, in deeper reverence, praise.”

We’re going to watch if you’d like to sit down. We’re going to watch a four-minute animation made for Scotland, hence the accent. It was obviously made about five or six years ago because it talks about–it’s before the centenary of WWI. It explains a little bit about poppies, I don’t know how many people are familiar with the poppies. Harry is going to come now, he’s going to read a poem, not the poem In Flanders Fields, but he’s going to read a poem to help us reflect on those poppies.

[Harry: ] Why are they selling poppies, Mummy?
Selling poppies in town today?
The poppies, child, are flowers of love.
For the men who marched away.
But why have they chosen a poppy, Mummy?
Why not a beautiful rose?
Because my child, men fought and died
In the fields where the poppies grow.
But why are the poppies so red, Mummy?
Why are the poppies so red?
Red is the colour of blood, my child.
The blood that our soldiers shed.
The heart of the poppy is black, Mummy.
Why does it have to be black?
Black, my child, is the symbol of grief.
For the men who never came back.
But why, Mummy are you crying so?
Your tears are giving you pain.
My tears are my fears for you my child.
For the world is forgetting again.

[Gill: ] Thank you, Harry.

[pause]

[Paul: ] Shall we pray? When I say,“Let us pray to the Lord,” We respond.“Lord, have mercy.” In peace, let us pray to the Lord.

For the people of God, that they may worship you in spirit and in truth. Let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, have mercy.

[Paul: ] For the leaders of the nations, that you will guide them in ways of justice, mercy, and truth. Let us pray to the Lord.

[All: ] Lord, have mercy.

[Paul: ] For the peacemakers, that you may protect them from all evil. Let us pray to the Lord.

[All: ] Lord, have mercy.

[Paul: ] For our loved ones, wherever they may be. For those who wear the Queen’s uniform on our behalf. Let us pray to the Lord.

[All: ] Lord, have mercy.

[Paul: ] For our enemies and those who wish us harm, that you may turn the hearts of all to kindness and friendship. Let us pray to the Lord.

[All: ] Lord have mercy.

[Paul: ] For the sick and wounded, and for all prisoners and captives, that they may know your power to heal and to save. Let us pray to the Lord.

[All: ] Lord, have mercy.

[Paul: ] Almighty God, you see that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves. Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

[All: ] Amen.

[Paul: ] For those who mourn, let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy. For all those who have died in conflict. Lord, have mercy. They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. We will remember them. Most merciful and ever-living God, we remember those whom you have gathered from the storm of war into the peace of your presence. Grant that we, being faithful till death, may receive with them the crown of life that never fades. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

[All: ] Amen.

[Gill: ] It’s up to us as Christians, I believe, to help to keep the wonder of this world alive and the hope, the eternal hope, that we have found in our faith and share that with others. It just remains to sing our last song which is,“Restore, O Lord, the honour of Your name”. It’s only through the words of this song which reminds us of God’s plan for our world, Jesus coming, et cetera, that we can have her hope to move on. We have seen a lot this morning, I hope there haven’t been too many images. I hope there’s been something that has spoken to each person, even if it’s only one small thing, but a lot to think about. Remembering, not forgetting for these next generations coming up, not forgetting, and that is so important.

As we close our time here together, we’re going to sing this one,“Restore, O Lord”, and then afterwards, come through for coffee. Might be a couple of croissants left I think, if you’re still peckish. Then the Sunday sandwiches afterwards for those who would like to stay and even if you haven’t got any, there will be some here. The end. If you want to have long chats, perhaps you would like to go through there and we’ll put on–We’ll play that piece of music again and we’ll put that last, the slide of the D-Day beach on again at the end. If you want to stay here and have a little time of reflection yourself, then please do.

If you don’t want to stay in here, then please respect the silence, quiet, people want to keep and take yourselves through there for coffee and whatever. We’re going to stand and sing together.

Restore, O Lord,
The honour of Your name,
In works of sovereign power,
Come shake the earth again;
That men may see,
And come with reverent fear
To the living God,
Whose kingdom shall outlast the years.

[music]

Bend us, O Lord,
Where we are hard and cold,
In Your refiner’s fire
Come purify the gold.

Father, help us to see where we are hard and cold and help us to give ourselves to You, Lord, that You might find the treasure within and use it in your service. Thank you for our time together and may we say the grace together.

[All: ] May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all, evermore. Amen.

Return to the top of the page

Licences

This talk is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0 license logo