By Andrew Dawes
Remembrance 2020 seems so very different this year, and I’m actually a bit worried that Remembrance is being forgotten. Here I am writing an article to help remind everyone, and it’s only just occurred to me that I haven’t yet bought a poppy!
We know it won’t be possible for the large crowds to gather at the Cenotaph on Whitehall, and our very own star bugler Larry Coles won’t be playing the haunting sounds of the ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’ alongside the mayor of Bath. St Bart’s can’t host the popular community service in the Memorial Gardens next to the Co-op and our wreath has been laid privately. All feels rather sad.
Nevertheless, we are really grateful to Alex Williams for braving the wind and rain at the weekend and laying out a field of poppies on the church lawn – the evocative sight is really spectacular, and has resulted in lots of locals taking photos.
This afternoon I had a chat with a second year Physics student who had put down his heavy shopping bags to take a look. He had a massive smile on his face. He said his older brother was in the RAF and he had wanted to send him through a picture or something to warm his heart – the poppy field was perfect!
We got chatting about the Bath Blitz of 1941 and 1942 when the Luftwaffe targeted cultural and historical sites rather than those of industrial, military and strategic value. Tragically those bombing raids resulted in a Bath death toll of 417 people, including those crouching in a shelter on Third Avenue. Roughly 1,100 buildings in the city were seriously damaged or destroyed. Those of you who know your St Bart’s history, will recall that the church took a direct hit on 25 April 1942. The very big bomb crashed through and destroyed the entire roof, exploded and blew out the poorly built east wall. Records from the time state that the next morning a note was pinned to the door of the gutted church which read ‘Resurgam’ – ‘I will arise’. The parishioners were determined St Bart’s would indeed rise again. Ten years later the new building was completed and a service of thanksgiving was held.
We wandered inside, and I showed Phil the Physicist the historical plaques at the back of the church, and he took another picture for his brother. He then asked me if I feared death from Covid (I think he thought I was quite old). I said I was definitely not looking forward to the process of dying, but we read together John 11 v 25 where Jesus says: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die’’. A personal ‘Resurgam’! He said he would also send the Bible passage to his brother.
‘Resurgam’ has been swilling round in my brain, and I invite you to do some swilling. I think it reminds us that sometimes we have to go through really tough times, but that a new and better day will one day dawn. Wars, pandemics and death will all be blown away by that awesome and glorious day of resurrection. This track by Faith Hill can’t really capture the brilliance of it all, but if you can cope with country and western at high volume give it a blast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-4ckDcXrhc