November Newsletter 2019

We should like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their generous gifts donated to the auction after our Harvest Festival service in October, expertly officiated by Jim Pearce. We raised 301 Euros which was donated to the charity Resto du Coeur. 

We should also like to welcome Alison Heal to our team of Congregational Worship Leaders (CWL) formerly referred to as LWAs. 

Thought for the month – Provided by Jim Pearce – Congregational Worship Leader 

Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness My eye! As I am writing this thunder is rolling around the hills and it has been raining in pickaxe handles in the night. However, All Saints day is just before our next Church Service in Bagard. 

This day in the Church’s calendar hardly registers in the UK. Here in the South of France it is difficult to miss it with the plethora of chrysanthemums and it is special day in the Roman Catholic calendar. 

For most of us All Saints day is when we remember loved ones who have passed on and gone before us to a better place. All Saints day is also a re-calling to be part of the Christian faith. C. S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia) wrote “….there are 3 logical responses to Christ. We can feel hatred, terror or adoration but there is no logical place for adoration”. An extreme view from one of the most respected authors and religious commentators of the 20th Century. Gives one food for thought. 

Remembrance 

On the 7th November 1920 in conditions of great secrecy 4 bodies of allied soldiers were exhumed from four battle areas – the Aisne, the Somme, Arras and Ypres. They were taken to the Chapel of St Pol. There Brigadier General Wyatt, commanding British Forces remaining in Flanders, was blindfolded and selected one of the bodies. The next day the remains began the journey to his final resting place. The coffin was taken to Boulogne and placed inside another coffin, made of oak from Hampton Court. Its plate bore the inscription: “A British Warrior who fell in the Great War 1914-1918 for King and Country”. 

This second coffin had a 16th Century sword, taken from King George V’s private collection, fixed on top. The body was then transported to Dover via the destroyer HMS Verdun and taken by train to London. 

On the morning of 11th November 1920 – two years to the day after the war had ended, the body of the unknown warrior was drawn in a procession through London to the Cenotaph. This new war memorial on Whitehall was then unveiled by George V1 

At 11.00 there was a two-minute silence, and the body was then taken to nearby Westminster Abbey where it was buried, passing through a guard of honour of 100 holders of the Victoria Cross. 

Those parents and wives who had lost men to war didn’t have anything tangible to grieve at, so the unknown warrior represented their loss. The point was that it literally could have been anybody. It could have been an earl or a duke’s son, or a labourer from South Africa. The idea really caught the public mood, as it was a very democratic thing that it could have been someone from any rank. In the first week 1,250,000 visited the unknown soldier to pay their respects and the tomb still forms a focal point for Remembrance Sunday and 11th November. 

Poppy Appeal The first official Legion Poppy Day was held in Britain on 11th November 

1921, inspired by the poem In Flanders’ Fields written by John McCrae. Since then the Poppy Appeal has been a key annual event in the nation’s calendar. In 2018 the Poppy Appeal raised £44 million. The money raised has gone to veteran care homes, family respite and advisory services and rehabilitation courses among other causes. More recently, with the realisation of the scale of mental health problems among military personnel following campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, attention is turning to mental health. 

Poppies will be on sale at Bagard Service on 3rd November, the BritsNimes “Blast from the past” evening on 9th November and at Uzès Service on 10th November. 

A random thought 

Despite my best efforts I am frequently misunderstood when speaking French. Sometimes I feel like Joseph at the Inn in Bethlehem clutching a crib of straw saying No, I asked to see the manager”

Leave a Comment