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St George’s News - Waterlooville’s Parish Magazine

The Website for St George’s Church, Waterlooville and its Parish Magazine St George’s News

Autumn 2021 issue

Looking back on 100 years of worship

In England we had our freedom, the churches were open doing their work as usual, so there was little suffering apart from the bereavement in many families. We got used to the greyness of life but it was the same for all so you made the best of what you had. This was not a time of renewal, but the aim was to protect and "mend and make do" with what we had. Air raid shelters were built everywhere, big and little, in some houses a heavy table pushed against an inside wall of the house was turned into one, it gave you a sense of security while bombs were hurtling down. London's tube stations had to shut their gates of entry when they could take no more people in, and eventually families who had nowhere else to go made it their home with mattresses on the platforms. People who were visiting London during this time made it a place to see during their visit. It had to be "seen to be believed". Every town and village had their Air Raid post manned by wardens day and night during the continual raids. Church crypts were always open, St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square London has continued to do so ever since and now is a well known refuge for homeless people.

America at last entered the war and became our ally after Japan had attacked her fleet at Pearl Harbour and caused an enormous amount of damage while she was still a neutral country. It took everyone by surprise and the whole of the Eastern front was opened up to war. The Allies were Britain and her colonies, America and refugees from Europe who had managed to escape and wanted to help in the fight for freedom, and amongst these there were many Poles. This was not a religious war but it was a war for Christians against an enemy who denounced Christianity. Stalin was very suspect in this, but he held the Eastern Front against Hitler's aggression so became an Ally and did allow the Russian Church to revive at this time.

The battle lines were now drawn up and the war continued now becoming world wide, Britain and America with Stalin who held the far eastern part of Europe firmly in his grasp. Now the war was being waged on many fronts and the Church could do nothing but give prayers and succour when and where they could. The Pope was enclosed in the Vatican State and he was not allowed to leave it. Both Hitler and Mussolini had broken their promises given to him and he was a virtual prisoner there for the rest of the war.

The war quickly spread to the Mediterranean and Africa as Hitler wanted the Suez Canal for his supplies and army to reach the East. Japan had now joined forces with Hitler and Italy, it was known as the Axis. The Allies still held the Mediterranean in spite of the terrible bombing of Malta. This had been going on for a long time since the outbreak of war, now it was no place for the Allied Shipping to enter, and the Maltese were starving, living in the catacombs, but although the war had reduced them to a terrible state they never surrendered or were conquered. This was a great loss, but the Navy had still a strong fleet in the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, but too far away to stop the German Africa Corps from landing, on the African side near Tunis. From here a battle was fought against the Allies who had to retreat to Alexandria where they made a stand. After weeks and months of depressing news of sunk warships, lost battles in Africa, and many of our Desert Rats taken as prisoners, or killed, once again the world seemed to stand still and there was a lull in the fighting which gave us time to reorganise the army, bring out new troops and new commanders and the necessary equipment to start a new offensive against the enemy. It was all inexplicable, had the Axis overstretched themselves and so become weakened or was it another instance of the power of prayer?

Whatever happened it was now that the Allies were able to turn defeat into victory and pushed the German Army back from whence it had come leaving North Africa and the Mediterranean under Allied protection, it was the first good news we had had for a very long time but as Churchill wisely said:

“This is not the end,

It is not the beginning of the end

But it is perhaps the end of the beginning.”

The Struggle for liberty and freedom

The nineteen forties, for all who lived through them, were a time of hope without expectations, living for today, fear such as few had ever known before, and death for many an everyday occurrence, and it brought out the best in most people. Life in this country altered considerably but nothing compared with the situation in all the occupied states of Europe where they had to serve, without freedom of any kind, a man whom they knew was evil as was his regime. They could not pray in church, these had been closed or left in ruins and worship of any kind had to go underground or practised in great secrecy. Gone were the days of Church Bells ringing while the congregation made their way to worship, and to meet and talk quite freely. Now they had to find the right place, usually down some alley or a small out of the way house that would not attract any attention, for they risked imprisonment and often death if discovered. There was also the French Resistance Groups, formed by people of great courage to help where and when they could, often behind enemy lines usually with a priest working with them, all risking their lives if discovered.

Ruby Bullock

This series is taken from the St George’s News archives, and this extract was first published in 2000.

To be continued


Sheltering in the London Tube.


St Martin in the Fields.