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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

Lent and Easter 2021 issue

Looking back on 100 years of worship

Europe was in a far worse state than we were, Germany was bankrupt and without any good leadership. The Jews were their scapegoat. They had been before the war, but the great financiers of the world were the German Jews, some were immensely rich and had got out of Europe when they saw what might happen, taking their loot with them, so now was the time to increase the persecution of the Jews in Europe. Hitler emerged on to the scene in Germany after he was released from prison, thirsting for power; here it was his for the taking, and the Jews again were the target. Stories began to get through from America where many had gone to live, but for the thousands trapped inside Germany and the other states of Europe nothing it seemed could be done against Hitler. He was a hero, worshipped in his own country and hailed as their saviour, crowds always listened to his great oratory, and praised the methods used for dealing with any transgression and before long anyone who opposed him had the same treatment as the Jews, torture, concentration camps and death by terrible cruelty.

Meanwhile the outside world turned a blind eye, we still had our troubles at home, the factories were not yet getting the orders for work, travel into Europe was not very inviting and in all it was difficult to carry on with our export trade. In the north there was tremendous hardship. I remember one of the hunger marches which came to London from Jarrow where their shipyards had closed, there was no money for shipbuilding, there were strikes in the coalmines, on the railways, in fact there always seemed to be a strike somewhere. However the people of Jarrow decided to bring their problems to the Government personally, so organised a march by the unemployed to the south. They reached St Albans, where I was living at the time, for their last stop before London. I shall never forget the humiliated appearance of men dirty, unshaven, haggard with hunger and weariness, with boots or what was left of them tied to their feet with string. It made one feel ashamed. They gathered in the square before going into the Town Hall where they were met by the Worthies of the Town, with the Bishop and priests and of course the Mayor and his councillors. Here they were rested, fed, and treated for their disablements, some were taken to the hospital, those who were able finished the final 20 miles to deliver their plea for help to the Government. Little was printed about this effort and I don’t know if anything definite became of it but certainly it showed what the state of our country was in. I think we were lucky to escape a “Hitler” of this country.

During this time things were going from bad to worse in Europe. Hitler now started his takeover of all the smaller states. No one could stand against his tanks which simply moved in to a country where no one could do anything about it and if you did you would either be shot on the spot or interrogated and tortured for names of anyone who might be suspect to the invasion, then killed or left to die. I remember coming home from Germany in 1937, while waiting in a train at the frontier town of Aacham the door of the carriage was thrown open by armed German police, passports were demanded, and only my husband and I and a couple of Germans were allowed to remain in the coach. We had British Passports, and presumably the papers of the other two passengers were in order, so we were allowed to cross the border but not before all papers, books, magazines and anything written was taken from us, and as the train slowly rolled out of the station we saw a large crowd of people carrying their belongings along the platform being chivvied and pushed by armed guards for further searching. It was very terrifying, never have I been so glad to see the White Cliffs of Dover. I have never stayed in Germany since.

One could well wonder what the church was doing during these dreadful times. Most of the countries affected were mainly strong Catholic adherents, and would confess their faith, but to do this would seal their fate whether priests, monks, nuns or just ordinary persons going about their usual life, the only way to stay alive was to “keep a low profile” as we call it and even this sometimes did not work. Churches were used as sanctuaries for the homeless, until found out and were then burnt to the ground. But all through this the people kept their faith, it was like a thread that joined them together.

Ruby Bullock

This series is taken from the St George’s News archives, and was first published in 1999.

To be continued.

The Aftermarth of the Twenties

Now the bubble that blew up in the twenties had burst and we came down to earth with a bump, anarchy was as near as it had ever been since the days of the Roundheads and Cavaliers. The country was “broke”, there were marches of some of the factions which had to be controlled by the army as the police were fully stretched, the worst of these were Fascists, called Blackshirts, led by Oswald Mosley, many of whom were Communists who took any opportunity to cause trouble and were very suspect. They were known as “Reds under the beds”. The church stood firm above all these ravings and continued to preach the gospel to a very confused nation. Strikes were frequent, prices were rising, people who had work wanted more money. Farmers grew crops they couldn't sell, the economy was stagnant, the banks could not work and sometimes had to close their doors on the crowds of angry people wanting to draw their money out, and looking back on it I often wonder how we got out of the mess we were in.