Friday, 12 June 2015

A Year in Pictures – 11 June 2015 – We Will Remember Them

As you will know from my post for 26 and 27 May, the Lancastria Window in St Katharine Cree Church has recently been completed by the installation of bottom panels in place of plain glass. The remains of the commandeered troopship the HMT Lancastria lie beneath the waves off St Nazaire in Brittany. British troops and French and Belgian civilian refugees fleeing the German invasion of France in 1940 perished when the vessel was sunk.

Today the new window panels were dedicated at the annual Lancastria Memorial Service. We also gave thanks for the gift of a model of the ship, made by the son of a survivor, which has been placed beneath the window, where it is bathed in the richly coloured light that now floods into the church. The deep blues and reds in the new sections of the window come from glassworks in the Loire region of France, which has a tradition of stained glass manufacture going back to the 12th century.

The service closes with the singing of both the Marseillaise and the National Anthem. At the previous week's Thursday Eucharist, our worship was enriched by the singing of a visiting Roman Catholic choir from Cologne, and there was an opportunity on that occasion not only to acknowledge the pain of the past but also to affirm the restored bonds of friendship and reconciliation that exist between the United Kingdom and Germany.

The new panels feature a sea lion holding in its claws a roundel showing the date of the Lancastria's sinking, news of which was hidden from the British people so as not to depress morale within weeks of Dunkirk.

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