Rector’s Letter

Rector’s Letter

On 6th June we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings – the invasion of Nazi-occupied France that ultimately changed the course of the Second World War. This sombre occasion serves as a reminder of the brave sacrifices made by Allied forces in their pursuit of freedom and the ultimate defeat of Nazi tyranny. The focus of the early operation centred on five beaches in Normandy with more than 150,000 troops crossing the Channel by sea and air. These courageous soldiers stormed heavily fortified beaches to enable the liberation of Europe. The invasion, although successful, came at a huge cost with thousands of lives lost on both sides of the conflict; it is believed that over 425,000 people died in the ensuing Battle of Normandy that would follow.

The anniversary of D-Day has always had prominence for my family – my maternal grandfather was part of the invasion force and was killed in the early days of the battle. My grandmother would tell of her heartache when she received a telegram to say her husband had been killed in Jessel Wood near Caen, a day after his 27th birthday. She relayed how difficult it had been to receive his personal effects consisting of water-soaked letter-writing paper and his pullover with bullet holes in the back. She told me how she
had been completely dependent on support from wider family to bring up her daughter (my mother) when her income all but stopped after he had been killed in the war. My grandparent’s story is just one very small example of the huge impact of the second world war on a generation. A generation who sacrificed so much in the fight against fascism in Europe. As we honour the memory and reflect upon the countless sacrifices made on this 80th anniversary, I feel it is important to recognize that war, extremism and oppression continue in our own day.

As we pay tribute to the fallen heroes of D-Day and the battles that ensued, let us remember that their legacy extends beyond the history books. It lives on through our commitment to defend the values that they fought for, ensuring that their sacrifices were not made in vain. As we look around in our world, 80 years on from D-Day, we must have courage to challenge those who wage war, who oppress the weak and take extremist approaches. We might do that drawing inspiration from the courage and resilience of those who came before us. Through collective remembrance and a renewed dedication to the principles of freedom, truth and justice, we can seek to build a more peaceful, just, and equitable world for generations to come.

Lord of the nations,
we honour the bravery and sacrifice of those who served.
Grant us courage to recognise and restrain evil in our own day,
And may those who lead the nations of the world
work together to defend human liberty,
that we may live peaceably with one another.
This we ask in the name of the Prince of Peace,
our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

With my prayers and very best wishes.