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St Paul’s And Holy Cross

1st of November 2013

As we approach the season of Advent we first have our annual time of Remembrance.
Always at this time of year I think of my father who served in the second world war. He and his friends decided, as practising Christians, that they would register as pacifists and conscientious objectors but this didn’t mean that he did not serve his country; in fact, quite the opposite. Dad and his friends joined the Militia, now known as the Territorial Army, and, as such, were able to decide to join the Royal Army Medical Corps. Dad served in several campaigns and I am proud to have his many medals in my possession.

Dad seldom talked about his experiences of war and now, as a trained psychotherapist, I work with families and children who have been deeply traumatised by events that have taken place in their lives and understand why many wish to forget. However, one unique occasion Dad told the story to myself and my brothers of him and his friends being abandoned at Dunkirk but somehow getting themselves to Brittany and eventually to Spain. They then hijacked a fishing boat and sailed to Portsmouth.

Many of Dad’s colleagues were killed in North Africa and it was his time there that shaped the rest of his life. Linked to the First Army, he looked after many of his contemporaries who were shattered and broken by their experiences. Amongst all of this he met a missionary lady who asked him what he was going to do after the war. His response was, “I am just trying to survive”. The little lady replied that she would be writing to the Principal of a college, now known as All Nations Christian College, and that he was to present himself there after the war. This in fact is what he did, returning to North Africa, with my mother, as missionaries in 1949.

Sadly, there are currently many ongoing wars and conflicts and millions still suffer the trauma of such events.

In the midst of danger, periel and crisis we should endeavour to find space, not only to remember those who served their country, but also to take the the opportunity to listen and to serve God.
Philip Waine, Reader

 
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