By Tony Henthorn

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Bainton's VE Day 70th anniversary celebrations

Villagers from Bainton met in the church at the weekend following the 70th anniversary of VE Day on 8th May 1945 for an enjoyable get-together.  Friends and neighbours were able to chat and enjoy a drink, view archive film from the WW2  period and sing along with some WW2 songs.

Highlight of the morning, when Bainton Church bells were rung at 11am in conjunction with bells across the nation, was a talk by Churchwarden, John Wreford.  His talk began with a list of the ‘milestones’ of the war from the invasion of Poland by Germany and the declaration of war by Neville Chamberlain on 3rd September, 1939, to the German surrender on 8th May 1945.  France fell in May 1940, the ‘miracle’ of the evacuation of Dunkirk following at the end of that month. The Battle of Britain was fought from July to September in that year and later the Blitz raged for 57 consecutive nights until May 1941. July 1942 saw the first big victory at El Alamein.

John said: “Bells ringing out across the meadows of our beautiful countryside are a reminder of what a wonderful thing VE Day was, because during the previous six years the World had been subjected to the terrors, horrors and evil of a war that had claimed the lives of at least 61 million people. 61 million people are difficult to imagine, but one way of visualising it would be to think of a capacity crowd filling Wembley Stadium or Twickenham every week for 15years. That way you will get some idea of the massive tragedy that beset the world.”

He went on to tell what seemed to be a bit of a joke against himself that when he was at school, a regular punishment was to write out lines, copying printed extracts from Winston Churchill’s speeches. “Being a frequent offender,” he went on, “I got to know these speeches pretty well! The upside was that Churchill’s words helped me to understand what an inspiration they must have been to people in times of the greatest threat and to show his great leadership”

What followed was a very moving and emotional experience as we listened to John read some of Churchill’s words, which, he says, still inspire him today. “The whole fury and might of the enemy must soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war.  If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.

The gratitude of every home in our island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unweakened by their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of world war by their prowess and devotion.

There has never been, I suppose, in all the world, in the history of war, such an opportunity for youth.   The Knights of the Round Table, the Crusaders, all fall back into the past – not only distant, but prosaic;  these young men, going forth every morn to guard their native land and all that we stand for, holding in their hands these instruments of colossal and shattering power, of whom it may be said that: ‘Every morn brought forth a noble chance

And every chance brought forth a noble knight.’

They deserve our gratitude, as do all the brave men, who, in so many ways and on so many occasions, are ready and continue ready to give life and all for their native land.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say ‘This was their finest hour’.

There were various displays in church, including some reminiscences from the late Martin Jackson, a well-known member of the Helpston district farming community. Mr Jackson recalled delivering milk and eggs to Helpston and having to deal with ration books. Wartime rations for one adult were as follows: 8oz sugar, 4oz ham or bacon, 2oz butter, 1 egg, 2oz tea, 8oz cheese, 1lb jam to last two months. Of course Spam was a staple too and some people still love it!

The event was organised by John, together with Malcom Morrice and Ian Abbott-Donnelly who was responsible for the films. Bellringers were Philip Richards, Chris Harrison and Nigel Clough from Bainton.  Elizabeth Snowball provided the music and refreshments were served by Hilary Smith (Ashton) and Jane Mason (Bainton). 

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