2015 seems to have been a bumper year for anniversaries. In June Her Majesty the Queen paid a visit to Germany, 70 years after the end of the Second World War. During the same month the nation celebrated the signing of Magna Carta – in Durham City a three month major exhibition was held to celebrate the event, attracting visitors from all over the world. Also in June the nation observed the bi-centenary of the Battle of Waterloo; and in August the 70th anniversary of VJ day, the end of the “forgotten” war in Asia. Later this month, on the 25 October there’s another English military victory in France to commemorate – it will be 600 years since the battle of Agincourt.
In the chapel community here in Crook we celebrated with a lunch party a very special anniversary – the 70th anniversary of the marriage of John and Elsie Elms who were married in the chapel seven decades ago on the 5th October 1945 – we send them both our love and all good wishes on their truly historic day.
Later in the month the city folk of Norfolk are preparing for another important anniversary. On October 12th the city together with the nation will remember the 100th year anniversary of the execution in Belgium of Edith Cavell, the English nurse who helped prisoners of war to freedom.
Edith Cavell, the daughter of a priest, trained as a nurse at the Royal London Hospital and in 1907 became the director of a nursing school in Belgium. When Germany was poised to invade Belgium, Edith returned to be with the nurses she had trained, and she insisted that their calling was to care for all, friend and foe alike. From November 1914 Edith assisted British and Allied troops to escape from enemy occupied territory into the neutral territory of Holland.
Edith was arrested for assisting Allied soldiers to escape. A chaplain celebrated Holy Communion the night before she was shot and killed by a German firing squad. She was hurriedly buried in a grave outside Brussels, but her body was later reburied at Norwich Cathedral, following a state funeral at Westminster Abbey in May 1919. Her example inspired many, and she soon became a popular heroine and a model of selfless service. There are memorials to her opposite the National Portrait Gallery in London, and at Norwich Cathedral.
As the world continues to remember the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, The Royal Mint chose to honour Nurse Edith Cavell on a new coin. It is one of a set of six £5 coins forming part of The Royal Mint’s five-year programme of commemoration of the First World War, telling the story of the emotive journey from outbreak to armistice.
Ray Anglesea Minister,
St Andrew’s Dawson Street, Crook