THOSE who served and fell from the city during the Great War have been honoured at St John the Baptist.
Coventry’s medieval gem opened its doors and welcomed more than 250 visitors to commemorate the centenary of the First World War during two days of special events at the Grade I listed church on the corner of Spon Street.
A special Open Day last month invited people to view the War Memorial Window and learn if their ancestors were among the 98 local men commemorated in stained glass.
There was also a book of remembrance, a display featuring a peace candle with a dove holding a winding chain of poppies with the names of all the local fallen heroes, a Royal British Legion stall, organ recitals, prayers, performances of war poetry, and readings from memoirs from both the Allied Forces and German perspective.
The theme of remembrance continued during the Sunday morning Mass including a special service to rededicate the St John’s War Memorial Window and a Commitment to Peace by the congregation, who made the pledge – ‘to live as good neighbours, to honour the past, to care for all who are in need, and to live at peace among ourselves and with all people’.
Recitals of war poetry were later followed by afternoon tea at its ‘Big Summer Do’ – an event organised by The Children’s Society – before the weekend was rounded off with a special ‘Songs of Praise’, featuring a service of favourite hymns chosen by people in the parish plus some wartime memories.
St John’s Church Warden, Ann Tuesley said: “We’re delighted to have welcomed so many people to commemorate heroes from our past and to support the children that will make our future.
“Many visitors came to see St John’s Memorial Window, which depicts the four patron saints of Great Britain and Ireland and the names of 98 local men who gave their lives for their country during the Great War, many of whom served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.
“We heard lots of stories from people whose ancestors were commemorated on the Memorial Window and we hope to collect as many memories from people as we can about these men and other people featured in the parish archives, so we can really start to build on our social history of St John’s.
“We also heard memoirs from people serving and surviving on both sides of the conflict – a fitting tribute to mark the 100 years that have passed since Great Britain and Germany became mortal enemies, arriving at a point where we are once more allied as part of a modern European partnership.
“We will never forget the horrors endured and the sacrifices made by our brave war heroes, but we must promote peace and reconciliation so they did not die in vain.”
St John the Baptist Church member Arthur Lines – who served in the RAF during the Second World War, and who is related to some of the soldiers commemorated on the Memorial Window – reflects by the Peace Display featuring 98 poppies attached to the names of each of the parish’s fallen heroes. (s)