By J. Brock (SARTMA)
The RAF Contingent on Ascension Island remembered those few who won them their freedom.
A service to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the Battle of Britain was held at St. Mary’s Church in Georgetown, Ascension at 1700 hours on Sunday, 21 September 2003. The Chaplain and Rector of St. Mary’s, Rev. Clive Duncan, welcomed everyone to the service. After the welcome, a full congregation, including the Airforce Station Commander, the Administrator, a large contingent of military personnel, their families and civilians sang the first hymn, "Praise My Soul The King of Heaven."
During the singing of the hymn, Sgt. Chris Webster, the Standard Bearer, presented the Royal Airforce Ensign to Rev. Clive Duncan and it was laid up on the altar. The brief and dignified service began with a prayer of thanksgiving for the men and women of the Royal Airforce as well as those in the Battle of Britain who "won for our nation and for all mankind, freedom from tyranny" and who laid down their lives. He then read the collect and lead the congregation in the confession. The first reading, Isaiah 40:25-31 was done by Corporal Rob Simon This was followed by the hymn, "Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer." SAC Damian Ward read the second lesson, Revelation 21:1-7.
Prayers for H. M. the Queen, the Royal Airforce, for The Peace of the World, and for Those Who Suffered were followed by the Lord’s Prayer and the hymn, "O Ruler of the Earth and Sky."
During his sermon, Rev. Clive Duncan said that there were two phases to the Battle of Britain. One was the Military side and the other was the Spiritual phase. He went on to say that the Germans initiated the Battle of Britain in order to clean the RAF out of the air. However, they lost the battle not only because of the RAF’s defence of the skies over London but also because they could not break down the courage and resolve of the civilian population. It took Christian courage in both phases to face the battle and to win.
An Act of Remembrance followed the sermon, when all of those who had given their lives in the Service of justice, peace and freedom were remembered during a minute’s silence, which began by a lone bugler playing the "Last Post" and concluding when he played the "Reveille." The Commitment, when all pledged themselves to serve God and mankind in the cause of peace took place after Reveille was sounded.
Before the Blessing, the hymn, "Now Thank We All Our God," was sung; and during the hymn, the Standard Bearer received back the Royal Airforce Ensign. Then, the service ended with the singing of the National Anthem.