The church bells of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury will ring out at the same time the bells are chiming at St. Paul's Cathedral in London on December 29 in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the largest German air raid of World War II. The corresponding time for the St. Mary bell ringing is 12:15 p.m. that day.
"We are pleased to participate in this commemoration," says Dr. Rob Havers, Executive Director of the National Churchill Museum, which is housed in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. "The courage of the British nation in the face of such horrendous attacks at such a critical time in the war probably made the difference in the final outcome. We want to show that this anniversary is important not just to England but across the world."
On the night of December 28/29, 1940, a massed attack by the German Air Force on the City of London created a "firestorm" which destroyed the Guildhall and eight churches built by Christopher Wren, including St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. The destruction covered most of the ancient Square Mile but fortunately, being a Sunday evening, the death toll was relatively light. 160 people lost their lives and over 500 people were injured.
Following the Blitz, St. Mary's stood in ruin until its remaining structure was brought to Fulton, Missouri, and restored stone by stone on the Westminster College campus as a memorial to Sir Winston Churchill in 1969.
Now, exactly 70 years later, a group of London firemen called Firemen Remembered will commemorate the occasion in memory of those who lost their lives that night by driving a convoy of wartime fire appliances from the period through the same London streets which suffered the major damage and reenacting the events of that evening. The firemen will be dressed in the uniforms of those worn 70 years ago.
The British Broadcasting Corporation will film the day's events.
Questions can be director to Dr. Rob Havers at 573.592.5233.