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World War Two
The memorial at St Barnabas
The memorial at Mentmore gardens
The Second World War affected the lives of ordinary churchgoers in many ways. Perhaps the thing people noticed first was that the churches fell silent as it was forbidden for their bells to be rung. They were only to be rung to warn of an invasion that thankfully did not come. Finally at the end of the war in 1945 they were rung on VE (Victory in Europe) Day and VJ (Victory over Japan) Day.

The churches were open every day for prayers but the atmosphere of the services changed. Special prayers would be said for local men in the armed forces or for the victims of air raids. Also prayers of thanks were said for certain events during the war such as the rescue of the soldiers at Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain. Hymns such as 'O God Our Help In Ages Past' and 'Abide With Me' were popular.

The congregations changed too. Many men (and women) were serving elsewhere in Britain or overseas. Their places were taken by evacuees. These were children who had previously lived in areas such as London that were at risk from the bombing. The evacuees arrived at the railway station and then were sent to live with families in the town. Many evacuees attended services at the local churches.

The timing of services had to be altered. During the Blitz of 1940 the churches, like all buildings, had to comply with the 'Blackout' regulations. No lights were to be visible from any building so that the German bomber crews could not spot their targets from the air. To prevent lights showing the churches whitewashed their windows. Evensong was often held before sunset in order to make use of all available daylight.

Linslade did not suffer any major bomb damage during the Blitz but its citizens were still witness to enemy attacks. In November 1940 the city of Coventry was bombed. An evacuee to Linslade and a St. Barnabas choir member, Clifford V. Gould, remembers this night as a 'painful memory ... when it seemed that Linslade was on the direct enemy bomber route'. Mr. Gould was standing in the back of garden of 54 Springfield Road and he 'saw the night sky lit up to the north' and heard 'the constant drone of the German bombers overhead'.

Another sad memory of Mr. Gould's is that of his friend Ken Sayell who was 'killed just after D-Day when serving in a tank and his body never found'. Ken Sayell, who was Trooper 14288625 of 'B' Squadron, 5th Royal Tank Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps, was killed in action on 19th July 1944 aged 20 years. He is commemorated both on the Bayeux Memorial in Normandy, France and the Linslade War Memorial. You can hear Mr Gould's accounts in the wartime section of our sounds page.

The memorials in St. Barnabas' church and the war memorial in Mentmore Road (shown above) include the names of all the other servicemen who died in the Second World War. As well as this, in the grounds of St. Mary's church there are a number of distinctive Commonwealth War Grave headstones. Like all such graves throughout the world these are well tended and serve as a special reminder.
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