Moderator says faith helped sustain many survivors of Clydebank Blitz

Evacuees In Whitecrook Street Clydebank after the 1941 bombing raids. Image courtesy of West Dunbartonshire Libraries and Cultural Services.

Many brave survivors of the Clydebank Blitz were likely sustained by their faith, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has said.

The Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison made the remark at a special service to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Second World War air attacks at the Palace of Westminster in London today.

Scores of people packed into the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft to remember the victims of the Blitz which happened on March 13-14, 1941.

Clydebank suffered the most concentrated bomb damage of any part of Britain during the Second World War after the Luftwaffe attacked military targets including the John Brown shipyard and the Singer sewing machine factory.

A total of 528 civilians were killed, more than 617 were severely injured and around 12,000 homes were damaged, leaving about 50,000 people homeless.

Dr Morrison said: "It is a privilege to be a part of the first ever service at the Palace of Westminster to commemorate the Clydebank Blitz.

"The suffering, resilience and courage of the people of Clydebank have not always been adequately acknowledged and it is appropriate and right that we do so here today and in this capital city of our nation which itself endured the experience of destruction from the skies.

"It is a tragedy still being relived to this day in the lives of hundreds of survivors both in Scotland and scattered around the world who remain haunted by what they had to pass through in 1941."

Angus Morrison The Right Rev Dr Angus Morrison.

Dr Morrison, who was invited to preach by West Dunbartonshire MP Martin Docherty-Hughes who secured permission to host a service and reception at Westminster and will take part in a debate later, said the suffering and the destruction unleashed on the town was "unspeakable".

"It is high time, I suggest, for a suffering humanity to embrace another narrative altogether – that to which James refers and which is embedded in the person, work and teaching of Jesus himself," added the Moderator.

"It is a narrative of love and of hope in a world of violence and despair.

"The true story of the world is a love story – God's love story in the outworking of which every wall of hostility is broken down as he makes peace through the blood of the cross.

"Nazism had all the hallmarks of a religion.

"It is wise, as Archbishop Justin (Welby) has recently pointed out, to remember that 'the idea that you can separate secular life from religious life like separating … potatoes from peas on your plate, is just cloud cuckoo land. It's not how human beings work.'

"It was their faith in the revealed narrative of divine love and their trust in the One who is at its centre that helped sustain many of the brave survivors of the Clydebank Blitz."

Dr Morrison said faith provided solid hope in a despairing world.

He added: "Our truest calling is to embrace by faith the Prince of Peace and so to devote ourselves by his grace and where he has placed us to the urgent task of peace-making in a divided world, serving God and neighbour, labouring by all means to make friends of enemies, as we walk the wise way of Jesus, 'the pioneer and perfecter of our faith' (Hebrews 12:2).

"I can think of no better way of honouring the memory of those who, in the Clydebank Blitz, suffered so greatly from the evil which Jesus came to this world to destroy."

The full text of the Moderator's sermon.