ST RICHARD’S CHURCH: Sunday, no service at St Richard’s, 10.30am Heathfield Benefice service at St George’s Broad Oak. Tuesday, 1.30pm St Richard’s Art and Craft Group in the church hall. Wednesday, 10am Holy Communion. Friday May 5, 8pm Churches Together in Heathfield and District 24hr prayer vigil commences, finishes 8pm Saturday May 6.
ALL SAINTS CHURCH: Old Heathfield. Sunday, 8am Holy Communion (BCP), no 11am St George’s Broad Oak. 10.30am Benefice of Heathfield United Service Holy Communion. http://allsaintsoldheathfield.org
HISTORY SOCIETY: This month the members listened to a thrilling talk by Gilly Halcrow on the Special Operations Executive. The SOE was the brainchild of Winston Churchill. It was led by Hugh Dalton, run by a gallery of exotic figures among them Maurice Buckmaster and Vera Atkins and supported in London by the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, the FANYS. Every single one of them sworn to secrecy because lives depended on it.
The SOE consisted of highly trained secret agents whose job was to support the resistance groups in occupied Europe. They worked in France, Greece and Eastern Europe and it is thanks to them that the factory in Vemork in Norway was prevented from producing the heavy water that would have enabled the Germans to develop a nuclear bomb. When questioned about the morality of their work Churchill replied ‘Hitler doesn’t play cricket’. Some of the agents have since become household names such as Odette, Violette Szabo and Forest Yeo Thomas (white rabbit). Ian Flemming, himself an agent, is said to have modelled his James Bond books on their exploits. Was Buckmaster the first M and Atkins Miss Moneypenny? There was certainly a secret department set up in the basement of the Natural History Museum to create ingenious devices such as exploding rats and exploding suitcases. Many of the agents did not survive the war. They knew that if they were captured they faced torture and death along with all those who helped them. And yet these brave men and women never faltered and it is estimated that thanks to them the Second World War was shortened by six months.
The subject of next month’s meeting is much closer to home. It is entitled Rock-a-Nore Hastings Fishing Community. It sounds intriguing. We meet on Thursday May 18 in the Community Centre at 7.30pm. Visitors are welcome to join us.
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