Donhead St Mary Bell-Ringers - October 2018 Report

Some of you may have read in the paper, seen on the telly or heard on the radio about the plans for the Nation's bells to ring out together to mark the Armistice Centenary on Sunday 11th November 2018. On that day, bells will ring out from churches and cathedrals in villages, towns and cities across the country, most at 12.30 but also in the afternoon and evening. Big Ben will also strike at 11am to mark the centenary.

During the First World War, 1,400 bell ringers lost their lives during the First World War. Church bells across the UK remained restricted throughout the course of the war and only rang freely once Armistice was declared on 11th November 1918. There were other reasons, as mentioned in the Guild reports. In 1915 the secretary wrote that “the ringing fraternity, always alert to interpret the proper sentiments of a Christian people, have rightly felt that in a time of such intense public anxiety the joyous tones of the bells should be little heard except on occasions of religious observance or national celebration. And a second reason redounds to the credit of ringers even in greater measure than the first. So readily has this great body of Church workers responded to the call of duty that the ranks of the Guild are considerably depleted by the absence of many of its most energetic members on the service of King and country”. In 1919 he reported that “in spite of the shortage of men, ringing on this momentous occasion (the Armistice in November 1918) was practically universal throughout the Diocese”.

Here in the Donheads we were fortunate in that all the ringers who fought in that war returned. The Guild Annual Report shows a change in tone as the war progressed. The Reports published in March 1915 and 1916 have a Roll of Honour, in which W Sansom & FJ Sansom from Donhead St Mary are included. These rolls were of those ringers who were serving in combat. No report was published in 1917 but that of 1918 had two Rolls: W Sansom, FJ Sansom and F Bridle are listed in the Roll of Service, whilst the Roll of Honour lists the names of those who had fallen.

Incidentally, it was FJ Sansom (Jack) who taught me to ring.

Christopher Sykes