April 2018



Dear Friends,

In last month’s letter I reminded you that the Royal Air Force celebrates its 100th Birthday on Easter Sunday. To continue the connection, I want to mention “Padre Pugh”.

Reverend Herbert Cecil Pugh was a Congregational church minister who served as a chaplain in the RAF during the Second World War.

In July 1941, he was aboard SS Anselm, a cargo and passenger liner that had been requisitioned and converted into a troopship, when it was torpedoed in the Atlantic. It sank in just 22 minutes.

Although able to escape into a lifeboat, Padre Pugh insisted on being lowered down to give spiritual aid to men trapped below decks. He died along side 253 other souls, and was posthumously awarded the George Cross for bravery.

Some of those who witnessed first hand what happened to him, remarked how it was a silly thing for him to remain on a sinking ship when he was able to escape, while many others spoke of his bravery and self-sacrifice.

One Royal Marine, who witnessed the event, said that as Padre Pugh was being lowered down he told those around him, “My love of God is greater than my fear of death.”

At Easter, Christians celebrate the fact that God not only came to live as one of us, but was prepared to died a fool’s death on a cross.

By conquering death, Jesus freed us from the power of death and restored us to everlasting life.

May God give us courage to give up our fear of death and to rejoice with those who have died in faith.

A Blessed Easter to you all.

Father Richard