Parish Magazine Article - August 2018
From the Dean of Hereford
On 8 August, I’ll be in northern France, making a family pilgrimage to the cemetery at Vis-en-Artois, near Arras
The Vis-en-Artois Memorial commemorates 9,847 Allied officers and men who were killed in the period from 8th August 1918 to 11thNovember 1918. The battle period is known by the Allies as the “Advance to Victory”. This was a series of battles fought in Picardy and Artois during the last months of the war, when the Allied Forces successfully pushed the German Army eastwards as far as Mons over the Belgian border.
Among those names is that of Arthur George Herbert Tavinor, who was killed on 8 August 1918. Like all my family, pre- 1920s, he came from Chippenham He originally enlisted with the Devonshire regiment and then transferred to the 7thbattalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment. He was killed on Thursday 8 August, 1918, aged 19. Like so many in that campaign, he has no known grave but is remembered on the Vis en Artois memorial. In addition, his name is on the war memorialin Chippenham and on memorials in St Paul’s church and the Congregational churchin Chippenham. He was the only son of his parents,George and Emily Tavinor – my distant cousins - and his name also appears on his father’s gravestone in St Paul’s churchyard. By co-incidience, Vis-en-Artois is the place where Allan Leonard Lewis - Herefordshire’s only WW1 Victoria Cross holder – is commemorated. It will be a privilege for me to say a prayer for him too, when I visit the cemetery, at the place where he is remembered. Later, in September, Lewis will be commemorated with a statue in High Town and a plaque in the Lady Arbour of the cathedral. We rightly honour those whose courage shines out and who are remembered and celebrated by a whole community.
But at this time, when we recall the final gasps of the Great War, 100 years ago, let’s also spare thoughts and prayers for those who are all but forgotten by their communities – perhaps even like my own distant cousin. Let’s pray that individual acts of bravery and self-sacrifice which are so often unsung may continue to nurture and support communities. As I look round the cathedral congregation, I realise that there are so many there who, in unsung and quiet ways are Christ to their neighbours day by day – and this will be true in all our parishes. Yes, some have a special vocation to extraordinary acts of courage and self-giving –and rightly shine as lights in the firmament – but for most of us, we must rightly be content to simply act on Christ’s words:
‘In as much as ye did it to the least of my brothers and sisters, ye did it unto me’.