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A True Act of Kindness – Commemorative flags replaced at St Nicholas Church

Flagmakers recently supplied one of two new flags, now displayed at St Nicholas’ church in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk to honour two sailors; one American and one British. Sadly, they died together in 1942 disarming a German mine which had washed ashore on the beach near the town. The flags replaced two rather tired looking flags which had previously hung in the church. The flags are the ‘Union Jack’ and the ‘Stars and Stripes’.

St Nicholas was unfortunately in the path of the Luftwaffe’s bombers during WW2 as they headed home across the North Sea, dropping the last of their loads on this ill-fated part of the country and so unexploded bombs are not uncommon in this area. The mine was probably laid by the German Navy early in the war.

In the church itself, a small memorial plaque honours Lieutenant Commander Roy Berryman Edwards (of the Royal Navy) and Ensign John Martin Howard (of the US Navy), itself decorated with two smaller flags, each with a gold trim and one for each of the seaman’s nations. Both had been trained in mine disposal and both were killed ‘on a hazardous duty’ and in their valiant attempts to disarm the mine on the Yarmouth beach on 11 June 1942.

Our customer, Peter Glasgow, to whom we supplied the UK flag and who took overall responsibility for the replacement of both flags was visiting churches in England with a tour group from The USA, known as the Towne Family Association (TFA). Peter’s wife Patti can trace her family back to some of the early settlers in America whose family name was Towne, hence the name now given to the group. Together, they had spent a day at the church during this tour, attending a service, enjoying a quintessential cup of tea and being shown around the church by the informative Minister, Paul Davies.

The TFA group with whom he and his wife was touring and which included US Veterans had noticed the poor condition the original flags were in and so Peter, feeling a sense of duty, took it upon himself to put this right. On his return home Peter and Patti had a US flag made and sent over to England. He then contacted Flagmakers to make the Union flag in the same 2-yard size and a pair of indoor flagpoles in which the two new flags have been placed. All were then sent on to St Nicholas Church. It is important to note here that St Nicholas is historically important to the Towne family and the TFA members have funded conservation and restoration of the first parish register.

Peter and Patti Glasgow, along with their fellow group members, were both honoured to have been able to help the church with this kind gesture but perhaps more importantly were privileged to honour the lives of the two men who sacrificed their lives early in the war to ensure that others may be safe. Flagmakers are also proud to have been involved with this exceptional act of kindness and thank both Peter and Patti for having chosen us to supply the Union flag.

 

 

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Written by...

John Nickson

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