Out of Darkness - 75th
Anniversary of the dreadful "May Blitz"
Report by L Trollope and photos by
ICONIC St Luke's Church, on Leece St in
Liverpool, was the venue for a very special event:- "Out of Darkness"
which, over 3 evenings, 6 May to 8 May 2016, commemorating the 75th Anniversary
of the dreadful:- "May Blitz" raids on Liverpool which saw the
City the target of intense bombing over 6 horrifying nights. The importance of
the port of Liverpool was well recognised by the Nazis, who sort to annihilate
it. St Luke's Church itself fell victim to an incendiary bomb on the 6th night.
A witness was recorded as saying:- "the bell fell at 10 to 4 in the
morning" and the Church was soon in ruins. However, its ruins survive,
not just as a testimony to that night, but also as a symbol of hope and solace;
it has developed its own role as a focal point within the City.
Many people turned out to witness the Out of the Darkness event, during which
scenes depicting wartime events, from the Chamberlain declaration that we were
at war with Germany, to school children being evacuated, scenes of aftermath
devastation, and ultimately the relief and jubilation of VE day, were projected
onto three large screens overlooking Hardman Street. Wave upon wave of bombers
swooped across the screens whilst searchlights panned the sky above the Church
and the blood curdling wail of the sirens sounded out. Actors from the Unity
Theatre played out scenes depicting the lives of ordinary citizens who stoically
carried on their daily tasks despite facing the loss of family, friends and
workmates, water shortages and severe disruption. Many people led double lives
,daily doing their essential jobs and at night fighting fires as auxiliary
firemen or as air raid wardens and other perilous occupations.
Throughout was played a commentary of eye witness accounts and statements, often
very poignant, like the recollection of a lady evacuated, alongside many others
to places considered less vulnerable: she to Betys-y Coed in North Wales, where
she overheard older children saying the bombers passing by were going to bomb
Liverpool - She wondered if her parents were still alive. It is easy to miss the
significance of these fears in the light of all the carnage, but it highlights
o1 of many less obvious traumas experienced in those days, and in all conflict
The commemoration of the fall of St Luke's was very evocative. Initially the 3
windows were:- 'taped across', in the manner of ordinary houses; a
precaution attempting to reduce the hazards of flying glass if the windows were
broken; but clever lighting effects gave the impression of splintering glass
exploding out, whilst inside a red glow increased, flames appeared and smoke
billowed out simulating the demise of the building.
In the grounds of the Church was a replica bombed house, a 3rd the size of
normal, illustrating the fragility of such dwellings. Patterned all around were
2,000 stained glass lanterns, in remembrance of all those lost lives. The
lanterns had been produced by the children of Merseyside, thus involving them in
the history of their region.
Out of the Darkness, shown for around 10 minutes, 6 times a night, was seemingly
a fairly low key production but it clearly presented many aspects of that awful
week without over dramatisation. It highlighted the bravery and stoicism of the
City and its folk without undue melodrama, and it also led on to the future and
the role of St Luke's, not only as an important historical symbol, but also one
with a modern role to play.
This production was witnessed, not only by local people, but also by many from
far flung parts of the globe. 1 security officer commented that she recalled
speaking to people from as far as New Zealand and China and also from France,
Finland and Canada. Our City's bravery in adversity was well noted.
Liverpool and Bootle, along with Litherland and surrounding areas, became the
worst hit City outside London and, mile for mile, took a pounding on a par with
or even worse that the capital. It is often forgotten just how vital a role
Liverpool played during the war years, especially as the control centre for the
North Atlantic scene. However, let us hope that those who are too young to
remember those events will reflect on what they have seen and heard and be
reminded of the sacrifices and futility of war and that peace will be that much
more to the fore of our minds.
Congratulations on this informative and thought provoking Commemoration., to
Liverpool City Council, Historic England and all the people involved in creating
and producing this event. A worthy remembrance.
To see our photograpic coverage of this event, please click on
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