4th June 1944
On this date the Headquarters staff of the Second Army, which was to represent British Arms in the liberation of Europe, met at Christ Church on the eve of battle “to dedicate to Almighty God the task which lay before them”. The service was organised by the vicar, the Reverend RBS Gillman, and General Sir Miles Dempsey, Commander of the British Second Army.
6th June 1948
On this date they returned to give thanks to God and to rededicate themselves to His service by helping to heal the wounds of war and to strive to create a world in which war should cease. To mark their consciousness of God’s help, without which they could not have prevailed, they presented two windows to the church to commemorate their Vigil and these were unveiled by their Commander, the late General Sir Miles Dempsey, G.B.E., K.C.B., D.S.O., M.C..
In dedicating the windows, the Lord Bishop of Portsmouth, Dr Anderson, prayed that all who worshipped in Christ Church, remembering the Vigil of the Second Army, its task completed and its duty done, should likewise dedicate themselves to the service of God.
Our D-Day Windows
The windows were designed by the late Mr Reginald Bell. The left window shows St Michael carrying the shield of St George, who himself appears in the other light, bearing a white shield charged with a blue cross having a sword set upon it (this is the shield of the 2nd Army). Under the figure of St Michael is a panel depicting soldiers disembarking from an infantry landing craft on the Normandy beach. The panel in the other window shows a tank advancing over open country a little way inland (shown below). The figures of St Michael and St George are used as being symbolical of soldiers.
More photographs of these windows and others as well are featured on Hampshire Church Windows.
To Second Army there was given a glorious part in a great task: To relieve the oppressed, to restore freedom to Europe and to bring peace to the world. That Army splendidly achieved its purpose and continued steadfastly until victory was won.
But men are still oppressed by want nor are they yet free from fears; for suspicions still divide the nations and the kingdoms of the world are not yet the Kingdom of God and of his Christ.
As we remember to-day God’s help given you on the threshold of the greatest adventure in your history, let us now offer Him again all our powers of body, mind and spirit that He may use us until he crown our endeavour.
To this end, will you undertake the heavy responsibility that this further task places on each one of you and with God’s help carry it through, giving of your best until His Victory is won and Peace is assured?
I will, the Lord being my helper.
1st or 2nd Sunday of June each year
It was the wish of Sir Miles that the practice of meeting each year at Christ Church for thanksgiving and rededication should continue. Every year, on the Sunday nearest to the 6th June a special D-Day Parade Service is held.