Tag Archives: 4 Canon Lane – Formerly George Bell House

OCTOBER 6 2020 – THE PUBLIC EXCORIATION OF AN ARCHBISHOP ENTANGLED IN A VERY ENGLISH WEB OF CORRUPTION AND DECEIT LYING DEEP WITHIN THE ANGLICAN CHURCH

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

THE IICSA REPORT – OCTOBER 6 2020 – A VERY PUBLIC EXCORIATION OF AN ARCHBISHOP ENTANGLED IN A VERY ENGLISH WEB OF CORRUPTION AND DECEIT LYING DEEP WITHIN THE ANGLICAN CHURCH

LETTER SUBMISSION ON THE EVE OF INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE [IICSA] REPORT – OCTOBER 6 2020

Dear Editor


Following the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse [IICSA] investigations, we call upon Justin Welby to consider his position as Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York said on October 2:

“As we await IICSA’s report…we continue to pray for survivors and all those the Church has failed”

Archbishop Welby has failed the wartime Bishop of Chichester George Bell [whose 62nd Anniversary fell on October 3], and will continue to do so until there is a full exoneration by the Archbishop, calling on him to withdraw his “significant cloud…great wickedness” remarks, and for 4 Canon Lane in Chichester to be renamed back to George Bell House.
Justin Welby still appears to believe there is ‘no smoke without fire’, even though the IICSA and two separate investigations by Lord Carlile QC and Timothy Briden – both commissioned by the Church – have shown there is ‘no smoke and no fire’.
The Archbishop has been given every opportunity to right this wrong against Bishop Bell, but still refuses to use his power to heal the very serious divisions caused by this miscarriage of justice.
Our endeavour is to right this wrong.

Yours sincerely

ATKINS, Revd. Forrest William

BOYS, Geoffrey

CHARMLEY, Professor John

DONALD, Revd. Steve

GOMES, Dr. Jules

INESON, Revd. Matthew

MARTIN, Terry

MORGAN, Dr. Gerald

MULLEN, Revd. Dr. Peter

OSBORNE, Noel

RAVEN, Revd. Canon Charles

ROBINSON, Dr. Steven

SIMS, Kevin

SYMONDS, Richard W.

SYKES, Bishop Nicholas

VIRTUE, David W. DD

WATKINS, Lindsay

For further information regarding this letter and its signatories, please contact:

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

2 Lychgate Cottages

Ifield Street, Ifield Village

Crawley – Gatwick

West Sussex RH11 0NN

Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only please]

Email: richardsy5@aol.com

George Bell, Bishop of Chichester

IICSA KEY FINDINGS

  1. The Anglican Church Investigation Report
  2. Part B: The Church of England
  3. B.4: Civil claims and redress in the Church of England
  4. B.4.5: Allegations against deceased individuals

B.4.5: Allegations against deceased individuals

29. The Church does not keep records about the number of allegations made against deceased individuals.[1]

30. If a claim relates to an individual for whom there would have been a valid insurance policy were they alive, it is dealt with by the EIO and the principles and procedures set out above would apply. If the claim relates to a deceased bishop – such as Victor Whitsey, Peter Ball or George Bell – it is managed by the Church Commissioners, whose role is to ensure proper investigation before taking decisions about settlement.[2]

31. The Church Commissioners (who are responsible for payment of compensation in claims which are not insured) are considering introducing mediation as part of their process for redress.[3]

The first George Bell case and the Carlile review

32. A complainant known as Carol alleged in 1995 and again in 2013 that she was abused by the late George Bell, former Bishop of Chichester. When Carol sued the Church for damages in 2014, a core group was convened. The Church settled Carol’s claim, apologised and issued a public statement.

33. Lord Carlile of Berriew was instructed by the Church to consider its response to the allegations. In his report (dated December 2017), he was critical of the Church’s actions, particularly in making a public statement about the allegations and the settlement reached. In the Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report, the Inquiry expressed concern about a number of Lord Carlile’s conclusions. These included that:

  • a confidentiality clause should have been included in the settlement;
  • considerable weight” should have been given to the “high esteem” in which George Bell was held; and
  • the core group was criticised for relying on the evidence of “a single complainant”.[4]

34. Lord Carlile’s recommendations only apply to a small minority of claims, those that are uninsured or where no claim is issued.[5] There may also be claims where there was no insurance policy in place.

35. In Mr Bonehill’s view, the process suggested by Lord Carlile was not consistent with the approach that an insurer would take in insured cases, and that it was “something that certainly we would not be able to support”.[6]

35.1. Lord Carlile recommended the assistance of advice from a lawyer with practical knowledge of criminal law and procedure. Although civil claims are judged on the balance of probabilities, Lord Carlile stated that “the examination of a case of this kind against the criminal standard is a useful and instructive exercise”.[7] Mr Bonehill said that this would not be considered relevant to an insured claim because the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities.[8]

35.2. Lord Carlile stated that the core group was wrong to dismiss the defence of limitation.[9] Mr Bonehill did not agree and repeated the EIO’s position that limitation should be used very sparingly.[10]

35.3. Lord Carlile considered that where a claim was settled without admission of liability the settlement should generally include a confidentiality provision. The EIO does not and never has insisted on confidentiality provisions unless they are sought by the complainant, but there is no distinction between claims settled with liability and without.[11] In Mr Bonehill’s view:

serious consideration would need to be given to enforcing such a clause. In reality, it is difficult to imagine a situation where it would be considered ethically proper for an organisation to seek to claw back a damages and costs payment from an individual who, potentially, has been a victim/survivor of abuse”.[12]

The second George Bell case

36. Following the publication of Lord Carlile’s report, a further allegation of abuse by Bishop George Bell was made by an individual known as Alison. This second George Bell case is the most recent example of how the Church of England manages an uninsured allegation against a deceased individual.

37. The National Safeguarding Team convened a core group to oversee and manage the response to the allegation, to comply with Lord Carlile’s recommendations.[13]

38. A former detective superintendent, Raymond Galloway, was appointed to undertake an investigation. His investigation was thorough and included as many witnesses as possible.[14] An independent consultant was also appointed to represent the interests of Bishop Bell’s family, with an independent sexual and domestic violence adviser to ensure that Alison’s viewpoint was heard.[15] Both were subsequently represented by counsel during the process. A senior ecclesiastical judge, Timothy Briden, was appointed as the decision-maker in relation to the complaint.[16]

39. The core group concluded that no reasonable tribunal could find that the allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities. Mr Briden concluded that no further allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities.[17]

‘THINKING ANGLICANS’

Comments

Richard W. Symonds 

Marion Owen:
“So this is why the Church of England was holding back from any fundamental reforms to its safeguarding policies in advance of the IICSA report: hedging its bets to see what it could get away with in terms of retaining control of its processes. Long term, this is not going to lead to a thoroughly victim and survivor focused enterprise. Doubtless, Ecclesiastical Insurance and Luther Pendragon will continue to be key players.
As a retired bishop recently remarked, when a church has to employ reputational management consultants, you know the game’s over and the emperor has no clothes”

IICSA Report – The George Bell Case – Lord Carlile QC and Mr Bonehill – Ecclesiastical Insurance Office [EIO]

33. Lord Carlile of Berriew was instructed by the Church to consider its response to the allegations. In his report (dated December 2017), he was critical of the Church’s actions…
35. In Mr Bonehill’s view, the process suggested by Lord Carlile was not consistent with the approach that an insurer would take in insured cases, and that it was “something that certainly we would not be able to support”.[6]
35.1. Lord Carlile recommended the assistance of advice from a lawyer with practical knowledge of criminal law and procedure. Although civil claims are judged on the balance of probabilities, Lord Carlile stated that “the examination of a case of this kind against the criminal standard is a useful and instructive exercise”.[7] Mr Bonehill said that this would not be considered relevant to an insured claim because the standard of proof is the balance of probabilities.[8]

39. The core group concluded that no reasonable tribunal could find that the allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities. Mr Briden concluded that no further allegations were proven on the balance of probabilities.[17]

FURTHER COVERAGE [Hat-Tip: ‘Thinking Anglicans’]

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has published its long-awaited report on the Church of England and the Church in Wales. The report totals 154 pages.

Here is a link to the Recommendations section of the report. And here is a link to the Executive Summary.

Press releases:

Initial media coverage:

THINKING ANGLICANS

Archbishop of Canterbury’s Personal Statement

on Tuesday, 6 October 2020 at 5.45 pm by Simon Kershaw
categorised as Church of EnglandSafeguarding

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following personal statement following the publication of the IICSA report:

To fail on safeguarding casts a profound stain across every good thing we do. I have said this before and I continue to stand by it. But I am acutely aware as we come towards the end of this year that while there is a genuine commitment for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults to be the highest priority of all parts of the Church, it is evident we still have not got it right.

The report published today is a stark and shocking reminder of how so many times we have failed – and continue to fail – survivors. Apologies are vital, but they are not enough. We have to listen. We have to learn. And we have to act.

In calling for the enquiry, through a letter to the then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2014, I was aware that although it would be something that survivors had demanded it would also be a deeply painful process to tell their stories. I am very grateful to them for their courage. We cannot and will not make excuses and I must again offer my sincere apologies to those to have been abused, and to their families, friends and colleagues.

There is clearly much to respond to and an in-depth consideration of today’s report is vital. IICSA has shone a light on the past and present to help us better inform our future safeguarding work. They are owed our thanks which we give wholeheartedly. I pray this report and its recommendations will result in the changes needed to make our Church a safer place for all now and for future generations.

 

Richard W. Symonds

The Archbishop’s all-too-familiar apologies and platitudes don’t wash with me, I’m afraid. He should consider his position as the one ‘in charge’ of his Bishops who have been stripped of their responsibility for safeguarding. This has been on his ‘watch’. Reply

Fr. Dean Henley

Fr. Dean Henley 

The Archbishop should be making an appointment with Her Majesty to offer his resignation. Reply

Jeremy Pemberton

Jeremy Pemberton 

I agree with these comments. His words come too glibly – and he has a list of people he has promised to meet and listen to and he has not done anything about it. His own knowledge of John Smythe and Jonathan Fletcher has not been fully explained and he has done all he can to avoid straight answers about the importance Iwerne had for him. There has been a very significant conspiracy of silence around evangelical misdoings, and unless he comes out with much more honesty around all of that I don’t think he is credible any more. Reply

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds Reply to  Jeremy Pemberton

IICSA – a government-ordered inquiry – concludes that the Church of England “facilitates a culture where abusers can hide”.

The Supreme Governor of the Church of England is Her Majesty The Queen.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby must now do the honourable thing and offer his resignation to Her Majesty. Reply

Helen King

Helen King 

Is it true that, as the Archbishop suggests here, he was responsible for ‘calling for this enquiry’? Reply

Nigel LLoyd

Nigel LLoyd Reply to  Helen King

I am not sure that the ABC did call for the IICSA enquiry to be set up. But I do remember that, when the enquiry was being set up, the ABC asked, as a matter of urgency, that the CofE should be at the front of the queue for investigation. Reply

Helen King

Helen King Reply to  Nigel LLoyd

Thanks for that clarification. That makes sense. Reply

Matthew Ineson

Matthew Ineson 

Justin Welby should resign immediately along with all who have ignored abuse, ignored disclosures of abuse, covered up for those who have done the above and treat victims badly. He cannot have all the privilege he has and not take responsibility. He has persistently taken ‘no action’ in complaints in order to protect bishops, refused to personally apologise on behalf of the church to victims who have suffered horrific abuse. This is on his watch. He repeatedly says he has no power, only influence. This is blatantly untrue. He has power to discipline bishops, suspend bishops and impose penalties for… Read more » Reply

Colin Coward

Colin Coward 

Why does the Church of England have a culture in which abuse is systemic?

Why is no one asking the question: What action has the church taken and is the church now taking to change the abusive institutional elements in Christian teaching and practice that are integral to the culture of abuse? Reply

Dave

Dave

If there is a “genuine commitment for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults to be the highest priority of all parts of the Church” why are diocesan websites, and twitter feeds silent? Take Manchester, for example, (and there will be many other examples) where a former Dean of the Cathedral was investigated. The website makes no mention whatsoever of the report, no request for prayer, no statement. The Bishop says via Twitter of all things (!) that the report was ‘pretty shameful’ (what an insensitive understatement) and then actually goes on to say as long as abusers exist, nobody… Read more » Reply

Janet Fife

Janet Fife Reply to  Dave

The Bishop of Manchester’s statement on Ch 4 news last night was awful: no compassion or concern for survivors; saying how much the Church has improved; praising Justin Welby for the great job he’s doing. Clearly. David Walker has learned absolutely nothing from the IICSA Report, and therefore his diocese can’t look for much improvement. He too should resign. Reply

Bill Broadhead

Bill Broadhead Reply to  Janet Fife

The script had probably been written for him, Janet, by EIO, Luther Pendragon and the legal office at Church House, Westminster. Bishops cannot say what they really want to say in case it ends up costing money. And don’t forget Manchester Diocese only collected 40% of parish share last year, so he won’t want to upset the Commissioners and those doling out the Strategic Development Fund money. Reply

Marise Hargreaves

Marise Hargreaves 

Less than a root and branch reform will achieve nothing. Accountability, transparency and all things safeguarding out of the hands of the church would be a start. Resignations need to happen from the top down and a recognition the institution as it now exists cannot continue. More words upon words achieve nothing. Actions speak louder and so far the actions are less than impressive. Reply

Fr John Harris-White

Fr John Harris-White 

A sad day indeed for the Anglican church. But an opportunity to turn round and face the future in the strength of the forgiveness of Our Lord. But it needs changes at the top of the Church of England, and in particularly the resignation of Archbishop Welby. I would be willing to sign such a petition, calling him to be a man, and resign. his position.

Fr John Emlyn Reply

Just Sayin'

Just Sayin’ 

All too often it seems Archbishop Justin offers himself as innocent observer. He has had plenty of opportunity to influence the culture of the C of E and the House of Bishops in his time yet has chosen not to do so.

From comments on this site and elsewhere he has, as they say ‘lost the dressing room’. If he has any shred of self worth or conscience he really should go. Reply

Richard W. Symonds

Richard W. Symonds

‘Virtue-signalling’ Archbishop refuses to stand down after scathing abuse report:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8813903/Victims-call-Archbishop-Canterbury-quit-shameful-disgraceful-CofE-report.html

LETTER SUBMISSION – OCTOBER 7 2020

Dear Editor
All serving Anglican bishops should offer their resignations en masse to the Supreme Governor of the Church of England Her Majesty The Queen [“C of E bishops should lose responsibility for safeguarding children, says inquiry”, Guardian, Oct 7], just as all Catholic bishops in Chile offered their resignations en masse to the Pope in 2018:
They should re-apply for their jobs, be asked at interview what they would do to put things right, and have their jobs and stipends back only if they satisfy the interviewing panel. Their expressions of regret, apology, and promises they will learn lessons, might then have some credibility.


Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

2 Lychgate Cottages

Ifield Street, Ifield Village

Crawley – Gatwick

West Sussex RH11 0NN

Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only please]

Email: richardsy5@aol.com

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George Bell House, 4 Canon Lane, Chichester

TO ARCHBISHOPS AND BISHOPS: APOLOGISE. RESTORE THE NAME OF GEORGE BELL HOUSE. OR RESIGN

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George Bell House – 4 Canon Lane – Chichester Cathedral

LETTER SUBMISSION – AUGUST 29 2020

RESIGNATIONS EN-MASSE TO THE SUPREME GOVERNOR OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND – HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN ? 

Dear Editor

Following this week’s Private Eye article and Church Times letter, we the undersigned again call upon / renew the call for Archbishop Justin Welby and Bishop Martin Warner to consider their positions.

The evidence against Bishop George Bell has been gathered and thoroughly examined. Lord Alex Carlile QC and Timothy Briden have declared the allegations are unfounded and there is no case to answer . It follows, therefore, that no “significant cloud remains” hangs over Bishop Bell’s head – it hangs elsewhere.

Bishop Bell’s name has now been fully vindicated, so there is no good reason why an apology should not be forthcoming and the name of George Bell House restored.

But Archbishop Justin Welby and Bishop Martin Warner continue to perpetuate this injustice against the wartime Bishop of Chichester by wilfully and arrogantly refusing to admit they were wrong. There is no willingness on their part to right that wrong. They display no humility in acknowledging that wrong. They have no intention to lift that “significant cloud”.

As Stephen Parsons says in ‘Surviving Church’: “Incompetence whether caused by ignorance, conceit or malevolence, is a particularly important matter when the individual refuses to admit to it and own up to it”.

After Archbishop Welby’s comment last year: “It is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet” – a few of us did not ignore or sweep under the carpet those allegations against Bishop Bell. We fully investigated the clear likelihood of ‘mistaken identity’ – especially after the IICSA brought to light the “bonfire” of John Treadgold Dean of Chichester. Our findings are one reason why we are so critical of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner – especially relating to excising the memory of Bishop Bell in Chichester].

Bishop Bell’s niece Barbara Whitley, the only surviving relative and in her 90’s, and the Rev Peter Mullen and Andrew Morse have already called for resignation.

Therefore, we, the undersigned, now call for the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner, unless an immediate and full public apology is forthcoming regarding Bishop Bell and the name of George Bell House in Chichester is restored.

Yours sincerely

ATKINS, Revd. Forrest William

BOYS, Geoffrey

CHARMLEY, Professor John

DONALD, Revd. Steve

GOMES, Dr. Jules

INESON, Revd. Matthew

LINSLEY, Alice C.

MARTIN, Terry

MORGAN, Dr. Gerald

MULLEN, Revd. Dr. Peter

OSBORNE, Noel

RAVEN, Revd. Canon Charles

ROBINSON, Dr. Steven

SIMS, Kevin

SYKES, Rt. Revd. Nicholas J.G. – Suffragan Bishop

SYMONDS, Richard W.

VIRTUE, David W. DD

WATKINS, Lindsay

For further information regarding this Letter and its Signatories, please contact:

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

2 Lychgate Cottages

Ifield Street, Ifield Village

Crawley – Gatwick

Tel: 07540 309592 [Text only please]

Email: richardsy5@aol.com

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St Richard’s Walk – Chichester Cathedral

AUGUST 13 2020 – “CALL FOR SIGNATURES – LETTER ASKING JUSTIN WELBY TO STEP DOWN OVER THE GEORGE BELL AFFAIR” – ANGLICAN INK

d07cf97b6f12ccb07618466ebc9f2bb6--chichester-art-uk

George Bell, Bishop of Chichester. A Painting by William Coldstream – Pallant House Gallery Chichester [in storage]

“CALL FOR SIGNATURES – LETTER ASKING JUSTIN WELBY TO STEP DOWN OVER THE GEORGE BELL AFFAIR” – ANGLICAN INK

By

The Bell Society is asking concerned Christians to endorse their open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury asking him to step down over his handling of the George Bell affair. Please contact Richard W. Symonds of The Bell Society to add your name to the letter. richardsy5@aol.com

Dear Editor

The evidence against Bishop George Bell has been gathered and thoroughly examined. Lord Alex Carlile QC and Timothy Briden have declared the allegations are unfounded and there is no case to answer . It follows, therefore, that no “significant cloud remains” over Bishop Bell’s head.

But Archbishop Justin Welby and Bishop Martin Warner continue to perpetuate this injustice against the wartime Bishop of Chichester by wilfully and arrogantly refusing to admit they were wrong. There is no willingness on their part to right that wrong. They display no humility in acknowledging that wrong. They have no intention to lift that “significant cloud”. 

As Stephen Parsons says in ‘Surviving Church’: “Incompetence whether caused by ignorance, conceit or malevolence, is a particularly important matter when the individual refuses to admit to it and own up to it”.

After Archbishop Welby’s comment last year: “It is still the case that there is a woman who came forward with a serious allegation and this cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet” – a few of us did not ignore or sweep under the carpet those allegations against Bishop Bell. We fully investigated the clear likelihood of ‘mistaken identity’ – especially after the IICSA brought to light the “bonfire” of John Treadgold Dean of Chichester. Our findings are one reason why we are so critical of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner – especially relating to excising the memory of Bishop Bell in Chichester.

Therefore, we, the undersigned, call for the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner, unless an immediate and full public apology is forthcoming regarding Bishop Bell and the name of George Bell House in Chichester is restored.

Yours sincerely
BOYS, Geoffrey
CHARMLEY, Professor John
GOMES, Dr Jules
INESON, Rev Matthew
MARTIN, Terry
MORGAN, Dr Gerald
MULLEN, Rev Dr Peter
OSBORNE, Noel
RAVEN, Rev Canon Charles
SIMS, Kevin
SYMONDS, Richard W
WATKINS, Lindsay

 

 

JULY 26 2020 – GOOD NEWS: NAME RESTORED – GEORGE BELL HOUSE ?

The entrance door to george bell house in chichester partly open

George Bell House, 4 Canon Lane, Chichester [Picture taken before October 2015]

TRIPADVISOR – GEORGE BELL HOUSE, 4 CANON LANE

This is GEORGE BELL HOUSE

Review of 4 Canon Lane
Reviewed 26 May 2016

It was difficult to find George Bell House because the Cathedral owners have decided to excise the memory of Bishop George Bell by reason of some trumped up or badly managed allegations against a man who cannot answer from the grave. It is now called simply 4 Canon Lane. This should be reversed.

That aside, our room was large, comfortable, had superb views of both the cathedral and towards the Bishops Palace Gardens, was well equipped. All very good.

Breakfast on a sunny day, with the doors open to the garden, was a wonderful start to the day, with a perfectly cooked full English breakfast served by a delightful waitress.

 

Date of stay: May 2016
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CHICHESTER CATHEDRAL ENTERPRISES – 4 CANON LANE

 

STAY IN BRITAIN – GEORGE BELL HOUSE, 4 CANON LANE

 

DISCOVER BRITAIN – GEORGE BELL HOUSE, 4 CANON LANE

 

FREEDOM 2 EXPLORE – GEORGE BELL HOUSE, 4 CANON LANE

 

GUARDIAN HOTEL REVIEW – GEORGE BELL HOUSE, 4 CANON LANE

 

GOOD HOTEL GUIDE – GEORGE BELL HOUSE, 4 CANON LANE

 

GEORGE BELL HOUSE, 4 CANON LANE, CHICHESTER PO19 1PX

 

George Bell House

Phone: 01243 813586
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George Bell House - 4 Canon Lane - Chichester Cathedral

George Bell House – 4 Canon Lane – Chichester Cathedral – before the name change [Picture: Alamy]

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LETTER SUBMISSION [NOT PUBLISHED – JULY 30 2020]

 

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Dear Chichester Observer Editor

 

First, the bad news (‘Closure surely not justified / Dismayed by closure proposal’, Observer Letters, June 25): Chichester Cathedral Enterprises has closed its Cloisters Cafe – “aka Bishop Bell Tea Rooms” – and made redundancies.

 

Second, the good news: 4 Canon Lane has been restored back to its original name of George Bell House [Please note: this is subject to confirmation by Cathedral Enterprises]

 

But is George Bell House – another ‘jewel in the crown’ of this city – now threatened with closure?

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

 

“Dresden: The World War Two bombing 75 years on” – BBC News [Toby Luckhurst]

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-51448486?fbclid=IwAR3WXr3kBnkWiaEnHQA7M975fXAHScBl9GCsghYW0S4-wGwqY3knSBh1Gv0

Dresden: The World War Two bombing 75 years on

Related Topics

Dresden after the bombing, as seen from the top of the town hallImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
The bombing of Dresden created a firestorm that destroyed the centre of the city

“The firestorm is incredible… Insane fear grips me and from then on I repeat one simple sentence to myself continuously: ‘I don’t want to burn to death’. I do not know how many people I fell over. I know only one thing: that I must not burn.”

On 13 February 1945, British aircraft launched an attack on the eastern German city of Dresden. In the days that followed, they and their US allies would drop nearly 4,000 tons of bombs in the assault.

The ensuing firestorm killed 25,000 people, ravaging the city centre, sucking the oxygen from the air and suffocating people trying to escape the flames.

Dresden was not unique. Allied bombers killed tens of thousands and destroyed large areas with attacks on Cologne, Hamburg and Berlin, and the Japanese cities of Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But the bombing has become one of the most controversial Allied acts of World War Two. Some have questioned the military value of Dresden. Even British Prime Minister Winston Churchill expressed doubts immediately after the attack.

“It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed,” he wrote in a memo.

“The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing.”

This story contains graphic images.

Short presentational grey line

Dresden is the capital of the state of Saxony. Before the bombing it was referred to as the Florence on the Elbe or the Jewel Box, for its climate and its architecture.

Image of Dresden from 1900Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
A colour image of Dresden from 1900, showing a number of monuments which were later heavily damaged in the bombing

By February 1945, Dresden was only about 250km (155 miles) from the Eastern Front, where Nazi Germany was defending against the advancing armies of the Soviet Union in the final months of the war.

The city was a major industrial and transportation hub. Scores of factories provided munitions, aircraft parts and other supplies for the Nazi war effort. Troops, tanks and artillery travelled through Dresden by train and by road. Hundreds of thousands of German refugees fleeing the fighting had also arrived in the city.

At the time, the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) said it was the largest German city yet to be bombed. Air chiefs decided an attack on Dresden could help their Soviet allies – by stopping Nazi troop movements but also by disrupting the German evacuations from the east.

An RAF bomber over Hamburg, 1943Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
RAF bombers dropped incendiary bombs as well as explosive weapons on German cities to maximise damage

RAF bomber raids on German cities had increased in size and power after more than five years of war.

Planes carried a mix of high explosive and incendiary bombs: the explosives would blast buildings apart, while the incendiaries would set the remains on fire, causing further destruction.

Previous attacks had annihilated entire German cities. In July 1943, hundreds of RAF bombers took part in a mission against Hamburg, named Operation Gomorrah. The resulting assault and unusually dry and hot weather caused a firestorm – a blaze so great it creates its own weather system, sucking winds in to feed the flames – which destroyed almost the whole city.

Dresden after the bombing in 1945Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Most of Dresden was destroyed after the British and US attack

The attack on Dresden began on 13 February 1945. Close to 800 RAF aircraft – led by pathfinders, who dropped flares marking out the bombing area centred on the Ostragehege sports stadium – flew to Dresden that night. In the space of just 25 minutes, British planes dropped more than 1,800 tons of bombs.

As was common practice during the war, US aircraft followed up the attack with day-time raids. More than 520 USAAF bombers flew to Dresden over two days, aiming for the city’s railway marshalling yards but in reality hitting a large area across the city.

Bodies lie in the streets after the attack on DresdenImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Tens of thousands died, many suffocated in the firestorm
Dresden after the bombing in 1945Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Major landmarks in the city were gutted

On the ground, civilians cowered under the onslaught. Many had fled to shelters after air raid sirens warned of the incoming bombers.

But the first wave of aircraft knocked out the electricity. Some came out of hiding just as the second wave arrived above the city.

People fell dead as they ran from the flames, the air sucked from their lungs by the fire storm. Eyewitness Margaret Freyer described a woman with her baby: “She runs, she falls, and the child flies in an arc into the fire… The woman remains lying on the ground, completely still”.

Kurt Vonnegut survived the bombing as a prisoner of war in Dresden.

“Dresden was one big flame. The one flame ate everything organic, everything that would burn,” he wrote in his work Slaughterhouse-Five.

He described the city after the attack as “like the moon now, nothing but minerals. The stones were hot. Everybody else in the neighbourhood was dead.”

In total, the British lost six bombers in the attack, three to planes accidentally hitting each other with bombs. The US lost one.

People taking a tram in Dresden amid the wreckage, 1946Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
The city was a wreck for years afterwards, as seen here, when city dwellers take trams through the ruins in 1946
A shot of Dresden in 1946 showing the effect of the bombingImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
It took years to clean up the damage
Dresden castle photographed in East Germany in 1969Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Many parts of Dresden remained as ruins throughout its time as part of East Germany

Nazi Germany immediately used the bombing to attack the Allies. The Propaganda Ministry claimed Dresden had no war industry and was only a city of culture. Though local officials said about 25,000 people had died – a figure historians agree with now – the Nazis claimed 200,000 civilians were killed.

In the UK, Dresden was known as a tourist destination, and some MPs and public figures questioned the value of the attack. A story at the time published by the Associated Press news agency said the Allies were conducting terror bombing, spreading further alarm.

US and UK military planners, however, insisted the attack was strategically justified, in the same way as attacks on other cities – by disrupting industry, destroying workers’ homes and crippling transport in Germany.

A crane lifts a cupola on top of Dresden cathedral in 2004Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Dresden’s Frauenkirche was rebuilt with the help of donations from the UK and the US after serving as a war memorial for decades
Dresden in 2015, largely recovered after the warImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionDresden has recovered since the war, although it still bears the scars

A 1953 US report on the bombing concluded that the attack destroyed or severely damaged 23% of the city’s industrial buildings, and at least 50% of its residential buildings. But Dresden was “a legitimate military target”, the report said, and the attack was no different “from established bombing policies”.

The debate about the Allied bombing campaign, and about the attack on Dresden, continues to this day. Historians question if destruction of German cities hindered the Nazi war effort, or simply caused civilian deaths – especially towards the end of the conflict. Unlike an invasion like D-Day, it is harder to quantify how much these attacks helped win the war.

Some argue it is a moral failing for the Allies, or even a war crime. But defenders say it was a necessary part of the total war to defeat Nazi Germany.

It has even become a symbol for conspiracy theorists and some far-right activists – including Holocaust deniers and extremist parties – who have quoted Nazi casualty figures as fact and have commemorated the bombing.

Seventy-five years later, the bombing of Dresden remains a controversial act.

Media caption The 100-year-old survivor of Dresden tells BBC Newsday of the ‘stupidity of war’

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    11 February 2019

    DRESDEN/BELL’ EMAIL FROM DR GERALD MORGAN

    Sir,

    The troubling question of the bombing of Dresden is raised in your columns by Sinclair McKay and A.N. Wilson under the heading ‘Was the Bombing of Dresden a War Crime?’ (The Spectator, 8 February 2020, pp.20-22). It is written with the luxury of knowing that Nazi Germany was defeated in 1939-1945, a knowledge denied to those with the awesome responsibility of winning the war. In many respects the contributions are self-indulgent and imbued with an arrogant sense of moral and even aesthetic superiority.

    How to defeat Nazi German in 1939-1945 (no simple task)? Germany did not surrender after the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944, although a civilised nation might have done so. 
    Sadly Arnhem (17-26 September 1944) was a tragic failure, leaving Holland to the cruelty of German occupation throughout the winter of 1944-1945. Probably Boy Browning (Eton) was as much to blame for this failure as anyone else, but the British blamed the Poles under Sosabowski, who indeed wanted to fight on once Operation Market Garden had been undertaken. 
    So far from surrendering the Germans invaded the Ardennes on 16 December 1944  to 25 January 1945 and in defeating them the Americans lost some 85,000 men. No small price to pay. I remain loath to criticise those who fought and won the war even in the wake of Arnhem. And, as if the Poles had not suffered enough, thanks to continuing German resistance the Soviet offensive in Poland was launched on 12 January 1945.
    I have greater admiration for George Bell, Bishop of Chichester (1929-1958), for he opposed area bombing in the midst of the war when it took great moral courage to do so. Unsurprisingly his words of wisdom were not heeded at that time. Since then his reputation has been trashed by the present Archbishop of Canterbury (yet another Old Etonian).
    And what lessons have we drawn about the bombing of civilian populations since 1945? In March 2003 the messianic Tony Blair, supported by countless Labour and Tory MPs (including Theresa May) unleashed with the Americans a bombing campaign on Iraq. 
    In the 1960s Harold Wilson and the Labour Party expelled the Chagos Islanders from their home in the Indian Ocean to make way for an American bombing base at Diego Garcia.
    How easy it is to convict Sir Arthur Harris and Mr Winston Churchill of war crimes  in their absence. 
    Perhaps we can at least restore the reputation of the Bishop of Chichester by according him the presumption of innocence.
    Kind regards,
    Gerald Morgan, FTCD (Leader: English Parliamentary Party, 2001)

     

    Dr Gerald Morgan, FTCD (1993)
    Lydbrook School (1946-1953),
    Monmouth School (1953-1961),
    Meyricke Exhibitioner, Jesus College, Oxford (1961-1964),
    D.Phil. (Oxon.), 1973
    Director:The Chaucer Hub.
    Tel.: 086 456 56 60

    barry_orford

    The Revd Dr Barry A. Orford

    ‘BISHOP BELL’ LETTER SUBMITTED BY THE REVD DR BARRY ORFORD TO THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

     

    The Editor

    The Daily Telegraph

    London

    SW1W 0DT

    February 13th, 2020

    Sir,

    The article by Sinclair McKay (February 13th) on the 1945 bombing of Dresden was timely and welcome. What a pity, though, that he did not mention the most prominent wartime challenge to the British policy of Obliteration Bombing, which came from Bishop George Bell of Chichester.

    In 1944, when Hamburg had been devastated the previous year and Dresden was still to suffer, Bishop Bell, a fervent anti-Nazi, questioned in the House of Lords the morality of such bombing of targets which were not primarily military. Few of his fellow bishops supported him, and he earned himself both widespread abuse but also agreement. The bravery of his stand is undeniable.

    Recently, there have been shameful (and now discredited) attempts in Bell’s diocese to tarnish his reputation. Since an apology for this behaviour is still not forthcoming, it is more than ever necessary that we are reminded of George Bell’s courage and integrity, both in wartime and beyond it.

    Barry A. Orford

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Dear Editor

Earlier this month, at Westminster Abbey, there was a Service of Thanksgiving for the politician and diplomat Lord ‘Paddy’ Ashdown who died last year.

In the Epilogue of his last book – “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944” – Lord Ashdown concludes:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Later next month, in Chichester Cathedral*, some of those questions will be addressed at the Coburg Conference which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us in the light of today’s political situation”. 

Yours sincerely 

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

 

* October 10th to 14th. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral

September 12 2019 – Times Letter Submission – Coburg, Bonhoeffer, Bell and Ashdown – Unpublished [Amended and re-submitted elsewhere]

 

 

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Dear Editor

There is much for which we can be thankful in the life and work of Paddy Ashdown (“Service of thanksgiving for Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon”, Times, Sept 11) – not least his well-researched last book “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944”.

Lord Ashdown concludes in his Epilogue:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Some of those “questions” will be addressed next month at the Coburg Conference in Chichester*, which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us, in the light of today’s political situation”.

Yours sincerely

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

* October 10th to 14th 2019. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral Precinct, Chichester, West Sussex

 

UNPUBLISHED LETTER AMENDED AND RE-SUBMITTED ELSEWHERE – SEPT 13 2019 (Morning)

 

Dear Editor

Earlier this month, at Westminster Abbey, there was a Service of Thanksgiving for the politician and diplomat Lord ‘Paddy’ Ashdown who died last year.

In the Epilogue of his last book – “Nein! Standing Up To Hitler 1935-1944” – Lord Ashdown concludes:

“There are also, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bishop Bell argued, moral questions to be addressed here”

Later next month, in Chichester Cathedral*, some of those questions will be addressed at the ecumenical Coburg Conference, which “will focus on Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s and George Bell’s work, and what it can teach us in the light of today’s political situation”.

Yours sincerely

 

Richard W. Symonds

The Bell Society

 

* October 10th to 14th 2019. Venue: 4 Canon Lane (formerly George Bell House), Chichester Cathedral Precinct, Chichester, West Sussex

SEPT 13 2019 UPDATE (Evening)

The Coburg Conference (10-14 October) will take place in Chichester Cathedral and  ‘other venues’, such as Vicars’ Hall, but NOT including 4 Canon Lane (George Bell House before 2015 name-change – Ed) ~ Secretary of Chichester Cathedral Precentor

 

George Bell House - 4 Canon Lane - Chichester Cathedral

George Bell House – 4 Canon Lane – Chichester Cathedral [before the name change in 2015] [Picture: Alamy]

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“No justification for lack of name” – Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson – Chichester Observer Letter – June 20 2019

The phrase that 4 Canon Lane was ‘formerly known as George Bell House’ is misleading.  4 Canon Lane is a street address.  The building was given to the cathedral to commemorate Bishop George Bell, funds were raised for its renovation as George Bell House and it was dedicated as such in 2008 by Archbishop Rowan Williams.  It has never been undedicated.  The name ‘George Bell House’ therefore still stands.  The right of the cathedral authorities to attempt to remove it without due consultation with all parties concerned is highly contentious.
In view of the findings of two senior lawyers that the allegations made against George Bell are not only unproven but unfounded, there is no justification for the continued absence of his name from the building.  On the contrary, there would be every justification for all those who contributed to the renovation of George Bell House to request their money back unless the name is immediately reinstated, or to take other action as they deem appropriate.
The statement that ‘Chichester Cathedral Friends has no official position on the George Bell issue’ beggars belief.  George Bell founded the Friends in 1939.  It was entirely in order to raise this question at their anniversary meeting on 6 June.  The reply given at the time was that it would now be considered.  We await a further statement with interest.
Dr Ruth Hildebrandt Grayson
Sheffield
“Injustice on the Sisters and us” – Charlotte A Evans – Chichester Observer Letter – June 20 2019
Your report on the demonstration at George Bell House [4 Canon Lane] seems slightly to misrepresent the issue, in stating that its purpose was “to highlight the ‘injustice’ on the former Bishop”.
As I understand it, the protesters were gathered to highlight, first, the injustice on the Sisters* who donated the house, and on all of us who contributed financially to the renovation of the former Archdeaconry.
It was formally opened by Archbishop Rowan Williams as “George Bell House”, in 2008.
Thus, the commemoration of Bishop Bell was integral to the establishment of the centre, and ought not to have been suppressed by the Dean & Chapter.
You are right, of course, to report the sense of injustice regarding Bishop Bell.
Many of your readers will be aware of the petition to restore the name to George Bell House, which [I believe] has over a thousand signatories so far.
Thank you for your reporting.
Charlotte A Evans
Chichester
* Anglican Sisters of the Community of the Servants of the Cross