Holy Trinity Scottish Episcopal Church, Stirling

Rev. Richard Elual Kerrin, M.A. (1937-1947)

Rev. R. E. KerrinIn 1937, Rev. Money resigned, to become Rector of Steeple (with Tyneham and Grange) in Dorset. His successor, Rev. Richard Elual Kerrin, had been Rector at Inverurie, Aberdeenshire for twelve years.

Rev. Kerrin was educated at St Marnan's Episcopal School, Aberchirder, Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen and Aberdeen University, graduating MA in 1920. He received his theological training  at the Scottish Episcopal Theological College and in 1922 won the Luscombe Scholarship.

During World War I he served in the ranks, on home service, with the Royal Flying Corps and the Artists' Rifles. In 1922, he was appointed assistant curate at Old St Paul's Church, Edinburgh and he remained there until he became  Rector of St Mary's Inverurie. While there, he was also in charge of St Anne's Mission Church, Kemnay, where he played an active part in the building of a new church.

Rev. Kerrin was inducted to Holy Trinity on Thursday 30 September 1937. The service was conducted by Rt Rev. Harry Seymour Reid, Bishop of Edinburgh. The Dean of Edinburgh, Very Rev. William Perry, a previous Rector of Holy Trinity, was also present. After the service, Rev. Kerrin was introduced to the congregation at an informal reception in the Girl Guide Headquarters, Glebe Avenue, by Mr T. W. Donald, the senior member of the Vestry. Afterwards, the ladies of the church served tea to the company of about 180.

Rev. Kerrin had only two years of uneasy peace before meeting the stresses of World War II. During that time he had to face the problems that might affect the tenure of the Hut and also the possibility of selling Church House, whose usefulness appeared to be on the decline.

World War II has not yet been researched at Holy Trinity to the extent of World War I. What is currently known about the members of the congregation who lost their lives in the conflict appears on the Roll of Honour page.

One member of the congregation deserves special mention. Major Peter Samwell MC recorded his experiences of war in North Africa and Sicily in a book entitled An Infantry Officer with the Eighth Army. It is what blurb writers would call Ďa rollicking good read'. Samwell relates an astonishing variety of experiences: the tension and utter confusion of an infantry assault, a long spell wounded in a trench with an equally wounded Austrian, a conversation with a captured German, touring Egypt with a bizarre guide, conversations with soldiers and civilians of many nationalities and political outlooks, being lost in the desert and running through a minefield, recuperating from wounds, petty corruption in the Catering Corps and bumbling incompetence in the Allied administration of Sicily. Almost every aspect of army life is mentioned somewhere, accompanied by wry observations and thought-provoking comments. The support of the church, or a padre, was often very important to soldiers and Samwell gives a very perceptive account of an instance where this support fell well short of expectations: "On Christmas Day there was a compulsory church parade, held in the local cinema. What could have been a really cheerful and satisfying service turned out to be a dreary repetition of the cathedral service in Cairo. The few carols we did sing were almost unknown to us, a meaningless lesson was read from the Old Testament and the sermon consisted of a series of mixed platitudes, and only a vague passing reference was made to the Christmas message. What a chance was missed to put over a real Christian message to this crowded congregation! for it consisted of men who would shortly be once more engaged in bitter fighting, and for many of whom this was to be their last Christmas."

Samwell was tragically killed in Belgium on 12 January 1945 in the final phase of the German Ardennes offensive. His death is recorded thus in the Battalion history: "During the advance of the Argylls the leading tank of the squadron of the Northamptonshire Yeomanry, which were in support, was knocked out and a considerable amount of spandau and mortar fire was coming from the high ground on both sides of the road, and from the wooded area west of Lavaux. At this stage the opposition became rather sticky, and ĎA' company of the Argylls was temporarily held up by some Panther tanks in the wooded area. Here several casualties were sustained, including ĎA' company commander, Major Peter Samwell, M.C., who was killed." 

At home, Rev. Kerrin found himself dealing with the practical problems of the black-out of church premises, provision of fire-fighting equipment, removal of some of the more valuable objects for safe-keeping, arrangements for the occupation of Church House, first by classes from the Roman Catholic School and later by soldiers. Then came the inevitable casualties and the pastoral care of their relatives. Members of the congregation joined with other churches in providing canteens for soldiers. Others received evacuees, but many of these soon returned home, since Stirling was so much of a military centre that it appeared more dangerous than what seemed, and ultimately were, more obvious targets for the enemy.

Some improvements were made in the church itself, including the provision of the wooden altar rail and of additional prayer desks for the servers. The railings outside were sold in 1940, never to be replaced. This was a compulsory purchase, but it brought in some revenue of which there was always too little. Pew rents were said to have declined so much by 1944 that there was an abortive proposal to do away with them and substitute some sort of membership fee. However, the army vacated Church House in June 1942 and it was decided to get what war damage compensation was available and sell it. It was bought by the community of Youth Organisations in Stirling for £800.

Mr Kellock, who had seen long service as a Vestryman, died in September 1940, leaving a quarter of his estate to the church. This money was invested as the basis for a fund to provide a new hall in the church grounds. A considerable sum of money left by Miss K. Galbraith was similarly set aside.

Rev. Kerrin resigned in May 1947, to become Rector at Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire. He had served through difficult and painful years, culminating in the addition to the Memorial Chapel of the names of members of the congregation killed in World War II. By the time he left, rejoicing at the Allied victory was already being tempered with anxiety for the future, world-wide.

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