“London Member on Duty during Bombings,” Liahona, Dec. 2005, N5
William Holder was on duty as a police officer in London on July 6 when England won the bid for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. The streets of London were filled with thousands of people celebrating. It was pandemonium for police.
Then, less than 24 hours later, Brother Holder was on duty again. Now, however, he dealt with a different type of pandemonium—terrorists had attacked his city.
Nothing could have prepared him for what he saw—people running out of the Aldgate subway station in terrible shock; some were injured, others were screaming for family. Steps away, Brother Holder of the Gravesend Ward, Canterbury England Stake, realized he was one of the first emergency personnel on the scene of a terrorist attack.
“You are on auto pilot. You do your job,” he said. “It is human to human. It doesn’t matter who they are, you just want to take away their pain.”
No members or missionaries were injured when bombs exploded on three London underground subway trains in a coordinated attack on July 7. At least 56 people died in the blasts, which injured an additional 700 people—dozens seriously—and took place within a 50-second period during the morning rush hour. A fourth bomb went off 57 minutes later on one of the city’s red doubledecker buses.
The terrorist attacks were the deadliest in London since World War II. In response to the atrocity, the Church is making a donation to a victims’ fund set up by London mayor Ken Livingstone and the British Red Cross.
“It is not until you can look back on it that you are able to comprehend the sheer horror of it,” said Brother Holder. “At the time you just do what you were meant to do: be calm and professional and get on with it.”
During the next several days, Brother Holder worked extra hours. In quiet moments, however, he remembered a priesthood blessing he had received years earlier. The blessing said in his career he could be as a lighthouse, that people would come to him for direction and that he would be calm.
He has felt the Lord’s hand guiding him in his work. “I felt peace inside, but also sadness at the same time,” he explained.
Still, Brother Holder said he sees daily reminders of the event: closed subway stations and an increased police presence on the streets of London. It is hard, he added, to escape the memories of the event.
Adapted from Church News, July 23, 2005.