The Second World War Miracles Part 1



Continued from page 1

Figure 7.3. Cover details of a 20-page leaflet for prayer in time
of war, issued by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for the
Church of England's own call to prayer. The 20-page order of service
included prayers 'for those who fight against us' beseeching God to
'turn the hearts of our enemies, and to help us to forgive them'.
Source: SPCK
Figure 7.3. Cover details of a 20-page leaflet for prayer in time of war, issued by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for the Church of England's own call to prayer. The 20-page order of service included prayers 'for those who fight against us' beseeching God to 'turn the hearts of our enemies, and to help us to forgive them'. Source: SPCK

Of seven separate days of prayer called by King and Parliament in the six years of war, as many as three were held within the first twelve months because the situation was known to be so desperate. In gratitude for deliverance after the war, the government passed a law making Christian teaching in schools compulsory. Now it is difficult to get permission even to mention the name of Christ, and many children lack ethical and moral teaching. The results in our community life are obvious.

Yes, Britain was in a desperate situation. We were quite unprepared for war and humanly speaking we were left in an impossible situation. That situation worsened when France fell to the Nazis, and the British Army of only 350,000 men were hemmed in with backs to the sea at Dunkirk. All the protection that was left in Britain was a 'Dad's Army practising drill with broomsticks'.

Before calling the nation to the first national Day of Prayer, Winston Churchill said he had, 'Hard and heavy tidings to announce'. The commander of the British Forces, Lt General Sir Frederick Morgan, said there was no way out barring a miracle. That miracle happened after the first Day of Prayer.

Figure 7.4. King George VI calls the nation to prayer. Source:
The Christian Herald, May 1990
Figure 7.4. King George VI calls the nation to prayer. Source: The Christian Herald, May 1990

1. The first National Day of Prayer was called for by King George VI on March 27th, 1940. The miracle took place during the week following. Most people have heard how the English Channel was absolutely calm all the days during which thousands of private boats and yachts, including my father-in-law's boat, went to and fro rescuing from the sands of Dunkirk 338,000 men of the British Expeditionary Army, leaving only 12,000 sadly to become prisoners or killed.

Drama of the Little Boats

The following details are supplied by Lt Commander E. Keble Chatterton:

Things happened quickly; immense possibilities widened. Instead of, perhaps, a lucky 25,000 or so, more than ten times that number might be saved. But how? It all resulted from a marvel of detailed organisation. Already the Admiralty had with great foresight given notice that all privately owned motorcraft of 30 to 100 feet in length were to be at their disposal. So, likewise, by means of a licensing system for all coasting vessels, the Ministry of Shipping were kept aware of movements and could lay their hands on suitable vessels almost instantly. The congregating of a vast improvised fleet numbering nearly 1,000 units therefore was just a matter of telephoning and telegraphing. Nothing like it had ever been devised. Trawlers, drifters, Thames sailing and motor barges, little cargo carriers, colliers, motor-boats, motor-yachts, 17 of the Royal National lifeboats, open skiffs, oared boats from liners, sailing boats from Southend beach usually employed for pleasure parties, tugs from the Thames, even the six motor bawleys that gather up cockles from the estuary; pleasure paddle steamers accustomed to ply their trade along the Clyde or at Llandudno, or Margate; one of the LFB fireboats, steam yachts that were veterans when fighting U-boats in the last war; Dutch schooners and Belgian craft, swelled this extraordinary list till they numbered 665, in addition to the 222 naval units. Cross-channel steamers with ample passenger accommodation and high speed, normally carrying from seven to fourteen deck-hands, now received additional volunteers to man the boats which would have to be used as ferries from the beach. One amateur yachtsman assisted by his son, sailed his yacht all the way from Southampton to Dunkirk on his own initiative, and fetched home a batch of tired soldiers.

Figure 7.5 Father-in-law's motor yacht My Beth used in the
Dunkirk evacuation.
Figure 7.5 Father-in-law's motor yacht My Beth used in the Dunkirk evacuation.

So then the army was back in Britain having lost their armaments, as helpless as sitting ducks for Hitler.

It was a miracle that Hitler didn't follow up his victory immediately. That first Day of Prayer was followed up by two more within five months, so within five months we had three national days of prayer, not called by the Church, but called by the King and Parliament. But did the nation respond as a nation? They did! Hardly anybody stayed away. The churches and halls were crammed full and overflows outside were sometimes bigger than the crush inside.

Figure 7.7. Circular letter from the Ministry of Information to
all clergy explaining the gravity of the situation in mid-1940 and at
the same time providing words of encouragement.
Figure 7.7. Circular letter from the Ministry of Information to all clergy explaining the gravity of the situation in mid-1940 and at the same time providing words of encouragement.

The Cabinet's Words of Encouragement

At this time the war cabinet sought to inform clergy in Britain of the serious situation while at the same time providing a positive message of hope and encouragement. The first of a series of letters from Duff Cooper at the Ministry of Information was circulated on 21st June, 1940 advising what Hitler was seeking to do that autumn and to prepare the congregations to fight 'side by side for the fields and villages and cities that we love'.

First published in Miracles & Angels, Dr E K Victor Pearce. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.