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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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God’s crucial role in the D-Day landings

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TUESDAY is of course the anniversary of the commencement of the invasion of the German-occupied European mainland on June 6, 1944, namely D-Day. This highly significant event contains important lessons for us about the providence of God.

The military preparations for the D-Day landings were on an unprecedented scale, but there were the spiritual preparations as well; Army chaplains working with much fervour amongst the soldiers to prepare them for the ordeal which lay ahead of them. There were accordingly many well-attended church services in the camps before the Normandy landings began. We see, therefore, that there was an acknowledgment in high places in the Army that the outcome of the battle lay not just in military strategy, but in the spiritual condition of the troops and in the overall directing hand of the Trinitarian God. 

It is worth remembering in this regard the role of SASRA, the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Scripture Readers Association. This organisation continues today its work of Christian ministry amongst service personnel. The task of spiritual counsel and witnessing to the troops carried out by the SASRA ‘readers’ took on an ever more earnest aspect as D-Day approached. A number of those to whom the SASRA readers explained the gospel might soon be facing their Maker, having fallen on the beaches or fields of Normandy. Many of the troops of course were indifferent or even hardened to the gospel, but there were some whose consciences were becoming more sensitive, aware of the dangers ahead, and who were accordingly more open to receiving Christ’s message of salvation. 

The Lord would far more likely bless the military endeavours of a nation permitting such openly Christ-centred evangelistic work amongst its ranks than one which forbade such work. It is also a Biblical principle that just a few righteous men amongst a much larger number who care nothing for God can have, in God’s providence, a mighty beneficial effect upon the whole (see Genesis 18:32). Therefore the efforts of the military chaplains and the SASRA readers cannot be lightly dismissed as having nothing to do with the final outcome of the Allied invasion.

In launching a massive seaborne invasion, supported by numerous aircraft, the state of the weather was crucial. In June 1944, conditions in the English Channel were more like November than June. In fact, the German military leaders assumed that there would be no invasion on June 6 or thereabouts, precisely because of the poor weather. The German Air Force’s chief forecaster felt that the stormy conditions would probably persist until mid-June. This led the forces defending the Normandy coast to relax their immediate state of readiness. 

So when the Allies landed on the beaches, in God’s providence, many German officers were absent from their units, whilst other units were unprepared in that they were engaged on exercises. Rommel himself had gone back to Germany to celebrate his wife’s birthday. 

The supreme Allied Commander, General Eisenhower, had initially chosen June 5 as the invasion date. This was the first day of a three-day period when there would be a full moon to assist landings by glider and low tides early in the morning, which would expose defensive obstacles placed by the Germans under the waters on the beaches. Any delay after this three-day segment would have meant a much longer postponement until the moon and the tides were again suitable. 

On June 4 Eisenhower decided to postpone the invasion by 24 hours. The meteorologists then detected a temporary break in the stormy conditions, sufficient to make feasible the launching of the invasion forces on June 6. The dispersal of the heavy cloud cover was essential in respect of the precise bombing which would have to take place immediately prior to the landings. 

General Eisenhower subsequently said that the decision to delay the invasion by 24 hours confirmed to him the reality of the hand of God in the unfolding of events. Although there would tragically be many casualties, initial loss of life amongst the invading forces turned out to be lower than expected. 

Another remarkable instance of the providence of God is the fact that in the early hours of June 6 the German U-boats were not patrolling the English Channel as they usually did, and that the 4,000 ships and 11,000 aircraft of the invasion force were not actually intercepted in their Channel crossing by any enemy ships or planes. This is a demonstration of the merciful providence of God and of the power of prayer.

Three months before D-Day, in March 1944, General Montgomery had made a speech at the Mansion House in London about the impending invasion, and in it he referred to the need for the nation to be dedicated to the Lord, so that His presence would accompany its armed forces for the tasks ahead. How heartening that such a key figure in the execution of the imminent invasion understood the reality of God’s sovereignty and the need for a national humbling before Him.

As we consider Britain today, there is complete ignorance of the concept to which Montgomery was referring in his Mansion House speech, namely that of a ‘consecrated nation’. Britain is now in the grips of the virulent anti-Christian creed of wokery and our young people know very little about the immense benefits which Biblical Christianity has brought to this nation. Britain is in such a desperate spiritual condition that we even allow babies to be killed in the mother’s womb, and we reject the most basic creation ordinances of two immutable genders and marriage between one man and one woman only. We are lost in a frenzy of unnecessary climate change anxiety, failing to acknowledge that God controls the climate and the continuation of the seasons (Genesis 8:22). 

The prevailing Cultural Marxism is also opposed to the very concept of sovereign nations with controlled borders, but God Himself has ordained that the world should be divided into such nations. The gospel of Jesus Christ is without doubt Britain’s only hope. The only way to change society for the better is to change the hearts of the sinners within it. It is only righteousness before God can ever again exalt our once so favoured land (Proverbs 14:34). 

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Peter Simpson
Peter Simpson
Pastor Peter Simpson has been Minister of Penn Free Methodist Church in Buckinghamshire since 1990, and is a keen open air preacher. He is the author of a book on World War II entitled ‘When a Nation Prays’, which is currently available on Amazon.

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