TODAY is Battle of Britain Day. Would that it held a greater prominence in our national life. Let us consider why commemoration of this battle is so important.
The aerial conflict known as the Battle of Britain had been raging since July 10, 1940, but a particularly severe and crucial push was made by the Luftwaffe on September 15, when the German bombers had more fighter support than ever before. Goering was hoping that this enormous wave of bombing would constitute the final blow to Britain’s defences. So on the 15th, the skies all over southern England became one gigantic battlefield, and Fighter Command’s resources were stretched to the utmost limit.
Despite the enemy’s huge numbers, many of their aircraft failed to reach their targets in London, hindered as they were by the RAF’s Spitfires and Hurricanes. Sixty German planes were shot down upon this day, and this was enough to ensure that the Luftwaffe failed to achieve its goal of inflicting a killer blow upon London and of knocking out the RAF’s defensive capability.
Hitler had been planning to launch an invasion attempt on the back of this blow. However in the previous two weeks the weather in the English Channel had been very poor for the time of year, making conditions quite unsuitable for German invasion barges to be launched. The combined circumstances caused Hitler, on September 17, to postpone the invasion of Britain indefinitely.
In the days leading up to September 15 Hitler had made an appalling strategic blunder. Instead of pressing home its advantage against the beleaguered RAF airfields, the Luftwaffe began an all-out attack on London on September 7. The Germans were hoping that by flattening the capital the nation would be demoralised and brought to its knees, but by not continuing to target the airfields the Luftwaffe gave the RAF an urgently needed breathing space to make repairs and put in replacements.
This writer submits that all these concurring developments constitute the direct hand of the God who ordains the outcome of battles. On Sunday September 8 there was a national Day of Prayer, called for by the King. This day of intercession was strongly supported up and down the land. Vast queues formed snake-like shapes in the roads and squares around Westminster Abbey, and churches all over the country were filled as a humbled people cried out to the Lord for deliverance.
The man in charge of the whole RAF operation during the Battle of Britain, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, said subsequently: ‘I pay homage to those gallant boys who gave their all that our nation might live. I pay tribute to their leaders and commanders; but I say with absolute conviction that I can trace the intervention of God, not only in the Battle itself, but in the events which led up to it.’
We should consider the events of 1940 in the light of God’s providence, and we must apply the vital lessons to our own day. Contemporary Britain in all its obsessively liberal and secularist political correctness should consider the truth that the destiny of nations is moulded by the hand of the God who manifests Himself in the Lord Jesus Christ. We need above all else to humble ourselves before Him.