If I had to pick a powerful image from the Second World War it would be the one above. American tank crews of four Sherman M4A2 tanks, heads bowed and hands clasped, with a Chaplin leading them in prayer in Northern France,1945. Quite an amazing image of battle hardened soldiers, crouching in the mud with helmets off, asking the Lord for protection and strength.
They are about to enter Nazi Germany for the first time.
A year prior to this, Allied forces began landing on the beaches of Normandy, June 6, 1944. In the months that followed, the German Army put up stiff resistance, holding the defensive advantage and making the fields of Normandy, the countryside towns of France, and the defensive lines of Belgium and the Netherlands killing grounds.
It was not uncommon for allied soldiers to see their own tanks burnt out or blown in half on the roads and scattered throughout the countryside. For every mile captured, it was paid with the blood of young men fighting for their country and against Nazi tyranny.
(This is a condensed explanation of the events that unfolded from June, 1944 till March 1945).
The Canadian and British armies swept up the coast of Western Europe, while simultaneously the Americans were making their way through lower and central France towards Germany, to meet up with the Anglo forces. As they drew closer to Germany, the casualties were higher and the German army fought desperately.
In March 1945, with all three armies together, the British, Canadian and American forces began inching their way into Germany, at a heavy price.
The number of Allied soldiers killed in battle after entering Germany from the 22 March – until the war in Europe ended on 8 May 1945 is staggering: 14,507 Americans, 1,747 Canadians, 4,878 British, 4, 967 French killed – compared to 5,778 German soldiers killed from 1 March to 20 April, 1945. (Wikipedia)
The average fatality rate from June 1944-1945 was for every three Allied soldiers killed, one German soldier was killed. For the Allied tank crews, the ratio was even higher worse at 10:1. The reason for this was that the German tanks were superior to the Allied tanks, plus the German army were fighting on home soil, so they had double the advantage.
“Dang, Christian! What’s with all the numbers bro and the history lesson? I’m falling asleep man!”
Here’s what I am lining up here.
As the causality rate soared and dire circumstances flared around the globe as a result of the war, the reliance on prayer skyrocketed for many in the armed forces. Below is a excerpt from the book, “Tank – The Definitive Visual History of Armored Vehicles.” by DK and Smithsonian.
History has shown that experienced, motivated, and well-trained crews working technically inferior tanks have beaten superior vehicles crewed by less experienced or less motivated men. As in many other areas of warfare, the effect of motivation, morale, belief, and leadership, however hard to quantify, is of huge importance to a tank crew, and can have an enormous effect on their performance in battle. American crewmen, for instance, in late 1944 or early 1945, could find themselves fighting against superior German tanks – and winning. Later analysis revealed that at this stage of the war German tank crews were indeed insufficiently trained, and so suffered in spite of their own technical superiority. Studies also show that the stress of combat often led men to seek help, guidance, and comfort in religion. Statistics reveal that soldiers’ reliance on prayer rose from 32 percent to 74 percent as the battle intensified.Tank – The Definitive Visual History of Armored Vehicles. DK and Smithsonian. Pages 104-105.(Bolded font from writer)
When we start to lose control over our circumstances, or when it seems that our circumstances are to taking control over us and offer no hope, we can find peace and strength in our prayers and petitions to Jesus Christ our Lord.
There is Power in Prayer.
“338,000 Troops ‘Miraculously’ Saved At Dunkirk”
Long before the Second World War, Dunkirk had its fair share of military activity. In the 17th century, the British Empire saw Dunkirk as a possible threat if it were controlled by the French – due to it’s long flat beaches and shallow waters making it a perfect launching point for an amphibious assault against England. With its strategic importance, both nations squabbled over the town until the French – through a treaty with the English – purchased Dunkirk and built the town into a fortified.
Fast forward to May 26, 1940.
After a decisive defeat by the German army days earlier, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was in full retreat back to the coast of France, after being beaten near Belgium. Thousands of trucks, artillery guns, tanks and supplies were strew about the roads all the way from Belgium to the channel. Now the historic down of Dunkirk was in the spotlight again as it began receiving hundreds and thousands of British and French soldiers hourly. Many of these young men were completely exasperated and had only their firearms (some even without that) and their uniforms.
Hope was fading fast as the allied soldiers massed onto the beaches and formed long lines, while the German army continued to close in. For the British soldiers, seeing the grey waters of the English Channel, and only 74 km from the nearest English port of Dover must have been brutal. On the other side of the channel, the British military command were faced with a devastating possibility: the entire BEF was trapped on the beaches and cornered. The German Luftwaffe (Airforce) were pounding the beaches with bombs and were sinking some of the Royal Navy ships trying to rescue the troops. Time was running out.
While the German High Command boasted with confidence that its troops were ‘proceeding to annihilate the British Army’, Winston Churchill was preparing to announce to the public an unprecedented military catastrophe involving the capture or death of a third of a million soldiers (www.canonjjohn.com).
What seemed like total hopelessness in the natural, something huge was happening in the supernatural.
On the 23rd May, King George VI requested that the following Sunday (May 26) should be observed as a National Day of Prayer. Churches across England were packed with people praying for the safety and deliverance of their troops.
How interesting that while long lines of Christians were praying for their fathers and sons to be delivered…
…long lines of troops were lining the beaches of Dunkirk, waiting anxiously for deliverance.
Two extraordinary things followed.
First, the British Admiralty put out a call to all people of England on Sunday, May 26: if you have a boat, let it be used to rescue those in Dunkirk. So began, as Winston Churchill said “the Miracle of Dunkirk.” Over 800 yachts, fishing boats, pleasure craft and other boats started making their way across the English Channel, crewed by Royal Navy officers and civilians alike, to rescue their soldiers in Dunkirk.
The largest evacuation in history was unfolding, Operation Dynamo.
Something equally as miraculous and unexpected was happening in the German High Command. Historians are still puzzled by this event. Hitler – for reasons only known to God – decided to halt the German army advancement!
Yeah, that’s right. Hitler ordered his army to stop, instead of ‘annihilating’ or defeating the British and French armies. Apparently Herman Goring, the leader of the Luftwaffe, had asked Hitler to let him finish off the British with his planes. Meanwhile, the German generals were trying to convince Hitler to let them continue their advance and deal a crippling blow to the Allies.
For some reason (which I believe was God) Hitler decided to go against the sound reasoning and advice of his Generals and make a totally, absolutely, fatal mistake.
From May 26 to June 4, 1940, a grand total of 338, 226 soldiers were rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk.
Bringing It Home
I believe that those soldiers in Dunkirk were bathed in prayer. Grandparents, Fathers, Mothers, Wives, Aunts and Uncles, Sons and Daughters were praying earnestly for their loved ones.
I don’t like playing with ‘What If’s’, but many historians agree that if Hitler had given the order to capture the allied armies in Dunkirk, rather than stand down his army, it would have crippled Britain and possibly the world we be a different place today.
I believe that through Christians, standing in the gap and praying to God, helped to bring about this outcome.
Here are my thoughts on prayer, briefly mentioned.
I do not believe: 1) That prayer churns up positive vibes that somehow affect your body and make you feel better. 2)That prayers to God fall on deaf ears. 3) That praying to any other god or entity is the same as praying to the God of the Bible. 4) That prayer is just for when you need something.
Here’s what I do believe: 1) I believe that only the God of the Bible hears our prayers. The Bible says, “I AM, the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me (Jesus).” – John 14:6. 2) I believe that prayer is extremely important and vital to our lives. 3) I believe that we should be praying everyday and in every situation, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.” (Philippians 4:6). Lastly, I believe that prayer can change things in the natural and supernatural, when it is aligned with the will of God and reflects His Glory.
I would argue that many people in our society today do not believe in the importance of prayer, and for some, they don’t even believe that God is listening. As one English Reverend said,
The view is (today) that when we may pray, there is no one on the other end of the line. It’s curious how we have come a full circle; in the past, few dared argue with the religious faith that saw the hand of God everywhere; now few dare argue against the atheistic faith that sees God’s hand nowhere.”Reverend J.John, England.
Friends, we need to do a serious 180 degree turn in our society. We need to get back to a Biblical like dependence towards God.
The times aren’t getting easier. We’ve seen COVID disseminate our social systems and economies, leading to a serious uptake in depression and loneliness. In Canada we’ve seen governmental mandates from the Liberal Government that keep shifting and centralizing control and power to itself, rather than benefiting the people. We are witnessing possibly, as President Zelenskyy of Ukraine said last week, the start of World War III. Russia continues to bombard civilian infrastructure and slaughter civilians, terrorizing populations of innocents and fighting a war of terror on Ukraine. I know Christians around the world that are serious about God, are praying fervently for supernatural intervention for Ukraine, and many are actively taking a stand in their communities, much like the people of Britain in 1940.
We need to tap into the most important communication available to us.
Prayer. We got to kick it in overdrive and get serious about it.
Below is one prayer to help you get started.
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
Please share this post with friends and family. I believe this is important for all, especially during this difficult times.