King's call sparked a real Dunkirk miracle
Across our towns and cities, the blockbuster film Dunkirk is creating great interest and fascination. There is, however, one major fact not mentioned in the film.
Many of those who see it will be interested to learn that the situation was actually so desperate that King George VI called for a National Day of Prayer on May 26, 1940. In a national broadcast, he asked the people to pray for God's help. Thousands of services were held and people poured into churches to pray.
Two significant events immediately followed. Firstly, a violent storm arose over the Dunkirk region, grounding the Luftwaffe, which had been killing thousands on the beaches. Secondly, a great calm descended on the Channel, the like of which hadn't occurred for a generation, enabling the hundreds of tiny boats to rescue 338,000 soldiers, rather than the estimated 30,000.
It was the timing of these events immediately after the Prayer Day which led people to speak of 'the miracle of Dunkirk' and Sunday, June 9 was officially appointed as a Day of National Thanksgiving. Looking back at this and other events, the Bishop of Chelmsford wrote: "If ever a great nation was on the point of supreme and final disaster, and yet was saved and reinstated it was ourselves... it does not require an exceptionally religious mind to detect in all this the hand of God."
At the end of 1942, after the tide had turned in the war, Churchill was moved to say: "I sometimes have a feeling of interference, I want to stress that. I have a feeling sometimes that some guiding hand has interfered."
Rev J Willans