As our Nation commemorates this special anniversary on 6th June, let’s remember that there wouldn’t have been a D Day, without the successful evacuation of Allied Forces from Dunkirk four years earlier.

At that time over 350,000 Allied troops were trapped across the Channel by the German Army and if they couldn’t be rescued, the UK would have been invaded. Britain was on the verge of defeat.

There could be no help from other European Countries and America hadn’t even entered the War.

What happened next may seem strange to today’s generation, but to the people of Wartime Britain it was perfectly natural. King George 6th broadcast an urgent message to the Nation, declaring May 26th to be a special Day of National Prayer and urged everyone to pray for Divine Intervention.

In response to his call, millions of people attended special church services, pleading for deliverance. At one point the response was so great that the queue of people trying to get into Westminster Abbey stretched for a quarter of a mile.

Two events occurred straight after this National Day of Prayer. Firstly, a violent storm arose over the Dunkirk region grounding the Luftwaffe which had been killing thousands on the beaches. And then secondly, a great calm descended on the Channel, the like of which hadn’t been seen for a generation. It was in fact this Channel calm, coming at that precise time, which permitted hundreds of tiny boats to sail across and help rescue 335,000 soldiers.

These two events happening when they did were so dramatic, that people named it “The miracle of Dunkirk” and Sunday June 9th was officially appointed as a Day of National Thanksgiving. The Bishop of Chelmsford Dr H.A. Wilson 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.”

D Day took place on 6th June 1944, exactly four years after Dunkirk. Allied Forces were once again in France, this time with the aim of liberating Europe from Nazism.

As we commemorate this special 80th anniversary and reflect on lives lost to bring freedom, let us remember that it wouldn’t have happened without “The miracle of Dunkirk”.

Rev J Willans

The Vicarage, Leigh

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