The Battle of Dunkrik


Prayer and the Battle of Dunkirk

Dunkirk, a movie by Christopher No​lt was released in the first half of 2017. It tells the story what became known in Britain as “The Miracle of Dunkirk” – a battle in 1940 during the Second World War.

From whatever side you approach the facts of the battle of Dunkirk, there was a supernatural element that doesn’t have any human explanation.

On 10th May 1940, Hitler ​started his military onslaught on France and Belgium. Within days the British Army – outmanoeuvred and unprepared – along with soldiers of other Allied nations, found themselves with their backs to the sea with no escape routes. ​Total destruction of an entire army was certain​. Many military and political leadership of Britain, including Prime Minister Winston Churchill shared this view. He was preparing to announce to the public an unprecedented military catastrophe involving the capture or death of nearly 400 000 soldiers.
On 23rd May, King George VI requested that the following Sunday should be observed as a National Day of Prayer. Late on the Saturday evening the military decision was taken to evacuate as many as possible of the Allied forces. On the Sunday, the nation devoted itself to prayer in an unprecedented way. Eyewitnesses and photographs report​ overflowing congregations in places of worship across the land. Long queues formed outside cathedrals. The same day an urgent request went out for boats of all sizes and shapes to cross the English Channel to rescue the besieged army, a call ultimately answered by around 800 vessels.

In a decision that infuriated his generals and still baffles historians, Hitler ordered his army to halt. Hitler called his generals back to Berlin to discuss this situation. This was simply one of history’s mysteries which doesn’t have any human explanation. Had they continued to advance, the destruction of the Allied forces would have been inevitable and the war would have taken a different, darker and more terrible path. Yet for three days the German tanks and soldiers stood idle while the evacuation unfolded.

​Bad weather grounded the German Luftwaffe (air force), allowing Allied soldiers to march unhindered to the beaches. In contrast, on Wednesday the sea was extraordinarily calm, making the perilous evacuation less hazardous. By the time the German Army was finally ordered to renew its attack, over 338,000 troops had been snatched from the beaches, including 140,000 French, Belgian, Dutch and Polish soldiers.

Sunday 9th June was declared a National Day of Thanksgiving and, encouraged by Churchill himself, the phrase ‘the miracle of Dunkirk’ began to circulate.

There are just too many cases in history where Christians unitedly called on God, to ignore the reality of the power of prayer in national and international affairs. Dunkirk is one of those extraordinary examples of the results of people crying to God in times of need. It is as if one can see the history of divine interventions in the Old Testament.

​Canon J. John wrote:​ Dunkirk may have been a military epic that should be remembered but, far more importantly, it is an encouragement to pray.

About the author

Bennie Mostert
By Bennie Mostert