The Parish of Sandal Magna

The Power of Prayer


Two weeks after the launch of the German Blitzkrieg, the British army was encircled and seemed doomed to to be captured. King George V called for a day of National Prayer on Sunday 26th May. Crowds flocked to churches and cathedrals throughout the land to petition God in earnest prayer.

There followed a series of extraordinary events. First Hitler inexplicably halted the German advance just ten miles from Dunkirk. Secondly a violent storm on the 28th May ground the Luftwaffe and enabled troops to reach the beech. Third, a dead calm followed which enabled boats of all shapes and sizes to assist in the evacuation. Churchill had expected only 30,000 troops to be saved. In the end over 330,000 trained troops returned to resume the fight later on after sufficient recovery time.

On 8th June the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards who had been evacuated from Dunkirk, mustered behind St Helen’s Church to count the killed and missing. Among those missing was Lance-Corporal Nicholls from Leeds who was award the VC for a courageous counter-attack on 21 May, before being captured.

Sunday 9th June was declared to be a Day of National Thanksgiving, and the Battalion gathered in St Helen’s Church for worship, during which Psalm 124 was sung, which includes the verses; 
"We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken, and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth."

The battalion then recovered with the help of the hospitality of Wakefield citizens with whom the troops were billeted. Eventually they would become part of Montgomery’s 8th Army pursuing Rommel through North Africa and engaging in the attritional battle through Italy.

A plaque commemorating the events of 8 and 9th June, 1940 will be dedicated at 11am on Saturday 9th June in St Helen’s Church prior to being placed on the wall alongside the church path. Anyone is welcome to attend this special event.

Rupert




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