Life Lessons From History: Miracle at Dunkirk
Miracle at Dunkirk.jpg
The British were defeated in the Battle of Belgium which left them stranded on the coast. Can you see Dunkirk on the map?

“I can’t wait to see Dunkirk!” Jimmy exclaimed, looking up from his laptop. 

“I love Christopher Nolan’s movies,” Zack agreed.

“Oh, is that about the Miracles at Dunkirk during World War II?” I asked. I don’t know who Christopher Nolan is. “I hope they honor Christ–He certainly intervened in Dunkirk!” 

The young men both looked at me. 

​”I’m not sure they will, Mom,” Jimmy admitted. 

I watched Dunkirk and was so disappointed. Why is God always rewritten out of history?

We are studying 20th Century history this year learned about the Miracle of Dunkirk, It is just one example that reminds us decisively that God still intervenes in the lives of men. He is the God of Miracles! Let me tell you the real story of the Miracle of Dunkirk. (This is taken directly from HIS Story of the 20th Century​).

The textbook, HIS Story of the 20th Century covers world history decade by decade opening each chapter with a fictional snapshot to grab the student’s attention to give a feel for the decade and timeline info at the beginning of each decade section. The are fun history labs at the end of every chapter. We have suggestions for movies and living books for each decade. The textbook is written in a conversational style–perfect for reading aloud to all ages or fun to read alone. ​There are two workbooks, one for high school (HIS Story of the 20th Century High School Workbook) and one for middle school (HIS Story of the 20th Century Middle School Workbook), containing end-of-chapter questions, hands-on-activities, timelines with timeline figures, that go with the textbook. ​Oh, and don’t forget the cookbook (HIS Story of the 20th Century Cookbook). History is always more fun with food! You will find mouth-watering recipes from all over the world popular in the 20th Century.  

In May 1940, Hitler launched his blitzkrieg, or lightening attacks, against Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands who surrendered to Germany. German occupation forces moved in to make life miserable for the Belgians, Dutch, and Luxembourgers.

Now, British troops were already in France to help defend France and Belgium. Then the unthinkable occurred with German forces moving rapidly through France, trapping British, French, and Belgian troops on the shores of the English Channel by May 21, 1940.

The war was not looking good for the British.

British troops escaping in life boats

The German High Command was gleeful. They had the British encircled. Would the war be over so quickly with a decisive German victory?

Things looked bad, but then there was the Lord who answers prayers! 🙂 🙂

The only option for the British was to evacuate at Dunkirk. Can you find Dunkirk on the map? It is on the French coast. For some unknown reason, the German troops were ordered to halt on May 22. This halt order gave the trapped soldiers time to build defensive works and get many troops to Dunkirk. This was the first miracle.

By the 24th, German troops were close, surrounding Calais. Hitler planned to have Luftwaffe, German Air Force, fly over the Allies, drop bombs, and destroy them.

King George VI called for a National Day of Prayer on May 26. He attended the service at Westminster Abbey with his family. All over Great Britain, people went to church to pray for a miracle. So many people came out to church that there were long lines of people outside Westminster Abbey who could not get in.[i]
 
On the first day of the evacuation (May 26), there were less than 4,000 men evacuated. On May 28, two days after the National Day of Prayer, a huge storm blew over the entire land area, preventing planes from taking off. The Luftwaffe would not be able to wipe out the British troops. This was the second miracle.

Battle of Dunkirk.jpg

Despite the horrible storm over the land, an incredible calm settled over the English Channel. This allowed even tiny boats to sail easily back and forth across the English Channel. This was the third miracle.

​By June 3, over 300,000 men had been evacuated to England. How did it happen? Of the 800 ships, only 39 were military ships. Hundreds of merchant marine boats, fishing boats, pleasure boats, and lifeboats carried the soldiers across. All kinds of sailors helped out with the mission. This was the fourth miracle.

Newspaper reporting on the miracle at Dunkirk

While the men were waiting for the boats to evacuate them, they were bombarded with machine gun fire and bombs. One chaplain was lying on the sand on the beach as gun fire and bombs exploded. When he finally realized that he was alive and stood up, he saw bullet holes outlining the shape of his body. There had not been a single casualty. This was the fifth miracle.[ii]  

On Sunday, June 9, 1940, a National Day of Thanksgiving was declared. Winston Churchill called Dunkirk a miracle of Deliverance. At the service, the choir and congregation sang Psalm 124. “’Had it not been the Lord who was on our side,’ Let Israel now say, ‘Had it not been the Lord who was on our side when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive, When their anger was kindled against us; then the waters would have engulfed us, the stream would have swept over our soul; then the raging waters would have swept over our soul.’ Blessed be the Lord, Who has not given us to be torn by their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper; the snare is broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.(NASB)”[iii]

Do you see how God intervened? ​The miracles that took place during World War II as direct answers to prayer that allowed Winston Churchill to to call the evacuation at Dunkirk “a miracle of deliverance.”

Of course, Prime Minister Churchill admitted that wars are not won by evacuations and he realized that Hitler had plans to invade the British Isle. In response to Hitler’s dastardly plan, Prime Minister Churchill gave his famous “We Shall Never Surrender” speech.

Here is a taste of this speech: 

“We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.”

You can listen to Winston Churchill’s speech here on Youtube. 

From this scenario in history, we learn that sometimes God’s miracle is to remove us from a dangerous situation so that we can come back later to fight and win the battle. If you are desperate with your back against the wall–PRAY! Ask God to deliver you! He just might send help in an unexpected way–like little boats across the English Channel!

Oh, I don’t want to forget to tell you about HIS Story of the 20th Century, a living textbook with hands-on learning, living books, timeline fun, and history labs so you can learn 20th Century history decade by decade the fun way!

HIS Story of the 20th Century
HIS Story of the 20th CenturyLiving Book Textbook, each chapter starts with a fictional snapshot to give you a taste of life in that decade. You will not only discover people, events, inventions, and breakthroughs of the 20th Century, you will be inspired in your faith because the Lord was moving in the 20th Century, just as he still is today.
If you want to go beyond the facts, to discover the stories and people, this is the course for you! You will learn the what, where, when, why, and how of major and minor events in the 20th Century.

Until next time, Happy Homeschooling!

Meredith Curtis

[i] Gardner, David E. “The Miracle at Dunkirk: 70 Years On”. Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands. Posted May 28, 2010. Web. Accessed June 13, 2015. < christianstogether.net/Articles/200052/Christians_Together_in/Christian_Life/The_Miracle_of.aspx  >
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Ibid.  

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