'He sealed the enterprise with a spirit of true religion'

by
06 June 2014

The Church Times leader from 9 June 1944, the first edition after the D-Day landings

imperial war museum

Soldiers of the Sherwood Rangers in their tank in Normandy

Soldiers of the Sherwood Rangers in their tank in Normandy

LISTENERS to the King's speech on Tuesday evening heard an utterance of manly sincerity in deep contrast to the apologetic whine and fluffy indecision that too often pass for religious broadcasting.

King George prefaced the invasion of western Europe by the Allies with a simple call to prayer for God's blessing and a direct affirmation that their purpose is to put God's will first. He sealed the enterprise with a spirit of true religion.

As he spoke, news was coming in from the beaches, telling of initial difficulties triumphantly surmounted and unexpectedly small losses in the opening phase; whether owing to surprise or policy, or because the preliminary offices of the air commands had been conducted so efficaciously, the enemy made no very strenuous opposition to the landings, and the Navy put the troops ashore with brilliant organization and dash.

Paratroops, gliders and infantry, tanks and guns and engineers, touched down on French soil four years and a day after the completion of the evacuation from Dunkirk.

By the time that these lines are being read, the fierce local conflicts reported from Caen and elsewhere may have given place to bloody fighting between masses of men and machines.

The Nazis are naturally unwilling to commit their main forces of resistance to the Normandy coast until they have had some chance to judge, first, what is the immediate Allied objective, and, second, whether the present landings are to be followed by others at different points on the north coast of France.

It is clear from the news bulletins, Allied and Nazi, that the Germans are fishing for clues which the Allies have no intention of disclosing. Nothing more precise can be affirmed than that the Allies have occupied a wide stretch of coast between Cherbourg and Le Havre and have penetrated some miles inland.

Their position was well chosen to threaten both ports and to prepare for an advance along the left bank of the Seine with the river guarding their flank. The next week is the crucial period for them to make good their footing and to establish bases.

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