G.F. Vallance



Chapter 1



As we look back and view, in their true perspective, the momentous happenings of the past five years,[1] there are three things which stand out in striking relief.


No thoughtful man or woman, who has witnessed them can possibly have failed to have noticed their import, whatever maybe their reaction to them.


Firstly, there is the remarkable fact that, time and time again, the forces of war have surged forward at an amazing speed, only to reach some point where it seemed an unseen "Hand" said, "Thus far and no further shalt thou come."

  I well remember hearing a B.B.C. Announcer say one evening:
 "This is the 100th day since the German Assault on Stalingrad, and the 38th day since Adolph Hitler declared that they would take the City,




Assault after Assault had been launched, Division after Division thrown in, yet by some almost super-human power STALINGRAD remained in Russian hands.


A Military spokesman declared at the time, that Stalingrad "was nothing short of a Miracle."


But Stalingrad is not alone in this.  Nearly twelve months earlier, Moscow and Leningrad had had a similar story to tell.


The tide that had swept in like a flood, was strangely restrained at the eleventh hour, and never permitted to succeed in its final object.


Do you remember also early in 1942 how that the Japanese swept forward in their rapid conquest of Malay, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, etc. and almost to the shores of Australia - BUT NOT QUITE?


It seemed as though some unseen Voice said, as at Stalingrad, "Thus far, but NO farther."


Then too, remember how Malta, under that courageous Christian gentleman, Governor and C. in C., of the Island, Gen. Sir Wm. Dobbie, endured 1000 air attacks, and more, BUT, LIKE STALINGRAD, MALTA STILL STANDS.


How near Malta was to defeat we have since learned; but "Something" or "Someone" just kept final defeat away.


"Italy made a colossal military blunder in failing to invade Malta," said Lieut. Gen. Sir William Dobbie, in 1943.


"The only explanation for it, which fitted the facts," he said, "was that God's restraining Hand was upon them, just as it was on the Germans when they failed to invade Britain after Dunkirk.  That, too, was a colossal military blunder," said the General.


Of course the many campaigns in Libya and Egypt are fresh in all our minds.  The Allied forces way sweep forward to Benghazi and beyond, but they reach a certain point then something seems to say again, "Thus far and no farther."  The enemy smashes back, and with amazing speed drives our forces back past Tobruk, and even beyond Masa Matru, to within a few miles of Alexandria-their objective.  But when almost there, again that mysterious "Something" bars the way.


So near-BUT YET, NOT QUITE: That "Restraining Hand" Had again made itself felt.


Was it not Air-Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding (in command of the R.A.F. at the Battle of Britain) who has since declared, speaking of that event:

  "I say with absolute conviction that I can trace the intervention of God, not only in the battle itself, but in the events that led up to it.


If it HAD NOT BEEN FOR THIS INTERVENTION, the battle would have been joined in conditions which, humanly speaking, would have rendered victory impossible."

Whilst Lord Bennett said at Westminster recently:


"Some day you will learn the full details of the condition of our Air Force on the day after the Germans lost 185 machines.  If they had followed up the next day we were through"


Almost you see, but not quite.


How many of our prominent Statesmen have commented, with amazement, upon the fact that, after the Collapse of France and the evacuation of Dunkirk, when our cupboard was bare (to use Lord Beaverbrook's own expression); the German Hordes, not thirty miles away, did not descend upon us an avalanche and overpower us, in our weakness.


More than one speaker has, as good as said, that some unknown mysterious, uncanny power seemed to be holding back the forces of evil, at that crucial moment, when Victory was practically their's for the taking.  Mr. Churchill himself said, when speaking to the Miners of our Nation on 3lst October, 1942:


"I have a feeling that some Guiding Hand has interfered.  I have the feeling that we had a Guardian because we serve a great cause, and that we shall have that Guardian so long as we serve that cause faithfully."


"We had no weapons, tanks or munitions left, worth speaking of" said Lord Beaverbrook, "our Army was broken, and there were very few Aircraft in reserve."


But for that restraining Hand, certain disaster must have been our lot.


And who can say how near a like disaster we may have been upon many another occasion, unknown perhaps to ourselves even, but that "Restraining Hand" has intervened.


To what extent our shipping losses have restrained both us and our enemies, possibly only our Leaders will ever know. But here again just when our Shipping losses were at their worst, and our Food situation looked, to say the leas, difficult: hear the words of our Minster of Agriculture, the Rt. Hon. R.S. Hudson.


"But this also I would say to you, in humility and seriousness: much hard work and technical skill have played their parts in these mighty yields, among the richest of all time, BUT I BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A HIGHER POWER TO THANK AS WELL, AND FROM THE DEPTHS OF OUR HEARTS. Some Power wrought a miracle in English harvest fields this summer, for this in our year of greatest need, the land gave us bread in greater abundance than we had ever known before.”


Yes, that Restraining Hand had again been in evidence even over climatic conditions, to give us "The best Harvest ever."


I repeat, it all seems uncanny, even sinister, that when Might and Force have expended themselves to their utmost and done their worst, some mysterious over-ruling power unseen, and shall I say (for the moment) unknown, has usurped a mightier power than Sword, Tank, or Aircraft.


The most recent illustration, as these lines are penned (in May 1944), is the Italian Battle front at Cassino, of which we shall have more to say later.


All classes and conditions of men have commented upon these things from leading Statesmen, as we have seen, to Dr. H.A.Wilson, the Bishop of Chelmsford, who wrote at the end of 1943:


"As we look back on the dying year, we see that it has been crowded with the plainest token of God's favour towards us.  The most amazing feature of this war, is the way in which God has intervened at the last moment again and again, when disaster faced our cause.  The list of mercies is a long and varied one-Dunkirk, Battle of Britain, El Alamein, the U-boar War, Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad.


On each of these occasions the enemy's fingers were touching a great victory, and each time, at the eleventh hour, he failed to seize it.


In General Marshall's report of the progress of the first two years of the war occurs an extremely interesting sentence.  Describing the preparation for the African invasion, he says it was found that all the British and American air forces, except a few long-range bombers and the small number of carrier based planes, "had to be funneled through the single restricted field at Gibraltar which could have been put out of action in less than an hour." The New York "Times" says that this sentence adds one more to the famous "ifs" of history, for "if" the Nazis had know it, and had bombed the Gibraltar field, the Algerian and Tunisian campaigns would have been impossible. What effect would this have had on the course of the war?  But there are no "IFS" with God.  He knows the end from the beginning, and He is both God of history and Lord of circumstance and detail.

I will come back to this them in a later chapter, but let me now draw your attention to the second fact referred to in my opening remarks, which the past five years have thrown into striking relief.  It is this:-

Have you noticed how large a part "The Weather" has played in all the Major operations of the War, as well as its minor details, whether on Land, Sea, or in the Air?  Of course you have! These I therefore purpose detailing in my next Chapter, in the form of a rough Diary of events, so that their striking significance may be the more impressive.


But before doing so let me draw your attention to the third of these three facts, which is equally impressive. It is, that after each Day, which has been set apart for National Prayer (with one exception), there has been a remarkable corresponding victory or series of Victory. Call it "Co-Incidence" if you will, but the fact remains, that they have followed, in each case, a Day of National Prayer.  The one exception, will itself be
dealt with in due course.

The purpose of this volume is therefore, to set forth, firstly some of the happenings of these past five years, in rough Diary form, and then to seek to draw some inferences from them, with the purpose of rightly judging their values and assessing their true import.

[1] Written in 1944.