It’s been good to spend some time thinking about D Day again because the more I learn the more I am amazed by all that happened on that fateful day in June 1944.

Take the story of Bill Millin for example. He was the Scottish bagpiper who led his fellow soldiers on to the beaches “completely unarmed”. His survival was surely miraculous.

Having said that, we could argue that the entire D Day event was nothing short of miraculous. David Gardiner suggests this in ‘Great Miracles of Deliverance’. He writes from an unapologetically Christian perspective of course, but we can take his account seriously given what legendary flying ace Douglas Bader wrote in the Foreword: ‘One might suggest that he adjusts historical events to suit his convictions. This would not be true’. Given the fact that Bader lived and served so notably through that tumultuous period in our history I am very happy to trust his judgement.

The weather clearly played a crucial role in the success of the D Day landings and forecasting the best time for a seaborne landing must have been a meteorologist’s nightmare given the fact that they were experiencing ‘the windiest month in Normandy for at least 20 years.’ In fact, Gardiner says that weather experts at Supreme Headquarters calculated that ‘the chances were about 50 to 1 against weather, tide and moon being favourable for all services: land, sea and air’. This had clear advantages of course. It meant that enemy defences could be lulled into a sense of false security, and it seems that this is just what seems to have happened.

Remarkably, and thankfully, the Supreme Commander General Eisenhower postponed the invasion of France planned for the 5th and then ordered that it should take place on the 6th on the advice of his British chief forecaster Group Captain James Stagg. Unlike Eisenhower’s American advisers, this ‘tenacious’ Scot together with his British colleagues seems to have understood the jet stream in a way that other meteorologists didn’t. He certainly knew his stuff because, according to one researcher, the storm that took place on June 5 was one of the biggest for a hundred years.

Addressing a crowd in his hometown some eight years later, Eisenhower said that postponing the invasion for at least 24 hours had been the ‘most agonising decision’ of his life, but he then went on to say “If there was nothing else in my life to prove the existence of an Almighty and Merciful God the events of the next 24 hours did it. The greatest break in a terribly outlay of weather occurred the next day and allowed that great invasion to proceed with losses far below those we had anticipated.”

I can’t help but think that this was related to fact that there was a much greater awareness of the importance of prayer in the 1940’s. King George VI certainly believed in it and the nation was called to prayer on some seven occasions. It’s worth asking then, if James Stagg’s presence and advice for example was a mere coincidence or a wonderful ‘God-incidence’? You must answer that question for yourself, but as you do you might find it helpful to remember these words of former Archbishop of Canterbury. “When I pray” he said, “coincidences happen. When I don't, they don't.”