The Germans had already annexed Austria. Next came Czechoslovakia. Then the German blitzkrieg rolled across Poland like a giant tsunami. Come the following spring — 1940 — country after country would be inundated by the German might: Norway, Denmark, Belgium, The Netherlands, and finally France.
But after Poland, everything stopped. Or seemed to stop. And so began the "Phony War," a title taken from a comment by U.S. Senator William Borah. There were a few naval battles, when Winston Churchill (later Sir Winston) was First Lord of the Admiralty. But little else.
But Churchill, and some others, knew what was likely to come next. And knew it would be terrible.
Christmas, 1939. King George VI of England prepares his message for Britain, the Commonwealth and the world. The King's Christmas Message is a tradition which his father has started. What can he say for Christmas, in so difficult a time, to being some hope, reassurance, and cheer?
Eventually, he finds the words. And he includes a poem by a teacher at the London School of Economics, Minnie Louise Haskins.
And I said to the man
who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness
and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light
and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God,
trod gladly into the night.
For the background to this post, check here and here.