So Shall The Lord of Hosts Defend

Today, offices of the Ford Motor Company stand on a site that in 1940 was occupied by the depot barracks of the Essex Regiment.

In the early days of the Battle of Britain, when large forces of German aircraft raided Britain, I was a serving soldier stationed at Warley Barracks, near Brentwood in Essex.

There was a daylight raid one morning when the sky towards the east, on the line of the Thames towards the coast, was dark with a vast formation of enemy planes. When the foremost of the formation was only a very few miles away, a small squadron of British fighter planes appeared, climbing steeply from one of the several fighter stations in the neighbourhood.

Within minutes, the fighters were engaging the leading approaching bombers and immediately causing some confusion at the head of the formation. This confusion spread rapidly rearwards of the leading aircraft and very soon the enemy began to scatter in disarray and it became difficult to distinguish them in the general mêlée. It was not long before the entire German formation turned and made off towards the North Sea.

About an hour later I was in the main guardroom of the barracks when a small party of Essex Regiment soldiers arrived escorting a prisoner. The prisoner was a young German airman, a member of the crew of a bomber which had been brought down only a mile or so away. He had baled out and was virtually unharmed; a young man in his early twenties and speaking tolerably good English. He was asked: "Why did you all turn and run when there were so many of you and there were only half a dozen or so British Spitfires against you?"

The German stared in astonishment for a moment and then shouted angrily:

"Half a dozen? You mean six fighters? No! There were hundreds of them! Hundreds!"

A subsequent German radio announcement said that the bomber attack on London had met with very large numbers of defending aircraft.

Angels of Mons? White cavalry?

In 1972 we surrendered our sovereignty. Today our national integrity is under attack.

"Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved." PSALM 80:19

by Rev. Victor S. Harper, Chaplain

Source: ‘Wake Up!' magazine, August/October 1990