My Father and Winston Churchill

My father served as an officer in the U.S. Navy in World War II. Winston Churchill served as Prime Minister of Great Britain. My father served in the Pacific Fleet. Great Britain is in the Atlantic. My father earned the respect of the 120 men he led as skipper of his warship. Churchill earned the respect of hundreds of millions with his brave leadership against the Axis powers. My father admired Churchill. Churchill never knew that my father existed. “So,” you might be asking, “why is this article is titled the way it is?”

In the providence of God Winston Churchill made a decision that impacted my father’s life. Churchill was concerned about how Allied Forces could successfully invade European beaches and drive out a well-entrenched enemy. For such an invasion, large numbers of troops would have to land on the beaches of Europe with plenty of tanks, supplies, and artillery. This invasion force could not be airlifted in. All the ships that existed in 1940 were too small to land significant numbers of troops at any one time on an enemy beachhead. Like many great men, Churchill was not limited by what did not exist. In 1940 he stated:

” Let there be built great ships which can cast upon a beach, in any weather, large numbers of the heaviest tanks.”

You or I could make such a statement and it would mean little. However, Churchill’s statement became reality. By the end of 1942 twenty-three such great ships were built. By the end of the war, close to a thousand had been launched. They were called Landing Ship Tanks, or LST’s. They were longer than a football field. They were designed to sail across the oceans with large cargoes of men, tanks and other large vehicles, and supplies. Then, when it was time to land, the ships could actually run right up on an enemy beach, open their massive doors and release their cargo directly into the fight. The sailors who served on these ships had another name for the acronym LST: Large Slow Target.

Acts 17:26-28a says:

... and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, . . .

This passage teaches that it is not Winston Churchill or any the other great leaders of mankind who ultimately determine where and when people will live and die. It is God who decides. God used Churchill to order the building of a new class of warship, one that was slow, an easy target, and had little armament. Yet this ship would enable the Allied Forces in the Atlantic and the Pacific to land significant numbers of troops to allow for successful beach invasions. There were over 120,000 sailors who served on those ships in World War II. There were thousands and thousands more who built these ships in new construction yards across the United States. And there were thousands of troops who were carried to their destinations by LST’s. The ship that my father served on, LST 459, was built in Vancouver, Washington. So God used Churchill to change the lives of many thousands of Americans directly and to provide one of the necessary puzzle pieces that would bring victory for the Allied Forces in World War II.

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