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  1918 A.D.:  The White Cavalry of Bethune

  In the pages of the Bible it is no especially uncommon thing for God to send heavenly soldiers to aid His people Israel in the defense of their land.  Usually the enemy merely hears the sound of these unseen heavenly armies and their horses, and panics.  But sometimes these angelic hosts are seen by the enemy as well.

  But how sad and truly Godless an age we live in that it should not be common knowledge to us all that this remarkable sort of thing has happened even in our own modern times.  God has never quit working - man has simply almost ceased to recount His wonderous works from days both ancient and recently passed.  But the men and women of this generation are starting to change that.  We are remembering to learn of God's deeds, and we are recounting them.  We are mentioning them at school, at work, at the family table, and at family gatherings.  Our preachers, pastors, priests, ministers and leaders are speaking of them to gathered believers at times.  They are not the Gospel, which is greater and well preserved.  But knowledge of the deeds of God has an important place both in personal faith and for outreach to non-believers.    

  Here is an account to consider, and you can easily investigate it more by searching the internet or going to a library.  At first I coupled it with two other lesser known accounts, but I ended up not having as much confidence in those accounts. This one I merely share as I found it.  I wish I could gather more info about it.  It's somewhat recent, so I would like to find more substantiation than I have.  But....it has been around a pretty long while and I continue to keep my eye out for reasons to confirm it more strongly, or remove it.  I'd be glad to hear from readers, the E-mail address is on the Deeds of God front page.        

  It was Europe, July 1918, near the end of Worl War I, and the facing trench lines where this event occurred were between the town of Ypres (Flanders, Belgium) and the French towns of Arras and Bailleul (and also Bethune).  The British in this section of the front lines had been facing a witheringly intense concentration of artillery barrage and machine gun fire.  The Germans had big plans, it appeared, of breaking through into France through this section of the front line, and they were pounding the crud out of the British soldiers in the trenches. 

  The Brits were in weak shape.  They had not had any relief soldiers to use, so the same shell shocked men had been trying to hold the lines for a very long time with no relief and with little sleep because of the frequent - almost constant - attacks upon their trenches.   The Portugese had just joined the conflict, and there was some hopefulness felt when a fair sized contingent of rather untried Portugese soldiers showed up in the area.  Like any new troops, you wanted to sort of ease them into battle - it's rough as can be on men.  (I was in the Navy, and have never faced battle, so I won't try to act the expert.  But it's well and widely known that the first time you're in combat is a pretty impacting experience for most.)  Due to the great need, however, British commanders quickly used these newly arrived Portugese to man a section of British defended trench so that the British men formerly defending it could drop back for some much needed rest.

  But the British Commanders knew that fresh and relatively untested troops were not necessarily a great replacement for experienced, battle hardened men, and the Germans, who had observed the arrival of the Portugese reinforcements were no less aware of it.  The Germans were well trained, and wise in the ways of war.

  So the Germans struck and struck hard at the section held by these new Portugese troops, and adjacent sections as well, firing so many rounds that British Intelligence Officer Cecil Whitewick Hayward, more than three miles away in a small town ideal for observing the maneuvers of the Germans, recorded that the dirt shook even where he was.   It was a thunderous attack on weary and still unrelieved British troops, and the unseasoned but fresh Portugese.  The Portugese troops, unused to such a horrendous attack, finally retreated in great disorder, many dropping their guns and equipment and just fleeing for their lives.  They were plenty brave, but green - they just got overwhelmed.   

   The Germans quickly boiled out forward from their trenches, and gained most of the ground referred to as no-man's-land, the land between the trenches. Trenches full of overmatched British troops stubbornly held their place, but they were in great danger of being surrounded by Germans, who were close to being able to flank them on both sides.  It looked very bad indeed. 

  But the intensity of the fighting in this area of France, and its dire importance to the outcome of the war was known of by all English speaking peoples, and there had been much intense prayer from both Britain and its sister nations, and also from churches across the pond in the United States (America had entered the war, and American troops were even then crossing the Atlantic and would soon come in the tens of thousands....but that wouldn't help on this day.  The American troops, I mean.  They wouldn't matter for a few more weeks.  But the prayer.....it mattered a lot, even at this very moment!) 

  As Captain Cecil Whitewick Hayward advanced on foot quickly and stealthily forward towards the battle lines to assess the situation, to gauge the severity of this latest furious German offensive, he eventually came upon a British Sargeant who waved his helmet until he got the Captain's attention, and when the Captain managed to link up with him, the Sargeant told him a startling thing:  "Fritz has gone out of his mind, sir!  They're peppering naked ground.  What in the world is this good for?"

   And peering over the hill at the battle going on in the distance, Captain Hayward saw that the Sargeant was right.  The Germans had shifted the object of their blistering artillery and machine gun fire to an open bench of ground near the shattered remains of the town of Bethune, plainly visible below Captain Hayward and the Sargeant, and they were pouring out all sorts of firepower onto.....empty open ground.  They had redirected their shelling of the British troops trying to hold out in the trenches, and shifted it with a fury to an open field where they were firing like lunatics upon nothing but plants and dirt, as if they were being attacked from there.  The Sargeant and the Captain could watch the puffs of dirt rising from all over the field, and see the pits caused by the shelling.  It was incomprehensible to them.  Not a soul was out there to fire at.

  Then suddenly there was silence, and to their amazement they watched this seasoned and veteran force of experienced, well ordered German troops drop their guns and their haversacks in many cases, and just flee the battle field in what seemed to be open terror.  Captain Hayward recounted that at the same moment a lark flew up, in the silence, from very near to them and sang with such remarkable beauty that he thought he would never forget it.

  The British quickly took advantage to reclaim the ground and their trenches, because for the moment the Germans had no desire to contest the battle further.  A sweep of the land that the Germans had momentarily occupied netted a small number of German prisoners.  Among them were two German officers - Officers of the Prussian Gaurd. These were interrogated within a fairly short time, as there was extremely keen interest on the part of Capt. Hayward and other British Commanders to find out just what was the cause of all the craziness that they witnessed on the part of the Germans.  The answer was scarce to be believed, but in the course of the following weeks, additional Germans were captured who produced versions of the same startling story which hardly varied.  Their claim was this:

  In the midst of their intense shelling of the British trenches and their brick shattering attack on the small town of Bethune, the smoke over the open field involved had cleared, and the Germans had observed a surprising thing; they saw a group of British cavalry was making its way across the field in splendid and fearless fashion, moving slowly and with dignity.  All of the soldiers wore white uniforms, and each was mounted on a white horse.

  The officer commented that when they first saw the force, they assumed that it must be some British colonial force, since they had not known the British to have units which wore an all white uniform, or which rode all white horses.

  In front of them rode their leader, and he cut a remarkably splendid figure - his appearance was magnificent.  He wore no helmet, but his blond hair sparkled like a large golden halo all around his head, brilliant in the sun.  In his hand he held a large bright sword, and in his other, the reigns of his horse.  They were all coming onward towards the German troops, the German officer said, "remoreless as fate, as the incoming tide." 

  The Germans shifted their machine gun fire and their artillery barrage onto this magnificent group of horsemen, and they blasted the oncoming white cavalrymen with everything they had.  But though their fire and rounds landed where they wished them to, every time the dust cleared they saw the same thing:  on came the horsemen, unwounded, undeterred, slowly and with frightening purpose.  The German rounds had no affect.  Not even these men's horses were frightened.  They were inhuman - unstoppable.  They came onwards without pause.  And the Germans found the sight of the leader quite frightening in some regard which was difficult to explain.

  It was too much for the Germans, (probably would have been for anyone) and they broke and fled the field.

  The German officer first being interrogated admitted that, in his estimation, "There may still be fighting, but the German army is broken.  We have lost the war.  It is the White cavalry.  We are broken."

  When the Germans fled, the sight of the White cavalry disappeared.  Though multiple Germans were eventually to give the same story about the unexplainable appearance of the White Cavalry, not a single British soldier claimed to have seen even a glimpse of this heavenly fighting force.  It was for the enemies' eyes only.  To the British onlookers, there was only the sight of the Germans going mad and pouring out torrents of fire power upon an empty field.

  That is a condensation of the little remembered account of the White cavalry, and a truly great fairly recent account it is.

  God has done much, done it all through the centuries, and still is doing it today.  Mighty beyond measure is Yahweh, gracious and merciful indeed for having sent His only Son Jesus as the sacrificial 'Lamb of God', so that fallen, sinful and unworthy mankind has been given one last precious chance to accept Christ, follow Him, and be brought by His righteousness to the place called Heaven, a place that we are by no means good enough to attain to by our own virtue.  And we might even hope for a home there!!  How good is God??  Let's not ignore so great a gift!  No other God can save like our God!!

        

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