Walk along the beach from Aldwick to Pagham at low tide, and you will encounter a little piece of history. It is constructed from steel-reinforced concrete, partly covered in the sand, and is gently rusting into oblivion. Barnacles and limpets have made their homes here. Nearly eighty years of storms have knocked it about, and one end has broken away. This section was wrecked on the Sussex shore after breaking free from its moorings.
It’s part of a mulberry.
Built for the Normandy invasion of 1944, concrete floating harbours were constructed to allow safe landing of troops and supplies in between D-Day and the capture of useable French ports. Codenamed “Mulberry,” the operation was prepared in secret and proved invaluable in the Liberation of Europe. Towed across the Channel, the units were assembled in situ. Larger sections of “Mulberry B” are still visible at Arromanches. Over 2 million soldiers, half a million vehicles (including tanks), and four million tons of supplies came ashore on these ingenious harbours- and insured the success of the invasion forces.
Now this little piece of history is a curiosity, and mostly forgotten. But it had a vital purpose, and was part of a campaign that changed the world.
As has been said before, if we forget our history we are doomed to repeat it.
Changing to a personal perspective, it’s just over four years since I “floated ashore” in Sussex, retiring early because of health problems, and settling down to rust in piece (before the eventual and inevitable “Resting in Peace” that awaits all mortal flesh!).
But being obstinate and optimistic, I have chosen to continue my life-purpose rather than rust away. The scale of operations may be smaller, and less “formal” – but this Christ-follower is still following, still encouraging others, and still serving God with the gifts I have been given. Slower, perhaps wiser, but still part of the “invasion force” of the Kingdom of God which will bring peace and justice to this storm-wracked planet under the reign of King Jesus.
Not just a piece of history, then, but a living part of the Lord’s Prayer taught by Jesus:
Matthew 6:9-10 (NIV)
“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…
Rust in piece? No thanks! There’s life in the old boy yet… Anyone else want to commit to living a life of God-honouring purpose? To change history, not just be a slowly-forgotten part of it… It’s not all over yet, but we know who wins the battle.