Friday, July 27, 2012

In Stan's Own Words

I came across this piece published in Prairie Tabernacle Congregation's September 2007 issue of Forum. Taken from their masthead, "Forum is a Prairie Tabernacle platform for exchanging spiritual ideas, encouragements, and insights."

Stan Christon, in his own words:


Stan Christon’s War Years  

I was born on November 3, 1922 in Middlesboro, England, the youngest of seven and the only surviving twin. At 14, I started my apprenticeship as a carpenter and accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior. When WWII started, I enlisted into the 129th Anti-Tank regiment and trained as a gunner with the 51st Highland Scottish Division in January 1942. We were 24 men to a Quonset 
hut. On October 23, we took our positions in the front lines at El-Alamein, 50 miles from Cairo.

After one of the heaviest bombardments and shelling, I awoke in my foxhole covered with sand; my overcoat, which was above my head, was shredded by shrapnel. The incredible peace of God which passes all understanding kept me from all fear. One man in our unit asked, "Can I lengthen your foxhole and stay 
close by you? Is it wrong to smoke and drink?" 

Twelve thousand of the 8th Army under General Montgomery died in those ten days; one died three yards from me, struck by a sniper. General Rommel's forces made a magnificent retreat through North Africa to Wadi Akarit on the Mareth line. Our convoy was cannoned, leaving our sergeant dead only 
five trucks ahead of me. While cooking dinner, the enemy shelled us; the ground shook; a tree was stripped of its branches. I prayed; my life 
flashed before me; and our rice dinner was spoiled. One time in the Libyan Desert, a colonel in his vehicle raced up and stopped us from going over a hill where we would have been taken prisoner in five minutes. 

Our anti-tank guns were hitched behind the 7th Tank Division. Captain Crossley said "Christon, post this letter for me if I don't make it back." We crouched behind the tank turrets and went over the poppy plains dotted with hillocks. A halt was called as one of our tanks was aflame and enemy planes swooped over us so low we could see the pilots' faces. I read airmail letter from a friend, which said "Read Psalm 27:1-3.”[FN1] Captain Crossley survived and 
I returned his letter to him. 

Next morning, we attended the memorial of 200 of the Black Watch infantry who gave their lives in the battle. This hymn [FN2] comes to mind. 

O valiant hearts who to your glory came 
through dust of conflict and through battle flame; 
tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved, 
your memory hallowed in the land you loved. 

Splendid you passed, the great surrender made;  
into the light that nevermore shall fade;  
deep your contentment in that blest abode,  
who wait the last clear trumpet-call of God.  

We returned to Cairo and I enjoyed a trip to the Holy Land for two weeks. I was transferred to the Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment and joined the 8th Army in Italy. Peace was declared May 10, 1945, and the war ended. I was chosen to 
guard prisoner of war camps for many months following the war. 

In a letter from a friend sent from Cairo, I read, "And behold, I am with you, in all places where you go, and will bring you back again into this land" (Genesis 28:15). 

In January 1951 the S.S. Banfora took me out again, this time to Ivory Coast, West Africa, where Alice and I spent 25 years with the WEC International, pioneering among tribal people. 
1. Ps. 27:1-3 (NIV): The LORD is my light and 
my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD 
is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I 
be afraid? When evil men advance against me 
to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my 
foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. 
Though an army besiege me, my heart will not 
fear; though war break out against me, even 
then will I be confident. 

2. “O Valiant Hearts,” John Stanhope 
Arkwright, 1919. 

The Angel of the Lord Encamps Round 
Them Who Fear Him (Ps. 34:7)

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