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A Providence In The London Smog Of Fifty Years Ago

Category Articles
Date April 11, 2006

During the London smog of 1952 my family had a remarkable experience the memory of which has remained with me ever since it happened. This happening shows the truth of that text in Romans 8:28 – ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose’.

I was aged 20, and had just completed two years’ National Service in the Royal Air Force. Then, in November, came the smog. To be in it was an awful experience, it was cold and clammy, sound was muffled, one easily became lost and many older people or those with asthma, or other chesty complaints, died for lack of pure air. The smog got onto your clothes, on your face, all external paintwork became dirty. It spread its tentacles through the window frames, and into the houses. It was very difficult to get to work, there were few buses, the train service was erratic as the drivers could not see the signals, few cars were on the road, and people would get lost even in their own streets, torches being quite useless as they could not pierce the gloom. Day and night were no different; one had to grope one’s way at all times.

We lived in south London, my parents, my young sister and me. My parents were not Christians, but I was converted before I joined the RAF. I had a young lady, she was a Christian and her parents (Mr. & Mrs. Davis) were Christians. Later we married, and have now been married for 52 years.

During that smog my little sister became unwell. Mother took her to the doctor who said it was just a little tummy upset, and not to worry. Soon, however, she became much worse, and was taken to hospital (I can’t remember how she got there) where she had to have emergency surgery for appendicitis, but it was too late. She developed peritonitis – and in those days that could be fatal.

My parents were terribly worried; they were good parents and loved us both, they did get through the smog to visit my sister who was by now very ill, but only with great difficulty.

My parents were very friendly with my fiancée’s parents, and at length said to me, ‘Will you ask Mr. Davis (my future father-in-law) if he will come, and pray with us?’ I did ask him, and he did come, and he did pray.

God answered that prayer for my sister began to mend; at last she regained her normal health and strength, but we discovered by talking to her surgeon that her illness began to mend at the very time we prayed together.

It was not long after that my parents saw that they needed the Saviour, and they were soundly converted. They joined the local company of Christians where I was a member, and where that young lady and I were married.

My father became a door-keeper in the ‘house of the Lord’, and towards the end of his life a deacon in that local church. Never will I forget that in that smog my sister’s life was saved and, as a result, my parents’ souls were saved.

Mr Baker of Sidcup, Kent, taken with permission from the Explorer April 2006 published by the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing).

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