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A Messenger with a Message to Carry

Alfred Mendes enlisted in the British Army in January 1916 at the tender age of 19. He was soon sent off to France to train to be a signaller. Signallers were responsible for signaling communications from the front lines back to the command position and vice-versa. Often, it involved laying landlines down in dangerous enemy territory.

On October 12, 1917, Alfred faced his most daunting test yet. Hundreds of British soldiers had been charged with reclaiming the village of Poelcappelle in Belgium from the Germans. It was an important location from a strategic standpoint and Allied forces resolved to have it back under their command. The British troops attacked on a day that poured down rain, suffering heavy losses. One hundred fifty-eight men in Alfred’s battalion of 484 were killed, wounded, or MIA. No one could locate the missing men as they were scattered across miles of sucking, waterlogged foxholes and craters in the mud. Stuck in the middle of No Man’s Land, they were unable to communicate their positions back to their allies in the safe zone without being killed.

When Alfred Mendes’ commanding officer asked for a volunteer to do the almost certainly fatal job of running out to locate the positions of the surviving men and then reporting back to the troops – Alfred volunteered for the job.

Miraculously, he survived and . . . located a number of survivors, enabling them to be rescued. It was an act that later won Alfred the Military Medal for bravery. His actions became the inspiration for the film 1917. In an interview, writer and director Sam Mendes explains the source of the film: “I had a story that was a fragment told to me by my grandfather, who fought in the First World War. It’s the story of a messenger who has a message to carry."

Possible Preaching Angles:

Evangelism; Great Commission; Preaching – Our Commanding Officer has called believers to carry the greatest message ever given. At times it involves risk and danger, but it leads to the saving of many lives in the deadliest battle in history.


Alisha Grauso, "A Story Sam Mendes’ Grandfather Told Him Inspired ‘1917,’” AtomTickets.com Insider, (1-13-20)

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