Editorial – Spirit of France is Unconquerable

15 June 1940

Mexborough and Swinton Times June 15, 1940

France’s Agony

The agony of the crucial battle continues. Hitler has made his supreme bid, and France has risen proudly to the challenge. Germany’s powerful robot host is twisting and turning, rending and tearing, hammering, drilling, and boring at the French Army now before Paris. If France’s case is desperate, Hitler’s is still more so. If Paris falls Berlin’s danger is not lessened.

To win the war, or to break off the war, Hitler must within the next few days capture and destroy the armies of France, deny the British a base in France, and effectively invade Great Britain. He cannot carry through one item of that programme, even with the help of Italy.

The spirit of France is unconquerable, and what is more to the immediate purpose, the French line though pressed hard back upon the capital, is unbreakable. The French and British are defending fiercely side by side the British giving ever increasing support. It seems impossible for Hitler to increase the intensity of his present push, and though he may use Italians as replacements for garrisons he can never repeat these two great blows.

Slowly but surely his steam roller is being brought to a standstill and when it ceases to go forward it must go back. It may be that Paris, the gayest city in the world, now a grim, echoing fortress, will be left blasted and blackened in the track of the blitzkrieg, but this fight is not for the shell of Paris but for the soul of France. A new Paris, a new France, and a new world will arise from the Allied victory which will at last chase away the gloom of doubt and fear. Paris will not be lightly exposed, still less lightly surrendered, but Hitler and Weygand are fighting for higher stakes than Paris.

We are undoubtedly in the decisive phase of the war, and the glorious heroism of the French, their coolness and steadiness in the face of overwhelming mechanical weight and power; outnumbered and outweaponed, and oppressed by the memory of a catastrophic reverse which wrenched provinces from them overnight, yet they continue to dispute the German advance foot by foot, taking terrible toll of the invader, exacting the highest possible price for the least progress, and with increasing help from the British, fighting the robotised Hun to a standstill. While we follow with intense sympathy the grim ordeal through which the entire French people, as well as their gallant army are passing, our own war effort is being sharpened and intensified so swiftly and to such a degree that within a very short time British reinforcements may well have a decisive effect on this struggle.

And behind the British, if Hitler can face the prospect of another year of war, come the resources of the West which are even now being rapidly passed to the Allies. It is the knowledge of all this that puts energy and urgency into Hitler’s attack, and steadiness and confidence into the Allied riposte