Mexborough and Swinton Times June 22, 1940
Alas For France
Our unhappy Ally has been struck down at our side and we fight on—alone. Yet not alone, for our forces include ” tokens ” from all nations ravaged and enslaved by Germany. The Empire is rallying with passionate eagerness. The great armoury of the United States is being rapidly opened. The oppressed races of Europe, now groaning and travailing, are awaiting the touch of the deliverer; once they are assisted to rise, tyranny will fall. The imponderables are with us, and the time must come when they will count. They that be for us are more than they that are against us.
Yet at the moment the whole future of Christian civilisation depends on the power of Great Britain alone to endure the utmost malice of the enemy. to fend off aerial attack or keep it within tolerable limits while maintaining stern reprisals; to tighten the stranglehold of the blockade to speed up industrial effort and utilise the industrial aid of Canada and the United States, to buid up an air armada which will become decisive, to wage with the utmost resolution war against both Germany and Italy and, finally, to encourage all Europe to rise against the oppressor.
All that is Great Britain’s responsibility, and she shoulders it in an hour of bitter loss. The armies of France are apparently in dissolution, and fighting in circumstances of extreme confusion and discouragement, to which their own Government has contributed by deplorable overtures for separate peace they swore never to conclude.
Mr. Churchill has treated this new betrayal of the Allied cause with a restraint and generosity which no doubt spring from a full appreciation of the anguish of mind of those men who took the grave responsibility of raising the white flag over France. Amid utmost confusion and disarray, French soldiers and airmen are desperately striving to recover firm ground, a rallying point, and courageous leadership. The army which has been kept in the Alpine provinces to deal with Italy is still intact—there are also important French forces in the Middle East, and. with this material and the backing of the mighty Allied fleet, it may yet be possible to build up new forces for the liberation of France.
Mr. Churchill has left us in no doubt of the sombre consequences of the French collapse. We are ” for it ” and at once. He has left Hitler in no doubt, either, of Britain’s determination to fight on, undismayed by the loss of our ally, and the remoteness of help. We know—and France should have known—that we are dealing with a stony adversary, cruel, pitiless and void of all chivalry to a fallen foe. We have nothing to hope from compromise, and nothing to fear from boldness and resolution. We are now in the front line, sharing the hardships and dangers of our fighting men. Systematic bombing of these islands has begun and must be endured without complaint.
For weeks we have been bombing military objectives in Germany and have been doing so most effectively. The Germans are trying to locate and bomb military objectives in this country, not because of any humane aversion to bombing civilians, for Hitler is supremely indifferent to human carnage and counts even the best and bravest of Germany as sheep appointed to be slain for the fulfilment of his cursed ambition. But the Germans are no more inclined to waste bombs than are we, and only when they are convinced that it will pay best to terrorise the civilian population rather than to seek out the opposing force, its supplies and communications, will bombing raids on Great Britain be directed at human slaughter.
Nevertheless, we must now accept bombing raids, night and day, as a fact of existence, and adjust ourselves to this fact so as to reduce mental stresses and strains. It will help us to remember that we are powerfully defended on the ground and in the air. Our defences had a fine score on the opening night. The Germans would hardly be prepared to lose seven bombers a night on mere groping; and if they come when they can see and be seen they will have to accept much heavier losses. The experiences that have begun should have convinced everyone of the importance of A.R.P. both public and private, and of the psychological value of being trained and prepared to render help to those injured or endangered. It is certainly true of air raid defence that an ounce of practice is worth a ton of precept. and that actual experience is the most valuable form of instruction in A.R.P.