Editorial – United We Stand

21 February 1942

South Yorkshire Times, Saturday, Feb. 21st, 1942.

United We Stand

Though checked a little by successes in Russia and Libya our war fortunes have taken a long steep dive since last November., when the fate of Singapore was mercifully hid from us. as was the fate of France almost up to the hour of catastrophe. Goebbels may well heave a sigh of relief and tell the German people that thg winter disasters he – has been worrying about have never happened.

That , by the way, has been true of us and will be true again. At the moment the loss of the lynchpin of Allied defence in the Pacific looks irreparable, irremediable, irredeemable. The Japanese may well exult in an outstanding feat of arms, one of the most brilliant in military history, while we mourn “a heavy and far-reaching military defeat.” to quote the masterly under-statement of Mr Churchill.

The Japanese in seizing Malaya and impregnable’ Singapore have performed a prodigy with a profound immediate effect on the war in the Far East. It is for us a disaster without a redeeming feature, unless the shock produces the extra effort demanded from the Allies, particularly America and Britain.

The tale of evacuation and withdrawal continues, and we are destined probably to see further impressive evidence of Japanese expansion, penetration and mobility. Burma and Sumatra are in dire danger; Java awaits the crucial conflict and if the East Indies barrier goes we must fight it out on the beaches of Ceylon. India, Australia, and New Zealand. The Japanese are moving with deadly speed and efficiency, but even they are faced with the facts of geography, and sooner or later their forces will he caught and held while their tap-roots are cut. With Singapore held that might have taken months: now it may take years.

Japan is not in this war for Germany’s health and in the Pacific will certainly brook no rival, especially such a rival as Germany We see no special reason for Japan to collapse with Germany if in the meantime she has consolidated her position in the Pacific. We have been humiliated and mortified, our imperial prestige damaged, our strategic position weakened, and our resources in -fighting men and Material depleted by vain efforts to retrieve the disaster with reinforcements too little and too late. We have blundered and miscalculated, some of our errors have been understandable, some of our misfortunes unavoidable, but we grossly under-estimated the power and strength, the speed and science, the courage, resolution and intelligence of the enemy.

None of our errors has escaped exposure and punishment; much even that was right and wise was shown to be Inadequate. The Germans and Javanese have relied so far with success, on speed mechanised rower and above all local air superiority to hustle us off the ground before we begin to fight.

They did it in France, in Greece, in Crete, and now in Malaga. Given vast and careful preparation, the stronger side will under modern conditions of warfare look stronger than he is, because of his tactical hitting power, which he acquires through initiative, the power to choose the ground, the hour, and the method. When he loses the initiative he dwindles and falters, as we have seen in Russia. Against us neither Germany nor Japan has yet lost the initiative—except for two brief interludes in the Libyan campaign—but they will, and that will be the beginning of the end. Meanwhile we must forget our hard-luck stories and realise that our follies, failings and misfortunes must be redeemed by months and maybe years of toil and sacrifice, patience and fortitude.

Meanwhile we must remain united. We must hang together if we not to hang separately. Let politicians squeal, but let those who have to fight this war keep their eyes steadfastly on real leaders and on the goal. That way alone lies salvation.