South Yorkshire Times – Saturday 01 August 1942
Waiting is a test of nerve and spirit. It is an ordeal which may be selfimposed from choice or necessitated by circumstances. In this war we have tasted both aspects and as a nation we are well equipped for the test.
News from Russia is bad now; the position in Egypt gives little cause for jubilation, even though it has been stabilised. Hitler’s armies are tearing into the vitals of Russia in a supreme attempt to smash the great Soviet State as a military power. The Nazi aim seems to be to slice off the rich region of the Caucasus and leave the Red Army to wither for lack of sustenance. Granary and oil reservoir, the Caucasus is of paramount importance to our Russian allies, but unless Hitler not only achieves this objective, which he has by no means yet done, and also inflicts crippling losses on the Russian armies, his immediate gain will be of doubtful value.
Grave as invasion and complete occupation of the Caucasus would be, with its threat to our own Middle Eastern position in addition to its capture of precious resources, it is unlikely that it would bring about that immediate military collapse which Hitler desires before leaving a screening army in the East and transferring the bulk of his forces to the West. The Russians have shown themselves to be extraordinarily tough and fanatically stubborn in acknowledging defeat. For them the word surrender does not exist. They fight to extermination, and long after their divisions have been over-run vengeful guerilla fighters continue to infest the territory seized by the Nazis. Nothing has been more forcibly impressed upon the would-be conquerors than the ceaseless hatred and internecine resistance with which they are daily brought face to face.
Help as we may with supplies of tanks and munitions, it is plain, and has been so for a long time, that the only assistance we can give our Russian comrades in arms which will finally count is by opening a second front in Europe. There is no division of opinion on this point. Obviously this expedient is equally perceptible to the leaders of the British and American nations as it is to those whose enthusiasm outruns their discretion in urging the opening of a second front regardless of time and preparation. Many considerations arise in the launching of a second front, and on the majority of these the man in the street is less well informed than the German General Staff, which itself would doubtless like a lot more information on the subject.
Mr. Churchill has acknowledged the spirit which leads people to demand the early opening of a second front, and certainly the eagerness of the nation to shoulder whatever fresh burdens such a move will entail must strengthen the Government in their determination to speed the great day. But having waited so long for an opening for a reasonable chance of striking a positive blow towards victory, it would be madness to ruin all by a reckless gesture prompted more by the heart than by the head. No one denies that this inevitable blow is urgently needed. But to those best qualified to assess its every implication the ultimate decision must be entrusted.
- Andre Philip, who has just come over from France to join ‘General de Gaulle, has himself spoken forcibly on the subject of any abortive invasion of the Continent. He very cogently points out that such a sortie would be a cruel betrayal of those underground fighters who are carrying on the struggle against the Nazis in the occupied countries. A landing by a United Nations expeditionary force would be the signal for them to show their hand, to come out into the open as supporters of the cause of freedom. What mercy could such self-advertised partisanship expect if the Allies were unable to carry through what they had started ?
We must steel our nerves in the period of waiting, be it short or long. Meetings and manifestoes must give place to productive effort and spiritual solidarity, so that when the hour strikes the nation will be ready for anything and everything.