Editorial – Wild Warfare

6 December 1941

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 06 December 1941

Wild Warfare

The Libyan Campaign continues to occupy our chief attention. There we have had demonstrated the power of the tank under optimum conditions desert warfare. The balance of advantage still lies with us, but we have challenged a powerful adversary, and a great master of the new science of  war. The destruction of Rommel’s armoured force is not the facile operation the public at home assumed it to be; possibly even our own forces under-rated their task.

The remark attributed by Quentin Reynolds to one of our commanders, “We have got the beast’s head in the box, but he is still lashing out with his tail,” is certainly an under-statement. Mr. Churchill’s prophecy that the Libyan struggle would be “very ‘interesting” is being fulfilled.

For many days it looked from the air like a melee of mad prehistoric monsters. The initial struggle is for mastery of communication—the certain key to victory in warfare of this kind. Tanks must be, continually fed in order to retain their offensive power to the full; otherwise they quickly fall a prey to a determined and resourceful enemy.

In this struggle to master and control the enemy sources of supply we have had the advantage from the first and it is difficult to see how even the genius of Rommel can deprive us of it, though we are now facing foemen vastly different from those we chased out of Cyrenaica last winter. The tank phase must soon be decided and the defeated overwhelmed by the surviving armoured force. However Rommel may twist and turn he is subjected to the pressure and vigilance of superior aerial and naval forces, as well as of a formidable land force steadily and smoothly reinforced.

Meanwhile it is certain that the diversion created in Libya is affecting the situation in the major theatre of war. The Germans, with bulldog tenacity, are hanging on to their main objective and slowly eating into the defences of Moscow. though the sands of time allotted them are now very low and there is no sign of the Russian collapse that can alone give them the prize this winter Of great significance is the startling reverse the Germans have suffered in the south, where they have been flung out of Rostov-on-Don and forced into general retirement.

Their strategic plan to seize the Caucasus is thus imperilled by Timoshenko’s brilliant victory, and if the Russians are strong enough to exploit the German reverse, it may be ‘that they will force an adjustment which will relieve the threat to Moscow. at any, rate from the south.

For the Russians this has been on the whole a good week, bringing sorely ceded encouragement.