Editorial – Into Battle

6 July 1940

Times and Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 06 July 1940

Into Battle

Mr. Churchill’s speech yesterday dispelled most of the clouds of doubt which had massed round the fate of the French Fleet.

It was what everyone hoped to hear, though many had begun to wonder when this very necessary act off surgery was to be undertaken. Almost certainly the Royal Navy has never had a task which it relished less than that of turning its guns on its late comrades in arms. At the same time the course it must pursue can never have been clearer before it.

The Premier very aptly described as malevolent some aspects of the conduct of the Petain Government as applied to Great Britain and surely this quality is also evidenced by the cruel position in which the French Fascists left their sailors.

Now the Gordian’ knot has been cut and the nation can look to the future secure in the knowledge that the Nazis have not yet got the naval force which they so much desire, unless, of course, this description can be, applied to the Italian fleet which, though close at hand, discreetly abstained from coming to the help of the beleaguered French squadron.

At Oran our actions were dictated by harsh necessity and to have done less in the face of the bewildered obstinacy of the French admiral would have been criminal to our cherished cause. The Prime Minister struck no note of triumph in his recitation of the grave lengths to which we were compelled to go and in this he once more showed himself the complete realist. He did not seek to gloss over the scarcely diminished gravity of our position and uttered a sombre warning of the imminence of a new and perhaps more dreadful battle than that under which France crumpled so’ tragically.

A sane and strictly objective assessment of our ability to stand up to such an onslaught, followed. This was cheering to those who have not failed to note the almost unfailingly prophetic quality of most of Mr. Churchill’s periodic reviews of the course of the war. We shall be called on for ‘the last ounce of endurance in the’ ‘shock of the coming clash between two mighty forces, and with the’ Premier’s appeal ringing in our ears we shall not fail. One spectre, at least, can now be dismissed from the midst of those threats which immediately face us.

Our naval superiority remains undisturbed and this means that invasion is , rendered infinitely more difficult and blockade impossible. Nations have gone into battle strengthened by much less material assurances than those with which Mr. Churchill was able to encourage us yesterday, and have won the day. Shall we not thee prove before the world that, with God helping us, we can still show the dauntless spirit of St. George and rid the earth of this Nazi monster in the fight that now lies ahead of us?