September 8, 1942
Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons Official Report.
THE PRIME MINISTER (MR. CHURCHILL): Nine weeks have passed since I spoke here on the Vote of Censure. I am most grateful to the House for the substantial majority which they then gave to me and to the Government. Every proof that is given to the world of the inflexible steadfastness of Parliament and of its sense of proportion strengthens the British war effort in a definite and recognisable manner. Most particularly are such manifestations of our national will-power a help to the head of the British Government in time of war. The Prime Minister of the day, as head of the Executive, has to be from time to time in contact and correspondence with the Heads of the Executives of the great Allied States. President Roosevelt and Premier Stalin are not only Heads of the Executive but are Commanders-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. We work our affairs in a different way. The Prime Minister is the servant of the House and is liable to dismissal at a moment's notice by a simple vote. It is only possible for him to do what is necessary, and what has got to be done on occasion by somebody or other, if he enjoys, as I do, the support of an absolutely loyal and united Cabinet, and if he is refreshed and fortified from time to time, and especially in bad times, as I have been, by massive and overwhelming Parliamentary majorities. Then your servant is able to transact the important business which has to be done with confidence and freedom, and is able to meet people at the heads of the Allied countries on more or less equal terms and on occasion to say, "Yes" and "No," without delay upon some difficult questions. Thus we arrive, by our ancient constitutional methods, at practical working arrangements which show that Parliamentary democracy can adapt itself to all situations and can go out in all weathers. That is why I am especially grateful to the House for their unswerving support and for the large majority with which they rejected a hostile vote on the last occasion we were together.
Since that day and since the House separated there have been several important operations of war. The first of these has been the carrying into Malta of a convoy of supplies sufficient to ensure the life and resistance of that heroic island fortress for a good many months to come. This operation was looked forward to with a certain amount of anxiety on account of the great dangers to which many of His Majesty's most valuable ships must be exposed. For this purpose a powerful battle squadron, supported by three aircraft carriers, trained to work in combination, and by powerful cruiser squadrons and flotillas were set in motion through the Straits of Gibraltar. At the same time the Malta Air Force was raised to a very high level of strength by the flying through of Spitfires from other carriers, so that an effective protective umbrella was spread around the island for a considerable distance and the local command of the air was effectively assured. The convoy was thus able to force its way through the extraordinary dangers which beset its passage from Sardinia onwards. Three or four hundred German and Italian short-based bombers, torpedo planes and long-range fighters were launched against our armada-an enormous concourse of ships-and in the narrows, which were mined, it was attacked by E-boats and U-boats. Severe losses were suffered both by the convoy and the escorting fleet. One aircraft-carrier, the Eagle, two cruisers and one destroyer were sunk and others damaged. But this price, although heavy, was not excessive for the result obtained, for Malta is not only as bright a gem as shines in the King's Crown, but its effective action against the enemy communications with Libya and Egypt is essential to the whole strategic position in the Middle East. In the same operation one eight-inch Italian cruiser and one six-inch Italian cruiser were torpedoed and badly damaged and two U-boats were sunk. A most remarkable feature of this fighting was undoubtedly the defeat by gunfire, and by aircraft of the carriers, of the enemy's shore-based aircraft. Fifty-six Axis aircraft were shot down for certain and 15 others were probably destroyed. Of these 39 were shot down by carrier-borne aircraft of the Fleet and 17 by the "Ack-Ack" guns of the ships of the convoy and of the escort. In addition. at least 16 were destroyed by aircraft from Malta, and all this loss was sustained by these very powerful shore-based squadrons, operating from bases in comparatively close proximity without them being able to inflict by air action any appreciable damage upon the ships of war or the supply ships of the convoy-a remarkable fact.
Although the loss of the Eagle at the outset of the operation affected the combination of the three carriers on which much store was set-which always seemed to me, personally, to be of the highest importance and a new feature-we must regard the whole episode as a further proof of the value of aircraft carriers working together in combination at sea and also of the increasing power of the gunnery of the fleet and of the merchant vessels, which were all armed to the teeth and fought with customary determination. All of this fleet and the whole operation was led with the utmost discipline and determination, reflecting the highest credit on all officers and men concerned, both of the Royal Navy and Mercantile Marine and upon the skillful admirals in charge, Admiral Syfret, Admiral Burrough and Admiral Lyster.
The second important operation was the attack upon Dieppe. It is a mistake to speak or write of this as "a Commando raid," although some Commando troops distinguished themselves remarkably in it. The military credit for this most gallant affair goes to the Canadian troops, who formed five-sixths of the assaulting force, and to the Royal Navy, which carried them all there and which carried most of them back. The raid must be considered as a reconnaissance in force. It was a hard, savage clash such as are likely to become increasingly numerous as the War deepens. We had to get all the information necessary before launching operations on a much larger scale. This raid, apart from its reconnaissance value, brought about an extremely satisfactory air battle in the West which the Fighter Command wish they could repeat every week. It inflicted perhaps as much loss upon the enemy in killed and wounded as we suffered ourselves. I, personally, regarded the Dieppe assault, to which I gave my sanction, as an indispensable preliminary to full-scale operations. I do not intend to give any information about these operations, and I have only said as much as I have because the enemy can see by his daily reconnaissance of our ports many signs of movements that we are unable to conceal from his photography. He is also aware of the steady and rapid influx into this Island of United States divisions and other troops, but what he does not know is how, when, where and with what forces and in what fashion he will be smitten. And on this point it is desirable that he should be left to his own ruminations, unassisted by British or American advice or comment.
Since the successful action off Midway Island, our American Allies, with the very active support of Australian Forces, have been engaged with the Japanese in the South-west Pacific, and in the course of these operations they have taken the offensive and occupied the Islands of Guadalcanal, Tulagi and other islands in the Solomons. They have, moreover, according to the reports which have already been seen in the Press, frustrated Japanese activities in Milne Bay. The fighting ashore, in which United States marines were prominent, and the fighting at sea have both been exceptionally bitter. In the fighting at sea His Majesty's Australian ship Canberra has been sunk, as has already been announced. His Majesty's Government considered that the Commonwealth Government should not bear this grievous loss, following the sinking of other gallant Australian ships. We have therefore decided to offer freely and unconditionally the transfer of His Majesty's eight-inch gun cruiser Shropshire to the Commonwealth Government. The offer has been most warmly received.
Since we were last together the tendencies of war have continued to move in our favour. Of the Russian Front, I will only at this moment say that it is 8th September. In other quarters the growing predominance of the Allied air power is continuous. From June onwards to the first week in September, just closed, we have discharged nearly double the bomb load upon Germany as was discharged in the corresponding period of last year, and that with much greater precision. A far larger proportion fell in built-up areas or hit the actual target. The United States daylight bombing is a new and increasingly important factor, and there is no doubt that both in accuracy of aim and in mutual defensive power new possibilities of air warfare are being opened by our American comrades and their Flying Fortresses. The losses at sea are still very heavy, but I am glad to say that the months of July, August, and September so far as it has run, are a definite improvement on those which preceded them. This is due largely to the continued development and completion of the convoy system off the American coast, and this improvement has been effected in spite of heavy losses in war operations, such as the Russian and Malta convoys.
During these same months, the line of new building of merchant ships of the United Nations has definitely crossed and maintained itself on the graph above the line of sinkings. Warfare-and this is even more important, because offence is more important than defence, however successful-warfare on U-boats has been more successful than at any former period in the war. In fact, very few days have passed without one or more being sunk or damaged by us or our Allies. One would, of course, expect the U-boats to suffer heavier losses as there are more of them about, and I cannot say that the sinkings of U-boats have nearly kept pace with the believed and planned new construction. On the other hand, our heavy and successful bombing of the German shipbuilding yards will have an increasing effect upon future output and assembly of U-boats, and the part which the air is taking in the U-boat warfare grows more important with every week that passes.
We must regard the struggle at sea as the foundation of all the efforts of the United Nations. If they lost that, all else would be denied to them, but there is no reason to suppose that we have not the means of victory in our hands, provided that the utmost in human power is done here and in the United States.
Lastly, we may note that the ruthless unlimited German U-boat warfare and the outrages to which this gave vent, have brought us a new Ally, and in the dawn of the fourth year of the war we welcome the accession of Brazil to the ranks of the United Nations. We are entitled to regard this as a most helpful and encouraging event.
Continued efforts are made by us and our Allies to unify and concert the command and action of the United Nations, and particularly of their leading members. These efforts are made in spite of all the obvious difficulties which geography can interpose. During the month of July, President Roosevelt sent a most important mission to this country. No announcement of this was made at the time. The mission comprised General Marshall, the Head of the United States Army, Admiral King, the Head of the Navy, and Mr. Hopkins, the President's Personal Representative. These gentlemen met in numerous conferences, not only the British Chiefs of Staff, but the Members of the War Cabinet, and of the Defence Committee, which is a somewhat smaller grouping of it. During a period of 10 days or more the whole field of the war was explored and every problem of importance in it was scrutinised and weighed. Decisions of importance were taken affecting the whole future general conduct of our operations not only in Europe but throughout the world. These decisions were in accordance with the wishes of President Roosevelt, and they received his final approval. Thus, by the end of July complete agreement on war policy and war plans had been reached between Great Britain and the United States. This agreement covers the whole field of the war in every part of the world, and also deals with the necessary productive and administrative measures which are required to enforce the combined policy and strategy which has been agreed upon.
Armed with this body of agreement between Great Britain and the United States, and invigorated by the goodwill of the House manifested at what was a particularly dark, unhappy and anxious moment, I took advantage of the Recess to visit the Army in the Middle East and to visit Premier Stalin in Moscow. Both these journeys seemed necessary in the public interest, and I believe that the results achieved, although now secret, will as they become apparent justify any trouble or expense incurred.
Traveling always in a Liberator bomber, it was possible to reach Cairo in an uncommonly short time. Before I left I had some reason to believe that the condition of the Desert Army and the troops in Egypt was not entirely satisfactory. The Eighth Army, or the Army of the Western Desert, or the Desert Army as I like to call it, had lost over 80,000 men. It had been driven back about 400 miles since May with immense losses in munitions, supplies and transport. General Rommel's surprisingly rapid advance was only rendered possible because he used our captured stores and vehicles. In the battles around Gazala, in the stress of the retreat and the fighting at El Alamein, where General Auchinleck succeeded in stabilising the front, the structure of the Army had become much deranged. The divisional formations had been largely broken up, and a number of battle groups or other improvised formations had sprung into being piecemeal in the course of the hard fighting. Nevertheless, as I can myself testify, there was a universal conviction in officers and men of every rank that they could beat the Germans man to man and face to face. But this was coupled with a sense of being baffled and of not understanding why so many misfortunes had fallen upon the Army. The spirit of the troops was admirable, but it was clear to me that drastic changes were required in the High Command and that the Army must have a new start under new leaders. I was fortified in these conclusions by the advice of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, who accompanied me, and also by the massive judgment of Field-Marshal Smuts, who flew from Cape Town to Cairo to meet me and also, of course, to see the South African divisions which he has sent into the line.
I, therefore, after many heart-searchings, submitted proposals to the War Cabinet for changing and remodeling the High Command. In these proposals, General Alexander, fresh from his brilliant uphill campaign in Burma-a most testing ordeal for any man-succeeded General Auchinleck, and General Gott, who was greatly trusted by the troops, was to command the Eighth Army. The Cabinet was in the act of endorsing these telegraphed recommendations when General Gott was killed by the enemy. I felt this very much, because I met him only the day before; I spent a long time in his company, and he seemed a most splendid man. General Montgomery, who now commands the Eighth Army, is one of our most accomplished soldiers, and we had need of him for certain purposes here at home. However, the imminent threat of battle in the Western Desert left us no choice but to call upon him. I am satisfied that the combination of General Alexander as Commander-in-Chief and General Montgomery under him commanding the Eighth Army, with General McCreery, an officer deeply versed in the handling of tanks, as Chief of the General Staff, is a team well adapted to our needs and the finest at our disposal at the present time. There were, of course, a number of other changes. It is always painful making such changes, but in wartime individual feelings cannot be spared, and whatever is thought to be the best arrangement must be made without regard to persons, and must be made quickly. I hope the House will not press me to argue these matters on merits in detail, as I certainly should not be able to comply with their wish without detriment to the public interest.
Of General Auckinleck I will only say that he is an officer of the greatest distinction and of a character of singular elevation. He wrested victory for us at the battle of Sidi Rezegh in November, and in the early days of July he stemmed the adverse tide at El Alamein. He has at present, at his own request, gone on leave, and it is my hope that his services may be available later on in the war.
In spite of the heavy losses which I mentioned, the Army of the Western Desert is now stronger actually and relatively than it has ever been. In fact, so large have the new reinforcements which have reached this Army been, that what is to a large extent a new Army has been created while the fighting has actually been in progress. The principal measures which rendered this possible were taken before the disaster of Tobruk, and, indeed, before the opening of the battle at Gazala in May. They were part of the general preparations, which, looking ahead, we made for the hazards and stresses of the Desert campaign of 1942. As far back as March last I asked President Roosevelt to lend me shipping to transport an additional 40,000 or 50,000 men to the Middle East so as to have something to veer and haul upon, so as to have a force which could be turned to the various theatres in which danger might develop. The President consented and placed at our disposal a number of American ships, and in consequence at the critical moment we had rounding the Cape a very large and well-equipped force which could be directed immediately to Egypt. It is to that that the improvement in our affairs, the maintenance of our affairs, in that region must largely be attributed. Besides this a broadening stream of drafts to replace casualties, of equipment, tanks, anti-tank guns, "Ack-Ack" guns and vehicles of all kinds has been flowing from this country and from the United States to the Middle East, and we now have. in Egypt a very good, strong, well-equipped and resolute Army barring the further advance of the invader.
In the Debate on the Vote of Censure on Thursday, 2nd July, some of the Opposition speakers seemed to think that the fall of Cairo and Alexandria was only a matter of days. "Wait till Monday," "Wait till Tuesday," it was said, "and events will reinforce our criticisms." Well, we have waited, and now after more than two months I feel able to assure the House that they may be confident in our ability to maintain the successful defence of Egypt, not for days or for weeks, but for several months ahead. [Interruption.] I say several months ahead, but I might say more. Suffice it to say that. I am strengthened in this view by the results of the heavy fighting of last week. Owing to the restraint and understatement which have been practiced in the Middle East communiqués in deference to the taste of the House, the scale and intensity of these operations has not been realised, or has only now begun to be realised. General Rommel has been much hampered by the sinkings of so many of his supply ships by our submarines, as well as by the British and United States air attacks renewed again from Malta and also from Egypt. Under the inconveniences resulting from their pressure as we may suppose, he came round our Southern flank last Monday week in a major offensive with the whole German Afrika Korps, including the 90th Light Division, the two Panzer divisions and a large part of the 20th Italian Motorised Corps. We have not been able to keep our left hand upon the Qattara depression, which dies away at this point to the Eastward, and there was plenty of room for Rommel to execute such a manoeuvre. The Desert Army under its new command had, however, been reorganised in depth and had been reinforced by every brigade, by every tank and by every gun that could be hurried forward from the Delta. I had the good fortune to visit the troops on exactly the ground where this battle took place, and I must say it seemed to me very obliging of General Rommel to have come on to us just where all the preparations had been made for his hearty reception.
This desert warfare has to be seen to be believed. Large armies, with their innumerable transport and tiny habitations, are dispersed and scattered as if from a pepper-pot over the vast indeterminate slopes and plains of the desert, broken here and there only by a sandy crease or tuck in the ground or outcrop of rock. The ground in most places, especially on all commanding eminences, is rock with only an inch or two of sand on the top, and no cover can be obtained for guns or troops except by blasting. Scattered though the troops are, there is an elaborate system of signaling, the enormous development of which is incredible. The more improvements there are in our means of communication the more people are required to serve the Signal Branch. But owing to this elaborate system of signaling, in which tens of thousands of people are engaged, this army, scattered over these vast areas, can be moved and brought into action with extraordinary rapidity, and enormous distances can be covered by either side in what seemed a few years ago to be an incredibly short space of time.
It did not seem to our commanders that General Rommel would dare to by-pass the desert Army, with its formidable armoured striking power, and push on to Cairo, and in this they were right; but in order that the desert Army should have the fullest freedom of manoeuvre a new Army has been brought into being along the line of the Nile and the Delta, where conditions prevail totally different from those which exist in the desert. In fact, you could not have a greater contrast in every military condition than is presented at the point where cultivation begins and the desert ends. Rommel was not, however, disposed to run the risk of going round and by-passing the Army, and he strove instead to repeat the tactics he had used at Gazala. He was met not only by British armour but by British artillery used on a scale hitherto unprecedented. We had many hundreds of 25-pounders, as good a field gun as exists in the world, as well as many hundreds of 6-pounder high velocity anti-tank guns in action. We had a good superiority in armour, though we were not quite equal in the heaviest gunned tanks, and we had once again undoubted mastery in the air. The attack of the Axis army, which had been reinforced up to 12 divisions and had also very powerful artillery, with some superiority in medium guns, and powerful armoured forces, was first brought to an abrupt standstill and then pressed slowly and steadily back with heavy losses of tanks any vehicles of all kinds. We are entitled to consider this last week's fighting as distinctly not unsatisfactory, especially when we compare it with what our position was 2 1/2 months ago. As to the future, I can only say that the desert Army will welcome every opportunity of fighting that is offered to it and that further developments may be awaited with good heart by all who are watching events in that theatre.
The striking feature in this theatre is, of course, the outstanding strength and resiliency of our Air Force. Three-quarters of the Air Force is British, but there are also some most gallant and-efficient Australian and South African squadrons and powerful United States air groups working with the Royal Air Force. Cooperation between the Air and the Army had been brought to the very highest degree in the days of General Auchinleck, and it is now renewed between Air Chief Marshal Tedder and General Alexander and Air Vice-Marshal Conyngham and General Montgomery. The Army and Air commanders in the field live and camp together in the same moving headquarters, and the Air Force rather than being divided among the troops is used as a whole in characteristic fashion for their benefit and, as far as I could see, not only for their benefit but to their very great satisfaction. The Air Force has played a decisive part throughout this campaign. Without its superior power, no one can say whether we should have got thus far. But the story is only half told and it would be inartistic to attempt to anticipate the further chapters which remain to be written.
Three times when I asked the question, "What do you think of the dive bombers?"-because I asked all sorts of questions of all sorts of people-I got the answer, "Which dive bombers?" from officers of different ranks. There is no doubt at all that our ground strafing aircraft and fighter bombers are achieving results at least equal to those of the Stukas without being vulnerable as the Stukas are when caught unprotected by their fighter escort. The most intense exertions have been made by all the air squadrons not only during the action but in the preparatory stages. I should not have thought it possible that such a high percentage of sorties could be maintained without detriment to health and efficiency. Nothing could exceed however the efficiency and ardour of all the airmen whom I saw, and nothing could exceed the admiration and good will in which the Air Force is held by their comrades in the Army. I took pains while I was there to visit and inspect almost every large formation, not only those at the front but others which were preparing in the rear. I spent five days in this way and was most kindly received by the troops, to whom I explained the extraordinary importance and significance of their task and its bearing upon the issues of the whole war. Their life in the fierce light of the desert, with its cool strong breezes, is hard but healthy. I have never seen an Army which deserved victory more, and I await with confident hope the further unfolding of the scroll of fate.
Apart from the changes in the High Command, I reached the conclusion that the Middle East Command was too extensive in itself, and that General Auchinleck had been unduly burdened by having to consider the problems of Persia and Iraq, some 600 or 700 miles away, at the same time that he had Rommel on his hands within 50 miles of Alexandria. I therefore obtained permission from my colleagues for the detaching of Persia and Iraq from the Middle Eastern Command and the making of a new and separate Command round the Tenth Army based on Basra and Baghdad. This sphere is given to Sir Henry Maitland-Wilson, who, from his command of the Ninth Army in Syria and Palestine, has already had opportunities of being thoroughly acquainted with the situation. The Tenth Army is being rapidly strengthened and, with the substantial Air Force which it will require, may eventually give support to the Russian left flank, and will in any case defend the soil of Persia.
During my visit to Cairo the Chief of the Imperial General Staff and I had the advantage of long consultations with General Wavell about India, with Lord Gort about Malta, and with General Platt about East Africa. In Cairo I was received by King Farouk and in Teheran by the Shah of Persia. Both these young rulers, who are also brothers-in-law, affirmed their loyalty to the cause of the United Nations, and the Shah of Persia was good enough to enter upon a most able exposition of the solid reasons which make the interests of Persia identical with the victory of Britain and her Allies.
The main purpose of my journey was, however, to visit Premier Stalin in Moscow. This was accomplished in two long flights with a break of Teheran. We flew across the two mountain systems, each about 300 miles wide, which lie South of the Caspian Sea and between which spreads the plain and plateau of Persia. Some of these peaks go up to 18,000 or 19,000 feet, but as we flew by day we had no need to go higher than 13,000 feet. We flew across long stretches of the Caspian Sea up the Ural River towards Kuibyshev (formerly Samara) and reached Moscow in the afternoon.
In this part of my mission I was accompanied by Mr. Averell Harriman, President Roosevelt's personal representative. The House will see that it was a great advantage to me to have the support of this most able and forceful man who spoke with the august authority of the President of the United States. We spent four days in conferences with Premier Stalin and Mr. Molotov, sitting sometimes for five and six hours at a time, and we went into everything with the utmost candour and thoroughness. At the same time, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff and General Wavell, who accompanied me, had further conferences with Marshals Voroshilov and Shaposhnikov and dealt with the more technical aspects of our joint affairs. Naturally I should not give any account of the subjects we discussed or still less of the conclusions which we reached. I have reported all these to the War Cabinet, and Mr. Harriman has reported them to President Roosevelt, but all must remain secret:
I may say, however, that the Russians do not think that we or the Americans have done enough so far to take the weight off them. This is not at all surprising, in view of the terrific onslaught which they are enduring and withstanding with such marvelous tenacity. No one in the last war would have deemed it possible that Russia could have stood up as she has been doing to the whole weight of the Teutonic armies. I say the whole weight, because, although there are 40 to 45 Germans divisions facing us in the West and holding down the subjugated countries, these numbers are more than made up against Russia by Finnish, Hungarian, Rumanian and Italian troops who have been dragged by Hitler into this frightful welter. It is a proof of the increased strength which Premier Stalin has given to Russia that this prodigious feat of the resistance of Russia alone to the equivalent of the whole of the Teutonic Army has been accomplished for so long and with so great a measure of success. It is difficult to make the Russians comprehend all the problems of the sea and of the ocean. We are sea animals and the United States are to a large extent ocean animals. The Russians are land animals. Happily, we are all three air animals. It is difficult to explain fully all the different characteristics of the war effort of various countries, but I am sure that we made their leaders feel confidence in our loyal and sincere resolve to come to their aid as quickly as possible and in the most effective manner without regard to the losses or sacrifices involved so long as the contribution was towards victory.
It was an experience of great interest to me to meet Premier Stalin. The main object of my visit was to establish the same relations of easy confidence and of perfect openness which I have built up with President Roosevelt. I think that, in spite of the accident of the Tower of Babel which persists as a very serious barrier in numerous spheres, I have succeeded to a considerable extent. It is very fortunate for Russia in her agony to have this great rugged war chief at her head. He is a man of massive outstanding personality, suited to the sombre and stormy times in which his life has been cast; a man of inexhaustible courage and will-power and a man direct and even blunt in speech, which, having been brought up in the House of Commons, I do not mind at all, especially when I have something to say of my own. Above all, he is a man with that saving sense of humour which is of high importance to all men and all nations, but particularly to great men and great nations. Stalin also left upon me the impression of a deep, cool wisdom and a complete absence of illusions of any kind. I believe I made him feel that we were good and faithful comrades in this war-but that, after all, is a matter which deeds not words will prove.
One thing stands out in my mind above all others from this visit to Moscow-the inexorable, inflexible resolve of Soviet Russia to fight Hitlerism to the end until it is finally beaten down. Premier Stalin said to me that the Russian people are naturally a peaceful people, but the atrocious cruelties inflicted upon them by the Germans have roused them to such a fury of indignation that their whole nature is transformed.
As I flew back to Cairo across the vast spaces, back across the Caspian Sea and the mountain ranges and deserts, I bore with me the conviction that in the British Empire, the United States and the Soviet Union, Hitler has forged an alliance of partnership which is strong enough to beat him to the ground and steadfast enough to persevere not only until his wickedness has been punished, but until some at least of the ruin he has wrought has been repaired.
We have recently been reminded that the third anniversary of the war has come and gone and that we are now entered upon the fourth year. We are indeed entitled, nay, bound, to be thankful for the inestimable and measureless improvements in our position which have marked the last two years. From being all alone, the sole champion left in arms against Nazi tyranny, we are now among the leaders of a majestic company of States and nations, including the greatest nations of the world, the United States and Russia, all moving forward together until absolute victory is won, and not only won but established upon unshakable foundations. In spite of all the disappointing episodes, disasters and sufferings through which we have passed, our strength has grown without halt or pause, and we can see each day that not only our own power but the weight of the United States becomes increasingly effective in the struggle.
Apart from the physical and mortal dangers of the war through which we have made our way so far without serious injury, there was a political danger which at one time seemed to me, at any rate, to be a formidable threat. After the collapse of France, when the German armies strode on irresistibly in triumph and conquest, there seemed to be a possibility that Hitler might establish himself as a kind of Charlemagne in Europe and would unite many countries under German sway while at the same time pointing to our island as the author of the blockade and the cause of all their woes. That danger, such as it was, and I certainly did not think it negligible, has rolled away. The German is now more hated in every country in Europe than any race has been since human records began. In a dozen countries Hitler's firing parties are at work every morning, and a dark stream of cold execution blood flows between the Germans and almost all their fellow men. The cruelties, the massacres of hostages, the brutal persecutions in which the Germans have indulged in every land into which their armies have broken have recently received an addition in the most bestial, the most squalid and the most senseless of all their offences, namely, the mass deportation of Jews from France, with the pitiful horrors attendant upon the calculated and final scattering of families. This tragedy fills one with astonishment as well as with indignation, and it illustrates as nothing else can the utter degradation of the Nazi nature and theme, and the degradation of all who lend themselves to its unnatural and perverted passions.
When the hour of liberation strikes in Europe, as strike it will, it will also be the hour of retribution. I wish most particularly to identify His Majesty's Government and the House of Commons with the solemn words which were used lately by the President of the United States, namely, that those who are guilty of the Nazi crimes will have to stand up before tribunals in every land where their atrocities have been committed in order that an indelible warning may be given to future ages and that successive generations of men may say, "So perish all who do the like again."