Allied War Gains
MASTERY NOW PRONOUNCED ON ALL FRONTS
By WINSTON CHURCHILL, Prime Minister of Great Britain
Delivered in the House of Commons, London, August 2, 1944
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. X, pp. 642-650
I HAVE upon the whole a good report to make to the House this afternoon. On every battlefront all over the world the armies of Germany and Japan are recoiling; they are recoiling before the armed forces of many nations which in various groupings form the Grand Alliance. In the air, and on land, and on the sea and under the sea, our well-established supremacy increases with steady strides.
Losses by U-boat since the beginning of 1944, compared with former years, are almost negligible. The vast Beets of the Allies have sailed the seas and oceans from January to June with less than half the losses we have inflicted upon the dwindling and largely immobile naval resources of the enemy, both in the East and in the West. It is always possible that there may be a return of the U-boat war. There is talk on the Germans trying to make faster U-boats under water. There is various talk, and it is never well to discount these matters. It is always possible that the Germans may gain some relative advantage in their aircraft.
For these reasons we must be very careful not to relax unduly either our precautions or our exertions in order to turn our strength to other channels when one danger is removed and another new opportunity presents itself; we must be very careful in view of the possibility of unexpected and uncertain things turning up in future. But at this moment, throughout the world, there is no theatre in which the Allies' mastery has not become pronounced.
Germany the Prime Foe
At Washington, in January, 1942, it was decided that Germany was the prime enemy and that only a minimum of forces necessary for safeguarding vital interests should be diverted to operations against Japan.
Our joint resources, British and American, however, increased so rapidly that it became possible to wage two wars simultaneously with offensive vigor. In the Pacific the immense armadas of the United States are equipped with aircraft and every conceivable form of craft needed on the sea for amphibious warfare, all on the largest scale, armed with science and led with commanding skill both on sea and land under both Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur, who commands not only American but also powerful Australian and New Zealand forces, and we have gained important and expanding success.
New Guinea has been dominated, the Marshalls and Saipan have been taken. The fleets and other forces of the United States have already advanced through the far-flung outer defenses of Japan, and in some parts have pierced to inner defenses, thus opening to us the prospect of a much more speedy climax in the Far East. Many scores of thousands of Japanese have been by-passed and are starving to death on islands or jungles, with only such aid from Japan as can be given by submarines, which have to be diverted from their normal warlike role.
Reverberations of these events in Japan, with the sense of growing weakness on the sea and in the air, the sense of vast dispersal of air forces, and economic tribulations at home, have produced the fall of Admiral Tojo, chief war leader of Japan, whose accomplice and close colleague, Admiral Yamamoto, declared at one time he would dictate his terms of peace to the United States in Washington.
It is not easy for us here to measure the character and the size of the forces which have produced this remarkable political and military convulsion in Japan. But they can hardly arise from conviction among the Japanese that Admiral Yamamoto's program is being realized as fully as he and Admiral Tojo had thought.
I must repeat that I am increasingly pleased to feel that the interval between the defeat of Hitler and the defeat of Japan will be much shorter, perhaps much shorter, than I at one time supposed.
In the Indian Theatre
the Indian theatre, coming step by step nearer home in this long long-distance war, the campaign in Burma has been difficult to follow in detail because of ceaseless fighting and the intricate character of the country.
Broadly speaking, it may be said that at Quebec last autumn we planned the advance into northern Burma with the object of giving greater security to the immense American air highway to China. The American highway carries far more tonnage than was ever delivered, or was likely to be delivered in measurable time, over the Burma Road, and the House may imagine what that vast effort by the United States, indispensable to the life of China, has involved.
We placed our hopes after Quebec in the new Supreme Commander, Admiral Mountbatten, and his brilliant lieutenant, Major General Wingate, who alas! has paid the soldier's debt. There was a man of genius who might also have become a man of destiny 1 He has gone, but his spirit lives on in the long-range penetration group which underlies all those intricate and daring military operations based on air transport and air supply. This forward move, which had been decided on at Quebec, involved rather more than a quarter of a million British and Imperial troops, with many more, and upon long and precarious communications which stretch back into India.
This move met at any early stage the Japanese movement in the opposite direction, which aimed at the invasion of India, and the cutting of the American air highway. These two opposing forces came into collision at many points along a 1,200-mile front in the early part of February and they have been locked in engagements intense and fearless ever since, with the result that the Japanese have been flung back at every point. At the same time important centers in north Burma were captured by brilliant operations commanded by General Stilwell from the north, with the participation of Chinese troops and the invaluable support of British long-range troops operating against the enemy's rear.
Forces in Distant Fields
The thanks of the country should go out to the British Fourteenth Army, which has done some of the hardest service in this war and must not be forgotten among all the violence and vividness of the larger and nearer events at home.
There are many others besides the Fourteenth Army whom we should not forget. When we think of the fighting forces we think naturally of those fighting on the main war fronts, but we should be wrong not to remember all those men who loyally serve our cause in distant lands and remote garrisons all over the world, whose steady, unspectacular work does not often get into the newspapers; men who have perhaps not felt the stimulus of battle, men who have not seen their families for over four or five years. They may be far away, but their work is an essential part of the pattern of victory and as such it rests forever in our hearts.
To return to Burma: Admiral Mountbatten and his commanders have fought a successful and vigorous campaign in these unprofitable jungles and swamps in which our duty lies. The Japanese everywhere have been driven back, sustaining losses far exceeding our own. India has been successfully defended from invasion for another year, the air line to China strengthened and maintained and danger warded further off from these necessary bases.
In addition, Admiral Somerville, who is now at the head of the powerful British Eastern Fleet, which includes French and Dutch units, has shown enterprise in his attacks on Sabang and Surabaya and other Japanese posts in the Dutch East Indies. Our fleets in eastern waters will be greatly Strengthened by the end of the year.
It is true, however, that the Japanese Navy will have its time fully taken up by the United States Navy, which is already double the size of the fleet of that presumptuous, ambitious and treacherous Oriental power.
I thought it right to bring this Burma scene before the House. Our men out there are cheered by the fact that the House of Commons follows with attentive eyes their fortunes.
Invasion of France
Now I come to the larger picture. Volumes would be required to recount the story of the crossing of the Channel and the landing of the armies of liberation upon the soil of France. I have only a few minutes, and therefore I must practice a selective method as far as possible.
In April, 1943, General Morgan of the British Army became head of the British and American planning staff which surveyed the whole project by decision of the combined Chiefs of Staff committee. They made the plan which I took with me last year to Quebec, where it was submitted to the President and combined British and American Chiefs of Staff. This plan selected the beaches for attack and presented the main operations of the scheme, together with a mass of detail to support it. It received in principle complete agreement.
It is rather remarkable that a secret of this character, which had to be entrusted from the beginning to scores, and very soon to hundreds and ultimately to thousands of people, never leaked out, either in the small confines of this island or in the wide expanses of the United States.
At Teheran we promised Marshal Stalin that we should put this plan, or something like it, into operation at the end of May or the beginning of June, and he promised, on his part, that the whole of the Russian armies would be thrown indeed they have been, into the general battle in the east.
Tribute to Eisenhower
In January of this year the commanders were appointed. The Mediterranean became the British command under General Wilson, and General Eisenhower assumed command of the expeditionary forces gathering in Britain.
No man has ever labored more skillfully and more intensively for the unification and good-will of the great forces under his command than General Eisenhower. He has the genius for bringing all the Allies together and is proud to consider himself the Allied as well as the United States commander.
The names of all the distinguished commanders are already familiar to the House and to the country. General Eisenhower forthwith entrusted General Montgomery with command of the invasion troops, British and American.
For more than a year American stores, equipment and men had been moving steadily into this island, and we ourselves had selected from the British armies here an expeditionary force which was practically as large as that of the United States in the opening stage.
The great reinforcements which flowed in from America have altered this and will continually alter it, but in all this great adventure we are practically equal. The training of all these troops was undertaken in most strenuous fashion. Plans were also provided for successive landings which were to be made in relation to the major thrust.
Channel Crossing Critical
The great episode seemed to everyone to be the crossing of the Channel with its stormy waters, swift currents and eighteen-foot rise and fall of tide and, above all, changes of
weather, which, when an operation as big as this has to be undertaken, may cut an army off on shore for many days without anyone being able to get at them to reinforce them or withdraw them, and thus leave them to the mercy of a superior enemy.
That was an element, and this possible change in weather certainly did hang like a vulture poised in the sky over the heads of the most sanguine. But in all this matter the work of Combined Operations Headquarters, founded in 1940 under Admiral Keyes for the purpose of amphibious warfare, and its development in 1942 under Admiral Mountbatten, proved its value.
As is well known, I was opposed to making this great invasion across the Channel in 1942, and thereafter it was plainly impossible owing to our having chosen the Mediterranean and our amphibious resources all being concentrated there. But now we were all agreed and the commanders took all the vast mass of knowledge which was accumulated and put their own stamp upon it.
I do not believe myself that this vast enterprise could have been executed earlier. We had not the experience, we had not the tackle. But before we launched the attack in 1944 we-had made five successful opposed landings in the Mediterranean and a mass of wonderful craft of all kinds had been devised by our services and by our United States colleagues on the other side of the ocean.
The bulk of this had to be constructed in the United States, although our yards were strained and glutted to the utmost. There are more than sixty variants of those landing craft and escorting vessels and they provide not only for the landing of the Army but for everything that Army needs.
I myself saw a few days after the landing was completed six of these medium landing craft charge up in line together until they were stopped by a sloping sandy beach. Down went their drawbridges, out poured their vehicles and in under five minutes the whole heavy battery was drawn up in column of route along the road ready for almost immediate; action. In less than fifteen minutes these craft had pushed themselves off the shore and were returning to England for another consignment.
A new light is playing on the possibility of invading across the Channel, light which I hope will not be altogether lost upon our own people in the days when we have handed over our burdens to others.
The marvelous duck of American invention is a heavy] lorry which goes between forty and fifty miles an hour along a road, plunges into water and swims out several miles to sea in quite choppy weather, returning to shore with a load of several tons and going to wherever it is specially needed.
An immense system of harbors, breakwaters and landing stages was also prepared as soon as a foothold was gained and they could be disposed in their proper places to give large sheltered water space.
In less than a month harbors had been created compared with which Dover seems small. At these harbors and on the beaches they protected a very large army with the entire elaborate equipment of modern armies, which have about one vehicle to every four or five men, was landed. And by the end of June, in spite of the worst June gales for forty years, a solid base had been created which gave us the certainty of being able to conduct an offensive campaign on the largest scale against any force which, according to our calculations the enemy was likely to bring.
Role of Naval and Air Forces
These operations were protected and supported by a considerable British fleet, assisted by a strong detachment of the American fleet, the whole under Admiral Ramsay. In spite of gales, in spite of mines, in spite of more than 100 German submarines waiting baffled in Biscay ports and of swarms of E-boats and other marauders, ceaseless traffic has been maintained over a 100-mile stretch of the Channel, and General Eisenhower, with his lieutenant, General Montgomery, now stands at the head of a very large and powerful army equipped as no army has ever been equipped before.
Overwhelming air power was, of course, as indispensable as sea power to the carrying out of such an operation. Strategic bombing by the combined British and American Bomber Forces and the use of medium bombers and the fighter force was an essential prelude to our landing in Normandy. Preparation definitely began for the battle in April and not only at the point of attack, for that would have revealed it, but necessarily all along the coast and far in the rear. Thus when our ships crossed the Channel unseen and unmolested half the guns which were to have blown them out of the water were either already dismounted or silenced.
And when the counter-attack began on land and under the sea, the Tactical and Coastal Air Forces held it back while our foothold on shore and our ceilings were being firmly established.
These deeds of the Air Force were not done without losses which in killed and in proportion to their number of flying personnel far exceed those of any other branch of the services. If we take April 1 as the opening of the air campaign, from then until June 30, over 7,000 men of the home commands of the RAF alone had been killed or are missing. United States losses are also most severe. The devotion of the pilots and air crews of both countries was sublime.
Enemy's Losses Double
Since those days we have been in constant battle, Gen. Omar Bradley clearing Cherbourg Peninsula and General Dempsey occupying the area around Caen. We have inflicted losses on the enemy which are about double those which we have suffered ourselves.
That is remarkable, considering we were the challengers and conditions were unusual compared with the experiences of the last war. We have been hampered continually by most unseasonable weather, which, by early mists and low clouds, has day by day put off operations by rendering impossible the avalanche of fire and steel by which the air power prepares for an attack.
Now at last we are beginning to gain that space to deploy which is necessary for armies of the size we are using. I must confess that the latest news seems to me extremely good.
The First American Army, advancing down the Atlantic coast, has reached the line of the River Selune and may well be approaching the important railway center of Rennes, about half-way across the base of the Brest Peninsula. Farther to the east the Americans have by-passed the town of Villedieu and captured Brecy. British attack has also made very good progress and has advanced in the center about twelve miles. On the Canadian front, south of Caen, we attacked yesterday and heavy fighting is in progress. We are largely superior to the enemy in men, in armor and in air and, I have little doubt, in mobility also once the front has opened out.
It is the wish of General Eisenhower that the battles in Normandy should be viewed as a whole, as one set of single operations conducted by the Allied forces linked in brotherhood and intermingled in every manner that may seem convenient. This should certainly not prevent the House of Commons from expressing its unstinted admiration at the splendid and spectacular victories gained by the United States troops under General Bradley, both at Cherbourg and in the southward march, now becoming almost a gallop down the peninsula.
Lessons Taught to Germans
The Germans have certainly had remarkable opportunities of revising the mocking and insulting terms which they put upon the military value of the American Army at the time they declared war on the great Republic.
We British, and Canadians too, have taken our full share in the fierce and prolonged conflicts. We have fulfilled the indispensable part which was assigned to us by the Supreme Commander and, under him, by General Montgomery. If General Eisenhower as Supreme Commander, or General Montgomery, as his lieutenant in the field, had ever in slightest degree to consider whether they would employ British or American or Canadian troops in this way or that, here or there, on any grounds other than purely military grounds, those officers would have been hampered in most grievous manner.
But lest our enemies should suggest on their wireless that the burden of the struggle has been unfairly shared, or, make invidious comparisons of any kind, let me say that the losses of the British and Canadian Forces together are about equal to those of the larger United States Army in proportion to their relative strengths. It has been share and share alike, in good fortune and bad, all along the front.
So far as it has already gone this is certainly a glorious story, not only liberating fields of France from atrocious enslavement but also uniting in bonds of true comradeship the great democracies of the West and the English-speaking peoples of the world.
This is all I wish to say about the actual operations across the Channel today. Members would be well advised to follow them with the closest attention through the full and excellent accounts which are given in the press. Very often they are ahead of official news and are not wrong because more care has to be taken about anything that is said officially. The most lively and true picture is given by the press at the present time of this fighting so near to home.
Aid of American Tanks
I promised some weeks ago to refer to the question of British tanks before the end of the session. With the permission of the House I will make a short divagation from my theme, as this is the last opportunity.
I have told the House how at the time of the fall of Tobruk the President gave us the first 350 Sherman tanks, which had already been issued to the American Army, and we know they played a key part in the Battle of El Alamein. When I went back to America a year after I found there was now an ample supply of these tanks, formerly so precious? and rare. The might of American mass production had got into its stride and they were able to offer three or four thousand more of these invaluable weapons.
This was a great advantage to us. We were able to carry through further redisposition of our tank program and to reduce the scale of our production, thus releasing manpower and materials for making other instruments of war which were urgently required. We were able also to carry through development of the Cromwell, Churchill and other types in orderly manner, free from any fear of a shortage of tanks.
In the hands of our troops the Sherman tank has maintained its reputation, gained in Africa, at every stage in battles in Italy and Normandy. It is, of course, essentially a cruiser tank, like the Cromwell, which is the latest type of British cruiser tank.
Both of these types of tanks are reported to be excellent and trustworthy for the purpose for which they were designed. As the House knows, we succeeded in mounting a 17-pounder gun on the Sherman—a remarkable feat—and many hundreds of these are either in action in Normandy or moving thither in a steady stream. General Montgomery has written me as follows:
"In fighting to date," he says, "we have defeated the Germans in battle and we have had no difficulty in dealing with German armor once we had grasped the problem. In this connection British armor has played a notable part.
Enemy Tanks Outclassed
"The Panther and Tiger tanks are unreliable mechanically and the Panther is very vulnerable from the flanks. Our 17-pounder gun will go right through them. Provided our tactics are good, we can defeat them without difficulty." Well, they say, the customer is always right. The Cromwell, of course, possesses superior speed. It will be especially effective if we come into more open country.
As for the Sherman tank, I saw with my own eyes last week an example of the work of the 17-pounder. It was on the approaches to Caen. There was an expanse of large fields of waving corn out of which a gray stone village rose.
Generals Montgomery and Dempsey brought me to the spot and invited me to count the broken down Panther tanks which were littered about. I counted nine in the space of about a thousand yards. The generals told me that all these nine had been shot by the 17-pounder of one British Sherman tank from the side of a village wall. One could not help being impressed by these things when one sees them with one's own eyes.
Of course, you will not get the same armor on a thirty-ton tank as you will on one of sixty tons, but reliability and maneuverability also count high, and when a 17-pounder is I added to all these qualities no one has the right to say that these lighter tanks are not fitted in every way for their tasks—the wise and farseeing use of our war power.
Of course, all this must be causing pain and sorrow to Mr. Stokes.
Mr. Stokes (Labor): It is not the whole story.
Mr. Churchill: Mr. Stokes must pull himself together, for there is worse to come. The notorious Churchill tank, the most thick-skinned weapon in Europe, has already won commendation. This tank was originally conceived in 1940 for fighting in the lanes and in the enclosed country of these islands and in spite of every form of abuse, as well as of difficulties inherent upon haste in design and construction, it is once again coming into its own, as it did for a short while in north Tunisia in 1942.
It is coming into its own because conditions in France and the parts of Italy in which we are now fighting are extremely suitable to its climbing and maneuverable qualities.
No particular type can be perfect. The Tiger and Panther are essentially weapons of defense, whereas the Cromwell and Sherman belong to the offensive. The Churchill can either be defensive or offensive as circumstances may require.
Gen. Oliver Leese reports as follows about the fighting in Italy:
"It may interest you to know," he says, "of the fine performance of the Churchill tanks which supported the Canadian Corps when they attacked and broke through the Adolf Hitler Line last month. The Churchill stood up to a lot of punishment from heavy anti-tank guns. Several tanks were hard hit without the crews being injured. They got across some amazingly rough ground. Their 6-pounder guns made good penetration and were quick to load and aim."
In the recent fighting in France similar distinction has been gained by these weapons in assault on some of the wooded hills and in this very densely enclosed country in which our center is now moving.
No New German Weapons
There is one more general feature which has emerged from the fighting in Normandy to which I must draw the attention of the House. No new tank, weapon or type of ammunition has been employed by the enemy. He has brought forward nothing new so far, whereas we have put into action the Sherman tank mounting the 17-pounder, the latest Churchill tank and the new Cromwell tank, and we have also a number of interesting variants of very great ingenuity which I cannot tell the House about today because we do not know whether the enemy has had the opportunity of testing them and facing them.
Only when they know can it be revealed. One has toj be very careful, of course, not to reveal anything which seems to take away any advantage that our troops and Allies may enjoy.
In leaving this subject of equipment I am going to do something, that has never been done before, and I hope the House will not be shocked at this breach of precedent. I am going to make public a word of praise for the War Office. In all the forty years I have served in this House I have heard that department steadily abused, before, during and after our various wars, and if my memory serves me aright I have frequently taken part in well-merited criticism which has been their lot.
Praise for War Office
When last I saw General Montgomery in the field he used these words, which he authorized me to repeat if I chose. He said:
"I doubt if the British War Office has ever sent an army overseas so well equipped as the one now fighting in Normandy."
I must say I think it is a well-justified statement. The punctual movement and supply oi our large armies in so many various theatres, the high standard of training imparted to the troops, the smoothness with which arrangements of all kinds are fitted together, the meticulous care bestowed upon equipment in all its forms, the efficiency of the hospitals, the large share taken by officers in the army in devising instruments of amphibious warfare and the whole manner in which the affairs of millions of men now with the colors at home and abroad have been handled, reflect the highest credit on the War Office. With all its innumerable branches and ' enormous staff, military and civilian they all deserve credit and none more than the chief of the Imperial General Staff, that great officer, General Brooke, and also the Secretary of State for War. [Members called to Sir James Grigg, "Stand up!"
Not only in the War Office but throughout the service departments the whole method and execution of the war policy stands, I believe, at this moment at a higher level than has ever been reached before and at a level that compares not unfavorably with similar organizations in any Other country, friend or foe. War is a hard school, but the British, once compelled to go there, are attentive pupils. To say this is by no means inconsistent with any criticisms it may be necessary to put forward from time to time.
Campaign in Italy
I most now turn to the campaign of General Alexander 4 in Italy. When I spoke about this in February, how different was the scene! Our armies seemed to be frustrated, dammed up in the defiles and caverns of Cassino, the landing force at Anzio having to fight for its very existence, very heavy losses, the enemy sending reinforcements down, and so forth, and the effect of the standstill. Criticisms began, as they do wherever success is absent, of those responsible.
But now the scene has been changed by a series of very rapid and brilliant maneuvers based upon the effective share of our fighting—sheer, dogged, ding-dong fighting—the whole scene has changed and the army has rapidly advanced. It has Rung its claws around Rome, protecting that city from all danger, absolutely from all danger now.
General Alexander's army has rolled forward rapidly, pushing the enemy before it, taking 50,000 to 60,000 prisoners, and now stands before Florence. It has gained the invaluable ports of Leghorn and Ancona, and has brought forward their bridgeheads into" closer proximity with the army.
We have had, of course, to move up the Italian peninsula with very unsatisfactory lines of supplies, but with the command of the sea and of ports and the advance of railheads the position of that army became very greatly strengthened. We can hope that operations will be continued with the utmost vigor by General Alexander throughout the autumn.
It is an extraordinary army. There never has been anything like it. This is a war of the United Nations. With British and United States we have many other troops. There are Japanese, American Japanese troops, fighting with great vigor. Greeks are coming—some are already there—and that force is already beginning to take its place in the field. There are South Africans and there are French and there are Poles who have greatly distinguished themselves, and, of course, playing a most important part are the gallant Indians. There are also the powerful Canadians.
It is a most extraordinary party of all the nations advancing to cleanse the soil of Italy. Italians are also there respectable Italians—and they have been fighting well and we are going to increase their numbers.
Feat of the Red Armies
I must say in talking ofi these various campaigns all over the world that I have left an obvious essential name until this point, namely that it is the Russian Army that has done the main work of tearing the guts out of the Germany Army. In the air and on the ocean and seas we can maintain ourselves, but there was no force in the world which could have been called into being except after several more years that would have been able to maul and break the German Army and subject it to such terrible slaughter and manhandling as has fallen upon the Germans by the Russian Soviet armies.
I salute Marshal Stalin, that great champion of his country, and I firmly believe that our twenty years' treaty with Russia will prove to be one of the most lasting and durable factors in preserving peace and order and progress in Europe.
It may well be that the Russian successes have been somewhat aided by the strategy of Corporal Hitler. Even military idiots find it difficult not to see some faults in some of his actions. Here he now finds himself with perhaps ten divisions in North Finland and twenty or thirty cut off in the Baltic States, all of which three or four months ago might have been brought with their materials and weapons to stand between Germany and the Russian advance.
However, we must not tell him how to do it, but it is far too late for him to do that now. On the whole I think it is better for officers to rise in the proper way. One cannot take more than a sweeping glance of the World War as it approaches the end of its fifth year and as it approaches perhaps its closing stage.
5,340 Robot Bombs Launched
I naturally end my military survey at home here in famous and mighty London; in London, which with surrounding counties, particularly those upon bomb highways, now has been under almost continual bombardment for seven weeks.
The latest figures available show that 5,340 of these robots have been launched upon us, killing 4,735 persons, with 14,000 more or less seriously injured. There are also many slightly injured. The result has been a sad tale of human sorrow and suffering and wholesale destruction at home, with all the circumstances attaching to people who have lost their little possessions.
We are sure our defenses are gaining in power. We are pressing to the utmost our counter-offensive measures. The patience and courage of our people, at a time when in London they might have thought their trials were past, have been wonderful. We are sure the people will continue to the end. I fear greatly raising false hopes, but I no longer feel bound to deny that victory may come perhaps soon. If not, we must go on until it does. There will be unfading honor for all brave hearts that never failed. The work of all Civil Defense Services men and women have been model. About 17,000 houses have been totally destroyed and about 800,000 received damage.
Houses Three-Quarters Restored
One can judge the efficiency and vigor of the measures taken by the Ministries involved—the Ministries of Labor, Health and Works—and the strength our building and repair resources throughout the country to which volunteers have come forward in large numbers, by the fact that three-quarters, or upward of 600,000, already have been made at least habitable again. In the last two weeks the rate at which damage had been overtaken by repairs has very sensibly increased. Nearly 1,000,000 people who have no war business here, among them 225,000 mothers with children, have been encouraged and assisted to leave London and, thanks to the hospitality and kindness of those in areas not affected, have been welcomed and comforted. There have been a few exceptions, but they are not worth recording, except for the purpose of reproof.
A large number of extra trains were laid on to meet this considerable outward move. It is remarkable, as showing the outlook of the people, that many of these trains, including sometimes many of the relief trains, have come back to London nearly as full as they went out. While daring and adventurous spirit is to be commended, this kind of needless risk should be discouraged in every way. I only mention this now because it gives the lie in the most effective measure to fantastic German stories of London being in panic under a perpetual pall of smoke and flame. If the Germans imagine that continuance of this present attack, which costs them very dear in many branches of production, will have the slightest effect upon the course of the war, or upon the resolves of the nation, or upon the morale of the men, women and children who are under fire, they will only be making another of those psychological blunders for which they for so long have been celebrated.
No Diversion of Strength
The only result of the use of this indiscriminate weapon, as far as they are concerned will be that the severity of punishment which they will receive after their weapons have been struck from their hands by our fighting men will be appreciably increased. There is no question of diverting our strength from extreme prosecution of the war or of allowing this particular infliction to weaken in any way our energetic support of our Allies. Every effort in man's power is being made to prevent and mitigate the effect of these bombardments. Hundreds of the most expert brains we have are constantly riveted upon the problem, but I do not guarantee that it will be completely solved until we have occupied the regions from which these bombs are launched.
Very careful plans have been prepared, for instance, for artillery and gun depots, but it is not always possible to foresee accurately what form attack will take or how things will go.
At the same time as these operations, quite different distribution of guns had to be made to guard the invasion ports from which our convoys had to start. We expected that very likely flying bombs would begin at the same time as we landed, in order to cheer up the German people. But there was a slight interval, and it was convenient. In that interval we were able to make a quick redistribution of batteries. It was a very complicated matter, and I may say I am glad members of the House have attended various meetings addressed by the Home Secretary and the Parliamentary Secretary and been able to ask him questions.
No Constitutional Issue Seen
I cannot understand how anyone can see any constitutional issue involved. It is likely that a grave constitutional issue would arise if members were hampered and obstructed in taking counsel with one another. I think it would be unfortunate if a kind of gulf were made between Ministers and other members, as if they were the elite of Parliament and had no right to mingle with their Parliamentary colleagues.
I can think of a good many arguments I could use to free us of the charge of having infringed the Constitution. I say hundreds of the best brains we have are riveted on the task. But I can hold out no guarantee that it will be speedily solved until we have occupied regions from which these bombs are launched, as we shall no doubt do before the unconditional surrender of the enemy is received, but then that would be good enough.
So long ago as Feb. 22 I warned the House that Hitler was preparing to attack this country by new methods, and it is quite possible that attempts will be made with long-range rockets containing heavier explosive charges than the flying bombs and intended to produce a great deal more mischief. London, we may expect, will be the primary target on account of the probable inaccuracy of the rocket weapon. We therefore have advised the classes for whom evacuation facilities have been provided by the Government and with no war duties here, or who could make their own arrangements, to take the opportunity of leaving the capital in a gradual and orderly manner.
It is by no means certain that the enemy has solved the difficult technical problems connected with rockets, and particularly with aiming rockets. None the less, I do not wish in any way to minimize the ordeal to which we may be subjected, except to say that it is not one which we will not be able to bear. This fact must be added to what I hare said.
A member put a question to the Secretary of State for Air to answer which I thought might come in here, so he kindly consented to defer his question. I think it makes a grim comment on what I have just been saying. The weight of flying bombs launched upon this country from the evening of June 15 to the evening of July 31, is estimated to be some 4,500 tons. During the same period Allied air forces dropped approximately 48,000 tons of high explosive bombs on Germany. Of course we try in the main to aim at military objectives, but it may be that loss of life occurs in particular places. But these weapons have no other object than indiscriminate slaughter of the civilian population.
Takes Up Foreign Affairs
I now approach, not without natural anxiety, the delicate subject of foreign affairs. I still hold the view, which I expressed last time, that as the war enters its final phase it has become and will become increasingly less ideologcal.
Confusion was caused in some minds by mixing ideology with idealism, whereas there is, in fact, quite a notable difference between them. While I cherish idealism as a cheerful light playing over the thoughts and hopes of men and inspiring! noble deeds, ideology too often presents itself as undue regimentation of ideas and may very likely be incompatible with freedom.
I have rejoiced to see Fascist ideology overthrown and look forward to its complete extirpation in Italy. I rejoice in the prospect, now becoming sure and certain, that the Nazi ideology enforced in a hideous manner on a vast population will presently be beaten to the ground. These facts and manifestations which I see taking place continually as the World War crashes onward to its close make me increasingly confident that when it is won, when the hateful and aggressive Nazi and Fascist systems have been laid low and every precaution taken against them ever rising again, there may arise a new brotherhood among men which will not be based upon crude antagonisms of ideologies but upon the broad, simple and homely ideals of peace, of justice and of freedom.
Therefore I am glad that the war has become less an ideological war between rival systems and more and more a means by which high ideals and solid benefits may be achieved by broad masses of people in many lands, and ultimately in all.
Improvements in Several Quarters
Since I spoke last on the general situation to the House, marked improvements have occurred in several quarters. Foreign affairs are powerfully influenced by the movement of the war situation. The successes which I have been recounting have carried all our affairs into a more favorable condition. Among the first of those is a very great improvement in the relations of the French National Committee, headed by General de Gaulle, with the Government of the United States. This arose in part from careful spadework done over here by Mr. Eden, and from the great success which attended General de Gaulle's visit to the President of the United States.
In these last four years I have had many differences with General de Gaulle, but I have never forgotten, and can never forget, that he stood forth the first eminent Frenchman to face the common foe in what seemed to be the hour of the ruin of his country, and possibly the ruin of ours, and it is only fair and becoming that he should stand forth first and foremost in the days when France shall again be raised and raise herself to her fighting place among the great powers of Europe.
For forty years I have been a consistent friend of France and her brave army. All my life I have been grateful for the contribution which France has made to culture, to glory and, above all, to the sense of personal liberty and the rights of man. All this had radiated from the soul of France. This is not a matter of sentiment or personal feeling. It is one of the main interests of Britain that friendly France should regain and hold her place among the major powers in Europe and in the world. Show me a moment when I have swerved from this conception and you will show me a moment when I have been wrong—one of many moments when I have been wrong.
Cites Trotsky at Brest-Litovsk
I never liked Trotsky, but there was one thing he said at the time of the brutal German treaty of Brest-Litovsk which stuck in my mind. He said to the Germany bullies, "The destiny of a great nation never yet has been settled by the temporary condition of technical apparatus."
So it will be with France, struck down in a few weeks of agony and deprived thereafter of the power of self-expression and almost the right of existence. But the soul of France did not diet It burned here and there with exceptional brightness; it burned over wider areas with dim but unquenchable flame.
Our landing in Normandy, the course of the war, the whole tide of events, show quite clearly that we shall presently once again have to deal with the problems of France and Germany along the Rhine, and from that discussion France can by no means be excluded. I look forward to the closest association of the British Empire, the United States and the Russian and French representatives in the settlement of these important European problems. We are in an alliance of united, peace-loving nations who have been forced to take up arms to defend our fundamental rights, and we must not fail in the hour of victory to make the arrangements necessary to continue to use the peace for which we shall have so dearly fought.
I must pay my tribute to the House for the wise forbearance it showed a few weeks ago in discouraging debate on British, French and American relations. That was a time much more critical than this, and the fact that this House, which is, after all, all-powerful in these matters, deliberately abstained from discussing a question in which interest ran high on all sides, was extremely helpful to the conduct of foreign affairs by Mr. Eden and furthered the smooth deployment of our policy. Everyone should bear in mind the unusual complexities which attend the foreign policy of this island in the world coalition of which we are a member. We have first of all the Dominions to consider and consult.
Fields of "Triangular Diplomacy"
Then there are three great powers. We have two valiant and trusted allies who are larger and, in some respects, more powerful than we are. We all mean the same thing on fundamentals and essentials, but to reach agreement from day to day on tactics and details is necessarily an elaborate business. Here we enter the fields of triangular diplomacy, where we all have to telegraph to each other, and when two are agreed the third has amendments to propose, and when all are agreed the subject has ceased to be so urgent. How could you have it otherwise with so many different angles, characteristic and historic and national, from which these matters have to be approached?
I have said before that if the heads of the three Governments could meet once a month there would be no problems between us which could not be swiftly and, I trust, sensibly solved. Geographical and locomotion difficulties thrust their obstructing hands before such constant reunions, and correspondence, however faithfully conceived, is no substitute for meeting round a small table. The three principal Allies have to deal from day to day with all kinds of burning issues arising in eight or ten vanquished, occupied, or neutral States, two or three of which have quite healthy civil wars in prospect or in progress.
When I recall and survey all the complexities of arriving together at a united agreement I think the Governments of the United States, Britain and Soviet Russia have done pretty well, but great patience and unceasing desire to understand each others point of view are necessary between great powers, and the House of Commons can help everybody by taking a broad and tolerant view. In my opinion, this is a hopeful moment for Poland, for whose rights and independence we entered the war against Germany. We therefore did our best, Eden and I, with others late into the night to promote the visit of Mikolajczyk, the Polish Prime Minister, and other members of his Cabinet to Moscow, where Marshal Stalin was willing to receive them.
Roosevelt Favored Poles' Trip
The President of the United States was also favorable. How could it be otherwise in this matter, considering his deep interest in the Polish question? Russian armies now stand before the gates of Warsaw. They bring the liberation of Poland in their hands. They offer freedom, sovereignty and independence to the Poles. They ask that there shall be a Poland friendly to Russia.
This seems to me very reasonable, seeing the injury which Russia has suffered from Germany's marching across Poland to attack them. The Allies would welcome another general rallying, or fusion, of Polish forces, both those who are working with the Western powers and those with the Soviets. We have several gallant Polish divisions fighting in the West and there are others fighting in Russia. Let them come together. We desire this. It would be a marvelous thing if this foundation could be laid at the moment when the famous capital of Poland, which so valiantly defended herself against German invasion, had been liberated by the bravery of Russian arms!
Conditions in Yugoslavia have sensibly improved since I last dwelt with this topic in the House. The lawful King of Yugoslavia, who came to us under our advice in his distress, has gathered around him, under the Ban of Croatia, a government which is in friendly contact with Marshal Tito. Representatives of the fighting administrations of Partisans have taken their seats in this new government, and we have here General Velbit, a marvelous and accomplished soldier and thinker, who is the liaison between the King's government and the forces led by Marshal Tito. We are working for unity here for one purpose alone, here as elsewhere, namely, the gathering together of the whole united strength of Yugoslavia—Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and the cleansing of their soil from the foul German invader. This union and this hurling out, I can assure you, have good chances of being accomplished before long.
The Foreign Secretary made a statement to the House last week about Greece which had the full assent of the War Cabinet and marks the line we are taking. The government of Papandreo is broadly representative of all the main forces in Greece, and this new figure which has sprung upon the stage seems to recall in many ways the vigor and courage of personality of the great Venizelos, whose son is also associated with the Greek Government.
Rumania in a Tight Box
Now it does seem to me that Rumania primarily must make their terms with Russia, whom they have so outrageously assaulted and at whose mercy they will soon lie. Russia has offered generous terms to Rumania. I have no doubt they would be accepted with gratitude by the Rumanian people if only the Rumanian leaders had not the Prussian automatic pistol pressed at their breast or the nape of their neck. On this line we intend to fight. By fighting in this I mean arguing and then, if necessary, voting.
In the eastern Mediterranean it has fallen to us to handle most of the business. We lost about 30,000 men in Greece. We have unbreakable ties with that historic land. We keep our two great Allies informed constantly of everything we do, and we endeavor, not without good fortune in the main, to carry our Allies with us. A measure of success has, I think, attended our recent handling of events. The Greek Navy is once again at sea, a Greek brigade will soon take its place in the line of battle in Italy. Greek air squadrons are also doing useful work. The same is true of Bulgaria—thrice thrown into wars on the wrong side by a most miserable set of criminal politicians, who seem to be available for their country's ruin generation after generation. Three times in my life has this wretched Bulgaria subjected her peasant population to the pains of war and the chastisementof defeat.
Bulgaria Urged to Hurry
For them also the moment of repentance has not passed, but it is passing swiftly. The whole of Europe is sliding irresistibly into new and secure foundations. 'What will be the place of Bulgaria at the judgment seat when the petty and cowardly part she has played in this war is revealed and when the entire Yugoslav and Greek nations, through their representatives, will unfold at the Allied armistice table the dismal tale of the work the Bulgarian Army has done in their countries as cruel lackeys of the fallen Nazi power?
In the Mediterranean war theatre we recently had the satisfaction of welcoming as our comrades in arms a finely equipped expeditionary force from Brazil, and there are more legions to come from this great land, which for a long time has been rendering valuable war service to the Allied cause, both in the air and on the sea.
As an Englishman, I may be pardoned for thinking at this moment of another great South American country with which we have had close ties of friendship and mutual interest since her birth to liberty and independence. I refer to Argentina.
We must all feel deep regret and also anxiety, as friends of Argentina, that in this testing time of nations she has not seen fit to declare herself wholeheartedly and unmistakably, with no reserve and qualification, on the side of freedom and has chosen to dally with evil, and also not only with evil but I with the losing side. Nations must be judged by the parts they play. Not only belligerents, but neutrals, will find that their position in the world will not remain entirely unaffected by the part they may have chosen to play in- the crisis of war.
Turkey's Stand Explained
When I last spoke I made some observations about Turkey which the House might remember. I have great regard for the Turks, and there is a military tradition in the British Army of sympathy and alliance with them. In the last war they were turned against us by the influence of a handful of men and by the arrival of a single ship of war. We must not forget that Turkey declared her alliance with us before the present war, when our armaments were weak and our policy pacific.
I visited Turkey in February last year and had a length^ conference with President Inonu and his Prime Minister Saracoglu. We had further conferences after Teheran, when we met near the Pyramids. I am well aware of the difficulties of Turkey. When the war began she felt herself a strong military power. She looked out on the ranks of her brave army, on her unrivaled cavalry and infantry. She felt herself a strong military power and she was very resolute in her good-will toward England and France.
Presently there appeared an entirely new set of weapons—aircraft, tanks, self-propelled artillery, mechanization in every form, which altered the relative strength of armaments and seemed to be the only means by which victory could be produced. The Turkish Army was by no means modern. It was very much as it came out of the last war. I understand plainly the feelings of military prudence which made action by Turkey less strong when these new facts were apparent to them all of a sudden at the beginning of great battles.
But these deficiencies have to a considerable extent been repaired. German power is falling under the mighty Allied flail, and with the contribution which we and the United States are making in Italy and France, with the advance of Russia in the region of the Black Sea, I feel that the Turksare in a more secure position than they have ever been since the war began. They would not be committing themselves to dangers against which they had no shield if they came forward on the side of their friends.
Break With Germany Announced
Mister Speaker, I have the authority of the Turkish Government to announce here this afternoon in the House of Commons that, on the basis of the Anglo-Turkish Alliance, Turkey has broken off all relations with Germany.
This fact infuses new life into the alliance we made with Turkey before the war. No one can tell whether Germany or Bulgaria will attack Turkey. If so, we will make common cause with her and shall take the. German menace as well as we can in our stride. No one can expect to enter this conflict and not suffer. Turkish cities may receive the kind of bombardment we have never shrunk from here. Herr von Papen may be sent back to Germany to meet the blood bath which he so narrowly escaped at Hitler's hand in 1934. I can take no responsibility in those matters. It was the policy of Mustapha Kemal to bring about close unity of action between the Russian and Turkish peoples. I hope this new step will contribute to the continuity of friendship of Turkey and Russia.
[Sir Hugh O'Neill, County Antrim: "Does that mean that Turkey has definitely come into the war on our side?"] Surely you are well aware of the distinction of breaking off relations with a power and declaring war. What another power might do I cannot pretend to say.
Hard to Outline Future World
At the present time no speech by a prominent politician in any of the various countries could be deemed complete without a full exposition of future organization of the world.
I was severely reproached last time for not having dealt methodically with this considerable topic. One of my difficulties is that it does not rest with me to lay down the law for all our Allies. If that were the general wish I would be ready to offer suggestions. But, odd as it may seem, countries like the United States and Soviet Russia might wish to have their say in that matter. And they may not look at it in exactly the same way or express it in the same terms as would gain the loudest applause in this House. I am sorry about this. Nothing would have given me greater pleasure than to give the House my personal ideas about the general layout.
But it would be very troublesome to all of us here if I made a pronouncement on the subject here and found myself contradicted by our most considerable Allies. From time to time a great many eloquent statements are made about the future organization of the world by the most eminent people. I personally would prefer to hear the opinions of other powerful nations before committing our country to too many details.
Cannot we be content with broad declarations upon which we are all agreed? That there is to be a World Council to preserve peace, which will in the first instance be formed and guided by the major powers who have gained the war and that thereafter other powers, and eventually all powers, will be offered their part in this world organization.
Cannot we be content with that and concentrate our efforts upon winning the victory and bearing ourselves so prominently in the conflict that our words will receive honored consideration when we come to the organization of peace?
Washington Parleys Are Near
In the meanwhile, the House will be aware that important discussion on an official level are shortly to begin in Washington. When these are completed we shall all of us have a very much better idea of where we stand.
As I have said, it is vain and idle for any one country to try to lay down a law on this subject or to try to trace frontiers or to describe instruments by which those frontiers will be maintained without further bloodshed. It is vain and it is even unwise. There was a man who sold a hyena skin while the beast still lived and who was killed in hunting it.
Not only are those once-proud German armies being beaten back on every front by every one of the many nations which are inviting contact with them but in their homeland, Germany, tremendous events have occurred which must shake to their foundations the confidence of the people and the loyalty of the troops.
The highest personalities in the German Reich are murdering one another or trying to while the avenging armies of the Allies close upon the doomed and ever narrowing circle of their power. We have never based ourselves upon the strength of the enemy but only on the righteousness of our cause. However potent may be these manifestations of internal disorder, decisive even as they may be one of these days, it is not in them we should put our trust but in our own strong arm and the justice of our cause.
Let us go on, then, to battle on every front; thrust forward, every man who can be found; arm and equip the forces in bountiful supply; listen to no parleys from the enemy, vie with our gallant allies to intensify the conflict and bear with unflinching fortitude whatever evils, whatever blows we may receive; drive on through the storm, now that it reaches its fury, with the same singleness of purpose and inflexibility of resolve as we showed to all the world when we were all alone.