Critical Problems of Past, Present and Future
REVIEW OF MILITARY AND POLITICAL SITUATIONS
By WINSTON CHURCHILL, Prime Minister of Great Britain
Delivered in House of Commons, London, September 28, 1944
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 2-11.
A LITTLE more than seven weeks have passed since we rose for the summer recess, but this short period completely changed the face of the war in Europe. When we separated, the Anglo-American armies still were penned in a narrow bridgehead on a strip of coast from the base of the Cherbourg peninsula to the approaches to Caen, which they had wrested from the enemy several weeks before. The Brest peninsula was not taken. The German Army in the west still was hopeful of preventing us from breaking out into the fields of France. The Battle of Normandy, which had been raging bloodily from the day of landing, had not reached any decisive conclusion.
What a transformation now meets our eyes! Not only Paris but practically the whole of France has been liberated as if by enchantment. Belgium has been rescued. A part of Holland already is free.
The foul enemy, who for four years inflicted his cruelties and oppression upon those countries, fled, leaving perhaps 400,000 in killed and wounded and leaving in our hands nearly 500,000 prisoners. Besides these, there may well be 200,000 of them in coastal fortresses in Holland, whose destruction or capture may now be deemed highly probable. The Allied Armies have reached and in some places crossed the German frontiers and the Siegfried Line.
All Fruit of Normandy Battle
Conducted under the supreme command of General Eisenhower, all these operations have taken place and all are the fruit of the world-famous Battle of Normandy, the greatest and most decisive single battle of the entire war. Never has the exploitation of victory been carried to higher perfection. Chaos and destruction have been indescribable in narrative and a factor of the utmost potency in the actual struggle. It has far surpassed and reduces to petty dimensions all our own army had to suffer from the German air force in 1940.
Nevertheless, when we reflect upon the tremendous fire power of modern weapons and the opportunities which they give for defensive and delaying action, we must feel astounded at the extraordinary speed with which the Allied armies advanced.
The vast and brilliant encircling movement of the American armies will ever be a model of military art and an example of the propriety of running risks not only in fighting, because most of the armies are ready to do that, but even more on the "que side," or, as the Americans put it, on the logistic side. It was with great pleasure that we all saw the British and Canadian armies, who so long fought against heavy resistance by the enemy along the hinge of Allied movements, show themselves also capable of lightning advances, which certainly have not been surpassed anywhere.
Airborne Division's Heroism
Finally, by the largest airborne operation ever yet conceived or executed, a further all-important forward bound in the north has been achieved. Here I must pay tribute to the superb feats of arms performed by our First Airborne Division.
Full and deeply moving accounts already have been given in this country and the world of this glorious and fruitful operation, which will have a lasting place in our military annals and will, in succeeding generations, inspire our youth with the highest ideals of duty and of daring.
The cost has been heavy. Casualties in a single division have been grievous. But for those who mourn, there is at least the consolation that the sacrifice was not needlessly demanded nor was it given without result.
The delay caused to the enemy's advance upon Nijmegen enabled the British and their American comrades in two other airborne divisions—enabled the British Second Army— to secure intact vitally important bridges and to form a strong bridgehead over the main stream of the Rhine at Nijmegen. "Not in vain" may be the pride of those who survived and the epitaph of those who fell.
To return to the main theme, Brest, Le Havre, Dieppe, Boulogne and Antwerp are already in our hands. All theAtlantic and Channel ports from the Spanish frontier to the Hook of Holland will presently be in our possession, yielding fine harbors and substantial masses of prisoners of war.
Stresses Unity of Action
All this has been accomplished by the joint exertions of the British and American Armies assisted by the vehement and widespread uprising and fighting efforts of the French Maquis.
While this great operation has been taking its course, American and French landings on the Riviera coast, actively assisted by the British airborne troops, the British Air Force and the Royal Navy, led with inconceivable rapidity to the capture of Toulon and Marseille, freeing a great strip of the Riviera coast, and to a successful advance of General Patch's army up the Rhone Valley. This army, after taking 80,000 prisoners, joined hands with General Eisenhower and has passed under his command.
When I had the opportunity on Aug. 15 of watching— alas! from very far—the landing at Saint-Tropez, it would have seemed audacious to have hoped for such swift, important results. We have, under the spell of victories in the north, gained a superabundance in allies within half the time prescribed and expected in the plans which were made beforehand.
Simultaneously, very hard and successful fighting on a major scale also was proceeding in the Italian front. General Alexander, who commands the armies in Italy with complete operational discretion, has under him the Fifth and Eighth Armies. The Fifth Army—half American and half British, with whom are serving a fine Brazilian division, some of whose troops I had the opportunity of seeing, a magnificent band of men—is commanded by General Clark, an officer of highest quality and bearing a proud record of achievement behind him and behind his troops.
Eighth Army's Make-Up
The Eighth Army under Gen. Oliver Leese comprises the Polish Corps who fought so gallantly under General Anders and a Greek brigade which in happier surroundings already has distinguished itself in the forefront of battle. There is also fighting on this front a strong force of Italians who are ardent to free their country from the German grip and taint. This force will very soon be more than doubled in strength. A lieutenant of the realm is often with these troops.
The largest mass of all troops on the Italian front comes from the United Kingdom. That is not far short of half the divisions from this island. Joined with them are New Zealand, Canadian, South African and Indian divisions.
The British Army in Italy includes also Palestine units. Here I would mention the announcement that the Government have decided to accede to the request of the Jewish agency for Palestine that the Jewish brigade group should be formed to take part in the active operations.
I know there is a vast number of Jews serving with our forces and the American forces throughout all the armies, but it seems to me indeed appropriate that a special Jewish unit of that race which has suffered indescribable torment from the Nazis should be represented as a distinct formation among the forces gathered for their final overthrow. I have no doubt that they will not only take part in the struggle but also in the occupation which will follow.
Task in Italy Hard
A very hard task lies before the army in Italy. It already has pierced at several points the strong Gothic Line by which Kesselring has sought to defend the passage of the Apennines.
I had the opportunity of watching and following the advance of the Eighth Army across the notorious Metauraus River, which began on Aug. 26. The extraordinary defensive strength of the ground held by the enemy was obvious. Mountain ranges rise one behind another in seemingly endless succession like waves of the sea, and each had to be conquered or turned by superior forces and superior weapons.
The process is bound to be lengthy and costly. It is being completed and, in fact, has been practically completed. At the same time General Clark's Fifth Army, advancing from the Florence area, pierced deep into the mountain ranges, and having broken the enemy's center, now stands on the northern slopes of the Apennines at no great distance from Boulogne, a place of definite strategic importance.
Thus General Alexander has now definitely broken into the basin of the Po. But here—there is always something— we exchange the barriers of mountain ridges for perpetual interruption of the ground by streams and canals. Nevertheless, conditions henceforth will be more favorable for the destruction or rout of Kesselring's army and that is the objective to which all British and Allied forces must be unceasingly bent. Further than that it is not desirable to peer at the present moment.
Facts About Front in Europe
I am now going to give a few facts and figures about the operations in Europe. These have been very carefully chosen to give as much information as possible to the House and to the public while not telling the enemy anything he does not already know, or only telling him too late for it to be of any service to him.
The speed with which the mighty British and American armies in France were built up is almost incredible. In the first twenty-four hours a quarter of a million men were landed in the teeth of fortified and violent opposition. By the twentieth day a million men were ashore. There are now between two and three million men in France. Progress in the power of moving troops and landing troops has vastly increased since the early days, when we had to plunge into war with no previous experience. But the actual number of soldiers was only part of the problem of transportation.
These armies are equipped with the most perfect modern weapons and every imaginable contrivance of modern war. Immense artillery supported all their operations and enormous masses of armor of the highest quality and character gave them extraordinary offensive power and mobility. Many hundreds of thousands of vehicles sustained their movement. Many millions of tons of stores already had been landed and the great bulk of everything over the open beaches or through synthetic harbors, which I described when last I spoke to the House.
All this constitutes a feat of organization and efficiency which should excite the wonder and deserves the admiration of all military students as well as the applause of the British and American nations and their allies.
Tribute to U. S. Armies
I must pay my tribute to the United States Armies not only in their valiant, ruthless, battle-worthy qualities but also in the skill of their commanders and excellent supply arrangements. When one remembers that the United States four or five years ago was a peace-loving power without any great body of troops or munitions maintained and with only a very small regular army to draw commanders from, the American achievement is truly amazing.
After the intense training they received for nearly three years, or more than three years in some cases, their divisions now are composed of regular professional soldiers whose mili-
tary quality is out of all comparison to the hurriedly raised wartime levies. These soldiers, like our own from Great Britain—who have been longer under arms—are capable of being placed immediately on landing in the battle line and they proved themselves more than a match for the so-called veteran troops of Germany, who though fighting desperately are showing themselves decidedly the worse for wear.
When I think of the measureless output of ships and munitions and supplies of all kinds with which the United States equipped herself and sustained all the fighting allies in generous measure and of the mighty war she is conducting with the troops of our Australian and New Zealand Dominions over the spaces of the Pacific Ocean, this House may indeed salute our sister nation as being at the highest pinnacle of power and fame.
Britain's Own Contribution
I am very glad to say that we also have been able to make a worthy contribution. Some time ago a statement was made by a Senator to the effect that the American public would be shocked to learn they would have to provide 80 per cent of the forces to invade the Continent. I then said that at the outset of the invasion of France, British and American forces would be practically equal but thereafter the American build-up would give them steadily the lead. I am glad to say that after 120 days of fighting we still bear in cross-Channel troops the proportion of two to three in personnel and four to five-and-a-half in fighting divisions in France.
Casualties followed very closely the proportion of numbers. In fact, these troops fight so that the level of casualties almost exactly follows the numbers engaged. We have, I regret to say, lost 90,000 men killed, wounded and missing, and the United States, including General Patch's army, over 145,000. Such is the price paid in blood by the English-speaking democracies for the actual liberation of the soil of France.
When this view is extended to cover the entire European scene and the campaigns in both France and Italy it will be a source of satisfaction to the House to know that after more than five years of war we still maintain almost exactly the same numbers of divisions—taking both theatres together— in the field of action against the enemy as the United States, by all shipping resources which can be employed, has yet been able to send to Europe.
Considering the population of the British race, only 70,000,000—and we have sustained many losses in the early years of the war—it is certainly a remarkable effort and one most fully and cordially recognized by our American colleagues, chiefs of staff and others at the recent conference in Quebec.
Achievements of Russia
In thus trying to do justice to British and American achievements, we must never forget the measureless service which Russia has rendered the common cause through long years of measureless suffering, by tearing out the life of the German military monster. The terms in which Marshal Stalin recently in conversation has referred to our campaigns in the West have been in such generous and admiring character that I feel in my turn bound to point to Russia holding and beating far larger hostile forces than those which face the Allies in the West, and has through long years at enormous losses borne the brunt of the struggle on land.
It is a matter for rejoicing that we in our turn struck resounding blows, and it is right that they should be recorded among other feats of arms so loyally performed throughout their grand alliance.
I must again refer to the subject of the campaign in Burma, on which I touched in my last statement to the House. I was somewhat concerned to observe from my reading the American press, in which I indulged during my stay on the other side, that widespread misconceptions exist in the public mind, so far as reflected by the newspapers to date, of Admiral Mountbatten's campaign.
Some very important organs of United States opinion seem to give the impression that the British campaign in Burma in 1944 has been a failure, or at least a stalemate, and that nothing has been done and that the campaign was redeemed by the brilliant capture of Myitkyina by General Stilwell at the head of an American regiment of very high-class commando troops with the assistance of the Chinese. That is the picture. I must therefore set matters In their true light.
U. S. Transport Feat
It is well known that the United States has been increasingly establishing air routes in China capable of carrying immense supplies, and by astounding efforts and at vast cost they are now sending over the terrible Himalayas, or The Hump, as it is called in the armies, I will not say how many times as much as the Burma Road ever carried in its palmiest days or will ever carry in years to come.
This incredible feat of transport at 20,000 or 22,000 feet high in the air, over ground when engine failure means death to the pilot, has been performed by a grand effort which the United States made in their passionate desire to aid the resistance of China. Certainly no more prodigious example of strength, science and organization in this class of work has ever been seen or dreamed of.
Along the eastern frontiers of India stands the Fourteenth British Imperial Army, comprising the main war effort of India—including some most famous Indian divisions from the Middle East and a substantial proportion of the United Kingdom troops and divisions, together with some excellent native divisions from Africa, and West Africa principally.
This army under Mountbatten, amounting to between 250,000 and 300,000 men, apart from rearward operations, which in that theatre of extraordinary and physically precarious communications are very great, this army has by aggressive operations guarded the base of the American air line to China and protected India against the horrors of a Japanese invasion.
India's Population Secure
Once again India and her vast population is reposed serenely among the tumults and hurricanes of the world behind the imperial shield. The fact should sometimes be noted that under British rule in the last eighty years incomparably fewer people have perished by steel or firearms in India than in any similar area or community throughout the globe. Well, the population increased by 60,000,000 in the last ten years.
It is evident that the famine, which was caused by military conditions affecting transport, is by no means representative of the administration under which the broad peninsula and triangle of India met an increase of population exceeding in speed that of any increase throughout the whole world. I think it is a very remarkable fact that India has received this shelter and has been this vast harbor of peace protected by armies under the authority of Great Britain—protected also by the care and attention of this House—in which the brave fighting races of India have at all times borne a most honorable and memorable part.
I regret to say that fighting on the Burma front throughout the year has been most severe and continuous and there were times when the issue in particular localities appeared in doubt. However, ten Japanese divisions, which were launched against us with the object of invading India and cutting the airline, have been repulsed and largely scattered as the result of a bloody, costly campaign which still is being continued despite the monsoon season.
Cost of Burma Campaign
How costly this campaign has been in disease may be judged from the fact that in the first six months only of this year the Fourteenth British Imperial Army sustained no fewer than 237,000 cases of sickness, which had to be evacuated to the rear over long and difficult communications and tended in a hospital.
More than 90 per cent of these cases returned within six months, but there has been a ceaseless drain upon the Army, and much larger numbers have been required to maintain it, in spite of this drain, at fighting strength—in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million.
It may well be imagined that when you have a loss and drain like that going on, much larger numbers are required to maintain fighting strength. In addition to this, we suffered over 40,000 battle casualties in the first six months, that is to say, to the end of June, and the number certainly has increased by now.
I think these facts ought to be known and given wide publicity because the campaign of Mountbatten on the Burma frontier constitutes—and this is a startling fact— the largest and most important ground fighting which has yet taken place against the armies of Japan and, far from being insignificant or a disappointing stalemate, constitutes the greatest collision which has yet taken place on land with Japan and has resulted in the slaughter of between 50,000 and 60,000 Japanese, and the capture of several hundred prisoners.
The Japanese Army has recoiled before our troops in deep depression and heavily mauled. We often found circles of their corpses in the jungle, where each one committed suicide in succession, the officer who supervised the proceedings blowing out his own brains the last of all. We didn't ask them to come there and it was entirely by their own choice that they found themselves in this difficult position.
Renewal of Fighting Expected
We must, however, expect a renewal of the Japanese fighting after the monsoon is over and every preparation is being made to meet it with the utmost vigor. The engagement of the Japanese on the largest possible scale certainly is a part of the essential wearing-down process which marks the present phase of the war against Japan. And in this fighting the Fourteenth Army certainly discharged itself with the greatest fidelity and success, despite the heavy toll of disease.
I trust this toll will be markedly reduced in future operations. We have discovered many preventives of tropical diseases and against the onslaught of insects of all kinds, from mosquitoes and back again.
The excellent DDT powder, which has been fully experimented with and has been found to yield astonishing results, will henceforth be used on a great scale by the British forces in Burma and by the American and Australian forces, in India and in all theatres, together with other remedies constantly improving, and these will make their effect continuously manifest. The Japanese also suffer jungle diseases and malaria, which is an offset against the very heavy losses entailed upon our Indian, white and African troops.
These remedies will be a help to all the Allies, indeed have been a help. The eradication of lice by strict hygienic measures, which were taken in Naples, may be said to have avoided an outbreak of an epidemic in that city shortly after we occupied it. I can assure the House that the war against the Japanese—and other diseases of the jungle—will be pressed forward with the utmost energy.
China's Reverses Severe
I must note with keen regret, in spite of the lavish American help afforded China, that that great country has suffered severe military reverses, including the loss of valuable air fields upon which the American air force under Chennault had been counting. It is one of the most disappointing vexations.
When we survey the present state of the European and Asiatic wars the House will whole-heartedly acclaim the skill and enterprise of the generals and the fighting quality and courage of the troops, and may even feel disposed to view with special marks of approbation the management, combination and design revealed on the part of the Allied staff and even on the part played by the Government.
But we must not forget that we owe a great debt to blunders—extraordinary blunders—of the Germans. I have always hated comparing Napoleon with Hitler, as it seems an insult to the great Emperor and warrior to connect him in any way with the squalid caucus boss and butcher, but there is one respect in which I must draw a parallel. Both of these men were temperamentally unable to give up the tiniest scrap of any territory to which the high-water mark of their hectic fortunes carried them.
Thus, after Leipzig in 1813, Napoleon left all his garrisons on the Rhine and 40,000 men in Hamburg. He refused to withdraw many other vitally important elements of his armies and had to begin his 1814 campaign with raw levies and a few seasoned troops brought in a hurry from Spain. Similarly Hitler had successfully scattered German armies all over Europe and by obstinating at every point from Stalingrad to Tunis down to the present moment has stripped himself of the power to concentrate his main strength for the final struggle.
He has lost, or will lose, when the tally is complete, more than a million men in France and the Low Countries. Other large armies may well be cut off in the Baltic states, in Finland and in Norway. It was less than a year ago, when the relative weakness of Germany already was becoming apparent, that he was ordering further aggressive actions in the Aegean and the occupation of islands which the Italians surrendered or wished to surrender.
He has squandered and scattered a very large army in the Balkan Peninsula, whose escape will be very difficult. Twenty-seven divisions, many of them battered, are fighting General Alexander in northern Italy. Many of these will not be able to recross the Alps to defend the Fatherland. Such a vast frittering away and dispersal of forces never has been seen and is a prime cause of the impending ruin of Germany.
When I hear that after Hitler escaped his bomb on July 20, he described his survival as providential, I think from a purely military point of view we can agree with him; but certainly it would be most unfortunate if the Allies were to be deprived in the closing phases of the struggle of that form of warlike genius by which Corporal Shickelgruber has so notably contributed to our victory.
There is a great deal of mopping up to do in the Low Countries, and some French Atlantic ports and harbors have to be cleared and developed on the greatest scale possible before the winter gales. Problems of supply have to be resolved on the morrow of prodigious American and British advances.
Doubts War Will End Soon
I deprecate very much people being carried away into premature expectations of immediate cessation of fighting. It is very hard not to be when each day the papers are rightly filled with news of captures of important places and the advance of the army. But there is still a great deal to do in a military sense.
Hitherto, during four critical months in Europe, we managed to be an equal, or almost equal, partner with the United States, but not, of course, in the great flow of their well-trained divisions from across the Atlantic, which will, 6tep by step, carry them decisively into a leading position, and unless organized German resistance collapses in the near future, enormous additional United States forces will be brought to bear in the final struggle. I shall certainly not hazard a guess—it could be no more than a guess—as to when the end will come.
Many persons of the highest technical attainments, knowledge and responsibility have good hopes that it will all be over by the end of 1944. On the other hand, no one—certainly not I—can guarantee that several months of 1945 may not be required. There is also the possibility that after organized resistance, with the German State and Army completely broken, fierce warfare may be maintained in the forests and mountains of Germany by numbers of desperate men conscious of their own guilt and impending doom.
May Have to Hunt Bandits
These, of course, would at a certain stage deserve the treatment which the Germans so ruthlessly meted out to the guerrilla movement in other countries. It may be necessary for the Allies to declare at a certain date that the actual war against the German State has come to an end and that the period of mopping up of bandits and war criminals has begun.
No one can foresee what form exactly the death agony of Nazidom will take. For us the important decision will be to choose the moment when substantial forces can be withdrawn from Europe to intensify the war against Japan. We do not certainly consider that the declared date of the ending of the war against Germany must necessarily be postponed until the last desperado has been tracked down to his last lair.
There is no doubt that surpassing victories gained in common make a very agreeable foundation for inter-Allied conferences like that which was just finished. It is very much more pleasing to share the victories than share the disasters, and we have shared them both.
I can tell you that the former is in every way the more exhilarating process. I took the occasion to associate Canadian, Australian and New Zealand representatives with our work. I have also, with the Chiefs of Staff, attended a meeting of the Dominion of Canada Cabinet and received from Mackenzie King and Curtin the most cordial expressions of satisfaction at the manner in which our affairs are conducted and of agreement in the decisions taken.
I have also been in very full correspondence, I often am, with Field Marshal Smuts and also with Fraser of New Zealand. Certainly when the President and I with our respective staffs met at Quebec, we had behind us a record of a successful war which justifies a feeling of solemn satisfaction and a warm glow of our brotherhood in arms.
No Reverses to Regret
It is two years almost to the day since Rommel's final advance against Cairo was repulsed by Alexander and Montgomery a month before the decisive victory at Alamein. Since that time our affairs and the affairs of our mighty ally, Russia, have proceeded without a single reverse excepting the loss of Leros and Cos in the Aegean, and even this may turn out to be a loss to Hitler rather than ourselves. Such a long mounting tide of victory is not exampled in history.
The principal Governments of the Allies have every right to claim confidence in the United Nations in a new effort that will be required from all of us and in further designs which have been conceived and will be unfolded in action. Complete agreement on every point was reached at Quebec by the combined Chiefs of Staff.
The President and I both have pursued the policy of making no changes other than those forced by death, as in the lamented loss of Admiral Pound, in the Chiefs of Staff charged with the conduct of the war. In this war there has been none of those differences between professional political elements as were such a large feature of the last war. We have worked together in perfect harmony. Our confidence in the Chiefs of Staff, British confidence and confidence of the War Cabinet, has steadily grown.
Perfect Harmony at Quebec
In consequence that there have been no changes, the men who met at Quebec knew each other well, and they were united in the bonds of comprehension and friendship and had the whole picture and sequence of the war ingrained in their minds, in their very beings; for when you have lived through these things you do not have to turn up musty files to see what happened on particular occasions.
Men's minds are shaped from day to day by all they have gone through and discussions on that level between these high officers were very, very swift and smooth. Obviously, our discussions were concerned with the successful winding up of the war in Europe by bringing about the unconditional surrender of Germany at the earliest moment and also with a new phase of the war against Japan, which will dominate all minds and command all resources from the moment the German war has ended.
On behalf of the British Government nearly two years ago, I assured the President that Britain would pursue the war against Japan with all her strength and resources to the end. And I explained to Congress that we have losses to repair and injuries to repay on the Japanese account at least equal to if not greater than those suffered by the United States.
We owe also to Australia and New Zealand to help them remove forever the Japanese menace to their homelands and as they have helped us on every front in the fight against the Germans, we certainly will not be behindhand in giving them effective aid. Our perseverance in this quarrel is not to be doubted.
Roosevelt Wanted No Treaty
I offered some time ago to embody this undertaking in a definite treaty, but President Roosevelt made the courteous reply that the British word was enough. That word we shall certainly make good. Accordingly, we offered the United States the fine, modern British Fleet and asked that it be employed in major operations against Japan. This offer was at once cordially accepted. A large portion of this fleet already is gathered in the Indian Ocean.
For the year past, our modern battleships have been undergoing a further measure of modernization and tropicalization to meet the rapid wartime changes in technical apparatus. We already nine months ago had begun the creation of an immense fleet train, comprising many vessels, large and medium, specially fitted as repair ships, recreational ships forpersonnel, munition and provision ships and many modern variants in order that our fleet may have a degree of mobility which for several months together will make it largely independent of main shore bases.
A substantial portion of these vessels which we shall use for this purpose we have been building in Canada, for it has been found better and more economical to adapt new merchant ships still in building to the exact purpose which they will have to fulfill, than to convert existing vessels, although that process already has been carried very far.
Joint Naval Forces Huge
Thus we hope to place in the Pacific a fleet capable in itself of fighting a general action with the Japanese Navy and which, added to the far greater United States naval power, should give a naval command in all these vast ocean spaces and seas of a most complete and decisive character.
One must also certainly contemplate that that phase in the war against Japan will be severe, intense, prolonged, with ever-increasing air bombardment to which Japanese mainland installations and munitions centers will be subjected. In this we shall bear our part to the utmost limit of what our bases will allow.
As for land or amphibious operations which the British Empire will conduct, these must rightly be veiled in mystery. Suffice it to say that the scale of our effort will be limited only by available shipping. In this, however, we may presently receive a magnificent addition. The end of the U-boat war, when it comes, will allow us to go out of convoy in the Western Hemisphere and thus at a bound add perhaps at least 25 per cent carrying capacity of our mercantile marine, and more in the case of tankers.
I must, however, add a word of caution against taking too optimistic a view of the speed at which these great transferences of forces can be made from one side of the world to the other. Not only will Allied shipping, vast though it is and far greater than at the beginning of the war—not only will it be a limiting factor but the development of bases, accumulations of stores of supplies and construction and projection of airfields, all impose restraints upon those vivid imaginative strategists who carry fleets and armies across the globe as easily as they would help themselves to a plate of soup.
Enterprise of First Magnitude
The huge distances, tropical conditions and other physical facts, added to the desperate resistance of the enemy, make the war against Japan an enterprise of the first magnitude and it will be necessary to use to the full the resources, machinery and science to enable our armies to do their work under the most favorable conditions and with the least sacrifice to Allied life.
When all these aspects are considered, the House may rest assured that the entire brain and technical power of Britain and the United States will be ceaselessly employed. And having regard to the results which have been already obtained in so many directions, one may feel in good confidence that they will not be employed in vain.
I have now reached the close of military aspects of what I have to say. Although it was by no means complete or exhaustive, I trust I gave a general outline of our position at the present time and from the point of view of one who had special opportunities of seeing things in their broad proportions.
The foreign situation has responded to military events. Never was the alliance against Germany of the three Great Powers been more close or more effective. Divergences of views and interests there must necessarily be, but at no time have these been allowed to affect in any way the majestic march of events in accordance with the agreements and decisions at Teheran.
One by one, in rapid succession the satellite states have writhed or torn themselves free from Nazi tyranny and, as usual in such cases it has not been won from Germany to neutrality, but from alliance with Germany to war. This has taken place in Rumania and Bulgaria. Already there is fighting between Finland and Germany. The Germans, in accordance with their practice and character, are leaving a trail of burned, blackened villages behind them in the land of the unhappy Finnish dupes.
Hungary still is in the Nazi grip, but when, as it will happen, that grip is broken by the steel hammer blows of war, or it relaxes as a result of internal lesions or weakness of the tyrant, the Hungarian people will turn their weapons with all their strength against all those who have led them through so much suffering to their present ruin and defeat.
Armistice terms agreed upon with Finland and Rumania bear naturally the impress of Soviet will and here I must draw attention to the restraint which characterized the Soviet terms to these two countries.
Both marched blindly behind Hitler in an attempt at the destruction of Russia, and both added their injuries to the immense volume suffered which the Russian people have endured, have survived and have triumphantly surmounted. Bulgarian armistice terms have not yet been signed. Soviet intervention in this theatre was at once startling and effective. The sudden declaration of war by Russia was sufficient to induce Bulgaria to turn her caitiff arms against the German intruders.
Great Britain and the United States long have been at war with Bulgaria and they have now joined with the Soviets in framing suitable armistice conditions. The Bulgarian people have been plagued by leaders in the past thirty-five years into three wrongful, forlorn and disastrous wars and in this present war we cannot forget many acts of cruelty and wickedness for which they have been responsible, both to Greece and Yugoslavia. They have suffered nothing themselves in this war. No foot has been set on their soil, and apart from some bombardments they suffered nothing.
Bulgaria Must Pay the Price
Some of the worst war criminals are Bulgarians. The conduct of their troops in harrying and trying to hold down at Hitler's orders their two sorely oppressed neighbors is a shameful page for which full atonement must be exacted.
They want to be treated as a co-belligerent, but so far as Great Britain is concerned they must work their passage for a long time and in no uncertain fashion before we can accord them a special status, in view of the injuries our allies in Greece and Yugoslavia sustained at their hands. Meanwhile, let them march and destroy all the Germans they can find in enemy lands. We do not want them in the lands of the Allies.
This is the only part that will serve them and their interests and the more vigor with which they fall upon the Germans the more they will be likely to draw the attention of the victorious nations from their previous misdeeds.
It would be an affectation to pretend that the attitude of the British Government, and I believe of the United States Government, toward Poland is identical with that of the Soviet Union. Every allowance must be made for different conditions of history and of geography which govern the relationship of the Western democracies on the one hand and of the Soviet Government on. the other, with the Polish nation.
Poland's Independence Pledged
Marshall Stalin has repeatedly declared himself in favor of a strong and friendly Poland, sovereign and independent, and in this our great Eastern ally is in the fullest accord with His Majesty's Government and also, judging from public statements, with that of the United States.
We in this island, and through us the Empire, who drew the sword against mighty Germany, we who are the only great unconquered nation which declared war on Germany on account of her aggression against Poland, have sentiments and duties toward Poland which deeply stir the British race. Everything in our power has been and will be done to achieve both in letter and spirit the declared purposes toward Poland of the three great Allies.
Territorial changes in the frontiers of Poland there will have to be. Russia has the right to our support in this matter, because it is the Russian Armies that can alone deliver Poland from the German talons and because, as I said before, after all the Russian people have suffered at the hands of Germany, they are entitled to safe frontiers and to have friendly neighbors on their western flank.
All the more do I trust that the Soviet Government will make it possible for us to act unitedly with them in this solution of the Polish problem and that we shall not witness the unhappy spectacle of rival governments in Poland, one recognized by the Soviet Union and the other firmly adhered to by the Western powers.
Places Hope in Premier
I have good hope of Mr. Mikolajczyk, a worthy successor of General Sikorski and a man of real desire for friendly understanding with Russia and settlement with Russia. I hope that he and his colleagues may shortly resume those important conversations at Moscow which were interrupted some months ago.
It is my duty to impress upon the House the embarrassment to our affairs and possible injury to Polish fortunes which might be caused by intemperate language about Polish and Russian relations in the course of this debate. It is my firm hope and also my belief that a good arrangement can be achieved, and that a united Polish Government may be brought into being which will command the confidence of the three great powers concerned and Will assure for Poland those conditions of strength, sovereignty and independence which we have all three proclaimed as our aim and resolve.
Nothing is easier than to create by violent words a prospect far less hopeful than that which now opens before us. The honorable members will take upon themselves a very grave responsibility if they embroil themselves precipitately in these controversies and thus mar the hopes we cherish of an honorable and satisfactory solution and settlement.
We recognize our special responsibility toward Poland, and I am confident that I can trust the House not to encourage any language which would make our task harder. We must never lose sight of our prime and overwhelming duty, namely, to bring about the speediest possible destruction of Nazi power. We owe that to the soldiers who are fighting and shedding their blood, giving their lives to the cause at this moment.
War's End Paramount Task
They are giving their lives in an effort to bring this fearful struggle in Europe to a close, and that must be our paramount task and every problem—and there are many, they are legion, they crop up against us in fierce array—that now faces the nations of the world will present itself in far easier and more adaptable form once the cannons cease to thunder in Europe and once the victorious Allies gather around the table of armistice or peace.
I have every hope that a wise and harmonious settlement will be made in confidence and amity between the great powers, and thus afford foundations on which to rest a lasting structure of European and world peace.
I say these words on the Polish situation, and I am sure that our friends on both sides will realize how long and anxious has been the study which the Cabinet has given to this matter and how constantly we have seen the representatives of the Poles, how frequent and intimate our correspondence is with Russia on this subject.
I cannot conceive it not possible to make a good solution whereby Russia gets the security which she is entitled to have and which I have resolved we shall do our utmost to secure, for her on her western frontier, and at the same time the Polish nation have restored to them national sovereignty and independence for which, through centuries of oppression and struggle, they have never ceased to strive.
Relations With Italy
Turning to another different angle, the House will already have read the joint statement by the President and myself, which we drafted together, embodying very definite and distinct improvement and mitigation in our relations with the Italian Government.
During my visit to Italy I had the opportunity of seeing the leaders of all the parties, from the extreme right to the extreme Communist. All six parties registered in the Italian Government came into the British Embassy and I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of all these different minorities who are working together as well as they can under conditions necessarily difficult.
I had conversations with Prime Minister Signor Bonomi, and also talked with him and Marshal Badoglio together—they are friends. The Marshal faithfully observed the conditions imposed at the armistice a year ago. He has done his best to send all possible Italian forces, particularly naval forces, into the struggle with Germany and he has worked steadily for improving relations between Italy and Britain and between Italy and the Allies. His behavior on leaving office and in giving cordial support to his successors is most creditable. Finally, I had an interview with the Lieutenant of the Realm, whose sincerity and ardor in the Allied cause and whose growing stature in Italian eyes are equally apparent.
What impressed me most in my journeys in Italy was the extraordinary good-will to British and American troops everywhere displayed by the Italian people.
As I passed through small towns and villages behind the line day after day friendliness and even enthusiasm of the peasant and workman, shopkeeper and all classes was spontaneous and convincing. I confess that I cannot feel any sentiment of hostility toward the masses of the misled or coerced Italian people. Obviously, no final settlement can be made with them until the north of Italy has been liberated and the basis on which the present Government stands has been broadened and stengthened.
Unity of Nation Urged
There are good hopes that this will be achieved—I might say soon, but it is safer to say in due course. It would be a miserable disaster if the Italian people, after all their maltreatment by their former allies and the Fascist elements around Mussolini, were to emerge from the European struggle only to fall into savage and violent internal feuds. It is for that reason that on leaving Rome I tried to set before the Italian nation some of the broad safeguards which arethe breath of our nostrils in this country, of that which sustains our lives—freedom of the individual against all forms of tyranny, no matter what liveries they wear or slogans they mouth.
We were all shocked by the horrible lynching outrage in the streets of Rome a week or so ago. Every measure of precaution and authority will be taken to prevent outbreaks of mob vengeance, however great the provocation may be, and this responsibility rests not only with the Italian Government but ultimately with the Allied Military Power.
Punishment for criminals who have committed most cruel and barbarous acts under orders of Germans, punishment of men who have made themselves agents of betrayal of 300 or 400 hostages who were shot en masse in the catacombs of Rome—punishment for that there certainly must be; but it must be punishment of courts of justice and in strictest adherence to the forms and principles of justice.
This shameful incident was a baffling factor in the Italian scene. Nevertheless, it has not deterred us from issuing the joint statement to which I have already referred and which so far as Great Britain was concerned was of course approved by the War Cabinet before I gave my agreement to it.
Rescue of France
I turn from the Italian scene. Nothing has given the British nation and the King's dominions all over the world more true joy than the wonderful spectacle of the rescue of France by British and American arms—than the rescue of France from the horrible oppression of the Huns, under which she writhed or languished four hideous years.
It now is nearly forty years since I first became convinced that the fortunes of Great Britain and France are interwoven and their military forces must be combined in the most effective manner by alliance and agreement and plans.
I think I can claim to have pursued this object through all the changing scenes we have witnessed, not only before and during the last war but in the uneasy interval between the two wars, and not only in the years of success but during the periods of blackest disaster and also through periods when there was friction of other kinds between the two countries.
Bearing in mind some mistakes in our own policy between the wars, bearing in mind also the failure of the League of Nations, in consequence largely because of the falling out of America, and other weaknesses for which other powers are responsible in the failure to give general security to the world; bearing in mind the withdrawal of the United States from the Anglo-American guarantee against German aggression promised by President Wilson, on the strength of which France relinquished her claim to the Rhine frontiers; bearing in mind above everything else the loss of nearly 2,000,000 men which France with her small and declining population sustained in bearing the brunt, as she bore it in the last war, and the terrible effects of this unexampled blood-letting upon the whole life of France— remembering all this and much else, I have always felt the liveliest sympathy for the French in the years when we watched supinely the dreadful and awe-inspiring growth of German power.
Former Cooperation Efforts
It will be remembered that we told the French Government that we would not reproach them for making a separate peace in the fearful circumstances of June, 1940, provided they sent their fleet out of the reach and power of the Germans. The terms of the Cabinet offer to France in this tragical hour is also on record.
I have therefore never felt anything but compassion for the French people as a whole who found themselves deprived of their power of resistance and could not share the good fortune of those who from our shores and in the French Empire had the honor and opportunity of continuing the armed struggle.
What can a humble, ordinary man do? He may be on the watch for an opportunity, but he may be rendered almost powerless. The Maquis have shown one way in which, at the end and after much suffering and after overcoming all difficulties in getting weapons, free men may strike a blow for the honor and life of their country.
But that is given to few—to the young and active and to those who can obtain weapons. For my part, I have always felt in my heart that the French nation was sound and true, and that they would rise again in their greatness and power, and we should be very proud to have taken a part in aiding them to recover their place in the van of the nations and at the summit of the cultural life of the world.
Long have we looked forward to the day when British and American troops would enter again the fields of France and regardless of the loss and sacrifice drive the foe before them from the towns and cities famous in history and often sacred to us for their memories of the last war and of the dear ones whose memories abide with us who rest in French soil.
Often have we longed to receive and dreamed of receiving the gratitude and blessings of the French people as our delivering armies advance. This has been given us in unstinting measure. It has indeed been a glorious experience to witness, and a glorious experience for the Army to enjoy, this marvelous transformation of scene and for us to feel that we have acted up to our duty as a faithful ally to the utmost limit of our strength.
Aim of British Policy
I have repeatedly stated that this is the aim, policy and interest of the British Government and this country, Great Britain, to see erected once more, and of the whole Commonwealth and Empire to see erected once more at the earliest moment, a strong, independent and friendly France.
I have every hope that this will soon be achieved. The French people, working together, as they must do for their lives and future, and in unity of purpose and with sincerity and courage, have a great chance of building a new and undivided France which will take her rightful place among the leading nations of the world.
In my last statement to the House, I spoke of the importance of including representatives of France in all discussions affecting the Rhine frontiers and the general settlement of Germany.
Hitherto, by force of circumstances, the French Algiers Committee could not be a body representative of France as a whole. Now, however, progress has been made to enlarge that body with new elements, especially among those who form the Maquis and Resistance movement and among those who raised the glorious revolt in Paris which reminded us of the famous days of the revolution, when France and Paris struck blows to open the path broadly for all the nations of the world.
Naturally, we, and I believe, the United States and Soviet Union, are most anxious to see emerge an entity which can truly be said to speak in the name of the people of France, the whole people of France.
It would now seem possible to put into force the decree of the Algiers Committee whereby at the interim stage the Legislative Assembly would be transformed into an elected body reinforced by the addition of new elements drawn from inside France.
Says People Would Approve
To this body, the French Committee of National Liberation would be responsible. Such a step, once taken, would be seen to have the approval of the French people, would greatly strengthen the position of France in the circle of the principal Allies.
It would render possible that recognition of the Provisional Government of France and the consequences thereof which we all desire to bring about at the earliest moment. I close no doors upon the situation, which is in constant flux and development. The matter is urgent, however, for those, of whom I am one, who desire to see France take her place at the earliest moment in the high circles of the Allies.
We are now engaged in discussing these matters, both with the French and with other Allied Governments, and I am hopeful that in the near future a happy settlement will be reached to the satisfaction of all concerned.
Belgium and Holland
I should like to take this opportunity to express our gratification and pride at the part played by the British troops in the liberation of Belgium. The House will have read of the tumultuous welcome with which our troops were everywhere greeted by the Belgian people. I regard this as a happy augury for the maintenance and strengthening of the ties of friendship between our two countries.
Many hundreds of thousands of our dead sleep on Belgian soil, and the independence of that country always has been a matter sacred to us as well as enjoyed by our policies. I would like to acknowledge in this House the many agreeable things which were said about this country in the Belgian Parliament when it reassembled last week.
I trust the day is not far distant when our forces will also have completed this task of liberating the territory of our stanch and sorely-tried ally, Holland—old allies of the Protestant Succession, allies of the war of the Spanish Succession and in all the struggles for the establishment of the freedom of Europe.
They also are very near to us in thought and sympathy, and their interests at home and also abroad command British support and are largely interwoven with our own fortunes. Since Aug. 21, I have had to deal with these countries one by one. I now have come to a broader aspect, as far as I can touch upon it today, which can only be in a very tentative and partial manner.
Dumbarton Oaks Conference
Since Aug. 21, conversations between representatives of this country, the United States and the Soviet Union have been taking place at Dumbarton Oaks in the United States on the future organization of the world for preventing war. It is expected that similar conversations will follow between the United Kingdom and the American delegations with representatives of China.
These conversations have been upon an unofficial level only and do not in any way bind the Governments represented. There, however, have been assembled a body of principles and an outline of the kind of structure which in one form or another it is the prime purpose of the Allies to erect after the unconditional surrender and total disarmament of Germany has been accomplished. His Majesty's Government could have had no more able official representative than Sir Alexander Cadogan, and there is no doubt that the most valuable task has been discharged.
The whole scene has been explored, and many difficulties have been not merely discovered but adjusted. There are, however, still some important outstanding questions, and we ought not to be hurried into decisions upon which united opinion by the various Governments responsible is not at present ripe. It would not be prudent to press in a hurry for momentous decisions governing the whole future of the world.
I can see by the whole attitude of the House today that it fully realized that it is one thing for us here to form and express our own opinion on these matters and another to have them accepted by other powers as great or greater than we are.
Warns of American Reports
There is another warning I would venture to give to the House and that is not to be startled or carried away by sensational reports and stories which emanate from the other side of the Atlantic. There is an election on and very vivid accounts of all kinds of matters are given by people who cannot possibly have any knowledge of what has taken place at secret conferences. The United States is a land of free speech.
Nowhere is speech freer—not even here where we sedulously cultivate it even in its most repulsive form. But when I see some accounts given of conversations I am supposed to have had with the President of the United States, I can only recall the Balfourian phrase of many years ago when he said that accounts which were given bore no more relation to the actual facts than the wildest tales of the Arabian Nights to ordinary incidents of domestic life in the East.
I may say at once, however, that it will not, in my opinion, be possible for these Great Powers to do more in the first instance than to act as trustees for other States, great or small, during the period of transition. Whatever may be settled in the near future must be regarded as only preliminary to the actual establishment in its final form of a future world organization.
Those in any country who try to force the pace unduly will run the risk of overlooking many aspects of the highest importance, and also by imprudence, can bring about a serious deadlock.
Some Problems Must Wait
I have never been one of those who believe all problems of the immediate future can be solved while we are actually engaged in a life-and-death struggle with the German Nazi power and when the course of military operations and development of the war against Japan must increasingly claim first place in the minds of those in Britain and the United States upon whom the chief responsibility rests.
To shorten the war by a year, if that can be done, would in itself be a boon greater than many important acts of legislation. To shorten this war, to bring it to an end, to bring soldiers home, to get roofs over their heads, to get things back to the free life of our country, reestablishing and enabling the wheels of commerce to revolve, to get nations out of their terrible frenzy of hate, to build up something like a human and humane world—it is that which makes it so indispensable for us to shorten, be it only by a day, the course of this terrible war.
Everything depends upon that agreement of the three European Powers and World Powers. I do not think a satisfactory agreement will be reached—unless there is agreement, nothing can be satisfactory—until there has been a further meeting of the three heads of the Governments, assisted as may be necessary by their foreign secretaries.
I must say I think it well to suspend judgment and not try to form or express opinions on what can only be partialand incomplete accounts. I earnestly hope it may be possible to bring about such a meeting before the end of the year.
Tripartite Conference Desired
There are great difficulties, but I earnestly hope they may be overcome. The fact that the President and I have been so closely brought together at the Quebec Conference and have been able to discuss so many matters bearing upon the course of the war and of measures to be taken after the German surrender and also for the broad future, that fact makes it all the more necessary that our third partner, Marshal Stalin, who has, of course, been kept informed, should join with us in a tripartite conference, as soon as the military situation renders this possible.
The future of the whole world and the general future of Europe, perhaps for several generations, depends upon the cordial, trustful and comprehending associations of the British Empire, the United States and Soviet Russia, and no pains must be spared and no patience grudged which is necessary to bring this supreme hope to fruition.
It is right to make surveys and preparations beforehand, and many have been made and are being made, but great decisions cannot be taken, even for the transition period, without far closer, calmer and most searching discussions than can be held amid the clash of arms. Moreover, we cannot be blind to the fact that there are many factors at present unknown which will make themselves manifest on the morrow of the destruction of the Nazi regime.
Perils of Hasty Decisions
I am sure this is no time for making a hard and fast and momentous decision on incomplete data and at breakneck speed. Hasty work and premature decisions may lead to penalties out of all proportion to the issues immediately involved.
That is my counsel to the House, and I hope they will consider it. I hope the House will notice that in making my statement today, I have spoken with exceptional caution upon foreign affairs, and I hope without undue regard to popular applause.
I have sedulously avoided the appearance of any one country trying to lay down the law to its powerful allies or any of the other states involved. I hope, however, that I have given the House some impression of the heavy and critical work that is going forward and will lie before us even after the downfall of our principal enemy has been effected.
I trust that what I said will be weighed with care and good-will, not only in the House and in this country, but also in far wider circles.