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Editorial – A Race With Time

18 July 1942

South Yorkshire Times – Saturday 18 July 1942

A Race With Time

As the false dawn of optimism recedes still further before the war’s present stern realities the tremendous task of the United Nations is revealed in truer perspective. Now we are face to face with issues not a whit less grave than they were two years ago.

After Russia’s winter resurgence if we perceived the looming prospects of the later year at all we did so as through a glass darkly. Germany, fortified and fed by the nations she has over-run, retains satanic strength and energy and nerves herself afresh with the hope that each new surge of slaughter and destruction will be the last. The iron heel of the Nazis is on the neck of the nation, and go forward it must to victory or damnation. Clawing their way across the Don, neglectful of fearful losses, the Nazi soldiery are as men who run a race with the rising tide. Their lives and hopes depend on a speedy decision. Supplies and man-power cannot be indefinitely squandered on the plains of Russia. The essential task which Hitler has set for his armies this summer is the destruction of Russian military power, or its disablement to such an extent that no further threat from the East can arise.

After absorbing terrific punishment such as no other nation could have withstood, Russia keeps the ring gamely and with indomitable tenacity hangs on while awaiting the inevitable diversion in the West. Far off, watching with anxious eyes, Britain and America fill these days with straining preparation. Their aim is to match the material aid which has been poured into Russia with decisive intervention of British and American arms.

When the Second Front is opened it will carry with it the best hopes of the Allied cause.

It is an enterprise which must not fail. Therefore it is supremely important that the blow should be judged to a hairsbreadth. No popular clamour by the ill-informed must be allowed for an instant to cloud or influence the minds of those upon whom rests the responsibility for this great decision. There are, however, certain considerations which obviously must be borne in mind.

In Egypt Rommel must be kept from the Nile and the back door to Russia which lies beyond it. As yet he has displayed no sign of yielding, except in the most limited degree, any of the territory he has over-run.

General Auchinleck must have at least sufficient support to render Egypt safe again, and that reinforcement must largely come from these islands. Nor is the question of supply the only Second Front problem which Britain and America must solve. It will not be sufficient to depend on a local preponderance of men and tanks on a continental battlefield. The tank is not quite the potent weapon it was when the Panzer columns raced through Northern France in 1940. The dive bomber’s hey-day is past. In assailing the German army the vanguard of the counter invasion will not be matching their strength with an inadequately equipped force such as the Nazis swept aside when they introduced the blitzkreig into Western Europe.

Our men must have the finest weapons that scientific ingenuity and technical and industrial efficiency can provide; their tactics must be new and decisive; their leaders ruthless and resourceful; and they must be backed on the home front by a crescendo of effort in production and supply such as the world has never known. That effort should have begun now.

Hard as the coming days may be they are by no means devoid of hope for the United Nations. The legacy of unpreparedness is steadily being shaken off and with all the advantages they have enjoyed the Totalitarian states still find victory is elusive. The Nazi hare has not yet out-distanced the democratic tortoise.