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Editorial – A Third Front

14 November 1942

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 14 November 1942

A Third Front

The Battle of Egypt has indeed proved the prelude to more momentous developments. Its part in the pattern of the United Nations’ grand strategy becomes clearer, and if Mr. Churchill’s comment in Parliament is understood aright, before long should be still further elucidated.

The Americans, despite their Pacific preoccupations, have not been slow in making the great weight of their power felt in the Western theatre. They have struck with a vengeance and are proceeding to execute their designs with the method and rapidity which are their national attributes. The descent on French North Africa, rendered possible by the reliability and efficiency of that most tried and trusted weapon of war, the British Navy, was managed with the unerring action of precision machinery. The American faculty for working to schedule can be glimpsed here.

Now the Germans are trying to take a hand in the game, with the dispatch of troops and aircraft to Tunisia, we shall see just how difficult it is to interfere with this schedule. It may well be, however, that the Nazis will taste afresh some of the medicine which it has previously been their lot to administer.

Already the Prime Minister has dwelt with grim satisfaction on the scourging of Rommel’s routed army at the hands of the British, Imperial and American airmen, as it fled westward along the narrow North African coast road. The fresh German landings in North Africa recall our own intervention in Norway, except that we hope to throw them out even more disastrously than they ejected our forces of that gallant but inadequate Northern expedition.

In Libya the remnants of the smashed and disorganised German and Italian armies are between the iron jaws of a mighty vice. This must be relentlessly clamped tight, and the size and scope of the Allied plans suggests that it very soon will be.

Pronouncements by Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill will do much to clear the air of the Second Front clamour which threatened to become a mania in some quarters. The Allied leaders have vindicated their readiness a well as their willingness to take the offensive in good earnest, but at the same time they have shown themselves shrewd strategists, not to be stampeded into a premature welter of massed slaughter when their objective can be less expensively gained by more circuitous but none the less menacing means.

Long and trying months of waiting are now crowned by a great up-surge of strength, which threatens the Axis at the very moment when the Nazi and Fascist troops are reeling back in disorder on one battlefield, while on another, jaded and disillusioned, they fight an endless battle which inexorably saps their life blood.

With his habitual felicity of phrase the Premier summed up the situation in a few luminating words, when he said the latest operations had exposed the “under-belly” of the Axis. Hitler’s hasty southward move confirms Mr. Churchill’s assessment more eloquently than anything else can. Spreading themselves ever more thinly over the occupied territories which it now seems the Fuehrer’s chief objective to retain, the Nazis can hardly derive much comfort from the addition of a Southern Front to those on the East and on the West with which they are already anxiously pre-occupied.