Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 03 August 1940
Blitzkrieg or Attrition ?
“Behold,” says Hitler,” I show you a mystery. I shall destroy an Empire I never intended to destroy.”
Yet the days pass and the Empire lives, breathes, grows, and waxes in might. Hitler is faced with that last and fatal opponent against whom it is impossible to apply the familiar German strategy—careful preparation in the rear of the enemy followed by overwhelming frontal attack. Neither by sea nor land can Hitler bring to bear forces in the proportion which his outwardly ferocious but inwardly timorous spirit demands. He has not ventured anything against the weakest of his neighbours until assured of a ridiculous margin of safety.
What margin will he require to engage with an embattled fortress, garrisoned with millions of troops, resolute and for the most part experienced in, modern weapons and tactics, particularly the tactics of the Hun in the present campaign? His shock assault must come from the air, and we must assume that he is working up to his major effort with that arm. In spite of his reputed enormous numerical strength he has not apparently been able to deploy first-line aircraft and first-class airmen with anything like the concentration required even for local decisions.
We are now told that the Battle for Britain, which we have been hourly expecting since ‘the capitulation of France, has been in progress for five weeks and consists of no more than guerilla night bombing with occasional fierce daylight assaults on ports and shipping. Of these raids the most spectacular was the attack on the port of Dover with a hundred aircraft, seventeen of which were promptly shot down, and every bomb fell into the sea with not the slightest damage to ship or port.
Fantastic claims are being made by the Germans for their air attacks on our shipping, but the fact that they have found it necessary to multiply by six our actual losses since this phase of the war opened indicates either that they are wishfully and wilfully deceiving themselves and their people, or that their estimates arc no more accurate than their bombing.
German propaganda is lowering Its tone from Blitzkrieg to Attrition, and the German people are now being warned that the destruction of the British Empire, however certain and inevitable, is not nearly so simple an operation as was the defeat and conquest of France. Intelligent Germans, realising the’ British Empire’s immense margin of resource and stamina, must have noted this change of tone with a sinking heart.
Germany is in no ease to wage a war of attrition. She is at death grips with a naval power left intact and unaffected by the progress of the land war. It is true that the eruption of Germany over the Atlantic coast from Narvik, to the Biscay has greatly extended the Royal Navy’s “beat,” but it has greatly simplified the problem off the blockade. Germany has invaded, robbed, and ruined neutrals who might still to some extent have been feeding and supplying her. She, has also dragged Italy into the war and thereby stopped the chief leak in the blockade. His vile conquests have created mighty problems for Hitler. He may live for a time on the rifted cupboards of his neighbours, but after that—the judgment. His military triumphs have set him in the midst of many and great dangers. Everywhere his forces are’ surrounded by outraged peoples, writhing with disgust, detestation, and shame; burning for vengeance and thirsting for freedom. He cannot hold them down indefinitely; famine and chaos are already stalking in the train of his armies; the war with the fierce British islanders and their increasing hordes of bombers, incomparably more daring and efficient than his own, will sooner or later enter a decisive phase in which he will be thrown on the defensive, and the first motion for, a Hun retreat will be the signal for uprising everywhere against the barbarians. We have only to go on hitting harder and harder and faster and faster to remove first the threat to these islands and to regions of democracy still intact; and finally the abominable reign of, Nazi regime everywhere.
The difference between Blitzkrieg and Attrition is one of tempo—the result will be the same.