Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 01 February 1941
The Battle Eve
Though wintry weather has slowed down hostilities in the West, disintegration of the Italian forces in Libya, Eritrea, Somaliland, and Abyssinia goes on. In all these theatres Mussolini’s cause is flagging, faltering, failing; Hitler’s utmost speed and energy will hardly avail to restore the position here.
The immense moral and strategic value of General Wavell’s westward sweep is daily more apparent; the political and military situation of Italy becomes daily more critical. Italy has become a troublesome liability, enforcing and extending the dispersion of the German armies at a moment when the concentration military might of Germany, with all the help that can be obtained from the other Axis Powers, is needed for a knock-out blow at Britain. So much has been achieved by socking the enemy.
We do not under-estimate the gravity of the menace which still threatens these islands, but it is clear that the tactical dispersal which Hitler sought to impose on us has now to be accepted by himself, for he cannot leave the Mediterranean situation where it is and must divert in that direction forces needed in the West. If he does not, he will lose Italy. Even if he writes off Italy as an effective striking force he must put the Italian people under protective arrest and that will require many divisions. If he seeks to extricate Italy from her Greek adventure he must light up the Balkans and incur a second front, the thing he most dreads.
Although on the face of it he is immensely stronger than he was a year ago, his armies are spread thinly over territory in which they are in constant danger from the hate and heat smouldering beneath them. Only the early defeat of Britain, that unconquerable bastion, will rescue him from a situation which otherwise will become untenable and intolerable. The decisive struggle must come soon and Hitler must presently put his fortune to the touch; to win or lose it all. He will fight at a great disadvantage, knowing that only swift and complete victory will save him from the ground-swell of a repulsed invasion.
Very soon, now, the world may be at the crisis of its fate.