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Editorial – The Naval Deal

7 September 1940

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 07 September 1940

The Naval Deal

The Naval deal with America is the first clear sign of the turn of the tide. The United States has at last made up its mind that Great Britain can safely be backed, now an all through.

It was no light thing for so timid a Power to part with fifty destroyers, however ” old,” at this , moment, with the Battle for, Britain still in the balance., and militancy and opportunism, ruling in Japan. Nevertheless, Mr. Roosevelt has done the safe and practical thing in, handing weapons to the only, Power at present capable of using them against Germany and Italy.

Fifty destroyers added to the Royal Navy at this moment are worth five hundred in peaceful American waters. They cannot perhaps be brought into instant use though they are already on their way here; but they constitute a substantial reserve and assured replacement for a branch of the Royal Navy which has suffered severely from the only forms of warfare open to the enemy mines, submarines, and aircraft. From our point of view the bargain is most useful, giving us reinforcements where we most needed them, and greatly increasing our convoying power.

The significance of this solid token of America’s faith in us, and adhesion to our cause, will not have been lost upon Russia, which is being helped for a third time to change its mind about the result of the war. Outspoken comment in Russia on the failure of the German air attacks on Britain is further evidence that the cool and crafty Kremlin is taking , accurate measure of the war situation for its own purposes, and is on its guard against a German incursion into the Balkans dictated by the necessity to break off the Battle for Britain. Russia desires to see Germany utterly committed to the war in the West, but Hitler is fully aware of the danger of flinging against Great Britain the margin of power with which it is vital that he should hold Russia in awe.

Mr. Churchill’s recent reference to Hitler’s pre-occupation with Russia’s air strength was a shrewd home’ thrust. Sooner or later the’ clash with Russia must come either from a victorious Germany or from a Germany, forced back on to the Continent and compelled to take up the work of her incompetents partner in the Mediterranean. For this reason the friendship of Turkey is essential to Russia. The present cordial relations between Russia ands Turkey must be confirmed and strengthened; each has a vital’ interest in this, and by implication, in co-operation with the British Empire to prevent Axis domination in the, Mediterranean. The time for this may not be yet; but the desperation of Germany and or the idiocy of Italy may precipitate Balkan moves which the cynical and impudent dismemberment of Rumania were intended to prevent.

The British Empire, however, gives itself little immediate concern with the, growing complications in the, rear of the enemy. At present, Britain is very conscious that she still fights alone, and alone gives and takes heavy blows. Germany is attacking ceaselessly by air—having no other field of offensive operations open to her—and is making no impression on our air defences. By now, if numbers and weight had had the value on which Germany relied, our air front, would have been broken in at many points and we should have been suffering aerial devastation comparable to the, Panzer break – through in France.

That was clearly, Germany’s aim, and it is already plain to neutral observers that this aim has failed. The truth cannot for long be kept from the German people; the mere passage of time must convince them that something has gone wrong, with Goering’s mighty Luftwaffe, as with his assurances to the population of Berlin that enemy planes would never penetrate to the German capital. The battle is still in progress, the enemy has great resources but a limited time within which to use them, effectively; he must break or cripple us within the next, month, and he can only do this, by invading us effectively — aerial bombardment alone will: not suffice. We must therefore expect an attempt, or else a lame and impotent confession of failure which would be the beginning of the end of Germany’s military prestige on which all Hitler’s success has so far been founded. If Hitler is forced into winter quarters it will be with the knowledge that the enemy which is unbeatable today may be irresistible tomorrow.

Our own strength grows, Willie the courage of our well-wishers. When at last the tide turns it will bring Willie far more than 50 destroyers.

The Germans and Italians sneer at this deal and represent it as a cute bargain for Uncle Sam, growing out of Britain’s extremity, but both in Berlin and in Rome it is realised that Britain, Canada, and the United States having effect form a triangular system of defence whose hold on civilisation cannot be broken.