Mexborough and Swinton Times June 1, 1940
So far the war has brought little but shocks and surprises. The latest and greatest is the treacherous defection of ex-King Leopold, who has sold the pass to Dunkirk, dishonoured his army and nation, and betrayed the allies, who at his request placed themselves in the perilous position in which he has basely deserted them. American journalists appeal to us to suspend judgment. America, so far as we are aware, has not an expeditionary force in France or Flanders to be ruined or betrayed. America, therefore, is in an excellent position to suspend judgment; indeed is in no position to pronounce judgment. Great Britain and France must be excused if they take a little unkindly this stab in the side delivered by the king of a realm they were desperately defending.
Without the desertion of the Belgians the military situation of the Allies in Flanders and Artois was desperate enough. Mr. Churchill has prepared us for “hard and heavy tidings.” At best we must look for a successful evacuation and at worst for detailed destruction of a glorious army.
The British and French are concentrating their whole available resources on the extrication of this gallant force, and by one means or another this must be accomplished. Every effort must be made and every risk taken to ensure the safety of the gallant and glorious force now compromised and imperilled. But in the happiest event we may expect “hard and heavy tidings ” to which, after all, we are becoming accustomed. Danger and disaster have at last aroused us to a full sense of self-reliance.
History has come full circle, as is the habit of history. Hitler has taken the road of Napoleon and the same destiny awaits him. For we shall fight on and on and on until, under Providence, the tide turns against this monstrous evil and democracy recovers its manhood and civilisation its freedom.
The disastrous turn of events in France has sharpened the problem of home defence and the appointment of General Ironside as Commander-in- Chief of the Home Forces is presumably a sign that the military defence of these islands is on a new basis, and that the home front is to be as solidly organised as the main line of battle. We may be sure that German plans for the invasion of this country have been rapidly but methodically adjusted and intensified as a result of their thrust to the coast, and that their air power will be used to its utmost to force access by sea and land.
We have absolute confidence that all necessary dispositions have been made to meet this menace, and that the hasty mobilisation of the Local Defence Volunteers is not our sole or main answer, useful and helpful as such a Force must be. Effective if belated action has been taken to secure the country against treachery, and this diminishes the danger from parachutists and air-borne raiders. The technique employed so successfully in Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France has lost the advantage of surprise, and has special difficulties when applied to this country. Nevertheless, it will be attempted, probably as determinedly from the west as from the south and east, and there is not a moment to be lost in perfecting a complete system of observation and communication on which can be based swift detection and destruction of invaders in every guise.
For this purpose the Local Defence Volunteers may well be of vital service, and they cannot be too quickly trained, organised and equipped. If the present situation could have been foreseen — and it should certainly not have been excluded from possibility—we should by now have had a very formidable home guard. However, it is our way to meet trouble as it comes, and that, of course, gives us a great deal of practice in meeting trouble. The immense response to the appeal for volunteers for home defence is one of many symptoms that the nation is at last thoroughly aroused and alert, and longs only for leadership.