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Editorial – Hard Punches

31 May 1941

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 31 May 1941

Hard Punches

The loss of H.M.S. Hood, blown up by a single shell with practically all hands, is the most terrific single blow we have suffered in this war. The effect of the sudden announcement last Saturday night was stupefying.

For the Germans it was a success as spectacular as the destruction of the Royal Oak and far more valuable. Nevertheless, their announcement of a truly remarkable feat was made with studied moderation and for an excellent reason the Bismarck, whose brilliant stroke had put the Hood under, was not out of the “wood.”

The Germans were well aware of the tremendous forces set in motion by the Admiralty and had no illusions as to the deadly danger in which the Bismarck’s exploit had placed her. In the result we had the satisfaction of tracking down and destroying the Bismarck and of avenging the Hood — small satisfaction if it meant no more than that, but it meant a great deal more.

The Germans lost on the exchange, for we could more easily afford the Hood than they the Bismarck. The settling of accounts came as a welcome and timely tonic to a nation reeling from an incredible stroke of ill-luck. As in Crete, so in the North Atlantic, the Germans are taking great risks and their boldness is also the measure of their desperation—for their whole strategical conduct of the war has been based on the employment of treachery and guile as a substitute for the frontal attacks which are so costly and dangerous.

As the war progresses the Germans are being forced to rely more and more upon courage and less and less upon craft and subtlety. To do them justice, they are as ready to do this as are the British, but in no spirit of “sportsmanship “—merely as a means to an end. Heroism and treachery are to the Germans methods to be employed according to circumstances, and it is the business of their strategists to arrange the circumstances so that the less expensive method is applicable. The German does not fight his way to an objective if he can lie or bluff or bully his way there; but the fighting spirit is available as a last resort.