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Editorial – The Fog of War

16 September 1939

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 16 September 1939

The Fog of War

The fog of war has descended and mighty operations by land, sea, and air are “wrapt in mystery.” Although a British Expeditionary Force has landed in France and is now helping the French to test the Siegfried Line, Poland is still the vital field. Here our gallant allies are struggling alone against overwhelming forces, highly mechanised, ruthlessly and efficiently directed, and supremely advantaged in the air. It would not have been surprising if early reports from Germany of the capture of the Polish capital had proved true. Happily the immediate threat to Warsaw from the north and west has been checked and the German advance stemmed. The Polish forces, backed by the Polish nation, are showing magnificent steadiness and discipline in an hour of grievous trial, and their staunchness is of immense value to the Allied cause. The loss of Warsaw would not be the end of Poland, nor would the temporary loss of Poland be the end of the Allied cause, any more than was the loss of Belgium, Northern France, Serbia, Rumania, and the Ukraine in the last war. If, however, Poland can stand up for a few weeks against the hammer blows of the Germans, while winter and the Allies can come effectively to her aid, it may well be that the war will reach its turning point sooner than we expected.

Hitler’s enraged cancellation of his promise not to make war on women and children is the first and clearest evidence that the German campaign in Poland is not going according to plan. His justification is that the Polish people have risen in defence of their native land, which constitutes every Polish baby a dangerous enemy. The spirit of a proud and brave people, backed by skill and coolness, are being matched against German might, and though the issue is still in doubt, every day that passes is a day gained for the defence. Already in one vital theatre the south-east, there are ominous German references to “unfavourable weather conditions.” Marshal Winter is on the way with reinforcements. The Germans are doomed ultimately, but if they fail to keep tryst with their time-table in Poland they are lost now.

Meanwhile the Allies, operating craftily, coolly, calmly, and carefully, are applying a pressure which must in the end be decisive. By land, air, and sea the Germans are being relentlessly gripped. Immense as is their present power it is near the maximum. The far superior forces they have arrayed against them are only just beginning to gather to the battle. Sooner or later the spirit of the German people must be broken unless (God grant it!) the spell of Hitlerism is broken first. We are solemnly resolved, and have reiterated the vow, not to lay down our arms until the world, including Germany itself, has been rid of this Nazi lunacy. It is for Germany to choose whether she will cast off this madness and destroy the authors of it, or consent to be led to utter perdition.

To this end we pledge all that we have and are, and we are resolved to endure whatever suffering and sacrifice may be demanded by the imperative necessity to root Hitlerism out of the earth. We are not deceived by the present mildness of the German forces toward the West. They must be brought to bay and to battle there, with grievous carnage, alas. With infinite reluctance we have taken up the sword, and it will not be sheathed, whatever the cost, until this abominable tyranny has been overthrown, and the German people, with whom we have no  other quarrel, delivered from the criminal madness which possesses and debases them.