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Editorial – The Storm Bursts

18 May 1940

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 18 May 1940

The Storm Bursts

Calamity mounts as victims of Nazi aggression multiply. Holland is the latest and nearly the easiest. It has taken less than five days to flog the Dutch into submission. Their inundations were skirted, their main defences taken by surprise, treachery and infiltration, and they were paralysed in the rear by parachutists, quislings, and fifth-columnists. They were bombed’ back and edge, and a quarter of their antiquated force was wiped out.

They never had a real chance. Though amply forewarned they were not forearmed. Their policy of peace at any risk has utterly undone them. To-day they are wringing their hands and crying to high Heaven against the wrong wrought upon them. They have seen Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway and Finland all suffer in the same way.

They rejected with indignation the solemn warnings of Mr. Churchill. To Hitler’s cynical circular, “Do you feel yourselves threatened?” following President Roosevelt’s remonstrance — they returned an emphatic negative. To every anxious warning from the Allies they have replied by assuring us acidly that they were well able to take care of themselves. They did not take the elementary precaution of staff talks with Belgium for concerted and mutual defence. They drifted upon their fate. O! The pity of it ! How much of the awful ruin wrought by this Antichrist could have been saved if the neutrals had had the courage and foresight to unite!

The fate of Holland is one more lesson to the Balkan countries who also lie under the shadow of the Hun and his jackal. Let them at least assure themselves that there is no vile Nazi poison in their own blood. The Dutch began their purge too late. When the tempest broke over them the infested cities in the rear claimed as much attention as the embattled host in front. Of the five thousand spies, saboteurs and traitors who co-operated with parachutists to seize Rotterdam, the Dutch forces could arrest or destroy no more than seven hundred.

Of the gallantry of the Dutch soldier there can be no question. A hundred thousand of these peaceful, amiable fellows, never trained or armed for anything but police duty, laid down their lives while all around them their beautiful towns and cities were burning and helpless civilians were being barbarously bombed and murdered. Holland has been laid waste because the Dutch Army did its duty, however ineffectively because of its enormous inferiority. Its little air force fought to extermination; its naval force escaped and lives to fight another day. Holland might have tamely submitted as did Denmark and the greater part of Norway, patiently awaiting the day of deliverance or else gradually forgetting that they were ever free. All honour to the gallant little men who lie dead and for the most part unburied in the Netherlands, home and heart of pastoral peace.

For the Belgians the day of wrath has come once more, and again the survivors of the great trek of 1914 have dragged themselves wearily from their homes, pursued this time by blood-lusting airmen gleefully executing orders to ” harass ” refugees. Why? To what military purpose? What is Hitler’s quarrel with the peasants of Belgium, whose country renounced the alliance with France and refused the Maginot Line? The gunning of refugees is a very ecstasy of bestiality—delight in slaughter for its own sake. ” Kill! kill! kill!” is the hoarse berserk roar of the madman who is now reaching for the domination of the world.

Happily the Belgian defences and the Belgian troops are in better shape than the Dutch. After all, the last war had lessons for them and steeled and tempered them to the experience. They are sorely beset but they have held up the advance gallantly and given the Allies a far better chance to reach and hold the Boche betimes than was possible in the last great German thrust through Belgium, even though the Allies this time have to meet the grave disadvantage of a German conquest of Holland and the establishment of bases there for attack by air, land and sea against Great Britain, France and Belgium.

At any rate the battle is fairly joined. The period of stalemate is over. Hitler has taken the initiative and has advanced to the attack because he can wait no longer. He must win or lose the war in the next few weeks. He has staked everything on his power to do this. He is not deceived by cheap conquests. He knows that they will not endure unless the arch-enemy is destroyed. He himself must conquer or the. If his gamble fails, there will be no slow siege of Germany. His helots will rise and slay him to save themselves if perchance mercy may be found. All that belongs to the future. To-day and for many days to come the fate not only of France, Belgium and the British Empire, but of civilisation, is in the balance.

America “guardian of civilisation in the West, indomitable defender of its science, its culture, and its freedom” cowers behind the Allied line. If that line breaks the greatest neutral may present its throat as meekly as the smallest. We believe fervently, with all our soul, in the ultimate victory of the Allies because we are unable to imagine a world given over utterly to the triumph of evil.

Antichrist must not and cannot prevail. The task before us is stern and there are dark days ahead, but Europe lived through darker days when Napoleon, whose filthy and beastly reincarnation we are facing to-day, dominated Europe. He never broke the spirit and power of Great Britain, and on that rock this new troubler of the peace of the world will break.

Although at times during the present war the Allies have been taken by surprise, and have been handicapped by scruples, at least this stroke was foreseen. Their plans to meet it were ready and are even now being put into operation. They are called upon to meet great difficulties and dangers, but they have the spirit and the resources with which to hold and finally beat back the enemy. For the first time the spearhead of the great German military machine, its air force, Is being met and resisted on something like equal terms.

The Allied air force may be as yet numerically inferior, but the superior quality both of our men and our machines has done much already to cancel the margin. On the ground we are as highly mechanised as the Germans and when the counterstrokes come it will be seen on which side the balance of fighting spirit lies. We await and abide the isue with calmness and confidence. We pray that the struggle may not be too long and too difficult, but we shall endure to the end with unshakable firmness.

May God defend the right and at last vindicate, Himself to a tortured and bewildered humanity.