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Editorial – Total Defence (audio)

20 July 1940

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 20 July 1940

Total Defence

In spite of the magnanimity of Mr. Churchill’s attitude to the traitors of Vichy, no one has yet ventured a more overwhelming rebuke of Petain and his defeatists, than was contained in the broadcast speech of our leonine leader last Sunday night.

Should the invader come to Britain there will be no placid lying down of the people, no submission before him as we have seen, alas, in other countries. We shall defend every village, every town, and every city. The vast mass of London itself, fought street by street, could easily devour an entire hostile army, and we would rather see London laid in ashes and ruins than that it should be tamely and abjectly enslaved.

Thus Mr. Churchill, with his corrosive sublimate, speaks his mind on the surrender of Paris, that terrible intimation of planned surrender. If Paris had been defended street by street, it would to-day be the grave of French and German armies, but France would be fighting and free. The refusal to use this enormous bastion in a last gallant attempt to anchor the wavering field armies was the first warning to her Ally that France meant to desert.

The fortress of Paris, whether stormed or invested would have cost Hitler dear and the resolute defence would have afforded France and her Ally precious breathing space. The gang of mean men who were in control of France’s destiny at that fateful hour had given up the cause long before Paris was uncovered, but only at that moment did their cowardice and treachery begin to appear.

As for us, rather than suffer the pollution of a German occupation of any part of our beautiful and beloved land, any town, village, hamlet or field of it, we will defend every inch, destroying the enemy with it. That snarling rat, Gayda, has eagerly seized on Mr. Churchill’s’ declared intention to defend London to suggest to Hitler (who certainly needs no prompter of wickedness) that this constitutes full leave to bombard London, which can no longer be considered an open town. The foul Italian journalist, the most evil and revolting of all the harpies that have gathered round Hitler’s cauldron, forgets two’ things —that nothing said or unsaid will prevent the bombardment of London when Hitler is able to undertake it; and that if London is bombed Berlin and Rome will instantly and inevitably smoke for it. Those are the safeguards of London and of all that still remains outside the power of the Hun and the Jackal —the strength and the resolution to defend and to retaliate. The Italians, with the horrible blood lust of a vicarious savagery far beyond their own power to achieve, look to the invasion of this country with hope and longing. It is with them an obsession and a dementia—they talk deliriously and prophesy wildly concerning it; they seek to terrify us with preposterous speculations as to the size and übiquity of the invading force.

Surely no invasion has ever been more widely and candidly advertised. That, taken by itself, would be proof presumptive that Germany had abandoned the great enterprise against this country, for it is not thus that Germany removes neighbour landmarks and steals other men’s vineyards. Hitler is unlikely to communicate his plans to Dago newspapers, much less to permit publl-1 cation of them. He has yet to find a way to strike England to the heart, and having found the way he still needs the means.

Our danger is real, and perhaps immediate, though our fierce offensive power, in the air combined with enormous strengthening of our fortress and garrison, has probably forced Hitler to re-cast earlier plans and timetables. Nevertheless something he must attempt against this country. It must be soon, it must be savage, and it must be sustained. On it he must employ the whole of his available air and sea force, with as much land strength as he can throw into this country. The alternative is ‘reliance on counter-blockade by sea and air, a long process against superior resources in which his own vital strength will be sapped. Even now, with all Continental Europe at his feet, this man is where he started—he must destroy British sea-power and the British Empire, or collapse under the very weight of his triumphs. The dread conflict is inescapable or he, and not we, would seek to avoid it.

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