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Главная » 2011 » Май » 8 » We must look to the Mediterranean for action
09:35
We must look to the Mediterranean for action
aircraft industry and the fighting strength of the R.A.F. had already beenWe must look to the Mediterranean for
action.
You were going to let me have your plan for exchanging
destroyers of more endurance with the Mediterranean flotilla.
Could I have this with dates?
To this Admiral Pound replied through the First Lord the same day:
We have now gained experience of the air conditions in the
Western Mediterranean and as soon as the present operation on
which the Eastern Fleet is employed is completed, we shall know
pretty well what we are faced with in the Eastern Mediterranean.
There is no doubt that both Force H and the Eastern
Mediterranean Fleet work under a grave disadvantage inasmuch
as it is not possible to give them fighter protection, as we do in
the North Sea when ships are in the bombing area.
At the moment we are faced with the immediate problem of
getting aircraft and A-A guns to Malta, and aircraft to Alexandria.
I am not at all certain that the risk of passing a ship with all these
available stores through the Mediterranean is not too great, and
that it might not be better to accept the delay of sending her
round the Cape.
There is also the question of Illustrious to be considered, but this
need not be settled immediately as she must first come home to
embark a full complement of Fulmar fighters.
Arrangements arc being made to replace some of the destroyers
433
at Gibraltar by others with longer endurance, but the date on
which they leave will probably be dependent on the escorting of
the ship I have referred to above to Gibraltar.
1. It is now three weeks since I vetoed the proposal to evacuate
the Eastern Mediterranean and bring Admiral Cunningham’s fleet
to Gibraltar. I hope there will be no return to that project. Anyone
can see the risk from air attack which we run in the Central
Mediterranean. From time to time and for sufficient objects this
risk will have to be faced. Warships are meant to go under fire.
Our position would be very different if I had been assisted in my
wish in October of last year to reconstruct the Royal Sovereign
class with heavy anti-aircraft armour on their decks at a cost to
their speed through increased bulging. The difficulties which were
presented at every stage were such as to destroy this proposal,
and we are no further on than we were a year ago. If we had the
Royal Sovereigns armoured, and their guns cocked up, or some
of them, we could aover at full speed. They must
be distributed in at least four fast ships. Could not some of them
come by passenger liner? Let me know what Admiralty can do.
Make sure there is no delay at Purco’s [Purchasing Commission
A.A. Defences of Scapa
Surely it would be better to have a conference as I suggested and talk
matters over round a table than that I should have to prepare a paper and
raise the matter as a Cabinet issue? The squandering of our strength
proceeds in every direction, everyone thinking he is serving the country by
playing for safety locally. Our Army is puny as far as the fighting front is
First Lord to First Sea Lord, Controller, D.C.N.S.,
Secretary and A.C.N.S.
12.I.40.
First Lord to Controller. 13.I.40.
First Lord to Naval Secretary. 14.I.40.
First Lord to First Sea Lord. 16.I.40.
570
concerned; our Air Force is hopelessly inferior to the Germans'; we are not
allowed to do anything to stop them receiving their vital supplies of ore; we
maintain an attitude of complete passivity, dispersing our forces ever more
widely; the Navy demands Scapa and Rosyth both to be kept at the highest
point. Do you realise that perhaps we are heading for defeat? I feel I must
do my duty, even in small things, in trying to secure effective concentration
upon the enemy, and in preventing needless dispersion.
Fleet Air Arm– Estimated Cost During the First Twelve Months of the Year
I have been increasingly disquieted about the demand which the Fleet Air
Arm involves upon British war -making resources. None the less this estimate
is a surprise to me, as I had not conceived how enormous was the charge
involved. I have always been a strong advocate of the Fleet Air Arm, in fact I
drafted for Sir Thomas Inskip the compromise decision to which he
eventually came in 1938. I feel all the more responsible for making sure that
the Fleet Air Arm makes a real contribution to the present war in killing and
defeating Germans.
2. When some years ago the Fleet Air Arm was being discussed, the speed
of carrier-borne and shore-based aircraft was not unequal; but since then
the shore-based development has been such as to make it impossible for
carrier-borne aircraft to compete with shore-based. This left the Fleet Air
Arm the most important duties of reconnaissance in the ocean spaces, of
spotting during an action with surface ships and launching torpedo seaplane
attacks upon them. However, there are very few surface ships of the enemy,
and one can only consider the possible break-out of a German raider or fast
battleship as potential targets. Provision must be made for this; but certainly
it does not justify anything like this immense expenditure.
3. On thsaid they picked up
no fewer than eighty German machines brought down over the
land alone. This gives us a very good line for our own purposes. I
must say I am a little impatient about the American scepticism.
The event is what will decide all.
* * * * *
On August 20 I could report to Parliament:
The enemy is of course far more numerous than we are. But our
new production already largely exceeds his, and the American
production is only just beginning to flow in. Our bomber and
fighter strengths now, after all this fighting, are larger than they
have ever been. We believe that we should be able to continue
the air struggle indefinitely and as long as the enemy pleases,
and the longer it continues, the more rapid will be our approach
first towards that parity, and then into that superiority, in the air,
Prime Minister to Secretary of State for Air. 21.VIII.40.
321
upon which in large measure the decision of the war depends.
Up till the end of August, Goering did not take an unfavourable view of the air
conflict. He and his circle believed that the English ground organisation and
aircraft industry and the fighting strength of the R.A.F. had already been
severely damaged. They estimated that since August 8 we had lost 1115
aircraft against the German losses of 467. But of course each side takes a
hopeful view, and it is in the interest of their leaders that they should. There
was a spell of fine weather in September, and the Luftwaffe hoped for
decisive louis vuitton leather results. Heavy attacks fell upon our aerodrome installations round
London, and on the night of the 6th, sixty-eight aircraft attacked London,
followed on the 7th by the first large-scale attack of about three hundred. On
this and succeeding days, during which our anti-aircraft guns were doubled in
numbers, very hard and continuous air fighting took place over the capital,
and the Luftwaffe were still confident through their overestimation of our
losses. But we now know that the German Naval Staff, in anxious regard for
their own interests and responsibilities, wrote in their diary on September 10:
There is no sign of the defeat of the enemy’s air force over
Southern England and in the Channel area, and this is vital to a
further judgment of the situation. The preliminary attacks by the
Luftwaffe have indeed achieved a noticeable weakening of the
enemy’s fighter defence, so that considerable German fighter
superiority can be assumed over the English area. However … we
have for the 17th and 18th,
and henceforward daily, from all Ministries, including the Service
Departments. These returns will be circulated to heads of all
Departments at the same time as they are sent to me. Thus it will
be possible to see who are doing best. If all returns are not
received on any day from some Departments, those that are
should nevertheless be circulated.
* * * * *
This put everybody on their mettle. Eight of these returns were actually
Prime Minister to Sir Edward Bridges and General Ismay. 17.IX.40.
Prime Minister to Sir Horace Wilson and Sir Edward Bridges 19.IX.40.
344
furnished. It was amusing to see that the fighting Departments were for some
time in the worst position. Offended and spurred by this implied reproach,
they very quickly took their proper place. The loss of hours in all Departments
was reduced to a fraction. Presently our fighters made daylight attack too
costly to the enemy, and this phase passed away. In spite of the almost
continuous alerts and alarms which were sounded, hardly a single
Government Department was hit during daylight when it was full of people,
nor any loss of life sustained. But how much time might have been wasted in
the functioning of the war machine if the civil and military staffs had shown
any weakness, or been guided up the wrong alley!
As early as September 1, before the heavy night attacks began, I had
addressed the Home Secretary and others.
Air -raid Warnings and Precautions
1. The present system of air-raid warnings was designed to cope
with occasional large mass raids on definite targets, not with
waves coming over several times a day, and still less with
sporadic bombers roaming about at nights. We cannot allow large
parts of the country to be immobilised for hours every day and to
be distracted every night. The enemy must not be permitted to
prejudice our war effort by stopping work in the factories which
he has been unable to destroy.
2. There should be instituted, therefore, a new system of
warnings:
The Alert
The Alarm
The All Clear
The Alert should not interrupt the normal life of the area. People
not engaged on national work could, if they desired, take refuge
or put their children in a place of safety. But in general they
should learn, and they do learn, to adapt themselves to their
dangers and take only such precautions as are compatible with
their duties and imposed by their temperament.
345
3. The air-raid services should be run on an inseem very insufficient. What is
going to be done to increase them?
2. In view of the torpedoing of the Glasgow by a seaplane while
at anchor, ought not ships at anchor to be protected by nets at
short range? I gather this was the Italian method at Taranto, but
at the moment of the attack they had taken them off. Pray let me
have a note on this.
ARMY ORGANISATION
Prime Minister to Minister of Aircraft Production.
3.XII.40.
Prime Minister to General Ismay.
4.XII.40.
714
I understand that you are asking for another big call-up shortly.
The papers talk about a million men. This forces me to examine
the distribution of the men you have. According to your paper,
twenty-seven British divisions are credited to Expeditionary Force
and Middle East. These divisions are accounted for at 35,000 men
each, to cover corps, army and line of communication troops,
etc., plus 70,000 security troops in M.E.
2. The approved establishment of a British division at the present
time is 15,500 men. It comprises only nine battalions with an
establishment of 850, i.e., about 7500. The establishment of all
battalions comprises a considerable proportion of servicing
elements, and I doubt whether the rifle and machine-gun
strength – i.e., fighting strength – amounts to more than 750.
Thus the total number of men who actually fight in the infantry of
a British division is 6750. This makes the fighting infantry of
twenty-seven divisions, in what used to be called bayonet or rifle
strength, 182,250. It used to be said that the infantry was “the
staple of the Army,” to which all other branches were ancillary.
This has certainly undergone some modification under new
conditions, but none the less it remains broadly true. The
structure of a division is built round its infantry of nine battalions,
with a battery to each battalion, the necessary proportion of
signallers and sappers, the battalion, brigade, and divisional
transport, and some additional elements, the whole being
constituted as an integral and self-contained unit of 15,500 men.
3. When we look at the division as a unit, we find that twentyseven
divisions at 15,500 official establishment require no less
than 1,015,000 men. This gives an actual burden of 35,000 men
for every divisional unit of 15,500 men, the units themselves
being already fully self-contained. Nearly 20,000 men have
therefore to be accounted for for each division of the E.F. or M.E.
over and above the full approved establis
had been fully recognised by England and France. I told him I should
support such an idea if it were agreeable. The British public would be willing
to try all roads to an honourable peace. I think there should be a meeting of
three. Any agreement they reached would of course be submitted to the
League of Nations. It seems to me the only chance of avoiding the
destruction of Italy as a powerful and friendly factor in Europe. Even if it
failed, no harm would have been done, and at present we are heading for
an absolute smash.
506
MY NOTE ON THE FLEET AIR ARM
WRITTEN FOR SIR THOMAS INSKIP, MINISTER knockoff gucci handbags FOR THE CO-ORDINATION
OF DEFENCE, IN 1936
1. It is impossible to resist an admiral's claim that he must have complete control of, and
confidence in, the aircraft of the battle fleet, whether used for reconnaissance, gun-fire or
air attack on a hostile fleet. These are his very eyes. Therefore the Admiralty view must
prevail in all that is required to secure this result.
2. The argument that similar conditions obtain in respect of Army co-operation aircraft
cannot be countenanced. In one case the aircraft take flight from aerodromes and operate
under precisely similar conditions to those of normal independent air force action. Flight
from warships and action in connection with naval operations is a totally different matter.
One is truly an affair of cooperation only; the other an integral part of modern naval
operations.
3. A division must therefore be made between the air force controlled by the Admiralty and
that controlled by the Air Ministry. This division does not depend upon the type of the
undercarriage of the aircraft, nor necessarily the base from which it is flown. It depends
upon the function. Is it predominantly a naval function or not?
4. Most of these defence functions can clearly be assigned. For instance, all functions which
require aircraft of any description (whether with wheels, floats, or boats; whether
reconnaissance, spotters or fighters, bombers or torpedo seaplanes) to be carried regularly
in warships or in aircraft carriers, naturally fall to the naval sphere.
5. The question thus reduces itself to the assignment of any type operating over the sea
from shore bases. This again can only be decided in relation to the functions and
responsibilities placed upon the Navy. Aircraft borne afloat could discharge a considerable
function of trade protection. This would be especially true in the broad waters, where a
had been working at full capacity as a result of the
orders given by the War Cabinet on October 13, 1939 – i.e.,
almost exactly a year -ago. What is the explanation of the neglect
to fulfil these orders, and who is responsible for it?
2. Secondly, it appears that practically no steps have been taken
to make projectiles or containers, either for air or artillery to
discharge these various forms of gas. The programme now set
out would clearly take many months before any results are
realised. Let me have an immediate report on this. The highest
priority must be given. I regard the danger as very great.
3. Thirdly, the possibility of our having to retaliate on the German
civil population must be studied, and on the largest scale
possible. We should never begin, but we must be able to reply.
Speed is vital here.
4. Fourthly, instant measures should be taken to raise Randle to
full production, and above all to disperse the existing stock.
5. What are the actual amounts in stock?
Prime Minister to Minister of Supply. 28.IX.40.
Prime Minister to General Ismay, for C.O.S. Committee. 28.IX.40.
686
These figures [about A.A. fire, first year of waraction in the Balkans was motivated
exclusively by the circumstances of our war against England. As
soon as England conceded her defeat and asked for peace,
German interests in the Balkans would be confined exclusively to
the economic field, and German troops would be withdrawn from
Rumania. Germany had, as the Fuehrer had repeatedly declared,
no territorial interests in the Balkans. He could only repeat again
and again that the decisive question was whether the Soviet
Union was prepared and in a position to co-operate with us in the
great liquidation of the British Empire. On all other questions we
would easily reach an understanding if we could succeed in
extending our relations and in defining the spheres of influence.
Where the spheres of influence lay had been stated repeatedly. It
was therefore – as the Fuehrer had so clearly put it – a matter of
the interests of the Soviet Union and Germany requiring that the
partners stand not breast to breast but back to back, in order to
support each other in the achievement of their aspirations.
In his reply Molotov stated that the Germans were assuming that
the war against England had already actually been won. If,
therefore, as had been said in another connection, Germany was
waging a life-and-death struggle against England, he could only
construe this as meaning that Germany was fighting “for life” and
England “for death.” As to the question of collaboration, he quite
approved of it, but he added that they had [toby the
First Sea Lord. Our Home Army is already at a strength when it
should be able to deal with such an invasion, and its strength is
rapidly increasing.
I should be very glad if our plans to meet invasion on shore could
be reviewed on this basis, so that the Cabinet may be informed of
any modifications. It should be borne in mind that although the
heaviest attack would seem likely to fall in the north, yet the
sovereign importance of London and the narrowness of the seas
in this quarter make the south the theatre where the greatest
precautions must be taken.
There was general acceptance of this basis, and for the next few weeks we
proceeded upon it. Upon the action to be taken by our main Fleet in the
narrow waters precise orders were issued with which I was in full agreement.
On July 20, after considerable discussion with Admiral Forbes, the
Commander-in-Chief, the following decisions were promulgated by the
Admiralty:
(1) Their Lordships do not expect our heavy ships to go south to
break up an expedition landing on our coast in the absence of
any reports indicating the presence of enemy heavy ships.
(2) If enemy heavy ships support an expedition, accepting the
risks involved in an approach to our coast in the southern part of
the North Sea, then it is essential that our heavy ships should
move south against them, also accepting risks.
In order to reach more definite conclusions about the varying probabilities and
scales of attack on our extended coastline, so as to avoid undue spreading of
our forces, I sent the Chiefs of the Staff a further Minute early in August.
290
DEFENCE AGAINST INVASION
MINUTE BY THE PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER OF DEFENCE
5.VIII.40.
Bearing in mind the immense cost in war energy and the
disadvantages of attempting to defend the whole coast of Great
Britain, and the dangers of being unduly committed to systems of
passive defence, I should be glad if the following notes could be
borne in mind:
1. Our first line of defence against invasion must be as ever discount tiffany jewelry the
enemy’s ports. Air reconnaissance, submarine watching, and
other means of obtaining information should be followed by
resolute attacks with all our forces available and suitable upon
any concentrations of enemy shipping.
2. Our second line of defence is the vigilant patrolling of the sea
to intercept any invading expedition, and to destroy it in transit.
3. Our third line is the counter-attack upon the enemy when he
makes any landfaThe one named Yang, are you going to marry my daughter?”
Yang Guo saw that she spoke madly and was impervious to reason; how could she force him to marry her daughter after just speaking a few words? But if he bluntly refuses, it would be extremely embarrassing for Lu E. There’s also the fact that this granny’s martial arts are extremely high and her character extremely weird; if he said any words that were just slightly displeasing, she would kill him immediately. He saw that the most important thing right now was for the three of them to get out of this place so he said, “Please relax Old Senior; Yang Guo is not a man without a conscience; I will never dare to forget the kindness that Lu E has shown me.” These words were extremely agreeable; though he didn’t agree to marry Lu E, the words pleased the ears of Qiu Qianchi; she nodded, “You’d better not.”
Gongsun Lu E of course knew what Yang Guo meant by this; as she looked at Yang Guo, there was a look of disappointment in her eyes and she lowered her head. A while passed before she said to Qiu Qianchi, “Mother, how did you get down here? Why did father say that you were dead and let me stay saddened for all these years? If I’d known you were here, I would have risked my life to come and find you.” She saw that her mother was unclothed; if she let her mother wear Yang Guo’s gown then she would be insufficiently dressed; so she tore the back and front of the gown and draped it over her mother’s shoulders.
Yang Guo was saddened when he saw what a state the gown that Xiao Longnu had made for him had fallen into; it stirred the Passion Flower’s poison and his body broke out with unbearable pain once again.
When Qiu Qianchi saw this, her face moved slightly and her right hand searched for something on her person; but after a thought, her hand came out empty handed.
From her mother’s expression and actions, Lu E had an inkling of her mother’s thoughts; she pleaded, “Mother, can you cure the Passion Flower’s poison that brother Yang has in him?”
Qiu Qianchi said in a subdued manner, “I have my own troubles being trapped down here; if others can’t save me, how can I save others?”
Lu E said anxiously, “Mother, if you save brother Yang, he will definitely help you. Even if you can’t save him, brother Yang will do all he can to help you. Isn’t that right brother Yang?”
Yang Guo did not have a good opinion of Qiu Qianchi but he should help her on behalf of Lu E; so he said, “Of course. Senior has been
Prime Minister to Admiral Keyes.
Impart following to your friend [the King of the Belgians In practice
much inconvenience would arise if this theoretical equality had many
First Lord to Secretary. 4.X.39.
First Lord to Second Sea Lord, Parliamentary
Secretary and Secretary.
7.X.39.
First Lord to Secretary. 7.X.39.
First Lord to Second Sea Lord and others concerned
and Secretary.
14.X.39.
584
examples. Each case must be judged on its merits, from the point of view of
smooth administration. I cannot see any objection to Indians serving on
H.M. ships where they are qualified and needed, or, if their virtues so
deserve, rising to be Admirals of the Fleet. But not too many of them,
please.
I see no reason to suspend these enlistments or bar the Navy door to the
Dominions in time of war. Most particularly am I concerned with
Newfoundland, about which I have given special directions. The
Newfoundlanders are certainly not to be “left to find their own way to this
country” from Newfoundland. Care and pains are to be taken to recruit, train
and convey to the United Kingdom as many as possible. I hope we shall get
one thousand. I understand this is in progress, and let me have a report
saying exactly what is being done in Newfoundland.
With regard to the other Dominions, suitable enlistments should be accepted
whether for hostilities only or for permanent service. These ratings can be
trained at the naval ports in the Dominions: at Sydney, at Halifax and
Esquimalt, and at Simonstown. Opportunity will then be given to transport
the men in batches to this country or draft them on to His Majesty's ships
visiting the Dominions.
Pray let a scheme on these lines be put forward with a view to surmounting
the difficulties.
“Salmon's” War Patrol Narrative
I am in entire accord with the Second Sea Lord's Minute of yesterday. I shall
be most willing to concur in the promotion and honours proposed, both to
the officers and to the men. I await the proposals of the Sea Lords in
respect of the promotion. Naval Secretary should prepare submissions for
the Honours to the King, and, if possible, these should be published, both as
to officers and men, before the Salmon sails again. Perhaps His Majesty
would like himself to see the officer (Lieutenant-Commander Bickford), and
conclude the audience by pinning on the D.S.O. Naval Secretary might find
out what they think about this at the Palace. It seems probable that similar,
though not necessarily the same, awards will be required in the case of the
Commander of the Ursula, and hgrievous aggravation [of
fitted for wire-cutting in its bow. By means of a drawbridge or
shelving bow [the tanksSt. Nazaire, who are
to be sent to their destination without any warship protection of
any kind. If it is held to be a feasible operation to move twelve
thousand men unescorted onto the Irish or British western coasts
in the face of the full British sea-power, can this be reconciled
with the standard of danger-values now adopted in the
Mediterranean?
4. No one can see where or when the main attack on Egypt will
develop. It seems, however, extremely likely that if the Germans
are frustrated in an invasion of Great Britain or do not choose to
attempt it, they will have great need to press and aid the Italians
to the attack of Egypt. The month of September must be
regarded as critical in the extreme.
5. In these circumstances it is very wrong that we should attempt
to send our armoured brigade round the Cape, thus making sure
that during September it can play no part either in the defence of
England or Egypt.
6. I request that the louis vuitton replica china operation of passing at least two M.T. ships
through with the Eastern reinforcements may be re-examined.
The personnel can be distributed in the warships, and it is a
lesser risk, from the point of view of the general war, to pass the
M.T. ships through the Mediterranean than to have the whole
armoured brigade certainly out of action going round the Cape.
So long as the personnel are properly distributed among the
warships, I am prepared to take the full responsibility for the
possible loss of the armoured vehicles.
439
I was not able to induce the Admiralty to send the armoured brigade, or at
least their vehicles, through the Mediterranean. I was both grieved and vexed
at this. Though my friendship for Admiral Pound and confidence in his
judgment were never affected, sharp argument was maintained. The
professional responsibility was his, and no naval officer with whom I ever
worked would run more risks than he. We had gone through a lot together. If
he would not do it, no one else would. If I could not make him, no one else
could. I knew the Admiralty too well to press them or my great friend and
comrade, Pound, or the First Lord, for whom I had high esteem, beyond a
certain point. My relations with the Admiralty were too good to be imperilled
by a formal appeal to the Cabinet against them.
When on August 15, I brought the question before the Cabinet finally I said
that I had hoped to persuade the Admiralty to fit the two armoured regiments
into “Operation Hats.” If the tank-units proceeded t
strength or determination to use that strength without scruple and without
mercy if he thinks he can do so without getting his blows returned with
interest. I grant that. But I say this too: the very completeness of his
preparations has left him very little margin of strength still to call upon.
This proved an ill-judged utterance. Its main assumption that we and the French were
relatively stronger than at the beginning of the war was not reasonable. As has been
previously explained, the Germans were now in the fourth year of vehement munition
manufacture, whereas we were at a much earlier stage, probably comparable in fruitfulness
to the second year. Moreover, with every month that had passed, the German Army, now
four years old, was becoming a mature and perfected weapon, and the former advantage
of the French Army in training and cohesion was steadily passing away. The Prime Minister
showed no premonition that we were on the eve of great events, whereas it seemed almost
certain to me that the land war was about to begin. Above all, the expression “Hitler
missed the bus” was unlucky.
All lay in suspense. The various minor expedients I had been able to suggest had gained
acceptance; but nothing of a major character had been done by either side. Our plans,
such as they were, rested upon enforcing the blockade by the mining of the Norwegian
corridor in the North, and by hampering German oil supplies from the Southeast. Complete
immobility and silence reigned behind the German Front. Suddenly, the passive or smallscale
policy of the Allies was swept away by a cataract of violent surprises. We were to
learn what total war means.
440
Lord Chatfield's Retirement – The Prime Minister Invites Me to Preside over the Military Coordination
Committee – An Awkward Arrangement – “Wilfred” – Oslo – The German
Seizure of Norway – Tragedy of Neutrality – All the Fleets at Sea – The “Glowworm” –
The “Renown” Engages the “Scharnhorst” and “Gneisenau” – The Home Fleet off Bergen
– Action by British Submarines – Warburton-Lee's Flotilla at Narvik – Supreme War
Council Meets in London, April 9 – Its Conclusions – My Minute to the First Sea Lord,
April 10 – Anger in England – Debate in Parliament, April 11 – The “Warspite” and Her
Flotilla Exterminate the German Destroyers at Narvik – Letter from the King.
B EFORE RESUMING THE NARRATIVE, I must explain the alterations in my position which
occurred during the month of April, 1940.
Lord Chatfielbases [in British
possessionswas violent and brave, the second son Cha He Tai [Chagatai
3. In the West it is important that the responsibility for the opening of
hostilities should rest unequivocally with England and France. At first purely
local action should be taken against insignificant frontier violations.14
* * * * *
On my return from the Rhine front, I passed some sunshine days at Madame Balsan's
place, with a pleasant but deeply anxious company, in the old chteau where King Henry
of Navarre had slept the night before the Battle of Ivry. Mrs. Euan Wallace and her sons
were with us. Her husband was a Cabinet Minister. She was expecting him to join her.
Presently he telegraphed he could not come, and would explain later why. Other signs of
danger drifted in upon us. One could feel the deep apprehension brooding over all, and
even the light of this lovely valley at the confluence of the Eure and the Vesgre seemed
robbed of its genial ray. I found painting hard work in this uncertainty. On August 26, I
decided to go home, where at least I could find out what was going on. I told my wife I
would send her word in good time. On my way through Paris I gave General Georges
luncheon. He produced all the figures of the French and German Armies, and classified the
divisions in quality. The result impressed me so much that for the first time I said: “But you
are the masters.” He replied: “The Germans have a very strong army, and we shall never
be allowed to strike first. If they attack, both our countries will rally to their duty.”
That night I slept at Chartwell, where I had asked General Ironside to stay with me next
day. He had just returned from Poland, and the reports he gave of the Polish Army were
most favourable. He had seen a divisional attack-exercise under a live barrage, not without
303
casualties. Polish morale was high. He stayed three days with me, and we tried hard to
measure the unknowable. Also at this time I completed bricklaying the kitchen of the
cottage which during the year past I had prepared for our family home in the years which
were to come. My wife, on my signal, came over via Dunkirk, on August 30.
* * * * *
There were known to be twenty thousand organised German Nazis in England at this time,
and it would only have been in accord with their procedure in other friendly countries that
the outbreak of war should be preceded by a sharp prelude of sabotage and murder. I had
at that time no official protection, and I did not wish to ask for any; but I thought myself
sufficiently prominent chanel bag black and white
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