I/510 .t n -
BRITISH INFORMATION SERVICES
AN AGENCY OF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT
OF THE DAY
WINSTON CHURCHILL, Prime MinisterSept1embK 2t, p 43.
The Surrender of Italy.
ANTHONY EDEN, Foreign Secretary, Septembe2. 2 194^. .
The Work of A.M.G. in Sicily: Collaboration with' ~iia.
ERNEST BEVIN, Minister of Labour, .September 2,4 94.;
Mobilizing to the Limits of the Population .,
OLIVER LYTTELTON, Minister of Production, August 30, 1943.
War Production Plans and Progress.
VISCOUNT WAVELL, Viceroy-designate of India, September 16, 1943.
The Task in India.
OLIVER LYTTELTON, Minister of Production, August 18, 1943.
Industry and Credits After the War.
C. R. ATTLEE, Deputy Prime Minister, September 3, 1943.
The Unity of the Commonwealth.
A. V. ALEXANDER, First Lord of the Admiralty, September 16, 1943.
The Story of the Mediterranean Fleet.
LORD WOOLTON, Minister of Food, August 27, 1943.
Planning for Food Shortages.
Number 8 Issued October 1943
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RT. HON. WINSTON CHURCHILL
House of Commons, September 21, 1943
I could not embark upon the business which is set down for to-day without
expressing what is in the hearts of all members of this House-our profound
regret at the very sad news which it has been your duty, Mr. Speaker, to announce
from the Chair of the sudden death early this morning of the Chancellor of the
Exchequer. Only yesterday evening he sat with us in Cabinet, apparently in the
best of health and spirits, and now he has been instantaneously removed from
our affairs, in which he was playing a most important part. I would suggest that
on the next sitting day we pause for a short time in our business in order to give
the House the opportunity of paying a more formal tribute to one of its distin-
guished members who was holding an office of great consequence in the peculiar
stresses of the present war. I will defer any remarks which I may make upon this
sad matter, which to me is a personal grief, a very acute personal grief, until the
proper time is reached.
I now turn to the statement upon the war which I understood it was desired
by the House that I should make. I have to go some way back in order to place
the whole broad scene before the House. At my conference with the President at
Washington in June, 1942, a decision was taken to send an American army and a
strong British contingent to occupy French North-West Africa. Later on, Novem-
ber 8, 1942, was fixed for the descent. I was very much in favor of this for a
variety of reasons, most of which are now well known. I have never regarded this
African operation as a substitute for a direct attack across the Channel upon the
Germans in France or the Low Countries. On the contrary, the opening of this
new front in the Mediterranean was always intended by its authors to be the
essential preliminary to the main attack upon Germany and her ring of subjugated
and satellite States.
March of the Desert Army
At that time, over 15 months ago, no decision was taken beyond the occupation
of North Africa. There followed almost immediately, in fact while I was in
Washington in June, 1942, the disaster at Tobruk and the retreat with the loss of
80,000 maen of our Desert Army of more than 200 miles to the approaches of
Cairo anI Alexandria. This raised very grave issues, the delta, the Nile Valley, and
the Suez Canal all being in jeopardy. At the same time the German attack through
the Caucasus was developing in a way which seemed to menace the Caspian bases
and the vital oilfields of Baku, Iraq, and Persia.
At Moscow Premier Stalin was able to speak to me with confidence of his
ability to withstand the German attack, and he told me beforehand of the counter-
strokes by which he intended to relieve Stalingrad, and, if possible, destroy the
German forces before it. At Cairo Generals Alexander and Montgomery were
placed in command when the very substantial reinforcements which had been sent
there from Britain several months before arrived to strengthen the Desert Army.
Plans were made to resist Rommel's impending attack, and thereafter to regain
the initiative by a major battle. These plans proved successful. Almost exactly a
year ago, on September 23, began the heavy action which resulted in Rommel's
decisive repulse, and a month later the Desert Army won the hard and brilliant
battle of Alamein and set forth upon its immortal march, a march not yet concluded.
British Speeches of the Day
From that time on for a whole year we and our great allies have had almost
unbroken success by land, by sea, and by air. I cannot recollect anything so
complete and prolonged as the series of victories which have attended our allied
armies in almost every theatre. In the same time that the Desert Army has been
making its great march, that the conquest of North-West Africa and Sicily have
taken place, the Russian armies have advanced on 1,000 miles of front from the
Volga almost to the Dnieper, a distance in many places of more than 500 miles,
driving before them with prodigious slaughter the hordes of Germans th.t invaded
their country and inflicted so many indescribable barbarities upon its inhabitants.
Conquest of Sicily
When I next met the President in January, 1943, and the combined Anglo-
American staffs went into their protracted conference at Casablanca, the whole
scene of the war was already transformed. No decision had hitherto been taken
by us to go beyond North Africa, but now the advance of the Desert Army, which
already stood before the gates of Tripoli, brought another quarter of a million men
into play and enabled us to carry out the policy which I mentioned in my broadcast
in November last of using North Africa not as a seat but as a springboard. We
resolved therefore to complete the conquest of Tunisia and meanwhile to make all
preparations for invading Sicily. The final victories in Tunisia were obtained in
May, and the whole of the enemy forces in North Africa, then little short of half
a million strong, were destroyed or captured.
When I visited the President again in Washington in May, 1943, after and
during the victory in Tunisia, the British and American armies had great results
to display, and we therefore extended our review and set before ourselves as our
principal objectives the knocking of Italy completely out of the war this year.
No one in attempting to frame a time-table for this task would have expected
it would be so rapidly achieved. On July 10 British and American armies, on the
scale of perhaps half a million men, the first wave of whom were carried, as the
House knows, in upwards of 2,700 ships and landing craft, began their attack upon
Sicily, and in a campaign of 38 days the entire island was conquered w th loss to
the enemy of 165,000 in killed, wounded, and prisoners, or more than lour times
our allied losses in the operation. In order to have the correct perspective and
proportion of events it is necessary to survey the whole chain of causation, the
massive links of which have been forged by the diligence and burnished with the
devotion and skill of our combined forces and their commanders until they shine
in the sunshine of to-day and will long shine in the history of war.
Allied Air Mastery
This same year of victory on land has been accompanied by an ever-increasing
mastery of the air by the British, Americans, and Russians over the enemy in
Europe. Speaking particularly of our own air power, the weight of bombs dis-
charged by the Royal Air Force on Germany in the last 12 months is three times
that of the preceding 12 months. The weight of bombs discharged in the last
three months is half as great again as that of the preceding three months. There
has also been a great improvement in accuracy owing to technical devices. The
percentage of loss for the first eight months of 1943 is less than in the same period
last year, and the morale and ardor of our bombing crews are very high.
The almost total systematic destruction of many of the centres of German war
effort continues on a greater scale and at a greater pace. The havoc wrought is
indescribable and the effect upon the German war production in all its forms and
upon U-boat building is matched by that wrought upon the life and economy of
the whole of that guilty organization. There has been an enormous diversion of
The Surrender of Italy
German energy from the war fronts to internal defence against air attack, and the
effective power-the offensive power--of the enemy has been notably crippled
thereby. The German air force has been driven increasingly on to the defensive.
The attacks we have had in this island, though marked by occasionally distressing
incidents, are at present negligible compared with the vast scale of the war.
The enemy is increasingly compelled to concentrate on building fighter aircraft
and night fighter aircraft for home defence at the expense of bomber production.
He is also forced to save his strength as far as possible on all the fighting fronts.
He is, therefore, restricted to a far lower rate of activity than we and our allies
maintain. This throws the burden increasingly upon his fully occupied ground
forces. The R.A.F. is at present maintaining in action throughout the war scene in
all the theatres nearly 50 per cent. more first line aircraft than Germany.
Saturating the Defences
That is the Royal Air Force alone, apart from Russia. On top of this already
heavy preponderance comes the whole rapidly expanding weight of the United
States air forces, building up ceaselessly in this country and already in action on a
great scale both here and in the Mediterranean. The American system of daylight
bombing gives great accuracy on special targets and it is also accompanied by
severe fighting, producing heavy losses among the enemy's fighter aircraft and
notably diminishing the increase which they are seeking to make. Many superb
actions of courage and daring have been fought by the great American air forces
which are developed here and in the Mediterranean, and a high spirit of fellowship
and generous emulation subsists between them' and their British comrades. The
British and American air forces are fed by an ever-broadening and improving
supply of new aircraft, which together exceeds the corresponding German supply
by more than four to one.
The continued progress of Anglo-American air preponderance which can cer-
tainly be expected month after month opens the possibilities of saturating the
German defences both on the ground and in the air, in spite of the desperate
efforts which the enemy is making and will certainly continue to make to strengthen
those defences in proportion to the mounting weight of our attack. Now this
word "saturation" comes to have particular significance in the general field of the
air attack. We feel a certain degree of saturation can be reached, but we can be
sure that this will only be won after a hard-fought and bitter struggle with the
enemy air defences. If it is reached reactions of a very far-reaching character will
be produced. We shall, in fact, have created conditions in which with very small
loss to ourselves the accurate methodical destruction by night and by day of every
building of military significance in the widest sense will become possible.
Complete strategic air domination of Germany by the Anglo-American air
forces is not necessarily beyond our reach even in 1944, with consequences, if it
were attained, which cannot be measured but must certainly be profound. All this
must be considered in relation to the gigantic struggle proceeding ceaselessly along
the 2,000-mile Russian front, from the White Sea to the Black Sea, where the
Russian Air Force is already at many points superior in strength to that which the
Germans have been able to leave there in the face of the air pressures from the
West and from the South.
Reply to "New" German Weapons
We must not in any circumstances allow these favorable tendencies to weaken
our efforts or lead us to suppose that our dangers are past or that the war is coming
to an end. On the contrary, we must expect that the terrible foe we are smiting
British Speeches of the Day
so heavily will make frenzied efforts to retaliate. The speeches of the German
leaders, from Herr Hitler downwards, contain mysterious allusions to new methods
and new weapons which will presently be tried against us. It would, of course, be
natural for the enemy to spread such rumors in order to encourage his own people,
but there is probably more in, it than that. For example, we now have experience
of a new type of aerial bomb which the enemy has begun to use in attacks on our
shipping, close-quarter attacks on our shipping when at close quarters with the
coast. This bomb, which may be described as a sort of rocket-assistcd glider, is
released from a considerable height, and is then apparently guided towards its
target by the parent aircraft.
It may be that the Germans are developing other weapons on novel lines with
which they may hope to do us damage and to compensate to some extent for the
injury which they are daily receiving from us. I can only assure the House that
unceasing vigilance and the best study of which we are capable are given to these
possibilities. We have always hitherto found the answer to any of the problems
which have been presented to us. At the same time I do not exclude, and no one
must exclude from their minds, that novel forms of attack will be employed, and
should they be employed I should be able to show to the House in detail the pro-
longed, careful examination beforehand which we have made into these possibilities,
and I trust we shall be able to show the measures which will be brought into force
War Against U-Boats
So much for the air. I have dealt with the land. Not less remarkable than the
air or the land and certainly not less important is the revolution effected in our
position at sea. I have repeatedly stated in this House that our greatest danger in
this war since invasion has become so much more remote is the U-boat war on our
sea communications and upon allied shipping all over the world. Th s must be
measured by three tests: first, the sinkings of our own ships; secondly, the killings
of the enemy U-boats; and thirdly, the volume of new building. The great victory
which was won by our North Atlantic convoys and their escorts in May was fol-
lowed by a magnificent diminution in sinkings.
The monthly statements which are issued on the authority of the President and
myself, and about which the Canadian Government, who contribute to the Battle
of the Atlantic brave men, planes, and escort vessels, are also consulted, deserve
close attention. I have little to add to them to-day, but it is a fact that for the
four months which ended on September 18 no merchant vessel was sunk by enemy
action in the North Atlantic. The month of August was the lowest month we
have ever had since the United States entered the war, and it was less than half the
average of British and allied sinkings in the 15 months preceding the American
entry into the war. During the first fortnight in this September no allied ships
were sunk by U-boat action in any part of the world.
This is altogether unprecedented in the whole history of the U-boa: struggle
either in this war or in the last. Naturally, I do not suggest for a moment that this
immunity, or anything like it, could possibly continue. A new herd of U-Boats
has been coming out in the last week or so into the Atlantic from their bases in
France and Germany, and they have no doubt, been fitted with what is thought
to be the best and latest apparatus. We, for our part, have not been idle, and
we await this renewal of the conflict, which has in fact already begun. One convoy
is being attacked at the present time. If they will come and attack the convoys
we shall be able to attack the U-boats.
The Surrender of Italy
Morale of German Crews
In spite, however, of the reduced number of U-boats which have been at work
since the May massacre, a day rarely passes without us getting one of these ill-
starred vessels. Moreover, the United States and British air attacks on the German
bases and building yards and on factories where the component parts are made
has definitely reduced the rate of production of U-boats in Germany. The high
percentage of killings has certainly affected the morale of the U-boat crews, and
many of the most experienced U-boat captains have been drowned or are now
prisoners in British or American hands.
Thirdly-I said you must look at it from three points of view-the output of
new building from the United States has fulfilled all that was ever hoped from it
and more. We build our regular quota in this island and the Canadian output, an
entirely new development for Canada, is also remarkable. The credit balance of
new building over losses of all kinds, including marine risks since the beginning
of the year, the net gain, that is to say, exceeds 6,000,000 tons, and should the
present favorable conditions hold we shall soon have replaced all losses suffered
by the United Nations since the beginning of the war. As set forth in the letter
from the President to me which I laid on the table of the House before we rose,
the mounting achievement of United States shipbuilding has been shared generously
with us on those principles of the division of war labor in accordance with the
highest economy of effort which were, from the beginning of our association
with the United States in this war, our guide and which are now becoming increas-
ingly our rule.
The favorable position now enjoyed has enabled a larger number of faster ships
to be built and projected with all the advantages attaching to speed. The House
will also realize that we have taken full advantage of the lull in the U-boat attack
to bring in the largest possible convoys, and that we have replenished the reserves
in these islands of all essential commodities, especially oil fuel, which is almost at
its highest level since the outbreak of the war, and we have substantial margins
between us and what is called the danger level, on which level we have never
trenched, even at the worst time. But all this has not come about accidently, but
by the most astonishing and praiseworthy efforts of industry and organization on
both sides of the Atlantic. It is also the result of hard, faithful, unwearying
service given by the multitudes of escort vessels of all kinds. Most of all, so far
as last year is concerned, it is the result of the startling intervention of the long-
range aircraft of the British Empire and the United States, and especially of our
Besides this the large numbers of auxiliary aircraft carriers which are now com-
ing into service are able to give a measure of air protection to convoys and to con-
duct an aggressive warfare against U-boats in those ocean spaces which are beyond
the reach even of the very long-range aircraft, the V.L.R.s, as they are called, of
the two countries. I repeat, as I have always done, I repeat, as I am bound to do,
my warning that no guarantee can be given of a continuanceof these favorable
conditions, but on this occasion I will go so far as to say that we could only be
defeated by the U-boats if we were guilty of gross neglect of duty in the shipyards
and on the sea, and of an inexcusable falling-off in that scientific and technical
ability on both sides of the Atlantic which has hitherto stood us in good stead.
I cannot pass from this subject without paying tribute once more to the officers
and men of the Merchant Navy, whose losses have been in greater proportion
than those of the Royal Navy. We never call upon them in vain, and we are
British Speeches of the Day
confident that they will continue to play their part in carrying our men and their
equipment and munitions to any place that may be required and under whatever
conditions may exist at the time. I must add also when these new resources of
shipbuilding arq coming into view that everything on the sea is immediately de-
manded by the fighting services in their endeavor to intensify and augment our
offensive oversea actions. Their appetite keeps far ahead of the supply even if it
increases beyond our expectation. The more ships we have the more we seem
Offensive in the Pacific
I have dealt with the land, the air, and the Navy, but now I must turn to
another part of the world. At the Conference at Quebec much attention was given
to the prosecution of the war against Japan. The offensive is already on foot on
a considerable scale in various parts of the Pacific and the main strength of the
United States is deployed in that ocean. The main weight of the offensive opera-
tions there at present is in the Solomons and New Guinea, where General Mac-
Arthur, an officer of outstanding personality, to whom we and our Australian
brothers in the Commonwealth are under a measure of debt, is directing a large-
scale offensive. The first steps were taken by the eviction of the Japanese from
Guadalcanal and from Papua. These were exploited by landings which took
place on June 30 on New Georgia also and on September 4 in Huon Bay, north-
east of Lae. New Georgia has been cleared of the enemy, and the twin bases
of Salamaua and Lae were reduced in a manner which showed a remarkable
development in the use of amphibian and air-borne power, and which furnished,
I may say, another opportunity for the Ninth Australian Division to display those
qualities to the Japanese which the Germans faced at El Alamein. These opera-
tions give great promise for the future, and they will unfold stage by stage as
the months pass by.
Then, while we were in Quebec, we also received the news of the eviction of
the Japanese from the Aleutian Islands, which are American territory, by the occu-
pation of Kiska, in which Canadian forces also took part. Kiska was the sequel to
the annihilation of the Japanese garrison on the island of Attu, and it i; certainly
remarkable for the fact that the Japanese, who had occupied Kiska with a garrison
of 10,000 men or more, were not prepared to await the assault, but fled before-
hand, under the cover of darkness, in their ships.
Here is a new feature in the resistance of Japan. Hitherto, we have reckoned
upon their dying to the last man, which they certainly did at Attu, and in which
respect we were prepared to serve them as well as we could, but at Kiska, and
also to some extent at Salamaua and Lae, a somewhat different mood has seemed
to have possessed the enemy. Evacuation and retreat in order to save their lives
now seem to have taken a place in their method of fighting. We shall see, in due
course, whether these new tendencies become pronounced. If so, it will not alter
the result, but it will save cost and trouble.
Process of Attrition
The fundamental fact, however, of the war against Japan is the steady diminu-
tion of Japanese shipping in relation to the task their war policy has imposed
upon them. The wasting process is most marked. Their widely dispersed con-
quests depend upon a certain minimum shipping supply. They cannot possibly
hold the vast areas they have occupied except upon a certain minimum shipping
supply. Their losses certainly exceed any means which they have, or can ever
obtain, of replacing them. This is also true of their air force, which can scarcely
keep its initial strength, and has long ago been overtaken and is now increasingly
The Surrender of Italy
surpassed every month by the enormous United States expansion; so that in both
those vital respects, upon which the Japanese conquests depend for their main-
tenance, a steady process of attrition is at work and the strength of the enemy
must be considered a wasting asset.
I have ventured to dwell upon these favorable aspects of the war against Japan
only because I know it is realized throughout the United States that the slightest
slackening of effort would destroy all those favorable tendencies. Those tendencies
depend upon a small margin. If that margin is lost by any slackening and those
tendencies cease to operate, you will go into a static, a stagnant condition, and we
might well find ourselves condemned to a long-term process, a futile expenditure
of life and treasure, which would be marking time, treading water. We should
not be getting on, and it is the pace that kills. That is what has to be borne in
mind in bringing this war to an end.
South-East Asia Command
Turning to another but cognate aspect of the war which was discussed at
Quebec: considerable progress has been made in the organization of the South-
East Asia Command, which is being set up in India to intensify the war against
Japan. The supreme allied commander, Admiral Mountbatten, will shortly arrive
in India, accompanied by a, staff of officers who will form the combined allied
headquarters, modelled on that which has been set up under General Eisenhower
with so much advantage. This form of combined allied headquarters for the
South-East Asia front was absolutely necessary because of the many United States
establishments which were growing up separately for many purposes in that area,
and particularly in respect of the great air route to China which is being expanded
and manned on an ever increasing scale. Although there was excellent liaison
and good feeling, it is absolutely necessary to have unity of command in this
Another step, which was foreseen when we examined these matters as much
as 16 of 17 years ago on the Committee of Imperial Defence, was the separation
from the ordinary normal-command in India, the statutory command in India, of
any large extensive campaign fought on or beyond the frontiers of India. That
also has been achieved.
The headquarters of the new command will be set up first in Delhi, so as to
be in close liaison through the organizational period with the Government of India.
They have to be in the closest liaison with the Government of India and with
General Auchinleck, the Commander-in-Chief in India. The new command and
the appointment of Admiral Mountbatten have been warmly welcomed by Gen-
eralissimo Chiang Kai-shek, and they are in full accord with the views of our
American allies. In all these questions of commands matters have to be so arranged
that the men who are chosen to command have the full confidence of all the
A general survey of this amazing and fearful world war is an essential part
of any balanced statement. Without it, the events in any one theatre cannot be
viewed in their proper setting or proportion. To understand fully any part of this
war one must have at least a broad conception of the whole.
Surrender of Italy
I now return, after placing these general considerations before the House, to
the more recent events in the Mediterranean theatre which are so fresh and vivid
in our minds. July 25 was a memorable day. Even before we had half completed
British Speeches of the Day
the conquest of Sicily or had set a foot on the Italian mainland, the dictator
Mussolini was overthrown and the Fascist regime, which had lasted for 21 years,
was cast down and vehemently repudiated by the whole mass of the Italian people.
The Badoglio Government came into existence with the intention of making peace
in accordance with the will of the nation. They were, however, intruded upon at
all points and overlaid by the Germans, and they had the greatest difficulty in
maintaining themselves against this hateful pressure.
We knew nothing about this new regime. Once Fascism was completely over-
thrown we were naturally anxious to find some authority with whom we could
deal, so as to bring about the unconditional surrender of Italy in the shortest time
and with the least possible cost in the blood of our soldiers. It was necessary, as
I advised the House, to wait till the position became more definite. We therefore
continued our preparations for the invasion in strength of the mainland of Italy
and of Europe on which we had resolved at the May conference in Washington.
Presently, some feelers were put out by the new Italian Government through
various channels asking for terms and explaining the deadly character of the diffi-
culties in which they were involved. These difficulties arose from the menacing
presence of German armies, police, and spies all around them and in their midst-
all among them.
The Allied Terms
We were sympathetic with those difficulties. We made the reply that the
surrender must be unconditional. On August 15 the Italian envoy, an officer with
the rank of general, called upon His Majesty's Ambassador at Madrid, Sir S. Hoare,
with credentials proving that he came with full authority from Marshal Badoglio,
and that he came to say that when the allies landed in Italy the Italian Govern-
ment were prepared to join them against Germany, and when could they come.
I was at this time, not entirely by accident, at Quebec for the conference, and I
was in the closest contact with the President. The Secretary of State for Foreign
Affairs was with me, and I was also accompanied by an ample cipher staff and
secretariat, through which hourly touch could be maintained with my colleagues
in the War Cabinet. The President and I were therefore able to act together and
to give prompt guidance in any emergency, with the approval of the War Cabinet.
With the approval of the War Cabinet, it was decided that General Eisenhower
should send an American and British staff officer to meet the Italian envoy in
Lisbon. We at once informed Premier Stalin of what was in progress. On August
19 the meeting in Lisbon took place. The envoy was informed that we could accept
only unconditional surrender. The military terms embodying this act of surrender
-not so much conditions as directions following on the act of surrender-which
had been prepared some weeks earlier, after prolonged discussions between London
and Washington and General Eisenhower's headquarters, were now placed before
He did not oppose those terms, drastic though they were, but he replied that
the purpose of his visit was to discuss how Italy could join the United Nations
in the war against Germany. He also asked how the terms could be executed in
the face of German opposition. The British and American officers replied that
they were empowered to discuss only unconditional surrender. They were, how-
ever, authorized-and this was a decision which we took at Quebec-to add that
if at any time, anywhere, in any circumstances, any Italian forces or people were
found by our troops to be fighting Germans, we would immediately give them
all possible aid.
The Surrender of Italy
Envoy's Return to Rome
On August 23 the Italian general departed with those military terms expressing
the act of unconditional surrender, and with full warning that the civil and ad-
ministrative terms would be presented later. He then made his way back to Rome,
with secrecy and great danger. He promised to lay the terms before his Govern-
ment and bring back their answer to General Eisenhower's headquarters by August
31. In the interval another Italian general arrived bringing with him as his
credentials no less a person than General Carton de Wiart, V.C., one of our most
famous military figures-whom the Italians captured two years ago through a
forced landing in the Mediterranean. This second mission, however, did not affect
the general course of events, and when General de Wiart realized this he imme-
diately offered to return to captivity. The Italian officer, however, rejected this
proposal and General Carton de Wiart is now safe and free in this country.
On August 31 the Italian envoy returned. He met General Eisenhower's repre-
sentative at Syracuse. The Italian Government were willing to accept the terms
unconditionally, but they did not see how they could carry them out in the teeth
of the heavy German forces gathered near Rome and at many other points
throughout the country, who were uttering ferocious threats and prepared to resort
to immediate violence. We did not doubt the sincerity of the envoy nor of his
Government, but we were not able to reveal our military plans for the invasion
of Italy, or, as it had now become, the liberation of Italy. The real difficulty was
that the Italians were powerless until we landed in strength, and we could not
give them the date.
We therefore timed the announcement for the moment which we deemed
would give us the best military chance and them the best chance of extricating
themselves from the German grip. This meant that the armistice should be accorded
only at the moment or just before our main descent-at the moment of our main
descent or a few hours before it. We would have done more had it been possible
to help this unhappy Government, who were beset on every side by insoluble
problems, and who have since acted towards us to the best of their ability with
both courage and good faith.
"A Daring Plan"
We offered and prepared to land an American airborne division in Rome at
the same time as the armistice was declared in order to fight off the two German
armored divisions which were massed outside it to help the Italians, but owing
to the German investment of the Rome airfields which took place in the last day
or two before the announcement of the armistice, of which investment the Italian
Government warned us, it was not possible to carry out this part of the plan, which
was I think, a pretty daring plan-to cast this powerful force there in Rome in
conditions which no one could measure, which might have led to its complete
destruction, but we were quite ready to do it. But at the last moment the warning
came, "The airfields are not in our control."
Unconditional surrender, of course, comprises everything, but not only was
a special provision for the surrender of war criminals included in the longer terms,
but a particular stipulation was made for the surrender of Signor Mussolini. It
was not however possible to arrange for him to be delivered specially and sepa-
rately before the armistice and our main landing took place, for this would certainly
have disclosed the intentions of the Italian Government to the enemy who were
intermingled with them at every point and who had them so largely in their power.
So the Italian position had to be that, although an internal revolution had taken
British Speeches of the Day
place in Italy, they were still the allies of Germany and were carrying on common
cause with them. This was a difficult position to maintain day after day with the
pistol of the Gestapo pointing at the nape of so many necks.
We had every reason to believe the Mussolini was being kept under a strong
guard at a secure place, and certainly it-was very much to the interests of the'
Badoglio Government to see that he did not escape. Mussolini is himself reported
to have declared that he believed he was being delivered to the allies. This was
certainly the intention, and is what would have taken place but for circumstances
Entirely beyond our control. The measures which the Badoglio Government took
were carefully conceived and were the best they could do to hold Mussolini, but
they did not provide against so heavy a parachute descent as the Germans made
at the particular point where he was confined. It may be noticed that Hitler sent
him some books of Nietzsche to console or diversify his confinement. Therefore,
no doubt, the Italians could hardly have refused this civility.
No doubt they were pretty well acquainted where he was and the conditions
under which he was confined, but the stroke was one of great daring and conducted
with a heavy force. It certainly shows there are many possibilities of this kind open
in modern war.
I do not think there was any slackness or breach of faith on the part of the
Badoglio Government and they had one card up their sleeve, the carabinieri guards
had orders to shoot Mussolini if there was any attempt to rescue him, but they
failed in their duty, having regard to the considerable German force who descended
upon them from the air and who undoubtedly would have held them responsible
for his health and safety. So much for that!
The terms were signed at Syracuse on the night of September 3, and from
that time forth occasional aircraft passed secretly between Rome and the allied
headquarters. This is a difficult matter. Great numbers of guns have to be silenced,
particularly batteries have to be warned to be silent at a particular moment to
allow an aeroplane to pass freely. This again runs the risk of disclosing the secret,
on the whole very well kept. The Russian Soviet Government having studied the
terms, authorized General Eisenhower to sign them in their name. Accordingly,
he did so not only on behalf of the United States and Great Britain but on behalf
of the Soviet Government and on behalf of the United Nations.
The Salerno Landing
I have seen it said that 40 days of precious time were lost in their negotiations
and that in consequence British and American blood was needlessly shed around
Salerno. This criticism is as ill-founded in fact as it is wounding to those who
are bereaved. The time of our main attack upon Italy was fixed without the slightest
reference to the attitude of the Italian Government, and the actual provisional date
of the operation was settled long before any negotiations with them had taken
place or even before the fall of Mussolini. The attitude depended upon the time
Necessary to disengage our landing craft from the beaches of southern Sicily. across
which up to the first week in August the major part of our armies actually engaged
there had to be supplied from day to day. These landing craft had then to be
taken back to Africa. Those that had been damaged, and they were many, had to
be repaired, and then they had to be reloaded with all their ammunition, etc., in
the exact and complex order required before there could be any question of carry-
ing out another amphibious operation.
The Surrender of Italy
I suppose it is realized that these matters have to be arranged in the most
extraordinary detail. Every landing vessel or combat ship is packed in the exact
order in which the troops landing from it will require the lorries when they land
as far as can be foreseen. Every lorry in fact is packed with exactly the articles
which each unit will require when that lorry comes. Some of the lorries swim
out to the ships and swim back. They are all packed exactly in series and with the
things which have priority at the top and so on so that nothing is left to chance
that can be done. Only in this way can these extraordinary operations be carried
out in the face of the vast modern fire-power which a few men can bring to bear.
Only in this way are they possible.
The condition and preparation of the landing craft were the sole but decisive
limiting factors. It had nothing to do with these negotiations which, it is said,
were wasting time, nothing to do with the 'Foreign Office holding back the generals
while they worried about this clause or that clause and so forth. There was never
one moment's pause in the process of carrying out the military operations and
everything else had to fit in with the main line traffic.
Telegram to General Alexander
When I hear people talking in an airy way of throwing modern armies
ashore here and, there as if they were bales of goods to be dumped on a beach and
forgotten I really marvel at the lack of knowledge which still prevails of the con-
ditions of modern war. Most strenuous efforts were made by all concerned to speed
up our onfall. For instance, I sent a telegram myself to General Alexander on
August 18 as follows:-
"You are no doubt informed of the Italian approaches to us and the answer
we have sent them. Our greatest danger is that the Germans should enter
Rome and set up a quisling Fascist Government under, say, Farinacci. Scarcely
less unpleasant would be the whole of Italy sliding into anarchy. I doubt if
the Badoglio Government can hold their position until the day fixed for our
main attack, so that anything you can do to shorten this period without danger
to military success will help very much."
That was on August 18, long before the armistice was signed. General Alexander
replied on August 20:-
"Many thanks for your message. Everything possible is being done to
carry out the operation at the earliest possible date. All here realize very
clearly every additional hour gives the enemy more time to organize and
prepare against our forces."
Most people knowing the character of these Generals, Eisenhower, Alexander,
Montgomery, would think that good enough.
A Date Advanced
The date which had originally been the 15th was however in fact brought
forward to the 9th-the night of the 8th and 9th. Thus the whole of this operation
-this is my answer to the charge of delay, to the word "slothful" which I have
seen used in one quarter-the whole of this operation was planned as a result of
decisions taken before the fall of Mussolini and would have taken place whatever
happened in Italy at the earliest possible moment. The Italian surrender was a
windfall, but it had nothing to do with the date for harvesting the orchard.
The truth is that the armistice announcement was delayed to fit in with the
attack and not the attack delayed to fit in with the announcement. I must say, if
I may make a momentary digression, that this class of criticism which I read in the
I British Speeches of the Day
newspapers when I arrived on Sunday morning reminds me of the simple tale
about the sailor who jumped into a dock, I think it was at Plymouth, to rescue a
small boy from drowning. About a week later this sailor was accosted by a woman
who asked: "Are you the man who picked my son out of the dock the other night?"
The sailor replied modestly: "That is true, M'am." "Ah," said the woman, "you
are the man I am looking for. Where is his cap?"
General Montgomery at the head of the Eighth Army with whom marched
the Canadians-welcome comrades-on September 3 began to cross the Straits
of Messina and land at various points in the toe of Italy. One could not tell how
much would leak out or what would happen in Rome in the interval before our
main attack, nor to what extent the Italian Government would have the power to
carry out their undertakings. In this uncertainty I availed myself of the President's
invitation to remain with him in the White House.
Act of "Self-Redemption"
We may pause for a moment to survey aod appraise the act of the Italian
Government, endorsed and acclaimed as it was by the Italian nation. Herr Hitler
has left us in no doubt that he considers the conduct of Italy treacherous and base
in the extreme-and he is a good judge in such matters. Others may hold that
the act of treachery and ingratitude took place when the Fascist confederacy, headed
by Mussolini-for he was not alone, but had now become the absolute dictator
of his country's destinies, with the whole nation ground up into his system-
after nearly a generation of totalitarian rule used its arbitrary power to strike for
material gain at falling France, and so became the enemy of the British Empire,
which had for so many years cherished the cause of Italian liberty. Mussolini
afterwards became the enemy of the United States, in which six or seven millions
of Italians have found a happy home.
There was the crime. Although it cannot be undone, and although nations
which allow their rights and liberties to be subverted by tyrants must suffer heavy
penalties for those tyrants' crimes, yet I cannot but view the Italian action at this
juncture as other than natural and human. May it prove to be the first of a series
of acts of self-redemption. It is possible, indeed, that I or the Foreign Secretary
will have a further statement to make on the subject of the Badoglio Government
before we separate at the end of this series of sittings. The Italian people have
already suffered terribly. Their manhood has been cast away in Africa and Russia;
their soldiers have been deserted in the field-we have seen that ourselves; their
wealth has been squandered; their Empire has been lost-irretrievably lost. Now
their own beautiful homeland must become a battlefield for German rearguards.
Even more suffering lies ahead. They are to be pillaged and terrorized in
Hitler's fury and revenge. Nevertheless as the armies of the British Empire and
the United States march forward in Italy-as we shall march-the Italian people
will be rescued from their state of servitude and degradation, and will be enabled
in due course to regain their rightful place among the free democracies of the
German People Warned
I cannot touch upon this matter of Italy without exposing myself to the ques-
tion which I shall be most properly asked: "Would you apply this line of argu-
ment to the'German people?" I say that the case is different. Twice within our
lifetime, and also three times in that of our fathers, they have plunged the world
into their wars of expansion and aggression. They combine in the most deadly
manner the qualities of the warrior and the slave. They do not value freedom
The Surrender of Italy
themselves, and the spectacle of it in others is hateful to them. Whenever they
become strong they seek their prey, and they will follow with an iron discipline
anyone who will lead them to it.
The core of Germany is Prussia. There is the source of the recurring pestilence.
But we do not war with races as such; we war against tyranny, and we seek to
preserve ourselves against destruction. I am convinced that the British, American,
and Russian peoples who have suffered measureless waste, peril, and bloodshed
twice in a quarter of a century through the Teutonic urge for domination will this
time take steps to put it beyond the power of Prussia or of all Germany to come
at them again with pent-up vengeance and long-nurtured plans. Nazi tyranny and
Prussian militarism are the two main elements in German life which must be
absolutely destroyed. They must be absolutely rooted out if Europe and the world
are to be spared a third and still more frightful conflict.
The controversies about whether Burke was right or wrong when he said: "I
do not know the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole people"-
these controversies seem to me at the present time to be sterile and academic.
Here are two obvious and practical targets for us to fire at-Nazi tyranny and Prus-
sian militarism. Let us aim every gun, and let us set every man who will march
in motion against them. We must not add needlessly to the weight of our task
or the burden that our soldiers bear. Satellite States, suborned or overawed, may
perhaps, if they can help to shorten the war, be allowed to work their passage
home, but the twin roots of all our evils-Nazi tyranny and Prussian militarism-
must be extirpated. Until this is achieved there are no sacrifices that we will not
make and no lengths in violence to which we will not go. I will add this: Having
at the end of my life acquired some influence on affairs, I wish to make it clear
that I would not needlessly prolong this war for a single day, and my hope is
that if I and the British people are called by victory to share in the august responsi-
bilities of shaping the future, we shall show the same poise and temper as we did
in the hour of our mortal peril.
I made a considerable, but I think by no means unnecessary, digression into
the relations and views which we may form towards the various enemy or satellite
countries with whom we may have to deal, and from this digression I come back
to the purely military sphere.
Risks of Salerno
The invasion of Italy in the Naples area was the most daring amphibious
operation we have yet launched or which I think has ever been launched on a
similar scale in war. In North Africa we expected but little resistance and much
help from the French. In Sicily we expected that the opposition of the Italians
would be lukewarm and we knew that we greatly outnumbered the Germans.
On landing in North West Africa no serious air power was likely to be en-
countered. Our descent on Sicily was covered by overwhelming air power sup-
ported over the beaches and battlefields from our own shore bases at Malta and
Pantellaria, but in the Gulf of Salerno we were at the extreme range of shore
based fighter aircraft flying from Palermo and from conquered Sicilian fields.
Until we gained refuelling stations on land our single-engined fighter squadrons
had but a quarter of an hour's activity over the battle area. They had to go all
that way for just a quarter of an hour-a terrible problem for a pilot who engages
in an action or fighting with a few minutes to spare for reaching home across the
In order to give continuous protection for the landing on these terms, it was
necessary to make demands upon our air strength which even its great numbers
British Speeches of the Day
could hardly supply. They can be counted in four figures, but even so, to main-
tain control of the air continuously under these conditions with rapid reliefs and
even with double flights in the day was an immense strain and the amount of pro-
tection is of course not very overwhelming, nothing like what we have if we come
and go across the Channel these days. We could not, therefore, go farther north
People have said: "It would have been better to go to the north of Naples"-
I dare say it would-people have said "Spezia," and so on. All these are very
attractive propositions. We could not go farther north than Naples unless we
dispensed with any aid from shore based aircraft. Even landing where we did we
were dependent to an important extent upon seaborne aircraft in which, happily,
we are also becoming stronger and will in the future become much stronger still.
To have gone farther north would have deprived our carriers of the support of
shore based aircraft without which they themselves would have been the sole object
of the enemy's air attack, absorbing their own air power for their own defence
instead of using it to help the troops over the beaches. These are the very hard
limitations which are imposed at the present time if success is to be securely
All these considerations must have been known to the Germans, with whom
alone we had to deal. Although the German forces were not numerous enough
to man the whole of the threatened sector of the coast, they could counter-attack
within a few hours with a force which, at each stage of the build-up of the first
week or so, was, by our estimates, at least equal to our own. That is to say, you
land on the beach and after you have deployed, you must expect an equal force
to come at you which is fully organized with all its artillery placed and established
on land. We knew that the Germans certainly had the power to march against
us in counter-attack with equal or superior numbers before we could secure any
refuelling points for our aircraft or any harbor facilities and while in consequence
for several days we still had to land and feed over the open beaches.
At this stage in the war a disastrous repulse and enforced embarkation would
have been particularly vexatious, and no doubt if this had occurred severe criticism
might have been levelled at the British and American war direction by some of
those who are clamoring for the far more difficult, far larger, and more serious
operation across the Channel. The enterprise therefore seemed full of hazard,
especially as such a long distance-over 150 miles-separated the vanguards of
the Eighth Army from our new and major attack.
U. S. Fifth Army Attack
This attack was confided to the commander of the Fifth United States Army,
General Clark, an officer of remarkable energy and force, who had under his
command an equal number of United States and British divisions, and was sup-
ported by ample British and American naval forces, and by our entire combined
air forces. If we had been ready to take greater risk we could, of course, have
attacked earlier with a smaller force. If we had been ready to take greater risks
we could have attacked much farther to the northward, relying in that case wholly
on seaborne aircraft, but the enemy's strength would have not been less in the
area involved, for no appreciable reinforcements from the north reached or could
have reached the Naples area during the period involved owing to faulty com-
munications and our interference with them.
The Surrender of Italy
I think the case against needless delay is pretty compact and watertight. In-
deed, when I survey in retrospect last week's intense fighting, with the battles
swaying to and fro, I am bound to say-I make this admission-that it looks as
if we cut it very fine indeed. For what happened? On the night of the 8th-9th
the approach and the landings were successfully effected, but the battle which
developed from the second day onwards was most severe and critical. The British
and American divisions fought side by side with their backs to the sea, with only
a few miles of depth behind them, with their equipment coming in painfully over
the beaches and their landing craft and supporting squadrons under recurrent
enemy air attack. The Germans came at them in well organized assault, fighting
with their practised skill both in defence and in offence.
From day three to day seven the issue hung in the balance, and the possibility
of a large-scale disaster could not be excluded. You have to run risks. There are
no certainties in war. There is a precipice on either side of you, a precipice of
caution and a precipice of over-daring. General Alexander, in whose group of
armies the whole of this operation lay, and later the supreme commander himself,
General Eisenhower, proceeded to the scene in person and visited the divisional
and brigade headquarters on this fluctuating battlefront and conferred with General
Clark at his battle post on shore.
"We Had Their Measure"
Every inch of the ground was savagely disputed. The harbor at Salerno was
gradually got into working order and is now discharging supplies on a consider-
able scale. Reinforcements, of which there is no lack, were poured in to the
utmost limit of our landing craft and means of supply, but the battle swayed to
and fro, and the German hopes of driving us into the sea after a bloody battle on
the beaches must at times have risen high. We thought we had their measure
and so it turned out, but one can quite understand that their hopes may have
The British battle squadron, some of our finest battleships, joined the inshore
squadrons in heavy bombardment, running a great risk within close range and
narrow waters from the enemy's aircraft, U-boats, if any, and the glider bombs
which inflicted damage on some of the ships-they came straight in and stood
up to it at close range and equalized and restored the artillery battle. These ships
had guns which could contend with enemy batteries which were mounted in very
prominent position. It was right to risk capital ships in this manner in view of
the improvement in naval balances, to which I will refer before I sit down.
The British and American air forces also surpassed all their previous efforts.
Almost 2,500 fighter and bomber sorties were flown during the 24 hours at the
height of the battle and 1,400 tons of bombs were dropped on the German forces
on the battlefield and on their immediate communications during this same 24-hour
period. Meanwhile the Eighth Army, whose operation has been considered from
the beginning as complementary to the blow we were striking with the Fifth Army
-the Eighth Army, which had become master at many points in the toe, the ball,
and the heel of Italy-advanced with giant strides, and on the tenth day of the
struggle began to intervene, as it was meant to do, in the invasion of the enemy's
southern flank and rear.
The Enemy Worsted
Yesterday's reports from the battlefield leave no doubt that the enemy has
been worsted, that our main forces are firmly ashore, and that the Eighth Army
has come into action in a suitable place, and that we have recovered the initiative,
British Speeches of the Day
and that we are able now to advance northward on a broad front. That operation
is now in progress. We must, I think, consider this episode-the landing on the
beaches of Salerno-as an important and pregnant victory, one deserving of a
definite place in the records of the British and United States Armies and in the
records of the British and United States Armies fighting together and shedding
their blood in a generous cause.
While this struggle was raging the armistice with Italy was made public and
the Badoglio Government ordered the Italian troops to fulfill its conditions. They
also called upon them to resist the Germans when attacked by them. The German
panzer division outside Rome broke into the city and drove out the King and the
Government, who have now established themselves behind our advancing lines.
I will add no more to the excellent accounts, the very vivid accounts, which have
been published in the newspapers, which are not only much fuller and much
more interesting than the official account, but at the same time are, in my opinion,
giving a very true picture to the public of what has been taking place. I do not
need to add any more to them. Indeed, I find myself at a disadvantage having had
for five of six days to depend entirely upon the official accounts and not knowing
quite what the newspapers were saying. The House is already fully possessed of
fully descriptive passages about this battle.
I will, however, emphasize some of the main points that stand out. The first
is, that the Italian forces and population have everywhere shown themselves un-
friendly or actively hostile to the Germans. They have everywhere shown them-
selves anxious to obey, so far as in their power, the orders of the King of Italy's
new Government. The second is that every effort has been made, both by that
Government and its forces, to comply with the armistice conditions. Fighting has
taken place at many points between the Italians and the German intruders. There
is no doubt whatever on which side the sympathy, hopes, and efforts of the Italian
nation now lie.
Sardinia and Corsica
In Sardinia, for instance, which a little while ago was considered a major prize
in itself, four Italian divisions have driven out the German garrison, and American
forces have now landed in their support. The French have landed in Corsica. We
had great plans for the invasion of Sardinia and Corsica, great elaborate plans, all
worked out, but we have got them in the pick-up merely as a result of sound
blows at the central power, at the vital point of the enemy. As I have said, the
French have landed in Corsica, and, aided by the Italian garrison and all true
Frenchmen and Corsicans, are actively attacking the Germans. This is the first
time that the French have been in action for the liberation of their home territory.
At one time in Bastia Harbor all the batteries were manned by Italians and
French patriots, whom the Italians had been sent there to put down. The fight
in the harbor was conducted by Italian destroyers and a British submarine, all of
whom united in shelling the Germans and driving them out of the place. You
feel the power of the encircling arm of a great world movement in what is taking
place, and certainly I am not going to do anything to hamper that. For the first
time, the French, as I say, have been in action for the liberation of their territory.
A powerful French army is growing up which will play an increasing part.
The escape of Mussolini to Germany, his rescue by paratroops, and his attempts
to form a quisling Government which with German bayonets will try to re-fix
the Fascist yoke on the necks of the Italian people raise, of course, the issue of
Italian civil war. It is necessary in the general interests, as well as in that of Italy,
that all surviving forces of Italian national life should be rallied together around
The Surrender of Italy
their lawful Government and that the King and Marshal Badoglio should be sup-
ported by whatever liberal and left-wing elenients are capable of making head
against the Fascist-quisling combination and thus creating conditions which will
help to drive this villainous combination from Italian soil, or better still, annihilat-
ing it on the spot.
Liberation of Italy
We are coming to the rescue and liberation of Italy.
At any rate, in my view, it is the duty in a situation of this kind of all forces
who will make head against the scourge of their nation-the Fascist-quisling Gov-
ernment of Mussolini, supported by the German invaders-to rally and to get
together make the best stand they can. This is, of course, without the slightest
prejudice to the untrammelled right of the Italian nation to make whatever arrange-
ments it chooses for the future Government of that country on democratic lines
when peace and tranquillity are restored.
If there is any issue on this point, and it is certainly one which will come
more pointedly to the front, we must thrash it out and come to an issue, because
the Government certainly intends to pursue a policy of engaging all the forces
they can to make head against the Germans and drive them out of Italy. We
propose to do that, and we are not going to be put off that action by any fear that
perhaps we should not have complete unanimity on the subject. Parliament does
not rest on unanimity; democratic assemblies do not act on unanimity. They act by
majorities. That is the way they act, and I have not the slightest hesitation or doubt
as to what will be the view of the House and what will be the view of the country
in respect of the policy which I am announcing, and which we are determined to
carry through with the utmost vigor.
Rallying Anti-Fascist Forces
But I wish to make it perfectly clear that we are endeavoring to rally the
strongest forces together in Italy to make head against the Germans and the Musso-
lini-quisling-Fascist combination. That is what we are going to do, what we intend
to do, and we shall do our utmost to explain and justify any course we are taking
But we cannot expect to convince everybody. There are some people who run
their own ideas to such a point, without the slightest regard to the addition to
the difficulties and dangers which our troops have to face and also, I may say,
without giving the slightest consideration to the actual conditions of confusion
and anarchy which prevail in Italy and which at this-terrible juncture do require
the most desperate measures, in order to make any form of Italian nationality
coherent and integral.
[Mr. Cocks. Do the allied Governments intend to allow Italian exiles, people
like Count Sforza, to go back to Italy and help rouse the people?]
I cannot speak for Count Sforza, but I should be glad indeed to see those kind
of forces rallied to the Government which must be formed to drive out the Ger-
mans. If they are given an opportunity and do not come forward, then in my
opinion they will be taking a great responsibility, for there are moments in the life
of a country when people cannot be more nice than wise. They have to throw in
their lot, for what it is worth, with the forces on which depend the existence and
identity of their nation.
British Speeches of the Day
A Free Decision
Well, now, is that all right? Nothing that is settled here, as the Russians
diplomatically say, prejudges or prejudices in any way the free decision of the
Italian people as to the form of Government which they intend to have. We are
coming to the rescue and liberation of Italy. We are prepared to place large armies
in Italy and deploy, on a wide and active fighting front against the enemy on what-
ever line he chooses to resist, and to maintain an offensive against him with in-
creasing weight and vigor, if need be throughout the autumn and winter, and, of
course, beyond. It is, of course, of great importance to the United States and Great
Britain to bring the largest forces they possibly can to bear upon the enemy and
to force the fighting to the utmost.
We are terribly hampered by the sea which has been our shield and protection
but which is now a barrier which prevents the employment of those great: forces.
It is our interest to force the fighting to the utmost and find means, some of them
not even the best, of coming into contact with the enemy. Especially is this true
of the air, where our superiority of numbers as well as of quality must hnd full
scope. It is to our advantage to lose on equal terms and on worse than equal terms
to the enemy in order to produce that diminution, which we can sustain and which
he cannot. But, happily, losses still show an advantage upon our side. They lose
more heavily than we do, in nearly all of the fight, and what small capital have
they got to face this continuous strain!
The Second Front
I call this front we have opened, first in Africa, next in Sicily, and now in
Italy, the third front. The second front which already exists potentially and which
is rapidly gathering weight has not yet been engaged but it is here, holding forces
in its front and no one can tell--certainly I am not going to hint at-the moment
when it will be engaged. But the second front exists and is the main preoc upation
already of the enemy. It has not yet opened, been thrown into play, but the time
will come. At what we and our American allies judge to be the right time this
front will be thrown open and the mass invasion of the Continent from the west,
in combination with the invasion from the south, will begin.
It is quite impossible for those who do not know the facts and figures of the
American assembly in Britain, or of our own powerful expeditionary armies now
preparing here, who do not know the dispositions of the enemy on the various
fronts, who cannot measure his reserves and resources and his power to transfer
.large forces from one front to another over the vast railway system of Europe,
who do not know the state and dimensions of our fleet and landing craft of all
kinds-and this must be proportionate to the work they have to do-who do not
know how the actual measures of a landing will take place or what are the neces-
sary steps to build up, which has to be thought of beforehand, in relation -o what
the enemy can do over a considerable number of days or weeks-it is impossible
for those who do not know these facts, which have been the study of hundreds
of skilful officers day after day for months, to pronounce a useful opinion on
We certainly should not, in a matter of this kind, take our advice from British
Communists because we know that they stood aside and cared nothing for our
fortunes in our time of mortal peril. Any advice that we take will be from friends
and allies who are all joined together in the common cause of winning the victory.
"Bloodiest Portion" Ahead
The House may be absolutely certain that His Majesty's present Government
will never be swayed or overborne by any uninstructed agitation, however natural,
The Surrender of Italy
or pressure, however well meant, in matters of this kind. They will not be forced
or cajoled into undertaking vast operations of war against our better judgment
in order to gain political unanimity or a cheer from any quarter. The bloodiest
portion-make no mistake about it-the bloodiest portion of this war for Great
Britain and the United States lies ahead of us. Neither the House nor the Govern-
ment will shrink from that ordeal. We shall not grudge any sacrifice for the
common cause. I myself regard it as a matter of personal honor to act only with
the conviction of success founded upon the highest professional advice at our
disposal in operations of the first magnitude. I decline, therefore, to discuss at all
the questions of when, where, how, and on what scale the main assault from the
west will be launched, and I trust and am confident that the House will support
the Government in this attitude.
I am glad to say that several important arrangements have been made at Quebec,
and in consultation with the War Cabinet here, for the closer correlation of policy
and action between the Soviet Union and Britain and the United States. The diffi-
culties of geography have hitherto proved an insuperable impediment, though
various efforts have been made not only by the United States but by the British
Government to bridge the physical gap by the successive visits to Moscow of Lord
Beaverbrook, the Foreign Secretary, and myself, and by the visit of M. Molotov
to this country and to the United States. In August, replying to the telegram from
President Roosevelt and myself informing the Russians of the Italian peace feelers,
Marshal Stalin expressed a wish to have an inter-allied commission set up in the
Mediterranean to deal with this and similar problems as and when they arose-
the Mediterranean problem, the working of the Italian armistice, and all that, as
they arose. We were very glad to find this friendly interest taken in our Medi-
terranean operations by our Russian allies. The commission, of course, cannot
supersede the authority or diminish the responsibility of the Government, and its
members will be kept fully informed of all that passes, and will have the power
of individual and collective representations to their Government.
Our representative will be the Member for Stockton (Mr. Harold Macmillan),
whose work at General Eisenhower's headquarters has been closely connected with
this field, and who has discharged his difficult duties with increasing distinction
and success. Arrangements have also been made-I must make it quite clear that
this does not release the Government from their responsibilities, because that would
be contrary to the Parliamentary principle on which we rest, and also, of course, the
military emergency dominates everything-arrangements have also been made, as
has already been stated, for a tripartite conference between the Foreign Secretaries
of the three countries or their representatives. We shall be represented by the
Foreign Secretary, in whom the House and his colleagues have the completest
confidence. The conference will take place at an early date and no questions will
be barred from its discussion. The whole ground will be surveyed, and matters will
be carried forward to agreement wherever possible. Where there is a difference,
that will be set aside for what I am coming to now.
We also have a confident hope of a subsequent meeting before the end of the
year between the President of the United States, Marshal Stalin, and myself. I
need scarcely say that the time and place of this meeting will not be made public
until after it has been concluded, and I would add that all speculations on such
points of detail in the newspaper Press would, on the whole, be unhelpful. The
work that will have to be done on the Foreign Office level between the three
countries should prove an invaluable and, is certainly, an indispensable prelimi-
/nary to any such meeting of the heads of the three Governments. I will not say
20 British Speeches of the Day
any more on this subject at present except, which I am sure will be the feeling
of the House, that no meeting during this war could carry with it so much sig-
nificance for the future of the world as a meeting between the heads of the three
Governments, for, without the close, cordial, and lasting association between
Soviet Russia and the other great allies, we might find ourselves at the end of the
war only to have entered upon a period of deepening confusion.
French National Committee
At Quebec, also, was settled the question of the recognition of the French
Committee of National Liberation. Any difference in the degree of this recogni-
tion which may be noted in the documents of the various Powers arose solely from
the importance which attaches to preserving full freedom to the French nation
as a whole to decide its future destinies under conditions of freedom and tran-
quillity. Neither Great Britain nor the United States is prepared to regard the
French National Committee as other than a provisional instrument, and this view
is also fully accepted by the members of the Committee themselves.
I am happy to say that a continued improvement of personal relations and
fusion of aims has taken place in the last two months within the committee
itself. Personalities have receded, and the collective strength of this body--what
I will call the trustees of France during the time of incapacity-has steadily grown.
With the exception only of Indo-China, which is still in enemy hands, they
administer with success the entire French Empire, they dispose of a considerable
fleet in which the first-class modern battleship Richelieu will presently take its
A French army of 300,000 or 400,000 men is being steadily organized by the
French Committee, under the command of General Giraud, and in the closest
association with his colleague General de Gaulle. This army is being equipped
with the most modern equipment supplied by the United States Government, and
it will not be long before we shall again experience the inspiring sense of having
French forces alongside us on the battle front. I am very glad to add that both
Russia and the United States are agreeable to the French National Committee being
represented on the new commission which is being set up in the Mediterranean, and
that in this respect and for the first time they will take their place as an equal
partner'with the three great Powers warring against Germany in Europe.
A Sacred Duty
Although I have not hesitated to express my differences with the various sec-
tions of the French National Committee from time to time, and I cannot pretend
that all has run smoothly and happily, I wish to make it quite clear that I regard
the restoration of France as one of the Great Powers of Europe as a sacred duty
from which Great Britain will never turn. This arises not only from the sentiments
which we hold towards France, so long our comrade in victory and misfortune, but
also from the fact that it is one of the most enduring interests of Great Britain in
Europe that there should be a strong France and a strong French Army. Such
a condition could, however, only be reached on the basis of the free self-expression
of the French people as a whole. They alone must be the judges of the conduct
of their fellow-Frenchmen in the terrible conditions which followed the military
collapse of the summer of 1940.
I remain convinced that the highest honor will be accorded to those who never
flinched or wavered in the hour of disaster, and that lasting condemnation and,
I trust, salutary punishment will be meted out to all prominent persons who have
not merely bowed to the force of circumstances but who, for the sake of personal
ambition and of profit, have tried to promote the victory of the common foe.
The Surrender of Italy
Release of Prisoners
There are three points arising out of the unconditional surrender of Italy and
the armistice which we have granted which require special notice. The first is our
prisoners of war. There were nearly 70,000 British prisoners of war, and upwards
of 25,000 Greek and Yugoslav prisoners in Italian hands. From the very first
moment of Mussolini's fall, we made it brutally clear to the Italian Government
and King that we regarded the liberation of these prisoners and their restoration
to our care as the prime and indispensable condition of any relationship between
us and any Italian Government, and this, of course, is fully provided for in the
terms of surrender.
However, many of these prisoners in the north of Italy, and others in the central
and southern part, may have fallen into the power of the Germans. I have no
precise information to give the House to-day in view of the confusion prevailing
in Italy, which only our arms can clarify. The Italian Government, however, have
given orders for the release from confinement of all allied prisoners under their
control, and I have no doubt that these will be succoured by the Italian people
among whom they are dispersed in spite of the German threats of punishment
to any Italians who show this kind of common humanity. In all these matters
we are acting with the greatest vigilance and earnestness, and everything in human
power will be done. Everything, however, depends on the movement of the
armies in the next few weeks.
The second important feature arising out of the armistice with Italy is the
situation in the Balkans. Here with marvellous and indomitable tenacity the
patriot bands of Greeks and Yugoslavs have maintained a formidable resistance
to the torturers of their countries; they hold great regions under their control, they
fight fierce battles in the mountains, they destroy communications, and they occupy
important towns and points with a vigor and on a scale which has required no
fewer than 47 German, Italian, and Bulgarian divisions-for this is the dirty work
Bulgaria does-to be maintained continually in these vast and wild spaces. Of these
upwards of 25 were Italian divisions, who even if unable to turn upon the common
foe, will certainly be of no further danger to the patriots, and, indeed, a valuable
source of their equipment. This gap will have to be supplied from some quarter
or the other by the Germans at a time when they are so heavily strained upon the
Russian and other fronts.
Help for Greece and Yugoslavia
Hitherto we have had no means of helping these unconquerable champions of
Greek and Yugoslav freedom except by air-borne supplies and by offers of money.
With the control of southern Italy, to which we confidently look forward in the
near future, and with the building up of our air power in Italy our entry and
perhaps command of the Adriatic should become possible. All this opens far-
reaching vistas of action which also must be surveyed in relation to the conditions
and temper of the people in the satellite States of Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria,
each of which is a study in iself, and all of which will be increasingly affected by
the advance of the Russian armies and by the development of Anglo-American
In dealing with this subject I must say no more than is already obvious to the
enemy, but henceforward we shall see the Germans holding down, or trying to
hold down, the whole of Hitler's Europe by systematic terror. Whenever Hitler's
legions can momentarily avert their eyes from the hostile battlefronts which are
closing in upon them they can take their choice either of looking upon ruined cities
British Speeches of the Day
of the German homeland or upon, what is not a less awful spectacle, the infuriated
populations which are waiting to devour them.
The first point then is our prisoners, many of whom we hope will be rescued;
the second is this great development in the Balkans which I cannot pretend to
measure exactly and which in any case is not suitable for public discussion; but
there is a third and most tangible advantage which we have gained from the
overthrow of Italy. I mean the surrender of the Italian fleet. This was fulfilled in
fidelity to the orders of the Italian King and the Badoglio Government. Practically
the whole of the Italian Navy and many merchant ships and many submarines have
under conditions of great risk strictly executed the conditions of the armistice and
made their way to Malta or other ports under British control.
Use of Italian Fleet
This event has decisively altered the naval balances of the world. Not only
have the allies gained the Italian fleet to use in any way they think most serviceable
but there is also set free-the stronger British fleet which was measured against it.
We came into two naval fortunes on the same day or, as we put it in this House,
it counted two on a division. Very.large additional naval forces are therefore at our
disposal. The United States forces are already dominant in the Pacific. All the
disasters have been repaired by new buildings and they are already dominant in
the Pacific. Very large additional naval forces have now come into our hands
and since they will not remain idle for one single unnecessary day I venture to
think that the Japanese war lords may soon find themselves confronted, at any
rate, with some serious considerations which were probably not in their minds
at the time they ordered the attack upon Pearl Harbor.
I now have finished my survey, and have but one word more to say. The political
atmosphere in the United States is not the same as it is over here. The Constitution
decrees elections at fixed intervals, and parties are forced to assert and defend
their special interests at the elections in a manner which we, under our more
flexible system, have been able to lay aside for the time being. Nevertheless, I
was made conscious of the resolve and desire of all parties to drive forward the
war on all fronts and against all foes with the utmost determination. I was also
conscious of a feeling of friendliness towards Great Britain and the British
Commonwealth and Empire such as I have never known before, and a respect for
the war effort of the 46,000,000 in this small island, and for the conduct of our
troops who are the comrades of the Americans in the hard-fought fields of thi; war.
All this was very dear and refreshing to my heart. I found also the feeling
everywhere that the war was being well managed, that the central direction made
good plans, and that highly competent and resolute officers were entrusted with
their execution in every part of the globe. It is my hope that this conviction is
generally shared at home, and that the House of Commons will feel no need to
reproach itself for the unwavering confidence it has given to His Majesty's servants
in their discharge of the exceptional burdens which have been thrust upon them.
The Work of A.M.G. in Sicily: Collaboration with Russia 23
RT. HON. ANTHONY EDEN
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
House of Commons, September 22, 1943
I come to the military situation and in particular to the work which has been
done by the Allied Military Government in Sicily. As I listened I thought some
Members did not seem to have a very clear picture of what this organization is and
what its officers have to do. Their charge in the first instance is not in the main
a political one but a practical one. They come into' cities utterly devastated, cities
which have been subjected to aerial bombardment, which are probably without
either light or water, with the dead lying about the streets and without food,
probably, even for the next day. Their task is to try to restore something in the
nature of normal life to those cities, to try to get transport going again-and when
two armies have passed through a town there is not very much transport left-to
try to get food in from neighboring countries, to try to prevent the outbreak
of epidemics of typhus and other diseases. It is an immensely difficult task of
organization. Those have been the main tasks upon which this military government
has concentrated. I have watched its work with great care. I have had sent to me
at the Foreign Office the reports of the work of this organization, and I can tell the
House that they have done very fine work there.
Sicily Under Allied Military Government
Now I come to one of the criticisms that have been made. First it is said that
we have created this organization to maintain Fascist officials in office. That is not
so. Let me give Sicily as an example, and here let me say that in Sicily Fascism
has never been a really popular creed. Fascism has been imported into Sicily; most
of the senior officials in Sicily were imports from the North. Its senior officials
have almost without exception been removed from the moment of our possession of
the territory. Sicily is divided into nine areas, what the French would call pre-
fectures, under prefects. All of these were under Fascists, all of whom have been
got rid of. They either fled or were removedafter we arrived-most of them fled.
In more than fifty per cent of them the local mayors, the podesti, have also been
changed from the moment of our arrival; the organization has done what it could
to choose a mayor who had a certain amount of popular backing and who was
generally acceptable-not of course by the process of holding an election, but by
a sounding of the population-to take the place of the Fascist official. A number
of Fascists have, of course, been arrested. I have not the exact figures, but the
latest report is that about 1,000 prominent Fascists in Sicily remained behind and
are at present interned.
I come to another criticism-Why use the Carabinieri? The House knows
that they are not an organization of exclusively Fascist traditions. On the contrary,
they existed in Italy a very long time before the Fascist regime. The bad organiza-
tion, the organization which we may call sinister in its influence, that corresponds
to the Gestapo is Ovra, the secret police that Mussolini and the Fascists used to
employ. That organization has been completely broken up and destroyed in Italy,
and the Fascist Party organization with it, and all the members of Ovra and all
the Fascist political officials in Sicily have been arrested, though many of them fled
before they could be arrested. Supposing, for the sake of argument, that we had
not used the Carabinieri. What should we have had to do? We should have had
to employ at least 10,000 British troops to do their job-not so well-and that
British Speeches of the Day
would have taken men from the fighting forces. We discussed all this before we
went into Sicily and I am absolutely certain that our system is right.
I come to the next criticism-Why do you put a ban on political activities?
That is a perfectly fair question. It would have been very much more popular, I
have no doubt, with many in Sicily if from the moment of our landing and before
the island was clear we had had a bit of "free for all" political strife of the kind
we enjoy in this country. We just felt that we could not enjoy that luxury at this
stage. . Many probably know Sicily much better than I do. If they do, they
know that it is an island of intensely active rival political factions. Perhaps the
strongest-party of all in Sicily is the party that stands for separation from the
Italian mainland altogether. Then there is the clerical party, and there is the
party of the extreme Left, all in violent divergence. . .
We have not the least intention of annexing the island, nor should we, at any
time. The report I have from our officers on the spot is that the Sicily independence
movement is extremely strong. . In the existing military situation, and while
we were using this island for the preparation of the advance upon Naples, it was
impossible to allow free rein to these various political parties. . These regula-
tions are not at all tightly applied. There is a great deal of political discussion.
There is freedom of the press to say what they like about each other, and even
about A.M.G.OT. I am informed that, after twenty years of Fascist rule, the press
are not in the least happy at being told that they can say what they like. They
have been so used to having a directive that they do not quite like it when they do
not get it. . After twenty years of not being allowed to express your opinions
and of having to say exactly what the Government tell you, a week after you are
released you are liable to be a bit puzzled. I have no doubt that they will very soon
discover it and that we shall very soon have criticisms of the work we are doing,
just as we have it in this House.
I want to deal with one other point of this kind. It has been said that the
exchange rate was very unfairly fixed by this organization. In fairness to the
organization and to the officers concerned, I wish to make it quite plain that they
had no responsibility in this matter. The fixing of the rate was done on the
responsibility of the two Governments principally concerned and not by this organi-
zation. Whether the decision was right or wrong, it was not the fault of that
Let me deal with the point whether the organization shall continue. It is not,
of course, intended to be permanent. It is bound up with the future of Italy herself,
about which I am going to say something in a moment. We do not want to have
these burdens of administration on our hands. The sooner we can find an Italian
administration that can take these burdens off our hands the better we shall be
pleased. We do not want to re-enter Italy, or even Europe, on the basis that we
are going to be the people who will administer and run the countries. We want,
as soon as we can, that the people shall run the country for themselves. ...
What is our policy in respect of friendly countries? There we do not propose
to apply the same principles, of course; we have never intended to do so. We have
already entered into conversations with the various Governments concerned. ..
It is our intention from the earliest possible moment after the landing, when
the military position allows, that the administration shall be turned over to the
friendly Government, the liberated Government with whom we are in relation, or
The Work of A.M.G. in Sicily: Collaboration with Russia
to some authority representing that country. That applies to all of them, and we
are in discussion as to how to do it. Even at the very beginning, when the Com-
mander in Chief must have full powers, when the battle is in progress, we want
to use native officials of the friendly liberated countries and not apply a system
of military government as we have done in Sicily. This matter is being cleared up.
It is one of the subjects we shall discuss when we have the meeting of the Foreign
Secretaries so that the matter may be cleared beyond any shadow of doubt. ...
All the information which comes in to the Foreign Office is given to the military
authorities for their help and guidance. In addition, there is in constant session a
Committee, composed of staff officers of all three Services and presided over by an
extremely efficient official of the Foreign Office. The Committee receive informa-
tion and coordinate it, and on the basis of it they give us advice and appreciations
as to conditions in enemy countries and other such matters. I submit that our
information on these matters has been extremely accurate, as is shown by what
We judged that the Italians would not fight, and our judgment was right. It
was not an easy judgment to make. It is quite different now. I myself had grave
doubts whether the Italians, unwarlike as they are, would not fight when we
approached their own country. . The danger at Salerno at a later phase was not
the Italians, but the Germans. The German forces were there, and remain there,
and we had to be in a position to land with a sufficient force to be able to defeat
the German forces on our landing. . .
The first Italian Envoy arrived in Madrid on August 15th. We first received
a telegram about it on August 16th. He arrived in Lisbon on August 17th. Our
negotiations began on August 18th and 19th. These were the days on which
negotiations began-the first day that we knew there were people who at any rate
had some credentials to negotiate with us. The last occasion on which we bombed
Milan was the night of the 15-16th and the last occasion we bombed Turin was
the night of the 16-17th. In other words, from the very first moment that we
knew there was, at least a chance, that there would be an armistice we laid off that
Did we understand the necessity for full and frank cooperation with all the
democratic organizations in Italy, or, I would add, outside it? What sort of Gov-
ernment do we want to see in Italy? The kind of Government we want to see is one
as broadly based as possible and including all parties that are anti-Fascist in
character. We shall do our best to bring that about bit by bit. Count Sforza's
name was mentioned-and he might be one-and anyone who will help in that
work or assist us in the battle with Hitler will be welcome. Harsh words have been
said about Marshal Badoglio and the King and so on. The delivery of the Fleet-
and I think this must be said in fairness-was honestly, and even courageously,
carried out. There are boats and ships coming from the Italian Navy, and merchant
ships, not only to ports in the Mediterranean but all over the world in the last few
hours. At this moment in Corsica, French troops and Italians are fighting together,
and successfully, against the Germans.
Collaboration With the Soviet Government
Before I close, if the House will bear with me, I want to turn to a rather
different note, less controversial perhaps. I want to say something about Russia
and our policy with Russia. I have listened to this Debate and I have heard many
speeches on the subject of Russia. The Member for Wakefield and some others
have urged upon us that we should seek the closest collaboration with the Soviet
British Speeches of the Day
Government. I agree absolutely and entirely. That is our policy and we shall
persist in it, in the letter of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty which we signed last year. . .
I have surveyed as honestly and as impartially as I can the work which we have
sought to do with the Soviet Government since the Treaty was signed last year,
and I can fairly say that we do not feel that we have anything to reproach our-
selves with in our efforts to give effect to thit Treaty. We have constant consulta-
tion and, if there has not been as much personal exchange between the leading
persons of the two Governments as we would have liked, it is fair to say that we
have made more than our share of efforts to travel to meet our Allies. That applies
to all our Allies. It is in that spirit that we shall approach our problems in the
future. If we are to understand one another, we must be frank with one another.
There has been too much past history of misunderstanding, and let it be admitted,
too much suspicion, of pretending that differences of interpretation do not exist if
they, in fact, do exist.
Sometimes my Russian friends say to me that we do not understand tteir point
of view. On those occasions they express themselves clearly, even forcibly. I make
no complaint about that, but there are occasions, also, when we feel that they do
not understand our point of view, and I believe it to be in the ultimate interests of
our good relations that we should speak about it on these occasions. .. .
We shall have our differing points of view, but, broadly, the interests of this
country, of the British Commonwealth, of the United States, of the U.S.S.R., and
of China are the same . because, broadly, our interests do not clash and all
our interests are in peace. We want to build up a peace system which will endure,
a peace system backed by the necessary authority to prevent a recurrence of these
scourging wars from which we suffer. In a very few weeks now I shall, I hope,
be going to meet my opposite numbers. I shall go with a determination to do
everything I can to reach a generous measure of understanding of all the problems
that confront us, so that we can prepare the way for a greater event-the meeting
of President Stalin, President Roosevelt, and our own Prime Minister. If we
approach the meeting in that spirit of understanding for each other's point of view
and with the candor which I have used today, I believe we shall thus best prepare
for a final understanding. Now and again it happens that, as the pages of history
unfold, there come opportunities in man's progress through the world. I believe
that in the next few months there is such an opportunity for us, for Russia, and
for the United States to reach a lasting understanding. If we can do that, even the
horrors of this war will not have been in vain. It is to that work that we have to
set our hands.
set our hands. [House of Commons Debates]
RT. HON. ERNEST BEVIN
Minister of Labour
House of Commons, September 23, 1943
Mobilization has reached a stage in this country which is not exceeded by any
country in the war. . Germany has had the power and the ruthlessness to call on
many millions of foreign workers who have been driven into their war machine.
We did not have that power, and if we had had it I hope we would not have used
it. Since I took office I have had to work on a very limited basis, with ;. circum-
scribed population. Many Members of this House have served in Governments
before my time. I have been unable to find any experts who ever put forward the
Mobilizing to the Limits of the Population
idea or substantiated the conception that Great Britain, out of her population,
could provide in a war a continental Army, an Air Force of the size we have got,
and a Navy of the extent we have got, and maintain mechanical equipment in a
mechanized war to the extent we have had to do. I do not believe that anyone
who ever studied this problem before the war broke out, facing it in all its aspects,
believed such a thing possible. But we have had to do it, and we have done it.
That I believe is a triumph of British organizational genius.
How has it been done? I have registered every nman in the country between
the ages of 18 and 51. To date I have registered all women from 18 to 47. That
has involved the registration of 10,000,000 men and 10,000,000 women. In addi-
tionj to carry out the decisions of the Cabinet, I have had special registrations of
men and women with special skill or experience-engineers, electricians, ship-
builders, miners, nurses, and now cotton workers-in order to fill the gaps and
provide the manpower for the country. I have assumed that in doing this I have
been carrying out the will of this House, because the determination of this House
and of the nation has been to win this war. I hope to stop at nothing until we
have won the war, whatever the consequences may be.
I began with a population, between the ages of 14 and 64, of 33,000,000
people. What has happened to those 33,000,000? Of them, 22,750,000 are in the
Services, Civil Defense, or paid employment, either in the munitions industries or
carrying on the civil life of the community where we have agreed that they should
remain. That includes 700,000 part-time women. There are in the country nearly
16,000,000 males between 14 and 64, and over 15,000,000 are in the service of the
country or in paid employment. There are 17,000,000 women between 14 and 64,
and 7,750,000 of them are in the Services or in paid employment at the present
moment. The remainder of those women are left to carry on the domestic life of
the country. There are over 1,000,000 doing unpaid voluntary work, which we
should otherwise have to find paid persons to do. Therefore, I add to the 7,750,000
over 1,000,000 who are in fact rendering service to the country of a national
character of one kind or another. There are the W.V.S. and all kinds of services,
nursing, Y.M.C.A. canteens, billeting, and any amount of services. ..
Over 9,000,000 children under the age of 14 have to be looked after in this
country, and that I regard as a form of national service. Of the single women
between 18 and 40, 91 per cent are working. That leaves only nine per cent for
sickness and various ailments in the country. There are over 80 per cent of married
women of that age group without children engaged in the war effort. . I do my
best, but, really, when you have worked the mobilization of married women, even
if they have not got children, up to 81 per cent, I think you have reached a very
high figure. More than 1,000,000 men and women over 65 are in paid employ-
ment in the country. I would like to mention this figure.
We depend on shipping. It may interest the House to know that in the Mersey-
side and Manchester, the great mouths of England at present, the average age of
the docker is nearly 51, and he is giving a remarkable turn round of ships under
present circumstances. I saw the other day a man of 83 wheeling 3-cwt. bags of
sugar. I do not think that I have been very harsh on other people when that sort
of thing is happening. I hope that it will be borne in mind. Over 2,500,000 people
have been recruited to the Forces from the non-industrial classes.
All this has involved much curtailment of industry and services, and, I am
afraid, much inconvenience to the civilian population. No one is more conscious
than I of the restrictions which the Minister of Food and the President of the
Board of Trade have had to impose, and I am longing for the day when our raw
British Speeches of the Day
material position is better, when we can ease up a bit and make civilian life a little
easier. The moment that that can be done, consistently with the provision of
weapons of war for our men in the field, it will be done.
Mobilization Is Reaching the Limit
Despite a slight fall in the population of working age, which I have quoted,
in the year from July, 1942, to June, 1943, more than 1,000,000 were added to
the Forces and the munitions industry, and two-fifths of them were obtained from
the non-industrial classes, the remainder coming from the contraction of less vital
industries. Another striking fact emerges. I mentioned in opening that no one
could have imagined that we could carry an Army of the size we have got-the
figures of which, of course, I cannot give in public-and such an Air Force and
Navy; but in this war we are employing in munitions 2,250,000 more people than
we were at the end of the last war. That gives some indication of the tit anic effort
we have had to make. It is quite true that to do it I have been compelled, with
the support of my colleagues in the Cabinet, to extend greater and greater controls.
I extended the Control of Employment Order, so that women of 18 to 40 must
get their jobs through the employment exchanges. I had to undertake-and I
assure the House that it was rather an unhappy thing to do-the direction to part-
time work. In this field I enter very closely into the domestic life of the people.
I assure the House that while I am willing to do anything which is necessary to
win the war, I will not be a party to anything unless it is proved necessary. That
is the basis upon which this mobilization has been carried out.
I had to introduce the Notice of Termination of Employment Order, to prevent
wastage between jobs which did not come under the Essential Work Order. I must
say, and the country and the House must realize, that so far as manpower is con-
cerned, with this effort we are now making for 1943-44 and within the limits of
our population, mobilization must be regarded as virtually reaching the limit and
complete. Apart from a small number to be made available from measures already
announced and new entrants from the younger age classes, there can be little
addition to our manpower. . .
As a result of a careful examination of what would be required, the figure
finally resolved upon was that I had to find for the last nine months of 1943
another 700,000 people, out of the residue that was left. How have I to do it?
I have heard Chancellors of the Exchequer stand at this Box and suggest that
sometimes the finding of money is rather more difficult than finding persons.
After examining the whole of the situation, it was decided upon these steps, which
I announced to the House. We decided to reduce to a minimum the intake into
the Women's Services, much to the disappointment of many girls who have been
studying and hoping to get in. I am very grateful to them for responding to the
switch-over. I have had very little difficulty; their public spirit was magnificent.
The second point was to register women up to 50.
We also decided upon the retention in the aircraft industry of certain R.A.F.
mechanics who have been lent by the R.A.F. and the rearrangement of the labor
force already in the munitions industry. In other words, the War Office has been
reviewing its requirements, examining stocks, cutting down and then switching
over the available labor to the industries which have been given the highest priority.
What are those industries? First, it was aircraft. The decision of the Cabinet is
that the bomber forces and the other forces must not only be maintained but
expanded. We have not only to make good the losses which take place and
Mobilizing to the Limits of the Population
which you see reported week by week and night by night, but we have to increase
these forces. I would ask the Members to appreciate the fact that the more you
increase your bomber forces and the more targets you go to hit, the less loss you
get. It prevents the concentration of the enemy on one single force. Therefore,
the priority is given in 1943-44 to aircraft. ...
Boys for the Aircraft Industry
When I have done this in connection with aircraft industry, that will not be
sufficient. I shall have to direct boys of 16 to 17 to the aircraft industry. I have
tried not to do this up to now so as not to limit a boy's chances of finding his
place in industry. This age is the delicate, kindergarten age. It is a question of
these young people finding their future place in industry, and up to now I have
left it to free engagement as much as I could. But we are at such a stage now that
if the aircraft industry is to be properly manned, then I must resort to this direction.
There is no question of priority. Every woman I can get, subject to the
guarantee I have given, I shall need and every lad I can get I shall need. But I
emphasize this. If a boy is going on to a secondary school and I had to choose
between his education and the temporary use of a woman aged 47 to 50 I think
I should give priority to the boy, or'to the girl as the case may be.' After all, the
lives of these young people are before them and if I did that I believe the women
would prefer it ...
Now I come to coalmining. It is my duty to try and maintain, on the Cabinet
decision, 720,000 men and youths in this industry. To do that I require 30,000 as
soon as possible and at least another 20,000 next year. The wastage has to be made
good. The average age, obviously, is going up, and as far as possible we want to
get in the younger people. To meet this situation in the past we have brought men
back from the Forces and from industries. We gave an option for mining when
men of 18 to 25 were called up, and the reason for that was largely to try and
balance the personnel at the younger end with the growing age in the mines. We
therefore brought this option specially to the notice of these men. I addressed an
extensive appeal to all fit men of military age urging them to volunteer. . .
The policy of the Government is that we have to maintain the coal output
necessary for carrying on the war, and we shall utilize those who have opted or
those who have volunteered and if vacancies still exist we shall, in addition,
proceed to direct men to the mines whether they have been in that industry before
or not. There will be no distinction. Every man so directed will, of course, have
an opportunity of appeal just as surface workers have that opportunity now. I will
not add to that statement. It is the declaration of the Government and a clear
statement of the position as it is now and as it will be proceeded with imme-
Other Special Calls
There is one last service-transport. One of the great anxieties we have had
is that of moving people to and from their work when we have been handicapped
in many ways and have not been able to help them. We are gravely concerned
about its effect on the health of the people. We want to reduce the time and to
facilitate travelling as much as we can, but anything that we do in this respect
must be limited to the essential services. We feel that it is a most vital and
important thing to facilitate the bus services as much as we can. That must have
priority. To do that I want several thousand bus conductors, and that will rank
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equally with aircraft because it is absolutely vital. Therefore I want to take this
opportunity to thank most sincerely our bus men and bus girls for the marvellous
service they have rendered. No one knows the irritation and the difficulty that the
job involves, and these women on crowded vehicles have done a marvellous job.
But I must ask for more, and that is one of the reasons for expansion, in order
to obtain available women for the service.
Nursing and midwifery also have a special call. I am hoping in a few days
to have the Report of the Hetherington Committee, which will enable me, I hope,
to tackle much better domestic service in hospitals and institutions of that kind
where there is a terrible shortage. I am glad to say that the registration of nurses
and midwives brought in 400,000 persons. Now we started interviewing in June
and by the end of August we have placed in training or employment nearly 3,000
nurses and they are going on now at the rate of about 300 a week, mainly women
up to 60 years of age who have married and gone out of the profession and are
now coming back and helping the nation at this critical moment. They like regis-
tration because they say it enables them to know that they are doing what the
State really wants them to do. We have, of course, exercised great care in the
handling of this problem.
Finally, we have not only to look ahead and prepare for wastage but to prepare
for the great and final struggle to which I have referred. It is essential to see
that everyone who can serve shall do so to the best of their ability. I do not believe
there is a single citizen worthy of the name who would have it otherwise, and I
am confident that if the Members will exercise their judgment on the task which
the Cabinet has decided has to be faced, they will face it in this House as resolutely
as we did in the Cabinet and will support us in carrying out this mobilization of
manpower which I hope is final and will bring victory nearer to all of us.
[House of Commons Debates]
RT. HON. OLIVER LYTTELTON
Minister of Production
August 30, 1943
As more than six months have now elapsed, since I first announced the reasons
for the Changes in Production Programs last January, I thought that it might be
useful to review how the changes in programs had been going and what the next
six months have in store for us. . .
Progress in First Six Months
Looking at the picture as a whole, I think I may say that the changes in'pro-
grams have been effected as smoothly as could be expected. The total number of
workers released from their previous occupations through program changes during
the six months from January 1st to June 30th was 75,000, but of these there were
only 1,500 workers who, at June 30th, had been unemployed for a month or more
as a result of the cuts. During the same period, and in spite of increasing wastage,
the total number employed in the munitions industries has continued to rise, though
not at such a rapid rate as before.
War Production Plans and Progress
But the real test is the effect on production, and I am glad to be able to report
that our total output of munitions, taking naval, air and army supplies together,
in the second quarter of 1943 showed an increase of 25 per cent over the same
quarter of 1942. This increase is the more remarkable, since the second quarter
of last year was a particularly good one. In aircraft alone the increase in structural
weight in the second quarter of 1943 compared with a year ago was no less than
44 per cent. Having regard to the changes in various parts of the program, these
results are some measure of the success which has been achieved in securing that
further increase in our total production to which I referred in January. A particu-
larly satisfactory feature is that our actual production during the first six months of
the year has equalled the planned production.
This has meant a great deal of hard work and careful planning and all the
time we have been building up experience for dealing with the further and more
extensive changes still to come. The procedure has been this. As soon as it has
been decided that any particular line of production is to be reduced, a survey has
been made of the various firms making the store in question and detailed decisions
taken as to the distribution of the cut over these firms, after examining the labor
demands in the various districts and the possibility of re-using various firms for
So far it has been largely possible to plan the changes so that the heaviest cuts
have fallen on those districts where there were already large unsatisfied demands
for additional labor. In this way the labor released from work for army supplies
has, in nearly every case, been rapidly re-absorbed on aircraft or naval work. Only
121/2 per cent of the cuts have fallen in the less heavily loaded Regions of
Scotland, Wales and Northern England, whilst the heaviest cuts have been imposed
in the congested labor areas like the North Western, Midlands and London
Once the cuts on individual firms have been decided, action has been taken in
each Region to facilitate the transfer to other work of labor released by the cuts
and to discover the sub-contracting capacity affected by the changes with a view to
arranging where possible for its re-use on suitable work.
I recently had a special survey made in each Region to ascertain the way in
which the changes were actually working out and the reports are on the whole very
reassuring, both as to the absence of any serious pockets of unemployment and as
to the spirit with which the inconveniences and disturbances, incidental to these
changes, have been accepted both by managements and workers. ...
Plans for Rest of 1943
The problem to-day is even more difficult than that which faced Mr. Bevin and
myself in January. A policy of reductions in some parts of our production programs
is essential if we are to secure the extra labor required for the still expanding parts
of the program.
But apart from the stringency of manpower, strategy also demands a continu-
ance of the policy of production changes. Now that we have not only secured the
strategical initiative but have also shown that we can exploit it, it becomes more
necessary than ever to stop or reduce production of weapons and equipment which
have either become obsolete or were particularly needed for desert warfare or of
which we have built up abundant supplies. It is only by this means that we can
concentrate our productive energies and resources upon those weapons of the most
modern type, which battle experience has shown to possess the maximum offensive
Foremost amongst such weapons is, of course, aircraft. Unlike the Army, where
we have in many classes of munitions been able to build up the capital equipment
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so that there are now abundant stocks not only here at home but also in what I
have called the "pipe-lines" which supply the various theatres of war overseas,
aircraft is a wasting asset with a very high obsolescence rate. This is, of course,
due not only to the actual losses sustained by our Air Force in active operations
but also to the constant need to maintain superiority of performance. For these
reasons it is true of aircraft (in a way it is not true of certain military equipment)
that the weight of our offensive in the air is directly related to the current output
of aircraft. Some of you will have seen the figures which were recently published
showing the vast increase in the weight of bombs which the R.A.F. have dropped
on Germany since 1940. This increase could never have been possible if there had
not been a corresponding expansion in output from the factories. Further increases
in the weight of our aerial offensive will therefore be possible only to the extent
that our production can also be stepped up.
As I have already said, the increase in aircraft production in the second quarter
of 1943 compared with a year ago was, in terms of structural weight, no less than
44 per cent, but for the reasons which I have just mentioned we are now planning
a yet further expansion in aircraft production in the next twelve months.
We are also planning further increases in certain types of naval vessel and the
numerous scientific instruments and other devices used in war at sea. Then we have
also to plan for a greater production of radio equipment. When I tell you that
some of our Lancaster bombers now carry twelve radio sets, you will appreciate
how great is the demand for radio. The Navy and Army also use radio to an
increasing extent, and the obsolesence rate of radio, as of aircraft, is a factor which
makes it constantly necessary to be producing new types. We started the war well
ahead of the enemy in this highly technical field but it is only by intensive develop-
ment that we have maintained our lead. The problem throughout is a qualitative
as well as a quantitative one.
The changes in program must, therefore, not only be continued but be accel-
erated. Some of the reductions will have to be in classes of equipment not hitherto
affected by the cuts, others in classes of munitions which have previously been
reduced. But overall the plans provide for still further increases in total production
and we must see to it that these higher targets are achieved if we are not to let the
Forces down. Failure now means prolonging the war.
Effects of Further Program Changes
As I have already mentioned, it has so far been largely possible to plan the
program changes so that the main cuts have fallen in districts where there were
already large unsatisfied demands for additional labor. In this way the labor
released from work on army supplies has, in the great majority of cases, been
immediately absorbed on other work, mainly on the aircraft side. This policy
will be continued but as the process of adjustment proceeds freedom of choice as
to placing of the cuts will be increasingly limited and it will be more than ever
difficult to secure a local balance between cuts and expansions.
The main objective is to obtain the additional labor for the expanding Ministry
of Aircraft Production program. There are also certain Admiralty and Ministry
of Supply orders of high priority and certain common services, which are mainly
provided by the Ministry of Supply but which are essential to M.A.P. as to other
production programs. But as M.A.P. requirements represent our major problems
I will, for the sake of simplicity, refer only to transfers from Ministry of Supply
factories to M.A.P. factories.
War Production Plans and Progress
The policy which we propose to pursue is as follows:-
1. We shall continue to arrange contractions in the Ministry of Supply program
so far as possible in localities where the labor released is required for M.A.P.
2. Wherever practicable we shall allocate M.A.P. work to Ministry of Supply
firms where reductions of load are to take effect, thus retaining the advantage
of the going concern;
3. Where it is not possible to place M.A.P. work in a Ministry of Supply firm
suffering a cut, we shall have to transfer the workers released to other factories,
but in doing so we shall try to transfer them in groups or teams, wherever the
character of the demand for their services and the nature of the work makes it
practicable to do so.
The Ministry of Supply and M.A.P. are each appointing specially qualified
senior officers to co-ordinate such transfers of capacity and to watch progress.
These officers will keep in the closest touch with the Regional Organization, who
will be given additional responsibilities for making such local adjustments as may
be required to ensure that capacity and labor freed by reductions of program in
army equipment are wherever possible re-employed with the minimum disturbance
both to workpeople and management.
The policy, in short, will be to take the work to the worker wherever possible,
but I must emphasize that there are practical limitations to the carrying out of this
policy. The expanding part of the program frequently involves the use of special-
ized types of plant, which cannot be found in any of the factories released from
Ministry of Supply work. The increased requirements for light alloy sheets, extru-
sions and forgings, or for radio valves, for instance, cannot possibly be met from
Ministry of Supply factories which have been making shells, fuses or gun barrels.
Transfers of labor are the only possible way of "manning up" the factories making
these specialized types of aircraft requirements. But what can-and will-be done
is to ensure so far as possible that those transfers are in the same neighborhood.
Conversely, Ministry of Supply factories which have been equipped with
specialized plant for making such things as explosives, cannot be adapted to the
production of aircraft frames, aerial engines or radios. In these cases also it will
be impossible to replace Ministry of Supply orders by M.A.P. orders, and it will
be necessary for the labor to be transferred.
It will, nevertheless, be our constant endeavor to ensure that, wherever possible,
the work is taken to the worker, though difficulties which I have just described,
make it impossible to apply this policy universally. . .
The position, therefore, is this. We plan a still further increase in our total
war production and particularly in our aircraft program. We shall therefore
employ more people in total. On the other hand, the continued switch from army
to aircraft production makes it almost inevitable that there will from time to time
be small numbers of workers unemployed or not fully occupied for short periods.
Such a situation, at a time of extreme labor stringency, is extremely difficult for
those affected to understand and it is for this reason that I ask for the co-operation
and help of all concerned in industry. The numbers who will be thus affected are
insignificant in relation to the total numbers employed in the munitions industries,
and I am hopeful that the policy which we have laid down for dealing with these
changes will ensure that the numbers affected are limited to the practicable mini-
mum. It will be my earnest endeavor to see that this is so.
The combined output of the United Nations is now three times that of the
Axis and will be four times that of the Axis in 1944. We need this vast superiority
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of armament if we are to carry our offensive to a successful conclusion. But this
superiority would in itself mean little, unless the weapons and equipment we were
producing were of the first quality and of the right types. It is to retain our
superiority in quality as well as in quantity that these production changes are
essential. The changes are not confined to this country. Both in the United States
and in the Dominions a similar process of changing programs is being under-
taken at this very time.
FIELD MARSHAL VISCOUNT WAVELL
Viceroy-Designate of India
Pilgrims Luncheon, September 16, 1943
You will not expect me to say much at the present moment on Indian policy.
I can only show you some of the contents which are packed in my mental handbag
for India, that small handbag in which the experienced traveller places his most-
The first article is a real love for India and sympathy for the Indian people.
I owe India a debt for three very pleasant and entirely irresponsible years as a
small child, five most cheerful and not very responsible years as a young subaltern,
and two most interesting but almost too responsible years as Commander-in-Chief.
As a soldier I owe much of my success to the Indian Army, of which I com-
manded a small detachment in a Frontier expedition as a subaltern; which formed
the greater proportion of the corps to which I was staff officer in Allenby's final
victory; and which gave me such support in the Middle East and elsewhere in this
war. The memory of those debts to India and a desire to repay them are perhaps
no bad equipment to take to India.
Secondly, I may perhaps claim some useful previous experience of dealing with
problems in government and administration in Eastern countries, in Syria during
the last war, in Egypt after the last war, and in Palestine and other countries since
Two Great Men
I have with me in my handbag the memory and example of two great men
whom I have served in the East. The first was Lord Allenby, whose work in Egypt
has never received proper recognition from his countrymen, but is fully recognized
in Egypt by thinking Egyptians.
The second is the present Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, who also has not yet
received full recognition of his work during the seven and a half trying and
momentous years he has been in India.
Having worked with him in the Executive Council for two years, and having
seen him frequently on all major military questions, I can testify to the wisdom
and strength which made him a pillar against which one could lean in time of
stress. Few men can ever have carried so great a burden of responsibility so long
and so gallantly.
The Task in India
Another important article in my handbag is a knowledge that all classes and
sections of opinion in this country are firmly united in the desire to give every
possible assistance to India in her aspirations to full freedom. Finally, a compara-
tively small but perhaps not unimportant item in the handbag is a debt of a differ-
ent kind which I owe to the Japanese, a debt of hatred for a cruel, cold and treach-
Three Main Problems
The three main problems which I shall find facing me when I arrive in India
are, as you will realize:
First, the need to carry the war with Japan to a decisive and speedy victory;
Secondly, to deal with the day-to-day problems of government, economic and
social, which are so vital to India. It is an alarming thought, when one considers
the problems of India, to realize that every month, at the present rate of increase
of the population, there are an additional 300,000 to 400,000 people to be fed,
educated and cared for.
Thirdly, there is the political advancement of India, which to many people
appears the most important problem of all. I can say no more on this than that I
fully realize the great weight of opinion both here and in India in favor of loosen-
ing as early as possible the present deadlock, and also the difficulty of doing so.
You will say there is little enough in my handbag, and nothing very definite.
I can only reply that one must travel light in war and hope to live mainly on what
one finds in the country.
If you will bear with me a little, I should like here to digress and to speak,
not as a soldier, or as Viceroy-elect, but as an ordinary member of the English-
speaking peoples whom this society represents, and to put before you a few thoughts
which are probably crude but which are near to my heart.
We are approaching the end of the struggle with Hitler; we are only at the
beginning of the struggle to save civilization.
I have put off my uniform to face a greater test than ever before. We shall,
many of us, soon I hope, be taking off uniforms, but we must not cease fighting or
let the sword sleep in our hand. The future of the world is going to depend on
the efforts made and the wisdom shown by the two great nations whom this society
Cause of Ills
The original meaning of pilgrim is a wanderer, a searcher abroad after better
things. Our two nations were founded by wanderers and have been great wanderers
all over the earth.
It seems to me that one cause of the ills from which we now suffer is that in
recent years we have ceased to be wanderers, we have become too set and content,
and we have lost the pilgrim spirit. We have been guided too much by two terrible
slogans, "Safety first" and "Business as usual"; no mottoes could be more calculated
to destroy the spirit or life of a people.
The years between the two great wars are a period which I think both our
nations will want to forget, a period when mind and body grew slack; when
courage and toughness seemed to be rated at lower value than of old; when clever-
ness was reckoned of more account than character; when leadership was gained
by caution rather than by daring; and when comfort and personal advantage were
being preferred to duty.
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As an American writer has put it, "War had become inevitable not merely
because of the evil in one man's heart but because of the slackness in all men's
lives." If we can make our motto Bunyan's, that "No discouragement shall make
us once relent Our first avowed intent, To be a pilgrim," then indeed a greater
Pilgrim's Progress than ever before is open to us after this war.
It seems to me that we have perhaps already made the first great step; the
establishment of Lease-Lend is the first attempt on a great scale for very many
years to put principles and men's lives first and money second.
We have great leaders, our nations have always been able to produce great
leaders in war, such as Pitt, Lloyd George, the present Prime Minister in this
country, Washington, Lincoln and the President in America.
But leadership in war is easier than in peace; discipline and self-sacrifice are
then on a higher level. It is too often forgotten that civilization is founded on
discipline and not merely on material progress.
It has always seemed to me a curious fact that money is forthcoming in any
quantity for a war, but that no nation has ever yet produced the money on the same
scale to fight the evils of peace-poverty, lack of education, unemployment, ill-
When we are prepared to spend our money and our efforts against them as
freely and with the same spirit as against Hitler, and when we pay our schoolmasters
at a much higher rate, and our lawyers perhaps at a somewhat lower rate, we shall
really be making progress. In the country to which I go these evils of poverty,
lack of education and disease have to be met on possibly a greater scale than
There is one other matter which I should like to mention as in some way
symbolic to my mind of the present state of civilization, the decline of poetry in
the esteem of the general public.
I do not mean merely the works of great poets which are published in books,
but the ballads and songs of the people. There seems to me to be a dearth of both
quantity and quality in these today. ...
Task in India
To return to India. I have no illusions as to the difficulties and dangers of my
task, but I have also a vision of the great possibilities in front of India if she can
only be induced to take the right road. Our hope is that she may become a strong,
prosperous and happy land; if we can set her steps firmly on that road we shall
have completed a great task.
I lately found a quotation from the prophet Ezekiel which seems to fit my
position: "Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters"; I hope that the
conclusion of that phrase may not prove true: "The East wind has broken thee in
the midst of the waters."
In conclusion I would like to quote you the last sentence of an order issued
to his troops by Brig. Wingate when he led them on a hazardous enterprise into
Burma not long ago: "Finally, knowing the vanity of man's effort and the con-
fusion of his purpose, let us pray that God may accept our services and direct our
endeavors, so that when we have done all we shall see the fruit of our labors and
Industry and Credits After the War
RT. HON. OLIVER LYTTELTON
Minister of Production
Chamber of Commerce Association, August 18, 1943
It is really intolerable to think that what is so obviously for the good of man-
kind in peace, can only be brought about in war, and if in the cause of co-operation
in war we are both willing to set on one side many of our seemingly immediate
national interests, I see no reason why we should not continue to do so in peace,
although we have the difficult obstacle to overcome of speaking the same language.
I really believe this to be a serious obstacle, and as the English-speaking peoples
generally speak other people's languages very imperfectly, they are always willing
to make allowances for those who do not speak English, but very few allowances
for those who do.
"The Heart of Postwar Trade"
I would like to touch upon one point which in my opinion will lie very near
the heart of postwar trade. I believe that amongst the contributions which this
country made to the peace of the world, its actions as the greatest creditor nation
before 1914 will rank high. I think that our forefathers in this country had a
clear idea that the accumulation of foreign balances could not be permitted to go
on indefinitely and they took considerable trouble to rid themselves of their favor-
able balance of trade, which was expressed year by year in such accumulations.
They did this by lending, by permitting free imports into the country, and in many
other ways they pursued a policy of not trying to make everything which they
needed themselves. It has been very noticeable during the war that many light
industries and indeed others, can be readily established in these Islands and carried
on by the very highly skilled workpeople that we have, at a profit. Many of these
industries were not established before the last war because our traditional policy
had always been that of creditors and importers and, during the time, which I
hope will not be long, when we have an unfavorable international balance of
payments, certain changes on the face of that traditional policy must be made.
I say with great respect that the greatest contribution which the United States
of America can make to our postwar economic problems is to remind herself that in
little over twenty years she has become by far the greatest creditor nation in the
world. After the war when our two nations are endeavoring to build up and
expand the volume of international trade, this will only be possible if the creditor
nations-and I hope we may one day take our place amongst them-are prepared
to lend to undeveloped countries and are prepared to permit certain imports to
come freely into their country to provide the service of the debts which are created,
and to keep the whole international machine in equilibrium.
The next point which I wish to turn to, and which follows naturally, is the
change in our own international balance of payments brought about by the war,
we are devoting sixty-five per cent of our manpower directly to the war, I think
a higher proportion than has ever been attained by any country in history. One
of the results of this has been to reduce our civil exports far below their previous
level. We have sold out a large part of our foreign investments and we have also
become heavily indebted-on short term-and that almost entirely to the United
Nations. This indebtedness has grown out of war needs and war facts; it has been
our business to finance a large slice of the war and we have done this first by using
all we have got, and then by borrowing, on our own credit, from the countries
we were helping to defend.
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Now, of course, we shall want to work off this indebtedness steadily, for the
sake of our creditors, of our own credit, and I may say plainly, for the sake of
the help we must be able to give after the war to the re-settlement of the world.
We are not frightened of all this. Indeed, there is nothing that chance or cir-
cumstance can do again that will dismay us, for not so long ago we looked
ultimate things in the face and did not flinch. But we do need some understand-
ing of what we have to do and of the ways we shall have to do it.
It is thus, I fear, necessary for the life of this country, and essential to the full
employment policy which we are determined to pursue, to increase our exports
in the postwar period considerably above what they were in 1938. If we can, per-
haps, apply some of these principles which have been developed during the war
to the pursuit of this policy in co-operation with the United States, I am sure
that a great stride will have been made and one of the causes of misunderstanding
will have been removed. I hope that in looking at these matters the United States
may continue to feel that this Island has a part to'play in protecting American
civilization from attack as well as protecting its own, and that we have more than
once acted as an outpost in keeping war away from the American continent.
RT. HON. C. R. ATTLEE
Deputy Prime Minister
Carmarthen, September 3, 1943
We are meeting on the fourth anniversary of the outbreak of the war. I am
certain that the first feeling of every one of us to-day should be one of deep
thankfulness that in the mercy of God we have been brought thus far in safety
through such great perils.. In September, 1939, we knew we were encountering
a great danger; we were meeting a powerful and ruthless enemy that had been
preparing for war and for nothing but war year after year, while we and our
allies were striving for peace.
We knew that time would be needed before the forces of democracy could be
gathered together, and we hoped that that time would be afforded. We knew at
that time the danger, but did not know then its extent.
Three years ago we stood in mortal terror. Poland had been destroyed, Den-
mark, Norway and the Low Countries had been overrun, France had fallen. The
whole of Europe west of Russia was under the domination of Hitler. Mussolini
had just brought Italy in on what he thought was the winning side. Our small
Army had with difficulty escaped from Dunkirk. The Battle of Britain had begun,
and its issue was hidden from us.
Those of us who were in the War Cabinet knew more fully than the rest of
the people our weakness and the extent of the danger to our country. We stood
alone, but who were we? Forty-four millions of the United Kingdom and North-
ern Ireland? No-the four hundred millions of the British Commonwealth and
Empire. For when the challenge came to the world to choose between freedom
and tyranny, between democracy and autocracy, between the principles of western
civilization derived from the heritage of Greece, Rome and Palestine, between
right and wrong, with one exception only, the whole British Commonwealth and
Empire stood to arms united and resolved.
The Unity of the Commonwealth
Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, great nations free and
equal partners with ourselves in the British Commonwealth, of their own free
wills declared war against Nazi Germany, while the other units of the Empire,
all of them in various stages moving forward along the same road to self-govern-
ment trodden by the Dominions, were no less forward in the common cause.
I well remember how in those days we were cheered by the arrival of Canadian
and Australian troops, and how in Africa troops from South Africa and India and
from Australia and New Zealand, yes and from African Colonies as well, rallied
against the new menace which threatened us when Italy entered the war.
I recall, too, to-day very vividly our feelings when Japan entered the war
by her felon attack on the United States, the Dutch and ourselves. I remember
the mixed feelings which we had then. The satisfaction that the great forces of
the United States were now being brought into play on the side of the democra-
cies and our knowledge that inevitably we were bound to suffer grave losses in
the Far East.
I recall our anxieties for our kinsmen in Australia and New Zealand whose
forces were engaged in the battles in the Middle East. It is a different picture
to-day. The Japanese onrush has been halted. The wave of their attack is ebbing.
In due course it will return whence it came.
But it is well to recall to-day the imminent danger in which Australia and
New Zealand stood then and how well they met this threat which, for the first
time in their history, menaced their own home lands.
I think this experience of a common danger has served to knit even closer
the ties which bind us to our Dominions in the Pacific area. Let me also say here
that I have abundant evidence of the way in which the inhabitants of the islands
of Oceania have stood firm and rendered splendid service against the Japanese
I heard only the other day of how two schoolboys from the Solomon Islands,
who had been evacuated with their school when the Japanese attacked, volunteered
for service with the American forces, how they served as guides in the reconquest
of Guadalcanal, and how, after a successful campaign, they returned again to school
as if they had done nothing worthy of note.
I sometimes hear depreciation of our rule, but let us not overlook the fact
that faith in our rule and in British justice has been exemplified by many gallant
actions by our fellow subjects of many different races.
It is a different picture to-day. Africa has been cleared of our enemies. Musso-
lini has fallen and the Italians have little stomach for the fight. Everywhere the
Germans are on the defensive. Our mighty ally, Russia, continues to strike heavy
blows, while the air war grows more intense and everywhere the forces of the
United Nations take the offensive.
The war is not yet won and this is no time for any relaxation in our efforts.
We do not know what surprises the incalculable chances of war may yet hold for
us, but we face the future to-day with unity and confidence.
Disunity the Cause of Weakness
It is natural, therefore, this evening that I should wish to say something to
you about the British Commonwealth and Empire-this remarkable political ex-
periment which has shown such strength when subjected to the test of war-for
I believe that by studying the British Commonwealth and Empire we may learn
lessons valuable for the future of mankind.
British Speeches of the Day
If you study the methods by which Hitler has brought under his domination
the greater part of Europe, you will find that he has always employed both policy
and violence. His policy has always been to create or foment disunity in the
nations which he wished to attack. The fundamental cause of the weakness of
Europe in face of the Nazi attack was due to this fatal disunity.
In some countries it was the disunity between racial elements, minorities dis-
trusted majorities and majorities were not willing to concede their just rights to
minorities. In others it was disunity between classes, but the result was the same
in every case-disunity was the prelude to destruction. And to take a wider
sweep, it was the failure of the nations which defeated the German menace in 1918
to effect a real unity of all peace-loving peoples which allowed the ugly spectre
of German aggression to raise its head again.
In contrast to this stands Hitler's failure to create disunity within the British
Commonwealth and Empire. Here in this country, although our political divisions
are deep, in time of need we were able to transcend them in the interests of the
whole community. Throughout the British Commonwealth and Empire there are
immense diversities of race, color, creed and degrees of civilization, yet the links
that unite all together, though often intangible, proved strong as steel in the
day of trial.
The Unity of the Empire
Why was this? I think because, despite many shortcomings and failures to
implement fully the ideals which we hold, the British Commonwealth and Empire
have stood for freedom and justice, and that we have learnt through long cen-
turies the lesson of how to live together without attempting to exact regimented
We had to learn that lesson first of all in this Island and it took many years of
strife and bloodshed before we reached a position in which English and Welsh
and Scots were able to unite while retaining each of them their own particular
I know there are still groups of extreme nationalists in Wales and in Scotland
who agitate for greater privileges for the smaller nations in this Island. I have
even known at times Englishmen who complained under a series of Prime Min-
isters drawn from Scotland and Wales that we ought to have some home rule for
England. But broadly speaking, in this Island, we allow full play for national
characteristics, which, by their very differences, enrich the content of the whole.
It may well be that these lessons in mutual forbearance have helped our people
when they went overseas to build up communities imbued with a spirit of tolerance.
If you review the British Commonwealth and Empire you will find that progress
toward complete self-government within it is dependent on either the homogeneity
of the population, as in Australia, or in the ability of the different races to live
together without much friction, as in Canada, and that the greatest obstacle to
full self-government is found, not in the unwillingness of Great Britain to part
with the right of deciding other peoples' affairs, but in the inability of communities
to settle their own differences.
India is perhaps the outstanding example. Nothing stands in the way of the
attainment of complete self-government by the Indian peoples save the rooted
mutual distrust of the different communities. You will find the same problem
exemplified in other parts of the Empire, such as Ceylon and in the Mandated
Territory of Palestine. You will find it also in many parts of the Empire where
communities with widely different standards of life are living in the same territory.
The Unity of the Commonwealth 41
Some of these difficulties are very intractable. Others are in the process of
being removed, but in fact these difficulties cannot be got over by clever consti-
tutional devices, for their solution depends on the spirit in which institutions
We should make a great mistake if we regarded the British Empire and Com-
monwealth as something static. On the contrary its whole history shows a process
of development. At first this was largely unconscious. The Empire grew by a
series of unplanned events. There was no policy directed towards the building
up of this great association of peoples nor was there any clear idea of the relations
of one part to another.
It is really only during the last half century that people have begun to think
out the relationships between the various constituent parts to Britain and to each
other. The process by which the Dominions came to reach a position of equality
with Great Britain came about gradually. The Statute of Westminster which de-
fined the relationship only put the seal on what had already been done.
We must not assume that the way in which we work out that relationship is
necessarily final. It may be as time goes on that we shall find that we need more
,elaborate machinery for getting that unity of action which has been so strikingly
in evidence during the war.
It may well be that the tremendous advances in air travel that we are now
seeing may lead to developments in co-operation which we cannot now foresee.
But I can assure you that we have already found in this war what a great advan-
tage it is to be able to have visits from statesmen, officials and service chiefs from
the Dominions to this country and from Britain to the Dominions.
There is certainly not enough knowledge either among our own people or
among our friends and allies of the British Empire. People are inclined to draw
a hard and fast line between the Dominions and the rest of the Empire and think
of one category as completely self-governing and the other as wholly governed
There is as a matter of fact a very wide range of difference between our various
colonies and dependencies. In the West Indies for instance there are colonies
such as the Barbadoes and Bermuda that have had a degree of self-government
for over 250 years.
It is true that the self-government is not complete and that the franchise is
restricted, but it is nevertheless very far removed from complete government by
Whitehall. In our African Colonies there is a very large amount of indirect rule
by native chiefs and through native democratic assemblies.
In Ceylon where you have again the difficulty of minority communities there
is a special form of self-government which may be regarded as an experiment,
for it has features which distinguish it sharply from our own parliamentary system,
although I have known British parliamentarians advocate a somewhat similar sys-
tem for this country as an improvement.
In India in the provinces you have parliaments and ministries on the British
model which deal with more than ninety per cent of all those things that concern
the ordinary citizen. Southern Rhodesia is not technically a Dominion because
certain powers designed for the protection of the interests of the African native
are reserved to the British Government but in all other respects, except in the
field of foreign relations, there is complete self-government. There are also in
the Empire instances of protected States in which the native ruler governs, subject
to a certain amount of direction.
I have given you a few instances out of many. The point that I should like you
to note is this that there is no one sealed pattern of democracy. Institutions have
British Speeches of the Day
to be adapted to the genius of the people who have to use them and to the condi-
tions of particular countries. When you look at any particular country it is well
to ask not how free are these people compared with those in some distant country,
but in which direction are they moving. Are they moving towards grea-er free-
dom or less? How fast are they moving? How long have they been on the road?
How near scratch were they when they became members of the British Empire?
When you look at the recurring wars in Europe, in the Far East and even
occasionally in South America, you will acknowledge that it is no slight thing
that over nearly a quarter of the world's surface there is a political organization
that ensures internal peace.
All parties in this country are committed to the policy of the steady increase
of self-government within the Empire but all thoughtful people recognize that
the pace of this advance must vary with the conditions in different countries. We
have to be certain that under color of giving self-government we are not handing
over those who trust us to be exploited by sectional interests.
Meanwhile it is worth remembering that there are in the House of Commons
men and women who are always ready to question the Government if anything
which looks like injustice or misgovernment is brought to their notice. A German
may think he is a superman and despise the Negro in a British colony, but the
Negro is the freer citizen. If the German is oppressed by the Gauleiter there'is
no one to raise a voice on his behalf but if the African feels that he is unjustly
treated he may be sure that a letter to an M.P. will bring his case before the
House of Commons.
The Road to Democracy
We have, therefore, this great responsibility as a nation that we have to guide
a whole company of peoples on the road to democracy. It is our duty to see that
the freedom which we have won for ourselves is extended throughout the Empire.
But political freedom is not enough. We have learned that men may be politically
free but economically in chains.
We have long ago given up the idea that we should enrich ourselves at the
expense of our overseas possessions, but we have to do more than this. We have
to pursue a positive policy of raising the standard of life throughout the British
Empire. In many races which are classed as backward there are great potentialities.
We must not rest content with leaving things as they are, we must endeavor
to bring to all the peoples within the Empire the economic advantages which
science now makes possible. We must assist our fellow subjects to progress in the
scientific development of the lands in which they dwell. The white races have
not a monopoly of industrial ability. It is certain that in Africa as in India we
shall find industries growing up. At one time we might have feared that these
would compete with our own industries. We must realize that an increasing
standard of life all over the world would mean an increased demand for the com-
modities which we can produce.
It may be that in our colonies goods which we formerly produced will now
be made there, but this will not ultimately be to our loss, for it is part of the
process which has been going on for many years whereby the older industrial
countries, such as our own, turn from the production of simpler commodities to
the production of more advanced.
On the grounds of self interest alone we must desire a levelling up of living
conditions all over the world, but there is more than this to be considered. Quite
naturally the yellow, brown and black races will increasingly ask why they should
The Story of the Mediterranean Fleet
be permanently kept at a lower standard of life than the white. We who have
fellow citizens of so many different races must be concerned to remove inequalities
which may lead to strife.
We see to-day two rival creeds, the Nazi creed which asserts that the Germans
are the master folk who should enjoy the good things of the world while other
races should be kept down for their benefit, and the democratic creed which rejects
this conception and proclaims the value of every individual human soul whatever
his color. I believe that this democratic view of society is derived from the prin-
ciples of Christianity and that the creed of the Nazis is essentially the creed of
anti-Christ. I hold, therefore, that in this war we are fighting the battle of good
against evil, and that in proclaiming our faith in democracy we are living up to
the principles of the founder of Christianity.
But remember that democracy is not an easy system. It may be destroyed from
within as well as from without. It is not a method of Government but an attitude
towards life. It demands not just acquiescence but a constant active striving.
This is what I would impress on you to-night that the battle for the things
of the spirit will not end with the defeat of Germany or of Japan. It must be
fought all the time. We are engaged on a great adventure, a pilgrimage in which
there are moments of relaxation but only moments. For if we cease to go forward
we go back. I know how heavily the strain of war presses upon all of us and how
great is the temptation to look forward to a time when we can relax, but I warn
you that there is the danger. Unless we carry into the days of peace the high spirit
of adventure and sacrifice which-has been displayed in war, we shall lose what
we have won, the work will have to be done again and we shall have betrayed
those who have died for us.
Beware of complacency, beware of seeking just for security, beware of setting
before yourselves a low and materialist ideal. Civilization has nearly in these
days suffered shipwreck, not because of the power of its enemies, but because of
the slackness of its defenders.
Let us never again take safety first for our watchword, but let us have faith
that victory is to those who are prepared to take risks and that, to achieve the
victory of man's spirit over the dangers that beset it, we need courage and faith
to dare and dare and dare again.
RT. HON. A. V. ALEXANDER
First Lord of the Admiralty
Broadcast, September 16, 1943
The surrender of the Italian Fleet is one of the turning points in the war at
sea. I propose briefly to review the naval campaign in the Mediterranean which
has just concluded.
The Mediterranean Naval Campaign
In September, 1939, the British and French Fleets together were so much
superior to the German that there was no fear of our losing command of the seas,
though it was expected that German U-boats and commerce raiders would be very
troublesome. In June, 1940, the position changed, almost overnight. The French
British Speeches of the Day
Fleet went out and the Italian came in. Our vital Middle East position seemed
to be laid bare to the enemy, for at a time when we hourly expected invasion it
was difficult to spare ships for the Mediterranean, and we had to accept in that
sea a striking numerical inferiority.
Mussolini had available six battleships, two of them very modern, and nineteen
cruisers, together with large numbers of destroyers and submarines, to which we
cold oppose four battleships, one aircraft carrier and seven cruisers. The aero-
dromes all the way from Gibraltar to Egypt were now either actively hostile or
passively unfriendly. The Sicilian Narrows would, we expected, be barred to sur-
face ships by Axis bombers from Sicily and Sardinia. The Mediterranean was
closed and re-inforcements for the Middle East had to go via the Cape of Good
The U-boat war, for which we could spare few escort vessels, was becoming
more intense, and I ask you keep in mind all the time this sombre background
which made re-inforcement of the Mediterranean with destroyers and light craft
so difficult, and threatened to become so dangerous as to require us further to
deplete our inadequate strength there.
Fortunately, we had in the Mediterranean a Commander-in-Chief of great spirit
and resource, who proved fully equal to the enormous responsibility. "Because
of our weakness," said Admiral Cunningham later, "our policy had to be one of
aggressiveness and it paid handsome dividends."
If the Navy was to fulfill its functions of maintaining our lines of communica-
tions with Malta and Greece and destroying those of the enemy, some way must
be found of reducing the Italian Fleet. Many times did Admiral Cunningham
put to sea with the hope of forcing a decisive action, but, whenever contact was
made, the larger Italian Forces, retired, probably with the idea of drawing our
heavy ships within range of shore based aircraft. Consequently, it was decided
to attack them in harbor at Taranto by aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm. On Novem-
ber 11th, 1940, the nineteen Swordfish which took part in that remarkable attack
succeeded in crippling the Italian battle fleet for a considerable period. From
then until the conquest of Greece and Crete by the Germans and the arrival of the
German Air Force in Sicily, the Royal Navy controlled the Eastern Mediterranean,
as the Italians found to their cost off Matapan.
Early in 1941 we suffered heavy losses in the operations off Crete including
severe damage to H.M.S. Formidable, followed by a series of disasters which
threatened our whole position at sea. His Majesty's ships Illustrious and For-
midable were already out of action. H.M.S. Hood was sunk. The Army was
driven back to the borders of Egypt which made it impossible for the Royal Air
Force or the Fleet Air Arm to give shore based fighter cover against German
aircraft operating from Crete over more than a very limited area, and our ships
were constantly bombed whenever they exposed themselves outside that area.
The crisis in our fortunes was reached in November and December, 1941.
On November 14th His Majesty's aircraft carrier Ark Royal was torpedoed and
sunk, on the 20th the cruiser Sydney was sunk, on the 24th the cruiser Dunedin,
on the 25th the battleship Barham. Then came the treacherous attack on Pearl
Harbor which temporarily crippled the American Pacific Fleet, followed almost
immediately by the sinking of His Majesty's ships Prince of Wales and Repulse.
Shortly afterwards the battleships Queen Elizabeth and Valiant were severely
damaged and the cruisers Neptune and Galatea sunk.
The Story of the Mediterranean Fleet
Thus within two months the American battle fleet covering the Pacific had
been crippled, the British battle fleet covering Singapore and the Bay of Bengal
had been sunk, the British battle fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean had been
crippled, and the famous Force H had lost its invaluable aircraft carrier. More-
over as the winter turned to spring the U-boat war reached its peak. Fortunately
the enemy did not know completely our precarious position, and for vital months
we managed to conceal from him the damage to the Queen Elizabeth and Valiant
and the sinking of the Barham.
In the Mediterranean we had three cruisers left, yet our men fought on, work-
Our greatest problem was Malta. That heroic island was holding out valiantly
but supplies were falling and at times could be measured in weeks. The loss of
the airfields from El Alamein to Benghazi meant that little fighter protection could
be given over the convoy routes and every convoy was in extreme danger from
surface and air attack.
A small convoy with ammunition got through to Malta in January, but an
attempt to get another one through in February had to be abandoned.
In March Admiral Vian in command of the Fighting Fifteenth Cruiser Squad-
ron, was sent to make another attempt. He met the Italian Fleet and the Luftwaffe,
and his battle with them is pne of the most brilliant in our naval history.
The enemy came south in two forces, the first of one 8" and three 6" cruisers,
the second of the battleship Littorio, two 8" and three 6" cruisers with attendant
destroyers. Admiral Vian's plan was to lay a smoke screen in front of the convoy,
attacking with torpedoes under its cover if the enemy attempted to break through.
Favored by a strong southeastly wind this plan enabled him to drive off the first
section but whilst he was searching with his cruisers for two of the enemy's
damaged ships, the Littorio, whose presence until then had been unsuspected, bore
down at high speed on the convoy. Without hesitation the destroyers Sikh, Havoc,
Lively and Hero attacked. Although straddled continuously by 15" shells, they
held off the threat to the convoy until the cruisers returned. Then the 14th
Destroyer Flotilla, Kelvin, Kipling, Kingston and Legion, led by Jervis with the
cruisers Euralyus and Cleopatra (Admiral Vian's own ship) in support went in
to attack. The Littorio was hit by a torpedo and by gunfire and a cruiser was
seriously damaged. The Italian forces turned for home but before they got there
the submarine Urge picked off the damaged cruiser. Under ceaseless air attack
and in the teeth of a gale the convoy steamed on. One of the four supply ships
was sunk ten miles south of Malta, and another, the Breconshire, was hit when
almost home. She crawled into a bay to the southward of the Grand Harbor but
was again hit and sank. The other two were bombed in harbor but most of their
cargo was saved.
In June Admiral Vian was again on the Malta run. Two battleships of the
Littorio class, four cruisers and eight destroyers barred his passage. Admiral Vian
took avoiding action while air striking forces from Malta and the Western Desert
attacked. One of our submarines saw a 10,000 ton cruiser, stopped and on fire,
and sank her by torpedo. Other damage was inflicted on the enemy by the air
attacks; one enemy battleship was hit by a torpedo. Despite these successes the
convoy did not get through, for extra steaming had used up so much fuel that
course had to be set for Alexandria. However a convoy had been simultaneously
passed from the western Mediterranean and in the face of incessant attacks by the
enemy air forces some of the ships reached Malta.
The next convoy to Malta was in August, this time from Gibraltar, and was
supported by aircraft carriers. Although H.M.S. Eagle was lost at the beginning
British Speeches of the Day
of the operation the Fleet Air Arm worked with great success and shot down no
less than fifty of the enemy. In the Sicilian Narrows the enemy developed the
very heaviest attacks both by aircraft and by E-boats and our losses were not light,
five ships only reaching Malta. But Malta was saved by the supplies in those ships
which lasted until the victory of El Alamein and the reconquest of Cyrenaica made
it possible to give air support to convoys from the East.
During all this time Malta had to be supplied with aircraft to defend her
against the Luftwaffe and to help to protect the relief convoys. The range of
fighters is limited and they had to be carried in aircraft carriers to within a short
distance of the island. Over 700 aircraft were transported by His Majesty's car-
riers in this way and 111 by a United States carrier.
OffenSive action against Rommel's supply lines was carried on mainly by His
Majesty's submarines and aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm and the R.A.F., though
from time to time cruisers and destroyer forces were made available for night
operations in the Sicilian Narrows. Considerable success was obtained and the
combined sinkings played a vital part in Rommel's destruction. His Majesty's
submarines sank a total of 1,335,000 tons. These results are the more remarkable
because the Mediterranean is perhaps the most difficult area in the world for suc-
cessful submarine operations; forty-one of our submarines were lost. In addition
the Fleet Air Arm operating from carriers, from Malta, and from aerodromes in
the Western Desert accounted for another 410,000 tons. Perhaps the most spec-
tacular action by surface ships was the elimination of an enemy convoy of ten
merchant ships and two destroyers by the cruisers Aurora and Penelope with the
destroyers Lance and Lively.
The advance of the Army from El Alamein and the landing of the Anglo-
American expedition in North Africa completely revolutionized the situation.
Malta was relieved and became an advanced offensive base and from November
onwards our grip on the inland sea has been steadily tightening. No large scale
enemy evacuation from Tunisia was allowed; there was little interference with our
expedition to Sicily and by the capture of Sicily the Italian Fleet was irrevocably
divided, one part at Taranto the other at Spezia. Nevertheless so long as these
battleships and cruisers remained in enemy ports they were a potential menace
to the security of our convoys, and to offensive expeditions, and battleships and
aircraft carrier cover had always to be provided lest they should, perchance, come
This very brief survey reveals how much the nation owes to all the officers and
ships' companies of the Mediterranean Fleet. Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Andrew
Cunningham, by his resolute leadership and skill has gained a notable place in
our great naval history. He was grandly supported by Flag Officers like Sir John
Tovey, Sir James Somerville, Sir Neville Syfret, and Admirals Lyster, Vian, Bur-
rough, Willis, and many others, but above all by the general loyalty and enduring
courage of thousands of officers and men in the ships and in the Naval aircraft,
many of them almost straight from the office, factory and school. His Majesty
The King has voiced the nation's thanks. But the Royal Navy would be the first
to pay its tribute to the magnificent help which it has received from their comrades
in the Merchant Navy, who have reached the highest level of bravery and endur-
ance in all our history, from the gallant pilots and crews of the Royal Air Force,
and the great campaigns of the Desert Army.
Allies Now Hold Balance of Sea-Power
How the scene has changed from 1941! The balance of sea-power has been
entirely altered. Not only is the Italian Fleet out of action but our Naval Forces
are gallantly supported by our American friends. As I speak, they, with us, are
Planning for Food Shortages
supporting our land and air forces in pounding the Germans in Italy. The severity
of the battle there must be a warning that our struggle against the Nazi monster
will be fierce and may be long. There is no possible room for any easing off in
any part of our war effort. The Germans must be completely defeated and as soon
as possible. Every bit of extra national effort at this time will shorten the war
in Europe, bring speedier relief to the gallant armies of Russia, and enable us to
concentrate such strength in the Far East with the U.S.A. forces as will smash
the Japanese terror and bring succor to China. These are huge tasks.
We have come through dreadful periods in a manner which would have been
impossible without the splendid work and production of our people at home.
With the same spirit of devotion we can meet these great tasks with confidence
and with the unmistakable feeling that "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."
RT. HON. LORD WOOLTON
Minister of Food
August 27, 1943
After seeing the harvest, I expressed, a few days ago, a certain optimism
ab6ut our position during the coming winter, for the first care of any Minister of
Food must be to be sure that the bread supplies are available. That optimism has
added to my post-bag: many people have written to me to say that, if the food
position is so good, why can't they have some more. Why am I sitting on stocks?
There's a simple answer to that question. The supply of bread in this country
is unrestricted: that is a thing for which we should be supremely thankful-
thankful not only to our farmers, but to those very gallant men who have imported,
and are still importing, the very large quantities of cereals that we need from
overseas, in order to maintain an unrestricted supply of bread for our people.
But I should be false to my trust if, because, for the time being, our stocks
of wheat are away from the danger point-at which they have been more than
once during this war-I had led the people of this country to assume that all our
troubles were over, and that we could relax our caution before the maih battle
has been fought and won.
While the war lasts, any island which is as densely populated as we are, re-
mains in danger on the food front because, in spite of the magnificent efforts of
the farmers and of all of you who are growing vegetables for your own use, we
still have to depend on other countries for a large part of our food supplies.
But we have passed the time when the danger was so great that we could plan
no further ahead than to keep body and soul together from day to day. We are
now planning for attack and that means that we must build up stocks of food
over and above a safe margin for civilian consumption. We have already had two
experiences of this-the North African campaign and the Sicilian campaign, which
would not have been possible if we had not had sufficient stocks here to release
food for those campaigns. Any stocks of food that I can accumulate must not,
therefore, be used on increasing our rations here. They must be labelled "Food
British Speeches of the Day
for Attack" and be jealously guarded for the great tasks that lie ahead, and for
the time when there are fewer ships to bring the food for which we depend on
We are dependent upon the United States for meat, for milk, and for eggs:
and for those other things which, under Lease-Lend, they have so generously
provided in order to give us a little more variety in a diet that, in my opinion,
remains monotonously dull. We acknowledge with gratitude our debt to that
country, which-even before they entered into the war and became our allies, were
providing us with these goods-and have continued to provide them-without
counting the costs in pounds or in dollars. As the war goes on, we from our side
are reciprocating from our production of war materials.
But I am at least as conscious of the debt that we owe to His Majesty's
Dominions and Colonies. I have experienced nothing so gratifying-and so mov-
ing-as the way in which the peoples of the British Commonwealth have expressed
their urgent desire to make personal sacrifices of food, in order that their kinsmen
at home should be sustained in their endeavor, and in their fortitude.
From Canada we have had wheat-as much as we could carry. The people of
Canada have gone without bacon: in order that we might have it, and, scanty as
is the amount of bacon that the individual in this country has, we have only main-
tained that ration with the greatest difficulty: had it not been for the people of
Canada we should long since have been without it.
The people of the Southern Dominions have been unsparing in their efforts.
I have told you on many occasions how difficult it has been to maintain our very
small ration of one shilling and two pence (28c) worth of meat. That ration is
always in danger; and perhaps I may take this opportunity-if my words should
go as far-of telling the people of Australia and New Zealand of the gratitude
which we, in Great Britain, feel to them for the strenuous efforts that they are
now making to help us to maintain our meat ration. They have many, and great,
calls upon their resources; they are feeding their own troops; they are feeding our
troops; in order to save the long transport involved they are feeding the growing
numbers of the American forces in the Pacific: and still, with all these claims,
they are endeavoring to meet the heavy demands that I have been compelled to
put before them on behalf of the people of this country-not only for meat, but
for butter, and for cheese. I'm afraid that next year, in the case of meat par-
ticularly, we shall be even more dependent on our overseas suppliers than before.
This I know for a certainty-that those countries, inspired as they are with'
a sense of loyalty and affection for the land from which their ancestors came, will
leave nothing undone that is humanly possible to meet our needs, and to give us
the physical strength to continue our vast output of munitions of war, and to
carry us through the struggle that lies ahead of us.
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