14 MARCH 1941, Page 2


SIGNS abound that the war is working up to a new intensity, as was expected with the approach of spring. The latest figures of merchant-shipping sinkings suggest that the new U-boat campaign has opened in earnest, though that will not become clear till there is more than one week's statistics to go by. The British advance in the Italian colonies is being pressed forward with a double purpose : to complete the job, particu- larly in Abyssinia, before the rains begin, and to clear the field sufficiently to release a large part of the Middle East army for possible tasks elsewhere. Germany is throwing herself into the Mediterranean war in earnest, and the barbarism of the Istanbul outrage, in which the British Minister to Sofia was meant to be killed, and women members of his staff actually were, is a damning reminder of the kind of foe we have to deal with. But it is well to be reminded equally, as our correspondent " Strategicus " points out this week, that by no means all the cards are in Hitler's hands. It seems clear that General Franco has flatly refused the request that German aeroplanes should be allowed to fly over, and perhaps refuel in, Spain, as he refused to sanction the passage of German troops some months earlier. At the same time, General Weygand, on returning from a conference with Marshal Petain at Vichy, has declared again that the French Colonial Empire will be defended against all attack. That may refer te Syria as well as North Africa, but that it refers to North Africa primarily is certain. All this points to the Balkans as the scene of impending events of the first importance. Surprises are more than possible there, and not necessarily on the German side.