A SPECTATOR 'S NOTEBOOK
1 T is difficult to single out for special pre-eminence any one I incident more than another in the tremendous final week of the Tunisian campaign ; but what, I think, gives me personally most pleasure is the spectacle of some thousands of Germans, commanded by a general, asking the French for an armistice, being told the only terms were unconditional surrender and capitulating on that basis. Here, at last, revenge for 1940 begins. Strangely enough, it is not, to my mind, among the astonishing narratives of the events of the past three days that the most dramatic story of the African campaign is to be found. More impressive and thrilling than anything else is Alexander Clifford's description in Wednesday's 'Daily Mail of the incredible victories General Wavell won in 1940, when, on paper, he was beaten before a shot was fired. Balbo had 250,000 men in Libya. The Duke of Aosta had 250,000 in Ethiopia. And Wavell? Wavell had " a few thousands of men and a mere handful of guns. He had no tanks worthy of the name of tanks and old Bombay transport-planes as bombers and Gladiator biplanes as fighters." The one hope was that the French in Syria and North Africa would be strong enough to create an effective diversion ; instead of that the news came that France was out of the war. And there could be no reinforcements from home, for the flower of the British Army had been captured in France or escaped without a tank or a gun or lorry from Dunkirk. There was only one thing for Wavell to do—bluff the enemy into thinking he was far stronger than he was. He did it by attacking. He attacked on the Egyptian frontier, he executed one of those flanking movements that Mont- gomery has since math so familiar. He got to Sidi Barrani, he got to Bardia, he got to Tobruk, he got finally to Benghazi. All that ground was lost again, but if Wavell had been driven back to Suez in 1940, as by all the rules he should have been, there might have been no El Alamein, no capture of Libya, no capture of Tripolitania, no crowning victory in Tunisia.
There have been two or three time-tables of the Tunisian cam- paign. There was the pre-landing one ; we are well ahead of that. That was revised rather too optimistically after the initial suc- cess ; we arc a little behind that. There was a more recent Mont- gomery one that seemed audacious in its confidence. That has been kept, with something still in hand. * * * *
Is this really a country liable to be swept by religious passion? The Lord Chancellor evidently thinks -it is. Lord Hemingford having moved in the House of Lords on Tuesday that the remaining religious disabilities in public life—neither a Jew nor a Roman Catholic being eligible for the office of Lord Chancellor—be removed, admitted that a small minority of so-called anti-Papists would be violent in opposition to such a proposal. Lord Simon seized on that. There could not be a time, he declared, when it was less desirable to arouse, these fierce feelings which Lord Hemingford had described as likely to be aroused by such a proposal. A Jew, added Lord Simon, could be appointed Lord Chancellor, and it was by no means clear that a Roman Catholic could not. That being so, I should have thought there was the more reason for a Bill that would put the question beyond doubt. To countenance professed atheists on the Woolsack and exclude every member of one great branch of the Christian Church does small credit to our sense of justice-or of tolerance. Information elicited by my reference last week to the instigatio of letters to the Press by the Society of Individualists indicates tha this is a highly prosperous industry. I have been favoured with copy of the Society's notes on its Press Department. Thus: The Press Department of the Society of Individualists is at you service. Several leading Individualists are regularly writing articles an every week Individualism grows in the favour of the Press. What ca you do? When you read your local newspaper, you are sure to fi a speech, a letter, a sermon or a discussion in the local Council containin• some point which you long to answer. We urge you to write to th newspaper and make your protest on the point in question. If yo feel that your draft of a letter to your local newspaper could be improved, send it with all the details to the Society's Press Department, which will, by return of post, put it - into proper form for a letter to the Editor and return it to you.
There are now more than 8,00o earnest, energetic Individualists. If each one of them will do his (or her) share of Press work, a great wave of protest will surge through the land and all those easy-going, weak- kneed people who meekly say that " Socialism is bound to come " will begin to change their minds.
We therefore urge you to seek out every chance of writing to the Press. The Department will, if you desire, not only draft the original letter, but also draft for your approval replies to any counter- correspondence that your letter may provoke. Why not write a letter now? Write to:—THE PRESS DEPARTMENT, The Society of Individualists, 154, Fleet Street, E.C. 4.
I always wondered how great waves of protest were manufactured. By the same process, I gather, as stage-thunder.
The American Office of War Information has made known an event on which the British Press has been strangely silent. A message dated Superior, Wisconsin, last Sunday, reads: " The Dionne quintuplets sponsored five new cargo-vessels which slipped down the ways of the Walter Butler shipyards here today. . . . Admiral Emery S. Land said ' This is a grand sight out here today—five ships ready to be launched, five such charming young sponsors as the Dionne quintuplets."
That is all very satisfactory and exhilarating. But suppoie a Superior, Wisconsin, shipyard has six ships ready for launching on the same day. Has any Canadian mother made provision for that?
I think I shall have to start a " Sticks for Janus " heading and keep it standing. Two at least have fallen across his wincing back this week. First of all I am rebuked for saying that the Corn- mination Service adopted the Deuteronomic "Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour's landmark," whereas the Service in question changes the Deuteronomic " be " to "is." Hardly, I suggest, a major lapse. On the other point, the use of " data" with a singular verb, I am quite impenitent. I was not unconscious that the word in Latin is plural, but it has come to be regarded as so completely equivalent to "material " that the use of a plural verb seems to me verging on the pedantic.
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One of the B.B.C. clichés that might with advantage be given a long, if not an eternal, rest is the peculiarly silly salutation "Good morning to you if you have just joined us" favoured by a succession of announcers of the 8 a.m. news bulletin. Who "us" is, and why listeners should be said to be joining that enigmatic entity more at 8 than at 9 or to or any other hour I have never divined. Issuing from the lips of one or two of the smoother-voiced announcers it carries the suggestion "If you didn't listen at seven, you slackers.-