23 DECEMBER 1960, Page 4

Bases, Past and Present

rr HE Russians have a curious knack of drawing.

attention to past actions which, from their point of view, would be better left in obscurity. The protests about the treatment of the legal Prime Minister' of the Congo inevitably call to mind the fate of Premier Nagy of Hungary; and the latest note about the Polaris base here recalls the U-boat base set up on Soviet soil with Soviet assistance in the Second World War.

Base North lay in an isolated bay on the Murmansk coast; the Nazis were able to move workshops, oil tankers and depot ships to what was then—before the invasion of Norway—an invaluable spot from which to base forays against British maritime life-lines. As things turned out, admittedly, the base barely became operational, because two U-boats sent to make use of it were both sunk on the way; and when Northern Nor- way fell into German hands, it provided superior facilities. Nevertheless, the base was there—set up by Soviet-German agreement.

Soviet-German naval co-operation had one other interesting exploit to its credit: the passing of the commerce raider Komet through the Northern Sea route to operate in the Pacific. The Komet's voyage, which took her in a complete circumnavigation of the Old World, was a re' markable adventure. She did great damage in the hitherto fairly safe waters of the East, evert shelling New Zealand, and eventually returning unharmed 'through the Channel. The supposedly neutral power which made her voyage possible provided her with facilities even exceeding those of a base. If the Soviet Government would nai repudiate such actions, it might be easier to take its present indignation over Holy Loch a little more seriously.