27 MARCH 1942, Page 2

Civilians and Invasion

Sir John Anderson's statement about the duties of civilians in the event of invasion supersedes the instructions issued by the Government about a year ago. The emphasis is now shifted from the purely passive role which was then imposed on civilians to the more active part which any spirited population will certainly take when land and home are threatened by an invader. They are still expected, not indeed to " stay put," but to " stand firm" in their districts, and not to move and cause confusion on the toads, which must be kept unimpeded for military traffic. This clearly means that there must be no indiscriminate withdrawal of civilians before an approaching enemy or attempts to move goods and chattels. Civilians have a perfect right to defend them- selves and their homes, and it is their duty to do all they can to hinder the enemy and help their own forces and their neighbours. But, generally speaking, unarmed and untrained men would cause snore hindrance than help if they entered the battle as combatants. There are some useful things they can do—carrying food and ammunition to the troops, digging trenches, taking messages. extinguishing fires, organising labour, and perhaps helping, but only under full authority, in such acts of sabotage as may be necessary to present a " scorched earth " to the invader. The purpose of " invasion committees," which it ought to be com- pulsory to set up in every small town and village, should be to think out the problem in advance and to organise the inhabitants under leaders to whom special duties shall be assigned.