30 JANUARY 1942, Page 1


1HE Russians do not advance with the spectacular leaps favoured by the Germans, but their steady, relentless progress justifies the use of a term much used in the last war but more applicable today—that of the " Russian steam-roller." They have been moving massively down from the Valdai hills, cutting the vital railway that supplies Rzhev from the west and threatening the important- lateral railway from Leningrad and Kiev. A glance at the map will show that the only line of retreat for the German forces massed at Rzhev is southwards towards Vyasma, where they are in danger of becoming entangled with the forces retreating from Mojaisk. The whole group of armies which had been nearest to Moscow is in a salient the sides of which are being fiercely squeezed by the advancing Russians. We cannot speak with equal satisfaction of the war in Libya. Mr. Churchill has revealed the fact that our forces operating there were very slender for the great task allotted to them ; but this does not account for the fact that, while preparing their new offensive, they were taken by surprise when Rommel, evidently reinforced, and now strong again in tanks, burst out from his defensive position and hurled them back through Jedabia, Antelat and Msus in the course of a few days. His "leap " was at least 15o miles in length. The slowing down of his progress on Monday and Tuesday appears to have been due rather to the brilliant attacks of the R.A.F. than to the action of our ground forces, but to bring him to a standstill by any means is the first step towards driving him back again. In the Far East, in Malaya the Japanese have landed reinforcements and are pressing our hard-worked troops on and beyond the important lateral road that runs through Kluang. The British-Australian-Indian resist- ance has stiffened, but more reinforcements are badly needed. Fighting continues in Burma. Further landings are reported in the Netherlands East Indies and the Celebes. Against these enemy successes must be set their heavy losses off the Dutch islands.