3 SEPTEMBER 1937, Page 1


THE situation in the Mediterranean has become charged with alarming possibilities. The torpedo attack on Havock ' on Tuesday night, the torpedo in this case being launched from a submarine, was preceded by the sinking on Monday of the Russian cargo-ship, Timiryazev,' bound from Cardiff to Port Said, by a destroyer which the crew of the sunk vessel state categorically to have been Italian. As to the identity of the Havock's ' aggressor nothing is known definitely, nor well can be unless the depth charges which the British ship immediately dropped are found to have done their work. The belief that the indis- criminate piracy which has been practised in the Mediter- ranean in the past few weeks is in part the work of Italian warships is now so universal that it would be idle to avoid mention of the suspicions that prevail. General Franco's submarines are too few to account for the outrages reported. France is as much interested in the situation as this country, and Turkey demonstrated her own views by the promptitude of the action she took when a foreign submarine was found at work off the Dardanelles last month. There is, therefore, everything to be said for the proposal that the Mediterranean Powers should discuss the whole situation when they meet at Geneva next week. As things are British and French warships in the Mediterranean are under orders to shoot at sight, and in view of what flag their target may prove to bear the gravity of the situation needs small demonstration. But it is essenti- ally a case in which the firmest action is the safest.