18 OCTOBER 1940, Page 2

The Shelling of Cherbourg

The combined naval and aerial attack on Cherbourg last Thursday night shows that the Navy is capable of dealing for- midable blows even at heavily fortified positions on an enemy- occupied coast. While R.A.F. aeroplanes began an attack in which in three and a half hours they were to drop over a thousand bombs, units of the Navy, directed by air observa- tion, opened a terrific bombardment which silenced the land defences and worked havoc on docks, oil-storage tanks, refineries, railways and aerodromes. It must be remembered that well directed artillery fire at medium range is capable of an accuracy and a concentration such as can rarely be obtained by bombing aeroplanes. It is more likely to put small objects like guns and searchlights out of action while produc- ing equally devastating effects with salvoes on docks or solid buildings. It is more than likely that this attack has crippled Cherbourg as a useful port for some little time. It is an exploit which might well be repeated on the ports that are still alluded to as " invasion ports." The Navy has already proved its usefulness in attacking land defences in Libya, and it would be heartening to hear of blows dealt on the coast of Italy. Meanwhile the destruction of three Italian destroyers by H.M.S. Ajax is encouraging.