18 OCTOBER 1940, Page 5


Is London, I wonder, taking its air-raids too lightly? That may seem a strange and rather heartless question in the circum- stances, but it arises out of a conversation with an experienced airman, who declared roundly that we ought all of us to take a far more realistic view of the present situation and adapt our lives to it much more resolutely and radically. His argument, briefly, was, that while a reply to the night-bomber would certainly come—and I emphasise the certainty, which is based on solid fact—it has not come yet, and cannot be counted on to come immediately Meanwhile it is of the first importance to keep down casualties. Buildings can be replaced, human lives cannot. Some work is so important that it must go on unchanged and uninterfered with, even though it involves considerable risk to the workers. Subject to that, the principle that it is everyone's first duty to avoid being a casualty should be recognised ; a casualty can make no contribution to the national effort, but simply makes demands on someone else's efforts. People, therefore, who need not stay in London, and other vulnerable centres, should not. People who must work in London, but can sleep outside, should certainly do that. Office hours through the winter should be rearranged, and where possible shortened, to enable staffs to avoid travelling through the black-out. None of this is easy, but little of it is impossible, and all the counsel seems to me thoroughly sound. The Government, I suggest, should give a decided lead from the top.