20 SEPTEMBER 1940, Page 1


I. HE conclusion to be drawn from the Prime Minister's succinct and sober statement in the House of Commons on Tuesday is that the present phase of the war has not yet reached its climax. Mr. Churchill expects that very much more intense air-fighting will be experienced in future than we have vet seen ; he believes that invasion will still be attempted, in spite of the serious derangement caused by the R.A.F. to the enemy's plans ; and he anticipates hard and critical fighting in Africa. As to the attack on London, some i,600 civilians have been killed and some 6,500 injured by air bombardment in the first half of September. These numbers are, of course, increasing nightly. The wanton assassination of civilians and the wholesale destruction of non-military property is imposing a heavy ordeal on the capital ; but a civilian's life is not more intrinsically valuable than a soldier's, and in the Battle of the Somme. in 1916 British casualties were over 400,000. And distressing though the devastation of some London streets is, it is in no way comparable with the destruction caused in scores of towns and cities in France—for example, Reims—in the last war. When London is in the battle-line that it should suffer battle-line experiences is inevitable. What was most reassuring in Mr. Churchill's speech was his dispassionate examination of the results of the air-battles, and his declaration, based on reasoned argument, that we could look forward to their ultimate outcome with sober confidence. If that verdict Is justified we can believe in the turn of the tide as a reality.