25 OCTOBER 1940, Page 3

Air Raid. Deaths

Close on seven thousand people—actually 6,954—were killed in Great Britain by air raids in September. For October the figure may well be higher, for intensive and indiscriminate raid- ing did not begin till the end of the first week of last month. This month London has so far had only a single night without a raid. The lengthening nights may, indeed, mean a lengthening toll, though steady improvement in defensive measures, both military and civil, may counteract that. The provision of deep shelters wherever possible will obviously keep casualties down. But the very success of the Royal Air Force in frustrating the enemy's daylight operations has driven him to indiscriminate murder under cover of night. Even the R.A.F., addressing itself exclusively to military objectives, must in the course of its attacks inflict considerable damage on civilian persons and property. The Germans, choosing no such specific objectives, inflict much more. We must face the fact that at present there is no complete remedy. Palliatives, of which the most must be made, are more and better shelters, more evacuation and dis- persal, more aeroplanes and more A.A. guns. Progress is being made on all these lines, and it should result in casualties being kept down to something like their present figure, and gradually, it may be hoped, reduced. The element of chance bulks large when bombs are Ecattered broadcast, but daily or weekly fluctuations should not much affect the long-term average. The loss Of life is deplorable and distressing, but we are in the Midst of a great and prolonged battle; and, for battle casualties, seven thousand a month is not a high figure.