25 SEPTEMBER 1942, Page 1


AS the campaigning-season in Russia wears to its close the miracle of the defence of Stalingrad continues. In the street- fighting houses and whole blocks are constantly changing hands. On balance the German penetration may have been carried a little further, but the important development is the launching of a Russian counter-offensive to the north-west. It is described as having met with some initial success. Outstanding success was not to be expected against positions which the Germans have fortified heavily, but if, with the reinforcements which he is bringing from the east of the Volga, Marshal Timoshenko can maintain his slow advance the effect on the whole Stalingrad operation may be decisive, particularly as the enemy is being held, and more than held, to the south-west of the city. Elsewhere on the vast front the Russians are standing firm or pushing the Germans back. The safe arrival of the great majority of the ships in an unusually large convoy, which the Germans heavily attacked on its Arctic voyage, is par- ticularly welcome. No one was likely to attach credence to the original enemy statement that 38 ships out of 45 in the convoy had been sunk, or even to the revised claim that 17 had been destroyed. It is significant that with these claims was coupled the admission that German losses in aircraft had been heavy. Since the Germans have now three airfields available in northern Norway for launching such attacks on convoys, the defence by the escort vessels, none of Which was lost, must have been notable. Now there are indications that the Egyptian campaign may again command attention. The full moon, together with the brilliant and effective attacks on Axis com- munications and supply-bases, and the reinforcements of heavy bombers, which, according to Vichy reports, have been landed at Gibraltar and flying on to Egypt, point to early activity on a substantial scale. Since the last engagement the Eighth Army has Probably been strengthened proportionately more than Rommel's force.