28 JUNE 1940, Page 12


Sta,—We are now living in a beleaguered fortress, against which an opponent flushed with victory on the fields of France is free to con- centrate all his destructive energies. How are these to be countered? The time remaining for answering this question and for making that answer effective is short—so short, indeed, that, not in " years and years," but before the leaves now on the trees have fallen, the issue will probably have been decided.

That a serious attempt at invasion will be made may be taken for granted. Hitherto the mobilisation of our full man-power available for the fighting forces has been very dilatory, and still is so. The reason for this is no doubt the inability of the authorities to equip the new levies, which has been accentuated by the loss of nearly all the equip- ment of the B.E.F. in Flanders. Nevertheless, all men of military age should at once be asked to register and efforts redoubled to pro- vide them with arms and ammunition. The provision of more rifle- ranges all over the country is also a matter deserving of consideration. At the earliest possible moment all military work should be entrusted to soldiers. It is absurd to expect elderly amateurs armed with sport- ing guns to face " parashots " on their landing. The function of the L.D.V. should be simply that of providing local guides for the military and supplying them with such information as they can with regard to an enemy's whereabouts.

All fit men between the ages of 18 and 40 now being called up for military service, it follows that their work should, wherever prac- ticable, be carried on by women and arrangements put in hand imme- diately for the transfer. Elderly men who have retired in recent years, if physically fit, should also be invited to resume their former occupa- tions in some capacity or other.

All travelling by rail or by road which is unnecessary, such as that for holiday-making or pleasure excursions, should be vetoed for the duration of the siege. The petrol allowance for pleasure purposes should be withdrawn and steps taken to ensure that military cars are used exclusively for military duties.

It has just been announced that schools in the London area are to remain in permanent session this summer. This should apply to schools all over the country. The daily working hours of these might, however, be somewhat diminished.

Camps for evacuees, and possibly for refugees as the siege pro- gresses, should be organised where large houses could not be com- mandeered for their accommodation. Experience seems to show that problems of organisation and catering can be solved more easily and economically in this way than by the present system, which has not functioned without producing a good deal of friction.

Up to date a stranger might have visited many parts of the country where what he saw and much conversation he overhead would have made him wonder whether people did realise yet that a life-and-death struggle was in progress. Now that a ruthless enemy is at our gates all this must be changed, and that forthwith.—Yours faithfully,

J. H. SHACKLETON BAILEY. The Vicarage, Sr. Michael's-on-byre, Preston.