Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 09 September 1939
The Curtain Rises
The Die Is Cast.
We are at war with the rulers of the darkness of this world. Hitler has murdered peace, and from this moment the world will know neither rest nor respite until it is rid of Hitlerism and the reign of law has been re-established. In the van of this fight are the forces of Great Britain, France, and Poland, one and indivisible. Behind them lie inexhaustible moral and material forces. Of the issue there can be no doubt, be the struggle long or short. Hitler claims that the German Army is the best and strongest in the world; it is neither, but we do not underrate its power. He is far more likely to underrate ours. Germany, a giant ridden by a fiend and lashed into blind frenzy, will hit hard and the blows will hurt.
The gallant Poles bear the full and first brunt, and in the initial stages their weak strategical position can hardly be made good by their magnificent military qualities. As in the last war the German are striking initially at relatively weak points, though in Poland they will meet with far tougher resistance than they encountered in Northern France in 1914, where the Allies’ flank was turned by the German violation of Belgium. The direct military assistance to be given to Poland at this critical stage is, of course, a matter for the Franco-British High Command, and speculation as to its form and speed is idle. We can be certain, however, that the full strength of the Allied forces will be deployed as quickly and effectively as possible, and that the possible loss of the Corridor or even of the Polish capital will have no vital or permanent effect on the campaign. The Germans know what it is to over-run a Continent and lose a war; they may yet remember, though too late, what it is to match themselves against a race which is said to lose every battle but the last.
For the moment, the business of this nation is to concentrate on its own organisation for defence and supply. The orders and regulations which have poured forth ceaselessly since the declaration of a state of emergency are evidence of the thoroughness with which our civil defences have been planned. The evacuation of the children was a brilliant example. A swift military and naval mobilisation is now being followed by the methodical preparation of our remaining man-power.
This time, hasty improvisations have been largely eliminated, and we have seen deeply into the necessities of the task ahead. We are in good shape and in good heart, thoroughly fit for the fray which was not of our seeking, but must nevertheless be fought to a finish at whatever cost. We enter this war with a full appreciation of the effort and sacrifice it will demand from all of us. The fact that our enemy is for the moment avoiding conflict in the West leaves us with no illusions as to the ordeal which awaits us if we are to play our part to the full.
Meanwhile, for the individual the first necessity is to find out where his duty lies, if he has not already done so, and having chosen or accepted his task, to perform it with all his might. In that way not only will he serve his country in its hour of need, but he will be spiritually equipped and fortified to endure to the end.