Sunday wasn't just Fighter Command's day -- Bomber Command was also hard at work, bombing targets in Berlin and western Germany and along the invasion coast, sinking three ships and losing no aircraft. And not just Bomber Command, either: The Times prints a message from the Air Minister to Coastal Command (4):
I have been asked by the War Cabinet to convey to all squadrons of the Coastal Command their admiration of the skill and courage with which they have carried out the vital and arduous but often unspectacular tasks allotted to them, and of the enterprise and success with which in recent days they have struck at the harbours, shipping, and coastal defences of the enemy.
Of course this is buried at the bottom of the page, whereas Churchill's message to Fighter Command gets a spot at the top of the page, with much bigger headlines:
Yesterday eclipses all previous records of the Fighter Command. Aided by squadrons of their Czech and Polish comrades, using only a small proportion of their total strength, and under cloud conditions of some difficulty, they cut to rags and tatters three separate waves of murderous assault upon the civil population of their native land, inflicting a certain loss of 125 bombers and 53 fighters upon the enemy, to say nothing of probables and damaged, while themselves sustaining only a loss of 12 pilots and 25 machines.
These results exceed all expectations and give just and sober confidence in the approaching struggle.
It does seem appropriate that the solid but unspectacular Archie Sinclair should be given the task of commending Coastal Command, while flashy Winston gets to praise Fighter Command.
London was bombed again on Sunday night, from dusk till dawn:
Once more hospitals and churches were struck by high explosive bombs. But there had again during the night been the compensating noise of the protective guns around the capital; once more their thunder often eclipsed the noise of droning bombers and falling bombs. And as they streamed into the City to begin a new working week Londoners were still smiling and ready for whatever might be in store.
The author of this article adds an interesting detail, which might indicate a familiarity with the Italian air raids on Barcelona back in 1938:
At one point bombs dropping from a silent sky and then the noise of aeroplane engines as a machine raced away to an accompaniment of heavy gunfire suggested the use of the silent approach technique by one of the raiders.
The problem of conditions inside public shelters is now starting to concern the government. Not only are they overcrowded, but instead of being used for relatively short periods as originally envisaged, people are sleeping in them all through the night. The ministries of Home Security and Health have therefore set up a joint committee under Lord Horder's chairmanship to investigate 'the effect on the public health of the present use of public shelters'. This is no delaying tactic, however: the committee is expected to report 'within a few days'. Similarly rapid action is expected on the matter of 'making some use of the Tube railways for air-raid shelters without interference with the transport system'. Tube stations are already being used as shelters:
People are already beginning to resort to underground stations during air raids after having bought travel tickets.
But The Times makes the valid point that the Tube represents the safest and easiest way to get around during an air raid, so it's in the public's interest that shelterers don't impede trains.
Today's mailbag (not that The Times would ever use such a homely phrase) includes a letter from one L. B. Namier of 15, Gloucester Walk, W.8 (5). I think this is (later Sir) Lewis Namier, the historian (although W.8 is a bit far from Manchester University, he was writing on Sunday so perhaps he was in town for the weekend). Namier is outraged by the bombing of Buckingham Palace, which he sees as part of a pattern:
attacks against the persons of Sovereigns are a regular part of Hitler's technique, as witnessed by his systematic and persistent hunting down of King Haakon during the invasion Norway, his elaborate endeavours to capture Queen Wilhelmina and to sink the ship which carried her daughter and grand-children, and his unrelenting pursuit of the King of the Belgians.
This suggests that Hitler hopes to 'break the spirit of the monarchs' and/or 'the resistance of their peoples'.
The obvious psychological conclusion is that he himself would be greatly affected by such attentions to his person. Why not give them to him?
A debate via letter has started up about instituting reprisals, 'the policy of deliberate terrorization of civilians through bombardment' as F. W. Stokoe (a German literature specialist) of Comberton in Cambridgeshire puts it. He provides a list of objections to such a policy:
Practical.--(1) Ruthless bombardment of civilians is uncertain in its effect. It may cow some; in others, and probably the majority, it rouses hatred and determination and stiffens resistance [...] (2) The Germans could, and would, retort by intensified bombing of civilians here [...] (3) If this policy is openly adopted by both sides the suffering caused by the war will be enormously augmented [...] (4) If we adopted the proposed policy of wholesale murder we should rightly forfeit the sympathy of neutrals, and of decent men the world over.
Ethical.--(1) If we deliberately set ourselves the task of slaughtering the greatest possible number of civilians we reduce ourselves to the moral level of Nazi Germany, and our greatest asset in this war is lost [...] (2) At present our airmen have the right to regard themselves as clean and honourable fighters. If they are made the instruments of a policy of terrorization they will have been deprived of that right. (3) To put such a policy into effect would stain our honour ineffaceably. It would poison our minds with shame, and the minds of our enemies with inextinguishable hatred: and would go far to stultify the efforts of good men to create a saner world after the war.
By contrast, while Sydney Upton of Irchester doesn't quite advocate a full-blooded policy of reprisals, but asks how the German people are to learn that war brings no profit 'if the women and children of the Reich are always to be shielded from the worst horrors of war?'
Far be it from me to suggest that we should retaliate on the German people in the way of the Huns. But could not those people be made to know what hurried evacuation of their homes in any weather and the complete destruction of their cities, towns, and villages really means? Surely some means to bring about this most desirable end and punish more severely the German people can be found?
Why, yes. Yes, it can.
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