Hutchinson's Pictorial History of the War, Series 22 No 1

HUTCHINSON’ S P1CTOR1A L HISTORY of the WAR I n a war commentary broadcast on 5th August, 1943, Captain Cyril Falls said :Before I consider the present situation in the European theatre and t,ike a brief glance into the future, I think it would be well to look back for a moment towards the past. The period of the greatest and most promising suc­cesses which we have so far gained in the whole coursc of the war is surely a suitable one in which to consider, with grateful hearts, the frightful perils of the road we have travelled. But though it is easy to talk of the affairs of a nation being favour­ able or unfavourable, it is not so easy to find a m ea sure, a yard stick ,which will indicate how good or bad they arc. Per­haps the best way is by an estimate of odds— but ol' course it must be very rough. After the fall of France a neutral bookmaker would not have been rash in offering fifty to one against us. After our African victories over the Italians he might have reduced the price to forty to one against. When Hitler attacked Russia he would have brought it down sharply to tens. When the United States entered the war he might have been enthusiastic enough to offer even money, but he would probably have repented and slept badly of nights during the disasters in Asia and the Pacific, Rommel’s march to El Alamein, and Bock’s chive into the Caucasus and to the Volga. To-day his price would perhaps be ten to one on, and he would begetting ready to shorten it much more still. It is obvious that wc owed a great deal in all this period to good fortune, without which 110 action on our own part could have saved u fe. But it is also true that we made few mistakes, and hardly one single mistake on a major strategic scale, whereas the enemy made several of the biggest. When I saw Sir John Dill at the War Office he generally repeated this sentence :“The one thing we can’t afford is a big mistake.” And yet we were bold we took risks. The despatch of the rein­forcements which enabled Field -Mars hal Lord Wavell to destroy a great Italian army in North Africa and set Italy upon her downward path was very bold, especially when you consider what it was based on our home forces were so ill-armed to oppose invasion that we thought the transfer of 50,000 men or so would hardly count. I need hardly add that it is just as important to make no big mistake now. The early hours of victory areas vital in that respect as the hours of adversity. We dare not pull punches to-day. It is clear that, in con­junction with our Ameri-•can partner, we have now done the right thing again in attacking “the under­belly of the Axis” in the Mediterranean. It has proved as soft as we could have hoped, and our thrust has gone home into it. With the capture of Catania and Patcrno, Italy itself is cracking the Axis grip on the Balkans is imperilled the German reserves, though not yet all thrown in, are made less effective by dispersion and uncertainty. The prospects of our being able to bomb effectively the German industries moved eastward and south-eastward to avoid bombing from England have grown brighter. The break-up of Italy was caused by the invasion of Sicily, but it was also the result of along series of heavy Italian defeats. The last act was clearly due to German demands which the Italian satellite could not stomach. They must have been something like this. A German supreme command the best Italian troops embodied in German formations and the rest to serve as carriers and diggers the abandonment and scorching of all of Italy which it did not suit German strategy to goon holding the evacuation of such further Italian work­men and machinery as could be transported into Ger­ [1 THE ROAD TO VICTORY by Captain Cyril Falls SEARCHING CROAT GUERRILLAS German soldiers searching captured Croat guerrillas who had resisted the enemy occupa'tion of their country.
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