Hutchinson's Pictorial History of the War, Series 26, No 1

HUTCHINSON PICTOR1A L HISTORY of the WAR THE BRITISH ARMY IN 1944 by lhe Rt. Hon. Sir Janies Grigg P.C. K.C.S.I. M.P., Secretary of Slale For War In surveying the achieve­ments of the British Army in 1944 when presenting his annual estimates in the House of Commons 011 13th March 1945 Sir James Grigg said :The British Army lias travelled along way dur­ing the last three years, and that in more senses than one. It has travelled from the Nile Valley byway of Tripoli Tunis Sicily Rome and Florence to the Valley of the Po. It has travelled from Ran­goon back to the hills of Assam and forward again into the heart of Burma and to Mandalay. Above all it has travelled from the training grounds of our own country via the Normandy beaches, through France and Bel­gium into Holland and finally into Germany. But even more striking than voyaging in space has been its spiritual voyage as an army. At the beginning of 1945 we and our allies can look back to a considerable period of practically unbroken success land.on Our own Army has perfected itself by along process of rigorous training it has been equipped as 110 British Army has ever been equipped before it is fully conscious of and confident in its own strength and it is assured of final victory both in the West and in the East. This remarkable transformation is due to many factors— the skill of those who planned the major strategy the ability and in some cases I would say the genius of the higher commanders who executed it the energy and resource of those who invented and prepared at home— including the vast numbers of workingmen and women in the factories—but more than any of these the change is due to the qualities and resolution of the soldiers themselves. On the testimony of the commanders in Italy in North-West Europe and in Burma we have a magnificent Army. Cut in spite of this miraculous betterment in our fortunes I think it would be unwise to act as if all was over bar the shouting. In recent months we have had more than one false dawn, and I am sufficient of a pagan not to want to provoke Nemesis. It is clear that there will abe substantial measure of re­lease from the Forces and it is clear that there will have to be avery compli­cated and difficult process of re-deployment against Japan .It is clear that these two processes will have to be accompanied by a further call up from civil life including a sub­stantial number of those who have hitherto been in reserved occupations. There can be no doubt that the event of the year, so far as the British Army is concerned is the re­entry into Europe from the West. Let me make it clear beyond all misunder­standing that I am dealing primarily with the British Army and that the epoch- making events in Eastern and Central Europe orin the Central Pacific are, therefore excluded from my present view. Let me also say with the greatest emphasis that I do not seek to under-estimate the importance of the campaigns in Italy and in Burma. But the re-entry into North-West Europe has had and will have a more direct and proximate effect on the defeat of Germany and more­over it has not hitherto been mentioned in our annual reviews. I will therefore begin by giving a considerable account of the preparations for this vital campaign and of its fortunes up to date. The preparations for the operation known as “Overlord” go back along way. They began to gather real momentum from the time that the first arrange­ments were made for the reception and accommodation of American Forces in this country. O f the operational planning naturally I can even now say little but succesj can speak for itself. Few campaigns can ever have gone more according to plan than that of June July and August 1944. I remember being present a month or six weeks before D-day. at a conference where the land sea and aii L i SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR Sir Janies Grigg Secretary of State for War at work in his room at the War Office.
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