DAYS OF WAITING By Caps Bernard Acworth
SINCE my comments on the war against Japan in last week's issue, the position in Burma seems, from the official reports, to have improved. It is, however. premature, at the time of writing, to assume too confidently that the Japanese thrust against the Assam-Burma railway is finally defeated. How important is the strategical issue now in tht balance between quite modest forces needs no new emphasis. In some quarters the shift of Lord Louis Mountbatten's headquarters from Delhi to Kandy is being treated as the herald of major operations across the Bay of Bengal, but insufficient emphasis has, 1 think, been laid on the adverse influence of the weather conditions until next November.
In the meantime in the European theatres " the Second Front " overshadows day-to-day events much as the monsoon does in the East. Expectation of a strong German stand, and possible counter-offensive in the • Lvov sector, is now being freely suggested. For my own part, I have quite insufficient knowledge of facts to offer an opinion as to whether the Germans and their satellites have the requisite numbers of men, and a sufficiency of material, to hold the Russians while meeting invasion from the West What does seem certain is that Hitler is prepared to face great risks from the East in oider to repel our invasion or, alternatively, to hold it as in Italy. On the outcome of these two great issues in the East and West, it is useless to speculate. Caution is liable to be interpreted as pessimism, while unbounded confidence is likely to be regarded as complacency. Wise men will, therefore, as I have said once before, adopt a philosophically stoic attitude and put their trust in God and the martial qualities of our fighting men.
There is, however, one thing to which all ought to begin to make up their minds, and it is this: The independent air offensive in the West does not seem likely to " soften " the European fortress to so great an extent as the public had been led to hope. Just as " the soft underbelly " of Italy has proved rather " a prickly spine" in spite of intense bombing of towns, factories, communications and airfields, so must we be prepared for a grim and tough struggle for the infantry in the great invasion. That our soldiers will prove themselves at least the equal of Germany's picked troops, as they have irt Italy, is the only thing of which we can be sure.