Conflicting Reports : Another Guernica ?
SIR,—" The silence of the British Press
can only be explained by the fact that there were no British correspondents at Cas tellon." So runs a sentence under the heading " The Massacre at Castellon " on page 2 of this week's CATHOLIC HERALD.
You will I am sure forgive me for point ing out that while the first portion of this sentence is not quite true—Mr. William Forrest of the News Chronicle devoted half a leader page last week to the subject under a heading similar to yours—the second portion is astonishingly true in that this gentleman, who wrote of " The Massacre at Castellon," is described by his newspaper as " the only British war correspondent who was in Castellon up to the night before it fell."
And so not being present on the occasion of the massacre, Mr. Forrest, whose article is an attack upon Sir Henry Page Croft's case, invites the readers of the News Chronicle to accept his account, told to him " (1) by officers and men who took part in the battle; (2) by civilian refugees from the city whom I met on the Valencia road; and (3) by the Fifth Columnist prisoners themselves."
Now I am not going to suggest for one moment that Mr. Forrest does not sincerely believe in the truth of what he has written, though it does look very much like the Guernica yarn all over again, but at a later stage in his article he questions the truth of the evidence supplied to Sir Henry Page Croft :— " Sir Henry's new statement—which he calls The Evidence '—consists largely of cablegrams," and here Mr. Forrest introduces the names and titles of a number of leaders and professors, and ends with this curious phrase " . • all conceived the same idea of sending an expensive cablegram to the Member for 13ournemouth. I ask you!"
May we not question this responsible journalist, who represents a British newspaper that numbers over a million readers, and asks us who read his paper to aecept him as a more reliable authority than Sir Henry Page Croft, M.P., on the subject of the massacres.
No doubt many who read that article felt inclined to accept the authority of Mr. Forrest, but as a journalist myself I find it both useful and interesting to retain cuttings for comparison with later information; and so, thanks to the CA'1110LIC HERALD, I an now able to compare my News Chronicle cutting with the account supplied not only by a responsible French journalist, M. J. Dourec, but with the Red organ, La lianguardia's account of the fall of Castellon as well, and I am able now to put an interpretation upon Mr. Forrest's article that was not possible earlier.
But how many who read that article are in the same position as I am? The public has a short memory. Let me refresh it.
"News that the rebel vanguard was already entering the city had brought these hidden enemies of the Republic out of their underground lairs." Of whom is Mr. Forrest writing, Italians, Germans, Portuguese?
No indeed! He is writing of Spaniards, Spaniards of Republican Spain who do not happen to hold the same views on the political future of their country as Mr. Forrest's newspaper, the News Chronicle, and so he continues: "Now was the time for them to deliver the traditional Fifth Column stab-in-the-back at the hard pressed defence," and in Mr. Forrest's own words they attacked the Reds in an endeavour to aid those whom they considered to be the saviours of their country.
They were beaten, reports Mr. Forrest. They had revealed themselves too soon. Between two and three hundred were killed in battle, and Mr. Forrest's comment on the protests by cablegram of other Spaniards, who being on the spot were presumably in a better position to know what happened than the correspondent who was there the night before, is, "I ask you!"
Since he does us the honour to so consult us may we not refer our esteemed friend to his brother journalists of the French Press who were in Castellon at the time of the massacre, and who did see what happened.
ALFRED GROSCH. 21, Disraeli Road, Ealing, W.5.