From a Special Correspondent Scandinavia has fallen within the Germano-Russian military and commercial orbit.
That is the consequence of the Finnish peace. Yet with few exceptions the peoples of these countries are in sympathy with the aims of the Allies.
What will happen if the Germano-Russian pressure ceases to be " peaceful " and becomes " protective," as in Czech,oslovakia and Poland, Negotiations for a Scandinavian defensive affiance make this a real question.
Here are the facts about the strongest of the three countries from a military point of view.
USED TO BE WARLIKE The last war fought by the Swedes was the Russian campaign of 1808-9, which had cost them Finland. Since then the military machine had fallen into decay, and strict neutrality was regarded as the sole guarantee of independence. The last war roused the Sweden to the sense of danger. General conecripbon was introduced and other defensive measures taken. But after the Peace of Versailles the country's defence was once more neglected. In 1936 followed a series of military reforms. A permanent general staff was set up for co-ordination of defence problems. The Army was reorganised. 40,000 regulars formed ite backbone, while the general conscription, with 175 days of active service, provided for the training of reserves. The equipment was modernised, which was rendered easy by the famous Bofore armament works, a tank factory in South Beanie, and the generally high industrial development of the country. Coastal defences and the fortifications airing the Finnish border were extended. Particular attention was paid to defence against air attack. Even special bombproof reservoirs for oil were drilled deep In granite hills. Several new destroyers were added to the fleet, whose modernisation had begun already in 1930. Since then the re-armament programme has been gradually extended and speeded up.
AN ARMY OF 600,000
At present Sweden can raise an army of over 600,000, while Norway could contribute about 200,000 men. Equipment of the Swedish land forces is very good; there is only a certain shortage of heavy artillery. The morale of the soldier is excellent and the memory of the old glory is still alive.
The only complaint of the Swedish commanders Is the insufficient training of the reserves. But it has been largely remedied by several partial naobilisations, under which various classes have been called to the colours Since the outbreak of war.
Rifle practice and various kinds of military exercises have become the favourite pastime of the youth. Also military tuition by post enjoys great popularity.
MR FORCE AND NAVY ADEQUATE The Swedish Air Force is generally regarded as insufficient to face a massed attack of the Red aviation, let alone a Germano-Russtan combination in the air. At the outbreak of hostilities in Finland Sweden was estimated to have about 300 first line machines. But an energetic expansion continues, and should the Western Allies throw in their lot the situation need not be feared.
The Swedish Navy is largely out of date, but maintained in very good condition. It consists of three armoured cruisers, five coastal defence vessel*, the aircraft cruiser Gotland, which carries six planes, six 61n. guns and
BIRTH NOTICE YISHER.—On March 21, 1940, at Kencb Hill Minting Home, Tenterden, Kent, to Constance (nee Bottaill), wife of Francis Fisher—a daughter.
MARRIAGE NOTICE DAVIES : W.A.REING.—On March 25th, at St. Winifride's Church, South Wimbledon, with Nuptial Mass and Apostolic Benediction, James Cedric, son of Mr and Mrs H. C. Davies, to Monica, eldest daughter of Mr and Mrs E. Vincent Wareing.
12 A.A. guns, an old armoured cruiser. Fylgia, 16 destroyers, 16 submarines, numerous auxiliary craft, and ten motor torpedo boats. Norway can boast only four old coastal defence vessels, five modern destroyers, nine submarines, 24 torpedo boats, and auxiliary craft.
STRATEGY—DEFENSIVE Swedish strategy is chiefly defensive, as General Pontius Reuteswand has pointed out, The chief object of the Swedish Army bats always been great mobility, which would permit it to intercept and destroy the enemy immediately upon landing before heavier armament and great numbers could come Into play. Recently coastal defences of Scania, the easiest Swedish coastline opposite Germany, have undergone a far-reaching extension, and a fortified zone, comparable to that of Mannerhelina, has been prepared further inland, where forest and lake country begins. Conditions of war, If the Nazis attacked Sweden from the south, would be very similar to those in Finland.