(1) European Front

ON THE WORLD

Germany began this war with surprises in weapons, and she shows no signs of diminishing inventive capacity. One of her notable early productions was the magnetic mine, operated by the pull of iron hulls. More recent is a double-action land mine, which first appeared this summer in Russia: the initial explosion hurls up a second shell which sprays a wide area from a few feet in the air.

The 24-inch howitzer intended for use against Leningrad and Moscow went into action first at Sevastopol only when aerial bombs and available artillery failed to blast the Russians from their rock-hewn gun emplacements. There it was decisive. The motorcycle carrier for anti-tank guns appeared this year in Libya. But the most discussed of all Germany’s weapons in the African war has been her famous 88-millimeter gun, employed both as artillery and as heavy armament on her medium tanks.

Rommel’s use of the 88 in the ambush of Ritchie’s tanks discloses German genius for improvising. He brought scores of these guns from his supply ports by every kind of conveyance and transport available. His trap, arranged in Russian fashion, was set by placing the guns in echelon, thus affording depth of fire. The echelons, built into a circle, gave the 88’s nearly 360 degrees of sweep!

RUSSIA’S INVENTION

Russia has shown resourcefulness in development of weapons as well as in tactical shifts for their use.

The revelation of her weapons in the first Finnish war was a forewarning of the powers of Slavic imagination. Her multiple aerial bomb ("Molotov’s breadbasket”) and the strange motorized winter sledge for machine gunners and mortar men were’but preludes to what was coming.

The use of small rocket bombs in series, fired from special anti-tank planes (Stormaviks), was new this spring. This was pronounced “a fiendish weapon" by her Nazi adversaries — who, a few months later, had adapted it for bombing ships and for new anti-tank artillery. Russia has brought into the war the first effective anti-tank rifle. She began this summer experiments in the use of trained dogs to carry explosives against tanks.

SHIPPING

The tutor of the Nazis in the submarine strategy they are now employing was Admiral Jellicoe. And they have published their sardonic gratitude for the lesson. In Jellicoe’s memoirs, The Crisis of the Naval War, the Nazis read this: “The Germans made one great mistake for which we were thankful. ... It was anticipated that they would send submarines to work off the United States coast immediately after the declaration of war by that country. . . . They did not appear until May, 1918. The moral effect of such action in 1917 would have been great. . . . When the Germans did move in this direction in 1918 it was too late. . . .”

By concentrating U-boat activities on the American side of the Atlantic in this war, the Germans are striving to correct their earlier error. By the multiplication of fast undersea craft with long cruising range they are trying to make up in damage what they have failed to achieve through blows at our morale.

All too tardily the United Nations have gone to work on this problem, the size of which is indicated by our huge shipping losses—nearly 400 ships since January. Construction programs have expanded to astronomical proportions. We are at last utilizing our small boats; Dunkirk in reverse. The drive against submarines has now assumed the scale of a seaways crusade involving thousands of patrol and fighter craft.

The fury of the Axis attack, the multiplication of Axis submarine building yards, suggests more than a well-contrived offensive strategy. It may also imply fear-fear arising from the nightmare of every German militarist since Clausewitz: a two-front war in Europe.

THE SECOND FRONT

A second front in Western Europe will bring Hitler’s Wehrmacht face to face with the first major offensive the Nazis have encountered there since the war began.

Strategically, such a front would compel diversion of German strength from the Eastern front (thus aiding Russia). It would place enormous new strains upon the resources and transportation of the Reich, level a major blow at the morale of Germany, and probably incite counter-revolutionary risings in Europe.

The logic of necessity underlies this project: the logic of events will determine the timing. Already the preparations involved range the limits of geography. But for Admiral Chester Nimitz’s remarkable performances in the Pacific, in reducing Japanese naval strength, the United States might hesitate to venture an effort in Europe so fraught with risks.

The volume of staff work involved is staggering; but it is already under way. Witness: the appointment of General Dwight D. Eisenhower to command American forces in Europe found that officer already hard at work in London. Problems 2

of manpower, of transport, of supply, are being tackled. About seventeen deadweight tons of shipping per soldier are needed to transport an army overseas with adequate equipment; between three and four tons per man per month to keep him going once he arrives. The airways might offer a short cut if the United Nations possessed enough freight-carrying planes. Do they?

Lack of a landing place in friendly hands does not mean that establishment of a bridgehead is too formidable a task to attempt, or that a huge army is needed to try it. Though the Axis has large forces posted throughout Europe, concentration of these to block an invasion attempt by several hundred thousands of tough, properly equipped men may prove difficult.

Air control is already held over the Atlantic coasts of the Continent by the United Nations, who will continue to hold it unless Russia ceases to fight. Air power will dictate the range of shoreline within which landings may be tried. As combat planes operate at greatest efficiency within a radius of about 350 miles, — though this is extending, — choice of a bridgehead would presumably lie somewhere between Southern Norway and the Pyrenees. Once a foothold is gained, the first task will be to set up new airfields to extend this range.

THE TROOPS

Britain has a well-equipped army of about 1,500,000 at home, plus some 2,000,000 partially trained home guards. To these must he added several thousand refugee troops from the Continent, and an AEF whose numbers, by the time invasion is attempted, will doubtless approach 500,000. Here is ample manpower, even after deduction of reserves. The perplexing problem will be to transport the troops to the point selected, with sufficient speed to insure reasonable prospect for success. Ideal selection of an invasion point would be one near enough to Britain to permit use of swarms of small boats, transport planes, and glider trains (as well as maximum numbers of combat and bombing planes) to supplement heavier craft for mechanized equipment, and tank barges. Speed is of supreme importance. No second front can succeed if there is any reliance on the timetable which, according to Lord Gort, consumed five weeks and three days to transfer a single division from Britain to the Belgian line in 1940!

The foggy period over the Channel begins in midSeptember: There is your curtain for secrecy. But can the blow be held back that long? German progress in the East may compel an earlier attempt — or postpone one.

THE ARMY UNDERGROUND

The people of the occupied countries are ready to revolt. That the United Nations ought to exploit this fact is obvious. Evidently the Germans themselves are uncertain on this score. Their first retort to British radio warnings urging French residents to withdraw into the interior was to forbid any such movement. Then they themselves proceeded to order evacuation of certain coastal areas.

Two alternatives to invasion over the Channel exist. Spain, with a long coast, is relatively near. She is ripe for revolt, and has no German army on hand to challenge invaders. She offers the Napoleonic precedent. But British policy toward Franco writes another question mark here.

The other possibility is French Morocco. While a landing there would affront Vichy, it might be tempting. It would threaten Rommel’s rear and Italy, jeopardize Vichy-dominated Colonial Africa and the communications line to Dakar, and force Hitler to dispatch an army a long way over a water hazard.

So the question of a second front faces the United Nations squarely with a problem of policy: What are they going to do about regimes hostile to their aims and openly pro-Nazi, in France and Spain? A most important preliminary to any second front in Europe will be for them to make up their minds. Fascism’s understudies do not fit into the Atlantic Charter.

WHAT TO WATCH

The battle of shipping in the Atlantic. The drive against Russia. Both have direct bearing upon the second front.

Hitler’s counter-moves against invasion such as a blow at Iceland.

Moslem Arab sentiment toward the United Nations in the Near East.