3.7.40

Everywhere a feeling of something near despair among thinking people because of the failure of the government to act and the continuance of dead minds and pro-Fascists in positions of command. Growing recognition that the only thing that would certainly right the situation is an unsuccessful invasion; and coupled with this a growing fear that Hitler won’t after all attempt the invasion but will go for Africa and the Near East.

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8 Responses to 3.7.40

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention 3.7.40 « THE ORWELL PRIZE -- Topsy.com

  2. Pingback: Airminded · Post-blogging 1940

  3. So, “thinking people” are terrified that maybe Hitler won’t attempt to annihilate tens of thousands of English after all. Desperate and fearful, they are beside themselves asking, “Why, oh, why, doesn’t Adolph cleanse England of the illiterate, imbecilic, masturbating masses!?!”

    How sad.

  4. The concern is regarding “the failure of the government to act,” which Orwell blames on fascist-sympathizers in positions of power.

    I think it is an interesting question to ask: to what degree were fascist-sympathizers actually in positions of power in Britain in 1940? Before the air raids turned the British people decisively against Hitler, would there have been the possibility of rapid capitulation, as in France?

  5. From the Appendix to the minutes of today’s War Cabinet meeting:
    ON what may be the eve of an attempted invasion or battle for our native land, the Prime Minister desires to impress upon all persons holding responsible positions in the Government, in the Fighting Services, or in the Civil Depart­ments, their duty to maintain a spirit of alert and confident energy. While every precaution must be taken that time and means afford, there are no grounds for supposing that more German troops can be landed in this country, either from the air or across the sea, than can be destroyed or captured by the strong forces at present under arms. The Royal Air Force is in excellent order and at the highest strength it has yet attained. The German Navy was never so weak, nor the British army at home so strong as now. The Prime Minister expects all His Majesty’s servants in high places to set an example of steadiness and resolution. They should check and rebuke expressions of loose and ill-digested opinion in their circles, or by their subordinates. They should not hesitate to report, or if necessary remove, any officers or officials who are found to be consciously exercising a disturbing or depressing influence, and whose talk is calculated to spread alarm and despondency. Thus alone will they be worthy of the fighting men, who, in the air, on the sea, and on land, have already met the enemy without any sense of being outmatched in martial qualities.

  6. A little poem [George Orwell, 1936]

    A happy vicar I might have been
    Two hundred years ago
    To preach upon eternal doom
    And watch my walnuts grow;

    But born, alas, in an evil time,
    I missed that pleasant haven,
    For the hair has grown on my upper lip
    And the clergy are all clean-shaven.

    And later still the times were good,
    We were so easy to please,
    We rocked our troubled thoughts to sleep
    On the bosoms of the trees.

    All ignorant we dared to own
    The joys we now dissemble;
    The greenfinch on the apple bough
    Could make my enemies tremble.

    But girl’s bellies and apricots,
    Roach in a shaded stream,
    Horses, ducks in flight at dawn,
    All these are a dream.

    It is forbidden to dream again;
    We maim our joys or hide them:
    Horses are made of chromium steel
    And little fat men shall ride them.

    I am the worm who never turned,
    The eunuch without a harem;
    Between the priest and the commissar
    I walk like Eugene Aram;

    And the commissar is telling my fortune
    While the radio plays,
    But the priest has promised an Austin Seven,
    For Duggie always pays.

    I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls,
    And woke to find it true;
    I wasn’t born for an age like this;
    Was Smith? Was Jones? Were you?

  7. Martinus Scriblerus says:

    Thanks for the War Cabinet link. I have finally worked out how to access other dates and have downloaded a selection. It is a great resource.

  8. Barry Larking says:

    Orwell’s personal views are easily confused with reality since he wrote so well. If there were any “pro-Fascists in positions of command” then these were quickly and quietly dealt with. Malcolm Muggeridge tells how as junior Intelligence agent he had to attend court sessions held ‘in camera’, where succession of the great and the good appeared incongruously well-dressed under War Regulation 18b – a Draconian measure which actually suspended ancient and important legal rights. ’18 bers’ were interned (imprisoned) due to suspicions of sympathies with the King’s enemies; the most well known ’18 bers’ were Sir Oswald Mosley and his wife, Diana, but they were by no means the only ones. Muggeridge points out that Kim Philby’s father, St John Philby, a Moslem convert and borderline lunatic, was also locked up under this measure.

    Another of his assignments required Muggeridge to watch “an address in Chelsea”* where Lord Ironside, C-in-C of the Army was meeting certain people who the government suspected of pro-peace sympathies. Muggeridge writes he was relieved to learn subsequently that Lord Ironside was appointed a Govenor General soon after and sent overseas; given the time of publication in the 70s a wise statement to add and possibly at the behest of the publisher’s lawyers.

    Note: Orwell mentions ‘the Near East’. This is Turkey to Eygpt, including Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. The Near East, Middle East and Far East were shipping terms. The British Army (the geography only works from the perspective of the British Isles) followed this practice when defining military command structures. During the crisis of 1941-42 the Near East and Middle East Commands were combined.

    *’Chips’ Channon, Conservative M.P. and noted diarist was a committed Appeaser who lived on Cheyne Walk. Muggeridge says nothing about where or who owned the house he was watching.

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