26.1.41

Allocation of space in this week’s New Statesman:

Fall of Tobruk (with 20,000 prisoners) – 2 lines.

Suppression of the Daily Worker and the Week[1] – 108 lines.

. . . . All thinking people uneasy about the lull at this end of the war, feeling sure that some new devilry is being prepared. But popular optimism is probably growing again and the cessation of raids for even a few days has its dangers.  Listening in the other day [2] to somebody else’s telephone conversation, as one is always doing nowadays owing to the crossing of wires, I heard two women talking to the effect of “it won’t be long now” etc., etc.  The next morning, going into Mrs J.’s shop, I happened to remark that the war would probably last 3 years. Mrs J. amazed and horrified. “Oh, you don’t think so! Oh, it couldn’t! Why, we’ve properly got them on the run now. We’ve got Bardia, and from there we can march on into Italy, and that’s the way into Germany, isn’t it?” Mrs J. is, I should say, an exceptionally sharp, level-headed woman. Nevertheless she is unaware that Africa is on the other side of the Mediterranean.

[1] A Communist newsletter for private subscribers edited by Claud Cockburn; see 519, n. 3.

[2] This conversation must have been overhead shortly after 5 January 1941, when Bardia fell, to which the unidentified Mrs. J. referred on the next day. The fall of Tobruk was not complete until 22 January, when the Italian garrison surrendered.  Some 30,000 prisoners were taken (as compared to 40-45,000 at Bardia), for the loss of some 1,000 British and Allied killed and wounded. Mrs J.’s confidence was not, therefore, quite as misplaced as later events proved. That the New Statesman allocated only two lines to the fall of Tobruk was partly a result of this being last-minute (and premature) news. Peter Davison

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14 Responses to 26.1.41

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention 26.1.41 « THE ORWELL PRIZE -- Topsy.com

  2. anomie says:

    Quite the war-hound.

  3. Konifuji says:

    Jordan gets further breast enlargement after latest divorce – 822 lines.

  4. Pingback: Italians Announce Defeat at Tobruk | The WWII Project

  5. Tuesday: 28.1.1941:
    In the House of Commons tonight, Herbert Morrison, the Home Secretary and Minister of Home Security, was given the overwhelming backing of MPs for his decision to shut down the Daily Worker, the newspaper of the Communist Party of Great Britain, because its anti-war stance was subversive and calculated to help the enemy.

    Morrison, whose war responsibilities include censorship and the detention of potential enemies of the state, said the paper had conducted a sustained campaign of vilification, telling people that they were being killed and injured in enemy air-raids because the government wanted to make big profits for capitalists and imperialists. It was “cruel and cynical, sheer snivelling hypocrisy” to preach defeatism to people who were enduring great hardship.

    Aneurin Bevan, the left-wing Labour MP, said that although he detested the Daily Worker’s propaganda, he believed the ban did a disservice to the cause of freedom. Despite his plea, MPs voted 297 to 11 to back the Home Secretary.

    LIBYA: Bad going, heavy rain, numerous mechanical breakdowns and a shortage of petrol have brought the advancing troops of O’Connor’s force to a halt, allowing the Italians under General Babini to escape from Mechili.

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/andrew.etherington/1941/01/28.htm

  6. Greg says:

    Should you be getting bored, here’s what others were writing:

    http://wwar2homefront.blogspot.com/2011/01/29th-january-1941-dr-p-g-lavers-funeral.html

  7. Greg~~
    Thanks for reminding me of good old E. J. the museum guy; I had lost track of him. He is a colorful character.

  8. Thank you, Peter Davison, for “Two Wasted Years?”~~
    http://www.orwelldiscuss.co.uk/articles.htm

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