Orwell Diaries 1938-1942


Talking today with Sultana, one of the Maltese broadcasters. He says he is able to keep in fairly good touch with Malta and conditions are very bad there. “The last letter I get this morning was like a – how you say? (much gesticulation) – like a sieve. All the pieces what the censor cut out, you understand. But I make something out of it, all the same.” He went on to tell me, among other things, that 5 lbs of potatoes now cost the equivalent of 8 shillings. [He considers that of the two convoys which recently endeavoured to reach Malta the one from England, which succeeded in getting there, carried munitions, and the one from Egypt, which failed to get there, carried food.] I said, “Why can’t they send dehydrated food by plane?” He shrugged his shoulders, seeming to feel instinctively that the British government would never go to that much trouble over Malta. Yet it seems that the Maltese are solidly pro-British, thanks to Mussolini, no doubt.

[The German broadcasts are claiming that Voroshilov [1] is in London, which is not very likely and has not been rumoured here. Probably a shot in the dark to offset their recent failure over Molotov, [2] and made on the calculation that some high-up Russian military delegate is likely to be here at this moment. If the story should turn out to be true, I shall have to revise my ideas about the German secret service in this country.]

The crowd at the Second Front meeting in Trafalgar Square estimated at 40,000 in the rightwing papers and 60,000 in the leftwing. Perhaps 50,000 in reality. My spy reports that in spite of the present Communist line of “all power to Churchill”, the Communist speakers in fact attacked the Government very bitterly.

[1] For General Kliment Voroshilov, see Events, 31.8.39, n 1. Churchill was to meet him, on 12 August 1942, but in Moscow (see Winston Churchill, The Second World War, IV, p. 429).

[2] For Vyacheslav Molotov, see Events 28.8.39, n. 4. Churchill gives an account of a private talk with him at this time in The Second World War (IV, pp. 436-37). A principle issue at stake was the opening of a Second Front.