Ministerial Changes.

Part of War Situation. – in the House of Commons on 24th February 1942.

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Photo of Colonel John Macnamara Colonel John Macnamara , Chelmsford

Yes, the four go to make up the total strength. That means that there is a threat to the Russian life-line in Northern waters and to our life-line in the Atlantic and in home waters, probably greater than heretofore. There is a real threat, again, of invasion of this country at any time this spring or summer. In Mediterranean waters, the Italian fleet is still effective Although it might not be as strong as ours, it is preventing ours from gaining mastery of the Mediterranean. If we reckon Italian shore-based aircraft, we have nothing approaching mastery of the Mediterranean yet. In the far Pacific, we see the United States navy assuming great responsibilities for convoy work to Australia and New Zealand and to her own possessions. It has also to look after the coasts of the Americas from Alaska to Chile. America cannot concentrate her navy as the Japanese navy is concentrated; she has suffered a disaster at Pearl Harbour, and her navy has never been in a proportion of more than five to three against the Japanese in the first place. The Japanese fleet is now by far the strongest concentrated navy in the world and is going to play a really important role in Japanese aggression anywhere from Alaska to Africa. India, Ceylon, the coast of Africa, and Australia will all very soon come under a Japanese threat simply because we have not at present our traditional control of the sea. Our supply routes to our armies in the East and also to Russia through the Persian Gulf will be threatened, and it will be very difficult to move extra reinforcements, munitions or aeroplanes either to the Middle East or to India. Therefore, once again, I stress the prime necessity from the point of view of the Army, the Air Force and our whole strategy of concentrating first and foremost on winning the naval war and regaining control of the seas.

There should be singleness of purpose behind this. Hitler has won hitherto because he has shown great ability in concentrating all his energies on one purpose and on going right through with it.

That is the singleness of purpose which I want to see here in this country, directed to winning back the seas and winning the naval war. Our strategy-should be based on that. Our construction priorities should be thought out with that in view. The construction of ships and guns, and the training-of men, should be thought out with that in view When I hear Lord Beaverbrook, or whoever it may be, say that we are going to produce 30,000 tanks in such and such a time, and quoting other astronomical figures, I feel sometimes that I wish somebody would say he was going to produce 30,000 small motor torpedo boats, with torpedoes and depth charges, to go all round the coasts of India, Ceylon, Africa and everywhere else, because that is the real priority now, and must be until we have cleared the seas of the enemy. Until that is done the Army cannot move or function, nor shall we get our supplies through.

Air Force strategy and training again should in my opinion be devoted to this single purpose. The Navy should be helped by the Air Force with the types of aeroplanes it wants, and the whole Air Force strategy should be devoted to punching the Germans and the Japanese where they are making bases for punching us on the seas. Furthermore, the Army can also help the Navy. Army operational programmes should, in my opinion, be based on helping the Navy. There is a certain form of training whereby the Army can help the Navy very much, and I think it is very much behind in that direction. I would like to see it put into force. We must win this naval battle of the seven seas before we can hope to win the military battle of the continents.