Front Our Own Correspondent
The Goebbelesque picture of a London razed to the ground; of bombers roaring over seething wreckage and sheets of flame while the inhabitants cower in their shelters has been ruthlessly smeared out in Glasgow.
It was done by Miss Barbara Ward when she invited her audience to come with her any fine morning to the corner of Piccadilly Circus. " Sec," she said. " the tall buildings are standing. 'Buses and cars stream past.
These typists, hurrying to their work,
have not a curl out of place. The policemen continue on their majestic way."
The meeting was organised by the Glasgow Catholic Truth Society, and the speakers were Miss Barbara Ward, of the Sword of the Spirit, and Major Marta Korwin, organiser of Warsaw's auxiliary hospitals. " Bulwarks of Christendom " was the general title given to the talks by Miss Ward and Major Korwin on the bombings of London and Warsaw.
Here is Miss Ward's description of a London night.
She has set out down Regent Street to find the rendezvous of her mobile canteen. A high explosive bomb falls in a side street. A Molotov Breadbasket unloads its cargo. She races towards Piccadilly Circus. Regent Street is flaming. As she arrives at the Circus another high explosive shrieks down. Another Molotov breadbasket. She scurries for shelter.
Glasgow thought there was something of the London spirit in her laughing epilogue. " That last bit was rather humiliating "—a spirit that is emphasised in the story of the bomb which struck a gas main outside Miss Ward's flat.
A geyser of fire, she told us, rises 200 feet in the air. The A.F.S. men know that that brilliant flame will attract the bombers, but laughing and joking they tackie the blaze.
The Londoners in their flat are fighting the effects of the cold night air by passing around the bottle, Before long they are getting a " heat " at the geyser while the sweating A.F.S. men are having a turn at the bottle.
And that little fellow who would tell his fellow travellers about the whacking great bomb that fell in his front garden. Right in his perishing front garden. Crikey l• " Musts knowed where you live, mate," said the irrepressible conductor.
But these are the stories of lucky people. What of the others? What of the little child who was hurled through a window, her back broken? What of the mothers looking for their children, and children looking for their mothers?
HEROES OF THE BASEMENTS
And what of the heroes of the basements? It takes fortitude to sleep through that devilish din night after night and carry on to your work in the morning. If you are lucky you may have spent the night on a camp bed. If you are not you may have lain down, cramped, on a tithe platform or stairway. You'll get up in the morning and go to your home—if it is still there. You'll get water—if there is any ; turn on the gas—if it is still on. Then you'll snatch a breakfast and hurry smiling to your work.
How does London carry on, continued Miss Ward. Hitler and his Nazis are beaten for an explanation. London carries on through commonsense, through faith, through fortitude. For these, London faces the shattering days and the weary nights.
When the Londoners say that they can take it, it means that they have seen the light of Europe go out; Christendom turned upside down by the new barbarians. If Britain was stripped of its Navy, would Hitler supply the food for our forty-odd millions? If Hitler conquered, what would happen to our working-class liberties, our free trade unions?
NATIONAL UNITY UNASSAILABLE The Londoners can take it with fortitude because they know that a favourite Hitlerian weapon is to destroy national unity ; to set class against class until men turn in anger against their neighbours.
To-day there are Frenchmen and Dutchmen who prefer Hitler to their own countrymen. Here in Britain our national unity is unassailable. Hitler's bombs rain down on the houses of the rich and of the poor. Instead of defeatism there is courage ; instead of fear and suspicion there is neighbourliness and charity.
And, finally, faith, concluded Miss Ward. Every Londoner knows, dimly or clearly, that he is fighting the fight of mankind. We will not say it is a war for God, for that would be presumptuous. But it is a just war, a war to defend the precious inheritance of two thousand years of Christian civilisation against the onslaught of the new barbarism.
Major Marta Korwin described the last tragic, heroic moments of the Catholic city of Warsaw in these dramatic terms.
Poland is facing the entire might of Germany. She will fight to the last bullet. Bombers come over three times a day—at breakfast. lunch and dinner And then at night. Sometimes there are 150 bombers. Sometimes 300. Still, it is not so bad. If you are not killed or wounded in this raid you have a few hours' peace until the next one.
Artillery fire begins. The Germans are raining shells from the north side of the town. Now their guns blaze in the west. Now front all sides. Day and night, night and day, guns roar, bombs scream down.
We can only give the wounded in our hospitals a small piece of bread a day. Some helpers set out under heavy enemy fire to get vegetables from a field on the outskirts. Their lorry is an old one. It can only do ten miles an hour, but they make it.
The hospital of the Child Jesus is attacked. Shells have fallen and some of the wounded, to escape, dash out into the corridor. We evacuate the wounded. But to where? There is only the lawn. But at least there the walls will not fall on them.
A German pilot sees the wounded lying on the lawn. He comes down low, his machine guns blazing. . . .
Telephones have gone. So has light. Now the reservoir has been struck, and there is no water. And the hospital is crowded. Two lie on every bed. Others lie between the beds, in corridors, on stairways.
OPERATIONS BY CANDLE-LIGHT
Operations are being performed by candlelight. Our hands and aprons are soaked with blood. We are wading in blood.
The hospital of the Holy Ghost is hit. We carry the wounded out. The guns and bombers are ceaseless. Our replies grow more and more rare. The bombers are very low now—right over the rooftops. They machine-gun solitary pedestrians.
The town is in flames. The wind carries the smell of smoke, of decomposition, of ether, of blood. We cannot hold out.
Then that dreadful silence. The last bullet has been fired. Warsaw has surrendered.