G.F. Vallance








          Lest any should think that the Author is in anyway biased in his judgment regarding the matters dealt with in this volume it might be helpful to include two quite independent testimonies, both written by Journalists unknown to the Author.


          George Murray of the “Daily Mail” reviewing the happenings of 1942 on December 23rd, 1942 wrote:


                   “The exceptional mildness of the first ten days of December has given the country a big lead in the fuel-saving campaign.


                   This is one of the few big slices of weather-luck we have enjoyed in this war.


                   In the early campaigns the Germans picked all the fine days for their outings.  Do you remember how in the Polish campaign of 1939 the world waited for the rains which never came?


                   Again, the invasion of France was helped by an exceptionally fine summer, bringing hard roads and clear horizons.  For the Battle of Britain the Germans had long, sunny days and clear nights – perfect conditions for an air offensive.


                   Then came the prolonged night blitzes on our cities – and for the first time for years our autumn fogs, which might have hampered the raiders, deserted us.


                   But in the midst of this run of misfortune came the “miracle of Dunkirk” – that flat calm almost unknown in those waters, which lasted for three days during the most critical period of the evacuation.  It followed the day of National Prayer the previous Sunday.


                   The year 1941 began with no better luck than we had received in 1940.  The spring was late and the summer cold and dismal.  At a time when we relied as never before upon British – grown food, the crops were a month behind.  Hundreds of lambs died on the uplands owing to the severe cold and the lack of spring herbage.


                   Our bombers hoped to begin a much stronger offensive over Germany, but they were grounded for days at a time by mists and rain which were prolonged in May and June.


                   Almost to the end of that year the weather was against us.  Zero hour for our Libyan offensive of November 1941 brought a great storm, which bogged our mechanical transport.  ‘The weather could not well have been worse,’ said one official eye - witness.


                   At home the harvest was prematurely hailed as the biggest in our history.  But day after day and week after week of rain in the late summer delayed and reduced it.


                   The weather established its neutrality by a last grand gesture in our favour at the very end.  December 1941 brought the most terrible Russian winter for many years – and we have learned since that the German Army was brought by it to the brink of disaster.


                   By January 1942 Auchinleck’s drive against Rommel had brought him to Agedabia and El Agheila.  We were trying to bring him to action, but the weather was foul.


                   Our communiqué of January 21st recorded: ‘Yesterday a blinding sandstorm which raged throughout the frontier districts of Western Cyrenaica restricted our activities both on the ground and in the air.  These weather conditions, the worst for ten years, alternate between severe sandstorms and heavy rain.  Due to the latter, many areas on the enemy’s front have been turned into impassable marshes. This has enabled him to mine the restricted intervening areas, thus hampering the movement of troops.’


                   Only a few weeks ago, when Rommel was smashed at El Alamein, he was saved from complete annihilation by two days of torrential rain which seriously hampered our pursuing columns.”


                   Whilst David Farrer of the “Daily Express” wrote on the 7th April, 1943 concerning the weather:


                   To read the newspapers and to listen to conversation in this year 1943 is in fact to reach the conclusion that the decisive factor in World War II, is proving to be not planes, not tanks, not guns, not even men, but just the wind and the rain.


                   The historical student of future days may well be reluctant to admit that even in the 20th century weather still conquered all things.


                   He will certainly at first reject the convulsion that, in an age which prided itself on its immense scientific and technological advances, an era when it was being claimed that man finally subdued nature to his desires, the victory was as much due to the elements as it was in olden times.


                   But what will he read if he studies the newspapers of the time?


First of the hot summer days – the ‘Hitler weather’ – of September 1939, which destroyed all chance of Polish resistance; next of similar weather conditions in May 1940, the hot, dry days which delivered the French Army into the hands of the panzers; the Channel calm that saved the British at Dunkirk.


                   Turning the pages to 1941 he will find that the sun shone again on Hitler’s invasion of Russia, but that an early winter saved Moscow.  He will learn, too, that in that year intense cold and electric storms sabotaged the British air offensive against Germany, while Atlantic storms destroyed the efficacy of the U-Boats.


                   Read on, and in 1942 find that desert sandstorms enabled Rommel to ambush and destroy 200 British tanks and thereafter advance 500 miles; that five months later a desert cloudburst enabled the same general to escape the annihilation which Montgomery had prepared for him; and that, even as this was happening, the waters were stilled for a single day off Casablanca to enable the Allied landings to take place in safety.


                   And 1943 will confirm the student’s now fast growing belief in the weather’s omnipotence.


                   The early thaw in the Ukraine, he will read, saved the Dnieper for the Germans and lost the Russians Kharkov; the mud in Tunisia gave the Axis precious time in which to prepare the defences of Southern Europe; and when the Eighth Army attacked at Mareth Rommel’s retreat was covered and his losses minimized – so America’s Director of War Information tells us – by yet another sandstorm.


                   The influence of the weather on the course of this war has been considerable, and on some occasions decisive.


                   Yes – we cannot overlook such FACTS as


            THE WAR




                                    &   GOD