Chiefs of the United Nations in Chungking

Gen. Wavell Speaks to India

The War Illustrated, Volume 5, No. 128, Page 692, May 15, 1942.

Our ultimate victory against the brutality and aggression of the Axis Powers is beyond doubt. You have on your side four of the toughest and most enduring races of the world the British, Chinese, Russians and Americans.

The British may be idle and easy-going in times of peace, but their core is as hard and as unyielding as ever. Adversity picks up the tough heart and reveals that core. They will never give in. The Chinese, though half armed, have stubbornly defended their civilization for nearly five years against the upstart Japanese, and will continue to do so to the end. The Russians have endured an armoured onslaught by the Germans on a scale never equalled, and have thrown it back as they have thrown back so many other invaders. Their endurance is everlasting. And the Americans of whose determination to assist India to the utmost of their inexhaustible resources Indians have already seen so much evidence do they strike you as a people who will let go when once they have taken a hold? So our victory is only a question of work and time.

The immediate danger to India is air attack, but I want to get the danger into its proper proportion. The savage ruthlessness shown by Germans against Rotterdam and against some towns and cities in Great Britain has instilled fear, as it was meant to do, in the minds of other people. But it did not break the resistance or terrorize the minds, be it noted, of the Dutch and British peoples who suffered under them...

I Was in Singapore only a few days before its surrender, when it had been experiencing continuous raiding at the maximum scale which the Japanese Air Force could bring to bear. Yet Singapore had few scars and there were few casualties, military or civilian, despite the inadequate defences. ... I can assure you that if people keep their heads and take precautions laid down by the A.R.P. Service, casualties will not be heavy. Air raids produce more noise and dirt than loss of life or injuries. ... Already in their attacks on Colombo and Trincomalee, the Japanese had as high a proportion of loss, despite great numerical superiority, as they did in their attacks on Rangoon last winter. Our defence is growing in strength almost daily, and expanding over India.

There is the prospect of invasion by sea and land. That the shores of India are threatened is obvious, and that the enemy might even attempt a landing in force is equally obvious... It is impossible to erect defences along the whole immense coastline of India or place soldiers to guard all points.

Our danger is clear to us and seems great. But consider the distance the Japanese are from their bases, the enormous area over which their war effort is already dispersed, the vulnerability to sea and air attack of their line of communications to India, the immensity of the country they would be seeking to conquer. They may raid India. They may even seek to occupy a portion of it temporarily, but as long as India remains true to herself she can never be conquered.

Nothing can stop us from winning the war; but defeatism and unreasoning panic may hinder and delay victory. Some of India's most prominent leaders have lately given a stirring call towards resistance against aggression. If all in India, of every class and creed, British and Indian, official and non-official, calmly stay at their posts in office, factory and village, and will work wholeheartedly for India at this crisis, we have nothing to fear. From broadcast, April 21.

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