Letter to the Editor: Parallel Bars?

Letter to the Editor: Parallel Bars?

12 Mar 24
Posted by: Tearless
Message from the Editor

Gazing at his crystal ball (history is prophecy in reverse!), the author ponders contemporary failures to learn the lessons of history.

It is 1938 (2024). I am my father (me). I am 42 (88). I fought throughout the Great War from beginning to end. Somehow, sheer luck, I survived when the Expectation of Life for aircrew officers in the Royal Naval Air Service was 11 weeks; I crashed three times. Then I contracted but survived Spanish ‘Flu and TB, for which the conditions in the ships were ripe.

After the war I transferred to the RN Scientific Service, became involved with radio control, first with the CMBs used earlier in the 1919 Baltic war against the Bolsheviks and later moved to radio control of a battlecruiser and then a battleship (drones?) for target practice in the Med. Then to the establishment of the Admiralty’s world-wide network of wireless stations, and then just a few years ago to research how radar might be adapted for shipborne use.

In 1938, after the Munich Crisis (UN Resolutions ignored), war with Germany (Russia) seemed inevitable. I watched as a European dictator, Hitler (Putin), annexed another country, Austria (Belarus) and then militarily invaded another, Czechoslovakia (Ukraine), which we had promised to support but which he is likely to subjugate.

Hitler (Putin) has promised that he has no further territorial ambitions in Europe. At least I have been able to re-assure my wife (my mother) that the Royal Navy is the biggest and best in the world (???!!!) and that the British Empire (Commonwealth?) will stand firm. Granted we have a small Army (even smaller now) but the RAF, also small, is re-arming. But Britain has been sleep-walking for 20 years. Britain has been sleep-walking for 20 years. France and Britain (NATO) have however declared that if Hitler (Putin) does invade Poland or any other country, they (NATO) will unite to defend it. Despite its past record, the USA is ambivalent.

There is already another war being waged in the Middle East. A powerful country, Italy (Iran) has attacked a smaller one, Abyssinia (Israel). The USA is less ambivalent about this.

So what may happen in 1939 (2025)? Germany (Russia) is already on a war footing. We are not. Hitler (Putin) miscalculates and does invade Poland (Lithuania) seeking to recover East Prussia (a land corridor to Kaliningrad). France and Britain (NATO) respond. A European war erupts by land, sea and air with grievous losses on all sides but poison gas (nuclear and chemical weaponry) is not used.

In the Far East, Japan (China), already at war with China (Tibet/Bhutan) watches the European nations with colonies in Southeast Asia becoming weakened by the war in Europe and has ambitions on their territories and SE Asian oilfields. Maybe in 1941 (2026) Japan (China) will seek to annex these and conduct a surprise attack on the US base at Pearl Harbor (Taiwan) to achieve this. This will trigger the US’ entry into the war.

And then, also in 2026, a rogue state in NE Asia will no longer be able to resist the temptation to join in and will go nuclear. In that case, I too, 25 years in the RN, and if then still alive, would be 90 years old, but probably, with many others, not see 2027!

Pray that the world, at ‘90 seconds to Midnight’, may yet come to its senses.

Featured photo: National Digital Archives, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons