There is news today of the death of the Duke of Kent, in a Sunderland Flying Boat which crashed last night in the far north of Scotland. It was en route for Iceland. Sixteen men in the plane were all killed. This is a tragedy for the Royal family, but although most people are sorry, I think the general feeling is: Good! Let those people also feel the war! Why should they be immune? I must also note that on Monday Churchill arrived back in London from a visit he has been paying to Stalin in Moscow.
The war situation gets worse and worse, you don’t think it can and then it does. Germany still wins everything everywhere. Brazil has this week declared war against the Axis, but what difference will that make, except the Brazilians will now die before their time? Our raid on Dieppe last week was probably a fiasco; the war office has been too long cooking its report for it to be a good job. “Gaining valuable experience,” says the war office, but they do not tell us their losses. We claimed to have killed ten thousand Germans, but if so, how many of our men did the Germans kill? We are not told. The more I listen to the B.B.C. reports, the more I distrust all news. I think our propagandists are as big liars as the Germans. All we really know is that everyday and every night our men are dying. For what? The talk about democracy makes me sick. I will not write about the war.
The latest “target” at which we are bidden to aim is what the Minister of Fuel calls the fuel target. This, to all intents and purpose, means coal. We are to cut down our consumption of coal drastically or undergo a still more drastic system of rationing. Should we complain, our rulers have arguments ready to prove that our complaints are groundless. They tell us first of all that the coal we should in the ordinary way be consuming is urgently required for war purposes, and that the winning of the war is more important than our immediate personal comfort, and they add that coal is only one more item on the list of those things of which the war has reduced our consumption and that anyhow the less we spend on personal requirements the more there will be available for war purposes, and the less chance of ruinous inflation. Indeed, every argument (save one) is used that has already been used to defend the rationing of food, building, and clothes. The omission is important. Hitherto, in every category of abstinence, it has been impressed upon us that by abstaining, whether voluntary or under compulsion, we are all saving vital shipping space for imports that are necessary for us as a nation. That argument clearly cannot be used about coal, for coal is one of the few raw materials that we have consistently exported in peacetime after satisfying our own needs.
Coal thus stands in a category by itself. Like food, shelter, and covering for the body, it is a primary economic need. It is necessary to keep warm and to cook. Unlike the other primaries, coal has always been abundant in England, and probably more planning and legislation has been devoted to coal mining in the pre-war years than to the production of any other natural commodity. We thus started the war with an inexhaustible supply and a fully matured organization for tapping and distributing it. Furthermore, there has not been really any substantial additional demand for it owing to the war. We have not used it to any considerable extent for the extravagant production of oil, synthetic rubber, etc. and there has of course been a saving to the country as the result of diminished exports. To this it may be replied that the big increase of factories for war materials has greatly increased consumption. This is true, although it must be remembered that a large number of the present war-factories existed in full production of other commodities before the war. Again, there is the inflation argument, but, with coal at four pounds per ton, the government need hardly fear that most of us will buy more than we need.
I suppose this winter we shall have to resign ourselves to cold hearths, burst water pipes, and probably an increase of illness, or, at any rate, a diminution of our powers of resistance, but why? The Minister of Fuel is not convincing us. Is it that big business has once again failed where small units with individual ownership or control have succeeded? Or are there perhaps deeper and even less savory influences at work? Is the town mind, with its obsession that profit is the sole object of existence finding it impossible to adjust itself to the wholehearted patriotism that is imperative if we are to win this war? I say damn Major Gwilym Lloyd George and the rest of his fool government. Our boys die and we at home may starve and freeze whilst the fool politicians debate! Rationing, saving, war-work. Meanwhile the Germans go steadily in winning the war, Lord, how I hate men, particularly Englishmen!