HL Deb 16 October 1940 vol 117 cc511-26

VISCOUNT TRENCHARD had the following Notice on the Paper: To ask His Majesty's Government, as it is universally admitted the power of the Royal Air Force for withstanding the assaults of the enemy and to carry the offensive into Germany is of the first importance, whether they have information which could be given to the public with regard to maintaining the present organisation so as to enable the results so far achieved to be continued and increased; and to move for Papers.

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, I put down the Motion standing in my name in view of certain articles I have seen recently in the Press with regard to altering the organisation of the Royal Air Force. This is a matter of supreme importance, and I am perfectly certain that if the nation knew of it in detail they also would think it of supreme importance. Will your Lordships excuse me if for a few moments I refer to my connection with the Royal Air Force? Because of this connection I have received many congratulations from a very great number and variety of people upon the wonderful work of the Royal Air Force, and in these congratulations were included not only the work of the pilots and crews but the work of the whole of the organisation—the Fighter, Bomber and the Coastal Commands, the Air Forces in the Middle East and all over the world, as well as the work of the maintenance crews, and, last but by no means least, the instruction that is given at all the schools.

I have been congratulated again on the foundations we laid in those days long ago when I was allowed to work with one of the Under-Secretaries of State, Lord Londonderry. We laid those foundations years ago, and nobody knows better than I do that many of the remarks contained in the letters that I have received have been much too laudatory as it was not my work but the work of the pilots, the crews, and all the officers and men of the Royal Air Force in all the different branches which made this Air Force in the way it was made. I was really only the means, so to speak, of helping to put together and embodying into one whole the ideas of all those who knew what was needed, and I feel that what our people thought was copied by Germany, who thought the same, after their experience of our Air Force in the last war. The basis of the whole conception of the Air Force as we know it and as those who have really studied it know it, is unity—unity and the offensive. Those two principles are the whole basis of it. I am not dealing with the offensive policy to-day, I am dealing with the organisation side. It is unity that is the basis of the spirit that has made the Air Force what it is to-day.

All through the long years from 1914 to 1930, when I retired, it was that spirit of unity which made possible the success of to-day. And now what do we see beginning to arise at the height of the Air Force's glory? In certain newspapers and elsewhere we see a demand to break the Force down into three separate Air Services. And why? I ask. Why destroy the organisation that has done so much in this war up to now? Surely your Lordships will agree that the one department which has so far shown that its organisation is able to stand up to the strain is the Royal Air Force. Surely it is the one department that has done its job far better than anyone ever dreamed possible with the strain upon it, small as it was. Surely the organisation has stood up to the strain that has been put upon it. Though there have been mistakes of detail here and there, the broad basis of the organisation surely was well planned or it could not have stood up to what it has, with no help, or very little help, in the long years that have gone by. I am glad to see two noble Lords here who have both been secretaries of State for Air. I refer to the noble Marquess, Lord Londonderry, and the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton. Both know—one in the early days and one later when the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, was Secretary of State for Air—the value of organisation. The noble Viscount knew the value of unity and he knew the value of efficiency over quantity. I think we owe to those Secretaries of State, who helped to mould that organisation which has stood the strain in these days so well, a very great deal indeed.

In the first days of the war I was asked by one of the leaders of the nation, "How will the war in the air develop?" I refused to prophesy, but I said I was quite sure there was going to be, in this war as in the last, great argument about the right use and the right organisation. This is what has happened, and what went on up to the time of the French collapse; but the Air Force, broadly speaking, has been allowed to carry our air warfare on the proper lines since then in the light of the experience and knowledge of those who know the power of the air, though still much hampered by diversity of opinion and therefore by want of decision as to what are really the right targets to hit.

I do not want to weary your Lordships by speaking of this matter at length, but it is really important. One of the reasons for this discussion of the right use and organisation of the Air Force is that there are no books of great authority and reputation written by great men on this subject. All have read Mahon on Sea Power and other great naval books; all have read Marlborough, Wellington, Napoleon and Storewall Jackson. But are there many who can say that they have read anything about the air more than a few letters in the Press from time to time? The few authorities who have written on the air are not yet accepted as great authorities. I feel that there is a real danger in these articles which I have seen in the Press saying that we need an Army Air Arm. Not only that, but I gather that there has been in the last two years an agitation among a small coterie of leading people advocating making an Army Air Force. There has been a similar movement in Germany also.

One of the dangers of this situation is that a certain number of people who advocate this have flown, and weight is given to their arguments on that account. But flying does not teach you the art of air warfare any more than walking teaches you the art of land warfare. It does not follow that people who have flown necessarily know all about it. I do not know anyone who was in any position to take an active part in aerial warfare in the last war, or who was in a position of responsibilty for the policy of the operations of that war, who does not agree with what I call "our" conceptions of the organisation of the Royal Air Force. I will not go into technical details; they have been discussed exhaustively, and no amount of using phrases like "The man who flies an aeroplane to aid land forces must be half a soldier" will ever disprove the technical arguments.

What are the relevant facts as we see them to-day? First, the Prime Minister has, by many of his speeches in another place and elsewhere, recognised that the air is one of the chief instruments, if not the chief instrument, for victory. At any rate, up to the present it has been the chief instrument in avoiding defeat, and it will be the chief instrument for victory. All the Commands and the pilots have been congratulated time and time again by him for what they have done in this war. Secondly, the prestige of the Royal Air Force with the people of this country, who do not know about this discussion on altering the organisation, is exceedingly high. In the quality of its personnel—I should like to say this in view of criticisms that used to be made before this war and are now made no longer—of its equipment, for which we owe a debt of gratitude to the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, who sits on the Cross Benches, and of its standards of training, it is believed by the public at large to have a clear superiority over the enemy to a degree which we rarely believed ourselves to possess during the last war.

Thirdly, we have been bringing down a far greater proportion of the German machines which they send over to this country than the Germans bring down of ours. I should expect this, because a good many people have said that a more efficient Air Force will go through a less efficient one like a hot knife through butter. But that means, of course, keeping up our technical improvements—and these must, be watched, as I had to watch them in the last war. I hope they are being watched to-day. It is not only numbers; in fact I always say that numbers do not count in the air.

Now I come to what all this is about. It is said that the Army are uneasy, that they will not get the short-range or dive-bomber support they want. There is and was, I feel, reason for this, and I think everyone was impressed by the German bombing force in Poland, Holland, Belgium and France. It was used in intimate co-operation with the Army, and I feel that one may even go so far as to say that one, though not the whole, of the reasons for the rapid overrun of all those countries was the dive bomber, but more by its moral than by its material effect. One has heard from many sources that the casualties from the dive bomber were negligible; one has also heard from many sources of the demoralising effect it has. We started it, and we know. The bombing that we now call dive bombing was invented by the Royal Flying Corps and the Air Service in 1914 and 1915, chiefly, and was used at the Battle of the Somme. It was later used in France by Sir John Salmond, who was commanding the Royal Air Force during our retreat in 1918, to stem the Germans' advance and break up their attack. Dive bombing was then done chiefly by fighters. It was as easy for us to do it to them, when the Germans had nothing to counter it, as it was for the Germans to do it in Poland, Holland, Belgium and France, when we could not use the counter we know we ought to have had—namely, a superior Air Force.

I think, though, that history will prove definitely that it was not the shortage of our air support only which brought about the disaster in France. It was the shortage of all our equipment—tanks, guns, the French Air Force and our own Air Force We were not only short of dive bombers and short-range bombers; we were short of fighters, bombers and everything. The people who are clamouring for these things now are those who were responsible for the shortage of bombers, whether of dive bombers or of long-range bombers. There is no black magic about the design or operation of the dive bomber. It is a short-range bomber with one or two mechanical devices to slow up its speed in diving, and one or two other things; it is an inferior machine against a well-led fighter force, but it has its use for bombing, as we found in the last war and in this war.

As I said, the Army are uneasy that they will not get the short-range and dive-bomber support that they want, and that they will not get the necessary close cooperation between their mechanical force and the Air Force. But need the Army be uneasy that they will not get the immediate support in the future that they have lacked in the past? I do not believe this is so. When the time comes, and come it will, that the land operations become once more of first importance, or anyhow of equal importance, in breaking down the enemy's resistance, I have no doubt whatever that the Air Force will play its part in furthering and supporting the success of the Army. I am sure the Air Force of to-day feel and fully realise the necessity of giving all the support to the Army that the Army consider necessary. I feel it is almost impertinent to doubt that the Staffs of the Army and the Air Force have already many times closely studied and evolved tactics based on the lessons learnt from the operations that have already taken place in this war. And, of course, no one knows better than the Air Force the vital importance of the closest and most intimate co-operation with the Army. The Air Force have been fully aware of the great power that the air plays in ground operations—far more aware than the Army were twenty years ago.

I understand what I might almost call the Army being dissatisfied until recently. I like dissatisfied people myself; what I dislike is self-satisfied people, having always been rather dissatisfied myself. I often used to say that I would rather have a dissatisfied man at the head of a Service than a satisfied one. But how can there be any ground for suspicion or mistrust on this head? I know quite well that there was a feeling in former days that the Air Force was not whole-heartedly determined to exert itself to the utmost. I say quite frankly that that was in my day. The reason—and I can understand and sympathise with that reason—was that nobody realised what the Air Force realised, that the air was vitally necessary for the Army and Navy, and that they would both be useless if they did not have a sufficient Air Force to play its part, as it is playing it now so well. Even so, when the time came in this war the Air Force was as good as its word, and indeed better. Did it not in France spend itself unsparingly and regardless of loss to support the British and French Armies against the invader? Day after day every effort of every bomber squadron in France and from England was directed against the advancing enemy, his communications and reserves.

It is true that the sacrifices made were largely in vain, and that it was not possible to do more than effect temporary delays on the enemy's advance; but it must not be forgotten that the Royal Air Force placed itself unreservedly at the disposal of the High Command of the Allied Armies, of which, be it remembered, the British Expeditionary Force formed but a very small fraction. It took its orders from the French High Command, and its objectives were those selected by that High Command. Although in theory the French Air Force was a separate Service, in point of practical fact it was completely subservient to the French Army, and the High Command repeatedly showed that it had little or no conception of the use of air power, either in conjunction with a land battle or independently. No Army to-day can hope to succeed without the fullest and most effective support from the air; but that support can be secured only by full and free collaboration.

The next point to be remembered is that if you have dive bombers as an Army Air Service you must have fighters to protect them; without lighters they will be wiped out in hundreds, as they have been whenever the Germans have attempted to use then, here or at Dunkirk. You must have as many fighters as bombers, if not more, when bombers are used with the Army. Are we going to have the fighters, too, as part of the new Army Air Service? That would mean not only fighters but a great wireless organisation, which is very complicated and difficult. Are you going to have a separate organisation to do this? Is that one of your ideas? Did the Germans? Were their bombers, their fighters, their observers and their wireless all separate? No: they were all part of one Service. With a separate Service you will have competition and duplication. I do not want to worry you, my Lords, with that technical side of the matter, but any one of you who has seen the operation of the Air Force to-day and the complications which are inherent in its operation will be appalled at the idea of a seperate Service.

I cannot help feeling—and this is one of the principal points that I want to make—that in these days, when anything is found not to be quite right, the cry is to put in a new big man with a separate department under him. That makes co-operation more difficult than it is today. You will not get proper organisation by continually putting in new men of equal authority. The whole essence of the Air Force has been its unity; that is why it has been so efficient up to now. If you are to have new men and new departments you will have disorganisation, and surely that is what we are suffering from to-day.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, it is unity which has made the Air Force. It is unity which is the back- bone of its morale; this very delicate instrument has built itself up from within on the basis of unity. Does the nation as a whole understand this? Do our leaders understand it? Is this decision likely to be made without the nation realising that it is going to alter the organisation of the Royal Air Force? I feel that there is one thing that the nation does understand, and that is what the Air Force has done in this war up to now. I should like to say here, so that all who may read it shall know, that the Air Force has done what it has done because of unity. The breaking up of the present organisation would be disastrous to its efficiency and to the confidence in itself which the Royal Air Force as at present constituted feels. Part of its inspiration comes from its being one. By common consent the Air Force is doing its work brilliantly; and, when the day comes for it to work as an ancillary to the Army, I am quite sure that it will do that work just as brilliantly. The Royal Air Force to-day is the Air Force that I knew in the past; it has the same spirit, the same keenness and the same traditions, strengthened by accomplishments in the present war. I beg the powers that be to consider what effect it would have on the Service if, in spite of all that it has done, it were to be told that it could not be trusted to do the air work for the Army, and that a separate Air Service must be set up for that purpose. I beg to move.


My Lords, I venture to trespass on your indulgence for two minutes in order to give my full support, if I may do so, to the speech which has just been delivered by the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard. He has made a very weighty speech, and I am quite sure that his words have not fallen upon barren ground. I sincerely hope, at the same time, that the fears which are in his mind are not likely to be realised. I am sure that he is quite right in mentioning this subject in your Lordships' House, because it is quite true that in many irresponsible quarters there have been criticisms of the manner in which the Air Force assisted the Army at Dunkirk. I have had the privilege and the honour of being associated with Lord Trenchard officially and privately for a great number of years, and I have found very few people in public life who have been so accurate as has Lord Trenchard in their prophecies with regard to the future. I am very sorry indeed that the advice which he gave at the beginning of the war was not followed in its entirety. However, on these occasions it is unwise, and indeed wrong, to go back; we must look to the future; but, with my recollection of the past, I do most sincerely hope that the advice which Lord Trenchard has given now will be followed throughout.

Lord Trenchard and I were associated together at a very difficult time for the Air Force. The Air Force had very few friends in those days. Yet it is thanks to his inspiration, thanks to the foundations which he laid and to the successor whom he appointed to follow him, that the Air Force has carried this war on its shoulders and is leading us on to the time when we shall go forward to achieve the victory which we are determined to win. But in furtherance of the suggestions which the noble Viscount, Lord Trenchard, has made, I would only remark that all the Secretaries of State and Chiefs of Staff have always found themselves in a very difficult position. My noble friend who sits beside me now (Lord Swinton) knows exactly all those difficulties which we went through, and he faced many difficulties of the same kind when he became Secretary of State. But I would venture to say that it is entirely due to the unfaltering persistence of Sir John Salmond and Sir Edward Ellington that the Air Force stands on its present firm basis. They supported me when I was Secretary of State and they were supported from below by those splendid airmen trained by my noble friend here who are responsible for the efficiency of the Air Force as we have seen it during the whole war. I do feel that when my noble friend Lord Trenchard gives us his advice it is a matter to which the Government should direct their fullest attention and I have every reason to hope that they will do so.

Those of us who have been associated with the air for many years know that there has always been this tendency, or rather this endeavour, to break up the Air Force. I remember that in the early days the noble Viscount's great conception was an independent Air Force, something which very few laymen understood at all. He was anxious lest the continual demand from the Navy and the not so persistent demand from the Army would break up the Air Force into two wings, and they would become the subsidiary elements of the Army and the Navy; but thanks to his persistence, thanks to his drive and determination, the independent Air Force was established, and the independent Air Force is what we see to-day, fighting the battle on all fronts, achieving success, and paving the way to final victory. That is why, when these writers speak of difficulties between the Air Force and the Army—the Army Cooperation Squadrons—I am quite sure, and I believe that the noble Viscount thinks so too, that it is merely a matter of liaison between the two Services. There are big enough men on either side to carry this matter to a successful conclusion, and I hope that the advice will not be taken which would tend to break up the Air Force, or rather to separate it into component parts and render its work even more difficult than it is at the present moment.


My Lords, I should like, in common with my noble friends, to give most unqualified support to the plea put forward by the noble Viscount. I do not profess to have any inside or technical knowledge of Air Force matters, but I have some intimate and personal acquaintance with the business of government and with certain Staff questions, and I am filled with absolute consternation by the suggestion, which I know has been authoritatively made, which would result in fact in the duplication of Staff work, in overlapping, and in placing a considerable section of our Air Service under Army command as separate from the independent Air Force. The one thing, I think, which has impressed every one of us in this war has been the freshness of spirit and high quality of the Staff work of the Air Force, and I attribute it myself—and I think a good many others do—to the fact that it was not hidebound by tradition. Of course, tradition has its value but the Air Force was looking out, without being hampered by tradition, for the best and freshest and brightest spirits in the Force, and there was the chance for them to get rapid advancement, which would not have been, and was not, the case in Army Staff circles.

The high quality of the Staff work of the Air Force has, I think, impressed itself upon everybody who can understand what efficiency really means and what it must require in terms of the Staff. As I said the other day in this House on another Motion, a misgiving which I have, and which I know is shared by a good many people, is as to whether the same high quality of Staff work is to be found in the Army as in the Air Force. We did not see it in the anticipation and the programme of equipment of the British Expeditionary Force. The planning of the equipment of that Force showed a lack of vision which if it were continued—and I do not think it will be, because I believe that some of the people who were responsible for it are no longer there—would be highly dangerous. What I think we need to-day is to see that efficient Staff work is ruthlessly required throughout the Army. As things stand, I think that people would be filled with consternation if the suggestion which has been made were given any substantial effect to.

We are greatly indebted to the noble Viscount, with his high authority, for bringing this Motion before us to-day. Surely what is realty wanted is joint Staff work of an efficient kind. There should be no more difficulty in getting efficient Staff co-operation in these matters than there is and has been on multitudes of occasions between the Army and the Navy. We have had numberless instances in our history, and several in this war, where co-operation between the Navy and the Army has been well obtained by joint Staff work, and the same, I am quite sure, could and ought to be obtained with regard to the use of our Air Force. But whilst not meaning to express any opinion on technical matters, on which the noble Viscount is a high authority, I do want with all the emphasis which I can command to give the most hearty support to the general case that he has made.


My Lords, you heard with most alert attention the weighty speech which was delivered by the noble Viscount in introducing his Motion to the House. The Air Force, which he has done so much to build up, is, as your Lordships know, doing magnificent work. The noble Viscount was one of its founders and one of its great architects. He very naturally has a pride in what it is doing, and very naturally he is jealous lest it should be restrained and hampered by wrong or unnecessary machinery. It is therefore a matter of great concern to him to see that efforts are being made in certain quarters to split it up. Your Lordships will be aware that some time ago the Fleet Air Arm was split off from the rest of the R.A.F., and that was not a decision which ought to be repeated. The basic problem to-day, I suggest, is not to get different or, perhaps, perfect machinery, but to obtain air superiority. If this is done the question of air support for the Army will tend to solve itself.

No one is better qualified to speak of the development of the Royal Air Force than the noble Viscount. Apart from his distinguished services during the last war he is, as I have said, the architect of the modern Royal Air Force. It was he who founded the basic organisation of the Force, and to him, more than to anyone else, the country is indebted for the high standard of training which has proved so valuable in recent critical months. The Royal Air Force is therefore, in great part, the child of his mind and, if I may say so, it is not unworthy of its parent. The experience of the last five months has led us to believe that our proved British aptitude for the sea is being supplemented by an equally unmatched aptitude in the air. We owe these young people a great debt of gratitude. It was Buddha, I think, who said, "Do not flatter your benefactors." That is perhaps right, but it cannot be right either to forget or to ignore them, and we should pay that passing tribute to them on this occasion. The work that it has been doing in recent critical months shows that its foundations were well and truly laid. I should personally be most reluctant to reject, or even question, any remarks of Lord Trenchard concerning our future air policy, because what he says must command the greatest respect. Fortunately, however, there is little that, it is necessary for me to say in any sense different from what he stated.

The achievements of the Royal Air Force, in face of an enemy greatly superior in numbers of all types of aircraft, have been so impressive as to make any suggestion for reorganising it on a different basis somewhat superfluous. There can be no doubt, after the stern test of the last five months, that the basic conception of the development of British air power was on thoroughly sound lines. This conception, it may be recalled, was developed in the last war, and replaced a system of divided control which had resulted in a conflict of demands on the available resources and a lack of unified direction in our air effort. The Air Force of to-day, it is right to recall, owes much to the genius of General Smuts, upon whose advice the separate Air Service was created and whose report to the War Cabinet in August, 1917, revealed an almost prophetic insight into air war as it is being waged to-day. The emphasis that Lord Trenchard places on the vital need for developing our air power is fully accepted by His Majesty's Government. The establishment of general air superiority is one of our primary aims. We started the war, as is well known, with a serious numerical deficiency. The greatest efforts are being directed to closing this gap, and it is vital that we should employ our available resources in the most economical fashion.

The need for ensuring a full scale of air support for the Army is fully appreciated by the Air Ministry and the War Office, and is engaging their continuous attention. Air support for a modern Army is admittedly vital. It is required both to shield the Army from attack and to assist in removing obstacles in its path when it moves forward. The view has been expressed in certain quarters that this need can best be met by the creation of a separate Air Force to be at the exclusive disposal of the Army. This is not the view cither of the Air Staff or of the General Staff. Some of the objections to the creation of an Army Air Arm may be mentioned. It should be repeated that, since our available resources are limited, any exclusive allocation of Air Forces to a particular role must diminish to that extent the resources available for the main air war against Germany, upon the results of which all our other efforts admittedly depend. If that exclusive allocation were too small, the Army would suffer, and, if too large, our air effort against the sources of the enemy's strength in Germany would suffer, and with it our efforts to obtain that air superiority which is a pre-requisite of successful military operations. Nor is there a happy mean which could be decided upon in advance. The fact is that the air requirements of the Army will vary with the prevailing tactical and strategic positions. Cases will certainly occur, as they have done in the past, when nothing less than the support of all available Air Forces will suffice. At other times the needs of the Army will be very much smaller. Clearly, therefore, the requirements of the Army must be met by an organisation which permits of the necessary flexibility and allows the maximum bomber force to be employed to assist the Army when required in a particular strategical situation, without detriment at other times to the primary task of the Royal Air Force—namely, the destruction of the enemy's war potential.

Both in offence and defence the air requirements of the Army should be treated, not in isolation, but as part of the air situation as a whole. In particular, it would be most imprudent to lock up a high proportion of our resources in a form which precludes their being exercised at the decisive time and in the decisive direction. The problem, therefore, is to meet the air requirements of the Army in a way that gives them the full support which they undoubtedly require without detracting from our air effort as a whole. The way in which this commitment is met depends on the theatre of operations. It will not be necessary to weary your Lordships with a detailed account of the differing organisations in the various theatres. It will be sufficient to say that the general solution consists in placing a certain number of squadrons under the direct orders of the Army Commanders, and relying upon the main Air Force for the general support which the Army requires in addition, the magnitude of which, as has been previously explained, will vary between very wide limits. This method, which ensures the maximum economy of force, necessitates the training of a number of units in close support methods. The air protection required starts with the factory in this country and extends to the ports of embarkation and the sea routes to the ports of disembarkation and the lines of communication in the theatre of operations. It is far more than a question of support in the area of battle. It is a question of winning the war in the air.

This, then, is our main task at the moment. It is certainly a formidable one, and is made more difficult by the enemy exploitation of the plant and labour in captive countries. However, with the aid of the Empire and of the United States of America, we have every reason for sober confidence in the outcome of this vital struggle. A considerable development of the offensive and defensive strength of the Royal Air Force has been possible during the last five months despite the most intense operations. We may confidently look forward to far greater developments in future months. In these developments the noble Viscount may feel assured, I think, that the strengthening of the offensive arm will receive a full share of attention.


My Lords, I think you will all have heard with profound satisfaction the speech which has just been delivered by the Deputy Leader of the House, and be grateful to my noble friend Lord Trenchard for having given the occasion for making it. It was highly desirable that this question should be raised, and nothing could be more satisfactory than the definite and categorical answer which we have received from His Majesty's Government. It was an answer which showed that the whole policy of the Government in this matter is not a sectional policy or a policy of self-sufficiency, but a real General Staff policy of the three General Stan's working together, and working together, thank God, under one single Minister of Defence, and we could not have a better Minister of Defence than the one we have in the present Prime Minister. As one who has always fought the battle of co-operation against self-sufficiency I rejoice to think that that is going to be carried out to the full in the spirit which my noble friend has indicated. It is not only that there would be hopeless overlapping if any change such as that suggested were made. There is really much more to it even than that. If we could have a superfluity of manufacturing capacity, which, even with all the resources across the seas at our disposal, we have not get, it would still be wrong, because the air can bring to this co-operation with the Army something which the Army can never give, just as the Army can bring something to its co-operation with the air.

The ideal thing where you have a military operation is the strategic command and the strategic policy and conception in the Commander-in-Chief who has charge of operations, and an Air Force supporting him with all the skill and the technical knowledge that an Air Commander work- ing with him and for that purpose subordinate to him can give. But it is not only that, as my noble friend has very well pointed out. One of the tremendous values of air power—and it increases with every development—is its mobility. It is inconceivable that we should divide it up, because if you have a great military operation, or if you have a great naval operation being conducted, it is not merely the squadrons which are for the time being attached to the Army or the Fleet that are required in that action; it is the whole force of the air thrown in miles and miles behind the lines, co-operating with the troops in the attack, bombing lines of communication. Every ounce of air power can be thrown in at the critical moment and at the right spot, and I do indeed rejoice to think that that conception of combined strategy holds the field and will hold the field until victory is won.


My Lords, I would like to thank the noble Lord who gave the Government answer unreservedly. I think it will do a lot of good in the Royal Air Force when they are able to read the noble Lord's statement. There is indeed one thing I would like to say. The noble Lord talked a good deal about the necessity of getting air superiority. I would again emphasize that air superiority depends upon organisation. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.