the desert and the balkans
LOOKING BACK upon the unceasing tumult of the war, I cannot recall any period when its stresses and the onset of so many problems all at once or in rapid succession bore more directly on me and my colleagues than the first half of 1941. The scale of events grew larger every year; but the decisions required were not more difficult. Greater military disasters fell upon us in 1942, but by then we were no longer alone and our fortunes were mingled with those of the Grand Alliance. No part of our problem in 1941 could be solved without relation to all the rest. What was given to one theatre had to be taken from another. An effort here meant a risk there. Our physical resources were harshly limited. The attitude of a dozen Powers, friendly, opportunist, or potentially hostile, was unknowable.
At home we must face the war against the U-boats, the invasion threat, and the continuing Blitz; we had to conduct the group of campaigns in the Middle East; and, thirdly, to try to make a front against Germany in the Balkans. And we had to do all this for a long time alone. After shooting Niagara we had now to struggle in the rapids. One of the difficulties of this narrative is the disproportion between our single-handed efforts to keep our heads above water from day to day and do our duty, and the remorseless development of far greater events.
- from pages 3-4, The Grand Alliance