Victory in 194?

2 minute read

The question every American is asking—How long will the war last?—will be answered only by history. But before so very long, unless men in high places mend their guesses or their talk, the nation may have a bad case of the jitters.

Last week Vice Admiral Frederick J. Horne, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, slugged the nation with a guess calculated to wring the hands and freeze the marrow. Said Admiral Horne: “The main point is that we are planning material and ships for a war that will last at least until 1949. And that is not pessimistic. . . .”

Then Navy Secretary Frank Knox, king of all he’s-up-he’s-down predictors, roared in his bluffest manner: “All talk about an early ending of the war is wishful thinking. It has caused a letup in production and we’re already feeling the effects. . . .It’s just criminal. . . .”

Admiral Horne and his boss were well-intentioned; they were merely doing their salty best to carry out the new official Washington line against “civilian complacency,” one of the causes of the current grave lag in production (TIME, July 26). But many a citizen was bound to recall the strange contrast of Admiral William F. Halsey, who predicted, in a whoopsadaisy mood last January, that he could see U.S. troops marching into Tokyo by the year’s end.

The nation could listen to such statements and take its choice: the war would be over 1) tomorrow, 2) never.

Much sounder, as fact and propaganda, were the sobering statements of Army and civilian production men who began a tour of war plants to whip up nagging enthusiasm. Said Vice Chairman Charles E. Wilson of the War Production Board: “It would be folly to let [early production feats] lull us into a sense of security. As long as war output is short of requirements, we have every cause for worry.”

Said Lieut. General Brehon B. Somervell: “It is easy to say that the 50 trucks or the 200 engines which could not be produced against schedule this month can be made up next month, but a battlefield lost on Tuesday is difficult to regain on Wednesday.”

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