Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister):
Before the house enters upon the business of this afternoon I feel I should acquaint hon. members with the situation as it is in Europe at the present time in so far as the government has information that may be regarded as official and wholly authentic.
The military situation in France has become more serious. The Germans, after breaking through the relatively lightly fortified line facing the Belgian border, were held on the south and east. They have, however, after a temporary slowing up, succeeded in making rapid headway toward the west and northwest, particularly down the valley of the Somme. Arras and Amiens are reported by the French authorities to have fallen. The enemy are striving to reach the channel ports and to cut off the Anglo-French forces in Belgium. The enemy have relied upon rapid advance by huge tanks and armoured cars working in close cooperation with diving bombers and followed by infantry.
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It has not been easy for the allied forces to realign their forces and to devise new tactics to meet the unexpectedly rapid advance, but they are straining every effort. The British and French forces have done brave and effective work in attacking enemy bases and lines of communication. The morale of the French armies is unbroken, and the appointment of Marshal Petain and Marshal Wey-gand to the supreme direction has given new confidence. M. Reynaud, in his frank and courageous address to-day, declares, " These two great peoples, two great empires, cannot be defeated. France cannot die." This is the true voice of France. It is equally the voice of Britain and of the entire British commonwealth of nations.
The situation as it apparently exists at the front is changing from hour to hour, aye even from minute to minute. In this, probably one of the darkest hours in the history of our country and empire, we can, however, all take some consolation by reminding ourselves of the past. The Germans were at the gates of Amiens, and the British army separated from the French army, in March, 1918. The hour was grave indeed, yet no one thought of giving up the struggle. Then, thanks to the resiliency and buoyancy of the French character and temperament and the dogged determination and persistence of the British, the line was reformed, reestablished and held, and finally the victory was that of the allied powers.
That is all the information I am in a position to give the house at the moment.
Subtopic: STATEMENT AS TO RECENT DEVELOPMENTS ON WESTERN FRONT