IN THE AIR: Daily Damage

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Technically speaking, the Battle of Britain came to a pause last week. Some 300-400 enemy planes still flew over the Isles each day but they flew so high, dropped light bombs so vaguely, that long-suffering London felt relatively relaxed despite raid alarms as numerous as ever. A German report that the shiny black glass show-building of Lord Beaverbrook's Daily Express was shattered, proved false. But the historic Middle Temple, shrine of the British bar, with its great oak table said to have been given by the first Queen Elizabeth, was smashed up badly. Most other new damage was sprinkled thinly among residential districts. Londoners felt cheerful enough to grouse about the Government's slowness in bringing up unemployed Welsh miners to clear away debris.

Most fascinating figure of the week: Prime Minister Winston Churchill slipping out of No. 10 Downing Street in tin hat and workman's blue overalls to have a look at the damage.

Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Coventry and other Midlands towns got smacked sharply but sporadically. So did Scotland. The character of the raiding was definitely more psychological than material. Some raiders swooped to machine-gun trains and villages, but not where British fighting planes could catch them at it.

R. A. F.'s reply to the Messerschmitt fighter-bomber was an improved model Hurricane mounting twelve machine guns instead of eight in its wing-edge. As described, one burst from its dozen guns is enough to chop up an enemy plane in the air.

Most interesting news of the week to the R. A. F. was a glowing report from Italy of a fully equipped Fascist squadron (400 planes, plus reserves) about ready to operate from a fancy big new base of its own somewhere near the Channel coast.

In command was said to be General Rino Corso Fougier. Named to be active squadron leader was hard-boiled Ettore Muti, Secretary General of the Fascist Party, a flier of proved ability with a reputation for courage. (He is credited with leading long-range raids on Haifa and, last fortnight, on the Bahrein Islands.) The Corso-Muti squadron was reported attached to the German air fleet commanded by Nazi General Albert Kesselring—but still no Italian planes or pilots were reported over Great Britain by R. A. F., which awaited them with cold-steel curiosity.