Britain to Honor Russia For Two Years’ Heroism

“Thanks Mainly to Her Valor, Sacrifice, Way Opened to Victory”



London, May 21—June 22, second anniversary of the Soviet Union’s entry into the war, will be marked by big-scale and dramatic celebrations in Great Britain. Not only centrally in London and in several London boroughs, but in cities, towns and villages of the provinces, plans are under way to make them even more widespread and impressive than last year’s great popular demonstrations of alliance and friendship.

The National Conference for British-Soviet Unity, of which the Bishop of Chelmsford is chairman, is the non-party, non-sectarian advisory body which is the clearing house for hundreds of aid and friendship committees dotted over the United Kingdom. It has 260 such active committees affiliated at the moment, functioning regularly, and hundreds of others will be at work from now on to organize the second anniversary celebrations which it is directing.

At the national conference office in London, I found the plans taking shape for the great series of celebrations. Its appeals have pointed out the decisive change in the war situation since the first anniversary. These say: “Thanks mainly to the epic deeds of the Russian army—deeds without parallel in military history—all Hitler’s dreams of world conquest have been shattered and although much bitter fighting and many great sacrifices still lie ahead, the way has been opened to complete Allied victory.”

That is why, it is pointed out, efforts are being made this year for even greater and more impressive demonstrations of appreciation and good-will for the Soviet Union and the Soviet people than were staged last year. These will take place often out of doors to suit local convenience, on dates between June 19 and 27, inclusive.


In London, not only will there be a number of borough demonstrations, but there will be one great central celebration, even greater and more graphic than last year’s show at Empress Hall, Earl’s Court, when 7,000 people attended and many thousands were turned away.

The Bishop of Chelmsford presided at last year’s Empress Hall gathering. The band of His Majesty’s Coldstream Guards played. The feature was a pageant entitled “An Agreement of the Peoples” with music by the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Sir Stafford Cripps, then lord privy seal, appeared for the British Government and the war cabinet and made the chief speech. He said: “Friendship that is based upon admiration only and lacks understanding, is apt to be fragile and easily broken.

“We must therefore do our utmost to increase understanding of the Soviet Union and its people among all classes of our society and we must try our best to give the Soviet people a true picture of our country and our people. Real friendship between peoples depends as much on understanding each other’s weaknesses as in appreciating each other’s virtues. There is much the Russian and British peoples can learn from each other besides the art of war—if we are not afraid to learn—and there is much both countries can contribute to a new philosophy and new practices in the international life of the post-war world.”

Source: Frederick Griffin, "Britain to Honor Russia for Two Years' Heroism," Toronto Daily Star, May 21, 1943

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