The British Empire battled against powerful military and economic pressure to the totalitarian bloc today in three vast but widely separated fields of conflict.
In all three spheres (Western Europe, the Mediterranean and the Far East) there were renewed threats of big-scale action against British interests, any one of which might strongly influence the trend of European war and the future of many nations.
German continued the campaign of scattered but increasing air attack on British shipping and land objectives, but suffered loss of three planes this morning on the southeast England coast and dealt the power of persistent British counterattacks on base from which any invasion of England would be launched.
British reported they carried the war "to the enemy's camp" today, shot down two German planes above troop concentration points across the Channel.
The British said in the last four weeks they had dropped 37,000 bombs on German territory and the occupied regions, had shot down 307 planes.
Dispatches from London said that Prime Minister Winston Churchill's warning that Britons must keep on their toes against the continued threat of invasion was followed by reports of German military activity in Norway (where troops were being trained in landing operation) and by tidal conditions which during this week would favor an invasion attempt.
During this period of the new moon, as during the period of the full moon, tides are higher than at other times. High tides would aid an invader in landing men and equipment.
A talkative Nazi source in Norway said the German invasion of England would start between Aug. 8 and Aug. 10.
Similar reports, including information regarding extensive precautions in occupied France, have been circulated in recent days. On the basis of past event there was a general tendency to accept the reports as accurate, but it was pointed out that it was the Nazi technique to make threats in a number of directions and at various times in order to conceal both the time and method of striking at the enemy.
Thus it continued impossible for Britons to find any definite intentions or his decision, if it is yet made, whether Germany would attempt an invasion or seek to defeat Britain by aerial blockade.
The German high command reported that German airplanes last night sank a British merchant ship at the entrance to St. George's Channel, between England and Ireland, and bombed oil depots at the Sheerness naval base. The Thames Estuary region also was bombed again.
The pressure of Italian military operations in the Mediterranean zone, including north and eastern Africa, seemed to be increasing and at Cairo it was said in British circles that Premier Benito Mussolini appeared to be throwing every resource into a campaign to take over the Mediterranean, where the Rome press said that Italy intended to control the Suez Canal.
Huge Italian aerial squadrons, sometimes numbering 100 planes, have been attacking British shipping convoys in the Mediterranean and an Italian communique this morning said that 14 British airplanes had been shot down, 10 of them during an attempt to bomb Italian troops marching along the Libyan-Egyptian frontier. The British planes were engaged by Italian craft, the communique said.
It added that a British attack on Namaraput, on the Sudan boundary, had been repulsed. The newspaper Regime Fascista reported that Italian African troops were concentrated for a big-scale action against the British in Kenya colony, a rich region of East Africa into which the Italian have pushed about 30 miles from the Ethiopian frontier.
A British communique issued at Cairo said that six Italian planes had been shot down in two big air fights with the Fascists.
The operations and the threatened operations of Japan in the Far East were no less serious to British and other foreign interests, although hostilities were still in the diplomatic phase.
Dispatches from Tokyo said that the Japanese denied having made any demands for bases in French Indo-China, for extensive trade concessions and for other agreements which would have put that French possession firmly in the Japanese sphere. There appeared to be no doubt, however, that the Japanese government's program called for inclusion of Indo-China in the Tokyo circle of influence and a United Press dispatch from Vichy said that definite demands had been made to France, while part of the Japanese fleet steamed toward the south China border.
Of perhaps greater immediate importance, however, was the conflict between Japan and Britain, which first sought to appease the Tokyo government by cutting off trade to China and then retaliated against Japanese arrests of Britons by seizing about nine prominent Japanese business men in London and other cities of the empire.
The Japanese news agency Domei said the government at Tokyo was determined to take drastic action in event of further deterioration of relations with London as a result of the "illegal" arrest of Japanese and that the Foreign Office had discussed possible countermeasures with military chieftains.
Anti-British demonstrations were being organized by the Japanese, the British officials at Singapore were training a civilian volunteer force and there was apparent recognition on both sides that, with Britain engaged in a life-and-death struggle in Europe, a showdown might be precipitated by Japan in the Orient.
The final course to be adopted by Japan, however, still was to be decided, probably after further reports are received from the Japanese embassy in London. In this connection the Tokyo newspaper Nichi Nichi asserted that the British attitude "is proof" that Britain is working "hand in hand with the United States" in an effort to "disturb" Japanese policy in the Far East.