LIKE the reasons for people in the UK voting to leave the European Union, those for the famine in Bengal in 1943-44 are not straightforward (Letters, February 6). The decision made by Churchill to limit grain imports to India in order to reduce the effects on ships, thereby assisting the war effort, was deliberate. To that extent it could be said that the famine can be regarded as man-made. To leave it at that, however, would present an incomplete and misleading picture.

In addition, for example, there was a widespread fear in India of Japan invading and tension among the different communities, which provoked panic buying. Moreover, there had been a serious cyclone and tidal waves , which struck Bengal in late 1942; there was a distinct lack of facilities to enable effective and equitable distribution of what food was available; what could be regarded as normal market forces had been severely dislocated by war time demands; and there were the additional demands imposed by the presence of greater numbers of Allied troops and a much larger Indian army.

As in many other matters of debate after the event, I believe that it can be concluded that the answer, if it is to be measured, is often found to be more complicated than some would aver. Churchill, faced with the profound war-time demands imposed upon the UK, played a role in the Bengal famine, during which so many people died. There were, however, many other influences at work.

Ian W Thomson,

38 Kirkintilloch Road, Lenzie.

JOHN Birkett in his defence of Winston Churchill (Letters, February 6) cites Marshall Zhukov as describing the Battle of Britain as the most important of the whole war. Will he kindly supply his source for this since I cannot find any trace in his extensive memoirs or other records? In any event it has no historical basis. The air war over the Channel was a heroic but essentially defensive aftermath of the desperate retreat from Dunkirk.

To paraphrase Churchill “the turning of the tide” was the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk, the biggest land forces engagement in the annals of warfare (some 18 and 12 months respectively before substantial Allied re-engagement on the continent). Brilliantly led by, of course, the said Marshall Zhukov. Who, with Koniev, then advanced remorselessly towards Berlin and the downfall of the Reich.

I also find his assertion that 2.5 million troops from India took part in the European theatre less than credible. So, again, source please?

Leslie Smith,

144-8 Commercial Street, Leith, Edinburgh.