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BRITAIN IN ARMS 

(L'EFFORT BRITANNIQUE) 

BY JULES DESTREE 

WITH A PREFACE BY ^ ^ 

GEORGES CLEMENCEAU 
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH 

^ ^ BY J. LEWIS MAY ^ -^ 



• t > • 4 



LONDON: JOHN LANE THE BODLEY HEAD 
NEW YORK : JOHN LANE COMPANY MCMXVII 



-^ 



^ 






^'^ 



PRINTED BY WILLIAM BRBNDON AND SON, LTD., PLYMOUTH, ENGLAND 



PREFACE 

THIS is not a war for the possession of a 
town, a province, or a colony ; we are 
battling for freedom, for the existence of 
our race. There is now but one great issue at stake, 
and that is to decide which of the two hostile 
groups shall survive and carry on its history through 
the ages. It is a terrible struggle for life or death, 
and to it each nation is bringing its last ounce of 
treasure, its last drop of blood. 

Millions upon millions are being swallowed up and 
lost. When the final signature comes to be written 
at the foot of the treaty of peace, what will be left 
of Europe as once we knew it ? Think of the 
immeasurable devastation ! Of the countless graves ! 
What reck our soldiers ? The war has claimed our 
children ; let it take our children's children. We 
will grudge them not. We will give, and give 
freely, of our possessions, of our flesh and blood. 
All the riches of our soil, all the resources of our 
resolution, we will fling into the crucible. Our 
minds are made up : we will not die. In our com- 
plete self-surrender, the surrender of all that one is 



vi BRITAIN IN ARMS 

and of all that one has, one is inevitably guilty now 
and then of that almost criminal disability to recog- 
nise any but one's own resolution to conquer and 
prone to forget the ardour of one's allies. 

We ourselves are rising to the supreme height of 
sacrifice. Is it possible, we ask, that over there, 
away beyond sea and mountain, our comrades in 
the struggle are fighting with an effort, a spirit of 
determination, commensurate with our own ? 

Terrible is the moment when a man asks himself 
questions such as these. When the oarsman begins 
to dread that his companion is like to fail, he is 
near to feeUng that the full burden of the task is 
weighing on him alone. 

It is well, therefore, that someone should be 
heard from time to time telling us the part 
wrought by each in the fulfilment of the common 
duty. 

Monsieur Destree, in the following pages, speaks 
to us of England, of the effort she is making on sea 
and land, and of the resolution by which she is 
inspired ; and the things he tells us are most 
splendid and reassuring. 

England did not want war. It must be said once 
more to her credit, and, alas ! to her confusion, 
that she had not prepared for it. Had not Belgian 
neutrality been violated, who could say when she 
would have drawn the sword ? 



PREFACE vii 

But now, behold her in the midst of the conflict. 
Slowly, but with a stubborn determination that 
nothing avails to diminish or to daunt, she has 
transformed herself into a military power. 

She has accumulated vast numbers of guns, 
shells, and men. She has fenced herself about with 
four million bayonets. Wheresoever throughout 
all the length and breadth of the earth the noisome 
German weed had taken root, the British Tommy 
has turned up his sleeves and set about clearing 
the ground. 

People render thanks to the British Fleet because, 
without stirring from its stations and without firing 
a shot, it has destroyed the German menace, 
blockaded the enemy's ports, and ensured the 
provisioning of our armies. It is true ! The silence 
of the long vigil it has kept detracts nothing from 
its grandeur. But England's miracle lies not there. 
It is not on the sea that England's miracle has been 
wrought. Dreadnoughts, cruisers, torpedo flotillas — 
these, after all, belonged to the England of tradition. 
The reason why the ancient Northern Island has 
grown in the esteem and admiration of men is that, 
for the first time in her immemorial history, she has 
ceased to be an island, ceased to desire to be but an 
island. 

She has made herself one with the continent of 
Europe by giving those splendid tall sons of hers 



viii BRITAIN IN ARMS 

who are fighting heroically in the Flanders trenches, 
by her guns, her convoys, and, above all, by the 
lofty serenity with which she has accepted (on our 
historic soil) the destiny of suffering and passionate 
strife. 

And the splendour of the deed resides in this — 
that it is not the work of an hour, but the inevitable 
culmination of a history of ten centuries. 

Other nations there are that have shed more 
freely of their life blood on the storied battlefields 
of Europe. Others have withstood the shock of 
mightier assaults, and been called upon to oppose 
with grimmer heroism the onrush of the barbarous 
foe. No other nation has resolved with such 
method and inflexibility to see through to the bitter 
end the task to which it has set its hand. No 
other nation has been conscious of such a com- 
plete metamorphosis in its customs, in the 
exercise of its rights and its claims to individual 
freedom. 

Monsieur Destree, who is, as they used to say of 
Gambetta, one of the most ardent " commercial 
travellers " in Latin culture and the Latin entente, 
and who only ceases to explain Italy to the French 
in order to speak of England to the Italians, has 
said all this and much besides, in a manner that 
cannot be surpassed. 

No one was better qualified than he to speak of 



PREFACE ix 

the great racial hatred which this ghastly war has 
at length brought into being from the ashes of long- 
standing illusions. 

" No longer," he recently declared, " can I call 
any German friend or brother. I cannot take them 
by the hand, for their hands are too deeply dyed 
with the blood of my real friends and brothers, 
with the blood of those toilers of our industrial 
districts who reposed all too generous a trust in the 
influence and sincerity of social democracy. With 
them I will make no treaty, for they have declared 
that treaties are but scraps of paper to be disowned 
whenever their interests so direct. 

" To this I will never assent, now or hereafter. 
But to-day, so long as the toilers of Belgium are com- 
pelled by a Reign of Terror unparalleled in human 
experience to bow to the will of their German con- 
querors, and so long as our land remains under the 
heel of the foe, it seems to me — and will not cease so 
to seem — singularly impossible to parley with the 
invader, even though the mask he wears be the 
mask of Socialism. And what, forsooth, is the sub- 
ject on which we are invited to parley ? Upon 
what questions are we to seek for an agreement ? 
Did we, before the war, ask favours of Germany, 
and have we, since the war began, demanded any- 
thing save our independence, our liberty, and repara- 
tion for the ills that have been wrought us ? What 



X BRITAIN IN ARMS 

imaginable compromise could there be on matters 
such as these ? 

" Even if the questions at issue were of wider 
import, if it were hoped to make use of Belgium 
as a cunning means of subjecting us to the Pax 
Germanica, we could but reply to the emissaries of 
Germany as we made answer to her soldiers : ' No 
thoroughfare.' " 

Brave words these, and well suited to the burn- 
ing will to conquer that animates England and 
Russia, Italy and France, alike. 

This book will strengthen the confidence of our 
brave soldiers and of those who, though not them- 
selves in the firing line, support them with their 
labours. It will also serve to bring home to those 
neutral countries who still need convincing, that 
the Entente Powers must and will be victorious, 
and chiefly so because they have right on their side, 
and not only right but might as well. 

GEORGES CLEMENCEAU 



INTRODUCTORY NOTES 

I WENT recently to spend a few months in 
Italy, where I wished to make known Bel- 
gium's real position in the European War ; 
and, while there, I took part in the movement 
which led Italy to participate in the great conflict. 
It was during my stay that I came to the con- 
clusion that the stupendous character of England's 
effort was not sufficiently realised by our Italian 
friends ; and I was thus led to lay the facts before 
them, desirous of affording them fresh grounds for 
confidence and hope. 

I have been asked to write a French version of 
" Cio che hanno fatto gli Inglesi," and I readily 
comply with the request, for in France, no less than 
in Italy, the part played by England has not in- 
variably met with the appreciation it deserves. 

But, in performing my task, I must crave the 
reader's indulgence for bringing before him a work 
of very modest pretensions, a work which, after all, 
is merely a resume of facts within the reach of 
anyone who reads the newspapers carefully, a 
work in which I have preferred to quote authorita- 



xii BRITAIN IN ARMS 

tive opinions rather than indulge in any reflections 
of my own, a work conscientiously but hastily put 
together and exhibiting all the shortcomings in- 
separable from a topical production. I am under- 
taking the task because it seems to me that in a 
protracted conflict such as the present, confidence 
is just as necessary to the civil population as are 
munitions to the soldiers in the field. Day after 
day we are called upon to be on our guard against 
over-anxiety, weariness of spirit and discourage- 
ment, and I know of nothing better calculated to 
stiffen our resolution than an investigation of the 
achievements standing to the credit of the Enghsh 
people. 

That so formidable an undertaking as theirs has 
been unmarked by failures and miscalculations it 
would be foolish to deny. But it would be infinitely 
more foolish to confine our attention solely to the 
failures and miscalculations and to take no account 
of the solid grounds which justify our confidence 
of victory, and so important are those grounds and 
so decisive that they leave in our minds no room for 
misgiving. 

England, no less than France, has confronted the 
crisis with an energy so virile as profoundly to sur- 
prise those who thought that exhaustion had come 
upon her and that she was unworthy of wielding the 
sceptre that had formerly been hers. Her Navy is 



INTRODUCTORY NOTES xiii 

still the finest in the world, she is still ruler of the 
waves ; her wealth is inexhaustible, and she has 
placed it unstintingly at the disposal of the common 
cause ; her Army, which scarcely existed at the 
outbreak of war, is slowly and surely assuming the 
proportions of the armies of the Continent. 

The moment we bethink ourselves of these 
fundamental truths, the moment we devote our- 
selves to a detailed examination of this inflexible 
determination to win, the forebodings of dark days 
disappear and the certainty of triumph takes their 
place. 

All propaganda work, however modest its scope, 
which increases international confidence, is a 
preparation for the better days to come, and every 
one of us should consider it his duty to undertake 
it. For a Belgian like myself, it is doubly a duty, 
it is an attempt to discharge a debt of gratitude 
due to England and to France. y j) 

I take this opportunity of gratefully recording 
the obligation I am under to my friend. Monsieur 
I Richard Dupiereux, for the generous assistance he 
has rendered me. 

Rome, 

End of February ^ igj6. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER 

I. How England, though anxious for Peace, 

FOUND HERSELF INVOLVED IN THE WAR 

II. German Grievances against England 

III. The Work of the Fleet 

IV. The Military Effort— The Army of Yes 
terday . ... 

V. The Military Effort— The Army To-day 

VI. The Military Effort from the Industrial 
Point of View 

VII. The Financial Effort . 

VIII. Diplomatic Activities . 
IX. The Union of Kingdom and Empire . 



3 

55 
71 

117 

137 

189 
205 
236 
239 



X. Why we should have Confidence in Eng- 
land. . . . . 269 



i 



BRITAIN IN ARMS 



BRITAIN IN ARMS 



CHAPTER I 

HOW ENGLAND, THOUGH ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 
FOUND HERSELF INVOLVED IN THE WAR 

''LA PER FIDE ALBION'' 

NO stock saying has been more vigorously 
exploited by the agents of Germany than 
that which speaks of England's perfidy. 
The countless variations that have been composed 
on this theme, accepted without thought or enquiry 
by the superficial, have helped to create a body of 
opinion unfavourable to England. There are people 
who deem her capable only of following a policy 
of selfishness and of being quite ready, if her in- 
terests required it, to achieve her aim by means of 
a more or less questionable character, limiting her- 
self to staking her money on a good sporting 
chance, and so arranging matters as to leave the 
real sacrifice to others. 
Now that I am about to endeavour to enlighten 



4 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

"the .public ■lie.g^.r'cJing the importance of England's 
share in the present war, I must beg the reader to 
divest himself of this prejudice, and to look at the 
matter in the light of the real facts of the case. 
If it is desired to estimate England's perfdrmance in 
its true proportions, it is essential not to allow our 
vision to be obscured by ready-made ideas and 
by preconceptions arising from ignorance and 
misapprehension of the true English character. 

The English have their faults, no doubt, but per- 
fidy is not one of them. The Englishman — and a 
few months in England will suffice to prove it — is 
not given to double-deahng. It was not on him 
that the gift of speech was bestowed in order that 
he might conceal his thoughts. He speaks out sin- 
cerely, artlessly almost, what is in his mind — no 
more and no less. Sophistry and subtlety do not 
belong to him. The Southern races, who are quick 
to understand, who seize an idea before it is com- 
pletely expressed, who are prompt to divine innu- 
endoes and mental reservations, are completely at 
fault when they credit the English with that intel- 
lectual finesse familiar to themselves. The English- 
man is slow of comprehension, and he does not 
mean more than his words convey. Anything of an 
underhand nature displeases him and puts him out. 
Sincerity, real or assumed, disarms him, because it 
never enters his head to suspect the existence of 



ANXIOUS FOR PEAiCE '5 

trickery and subterfuge. " Hones t.37 * h "fehe -iSe'st' 
policy." Plain, straightforward measures alone can 
hope to find favour with the English people. 

This intellectual slowness may be a drawback, 
a defect ; in some circumstances it is almost ex- 
asperating. The English only realise a danger when 
they are directly threatened by it, when the peril 
is before them palpable, imminent, and undeniable. 
But from other points of view this trait of the 
English character is a fine quality, for it implies 
good faith and is calculated to inspire confidence. 
When at length he grasps the situation an English- 
man knows how to act, and to act with stubborn- 
ness and tenacity. He makes no empty promises. 

The opening of Negotiations 

For anyone who has succeeded in recognising 
these fundamental characteristics of EngHsh psy- 
chology, the German tale about the war being due 
to the machinations of England and pursued by her 
for her own ends, is absurd on the face of it. One 
must be possessed of a really Teutonic obtuse- 
ness to absorb it. 

The EngHsh diplomatic correspondence has been 
made public. Nothing could be clearer or more 
convincing than the evidence these documents 
afford. They show conclusively that during the 
latter days of July, 1914, those at the head of affairs 



6 filllTAIN IN ARMS 

ill* 'EriglaLnd-^an<5 . particularly Sir Edward Grey, 
the Minister for Foreign Affairs — had but one 
thought and one desire, and that was to ensure the 
peace of Europe. Not only did they endeavour to 
localise the scourge, but they apparently never 
realised that they themselves migl^t be drawn into 
the fray. 

On the 23rd July Sir Edward Grey wrote to the 
British Ambassador at Vienna as follows : 

Foreign Office, 

23rd July, 1914. 

Sir Edward' Grey to Sir M. de Bunsen, British 
Ambassador at Vienna 

It had been represented to me that it would be 
very desirable that those who had influence in 
St. Petersburg should use it on behalf of patience 
and moderation. I had replied that the amount 
of influence that could be used in this sense would 
depend upon how reasonable were the Austrian 
demands and how strong the justification that 
Austria might have discovered for making her 
demands. The possible consequences of the present 
situation were terrible. If as many as four Great 
Powers of Europe — let us say, Austria, France, 
Russia and Germany — ^were engaged in war, it 
seemed to me that it must involve the expenditure 
of so vast a sum of money, and such an interference 
with trade, that a war would be accompanied or 
followed by a complete collapse of European credit 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 7 

and industry. In these days, in great industrial 
States, this would mean a state of things worse than 
that of 1848, and, irrespective of who were victors 
in the war, many things might be completely swept 
away. 

On the 24th July he telegraphs : 

Foreign Office, 

24th July, 1914. 

Sir Edward Grey to Sir M. de Bunsen, British 

Ambassador at Vienna 

I added that I felt great apprehension, and that 
I should concern myself with the matter simply 
and solely from the point of view of the peace of 
Europe. The merits of the dispute between Austria 
and Serbia were not the concern of His Majesty's 
Government, and such comments as I had made 
above were not made in order to discuss those 
merits. 

The same day he replied to Serbia's appeal some- 
what ciu-tly as follows : 

No. 12 

Foreign Office, 

24th July, 1 9 14. 

Sir Edward Grey to Mr. Crackanthorpe, British 
Charge d' Affaires at Belgrade 

Serbia ought to promise that, if it is proved that 
Serbian officials, however subordinate they may be. 



8 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

were accomplices in the murder of the Archduke at 
Serajevo, she will give Austria the fullest satis- 
faction. She certainly ought to express concern 
and regret. For the rest, Serbian Government must 
reply to Austrian demands as they consider best in 
Serbian interests. 

Next day, we find the British Ambassador at 
St. Petersburg, Sir G. Buchanan, urgently repre- 
senting to the Minister for Foreign Affairs that 
Russia should not precipitate war by mobilising 
before England had had an opportunity of taking 
steps to preserve peace. 

Saint Petersburg, 

2Sth July, 1914. 

Sir G. Buchanan, British Ambassador at St. 

Petersburg, to Sir Edward Grey [received 

25th July) 

On my expressing the earnest hope that Russia 
would not precipitate war by mobilising until you 
had had time to use your influence in favour of 
peace, his Excellency assured me that Russia had 
no aggressive intentions. 

To this Sir Edward Grey replied : 

Foreign Office, 

2Sth July, 1914. 

I do not consider that public opinion here would 
or ought to sanction our going to war over a Serbian 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 9 

quarrel. If, however, war does take place, the 
development of other issues may draw us into it, 
and I am therefore anxious to prevent it. 

The sudden, brusque, and peremptory character 
of the Austrian demarche makes it almost inevitable 
that in a very short time both Russia and Austria 
will have mobilised against each other. In this 
event, the only chance of peace, in my opinion, is for 
the other four Powers to join in asking the Austrian 
and Russian Governments not to cross the frontier, 
and to give time for the four Powers acting at 
Vienna and St. Petersburg to try and arrange 
matters. If Germany will adopt this view, I feel 
strongly that France and ourselves should act upon 
it. Italy would no doubt gladly co-operate. 

On the 27th July he wrote to Sir E. Goschen, 
Ambassador at Berlin, to inform him of the result 
of an interview he had had with the German Am- 
bassador in London : 

Foreign Office, 

zjth July, 1914. 

Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Goschen, British 
Ambassador in Berlin 

I recalled what German Government had said as 
to the gravity of the situation if the war could not 
be localised, and observed that if Germany assisted 
Austria against Russia it would be because, without 
any reference to the merits of the dispute, Germany 
could not afford to see Austria crushed. Just so 



lo BRITAIN IN ARMS 

other issues might be raised that would supersede 
the dispute between Austria and Serbia, and would 
bring other Powers in, and the war would be the 
biggest ever known ; but as long as Germany would 
work to keep the peace I would keep closely in touch. 

As far on then as the 27th July Sir Edward Grey 
had seen in these events notliing more than a quarrel 
between Austria and Serbia. This in itself had no 
interest for him, and he only occupied himself with 
the matter because of the consequences that might 
ensue therefrom — consequences which he hoped, 
with Germany's aid, to avoid by mediation. 

To understand the strange illusions that England 
was labouring under in regard to Germany, it be- 
hoves us to bear in mind the influence which was 
wielded by Germany's agents in England. Mr. 
Wickham Steed, Foreign Editor of The Times, one 
of the most deeply versed in international politics 
of all European journalists, explained it in a lecture 
he delivered in Paris : 

Towards the end of May, 191 1, the Emperor 
William had met with a cordial reception in London 
— as grandson of Queen Victoria — when he came 
over to be present at the unveiling of the statue 
erected to her memory. Did the Emperor mistake 
the nature of the welcome that was then accorded 
to him ? Possibly he did. At all events he thought 
he could throw down the gauntlet to France some 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE ll 

months later without stirring up England. When 
Mr. Lloyd George's speech put him right on this 
point he altered his tactics. He set about in- 
gratiating himself with England by slow and subtle 
means. The celebrated Ambassador, Marshal von 
Bieberstein, whose appointment to London had 
awakened the suspicions of the English, had died 
before he had had an opportunity of undertaking 
the work he had set himself to perform. The 
Emperor William appointed in his stead a diplomat 
of Polish origin. Prince Lichnowsky, who possessed 
all the necessary qualifications for disarming preju- 
dice. Calm, courteous, and a very great aristocrat, 
he was a man whose good faith and goodwill were 
beyond all question. He was most ably seconded 
by his wife, a very distinguished Bavarian woman, 
with a somewhat French cast of mind. Prince 
Lichnowsky, then, quickly succeeded in making 
himself a considerable influence in London Society. 
Side by side with him, but out of sight, worked 
Herr von Kuhlmann, the skilful wire-puller, 
who, after organising the landing of the Emperor 
William at Tangier in 1905, had succeeded in gaining 
for himself the Imperial favour. Herr von Kuhl- 
mann displayed the most multifarious activity. 
He got into touch with every journalist, great or 
small, whom he thought capable of advancing his 
ends. He skilfully beguiled the publicists, and 
having crowned them with chaplets, caused them 
to be invited to his Ambassador's board, where they 
found themselves side by side with the aristocracy 
of their country. By his genial bonhomie he 



12 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

managed to enlist many sympathies and even 
to convince the poHticians and the staff of the 
Foreign Office of his excellent intentions. He 
multiplied the bonds of union between the Embassy 
and the cosmopolitan coteries of la haute finance 
and deftly availed himself of the influence of the 
German Steamship Companies. 

Thoroughly to appreciate how ably he went to 
work, it must be remarked that German diplomacy 
had been clever enough to select the one means of 
conciliating English sympathies. Nothing exerts 
such a hold on the English character as sincerity. 
Cleverness makes little impression upon it. Brilli- 
ance may arouse admiration, but it also arouses 
mistrust. Straightforwardness, on the other hand, 
real or apparent, always finds the way to an English- 
man's heart — a singular but undeniable character- 
istic of a nation that has borne for centuries a 
reputation for hypocrisy and double-dealing. The 
Balkan crisis then came to the assistance of German 
policy. At the commencement of the war between 
the Balkan allies and Turkey, the diplomats and 
Generals at Berlin and Vienna expected to see 
Bulgaria held in check by the main body of the 
Turkish forces, while other Turkish armies were 
disposing of Greece and Serbia. They calculated 
that after the defeat of Serbia, Austria would have 
held out a " protecting " hand to the latter and 
would have concluded an understanding with the 
Young Turks whereby she would have had free 
access to Salonica. It is important to note this 
miscalculation because at the bottom of it lies one 
of the chief causes of the present war. The Serbian 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 13 

victory at Kumanovo in November, 1912, was a 
bitter disappointment for Austria. At Vienna, 
where I was residing at the time, there was a sort 
of melancholy presentiment of a destiny that was 
moving towards its fulfilment, to a death-bed scene 
as it were. A few days after the battle of Kumanovo, 
a friend of General Konrad von Hotzendorf's, Chief 
of the Austro-Hungarian General Staff, came to 
explain to me the ideas of the latter, and asked me 
if I did not approve of them. " The Chief of the 
Staff," said this friend of his, " is convinced that 
the only way to save Austria would be to deliver 
an immediate and heavy blow at Serbia and Russia. 
We could topple them over," he added, " before 
they had time to say ' knife,' and the monarchy 
would be set firmly on its legs again for another 
fifty years at least." 

Germany also counted on the very real need 
which English politicians had for peace at this 
period. The Irish question, the great strike, the 
suffragette movement, the administration of the 
Old Age Pension Fund all called for the constant 
attention of parliamentarians. The idea of having 
to take part in a European conflict brought about 
by the Balkan question was highly distasteful to 
British statesmen and almost incomprehensible to 
the great mass of the people, who had foolishly been 
left in ignorance of foreign politics. German 
diplomacy employed every means in its power to 
foster this reluctance, to add to the popular ignor- 
ance and to embitter the domestic feuds. The 
British Government never suspected this under- 
hand work, nor did it realise any the more that the 



14 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

eagerness for peace manifested by Germany at 
the conference of Ambassadors was chiefly a ruse 
to gain time for the reconstruction of her Army. 
In England people felt grateful to Germany for her 
pacific policy, and of this gratitude Germany made 
skilful use, taking the opportunity of proposing 
agreements with regard to the Bagdad railway and 
other questions still more dangerous. England 
suffered herself to fall into those traps and did not 
discover the true state of affairs until after the 
present war had begun. 

The efforts at mediation receive a check 

Sir Edward Grey, then, had relied on the support 
of Germany for the success of his attempt at media- 
tion. He received from Sir M. de Bunsen, the 
British Ambassador at Vienna, a dispatch (No. 32), 
stating that the German Ambassador approved the 
high-handed attitude of Austria, and had declared 
to him that, so far as Germany was concerned, she 
thoroughly understood what she was doing in 
lending her support to Austria. Next day. Sir 
M. de Bunsen added the following : 

No. 41 

Vienna, 

2yth July, 1914. 

Sir M. de Bunsen, British Ambassador at Vienna, 
to Sir Edward Grey (received zyth July) 

The impression left on my mind is that the Austro- 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 15 

Hungarian note was so drawn up as to make war 
inevitable ; that the Austro-Hungarian Govern- 
ment are fully resolved to have war with Serbia ; 
that they consider their position as a Great Power 
to be at stake ; and that until punishment has been 
administered to Serbia it is unlikely that they will 
listen to proposals of mediation. This country has 
gone wild with joy at the prospect of war with 
Serbia, and its postponement or prevention would 
undoubtedly be a great disappointment. 

About the same time (27th July) France was 
signifying her acceptance (No. 42) and Germany 
her refusal (No. 43) of the English proposals. As 
the German refusal was veiled beneath objections 
with regard to form and procedure, Sir Edward 
Grey telegraphed to his country's Ambassador at 
Berlin to fall in with any method of procedure 
Germany might propose, and the following day, the 
29th July (No. 77), he instructed him to inform the 
Chancellor as follows : 

No. 77 

Foreign Office, 

2(^th July, 1914. 

Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Goschen, British 
Ambassador at Berlin 

His Excellency may rely upon it that this country 
will continue, as heretofore, to strain every effort 
to secure peace and to avert the calamity we all 



i6 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

fear. If he can induce Austria to satisfy Russia 
and to abstain from going so far as to come into 
collision with her, we shall all join in deep gratitude to 
his Excellency for having saved the peace of Europe. 

On the 29th July three important telegrams 
passed between London and Berlin. 

The first was Sir Edward Grey's supreme effort 
to secure a peaceful solution of the difficulty. 

No. 84 
Foreign Office, 

2()th July, 1914. 

Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Goschen, British 
Ambassador at Berlin 

I urged that the German Government should 
suggest any method by which the influence of the 
four Powers could be used together to prevent war 
between Austria and Russia. France agreed, Italy 
agreed. The whole idea of mediation or mediating 
influence was ready to be put into operation by 
any method that Germany could suggest if mine 
was not acceptable. In fact mediation was ready 
to come into operation by any method that Germany 
thought possible if only Germany would " press the 
button " in the interests of peace. 

To this Germany does not so much as reply. 
She had determined on war, and now threw aside 
the mask. She asked Great Britain the conditions 
of her neutrality. 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 17 

No. 85 

Berlin, 

2gth July, 1914. 

Sir E. Goschen, British Ambassador at Berlin, 
to Sir Edward Grey (received 2gth July) 

He then proceeded to make the following strong 
bid for British neutrality. He said that it was clear, 
so far as he was able to judge the main principle 
which governed British policy, that Great Britain 
would never stand by and allow France to be 
crushed in any conflict there might be. That, 
however, was not the object at which Germany 
aimed. Provided that neutrality of Great Britain 
were certain, every assurance would be given to the 
British Government that the Imperial Government 
aimed at no territorial acquisitions at the expense 
of France should they prove victorious in any war 
that might ensue. 

I questioned his Excellency about the French 
colonies, and he said that he was unable to give a 
similar undertaking in that respect. As regards 
Holland, however, his Excellency said that so long 
as Germany's adversaries respected the integrity 
and neutrality of the Netherlands Germany was 
ready to give His Majesty's Government an assur- 
ance that she would do likewise. It depended upon 
the action of France what operations Germany 
might be forced to enter upon in Belgium, but when 
the war was over, Belgian integrity would be re- 
spected if she had not sided against Germany. 

His Excellency ended by saying that ever since 



i8 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

he had been Chancellor the object of his policy had 
been, as you were aware, to bring about an under- 
standing with England ; he trusted that these 
assurances might form the basis of that under- 
standing which he so much desired. He had in 
mind a general neutrality agreement between 
England and Germany, though it was of coiirse at 
the present moment too early to discuss details, 
and an assurance of British neutrality in the conflict 
which present crisis might possibly produce, would 
enable him to look forward to realisation of his desire. 
In reply to his Excellency's enquiry how I 
thought his request would appeal to you, I said that 
I did not think it probable that at this stage of 
events you would care to bind yourself to any 
course of action and that I was of opinion that you 
would desire to retain full liberty. 

Then it was that Sir Edward Grey's eyes were 
opened to the danger. And now see with what 
admirable and scrupulous loyalty he feels himself 
constrained to define his attitude towards both 
Germany and France. 

No. 89 

Foreign Office, 

2qth July, 1914. 

Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Goschen, British 
Ambassador at Berlin 

I hoped that the friendly tone of our conversa- 
tions would continue as at present, and that I 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 19 

should be able to keep as closely in touch with the 
German Government in working for peace. But if 
we failed in our efforts to keep the peace, and if the 
issue spread so that it involved practically every 
European interest, I did not wish to be open to any 
reproach from him that the friendly tone of all our 
conversations had misled him or his Government 
into supposing that we should not take action, and 
to the reproach that, if they had not been so misled, 
the course of things might have been different. 

And he immediately sends the following dignified 
reply to Germany's questions regarding neutrality : 

No. loi 

Foreign Office, 

ydth July, 1914. 
Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Goschen, British 
Ambassador at Berlin 

His Majesty's Government cannot for a moment 
entertain the Chancellor's proposal that they should 
bind themselves to neutrality on such terms. 

What he asks us in effect is to engage to stand 
by while French colonies are taken and France is 
beaten so long as Germany does not take French 
territory as distinct from the colonies. 

From the material point of view such a proposal 
is unacceptable, for France, without further terri- 
tory in Europe being taken from her, could be so 
crushed as to lose her position as a Great Power, 
and become subordinate to German policy. 

Altogether apart from that, it would be a disgrace 



90 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

for us to make this bargain with Germany at the 
expense of France, a disgrace from which the good 
name of this country would never recover. 

The Chancellor also in effect asks us to bargain 
away whatever obligation or interest we have as 
regards the neutrality of Belgium. We could not 
entertain that bargain either. 

What more could be done? 

What, I ask any conscientious reader, could have 
been done in the interests of peace that England 
failed to do ? 

She did not know then that Austria's attack on 
Serbia had been decided on long before. Monsieur 
Giolitti has since disclosed to us, in a speech delivered 
before the Italian Chamber, that it was, in fact, pro- 
jected as far back as the year 1913. England be- 
lieved in Germany's pacific declarations, and never 
suspected her of double-dealing. It was precisely 
because she herself was innocent of any perfidious 
designs that she failed to understand immediately 
the monstrous scheme to which the Central Empires 
were committed, and by which they aimed at secur- 
ing for themselves the hegemony of the world. 
Innocent of such ambitions herself, England did 
not believe they were really harboured by others. 

The diplomatic influence which she wielded as 
a great Power she employed wholly and unre- 
servedly on the side of peace. 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 21 

The agents of Germany have taxed England 
with having attempted to bring pressure to bear 
on Bedin, and with endeavouring to compass her 
humiUation. How mischievous is this argument! 
Did not England exert similar pressure at Belgrade 
without any undue consideration for Serbian sus- 
ceptibilities ? Did she not make a like attempt at 
Vienna with every regard for form and ceremony ? 

But the pro-German pamphleteers have revived 
the same argument again, alleging that France and 
Russia had been secretly egged on by England. So 
far as France is concerned the lecture of Mr. Wick- 
ham Steed, which we have already quoted, contains 
a frank avowal that the hesitating attitude of the 
British Government in July, 1914, gave rise to a 
distinctly unfavourable impression in France. That 
sufficiently disposes of the German allegations. 

In three diplomatic documents Sir Edward Grey, 
with a view to obviating all misunderstanding, had 
explicitly stated that he did not intend to commit 
himself : 

Enclosure i in No. 105 
Foreign Office, 

22nd November, 1912. 

Sir Edward Grey to M. Cambon, French 
Ambassador in London 
My dear Ambassador, 

From time to time in recent years the French 
and British naval and military experts have con- 



22 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

suited together. It has always been understood 
that such consultation does not restrict the free- 
dom of either Government to decide at any future 
time whether or not to assist the other by armed 
force. We have agreed that consultation between 
experts is not, and ought not to be regarded as 
an engagement that commits either Government to 
action in a contingency that has not arisen and may 
never arise. The disposition, for instance, of the 
French and British fleets respectively at the present 
moment is not based upon an engagement to co- 
operate in war. 

You have, however, pointed out that, if either 
Government had grave reason to expect an unpro- 
voked attack by a third Power, it might become 
essential to know whether it could in that event 
depend upon the armed assistance of the other. 

I agree that, if either Government had grave 
reason to expect an unprovoked attack by a third 
Power, or something that threatened the general 
peace, it should immediately discuss with the other 
whether both Governments should act together to 
prevent aggression and to preserve peace, and, if 
so, what measures they would be prepared to take 
in common. 

No. ii6 

Foreign Office, 

31st July, 1914. 

Sir Edward Grey to Sir F. Bertie, British 

Ambassador at Paris 
We cannot undertake a definite pledge to inter- 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 23 

vene in a war. I have so told the French Ambassa- 
dor, who has urged His Majesty's Government to 
reconsider this decision. 

I have told him that we should not be justified 
in giving any pledge at the present moment, but 
that we will certainly consider the situation again 
directly there is a new development. 

No. 119 

Foreign Office, 

31st July, 1914. 
Sir Edward Grey to Sir F. Bertie, British 
Ambassador at Paris 
Sir, 

M. Cambon referred to-day to a telegram 
that had been shown to Sir Arthur Nicolson this 
morning from the French Ambassador in Berlin, 
saying that it was the uncertainty with regard to 
whether we would intervene which was the en- 
couraging element in Berlin, and that, if we would 
only declare definitely on the side of Russia and 
France, it would decide the German attitude in 
favour of peace. 

I said that it was quite wrong to suppose that we 
had left Germany under the impression that we 
would not intervene. I had refused overtures to 
promise that we should remain neutral. I had not 
only definitely declined to say that we would re- 
main neutral, I had even gone so far this morning 
as to say to the German Ambassador that, if France 
and Germany became involved in war, we should 
be drawn into it. That, of course, was not the same 



24 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

thing as taking an engagement to France, and I 
told M. Cambon of it only to show that we had not 
left Germany under the impression that we would 
stand aside. 

M. Cambon then asked me for my reply to what 
he had said yesterday. 

I said that we had come to the conclusion, in the 
Cabinet to-day, that we could not give any pledge 
at the present time. Though we should have to 
put our policy before Parliament, we could not 
pledge Parliament in advance. Up to the present 
moment, we did not feel, and public opinion did 
not feel, that any treaties or obligations of this 
country were involved. Further developments 
might alter this situation and cause the Govern- 
ment and Parliament to take the view that inter- 
vention was justified. The preservation of the 
neutrality of Belgium might be, I would not say 
a decisive, but an important factor, in determining 
our attitude. Whether we proposed to ParHament 
to intervene or not to intervene in a war. Parlia- 
ment would wish to know how we stood with regard 
to the neutrahty of Belgium, and it might be that 
I should ask both France and Germany whether 
each was prepared to undertake an engagement 
that she would not be the first to violate the 
neutrality of Belgium. 

M. Cambon repeated his question whether we 
would help France if Germany made an attack on 
her. 

I said that I could only adhere to the answer 
that, as far as things had gone at present, we could 
not make any engagement. 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 2-5 

With Russia the position was identical. Russia 
had agreed to submit the point at issue to the 
Hague Tribunal. England seconded this desirable 
attitude. It would be impossible to adduce not 
only any instance of incitement to war on her part, 
but even any promise of moral support. In the 
absence of documentary evidence, the Germans 
have made the most of a letter intercepted by 
them, in which an attache of the Belgian Embassy, 
Monsieur de TEscaille, writing on the 30th July, 
1 9 14, expressed himself as follows : " The assurance 
that England will come to the aid of France is of 
decisive importance, and has brought about the 
triumph of the war party." The documents we 
have just quoted (Nos. 116 and 119) show how 
gravely Monsieur de I'Escaille — always supposing 
that he wrote what is ascribed to him — was mis- 
informed. England had not promised aid to France. 
The only statement made by England to Russia 
regarding the possibilities of intervention was dated 
27th July (No. 47), and it lays down emphatically 
that they (the Russians) must not rely on anything 
beyond diplomatic action. 

Thus, when it is judged in the light of the official 
documents. Monsieur de I'Escaille 's assertion loses 
all significance. 



26 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

The support given to France 

The promise of support to France was only given 
on the 2nd of August, and is therefore subsequent 
to Germany's declaration of war on Russia. It 
was conditional and limited. It merely fore- 
shadowed a naval protection of the French coasts 
in case they were threatened by Germany. 

Mr. Ellis Barker has given an excellent account 
of the reasons for this : 

Was England justified in giving to France this 
conditional and limited promise ? Englishmen 
beheve that she was — and that for the following 
reasons. 

In the first place, Germany has been occupied 
during the twentieth century in building a large 
and menacing fleet. To meet that menace England 
has of late years concentrated her fleet more and 
more in the North Sea. On the other hand, France 
has concentrated her fleet more and more in the 
Mediterranean. This concentration has been possible 
on both sides, because of the confidence and friend- 
ship which existed between England and France. 
But this concentration has entailed duties on both 
sides. If a sudden emergency arose in the Mediter- 
ranean, which required prompt and vigorous action, 
France would naturally undertake as her duty the 
task of meeting that emergency. If a sudden 
emergency arose in the North Sea, which required 
such action, England would equally undertake as 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 27 

her duty the task of meeting the emergency. By 
August 2 the emergency had arisen, and the duty 
of England was plain. And if it is urged that the 
plan of concentration in the North Sea and in the 
Mediterranean ought not to have been followed, 
the answer is also plain. That plan was forced 
on the two countries by the rapid growth of the 
German fleet, for which neither England nor 
France, but Germany alone, was responsible. 

But, in the second place, England had another, 
and a larger and deeper, duty to France. France, 
like England, is a democracy. France is one of the 
greatest democracies of the world. She is one of 
the great treasure-houses of European civilisation ; 
she is one of the great seed-beds of liberal thought 
and ideas. Would England have been right to 
watch, unconcerned and without one proffer of any 
sort of aid, the crushing by military force of that 
democracy ; the rifling of that treasure-house, the 
trampling down of that seed-bed ? It is impossible 
to answer " Yes.'* There are duties which one 
nation owes to another in the name and the cause 
of the common civihsation which unites all great 
and free nations. There has been no finer prophet 
of those duties than the great Italian, Mazzini. 
Mazzini taught that it was the sacred duty of every 
nation to use every atom of its influence for great 
European causes. Nation, he taught, is mission. 
*' A nation,'* as one of his interpreters has written, 
" is guilty of the great refusal if it do not stand 
forward and take its place, to the limits of its 
power, in international politics." England dared 
not be guilty of the great refusal. 



28 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

On thus reading over once more these extracts 
from the British Blue Book, Sir Edward Grey 
comes before us as an honest, straightforward, and 
truthful man, slow to attribute evil intentions to 
others, and fostering to the very last his pacifist 
illusions. He is the type and symbol of the people 
of whose destinies he had charge. 

But in the case of a country Hke England it is of 
essential importance to note this, namely, that Sir 
Edward Grey is not the Minister of an absolute 
monarch, but of a free people very tenacious of its 
Uberties. In England, a Minister for Foreign Affairs 
does not decide on war, however eminently necessary 
that war may be to the safety of the country. The 
nation must first understand the necessity for it. 
The private and personal consent, so to speak, of 
each and every citizen is particularly indispensable 
in a self-governing democracy where military 
service rests on a voluntary basis. 

Of all the countries now engaged in war it took 
England longest to understand the nature of the 
present conflict. At least a year of fighting was 
necessary to bring home to the English people that 
it was their future and their very existence as an 
Empire that were at stake. But in July of 19 14, 
few, indeed, were possessed of this insight. The 
party in power professed a pacifism that came 
near to naivete ; the Socialist groups were all 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 29 

more or less imbued with pro-German sympathies. 
Finally, domestic politics absorbed the whole of 
public attention. Let me, once again, quote Mr. 
Wickham Steed. 

Why did the British Government continue to 
hesitate ? At present after nine months of war it 
is easy to criticise and blame its indecision. But 
if you would be just you must examine more 
closely the circumstances in which it was placed in 
July. The Liberal Party, which was in power, 
desired peace, was bent on peace. It had em- 
barked upon a poHcy of domestic reform which had 
aroused a deal of enthusiasm and a deal of opposi- 
tion. The Home Rule Question, Social Reform, the 
Welsh Disestablishment Bill, and other less impor- 
tant questions were keeping the public mind in a 
state of acute tension that was still further increased 
by the Suffragette outrages. The future will per- 
haps reveal the share, doubtless considerable, played 
by German agents and German gold in these disturb- 
ances. Be that as it may it is certain that the effect 
of these domestic quarrels had been to distract the 
attention of the public from foreign politics and to 
concentrate it on the activities of Parliament and the 
Cabinet. Parliament had long since ceased to take 
any interest in great international questions. The 
members of the two principal political parties spoke, 
voted and acted according to the orders of the 
chiefs of their electoral ' * machinery. ' ' The principal 
departments of State had become so many little 
autocracies, each acting for itself. The Govern- 



30 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

ment was quite out of touch with the country save 
on domestic questions. The July crisis found it 
bewildered and without any landmark to guide it 
in any definite foreign policy. The Minister for 
Foreign Affairs was afraid that he would incur the 
opposition of the Radicals who formed the bulk of 
the ministerial forces, if his policy were to show signs 
of outstripping the feelings of his party. Nor could 
he rely on the immediate support of the Unionist 
Party, although its leaders held broader and 
healthier views on the subject of international 
politics. The whole aim of the Conservative Party 
had for a long time been to secure the overthrow 
of the Government and to prevent its Irish policy 
from culminating in Civil War. The Conservatives, 
moreover, were afraid of being accused of warlike 
designs and of appearing to deserve the reproach of 
being the '* War Party." It was not until the 
31st July that a young Conservative member, 
alarmed at the signs of ministerial weakness, went 
to seek the leaders of his Party in the country and 
brought them back to London. Having returned 
to Town they held a meeting and decided on sending 
the historic letter in which Lord Lansdowne and 
Mr. Bonar Law promised the Government their full 
support if they resolved to carry out a policy of 
loyalty towards France and Russia. 



The Violation of Belgian Neutrality 

I think I have demonstrated that the statesmen 
who were directing the policy of Great Britain were. 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 31 

like the people they represented, desirous of main- 
taining peace, and that the possibility of war 
breaking out between England and Germany had 
been admitted and prepared for by nobody. 

What, then, was the event that finally precipi- 
tated the crisis ? Concerning this, one, and in spite 
of German allegations to the contrary, only one 
answer is possible. It was the violation of Belgian 
neutrality. That question was wholly free from 
complications. Belgian neutrality was guaranteed 
by England, not by a secret agreement whose 
terms might have been more or less debatable, but 
by virtue of a solemn treaty, whose provisions were 
known to the world, and which had been uniformly 
respected throughout a whole century. No hesita- 
tion was possible regarding the attitude it was 
England's duty to take up, and England showed 
none. 

On looking back over events after this dis- 
tance of time, it strikes one as singular that the 
Germans did not realise this at the outset. Setting 
at nought their own solemn undertaking, they 
thought that the English would do likewise and 
content themselves with a mere formal protest. 
Therein they totally misconceived the temper of 
the English people. However much at variance 
they might show themselves on questions exclu- 
sively national, the English were united in deeming 



32 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

that the honour of their country required them to 
protect the integrity of Belgium. 

No sooner did the danger take definite shape than 
Sir Edward Grey curtly asked for information as 
to the position taken up by France and Germany 
regarding Belgian neutrality. France gave a satis- 
factory answer ; Germany prevaricated. 

No. 122 
Berlin, 

31s/ July, 1914. 

Sir E. Goschen, British Ambassador at Berlin, 
to Sir Edward Grey (received 1st August) 

NeutraUty of Belgium, referred to in your tele- 
gram of 31st July to Sir F. Bertie. 

I have seen Secretary of State, who informs me 
that he must consult the Emperor and the Chancellor 
before he could possibly answer. 

No. 123 

Foreign Office, 

1st August, 1914. 

Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Goschen, British 
Ambassador at Berlin 
Sir, 

I told the German Ambassador to-day that 
the reply of the German Government with regard 
to the neutrality of Belgium was a matter of very 
great regret, because the neutrality of Belgium 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 33 

affected feeling in this country. If Germany could 
see her way to give the same assurance as that 
which had been given by France it would materially 
contribute to relieve anxiety and tension here. 
On the other hand, if there were a violation of the 
neutrality of Belgium by one combatant while the 
other respected it, it would be extremely difficult 
to restrain public feeling in this country. 

On the 4th August the German troops crossed 
the Belgian frontier. King Albert appealed to the 
guarantee of England, and the latter took im- 
mediate action. 

No. 153 

Foreign Office, 

4th August, 1 9 14. 

Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Goschen, British 
Ambassador at Berlin 

The King of the Belgians has made an appeal 
to His Majesty the King for diplomatic intervention 
on behalf of Belgium in the following terms : 

" Remembering the numerous proofs of your 
Majesty's friendship and that of your predecessor, 
and the friendly attitude of England in 1870 and 
the proof of friendship you have just given us again, 
I make a supreme appeal to the diplomatic inter- 
vention of your Majesty's Government to safeguard 
the integrity of Belgium." 

His Majesty's Government are also informed that 
the German Government have delivered to the 



34 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

Belgian Government a note proposing friendly 
neutrality entailing free passage through Belgian 
territory, and promising to maintain the indepen- 
dence and integrity of the kingdom and its posses- 
sions at the conclusion of peace, threatening in case 
of refusal to treat Belgium as an enemy. An 
answer was requested within twelve hours. 

We also understand that Belgium has categori- 
cally refused this as a flagrant violation of the law 
of nations. 

His Majesty's Government are bound to protest 
against this violation of a treaty to which Germany 
is a party in common with themselves, and must 
request an assurance that the demand made upon 
Belgium will not be proceeded with and that her 
neutrality will be respected by Germany. You 
should ask for an immediate reply. 

No. 155 

Foreign Office, 

^th August, 1914. 

Sir Edward Grey to Sir F. Villiers, British 
Minister at Brussels 

You should inform Belgian Government that if 
pressure is applied to them by Germany to induce 
them to depart from neutrahty, His Majesty's 
Government expect that they will resist by any 
means in their power, and that His Majesty's 
Government will support them in offering such 
resistance, and that His Majesty's Government in 
this event are prepared to join Russia and France, 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 35 

if desired, in offering to the Belgian Government 
at once common action for the purpose of resisting 
use of force by Germany against them, and a 
guarantee to maintain their independence and 
integrity in future years. 

And the same day England makes up her mind. 

No. 159 

Foreign Office, 

4th August, 1914. 

Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Goschen, British 
Ambassador at Berlin 

We hear that Germany has addressed note to 
Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs stating that 
German Government will be compelled to carry 
out, if necessary, by force of arms, the measures 
considered indispensable. 

We are also informed that Belgian territory has 
been violated at Gemmenich. 

In these circumstances, and in view of the fact 
that Germany declined to give the same assurance 
respecting Belgium as France gave last week in 
reply to our request made simultaneously at Berlin 
and Paris, we must repeat that request, and ask 
that a satisfactory reply to it and to my telegram 
of this morning be received here by twelve o'clock 
to-night. If not, you are instructed to ask for your 
passports, and to say that His Majesty's Govern- 
ment feel bound to take all steps in their power to 
uphold the neutrality of Belgium and the observance 



36 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

of a treaty to which Germany is as much a party as 
ourselves. 

To complete this part of the narrative we must 
read the dramatic account of the final interviews 
held by the British Ambassador at Berlin with Herr 
von Jagow and the Imperial Chancellor. At this 
fateful moment the pohtical psychologies of the 
two nations are brought into striking contrast, and 
the comparison is wholly to the honour of England. 

No. i6o 

London, 

8th August, 1914. 

Sir E. Goschen, British Ambassador in Berlin, 
to Sir Edward Grey 

Sir, 

In accordance with instructions contained 
in your telegram of the 4th instant I called upon 
the Secretary of State that afternoon and enquired 
in the name of His Majesty's Government, whether 
the Imperial Government would refrain from violat- 
ing Belgian neutrality. Herr von Jagow at once 
replied that he was sorry to say that his answer 
must be " No," as, in consequence of the German 
troops having crossed the frontier that morning, 
Belgian neutrality had been already violated. Herr 
von Jagow again went into the reasons why the 
Imperial Government had been obliged to take this 
step, namely, that they had to advance into France 
by the quickest and easiest way, so as to be able to 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 37 

get well ahead with their operations and endeavour 
to strike some decisive blow as early as possible. 
It was a matter of life and death for them, as if they 
had gone by the more southern route they could 
not ha-^e hoped, in view of the paucity of roads and 
the strength of the fortresses, to have got through 
without formidable opposition entailing great loss 
of time. This loss of time would have meant time 
gained by the Russians for bringing up their troops 
to the German frontier. Rapidity of action was the 
German asset, while that of Russia was an in- 
exhaustible supply of troops. I pointed out to 
Herr von Jagow that this fait accompli of the 
violation of the Belgian frontier rendered, as he 
would readily understand, the situation exceedingly 
grave, and I asked him whether there was not still 
time to draw back and avoid possible consequences, 
which both he and I would deplore. He replied 
that, for the reasons he had given me, it was now 
impossible for them to draw back. 

During the afternoon I received your further 
telegram of the same date, and, in compliance with 
the instructions therein contained, I again pro- 
ceeded to the Imperial Foreign Office and informed 
the Secretary of State that unless the Imperial 
Government could give the assurance by twelve 
o'clock that night that they would proceed no 
further with their violation of the Belgian frontier 
and stop their advance, I had been instructed to 
demand my passports and inform the Imperial 
Government that His Majesty's Government would 
have to take all steps in their power to uphold the 
neutraUty of Belgium and the observance of a 



38 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

treaty to which Germany was as much a party as 
themselves. 

HeiT von Jagow repHed that to his great regret 
he could give no other answer than that which he 
had given me earlier in the day, namely, that the 
safety of the Empiie rendered it absolutely neces- 
sary that the Imperial troops should advance 
through Belgium. I gave his Excellency a written 
summary of your telegram and, pointing out that 
you had mentioned twelve o'clock as the time when 
His Majesty's Government would expect an answer, 
asked him whether, in view of the terrible conse- 
quences which would necessarily ensue, it were not 
possible even at the last moment that their answer 
should be reconsidered. He replied that if the time 
given were even twenty-four hours or more, his 
answer must be the same. I said that in that case 
I should have to demand my passports. This inter- 
view took place at about seven o'clock. In a short 
conversation which ensued Herr von Jagow ex- 
pressed his poignant regret at the crumbling of his 
entire policy and that of the Chancellor, which had 
been to make friends with Great Britain, and then, 
through Great Britain, to get closer to France. I 
said that this sudden end to my work in Berlin was 
to me also a matter of deep regret and disappoint- 
ment, but that he must understand that under the 
circumstances and in view of oiu" engagements, 
His Majesty's Government could not possibly have 
acted otherwise than they had done. 

I then said that I should like to go and see the 
Chancellor, as it might be, perhaps, the last time 
I should have an opportunity of seeing him. He 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 39 

begged me to do so. I found the Chancellor very 
agitated. His Excellency at once began a harangue, 
which lasted about twenty minutes. He said that 
the step taken by His Majesty's Government was 
terrible to a degree ; just for a word — " neutrality,'* 
a word which in war time had so often been dis- 
regarded — just for a scrap of paper Great Britain 
was going to make war on a kindred nation who 
desired nothing better than to be friends with her. 
All his efforts in that direction had been rendered 
useless by this last terrible step, and the policy to 
which, as I knew, he had devoted himself since his 
accession to office had tumbled down like a house 
of cards. What we had done was unthinkable ; it 
was like striking a man from behind while he was 
fighting for his life against two assailants. He held 
Great Britain responsible for all the terrible events 
that might happen. I protested strongly against 
that statement, and said that, in the same way as 
he and Herr von Jagow wished me to understand 
that for strategical reasons it was a matter of life 
and death to Germany to advance through Belgium 
and violate the latter's neutrality, so I would wish 
him to understand that it was, so to speak, a matter 
of " life and death " for the honour of Great Britain 
that she should keep her solemn engagement to do 
her utmost to defend Belgium's neutrality if 
attacked. That solemn compact simply had to be 
kept, or what confidence could anyone have in 
engagements given by Great Britain in the future ? 
The Chancellor said, " But at what price will that 
compact have been kept. Has the British Govern- 
ment thought of that ? " I hinted to his Excellency 



40 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

as plainly as I could that fear of consequences could 
hardly be regarded as an excuse for breaking solemn 
engagements, tut his Excellency was so excited, so 
evidently overcome by the news of our action, and 
so little disposed to hear reason that I refrained 
from adding fuel to the flame by further argument. 
As I was leaving he said that the blow of Great 
Britain joining Germany's enemies was all the 
greater that almost up to the last moment he and 
his Government had been working with us and 
supporting our efforts to maintain peace between 
Austria and Russia. I said that this was part of 
the tragedy which saw the two nations fall apart 
just at the moment when the relations between 
them had been more friendly and cordial than they 
had been for years. Unfortunately, notwithstand- 
ing our efforts to maintain peace between Russia 
and Austria, the war had spread and had brought 
us face to face with a situation which, if we held to 
our engagements, we could not possibly avoid, and 
which unfortunately entailed our separation from 
our late fellow-workers. He would readily under- 
stand that no one regretted this more than I. 

After this somewhat painful interview I returned 
to the Embassy and drew up a telegraphic report 
of what had passed. This telegram was handed in 
at the Central Telegraph Office a little before 
9 p.m. It was accepted by that office, but ap- 
parently never dispatched. 

A communication sent by Monsieur le Comte de 
Lalaing, the Belgian Minister in London, to his 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 41 

Government at home gives a vivid account of the 
enthusiasm with which Sir Edward Grey's policy 
was endorsed by ParHament and People. 

London, 

yth August, 1914. 

The King of the Belgians Minister in London to 
Monsieur Davignon, Minister of Foreign Affairs. 

Monsieur le Ministre, 

I beg to confirm the information that Parlia- 
ment has voted a hundred million pounds for the 
war and a force of five hundred thousand men. 

The French and Russian Ambassadors have 
been to present their congratulations to the King's 
Minister on the heroic conduct of the Belgian 
Army, which, by hindering the advance of the 
Germans, compelled the latter to alter their original 
plans and gave the adversaries of Germany time to 
concentrate their forces for the general defence. 

The dispatch of the Expeditionary Force is being 
hurried on with all speed. The first transports con- 
taining victuals and war material will leave for 
France on Sunday, the 9th instant. The troops 
will then be embarked, and one may take it that 
at the end of next week — that is to say, about the 
15th instant — the 100,000 men comprising the 
Expeditionary Force will be gathered together on 
the French coast. The disembarkation is to take 
place at four different points, and the separate 
sections will then unite, so at least I am informed 
by the French Ambassador. 



42 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

Yesterday in the House of Commons the Prime 
Minister went into an analysis of the Bhie Book 
which I sent you on the 6th August. He referred 
scornfully to the insidious proposals made by 
Germany with a view to securing Great Britain's 
neutrality. 

" It amounted," said Mr. Asquith, " to this, 
that, leaving France and Holland out of the question, 
we were to strike a bargain with the German 
Imperial Government regardless of our obligations 
to Belgium and without her knowledge. If we had 
accepted these infamous proposals what reply 
should we have given when she addressed to us 
her moving appeal to fulfil our solemn guarantee 
of her neutrality. I do not envy the man who can 
read the moving address of the King of the Belgians 
to his people without emotion. Belgians are fight- 
ing and losing their lives. What would have been 
the position of Great Britain to-day in the face of 
that spectacle, if we had assented to this infamous 
proposal ? Yes, and what are we to get in return 
for the betrayal of our friends and the dishonour 
of our obligations ? What are we to get in return . 
A promise — nothing more ; a promise as to what 
Germany would do in certain eventualities ; a 
promise, be it observed — I am sorry to have to say 
it, but it must be put upon record — given by a 
Power which was at that very moment announcing 
its intention to violate its own treaty and inviting 
us to do the same. We are going to fight in the 
first place to fulfil our international obligations, 
and, secondly, to defend the smaller nations. The 
country will recognise that our cause is just, and 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 43 

I ask the House to vote a Credit of £100,000,000 
and to bring the strength of the Army up to 500,000 
men." 

The House voted the money and the men then 
and there. 

PubHc opinion is at length aroused, and the 
revulsion is overwhelming. It is perceived in 
Europe that a little nation was setting an example 
of honour and probity without regard to the conse- 
quences. The " peace at any price " party were 
impressed. Then it became known that the enemy 
had crossed the frontier, that they were giving 
battle, and that the Belgians had offered resistance 
to the German Colossus. People read our King's 
speech, everyone recognised the gravity of the 
situation, and even the most pacifically minded 
Englishman began to probe his conscience. " Can 
we," he said to himself, " can we leave in the lurch 
a nation that sets us so high an example of loyalty ? " 
Then came the stories of the German atrocities and 
the heroic defence of Liege. These clinched matters. 
England to a man called for war and was not con- 
tent with the naval support which was what the 
Cabinet at first favoured. People demanded the 
dispatch of the Expeditionary Force. The Govern- 
ment was expecting this mandate from the people, 
and obeyed it. Two Ministers who held a contrary 
opinion gave in their resignations, which were 
immediately accepted. Lord Kitchener was ap- 
pointed to the War Office, and the order was given 
for mobilisation. 

To-day the admiration of this country for Bel- 
gium knows no limits. In the military clubs toasts 



44 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

are drunk to the brave Belgians. Newspapers of 
all shades acclaim our country. Congratulatory 
letters and telegrams arrive in shoals. If the King 
were to come here he would be borne in triumph 
through the streets of London. 

I have opened a subscription for the families of 
Belgian soldiers, and for the sick and wounded of 
our army, under the patronage of H.R.H. the 
Duchesse de Vendome, and I will hold the proceeds 
at your disposal. 

The British Interests 

The Germans impudently deny what we have 
just said. " It is," they say, in a pamphlet which 
they have published in Italian, " absolutely in- 
correct that the violation of Belgian neutrality 
made England fall into line with the enemies of 
Germany." And the Imperial Chancellor, in a 
speech delivered in August, 1915, displayed no 
more respect for the truth than this anonymous 
pamphleteer. 

Be it remarked, however, that " honour " as a 
motive is quite beyond the comprehension of the 
Teutonic mind. " Make war for a point of 
honour ? " You would never get a German to 
understand that. Their first surprise was to find 
Belgium rejecting Germany's friendship and offers 
of monetary compensation, and preferring to keep 
her word. Next, they were amazed when England 
plimged into a war which she did not want in order 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 45 

to honour her signature to a treaty. Thirdly, they 
were completely nonplussed by the intervention of 
Italy, who preferred war to a servile neutrality. 
Nevertheless these successive lessons failed to 
enlighten her. Devoid of any notion of honour, 
and setting no value on anything but self-interest 
and force, the Germans are incapable of imagining 
that individuals and nations aspire above all to 
remain worthy of their traditions and to preserve 
their self-respect. 

Nevertheless it cannot be gainsaid that, after 
a year of war, the aspect of things has undergone 
some modification, and that the Germans may 
now claim with a certain show of justification that 
the English are no longer fighting for Belgium 
alone, but for England into the bargain. The 
reason is that the British have begun to recognise 
what they failed to perceive in July, 1914. It is 
now borne in upon them that the aims and am- 
bitions of the German Imperialists were a direct 
menace to themselves. They had, not without 
some presumption, underestimated the latter's 
resources, and looked upon their ambitions as so 
much empty braggadocio. It is, however, certain 
that Germany was more powerful than England 
supposed, and the difficulties we have had to sur- 
mount bear witness to the fact that the effort of all 
the nations of Europe is not too much to ensure 



46 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

victory. It therefore most certainly follows that 
if Germany had been able to attack them in detail 
she would have crushed them one after another. 
Her naval effort was a direct thrust at England, 
whose power she would have annihilated as soon 
as she had crushed France. What England is fight- 
ing for now is her maritime supremacy and her 
political and economic independence ; these are 
vital to her. This being the case, the neutrality of 
Belgium takes a subsidiary place, and the Germans 
may dispute — not without a show of truth — the 
part now played by it in Britain's warlike activities. 
The phrase in which, as long ago as 1870, Lord 
Granville, in the House of Lords, summed up the 
policy of Great Britain, still holds good : " We 
take our stand on the demands of honour and the 
interests of the country." There is here nothing 
to detract from the greatness of England's attitude. 
It was motives of honour that made her cast the 
die ; it was not until afterwards that these motives 
were discovered to coincide with the interests of the 
country. 

And this, perhaps, will be one of the most un- 
looked-for aspects of the service which, without 
either knowing or intending it, Belgium will prove 
to have rendered to England. She will be found 
to have been the means of uniting the national 
conscience at an hour when England was at the 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 47 

crisis of her fate, and when EngHsh pubhc opinion 
was not sufficiently aroused to perceive, then and 
there, the magnitude of the issue at stake. Had it 
not been for Belgium and her misfortunes, England, 
without any unanimous appreciation of what was 
going on around her, would without doubt have let 
slip the moment when her only safety lay in action. 

The Declarations of Sir Edward Grey 

Lecturing on the 22nd March, 1915, at the 
Bechstein Hall, London, Sir Edward Grey gave a 
most accurate and lucid resume of the negotiations. 
He reminded his hearers how he had intervened in 
thf interests of peace when the affairs of the Balkans 
were under discussion at the Conference of London. 
Only his modesty prevented him from adding that 
the German Chancellor himself said, " Europe will 
feel grateful to the British Minister for Foreign 
Affairs for the extraordinary skill and the spirit 
of conciliation with which he directed the dis- 
cussion of the Ambassadors in London, and thanks 
to which he constantly succeeded in smoothing 
away the difficulties that arose." 

" Hundreds of millions of money have been spent, 
hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost, and 
millions have been maimed and wounded in Europe 
during the last few months. And all this might 
have been avoided by the simple method of a con- 



48 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

ference or a joint discussion between the Powers 
concerned, which might have been held in London, 
at The Hague, or wherever and in whatever form 
Germany would have consented to have it. (Hear, 
hear.) It would have been far easier to have settled 
by conference the dispute between Austria-Hungary 
and Serbia, which Germany made the occasion for 
this war, than it was to get successfully through the 
Balkan crisis of two years ago. Germany knew 
from her experience of the conference in London 
which settled the Balkan crisis that she could count 
upon our good will for peace in any conference of the 
Powers. We had sought no diplomatic triumph in 
the Balkan Conference ; we did not give ourselves 
to any intrigue ; we pursued, impartially and 
honourably, the end of peace, and we were ready 
last July to do the same again. 

" In recent years we have given Germany every 
assurance that no aggression upon her would re- 
ceive any support from us. We withheld from her 
one thing — we would not give an unconditional 
promise to stand aside, however aggressive Germany 
herself might be to her neighbours. (Cheers.) 
Last July, before the outbreak of war, France was 
ready to accept a conference ; Italy was ready to 
accept a conference ; Russia was ready to accept 
a conference ; and we know now that after the 
British proposal for a conference was made, the 
Emperor of Russia himself proposed to the German 
Emperor that the dispute should be referred to 
The Hague. Germany refused every suggestion 
made to her for settling the dispute in this way. 
On her rests now, and must rest for all time, the 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 49 

appalling responsibility for having plunged Europe 
into this war, and for having involved herself and 
the greater part of the Continent in the consequences 
of it. 

" We now know that the German Government 
had prepared for war as only people who plan can 
prepare. This is the fourth time within living 
memory that Prussia had made war in Europe." 



The Alleged Anglo-Belgian Agreements 

The Germans have attempted to turn to their 
own advantage the sympathy universally expressed 
for the misfortunes of Belgium by endeavouring 
to fix the responsibility for them on England. This 
calumny was impudently hawked abroad by all 
the hirelings in the pay of Germany, and the Im- 
perial Chancellor himself has had the effrontery to 
work it for all it was worth. We must therefore 
pause a Httle at this point. In this matter Belgian 
interests and British interests merge into one 
another, and both countries agree in affirming the 
bona fides of their position and in protesting with 
energy against these Teutonic accusations. In 
order not to prolong my statement unduly I must 
refer the reader to Monsieur Waxweiler's excellent 
and cogent work entitled. La Belgique neutre et 
loyale, and to an essay, Les Conventions Anglo- 
Beiges, from the pen of Monsieur Brunet, a member 
of the Chamber of Deputies and formerly Bdtonnier 



50 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

of Brussels. There he will find a detailed analysis 
of the documents on which this strange charge 
reposes. 

Be it noted first of all that these accusations are 
subsequent to the declaration of war. Neither the 
German Press nor the German diplomats made men- 
tion of them in the charges they levelled against us. 
Both alike invariably admitted that Belgium had 
scrupulously observed her obligations to all. 

On the 3rd August, 1914, we find Herr von Jagow 
again declaring to our Minister at Berlin, the Baron 
Beyens, that Germany had no fault to find with 
Belgium ; Belgium's attitude had always been 
irreproachable. 

How, indeed, could he have said otherwise ? 
Had we not had frequent and cordial intercourse 
with Germany ? Was not our Queen a Bavarian 
Princess ? Did not German operatic singers visit 
us every year in order to give us a German inter- 
pretation of the works of Richard Wagner ? Were 
not the German working classes the friendly rivals 
of our own ? Many and many a German came to 
earn his bread in Belgium, and found there the 
heartiest — and, as we now see — all too unsuspecting 
of welcomes. Our bank clerks, what were they ? 
Germans ! Our domestics ? Germans ! Our com- 
mercial travellers ? Germans ! Deutsche Bank, 
Deutsche Schule, Deutsche Bierbrauerei ! And the 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 51 

humorous side of it was that they were all spies. 
They were paving the way for invasion, and only 
waiting for the psychological moment to give effect 
to their preparations. 

After accusing Belgium of playing into the hands 
of France — an accusation so manifestly baseless 
that it was forthwith abandoned — the Germans 
endeavoured to show that an agreement existed 
with England, basing their charges on documents 
discovered by them at the Belgian Foreign Office 
after the occupation of Brussels. 

The diplomatic papers had been removed by the 
Belgian authorities, but a copy of them had been 
sent up to the third floor of the building for binding 
purposes. The Germans thought they had made 
a great discovery when they laid hands on these 
papers. They published everything which they 
thought would tend to injure Belgium in the eyes 
of the Allies or embroil the latter one with another. 

Touching our neutrality, they were only able to 
discover, in this complete record of our foreign 
relations, two documents of no importance, and 
these they were obliged to falsify in order to support 
their line of argument. 

The first is a summary of a conversation which 
took place in 1906 between Colonel Bernardiston, 
the British Military Attach^ at Brussels, and General 
Ducarne, our Chief of Staff. This conversation 



52 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

had reference to the steps to be taken in common, 
in case of an attack by Germany. It contained this 
all-important sentence : " The British would not 
enter Belgium until after the violation of Belgian 
neutrality by Germany." 

This sentence, which, of itself, is enough to set the 
document in its true light and shows the whole 
conversation to have been perfectly in order, was 
omitted in the translation given by the Deutsche 
Allgemeine-Zeitung of the I2th October, 1914. 
Furthermore the paper in question translates 
" conversation " by ahkommen, which signifies 
" agreement." 

The vociferous indignation expressed by the 
Germans in the face of documents such as this is 
obviously but another phase of the comedy. King 
Albert, in an interview granted to a member of the 
editorial staff of the New York World in February, 
1915, had, in fact, revealed that, owing to his desire 
to maintain the most scrupulous neutrality, he was 
anxious that the German Ambassador should be 
kept informed of the tenour of the Anglo-Belgian 
conversations. 

Another document that has been put forward in 
evidence is a report of Baron Greindl, Belgian 
Minister at Berlin in 191 1. It related to a plan of 
defence of a portion of the Belgian territory. This 
plan was drawn up by a Belgian officer, in strict 



ANXIOUS FOR PEACE 53 

accordance with his right and duty, and dealt with 
the measures to be taken in case our neutrality was 
violated by Germany. It was communicated to our 
Minister at Berlin, who replied that the plan dealt 
with a hypothetical situation, and that as such it 
merited consideration. 

Finally, a great stir was made about a further 
conversation that took place in 1912 between the 
British Military Attache, Lieut. -Colonel Bridges, 
and General Jungbluth, our Chief of Staff. It was 
of still slighter significance than the conversation of 
1906, and, like it, postulated an antecedent viola- 
tion by Germany of Belgian territory. This time 
also, in order to invest it with importance, German 
newspapers were obliged, in defiance of the truth, 
to represent the British Military Attache as a 
" plenipotentiary " [Bevollmdchtigte). 

A letter from Sir Edward Grey to the Belgian 
Government, dated the 7th April, 1913, and not 
published by Sir Edward until the 7th December, 
1914, expressly said, " Until Belgian neutrality is 
violated by another Power we shall certainly send 
no troops to Belgium." 

Must we, finally, recall that, as stated in Sir 
Edward Grey's dispatch of the 30th July, 1914 
(No. 105), conversations between Military Attaches 
are not agreements between Governments. That 
is mere ordinary common sense. Moreover, Sir 



54 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

Edward Grey declared in August, 1915, that 
there existed neither at the Foreign Office nor at 
the War Office any trace of such documents ? 
No straightforward man who had studied the 
papers in question could come to the conclusion that 
Germany deduced from them ; no one could fail 
to recognise that the loyalty of England as well as 
the loyalty of Belgium was beyond reproach. 

Anglo-German Relations before the War 
(1898-1914) 

The pacific influence of British diplomacy, its 
firm resolve to maintain the peace of Europe and 
of the world, the straightforward means employed 
by it to attain this end, would be brought out into 
still greater prominence if we could examine the 
tendency of international politics during recent 
years. But this would carry us far afield. We are 
obliged to limit our survey to the period immediately 
prior to the European War. We must therefore 
refer any reader who is desirous of enlightenment 
on this point to a pamphlet by Sir Edward Cook, 
entitled. How Britain strove for Peace : Anglo- 
German Negotiations, 1898-1914. 



CHAPTER II 
GERMAN GRIEVANCES AGAINST ENGLAND 

GERMAN newspapers are full of diatribes 
against England, and the Chancellor made 
his detestation of England the leitmotiv 
of the speech which he delivered on the 19th August, 
1915, before the Reichstag. It is a good symp- 
tom, for it shows us that the English Blockade is 
having an ever-increasing effect on Germany, and 
that Kitchener's Armies are somewhat marring the 
fond dream of Imperialist triumphs. 

But Germany's resentment does not date merely 
from to-day. The theme has been set forth and 
developed in German books and periodicals for 
fifteen years or more. It is a resentment inspired 
by events that are already ancient history, though 
they only date back to half a century ago. It 
would not be amiss to glance at them again, the 
better to understand the present situation. There 
are two books from which we may derive assist- 
ance ; the one is entitled. The Anglo-German 
Problem, and is by Mr. Charles Sarolea, a Professor 
at the University of Edinburgh and Belgian Consul 

55 



56 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

in that city. The other is a collection of lectures 
by the late Mr. T. A. Cramb, Professor of History 
at Queen's College, London. Other works might 
of course, be read with profit, but these are interest- 
ing on two counts : first, because they were written 
before the war and are consequently free from the 
acrimony and bias inherent in the polemical writings 
of to-day ; secondly, because their authorship is 
a guarantee of good faith and impartiality. Monsieur 
Sarol^a is a Belgian. His view of the conflict is 
therefore that of an onlooker, and he is neither 
judge nor party in the case. Mr. Cramb is a scholar 
pure and simple, a well-known pacifist and a most 
sincere admirer of Germany. He is thus placed 
far above the rough and tumble of the fray. Let us 
then, give another glance at this piece of ancient 
history in the light of the information contained in 
these two books. 

Statement of German Grievances 

The German grievances are summed up in a 
simile which frequently recurs in the works of von 
Bernhardi. " They have deprived us," he says, 
" of our place in the sun " ; by which is meant that 
Great Britain stands in the way of Germany's law- 
ful desire for commercial and industrial expansion ; 
that she is opposed to Germany's colonial develop- 
ment ; and that she has deliberately aimed at foster- 



GERMAN GRIEVANCES 57 

ing an atmosphere of suspicion against Germany 
which has at length isolated her from the other 
European nations, and compromised her position 
in the West. These are allegations which it behoves 
us to examine in detail. 

Has Great Britain thwarted Germany's Economic 
Expansion ? 

When war broke out in August, 1914, the British 
Government arranged for an Exhibition to be held 
in London of articles of German manufacture. The 
object was to encourage British firms to fill the place 
of German imports by home products. The Exhi- 
bition was an extensive one and bore witness to the 
number and variety of the goods consumed in England 
and manufactured on the Continent or in the British 
Isles by German firms. There exists no better 
evidence than this fact, of the market which Ger- 
many has found for her goods beyond the seas. 

Again, while Belgium and France were able with- 
out excessive difficulty to expel or intern the 
German subjects within their borders, such a step 
was impracticable in England. I expressed my 
astonishment thereat to an official personage. 
" There were too many of them," he replied. Does 
not that admission show more convincingly than 
any statistics the welcome that had been extended 
to German industry in England ? 



58 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

Nor was the hospitality offered to German com- 
mercial enterprise any less warm in the colonies 
than in the Mother Country : witness Mr. Poultney 
Bigelow's emphatic statement in a letter published 
in the New York Times of the 8th June, 1915. 

" Nowhere in the British Colonial world," he 
writes, " have I ever beheld the smallest trace of 
commercial monopoly, and certainly no trace of 
any special favom' being granted to Englishmen 
to the detriment of Germans." 

Even in India, and under the very nose of the 
Calcutta Council, the German bagman has driven 
the Englishman out of the market. 

Moreover, the trading and manufacturing classes 
in the British Isles bear united testimony to the 
tenacity, endurance, enthusiasm, and adaptability 
of the Germans, even though they have had fre- 
quently to complain of their propensity for peaceful 
penetration and of the espionage carried on by them 
beneath a mask of goodwill and bonhomie. 

That Germans have found a better market for 
their goods in England than elsewhere is due to the 
fact that, whereas other countries adopted protec- 
tive tariffs of varying degrees of severity, England 
has always adhered to the old laissez-faire policy. 

" Imagine England a sudden convert to the 
doctrines urged some time ago by Messrs. Chamber- 
lain and Balfour ; suppose her throwing over Free 



GERMAN GRIEVANCES 59 

Trade, and you have to admit, as a corollary, that 
a formidable reduction would ensue in the volume 
of German trade and industry." It was no English- 
man who advanced this hypothesis and deduced 
the results ; it was a worthy German economist — 
Professor Schulze Gaevernitz. 

It is not the fact, therefore, that England has stood 
in the way of the peaceful development of German 
industry and trade. True, the British Government 
has at various times drawn the attention of British 
manufacturers to the progress of their German 
rivals. But this merely had the effect of stimulating 
their efforts, and such admonitions implied no 
enmity towards Germany. 

Has Great Britain hindered German's Colonial 

Development ? 

At the present day every country possesses a 
Colonial Empire which, in many cases, bears 
no relation to its actual position in the world. 
Germany's colonies are tracts of land, precarious 
in tenure and often unproductive. It is England 
again that has been her stumbling-block in this 
direction. 

Such is the gist of what one reads in the publica- 
tions of the German Colonial League and in the 
books, articles, and pamphlets of every German 
political publicist. > 



6o BRITAIN IN ARMS 

For England to have incurred the guilt of the 
crime thus laid at her door — the crime, that is, of 
having ousted Germany from her place in the extra 
European sun — it would have at least been neces- 
sary that when she was settling down in the coveted 
territories Germany should have disputed her right 
to do so. A tradesman cannot be called guilty of 
imfair rivalry towards another tradesman who has 
not yet opened shop. Such, however, is Germany's 
line of argument. At the time when the great 
English navigators, such as Drake and Raleigh, 
were conquering a vast empire for their Queen, at 
the cost of immense toil and hardship, Germany 
was not even in being. She cannot therefore 
accuse England of having deprived her of a right 
which she did not exist to claim. 

Doubtless when the great apportionment of 
colonial territory which marked the last quarter 
of the nineteenth century was taking place, Ger- 
many was a living political entity. Victorious over 
Denmark, Austria, and France, we see her dictating 
her will in the treaties drawn up in the Council of 
Nations, and frequently those treaties were con- 
cerned with colonial questions. She had then both 
the power and the right to claim her share in the 
continents which were then being so freely appor- 
tioned. But she did not. She even encouraged other 
nations in a colonial policy with which she herself 



GERMAN GRIEVANCES 6i 

showed no concern. She left Indo-China and 
Madagascar to France. She smiled approval on the 
birth of the Congo Free State. 

What was the reason of this apathy in colonial 
matters ? Monsieur Sarolea furnishes us with 
several, all equally cogent. 

Bismarck did not possess the coloniser's imagina- 
tion. His was a genius whose ambit was restricted 
to Europe. His dreams were confined to those 
lands which might be trampled on without crossing 
the seas. It is true, indeed, that the German 
Colonial Empire was largely acquired while the Iron 
Chancellor was at the head of affairs. Nevertheless 
during the whole of this period there never was any 
genuine manifestation of the colonising spirit in 
Germany. It was not until later on that the 
Empire asserted its claims to territory outside the 
Continent of Europe which should correspond to 
the importance of its own position within it. 

Bismarck told himself that the unification of the 
Empire and the assuring of its supremacy in Europe 
were work enough for one mind without the trouble- 
some addition of remote and doubtful undertakings. 
This attitude the Germans of to-day look upon as 
a fault. Was it so in fact ? Was it not rather 
imposed of necessity on the aged Chancellor by the 
internal difficulties with which he was confronted 
in his bitter struggle with the Ultramontanists on 



62 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

the one side and the Socialists on the other ? Be 
that as it may, Bismarck, despite the colonial 
acquisitions which accrued during his regime, dis- 
sociated Germany from a colonial policy in the 
strict sense of the term. That is the great point to 
bear in mind. 

In adopting this attitude, moreover, Bismarck 
did but give effect to the sentiments and tendencies 
of his people. The German has sometimes been 
represented as a good coloniser. That is only half 
true. When he betakes himself to lands where the 
spade work has been done for him, he proves him- 
self an admirable coloniser ; but he is not adapted 
to the high emprise of discovery, or to the dangers 
and difficulties of pioneering in virgin soil. The 
Germans did well in Brazil, but ill in Africa ; and 
in the explorers' roll of honour there figure plenty 
of English and French names, but very few German. 

Mr. Poultney Bigelow, whom I have already had 
occasion to quote, makes a similar statement. 

Prussian colonial rule simply meant issuing com- 
mands. The natives were reduced to slavery 
unless they took refuge in the jungle. The German 
settlers were conspicuous by their absence. 

Finally, to float a vast concern — and a colony is 
always this — one must have money to risk. Money 
was precisely what the Germans lacked, for in spite 
of the two hundred millions they took from France 



GERMAN GRIEVANCES 63 

in 1870, their finances a few years later were in a 
critical position. 

It was after the Boer War, and even then a little 
prematurely, that the adventurous Hohenzollerns, 
with their hereditary impetuosity, intoxicated the 
mind of Germany with vaster ambitions. The hour 
was at hand, the hour of the Weltpolitik, the hour of 
the Imperial visits to Jerusalem and Tangier. But 
the hour may sound too late in the history of a nation, 
just as it may sound too late in the life of a man. 
And too late it was in very truth. The places were 
taken, other factors had intervened in the welter 
of political forces. All the German enterprises 
woefully miscarried. 

In Africa, Germany extricated herself with diffi- 
culty from the Herero revolt, became involved in 
the scandals arising from the ill-treatment of the 
natives, and was entangled in scores of administra- 
tive difficulties, of which the debates they brought 
about in the Reichstag enable us to estimate the 
gravity. 

In China hopes ran higher. Kiao-chau and 
Shantung had awakened in her ambitions of supreme 
domination in the Far East. She deemed that the 
Boxer Rebellion would enable her to realise them. 
She therefore resolved to play the principal role in 
bringing the insurgents to heel. But another Power 
had swiftly leaped into being across the water, who 



64 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

threw into the scales a sword as weighty as it was 
unexpected. Japan did more than inflict a defeat 
on Russia at Port Arthur and Tsushima : she check- 
mated all the German ambitions into the bargain. 

Finally, there remained the South American 
schemes. That Germany had thoughts of an 
Empire in the New World, there is not the shadow 
of a doubt. The demonstration before Valparaiso 
is a proof, and the proclamations at the time of the 
Morocco troubles, concerning the vital necessity for 
Germany to have ports on the Atlantic, are others. 
But in America, too, Germany came too late. The 
Monroe doctrine and the power of the United 
States were obstacles in the way of fresh enter- 
prises in the ancient lands of Pizarro. 

German colonial ambitions, which had swept forth 
like a flock of gerfalcons from their nest, returned 
again bearing no prey in their beaks. And so they 
take vengeance for their impotence — vengeance for 
coming too late into a world grown too old, and 
quarrel with those who have met with better success 
because they had come in time. Like ravening 
vultures, Germany's ambitions scream with shrill 
fury at England. 

The Policy of Isolation 

There remains the grievance that Great Britain 
with malign intent has isolated Germany and 



GERMAN GRIEVANCES 65 

robbed her of her allies and friends ; the grievance 
to which Bethmann-Holweg gave renewed expres- 
sion in his speech of the 19th August, 1915. 

To be sure Germany's position to-day is very 
far from being what it was a few years ago after 
the treaty of Frankfort. She no longer commands 
as a dictator, she merely intervenes as a partner. 
Whence comes this remarkable change ? To ex- 
plain it we have to look some way back in the 
history of our times. Let us recall what happened 
in the diplomatic world after the Russo-Turkish 
War. Russia, the victor, had at San Stefano hewn 
for herself a lion's share of the spoils of the Sick Man 
of Europe, and had assumed for the Slavonic race 
a preponderating position in Eastern Europe. At 
this England took umbrage. Her preparations for 
war brought about a revision of the Treaty of San 
Stefano. But now, which Power was it that dic- 
tated its wishes at the BerHn Conference ? Was it 
England, at whose instance it had been summoned ? 
No. Beaconsfield held his peace that Bismarck 
might speak, and the victory of the Slavs became 
a victory for the Germans. 

This piece of diplomatic pilfering, which is only 
to be explained by the extraordinary ascendency 
Germany wielded over Europe, was also the origin 
of her future weakness. Russia, humiliated and 
full of resentment, cast about her, seeking the sup- 



fe 



(i6 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

port of an ally. She met with another Power, 
also humiliated and lonely. That Power was France, 
and to her she stretched forth her hand. It was 
Bismarck who, in 1878, paved the way for the 
demonstrations of Toulon and Cronstadt and the 
Franco- Russian alliance. This he perhaps foresaw, 
but he told himself that by offending Russia he 
would please England, who viewed with misgiving 
the Slavonic expansion towards Persia and Hindu- 
stan. He was not mistaken. The Berlin Congress 
was followed by an Anglo-German friendship ex- 
tending over a number of years. But when the 
youthful WilUam II succeeded to the throne, 
German policy launched out into the Colonial 
adventures to which we have alluded above, and 
soon took umbrage at the dominant position held 
by England on the highways of the world. 

It is at this juncture that begins the campaign 
of systematic disparagement and organised calumny 
with which we shall deal further later on. 

England thus received clear warning that weapons 
were being sharpened on the opposite shores of the 
North Sea which would be used against her sooner 
or later, and sooner in proportion as she was more 
defenceless and more isolated. To continue the 
policy of splendid isolation which she had followed 
for so long was but to seek her own undoing. This 
the wise and clear-sighted Edward VII quickly 



GERMAN GRIEVANCES 67 

realised, and by joining in the Franco- Russian 
coalition — even to the limited extent in which that 
union was effected — he merely took a step which 
the safety of England and the peace of Europe 
imposed upon him. 

It must be granted that this is not an interpreta- 
tion of British policy that finds ready acceptance 
beyond the Rhine. There it is thought that the 
Entente Cordiale was a plan dictated by jealousy 
of Germany to enable the Allies to checkmate her 
in every field. You will even find it in print that 
the covert aim of this coalition was to destroy by 
force of arms the growing Empire of the Hohen- 
zollerns. 

It is scarcely necessary to call attention to these 
malicious misrepresentations of the facts. Since 
the beginning of the century England has shown 
herself unswervingly in favour of peace, and when- 
ever she has intervened it has always been to avoid 
a conflict which the very pretensions of Germany 
appeared to render inevitable. This was con- 
spicuously the case in 1905, when the Emperor by 
his speeches at Tangier, and the Chancellor by 
proposing an international conference for the 
settlement of the Morocco dispute, thought they 
had compelled France to fight or accept defeat. 

For the rest England has always declared that 
the Entente policy would in no wise militate against 



68 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

her preserving the friendliest relations, relations 
that might even be sealed by definite understand- 
ings, with Germany. And we can see clearly that 
if only Europe could be made secure from aggres- 
sion inspired by Teutonic arrogance, England was 
eager to remain on terms of the closest affection 
with Germany. 

True, England's friendship — for the time being 
at any rate — was worth more to Germany than was 
Germany's to England. But whereas what Sir 
Edward Grey had in mind was a friendship with due 
regard to understandings previously entered into with 
other countries and assisting, together with these 
latter, in maintaining the peace of Europe, the aim 
of the successive German Chancellors was a com- 
pact that should exclude all other engagements 
and be but the preliminary step to the realisation 
of their dreams of hegemony. In 1909, in the course 
of a conversation which took place between Herr 
von Bethmann-Holweg, the new Chancellor, and 
the British Ambassador at Berlin ; and again in 
191 2 on the occasion of Lord Haldane's mission, 
Germany was for shelving the proposal for a limita- 
tion of armaments in favour of certain considera- 
tions of general policy, the object of which was 
neither more nor less than to extract from England 
a promise of benevolent neutrality in case hostilities 
broke out in which Germany was not the aggressor 



GERMAN GRIEVANCES 69 

or in which it could not be definitely shown who was 
the aggressor. That this was a trap is clear enough. 
Had England fallen into it she would have been 
obliged to look on while France and Russia were 
being crushed, obligingly waiting till her own turn 
should come. One can see which of the two — 
Germany or England — was the real practitioner of 
the policy of isolation. One can also see the object 
in view. If Germany was isolated it was due solely 
to the mistrust she had inspired around her. If she 
feels that the condemnation of Europe lies heavily 
upon her, she has but herself and her own inordinate 
ambitions to blame. But this Germany will not 
allow, and, regardless of truth though not of her 
own self-interest, she impudently lays the charge 
at the door of England. 

The world must not be misled. If England, at a 
certain period in her recent history, did hearken, 
as all nations at one time or another have hearkened, 
to such imperialistic dithyrambs as those of Mr. 
Rudyard Kipling ; if for a brief while she lent an 
ear to the policy advocated by Mr. Chamberlain, 
she has long since abandoned an attitude that 
accorded so ill with her temperament and her 
traditions. The Transvaal War, and the revival of 
humanitarianism that resulted from it in Europe, 
afforded her a sound lesson in liberaUsm. There is 
nothing left of the spirit of aggression in England 



JO BRITAIN IN ARMS 

to-day. The treatment she metes out to her posses- 
sions beyond the seas is transforming her Empire 
into what has been rightly termed a world-wide 
federation of free states. England is the type of 
peace-loving powers. She proved it by remaining 
neutral to the last minute, and in defiance of all the 
dictates of prudence, in the great conflict of the 
nations. England is the mighty champion of the 
smaller States and of the principle of nationality. 
It was because of this principle that on the 4th of 
August, 1914, she drew the sword that a regard for 
her own safety should have prompted her to draw 
a day sooner. 

Liberal, peace-loving, the protectress of the 
weak, true to her word, these are, indeed, qualities 
that have gained for her the esteem of the world — 
and the hatred of Germany. 

The foregoing chapter, then, has shown that 
England was compelled to take up arms ; first, 
because her honour required it ; secondly, in defence 
of her own interests, which were directly threatened 
by Germany. Did she employ all the resources with 
which she is endowed in the service of the cause 
she undertook to defend ? That question we will 
now proceed to examine. 



CHAPTER III 

THE WORK OF THE FLEET 

Some hypotheses 

IN this war, apparently, the value attached by 
the public to the achievements of the different 
fighting forces operating throughout the world 
is determined by the spectacular effect rather than 
by the real usefulness and permanent effectiveness 
of their achievements. Thus, while bestowing 
unstinted praise on certain heroic incidents in an 
attack, the public too readily forgets the daily 
sacrifice and uncomplaining self-denial of the men 
standing knee-deep in the mud of the trenches en- 
gaged in the essential task of defending the line. 

So with regard to the Fleet. I hear it said around 
me, by people who obstinately refuse to look at 
the course of events as a whole and only concern 
themselves with such immediate and obvious 
information as may be got from the official military 
communiques, that the English are doing nothing 
in this war, because they still occupy only a com- 
paratively inconsiderable section of the Western 
front. They deliberately overlook the magnitude of 

71 



^2 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

the part played by the British Grand Fleet. Even 
among those who do take some account of it I hear 
it asked : " But what is the British Fleet really 
doing ? " Such people seem to imagine that a fleet 
is only effectively performing its part when it can 
boast of having sunk a certain number of enemy 
ships and won on the high seas battles whose 
results may be stated in definite, concrete terms. 
Both alike fail to reaUse either the problems or the 
triumphs of the passing hour. They do not under- 
stand that each day that passes without the official 
communiques making mention of naval operations 
constitutes, in fact, a silent record of victory for 
the British Fleet, and testifies to the signal services 
rendered by it to the cause of the Allies. 

The more thoroughly to appreciate the value of 
these successes and these services, we have merely 
to ask ourselves what would have happened if the 
AlUes had not been able to count on the protection 
of the British Fleet ? This question has been put 
by all who have made it their business to clear away 
these misconceptions. Imagine the German Fleet 
dashing out to sea the instant war was declared, 
and reaching the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, 
having met with no rampart of British battleships 
in the North Sea to bar their passage. France 
would have been at the mercy of the foe. Her 
ports might have been instantly blockaded, and 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 73 

however great the confidence that might have been 
reposed in the forces then under the command of 
Admiral Boue de Lapeyrere, it would seem some- 
what doubtful whether they would have been able 
to prevent a landing which, if it did not hopelessly 
disconcert, would have seriously impeded the 
mobilisation of her armies. 

Whether it would have been possible to transport 
the invaluable African troops to the Mother Country 
is a matter of doubt. French trade and the power 
to import goods from overseas would have turned 
on the issue of a naval encounter of which none 
could predict the result. Nor would France have 
been the only one to sustain this blow in the heart. 
Italy also would have been compelled to forgo her 
rightful patriotic aspirations if her immense sea- 
board had been open to attack by the German 
Battle Fleet. 

I freely admit that this is not a plausible hypo- 
thesis, for England owed it to herself to take sides 
with France and Russia. But let us just imagine 
for a moment what would have been the result if 
England, yielding to the current of pacifism and 
to the wave of economy which had latterly swept 
over the British public, had ceased to maintain the 
superiority of her Fleet and had abandoned the 
naval rivalry in which the Germans so stubbornly 
persevered. 



74 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

The value of the EngUsh collaboration, viewed 
not only in its immediate results but in its subse- 
quent potentialities, would have been conspicuously 
modified. How could the Expeditionary Force have 
been conveyed across to France if the Pas-de-Calais 
had been at the mercy of German raiders ? How 
could troops have been conveyed across the ocean 
to Europe from far-off Colonies, or European troops 
have been sent to guard the threatened outposts 
of the Empire, if the oceans had been insecure ? 
How could troops have been raised, armed, and 
trained in the British Isles if Britain itself had 
lain under the threat of imminent invasion ? How 
would it have been possible to feed the civil 
population of the United Kingdom, France, and 
the other Western Allies, when English, French, 
and neutral vessels were being freely held up by 
hostile cruisers ? Had it not been for the formid- 
able superiority of the British Fleet, peace would 
have been promptly concluded. 

The German Emperor, on the eve of his Waterloo, 
must be saying sorrowfully as Napoleon said a 
century before him, " Ah ! if only I had had com- 
mand of the sea ! " For the certainty that he will 
be driven to utter this sorrowful ejaculation we 
have to thank England and her Navy, which have 
given us the most indisputable guarantee of victory. 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 75 

The Service rendered to France 

We should prefer to let a Frenchman speak of 
the service rendered to France by the British Fleet, 
and on this point Monsieur Paul de Rousiers, 
Secretary of the Comite des Armateurs de France, 
is particularly well qualified to give an opinion. 

After reminding his readers that more than half 
of France's overseas trade has been brought to 
a sudden standstill by the war, he discusses in an 
article entitled, " The English AUiance and the 
Freedom of the Seas," the consequences of this 
freedom, and arrives at the following conclusions : 

"In brief, the freedom of the seas enables us to 
provide our army with food, clothes, and boots ; to 
furnish it with munitions ; to maintain the supply 
of horses for our cavalry ; to guarantee our motor 
transport and air service ; to provide, for all indus- 
tries connected with national defence and for the 
railways which are an essential element therein, 
those supplies of coal without which everything would 
be brought to a standstill. Even now the Hst is 
very incomplete. We are the less appreciative of 
the advantages resulting from the freedom of the 
seas because we have never been deprived of them. 
But little reflection is needed to show us the disasters 
that would follow if it were lost or even curtailed." 

And, now, can it be supposed that the command 
of the seas would have been assured to us if England 



^6 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

had not come to our aid ? We sometimes complain 
that the German Battle Fleet keeps out of harm's 
way and voluntarily shuts itself up in the Baltic. 
It would unquestionably have come out if we had 
only our own Fleet to set against it, and we might 
possibly have had to submit to a sort of blockade 
similar in character to that which the combined 
Fleets are imposing on the Central Empires. In 
short, the position might have been reversed to 
our disadvantage. In any case we should have 
been compelled to undertake unaided the pursuit, 
destruction, or immobilisation of the several German 
cruisers and armed auxiliaries by which the Atlantic, 
the Pacific, and the Mediterranean were infested- 
The task which, even under present conditions, has 
proved long and arduous enough, would have 
presented difficulties of a widely different order if 
France had been acting alone. Our trading vessels 
would have been exposed for a longer period to 
attacks by raiders such as the Dresden, the Eniden, 
the Koenigsberg, the Prince Eitel-Friedrich, the 
Kronprinz Wilhelm, to say nothing of the much- 
talked-of Goeben and Breslau ; and a victory such 
as that of the Falkland Islands would have cost us 
a very big effort indeed. 

Nor is this all, for the blockade of Germany 
would not have been so much as attempted by us 
if we had had to rely solely on our own resources. 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 77 

The Figures 

There are, moreover, in these matters certain 
figures which demand our attention. They are the 
figures which indicate the respective values of the 
Franco- Russian and Austro-German Fleets and of the 
Franco- Russian-English and the Austro-German 
Fleets. Furthermore, in our interpretation of these 
figures we must not lose sight of the fact that 
Russia and France have a much longer coast-line 
to protect than the Central Empires, and that a 
large part of the Russian Fleet was stationed in the 
Black Sea, thus giving the German Alliance an 
immense initial advantage from the attacker's 
point of view. In 1914 France had twenty-six 
large battleships and ten under construction ; 
Russia had ten and seven under construction. The 
two Allies thus possessed thirty-six effective units 
and seventeen in process of building. 

Germany, in 1914, had forty-six ships of equal 
value, and six on the stocks ; Austria- Hungary had 
fifteen and two under construction. The Central 
Empires had thus between them sixty-one fighting 
units and eight building. Their superiority was 
therefore unquestionable. On the other hand, 
Germany and Austria could never dream of coping 
with their adversaries if England were in the scale 
against them, for the number of fighting units 



78 



BRITAIN IN ARMS 



opposed to them would then be ninety-seven, with 
thirty-six in course of construction. 

As for the other naval units the proportion would 
be about the same. 



Battle Cruisers. Built. 

Without England : France o 
Russia o 



Building. 
o 
4 



With England : England 9 



Germany 4 
Austria-Hungary o 



Built. 



Cruisers. 

Without England : France 26 
Russia 12 



5 

3 



3 

Building. 



38 
With England : England 47 

85 

Germany 9 

Austria-Hungary 2 



II 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 



79 



Light Cruisers. Built. 

Without England : France 8 
Russia o 



Building. 



8 
With England : England 65 



8 
20 



73 

Germany 41 
Austria-Hungary 11 



28 

6 
3 



52 



Destroyers. 

Without England : France 
Russia 


Built. 
88 
84 


Building, 

7 
45 


With England : England 


172 
220 


52 
36 




392 


88 


Germany 
Austria- Hungary 


130 

17 


12 
3 



147 



15 



8o BRITAIN IN 


ARMS 




Torpedo Boats. 
Without England : France 
Russia 


Built. 

143 
23 


Building, 


With England : England 


166 
106 

272 




Germany 
Austria- Hungary 


80 
70 




27 




150 


27 


Submarines (figures doubtful). 
Without England : France 
Russia 


Built. 

54 
22 


Building. 
26 
18 


With England : England 


76 

74 


44 
27 




150 


71 


Germany 
Austria-Hungary 


30 
6 


14 
5 



36 19 

These figures are convincing. Without the 
British Fleet the necessary command of the sea 
would have been subject to all the uncertainties and 
hazards of a naval battle ; with it that command 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 8i 

became a reality not only indisputable but undis- 
puted. That is a fact of which we should never 
lose sight. 

It should be noted that, as Gastone Chiesi pointed 
out in the Secolo of the nth March, the war came 
upon the Fleet when the building programmes of 
the last few years were nearing final completion. 

" Instead of dissipating its strength and exhausting 
its resources in prolonged and difficult operations ; 
instead of using itself up in encounters with sub- 
marines or lesser German craft, the British Fleet 
is continually tending, in spite of the war, to renew 
its strength, to keep itself up to date, to make 
itself thoroughly complete in all departments. 
A large number of battle cruisers, of swift and 
powerfully-armed cruisers, and of smaller craft of 
every kind, were on the stocks, ready for launching, 
or else very near completion. 

"During the last seven months the naval dockyards 
— both Admiralty and private — have concentrated 
all their efforts on accelerating the building of 
the vessels then under construction ; while the 
arsenals, by working day and night, have succeeded in 
turning out the requisite equipment for the different 
types of vessel as and when they were launched. We 
have thus instances of one or two super-Dreadnoughts 
being completed and commissioned in less than 
fourteen months from the time they were laid down. 
We have seen the Tiger, which many people sup- 
posed still in process of arming, participating in the 
battle of the Dogger Bank, and, what is equally 



82 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

remarkable, the super-Dreadnought Queen Eliza- 
beth taking a share in the bombardment of the 
Dardanelles, where it appears that her new 15-inch 
guns wrought marvellous execution. 

"If Admiral Jellicoe is in a position to detach 
from his main fleet a vessel which has hitherto been 
regarded as the most up to date of all the ships 
under his command to undertake a secondary 
operation such as the reduction of the Dardanelles 
Forts, it means that he has at his disposal other 
vessels still more modern and more formidably 
armed than the one sent by him to drive the Turks 
out of Constantinople. 

" It is not possible to give exact details regarding 
this matter,^ but, from personal knowledge, I can 
state with certainty that the energy with which 
work has been carried on in the dockyards and 
arsenals in these latter days has been simply 
staggering. Vessels are launched, armed, equipped, 
and put into commission with a rapidity that is 
little short of miraculous. 

*' It seems almost impossible that results such as 
those of which British naval construction works can 
boast could have been achieved by an organisation 
and discipline merely human. One after another 
these great cruisers leave the naval ports in the 
South of England and disappear into the mists of 

^ Since the above was written certain particulars have been 
furnished us. In the course of January, 1916, Mr. Balfour, 
First Lord of the Admiralty, speaking in the House of Commons, 
said : " The new Fleet built by us since the war broke out is 
equal to the whole German Fleet." It also includes vessels more 
powerful than any hitherto known. 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 83 

the North Sea. We shall hear no more of them save 
by chance or when the war is over." 

What is a Fleet expected to Perform ? 

Mr. A. J. Balfour answered this question in a letter 
to the New York Herald about the middle of 1915. 

" If we desire to know," says he, " whether the 
British Fleet has during the last year proved itself 
worthy of its traditions, there is a very simple 
method of arriving at the truth. There are seven, 
and only seven, functions which a Fleet can per- 
form. 

(i) It may drive the enemy's commerce off the 
sea. 

(2) It may protect its own commerce. 

(3) It may render the enemy's fleet impotent. 

(4) It may make the transport of enemy troops 

across the sea impossible, whether for 
attack or defence. 

(5) It may transport its own troops where it will. 

(6) It may secure their supplies and (in fitting 

circumstances) 

(7) It may assist their operations." 

Let us consider if all these tasks found the British 
Fleet equal to what was expected of it. 

The Mobilisation of the British Fleet 

First and foremost it was necessary that it should 
be mobilised in time. It is, indeed, a matter of 



84 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

common knowledge that it was Germany's idea to 
compensate for her numerical inferiority in ships 
by a blow struck suddenly at England before the 
latter had had time to mobilise. The plan failed, 
for, by a piece of good fortune, England had already 
assembled her forces before even the war broke 
out. It is important to recall these events, for 
their effect on the course of the European War 
was decisive. The naval correspondent of the 
Westminster Gazette has given us an excellent account 
of the matter in his article of the 20th August, 
19 15. He points out that early in the spring of 
1 9 14 — doubtless in February — it was decided to 
effect a trial mobilisation of the Fleet, and on the 
1 8th July a large number of Dreadnoughts, cruisers, 
destroyers, and air service units were assembled 
at Portsmouth. At this time, be it noted, the 
Austro-Serbian quarrel had already broken out. 
The mobilisation had, as a matter of fact, begun 
on the 15th, the various reserves having joined 
the vessels of the Third Fleet to undergo the annual 
training, while the crews of the Second Fleet had 
been brought up to full strength. 

" The ten days' manoeuvres really began on the 
15th, when the various reserves had joined the 
ships of the Third Fleet for their annual training, 
and the ships of the Second Fleet had been^brought 
to their full equipment of ofhcers and men by the 



\ 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 85 

depletion of the schools, the shore establishments, 
and the various barracks. The ten days' training of 
the reservists in the Third Fleet was completed by 
July 24th, and these reservists were dismissed to 
their homes — thus demobilising the Third Fleet. 
The tactical exercises which had followed the 
Review of the i8th were over, and all the ships of 
the Second Fleet returned to their home ports, and 
the First to Portland, on Saturday, the 25th. In 
the normal course the Second Fleet would have 
disembarked its additional ofTicers and men to the 
schools, training establishments, and barracks forth- 
with. Had the Second Fleet completed this dis- 
embarkation by Monday, July 27th, it would have 
been as completely demobiUsed as was the Third. 
But apparently only a part of the crews was dis- 
missed on Saturday, and those that left were only 
drafted back into the respective barracks. Again, 
had the routine been followed, many of the officers 
and men of the First Fleet would have been off 
holiday-making by Monday midday. 

" It was on Saturday, 25th, that the Serbian Prime 
Minister handed his reply to Baron Giesl at Bel- 
grade. After a quarter of an hour's comparison of 
this reply with the Austrian Note, the Baron in- 
formed the Premier that it did not comply with 
Austria's requirements, and diplomatic negotiations 
were broken off. This news reached England on 
Sunday. Mr. Churchill was at Over strand and 
Prince Louis was on the spot. He thereupon issued 
the order that has become historic. The First Fleet 
was told not to disperse for manoeuvre leave, and 
the vessels of the Second Fleet kept at their home 



86 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

ports in proximity to their balance crews. The 
Second Fleet, though partially demobiUsed by the 
loss of some of their crews, could thus be brought 
to full strength within an hour or two. On Monday 
Mr. Churchill returned to the Admiralty, and on 
Tuesday Austria declared war on Serbia. It must 
have been obvious that a European war was pos- 
sible, and on Wednesday the First Fleet, under Sir 
George Callaghan, left Portland and was never 
seen or heard of again. It had undoubtedly gone 
to its war stations. On the following Sunday, 
August 2nd, Germany having declared war on 
Russia and France, a second Sunday order was 
issued, all the reserves were called out, and by 
Monday it was announced that the entire British 
Fleet was ready. Note first, then, that the order 
of July 26th was the first of a series of very im- 
portant steps. 

** According to the Navy List of August last, the 
First Fleet consisted of twenty Dreadnoughts, the 
Agamemnon eight, King Edward VIFs, four light 
cruisers, four fleet auxiliaries, and eight destroyers. 
Allied, so to speak, with the First Fleet was the 
First Battle Cruiser Squadron, consisting of Lion, 
Queen Mary, Princess Royal, and New Zealand ; 
the Second Cruiser Squadron, Shannon and three 
Natals ; the Third Cruiser Squadron, the four 
Devonshires ; and the Light Cruiser Squadron, the 
four Sonthamptons. And to this Fleet was attached 
the first, second, third, and fourth flotillas, each 
with a cruiser flagship and a depot ship, and com- 
prising in all between seventy and eighty destroyers. 

'* The Second Fleet, according to the sea authority, 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 87 

consisted of the Fifth and Sixth Battle Squadrons, 
the eight Formidahles in the first, the Lord Nelson, 
Vengeance, and five Duncans in the second. Of 
cruiser squadrons there were two, the fifth and 
sixth, all ships of old type and small fighting 
value ; and under the Admiral of the Second Fleet 
were four patrol flotillas, consisting of seven small 
cruisers, four depot ships, between seventy and 
eighty destroyers, and in addition some fifty sub- 
marines. 

" The Third Fleet was made up of the Seventh and 
Eighth Battle Squadrons and five squadrons of 
cruisers, all of older type than those in the Second 
Fleet. 

'' I have enumerated these fleets at perhaps tedious 
length because if we are to see things in their right 
proportion it is important to distinguish between 
the war values of these different groups. The order 
of the 26th only affected the First Fleet to the 
extent of stopping manoeuvre leave. Had the 
first batch of officers and the first watches amongst 
the men gone on leave the following Monday 
morning — that is, the 27th — they could undoubtedly 
all have been recalled the same evening, could have 
rejoined on the Tuesday, and Sir George Callaghan 
could have led his fleet away from Portland on 
Wednesday, exactly as if they had been kept on 
board. So far as the First Fleet is concerned, it 
is important to remember that it does not follow, 
if this order had not been given, that ' the country 
would have been left open to that surprise attack 
which for years it has been the German ambition 
to achieve.' What made such an attack as this 



88 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

impossible was the Fleet going to its war stations 
on the Wednesday, unless we are to suppose that 
the Germans, on hearing of the order given on the 
previous Sunday, at once realised that the game was 
up. But is not the real explanation of the German 
failure either to get on to the trade routes or to 
attempt a surprise attack of the Grand Fleet that 
neither the German statesman nor the German 
soldier thought that Great Britain would fight ? 
To have done either of these things effectively 
would have needed far more preparation than was 
possible between July 26th and July 29th, when 
the First Fleet was in station and the German Navy 
paralysed. 

" It appears to me that the most important factor 
to keep clear is that it was the movements of the 
First Fleet that were decisive in creating this posi- 
tion. It represents, after all, at least 80 per cent 
of the fighting value of the British Fleet, and con- 
siderably more than 50 per cent of its destroyer 
value. The battleships of the Second and Third 
Fleet clearly did not influence the position at all, 
and once the main fleet was in position, the mobiUsa- 
tion and distribution of the Second and Third 
Fleets were completely protected from hostile 
interruption." 

The moral of this detailed account from the 
strictly naval point of the events which preceded 
the declaration of war is pointed by Mr. Gastone 
Chiesi, English correspondent of the Secolo. " In 
this way," he says, " Germany automatically lost 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 89 

the command of the seas from the very first day, 
without a single shot being fired." 

The German Fleet paralysed from the Beginning 

The German Fleet made no attempt to carry out 
its long-cherished plans for striking a sudden blow. 
The game was up, for the British forces were 
mobilised before the German Fleet could even put 
to sea. The latter resolved to take shelter in the 
harbour of Cuxhaven and Hamburg, in Heligoland 
Bight and in the Kiel Canal. Since then it has not 
ventured outside its protected waters. 

Germany having seen her plan for a sudden attack 
nipped in the bud by the rapidity of the British 
mobilisation, conceived the idea of doing to England 
by sea what General Joffre was doing to her own 
armies on land — of adopting, that is to say, the 
wearing down policy. They thus hoped to reduce 
the superiority of the British Fleet ship by ship 
and then to establish a position of equality between 
herself and her adversary. " This plan," as Mr. 
Balfour stated in August, 1915, " has failed com- 
pletely. The desired equality is farther off to-day 
than it was twelve months ago." No one, indeed, 
could regard as serious actions the raids carried 
out by a few of von Tirpitz's cruisers on the East 
Coast of England. 

By theii' bombardment of undefended towns like 



90 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

Yarmouth, Scarborough, and Hartlepool ; by their 
slaughter of women and children ; and by the 
damage done to civilian property, they acted in 
contravention of international law and of the 
dictates of ordinary humanity. Their furtive and 
perturbed appearances were far from proving what 
Germany hoped to convey to the credulous, namely, 
that her fleet enjoyed full liberty of action, and 
that Great Britain was incapable of interfering 
with its comings and goings. 

In no long time, indeed, they were completely 
stopped, and these raids were more costly to 
Germany than to England, since the latter suffered 
no loss to her forces, whereas the Germans lost the 
Bliicher near the Dogger Bank, while the Seydlitz 
and the Derfflingcr were set on fire by Sir David 
Beatty's squadron. 

That, indeed, is the sum total of the work of the 
German Fleet. There must be added the exploits 
of a few notorious corsairs, light cruisers, or armed 
auxiharies, which kept up a war of hide and seek 
for a few months in the early stages of the war 
and managed to inflict some losses on British 
trade, but which were soon brought to book. Such 
were the Emden, the Koenigsberg, and the Karlsruhe. 

It may be safely said that each time the British 
Fleet has encountered the German Fleet at sea it 
has beaten it. On every occasion it has proved its 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 91 

superiority : on the 28th August, 1914, in Heligo- 
land Bight ; the 8th December, 1914, off the Falk- 
land Islands ; the 24th January, 1915, at the 
Dogger Bank in the North Sea. 

On the 31st May, 1916, a great naval battle took 
place off the coast of Jutland, in which the superiority 
of the British Fleet was completely demonstrated. 
The Battle Squadron under the command of Admiral 
Beatty joined battle with the German High Seas 
Fleet, without it being possible for the whole of 
the British Fleet to get into touch with the enemy. 
After a very brief action between the opposing 
forces the German Fleet fled in disorder and made 
for its own ports. Unfavourable weather alone saved 
it from complete destruction. The German losses, 
considered absolutely as well as relatively, exceeded 
those sustained by the British. 

I have often heard it asked why the British Fleet, 
with its indisputable superiority over the German, 
does not force the latter to fight by going and 
throwing down the gauntlet in the very harbours 
and waters where it lies in hiding. The question is 
asked by people who apply to sea warfare the same 
line of argument as applies to land fighting. But 
a fleet bears no resemblance to an army. An army 
may be chased in any direction and destroyed, in 
fight after fight, by the army of the enemy, for on 
land it is not possible for one or other of the 



92 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

belligerents to break off the action. The one that 
refuses to fight is incapable of resistance. 

In naval warfare it is quite otherwise, and it is 
justly remarked by Mr. J. R. Thursfield that " one 
of the essential characteristics of naval warfare is 
that the most important ships of one of the belliger- 
ents can always be kept immune from attack by 
the other. All they have to do is to remain in their 
own harbours, and these harbours can be so easily 
defended that it is impossible to reduce them merely 
by attacking them from the sea. The enemy 
cannot be forced to accept battle if he refuses to 
come out into the open sea, and no method has 
been discovered up to the present of forcing him 
out to sea." 

Furthermore, as Mr. H. A. L. Fisher rightly 
observes : " While a general may risk a battalion, 
or even an army corps, in a costly enterprise, where 
the losses may be repaired almost at once, grave 
damage inflicted at sea is not a temporary wound 
capable of being cured while the war is in progress, 
but a permanent and irremediable disaster." It 
takes nearly two years to build a Dreadnought, 
and many more to train a naval officer. The British 
Fleet, in view of the responsibility which rests on 
it for the safeguarding of trade and the transport 
of troops, is not in a position rashly to run such 
risks. 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 93 

Moreover, if the end and aim of a fleet is to 
destroy the fleet of its enemies, need we do more 
than point out that the pressure exerted by the 
Enghsh Fleet on the German Fleet since the first 
day of the war has been so effective that the result 
is the same as if the immense and ambitious armada 
of Germany had never been built. Behind its mine 
fields and its hedge of submarines it is as powerless 
as if the forces of Sir John Jellicoe had long since 
sent it to the bottom of the sea. 

The Safety of Transports 

The British Fleet has from the outset of the war 
enabled large contingents of troops from India, 
Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to be brought 
to Europe. With its co-operation the Expeditionary 
Force was conveyed across the Channel in 19 14 
without loss of any kind, and since that time, 
without any interruption whatever, fresh troops — 
amounting to a total of more than a million men — 
have been conveyed to France, while, thanks to it, 
British Divisions were landed safe and sound in 
Egypt and the Dardanelles. 

Nor must we omit to remark that out of the 
vast number of transports that have ploughed the 
seas for more than a year, the enemy has only 
succeeded in sinking one or two in the ^Egean. 
Does not that fact bear silent and indisputable 



94 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

witness of the continuous ascendency exerted by 
the British Fleet ? 

Furthermore, side by side with the transport of 
troops, England has succeeded in sending muni- 
tions and material to all the various scenes of the 
world war. Never was there a mightier task, and 
this will be recognized when it is understood that 
in some cases — that of the Dardanelles for example 
— it was necessary to bring from a great distance 
every single thing the troops needed — including 
even water — the nature of the country making it 
impossible to obtain supplies on the spot. 

Then, again, thanks to the command of the seas 
maintained by the British Fleet, munitions and 
stores have been freely imported into France and 
England from the United States. To this the 
Temps drew the attention of its readers. 

"If, at the outbreak of war, we were able to 
complete the equipment of our army with a rapidity 
which was not the only nor the least cause of sur- 
prise to the German General Staff, we owe it to 
the Fleet that has given us the command of 
the seas. We were short of horses. They were 
brought from Argentina and Canada. We were 
short of wool and of raw material for our metal 
industries. We applied to the stock-breeders 
of Australia. Lancashire sent us her cottons and 
cloth, the Black Country its steel. And now that 
the consumption of meat threatens to imperil our 
supplies of live stock, we are enabled to avoid the 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 95 

danger by the importation of frozen cargoes. For 
the present situation the mastery of the sea is not 
only an advantage but a necessity. In view of the 
fact that the greater part of our coal area is invaded 
by the enemy, the loss of the command of the sea 
by England would involve more than her own 
capitulation. She indeed would be forced to capitu- 
late tlirough starvation. But France also and her 
new ally Italy, being deprived of coal and tlierefore 
of the means of supplying their factories and military 
transport, would soon also be at the mercy of their 
adversaries." 

Mr. H. A. L. Fisher points out that it is owing 
to the command of the seas being safeguarded by 
England that Serbia was enabled to obtain fresh 
supplies of munitions, which indirectly explains 
how it was that the Serbian army succeeded in 
December, 1914, in so far recovering itself as to 
drive out the Austrian invaders from their soil, 
make 60,000 prisoners, and recapture the city of 
Belgrade. 

After the great Austro-German offensive in the 
Balkans, Serbia in her hour of trial was, once more, 
effectively aided by the British Fleet. Thanks to 
the latter one hundred and thirty thousand Serbian 
soldiers were rescued from the deserts of Albania 
and conveyed to Corcyra, where they were re- 
equipped. Thence they were transported to Salonica 
to join with the forces of General Sarrail. 

But while the Allies were able, undisturbed, to 



96 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

transport men and material from the remotest 
parts of the world, and in circumstances of immense 
difficulty, England completely prevented Germany 
from doing anything of the sort. Germany was 
compelled to look on helplessly at the loss of her 
most cherished colonies : Samoa, Togoland, New 
Pomerania, the Cameroons, German South-West 
Africa. Moreover, the combined efforts of English, 
South African, Indian and Belgian forces are 
now being directed towards reducing German East 
Africa. 

Germany has been unable to transport either 
men or stores. No aid has reached her from with- 
out, save by clandestine trade. Contraband of 
war reaching her in neutral bottoms is shrinking 
day by day. It would be impossible to estimate 
the number of vessels handed over to the Prize 
Court without instituting an enquiry throughout 
India and the Colonies. 

Finally, it must be noted that the Fleet has 
played a direct and most effective part in several 
mihtary operations. The colossal share — not un- 
marked by heavy losses — which it bore in the 
attack on the Dardanelles is widely known. People 
are less familiar with the work wrought by it, 
with the assistance of the Japanese, at Samoa, in 
the Marshall and CaroHne Islands ; in the Cameroons 
where the French lent their aid ; in Walfisch Bay 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 97 

and in East Africa ; at Tsingtau with the co-operation 
of the Japanese ; in the Persian Gulf ; in the Suez 
Canal ; in the Gulf of Alexandretta ; in the port 
of Smyrna ; in the Falkland Islands ; and, more 
recently, at Dedeagatch. 

We must also bear in mind the valuable assist- 
ance rendered by the British Fleet in the operations 
in Flanders, particularly during the first battle of 
the Yser ; and in Serbia, where an English naval 
officer on duty on the Danube was decorated by 
the Serbian King. Nor must we overlook the re- 
peated bombardments of the Belgian coast, especially 
of the submarine base at Zeebrugge. 

Nor, again, must we lose sight of England's assist- 
ance in policing the Mediterranean in times of 
stress and difficulty. If the German submarines 
have won an unenviable notoriety by sinking 
merchant ships and drowning innocent victims it is 
the pride of the British submarines that they have 
performed none but military tasks — and performed 
them well. They have made successful attacks 
on the Moltke and other German ships in the Baltic, 
disputed with Germany the command of those 
waters, and put a stop to trade between Germany 
and Scandinavia. In the Sea of Marmora they 
have succeeded in torpedoing many Turkish troop- 
ships and more than two hundred trading vessels. 



98 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

Destruction of Enemy Commerce 

The activities which we have hitherto considered 
have been chiefly mihtary ; but, in addition, the 
Fleet has another duty to perform of first-rate im- 
portance. According to The Times History of the 
War it is an axiom recognised by all the highest 
authorities, and proved by historic fact, that the 
power to destroy enemy commerce or to drive it 
from the seas, while maintaining one's own more 
or less intact, is a certain road to final victory, even 
against a military state of great superiority. And 
England has determined to carry out the blockade 
of Germany. 

It is no exaggeration to say that Germany's 
seaborne trade entirely ceased on the day war was 
declared. At the beginning of August, 1914, the 
number of ships of the German Mercantile Marine 
engaged in foreign trade was 149 1. Austria had 
323. All were shut up in port, sunk, or seized by 
the combined fleets of England and the Allies. 

Let us quote the exact figures. At the outbreak 
of war 69 German vessels were detained in the ports 
of the United Kingdom ; 34 in British ports in 
other parts of the world ; 26 were detained in 
English ports after war was declared ; 116 have 
been captured at sea by the British ; 121 were 
detained by England's allies (including Italy) at 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 99 

the outbreak of war ; 26 have been captured or 
sunk by the Allies ; 27 have been captured or sunk 
in German ports occupied by the Allies ; 18 have 
been captured in the region of the Suez Canal ; 
3 Austrian vessels have been seized in the region 
of the Suez Canal ; 35 Austrian vessels were de- 
tained by Britain's AlHes, including Italy, at the 
outbreak of war ; 3 Austrian vessels were captured 
by England's Allies, and 2 by English vessels ; 7 
Austrian ships were detained in English ports at 
the outbreak of war ; 10 Turkish vessels have been 
detained, captured, or sunk. 

We will let the Germans themselves tell us the 
importance of the English blockade. In its issue 
of the 2oth August, 1914, The Times quoted a 
prophetic article from the Vorwdrts, which merits 
preservation. 

" If the British blockade took place imports into 
Germany of roughly six thousand million marks 
(£300,000,000) and exports of about eight thousand 
miUion marks (£400,000,000) would be interrupted 
— together with an oversea trade of 14 milliards of 
marks (£700,000,000). This is assuming that Ger- 
many's trade relations with Austria-Hungary, 
Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, 
Norway, and Sweden remained entirely uninfluenced 
by the war — an assumption the optimism of which 
is self-evident. A glance at the figures of the im- 
ports shows the frightful seriousness of the situation. 
What is the position, for example, of the German 



100 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

textile industry if it must forgo the imports of over- 
sea cotton, jute, and wool ? If it must forgo the 
462 millions (£23,100,000) of cotton from the United 
States, the 73 millions (£3,650,000) of cotton from 
Egypt, the 58 milHons (£2,900,000) of cotton from 
British India, the 100 millions (£5,000,000) of jute 
from the same countries, and further the 121 
milhons (£6,050,000) of merino wool from Austraha, 
and the 23 millions (£1,150,000) of the same 
material from the Argentine ? What could she do 
in the event of a war of longer duration without 
these raw materials which in one year amount in 
value to 830 millions (£41,500,000) ? 

" It may also be mentioned," said the Vorwdrts, 
" that Germany received in 1913 alone from the 
United States about 300 millions (£15,000,000) of 
copper, and further that the petroleum import 
would be as good as completely shut down. The 
German leather industry is largely dependent on 
imports of hides from oversea. The Argentine alone 
sent 71 millions (£3,550,000) worth of hides. Agri- 
culture would be sensibly injured by the interrup- 
tion of the exports of Chilean saltpetre from Chile, 
which in 1913 were of the value of not less than 
131 miUions (£6,550,000). The significance of an 
effective blockade of German foodstuffs is to be 
seen in the following few figures : The value in 
marks of wheat from the United States is 165 
milHons (£8,250,000), from Russia 81 millions 
(£4,050,000), from Canada 51 millions (£2,550,000), 
from the Argentine 75 millions (£3,750,000) — 372 
millions (£18,600,000) from these four countries. 
There will also be a discontinuance of the importa- 



THE WORK OF THE FI-£ETv' ''to? 

tion from Russia of the following foodstuffs :j Eggs 
worth 80 milHons (£4,000,000), milk and butter 63 
millions (;f 3, 150,000), hay 32 millions (£1,600,000), 
lard from the United States worth 112 millions 
(£5,600,000), rice from British India worth 46 
milHons (£2,300,000), and coffee from Brazil worth 
151 millions (£7,550,000) should be added to the 
foregoing. No one who contemplates without pre- 
judice," said the Vorwdrts, " these few facts, to 
which many others could be added, will be able 
lightly to estimate the economic consequences of a 
war of long duration." 

Protection of the Allies' Trade ^ 

With regard to the protection afforded by the 
British Fleet to national and allied commerce, there 
can be no question about its value. Trade between 
England and France has been carried on in time of 
war with almost the same degree of immunity as 
obtained in time of peace. In considering this 
aspect of the matter we must differentiate between 
two distinct periods. The first menace to sea-borne 
trade were the raids carried out by certain German 
cruisers, to which we have already alluded. A 
report of the British Admiralty gives us the follow- 
ing information in regard to the matter. 

" The percentage of loss is much less than was 
reckoned on before the war. Out of 4,000 British 
ships engaged in foreign trade, only 39 have been 



102 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

sunk by the enemy, just under one per cent in all. 
The rate of insurance for cargoes, which on the out- 
break of the war was fixed at five guineas per cent, 
has now been reduced to two guineas per cent 
without injury to the solvency of the fund. For 
hulls, as apart from cargoes, the insurance also has 
been considerably reduced. Between 8,000 and 
9,000 foreign voyages have been undertaken to and 
from United Kingdom ports, less than five per 1,000 
of which have been interfered with, and of these 
losses a large number have been caused by merchant 
vessels taking everything for granted and proceed- 
ing without precaution as if there were no war. On 
the other hand, the German oversea trade has 
practically ceased to exist. Nearly all their fast 
ships which could have been used as auxiliary 
cruisers were promptly penned into neutral har- 
bours or have taken refuge in their own. Among 
the comparatively few German ships which have 
put to sea, 133 have been captured or nearly four 
times the number of those lost by the very large 
British mercantile marine." 

This statement was made when seven or eight 
formidable raiders were still at large. 

The second period dates from the declaration 
of the blockade of England by submarines. From 
the outset both Press and public regarded this 
declaration as another instance of German bluff. 
The idea that twenty or thirty submarines were 
going to extinguish the sea-borne trade of the 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 103 

British Isles struck them as absurd ; and, while 
not hesitating to admit to the full the loss inflicted 
on British tonnage by the German submarines, it 
may be safely asserted that the statistics confirm 
the original estimate of the significance of the 
campaign. Life in the English ports goes on pretty 
well as calmly as it did before the war, and the 
seafaring population show not the smallest signs 
of perturbation. 

Let us glance at the following list of Trans- 
atlantic sailings of ships of all nationalities over 
300 tons, starting from or arriving at English 
ports : 

(a) Before the submarine blockade. 

(b) Since the blockade began (i8th February, 

and we shall see how insignificant has been its 
influence on British shipping as a whole. 



Week ending 


January 


27 


February 


3 


>> 


10 


if 


17 


>> 


24 


March 


3 


>> 


10 


*f 


17 



1503 

1420 

I4I3 

1438 

I38I 
1474 

1557 
1539 



104 



BRITAIN IN ARMS 



Week 


ending 


March 


24 


>» 


30 


April 


7 


f} 


14 


if 


21 


i* 


28 


May 


5 


it 


12 


*i 


19 


it 


26 


June 


2 


a 


9 


it 


16 


it 


23 



1450 
1559 
1234 
1432 

I5I9 
I44I 

1604 

1427 

1438 

1323 
1382 

1335 

1347 
1469 

Net tonnage of British vessels entered and cleared 
with cargoes from and to the United States of 
America during the seven months ended July, 
1916, compared with the corresponding period in 
1914. 

A. During seven months ended July, 1916. 
Vessels entered. Vessels cleared. 

Tons. Tons. 

3,672,927 2,015,070 

B. During seven months ended July, 1914. 
Vessels entered. Vessels cleared. 

Tons. Tons. 

Zi7^7i7^9 3,060,626 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 105 

The Germans had boasted that they were able 
to reduce the population of the British Isles to 
starvation. What has been the measure of their 
success ? Mr. H. A. L. Fisher puts the matter very 
clearly as follows : 

" We have now experienced five months of the 
so-called blockade. Our imports for June, 1915, 
when compared with our imports for the same 
month in 1914, have risen 28-6% ; and our imports 
for the last five months, when we compare them 
with those for the corresponding period of last year, 
show an increase of 17*8%. 

" We need not therefore be surprised to learn 
that there has been a considerable advance in our 
total imports of meat since last year, a rise amount- 
ing to £9,794,000, or 36-2 per cent, for the last 
five months (February to June, respectively), and 
to £2,500,000, or 50 per cent, for the month of 
June. But these figures, though furnishing a remark- 
able illustration of our continuing ease of importation 
despite the activities of the German submarines, 
are less striking than the record of our importation 
of grain and flour during the same five months. 
The value of imported cereals has arisen in this 
period from £26,753,000 to £45,887,000 — an in- 
crease of 71-5 per cent. Nor has there been any 
decline in the staple luxuries of the poor. On the 
contrary, the United Kingdom has imported for 
the six months ended June 30th, 1915, 163,860,760 
pounds of tea, as against 123,230,277 imported last 
year and 117,460,581 imported in 1913. 



io6 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

*' That there has been a considerable shortage in 
tonnage since last autumn is true enough. The 
German and Austrian shipping tonnage, which is 
about one-seventh of the world's tonnage, is practic- 
ally unavailable, and the requisitioning of shipping 
by the Admiralty and other Governments — and it 
must be remembered that our Admiralty has taken 
up about one-sixth of the total number of steam 
vessels belonging to the United Kingdom — has 
accentuated the shortage and led to a rise of freight 
rates. Nevertheless, the position does not seem to be 
getting materially worse either as regards freight rates 
or as regards the quantity of tonnage available. In- 
deed, an examination of certain typical freight rates 
from March ist to June 30th, i.e., grain freights from 
the River Plate to the United Kingdom and coal 
freights from the United Kingdom to the Mediter- 
ranean, show that the tendency has been, on the 
whole, downwards rather than upwards, and at 
the end of June, in both cases, freights were some 
25 per cent lower than at the beginning of March. 

" There is then, as yet, no indication that the 
United Kingdom will be starved into submission 
by the German submarines. We are importing 
freely, we continue to carry the greater part of the 
world's trade, and if the available tonnage falls 
short of the demand, the congestion of our ports is 
more accountable for the shortage than any appre- 
hension of peril from submarines. It would^seem 
then that we are in a position, so far as our food 
suppHes go, to continue the war indefinitely. Our 
enemy, it is true, relies upon his new type of sub- 
marine, but if a few fast cruisers did not materially 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 107 

affect our overseas trade at the beginning of the 
war, a few fast submarines will be no more effective 
now when our general naval power and special 
experience in meeting submarine attacks have been 
greatly increased."^ 

The British Mercantile Marine has been of im- 
mense service to the allied nations, as was emphasised 
in a speech delivered by Lord Curzon in the House 
of Lords on the 3rd May, 1916. 

Over 43 per cent of British shipping had been 
requisitioned for the naval, military and essential 
civil needs of the Allied Countries. 

Fourteen per cent had been occupied in carrying 
foodstuffs and raw materials on behalf of the 
Government, or the Allies ; and the remaining 
43 per cent had been left to the British shipowners 
under State Regulation as to its use. Out of a 
total of between 3000 and 4000 British ocean-going 
steamers, we had dedicated over 500 to the exclu- 
sive use of France, Russia and Italy. . . . 

The loss by normal wastage had been rather less 
than usual : 

Seventy ships were interned in German ports, 
but these were almost exactly balanced by enemy 
vessels captured as prizes. Since the beginning of 

^ If the reader wishes to have more detailed information 
concerning England's commercial relations with other countries, 
the tabular statement given at the end of this chapter will furnish 
him with full particulars. 



I08 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

the war 450 enemy ships had been detained, seized, 
or captured. The number of British merchant 
ships lost through war causes was almost exactly 
balanced by the new ships added to the merchant 
service since the beginning of the war. 

In bringing this chapter to a close, we cannot 
more fittingly conclude than by letting the First 
Lord of the Admiralty himself answer the ques- 
tions put by him, and quoted by us, regarding the 
functions of a fleet. 

*' All these functions have so far been success- 
fully performed by the British Fleet. No German 
merchant ship is to be found on the ocean. Allied 
commerce is more secure from attack, legitimate 
and illegitimate, than it was after Trafalgar. The 
German High Sea Fleet has not as yet ventured 
beyond the security of its protected waters. No 
invasion has been attempted of these islands. 
British troops, in numbers unparalleled in history, 
have moved to and fro across the seas, and have 
been effectively supported on shore. The greatest 
of military Powers has seen its colonies wrested 
from it one by one, and has not been able to land 
a man or a gun in their defence. Of a fleet which 
has done this we may not only say that it has done 
much, but that no fleet has ever done more. And 
we citizens of the British Empire can only hope 
that the second year of the war will show no falling 
off in its success, as it will assuredly show no relaxa- 
tion of its efforts." 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 



109 



APPENDIX 



COMPARATIVE STATEMENT OF BRITISH TRADE WITH 
FOREIGN COUNTRIES FOR 1915 AND 1916 

Total Imports : 191 5 compared with 191 6 





1915 


1916 


Increase (+) 
Decrease (-) 




£ 


£ 


Total 


Per 
cent. 


January . 

February . 

March 

April 

May 

June 


67,246,391 
65.200,472 
75,462,049 
73.638.582 
71,600,894 
76,008,588 


74.948.241 

67.348.243 
86,092,894 
75.685,362 
83.814.530 
87.036,349 


+ 7.701,850 
+ 2,147,771 
+ 10,630,845 
+ 2,046,780 
+ 12,213,636 
+ 11,027,761 


II-4 

3-2 

14-0 

2-7 

17.0 
14-5 


Total for six months 


429,156.976 


474.925,619 


+ 45,768,643 10.5 



Exports of United Kingdom : 191 5 compared with 1916 





1915 


1916 


Increase (+) 
Decrease ( - ) 




£ 


£ 


Total 


Per 

cent. 


; anuary . 

: i^ebruary . 

March 

April 

May 

June 


28,247,592 

26,176,937 
30,176,066 

32,169,733 
33,618,992 
33.233.568 


36,757.167 
36.335.782 
37.598.119 
36,817.839 
47.024,411 
47.274.563 


+ 8,509.575 
+ 10,158,845 
+ 7.422,053 
+ 4,648,106 
+ 13,405,419 
+ 14,040.995 


30-1 
38-8 

24-5 
14-4 
39-8 

42-2 


Total for six months 


183,622,888 


241,807,881 


+ 58.184,993 


31-7 



no 



BRITAIN IN ARMS 



Exports of Foreign and Colonial Merchandise 
with 1916 



191 5 compared 



January 

February 

March . 

April 

May 

June 





1915 


1916 


Increase (H*) 
Decrease ( - ) 




£ 


£ 


Total 


Per 
cent. 



6.895.465 , 

6,809,710 j 

8,067,133 1 

9.957.054 ! 
10,243,3191 

9.350,339 
Total for six months! 51,323,020 



8,830,172 
8,529,796 
8,811,497 

8.093,449 

11,000,577 

8,872,694 

54,138,185 +2,815,165: 5-4 



+ 1,934,707, 28 
+ 1,720,086! 25-2 
+ 744,364! 9-2 

— 1,863,6051 18-7 
+ 757,258! 7'3 

- 477,645; 5-1 



Total Imports of United Kingdom for year 191 5 amounted 
to ;^853, 756,279, being an increase of ;^i57,i2i,i66 on 1914. 

Exports : 

Total Exports of United ICingdom in 191 5 amounted to 
;^384, 647,336, a decrease of ;^46,074,02i on 1914. 

Re-exports in 1915 : 

These amounted to ;^io9,575,o37, an increase of ;^3,322,957 
on 1914. 



Imports {less re-exports) of Food, Drink and Tobacco : 191 5 
compared with 191 6 

(Including Grain and Flour, Dead Meat, Butter and Margarine, Cheese, Eggs, 
Raw Cocoa, Sugar and Tea.) 





191S 


1916 


Increase (+) 




£ 


£ 


Decrease ( - ) 


January . 

February . 

March 

April 

May 

June 


28,607,948 
26,222,595 

29,469,917 
27,602,934 
27,732,245 
31,256,920 


32,821,704 

26,513,544 
34.330,138 
30,628,689 
36,326,103 
36,853,149 


+ 4.213.756 
+ 290,949 
+ 4,860,221 

+ 3,025,755 
+ 8,593.858 
+ 5,596,229 


Total for six months . 


170,892,559 


197.473.327 


+ 26,580,768 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET iii 



Total Imports {less re-exports) of Grain and Flour : 191 5 com- 
pared with 1 91 6 





1915 j 1916 


Increase (+) 




CWtS. j cwts. 


Decrease ( - ) 


January 

February 

March .... 

April .... 

May .... 

June .... 


17,338,222 

12,169,058 
16,191,820 

14.204,540 
15,121,139 
14,548,000 


19,486,205 
12,665,410 

17,070,295 
15,172,238 

16,393.342 
18,167,298 


+ 2,147.983 
+ 496,352 
+ 878,475 
+ 967.698 
+ 1,272,203 
+ 3,619,298 


Total for six months 


89,572,779 


98,954.788 


+ 9,382,009' 



The British Blockade 

The Blockade, the most effective of all England's 
weapons against Germany, is steadily and surely 
accomplishing its objects. 

German statesmen endeavour to maintain that 
Great Britain is inflicting her economic pressure 
on Germany, not only by inhumane, but by illegal 
methods. Viscount Grey, however, disposes finally 
of the whole fabric of the present German argu- 
ments against the Blockade in the following state- 
ment : — 

" Inasmuch as the stoppage of all food-stuffs is 
an admitted consequence of blockade, it is obvious 
that there can be no universal rule based on con- 
siderations of morality and humanity, which is 
contrary to this practice." 



112 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

The policy of the British Blockade was outlined 
by Lord Robert Cecil in the House of Commons 
on March gth, 1916, when he stated that '' the 
policy of the Government was to abide by the 
principles of International Law, whether they were 
in our favour or not, and to adhere to them and 
them only. . . . The vital thing was to succeed 
in stopping German commerce. Economic pressure 
exerted by a belligerent, by cutting off the commerce 
of its enemy, was not only a legitimate and an 
effective, but a humane method of warfare." 

The aim of Great Britain to prevent, as far as 
possible, all goods from reaching or leaving Germany 
is pursued with due regard for the rights of neutrals. 
The means by which this aim is being attained 
are well described by Mr. Archibald Hurd in his 
pamphlet Germany Besieged, from which the 
following passages are quoted : 

*' It may be asked : Is the Blockade effective ? 
On that matter there can be no serious doubt. . . . 
The constructive influence of the British Fleet is 
supplemented by diplomatic and commercial action, 
with the result that Germany is on something less 
than ordinary prison diet ; her neighbours are 
being rationed, their supplies being measured out 
to them with scrupulous care. Those are the effects 
of the British action, and in carrying out the triple 
policy — naval, diplomatic and commercial — we have 
sacrificed no friendship. In that lies the triumph 



i 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 113 

of the Blockade. . . . Germany with her 70,000,000 
persons to feed is besieged as no country was be- 
sieged before." 

In an article in the Daily Telegraph of June 29th, 
1916, Mr. Hurd states further : 

" The Ministry (of Blockade) has created a series 
of sieves through which everything in the way of 
trade to or from the Northern Powers must pass. 

" The sieves are of two varieties — commercial 
(resting on mutual arrangements), and naval : 

" (i) We are the coal suppliers of the marines of 
the world. By supplying or refusing to supply 
bunker coal ... we can and do exercise great 
influence on shipping under neutral flags. 

" (3) In Holland an Oversea Trust has been estab- 
lished, and in Denmark there are two trading 
associations, the functions of which are familiar. 
By these means, trading with the enemy is, if not 
stopped, so strictly limited as to be of slight im- 
portance. . . . 

" (3) In the United States a system of issuing 
what may be described as letters of assurance has 
been put in practice, so that traders may know 
before shipping to Northern countries what they 
may and may not send. 

" (4) Finally, the Navy maintains its patrols at 
both ends of the North Sea." 

The way in which the British Blockade works 
is described by Admiral Sir Dudley de Chair, who 
commanded the Tenth Cruiser (Blockade) Squadron 

I 



114 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

in the North Sea, from August, 1914, to March, 
1916, in an interview with an American journaUst, 
from which the following are extracts : 

" The British Blockade in the North Sea is con- 
centrated throughout an area to the east and north 
of Scotland, maintaining a guarded district which 
completely intercepts all traffic to and from the 
Scandinavian countries and Denmark. . . . We 
have a complicated network of cruisers scattered 
over the North Sea areas — a network through which 
it is impossible for any steamer, sailing ship or 
trawler to pass, without coming under our direct 
observation. ... To maintain our blockade, we 
have chosen a type of warship known as an auxiliary 
armed cruiser, usually a converted passenger ship 
or merchant trader. . . . The majority of blockade 
officers are drawn from the Royal Naval Reserve. 
These men, many of whom have had splendid careers 
in the British Mercantile Marine, are peculiarly 
fitted for blockade work ; they are accustomed to 
manifests and ships' papers ; they know how to 
make a quick, comprehensive and judicial inspec- 
tion of cargoes. ... It is impossible to examine a 
large cargo in mid-ocean, and in heavy weather . . . 
neutral captains invariably prefer to be sent into a 
British harbour. The delay is reduced to a minimum 
and the inspection is accomplished with safety and 
despatch." 

The Blockade is under the supervision of a new 
Ministry presided over by Lord Robert Cecil. 
As a result of the Blockade, the Export Trade 



THE WORK OF THE FLEET 115 

(overseas) of Germany has been substantially de- 
stroyed. With regard to imports, some of the most 
important, such as cotton, wool, and rubber, have 
for many months been excluded from Germany. 
Others, like fats and oils and dairy produce, can 
only be obtained there, if at all, at famine prices. 

Controversy has recently arisen regarding the 
increased imports from the United States of certain 
food- stuffs by the neutrals adjacent to Germany, 
but, whereas previously, these countries imported 
a certain proportion of their supplies from Germany, 
they are now obliged to obtain their entire supplies 
overseas, and it is therefore maintained that they 
are receiving no more than they require for their 
own internal consumption. 

Speaking in the House of Commons on August 
23rd, 1916, Lord Robert Cecil summarised the 
present position with regard to the neutral countries, 
when he stated that " Imports into Denmark had 
been materially reduced by the agreement with 
Danish associations. He believed that these associa- 
tions were carrying out that agreement with abso- 
lute loyalty. ... He also thought that, on the 
whole, there was every reason to be satisfied with 
the working of the Netherland Overseas Trust. He 
did not believe any appreciable quantity of goods 
sent to Holland had gone to Germany. There was 
one aspect of the Dutch situation which caused 



ii6 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

anxiety. Holland was an exporting country so 
far as its agriculture was concerned. . . . Un- 
doubtedly, before the war, it sent us a very much 
larger share of its produce than it had sent since 
. . . That was not a satisfactory position from our 
point of view . . . but he could assure the House 
that a very decided improvement had taken place 
in the last few weeks. He had every reason to 
hope that the improvement would not be less in 
the future than it had been in the past : and that 
we should have every reason to be — he would not 
say satisfied, because he would not be satisfied 
while a single ton of food went into Germany — 
but free from serious cause of complaint." 



CHAPTER IV 

THE MILITARY EFFORT— THE ARMY OF 
YESTERDAY 

Kitchener's Contemptible Armies 

THE Naval effort surprised no one, for no 
one questioned the might of the British 
Fleet. We have said, on the contrary, 
that superficial people are astonished that it has 
not done more than it has. The Germans them- 
selves acknowledge its overwhelming superiority, 
but they make up for their reluctant admiration of 
the British Fleet by the scant esteem in which they 
profess to hold the British Army. General von 
Bernhardi speaks of " this worn-out and fossilised 
army," and the Press merely dismissed it with the 
single epithet " contemptible." Other nations — 
allied as well as neutral — formed a juster estimate 
of the worth of the professional soldiers of the 
Expeditionary Force, but regarded it as open to 
doubt whether England could furnish any additional 
support, or, at all events, any really effective sup- 
port, over and above the force in question. The 
same misgivings prevailed in England itself. How- 

117 



Ii8 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

ever, they were livelier among those whose minds 
were inclined to dwell on the setbacks England 
had suffered at certain periods of her military past, 
rather than among those who bore in mind the army 
reforms recently effected throughout the Empire. 

A Backward Glance 

If the War of American Independence, the Na- 
poleonic Campaigns, the part played by England 
in the Crimea, and the South African War bore 
witness to the defects of the British military system, 
they have also resulted in the application of the 
reforms necessary for their cure. 

The real cause of the defects in question is to 
be found in the definitely anti-militarist character 
of the English people. In the case of most Conti- 
nental nations the land army is the symbol of 
the security and honour of the nation — terms 
which are practically synonymous. A country 
feels that its honour has suffered outrage if it has 
failed to maintain the integrity of its frontiers. 
To do this requires regiments both numerous and 
sturdy. It is not the Army that guards Britisq 
territory from invasion, but the Fleet. It is, then, 
the Fleet that an Englishman looks upon as his 
real protector and champion, and Mr. H. A. L. 
Fisher has justly referred to it as the "spoiled child " 
of the House of Commons. The Army has never 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 119 

been employed save where the issue at stake was one 
of amour propre, or some enterprise of more or less 
subsidiary importance ; but never the honour of 
the country as a whole. So it comes about that 
the EngHsh have never looked upon their Army 
with that sacred enthusiasm which on the Continent 
has wellnigh become a cult. There were, indeed, 
periods in England's history when the Army was 
regarded almost as a danger. May we not, in fact, 
view the history of the British Army as the record 
of the struggles between the Parliament and the 
absolute power of the Monarchy ? 

We must, however, beware of drawing too rigid 
conclusions from all this. We must certainly not 
infer that England is devoid of military traditions 
or of affection for her Army. She has, in point of 
fact, always taken a very special pride in her various 
regiments and their victorious achievements. But 
though she plumed herself on their valour and its 
fruits, the pride she felt was a pride that was much 
more akin to the enthusiasm of the athlete than to 
the fervour of the patriot. For the Army in the 
past has never been in really close touch with the 
country. It was not composed — I am here speaking 
of the men and not of the officers, who were always 
men of birth — of the choicest stock, of the finest 
flower, of the nation. 

The Army was a necessary evil, and though it could 



I20 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

boast its epochs of glory and brilliance, the average 
Englishman was not disposed to devote to it more 
than he could help. If a war broke out recourse 
was had to foreign mercenaries, particularly to 
those of the little German Principalities, who 
furnished them in abundance. As for the English 
troops proper, who had to be maintained at home 
for garrison duty or sent overseas for foreign or 
colonial service, they most assuredly were not 
drawn from the upper strata of society. Certain 
colonels contracted to form regiments and received 
fimds from the State for the purpose of raising, 
maintaining and equipping the men. It usually 
happened that the recruiting sergeants were none 
too scrupulous about the sort of people to whom 
they offered the King's shilling, so that, at a time 
when the people of Continental countries had come 
to regard military service as a glorious branch of a 
citizen's duty. Englishmen still looked upon it as a 
more or less unenviable means of subsistence. 

In a book recently pubHshed we are afforded a 
striking example of the moral character of the men 
who used to compose these armies. The incident 
quoted occurred during Wellington's campaign of 
1813. The people of the South of France would 
not take Spanish money, and the General, being 
hard put to it for supplies, thought of the plan of 
transforming the coins into five-franc pieces stamped 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 121 

with the effigy of Louis XVIIL In order to supply 
the lack of the official minting stamps he called 
on any coiners of base money there might be in 
the regiments under his command to come forward. 
Within a few days he had as many as thirty at his 
command. 

However, these rapscallions made the finest 
possible soldiers. All through the Napoleonic 
Campaign they fought like lions, and the story 
merely tends to show that in England the sentiment 
of military duty is not ingrained in the national 
character as it is in France. The anecdote indicates 
the starting-point of a whole process of psychological 
development which is now approaching its cul- 
mination, and of which the course was prophetically 
adumbrated by Mr. Rudyard Kipling in a story he 
gave to the world some fifteen years ago. In 
the old days the British Army was commanded 
by gentlemen and composed of rascals. It did 
wonders, for the men never argued as to what 
they were fighting about ; they only thought 
about fighting. Nowadays it is still commanded 
by gentlemen, but the men have passed through 
the Board Schools. They think about things, but, 
as their reasoning powers do not carry them far, 
they fail to understand what they are fighting about, 
but argue about it and fight badly. The day will 
come when the Army will still be officered by 



122 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

gentlemen but when the soldiers composing it will 
have sufficient insight and acuteness to know why 
they are fighting and to fight with whole-hearted- 
ness and intelligence. And when that day comes, 
the British Army will again become one of the best 
in the world. 

To-day we have arrived at the third panel of 
the triptych. But to complete it, has required not 
only a material but a moral transformation. Both 
have combined to make the soldier of Sebastopol 
into the soldier of Neuve Chapelle and Ypres. 
Though there may be nothing to choose between 
them so far as courage is concerned, the latter are 
undoubtedly the moral and spiritual superiors of 
the former. 

Reforms 

Since the disastrous events of the Crimean War, 
two great reforms have been carried out. These 
reforms are in fact the foundation on which the 
whole British Army of to-day is based. The first 
dates back to 1870 and 1871, and was due to Lord 
Car dwell. The second was the work of Lord 
Haldane, the Secretary of State for War in 1906. 
They will repay a brief examination. 

Lord Cardwell, 1881 

The lessons afforded him by the triumphs of 
Prussian miHtarism during the " annee terrible " 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 123 

were not lost on Lord Car dwell. When he came 
into power the military forces of England were split 
up into three groups recruited on the voluntary 
system, which seemed, even up to quite recently, 
to be one of the cardinal dogmas of the English 
political creed so far as the Army was concerned. 
The first of these groups consisted of the regulars. 
They could be employed either at home or abroad. 
Lord Cardwell substituted the short-service system 
for the long. Each soldier, no matter to which branch 
of the service he belonged, remained for twelve 
years at the disposal of the military authorities, 
but his period of actual service varied according 
to the training which his particular duties required 
him to undergo. Thus, an artilleryman had to be 
eight years with the colours and four in the reserve, 
whereas a driver only spent two years with his 
regiment and ten in the reserve. This principle of 
creating a reserve was applied to a new territorial 
army which combined the militia and the volunteers. 
This force was divided into regiments of two bat- 
talions subject to the same conditions and regime 
as the Regular Army. One of these battaUons 
remained at home, the other was employed on 
Colonial service and drew on the other for its 
reserves, these reserves being reliable and well 
trained. Lord Cardwell bestowed every attention 
on this matter of training. He took care to secure 



124 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

co-ordination of effort by means of annual man- 
oeuvres confined first of all to England but subse- 
quently extended to the Indian Empire. Nor did 
he show himself less zealous in accomplishing 
another task of equal moment, namely, the im- 
provement of the moral character of each individual 
soldier. He obtained excellent results from the 
abolition of corporal punishment. Finally, he sup- 
pressed the system of buying commissions, which 
had made the Army a sort of speculative hunting 
ground. Henceforth the Woolwich Academy (Ar- 
tillery and Engineers) supplied the Regular Army 
with capable officers. For additional bodies of 
troops recourse was had to a special system. The 
undergraduates at the Universities, whatever line 
of study they followed, had enough leisure to under- 
take a course of military training which, after a 
certain stage had been reached, made them into 
capable commanders. This explains how it was 
possible to find officers for Kitchener's new 
armies. 

Lord Haldane, 1906 

Lord Haldane's reforms, which were effected 
during his six years of office — 1906 to 1912 — had a 
double object in view : to strengthen the Army by 
increasing its numbers, and to add to its cohesion. 
Before his day, the several units were not united 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 125 

under a single general staff until war made co- 
ordinated action indispensable. Until then each 
followed its own independent existence. Lord 
Haldane remedied this by creating a supreme 
General Staff. He raised the Expeditionary Force 
from 80,000 to 165,000 men, without reckoning the 
100,000 on garrison duty abroad, and he supported 
it with a body of reserve troops known as the Special 
Reserve. He put the whole military system on a 
new basis, and increased the artillery, the weakness 
of which had been demonstrated by the South 
African War, at the expense of the infantry of the 
line. He added to the efficiency of the Territorial 
Army by the addition of Field Artillery, Transport 
and Service Corps. The military value thus given 
to it enabled it to furnish numerous effectives for 
the Egyptian Campaign, for Garrison Duty in 
India, and for the Dardanelles Expedition. 

Thanks to the two statesmen to whom we have 
referred, the United Kingdom found itself, when 
war broke out with Germany, in possession of an 
army whose services at the crucial moment were, 
as we shall see, very far from negligible. The 
following table indicates its strength at a 
glance : — 



126 



BRITAIN IN ARMS 



Table showing contemplated strength 191 3-1 4 and 191 4-1 5 and 
effective strength iw 1915 



Strength of the British Army. 


Estimated. 


Actual. 




1912-19x4 


1914-191S 


1915- 


Regular Troops in the United King- 






dom and Abroad 


167,868 168,500 


156,100 


Regular Troops in India 


75.897 73,896 


78.456 


Colonial Troops and Native Indians . 


8,765 8,771 


8,771 


Army Reserve .... 


145,000 1 147,000 


147.765 


Special Reserve .... 


78,714 ! 80,120 


63,089 


Militia 


1 


— 


Militia Reserve .... 


90 1 60 


69 


Channel Islands Militia . 


3,166 1 3,166 


3.067 


Malta and West Indian Militia . 


2,894 1 2,894 


2.703 


Territorial Army, including Perma- 


! 




nent General Staff 


314.438 


315.485 


251,706 


Officers' Training Corps ^ 


1,099 


I, no 


795 


Total . 


797.931 


801,002 


711.589 


Horses and mules at home and else- 


— ■ 






where ..... 


28,849 


28,742 





Horses and mules in India 


21,458 


21.458 


— 



Thanks to them England was able to put into 
the field, without delay, first of all in the plains of 
Mons and later in the Soissons offensive, that Ex- 
peditionary Force which through manifold vicissi- 
tudes of fortune proved worthy of its traditions. 
One of the most conspicuous services rendered by 
England to the Allied cause was that at the very 
outset of hostilities she showed herself in a position 

^ The Junior Division of the Officers' Training Corps (Public 
Schools' Contingent) consisted in 1 912-13 of 444 officers and 
18,189 cadets. 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 127 

to support them with troops of exceptional quaUty, 
seasoned in many a previous campaign — troops 
which, despite their inferiority in numbers, kept 
at bay during an arduous strategic retreat, the 
gigantic hosts opposed to them. A marvellous 
achievement, that, when one comes to think how 
little of militarism there was in England and how 
inadequately prepared she was for a Continental 
war. 

Two Aspects of England's War 
Mr. Balfour, in a speech delivered at the London 
Opera House in July, 1915, said : 

" We never claimed (and those who valued our 
assistance know that we never claimed) to have 
at our disposal a large standing army. We said 
that we could send 160,000 men." 

And doubtless if England had limited herself 
merely to fulfilling her undrtakings to France, 
Russia, and Belgium, she would have been per- 
fectly justified in regarding her obligations as fully 
discharged by supporting them with the Fleet 
and the Expeditionary Force. Sir Edward Grey 
had practically said as much to the French Govern- 
ment in his dispatch of the 30th July, 1914. This 
was so far as France was concerned. As regards 
Belgium, England's guarantee was limited to sending 
whatever force she might have available at the 
time being. 



128 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

But events quickly revealed to her that matters 
were taking quite a different turn. For one thing 
she could no longer look upon herself merely as a 
party to a treaty. She perceived that in the war 
on which Germany had embarked it was she who 
was the principal foe, the enemy finally reserved 
for destruction ; and from the moment she realised 
that her interests, her very existence, were at stake, 
she was no longer able to refrain from making the 
utmost sacrifice in her power, to defeat the common 
foe. 

On the other hand, she perceived that her signa- 
ture involved her in liabihties far in excess of the 
forces immediately at her disposal. The dictates 
of honour — even if she had not felt that her very 
existence was imperilled — would have made it in- 
cumbent on her to extend her individual effort to 
the very uttermost. She had thus a double reason 
for gathering together her new armies. 

The New Armies 

New Armies ! It is difiicult to reahse the number 
and magnitude of the problems which such an 
undertaking involves. Not only is it necessary to 
recruit the men, provide the necessary officers, 
arms, and equipment, furnish them with artillery, 
see to the reserves of munitions, organise the various 
auxiliary services, provide camps and barrack 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 129 

accommodation ; but all these vast numbers of 
men have to be trained at high pressure, the several 
regiments have to be practised in that spirit of 
cohesion and unity of command which constitutes 
the principal asset of a modern army. Formid- 
able tasks these ! It would scarcely seem that six 
months could have possibly suiEficed for their fulfil- 
ment, and yet they were carried out with a thorough- 
ness beyond all expectation, thanks to two almost 
providential circumstances. One was the inter- 
vention of a soldier and organiser of genius, Lord 
Kitchener ; the other, the uprising of a spirit of 
popular enthusiasm without parallel in the history 

of England. 

Lord Kitchener 

Lord Kitchener is one of the most remarkable 
combinations of soldier and administrator that 
the annals of England — fertile as they are in such 
types — have to show. 

Born in 1850, of Irish descent, and the son of a 
soldier, he also chose to follow the profession of 
arms. He began his studies at Woolwich, and in 
1871 joined the Royal Engineers. His promotion 
was rapid. After seeing service in Palestine in 
1874, and in Cyprus in 1878, he was appointed to 
the command of the Egyptian cavaky — a post 
which he held from 1882 to 1884. 

We next find him in charge of the Nile Expedi- 



130 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

tion, sent to relieve Gordon. He then became 
Governor of Suakim, and had charge of various 
enterprises, among which was the famous advance 
on Khartoum in 1898, which he commanded as 
Sirdar of the Egyptian Army, and for which he 
received a peerage with the title of Baron Kitchener 
of Khartoum. In 1902 he was created a viscount, 
and received for services rendered in connexion 
with the Boer War the special thanks of the British 
Parliament. 

For seven years he was Commander-in-Chief in 
India, and in 191 1 he returned to Egypt as Consul- 
General. He still held this post at the outbreak 
of war, when he happened to be in England. He 
was indeed actually on his return journey to Egypt 
when he was recalled to take up his duties of 
Secretary of State for War. 

Public opinion was unanimous in pointing him 
out as the most brilliant of organisers, the only 
man who, by his untiring activity, was capable 
of administering the War Office at a time of such 
paramount importance for the Empire. 

Before the end of the first month of War, the 
first 100,000 men of " Kitchener's Army " were 
already in training. To-day the fifth milHon is 
marching in their footsteps. Lord Kitchener's 
career was cut short while still in the full tide of 
unexhausted powers and possibilities. He was 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 131 

on his way to Russia in H.M.S. Hampshire, to take 
counsel with our Russian allies, when a mine sank 
the ship, in a great storm ofif the Orkney Islands, 
on June 5th, 1916. His dramatically sudden death 
found him in harness, as befits one of the most 
strenuous workers of this most strenuous time. 

Lord Kitchener was an extraordinary figure. 
He towered over all his contemporaries in individu- 
ality, as he did in inches. It is the great armies 
which he called into being which will enable England 
to do her part in winning the fiercest and the most 
momentous of all the wars that she has waged. 
They are his living monument, and no nobler 
monument has been raised to man. 

Sir Douglas Haig in a telegram to the King on 
June 6 says : 

" His memory will remain with us as an incentive, 
and we will not rest until we have brought his 
work to its culmination in an enduring victory." 

The Spirit of the People 

Slowly and surely, with that deliberation which is 
so marked a characteristic of their psychology, the 
English came to the conclusion that their Fleet 
was not sufficient to defend their interests and their 
independence, but that they needed an army of 
continental dimensions to guarantee the integrity 
of the country. 

The threats which Germany did not trouble to 



132 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

dissemble assisted towards this conclusion. Doubt- 
less these threats had not passed unrecognised in 
England before the war, but, so far as the general 
public was concerned, they had not always been 
taken at their true value. They had been regarded 
as mere bombastic braggadocio or Utopian theoris- 
ings, and though the Press occasionally drew atten- 
tion to the matter, the public paid but little heed 
to its warnings. 

When, however, the catastrophic events of 
August, 1914, proved how deep was Germany's 
hatred of England, the seriousness of the menace 
was at length brought home to them, and, little 
by little, with that slowness with which ideas 
penetrate the minds of the masses in countries 
where tradition has taken deep root, the public 
was aroused and with one accord began to take 
energetic measures of defence. Then, and not till 
then, did the nation as a whole perceive — what 
the more enlightened among them had understood 
years before — that the German policy as outlined by 
such writers as von Bernhardi was a serious matter 
and no idle menace. The German plan — of which 
little secret was made — was to isolate Russia, crush 
France, and then bring England to her knees. The 
destruction of England was their chief and ultimate 
aim, and to the accomplishment of that aim the two 
first items in the programme were merely subsidiary, 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 133 

or, rather, preparatory. Germany saw herself com- 
pelled to undertake these preparatory measures of 
destruction because of the line of policy followed 
by the three Powers in question, whose aim it was 
to maintain at all costs the balance of power in 
Europe — an old shibboleth for which German 
interests and German ambitions had no use. If we 
are to credit what Herr von Reichthofen, formerly 
Secretary of the German Embassy at Washington, 
is reported to have told a neutral journalist 
who was interviewing him on behalf of the Echo 
de Paris, Germany would have preferred to be 
reheved of the preparatory part of her scheme. 
She would even now be willing to come to terms 
with France and Russia " in order to continue the 
struggle with our arch-enemy, England." This is 
but the up-to-date version of a long-standing 
truth, since, as far back as 1897, ^^^Y i^ ^^^ ^^ 
his works stated emphatically that the English 
must be blind if they do not recognise that " Great 
Britain had no bitterer foe than Germany." 

Moreover, the rash and overweening speeches 
of the Kaiser, whose perfervid oratory, by reason 
of his morbid passion for travel, came to be heard 
in the four corners of the globe, confirmed it in 
many an arrogant declaration. 

It was on the morrow of Great Britain's ultimatum 
to General Kruger that William II gave regretful 
expression to the following sentiment : " We have 



134 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

need of a mighty German fleet." When the first 
proposals for increasing the fleet were brought 
forward there was a transparent allusion to England. 
" Germany," said the Emperor, " must have a 
fleet so strong that the mightiest power will think 
twice before going to war with us." And the naval 
preparations which followed quickly showed the 
furious energy with which the German Government 
set itself to obey the order. 

If Germany's aim was to equal and surpass the 
power of the British Fleet it was because the world 
supremacy of which she dreamed could only be 
won if she could wrest from her rival the trident 
which the old poet Mercier rightly calls the " sceptre 
of the world." The motto, " Our future is on the 
water," which figures as the motto of the Articles 
of the Naval League of 1900, requires to be supple- 
mented by another phrase which we quote from a 
speech in eulogy of the Colonial League. " The 
necessary consolidation of our world position 
demands the extension of our Colonial Empire " ; 
and further, " English and German interests will 
enter into conflict in every part of the world." 

" England must be destroyed, for England is 
the arch-enemy, the only enemy, to-day." Such 
is the doctrine that has been avowed, preached 
and proclaimed throughout Germany for the past 
fifteen years. The oracular " Ceteram censeo 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 135 

Carthaginem esse delendam," which Maximilian 
Harden took as the motto of his celebrated review, 
was but a harmless manifestation of this hatred ; 
for if there was a Galliphobe literature in Germany 
denouncing the immorality, the weakness, the 
degeneracy of Paris, France and the Latin races 
in general, the anti-English literature was still 
more abundant. The Historic School, headed by 
Treitschke and Bley, gave it out authoritatively, 
with the weight attaching to the ex-cathedra utter- 
ances of University professors, that the British 
Empire was the outcome of political duplicity and 
military violence, and well deserving of the decay 
that had begun to disintegrate it. The publicists 
blazoned abroad the intellectual incapacity of the 
British people, pointed to their failure in the Colonial 
field, delivered the most violent attacks on their 
civil and national life, their laws and government 
their Church and Universities, their morals and 
their army. Such a campaign of calumny was 
only carried on once before in the history of modern 
Germany. Then it was directed against France, 
and a few years later war broke out. The parallel 
is significant. 

Once convinced that action is necessary, the 
Englishman acts, vigorously his resolution being all 
the firmer because he has taken time to make up 
bis mind. Mr. H. A. L. Fisher has shown us in it§ 



136 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

true light what was really involved in England's 
decision to enter the war. 

" When a country is invaded, its homesteads 
fired, its women folk assaulted, its wealth plundered, 
its innocent civilian population terrorised by a 
brutal soldiery, no ai-tifice is required to bring the 
terrors of war before the minds of its population. 
The manhood of an invaded country fights under 
a stern and unremitting stress of bitter determina- 
tion to free the sacred soil from the insolent pres- 
ence of the barbarian. Every man knows his duty 
instinctively. It is plain and palpable before him. 
But in the case of Great Britain and her colonies 
there was no such clear and unmistakable message 
to- the mind and conscience of the common man. 
The whole territory of the British Empire, with 
the important exception of the South African 
Union, was by reason of the supremacy of the 
British Fleet immune from invasion. Nobody in 
Great Britain had the slightest fear that the Ger- 
mans had it in their power to devastate Kent or 
Suffolk, to burn down Canterbury Cathedral, or 
to shoot batches of shopmen and country parsons ; 
and a nation of narrow-minded egotists might have 
been contented with this measure of security. 
But the crucial fact to be retained by all who 
would understand the strength and purpose of the 
British Empire is that, without the prospect of 
invasion, the United Kingdom and its Dominions 
have behaved almost as if invasion were actually 
taking place." 



CHAPTER V 
THE MILITARY EFFORT— THE ARMY TO-DAY 

CONSCRIPTS OR VOLUNTEERS i 

CONVINCED of the reality of this redoubt- 
able German menace, feeling herself com- 
pelled to take up arms to avenge the 
violation of Right and the principle of NationaUty, 
England put forth an immense effort. 

At the outset there were debates as to how the 
formation of the new armies should be set about. 
People asked themselves whether the old voluntary 
system would be resorted to or whether the House 
of Commons would be compelled to adopt the 
conscriptionist measures of which Lord Roberts 
had been so strong an advocate. 

The view is generally held on the Continent, and 
particularly in France, that the English voluntary 
system is worthy of small respect. Looked at from 
the point of view of the commonweal, a nation 
which, when danger threatens, refuses to submit to 
a general and uniform discipline jeopardises not only 
its existence but its very right to exist. It is also 

137 



138 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

laid down, from the individual point of view, that 
in voluntary service, as understood in Great Britain, 
selfishness was a more potent factor than patriotism. 
It is not without interest to recall the arguments 
of the anti-conscriptionists. Apart from their 
instinctive and traditional disinclination to tamper 
with the liberty of the individual, they held that the 
actual results of the two systems would be practi- 
cally the same. Mr. Hilaire Belloc in an article 
in the Daily Chronicle of the 21st November, 19 14, 
put the number of men that Great Britain could 
withdraw from her population for Military Service 
at five millions. He arrived at this figure by com- 
paring the populations of Great Britain, Germany, 
and France and the actual number of men of the 
two latter nations serving with the colours. From 
this total he deducted one million rejected on 
account of physical unfitness, two to two and a half 
millions already serving and necessary for home 
defence, thus bringing, according to him, the total 
available for service abroad down to one and three- 
quarter million. From this total there should also 
be deducted the large number of men required for 
the pubHc service and for the carrying on of the 
various manufactures which England — who was 
called on to make good the loss sustained by the Allies 
o\ving to the fact that Belgium, the Pas-de-Calais 
and Poland were occupied by the enemy — was alon^ 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 139 

able to secure. Let us now hear what Mr. John 
Buchan has to say on this same point (Oxford 
Pamphlets, 25th December, 1914). 

*' According to the latest figures, we have in the 
British Islands just over eight million men of 
military age — that is between eighteen and forty- 
five. Taking a percentage on the French precedent, 
we must deduct two millions as unfit. We must 
also allow large deductions for men required to run 
our industries, for at present we are manufacturing 
war material and supplies for all our Allies as well 
as for ourselves. That is good for the British 
manufacturer, but it is a good thing, too, for our 
Allies, and clearly such industries must be kept 
going. So let us deduct two million men for this 
purpose. We shall not be far wrong if we allow 
500,000 as the amount required for the Navy and 
purposes connected with the Navy ; and at least 
another 500,000 for the men between thirty-eight 
and forty-five, since thirty-eight is the age limit 
we have fixed for enlistment. So we get three 
millions as our maximum of possible recruits. Our 
British forces, as we have seen, will presently be 
veryl^little below two millions, and that is 66 per 
cent. Britain has never professed to be a military 
power. Her main preoccupation is her Navy, and 
the appeal she is now making must be regarded as 
a special effort, something quite outside her common 
line of interests, and something for which the 
machinery has had to be improvised. With this in 
mind the percentage must surely seem creditable, 
and every month it will go on rising.'* 



I40 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

The anti-conscriptionist argued that a compulsory 
service bill would merely endorse a fait accompli ; 
and it would indeed appear that the men actually 
recruited for Kitchener's armies under the voluntary 
system were not far short of the total that a con- 
script ionist measure would bring in.^ 

Whatever value there may be in the arguments 
adduced by the opponents of conscription, the 
people of England were brought to recognise that 
the enormous extension of the war area required 
a greater effort on their part. They saw that, 
though a measure of legal compulsion might wound 
the susceptibilities of a certain section of the nation, 
the international conscience, so to speak, of the 
Entente as a whole would equally suffer if England 
were to be the only country for which military 
service was to remain optional. For it is not only, 
or even principally, a question of figures. Even if 
the proposed reform did not add a single recruit to 
Kitchener's armies it would, at all events, present 

^ King George's message to his people gave the number of 
men who have voluntarily enlisted as at the 25th May, 191 6, as 
5,041,000, dating from the beginning of the war. The popula- 
tion of the United Kingdom being 45,370,000, the army thus 
represents far more than ten per cent of the nation. True, the 
British Army includes contingents from the Colonies, but deduct- 
ing these from the total it is still true that the British Army, 
recruited on a purely voluntary system, is, in proportion to the 
population, equal to the armies of the most conscriptionist 
countries in the world, namely, France, Germany, Austria, and 
Serbia. 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 141 

an undeniable advantage of the highest value in the 
maintenance of the general confidence ; it would 
make the obligation of sacrifice the same for all the 
nations engaged in the struggle, and prove to the 
world at large that England was ready to spare no 
effort to bring about the triumph of the common 

cause. 

Lord Derby's Plan 

It was in the autumn of 1915 that the voluntary 
system began to disappoint the expectations of its 
adherents and to fall short also of the essential 
requirements of the situation. Forty Liberal- 
Unionist Members of Parliament gave expression to 
the misgivings felt by the public, and urged the 
Government to introduce a measure substituting 
compulsory service for the voluntary system then 
in force. 

The Government adopted a sort of transitional 
plan, and the task of putting it into execution was 
entrusted to Lord Derby, who was made Director- 
General of Recruiting. 

Lord Derby's scheme modified the previous 
system in two very important respects. On the 
one hand he redoubled the urgency of the appeal to 
men to come and join the colours ; on the other he 
inaugurated a system of calling men up in suc- 
cessive groups, of which there were forty-six in 
number. The first twenty-three consisted of single, 



142 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

and the remainder of married, men, age being the 
basis of classification in each case. 

The results of Lord Derby's campaign were as 
follows : 2,829,263 men, married and single, 
including those who had been rejected as physically 
unfit, joined for immediate or deferred service. 
According to the census taken in August, 19 15, the 
total number of men of military age was 5,011,441. 
Consequently 2,182,178 men, married and single, 
had failed to answer the call ; 1,029,231 single men 
refused to place themselves at their country's 
service. Of this number 378,071 were considered 
indispensable for the carrying on of work of national 
importance. Thus there were clearly left 651,160 
single men who had not enlisted. 

These results rendered the introduction of a 
compulsory service bill inevitable. Public opinion 
would never have suffered so large a number of 
single men to be allowed to carry on their ordinary 
civilian avocations at home while the greater part 
of the male population were serving with the 
colours. 

On the 5th January the Prime Minister, Mr. 
Asquith, introduced a Bill for making military 
service compulsory for single men between the ages 
of 18 and 41. The proposal, which gave rise to 
lively discussion and widespread comment, was 
adopted with a majority that increased at each 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 143 

successive reading. It brought about no trouble 
in the Cabinet except the resignation of one 
solitary minister. In the provinces the only 
opposition encountered took the shape of threats 
of strikes on the part of the Welsh miners, threats 
which soon came to nought. The people had at 
length come to understand what they were very 
far from understanding when war broke out, 
namely, that the idea of duty leads straight to the 
consecration of that duty by law rendering its 
performance obligatory for all. It is a notable 
indication of the change that took place in the 
attitude of the masses that measures which would 
have called forth the most energetic protests in 
August, 1914, were received by them not only 
without complaint, but with feelings of something 
like relief. 

Recruiting — An Impression 

Up to 1916 it was the old time-honoured system 
of recruiting that was adhered to. The task was 
tackled with might and main. Let us conjure up 
the scene to ourselves as one would picture some 
quaint old-world custom. 

It was in London, in the great Metropolis, whose 
inhabitants amount to a seventh part of the total 
population of England, that the recruiting campaign 
was carried on with the greatest activity. The 
recruiting posters imparted quite a strange aspect 



144 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

to the city, which, despite the war, has lost none 
of its wealthy and animated appearance. Immense 
placards blazon forth their graphic appeal all over 
the Nelson column in Trafalgar Square. Others 
just as large are fixed up on the lofty fa9ades of 
Oxford Circus. Smaller ones are plastered upon 
walls and fences, even in the remotest suburbs, and 
present a most startling medley of riotous colour. 
In Hyde Park, the well-known hunting-ground 
of the politico-religious stump-orator, recruiting- 
sergeants have popped up alongside the Quaker 
and the suffragette, appeahng to the crowd with 
their varied eloquence and objurgatory gestures. 
In the streets, bands, companies of Scottish soldiers 
clad in their tartans and playing their pipes, or 
Tommies sounding the bugle, pass by from time 
to time, followed by brakes for the conveyance of 
would-be soldiers to the recruiting station. 

In London the immense throng of civilians 
pursuing their ordinary occupations prevents these 
military demonstrations from completely monopo- 
lising public attention ; but in the provinces they 
exercise their full sway, for in every town, in every 
village of the kingdom, the same recruiting cam- 
paign has been going on for a year, gathering force 
as the needs of the army became more urgent. It 
assumed a variety of singular forms well calculated 
to excite the amazement of Continental folk little 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 145 

accustomed to the essentially British idea that the 
miHtary career is a business just like any other 
business, and that a man is under no more of an 
obligation to be a soldier than he is to be a clerk 
or a doctor, — an idea which is disappearing with 
the change in public opinion to which we have 
adverted, but which is still operative in the recruit- 
ing methods at present obtaining. 

It is a sight worth seeing, — one of these recruiting 
parades. Let us take our stand for a while in the 
High Street of a country town, filled with a noisy 
crowd who have come in from a neighbouring coal- 
field to spend their Saturday half-holiday and to 
throw about their money with a recklessness that 
would shock a thrifty Latin. Suddenly, rising 
above the noise of the crowd, is heard the sound of a 
brass band, blatant, harsh, and crude. It is playing 
commonplace tunes, and playing them in a hurry 
as if the only object was to get through as much 
noise-making as possible. It comes to a stop, only 
to begin again immediately. 

The crowd has made for the spot where this 
volcano of sound has been let loose. On a fiat roof, 
flanked on either side by the gables of the adjoining 
houses, the band has taken up its position amid a 
great display of bunting. The bandmaster, clad all 
in scarlet and silver braid, waves his staring white 
gloves above the heads of his apoplectic musicians 



146 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

ablaze with crimson and braid. And now trom- 
bones and comets strike up the jerky strains of 
*' Tipperary/' while the crowd join in, whistling or 
singing. Then the band, growing more subdued, 
solemnly plays " God Save the King," with a note 
or two out of tune here and there, and then stop. 

At this point a young non-commissioned officer 
dressed in brand-new khaki, with brand-new belt 
and straps, comes to the front of the platform. He 
waits until the applause called forth by his appear- 
ance has ceased, one hand on hip and the other on 
the knob of a swagger-cane which the British non- 
commissioned officer invariably carries with him. 
At last he begins. His speech is alternately genial, 
bantering, brutal, and pathetic. His eloquence is 
of the popular order, punctuated with sallies and 
smart sayings. He reminds his hearers of the 
infamous bargain which Germany offered to make 
with Belgium and England ; the horrors of Louvain, 
Dinant, Tamines ; the bombardment of Scar- 
borough, the murder of Miss Cavell. His audience 
shudder as he speaks of the cries of the drowning 
on the Lusitania ; they thrill with pride when he 
tells them of the triumphant return of the warriors 
of Neuve Chapelle. Then he takes the audience 
into his confidence, so to speak. Where is the man 
who does not long to join these troops and strike 
a blow for the Right ? What answer will the yoimg 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 147 

men of England make to the brave fellows who are 
giving their lives for their country and for the 
world ? What name will history give to the men 
who let them die without going to their aid ? And 
the speech ends with a solemn appeal to all to hurry 
off to the recruiting station and join King George's 
Army. 

The band blazes forth once more. The tramways, 
which had stopped while the speech was going on, 
start again and follow in quick succession. The 
crowd wrangles, laughs, and moves away. A few 
groups, however, still linger on in front of the house, 
the roof of which had been turned into a rostrum. 

One of these groups consists of a few young fellows 
— clerks or shopmen — cutting a fine dash in their 
Sunday clothes. The recruiting sergeant is having 
a man-to-man talk with them. Why don't they 
join ? Don't they know what such and such of 
their chums have done already ? Are they physic- 
ally unfit ? They would be ashamed to say that 
when every Sunday sees them out in the recreation 
ground playing a keen game of Rugby or sending 
in some smashing returns at tennis. Besides, the 
doctor is on the spot ready to put them through 
their paces. Let them come inside, just to put 
themselves right with their own conscience and 
their country. They have now set foot in the 
corridor, on the way to the recruiting office. Mean- 



148 BRITAlNf^flN ARMS 

while there are other little knots still looking up 
at the front of the building. Over the doorway is 
posted up, " Recruiting Headquarters," and the 
whole window is plastered with posters ; the heroic 
and the glorious, vengeance and pathos, all are 
depicted in garish or romantic designs emphasised 
by innumerable appeals, such as " Join the army 
before it is too late." These posters are master- 
pieces of ingenuity and psychological insight. 
They touch on every kind of motive calculated to 
impel a man to the field of battle. " Remember 
Belgium ! " cries a fierce-looking soldier, gazing 
over a tract of devastated country showing burning 
villages and women and children fleeing for their 
lives. " Remember Scarborough ! " is the suppliant 
message of a town in ruins. Hard by the stern 
features of Lord Roberts remind his countrymen 
of glories that are still fresh. " He did his duty. 
Have you done yours ? " Lions on a barren head- 
land, silhouetted against a stormy sky, are gazing 
eagerly towards the horizon. There are countries 
across the Channel scanning the mists of Great 
Britain, and saying, " Will the British lions never 
come ? " 

See, they are coming, pressing onward behind 
a glorious Britannia unfurling the flag stained 
with the blood of the motherland : " Your country 
is calling you ; come and join now." A brawny 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 149 

arm, stretching forth a great, clenched fist, is 
tattooed with the words, " Lend your country the 
strength of your right arm." A young boy scout 
is looking up enquiringly into his father's embar- 
rassed countenance and asking what he did for 
his country in 19 15 when she was fighting for the 
freedom of the world. 

** We shall win," cries a wounded soldier as he 
charges the foe with the bayonet ; " but you must 
come and help." Merry, good-tempered, and 
bantering, a party of soldiers on the march shout 
out, " Follow us, boys ! " Nor is it only to such 
as are able to fight that the posters appeal. " If 
you cannot join the army get a recruit. Women 
of England, send us men ! " 

A few thoughtful-looking miners stand gazing at 
the window with its manifold appeals to the spirit 
of glory, sacrifice, and patriotism. They contem- 
plate the representative of the Territorial Army, 
all resplendent in red and white, and the dashing 
boys of the new Army in their khaki standing about 
the doorway. In the dim-lighted corridor are flags, 
arms, trophies, and more posters — more practical 
and more persuasive — giving them to understand 
that the British Army is better fed, better equipped, 
and better paid than any other army in the world. 
Round about them is a group of inquisitive specta- 
tors quite ready to bet on their decision as it still 



ISO BRITAIN IN ARMS 

trembles in the balance. At one of the street corners 
are to be seen newspaper placards announcing a 
victory. 

The miners make their way into the dim-lit 
building, the band overhead blaring out louder 
than ever its fierce martial airs. Its great achieve- 
ment is apparently the popular farewell ditty of 
the music-halls, the gay " Tipperary " that is now 
whistled by all and sundry. A song of farewell, 
indeed, and of triumph, too, for Great Britain has 
cast her nets of pride, adventure, and devotion, 
and enmeshed a fresh batch of soldiers. 

The moment they have signed on they are sent 
off to learn the rudiments of their military duties. 
Then they are drafted to one of the training camps 
that are scattered broadcast all over the country. 
It is only when one gets there and sees these vast 
townships of canvas, wood, or galvanized iron, 
that one realises how tremendous is England's 
effort, and understands the immense resources she 
commands and is bringing to bear on the task. 
These are the places to visit if you would learn 
confidence and optimism. 

That was strikingly brought home to me in 
September, 1915, when, as a special favour, I was 
permitted to visit the camps at Aldershot. 

My impressions were necessarily superficial, see- 
ing the vast extent of the military organisation 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 151 

the Government had built up round about the 
little town. A permanent camp has been in exist- 
ence there since 1855, and in 1914 it accommodated 
about 27,000 men. When I visited it, however, 
seven divisions, or about 140,000 men, were mustered 
there and were completing their training. These 
figures of themselves are enough to convey an idea 
of the gigantic extensions that have been carried 
out there. 

It is a magnificent place for a day's excursion ; 
the diversity of the country is delightful. Sandy 
hills covered with flowering heather and crowned 
with dark pines afford a varied and extensive land- 
scape, and make delightful pictures in the pale 
sunlight. The various camps are situated a few 
miles out of the town. One comes upon them sud- 
denly in the hollows and on the crests of the hills. 
In the pleasant, mist-softened atmosphere the white 
canvas of the tents, the huts of wood or galvanized 
iron come into view, and there men in thousands 
are seen hastening hither and thither busy as ants 
in an ant heap. Here, you may catch sight of them 
in the woods beneath the trees, there set in sharp 
outline with their horses and waggons silhouetted 
against the sky. The whole forms a most picturesque 
and animated scene. 

Sweeping away on all sides from the buildings 
of the General Staff is the broad common where 



152 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

the soldiers carry out their various evolutions. 
Some are to be seen marching past in company 
formation. Others are seated on the ground round 
a sergeant who is explaining their instructions 
to them. Others, again, are at trench-drill ; and 
dotted over the common, each particular group 
presents its own special interest. A drum and fife 
band passes along the road ; a captain on horse- 
back rides along at the head of his company. The 
men are admirably equipped, all of a pattern in 
their khaki uniforms and well-polished leather 
accoutrements. 

A few miles off, the transport services are stationed 
with their mules and carts ; further on are the 
pontoniers and the engineers ; and beyond again 
there is a whole camp made up of railway mechanics, 
and yet another of everything and everyone con- 
nected with aviation. But everywhere are soldiers, 
soldiers — in the camps, on the roads, each one going 
about his work coolly and resolutely. 

Nowhere are there any signs of haste or flurry. 
The buildings are put up as if they were intended 
to last indefinitely. The wooden huts are erected 
on brick foundations and fitted with perfect sanitary 
arrangements. 

Let us look in for a moment at the Canadians* 
dormitory. A great, fair-skinned giant of a fellow 
who has just been performing his ablutions, tells 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 153 

us he has come from a long way off and is longing 
to get away again into the very thick of the 
fighting. 

Everything has been provided for in this huge 
township, even the edification and amusement of 
the soldiers. There are chapels and cinemas. Here, 
for example, is a concert hall where a performance 
is advertised for the evening — a performance given 
" by the boys for the boys." 

At certain places, along the main arteries that 
have been cut across the heath, shops and even a 
branch bank have been opened. The whole life of 
the place runs full and strong. In the camps and 
round about them, along the roads for miles and 
miles, it is nothing but soldiers, soldiers on foot, 
on horseback, in lorries, in motor-cars, on motor- 
cycles, and in those side-cars that are now so much 
in vogue in London. 

Nearly all of them are very fine men, tall and 
sturdy, with their muscles developed by every kind 
of sport, and conveying, every one of them, the 
general impression of health, manliness, and almost 
of gaiety. 

There are special butts for shooting practice, 
and a flag and notices are there to warn people 
not to enter the danger area. The crack of the rifles 
is heard incessantly. Along the white roads and 
among ^ the gentle undulations of the purple heath 



154 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

— everywhere — one sees but soldiers, who merge 
into the colour of the ground as soon as they get a 
little distance away. 

Sometimes, as you pass on from one camp to 
another, you may catch a glimpse of more peaceful 
scenes that afford a striking contrast with all these 
warlike excursions and alarms. In the shade of 
some lofty trees you may see a little cottage engar- 
landed with flowers, a packhorse tethered to the 
gate — ^just the sort of dehghtful scene that English 
landscapists are so fond of depicting. And, beyond, 
a field of wheat which, by the very peacefulness 
of the contrast, recalls the martial spectacle of the 
tented field. 

When one reflects that these great camps at 
Aldershot have their counterparts over the whole 
of England, and that there are even some of them 
in France — I recollect seeing a big one at Boulogne 
round about the monument raised to commemorate 
the camp formed by Napoleon I in connexion with 
his projected invasion of England — one can really 
form some sort of idea of the magnitude of the 
task which England has achieved in raising such 
an army in less than a year, and in setting herself 
to cope with the peril revealed to her by the great 
conflict that is now in progress. 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 155 

The Effects of Recruiting on the Economic Life 
of the Nation 

One marked effect of the war is the scarcity it 
has brought about in the labour supply. It is not 
at all exceptional to hear of factories that have 
lost from 30 to 35 per cent of their operatives. In 
certain departments the proportion is often much 
higher, and the men who have gone are naturally 
the most competent and efficient. 

A good example of this came under my notice 
in connexion with a very specialised type of in- 
dustry, namely, a pottery. The younger people 
employed in these works — and here I am speaking 
of the manufacture of porcelain, earthenware, and 
ceramics of every description — have thronged to 
the colours, the " placers " having been specially 
conspicuous for their patriotic enthusiasm. With- 
out these skilled workers the manufacture of china 
cannot be carried on at all. Picked labour has 
had to be replaced by casual labour, the result 
being a falling off in the quality and, consequently, 
in the price of the goods ; while the time taken 
in their manufacture is increased 30 per cent. 

A similar condition of affairs prevails in an in- 
dustry of such prime importance as the milling trade. 
At a large flour mill I know of in the neighbour- 
hood of the London Docks the manager in March, 



156 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

1915, took on 700 permanent hands to fill the places 
of 700 others who had joined the army. This mill 
is one of the largest in the place, and pays very 
good wages. Scarcely three months had elapsed 
when, of these 700 new workmen only five remained, 
the others having gone to join Kitchener's Army. 
Now the work is done either by elderly people or 
by younger people unfit for military service. Re- 
course has also been had to female labour. Millers 
who in 1914 would have laughed at the suggestion 
of putting a woman to perform even the humblest 
task in these works now speak of their female 
employees in terms of high admiration. The 
women work day and night. They display mag- 
nificent enthusiasm and willingness in thus keeping 
open the places of their soldier husbands until the 
latter return again in triumph. And this is not 
one of the least praiseworthy or least significant 
of the changes that have taken place in the minds 
of the English people in their attitude towards 
problems of national importance.^ 

* Notable recruiting figures. Great Western Railway 
By December 31st, I9i5,the number of employees of theG.W. 
Railway who had joined the Forces or attested under Lord 
Derby's scheme was 38,827 = 49 per cent of the pre-war staff of 
the Company, and at least 82 per cent (computed) of those of 
military age. 

Coal-miners 

Number of enlistments over the first thirteen months of the 
war amounted to 250,750, and of these 56,850 had enlisted 
during March to August, 191 5, inclusive. 

(Cp. Report of Departmental Committee on conditions pre- 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 157 

The Figures 

The War Office for a long time carefully refrained 
from disclosing the exact number of soldiers at its 
command. This commendable reserve, based on 
the desire of only giving to the public results that 
were definite and not conjectural, had the effect, 
abroad, of giving rise to the suspicion that Eng- 
land was not really putting her full strength into 
the struggle. These suspicions were assiduously 
fostered by Germany's agents, and unwittingly 
propagated by the pusillanimous. 

It must furthermore be borne in mind that the 
fact of Great Britain's being an island differentiates 
her position from that of the other Allies. The 

vailing in coal-mining industry. White Paper, January nth, 
1916.) 

Teachers 

From The Times, February 25th, 1916. 

" According to the Schoolmaster 11,400 men teachers are 
serving with the Forces and about 9000 have attested under the 
Derby scheme. In addition there are 147 serving with naval 
forces, and 236 women acting as nurses. Teachers have already 
gained five Victoria Crosses, while 232 have been killed, 118 
wounded, and nine are missing." 

Metal and Chemical Factories 

Many of these have been converted to munition-making. 

At the beginning of the war 20 per cent of the employees in 
these industries enlisted. Nevertheless between mid- July and 
raid-December, 1915, 462,000 men and 95,000 women (total, 
557,000) were brought into Government or other factories in 
these two trades. 

Many of the skilled employees who enlisted have had to be 
brought back to munition work. 



158 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

French, Russians, and Italians, when they combat 
the enemy are at the same time safeguarding the 
integrity of their respective countries. England, 
however, is confronted by two problems wholly 
distinct one from another. She has to defend her- 
self from invasion, and though the great strength 
of the British Fleet makes such a contingency highly 
problematic, prudence nevertheless demands that 
adequate precautions should be taken to guard 
against a surprise attack. Such precautions in- 
evitably absorb a large body of troops, and conse- 
quently reduce the number of men that can be sent 
across the Channel to render effective assistance to 
the Allies. 

On the 7th August and the loth September, 
1914, the British Parliament voted credits for an 
army of 500,000 and 1,000,000 men respectively. 
Towards the end of October some three-quarters 
of a million had voluntarily presented themselves 
for service. On the 4th May, 1915, Mr. Lloyd 
George announced that two million men had joined 
the colours. On the 15th September Lord Kitchener 
gave the number as close on three million, and on 
the 2ist December estimates were passed for the 
addition of another million men. At the present 
time, therefore, the British Army numbers four 
miUion, excluding the troops from overseas ; and 
the terms of Lord Derby's report show how con- 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 159 

siderable are the resources that still remain un- 
tapped. 

These troops give daily proof of their efficiency. 
Speaking in the House of Lords on the 15th Sep- 
tember, 1915, Lord Kitchener was able to announce 
that the British Front had been considerably in- 
creased, an important section of the line previously 
occupied by the French having been taken over. 
By the 17th September eleven new divisions had 
taken their place side by side with the older ones. 

" In August, 1914, our Army at home consisted 
of 6 Regular and 14 Territorial Divisions, in addi- 
tion to the garrisons overseas, which may roughly 
be estimated at 6 divisions — that makes 26 in all. 
We have now to-day in all, 42 Regular and 28 
Territorial Divisions — that is to say 70, and if you 
add the Naval Division, and I think you ought, 71. 

" In addition, if one wants to estimate the 
contribution of the Empire as a whole, you must 
add, excluding India for the moment, 12 Divisions, 
which makes 83 divisions in all. . . . The total 
military and naval effort of the Empire from the 
beginning of the war up to this moment exceeds 
5,000,000 men." 

In the House of Commons on May 4th, 1916, 
the Prime Minister, in answer to Sir F. Banbury, 
stated that each one of the above 83 divisions might 
be taken to equal 25,000 men. 

In December, 1915, the Prime Minister informed 



i6o BRITAIN IN ARMS 

the House that over a million and a half British 
troops were engaged in the various theatres of war 
throughout the world, and in February, 1916, he 
was in a position to say : " In the actual theatres 
of war, . . . where fighting is going on, without 
counting those who are for the time being in these 
islands for home defence, for reserves, for training, 
and for the necessary garrison duties, we have at 
this moment ten times our original Expeditionary 
Force." 

The Losses 

To complete our estimate of Great Britain's 
contribution in the present war we must add to 
the figures relating to the new armies the number 
of casualties, as announced in the House of Commons 
by the Under-Secretary of State for War. 

The casualties as at the 9th December, 1915, 
amounted to a total of 528,227 officers and men, 
made up as follows : — 



LANDERS AND 


France. 








Officers. 




Other Ranks. 


Killed . 


. 5,138 




82,130 


Wounded 


. 10,217 




248,990 


Missing . 


1,691 




52.344 




17,046 




383.464 


Total 


• 


400,510 





THE MILITARY EFFORT 



i6i 



Dardanelles. 






Killed . 
Wounded 
Missing . 


1.745 

3.143 

353 

5,241 


26,455 
74.952 
10,901 


Total . 


112,308 
117.549 


Other Theatres. 






Killed . 
Wounded 
Missing . 


918 

816 

lOI 


11.752 

15.165 

2,656 


Total . 


1.835 
Totals. 


29,573 
31.408 


Killed . 
Wounded 
Missing . 


• 


. 128,138 

. 353.283 

68,046 


Grand Total 


• 549,467 



On March 2nd, 1916, the Prime Minister stated 
that it was not advisable to publish casualty totals 
at regular intervals. Figures will be given from 
time to time as the military situation may permit. 

Though the British Army at the outbreak of 
war was inconsiderable so far as numbers were 
concerned — England not being a military country 
— it must be noted that, having regard to the 
quality of the troops composing it, its fighting 
value was of an exceptionally high order. Those 
who witnessed the landing of the Expeditionary 
Force in August, 1914, were amazed at the per- 
fection of its discipline and organisation. Its 



i62 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

artillery was in the highest state of efficiency, its 
transport service worked with perfect regularity, 
and it boasted an aerial branch for scouting work 
far superior to anything possessed by the enemy. 
In the field the Expeditionary Force was the 
admiration of all who saw it. The coolness, the 
courage, the doggedness, and the initiative dis- 
played by the professional soldiers of England are 
in everybody's mouth. I can speak with the 
authority of an eye-witness. I beheld them a few 
hours before the battle of Mons, and their admir- 
able sangfroid greatly reassured our people in those 
tragic times. Since then I have met innumerable 
coimtrymen of mine, all of whom speak in terms 
of the highest admiration of the deeds they saw 
the first British Division perform. These, more- 
over, were men who had become soldiers because 
it was their good pleasure so to do. And though 
it is true that armies raised on the Conscriptionist 
system are possessed of a sense of patriotic duty 
that is an invaluable moral asset, it is equally in- 
contestable that men who take up the profession 
of arms from choice are likely to be unsurpassed 
as fighting men. Moreover, these professionals 
possessed a skill derived from prolonged and in- 
tensive training, and they thus had the advantage 
of long experience over all other troops then in 
the field. Finally, while the French and German 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 163 

armies had had no practical acquaintance with 
real war, the British Expeditionary Force were 
endowed with the experience and tenacity of 
veterans, for the vast majority of the men com- 
posing it had been through the arduous Transvaal 
campaign. The British that landed in France were, 
then, a body of picked men, and the French military 
critics were right when they said of them that their 
strength was far beyond what might have been 
expected if one had judged of them solely from the 
numerical standpoint. 

Right up to the very end of the difficult retreat 
which they were called upon to carry out against 
an enemy that outnumbered them by three to one, 
never losing their foothold so to speak, but keeping 
the torrent of their foemen systematically in cheeky 
driving them back in desperate encounters when 
their onrush became too threatening, the men of 
the British Expeditionary Force set an example 
of the most indomitable courage and the most 
reassuring good humour. They never lost con- 
fidence, because they knew their own superiority 
as fighting men. In the very height of the retreat 
a general said gleefully : " Our cavalry go through 
the Uhlans as though they were going through 
brown paper." And this is how a subaltern of an 
English regiment of infantry describes a charge of 
the Hussars at a critical juncture : 



i64 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

" A hellish look of rage and terror gleamed in 
the eyes of the Germans when, finding themselves 
trapped, they endeavoured to cope with their new 
foes. We stopped where we were, looking on in 
silence, doing nothing for fear of hitting our own 
cavalry. They only had a few minutes to make up 
their minds. With a frightful yell, which I shall 
remember to my dying day, they turned and fled 
as though all the devils of hell were at their heels. 
They were mown down like wheat. It was at this 
point that our men took the largest number of 
prisoners. Rifles, cartridge-cases, helmets, anything 
they could throw away, all were sacrificed that they 
might run the faster, and many of the terror-stricken 
fugitives showed more speed than the tired horses 
of our Hussars." 

As a proof of the good spirits the men were in, 
here is a letter written by a sapper after the first 
few trjdng days of the great retreat : 

" The soldiers take everything quite coolly. 
You would have thought they were at a football 
cup-tie. They were lying in the trenches with 
German shells flying all round, and they would 
make bets as to how many Germans they would 
kill and had killed during the day. They were 
laughing and joking all the time. A party of the 
King's Own went into one battle shouting out, 
* Early doors this way ! Early doors, ninepence ! ' 
There were chaps, too, coming in and having their 
wounds dressed, and going off again to have another 
go at the Germans. Our men fought simply grand. 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 165 

At Landrecies, while our men were lying in the 
trenches there were a couple of fellows playing 
marbles with bullets from shrapnel shells which 
had burst around them." 

We must quote one more passage from these 
letters, constituting as they do such important 
documentary evidence for the minor history of the 
war, and for the study of the moral qualities called 
forth by it. A gunner who had been wounded and 
taken to hospital, writes : " I want to get back to 
the front as soon as ever the doctor says I am well 
enough to serve a gun ; I don't want to stop 
here." 

It was the moral quality of such soldiers as these 
that enabled them to maintain so unequal a contest 
and, by their strategic retreat, to protect the French 
left against the threatened outflanking movement. 
It was also owing to the unshakable morale of 
these men that the retreat was so swiftly changed 
into a victorious offensive in the great days of the 
Ourcq and the Marne. 

Nor is the spirit of the new armies a whit inferior 
to that of the professionals of the Expeditionary 
Force. 

Mr. H. A. L. Fisher justly quotes as one of the 
finest episodes in the war the magnificent exploit 
of the Canadians who, when the Zouaves had been 
driven back before the unlooked-for stream of 
asphyxiating gas, themselves undertook to defend 



i66 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

the approaches to Ypres, and held the enemy at 
bay from the 22nd to the 26th April. " Another 
exploit," he continues, " no less sublime, was the land- 
ing of the Lancashires at the Dardanelles beneath a 
storm of missiles from rifles and machine guns 
and heavy artillery and through every obstacle 
of spike and wire which modern science could op- 
pose. Each of these feats was performed by a body 
of volunteer soldiers, enlisted on grounds of patriot- 
ism, and recently levied, yet showing under the 
most adverse and desperate circumstances qualities 
of courage, resource, and persistence which have 
never been surpassed by the most seasoned veterans 
of a professional army. Of these new levies only a 
small portion has, as yet, measured itself with the 
enemy, but there is no reason to doubt that the 
splendid fighting qualities which that portion has 
displayed will be equally evident in the battalions 
which have not yet crossed the sea." 

What the British Army did. First Belgian 
Campaign 

Let us now give a rapid summary of the opera- 
tions of the British Army from the outbreak of 
the war. 

The mobilisation was very rapidly carried out. 
The troops began to concentrate on the 5th August ; 
by the 21st the concentration was complete. The 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 167 

length of time taken to carry out these operations 
has been made the subject of adverse criticism. 
People compared the EngHsh performance with 
the French which, though their forces were vastly 
more numerous, was carried out nearly as quickly ; 
and with the Belgians, where the forces were about 
equal, and the time occupied very considerably 
less. If, however, we remember the difficulties 
that have to be overcome in mobilising and con- 
centrating troops out of their own country, we may 
reasonably enquire whether any grounds for criti- 
cism remain. 

On the 23rd August the British Army, 80,000 
strong, took up its position on the Mons-Cond6 
Canal, with Mons as their centre. General von 
Kluck, at the head of four army corps, came in 
contact with the British, who put up a gallant 
fight but found themselves compelled to retire in 
consequence of their numerical inferiority, the giving 
way of the French line on the Sambre, and the fall 
of Namur. 

The Campaign in France 

From that time onward General French's army 
was called upon to carry out an arduous and 
difficult strategic retreat in order to frustrate von 
Kluck's endeavour to outflank it. By the 24th 
the British Army had got back nearly as far as 
Maubeuge. Next day it withdrew to the Cateau- 



I^ BRITAIN IN ARMS 

Landrecies line and emerged intact from this 
difficult ordeal, thanks to two most brilliantly 
fought engagements. These were the battles of 
Landrecies and LeCateau, fought by the second army 
corps under General Smith-Dorrien and the fourth 
division under General Snow. It was in consequence 
of these battles that the retreat was henceforth 
carried out under less difficult conditions, and on 
the morning of the 27th Sir John French's army 
reached St. Quentin. 

From the 27th to the 31st the retreating forces 
suffered less molestation, though the English were 
involved in a violent cavalry action east of Com- 
piegne. 

On the 4th September the British were able to 
take up the positions they were destined to occupy 
during the great attack, which General Joffre 
ordered on the following day. 

On the 6th, von Kluck bore down on the British 
front, hopingt to pierce and envelop the Allies' 
centre ; but, being himself attacked in the rear by 
the 6th French Army, on the Ourcq, he was com- 
pelled to beat a hasty retreat, with the British in 
hot pursuit. Sir John French's most important 
contribution to the great victory of the Marne thus 
began on the 8th September, and was marked by 
actions at Rebais, la Tretoire, and le Petit Morin. 
These were followed, on the 9th, by the passage of 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 169 

the Marne and the battle of La Ferte ; on the same 
night, by a violent onslaught on von Kluck's right ; 
and on the loth by the pursuit of the rearguard of 
the fleeing enemy. That day 2000 prisoners fell 
into the victor's hands. 

The month of September was spent by both sides 
in the organisation of defensive works on the Aisne. 
The British Army was transferred to the north, 
where it was in closer contact with its supply bases. 
During October 6000 British marines were sent to 
help in the defence of Antwerp, which they were 
unfortunately not able to save. I myself saw them 
as they hurried to the scene, amid the cheers of the 
Flemish populace. No sooner had they arrived 
than they demanded the honour of fighting alongside 
the Belgian soldiers. 

These operations must not be looked upon as 
haphazard or isolated. They formed part of a big 
plan of the Franco-British General Staff, which 
aimed at forming a line that should link up the forts 
of Antwerp with the French line. This plan it was 
found impossible to carry out. Instead, the Hne 
had to rest on the North Sea, near Ostend, and it 
was there that the Antwerp garrison bore the brunt 
of the first attempt on the part of the Germans to 
break through to Calais. 

Almost simultaneously the British were called on 
to withstand another onslaught. During the last 



I70 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

fortnight in October General Smith-Dorrien, com- 
manding the Second Army Corps, held the Germans 
in check at La Bassee under circumstances of 
pecuHar difficulty. 

Second Belgian Campaign 

But it was at Ypres that the British had their 
hardest task to perform. This battle, the greatest 
the British Army has ever fought, lasted a whole 
month. The Allies, whose forces scarcely totalled 
150,000 men, succeeded, thanks to prodigies of 
valour and endurance, in holding up more than 
half a million Germans. Here, for two whole days, 
the British 7th Division held a line eight miles long 
against the onslaught of three German Army Corps. 
Among the most glorious and most trying days of 
this protracted struggle, those which merit special 
mention are the 29th and 31st October, 1914, when, 
the salient at GheUnwelt having given away, the 
situation was saved by the British Second Division ; 
the 6th and 7th November, 19 14, when the Germans 
attacked Klein Zillibeke and were repulsed by the 
Guards Brigade, under Lord Cavan, and the 
Household Cavalry ; and the nth November, 1914, 
when the Prussian Guard was crushed by the First 
Corps. 

The German aims in the direction of the Pas-de- 
Calais were frustrated, and both sides began to 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 171 

settle down to trench warfare, with all its trials and 
monotony. It was marked by various successful 
actions. Calling for special mention among them 
are the engagement in which the Indians took part 
at La Bassee in the middle of December, 1914, and 
the brilliant piece of fighting at Neuve Chapelle 
which lasted from the loth to the 12th March, 1915, 
when the English succeeded in penetrating the 
German positions to the depth of a mile over a front 
three miles long, but were unable for divers reasons 
to attain all the results that might have been 
anticipated. 

Third Belgian Campaign 

On the 17th April, 1916, the British had possessed 
themselves of Hill 60. This was part and parcel of 
a plan which aimed at clearing the road to Lille, 
Hill 60 being in close proximity to the German lines 
of communication with that town. 

On the 20th the Germans, in order to prevent the 
British from bringing up reinforcements, bombarded 
Ypres, and on the 22nd they made use of asphyxi- 
ating gas for the first time, against a French 
division. This division falling back, a brigade of 
Canadian troops was left in a critical position. 
However, by prodigies of valour, these gallant 
fellows proved themselves equal to the emergency. 
For four days the Germans repeated their gas and 
shell attacks and compelled Sir John French to 



172 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

take up a new position slightly to the rear of his 
original lines. " This," said The Times, " is the 
first indication of the new German plan, — to defend 
their lines with fewer men and more guns, so as to 
keep our infantry at a distance and thus compel us 
to wage an artillery duel at long range.'* These 
tactics had the effect inter alia of causing the Allies 
to reorganise their output of munitions and war 
material. 

The September Offensive, 1915 

At the end of September, 1915, the British played 
their part worthily in the general offensive on the 
Western front. After two days' uninterrupted 
bombardment the 4th Army Corps gained pos- 
session of Loos, the 5th carried Cite, Sainte Eloi, 
and a part of the village of Haisne. The 
1st Army Corps was not so fortunate. Owing to 
lack of support it was unable to maintain itself in 
the ground it had won. For divers reasons these 
brilHant tactical engagements did not result in 
the strategic success that had been looked for. 

At the end of the year Sir John French requested 
to be relieved of his responsibilities. He was 
succeeded in the Chief Command of the British 
Forces by General Sir Douglas Haig. 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 173 

The Career of Sir John French 

The Times (December i6th, 1915) on the occa- 
sion of the rehnquishment by Sir John French of his 
command of the British Armies in France and 
Flanders, pubhshed the following biographical 
notice : 

" Sir John French was marked out for high 
promotion by his brilliant work in the South African 
War, first under Sir George White and afterwards 
under Lord Roberts. Born in 1852, he was origin- 
ally destined for the Navy and served for four 
years as Cadet and Midshipman. In 1874, how- 
ever, he entered the Army. He served with his 
regiment, the 19th Hussars, in the Sudan in 1884-5. 
From 1889-93 he commanded his regiment and 
in 1897, after holding several staff appointments, 
was appointed to the command of a cavalry 
brigade. After the South African War, from 
which he returned Lieutenant- General, k.c.b. and 
K.C.M.G., his rapid promotion continued and in 
1907 he was appointed General, and two years ago, 
Field-Marshal. He has served as Inspector-General 
of the Forces, and First Military Member of the 
Army Council." . . . 

On December 15th, 1915, the War Office 
announced that " since the commencement of the 
War, during over sixteen months of severe and 
incessant strain, Field-Marshal Sir John French 
has most ably commanded our Armies in France 



174 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

and Flanders, and he has now at his own instance 
relinquished that command. His Majesty's Govern- 
ment with full appreciation of and gratitude for the 
conspicuous services which Sir John French has 
rendered to the country at the front, have, with the 
King's approval, requested him to accept the 
appointment of Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief 
the troops stationed in the United Kingdom, and 
Sir John French has accepted that appointment. 
His Majesty the King has been pleased to confer 
upon Sir John French the dignity of a Viscount 
of the United Kingdom." 

In its leading article on December 17th The 
Times said : 

" He shares with the French leaders the glory 
won at the battle of the Marne, when he joined in 
the prompt renewal of the offensive despite his 
severe losses and the great fatigue of his troops. . . . 
He has known how to nurse the new Armies and how 
to bring them, gradually and cautiously, towards 
the day of their ultimate trial. . . . England has 
instinctively believed in Field-Marshal French, 
just as France has believed in General Joffre." 

Sir John French was in command of the British 
troops in France for exactly 500 days. 

Sir Douglas Haig 

On December i6th, 1915, the War Office an- 
nounced as follows : "Sir Douglas Haig has 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 175 

been appointed to succeed Field-Marshal Sir John 
French in command of the Army in France and 
Flanders." Upon this occasion The Times pub- 
lished the following summary of his career : 

" Sir Douglas Haig is 54 years of age, and is, 
like his predecessor, a cavalry officer. From 
Clifton he proceeded to Brasenose, Oxford . . . 
and joined the 7th Hussars in 1885. He also 
passed the Staff College. His first war service was 
in the Sudan in 1898 when he obtained promotion. 
In the South African War he earned great distinc- 
tion as a cavalry leader, and later held the post of 
Inspector-General of Cavalry in India. From 
1907-1909 he was director of Staff duties at Army 
Headquarters, and in 1909 he returned to India as 
Chief of Staff. 

" In the present war. Sir Douglas Haig was 
appointed to command the ist Army Corps, 
which was singled out by Sir John French for its 
magnificent work on the Marne. In November, 
1914, he was promoted to be General (Super- 
numerary to establishment) for distinguished service 
in the field. 

" Last July Sir John French in his despatch on 
the second battle of Ypres, specially mentioned 
* the valuable services rendered by General Sir 
Douglas Haig in his successful handling of the 
troops of the ist Army throughout the battle of 
Festubert.' "... 

Complete understanding and co-operation have 
always existed between Sir Douglas Haig and 



176 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

General Joffre. On March loth, 1916, during the 
most critical stage of the battle of Verdun, the 
French Commander-in-Chief sent this message to 
General Haig : 

" The French Army remembers that its recent 
call on the comradeship of the British Army met 
with an immediate response." 

That meant that the British had extended their 
line. On July ist, when the present Allied offensive 
was launched, Sir Douglas Haig controlled a front 
of ninety miles, reaching from the north of Ypres to 
the Somme. What he has accomplished on that 
front will be found in the summary of the Somme 
operations. 

British Operations on the Somme from July 1st to 
September 14th, 1916 

After preparatory bombardment of great inten- 
sity, the first great infantry attack was delivered on 
July ist. The main German front line, from above 
La Boiselle on the left to near Carnoy, east by 
Mametz — positions protected by elaborate defen- 
sive works — was then penetrated. The villages 
of La Boiselle, Fricourt, Mametz and Montaubon, 
with all the intervening entrenched ground, were 
captured. Altogether a front of 10,000 yards to 
an average depth of 2000 yards was broken through. 
In two days 4000 prisoners were captured. On 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 177 

July 5 this total was increased to 6000. Desperate 
local fighting during the next ten days yielded a 
gain of another 1000 yards in depth, the village 
of Contalmaison, the whole of Mametz, Bernafoy 
Woods and the village of Ovillers-la-Boisselle falling 
into British hands. Without intermission the 
grand attack on the German second Hne was begun 
on July 14th, when a front of about 5000 yards was 
shattered as completely as the first hne had been a 
fortnight earher. This success yielded the villages 
of Bazentin-le-Grand and Bazentin-le-Petit, with 
their respective woods, as well as the greater part 
of Longueval and the lower edge of Delville Wood. 
In the centre High Wood was reached ; on the 
right Trones Wood was cleared and captured. 

Another period of fierce local fighting followed. A 
subsidiary and successful attack on July i6th-i7th 
gave the British another 1300 yards of the German 
second line and brought them to a point due east of 
Pozieres, captured in its entirety on July 26th. 

The third phase of the battle, which occupied 
over a month, saw the British gradually pushing 
their way up the final slopes and over the bare, 
shell-swept summit of the ridge. Though less 
spectacular than the first two phases, this phase 
was not less arduous and certainly not less suc- 
cessful. In ten days a sequence of stunning blows, 
each with its hurricane bombardment, carried 



178 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

the British from a Httle above Ovillers to some 
700 yards below Thiepval. By August 24th Delville 
Wood had been completely cleared and the British 
line extended well to the north of it. Equally 
brilliant was the operation which forced a passage 
from Pozieres to Mouquet Farm and over the high 
ground and beyond the Windmill on the Bapaume 
Road. 

On no single day during this third phase did the 
British fail to make some ground. Nowhere were 
they thrown back ; nowhere were the Germans 
able to stem their advance. The intensity of 
fighting is shown by the number of prisoners. On 
one day nearly 1000 were captured ; on several 
other days between 400 and 500. Unquestionably 
the morale of the enemy had been severely shaken. 

The fourth phase began on September 3rd, when 
the French and British forces attacked on a front 
of 6000 yards between the region north of Maiu-epas. 
Large enemy forces were swept away. The French 
captured the villages of Le Forest and Clery-sur- 
Somme as well as the German trenches from 
the north of Le Forest to Combles. The British 
captured part of Ginchy and the whole of Guille- 
mont, while an advance was made on the east of 
Mouquet Farm. The Allies captured 3000 prisoners 
between them, besides many guns. 

By September 5th, despite stubborn enemy resist- 



THE MILlTARYj^EFFORT 179 

ance and heavy rain, the British had advanced 
their Une 1500 yards east of Guillemont and gained 
a footing in Leuze Wood. Further south the whole 
of the enemy's strong defensive system on a front 
of 1000 yards in and around Falfemont was taken. 

On September gth, after desperate fighting, Ginchy 
was in British hands. Sir Douglas Haig was able 
to report on September loth that, as a result of a 
week's campaign, his army had advanced 6000 yards 
to a depth varying from 300 to 3000 yards. Strong 
counter attacks both in the neighbourhood of 
Ginchy and in the vicinity of Pozieres were beaten 
off on September nth with heavy losses to the 
Germans. But in their ofhcial report of September 
I2th the Germans were obliged to admit the loss of 
Ginchy. The French resumed a vigorous offensive 
south of Combles on September 12th. 

During the whole of the operations outlined above 
the British developed a systematic aircraft attack, 
clearly establishing their ascendancy over the enemy 
in this department. 

Achievements of the British Armies outside Europe 

The operations of the British armies outside 
Europe were subsidiary only in the sense of being 
less directly aimed at Germany, though their 
achievement was one of the principal counter- 
balances to the enemy's capture of Allied territory. 



i8o BRITAIN IN ARMS 

ThejGerman possessions in the Pacific were seized 
during the first two months of the war by AustraUan 
and New Zealand troops accompanied by some 
Imperial warships and the Australian Navy. On 
November loth Kiao-chau, the only German pos- 
session on the Asiatic Continent, was formally 
handed over to the Japanese and British, after a 
skilful siege of the chief town, Tsing Tao, had been 
pressed to a successful issue. In West Africa, 
Togoland, a colony of about the same size as 
Ireland, was occupied by British and French troops 
by August 27th. Kamerun, a German colony 
farther south, which is one-third larger than the 
German Empire in Europe, presented great diffi- 
culties owing to its vast spaces and poor communica- 
tions. The first raiding columns from Nigeria were 
too weak to achieve anything, and the winter of 
1 9 14-15 was spent in raid and counter-raid across 
the borders. The port Duala was made the British 
headquarters and gradually columns began to cross 
the country to meet French troops and the useful 
little force from the Belgian Congo. In spite of the 
numerous strong places in the country the enemy 
was pursued from one position to another until, 
by the end of 1915, the bulk of his force was driven 
into the south-east corner of the country. Yaunda, 
the new capital, was seized on New Year's Day, 
1916, and the strong hill station at Mora capitulated 



THE MILITARY EFFORT i8i 

the following month ; but the main force fled to 
Spanish Muni and was interned. 

South-West Africa was, like Kamerun, a country 
devoid of communications, and the speed with 
which it was overrun gives no suggestion of the 
hardships the troops had to overcome. Sandstorms 
tore their tents and even their clothes to shreds ; 
land mines killed the unwary who ran to the water- 
courses. Yet in the first months from January, 
1915, when the campaign really commenced, 
General Botha's converging columns, after several 
fierce engagements, compelled the surrender of the 
capital (and wireless station) Windhoek. The 
Germans fell back to the north-east of the colony 
and in June the British troops commenced by 
forced marches to cut them off from Angola. On 
July 9th they were caught and, recognising their 
defeat, surrendered. German East Africa, which is 
twice the size of the German Empire in Europe, 
held a larger enemy force and it made good use of 
its opportunities, raiding the neighbouring British 
colonies and avoiding decisive action. The wireless 
station at Dar-es-Salaam was destroyed in August, 
1914 ; but the small British forces which attempted 
to invade the colony were defeated in November 
at Tanga and in January, 1915, at Jassin. At the 
end of the year General Smith-Dorrien was ap- 
pointed to the chief command ; but he had to 



lS2 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

resign through ill-health in two months and General 
Smuts succeeded him in February, 1916. In two 
months the whole of the northern part of the 
colony was overrun, and a column entering the 
southern half took Neu Langenburg on May 30th. 
Wilhelmstal, the new capital, was occupied a 
fortnight later ; and the worst of the organised 
resistance was overcome. 

The entry of Turkey into the war in November, 
1914, opened a vast area of attack, and a British 
force at once landed in the Persian Gulf, took Basra 
on November 23rd, Kurna six days later, and, in 
spite of almost insuperable difficulties in transport, 
the British force consolidated its position against 
lateral attacks and went forward. The following 
September Kut was taken and, after a rest. General 
Townshend continued his advance towards Baghdad. 
A successful action was fought on November 22nd 
at Ctesiphon, eighteen miles from Baghdad ; but 
the water giving out and Turkish reinforcements 
coming up, he fell back in good order on Kut. There 
he was besieged until April 29th when he was 
compelled to surrender. The victory which seemed 
to be in the grasp of a British force, in one of the 
attempts to relieve Kut, was lost by a blunder. 

The campaign against the Dardanelles was also 
unsuccessful, though the heroic landing of British 
and Australian troops in April, 1915, will live in 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 183 

history. The end of the GaUipoH peninsula was 
firmly in British hands when a new force was 
landed in Suvla Bay in August ; but again victory 
which was virtually won was allowed to slip away 
through slowness in pressing home the attack. 
Lord Kitchener and Sir Charles Monro visited the 
position towards the end of the year and in accord- 
ance with their views it was quietly evacuated 
during the nights of December 19th, 1915, and 
January 8th, 1916. The evacuation, like the landing, 
was a feat worthy of a more successful campaign ; 
but each of these operations in Mesopotamia and 
Gallipoli served its purpose in weakening the forces 
available for the defence of Armenia, by which 
Russia profited, and in rendering very difficult a 
really serious attack on Egypt. 

The capture of the Suez Canal which, being the 
main artery of the British Empire, would have been 
the principal objective of the Turkish forces was never 
near achievement. In February, 1915, an abortive 
attack was made and though the British did not 
follow up their success in beating it off, the troops 
were so roughly handled that no further attempt 
was made for over a year. Meanwhile the Senussi 
who attacked on the western frontier of Egypt were 
met and dispersed; and a punitive expedition 
was successfully conducted in May, 1916, against 
the Sultan of Darfur. A more formidable attempt 



i84 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

to capture the Canal was made in August. By 
this time General Sir Archibald Murray, Lord 
French's Chief of Staff at Mons, was in command. 
The Turks with the German detachments were some 
14,000 strong. They attacked on a front of seven 
miles with a number of guns ; but they were 
decisively defeated and driven off with great loss. 
Over 3000 unwounded prisoners were taken. 

Towards the end of the year 191 5 a French and 
British force was landed at Salonica to assist Serbia ; 
and, by their aid, the retreat of the Serbs was 
covered and the enemy was robbed of one of his 
main objectives in the Serbian campaign, an outlet 
to the Mediterranean. Under General Sarrail the 
Allied forces lay entrenched at Salonica until, 
reinforced by Russian, Italian and Serbian troops, 
they were able to take the offensive in the summer 
of 1916. While French, Russians and Serbs marched 
towards Monastir, the British crossed the Struma 
and imposed a gradually increasing strain upon the 
Bulgars which was of critical value to the Rumanians 
in their campaign to the north. 

Zeppelin Raids and Losses 

On August 22nd, 1916, Major Baird, who repre- 
sents the new Air Board in the House of Commons, 
stated that up to that date there had been 34 
Zeppelin raids, in ten of which there had been 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 185 

no casualties. The whole number of persons 
killed was 334 civilians and 50 soldiers. The 
military damage was absolutely nil. 

Seven Zeppelins had been destroyed, and five 
others had been damaged to such an extent that 
there was reason to hope that they had in fact 
been destroyed. 

The Allies as a whole had accounted for 35 Zep- 
pelins. 

By September 13th, 1916, there had been three 
more raids and two more persons killed. 

Another Zeppelin was brought down by an 
aeroplane and totally destroyed on the night of 
September 2nd-3rd. On the same occasion a second 
Zeppelin was, according to an official report (Sep- 
tember 6th) " believed to have been very seriously 
damaged." 

In the raids which took place at the end of 
September four more Zeppelins were brought down, 
to the joy of the beholders who had collected in 
crowds in the streets and witnessed the doom of 
the burning monster as it fell to earth turning 
night into day. 

The Tanks 

Among the war inventions, mention must be 
made of the appearance of some other particularly 
formidable devices known as " Tanks." During 
the battle of the Somme these mysterious things 



i86 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

made their way across trenches, barbed wire, brick 
walls, etc., crushing everything that came their way. 
They struck terror into the hearts of the enemy. 

Submarine Warfare 

Suspended for a time owing to American protests, 
the submarine campaign was reopened by the 
sinking of several vessels off the entrance to New 
York Harbour on the 8th October, 1916. 

Home Police Arrangements 

The success and effectiveness of the miHtary 
operations are continually being jeopardised by 
hostile espionage. Here, again, England was 
slow to realise the necessities of the situation. 
England is the country of individual liberty, and 
it was a long time before she could make up 
her mind to restrict the freedom of anyone who 
had settled within her borders. Sincerity and 
good faith are essentially English qualities, and 
it was only by degrees and under pressure of cir- 
cumstances — particularly the anti-German riots at 
Hammersmith in May, 1915 — that the English 
came at last to understand that there were people 
whom it behoved her to suspect and keep under 
observation. An EngUshman would quite readily 
admit that Germany was his country's enemy ; 
but he was loth to believe that the Germans were 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 187 

his enemies. For a long time, therefore, German 
agents had a free hand in London and elsewhere. 
They scarcely went to the trouble of calling them- 
selves Swiss. More than once we viewed with mis- 
giving the excessive guilelessness on the part of 
the English who, despite the atrocities which we 
had seen with our own eyes, continued to show 
consideration for the accomplices of the barbarian 
hordes that had laid Belgium in ruins. German 
prisoners in England have been treated like gentle- 
men and with a wealth of regard that has frequently 
struck us as excessive. 

The Germans, of course, did not fail to profit 
handsomely by this over-benevolent attitude. They 
kept up relationships in England with people who 
not only pursued a disintegrating propaganda with 
the object of fomenting internal troubles, but 
adopted measures of a still more practical char- 
acter. How can one fail to recognise their criminal 
hand in the many accidents that have occurred — 
accidents too numerous to have been merely the 
result of chance, such as fires and explosions in 
motor and aviation works, in factories engaged on 
war work, in the magazines of men-of-war ? 

Gradually the English became alive to the need 
for precaution. Day by day the meshes of the 
postal censorship grew finer and finer. At present 
the system is nearly perfect and imposes a con- 



i88 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

siderable handicap on the enemies' clandestine 
activities. But spies are ingenious folk, and when- 
ever there are secrets to overhear and betray, 
attentive ears are never lacking. 

The surveillance of foreigners can be carried out 
without any great difficulty. It is easy to keep 
an eye on the passengers arriving or departing by 
boat. The various formalities such as passports 
and declarations form a suitable corollary to the 
post-office censorship. 

The censorship of the newspapers is hardly com- 
plete. It strictly prohibits any criticism of the 
Allied Governments, but permits free discussion 
of the actions of the British Cabinet. Towards the 
end of 1915 the diplomatic censorship was com- 
pletely abolished. The British system exhibits 
more tolerance than the French, and more again 
than the German, thus affording an interesting 
object lesson in comparative practical democracy. 
Free circulation has frequently been accorded to 
articles of a bitter and pessimistic nature, and these 
had a bad effect on the Continent and caused cor- 
respondingly great rejoicings in Germany, but men 
of unimpeachable patriotism considered their pub- 
lication necessary in order to stir their countrymen 
to action. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE MILITARY EFFORT FROM THE INDUSTRIAL 
POINT OF VIEW 

The Shortage of Munitions 

ON the 14th May, 1915, The Times Military 
Correspondent on the Western front wrote 
that the absence of an unUmited supply 
of high explosives had proved a fatal obstacle to 
success. In saying this he gave free and open ex- 
pression to criticisms that had been rife in the 
lobby of the House of Commons and in private 
circles for a long time past. The failure of the 
British Army to reap the full fruits of its splendid 
achievements at Neuve Chapelle, and the ebb and 
flow in the defence of Hill 60 on the 17th April were 
cases in point. An energetic campaign was organised 
in the newspapers after the publication of The 
Times letter. Questions were put in the Commons. 
Popular feeling was deeply stirred. 

This feeling was unquestionably justified. The 
War Oihce had displayed a lack of foresight in its 
arrangements for the production of munitions, a 
shortcoming which it shared, however, with the 

189 



I90 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

other partners in the AUiance ; of that the Russian 
reverses afforded decisive proof. 

The daily output of munitions did not equal the 
necessary consumption. How immense this con- 
sumption is, it would be difficult to realise did we 
not know that the number of shells consumed at 
Neuve Chapelle alone was greater than the total 
employed in the whole South African campaign. 

Moreover, the English factories had manufactured 
a great quantity of shrapnel, but only a compara- 
tively restricted supply of high explosives. This 
was diametrically opposed to the requirements of 
the situation. In fact the nature of the terrain 
and the strength of the enemy's defensive works 
were such that, before an infantry attack could 
be launched, even under protection of shrapnel 
fire, it was necessary that the hostile positions 
should be subjected to such a deluge of high ex- 
plosives as to render the most thoroughly organised 
defences untenable. 

These defects having been made manifest by 
bitter experience, measures were taken to remedy 
them. 

A Ministry of Munitions 

The 25th May, 1915, witnessed the formation 
of the Coalition Government in England. Mr. 
Lloyd George became head of a newly-created 
department — the Ministry of Munitions. No better 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 191 

appointment could have been made. Mr. Lloyd 
George was endowed with conspicuous organising 
ability and possessed great influence with the 
working classes. The new Minister lost no time in 
setting to work. He remedied the most urgent 
defects and, a month later, laid on the table of the 
House the Munitions Bill that was to solve the 
great problem once for all. 

How to Mobilise Labour. The Problem and its 
Solution 

To realise the immensity of the task performed 
by the present Ministry of Munitions it is necessary 
to read the two speeches delivered by Mr. Lloyd 
George in the House of Commons on the 23rd June 
and the 28th July, 1915. These frank and open 
statements show us both the difficulties that had 
to be confronted and the manner in which they 
were overcome. 

The problem may be stated as follows : — 

Experience had shown that of the two opposing 
forces the advantage would rest with the one that 
could outdo the other in the expenditure of muni- 
tions. From that time onwards the question ceased 
to be a purely military one : it became a labour 
question. It was in the workshops, the factories, 
the arsenals, that victory was to be wrought out. 

This had been perfectly well understood by the 



192 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

Germans, and in this as in so many other respects 
they had the advantage over the AUies of prepara- 
tion and foresight. These preparations were of 
two kinds. They consisted, in the first place, in 
the accumulation of reserves of munitions and of 
the raw material necessary for their manufacture ; 
and, secondly, in the measures ensuring the im- 
mediate and effective mobilisation of the national 
industries for the sole and exclusive purpose of 
carrying on the war. The Central Empires were 
able to turn out 250,000 shells a day, or nearly 
8,000,000 a month. The British rate of production 
was 2500 high explosive shells and 13,000 shrapnel 
shells a day. Thus, the problem before the Allies 
was first of all to equal and then to surpass the 
formidable productive capabilities of their adver- 
saries. The sooner they did so, the sooner victory 
would be theirs. 

England's reserves in the matter of labour and 
machinery were immense. But they were all un- 
systematised. The problem was to organise these 
resources, and to organise them without delay. 

Mr. Lloyd George's first step was to select his 
staff. A large number of business men, technical 
engineers, and others freely placed their services at 
his disposal, most of them without demanding any 
remuneration from the State. Each one of them 
was put in charge of a particular branch, e.g., 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 193 

metals, explosives, machinery, labour, chemical 
research, and so on. 

But Mr. Lloyd George's principal aim being to 
obtain quick returns, he regarded it as an urgent 
necessity to decentralise the work as much as 
possible. The United Kingdom was split up into 
a certain number of districts ; special committees 
were formed for the purpose of organising the work 
in each district. They consisted of local business 
men who were familiar with the resources and the 
labour conditions of the place ; of engineers who, 
in order to fit them for their duties, had undergone 
a brief period of service in the Government Arsenals 
or in one of the following works : Elswick, Vickers- 
Maxim, or Beardmore ; and of a technical engineer 
and a Secretary in touch with the Ministry of 
Munitions. 

One of the great difficulties was the matter of 
raw material. Some England possessed in abund- 
ance, some could only be obtained with difficulty. 
The department had also to see to it that no attempt 
was made by unscrupulous suppliers to make a 
corner in their goods. The doings of the metal 
markets were carefully looked into, with immediately 
beneficial results. 

Having provided the raw material, the next 
thing was to get to work on it. Where was the plant 
to come from ? 




194 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

A vast registration scheme was set on foot, 
and in a short time the Government had an accurate 
idea of the machinery at their disposal. As soon 
as the process of classification was completed it 
was of course evident that what was chiefly lacking 
were certain machines required in the manufacture 
of large shells. The Government thereupon took 
all the big machine works under its direct control 
for the duration of the war. Henceforth these 
works were Government works, and on the 28th 
July, 1915, Mr. Lloyd George remarked with 
satisfaction that there had not been a word Oj 
protest on the part of any machine-tool manu- 
facturers, although the change involved a con- 
siderable diminution in their profits. Owing to 
this measure, supplemented by the creation of a 
committee of machine-tool manufacturers of the 
United Kingdom, the output of material required 
for the manufacture of munitions was greatly in- 
creased, and will increase still further as time goes on. 

The Government was thus able to reorganise 
the production works themselves. These were of 
two kinds. First, there were the munition works 
properly so called, where it was necessary to extend 
the plant or increase the rate of production. Then 
there were factories which had to be altered so as 
to adapt them to the new kind of work. Finally, 
the Government decided to create sixteen large 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 195 

works — a number subsequently increased to twenty- 
six — the equipment of which is being carried out 
with the utmost dispatch. 

The next thing was to organise the labour and 
recruit fresh hands. There was a choice of two 
methods, the compulsory and the voluntary. After 
going into the matter with the Trades Union 
leaders it was the latter method that was decided 
upon. It was more in accordance with English 
traditions and sentiment. A vast recruiting cam- 
paign was started, the headquarters being the town 
hall, in one hundred and eighty different centres. 
It lasted a week, and was an immense success. 
Mr. Lloyd George stated, on the 23rd July, 1915, 
that the Government had got together 100,000 
workmen, most of whom were experts in machinery 
and shipbuilding. True, it was not possible to 
employ them all, some already doing Government 
work, others being indispensable to the civil life 
of the country. But when all deductions were 
made it was found that the number of men was 
amply sufficient for present needs. To them we 
must add the skilled workmen who had joined the 
army and who, as far as possible, were brought 
home to serve their country in an industrial capacity. 

All the workmen were assigned either to the 
works already in existence — which in many cases 
were short of hands and unable for this reason to 



196 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

fulfil their contracts — or else they were allotted to 
the new factories. 

But in view of influence wielded by the Labour 
Unions, various provisions were inserted in the 
Munitions Act. They related to the settlement 
of labour disputes, and to the prohibition of strikes 
and lock-outs the grounds for which had not been 
submitted to the Board of Trade. 

To obviate such disputes, which were generally 
called forth by the excessive profits accruing to 
the employers and the demands of the wage-earners, 
the system of *' Controlled Establishments " was 
instituted. Every establishment engaged on muni- 
tion work was placed, so far as the regulation of 
profits and salaries was concerned, under direct 
Government control. Any modification in the rate 
of wages had to be submitted to the Ministry of 
Munitions, which had power to refer the question 
to an Arbitration Board specially set up by the 
Act. 

To complete this rapid survey it must be added 
that a department was created by the Ministry of 
Munitions, under the control of an Under-Secretary, 
whose special business it was to examine war in- 
ventions. 

Results 

On the 20 th December, 1915, Mr. Lloyd George, 
in a speech delivered in the House of Commons, 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 197 

summarised the results of the first six months of 
his tenure of office. 

From every point of view his report was exceed- 
ingly satisfactory. We will take a few points. 

Orders placed before the formation of the depart- 
ment were delivered with an increase of 16 per 
cent on previous deliveries. The number of new 
orders placed increased by 80 per cent. 

The State regulation of the metal market resulted 
in a saving of from 15 to 20 million pounds sterling. 

The present output of shells for a single week 
is three times as great as the entire output for 
May, 1915, which means that the rate of production 
is twelve times as great. 

The enormous quantity of shells consumed 
during the offensive of September, 191 5, was made 
good in a month. The time will soon come when a 
week will suffice. 

The output of machine guns is five times as great ; 
that of hand grenades is increased fortyfold. 

The production of heavy artillery has been acceler- 
ated, and the heaviest guns of the early days of 
the war are now among the lightest. 

An explosive factory in the South of England 
which on October 15th, 1915, started to fill bombs 
at the rate of 500 a week with a staff of 60 was in 
March, 1916, turning out 15,000 a week, with a staff 
of 250. 



198 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

An entirely new factory which started work at the 
end of October, 1915, with one filling shed and six 
girl fillers and an output of 270 a week, was, in 
March, 1916, employing 175 girls and handling 
15,000 bombs a week. 

The Ministry of Munitions has built, or is build- 
ing, housing accommodation for 60,000 workers, 
and canteens and mess-rooms in munition works 
now give accommodation for 500,000 workers a 
day. . . 

The number of strikes was reduced to three. 

The number of controlled establishments as on 
the 7th July was 4000. ^ To these must be added 
the Government Arsenals and factories, including 
the new works, the number of which the Depart- 
ment considers it inexpedient to mention. 

These figures speak volumes in themselves. 

Mr. Kellaway, m.p.. Parliamentary Secretary to 
Dr. Addison (ParHamentary Secretary to the 
Ministry of Munitions), stated on July 7th, 1916, 
the following facts : 

" Of the 4000 controlled firms now producing 
munitions, 95 per cent had never produced a gun, 
shell or cartridge before the war. In ten months 
they produced more shells than all the Government 

* On the 20th August, 191 5, it was 539. One merely has to 
compare these figures to realise how vast and effective has been 
the work of the Munitions Department. 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 199 

arsenals and great armament shops existing at the 
outbreak of war ; and that was only a very small 
percentage of the total weekly production of shells 
in the country. Ninety arsenals have been built 
or adapted, and all except a very few are producing 
heavy guns, howitzers, big shells or explosives. 
Our weekly output of -303 cartridges is greater by 
millions than our annual output before the war, 
while the output of guns and howitzers has been 
increased by several hundreds per cent. . . . One 
of our leading armament firms has a factory devoted 
entirely to the provision of a particular gun for the 
French Government " — " Russia has been supplied 
with great quantities of grenades, rifle cartridges, 
guns and explosives. . . /' 

The Munition Workers ■ 

We have already referred to the eagerness with 
which the workers responded to the appeal made 
to them by the Ministry of Munitions. As soon as 
ever the people understood the urgency of the 
situation thousands upon thousands of fresh hands 
— ^both men and women — thronged to offer their 
services at factory and workshop. 

It should be noted that women were among the 
very first to come forward, even before the Munitions 
Act came into force. In one of the largest and 
best-known arsenals in the north, as far back as 
January, 1915, thousands of young girls were at 
work, and 65 per cent of them were quite new to 



200 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

the task. They came to it straight from their 
villages. 

Mr. F. Kellaway gave (on July 7th, 1916) the 
following figures : 

" There were 184,000 women engaged in war 
industries in 1914. To-day there are 660,000. 

" The total number of war workers in 1914 was 
1,986,000 ; now it is 3,500,000. 

" Women are engaged on 471 different munition 
processes, including 19 operations in connection 
with aeroplane production, the manufacture of 
howitzer bombs, the making of shrapnel bullets, 
filling bombs with smoke, explosives, gas, and 
other lethal contents ; 31 processes in the production 
of machine tools ; 6 processes in connection with 
marine mines ; and 31 processes in shipbuilding. 
Two-thirds of these operations had never been 
done b}^ a woman previous to twelve months 
ago. 

Be it noted that 77,000 women have taken the 
men's places in the metal trade and industry ; 
14,000 in the leather industry, and 274,000 in 
miscellaneous trades. 

In addition to these regular workers there are 
now whole relief brigades consisting of women of 
first-rate education, who have no need to earn 
their own living but who have merely learned 
munition work for the sake of relieving the regular 
hands when the latter have their weekly day off. 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 201 

One may see them training at Lesney House in 
order to serve as relief shifts at Vickers' works. 
That is only one out of hundreds of cases that 
might be cited. In some places, even before the 
Government factories were erected, people were 
" getting their hand in " so as to be able to start 
work as soon as possible. 

What is true of munitions is also true of the 
manufacture of equipment generally. The work 
was carried on day and night, and female labour 
was employed on an extensive scale. Nightly, 
crowds of women are at work on the manufacture 
of fuses, bombs, cartridges ; cutting leather, making 
equipment of every description from saddles to 
respirators, from rivets for ships to tents for soldiers. 

I have seen in one building alone 3000 women 
busy making tents. Their ages varied from 18 to 
55. Tent-making is a hard, difficult, and weari- 
some business, and these women had for the most 
part been accustomed to work of a totally different 
order. They were dressmakers, bookbinders, shop 
assistants, or domestic servants. None of them 
had previously been engaged on night work, night 
work for women being illegal in England. A great 
number of men also took up tent-making, working 
at sewing machines alongside the women, and 
receiving their orders from the most capable of 
them. The men belonged to a wholly different 



202 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

class. They were people who followed a totally 
different occupation, who, after they had got 
through their day's work, compelled themselves 
to undertake half a night of manual labour in a 
tent factory. Included in theii number were doctors, 
barristers, clerks, and journalists, each proud to 
contribute his quota to the great national effort. 

On Sundays 2000 men of this class took over the 
work of the regular employees so that the latter 
might enjoy their weekly rest. Every week sees an 
increase in the number of these volunteers, although 
their only incentive is the satisfaction they derive 
from having cheerfully done their duty to their 
country — for it cannot be denied that tent-making 
is a monotonous task and one generally considered 
imworthy of a man. 

The tangible results of this rivalry of effort have 
been immense. At present the all-important ques- 
tion of munitions and equipment has been solved 
so far as Great Britain is concerned. The extension 
of the British front proves not merely that the 
British are numerically in a position to take 
an increased share of the burden, but that they 
have sufficient reserves of ammunition to await an 
enemy attack, or to take the offensive themselves, 
with equanimity, unbeset by any of the anxieties 
that troubled them at Neuve Chapelle. 

Looking at the moral aspect of the thing, the 



THE MILITARY EFFORT 203 

manner in which the English people, so strongly 
individualistic in their ideas, so stoutly opposed to 
State interference, came to recognise the necessity 
of submitting to a discipline as strict as that intro- 
duced by the Munitions Act, is a fresh proof that 
the gravity of the present crisis and the loftiness 
of their duty are alike appreciated by them. 

Conclusion 

This immense effort is bound to result, not merely 
in the British Army*s having everything it requires 
and in its being enabled to carry on the campaign 
with effect : it enables a similar service to be 
rendered to the AlHes, whose industrial centres are 
in the hands of the enemy. 

" We know," said Mr. Lloyd George, " that the 
AUies are awaiting an effort on our part which seems 
to be almost superhuman. That effort we shall 
make. To-morrow we shall be in a position to 
provide the people who are fighting with us for the 
cause of humanity with all that they need for the 
common task. It should be known that our wealth, 
like our natural resources and the output of our 
factories, is a common patrimony which we shall 
share with our Allies. . . . There is not a sacrifice 
which our people — the whole of our people, from 
the highest to the lowest — is not prepared to make. 
We are, and shall be, sparing in nothing ; we are 
seeking day and night for an|| opportunity of doing 



204 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

more, and there is nothing, nothing in the world, 
we are not determined to attempt. Tell those 
who have been disturbed by the Labour situation, 
of the magnificent sacrifices which have been made 
by our trade unions in renouncing until the end 
of the war their dearest privileges. Tell them 
that our workmen are fully conscious of the vital 
importance of the task which is entrusted to them. 
Tell them that the Government has now under 
its control all the factories capable of producing 
guns, rifles and shells, as well as all the foundries 
and machine-tool factories, and that all this world 
of industry does not produce a single pound of metal 
which is not destined for the needs of the armies. 
A numerous and expert body of labour is con- 
centrated in these immense workshops and I have 
not hesitated to bring back from the front all the 
engineers and other useful workmen. Both in the 
firing line and in the country there is not a single 
person who does not understand our needs, and 
who has not endeavoured to facilitate my task. 
... As long as there remains a single German 
soldier on the soil of France and Belgium, no English- 
man will ever consent to dream of peace. "^ 

* These declarations clearly show the definite and decisive 
character of the plan of action with which Mr. Lloyd George 
undertook the Premiership in December, 191 6. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 

The Other Blood 

THIS happy phrase was recently applied by 
an Italian to the funds required to carry 
on the war. And if we look at what 
England has done from this point of view, we shall 
find that here too she has shown herself generous 
to the point of prodigality. 

No one was surprised at this. Whenever England 
intervenes, people expect to see her spend her money 
freely. She is so rich ! But this very view of 
things is somewhat calculated to detract from the 
real merit of the pecuniary sacrifices she under- 
takes. Some there are who seem to think that, 
for a country possessing such mighty resources, 
it is no excessively meritorious achievement to find 
money for every requirement. 

Must we here once more observe that in England, 
as in other countries, the State, as such, neither 
possesses nor creates wealth, and that the wealth 
it has, and is able to dispose of, is necessarily 
furnished directly or indirectly by the individuals 

205 



2o6 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

composing the State, and that the English tax- 
payer is worthy of no small praise for accepting, 
without a murmur, the heavy charges to which he 
is now put and the still heavier ones in store, in 
order to provide for the country's defence ? More- 
over, the expenditure to which the British Govern- 
ment has agreed is, even for a rich nation, on so 
colossal a scale, that it ought to command respect. 
" The other blood " has flowed in torrents indeed ! 

More than Five Millions a Day 

In a speech delivered before the House of Com- 
mons in September, 1915, Mr. McKenna, the 
Chancellor of the Exchequer, when submitting the 
new taxes for the approval of the House, stated 
a few facts regarding the cost of the war. The 
daily expenditure he put down as about four million 
pounds, while in the fourth war Budget (April, 
1916) it had reached five millions, a truly fabulous 
figure, and, when we consider it in relation to the 
length of time the war has been going on, we are 
enabled to realise, without any other evidence, 
how immense is the financial burden that England 
has taken on her shoulders. We must quote in 
full the opening part of the speech referred to. 
It is a model of lucid and accurate expression. 
We must quote it not merely in order to give people 
food for thought regarding the enormous financial 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 207 

outlay entailed by the war, but also to show how 
imperturbably England regards expenditure on a 
scale so immeasurably in excess of any ordinary 
estimate as to become almost fantastic and beyond 
our comprehension. 

Official Figures 
The following is Mr. McKenna's speech : 

" The Budget which I am about to propose is 
the third since the outbreak of war. The first was 
introduced by my predecessor last November, 
when he proposed new taxation, which it is now 
estimated will bring in a revenue of sixty-eight 
and a half millions sterling in a full year. Last 
May my right hon. friend the Minister of Munitions 
proposed another Budget, but he did not then 
include any new taxes, although he warned the 
country and the House that at a later period in 
the year another Budget would be necessary. It 
has fallen to my lot to introduce a third Budget, 
in which I must ask the House to assent to additional 
and unprecedented burdens, which, great as they 
are, I feel confident if the taxes are approved, will 
be accepted by the country. Before I come to the 
subject of the new taxes, the Committee will wish 
to know how we stand with regard to revenue 
and expenditure. A prefiminary consideration is 
essential. The Committee will understand that the 
difiiculty of estimating in a time of war is over- 
whelming. New military requirements, a change 
in the method of carrying on the war, entail addi- 



208 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

tional expenditure far beyond what would have 
been anticipated. Estimates which are framed in 
one month fairly and accurately in accordance 
with the knowledge of the time may prove to be 
hopelessly inaccurate in the succeeding month. 
Subject to this caution, I will give to the Committee 
such estimates as I can. In 1913-14, that is to 
say, in the last year of peace, the revenue and 
expenditure nearly balanced at about £198,000,000. 
" In 1914-15, the first year of the war, our revenue, 
including the new taxation proposed by my right 
hon. friend, rose to £227,000,000 (I am giving 
round figures), and our expenditure to £561,000,000. 
The dej&cit for the year was, accordingly 
£334>ooo,ooo. The estimate of revenue made 
last May for the current year was £267,000,000, 
and on the hypothesis that the war would last at 
least until the 31st of March next the estimate of 
expenditure was £1,133,000,000. With later ex- 
perience these estimates have now to be revised. 
On the existing basis of taxation the revenue may 
be put at £272,000,000, an increase of £5,000,000, 
and the expenditure is now estimated at 
£1,590,000,000, or an increase of £457,000,000. 
Great as is this total, I am sure that the country 
is prepared to face it with courage and with con- 
fidence, and to meet resolutely every demand 
which the continuation of the war may entail. 
To enable us to cope with our colossal task every 
section of the nation must be called upon to con- 
tribute and to make great sacrifices. It is obvious 
that by taxation alone a small part only of the 
deficit could be met. On a previous occasion it 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 209 

was my duty to submit to the House proposals 
for raising a loan, and hon. gentlemen will remember 
how magnificently the country responded. On some 
future occasion I shall have to borrow again. Now 
I have to lay before the House proposals for taxa- 
tion which, however little they may do in the way 
of meeting the deficit, must be upon a scale never 
before imposed. I do so in the firm assurance 
that both the House and the country will be pre- 
pared to support the Government in carrying 
through whatever measures of taxation are deemed 
to be necessary both now and in the future for 
the successful prosecution of the war. 

The Dead-weight Debt 

" I have given the total expenditure of this year 
at £1,590,000,000, and on this basis we may estimate 
the dead-weight debt at the close of this year at 
£2,200,000,000. Our accumulated wealth is great, 
and a National Debt even of this magnitude will 
by no means cripple our resources. But with regard 
to our expenditure, there is a consideration which 
should be borne in mind. We must not overlook 
the strain which that expenditure imposes upon 
our sources of supply. The expenditure of 
£1,590,000,000 within the year means that goods 
and services to that value have to he found for our 
own support and for the support of those whom we 
are assisting. So far as goods and services can be 
obtained by us by loan from neutral States, or as 
the price of securities sold abroad, there is an immediate 
relief to the burden cast upon our own powers of 



210 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

production. But subject to this relief the whole of 
the burden to provide the balance of the goods and 
services falls upon the shoulders of the country. When 
our expenditure is reaching such gigantic propor- 
tions, and while it is still rising, I am sure that 
the Committee will not think it out of place for 
me to call attention to the real burden which it 
imposes upon our powers of production. Four 
and a half months ago, in a forcible passage in 
his Budget speech, my predecessor described the 
triple task which this country had assumed in the 
war — to keep the command of the seas, to main- 
tain an army, to assist our Allies by furnishing 
them with supplies, and by aiding them in financing 
their purchases in countries other than their own. 
My predecessor pointed out the interdependence of 
these military efforts, and their mutual limitations. 
When he spoke he had in mind a Navy which 
during the current year was to cost £146,000,000, 
an Army which was to cost £600,000,000, and ex- 
ternal advances to the amount of £200,000,000. We 
have now to contemplate a Navy costing£i90,ooo,ooo, 
an Army costing £715,000,000, and external ad- 
vances to the amount of £423,000,000. Grave as 
was the warning of my right hon. friend last May 
his words have a far weightier significance to-day. 
I make no apology for dwelling upon our expendi- 
ture. It is a subject upon which hon. members 
when they are asked to vote taxation ought to have 
all the information which is in my possession. 
When the Prime Minister introduced the Vote of 
Credit last Wednesday he gave £3,500,000 as the 
current daily rate of net expenditure from that 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 211 

Vote. As the Committee know, we have to meet 
expenditure from votes other than the Vote of 
Credit, and we have to form an estimate of expendi- 
ture over a longer period than the Prime Minister 
could take into view in moving his particular motion 
My survey extends to the end of the financial year, 
and it includes our expenditure on all services. 
Taking the whole period until March 31st the best 
estimate which can be formed of the total daily rate 
of expenditure on all services from now onwards is 
upwards of £4,500,000, and in the later weeks of the 
financial year it may have risen to more than 
£5,000,000 a day. The Committee will realise what 
this rising scale of expenditure must mean in the 
ensuing financial year. I will complete to the 
Committee the details of the expenditure in the 
current year. In addition to the main heads to 
which I have already referred, the Navy, the 
Army, and external advances, there is a charge of 
£36,000,000 for pre and post moratorium hills, etc., 
arising out of certain arrangements made in the 
City at the outbreak of war, and £170,000,000 for 
our ordinary national services, excluding the Army 
and Navy but including charges for debt. Food 
supplies and some minor items, together with allow- 
ances for contingencies, make up the total to 
£1,590,000,000. A total of this kind has, of course, 
never before been reached, but I go further and 
venture to say that there is no record of a nation 
having voluntarily accepted liabilities bearing so 
high a proportion to the total national income for 
which provision has to he made within a single year. 
Such is the account I have to give to the Com- 



212 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

mittee of the expenditure, past and future, during 
the present year." 

Resources and Precedents 

How was such colossal expenditure to be met ? 
In a speech delivered on the 17th November, 1914, 
Mr. Lloyd George, who preceded Mr. McKenna 
at the Exchequer, already indicated the line that 
British Political Finance would take when he quoted 
certain interesting precedents showing how easily 
British finance had borne the charges of previous 
wars. 

" It is," he said, " far and away the largest sum 
that Great Britain has ever had to meet in the 
course of a single year. No war has been as costly. 
The cost of no war has even approximated to the 
cost of the present war. The largest amount spent 
by Great Britain on war in a single year before the 
present war was £71,000,000. The Revolutionary 
and Napoleonic Wars cost in the aggregate 
£831,000,000 ; that war was spread over twenty 
years. The Crimean War cost £67,500,000 ; that 
was spread over three financial years. The Boer 
War cost £211,000,000 ; that was spread over 
foiir financial years. The first full year of this War 
will cost at least £450,000,000. We are continually 
increasing the number of men, and therefore the 
rate of expenditure increases. 

" It is obviously out of the question to raise the 
whole of this sum of money by taxation. The first 
question I should like to ask the Committee to 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 213 

consider is this : Is it worth while raising any, 
and, if so, what proportion by means of taxes ? If 
we do not tax and tax heavily, it will be a serious 
departure for the first time from the honoured 
traditions set and hitherto maintained by this 
country in every single war in which it has ever 
been engaged. Let us examine one or two of the 
precedents. The first great precedent to which I 
shall call the attention of the House is the precedent 
of the French wars at the end of the eighteenth 
and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. 
The total cost of those wars, as I have already 
stated to the Committee, was £831,000,000. The 
amount raised by loans came to £440,000,000. 
The amount raised by Pitt and his successors out 
of taxes came to £391,000,000. The next precedent 
is the precedent of the Crimean War. The total 
cost of that war was £67,500,000. Of that, 
£32,000,000 was found by means of loans, and 
£35,500,000 was raised by means of special taxes 
during the war." 

Taxes 

Germany did not increase her taxes. She issued 
heavy loans which had no other guarantee save 
her hope of being able to compel the Allies to defray 
the cost of the war. 

The British Government, however, called on 
the people, immediately and without hesitation, 
to furnish a largely increased amount to the national 
exchequer — a circumstance which not merely affords 



214 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

a proof of the country's patriotism, but lends firm- 
ness and stability to the national credit. 

In round figures the British national revenue 
from taxation prior to the war may be taken as 
£200,000,000 per annum. These taxes were doubled. 
First, in November, 1914, they were increased by 
£100,000,000. It was anticipated that a similar 
sum would accrue from the fresh taxes introduced 
by Mr. McKenna in 1915. 

Let us now quote the words employed by Mr. 
McKenna when he presented the details of his 
scheme to the House, and pay our tribute of admira- 
tion to the prudence and sense of fairness by which 
his plan was inspired. 

Most conspicuous in his scheme was the increase 
in the Income Tax. The proposal was to raise the 
existing rate by 40 per cent, and to fix the taxable 
limit at £130 instead of £160. 

"The addition of 40 per cent to the income 
tax with 20 per cent for the remainder of this 
year, after an allowance for relief which I have 
just described, is estimated to bring in £11,274,000, 
and in a full effective year £37,400,000. The 
reduction of the exemption limit to £130 is 
estimated to bring in in a full effective year 
£939,000. The reduction of the abatement from 
£160 to £120, with the consequential changes, is 
estimated to produce £3,821,000 in a full year, 
and the increased liability under Schedule B 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 215 

is estimated to bring in £2,240,000. The total 
effect of these charges in 1915-16 will be to increase 
the revenue by £11,274,000, and in a full effective 
year by £44,400,000." 

The next proposal was to revise the super-tax: 

" Henceforth the charge will be 2s. lod. between 
£8,000 and £9,000, 3s. 2d. between £9,000 and 
£10,000, and 3s. 6d. on the surplus of all incomes 
above £10,000. The effect of this revision of the 
scale will be to produce £2,150,000 this year, and 
£2,685,000 in a full effective year/' 

Yet another source of revenue was henceforth 
to be at the Government's command, namely, 
the tax on what Mr. McKenna calls " excess profits " : 
that is to say, on profits resulting directly from the 
war. 

Since the war broke out, a rather singular idea 
has obtained possession of the mind of the English 
working-man, namely, the " War Bonus " idea. 
Its corollary is to be found in the " War Profit " 
of the manufacturer. In England, where " business 
is business," a war profit is looked on as a legitimate 
compensation for the abnormal pressure under 
which work has to be carried on. The whole idea 
is a strange one and not over-patriotic, but it 
throws a valuable light on certain aspects of the 
individuaUstic and practical character of the English 
people. 



ai6 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

If we allow that a " war profit " is a legitimate 
thing, there could certainly be no objection to 
putting a tax on it. Plainly, people who derive 
additional income from the war should be com- 
pelled to contribute a share to the cost of carrying 
it on. This new tax, then, met with general approval. 
This is how Mr. McKenna describes it : 

" I come now to my next source of additional 
revenue, which I hope to obtain from what I will 
call the Excess Profits Tax. It is proposed to intro- 
duce a special tax in respect of profits which have 
increased during the war period. The tax is to 
extend to all trades, manufactures, concerns in 
the nature of trade, and businesses, including 
agencies whose profits for any business year of 
account ending on any date between ist of Septem- 
ber, 1914, and 1st of July, 1915, exceeded the profits 
on the income tax assessment for 1914 by more 
than £100. It is proposed that £50 per cent of the 
surplus above £100 shall be taken as the special 
tax." 

What amount are these taxes expected to yield ? 
That Mr. McKenna tells us when, in the course 
of his speech, he enumerates the chief additional 
sources of revenue. 

Mr. McKenna then proceeds to examine accessory 
taxes. The first of these is the tax on sugar : " We 
have now a duty on sugar amounting to is. lod. 
a cwt. I propose to increase the duty to 9s. 4d. 
a cwt." 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 217 

The increased tax on sugar is expected to bring 
ii^ £5,360,000 this year, and £11,700,000 in the 
course of a whole financial year. 

Next come the taxes on tea, tobacco, chicory, 
and dried fruits : " The financial effect of these 
changes will be to increase the revenue in a full 
year from tea by £4,500,000, from tobacco by 
£5,100,000, from cocoa, coffee, and chicory by 
£290,000, and from dried fruits by £180,000." 

Then the duty on motor spirits : "On motor 
spirits I propose an increase of duty of 3d. a gallon, 
thereby raising the existing rates of 3d. and ijd. 
to 6d. and 4jd. a gallon respectively. The proceeds 
of the tax will, for the time being, be retained in 
the Exchequer and not paid out to the Road Im- 
provement Fund. The yield this year is estimated 
^t £550,000, and in a full year at £1,100,000. The 
figures I have given relate to the additional tax, 
but I hope that the whole of the tax will be retained 
in the Exchequer during the war. Then I propose 
to double the patent medicine duty, with an addi- 
tion to the revenue in a full year of £250,000." 

Then certain imported goods are made liable to 
duty, namely, motor-cars, bicycles, cinema films, 
clocks, watches, musical instruments, plate glass, 
hats : 

" On each of these I propose an ad valorem duty 
of 33 1 per cent or its equivalent in the form of a 
specific tax, that is to say, on weight instead of 



2i8 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

price, and I anticipate a total revenue from the 
duty on these articles in a full year of £1,950,000, 
of which motor-cars account for £1,150,000 and 
cinema films for £400,000." 

Another source of revenue was the following : 

" Some important changes in postal, telegraph, 
and telephone rates are proposed, which are esti- 
mated to lead to an increase of revenue in a full 
year of £4,975,000." 

Below is Mr. McKenna's balance-sheet for the 
current year : 

" I have now come to the end of the proposals 
and to make up my final balance-sheet of estimated 
revenue and expenditure for the current year. On 
the existing basis of taxation the revenue amounts 
to £272,110,000. New taxation amounts in the 
present year to £30,924,000 ; revenue from postal 
charges £1,980,000, making a total of £305,014,000, 
or in round figures, £305,000,000. The estimated 
expenditure is £1,590,000,000, and the deficit for 
the year is accordingly £1,285,000,000. This is the 
balance for the current year. Last year the realised 
deficit was £334,000,000, giving an estimated com- 
bined deficit for the two years of £1,619,000,000. 
In arriving at the total of anticipated national 
indebtedness up to next March we must add to the 
figure I have just given the amount of pre-war 
debts, with an allowance for the effects of conver- 
sion and for loss on stock issued at discount. 

" These calculations, for which full data are not 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 219 

yet available, lead me to the estimate which I 
have already given of £2,200,000,000 as the total 
of our dead-weight debt at the close of the financial 
year. We shall, then, face the new financial year 
with a dead-weight debt of £2,200,000,000 and an 
estimated revenue of £387,000,000. We shall treble 
our debt and double our taxes. A heavy liability 
and an immense charge. We have sought in these 
proposals to make a due allocation of the burden 
between the present and the future, and in devising 
new taxation to have careful regard to the dis- 
tribution of the taxes according to ability to pay." 

The fourth War Budget was introduced by Mr. 
McKenna in April, 1916. It included new taxes 
on amusements, matches, table-waters and an 
increase in the existing taxes on income, petrol, 
cocoa, coffee, chicory, sugar, and excess profits. 

The revenue for the financial year 1 916-17 was 
estimated at £509,000,000 of which the war profits 
tax was expected to yield £86,000,000 and other 
taxes £423,000,000. 

Expenditure for 1916-17 was estimated at 
£1,825,000,000, viz. £5,000,000 a day. There would 
thus be a deficit for the year in question of about 
£1,323,000,000. 

" We are fighting," said Mr. McKenna in con- 
clusion, *' not only with our incomparable Navy 
and our heroic Army, but with the whole financial 
and productive power of our people, which is being 
thrown into the struggle on behalf of ourselves 



220 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

and our Allies. . . . The ability and willingness of 
our people to bear the burden of taxation have 
established our national credit on an unshakable 
foundation." 

War Loans 

It is hardly necessary to remark that the new 
taxes, large — nay, unprecedented — as they were, 
could only meet a portion of the extraordinary 
expenses occasioned by the war. 

Over and above the Treasury Bonds, issued to 
meet current expenses. Bonds which total to-day 
£200,000,000, with varying rates of interest but 
averaging about 4 J per cent, England has issued 
three War Loans : one in America conjointly with 
France, the other two at home. 

England's share in the American Loan of Septem- 
ber, 1915, was £50,000,000 ; the interest was 5 
per cent. It was underwritten at 96 per cent and 
issued to the public at 98 per cent. 

The first loan in England was contracted in Decem- 
ber, 1914, and was for £350,000,000. The rate of 
interest was 3I per cent and the issue price 95 
per cent. 

It was this loan to which Mr. Lloyd George 
alluded in his speech of the 27th November, quoted 
in Through Terror to Triumph, under the heading 
" The Bases of British Credit," when he said : 
" We are about to contract the biggest loan ever 
known in the history of the world." 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 221 

It fell to England to surpass her own effort before 
the year was out. A loan for an unlimited amount 
was raised in July, 1915. It was offered direct 
to the public, and reached the astounding total of 
£600,000,000. Interest was at 4I per cent and it 
was issued at par. 

If any decisive proof was wanted of England's 
unique financial position, none could be more 
cogent, more irrefragable than those figures. The 
result is all the more remarkable when we remember 
that it was achieved by perfectly open and legitimate 
methods. 

No pressure was brought to bear on banks, or 
holders of Stock. The public were appealed to 
fearlessly and straightforwardly, and the method 
employed to enlist their interest was similar to that 
used in the recruiting campaign. Countless posters 
were affixed to walls and hoardings, which, though 
often open to criticism from the purely artistic 
point of view, displayed a power of suggestion which 
argued a very thorough knowledge of the national 
psychology. 

On one of these posters Mr. Lloyd George was 
depicted with a smiling face. The motif of the 
picture was his " silver bullet " speech on the 8th 
September, 1914. From a hand full of silver coins, 
some are falling and turning into rifle bullets as 
they fall. 



222 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

This appeal of the hoardings was particularly 
directed to the small investor. In fact, in order to 
popularise the loan, subscriptions were invited for 
sums varying from £5 to 5s., payable in any post 
office. One poster represented a heavy-looking Teuton 
soldier, stifled beneath the weight of silver, while 
underneath were the words : " Lend us five shillings 
to crush the Germans." Another showed a large 
key — the key of victory, with three teeth, " Men, 
Money, and Munitions," and underneath : " Send 
us your five-shilling piece, and help us to turn 
this key." Next there was a picture of a cleric 
looking at a body of soldiers off to the front : ** Lend 
a hand, like them, in the country's defence. Give 
your money, they are giving their lives." 

Ingenious and striking as they were, these 
advertisements left everyone to do as he chose, 
only appealing to his sense of duty and patriotism. 
We have already seen how magnificently the people 
responded. The results achieved are shown in the 
following statistical record : 

The Effort of the Small Investor 

(a) Post Office Exchequer Bonds. — Total applica- 
tions to May 13th, 1916, £609,000 ; total amount, 
£20,000,000. 

(b) War Saving Certificates (15s. 6d. each). — Cash 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 223 

value of War Savings Certificates up to May 13th, 
1916, £3,008,082. 

War Investments and Thrift 

(Mr. J. A. Pease's speech in the House of Commons 
July 3rd, 1916, on the Post Office Vote.) 

" Through the medium of the Post Office nearly 
£31,000,000 had been invested by what might be 
regarded as the Savings Bank Public in the 4J 
per cent War Loan between the end of June and 
the middle of July, 1915. . . . From the sale of 
5 per cent Exchequer Bonds between January loth 
and May 31st, the Post Office received £22,000,000, 
and War Savings Certificates, . . . purchased up to 
June 30th, 1916, represented £5,600,000, making 
a total of £64,000,000 of War investments during 
the year. 

"Although £18,000,000 was withdrawn from the 
Post Office Savings Bank for investment in the 
4| per cent War Loan, there had been subsequently 
a steady increase in Post Office Savings Bank 
Deposits, and at the end of May the balance was 
£187,500,000, which was within £1,000,000 of the 
highest balance of recent times." 

Exchequer Bonds 

In the year 1914-15, £47,700,000 3 per cent 
Exchequer Bonds were sold. 

In the year 1915-16 : (i) £242,000 3 per cent 
Exchequer Bonds ; and (2) £153,689,000 5 per 
cent Exchequer Bonds were sold. 



224 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

By 31st March, 1916, the total amount raised by 
the sale of Exchequer Bonds since the war was 
£201,631,000. 

Towards the end of 19 15 a fresh loan was floated 
in America. The object was not so much to obtain 
funds as to steady the exchange and to provide 
the dollars of which England stood in need for her 
transactions with the United States. 

This loan was a complete success. It is interest- 
ing to recall in this connexion that the rate of the 
pound sterling has hardly fluctuated at all, whereas 
the mark has been dropping steadily in all neutral 
countries. 

Finally, on the i8th December, 1915, the Bank 
of England, and on the 31st of that month all 
the post offices in the Kingdom, had on sale 5 per 
cent Exchequer Bonds, redeemable on the 20th 
December, 1920. They were issued in values of 
£50, £20, and £5, so as to be within reach of the 
small investor. 

Not the whole of the Tale 

After being bled to this extent, a less opulent 
body would have been on the point of succumbing. 
But England is not at the end of her resources. If 
you express astonishment to her prominent men 
at the vastness of her financial undertakings they 
will answer imperturbably, " We are not at the 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 225 

end of our tether. If fresh taxes and fresh loans 
are wanted, fresh taxes we will have ! " 

The Moratorium 

Reference has sometimes been made in pro- 
German publications to the establishment of the 
moratorium and the prohibition of the export of 
gold, as tending to show that all was not well with 
English Finance. 

But England did not forbid the export of gold ; 
while the moratorium was merely a precautionary 
measure intended to prevent chaos and confusion 
in the business world. Its adoption was optional 
and the public did not avail themselves of it. It 
was consequently dropped. 

Moreover, Mr. Davies in his work British and 
German Finance, has clearly shown that the measure 
in question chiefly benefited the neutrals. 

" London being the financial centre of the world 
and the free market of the globe for gold, gives 
enormous credits to bankers, merchants, and all 
classes of traders in all parts of the world. When a 
merchant in Scandinavia, Holland, or even in Ger- 
many, Austria, or elsewhere, buys goods, produce, 
etc., in America, India, China, Australia, or other 
part of the globe, he obtains a credit either direct 
or through a banker in his own country from a 
London banker, and instructs the seller from 
whom he buys to draw on the London banker, at 



226 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

two, three, four, or six months ; in many cases 
these credits are confirmed by the accepting banker. 
The exporter in America, India, or other part 
then sends the goods to Scandinavia or Holland or 
other country, as the case may be, and attaches to 
the documents covering the shipment a bill drawn 
at two, three, four, or six months. This bill can be 
discounted immediately in the city where the 
exporter resides. The negotiating banker sends 
the bill to London for acceptance, together with 
the documents, and the banker in London then 
accepts the bill, takes possession of the documents, 
which he forwards to the merchant or banker in 
Scandinavia or Holland, who is thus enabled to 
obtain possession of the goods when the ship 
arrives and has two, three, four, or six months to 
realise the value of the cargo before it is necessary 
for him to buy exchange on London to reimburse 
the banker who has to meet the acceptance given 
on his behalf at maturity. 

*' When the war broke out, so many bankers, 
merchants, and corporations abroad wanted to 
buy Sterling in their different markets to pay for 
such bills and /or to provide for coupons maturing 
on loans raised in London, etc., that the demand 
for Sterling transfer was unprecedented. All 
neutral countries know how difficult it was to buy 
Sterling ; the sovereign appreciated daily in value 
until, in some cases, the pound Sterling was worth 
in foreign currency more than 27 shillings. To 
explain this clearly, the following examples will 
suffice. The normal rate of exchange between 
New York and London is about 4 dollars 86| cents 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 227 

per pound Sterling, so that a merchant having to 
remit £100,000 to London in payment of a debt 
would pay 486,500 dollars in New York for this 
sum, but in August last, owing to the demand for 
London transfer, the rate in New York reached 
6 dollars 50 cents per pound Sterling, so that the 
American merchant was forced to pay 650,000 
dollars for £100,000 — a loss to him of 163,500 
dollars, representing more than 25 per cent. The 
same conditions prevailed in all parts of the world 
due to British supremacy in financial matters, and 
the British Government wisely decided to pro- 
claim a moratorium. The effect of this moratorium 
made itself felt in all parts of the world, and it 
immediately relieved the situation. Financial 
houses in this country had accepted for account of 
foreign bankers, merchants, and others large lines of 
bills to finance trade between neutral countries, 
and, as the majority of neutral countries would 
have suffered very severely if Great Britain had 
insisted on these debts being immediately paid, 
the English sovereign having appreciated so con- 
siderably and Sterling exchange being so difficult 
to obtain, it was necessary in the interests of all 
concerned to proclaim a moratorium, and this 
wise step saved neutral countries which were in- 
debted to London enormous sums of money. It 
also enabled the Government of Great Britain 
and bankers here and abroad to study all the 
various difficulties connected with the foreign 
exchange market, and gave time to neutral countries 
either to renew the credits they had obtained from 
England or to make arrangements for purchasing 



228 



BRITAIN IN ARMS 



Sterling exchange at more normal rates, especially 
as Great Britain and her AlUes would naturally 
have to buy large quantities of goods, foodstuffs, 
etc., abroad, which would tend to restore the 
normal rate of the Sterling exchange in those 
countries where the purchases were effected. 

"The following table, showing the rates of ex- 
change current immediately prior to the war and the 
highest and lowest quotations since, will demon- 
strate how the moratorium allowed neutral countries 
to remit Sterling to London at rates which spared 
them the great losses they would certainly have 
incurred had they been obliged or able to remit 
at the outbreak of war : — 





Rate 


Since War. 


Cheques, Telegraphic Transfers, 






MaU Transfers. 








Lowest. 


Highest. 


Paris .... 


i 
25-18 


24-00 


25-54 


Amsterdam 




12-14 


11-70 


12-60 


Switzeriand 




25-18 


24-00 


26-40 


Italy . 




25-30 


24-00 


28-50 


Madrid . 




26-15 


23-85 


26-60 


Lisbon . 




46Jd. 


32j^. 


Sld. 


Petrograd 




96-10 


105 


125 


Scandinavia 




[18-25 


18-30 


19-70 


New York 




4-88i 


4-77^ 


6-50 


Rio Janeiro 90 d/s 




iif^. nom. 


I4tW- 


Valparaiso 90 d/s . 


yd. 


gd. 


Buenos Aires 90 d/s 


|47P- 


46|^. 


A9d. 


Montevideo 90 d/s . 


I51K 


45j^. nom. 


54^. 



It is interesting to note that immediately Ger- 
many declared war against France, her exchange 
went to a discount, in spite of her selling large 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 229 

quantities of securities in neutral markets, whereas 
with Great Britain just the reverse was the case — 
the foreign exchanges went in favour of England, 
the sovereign becoming more valuable abroad, whilst 
the mark depreciated. As, therefore, foreign countries 
were only indebted to Germany, if they were in- 
debted to her at all, to a negligible amount, as was 
and is shown by Germany's exchange, they had 
not to remit large amounts to that country to pay 
for bills accepted on their behalf by German bankers, 
and a moratorium was in no way necessary in 
Germany because German bankers had not accepted 
the bills that finance the trade of the world and 
enable neutral countries to receive raw materials*] 
goods, etc., without previous payment, and thus 
develop their industries and commerce. 

Although a moratorium in its full sense was not 
necessary in Germany, as explained above, that 
country was nevertheless forced to resort to a partial 
moratorium, as appears from the legislation of August 
7th, 1914, which is to the effect that, " Every 
German trader, in respect of debts contracted in 
Germany previously to the 31st July, may obtain 
a respite of three months from legal proceedings ; 
the fact of a time extension for payment will 
permit of the two parties coming to terms as to 
the mode of settlement/' Moreover, the Bundesrat 
has suppressed all legal expenses in connection with 



230 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

the time extensions in question for amounts under 
100 marks. " No debts contracted abroad prior 
to the 31st July, even by bill of exchange, can 
form the object of legal proceedings." Then with 
regard to the German legislation on bankruptcy, 
fresh measures have been taken : " with a view to 
the prevention of failures, the Bundesrat passed on 
the 8th August the decree of supervision of com- 
mercial houses ; to the request for supervision the 
trader must affix a list of his creditors and a state- 
ment as to his means ; supervision is granted pro- 
vided it appear that the trader will be able to meet 
his liabilities after the war." The same law of 
the 8th August suppresses certain clauses of the 
Commercial Code : ordinarily, in the event of a 
company being unable to meet its liabilities, the 
administrators are bound to declare for bank- 
ruptcy proceedings ; this arrangement is suppressed. 
The regulation of the 6th August, 1914, prolongs 
by 30 clear days the delay allowed for protest. 
In all branches of the Imperial Bank advantage 
has been taken of this facility : " In case of occupa- 
tion of the country by the enemy, the respite is 
extended to six days after the re-establishment of 
normal conditions " ; the Bundesrat (regulation of 
the 29th August, 1 9 14) has increased this limit 
from six days to two weeks. 
With regard to rents, in all the large centres a 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 231 

special Board of Arbitration has been formed, 
which can impose on proprietors a reduction of 
their rents or grant to tenants a time limit for 
payment, extending to the end of the war or several 
years after the war. On the other hand, the com- 
munity comes to the aid of the proprietors who 
are unable to meet their mortgages ; by this 
means it is hoped to avoid a fall in the value of 
property. 

Great Britain the Banker of the Allies 

It is not only for carrying out her own share in 
the war, but for the war considered in its full extent, 
that England has shouldered these financial burdens, 
to which additions are continually being made. 

In a speech delivered in the House of Commons 
on the 4th May, 1915, Mr. Lloyd George spoke as 
follows : 

" I think the Allied countries ought to determine 
the part they wish Britain to play in the combina- 
tion, and the best service she can render. What 
service can Britain render to this great combina- 
tion ? She can keep command of the seas for the 
Allies. She has done so, and she will maintain 
complete control to the end. That is the invaluable 
service which she is rendering to the Allies. It is 
essential to the ultimate success of their arms, 
especially in a prolonged war, because the longer 
the war the more the command of the sea counts. 
Supplies come from overseas, there is the freedom 
to choose the point of attack, and there are various 



232 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

other points which I need not labour. What is the 
second service which Britain could render ? She 
could, of course, maintain a great Army, putting 
the whole of her population into it, exactly as the 
Continental Powers have done. What is the third 
service ? The third service which she can render 
is the service which she rendered in the Napoleonic 
war, of bearing the main burden of financing the 
Allied countries in their necessary purchases for 
carrying on the War — purchases outside their own 
country more especially ; and also to help the 
Allies with the manufacture of munitions and equip- 
ments of war." 

In fulfilment of Mr. Lloyd George's promise 
England has already advanced large sums to the 
Allied nations. They total to date more than 
£423,000,000, and measures have been taken for 
additional advances amounting in the aggregate to 
more than £450,000,000. 

Be it noted, inter alia, that the British contribu- 
tion to the French Loan — the Loan of Victory — 
amounted to £24,000,000 sterling. 

Individual Effort 

Hitherto we have only made mention of the 
part played by England as a nation. To this we 
must add the sacrifices voluntarily made by in- 
dividuals who have given their money with un- 
precedented generosity to every cause connected 
with the war. 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 233 

As is well known, England is, par excellence, the 
sphere of private charitable effort. Benevolent 
institutions of the most diverse description exist 
in their thousands and none of them appeal to the 
public in vain. No Englishman with money, be 
it much or be it little, but considers it an imperative 
moral duty to contribute to charitable organisa- 
tions. One never hears of a rich EngHshman 
dying and failing to endow on a munificent scale 
some hospital, university, or charitable institution. 
Many a man does not wait till his life's end to dis- 
charge, with lavish hand, what he considers his 
debt to society. 

The war broke out and brought with it many 
fresh appeals to compassionate hearts. Organisa- 
tions of every description sprang up and multiplied, 
in order to succour folk on whom the scourge had 
descended. All these organisations lived and pros- 
pered, thanks to the ready support they received. 

A few of the totals reached in the last few months 
will serve to show how considerable these organisa- 
tions are. 

National Relief Fund. — By September 15, 1916, 
£5>953>938, of which £3,463,925 had been allocated 
for Distribution for ReHef . 

Other Funds. — * * Times" Red Cross Fund, by Nov. 15, 
1916, £5,082,309. Officers' Families Fund, by June 19, 
1916, £290,654. Indian Soldiers Fund, by June 22, 



234 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

1916, £160,191. Wounded Allies Fund, by June 23, 
1916, (about) £94,000. Polish Relief Victims, by 
June, 1916, £128,000. Serbian Relief Fund, by 
October 17, 1915, over £150,000. 1916, April 3rd : 
King George's gift of £100,000 to the nation, to be 
applied as the Government think fit. 

And this free and unforced generosity, called 
forth by motives of the purest altruism, the most 
genuine patriotism, is yet another manifestation 
redounding to England's credit. 

The Aid to the Belgians 

A Belgian who beheld the pitiable exodus of his 
fellow-countrymen and their arrival in England 
in the October of 1914, must here be permitted to 
devote a brief space to putting on record the grati- 
tude he feels towards the whole nation who afforded 
them refuge. Some two hundred thousand Belgians, 
driven forth from their homes by the abominable 
cruelties perpetrated by the German invaders, 
arrived in London in woeful plight. They had not 
a thing to their name, for they had been unable to 
bring away any of their belongings from their 
ruined dwellings. But in England they all found 
the warmest of welcomes, just as warm as their 
brothers had found in France when forced to flee 
before the Teuton hordes. They were greeted like 
friends and heroes. Shelter, food, clothing, and 



THE FINANCIAL EFFORT 235 

money were given to them and that with a dehcacy 
and affection that were singularly touching. 

A few figures by way of example will suffice to 
give an idea of the manner in which the people of 
England freely gave their assistance to the Belgian 
refugees. The subscription opened by a newspaper, 

the Daily Telegraph, to raise a fund to be placed 
at King Albert's disposal at Christmas, 1914, 
realised £150,000. The fund entitled " British 
gifts for Belgian Soldiers " brought in £17,000. 
The total subscribed to the Belgian Relief Fund, 
the National fund for relief in Belgium, the War 
Refugee Committee, exceeds £2,000,000. And there 
are many other cases which will be set down in 
detail in commemorative works. In addition to 
all these there will be many another kindly deed, 
modest and unobtrusive in character and all the 
more touching because they will remain forever 
unrecorded. 

Since then, the number of refugees in England 
has largely diminished. Some have gone back to 
Belgium, others have gone forth into the world to 
take whatever fortune may have in store for them. 
Of those who remain behind, most have found work 
to do and are now firmly established in business. 
All, come what may, will ever remember with emo- 
tion how the English people opened both their 
purse-strings and their hearts to them in the 
terrible days of their great affliction. 



CHAPTER VIII 
DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITIES 

THIS chapter is but an empty vial, a frame 
without a picture. The reason is that 
diplomatic negotiations, from their very 
nature and tradition, are always carried on in secret. 
The time has not yet come for the story of them to 
be written and anything I could say would merely 
appear a clumsy indiscretion. 

I am nevertheless anxious that the reader should 
not overlook the diplomatic activities which Eng- 
land has unceasingly performed since the beginning 
of the present war. There are triumphs in the realm 
of international diplomacy which though possibly 
less conspicuous are sometimes no less important 
than triumphs won on the battlefield. From these 
England has never stood aloof, and her prominent 
position has enabled her to direct the negotiations 
in such a manner as not only to secure complete 
harmony among the Allies but to influence neutrals 
and pave the way for a favourable solution of out- 
standing questions. 

That these negotiations were occasionally marked 
»36 



DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITIES 237 

by errors and lack of foresight I do not for a moment 
deny, though to magnify and harp on them seems 
to me a very undesirable task. People who have 
no love for England, though they cannot gainsay 
the obvious magnitude of her naval, military, and 
financial effort, take delight m falling foul of her 
diplomacy. Such criticism is necessarily unfair, 
for we lack the documentary evidence on which to 
base a reasoned opinion. Moreover, it can do no 
good since it directs attention to matters for which 
other nations must be held equally responsible with 
England and this tends to impair the harmony 
of the Alhance. We decline, therefore, to devote 
ourselves to such dangerous feats since a false step 
would only bring profit to the enemy. 

There are not a few good people in England who 
regard the secrecy with which diplomatic negotia- 
tions are conducted as a survival of the days when 
the relations between nation and nation depended 
on the personal will of the princes who ruled them. 
Such men hold that a democracy has the right to 
be informed of all arrangements calculated to affect 
the country's future. The EngUsh, with their 
passionate regard for liberty and freedom of speech, 
may be among the first to whom it may be granted 
to discard the system now in force ; and when they 
carry on their negotiations in the full light of day, 
they will inspire more confidence and more respect 



338 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

than ever, for none will then have any grounds left 
for suspicion and everyone will join in paying a 
tribute to the liberal and magnanimous ideas which 
have almost invariably been the mainspring of her 
actions. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 
THE KINGDOM UNITED 

The Political Parties 

WHEN war broke out the Radicals were 
in power. They were pacifists to the 
backbone and we have shown what 
efforts they made to preserve the peace of Europe. 
When they recognised the hopelessness of all their 
attempts, when they saw themselves flouted by 
Germany, who set at nought undertakings which 
she had pledged herself to fulfil in concert with 
Great Britain, they naturally relinquished their 
pacifism and took up the burden of the respon- 
sibilities and sacrifices entailed by the changed 
situation. 

The Conservatives had been beforehand with 
the Radicals in calling for war. The reforms made 
urgent by the present conflict had long since been 
advocated by them. They could not therefore but 
lend the Government their full confidence and sup- 
port. In England, then, as in France, the war 
brought about a union of parties. However, cer- 

239 



240 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

tain instances of a lack of judgment and want of 
foresight entailed a recrudescence of party strife 
and on the 15th June, 19 15, a Coalition Ministry 
was formed in which the Conservatives were repre- 
sented. From this time forth the political union 
was finally sealed. 

The British Socialist Party was less prompt to 
recognise the needs of the situation. At first they 
showed themselves unanimously opposed to inter- 
vention based on any agreements between Eng- 
land and France. Their hostility was due to the 
apprehension that a Russian victory would set a 
seal on Tsardom ; to a certain confidence' they felt 
in the futmre of German Socialism; to Germany 
itself; and to their disinclination to recognise as 
binding any international agreements concerning 
which the people had not been consulted. But 
gradually their opposition faded away. It came 
to be recognised that German despotism threatened 
greater danger to world-democracy than Tsardom. 
It became apparent that the Social Democratic 
Party in Germany was either unable or unwilling 
to free Germany from its imperialism and its im- 
perialists ; and lastly it was not denied that Great 
Britain's participation was not the consequence of 
a secret treaty with France but of a treaty known 
to all the world, the treaty which guaranteed the 
neutrality of Belgium. In September, 1914, the 



UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 241 

Labour Party, or, at all events, a large majority 
of it, decided to support the Government. The 
Labour Party and the English Socialists gave open 
expression to the sentiments by which they were 
animated by taking a direct part in the recruiting 
campaign. Only the Independent Labour Party, 
with Messrs. Keir Hardie, W. C. Anderson, and 
Ramsay Macdonald, maintained its attitude of 
opposition to the war and attempted to launch a 
pacifist campaign, which, however, met with no 
response. They represented in fact only an in- 
significant minority. The sentiments of the vast 
majority of the English Socialists were clearly 
expressed in the manifesto issued in March, 1915, 
by twenty-seven Labour Members of Parliament. 

" We recognise," they said to the Socialists of 
France and Belgium, " that you are defending 
not only your national liberties, but that you are 
fighting for the freedom of Europe as a whole 
against a despotic military domination. We have 
the highest admiration for your courage, and 
our views are shared by the great majority of 
the workers of Great Britain. Hundreds of thou- 
sands of Trade Unionists, filled with indignation 
at Germany's criminal aggression, have voluntarily 
joined the army that has been raised in the United 
Kingdom to go and fight side by side with the 
French and Belgians. We have supported every 
measure calculated to make this army of volunteers 
a great and powerful instrument for the defence 



242 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

of Democracy and Civilisation. And we assure 
you, our comi'ades of France and Belgium, that 
we are vnth you heart and soul in your determina- 
tion to rid France and Belgium of the invader, to 
secure the rehabilitation of the ravaged territories 
and to put an end, once for all, to the menace of 
militarism." 

And on the 3rd September, 1915, Mr. W. Apple- 
ton, secretary of the Trades Union Federation, 
endorsed this declaration in the following terms : 

" The effort which it is necessary to make — and 
I am speaking to you in the name of all the members 
of the Federation — ^that effort we shall make, not 
only on the field of battle, but in the factories, 
the dockyards and the mines, and we shall go on 
making it until victory is ours. Doubtless there 
have been some regrettable differences of opinion 
between employers and men. How could it be 
otherwise in a country so industrialised as our own ? 
But how few in comparison with former years and 
also how short-lived. Indeed they have been so 
quickly settled, thanks to the goodwill shown on 
both sides, that the rate of production was not 
affected. To-day activity prevails everywhere and 
will continue to increase in intensity until the end. 
Everyone realises the importance of the part he 
is playing. Everyone knows he is working for final 
victory, and of this I can speak with certainty, 
everyone will perform here, as in France, his whole 
duty, to make that victory certain." 



UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 243 



The Nationalist Movement in Ireland 

The Irish NationaHst Movement might well 
have proved a source of considerable anxiety. 
Ulster was in a state of ferment and unrest and 
there was talk of Civil War. But no sooner was the 
United Kingdom threatened than these disputes 
died down and disappeared. The outspoken pro- 
nouncements of Mr. Redmond, which may be read 
in two interesting pamphlets entitled Ireland and 
the War and The Irish Nation and the War, were 
followed by a rally to the colours of Irishmen of 
all shades of opinion. Discussions were deferred 
to a later date, it being deemed unworthy to take 
advantage of a time of trouble and danger to force 
the passage of reforms, however legitimate such 
reforms might be in themselves. 

It was only owing to prolonged efforts and to 
the discovery of a few traitors that Germany at 
last succeeded in stirring up revolt in Ireland 
On the 20th and 21st April, 1916, a German vessel 
attempted to land arms and stores in Ireland. The 
attempt failed, the transports were captured, and 
the ringleader of the rebels in Ireland, Sir Roger 
Casement, was arrested. From the 24th April to 
the 4th May, there were riotous scenes in Dublin. 
The disturbances were quelled by the troops under 



244 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

the command of General Maxwell, and calm was 
restored. 

This revolt was only the work of a minority. 
The Irish nation repudiated it, and while the rioting 
was at its height in the streets of their capital, 
Irish soldiers in the field were testifying their 
loyalty by throwing themselves into the very 
forefront of the battle. 

April 2yth, 1916. — The Official communique 
records that the enemy having penetrated part 
of the British trenches south of HuUuch, were 
driven out within half an hour by our Irish 
troops. 

April 2Sth, 1916. — Central News of America 
reports interview with Mr. Redmond, wherein he 
denounces the rising as ** not half as much treason 
to the cause of the Allies as treason to the cause of 
Home Rule." Further, "Is it not an additional 
horror that, on the very day when we hear that 
men of the Dublin Fusiliers have been killed by 
Irishmen in the streets of Dublin, we receive the 
news of how the men of the i6th division, our own 
Irish Brigade, and of the same Dublin Fusiliers, 
have dashed forward, and by their unconquerable 
bravery, retaken the trenches that the Germans 
had won at Hulluch ? . . . The German plot has 
failed. The majority of the people of Ireland retain 
their calmness, fortitude, and unity. They abhor 



UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 245 

this attack on their interests, their rights, their 
hopes, their principles." 

On same date the Premier of Australia wired to 
Mr. Redmond : " Government of S. Australia desires 
to express sympathy with the Irish people in the 
position in which the Sinn Fein outrage has placed 
them. The heroism of the Irish troops, and the 
sacrifices made by the people of Ireland in the 
present war, calls for profound gratitude from all 
loyal Britishers." 

The War of the Classes 

When the war began, class warfare was very 
acute in England. A large number of strikes had 
broken out ; there were more than a hundred in 
progress in August, 1914. Others, such as the 
Midland Railway dispute and the Scottish Miners' 
trouble, were hatching. But when danger threat- 
ened, existing strikes came to an end, and those 
that were considered imminent came to nothing. 
By the end of August ninety strikes had been 
settled, the men having agreed to forgo their claims 
and to return to work on the existing terms. Only 
a very few disputes remained outstanding. But 
in January, 1915, some ten only remained unsettled. 
This is surely a striking proof of the patriotism of 
the British working classes. 

It is true that in the com'se of the months which 



246 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

followed numerous other strikes broke out. They 
created a very unfavourable impression on public 
opinion abroad and the Press was too ready to ascribe 
them to a defective national conscience, a failure 
to recognise the real nature of the interests that 
were at stake in the great war, not only for England, 
but for Europe and for Democracy as a whole. 
This view of the matter is due to an imperfect 
acquaintance with the nature of the problems 
peculiar to England. The People of Great Britain 
thoroughly understood the bearing of the issues 
involved. They know that it is a war for Justice 
and Freedom. But they know also that the special 
conditions and rights which they enjoy have only 
been gained at the cost of stubborn efforts main- 
tained throughout the whole of the nineteenth 
century at least, and they are apprehensive lest 
these hard-won and much-prized advantages should 
be filched from them by the governing classes on 
the pretext of urgent public necessity. Moreover, 
they regarded it as a scandal that, while the cost 
of living was going up at an alarming rate day by 
day, employers of labour were reaping big profits 
without allowing their workpeople a share in them. 
Such considerations it was that gave rise to these 
disputes. Even though they were regrettable in 
themselves, they were assuredly legitimate. Com- 
pulsory arbitration and the limitation of war profits 



UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 247 

provided for in the Munitions Act, so far as con- 
trolled establishments were concerned, had the 
effect of putting an end to a large number of these 
economic disputes. 

These conflicts — and this is a point I wish par- 
ticularly to emphasise — were strictly economic in 
character. The very miners who went on strike 
in South Wales sent a quarter of a milHon of men to 
Kitchener's Army, men who gave up high wages 
in their eagerness to serve their country. Alto- 
gether, British industries, by January, 1915, had 
parted with 17 per cent of their employees to the 
Army, a figure that was doubled in the ensuing 
quarter. One of their leaders, Mr. H. J. Thomas, 
M.P., addressing the railwaymen at Wellingborough, 
said rightly that not only had the workers raised 
" an army unprecedented in size, courage, and 
valour for battle on a foreign shore, but without 
hesitation they responded to the call which was 
made upon them to sacrifice many of their trade 
union rules and conditions that had been built 
up by years of sacrifice. They did that because 
they felt, as I feel, that no sacrifice is too great to 
secure victory in this world war.*' 



. 248 



BRITAIN IN ARMS 



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UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 249 

The Unity of the Empire 

I have in my hands the Continental Times of the 
8th March, 1915. The Continental Times is "a 
Journal for Americans in Europe." It is published 
in Berlin, and circulates to the tune of sixty thou- 
sand copies in America and the neutral countries of 
Europe. Its columns therefore should furnish the 
most authentic revelation concerning Germany's 
aims and desires in the realm of international 
politics. One article in this number I find of 
peculiar interest. It is entitled ** To the Colonies 
of England : Peace with Freedom." A few passages 
merit quotation : 

" Possibly the time has not yet come for an 
hereditary enemy such as Scotland to turn against 

the separate groups of trades. Measured by aggregate duration 
all the groups of trades, except transport group, were less affected 
by disputes than in the previous year, this being most marked 
in the building, engineering, and other metal groups. The high 
figures for the coal-mining industry are entirely due to the 
strikes in South Wales coalfield which began in July and August 
following on the breakdown of negotiations for a new wages 
agreement. In the first of these some 200,000 miners were in- 
volved, and in the second 32,000 ; and the aggregate duration 
for the two disputes amounted to nearly 1,400,000 days, about 
half the respective totals for the year for all trades. About one 
half (110,000) of the total aggregate duration of disputes in the 
engineering trades is accounted for by the strike of nearly 9000 
engineers on the Clyde, which occurred in February and March, 
and arose on a demand for an advance in wages. At the end of 
the year only thirteen disputes involving 3300 workpeople were 
in progress. 

{Board of Trade Labour Gazette for January 191 6, page 6.) 



2SO BRITAIN IN ARMS 

England. But in the case of Canada, there should 
be no hesitation. Is it the duty of Canada to send 
the best of her sons to water with their blood the 
soil of a foreign land ? Let Canada cry ' a plague 
on all the warring houses * of Europe. An alliance 
with the United States would be much more in 
accordance with the lofty character of her institu- 
tions. 

" Australia and New Zealand, gems of the Gracchi 
set in the Pacific, what an unhappy lot will be yours 
when the Mistress of the Seas shall have laid aside 
her trident. Were it not better forthwith to declare 
yourselves free, like Canada, from that ill-starred 
island in the Germanic Ocean ? The capture of the 
Emden sheds a ray of light on the long series of the 
Allies' disasters. That will not be brought up 
against you when you settle the final account with 
a generous adversary." 

Germany's illusions regarding the British Colonies 
are here clearly revealed. The Germans appeared 
to think that the moment danger threatened Eng- 
land, all her children beyond the seas would hasten 
to take arms against her in order to free themselves 
from her yoke. Nor did she spare any pains to 
foment latent insurrections. Her secret propaganda 
in the Transvaal, in Ireland, in India, and in Egypt 
resulted in miserable failure. She had counted on 
the looseness of the bonds which bound the Do- 
minions and the Colonies to Great Britain. And 
here once more she grossly deceived herself. She 



UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 251 

had never understood — she never could under- 
stand — that freedom given to a people is a much 
surer guarantee of loyalty than any system of 
administrative or military control. Now the 
strength of Great Britain resides precisely in this, 
that her control involves no restrictions on the 
freedom of the countries over which it is exercised, 
but rather strengthens and guarantees it. She has 
estabHshed a Pax Britannica throughout the world, 
by which the nations feel themselves exalted rather 
than enslaved. 

Enthusiastic Loyalty 

The attachment of the Dominions and the Colonies 
found expression in the very earliest days of the 
war in a manner that exceeded the most sanguine 
expectations. They showed complete unanimity 
in their devotion to the Mother-Country, and the 
spontaneity of their manifestations of sympathy 
and loyalty furnished an additional proof of the 
salutary effect of the application of liberal principles 
in colonial policy. 

It is the spontaneous nature of the aid rendered 
by the Colonies that should be particularly em- 
phasised. Every contribution by the Dominions 
had to be considered by their respective govern- 
ments and agreed to by the people. There was no 
sending orders from London for this or that levy 
of men or money to be raised in Austraha, New 



252 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

Zealand, South Africa, or Canada. They were free 
countries ; free to regulate their own destiny ; free 
to take part, or to refrain from taking part in the 
European War ; free to limit their share in the 
fighting to the defence of their own frontiers. 
There was no central control binding the action of 
each and all ; there was no identity in their military 
organisation, their legislative measures or their 
method of preparation. But no sooner did danger 
threaten the Mother-Country, than all the Do- 
minions, all the Colonies hastened to offer their 
aid and vied with one another in the magnitude of 
their sacrifices. They were up and ready even 
before war was declared, eager to testify their 
loyalty by shedding their blood for their country. 

The German Press endeavoured to inspire the 
Dominions and Colonies with a mistrust of England, 
hinting that Perfidious Albion, by sending the 
Canadians and Australians to the Dardanelles and 
the Indians to Flanders, was shedding the blood 
of others in order to spare her own. No campaign 
ever produced more meagre results. The whole 
Empire knew that Canadian or Indian blood was 
not, in England's eyes, the " blood of others." It 
was blood freely offered by people belonging to the 
same great family, eager to perform their part in 
the defence of the common heritage. 

To this splendid spirit the Dominion of Canada 



UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 253 

bore glorious witness by word and deed. As soon 
as the threat of war took definite shape political 
dissensions melted away. The different parties 
presented a solid front to the enemy. After con- 
ferring with the leaders of the Liberal Party, Sir 
Wilfred Laurier promised that his party would give 
their whole-hearted support to the Government, 
and to whatever measures they might deem it neces- 
sary to take. With one accord the people, gathering 
together in the streets and public places, demon- 
strated their enthusiasm for England and their 
determination to stand or fall with her. 

Three hours after war was declared Parliament 
decided to raise 20,000 volunteers for the Euro- 
pean front. Before the day was out 100,000 men 
had offered themselves for service. There were 
financiers and big employers of labour who raised 
whole regiments at their own expense. To mitigate 
the effects of the economic crisis brought about in 
England by the war, arrangements were put in 
hand to dispatch enormous gifts of foodstuffs. A 
million sacks of flour each weighing ninety-eight 
pounds were offered by the people of Canada to 
the people of England, a gift which made it possible 
to maintain the price of bread at the normal level 
for a long time to come. 

Then there were all manner of gifts for the Army 
and Navy as well as for France. From the farmers 



254 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

of Ontario came wheat, potatoes, haricots and more 
than 250,000 sacks ol flour ; from Nova Scotia, 
100 tons of coal, from Albert and Prince Edward 
Island, 600,000 bushels of wheat ; from Quebec 
4,000,000 kilogrammes of cheese ; from Saskatche- 
wan, 1500 horses, value 250,000 dollars ; from New 
Brunswick 100,000 bushels of potatoes ; from 
British Columbia, 25,000 tins of salmon, etc. 

The Canadian Red Cross fitted out a field hospital 
and sent £38,000 to the British Red Cross. A hospital 
was founded by the women of Canada. In short, 
everyone gave what he could, to demonstrate his 
loyalty. The fact that when war broke out Canada 
was in the throes of a serious economic and 
financial crisis renders this enthusiasm all the more 
remarkable. 

The first expeditionary force, 33,000 strong, was 
no sooner formed and dispatched to England, in 
order to go into camp and complete their training 
on Salisbury Plain, than the formation of a second 
such body was begun. Once again the enlistment 
figmres exceeded anything that had been deemed 
possible. 

" As long as we are able to enlist a man and send 
a dollar," said Walter Scott, the Premier of Saskat- 
chewan, " we shall continue our effort to bring about 
the tyrant's overthrow." 

Canada made up her mind to achieve even greater 



UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 255 

things in the way of recruiting, and the length of 
the war has in no way abated the enthusiasm of 
her people. On the ist January, 1916, the Canadian 
Prime Minister announced that the fighting forces 
would be increased from 250,000 to 500,000 men. 
By April, 1916, the figures had reached 300,000. 
And by the end of March, 1916, Canada had spent 
£158,000,000 in equipping the men she had raised. 

Canada has assisted the Imperial Credit by raising 
locally a loan of £10,000,000 which has been placed 
to the credit of His Majesty's Government for pur- 
chases in North America. 

By February, 1916, 225,000 workpeople in Canada 
were making munitions. Canada from the first 
placed her naval yards at the disposal of the Ad- 
miralty, and has been turning out military muni- 
tions of all sorts in large quantities. She has 
equipped her own troops throughout at her own 
expense and from her own resources. 

This magnificent spirit, this unity and loyalty, 
are no less evident among the Irish-Americans and 
the French races in Canada — of whom 20,000 have 
joined the Army — than among those of British 
origin. We are a long way indeed from witnessing 
the fulfilment of German hopes. And what is 
calculated to fill their cup of bitterness to over- 
flowing is that even the Canadians of German origin 
ranged themselves unhesitatingly with the rest 



256 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

of their fellow-citizens. The people of Berlin, 
Ontario, proclaimed this far and wide in their 
telegram to Lord Kitchener. In that message they 
declared that Berlin, Ontario, a city of 18,000 in- 
habitants of which 12,000 were of German birth or 
German blood, proposed to vote upwards of £15,000 
sterling in aid of the Canadian National Patriotic 
Fund. They added that the German inhabitants 
looked forward to seeing German militarism over- 
thrown for ever, and the German people free to 
form a better and greater Germany. 

Australia displayed a like spirit. The war was 
immensely popular there from the very outset. 
Party divisions went by the board, and the Labour 
Party was the first to signify its readiness to bear 
any sacrifice that might be necessary. The decision 
to send an expeditionary force of 20,000 men to 
Europe was followed by the opening of recruiting 
hsts, the number of men presenting themselves far 
surpassing the number contemplated. Gifts in 
money and in kind flowed in apace. 

By March, 1916, 150,000 men had been sent 
out to the European and Asiatic battlefields, 
268,000 had enlisted ; 300,000 expected by June. 

The Australian Navy was at the outbreak of war 
at once placed under control of the British Admiralty, 
and the Australian vessels took a prominent share 
in clearing the South Seas of the enemy cruisers. 



UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 257 

Australia has borne the whole cost of the troops 
she has furnished. Under this head she will have 
expended £60,000,000 by the end of June, 1916. 

May 10th, 1916. — £50,000,000 of additional total 
War Loans to be issued. 

Australia gave with lavish hand. Parliament 
voted £100,000 for Belgian relief and contributions 
of this nature from private sources increased day 
by day at a startling rate. Thousands of tons of 
butter were consigned for the British troops, hun- 
dreds of thousands of frozen sheep came from 
New South Wales and more than 20,000 lbs. of 
frozen meat from Queensland. 

In Australia as in Canada the German settlers 
decided to stand by the country of their adoption. 
The German Lutheran congregations at Rella, 
Roseberg and Curzo, of German origin but mostly 
Australian born, unanimously adopted a resolution 
soon after the outbreak of the war : " That we, 
though of German descent, being British subjects 
either by birth or naturalisation, desire publicly to 
express our unswerving loyalty and fideHty to 
His Majesty King George V, and that as citizens 
of the British Empire, enjoying full civil and religious 
freedom, we are prepared, if the necessity arises, 
to sacrifice our property and our lives for the 
welfare of the British Empire." 

New Zealand sent medical appliances, aeroplanes, 
s 



258 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

and large sums of money for the British wounded 
and for Belgium. An expeditionary force was at 
once offered, accepted, and got ready without delay, 
and the Maories insisted on having the khaki 
uniform. 

New Zealand, five years ago, adopted compulsory 
military training of all males between i8 and 25. 

By January 2'^th, 1916, 109,683 men had volun- 
teered to serve in the war. Number of men im- 
mediately available was 61,000. 

By May, 1916, 37,000 were actually in the field. 
New Zealand hopes to have supplied 60,000 men 
by the end of June, 1916. 

In India there was the same emulation, the same 
enthusiasm. No one will read without genuine 
feelings of emotion the noble and touching telegram 
in which the Viceroy of India described how the 
Rajahs and Chiefs of the various states placed their 
treasures and their fealty at the Empire's disposal. 
Men, horses, guns, motors, ambulances, every 
requisite of modern warfare were traversing the 
Indian Ocean for months together, at full speed 
and under the protection of the British Fleet, and 
to-day the Indian troops after covering themselves 
with glory on the battlefields of France have 
recrossed the seas to play their part in other regions 
whither the defence of the Empire has summoned 
them. 



UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 259 

By June, 19 16, India had sent 300,000 men to 
fight the Empire's battles in France, Egypt, China, 
Mesopotamia, E. Africa, GalHpoH, Cameroons, and 
Persia. 

Financial Assistance. — Sir W. Meyer's estimate 
was ;^2,ooo,ooo for year ending March 31st, 1915 ; 
and £47,500,000 for year beginning April ist, 1916. 

The Transvaal gave a very special proof of loyalty 
in offering to undertake the defence of its own 
borders and thus to permit the soldiers of the 
European garrisons to go and fight side by side 
with the French and British troops on the Western 
front. England accepted the offer. Germany 
thought this foolhardy and hoped to incite the Boers 
against the foreign intruder. But despite German 
intrigues, the loyalty of the South African Colonies 
was beyond all praise. The rebellion fomented by 
the agents of Germany gave very little anxiety to 
the British Government. They had confidence in 
the fidelity of the South African forces, and the 
troops of General De Wet and his lieutenants soon 
found themselves compelled to yield to the gallant 
followers of General Botha who, with a tact and 
skill that do him honour, got the better of the 
rebels. The triumph was complete and was crowned 
by the conquest of the powerful German Colony of 
South-West Africa. And to-day we see South 
African brigades ranged along the Suez Canal to 



26o BRITAIN IN ARMS 

defend Egypt from German attacks. Furthermore, 
a contingent, over 10,000 strong, has been sent to 
Europe. 

Military assistance was given by the following : — 

The West Indies East African Protectorates, 
Bermuda Uganda, Nyasaland 

Falkland Islands Malta and Fiji 

Ceylon Nigeria 
The Straits Settlements Gold Coast 

Malay States Newfoundland 
West African Colonies and Protectorates 

The following British Colonies and Protectorates 
have made contributions both in money and in 
kind : — 

Barbados Windward Islands 

Jamaica Leeward Islands 

Cayman Islands Bahamas 

Trinidad Bermuda 

Turks & Caicos Islands British Guinea 
Mauritius 

Subscriptions to Imperial War Loans 

Crown Colonies have invested large sums in War 
Loan and Exchequer Bonds. 

Up to June, 1916, £2,100,000 in 4I per cent War 
Loan ; £758,000 in 5 per cent Exchequer Bonds. 

The account we have given is no doubt brief and 



UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 261 

incomplete. It would take a whole book to state 
in full detail all the evidences of loyalty in the 
various sections of the British Empire in this tragic 
hour of history, when the perils which beset the 
Mother-Country would afford every chance of 
success to insurrections and revolutions. But 
brief as it is, we have said enough to show that 
King George was justified in his confidence in the 
Empire and that the telegram dispatched by him 
at the beginning of the war was founded on a true 
recognition of the psychology of the races that he 
had to deal with. 

" I desire to express to my people of the Oversea 
Dominions with what appreciation and pride I have 
received the messages from their respective Govern- 
ments during the last few days. These spontaneous 
assurances of their fullest support recall to me the 
generous, self-sacrificing help given by them in the 
past to the Mother-Country. I shall be strengthened 
in the discharge of the great responsibility which 
rests upon me by the confident belief that in this 
time of trial my Empire will stand united, calm, 
resolute, trusting in God. — George R.I." 

The force that binds this Empire together, this 
Empire so various, consisting of so many different 
races professing such a variety of religions, is the 
freedom which prevails within it. When England 
arose to defend that freedom against the menace 



262 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

of the worst form of Imperialism, the Dominions 
and Colonies were bound, both by duty and interest, 
to aid her with all the strength at their command. 
And this they rightly understood. 

The Greatest Sacrifice of all 

Of all the countries involved in the war England 
was unquestionably one of the most unprepared. 
This unpreparedness resulted not merely from the 
lack of any really effective military organisation, 
but also and principally from the non-adaptability 
of her laws and customs to the urgent necessities 
of a conflict on the scale of the one that has now 
arisen in Europe. 

The present war is not of the kind that requires 
only a limited popular support, a war from which 
a part of the nation may, if they are so inclined, 
hold themselves aloof. All the forces of the country, 
industrial no less than military, have to be employed 
in supplying the requirements for so great a struggle. 
To employ on so great a scale means so vast and 
resources so imposing, requires a strict centralisa- 
tion, a complete unity and directness of control on 
the part of the executive. 

Not only is it necessaxy in the present circum- 
stances to ensure their fullest contribution to the 
nation's energies ; it is equally requisite to unify 
and consolidate the country from within by taking 



UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 263 

proper measures of precaution against the enemy 
within the gates, such as spies and intriguers whose 
efforts might tend to enfeeble the effort and diminish 
the spirit of the nation. History shows that times 
of trouble and danger cannot be Hved through 
without the sacrifice of some of our acquired rights, 
without submitting to some form of dictatorship, 
which, however odious we might think it in normal 
times, becomes a necessity in times of extraordinary 
national danger. " If you would preserve Liberty," 
said Monsieur Briand, in the French Chamber, 
" you must learn to relinquish some of your liberties." 
And he went on to say, " all individual liberty 
must be suspended, because there is something 
greater, nobler and more glorious than the liberty 
of the individual, namely, the life of the Nation 
and the Freedom of the World. Both are in danger. ' ' 
No country could presume to enter into conflict 
with Prussia, without Prussianising herself to some 
extent. No one could set himself to combat the 
disease without inoculating himself beforehand 
with serum taken from those already afflicted with 
it; a painful necessity to which we only submit 
with the intention of freeing ourselves therefrom at 
the earliest possible moment. 

Now let us look at the position of England in 
August, 1914. She was, of all others, the country 
endowed with the blessing of individual liberty, 



264 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

which she regarded with a jealous and uncom- 
promising veneration. Liberty in her eyes was a 
species of racial instinct, firmly implanted by 
immemorial tradition and stimulated by the strug- 
gles which had led, slowly and surely, to its con- 
summation. The English were more independent 
of State control than any other nation. England, 
though a democracy, was, in her unshakable 
individualism, less imbued with Socialism than 
any other European country. 

The liberty of the individual must be respected. 
Before such things were even thought of in other 
countries, England had beheld the establishment 
of the great principles of trial by jury and habeas 
corpus. To the right to be tried by one's peers, 
England had added, right back in the Middle Ages, 
the right of appeal. These time-honoured pre- 
rogatives England had maintained even in the 
darkest hours of her history. She had never allowed 
that a military tribunal should have the right 
to condemn a citizen to death without a public 
trial or the right of appeal. She had never toler- 
ated the setting up of an extraordinary jurisdiction, 
or of a permanent court martial. 

What she had looked upon as an unchangeable 
principle in regard to the trial of the subject, she 
regarded as essential to the exercise of the normal 
activities of the individual. The Government 



UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 265 

never desired, much less attempted, to interfere in 
private enterprise ; it never entered into their 
heads to wish to control it or to take its place. 
England has never established a monopoly ; never 
stifled individual initiative by State interference. 

From the point of view of Labour, England has 
maintained the same principles of absolute liberty. 
No restriction as regards the right to strike ! No 
Government intervention in the settlement of dis- 
putes between Capital and Labour ! These were 
spheres in which no statesman would have deemed 
himself justified in establishing any system of 
control. 

And that which in the case of the nations of the 
Continent affords the most convincing evidence of 
the ascendancy of the State over the individual, 
namely, military conscription, has always been 
shunned as a thing unworthy of the British people. 
The voluntary system was an article of faith in 
British military policy. Woe betide those who 
should tamper with it. 

It will be perfectly obvious from the foregoing 
that British law and British traditions were whole 
worlds away from what is needed for the success- 
ful conduct of a modern war, namely, the centralisa- 
tion of power and the direct control by the power 
thus centralised, of the lives and activities of the 
individual citizens. 



266 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

More than a year has gone by since England cast 
her ancient sword into the scales of Europe's 
destiny. A year has gone by and if a man had 
lain wrapped in magic slumber, as sometimes happens 
in fairy tales, and all that while had been kept in 
ignorance of events that have shaken the founda- 
tions of the world ; if, I say, such an one were sud- 
denly to awaken he would no longer recognise the 
England that he once knew, and would imagine 
that he had been asleep for a hundred years. 

He would see, nay he would already have seen 
in February last, courts martial established by law 
and endowed with power to condemn to death, 
without public trial and without appeal, the citizens 
of England the Free. He would behold officials 
making their way into factory and workshop to 
schedule particulars of the plant, he would see 
other officials overhauling the books of private 
firms and paying the profits over a certain fixed 
limit into the national Exchequer. He would see 
workmen and employers legally compelled to plead 
their cause before a tribunal empowered to settle 
their quarrels. He would see long-standing trade 
regulations, all the more binding and the more 
valued for never having been committed to writing, 
run to earth by the law and overthrown ; he would 
see whole brigades of workmen marching like 
soldiers at the Government's bidding, to take the 



UNION OF KINGDOM AND EMPIRE 267 

place of others who had gone on strike. He would 
see Government employees drawing up lists of all 
people in the Kingdom capable of answering the 
call, one day, to give their services to their country 
whether in the army or in the workshop. He 
would hear the people of Britain discussing the 
expediency of establishing a system of Compulsory 
Military Service similar to that in force on the 
Continent and then finally accepting the measure 
without a murmur. 

He would see, in short, that the British Govern- 
ment which but a year ago had no control over the 
lives and activities of its citizens is to-day in posses- 
sion of powers of the most formidable and Spartan- 
like character. A consideration well calculated to 
fill the observer with amazement. But it would 
astonish him still more to see that every English- 
man — manufacturer, employee, tradesman, student 
— acquiesced in these radical changes without a 
murmur. This astonishment would be the highest 
praise he could bestow on the people of England, 
for it would prove that, once they recognised the 
great danger which threatened them, they were 
willing to dispense with their most valued pre- 
rogatives, their most cherished rights, in the know- 
ledge that the gravity of the hour demanded that 
they should rehnquish what was dearest to them, 
namely, their liberty. 



268 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

Doubtless they know that this renunciation on 
their part is but temporary. They agree to it 
because it marks a transition and because the 
merely temporary abandonment of their liberty is 
only a means towards making that liberty more 
perfect, more complete — for themselves and for 
others — in the future. All these emergency measures 
will cease to operate when the war is over, and there 
need be no fear that a nation which has taken a 
part in overthrowing the very principles of Prussian 
ImperiaUsm will itself become infected with the 
Prussian virus. 



CHAPTER X 

WHY WE SHOULD HAVE CONFIDENCE IN 
ENGLAND 

England and the Freedom of the Nations 

WE have seen in the preceding pages 
that England, involved in the great 
conflict by the necessity of fulfilling 
her treaty obligations to Belgium, is fighting in 
defence of her own vital interests. We regard 
these necessary defensive operations with respect, 
but it is of peculiar interest to us, who are not 
English, to learn, from our point of view, what 
consequences would result from an English victory 
and accurately to acquaint ourselves with the ideas 
that dominate England's foreign policy. 

From the Belgian point of view there is no room 
for doubt. It is beyond question that England 
will devote all her resources to re-establishing 
Belgian independence and that no British Govern- 
ment would ever consent to bargain or parley on 
this point. 

But the case of Belgium is merely the applica- 
tion, brought out into very strong relief, of a general 
line of conduct based on the principle of respect 

269 



270 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

for the independence and freedom of nations. 
As regards Belgium the principle was formally 
endorsed by a treaty, but towards other countries 
England's attitude, as being prompted by like 
principles, would be just the same. 

England is the home of Freedom. It is her pride 
that she outstripped other nations in the practice 
of civil liberties. For centuries past she has recog- 
nised that liberty primarily consists in giving full 
play to individual differences. To an Englishman 
the Jacobin notion of one perfected type of humanity 
taught to aim at one and the same ideal of happi- 
ness, is absurd. He demands freedom for himself, 
but he fully recognises as a necessary corollary that 
others have an equal right to demand it for them- 
selves, particularly those who do not share his views. 

In view of such ideas as these no one need fear 
that England will become obsessed by that mania 
for world-wide domination which is the distinguish- 
ing attitude of German Imperialism. Not only 
does England renounce all claim to impose her 
views on the various races which compose her 
immense Colonial Empire, she goes farther and 
encourages the free development of the various 
independent nations. She is therefore the natural 
protectress of the smaller states. 

In a speech which he delivered at the Hotel de 
Ville, Paris, in December, 1914, Monsieur Carton 



CONFIDENCE IN ENGLAND 271 

de Wiart, Belgian Minister of Justice, laid admirable 
emphasis on the part that should be played by the 
smaller nations in the general evolution of human 
society. After asserting their right to exist, he 
proceeded to demonstrate their usefulness. Big 
countries had often derived salutary lessons in 
the art of living from the lesser ones who were 
better able to test the practical possibilities of social 
theories. Before this Mr. Lloyd George, speaking 
at the Queen's Hall on the 19th September, 1914, 
had pleaded the cause of the smaller nations with 
that lively and original eloquence which always 
marks his utterances. 

Sir Edward Grey's Declarations 

In his speech at the Bechstein Hall the British 
Minister for Foreign Affairs said : 

"We wish the nations of Europe to be free to 
live their independent lives, working out their own 
forms of government for themselves and their own 
national development, whether they be great 
States or small States, in full liberty. That is our 
ideal. The German ideal ... is that of the 
Germans as a superior people ; to whom all 
things are lawful in the securing of their own 
power ; against whom resistance of every sort 
is unlawful and to be savagely put down ; a 
people establishing a domination over the nations 
of the Continent ; imposing a peace that is not 
to be a liberty for other nations, but subservience 



272 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

to Germany. I would rather perish or leave this 
Continent altogether than live in it under such 
conditions. After this war we and the other nations 
of Europe must be free to live, not menaced by talk 
of supreme war-Lords and shining armour and the 
sword continually rattled in the scabbard and 
Heaven continually invoked as an accomplice to 
German Arms, and not having our policy dictated 
and our national destinies and activity controlled 
by the military caste of Prussia. We claim for our- 
selves, and our Alhes claim for themselves, and 
together we will secure for Europe, the right of 
independent sovereignty for the different nations, 
the right to pursue a national existence, not in the 
shadow of Prussian hegemony and suprem'\cy, but 
in the light of equal liberty.'* 

This point of view is whole-heartedly endorsed 
throughout the length and breadth of England. 
England is fighting not only for her own freedom, 
but also for the freedom of others. In her eyes 
the war has become a war of defence and a war of 
deliverance. 

She does not aim at imposing her supremacy 
upon others ; it is enough that no ambitions shall 
be suffered to disturb the peace or impair the liberty 
of the nations of the world. She is strong enough 
to refuse to bow to the whims or ambitions of 
others ; she is sufficiently independent to be im- 
partial. The oppressed, therefore, may put their 
trust in her and any people which strives, through 



CONFIDENCE IN ENGLAND 273 

trial or suffering, to preserve the consciousness of 
its national unity and to strengthen it, will have 
England on its side and enjoy the benefit of her 
judgment and friendship. I am not merely quoting 
the formal and oft-repeated declaration of the 
leaders of England's foreign policy ; what I have 
said above represents the deep-rooted and inmost 
convictions of the English people as a whole, and 
they hold them so ardently that they would un- 
hesitatingly overthrow any politician so rash as to 
flout them. 

England and Italy 

In the Italian version of this book which cir- 
cumstances led me to publish in Milan before the 
French edition, I added the following : 

" Italy is not one of those little nations which, 
in dark and bodeful days, cast their eyes about 
them for a protector. Nevertheless what we have 
just set forth may serve to convince her how greatly 
the broad tendencies of British foreign policy 
should inspire her with confidence. 

" The principle of nationality which England aims 
at rendering sacrosanct wherever she can make 
her influence prevail is the very principle which 
gives strength and cohesion to the Italy of to-day. 
No other European nation, at its birth ever laid 
down more clearly and explicitly the distinctive 
and essential characteristic of every people, namely, 
the desire to dwell together, and the plebiscites 
which brought the Kingdom of Italy into being 



274 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

gave it a firmness and solidity beyond the ordinary. 
EveryAvhere else frontiers have been fixed by the 
hazard of war and conquest. But in Italy the 
community of race, language, and customs has been 
strengthened and buttressed by the express suffrages 
of the people, and it is in order to set the final 
seal on this union that Italy is taking part in the 
European War. English ideas and Italian ideas 
are, on these points, identical. 

" But more than this : Europe's aims are set on 
the conquest of Africa. She means to throw open 
those immense tracts to civilisation and to subdue 
the lawless tribes. France holds Morocco, Algeria, 
and Tunis. The Italian sphere is Lybia, between 
the French possessions and the British possessions 
in Egypt. In the Mediterranean England holds 
Malta, and, at either extremity, Suez and Gibraltar. 
How then can anyone fail to see that the geo- 
graphical position being what it is, an understand- 
ing between the three colonising powers in Europe 
is inevitable. All three have a common enemy in 
the fanatical and stagnant cult of Islam. Mutual 
aid and co-operation is the condition of progress 
for all three. These truths, which Germany has 
endeavoured to ignore, become daily more evident 
to all." 

After referring to the various causes which tend 
to bind the two nations closely together, the origins 
and manifestations of this union and the hopes 
entertained by the people of Italy that the bonds 
might be drawn yet closer still, I went on to recall 



CONFIDENCE IN ENGLAND 275 

the words employed by Cavour when, in February, 
1855, he was addressing the sub-Alpine Parhament. 
They are strangely applicable to the situation 
to-day. 

*' As for the disasters of the British Army," he 
said, " I do not think that these can be regarded 
as a reason for doubting the ultimate issue of the 
undertaking, for doubting that England can and 
will exert herself to an extent equal or greater than 
her Allies. In all the wars that England has entered 
upon she has failed of success at first ; she has 
always begun them with means inferior to her real 
resources. But disasters and defeats, far from 
destroying her confidence, have never failed to 
urge her forward to new efforts, to fresh sacrifices ; 
and whilst her adversaries, after a few successes, 
feel their courage wane and their strength diminish, 
England gains in vigour and in means of attack 
the longer the war lasts. Thus it was, gentlemen, 
in the great war of the French Revolution, in the 
years 1792 and 1793. The English had met with 
nothing but reverses. Their forces were insignificant 
compared with those of their Allies ; but their 
Allies grew weary ; they, on the contrary, grew 
stronger as they fought on and in 18 14, if I mistake 
not, they came to have 400,000 men in their pay. 

" The same thing has often come to pass in India. 
Almost every enterprise the English embarked 
upon there began badly. Never until after a good 
solid defeat, a serious disaster, did the East India 
Company put adequate means into operation to 



276 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

achieve success. You all recollect the Kabul 
Expedition of 1839, when an entire British Army 
Corps was wiped out. Out of fourteen or fifteen 
thousand men, only a few officers, I fancy, escaped 
with their lives. After this unparalleled catastrophe, 
many people thought they saw ruin overtaking 
British rule in India and considered its last hour 
had struck. This prophecy was not fulfilled. Next 
year the British came back to Kabul with a force 
twice as big, and succeeded. What was the cause 
in the last century in the War of the Revolution, 
what happened in our own time, in Kabul, will, I 
am confident, be repeated in the Crimea. We shall 
find our Allies in the field of battle stronger and 
more mighty than ever before. 

" In all circumstances, whether as minister, 
deputy, or journalist, I have always shown myself 
a partisan of the alliance with England and above 
all an ardent partisan of English ideas. . . . 

" And to-day,'' he went on, " shall we not be 
permitted to counsel you to contract an alliance 
with these two nations ? We should have been 
in a sorry plight if untoward circumstances had 
placed them in opposing camps. But since for the 
first time there has come to pass before our eyes a 
fact that overshadows the whole of modern history, 
the alliance between France and England, our de- 
cision cannot remain in doubt." 

England and France. The Entente Cordiale 

Relations between the two great countries have 
not always been what they are to-day. Loyal 



CONFIDENCE IN ENGLAND 277 

to her policy of maintaining the balance of power, 
England found herself in opposition to France 
under Louis XIV and Napoleon as she had pre- 
viously been opposed to Spain. But these struggles 
left behind them no seeds of inextinguishable hatred, 
and after the conflicts the two adversaries did not 
fail to recognise each other's chivalry and valour. 

The same traditional policy was bound to bring 
England and France together when, at the dawn 
of the twentieth century, Germany made dis- 
quieting additions to her military strength. But 
it was not the affair of a day. I have already 
remarked on the slowness which marks the evolu- 
tion of public opinion in England, the persistent 
illusions entertained for so long regarding Germany's 
pacific intentions. It was not until after Queen 
Victoria's death that it was found possible to in- 
augurate an Anglo-French policy. This was the 
work of King Edward VII and Monsieur Delcasse 
(1904). As it was not deemed expedient to call it 
an alliance, it was happily termed the " Entente 
Cordiale." 

This union of forces — England, France, and Russia 
— formed a counterpoise to the Triple Alliance — Ger- 
many, Austria, and Italy — and realised the balance 
of power, the equilibrium in Europe which was 
ever the principal concern of English statesmen. 

This equilibrium of forces was a guarantee of 



278 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

freedom and peace for Europe and the world. 
Germany saw, or pretended to see, in the Triple 
Entente, a menace to her own security. In point 
of fact there was no menace to anything save her 
pretensions to hegemony. No one dreamt of attack- 
ing her or bringing her into subjection, but everyone 
was alive to the necessity of taking precautionary 
measures against Germany's efforts in the same 
direction. Called into being purely and simply for 
defensive purposes, the aim of the Triple Entente 
was to preserve the peace. Had there been any other 
object in view England would never have become 
a party to it. The facts of which we made mention 
in our first chapter are sufficient to place that 
beyond all doubt. 

Underlying Causes of the Anglo-French Alliance 

England and France, however, are bound together 
by more than a mere diplomatic agreement proceed- 
ing from an identity of interests. Their alliance 
proceeds from deeper and more enduring causes. 
Both possess a ripe civiUsation identical in nature 
one with the other, a common treasure-house of 
social ideals, an equal need of freedom and justice. 

Monsieur Cestre, a professor at Bordeaux Uni- 
versity, has just devoted a whole volume to de- 
monstrating this truth. England and the War 
should be read through from cover to cover. It 



CONFIDENCE IN ENGLAND 279 

contains a collection of " documented " essays 
thoroughly well thought out, which show, far more 
eloquently than mere official compliments, the 
basic necessity for the Anglo-French Entente and 
the capital importance of the part played by it in 
the evolution of civilisation as we understand it. 

Let me be permitted to quote the views of the 
French writer, whose words derive the greater 
significance from the fact that he is a Frenchman. 

" If I have succeeded in the design which prompted 
me to pen this essay, I shall have made it clear 
that from the very beginning of their history the 
English as a nation have possessed a certain moral 
independence which renders the autocratic rule, the 
administrative tyranny, and the mechanical disci- 
pline of the Germans utterly abhorrent to them. 
Theirs has been the exalted idealism which causes 
them to place Liberty in the forefront of all the 
benefits that life has to bestow ; the sense of loyalty 
and the sense of justice which causes them to desire 
the independence and well-being of nations who 
are worthy, by their virtues, of contributing to 
the progress of civilisation, and, by their valour, 
to the establishment of the balance of power to 
Europe. To defend, whether on British soil or 
on the soil of countries menaced by the tide of 
German barbarism, those things of worth that 
men have striven for and won, they rose up, deaf 
to the hucksterers who would have purchased their 
neutrality, and they will strive, heedless of sacri- 



28o BRITAIN IN ARMS 

fices, until they have achieved the arduous but 
splendid aim which reason and conscience have 
pointed out to them for accomplishment. 

" As individuals they are endowed by tradition, 
by education, by race, and by the moderate nature 
of their social and political institutions, with that 
energy, self-reliance, and self-control which they 
sum up in that single pregnant word of theirs — 
character. With their men — soldiers, officers, 
workers, leaders of the nation — and with their 
women — mothers, wives, nurses, recruiters for the 
army or organisers of charity — there will be no 
weariness, no faint-heartedness. England is putting 
forth a mighty effort, and undertakes every day a 
burden of vast enterprises and vast expenditure 
in order to afford us, in addition to the naval 
assistance on which we counted, military aid for 
which we did not look and which will prove decisive. 

"The friendship between England and France is 
indissoluble because it is based on esteem, respect, 
intellectual and moral sympathy, and enthusiasm 
for a common ideal. This reconciliation between 
two great nations, brought about by the forgetting 
of bygone enmities and by the mutual recognition 
of noble civiHsing qualities, is one of those events 
fraught with promise, that gild the pathways of 
the future. The alhance will endure by reason of 
the reciprocal moderation of the two nations, their 
loyalty, their reverence for the Right and their 
love of Peace. 

" There exists a splendid symbol of the union of 
France and England and that is the spectacle of those 
20,000 French Canadians, loyal subjects of England, 



CONFIDENCE IN ENGLAND 281 

and faithful children of France, brothers of ours 
by race and language, brothers of their English 
fellow-countrymen by their love of EngUsh freedom, 
who have come of their own free will to take their 
place in the ranks of the Allies for the defence of 
the British Empire and the deliverance of the soil 
of France. The generosity of their twofold loyalty, 
their devotion, even to death, for both of their 
fatherlands, are tokens of that sympathy and faith- 
ful friendship which will reign throughout the years 
to come in French and English hearts, and which 
no storms of discord will ever avail to uproot. 

'' May that symbol Hve long in our recollection as 
a token of that alHance which is not merely a brother- 
hood of arms, but a union of hearts." 



Marks of Sympathy 

Among the many evidences so numerous that it 
is out of the question to think of enumerating 
them all, of the popularity of the Entente Cordiale, 
we may mention the hospitals and ambulances 
that were inaugurated by English people in France. 
Such deeds are characteristic of the British tempera- 
ment, which is deeply imbued with sentiments of 
humanity and with the duty of relieving pain. An 
Englishman is particularly sensible to the mis- 
fortunes of others, and his generosity knows no 
limits when it is a question of bringing succour 
to the victims of a calamity. The care of the sick 
and wounded he looks upon as an imperative 



282 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

obligation. He has brought the art to an extreme 
pitch of perfection. He has sent doctors, nurses, 
hospital appliances, and ambulances innumerable 
to Serbia and Italy. He has done as much and more 
for France. 

A French ReUef Fund was inaugurated in London 
which sent large sums of money to France, notably 
— touching thought — for suffering artists. Eng- 
land has had her " France's Day " when everyone 
wore the tricolour and gave their money in aid of 
the funds for the relief of suffering in France. 

Madame Daniel Lesueur concludes an article 
on " British Aid for French Sufferers During the 
War," as follows : 

" None of these noble deeds found a place in 
the treaties of alliance. The armies of two countries 
may figure side by side for the same cause without 
there being any union, behind the lines, of thought, 
sorrow, and compassion between the two races. 
But in their frightful struggle this sublime thing 
has come to pass, as a recompense and a consolation. 
The heart of England has gone out to us without 
reserve. To give her gold for our people was not 
enough. She longed to bend over them, to stanch 
their wounds, to gather them in her arms. Her most 
eminent doctors, her most skilful nurses have begged 
for the honour and happiness of being allowed to 
come and lavish their care and attentions on our 
wounded. Many are her sons who with their own 
hands are building dwelling-places for our suffering 
mart5n:s from the Marne." 



CONFIDENCE IN ENGLAND 283 

With this noble people at our side we can feel 
confidence in the future of mankind. For them, 
as for us, fraternity is not a vain word. If ever 
the " Entente Cordiale " embraces the whole of a 
Europe regenerated, England and France may 
rejoice that they were the first to endow this happy 
formula with its deepest and most generous interpre- 
tation. 

On the 4th August, 1915, the anniversary of the 
Franco-British Alliance in the war, there was 
founded in Paris with the support of several persons 
of eminence the Entente Cordiale Committee. 

Monsieur Boutroux of the Academic Frangaise 
kindly consented to be president. Forthwith the 
Committee was joined by MM. Appell, Dean of the 
Faculty of Science ; Louis Barthou, deputy ; Pierre 
Baudin, senator ; General Bonnal ; MM. Bounat, 
director of the £cole des Beaux-Arts ; Leon Bourgeois, 
senator ; Remain Coolus, president of the Society 
of Dramatic Authors ; Alfred Croiset, Dean of the 
Faculty of Letters ; Darboux, permanent Secretary 
of the Academic des Sciences ; Delbos, of the 
Academy of Moral Science ; Deschanel, of the 
Academic Fran^aise, president of the Chamber of 
Deputies ; d'Eschlhal, director of the School of 
Political Science ; de Freycinet, of the Academic 
Fran9aise, senator ; Comte d'Haussonville, of the 
Academic Fran9aise ; Lacroix, permanent Secretary 



2S4 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

of the Academie des Sciences ; Andre Lebey, 
deputy ; Georges Lecomte, president of the Society 
of Men of Letters ; Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, of the 
Academy of Moral Science ; Madame Daniel 
Lesueur ; MM. Raphael Georges Levy, of the 
Academy of Moral Science ; Georges Leygues, 
deputy ; Lindet, president of the Society for the 
Encouragement of Industry ; Robert Linzele ; 
Antonin Mercie, president of the Society of French 
Artists ; Madame David Nutt, publisher, of London ; 
Edmond Perrier, Director of the Museum, member 
of the Academy of Science and the Academy of 
Medicine ; Stephen Pichon, senator ; Em. Rodo- 
canachi ; Roll, president of the National Fine-Arts 
Society ; de Rousiers, secretary general of the 
Central Committee of French shipowners ; Madame 
Jules Siegfried, etc. 

We judge that this Committee is carrying on 
in France a work similar to that of the Anglo- 
Italian League of which I made mention in Cid 
che hanno fatto gli Inglesi, and the efforts of each 
vnll necessarily proceed along the same lines. 

Moreover, the more the members of the two 
governments and the military leaders of the two 
nations, recognising the advantages of frequent 
meetings and conversations as the sole means of 
bringing about unity of action and control, met 
together in France and England, the members of 



CONFIDENCE IN ENGLAND 285 

the two parliaments also began to draw near to 
one another and to seek to improve one another's 
acquaintance. The Socialist members were the 
first to take this course (conference held in London 
in February, 1915), but since on both sides of the 
Channel the fight for freedom was tending to destroy 
the old party barrier, it was thought right to get 
all the Parliamentary representatives to follow the 
example set by the Socialists. Monsieur Marcel 
Cachin showed the manifold advantages calculated 
to accrue from more frequent contact. A meeting 
was announced to take place in March, 1916, in Paris, 
between the French Deputies and the English 
members of Parliament. 

Finally, the Franco-Italian Congress which was 
held at Cernobbio in September, 1915, decided to 
invite to its forthcoming meeting men of promin- 
ence in England and Belgium. Thus the nations 
engaged in the struggle against German Imperial- 
ism are arriving at a better understanding, a more 
thorough knowledge of one another, and thus the 
united will of all of them is strengthened and made 
more than ever determined to carry on the struggle 
to a triumphant issue ; thus too are being laid 
for the morrow the foundations of concord and 
union which will outlive the war and bring com- 
pensation for its horrors. 



a86 BRITAIN IN ARMS 



To the Bitter End 



If, amid all the uncertainties of the hour, there 
is one thing that may be predicted with confidence, 
it is that England will go on to the very end. 
Victory will be hers sooner or later, and reverses, if 
reverses there are to be, will not impair her calm- 
ness and her resolution. Chi va piano va sano, 
chi va sano va lontano is an Italian proverb. It 
is particularly applicable to England. She does 
not move quickly enough to suit our impatience ; 
we think her painfully slow to imderstand a situa- 
tion and to make up her mind, but it is for these 
very reasons that she should inspire us with com- 
plete confidence. She has passed her word to 
History that she will triumph, and triumph she will. 
The transitory successes of her enemies do not 
disturb her. Listen to what Mr. Lloyd George said 
when the Russians were being compelled to fall 
back. 

*' I have no doubt that, however long victory 
may tarry, it will ultimately come. We may 
have to wait for the dawn. The Eastern sky is 
dark and lowering ; the stars have been clouded 
over. I regard that stormy horizon with anxiety, 
but with no dread. To-day I can see the colour 
of a new hope beginning to empurple the sky. 
The enemy in their victorious march know not 
what they are doing. Let them beware, for they 
are unshackling Russia. With their monster 



CONFIDENCE IN ENGLAND 287 

artillery they are shattering the rusty bars that 
fettered the strength of the people of Russia. 
You can see them shaking their powerful limbs 
free from the stifling debris, and preparing for 
the conflict with a new spirit. I repeat, the enemy 
know not what they are achieving for their ap- 
parent victims. Austria and Prussia are doing for 
Russia to-day what their military ancestors effected 
just as unwittingly for France. They are hammer- 
ing the sword that will destroy them, and are freeing 
a great nation to wield it with a more potent 
stroke and a mightier sweep than it ever yet com- 
manded. 

''For us, we must fight on or forever sink into 
impotent obscurity. Britain has another task. 
It is becoming clearer and our own share of it 
becoming greater as the months roll past. It is to 
see that the suffering and the loss shall not be in 
vain. The fields of Europe are being rent by the 
ploughshares of war. The verdure of the old 
civiHsation is vanishing in the desolating upheaval 
of the conflict. Let us see to it that wheat and not 
tares are sown in the bleeding soil, and ' in due 
season we shall reap if we faint not.' " 

This is no isolated instance. All the leading men 
continually express themselves to the same effect, 
and the very humblest of the population give 
utterance to the same stern resolution with a 
calmness that leaves no room for hesitation. 

On the Nelson Column in Trafalgar Square the 
royal declaration stood posted up for months in 



2«8 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

large letters. " We have taken up arms in a just 
cause and we will not lay them down until our end 
is attained." 

After a year of war, Mr. Balfour ends an address 
to the people of London by proposing the following 
resolution : 

" That on this anniversary of the declaration 
of the righteous war this meeting of the people of 
London records its inflexible determination to con- 
tinue to a victorious end the struggle in the main- 
tenance of those ideals of liberty and justice which 
are the common and the sacred cause of all the 
Allies." 

Finally, let us mark the terms of the telegrams 
that passed between the Kings of England and 
Belgium. 

To His Majesty the King of the Belgians, Chief 
Headquarters 

" On the occasion of the anniversary of the day 
when my country was forced to take up arms 
against the Power which preferred war to con- 
ference, and which violated in the most flagrant 
fashion treaties which it had signed, I desire to 
express to you my firm conviction that our united 
efforts will lead to success, and to assure you of 
my unfailing co-operation and of my determina- 
tion, as well as that of my country, to continue 
the war with our valiant Armies until it ends to our 
satisfaction, and until peace can be guaranteed." 



CONFIDENCE IN ENGLAND 289 

King Albert replied as follows : 

To His Majesty the King of England, London 

" I express to you my lively gratitude for the 
telegram you have sent me and my unshakable 
conviction that the efforts of the Allied Armies 
will tend to a peace founded on triumph and justice. 

*' Having already sacrificed herself in order to 
safeguard her honour and to remain faithful to 
the treaties which solemnly guaranteed her inde- 
pendent existence and the balance of power in 
Europe, Belgium will continue to discharge her 
duty till the end despite the sufferings and sorrows 
that have been heaped upon her. This fresh 
token of your sympathy has deeply touched me 
and I assure you from my heart of my devoted 
attachment. " Albert " 

When rumours of peace, spread abroad by 
German agents, found their way into the inter- 
national Press in September, 1915, it occurred to 
a British journalist to question the members of 
the Government regarding their attitude to the 
matter. Their replies were clear and outspoken. 
Mr. Asquith, the Prime Minister, delivered himself 
as follows : — 

" We shall never sheathe the sword which we 
have not lightly drawn, until Belgium recovers in 
full measure all, and more than all she has sacrificed ; 
until France is adequately secured against the 



290 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

menace of aggression ; until the rights of the 
smaller nationalities of Europe are placed upon an 
unassailable foundation ; and until the military 
domination of Prussia is wholly and finally 
destroyed." 

Sir Edward Carson replied that no one in England 
entertained the idea that he would be called upon 
to make useless sacrifices, but that, on the contrary, 
everyone would recognise the danger of the situa- 
tion and the menace represented by Germany to 
the ideas of liberty. 

The Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Lord 
Robert Cecil, speaking in the House of Commons 
on the 15th September, 1916, proclaimed the British 
Government's resolution to remain loyal to the 
London covenant whereby they pledged themselves 
not to make a separate peace. 

" I wish to make it quite clear, so as to avoid any 
possibility of misunderstanding in any part of this 
country, or in foreign countries, that no considera- 
tion will be given to any suggestion of peace, except 
in common with our Allies, and in conformity with 
our treaty obligations to them." 

In December, 1915, Mr. Runciman, President 
of the Board of Trade, answering a question that 
had been put to him by a number of members 
regarding the measures to be taken to facilitate 
the expansion of British trade when peace was 



CONFIDENCE IN ENGLAND 291 

declared, once more reiterated the same declara- 
tion : 

" I should be glad to see an early peace, but, 
like the rest of my colleagues, I will be no party 
to a peace that would in any way conflict with the 
interest of the Allies ; they stand together ; they 
will not make peace separately, and there will be 
no hint of hankering after peace before the main 
end has been attained. Any investigations con- 
ducted by us for the return of peace are not made 
with the idea of abandoning the harmony which 
now exists between the Allies, or of in any way 
hastening the return of peace at the cost of the main 
object at which we are aiming." 

Mr. Lloyd George, who in February, 1916, was 
interviewed by Signor Mario Borso for the Secolo 
of Milan, spoke as follows : 

" This is a war of Democracy. If it were not 
a war of Democracy I would not be in it. I was 
against the last war in which Great Britain was 
engaged, but on this occasion the whole future of 
Democracy — in Britain, France, Russia, Italy, all 
over the world — is involved. It is a final test 
between military autocracy and political liberty. 

" It is a grim struggle, but we are going to win ; 
of that I am quite confident. The enemy has 
gone beyond the height of his power, and is on the 
down grade. We and our Allies are gaining strength 
every day. The Central Empires have lost their 
opportunity of victory, and they know it. 



292 BRITAIN IN ARMS 

" Our whole country is united on the war. If 
there were an election now there would not be one 
member returned who is against the war. I do not 
foresee any difficulty with regard to compulsion." 

And again: 

" Make no mistake about it. Great Britain is 
determined to fight this war to a finish. We may 
make mistakes, but we do not give in. It was the 
obstinacy of Britain that wore down Napoleon 
after twenty years of warfare. Allies broke away 
one by one, but Britain kept on. Our Allies on 
this occasion are just as solid and determined as 
we are." 

Thus we have a whole series of official declara- 
tions, repeated again and again for more than a 
year, which leave no doubt whatever that England 
is thoroughly prepared to go through with this 
terrific struggle to the very end in concert with 
her Allies, and particularly with France. 

And to anyone who should again attempt in 
defiance of the facts to cast suspicion on Britain's 
loyalty, to the systematic slanderer who should 
tell us that ministers come and go, and that words 
fly away on the breeze, we would make answer 
that the people themselves remain and that what 
we have recorded of the British people in the 
foregoing pages commands admiration, respect, and 
confidence. 



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