THE NATION UNDER ORDERS.
LETTBK BY BIBHOP OF
The following letter, of which we print; extracts, was printed in the London "Times' on Ma; 25th from the pen of the Bishop of Pretoria, who had just returned from the Western Front. This splendid letter brings home to our minds vividly the sterling quality of our British troops and the ineistent want foe "more men and still more men":—
"I have just returned from the front, where I have spent the last month in giving what help I could to our chaplains and troops in Northern France and Flanders It was the most glorious month I have ever spent, and I want, if I can, to pass on to others a few of the impressions which were burnt into my soul during that time—for the days are critical. 1 had never doubted that the spirit of our troops was as fine as men told Uβ it was, but I never realised bow fine it was until I bad lived in it and with it. It beggars description ; it is amazing. It is all the more so when you realise, as you do when you are up at the front, that this spirit is there in spite of the fact that the men who show it feel it in their bones tbat somehow the nation is not backing, them as the nation could and should. That, I am convinced, is the feeling right through the Army in France and Flanders; and the reason for it ia not far to seek.
AT THE FRONT. After fighting desperately day am night for days and weeks, with fright ful losses, the men who are left an dog tired; and need a rest. Whei they are "pulled out" to get this, ant after three days are sent back into tb< firing line again, the only conolusior they can draw is that there are nol enough troops available to take theii places. When battalion after batta< lion of infantry—and as was reoentlj the case in the Ypres salient, regiment after regiment of cavalry, too— have to Bit in trenches day after day and night after night, being pounded by high explosives from enemy guns, with no guns behind them capable of keeping down the enemy's fire, then the conclusion they draw is obvious— namely, that the nation has failed to provide sufficient guns or ammunition to meet those of the enemy. When, night after night and day after day, the men in the trenches know that for every one band grenade or rifle grenade or trench mortar bomb wbiob they throw at the enemy they will get back in answer anything from five to ten, then the conclusion they draw ie also obvious—namely, that tbe nation does not; somehow realise the situation, or, if it does, has not; made.it its business to supply what is necessary. Man for man they know that they bave nothing to fear either from German infantry or cavalry; they bave proved it again and again. But they know also that it is little short of murder for a nation to ask men, however, full of the right spirit, to face an enemy amply equipped with big guns and the right kind of ammunition, unless they are at least equipped with equally effective munitions of
war. There can be only one impression left on the minds of menyin suoh a case, and that is, that Somehow or other the nation does not know the truth, does not understand, and is not backing them, for, knowing the old country as they do, they have no doubt th»t if Germany can produce these things we can, if we will. And jet, it Ppite of it all, they carry on, they keep cheery, thoy do their best, they die gaily. The fact ia that as a nation we are just gambling on \hU spirit We know it to be there ;we believe it is unconquerable, whatever happens, So it is; but it will not win the war alone. It is this spirit, backed by guns and high explosives— legitimate munitions of war—which in going to smash this enemy of ours, and nothing else Let no one tbiok that, we are going to do it by descend ing fo the level of the German Ira p»>i*l Staff and using any eort of gas. This talk of repripals by gas (perhaps next we pball bear of reprisals by poisoning water supplied) is pimply Another method of chloroforming the ;be cation and blinding its eje3 to the real issue—the adequate supply of big guns and bigb explosive shells and other legitimate munitions of war
A NATION UNDER ORDERS
That is why tbe men at tbe front have the right epirib. They are so gloriously cheery because their con sciences are at rest. They know they have done and are doing tbe right thing. They have made tbe great surrender. Tbey have burnt their boats behind them and put themselves under orders. Nothing matters except to "do their bit" wben they are told to. When they are not wanted tbey have no Billy scruples about PDJoying themselves tbe best way tbey can. When the whole nation knows itself to be under others, and knows that it is doing the right thing, we shall ccc the same spirit of gay surrender at home; and thie spirit is essential. All we want is a lead, and a strong and. fearless lead. But will tbe nation stand it? Politics again! Well, if it won't, it will have to stand something infinitely more distasteful before very long. But, of course, tbe nation will etand it. The nation will welcome it with both hands, once it is given a lead, once all are treated alike, once it is told the truth—not half truths, which are worse tban lies, but tbe real truth—that though we are holding the enemy through tbe indomitable spirit and tbe reckless self sacrifice of our troops, we cannot and never shall
re nble to orush them until we provide our fighting men with a preponderance of munitions of war over and above the apparently ample and un diminished supply of the enemy. Ad* vancing a few yards, or retiring a few miles, or merely holding the enemy—■ this is not going to win the war. 1 may produce a peace in the long r> : bnt it will be a peace made n> ("■ > many end not of British m<v •■■'<■ tare.
The nation will welcome nai 1 service because the temper of , ">e nation ia different from what it vims. Recent events have clearly shown, even to the most phlegmatic, that we nre in a perfectly real sense up against the Devil incarnate. What else is it when we are fighting against an enemy who will stop at nothing, bow evet mean and cruel and disgusting— an enemy who will use gas, sink Lusitaoias, pat arsenic in running streams, and sow disease ? Mere abuse won't tame this Devil or drive him out, but a nation serving will. National service will be welcomed once the nation learns the truth that thousands of the finest and most gallant lives that the Empire has ever produced are being thrown away re oause the nation has not yet realised that it is at war.
There is only one way to make tbe nation realise this fact, and that is by bringing every member of it under the direct orders of tbe State for one purpose, and one purpose only. Nothing else matters to-day.
MICHAEL, FURSE, Bishop of Pretoria." May 21.
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THE NATION UNDER ORDERS., Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXV, Issue 3477, 23 July 1915
THE NATION UNDER ORDERS. Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, Volume LXXV, Issue 3477, 23 July 1915
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