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LORD ROBERTS, Issue 15692, 5 January 1915
FUNERAL OF A GREAT WARRTOR. LONDON'S FAREWELL. THE SILENT" STREETS. [By E. Ashmead-Bartlett, in 'Daily Telegraph,' November 20.] Simplicity was the keynote of Lord Roberts's character. His actions, his speeches, and his written word were all easily understood by tho public. The appeal" which he mads to those under his command, and which after his retirement he continued to make a wider circle of followers, was of the most direct and forcible nature. To the millions who revered him and who drew courage and inspiration in tho present struggle from tho example of his life he was not so much a sTeat public ■ character like Wellington as a close personal friend. No man since Nelson has ever exercised the personal spell with such power and to such good advantage. Of the hundreds of thousands, who watched his last and greatest march \esterday the majority had never spoken to him, and very likely the majority had j never seen him; yet it is no exaggeration j to say that nearly all wen there not to I ■witness a great pageant, but to pay their i la>t tribute to the' memory of erne whom j they regarded as tljeir personal friend. \ The veteran of many wars died on the ! field of battle. Had his wi-h been known lie would probably have preferred to lie where, he died, amongst the warriors he so often led to victory and within the sound or" the guns. But the English people insisted that St. Paul's must shrine his remains. The last march to the grave, stiri minded by thousand-! of warriors in khaki, was the most splendid and effective farewell any monarch or any general has ever had within these shores. Had Lord Roberts died in normal times there would nave been more color, more pageantry, greater efforts to exhaust the pomp of voe. As it was, the very simplicity of the whole ceremony served to remind every spectator that we "ire in the midst of the greatest crisis in onr history. The elements lent their aid to keep our minds fixed on the great ideals for which this man lived, and for which ho may truly be said to have died. There may be some ;vho would have preferred a bright, crisp sutnmn morning, with sunshine. J would cot have changed the dull, grey sky, the ■•old. damp air. and drizzling sleet for the brightest of sunshine. All was grey. The iky, the atmosphere, the streets and houses formed a fitting background for the dull grey uniforms worn by the troops. Only nne flash of color relieved the far-stretch-ing gloom. Thi> was the Union Jack over the coffin. It shone ont as an emblem of how our country is battling for very existence against the dark forces of autocracy «nd militarism. If only we had followed the considered advice of the man whose remains lay under that flag, how different would onr position be to-day. - —Thousands of Spectators.— If it is given to the dead to understand and watch what passes here below, the spirit of Lord Roberts had cause for satisfaction yesterday. Two facts stood out above all others. The one the splendid bearing and martial demeanor of the troops who lined the streets and who took part In the procession; the other the unusual absence of able-bodied men amongst the waiting crowds. Nevei be foe* ba\e I seen so many old men, vomen, and children. The able-bodied men were few and far between. We have two millions «nd?r nrms. and their absence- makes an enormous difference to a London crowd. There were some, of course. Let us hope that what they saw has caused them to decide on joining our fighting forces. In spite of the cold and rain and sleet, immen.-© numbers of spectators began to concentrate from all over London at a very early hour to secure favorable posi- | tions along the line of tho procession. They came from everywhere. Crowded j tubes brought them from the north, and thousands more came from the south of the Thames and from other parts of the vast encircling suburbia. Never have the police had an easier task. The crowd spread itself along the whole route, and waited for two hours patiently under conditions which were trying for all. The cold was intense, and 'at 10 o'clock it began to drizzle, and then to rain hard. The troops lining the route were an interesting study, because they showed so well both the strength and weakness of our military system. Tou coulci follow the different stages of their training by the manner in vhich tbey carried out. the orders of their officers. There were Guards ivho moved es one man; there were Territorials, armed with a different rifle, who bore themselves proudly, but whose mameuvrer; lacked that grace and precision of the premier corps ; there were sailors—a- magnificent body of men—whose drill came "halfway between the two. There were marines —the only troops in blue—who looked as steady as a granite rock. Never before have I seen such a serious crowd. Generally on these occasions there are_ numerous humorous incidents vhich while away the time and delight the public. Yesterday there was not" a- smile, not a word of criticism, when some of the new formations went wrong in carrying out ibeir orders or handling their rifles. Perhaps for tho first time" in our history the general public realised their dependence rm tho Army. They no longer regarded the soldiers and their accoutrements as some strange curiosity trotted out once in n, way to give them a show ; they looked upon the soldiers, whether Regulars cr Territorials, British or Indian, with a higher respect and deeper insight. —A Silent Passing.Two features distinguished tho procession, the one tho absence of all music and the other the intense silence of tho waiting crowds. You did not- even know tho pro" cession had started until the first of the troops appeared through the drizzle and mist. It was much more like the march of sit army silently and secretly to the battlefield than the triumphant close of a |ieat -career. The two greatest events of Lord Roberts's life were the march to Kandahar and the march to Pretoria. This final march to St. Paul's—the greatest of them all—resembled them outwardly very closely. The troops were dressed alike, tor all. whether at home or abroad, are on active, service now. Many of the veterans present had taken part in those famous tampaigns. All will shortly be facing the enemy on tho battlefield only a hundred miles away. It was the knowledge of this fact which lent such reality to the ghostly figures passing through" the ever-deepening November gloom. Troops clad in khaki have few distinguishing marks. First came the pipers of the London Scottish, followed by a. battalion of that regiment. Then the sth Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment, followed by the 4th Grenadier Guards. Then caine a. representative contingent of colonial corps—men who first fought side by side with British troops in South Africa, and whose value "Bobs" was tiiot. to recognise and appreciate. The Irish Guards and naval detachment followed, and two Indian mountain mule batteries. The stolid face 3 of our Indian allies displayed none of the emotion they must ha,ve lelt at the honor which had fallen to their lot of following their famous chieftain to the grave. Next followed P Battery Royal Horse Artillery, and immediately in rear the gun carriage bearing the coffin, covered by the Union Jack, with the field-marshal's sword and baton resting upon it. His riderless, charger walked behind. Eleven closed carriages followed detachments of the Life Guards and Horse Guards, and King Edvard's Horsa closed the simple profession. As the coffin passed the crowds uncovered in, dumb reverence. In Northumberland Avenue one little incident occurred. An. old veteran tottered out from the crowd, advanced to one of the files, and stood at tk« salute. All the troops marched at the aloTr »t«p, *nd with arms r«versed. AU down the Embankm#nt the immense ciowd -wratchsd the passing of the nation's hero in absolute silence. Every window had its spectators, every flag was at half-maet. —March to St. Paul's. At Blackfriars there was a, brief halt to allow the distinguished pall-bearers to join the cortege. They took np their positions and walked the remainder of the distance to St. Paul's on foot. All were in full
of color to the procession. Up Ludgate Circus and Ludgate Hill the procession moved slowly, amidst even denser crowds. Here one saw a. great many special constables assisting 1 the city police to keep back the people. In St. Paul's Churchyard the massed bands of tho Guards played Chopin's '.Funeral March' as_ the head of the- procession came into view. The scene here, was very impressive. All the houses, and even the'roofs were packed with citizens, gathered to pay their last tribute to the dead. While the troops passed on their way towards the city the gun-carnage too* the road to the* left, and halted immediately ooposito a red carpet leading up tho steps'of the Cathedral. At this point there was a wait of nearly 20 minutes. The pall-bearers lined the steps standing in the heavv rain. Exactly as the great clock overhead struck, 12 stalwart, khakiclad figures stepped forward and lifted tho coffin from the gun-carriage. They bore. it up the steps, and just for a minute the Union Jack could bo seen before it disappeared from view within doors. Thus pc«se<i the remains of a great Englishman, and the last of tho old school of commanders, the like of whom we shall never see again. The days of individual greatness in war are gone. Lord Roberts was the type who won battles in a single clay; who himself controlled every movement of his troops on the battlefield; whose personality was known and felt by the men under "his command at supreme moments. Ho was the ideal personal commander of an army as opposed to tho head of a vast machine controlling hundreds of thousands of men who never see their general, distant many miles from the scene "of action. He lived to witness the vast changes which have come over war. He joined" the Army when the old smooth bore muzzle loader "was the infantryman's weapon, and the old round shot tho mainstay of the artillery. His last public work wis to visit * troops armed with magazine rifles, machine guns, quickfiring artillery and heavy howitzers. He lived to witness the introduction and •changes wrought by the telephone, wireless, the aeroplane and airsbip._ Yet his mind fullv expanded with the inventions of the age. lie was the first public man of veal eminence to go to his countrymen and tell them that universal service was the nr.!v safeguard against the ambitions of the Kaiser and the Prussian military clique. He has not lived to see the full triumph of his repeated warnings, but, with his wonderful insight into war and his final consultations with the Chiefs of our Armies in the field, he must have j died happy in the knowledge that ultimate victory is" assured, provided we only—even at this late hour—follow the ex- j ample he himself has set before us.
LORD ROBERTS, Issue 15692, 5 January 1915
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