Opening Meeting, Season 1954-55
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 7 Oct 1954, p. 6-15

Pike, Rev. Canon V.J., Speaker
Media Type:
Item Type:
Some details of the speaker's job, offering a picture of the commitments of the British Army within the Empire and within the Commonwealth of Nations. Conceiving of Russia as a great kind of volcano that might erupt at any time or any place with all around the circumference the Armed Forces of the Crown of one member nation or another, standing guard. The commitment of the British Army to maintain law, order and peace. Action seen in different types of warfare by the troops in Korea, in Malaya, and in Kenya. The work of the Padre in these conditions, along with the men on patrol. Conditions in Britain today. The evolution of the Empire; the British Commonwealth of Nations. A brief look at Canada, then at the Empire. Some history. The vision of Lord Shaftesbury. The speaker's prayer for wider and wider influence of the British way of life to be shared and passed onto others.
Date of Original:
7 Oct 1954
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
An Address by REV. CANON V. J. PIKE, C.B., C.B.E., M.A. Chaplain to the Queen
Thursday, October 7th, 1954
CHAIRMAN: The President, Mr. James H. Joyce.

MR. JOYCE: Before going on the air I think I have time to complete a very pleasant ceremony.

Those of you who were present last November at our Club's 50th Anniversary Luncheon will remember that we presented to our distinguished Past Presidents a certificate acknowledging with grateful thanks their services to our Club.

Since that meeting we have added another Past President to our list--Mr. Arthur E. M. Inwood, last year's President. The very successful year which this Club had last year was due in no small measure to his untiring effort and hard work.

Thus it is most fitting that we should, at this first meeting of our new season, present Mr. Inwood with an acknowledgment of our thanks for his services.

This certificate reads:

The Empire Club of Canada acknowledges with grateful thanks the services of Arthur E. M. Inwood as President during the year 1953-54 and is signed under seal by our Honorary President, Lord Alexander of Tunis, your President, and Mr. Ernest Miles, our faithful, hard-working Secretary. Incidentally, I might add that Mr. Miles took this certificate to England and had it signed in his presence by Lord Alexander.

Mr. Inwood, it gives me great pleasure to present this certificate to you.

Our speaker today is Major General, the Reverend Canon Joseph Pike, C.B., C.B.E., M.A., Chaplain to the Queen, and Chaplain-General to the Forces of Britaina man who has a most distinguished war record.

Born 47 years ago in Ireland, Canon Pike was educated at Bishop Foy School, Waterford, and Trinity College, Dublin.

He started his career as a Curate in Dundrum County and in Dublin from 1930 to 1932 and was appointed Chaplain to the Forces, 4th Class, in July 1932.

In his younger days Canon Pike was a great athlete. He played international rugby for Ireland during the years 1931 to 1935 inclusive and was capped thirteen times.

Early in 1941 Canon Pike was appointed Senior Chaplain for the 43rd Division and in May 1942 Senior Chaplain to the 11th Division. From September 1942 to January 1945 he was Deputy Assistant Chaplain General to the 5th Corps, serving in the United Kingdom, North Africa and in Italy. He was awarded the C.B.E. in 1944.

For about nine months in 1945 Canon Pike was Assistant Chaplain General of the 8th Army in Italy, but in the latter part of the year was appointed Deputy Chaplain General of the Middle East Land Forces. Subsequently, in 1947, he became Assistant Chaplain General of the Western Command and in 1950 received the same appointment with the British Army of the Rhine.

Canon Pike was appointed to his present post of Chaplain General to the Forces in November, 1951 and appointed Chaplain to the Queen on November 3rd, 1953, being the youngest clergyman ever to receive that appointment ... Major General the Reverend Canon V. J. Pike.

CANON PIKE: It is a tremendous privilege and a tremendous honour for me to be here with you today and indeed I am more than grateful to the Canadian Army who have brought me out here as their guest. I think it is the first time in history that a Chaplain-General has visited this land and I cannot tell you how greatly indebted I am and how impressed I am. It is indeed a privilege for me to be here with you as your speaker at this Luncheon.

When I was coming over the Atlantic, Colonel Forth, your Principal Protestant Chaplain, was escorting me and all the time I think he was trying to make me into a Canadian!!! When we got into the St. Lawrence he said, "Do you see those rocks? Those are the oldest rocks in the world."

"Absolute rubbish!" I said. "We have rocks in Ireland and they are so small, so worn away with time and age they are only the size of pebbles!" I had to do something to keep my end up!

But mainly today I would like to talk to you a little about the job I have to do, giving to you, who belong to this Empire Club, some picture of the commitments of the British Army within the Empire and within the Commonwealth of Nations to which we all belong.

If you can conceive Russia as a great kind of volcano that might erupt at any time or any place in its great circumference, then all around that circumference you will see the Armed Forces of the Crown of one member nation or another, standing guard. Today we stand guard in the British Army right around the whole of that circumference, from Berlin in the West down through the British Army of the Rhine in Germany, in Austria, in Trieste, Malta, Cyprus, the Middle East, up the Gulf of Aqaba, which very few people have ever heard about (there is quite a considerable British Force there); across to Hong Kong, over on the mainland of China, in Kowloon, and right round to Japan and Korea.

That is a tremendous . . may I use the word . . Diocese, My Lords, for me to try and cover. The Bishops here have got pretty big ones ... I think I have got one a little bigger. Within that the British Army today is gravely committed in order to maintain law, order and peace.

Our troops are in action in different types of warfare in Korea (which is quiet at the moment), in Malaya, Kenya; and the conditions under which men work and fight in those places are far from easy. I suppose few people know, even at home, the conditions under which a British soldier fights in Malaya. He has a tough, tough enemy. He is fighting under the most abnormal conditions in the jungle, and, Gentlemen, the jungle has to be visited and seen before it can be appreciated! The soldiers go out on patrol. The patrol generally goes single-file, the leader cutting his way through the foliage, which is so thick and heavy that it falls in, and you are lucky if you see the chap in front or behind you. I think the greatest nuisance there that the soldiers have to meet with are the various types of microbes that bite them, and so on. In one way or another they have got to be frightfully careful, because we have found by experience that men were getting diseases of one sort or another; and very, very severe discipline had to be carried out in order to prevent men picking leeches off themselves, for as often as not the head remained and set up a sepsis. So if you saw a patrol at the end of the day, before coming to their final destination, they would strip stark naked, light a cigarette, and put it against the tail of the animal, and out he comes ... rather like the monkeys at the Zoo!!

The Padre works under these conditions with the men out on patrol. It rains very heavily every evening in Malaya and literally there is no daylight in the jungle. There is a constant gloom; there is the thick foliage in which the enemy is hidden and overhead the immense forest of trees spreading out like a huge umbrella. There is no daylight--in the jungle you have only twilight.

When the patrol settles down for the night they build little huts or shelters of atap leaves (rather like a banana leaf) and in there the Padre very quietly, almost under his breath, takes some prayers and Bible reading. No hymns can be sung. A perimeter guard is put out. Talking is forbidden; smoking is forbidden. There is absolute silence so that the position will not be given away during the night. These kind of conditions are very trying.

I think that during the last two or three years General Templer has done in Malaya a most terrific job, and slowly but gradually we are getting on top of this unpleasant business.

Coming to Kenya: The position is very similar to Malaya, where there is the Malay, the Chinese and the white man. It is the same in Kenya: you have the native African, the Asian or Indian, and the white man. The conditions under which we are fighting the Mau Mau in Kenya are very similar to those in Malaya.

Perhaps there is one thing frightens the British soldier more than anything else ... rarely a day passes that some patrol or other isn't charged by a rhinocerous. The average British soldier comes from some town and has never seen one. And to have two and a half tons of pretty tough flesh with a horn in front charging you is a rather uncomfortable experience! However, the rhinocerous charges with its eyes shut and there have been no serious accidents so far.

I would like to say something about the old Home Country on this occasion. A lot of people ask me, "How is Britain faring these days?" I want you to think back, if you will, for a moment. Fourteen years ago Britain was being attacked from the air. Our big cities were being bombed and children were evacuated by the hundreds of thousands out into the countryside. They were taken from their homes, their churches, everything that normally moulds the youth of the nation: and today we are getting those young men into the Services as National Servicemen. There was a certain amount of apprehension, I think, as to how they would turn out. I can tell you here quite faithfully and honestly, and without any holding back, that the quality of the young British manhood today coming into the Services is second to none. They have proved their worth and I believe they are an even better quality than the previous generation.

This augurs well for the future. In spite of all the drawbacks of the early days of their young lives, there is magnificent material there.

What about the men who are leading them? I would say that Britain today is short of leaders. I don't suppose you can have two great world wars without eliminating a considerable number of your youth and the young manhood who were endowed to be your future leaders. Nevertheless, in spite of that shortage--and I have been in the British Army now for 23 years--I have never known the quality of leadership at the top (and I mean the top, from Lieutenant Colonels commanding regiments to Generals) so high or so good as it is today; and I believe that under these conditions of leadership and with the material that is available for those men to lead, things are going extraordinarily well.

No, I am not here to talk politics and I am not here to beat around the bush. My job is a Parson's job, and I am going to talk about that in a very practical way. You know different people perhaps need different kinds of treatment and I find, as an Irishman, one has got to be fairly pliable when one is in this particular kind of job, because different nationalities have different ways of looking at things.

Some man summed up the four nationalities at home. He said: "The Welsh pray to God on Sundays and on their neighbours the rest of the week. The Scotsman keeps the Sabbath and all the rest he can lay his hands on. The Irishman never knows what he wants, but he will fight to the death until he gets it. The Englishman is a self-made man and he worships his maker."

Well, I don't know how one would summarize Canadians--I haven't got that far yet. Nevertheless, among us all it is interesting to look back at history . . . it is interesting to see how this thing, the British Commonwealth of Nations or Empire, or whatever you like to call it, has evolved, and I believe that it is one of the greatest things that exists in the world today. I believe that under God ... and I would like to stress that ... it is a most remarkable thing, when you think of it, that millions and millions of the people of this earth, of different colour, different racial characteristics, different creeds and religions, have all been united in one great family, and it is a fact which they appreciate. In my particular job I meet lots of people who are outside the family,, and they look with almost jealous eyes at this wonderful possession that you and I have inherited. Gentlemen, we are the trustees for something that is great and true and fine, and the future is ours to make of it what we will.

Now, here in Canada I hear you using the expression "The Mother Country". If that is so . . . if you are one of the sons of the Mother Country, you have now grown into an elder brother and already one can see how Canada is taking her responsibility as an elder brother in this great family of nations.

When I was asked to come out here I started delving into Canadian history of fifty years ago and the changes that have taken place in this country in the last fifty years have been incredible. It is a remarkable thing to think that today you have troops in Korea and in Germany. You have had teams of experts advising on the Kashmir question, and at this moment advising in IndoChina. Canada has grown up into the elder brother and is taking her share in the welfare and wellbeing of this great family of nations. We are an immense size, but I think there is a danger that we may think our size is the thing that matters.

I would like now to hark back to those rocks that Colonel Forth was talking about. If what the scientists tell us is true, and you had been an individual here six or eight million years ago, you would have seen the immense forces of nature let loose. You would have seen the most tremendous earthquakes; you would have seen mountains being carved out and forced up from the earth; you would have seen great valleys split asunder; you would have seen great fires. And all around this existing earth and its formation there was a slimy sludge and in that sludge there was the tiny, tiny, invisible protoplasm or origin of life. As a betting man, which would you put your money on . . . the tiny pin point of protoplasm or the great forces of nature? The average man would bet on the latter, but the impossible has happened: From that little pin point of protoplasm have come Science and Saints, Art and Mind and Beauty and Culture, and everything else, and the point I am trying to get across, Gentlemen, is this, that virility is mightier than size. Vitality is mightier than size. And if it is true anywhere-and it is true in this immense country of yours-it is the vitality of the people, not your natural resources, that is the wealth of a nation. It is not your economic setup or your political strength that forms the wealth of a nation. The wealth of a nation is in the hearts of her people.

Now look at this Empire. Of course we are human. We have from time to time made mistakes; that is true and we admit them. But I believe that the British Empire under God has made a greater contribution to the wellbeing and welfare of the human race than this world has ever known. (Applause). I cannot see in the history of any other nation such a thing performed as we have given, in spite of the mistakes that we have made.

Well, there it is. But don't let us therefore lose sight of the thing that makes us great. People often ask me what made Great Britain great, and I tell them it was the impact of individual men and women, not large groups, but individual men and women who had a vision of life and they gave it. For instance, if you were in England a hundred years ago-only one hundred years ago-you would have seen boys from the age of seven down in the coal mines, and they were not modernized as they are today ... they were filthy death-traps. You would have seen boys of seven doing a six-day week, twelve hours a day. You would have seen girls from the age of nine chained, in many cases, to the cotton looms in Lancashire and the woollen looms in Yorkshire, doing a six-day week, ten hours a day. You would have seen tramping around the countryside a dirty looking individual with a little horde of orphan boys, mostly at the age of five or six, tiny little tots, and they were used to sweep the chimneys. Almost incredible to believe, the young lad was shoved up the chimney!

Then in Britain there came forward a man named Lord Shaftesbury. I needn't tell you about the fight, the persistence, the endeavour. He had a vision that this was not the mind of God ... this was not the mind of Christ . . . and he fought until he got the Factory Acts passed through Parliament. But what made Lord Shaftesbury? Where did he get this vision from? Well, his father, the previous Earl, was a rather hard kind of man . . . his mother, a rather cold kind of woman, and this boy, Ashley Cooper, who was born to them was rather neglected. But they had an English "nanny". She had nothing . . . no University degree ... she had never been to college ... she never got Matric or anything else. But she had one thing: she had understanding and friendship of a real Christian and a vision of what a Christian man might achieve. She died when Ashley Cooper was seven, but during the first seven years of his early life, she moulded and fashioned in that young lad the thing which brought him all the way through his life. And I believe, if you ask me what made Britain great, that it was the Spirit of Christ unfolded in every kind of practical way by individual men and women who gave themselves unstintingly, unselfishly and whole-heartedly. I believe about this British Empire of ours, that provided we keep those characteristics and those principles, it is unbeaten and unbeatable, and I believe the real strength of our Commonwealth depends on the quality of the lives that you and I possess, and to the extent that the Carpenter of Nazareth can unfold His principles and put forward in our daily lives His practices, that come what may, we can face any weather, any storm.

You know, I have often heard the song "Land of Hope and Glory". I love that song, because I believe it to be true. "Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free" . . . and it goes on to say: "Mightier still and mightier shall thy bounds be set; God who made thee mightier, make thee mightier yet".

While I hope and pray that that may be true, and true in this sense ... wider still and wider ... not that we may gain more territory, not that we may absorb more land or continents or countries, but I pray that wider still and wider the influence of the British way of life and all we have learned, and all we stand for, may go out into this world that is rather mad, a bit bad, and is certainly sad.

That is the prayer I would pray as I sing that song, that the influence of what we know in this Empire we might share and pass on to others.

So in conclusion, Gentlemen, let us be proud of this heritage, let us guard it faithfully, with all that is good and all that is true and all that is fine and noble in our own personal lives. Let us constantly look to the source from which we draw that strength to fulfill those virtues in our lives.

It doesn't really much matter in this world if we become popular ... it doesn't really much matter if we accumulate great wealth or prestige or power. The great thing is, when we have laid down our charge, whether we have been successful or not. That is the thing that counts. All the other things are subsidiary.

1 love the words of an anonymous writer, and I leave them with you . . . they describe success: "He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much, who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children, who has done his part, who has filled his niche and who has left this world a better place than he found it."

Thank you, Mr. President . . . thank you very much, Gentlemen, for this great privilege and great honour of being your guest today.

THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Bishop Wilkinson.

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Opening Meeting, Season 1954-55

Some details of the speaker's job, offering a picture of the commitments of the British Army within the Empire and within the Commonwealth of Nations. Conceiving of Russia as a great kind of volcano that might erupt at any time or any place with all around the circumference the Armed Forces of the Crown of one member nation or another, standing guard. The commitment of the British Army to maintain law, order and peace. Action seen in different types of warfare by the troops in Korea, in Malaya, and in Kenya. The work of the Padre in these conditions, along with the men on patrol. Conditions in Britain today. The evolution of the Empire; the British Commonwealth of Nations. A brief look at Canada, then at the Empire. Some history. The vision of Lord Shaftesbury. The speaker's prayer for wider and wider influence of the British way of life to be shared and passed onto others.