- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 4 Sep 1940, p. 50-69
- Howe, The Honourable C.D., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Entering the second year of the war. Looking back at the year just past and reviewing the progress that has been made toward our war objective. A discouraging year. The magnitude of the task of changing over a country from peaceful pursuits to an "all out" war effort which few can appreciate. What needs to be done. The urgency of time in our race for armaments. Germany's preparations over the last seven years. Details of the German's advantage. Some facts and figures regarding Canada's preparedness. Comparisons to one year ago. Troops and volunteers. The First Canadian Division, enlarged into a Canadian Corps. Additional rifle battalions. Reconnaissance detachments. Increased personnel in the Navy. Progress in the mobilization of our armed forces. Vessels of the Canadian Navy. The building programme, covering the building of mine sweepers, patrol vessels and smaller craft. The purchase, conversion and armament of merchant ships. The Empire Air Training Plan. Aeroplane construction in Canada. Types of planes. Future manufacture of aeroplane parts. The supply of skilled labour for the aircraft industry. The production of automotive equipment. The production of Universal Carriers well advanced, with deliveries beginning before the end of this year. Tanks production. The gun programme. Production of small arms ammunition. Providing explosives for a shell programme. Building of a plant for the manufacture of secret war devices. Contracts for hutments for troops, coast-defence fortifications, etc. General purchases of clothing, boots, food and personal equipment for the armed forces. Building plans resulting in shortages of raw materials. The appointment of a Controller with extraordinary powers to mobilize raw materials and to avoid unnecessary shortages. The activities of the Controllers, with illustrative examples. The Department of Munitions and Supply: its staff, responsibilities, activities. The task of furnishing the sums of money necessary to finance our munitions programme, open to all Canadians. The magnificent response. Request from the Minister of Finance for a subscription to a still larger war loan which must be subscribed in full if the war programme is going to continue to expand. How we are paying for this war. Purchasing war bonds. The determination to defend and to fulfill duties and obligations as part of our Canadian heritage. Next, Mr. Courtice introduces the guest of honour, Flight Lieutenant Wallace Barton, who has been on active service with the Royal Air Force since the outbreak of the war. Barton at the Battle of Flanders and the evacuation from Dunkerque, where he merited the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. Lieutenant Wallace Barton relates his battle experience, and speaks about the Canadians he met in France.
- Date of Original
- 4 Sep 1940
- Language of Item
- Copyright Statement
- 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.
- Empire Club of CanadaEmail
Agency street/mail address
Fairmont Royal York Hotel
100 Front Street West, Floor H
Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3
- Full Text
CANADA AT WAR
AN ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE C. D. HOWE, B.Sc., M.E.I.C. MINISTER OF MUNITIONS AND SUPPLY.
Wednesday, September 4, 1940
A Joint Meeting of the Empire Club of Canada and the Canadian Club was held in the Royal York Hotel, Toronto, on Wednesday, September 4, 1940.
MR. A. R. COURTICE: Gentlemen: At the end of one year of war it seemed appropriate that we should have a review of Canada's war effort. No one is in a better position to speak to us on that subject than the Minister of Munitions and Supply, and we are fortunate that in the midst of his very busy life he could be our guest of honour today. Mr. Howe is eminently well qualified, both in theory and in practice, for the great public responsibility which he has assumed. He is a graduate Engineer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and for several years was Professor of Engineering at Dalhousie University before he engaged in private business where he became an acknowledged world expert in the construction of grain elevators. Mr. Howe seems always to have been associated with big projects, both in business and in government, an example of which was the remarkably successful organization and completion of the Trans-Canada Air Service which compares favourably with the best in the world. (Applause.)
As Minister of Munitions and Supply, Mr. Howe is responsible for the purchase of all of Canada's war supplies with the widest possible control over the production of all these central war materials. His Department has spent many in in the last twelve months on war orders and m the construction and equipment of new plants and new industries. The immediate purpose of this is, of course, to win the war, but also in the process there is being laid the foundation of a new industrial age for Canada. To such great purposes as these Mr. Howe is now devoting all his time and talents in his country's interests.
Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to present to this very large and representative audience, the Honourable C. D. Howe. (Applause.)
THE HONOURABLE C. D. HOWE, B.Sc., M.E.I.C.: Mr. Chairman. Distinguished Guests, Gentlemen: As we enter the second year of the war we may well look back at the year just past and review the progress that has been made toward our war objective. It has been a discouraging year, a year that has seen the armed forces of Germany meet with success after spectacular success. Britain has seen her Allies one by one give up the struggle and become subject to her enemy. Yet, as I stand here today, I was never so sure as I am at this moment that Britain will be the ultimate victor. (Applause.) I am sure that everyone within the sound of my voice shares that opinion.
Changing over a country from peaceful pursuits to an "all out" war effort is a task the magnitude of which few can appreciate. A Minister of Munitions and Supply can never fairly be charged with complacency. To him the time factor in converting a requisition into the goods and materials themselves seems interminable. Before a uniform can be made the wool must be procured and the cloth woven. Before a shell can be produced the machinery that makes the shell must be manufactured, and before that, the machinery that makes our machinery must also be manufactured. Before we can make explosives we must build a huge plant, and to obtain the components that go into explosives we must build several chemical plants, the product of each of which is a necessary raw material. Before we can build aeroplanes we must first manufacture aluminium and convert it into sheets, tubes and forgings. All this takes time, and to one who stands between the demand of the fighting forces on the one hand and production schedules on the other hand, that time seems endless. It is only when we can look back at a full year that we can see that real progress is being made.
There is no time to be lost in our race for armaments. Germany has been on a war footing for seven years, preparing for the present struggle. Her productive capacity was being geared to war throughout that period. She now has at her disposal all the great armament plants of Europe--Krupp, Schneider, Bofors and Skoda. For man-power she can draw on a population of one hundred and twenty million Germans and Italians, and in addition another eighty million conquered men and women who are being forced to work for the Nazis in order to exist. In other words, Germany now controls the lives of two hundred million persons against whom are ranged the eighty-six million of the British race. There is no time to be lost.
One year ago we had forty-five hundred troops available for service overseas or elsewhere. Today the Canadian Active Service Force numbers over one hundred and fifty-five thousand. A year ago there were no troops outside of Canada. Now, the Canadian Active Service Force is in England, Iceland, Newfoundland, and in the Caribbean, and over one hundred thousand in Canada are available for duty anywhere. Besides this, some sixty thousand volunteers will be training this summer in our militia camps. This winter in addition to the militia training at local headquarters, there will be, each month at the militia training centres, another thirty thousand. This means that until further contingents of the Canadian Active Service Force go overseas there will be on service and in training camps or headquarters about two hundred thousand men in this country.
The First Canadian Division that went to England some eight months ago has been enlarged into a Canadian Corps, with Major-General McNaughton in command, and now numbers the equivalent of nearly three divisions. A Third Division and a Fourth Division and nine more additional rifle battalions have been formed. Our Army has been reorganized in the light of experience gained overseas in the last few months. Reconnaissance detachments, mobile formations and motorized troops have been formed both here and in England.
One year ago our Navy had seventeen hundred officers and men; now it has nearly ten thousand. A year ago the Royal Canadian Air Force had a personnel of four thousand men; now its personnel is twenty-five thousand, exclusive of the Air Training Programme. Three squadrons of the Royal Canadian Air Force are operating in the United Kingdom today and another squadron of the Royal Air Force is composed wholly of Canadians. You may read of their exploits in the account of many an air battle over England. Canada has been assigned the task of training a large proportion of the pilots that will defend Britain in future years and our Air Training Plan is well ahead of the schedules laid down for it when the programme was undertaken.
I think that we can claim progress in the mobilization of our armed forces. My own responsibility has been that of obtaining munitions and supplies for these forces. It will be particularly appropriate to discuss progress in that direction briefly, but in some detail, on a day that a war loan is being launched as a large portion of that loan will inevitably be used to pay for munitions and supplies.
When the war began the Canadian Navy consisted of fifteen vessels. today it consists of one hundred and twenty vessels. In the next year one hundred more will be added. This has involved a $60,000,000 building programme for the two years, covering the building of mine sweepers, patrol vessels and smaller craft; and the purchase, conversion and armament of merchant ships. In addition, we are building ten patrol vessels for the British Navy. New naval vessels are being launched each week from our sixteen major shipyards, while eighteen smaller shipyards are working to capacity on a small boat programme. Some fourteen thousand men are employed in ship construction and the numbers are still increasing.
Perhaps our most important contribution to Britain's war effort is the Empire Air Training Plan, which is under way and rapidly expanding. This has involved the ex tension of existing aerodromes and construction of new aerodromes to the number of one hundred and twenty separate projects. The plan originally contemplated a two-year building programme, but the general speeding up of the plan has shortened the construction period to a single year. At the end of 1940, practically all of these aerodromes will have been completed and equipped with hangars, a drill hall, dormitories, dining halls and all the auxiliary buildings that go to make up a complete school. Some sixty million dollars will have been expended in building and paving air fields and in the erection of the necessary buildings. The programme has involved the use of practically all the grading, excavating and paving equipment in Canada, and has put a considerable strain on the resources of the construction industry. In addition, a number of operational airports have been constructed and extended.
Some five thousand aeroplanes are required for this programme and a large proportion of these are being constructed in Canada. From small beginnings our aircraft industry is being developed to sizeable proportions. Last week our factories delivered thirty-five finished aircraft. Eight Canadian aircraft companies have on hand orders totalling some thirty-eight hundred planes, of which some five hundred have been delivered. Early in 1941 we expect to be turning out three hundred and sixty planes per month, or about twelve planes per day, Sundays and holidays included.
As to types of planes, the present production includes Fleet Primary Trainer, Tiger Moth Trainer, Fleet 60 Advanced Trainer, Norseman, Harvard Trainer, Anson twin-engine trainer; and for fighting planes, Lysander, Hurricane fighter-I might say the Hurricane fighters are being turned out in tremendous volume and our production has been so successful that a new order for six hundred planes has recently come to Canada-the Bolingbroke bomber, Hampden bomber and the Stranraer flying boat.
We are now dependent upon importation of aeroplane engines, propellors and instruments, but arrangements are being made to manufacture these in Canada to meet future requirements. The manufacture of aeroplane engines and propellors is a very complex problem, involving new sources of raw material and a heavy outlay for machine tools. For that reason there has been some delay in placing these projects in hand. We have now advanced the material situation to a point where production is possible and the difficulty of purchasing abroad gives us little option but to provide for Canadian manufacture.
The supply of skilled labour for our aircraft industry is coming chiefly from our universities and technical schools, all of which are conducting special summer and winter courses directed towards increasing the supply. Every aircraft plant is a training school for mechanics and we have every confidence that labour requirements will continue to be met from these sources.
In the production of automotive equipment Canada is leading the world in volume. At present two of our automobile plants are producing about four hundred mechanized units per day. Canada alone has ordered motor vehicles to a total value of $65,000,000; all these will have been delivered by the end of this year. Great Britain, South Africa, India, Australia and other parts of the British Empire are also large buyers in this market. Canadian motor transport is acknowledged to be the best that has been produced in this war.
The production of Universal Carriers is well advanced, and deliveries will begin before the end of this year. These will be of Canadian manufacture throughout. The British Mark 111 tank is in process of production, with the objective of thirty tanks per month. A smaller tank that can be produced in large quantity has been developed by our own designing staff and will be in production before the end of this year.
Our gun programme includes the manufacture of LeeEnfield rifles, Bren machine-guns, Colt-Browning aircraft machine-guns, Smith & Wesson sub-machine-guns, twenty-five pounder quick-firing guns and carriages, 40 mm. Bofors and 3.7 anti-aircraft guns and mountings, two-pounder anti-tank guns and carriages, and 5.5-inch gun Howitzers and carriages. This programme of gun manufacture has in all cases involved the building of new plants. Our largest gun plant is for the manufacture of twenty-five pounder quick-firing guns and carriages and heavy naval guns, and will be in production before the end of this year. This will be one of the largest and most modern gun plants in the British Empire. The Bren gun plant is now delivering guns in substantial quantity and its original capacity is being doubled by plant expansion.
A new plant is being built for the fabrication of aeroplane bombs, while existing plants are tooling up to produce mines, depth charges and a variety of pyrotechnics.
We are producing shells and ammunition in rapidly increasing quantities, including practically every type of shell need in the present war, complete with fuses, gaines, tracers, primers, cartridge cases, copper tubes for driving bands; in fact, everything necessary to complete all types of shells. Orders placed in Canada for shells and components now exceed $100,000.000.
The production of small arms ammunition is being expanded rapidly. The pre-war capacity of the Quebec Arsenal has been multiplied by six. Privately owned plants are being enlarged and two new plants are under construction. Definite orders for small arms ammunition placed to date total some $19,000,000. The extensive use of machine-guns in this war has created an insatiable demand for this type of ammunition.
To provide explosives for a shell programme, Canada is building two large, new explosive plants, the first of which will come into production this month; and a third plant is being put in construction. These plants produce TNT, nitro-cellulose powder and rifle cordite. One large shell loading plant will be in production before the end of this year and a second is in process of construction. The total capital investment in explosive plants now under construction will reach about $60,000,000, exclusive of plants to manufacture the raw materials of explosives.
We are building a plant for the manufacture of secret war devices, such as optical glass, fire-control apparatus, predictors and sound-detecting apparatus, none of which has previously been made in Canada. The processes to be developed in this factory have all been worked out by our National Research Laboratories, to whose inventive genius Canada is indebted for a type of production essential to our munitions programme.
Our engineering division, in addition to its work on buildings for the Empire Air Training Plan, has placed large contracts for hutments for troops, coast-defence fortifications, buildings for new industrial plants and extensions for existing plants, aeroplane overhaul depots and a wide variety of less important projects, with the result that our building industry is working at its highest rate in history.
Our history purchasing division purchases clothing, boots, food and all personal equipment for the armed forces. Its purchases cover everything in large volume that the ordinary householder purchases in small volume, and a great deal more besides. So far it has made a fair job of having the necessary supplies in the right place at the right time, but in so doing an immense amount of detail has been involved. The magnitude of its operations exceeds that of any purchasing department ever organized in this country.
The supply of components for our explosives programme and raw materials for our aircraft and shell programme, has made necessary the building of large plants for the production of such chemicals as ammonia, ammonium-nitrate, sulphuric acid, hexaclorothane and one or two new chemicals not previously manufactured in the British Empire. These new chemical plants involve an investment of some $50,000,000. Some $40,000,000 have been invested in new capacity for the production of aluminum and aluminum products. I may say that capacity came into production last week.
Plans are being made by the British Government to build a new plant to take care of additional requirements for the year 1943, provided hydro-electric power can be assembled in sufficient quantity. Arrangements have been made to build a large plant for the production of magnesium, a metal similar to aluminum, largely used in the aircraft industry. A new plant, and an expansion to an existing plant, are being built for the manufacture of brass. The production of machine tools is being expanded by plant additions and many million dollars' worth of machine tools are being imported. Some thirty Canadian firms are now manufacturing gauges, involving precision workmanship to one ten-thousandths of an inch, and this programme is being further expanded.
This huge programme has created shortages in raw materials, the supply of which we have been accustomed to regard as unlimited. Every stick of dry lumber and timber is urgently required and there is difficulty in maintaining an adequate supply of aeroplane spruce lumber. A shortage of certain types of steel has developed already and will become steadily more acute. Wool and leather involve important supply problems. Non-ferrous metals, such as copper and zinc, and metals used as alloys with steel are difficult to obtain in adequate quantity. Hydroelectric power, which has been a surplus commodity for years and which is an essential source of energy for war time production, is developing a shortage. Petroleum products, which are largely imported, are constituting a severe drain on our supply of American dollars.
In order to mobilize these raw materials and to avoid unnecessary shortages, a Controller with extraordinary powers has been appointed to deal with each of the products I have named.
To illustrate the activities of these Controllers, I might mention the work of the Timber Controller, who has associated with himself a volunteer staff numbering about fifty. The Timber Controller has made available new sources of aeroplane spruce; has arranged for the purchase and distribution of practically every stick of dry lumber in Canada; has revised building specifications to permit the widest possible use of available lumber; and has taken steps to curtail all unnecessary use of lumber. The Timber Controller observed recently that the motor companies were purchasing large quantities of lumber for building export crates and arranged for the design of a cheaper crate, resulting in the saving of fifteen dollars per unit, which, on the sixty thousand units involved, results in a saving of $900,000, and the release of a large amount of lumber for other purposes. Each Controller, by an intimate study of the situation for which he is responsible, is bringing about a more efficient use of his product.
From this brief account of our work in obtaining munitions and supplies, you will have appreciated that immense sums of money are involved. Canadian purchases have already passed the three hundred million dollar mark, while British purchases in Canada for war materials, and exclusive of food and lumber, total some $125,000,000. Munitions plants completed or under construction account for about $165,000,000 in addition, bringing the total expenditures and commitments made by the Department of Munitions and Supply in the first year of the war to some $600,000,000. This is, of course, exclusive of payments to our troops at home and abroad and to their dependents, and other expenditures handled directly by the Defence Departments.
The staff of the Department of Munitions and Supply now numbers about six hundred, to which must be added the staffs of eight wholly-owned government corporations which have been formed with the purpose of decentralizing our activities and bringing into the work of the Department a large number of experienced business executives who, while unable to give their full time to the government service, are willing and able to contribute a considerable portion of their time in the direction of government-owned corporate enterprises. A large number of men and women engaged in this work are serving without salary, and many of them are paying their own living expenses while so serving. A very large number of men and women, many of them having outstanding qualifications, have offered their services and for them a suitable task has not been found.
There is, however, one task that is open to every man and woman in Canada, and that is the furnishing of the sums of money necessary to finance our munitions programme. Some eight months ago our Minister of Finance asked for subscriptions to a war loan in amount of $200,000,000, and the response was magnificent. Today he is asking for a subscription to a still larger war loan which must be subscribed in full if our war programme can continue to expand.
We are paying for this war by taxation and by borrowing. One of the outstanding evidences of the universal readiness of our people to pay for the war is the way in which our people have shouldered the load of taxation. Look back a year and compare the taxes which the people of this Dominion were paying then as compared with now. Income Tax has increased by as much as three or four times; and not only that, taxes are being paid by people who have never before paid a direct tax to the Federal Treasury. I think that the way in which the people have shown that they can "take it" is nothing short of phenomenal. I do not know what you call it, but I call it "morale". The business man has been hard hit through increased taxes. His rate has nearly doubled, and in addition to that the country taxes 75 percent of increased profits. Business today is being operated largely for the benefit of the government and business men are not complaining that this is so. In this time of war the emphasis has shifted from the individual to the nation and our purpose must be to strengthen and unify the fabric of our citizenship for the supreme task of helping to win the war.
Let us then purchase the new war bonds to the limit of our ability. The bonds are a good investment; certainly the safest investment that can be found. If the experience with the last loan can be repeated with this loan, our enemies can find no comfort in the Canadian situation.
Money is an important factor, but man-hours are even more important. We are building the best of equipment, but this cannot turn out munitions unless there are capable and willing workmen to operate the machines. When France collapsed and the fate of the British Empire seemed to hang in the balance, I called on the workmen of Canada to forego holidays and to work extra hours. The response was nothing short of magnificent. While I realize that our ability to turn out munitions is dependent on the co-operation of Labour, I have no worry on that score. This is every man's war and there are few that fail to appreciate the situation.
A contemporary American historian has recently pointed out the distinguishing characteristics of the British people, as follows
"They are stern in defence of their rights, but faithful in the performance of their duties. They are critical of their Government, and no nation is more fearlessly critical-but they rally in the defence of the common cause, because duties and rights are to them coequal and co-extensive-parts of the same thing-necessary to a sane national life."
This determination to defend and to fulfill duties and obligations is part of our Canadian heritage as well. We will accept the responsibilities that accompany the rights we are determined to retain. There are some things that can never die; the greatest of all is faith, faith in the power of humanity to determine its own destiny. It is the faith of free men, and in that faith we will live and work and pay, till victory is assured. (Applause-prolonged.)
MR. R. A. COURTICE: Having heard about some of our activity on the home front it is now our rare privilege to have the opportunity of hearing about some of the activity on the battle front from one of our own boys, a native of Lindsay, who has been on active service with the Royal Air Force since the outbreak of war. Flight Lieutenant Barton has seen a great deal of service. He has been through the Battle of Flanders and the memorable evacuation from Dunkerque, where he merited the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. I know that we are all tremendously proud to be able to pay our tribute here to one of our own brave young fliers, and that tribute may well be extended to all whom he so splendidly represents, to the Royal Air Force which against such odds has been thrilling the whole British Empire with its magnificent achievements, and to all of our own fighting forces on land and sea, as well as in the air, who voluntarily have gone overseas, prepared to risk their all in the defence of liberty and justice.
Gentlemen, our guest of honour has honoured us today by being here and I am now very proud to be able to introduce to you Flight Lieutenant Wallace Barton. (Loud cheers.)
FLIGHT LIEUTENANT WALLACE BARTON: Well, Gentlemen, while I am called brave and all that, this has made me feel actually rather nervous.
I was very fortunate in that I went to England in the early months of 1937, with the intention of joining the Royal Air Force, and as the result of two or three years' service I happened to be on the front line when war was declared. It is just a year ago now but I will never forget the feeling in the squadron when we knew that at last our chance had come. For years we had been training and we had been held back from something we wanted to get into. At last we knew the hour had come and our chance was at hand. Everyone, from the Commanding Officer down to the mechanics, felt very, very happy, very excited, and the day came when eventually we took off from England and headed out over the Channel and arrived in France. We had hoped to start fighting the clay we got there but we were rather disappointed for during the months of the winter in France we sat around, wondering when it was going to start.
On the morning of the 10th of May the flight of Heinkel bombers signified the beginning. They dropped some bombs on our aerodrome and we knew then that the day had come.
I was sent up into, Belgium and went to a small aerodrome near Brussels. The first real vision I had of the war at all was a drifting column of refugees. You have all heard much about the Belgian refugee columns. There have been photographs and no doubt newsreels of them. I am afraid I missed the newsreels and I am almost glad that I did. Nothing you have ever seen is quite like the real thing. I saw a column of refugees jamming a road over fifty miles long-the main road that runs west from Brussels. There were motor cars. The fortunate people who had motor cars were travelling down the road, surrounded by people in waggons, in wheelbarrows, with their goods and chattels, hurrying away from the invaders coming in from the east. They were terrified. They fled at the approach of any aircraft whether it had the red and blue insignia on the side of the fuselage or the well known black cross. Any aircraft was an enemy at that time. They fled and hid in ditches and hedges at the approach of any aircraft. Many times did I see German dive bombers, the now famous Stukas, wreck these columns. Possibly those German pilots were aiming at bridges or crossroads and the unfortunate refugees just happened to be there. Somehow, I rather doubt it!
We got into aerial combat rather at the beginning and when the army to the north of us began to retire and that German column came through into France on the south, we were left on the proverbial spot.
Their pilots are good. Their air squadrons always work very far forward. We work over our own lines and go behind enemy positions to try to find their organization. We used to make flights and fly for six German fighters at a time. Well, it sounds rather horrible, but they usually got in one another's way. They tried so hard--I will say that for them-but they just got in each other's way. They were just so over-confident that before they knew where they were they suddenly found they were minus one or two of their friends.
We were flying Westland Lysander aircraft. They are very good. I hope to fly nothing better. It is amazing the amount of punishment the British aircraft will stand. They used to get filled with lead and still fly. I have a friend who used to cover every bullet hole in his machine with a little red swastika. Eventually, the Commanding Officer had to stop him. He had so many red swastikas that he was spoiling the camouflage. It was becoming all red and he had to be stopped.
I should like to say a word about the ground crews. They never have the pleasure of actual combat themselves. They are doomed to sit on the ground and keep the aircraft running, but the more difficult things become, the happier they are. When we were working from open fields, with the aircraft just picketed down, they were working all night to get the aircraft serviceable for the morning and they asked nothing better than to be left alone to have the aircraft serviceable. It was a matter of pride with them that never should the squadron be held back because their aircraft were not ready. (Applause.) It was very touching, the pride that they would take in getting that aircraft in the air. I remember one of them, just before I was going up one day, removed his own St. Christopher medal from around his neck and climbing into the cockpit, bound the medal on a little silver chain to the rear sight of my machine-gun and said, "There, I hope, Sir, that will do some good." That was very touching and it looks as though that spirit were going on in the Service at this moment.
Nothing, I say, has bucked up the spirit of the British Army as much as the Battle of France and Flanders. The infantry did a magnificent job. Our odds were only six to one-to be more or less fair. Their's were ten to one, at least.
I remember that the last morning I was in France the Germans caught up rather quickly and as they were pushing through the woods on the south side of the aerodrome, we had to go. When I last saw one Second-Lieutenant and his small detachment of men, they were getting out of their motor lorries, taking their Bren guns and going forth to meet these tanks. I hope they eventually got back to Dunkerque--I don't know. They were just not beaten. No one was beaten. I saw some of them coming away from Dunkerque and I never saw anyone more loathe to leave a position in my life. They were expressing in very lurid language their opinion of the Germans and everything German-and what they would do when eventually they got back to France. They had their rifles. Their ammunition was gone but they were carrying their arms back with them. There was a great loss of material in the retreat from Belgium, but that was no gain to the Germans. Everything was destroyed. The British Army left nothing behind of any use to another power. (Applause.)
The last trip I had in France was in the evening from Dunkerque. As far as you could see, in every direction, towns and villages were on fire. It made night flying rather easy because there were flames from every quarter of the heavens except the west where the black Channel lay. Flames lit up every quarter of the heavens with a very lurid glow as far as one could see. The oil tanks were burning at Dunkerque and as far east as Amiens the sky was one patch of flames after another as the German Army advanced. The troops that came back from Dunkerque brought that tale with them. They instilled that spirit into England, if it had been lacking before, and from the evacuation of Dunkerque came, I think, one of the greatest boosts to the spirit of England today. I left England not very long ago and I can assure you no country in the world is further from being beaten than England is today. Everyone is making an effort. No one is exempt from the law of "we will keep him from our shores".
I say, when a country as fond of sport as England is, will willingly plough up its golf courses to prevent enemy transports from landing there, they really must be serious.
There were many Canadians that I met in France. Some, like myself, had gone over before. I met in England the first squadron, 110 Squadron, of this city. The welcome extended to any Canadian in England is astounding. It seems that a reputation was left for us by the Canadian pilots in the last war. I may say, they make it very difficult for us because they put up such a good show that we are expected to live up to it and it is very difficult to live up to such a record.
Any Canadian is welcome. They say they have no doubts about the Canadians at all, that they can expect from them something rather more than they will get from anyone else. I hope that those Canadian pilots of the last war who are in Canada now will approve of the effort being made by their successors in England and France today. (Applause.)
And now I am serving in Canada, at one of the training stations of the Royal Canadian Air Force. I have made many friends here and the spirit is astounding. Everyone wants to be in England now. No one wants to be here at all. They say, "Why are we here? Why can't we go?" That is a splendid spirit. That is just what England expects and that is what they are getting, and I want to say, as I close, I hope that I may have the honour of going back to England some day with the Canadian pilots that I have met here in Canada. (Applause--prolonged.)
THE HONOURABLE G. HOWARD FERGUSON: (President of The Empire Club): Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: It is my privilege to have the opportunity of expressing the very warm appreciation of this large gathering for the interesting and informative talks we have listened to, today. I am sure Mr. Howe will forgive me if I make reference first to Flight Lieutenant Barton. He spoke of the thrill and the satisfaction that came to him and to the others in the Air Force, but he has no idea of the thrill and the pride that occupied every heart in Canada because of their heroic achievements as partners of the great organization that is endeavouring to prevent the destruction of civilization.
We are glad to have you back, Commander Barton, glad to have the benefit of your experience and knowledge available to those who will have to follow you, as they will in very large numbers. We are very, very grateful to you for coming here today.
Now, may I say a word about my friend, Mr. Howe, the man who tosses hundreds of millions of dollars about so nimbly that he seems to have a real job on his hands. I would like to say to him that our people are not concerned so much with the hundreds of millions made available, nor with the taxation we have to bear to maintain this war. What we want is speed and victory. (Applause.) I think every loyal subject in Canada realizes the importance of victory, not only to British arms, but victory for the whole civilized world, because that one little island holds on high today the torch that was caught from falling hands and they are the only people in the world who are respecting the admonition that was given by the men that are buried in Flanders and France. They are not fighting alone for themselves. They are fighting alone to save the world and they are entitled to expect the greatest possible support at least from the various sections of the Empire. We have a duty to Great Britain. If one looks back over history since the earliest days, one cannot but realize that our proud position, the possibilities for development and expansion, the great opportunities that are provided in this country for men willing to work, have been accorded us, have been secured to us by the British people. (Applause.)
Our friends to the south of us say that their first line of defence is in the British Channel and the North Sea and we realize, as they do, that our existence for many years and our prosperity in an economic way, has been entirely dependent upon the protection we have had from a Navy provided by the taxpayers of Great Britain.
I am sure, Mr. Howe, there is not a loyal citizen in this country-and if there are any disloyal they should be interned-there is not a loyal citizen in this country but what will endorse the utmost effort you make to provide the maximum of support for the armies that fight for our own protection, our own liberty and security.
It has been a great privilege to have Mr. Howe here today. (Applause.) In a very business-like way he has given us some idea of the scope and the enormity of the task he has in hand and the burden he has assumed. Hundreds of millions? Yes, if it will assure victory, Canada is prepared to be taxed to the very limit. And when we talk about taxation, Gentlemen, look at the record across the sea and see what it means in the little, foggy, hidden island, what they are paying, not for themselves alone but for the cause that we hold dear, as they clothe very high principles that govern civilization and which actuate the life of the people in the various parts of the Empire.
Mr. Howe says he is sure of victory and he should know something of the situation, of what conditions are and what the outlook is, from his position in a sister government. Sure of victory? I never had the slightest doubt of it in the world and I rely upon the spirit and the character of the people who are standing up for righteousness against the attack of the evil one.
We are grateful indeed to you, Mr. Howe, for coming here today. All I can say to you is: "Speed up your effort; produce as quickly as you can; supply everything you think is necessary and Canadians will gladly pay the bill."
What would life be worth if we were not permitted to live under conditions and be guided by principles which we now enjoy? What would life be worth if the little island across the sea were destroyed or overrun by the barbarian baby killers, slaughtering ruthlessly in an effort to terrorize the world. One cannot contemplate because one cannot have any conception of the situation that would follow. All the world is alarmed about it today. The war is not over but victory is assured and with that end in view we are willing to pay, pay, pay, and our boys are willing, in the tens and hundreds of thousands, to fight, fight, fight. We will bear our full share in a glorious cause that will save to the world the right to live, to exercise individual judgment, to enjoy the fruit of our own genius and our own labour, the right to talk and speak and worship as our conscience and our judgment may dictate. All these things are the most precious things in life today and we are fighting to preserve them. No effort should be spared.
We have now the co-operation of our friends to the south of us. (Applause.) We are to have an examination and a report made by a joint Commission which after exercising the best judgment, will say just what is necessary to protect from invasion this North American continent. I don't suppose that we will have any economic union. But I do think the fight is being made on their behalf just as much as ours and it is due and proper that they should feel a sense of their responsibility and cooperate in destroying the enemy.
They will give us all the supplies and all the help they can-and we will get priority over the ordinary business orders. That will be a great help to us in our effort.
I congratulate you, Mr. Howe, for you have shown us that you have in you the courage, aye, the stuff that men are made of. (Applause.)