MAPLE LEAF UP OR MAPLE LEAF DOWN
AN ADDRESS BY
MAJOR GENERAL D. C. SPRY, C.B.E., D.S.O.
Chairman: The President, Mr. Thos. H. Howse
Thursday, November 11th, 1948
HONOURED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
It hardly seems possible that three decades have passed since the First World War was brought to a victorious conclusion and that today is the thirtieth anniversary of
Armistice Day. Since then a Second World War has intervened, which is responsible for November 11th now being observed as Remembrance Day, the one day in the year when all good Canadians pause from their daily tasks to render silent homage to those who paid the supreme sacrifice that we and our children might continue to live and enjoy our freedom.
It therefore seemed most appropriate that on Remembrance Day our guest speaker should be a man with an outstanding record of service to Canada in the last war.
Our guest of honour today is Major-General D. C.' Spry who served with great distinction in the last war and was promoted to the rank of Major-General at the age of 31, at which time he was the youngest officer in the British Commonwealth to attain that high rank.
In 1946 he was appointed Vice-Chief of the General Staff, a position he relinquished to become Chief Executive Commissioner of the Scout Movement in Canada.
Major-General Spry was born in Winnipeg and incidentally he is the son of a Major-General; he was educated in England and Canada and is a graduate of Dalhousie University.
It now affords me very great pleasure to introduce Major-General D. C. Spry, C.B.E., D.S.O., who has chosen as his subject "Maple Leaf Up or Maple Leaf Down."
Maple Leaf Route was the main axis route of First Canadian Army. I don't suppose there is a soldier in the Canadian Army Overseas who did not see those famous signs--so well placed--so helpful--one felt at home. The "Up" Route led to the forward areas--to battle and to victory--up this route moved Canada's contribution to victory in Europe. Canada's present position in the world today requires decision as to the Route towards Peace--will it be Maple Leaf Up--or Maple Leaf Down?
On this 11th November we cannot fail to think upon those bloody clays and nights through which Canadians fought in two world wars. Usually the unpleasant inci dents fade into the misty edges of our memory leaving clearly focussed in the centre only those amusing, gay, happy moments which old soldiers recall with embellishments at reunions. It was well said that a "soldier's life is one of long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of intense fright". But today I can only think of some of the occasions that are fast fading into the mists
Donald Woodruff caught one such moment in his poem--"Night Attack"
The Dark Angel and I met as the long hand was vertical. The barrage moved up with little mincing steps and we followed. We crept forward through the Italian mud on our foreign bellies. The flares made low constellations. Then the Dark Angel touched the grenades at my belt, saying, "Send these after me--I will be up ahead."
I did as he bade.
We took the emplacement together.
And the officers and men whose citations end with "This action was in the highest tradition of the Canadian Army"-do they not think of their pals-dead and living spread across ten countries of the world?
Yes--this is a day to think on.
Let us therefore think upon the theme "Maple Leaf Up-Maple Leaf Down". We have fought two parts of one war--must we have a third? What part can Canada play in the decision?
Canada came of age during the first war, but gained maturity and the respect of other nations during the last war. We now have an active voice in world affairs--in U.N.--in its agencies--in the Empire and Commonwealth--and in North America.
We have made an audience for ourselves by our phenomenal contribution to World War II. Our interests-selfish and altruistic-reach round the world. People listen with respect when Canada's representatives speak in the conference of nations-with respect not only for the able diplomats themselves-but respect for the potential and real power for good which Canada wields.
Mr. Churchill has said that Canada is the "linch-pin" of the English-speaking world. When history is written it will show we have played our part well since 1939. We can be and are acting as the "linch-pin".
But now we find ourselves in a position where we must do more than talk peace-time co-operation. We are discussing an Atlantic Pact which we are told will mean that U.S., Canada, and U.K. will guarantee the freedom from aggression of the Western European democracies. North America--the New World--to guarantee the safety of the old world from possible Communist assault!
The idea is intriguing--but what does it mean? It means that those countries who join in the Entente will accept the D'Artagnon principle: of "one for all and all for one". Surely this must make sense--is it not better to strengthen and support one another in the face of a threat? History and the recent experience of two World Wars has made an impression on Canadian thinking. This is apparently the wish of the Canadian people--there has been practically no opposing comment on recent reports. We have come to realize that in world affairs "when a rat teases a cat-you can count on it-he is leaning against a hole".
Canada's strategic position in the land and sea masses of the world, her traditional ties with the Commonwealth, Europe and America--all make the possibility of a defensive neutrality in a future war extremely hazardous. Therefore, we seem to have brought ourselves to the logical solution of collective security--in the face of ever-increasing failures to bring understanding and co-operation out of the tedious and numerous discussions with "the Bear behind the ice cap".
What does participation in such a pact mean in terms of policy? It means a history-making event for Canada--we are apparently prepared to commit ourselves for the first time to a definite peace-time defensive alliance. In terms of defence policy one must also ask where the forces and material are to come from? Are we to build something more than our meagre forces now available? If so--how? Are we to recommence in a large way the manufacture of war materials? Are we prepared to pay the price in money and men? Will we not be bound to do so as part of such a pact or alliance? In other words, have we not now reached the stage in our international experience where we must "put up or shut up"?
Here we find ourselves again at Maple Leaf up-or Maple Leaf Down. If we are really prepared to play our full share in the maintenance of peace, order and stability in the world then we are on the route "Maple Leaf Up"-if not-we are on "Maple Leaf Down", and we should not expect to have too much to say in the decisions of the next few years concerning the pace and direction in which the affairs of the world may move. If we take this route we must be prepared to follow events instead of helping to shape them.
Canon Scott saw something of what the present situation holds for us as individuals and as a nation.
THE UNBROKEN LINE
"Let us not lose the exalted love which came From comradeship with danger and the joy Of strong souls kindled into living flame
By one supreme desire, one high employ. Let us draw closer in these narrow years, Before us still the eternal visions spread. We, who outmastered death and all its fears, Are one great army still-living and (lead."
For the sake of those we remember this 11th of November--for the sake of those who came back to search for peace--and for the sake of young Canadians of the future--let us choose with care and wisdom whether our route is
MAPLE LEAF UP-OR MAPLE LEAF DOWN.