ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE BENEFICENT EFFECT OF BRITISH RULE
AN ADDRESS BY MAJ.-GEN. SIR MENUS 0'KEEFFE
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
November 29, 1922.
THE PRESIDENT, Sir William Hearst, introduced the speakers.
MR. HOGG presented a motion from the Executive Committee suggesting names for the nominating committee. The motion was carried.
SIR MENUS O'KEEFE was received with applause and said:--I am very proud to sit between two such loyal sons of the Empire as Sir Wm. Hearst and Mr. Penfold, who I understand has made millions of shells for the British Empire. One of the main objects of this Club is to draw the bonds of union closer together between the Mother Country and the more distant parts of the Empire, and this great object has the sympathy and support of my friend, Sir Robert Baird, and myself. We pride ourselves in the British Empire on our freedom of every kind, religious as well as civil, with which nobody is allowed to interfere.
I will give you an illustration of the beneficent effects of British rule. In 1882 I went to Egypt when the country was in open rebellion. It was practically a desert. About a quarter of a mile on each side of the Nile was watered in primitive fashion by means of a pole at one end and bucket at
Major-Gen. Sir Menus O'Keeffe, M.D., LL.D., was educated at Queen's University, Ireland; served in Egypt, 1882; North West Frontier, 1908; European War, 1914-17; mentioned in despatches seven times; C.B., K.C.M.G., Legion of Honour, First Class Order of St. Anne with swords. He was director of Medical Services with the Fourth British Army in France under Lord Rawlinson.
the other. The peasantry or fellaheen were ground down under the iron heel of the Pashas, and of the little profit they made from their small patches of land ninety percent was taken from them by the Pashas. We were obliged to take over the country because it was the high road to India.
Just before the war I went out to inspect Egypt, and I saw an extraordinary difference. Great dams had been built; irrigation had been installed; the desert had been turned into a fertile plain, and the whole country was a smiling garden; the fellaheen had grown content, and it was a great thing to see this magnificent country under the beneficent rule of Great Britain, and the peasants happy and contented.
In travelling through America I was greatly pleased at the warmth and friendly feeling towards our beloved Empire as shown by the people of the United States, particularly at Los Angeles, where we were entertained by the Advertising Club and two hundred people, where we saw an avenue composed of two rows of flags, the Union Jack on the one side and the Stars and Stripes on the other, and meeting in the centre. (Applause) This was to us a very happy omen of the emblematic union of these two great English-speaking countries, which hold the same high ideals of civilization, the same religion and the same language; and I breathed a prayer that this union might ever remain, and that they might unite for the happiness and prosperity of this poor distracted world. (Hear, hear)
I was over in Ireland for two months just before coming to this side, and found Belfast, with its 410,000 inhabitants, very busy building ships; it is a city famous in peace and war. I am pleased to tell you that everything was in first-rate order in Belfast. They had their own police, and they searched everyone coming in for arms, but there was nothing else to interfere with your liberty. Everything seemed quiet, the country was prosperous, and trade was improving. They had what was called the curfew, and if you looked out of your hotel window at a quarter to eleven at night you saw crowds of people on the street, and about five minutes before eleven everybody had to be in their houses, and anybody caught out after that hour was brought before the magistrate, or perhaps had to spend the night in jail. Armoured cars were running on the streets, but there was no traffic, so they were able to get around the city and see that everything was safe at night. This custom was very unpopular amongst the men, but otherwise with the ladies, who said they saw more of their husbands than ever before, and I think it might possibly be introduced with advantage here. (Laughter) We took trips driving all around Ulster in a private car, so I can give good reports of the northern part of the country and how it is working. In the south the picture is not so pleasant to dwell on, for every man's hand there seems to be turned against every other, and a great number of lawabiding people have been obliged to leave. At first it was a religious war, but now it is Bolshevism and Socialism, trouble being created by people who want to take money at the point of a revolver without working for it. As this is the part of the country where I was born the subject is rather painful to me, but the Free State has adopted rather strong measures recently to maintain law and order, and the situation does look better.
I have been greatly pleased with the opportunity of visiting Toronto. We drove out to your Exhibition, and it certainly was to me a wonderful revelation. Your beautiful buildings, which are so magnificent, must certainly be among the largest in the world, and I was struck dumb with admiration at the wonderful products I saw--the display of fruit, garden and dairy produce, together with all the latest machinery for agriculture, motor cars, also those wonderful black foxes, of which I would have liked a pair, but they told me they would cost $2,000, which was beyond my purse. (Laughter) When I saw the wonderful display of horses and the well organized assembly I said that here we had indeed lusty and loyal and worthy sons of the British Empire, and I thought to myself that at no distant date they would equal or surpass their parents and be a credit to the Great Empire which we all love so much.
I have had the great pleasure in Toronto of meeting some old friends who served with me in France. My oldest was General Cartwright; I knew him when he was a very young officer, and he took a very prominent part at the front, being Chief Engineer of Divisions and Corps, and becoming a General. He often helped me, because the R.M.C. had a great deal to do with the Royal Engineers, and we managed our business very amicably; we never wrote letters, and he helped me in peace-time in India, and in wartime out in France. I also met Colonel Ford of the R.M.C., who narrowly escaped, and was wounded. He was a splendid surgeon in the Canadian Corps. Before he arrived my old friend Major Lockwood, who was principal surgeon in No. 36 Clearing Station, did magnificent work during those four years. I have great pleasure in testifying to a man who served me so loyally, and served Canada so well. (Applause)
There are two events in connection with the service of the Canadian Corps which made them immortal; those are the capture of Vimy Ridge and the last hundred days of the war. They had a reputation for keeping what they took. The Germans threw their whole strength into the task of taking Vimy Ridge, but for three years it was solidly held and not a foot lost. I came into contact with the Canadian Corps during the latter part of the war, for I was responsible for the medical arrangements of the Corps, and owing to the steady resistance with which they fought the Germans to a standstill it was impossible for the enemy to overcome them. The Canadian troops formed what are called storm troops, and took a very important part in the operations, and you know of the brilliant attack which drove the Germans back to the border, when the larger guns and ammunition were captured, the Canadian Corps taking a leading part in that movement.
The war is now over, but we are far from peace yet. There are many troubles before this Empire of ours. The forces of disaster are particularly Bolshevism and Socialism, and it is just as important that the loyal sons of the Empire- should stand shoulder to shoulder now in peace-time as they did in war-time, in order to defeat those destructive forces. (Applause) I think Canada has set a glorious example in this respect. I have enjoyed very much my visit to this city, and I hope it may be my good fortune to return. I thank you for your kindness and your hospitality today. (Loud applause)