War With the Blinds Down
Publication:
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 14 Dec 1939, p. 193-209


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Snider, C.H.J., Speaker
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Text
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Speeches
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"War With the Blinds Down" what the speaker saw in Poland, Danzig, Finland, Holland and Britain last year and last spring, and what he saw in the last three months. Neutral profiteers and other cynics perhaps amending this to "War With the Brakes On." The speaker's response to such cynicism, and his opinion of Canada's war effort. Why outsiders might think the war effort is being held back. The situation in Finland, and in Britain. The lack of understanding as to who is fighting and why. What Hitlerism has done; the need to shoot Hitlerism and shoot to kill. Britain's war aims nobly and truthfully expressed. The need to accompany that with action. This blinds-down war leaving us open to the worst misconstructions by our enemies, our honest neighbours, and our own people. Valiant efforts by the British navy. 100 days of war just the beginning. Time needed to obliterate the German navy. Preparing Britain for gas attacks. Much light still to be shed on what went on in the last five years; much darkness to be dissipated. Effects of running a "blinds down" war on the people. Good reasons in Britain for control of volunteer enthusiasm. The issue of censorship during war. Abundant evidences of Britain at war as never before. Air Raid Precautions. Canadians helping out in Britain. Britain's requirements. The speaker representing the "Telegram" in France as the first Canadian newspaper personally represented on the Western Front. Conditions in France. Understatements in the news. Limitations on reporting. The unified nature of Allied Command. Co-operation between the French and British Air Forces and navies. Speculation as to the immediate future of the war. Saving Britain first. A plea from the speaker not to discourage the war effort in Canada or delay the victory by pulling down the blinds unnecessarily.
Date of Original:
14 Dec 1939
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English
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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
WAR WITH THE BLINDS DOWN
AN ADDRESS BY MR. C. H. J. SNIDER
Chairman: The President, Dr. F. A. Gaby
December 14, 1939.

CHAIRMAN: Gentlemen: It is a distinct honour and pleasure to have with us today, as guest-speaker, Mr. C. H. J. Snider, one of Canada's outstanding journalists and writers. Mr. Snider has just returned from Europe, where he has been special correspondent for the Evening Telegram, and he was privileged to be the first Canadian newspaper representative to visit the western battle grounds. Mr. Snider is well known for his keen interest in yachting and sailing, and we are all familiar with his writings on the early history of Canadian ships. His early years were spent before the mast on lake schooners, which provided the background for many articles on nautical subjects that have proved of so much interest to Canadians.

Important events have been recorded by Mr. Snider as a feature of the Telegram. To mention a few: the crossing of the Atlantic by the R100, the Coronation, the Disarmament Conference, the events in Germany of 1934, the Easter crisis of 1939, and his recent observations overseas.

During the past year Mr. Snider has had an excellent opportunity of observing at close range the rapidly-changing events in Europe, the tremendous military preparations going forward, and the accomplishment made in such a short time.

We are familiar with the forceful manner in which Mr. Snider has so effectively painted the picture of changing conditions in Great Britain and Europe. Mr. Snider is a Canadian of United Empire Loyalist lineage, his people having come to Canada in 1797. He is at present Associate Editor and one of the Publishers of the Toronto Evening Telegram. I have much pleasure in introducing Mr. Snider, whose subject is "War with the Blinds Down". (Applause)

MR. C. H. J. SNIDER: Mr. Chairman, and Gentlemen of the Empire Club: These very flattering remarks that have preceded my uprising are happier in their conception and in their result, I trust, than those of which I heard while I was abroad, of a Nazi Chairman who was confronted with the problem of finding a speaker for the opening of a local Beer Hall in Germany. The various authorities of the place, on whom he relied, failed to turn up and someone suggested that Hitler was going to pass through-why not ask him to do it? The Chairman in fear and trembling approached Hitler's suite, and to his great joy and surprise the Fuehrer consented. So the Chairman, breathing hard after the narrow escape he had had from having no one at all, in introducing the distinguished speaker, as he hoped he would be, went on something like this: "Mein Fuehrer, I know very well that Sir Chamberlain and Sir Churchill are all what they are call it, in-listening, and I hope that you shall give them the full ear. Mein Fuehrer, someone less eminent, someone less eloquent, someone less respected, someone less honourable than yourself would have served very well for this auspicious occasion, but believe me, Mein Fuehrer, we searched all through Guzzleheim and we could find no such person!"

Then-as evidence of the thick-headedness of these Germans-the poor Chairman couldn't understand why he woke up in the morgue with his shirt full of Gestapo bullet holes.

This gathering is the result of the invitation of the Empire Club, cabled last April when I was in England on the Easter crisis, asking me to choose my subject and address you upon my return.

It is curious that with all the delay, and the plastic surgery being practised upon the face of the world since then, it has not been necessary to change the title of my intended remarks, "War With the Blinds Down". "War With the Blinds Down" was what I saw in Poland and Danzig and Finland and Holland and Britain last year and last spring, and "War With the Blinds down" is what I have seen in the last three months. I must leave to your opinion whether my eyesight or my insight need corrective lenses.

Neutral profiteers and other cynics might amend my title to "War With the Brakes On". In some of its activities, or lack of activity, the government of this Dominion may have excited such comment. It may not deserve it. I hope the government's deeds will refute it. Certainly the people of Canada do not deserve such a sneer. They are whole-heartedly engaged in a war effort, earnestly as never before, not even in the Great War when sixty thousand Canadians laid down their lives in the belief and the hope that this iniquity would never again be visited upon the earth.

The people of Canada will not tolerate brakes upon their generous zeal in the defense of liberty, their own liberty and the liberty of the world. Nor is the Empire (with the exception of Eire) nor Britain, nor France, nor Poland, nor Finland, holding back one atom of energy in the will to win the war and keep the world a decent place for decent people to live in.

Yet to outsiders it may look as though we were holding back. To their credit I record it, not one Polish refugee whom I have interviewed-and I have seen them from Sikorski, the new President, to whiskered Jews with all they have saved in a red cotton handkerchief-not one of them has hinted at the belief that Britain has pulled her punches or let her little ally down; though we have not yet done one thing to save Poland from being sawn asunder. We didn't because we couldn't. But we are fighting to put the pieces together again.

The war which began four years ago in Abyssinia and Spain has developed into a world affray, but still the world does not quite know who is fighting whom or why. Finland

is one belligerent with blinds up, colours flying, bands playing a national anthem of anti-tank and anti-aircraft fire. There is no doubt about Finland's war aims and war enemy. Finland is fighting for her life, says so, and calls on the world to help her.

With equally good cause, and as simple a reason for fighting, we have not made the British position as plain. Half the world half suspects us-wholly falsely-of designs of imperialistic expansion and mercantile monopoly, when the plain truth is we have gone into battle to save ourselves from being robbed and murdered as we have seen others robbed and murdered. Hitlerism has exploited and exploded the League of Nations, asphyxiated Denmark, paralyzed Sweden and Norway, and flung Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the babes of the Baltic, to the Russian bear. Hitlerism has in the last five years robbed and murdered hundreds of thousands of individuals and many nations in Europe-Loyalist Spain, the Jews, the Germans themselves, the Austrians, the Czechs, the Slovaks, the Poles. To save ourselves from the same fate we have to shoot Hitlerism and shoot to kill.

Our peace aim has to be down the sights of machine guns and it must not miss. When a man sees a malefactor jimmying the nursery window after cutting his neighbour's throat, his duty is to shoot first and explain all about his aim afterwards to the coroner.

Britain's war aims have been nobly and truthfully expressed as to the discountenancing of aggression and the restoration of security for the weak against the strong. They would get more credit with the world if preceded or accompanied by the blasting of every submarine base and minelayer's nest from the shores of the North Sea and of the Baltic, and with TNT, not pamphlets.

This takes some doing and the sooner we do it the better for ourselves and the better for the rest of the world. I know that here we trench on war strategy, wherein the man who pays the shot is notoriously incompetent to do the shooting. Nelson didn't let Napoleon keep him out of the Baltic, although he had a blind eye and only wooden sailboats to take him in. Hitler couldn't keep the Polish destroyers, Lightning, Hurricane and Squall, and the Polish submarines, Eagle and Osprey in the Baltic, and I, for one, cannot see why he should be able to keep our navy and air force out. There may be excellent reasons. This blinds-down war leaves us open to the worst misconstructions by our enemies, our honest neighbours, and our own people.

The British navy has done valiantly in the war. In the first two months its convoy system brought three thousand ships into port with the loss of only seven. Of all British ships at sea, ninety-nine per cent reach port safely, whereas of all German ships at sea only one per cent get home. Give our navy full marks for that. We have lost over two thousand sailors without the satisfaction of one fair standup fight, until yesterday. The courage and daring of our small, lightly armed cruisers in hounding a heavily gunned pocket battleship into the temporary refuge of a neutral port is beyond all praise. Yet, here again, we suffered from the blinds being down, for the first intimation the world had of this brilliant feat was the bulletin, circulated in the United States, that a great naval battle was taking place off the coast of Uruguay and that the British cruiser Achilles had been damaged. The Admiralty in London gave no confirmation and no information. A spokesman said, "It can be said definitely that there is no truth to reports that the cruiser Achilles has been sunk by a German warship off the Uruguayan coast". If that is not a masterpiece of understatement, bring on the next.

We shall obliterate the German navy, but it takes time. We have only finished a hundred days of war. But, if we must keep out of the Baltic because we are not yet strong enough to go in, and if our merchant ships must run the hazards of bubble mines and magnetic mines and pocket battleships and submarine's torpedoes for another hundred days and another hundred days-then I heartily endorse W. J. Stewart, M.P.P.'s condemnation of sneers at Canada's "tinpot" navy. Whether our navy is nickle-plated or galvanized iron, it is already relieving the overworked British navy of many vital patrol duties. The most effective immediate assistance Canada could give in this war would be to build, equip and man a thousand "tinpot" trawlers and minesweepers and put them to work on our own eastern and western approaches and on the eastern and western approaches to the British Isles.

Behind the blinds of the Chancellories of Europe, five years ago, more than a prayer meeting was going on. When privileged to report the jubilee of King George the Fifth, in 1935, 1 was saddened to have to mingle, with my accounts of that great thanksgiving ceremonial, details of instructions to the whole population of Britain on how to provide a gas-proof room for every household. And, if you want to know what the gas business means in England, I have brought along, not a spare lunch, as it looks, but the gas mask I was issued with when I left the shores of Canada on a British ship and which I had to have with me wherever I went in London, because I could not get service of any kind any place without it. While you may believe all your Chairman has said about my charm of character and other things, you really don't know how handsome I am until you have seen me in a gas mask. (Mr. Snider demonstrated the method of wearing the gas mask.)

Another thing I had to report at the time of King George's jubilee was the new flying fields where bombers would come down all the way from Scotland in three hours and swoop upon imaginary targets like thunderbolts shooting from heaven. Even a newspaperman could see that a great and wholly peace-loving king and people were being forced to defend their lives against undeclared foes while nominally at peace with all the world.

What went on in the last five years, while the ideal of open covenants openly arrived at and openly kept faced from view, is now being brought out by the searchlight of events. And still there is much light to be shed, much darkness to be dissipated.

Who was fighting whom, while the world was filled with the blah of Hitler's anti-comintern protestations, and professions of devotion to the Berlin-Rome axis? While the blinds were down he stabbed and strangled nation after nation until he apparently disgusted Mussolini and attracted Stalin's admiration or envy or both.

What had any of his victims done to him or to Germany? Now who are his enemies, and who are his allies? In which class does Russia stand, and for how long? How near did he come to embroiling Britain with her traditional friends? Does he himself know now whither he will turn? Or has Stalin been the Machiavelli all the time and Hitler his fool? Have we to come to his help? The blinds are still down but the sun is searching through. When I speak of this war with the blinds down, I do not suggest that Britain has been a willing party to a war in the dark which has scarred Africa, Asia and Europe and wrecked the business of the world. And if she is now fighting a war with the blinds down it is not of choice but of necessity. This war is not of our making-and if we are too proud to admit that we have to fight, we are at least not too proud to do the fighting, even under the handicaps of blackouts.

The effect upon our own people can be judged by a recent illustration in Picture Post, an English magazine of the calibre, say, of Life.' It shows a photograph of a woods so dark only the outline of a few leaves is visible Against the sky. But there shines out an imaginary signboard, reading: "Keep out. This is a private war. The War Office, the Admiralty, the Air Ministry, and the Ministry of Information are engaged in a war against the Nazis. They are on no account to be disturbed. Nothing is to be photographed. No one is to come near.

"BY ORDER"

Such a notice is entirely fictitious, just a loyal publication's sarcasm over being unable to get or print good British war pictures. If it were true, there would still be much to be said in favour of not disturbing the War Office, the Admiralty and the Air Ministry in the prosecution of their arduous and exacting task. But adherence to a blinds. down policy, and encouragement of it by secret sessions of the House of Commons, such as yesterday, damages our cause inside and out. It makes people forget that this war is YOUR business and MY business and THEIR business, a business of life and death for all of us. The sign should read "COME ON IN", not "KEEP OUT". Come on in and hang up your hat and take off your coat.

There are good reasons in Britain for control of volunteer enthusiasm. Patriotism, or the evidence of it, is no longer the patriot's own. The minstrel boy can no longer rush to war with his wild harp slung behind him. Men in soft black hats and striped trousers, uniform of the land army of officials, will tell him: "There is no provision for harpists in the establishment of the musical organizations of the combatant forces. You will have to apply to the entertainment section of the land army reserve, stating (a) Qualifications, (b) Previous service, if any, and (c) Certification of release by the Labour Exchange controlling instrumentalists."

Yet there is hope for the minstrel boy. Noel Coward is in the Admiralty, a hitherto unsuspected Nelson. He arranges entertainments.

Where the fictitious notice does bite and bite hard is in the inclusion of the Ministry of Information in the blackout. This well-intended weapon for winning the war started off with a highly paid staff of 999 admirals, dietitians, missionaries, college professors and others known to Members of Parliament. It collapsed by its own weight of brains. The staff has been cut in two and it functions better than before. It had possibilities and realized some of them. I found it courteous and sometimes helpful, but my first experience of its operation may have prejudiced me against it.

I wanted to send the Telegram, by air mail, an account of a funeral at sea. If I had cabled it I would have submitted it to the censorship directly and in thirty minutes it would have been cleared and in Toronto. The censorship in the United Kingdom is eminently fair, gives immediate decisions, will telephone you if there is anything which cannot be passed and will even suggest amendments which would be acceptable. For the censorship in Canada to pass upon what has already been passed by the censorship of Britain is a sheer superfluity. Well, air mail stories had to go through the Ministry of Information, and so to the Ministry of Information I went with mine.

"You have to have a pass to enter the building", I was told. I got a pass to the Ministry, through the Newspaper Proprietors' Association and the Empire Press Union.

I showed this pass to a uniformed Commissionaire. He waved me through the portals of a building, larger than the Canada Life on University Avenue, which the Ministry had pre-empted. A group of uniformed bell-boys met me within. They passed me on to an exceedingly polite group of press liaison officers. One listened sympathetically to my requirements and volunteered to conduct me to the censorship department. Here another exceedingly polite gentleman told me the regular censorship officer had gone for the day. I explained that the air mail would close within twelve hours, and in these special circumstances he volunteered to have my despatch read this same evening. After keeping it for half an hour he returned and said there was nothing objectionable in it, and that the department would see that it was mailed, as I had brought along the necessary stamped and addressed air mail envelope. He sealed the envelope and affixed a sticker marked "Passed by the Censor". I repeated the necessity of it getting into the air mail then closing, and he insisted that the Ministry could and would see that this was done. So, with some hesitation I left it with him. It reached Toronto all right, -two weeks later. It should have taken two days at most. Hence my glowing tribute to the air mail, the postal service and the Ministry of Information.

I regret to report I still have several things I would like to say if I have time.

I heard the declaration of war as I eavesdropped in the twilight of seven o'clock Sunday morning, September 3rd, outside a little home someone had built away up Dufferin Street, past the flying fields, to escape city taxes. There was Mr. Chamberlain's deep rumble from over the seas, and then a child's high-pitched question, "Daddy, what does that mean?" the father answered, "It means we have to help."

So I consulted my fellow Trustees in the Telegram, Messrs. C. O. Knowles, Douglas Robertson and A. T. Chadwick, whom you have so graciously invited to give me countenance this day, and with their approval I started on a double mission. First, to help England in any way possible; probably by carrying one end of a stretcher, for I knew that with the first air raids they expected terrific casualties in London. And, second, to help Telegram readers by reporting what could be reported and interpreting what could be interpreted. I say without boasting, and with profound respect for our valued readers, that we all put the idea of helping England first. Lloyds would not at this time risk their pounds against my life and Mr. Chadwick's dollars. I had to travel without insurance. I tried for an air passage but found they were booked to past the end of the month. I had two offers of American steamers, but I have the feeling that if I must drown I would rather drown in company with fellow Britons than in the company of however desirable neutrals. So I got to England as fast as I could in the first British ship out of Canada.

I found London in pitch darkness, but not in ruins. I must confess to a little disappointment, for after screwing one's courage up to face torpedoes and mines and bombs for three weeks, on the water, one would like to have something to show for it on the land. Yet I am not ashamed to say that I thanked God on my knees that here had been, so far, no use for the extensive preparations which had been made for evacuating the Capital and for caring for casualties by the hundred thousand. That need may come tomorrow, but I pray, as we all pray, that it will never come.

There were abundant evidences of Britain at war as never before. The great station where I arrived was so dark one could not distinguish faces. There were no porters or red-caps. We had to find our baggage as best we could in what is called the luggage van, and get it out for ourselves, and then capture taximen in the dark and get it loaded. I had brought some flashlights along, and with these did my first, and I am afraid almost my best war work, as an amateur red-cap and baggage smasher.

All that could be seen of London streets that first night was that the walls were still standing. Every building seemed utterly deserted. Lights gleamed from none.

Canada's Chief Trade Commissioner, who had crossed with me, was overjoyed to find that his Department, from which he had not heard for three weeks, had not been evacuated. My accustomed hotel, usually crowded, was half empty. There was as much formality about registration as there had been when I was in Germany last April. I had to produce my passport and fill in blanks for the police, and another form for the national registration and another for my ration book.

All the curtains in all the rooms were heavy and closely pinned together so that not one ray of light could escape. There were notices about not discussing anything which might be of national importance, and red arrows pointing in all directions but upwards.

My nightcap from the Management was this notice in red ink

"AIR RAID PRECAUTIONS"

"In event of an air raid warning, please obey the following instructions: Switch off all lights and proceed to the refuges in basement by following indicating arrows, painted red."

This was almost as helpful towards a good night's rest as the red arrows would have been towards showing the way in the dark.

By day I found London one great, trenched, sandbagged and unarmed camp. There were sandbags everywhere, from the roof of Canada House and the tombs in Westminster Abbey to the first storey of every police station. All sorts of sandbag erections were on the sidewalks and sometimes in the streets. There were air raid shelters, it seemed, every hundred yards, some in parks where trenches had been dug and concreted, some under arches and subways, but the great majority just the basements or store-rooms of business houses.

Overhead were dozens of shining silver blimps from which dangled wires for the confusion of enemy aircraft. These are the same floating air armada used to protect the naval base at the Firth of Forth and elsewhere. The blimps were anchored to tow-trucks. Sometimes they were so high they were invisible above the clouds, and their mooring wires stood up in great sweeping curves from the truck ends, vanishing into thin air like the Indian rope trick.

Lots of these sausages and sandbags, but no children and few soldiers, at first glance. Plenty of policemen and air wardens and firemen in steel helmets, and army girls in soft caps and smart patch-pocketed tunics. But no ruins, and not a scar of shrapnel newer than the marks on Nelson's column and Cleopatra's needle which came a quarter of a century ago.

All the great hospitals had been emptied of their patients and manned with emergency staffs to handle 150,000 air raid casualties. They were ready but idle. On the sidings of the railways emergency hospital trains stood, night and day, waiting for the wounded. Throughout the country great hotels had been gutted of their guests on a day's notice and yawned, empty, in every town, waiting for the thousands of civil servants who would have to be accommodated if London were abandoned. It was hard on the guests, many of them semi-invalids, who had thus lost their homes without warning, and hard on the proprietors of the hotels because they are still empty.

One million two hundred thousand women and children had been carried out of London and placed in private homes all over the country, to save them from the Huns-who haven't come yet. The Huns haven't come because they can't get through. As far as the Air Force's part goes, the blinds drawn in this war have been bomb-proof steel shutters. Still, I don't like the blackouts. I don't think them necessary, like the complete cutting out of weather reports, but they are the Air Force's insistent stipulation, and the Air Force has provided such perfect defense so far that I believe they should have their choice of tools.

At sunset London vanished as though swallowed by the earth. The only illumination was the tiny slits where crosses had been scratched over the face of the red and green traffic lights. In the underground railways you might be in such darkness that you could not see the people crowded beside you and you could not read the station names. I never fathomed why the lights had to be turned out one or two hundred feet below the surface, but they were. The buses were as black as the underground at first. Both have improved, or my eyesight has grown more catlike.

At Canada House I found that thousands of other Canadians had also rushed to save the heart of the Empire. They registered, as I registered, for any work that required doing. They found that Britain's requirements were (a) Airmen, (b) Young soldiers, (c) Technical experts, from cooks to colloidal analysts. But the volunteer, willing to do anything but fit to do nothing in particular and do it very well (like me) was a drug on the market. Stretcher-bearers, firemen, first aiders, ambulance drivers, pick and shovel men, had loyally enlisted in thousands, and no one had actually been needed. Britain was paying $185,000,000 a year for air raid precautions. It did not seem fair for me to take the £2 or £3 a week paid for the various jobs, and it did not seem fair to oust a man already holding one, for I learned that A.R.P. employment was all that stood between thousands and a bread-line, already made up of a million and a half unemployed.

Being unable to connect with a wheelbarrow, I turned to my typewriter. This took me to France, and so the Telegram was the first Canadian newspaper personally represented on the Western Front.

No other individual Canadian paper has been there yet. We had to run the gauntlet, so to speak, to do it, for the day I crossed, shells were dropped near our steamer. We weren't being bombed; it was a German plane, invisible to us in the fog, being potted by the Dunkerque antiaircraft batteries. What goes up has to come down, of course, but what didn't hit the Hun came down near to our ship. At the time it looked just as deadly as though it had been aimed at us, but when we learned-a week later-what it was, we were of course much relieved. The Nazi plane was brought down, with its pilot dead, and three men were picked up by a Dutch steamer, clinging to the wreckage in the sea.

I had seen Britons marching off to battle. No banners waving, bands playing, handkerchiefs aflutter, cheering thousands, Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory, and The Girl I Left Behind Me. The only march music I heard in England was a company whistler once on the London streets, whistling Marching Through Georgia. Never any music at all for the troops marching away. Just the cramp-cramp-cramp of new boots in the new threes in the new blackouts; a short column finding its way to the quayside of an unnamed port; small groups going over the gangway, and the lightless, unnamed Channel steamer pushing off into the dark or the day. That is the way a quarter of a million men with 25 or 30,000 motor vehicles have been landed in France and fitted into the fighting line from the Maginot to the sea, without one casualty. Unpicturesque, unprecedented.

Well, I saw them, too, when I got to France. There were guardsmen of famous regiments with battle honours strung across three centuries, lionlike men of Moab. And Highlanders unrecognizable in linemen's overalls. (Ian Hay tells me if you go into a tank in a kilt you'll come out like Adam without his fig leaf.) Boys who had lied about their age and were being sent home.

All keen to clean this thing up if it took their lifetime or their lives. All comfortable, even in the rain and mud which is the reality of sunny France, for they were well fed and well housed, in dry billets, not in leaky dugouts or dripping trenches. The trenches are there, and these boys have put them there, and they hold them, but the country all around is inhabited. They are going to keep it habitable.

In France, even within sound of the firing, people moved about with less preoccupation about the war than in England, although I must emphasize the fact that for cheerful level-headed courage the people of Britain are second to none. It must be remembered that Britain has not been invaded since 1066, while France has had war or invasion in practically each generation. Invasion of Britain seems something as monstrous as an earthquake or a tidal wave. The tremendous preparations against an evil which has not yet come-and may it never come!-have not panicked these brave British folk in the slightest degree. Their greatest concern is how they will pay their heavily increased income taxes out of their greatly decreased incomes.

Announcement just this week that the British had taken over a section of the fighting line was literally true, but like so much else that has been done and left undone in our publicity, it understated the case. A month ago in France they were telling me of a surprise visit Gamelin had made to a British Battalion headquarters up front. He was received with all courtesy and entertained at an active service dinner. Everything went wrong from the standpoint of his hosts. The cook had just been changed, some thing had happened to the rations, the beef was tough as sole leather and baked like a brick, one course after another was a failure. This was exceptionally bad luck, for normally the front line rations are up to the Royal York standards, as I experienced for myself. Finally the coffee was served, and it was even worse than French coffee, which seems all chicory. The Colonel had been apologizing throughout the meal but when it came to this coffee, words failed him. But Gamelin, the perfect guest, put all the officers at their ease. "Mes amis," said he, "Soldiers need never apologize to soldiers for the vicissitudes and hardships of service. I shall evaire lick my lips in remembrance of this crowning item of our fraternal feast. Nevaire in my life have I tasted such delicious tea, for which, as is well known, the English are famous the world ovaire."

You see this brasard? Rather neat badge for the newspaper correspondent, don't you think? Black and white, like the Telegram, and like the Telegram, read all over; and not like some other papers, red under the skin.

Well, it is still part of the obligation that goes with this brassard not to mention names of places, nor particular units nor troop dispositions. I can, without being false to

my trust, name the historic spot where I saw the British and French lines meet.

It was marked by a French pub. The name translated would be in Canada, "The Hired Man's Hotel"; in England, "The Harvester's Arms". There are thousands of beverage rooms so named between the English Channel and the Pyrenees, so I am not betraying information of use to the enemy.

That name just makes me think. Before I came down here a lady telephoned me at the office and asked my assistant if Mr. Snider would speak before or after the luncheon, and my assistant said that he understood the practice was for the speaker to speak after the meal, and he thought that would be carried out. "O, dear," she said, "I am so very sorry, because you know what these luncheon Clubs are". With no reference to the Empire Club, of course.

Well, to get back to the story. The lines do not inter. sect exactly at the estaminet's bar-perhaps because the French beer is poor stuff as compared to the English, though cheaper. The trenches are a few hundred yards apart, but overlap, and you could not tell one from the other, so similar are they in construction.

Without delay-before the war has yet started, if we are to accept one school of thought in England-the Allied Command has been so completely unified that everything from trade to trenches is interchangeable. Gamelin is the Generalissimo. Gort has placed the British Expeditionary Force exactly where Gamelin wants it. Sound strategy and diplomacy alike. Similarly, the British and French Air Forces are interchangeable and in full co-operation, and the French navy takes up where the British navy leaves off.

In England many say the war has not yet begun. Others think it may never get past its present stage, that Hitler is cornered, militarily, politically and economically. Some expect that a frantic spasm, such as mass air attacks upon open cities, or sending the whole German fleet out raiding land and sea, or falling upon some neutral like Rumania, Holland, Belgium, or Denmark, will indicate Germany's collapse. Many soldiers think the war will go east, aimed at India. Others expect we shall be soon called upon to save Germany from the Reds.

Let us save Britain first. I am too old to prophesy anything about the war, except that we shall win it. History teaches me that the British always win the last battle, and my immediate observation shows me that Britain was never so well organized for victory as now. (Applause) My diffident, and, I hope, superfluous plea is, let us not in Canada discourage war effort or delay the victory by pulling down the blinds unnecessarily, or heaping organization upon organization, not for the sake of efficiency, but for the sake of gaining or multiplying places on the public payroll. (Hearty applause)

CHAIRMAN: May I be your Press Agent for the minute, Mr. Snider? Your stirring, descriptive and humorous words have moved us to a deeper appreciation of the preparations, the effort that Great Britain and the Empire are .putting forth in this second Great War, and the effective. ness of those preparations. We are indebted to your journal and to you, Mr. Snider, for the excellent accounts that we receive of the events overseas, notwithstanding the many difficulties that you have encountered by those blinds down.

We thank you most heartily, Mr. Snider, for your splendid talk, and we greatly appreciate your kindness, in finding time out of the busy life that a newspaper editor leads in these days, to come to us today, and on behalf of the Members of the Empire Club, I extend to you our cordial thanks and appreciation for the excellent address that you have given us today. (Applause)

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War With the Blinds Down


"War With the Blinds Down" what the speaker saw in Poland, Danzig, Finland, Holland and Britain last year and last spring, and what he saw in the last three months. Neutral profiteers and other cynics perhaps amending this to "War With the Brakes On." The speaker's response to such cynicism, and his opinion of Canada's war effort. Why outsiders might think the war effort is being held back. The situation in Finland, and in Britain. The lack of understanding as to who is fighting and why. What Hitlerism has done; the need to shoot Hitlerism and shoot to kill. Britain's war aims nobly and truthfully expressed. The need to accompany that with action. This blinds-down war leaving us open to the worst misconstructions by our enemies, our honest neighbours, and our own people. Valiant efforts by the British navy. 100 days of war just the beginning. Time needed to obliterate the German navy. Preparing Britain for gas attacks. Much light still to be shed on what went on in the last five years; much darkness to be dissipated. Effects of running a "blinds down" war on the people. Good reasons in Britain for control of volunteer enthusiasm. The issue of censorship during war. Abundant evidences of Britain at war as never before. Air Raid Precautions. Canadians helping out in Britain. Britain's requirements. The speaker representing the "Telegram" in France as the first Canadian newspaper personally represented on the Western Front. Conditions in France. Understatements in the news. Limitations on reporting. The unified nature of Allied Command. Co-operation between the French and British Air Forces and navies. Speculation as to the immediate future of the war. Saving Britain first. A plea from the speaker not to discourage the war effort in Canada or delay the victory by pulling down the blinds unnecessarily.