Britain At War
Publication:
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 27 Sep 1918, p. 291-298


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Gardiner, George W., Speaker
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Text
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Speeches
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A story told to illustrate the organization of Germany. The only way to win this war. A consideration of the German organization in the matter of dyes on which the whole world depended. The German mind. The might of Britain and the heroic devotion of those men who were willing to go to war. Considering terms of peace. The extraordinary war work that is going on in Great Britain, as the speaker witnessed it in his recent visit, with detailed description and some figures of employment, activities and production. The food problem in Great Britain. The difference between the treatment of the prisoners in Germany and prisoners in England. A tribute to the bravery and heroism and sacrifice of the Canadian soldiers who in Northern France held back the Hun to the last man. Starting the second draft in America. Putting women out of non-essential industries and putting them into the war industries.
Date of Original:
27 Sep 1918
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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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Fairmont Royal York Hotel

100 Front Street West, Floor H

Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3

Full Text

AN ADDRESS BY GEORGE W. GARDINER Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto, September 27, 1918

MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN,--I appreciate the very sincere compliment implied in the toast to the President of the United States, and I always like to open my remarks in speaking to a gathering of this kind where we have the singing of "America" by telling a little story, because sometimes people especially on our side of the line, get the idea that their country is the only land that has liberty. Mr. Choate, the American Ambassador in London, waited one day upon Premier Lloyd George, and while the Prime Minister was reading the documents presented to him, all of a sudden Mr. Choate, who had been sitting at a window overlooking St. James' Park, cried out, "Oh, dear me! Oh, dear me!" The Prime Minister jumped from his chair and asked what was the matter. Mr. Choate replied, "Why, come and look out of this window at your beautiful Park and see those ragged, dirty men out there, lying all over the grass, defiling that Park." The Prime Minister said, "Well, what of it?" Mr. Choate replied, "In America, if we had such a thing as that, we would have those men arrested, and fine them in the Court." Lloyd George replied, "Well, that only goes to show that we have more liberty in England than you have in America."

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Mr. Gardiner is First Vice-President of the Union Trust Company of Providence, R.I. During the summer of 1918 he was a guest of the British Government, inspecting munition plants, dock yards, arsenals and other forms of war work. He was also able to visit the Front and look over the organization of the army. His observation covered the operations in England, Scotland and all around the coast.

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I will tell another story illustrating the organization of Germany, to which we are all willing to pay tribute. A Southern gentleman was being driven out of his grounds to business by his colored servant, when he noticed a large black bug on one of the tall white posts, and he asked the driver if he could knock the bug off with his whip without startling the horses. Sambo said he could, and he made good his word. A little later on, they came to a place where the gentleman discovered a hornet's nest in one of the bushes, and he asked Sambo if he could do the same thing with the hornets, as he did with the bug; but Sambo replied, "No sir, dem is organized." (Laughter.) Yet in spite of the German organization in every line for the last forty years it is being beaten. But do not look for a revolution in Germany; the only way to conquer the German people and win this war is to kill, wound, or capture Germans. We need not talk about embargoes, although they are efficient and helpful, or about propaganda, or any other kind of way of waging war against Germany, for those people are case-hardened; they have been brought up in this war atmosphere, and they don't believe there is anything else to do; and they have to be taught a lesson through punishment, and that punishment has to be a great military defeat, which we are now on the way to administer. (Loud applause.)

Consider the German organization in the matter of dyes on which the whole world depended. After this war started, we found the reason we depended upon German dyes was because the manufacture of those dyes is supervised by the German Government, and by midnight of the day when war was declared, all those dye factories were turned right over into the manufacture of material for explosives. There is the reason why you had German dyes so successful and so much cheaper. The whole thing was a camouflage; Germany took the credit for it all, whereas, as we all know, coal-tar colors were the invention of an Englishman. (Hear, bear.) England and America both started to make their own dyes; and one of the best things I have seen along that line is the printing of the three colors in the flags of our two countries, and underneath them the notice, "These colors won't run." (Applause.)

The German mind works only in a straight line, and that is the same straight line that the tornado or the cyclone makes, brute power; and he does not know any other kind of reasoning; he admires the tempest and storm and has no use for the peaceful sunshine or the gentle summer breeze. That is why he makes the mass formation-that is the way they go; that is why he went through Belgium as the straightest line; that is the reason he sank the Lusitania and why he wages ruthless submarine war-fare, for he does not know, he does not believe, nor can he appreciate that an Anglo-Saxon who is going down a path way and meets an obstruction, will go round it and then go on. That is the greatest possible surprise to a German mind-that you can carry on anything except by brute force and in a straight line. But in this war, there are certain things coming out that we did not believe existed before.

In contrast to his organization, here is an unorganized nation like England, with less than two hundred thousand soldiers. Knowing of those millions under arms in Germany yet when Germany sought to dictate to France, Great Britain said NO, and immediately, unorganized as she was, she began to call forth her men and set out on the grandest conquest that ever was seen on earth. From the four quarters of the globe the Colonists came marching in to the relief of the Mother. (Hear, hear and applause.) Go to France today, in any of those towns, or go to the front, and you see the Canadian, the New Zealander, the Australian, the South African, the black men from the West Indies, the men with the turbans, and the men with the yellow skin. There are two elements there; first, the might of Britain, that made it possible in those infested Oceans to bring those men in ships, and bring them safely,-(applause) and the other is the heroic devotion of those men who were willing to go. That is one of the impressions I bring back from France today that shows that Great Britain is great. (Applause.) There is no doubt in my mind that every Hohenzollern and every Hapsburg today hears the tramp of this Empire, and they are not alone at the front door but they are at the side door, on the porch, on the back, and there is not a single one of those thrones that is not trembling today and feeling the shock and the jar of the advancing troops as they begin to close around.

And so, what do they do? The first thing is to ask for a peace consideration such as they want, and which, please God, they may never have. (Loud applause) Because this whole world would go back five hundred years if it established the principle that Germany may have war when she wants it and peace when she needs it. (Hear, hear.) When we win this war, every Hohenzollern and every Hapsburg should be transported to some place like St. Helena, and the sexes should be segregated and separated in order that never again into this world shall be born such inhuman beasts as this generation has shown them to be. (Applause.)

But I came to tell you something of the extraordinary war work that is going on in Great Britain. The first impression that I got of the trail of the merciless Hun, was to find in that port of Liverpool one of your magnificent trans-Atlantic liners with two or three red crosses painted on her sides as high as this ceiling; yet at the bow and the stern of that ship there were guns mounted -something unheard of before in the history of the world, that a hospital ship had to be armed in order to be able to transport its freight of helpless human beings. That gave us the first shudder at the frightfulness of this war and at the principle of fight with which the Hun is fighting.

In England we did not see many men out of uniform, and I felt somewhat embarrassed in the railroad station at Liverpool when a frail young English girl, weighing not over a hundred pounds, came to take my, baggage. When I got on the train, I found the conductor was a woman, and later on, when I got to London, I found the busses all driven by women, and the great big trucks also.

I went into an aeroplane plant which has 4,600 employees, 2,400 of whom were women, and they were working with trousers and boots and caps on. That aeroplane factory was turning out 10 aeroplanes a day, 300 a month. The United States is in the aeroplane business too, and in April we were ready to test the Liberty motors in French machines in France. There is no doubt in my mind that the Allies already have the supremacy in the air, and they are going to hold it (applause); and I can tell you that by next Spring there are going to be so many aeroplanes of the Allies in the sky over Germany that the Germans will think there is a total eclipse of the sun. (Applause and laughter.)

I went into a large munition plant nine miles long by eight miles wide, started in the Fall of 1915, got under way in 1916, and in 1917 it had got somewhere near what was intended, and when we were there in 1918, we were told that a particular kind of explosive was being turned out in such quantities that word had come from the front to hold up, they were getting too much. They had 18,000 employees, 12,000 being women. (Applause.) In one part of that plant, sulphuric ether is used as one of the materials, and the manager said that before the war began, the total production of sulphuric ether in the whole world was 2,000 tons annually, but in 1917 that one factory turned out 30,000 tons of ether. Women were working heroically there for ten hours daily, and getting 35 shillings a week, though they had to wear masks on noses and mouths to prevent death from the deadly fumes. The British Government has in two years made the most perfect organization the world has ever seen for the care of those girl workers, who live in hostels presided over by matrons on whom the word "mother" is written in every lineament of face and figure.

In one of the shipyards, we saw one of those "mystery ships" longer than the Aquitania, which was 902 feet, and from her top we saw the forests of masts and timbers for the ships being built so fast that on the "ways" from which one ship had been launched the day before, timbers were already laid for another. (Applause.) Out of 11,000 employees in that yard 3,500 were women, and we saw them shoveling sand and getting ready the mouldings for the ships. Then we went to the brow of a hill and saw 200 fighting ships, and I said to a member of our American Commission near me, "Behold, America's first line of defence." (Loud applause.) And he said to me, "Yes, and her second." (Applause.) Then we went to the navy yard and saw the two submarines that collided in the water, head on; they were both saved and were being repaired. We found 8,000 men in that navyyard.

But all these great works require material and men and women. Did you ever think of the food problem in Great Britain? Our Commission were guests of honor at a dinner given by Bonar Law at the Aldwych Club. We sat down with the Lord Mayor of London and 400 representative men; and here was our menu for that luncheon:-Piece of turbot with one boiled potato; one boiled egg with a spoonful of mashed potato; one biscuit with a cube of cheese-the only cheese I saw while I was in England--and a demi-tasse of coffee. For four days after we landed, we could not get a piece of meat until we got our meat card, which allowed us two ounces of meat four days a week, or half a pound a week, though German prisoners in English camps get four ounces of meat seven days a week, which is according to the orders of the War Office. That shows the difference between the treatment of the prisoners in Germany and prisoners in England. (Applause.) That goes to show you the greatness of Britain again. (Applause.) I spoke to a young girl, who told me she had not seen cheese for a long time; she had had a little margarine,-and no milk, as it had to be saved for the children. She would not say she had enough to eat, but she added, "But I can stand it a good long while if it is going to help win the war." (Loud applause.) I read of the sinking of cargoes of food from Canada and the United States 3,000,000 lbs. of bacon in one, millions of bushels of wheat; but one cheering thought came to me, "We may have lost the bacon, but we will get the Rhine." (Laughter.)

The speaker described an air-raid, adding, "The Hun with his devilish cunning, arranges his bomb so that it will not explode on contact; it has to burst through and come inside, and then burst and destroy everything in sight. That is why, in the close area connected with an air-bomb explosion, you do not find any bodies; you pick up scraps of human flesh. I saw three of those air-raids in London. Talking to a young waitress in a restaurant I said, "Severe air-raid last night?" She said, "Well, I suppose it disturbed you some, but I've been through 67 of those, and really, you know, they're not half bad, especially if you have a likeable young chap spending the evening with you." (Laughter.) Now, that was the character of that girl. I met another in a bus and asked her if she had lost anybody in this war. She said, "I lost one brother in 1915, and another in 1916, but if I had two more brothers and they didn't go out and fight the Hun for what he has done right here in London I never would own them for brothers." (Applause.)

That is the testimony of that young English girl. You can tell now why the Englishman tightens his belt, and why the Scotchman tightens his belt. One of the grandest tributes in this whole war is that out of five million people in Scotland, one million go to war. (Applause.) Up there the curtains have to be drawn every night, and if a light is shining out of your window you are fined in the police court next morning. There is system for you! Clear to Glasgow that rule obtains, and they don't take any more chances in Britain, because a stray Zeppelin might get up there and find a magnificent target in that great city.

We went over to France, and there we met an Australian who had been at the front fourteen months without any leaves. He said, "What's the use of going up to London for 14 days? I've got to come back here. If I could go home I would, but it is 12,000 miles away. I remarked that fourteen months was a long time to be in that hell at the front. He replied, "I know it is a long time, but after I've been here and seen what the Hun has done I'll stay here fourteen years if it is necessary, to punish him." (Applause.)

I met an American boy who had been six weeks in the trenches, and had gone behind for a rest. I asked him when he would be ready to go back. He said, "By God, I'm ready to go back tomorrow; for when a man comes here and sees this country, and sees what those Huns have done, everything in him cries out to get revenge, and I'm going to do my part to get it." (Applause.) That is the spirit you find on the other side. If you gentlemen could stand on those little hills and ridges and see, in all that vast expanse of desolation and ruin, the hundreds and thousands of little white crosses. not one of you would say that the end of this war must be anything else than a peace through victory and an extermination of the Him. (Applause.) Those men have made it possible for us to meet today, for the greatest wonder in the world is that the Germans were not in Paris four months after the war started. If there is any tribute to bravery and heroism and sacrifice, it is due to your own Canadian soldiers, who in Northern France held back the Hun to the last man. (Applause.)

In America we are starting on our second draft. We shall raise several million men. Our employee proposition is our serious one. England has solved it to some extent, and Scotland in the same way, by employing women. In France, where women are not available, we find 200,000 Chinamen employed back of the lines; that releases a number of men. In my own State, Rhode Island, with a population of about 500,000, the Government has called for 6,000 women to be put into industries. I speak of this so that you may know the determination with which America has entered into this war. (Applause.) We are taking women out of non-essential industries and putting them into the war industries; our banks are curtailing credits for industries that are not necessary for the prosecution of the war; and every day our young men are leaving for the front.

They go-our best-loved and our best. God grant them victory and rest. God grant us, and our allies all, Grant those returning, those who fall, Dawn's peace and evening rest!

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Britain At War


A story told to illustrate the organization of Germany. The only way to win this war. A consideration of the German organization in the matter of dyes on which the whole world depended. The German mind. The might of Britain and the heroic devotion of those men who were willing to go to war. Considering terms of peace. The extraordinary war work that is going on in Great Britain, as the speaker witnessed it in his recent visit, with detailed description and some figures of employment, activities and production. The food problem in Great Britain. The difference between the treatment of the prisoners in Germany and prisoners in England. A tribute to the bravery and heroism and sacrifice of the Canadian soldiers who in Northern France held back the Hun to the last man. Starting the second draft in America. Putting women out of non-essential industries and putting them into the war industries.