- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 19 Dec 1921, p. 365-378
- Cavan, General, The Earl of, Speaker
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- Item Type
- An address by General, The Earl of Cavan, K.P., G.C.M.G., K.C.B., at a dinner given in his honour.
The commitments that all we members of the British Empire have to fulfil at this minute. A review of some of the moments in Canada's history when she supported the British Empire. What Great Britain has undertaken since the War, and is now carrying out. The size in square miles and in population of the British Empire, and the 250,000 men for protecting it. The commitment, bound by the Versailles Treaty, as the bridge-head achieved on the Rhine at Cologne. Turkey, with Sir Charles Harrington in command of Allied troops of which he has 12,000 roughly. Sir Harrington's duties: ensuring the freedom of the passage through the Dardanelles; doing anything he can to protect Christian people in Turkey, and if possible, to make peace between Turkey and Greece! Complications for Sir Harrington. The situation in Egypt, with the Suez Canal being vital. 17.000 British and Indian troops kept in Egypt. Palestine, for which the British Empire accepted the mandate by the treaty of Versailles. What the treaty means in terms of protecting Palestine. The situation in Palestine; conflicts between the Jews and the Arabs. 7,000 British and Indian troops here. Mesopotamia where the British Empire is in the process of reducing its troops. The danger spot at Basra at the north of the Persian Gulf. A word about India, which is in the process of learning to govern itself. The Western world. Two things which stick right out in the Washington Conference: honesty of purpose, and determination to achieve. A picture of that Conference room and what was said there. Agreements between Great Britain, the United States and Japan with regard to the limitation of armaments. The question of France and Italy. Difficulties connected with China in terms of extra territoriality. Fortifications in the Pacific. A practically unanimous agreement not to fortify any island at all in the Pacific for ten years. A few more difficult questions left: land armaments, laws of war, gas, aeronautics, bombing of undefended towns, etc., not to be left to nine nations of the earth to attempt a solution to these problems. Hope for another conference representing all the fighting nations of the earth.
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- 19 Dec 1921
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"EMPIRE PROBLEMS OF TODAY"
AN ADDRESS BY GENERAL, THE EARL OF CAVAN, K.P., G.C.M.G., K.C.B.
AT A DINNER GIVEN IN HIS HONOUR
The Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
December 19, 1921
PRESIDENT MITCHELL: My Lord and Gentlemen,--I have the distinguished honour tonight to introduce as our guest a great Empire soldier. (Applause) He copies to us with a wealth of experience and a wealth of memory after five years of the Great War, and three years, that have since elapsed. For the last site weeks he has been in Washington at the Disarmament Conference. During the five years of the War Lord Cavan rose from a high rank at the start to a very high rank at the end. In September and October, 1914, during the first battle of Ypres, he commanded the Guards Brigade; through those difficult times of 1915 he commanded the Guards Division, and through the more difficult times of 1916 and 1917 he commanded the 14th corps-that famous corps in which the Guards Division was always present. Later in 1917 and 1918 he commanded the British Troops in Italy, and finished the war in a blaze of victorious glory on the Pavla and the Coronado. (Applause) The Empire and Canada and Toronto and this Club cannot be too loud in their praise of his achievements. (Applause) And now, with his work at the Disarmament Conference of which he is going to speak tonight, I am sure we realize that Lord Cavan has much more indeed to do for the Empire in the years that are ahead of him for Lord Cavan is more than a soldier; he is a statesman. I have much pleasure indeed in calling on Lord Cavan to speak. (He was received with prolonged cheering.)
General Mitchell and Members of the Empire Club,
It is a real privilege to me to address a Club with that glorious name; still more a privilege to see men of Canada that I love, and always have loved intensely-and I do not say it because I am here, for I adored it in 189192, when I was younger than I am now, and it is an honour to be here, and I am grateful to you, Gentlemen, for giving me the honour.
Now, a word or two before I begin the large, very large subjects, about what is not a very small subject--that of your President. Your President was with me as Intelligence Officer after General Plumer left Italy in March, 1918, until the end of the war; and it was what he found out about the enemy that enabled me to hit him in the right place. (Applause) I have no hesitation in saying-and I am quite sure that Lord Plumer would back me up when I say--that there was no more intelligent or loyal Intelligence Officer in the whole of the armies of the Allies than your President. (Loud applause)
A great opportunity was afforded by this Conference at Washington to soldiers and sailors of the Empire to come and visit Canada; and the extraordinary thing is that what brings us here, although we are soldiers and sailors, is not war but peace. Now, that in itself is somewhat extraordinary.
There was a time, not long ago, when only statesmen realized responsibilities of the state that they governed. Now-a-days we are moving a long way forward from that, and it is your responsibility, Gentlemen, to look after the safety of the state you live in; not only that, but of the Empire; and I want particularly to impress upon you that everybody has his share in formulating the policy of the country. That being so, I have deemed it of interest to tell you, as far as I can, the commitments that all we members of the British Empire have to fulfill at this minute. They are larger, perhaps, than some of you may imagine.
Let me first go a little backwards and tell you that at the time of the Crimean War, Canada did not have Responsible Government; at least I do not think that was granted until 1860, although Canada was re-united in 1848-you must forgive me if my history is wrong. At any rate, in the Crimean War you sent a very charming message to Great Britain, and you said this: "If you have to withdraw your troops from Canada we are ready to look after ourselves; and meanwhile here is a nice cheque for your widows and orphans." (Applause) Well, that is a long time ago, but that was a fine start for cementing the Empire. I am not going to dwell on all that happened between then and now, but I may just remind you that in the Indian Mutiny you took a still further part and you raised a regular regiment and gave it into the British Armies. That regiment was the Hundreth Prince of Wales Royal Canadian Regiment (applause) now known as the 1st Battalion, as the Prince of Wales Lancaster Regiment of Royal Canadians. That was your part in the Mutiny-which was an advance on the cheque: (Laughter) That battalion was 1,200 men.
We then go on to South Africa-figures I have none, but the part you took I know.
We then pass on to this War, and in one word, 466,000 Canadians voluntarily offered their services to the Empire. (Applause)
The writer of a book published, I believe, only last week, which reviews the services of all the branches of the British Empire, the one to the other, throughout the last 200 years, said this: "It is the glory of the British Empire that war has shaped its course not by riveting an iron yoke upon unwilling subjects, but by creating a sense of partnership, joint responsibility and mutual confidence." (Applause)
So much for past history, Gentlemen, which is dull, very dull. We will turn now to more modern times, and I would like to tell you now of what Great Britain has undertaken (since the War) and is carrying out. I will show you, as I pass from one to the other, what I think are possible danger-spots, so that you may realize them in the next place in which you meet them-but I pray God you won't have to, though you might come and say, "Hello, you are getting into a mess; here we are again." (Applause)
The responsibilities of Empire at this minute, Gentlemen, are 6,000,000 square miles, and a population of 47,000,000 whites and 390,000,000 coloured people. That is what you have got to look after, in area and population; and to do it you have got 250,000 men.
Now, the first commitment, to which we are bound by the Versailles Treaty, is the bridge-head that we achieved on the Rhine at Cologne. We are holding that, according to the Treaty, for fifteen years, or less if Germany shows that all is well and she is not going to fight any more. But at present there are about 9,000 troops there, including a detachment that is up in Silesia under General Henniker, which I am told is doing extraordinary work, but you can judge for yourselves, because you have the Pole against the German, and the German against the Pole, and both against the French, and the French not quite sure, really, for the moment, whether they like this new boundary in Silesia or not. Yet there has not been a single misdemeanour of anybody shooting anybody else, certainly for the last four or five months; so that order has been kept there quite wonderfully by this very small detachment.
On the Rhine I am told that everybody is extraordinarily happy; and I am told that as the Germans have to pay all soldiers on the Rhine of the late Allies in the rate of exchange of that country's money, an American private soldier on the Rhine receives a larger salary than the Prime Minister of Germany. (Great laughter)
We will now pass to Turkey. In Turkey an old friend of yours, Sir Charles Harrington, is in command of Allied troops-French, Italian and British--of which he has 12,000, roughly. His duties are to ensure the freedom of the passage through the Dardanelles; to do anything he can to protect Christian people in Turkey, and at present, if he can, to make peace between Turkey and Greece-and various other little duties like that. (Laughter)
Well, that situation is extremely complicated by this fact-that there is a Sultan in Constantinople with some Pashas and people that he calls the Government of Turkey; and there is in Angora, in the very centre of Asia-Minor, another Government under Mustef Kemel, which has all the power and I believe most of the votes, and they call themselves the Turkish Government. Therefore, Gentlemen, we shall have to look for a solution of the question, if anybody will give it to us for we want it badly-which Government we are going to make peace with, without offending the other. (Laughter) There is a certain number of Indian troops, as well as British, in Constantinople; whether we shall ever be able to get them away, as we hope to do very soon, it is quite impossible to say.
I will now turn to Egypt. An honourable effort has just been made by the Cabinet at home on the one side with a gentleman called Adela Pasha on the other, to come to a mutually friendly understanding with Egypt, to do away with the word "protectorate," and practically to give them almost entirely the independence that they ask for. But we said we must hold the Suez Canal. We also said, "We don't think that you Egyptians are yet capable of keeping the Soudan in order. We also want to ensure everybody freedom, so that European business people there, white people, don't have their throats cut; and for those three reasons we want to keep some troops there, anyhow for a time." Well, the other gentleman says he does not like that, and at present this offer is rejected. Well, Gentlemen, it does not want telling that the Suez Canal is vital to the Empire. (Hear, hear) As a soldier I certainly hope that we shall not budge one inch from the position we have taken up, of keeping troops to guard the Suez Canal at any rate, whatever may be settled about the Soudan and the poor white people whose throats may be cut. For everything in Egypt we keep, roughly, about 17,000 British and Indian troops. I will now go on to Palestine. We did not ask for Palestine, but by the treaty of Versailles we accepted the mandate for it. The mandate means that we go there; we don't own the country; it has nothing to do with us; but we have to get and keep order in it, get a good Government in it, do what we can to put it on its feet, and then go away as soon as possible. (Laughter and applause) Now, the situation in Palestine is roughly this: On the north we are safe; the French have a mandate north of Damascus, about Syria and along the Baghdad Railway, and they keep us from any bother from the north. In Palestine itself the Arabs and the Jews are being slowly taught by the British to live side by side in peace. They don't like each other a bit; if they get half a chance they go for each other, and therefore there is no possible chance of our getting away until they do learn to like each other. Then, on the other side of the River Jordan, Trans-Jordania--are a lot of Arab troops who are at present friendly enough, but they are difficult to control, and I am perfectly certain that if we went out of Palestine at once, those Arab troops would come in at once and there would be very few Jews left. So that our commitments in Palestine, you see, are pretty serious, and we have to keep, roughly, about 7,000 British and Indian troops located up there.
We now come to Mesopotamia, where we have gone some distance in establishing the country, because we have made an honest really all-round effort to establish good Government, and we put a gentleman called Fisal on the throne there, or we might say, perhaps, back on the throne in Baghdad on which he was enthroned by the good-will and the vote of the Arab tribes all round, and it was a great success, and we hope that very soon he may be able to govern his country in a satisfactory manner. We had reduced the garrison there very considerably up to 1920, when all of a sudden there was one of those wild outbreaks, and large reinforcements had to be sent, and that was very quickly and very well quelled by General Haldane, and now we are in process of reducing again. I told you I would show you the danger spots, and I want to conceal nothing; and here may I just show you a possibility-I hope not a probability-but this is the situation there. You know the north portion of the Gulf. At the north of the Persian Gulf is Basra; 400 miles due north, a little bit west, is Baghdad; 400 miles again north of that is Mosul. We occupy Mosul and Baghdad, but our lines of communication are 800 miles long, partly by rail, partly by the Tigris or Euphrates--I forget whether it is the Tigris or Euphrates, but it doesn't matter; it is the upper river. Anyway, Gentlemen, that is not a very good military position. Those of you who have been soldiers would agree with me in that, I am sure; and if you have a long-strung-out position like that, the sooner you concentrate the better. I won't go further than that. Well, now, to guard all that large country we have to keep a very large number of men, but that number is being reduced, as I told you, and if only Fisal proves himself a good king of the Arabs there we hope that our commitments will not be so great as they are at this minute.
And now one word about India. We leave out of the question the coast line, which is Admiral Beatty's job, and not mine, but it has got a frontier, called the Northwest frontier, of 500 miles. Along the whole length of that are tribes, quiescent at times, wild at times-a very difficult country to hold satisfactorily. The use of airplanes has not helped us very much because you can imagine-those of you who fly-that it is not a very good place for landing. (Laughter) The treaty with the Ameer of Afghanistan that took nine months to get, has just lately been signed, and I hope very much that he will be as loyal as his predecessor was some years ago, and that that treaty may show the troops along the northwest frontier that the Afghan trusts us, and that therefore it is better policy for them to keep quiet.
You know the situation inside of India, Gentlemen. India is in the process of learning to govern itself. Great strides have been made-fine, noble strides-but with that country teeming with millions of people of different religions, it is not very easy to get what we know as stable Government, Government selected properly, generally with a certain amount of persuasion going on. There is a gentleman there called Gandhi whom we allow to speak as he likes; and sometimes he says quite nice things, sometimes he says very dangerous things. The other day when the Prince of Wales went to Allahabad, you saw what happened; he was received with absolute silence. Well, now, Gentlemen, you can read through the lines of that. That shows discipline on the part of Mr. Gandhi's followers. When you see that, be careful. There is the danger spot. I hope and pray nothing will happen; that all will pass off all right. I am quite sure the Prince of Wales will be all right-convinced of it-but the situation in India is disquieting. That is another great commitment of Empire.
Well, Gentlemen, so much for your commitments overseas. They are yours as well as mine; we have all got to take our share and our interest in those things. (Hear, hear)
Now, may I turn to the brighter side of the picture, perhaps, where on this side of the world efforts are being made for peace. I have said four times already in Canada, and I am now going to say it for the fifth, that two things stick right out in that Washington Conference; the first is honesty of purpose, and the second is determination to achieve. (Loud applause)
With regard to the former-honesty of purpose-I came over in the ship with Mr. Balfour. We had no idea whatever how the Washington Conference would open, how the question of limitation of armaments-not disarmament-was to be approached. Gentlemen, may I give you just a word-picture of that Conference room, so that you may realize more or less what it is? Imagine a table arranged like this, one down there and one down there; Mr. Hughes, Secretary of State of the United States, sits in the centre; two American Delegates, Senator Lodge and Mr. Root, sit at his right. Next to them Mons. Briand, who has now gone home, but whose place was taken by Mons. Viviani, and now his place is taken by Mons. Sorault, representing France, further on the right. Around the corner, the junior French Delegates. Next to them Japan, and next to them, around the corner again, China. Next to them, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Great Britain-the Empire delegates of Canada, Australia and New Zealand first, and coming around to Mr. Balfour on Mr. Hughes' left. That is how they sit; and behind them in blocks the secretaries, naval and military advisers and others, exactly behind their own countries. There are galleries in which sit the Senate of the United States and their friends; the President's box; the Vice-President's box; and another room for visitors. It is a magnificent hall, and the whole atmosphere is marked by sincerity and earnestness.
When we went into that first conference Mr. Hughes made that world-famous speech in which-this is exactly what happened-America had a building program of capital ships extending up to the year 1925 which would have put her in a position of vast superiority at sea over anybody; I do not think it possible that any other country could have afforded to keep pace with that program. Mr. Hughes proposed that the whole of that program-the whole number, including two ships 90 percent completed-should be immediately scrapped; nothing more to be heard of them at all. Having made that offer of what the United States were prepared to do he said, "Will you meet me?"
Great Britain took a week to think it over. They said they accepted the principle, and they took a week to work it all out. Admiral Beatty was there, and worked it out with his naval advisers of Great Britain, and accepted on behalf of the British Empire. (Applause) Your own Delegate, Sir Robert Borden raised no objection whatever of any sort or kind; the same with Australia, the same with New Zealand and the Delegates from Great Britain.
Japan honestly said, "I don't like the proposed ratio." They did not go back to Japan, accept it, and then say, "The United States has put this all over us." They said "We don't like it; we would like to argue it out"-straightforward. It was argued out; various telegrams passed, and the Tokio government accepted the ratio proposed, of 5-53. It simply means this, that America had, we say, 15 ships, Great Britain 15 ships, Japan 9 ships. Japan honestly said they must keep the Mutsu, which is the most magnificent ship afloat at this minute, the very newest, because her statesmen said they could not bring home to their people the necessity of destroying a practically new ship that was just being launched. This was considered reasonable, and the ratio is preserved by America keeping the two ships that were 90 percent complete and Great Britain having leave to commence work on two superHoods, the Hood being the latest ship, in fact the only absolutely post-Jutland ship that we have got. That, I understand, is perfectly satisfactory to every member of the British Empire delegation.
So far, so good. Now comes the question of France and Italy, which for the moment is doubtful. But I may say, from my experience on this Commission, that whatever the argument may be, and even if they get a little bit heated, that Mr. Hughes in the chair will bring the debaters back on to the high line; that is to say, he will remind the Delegates that the Conference was called for limitation of armaments, and not for increases of armaments. Well, Gentlemen, we pass on to China. There are great and many difficulties connected with Chinese questions. The first was a very long word called extra territoriality--which meant that various nations had acquired parts of China in various ways, and China would be very glad if they would be restored to her. Well, it is almost incredible, but it is true that Japan gave up Shantung; that Great Britain gave up Wi-Hai-Wei; and that France gave up Kiao-Chaoual--most just because China said she would like them back. (Laughter) Well, Gentlemen, that is a marvellous achievement. (Applause)
Then we come to fortifications in the Pacific. It is a very intricate question, that-very much more intricate than I can attempt to explain to-night, because the mandated territories in the Pacific-that is, the distribution of islands that were German-are drawn on lines of latitude and occasionally longitude, and it is extremely difficult, really, except by looking at the map, to say where somebody's mandate ends and where somebody's mandate begins; and the question of fortifying these islands was a very, very nasty one, and looked as if it must make for war in the future. What happened there?--a practically unanimous agreement not to fortify any island at all in the Pacific for ten years. (Applause) Now, that, Gentlemen, is also a wonderful achievement, I think. (Hear, hear) If the Conference ends with the naval ratio settled and the ten-year holiday, and the peace of the Pacific-practically a third of the globeassured for ten years, I do not think anybody can say that the Washington Conference was in vain. (Applause)
Just one word more, if you can bear with me, before I finish. (Voices-"go on!") There are a few more difficult questions left-land armaments, laws of war, gas, aeronautics, bombing of undefended towns-I just mention a few-(A voice "Submarines") Well, now, Gentlemen, I think I am right in saying-though I am not quite sure about this-that it is practically decided that nine nations of the earth cannot attempt a solution of these questions; they must be left until some other time, when I hope with all my heart that this great example will be followed, and that another conference representing all the fighting nations of the earth, including our late enemies and Russia, will assemble somewhere and get to work to thresh out these difficult questions; and if you cannot arrive at conclusions, place the reasons why you cannot, open to the world, and let the world make up its mind whether or not it is possible to make laws on these subjects-for that, as Mr. Root said the other day, is the method of progress. (Applause)
I thank you very sincerely, Gentlemen, for listening to me with such attention; and I only hope that if I have said anything indiscreet I may be forgiven. (Loud applause, the audience rising and cheering)
PRESIDENT MITCHELL asked Rev. Dr. Cody to express the thanks of the Club to the Speaker of the evening:
REV. DR. CODY
Mr. President and Gentlemen,-I have very great pleasure in discharging the task laid upon me, and moving a cordial vote of thanks to General, the Earl of Cavan for his illuminating and lucid address to-night. When distinguished administrators or soldiers or sailors from the motherland come to this continent, we in Canada do hope always to have a glimpse of them. (Hear, hear) We are glad that Lord Cavan and Colonel Bartholomew have managed to steal away from the important deliberations at Washington and given us the pleasure of meeting them, and give us in Canada the opportunity of hearing at first hand what are the real trends of events in connection with the Washington Conference. Lord Cavan may be very sure that such an envoy of Empire as he is, still further strengthens the bonds, fine as silk but stronger than steel, that bind us all together. I am sure, Sir, it came to us all with a fresh meaning that the old Empire is an unwearied Titan, and still bears burdens for the whole world. (Hear, hear) She has borne no small share of the white man's burden in the past, and we are not self-righteous, nor do we congratulate ourselves too much, when we say that in the main she has borne those burdens for the good of those who were burdened. She has sought to be a trustee of all that is noblest in the history of the race, so that those less favoured may rise in the scale of political being, and enjoy some measure of the freedom and justice and honour that we think we possess! We are glad to welcome Lord Cavan; glad to know that one of the greatest soldiers of the war is not only a scientific master of rightful destruction for a worthy end, but is a statesman of construction who looks forward to a purer and nobler and saner and more peaceful world. (Applause) He will be very welcome in Canada whenever lie returns, and I am sure he will take back to Washington and back to the world's metropolis-for London still is the world's metropolis, (loud applause) the assurance that Canada does intend, to the measure of her strength, to realize not only the privileges but the responsibilities that come to her in virtue of her new status. We cannot claim to be a nation, even within the Empire, unless we are prepared to make the sacrifices that such status involves. (Loud applause) Every part of the Empire, particularly the great self-governing nations within the Empire, has its own peculiar problems, and I know Lord Cavan will recognize some of the peculiar problems with which we in Canada are faced. We are side by side with a nation outnumbering us twelve to one, a nation with whom we have tremendous financial and commercial dealings, a nation with whom we live on most friendly terms, a nation to whose members we are related by many ties of blood and marriage, a nation whose influence, through the very bulk of it, we cannot escape; and yet we do not intend in Canada to be only a pale shadow of our great friendly brothers to the South. (Loud applause) We do feel that we have a mission to fulfil in the world; that we have to beat geography, and war against that great Laurentian wedge that divides the east from the west, and that we must hang together, or we will hang separately, and that we want, as an integral part of the great British Commonwealth, to do our share of the world's work. (Hear, hear) It will need all our wisdom and all our patience and all our tolerance and all our willingness to understand the diverse points of view, to act together, work together, and to be an efficient force together for the British Commonwealth, and through that Commonwealth for the whole world. We want our friends in the United States to remember that Canadians believe they can do a far better work in friendly co-operation with the United States, as a part of the British Empire, than ever we could do as an absolutely independent republic. (Applause) In my humble opinion there never was a time in all the history of Canada when national spirit was so high, and when Canadians were such tremendous Canadians, and at the same time such tremendous Britons. (Applause) I have the greatest pleasure in moving the hearty thanks of this Club to Lord Cavan for his splendid address tonight. (Loud applause, the audience rising and giving three cheers and a tiger)
PRESIDENT MITCHELL welcomed the members of the Young Men's Canadian Club who were present in cooperation with the Empire Club.