Win the War in the Air

Agnes C. Laut August 1 1917

Win the War in the Air

Agnes C. Laut August 1 1917

Win the War in the Air

Agnes C. Laut

Who wrote “Lords of the North," “The Canadian Commonwealth," etc.

BY THE time these words appear conscription will be passing through the same stage in Canada as it has just passed in the United States. For one year the welkin rang there with Pacifist arguments. “I did not bring my boy up to be a soldier,” “Let people who don’t want to drown keep off the seas,” “Why should we mix ourselves up in European quarrels?” Do you realize when Governor Glynn of New York spoke at the National Democratic Convention only a year ago, he literally stampeded the Convention with the words, “He kept us out of the war?”

Then the President, who “kept us out of the war,” declared that a State of War existed. Again the welkin rang with Pacifist argument. Congress was bombarded with telegrams protesting against war. As many as six plots of assassination were hatched against Wilson in Chicago in one week. The politicians threatened Wilson’s party with political extinction if he passed conscription — “universal service” were the soft words used to veil brutal facts for sissy men and porcelain carpet knights.

But conscription passed.

And when men were called to enrol for military service, over nine millions between the age of 20 and 30 eagerly offered themselves for service. To date, by actual count, there have been fewer than 30,000 “slackers,” or men eligible, who did not enrol. Only three-tenths per cent, saw dust stuff in a nation of men—not a bad record if you actually coufit the known number of desertions and derelicts in former wars. I know when the issue comes to a show down in Canada, the results will materialize in the same way. The big drum makes the most noise because it is empty; and the loudest-voiced men playing for political power, do not represent the people.

A SWEEP of destiny’s own forces just now is brushing into the waste heap all small men, small issues, and poseurs. At time of writu ing the American State registration of both men and women from age 16 to age 50 is being taken, and people are coming en masse to volunteer for whatever service they can perform—from free stenography and cooking to ambulance driving and munition work. I venture to predict that the State' registrations of men and women for civilian as well as military service will total fifty millions for the entire county.

Nor did the sudden slacking of volunteer enlistments signify anything either in the United States or in Canada.

When the men on the firing line know that 89^ stand a poor chance of escaping death

or injury, it is not surprising that those willing to volunteer should hang back till those not willing to volunteer should be compelled to do so. Gompers, the labor leader, has proved himself one of the biggest men in the country in this emergency. He it is, who has held American labor staunch to national service throughout this crisis, when enemy money was ready to bribe strikes and lock-outs. “Eight hours a day,” declared Thomas, a British labor leader, addressing a representative assembly of American labor leaders, “it is not a quéstion of eight hours a day with us in England! It ts whether we shall have any hours of the day left to ourselves if we do not ictn this war. It is whether we shall remain free men, or become slaves. It is whether labor becomes the serf with the chain on its neck and the ball on its ankle—as it is to-day in Belgium—or whether Labor shall continue to lead wojrld progress. And the question is the very same with you labor men of America. If German arms break past our line, it is against you they will roll. It is from you they will collect the cost of the war; and they will collect it at the point of club, bayonet and gun, not after deliberation in free assemblages. It is not, shall we fight for an 8-hour day? It is how shall we arrange shifts that labor may serve 24 hours out of 24 till this war be won? Capital is yielding up 80 per cent, of profits. Labor must yield 80 per cent, of its time. Capital and labor are partners in the same team to win this war."

No, it was not Gompers, the American, who was speaking. It was Thomas, the British Labor leader; but it was Gompers who arranged that the British labor delegate should meet and tell American labor exactly what the war entailed. There has been no more talk of the war being “a war of munition makers.” Ford, the coiner of the phrase but a year ago, has offered both his cars and his factories for national service.

“Do you think conscription will pass?” an anxious mother with an only son asked me.

“I hope so,” I answer«!, “or we and all the rest of

civilization will

P^If it does and Jákk is call«!. I’ll turn the gas on,” she declared.

“Then I advise you and all your kind to turn it on quick; for if Jack is fit to go out and doesn’t go, it simply means that some other mother s Ja go and fight' to save your J answered.

BUT while there is a rush of city to serve on farms—farm labor empt—of city chaps, who never would deign to soil their hands manual labor, I do not believe such are typical, or even proof, of cowai There are hosts of pretty porcelain lows in the cities utterly unfit for mill service. They haven’t the nerves. 1 haven’t the stamina. They haven t| eyesight. They are poor mural dwellers unfitted for real life by a „ tion of unmanly, sissified occupations;land while they may volunteer for factoryr farm work, I doubt if they can hold their own in these vocations any more than on the firing line. (I .have tried themlfor farm work, and they would be laughable if they were not pathetic. Y They lore part of the human uniste that "is going ta be relegated to the scrap heap in Vit» war. Along with the sissy men and pretty porcelain parlor knights mustgo the idle parasite woman—the kidnap “ of the kindergarten officer, who has \ cheeks and a tooth brushy moust Women are enrolling for real service, sinecures. In this connection, an epii occured on Madison Avenue, Kew Yoj the other day that would have turned c great-grandmothers over in their grai a generation ago. A limousine rolled to a certain service league. A in livery opened the door. The chauff« jumped to the curb. A girl stepped dressed in khaki—peak cap, flannel shii high boots. She dismissed her limousil and stood at attention. An older in similar costume, evidently a command ing officer, came out. “Lieutenant BlankJ” said the elder woman to the girl, who hi dismissed her limousine, “your breat smells of cigarette smoke and your fa« is powdered. Go upstairs and rinse oi your mouth and wash off the powder.” And the young officer, who had pi ably never before obeyed an order in ^ her life, or conformed to a regulatioi

in all her whims, ran upstairs and turned on the cleansing tap. Then she came down and stood guard at the door. A despatch was handed to her, and she was seen taking an ambulance to get somebody who had been injured in the Navy Yards. Later that day, she and her company, were inoculated against typhus. Next morning, they were to be present in the operating room of a hospital so they would become inured to suffering and not lose their heads if they had to convey an ambulance to the firing line and bring bodies back in sections; so also they would learn to handle wounded bodies. Yet later in the day, they would take a practical course of instruction in greasing up a motor, taking a car apart and putting it together again. It is an even bet some of these girls never buttoned their own boots, or picked a garment off the floor when dressing before this war.

I give the incident as typical of what the war is doing—making changes that are miracles; and the leaven has barely begun to work Americans hardly know yet that they are at war.

PERSHING has gone across and is on the field. His troops are on the sea; and 500,000 men will follow them soon after September. Part of the American Navy has joined the Allies, and the rest of the Navy is training recruits to man the merchant fleets building in every harbor; where a shipyard can be located. Meh and women are busy, mobilizing universally for farm, factory and firing line.

One of the difficult questions is who is to train the new army of a million and a half. Dividing the army into units of 100, it Would require 15,000 officers; and while Plattsburg will have 5,000 more or less trained by the autumn, these will be needed for the firing line. It is telling Canada no secret to declare that more men and yet more men must be sent to the Allies by September. A lot of sug-

gestions have been made for the training of the new American army in time to be of service on the front when most needed. Let Canadian officers come down and do the training. But can Canada spare men, who are competent; and ought men, who have been discarded because they were not competent, to be allowed to come? Then some of the French have urged that the new men, fresh with courage and strength, be put on the line with strong lines of seasoned troops befóte and behind them. “Put them in front of us older boys,” a foreign officer said to me, “and we’ll kick them up if they show signs of weakening.” But that is taking dangerous chances. Kitchener said at the first of the war, when the fighting was mild compared to what it is to-day and will be to-morrow, that an unseasoned man was useless in this war. As a'matter of fact, no former experience on the part of an officer has been good in this war. It is a new form of warfare—trench, high power explosives, long range guns, aeroplanes, and submarines. What officer in former wars had any experience to guide him in this? Keep to the regulation manual, yes, as to size and numbers in each regiment, as to equipment of the regiment and the placing of it; so that any officer knowing what regiment is where, will also know just how many men are in that company and what guns and field guns each unit will have. All the Allied officers agree on that; but apart from that, the technique of former wars may be “junked.” So it seems to me the only wise suggestion for the training of these new American regiments is to utilize the offer of wounded and maimed French and British officers, who can no longer go on the firing line but have spent two years there andAcndw^what mistakes in action and equipment tosavoid.

It is a mistake that isValmost tragedy that the censorship is not permitting the public to know whether American

preparations are avoiding the errors made by the Allies the first year of the war. We all know haw during the first year of the war rifles had to be discarded because they could not stand the fearful conditions of the trenches— too long barrels that kept catching in the mud banks; how tenting had to be junked because it rotted in the continual rains; how transport wagons went to pieces under the strain; how boots were discarded in hundreds of thousands because the man’s foot was more valuable than the price of a boot that would not serve in trench slime. And yet we do not know that similar mistakes are not being repeated in much American equipment.

A democracy can only succeed in war inasmuch as it is backed by money and men; and the backing will not be given blindly. A democracy demands to be taken into the confidence of its leaders, or it will not follow them. This censorship business explains much of the lack of enthusiasm in the Liberty Loan; and if mistakes are repeated in the equipment, it will be largely owing to the fact that all preparations are going forward in blind secrecy. I do not refer to secrecy needed as to movements of forces. I refer to secrecy as to boots, rifles, rounds of ammunition, progress in the building

of battleships, progress in manning the__

new merchant marine, types of transport wagons, quality and priqps as to rations. These things any enemy spy can ascertain. Why should the American public be kept in the dark and representatives be called traitors for demanding enlightenment?

TWO tendencies are worth noting—to build submarine chasers by the scores and hundreds, to build aeroplanes, not in squads, but in armies of hundreds of thousands. To the practical American mind, untrained in strategical lore, the price of advances against withering blasts of enemy fire across No Man’s Land may be too high. A victory that leaves the victor 80 per cent, dead on the field does not appeal to the practical American mind. Army aeroplanes cost only from $6,000 for the small to $30,000 for the large, compared to the battleship’s

eral apart from the advice of his Ministers, or was the appointment made in London without reference to Canada, and if so on what basis were the noble Peers selected? What were the qualifications which Sir Max Aitkin, for instance, possessed? Was his appointment intended as an honor to the Canadian people? 'If so on what ground? Or was it intended as an honor to him personally, because he had succeeded in .amassing a huge fortune.

No doubt sooner or later there will be a general election in Canada and when

that event occurs it is to be hoped that both the great parties will be forced to declare their position on this important matter.

A SHORT time ago General Smuts made a great speech in London, in the course of which he protested against the use of the word “Empire” as a designation of our great country. He pointed out that in no sense did that term indicate the nature of our government Would it not be well to discard the use of the term British Empire and sub-

stitute in its place, the Britin Alliance, the British Sovere^ntyt the British Dominions or the British Dominiola or thing similar?

tom

In future issues will app* articles on Imperial topics f\ known men, treating the subjects from various angle* dians are beginning to give to Inter-Imperial problems\ artiges in MACLEAN’S will greatest interest.—The Editor

or other wellbroadest Canar thought and the of the

le