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Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill (30 ноя 1874 - 24 янв 1965) Part III 1916–1918 (1923-31)

To All Who Endured

CHAPTER XX

THE UNFOUGHT CAMPAIGN

The God of the Bees is the future.’

MAETERLINCK.

Quite apart from the imperious military need, the intermingling of British and American units on the field of battle and their endurance of losses and suffering together may exert an immeasurable effect upon the future destiny of the English-speaking peoples, and will afford us perhaps the only guarantee of safety if Germany emerges stronger from the War than she entered it.

From this moment the United States poured men into France, and by this action more than any other which it was in their power to take helped to bring the war to a speedy termination.

He was already experienced in the munitions sphere, having handled the bulk of the great affairs which the British Government transacted through Messrs. Morgan before the American declaration of war.

We built common factories for tanks and aviation material. The Americans offered us their earliest supply of mustard gas. At the end I accepted from Mr. Stettinius a contract of over £100,000,000 sterling to supply the whole requirements of the United States Army in medium artillery (6-in. guns and howitzers) for the campaign of 1919. The principles of this contract were simple. We guaranteed the United States we would make no profit, and they guaranteed us we should suffer no loss, however the event might turn.

After a few months’ co-operation he paid me the very high compliment of placing in my hands the whole business of purchasing nitrates for the United States from Chili.

I used the potent influence which the control both of British and American purchases gave me, not only to procure nitrates, but to persuade the Chilian Government to hand over the sixteen valuable German ships which had taken refuge in Valparaiso Harbour.

In July a whole series of strikes broke out in the munition industries at centres as widely separated as Sheffield, Avonmouth, Oldham, Coventry, Gateshead, Farnham, Birmingham, Manchester, Hendon, Gainsborough and Newport. Most of these disputes were composed, and many others prevented, by the ceaseless and skilful activities of the Munitions Labour Department under Sir Stephenson Kent. But Coventry proved intractable. We were confronted with a widespread cessation of work by the highly paid men engaged in the production of aeroplane engines, thus seriously endangering our programmes. After consulting the Prime Minister I decided to take the step from which we had hitherto always abstained of withdrawing from men who would not work, their munitions protection against being taken for the Army.

Once I flew in a fighting plane between the lines while a considerable action was in progress below. But from the height of 7,000 feet to which we had to keep on account of the German artillery, there was nothing to see but the bursting shells of the barrages far below. It is impossible to see a modern battle. One is always either much too far or much too near.

Meanwhile the schemes and preparations for 1919 were moving steadily forward. Maeterlinck says the God of the bees is the future. At the Ministry of Munitions we were the bees of Hell, and we stored our hives with the pure essence of slaughter. It astonishes me to read in these after years the diabolical schemes for killing men on a vast scale by machinery or chemistry to which we passionately devoted ourselves.

In the end many more Germans died from British gas than British from German. In 1918 the enemy had far the larger supplies of the irritant mustard gas, but our outputs were broadening daily. Although the accidentally burned and blistered at the factories exceeded 100 per cent. of the staff every three months, volunteers were never lacking.

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