A TRUE STORY FROM CAMP

BY THE BISHOP OF LONDON
 
You boys and girls must picture a huge common, and four groups of khaki-clad soldiers standing at attention in different parts of it. They are about to be reviewed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Home Forces.

The men had given up a great deal to come and join the Territorial Forces, but it had not yet thoroughly dawned on them any more than on the rest of England, how great was the crisis, and none of the battalions had come out in sufficient strength to be sent out on foreign service.

The inspection by the great General took a long time, and when the order came for rank after rank to lie down, they did so with obvious relief. At last the inspection was over, and all the battalions were asked to converge on one point. At this point a waggon was placed, and all the five thousand men lay down round it, the Generals and their staffs lying behind it. It was a fine sight from the waggon to see those five thousand fine fellows lying there in the light of the setting sun, but was it possible to rouse them to see the country's urgent need?

I began by painting the beauty and the glory of England, the loveliest place in the world, for you may go all over the world, children, and you will never find anything so glorious or welcome on your return as the white cliffs of Dover, and the railway run through the hop gardens of Kent.

But what touched them most was the thought of what England stood for in the life of the world. It always has been, and always will be, the Home of Freedom. Let a slave once reach a British man-of-war—he is free. Britannia's daughters are rallying to her now because she has given them Freedom, for they see that she is the champion in this war of the Freedom of the World against a universal Tyranny.

Then I turned to what they themselves owed to England, their homes, their faith, their security to work, their happy friendships, and their love of wife, mother, and children. What they had not realised up to now was that all this was in deadly peril for the first time for a hundred years!

One mistake of our Fleets, one crushing defeat in France, and the foe would be upon us; the fate of Belgium would be the fate of England!

What more glorious than to follow the example of those who had fought and died for England?

"Nor needs he any hearse to bear him hence
Who goes to join the men of Agincourt."

In spite of the presence of the Generals a great cheer broke from the five thousand men when I said, "I would rather die than see England a German province"; but finding that they were allowed to cheer, as deep a cheer followed the statement that, if it came to the last Waterloo, it was far better to slip across the silver streak and fight it on the other side than let an invaders foot for the first time for a thousand years stain our native land.

In the evening all the four battalions present volunteered for foreign service, and as four more at the neighbouring Camp had volunteered the day before in answer to a similar appeal, eight battalions were added to the fighting strength abroad of the British Army.