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
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
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
"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.