The Telegraph Book of Readers' Letters from the Great War (6 page)

BOOK: The Telegraph Book of Readers' Letters from the Great War
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During my stay in various parts of the world while in the Navy I have been able to make inquiries on the subject, with the result that in most cases the Germans appeared to be making headway, particularly in the Far East. This is undoubtedly due to the greater energy, knowledge of the requirements of the
country, and willingness to oblige of the German firms. I am almost inclined to consider the latter quality as of the greatest importance, for German firms were willing to take any trouble to procure whatever their customers required.

There is another point which also affects the question, and that is the unfortunate idea which most young Britishers who go abroad appear to acquire – that they are entitled to at least as much time for amusement as for work. I should like to point out that this is not the way the young Germans look at it, and that this may in some degree affect the success of the firms to which they belong.

Yours truly,

R.N., Retired

Hay, Hereford

3 October 1914

TOMMY'S SONGS

SIR – Mr J.M. Glover is quite right. Tommy certainly ought to have a repertoire of his own. Then are many collections of soldiers' songs published, but the majority of the lyrics are far above Tommy's head and have no attraction for him as a soldier at all. They are mostly of the objective order and relate to his achievements in the field, and are absolutely devoid of the real sentiments that appeal to Tommy personally as a man, to his human nature and his affections.

The songs I refer to are mostly written about him for others to sing. The intimate note is almost invariably missing. He still marches to ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me' and the ‘British Grenadiers', but I doubt if he ever sings either of them. By my desk as I write I have many volumes that contain thousands of songs of the soldier –
The Universal Songster
alone includes 3,000 military songs – but very few were designed for the soldier himself. I remember when ‘The Captain With his Whisker Took a Sly Glance at Me' was a great favourite with the private at home and abroad – my father was in the Army – and later, though not a soldier's song, ‘In the Strand'. Tommy wants tune and a good swinging chorus, and the theatres and the music halls frequently suit his requirements.

‘Tommy Atkins' misses the point – a soldier can hardly sing about himself – and the same argument applies to nearly all the new songs that are just now flooding the music halls and the market. That is why ‘It's a Long Way to Tipperary' is so popular. The words of the chorus alone strike home to Tommy's instincts. In Tipperary lives ‘the sweetest girl I know'.

There you have it in a nutshell. Where would Tommy be without his sweetheart? Mr Glover may be interested to know that there is more than one song about his early home – ‘Were You Ever in Sweet Tipperary?'

S.J. Adair Fitzgerald

London N.

BRITISH WAR PRISONERS

SIR – On my way back from Petrograd I met Prince Peter Lieven at Stockholm. He had just been released from a camp of prisoners of war in Germany, and informed me that the British prisoners were exceptionally harshly treated.

Among the prisoners were about 200 Gordon Highlanders, who were constantly subjected to insult on the part of the guards on account of their kilts.

This continued until finally one Highlander demanded an interview with the officer commanding the camp, to whom he spoke as follows: ‘My uniform is 1,000 years old, and has been worn by kings. If it be insulted again I will not be answerable for the consequences nor what happens to me.'

The Highlanders were not molested after that. Prince Lieven told me that the British were always served last at meals, and if there were not sufficient to go round they had simply to do without food. The parole of officers was not accepted.

I am, Sir, yours truly,

F.V.T.

London

P.S. Among the prisoners was the colonel of the King's Own Scottish Borderers, and a major of the Royal Irish.

5 October 1914

TRAINING OF BOYS

Value of Cadet Corps

SIR – At this particular time, when the manhood of the nation is rallying to the colours, it is surely a golden opportunity to give to the youth of the country the elements of a military or semi-military instruction.

Territorial cadets have not received much encouragement in the past, or we should have at our disposal now many thousands of young fellows on the verge of manhood ready and willing within the next year or two to take their place in the ranks of the Army. Indeed, some of the senior cadet corps, such as the Royal Fusiliers and King's Royal Rifle Corps, have each sent two or three companies to Territorial units. Their places were at once filled up, and now most of the cadet corps are up to their full establishment. As, however, their maintenance is mostly provided by private benevolence, it is a severe strain on commanding officers, who naturally find great difficulty in providing funds at this particular time.

A large body of opinion considers that service in cadet corps, boys' brigades, and so forth should be made a compulsory phase of education, and that a boy should be compelled while at, or after leaving, school to join one or other. He could take his choice – naval, military or non-military. There are organisations for each.

The question is the more pressing at this moment, as a large number of youths have been thrown out of employment, and are wandering about the streets, where they have full opportunity of getting into mischief, and joining the ‘ne'er-do-well' class.

There are, therefore, military, economic and educational considerations which might well be dealt with at the present time if the Board of Education and the War Office could be induced to evolve a scheme to deal systematically and on a national basis with this phase of the training of boyhood.

I am, Sir, faithfully yours,

W. Campbell Hyslop

Junior United Service Club

6 October 1914

‘MADE IN ENGLAND'

SIR – I am one of those who think that we made no inconsiderable present to the enemy when, under the Merchandise Marks Act, we stipulated that things coming into this country from Germany should bear the inscription ‘Made in Germany'.

Let us now do a favour to ourselves by making it compulsory that at test all our manufactures shall in future bear the mark of the country of origin (not town or province) – thus, ‘Made
in England'. We may also then have ‘Made in Scotland', or ‘Made in Ireland'. And if our brave allies follow a similar rule we shall not, I am sure, object to buy things we want ‘Made in France', ‘Made in Russia', or ‘Made in Belgium'.

After the war we ought to be able to rely upon the national sense of patriotism and loyalty to our friends to reject any and every thing marked ‘Made in Germany' – a mark which, for good and sufficient reasons, we must hope the Germans will continue to use.

A ‘hall-mark', as is suggested by your correspondents, which may be recognised by the few, is not so good as plain language, e.g., ‘Made in England', or ‘Made in Germany', which can be understood by the many.

Yours truly,

A. Tidman

Prudential Buildings, Hull

BOYCOTT OF GERMAN GOODS

SIR – In connection with the campaign against German and Austrian goods, I should like to draw attention to the case of season businesses like our own, which, owing to the failure of the visiting season, are left with large stocks of foreign goods sold only to visitors.

We buy for the most part through English agents in November to January, season accounts. We are already feeling pressed for payment. We have rent, rates and taxes to pay, and to live through winter and spring. In Yarmouth we are faced with the probable failure of the herring fishery, which generally brings a large sum of money to the town.

We are, of course, unable to realise any of our assets. What, therefore, are we to do if these goods are boycotted? We have been quite unable to obtain English goods of the same class.

Yours truly

A Worried Season Trader

Great Yarmouth

BOOK: The Telegraph Book of Readers' Letters from the Great War
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