The title has caused me much trouble! Will any son of gallant Scotland, or loyalist Ireland, or of those great Dominions, whose share in the war has knit them closer than ever to the Mother Country—should he come across this little book—forgive me that I have finally chosen “England” to stand for us all? “Gott strafe England!” has been the German cry of hate. I have given what I conceive to be “England’s” reply. “Britain”—“Great Britain” are words that for all their profound political significance have still to be steeped a good deal longer in life and literature before they stir the same fibres in us as the old national names. And “England” as the seat of British Government has, it is admitted, a representative and inclusive force. Perhaps my real reason is still simpler. Let any one try the alternatives which suggest themselves, and see how they roll—or do not roll—from the tongue. He or she will, I think, soon be reconciled to “England’s Effort”!
Mary A. Ward.
* * * * *
NOTE TO THE FOURTH EDITION
There has been added to this edition an epilogue in the shape of a seventh letter, bringing the story up to August 16, including munitions, finance, the battle of Jutland, and the Somme offensive.
Spring-time in the North Sea—Snow on a
Marines drilling on the quarterdeck of a British Battleship 24
Fifteen-inch guns on a British Battleship 25
A forest of shells in a corner of one of England’s great shell filling factories 86
A light railway bringing up ammunition 87
One of the wards of a base hospital, visited by the King 132
A Howitzer in the act of firing 133
Your letter has found me in the midst of work quite unconnected with this hideous war in which for the last eighteen months we in England have lived and moved and had our being. My literary profession, indeed, has been to me, as to others, since August 4th, 1914, something to be interposed for a short time, day by day, between a mind tormented and obsessed by the spectacle of war and the terrible reality it could not otherwise forget. To take up one’s pen and lose oneself for a while in memories of life as it was long, long before the war—there was refreshment and renewal in that! Once—last spring—I tried to base a novel on a striking war incident which had come my way. Impossible!