She has received from the English government special opportunities of seeing what England has been doing in the war, and has been allowed to go with her daughter where few English men and no other women have been allowed to go, to see the very heart of England’s preparedness. She has visited, since the war began, the British fleet, the very key of the whole situation, without whose unmatched power and ever-increasing strength the Allies at the outset must have succumbed. She has watched, always under the protection and guidance of that wonderful new Minister of Munitions, Lloyd George, the vast activity of that ministry throughout the country, and finally in a motor tour of five hundred miles, through the zone of the English armies in France, she has seen with her own eyes, that marvellous organization of everything that goes to make and support a great army, which England has built up in the course of eighteen months behind her fighting line. She has witnessed within three-quarters of a mile of the fighting line, with a gas helmet at hand, ready to put on, a German counter attack after a successful English advance something which no other woman, except herself and her daughter, who accompanied her, has ever had the opportunity to see.
Mrs. Ward admits that at the beginning England was unprepared, which itself demonstrated that as a Nation she never wished for war with Germany, and never expected it. Her countrymen had no faith in Lord Roberts’s ten-year-long agitation for universal national service, based on the portentous growth of the German army and navy. She never knew of any hatred of Germany in the country. On the contrary, she realized what England and all the rest of the world owed to Germany in so many ways.
England was not absolutely unprepared in the sense that the United States is unprepared, even for self-defence from external attack, but except for the fleet and her little expeditionary force, England had neither men nor equipment equal to the fighting of a great Continental war.
The wholly unexpected news of the invasion of Belgium aroused the whole country to realize that war on a scale never known before had come, and, as the firing upon Fort Sumter awakened America, convinced England that she must fight to the death for her liberties, unready as she was;—but Mr. Balfour, the First Lord of the Admiralty, says that, since the war began, she has added one million to the tonnage of her navy, and has doubled its personnel, and is adding more every day.
In the matter of munitions the story that Mrs. Ward tells is wonderful, almost beyond belief. Much had been done in the first eight months of the war, in the building of munition shops, and the ordering of vast quantities from abroad, before the second battle of Ypres, in April, 1915, which led to the formation of the new Coalition Ministry, including a wholly new department, the Ministry of Munitions, with Mr. Lloyd George at its head.