The War on All Fronts: England's Effort eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 187 pages of information about The War on All Fronts.
letter)—­the work done here by thousands and thousands of workmen since the beginning of the war, especially in the great shipyards, and done with the heartiest and most self-sacrificing good-will, has been simply invaluable to the nation, and England remembers it well.  And finally, the invasion of women has perhaps been more startling to the workmen here than anywhere else.  Not a single woman was employed in the works or factories of the district before the war, except in textiles.  There will soon be 15,000 in the munition workshops, and that will not be the end.

But Great Britain cannot afford—­even in a single factory—­to allow any trifling at this moment with the provision of guns, and the Government must—­and will—­act decisively.

As to the drinking in this district of which so much has been said, and which is still far in excess of what it ought to be, I found many people hard put to it to explain why the restriction of hours which has worked so conspicuously well in other districts has had comparatively little effect here.  Is it defects of administration, or a certain “cussedness” in the Scotch character, which resents any tightening of law?  One large employer with whom I discuss it, believes it would suit the Scotch better to abolish all restrictions, and simply punish drunkenness much more severely.  And above all—­“open all possible means of amusement on Sundays, especially the cinemas!”—­a new and strange doctrine, even now, in the ears of a country that holds the bones of John Knox.  There seems indeed to be a terribly close connection between the dulness of the Scotch Sunday and the obstinacy of Scotch drinking; and when one thinks of the heavy toil of the week, of the confinement of the workshops, and the strain of the work, one feels at any rate that here is a problem which is to be solved, not preached at; and will be solved, some day, by nimbler and humaner wits than ours.

In any case, the figures, gathered a month ago from those directly concerned, as to the general extension of the national effort here, could hardly be more striking.  In normal times, the district, which is given up to Admiralty work, makes ships and guns, but has never made shells.  The huge shell factories springing up all over it are a wholly new creation.  As usual, they are filled with women, working under skilled male direction, and everywhere one found among managers and superintendents the same enthusiasm for the women’s work.  “It’s their honour they work on,” said one forewoman.  “That’s why they stand it so well.”  The average working week is fifty-four hours, but overtime may seriously lengthen the tale.  Wages are high; canteens and rest-rooms are being everywhere provided; and the housing question is being tackled.  The rapidity of the women’s piece-work is astonishing, and the mingling of classes—­girls of education and refinement working quite happily with those of a much humbler type—­runs without friction

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The War on All Fronts: England's Effort from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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