For every 100 eighteen-pounders
turned out in the first 10
months of the war, we are now turning out 500.
We are producing 18 times as many machine-guns.
Of rifles—the most difficult of all war material to produce quickly in large quantities—our weekly home production is now 3 times as great as it was a year ago. We are supplying our Army overseas with rifles and machine-guns entirely from home sources.
Of small-arms ammunition
our output is 3 times as great as
a year ago.
We are producing 66
times as much high explosive as at the
beginning of 1915; and our output of bombs is 33 times as
great as it was last year.
At the same time, what is Great Britain doing for her Allies?
The loss of her Northern Provinces, absorbed by the German invasion, has deprived France of three-quarters of her steel. We are now sending to France one-third of the whole British production of shell-steel.
We are also supplying
the Allies with the constituents of
high explosive in very large quantities, prepared by our
We are sending to the Allies millions of tons of coal and coke every month, large quantities of machinery, and 20 per cent. of our whole production of machine tools (indispensable to shell manufacture).
We are supplying Russia
with millions of pairs of Army
And in the matter of ammunition, we have not only enormously increased the quantity produced—we have greatly improved its quality. The testimony of the French experts—themselves masters in these arts of death—as conveyed through M. Thomas, is emphatic. The new British heavy guns are “admirably made”—“most accurate”—“most efficient.”
Meanwhile a whole series of chemical problems with regard to high explosives have been undertaken and solved by Lord Moulton’s department. If it was ever true that science was neglected by the War Office, it is certainly true no longer; and the soldiers at the front, who have to make practical use of what our scientific chemists and our explosive factories at home are producing, are entirely satisfied.
For that, as Mr. Montagu points out, is the sole and supreme test. How has the vast activity of the new Ministry of Munitions—an activity which the nation owes—let me repeat it—to the initiative, the compelling energy, of Mr. Lloyd George—affected our armies in the field?
The final answer to that question is not yet. The Somme offensive is still hammering at the German gates; I shall presently give an outline of its course from its opening on July 1st down to the present. But meanwhile what can be said is this.
The expenditure of ammunition which enabled us to sweep through the German first lines, in the opening days of this July, almost with ease, was colossal beyond all precedent. The total amount of heavy guns and ammunition manufactured by Great Britain in the first ten months of the war, from August, 1914, to June 1, 1915, would not have kept the British bombardment on the Somme going for a single day. That gives some idea of it.