Can we keep it up? The German papers have been consoling themselves with the reflection that so huge an effort must have exhausted our supplies. On the contrary, says Mr. Montagu. The output of the factories, week by week, now covers the expenditure in the field. No fear now, that as at Loos, as at Neuve Chapelle, and as on a thousand other smaller occasions, British success in the field should be crippled and stopped by shortage of gun and shell!
By whom has this result been brought about? By that army of British workmen—and workwomen—which Mr. Lloyd George in little more than one short year has mobilised throughout the country. The Ministry of Munitions is now employing three millions and a half of workers—(a year ago it was not much more than a million and a half)—of whom 400,000 are women; and the staff of the Ministry has grown from 3,000—the figure given in my earlier letters—to 5,000, just as that army of women, which has sprung as it were out of the earth at the call of the nation, has almost doubled since I wrote in April last. Well may the new Minister say that our toilers in factory and forge have had some share in the glorious recent victories of Russia, Italy, and France! Our men and our women have contributed to the re-equipment of those gallant armies of Russia, which, a month or six weeks earlier than they were expected to move, have broken up the Austrian front, and will soon be once more in Western Poland, perhaps in East Prussia! The Italian Army has drawn from our workshops and learnt from our experiments. The Serbian Army has been re-formed and re-fitted.
Let us sum up. The Germans, with years of preparation behind them, made this war a war of machines. England, in that as in other matters, was taken by surprise. But our old and proud nation, which for generations led the machine industry of the world, as soon as it realised the challenge—and we were slow to realise it!—met it with an impatient and a fierce energy which is every month attaining a greater momentum and a more wonderful result. The apparently endless supply of munitions which now feeds the British front, and the comparative lightness of the human cost at which the incredibly strong network of the German trenches on their whole first line system was battered into ruin, during the last days of June and the first days of July, 1916:—it is to effects like these that all that vast industrial effort throughout Great Britain, of which I saw and described a fragment three months ago, has now steadily and irresistibly brought us.