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Delivered in the House of Lords, Sept. 17.
Your lordships will expect that some statement should be made by me on the general military situation before the session ends, and I will, therefore, endeavor as briefly as possible to supplement the remarks which I had the honor to address to your lordships’ House three weeks ago.
I need not retell the story of the British expeditionary force in France, which has been read and appreciated by us all in Sir John French’s dispatch. The quiet restraint of his account of their achievements only brings into relief the qualities which enabled our troops successfully to carry out the most difficult of all military operations. There is, however, one aspect of this feat of arms upon which the dispatch is naturally silent. I refer to the consummate skill and calm courage of the Commander in Chief himself, [cheers,] in the conduct of this strategic withdrawal in the face of vastly superior forces. His Majesty’s Government appreciate to the full the value of the service which Sir John French has rendered to this country and to the cause of the Allies, and I may perhaps be permitted here and now, on their behalf, to pay a tribute to his leadership, as well as to the marked ability of the Generals under his command, and the bravery and endurance of the officers and men of the expeditionary force.
The German Retirement.
As your lordships are aware the tide has now turned, and for some days past we have received the gratifying intelligence of the forced retirement of the German armies. The latest news from Sir John French does not materially change the published statement describing the military situation. In his telegram Sir John reports that the troops are all in good heart and are ready to move forward when the moment arrives. The gallant French armies, with whom we are so proud to be co-operating, will receive every support from our troops in their desire effectually to clear their country of the invading foe, and the undaunted and vigilant activity of the Belgian Army in the north materially conduces to this end. I would also like to take this opportunity of offering our respectful congratulations to Russia upon the conspicuous successes which have added fresh lustre to her arms. Although, therefore, we have good grounds for quiet confidence, it is only right that we should remind ourselves that the struggle is bound to be a long one, and that it behooves us strenuously to prosecute our labors in developing our armed forces to carry on and bring to a successful issue the mighty conflict in which we are engaged.
Troops in the Field.