Before the War eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 161 pages of information about Before the War.
misinformed, no doubt in that capital, and there is no truth whatever in what he had been told about what he called the “perfidious and naif revelations” of the British Military Attache at Brussels.  Him the story represents as having said that his Minister (by whom I presume myself, as the then Secretary of State for War, to have been intended) and the British General Staff were the only persons in the secret.  I have to observe, in the first place, that I never during my tenure of office, either suggested any such plan, or heard of anyone else suggesting it.  When the story was brought to my knowledge, which was not until November, 1914, I inquired at once of General Barnardiston and of his successor, Colonel Bridges, whether there was any foundation for it.  The reply from each of these distinguished officers was that there was none.

We were among the guarantors of Belgian neutrality, and it was of course conceivable that, if she called on us to do so, we might have had to defend her.  It would be part of the duty of our Military Attache to remember this, and, if opportunity offered, to ascertain in informal conversation the view of the Belgian General Staff as to what form of help they would be likely to ask us for.  This he doubtless did, and indeed it appears from what the Chief of the Belgian General Staff wrote to the Belgian War Minister that the former had discussed the contingency of Belgium desiring our help with General Barnardiston, and had done so gladly.  But even so the conversation must have been very informal, for in the account of it by the Chief of the Belgian General Staff there are errors about the composition of the possible British Force which indicate that either he took no notes, or else that Colonel Barnardiston had not thought it an occasion which required him to obtain details from London.  At all events, such talk as there was appears to have had relation only to what we ought to do, if requested by Belgium to help, in case of her being invaded by another Power.

The documents will be found in the volume of Collected Diplomatic Documents relating to the outbreak of the war, presented to Parliament in May, 1915 (Cd. 7860).  This volume includes a vigorous denial by Sir Edward Grey of the insinuation.



The great war is over, and the Powers of the West have conquered.  In the earlier pages I have given my own view of why they won in the tremendous struggle that now belongs to history.  They had on their side moral forces which were lacking to their adversaries.

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Before the War from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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