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engineering to warlike par. committee ander Lord Kitposes. It also produoed frio- obener was no sinecure. He tion in administration, and divided up the work into seomany complaints of a varied tions, allotting to eaob memoharaoter. Consequently, the ber certain portions which he Seoretary of State, in answer had to work out in detail, and to questions in the House in present to the obairman for 1911, stated that the whole careful discussion and deliber. subject was being referred to ation. Nothing was allowed a Committee under the chair- to be dealt with in a permanship of the most dis- fanotory manner, and, in ad. tinguished Engineer officer of dition to the evidence of many the day.
witnesses, previous reports of Lord Kitohener assembled committees had to be searched this oommittee early in May, and examined. and it sat twice a week, except The members of the com. during the aotual Coronation mittee were all, with one ex. time, until late in August. ception, officers either on the The terms of reference were headquarter staff or quartered very wide, comprising not only in London. The one exoeption the numbers of Engineer units was the Chief Engineer of the for varied work in the army, Aldershot oommand, an apbut the composition in detail pointment which I then beld. of those units, the duties and At Aldershot, at that time, training of both officers and with the full conourrence and mon, the relations of military support of the General Offioer engineers to civil experience Commanding-in-Chief, we were and civil engineers, the em- endeavouring to
to train our ployment and organisation of R.E. field units, as far as works oarried out in peace for our limited means admitted, the army, the system of sig. in the application to military nalling, and of the units oom- purposes of materials which posing the signal service, rail- hitherto had been considered ways, coast defenoe, eleotrio entirely outside the sphere of lights, and the technioal troops field operations. We conrequired for all the above struoted field casemates (after. speoial branches, with the wards known in the war as financial considerations in "dug-outs ") of conorete and volved in all of the above steel. We built field bridges matters. There was an im- of steel girders and plates, and mense amount of detailed work then blew them up. We involved, as well as broad improvised trench mortarsquestions of military polioy: very crude affairs, but useful suoh as the organisation in enough in their way. The war corresponding to
to the underlying principle in all this polioy, then accepted, of an was that we expeoted that in Expeditionary Force of six the next war we should have divisions.
such forces bronght against To be member of such a our works as oould not be met by the old-fashioned combina- eminent general, both of whom tions of timber and brushwood. commanded armies in the war, Moreover, we expected that we afterwards expressed to me might have the resouroes of their complete ohange of views, modern building and engineer- as a result of the bitter exing materials of all sorts avail- perience of the war. One went able, from which we could so far as to say that he always draw our supplies. Our aim, told his corps commanders generally, was to bring into that the most important man modern war the soience and in their corps was the Chief practice of civil engineer. Engineer. Although this ing.
frank avowal of a past misThis, however, was not the take was characteristio of view held by the General Staff, the charming and chivalrous & distinguished member of nature of the men who exwhich was one of the other pressed it, the fact remains members of the Kitohener that we started the war with Committee. He held—and this a heavy handioap owing to was (broadly speaking) the the mistake. view of the General Staff up The controversy
between to 1914 – that the inoreased these opposing schools of range of modern weapons, thought often waged hot. and the inoreased facilities for Lord Kitohener listened, as a moving troops, would involve rule, with a grim smile, not operations at far greater dis- interfering with either. But tances than in former wars, he wanted more men and more and render engineering works units, and his sound economi80 rarely necessary as to be oal mind realised at once that hardly worth construoting. some oompromise was needed, The experiences of South whereby the financial effect Africa and Manoharia, he held, would be the same, though the had shown that field defenoes, ideal of perfeotion might not although very valuable tacti- be attained. He therefore adoally, were principally those vocated & larger number of whioh could be hastily oon- unskilled men, with a nuoleus struoted, and hence skilled of tradesmen, and to pay for artisans would be rarely re- the inorease he reoommended qaired—a few carpenters, per. certain drastio reductions in haps, and possibly brioklayers, other matters. might be useful; but as for Writing of the summer of other trades, such as plumbers, 1911 brings to mind memories draughtsmen, painters, &o., of many things—the splendid there oould be no war employ- pageants of the Coronation, ment for them, and to retain the beauties of the country them in our field units was near Aldershot, with hot fieldsheer waste of money. It is days at Woolmer Forest and only fair to say that the dig. Chobbam, the thoughts that tinguished officer in question, we had of possibilities of fiercer and also another equally and hotter oonfliots overseas, for the Agadir incident brought unanswerable, but I feared it us very near to war; but to might be otherwise. those of us who were associated And so it turned out. I was, with Lord Kitohener either on very muoh to my regret, transthe Committee or in command ferred from Aldershot to the of Coronation troops (and I War Office shortly afterwards, was oonoerned in both), the and there, naturally, watohed recollection of his personality the result with interest. The is perhaps the most important. reductions which Lord KitchI had served under him in ener bad recommended were at India, but my duties were con- onoe oarried out with avidity. fined to one part of the N.-W. The inoreases, for which these Frontier, and though there we reduotions were to pay, were realised that he, more than shelved. Except for some imany of his predecessors, had provements in the signal sertaken pains to acquaint him- vioe, the branch of the army self at first hand with the conoerned was really in a worse problems involved, yet natur- state in 1914 than it was in ally one saw little of him. He 1911. A little had been done had, like Julius Cæsar (as in the intervening years to quoted by Lord Haldane in train R.E. units in siege-works, his book, from the words of and some increase was allowed Mommsen), the quality “of in the quantity of explosives discriminating between the carried by field units, and the possible and the impossible. method of supplying them,
What was possible he matters which bore fruit in performed, and never left the the early days of the war. In possible good undone for the the main and essential features sake of the impossible better.” of the problem, no improveIn his work, therefore, of the ment was effected. Committee in 1911, he reoog- I was in Cairo in the early nised that a compromise be- part of 1914, and briefly distween the extreme views of cussed the matter with him. his colleagues was the practio- As in all other, and more im. able course to recommend, and portant, national questions, his this he did.
loyalty to orders from above At the conolusion of our was always supreme, and he labours, one day, walking spoke about it without bitteraway with me, he said that it ness. He said, however, that had been a long task, but he he thought & grave mistake hoped it would result in good. had been made, and that we When I expressed the fear that should find it out when we it might not be approved by went to war. I do not think higher authority at the War that he ever imagined that it Office, he said that surely they would fall to him to effeot the would not have called on & change. man of his position to advise Then came the war. The unless they meant to follow Expeditionary Foroe mobilised his advioe. The argument was and slipped over to Franoe with swiftness and secreoy. good it had accomplished the In some respects the employ. Kitchener Committee of 1911 ment of the best mechanical need never have assembled. means for saving labour and However, Lord Kitchener money and time had been himself was now at the helm, considered, but not even the and this was the best angury greatest panegyrist of the for the future. Not that in General Staff would think of respeot of improvement in the asserting that this considera- fighting line he could then tion had gone beyond certain effeot anything. He had a far very limited, though important, wider and bigger task in applioations of engineering to hand, and as the initiative transportation, and certainly in all matters concerning the no one oan say that the subject fighting foroe had necessarily had been oonsidered at all by to come from the Commanderthe Staff in connection with the in-Chief in the field according operations of battle. That the as the necessities of war deunits of the Royal Engineers manded, it was some months in the various divisions of the before the bitter experience force were thoroughly efficient of the trench warfare of the and well officered is admitted by winter showed how lamentably the universal consent of the deficient we were in the enginArmy. But there was no higher eering branch of the army, and organisation, no Engineer-in- in our organisation for utilising Chief of the Foroe, and no Chief the science of engineering to Eagineers of Corps. There was military needs. at G.H.Q. & senior offioer as Meantime there was engin"engineering adviser"attached eering on a vast soale to be to the Staff, and there were done at home. The first 100,000 similar officers with each Army of the new army sprung at Corps. But the entire estab- onoe to arms at the oall of the lishments of these funotionaries great leader. It had to be consisted in each case of one housed as well as olothed, soldier olerk, and the officers in fed, and armed. The housing question were advisers only, of troops and seleotion of with no executive powers to sites, &o., was then in the parohase materials, hire labour, hands of what was, somewhat or carry out any work what- inappropriately, termed the ever. The oontrast between Peace Distribution Committee, their position and that which, composed of representatives of at a later period of the war, nearly every branoh of the was held by the Engineer-in- War Office. A small subChief at G.H.Q. with his large committee (one of whom, organisation of experts, and Colonel Pell, was killed a few elaborate sections for defenoes, months later when gallantly mining, water supply, &o., is commanding a battalion of his very remarkable. At the be- regiment, the Queen's, against ginning of the war all this was tremendous odds, but who then non-existent, and for all the was on the training branoh, of the General Staff) was soouring permanent barraoks or hutthe country for suitable sites ments were rigidly barred. for hutted oamps, and had just On the 23rd August, the received a patriotio offer from first encampment for a division Earl Brownlow, placing his —the 11th, which afterwards beautiful park at Belton, in was so terribly tried in GalLinoolnshire, at their dis- lipoli — was begun at Belton posal. A contraotor of world. Park. The work was comwide experience offered his pleted in less than three services in an exeontive months. capacity to Lord Kitchener, Lord Kitchener's biographer The teohnioal staff of the War has related how on that Office was busy, day and night, memorable 23rd August it designing the details of the was discovered that the typioal hats required. By the Germans' great outflanking 14th of August the plans were movement was taking place, ready and approved. But it and how in the early hours of was not an unqualified appro- the 24th this serious menace val that Lord Kitchener gave. wag made known to Sir John True to his invariable habit of Frenoh. weighing the end with the At 9 A.M., on the 24th, Lord means, and careful to observe Kitohener was in his place at publio economy, he at once the War Office and sent for asked for an estimate of the me. I went along the passage typioal cost for a battalion of expecting some further de1000 men with all the neces- velopment of the hutting вагу accessories of water
of water orders, but when I entered his supply, drainage, roads, and room the first word he said
On being told it was "Havre." Then he asked would be £15,000, he at once whether I had worked out said that it was too muoh, any sohome for the defenoe of and that although the first the baso ports overseas. I lot might go on, oare must replied that I had not, both be taken hereafter to reduce because any operations in the the cost. He only sanotioned field were outside the limits of such shelters as were a sub- my daty, and also because the stitute for tents, and could be initiative in such matters rapidly provided to serve for emanated from the General the emergenoy of the war only. Staff. Then he asked me to It was pointed out to him that name two of the best engineer the coming winter would de- offioers I could lay my hands mand something better than on, in order that they might the rough shelters he indioated, be ordered without a minute's and that some of the amenities delay to proceed to France and of life, such as recreation-rooms, work out schemes for defence would be required in addition of the base ports. I named to what was needed for health, two officers, one from Dover, and these arguments he ad. another from Chatham, both of mitted. But anything like whom earned high distinotion