INVASION AS A POSSIBILITY AND THE NEED FOR VOLUNTEERS.
[To THE EDITOR OP THE " SPECTATOR."]
Ssa,—Following the publication in the Times of what Lord French said on the above subject at a Volunteer inspection near Norwich on October 22nd, and the recent revival of German naval activity, I venture to suggest the present moment as far from inopportune for calling public attention to a few other seferences to the possibility of invasion—all of them subsequent to the battle of Jutland. The list is not, nor does it aim to be, exhaustive. It has been drawn up in the hope that the cumulative effect of reading these expressions of sober opinion, consecutively, may remedy in some degree their comparative failure to impress when presented singly, at intervals, and, as often as not, quite inconspicuously. They are given in order of date, with the name of the speaker and the occasion of the utterance, in each case:— " It is not impossible, it never can be impossible as long as the Germans are still in being, that you and I may have to stand in the trenches on British ground to defend those trenches you have dug."—Major-General Sir Francis Lloyd, Guildhall Volunteer recruiting meeting, June 21st.
" It was invasion for which they had to prepare, and although a distinguished statesman had said that the battle of Jutland had destroyed the fear of invasion, he thought that a somewhat optimistic view."—Major-General J. E. Dickie, at the same meeting.
" It was conceivable that some might be disposed to conclude that an invasion of this country was altogether impossible. He felt certain that that was a conclusion which ought not to be reached. . . . The need for such defence as our Volunteers were so well able to supply must not be taken to have passed away."—The Marquis of Crewe, meeting at Whitehall to discuss the further development of the V.T.C., July 7th.
n Invasion is no impossibility; ft may not be probable, but it is perfectly possible, and it is what we do not expect that happens in war."—Lord French, Volunteer inspection at Trowse, near Norwich, October 22nd.
There is no doubt that there has been a strong tendency with a large proportion of our Volunteers, and a still larger proportion of potential recruits, for these corps, to look upon all such references as witticisms, when not impatiently dismissing them as hopelessly pessimistic. The following apology by a Voluntsme for the slackness of some of the members of his corps was probably fairly typical when it appeared, just over two months ago :-
"They are not slackers; they have always protested that they intended to take up their volunteering again if the Government gave them something practical to do. When trench-digging was ordered some of them came back; but to most of them trench. digging seemed of little use. ' The Germans,' they argued, ' would never raid this country, so why dig trenches? ' "
What could be more logical in the absence of any but the most occasional and unemphasized of references to the possibility of [Unquestionably the distinguished soldiers and statesmen who have insisted on the possibility of invasion were sincere and meant business. They were not merely resorting to a recruiting stratagem. There will always be the possibility of invasion as long as the German Fleet remains in being. We are not safe unless that portion of the male population which stays at home is trained to arms and organized for war; in other words, without the Volunteer Force.—ED. Spectator.]