Exploits of the Anzacs: Sir A. Conan Doyle's Account

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Exploits of the Anzacs: Sir A. Conan Doyle's Account is an article published in The Times on 28 january 1919.

Report of the lecture given by Arthur Conan Doyle at the Connaught Rooms luncheon (Great Queen-street, London) on 27 january 1919, by the Australian and New Zealand Luncheon Club, in celebration of Australia Day.

Note : ANZAC = Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Exploits of the Anzacs

The Times (28 january 1919, p. 3)

Sir A. Conan Doyle's Account.

German Military Strength.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the chief guest at a luncheon given at the Connaught Rooms, Great Queen-street, yesterday, by the Australian and New Zealand Luncheon Club, in celebration of Australia Day, which this year fell on Sunday. Lieutenant-Colonel Sir J. McCall, Agent-General for Tasmania, was in the chair.

Sir A. Conan Doyle said the Australians had never been involved in a disaster and they had twice saved the situation when it had been in an absolutely desperate condition. (Cheers.) The first occasion was about March 20, at the end of Gough's retreat, when his Army, through no fault of his, was disintegrating after enduring terrible hammer blows for six days in succession. When the position in Flanders became desperate the First Australian Division was sent north. Resistance had gone to piece, the 31st Division had been annihilated, and the Fourth Guards Brigade had fought to the death — one of the most magnificent episodes of the War — there was nothing between the Germans and Hazebrouck, and if the Germans had got that place they would probably have captured the Channel Ports. But the Australians were there and the Germans did not capture the Channel Ports. (Cheers.) When the British resumed the offensive the Australians, in their victorious career, captured Mount St. Quentin. Standing on that hill one would think a rabbit could not get up it. How the Australians ever got up there and put the Germans out was a marvel. The survivors of a body of wonderful American troops who buried themselves in the heart of the German Army were rescued on the second or third day by the Australians fighting towards them. As to, the New Zealanders, nobody could say that any division had a finer record. From August 21 they never stopped till the white flag went up.

German Military Position.

Speaking of the future, Sir Conan Doyle said that thoughtful people could not look at the position without anxiety. The revengeful, brooding German nation, numbering not less than 70 or 80 millions, would be opposite the dwindling French nation, numbering with Alsace-Lorraine not more than 45 millions. If we did not want our children or grand-children to have to do this job again, we ought, now that we had the Germans down, to pull their teeth and cut their claws. (Cheers.) Germany's military position had been actually. strengthened. In place of great military neighbours like the Russia and Austria which existed before the war, Germany would now have on the east and the south a lot of little States, any of which could be neutralized by a German corps or two. The proposal that the whole west bank of the Rhine should he placed under the administration of France he did not think feasible. It would be going against everything we had fought for in this war, if we put 10,000,000 Germans under the French. It was clean against President Wilson's 14 points, and once they had been broken to such an extent the whole thing would go by the board. What he thought could easily be done — and he only threw it out as a suggestion — was that territory to the West of the Rhine should be made a separate German country. If the Germans liked to federate, well and good ; but the West of the Rhine should be a unit, when certain laws should not be broken except on pain of war. One law was that out of the population on that side of the Rhine the Germans should get no conscripts.

Major Evelyn Wrench, in proposing "The Chairman," said that he believed that one of the reasons of the success of the Australian and New Zealand troops was the prevalence among them of promotion by merit. He hoped that example would be followed throughout the Empire.

Future of Pacific Islands.

After the luncheon a brief meeting of Australians was held, at which Colonel Sir J. Barrett moved the following resolution:—

That this meeting of Australians in London expresses its appreciation of the attitude of the Australian Prime Minister in voicing at the Peace Conference Australian opinion in regard to the future of the Pacific Islands ; wishes him success in his efforts ; and uncompromisingly asserts that it is essential that these former enemy possessions captured by Australian forces shall, for the future safety and welfare of the Commonwealth and the Dominion, be placed effectively within British control. If necessary under mandate of the league of Nations.

Mr. W. S. Robinson seconded the resolution, which was agreed to.