Speech about the Exploits of the Anzacs

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

On 27 january 1919, Arthur Conan Doyle was invited by the Australian and New Zealand Luncheon Club to a luncheon at the Connaught Rooms (Great Queen-street, London). Conan Doyle gave a speech about the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) exploits.


  • Chairman: Lieutenant-Colonel Sir J. McCall, Agent-General for Tasmania
  • Speakers :

Conan Doyle speech

Report from The Times

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.

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.

Report from the Daily Mail

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was the guest, said that there will be a very revengeful and brooding German nation of 70 or 80 millions opposite a French nation, with Alsace-Lorraine, of 45 millions. "We have," he added, "enough engines of war in this world. We do not want German ships ourselves, and we do not want to give them back. The finest and the most dramatic course would be to take them out and sink them. That would be real Der Tag." (Cheers.)

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