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22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Mr. Conan Doyle and Army Reform

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Mr. Conan Doyle and Army Reform is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Westminster Gazette on 12 november 1900.


Mr. Conan Doyle and Army Reform

Sir, — In his very generous estimate of my Great Boer War your critic has stated that my scheme of Army reorganisation is to have a highly-trained home army of a hundred thousand men, and he pertinently asks where the defence of the Empire would come in. The plan which I put forward is the exact opposite. It is to have an army of a hundred thousand well-trained and well-paid men on the defence of the Empire, and to retain no regular soldiers save artillery and the Guards at home. Let the island be defended by the million of militia, volunteers, and riflemen, who could easily be raised if the public were taught that they were to rely entirely upon themselves for self-protection. We should then be stronger both at home and abroad than we are at present, and in war time we should have an enormous reserve of men who knew something of the use of weapons, and who could rapidly be turned into good soldiers. It is deplorable that our young men should all be playing games or shooting rabbits when they might so easily be doing something to strengthen their country. Apart from the Volunteer force there are great numbers of men who could very well learn the use of the rifle if some effort were made to provide facilities for it. At no great expense we could make ourselves invulnerable at home if we will only shake ourselves free from the ideas of the old-fashioned disciplinarian soldier, who will never admit how far a good spirit will atone for a scanty training.

I entirely agree with your critic as to the impossibility of writing a complete history of the war at present, but I make a rule with each fresh impression of my book to make additions and corrections so as always to incorporate into it the latest information on the subject. In this way I hope to minimise those objections which he urges.

Yours faithfully,
A. CONAN DOYLE
Undershaw, Hindhead, Haslemere.




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