Recruiting Speech after Waterloo play
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
On 3 may 1915, Arthur Conan Doyle attended his own play Waterloo at The Brixton (London) and gave a speech after the performance about "how important it was that every able man should do something to help England at this anxious time".
The proceeds of the plays were devoted to the equipment fund of the Streatham Volunteer Corps.
« I am very pleased that my two plays should be played for recruiting purposes, especially if played so admirably as this first piece, Waterloo. I understand that one object of these performances is to buy rifles for the S.V.T.C. At present there are at least 400,000 volunteers who are entitled to wear the red brassards, soon there will be hundreds of thousands more. But we have no rifles except those we buy ourselves. The Government is not to blame; we volunteers form the last line of defence, and we can only be served after others. At present without rifles we feel rather like playing at soldiers. Some people think it quite the right thing to criticise and poke fun at the Volunteers. Only a year or so ago the same thing happened as regards the Territorials. Now they are in the front line, standing up to soldiers supposed to be the best in Europe. As the Territorials have done so well I am confident that the Volunteers — if called upon — would do equally unexpected things. I have complete confidence that if the war lasts the Volunteers will have a chance in France after all. The Germans now are using the Landsturm to garrison the whole of Belgium. I cannot see why our Volunteers should not be similarly used. I am certain that a British man of fifty is a precious sight better than a German of fifty. Volunteers here might well be used to relieve Regulars, and in that way we may be of real service. But further than this, I feel confident that out of, say, half-a-million of Volunteers, more than a half would volunteer for active foreign service, but it must, of course, be on a volunteer basis. »