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MR. CHURCHILL'S REPLY TO GERMAN THREATS. A very important speech waa delivered by Mr. Churchill in the House of Commons on Monday. The First Lord reviewed the naval position, and, referring to the German threat- ened blockade, he said Germany could not be allowed to adopt a system of open piracy and murder. The time had come, he said, when the full force of our naval pressure must be for the first time applied to the enemy. We were now, said Mr. Churchill, to be the object of a kind of warfare never before prac- tised by a civilised State. The scuttling at ,sight, without search or parley, of merchant ships by submarine agency would have been universally reprobated and repudiated before the war, but it must not be supposed that be- cause the attack was extraordinary a good de- fence and a good reply could not be made. Losses no doubt would be incurred. Of that he gave full warning, but no vital injury could be done. Germany could not be allowed to adopt a system of open piracy and murder, while re- maining herself protected by a bulwark of in- ternational instruments which she had utterly repudiated and defied. There were good reasons for believing that the economic pressure which the Navy exerted was beginning to be felt in Germany. So far we had/lflot attempted to stop imports of food, we had not prevented neutral ships from trading direct with German ports, and we had allowed German exports in neutral ships to pass unchallenged. The time had come when the enjoyment of these immuni- ties by a State which had as a matter of de- liberate policy placed herself outside all inter- national obligations must be reconsidered, and a further declaration on the part of the Allied Governments would promptly be made which "would have the effect for the first time of I applying the full force of naval pressure to the enemy. 1, FULLY-EQUIPPED FLEET. I As to the Navy's preparedness for war, Mr. Churchill said that on the declaration of war we had a Fleet of sufficient superi- ority for all our needs, with a good margin for safety in vital matters, fully mobilised; a Fleet equipped for every requirement down to the smallest detail. We had enough supplies of ammunition, torpedoes, coal, officers, and men, and a complete system of transport, as well as an immense programme of new construction. There had been an enormous increase in the figures relating to ammunition. In time of peace one got little credit for such expenditure, but in time of war we thanked God it had been made. In regard to oil, there were ample supplies, and it was found possible to convert the Royal Sovereigns into completely oil-fuel ships. When mobilisation took place we were able to man every ship which was fit to be sent to sea, to man powerful new vessels building for foreign nations, and for which no provision had been made, and also man a large number of armed merchantmen. In addition, the Admiralty were able to pro- vide all the men necessary for the naval air service, which never existed three years ago, but which had already made a name for itself. The German army was no more ready for offensive warfare on a gigantic scale than was the British Fleet for national defence. I GERMANS IN HIDING. I Since November last two important events had happened. There was the victory off the Falkland Islands and the cruieer action on the Dodger Bank. The German flag had disap- peared from the oceans of the world. Only two small German cruisers and two armed mer- chantment were still at large, and these vessels were at present in hiding. During the last three months, on an average, about 8,000 British vessels had been continuously on the seas. Nineteen vessels had been sunk r-y the enemy, only four by above-water craft. The great sailors of the past, men of the revolu- tionary and Napoleonic wars, would have been astounded. During the two great wars which began in 1793 and ended in 1814 10,871 British merchant ships were sunk or captured by the enemy, and even after the decisive bøttl. of Trafalgar the loss to British shipping aver- aged over 500 a year. Our total losses on the high seas in the first six months of the war, not including trawlers engaged in mine-sweep- ing, were only 63. The command of the sea had not only en- abled our tr4de to be carried on practically without interruption, but we had been able to move freely about the world very large numbers of troops—approximately 1,000,000 men—without accident or loss of life. I NAVY SOUND AS A BELL. I The combat off the Dogger Bank was of great advantage, beSause of the light it threw on rival systems of designs, relative armament, gunnery, and efficiency. The range of the British guns exceeded that of the Germans, and the shooting was at least as good. Another remarkable feature of the action was that the steaming of our ships exceeded all records, despite the fact that they had been six months at sea. The truth was that the Navy was as sound as a bell all through. When, if ever, the great Fleets drew out for a general battle, we should hope to bring into line a preponderance not only in quality but in numbers, which would not be five to four, but something consider- ably greater. The losses of the Navy, although small as compared with the sacrifices of the Army, had been heavy. We had lost, mainly by submarines, the lives of about 5,500 officers and men, but we had killed, mainly by gun- fire, an equal number, which was, of course, a much larger proportion of the German force engaged. We had also taken in sea fighting 82 officers and 934 men prisoners of war. No British naval prisoners of war had been taken in fighting at sea by the Germans. (Cheers.) We had established for the time being a command of the sea such as we had never expected, and such as we had never known at any other period of our history. (Cheers.) In conclusion, Mr. Churchill said that in the months that were to come the British Navy and the sea power which it exerted would increasingly dominate the g. nera] situation, would be the main unfailing resource of the Allied nations, would pro- gressively paralyse the fighting erili gie-P, of our antagonists, and could, if need were, even in default of all other favourable causes, ultimately by itself decide the issue of this war. .—— ——.




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