WHY did the Allies bring such strong pressure to bear upon General Pershing to get our men as replacements for their armies?
Because the military authorities of France and Britain not only were unable to get the men necessary to increase the size of their armies in the field but were having a hard struggle to keep these armies from shrinking in strength.
The idea generally held by the public during the war and since that the Allied armies always greatly outnumbered the armies of the Central Powers is wrong.
The Allies did greatly outnumber the Central Powers in the total of their male populations.
Had they all entered the war with armies raised by universal service or conscription the Allied armies would have swamped the armies of the Central Powers with their overwhelming numbers.
The same would have been true within twelve to eighteen months of the outbreak of the war if all the Allied nations when war was declared had immediately put universal service or conscription to work to produce the maximum-sized armies, capable of being drawn from their male population.
All except Britain entered the war with a universal service or conscription law in force. As a matter of fact in August, 1914, the only nations of any consequence in Europe, Asia, and North and South America without such laws were Britain and her colonies, the United States, and China.
However, the only Allied nation which entered the war with such a law in full enforcement and kept up to that standard was France.
Russia's armies in the field after her mobilization did not exceed in numbers those put in by France, though her population was 170,000,000 and that of France but 40,000,000. Until the revolution took her out of the war she did not better this record.
Italy used her universal service law to increase the size of her armies in the field. Her strength ultimately bore a proportion of 13 to 8 to that of the Austrians on her front. However, her high command, far from feeling able to send reenforcements to the front in France, from time to time asked the French and British to send troops to the Italian front. After we entered the war a request was made for several hundred thousand of our troops.
The greater part of Japan's large and efficient army based on universal service never fired a shot during the war. A relatively small force was sent to besiege Tsingtau, the German military and commercial base in the Shantung peninsula in China. After its capture with the help of a small British force in November, 1914, no more fighting was done.
Britain and her self-governing colonies, with the exception of New Zealand, had not adopted universal service or conscription in its real sense up to the time we entered the war.
Canada put such a law in operation five months after we had done so by our law of May 18, 1917. Britain waited until April 18, 1918, eleven months later.
The British soldiers like Lord Kitchener and Lord Roberts knew that nothing less than the manhood of the nation under arms would create and maintain the large army which must be put in the field if the Central Powers were to be beaten.
The British statesmen had not conceived the war on any such terms.
From the beginning of Britain's history as a nation she had never put her whole manhood under arms.
Her wars on the continent of Europe, in Asia, Africa, and the Americas had been fought by her regulars, volunteers from the adventurous part of her population, colonials, and the troops of allies.
Secure from. invasion because of her large navy under such great admirals as Hawke and Nelson, the mass of her people remained at home attending to their ordinary affairs.
While navies cost large sums of money the number of men they take from a population is small by comparison with the demands of an army in campaign and battle.
Content with the military situation covered in this manner the British statesmen helped toward victory by using diplomacy to gain additional allies and furnishing money and supplies to those nations which joined their side.
These were the conditions under which Marlborough fought on the continent of Europe during the War of the Spanish Succession and Wellington during the Napoleonic Wars, the two big European convulsions prior to the Great War of 1914-18.
Of the 750,000 Allied troops which moved against Napoleon I in the campaign in 1815 less than 40,000 were British. The rest were Russian and German mostly, with a few Belgian and Dutch.
At the battle of Waterloo Wellington had engaged about 70,000 men of the army he commanded. Of these 25,000 were British, the others being German, Dutch, and Belgian. When the Prussian Marshal Blücher appeared late in the afternoon and attacked Napoleon's right flank he brought 50,000 Prussians with him.
Until the Great War the Boer War was the greatest military effort ever made by the British Empire. Of the 270,000 troops in round numbers sent to South Africa approximately 40,000 were in colonial units.
Shortly after Britain declared war a struggle began on the part of those Britishers who believed that Great Britain must immediately raise and maintain large armies based on the number of males of military age in her population.
From the first they were resisted, and with considerable success, by those who believed Britain could fight this war by the same methods as she had her past wars.
The great Lord Kitchener was appointed British minister of war immediately war was declared. Lord Northcliffe, the owner of the Daily Mail, the London Times, and a long list of other British papers, was largely responsible. Through his papers he had been warning his fellow countrymen for years of war with Germany. He knew that in such a war Britain must throw in her whole power. He knew that only a man of Lord Kitchener's breadth of military view and organizing experience could bring into existence the war army which Britain must have or be beaten, and which she neither had nor had made any preparations to produce once war came.
Through his papers Lord Northcliffe so stirred up the nation that the prime minister, Mr. Asquith, stopped Kitchener, who was just leaving England for the post he then occupied in Egypt. Twenty-four hours later Mr. Asquith made him minister of war.
His first remark on taking over the war office was "There is no army." He meant of course that the 110 000 regulars, equal in number to the troops put in the field by Belgium, sent to France as an Expeditionary Force and the 200,000 territorials, a civilian soldier force very similar to our national guard, were utterly inadequate as the war army of a nation like Britain.
He set 70 divisions as the number to which the British army should be raised without delay. If she raised troops in the same proportion to her population as Germany, England had to bring a total of at least 105 divisions into existence. One hundred divisions constituted Kitchener's ideal strength for the British army.(3)
Like General Sherman when he announced at the beginning of our Civil War that it would last at least three years and take a large army, Lord Kitchener soon found himself unpopular. This because he fought the idea only too commonly held that Germany would be beaten in a few months, insisted that the war would last from three to five years, and that Britain must put her manhood under arms.
Lord Kitchener's fight was to convince his countrymen that, regardless of whatever they might have done in past wars, they must produce an army containing the same proportion of Britain's men as the armies of Germany and France contained of Germans and Frenchmen.
In other words, he had to put himself in opposition to those who seized upon the phrase, said to have originated with Mr. Winston Churchill, "Business as usual" as an excuse to dodge the seriousness of the issue. This phrase naturally appealed to those who in the period preceding the war had formed the habit of pooh-poohing the warnings of the professional soldier who, as the war was to show, was more than justified in his predictions.
What the public needed to understand---and above all the business man---was that victory could not be had by "business as usual." Unless all civil activities were prepared to turn their energies solely to those directions which made for the supplying and maintenance of a large army in the field and a fleet at sea; unless all business interests were ready to sacrifice every selfish consideration and put the whole weight of the nation's material resources, as well as its man-power, into the scale of war, the balance could not be inclined to the side of victory.
It was not that the nation was not ready enough, and patriotically inclined enough, to go to war as it had done in the past on many occasions.
It was simply that the people as a whole and many leaders of the government did not realize the seriousness of the situation and the magnitude of the effort---far beyond anything ever attempted by Britain before---which had to be made.
Lord Kitchener saw that universal service must come if Britain was to put her man-power in the field. However, his position in the cabinet showed him the political difficulties which stood in the way of its immediate enforcement. At least half the cabinet was violently opposed to it.
Also Lord Kitchener's loyalty to Mr. Asquith, the prime minister, prevented his urging conscription until volunteering failed to provide the number of men needed both to make good losses and steadily to increase the size of the army. Mr. Asquith's energies were devoted to compromising the differences of opinion which existed.
Therefore for some time Lord Kitchener devoted himself to the great task of getting the principle accepted that Britain must have a large army and of getting the immense work of its organization under way. The method used to supply the men he left to the cabinet ministers and parliament.
His real feelings on the matter are shown by an exclamation he made at a conference of the French and British ministers of war and a number of generals in France in March, 1915. The conference had brought out the difficulties facing the Allies.
Lord Kitchener said and repeated that "the only way out of the difficulty was by conscription and that if we had conscription, none of these troubles would have occurred."(4)
That he felt the necessity of working to get the principle of a large army accepted is shown by one of the first of the few speeches made by him in the House of Lords, of which he was a member.
In this speech he brought home in a striking manner that victory could come only as a result of beating the German army on the continent of Europe; that to do this Britain must put an army proportionate to her strength in France.
As an answer to those who feared that sending troops to France would leave England herself in danger of attack---and they were both numerous and politically strong---he said: "Defending the French Channel ports is the same as defending the suburbs of London." He was trying to illustrate the old military maxim, that "the best defense is offense." In other words the only way to make England really safe from invasion was to go after the German army wherever it might be and beat it. The only way to beat it was to put a large army in the field facing the German one.
Despite opposition, many discouragements, the tremendous mass of detail which bringing a new army into existence entails, despite ridicule which nicknamed his new army the "shadow Armies coming from nowhere, bound nowhere," he steadily persisted.
When the waters of the North Sea closed over the British cruiser Hampshire, blown up by a mine or a submarine (which, as yet unknown), bringing Kitchener's life on this earth to an end, his great work of bringing a British war army of 70 divisions into existence was virtually completed.
A few weeks later it was put to its first great test, the stubborn battle of the Somme, which dragged its bloody way through the summer of 1916 to the fall of that same year.
To begin with, volunteering was relied upon to raise the new armies. There was a splendid response. Two million joined the first year. However, to quote Field-Marshal Sir William Robertson, the general who longest held the post of chief of the Imperial General Staff during the war, "By the autumn of 1915 it [the volunteer system] was rapidly breaking down."(5)
In August, 1915, a national registration act was passed which registered every person between the ages of sixteen and sixty-five but brought no men to the army.
In October, 1915, the Derby Scheme was started, by which men voluntarily attested "their willingness to serve as called to fill the needs of the army." The government promised to call the unmarried men first.
However, it was found that out of 2,000,000 unmarried men fit for service, some 650,000 dodged service by simply failing to attest. This provoked so much indignation that in January, 1916, the first act in any way compulsory was passed.
This act gave these men the choice of voluntarily attesting or being considered, by failing to do so by a certain date, as having enlisted in the army.
In other words, like some of our Civil War legislation, the act was a club used to encourage volunteering.
While a long step forward, this act fell far short of compulsory universal service.
Everywhere the British generals in the field were demanding more men, both to make good the inevitable losses of war and to enable them to carry out the missions which they were given to execute and for which the forces assigned them were inadequate.
Sir John French commanding the British forces in France found himself badly in need of more troops early in 1915. As a consequence plans were made to incorporate the Belgian army into the British by brigades. However, the Belgian king would not permit this to be done.(6)
Marshal Robertson shows that though the board of trade, the then recognized authority on British manpower, agreed that 358,000 men could be taken in the first quarter of 1916 without great disturbance of trade, and as many as 530,000 without disaster, the army got only 212,000. The need was for 390,000.
As a consequence, in May, 1916, another service act was passed to take effect in June, which extended the powers of the government to take men, but was still not a full-fledged conscription law. This gave better results, but still did not yield the required number of men.
By July, 1916, when the first Somme battle began, Great Britain had in France approximately 1,300,000 troops, including Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, and British Indians. She had another 600,000 from these countries and also from South Africa scattered in the Mediterranean, the Near East, and Africa.
Something over a year later, in August, 1917, the British had reached their maximum strength in France of not quite 2,000,000 men. Thereafter their strength dropped from time to time to as much as 200,000 below this figure. They had something over 1,500,000 more scattered in the Mediterranean, the Near East, and Africa. At that time and since, the best military opinion in Britain, as well as other countries, was convinced that the greater part of these troops should have been on the French front. Victories gained in these distant theaters of war in no way weakened the fighting strength of the German army in France. With Russia out that strength had been greatly increased. Both reason and the information daily gathered showed Germany intended to use this strength to strike a series of tremendous blows. Every soldier was needed to face it in an effort to stop it.
When the first blow came in March, 1918, this lack of men resulted in a German victory and tremendous loss to the British.
Then and only then in a desperate effort to fill their ranks in France, two days before Marshal Haig seeing himself face to face with the end issued his famous desperate appeal, "With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight on to the end," was a bill passed putting conscription fully in force in Britain.
The question of conscription was not a new one in Britain. For a period of years prior to the war---in fact, since the Entente Cordiale with France in 1904 ---it had been widely discussed.
The leader in this was a society called the National Service League, of which the famous Lord Roberts was the president. Lord Milner, later to be the British minister of war for the last six months of the war, was another leader.
The motto of the society was, "The Path of Duty is the Path of Safety."
Prior to the outbreak of the war, this society advocated compulsory military training in peace to provide adequate home defense in time of war.
At the outbreak of the war, it suspended its propaganda and placed its whole organization at the disposal of the government.
In the fall of 1914, Lord Roberts, its president, died. His advocacy of compulsory service through the years prior to the war, as well as after its outbreak, greatly helped to increase the belief that only by such service could Lord Kitchener's great British war army be brought into existence and maintained.
The people had confidence in both Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener, because of their long and successful careers in the British army. Both had fought in most of Britain's many colonial campaigns in Asia and Africa. Lord Roberts in command, with Lord Kitchener as his chief of staff, had taken over the British forces in South Africa after a succession of defeats, with bloody losses, at the hands of the Boers. They then brought this expensive and exasperating war to a successful conclusion for Britain.
The public opposed some of the statesmen who advocated compulsory service. They believed them to be using it as a cloak under which to obtain compulsory labor. On the contrary, they had the greatest confidence in both Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener.
As a consequence, to these two men must be given a large portion of the credit for the ultimate adoption of compulsory service, even though it only came in its complete form well within the last year of the war.
Lord Roberts's last message to his fellow countrymen, issued shortly before his death, was "The Supreme Duty of the Citizen at the Present Crisis." It began with the words:
"There is but one duty for the British citizen at the present time---men and women, young and old, rich and poor, all alike must place everything at the service of the State. Nothing must be kept back---time, energy, money, talents, even life itself, must be freely offered in this supreme crisis."
It finished with the words:
"Two years ago, at a crowded meeting in Manchester, I said to my fellow countrymen: 'Arm and prepare to acquit yourselves like men, for the time of your ordeal is at hand.' I claim a hearing therefore when I say today: 'Arm and prepare to acquit yourselves like men, for the time of your ordeal has come.' "
By the end of the first year of the war, that is, in August, 1915, the National Service League had decided that the time had come for it to renew its propaganda for national service. It began the new campaign by stating, "The existence of the British Empire depends upon success in this war, and it becomes increasingly evident that to obtain success we must put forward our whole strength by establishing universal and compulsory military service for such period as the war may last."
It thus laid aside for the period of the war its effort to have compulsory military training for home defense established as a permanent principle of government in Britain. It believed the Great War demanded the much wider system of universal service anywhere the needs of the country might necessitate. Also only a measure for war had a chance for adoption denied a bill to permanently alter British ways.
As an answer to those who thought the volunteer system sufficient, the League said: "It is evident that the fullest value can only be got out of our fighting material by the adoption of universal service, which substitutes a comprehensive system and an assured source of supply for a hand-to-mouth method which leaves to the accident of the moment the provision of the personnel."
In response to those who asked, "If it is necessary, why doesn't the Government introduce it?" it said, "The answer is simple. The Government does not introduce it because it is not certain that if it did it would have the country at its back.
"We believe that the country would be at its back in this great question."
One of the principal arguments of this League, even before the war, was that compulsory training in peace, and service in war, for all citizens was in accordance with the earliest history of the British people.
It showed that in early British history it was considered the right and privilege of every free man to own arms, to practice their use in peace, and to carry them in war. Only the slaves were denied this great privilege.
It showed that even after the country settled down and the individual citizen no longer needed arms constantly for the defense of his person and property, the ownership of arms by every citizen and the calling together of the citizenry for service in time of war remained the basis of national defense.
It showed that as time passed, and citizens had less and less personal use for their arms, they more and more were inclined to get rid of the burden of providing them at their own expense. At the same time, the monarch and the people were coming more and more into conflict as to their mutual rights. As a consequence the monarchs were willing to have the people gradually disarm themselves though by doing so national defense suffered.
As time went on, the monarchs built around themselves a force from which ultimately sprang the British regular army.
The League showed that the free citizen's objection to serving in this force, unless he voluntarily entered it, was the root from which had sprung the so prevalent idea that a free-born British citizen should resist compulsory service.
Undoubtedly there was also a considerable number of people who still believed that only a volunteer made a good soldier. This despite the fact that the armies of continental Europe were daily showing that men brought into the army as the result of compulsory universal service were excellent soldiers.
The point was missed, that it is not the method through which a man enters the army which counts, but whether or not he is willing to fight for his country.
In the days of autocracy, large numbers of unwilling men could be and were conscripted for service. In these days of democracy, the passage of a conscription law is equivalent to the whole nation volunteering, because no such law can come into existence unless the majority of the citizens believe it a fair and proper measure.
Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, who during the latter part of the war was chief of the British Imperial General Staff, played a considerable part in creating sentiment for universal or compulsory service, even prior to the war. Shortly after returning on the staff of Lord Roberts from the South African war, he was made commandant of the British Staff College. He held this position for a number of years until he became director of military operations of the British General Staff, his post when the Great War broke out.
This pre-war period included Lord Haldane's reformations of the British military system. These, like the beginnings of our national defense act in 1916, while an improvement on the system which they replaced, were far from being adequate for war. The majority of British military and naval leaders, and many of her most distinguished civilian ones, considering war as inevitable in the near future opposed them.
As commandant of the Staff College, the then Colonel Wilson kept in constant touch with Lord Roberts. He helped in the campaign for national service to such an extent and so openly as finally to be attacked by part of the British press.
During the Balkan crisis of 1912---which almost precipitated the general European war two years before it came---Colonel Wilson, the director of operations, worked vigorously to show the government how unprepared Great Britain was.
In 1913, a bill for compulsory service was introduced in the House of Commons, but did not become a law. To Colonel Wilson belongs a considerable share of the credit for the matter having gotten this far.
The opposition to the enforcement of real universal service or conscription was led by various cabinet ministers.
Lord Grey, British minister of foreign affairs before the war and during its early years, writes: "Conscription in the early days of the war was impossible; public opinion was not ready for it; it would have been resisted. Voluntary enlistment gave the country a good start in good will and enthusiasm; conscription would have given a bad start. There would have been division of opinion, much resentment; the country might even have foundered in political difficulties."(7)
How far his opinion is based on the bitter class struggle which was going on in England when the war broke out, he does not say.
Marshal Robertson records that Mr. Lloyd George, shortly before becoming premier, told him, "Labor would not stand any further compulsion." Also: "Several ministers had always argued that compulsory methods would be of no benefit to the army, since the additional men yielded would probably be more than counterbalanced by the additional number of troops required to keep the peace in the large industrial centers, where it might be expected compulsion would be resented." (8)
In May, 1917, while General Wilson was at the headquarters of the British army in France, General Haig read him a letter from the then chief of the imperial staff, General Robertson, in which he told him not to expect a great number of replacements, because of the demands of agriculture, of shipping, and strikes on the part of labor.(9)
At a meeting of the Supreme War Council in February, 1918, General Foch brought up the question of British man-power. Mr. Lloyd George, while objecting to a French general complaining that Britain had not called as many men to the colors as she might have done, answered that if he were asked to produce more men there might be a revolution in the country.(10)
Lord Kitchener, in 1915, foreseeing possible opposition from labor, had made it his business to get in close touch with Mr. Arthur Henderson, who represented labor in the cabinet. Lord Kitchener told him that by early in 1916 he would have to ask for legislation to produce enough men for the army to relieve the commanding officers in the field of the fear that their forces would fall off in strength. Mr. Henderson replied that the Labor party would not oppose any legislative measure which Lord Kitchener believed necessary for victory. At a later cabinet meeting, Mr. Henderson told the members that in the last extremity, if a definite and publicly stated object was given, he was ready to accept compulsory service.(11)
Marshal Robertson also believed that labor would not be against compulsory universal service, fairly applied for military purposes only. He believed that the opposition came from the unfairness of the existing methods. In numerous cases young men escaped altogether through the many exemptions granted. Others were taken for non-combatant branches of the army and navy, while older men, and in some cases married ones, who were more patriotic and had a higher sense of duty, served in the trenches.
Whether the soldiers were right in believing that the nation would have submitted to conscription long before it did, or the statesmen in fearing resistance and civil disorder, the fact remains that until the much feared German attacks had started in March, 1918, the British government would not enforce full-fledged conscription in order to increase the British forces on the French front by putting more men in the British army.
Many British statesmen, and in particular Mr. Lloyd George, when he became premier, believed the need for more men could be avoided by seeking victory in theaters of war where results might be obtained with less bloodshed.
On the British front in France five men out of every nine became casualties; on the Saloniki front in the Balkans one out of every twenty-one; in Egypt, one out of every fifteen, and in Mesopotamia, four out of every twenty-five.
As the British force in France was much larger than that in any other theater of war, the number of men needed to make good its losses alone would in any of the others both replace all casualties and furnish a substantial reenforcement as well.
In this manner, the constant pressure being exerted by the British generals upon British statesmen to produce more men if they expected victories would be greatly decreased.
Austria-Hungary was much weaker than Germany. So was Turkey. As they would be easier to whip than Germany, why not do so?
An Allied army in the Balkans, particularly if successful, would help to get Greece and Roumania into the war---as ultimately happened---and thus increase the Allied man-power.
Also there is good reason to believe that the trading which inevitably takes place at European peace tables was not lost sight of by some statesmen.
Possession, at the close of the war, of Mesopotamia, of Syria, of the Dardanelles and Constantinople, and of parts of Austria-Hungary would afford the possessor a good trading position.
A victorious army in France would occupy no soil to be traded off.
Thus political aims were mixed with and confused with military issues. Some French statesmen also allowed political ideas to overrule military ones.
The result was a number of expeditions and campaigns, All consumed a large number of men. Some brought defeats. The most successful played no decisive part in bringing the war to a successful conclusion.
By the time we entered the war, three expeditions had been undertaken.
The first was the attempt to break through the Dardanelles and capture Constantinople. It failed.
Three British battleships and one French were lost; 26,500 French and 114,000 British were killed and wounded. There was besides a heavy sick list. A total of 400,000 troops had been used.
This was a heavy and unexpected drain on British man-power at a time when her new armies were just coming into existence. The result was that the question of producing the men needed both to replace casualties and to increase the size of the forces in the field became so immediate and pressing as to place the British cabinet face to face with compulsion.
The second expedition was to Mesopotamia. This Turkish province in the heart of central Asia was occupied only after repeated efforts and General Townshend's humiliating surrender.
The British losses were 31,000 killed, 15,000 Missing and prisoners, and 50,000 wounded. Four hundred thousand British and Indian troops and 460,000 noncombatants had been used by the time the war ended in 1918.
The third was the Saloniki Expedition. By the end of the war, the British had used a total of 400,000 and the French practically the same number in this theater of war.
These expeditions only added to the scattering of the Allied force, already distributed upon the Russian, Italian, and French fronts.
None of these operated to reduce the strength of the German armies which attacked under Hindenburg and Ludendorff the spring and summer of 1918.
All of them did materially reduce the strength of the Allied armies and particularly the British ones, which had to meet these attacks.
The relatively slow raising of Britain's armies after the first patriotic rush to volunteer had passed, meant a greater drain on her man-power than would have been the case had conscription been adopted in the early stages of the war.
In August, 1914, there were 4 British infantry divisions in France; December, 1914, 11; June, 1915, 21; September, 1915, 29; February, 1916, 41; July, 1916, 55; December, 1916, 58; April, 1917, 62, the maximum number ever there.
As a rule after each increase in strength a blow was struck. While not strong enough to cause decisive results, these blows caused casualties.
Thus, the slow raising of Britain's strength resulted in feeding it by sections into the furnace of war. This caused each section to suffer loss before it was strengthened by the arrival of the next.
Therefore, the maximum effect was not gotten from the numbers which were raised.
Had conscription been adopted immediately war was declared, or shortly thereafter, by the middle of her second year in the war, Britain could have been ready to use her millions of new troops, united in one force, to strike a single tremendous blow together with the French army. Though that army had borne the brunt of the fighting on the western front, it was at that time still in magnificent shape and close to its maximum strength of 3,000,000 in the field at one time.
The first mobilization call brought out 3,700,000 Frenchmen, of whom 2,700,000 were put under the command of the then General "Papa" Joffre, to resist the first German invasion. Of these 90,000 were officers.
By bringing in older and older men to make good losses, and also to increase her strength to the uttermost limit, France by July, 1916, had in the field a total of about 3,000,000 men. She maintained this force of 3,000,000 through the rest of 1916 and until the middle of 1917, when, because of battle losses, it suffered a decrease of more than 100,000
The sacrifice which she had made to maintain such a force is best shown by the fact that in the defense of Verdun territorial troops, some of whom were grandfathers, were used in front-line trenches.
Prior to the war, it had been intended to use territorials only to guard railways and for other service in the rear of the armies. However, by the middle of 1915 the French losses were such that they had commenced to use these troops in quiet trench sectors.
The rush of Germany's first invasion into France prevented many of the men called to arms by the first mobilization from joining the army. The ten departments of France occupied by the Germans from shortly after the first battle of the Marne until they were driven out in the last months of the war, were the home of about 5,000,000 people, or one-eighth of the population of France. As the war went on and older and older Frenchmen were called out in the rest of the country to make good the losses suffered in battle, the men of the corresponding age in the occupied territory were -not available, because held by the Germans.
Thus, shortly after we entered the war, France, having already given her man-power to the uttermost, could furnish no more men. In fact, from then on it was only by taking older men, really unfit for field service, and young men hardly of military age that she succeeded in keeping her armies from serious decrease in numbers.
It was because France was so drained of her manpower that General Pétain after taking command of the French army, in the spring of 1918, decided to remain on the defensive, with the exception of small local attacks. He knew that only by such a policy could he prevent a still further and rapid shrinkage of the French army, already fallen off in its numbers.
As Russia dropped out of the war, the chance to persuade her to put a far greater proportion of her 17,000,000 men of military age under arms disappeared.
Thus, during the anxious winter of 1917-18, there remained but three ways of increasing the number of soldiers on the western front---to concentrate there both the considerable forces held in England because of fear of invasion, and the troops operating in distant theaters of war; to enforce full-fledged conscription on Britain's remaining man-power, and to tap liberally America's yet untouched large reservoir.
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