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I found this article in The British Newspaper Archives The Sunday Post If they all write books

The endless Battle of the Typewriters

Exclusively Contributed to The Sunday Post by Arthur W Frazer

Following the example of Admiral Jellicoe, Lord French has now written a book about the war. In this article Mr Frazer outlines the possibilities if other leading personalities take to writing books telling all they know about the world conflict.

In the war that is past a great deal of credit has been given to the various engines and weapons with which it was fought. We have had paens of praise for the tank, the 75 gun, the bayonet, the Mills bomb, the Handley Page bomber, and the Stokes gun. We have read of the wonderful effect of maxim fire, and have held our breath when there has been described to us the devastating consequences of our gas. The telephone and the telegraph, the wireless, and even the humble theodolite have all come in for their share of praise, but nobody has said a word for the humble typewriter, which, it seems to me, has been a most effective weapon in the course of the war.

It was with this humble weapon that the Battle of Jutland was won in 365 exciting pages by Admiral Jellicoe. How the keys rattled that fearsome day, how the nimble little letters skipped and danced upon the platen, how the space bar thudded and thumped under the keen fingers of the great naval strategist. Britain waited for news of the battle to come through. For nearly three years we had stood in suspense under the impression that the Battle of Jutland had been an opportunity lost. Would the news ever come?

And then suddenly the tidings burst upon the world in one volume, at 35s, if my memory serves me. The Battle of Jutland was a great victory. Other great battles are pending. Was the retreat from Mons carried out as General French would have carried it out? Did Smith-Dorrien disobey his orders when he fought the Hun between Cambrai and Le Cateau? Was the battle of Loos lost because as a noble Lord explained in the House of Lords the General Staff did not know its business? Was Loos a victory or a disastrous failure? We cannot be sure.

Hark to the rattle of keys in the office of Viscount French! Hark to the staccato tip-taps and click-clacks, to the "swish" of paper going in, and the "swosh" of paper coming out. The battle of Loos is being fought! The retreat from Mons is in progress! We wait and hope and fear.

But how can we tell whether the Battle of Le Cateau and Cambrai was fought as it should have been fought. General Smith-Dorrien has spent most of his time since his retirement from active service in condemning the short lengths of skirts in revue and the immoral tendencies of comedians, but he is in Gibraltar, where typewriters are many and skilled manipulators not a few, and who knows but that the war may break out again in that far corner of Europe?

A Grave Omission

Not only is the war unfinished, but the proceedings which led to the war have yet to be definitely decided. An ominous sight in Whitehall on the Thursday of a few weeks ago was Lord Haldane carrying a small black box, which had the appearance of being one of those aluminium portable typewriters which have done so much to endanger the peace of Europe. The fact that their suppression was not stipulated for in Mr Wilson's fourteen points is perhaps one of the gravest omissions from that historic document. Did Lord Haldane know that Germany was going to declare war, and did he omit to tell our people to prepare for the inevitable? Nobody knows.

But on some dark evening, when the servants are out, and the house is still, Lord Haldane may draw down the blinds, lock the study door, open the fibre case of his portable aluminium typewriter, and the oracle will speak. It will tell him and us what he knew and what he did not know. We shall know for the first time how everything might have gone well, war have been avoided, and even the recent outbreak of rabies, if everybody had done just what Lord Haldane suggested they should do.

And as he treads his Turkey carpet it is possible that the association of ideas may throw his astral presence into space through the handsome York stone front of the War Office, through the steel-guarded doors of Mr Winston Churchill's private study, where there sits a stout but gingery man, his dimpled hands playing over the ivory keys of gold-chased Reppington. None who pass along that crowded thoroughfare which leads from the statue of Charles I. to the statue of Cromwell ( The Duke of Cambridge on a large fat horse intervening), would ever imagine that behind the sedate portals of the War Office a battle of the greatest intensity was in progress. Under the swift but violent blows of his tapering digits the typewriter tells the tale of Gallipoli (if rumour does not lie).

Mr Churchill's Next Effort.

Soon all our fears and misgivings shall be at rest. Mr Churchill will explain Gallipoli in a way that has never been explained before. He has the assistance of a vast body of experts, and now and again General Stopford who superintended the landing at Suvla Bay, will run across from his cosy office to tell him just why things went wrong at a crucial moment. The volume will be a handsome one, with gilt edges, and it will be bound in green calf, the calf being a delicate compliment to the comprehension and brainpower of the British public. It is as well that these things should happen.

But I think the most fascinating of the forthcoming volumes which may yet be written is that which Mr Austin Chamberlain, the Great Chancellor, will explain the magnificent achievements of the Indian bureaucracy in Mesopotamia. I should imagine, however, that it will be necessary to have a typewriter specially built for this war. It must be a typewriter that can stand heat, pitiless and enervating, and that can be carried on rough spring-less carts, across broken country. Yes undoubtedly Mr Chamberlain will have to get a special typewriter for the work when he starts his thrilling story.

Of course there are many other books which remain to be written, and until they are written we shall be in the densest ignorance as to how the war came to be won, which is one of the standing problems of the age. For example, with what rapture will bar and public welcome that sober volume which Lord Birkenhead is probably at this moment preparing! " From Despatch Writer to Chancellor. The Story of the Unwritten Law of Politics. "

And what a book could be written by Mr McKenna on " How I Saved the Navy. " Few people know that Mr McKenna is responsible for the efficiency of the navy during the war. Very few. I don't think I have ever met a man who knew it. Even I don't know it, and therefore, am I waiting the publication of his great work with more than ordinary interest. Imagine the relief we shall experience if he comes out and tells us all about it himself. The modesty of public men is one of the minor curses of public life.

Solomon Woodrow's Song of Songs

But, after all, these promised or wanted volumes are fairly unimportant because they only affect us Britishers As Britishers our danger is that we take too narrow and restricted a view. What we want is a broader outlook. We want to remember that we are only two little islands, or three if you count the Isle of Wight, and that we occupy only a very small part of the world's surface. Therefore, do we look forward with a keen sense of anticipation for Mr wilson's magnum opus or chef d'œuvre, whichever language you prefer, dealing with recent events, and bearing the significant title, " How I Won the War "

This of course, is if the irreverence be condoned, Solomon Woodrow's Song of Songs. I have reason to believe that the book opens with the following extract from that charming little anthem, " Over There !

Over there, over there,
Send the word, send the word, over there.
That Woodrow's coming,
His feet are humming,
And he's chewing gumming,
So prepare,
Have a care, and beware,
The Italians are Fluming? in despair,
He's coming over, we'll be in clover,
And he won't be back via Dover over there.

Of course, Mr Wilson has a pull over all his literary competitors. His typewriter has done more work than any other typewriter. It is one of the world's war veterans. This is the famous typewriter that produced the notes to Germany. Its rubber roller is dented with his fourteen points, and although the capital I is somewhat faint owing to overwork, it is today as grand a machine as it was when it came from Syracuse Pa., or it may be III., or just O. That is a typewriter that can work without brains. We have seen it working. It can flash line after line upon a gaping world without the operator thinking for a moment. We have seen this done.

What chance has its British competitors against this word-spinner, I ask, and the answer is "None" Really it does not matter very much what kind of books Admiral Jellicoe writes, or General French, or Mr Churchill, or any of these other literateurs. They can only after all show us a facet of the war. Wilson's book will reveal the war as it was. We shall live again those vital moments when he was too proud to fight to make the word safe for democracy. We shall stand at his elbow and catch the fluctuations of his great mind. We shall walk with him in processions carrying on his shoulder the banner of Freedom, and we shall learn that war is never war until America intervenes in the peace negotiations. Then it is-some war!

I have yet to learn that Sir Douglas Haig is writing a book, but, after all, there is no reason why he should. There is nothing for which he need apologise.

The Sunday Post, May 11, 1919


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What a find! Highly amusing, and a very interesting last paragraph and sentence.

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And for those following current debates on Le Cateau, some very illuminating near contemporary comments!

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