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CANADA AT WAR   23

quickly decided by one or more great naval battles. This was the belief of those who from 1909 onward urged that Canada should give dreadnoughts or some other direct contribution to the naval strength of the Empire. They argued that there would be no use in spending money upon the local defence of the coasts of Canada. If the great battle in the North Sea resulted in a British victory, they contended, the local defence of Canada's shores would be unnecessary. If Germany won, it would be too late to take measures for the defence of Canada.

In all the discussion that took place as to the reality or unreality of the German peril, the rivalry of the British and German Empires was emphasized, almost to the exclusion of the battleground of continental Europe. What was unexpected was the immense part which the British Empire would take in a war on land, on the continent of Europe. The British Navy played, of course, a most important part in the war, and probably at the outset saved France from destruction. But the unexpected thing was the raising of a huge army of 5,000,000 men, rivalling those of the greatest Powers of continental Europe. And the unexpected task which Canada was called upon to perform was the enlisting and equipment of an army of 500,000 men. It may be said safely that the real character of the war, and of the contribution to be made by Canada, was foreseen by no one; no such prophecies, at least, can be found in the voluminous debates upon the subject.

And it transpired that Germany's real plan was not suddenly to attack England, but to secure the mastery of Europe by movements of lightning rapidity against France and Russia. With her hands free and with the rest of Europe cowed or reduced to a condition of vassal-age or at least of impotency, Germany would be obviously in a far stronger position for an attack on the British Empire.

Because of the continental design of Germany, and of the probable consequences of its success, Great Britain


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