100 Years Ago: Moving Pictures of Britain at War, New Battalions or Draft System

The Intelligencer June 1, 1916 (page 2)

“Intelligencer Will Produce Proof That Britain Is Prepared. On Monday, June 12, at Griffin’s Opera House, will open a very unique exhibition, and The Intelligencer is able to make to-day an interesting announcement.

The British Government has since the war began taken pains to make a historical record of the great activities by land and sea in which the Mother Country has been engaged for the past twenty months. This record is such as no history of any country has ever been able to make before since the world began. It is a moving picture record. It does not trust to the eyes of living witnesses and impressions recorded in words. Such history has its uses, but it is not so absolutely, irrefutably true as the story the camera tells; the wonderful modern camera which takes pictures of movement and records them permanently on film for reproduction before the eyes of future generations.

These pictures were prepared at the direction of the British Admiralty, the British War Office, and the Ministry of Munitions. …

The Intelligencer applied for direct royal authority to show these pictures in Belleville. It was thought that the might of Britain as displayed before the eyes of beholders in actual moving pictures as recorded by the modern camera would be a source of satisfaction and pride to the people of this city.

It is a pleasure to announce that assent has been given, and under royal and vice-regal patronage. The Intelligencer will conduct an exhibition of ‘Britain Prepared,’ as the film is entitled on June 12th and 13th, at Griffin’s Opera House.”

The Intelligencer June 1, 1916 (page 7)

“Newspapers all over the country are speculating on the probability of new battalions being authorized. …  There seems to be two schools of thought as to whether new battalions should be started at this juncture. Ours speaks of the splendid results that have been obtained throughout the winter in the recruiting side of the work by offering the men the opportunity of living at home for a great part of their training. Every battalion means a great amount of money to be expended.

Then there is the patriotic effect that a unit located at home has on the community. It makes them realize that for doing their share they have been recognized to the extent of having a body of men in their vicinity for elementary training. …

The system at present in use is proving that on the highest plane of military organization the draft system is right. The home battalions, and preferably the militia units, should ‘feed’ the overseas battalions. That chain ‘from the fireside to the front’ should be kept open. If 100 or 500 or 1,000 men are needed, say in the 12th Battalion, that many men should be drafted from the Reserve Battalion in England that is training men for that unit at the front. To fill the vacancy a similar number of Canadian trained men should be sent across the ocean.

This cannot be done with the present system without further increasing the immense numbers of officers of all ranks who are now in England ‘jobless.’

For these and various other reasons there is a feeling in military circles that few more battalions will be organized as new units and the draft system will be used as much as possible.”