|The Rushden Echo and Argus, 15th November, 1940, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Spitfires - Cheques Presented
Triumphant Culmination of The “Spitfire” Campaign - This Magnificent Effort
Congratulations from Canadian Ex-Premier - Luncheon Speeches
The easy, rich, and rolling drawl of a cultured son of Canada brought to the “Evening Telegraph” Spitfire luncheon at Kettering on Tuesday a deep, inspiring breath of Empire to the leaders of our go-ahead towns there assembled as a very pleasant prelude to the handing over of the cheques.
The Right Hon. R. B. Bennett set the seal on a great achievement when he said : “I assure you I know of no community with a population so small that has raised so much money as you have done for the Spitfire Fund. It is a magnificent thing.”
“Your marvellous effort is significant not as showing your generosity that is taken for granted or as your war effort that, too, is taken for granted but as an indication that in your hearts, your souls, Freedom shall not perish but shall flourish among the sons of men.”
That was the burden of the message, sincere in all its measured phrases, which the tall ex-Premier from the great Dominion brought to the towns and villages and to every home that gave of its best towards the Spitfire effort.
“I assure you I know of no community with a population so small that has raised so much money as you have done for the fund. It is a magnificent thing,” declared Mr. Bennett.
After the chairman (Mr. J. A. Gotch, J.P.) had submitted the loyal toast, Sir Richard Winfrey, managing director of the Northamptonshire Printing and Publishing Co., Ltd., proposed the toast of “Our Guests.” He said that it was a very great honour for him to be allowed to propose the toast. He felt that he could speak, at any rate, with some knowledge of their friend, Mr. Bennett, because he came across him in Canada 20 years ago when he was making his way.
He was, Sir Richard believed, at that time practising as a barrister in Calgary, Alberta that beautiful city at the foot-hills of the Rockies. After that, Mr. Bennett, who had succeeded in getting into the Provincial House, then succeeded in becoming a member of the Federal House of Parliament at Ottawa.
He (Sir Richard) was not surprised to find, later on, that Mr. Bennett was made Attorney-General and from that he went to the top of the tree and became Prime Minister in 1930.
“For five years he was Prime Minister of our greatest Dominion,” continued Sir Richard. “He retired in due course, as we all have to retire from public work sooner or later, and decided to settle in England.
“I think that was a wise choice; for one thing we have not such severe winters as they have in Canada.
“There is no doubt that he thought he was going to have an easy and quiet time, but this terrible war broke out, and like a good, patriotic Canadian he volunteered his services to Lord Beaverbrook.
Sir Richard described the Minister of Aircraft Production, Lord Beaverbrook, as “a wonderful man.” He said that he came to this country when 30 years of age, having made a fortune. He was fortunate enough in having a friend in Bonar Law, also a Canadian, and he got into Parliament in 1910, where he was a colleague of Sir Richard for several years, and then stepped further up to the House of Lords.
Mr. Bennett was there as representative of Lord Beaverbrook, because when his lordship was a boy he started as a chemist’s assistant, but soon became tired of that, and Mr. Bennett, a lawyer in New Brunswick, took the young man into his office.
“I suppose he trained him,” added Sir Richard. “Lord Beaverbrook made the best of the knowledge he got out of Mr. Bennett’s office.
“When the war came upon us and Lord Beaverbrook took on the important job of Minister of aircraft Production, he asked Mr. Bennett’s assistance, which was unstintingly given.”
Names From The Old Country
Replying Mr. Bennett paid tribute to Sir Richard, and referred in glowing terms to the reputation of the Chairman (Mr. J.A. Gotch). He mentioned that Mr. Gotch’s name and fame were known not only to the people of Kettering and Northamptonshire, but to all people who knew anything of the great profession in which he was engaged.
Sir Richard had spoken in cautious eulogy of one who was in the Canadian Parliament when he (Sir Richard) was in the Imperial Parliament at Westminster.
Mr. Bennett said he found as he travelled over England names that were familiar to him the names of people who had left this country and settled in Canada. In his native Nova Scotia, for instance, there were many Scots. They all had one thing in common; they belonged to the same great Commonwealth of the British Empire.
Mr. Bennett went on to speak of the manner in which Englishmen had gone all over the world to found the Dominions and Colonies, with Parliamentary systems modelled on that of the Mother Country, upholding a great system of Democracy. They should be proud that British stock, scattered and somewhat few in numbers, had yet accomplished such great achievements in the world.
At the present time, the thing that stood out above all else was the manner in which thousands of men of the Empire had left their homes in the Dominions and Colonies, and journeyed across the seas to England and Egypt, to do battle for the maintenance of the integrity of this Empire. Nothing that the world had ever seen was finer nothing ever could be finer for Liberty and Freedom. Freely, gladly, proudly these men were making their contribution to the maintenance of the Empire.
That day they were meeting together to celebrate a great achievement. The Minister of Aircraft Production would have liked to be present but they would understand how difficult it was for him to leave his duties. The Minister had charged him to say how grateful he was for the magnificent effort made by this county.
The achievement was something he would have thought was beyond achievement; but it ran with the record of the achievements of Great Britain and its Empire.
“What you are doing by this magnificent effort of yours,” continued Mr. Bennett, “will be a contribution to the maintenance of the integrity of an Empire that seeks no territory and asks only that its priceless gift of liberty should be assured by the preservation of its democratic institution.”
It was a great privilege to live in these days, even if it was a great responsibility. On this far-flung Empire had fallen the tremendous task of supporting and maintaining Christian civilisation he did not say Christianity.
Mr. Bennett spoke with reference to the Greeks as our allies of the 300 Spartans who fought at Thermoplye; one survived, and because he survived life was unendurable.
In these days the right to think, the right to act, the right to worship their God as they pleased these things were at issue. Life would be unendurable to us if we should live as serfs after we had lived as free men; we could not do it.
“Your magnificent effort is significant not as showing your generosity that is taken for granted or as your war effort that is taken for granted but as an indication that in your hearts, your souls, freedom shall not perish and freedom shall flourish among the sons of man.
“I assure you I know of no community with a population so small that has raised so much money as you have done for this fund. It is a magnificent thing, and I congratulate here briefly, your chairman, not only of this gathering but of the great flourishing company whose papers, under the direction of our friend, Sir Richard, who in his modest way is not listening to what I am saying, has seen this great thing through.”
Mr. Bennett spoke of Senator Haynes in the U.S.A., and said that Coun. Haynes had had a letter from him saying how much happier he was as Mayor of Kettering than the writer was as a Senator of the United States.
“I shall remember this day,” Mr. Bennett added, “not only because you have been so gracious and kindly to me personally, but because it has afforded me the opportunity of visiting a community which ranks first in raising so great a fund for so great a purpose.”
Mayor Makes Us Blush!
The Mayor of Kettering said that everyone round the table felt that if there was no other reason which could be vouchsafed for making the effort in this part of the country it would have been worth it a thousand times to have had Mr. Bennett with them and hear his inspiring address.
“I want to say on behalf of my friends that we feel in these terrible times immensely bucked by your inspiring words to us.”
Of the “Evening Telegraph’s” part, the Mayor said, “It is the most amazing achievement in this part of the county since I have had anything to do with public life. I want to congratulate the ‘Telegraph.’ I am proud, Kettering is proud, and our friends from the county are very proud indeed of the ‘Evening Telegraph,’ and we have never been more proud than we are to-day.”
Replying to the toast of “The Evening Telegraph,” Mr. Frank Hutchen said : “We have had some very nice things said about us, but really our thanks are due to you. Had it not been for your efforts perhaps we spurred you on a bit we should not have succeeded as we did. It has really been an astonishing effort. I really thought we should have great difficulty in raising perhaps £5,000, but now we are going to hand over a bucketful of thousands.”
Mr. Hutchen announced that the cheques could be received back by the donors as mementoes after they had passed through the bank.
An apology for absence was received from Mr. John Profumo, M.P. for Kettering.
Lord Brooke of Oakley, chairman of the Northamptonshire County Council, regretted his inability to accept the invitation to lunch owing to a previously arranged engagement.
Coun. K. Noble, J.P., chairman of Irthlingborough Urban Council, also regretted that a previous engagement prevented his attendance. He had, however, asked for Mr. F. Featherstonhaugh (vice-chairman) to represent him.
The company were the guests of the Northamptonshire Printing and Publishing Co., Ltd., proprietors of the “Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph” and associated newspapers, and Mr. J. A. Gotch, J.P., chairman of the Board of Directors, presided.
With him at the main table were :- the Rt. Hon R. B. Bennett (former Prime Minister of Canada and now of the Ministry of Aircraft Production), Sir Richard Winfrey, J.P. (Managing Director of the Northamptonshire Printing and Publishing Co.), the Mayor of Kettering (Ald. J. Haynes, J.P.), Mr. Frank Hutchen, F.R.G.S. (Managing Editor of the “Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph”), Ald. Charles Horrell, Rushden, Mr. Andrew Mackay, Mr. T. N. Bird, Mr. Charles Wilson, Wellingborough, Mr. R. P. Winfrey (directors); Mr. J. B. Wilson (Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Aircraft Production), Mr. H. Trevor Guest (organising secretary of the Spitfire Fund), Flight Lieut. F. B. H. Hayward and Mr. B. C Howard (hon. treasurer).
Others present were :- Mr. John White (chairman of directors of Messrs. John White, “Impregnable Boots,” Ltd., Higham Ferrers and Rushden), Mr. A. B. Crowsley (president of Kettering Boot Manufacturers’ Association), Mr. W. C. Cattell (secretary), Ald. Frank Walker, J.P. (Deputy Mayor of Higham Ferrers), Coun. F. H. Johnson, J.P. (chairman, Wellingborough Urban Council), Coun. J. Allen, J.P. (chairman, Rushden Urban Council), Coun. H. Underwood, J.P. (chairman, Corby Urban Council), and Capt. R. V. Bellamy (aide-de-camp to the Right Hon. R. B. Bennett).
Coun. S. J. B. Barnes, J.P. (chairman, Desborough Urban Council), Coun. H. Cross, J.P. (chairman, Rothwell Urban Council), Coun. R. J. Mackintosh, J.P. (chairman, Burton Latimer Urban Council), Coun. F. Featherstonhaugh (vice-chairman, Irthlingborough Urban Council), Coun. A. O. Fox, J.P. (chairman, Raunds Urban Council), Dr. St. Clair Gainer (chairman, Thrapston Parish Council), Mr. Fred Green (chairman, Wollaston Parish Council), Mr. John Chaston (Town Clerk of Kettering), Mr. F. E. Gadd (Clerk of Wellingborough Urban Council), Mr. A. O. Harvey (Treasurer of Wellingborough Urban Council), The Rev. O. G. Barrow, who said grace, (Vicar of St. Columba’s, Corby), Mr. A. J. W. Brett, Mr. E. F. Poole, B.A., Raunds, Mr. E. F. Corby, Raunds, Mr. W. G. T. Jones, Stanwick, Coun. H. R. Perkins, Irthlingborough, Mr. A. H. Whitton, Rushden, Mr. Sidney Hawkes, Rushden, Mr. Leslie Smith (of Messrs. Hodge and Baxter, hon auditors), Mr. Walter C. Tarry (president, Rushden Boot Manufacturers’ Association), Mr. S. C. Brightwell (secretary, Rushden Boot Manufacturers’ Association), Coun. F. W. Bailey, Finedon, Mr. D. J. Morgan, Corby, Mr. Fred Dunmore, Irchester, Mr. P. R. J. Fitt (London), Mr. A. F. Briggs, Mr. F. W. Skinner, Mr. H. Blake (Kettering), Mr. Dyker Thew (Wellingborough), and Mr. L. V. Elliott (Rushden).
Presentation of “Spitfire” Cheques - Historic Ceremony at the Odeon Cinema
The Odeon cinema was nearly full when Mr. Bennett accompanied by the Mayor of Kettering (Ald. J. Haynes, J.P.), Mr. Frank Hutchen and other well-known local people mounted the platform. The Odeon had very generously been placed at the disposal of the Spitfire Fund for the presentation ceremony by Mr. A. J. W. Brett, the Kettering manager.
Those present entered the cinema between a Guard of Honour from the R.A.F. drawn up in the vestibule of the cinema.
The Odeon stage was attractively decorated with autumn flowers and greenery and the “platform” had a patriotic background, draped with enormous Union Jacks.
Mr. Frank Hutchen, managing editor of the “Evening Telegraph” and associated newspapers, presided, and read apologies for non-attendance from Mr. John Profumo, M.P. for the Kettering Division, Lord Brooke of Oakley and representatives of Messrs. Stewarts and Lloyds.
The apology for absence from Lt. John Profumo M.P. for the Kettering Division, was read by Mr. Hutchen as follows:-
“It is with the very greatest regret that I cannot accept your kind invitation to be present at your luncheon and the presentation of the cheques from your Spitfire Fund to the Ministry of Aircraft Production.
“I am most honoured that you should have included me amongst your guests, and only my military duties force me to refuse.
“I have written to you before of my admiration for the magnificent result you have achieved not only you and your staff, as the instigators but also all the organisers and those who have demonstrated by their contributions, both great and small, their admiration for the R.A.F. and the men who fly our planes.
“There are some who say that the Government should and probably would provide the money necessary for all the aeroplanes we need. Such people, for one reason or another, disagree with Spitfire appeals. To those I would point out that every machine that is brought into being through voluntary contributions releases valuable resources which may be used by the Exchequer to improve, increase and replace other sections of our great war machine.
“The Evening Telegraph Spitfire Fund has done a great national service. It has achieved an astounding record. I sincerely hope that some news of this further demonstration of national solidarity and united determination to triumph over evil will reach the German authorities.
“I offer you my heartiest congratulations, and assure you of the pride I feel to be the representative of such a magnificent section of our population. It will ever be my earnest desire to serve them to the best of my ability.”
Mr. Hutchen said :
“To-day witnesses the triumphant culmination of our campaign in response to Lord Beaverbrook’s urgent appeal for more and more Spitfires as a nation’s thank-offering for our salvation through the unparalleled heroism of the men and women of the Royal Air Force. We have been the stupefied and almost helpless witnesses of one country after another being crushed beneath the heel of an all-powerful and merciless invader, until the avalanche of terror reached our own shores. Britain’s forces finally struggled back from France to our shores, sorely battered but still unconquered and unconquerable.
“Britain thus found herself standing alone with her back to the wall facing Hitler’s hordes, so confident of early conquest of the last and greatest of their opponents. So easy did it appear that Hitler, like the royal braggart of a quarter of a century ago, booked the date of his dining in Buckingham Palace. And it nearly came true, too, for there is no denying the fact that in June we stood on the very edge of the precipice of national disaster.
“That we were saved from that terrible doom we owe almost entirely to the marvellous exploits of the R.A.F., who with unexampled gallantry and self-sacrifice never counting the cost, smashed the aerial Blitz which Hitler launched, as the prelude to the carefully prepared invasion of our shores by his unnumbered hosts.
Reply to Critics
“This time he did, in fact, miss the bus, to use the historic phrase of Mr. Neville Chamberlain whose death the whole nation deeply mourns. It was during these critical days, when we fearfully realised that it was a matter of touch and go if we should pull through that Lord Beaverbrook as Minister of Aircraft Production, sent out a clarion call for more and more Spitfires as a national thank-offering to our wonderful airmen and a heartening token that the country was behind them to the last penny.
“It goes without saying that we have received many letters regarding our Spitfire Fund, but while grateful for those of encouragement, we have been disgusted at others received. It is really astonishing what a number of people there are anxious to give away other people’s money. These correspondents suggested all sorts of objects to which we should devote these many thousands of pounds rather than for what they were so readily given, the purchase of Spitfires, which in any case, they pointed out, would be provided by the Government. But what a scurvy way of showing our deep gratitude to Britain’s saviours! Do the job for which you are paid and the Government will provide all the Spitfires it can spare you.”
“I am proud to say, sir, that a very different spirit from that animated the bulk of our readers. Within a few minutes of the first publication of our appeal money was being poured into our offices, with promises of more if it was required. Not a few sceptics had declared that we should never succeed in raising the £5.000 for a Spitfire, yet in the astonishingly short space of four days the £5,000 was in our hands. Lord Beaverbrook’s appeal had touched the hearts of men, women and children alike, and we were almost inundated with offers to help in all directions.
“Six days later the critics were dumbfounded to see us announce that Spitfire the Second was an accomplished fact, and then followed in marvellously quick succession the third, fourth and fifth. To raise £25,000 in less than a month was an almost incredible accomplishment, and one of which all the workers for the fund were justifiably proud.
“The enthusiasm had been astounding, big cheques running into thousands vying with the sale of handiwork by women workers and the pathetic pence secured by little mites by the sale of their treasured toys or the proceeds of children’s entertainments run entirely by themselves. The members of the Women’s Voluntary Services had been magnificent in organising house-to-house collections in most of the towns concerned.
“It has indeed been an astonishing experience for all of us who have been at the heart of this great effort, and our sincere thanks are due to the thousands who have brought to such a wonderful success our Spitfire campaign.
“Several jaundiced readers have hinted that businessmen who have given so generously to the fund thereby merely reduce the amount of the Excess Profits Tax they will have to pay, but this is an entirely mistaken notion. No Spitfire contribution can be entered as a business expense, and it follows therefore that the entire sum comes out of the manufacturer’s own pocket adding immeasurably to the generous nature of his gift.
“The raising of our sixth and last Spitfire occupied another month, but that was only to be expected and was even a shorter period than that by many towns to secure their first Spitfire.
This is Der Tag
“And now we have reached the day when we hand over this fleet of Spitfires to the Ministry of Aircraft Production. On the principle of faint heart never won fair lady we were bold enough to suggest that our record, unsurpassed by any other similar paper in the country, might warrant a visit from the Minister himself, but, although congratulating us in the most handsome manner on our achievement, Lord Beaverbrook found it impossible to leave his all-important work in London for the time necessary to come down to Kettering.
“But we were delighted to know that our great effort was to be recognised by the Ministry and that Lord Beaverbrook had resolved to break the Ministry’s rule in our case by asking his old friend and fellow worker at the Ministry, the Right Honourable Richard Bennett, to come to Kettering to receive these Spitfires.
“When the history of Britain’s stupendous war effort is written the name of Richard Bennett will figure prominently for the part Canada is playing in securing for us the conquest of the air. After serving Canada for five years as its notable Prime Minister, Mr. Bennett has now come to our Ministry of Aircraft Production to shepherd into this country the ever-growing mass of men and machines pouring forth from Canada’s Empire scheme.
“We feel highly honoured that Mr. Bennett should come to Kettering in these parlous days to receive our gifts, and it is our wish that he should convey to Lord Beaverbrook our unbounded admiration of the stupendous work he is doing to bring our marvellous Air Force to a state of such overwhelming superiority that no enemy shall again dare to challenge our existence.
“When I was quite a youngster there was trouble between Britain and Russia and we used to yell at the top of our squeaky voices :-
We don’t want to fight;
“The present world-wide conflict does not appear to have produced any great war song if we except “Roll our the Barrel” (Laughter) and I would suggest that a modernised version of that song of the seventies might be:-
We don’t want to fight;
Mr. Hutchen said that a sort of friendly rivalry has been established between the towns in the district, and they had sent their representatives to-day to present their individual cheques to Mr. Bennett.
That day “Evening Telegraph” merely had the pleasure of looking on while the amounts were presented.
Cheques were handed to Mr. Bennett on behalf of the various towns as follows :-
In presenting the Kettering cheque, the Mayor (Ald. J. Haynes) welcomed Mr. Bennett, saying that it was a great honour to do so, not only on behalf of the Borough, but also for his friends representing the surrounding districts who were on the platform. Mr. Bennett was one of Canada’s greatest sons, and they were all eager to hear him speak. - The chairman stated that Kettering’s total included a handsome contribution of £3,000 from the Kettering Shoe Manufacturers’ Association in addition to exceedingly large collections among the employees at practically all the town’s factories.
The Chairman said peculiar interest attached to the Raunds cheque for £4,000. It was Mrs. Arthur Coggins, of Raunds, who first rang up the “Evening Telegraph” office and suggested the paper should open a Spitfire Fund, stating that a personal canvass of the manufacturers and residents of Raunds had convinced her they could raise at least £4,000. He was glad to say this energetic lady’s prediction had come true.
In presenting the Raunds and Stanwick Spitfire Fund, Councillor Fox said it was his privilege to hand Mr. Bennett a cheque for £4,000, for the part purchase of a “Spitfire,” a voluntary gift from the free citizens of the Urban District of Raunds, which has a population of 4,600, and a rateable value of £17,783. This donation of £4,000 was made up of the following:-
Members of the Boot and Shoe Manufacturers’ Association £2,757. Employees’ contributions and special efforts £690. Donations from 2d. to £10 10s. £310. Raunds house-to-house collection £150. Stanwick house-to-house collection £93. Total £4,000.
The gift signified the admiration of his fellow-townsmen for the noble exploits of the personnel of the Royal air Force. By their deeds of valour and heroism in the defence of Britain they have won for themselves undying fame, and he was confident that in due course they will obtain the mastery of the air, and finally put to an end the much vaunted strength of the Nazi air power.
Irthlingborough’s cheque was handed over by Coun. F. Featherstonhaugh, on behalf of the chairman of the Urban Council, Coun. K. Noble, J.P., who was prevented by a previous engagement from attending.
The Chairman said they ought not to overlook the fine part Messrs. J. K. Perkins and Son Ltd., the Irthlingborough leather manufacturers, had played in their town’s effort. Immediately the “Evening Telegraph” Fund was set on foot, the firm sent £100, and gallantly promised £100 for every other Spitfire we could raise. The unforeseen result was that five other cheques had to be signed by Messrs. Perkins before the fund closed, but they were given most readily and cheerfully.
Handing over Desborough’s cheques, Coun. Barnes said it was “to help defend freedom and have beauty on the earth.”
Announcing the Corby total, Mr. Hutchen said that the town had had to compete with the works fund but had achieved a fine total.
Messrs. Stewarts and Lloyds Spitfire cheque was not ready for presentation that day, but, he was informed would be forwarded to the Ministry shortly.
Presenting it Coun. Underwood said that with the money went Corby’s old motto, “Corby, God Bless You.” Might that go to the achievements of the R.A.F.
Handing over Rothwell’s cheque, Coun. Cross said that the poet’s word that “When God had a hard task he gave it to an Englishman” was being abundantly justified to-day.
Coun. Fred Green (Wollaston) said Wollaston felt proud to have done its little bit in so noble a cause, although one of the smallest places with a separate fund.
Burton Latimer Council chairman, Coun. R. J. Mackintosh, J.P., made his town’s presentation, “with the profound confidence that the Air Force would do the rest.”
“Our parish is absolutely the smallest parish that has had its own fund. I present this cheque to you from a small village with a great heart.” Said Coun. Fred Dunmore, representing Irchester.
Dr. St. Clair Gainer (chairman of the Parish Council) presented Thrapston’s cheque “last but not least.” he said.
Mr. Hutchen remarked that the “Evening Telegraph” Fund was second in the field at Thrapston, but that mattered little, for all that town had contributed to both funds would find its way to the Ministry of Aircraft Production.
Mr. Hutchen said that Mr. John White of Rushden, had been so impressed with the call for Spitfires that his firm had decided to give their own machine. The workpeople had given most generously and the directors had made up the sum to £5,000.
Presenting the “Impregnable” cheque, Mr. John White said :
“It is a proud privilege to be present at this memorable gathering to present the cheque for the amount raised for the Spitfire Fund by the workpeople, staff, and directors of my company.
“In doing this, I must at the same time offer my warmest congratulations to the “Evening Telegraph” for the remarkable enthusiasm they have aroused and for the success that has crowned their efforts. Our employees count it a privilege to subscribe to this fund.
“I have already said our own effort was definitely inspired by the campaign launched by the “Evening Telegraph.” Our own workpeople caught the enthusiasm, but thought that they themselves would be able to raise sufficient money for the purchase of a Spitfire which they might have the pleasure of naming, to show their appreciation of the great efforts and the valour, which in our defence the men of the R.A.F. are continually displaying.
“The fund was opened at their request, the directors themselves guaranteeing the full amount needed. It was not long before a sufficient sum was raised for their wishes to be realised, and it was readily agreed that their effort should form part of the “Evening Telegraph” fund and the presentation made at the same time. What they have given has been given with a full heart, and they wish the Spitfire a long and successful career.
“I personally feel that the final issue of the war and victory itself will depend upon the quantity and the quality of the machines we provide for our men. They have already, on countless occasions, proved their superiority in combat and we owe them the greatest possible dept of gratitude.
“I am sure it is agreed on all sides that in Lord Beaverbrook the Government have found the man most suited for the position he occupies, and I hope the little we have done to-day will give him further encouragement for the great task he has undertaken. I have great pleasure in handing you the cheque. The name by which we should like our Spitfire to be known is “The Fighting Temeraire.”
At the conclusion of the presentation, Mr. Hutchen announced that any further contributions would be acknowledged in the paper and passed on to the Ministry of Aircraft Production.
Mr. Bennett’s Thanks
Expressing his thanks for the cheques, Mr. Bennett said that he regarded it as a great privilege to accept them, and he congratulated warmly those who had achieved such a great result.
He regretted that Lord Beaverbrook could not himself be present, but they would realise why, if they could see the work he was doing, it was impossible for him to leave London at this time.
Lord Beaverbrook was constantly in conference or telephoning or travelling, to factories to stimulate the production of aircraft.
“That Lord Beaverbrook has succeeded to the extent he has is due to the fine spirit shown by those connected with the actual work everywhere,” he said. Their friendly striving had resulted in phenomenal results.
When he returned to Lord Beaverbrook he would tell him of this gathering and lay before him the cheques.
“I am sure he will share the opinion that, for a population so small and scattered, with the money-raising going on under conditions of difficulty, this achievement ranks with the greatest in this Kingdom,” Mr. Bennett said. “I do not know of any that outranks it.”
For £35,000 to be raised in such circumstances was a result that could not possibly have been contemplated by those who originally organised the fund, and reflected the greatest credit not only on them but on the whole community.
The Widows’ Mites
Those who had contributed a widow’s mite perhaps only a penny were entitled to as much thanks as those who had contributed much larger sums.
It was the spirit in which the money was given that determined the amount of glory, if they used the word glory in this connection, that attached to the gift.
Mr. Bennett mentioned the quotation, “Beware when all men speak well of you,” and said that the editor and organisers of the fund should be very much on their guard, because all men just now were speaking very highly of them.
“I suppose,” he said, “most of you have not forgotten that the Press was once described as the fourth Estate the King, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, the Commons of the House of Parliament, and finally the Fourth Estate, the Press.
“And we know now that the Fourth Estate has vindicated its usefulness and its excuse for existence if such were needed. I do congratulate you on what you have accomplished.”
Thanks must be extended, he said, not only to those who had headed this movement but to all those who had contributed.
We owe thanks also to God for having permitted us to survive in the days of June, and thanks also to those who night after night risked their lives to defend us in the sky; and above all to those who already had died in this service, “by their lives making it possible that we should live.”
“I have no patience,” said Mr. Bennett, “with those who decried this fund. Criticism is one of the privileges of democracy. There are countries where you cannot criticise. I leave this to those of you if any there are who have little faith. Paying taxes is one thing, giving another.
“I never heard of any man’s heart getting bigger or better from paying taxes; but I have enough faith to say giving has improved men’s attitude to their fellows.”
But in any case, Mr. Bennett went on, giving in this case was sheer self-defence. We were giving this money to defend ourselves. Did it ever occur to them that if we did not give our money and if Hitler succeeded he would have people’s money in any case?
What would happen to people’s money if Hitler won? Mr. Bennett asked. They had only to go and ask Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium, France if they wanted an answer to that question.
And so, putting it on a simply selfish basis, it could be said that in giving to this fund people were furthering their best interests, helping Britain towards victory, helping to “prevent Hitler taking what they had got.”
He referred to what a small world it was, stating that in the hotel earlier that day he had spoken to a young woman from the town where he had lived in Canada. She was married to a Kettering man.
Wireless had about annihilated space, and he wondered if the people of Kettering and other parts of the kingdom realised that what they were struggling for now was not the life of this island, great and important as it may be.
The Battle of London is not a battle to determine the life of an island and kingdom, but of one quarter of the world’s people inhabiting a quarter of its area.
Five hundred millions of people were affected by the great struggle.
“There can be no British Empire without this kingdom,” continued Mr. Bennett. “We speak of the great Commonwealth of Nations, the most independent states in the world.
John Bull the Head
“They are called a Commonwealth, with this country as the Mother Country, but of its great white population 60 per cent lives in these islands, and John Bull sits at the head of the table.
“If This Island Falls, An Empire Falls”
Could they contemplate the possibility of the disintegration of the British Empire? If they turned back the pages of history they would see what those islands, those peoples had done to preserve the conception of Christian civilisation that now existed in the world.
Think for a moment, Mr. Bennett urged his audience, what this Empire meant to human freedom and liberty.
Price of Liberty
He referred to the emergence again of barbarism following a period of peace. There had been a reign of law and the rule of reason. There could be no liberty without law and security was the basis of liberty.
Security also made law and law was the conception of life and justice which people had imposed upon themselves in a democratic state.
“The price of liberty is restraint which we ourselves impose.” added Mr. Bennett.
He said that the challenge of the aggressors meant the destruction of peacefulness. Their statesmen wanted recourse to force, the tramping of battalions, the raining of death from the clouds.
The will of Hitler was being imposed and it was this challenge to civilisation that concerned them.
Speaking of Canada’s support for the war, Mr. Bennett asked : “Are we in the war because London says so? No we are in this war because the Canadian people choose to be in this war, and choose to stay in it until the end.” (Applause.).
“We rejoice we overseas dominions that we are privileged to participate in this struggle for Christian civilisation.”
The Christian conception of civilisation had dominated the world not the Christian religion, for other races had their own, but Christian civilisation and that was why men of all races and creeds in the Empire were helping in the struggle for the preservation of Christian civilisation.
Until a few days ago the Empire was standing alone as the bulwark of Christian civilisation, but there was nothing new in that.
Napoleon once cynically remarked that God always struck with great battalions, but that was not so. Mr. Bennett quoted proofs from our history, beginning with the story of Drake and his comrades.
Britain had survived many other crises in the past, Mr. Bennett continued. Napoleon at Boulogne had waited with 200,000 men to invade the island but had waited fruitlessly. Napoleon had finally been defeated by the British, aided at that time by the Prussians at Waterloo.
Later again the Empire in the Great War had been threatened but had survived.
And now, yet again, it was threatened by an enemy more ruthless than any before. Could we fail at this Challenge? Hitler had said British cities were razed to the ground. Hence the Battle of London.
Not all of us could be generals, or even soldiers in this great struggle, but all would wish to play their part. And this, the giving of money, was one way in which all could contribute to the common cause.
Ever in the van of human progress, Britain and the Empire were fighting for survival.
Man of Peace at War
Referring to Mr. Chamberlain, Mr. Bennett said: “The great Englishman who died on Saturday night gave his life believing that men believed that when they signed for a nation that nation would keep its word.
“I spoke to that great man after a meeting at Birmingham after he had found he had been deceived and had just made the greatest speech of his career.
“The man who had tried to enforce peace and been deceived is a most dangerous opponent. Beware of the quiet man when he is roused. Beware of the man of peace when he goes to war.”
Not all of the stories of the past were comparable to the realities of the achievements of the R.A.F. day in day out, night in night out, around this kingdom. Mr. Bennett declared.
He would take back the funds raised in this district with a great sense of gratitude and with the earnest hope that they might soon see the day when by the efforts of all they would be able to end this dictatorship and autocracy and those who came after would be able to look back on these days of the proudest page in our history, when the Empire fought, not for territory or wealth, but that men should not live as slaves but be free to develop their own personality, controlled only by the laws that they themselves had made.
The large audience stood and sang the National Anthem after Mr. Bennett concluded.