Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/155

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149
THE PERIL OF APATHY

civilians who just did this, expect that such advice will be followed? We can take it for granted that it will not, and I contend that in all districts along the East Coast, where, it is practically certain, any attempt at landing must be made, the inhabitants should at once be told, in the clearest and most emphatic manner, just what is required of them, and the best and quickest way to get out of harm's way, leaving as little behind them as possible to be of any use to the invaders, and leaving a clear field of operations for our own troops.

A century ago, when the peril of a French invasion overshadowed the land, the most careful arrangements were made for removing the people from the threatened areas, and the destruction of food and fodder. Is there any reason why such arrangements should not be taken in hand to-day, and the people made thoroughly familiar with all the conditions necessary for carrying out a swift and systematic evacuation?

I am aware, of course, that already certain instructions have been issued to Lord-lieutenants of the various counties in what may be called the zone of possible invasion. But I contend that the public at large should be told plainly what is expected of them. It is not enough to say that when the moment of danger comes they should blindly obey the local policeman. In the event of a withdrawal from any part of the coast-line becoming necessary, it ought not to be possible that the inhabitants should be taken by surprise; their course ought to be mapped out for them quite clearly, and in advance, so that all will know just what they have to do to get away with the minimum of delay and without impeding the movements of our defensive forces. Whatever we may say or do, the appearance off the