At the U.S. Army Rest Camp
Winnall Down

20 July 1918

by Rudyard Kipling

Kipling had been asked to speak at the opening of a YMCA “hut” for officers at Winnall Down, near Winchester (see next speech). When he got there he was “asked to make a speech to the 7000 U.S.A. men in the open air as well as the Officers so he sets to and does a short speech”. (Rees extracts, 20 July 1918).

There is no need for any Englishman to make you welcome to English soil. None of you can have come even from the ports of disembarkation, none of you can have been in England even a day, without discovering for yourselves how most heartily welcome you all are. And you are here to take your share in the biggest piece of work that the world has ever set its hand to since it was created. It is not going to be an easy job, and not a short job, but, be the job long or be it short, it wall be most thoroughly and completely finished. (Cheers.)

Nobody wants the world to be troubled again, on any pretext whatever, with a similar inconvenience. (Laughter.) You have heard a great deal and you are beginning to realize a little what is meant by the cost and sacrifice of war. But even this war is not without its compensations. In spite of all the loss in the past, in spite of all the loss to come, there is something gained. And, as I see it, the gain, the immense and outstanding gain, that has come to us out of all this furnace of affliction in which we have walked is that this very war has welded, by common endurance, by common knowledge, and by pain shared together, the decent-minded, kindly, and clean-thinking peoples of the earth. (Cheers.)

For in this work we are all together; and before many weeks have passed over you will realize this. In a few weeks it may be the lot of some of you here to owe your life to a Frenchman, your rations to an Italian, shelter from the wet to a Belgian, and your hospital for the night to an Englishman, just in the same way as these races would owe and borrow from you without thinking of it twice. And when individuals come to know and to understand each other through the daily tests of life and death, surely to God it will not be long before the nations themselves—the Christian and kindly nations of the earth—will be united, in spite of the little differences that in old days we used to think vital.

This is not an occasion when we can say very much, perhaps because we feel so deeply. Will you just allow me to wish you God-speed in your work, and God bring you home again. (Loud cheers.)

—The Times, 22 July 1918.