How Goes the War? An Estimate of the Present Situation and the Need for Further Effort


Encouraging the British populace during the Shell Crisis of 1915.

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“The War has now been carried on for a period of ten months, with unprecedented loss of life and vast expenditure of money. How much nearer are we to a successful conclusion than we were three or six months ago? Can we honestly say that victory is in sight? It is evident that we cannot.”

Those prescient words were penned in mid-1915 by George Prothero, a British academic who served as the Historical Advisor to the Foreign Office after the outbreak of the First World War. They preface a short, unbound pamphlet issued by the Central Committee for National Patriotic Organizations and printed by Dryden Press in London.

The sixteen pages begin with a brief history of the conflict and a frankly bleak assessment of current events, emphasizing German successes and attempting to dissuade any arguments for pursuing peace. Two single-sheet maps show the Western and Eastern fronts, with vast tracts of territory occupied by enemy troops. “The fact has to be faced; victory, so far, is on the German side. If peace were made now on the basis of the status quo, that is, on the present condition of affairs, it would be a disgraceful and disastrous concession of defeat.”

This is followed by a detailed comparison of the military capabilities of both the Triple Entente (France, Britain, Russia) and the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire). It warns against putting too much faith in the Russian juggernaut, the untested source of the Allies’ numerical superiority, and (incorrectly) predicts Turkey’s inefficacy due to cost constraints.

The text concludes with sections titled ‘What We Have to Do’ and ‘The Talk of Peace’. The former underlines the great need for additional artillery ammunition amidst the Shell Crisis of 1915 and ongoing labor unrest. “And on top of this comes news of a deliberate limitation of output in the workshops on the Clyde. To limit the output of war material in this crisis of our fate is not only equivalent to the murder of our men, but spells national defeat and irreparable disaster.” This strong language continues into the final pages, which calls talks for peace treasonous and offers unyielding support to the government in power. “This war, now we are in it, must be fought to a finish. Victory, complete and crushing, is our only chance. To the winning of that victory we must, every man and woman of us, devote all we have and all we are.”

Map Details

Publication Date: 1915

Author: George W. Prothero

Sheet Width (in): 5.3

Sheet Height (in): 8.4

Condition: A

Condition Description: 16 unbound double sided pages with original brown paper wraps. Includes two single page maps. Edges are lightly toned, consistent with age. Very good condition overall.


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