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I would like to introduce you to my Grandfather, Bernard Meredith Leffler.

Bernard Leffler writer

Four years ago my Mother gave me a pile of yellowing, delicate paper dating back to the 1930s with the words “as the eldest you can be the custodian of the family history”.

In amongst the pile of papers was a book in my Grandfather’s handwriting titled From Boatsheds to Battlefields. The book opens with his experiences fishing and mountaineering in Cape Town as a schoolboyThe story takes you on his journey to  Delville Wood where the South Africans managed to hold off the Germans from 15 July – 3 September 1916. He was captured and held Prisoner of War until September 1918.

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I will set-up the Website to provide a central location for the family to share stories and photographs from the past and the present for the generations to come.

A Blog will provide the forum for Grandad’s book as well as an informal way of publishing photographs, stories, comments and links from friends and family on a daily basis.

The Podcast will be the reading of Bernard Meredith Leffler’s book From Boatsheds to Battlefields, written around the 1930s, by his Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren.

I have decided not to change his language or his opinions to suit our present politically correct environment but rather keep the language and expressions as a reflection of the time in which it was written.

Apologies and warning in advance to those readers who might be offended.

Rhodesians

“A good country and a cheery crowd” is almost invariably the opinion voiced by visitors to Rhodesia.

The expression is apt. Less than forty years ago it was a savage wilderness rotten with fever, a thousand miles from anywhere, inhabited by two races of natives, one a great ruthless military organisation, the other one of wretched cowardly tribes everlastingly being harried by their neighbours.

Today Rhodesia is a land of modern cattle ranches, citrus estates, tobacco plantations, maize and dairy farms and every branch of mining.

cattle ranching

Modern towns have been built, costly hotels erected and the life of the community is organised on businesslike lines.

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For ten out of forty years of its history, practically the whole of Rhodesia’s manhood has been engaged in the war against Black and White. Rinderpest swept the country clear of cattle, East Coast Fever has ravaged the herds again and again. Blackwater and malaria have taken a heavy toll of life and health. Gold mining, tobacco growing, and cotton planting have caused wonderful booms and disastrous slumps.

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“What I do like about the country,” one Englishman remarked to me on one of my visits to his farm ” is that there’s always a crowd arriving for a new boom so that the people have been ruined in the last month can always sell their farms and start again.”

One hears a great deal about chequebook farmers and young fools easily parted from their money. As a matter of fact, the average Rhodesian is of the type who formed Britain’s officer class in 1914, 15 and 16. Rhodesians take farming in the same spirit as they took the war. When possible the majority jump at any excuse for “a spot of leave” and whilst only they live. On their farms, however, no men could be more enthusiastic over their jobs.

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Unlike the majority of those born and bred to the land Rhodesians handle their labour and work on Army principles. It is an easy matter to be wise after an event and criticism come naturally to us all. The various booms in agriculture received the strongest possible support from not only the Rhodesian Government but all qualified to speak on the subjects.

Unfortunately, the world’s economies are not ruled by the laws of supply and demand but by great vested interests whilst in agriculture, the vagaries of weather and disease are factors impossible to foresee.

Rhodesia has proved itself to be capable of producing almost every product needed by the world. It is divided into so many different types of a country that scarcely a district can say that what suits its neighbour suits it.

Vast areas are magnificent cattle country where prime beef can and is being reared at a negligible cost. Tea and coffee have proved suitable in one or two districts, sheep in another, maize in belts, citrus in some areas, cotton in many. Tobacco equal to the finest grown in America over much of the country.

The mineral resources of Rhodesia are incalculable value – Coal of excellent quality, iron ore of the best type exist in inexhaustible supplies, and their sources as regards the second mineral have not been touched and in the first only in one area has been opened. As an asbestos and chrome producer, the country is rapidly heading the world. Mica, scheelite and other minerals abound.

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Scheelite

Naturally, Rhodesians knowing the potentialities of their country are so optimistic regarding the future that the ups and downs of the present hardly have any effect on their good humour. “Any old job will do to tide us over a bit of a slump” – the bit referred to being one that would break most hearts.

So a formal wealthy Tobacco grower cheerfully goes firing on the railways, tends a bar counter, goes lorry driving or road making. He puts up at an excellent hotel and simply refuses to admit that he’s a ruined man. “Once the tide turns there’ll be plenty of jobs where a man can make a bit of money,” he thinks “What’s the good of whining anyway.”

A race of optimists – men who have handled men – men who have faced too much to worry overmuch about financial depression.

And the government is worthy of the race. The Opposition is only an Opposition because Rhodesians being British of the British reckon that it is a fit and proper thing to have one. Few Rhodesians could give the name of the Opposition party. They know there is one and that they vote against the Government to prove that they are fulfilling their duty, and Rhodesians are content to leave it at that.

During the last election, every Opposition meeting was crammed with enthusiastic supporters – at the Poll, however, Rhodesians voted solidly against all but a few of the Opposition – these they put in just that there should be an Opposition.

Rhodesia is the only mining country in the world where any man can buy all the dynamite and detonators he wants and blow up his whole form without any qualifications regarding his knowledge of explosives.

On many farms sticks of dynamite are thrown about anywhere, are half-eaten by rats and nothing ever happens. Boxes of detonators are kept in the pantry or bathroom and though now and again a child gets killed or mutilated nobody worries.

One can buy strychnine, arsenic or cyanide anywhere with the same ease that one can buy candles.

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Any Rhodesian at any time by taking out a £1 prospecting licence is at liberty to wander over anybody’s farm, dig holes, divert water, chop down timber and go away again – if he finds anything worth finding it is shared between the British South Africa Company and himself, the owner getting nothing unless it is a big paying proposition when he received a very small royalty.

Except for buying railway and bioscope tickets money is seldom used – in ordering a drink one usually is given a card marked I.O.U. and a pencil when the drink is served.

Director Dick Cruickshanks (centre) with the Zulutown Players, from Screening the Past

When having a drink one almost certainly tosses to see who pays, a leather bottle and set of dice being supplied by the bar. If one has no friends or acquaintances to toss with the barman or barmaid is willing to oblige. He or she invariably wins and one pays for two drinks and then is introduced to other inmates of the bar and another gentle flutter follows.

The drink bill of Southern Rhodesia is £24 a head – It’s a sober country, however – with cocktails at 2/6d each, whiskey and soda 2/9 beer 1/- it costs a fortune to get drunk – one whiskey and soda per day is £36 per annum – and what about one’s friends’ drinks.

Last year the Railwaymen went on strike – why they themselves didn’t know. Anticipating trouble the Government called for special constables and paid them £1 per day. The mass of strikers enlisting was one of the noblest sights I’ve seen. 

Rhodesia’s great Southern neighbour latterly attempted to readjust the existing Customs agreement. Rhodesians demand not only the cake but jam on it as well. On their request being refused, they blithesomely arranged to turn their backs on the South and do their business elsewhere. They got their jam.

FREEDOM: JUSTICE: COMMERCE:

The old British South Africa Company’s motto is played up to in Rhodesia.

B.M.L.
Written mid-1920s

The Cost of Poultry Farming by Margaret Leffler

What does a table bird cost me to rear, how do I do it and what do I get for it?

With table fowls as soon as I can distinguish the cockerels from the pullets, usually when the birds are about 8 weeks old, I separate the sexes and give the cockerels at least five weeks on as much free range as possible. They then go into the feeding pens for three weeks, four birds to a compartment or twelve to a pen. Here the birds are fed four times daily. At sixteen weeks of age, my chickens average three pounds dressed weight for which wholesalers readily pay me 1/2 per pound or 3/6 per bird. Private customers pay 1/6 per pound, such a bird makes one delightful meal for four persons leaving nothing for a second meal.

There are practically no losses from disease. Whilst on free-range cats, snakes etc occasionally get a cockerel but that is all. From hatching to the age of eight weeks the table cockerels get the same rations as my pullets.

Yellow Mealie (Corn) Meal (coarse) 70 lbs @ 13/-  per 180 lbs approx 5 – 0

Pollard 20 lbs @  9/6 per 150 lbs approx 1 – 4

Bran 15 lbs @ 5/6 per 100 lbs approx 10

Meat Meal 10 lbs @ 23/-  per 200 lbs approx 1 – 2

Bone flour  2 lbs @ 1/6  per 10 lbs approx 4

Ground limestone flour 1 lb @ 1/6  per 10 lbs approx 2

Lucern Meal 5 lbs @ 1/6  per 25 lbs approx 9

I weigh out 2oz per chick then take away half an ounce per chick and first feed this as a wet mash, the rest is put in the runs dry for the birds to peck at.

At 3pm I remove whatever is left and give a little chick grain thrown on to clean grass to allow the chicks some scratching for exercise. This I find keeps the birds healthy and contented.

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During the five weeks on free-range, the table birds get crushed mielies and when available soured skim milk. On being put into pens for the final three weeks fattening they are fed on 50% barley meal, 50% yellow mielie meal (coarse) mixed with water – with soured skim milk when available – and a touch of salt.

I mix 20lbs of barley meal, 20lbs yellow mielie meal with water or soured skim milk at a time and feed 1lb to eight birds three times per day and twice per week I feed minced lungs from the butcher and mix the soup in the mash. Whilst in the pens the birds are not allowed much water or green food.

A table fowl sixteen weeks old cost me about 6d in bought food for its first eight weeks of life during which it has had 7 lbs of mash; in the second period five weeks of ranging the birds get 2oz crushed mielies per bird in the morning 2oz in the afternoon say 9lbs crushed mielies over the stage at 13 shillings per 180lbs about 8d worth. In the final stage, the ration costs me in barley and mielie meal and meat 15d.

One may take it that with food, labour, killing, dressing and transport a table chicken costs its producers 2/6 to 2/9; thus at 2d per lb, there is a profit of 9d to 1/- per bird. I have purposefully put the costs of feedstuff at the prices charged by Pretoria Merchants selling small quantities at a time, therefore, my costs are maximum ones. Buying grain etc. in large quantities or growing a large portion naturally greatly reduces the costs of production leaving a bigger profit.

Egg production is so often written about and so much information is available that it is unnecessary for me to go into detail as my laying fowls are treated on orthodox lines. Allowing for labour and green food eggs cost me 7d/dozen on an annual contract. My fowls when not laying are mostly occupied as incubators for either fowl or duck eggs and usually manage a double sitting as I take the eggs away as soon as the chicks begin to peck. When the hens definitely show signs of age or unthriftiness they are fattened and sold at 6d profit per bird over fattening costs.

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How A Farmer’s Wife Built Up A Poultry Business by Margaret Leffler 1938

After a desperate attempt to make Flower Growing and Market Gardening pay, I decided that poultry offered infinitely better opportunities. Unfortunately, there was no capital available to start. A friend let me have ten third-year Leghorns and a rooster on credit and in August 1933 I began.

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Leghorns proved splendid layers and yielded not only all the eggs needed for the household but one and a half to two dozen a week for sale. In March 1934 with my egg money, I began to buy Light Sussex eggs, secured a fifty egg incubator on credit and started incubating my Leghorn and then bought Sussex eggs. 

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Results were disastrous a few chicks were hatched out and half a dozen reared. Attempt after attempt failed to give anything but the poorest results but by borrowing a few broody hens I managed to raise fifty Sussex and Leghorn fowls. A friend also gave me eight Rhode Island Red hens and a rooster. I fattened and sold twenty-five cockerels and four of my old Leghorn hens at Christmas and with the money bought netting wire and was lent four old pig huts.

This was the turning point. In 1935 I still had four of my original Leghorns, six Rhodes with twenty-five Sussex and Leghorn pullets laying. I borrowed two, two hundred and fifty egg incubators but having no suitable incubating house the results were very poor; still with what I did hatch out from the incubators and broody fowls I was able to start the 1936 season with 188 Leghorns, Rhodes and Sussex laying hens and pullets.

I returned the borrowed incubators after one season’s use and bought two of the most reliable make but lack of proper accommodation again proved a stumbling block so I turned to turkeys as incubators.

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At last, I have solved my problem. Two Turkey hens I found equalled a one hundred egg incubator. Since a turkey hen could be induced with the aid of a little port wine to sit on and hatch two consecutive settings. Two Turkeys would lay and sit on a number of eggs each but whilst one had fourteen the other only had seven. I, therefore, gave the seven to the bird with fourteen and gave thirty fowls’ eggs to the other.

When the turkey hatched out her turkey eggs I removed the chicks and put thirty fowl eggs under her when turkey number two’s eggs began pecking I removed them to my kitchen stove and gave the turkey a spoonful of port wine and another thirty fowl eggs. On Turkey number one’s eggs beginning to peck I treated her as I had number two.

Turkey incubation proved so successful that I bought a whole flock to use for hatching duck as well as fowl eggs. Generally speaking, I am very well satisfied. Snakes have killed a number of turkeys on their nests, sometimes a bird would persistent in leaving her eggs and sitting with another endeavouring to share her nest, sometimes the birds would kill the chickens and ducklings if they hatched out before I had noticed pecking had begun.

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Still, I’ve found that my turkeys sitting on thirty fowl eggs give me fifteen to twenty healthy chicks and on twenty duck eggs fourteen to seventeen strong ducklings. Much of the loss is due to the turkey cracking eggs through her weight when getting off and on the nest.

In 1936 I added ducks as well as turkeys to my business and began supplying older fowls and ducklings as well as really nice lots of eggs to merchants which gave me a steady income sufficient to pay my poultry feed, to buy iron, wood and netting wire to get good roosters and to begin laying out a modern poultry Farm.

1937 proved rather a miserable breeding year. Hundreds of beautiful eggs were ruined by attempting to incubate in unsuitable housing cats continually got into my kitchen and destroyed dozens of newly hatched ducklings and chicks, heavy rain and shortage of proper accommodation killed mature as well as young stock especially turkeys, snakes worked havoc with birds on nests yet at Christmas I was able to deliver dressed sixty-eight perfect table chickens, sixty-two ducklings and six turkeys whilst my egg sales are approximately fifty dozen a week.

So in 1938 after four and a half years building I have an excellent business yielding a steady and ever-increasing profit. After heavy culling of old and unsatisfactory birds, 1938 sees me with three hundred really profit earning fowls and a hundred and fifty fattening fowls for killing, the duck section supplying a dozen dressed ducklings a week and some sixty turkeys getting ready for the fattening pens.

I have now started barrel feeding. All culled birds and cockerels are put into three section coops on stands. Here they are quickly fattened at a minimum of cost and trouble.

Now, what has the four and a half years of struggling taught me?

Let me imagine now that I have been asked to broadcast my opinion so that others may avoid the pitfalls into which I fell.

I began poultry raising as a wife begins rearing her first baby. I knew nothing at all about the business. Books helped me little for they all presupposed that I had proper housing, proper food, proper fowls. I had none. Sellers sold me pullet eggs – I even tried to incubate eggs bought on the market – wonderful eggs but as I know today obviously unfertile.

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Starting today under the same conditions and same money I’d buy a couple of turkey hens, a bottle of port wine and five dozen really exceptionally good eggs of table and egg production breeds. I would get one or two dozen eggs from two or three really first class poultry farms and put them under the turkeys. Probably the results would be two dozen good fowls born and reared under my supervision free of all disease.

Of these fowls a dozen at least should be females; out of the other dozen I would select four of the best roosters not to mate with the females hatched with them but for future use. When my dozen females were ready for mating I would buy for them two fairly elderly roosters known and proven. My own cockerels I would use on fairly elderly hens of good laying reputation bought from really good poultry farms.

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Until I could afford to build a proper incubating room I’d use turkey hens and my own broody fowls for hatching and when you eventually I got my incubating room only a brand new incubator of an absolutely proven make would satisfy me.

But before beginning incubation on any scale, I would insist on a proper brooder house for my expected chickens. For years my poultry boy and self have rushed frantically out to catch and put scores and even hundreds of chicks and ducklings into boxes when rain has threatened.

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Often the threat never materialized and chicks had to be brought back to their runs. Even now I have a nightly task of gathering and boxing some three hundred ducklings and chicks a job sometimes repeated once or twice a day when bad weather threatens.

Proper housing and runs are essential to successful poultry farming, drastic culling of unsuitable females and the use of only first-class males are vital in building up a really strong healthy flock. Free-ranging means a great loss of eggs and every detail of poultry management must definitely be under one’s own personal supervision. I’ve had splendid natives but no native can ever grasp the enormous importance of scrupulous care in the weighing and mixing of food, of the essential difference between laying and fattening foods. To a native’s mind, a few handfuls of mealies are all a fowl requires.

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Poultry to pay must have proper food. A bird has no teeth, therefore, it must have grit to masticate the swallowed food. the veld and sand are full of ticks, lice and fleas and a bird supporting insect life cannot give her owner the eggs or flesh a clean bird can.

In selling eggs or table birds absolutely scrupulous honesty must be one’s rule. Sell pullet eggs as such, don’t mix them with full-sized eggs. Never attempt to incubate immature eggs and never give an old fowl spoonful of vinegar, kill it and place it amongst first-class table birds. Sell your dressed culls as ordinary fowls bought by the consumer as such. Even if short of a bird to make up an order carry the loss and sell chickens as chickens without a cull amongst them.

Remember always that for one table bird producer there are one thousand egg producers. The bulk of poultry sold for the table are the culls of egg-producing farms. It is a slow process building up a table poultry business it is the most difficult section of poultry farming but once built up it is by far and away the steadiest and most remunerative.

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Two and a half to three pound Sussex, Rhode or other table chickens, ducklings and small compact turkeys are always in demand, eggs are not. With a table poultry business, there are enough eggs to not only pay expenses but to show profits – and there are the tender-fleshed, toothsome young cockerels simply pure clean money. What first class dealer can afford to allow a really choice table bird to be passed over? None.

Margaret Leffler
Valley Farm
P.O.Brooklyn
Pretoria
28/01/1938

FARM MANAGEMENT 1930s South Africa

Two essentials to successful farm management are trustworthiness and organising ability. It is easy to select and train a Native to become an excellent foreman but can one rely absolutely on any statement he makes? No! And in consequence, nobody would employ a native as a manager even if he possessed the intellectual ability.

Unless a farm manager is able to visualise all his work all the time he is quite useless. Unless he possesses organising ability both his own and his employer’s time is being wasted. Always a manager must be asking himself – can I do with less or with cheaper labour on this, that or the other job? Can it be done better another way or with other implements? If it were my farm would I consider this worth the trouble or that worth the expense? 

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A Manager’s job is to extract the maximum of efficiency at the minimum of cost from every employee, animal, land or implement. Unless he soaks himself in an atmosphere of trying to obtain efficiency he is certainly little good to his job.

Early rising is a necessary portion of any farmer’s job. If he is the last to come on the scene of farm labour and the first to leave it is obvious that his employees won’t do their full share unless he possesses more than ordinary powers of handling labour.

Any intelligent native can carry out an ordinary farm job if shown how to do it. The white man’s task is to see that every job is done and done properly.

Excuses are never convincing and are usually irritating. Lies defeat the very object for which they’re used. Once a superior catches a junior in a falsehood it’s a good policy for that junior to look for another job – he’s lost the confidence of the man under whom he is working.

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So to gain the reputation of a good farm manager a man must needs:

(1) Be absolutely honest

(2) Be interested in his work 

(3) Be able to get satisfactory results from it.

(4) Be able to win and hold his employee’s respect regarding
            a.  his character
            b.  his personality
            c.  see his devotion to his job
d.  his results

Nothing is more irritating than working with a man in whom one hasn’t confidence. Inspire that feeling of confidence and it is amazing how quickly ones’ troubles disappear.

B.M.Leffler
Valley Farm
Pretoria
South Africa
Circa 1930s

THE HOLLOW MEN by T.S. Eliot

Mistah Kurtz—he dead.

A penny for the Old Guy

I
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

II
Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

III
This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

IV
The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

V
Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

WE ARE TREATED TOO MUCH LIKE HALF WITS BY THE CHURCHES.

We refuse to believe that we are the mental deficients most Church Officers treat us as. What is wrong with the Christian religion of today (circa the 1930s) is that Christians are an ill-organised crowd wandering spiritually starved and chilled in an apparently impenetrable ghostly mist?

We know not where we came from, nor to where or what we’re aiming, and our leaders are certainly as befogged as we are. It was never the case before and it should not be the case now. Once upon a time, Christianity was a live force in the world. It’s units perfectly disciplined soldiers led by magnificent generals. For centuries the Christian religion swept on it’s conquering way and those who were its enemies were crushed into nothingness.

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Pope Pius XI

Christianity has not exhausted its power but today it is hard gripped by Bolshevistic influences and its officers are as helpless as it’s rank and file. Modern developments have paralysed the Staff responsible for guiding the Christian Army into positions favourable to renewing the offensive against paganism.

BolshevikBoris Kustodiev, 1920

Church leaders are in a hopeless position as regards modern weapons for smashing modern defences of pagans. China cannot fight Japan with bows and arrows nor can Christianity win victories with childish promises and ghostly threats.

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Modern reason revolts as much at pictures of halo crowned saints playing golden harps as at those of tailed and horned devils uniformed in scarlet, thrusting people we know into wickedly dancing flames.

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No normal man who uses his mental powers denies the possibility of the existence of spiritual powers or that he himself is apparently a being in which a spiritual personality inhabits an animal body. It is only logical to presume that man was either created with or in the course of his evolution given his dual personality for some specific purpose by the being who rules the Universe.

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There appear to be logical grounds for believing that the ruling power was and is in conflict with some other influence in the spiritual world. Consideration of the subject immediately results in the realisation that we are creations of a spiritual elevating power who is actively opposed by one of a debasing nature.

Man is the Child of Good who is wrestling in a life and death fight with evil. Man was therefore created to help Good. We call Good, God the Father and enlist in our Father’s army. Throughout our human life, we are recruits, cadets, soldiers in training. When considered to be fit for use we will leave the world, our depot, to proceed on active service.

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So far we are on plausible grounds but what about the snatching away from life of young children, of life in all stages of preparation? Surely they are victories of enemy agents due entirely to our slow realisation of what our duties are, of the bad generalship of our leaders, and of our own grudging response to the rules and regulations of the Army in which we have enlisted. These are all undoubtedly owing to the idiotic system by which Christians of the Twentieth century are trained on methods found satisfactory to the First.

Jesus Christ a being of the power we call God came down to earth nearly 2000 years ago to reorganize the Army of God,  to rearm it with modern weapons and revise its archaic code of rule and regulation. Church officers killed him then. Today they’d put him away in some other form if possible. God could only be recognised, be accepted, by an army so trained to his methods and personality that his presence in the world could not remain undetected.

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To train humanity to recognise God, to fear him and to reverence him, it is vital to teach Man that he is a being under a modern spiritual military training, a recruit to the noble profession of Arms. That he or she is not a miserable sinner existing only through the infinite compassion of God but a very proper decent lad or lass who will revel in a spiritual army life once he or she understands the Whys and Wherefores of spiritual discipline “God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son to the end that man be saved.”

A soldier attends parades properly dressed, clean and smart in appearance. Absence from the parade, slovenliness on parade, improper attitudes are offences against army rules and regulations providing for the maintenance of discipline.

As soldiers of God, we commit an offence by being absent from Church, by praying in improper attitudes, by parading before our Commander-in-Chief in fatigue or undress uniform. 

Our fathers understood this perfectly. We, so near the time of the Great War, so well organised in Defence Force systems, sporting organisations, Guides, Scouts, V.A.D.s and the like, surely we do not need to be told with what impatience God must regard the parades and drills by the present rabble known as the Christian army.

Prayer, fasting, abstinence, Good works, make up the spiritual drill necessary to turn us into soldiers. In ordinary armies half-hearted drilling is punishable and so it is in the Roman Catholic corps of that of God. But even here we find that Catholic officers, the priests, are afraid to enforce more than nominal penalties. An order to an ordinary penitent nowadays to walk ten miles with peas in his or her shoes would meet with a bitter and sulky reception if not with desertion from the unit.

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Whose fault is it? The fault of those who refused to treat the men and women of today as reasoning beings and train them properly. Of those who strive to officer educated men and women as though they were children. Who is so afraid of desertion and so distrustful of their rank and file that they prefer training for the parade ground rather than the battlefield.

Small forces of badly trained soldiers accompanied by hordes of derisive spectators never won a great war. Big offences have never been successful without cadres of well-trained soldiers in good heart and spirit. To train such for God’s army it is little use eternally impressing men in the training depot with their natural rottenness, with their  dependence on God’s charity but to imbue them with the knowledge that they are being honoured by their selection for training to help in God’s offensive action against Evil in the world beyond the mists.

B.M.L.
Valley Farm
Lynwood Estate
P.O.Brooklyn
Pretoria

PUBLIC SCHOOL BOYS AS AFRICAN SALESMEN

Every South African newspaper contains advertisements for travelling representatives and with the cry of Buy British a field of unlimited possibility is open to the English Public School Boy and well educated and adventurous Britons of both sexes.

Britishers abroad are full of British sentiment – a travelling representative of an agricultural machinery firm will often do a large amount of business simply because he was at Christchurch. He will meet hundreds of Public School fellows in a country like Rhodesia or Kenya and an evening spent laughing over Bluecoat scraps with those who jeered at their uniform might nett him a tractor sale.

British-built Vickers tractors in the early 1920s

British-built Vickers tractors in the early 1920s were equipped with a sunshade
for export to Australia

His host will probably introduce him to Rugby men – to Winchester chaps – to a stray from Eton or Harrow – and all will give him orders.

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Unlike the American trained salesman, he will endeavour to arouse clannish instincts rather than make direct appeals to business considerations. He will feel that he is a member of the British Diplomatic Corps and that his mission is to show the world that British workmanship is worth more than glaring advertisements – that a few pounds more or less in buying a car or tractor don’t matter when such a purchase is a help to Blighty.

Let us take direct instances. I myself found that service with the 9th Division gave me a standing with every Scotsman in the district I was working for an agricultural implement firm. My lines were British implements of undoubted excellence, but travellers far more experienced than myself were busy selling American implements at cheaper rates than my firm could consider.

At one farm I was offered accommodation for the night but told that I hadn’t a chance of pushing the tractor my employers were handling. I left the subject of agricultural machinery and remarked that my hosts’ accents gave me a memory of South Uist. I wasn’t allowed to leave for two days. Sold a tractor, a windmill and some hundred feet of piping – was introduced to a dozen Highland folk and tipped as to their requirements.

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Comparing notes with a fellow traveller I found that he had secured orders amounting to thousands of pounds solely because he had met a man who like himself had been at the Merchant Taylor’s School.

Salesmanship and Journalism are kindred spirits. In both human appeal is irresistible and there are few unsophisticated folk left these days and a man knows that no trashy article can possibly survive the strain of competition.

Ten travellers may work a district with the same type of article – one will place all the orders he can deal with and nine will fail – why simply because the successful traveller is of the people with whom he is dealing.

By AN EX-COMMERCIAL TRAVELLER
21st October 1930
Valley Farm
P.O. Brooklyn
Pretoria
South Africa