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Eric Campbell Geddes

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Category: General Interest
Reference No: 8978
Status: Available
Price: £0.00
  Eric Campbell Geddes

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Very important British logistics Minister during World War One, responsible for vastly increasing the production of guns, ammunition and explosives, making sure they got to the Front quickly, and doing the same for the production of merchant shipping. Lloyd George said of Geddes that he was "one of the most remarkable men which the State called to its aid “.

During World War One Geddes was one of the "men of push and go" brought into government service by Minister of Munitions David Lloyd George. Made responsible for small arms production, he established rational goals for rifles, light and heavy machine guns, and production then soared, making many more automatic weapons than the army had requested. Geddes was made responsible for shell production in December 1916 and within six months the number of filled shells increased tenfold to two million per week, and the filled shells piled up on French docks. Lloyd George, now Minister of War, persuaded Sir Douglas Haig, Commander of the British Expeditionary Force, to invite Geddes and his three-man team over for two days in August 1916 to advise on transportation. Haig was so impressed that the visit was extended to a month and then Geddes was appointed Director General of Military Railways and Inspector-General of Transportation with the rank of Major General. They got the ports and railways working efficiently and built light railways to bring materials to the front. He was knighted in 1916 and promoted to inspector general of transportation in all theatres of war.

The German U-boat campaign unleashed unrestricted attacks in February 1917. As the British merchant fleet was suffering, Lloyd George transferred Geddes to the Admiralty as Civilian Lord with the rank of Vice-Admiral. He was given control of British shipbuilding, charged with making up for as many of the losses as possible.

Geddes found the Admiralty in disarray and lacking in drive but he acquired more power to deal with the problem in July 1917 when, strongly recommended by Haig, he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. He infused the Admiralty with determined energy, encouraged innovation, openness and initiative. He appointed the Belfast shipbuilder Lord Pirrie as controller-general of merchant shipbuilding, and brought William Henry Bragg into the Admiralty to oversee antisubmarine science (sonar was ready just when the war ended.) Convoying also helped to turn the tide.

After the war, Geddes was appointed the first Minister of Transport, with control over railways, roads, canals and docks but he had neither taste nor aptitude for political infighting and resigned in November 1921.

He resigned from the government and the Commons in 1922, becoming director of Dunlop Rubber. From 1924 until his death he was chairman of Imperial Airways.

Geddes is particularly remembered for saying of Germany "We will get everything out of her that you can squeeze out of a lemon and a bit more. I will squeeze her until you can hear the pips squeak!" in a stump speech before the election of 1918. It became a major rallying call during the coalition's campaign.

This is a very fine typed letter on an 8" x 10" sheet of headed notepaper (Sir Eric Geddes, St James's House, St James's Street, London SW1, 20th May 1932) to Sir Henry Page Croft (1881-1947), a decorated soldier and Conservative Party politician.
He declines an invitation to a gathering because "Horne has misinterpreted my position" and concludes by saying "While it would have been nice to meet some of my old friends again, I cannot do so under false pretences."
There's a good signature in blue fountain pen ink at the conclusion.
One horizontal and one vertical correspondence fold. In very good condition.