Skip to main content

Full text of "Battle sketches 1914-15"

See other formats


iPiiiiip^^iaiiipi 



'LE SKETCHES 



:'| 




] 


[9:c4-i;5 


1 
1 

1 

1 

1 

'.■'':■'■' ! 
' , ■ V ' ' 

i 




Presented to the 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 
LIBRARY 

In/ the 

ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE 
LIBRARY 



iqoo 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/battlesketches1900hilduoft 



BATTLE SKETCHES 
1914-15 



<f. 



OXFOED UNIVERSITY PEESS 

LONDON EDINBURGH GLASGOW NEW YORK 
TOIiONTO MELBOURNE BOMBAY 
HUMPHREY MILFORD M.A. 

rUBMSHER TO THK UXIVKRSITY 



0^ 

3'5BATTLE SKETCHMf, 



1914-15 



\ 



0\*^rn 



BY 




A. NEVILLE HILDITCH 



OXFORD 
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS 
'^^** *^. 1915 







.tlVE 



,^j-«i',,« 



Three of these sketches have already appeared in the 
series of Oxford Pamphlets 



i. , 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

The Campaigns in Cameroon 7 

The Stand of Li^jge 43 

The Siege of Tsing-tao 83 

Troyon : An Engagement in the Battle of the Aisne 107 

Gheluvelt : The Crisis of the First Battle for Ypres 121 

CORONEL AND THE FaLEXAND ISLANDS : ThE STRUGGLE FOR 

THE Pacific Trade Routes . . . .143 

The Battle of Neuve Chapelle .... 179 



maps 

Cameroon ......... 6 

LiijGE AND Neighbourhood ..... 42 

lilEGE AND ITS FORTS ...... 53 

Tsing-tao 82 

Troyon 106 

Ypres and Gheluvelt . . . . . .120 

Southern South America 142 

Neuve Chapelle 178 



100 20oMiles 

100 200 300 Km. 



l::^*^ 



e^pBauclii ^^,^ 



\ 




/VPGassol • y \ 'k^3 n oKoloi 



Ussu 







THE 
CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

I 

Towards the end of July, 1914, H.M.S. Cumberland 
was lying at Cowes, in readiness for the Spithead review. 
She was a cruiser of 9,800 tons, with a primary arma- 
ment of fourteen 6 in. guns and a speed of twenty-three 
knots, and was then engaged in the practical training 
of naval cadets. One evening, when all were settling 
down to repose, a slip of paper was taken from the 
wireless office to the captain. It was a coded telegram : 
Austria had declared war upon Serbia. Immediately 
everybody was astir. The cadets, who, after cricket 
at Osborne, had turned in, their hammocks slung on 
the upper deck, were unfortunate enough to be sent 
below to be out of the way. Steam was raised, and the 
Cumberland at once weighed, and left for Devonport. 
Guns were prepared, lyddite shells were fused, warheads 
were put on the torpedoes. At Devonport coaling was 
hastily completed, extra men were taken on, and all 
except twelve of the cadets, shortly to be gazetted as 
midshipmen, were sent away to their war stations. 
The cruiser proceeded to Gibraltar immediately. On 
the night of August 4, officers and men were drawn up 
before the captain on the quarterdeck : he read out, 
amid tense silence, Great Britain's declaration of war 
against Germany. That night the Cumberland left 
Gibraltar ; and after some days, spent in preparing the 
ship for battle, she arrived off the coast of Nigeria, 



8 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

with its capital port, inaccessible for large vessels owing 
to a dangerous bar, of Lagos. 

British Nigeria comprises the territories situated on 
the Bight of Benin between French Dahomey on the 
west and German Cameroon on the east. Its area 
totals some 338,000 square miles, its population nearly 
seventeen millions, statistics which, indeed, compare 
favourably with the 295,000 square miles and the three 
and a half million population of Cameroon. The 
dependency, both in natural features and in inhabitants, 
presents striking contrasts. A great swamp region, 
hardly equalled in the world for immensity and gloom, 
forms much of the coast, where the Atlantic adjoins the 
vast delta of the Oil Rivers, filtering their sluggish, 
muddy Avaters, in countless intercommunicating channels, 
through thousands of square miles of dank, malodorous 
slime, covered with mangrove -trees which, where 
drained waterless, stand rotting in putrefaction. The 
strange saurian monsters drowsing for ever in the 
stagnant pools are the only inhabitants impervious to 
the breath of the malarial mud. The Niger recalls to 
some travellers, indeed, classical memories of the Styx 
or the Cocytus. From these pestilential regions the 
surface of the country mounts through a belt of hills 
and dense forests, which gradually thin out towards the 
north, to a hot but healthier tableland, bordering, in 
sandy desert stretches, the wastes of the Sahara. Kano, 
the greatest commercial city of the central Sudan, lies 
upon these arid steppes ; and its ancient walls, opened 
by thirteen cowhide gates set in massive entrance towers, 
hold in their spacious confines, watered by a great pool 
and overlooked by the dome of the Emir's gorgeous 
palace, Africans of many a varied tongue, colour, or 
race. To its markets gather the Salaga from Guinea, 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 9 

the trader from the shores of Chad, the Arab and the 
Tuareg, bringing tea, sugar, and other European com- 
modities in caravans from Tripoli. From its industries 
emanate most of the Morocco leather goods on the 
European market, brought over the desert at great 
risk and expense, and the clothing of half the population 
of the Sudan. A railway line links the town with the 
navigable reaches of the Niger. These, innumerable 
other waterways, and a second line from Lagos into 
the interior, give the colony excellent communications, 
bearing to the coast ports the multifarious products, 
cocoa, rice and tobacco, rubber and mahogany, cotton 
and indigo, which a frequent steamship service trans- 
ports to the docks of Liverpool. Northern Nigeria, 
indeed, is believed by experts to be the most suitable 
of aU British dependencies for the production of cotton 
on such a scale as to render the looms of Lancashire 
independent of sources of supply outside the Empire. 
The climate of the plateau is favourable, and has the 
requisite humidity. Violent tornadoes and drenching 
rains frequently break over the country. The worst of 
the rainy season takes place in August and September, 
a fact which, indeed, when war broke out in August 
1914, seriously complicated mihtary problems. The 
commander to whom fell the task of their settlement 
was Brigadier-General C. M. Dobell. 

His task may be stated simply. It was important 
that all available troops should be organized and pre- 
pared_ for offensive action against Cameroon without 
delay. The German coastline, 200 miles long, offered 
a ready shelter for German commerce -destroyers, and 
there was, moreover, a danger that, unless strong 
measures were taken by the British authorities against 
the foes of their nation, British influence amongst the 



10 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

natives, always alert to note signs of weakness, might 
sensibly decline. These two considerations, indeed, not 
only determined the course of policy, they suggested 
also the course of strategy. Any fear of the coastline 
being used as an enemy cruiser base must obviously be 
averted by the occupation of that coastline, and the 
seizure of Duala, the principal port. A dark and 
sinister fact supported schemes of such invasion from 
the sea. German treatment of natives had a reputation 
for harshness not only throughout West Africa, but 
throughout the world. If, by the entry of British 
troops at two or three points on the Nigerian-Cameroon 
frontier, considerable German forces, led to believe that 
this was the main line of advance, could be enticed into 
the interior ; if, with coast defences accordingly weak- 
ened, Duala and the neighbourhood of the Cameroon 
estuary could be assaulted suddenly from the sea, and 
occupied ; and if, constantly driven further inland, 
the Germans were at last forced to depend for their 
supplies upon native aid, might not native hostility, 
smouldering during peace, and at this opportunity 
probably breaking into open flame, be expected ulti- 
mately to bring about their capitulation ? The French 
in Dahomey could co-operate both by sea and land to 
the same purpose. The great point that had brought 
the Germans into disrepute with the natives was their 
militar\' sj)irit, since this was seen in a desire to regulate 
everything by rule and method, and in a habit of 
nagging and fault-finding peculiarly abhorrent to the 
temperamentally easy-going African. The authorities, 
moreover, habitually solved the labour problem, ever 
the most insistent of West African problems, by resort 
to a system of forced labour. When a German planter 
wanted native workers he notified his government, and 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 11 

they were brought to him. Conditions such as these^ 
not far short of mere military despotism, had, indeed, 
more than once given rise to serious trouble, and a 
revolt of labourers imported from Togoland in 1894 had 
cost several white lives. None of the natives, it is note- 
worthy, spoke Grerman, even in Cameroon, but pidgin- 
EngHsh instead. Hausas and Kruboys were chiefly 
utilized for labour purposes, and Hausas almost whoUy 
for the native troops and police, both in Nigeria and in 
Cameroon. The German native levies numbered several 
thousand, and the British consisted of three regiments of 
infantry and two artillery batteries. But on the outbreak 
of war fresh recruits were speedily raised; and General 
Dobell's command was later swelled by reinforcements 
from other British West African dependencies, which 
had first been employed in the Togoland operations. 
Meanwhile, he made his preliminary dispositions. 

Three British columns were first told off to operate 
on the Cameroon frontier, in order to create the desired 
diversions, from Yola, from Ikom, and from Calabar. 
The incursion from Yola, which it was planned that the 
2nd and 5th Nigerias should make, was to be, indeed, 
a more serious enterprise than a mere raid, its purpose 
being to overpower the extreme north of Cameroon, and 
to prevent any retirement thither of the main forces of 
the enemy. Meanwhile, at all the coast ports of Nigeria 
preparations for the invasion were hastily pushed forward. 
Transports were equipped, supplies were collected, troops 
were organized. In view of a possible shortage of food 
the Administration took control of the supplies, and no 
provisions were allowed to be bought without a permit. 
Considerable difficulty was experienced in preparing 
maps for the adventure. Maps of Cameroon had to be 
enlarged, and kilometres turned into miles. To extract 



12 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

information as to rivers or distances, canoes or bridges, 
from woolly and perplexed heads proved a tedious and 
painful task. The cruiser Cumberland and the Dwarf, 
a gunboat of 710 tons, carrying two 4 in. guns, were, 
in the meantime, engaged in reconnoitring the Cameroon 
coast. It was a shore fringed by countless tiny islands 
and narrow creeks, where crocodiles, wallowing on the 
muddy banks, dense with mangroves and proHfic vege- 
tation, rendered incursion adventurous. In the midst 
of these multifarious preparations, at the beginning 
of September, an ominous report gained currency in the 
coast settlements. Colonel Maclear's northern column, 
in the course of its operations from Yola, had been 
disastrously cut up. 

Four days after the declaration of war the 5th (Mounted 
Infantry) Battalion of the Nigeria Regiment had set out 
from their barracks at Kano. For seventeen days they 
journeyed through the bush, and at length reached 
Yola, where the 2nd Battalion had already concen- 
trated, after a march of 400 miles, no light performance 
during the rainy season, with rivers and streams in 
flood. Yola, capital of Adamawa, was situated on the 
southern side of the Benue, a tributary of the Niger, 
near the point where the former entered Cameroon, 
some 400 miles from either Calabar or Duala, and from 
the sea by river some 850 miles, which, however, small 
steamers could navigate. In this part of Nigeria, 
Mohammedanism, a faith embraced by about a tenth 
of the population, was widely prevalent. It is these 
particular religionists that Germans single out as 
especially qualified to be gulled by the most absurd 
fables, and to be inflamed by the most fanatic passions. 
A letter is said to have been found, some time later, in 
the mosque at Yola, purporting to give news, good and 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 13 

true, from Germany, to the effect that Germans and 
English had met in battle for one day at an English 
town ; that ten thousand English had been killed, 
those who fled being thirty thousand ; and that these, 
soon captured, had been sent to Germany with chains 
around their necks. The letter was written, it was 
added, in order that all Mussulmans might know that 
English and French were liars and thieves. Similar 
intrigue was not, indeed, wholly absent even from the 
southern parts of Nigeria, where one message was inter- 
cepted predicting the invasion of England by a German 
air fleet, and the slaughter of her inhabitants by the 
raining down of tigers from the sky. These tidings had 
in one part been directly productive of slight disaffec- 
tion. At Yola, therefore, Colonel Maclear was operating 
in a district which, bordering German territory and 
susceptible to German influences, rendered circumspec- 
tion and prudence particularly necessary. How far 
these circumstances increased his difficulties and con- 
tributed to his disaster can only be surmised. He was 
unquestionably dependent for information respecting 
the enemy and much of the district upon the natives, 
though the Benue itself in this neighbourhood had been 
mapped out eleven years before by an Anglo-German 
boundary commission. There seems ground for the 
suspicion that, when entering hostile territory, Maclear's 
knowledge and preparations were inadequate, and that 
his advance was precipitate and ill-advised. On 
August 25, immediately upon the arrival of the Mounted 
Infantry, the colonel directed them to push forward to 
Tepe, a small German frontier station 30 miles up-river 
from Yola, in order to feel the enemy's strength and to 
reconnoitre the country. The infantry, the 2nd Nigerias, 
followed in their wake. At Tepe the advance column 



14 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

first came into contact with the Germans. There was 
a sharp skirmish, lasting some twenty-five minutes, as 
a result of which the enemy were forced to retire. The 
British lost three of their six officers and one white non- 
commissioned officer, but a distressing incident, which 
caused a further casualty, occurred after the fighting. 
A certain Captain Wickham had taken prisoner a Ger- 
man officer, who begged for mercy and told his orderly 
to respect the Englishman ; Wickham turned away to 
ask his commanding officer for instructions ; imme- 
diately the orderly brought up his rifle and blew his 
captor's head off. The German and his orderly were 
at once shot, and Tepe was burned to the ground. 
Next morning the column again moved forward up- 
river, followed by the main body, the infantry, to 
Saratse. During the ensuing three days the advance 
was continued towards the important and well-fortified 
river station of Garua, which formed the most con- 
siderable native town of Northern Cameroon. The 
British fixed their camp four miles away, and made 
preparations to attack the station. At night on August 
29 the 2nd Nigerias moved out of camp, and shortly 
before midnight reached the enemy's position. There 
was a surprise in the darkness, and one of the German 
entrenched works was rushed. Promiscuous firing 
began, which the colonel ordered to cease on the British 
side until dawn. The enemy were now alert and 
watchful. About 4.30, as soon as dawn flushed the 
horizon, they counter-attacked heavily with the aid of 
several maxims. These weapons proved deciding factors, 
and the British, unable to resist or counter their deadly 
fire, were thrown into confusion. Panic took the native 
troops at the sight of their comrades falling in large 
numbers, and they turned and fled, leaving only officers 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 15 

and non-commissioned officers in the entrenchments. 
It was a mortifying position for brave and spirited men, 
but flight was inevitable. The remnants of the battalion 
at length straggled into their camp, and it was seen 
in what appalling loss the venture had resulted. Ten 
out of 21 officers, and 250 out of 600 native rank and 
file, had fallen. Maclear himself had met his death, 
so Captain Adams now assumed command. It was 
probable that the enemy would take the offensive, and 
withdrawal into British territory forthwith was decided 
upon. The camp was not, however, evacuated for 
some hours, in case more stragglers might turn up, 
and it was feared, when the column set out, that the 
delay would have given the Germans an opportunity 
to follow up their success. The enemy, however, were 
apparently engaged otherwise. Two British surgeons 
who had remained behind to tend the wounded were 
apprehended, but no efforts, fortunately for the retreat- 
ing column, were made to molest it. Captain Adams 
made a cautious and clever retreat to the frontier, and 
reached it safely. It is said that, some days after, 
the Germans sent into Yola to ask for letters for the 
prisoners they had taken : and later they returned the 
rings found on the hands of the dead. 

II 

Midway down the coast of Cameroon a lofty, volcanic 
mountain, called, from the frequent storms that flash 
and growl round its crest, the Throne of Thunder, 
abuts into the ocean. The traveller who, traversing its 
forested slopes, scales the sterile crater, 13,760 feet 
above the sea, can survey in clear weather a panorama 
of wonderful colour and beauty, containing the main 
centres and channels of the colony's life and activity, 



16 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

as from a bird's-eye view. Inland extends, sending in 
rainy weather countless small torrents cascading to the 
sea, the picturesque mountain-range of Rumby and 
Omon, running north-east, with numerous spurs branch- 
ing off, for some hundreds of miles, and merging, in 
a final sweep to south-east, with the stretches of high 
and broken plateau which form, save for a strip of 
lowland coast, the principal part of Cameroon. In the 
opposite direction, some twenty miles away seaward, 
Fernando Po rises out of the Atlantic with the majestic 
grace peculiar to a volcanic island, its peak reaching 
10,190 feet : while immediately below, where the foot- 
hills of the Throne encircle the lovely Bay of Ambas, 
studded with innumerable rocky islets, lies Victoria, 
the seaport of the administrative capital, Buea, which 
is situated on the southern mountain-side, at a 3,000 feet 
altitude. The magnificent road, as wide as Oxford 
Street, which connects Buea and Victoria, passes 
through the grand, primeval forest whose trees, their 
immense trunks festooned with mauve convolvuli and 
varied twining lianas, alive with gorgeous butterflies 
and birds whose plumage shimmers Avith every brilliant 
hue, lose their feet in billows of exuberant shrub and 
fern. The great stretch of the estuary of Cameroon, 
spreading beneath Buea southwards, has for its shores, 
where the small rivers Wuri, Bimbia, and Mungo 
empty into it, many miles of black mangrove -swamp, 
threaded with gleaming waterways, and bordering in- 
land a belt of high forest. Some miles from the mouth 
of the Wuri, Duala and Bonaberi appear upon opposite 
banks, whence railway-lines run north and east, 
receiving the produce, ivory, rubber, vanilla, tobacco, 
coffee, of field and factory, and pouring them upon the 
wharves of Duala. 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 17 

This port was, until recently, in many ways very 
typical of German colonial life and methods. It was 
the head- quarters of the merchants and missionaries, 
and contained, with its 22,000 natives, some 200 
Europeans. It was beautifully situated, if somewhat 
straggling, well laid out in wide and tree-lined streets, 
had a fine park containing the government offices, and 
was furnished with excellent sanitation. The numerous 
notices which everywhere met the eye, ' Bakerei ', 
' Condetorei ', &c., reminded the traveller strangely of 
some haunt of the Black Forest. Germans sought, 
indeed, to reproduce in the colony as far as possible 
the life of their Fatherland. They set aside a colonial 
' Widows and Orphans ' fund, upon which men drew 
subsidies enabling them to take out their wives to the 
colony, and no more pleasing sight could be seen in 
the whole of West Africa than man and matron arm-in- 
arm beside their charming, red-roofed bungalow, gay 
with fern and flower, whose open door disclosed, perhaps, 
glimpses of a snowy tablecloth bright with polished 
silver and glass. Nor were aspects of the Fatherland 
alone represented in social and domestic circles. In 
administrative and commercial spheres the unmistakable 
stamp of German method and organization was every- 
where impressed. It combined, indeed, with greater 
absolutism and greater efficiency a more enlightened 
attitude between commerce and the government, assisted 
as the latter was by an advisory council of the principal 
merchants, than was to be found in any other West 
African dependency. That caste aloofness between 
trader and official from which unhappily British West 
African colonies were not free, had no counterpart in 
Cameroon. Even the British merchant was warmly 
welcomed, not for himself, but for his trade. The ship 

18 Tt 



18 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

that steamed into a German port met with no delay- 
owing to the medical officer being at dinner or tennis, 
but with a promptness and thoroughness strongly in 
contrast with its usual reception at a French or Portu- 
guese port. British and German steamship lines, indeed, 
were keenly devoted to cargo, but of the Woermann 
vessels particularly a report was current in the Bights 
that they would lie off and wait for the stuff to grow. 
The influences and energies that had impelled the vast 
German trade expansion which Europe had recently 
seen were all at work in Cameroon, and though the 
volume of the latter 's trade just before the outbreak 
of war was only a sixth of that of Nigeria, keen rivalry 
promised between the two colonies. Trade, however, 
came almost completely to a standstill after August 
1914. The energies of the numerous German settlers, 
who, having all had military training, were now armed 
for military service, became immediately absorbed with 
usual German intensity in local war. Troops were 
distributed at points along the near frontiers, and 
British movements were watched, as far as possible, 
with close attention. The circumstances and the 
resources of the colony dictated a defensive, not an 
offensive role. Events were not long in developing. 
About the time that news was beginning to filter through 
regarding the British defeat at Garua, urgent messages 
reached Duala for reinforcements to stem a second 
British invasion, so far victorious, near Nsanakang. 

Nsanakang was a compact little village, with a com- 
fortable ' rest house ' and a large iron-built factory, 
situated upon the Cross river, five miles inside the 
Cameroon frontier. The Cross at this point was some 
eighty yards wide, and the bush around was so prolific 
that it grew densely to within a hundred yards of the 



::%. 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 19 

buildings, which could thus readily be made untenable 
by no great number of snipers. British reconnaissances 
from Ikom, in one of which there was a slight skirmish 
with the enemy, were not slow to recognize the weak- 
nesses of the place. At dawn on August 25 an alarm was 
given throughout the village : the English were outside 
and preparing to attack. Presently to watchers within 
the defences a canoe appeared round a bend of the 
river containing a British officer and a canoe-boy. The 
Germans met it with a hail of bullets, and the canoe - 
boy jumped overboard. The unfortunate officer spun 
round and round in the middle of the river, but at length, 
miraculously preserved, escaped round the bend, where 
a steam-launch, constituting one of three columns 
engaged in the attack, was waiting. The launch, which 
carried guns, now moved up-stream stern first, to avoid 
exposing itself by turning should retirement become 
necessary. Three times, indeed, this proved to be the 
case, and finally, still no Union Jack appearing, it was 
concluded that the land columns had met with a check. 
But soon a canoe came paddling swiftly down. The 
village had been taken. The fiag was not flying because 
it had, unfortunately, been handed to a canoe -boy, who, 
when a German outpost was encountered in the dark- 
ness, had bolted. Nsanakang was now taken possession 
of by the British, and a garrison of 200 men was stationed 
there. Meanwhile, another expedition was engaged in 
a similar raid into German territory nearer the sea- 
coast. A small force, starting from Calabar, crossed the 
Akpa Jafe river, which here formed the boundary-line, 
and on August 29 seized Archibong, on the road to 
Rio del Rey, after slight resistance. A week later 
German reinforcements, brought up from Duala, fell 
upon Nsanakang. 

B2 



20 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

At two o'clock in the morning of Sunday, September 6, 
sudden tumult broke the stillness of the forest enclosing 
the village. Rifle-shots cracked sharply in the darkness. 
The British, on the alert, immediately replied. This, 
however, was as the enemy had hoped, for it enabled 
them to locate the British entrenchments. The Ger- 
mans, some 800 strong, now so placed their machine- 
guns, ^vith which they were amply provided, as to 
enfilade the position. At length twilight filtering 
through the branches indicated the approach of dawn. 
About five o'clock the Germans opened fire from their 
prepared positions, situated on high ground on the left, 
and the rattling of their maxims could be heard for 
fifteen miles in the clear morning air. A British motor- 
launch, summoned by the sound, attempted to reach 
the village, but was driven back by fusillades from the 
river banks. The defenders in Nsanakang, heavily 
outnumbered, and outclassed in weapons, stood their 
ground with stubborn courage. To move about in 
their entrenchments, with hostile machine-guns at so 
short a range, was practically impossible. Ammunition 
could not be distributed, and after some time the 
supplies available began to give out. The trenches 
became filled with dead and dying : the enemy, 
however, also suffered severely, losing their com- 
mandant, assistant-commandant, and many ofiicers. 
A retirement was being contemplated, indeed, by the 
Germans, when the British shortage of ammunition in 
the firing line became apparent. Captain Milne-Howe, 
commanding the defenders, realized that his men, fired 
at from all sides, their numbers dwindling through 
casualties, could hold their own no longer. Withdrawal 
was impossible, surrender was inconceivable. He 
ordered a charge : a number of his men, after a sharp 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 21 

struggle, managed to break through the enemy and 
escape into the bush. British officers at Ikom, the 
advanced base a few miles inside the Nigerian frontier, 
were horrified during the next few days by the arrival 
of survivors, Englishmen and natives, bedraggled, 
starved, and torn, who had suffered terrible privations 
in the pathless bush, some having been for days without 
food. Not a fifth of the original garrison at length 
straggled in. Of the natives, the losses numbered 
95 killed, 16 wounded, and 49 captured, the proportion 
of killed being due, it is said, to the slaughter of wounded 
men. The German casualties, however, were scarcely 
less. The enemy sent to Ikom under a flag of truce to 
propose an armistice, and by agreement Nsanakang 
was declared a neutral zone in order that the wounded 
of both sides might be cared for. Meanwhile, a large 
part of the forces which had been operating from Ikom 
had already hastened back to Calabar, where prepara- 
tions for the invasion of Cameroon by sea were nearing 
completion. 

The task of the Cumberland and the Dwarf, in recon- 
noitring the approaches to Duala, was both difficult and 
adventurous. The position of the town upon the Wuri 
was not far from where the Cameroon estuary, a wide 
and navigable bay, broken by innumerable creeks, 
received the river's waters. Many of these creeks it 
was necessary to sound, and often thrilling exploits, 
welcomed with zest by youthful midshipmen, took 
place. Picket-boat or pinnace, exploring unknown 
channels, would encounter some hostile motor-launch, 
or run into ambush from the banks. One such picket - 
boat gained notoriety even amongst the Germans, who 
named it the ' Red Devil ', for its hairbreadth escapes 
and exciting adventures. On September 13 it was 



22 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

sent up one of the creeks to look for a vessel that had 
fired at one of the British small craft during the night. 
While examining some native huts on the bank the 
crew of the ' Red Devil ' sighted an enemy steam- 
launch, and gave chase, firmg with a three-pounder gun. 
The launch disappeared round a bend, and the picket - 
boat followed at full speed. The British beheld, to 
their horror, a large armed merchantman only 400 yards 
away. They sent shots into her bows, turned, and fled. 
The German vessel gave chase. For fifteen minutes 
shot and shrapnel splashed into the water close around, 
but fortunately missed, until at length the picket-boat 
sped round a bend, out of sight and out of danger. 
Next day the enemy attempted a daring enterprise. 
Under cover of darkness a man in a small steamboat, 
its bows laden with high explosive set for discharge, 
came steaming down towards the Dwarf. He was, 
indeed, by profession a man of peace, being a German 
missionary, who undertook the task because he was, 
he said, a warrior first, an evangelist afterwards. As 
he neared the gunboat he dived, at the critical moment, 
into the waves. By good fortune, in doing so he put 
the helm hard by, and the infernal engine, veering, 
missed the Dwarf by inches. Both steamboat and 
missionary were secured. The gunboat, able from her 
size to navigate shallow waters, came in for more than 
one such effort at destruction. Two days after the first 
attempt, an old guard-ship, the Nachtigal, essayed to 
ram the British vessel, but the effort completely mis- 
carried, the German being wrecked with a loss of 
36 men, and the Dwarf being only slightly damaged 
and Avithout casualties. Yet again, some days later, 
a further attack by two hostile launches, armed with 
spar torpedoes, was similarly frustrated. Another 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 23 

danger to the British vessels was constituted by the 
numerous floating mines scattered in the channel 
leading to Duala, which was also obstructed nine miles 
from the river-mouth by at least ten sunken ships. 
Some of the latter were, however, blown up by gun- 
cotton and dynamite, the channel being cleared suffi- 
ciently for navigation and swept for mines to within 
three miles of Duala. Twelve were found and exploded 
by rifle-fire. Meanwhile, the British troopships convey- 
ing the invading force were drawing rapidly nigh. 

The flotilla consisted of five transports, escorted by 
the cruiser Challenger, and two or three colliers. Life 
aboard presented a curious study in contrasts and 
varieties. Staff officers who might have been straight 
from Piccadilly, native carriers clothed in what might 
have been a soiled duster, Nigerian railway, transport, 
and survey men, some thousand native troops, a few 
Hausa Waffs, their fingers and toes stained scarlet with 
henna, two native deserters from Cameroon, surgeons, 
nurses, a political officer, a guide, a financial agent, an 
AngHcan ' sky-pilot ', and a Roman priest, formed 
surely the strangest invading party to which mihtary 
history or the records of colonial conquest can point. 
The difficulty of the venture was not under -estimated : 
it was beHeved aboard that, in addition to native troops, 
the German defenders included 3,000 whites, and 
Greneral Dobell himself drew attention to the fact that 
the Germans considered Duala impregnable ; sunken 
wrecks blocked the river-mouth, and mines had been 
sown broadcast. The voyage was lengthy and mono- 
tonous. The coastline, ' flat, stale, and unprofitable ' 
it was named on board, was unvarying with its fringe, 
broken by numerous inlets, of low-lying bush, fronted 
by white surf, and backed by cloud-studded blue sky. 



24 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

Away to the south, however, forming, as they were 
approached, a magnificent spectacle, the Throne of 
Thunder and Fernando Po rose grandly from the waters. 
When the flotilla entered the Cameroon estuary, where 
lay the Cumberland and the Dwarf, the aspect at sun- 
down, heightened by the gorgeous phenomena of a West 
African sunset, became indescribably sublime. To 
north-\\est the Peak of Cameroon, partly hidden in the 
clouds, Buea and Victoria invisible, and to westward 
the purj^le mountain of Fernando Po, rearing its summit 
from the sea, appeared, standing stark against skies 
upon which were reflected all the hlies of orange and 
of emerald ; Avhile in the background, morse messages 
flashing from one to another through the twilight, the 
forms of the ships showed sombre and still. They 
made already quite a formidable fleet : but the 
French expedition, now nearing the rendezvous, was 
soon to swell its number. 



Ill 

The commander of the forces in French Dahomey 
was General A\'merich, who had to deal with an extra- 
ordinary military position. The French-German frontier, 
an irregular line touching in its course both Lake Chad 
and the Congo, was three times the length of the British- 
German frontier, and the troops available were few and 
scattered. But two circumstances influenced Aymerich's 
dispositions. It was desirable to conform to the British 
plan of holding as many of the enemy as possible in the 
interior, while the main attack from the sea was being 
delivered. That French troops should engage the 
enemy inland was, therefore, as important as that they 
shoukl take part in the coastal operations. During the 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 25 

Agadir crisis of 1911, moreover, to ensure an amicable 
settlement, France had ceded to Germany an extensive 
and valuable strip of her African territory adjoining 
Cameroon. It was fitting that this area should be 
reoccupied without delay. Upon these lines, therefore, 
General Aymerich had, since the outbreak of war, 
proceeded. Two columns were organized, operating in 
the north and in the south-east, and overran much of 
the ceded area with little difficulty. Meanwhile, an 
expeditionary force was prepared at Libreville to act 
under General Dobell with the British troops attacking 
Duala. French war vessels also were not inactive. 
Cocobaach, to the north of Gaboon, was captured by 
a gunboat. The Republican cruiser Surprise on 
September 24 appeared off Ukoki, in Corisco Bay, an 
estuary full of reefs and sandbanks, escorting a military 
force, and two small German armed liners, the Rhios 
and the Itolo, were, as it was officially announced, 
actually surprised, and sunk. The Germans were 
driven back, and Ukoki was occupied. On the following 
day, the French expedition having now joined the 
British flotilla, the bombardment of Duala began. 

It was the Challenger which was directed to force the 
entrance of the river and to open bombardment. Her 
displacement was greatly less than that of the Cumber- 
land, and greatly more than that of the Dwarf. She 
carried 6-inch guns, moreover, which could be made 
effective siege pieces. On September 25 the cruiser, 
from a three-mile range, comfortably out of reach of 
the German forts, opened the attack. The shelling was 
continued at intervals for two days, and on the second 
day, the 26th, a landing was attempted. A flotilla of 
tugs, motor-launches, and picket -boats, among them 
the ' Red Devil ', carrying Nigerian troops, moved off 



26 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

at about four o'clock in the morning up one of the 
creeks. The boats were nearly all armoured, and 
provided with maxims or three -pounders. The enemy 
were, however, upon the alert, and the stretches of 
black, slimy ooze which fringed the banks proved fatal 
to the enterprise. As soon as the expedition stopped 
at a spot less unfavourable than elsewhere, three signal 
shots from watchers on the shores brought up the 
defenders in force. The banks were overgrown with 
a dense jungle of mangroves, which afforded ideal cover 
for the enemy. A tremendous fusillade was soon 
opened upon the boats, which, while they swept the 
banks vigorously with their maxims, had to fire at an 
invisible foe. So stubborn was the resistance, and so 
impassable the mud-banks, that the landing had to be 
given up. Some of the troops were, indeed, put ashore, 
but proved unable to relieve the situation, or to make 
headway in the swamp. Meanwhile, the Germans in 
the Duala forts were suffering severely from the bom- 
bardment. An effort to destroy the Challenger by ram- 
ming her was made by a ship prepared with dynamite, 
h\\{ miscarried. The German fort guns were outranged, 
and the fates themselves appeared to be on the side of 
the British, whose ships seemed charmed against mine 
or sunken hulk, fire-ship or dynamite. It was evident 
tliat prolonged resistance would be futile, and prepara- 
tions for evacuation were made. The wireless station 
w as dismantled, and all the instruments were destroyed. 
Nine merchant steamers and a river -gunboat, the Soden, 
lying in harbour, were sent up-stream for a few miles. 
The floating dock, however, and the Herzogin Elizabeth, 
a small government vessel, which had been set afire by 
shells, were sunk. On Sunday, September 27, look-out 
men upon the Ckdlenger espied a white flag fluttering 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 27 

from the town. Messages were at once exchanged 
between the opposing forces : the surrender was, 
however, unconditional. Troops were soon landed ; 
and on the 28th General Dobell went ashore and formally 
took possession of the town and port. The occupation 
resulted in the release of Dagadu, the old Chief of 
Kpandu, in Togoland, whom the Germans had exiled 
to Duala eighteen months before on account of his 
British sympathies. He had, in 1886, applied to be 
taken under British protection, and had been given 
a British flag, but his territory had come within the 
German sphere when the Togoland boundary was 
delimited. He retained his flag, however, until his 
exile early in 1913, when it was discovered. Dagadu 
showed his gratitude for his release upon his return to 
Kpandu shortly afterwards, hailed by his people with 
great enthusiasm. ' It was my willing to give more ', 
was the old chief's cry when, out of his depleted fortunes 
and the scanty resources of his ' village youngmen ', 
he sent £100 as a contribution to the War Fund. 

The footing now gained was consolidated and extended 
without delay. Bonaberi, a neighbouring town on the 
other side of the river, was occupied. It was feared 
that the Germans would counter-attack, and careful 
watch had to be maintained. An alarm was sounded, 
indeed, just at dusk, some of the enemy having appar- 
ently been seen, but no attack followed. At seven 
o'clock next morning about a hundred men were sent 
with a naval party in tugs and launches to seize the 
merchant steamers that had withdrawn up-river. The 
men loaded their rifles and prepared for action, since 
it was doubtful with what reception they would meet. 
At length the Hans Woermann, the largest of the 
steamers, was approached. The British proceeded 



28 THE CAMPAIGNS EST CAMEROON 

cautiously along. They were greeted, however, not by 
bullets, but by British cheers. Some thirty English, 
including two women and a baby, had been kept 
prisoner on board, and were overcome with delight at 
their release. The German crew, when the British flag 
had gone up over Duala, had thrown overboard all their 
rifles and ammunition, and now received the expedition 
quietly, though suUenly. The ships were immediately 
searched, the white crews being removed as prisoners, 
the native engine-room ratings being retained. The 
merchantmen, which numbered nine vessels, with 
a total tonnage of nearly 31,000 tons, were in good 
order, most of them still containing their cargoes and 
considerable quantities of coal. The gunboat Soden 
A\as also among the captures, being eventually recom- 
missioned for British use. It was expected at Duala, 
moreover, that the sunken floating dock could be raised 
and utilized. All through the operations which had 
preceded and followed the capture of the town the sole 
casualties had been one naval signalman and four 
natives wounded ; while 400 German prisoners had 
been taken. But such success as the British had met 
^v•ith did not deceive them as to the difficulties in front. 
Two defeats had yet to be retrieved. During the 
following week preparations were energetically made 
for immediate advance, which was planned to take 
three directions. 

The railway line upon which Duala lay ran to south- 
east for about a hundred mfles toAvards Edea and 
Sende, and was continued from Bonaberi in a northerly 
direction towards Susa for some sixty miles. The river 
\Vuri provided a means of easy transit to the north-east, 
the chief township on its banks being Jabassi, some 
forty miles up-stream. Advance in these three direc- 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 29 

tions formed obviously the soundest ways of forcing 
the enemy back into the inhospitable interior, though 
each was certain to be strongly guarded. Columns 
were organized for each, and in a week all was in readi- 
ness. An Anglo-French force which set out along the 
southern railway towards Edea was the first to come in 
contact with the Germans, who, at Japoma bridge, 
contested the crossing of the French. The French 
Senegalese Laptot, very fine, fierce fellows, carried 
' coupe-coupes ', to which bayonets were fixed, forming 
a sort of kukri, and a dangerous weapon at close quarters. 
They acquitted themselves with brilliant success, and 
forced the river passage with little loss. Meanwhile, an 
attack upon Jabassi was impending. 

The approaches to the town had already been recon- 
noitred. The ' Red Devil ' had set out some days 
earlier, and during a three-day trip, not without incident, 
had carefully scanned the banks for possible landing- 
places. The enemy were reported in force, and fairly 
strongly entrenched. By October 7 all was ready for 
the main expedition. On that day a flotilla of 27 small 
boats, including a lighter towed by a tug, and a steamer, 
in each of which naval 6-inch guns had been mounted, 
and which respectively were nicknamed the ' Dread- 
nought ' and the ' Super-Dreadnought ', left Duala for 
Jabassi. They carried a military force consisting of 
two battalions of infantry, with four small field-guns, 
commanded by Colonel Gorges. A five -knot current 
was racing down-stream, and the voyage up was arduous 
and long. The ' Red Devil ' led the way, and in about 
twelve hours a German outpost was encountered, which, 
after a few shots had passed, was dispersed by shells 
from one of the big guns. It was decided to remain 
at this spot for the night, and one company was at once 



^v*» 



tkh 



30 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

landed and placed on picket duty. The night passed 
off uneventfully. Early next morning the boats began 
to move off, and the troops were all landed at a point 
three or four miles from Jabassi. Both naval and 
military forces now advanced up the river. When about 
a thousand yards from the town the first signs of resis- 
tance were met with. The ' Red Devil ', venturing 
forward to reconnoitre, had a narrow escape under hot 
maxim and rifle fire from the banks. On land machine- 
guns, the predominant German weapons, proved terribly 
effective, and the British, unable to leave cover under 
the incessant hail of bullets, were brought to a stand- 
still. A flank attack was attempted, but was foiled 
by the watchful enemy. For some time the attacking 
force, under the heat and glare of an exceptionally 
brilliant sun, was held up completely before the hostile 
lines. The flotilla in the river, notably the two ' Dread- 
noughts ', played terrible havoc among the enemy on 
the banks, but was unable, owing to the uncertain 
ranges and the dense jungle, to co-operate usefully with 
the land forces. Nor could the field-guns, for similar 
reasons, render effective aid. There was no alterna- 
tive but retirement and re -embarkation. This was 
done in good order, and during the rest of the day and 
the 9th October the troops were rested. On the 10th 
General Dobell came up by launch, and after surveying 
the position ordered the whole force back to Duala. 
A week later the expedition set out again. The strict 
precautions taken and the alternative plans prepared 
this time proved, however, needless. The enemy had 
for some reason evacuated the town, and it was occupied 
without resistance. 

A few days after the seizure of Jabassi the column 
advanchig up the northern railway, under Lieut.- 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 31 

Colonel Haywood, came into action with the Grermans 
at Susa, 34 miles from Bonaberi, and forced them to 
retire. Equally successful was a further attack along 
the southern railway, upon Edea, an important station 
about 25 miles beyond Japoma. It was determined to 
attack the town, which lay upon the river Sanaga 
56 miles from the coast, by a river expedition. On 
October 20 a strong force, mainly French, set out from 
Duala along the sea-coast in small boats, escorted by 
two ships. The voyage proved notable for discomfort 
and mishap. So crowded were the boats that sleep 
was impossible, and commissariat arrangements, labour- 
ing under difficulties, partly broke down. In crossing 
the bar at the mouth of the Sanaga an accident resulted 
in three officers being drowned, while one of the boats 
ran aground in the river, the men having to be taken 
off in smaller craft. At length, on the 23rd, the 
troops were landed, and a base camp was established, 
one and a half companies of the West African Regiment, 
composing the British force, being left as garrison, 
while the remainder, the French, under Colonel Mayer, 
set off towards Edea. During two days the column, 
following a road which wound through the dense, 
tropical forest, was constantly beset by hostile snipers, 
who made use of elephant -guns and maxims, cunningly 
concealed in trees. Advance under such conditions was 
sorely trying, but the French, undismayed, pushed on 
tenaciously until, on the third day, resistance practically 
ceased. The casualties had been fewer than might 
have been expected. A big final action was, neverthe- 
less, anticipated before the objective could be gained. 
When the French arrived on October 26, however, they 
found Edea evacuated, the Germans having entrained 
and made off, with goods and valuables, down the 



32 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

railway line towards Yaunde, which they shortly after 
made their temporary capital ; for Buea, the adminis- 
trative capital, was soon in British hands. 

Dobell, meanwhile, had been planning and organizing 
operations on an extensive scale for the capture of both 
Buea and Victoria. The latter lay at the head of 
Ambas Bay, and Buea some miles up the slope of the 
great mountain. The operations, skilfully prepared, 
carried all before them. Large naval and military 
forces advanced from different points upon Buea, while 
the Bruix, a French cruiser, and the Ivy, a Nigerian 
government yacht, bombarded Victoria. The latter 
was seized upon November 13 by a force of British 
marines, and two days later Buea was taken. The 
Germans were scattered in all directions. Some idea of 
the complete success of these undertakings may be 
gained from the fact that not a single white casualty 
was suffered. 

IV 

General Dobell could now congratulate himself upon 
being within sight of his objective. By the end of the 
year the position was still more satisfactory, so much 
so, indeed, that on December 21 the port of Duala was 
reopened to trade, though the sale of foodstuffs, without 
special permit, was forbidden. Permission to trade 
was also extended to much of the area then occupied 
by the Allied forces. Every month had seen, and 
continued to see, this area steadily increase. On 
November 13 a column advancing along the northern 
railway from Susa had driven the enemy before them 
and occupied Miijuka, some 50 miles up the line from 
Bonaberi. The retreating Germans blew up the per- 
manent way at frequent intervals. At the beginning 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 33 

of December Lum, 20 miles farther on, was the scene 
of a sharp engagement, in which the British, ambushed 
in a deep cutting by Germans with concealed maxims, 
sustained a dozen casualties. Ambush, indeed, con- 
stituted one of the principal dangers of the whole 
campaign, as well as a supreme trial to the nerves. 
Eternal twilight reigned in the thick forests, the trees 
interlacing their boughs, festooned with creepers, far 
overhead. Columns picking their way in single file 
through the dense bush would suddenly be checked by 
shots ringing out in the wonderful stillness, very often 
taken by the native carriers as a signal to stampede 
with their loads. Continuing to advance, however, the 
British had by December 10 reached the railhead, and 
the following day they pushed on to Bare, an important 
native town eight miles beyond, which surrendered after 
slight resistance. Five railway-engines, much other 
rolling-stock, and two aeroplanes were taken : sixty 
whites, many of whom were women and children, half 
the former wearing riding-breeches and leggings, fell 
also into British hands. And not least among the 
captures were two or three hundred large bottles of 
soda-water, which British officers, after long abstention, 
found very palatable. After adequate rest. Colonel 
Hajrwood's force divided into two columns, and pressed 
on inland, through hilly country, towards the stronghold 
of Tschanj, 60 miles away, whither the enemy had 
retired. German sniping patrols hindered rapid advance, 
but attempts at resistance in force were repulsed with 
ease by field-gun fire. Tschanj was occupied in about 
a fortnight with little opposition, more prisoners being 
taken. Meanwhile, many miles north of this column, 
near where the Cross River traversed the Nigerian- 
Cameroon borders, the Germans had, following their 
18 



34 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

early success at Nsanakang, been making small frontier 
incursions, retiring, in every case but one, without 
encountering the British, whose detachment at Ikom 
was on December 1 reinforced from Lagos. An attack 
by 300 of the enemy to the east of Ikom in the middle of 
November constituted the exception, but was, after 
a j^reliminar}' success at Danare, 25 miles east of the 
town, repulsed with loss at Abonorok. The fresh 
British troops at Ikom, after a rest of ten days, advanced 
slowly up the Cross towards German territory. The 
surface of the country was here broken greatly by 
mountain and river, and marching proved terribly 
tr^ang, particularly where the road lay for distances in 
the beds of streams a foot deep. Blockhouses were con- 
structed along the frontier, and an advanced base fixed 
at Nsarum. Outposts placed on the boundary came 
occasionally into contact with the enemy, and some- 
times met with exciting adventures, varied by frequent 
false alarms prompted by native farmers who, for 
security, were anxious to retain the British troops in 
their villages. Early on Christmas morning, however, 
a column crossed into German territory, their objective 
being Ossidinge, 25 miles on. Five miles outside 
this stronghold the enemy had left a white flag, and 
the British were met by a messenger bearing the keys 
and announcing the surrender of the place. But on 
arrival, off their guard, they were fusilladed by maxims. 
The Germans were, however, easily dispersed by 
artillery, and the attackers took possession of the 
town, Mhich, after fortifying it, they utilized as a base 
for raids ijito the interior during January. Small 
engagements between patrols continued to take place 
frequently, as was the case, indeed, at many points 
throughout the Nigerian-Cameroon boundary, some 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 35 

650 miles long. Among other areas, the district around 
Garua, in the extreme north of the colony, also the 
scene of an initial German success, showed renewed 
activity. 

In this part, the extreme north, a detachment of the 
Nigerian Regiment had, as early as October, partly 
retrieved the disaster by occupying Marua, an important 
town 600 miles inland, the German forces all having 
concentrated at Garua. The British obtained possession 
on October 8, a month before war broke out with 
Turkey, of a German proclamation addressed in Arabic 
to the Chief of Marua, indicating the cause of the war 
as the desire of the English to take Constantinople and 
to give it to the pagans. Misrepresentations such as 
these, however, by no means limited, as has been seen 
to German Mohammedan subjects, had little influence 
upon British subjects. During the first few months of 
war many gifts and messages of loyalty, indeed, poured 
in to the Governor of Nigeria. The Emir of Bornu 
sent to the troops at Marua horses, corn, and cattle, and 
contributed to the war chest £3,500 from the native 
treasury. ' I am the servant of our lord the King,' 
he said. ' Why should I not help him to eat up his 
enemies ? ' The same potentate, many months later, 
when Garua fell to the British, ordered three days of 
public rejoicing in his capital, and tendered in thanks- 
giving a further contribution of £1,000, with many 
prayers for the victory of British arms and for the 
lengthening of Governor Lugard's days. But Garua 
was yet to fall : reinforcements, and certain big guns 
from Morocco and elsewhere, had yet to be brought up, 
and meanwhile in the south, as the new year advanced, 
the Germans were slowly driven into the interior and 
surrounded. 

C2 



36 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

The fighting in Cameroon now developed into guerrilla 
warfare such as almost every war of conquest produces. 
The South African War was won within a year, but 
two years of blockhouse fighting were necessary before 
the enemy could be brought to terms. The campaigns 
in Cameroon constituted just such another war on 
a smaller scale, won, after preliminary reverses, within 
a few months, but not brought to a close until after 
many months of bush fighting. Such fighting was 
highly dangerous, and saw many thrilling adventures, 
in one of which, notably. Captain Butler, of the Gold 
Coast Regiment, attacked and defeated with 13 men 
100 of the enemy, capturing a machine-gun and many 
loads of ammunition. For this and for another exploit 
he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Hemmed in by 
bush, on a path wide enough only for single file, a 
column, sometimes two or three miles long, would find 
itself suddenly fusilladed by a foe invisible in the 
undergrowth. The darkness and stillness of the ever- 
lasting forest, for native minds the home of countless 
legions of spirits, lent strangeness and terror to the cam- 
paigning. The brushwood was so dense as to envelop 
the tree -trunks, forming sometimes the low, thick bush 
of the Sierra Leone Protectorate, more often of the wild 
West African forest, varied by luxuriant palm-groves 
and acres of flourishing bananas. It was not uncommon 
for white men to get lost in the bush, only returning 
to their columns alive after terrible hardships. To 
cover more than about 20 miles a day, marching from 
dawn to dusk, was impossible. The heat was intense, 
tropical downpours were frequent, and at certain 
seasons violent tornadoes swept down in thunder-clouds 
livid with lightning. In the interior of the colony, upon 
the high plateaux, the country was more open, with 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 37 

rolling hills covered by long grass, where, however, 
countless swarms of ants proved distressing companions. 
The fauna of the colony, indeed, showed little apprecia- 
tion of the fact that war was being waged, and a herd 
of elephants, animals which abounded, disturbed 
one column by overrunning its camping-ground. The 
frequent indications of liveliness evinced by the Ger- 
mans, who showed no signs of desire to finish the 
' palaver ', was, however, the chief excitement. It is 
probable that dreams of sweeping victories in Europe 
inspired them to endurance, for they fought with spirit 
and determination. They broke into small parties, 
raiding across the country for food, which they lacked. 
German officers could not at times prevent their native 
troops from perpetrating atrocities such as the slaughter 
of wounded men and of non-combatant natives. Early 
in the new year, however, they made a violent attack 
upon Edea, where Colonel Mayer repulsed them, inflict- 
ing a loss of 20 Europeans and 54 native soldiers, 
a machine-gun and 50 rifles. Only after many stubborn 
fights were the Germans forced back, during the following 
months, to the high plateaux of the interior. They 
made Yaunde their base, and the advance of the Allies 
was pressed slowly in this direction, British and French 
columns pushing forward from Edea, and troops from 
French Equatorial Africa, directed by General Aymerich, 
entering Cameroon from the cast. Aymerich had, 
indeed, aided by a small contribution of men and 
material from the Belgian Congo, been conspicuously 
successful in his operations in the south, almost all the 
region forming the basin of the Sangha River being now 
in his hands. By the end of May Colonel Mayer, with 
his French column from Edea, had captured two fortified 
posts in the Yaunde district, and the French column 



38 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

from the Sangha had gained a notable success at Monso, 
where a number of prisoners and a very large quantity of 
weapons and ammunition were taken. The spoils also 
included an interesting collection of archives and 
correspondence. The French during the early days of 
June continued to press on, and at this time the strong- 
hold of Garua fell to an Allied force without the loss 
of a single life. 

Since their success in August 1914, the Germans at 
Garua, under von Cranzelheim, had been energetically 
strengthening their fortifications. Two thousand native 
labourers were employed to turn the place, with its 
four forts, into a formidable stronghold, upon which 
were lavished all the care, skill, and ingenuity with 
which for warlike purposes Germans have shown them- 
selves to be so plenteousl}^ endowed. Three modern 
works, set upon eminences each distant some four or 
five hundred yards from the next, and situated upon 
a high ridge dominating the adjacent town, together 
with an old fort on the plain below, comprised the 
defences : but other invaluable assets included work- 
shops equij)ped with excellent armourer's, carpenter's, 
and blacksmith's tools, and a hospital replete with 
valuable medical instruments, microscopes, medicines, 
bandages, and even an up-to-date dentist's chair. The 
old fort, whose mud and brick walls, some 15 feet high 
and 4 feet thick, extending in a rectangle about 100 
yards by 150 yards, were embrasured for guns and 
furnished with sandbag loopholes, displayed in its 
construction exceptional artifice and savage cunning. 
It contained bungalows, offices, stores, and under- 
ground bomb-proof shelters ; a deep ditch filled wdth 
upright spears, and a barbed wire entanglement twenty 
feet broad, surrounded it ; and outside these an abattis 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 39 

of felled prickly acacia trees and a maze of deep pits, 
cunningly concealed and bristling with upright poisoned 
spears, lay circumposed. The town near by, situated 
upon the Benue, was large, containing some 10,000 
inhabitants. Von Cranzelheim's total garrison num- 
bered probably some 500 men, of whom between 40 
and 50 were Europeans : while he was provided with 
four field-guns and ten maxims, and his supplies of 
food and ammunition ensured his capacity for with- 
standing siege. 

On May 31 a considerable Allied force, composed of 
French and British infantry, cavalry, and artillery, 
under Colonel F. G. N. Cunliife, commandant of the 
Nigerian Regiment, appeared outside the town. He 
was well aware of the strength of the fortifications, 
and had come prepared accordingly. Notwithstanding 
the difficulties of transport, a large calibre French gun 
had been brought upon boats from Morocco along about 
a thousand miles of waterway, while a British naval 
gun had similarly been transported by river for several 
hundred miles, under the charge of Lieutenant L, H. K. 
Hamilton, who had commanded a river fiotilla which 
had, at the end of the previous December, driven the 
Germans from the township of Dehane. The Colonel 
first very carefully reconnoitred the whole position, 
and picked out what he thought its weakest spot. 
The heavy guns, from a distance of 4,000 yards, opened 
a bombardment upon all four forts, and sapping opera- 
tions, by night, were commenced with a series of parallel 
trenches dug gradually nearer and nearer to the work 
immediately in front. The enemy replied with a lively 
fire, the effect of which was negligible. Meanwhile, in 
order to prevent the garrison breaking out, a company 
stationed upon a hill on the other side of the Benue 



40 THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 

watched the fords below, while patrolling cavalry 
guarded the fords barring the way to the south. The 
precaution was necessary. The bombardment, which 
lasted some ten days, was so accurate and severe, especi- 
ally towards the end, that the German native troops 
became completely demoralized. They could not counter 
or reply effectually to the melinite and lyddite shells 
which descended incessantly upon them. The British 
lost not a single life during the whole operations : one 
projectile alone exploding inside a bomb-proof shelter 
killed twenty of the enemy. At length, on June 9, the 
men began to mutiny, and refused to man the fortifica- 
tions. Next day a large number of the enemy's cavalry, 
maddened by the shell-fire under which they were 
impotent, broke loose, seized horses and rifles, and 
galloped off towards the Banue. The river had, how- 
ever, during the last few days risen considerably. 
Many of the luckless enemy were drowned in attempting 
to cross ; one party which got over was fallen upon 
by a British force, and the remainder were vigorously 
pursued by French cavalry. That afternoon, about 
half -past four, white flags were hoisted from the forts. 
Colonel CunlifPe ordered the ' Cease-fire ', and with the 
French commander and two staff officers galloped to 
the British forward trenches, about 1,000 yards from 
No. 1 fort. A white flag was hastily improvised by 
means of a white shirt tied to a stick, no more finished 
article being available. The oflicers, walking forward, 
were soon met by a party of the garrison, whose leader 
voiced their conditions of surrender : that the garrison 
be allowed to march out with the honours of war, and 
to rejoin the German troops in the south of the colony. 
The indignant Colonel declared that he would listen to 
no terms, but only to unconditional surrender. The 



THE CAMPAIGNS IN CAMEROON 41 

German saluted and asked for two days' grace in which 
to bring back the commandant's reply. Two hours, 
the Colonel answered, was all he would give. Von 
Cranzelheim, after a short delay, surrendered uncon- 
ditionally. Next morning at daybreak the Allies 
marched into Garua, hauled down the German flag, and 
hoisted, amid a flourish of bugles, the Union Jack and 
the Tricolour. Thirty-seven Europeans and 270 native 
rank and file, a number of field-guns, maxims, and 
rifles, large quantities of equipment and ammunition, 
were captured. Many bales of cloth and beads, which 
were also taken and divided with the spoils, were given 
to the men as rewards for discipline and self-restraint. 
And on Sunday, June 13, a funeral parade service was 
held over the graves of Colonel Maclear and the other 
officers who had fallen in the early defeat, and a large 
wooden cross was erected. 

Here the story of the campaigns in Cameroon must 
at present end. Ngaundere, a large commercial town 
on the route from Duala to Lake Chad, was occupied 
on June 29, probably by Colonel Cunliffe's column, and 
Lomie on June 25 by the French. The latter place had 
been evacuated by the Germans in consequence of the 
mutiny and desertion of their troops. In their retreat 
the enemy are said to have burnt villages and laid 
waste the country. And reports of a native rising 
against the Germans in one district, accompanied by 
demonstrations of goodwill towards the Allies, have 
come to hand. 






THE STAND OF LltlGB 

The Brabant armioa on the fret 
For battle in the cause of liberty. 

Wordsworth. 

On the morning of August 4, 1914, the sentinels 
pacing the ancient citadel of Li^ge, where the infantry 
barracks were situated, oast, no doubt, many anxious 
glances eastwards, where the Vesdre wound, through 
Verviers and Limbourg, to the German frontier. They 
could see in that direction, and to the south, in the 
direction of Luxembourg, now, they knew, in German 
hands, long rolling stretches of wooded upland, rising 
gradually to where the heights of the Ardennes bounded 
the prospect. The journey between London and Cologne 
had no stretch more charming than the twenty-five 
miles, dotted with pretty country-houses, picturesque 
villages, and busy manufactories, traversed by a stream 
winding along a deep and beautiful valley, between 
Li^ge and Herbesthal. In the opposite direction, to 
west and to north, spread the broad and fertile plains of 
Hesbaye and Dutch Limbourg, broken by hilly stretches. 
The morning was sultry and cloudy. The panorama 
that lay below, magnificent as it was, could not be seen 
to best advantage. The broad Meuse, joined to the 
south of the city by the Vesdre and the Ourthe, lost 
itself in haze. Vise, ton miles to the north, could be 
discerned dimly upon the east bank. The soldier's 
eye oould pick out the forts which girdled the city : 
n6ron and Evcgn^e, dominating their villages, lay 



44 THE STAND OF LlfeGE 

nearest the German frontier. Below, descending by 
steep curving streets and stairways, and intersected by 
numerous canals and streams, was Liege itself. 

Li6ge, lying in a richly cultivated valley, is strikingly 
picturesque. The towers of numerous old churches, 
some dating back to the tenth century, grace the left 
bank of the river, where the principal part of the city is 
placed. The chimneys of many factories and foundries 
rise upon the right bank, the Outremeuse, the quarters 
of the artisan inhabitants. Innumerable barges line 
the Meiase near the iron-works and coal-pits of Seraing. 
The river is spanned by several remarkably fine bridges. 
The Liegeois who, on August 3, discussed in their tree- 
lined boulevards and their cafes the national crisis 
that had arisen with the delivery of Germany's ulti- 
matum, could regard with complacency many historic 
buildings and invariably well laid-out streets. That 
ultimatum had, indeed, placed their country and them- 
selves in a terrible position. Events had been moving 
rapidly for some days. A fever of anticipation and of 
preparation had settled upon the city.^ The Belgian 
army had begun to mobilize. The Garde Civique had 
hcQii called up. Then reservists w^ere summoned in 
the middle of the night by knocks at their doors and 
by the ringing of church bells. Horses and vehicles of 
all sorts were commandeered. Even the dogs harnessed 
to the milkmen's and bakers' carts were taken off, 
wagging their tails in the prevailing excitement, to 
draw the machine-guns of the infantry. Carrier-pigeons 
also were requisitioned. A food panic commenced. 

^ The writer is indebted, for many succeeding facts concerning 
the internal condition of the city during the defence, to the account 
of an eye-witness, Dr. Hamelius, of Liege University, in his book, 
The Siege of Lieje. 



THE STAND OF LTfeGE 45 

Provision dealers, overwhelmed by the rush of buyers, 
at first refused to accept banknotes, though payable 
on sight. There was a run upon the banks, amid noisy 
scenes. In some cases the city firemen had to be 
employed to disperse the crowds by playing the hose 
upon the more turbulent creditors. Cattle from the 
surrounding district were driven in, and stood, lowing 
plaintively, in suburban fields. The animals, it was 
remarked, seemed struck by uncanny fear. Many 
sickened and died. Refugees of all nationalities poured 
through the city towards their respective countries. 
Harrowing tales and sensational rumours were exchanged. 
It was reported that the 25th Prussian Regiment was 
deployed along the frontier near Moresnet. German 
airships were said to have passed over Brussels by 
night. A local paper published on August 2 an account, 
copied by the press of foreign capitals, but later proved 
unfounded, of a considerable French victory near 
Nancy. There were not wanting signs which, if con- 
tributing to the alarm of the citizens, stimulated their 
faith in Leman , their military governor . Thirty thousand 
navvies had been at work on Sunday, August 2, digging 
trenches and erecting earthworks between the forts. 
Thousands of troops had been brought up from Diest 
by forced marches to augment the garrison. Wanderers 
by night might have observed mysterious preparations, 
and the secret transport of bulky objects in connexion 
with the forts. The precautions had proved to be 
justified. On August 3 newspaper placards, ' Belgium 
Refuses,' spread sudden news among the disturbed 
populace of the rejection of Germany's proposals. The 
next day dawned upon an anxious but determined 
city. Yesterday had sent defiance to Germany. What 
was to-day to bring ? Did their neighbours indeed 



46 THE STAND OF LifcGE 

intend to make war upon them ? Within a few hours, 
before night fell, an overwhelming enemy might be in 
their midst. The horrors of war might have overtaken 
their homes. The citizens could not but despair of the 
ultimate result of the onslaught of a foe so mighty. 
But they waited, during hours of acute suspense, with 
fortitude. Events soon revealed themselves. During 
the morning the distant rattle of rifle-fire broke out 
suddenly in the wooded country beyond Herve. 
A sharper and more continuous fusillade opened in 
the direction of Vise. Some time later a nearer and 
more sinister sound, the deep thunder of guns, was 
heard. The Germans were bombarding the forts. 

Reports poured in at General Leman's head -quarters. 
The Germans had entered Limbourg : they had pushed 
on to Verviers : they had advanced to Herve : a large 
force had reached Dalhem, and was approaching Vise. 
The climax came. The enemy had arrived outside 
Flcron, and were preparing to attack. Leman's eyes 
might well be troubled ; but his jaw was set hard. 

It may be well now to recount the first stages of the 
German advance. Troops had crossed the frontier, 
early that morning, in three columns. It is recorded 
that, on their journey by open goods-train to Herbesthal, 
old men ran out to bless them, women and girls to 
encourage them, and to press upon them food and 
drink. Passing trainloads cheered each other, and 
promised to meet again in Paris. They w^ere in high 
spirits. The task immediately before them appeared 
easy. It seemed incredible that Belgium would, or 
could, resist their progress. The main column, detrain- 
ing at Herbesthal, took to the road and advanced into 
Belgian territory. Cavalry patrols were sent on ahead. 
A few stra}' shots fired upon them showed that Belgian 



THE STAND OF LIi]GE 47 

Bcouts were on the alert. No resistance was offered. 
The cavaby, passing through Limbourg, met with 
some of the retreating Belgians at Verviers. There 
was a slight skirmish. The Belgians retired in safety, 
and made good use of their retreat in blowing up bridges 
and tearing up the railway. The line was, indeed, 
remarkable for the engineering skill of its construction. 
German infantry, meanwhile, had commandeered loco- 
motives and rolling-stock found at Limbourg, and had, 
partly by rail and partly by road, reached Verviers. 
The terror-stricken inhabitants withdrew into their 
houses, and watched the arrival of the Germans from 
behind closed shutters. The invaders proceeded to 
the town hall. The Belgian flag was torn down and 
replaced by the German amid the cheers of the troops. 
Martial law was proclaimed in French. A German 
ofiicer, placed in charge of the administration of the 
town, began to billet troops and requisition supplies. 
Large forces had, meanwhile, been pushing forward 
by various routes towards Liege. One column made 
rapid progress for some distance by means of the rail- 
way, until the torn-up portion of the line compelled 
recourse to the road. Other columns converged upon 
Herve, about ten miles due east of Liege. Continuous 
firing broke out in a northerly direction as the advance 
was proceeding. Belgian troops, after a skirmish at 
Warsage, had retreated, destroying bridges in their 
wake, to Vise. Here they were making their first 
stand. 

Vise occupied a position of considerable strategic 
importance. It commanded the passage of the Meuse 
north of the city, which was at present exposed to 
attack from the east alone. Unless Vise were in German 
hands, it would be impossible completely to invest Liege, 



48 THE STAND OF LitGE 

or to throw forward cavalry into the country beyond. 
The capture of Vis6 was, indeed, an essential preliminary 
to the capture of Liege. Von Emmich, the veteran 
German commander, fully aware of this, had meditated 
a surprise. While his main body was advancing by 
Limbourg and Verviers, a number of motor-cars, carrying 
German troops, followed by large bodies of cavalry, 
crossed the frontier and proceeded rapidly to Dalhem. 
Two miles away, on the near bank of the river, lay 
Vise. So far no opposition, other than a few stray shots, 
had met them. They could not expect as propitious 
an entry into Vise, and they prepared for action. It 
was soon seen that Belgian troops were in occupation. 
Light German artillery was brought up, and fire was 
opened. It was the first engagement of the war. One 
can well imagine that the nerves of the combatants, as 
yet unhardened to the sight and sound of battle, were 
strung to the highest pitch. It is, indeed, in his first 
engagement that the soldier usually shows whether his 
natural disposition is for advance or for retreat. The 
defence of Vise foreshadowed the defence of Li^ge. The 
Belgians showed spirit. The Germans could make no 
progress for a considerable while. Time was precious. 
The attack on Liege itself, which the seizure of Vise 
should precede, would soon open. They commenced 
a series of fierce assaults upon the town. Many houses 
were set ablaze by bursting shells. The inhabitants, 
furious at the wanton attack upon their peaceful dwelling- 
place, began to take a share in the fighting. Many 
were, indeed, provided with weapons. The manufacture 
of fire-arms, for which Liege was famed, was largely 
carried on in the workers' homes. The people were 
familiar with their mechanism and use. Shots were fired 
from the houses. Boys and women flung stones upon 



THE STAND OF Lli]GE 49 

the attackers. Finally, after a desperate struggle, en try- 
in to the town was effected by the Germans. They were 
too late to save the bridge. The Belgians, retreating, 
destroyed it, and took up a position on the opposite 
bank of the river. A body of Uhlans, making for the 
bridge, was almost annihilated by a hot fire opened upon 
them by infantry hidden among the broken piers. At 
the same time shots were fired from houses near the 
bank. It is possible that these came from Belgian 
soldiers. The German infantry, pouring through the 
streets, proceeded to indiscriminate reprisals. A large 
number of the inhabitants were shot down. All resis- 
tance having ceased, the remaining population were 
herded together into the centre of the town, and sur- 
rounded by German troops. The commanding officer 
addressed the sullen Belgians in French. Urgent neces- 
sity, he said, not deliberate enmity, had forced the 
Germans to invade Belgian territory. But the inhabi- 
tants must submit to German military law. Every 
attack on the troops would be immediately punished 
with death. A shot rang out suddenly. The officer fell 
badly wounded. A group of eight Belgians, from whose 
midst the bullet was fired, were seized on the spot. 
A file of riflemen was drawn up. The eight, without 
attempt at discrimination, were summarily executed. 

While the attack upon Vise was in progress, the 
German columns were concentrating on Liege. Their 
front line stretched roughly from Vise on their right 
wing to Nessonvaux on their left. Their centre rested 
upon Herve. Cavalry had cleared the way for them as 
they advanced. By evening their first line had halted 
before the forts and entrenchments of Liege, and were 
in readiness to attack. 

The Germans were in great strength. They formed 

IS p 



50 THE STAND OF LifeGE 

the 3rd Army, called the Army on the Meuse. Their 
commander, General von Emmich, had known, during 
sixty-six years of life, nearly half a century of military 
experience, and had seen service in the campaigns of 
1870. Before the outbreak of war he had been at Han- 
over in command of the 10th Army Corps, the famous 
Iron Division of Brandenburg. That corps, together 
with the 7th, were now with him before Liege. The 
9th Corps was proceeding from Altona, and would join 
him later. His i^resent forces numbered some 90,000 
men, of all arms. A cavalry division was also at his 
disposal. Of field artillery the three corps mustered 
among them 72 six-gun batteries, and 12 four-gun heavy 
howitzer batteries. Each infantry regiment carried six 
machine guns. But no heavy siege artillery had been 
brought up. The heaviest guns that von Emmich could 
show, his six-inch howitzers, were inferior in calibre and 
in quality to many within the Liege forts. It was, 
indeed, a part of the German scheme to travel lightly 
equipped. Von Emmich 's plans had been carefully 
prepared. He would ' take Liege in his stride '. It was 
not unlikely that the Belgians had calculated on at 
least twelve days elapsing from the commencement of 
the German mobilization before Liege could be attacked. 
Evidence already showed that they had been surprised. 
Probably there were only a few thousand troops in the 
city. He could engage the eastern forts with his artillery, 
push his forces through the wide intervals between them, 
and have the city at his mercy. If the forts held out, 
he would invest them, brush aside the Belgian field 
troops, and sweep forward as rapidly as possible. The 
country was rich in agricultural produce. The German 
troops would feed upon the fat of Belgian land. It 
seemed unnecessary to encumber themselves with great 



THE STAND OF LIEGE 51 

supplies of provisions and of baggage. Speed was the 
great object. If the Germans, by a sudden coup de main, 
could seize Liege, could scatter the Belgian field army 
before fully mobilized, could occupy Namur and Brussels, 
there was nothing to prevent their immediate advance 
upon Paris. The French would be unready. The British 
needed time. If, indeed, their ' contemptible little army ' 
placed itself in the way, it should be instantly trampled 
down by weight of numbers and annihilated. The 
heavier German artillery, designed to shatter the forti- 
fications of Paris, could have some preliminary practice 
upon the forts of Liege, did they refuse to yield. Their 
capture was not essential to the occupation of the city, 
nor to the crossing of the Meuse. But it would be 
necessary to drive the Belgians from the rampart of 
trenches between the forts. The 7th Corps was massing 
before the nearest three, Barchon, Evegnee, and Fleron. 
It was evening. Light showers had fallen during the 
day. The sky was overcast. But the light would still 
hold good for some hours. The first shells were sent 
screaming towards the Belgian lines. The firing soon 
became general. The German infantry prepared for 
action. A night attack, after the bombardment had 
weakened the Belgian defence, was contemplated. 

Let us now return to Liege. The garrison had been 
busy. Scouts had kept General Leman informed of the 
enemy's movements. The forts were in readiness. 
Infantry manned the trenches on the eastern side of 
the city. Many buildings and obstacles which stood 
outside the line of defence, and which seemed likely 
to afford cover to the attackers, were demolished. The 
place was, indeed, naturally strong. But its governor 
laboured under a fatal disadvantage. The force at his 
disposal was altogether inadequate to its defence. It 

D2 



52 THE STAND OF LliGE 

had been estimated in 1890 that a garrison of at least 
74,000 was essential. General Leman had only 40,000. 
The Germans brought against him first twice, then three 
times, that number. This disproportion was, however, 
in some measure compensated for by the skill, the 
resource, and the courage of Leman himself. 

He was known as the silent general. He was essen- 
tially a man of action. But his personality was strong 
because he could be trusted implicitly. Other officers 
might be more popular among the troops. Leman was 
a martinet in discipline. He expected much from his 
men. He followed and studied his profession zealously. 
It is related that, after being all day on horseback, he 
would often sit up discussing problems of strategy and 
of tactics, of which he was a master, until early morning. 
He seemed, indeed, incapable of fatigue. He was a 
recognized expert in Roman law, in military architecture, 
in engineering science. To attributes of mind were added 
many qualities of heart and of temper. He mingled 
prudence with tenacity, kindliness with force of will. 
His judgement was as cool, his resource was as ready, 
in pressing home a success as in sustaining a reverse. 
He knew accurately, indeed, the weaknesses and the 
capabilities of his position at Liege. Even had it been 
garrisoned by forces adequate to its sustained defence, 
instead of half that number, it was hardly impregnable. 
The fact that, without the necessary numbers, constituted 
its strength as a place d'arret, constituted also its weak- 
ness as a defensible stronghold. Its twelve works, though 
inter-supporting, were isolated from the city and from 
one another. There was no key-fort. 

The rough circle of forts and trenches around the 
city formed a circumference of about thirty-three miles. 
Each fort lay about four miles from Liege, and two or 



54 THE STAND OF Ll{]GE 

three miles from the next. The country within this 
circular area, covering many square miles, was in 
general, excluding the city itself, richly cultivated and 
thickly populated. The eastern half, the scene of the 
fiercest fighting, was hilly and wooded. A great number 
of men would obviously be required to ring this extensive 
district with a line of troops. Leman's force, compris- 
ing the regular garrison, his own 3rd Liege Division, 
and the 15th Brigade, numbered no more than 40,000. 
It was impossible for him to defend the whole of the 
circle at the same time. If the Germans crossed the 
Meuse, surrounded the city, and attacked the whole 
line simultaneously, the defence must instantly collapse, 
and the surrender of the field troops would become 
inevitable. Leman saw that he must at all costs prevent 
the enemy from crossing the Meuse. It was more 
likely that they would try to force a passage to the 
north than to the south of the city. Envelopment 
from the south would necessitate the bridging of three 
rivers instead of one, and would be considerably longer. 
He must also economize his men by manning only 
those trenches directly opposite the enemy's lines. His 
field troops were mobile, and included many cavalry. 
He would keep large numbers in reserve. He must be 
constantly on the watch. Immediately any unguarded 
portion of his line was threatened, he must hurry his 
reserves to the gap. At every point in the circle at 
which a German force appeared, a covering Belgian 
force must be waiting. It was conceivable that small 
detachments might enter at undefended spots. Mobile 
reserves must be ready to cut them off at once. 
Such was Leman's general strategy. The manner of 
the German advance confirmed his dispositions. The 
Germans had struck at Vise, and had seized it. But 



THE STAND OF Lli:GE 55 

Belgian troops now lay along the western bank of the 
river in readiness to repel any attempt at crossing. 
Small parties of German cavalry could be seen on the 
other side. Patrols were also observed near Barchon, 
Evegnee, and Fleron. It soon became evident that 
masses of infantry and artillery were concentrating 
opposite these three forts. The latter fired a few practice 
shots. Soon the woods were resounding to the roar of 
the first artillery duel of the war. 

The bombardment continued without intermission 
for some hours. Both Belgians and Germans, under 
fire for the first time, no doubt experienced many new 
emotions. The Germans, however, suffered far more 
from the fire than their opponents. The defenders 
knew well the ground in front of them. The range 
of every landmark was known to them. Manoeuvres 
had taken place in that district only the year before. 
The firing from the forts engaged was naturally far 
more accurate than from the German batteries. The 
guns of Evegnee destroyed two German pieces, without 
structural injury or the loss of a single man. Darkness 
began to set in. It became difficult to distinguish objects 
on the heavily-wooded slopes opposite each position. 
Little impression had so far been made upon the defence. 
The Belgian losses were inconsiderable. The forts were 
quite undamaged. As night deepened, the flashes of the 
guns grew more distinct, their booming louder. Search- 
lights in the forts were brought into play. Their beams, 
sweeping the wide area from Barchon to Fleron, disclosed 
masses of German infantry approaching the Belgian lines. 

These lines described, from Barchon to Fleron, 
a curve. Both these forts were roughly triangular in 
form, were surrounded by a ditch and by barbed-wire 
entanglements. The works were of concrete, sur- 



56 THE STAND OF Lli:GE 

mounted by revolving turrets of steel, called cupolas. 
Within the latter were mounted the heavier guns, of 
which each fort possessed eight howitzers and mortars, 
and four quick-firers. Machine-guns for the repulse 
of storming parties stood upon the ramparts. Four 
others in the ring of foi-ts were similar to Barchon and 
Fleron. Between the two latter, somewhat advanced 
from their line, was Evcgnee, called, from its reduced 
size, a ' fortin '. It was similar to them in type, but 
much smaller in scale and less powerful in armament. 
Five others in the ring were 'fortius' like Evegnee. 
Open grassy slopes, called glacis, surrounded each fort, 
which presented, rising little above the glacis, but 
a small mark for fire. The total armament of the 
twelve works was some 400 pieces. Some of the heavier 
guns, indeed, the Germans would not expect to find. 
Some months before, the Belgian Government had 
ordered fortress artillery from Krupp of Essen. Early 
delivery was asked for, and payment was made. When 
the European horizon darkened a deputation was sent 
to Essen. The guns were overdue. A report had got 
abroad that treachery was afoot. What, indeed, was 
the cause of delay ? The deputies were received cordially 
and feasted royally. The Germans, however, would 
not commit themselves as to the guns. There was 
nothing for it but to take other steps. Under cover 
of darkness, in a mysterious manner, to avoid detec- 
tion by spies, pieces of heavy calibre were moved from 
Antwerp to bring the armament of Liege to full strength. 
Their efficacy had already been proved. It was no 
doubt a matter of surprise to German gunners that their 
artillery was easily outmatched. 

Belgian officers, as they scanned the enemy's advance, 
must have knitted their brows in astonishment. They 



THE STAND OF LifeGE 57 

could see the German infantry marching through the 
fields in close formation, without haste, without attempt 
to take cover, as if on parade. A deployment of barely 
five paces separated man from man. It is recorded 
that, forty-four years before, the battlefield of Gravelotte 
was strewn, behind the Prussian firing line, with skulkers 
who had left their ranks, while the more courageous 
had advanced. Some were lying down in the furrows, 
their rifies pointed towards the front as if in action ; 
others had openly made themselves comfortable behind 
bushes and in ditches. It is not improbable that the 
Germans before Liege adopted advance in mass to 
check wholesale straggling. But the Belgians seized 
their opportunity. The cupolas in the forts swung 
round. The field artillery, the hotchkisses, the maxims, 
were trained upon the approaching columns. Flame 
sprang and thunder roared from the muzzles of a hundred 
guns. Bullets swept in a blast of death, gust after 
gust, the dim shadowy stretches, pasture and standing 
grain, wcodland and broken ground, before the long 
front of battle. But the Germans maintained for some 
time an inexorable advance. At many points in the 
long line the stricken front ranks, falling back upon 
one another, formed a barrier of corpses. The woods, 
indeed, provided useful cover from which to fire. 
But the German artillery could not cover effectually 
such a form of infantry attack. The fighting was 
hottest near Barchon. The Germans pressed a fierce 
assault upon the trenches, held by two Belgian regi- 
ments. So near did the enemy draw, so sharp was 
their fusillade, that Leman, ever on the watch, hurried 
up reinforcements. It was determined to assume the 
offensive. A spirited bayonet charge followed. The 
Germans fled. Their main columns were forced to 



58 THE STAND OF LifeGE 

retire for some distance to re-form their shattered ranks. 
The Belgians, indeed, resorted to the bayonet at many 
other points. The Germans, stoically brave in facing 
a devastating fire, rank behind rank, almost shoulder 
to shoulder, showed little inclination to face the bayonet. 
It was probably some hours before the last attack 
ceased. The defenders had maintained their ground. 
No portion of their line had been penetrated. The 
forts were undamaged. They must have inflicted 
enormous losses upon the enemy. Dawn broke. Day- 
light revealed a ghastly and a pitiable sight. Froni 
any point hundreds of bodies could be seen lying on 
the slopes. In some parts they lay piled four feet high. 
The woods were scarred and the fields furrowed by 
shell-fire. The Belgians themselves had suffered severely. 
Their wounded were carried into the city. The defenders 
were, however, allowed little rest. Early in the morning 
the bombardment was renewed. 

Wednesday, August 5, opened dull and hot. The 
German firing line had lengthened. The 10th Army 
Corps had now come up on the left of the 7th, the 
corps repulsed during the night. The cannonade 
stretched from Vise to a considerable distance below 
Liege. Six of the most easterly forts, from Pontisse 
to Embourg, became involved. Their guns were well 
able to hold their own. 

Within a few hours infantry attacks recommenced. 
The assaults, now along a wider front, were pressed 
as fiercely as ever. The enemy advanced across open 
country in close formation, as before, and by a succes- 
sion of short rushes. They ran forward, dropped on 
their fronts, fired a rifle-volley, and ran forward again, 
witli shells bursting in their midst. But each time 
they attempted to storm the Belgian lines they were 



THE STAND OF LliiGE 59 

met by a terrible fire. At last a large body of Germans 
succeeded in gaining a footing on the near slopes of 
one of the forts. Its larger guns could not be depressed 
to reach them. Victory seemed within their grasp. 
But streams of bullets from machine-guns were suddenly 
played upon their ranks. They retired in disorder. 
The spectacle from the forts of attacks such as these 
moved the pity of the Belgians themselves. The 
smoke of the guns was soon carried away by the wind. 
Wounded Germans were observed struggling to release 
themselves from their dead comrades. So high in some 
parts became the barricade of the slain and injured 
that the fire of the defenders was in danger of being 
masked. The Germans did, indeed, in some cases 
make use of this human barricade to creep closer. At 
points where they came within 50 yards of the trenches 
the Belgians did not hesitate to rush out to attack 
them with the bayonet. One man is said to have 
dashed forward alone, and to have returned in safety 
after killing four of the enemy. All assaults were 
successfully repulsed. But the defenders were hard 
pressed. The firing line became so lengthened that 
Leman had no alternative but to throw almost all his 
available troops into the fighting. During the morn- 
ing, aircraft, both Belgian and German, eager to 
display their capabilities, hummed continually to and 
fro. Men who, in time of peace, would have fraternized 
as fellow adventurers in a new sphere of science, had 
in war become intent on one another's destruction. 
A Zeppelin appeared in the distance, but drew off. 
Belgian aeroplanes were notably successful. One air- 
man, subjected to a fusillade of shots as he flew over 
the enemy's lines, remarked coolly on landing in safety, 
' How badly these Germans shoot ! ' A German machine 



60 THE STAND OF LifeGE 

was shot down near Argenteau. Another was inad- 
vertently brought down by the Germans themselves. 
It was not easy, indeed, although the German Taubes 
bore a mark in black resembling the Iron Cross of 
Prussia, to distinguish between friend and enemy. 
Below, guns thundered without ceasing, and the drone 
of air-machines swelled the uproar. To the airmen 
above, deafened with the familiar sound of their engines, 
the battle-field was completely silent. 

General Leman and his staff spent part of the day 
in council of war at the military head-quarters in the 
city. A review of events and of the present position 
did not present unsatisfactory features. It was, indeed, 
no small matter to have repulsed with untried troops 
the first onslaught of what was reputed to be the finest 
fighting machine ever evolved. So far they had done 
well. The Germans were at a standstill. All their 
efforts to break the line were being checked. They 
could not cross the Meuse in forcG. But how long 
could the defence be sustained ? Could the Belgians 
hold out till relieved by the French ? Much depended 
upon whether the enemy were successful in getting 
across the Meuse in large numbers. If so, it would 
become necessary for the field troops to retire before 
surrounded. The city would have to be abandoned. 
The forts, amply garrisoned and provisioned, must 
resist to the last and embarrass the German advance. 
There was no need yet to think of retiring. But pre- 
parations, in case it became necessary, should be made. 
Meanwhile, the city must be kept calm. Business 
was at a standstill. The populace were very agitated. 
Trains leaving the city were stormed. The citizens as 
yet knew little of what was happening in the firing 
line, and many contradictory reports were abroad. It 



THE STAND OF LifeGE 61 

was, indeed, believed by many that some of the forts 
had been silenced. Spy-hunting had been in progress. 
The city was undoubtedly infested by spies. It might 
be possible to turn the fact to account. By a certain 
cunning ruse Uhlan patrols might be lured, in the hope 
of capturing Leman himself, into the suburbs, and 
there trapped. The wildest rumours also were current 
among the people of help at hand. It was realized 
that the journey by rail from the French frontier could 
be done in three hours, from Paris in five. Both French 
and British troops were reported to be approaching 
the city. The streets became filled with joyous crowds, 
who eagerly bought up the little tricolour flags oppor- 
tunely vended by hawkers. The excitement was intense. 
It seemed, indeed, on the whole desirable that hope 
should be kept high. Leman and his officers were 
suddenly interrupted by a violent hubbub without. 
Loud cries could be heard. The General, followed by 
his staff, rushed anxiously outside. Had the Germans 
broken through ? Shouts greeted his appearance. 
Leman observed eight soldiers, in some foreign uniform, 
hastening towards him. He scanned them in amaze- 
ment. Major Marchand, one of his staff, scented 
danger. A fusillade of revolver shots was suddenly 
fired by the strangers. Marchand had thrown him- 
self in front of the General, and fell, mortally wounded. 
' Give me a revolver quickly,' cried Leman. But he 
was almost alone. A staff -officer, a man of Herculean 
build, shouted to him not to expose himself, and lifted 
him up over the wall of an adjacent foundry. He then 
swung himself over. Their assailants attempted to 
follow. Leman and his companion were drawn up 
through the windows of a neighbouring dwelling. But 
by this time Belgian officers and gendarmes, dashing 



62 THE STAND OF LifeGE 

out to the General's help, had engaged the Germans 
in a desperate scuffle. An officer and two gendarmes 
were killed. But all the raiders were finally accounted 
for.i 

While these stirring events were taking place in the 
city, desperate attempts were being made by the Germans 
to cross the Meuse near Vise. The guns of Pontisse and 
Barchon covered the river-banks for some distance. 
Belgian cavalry and artillery were guarding the west 
bank between the forts and the Dutch frontier. The 
enemy's pontoon bridges were destroyed as soon as built. 
A favourite method of the Belgians was to wait until 
the structure was almost completed before wrecking it. 
This had been tried very successfully the day before at 
the ford of Lixhe. In some cases, indeed, the ordinary 
bridges had been left standing, and were carefully 
covered by concealed artillery and infantry. German 
columns were allowed to defile on to their structures. 
Shot and shell were then suddenly rained down. The 
bridge columns gave w^ay. Horses and men were pre- 
cipitated into the water, and the dead became massed 
between the parapets. The Germans, however, did not 
l^ress their attack on the banks of the Meuse in sufficient 
strength or with sufficient skill. Some parties were, 
indeed, driven by the Belgians over the Dutch frontier. 
All attempts to cross the river were frustrated. 

During the day the attack upon the forts w^as pressed 
stubbornl}^ Belgian outposts and cavalry patrols kept 
continual watch in the w^ooded ground in front of the 
defences to give warning whenever the enemy ap- 
proached. At some points Uhlans made determined 
efforts to penetrate the line. Fierce encounters ensued 

^ Several versions are given of the attack upon Leman's life : aa 
far as can be judged, the above account is substantially trustworthy. 



THE STAND OF LlJlGE 63 

between hostile cavalry. Near Fleron a squadron of 
Belgian lancers, about 150 strong, fell upon 500 of the 
enemy. The trampling of the horses, the jingling of 
the accoutrements, the cries of men and beasts, the 
flashing lances, the waving pennants, made up a sight 
and sound not the least splendid, though becoming rare 
under modern conditions, in warfare. The Belgians, 
despite the odds, scattered the hostile squadrons with 
great slaughter. But they themselves lost their captain, 
and were cut up very severely. 

Night approached. The Belgians were weary. They 
had been fighting intermittently for many hours. Little 
relief from trench work was possible. The numerical 
superiority of the Germans enabled them constantly to 
renew their firing line. A bright moon came out. The 
searchlights were brought into play. For twenty-four 
hours fierce fighting had been in progress. But the 
position was substantially the same. 

The night passed without serious event. Every few 
minutes, indeed, the crash of a heavy gun and its 
responding roll disturbed the silence. At some points 
night attacks were delivered, but successfully repelled. 
Towards dawn, rain began to fall. August 6 opened, 
dreary and windy. The soldiers were soaked to the 
skin, and fatigued by long duty. At about seven o'clock 
two aeroplanes, clearly visible against the low clouds, 
were observed above the Belgian lines. Fire was opened 
upon them both by the Germans and by the forts. The 
machines rocked dangerously in eddies caused by ex- 
ploding shells. They were, however, piloted by Belgians, 
and flew off safely westwards into the country. During 
the day, as previously, the Belgian lines were con- 
stantly bombarded and assailed. The gloomy weather 
seemed to make the cannonade more sullen. The towns- 



64 THE STAND OF LifeGE 

men of Liege, listening anxiously from their cellars, could 
hear, between short intervals of silence, the boom of 
guns, the rattle of rifle-shots, sometimes singly, often 
in a burst. The Liegeois were rapidly accustoming 
themselves to their novel conditions. Whenever a 
shell screamed towards the city a warning bell signalled 
danger, and prompted a rush to cellars. Every now 
and then, however, a shell would fall amid the houses 
and explode. The screams of the injured, the shrill 
cries of alarmed women and children, the shattered and 
sometimes burning dwellings, were remembered with 
horror by the survivors of the siege. Fabrications as 
to forthcoming relief continued to be circulated and 
believed. A British force was said to have been seen 
at Ans, only a mile away, and would shortly arrive by 
rail. The credulous who hastened to the railway station 
returned after a long wait disappointed and disheartened. 
Temporary panics were caused by two parties of Uhlans 
who had, by design, penetrated to the suburbs in quest 
of General Leman. It could be guessed, from the recep- 
tion they received, that they had been expected. Not 
a man escaped. One detachment was all shot down, 
arid the other all captured. But, in general, the city 
grew calmer. Old men began to recall the days when 
they had heard afar the cannonade of Sedan. An 
examination for the university degree, arranged for this 
day, was proceeded with. When German prisoners were 
brought through the streets, even ladies ventured to 
examine curiously, but without emotion, the conquered 
enemy. It is said that Lieutenant von Forstner, of 
Zabern notoriety, was one of the first to be taken. 
Intense enthusiasm and hope were everywhere manifested 
at the valiant conduct of the troops in the trenches. 
There was much uncertainty as to what had happened. 



THE STAND OF LlJlGE 65 

But it was known that B3lgmm had reason to be proud 
of her soldiers. Every one was anxious to be doing 
something to help. Large numbers of young men were 
enrolled in the Army and hastily taken off to Antwerp 
for a six-weeks' training. Many older citizens joined 
the Garde Civique, and were employed in preserving 
order, in guarding prisoners, and points of military 
importance. Some of the Garde, however, took part in 
the actual fighting. During the day a detachment was 
assailed near Boncelles. The encounter that followed 
ended in the total discomfiture of the Germans. The 
enemy had, indeed, lost much of the buoyant enthusiasm 
in which they had opened the campaign . Their casualties 
had been terribly severe : some battalions had only 
a third of their officers left. Many of the wounded were 
dying in the open fields for lack of attention. Great 
relief, therefore, was felt when it became known that 
their commander had asked for an armistice. 

Von Emmich had, meanwhile, been reinforced by the 
9th Army Corps. They came up on the morning of 
August 6, and were badly needed. Von Emmich himself 
could not but be bitterly mortified at his unexpected 
check before Liege. Not only were his own plans upset, 
but the calculations of his Emperor and of the Army 
Staff at Berlin were in danger. He had hoped to earn 
the praises of his country. But what could he expect 
now but her reproaches ? Repeated failure, disappointed 
anticipation, immense losses, had demoralized his men. 
Delay had disorganized his commissariat. He had 
counted on feeding upon the produce of Belgium. But 
the way to that source was blocked. The territory he 
had already occupied, even if the Belgians had not 
driven off most of the cattle, was too small to support 
his army. The vast supplies of bread that all the bakers 

13 E 



66 THE STAND OF LTi:GE 

of Verviers were turning out, under military direction, 
were inadequate. Prisoners taken by the Belgians com- 
plained of ravenous hunger and thirst. It was told how, 
on the morning before, August 5, the men were vastly 
chagrined only to receive, when looking forward to 
ample rations of drink and food, a small piece of sausage. 
Von Emmich had asked for an armistice of twenty-four 
hours in which to bury the dead. That period would 
enable him to reorganize his forces. Strong reinforce- 
ments also were on the way. He had already another 
army corps, 40,000 strong, at his disposal. A great 
effort to cross the Meuse must immediately be made. 
Undoubtedly the clue to victory lay there. The city 
must be enveloped. The Belgians, though they had 
resisted so well the attack from the front, could hardly 
be expected to cope with a simultaneous attack from 
the rear. Von Emmich, despite his mortification, could 
not, indeed, resist admiration at the valour of the 
defence. He was, moreover, acquainted with General 
Leman, whom he had met on manoeuvres the previous 
year. He could have wished that his unfortunate Uhlans 
had efEected the Belgian leader's capture. Leman's 
answer to his request was brought to him. The armistice 
was refused. 

Stirring events had, meanwhile, been taking place, 
during the morning and afternoon of Thursday, August 6, 
in the firing line. About half past eleven the enemy, 
under cover of artillery, crept up towards Barchon. The 
Belgians reserved their fire. The Germans, when within 
close range, drew together for the final onset. At a con- 
certed signal the Belgians loosed upon them a hail of 
shrapnel and of bullets. The enemy were swept back 
with terrible slaughter, and abandoned seven machine- 
guns. At another point, where the defenders were 



THE STAND OF LI^GE 67 

holding the stately Chateau de Langres against great 
odds, the Belgian commander tried a ruse. Quantities 
of explosives were carried within : a fuse was prepared. 
The Belgians made a show of resistance before quietly 
evacuating the building. A large body of Germans 
rushed in triumphantly, and commenced to ransack the 
rooms. The Belgians, waiting with nerves on edge at 
a safe distance, were suddenly stunned by the crash of 
a deafening explosion. A great column of flame shot 
up, carrying in its wake masses of shattered masonry 
and timber. An incident of a similar nature occurred 
to the north of the city. Under Leman's directions 
a field outside the Belgian lines had been skilfully mined. 
The General sent out a small detachment to take up 
a position just beyond this field. The Germans, as he 
had calculated, got in the rear of this force in order to 
cut it off. Electric wire connected the explosives to 
the defenders' lines. The current was switched on. 
A sheet of flame and smoke arose. The German force 
was annihilated. Trivial as they were, these successes 
contributed to raise the spirit of the Belgians. But 
more important operations were in progress on the banks 
of the Meuse north of Liege. At the end of the day it 
became evident that the Belgians could maintain their 
ground no longer. 

Fighting had, indeed, opened propitiously in this 
quarter. A counter-attack, delivered by the Belgians 
from the heights near Wandre upon German outposts, 
had been attended with brilliant success. Many of the 
enemy had been cut off from their main body and forced 
to retire in disorder towards Vise. But around that 
town operations were in progress which augured ill for 
the Belgians. Great reinforcements of artillery and 
infantry had been hurried by the German General to 

E3 



68 THE STAND OF LlfeGE 

the river-banks. A crossing must be forced at all 
hazards. Batteries were placed so as to cover the 
engineering work. Large parties of Germans, working 
in little boats, were engaged in building pontoon bridges 
at different points. The fire from Pontisse and Barchon 
greatly hampered the operations . But the Belgian troops 
on the opposite bank were prevented by the German 
artillery from impeding effectually the enemy's crossing. 
The river- valley was low and flat, and afforded little 
cover. Large numbers were gradually passed over during 
the day. Horses were swum across. Cavalry took the 
field. Numerous bodies overran the surrounding district. 
One force was cut off and completely routed by Belgians, 
who took many prisoners. But by five o'clock in the 
gloomy and sultry afternoon the Germans had begun 
to spread out, and to advance southwards in the direc- 
tion of Liege. 

Leman, who had watched the movements he was 
powerless to prevent Avith dismay and sorrow, realized 
that all was over. He had to accept the inevitable. He 
had foreseen that, sooner or later, the Germans would 
make use of their superior numbers by enveloping the 
city. He had made plans in accordance. Delay would 
mean disaster to his field troops. He reluctantly 
gave orders for a general retirement. This was no 
easy operation. Large forces were ordered to continue 
throughout the evening to harass the advance of the 
Germans who had crossed the Meuse. Some German 
infantry who had reached Vottem, a village within the 
circle of forts, were surprised by the Belgians and 
hoisted the white flag. When the Belgians approached 
they were fired upon at close range. Numerous instances 
of treachery and inhumanity have been recorded, indeed, 
in the lighting at Liege. Germans in many cases fired 



THE STAND OF Lli:GE 69 

on doctors, on Red Cross ambulances and wagons, or 
marched into battle displaying Belgian flags and wearing 
Belgian cockades. The Liegeois watched with mingled 
emotions the retreat of their defenders westwards through 
the city. It was disappointing that the courageous 
resistance of the last two days should seem all to have 
been for nothing. The horses of the artillery trairs and 
the cavalry squadrons were jaded and blood-stained. 
The infantry were tired out and footsore, but deter- 
mined, since duty called them elsewhere, to escape 
capture by the Germans. During the evening and night 
the field troops were all withdraAvn from the city, and 
marched off towards Lou vain. A garrison of 250 men 
was left in each of the forts, all of which so far were 
in good condition. Leman decided to remain at his 
post. He could have retired with his army. He 
would, no doubt, have been received at Brussels with 
honour and enthusiasm. He might add to military 
renown already won in future operations. But better 
results, if less personally attractive, might be gained if 
he stayed to co-ordinate the defence of the forts, and 
to exercise moral influence upon the garrisons. From 
Loncin, which he took as his head-quarters, the long 
columns of the departing troops could be seen passing 
into the darkness. The retreat had been conducted 
without serious hitch. Some stragglers had, no doubt, 
been cut off. Minor street fighting, in which civilians 
had unfortunately taken a share, had occurred in parts 
where German cavalry had pressed forward. But 
the main Belgian army was in safety, and the enemy 
did not yet appear to be advancing. The twelve forts, 
calling to one another throughout the night in the 
rumble of their big guns, prepared doggedly to fight 
until the inevitable end. 



70 THE STAND OF LifeGE 

The Germans, apparently, did not realize their success 
till some hours after the Belgians had evacuated the 
position. Perhaps the east frontal attack was not 
pressed home by the besiegers in the hope of restoring 
confidence to the besieged while the enveloping attack 
was progressing across the Meuse. The enemy could 
hardly anticipate, indeed, so sudden a retirement. But 
during the night and early morning large forces passed 
between the forts and entered the city. The Liegeois, 
rising from their slumbers, found the invaders within 
their gates, and guarding the principal points of advan- 
tage. One of the bridges, indeed, had been blown up 
the night before by the retreating Belgians. The rail- 
way tunnel had also been blocked. Kleyer, the burgo- 
master, had prepared the citizens for their fate the 
previous evening by a printed circular, outlining the 
laws of war with regard to the participation of civilians, 
and cautioning peaceful submission. Little panic was 
evinced. The German military authorities installed 
themselves in the Citadel and in the public buildings, 
and took over the administration of the city. Martial 
law was proclaimed. The Garde Civique were employed 
to keep order among their fellow countrymen. One 
hundred of the Garde, and later Kleyer, Bishop Rutten, 
and some principal citizens, were confined in the Citadel 
as hostages. The walls of the city were placarded 
with posters announcing that, if another shot was fired 
by the inhabitants upon the German troops, these 
hostages would be immediately executed. All weapons 
were ordered to be given up on penalty of death. So 
suspicious of a rising were the invaders that barricades 
were erected, machine-guns placed, and guards posted 
in many of the principal streets. Long columns began, 
during August 7, and continued for many days after- 



THE STAND OF Lli]GE 71 

wards, to file in endless procession through the town. 
They passed into the interior upon a mission more 
important and more arduous than the capture of Liege, 
which had been won only at great cost. Germany 
affected to see in the seizure of the city a brilliant 
military exploit and a propitious opening to the cam- 
paign. Boundless enthusiasm was everjrwhere mani- 
fested. At Hanover Frau von Emmich read the news 
aloud to the exulting populace. It was announced in 
Berlin by an aide-de-camp sent out by the Kaiser to 
the crowds before the castle ; and policemen on bicycles 
were dispatched to shout the joyful tidings along the 
Unter den Linden. 

General Leman, meanwhile, had taken up his quarters 
in I'ort Loncin. His army had got away safely and 
intact. Its adroit retreat had reserved it for future 
usefulness. He could turn to the next phase of the 
resistance conscious that his men and he had already 
rendered valuable service to their country and to their 
country's friends. The enemy's occupation of the city 
and advance over the Meuse had been delayed for over 
forty-eight hours. Even now a passage had been forced, 
the unbroken chain of forts could hinder the Germans 
from advancing except slowly and with difficulty. The 
days thus gained were of incalculable value for the com- 
pletion of Belgium's mobilization, and to the allies who 
were coming to Belgium's aid. Leman saw in success 
already accomplished the inspiration of deeds that could 
yet be done. He must urge upon his fort commanders that 
they must struggle to the very last. They must harass 
the enemy's movements in every possible way. Pontoon 
bridges over the Meuse must be constantly destroyed 
by shell -fire. The forts had, indeed, an abundant supply 
of provisions, of water, and of ammunition. Little 



72 THE STAND OF LifeGE 

material damage had so far been done to their structures. 
Leman would himself visit each fort daily, to bring news 
and instructions. The outer world was not entirely cut 
off. Under the protection of the guns of Loncin, light 
railway engines could still be run from the junction of 
Ans along the Brussels line. There seemed, indeed, little 
hope of relief. But the forts had so far proved able to 
resist the heaviest guns that the enemy had brought up. 
Belgium had spent much money, and had employed the 
greatest military engineer of the nineteenth century, 
upon their construction. They might be overcome by 
sheer weight. But they must not fall, other than as 
ruins, into the hands of the Germans. 

Morning broke. The artillery remained silent. The 
Belgians in the forts could not doubt, from various 
signs, that the Germans were in the city. It remained 
to await vigilantl}^ the enemy's next move. The day 
wore on, but without event. An occasional rifle-shot was 
the only sound of war. It was difficult to know what 
the enemy were doing. The combatants, indeed, needed 
rest badly. No doubt the Germans, like the Belgians, 
were resting. Night came. But silence still reigned. 

This comparative calm lasted about three days. 
During that time the shots fired on either side were 
very few and intermittent. The Germans kept outside 
the range of the fort guns. Small parties approached 
indeed, unmolested, to pick up their wounded. Grue 
some stories are told of the cremation of their dead 
Many corpses are said to have been pitched, under 
cover of darkness, into the Meuse. The total casual 
ties were estimated at about 30,000. Aeroplanes 
were bus}^ in the sky. Large forces of the enemy's 
cavalry seemed also to be scouring the country beyond 
the western forts. But this state of affairs could not 



THE STAND OF LifeGE 73 

last long. The Ger?iians had succeeded in occupying 
Liege, but they had so far gained little advantage from 
that success. Great armies would soon be hastening 
from all parts of Germany towards the Belgian frontier. 
But before they could advance across that frontier in 
any numbers or with any speed, the forts of Liege must 
be reduced. Pontisse and Barchon threatened the pas- 
sage of the Meuse to the north of the city, Flemalle and 
Boncelles to the south. Embourg dominated the Ourthe 
valley for some miles. Fleron and Chaudfontaine over- 
looked the railway approach from Germany. Loncin 
guarded the line from Liege to Brussels. It became 
obvious to the Belgians that a great effort would soon 
be made by the Germans to break up the obstacles that 
impeded their progress. Guns were placed upon the 
Citadel, and in other parts of the city. On Monday, 
August 10, the great artillery duel was renewed. 

The first phase of the defence of Liege began on the 
evening of August 4, and ended on the evening of August 
6. During an interval of three days no fighting took 
place. The final phase lasted from the 10th to the 18th. 
Throughout this latter period, over a week, the forts 
were incessantly bombarded and frequently stormed. 
In one desperate attack upon Flemalle, delivered early 
in the morning of August 10, no less than 800 of the 
enemy were killed, many of them caught in barbed- 
wire entanglements. On some days rain fell ; on 
others the sun shone. But the guns roared almost 
without pause. To make any impression upon those 
masses of earth, of stone, and of iron, the targets for 
innumerable shells, seemed at first impossible. The fort 
cupolas, revolving in wreaths of smoke, uttered thunder 
and darted lightning on all sides. Many outlying 
houses and farms were set ablaze by the Belgian guns. 



74 THE STAND OF LI^GE 

Little clouds of smoke sprang constantly from the 
green hill-sides opposite, and denoted the position 
of the German artillery. The forts were soon com- 
pletely invested. Leman visited each daily as long 
as possible. On one of his journeys he was injured in 
the leg by falling masonry. Undeterred, he took to 
using a motor-car. When the forts were each surrounded, 
however, he was confined to Loncin, where he prepared 
for a final stand. 

One by one, as the days passed, the forts fell. The 
first and most persistent attacks were made on Fleron, 
Flemalle, Embourg, and Chaudfontaine. The guns of 
Enibourg were, indeed, notably well served. Three 
motor-cars, driven by German officers along the Tilff 
road, were smashed by shells, one being hurled below 
into the Ourthe. Chaudfontaine also showed consider- 
able accuracy. A detachment of the enemy, screening 
themselves behind a forage cart, was ascending a slope 
leading to Ninave, where German guns had been placed, 
when several shells, bursting in the cart, killed the 
whole party. Chaudfontaine, however, was soon after 
blown up. The Germans, after assailing the eastern 
forts, concentrated their fire upon the western, notably 
on Pontisse, Liers, and Lantin. Day succeeded day 
without the gain of any substantial success. The 
Germans realized that their artillery was inadequate. 
Unless the Belgian guns could be outranged and out- 
classed, there would be no end to this disheartening 
struggle. The forts were probably provisioned for 
months. It was, no doubt, with considerable impatience 
that the arrival of siege artillery was awaited. 

Meanwhile, during the bombardment of the forts, 
a bombardment of the city itself was twice opened. 
This seemed, indeed, to afford some ground for a rumour 



THE STAND OF LifeGE 75 

spread abroad that the Germans had threatened, if the 
forts were not surrendered, to shell the town. Few 
cases of civilian outbreaks seem to have taken place. 
The damage and the casualties, however, were not 
in either case severe. The inhabitants were prepared 
beforehand, and the troops in the city taken out of 
the danger zone. The Cathedral of St. Paul and the 
University building were partly demolished. Some 
of the streets were torn up and littered with wreckage. 
Otherwise than by these two outbreaks, the Germans 
appeared anxious to win the favour and to restore the 
confidence of the citizens. Few of the latter, indeed, 
would venture into the streets. It is said that, in 
a vain attempt to revive business, German soldiers 
were ordered by their officers to throng the food-stalls 
and the shops, while the Belgian authorities were forced 
to run the trams, which had ceased working, though 
no passengers appeared. The daily goose-step parade, 
however, attracted many spectators. The Liegeois 
gradually grew accustomed to the sight of German 
soldiers in their streets and cafes, drinking and playing 
cards, and to the sound of the guns, many placed in 
parts of the city itself, steadily bombarding the forts. 
As is usual in a city in a state of siege, the inhabitants 
looked upon themselves as the sole interest of the 
world. No news were forthcoming of the course of war 
outside. It was known that large forces of the enemy 
had passed through the city and into Belgium. Wild 
rumours were rife. Reports such as ' Berlin on fire ', 
' Great German disaster ', picked up by railwaymen 
at Ans, were gloated over. More truthful accounts, 
however, soon got abroad regarding the behaviour of 
German troops in neighbouring villages, culminating 
in the burning of Vise. 



76 THE STAND OF LifeGE 

It is recorded that, in the Franco -Prussian campaigns 
of 1870, an Alsatian named Hauff killed two Germans 
who were plundering his farm. He was seized and 
shot immediately. His wife found her little son crying 
over his father's body. ' Mamma,' said the boy, 
* when I grow up I will shoot the Germans who killed 
Daddy.' The widow fled from the place and settled 
near Vise. Her son in due course grew to manhood, 
became a farmer, and married. He had two sons. 
One day he learned that the Germans were invading 
the country, to intimidate the Belgians. At length 
a party of Germans arrived outside his farm. Hatred 
blazed in Hauff's eyes as he took his rifle in his hand. 
There was a sharp report, and a German fell. The 
farmer was dragged outside, and placed against a wall. 
His last moments were spent in the bitterest anguish. 
His two sons were seized and placed beside him. All 
three were immediately executed. This occurrence was 
but a beginning. Several shots were fired at Vise 
on the evening of August 15. It is alleged that 
these were fired by drunken Germans at their own 
ofiicers. The destruction of the town was begun during 
the night. It was almost entirely burnt. From all 
over the district, indeed, came tales of wanton and 
indiscriminate retribution wherever the laws of war were 
said to have been transgressed, perhaps unwittingly, 
by civilians. A splendid harvest had been expected. 
Many fields of wheat, already cut and placed in 
' stooks ', lay rotting for want of attention. Days 
afterwards observers were shocked at the desolate 
aspect of the countryside. In the village of Herve, 
famous throughout Belgium for its flavoury cheeses, 
19 houses remained out of about 500. Corpses were 
strewn e very v* here ; a smell of burning pervaded the 



THE STAND OF Lli:GE 77 

atmosphere. The drastic nature of the reprisals could 
be estimated from notices such as ' Spare us ! ' ' We 
are innocent ! ' displayed upon houses still standing. 
The high roads around Liege were torn up at intervals 
of about forty yards. In rare cases, sights such as 
children playing innocently in pretty gardens, where 
houses had escaped demolition, recalled, amid the 
prevailing havoc, the happy days of peace. There 
was much to remind one of war. Long German columns 
Continually passed through the district. Soon the 
heavier artillery began to arrive. One class of gun in 
particular might well arrest the attention of spectators. 
It was in four pieces, each drawn by three traction- 
engines. A thirteenth engine went on ahead to aid 
the ascent of hills. This gun was the new 16-inch 
siege howitzer. It had been constructed in secret, and 
was the largest piece in existence. A single shot was 
said to suffice to pierce the strongest steel armour. 
These guns were intended to batter Paris. Meanwhile, 
they were to be tested upon Liege. 

The forts were still holding out stubbornly. A force 
of 30,000 of the enemy had been left for their reduction. 
They were shelled day and night. They were, indeed, 
proving a dangerous thorn in the enemy's side. They 
disconnected his lines of communication. They retarded 
the passage of troops and transport wagons. Pontoon 
bridges especially were objects of the attention of 
the fort artillery. One Belgian gun was said to 
have destroyed no less than ten. But on August 13 
and 14 the German heavy artillery began to arrive. 
It was brought into action. Fort Boncelles was one 
of the first to receive the fire. Bombardment was 
opened at six o'clock on August 14, and continued 
for two hours. The guns were so placed that the garrison 



78 THE STAND OF LifeGE 

could neither see nor fire at them. At eight o'clock 
two German officers approached, and called upon tho 
fort to surrender. Guns still more colossal than those 
already used, they said, would render its destruction 
instantaneous. The Belgian commander replied that 
honour forbade surrender. His men burst into a cheer. 
The Germans returned, and the bombardment was 
continued. The fort began to feel the effects. The 
chimney of the engine-house fell in ; part of the works 
caught fire ; the electric light went out ; suffocating 
fumes filled the galleries. Resistance was maintained 
throughout the day and night. But at six o'clock 
next morning the concrete chambers which held the 
guns began to give way. Several of the cupolas turned 
no more. Two hours later a shell pierced the roof and 
burst inside the fort. Several men were wounded. 
Further resistance seemed useless, and it was decided 
to surrender. Three white flags were hoisted. While 
the Germans were approaching the Belgians disabled 
their guns and rifles and destroyed their ammunition. 
The enemy took possession of the fort. The prisoners, 
looking back as they were marched off, could see nothing 
but a heap of ruins. 

Similar destruction gradually overtook the remain- 
ing forts. Their fabrics crumbled under the constant 
impact of heavy shells. Their garrisons, forced to 
retire into the small chambers within the central 
concrete blocks, had to inhale oxygen to keep them- 
selves alive. Many were, indeed, at last asphyxi- ted. 
Storming parties could no longer be resisted by machine- 
guns. The strongest of the forts, Loncin, the quarters 
of General Leman, succumbed in turn. It was shelled 
by the heavier German guns at a distance of seven 
miles. The batteries upon the Citadel of Liege were 



THE STAND OF LlJlGE 79 

also turned upon it. It is asserted that, during twenty- 
six hours of bombardment, shells were rained upon the 
works at the rate of six a minute. The incessant con- 
cussions and explosions at last shattered the structure 
to ruins. Leman saw that the end was inevitable. 
He destroyed all his plans, maps, and papers. The 
three remaining guns were disabled, and the ammunition 
kept beside them exploded. He had about one hundred 
men left. These he led out of Loncin in a daring effort 
to reach another fort. But they were seen by the 
enemy, and had to abandon the attempt. A German 
storming party rushed forward to a final assault. But 
suddenly a shell tore through the battered masonry, 
and exploded in the main magazine. The fort blew up. 
There was a terrific crash. Huge masses of concrete 
were hurled high into the air. An immense cloud of dust 
and fumes arose. When it had cleared away the Germans 
advanced. The ground was strewn with the bodies of 
their storming party. A Belgian corporal with a shattered 
arm raised his rifle and started to fire at them as they 
approached. Most of the garrison were buried under 
the ruins. Leman lay, white and still, pinned beneath 
a massive beam. He was drawn from his dangerous 
position, half suffocated by fumes, by some of his 
men. * Respectez le general. II est mort,' cried 
a soldier as the Germans came up. He was borne 
gently away to a trench, where a German officer gave 
him drink. He came to his senses and looked round. 
* The men fought valiantly,' he said. ' Put it in your 
dispatches that I was unconscious.' He was placed 
in an ambulance, and carried into Liege. Shortly after- 
wards, when sufficiently recovered, he was brought 
before Von Emmich. The two commanders saluted. 
' General,' said the German, holding out his hand, 



80 THE STAND OF LifeGE 

* you have gallantly and nobly held your forts.' 
*I thank you,' Leman replied: 'our troops have lived 
up to their reputation. War is not like manoeuvres/ 
he added, with a smile. He unbuckled his sword, and 
tendered it to the victor. Von Emmich bowed. ' No,* 
he said, ' keep it. To have crossed swords with you 
has been an honour.' A tear sparkled in the Belgian's 
eye.i 

Nothing more remains to be told. The forts were 
not built to resist the pounding of artillery as heavy 
as that brought against them. They had been con- 
structed when the tjrpical siege gun was the 6-inch 
howitzer. They had to contend with artillery the 
calibres of which ranged as high as 16 inches. Each 
was reduced in turn. The last fell on August 17 or 18. 

Thus ended the memorable stand of Liege. The 
struggle was watched with the intensest interest and 
emotion by the whole of the civilized world. British 
statesmen paid tributes to the gallant city. France 
conferred upon it the Cross of the Legion of Honour. 
The Tsar of Russia expressed his admiration in a message 
to the Belgian King. Events which followed proved 
the importance of the time lost to the Germans before 
Liege. British troops were enabled, reaching Mons not 
an hour too soon, to oppose a second bulwark to the 
advancing tide. The strategic value of the defence 
was hardly greater than its moral effect. The spell of 
1870 was broken. German arms were looked upon as 
invincible no more. The story is full of human interest 
and dramatic incident. The struggle brought out 
many noble sentiments. It stirred many brutal passions. 

^ This incident is taken from the narrative of a German officer, 
published in the press. There is no reason to bolieve it is nr>t 
substantially accurate. 



THE STAND OF LifeGE 81 

It indicated, as the opening chapter in the greatest 
and most modern of wars, some tendencies of the 
impending conflict. Science was to be the weapon. 
Method of mind, weight of metal, ingenuity of destruc- 
tive device, were to decide the issue. Most of the 
ancient glamour of battle was gone. But war, maturing 
as mankind matured, still showed, as human nature 
showed, both flashes of its youthful chivalry, and 
traces of its primitive barbarity. Human passions and 
emotions, human ambitions and ideals, were again at 
open strife. Lasting peace was the ultimate quest. 
Christian principle was the issue. 



18 




ffSHatcuL. 



Ox/'or^a. 



^^ 



THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 

Tokyo, capital of Japan, lies at the head of Tokyo 
Bay, in the south-east of Nippon. Its two million 
inhabitants are distributed among houses and streets 
which present curious intermixtures of Japanese and 
European architecture, customs, or science. The jinri- 
kisha notably has been displaced largely by tramcars 
which, carrying all passengers at a uniform rate of 
four sen, make it possible to travel ten miles for a penny. 
It is an industrial city, but on account of occasional 
earthquakes no very large buildings line the thorough- 
fares. The traveller can here observe to advantage the 
strange characteristics of the most stoical race upon 
earth, or can contrast, if he will, the courteous, imper- 
turbably serene disposition of the most martial nation 
of the East with the present disposition of the most 
rabidly bellicose nation of the West. When Japanese 
and German, indeed, met in conflict before Tsing-tao 
in the autumn of 1914, there was seen, in the Japanese 
soldier, during a campaign of peculiar hardship and 
difficulty, a revival of the qualities of the old Samurai, 
with his quiet courage, his burning patriotism, his 
patience, his habitual suppression of emotional display 
in pain, pleasure, passion, or peril, qualities singularly 
distinct from those of the modern Goth. Nor was the 
statesmanship which brought about that conflict less 
admirable. Japan's alliance with Great Britain was at 
once a solemn pledge and the guiding principle of her 
foreign policy. August 1914 found British interests 
and the vast trade that centred at Hong-kong in danger : 

f2 



84 THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 

German armed vessels prowled the seas, and the German 
naval base of Tsing-tao was busy with warlike prepara- 
tions. Great Britain appealed to Japan to free their 
joint commerce from the menace. The Japanese Prime 
Minister, Count Okuma, might well hesitate, however, 
before recommending intervention. Was he the right 
minister to direct a war ? He was nearer eighty than 
seventy years old, and recently had been for seven years 
in retirement : his Government had a minority in the 
Diet, and to the Genro his name was anathema : he 
claimed the allegiance of no party, and the powerful 
military and naval clans, Choshiu and Satsuma, were 
openly hostile. He had been raised to power a few 
months before by public demand for progressive govern- 
ment. There were considerations other than domestic 
or personal, indeed, which might have tempted some 
statesmen to hold their hands. To temporize while 
events revealed themselves in Europe would be safer 
than immediate action ; while to remain neutral might 
lead to the transference to the Japanese of much trade 
with China now in British hands, inevitably hampered 
by the menace of German commerce -destroyers. Never- 
theless, Count Okuma's Cabinet came to a bold and 
loyal decision. Baron Kato, the Foreign Minister, 
reassured Great Britain of active Japanese aid, and on 
August 15 sent an ultimatum to Germany. The latter 
was requested to withdraw at once all German armed 
vessels from Eastern waters, and to deliver to Japan 
before September 15 the entire leased territory of Kiao- 
chau, with a view to its eventual restoration to China. 
The ultimatum was timed to expire at noon on August 23. 
That day arrived without satisfaction having been given 
to Japan. Within a few hours the 2nd Japanese squadron 
steamed off towards Tsing-tao. 



THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 85 

Before the outbreak of hostilities with Great Britain, 
Vice -Admiral the Graf von Spee, who commanded the 
German Pacific squadron, had steamed away from Tsing- 
tao with most of. his ships. To use Tsing-tao as a naval 
base while engaging in commerce -raiding seemed a sound 
and a practicable plan, since the British and Australian 
naval forces, though superior, were hardly strong enough 
simultaneously to blockade the harbour and to search 
the seas. The plan was, however, rendered impossible 
by the Japanese ultimatum, and the Admiral, after 
having lingered for some weeks in the Western Pacific, 
departed for other seas and other adventures. Such was 
the result of Japan's action, and thus dangerous were 
the tactics that Japan's action had frustrated. For 
Tsing-tao, situated upon one of the two peninsulas, 
divided by two miles of waterway, enclosing the bay of 
Kiao-chau, with its safe and spacious anchorage for vessels 
of any size, constituted one of the most important naval 
bases on the Chinese coast. It had, indeed, been 
described as the key to Northern China. Dominating 
the eastern coast of the Shantung peninsula, the port 
formed the centre of the semicircular area known as 
Kiao-chau, extending on a radius of 32 miles around 
the shores of the bay, with a population of 60,000. 
This area was, under the Chinese-German agreement as 
to Tsing-tao, influenced and controlled by Germany, 
though not strictly subject to her, and regarded as 
neutral territory. Its surface was mainly mountainous 
and bare, though the lowlands were well cultivated, 
but in parts it was rich in mineral wealth, large but 
undeveloped supplies of coal being present. In winter 
the port, connected to the junction of Tsi-nan by 
a German -built railway, was the natural outlet for the 
trade of Northern China. The heights which surrounded 



86 THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 

the bay ofiered admirable sites for fortification, while 
the land-approaches to Tsing-tao were guarded by for- 
midable defences stretched across its peninsula. In 
many quarters the stronghold was regarded as a second 
Port Arthur. The Germans had paid particular atten- 
tion to defence, so much so, indeed, that over five-sixths 
of the white inhabitants were engaged in military occu- 
pations. Five thousand German marines constituted 
the normal garrison, though the outbreak of war in 
August called about a thousand more men — volunteers, 
reservists, and sailors — to the colours. The complement 
of the Kaiser in Elizabeth, an Austrian cruiser sheltering 
in the harbour, left for Tientsin, having received orders 
to disarm their ship, but returned in time to join the 
defenders. The garrison was amply provisioned for five 
or six months, and well provided with weapons, stores, 
and munitions. Most of the German ships off the Chinese 
coast at the outbreak of Avar, indeed, had made imme- 
diately for Tsing-tao, and discharged upon its wharves 
many thousand tons of cargo. When war with Japan 
became inevitable, therefore, the defenders could antici- 
pate a successful resistance, provided the expected in- 
stantaneous victories in Europe materialized. Elaborate 
preparations were made for the defence. The harbour 
mouth was blocked by three sunken vessels, enabling only 
small craft to enter. Chinese villages within the leased 
territory, and the bridge where the railway crossed the 
boundary, were destroyed, partial compensation being 
paid to the inhabitants. Native labourers were engaged 
to throw up earthworks to strengthen the town forti- 
fications. Many foreigners, women, children, and non- 
combatants, meanwhile, had left the town. On Friday 
evening, August 21, at roll-call, the Governor, Caj^tain 
Meyer-Waldeck, read out a message from the German 



THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 87 

Emperor exhorting the garrison to defend the town to 
their utmost, and to do their ' duty to the last '. It 
was listened to stoically. The following day a diversion 
occurred which opened hostilities propitiously for the 
Germans. The British destroyer Kennet, encountering 
the German destroyer S. 90 off the coast, gave chase. 
The S. 90 immediately made for port, and the Kennet, 
in the ardour of pursuit, closed in unawares within 
range of the German land batteries. The latter opened 
fire, and before she could draw off the Kennet sustained 
ten casualties, though little material damage. Next 
day the term of the Japanese ultimatum expired. It 
was doubtful at what point the Japanese would begin 
operations, or what tactics they would adopt. The fear 
was prevalent among Germans that the enemy would 
enter Chinese territory to reach the town from the land : 
newspapers under German influence, indeed, circulating 
in Chinese coast towns, started a press campaign with 
the object of stirring the Chinese Government to oppose 
by force any Japanese landing in her territory. Out- 
posts were placed by the Germans along the shores of 
the neutral zone to watch for developments : they 
descried, on August 24, the approach of Japanese 
warships. 

Vice-Admiral Sadakichi Kato, who commanded the 
approaching squadron, immediately upon arrival took 
measures to protect himself against danger from mines. 
Seven islets clustering round the mouth of Kiao-chau 
Bay were occupied, to form a convenient local naval 
base, while mine -sweepers swept the surrounding seas. 
No less than a thousand mines were taken from the 
water. A blockade of the whole Kiao-chau coast was 
declared, as commencing from 9 a.m., August 27, and 
war vessels patrolled the shores, some seventy miles 



88 THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 

long. Action soon began, and continued during ensuing 
days, with shells that at intervals screamed towards the 
town. The position was, however, reconnoitred care- 
fully. Japanese airmen went up frequently to scan the 
fortifications and to drop bombs. All protruding struc- 
tures, spires and factory-chimneys, had been levelled 
to the ground by the Germans so as to afford no mark 
for fire. Bombs were dropped on the railway station 
and on one of the numerous barrack buildings. The 
operations continued spasmodically into September, 
while Kato was awaiting the approach by land of a co- 
operating army, which had now disembarked on the 
northern coast of the Shantung peninsula, about 150 
miles due north of Tsing-tao. 

The landing was effected on Sei)tember 2, without 
hindrance or opposition on the part of the Chinese. 
The Government, following the precedent of the Russo- 
Jaj)anese War, immediately published a declaration re- 
fusing to hold itself responsible for the obligations of 
strict neutrality in areas that formed, within Lung-kow, 
Lai-chau, and the neighbourhood of Kiao-chau Bay, 
passage-ways essential to the belligerent troops. It was, 
of course, incumbent upon the Powers involved to 
respect Chinese j)roperty and administrative rights. 
Japan, therefore, was permitted to make use of the 
main roads to transport an army to the rear of Tsing-tao. 
The forces landed composed a division numbering 
23,000, and commanded by Lieutenant -General Mitsuomi 
Kamio. An advance-guard was sent forward without 
delay, but soon found its way rendered impassable by 
torrential floods which at this time swept down upon 
and devastated the province of Shantung, bridges, roads, 
and even villages being submerged and destroyed, with 
great loss of life, largely owing to Chinese official incom- 



THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 89 

petence. The Japanese, after covering 20 kilometres in 
two days, reached a stream so swollen that crossing 
was impossible. The artillery had to return to Lung- 
kow. German diplomacy, meanwhile, exasperated at its 
inability to prevent a Japanese landing, had not been 
inactive. 

The German and Austrian ministers at Peking, on 
hearing of the Japanese landing, protested strongly. 
China, it was claimed, ought to have forestalled and 
resisted the landing, but instead had deliberately 
extended the war-zone in order to facilitate Japanese 
movements. She would be held responsible for any 
injury to the German cause or property. To this China 
replied that, if it was incumbent upon her to prevent 
by force Japan operating in her territory, it was equally 
her duty to prevent by force Germany fortifying and 
defending Tsing-tao. China had endeavoured, indeed, 
but unsuccessfully, to preclude belligerent operations 
in her territory : only after the Japanese landing, when 
she was powerless to do otherwise, had she extended 
the zone of war. As to the responsibility, she reiterated 
her previous declaration. The baffled Germans fell back 
on threats : the right was reserved to visit upon China 
dire consequences for her alleged breach of neutrality. 
The incident, thrown into striking contrast with Ger- 
many's offer to Belgium, marked the unscrupulousness 
of German diplomacy, but stirred also many doubts 
among the foreign communities in China, in which the 
British, allied as they were to the Japanese, formed 
a predominating element. An anomaly of the situation 
was that British local interests had long conflicted with 
Japanese national interests. Japan's activities had, at 
every stage of her recent history, reduced British oppor- 
tunities. Japanese trader competed with British trader 




A^^?^l\ 



90 THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 

for the markets of China, and Japan's share of the 
annual trade expansion was increasing, that of Great 
Britain decreasing. High tariffs and preferential rates 
had closed Corea and Manchuria to British enterprise. 
It is easy to estimate in what commercial jealousy and 
rivalry such circumstances had resulted. While the 
expediency of the British -Japanese alliance was fully 
recognized, and its consequences admitted to be the 
freedom of the China seas from menace of commerce- 
destroyers, nevertheless the fact remained that the 
hostilities against Tsing-tao would constitute a fresh 
impulse to Japanese expansion. The operations in 
Shantung were watched with critical eyes by many 
British in the foreign settlements of China. The floods 
had, meanwhile, subsided considerably, and on Sep- 
tember 12 Japanese cavalry reached Tsimo, ten miles 
outside the Kiao-chau zone. No trace of the enemy 
north of the Pai-sha River had been seen, beyond a 
German aeroplane that occasionally passed overhead 
on reconnoitring flights. On the following day a number 
of sharp skirmishes with outposts occurred, and one 
.Japanese patrol found its way to the small town of 
Kiao-chau, situated at the head of the bay, some 
22 miles from Tsing-tao itself. The brushes with the 
Germans became of daily occurrence, and in one of them 
a high official of the German Legation at Peking, who 
had volunteered for service, was killed. On September 17 
the Japanese attacked Wang-ko-huang, 13 miles from 
Tsimo, the enemy being in a fortified position and pro- 
vided with machine-guns. At sunset, however, they 
abandoned the village and withdrew under cover of 
darkness, leaving behind quantities of equipment and 
supplies. A little later a development came about that 
brought the dissatisfaction of British traders to a head. 



THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 91 

About September 18, after hostile patrols had been 
driven away from the shore by the fire of destroyers, 
Japanese artillery and troops were landed at Laoshan 
Bay, north of Tsing-tao, just within the leased territory. 
Why was it necessary that troops should have been 
landed on the northern shore of the peninsula of Shan- 
tung, 150 miles from their objective, when guns could 
be disembarked with perfect safety on the eastern 
shore, not 40 miles from the objective, and within the 
German zone ? The British were not as critical of 
Japan's strategy as they were suspicious of her policy. 
Dark suggestions got afoot that she had ulterior designs 
upon the whole Chinese province of Shantung. Such 
views could not but have reached the ears of the British 
authorities at Wei-hei-wei and elsewhere, nor could they 
have been deaf to previous murmurs. Diplomatic 
circles, however, could extend little sympathy to the 
critics. Nevertheless, it was undeniable that the latter 
were aggrieved, and that their attitude might produce 
unfortunate effects. If Great Britain herself took some 
share in the Tsing-tao operations, greater sympathy 
with their purpose might be induced, and a better state 
of feeling in the Orient between the two peoples might 
possibly result. It must have been some aim such as 
this that prompted the dispatch of a British force to 
the Tsing-tao area to co-operate with General Kamio, 
a step which the earlier symptoms of the British dis- 
content cannot but have influenced. On September 19, 
however, 1,000 of the 2nd South Wales Borderers, 
a force so small as to be nominal, under Brigadier- 
General Barnardiston, left Tientsin and proceeded to 
Wei-hei-wei. Transport mules having here been taken 
on board, the expedition on September 22 coasted down 
the eastern shore of Shantung, and next day landed at 



92 THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 

Laoshan Bay. A month later, as will be seen, they were 
joined by 500 of the 36th Sikhs. 

Meanwhile, it was probably about this time, or shortly 
after, that the Triumph, a British battleship of nearly 
12,000tons displacement, 19J knots speed, andfour 10-inch 
guns primary armament, joined the Japanese squadron 
off Tsing-tao. A spasmodic bombardment had been 
maintained during the preceding weeks, and seaplanes 
had been busy, bombing and range -finding. The wireless 
station, the electric -power station, and several ships in 
harbour were damaged by explosive missiles. Little 
could be done, however, from the sea alone, and the 
attack by land, owing largely to transport difficulties, 
had still to develop. But the weather was now improv- 
ing considerably. Another set-back to Japanese military 
ardour was, indeed, constituted by the marked reluc- 
tance of the Germans to form a line of resistance. 
German outposts, upon encountering hostile patrols, 
invariably retired after offering faint opposition. 'When 
the British troops, after a circuitous march of 40 miles, 
much hampered by bad roads, came up in the rear of 
the Japanese, then preparing to assault the enemy's 
advanced positions on high ground between the rivers 
Pai-sha and Li-tsun, the part that it had been arranged 
they should take in the Jaj^anese attack, on Septem- 
ber 26, fell through owing to a disinclination of the 
Germans to fight. Their resistance was so meagre that 
the Allies were hardly engaged, and next day gained 
without difficulty the easterly banks of the Li-tsun and 
Chang-tsun rivers, only seven miles north-east of Tsing- 
tao. The enemy at all points fell back, and the advance 
upon the town continued. The Japanese had now 
drawn their lines across the neck of the narrow peninsula 
upon which Tsing-tao stands. There were indications 



THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 93 

that the main forces were now in contact. The only 
obstacle, but a formidable one, between the invaders and 
the forts themselves was constituted by the dominat- 
ing height of Prince Heinrich Hill, from whose crest, 
rising some five miles from the town, all the forts could 
be bombarded. General Kamio estimated that three 
days of fighting would be required for its capture : it 
was as all-important to the defence as to the attack, 
and was sure to be strongly held. The forts themselves, 
of the latest type, were elaborately constructed, and 
equipped with concrete and steel cupolas, mounting 
high calibre pieces. They commanded both landward 
and seaward approaches to the town, those nearest the 
invading Japanese being situated upon, and named, 
Moltke Berg, Bismarck Berg, and litis Berg. Earth 
redoubts and trenches between formed the German 
line of defence. Plans for the most considerable engage- 
ment, the assault of Prince Heinrich Hill, that had so 
far taken place, to begin on Sunday, September 27, 
were made by the Japanese General. It developed more 
speedily than had been expected. German artillery 
opened a terrific cannonade upon the Japanese lines, 
while three warships shelled the attacking right wing 
from the bay. The German fire was heavy and accurate. 
Japanese warships and aeroplanes, and also the British 
battleship Triumph, however, created a diversion that 
relieved the assaulting forces. Two of the forts were 
shelled from the sea, and suffered serious injury, a 
barrack-house and other buildings being, moreover, 
damaged. For many hours the great guns, thundering 
their challenges from sea and land and estuary, main- 
tained continual uproar. Darkness began to gather. 
Fighting continued into the night, and early next 
morning was renewed, But the defenders seemed to 



94 THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 

lack enthusiasm. It is doubtful, indeed, whether their 
forces were sufficiently numerous to hold with strength 
their advanced positions, and at the same time to man 
adequately their main fortified positions. During the 
morning of the 28th the Germans withdrew from Prince 
Heinrich Hill, leaving fifty of their number and four 
machine-guns in Japanese hands, and many dead upon 
the slopes. The Japanese casualties numbered 150. 
By noon the whole position was in the attackers' hands, 
and the beleaguered town, visible from the height, was 
now face to face with siege. German officers who knew 
all the points, weak and strong, of the defences, could 
not but realize their inability to withstand the siege 
guns which Japan would sooner or later bring to the 
attack. But the heavy artillery was yet far away. 
A month was to elapse before the pieces could be 
dragged across the difficult country, and emplaced in 
prepared positions on Prince Heinrich Hill. 

This month, which covered the whole of October, 
saw many interesting incidents, and betrayed no signs 
of idleness on the part of besiegers or besieged. The 
Germans, indeed, proved extraordinarily prodigal in 
ammunition, firing on an average 1,000 to 1,500 shells 
daily, a fact which lent support to the current view 
that, while undesirous of incurring their emperor's 
displeasure, they realized the hopelessness, so far as 
Tsing-tao was concerned, of their emperor's cause. 
Warships in the bay assisted the cannonade from the 
forts, and Lieutenant von Pluschow, the airman of the 
single aeroplane the town possessed, ventured forth at 
intervals to reconnoitre or to bomb. Life in the town 
itself continued to be quite normal. Japanese and 
British, meanwhile, drew their lines closer and closer 
to the fortress by sap and mine, though hindered 



THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 95 

greatly by terrible weather, and occasionally having 
slight encounters with the enemy. In one of these, on 
October 5, a German night-attack was heavily repulsed, 
forty-seven dead being left behind by the attackers. 
At sea the operations were also spasmodic. At the end 
of September a landing force occupied Lao-she harbour, 
in the vicinity of Tsing-tao, where four abandoned 
field-guns were taken possession of. Mine -sweeping had 
constantly to be maintained, under fire from the shore, 
and proved a dangerous task. Several vessels thus 
engaged were sunk or damaged, though with compara- 
tively few casualties, through coming into contact with 
mines. Some German gunboats, however, among them 
the Cormoran and the litis, were apparently sunk about 
this time, either deliberately by the Germans, or from 
the fire of the Japanese guns. A torpedo flotilla 
bombarded one of the barracks, moreover, to some 
effect, while Japanese aeroplanes were also active. 
Von Pluschow twice attempted to attack vessels of the 
blockading squadron, but unsuccessfully, and on one 
occasion a Japanese aeroplane pursuing him gave a 
German balloon, floating captive above the town, some 
critical moments before it could be hauled to safety. 
A few days later, about October 7, the rope which held 
this balloon was, during the spasmodic firing, severed 
by a shot, and the great bag floated away, apparently 
across the bay in the direction of Kiao-chau town and 
the railway line inland. In this quarter, indeed, over 
the line itself, serious friction had arisen between the 
Japanese and the Chinese authorities. 

The line ran from Tsing-tao and Kiao-chau to the 
junction of Tsi-nan, a distance of about 250 miles, 
passing through the towns of Wei-hsien and Tsing-chau. 
It was German built and almost wholly German owned. 



96 THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 

From some points of view it might reasonably be said to 
constitute an adjunct, if not a part, of the leased territory 
itself. In any case the Japanese claimed that, since 
the outbreak of war, the line had been consistently 
utilized to bring reservists, supplies, and ammunition 
to the town. The Austrian crew of the disarmed 
Kaiserin Elizabeth, both when they left and later 
returned to Tsing-tao, had used this means of transit. 
The railway, being still under German control, consti- 
tuted a menace in the Japanese rear, which the latter, 
upon consolidating their position towards the end of 
September, took measures to remove. After occupying 
Wei-hsien, they began to arrange for the seizure of 
the whole line as far as Tsi-nan itself. Hints of such 
action drew forth protests from China, whose Govern- 
ment, however, adopted too compromising an attitude. 
The Japanese Government was firm. China's right to 
formal protest was admitted, but the occupation was 
stated to be an urgent military necessity, and without any 
prejudice to Chinese claims after the war. Since China 
was unable to enforce the neutrality of the line, flagrantly 
violated by the Germans, the Japanese had no alterna- 
tive but to bring it under their own control. The 
Chino -German Treaty of 1898 and the German Govern- 
ment's charter clearly proved that the railway was 
essentially German. A compromise, hastened by the 
unhesitating and thorough measures taken by the 
Japanese to effect the occupation, was arrived at. 
The Japanese were temporarily to control the adminis- 
tration, while the Chinese conducted the traffic, of the 
railway. Its fate, since China did not admit the con- 
tention that it was purely German, was to be decided 
after the war. A bellicose attitude noticeable in 
Chinese military circles became very marked when, 



THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 97 

three days later, on October 6, unquestionably in 
breach of the arrangement, Japanese soldiers arrived 
at Tsi-nan, and took over the control of the rolling 
stock on the Shantung line. It was alleged at Peking 
that this force had declared martial law in the town, 
which contained, indeed, many German sympathizers 
who, rumour added, had destroyed several collieries 
there in their anxiety to obstruct the Allies. But the 
Chinese Government submitted under further strong 
protest, and with a request that the troops should 
be withdrawn. The Japanese action occasioned, how- 
ever, further distrust among British residents in the 
Orient. Meanwhile, a second British force, consisting 
of 500 Sikhs, was being prepared to reinforce General 
Barnardiston. 

At one o'clock on October 12, Captain Meyer-Waldeck, 
the Governor of Tsing-tao, received a joint wireless 
message from the commanders of the besieging troops 
and the blockading squadron, offering a safe escort out 
of the town to Tientsin of neutrals and non-combatants. 
He at once assented. Delegates met next day at ten 
o'clock to discuss details, and on the 15th the American 
consul, accompanied by German women and children 
and Chinese subjects, left the town. On the previous 
day there had been a combined sea and air attack upon 
forts litis and Kaiser, in which the Triumph participated 
and suffered the only Allied casualties. It is recorded 
that, before reopening bombardment after the departure 
of the non-combatants, the Japanese, ever polite, 
signalled ' Are you now quite ready, gentlemen ? ' 
For reply a German sniper, taking careful but faulty 
aim, sent a bullet which removed three out of the 
eleven hairs of the signalman's moustache. Two days 
later, days notable for torrential rains, which intensified 

18 Q 



98 THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 

the discomforts of the troops ashore, the Japanese 
suffered a severe naval loss. The Takachiho, an old 
cruiser of some 3,000 tons, which had seen service in 
the Chino -Japanese War, was on patrol duty on Satur- 
day night, October 17, when she fouled a mine, released 
by and adrift in the rough seas. Destroyers hastened 
to her aid, but rescue work was difficult in the darkness 
and the heavy weather. The cruiser sank rapidly. Two 
hundred and seventy-one officers and seamen lost their 
lives. The rough weather which contributed to the 
disaster continued with little break, and hindered 
operations, till the end of the month. The landing of the 
Sikh contingent at Laoshan Bay on October 21 was, 
indeed, attended by great difficulties and some loss of 
life. A strong southerly gale had raised high seas, and 
enormous lighters and sampans, employed for disem- 
barkation, were thrown high and dry upon the beach. 
Sixteen Japanese were drowned in trying to save other 
boats that broke loose. The Sikhs got safely ashore, 
but next morning again the winds blew and the rains 
descended, and the camping-ground was soon a miry 
pool. Circumstances other than the weather, however, 
helped to put the British officers out of humour. Trouble 
ahead threatened in connexion with transport arrange- 
ments. While the Chinese carts and drivers, brought 
hurriedly from Tientsin, were doubtfully reliable, many 
of the mules were raw and quite unused to harness. 
When a start for the front was preparing on the morning 
of the 23rd, it was found that the best of the harness, 
which had been purchased from peasants in the locality, 
had been stolen in the night by the people who had 
brought it in, and that what was left was tied up with 
string. The column, however, at length set off, and 
made a march memorable for hardship and difficulty. 



THE SIEGE OF TSESTG-TAO 99 

From Laoshan to Lutin, where a metalled road began, 
was 30 miles, crossed by a track formed at one time 
by quagmire, at another by slippery boulders. During 
eleven hours 6 miles were covered, by which time the 
Sikhs were completely exhausted with digging carts 
or mules out of the mud, hauling them out with drag- 
ropes, reloading overturned carts, or unloading those 
immovable. Next day the column was on the road at 
seven o'clock, and covered 13 miles. So deep was 
the mud in parts that when, owing to the rotten harness 
giving way, a mule would occasionally lurch forward 
suddenly and walk away by itself, the body of the cart 
would be left floating on the surface. One cart was 
pulled completely off its axles by a squad of men, 
and slid along admirably for a considerable distance. 
Seventy Chinese wheelbarrows, however, obtained from 
a Japanese depot, rendered invaluable aid on this day. 
Tsimo, the halting- place, was reached in the evening, 
and next day, after the first ten miles, saw plain sailing. 
A few days later, on October 30, after the Sikhs had 
rested and recovered, the whole British force, now 
some 1,500 strong, moved up to the front in readiness 
for the bombardment of Tsing-tao, which had been 
arranged to begin next morning in celebration of the 
birthday of the Mikado. Siege artillery, 150 pieces, 
including six 28-cm. howitzers and some heavy naval 
guns, had now been brought up and placed in position. 
The shelling was timed to start, in royal salute, at dawn. 
Men who, stationed upon Prince Heinrich Hill, could 
look below upon the doomed town, athwart the narrow- 
ing peninsula, with the sea, studded with grey warships, 
surrounding, had before them a wonderful spectacle as 
the morning sun, rising from the Pacific, slowly dispersed 
the darkness. The thunder of the great guns broke 

G2 



100 THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 

suddenly upon that stillness which only dawn knows, 
and their discharges flashed redly on the darkling slopes. 
The Japanese shooting, it is related, displayed remark- 
able accuracy, some of the first projectiles bursting upon 
the enormous oil-tanks of the Standard Oil Company 
and the Asiatic Petroleum Company. A blaze roared 
skywards, and for many hours the heavens were dark- 
ened by an immense cloud of black petroleum smoke 
which hung like a pall over the town. Shells passing 
over these fires drew up columns of flame to a great 
height. Chinese coolies could be seen running before 
the spreading and burning oil. Fires broke out also 
on the wharves of the outer harbour, in which during 
the day a gunboat, apparently damaged fatally by 
a shot which carried away her funnel, disappeared. 
The redoubts and infantry works particularly were 
heavily bombarded. On the left of the German line 
100 Chinese in the village of Tao-tung-chien were 
unfortunately caught by shell-fire directed on the 
redoubt close at hand, while the fort of Siao-chau-shan, 
near by, was set afire. The tops of several of the forts 
were soon concealed by clouds of dust and smoke. 
A heavy fusillade was concentrated upon an observation 
point which the defenders had constructed on a hill in 
the town, and had considerable effect. The Germans 
did not on this first day of general bombardment reply 
strongly, two only of the forts persistently firiag. At 
length the sun sank and night obscured the conflict. 
It had been a bad day for the besieged : and dismantled 
guns, shattered concrete platforms and entrenchments, 
devastated barbed-wire entanglements, augured the 
town's approaching fate. 

The bombardment continued for a week. During 
that period the Japanese and British guns, directed 



THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 101 

from land and sea by a balloon, by aeroplanes, or by 
observation stations on the hills, in daytime thundered 
incessantly. The German shelling, though severe, was 
far less heavy, because, it is said, the men in the forts, 
sheltering most of the time in bomb-proof caverns, 
issued forth only at night and during pauses of the 
Japanese to return the fire. The airman von Pluschow 
actively directed the repHes. The latter seemed not, 
indeed, impartially distributed. The marked attention 
paid to British troops and ships afforded an illustra- 
tion of that attitude of peculiar malevolence which 
Germans have adopted towards the British nation 
and name. The German airman singled out the British 
camp, recognizable by its white tents, for his bombs, 
while for the German artillery it had an inordinate 
attraction. Officers on board the Triumph, moreover, 
observed that the largest German guns, of 12-inch 
calibre, were consistently directed upon their vessel. 
But of many projectiles one only, which struck the 
mast, being fired from Hui-tchien-huk, proved effective. 
This hit, however, caused rejoicing in Tsing-tao which, 
it is asserted, would not have been equalled by the 
sinking of a Japanese Dreadnought. The Triumph 
singled out for attack Fort Bismarck especially, and 
two of the German 6- inch guns were early put out of 
action. The British gunners adopted the ingenious plan 
of heeling their ship by five degrees, and bombarding 
the enemy, from sight strips specially calculated, 
without exposing themselves or their weapons. It 
became customary aboard to call the bombardment 
' pressing the enemy ', from an exhortation sent by the 
Japanese Crown Prince to * press the enemy, braving 
all hardships'. Ashore, indeed, the pressure on the 
enemy developed steadily as the days passed. On 



102 THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 

November 2 the Austrian cruiser Kaiserin Elizabeth, 
which had, with the German gunboats still afloat, been 
engaging vigorously in the fighting, sank, having 
probably been blown up deliberately, and the floating 
dock also disappeared. litis Fort, moreover, was 
silenced, two guns being smashed and ammunition 
giving out, and Japanese infantry advanced and captured 
an eminence in German hands. On another ridge, 
however, hard by the silenced fort, some German naval 
gunners carried out a ruse which saved for the present 
both their position and their battery, composed of naval 
9-cm. pieces, which were exposed dangerously to fire 
from sea and land. Lieutenant von Trendel, in com- 
mand, during the night constructed wooden models of 
cannon, which he placed in position 200 yards from his 
real guns. Next morning he exploded powder near by, 
and drew the fire of the besiegers, attracted by the 
flashes, upon the dummies. That day the wireless and 
electric power stations were wrecked, and large attacking 
forces crept further forward, despite severe fire, and 
entrenched closer to the enemy's lines. In the evening 
and night the latter showed special activity, star rockets 
and other fireworks being used to illumine the opposing 
positions, which were heavily fusilladed. A German 
night- attack was delivered, but was repulsed. Next 
day, the 4th, and on the two following days, progress was 
maintained. The Allied trenches were pushed forward 
until they were right up to and almost half round the 
nearest German forts. Many casualties were suffered, 
but the German fire was kept down by the Japanese 
guns, whose accuracy was remarkable. The weather 
conditions were unfavourable, high winds and heavy 
rains prevailing, and the troops in the trenches had to 
endure hard privations. So effective was the bombard- 



THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 103 

ment, however, that during November 5 and 6 plans 
were prepared for the final assault. It was arranged 
that a general infantry attack should be made as soon as 
practicable. The garrisons in the forts, meanwhile, 
were beginning to exhaust their ammunition, of which 
they had been, du ing the preliminary operations, 
strangely prodigal. Guns lay silent for other reasons 
than structural injury, though the latter cause, indeed, 
was frequent, a single shot, in one case, from the Suwo, 
the Japanese flagship, having destroyed a 24-cm. gun 
and killed eight men on Fort Hui-tchien-huk. In the 
town itself the streets, not immune from falling pro- 
jectiles, were deserted, and the only centre of social 
intercourse and conviviality was the German Club, 
where regularly officers or non-combatants slipped in 
for dinner, luncheon, or a glass of beer. But it was 
realized that the end was not far distant. 

Early in the morning of November 6 the airman 
von Pluschow flew away across Kiao-chau Bay, and 
did not return. He escaped with the Governor's last 
dispatches into Chinese territory, where his machine 
was interned. That day and night saw no cessation 
of the firing, the guns of the defenders still roaring at 
intervals. About an hour after midnight the first 
impulse of the general attack took effect. While a 
particularly heavy artillery fire kept the Germans in 
their bomb-proof shelters, the central redoubt of the 
first line of defence, which had been badly shattered 
by the bombardment, was rushed by a storming party 
headed by General Yoshimi Yamada. Engineers had 
in the darkness sapped right up to the barbed-wire 
entanglements, which being cut provided way for the 
infantry, who, while part held the enemy in front, 
rushed the redoubt on both flanks. Two hundred 



104 THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 

prisoners were taken, and the Japanese flag was hoisted. 
The besiegers were through the German line, but the 
position had to be consolidated, or disaster would 
follow. Danger from the flank was, however, soon 
obviated by advances in other parts of the line. Just 
after five o'clock a battery on Shao-tan Hill was cap- 
tured ; half an hour later another battery in Tao-tung- 
chien redoubt was taken, and Fort Chung-shan-wa, the 
base of the German right wing, fell. The shadows were 
still dense, and the final phase of the siege, viewed 
from Prince Heinrich Hill, presented a sight brilliant 
with many flashes and flaming fireworks, and a sound 
dominated by the thunder of the batteries. But dawn, 
as the besiegers began in mass to close in upon the 
main line of forts litis, Moltke, and Bismarck, was 
breaking. It was decided to storm these positions 
forthwith, since the German fire, owing to exhaustion 
of the ammunition, was dying away. Governor Meyer- 
Waldeck, who had been wounded, realized now that 
further resistance was futile. Shortly before six o'clock 
he sent Major von Kayser, his adjutant, accompanied by 
another oflicer and a trumpeter, from the staff head- 
quarters bearing the white flag : at the same time 
a signal of surrender was made from the Observatory. 
This Avas not, however, observed, while von Kayser's 
party, coming under fire, was dispersed by a shell which 
killed the trumpeter and the adjutant's horse. Mean- 
while, Japanese and British were closing in, and were 
tensely awaiting the final assault. It was never made. 
Soon after seven o'clock a welcome sight relaxed the 
tension of the troops, torn, dirty, and weary, calling 
forth cheers from the British, and shouts of ' Banzai ! ' 
from the Japanese. The campaign was over : Tsing-tao 
had fallen. White flags were fluttering from the forts. 



THE SIEGE OF TSING-TAO 105 

That evening delegates from the two armies met and 
signed the terms of capitulation, which were uncon- 
ditional. Honours of war were accorded the defenders, 
the Governor and his ofi&cers being permitted to retain 
their swords. The AUies marched into the town, and 
on November 10 the garrison was formally transferred. 
Over 4,000 Germans were sent to Japan as prisoners, 
and large quantities of war material were confiscated. 
The captures included 30 field-guns, 100 machine-guns, 
2,500 rifles, 40 motor-cars, £1,200 in bullion, and 
15,000 tons of coal. All ships in harbour, and also the 
floating dock, had been destroyed, but it seemed pro- 
bable that the Kaiserin Elizabeth could be successfully 
raised. Sufficient provisions were found to feed 5,000 
persons for three months, and the victors were able to 
regale their appetites with luxuries such as butter, crab, 
or salmon, which were plentiful. Looting, however, 
was strictly forbidden. For fastidious persons the 
bath, after many weeks, was again available, and proved, 
indeed, in view of steady accumulations of mud, a 
salutary course. Measures, meanwhile, were at once 
taken to restore the town to its normal condition. The 
troops and sailors were employed in removing debris or 
undischarged land and sea mines. Another Japanese 
gunboat was sunk, and several officers and men lost 
their lives, while engaged in this dangerous work. 
The victory had to be paid for, indeed, with a heavy 
toll of life and limb. The Japanese casualties num- 
bered 236 kflled and 1,282 wounded; the British, 12 
killed and 53 wounded. On November 16 the Allies 
formally took possession of Tsing-tao ; and a memorial 
service was held for the dead. 




JT.S.Ifamn. 



Qjc/'ora. 



3 MILES. 
5 KM. 



TRO YON : AN ENGAGEMENT IN THE 
BATTLE OF THE AISNE ^ 

No conflict in history exceeds in magnitude or impor- 
tance the battle which commenced on the banks of the 
Aisne on September 13, 1914. The numbers engaged 
were upwards of two millions. The area involved 
stretched on September 13 from Verdun to Noyon, 
a distance of about one hundred and thirty miles, and 
included Laon and Soissons, Rheims and Compiegne. 
The immense battle-line lengthened from day to day. 
On September 28, its western extremity was Peronne. 
On October 2, gun defied gun from Verdun to Laon, 
from Laon to Arras. The Battle of the Aisne, which 
already summarized many engagements that once 
historians would have dignified, but modern com- 
parisons forbid to be described, as battles in themselves, 
became itself part of one gigantic conflict which raged 
from the bounds of England to the confines of Switzer- 
land. The thunder of the guns reverberated from the 
chffs of Dover to the gorges of the Swiss Jura. But 
of the whole battle -line of the Aisne no section was 
more strategically important than that occupied by 
the British. Not one of the separate engagements, of 
the British or of the French, which together comprised 
the battle, was more strategically important or more 
stubbornly contested than that fought in the woods 
and on the hill-sides around Troyon. The struggle 

* An outline of this narrative may be found in Sir John French's 
dispatch dated October 8, and published October 18, 1914. 



108 TROYON : AN ENGAGEMENT IN 

opened with a night-attack in the early hours of 
September 14. How that struggle was won it is our 
purpose to describe. 

• « • • « 

Shortly after midnight on September 14, the 2nd 
Infantry Brigade, billeted in Moulins, began to muster. 
The conditions, indeed, were favourable to a night- 
attack. Rain fell at intervals. Heavy mist intensified 
the darkness. Nevertheless, Brigadier-General Bulfin 
could not but feel anxiety as to his prospects of success. 
The force under his command, now mustering without 
bugle-call or beat of drum, only numbered some 4,000 
men. It comprised battalions of the King's Royal 
Rifles, the Royal Sussex, the Northamptonshire, the 
Loyal North Lancashire Regiments, and was sup- 
ported by the 25th Artillery Brigade, which was short 
of a battery. There was ground for believing, and it 
was afterwards clearly established, that in the previous 
week the Germans had carefully selected their position, 
had taken all ranges, had dug gun-pits and trenches, 
with the object of making a determined stand here, rather 
than upon the banks of the Aisne between Qi]uilly and 
the Pont-Arcy. Only a few hours before, on the morn- 
ing of the 13th, the whole 1st British Division had met 
with little opposition in crossing the river. But tho 
formidable position to which the enemy had retired, 
south of the line of the Chemin des Dames, looked 
down at the wooded slopes around Troyon across 
a wide valley almost destitute of cover. Some of the 
oldest local inhabitants could remember that this very 
spot had been held by the Germans in the campaign 
of 1871. There was another tradition. Historians 
asserted that, a short distance away, on the hill abovo 
Bourg and Comin, Labicnus, the lieutenant of Caesar, 



THE BATTLE OF THE AISNE 109 

had successfully defended Gaul against barbarians 
attacking from the north. Excavation a few years 
before had revealed in the huge quarries there, now 
occupied by modern artillery, a subterranean village 
containing quantities of Gallic pottery and arms. The 
Germans might well be expected to offer considerable 
resistance. Signs, moreover, were not wanting of the 
constant watchfulness and activity of both the opposing 
armies. Desultory firing and the occasional screech of 
a shell broke the silence at intervals. The Medical Corps 
were at work bringing in the wounded. Great search- 
lights swept ceaselessly the death-ridden valley of the 
Aisne. If those great shafts of light, which the mist 
hampered but did not destroy, were to play on the 
woods and fields of Troyon and Vendresse, the British 
could scarcely hope to deliver their attack without 
previous discovery. As Bulfin awaited somewhat 
anxiously the return of the officers' patrol he had sent 
out to reconnoitre, perhaps he recalled under what 
different circumstances he had fought in the highlands 
of Burma, or gained distinction in the South African 
campaigns. Shortly before three o'clock the officers 
returned. They reported to the General a considerable 
force of the enemy near a factory north of Troyon. 

Troyon lies on the Laon road, about half-way between 
Cerny and Vendresse. Wooded slopes of considerable 
height separate it from where, to its north, near Cerny, 
the Laon road crosses the Chemin des Dames. West 
of Troyon, densely wooded country undulates towards 
the high hills around Braye. East of Troyon a spur 
of hills rises sharply. Southwards, between Moulin s 
and Troyon, continuous woodland could conceal, but 
would not facilitate, the approach of the British. 

At three o'clock Bulfin ordered the King's Royal 



110 TROYON : AN ENGAGEMENT IN 

Rifles and the Royal Sussex Regiment to move forward 
from Moulins. The advance was made as noiselessly 
as possible. Ever3rthing depended upon the enemy 
being surprised. At length the British drew near. 
The apprehensions of some of the officers were at 
one point alarmed by hearing a sudden sharp cry. 
A stray shot, an effect of the general desultory firing, 
had shattered the arm of one of the men. He could 
not restrain a cry of agony. But next moment the 
brave fellow seized a piece of turf with his uninjured 
hand and thrust it between his teeth. He held it in 
this position till he was able to crawl back through 
the lines. Soon the British came into touch with the 
German outposts. To conceal their approach now 
was hardly possible, and they pushed on rapidly till they 
gained the ground just north of Troj^on. A large 
factory, occupied hj an expectant foe, now impeded 
further advance. The Germans opened fire. The alarm 
given, the German batteries covering the entrench- 
ments near the factory also opened fire. Meanwhile, 
the British had formed a firing line, and had begun to 
creep forward. The skilful use they made of their 
ground on that day called forth the admiration of the 
Germans themselves. All efforts to advance, however, 
were soon checked by the continuous fusillade. The 
black heights, the factory silhouetted against the sky, 
the dark wooded slopes, presented to the British lying 
under cover a front sparkling with innumerable points 
of fire, illumined by the flashes and shaken by the 
thunder of numerous guns. Light rain and soaking 
mist aggravated the discomforts but lessened the 
dangers of the men. Reinforcements were at hand. 
At four o'clock the Northamptonshire Regiment had 
left Moulins and advanced to occupy the hills east of 



THE BATTLE OF THE AISNE 111 

Troyon. A considerable time passed with the line, 
thus extended, keeping up a hot fire and advancing 
where possible. All efforts to dislodge the enemy from 
the factory proved futile. It was held in considerable 
force. The darkness, the mist, the rain-sodden ground, 
hampered the advance of the artillery. The east was 
pahng. The shadows in the woods were growing grey. 
Dawn would soon break. It was not unlikely that the 
Rifles and the Sussex Regiment would be unable to 
maintain their position when revealed by daylight. 
About six o'clock, therefore, Bulfin directed the Loyal 
North Lancashires, who had proceeded from Moulins 
to Vendresse, to support their comrades at Troyon in 
a determined effort to make headway. The effort 
proved unavailing. Shortly afterwards, however, the 
1st Infantry Brigade arrived. The Coldstream Guards 
were hurried to the right, the Grenadier, the Irish, 
the Scots Guards to the left, of the 2nd Brigade. 

These reinforcements soon made themselves felt. 
The very presence of the Guards, indeed, was of con- 
siderable moral value. The glory of innumerable 
campaigns had made them jealous of a reputation won 
upon such fields as Malplaquet and Fontenoy, as Talavera 
and Barrosa, and as Inkerman. No other corps of 
soldiers existing could show as fine a record as that 
which numbered among its achievements the capture 
of Gibraltar, and the defence of Hougomont at the 
crisis of Waterloo. The Coldstreams particularly 
could recall an old resentment against the foes they 
now faced. Over a hundred years before, in 1793, 
British and Prussians lay opposite French entrench- 
ments in a forest. They were then allies. 5,000 Austrians 
had been thrice repulsed with a loss of 1,700 men. 
The Prussians were asked to undertake the attack. 



112 TROYON: AN ENGAGEMENT IN 

Their general, who also commanded the British, sent 
the Coldstreams, only 600 strong, alone to the assault. 
It was impossible to carry the entrenchments. The 
regiment was cut up severely. But it could not be 
dislodged from the wood. 

A vigorous attack was now made upon the German 
lines. The position was rushed at the point of the 
bayonet. Unsupported by artillery, the British met 
with a heavy rifle and shell fire before they reached the 
enemy's trenches. Tremendous hand-to-hand fighting 
followed. Fourteen years before, stout Boer burghers, 
impervious to fear of the bullet, had fled in terror at 
the flash of the deadly bayonet. The Germans had so 
far shown a partiality for artillery duels, for steady 
advance in packed masses, for the weight of numbers. 
They were not accustomed to calculate, nor inclined 
to rely, upon the dash and the elan, as the French 
say, of a charge with the cold steel. Unable to with- 
stand the furious British assault, they abandoned five 
guns in a hurried retreat ; 280 prisoners were taken to 
the rear by the Sussex Regiment, 47 by the Scots 
Guards. 

The capture of the factory could only be ejffected 
after a desperate struggle and with considerable loss. 
The Loyal North Lancashires lay opposite the position. 
It presented difficulties, indeed, which might well 
cause misgivings to the bravest. Every door was sure 
to be bolted and barred. Death lurked behind every 
window. But the Loyal North Lancashires could not 
hesitate while other regiments on their right and left 
were striking vigorously at the foe. A party of them 
forced a passage over shattered doors and barricades, 
over ruined furniture, over the piled corpses of the 
slain. Some prisoners and several machine guns fell 



THE BATTLE OF THE AISNE 113 

into their hands. The position thus won was held by- 
men of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment throughout 
the day. 

The morning, which had dawned amid the roar of 
action, was cold and windy, and showed the British 
how formidable was their task. The line to which the 
Germans had retreated was strong. Concealed artillery 
strengthened their entrenchments, which covered a long 
stretch of rising open ground. The fusillade recom- 
menced and continued with renewed violence. At 
about nine o'clock the screech of shells coming from 
the British lines announced that at last the British 
artillery was able to render the infantry effective 
support. 

Our purpose is merely to record the operations which 
took place in the neighbourhood of Troyon on 
September 14. But it is necessary to mention the 
position of the Allies on either flank of the brigades 
engaged, which belonged to the 1st Division. To the 
right of the line of the 1st and 2nd Brigades, on the 
further side of the spur of hills to the east of Troyon, 
the troops from French Morocco were entrenched in 
echelon. They came, indeed, from a region on which 
Germany had once cast covetous eyes. She had had, 
however, when she sent the Panther to Agadir, good 
reason to desire to make dependents, or at least 
allies, of the Moroccans. For they had proved terrible 
foes. On the left of the 1st Division the 2nd Division 
had been advancing since an early hour towards 
Ostel and Brave. The 6th Lifantry Brigade, the right 
wing of the 2nd Division, at nine o'clock reached 
Tilleul. Here its progress was checked by that 
artillery and rifle fire which had checked effectually the 
progress of the brigades north of Troyon. A dangerous 

18 H 



114 TROYON : AN ENGAGEMENT IN 

interval of ground disconnected the firing lines of these 
two forces. Sir Douglas Haig grasped the importance 
of covering this interval. It was more than likely that 
the enemy would choose a point so vulnerable for counter- 
attack. The 3rd Infantry Brigade was at hand. At 
six o'clock it had left Bourg, where it had been billeted 
during the night, and had at ten o'clock reached a point 
one mile south of Vendresse. It was immediately 
ordered to continue the line of the 1st Brigade and to 
connect with and aid the right of the 2nd Division. 
This disposition was speedily justified. No sooner had 
the 3rd Brigade covered the interval, than a heavy 
shrapnel fire was opened upon them, and a strong hostile 
column was found to be advancing. 

The commanding officer of the 3rd Brigade, Brigadier- 
General James Landon, took prompt and decisive 
action. Two of his battalions made a vigorous counter- 
attack. A battery of field-guns was rushed into action, 
and opened fire at short range with deadly effect. 
The German artillery, hurling a continuous shower 
of shells during the whole day upon and around 
Vendresse, could not inflict on the British such 
slaughter as one deadly hail of shell and bullet could 
inflict upon the close masses of German infantry. 
The advancing column, menaced on either flank, hastily 
recoiled. 

Both British and German lines were now strongly 
held. The fighting during the whole of the morning 
and till late in the afternoon continued to be of a most 
desperate character. Both the opposing forces con- 
tinually delivered attacks and counter-attacks. British 
and Germans advanced and retired in turn, surging 
and receding like breakers on a sea-coast. The men in 
the firing lines took turns in the dangerous duty of 



THE BATTLE OF THE AISNE 115 

watching for advancing enemies, while the rest lay low 
in the protecting trenches. Artillery boomed continually 
from the hill-sides. Maxim and rifle fire crackled cease- 
lessly in the woods and valleys. At times a sonorous 
unmistakable hum swelled the volume of sound. The 
aeroplanes, despite rain and wind, were continually 
upon the alert. The troops on solid ground watched 
them circling at dizzy heights amid the flashes of 
bursting shells, and marvelled at the coolness, the 
intrepidity, and the skill of those who controlled levers 
and recorded observations as they hovered, the mark 
for every hostile gun, in the open sky. No ditch or wall 
Bcreened the airmen from the most certain and the 
most horrible of deaths. Only their speed and their 
good fortune could elude the stray bullet and the 
flying splinter of shell which would send those delicate 
mechanisms hurtling to earth. During the course of 
the struggle a German aeroplane flew at a great height 
over the British lines. It was well out of reach of fire. 
A British machine rose, swept in a wide semicircle 
around its opponent, and mounted steadily. The 
German, becoming alive to these movements, made 
efforts to attack his adversary from above. He swooped 
suddenly and fired. The British swerved giddily 
upwards, and gained the same altitude as the German. 
Those who watched from below that remarkable duel 
could see the two machines manoeuvring at a great 
height for the upper place, and could hear distantly 
the sound of shots. The airmen showed superb nerv@r 
The struggle ranged up and down for some minutes. 
Then the British seized a sudden advantage of superior 
height. The machines seemed to close. The German 
staggered, its pilot struck by a revolver shot. His slow 
descent to earth left his adversary in possession of the 

H2 



116 TROYON: AN ENGAGEMENT IN 

air. The British aeroplane, skimming and humming 
downwards amid the cheers of thousands, could well 
claim to have marked a signal instance of that personal 
ascendancy which Sir John French so emphatically 
extols, and which seems to offer chances of Great 
Britain adding the dominion of the air to her world- 
wide domain of the seas/ 

Many instances are recorded of the successes and 
checks of that strenuous day. At one point the enemy 
were shelled out of their trenches and abandoned two 
machine guns. Fifty of them surrendered at the call 
of ten British. At another point a battalion of the 
Guards, the Camerons, and the Black Watch delivered 
in turn a fierce assault upon the German lines. It was 
necessary to traverse about half a mile of open ground. 
They went off with a cheer. The air was full of the 
scream of shrapnel and the whistle of bullets. So hot 
and so concentrated w^as the fusillade that the British 
were compelled to retire with severe loss. Equally 
unsuccessful but not less heroic was a charge of the 
Welsh Regiment. That occasion was rendered memor- 
able by the gallantry of the captain who, struck down 
while leading the charge and laying about him with 
an empty rifle, kept uttering dying exhortations of 
'Stick it, Welsh!' 'Stick it, Welsh!' His men 
were, indeed, compelled to retire over his body. But 
such was the devotion he had inspired that his soldier- 
servant, afterwards rewarded for his courage with the 
Victoria Cross, ran out about a hundred yards, exposed 
to heavy fire, to pick up and bring back to cover his 
mortally wounded captain. The energy and tenacity 

* It cannot be claimed as certain that this occurrence took place 
on September 14. Nevertheless, the evidence is sufficiently strong 
to warrant its insertion in the narrative of that day's events. 



THE BATTLE OF THE AISNE 117 

with which they were assailed, however, prompted 
some Glermans to faU back upon a base expedient. 
A white flag was seen to flutter out at one point in the 
German lines. It was the token of surrender. A body 
of the Coldstreams, Grenadiers, Irish Guards, and 
Connaughts went forward to take the prisoners. No 
sooner were they well in the open than out burst a ring 
of fire from concealed artillery. The Germans who had 
affected to surrender poured in a hot rifle fire. The 
British, caught in a trap, were cut up in face of a wither- 
ing fusillade. They perished as martyrs to the unsus- 
pecting faith of chivalry, and as victims of the most 
disgraceful form of treachery. 

It was about four o'clock in the afternoon before 
a perceptible weakening of the German counter-attacks 
and resistance indicated that a general advance might 
safely be undertaken. Sir Douglas Haig ordered his 
whole corps to push forward. The enemy still offered 
considerable opposition, and maintained very heavy 
artillery and rifle fire. It was not found possible to 
advance far. Cerny was in possession of the Germans. 
The day had been long and strenuous. The enemy 
had been forced back a considerable distance. The 
troops were very weary. Nevertheless, most of the 
contested ground, from the Chemin des Dames on 
the right to Chivy onwards, was occupied by the British 
before night fell. 

The 1st Army Corps, and particularly the 1st Division 
of that Corps, had, indeed, good reason to be satisfied 
with the result of the day's operations. They had 
gained a very considerable stretch of difficult and 
dangerous ground, covered with woods that harboured 
the infantry and concealed the artillery of the enemy. 
They had had to contest every yard, to dig trenches 



118 TROYON 

continually, to creep forward slowly, and occasionally 
to retire. They had captured 600 prisoners and twelve 
guns. They had repulsed repeated and prolonged 
attacks. The Commander-in-Chief asserted in a dispatch 
that the advanced and commanding position they had 
won alone enabled him to maintain his ground for 
more than three weeks of very severe fighting on the 
northern bank of the Aisne. The casualties had indeed 
been severe. One brigade alone had lost three of its 
four colonels. But the captured trenches showed that 
the Germans had suffered far more heavily. 



GHELUVELT 

THE CRISIS OF THE FIRST BATTLE FOR 
YPRES 

' Perhaps the most important and decisive attacks (except that of 
the Prussian Guard on 15th November) made against the Ist Corps 
during the whole of its arduous experiences in the neighbourhood of 
Ypres took place on the 31st October. ... I was present with Sir 
Douglas Haig at Hooge between two and three o'clock on this day, 
when the 1st Division were retiring. I regard it as the most critical 
moment in the whole of this great battle. The rally of the 1st Division 
and the recapture of the village of Gheluvelt at such a time were 
fraught with momentous consequences.' — Sir John French, in his 
dispatch dated November 20, and published November 29, 1914. 

The line of trenches which stretches from the sea at 
Nieuport to the Swiss frontier runs, in its course through 
Flanders, not through Ypres, but in a distinct curve 
around it. At the end of October 1914 the east abut- 
ment of this salient was formed by a trench-line crossing 
the Menin road east of Zonnebeke, of Gheluvelt, and 
of Zandvoorde, the salient curving back west on either 
flank, the southern ' re-entrant ' from Zandvoorde, the 
northern from Zonnebeke. The German attacks upon 
Ypres during the first period of their assault, from 
October 20 to November 17, took three directions, and 
had two objects : upon the northern and southern 
re-entrants in an effort to break through and to cut off 
from the city the British defending the easterly part 
of the salient ; and against the east abutment itself in 
a direct attempt to drive the defenders back westwards 
through the city. The first attacks, October 21-3, 



122 GHELUVELT : THE CRISIS OF 

were made against the northern re-entrant in the neigh- 
bourhood of Bixschoote, held partly by British and 
partly by French, and against the east abutment in the 
neighbourhood of Becelaere, defended wholly by British. 
After its successful repulse the French reHeved the 
British of part of their northern re-entrant front. A 
few days later, on October 29, the Germans commenced 
a series of fierce and unremitting assaults upon the 
eastern line of the salient, and upon the southern re- 
entrant in the neighbourhood of Hollebeke and Messines, 
where the London Scottish, the first Territorials to join 
battle with the enemy, won honour by a famous charge. 
The writer's purpose is to describe the fighting which 
raged, chiefly on October 31, in the neighbourhood of 
Gheluvelt. That fighting consecrated to British hearts 
a district, already old in history, many of whose villages 
and features, Klein Zillebeke and Kruiseik, the Zand- 
voorde ridge, the woods of Polygone and of Veldhoek, 
will take rank with the most honoured battle-names in 
the story of our country. It added also to the desola- 
tion which hideous war had wrought upon a district 
of well cultivated fields, of windmills, of canals, of 
slow-moving streams winding between rows of pollards, 
of cottages nestling among fruitful gardens and orchards, 
of country-houses embowered in woods and pleasure- 
grounds, and of quaint villages with mediaeval churches 
whose spires, not too sacred for miHtary necessity, rose 
prominently above the wide plains. 

South-east of Ypres runs a canal to Comines. The 
Ypres-Moorslede road, passing through Zonnebeke, pro- 
ceeds in a north-easterly direction, and the angle between 
this and the canal is bisected by the Ypres-Menin road, 
with the villages Hooge and Gheluvelt upon its line. 
The rough quadrilateral formed by this angle and by 



THE FIRST BATTLE FOR YPRES 123 

lines joining Zonnebeke to Kruiseik, and E^uiseik to 
the canal near Hollebeke, constituted, during the final 
days of October, the area covered by the British 1st Corps, 
to which were attached the 7th Infantry Division and 
the 3rd Cavalry Division. It is an area broken by 
numerous ridges and small hills, and covered by many 
woods. It has become an area of depopulated villages, 
of naked ruins, of shattered bridges, of fields of trampled 
crops, of improvised graveyards where the sods lie fresh 
and rough upon close-packed and numberless graves ; 
an area where cattle wander uncared for, where farm- 
steads lie open to the sky, with pigs and fowls roaming 
wild over scenes of waste and disorder. The gaunt ruins 
of old churches rear themselves amid havoc-stricken 
villages : beautiful houses, with every cupboard, every 
drawer ransacked, their rooms littered with broken 
furniture and tumbled garments, and everywhere, it is 
said, hundreds of empty bottles, stand with great 
chasms, where projectiles have struck, gaping in roof 
and walls. The woods are raked by shell-fire, the ground 
is pitted with huge shell-holes. Everywhere this corner 
of the wide plain of West Flanders bears marks of war 
more savage and more ineffaceable than those stamped 
upon it by the brutal soldiery of the Inquisition, or by 
the seven sieges which reduced Ypres from a city more 
populous than Cardiff to a town as sparsely peopled as 
Harrow or Pontefract. Every village, Kruiseik, Klein 
Zillebeke, Veldhoek, Hooge, Gheluvelt, lies bleak in 
death and ruin, and deserted except, where British 
head-quarters are placed, for numerous motor transport 
vehicles, and busy staff officers and orderlies. It was 
this area that Sir Douglas Haig, by a line of trenches 
stretching from Zonnebeke round the woods to the 
cross-roads a mile east of Gheluvelt, over the fields to 



124 GHELUVELT : THE CRISIS OF 

Kruiseik Hill, and westwards along the ridge of Zand- 
voorde to the chateau east of the village, was called 
upon to defend. He took over this position on October 27. 
Two days later there burst upon his front the opening 
phases of a storm of unprecedented force and fury. 

October 29 dawned, crisp, clear, and sunny. Troops 
of the 1st Division in the trenches which crossed the 
Menin road about a mile east of Gheluvelt, watching for 
the shadows to rise, were soon greeted, as a morning 
welcome, by the roar of the enemy's artillery and the 
screech and explosion of shell. They were not, indeed, 
unaccustomed to the dangerous visitors which they 
termed derisively ' Jack Johnsons ' or ' Black Marias ', 
diggers of vast pits, ' Little Willies ' or ' White Hopes '. 
But the cannonade soon became exceptionally heavy ; 
and after some time the grey-clad forms of German 
infantry were seen advancing. 

For a while it was the turn of the British. Machine- 
guns, massed at various points, were brought to bear 
on the enemy with terrible effect. The Germans, dash- 
ing boldly forward across the open, fell in such numbers 
that wounded and dead piled themselves into heaps. 
Nevertheless, the enemy continued to advance in force, 
and heavy fighting went on for several hours. At length 
parts of the British line were penetrated, and some 
trenches were occupied, among them those of the Gordon 
Highlanders and the Yorkshire Regiment, who, however, 
recovered their ground by gallant charges. Sir Douglas 
Haig was informed that a portion of his front line had 
been forced back. The centre of attack was the Menin 
road ; upon the right of this road lay the 7th Division 
and the 3rd Cavalry Division, upon the left the 1st 
Division and, farther on, the 2nd Division. The General 
counter-attacked, nearly the whole of his forces being 



THE FIRST BATTLE FOR YPRES 125 

involved. The 7th Division, supported on its right by 
the cavaky, advanced upon Kruiseik, where trenches 
had been lost, and upon the German front from there 
to the Gheluvelt cross-roads, while the 1st Corps struck 
at the opposing lines east of the Polygone Wood, on the 
other side of the road. But the enemy resisted stub- 
bornly, and it was two o'clock before signs of their 
giving way offered encouragement to the British. The 
latter pressed their assault, and, as the day advanced, 
the issue of the struggle became decisive. Kruiseik Hill 
was recaptured. Most of the line to the north of the 
Menin road was recovered, and in some places advanced, 
the enemy retaining possession at one point alone. By 
nightfall the position was much the same as upon the 
previous evening. Rain had begun to fall heavily at 
about six o'clock, and the night, without a moon to 
throw a ray of comfort to the men in the sodden trenches, 
was as black as pitch. A terrific thunderstorm broke ; 
and heaven's artillery, perhaps to show Heaven's anger, 
for a while silenced the artillery of man. Soon, however, 
the Germans, taking advantage of the conditions, 
emerged from the darkness and fell upon the British 
lines at several points. They were repulsed, but con- 
siderable fighting occurred throughout the night upon 
the Menin road. It gradually lessened until, shortly 
after daylight, a tremendous artillery fire was opened 
upon the cavalrymen defending the Zandvoorde ridge. 
The 3rd Cavalry Division was commanded by Major- 
General the Hon. Julian Byng. It consisted of the 
6th Brigade, containing the ' Fighting Tenth ' Hussars, 
the 1st Dragoons, the 3rd Dragoon Guards ; and of the 
7th Brigade, containing the 1st and 2nd Life Guards 
and the Royal Horse Guards. It had accompanied 
General Sir Henry Rawlinson in his operations around 



126 GHELUVELT : THE CRISIS OF 

Ghent and Antwerp, and, as became the reputations of 
the regiments it included, had fought gallantly and 
suffered heavily in the severe fighting which had been 
necessary to stave off the German advance upon Ypres 
until supports arrived . The praise later bestowed upon the 
cavalry by Sir John French for the way in which they took 
turns in the trenches in the absence of reinforcements on 
no occasion more justified itself than upon the morning of 
October 30. Kavanagh's 7th Brigade occupied the front 
line upon the Zandvoorde ridge, with Makins's 6th Brigade 
as reserves in the rear. The Hussars and Dragoons were 
bombarded heavily, yet showed no sign of weakness. 
But at length many of the trenches were completely 
blown in, one troop being buried alive. Zandvoorde 
was shelled, whole houses lifting momentarily, it seemed, 
into the air, and falling, masses of pulverized masonry 
and debris, amid the roar of great explosions, and with 
columns of black smoke streaming upwards from their 
ruins for a hundred feet. The cannonade became so 
violent and the casualties so great after a while that 
Byng was compelled to withdraw. All the battles in 
his Egyptian campaigns put together could not form 
a shrieking inferno such as this. He moved back his 
division a mUe or more as far as Klein ZUlebeke. The 
Germans made a rapid advance, and took possession of 
the Zandvoorde ridge. 

Sir Douglas Haig saw that the position was serious. 
The withdrawal of the cavalry to Klein Zillebeke in- 
volved the right wing of the 7th Division, which had 
to retire through the woods to conform with the new 
line. That line stretched now from Gheluvelt to where 
the canal turned westwards near Klein Zillebeke. Much 
ground had been lost, ground, moreover, the strategical 
value of which made it dangerous to relinquish. Sir 



THE FIRST BATTLE FOR YPRES 127 

Douglas sent urgent orders to General Byng and to 
Greneral Capper, the commander of the 7th Division, 
that the line from Gheluvelt to the corner of the canal 
must be consolidated and held at all costs. The Scots 
Greys and the 3rd and 4th Hussars, belonging to the 
1st Cavalry Corps, were moved up to Klein Zillebeke 
as reinforcements. A battalion of the 2nd Brigade was 
placed in reserve behind the line in the woods about 
a mile south of Hooge, and the rest of this brigade was 
directed to concentrate in rear of the 1st Division and 
of the 4th Brigade, on the other side of the Menin road, 
where the Overmans had also been pressing their attacks. 
But here on the left of Haig's line they had made only 
two efforts to advance, and had in both cases been 
stopped by wire entanglements and repulsed by close 
rifle -fire. 

The enemy now continued to assail the cavalry line. 
The whole 15th Army Corps, with many guns, were in 
action at this part of the field, and it was the weight of 
their numbers that had caused the retirement from 
Zandvoorde. They were troops of the German Active 
Army, and had only just come up to reinforce the 
14th Corps, which had delivered the attack of the 
previous day. A strong force of artillery was now 
brought into play, and a very heavy bombardment 
was maintained, many of the telephone cables which 
communicated with head-quarters being cut. The 
6th Cavalry Brigade occupied the front line, with the 
Greys and the 3rd Hussars on their left, the 4th Hussars 
on their right. The defence was stubborn, and the 
Germans could make no headway. Little change took 
place in the situation during the rest of the day, and 
at dusk Lord Cavan came up with his 4th Infantry 
Brigade to relieve the weary cavalrymen, who retired 



128 GHELUVELT : THE CRISIS OF 

for the night to a spot near their head-quarters at 
Zillebeke. Sir Douglas Haig took various precautions 
after nightfall to protect his right flank at lOein Zille- 
beke. General Moussy, sent by the commander of the 
French 9th Corps, came up in support with three bat- 
taUons of infantry and a brigade of cavalry. The night 
was fine, and the moon shone brightly. Stretcher- 
bearers moved rapidly and silently in the darkness, 
carrying away those who had fallen. The outposts of 
the two opposing armies lay almost within a stone's 
throw of each other. German bands, not superior in 
tunefulness, it was noted in the trenches, to the kind 
familiar to English ears, sounded continually from the 
enemy's lines. In places the gramophone offered a 
tolerable substitute. Magnesium flares, which illumined 
the trenches and gave every object a ghastly hue, con- 
tributed also to the evening entertainment of the Ger- 
mans ; while firing, rifle and artillery, was kept up at 
some parts of the line. 

Sir John French was fully alive to the dangers likely 
to arise from the withdrawal of his line between Gheluvelt 
and the canal. Just to the south, moreover, the 3rd 
Cavalry Brigade had been forced to retire at midday 
from HoUebeke, in face of heavy German infantry 
attacks. This advance of the enemy in the direction 
of the canal threatened the communications of the 
1st Corps through Ypres. In view of this the Field- 
Marshal, after a close survey of the positions, issued 
orders that every efiort must be made to secure the line 
then held, and that, as soon as this had been thoroughly 
done, perhaps by morning, the 1st Corps must take the 
offensive, in order to relieve the pressure upon General 
Allenby on the opposite side of the canal. Meanwhile, 
a proclamation which had been discovered on the person 



THE FIRST BATTLE FOR YPRES 129 

of a Grerman prisoner was brought to Sir John French's 
notice. It indicated that the 2nd Bavarian and the 
German 13th and 15th Corps were entrusted with the 
task of breaking through the line to Ypres : the Emperor 
himself, it urged, considered the success of this attack 
to be of most vital importance. It was signed by the 
German commander, General von Deimling. 

Von Deimling had come to be obsessed by a single 
purpose, the capture of Ypres at all costs. The Emperor 
and his General Staff had grasped the importance of 
this northern area of war. Calais had become their 
great objective. The deadlock into which the situation 
was threatening to develop could hardly be regarded 
by them with complacency. Their troops had first 
attempted to break the Allied line between Nieuport 
and Dixmude, where the Belgian Army, the 42nd 
French Division under General Grosetti, and the 7,000 
Breton marines of Admiral Ronarc'h, held the line. 
Fierce fighting had followed, and supreme courage had 
been shown on both sides. It is said that, upon one 
occasion, the gigantic and genial Grosetti sat in an 
armchair for two hours near the ruined church of 
Pervyse, exposed to a rain of shell, as an encouragement 
to his men. The German assault had finally been 
repelled by the opening of the sluices and the flooding 
of the dunes. Ypres had thus become now the gate to 
Calais, and the vital importance of its capture was 
repeatedly urged by Berlin upon the German generals 
in Belgium. Fifteen army corps and four cavalry corps, 
under the Crown Prince of Bavaria, the Duke of Wiir- 
temberg, General von Fabeck, and General von Deimling, 
were assembled there. If the Germans, by the weight of 
overwhelming numbers, could hack their way through 
the British line, could seize Ypres, could push on with 

18 I 



130 GHELUVELT : THE CRISIS OF 

all speed through the gap, the whole Allied line would 
be thrown back, the French and Belgians to the north 
of the city would be threatened with envelopment, 
and the way to Dunkirk and Calais would be open. 
The hated English in their snug island across the narrow 
seas would realize with fear and trembling that the 
army of Germany was almost within sight of their 
shores. Northern France would lie practically defence- 
less before the conquering hosts of the Rhine. Von 
Deimling, with the 2nd Bavarian and the 13th, 14th, 
and 15th Army Corps, lay immediately to the east of 
Ypres, and theirs would be the privilege of taking the 
city. But von Deimling knew the difficulty of attempt- 
ing, as he had been attempting for many days, with 
disheartening failure, to pierce that obstinate British 
line. The latter was composed of tried and well- 
trained troops : his own forces were made up mainly of 
new and reserve formations, though he had, it was true, 
several great advantages. He could mass his men at 
a point for purposes of offensive by reason of his great 
numerical superiority. The immensely powerful arma- 
ment of siege artillery which had wrought the destruc- 
tion of Antwerp had been moved westwards to the 
support of the troops attacking Ypres. In this con- 
nexion, however, there was a consideration which 
gunners must bear carefully in mind. The Kaiser in 
person was coming to the scene. His Imperial Majesty 
specially desired to be present when Ypres was taken, 
and to have the peculiar satisfaction of viewing the 
discomfiture of the British. It was fitting that the 
War Lord of the Fatherland should be among the first 
to enter in triumph the last city of Belgium in hostile 
hands, and should return thanks on the spot for the 
complete deliverance of so fair and so rich a land from 



THE FIRST BATTLE FOR YPRES 131 

the lawless tendencies of a progressive democracy to 
the influence of the rule of ' kultur '. But it certainly- 
must not be a deserted and gutted mass of ruins from 
which he would proclaim with befitting ceremony and 
splendour, as it was said he desired to do, the annexation 
of the country. Artillerymen must therefore place 
special restraints upon their soldierly zeal, and must see 
to it that no shell fell upon the city, save at strategical 
points. After the visitation of the Emperor, indeed, 
in order to secure discipline amongst the populace, 
or if, by any chance, the attack failed, the imposing 
old mediaeval buildings, the magnificent Cloth Hall, 
with its frescoes and its statuary, the Cathedral of 
St. Martin, with its paintings, its pulpit of rich Baroque 
carving, its gorgeous rose window, its altar of Carrara 
marble, might then, perhaps, be given over to destruc- 
tion. But at present German hands must be stayed. 
The artillery must busy themselves in earnest upon the 
enemy's lines, for it wanted but one day to the end of 
October, and the Kaiser had considered it specially 
desirable that the city should be won within the month. 
The morrow should see the final great assault, delivered 
with irresistible force : and the morrow would decide 
whether glory or dishonour, the price of failure before 
the Emperor's eyes, would be the portion of von 
Deimling and his army. 

No sooner had the sun risen on the fateful last day 
of October than Haig's battle-line stirred into life. 
The rumbling of distant cannon soon became as insistent, 
the discharges of neighbouring guns as violent, as ever. 
His line had, indeed, changed considerably during the 
preceding twenty-four hours, and now stretched in 
a curve from Zonnebeke around Gheluvelt to the bend 
of the canal. At the latter point, on the extreme right, 

12 



132 GHELUVELT : THE CRISIS OF 

lay General Moussy with the French troops who had 
come up as reinforcements on the previous evening. 
Moussy, in accordance with Sir John French's instruc- 
tions, moved forward early in the morning to attack 
the enemy. After a preliminary bombardment he left 
his trenches and advanced across the open. The French 
ranks were scattered by shrapnel and rent by a fierce 
rifle and machine-gun fire. It soon became obvious that 
the Germans were massed very thickly in front. Moussy 
was brought to a complete standstill, but was able, in 
spite of heavy shelling accompanied by infantry attacks, 
to maintain his ground. 

Meanwhile, Byng was mustering his 3rd Cavalry 
Division, then acting as reserves, near Hooge. It was 
a few minutes after eight o'clock upon a grey, murky, 
autumn morning. As the division transport was moving 
out of Zillebeke, the head-quarters, many shells began 
to drop upon the village. Violent explosions shattered 
every window-pane in the place, and many buildings 
were devastated. The transport successfully cleared 
the danger-zone, however, after suffering some inevitable 
losses. In about an hour's time a message was brought 
to General Byng : AUenby's cavalry corps on the other 
side of the canal was being heavily attacked again, and 
was sorely in need of assistance. The 7th Brigade were 
immediately dispatched, rode off as fast as the wooded 
country rendered possible, and were placed on the left 
of AUenby's line, which they held till nightfall. Some 
time later the 6th Brigade received a further message 
that sent them galloping down the Menin road to 
Veldhoek. The line of the 1st Division had been broken, 
and Gheluvelt was in the hands of the enemy. 

Troops of the 3rd Brigade, under Brigadier-General 
Landon, had been defending the village. On their 



THE FIRST BATTLE FOR YPRES 133 

right lay General Capper's 7th Division, on their left 
more troops of the 3rd and 1st Brigades. It was not 
long after daybreak when artillery thundering just south 
of Gheluvelt betokened the advance and assault of 
Moussy. Presently the cannonading spread to where 
the 3rd Brigade was posted. An artillery bombardment 
was maintained for some time, until the advance of 
German infantry along the Menin road brought about 
sharp hand-to-hand fighting in the neighbourhood of 
the famous cross-roads just east of the village. The 
struggle for some hours swayed to and fro in attack 
and counter-attack. The booming of guns, the shells 
soaring overhead, the explosions, the crackling of rifles 
in the woods, the deep droning note of aeroplanes, 
formed a medley of sound nerve-shattering to the 
spectator, but unheeded by the combatants in deadly 
warfare of point-blank rifle-shot, of bayonet or sword. 
At length, however, the German assault began suddenly 
to develop. British counter-attacks could make no 
headway. Great forces of the enemy swarmed forward, 
following the direction of the Menin road, and within 
a short time, in spite of desperate resistance, at some 
places swept over the trenches like a tide. The Cold- 
stream Guards were cut up terribly : the Royal West 
Surreys, driven in on both flanks, were nearly sur- 
rounded, and lost their colonel. In the village itself 
the Welsh Regiment could hardly hold their own. The 
line was broken, and the danger was great. But Lomax 
and his 1st Division had been through the retreat from 
Mons, and knew the secrets of orderly and timely 
retirement which, even while dissolution threatened, 
would wrest victory from their foes. Each regiment had 
a record that for retreat had precedents, but for rout 
none : and each upheld that record upon this day. 



134 GHELUVELT : THE CRISIS OF 

Lomax extricated his two brigades, hard pressed, and 
retired westwards from Gheluvelt. The 6th Cavahy 
Brigade came galloping down to their support. Other 
reserves there were none to spare, for every portion of 
Sir Douglas Haig's line was now engaged, and south 
of the Menin road the 7th Division and the 2nd Brigade, 
on General Moussy's left, were being heavily shelled. 
Meanwhile, the Germans had swept forward, and had 
taken possession of Gheluvelt. As their advance 
threatened the left wing of the 7th Division, retirement 
became imperative, and Capper drew back on this 
flank, though not without loss. The Royal Scots 
Fusiliers, of the 21st Brigade, had, upon the retirement 
of the 1st Division, remained doggedly in their trenches. 
The Germans began to close round their rear. Brigadier- 
General Watts, upon receiving orders to retreat, tried 
to telephone to Colonel Baird-Smith, the battalion 
commander, but the wire had been cut by shrapnel. 
Two orderlies were dispatched, who, however, met 
death or wounds upon the way, and Baird-Smith, 
receiving no instructions to withdraw, held his ground. 
For a long time the Royal Scots made a gallant but 
unavailing stand, fighting, hemmed in on all sides, 
desperately to the end. It is recorded that, when later, 
with a few survivors, Baird-Smith had been taken off 
as a prisoner, a German general came up and con- 
gratulated him, with words expressing wonder how his 
men had held out so long. Meanwhile, the retirement 
of the rest of the brigade had been conducted successfully. 
No sooner, however, had Capper extricated and secured 
his left wing, than masses of German infantry began to 
assail desperately his right. 

It was now well after noon. The 1st Division was 
still struggling hard to maintain ground, but was being 



THE FIRST BATTLE FOR YPRES 135 

driven back slowly by overwhelming numbers of the 
enemy. A desperate conflict raged for a long time in 
the Polygone Wood. To Lomax, and to Monro of the 
2nd Division, the seriousness of the position was 
apparent. The messages that flashed continually along 
the wires to their head- quarters at Hooge spoke always 
of tremendous odds and of inevitable retirement. The 
air, even around the Generals' head-quarters, was alive 
with shell and shrapnel. Shortly before two o'clock the 
building was struck. Whether spy or aeroplane 
signalled the range to the German artillery, that range 
was effectually mastered, and shells began to fall upon 
the head-quarters with deadly accuracy. Plans, maps, 
and papers were scattered amid the debris. Lomax 
was wounded, struck by a fragment of shell, and six 
staff officers, three of the 1st and three of the 2nd 
Division, fell, killed outright. Monro, dazed by the 
shock, staggered about in the smoke and fumes, and fell 
unconscious. Orderlies and ambulance men hastened 
up. Brigadier-General Landon for a time assumed 
command of the 1st Division, attacks upon whose front 
were still being pressed as violently as ever. Fighting 
was raging fiercely in the woods of Veldhoek, scarred 
and torn by shrapnel. But so severe was the pressure 
that the British were forced steadily back. 

Meanwhile, the enemy had been assailing the right 
of the 7th Division, constituted by the 22nd Brigade, 
holding a line in the neighbourhood of Klein Zillebeke. 
This division, which gained, during its operations with 
Sir Henry Rawlinson in the neighbourhood of Ghent, 
and with Sir Douglas Haig in the neighbourhood of 
Ypres, a fame as glorious as that of any other division 
in all British military annals, was commanded by 
a general of unusual characteristics and attainments. 



136 GHELUVELT : THE CRISIS OF 

Known familiarly among his men as ' Tommy ', Major- 
General Thompson Capper, shortly afterwards raised to 
knighthood, was essentially a fighting leader, so much 
so, indeed, that he laid himself open to the reproach of 
spending too much time in the fighting line with his 
men, and too little time at his own head-quarters. He 
gloried to be fighting in the cause of freedom, for which 
he considered any life cheap. His division in its 
operations during October and November 1914 was 
reduced to a fifth of its numbers : Capper himself met 
death, to which he was stoically indifferent, nearly 
a year later at the Battle of Loos. On this day, however, 
between the 7 th Division and the French under Moussy 
were the 2nd and 4th Brigades, under Major-General 
Bulfin. Beneath a hail of exploding shells, of bursting 
shrapnel, of whistling bullets, the British held their 
ground for some time, but at length the 22nd Brigade 
was forced back. General Capper, however, had 
brought up his reserve battalions to this right flank, 
and he hurried them forward to restore the line. Before 
they came into action, Bulfin realized that his left flank, 
the 2nd Brigade, which had touched the right of the 
22nd Brigade, was exposed to the enfilade fire of the 
enemy bursting through the gap. His line lay upon 
a ridge, and he could not fight upon two fronts : he was 
therefore forced to withdraw. Meanwhile, Capper's 
counter-attack, after a sharp action in Avhich several 
machine-guns were captured, had proved successful, and 
thus the right of the 7th Division advanced as the left 
of the 2nd Brigade retired. The former troops, regaining 
their old trenches, found their right wing exposed. 
The Germans, however, were not pressing their attack 
so heavily, and the British were able to maintain the 
recovered ground. But the gap formed between Bulfin 



THE FIRST BATTLE FOR YPRES 137 

and Capper had enabled large bodies of the enemy to 
penetrate into the heavily wooded ground east of 
Zillebeke and in Moussy's rear. One large force, a 
battalion strong, soon began to advance upon the 
village of Zillebeke itself. 

It was now after two o'clock, and the Commander-in- 
Chief himself, alive to the grave danger of the position, 
had come upon the scene. Haig's centre was being 
driven in : his right wing was hard pressed, and one 
portion had withdrawn : large numbers of the enemy 
had penetrated into the woods in the rear, and were, 
did they but know it, within reach of Sir John French 
himself at Hooge. There were no reserves available 
to relieve this perilous situation. The shadows of 
disaster seemed to be gathering thickly around. But 
there was one chance, however slender, of retrieving 
the day. Though the right and centre were being 
hotly attacked, the left was only slightly engaged. 
A thick column of the enemy had torn its way through 
the centre and pressed on. If troops on the left, 
comparatively fresh, could strike hard at the right 
flank of that protruding column, if they could cut 
through it, could recapture Gheluvelt, could check the 
advance of the enemy, large forces of the latter would 
be surrounded, their offensive would be broken, and 
time, if only a breathing-space, would be gained in which 
to re-form the scattered lines, and to seek reinforcements 
from the French. Those scattered British lines were, 
indeed, in need of reforming. In the stress of counter- 
attack, of continual retirement, of fierce hand-to-hand 
fighting, many units had become inextricably mixed, 
and at some threatened points officers had had to collect 
and throw into the fighting whatever men they could, 
regardless of regiment or brigade. English, Scottish, 



138 GHELUVELT : THE CRISIS OF 

Irish, or Welsh would be jumbled hopelessly together 
in the same trench under the orders of some unknown 
subaltern : or a brigadier might at one time find himself 
in command of a few companies, at another time in 
control of a division. Monro's 2nd Division was, how- 
ever, in more or less good formation. While part of 
his force could check by hot enfilade fire the advance of 
the Germans against the retreating 1st Division, other 
battalions must deliver at once that flank attack upon 
which the very existence of the 1st Corps was staked. 
It might not be unwise, in case of failure, for some 
artillery batteries to withdraw already behind Ypres 
to cover any retreat. But there was no time to lose. 
A little while later, at about half-past two. General 
Lomax, who had, in spite of his wound, resumed com- 
mand of the 1st Division, reported to Hooge that he was 
again moving back, and that the enemy were coming 
on in great strength. He was ordered to take up a line 
roughly constituted by the road which ran from Frezen- 
berg through Eksternest southwards to the Menin road. 
This line must be held at all costs. 

Von Deimling had reason to congratulate himself 
now on being almost in sight of complete success. His 
objective seemed within easy reach. His men were 
swarming on, and the British were going back. He 
could already look forward to honours more to be 
desired even than the Iron Cross, distributed as it was 
rather too lavishly among fellow generals much less 
worthy than himself, and to imperial congratulations 
for a victory Avon before the War Lord's eyes. Germany 
might mourn great losses : but the name and the fame 
of von Deimling would resound from the Vistula to the 
Rhine. 

Meanwhile, some extraordinary happenings were in 



THE FIRST BATTLE FOR YPRES 139 

progress on the right of Haig's line. General Moussy 
had discovered the presence in his rear of large bodies 
of the enemy, and he was soon informed that one 
detachment was making for Zillebeke. The French 
Ganeral was in great straits, for every available man 
he had was already in the fighting line. He sent back 
for reinforcements, but in vain. Finally, forming a 
desperate resolve, he ordered the corporal of his escort 
to collect whatever men he could, whether armed or 
unarmed, no matter what their business. Moussy had 
seen eight campaigns during nearly sixty years of life, 
and if this was to be his last he intended that France 
should not be able to reproach his name with neglect of 
any possible expedient that might avert the threatened 
disaster. The corporal and his men scoured the imme- 
diate countryside and appealed to every man they met 
with. Cooks in the bivouac and Army Service Corps 
men, hewers of wood and drawers of water, were requisi- 
tioned for the enterprise, and paraded, mostly, it is said, 
without arms, to the number of some 250, before the 
General. The 65 Cuirassiers of his escort were dis- 
mounted. Their gleaming breastplates and helmets 
with flowing mane, their high cavalry boots and their 
sabres, set off effectually the motley appearance of their 
ill-equipped comrades. Moussy guided his detachment 
stealthily towards Zillebeke, and caught the Germans, 
a battalion strong, by surprise. The French swept 
forward shouting, led by the General and his corporal, 
and the demoralized Germans fled before them as 
Englishmen had once fled before the camp-followers of 
Bruce at Bannockburn. They retired to the woods in 
disorder. There they still constituted a danger, but 
Moussy was soon relieved from anxiety on this score. 
Eight squadrons of the 6th Cavalry Brigade came 



140 GHELUVELT : THE CRISIS OF 

galloping down to clear the woods. Their services as 
supports to the 1st Division had been dispensed with ; 
for Gheluvelt had been recaptured, and the German 
assault had been broken. 

French's plan had succeeded. The right wing of the 
2nd Division and part of the 1st Division had advanced 
rapidly from the north, and had fallen upon Gheluvelt 
and the German right flank. There was a series of 
fierce bayonet charges, with the Worcesters to the fore. 
The regiment which Wellington had named the best in 
the army gained laurels now equally as honourable as 
those which had drawn such praise in the Peninsular 
campaigns. Closely supported by the 42nd Artillery 
Brigade and the Oxfordshire Light Infantry, the 
Worcesters, led by Major Hankey, rushed doAvn upon 
Gheluvelt under a very heavy fusillade. They forced 
the Germans out of the Chateau and its grounds at the 
point of the bayonet, and fierce fighting followed in the 
streets. But the issue Avas never in doubt, and the 
enemy were soon driven headlong from the village. 
At other points the counter-attack had been equally 
successful. The 1st Division rallied, in accordance with 
orders, on the line of the woods east of where the Menin 
road bent round towards Ypres, and here stood their 
ground stubbornly, until presently the expected enfilade 
fire from the north checked assaults upon their front. 
The Germans were now in danger of being cut off by 
the capture of Gheluvelt, and the British attack from 
the north had prevailed. Everywhere the enemy's 
offensive was broken and his discomfited infantry forced 
to withdraw. The 7th Division followed in their wake 
almost as far as its original line, where it entrenched, 
while the 1st Division advanced and re-established 
connexion on the left. The menace of the enemy in 



THE FIRST BATTLE FOR YPRES 141 

the woods between Hooge and Klein Zillebeke was at 
once dealt with. Two regiments of Makins's 6th Cavalry 
Brigade, in eight squadrons, were sent in this direction, 
and had a short but most successful engagement. 
Advancing with dash and vigour, some mounted, others 
dismounted, they took the enemy by surprise, and 
killed and wounded large numbers. The woods having 
been cleared effectually, the cavalry occupied the gap 
between the 7th Division and the 2nd Brigade. The 
line was now quite restored, and the crisis was over. 
Long and terrible had been the struggle, and those who 
survived it could justifiably feel that hardly any other 
conflict in the war had been more desperately fought, 
or had had issues more momentous in the balance. 
As evening drew on, the enemy were forced back steadily 
from the woods in front of the 7th Division, where they 
threatened to concentrate, and by ten o'clock prac- 
tically all the line as held in the morning had been 
reoccupied. To the south, as the weary men sought 
what rest was possible, guns thundered and battle raged 
as loudly as ever : the Germans, by the light of a blazing 
haystack, had come into touch with the London Scottish. 



JUAN FEHNANDEZ I? 
• ^Juan Fernandex. 

Mae a Fuera 




ort Stanley 



S^C Horn 



SOUTHERN SOUTH AMEZRICA 



CORONEL AND THE FALKLAND 
ISLANDS 

THE STRUGGLE FOR THE PACIFIC TRADE 
ROUTES 

In 1592, John Davis, the arctic explorer, after whom 
the strait between Greenland and the North American 
mainland is named, made an attempt, in company with 
Thomas Cavendish, to find a new route to Asia by the 
Straits of Magellan. Differences arose between the two 
leaders. One was an explorer : the other had a tendency 
towards freebooting. They parted off the coast of 
Patagonia Davis, driven out of his course by stormy 
weather, found himself among a cluster of unknown and 
uninhabited islands, some three hundred miles east of 
the Straits of Magellan. This group, after many 
changes and vicissitudes, passed finally into the hands 
of Great Britain, and became known as the Falkland 
Islands. 

They consist of two large islands and of about one 
hundred islets, rocks, and sandbanks. The fragments 
of many wrecks testify to the dangers of navigation, 
though masses of giant seaweed act as buoys for many 
of the rocks. So numerous are the penguins, thronging 
in battalions the smaller islands and the inland lagoons, 
that the governor of the colony is nicknamed King of 
the Penguins. As New Zealand is said to be the most 
English of British possessions, the Falklands may 



144 CORONEL AND THE 

perhaps be appropriately termed the most Scottish. Their 
general appearance resembles that of the Outer Hebrides. 
Of the population, who number some 2,000, a large 
proportion are of Scottish extraction. The climate is 
not unlike that of the north-west of Scotland. The 
winters are misty and rainy, but not excessively cold. 
So violent are the winds that it is said to be impos- 
sible to play tennis or croquet, unless walls are erected as 
shelter, while cabbages grown in the kitchen-gardens of 
the shepherds, the only cultivated ground, are at times 
uprooted and scattered like straw. The surface, much 
of which is bogland, is in some parts mountainous, and 
is generally wild and rugged. Small streams and 
shallow freshwater tarns abound. A natural curiosity, 
regarded with great wonder, exists in ' stone-rivers ' ; 
long, glistening lines of quartzite rock debris, which, with- 
out the aid of water, slide gradually to lower levels. 
There are no roads. Innumerable sheep, the familiar 
Cheviots and Southdowns, graze upon the wild scurvy- 
grass and sorrel. The colony is destitute of trees, and 
possesses but few shrubs. The one tree that the Islands 
can boast, an object of much care and curiosity, stands 
in the Governor "s garden. The seat of government, 
and the only to^n, is Port Stanley, with a population 
of about 950. Its general aspect recalls a small town 
of the western highlands of Scotland. Many of the 
houses, square, a\ hite-washed, and grey-slated, possess 
small greenhouse-porches, gay with fuchsias and pelar- 
goniums, in pleasing contrast to the prevailing barrenness. 
A small cathedral, Christ Church, and an imposing 
barracks, generally occupied by a company of marines, 
stand in the midst of the town. The Government 
House might be taken for an Orkney or Shetland 
manse. The administration of the colony and of its 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 145 

dependencies is vested in a Governor, aided by a Colonial 
Secretary, and by an executive and a legislative council. 
The Governor acts as Chief Justice, and the Colonial 
Secretary as Police Magistrate. There is a local jail, 
capable of accommodating six offenders at a time. Its 
resources are not stated, however, to be habitually 
strained. Education is compulsory : the Government 
maintains schools and travelling teachers. The inhabi- 
tants are principally engaged in sheep-farming and 
seafaring industries. The colony is prosperous, with 
a trade that of late years has grown with extraordinary 
rapidity. The dividends paid by the Falkland Islands 
Company might excite the envy of many a London 
director. Stanley's importance has been increased by 
the erection of wireless installation; and as a coaling 
and refitting station for vessels rounding the Horn, the 
harbour, large, safe, and accessible, is of immense value. 
To this remote outpost of empire came tidings of 
war in August, 1914. Great excitement and enthusiasm 
prevailed. News was very slow in getting through : 
the mails, usually a month in transit, became very 
erratic. But the colony eagerly undertook a share in 
the burden of the Empire ; £2,250 was voted towards 
the war-chest ; £750 was collected on behalf of the 
Prince of Wales's Fund. Detached, though keen, interest 
changed, however, as the weeks passed, to intimate 
alarm. The Governor, Mr. Allardyce, received a wire- 
less message from the Admiralty that he must expect 
a raid. German cruisers were suspected to be in the 
neighbourhood. Never before had the colony known 
such bustle and such excitement. They, the inhabitants 
of the remote Falklands, were to play a part in the 
struggle that was tugging at the roots of the world's 
civilization. The exhilaration of expectancy and of 

IS j^ 



146 CORONEL AND THE 

danger broke suddenly into their uneventful, though 
not easy, lives. But there was cause for keen anxiety. 
The colonists were, however, reassured for a time by 
a visit from three British warships, the cruisers Good 
Hope, Monmouth, and Glasgow, with the armed liner 
Otranto. 

The Good Hope had, at the declaration of war, been 
patrolling the Irish coast. She was ordered to sweep 
the Atlantic trade routes for hostile cruisers. She 
reached the coast of North America, after many false 
alarms, stopping English merchantmen on the way, 
and informing the astonished skippers of the war and 
of their course in consequence. When forty miles east 
of New York, Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock 
came aboard with his staff, and hoisted his flag. The 
Admiral turned southwards, sweeping constantly for 
the enemy. Passing through the West Indies, he 
proceeded to the coast of Brazil. Here he was joined 
by the Glasgow. The Good Hope had picked up the 
Monmouth previously. The three ships, accompanied 
by the auxiliary cruiser Otranto, kept a southerly course. 
The discovery at Pernambuco of twenty-three German 
merchantmen snugly ensconced behind the breakwater, 
in neutral harbour, proved very galling. The Straits 
of Magellan and the cold Tierra del Fuego were at length 
reached. The squadron was on the scent of three 
German cruisers, the Leipzig, Dresden, and Nilrnberg. 
It was suspected that they had gone to coal in this 
remote corner of the oceans. Their secret and friendly 
wireless stations were heard talking in code. The 
British made swoops upon wild and unsurveyed bays 
and inlets. The land around was covered with ice and 
snow, and the many huge glaciers formed a sight 
wonderful to behold. But the search had proved fruit- 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 147 

less. After rounding the Horn several times, the 
squadron had turned towards the Falklands. 

The inhabitants could not long rely, however, upon 
these powerful guardians. The squadron, after coaling, 
departed, again bound for the Straits of Magellan and 
the Pacific. Its strength was certainly adequate to 
tackle with success the three German ships believed to 
be in the vicinity. The colony could depend upon 
Admiral Cradock to protect it to the best of his ability. 
But it was not improbable that the enemy might evade 
the patrolling cruisers, and descend upon the hapless 
Falklands without warning. The Governor saw the 
advisability of instant preparation. On October 19 he 
issued a notice that all women and children were to 
leave Stanley. Provisions, stores, and clothes were 
hastily removed into the interior, which was locally 
termed the ' camp '. The colony possessed a Volunteer 
Rifle Company, some 120 strong, and two nine-pounder 
field-guns. Further volunteers were enrolled and 
armed. Suddenly, on November 3, an alarming wire- 
less message was received. The Good Hope and the 
Monmouth were reported to have been sunk off the 
coast of Chili. It was unsigned. There was no proof 
of its authenticity. But the next day another message 
followed from the captain of the Glasgow. The disaster 
was confirmed. The Glasgmv, in company with H.M.S. 
Canopus, was running with all speed for the Falklands. 
They were probably being followed by the victorious 
Germans. Four days of acute suspense followed. The 
situation seemed critical. The Governor passed several 
nights without taking off his clothes, in expectancy of 
wireless messages that needed instant decoding. People 
slept beside their telephones. Early in the morning of 
Sunday, November 8, the two warships arrived. 

K2 



148 CORONEL AND THE 

The Glasgow was badly damaged. An enormous hole, 
three feet by nine feet, gaped in her side. A shell had 
wrecked Captain Luce's cabin, giving off fumes such as 
rendered unconscious several men who rushed in to put 
out the fire. The vessel had escaped any serious out- 
break, however, and had suffered only four slight casual- 
ties. Warm tributes were paid by the captain to the 
cool and disciplined conduct of both officers and men. 
The Canopus had not been engaged. But a narrative 
of the preceding events may now be appropriate. 

Vice-Admiral the Graf Maximilian von Spec was in 
command, at the outbreak of hostilities, of the German 
China fleet stationed at Tsing-tao. A successor, indeed, 
had been appointed, and Avas on the way to relieve him. 
But just before war was declared von Spec and his 
squadron steamed off into the open seas. To remain 
at Tsing-tao while vastly superior forces were closing 
in upon him would be to little purpose. Commerce 
raiding offered a field for rendering valuable service tc 
the Fatherland. The Emden was dispatched to the 
southern seas. The Leipzig and the Nurnberg proceeded 
across the Pacific, and began to prey upon the western 
coast of South America. Half the maritime trade of 
ChiU was carried in English ships. Many of them 
might be seized and destroyed at little risk. The 
Admiral, with his two remaining vessels, the Sdiarnhorst 
and the Gneisenau, successfully evaded the hostile fleets 
for some time. On September 14 he touched at Apia, 
in German Samoa, familiar to readers of Robert Louis 
Stevenson. It could be remembered how, fifteen years 
before, this colony, shortly to fall before a New Zealand 
expeditionary force, had been a bone of contention be- 
tween Great Britain and Germany. Captain Sturdee, 
whom von Spee was soon to meet in more arduoug 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 149 

operations, had on that occasion commanded the British 
force in the tribal warfare. Eight days later, on Sep- 
tember 22, the two German cruisers arrived off Papeete, 
in Tahiti, one of the loveliest of Pacific islands. A small 
disarmed French gunboat lying there was sunk, and the 
town was bombarded. The Admiral, planning a con- 
centration of German ships, then steamed east across 
the Pacific. He got into touch with friendly vessels. 
By skilful manoeuvring he finally brought five war- 
ships, with colliers, together near Valparaiso. 

The German ships were all of recent construction. 
The Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau were armoured 
cruisers of 11,600 tons. The Leipzig, the Nurnberg, and 
the Dresden were light cruisers of about 3,500 tons. 
The armament of the larger vessels included eight 
8'2-inch and six 6-inch guns. The smaller relied upon 
either ten or twelve 4-inch pieces. Each ship carried 
torpedo tubes, and the speed of each was about twenty- 
two or twenty- three knots an hour. The Dresden, 
however, could go to twenty-seven knots. The squadron 
possessed all-important allies. Several German mer- 
chant-marine companies, notably the Kosmos, pHed 
along the Chilian coast. The tonnage of their vessels, 
indeed, amounted to no less than half that of the 
English companies. The advance of German enterprise 
in Chili in recent years had been very marked. Von 
Spee's great stumbling-block was coal. The laws of 
war prevented him from sending more than three of 
his warships into a neutral port at the same time, from 
staying there more than twenty-four hours, from 
taking more coal than was necessary to reach the 
nearest German harbour, from coaUng again for three 
months at a port of the same nationality. But if Ger- 
man merchantmen, hampered by no such restrictions, 



150 CORONEL AND THE 

could constantly renew his supplies, the difficulty 
of fuel could be to some extent met. Provisions and 
secret information as to British movements could also 
be obtained through the same source. Such employ- 
ment of merchantmen, however, being contrary to 
international law, would have to be clandestine. The 
great Pacific coast offered numerous harbours and 
abundant facilities for being utilized as a base under 
such conditions. It showed many historic precedents 
for bold and adventurous exploits which could not fail 
to appeal to an admiral whose family, ennobled by the 
Emperor Charles VI, took pride in its ancient and 
aristocratic lineage. The occasion seemed opportune, 
moreover, for the accomplishment, by himself, his 
officers, and men, of deeds which should inspire their 
posterity as British naval traditions, for lack of other, 
at present inspired them. They could recall how, on 
this very coast, in 1578-9, Drake, the master raider, 
had seized a Spanish treasure-ship off Valdivia, had 
descended like a hawk upon Callao, had pounced upon 
another great galleon, taking nearly a million pounds 
in gold and silver ; and how the intrepid mariner, 
sailing off into the unknown ocean, had circumnavigated 
the globe, while the furious de Toledo waited, with 
eleven warships, in the Straits of Magellan. Why, 
indeed, should not the Germans imitate, in the twentieth 
century, the deeds of Drake in the sixteenth ? If they 
preyed ruthlessly upon English merchantmen, laden 
with the wealth of the West, if they made a descent 
upon the Falkland Islands, if then they were to dis- 
appear into the wide Pacific, a career of sj)lendid adven- 
ture and of unbounded rsefulness would earn for them 
both the respect and the plaudits of the world. Australian 
and Japanese warships were sweeping the eastern Pacific 



I 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 151 

for them. Many British vessels, called from useful 
employment elsewhere, would have to join in the search 
for them. But so vast was the area that they might elude 
their enemies for months. British ships were already 
cruising near the Horn, possibly unaware that a con- 
centration of the Germans had been effected. It was not 
unHkely that von Spee might be able to cut off and to 
destroy stray units of the patrolling squadrons. The Graf 
could see many opportunities of serving effectively the 
cause of the Fatherland. He must utilize them to the full. 
Sir Christopher Cradock, meanwhile, had rounded 
the Horn once more, and was cruising northwards up 
the coast of Chili. That coast, indeed, once the haunt 
of corsairs and filibusters, was rich in historic associa- 
tions and in natural beauties. An element of grandeur 
and of mystery seemed to hover around the countless 
ridges and peaks of the Andes, stretching, with the 
gleam of their eternal snows, for four thousand miles, 
and gazing down across the illimitable waters of the 
Occident. Upon the plateaux, miles above sea level, 
stood old stone temples and pyramids which rivalled 
in massiveness and ingenuity those of Egypt and of 
Babylon. The student of ancient civilizations could 
trace, in the mystic deities of the Incas and Araucanians, 
a strange similarity to the deities of the Chaldeans and 
Babylonians. Speculation upon this analogy formed 
a fascinating theme. This coast, too, was sacred to 
memories that could not but be dear to sailors as 
gallant and daring as Cradock, since his services in 
China, in 1900, was known to be. Among other 
familiar British names, Cochrane, Lord Dundonald, 
had won enduring glory in the struggle for Chilian 
independence, nearly a hundred years before. The 
conditions of naval warfare had, indeed, through the 



152 CORONEL AND THE 

introduction of armour and the perfection of weapons, 
radically changed since Cochrane, in a series of singularly 
audacious exploits, had overcome the fleets of Spain. 
Sea-fighting had become purely a matter of science. The 
object of strategy was to concentrate faster ships and 
more powerful guns against weaker force. The odds 
with which Cradock was to contend against the Germans 
were greater in proportion, if less in bulk, than the odds 
with which Cochrane had contended, with his peasant 
crews and his hulks, against the Spanish ' wooden- 
walls '. Admiral Cradock now knew that there were 
two more cruisers in the neighbourhood than had at 
first been supposed. The Canopus had accordingly 
been sent to join his squadron. But she was a battle- 
ship, and much slower than the cruisers. She could 
travel no faster than at eighteen knots. Cradock pro- 
ceeded northwards, ahead of the Canopus, made a 
rendezvous off Concep9ion Bay for his colliers, and 
went into Coronel and on to Valparaiso to pick up 
news and receive letters. The squadron then returned 
to the rendezvous and coaled. This completed, the 
Admiral directed the Glasgow to proceed again to 
Coronel to disj)atch certain cables. Captain Luce duly 
carried out his mission, and left Coronel at nine o'clock 
on Sunday mornhig, November 1, steaming northwards 
to rejoin the other ships. A gale was rising. The wind 
was blowing strongl}" from the south. Heavy seas 
continually buffeted the vessel. At two o'clock a wire- 
less signal Mas received from the Good Hoj^e. Appar- 
ently from wireless calls there was an enemy ship to 
northAvard. The squadron must spread out in line, 
proceeding in a direction north-east-by-east, the flag- 
ship forming one extremity, the Glasgow the other. It 
was to move at fifteen knots. At twenty minutes past 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 163 

four in the afternoon, smoke was observed upon the 
horizon. The Glasgow put on speed and approached. 
Officers soon made out the funnels of four cruisers. 
It was the enemy. The Germans, their big armoured 
cruisers leading, and the smaller behind, gave chase. 

The Glasgow swept round to northward, calling to 
the flagship with her wireless. Von Spee, anticipating 
this move, at once set his wireless in operation, in order 
to jamb the British signals. Captain Luce soon picked 
up the Monmouth and the Otranto, and the three ships 
raced northwards towards the flagship, the Glasgow 
leading. At about five o'clock the Good Hope was seen 
approaching. The three ships wheeled into line behind 
her, and the whole squadron now proceeded south. 
Von Spee, coming up from that direction in line ahead, 
about twelve miles off, changed his course and also 
proceeded south, keeping nearer to the coast. The 
wind was now blowing almost with the force of a hurri- 
cane. So heavy was the sea that small boats would 
have been unable to keep afloat. But the sky was 
not completely overcast, and the sun was shining. 
Firing had not opened. The washing of the seas and 
the roaring of the wind deafened the ear to other sounds. 
The warship of to-day, when her great turbines are 
whirling round at their highest speed, moves without 
throb and almost without vibration through the waves. 
The two squadrons, drawing level, the Germans nearer 
to the coast, raced in the teeth of the gale, in two 
parallel lines, to the south. 

Sir Christopher Cradock could not but realize that the 
situation was hazardous. He had three vessels capable 
of fighting men-of-war. The Otranto was only an armed 
liner, and must withdraw when the battle developed. 
The Good Hope displaced some 14,000 tons, and was 



154 CORONEL AND THE 

armed with two 9-2-inch and sixteen 6-inch guns. The 
Monmouth, with a tonnage of 9,800, carried fourteen 
6-inch pieces, but the Glasgow, a ship of 4,800 tons, had 
only two of the 6-inch weapons. It was certain that the 
German 8-2-inch guns, if the shooting was at all good, 
would be found to outrange and outclass the British. 
Cradock was certainly at a disadvantage in gun- 
power. His protective armour was weaker than that 
of the enemy. Nor did his speed give him any 
superiority. Though the Glasgow was capable of twenty- 
six knots, the flagship and the Monmouth could only go 
to twenty- three. But there was another consideration 
which the Admiral might weigh. Coming slowly up 
from the south, but probably still a considerable distance 
ofE, was the battleship Canopus. Her presence would 
give the British a decided preponderance. She was 
a vessel of some 13,000 tons, and her armament included 
four 12-inch and twelve 6-inch pieces. How far was she 
away ? How soon could she arrive upon the scene ? 
Evening was closing in. Cradock was steering hard in 
her direction. If the British, engaging the enemy 
immediately, could keep them in play throughout the 
night, when firing must necessarily be desultory, perhaps 
morning would bring the Canopus hastening into the 
action. It was possible that the Germans did not know 
of her proximity. They might, accepting the contest, 
and expecting to cripple the British next morning at 
their leisure, find themselves trapped. But in any case 
they should not be allowed to proceed without some 
such attempt being made to destroy them. It must 
not be said that, because the enemy was in greater force, 
a British squadron had taken to flight. Perhaps it 
would be better, since darkness would afford little oppor- 
tunity of manoeuvring for action, to draw nearer and to 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 165 

engage fairly soon. It was about a quarter past six. 
The Germans were about 15,000 yards distant. Cradock 
ordered the speed of his squadron to seventeen knots. 
He then signalled by wireless to the Canopus, ' I am 
going to attack enemy now '. 

The sun was setting. The western horizon was mantled 
by a canopy of gold. Von Spee's manoeuvre in closing 
in nearer to the shore had placed him in an advantageous 
position as regards the light. The British ships, when 
the sun had set, were sharply outlined against the 
glowing sky. The Germans were partly hidden in the 
failing light and by the mountainous coast. The island 
of Santa Maria, off Coronel, lay in the distance. Von 
Spee had been gradually closing to within 12,000 yards. 
The appropriate moment for engaging seemed to be 
approaching. A few minutes after sunset, about seven 
o'clock, the leading German cruiser opened fire with 
her largest guns. Shells shrieked over and short of the 
Good Hope, some falling within five hundred yards. As 
battle was now imminent, the Otranto began to haul 
out of line, and to edge away to the south-west. The 
squadrons were converging rapidly, but the smaller 
cruisers were as yet out of range. The British replied 
in quick succession to the German fire. As the distance 
lessened, each ship engaged that opposite in the line. 
The Good Hope and the Monmouth had to bear the brunt 
of the broadsides of the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau. 
The Glasgow, in the rear, exchanged shots with the light 
cruisers, the Leipzig and the Dresden. The shooting was 
deadly. The third of the rapid salvos of the enemy 
armoured cruisers set the Good Hope and the Monmouth 
afire. Shells began to find their mark, some exploding 
overhead and bursting in all directions. In about ten 
minutes the Monmouth sheered ofE the line to westward 



156 CORONEL AND THE 

about one hundred yards. She was being hit heavily. 
Her foremost turret, shielding one of her 6-inch guns, 
was in flames. She seemed to be reeling and shaking. 
She fell back into line, however, and then out again 
to eastward, her 6-inch guns roaring intermittently. 
Darkness was now gathering fast. The range had 
narrowed to about 5,000 yards. The seven ships were 
all in action. Many shells striking the sea sent up 
columns of white spray, showing weirdly in the twilight. 
It was an impressive scene. The dim light, the heavy 
seas, the rolling of the vessels, distracted the aim. 
Some of the guns upon the main decks, being near the 
water-line, became with each roll almost awash. The 
British could fire only at the flashes of the enemy's guns. 
Often the heavy head seas hid even the flashes from the 
gunlayers. It was impossible to gauge the effect of 
their shells. The fore-turret of the Good Hope burst 
into flames, and she began to fall away out of line 
towards the enemy. The Glasgow kept up a continual 
fire upon the German light cruisers with one of her 
6-inch guns and her port batteries. A shell struck her 
below deck, and men waited for the planks to rise. No 
explosion nor fire, however, occurred. But the British 
flagship was now burning brightly forward, and was 
falling more and more out of line to eastward. It was 
about a quarter to eight. Suddenly there was the roar 
of an explosion. The part about the Good Hope's after- 
funnel split asunder, and a column of flame, sparks, and 
debris was blown up to a height of about two hundred 
feet. She never fired her guns again. Total destruction 
must have followed. Sir Christopher Cradock and 
nine hundred brave sailors went down in the stormy 
deep. The other ships raced past her in the darkness. 
The Momnouth was in great distress. She left the line 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 167 

after a while, and turned back, steaming with difficulty 
to north-west. She had ceased firing. The vessels had 
been travelling at a rate which varied from seven to 
seventeen knots. The Glasgow, now left alone, eased 
her speed in order to avoid shells intended for the 
Monmouth. The Germans dropped slowly back. The 
Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau now concentrated their 
salvos upon the Glasgow. The range was about 4,600 
yards. A shell struck the second funnel : five others 
hit her side at the waterline, but fortunately not in 
dangerous places. Luce, her captain, since the flagship 
was no more, was senior officer. He brought his vessel 
round and moved rapidly back. 

The Monmouth had now fallen away to a north- 
easterly course. Luce stood by signalling, Could she 
steer north-west ? She was making water badly 
forward. Captain Brandt answered, and he wanted to 
get stern to sea. The enemy were following. Luce 
signalled again. There was no reply. The Glasgow 
steamed nearer. The Monmouth was in a sinking 
condition. Her bows were under water, and the men 
were assembled at the stern. The sea was running very 
high. Rain and mist had come on, though a moon was 
now rising. The enemy had altered course, and were 
approaching in line abreast about 6,000 yards away. 
A light kept twinkling at regular intervals from one 
of the ships. They were signalling in Morse, and 
evidently were forming plans of action. Firing was 
still proceeding intermittently. It was about half -past 
eight. Captain Luce could see nothing for it but to 
abandon the Monmouth to her fate. To rescue her crew, 
under such conditions, was impossible, while to stand 
by and endeavour to defend her would be folly. The 
Glasgow was not armoured, and could not contend with 



158 CORONEL AND THE 

armoured vessels. Of the two guns she possessed 
capable of piercing the enemy's armour, one had been 
put out of action ten minutes after the start. If she 
stayed and fought to the end, 370 good lives, in addition 
to the sufficiently heavy toll of 1,600 in the Good Hope 
and the Monmouth, would be needlessly sacrificed. 
The Ganopus, moreover, must be warned. She was 
coming up from the south to sure destruction. She 
could hardly be expected successfully to combat the 
whole German squadron. Nevertheless, it must have 
been with heavy hearts that the men of the Glasgow 
turned away to seek safety in flight. It is recorded 
that, as they moved off into the darkness, a cheer broke 
forth from the Monmouth's decks. Before the sinking 
vessel became lost to sight another and a third went up. 
At about a quarter past nine the Niirnberg, which had 
not been engaged in the main action, came across the 
Monmouth. It is said that, though in a sinking con- 
dition, the British ship attempted to ram her enemy. 
But the Nurnherg began to bombard her, and she 
capsized. 

The Glasgow steamed off in a north-westerly direction. 
A few minutes before nine the enemy became lost to 
sight. Half an hour later many distant flashes of 
gunfire, the death-struggle of the Monmouth, were seen. 
The play of a searchlight, which lasted a few seconds 
and then disappeared, was also observed. The vessel 
bore round gradually to the south. Her wireless was 
put into operation, and she made efforts to get through 
to the Ganopus. But the Germans had again set 
their apparatus in motion, and the messages were 
jambed. Only after some hours was the Glasgow 
successful. Steaming hard at twenty-four knots through 
the heavy seas, her engines and boilers fortunately being 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 159 

intact, she at length joined the battleship. The two 
ships made straight for the Falkland Islands. 

The news of the disaster stirred great alarm in the 
colony. Before the day on which the ships arrived was 
out the dismay was further increased. The Canopus 
at first expected to stay ten days. Her presence 
provided substantial relief. If the enemy appeared, she 
and even the damaged Glasgow could give a very good 
account of themselves. But during the morning 
Captain Grant of the Canopus received a wireless 
message from the Admiralty. He was to proceed 
immediately to Rio de Janeiro with the Glasgow. The 
Brazilian Government had granted the latter permission 
to enter the dry dock there to make urgent repairs. 
But seven days only were allowed for this purpose. 
In the evening the warships cast off, and steamed away 
to northward. 

Stanley was now in an unenviable situation. A power- 
ful German squadron, flushed with victory, was probably 
making for the Islands. The colony was almost defence- 
less. All the opposition that the enemy would meet 
would be from a few hundred volunteers. A wireless 
message that came through emphasized the imminence 
of the danger. Warnings and instructions were outlined. 
If the enemy landed, the volunteers were to fight. But 
retiring tactics must be adopted. Care should be taken 
to keep out of range of the enemy's big guns. The 
Governor at once called a council of war. There could 
be little doubt that a descent would be made upon the 
colony. The position was full of peril. But resistance 
must certainly be offered. The few women, children, 
and old men who still remained at Stanley must be sent 
away immediately. Fortunately the time of year was 
propitious. November is, indeed, in the Falklands 



160 CORONEL AND THE 

considered the only dry month. The ground is then 
covered with a variety of sweet-scented flowers. Further, 
all the stores it was possible to remove must be taken 
into the ' camp '. Quantities of provisions must be 
hidden away at various points within reach of the town. 
In order to add to the mobility of the defending force, 
it would be well to bring in another hundred horses from 
the ' camp '. Every man should be mounted. These 
measures were duly carried out. Every preparation 
was made and every precaution taken. Everybody 
began to pack up boxes of goods. Clothes, stores, and 
valuables were all taken away to safety. Books, papers, 
and money were removed from the Government offices, 
and from the headquarters of the Falkland Islands 
Company. What was not sent away was buried. The 
official papers and code-books were buried every night, 
and dug up and dried every morning. The Governor's 
tablecloths gave rise to much anxiety. It was thought, 
since they were marked ' G. R.', they would be liable 
to insult by the Germans. They were accordingly 
buried. This conscientious loj^alty, however, proved 
costly. The Governor's silver, wrapped in green baize, 
was, unfortunately, placed in the same hole. The table- 
cloths became mixed up with the baize. The damp got 
through, and the linen was badly stained. There was a 
feeling that the attack would come at dawn. People sat 
up all night, and only went to bed when morning was 
well advanced. All offices were closed and business was 
suspended. This state of tension lasted several days. At 
length, from the look-out post above the town, a warship, 
apparently a cruiser, was seen making straight for the 
wireless station. When she got within range she turned 
broadside on. Her decks were cleared for action. 
There was a call to arms. Church and dockyard 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 161 

bells pealed out the alarm. Non-combatants streamed 
out of the town into the * camp '. The volunteers 
paraded, and lined up with their horses. It would soon 
become a question whether to resist a landing or to 
retire. In any event the men were ready and provided 
with emergency rations. But no firing sounded. Signals 
were exchanged between the vessel and the shore. It 
was a false alarm. The newcomer was H.M.S. Canopus. 

She had proceeded, in accordance with her orders, 
towards Rio de Janeiro with the Glasgow. When two 
days' journey ofiE her destination, however, she received 
another message. She was directed to return and to 
defend the Falklands in case of attack. These instruc- 
tions were received with mingled feelings. To fight 
alone a powerful squadron was by no means an attractive 
prospect. Duty, however, was duty. The Canopus 
turned about, and retraced her passage. She set her 
wireless in operation, and tried to get through to Stanley. 
But for some reason she was unable to do so. It was 
concluded that the Germans had made a raid and had 
destroyed the wireless station. Probably they had 
occupied the town. The outlook seemed serious. The 
Canopus had her instructions, however, and there was 
no drawing back. The decks were cleared for action. 
Ammunition was served out. Guns were loaded and 
trained. With every man at his post the ship steamed 
at full speed into the harbour. Great was the relief 
when it was found that all was well. 

The inhabitants were not less relieved. The presence 
of the battleship was felt to add materially to the 
security of the town. The Germans would probably 
hesitate before attacking a ship of her size. If they 
sustained damage involving loss of fighting efiiciency, 
there was no harbour they could turn to for repair, 

18 T 



162 CORONEL AND THE 

except so far as their seaworthiness was affected. 
Nevertheless, it was almost certain that some raid upon 
the Islands would be attempted. Guns were landed 
from the ship, and measures were taken to make the 
defence as effective as possible. Perhaps if the enemy 
blockaded Stanley, the British would be able to hold 
out until other warships, certain to be sent to avenge 
the defeat, arrived. Relief could hardly be expected for 
two or three weeks. The Falklands formed a very 
distant corner of the Empire. It was doubtful, indeed, 
whether even the ubiquitous German spy had penetrated 
to these remote and barren shores. It could, however, 
be recalled that, in 1882, a German expedition had 
landed on South Georgia, a dependent island of the 
Falklands, eight hundred miles to their south-east, to 
observe the transit of Venus. Upon that same island, 
indeed, another and a quite unsuspicious expedition had 
landed, early in that very month, November. Sir Ernest 
Shackleton, the explorer, had left Buenos Ayres on the 
morning of October 26, on his way across the antarctic 
continent. His little vessel of 230 tons, the Endurancey 
passed through the war zone in safety, and reached 
South Georgia on November 5. He remained for about 
a month before leaving for the lonely tracts for which 
his little party was bound. The island was his last link 
with civilization. Though sub-antarctic, it possessed 
features as up-to-date as electric -light, universal even in 
pigsties and henhouses. And the march of man, it was 
observed, had introduced the familiar animals of the 
farmyard, and even a monkey, into a region whose 
valleys, destitute of tree or shrub, lay clothed with 
perpetual snow. 

Meanwhile, November passed into December without 
any appearance of the Germans off the Falklands. The 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 163 

tension became very much relieved. Women and 
children were brought back to Stanley, after being 
away a month or six weeks. Messages emanating from 
the hostile squadron, registered by the wireless station, 
indicated that the enemy were still in the vicinity. But 
the condition of the colony became again almost normal. 
The relief and security were complete when, at length, 
on Monday, December 7, a powerful British squadron, 
under Vice-Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee, arrived at 
Port Stanley. There were seven warships, besides the 
Canopus. The Invincible and the Inflexible had left 
Plymouth on November 11, and had proceeded to the 
West Indies. Their mission was to avenge Coronel. 
They had picked up at Albatross Rock the Carnarvon, 
Cornwall, Bristol, Kent, Glasgow, now repaired, and 
Macedonia, an armed liner. All had then steamed 
southwards towards the Falklands. The vessels started 
coaling. Officers came ashore to stretch their legs. 
Certain stores were laid in. It was anticipated that the 
squadron would depart in search of the enemy on the 
evening of the following day. That search might, 
indeed, be a matter of months. Early next morning, 
December 8, at about eight o'clock, a volunteer observer 
posted on Sapper's Hill, two miles from Stanley, sighted 
two vessels upon the horizon. Twenty minutes later the 
smoke of two others came into view in the same direc- 
tion. They were soon recognized as German cruisers. 
The excitement was intense. The news was immediately 
carried to the authorities. It was hastily signalled to 
the fleet. Most of the ships were at anchor in Port 
William, the outer entrance to Port Stanley. Some of 
the naval officers were aroused from their repose. It is 
recorded that, upon hearing the news, the flag-lieutenanfc 
dashed down to Admiral Sturdee's cabin, clad in his 

L2 



164 CORONEL AND THE 

pyjamas. Sir Dove ton was shaving. The lieutenant 
poured forth his information. * Well,' said the Admiral, 
dryly, ' you had better go and get dressed. We'll see 
about it later.' ^ 

The Graf von Spee had, meanwhile, after the Battle 
of Coronel, been devoting himself to harrjdng maritime 
commerce. The Falklands could wait for the present. 
Since the beginning of hostilities the work of his light 
cruisers had been moderately successful. The Nilrnberg 
had cut the cable between Bamfield, British Columbia, 
and Fanning Island. The Leipzig had accounted for 
at least four British merchantmen, and the Dresden for 
at least two more. The armed liner Eitel Friedrich 
had also achieved some success. Several traders had 
had narrow escapes. The Chilian coast was in a state 
of blockade to British vessels, the ports being crowded 
with shipping that hesitated to venture forth into the 
danger zone. The Germans were masters of the Pacific 
and South Atlantic trade routes. The Straits of Magellan 
and the Horn formed a great waterway of commerce, 
which for sailing vessels was, indeed, the only eastern 
outlet from the Pacific. But completely as he had the 
situation in hand, von Spee was experiencing increasing 
problems and difficulties with regard to supplies of coal 
and provisions. Without these he was impotent. He 
had been employing German merchantmen to great 
advantage for refueling. But trouble was brewing 
with the Chilian authorities. Many signs were leading 
the latter to suspect that, contrary to international 

^ The writer cannot vouch for the truth of this anecdote, which 
he merely records as given in a letter published in the press. But 
the source from which it was taken, together with many of the 
preceding details of the condition of Stanley daring the period of 
tension, has proved so accurate in essential points of fact, that their 
insertion seems justifiable. 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 165 

law, German traders were loading at Chilian ports 
cargoes of coal and provisions, contraband of war, and 
were transferring them at sea to the German warships. 
There were other causes of complaint. Juan Fernandez, 
the isle of romance and of mystery, the home of the 
original of Kobinson Crusoe, was said to have been 
degraded into use as a base for apportioning the booty, 
coals and victuals, among the belligerent vessels. The 
island was a Chilian possession. It was practically 
certain that von Spec's squadron had stayed there 
beyond the legal limit of time. A French merchantman 
had, contrary to rule, also been sunk there by the 
Dresden, within Chilian territorial waters. Inquiries 
in other quarters were being made, moreover, as to the 
friendly wireless stations which the Germans had been 
utilizing secretly in Colombia and Ecuador ; while a 
rumour was current in the United States that neutral 
vessels had been seized and pillaged on the high seas. 
Von Spec soon found that he was nearing the end even 
of his illegitimate resources. He had tried the patience 
of the Chilian authorities too far. About the middle 
of November they suddenly prohibited, as a provisional 
measure, the vessels of the Kosmos Company from 
leaving any Chilian port. On November 24 a Govern- 
ment ship was sent to Juan Fernandez to investigate, 
and to see that Chilian neutrality was upheld. Many 
such signs seemed to warn von Spec that the time was 
appropriate to a sudden disappearance. He gathered 
his squadron for a descent at last upon the Falklands. 
His plans must be, not merely for a raid, but for an 
occupation. There were probably two or three small 
ships there. They should be sunk. The wireless station 
must be destroyed. The Islands, after a landing had 
been effected and the defence reduced, could be used 



166 CORONEL AND THE 

as a base for the German operations. There were large 
quantities of coal and stores at Stanley. The harbour 
possessed facilities for refitting. To dislodge a strong 
German naval force, with adequate guns, placed in 
occupation of the colony, would be a difficult task for 
the enemy. The Falklands had many possibilities. 
According to von Spec's information they were feebly 
defended and would fall an easy prey. At length, early 
in the morning of December 8, the Admiral brought 
his fleet off Stanley. His five cruisers approached 
from the south. They were, of course, observed. A 
warning gun, probably from one of the small ships 
which he would shortly sink, sounded the alarm 
inside the harbour. There was no need, however, for 
haste. At twenty minutes past nine the Gneisenau 
and the Number g moved towards the wireless station, 
and brought their guns to bear upon it. But suddenly 
from inside the harbour there came the thunder of 
a big gun. Five shells, of very heavy calibre, screamed 
in quick succession from over the low-lying land. One 
of the vessels was struck. Surprise and bewilderment 
took the Germans. This was most unexpected. The 
Gneisenau and the Nilrnberg hastily retired out of 
range. 

Sir Doveton and his fleet, meanwhile, had gone to 
breakfast. Steam for full speed was got up as rapidly 
as possible. Coaling operations had recommenced at 
6.30 that morning. The colliers were hurriedly cast 
off, and the decks were cleared for action. Officers and 
men were delighted at the prospect of an early flght. 
The Germans had saved them a long cold search around 
the Horn by calling for them. There was going to be 
no mistake this time. The enemy could not escape. 
Sturdee's squadron was superior both in weight and 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 167 

speed to the German. It consisted of two battle-cruisers 
of over 17,000 tons, the Invincible and Inflexible ; of 
three cruisers of about 10,000 tons, the Carnarvon, Kent, 
and Cornwall ; and of two light cruisers of 4,800 tons, 
the Glasgow and Bristol. The primary armament of 
the Invincible and Inflexible was eight 12-inch guns ; 
of the Carnarvon, ioux 7-5-inch ; of the Kent and Cornwall^ 
fourteen 6-inch ; of the Glasgow and Bristol, two 6-inch. 
The speed of the battle-cruisers was twenty-eight 
knots ; of the three middle-class cruisers, twenty-two 
to twenty-four knots ; and of the light cruisers, twenty- 
five to twenty-six knots. In size, in armament, in 
speed, the British squadron would decidedly prepon- 
derate. Admiral Sturdee, however, though confident 
of victory,- was determined to take no risks, and to 
minimize loss in men and material by making full use 
of his superior long-range gunfire, and of his superior 
speed. He would wait, screened by the land, until 
the Germans had drawn nearer. Everything should 
be got ready carefully. Undue excitement was to be 
deprecated. Meanwhile, he watched the enemy closely. 
At about a quarter to nine. Captain Grant of the Canopus 
reported that the first two ships sighted were now 
about eight miles away : the other two were still at 
a distance of some twenty miles. The Kent passed 
down the harbour and took up a position at the entrance. 
Five minutes later the smoke of a fifth German vessel 
was observed. When, in about half an hour's time, 
the two leading enemy ships made a threatening move 
in the direction of the wireless station, the Admiral 
ordered a swift counterstroke. Officers upon the hills 
above the town signalled the range, 11,000 yards, to 
the Canopus. She opened fire with her 12-inch guns. 
The Germans hoisted their colours and drew back. 



168 CORONEL AND THE 

Their masts and smoke were now visible from the 
upper bridge of the Invincible across the low land 
bounding Port William on the south. Within a few 
minutes the two cruisers altered course and made for 
the harbour-mouth. Here the Kent lay stationed. It 
seemed that the Germans were about to engage her. 
As, however, they approached, the masts and funnels 
of two large ships at anchor within the port became 
visible to them. The Gneisenau and the N umber g 
could hardly expect to contend alone with this force. 
They at once changed their direction, and moved back 
at increased speed to join their consorts. 

The morning was gloriously fine. The sun shone 
brightly, the sky was clear, the sea was calm, and 
a breeze blew lightly from the north-west. It was 
one of the rare bright stretches that visit the Islands, 
for usually rain falls, mostly in misty drizzles, on 
about 250 days in the year. At twenty minutes to ten 
the Glasgow weighed anchor, and joined the Kent at 
the harbour-mouth. Five minutes later the rest of the 
squadron weighed, and began to steam out. The 
battleship Canopus, her speed making her unsuitable 
for a chase, was left in harbour. The Bristol and the 
Macedonia also remained behind for the present. By 
a dexterous use of oil fuel the two battle -cruisers were 
kept shrouded as much as possible in dense clouds 
of smoke. The enemy for some time could not gauge 
their size. But as vessel after vessel emerged. Admiral 
von Spec grew uneasy. The English were in altogether 
unexpected strength. His squadron could not cope 
with such force. He had played into the enemy's 
hands, and unless he could outspeed their ships, the 
game was up. Without hesitation, he steamed off at 
high speed to eastward. The British followed, steaming 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 169 

at fifteen to eighteen knots. The enemy, to their 
south-east, were easily visible. At twenty past ten an 
order for a general chase was signalled. The Invincible 
and the Inflexible quickly drew to the fore. The Germans 
were roughly in line abreast, 20,000 yards, or some 
eleven miles, ahead. The morning sunlight, the gleam- 
ing seas, the grey warships, white foam springing from 
their bows, tearing at high speed through the waves, 
formed a magnificent spectacle. Crowds of the inhabi- 
tants of Stanley gathered upon the hills above the town 
to view the chase. The excitement and enthusiasm 
were intense. The vessels were in sight about two 
hours. At about a quarter past eleven it was reported 
from a point in the south of East Falkland that three 
other German ships were in sight. They were probably 
colliers or transports. The Bristol signalled the informa- 
tion to Admiral Sturdee. He at once ordered her, 
with the armed liner Macedonia, to hasten in their 
direction and destroy them. The newcomers made 
ofi to south-west, and the British followed. Meanwhile, 
the rest of the squadron, now travelling at twenty- 
three knots, were slowly closing upon the enemy. The 
distance had narrowed to 15-16,000 yards. The British 
were within striking range. Nevertheless, Sturdee 
decided to wait till after dinner before engaging. His 
guns could outdistance those of the enemy. It would 
be advisable for him to keep at long range. The Ger- 
mans, on the other hand, would be forced, when firing 
commenced, to alter course and draw in, in order to 
bring their own guns into play. The men had their 
midday meal at twelve o'clock as usual. It is said 
that comfortable time was allowed afterwards for a 
smoke. The Invincible, Inflexible, and Glasgow at about 
12.30 increased their speed to between twenty-five 



170 CORONEL AND THE 

and twenty-eight knots, and went on ahead. Just after 
a quarter to one there was a signal from the Admiral : 
' Open fire and engage the enemy.' A few minutes 
later there were sharp commands. The ranges were 
signalled, and the bigger guns were laid. Fiery glares 
and dense clouds of smoke burst suddenly from their 
muzzles. The air quivered with their thunder. Shells 
went screaming in the direction of the nearest ligHt 
cruiser, the Leipzig, which was dropping rapidly astern. 
The firing was uncomfortably accurate. The three 
smaller German cruisers very soon left the line, and 
made an attempt, veering ofE to the south, to scatter 
and escape. Flame and smoke issued from the Leipzig, 
before she drew clear, where a shell had struck. Sir 
Doveton Sturdee directed the Glasgow, Kent, and Cornwall 
to pursue the German light cruisers. With his remaining 
vessels, the Invincible, the Inflexible, and the slower 
Carnarvon, he turned upon the Scharnhorst and the 
Gneisenau, and began operations in earnest. 

The interval of sunlight which had opened the day 
with such promise was of short duration. The sky 
became overcast. Soon after four o'clock the air was 
thick with rain-mist. From 1.15 onwards for three 
hours a fierce duel was maintained between the two 
British battle-cruisers and the two German armoured 
cruisers. The enemy made every effort to get away. 
They replied to the British fire for some time, having 
dropped back to within 13,500 yards. But shortly 
after two o'clock they changed their course, and began 
to haul out to south-east. The Invincible and the 
Inflexible had eased their speed, and the range now 
widened by about 3,000 yards. A second chase ensued. 
A full-rigged sailing-ship appeared in the distance at 
about a quarter to three. Her crew must have beheld 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 171 

an awe-inspiring scene. Shortly before the hour firing 
recommenced. The action began to develop. Great 
coolness and efficiency were shown on board the British 
vessels. Every man was at his battle-station, behind 
armour. Fire-control parties were at their instruments. 
Water from numerous hoses was flooding the decks 
as a precaution against fire. The roaring of the dis- 
charges, the screaming of the shells, the clangour of metal 
upon metal, the crashes of the explosions, made up 
a tumult that was painful in its intensity. During 
intervals in the firing came the rushing of the waves 
and of the breeze, and the grinding and grunting of the 
hydraulic engines in the turrets, where swung, training 
constantly upon the enemy, the greater guns. The 
Germans soon began to show signs of distress. The 
Scharnhorst particularly suffered. Dense clouds of 
smoke, making it difficult for the British accurately to 
gauge the damage, rose from her decks. Shells rending 
her side disclosed momentarily the dull red glow of 
flame. She was burning fiercely. The firing on both 
sides was deadly, though the German had slackened 
considerably. But the British vessels, through their pre- 
ponderance in gunfire, suffered little damage. Their 12- 
inch guns hit their marks constantly, while the 8-2-inch 
guns of the Scharnhorst were accurate, but ineffective. 
She veered to starboard at about 3-30, to bring into 
play her starboard batteries. Both her masts and three 
of her four funnels were shot away. At length the 
German flagship began to settle down rapidly m the 
waters. It was about a quarter past four. There was 
a swirl of the seas and a rush of steam and smoke. 
The Scharnhorst disappeared. She went down with 
her flag flying to an ocean grave, bearing 760 brave 
men and a gallant admiral, whose name will deservedly 



172 CORONEL AND THE 

rank high in the annals of German naval history. The 
Gneisenau passed on the far side of her sunken flag- 
ship. With the guns of both battle-cruisers now bearing 
upon her alone, the German was soon in sore straits. 
But she fought on gallantly for a considerable time. 
At half-past five she had ceased firing, and appeared 
to be sinking. She had suffered severe damage. Smoke 
and steam were rising everywhere. Her bridge had 
been shot away. Her foremost funnel was resting 
against the second. Her upper deck was so shattered 
that it could not be crossed, and every riian upon it 
had been killed. An exploding shell had hurled one 
of the gun-turrets bodily overboard. Fire was raging 
aft. Her colours had been shot away several times, 
and hoisted as often. One of the flags was hauled 
down at about twenty to six, though that at the peak 
was still flying. She began to fire again with a single 
gun. The Invincible, the Inflexible, and the Carnarvon, 
which had now come up, closed in upon the doomed 
vessel. Firing was recommenced. The Gneisenau was 
not moving. Both her engines were smashed. Shells 
striking the water near her sent up colossal columns 
of water, which, falling upon the ship, put out some 
of the fires. She soon began to settle down in the waves. 
All her guns were now out of action, and Sturdee 
ordered the ' Cease fire '. There could be little doubt 
that her stubborn resistance was nearing its end. The 
German commander lined up his men on the decks. 
The ammunition was exhausted. The ship would soon 
go down. Some six hundred men had already been 
killed. The survivors had better provide themselves 
with articles for their support in the water. At six 
o'clock the Gneisenau heeled over suddenly. Clouds 
of steam sprang forth. Her stem swung up into the 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 173 

air, and she sank. Large numbers of her crew could 
be seen floating in the icy waves, hanging on to pieces 
of wreckage, and uttering terribly uncanny cries. The 
sea was choppy. Drizzling rain was falling. The 
British steamed up immediately. All undamaged boats 
were got out. Ropes were lowered. Lifebuoys and 
spars were thrown to the drowning men. But many 
of them, numbed by the freezing water, let go their 
hold and sank. About 180, among them the captain 
of the Oneisenau, were saved. It is said that much 
agreeable surprise, upon the discovery that their anticipa- 
tions of being shot would not be realized, was manifested 
by the German sailor^. 

Meanwhile, battle had been in progress elsewhere. 
The Bristol and the Macedonia had overtaken the 
transports Baden and Santa Isabel, had captured their 
crews, and had sunk the ships. The armed liner 
accompanying them, the Eitel Friedrich, had, however, 
made off and got away by means of her superior speed. 
The Kent, Glasgow, and Cornwall had pursued the 
German light cruisers in a southerly direction. The 
Dresden, the fastest, proved too speedy a vessel to 
overtake. She was ahead of her consorts, upon either 
quarter, and made her escape whilst they were being 
engaged. The Kent gave chase to the Nilrnberg. The 
Glasgow, in pursuit of the Leipzig, raced ahead of the 
Cornwall, and by about three o'clock in the afternoon 
had closed sufficiently, within 12,000 yards, to open fire 
with her foremost guns. The German ship turned every 
now and then to fire a salvo. Soon a regular battle 
began which was maintained for some hours. Shells fell 
all around the Glasgow. There were several narrow 
escapes, but the casualties were few. Shortly after six 
a wireless message was received from Admiral Sturdee, 



174 CORONEL AND THE 

announcing that the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau had 
been sunk. A cheer surged up, and the men set to work 
with renewed spirits and energy. The Cornwall had 
come up some time before, and the Leipzig was now 
severely damaged. But she fought on for three more 
hours. Darkness came on. The German cruiser began 
to burn fore and aft. It was nine o'clock before she at 
last turned over and sank. 

The British vessels had, during the course of the 
action, steamed miles apart, and far out of sight of land. 
During the evening and night they began to get into 
touch with one another and with Stanley by means of 
their wireless. All the ships except the Kent were 
accounted for, and reported all well. But no reply was 
forthcoming to the numerous calls, ' Kent, Kent, Kent ', 
that were sent out. She had, in chase of the Niirnbergy 
lost all touch with the rest of the squadron. There was 
great uneasiness. It was feared that she had been lost. 
The other ships were directed to search for her, and for 
the Niirnberg and the Dresden. Late in the afternoon 
of the following day, however, she entered Stanley 
harbour safely. Her wireless had been destroyed, but 
she had sunk the Niirnberg, after a very stern struggle. 
The German captain, Schonberg, is reported, indeed, to 
have said at Honolulu, ' The Niirnberg will very likely 
be our coffin. But we are ready to fight to the last '. 
He had fought and died true to his words. The German 
ship was ordinarily more than a knot faster than the 
British. But the engineers and stokers of the Kent rose 
magnificently to the occasion. Fuel was piled high. Her 
engines were strained to the utmost. Soon she was 
speeding through the waves at twenty-five knots, a knot 
and a half more than her registered speed. The Niirnberg 
drew nearer. At five o'clock she was within range, and 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 175 

firing was opened. A sharp action began which lasted 
some two and a half hours. The Kent was struck many- 
times, and lost several men. She had one narrow 
escape. A bursting shell ignited some cordite charges, 
and a flash of flame went down the hoist into the ammu- 
nition passage. Some empty shell bags began to burn. 
But a sergeant picked up a cordite charge and hurled 
it out of danger. Seizing a fire hose, he flooded the 
compartment and extinguished the fire. A disastrous 
explosion, which might have proved fatal to the vessel, 
was thus averted. Her silken ensign and jack, presented 
by the ladies of Kent, were torn to ribbons. The 
gallant captain collected the pieces, some being caught 
in the rigging, and carefully preserved them. The 
Nurnberg, however, was soon in sore straits. Many 
shells struck her, and she was set afire. Day drew into 
evening, and darkness deepened. The Germans ceased 
firing, and the Kent, within about 3,000 yards, followed 
suit upon the enemy's colours being hauled down. The 
Nurnberg sank just before half -past seven. As she 
disappeared beneath the surface, men upon her quarter- 
deck were waving the German ensign. The Kent, after 
picking up some survivors, put about, and returned to 
Stanley. 

Here the rest of the squadron soon gathered. Con- 
gratulatory telegrams began to pour in to Sir Doveton 
Sturdee. And the curtain closed, in the flush of triumph, 
upon the most memorable and most dramatic episode 
in the history of the Falklands. 

One further episode remains to complete the story. 
The Dresden and the armed liner Eitel Friedrich, the sole 
survivors of the German squadron, made once more for 
the Pacific. They were lost sight of for many weeks. 
Suspicious movements and activities on the part of 



176 CORONEL AND THE 

German merchantmen were, however, again observed. 
The Government wireless station at Valparaiso inter- 
cepted messages from the Dresden summoning friendly 
vessels to bring her supplies. Persistent rumours began 
to be circulated that she was hiding in the inlets of 
southern Chili. During January, 1915, the Eitel 
Friedrich seized and destroyed six vessels, chiefly sailing- 
ships, some in Pacific, most in Atlantic waters. In 
February she accounted for four more. Towards the 
end of the month a British barque was sunk by the 
Dresden. The position was again rapidly becoming 
troublesome. The movement of British shipping on the 
Chilian coast had to be suspended. But the Glasgow 
and the Kent were on the Dresden's track. The Kent 
entered Coronel on March 13, coaled, and departed the 
same night. The Eitel Friedrich, meanwhile, had 
arrived at Newport News, a United States port, with her 
engines badly in need of repair. Much indignation was 
aroused among Americans by the announcement that 
one of her victims had been an American vessel. The 
German liner had many prisoners on board Declara- 
tions of a resolve, if he had been caught by the British, 
to have sunk fighting to the last, were repeatedly and 
emphatically declaimed by the German captain. Five 
days later he learned that the Dresden had tamely sur- 
rendered off Juan Fernandez after a five minutes' action. 
The Kent, at nine o'clock on the morning after she had 
left Coronel, together with the Glasgow and the auxiliary 
cruiser Orama, came up with the Dresdennesn the island. 
A sharp encounter followed. The German cruiser was 
hit heavily. Fire broke out. In five minutes' time she 
hauled down her colours and hoisted a white flag. The 
crew were taken off. The Dresden continued to burn 
for some time, until finally her magazine exploded and 



FALKLAND ISLANDS 177 

she sank. The German officers contended that their 
vessel was sunk within Chilian territorial waters. It 
had not hitherto been noticeable that their consciences 
were concerned to maintain Chilian neutrality inviolate. 
The Battle of the Falkland Islands was the first 
decisive naval contest of the war. It removed a formid- 
able menace to the trade routes. It relieved British 
convoys and transports from danger of interruption. 
It freed many battleships and cruisers, engaged in 
sweeping the oceans, for other usefulness. It gave 
Great Britain effective mastery of the outer seas. 
Henceforth German naval ambition, frustrated in its 
endeavour to disorganize the trade routes, was forced, 
within the limits of the North Sea and of British waters, 
to seek less adventurous but more disreputable ends. 
A series of bombardments of coast towns was planned. 
A preliminary success was followed by a galling disaster. 
Foiled a second time, Germany is attempting now to 
terrorize British waters, by deliberate submarine piracy, 
to all maritime commerce. Her project has elicited the 
protests of neutral States. It has excited no dismay 
among the allied nations. 



18 




// .v. HiMui 



THE BATTLE OF NEUVE 
CHAPELLE 

I 

The Battle of Neuve Chapelle is in many ways not 
only more remarkable and more obscure than, but 
equally important as, any engagement that the War 
has seen. Its purpose and its conduct still dwell to 
a great extent in deep mystery : its result has been 
largely misconstrued. Undoubtedly it constituted, 
nevertheless, one of the principal factors which deter- 
mined British strategy for many months of 1915. 
What was its issue ? London hailed it as a glorious 
victory : Berlin acclaimed it as a British defeat. But 
in effect it was indecisive. It sundered for 4,000 yards 
and hollowed to a depth of 1,200 yards the German 
line, it brought about the capture of a village, of impor- 
tant fortified positions, of some 1,700 prisoners, of many 
machine-guns, it cost nearly 13,000 British casualties, 
and probably some 18,000 German. It resulted, how 
ever, in no great British forward movement, as had 
been confidently hoped, by which whole German armies 
would have been forced, through threatened communi- 
cations, to retire for many miles. Nor even was Sir 
John French's first strategical objective, the capture 
of the Aubers ridge, attained. The tactics by which 
he won Neuve Chapelle were successful, but the strategy 
by which he purposed to gain the dominating heights 
beyond was disappointed. The conditions, the mis- 
carriages, the evil chances of battle, the mistakes, which 

M2 



180 NEUVE CHAPELLE 

frustrated his strategical purpose still appear to the 
public eye, and rightly so, as through a glass, darkly. No 
better summary of the battle than a simple narrativre of 
its events and phases, so far as various sources, chiefly 
unofficial, have revealed them, is as yet possible. Only 
to the casualty lists can we turn for substantial fact. 
At Neuve Chapelle about a tenth of the total British 
casualties up to that time were sustained. It is doubtful 
whether the moral and material gain was so propor- 
tionate to the cost in life and limb as to make the 
engagement, close, involved, bitter, and prolonged as 
it was, a real success. The loss seems greater than the 
gain. The chief value of the battle lies no doubt in the 
lessons it taught and in the experience it afforded. But 
the knowledge was dearly bought. 

On March 8, 1915, in a simple little room above whose 
mantelpiece Nelson's prayer was displayed. Sir John 
French met the corps commanders of Haig's 1st Army. 
These were Sir Charles Monro, Sir Henry Rawlinson, 
and Sir James Willcocks, commanding respectively the 
1st, 4th, and Indian Corps. The Field-Marshal outlined 
plans which he had been maturing for over a month for 
a great onslaught upon the German defensive line. All 
England had been waiting and hoping for the great 
Allied offensive which, it was confidently asserted, the 
warm spring weather would bring, as the real beginning 
of the war. March had now come, and spells of bright 
and dry weather were succeeding to the damp and chill 
of winter. Expectations were to be fulfilled by a deter- 
mined assault at a certain point in the hostile trench 
lines. A secret memorandum setting forth the object, 
nature, and scope of this attack, and giving instructions 
for its conduct, had been communicated to Sir Douglas 



NEUVE CHAPELLE 181 

Haig a fortnight before, while full directions for assisting 
and supporting it were being issued to the general 
officers commanding the troops of the 2nd Army. 
Many vital considerations had arisen, in connexion with 
the aspect of the Allied situation throughout Europe, 
which called for the immediate execution of the plan. 
Not only were the Russians, with marked success, 
repelling the violent onslaughts of Marshal von Hin- 
denberg, but the French, with the object of holding as 
many hostile troops as possible in the Western theatre, 
were attacking vigorously at Arras and in Champagne. 
It was important that the British should lend support 
to the efforts of their allies ; moreover, it was vital that 
the offensive spirit should be rekindled in the rank and 
file, whose morale, indeed, could not but have suffered 
to some extent after the severe trench warfare of winter. 
The enemy seemed to be weakening on the British front, 
while the latter had been enormously strengthened. 
Now was the time and here was the opportunity to 
deliver the tremendous thrust which was to sunder that 
massive band of steel and fire stretching from the shores 
of the North Sea to the foothills of the Alps. No time 
was to be lost : within forty-eight hours a blow was to 
be struck at the village of Neuve Chapelle, near La 
Bassee ; while diversions were to be made at St. Eloi, 
L'Epinette, and Givenchy. Six miles east of Neuve 
Chapelle lay Fournes, with Lille eight miles beyond, 
and a ridge of hills, extending between these two towns, 
at Fournes divided into two spurs, before whose fork 
lay the Bois du Biez and Neuve Chapelle itself. If, 
after a bombardment so close and shattering as utterly 
to destroy the German lines, troops of the British 
1st Army, descending like an avalanche upon the village 
and the wood, could gain the heights in front and on 



182 NEUVE CHAPELLE 

either flank ; if, in the impetus of the advance and 
before the enemy had recovered, they could win the 
whole of the ridge, they would command, from the 
dominant summits, a wide and wealthy plain stretching 
far into the enemy's acquired territory, and immediately 
below, the important towns of La Bassee and of Lille. 
Such a position would probably compel the withdrawal 
of the enemy's line for many miles. It was protected 
from seizure at present by strong entrenchments and 
works : the whole of the 4th and the Indian Corps, 
with infantry of the general reserve, supported by the 
2nd Cavalry Division and a brigade of the North Midland 
Division, would have to be employed for their reduction, 
i^rrangements had already been made by which great 
forces of British and French artillery, heavy and light, 
were now secretly massing before the village ; on the 
night of March 9 the reserves of the 1st Army would be 
brought up. Next morning a sudden terrific bombard- 
ment, unprecedented for power and concentration, 
Avould prelude, at a specified hour, a rapid rush forward 
of the infantry ; success and opportunity granted, the 
cavalry would be thrown through the gap formed, and, 
overrunning the country beyond, would disorganize the 
enemy's resistance, and embarrass the advance of 
hostile reinforcements. Calculation showed that before 
these could be brought up in substantial numbers at 
least thirty-six hours must elapse. The success of the 
operations was essentially dependent upon every move- 
ment being made to exact time and without a hitch. 
Sir Douglas Haig would give full directions : it was 
vital that they should be carefully observed. 

If in later years, when the wounds have healed and 
the tears are dried, our sons raise, whether by accident 
or design, a new Neuve Chapelle upon the now blasted 



NEUVE CHAPELLE 183 

foundations which shall form an exact replica of the 
old, before bombardment wrought upon it, through 
the alien dwellers who had sought its shelter, the fate 
of Sodom and Gomorrah, the traveller who comes to 
view the famous field will behold none of the customary 
stern features of heroic lore, neither massive castle, 
treacherous morass, nor frowning crag, but, settled in the 
smiling meadow-land, merely an unimportant collection 
of houses and small farms, scattered about a junction of 
country roads, and centring upon a church. It will be 
seen to be a small place, very like any other in this part 
of Flanders, and covering, owing to the universal ten- 
dency of these villages to straggle, each house being 
apparently built without reference to its neighbours, 
a considerable extent of ground. Neat villas, with 
gaudy shutters, line the main streets, in which stand 
a brewery and half-a-dozen estaminets. On the eastern 
side a row of old cottages rises, interspersed with a few 
modern red-brick houses ; and on the western side some 
detached dwellings of a better class, surrounded by 
enclosures and orchards bounded by tall hedgerows, 
look down upon where, some hundreds of yards across 
the open space west of the village, the trench lines of 
British and Germans, just before the battle, were drawn. 
A little old white chateau appears on the northern out- 
skirts, where a small piece of ground, covered by enclo- 
sures and encompassed on three sides by roads, will 
perhaps be pointed out as having figured prominently, 
known as the ' Triangle ', in the fighting of October 
1914 ; while at the cross-roads in the south the famous 
' Port Arthur ' will also attract attention. The country 
surrounding Neuve Chapelle forms mainly an expanse of 
pasture and heavy arable land, flat and uninteresting : but 
the Bois du Biez, a small, rectangular wood of saplings, 



184 NEUVE CHAPELLE 

planted very close and interspersed with a few taller trees 
as is usual in these parts, lies about a thousand yards 
to south-east. High hedges and pollarded trees all 
around the village restrict the view. Away to north- 
east, however, may be seen a prominent landmark, the 
sinister Moulin de Pietre, while about a mile and a half 
beyond this the red roofs of Aubers crown the long ridge 
dominating all the lower ground to the east. One other 
feature should be observed. The village is separated 
from the ridge and from the Bois du Biez by the River 
des Layes, a stream broad and deep. 

Such was the battlefield of Neuve Chapelle. The 
possession of the village itself secured to the Germans 
a strong defensive position, the numerous scattered 
houses affording excellent vantage points at which to 
place machine-guns. Preponderance in these weapons 
was more essential to the defenders than preponderance 
in numbers, a fact which the battle emphasized. On 
the morning of March 10 the German forces before the 
prepared British front of attack, stretching from just 
south to a short distance north of Neuve Chapelle, 
amounted to only three infantry battalions. It is 
stated, on the authority of a captured German officer, 
that three German princes, including Prince Leopold 
of Hohenzollern, were serving with one of these. Only 
one German army corps, indeed, the 7th, or Westphalian, 
forming part of the 6th Army, which Prince Rupprecht 
of Bavaria commanded, garrisoned the trenches before 
the whole line of the two British armies ; this was the 
same army corps, troops of which had, four and a half 
months earlier, expelled a British force from Neuve 
Chapelle. It was doubtful whether there were more 
than four battalions of reinforcements which could be 
hurried to the danger-point within twenty-four hours 



NEUVE CHAPELLE 185 

of the beginning of the attack. Early on that fateful 
morning, however, so secretly and skilfully had the 
British made their preparations, the Germans manning 
the trenches before the village were quite unconscious 
of their danger. At one point, indeed, a German captain 
perceived that something was wrong. Signs of unusual 
movement could be observed opposite : the British 
trenches were full of men. He sent back an urgent 
message to this effect to the commander of his support- 
ing battery. The artillery officer was polite, but unap- 
preciative : he unfortunately had strict injunctions 
not to open fire without express orders from the corps 
commander. Nothing occurred for some time which 
seriously belied this attitude of false security. Spas- 
modic shells soared across from the British lines at 
intervals : that these were ranging shots, and preluded 
a bombardment then unparalleled in warfare, was not 
suspected. 

Meanwhile, since midnight the British forces detailed 
for the attack had been mustering. The numerous 
heavy hoAvitzer and field-gun batteries, forming an 
armament of probably over 300 guns, were already in 
position. The bulk of the infantry battalions arrived, 
in accordance with orders, between 2 and 3 a.m. Endless 
files of men came marching in strict silence across the 
desolate approaches to the firing line, and were grouped 
in prepared ditches or trenches behind sandbag breast- 
works at allotted points. The night, fortunately, was 
very dark. Many a famous regiment, from every part 
of the British Isles, or from the hills and plains of India, 
lined the roadways. It was realized that this was the 
eve of a great movement. Suppressed excitement and 
eager expectation were in the atmosphere. Hot coffee 
served out to the troops in the early hours contributed 



186 NEUVE CHAPELLE 

to heighten their spirits and their confidence : army- 
orders exhorting duty and courage were also distributed. 
Many of the men got a few hours' sleep, but it was still 
dark when they stood to arms. Dull with sleep, and 
weighted with equipment and ammunition, men stumbled 
up into their places, and tireless non-commissioned officers 
bustled them into wakefulness. At length dawn, grey 
and ashen, streaked the horizon with silvery light. The 
hour of attack was not yet at hand, for the artillery 
bombardment was not timed to open till haK-past seven. 
Guns began to boom intermittently miles away. As the 
shadows lifted and the light strengthened, British aero- 
planes soared over the lines, drawing hostile fire, on 
preliminary reconnaissance. It was now six o'clock. 
For a long time guns continued to fire at intervals, 
registering their respective ranges. Preparations for the 
attack were now consummated. Thousands of men were 
lining the breastworks and trenches, awaiting the ap- 
pointed hour. For many it was to be the hour of death. 
Exactly at half -past seven a sudden tearing thunder- 
peal, followed for thirty-five minutes by a tumult like 
a hundred thunder-claps a second, so loud, so incessant, 
so startling, so immense, that the senses and brains of 
men were dulled and rendered inert by its shock and 
volume, rended the morning calm. A sea of appalling 
sound, wild and measureless, thundering upon rocks in 
splintering, explosive crashes, drowned the mind as it 
swelled and broke : or a thousand Vulcan's hammers, 
wielded by Titans before their roaring forges, clanged and 
clamoured upon a thousand giant anvils. A dense pall 
of smoke, in which red flashes leapt high with each 
explosion in a long line of fire, a sight fearful and grand, 
hung over the German lines after the first shells had 
plunged, casting up clouds of earth and debris, into the 



NEUVE CHAPELLE 187 

trenches. The British infantry, waiting to assault, 
watched the bombardment with excitement that grew 
to fever heat as the minutes, wearing on, drew nearer 
the time for advance. It is said that in some places 
they jumped up on the parapets brandishing their 
rifles towards the Germans and shouting remarks that 
were drowned in the thunder of the batteries. It was 
a dramatic moment. Sickening lyddite fumes were 
wafted back by the breeze. Where the opposing 
trenches, usually divided here by 100 or 150 yards, lay 
closer, the troops were smothered with dust and earth, 
or even spattered by blood from mangled remains 
hurtling through the air. Many of the shells, so low 
was their trajectory, screamed by only a few feet above 
the British trenches ; since the main object of the 
gunners was to tear away the formidable barbed wire 
defences that barred advance. Right along the front 
of attack, for two miles, this object, save at the extreme 
northern and southern ends, was in a few minutes effec- 
tually achieved. The entanglements, severed like twine 
or blasted from the ground, lay scattered over wastes 
of tumbled earth and broken pits strewn with dead and 
wounded which marked where the German lines of 
entrenchment had been drawn. But in this connexion 
there arose some unfortunate miscarriages : these proved 
of vital moment to the issue of the battle. Considerable 
sections of barbed wire, at important places, were un- 
accountably missed by the artillery. At the extreme 
north of the front of attack, and to a less extent at the 
extreme south, portions of the enemy's line had, by 
five minutes past eight, escaped serious damage. That 
moment had been fixed for the cessation of the shelling 
of the trenches, to permit of an infantry advance, and for 
the opening of the bombardment of the village itself, where 



188 NEUVE CHAPELLE 

the German supports were quartered. Exactly to time, 
along the whole front, the gunners lengthened their 
fuses and lifted their shells upon the buildings of Neuve 
Chapelle. Debris flew upwards as masonry and stone 
were blown asunder, and soon a cloud of smoke and 
dust rendered the havoc invisible. Meanwhile, the three 
front British infantry brigades had clambered from 
their trenches for advance. Whistles were sounding 
along the line. 

The northern wing of the attacking army was formed 
by the 23rd Brigade, made up of the second battalions 
of the Cameronian, the Devon, the West Yorkshire, and 
the Middlesex regiments. At this part, just north of 
Xeuve Chapelle, the British trenches ran along the line 
of the Rue de Tilleroy, a bare and ugly highway, opposite 
which lay the main section of German barbed wire en- 
tanglements only partially destroyed by the artillery. In 
front of the Cameronians and the Middlesex the wire 
barrier was quite unbroken, that before the latter, where 
the surface dipped a little, being concealed in a fold of 
ground. The gunners had now lengthened their ranges, 
and the time had come for the infantry to advance. 
Orders could not be disregarded, in spite of the unbroken 
wire. It was a terrible ordeal. The brave men went 
forward to their deaths, and a lane of dead and wounded, 
wide and thick-strewn, across the 120 yards between 
the opposing trenches, marked their impotence and 
their glory. The Middlesex, on the right of the Camer- 
onians, were somewhat crowded as they left their 
trenches and dashed forward. Two hostile machine- 
guns swept away the leading ranks, but the Middlesex, 
unwavering, struggled up to the wire, at which they 
tore with naked hands or hacked with bayonets. Three 
times they essayed to force a passage, but at length, 



NEUVE CHAPELLE 189 

their colonel having sent back a message to the artillery, 
they withdrew and lay down, exposed to shot and shell, 
among the dead in the open. Powerful artillery support 
was presently forthcoming. The gunners shortened 
their fuses, and shrapnel was soon ripping up the barbed 
wire. Meanwhile, the Cameronians, a famous old regi- 
ment, better known as the Scottish Rifles, whose battle 
record, from Blenheim to Spion Kop, indicated their 
temper, had also been checked by the unbroken entangle- 
ments. Of the two front companies, A and B, while the 
latter was able, where the wire was partly destroyed, to 
get through with little difficulty, A Company, finding 
undamaged wire and a prepared enemy, met with a 
storm of machine-gun and rifle fire. Lieutenant -Colonel 
Bliss and his adjutant fell side by side leading the attack. 
Like the Middlesex, the Scottish Rifles, with fearful loss, 
reached the wire barrier, before which, impotent, but 
clutching and tearing desperately with bare hands and 
rifles, they were mercilessly shot down. There was no 
alternative but to withdraw and take what little cover 
the open and the bodies of the dead afforded. Even- 
tually, however, bomb-throwers, working their way 
slowly along the section of trench taken by B Company, 
drove out the Germans and enabled the troops held up 
by the wire to advance. It was about half -past ten 
before it was possible to move forward. Terrible loss 
had been sustained by the Scottish Rifles ; at the close 
of the battle, indeed. Lieutenant Somervail and about 
150 men only survived. Nor had the other regiments 
of the Brigade escaped lightly. The Devons, pouring 
through gaps in the German entrenchments closer to 
the village, stormed a large orchard around a farm- 
house strongly defended by the enemy, and a fierce 
struggle ensued. Presently the Middlesex, whom now 



190 NEUVE CHAPELLE 

more complete artillery preparation had enabled to 
advance, joined them. In advancing, a bombing party 
of the Middlesex, composed of an officer and six men, 
came across some Germans in an intact trench who, 
having signified their readiness to surrender, upon 
noticing the number of the party took cover and 
reopened fire. These the British, closing immediately, 
chased into the open, where a maxim gun was waiting. 
It was now nearly eleven o'clock. The orchard still 
defied all attempts at capture, though the 24th Brigade 
had advanced from the Rue de Tilleroy, and joined in 
the attack. With this exception resistance in this 
quarter, just north of Neuve Chapelle, was now ceasing : 
for the 25th Brigade, immediately to the south of the 
much harassed 23rd, had made such progress as to turn 
the fiank of those German forces opposite the latter 
brigade. 

While unbroken barbed wire had impeded advance 
at the northern end of the front of attack, the artillery 
had, in the centre, and at the southern end save for 
one small portion, accomplished their task so effectively 
that at first negligible resistance was encountered. 
The 25th Brigade held the centre, and an Indian brigade, 
the Garwhal, the southern wing. Upon the deflection 
of the artillery fire at five past eight, these two brigades 
swept forward, and carried the enemy's entrenchments, 
save at one point in the extreme south of the front of 
attack, without difficulty. So effective had been the 
British bombardment that the greater portion of the 
defences were blown into unrecognizable ruin ; while 
only a few Germans, nerveless with shock, and ghastly 
yellow with lyddite dust, remained of the defenders. 
Some of these, utterly dazed, crawled painfully from 
their trenches and knelt on the ground, holding up 



NEUVE CHAPELLE 191 

their hands. The leading half of the 25th Brigade, the 
Lincoln and the Berkshire regiments, having taken the 
first line of trenches opposite their section of the Rue de 
Tilleroy, swerved to right and left respectively in order 
to afford passage for the remaining battalions, the Royal 
Irish Rifles and the Rifle Brigade. Each regiment met 
with some opposition, the Berkshires encountering two 
German officers who fought with stubborn gallantry, 
serving a machine-gun, until bayoneted. Many prisoners 
were taken, both now and later during the attack upon 
the village, one regiment capturing a Prussian colonel, 
who, seemingly deUghted to be taken, formed up his 
fellow prisoners on his own initiative, and marched them 
back through the British lines. While many of the 
captured Germans were being assembled, the Rifle 
Brigade and the Royal Irish Rifles came up, ready for 
the advance upon the village just beyond, which was, 
however, still being bombarded by the artillery. Some 
time elapsed before the shelling was completed effectually, 
during which the captured lines were cleared of prisoners 
and wounded. The infantry detailed for the next attack 
waited, laughing and cracking jokes amid the uproar 
and rattle of the firing. At length, at 8.35, an advance 
upon Neuve Chapelle was made. 

The Rifle Brigade is credited with being the first 
regiment to enter the village. They viewed, rushing 
headlong through the ruins, a scene of utter chaos and 
desolation. Falling tiles and tottering walls endangered 
the search for stray parties of Germans hiding in cellars 
or basements. Not an edifice but was shattered, not 
a street but was blocked and almost obliterated by 
masses of rubble and bricks. It seemed as if an earth- 
quake, dissolving all in ruin, had shaken down the 
very features and soul of the place, yet had left standing. 



192 NEUVE CHAPELLE 

by divine ordinance, amid havoc and violence indescrib- 
able, the symbol of Christian faith and suffering. Two 
large wooden crucifixes alone of all around them re- 
mained intact, one standing in the graveyard of the 
church, whose devastated pile reared itself from a waste 
of overturned tombs and effigies, the broken coffins, cast 
\ip from the depths, mingling their desecrated dead 
with the fresh corpses of German soldiers, half interred 
or re -interred by the fallen masonry of the edifice ; 
and the other crucifix, a dead German prostrated at its 
foot, standing erect at the cross-roads near the chateau 
just north of the village. Among the stricken dwellings 
dazed German soldiers met the eyes of the advancing 
British. Many surrendered without a blow, but num- 
bers, peering and dodging through the smoke of the 
shells that still hung heavily around, began fixing from 
windows, from behind carts, or even overturned tomb- 
stones. From some houses in the Rue de Bois, on the 
farther southern outskirts of the village, some machine- 
guns opened fusillade until, as the Rifle Brigade advanced 
in their direction, their sound ceased suddenly. Pressing 
onwards, the Riflemen found that the maxims had been 
silenced by a battalion of the Garhwal Brigade, advanc- 
ing from south-west, the 3rd Gurkhas. With the latter 
the Rifle Brigade had, by curious coincidence, been 
recently brigaded in India. Enthusiastic greetings were 
exchanged, and the two battalions, jovial in the flush 
of victory, cheered themselves hoarse until, military 
necessity overriding social amenities, they had to con- 
tinue the advance towards where, outlined against the 
sky not far beyond, a fringe of scraggy trees marked 
the Bois du Biez. Meanwhile, though most of the 
Garwhal Brigade, which included, in addition to the 
3rd Gurkhas, the 2nd Leicesters, and the 1st and 2nd 



NEUVE CHAPELLE 193 

39th Garwhalis, were now pressing in this direction, 
with one of its battalions things were going awry. 

A group of ruined buildings, known by the sinister 
name of ' Port Arthur ', stood on the extreme right of 
the front of attack, at the angle of the cross-roads south 
of the village, where the 1st 39th Garwhalis were posted. 
Elaborate defences, the work of months, had been 
constructed at this point. The Garwhali was a tribes- 
man of sturdier build, owing to a strong Mongolian 
strain, than the Gurkha, but in cast of features and in 
characteristics akin. When the battalion attempted to 
advance at the preconcerted hour, they were faced by 
the same unfortunate circumstance that was impeding 
their comrades at the extreme north of the line. Two 
hundred yards of barbed wire stretched intact and 
guarded before them. On the left the Leicesters went 
through the enemy with a rush, but the 1st 39th Gar- 
whalis, trained to hill warfare in the best of all schools, 
the Punjab frontier, were met by a withering fusillade 
from behind the untouched wire. The officers lead- 
ing the charge ahead of their companies were all 
killed. An artillery lieutenant, employed as observing 
officer, at once proceeded to lead one line forward, but 
also fell after twenty yards. The battalion, losing its 
direction, swung to the right, where, after a fierce 
struggle with bayonet and knife, it captured a section 
of trench. In this position, however, the Garwhalis 
were cut off, with the enemy to right and left. The 
Leicesters, meanwhile, having broken through on the 
other side of ' Port Arthur', found themselves checked by 
this obstacle, and noticed the plight of the Garwhalis. 
Bomb -throwers, creeping down the trenches, imme- 
diately made efforts to eject the enemy and to establish 
contact with the Indians. For hours a hard struggle 

18 N 



194 NEUVE CHAPELLE 

raged around the spot, and all progress here was checked. 
Reinforcements had soon to be brought up. In the 
meantime the rest of the Garwhal Brigade, with the 
^oth Brigade, having gained a solid footing, were 
engaged in clearing Neuve Chapelle and its environs of 
the enemy, whose gunners, indeed, were still so taken 
by surprise that British supports were able to move up 
the roads in fours. The Germans were effectually 
prevented from sending up reinforcements by a curtain 
of shrapnel fire interposed by the artillery between the 
village and the country beyond. The fire of one heavy 
howitzer was directed on Aubers with a remarkable 
result, a prominent tower suddenly jumping skywards, 
and descending, dissolving in mid-air, in clouds of dust 
and rubbish. It was some time before resistance was 
completely stamj)ed out. At the north of the attacking 
line, moreover, most of the 23rd Brigade were, until 
about 10.30, held up before the unbroken wire entangle- 
ments ; and the orchard previously referred to, defying 
capture for hours, threatened the flank of any advance 
upon the Aubers ridge : while in the south ' Port Arthur ' 
held out stubbornly. But by eleven o'clock the whole 
of the village of Neuve Chapelle and the roads containing 
its eastern side, running to north and to south-west, 
were in British hands. 

II 

There is no greater problem in modern warfare than 
the difficulty of inter-communication between the firing 
line of infantry and batteries or head-quarters far in rear. 
Flag-signalling is at the mercy of the weather ; dis]3atch- 
carr3dng is unavoidably slow ; telephone wires, even if 
triplicated, are frequently severed by exploding shells. 
But inter-communication, both for the guidance of the 



NEUVE CHAPELLE 195 

artillery and for the direction of the operations, is 
vitally essential. Battery-commanders must be kept 
constantly informed of the positions of the advanced 
infantry : head-quarters — brigade, divisional, corps, and 
army — must keep in close touch with all units to ensure 
that each is fulfilling its allotted part and is adequately 
supported. The Battle of Neuve Chapelle found this 
problem as vital as ever and as troublesome as ever, 
artillery observation being difficult owing to the flatness 
of the country. Severed wires, as soon as the German 
artillery, recovering from surprise, brought guns to 
bear on the British position, interrupted communication 
between front and rear, in spite of the promptness and 
courage with which signallers went out repeatedly to 
repair the damage. The result was that the leading 
infantry brigades, greatly disorganized by their rapid 
and violent advance, could not be co-ordinated without 
considerable delay. The 23rd and 25th Brigades formed, 
with the 24th Brigade, the 8th Division, which with the 
7th Division, comprising the 20th, 21st, and 22nd 
Brigades, constituted the 4th Army Corps, under the 
command of Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Rawlinson. 
Not only was the 23rd Brigade held up for a long time 
through inadequate artillery preparation, but the 25th 
Brigade, becoming involved in this miscarriage, moved 
its fighting line northward out of its proper direction 
of advance. Neuve Chapelle was, however, in British 
hands by eleven o'clock. Why Sir Henry Rawlinson 
was unable to bring the reserve brigades of his corps 
into action until half -past three is as yet obscure. 
Delay, occasioned not only by the checks at the extreme 
north and extreme south of the attacking line, but also 
by the absence of reserves to carry forward the advance 
while the scattered leading brigades were readjusting 

N 2 



198 NEUVE CHAPELLE 

themselves and consolidating the ground won, proved 
fatal to greater success. It enabled the Germans to 
organize a stubborn resistance along the Pietre road 
and the fringe of the Bois du Biez. The clear directions 
of Sir Douglas Haig should, according to the Com- 
mander-in-Chief, have precluded the necessity for this 
delay. When advance was continued at 3.30 the enemy, 
at little damaged and important points in rear of where 
the British artillery had failed to shatter the entangle- 
ments, were prepared and active, though indications 
that in parts the German resistance was temporarily 
paralysed were not lacking. The two principal points 
which, strongly placed and defended, now impeded all 
advance were the Moulin de Pietre and a certain bridge 
over the River des Layes. These two points were 
connected by the stream, along whose line the British 
were held up. The bridge, which crossed the river in 
the south of the front of attack, formed, apparently^ 
the only available structural passage to the opposite 
side : the enemy, anticipating its immediate seizure > 
took instant measures to secure it, and it became 
speedily the crucial point of the battle-line. During the 
rest of the day, and for the following two days, fighting 
raged chiefly about these two ]3ositions : the Moulin de 
Pietre lay to north-east of Neuve Chapelle, in rear of 
where the Scottish Rifles and the Middlesex had struggled 
impotently before unbroken wire ; and the bridge lay 
to south-east, in rear of where the undamaged entangle- 
ments of ' Port Arthur ' throughout the first day 
checked the Leicesters and the 1st 39th Garwhalis. 

Between 3 o'clock and 3.30 the brigades of the famous. 
7th Division, to whose steadfast bravery the Battle of 
Ypres in the previous October had borne witness, came: 
forward into the battle-line. Not a shot was fired at 



NEUVE CHAPELLE 197 

the 21st Brigade as it formed up in the open on the left, 
and the German resistance seemed for the time being 
to be nerveless in this quarter, where the orchard so 
strongly defended by the enemy had some while before 
been taken. The Devons and the Worcesters had at 
length penetrated the defences, and, pursuing the 
defenders round the scarred trees with the bayonet, had 
killed or captured all. The brigade proceeded to 
advance in the direction of the Moulin de Pietre, making 
for some time good progress. But on the left the 22nd 
Brigade, where its right flank faced prepared entrench- 
ments centring upon a strongl}^ held redoubt, was soon 
held up. Machine-gun fire from the redoubt, moreover, 
began to enfilade the 21st Brigade. As the latter 
pushed its way towards the Moulin de Pietre fusillade 
from houses in front and from the redoubt on the left 
became so determined and severe that the four battalions 
were at length brought also to a standstill. To the 
south the 24th Brigade, whose objective was the village 
of Pietre, was similarly checked. At a road junction 
about a third of a mile north-west of this village galling 
fire from trenches and houses, in which troops had 
hastily been massed and machine-guns placed, barred 
advance. Nor was the southern attacking wing, where 
the Indian Corps were posted, faring better. The 
brigade which had led the assault, the Garwhal, had 
now, with the aid of the Bareilly Brigade, firmly estab- 
lished and consolidated much of the new line gained, 
and was still assailing ' Port Arthur '. But the 
remaining infantry brigade, the Dehra Dun, of their 
division, the Meerut, in advancing to the attack of the 
Bois du Biez found itself enfiladed by machine-gun fire 
from a bridge over the River des Layes. Despite the 
support of the JuUundur Brigade of the Lahore Division, 



198 NEUVE CHAPELLE 

the Indians were held up along the line of the broad 
stream, whose greenish-yellow waters, five feet deep, 
stretching north-east and south-west, divided them 
from the cover of the woods beyond. Not only the 
Dehra Dun and the Jullundur Brigades, but also the 
bulk of the 25th Brigade, between the 24th and the 
Indians, had all their efforts to advance impeded by 
this obstacle, the j)osition of the bridge and its neigh- 
bourhood enabling the Germans to sweep with their fire 
considerable stretches of the river and its opposite 
banks. Some companies of the Lincolns, indeed, who 
had found a plank sufficiently stout and long to bridge 
the water, and had crossed to form a firing line on the 
opposite side, had to recross to gain the advantage of 
a slight rise in the rear ; though close by the Royal 
Irish Rifles, having crossed, succeeded in entrenching 
and maintaining themselves on the further bank. 
Farther to the north some battalions were able to wade 
the stream, its waters reaching their necks, and, advanc- 
ing under fire across open fields and ditches, where the 
morning's curtain of shrapnel fire had fallen and had 
left its mark in an upheaval of earth, stones, and debris, 
they drew their firing line a considerable distance beyond. 
Immersion in the stream could not damp the spirits 
of the men, who, in all parts of the battlefield, were 
elated beyond measure at the success that so far had 
attended the engagement. Many wounded men insisted 
on remaining in the front line despite their hurts. It 
was afterwards remarked, indeed, that this battle filled 
the hospitals and ambulances with the cheeriest lot of 
wounded ever previously observed : and on the very 
battlefield injured men talked and laughed gaily as they 
limped back out of the firing line, each with the eternal 
cigarette in his mouth. Many, to whom it was the first 



NEUVE CHAPELLE 199 

occasion of their being in action, were to be seen laden 
with inchelhauhen and other trophies. 

However, it soon became evident that this point, the 
bridge over the River des Layes, was considerably more 
important than had been previously realized. A message 
was sent back to the artillery, but circumstances- 
militated against its support being effective : for not 
only had the ranges to be ascertained under difficult 
conditions, the bridge being beyond the village and 
presenting little mark for fire, but the danger of hitting 
friendly troops, separated from hostile only by a stream^ 
was considerable. Two Indian battalions, indeed, the 2nd 
and 9th Gurkha Rifles, of the Dehra Dun Brigade, which 
succeeded eventually in penetrating into the Bois du 
Biez, had to be withdrawn on this account. Sir Douglas 
Haig, watching the operations at this point closely,, 
saw that the support of infantry as well as of artillery 
was needed. Afternoon was now passing into evenings 
and it was doubtful whether much more could be done 
that day. But reinforcements from the 1st Corps, 
entrenched in the neighbourhood of Givenchy, which 
lay some miles south, were available, and the General 
directed that one or more battalions of the 1st Brigade 
should be sent up. During the morning the 1st Corps had, 
while the assault on Neuve Chapelle was in progress, 
delivered from Givenchy simultaneously a supplementary 
attack, which, however, accomplished nothing more 
than the holding fast of the enemy in front, the German 
wire being insufficiently cut. Three battalions could be 
spared, and were accordingly sent to Richebourg St» 
Vaast as supports for the Indians. But the sun, blood- 
red against the ruined village, was declining, and 
darkness was beginning to settle. Meanwhile, at half- 
past five ' Port Arthur ' had fallen. Reinforcements 



200 NEUVE CHAPELLE 

from general reserve, including the Seaf orth Highlanders 
and the 3rd Royal Fusiliers, had been brought up. The 
Highlanders delivered a notably dashing charge, and 
the stronghold was at length stormed successfully at 
the point of the bayonet. But no further progress had 
been made at the bridge, which the Germans, who had 
brought up some reinforcements, were defending more 
strongly than ever. Nor had the brigades attacking 
Moulin de Pietre been more successful, the enemy 
having firmly secured themselves at the threatened 
points. Night coming on gradually brought operations 
to a standstill. The Indian and the 4th Corps proceeded 
to consolidate the positions they had gained, which, 
however, included little more than the village and its 
outskirts. 

Fighting continued long after darkness had set in, 
but died away towards midnight. Flares were sent up 
into the sky, and occasionally searchlights, illuminating in 
their cold beams the battered parapets, the dark patches 
of blood, and the still forms of the dead, played across 
the battlefield. The water filling many of the trenches, 
ditches, and shell craters glittered back their radiance. 
It was still dark when the troops again stood to arms, 
and twilight saw a reopening of the battle. Within the 
next few hours reserves and battalions from the 1st 
Corj^s, deployed in line of platoons with bayonets fixed, 
came hurrying up to reinforce the front line, and met, 
in their rough passage in short rushes over the pitted 
ground, withering fusillades from the enemy, who, also 
reinforced and with recovered nerve, were now pre- 
pared to offer desperate resistance. The events of the 
day, indeed, gave proof of this, for little headway 
could be made by the British at any point. It became 
obvious that further advance would be impossible until 



NEUVE CHAPELLE 201 

the artillery had dealt effectively with the various 
houses and defended spots which held up the troops 
along the entire front. But efforts made accordingly 
to direct the fire of the guns encountered an unfortunate 
mischance. Mist had allied itself with the difficulty of 
broken wires, severed over and over again under the 
heavy cannonading now brought to bear by the rein- 
forced Germans, to render impossible accuracy or 
skilful distribution of fire by means of aerial observation 
and telephonic communication. The artillery duel 
proved a trying ordeal to the infantry. All day long 
the great guns, whose tremendous detonations, in rapid, 
merciless succession, boomed or banged to the accom- 
paniment of hammering, racketing maxim fire, roared 
and bombarded, with shrapnel wailing and bullets 
whistling overhead. Men lay with nerves and senses 
jangled painfully by the ceaseless din. Once or twice 
only during those weary hours was there a minute's 
silence, when somewhere far above a lark was actually 
heard singing. But to bring fire to bear with sufficient 
accuracy on the vital points, the Moulin de Pietre and 
the bridgehead, was found impossible. Little progress 
could be made : the enemy were too strongly entrenched 
in front. And even where the British here and there 
succeeded in advancing and in occupying some ruined 
building, they had to be withdrawn owing to the 
difficulty of warning the batteries far in rear of their 
new positions. The Germans attempted several counter- 
attacks, repulsed with loss, especially in the neighbour- 
hood of the Bois du Biez, upon which, however, the 
British opened so effective an artillery fire that the 
enemy finally would not emerge from its shelter. Two 
regiments are believed to have been decimated here ; 
and for days afterwards the Germans were observed to 



202 NEUVE CHAPELLE 

be bringing bodies out of the wood and burying them 
in its rear. ToA^ards the end of the afternoon there 
came a hill. Those wounded who could dragged them- 
selves painfully to the rear, where, among the ruins of 
Neuve Chapelle, the Medical Corps were working under 
great difficulties. And at length, with the thunder 
of the guns lessened, but still growling, the shadows of 
night came stealing again over the battle-ground. 

Between 4.30 and 5 o'clock next morning, just at 
dawn, shouts of ' Stand to ! ' at many points in the 
line, whose hasty entrenchments had during the night 
been strengthened with barbed wire defences by the 
engineers, roused the British from their uneven slumbers. 
The Germans were counter-attacking on left, front, and 
right. A tremendous bombardment preluded their 
infantry attacks, but at every j)oint they were repelled 
easily and with heavy loss. It was hoped that during 
this day, March 12, the British offensive might be 
resumed with favourable results : and the 2nd Cavalry 
Division, with one Brigade of the North Midland 
Division, were placed at Sir Douglas Haig's disposal in 
order to render, should opportunity offer, immediate 
support to the infantry in their struggle for the Aubers 
ridge. The cavalry were accordingly moved forAvard 
during the afternoon with this purpose in view, an 
attempt, which proved, however, abortive, then being 
made to carry the enemy's positions along the Pietre 
road. But the initiative had by now been lost, and the 
battle was to take a different turn. 

It assumed, during the greater portion of the day, 
the form of incessant efforts on the part of the enemy 
to regain what had been lost. Reinforcements, Bavarian 
and Saxon regiments, were hurried into the fighting. 
These regiments, indeed, expressed great indignation at 



NEUVE CHAPELLE 203 

the manner in which they were flung into action during 
counter-attacks from the Bois du Biez. Behind the 
German lines, notably at Lille, something like a panic 
had occurred when the news of the British onslaught 
became known. Many German officers billeted at Lille 
retired to Tournai to sleep, and the large hospitals in 
the town were also removed there. But the Bavarians 
and Saxons had been billeted at Tourcoing, where they 
were resting after a spell in the trenches before Ypres. 
They were told that a slight mishap had occurred, and 
that a few British soldiers had penetrated into Neuve 
Chapelle, out of which these were to be driven. The 
orders given them were to reinforce the firing line, 
which, however, on advancing from the wood, they 
could not find, but discovered instead that they were 
alone and unsupported. In consequence the German 
attacks showed indications of half-heartedness as well 
as of exhaustion, and there were many surrenders in 
mass. On more than one occasion the men of the attack- 
ing line lay down and held up their hands as soon as fire 
was opened upon them. In this quarter, the Bois du Biez, 
one Bavarian force met with fearful losses at the hands 
of the Worcesters. It is recorded that, expecting 
apparently to find the British much farther back, they 
advanced in column of route, an officer on horseback 
with drawn sword in their midst, and a non-commis- 
sioned officer using a whip to spur them forward. 
Blundering into the fire of twenty-one machine-guns, 
their ranks dissolved into piles of convulsive forms. 
Nor were other attempts in this neighbourhood more 
successful. Near the cross-roads south of the village, 
in front of ' Port Arthur ', some seventy of the enemy 
who had got into a communication trench were cap- 
tured in a body. Only at several points on the left of 



204 NEUVE CHAPELLE 

the British line, not far from the Moulin de Pietre, did 
the Germans succeed in reaching the opposite trenches, 
from which, instantly expelled, they were pursued 
towards their own lines. The men of one British bat- 
talion, who had just had dinner and a rum ration served 
out to them, were attacked as they settled down to the 
meal and forced to evacuate their trench by Germans 
armed with bombs. A few moments later the indignant 
men retook the trench in a counter-attack of unparalleled 
fury, a substantial number of the enemy being captured. 
Little of the dinner remained, however, and nothing of 
the rum.i Another assault upon a second trench taken 
by the Germans gained the Victoria Cross for a brave 
captain, Avho, after one counter-attacking party of 
twenty-one men had been almost annihilated, dashed 
forward with eight men, under heavy fire, attacked the 
enemy with bombs and caj^tured the position, with the 
fifty-two Germans occupying it. At various points in 
the line of battle, where hostile attacks grew feeble as 
the day advanced, the British took the ofEensive. No 
small hopes were raised by the evident exhaustion of 
many of the German troops. Prisoners stated that 
their trenches had been full of water, that they had been 
for days without food, that all their officers had been 
killed, that whole battalions had been destroyed. Xever- 
theless, while the enemy showed this exhaustion in some 
places, at other places their determined and active resist- 
ance prohibited progress. The battle degenerated into a 
fierce trench engagement, and artillery duels, Avith in- 
fantry attacks and counter-attacks, displaced manoeuvring 
upon any set jolan. The broken German line had been 
able to readjust itself ; and deadlock once more set in. 

^ It is not clear whether this incident took place on this day 
or on that preceding : but March 12 seems the more likely. 



NEUVE CHAPELLE 205 

The Moulin de Pietre and the bridge over the River 
des Layes still formed the bases of the German resis- 
tance, Avhich thick mist, as on the day before, hindered 
the artillery from shelling. But all the characteristic 
difficulties of warfare on these fiat plains asserted them- 
selves also. Comparatively small parties of Germans, 
posted in groups of isolated houses or hasty entrench- 
ments, were able to cause advancing forces infinite delay. 
They made special use of houses so situated that machine- 
guns, skilfully placed, could sweep with their fire the 
adjacent fields : and these buildings, in some of which 
half a dozen maxims had been placed, had to be taken 
one by one after desperate fighting at close quarters. 
Under such conditions heavy British losses were inevit- 
able : it was, indeed, during the two last days of the 
battle that the principal casualties were sustained, those 
of the first day numbering, it is said, not more than 
2,500. Early in the afternoon, however, a general 
assault, which it was hoped, if successful, cavalry could 
follow up, was made against the German positions on 
the Pietre road. The Rifle Brigade, in face of a devas- 
tating fusillade, won the trench in their front, though 
impeded by wire entanglements, for cutting which two 
non-commissioned officers, who rushed forward volun- 
tarily, were awarded the Victoria Cross ; and other 
battalions worked their way, with serious losses, up to 
the houses about the Moulin de Pietre. Here the 
6th Gordons lost their commander, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Maclean, to whom a subaltern, hastening up and finding 
him lying in the open still alive, brought morphia to 
ease his suffering. ' Thank you,' the dying man said ; 
' and now, my boy, your place is not here. Go about 
your duty.' Some of the houses were stormed, and about 
fifty British armed with bombs rushed another trench 



206 NEUVE CHAPELLE 

and took eighty prisoners. But all other efforts at pro- 
gress were resolutely blocked. When Sir Philip Chet- 
wode, with the 5th Cavalry Brigade, reached the Rue 
de Bacquerot at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, he was 
informed that the situation was not sufficiently favour- 
able to make cavalry co-operation advisable. At night- 
fall it was decided, since the shattered buildings and 
flooded trenches won gave the British little advantage, 
to withdraw to the original position. 

The long-drawn-out battle had slowly spent its force. 
The day had seen the maintenance of all the ground 
previously won, and the taking of a little more of the 
ground so tenaciously held by the enemy. The charac- 
teristics of interminable trench Avarfare had reasserted 
themselves : and with mingled feelings, no doubt. Sir 
John French, after surveying the position carefully 
that evening, ordered the suspension of further offensive 
operations. 



FEINTED IN ENGLAND 
AT THE OXFOED TJNIVEESITY PEESS 



i 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY 



D Hilditch, A. Neville 

521 Battle sketches 1914-15 

H5 



r