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4 / «-. -f S 

J. » *.' U xJ 







General Editor: 


(^ritribidjokf . 









The chapters or sections are initialled by the 
several contributors, namely: — 

F. A. M. Frank A. Mumby. 

E. S. G. Edwin Sharpe Grew. 

C. G.-W. Claude Grahame-White. 
H. H. Harry Harper, 

D. H. David Hannay. 

(Vol. V) 



Chapter ■ Page 

I. The Progress of Italy's Campaign (May-December, 1915) - - - i 

II. The Gallipoli Campaign — Last Phase (August, igi5-January, 1916) - 10 

III. Dev^elopments of the War by Air - - - - - - -51 

IV. The Conquest of the Cameroons (September, 1914-February, 1916) - 59 

V. The Russian Front in the Winter of 1915-16 ----- 77 

VI. Champagne and the Winter Campaign on the French Front (Sep- 
tember, 1915-January, 1916) ----- .--S6 

VII. The Execution of Nurse Cavell (October, 1915) - - - - loi 

VIII. Salonika and the Balkan Campaign (November, 1915-January, 1916) 113 

IX. With the Canadians on the Western Front (October, 1915- 
January, 1916) ----------- 150 

X. The Second Winter on the British Front (November, 1915- 

March, 1916) ----------- i_|.^. 

*XI. The Russian Advance in Asia Minor (April 1915-April, 1916) - - 174 

XII. India and her Neighbours in the Great War - - - 189 

XIII. Portugal and the World War - - -218 

XIV. Verdun — First Phase (February 21-April 12, 1916) . - - - 225 
XV. The Spring Campaign on the British Front, 1916 - - - . 246 

XVI. Campaigns in Egypt and the Soudan (February, 1915-May, 19 16) - 275 

XVII. Submarines, Mines, and Raids (January-May, 1916) - - - . -501 

XVIII. The Siege of Kut - - - - - - - - - - -314 




His Majesty Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy 
Field-Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, K.C. B. _ _ - 
Admiral Sir David Beatty _ . _ _ _ _ 


- Facing p. \ 20 


German Colonies in the Pacific at the Outbreak of War, 1914 
German Colonies in West Africa at the Outbreak of War, 1914 
India and the Campaigns of the Middle East _ _ _ - - 
Map showing French and German Positions in the Battle of Verdun 







^ o^' 






(May-December, 19 15) 

Italy's Lengthy Assailable Frontier — The Northern Battle Line — Consolidation of Positions along 
the Trentino and Carnic Frontiers — Eight Months' Mountain Fighting and its Results — The Advance on 
the Isonzo Sector — Preliminary Disappointment — Tolmino, Gorizia, and the Carso — The October Ofifen- 
sive — Trench Warfare— Summary of the Italian Gains. 

THROUGHOUT the summer 
and autumn of 191 5 Italy was 
doing- spade-work. That is 
not a flattering- way of describing- the 
daring" and incredible ingenuity of her 
soldiers in the Alpine passes of the 
Val di Daone, the Val Suoana, and 
the Col di Lana; or the scientific pres- 
sure exerted by her engineers and her 
artillery, backed by some desperate 
bravery on the part of her infantry in 
the Gorizia sector of the fiohtino- : but it 
qualifies very well the preparations that 
had to be made before Italy could take 
part in a damaging offensive against 
Austria in the spring of 1916. The 
strategical disadvantages under which 
Italy laboured when she declared war 
need be only briefly recapitulated. The 
Austrian frontier of the Trentino, the 
Tyrol, and along the Carnic Alps had 
been so desiened that Austrian forces 

posted there could be dislodged only 
by great and continuous effort, and 
while they were not dislodged were an 
unremoved menace to the rear of any 
Italian army proceeding eastwards to 
attack Austria on that frontier of the 
Isonzo where alone was a vulnerable 
point. Thus it was impossible to strike 
at that vulnerable front, of some 30 
miles or so, without first securinij im- 
munity from a counter-stroke along 
some 500 miles of mountainous fron- 
tier in Northern Italy. The blow was 
struck by Italy at the Isonzo front, and 
slow as was the progress, and disap- 
pointing as the results were to expec- 
tations that were too extravagant, this 
was the fundamental sector of the 
Italian offensive. But the offensive- 
defensive along the other portions of 
the wedge-shaped Austrian intrusion 
of territory was not less remarkable, 


The Great World War 

and will remain perennially interesting 
as an example of skilled mountain war- 
fare with modern weapons. The task 
set to Italy's mountain troops was that 
of a rectification of the northern fron- 
tier. This was accomplished by driv- 
ing- the Austrian posts from it inwards, 
and then by taking up new positions, 
which could be strengthened against 

This northern Italian line of battle 
— not continuous, of course, as are 
to all intents and purposes the lines of 
trenches scored across F" ranee, but join- 
ing a series of strategic points — began 
at the Stelvio Pass on the west, running 
southwards thence to the Tonale Pass, 
and farther south still past the Val di 
Daone to Lake Idro and Lake Garda. 
Then the line ran eastwards past Ala 
before it turned north again to pass 
over the valley of the Astico past 
Brenta, over the Val Sugana, outside 
the valley of the Cismone, and so far- 
ther north to the Col di Lana, Cortina 
on the River Ampezzo, and the other 
fortified posts of the Cadore. This 
line was held, attacked, pushed back 
along all its length between May and 
October, 191 5. At first the work pro- 
ceeded with speed. Before the begin- 
ning of July a great part of the right 
side of the Daone Valley, the Val 
Vestino group between the Idro and 
Garda lakes, the Vallarsa, Tesino in 
the Brenta Valley, Fiera di Primiero 
in the Cismone Valley, and Cortina in 
the Ampezzo Valley, were occupied 
and strengthened. Along some 200 
miles of frontier the Austrian outposts 
fell back under the pressure of the 
Italian attack. 

During July the pressure on the 

Cadore region, which is in the north- 
east corner of Italy, was increased. 
In the high valleys from Cordevole to 
the Padola the attack was pressed; 
the whole region of Ampezzo fell into 
Italian hands in July; and a strong 
foothold was obtained on the mountain 
ranges which descend from the Col di 
Lana towards Agai and Pieve di 
Livinallongo. This campaign in the 
north-eastern corner was typical of the 
warfare waged along the long frontier 
of the Trentino wedge. The results 
may appear small when estimated in 
terms of mountain heights and little- 
known mountain towns; but the rough 
ground, the serious obstacles prepared 
by the enemy, and the tenacious re- 
sistance offered by the Austrians, who 
in this region were the pick of their 
mountain troops, made the achieve- 
ment extraordinary. Through August 
the Italian pressure in these heights 
went on without slackening; in Sep- 
tember the strong position of Mount 
Coston was taken ; and through Octo- 
ber and November, in the face of an 
intensifying severity of weather, some 
very strong positions on the Col di 
Lana, and the mountain rangres which 
stretch from the Sasso di Rezzodi to 
Ornolla, were conquered after a severe 

Farther to the north and north-east 
in the Carnic Alps some swift offensive 
operations at the beginning of the war 
seized the high passes of Degano, 
Raccolana, and Dogna, and thus shut 
the way to any Austrian incursion 
along that difficult front. After this 
the Italians contented themselves with 
standing on the offensive at these 
points, while letting Austrian attacks 

Drawn by H. W. Koekkoelc 

A Climb to Victory: tbe Alpini, barefooted, scaling Monte Nero, to surprise the Austrians on the summit 

at daybreak 

The Great World War 

batter themselves fruitlessly against 
these strongly consolidated positions. 
The Ualicin Carnic troops joined hands 
with those of their neighbours on their 
left in the Cadore sector in repulsing 
the Austrians from the precipitous 

domitable labour, spirit, and ingenuity 
to points at which it was least expected, 
and the fireof their heavy pieces against 
Malborghetto, Predil, and Plezzo was 
most efficacious. To sum up broadly 
results which comprised advances vary- 

Map showing Italian Advance along the Trentino and Cadore Fronts and Principal Points seized by 

the Italians during 1915 

group of the High Degano, which they 
had taken by a surprise attack at the 
beginning of the war. They stretched 
out their other hand, the right, towards 
the extreme left of the main Italian 
attack on the Isonzo front, and took 
part in attacks on Plezzo. Through- 
out these operations the Italians con- 
tinually made effective use of their 
artillery, which they dragged with in- 

ing from a mile to ten or twenty miles 
along this 300-mile front of the Tirolo- 
Trentino, the Italians at the end of 
191 5 were in possession of the right 
side of the Daone. Valley (west) and 
of the Chiese Valley just to the south 
of it, well beyond Condino; of the 
Ledro Valley and Bezzeca, west of 
Riva on Lake Garda, which is the 
apex of the Trentino; of the Adige 

The Campaign on the Isonzo 

V'^alley as far as Mori on the west side 
and as far as Rovereto on the east. 
Notable progress had been made to 
Brento and to Borgo in the Val Sugana; 
and progress less in mileage but not 
less in effort from Tonale in the ex- 
treme west to Pontebbana in the east. 
During these operations the amount 
of fighting, gauged by the numbers 
taking part in any engagement, was 
not oreat, but it was continuous. It 
demanded qualities of energy, initia- 
tive, and perseverance of the highest 
order ; and when there was any con- 
flict the advantage usually rested with 
the Italians, who were continually 
"leading" — in the language of the 
boxing ring — and who always went 
forward, never back. Gradually the 
opposing forces closed on one another, 
and the contest took the form of trench 
warfare even when trenches and barbed 
wire were strung along heights ten 
thousand feet above the sea. But in 
these regions the strategic positions of 
the forces were no longer in favour of 
Austria. If the Italians could advance 
no farther without paying a high price, 
the Austrians were in the same posi- 
tion. A flank attack on the main 
Italian armies was no longer practical, 
and the campaign in its largest element 
was a face-to-face contest on the Isonzo 
front, with the latent possibility that 
the Italians in the north-eastern corner 
might, unless carefully watched, inflict 
a damagrino- blow on the Austrian 

All the foreoroino- fiohtino-, notwith- 
standing the diversity of conditions 
under which it took place, and the 
variety of the objects at which it aimed, 
micrht be classed as offensive-defensive 

operations. But along the course of 
the Isonzo from where the Italians 
pushed forward to Plezzo on its upper 
waters to where the river drains 
through marshes into the Adriatic, the 
Italian main campaign was offensive. 
The front, though continuous, was 
divisible into four sectors. The most 
northerly was the sector Plezzo to 
Tolmino, with Monte Nero as an 
object to be reached between these 
two points. Tolmino was one of the 
two great Austrian bridgeheads. Gor- 
izia was the other; and while the loss of 
either implied the risk to the Austrians 
that the Italians would thrust a widcn- 
inor wedoe into their front, Gorizia 
was the more important of the two, 
because a crossino- made oood here 
would permit the deployment of the 
penetrating force into the plain. The 
next section southward was Tolmino 
to Plava. Then the crucial sector 
which stretched from Plava over the 
hills to the shoulders of Oslavia, Cal- 
vario, and Podcjora, runnino- onwards 
to the south across the narrow avenue 
of the Gorizia plain till it again stepped 
up on to the shoulders of the great 
plateau of the Carso, with Monte San 
Michele as the most northerly, and 
Monte Sei Busi as a more southerly 
but valuable height. Thence the sector, 
when it had been pushed to its limits 
by the Italians, went on through Selz 
and Monfalcone to the sea. 

The campaign on the Isonzo began 
at a pace which was modified in a very 
noticeable deoree as the Italians found 
themselves brought up against the 
Austrian defences. Between May 
24 and June 4, Italian forces came 
right up to the Isonzo except at 

The Great World War 

the Austrian bridgeheads of Gorizia 
and Tolmino, and north of Tolmino 
crossed the Isonzo and occupied the 
lower slopes of Monte Nero. That 
does not appear at first sight to be 
slow progress for an army on the move, 
but it might have been a great deal 
better but for two misfortunes, of 
which the first was a natural one, and 
arose from the fact that the Isonzo 
was in heavy flood (which it seldom is 
so late in May), and the other was a 
military one, due to the hesitation of 
the cavalry leader. 

The only way to get through the 
Austrian position at Gorizia, without 
the great loss of life consequent on 
battering a way through by a frontal 
attack, was to outflank it; and this 
could be most readily done by seizing 
that plateau of the Carso which is 
thrust forward like a bastion into the 
low eround and overlooks the town. 
The cavalry general had been in- 
structed to seize the bridges that cross 
the Isonzo at Pieris, just north of 
Monfalcone, cross them, and if pos- 
sible obtain a footing on the Carso to 
be held at all costs. He learnt that 
the Pieris bridges were mined, and 
while he was still hesitating to risk it 
they were indubitably blown up. Per- 
haps a quick dash would have caught 
the Austrians unawares, saved the 
bridges, and what was of supreme 
importance, saved time. The Italian 
cavalry was out of action — as cavalry 
— from that time forward, and the 
Isonzo had to be crossed by pontoon. 
Then the river took a hand against 
the army which had thrown away the 
first trick. It came down in spate, 
delaying the passage of the troops, 

and gave the opportunity to the 
Austrians to blow up a canal bank at 
Sagrado, and so flooded the country 
that the advance of the Italians against 
the southern half of the Carso was 
blocked. The delay was of the greatest 
value to the Austrians, for though 
their defences were already strong, 
they were enabled to strengthen them 
further with men and machine-guns. 
From May 28 to June 3 the flood 
waters held up the Italian advance; 
and though by June 5 their first troops 
got across the river near Pieris and 
drove the Austrian covering troops 
back, the main attack on the Carso, 
which should have been made along 
a wide front, was again postponed till 
more troops could be brought over 
the river, higher up, to support it. It 
was not till June 27, after a struggle 
in which the attacking infantry dis- 
played the greatest valour and deter- 
mination, that a crossing at Sagrado 
opposite the blunt point of the Carso 
salient was consolidated, and the 
Italians could enter on the preliminary 
investment of the plateau. 

Farther north on the middle Isonzo, 
at Plava, the Italians fought their way 
on to the left bank of the river, and 
succeeded with much difficulty in 
widening and consolidating that im- 
portant bridgehead which separated 
the two strongholds of Tolmino and 
Gorizia; and the attacks of the Alpine 
troops on Monte Nero gave them pos- 
session of the central part of that 
group, and also of part of the ranges 
which look down on Tolmino. This 
struggle went on with good results, 
though not with accelerating progress, 
till the autumn ; and the same observa- 

In Austrian Territory 

tion might be made with 
regard to progress on the 
eastern side of the Plava 
bridgehead, which stopped 
short of the dominating 
height of Verte. 

But whatever progress 
was made either at Tol- 
mino or at Plava, it always 
remained subsidiary to 
advance towards Gorizia, 
where the difficulties, great 
indeed, were less those of 
mountainous terrain than 
of skilfully constructed 
Austrian positions, and 
where, too, a substantial 
advance must outflank all 
the Austrian entrench- 
ments and stronorholds on 


the hills. Gorizia was from 
a military point of view 
only a name. The import- 
ance of winning through 
there arose from the exist- 
ence of the plain which 
is situated there between 
two shoulders of hills, the 
southern of which was 
that of the Carso and its 
environs, the northern a 
group designated for con- 
venience by the names 
Oslavia, Sabotino, Cal- 
vario, Podgora. The at- 
tack on the three points 
last named was initiated in 
July, and part of the slopes 
were occupied by very hard 
fighting. At the same time 
the Italian forces in the 
southern Carso sector, at 
length relieved of some 

Map showing the Area over which the Italians advanced into Austrian 
Territory on the Isonzo Front in 1915 

The Great World War 

part of their difficulties, attacked the 
ridofe between Sa^rado and Monfal- 
cone. They made their way up the 
ridge in July by desperately hard fight- 
ing; their centre holding firm at Cas- 
tello Nuovo, while the wings climbed 
with desperate slowness inch by inch 
at Monte San Michele and Monte Sei 
Busi. They took Monte Sei Busi more 
than once, and lost it. On July 18 
their patient advance developed into 
a furious onslaught which lasted three 
days and gave them 3500 prisoners. 
Then came the Austrian counter- 
attack, at last beaten back, and leaving 
another 1500 prisoners behind. Then 
another Italian thrust, in which a 
recriment of Bersaolieri reached the 
crest of San Michele, but had, greatly 
to their disgust, to be withdrawn. 
The battle of the Carso lasted with 
attack and counter-attack till the end 
of the first week of August. By then 
the Italians were firmly established on 
the edge of the plateau. They were 
nearly at the top of Monte San 
Michele, and at last they were in 
indisputable possession of Monte Sei 
Busi. After that the operations there 
settled down for some time to the 
routine of trench work and bomb- 

On October 18, as a last flicker be- 
fore winter should settle down on the 
heights, the Italians renewed a vigor- 
ous offensive all along their Isonzo 
front. On Monte Nero the positions 
were pushed down closer to Tolmino; 
against Tolmino itself some progress 
was made on the hills of Santa Maria 
and Santa Lucia; and a new thrust 
was meide at the Gorizia plain, not 
from the Carso, where indeed opera- 

Fnmitive Warfare on the Italian Front: an Austrian 
device for rolling rocks and boulders down the mountains 
on to Italian troops 

tions still went on, but from the region 
just north of west. After a memor- 
able struggle the Italians blasted their 
way to a line which extended from the 
heiohts of Sabotino, through the villaee 
of Oslavia, to the crest of Mount Pod- 
gora and the summit of Mount Cal- 
vario. That offensive was conducted 
with the utmost determination, and the 
fight, alternating between attack and 
the beating back of counter-attack, 
went on almost unbrokenly for six 
weeks. They established themselves 
strongly in the little village that lies 
underneath Mount Podo;ora, and so 
looked down into Gorizia, and at one 
time in November were in complete 
possession of Mount Sabotino. Up 
to the end of the year the fighting 

Results of the 191 5 Campaign 

scarcely ceased here; and towards the 
end of this long struggle they were 
close to the Gorizia bridge. At last 
they turned their guns on Gorizia it- 
self, which they could have blown to 
pieces long before, but had spared till 
it was evident that the Austrians were 
making use of this leniency to mount 
ouns in the town itself. 

Meanwhile, on the Carso, progress 
was made on the southern edge to- 
wards Doberdo, and on the northern 
slope a number of trenches were taken 
and held towards San Martino. At 
the end of the year the Italians were 
favourably placed south of Gorizia for 
their spring campaign; north of it they 
dominated it from Oslavia. Their 
operations in the eight months of war- 
fare might have justly been summed 

The Duke of Genoa, Uncle of the King of Italy, and 
his "Lieutenant-General" in His Majesty's absence. at the 

The Duke of Aosta, commanding one of the Italian 
Armies at the Front 

up by saying that their methodical 
advance had never been interrupted ; 
that they had immobilized some 800,000 
Austrian troops, and occupied their 
guns; while during these operations 
the Italian army had captured 30,000 
prisoners, 5 guns, 65 machine-guns, 
and a great quantity of ammunition, 
rifles, and military stores. The moral 
and political effect of their operations 
was far greater. They had played their 
part in the siege of the Central Powers, 
and never in any week or month of 
their campaign had allowed the enemy 
to withdraw any part of his forces or 
to weaken his defensive line at any 
point. Along the sector where the 
more intensive fighting took place, 
that of the Isonzo, they held the 
enemy in much the same fashion that 
the British in France did their share 


The Great World War 

of holding up German divisions — a 
continuous offensive-defensive. That 
they were able to do so with so much 
success was the best proof of the soH- 
darity of the ItaHan people, which from 
the King downwards were inflexibly 
determined to prosecute the war. The 
King was nominally in supreme com- 
mand, his uncle, Prince Thomas of 
Savoy, Duke of Genoa, acting as his 
'* lieutenant-general " during his ab- 
sence at the front; though the actual 
control of operations was in the hands 

of General Count Luigi Cadorna with 
General Count Parro as Chief of Staff. 
The Second and Third Armies which 
were then engaged on the great thrust- 
ing operations to the east were com- 
manded by General Frugoni and the 
Duke of Aosta. Generals Brusati and 
Nava were on the northern front with 
the Second and Fourth Armies, and 
General Lequio had the Fifth Army 
of Alpine troops and Bersaglieri. 

E. S. G. 



(August, 1915-January, 1 916) 

Major-General de Lisle Succeeds Lord Stopford — Sir Ian Hamilton's Appeal for Reinforcements- 
Why they could not be sent— Effect on the Gallipoli Campaign — The 29th Division moves to Suvla — 
15altlc of August 21 — Superb Advance of Midland Yeomanry — Death of Brigadier-General Kenna, V.C., 
and Sir J. P. Milbanke, V.C. — General Birdwood's new Advance — The Anzacs' Attack on Hill 60 — 
Anzac and Suvla Firmly Linked — Lieutenant-General Byng Succeeds to Command of 9th Army 
Corps — Anzac Heroism on Hill 60 — Fate of Gallipoli Campaign Sealed — loth Division Transferred to 
Salonika— Some Brilliant Exploits — The Stories of the Soiitldand and the Mercian — Sir Ian Hamilton 
Recalled and Succeeded by Sir Charles Monro — Sir Ian Hamilton's Farewell Order and Final Tributes — 
Sir Charles Monro Decides for Evacuation — His Reasons — Lord Kitchener's Visit — Closing Incidents of 
the Campaign — A Disastrous Storm and Blizzard — The Newfoundlanders Win their Spurs — Dashing 
Advance by the Lowland Territorials — Suvla and Anzac Evacuated — Praise from Sir Charles Monro — 
Total Losses in Dardanelles — Completing the Evacuation at Helles — Our Last Attack — Final Scenes — 
The Prime Minister's Tribute. 

ALTHOUGH the Suvla Bay ad- 
ZJk vance had plainly miscarried, 
-^ ^ and the Anzacs had found 
themselves unable to hold the summit 
of Sari Bair, Sir Ian Hamilton was 
confident that with prompt and ade- 
quate reinforcements he could still 
seize the Narrows and win the cam- 
paign. Major-General de Lisle, who 
had been summoned from Cape Helles 
temporarily to succeed Lord Stopford 

in the command of the 9th Corps on 
August 15, was accordingly instructed 
to make it his most pressing business 
to get the troops into fighting trim 
again for a fresh attack upon Ismail 
Oglu Tepe and the Anafarta Spur, 
which had held up the advance since 
the landino- on the nifjht of Auoust 
6-7. All ranks, however, had suffered 
severely in the previous operations, so 
that the loth (Irish) Division (less 

Sir Ian Hamilton's Vital Need 


than one brigade), and the nth (Nor- 
thern) Division of the New Army, 
with the 53rd and the 54th Territorial 
Divisions, all placed at the disposal of 
the new commander, made a far less 
imposing force than appeared on paper, 
totalling, owing to casualties, under 
30,000 rifles. When Sir Ian Hamilton 

Lieutenant-General Francis J. Davies, K.C.B. , com- 
manding the British Troops at Helles 
<From a photograph by Gale & Polden) 

came to take stock he found that the 
full fiohtincr strength of the Allies and 
their foes — as near as this last could 
be gauged — stood at that time roughly 
as follows: at Suvla, 30,000; at Anzac, 
under Lieutenant-General Birdwood, 
25,000; and at Helles, under Lieu- 
tenant-General Davies, 23,000, the 
French corps alongside consisting of 
some 17,000 rifles. The Turkish 
strength on all fronts was estimated at 

110,000, against our total of 95,000. 
Also the enemy held all the vantages 
of ground, and knew perfectly well 
how to make the best use of them. 
He was known, too, to have plenty of 
ammunition, and Sir Ian Hamilton 
was bound to confess that his hopes 
that the fresh drafts with which his 
adversaries were always able to refill 
their ranks would be of inferior quality, 
had invariably been disappointed. 

Having weighed all these points he 
sent Lord Kitchener his urgent cable, 
on August 16, pointing out that, if the 
campaign was to be brought to a quick, 
victorious conclusion, large reinforce- 
ments must be sent to him at once. 
Autumn, he pointed out, was already 
upon them, and there was not a 
moment to be lost. 

" At that time", he writes in his dispatch 
of December 1 1, "my British divisions alone 
were 45,000 under establishment, and some 
of my fine battalions had dwindled down 
so far that I had to withdraw them from 
the fighting-line. Our most vital need was 
the replenishment of these sadly depleted 
ranks. When that was done I wanted 
50,000 fresh rifles. From what I knew of 
the Turkish situation, both in its local and 
general aspects, it seemed humanly speak- 
ing a certainty that if this help could be 
sent to me at once we could still clear a 
passage for our fleet to Constantinople. It 
may be judged, then, how deep was my 
disappointment when I learnt that the 
essential drafts, reinforcements, and muni- 
tions could not be sent to me, the reason 
given being one which prevented me from 
any further insistence." 

The reason, as explained in an earlier 
chapter, was the need then existing 
for all the available men and munitions 
for the Allied offensive on the Western 
front in the following month. The 


The Great World War 

drain on the military resources of the 
country, with its simultaneous cam- 
paigns on three continents, was, of 
course, tremendous; and the Home 
Government's refusal to reinforce Sir 
Ian at this time was doubdess inevit- 
able; but it sealed the fate of the 
Gallipoli campaign. It was more as a 
forlorn hope than anything else, there- 
fore, that Sir Ian renewed the attack 
on August 2 1, after reinforcing the 
northern wing with the 2nd Mounted 
Division (organized as dismounted 
troops) from Egypt, and the 29th 
Division from the southern area. He 
was faced with the grave possibility, 
since he could not depend upon receiv- 
ing reinforcino- drafts, that failure in 
the new attack might involve the loss 
of all the new ground already won. 
He decided, therefore, to mass every 
available man against Ismail Oglu 
Tepe as a first step towards clearing 
the Anafarta valley, or, if this proved 
impossible, towards securing Suvla 
Bay and Anzac Cove from shell-fire. 
The task was infinitely harder now 
than a fortnight before. All hope of 
seriously surprising the enemy had 
vanished. It was well known that he 
had made the best use of the interval 
to strengthen every yard of ground in 
the threatened regions of the north, 
and that he was ready for any emer- 
gency. The chief element of surprise 
reserved for him was the secret arrival 
from the southern area of the famous 
29th Division, the Old Guard of Galli- 
poli, heroes of every action at Helles 
since the famous landing on April 25, 
and representative of all four countries, 
England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. 
Hope on our side mainly centred in 

these well-tried regiments, though very 
few remained in their ranks of the 
men who had shared the glory of the 
landing four months previously — -the 
last of our original Regular Army to 
take the field. Those ranks had been 
filled two or three times over in the 
course of the campaign, but, so inspir- 
ing is the force of example, the high 
traditions of the old 29th had never 
suffered; and it was felt that if the 
enemy's lines of communication were 
to be cut at all these were the troops 
to do it. So they were shipped in 
secret at Helles — where they had held 
their ground since we last saw them, 
repulsing Turkish counter-attacks while 
the northern operations were in pro- 
gress — and landed from trawlers at 
Suvla Bay. 

They shared the honour of the attack 
on Ismail Oglu Tepe on August 21 
with the iith (Northern) Division of 
the New Armv on their rioht, the loth 
(Irish) Division, and the newly-arrived 
2nd Mounted Division, being held in 
general reserve. Away to their left 
the 53rd and 54th Territorial Divi- 
sions were instructed meantime to hold 
the enemy from Sulajik to Kiretch 
Tepe Sirt, General Birdwood at the 
same time co-operating in the Anzac 
region to the south by swinging for- 
ward his left flank to Susuk Kuyu 
and Kaiajik Aghala (Hill 60). 

Sir Ian Hamilton describes Ismail 
Oglu Tepe, the hill forming the south- 
west corner of the Anafarta Sagir spur, 
which was his special objective on this 
occasion, as a strong natural barrier 
against any invader from the yEgean 
bent on marching direct against the 
Anafartas : — 

Dogged by Ill-luck 

"The hill", he writes, "rises 350 feet 
from the plain, with steep spurs jutting out 
to the west and south-west, the whole of it 
covered with dense holly oak scrub, so 
nearly im [penetrable that it breaks up an 
attack and forces troops to move in single 
file along goat-tracks between the bushes. 
The comparatively small number of guns 
landed up to date was a weakness, seeing 
we had now to storm trenches, but the 

tending from Hill 70 (Scimitar Hill) 
to Hill 112, the 87th Brigade on the 
left and the 86th on the right, with the 
South Wales Borderers in the centre 
connecting the two. The 88th Brigade 
was in reserve. The nth Division, 
which was to attack on the right of 
the 29th, occupied the front trenches 
on the right of Chocolate Hill. 

With the 9lh Corps in GalHpoh: removing wounded at Suvla Bay 

battleships were there to back us, and as 
the bombardment was limited to a narrow 
front of a mile it was hoped the troops 
would find themselves able to carry the 
trenches, and that the impetus of the charge 
would carry them up to the top of the crest. 
Our chief difficulty lay in the open nature 
and shallow depth of the ground available 
for the concentration for attack. The only 
cover we possessed was the hill Lala Baba, 
200 yards from the sea, and Yilghin Burnu 
[Chocolate Hill], half a mile from the 
Turkish front, the ground between these 
two being an exposed plain." 

For this formidable task of storming 
this Turkish position the 29th Division 
occupied the front trenches on the night 
of the 20th, ranged along the line ex- 

As ill luck would have it, a stranoe 
mist crept up during the following day. 
wrapping Suvla Bay and plain so that 
the enemy's lines during the afternoon 
could scarcely be seen. This was the 
more unfortunate because it had been 
calculated that the enemy's gunners 
would be blinded by the declining sun, 
and the Turkish trenches shown up 
clearly by the evening light, as would, 
indeed, have been the case on ninety- 
nine days out of a hundred. The 
Commander-in-Chief wished to post- 
pone the attack, but apparently this 
was not possible; "and so, from 2.30 
p.m. to 3 p.m., a heavy but none too 
accurate artillery bombardment from 


The Great World War 

land and sea was directed against the 
Turkish first line, while twenty-four 
machine-guns in position on Yilghin 
Burnu did what they could to lend a 
hand ", The infantry attack was begun 
on the right of the line at 3 p.m. by 
the 34th Brigade of the nth Division, 
which met with immediate success, the 
Turkish trenches between Hetman 
Chair and Aire Kavak being carried 
practically without loss. Unfortunately 
the 32nd Brigade, losing direction in 
its advance on the left against Hetman 
Chair and the communication-trench 
connecting that point with the south- 
west corner of the Ismail Oglu Tepe 
spur, which the 29th Division was 
attacking, failed to make good its point. 
The result was disastrous, for thouo-h 
the 32nd Brigade, which, instead of 
moving east had moved north-east, 
attempted with the utmost bravery to 
carry the communication-trench from 
that direction, it never succeeded in 
rectifying the original mistake. The 
capture of this communication-trench 
was vital to the success of our plans, 
and the 33rd Brigade was sent up in 
haste with orders to take it at all costs 
— only to repeat the fatal mistake of 
the 32nd, part of it marching north- 
east and part south-east to Susuk 

In the meantime the 29th Division, 
held back until 3.30, had been launched 
to the attack on Hill 70. On the left 
the 87th Brigade carried the trenches 
on the hill with great dash, but the 
86th on the right were checked by a 
raging forest fire right across their 
front. Bursting shrapnel from the 
enemy's guns, which had concentrated 
their fire all round Yilghin Burnu, or 

Chocolate Hill, had set fire to bush 
and scrub in all directions, and the 
flames had spread with alarming rapi- 
dity. When at length the B6th were 
able to press forward they found it 
impossible to advance up the valley 
between the two spurs owing to the 
failure of the 32nd Brigade on their 

With the Anzacs in GaHipoH: inside an Austrahan trench 

One man is using a periscope rifle while another keeps watch by 
means of a periscope. 

right. They then tried to attack east- 
wards, but were decimated, says the 
Commander-in-Chief, by a cross-fire of 
shell and musketry from the north and 
south-east. " The leading troops were 
simply swept off the top of the spur, 
and had to fall back to a ledge south- 
west of Scimitar Hill [Hill 70], where 
they found a little cover." Through 
no fault of their own, therefore, these 
maofnificent men were forced to admit 

The Advance of the Yeomanry 


failure; yet no troops ever tried harder 
to achieve the impossible. 

One supreme effort was yet to be 
made to retrieve the fortunes of this 
luckless day. The 2nd Mounted Di- 
vision of Yeomanry, which had been 
held in reserve behind Lala Baba, was 
moved up in open formation to take 
up a position in readiness behind 
Chocolate Hill. The march of these 
newly - arrived troops, approaching- 
Chocolate Hill in open formation under 
a remarkably accurate artillery -fire 
from the enemy's guns, moved vSir Ian 
Hamilton, and all who witnessed it, to 
a signal outburst of enthusiasm. 

" The advance of these English Yeomen", 
wrote the Commander-in-Chief, "was a 
sight calculated to send a thrill of pride 
through an)'one with a drop of English 
blood running in their veins. Such superb 
martial spectacles are rare in modern war. 
Ordinarily it should always be possible to 
bring up reserves under some sort of cover 
from shrapnel fire. Here, for a mile and a 
half, there was nothing to conceal a mouse, 
much less some of the most stalwart soldiers 
England has ever sent from her shores. 
Despite the critical events in other parts of 
the field, I could hardly take my .glasses 
from the Yeomen ; they moved like men 
marching on parade. Here and there a 
shell would take toll of a cluster; there they 
lay; there was no straggling; the others 
moved steadily on; not a man was there 
who hung back or hurried. But such an 
ordeal must consume some of the battle- 
winning fighting energy of those subjected 
to it, and it is lucky indeed for the Turks 
that the terrain, as well as the lack of 
trenches, forbade us from letting the 2nd 
Mounted Division loose at close quarters 
to the enemy without undergoing this pre- 
vious too heavy baptism of fire." 

Having reached their objective these 
unwavering lines formed up behind 

the. infantry in front of Hill jo. It 
fell to the 2nd South Midland Brigade, 
under Brigadier-General the Earl of 
Longford, to make the last decisive 
effort to save the day with a final 
charge up Hill yo, after the South 
Wales Borderers, advancing late in 
the afternoon, had dug themselves in 
beneath the crest. Every available 
gun had meantime again been concen- 
trated on the defiant heights, the whole 
horizon, according to Mr. Ashmead 
Bartlett, who watched the battle from 
Chocolate Hill, beino- almost blotted 
out with vast clouds of smoke and 
flames as the trees, scrub, homesteads, 
and the very grass burned furiously in 
all directions, " while the noise of the 
guns and the incessant and never- 
ceasing roar from thousands of rifles 
rendered the scene a perfect inferno ". 
It was almost dark when Lord Longr- 
ford's dismounted Yeomanry, consist- 
ing of the Bucks, Berks, and Dorsets, 
leaped to their feet when at last the 
order came to charcre. Bush fires and 
ousts of rifle and machine-o-un fire 
were encountered without flinching, 
but the very nature of the obstacles 
rendered progress in places a matter 
of inches. On the left the Yeomen 
advanced as far as the foremost lines 
of the 29th Division; on the right they 
also got as far as the leading battalions ; 
and, as soon as it was dark, one regi- 
ment, pushing up the valley between 
Hill 70 and Hill 100 (on Ismail Oglu 
Tepe), succeeded in carrying the 
trenches on a small knoll near the 
centre of that horseshoe. 

In the darkness this gallant regi- 
ment imagined that it had carried 
Hill 100 itself, a success which, as Sir 


The Great World War 

Ian Hamilton explained, would have 
enabled our line to hang- on and dio- in. 
But when the trium[)hant report first 
came in, some doubt was felt as to its 
accuracy, and a reconnaissance by stafl 
officers showed that it was indeed too 
good to be true. The captured knoll, 
carried by a brilliant charge at the 

Nothing, however, could dim the 
glory of the English Yeomen's deeds 
in this epic battle of August 21, 1915. 
The Bucks, Berks, and Dorsels were 
specially mentioned in dispatches for 
their great gallantry, and a Divisional 
Order was published at the time ex- 
pressing the general's intense apprecia- 

How the Yeomen won their Spurs at Suvla: the charge of the dismounted men in the battle of August 21, 1915 

point of the bayonet, proved to be a 
good way from Hill lOO, a strongly- 
held semicircle of Turkish trenches 
still denying us access to the vital 
summit. The men were too done, and 
had lost too heavily, says the Com- 
mander-in-Chief, to admit of a second 
immediate assault, and as the knoll 
actually held would have been swept 
by the enemy's fire at daybreak, there 
was no help for it but to fall back under 
cover of darkness to our original line. 

tion of the conduct of all regiments 
and all ranks in this, their first eno-aoe- 
ment. It was on this occasion that 
Private Alfred Potts, of the ist Berks, 
earned the distinction of being the 
first Yeoman to win the V.C. in the 
Great World War. The Berkshire 
Yeomen, led by Major E. S. Gooch, 
late 7th Hussars, carried the Turkish 
trenches in the final charge with irre- 
sistible dash and determination. Major 
Gooch, the first to reach the enemy's 

Death of Brigadier-General Kenna, V.C. 


trenches, fell wounded in the head — 
to be most bravely defended by 
Second-Lieutenant H. C. Blyde — and 
was succeeded in the command by the 
adjutant, Captain F. B. Hurndall, 
20th Hussars, who showed a splendid 
example of courage and leadership. 
Private Potts was wounded in the 
charge, but could have returned to 
safety under cover of the darkness had 
he not chosen to stay behind with a 
private of the same regiment, more 
severely wounded than himself. To- 
gether these two Reading men— for 
they were fellow-townsmen as well as 
brothers -in -arms — remained under 
the precarious shelter of the Turkish 
trenches for forty-eight hours, never 
daring to show themselves by day, and 
sustained only by the water which 
Potts could find by crawling about at 
night among the dead bodies and 
removing their water-bottles. At last 
they decided, in despair of relief, to 
make a desperate effort to find their 
way back to the British lines. Private 
Andrews, the more seriously wounded 
man, made a brave attempt to crawl, 
but had to give it up. Thereupon 
Potts fixed a shovel to his equipment, 
and, usino- this as a sledoe, dra^ored 
him down the hill bit by bit for over 
600 yards, fired at by the Turks on the 
way, and taking altogether between 
five and six hours to reach the bottom. 
Eventually, by great good luck, at 
about 9.30 p.m. on the 23rd they suc- 
ceeded in reachino- our trenches, where 
stretchers were promptly found for 
both soldiers, who had long since been 
given up for dead. 

The Yeomen had to mourn the death 
of many of their best men in this ill- 

fated fight. On personal as well as 
public grounds Sir Ian Hamilton spe- 
cially deplored the loss of Lord Long- 
ford, commanding the 2nd South Mid- 
land Brigade, and Brigadier-General 
P.A.Kenna, V.C, both of whom were 
killed. Thomas Packenham, fifth Earl 
of Longford, had served with the 

Vol. V. 

Brigadier-General P. A. Kenna, V.C, killed in the 

battle of August 21, 1915 

(From a photograph by Bassano) 

Imperial Yeomanry and Household 
Cavalry in the South African cam- 
paign, and from 1907 to 191 1 com- 
manded the 2nd Life Guards. Briga- 
dier-General Kenna won his Victoria 
Cross in the famous charo-e of the 21st 
Lancers at Khartoum in 1898, when he 
saved thelifeof Major Crole Wyndham, 
of the same regiment, by taking him 
on his horse behind the saddle (Major 
Wyndham's horse having been killed), 
returning after the charge to assist 



The Great World War 

Lieutenant de Montmorency, who was 
endeavouring to recover the body of 
Second- Lieutenant R. G. Grenfell. In 
the South African War General Kenna 
won the D.S.O., and also distinguished 
himself in the subsequent campaign in 

Another V.C. hero to lose his life in 
these costly operations was Lieutenant- 
Colonel Sir J. Peniston Milbanke, Bart., 
commanding the Nottinghamshire 
(Sherwood Rangers) Yeomanry, who 
won his decoration in South Africa in 
somewhat similar fashion to General 
Kenna's feat at Khartoum, riding to the 
rescue of a man whose pony was done 
up, and, in spite of a galling fire from 
the Boers, taking him on his own horse 
and bringing him safely in. He retired 
from the loth Hussars at the beginning 
of 191 1, but was appointed to the com- 
mand of the Sherwood Rangers shortly 
after the outbreak of the Great War. 

Severe though the casualties of the 
Yeomen had been in the attack of 
August 21, the losses had fallen most 
heavily on the war-scarred 29th Divi- 
sion, amounting in all to not far short 
of 5000. Countless deeds of heroism 
among the rank and file are recounted, 
as well as among the officers. When, 
for instance, all the officers of his 
own company had been killed or 
wounded. Sergeant J. Mitchell, of 
the 2nd South Wales Borderers, en- 
tirely on his own responsibility, as- 
sembled some 300 men of different 
units who were also without officers, 
re-formed the line, and continued 
the attack against the enemy's posi- 
tion, "displaying the greatest bravery 
and power of leadership ", records the 
Gazette, "and a devotion to duty be- 

yond all praise ". He was awarded the 
D.C.M,, also conferred upon Company 
Quartermaster- Sercreant Prosser, of the 
6th Border Regiment, who risked his 
life repeatedly when the fires broke out 
in the scrub and held up the advance, 
and many wounded were in imminent 
peril of being burned to death. Under 
heavy shell- and rifle -fire Quarter- 
master-Sergeant Prosser rushed into 
the flames to bringr in a wounded offi- 
cer, who was, however, killed by a 
second bullet before he could be put 
into a shelter. He immediately re- 
turned and brought in another wounded 
man, and continued ooinof in and out 
of the burning scrub to carry others 
into safety on his back. His total 
disregard of personal danger was un- 
doubtedly the means of saving many 
men from an appalling death. The 
ist Border Regiment, the ist Munsters, 
and the ist Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers 
were among the other regiments to 
share the honours for the battle of the 
2 1 St, where all the regiments of the 
Old Guard, though the task proved 
too much even for their experienced 
prowess, fought and died up to the 
height of their proudest traditions. 

The 9th Battalion Sherwood Fores- 
ters, who, as already mentioned, lost 
their commanding officer, Sir J. P. 
Milbanke, V.C, also earned special 
mention for their gallant bearing on 
this day, as well as, in the words of 
Sir Ian Hamilton's supplementary dis- 
patch, "constantly maintaining stout 
hearts and a soldierly spirit in despite 
of the heavy losses they had suffered 
when carrying out their costly duty of 
closing the big gap between the left of 
the Anzac troops and Chocolate Hill 

Linking up with the Anzacs 


from August 8 to 14". On the 2rst 
this same battaHon, together with the 
6th Border Regiment, displayed, in 
the words of the Commander-in-Chief, 
"a vigorous initiative combined with 
very steady discipline throughout the 
attack "} 

While this new scene was being 
enacted in the Suvla Bay drama, the 

of the wild night foray of August 6 — 
two battalions of the 29th Irish Bri- 
gade, the 4th South Wales Borderers, 
and the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade, 
had been placed for the purpose under 
the command of Major- General H. V. 
Cox, who divided his men into three 
sections. The left section was to press 
forward and establish a permanent hold 

Drawn by S. Bege 

Holding the British Lines on Chocolate Hill: repulsing a Turkish attack across the Anafarta plain 

Anzacs in the southern theatre were 
playing a valiant part in support of the 
main advance, as pre-arranged with 
General Birdwood. A force including 
two battalions of the New Zealand 
Mounted Rifles — the remnants of the 
gallant corps which had shared the glory 

1 The Sherwood Foresters had reason to be proud of 
their fine record in the Great World War. Other bat- 
talions, as described in Vol. Ill, Chapter XIV, covered 
themselves with glory in the grim struggle for the Hohen- 
zollern Redoubt on the Western Front, and sacrificed 
themselves with equal bravery in the Dublin fighting in 
the following spring. 

on the existing lightly-held outpost line 
linking upthe Anzacs with the Suvla Bay 
corps; the centre section was to seize 
the well at Kabak Kuyu,"anassetof the 
utmost value ", says Sir Ian Hamilton, 
" whether to ourselves or the enemy"; 
and the right section was to capture 
the Turkish trenches on the north-east 
side of the Kaiajik Aghala (Hill 60). 

The Anzacs watched the opening 
of the new battle in the northern zone 
with the interest with which they had 


The Great World War 

followed the first operations after the 
Suvla landinc^'. 

"At two o'clock in the afternoon", wrote 
Captain Bean, the official Press representa- 
tive with the Imperial Forces in the Dar- 
danelles, " the British guns began to tear 
the plain in front of them and the low hills 
which rise out of it. The plain became an 

It was to connect up with this spur, 
and so form a permanent junction with 
the Suvla corps, that General Cox's 
left section advanced at 3.30 p.m., 
meetino- with immediate success. The 
well at Kaba Kuyu was seized by 
the Indian Brigade after a brisk en- 
gagement, and by 4.30 the right 

Battlefields of the Northern Zone : view across the country towards Suvla Bay from the heights of Anzac 

inferno of whirling dust. At three o'clock 
a sudden roar of musketry showed that the 
British infantry must be over its parapets 
and advancing across the plain. Presently 
you could make them out, line after line of 
tiny figures coming steadily across the green 
meadows. But the moment they reached 
a certain point in the plain the view would 
be shut out by the low flat hill or knob 
which formed the most northerly spur of 
our main range. This spur had never been 
reached by our troops; our line was drawn 
on the next spur south of it." 

column, under Brigadier-General Rus- 
sell, effected a lodgment on Hill 60, 
where our men entrenched, and began 
to dig communications across the 
Kaiajik Dere towards the lines of the 
4th Australian Brigade south of the 
Dere, where the survivors of some 300 
men, sent down the gulley to assault 
the trench on the opposite side, and 
cut to pieces by the murderous fire, 
had duo- themselves in within sioht 

The Anzacs and Hill 60 


of the enemy. The New Zealand 
Mounted Rifles had reached their ob- 
jective by a dashing advance over three 
ridges under heavy fire, finally carry- 
ing part of the Turkish trenches round 
Hill 60, and holding on in spite of a 
galling enfilade fire from the enemy. 
Meantime the Connauoht RanQers 
had been distinguishing themselves in 
the advance on the well and trenches 
at Kabak Kuyu, Second- Lieutenant 
W. G. Johnson, who had shown the 
greatest personal bravery during the 
attack on Lone Pine on August 8, now 
winning the Military Cross for leading 
his men in the most dashing manner 
into the enemy's positions, where, in 
the words of the official record, he 
bayoneted seven Turks with his own 

Russell's troops in their lodgment 
on the slopes of Hill 60 succeeded in 
holding their own through the night 
in the face of superior force and heavy 
bombino' attacks. At 6 a.m. the next 
morning the newly-arrived i8th Bat- 
talion of Australians was launched into 
the fray with the ugly task of carrying 
the northern Turkish communications. 
Hill 60 was a maze of formidable 
trenches right down the slopes facing 
the Anzac positions, with an egg- 
shaped inner circle near the summit, 
and an outer redoubt extendinof ri""ht 
round part of the reverse slope, and 
linked up with the trenches lining the 
spur and the plain beyond. It was 
the topmost line of this position that 
General Russell now attacked with 
the newly-landed Australians. Charg- 
ing through the scrub in rare style in 
the early dawn of that 22nd of August 
the men carried 1 50 yards of trench, 

forming part of the wide outer circle 
of the redoubt. 

" The trench", writes Captain Bean, " lay 
open to Turks as does a furrow when you 
look down into it from the slope of the 
opposite hill, and they poured into it such 
a hail of machine-gun fire and shrapnel that 
the men were driven out of the part that 
was over the northern slope. During the 
day the Turks crept up on both sides of 
the trench and bombed it from half-made 
trenches of their own, whose direction they 
knew, while it was unknown to us." 

There was nothing for it, therefore, 
but to fall back, after cruel and un- 
availing losses. Meanwhile, however, 
the New Zealand Mounted Rifles had 
succeeded, in spite of repeated counter- 
attacks, in making good another 80 
yards. The only way to deal with the 
Turks, as one of these mounted men 
wrote at the time to the present writer, 
was to get among them with the 
bayonet and bomb, at the risk of find- 
ing that enfilade fire made the captured 
position untenable. At the close of 
the day on the 22nd a number of 
detached parties of these dashing New 
Zealanders were scattered in advance 
of the fire trenches, and in the dark- 
ness did not know how to get back. 
The firing was still very heavy, and 
Turks were lurking in every direction. 
Sapper A. L. Caselberg, of the Signal 
Troop of the New Zealand Mounted 
Rifle Brigade, went out several times 
on his own initiative, searched for his 
stranded compatriots, and guided them 
back on each occasion, thus earning 
his well-merited D.C.INL In the furious 
hand-to-hand fighting in this advance 
the same decoration was won by 
Trooper H. Pidgeon, of the Canter- 


The Great World War 

English Miles 

continuing at his post 
of danger with the 
greatest bravery and 
determination until 
wounded a second 
time. The way these 
New Zealanders fought 
was further exemplified 
in the case of Trooper 
D. J. O'Connor, of 
the same regiment, 
who also received the 

" While returning to 
his regiment after being 
sh'ghtly wounded ", sa\'s 
the Gazette "\\e passed an- 
other regiment which was 
being heavily shelled. 
Without hesitation he 
entered the shell-swept 
zone and carried in two 
wounded men. He went 
out again, and helped a 
wounded officer to a place 
of comparative safety. 
His bravery and devotion 
were the more noticeable 
in that these gallant acts 
were quite outside his 

The new line, from 
the slopes of Hill 60 
to Susuk Kuyu, where 
the right flank of the 
9th Corps were hold- 
ing out a hand to their 
Anzac comrades, was 
gradually strengthened. 
Eventually it joined on 
bury Mounted Rifles, who, besides firmly to the right of the Suvla army, 
performing gallant work in rescuing thus, as Sir Ian Hamilton remarks, 
some of the wounded under fire, re- materially improving the whole situ- 
fused to retire when wounded himself, ation. In the course of this action 

The Suvla and Anzac Line: map showing approximately by the shaded portion 
the area occupied after the linking up of the two armies in August, 1915 

Trench Warfare and the Fight for Hill 60 


the 4th Australian Brigade, facing the 
Turks on the upper slopes of Hill 60, 
took vengeance for the losses among 
the 1 8th Battalion by inflicting some 
hundreds of casualties among the 
Turks as they retreated or endeav- 
oured to reinforce. 

All ranks, says Sir Ian Hamilton, 
were ea^er for a renewal of the offen- 
sive, but the Commander-in-Chief, 
knowing only too well -that reinforce- 
ments and munitions were short, and 
would become shorter still, and that a 
serious outbreak of sickness had still 
further reduced his strength, realized 
the imperative necessity of husbanding 
his resources by giving a spell of rest 
to the men who had been fighting so 
magnificently and so continuously. 
Progress was accordingly suspended. 

Lieutenant-Genc-ral the Hon. Sir J. II. G. Byiig, K.C.B., 
who succeeded to the command of the 9th Army Corps 
at Suvla 

(From a photograph by Bassano) 

Work was put in hand to strengthen 
the line from Suvla to Anzac; a minor 
offensive routine of sniping and bomb- 
ing was organized. "In a word," 
writes Sir Ian in his dispatch, "trench 
warfare set in on both sides." 

Two days later — on August 24 — 
the command of the 9th Army Corps 
at Suvla was taken over by Lieutenant- 
General the Hon. Sir J. H. G. Byng, 
seventh son of the second Earl of 
Strafford, late General Officer Com- 
manding in Egypt, who served with 
the loth Royal Hussars in the Sudan 
and South African wars, and had sub- 
sequently held, among other appoint- 
ments, the command of the ist and 
2nd Cavalry Brigades, the East An- 
glian Division. 

The end of August, 191 5, when the 
Anzac troops were sufficiently rested, 
brought the last of their battle incidents 
in the history of the Gallipoli cam- 
paign. Its object was to complete the 
capture of Hill 60, the somewhat flat 
summitof which, overlooking the Biyuk 
Anafarta valley, was a tactical position 
of the first importance. Major-General 
Cox was again entrusted with the con- 
duct of the attack, the troops at his 
disposal being detachments of the 4th 
and 5th Australian Brigades, the 5th 
Connaught Rangers, and the New 
Zealand Rifle Brirade — still holding- 
the positions they had captured on the 
2ist and 22nd. The eve of this fresh 
advance was marked by an incident 
which, though it has no bearing on 
the subsequent operations, deserves 
its due share in New Zealand's roll of 
honour. It became known that some 
of the Dominion's men had been 
isolated within the enemy's lines for 


The Great World War 

fifteen days, whereupon Private F. 
Mahoney, of the WelHngton Battalion, 
volunteered to q-q to their rescue. " It 
was a mission of great difficulty and 
danger," says the Gazette in recording 
Private Mahoney's award of the 
D.C.M., "and by his coolness and 
knowledge of scouting he greatly con- 
tributed to the success of the search 
and ultimate rescue of the missing 

Some of the Royal New Zealand 
Artillery gave an equally thrilling dis- 
play of absolute fearlessness during 
the fresh advance of the 27th, which 
was preceded during the afternoon by 
the heaviest bombardment we could 
afford. Major I von T. Standish, of 
No. 3 Battery, was controlling the fire 
of an extremely exposed section when 
one of his guns was put out of action 
by a direct hit from the enemy, and 
his ammunition -pit, containing over 
fifty high-explosive shells, became sur- 
rounded by blazing brushwood. At 
once leaving his observing-station. 
Major Standish, who subsequently re- 
ceived the D.S.O., ran to the pit and 
personally assisted in extinguishing 
the fire. Second-Lieutenant Robert 
M'Pherson earned the Military Cross 
for assisting in the same dangerous 
work, going down into the pit after 
one slight explosion had already taken 
place, the D.C.M. being also awarded 
to Sergeant C. J. K. Edwards and 
Driver N. Clark, of the same battery, 
who volunteered to carry water to put 
out the fire, and were successful in 
doing so. 

While this breathless incident was 
taking place the attack on the summit 
of Hill 60 was in full swine. The 

preliminary bombardment had seemed 
effective enough, "but the moment the 
assailants broke cover", writes Sir Ian 
Hamilton, "they were greeted by an 
exceeding hot fire from the enemy 
field-guns, rifles, and machine-guns, 
followed after a brief interval by a 
shower of heavy shell, some of which, 
most happily, pitched into the trenches 
of the Turks". Captain Bean describes 
the central attack as in three lines, 
with the Auckland and Canterbury 
Mounted Rifles in the first, the Otaoo 
and Wellington in the second, and the 
1 8th Australian Battalion in the third. 
The Connaughts were on their left and 
the 4th Australian Brigade on their 
right. Within ten minutes the New 
Zealanders, with the i8th Battalion 
behind them, had captured the first 
trench, which was crowded with Turks, 
and then swept on from trench to 
trench in a most determined onslaught 
carrying one side of the topmost knoll 
afterhand-to-hand fiohtinovvhich lasted 
until 9.30 p.m., when the report came 
down that nine-tenths of the summit 
had been gained. On the left the 250 
men of the 5th Connaught Rangers, 
attacking the trenches from which the 
18th Australians had been driven nearly 
a week before, had charged with a 
swiftness and cohesion which, as Sir 
Ian bears witness, excited the ad- 
miration of all beholders. 

"In five minutes", he adds, "they had 
carried their objective, the northern Turk- 
ish communications, when they at once set 
to and began a lively bomb -fight along 
the trenches against strong parties which 
came hurrj-ing up from the enem)^ supports 
and afterwards from their reserves. At mid- 
night fresh troops were to have strengthened 

Gallant Charge of the Australian Light Horse 

our grip upon the hill, but before that hour 
the Irishmen had been out-bombed, and the 
9th Australian Light Horse, who had made 
a most plucky attempt to recapture the lost 
communication-trench, had been repulsed. 
Luckily, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles 
refused to recognize that they were worsted. 
Nothing would shift them. All that night 
and all next day, through bombing, bayonet 
charges, musketry, shrapnel, and heavy shell, 
they hung on to their 150 yards of trench." 

August 29 came, and with it, at i a.m. 
a memorable charge of the loth Aus- 
tralian Light Horse, who, making an- 
other attack on the lost communication- 
trenches from our captured positions in 
the interior lines, succeeded not only 
in carrying them but also in holding 
them in the face of repeated counter- 
attacks, the 9th Australian Light 
Horse working along the communi- 
cation-trench to meet them. Hand- 
to-hand fighting for this hotly-disputed 
line lasted for thirty-seven hours, when 
the Turks were at length forced to 
acknowledge defeat. Second- Lieu- 
tenant Hugo V. H. Throswell, of the 
loth Light Horse, won his Victoria 
Cross in this desperate affair. Al- 
though severely wounded in several 
places during one of the counter- 
attacks, he refused to leave his post, 
or to obtain medical assistance, until 
all danger was over; and then, having 
had his wounds dressed, returned to 
the firinof-line until ordered out of 
action by the medical officer. " By 
his personal courage and example ", 
says the Gazette, " he kept up the 
spirits of his party and was largely 
instrumental in saving the situation 
at a critical period." Lance- Corporal 
MacNee gave another fine exhibition 
of the hiohest couraoe. Although 

wounded he retired from the front 
line for a time only sufficient to have 
his wound dressed, and then at once 
returned, remaining in the firing-line 
until wounded a second time. He re- 
ceived the D.C.M., also won on the 

Second-Lieulenanl H. V. H. Throswell, who won the 
V.C. in the attack of the loth Autralian Light Horse 
on August 29, 1915 

same occasion by Sergeant W. J. Hen- 
derson, who proved as untiring as un- 
daunted throughout the long ordeal, 
rendering invaluable assistance to his 
commanding officer. When this officer 
was wounded and ordered away, Ser- 
geant Henderson remained to hold an 
important section of the captured line 
with one other man only; and volun- 
teered to stay on when, finally, relief 


The Great World War 

arrived, thus remaining in the trench 
the full thirty-seven hours during which 
the fight continued to rage at the closest 
quarters. Trooper T. B. Stanley, also 
of the loth Light Horse, was similarly 
decorated for setting a conspicuous ex- 
ample throughout the same ordeal. 
It only remains to tell of the tragic 

Bean, " was either killed or wounded, 
and so were practically the whole of 
the men, except a small party which 
managed to get into the Turkish trench 
alongside the New Zealanders." 

Cosdy though it was, the combined 
success of the Australians and New 
Zealanders gave us at last complete 

Campaigning Days in Gallipoli : Anzac Cove, August, 1915 

Official Photograph 

part played on the right by the 4th 
Australian Brigade. According to 
Captain Bean, the preliminary bom- 
bardment never reached the Turkish 
trench on the spur facing this force, 
which sent out its assaulting party in 
three lines of a hundred each, including 
one hundred lent by the 17th Aus- 
tralian Battalion. Charoino- as one 
man they ran straight into a terrible 
fire. "Every officer", writes Captain 

command of an outlook from Hill 60 
over the Anafarta-Sagir valley, and 
safer lateral communications between 
Anzac and Suvla Bay. Our casualties 
amounted to about 1000, the Imperial 
forces necessarily suffering the heaviest 
losses. Among the New Zealand 
Mounted Rifles the Canterburys alone 
lost between 80 and 90 per cent of their 
men. Yet the total Turkish losses were 
out of all proportion heavier than ours. 

Sealing the Expedition's Fate 


Their line of retreat being commanded 
from our Kaiajik Dere trenches, our 
observers were thence able to direct 
a destructive artillery fire both upon 
their fuoitives and their reinforcements. 
These observers estimated the enemy's 
casualties at no less than 5000. Forty- 
six prisoners were aho taken, as well 
as 3 Turkish machine-guns, 3 trench 
mortars, 300 rifles, 60,000 rounds of 
ammunition, and 500 bombs. Through- 
out the operations, says Sir Ian, Major- 
General Cox "showed his usual fore- 
thought and wisdom ", and Brigadier- 
General Russell fought his men 

The 400 acres thus added to the 
territories of Anzac afforded welcome 
elbow-room and secured the connec- 
tions with the 9th Army Corps, our 
new line now giving us practical pos- 
session from the cliffs overlooking the 
Gulf of Saros above Suvla Bay almost 
to Gaba Tepe. Unhappily, with this 
achievement to illumine the last days 
of August, 191 5, the paralysis set in 
which irrevocably sealed the fate of 
the whole expedition. The flow of 
munitions and drafts fell away; and 
the days of the Great Adventure were 

" Sickness, the legacy of a desperately 
trying" summer," writes the Commander-in- 
Chief towards the mournful end of his his- 
toric dispatch, " took heavy toll of the sur- 
vivors of so many arduous conflicts. No 
longer was there any question of operations 
on the grand scale, but with such troops it 
was impossible to be downhearted. All 
ranks were cheerful; all remained confi- 
dent that, so long as they stuck to their 
guns, their country would stick to them, 
and see them victoriously through the last 
and greatest of the crusades." 

Unfortunately, the general military 
position of the Allies in the Great 
World War rendered victory hopeless, 
even had it still been possible to carry 
the Peninsula, which Sir Ian Hamilton's 
successor denied, as will presently be 
seen. In any case it was impossible 
to send the necessary reinforcements. 
The September offensive on the Wes- 
tern front had not achieved all that 
had been hoped from it, and the cost 
had been terrific. The situation in 
the Balkans necessitated a Franco- 
British landing at Salonika, the 10th 
(Irish) Division of the New Army 
being transferred from Suvla for that 
purpose early in October, under Lieu- 
tenant - General Sir Bryan Mahon. 
Sickness, as Sir Ian Hamilton said, 
had also sadly thinned the ranks of 
the Gallipoli Force, and it became 
obvious that the longer we held on 
under those conditions the worse our 
position in Gallipoli would become. 
It subsequently transpired that of 
our total of 127,000 casualties in 
this campaign between May 25 and 
October 30, 191 5, over 90,000 were 
cases of dysentery and other sickness. 
The average at that time was about 
750 per day, and though 80 per cent 
of them returned to the fighting ranks 
the wastasi^e and disorganization would 
in any case have been a heavy handi- 
cap to the military operations. 

Progress was therefore painfully 
slow while the Expeditionary Force 
anxiously awaited its fate after the 
battles of August. During the whole 
of September none of the fighting was 
on a scale calling for special reports, 
though every day had its minor enter- 
prises. The net result of the month's 


The Great World War 

operations was the gain of an average death in the burning scrub during the 
of a little over 300 yards along the renewed advance after the Suvla Bay 
whole centre — four miles — of the landing. On the present occasion he 
Suvla front. But in this bald sum- added the Military Cross to his decora- 
mary of indecisive results lies hidden tions by a hazardous reconnaissance 
a whole host of heroic if isolated of the coast to locate a Turkish gun 
feats of arms. None could afford to which was causing great damage, 
relax the ceaseless vigilance of the Stripping himself for the task, and 
fi^htinor line. Bomb- 
ingr and intermittent 
artillery fire, with the 
never-ending danger 
from the hidden 
sniper, and occasional 
attacks and counter- 
attacks for point of 
vantage, rendered the 
month of September, 
1 91 5, anything but an 
uneventful chapter in 
the history of the 
doomed campaign. 
Captain Alexander 
Findlater, M.D.,ofthe 
I St (Territorial) Lon- 
don Mounted Brigade 
Field Ambulance, 
won the D.S.O. on 
the 29th (after distinguishing himself 
on several previous occasions) when 
he crossed over 200 yards of open 
ground under very heavy shell fire to 
render aid to two wounded men. He 
saved the life of one, but the other 
was beyond help. He was bravely 
accompanied by Corporal W. G. Muir, 
who received the D.C.M. 

One of the outstanding deeds was 
that performed on September 9 by 
Captain Hansen, the adjutant of the 
6th Lincolnshires, who, only a month 
previously, had won the Victoria Cross 
for savinof wounded men from certain 

A Naval Officer's Exploit in the Sea of Marmora: Lieutenant D'Oyly-Hughes, 
R.N., with his raft in the water 

The raft contains the charge for blowing up the railway line, and the officer's accoutremenls 

and clothes. 

carrying only a revolver and a blanket 
for disguise, he swam and scrambled 
over the rocks towards his objective, 
severely cut and bruised as he did so, 
but obtaininor much valuable informa- 
tion, and also locating the offending 
gun. After several narrow escapes on 
land — on one occasion meeting a patrol 
of twelve Turks, who, fortunately, did 
not see him, and on another a single 
Turk, whom he killed — he succeeded 
in returning safely to our lines, but in 
a state of oreat exhaustion. 

Captain Hansen's feat was on a par 
with the brilliant exploit of Lieutenant 

How Lieutenant D'Oyly-Hughes won the D.S.O. 29 

Guy D'Oyly-Hughes, R.N., during 
the previous month, when that officer 
won the D.S.O. for voluntarily swim- 
ming to the shore alone from a sub- 
marine in the Sea of Marmora, and 
blowing up a brickwork support to 
the Ismid railway line, in spite of the 
presence of an armed guard within 
150 yards of him. The official story 
of this enterprise reads more like a 
chapter from Captain Marryat than 
from official Admiralty dispatches. It 
tells how Lieutenant D'Oyly-Hughes, 
who, earlier in the summer, had been 
awarded the Distinguished Service 
Cross for his share in other daring 
submarine work in the Sea of Mar- 
mora, dropped into the water on this 
occasion and swam to the shore, push- 
ing a raft carrying the charge with 
which he meant to make his attempt 
on the railway, and his clothes and 
accoutrements. His weapons consisted 
of an automatic service revolver and a 
sharpened bayonet. He also carried 
an electric torch and a whistle, so that, 
if he succeeded in returning, he could 
sound a signalling blast on swimming 
back in the darkness. After covering 
the sixty yards which separated the 
boat from the shore the lieutenant 
landed safely, only to find the cliffs 
at that point unscaleable. There was 
nothing for it but to re-launch the raft 
and swim along the coast till a less 
precipitous spot was reached. 

" Here, after a stiff climb," continues the 
official report of the commanding officer of 
the submarine, " he arrived at the top, and 
half an hour later, after a considerable ad- 
vance, reached the railway line. He then 
proceeded ver)' slowl)' with the charge to- 
wards the viaduct. Havine advanced some 

500 or 600 yards, voices were heard ahead, 
and shortly afterwards three men were ob- 
served sitting by the side of the line talking 
quite loudly. After watching them for some 
time, he decided to leave the charge, which 
was very heavy and cumbersome, and go 
forward, making a wide detour inland, to 
inspect the viaduct. 

" This detour was successfully carried out, 
the only incident being an unfortunate fall 
intoa small farmyard, disturbing the poultr}', 
but not rousing the household. From a 
distance of about 300 yards the viaduct 
could easily be seen, as there was a fire 
burning at the near end of it. A stationary 
engine could be heard on or just beyond 
the viaduct, and men were moving about 
incessantly. He decided that it was impos- 
sible to destroy the viaduct, so he returned 
to the demolition charge, and looked for a 
convenient spot to blow up the line. He 
found a low brickwork support over a small 
hollow and placed it underneath. Unfor- 
tunately it was not more than 150 yards 
from the three men sitting by the line, but 
there was no other spot where so much 
damage could be done." 

Though he had muffled the fuse 
pistol to deaden the sound, the noise 
was loud enough on that still night to 
rouse the men, who at once started 
runninor down the line towards him. 
Beating a hasty retreat, Lieutenant 
D'Oyly-Hughes turned and fired two 
shots at his pursuers, who promptly 
fired back, but none of the shots on 
either side, apparently, proved effec- 
tual, and the chase was resumed more 
desperately than ever. It was impos- 
sible in the time to return down the 
cliffs at his place of ascent, so, out- 
distancing his pursuers, he followed 
the railway line for about a mile till it 
brought him close to the shore, and 
there plunged into the water just as 
the demolition charge exploded. Those 

The Great World War 

waiting anxiously on the boat all this 
time not only heard the explosion, but 
also had proof that the charge had 
done its work well by fragments falling 
in the sea close by, though the dis- 
tance between the boat and the broken 
line was nearly half a mile. 

But there was nothing to be seen of 
the daring lieutenant, who, unknown 
to those in the boat, had struck out 
from the shore about three-quarters 
of a mile to the eastward. He swam 
straight out to sea for 400 or 500 yards, 
and then, as arranged, blew a long- 
blast on his whistle; but the sound 
failed to reach the submarine, which 
was lying in a small bay round the 

" Day was breaking very rapidly," con- 
tinues the official report, " so after swim- 
ming back to the shore and resting for a 
short time on the rocks, he commenced 
swimming towards the bay in which the 
boat was lying. At this point he discarded 
his pistol, bayonet, and electric torch, their 
weight making his progress very slow. It 
was not until he had rounded the last point 
that the whistle was heard, and at the 
same time he heard shouts from the cliffs 
overhead and rifle fire was opened on the 
boat. As the boat came astern out of the 
bay the early morning mist made her appear 
to him to be three small rowing boats, the 
bow, the gun, and the conning tower being 
the objects actually seen. He swam ashore 
and tried to hide under the cliffs, but on 
climbing a few feet out of the water he 
realized his mistake and shouted again be- 
fore entering the water. We picked him up 
in an extremely exhausted condition about 
40 yards from the rocks, after he had swum 
the best part of a mile in his clothes." 

Deeds like this, as Mr. Asquith said 
in referring to the sterling work of the 
submarines in the Sea of Marmora, 

showed how the old spirit of the British 
Navy, its adventure, its gallantry, its 
resource, pervaded those who served 
throughout these operations, just as 
much as it did under Drake, Hood, 
and Nelson. Incidentally it was then 
announced that British submarines in 
the same dangerous waters had suc- 
ceeded, up to October 26, 191 5, in 
sinking or damaging two enemy battle- 
ships, five gunboats, one torpedo-boat, 
eight transports, and no fewer than 
197 supply ships of all kinds. That, 
added Mr. Asquith, was a wonderful 
chapter in the history of the British 
Navy. The coming of the German 
submarines in the Mediterranean in 
May had, of course, added an enormous 
danger to the situation, but the Navy 
showed itself equal to it: — 

" Safe harbours were selected and pre- 
pared, where ships could run in securely. 
Small craft were assembled in great num- 
bers to maintain the communications of the 
Army. And, finally, a number of specially- 
constructed vessels, largely due to the 
inventive genius of Lord Fisher himself, 
which had been built by the Admiralty in 
anticipation of such requirements as this, 
went out to the Mediterranean, and have 
done from that day to this most magnificent 
work. The Navy throughout this campaign 
has risen superior to all difficulties, and has 
been able to maintain the communications 
of the Army intact." 

The submarine problem off Gallipoli 
was largely solved by the arrival of the 
torpedo-proof monitors, which played 
an important role in the Suvla Bay 
landing and later operations. Stationed 
along the coast, some of them with 
14-inch guns capable of hurling three- 
quarters of a ton about 15 miles, they 
kept the Turks in check at many vital 

"Birkenhead" Heroism Repeated 


points. The big monitors, little more 
than floating platforms, with sides 
bulging out just below the surface 
some 10 feet from the hull, caused the 
biggest sensation of all the strange 
craft which somehow found their way 
to Gallipoli in those days. Some of 
these newcomers, wobbling along, in 
the words of Mr. Ashmead Bartlett, 
"like a huge goose primed for Michael- 
mas"; with smaller monitors looking 
more like Chinese pagodas than ships, 
and 25-year-old cruisers such as the 
Endymion and Theseus given a new 
lease of life with a protecting waist- 
belt like those which guarded the 
monitors, probably caused the enemy 
a good deal of amusement at first, 
but they spoke eloquently enough, and 
gave the lie to the enemy's boasts that 
his submarines had wrested from us 
the. command of the seas. 

One of the inevitable losses from 
the attacks of these submarines, the 
sinking of the transport Soiithland on 
September 2, 1 9 1 5, will be remembered 
for all time, like the loss of the Birken- 
head, for its inspiring exhibition of cool- 
ness, courage, and discipline. . There 
were Australians and New Zealanders 
on board on their way to Anzac, and 
when the Southland was torpedoed, 
about 10.15 a.m., and the orders came 
in quick succession, "Ship sinking!" 
"Abandon ship!" they went to their 
stations not only without a trace of 
panic, but as though rejoicing in the 
opportunity of showing that the spirit 
of Anzac was the same on sea as on 
shore. An artillery officer present on 
board, in describing this thrilling scene 
in a letter published in the Times, said 
that words failed to say how magnifi- 

cent, how fine, they were, as they 
marched to their stations, lowered their 
allotted boats with order and care, and 
took their places, the injured going in 
first: — 

" Never can men have faced death with 
c^reater courage, more nobility, and with a 
braver front than did the Australian and 
New Zealand troops on board the s.s. South- 
laiid. The song they sang was, 'Australia 
will be there!' and, by Heaven! they were. 
They were heroes. We knew they were 
brave in a charge, but now we know they 
are heroes. Long live in honour and glory 
the men of the 21st and 23rd Australian 

A similar episode stands to the eter- 
nal credit of the i/ist Lincolnshire 
Yeomanry, whose steadfast behaviour 
during the submarine attack on the 
transport Mercian on November 3 
was the subject of a laudatory Order 
from the Army Council to the General 
Officer Commandinor the Mediter- 
ranean Expeditionary Force. On the 
call being sounded, as soon as the hos- 
tile submarine was sighted, the troops 
fell in at their appointed places as if 
on parade, though the enemy began 
shelling at once. Excellent discipline 
was maintained throuohout the attack, 
which lasted nearly an hour and a half, 
in the course of which the ship was 
struck by about thirty shells, and six 
officers and seventy other ranks were 
killed or wounded. Thanks very largely 
to the splendid seamanship of Captain 
J. E. Walker, commanding the trans- 
port, the attack was defeated. All 
ranks of the Lincolns were commended 
for their coolness and soldierly behav- 
iour throughout the action. One mem- 
ber of the corps, Private E. Thompson, 


The Great World War 

a native of Horncastle, was rewarded 
with the D.C. M. for his courage and 
initiative in meeting an emergency at 
the wheel, reheving Captain Walker, 
who had been obliged to steer the ship 
himself. This resourceful yeoman re- 
mained at the wheel most gallandy 

Kaye, in assisting with the machine- 
oun when its officer, Lieutenant J. W. 
Wintringham, was wounded. 

The authorities at home must al- 
ready have seriously considered the 
advisability of evacuating Gallipoli, 
but apparently it was not until early 

Oflicial FholoyraiJll 

A Dardanelles Idyll : Australhn giving a drink of water to a Turkish peasant woman above Anzac Cove 

until the attack was over. The Regi- 
mental Chaplain, the Rev. C. F. J. 
Holmes, was also mentioned in the 
Army Council's Order for his act of 
bravery in picking up an unexploded 
shell which had fallen on the bridge 
and throwing it overboard, the Medi- 
cal Officer also distinouishino- himself 
in attending to the wounded under fire, 
and Second Lieutenant G. L. Lister- 

October that they discussed such an 
eventuality with Sir Ian Hamilton. 
On October 1 1 Lord Kitchener cabled 
for an estimate of the losses which 
would be involved in a withdrawal 
from the peninsula. Sir Ian replied on 
the following day in terms showing 
that such a step was to him unthink- 
able. Four days later he received 
another cable recallino' him to London, 

Sir Ian Hamilton's Farewell 


for the reason, as Lord Kitchener 
informed him on his arrival, "that 
His Majesty's Government desired a 
fresh, unbiased opinion, from a re- 
sponsible Commander, upon the ques- 
tion of an early evacuation ". His 
successor was General Sir Charles C. 
Monro, pending the arrival of whom 
Lieutenant-General Sir W. R. Bird- 
wood was appointed temporarily to 
command the Mediterranean Expe- 
ditionary Force, or " Dardanelles 
Army" as it was presently to be 
called, the orio;inal Mediterranean 
Expeditionary Force being divided 
in two — the Dardanelles Army, with 
its head-quarters at Imbros, and the 
"Salonika Army", under Sir Bryan 
Mahon, with head-quarters at Salonika. 
Before his departure Sir Ian Hamilton, 
on October 17, issued the following 
Farewell Order to the troops: — 

" On handing over the command of the 
Mediterranean Expeditionary Force to Sir 
Charles Monro, the Commander-in-Chief 
wishes to say a few farewell words to the 
Allied troops, with many of whom he has 
now for so long been associated. First, he 
would like them to know his deep sense of 
the honour it has been to command so fine 
an army in one of the most arduous and 
difficult campaigns which have ever been 
undertaken, and, secondly, he must express 
to them his admiration at the noble response 
they have invariably given to the calls he 
has made upon them. No risk has been 
too desperate, no sacrifice too great. Sir 
Ian Hamilton thanks all ranks, from generals 
to private soldiers, for the wonderful way 
they seconded his efforts to lead them to- 
wards a decisive victor)', which under their 
new chief he has the most implicit confi- 
dence they will achieve." 

In his dispatch of December 1 1 he 

also paid touching tribute "to the ever- 
lasting memory of my dear comrades 
who will return no more ", and again 
thanked all ranks for their unfailing 
loyalty, patience, and self-sacrifice. 
" Our progress ", he added, "was con- 
stant, and if it was painfully slow — 
they know the truth." Then he bade 
them all a final farewell, "with a special 
God -speed to the campaigners who 
have served with me right through 
from the terrible yet most glorious 
earlier days — the incomparable 29th 
Division; the young veterans of the 
Naval Division; the ever-victorious 
Australians and New Zealanders; the 
stout East Lanes, and my own brave 
fellow-countrymen of the Lowland 
Division of Scotland ". 

Ever ready to acknowledge the ser- 
vices of all ranks in generous terms. 
Sir Ian made suitable amends to 
various formations which hitherto had 
escaped their share of recognition and 
rewards. Much, as he said, might be 
written on the exploits of the Royal 
Naval Air Service, " but these bold 
flyers are kiconic, and their feats will 
mostly pass unrecorded ", There was 
a fine example of their magnificent 
nerve and gallantry a few weeks later 
which, though it takes us rather far 
afield — to Ferrijik Junction, in Thrace 
— illustrates their daring work through- 
out the Eastern campaign. On this oc- 
casion Squadron-Commander Richard 
B. Davies, D.S.O., and Flight Sub- 
Lieutenant Gilbert F. Smylie, both of 
the Royal Naval Air Service, were 
carrying out an air attack on Ferrijik 
Junction, when Sub - Lieutenant 
Smylie's machine was brought down 
by heavy fire. As he fell he planed 

173 174 


The Great World War 

down over the station and released all 
his bombs except one — which failed to 
drop — simultaneously at the station. 
He was flyino- very low by that time, 
but continued his descent to a neigh- 
bouring- marsh. On alighting he saw 
the unexploded bomb and set fire to 
his machine, knowing that the bomb 
would ensure its destruction ; and then 
proceeded towards the Turkish frontier. 
At this moment he saw Squadron- 
Commander Davies descending — ob- 
viously to his rescue — and fearing that 
he would alight near the burning ma- 
chine, and thus risk destruction from 
the bomb, he rushed back, and from a 
short distance exploded the bomb by 
means of a pistol bullet. Squadron- 
Commander Davies, descending at a 
safe distance from the flames, then 
took up the stranded officer, in spite 
of the near approach of a party of the 
enemy, and returned to the aerodrome 
— "a feat of airmanship", says the 
Gazette, in announcing the award of 
the Victoria Cross to Squadron-Com- 
mander Davies, and the Distinguished 
Service Cross to Sub- Lieutenant 
Smylie, "that can seldom have been 
equalled for skill and gallantry ". 

For their services over Gallipoli 
throughout the campaign, Sir Ian 
Hamilton had cause to thank these 
fearless flyers, who, under their com- 
mander, Colonel F. H. Sykes, of the 
Royal Marines, appeared to affront 
danger and death, when and where 
they could, with a nonchalance which 
quickened the hearts of their observers 
both on land and sea — "an asset of 
greater military value", writes Sir Ian, 
"even than their bombs or aerial re- 
connaissances, admirable in all respects 

as these were". With them he coupled 
the dauntless French flyers of the Ser- 
vice de I'Aviation of the Corps Expe- 
ditionnaire d'Orient, "who daily wing 
their way in and out of the shrapnel 
under the distinguished leadership of 
M. le Capitaine C^sari ". 

The Armoured Car Division, which 
had done grand work both on the 
Western front and in South -West 
Africa since its origin as an adjunct 
of the Royal Naval Air Service, had 
also fully earned the retiring Com- 
mander-in-Chief's eulogy for their 
share in the Gallipoli campaign. The 
Armoured Car Division, he wrote, 
never failed to respond to any call 
which might be made upon them. 
"Their organization was broken up; 
their work had to be carried out under 
strange conditions — from the bows of 
the River Clyde, as independent bat- 
teries attached to infantry divisions, 
&c. — and yet they were always cheer- 
ful, always ready to lend a hand in 
any sort of fighting that might give 
them a chance of settlinof old scores 
with the enemy." They lost heavily 
both in officers and men, but abun- 
dantly proved their worth. Among 
their fallen officers was the Hon. 
Charles A. Lister, second and only 
surviving son and heir of Lord Rib- 
blesdale, and nephew of Mr. Asquith. 
Mr. Lister, who was not quite 28, had 
created something of a sensation years 
before, when he declared himself a 
Socialist; and he was a member of the 
Independent Labour Party until an 
attack on his family caused him to send 
in his resignation. His death removed 
the last heir to the barony, and was 
a cruel blow to a house which had 

Sir Charles Monro's Decision 


already paid the price of war in full. 
His elder brother, Captain the Hon. 
T. Lister, D.S.O., had been killed in 
Somaliland in 1904. and his brother-in- 
law. Captain Percy Wyndham, Cold- 
stream Guards, had fallen in France 
in the early months of the Great War. 
The Royal Artillery, who had earned 
the unstinted admiration of all their 

Brigadier-General R. Whyte Melville Jackson 
(From a photograph by Elliott & Fry) 

comrade services "by their thundering 
ofood shootinor and hundreds of deeds 
of daring"; and the stretcher-bearers, 
whose bravery and devotion were on 
everyone's lips, were also accorded 
their well-earned niches in the Dar- 
danelles record of fame. In an earlier 
dispatch the Commander-in-Chief had 
acknowledged the services of the 
Army Service Corps, under Brigadier- 
General F. W. B. Koe, and the Army 
Ordnance Corps, under Brigadier- 
General R. W. M. Jackson, who 

"made it a point of honour to feed 
men, animals, guns, and rifles in the 
fighting line as regularly as if they 
were only out for manoeuvres in Salis- 
bury Plain." He now testified to the 
admirable work of Major-General (tem- 
porary Lieutenant -General) E. A. 
Altham, C.B., C.M.G., Inspector- 
General of Communications, and all 
the departments and services of the 
lines of communication, in assuring 
the troops " a life-giving flow of drafts, 
munitions, and supplies ". 

It did not take Sir Charles Monro 
long after his arrival on the Peninsula 
to be convinced that a complete evacu- 
ation was the only reasonable course 
to adopt. He pointed out in his dis- 
patch that the positions occupied by 
our troops presented a military situa- 
tion unique in history: — 

" The mere fringe of the coast-line had 
been secured. The beaches and piers upon 
which they depended for all requirements 
in personnel and material were exposed to 
registered and observed artillery fire. Our 
entrenchments were dominated almost 
throughout by the Turks. The possible 
artillery positions were insufficient and de- 
fective. The force, in short, held a line 
possessing every possible military defect. 
The position was without depth, the com- 
munications were insecure and dependent 
on the weather. No means existed for the 
concealment and deployment of fresh troops 
destined for the offensive — whilst the Turks 
enjoyed full powers of observation, abundant 
artillery positions, and they had been given 
the time to supplement the natural advan- 
tages which the position presented by all 
the devices at the disposal of the field 

The troops had suffered, too, he 
pointed out, from the lack of any place 
possible to withdraw them from the 


The Great World War 

shell-swept area for rest, as well as Peninsula, he telegraphed to the War 
from the diseases endemic in that part Minister that in his opinion evacuation 
of Europe in the summer. Make- was the only course to pursue, 
shifts, which did not tend to create Sir Charles Monro was followed to 

efficiency, had been necessary in order Gallipoli by Lord Kitchener himself, 
to maintain the num- 
bers needed at the 
front. Finally, Sir 
Charles put forward 
the following- argu- 
ments as irrefutable 
in their conclusions: — 

"{a) It was obvious 
that the Turks could hold 
us in front with a small 
force and prosecute their 
designs on Bagdad or 
Egypt, or both. 

" {b) An advance from 
the positions we held 
could not be regarded 
as a reasonable military 
operation to expect. 

" {c) Even had we been 
able to make an advance 
in the Peninsula, our 
position would not have 
been ameliorated to any 
marked degree, and an 
advance on Constanti- 
nople was quite out of 
the question. 

" {d) Since we could 
not hope to achieve any 
purpose by remaining on 
the Peninsula, the appal- 
ling cost to the nation 
involved in consequence 
of embarking on an Over- 
seas Expedition with no 
base available for the rapid transit of stores, 
supplies, and personnel, made it urgent that 
we should divert the troops locked up on 
the Peninsula to a more useful theatre." 

The War Minister's Visit to Anzac: Lord Kitchener returns to the beach 
after inspecting the firing-line 

Seeing, therefore, no military advan- 
taoe whatever in remainino- on the 

O C5 

who went to examine the situation on 
the spot in the course of a mission 
to the whole Eastern theatre of war. 
The War Minister visited Mudros, 
Helles, and Anzac; held conferences 
with the new Commander-in-Chief; 

Lord Kitchener's Visit 


and met all the leading officers, 
including the Australian and New 
Zealand divisional commanders and 
brigadiers. His landino- at Anzac 
was unannounced, but the news of 
his arrival spread like wildfire among 
the troops, who almost tumbled over 
one another, says Reuter's corre- 
spondent, in their eagerness to reach 
the beach in time. There they gave 
him a mighty cheer of welcome, and 
in reply he told them how deeply the 
King had appreciated their magnificent 
services. Thence he strode up the 
steepest paths to the firing line, where 
his visit was an inspiration to all the 
troops. " He was in splendid form ", 
says the same correspondent, "and 
very cheery, frequently speaking to 
the men in the trenches. He seemed 
to scorn danger. At one spot in the 
firing line, with the enemy only 20 
yards away, the Colonial troops could 
scarcely refrain from cheering." 

Lord Kitchener's visit evidently re- 
moved any lingering doubt that may 
have remained in his mind as to the 
advisability of evacuating a country 
which had already dashed so many 
hopes to pieces. " Remember," were 
his parting" words to Sir Ian Hamilton 
before the departure of that com- 
mander for the Eastern campaign some 
eight months previously, "once you 
set foot on the Gallipoli Peninsula 
you must fight it through to a finish." 
Ill-luck had dogged the footsteps of 
the expedition ever since Russia, at 
the very outset, found herself unable 
to co-operate with her promised in- 
vasion of the western shore of the 
Black Sea, and the fall of ]M. Veni- 
zelos had wrecked the Allies' hopes 

of the active support of Greece. The 
only question now remaining was the 
probable cost of evacuation. 

Not all the fighting was over, how- 
ever. Both before and after Lord 
Kitchener's visit the struggle continued 
as relentlessly as ever, though it had 
settled down on all fronts to the dreary 
monotony of siege warfare. The 
Territorials of Princess Beatrice's Isle 
of Wight Rifles— the i/8th Hamp- 
shire Regiment — were heard of in this 
later fighting, one of their officers. 
Second- Lieutenant G. W. Fox, win- 
ning the Military Cross "for con- 
spicuous gallantry and good service 
as bombing officer, to the garrison 
of Hill 60 between September 3 and 
October 21, 1915". He not only set 
a fine example of pluck and coolness 
to the bombers of the brigade, but also 
had considerable success as a sniper, 
until wounded for the third time on 
October 21. 

Some of the stiffest fiohtino- during 
October centred round the position 
known as "Dublin Castle", stubbornly 
defended against heavy odds by the 
Royal Dublin Fusiliers. On the night 
of October 2-3, Lieutenant W. P. 
Oulton, of the 3rd Battalion, won the 
Military Cross for saving the situation 
when in charge of a covering party, 
who were being heavily bombed. " By 
his coolness and courage ", says the 
Gazette, "he kept those nearest him 
well in hand, and rallied the others ", 
also organizing a rescue party and 
brinoino- in two men who were 
wounded. The men were lying be- 
tween hidden Turkish snipers and 
some huts, and volunteers were called 
for to help in the work of rescue. One 


The Great World War 

of the volunteers was Sergeant S. 
Byrne, of the ist Dublin Fusiliers, 
who was afterwards awarded the 
D.C. M., also awarded to Company 
Sergeant- Major M'Cann, of the same 
battalion, for invaluable devotion to 
duty during the defence of " Dublin 
Castle " from October i to 18. 

" He organized the labour, and when any 
specially dangerous work was in hand he 
always personally superintended it, often 
under a galling fire from snipers. He made 
several night reconnaissances, and on the 
night of October 16-17 built a barricade 
under very heavy fire." 

Throughout the same anxious period 
Captain H. F. de Wolf, who was at- 
tached to the I St Dublin Fusiliers from 
the 1 6th Liverpools, displayed the 
greatest coolness and excellent deci- 
sion under fire, "always getting the 
best out of the men under him ", to 
quote from the record in the Gazette 
of his award of the Military Cross. 
In the last two days of these operations, 
from October 14 to 18, the 2nd Royal 
Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) 
rendered yeoman service, attacking the 
enemy with bombs, catapults, trench 
mortars, and rifle orenades. Reoi- 
mental Sergeant-Major Huband was 
in charge of most of these weapons, 
and earned the D.C.M. for his crood 
work in bringing fire to bear rapidly 
on any required point. The same 
decoration was awarded to Sergeant 
W. J. Fryer for leading his men with 
conspicuous gallantry to the attack of 
a sniper's post near "Dublin Casde ", 
and to Lance-Corporal S. Alexander 
for leading the company bomb-throwers 
with invariable courage and ability. 
Second- Lieutenant Edward Beckwith, 

who received the Military Cross, had 
charge of this company of the 2nd 
Royal Fusiliers during the last days 
of " Dublin Castle's " defence, when 
his energy, says the Gazette, " was in- 
defatigable, and his organization of the 
work to be done excellent ". 

Siege warfare in Gallipoli brought 
in its train all the perils of mining 
operations which characterized the 
campaign on the Western front, and 
with it the heroism of rescue work in 
the hour of disaster. A thrillinof in- 
stance of this occurred near Anzac on 
October 29, when Major Stewart F. 
Newcombe, Royal Engineers, earned 
the D.S.O. for his gallantry in leading 
the rescue parties into a mine which 
had become poisonous with gas fumes. 
He entered the mine tunnel soon after 
the first casualties were reported, and 
although suffering from the effects of 
the fumes continued to lead the rescue 
parties till completely disabled by the 
gas. Another officer lost his life in 
the same heroic work, in which also a 
number of Australians showed their 
indomitable pluck. When one of the 
officers was reported missing Second- 
Lieutenant E, T. Bazeley, of the 22nd 
Australian Battalion, descended the 
shaft, and found him lying insensible 
in the tunnel. Placing a rope round 
this officer, he was himself all but 
overcome by the fumes, but was just 
able to reach the mouth of the shaft in 
time. On recovering from the effects 
of the gas he again descended to com- 
plete the rescue, but once more was 
overcome. He volunteered a third 
time, but was not allowed to descend. 
For his heroic efforts he was decorated 
with the M ilitary Cross. Sergeant R. G. 

Newfoundlanders Win their Spurs 


Stone, of the same Australian Batta- 
lion, who was one of the first to enter 
the tunnel, bringing out two men who 
were oassed at the mouth of the shaft, 
and roping two other men at the foot 
of the shaft, received the D.C.M., also 
conferred upon Private J. H. Kruger 
— another of the 22nd — who displayed 
the greatest pluck in repeatedly enter- 
ing the tunnel and shaft, finally suc- 
ceeding, with the aid of another man, 
in bringing up the body of the officer 
who had succumbed. Sapper C. R. 
Rankin, of the 4th Field Company, 
Australian Engineers, was another of 
the same band of heroes to receive the 
D.C.M. He made two descents, in- 
specting each branch down the fouled 
shaft, and was only just able to reach 
the mouth of the tunnel again on the 
second occasion. 

Many such deeds served to shed 
lustre on the weary months before 
the hour struck to leave this infernal 
peninsula to its fate. The rest of the 
story until that hour arrived is one of 
isolated incidents, the only connecting 
thread being the design to keep the 
enemy off the scent. One incident of 
the kind brought the D.C.M. to two 
Territorials of the ist Fife and Forfar 
Yeomanry — Corporal Valentine and 
Private W, Roger — who set a fine 
example in a dashing bayonet charge 
at Azmac Dere, when they were both 
wounded, but continued in the assault 
with irresistible courage. Another in- 
cident, on the night of November 4-5, 
brought the Newfoundlanders on the 
scene, and gave them an opportunity 
of sharing in the tragic glory of the 
Gallipoli drama. 

Hitherto we had only heard of the 

naval side of Newfoundland's share in 
the Great World War, for her gallant 
sons in the naval reserve had suffered 
grievous losses in the sinking of the 
armed steamers Vicknor and Clan 
M'N'aiighton early in 191 5. Out of 
a population little more than half that 
of Birmingham she raised by the be- 
ginning of 191 6 a military contingent 
of nearly 2000 men. Her first con- 
tingent of 500 men for military service 
had completed their training in the 
Motherland, and the ist Battalion of 
the ist Newfoundland Regiment hav- 
ing landed at Suvla in September, 
and been attached to the 88th Bri- 
gade of the 29th Division, soon had 
its opportunity of distinguishing itself. 
On the night of November 4-5, when 
the Newfoundlanders were ordered to 
advance a portion of our line, a patrol 
of C Company which attacked and 
captured some Turkish snipers' dug- 
out, was heavily counter-attacked and 
in danoer of beino- surrounded. Lieu- 
tenant James J. Donnelly was in 
command of this patrol, and though 
his force consisted of only eight men, 
he kept the enemy at bay all night in 
spite of several determined bomb and 
rifle attacks by the Turks on his front 
and flanks. The Military Cross was 
subsequently conferred upon him for 
his orit, as well as his coolness and 
skill in handling his small party, which 
was reduced to five by casualties. He 
was relieved at length by a dashing 
attack led by an officer and six men 
of the same regiment, who encoun- 
tered the enemy at close range. When 
the officer and two men had been 
wounded Seroeant W. M. Greene took 
command, drove off the Turks, and 


The Great World War 

enabled the rescuing" party to bring in 
the wounded. Both Sergeant Greene 
and Private R. E. Hynes, who also 
disting-uished himself in the attack, 
wore rewarded with the D.C. M. The 
fine work of the Newfoundlanders on 
this and other occasions about the 
same period was acknowledged by the 
followino- Brigade Order, issued by 
Brigadier-General D. E. Cayley, who 
also paid a high tribute to their gal- 
lantry and efficiency in a letter to the 
Governor of our oldest colony: — 

" The G.O.C. wishes to place on record 
his appreciation of the excellent wovk done 
by the Newfoundland Regiment during the 
last few days. By their conduct in this, 
their first important work, they have brought 
distinction to the brigade, and have proved 
themseh'es to be possessed of self-reliance, 
bravery, and tenacity, the first qualities of 
.1 good soldier. C Company has gained 
honour for its battalion and for Newfound- 
land. At the same time, it is a certainty 
that other companies will do equally well 
when they get their chance. The whole 
battalion has been called upon for special 
exertions during the past week, and it has 
responded finel}\ Thanks to Newfound- 
land, an appreciable adx'ance has been made 
against the enemy." 

The slopes and ravines, which had 
baked under the tropical heat of the 
summer sun, proved equally trying 
habitations for troops living in the 
open or in cheerless dug-outs when 
the bleak winds blew from the Steppes 
and across the Black Sea. On No- 
vember 2 1 the Peninsula was visited 
by a storm which everyone in the 
British lines is hardly likely ever to 
forget. Accompanied by torrential 
rains lasting for full twenty-four hours, 
it was said to be nearly unprecedented 

for the time of year. Hard frost and 
a heavy blizzard ensued, which spread 
disaster among our sorely-tried troops, 
especially among those of the 9th 
Corps. These were less favourably 
situated than the Anzacs and 8th 
Corps, who for the first time, probably, 
appreciated the surrounding hills for 
the protection they now afforded them. 
Sir Charles Monro describes how, in 
the low-lying area of the 9th Corps, 
the water-courses became converted 
into surging rivers, which carried all 
before them : — 

" The water rose in many places to the 
height of the parapets, and all means of 
communication were prevented. The men, 
drenched as they were by the rain, suffered 
from the subsequent blizzard most severely. 
Large numbers collapsed from exposure 
and exhaustion, and in spite of untiring 
efforts that were made to mitigate the suf- 
fering, I regret to announce that there were 
200 deaths from exposure, and over 10,000 
sick e\acuated during the first few days of 
December. From reports given by de- 
serters, it is probable that the Turks suf- 
fered even to a greater degree. In this 
pericxl our flimsy piers, breakwaters, and 
light shipping became damaged by the 
storm to a degree which might have in- 
volved most serious consequences, and was 
a very potent indication of the dangers at- 
tached to the maintenance and supply of 
an army operating on a coast-line with no 
harbour, and devoid of all the accessories, 
such as wharxes, piers, cranes, and derricks, 
for the discharge and distribution of stores, 

And all this time, as well as in Oc- 
tober, the dogged, monotonous struggle 
took ceaseless toll of some of our 
bravest and best. On October 15, for 
example, the ist King's Own Scottish 
Borderers lost their brilliant com- 

Lancashire's Heroic Territorials 


mander, Lieutenant-Colonel G. Butler 
Stoney, who, in the previous May, 
when only a Captain, had been sent 
up to take command of his battalion, 
and won the D.S.O. for his "great 
coolness and good leading, holding 
together in a most praiseworthy man- 
ner the battalion, which had suffered 

Captain H. T. Cawley, Liberal Mi^iilier for the Hey- 

wood Division of Lancashire, l<illed in Gallipoli 

(From a photograph by Swaine) 

greatly". He was only thirty-eight, 
and having been lent by the Egyptian 
Army for the purpose, had acted as 
a landinsf officer durintr the famous 
River Clyde landing, 

A few weeks previously the House 
of Commons lost another of its mem- 
bers in Captain Harold T. Cawley, 
Liberal member for the Hey wood 
Division of Lancashire, and Captain in 
the 6th (Territorial) Manchester Regi- 
ment. He was the second son of Sir 
Frederick Cawley, M.P. for Prest- 

wich, who had already lost one son, 
Major Cawley, in the Great World 
War. The East Lancashire Division 
(42nd Territorial) were now holding 
the British left at Helles, on the old 
ground of the 29th, who, as already 
explained, had been moved up to Suvla 
for the final attempt to retrieve the 
fortunes of the campaign. They had 
won a great name for themselves, these 
Lancashire Terriers, and were now 
seasoned veterans, ready for anything 
or anybody. 

One of the bravest among all their 
gallant officers was Second -Lieu- 
tenant Alfred V. Smith, i/5th East 
Lancashires — son of the Chief Con- 
stable of Burnley— who sacrificed his 
life durino- these closino- months of the 
campaign with a devotion which not 
only won the posthumous honour of 
the Victoria Cross, but also the rare 
distinction of special mention in a 
French Army Order. SeCond Lieu- 
tenant Smith was in the act of throw- 
ing a grenade in the trenches when it 
slipped from his hand and fell close 
to several brother officers and men. 
Shoutinof out a warnino- to these, he 
himself jumped clear and into safety, 
but seeing that the others had no time 
to reach cover, and knowing well that 
the grenade was due to explode, he 
returned without hesitation and flung 
himself down on it. He was instantly 
killed by the explosion, but his splen- 
did deed undoubtedly saved the lives 
of his comrades. The facts were 
translated in an order issued to his 
troops by General d'Urbal, command- 
ing the loth French Army Corps, who 
added that " this act of bravery on the 
part of one of the officers of our brave 


The Great World War 

Allies deserved to be known by every- 
one . 

A great reputation had also been 
won by the Lowland Territorials — 
" my own brave fellow-countrymen of 
the Lowland Division of Scotland ", 
as Sir Ian Hamilton described them 
— who had shared all the hardships 
of the campaign in the southern zone 
since sacrificing themselves with mag- 
nificent courage in the battle of June 
28, and were chosen for one of the 
last serious attacks on the Turkish 
trenches before the final evacuation. 
This was on November 15, after care- 
ful preparations which had been in 
progress for some considerable time 
in the sinister region of the Krithia 
Nullah, the scene of so many desperate 
encounters in the earlier battles. The 
signal for the new advance was the 
explosion of three mines under the 
enemy's trenches at 3 p.m., the infantry 
advancing to the attack being units 
of the 4th and 7th Royal Scots, 7th 
and 8th Scottish Rifles, and Ayrshire 
Yeomanry, all of the 156th Brigade — 
the brigade which, under the late 
Brigadier - General Scott - Moncrieff, 
had, in the words of Sir Ian Hamilton, 
" brought great distinction on their 
division" in the batde of June 28. 
Leaping forward like hounds from the 
leash, they now captured about 160 
yards of trench on the east of the 
Nullah, and 120 yards on its west, 
and at once consolidated the position, 
bombing parties advancing up com- 
munication trenches and erecting- bar- 
ncades. The assault was effectually 
supported by our artillery, which simul- 
taneously opened on the enemy's sup- 
port trenches, two 14-in. monitors and 

H. M. S. Edgaj' co-operating. Fire was 
maintained until the position was re- 
ported consolidated about 6 p.m., the 
enemy's batteries meantime replying 
heavily, but very erratically. No at- 
tempt at counter-attack was made by 
the Turkish infantry until two nights 
later, when they were easily repulsed. 
The Lowlanders' casualties in this suc- 
cessful little advance were under fifty 
killed and wounded, but the losses 
which they inflicted on the enemy, 
who was caught by machine-guns, rifle 
fire, and bombs, were considerably 
greater. Over seventy Turkish dead 
were counted in the captured position 
alone, and one of the prisoners reported 
that upwards of thirty had been buried 
by the explosion of one of the mines. 

November, apart from the pheno- 
menal rain-storm and blizzard already 
described, and such memorable inci- 
dents as the blooding of the New- 
foundlanders and the assault of the 
Lowlanders, added no episode of out- 
standing military importance to the 
story of the campaign. The minor 
enterprises were carried out by the 
various Corps Commanders chiefly in 
order to maintain an offensive spirit in 
their commands and to puzzle the 
enemy as to our real intentions. An 
increased activity of the Turkish artil- 
lery, however, became a significant 
factor, showing that no time was to be 
lost in arranoino- the withdrawal. 

When the evacuation was decided 
upon by the Government, on the com- 
bined judgment of their naval and 
military advisers, and after all the 
positions had been examined on the 
spot by Sir Charles Monro and Lord 
Kitchener, considerable losses were 

Evacuation of Anzac and Suvla 


deemed to be almost unavoidable. To 
disengage and withdraw in the face of 
a determined enemy is counted the 
most difficult of all military operations. 
It was entirely due to the foresight 
and skill of the naval and military staffs, 
and the discipline of all ranks, that the 
retreat became a source of pride as 
well as of bitter reo^ret. 


" It was not without deep reluctance and 
regret", said the Prime Minister in the 
House of Commons a day or so later, " that 
we sanctioned the withdrawal, especially of 
Anzac, which is consecrated by so many 
heroic exploits which have won for our 
gallant kinsmen from Australia and New 
Zealand an undying memory of honour. 
It has been carried out by the Navy and 
the Army in combination in a manner for 
which no praise can be high enough, and 
which will, I believe, give it an enduring 
place in the annals of warfare." 

Suvla as well as Anzac was evacu- 
ated in this great withdrawal in De- 
cember, 1 91 5, culminating on the night 
of the 1 8th- 1 9th in the embarkation of 
the last man of two whole armies, with 
the total loss of only three wounded. 
Discarding all text-book theories on 
the necessity of a combined naval and 
military feint in order to throw the 
Turks off the scent, Sir Charles Monro 
decided to make no departure of any 
kind from the normal life which was 
being followed both on sea and on 
land. "A feint", as he says, "which 
did not fully fulfil its purpose would 
have been worse than useless, and 
there was the obvious danoer that the 
suspicion of the Turks would be 
aroused by our adoption of a course 
the real purpose of which could not 
have been lono- disofuised." Sir W. 
Birdwood was accordingly directed to 

prepare a scheme without allowing 
for a demonstration elsewhere, and 
on the lines already contemplated by 
the new Commander-in-Chief, that the 
evacuation could best be conducted 
by a subdivision into three stages. 
The whole operation, of course, was 
not the work of a single night. It 
went on in secret for ten niofhts in sue- 
cession, the first stage being planned 
for the removal of the winter stores, 
&c. ; the second for the shipment of 
all food and ammunition save those 
needed up to the last moment by the 
troops; and the final stage, occupying 
two nights, for the embarkation of the 
guns, transport animals, and troops. 
The men were all removed by care- 
fully calculated degrees until only 
picked troops from each brigade held 
the first-line trenches. 

" It was imperative, of course," wrote Sir 
Charles Monro, " that the front-line trenches 
should be held, however lightly, until the 
very last moment, and that the withdrawal 
from these trenches should be simultaneous 
throughout the line. To ensure this being 
done, Lieutenant-General Sir \V. Birdwood 
arranged that the withdrawal of the inner 
flanks of corps should be conducted to a 
common embarking area under the orders 
of the G.O.C. 9th Corps. In the rear of 
the front-line trenches at Suvla the General 
Officer Commanding 9th Corps broke up 
his area into two sections, divided roughly 
by the Salt Lake. In the southern section 
a defensive line had been prepared from the 
Salt Lake to the sea, and Lala Baba had 
been prepared for defence ; on the left the 
second line ran from Kara Kol Dagh 
through Hill 10 to the Salt Lake. These 
lines were only to be held in case of emer- 
gency — the principle governing the with- 
drawal being that the troops should proceed 
direct from the trenches to the distributing 
centres near the beach, and that no inter- 


The Great World War 

mediate positions should be occupied except 
in case of necessity. At Anzac, owing to 
the proximity of the trenches to the beach, 
no second position was prepared except at 
Anzac Cove, where a small keep w^as ar- 
ranged to cover the withdrawal of the rear- 
most parties in case of necessity." 

The Turks, however, were com- 
pletely baffled: a fact the more as- 

tained the best fighting troops in the Otto- 
man army in their front, and have prevented 
the Germans from employing their Turkish 
allies against us elsewhere. 

" No soldier relishes undertaking a with- 
drawal from before the enemy. It is hard 
to leave behind the graves of good com- 
rades, and to relinquish positions so hardly 
won and so gallantly maintained as those 
we have left. But all ranks in the Dar- 

After the Evacuation of the Northern Zone: burning stores ashore, photographed from H.M.S. Cornwallis, 
the last ship to leave Suvla Bay, December 19, 1915 

tonishinof when we remember at what 
close quarters they had been — in many 
cases within a few yards of each other, 
as Sir Charles Monro pointed out in 
the Special Order of the Day which 
he issued on December 21, expressing 
his appreciation of the way in which 
the withdrawal had been carried out. 

" During the past months", concluded the 
new Commander-in-Chief, " the troops of 
Great Britain and Ireland, Australia and 
New Zealand, Newfoundland and India, 
fighting side by side, have invariably proved 
their superiority over the enemy, have con- 

danelles army will realize that in this matter 
they were but carrying out the orders of 
His Majesty's Government, so that they 
might in due course be more usefully em- 
ployed in fighting elsewhere for their King, 
their country, and the Empire. There is 
only one consideration — what is best for 
the furtherance of the common cause. In 
that spirit the withdrawal was carried out, 
and in that spirit the Australian and New 
Zealand and the 9th Army Corps have 
proved, and will continue to prove, them- 
selves second to none as soldiers of the 

Save for a relatively small quantity 

Our Losses in Action 


of stores, and six guns, which had to be 
abandoned, and were destroyed, the 
whole force both at Suvla and Anzac, 
with its full equipment, was removed 
in perfect security, to the devout relief 
not only of the Mother Country, but 
also of the Oversea Dominions. Mr. 
Hughes, the Australian Prime Minister, 
declared that the evacuation of Anzac 
would spur them all on to still greater 
efforts. " This is no time for carping 
criticism", he added. "Australia is in 
this war to the end, and that end must, 
and shall be, victory, final and com- 
plete." The same loyal, determined 
spirit expressed itself in New Zealand. 
The withdrawal, as the Dominion said, 
was regrettable strategically, but senti- 
ment must not be allowed to interfere 
with strategy. "New Zealanders were 
not going to whine or whimper. If our 
men could serve the Empire elsewhere 
we should not complain of their with- 
drawal from Gallipoli." 

Their valour and fortitude had already 
shed fresh lustre on British arms, as 
the King afterwards said in his mes- 
sao;e to the Governor-General of Aus- 
tralia and Governor of New Zealand, 
sent on the following Anzac Day 
(April 25, 1 91 6), when His Majesty 
attended the memorial service in West- 
minster Abbey: — 

" Tell my people of Australia and New 
Zealand", wrote the King, "that to-day I am 
joining with them in their solemn tribute 
to the memory of their heroes who died in 

" They gave their lives for a supreme 
cause in gallant comradeship with the rest 
of my sailors and soldiers who fought and 
died with them. Their valour and fortitude 
have shed fresh lustre on the British arms. 

" May those who mourn their loss find 

comfort in the conviction that they did not 
die in vain, but that their sacrifice has drawn 
our peoples more closely together and added 
strength and glory to the Empire." 

A day or two after the evacuation 
of Suvla and Anzac Mr. Tennant gave 
the following particulars of our total 
losses in action in the Dardanelles up 
to December 11, 191 5, including the 
Naval Division: — 



Killed (including died from 

wounds and died) 
Wounded ... 

1 1,609 







Grand total ... 



The cases of sickness admitted to 
hospital between April 25 and Decem- 
ber II, 191 5, numbered in all 96,683. 

It only remained to complete the 
evacuation of Gallipoli by removing 
the French and British armies from 
the southern zone at Helles. No 
hint of this further impending with- 
drawal was allowed to escape, the 
Prime Minister indeed explicitly an- 
nouncing that the northern removal 
did not involve any similar operation 
at Helles, where our joint naval and 
military forces still commanded the en- 
trance to the Straits. The Turks, how- 
ever, were hardly likely to be deceived 
either by such astute assertions or the 
obvious preparations in progress at 
Helles for holding the position through 
the winter. With the evacuation of the 
northern theatre they were able to con- 
centrate all their artillery in the south, 
and double the weight of artillery fire, 


The Great World War 

official Photograph 

With the French Army in the Dardanelles : sounding the sunset call on board a transport 

It was only the artillery that the troops 
had serious cause to fear in the final 

" Every part of the ground ", wrote 
Renter's correspondent, who was present 
at the time, " was open to his fire. He 
could shell the communication trenches, 
the roads along which the troops had to 
withdraw, and the beaches from which they 
had to embark, not only from Achi Baba 
and the hill behind Krithia, but from Asia. 
Nobody feared his infantry, or even believed 
that they would attempt to follow us up. 
They would know from their experience at 
Suvla and Anzac that our trenches would 
be mined, the roads blocked with barbed 
wire, and the open ground sown with trip 
mines. Furthermore, there was not a kick 
left in the Turkish infantry who faced us." 

For a week or more after the northern 
withdrawal they bombarded our posi- 
tions at Helles to their hearts' content, 
and then somewhat slackened fire as 
they saw as yet no sign of further re- 
tirement. They were further mysti- 
fied in the closing days of the year by 
a viororous attack from the British 
centre, resulting in the capture of a 
Turkish trench, as though a fresh de- 
termined effort was developing against 
Achi Baba. Under cover of this new 
offensive the plans for the final retire- 
ment, thoroughly prepared for days 
past, and perfectly organized by the 
Allied commanders and their staffs, 
were put into operation. General Bird- 
wood had already arranged with 

Last Scenes Ashore at Helles 


General Brulard, commanding the 
French forces on the Peninsula, that 
the French infantry should be relieved 
as early as possible, in order to escape 
the drawbacks of divided command in 
the final staoe. Orders had accord- 
ingly been issued for the withdrawal 
of the French troops, other than their 
artillery, early in December, and a por- 
tion of the line held by French Creoles 
had been taken over by the Royal Naval 
Division on the 12th of that month. 
By the 21st the number of the French 
o-arrison on the Peninsula had been 
reduced to 4000 men. These were re- 
lieved on the nightof January 1-2, 1916, 
and embarked by their own Navy. 
As the French withdrew we took over 
their sector on the right of the Allies' 
line, ending in the deep ravine known 
as the Kereves Dere, where the 
French and Turks, with their posi- 
tions in full view of each other on 
opposite sides, and equally impossible 
to take, had maintained a kind of un- 
official truce for months past. 

The relief was probably devised 
with the idea of raising- doubts in the 
enemy's mind as to whether the French 
alone were leaving-. In any case, 
neither the British nor the Turks dis- 
turbed the strange peace in the Kereves 
Dere when the first move was made; 
and every day from the beginning of 
the new year the work of evacuation 
on the beaches proceeded without 
interruption, save for the enemy's 
shells both from Achi Baba and the 
Asiatic shores. At last, when only 
one more day remained to complete 
the whole operation, which had fol 
lowed the same system as that prac- 
tised so successfully at Suvla and 

Anzac, the Turks seemed suddenly 
to realize what was happening. This 
was on Friday, January 7, when they 
opened a general bombardment of our 
lines at 1.30 p.m., gradually increasing 
its intensity until, at 4 p.m., when they 
sprang two mines near the positions 
known as " Fifth Avenue " and Fusi- 
lier Bluff, on the extreme left of our 
line, between the edge of the cliff 
overlookino- the sea and the great 
Gully Ravine. The springing of the 
mines was obviously the signal for 
the infantry attack, for the Turks 
fixed bayonets all along our front. 
The enemy, however, was in little 
mood to sacrifice himself against a foe 
who in any case would soon be leav- 
ing him in peace, and whose naval 
guns had their range to a nicety. 
" Our shortage of artillery at this 
time", says Sir Charles Monro, "was 
amply compensated for by the support 
received from the fire of the support- 
ing squadron under Captain D. L. 
Dent, R.N." The Turkish officers, 
added Sir Charles, were seen ap- 
parently endeavouring to make their 
men assault, but they were only suc- 
cessful in doing so opposite " Fifth 
Avenue" and Fusilier Bluff, where 
the attack was completely repulsed 
by the Staffordshires, a large pro- 
portion of the advancing Turks being 
killed or wounded. Our own casual- 
ties in this last batde of the Gal- 
lipoli campaign amounted to 6 officers 
and 158 men killed and wounded. 
The action had probably satisfied the 
Turks that there was no immediate 
prospect of our slipping from their 
clutches. They little dreamt that 
word was passed round that very even- 


The Great World War 

ino- to the remainino- British officers 
in charge that the last stas^e in the 
withdrawal would be completed on 
the followino- ni^ht. 

Progress had been slower than Sir 
Charles Monro had hoped, owing to 
accidents, like the sinking of one of 
our largest horse ships by a French 
batdeship, which considerably retarded 
the withdrawal, and to the weather, 
strong winds springing up which 
seriously interfered with the work on 
the beaches. It was because of the 
increasing uncertainty of the weather 
that General Sir W. Birdwood ar- 
ranged with Admiral Sir J. de Robeck 
for the assistance of some destroyers 
to accelerate the progress of re-em- 
barkation, and to fix the final stage 
of the evacuation for the night of 
January 8, or the first fine night after 
that date. 

Daybreak of January 8, 1916, found 
no one left of the Expeditionary Force 
on the Peninsula save the last fiohtino- 
troops. The night had been fine, and 
the evacuation quietly and successfully 
continued throuohout the hours of 
darkness. Most of the guns had now 
been safely shipped, only those remain- 
ing which were necessary to retain on 
shore for emergencies up to the last 
moment. Wao;ons and the like that 
were not worth shipping were either 
smashed up or thrown over the cliffs. 
Immense quantities of abandoned ma- 
terial were collected on the beaches 
and soaked in petrol for destruction 
in the farewell blaze. Then came the 
withdrawal of the last troops, in three 
orderly trips, the first of which was 
timed for 9 p.m. Apart from the 
weather, which suddenly grew worse 

during the afternoon of the Sth, the 
programme worked splendidly. But 
the wind, blowing at the rate of t,^ 
miles an hour by i i p.m., added enor- 
mously to the difficulties of the task. 
F"ortunately it was very dark, and the 
Turkish artillery was practically qui- 
escent throughout. 

From midnight onwards it was only 
just possible to use the piers and 
lighters, and out of the question to 
embark troops in destroyers along 
sunken ships at W Beach, as arranged, 
the connecting piers being washed 
away in the storm. One lighter went 
ashore at Gully Beach, and the re- 
maining troops had to march to W 
Beach, where four piers were kept 
going. In spite of these difficulties 
the programme was completed \\ith 
brilliant success. 

Map showing approximately the Area in the Southern 
Zone evacuated in January, 1916 

The Closing Act 


Vice-Admiral Sir R. E. Wemyss, K.C.B. , decorated 
for his Services in the Gallipoh Evacuation 
(From a photograph by Heath, Plymouth) 

" The last ditchers in the fire trenches ", 
to quote from the vivid account by Reuter's 
correspondent, wiio watched the operations 
on V Reach from the battered hulk of the 
River Clyde, through one of the i^reat ports 
ill the side of which, cut for the April laiid- 
ini:^, the retreating troops now passed to tlie 
lighters and trawlers beyond, "kept up a 
normal amount of sniping until the end, 
and even had a few machine-guns with them 
in case of need. They came in their turn. 
After them came the destruction party from 
the beach, who made everything read}' for 
the final blaze. By three o'clock there was 
nothing more to wait for. It was time to 
gather our own traps and get on board the 
trawler. We knew that all had gone well 
at W beach. The enemy was delightfully 
quiescent, and the job was done. We cast 
off from the River Clyde at 3.35, the prin- 
cipal military landing officer being the last 
man to leave the ship. Not the least de- 
pressing thought that one had at that 
moment was that the glorious battered old 
hulk must be left there to be blown to pieces 

by our warships, so that the Turks should 
not get her." 

Not until the abandoned stores and 
material were fired simultaneously by 
a time fuse after the evacuation had 
been completed did the Turks awaken 
to the fact that the last of the British 
had escaped. Vast explosions rent 
the air as the fire reached the tons of 
explosives which had to be left behind, 
and told the enemy that he had failed 
after all to be in at the death. Then, 
all along- his line, red lights were fired 
as a signal of alarm, and the artillery, 
hitherto so silent all through the critical 
hours of the night, at once opened 
heavy shelling on our beaches and 
second-line trenches. The red lights 
continued for an hour and a half, and 
the shellino- until after daybreak. But 
the shells were too late. The whole 
of the Allies' last evacuation had been 
successfully completed with the loss of 
one British rank and file wounded, and 
twenty-one worn-out guns (including 
six P^rench naval guns) which were 
blown up before they left. 

The tension of this closing- act of 

the Dardanelles drama was increased 

by the presence of hostile submarines. 

Word had been received early in the 

evening that one was believed to be 

moving down the Straits, and about 

midnioht H.M.S. Prince Georoe,\\\{\Q}ri 

had embarked 2000 men, reported 

that she had been attacked. Her 

escape seemed providential, the torpedo 

which struck her failing" to explode. 

That was the nearest approach to 

catastrophe in the whole course of an 

operation which reflected the highest 

credit on everyone concerned, J^^l* £./ . 

175 i7ir — ^ • 


The Great World War 

Sir Charles Monro downwards. Sir 
William Birdwood and his Corps Com- 
manders had elaborated and prepared 
the orders, in the words of the Com- 
mander-in-Chief, "with a skill, com- 
petence, and courage which could not 
have been surpassed". They had the 
further stroke of good fortune in being 
associated with Vice-Admiral Sir J. de 
Robeck, Vice-Admiral Wemyss, "and 
a body of Naval Officers whose work 

well be proud. It deserves, and I am sure 
will receive, the profound gratitude of the 
King and the country, and will take an im- 
perishable place in our national history. 
His Majesty will be advised that General 
Sir Charles Monro, Admirals de Robeck 
and Wemyss, Lieutenant -Generals Bird- 
wood and Davies, and other officers who 
worked under them, will receive special re- 
cognition for their services." ^ 

Nothing but the steadiest of troops 
would have made such an achieve- 

Official Photograph 

The Supreme Sacrifice: Australian officer visiting a friend's grave before the evacuation of Gallipoli 

remained throughout thisanxious period 
at that standard of accuracy and pro- 
fessional ability which is beyond the 
power of criticism or cavil". Taken in 
conjunction with the earlier retirement 
from Suvla and Anzac, this operation, 
as the Prime Minister said a few days 
later in the House of Commons, was 
without parallel in military and naval 
history : — 

" That it should have been carried through 
with no appreciable loss, in view of the vast 
amount oi personnel and materiel involved," 
continued Mr. Asquith, " is an achievement 
of which all concerned, commanding officers, 
officers, and men in both Services, may 

ment possible; and in the midst of 
the humiliation of their withdrawal it 
was no little consolation to know that 
these orallant men would now have an 
opportunity of winning fresh laurels in 
a sphere aff"ording at least a sporting 
chance of success. F. A. M. 

1 In due course Sir Charles Monro, who shortly after- 
wards succeeded Sir Douglas Haig in command of the 
First Army on the Western front, was created K.C.M.G., 
and Lieutenant-General Davies K.C.B. In the Gazette 
of March 14, 1916, announcing these and many other 
awards in connection with the Gallipoli campaign, it was 
noted that the services of Vice- Admirals Sir J- de Robeck, 
K.C.B.,and Sir R.E. Wemyss, K.C.B.,C.m".G., M.V.O., 
had been recognized in the Gazette of January i, 1916, 
and those of Lieutenant-General Sir W. R. Birdwood, 
K.C.S.I., K.C.M.G., C.B., C.I.E., D.S.O., in the 
Gazette of June 23, 1915. 

Aircraft on the Western Front 




Lessons of the War — Scouts and Fighting Units — Problems of Engine-power — The Sikorsky Biplane 
—Thrilling Experiences of Garros and Pegoud — British Work on the Western Front — Germany and the 
Fokker Monoplane — Aircraft in the Italian Army^D'Annunzio's Adventures in the Italian Air Service. 

EARLY in the war in the air a 
need was shown for the pro- 
vision of air-craft built specially 
to carry out, in the most efficient 
manner possible, certain individual 
tasks. In the West, for instance, with 
the adversaries facing each other from 
month to month along- the same posi- 
tions, the air war displayed a tendency 
to become intensive, duels taking place 
constantly between hostile craft. Even 
when the land forces lie immovable, a 
large amount of flying must be done 
from day to day; flying which is of 
a routine character, and concerning 
which very little becomes known. 
Observations must be made of the 
enemy's trenches and gun positions. 
Photographs must be taken from the 
air of localities that have a special 
interest for Head-quarters. The artil- 
lery must be directed in its firing when 
it pours shells at stated intervals over 
the hostile territory. Certain flights 
of a strategical nature are in addition 
required, long journeys being made by 
air to the rear of the enemy's lines. 
And this is apart from the organization 
of bomb -dropping raids, which are 
made frequently so as to harass the 
opponent on his lines of communica- 

All this flying, carried out daily in 
the Great War as a matter of course, 
entailed a ceaseless passing and re- 

passing above the enemy's lines; and 
this constant invasion of his air space, 
particularly when his secrets were in 
clanger of being revealed, the enemy 
resisted vigorously, using his anti- 
aircraft guns and sending up also his 
defensive aeroplanes. And this meant 
aerial fighting; not occasional and hap- 
hazard, as in the early stages of the 
campaign, but constant, and waged 

with a orrowino- skill. 

It was to meet this situation, to 
adapt the routine of flying to the 
exigencies of constant figrhtino- that the 
combatants, and particularly the Allies, 
organized their work very thoroughly 
and efficiently. When, for instance, 
scouting craft ventured over the 
enemy's lines, either on reconnais- 
sance or for artillery control, or when 
bomb-dropping machines were sent on 
a raid, these aeroplanes, being regarded 
no longer as fighting units, were es- 
corted whenever possible, while in 
danger zones, by specially -chosen 
armed craft — machines flying fast, 
and equipped with a gun or guns, 
whose task it was to meet attacking 
airmen should they ascend to repel 
the invasion of their territory, and 
prevent them from interfering with 
the reconnaissance or the dropping of 

Bomb-dropping machines requiring 
this escort were built primarily for the 


The Great World War 

lifting of heavy loads. They were not 
well fitted to defend themselves against 
aerial attack, their role being merely 
to carry a maximum weight of bombs 
from one point to another, and drop 
them to the best effect. The recon- 
naissance or artillery -directing air- 
craft, which may also need escorting, 
were usually biplanes carrying a pilot 
and passenger, the latter acting as 
the observer, and being provided with 
an installation of wireless telegraphy, 
which enabled him to send rapid and 
constant messages to an operator at a 
land station with whom he was in 
touch. Such a machine, when direct- 
ing artillery, would patrol to and fro 
above a given stretch of country, its 
observer watching the bursting of the 
shells from the battery he was con- 
trolling, and tapping out information 
for the gunners, which — owing to the 
rapidity of this wireless communication 
— could be acted on without delay. 

The purely fighting aeroplane was 
developed assiduously during the pro- 
gress of the war. In the first duels of 
the air, as fought in the summer of 
19 14, pilots in single-seated scouting 
craft, arming themselves with revolvers 
or automatic pistols, waged conflicts 
which were haphazard and mainly in- 
decisive. Rifles played their part also 
in this early fighting; and then came 
the machine-gun. Aeroplanes were 
in existence, before the war, which had 
been fitted experimentally with light 
machine-guns; but the drawback with 
them was that — motors of sufficient 
power not being available — they flew 
too slowly, when burdened with pilot, 
passenger, gun, and ammunition, to 
make them a match for the swifter 

craft, less heavily loaded, which they 
w^ere called on to combat, and seek if 
possible to drive from the air. 

Difficulties presented themselves, 
also, in mounting machine-guns in 
aeroplanes. Unlike a craft on the 
water, or say an armoured motor-car 
on land, the fighting aeroplane must 
expect to be attacked, not only from 
in front and behind, and from either 
side, but also from above and below. 
It proved an awkward problem, there- 
fore, with the early types of fighting- 
craft, which had only one combatant 
and one gun, to place this man and 
his weapon so as to obtain a maximum 
field of fire; particularly when one 
remembers that there were the wide- 
spread planes of a machine, projecting 
on either side of the hull, which were 
immovable obstructions to the hand- 
lino- of a oun. Even if the combatant 
was set well forward, in advance of 
the planes, a position adopted very 
largely, there was more than one angle 
at which — assuming his craft was as- 
sailed from the rear — he would find 
that his fire was masked by the planes 
of his own machine. In combats say 
between individual machines, neither 
of them being supported in their fight- 
ing by any companion craft, the ques- 
tion became one of manoeuvring — each 
pilot seeking to bring his aeroplane 
into such a position that his own 
o'unner had a clear field, while that of 
the adversary was obstructed. 

But it happened frequently, in the 
o'uerrilla form of fiohtino- which was 
waged in the air, that one machine, 
when over the enemy's lines, would 
be attacked by several hostile craft. 
And in this case the pilot so assailed, 

Dreadnoughts of the Air 


while he could manoeuvre so that his angles at the rear. To make such a 

gunner was firing advantageously at machine practicable, to give it a speed 

the machines ahead of him, or on which would enable it to close in 

either side, might find his craft ex- quickly on an antagonist — even when 

posed very dangerously to a stream loaded so heavily — it was recognized 

of bullets from the rear. In many that it would need to be engined 

cases, for instance, it was possible for powerfully; and it was this question 

one airman, when taking part in a of motive -power that constructors, 

combined attack on some hostile ma- encouraged financially as they were 

Super-biplnnes in the Russian Army: one of the Sikorsky machines, with accommodation for sixteen passengers 

chine, to manoeuvre up close behind 
this craft, while its gunner was engaged 
with adversaries who were in front, 
and cripple it with a fire directed from 
a point-blank range. 

What was needed, but what could 
not be provided until problems of 
engine -power were solved, was an 
aeroplane in which there could be, say, 
two combatants, each handling a ma- 
chine-gun, and so placed in the hull 
of the craft that one could fire at all 
angles ahead, and the other cover all 

by the demands of war, solved by the 
adoption of a system which" had been 
tested already in a tentative way. 

A pioneer in this field had been the 
Russian engineer Sikorsky. He built 
before the war a biplane of an alto- 
gether exceptional size, fitted with 
four lOO h.p. motors, which had car- 
ried sixteen people, in a trial flight, to 
a height of several thousand feet. His 
machine was, however, at the outbreak 
of hostilities, in too experimental a 
form to render decisive service; but it 


The Great World War 

was improved as the war progressed, 
being used frequently, and with effect, 
in bomb-dropping raids. 

Fighting aeroplanes, when fitted 
with more than one motor, were not 
only given the additional power that 
was required, but were saved also 
from the risk, when over hostile terri- 
tory, of being brought to earth, and 
lost, through any failure of their en- 
gines. With a single-engine craft, if 
its motor stopped while above the 
enemy, and it was too far from its own 
lines to reach them in a glide, the pilot 
had perforce to reconcile himself, as a 
rule, to being made a prisoner. In 
this way, indeed, purely through some 
mechanical breakdown, the services 
have been lost of many an excellent 
flyer. Garros, the French champion, 
while returning from a bomb raid, 
found that his motor failed suddenly 
while he was still some distance within 
hostile territory. There was no chance, 
by prolonging his glide, to reach the 
French lines, and his engine refused 
obstinately to fire again. So there 
was nothing to do but plane down in- 
to the nearest field. This Garros did, 
and then attempted to hide himself; 
but he was discovered, and made a 
prisoner. Pegoud, another famous 
French pilot, who first " looped the 
loop" in public, escaped very narrowly 
a similar fate. He was brought down, 
by lack of fuel, some distance behind 
the enemy's lines; but in his case 
friendly peasants, being able to pro- 
vide him with a can of petrol, enabled 
him to ascend again before the advent 
of a German patrol. 

With duplicate-engined craft it was 
found possible for the machine, even 

when the power of one engine was 
lost altogether, either by mechanical 
failure or the damage of hostile fire, 
to fly back safely to its own lines, 
though of course at a reduced speed. 
In one case, for instance, a French 
biplane, which had been fitted with 
two motors, came within a heavy zone 
of fire. A shell burst riorht in front 
of it, and one of the engines was so 
damaged that it stopped instantly. 
But, having the other to rely on, and 
handling his machine dexterously, the 
pilot managed to regain his starting- 
point. In a single-engined craft he 
would have been lost. 

The fighting aeroplane, the machine 
which has been styled a "battleplane", 
was still, at the end of 191 5, in what 
may be called its small and experi- 
mental stage, developing hundreds of 

pegoud — the first flying-man to "loop the loop" — 
one of the Heroes of the French Air Service on the 
Western Front 

(From a photograph by H. Manuel, Paris) 

The Allies' Early Superiority 


Ofhcial Photograph issued by the French War Office 

Defending Paris against Air Raids: French anti-aircraft gun post 

horse-power when ultimately it would 
have thousands. But already, given 
two or more engines, and an ability 
to lift a pilot, two passengers, and a 
couple of machine-guns, an offensive 
craft was provided which had. a real 
value. Both the Allies and the enemy, 
realizing- the need for these fightino- 
machines, as apart from craft for 
bomb-dropping or the routine of ob- 
servation, obtained craft as powerful 
as their designers could plan or their 
constructors build. The aim of each 
flying corps, when two great armies 
are opposite each other, is to see all 
that can be seen of the enemy's dis- 
positions — to penetrate as often as 
possible above his territory — and, at 
the same time, by a ceaseless use of 
fighting craft, prevent him from making 
similar observations over their own 

lines. The success 
that is attained, the 
value of the news which 
one air corps secures, 
and the amount of in- 
formation it prevents 
the enemy from obtain- 
ing, give the measure 
of its efficiency — of its 
real value from the 
point of view of the 
Head-quarters Staff 

Up to this period 
the Allies, notably in 
the West, had shown 
a marked superiority. 
In the routine of their 
flying, in their constant 
supply of information, 
in their artillery con- 
trol, and in their bomb 
raids, the British and 
the French aviators had done consis- 
tently better work than the Germans. 
In the House of Commons, on January 
24, 1 9 16, Mr. Tennant, citing figures 
which extended over the previous 
four weeks, was able to show that 1227 
British machines had crossed above 
the enemy's territory; while, during 
the same period, only 310 German 
air-craft had ventured over the British 
lines. During these four weeks, also, 
we had employed 138 machines in 
bomb-dropping raids, the enemy using 
no more than 20. 

These statistics had been obtained 
by Mr. Tennant, and duly announced, 
as a result of the publicity which had 
been obtained by Germany, both in 
enemy and neutral countries, in con- 
nection with the work of an improved 
monoplane, the Fokker, which she 


The Great World War 

had built to operate defensively be- 
hind the German Hnes. This machine, 
a metal-framed monoplane, had been 
constructed specially for its defensive 
role — to rise quickly, that is to say, 
from behind its own lines, to operate 
within a small radius, and to carry a 
minimum load and attain a maximum 
speed. Engined with powerful motors. 

The machine- guns with which the 
Fokker monoplanes were fitted were 
placed rigidly in the bow, firing straight 
ahead through the propeller in the line 
of flight, baffle-plates being fitted on 
the propeller-blades so as to deflect, 
without injury to the propeller, any 
bullets which might strike the blades 
as they revolved. This device, also 

Brought down behind the Russian Lines: captured German Albatross machine being dispatched by rail 

to a repair-shop 

and carrying only one occupant, a 
pilot who was also a combatant, these 
machines were able to attain high 
rates of speed, and proved formidable 
antagonists for craft which, owing to 
the fact that they were invaders and 
not defenders, and had to fly some 
distance in the fulfilment of their 
tasks, needed to burden themselves 
with heavy loads of fuel — -besides 
carrying, in many cases, an observer 
as well as a pilot. 

the rigid mounting of the machine- 
gun, were introduced first, it may be 
noted, by the Allies. 

The pilot of the Fokker, with his 
oun fixed and formino" one with his 

o o 

machine, needed to swing his craft, 
and not merely his weapon, when he 
sought to aim at an opponent; and 
this need for rapid manceuvring, to 
say nothing of the skill required to 
handle accurately so powerful and 
speedy a machine, meant that only 

The Fokker Monoplane 


picked ciirmen, of a quite exceptional 
ability, could hope to fly such mono- 
planes with success. Some of the 
German aviators, pilots who had the 
requisite nerve and skill, did learn to 
handle boldly these defensive craft; 
and it was inevitable, therefore, that, 
our daily invasion of the enemy's air 
space being- steadily maintained, certain 
of our machines should be brought to 
earth. They represented the price of 
the information we secured. Had the 
Germans been as vigorous in their 
observation, and had penetrated as 
persistently above our territory as we 
did over theirs, they too would have 
suffered. These Fokker monoplanes, 
though efficient craft for their special 
task, were by no means unique. There 
were fast-flying British machines, de- 
tailed for defensive work behind our 
own lines, whose pilots were ready to 
give as good or a better account of 
themselves, in attacks on invading 
craft, as did these German airmen in 
their monoplanes. 

In dispatches issued during January, 
191 6, by emphasizing the number of 
British air-craft brought down while 
over enemy lines, by ignoring the cor- 
responding losses of German machines, 
and by giving no idea of the relative 
amount of useful flying that had been 
done by the two corps, the Germans 
sought to create the impression that 
their Fokker monoplanes, defeating 
craft after craft of the British, were 
crippling us heavily in our aerial work, 
while they themselves remained more 
or less immune. But in the House 
of Commons Mr. Tennant, in present- 
ing the official statistics just referred 
to, showed that for a period of four 

weeks, up to the last week in January, 
our losses in air-craft had been thirteen, 
while the enemy had lost at least nine, 
and probably two more. And it must 
be remembered, to understand the 
significance of these figures, that dur- 
ing the period in question we had been 
sending many more machines across 
the enemy's lines than they permitted 
to venture above ours. There is no 
need to underrate the value of the 
Fokker as a defensive monoplane, or 
to decry the individual success of 
enemy airmen. But such questions of 
offence or defence need to be viewed 
as a whole, and not from the point of 
view of what are no more than inci- 
dents in the progress of a long cam- 
paign. The questions that need to be 
asked, in regard to any given period 
of air work, are what information of 
value was obtained during that period, 
what amount of useful oun control w^as 
effected, and how extensively was the 
enemy harassed by bomb and other 
raids? The answer to these questions 
is that the Allies did uniformly better 
work than the enemy. 

Excellent flying was also achieved 
by our ally, Italy. She gained in her 
Tripoli campaign — though the enemy 
was not highly organized — much in- 
formation that was of value re^ardin"" 
the employment of air-craft on active 
service; and these data she used to 
effect in the greater campaign. Italy 
entered the war with appreciably more 
than 100 aeroplanes — machines, that 
is to say, which were ready for imme- 
diate use. She had nearly a dozen 
air -ships, cralt of a moderate size 
which were intended more for recon- 
naissance than for long-distance raids. 


The Great World War 

Her air service comprised, also, a small 
but well -handled squadron of sea- 
planes, which did good work in the 
Adriatic. It was as a passenger in 
one of these sea-planes that the poet 
Gabriele d'Annunzio, who has been 
enthusiastic in his praise of the Italian 
air service, made a memorable flight 
from Venice. The machine had been 
detailed for a bomb-dropping raid, and 
its pilot flew along the shores of the 
Adriatic as far as Trieste. Here, 
while bombs were being dropped, the 
sea-plane was fired at from the earth; 
and one bullet, entering the hull, 
grazed d'Annunzio's elbow. During 
the bomb-dropping, too, an awkward 
thing had happened. One bomb, in- 
stead of sliding from the tube when 
the releasing gear was pressed, became 
wedged in some way, and refused to 
leave its tube. The pilot turned his 
machine at this, and began to fly back 
towards Venice ; but when they neared 
the city, and were preparing to descend, 
they had to reckon with the awkward 
possibility that — shaking itself free at 
any moment from its tube — the bomb 
mio^ht fall and do damagre on Italian 
soil. So, as d'Annunzio describes the 
adventure, he had to lean forward 
with one hand, pumping to maintain 
pressure in the petrol tank, while with 

the other he groped downward into 
the bomb-tube, and sought to prevent 
the missile from breaking unexpectedly 
adrift. Luckily they alighted without 

Gabriele d'Annunzio, the Italian Poet, wounded while 

acting as Observer in the Italian Air Service 

(From a photograph by Guigoni & Bossi, Milan) 

accident, and the bomb remained in 
its tube. Some months afterwards 
d'Annunzio was badly wounded in the 
right eye while acting as observer in 
another flight over the enemy's lines. 

C. G.-W. 
H. H. 

An Arduous Campaign 




(September, 1914-February, 19 16) 

Rounding up the Germans — Enemy Perversions — Native Reprisals against their Teutonic Task- 
masters — German "Frightfulness" in the Cameroons — Charges against the Allies — Major-General Dobell's 
Reply — Gallant Work of French and Belgians — Failure of Allies' First Advance on Yaunde — 
Brigadier-General Cunliffe's Operations — Heavy Guns at Garua — Lieutenant-Colonel Maclear avenged — 
How Banyo fell — Major-General Dobell's Task — British Officers and their Native Troops — Some 
Thrilling Adventures — German Retreat from Yaunde — General Aymerich in Command at Yaunde — 
Enemy's Flight to Spanish Guinea — Elusive Germans— Defeated Governor's Message to Berlin — Capitu- 
lation of the Garrison at Mora — Conquest of Cameroons Complete — Parliamentary Tributes — Knighthood 
for Major-General Dobell. 

WHY the Germans do not 
give in is a mystery ", 
wrote one of the British 
officers in the Cameroons, after the 
fighting which by the end of 19 14 
had given the AlHes the possession 
not only of the enemy's capital, but 
also of the whole of that part of the 
territory where the railways were 
running. It was easier to drive the 
Germans inland, however, than to 
round them up in a country about 
half as large again as Germany itself, 
with every physical difficulty of the 
tropics to contend with, from man- 
grove swamps, broad, crocodile -in- 
fested rivers, and desert scrub to 
dense jungle and mighty mountains 
which military science could render 
impregnable. The natural difficulties 
of the country almost counterbalanced 
the disparity in the numerical strength 
of the rival forces, affordino- the de- 
fending troops endless opportunities, 
as another British officer pointed out 
at the time, for ambushing, sniping, 
and other trickery common to savage 
warfare. That the Germans were in 
formidable strength they had proved 

early in the campaign at Garua, where, 
as described in an earlier chapter, 
they forced one of the British invad- 
ing columns back over the Nigerian 

They made the most of this and 
other minor successes in a charac- 
teristic tissue of lies addressed by the 
retreating Governor to the German 
district authorities after the surrender 
of Duala to the Franco-British force 
under Major-General Dobell on Sep- 
tember 27, 1 9 14. Realizing that this 
humiliation could not remain con- 
cealed from the natives, "and as 
damaging perversions and exaggera- 
tions will be heard if the news is left 
to the gossip of the caravans", he 
instructed the Germans to explain the 
position on the following lines: — 

" At home the Kaiser has first taken the 
country which inflicted horrors on the na- 
tives, Belgium, to which the Congo belongs. 
We have occupied the whole country and 
drixen out the King. Then the Kaiser has 
sent his soldiers deep into France, and is 
bombarding the largest French city, where 
the Governor of the French lives. The 
French have no longer a Kaiser. 

" The (German) Kaiser has captured 


The Great World War 

General Kitschener/ whom the EngHsh re- 
garded as their best commander, together 
with 10,000 soldiers. Kitschener was indeed 
the worst enemy of the Mohammedan 
blacks, and took a whole country from the 
Great Sultan. 

" So many English ships have been de- 
stroyed that the English have now no more 
than we have. 

" As our enemies at home cannot do any- 
thing to us, they are now trying to rob us 
and our natives in Africa. Africa is further 
from Germany than from France and Eng- 
land, so that their ships can be here sooner 
than we can. 

" The English were not strong enough to 
take Duala, but had to call in the help of 
the French. We have moreover only sur- 
rendered Duala because there were so many 
white women and children there to whom, 
according to the law of the whites, nothing 
can happen if no fighting takes place in a 

" Till now things have gone as follows in 
the Cameroons: We allowed the English 
and French to advance a short distance into 
the country. As soon as they were within it 
we, with our brave black soldiers and with 
the help of our natives, drove them out, and 
killed many whites among the enemy. The 
black soldiers of the English and French 
have already deserted them in masses, and 
come to us to fight on our side because they 
see that we are stronger; so it occurred at 
Garua, Ossidinge, and at Ojem, also at Mo- 
lundu, and already sixteen white French- 
men and many French soldiers have been 
killed. At Duala the same will occur." 

The Governor was probably suffi- 
ciently well aware that the news of the 
Germans' retreat would be hailed with 
relief by the natives, who had no reason 
to love their Teutonic taskmasters. 
For years the natives had been sub- 
jected to forced labour for the Ger- 

^ This was eighteen months before Lord Kitchener lost 
his life in H.M.S. Hampshire while on his way to Russia. 

man-owned plantations on the coast, 
where, in the Buea and Victoria dis- 
tricts alone, fully ^1,000,000 had been 
spent on the development of cocoa, 
rubber, and other tropical resources. 
One of the first thinofs the German 
Government did on the outbreak of 
war was to hanir the rulino- chief of 
the Duala tribe and other natives sus- 
pected of friendly leanings towards the 

" I have ordered the destruction of 
all Duala villages", wrote one officer in 
a communication found in a message 
circulated among the German com- 
manders, and printed in one of our 
Government papers on the campaign. 
" All Dualas met on the roads carrying- 
weapons (matchets, bows and arrows, 
spears, and also rifles) are to be shot. 
Prisoners are only to be made when 
they are caught red-handed and can 
be legally tried and condemned to 
death. All Dualas still in the employ- 
ment of the Government on the Nor- 
thern Railway part of the Duala dis- 
trict will be arrested and sent under 
charoe to Dschanor. Bare district is 
going to do the same." It was scarcely 
surprising, therefore, as General Dobell 
pointed out, that the natives regarded 
the departure of the Germans and the 
arrival of the Allies as the dawn of a 
new era of freedom. 

This utterance was part of Major- 
General Dobell's reply to the charges 
of ill-treatment, and licensed savagery 
on the part of the natives, subsequently 
made by certain prisoners of war on 
their arrival in Great Britain. The 
attitude of the German to the native 
inhabitants of the Cameroons, it was 
pointed out, was such that it was not 

German Missionaries and the Alleged Atrocities 6i 

surprising that they were apt to indulge 
in reprisals when opportunity offered. 
It was an infamous lie, however, to 
say that the Allied Forces encouraged 
these attacks, the case of a German 
private, who was said to have been 
seized by the natives and beaten to 
death, being the only instance of the 
kind that had come to Major-General 
Dobell's knowledge. When Duala 

wholesale acts of revenge were not 
indulged in "} 

As regards looting, it was not always 
possible, as the Major-General pointed 
out, to prevent these things in such 
circumstances, but even the Germans 
were admittedly impressed by the 
rapidity with which the various places 
were restored from chaos to order. 
The missionaries who brousfht most 

Reconstructed after Demolition by the Germans : testing a bridge on the Northern Cameroon Railway 

with a heavily loaded train 

was occupied, military patrols were sent 
out with orders to protect the town 
from pillage, but, adds the Commander- 
in-Chief, in answer to German charges 
of plundering, it was no easy matter 
to detail large parties for this purpose, 
the military requirements of the situa- 
tion demanding the presence of bodies 
of our troops to patrol the surrounding 
country. Isolated Germans appear to 
have been attacked by the natives in 
outlying districts, but the surprising- 
thing was, after the systematically 
brutal treatment to which they had 
been subjected by the enemy, " not 
that these attacks occurred, but that 

of the charcres ao-ainst the Allies — 
charges assiduously circulated in pam- 
phlet form in neutral countries — were 
chiefly Germans, whose warlike atti- 
tude in the Cameroons was attested 
by the preacher who, as described in 
an earlier chapter, tried to blow up the 
gunboat Dwarf with dynamite, ex- 
plaining, after his arrest, that he was 
a warrior first and an evangelist after- 
wards. " No other deduction is pos- 
sible ", wrote Major-General Dobell 
at the close of his report on the alleged 
atrocities, " but that the whole of these 

' "Correspondence relative to the Alleged Ill-treatment 
of German Subjects captured in the Cameroons." 


The Great World War 

mendacious statements are part of an 
organized attempt to influence religious 
feeling in Switzerland and America by 
the well-known systematic methods 
employed by the enemy in these 
matters ". 

The difference between British and 
German rule was manifest at once, the 
Dualas, who had reason to be hostile 
to their white rulers long before the 
war, now behaving in a most orderly 
manner. " I am at a loss to under- 
stand ", said General Dobell, " how 
there was any necessity for the con- 
tinual hangings, and other repressive 
measures, carried out by the Germans." 

The lie was g^iven to the retreating- 
Governor's threat to drive the Allies 
back, in the decisive defeat of the 
German attempt at the beginning of 
191 5 to recapture Edea, some 50 
miles to the south-east, which had 
fallen to the French column under 
Colonel Mayer about a month after 
Duala. The enemy was now forced 
to withdraw his main force to the 
high plateaus in the centre of the 
colony, and establish a new seat of 
Government at Yaunde, evidently with 
an eye to retreat, in the last resource, 
to the only neutral spot within reach, 
Spanish New Guinea, wedged into the 
south-western corner of the country — 
the one remaining sanctuary in case 
of need. Everywhere else the Ger- 
mans were hemmed in by British and 
French territory. 

The principal advance on Yaunde 
was made by British and French 
columns from Edea, with Major- 
General Dobell's base at Duala, while 
other British columns under Brigadier- 
General F. H. G. Cunliffe, of the 

Nigerian forces, swept down from the 
north, and other French columns ad- 
vanced westward from French Equa- 
torial Africa. 

A special word is due to the Bel- 
gians for their gallant co-operation 
with the French in these last-named 
columns. Their help came from the 
adjoining Government of the Belgian 
Congo, which at the beginning of the 
war, excessively anxious to observe its 
"scraps of paper", and in particular 
the Treaty of Berlin, had decided to 
maintain a strict neutrality. When, 
however, the Germans, by their attack 
on Lukuga, near the East African 
border of the Belgian Congo, plainly 
avowed their intention of treating this 
neutrality with no more respect than 
they had treated that of Belgium her- 
self at the very beginning of the war, 
the Governor of the French colony 
was informed that he could count to 
the full on Belgian assistance. 

This co-operation began with a 
brilliant little action at the end of 
October, 19 14, when the Belgian 
steamer L7ixenibourg, manned by a 
detachment of Belgian colonial in- 
fantry, with three guns and a mitrail- 
leuse, joined the French steamer 
Commandant Lamy, and shared in 
the operations which developed along 
the River Sanga at N'dzimou. In 
the report concerning these operations 
issued by the Belgian Minister in 
London it transpired that it was in 
consequence of the bold manoeuvring 
of the Ltixembonrg that the German 
stronghold at this point was captured. 

Lieutenant Bal, and M. Goransson, 
the commander of the Luxembourg, 
were subsequently appointed Cheva- 

The Franco- Belgian Advance 


Hers of the Legion of Honour. From 
that time onwards the Belgians shared 
in all the operations which followed, 
especially those in the advance towards 
Lomie and Yaunde. These and other 
French columns accomplished a re- 
markable feat in African warfare by 
fighting their way across the German 
colony from French Equatorial Africa, 
after recapturing the valuable strip 
which France had ceded as the price 
of the settlement of the Agadir crisis 
in 1911. 

Remarkable though it had been in 
these respects, however, the French 
advance had not been as rapid as ex- 
pected. It was not in time for the 
Allies' first advance on Yaunde in the 
spring of 191 5, planned as a result of 
a mission which arrived at Duala in 
March from French Equatorial Africa 
to invite General Dobell's co-operation 
in that premature offensive. Though 
doubtful at the time as to the feasi- 
bility of the enterprise he ultimately 
consented to join forces with all his 
available strength, in view of the great 
advantage which would follow an early 
occupation of Yaunde. The British 
force, commanded by Lieutenant - 
Colonel A. H. W. Haywood, R.A., 
was entrained on April 7, with instruc- 
tions to begin a methodical advance 
in conjunction with the French column 
under Colonel Mayer. Both the line 
of the Kele River and the position at 
Ngwe were obstinately defended by 
the enemy, but were forced by the 
British troops, who also captured Wum 
Biagas on May 4, though not without 
serious losses. Here they were joined 
by the French force, which had also 
been stubbornly opposed, and the 

command of the Allied expedition 
devolved upon Colonel Mayer. 

The terrain afforded many defen- 
sive positions, and at every turn of 
the road, says Major-General Dobell, 
the advance was met by machine-gun 
fire. Similar difficulties held up the 
French columns from the east and 
south-east under General Aymerich. 
Neither Dume nor Lomie had been 
captured by them on May 1 1. Colonel 
Mayer was then instructed to push on 
from Wum Biagas with the utmost 
vigour; but his difficulties proved in- 
surmountable. Major-General Dobell, 
too, was unable at that period to co- 
ordinate the movements of all the 
scattered columns, owing, as he pointed 
out in his dispatch, to the vastness of 
the area, and the impossibility of estab- 
lishing any means of communication 
between the various commanders. 
This fact, together with the almost 
impenetrable bush, the stubborn de- 
fence of the enemy, and the wastage 
through sickness, caused the first ad- 
vance on Yaunde to end in failure. 
The main expeditionary force fell back 
on the line of the Kele River, where 
the rainy season brought an unavoid- 
able lull in that sector until the 
following autumn. 

Meantime, however, an Anglo - 
French force under Brigadier-General 
F. H. G. Cunliffe was advancing- with 
brilliant success from the direction of 
the Nigerian frontier in the north-east. 
On June 11, 1915, these troops amply 
avenged our reverse at Garua in the 
previous August, not only capturing 
that formidable stronghold, but also 
compelling the surrender of the gar- 
rison. The Royal Navy, nothing 


The Great World War 

daunted by the fact that Garua was in 
the very heart of the colony, hundreds 
of miles inland, had a leading share in 
this success, as in so many other dis- 
tant operations in the Great World 
War. A detachment under Lieutenant 
L. H. Keppel Hamilton, R.N., trans- 

even more astonishing feat was the 
transport of a large -calibre French 
gun from Morocco upon boats over 
a thousand miles of waterway for the 
same attack. 

The Germans had made tremendous 
preparations to put up a stubborn fight 

With the Alhes at Garua: left to right — Major Wright, Lieutenant Cook, Brigadier-CJeneral Cunlilte, 

and Lieutenant-Colonel Brisset 

ported a naval gun for this attack some 
160 miles up the lower reaches of the 
Niger River, thence 480 miles up the 
Benue River, and finally 60 miles by 
land, "thus contributing in large mea- 
sure ", says the Gazette, in recording 
that officer's award of the D.S.O. for 
his services, " to the success of the 
operations which culminated in the 
surrender of Garua". Asimilar and 

for this important station, inhabited 
by some 10,000 natives, and protected 
by a series of forts and every device 
known in field fortification, with under- 
ground bomb-proof shelters and store 
rooms, and even underground field 
hospitals in each. One of the British 
officers enoaoed in the attack, whose 
account of the operations was pub- 
lished some months later by the 

The Capture of Garua 


Colonial Office, says that each fort 
was surrounded by a strongly built 
circular mud wall riveted with gabions 
and fascines, and embrasured and loop- 
holed for riHe fire. Outside, a broad 
deep ditch was crossed by a single 
drawbridge, the approach to the ditch 
being guarded first by a line of deep 
pits with spears — some of them poi- 
soned — stuck in each and carefully 
concealed, with the orround outside 
sprinkled over with broken glass and 
bamboo splinters; then by a circle of 
defences made of felled trees, with 
boughs pointing outwards; and beyond 
that by barbed -wire entanglements. 
It subsequently transpired that the 
Germans had kept 2000 labourers 
hard at work for over six months for- 
tifying the place, knowing that the 
time would come when the British 
would return to exact a price for the 
disaster of the previous August. 

The capture of this stronghold was 
a triumph of organization. Allied 
troops were posted to prevent the 
ofarrison from breaking: throuoh, while 
the main force began gradually sapping 
up by a series of parallel trenches 
nearer and nearer to the fort imme- 
diately to its front : 

"Sapping", writes the officer already re- 
ferred to, "only took place at night, the 
troops emplo\-ed on this work occup)ing 
the newly-dug trenches by day and being 
relieved every twenty-four hours. A well- 
regulated bombardment of the three forts 
situated on the high ridge overlooking 
Garua, as well as on the old fort in the 
plain below, was kept up from heavy guns 
from a distance of about 4000 yards at first, 
and latterly from 3000 yards. This bom- 
bardment was supplemented on the last 
day or two by fire from smaller guns, for 

which there had been found a fairly well- 
concealed position about 1900 yards from 
Nos. I and 2 forts. The enemy kept up a 
very lively fire from their field-guns at first 
— in reply to our guns — which fortunately 
only resulted in the wounding of three or 
four men, but caused a good deal of excite- 
ment among the carriers and camp followers 
and a lot of amusement to the soldiers." 

The defenders afterwards admitted 
that our heavy shell fire — melinite and 
lyddite — completely demoralized their 
men. A direct hit on No. 2 Fort pre- 
sently burst into one of their bomb- 
proof shelters and killed some twenty 
of them. This seems to have been the 
climax. The troops began mutinying 
and refusing to man the forts; and on 
the last day, when the Allies' bombard- 
ment was at its height, many of their 
cavalry broke loose, seized their horses 
and rifles, and bolted. A number of 
them escaped from the fort only to be 
drowned in the river, for the Benue 
had meantime risen considerably, and 
there was no other way of escape from 
our mounted infantry and the hVench 
cavalry, w^ho accounted for many of 
the fugitives. 

The defenders' desperate plight in 
the forts was so little suspected by the 
Allies that on the afternoon of June 10, 
191 5, when white flags were suddenly 
hoisted, they were taken to mean, not 
surrender, but " merely another Teu- 
tonic ruse". However, the Cease Fire 
was ordered, and Brigadier-General 
Cunliffe, with Lieutenant -Colonel 
Brisset, the French commander, gal- 
loped with two Staff officers to our 
forward trenches, about 1000 yards 
from the enemy's position. Here they 
dismounted, and proceeded on foot, 



The Great World War 

headed by a man carrying a white 
shirt on a stick to do duty for a flag, 
until they arrived fairly close to the 
German fort, when they halted and 
awaited events. 

" A long pause ensued ", continues the 
author of this human little narrative of the 
surrender, " before they saw a party of 

forces! Our CO. at once replied that he 
would listen to no terms of any sort, and 
that the surrender must be absolutely un- 
conditional. The German saluted, and re- 
plied he would carry back this answer to 
the German Commandant, and requested 
two days' grace to bring back the Com- 
mandant's reply. Our CO. said he would 
give him two hours, and that if no reply 


The Recapture of Garua: saluting the Tricolour and Union Flag hoisted over the German Coniniandani's 
house— seen in the photograph continued on the opposite page 

horsemen under a white flag emerge from 
the old fort and advance in their direction. 
A German officer heading this procession 
on getting close to them dismounted, walked 
forward, saluted, and stated that he wished 
in the name of the German Commandant 
of Garua to offer the surrender of the forts, 
town, and garrison of Garua to the Allied 
Forces, but on certain conditions, namely, 
the garrison to march out with the honours 
of war, and to be allowed to proceed down 
south to rejoin the rest of the German 

was then forthcoming, he would at once 
recommence the attack." 

Darkness set in before the hours of 
grace expired, but punctual almost to 
the minute lights were seen advancing, 
and the same officers returned to state 
that our terms had been accepted. All 
that the Commandant hoped was that 
the German officers would be allowed 
to retain their swords, and that the 

A Disaster Avenged 


native inhabitants of the town would 
be protected. This was agreed to, 
Von Cranzelheim, the Commandant, 
remaining in our camp that night as 
a hostage. Daybreak the following 
morning saw the Allies marching in 
triumph into Garua, where, in front of 
the Commandant's house, they pulled 

tion and other stores, and a well- 
equipped hospital. A close inspection 
of the defences caused the captors to 
realize their amazing luck in capturing 
the place without the loss of a single 
life. " I personally", wrote the official 
chronicler of the surrender, "reckoned 
on a heavy casualty list, both among 

The kecaplure of Garua: saluting the Tricolour and Union Flag hoisted over the German Commandant': 

house, June 11, 1915 

down the German flag, and in its stead 
hoisted, side by side, with a flourish 
of bugles, the Union Jack and the Tri- 

The survivinof o-arrison numbered 
300 odd, with nearly forty European 
officers and non-commissioned officers, 
the remaining spoils of war including 
four field- and ten machine-guns, 700 
shells, some hundreds of rifles, an im- 
mense amount of small arms ammuni- 

officers and men, and in my inmost 
heart would have liked to have had 
one really good stand-up fight and 
allowed our men to get into them with 
the bayonet, and pay back our score 
for last August." Lieutenant-Colonel 
Maclear and the four other British 
officers who had been killed on that 
occasion had, however, been amply 
avenged. On the following morning 
a full funeral parade service was held 


The Great World War 

over their graves, and a large wooden 
cross erected, with their names en- 
graved on it. 

The fall of Garua was the last nail 
in the coffin of German prestige on 
the Nigerian frontier and in Central 
Africa. The Emir of Bornu celebrated 
the occasion with three days' public 
rejoicing in his capital, also sending 
^looo to Sir Frederick Lugard as a 
further contribution to the British war- 
chest, and prayers for the victory of 
British arms. He had already sent 
^3500 for the same cause. " I am 
the servant of our lord the King," he 
wrote. " Why should I not help him 
to eat up his enemies."^ 

Having cleared the whole frontier 
of the Yola Province the Allies — be- 
tween whom the most cordial relations 
existed, not a single case of friction 
being recorded either among the officers 
or the troops — struck south, occupy- 
ing Ngaundere, one of the leading 
trade marts in the interior, about 120 
miles by road from Garua, on June 29. 
Our losses on this occasion were two 
rank and file killed and eight wounded. 
Another column captured Kontsha, 
nearer the Nio^erian frontier, on the 
following day. Fully realizing the 
crushing effect of the capture of the 
centre of their defence at Ngaundere, 
the Germans attempted to retake that 
position by a sharp night attack. 
This, however, only resulted in a fresh 
defeat for them. Thus their strong- 
holds fell one by one, compelling the 
gradual retirement of the main German 
force southwards, and helping towards 
the fall of Yaunde, on which other 

^ Battle Sketches, igi4-is. By A. N. Hilditch (Oxford 
University Press). 

columns were meanwhile converging 
from the south, east, and west. Tin- 
gere — to continue the record of the 
northern column — was captured a 
fortnight after Kontsha, Gashaka on 
August 16, Banyo on October 24, and 
Tibati on November 3. 

The fall of Banyo led to some stub- 
born mountain fighting and an exhibi- 
tion of endurance and bravery on the 
part of the Nigerian troops which 
called forth a special telegram of ap- 
preciation from the Secretary of State 
for the Colonies for Brigadier-General 
Cunliffe and all ranks concerned. 
These operations, like the fall of 
Garua, have been vividly described by 
one of the British officers in communi- 
cations addressed to Sir Frederick 
Lugard, Governor-General of Nigeria. 
So admirably were the plans worked 
out, he writes, that the two columns, 
one under Brigadier-General Cunliffe 
and the other under Major Mann, ad- 
vancing on Banyo respectively from 
Kontsha and Gashaka, arrived before 
that place at practically the same time. 

" The capture of Gandua Pass by Major 
Mann's column was a fine performance. 
Not only did he have to surmount difficult 
physical obstacles, but the surprise and the 
successful rout of the enemy holding the 
pass created a great moral effect on the 
garrison of Banyo, and no doubt materially 
affected our success in forcing the passage 
of the Genderu Pass. The enemy opposing 
our advance, hearing of the capture of the 
Gandua Pass, and fearing their line of re- 
treat on Banyo would be cut off, put up but 
a feeble resistance." 

The writer was accompanying Bri- 
gadier-General Cunliffe's column from 
Kontsha, by way of Dodo, beyond 

The Battle of Banyo Mountain 



English Miles 

driven back with no 
loss on our side, left 
Banyo fort to its fate 
on October 24, and 
withdrew to his orim, 
stupendous stronghold 
on the summit of 
Banyo Mountain, while 
the native chiefs came 
in to greet the con- 
querors with profes- 
sions of loyalty and 
expressions of delight 
at their arrival. Hav- 
ing formally taken pos- 
session of the place, 
preparations were at 
once put in hand to 
deal with the retreated 
Qfarrison on the moun- 
tain top, where the 
Germans, well stocked 
in advance with sup- 
plies of every descrip- 
tion, were confident of 
holding out until the 
end of the war. With 
huge rocky boulders 
covering the mountain 
side, and linked to- 
gether with strongly- 
built "sangars" right 
up to the summit, they 
regarded their position 
as invulnerable. The 
which they had to cross a perfect bar- British attack on this redoubtable 
rier of mountains by a steep, narrow crest began in the early hours of No- 
path. This led to a plateau guarded vember 4, 191 5. 
by a strongly-prepared enemy position. 

The Conquest of the Cameroons: map showing approximately how the colony 
was cleared of the German troops, and the scene of the escape of their main 
force into Spanish Guinea 

A, General Dobell's main columns, with French columns under Colonel Mayer. B, French 
southern columns. c, Franco-Belgian columns from French Equatorial Africa and Belgian 
Congo. D, Franco- British columns under Brigadier-General Cunliffe. e, Northern colunui 
under Lieutenant-Colonel Brisset. 

which, but for the moral effect of Major 
Mann's advance, would have been no 
easy matter to capture. As it was, 
the half-hearted enemy, who was 

" The infantry," continues our official 
chronicler, "advancing from different direc- 
tions, covered by the fire from our three 
guns, worked their way up slowly and 
doggedly foot by foot, climbing over rocks 


The Great World War 

and tearing their way through the tliorny 
scrub and long grass, under a heavy rifle 
and maxim-gun fire from the enemy's 
' sangars ' and concealed snipers among the 
rocks. By the evening most of the com- 
panies had managed to struggle half-way 
up the hill, there getting what shelter they 
could from the incessant fire of the enemy 
aided by the light of fire-balls and rockets. 
Ofificers and men, exhausted and drenched 
with rain, hung on determinedly to the 
ground gained. At dawn on the morning 
of the 5th they started climbing once more. 
Our troops having got directly under the 
first line of ' sangars ', the enemy, in addi- 
tion to rifle and maxim-gun fire, started 
rolling down rocks and throwing dynamite 
bombs. All that day our men gradually 
worked their way up, capturing a small 
stone redoubt and ' sangar ' here and there. 
Owing to the paucity of gun ammunition, 
the covering artillery fire could not afford 
the infantry the essential assistance so im- 
peratively necessary on these occasions. 
Fortunately a convoy arrived on the after- 
noon of the 5th, bringing with it 200 more 
rounds of gun ammunition which, hurriedly 
sent out, enabled the guns to fire somewhat 
more rapidly till the upward advance of the 
infantry, and their proximity to the summit, 
rendered it too dangerous to continue their 

At 6 o'clock a terrific thunderstorm 
joined in the din of bomb explodino- 
and the bursting of fire-balls, and added 
to the hardships of a struggle which 
seemed in danger of failure from the 
sheer physical exhaustion of our troops. 
But while our men were worn out with 
their days and nights of incessant 
climbing and fighting, the enemy, on 
his side, was completely demoralized 
by the determined nature of our ad- 
vance. Under cover of the darkness, 
and the tumult of the thunderstorm, 
many of them wormed their way 

through our lines and scattered into 
the long grass beyond, where it was 
practically impossible to follow them. 
Up to that point the Germans had 
put up a stout resistance, contesting 
every yard, and using dynamite bombs 
as hand - grenades, which tried our 
troops very highly. It was only when 
they saw that our men, fighting mag- 
nificently, and gallantly led by their 
company officers, would not be denied 
that the bulk of them broke up during 
the storm into small scattered parties, 
and sought safety in flight, trusting to 
their knowledge of the intricacies of 
the country to find a way through. 
In the mist of the early morning of 
the 6th it was impossible to see what 
was happening, but the absence of 
opposition soon persuaded the con- 
querors that the enemy had fled, and 
with the clearing of the mist all doubt 
on the subject was finally removed. 

" On the top of the mountain an extra- 
ordinary sight presented itself Scattered 
in all directions were broken furniture, 
burst-open trunks and tin boxes, blankets, 
bedding, clothes, tins of food, broken bottles 
of wine and beer, smashed-up rifles, grama- 
phones, telephones, and a medley of every 
conceivable sort of thing. There were two 
fine cement-built reservoirs of water, a vege- 
table garden, caves converted into granaries 
and filled with mealies and guinea corn, 
cattle, pigs, and sheep browsing about, and 
chickens galore. This was very clear and 
conclusive proof of the conviction of the 
Germans that the mountain was impreg- 
nable, and that they meant to hold it in- 
definitely and continually worry us." 

The capture of such a position, adds 
the same authority, was a task which 
would have tried the finest soldiers 
in the world; and Brigadier-General 

The Advance c>n Yaunde 



AMIS j^^' 

Our Nigerian Troopi in the Camcn 

ji.j wu.ijpti-gn : ii.Uive sliuiv guaidai 
when the Germans surrendered 

vury found in Garua 

Cunliffe, who had a parade of all 
troops on the following day in honour 
of the occasion, declared in his official 
report, that their brilliant feat of arms 
was one of which Nigeria should be 
justly proud. Our losses amounted 
to between fifty and sixty killed and 
wounded, including- Captain C. G. 
Bowyer-Smith, Gloucestershire Regi- 
ment, "one of our best and bravest 
company commanders", killed on the 
first day of the attack, and Captain L. 
N. A. Mackinnon, Coldstream Guards, 
"also a very valuable officer", who was 
killed durinor the flioht of the fuoitives 
from the mountain top in the early 
hours of November 6. The German 
losses were estimated at about eighty 
killed and wounded, includino- thirteen 
Europeans, among them being their 
commander, Captain Schipper, who 
was killed. 

It is time to turn from these suc- 
cessful operations under Brigadier- 
General Cunliffe, for which he was 
given his C.M.G. in the following- 
New Year Honours list, to the second 
and decisive advance of the Allies' 

main forces along the road and rail- 
way from Edea on Yaunde, where the 
Germans were still making some show 
of maintaininor their seat of orovern- 
ment. Prooress in the coastal reoion 
after the operations described on p. 63 
had been stopped by the rains from 
June to September, but the advent of 
dry weather in the autumn of 191 5 
brought with it the vigorous prosecu- 
tion of the campaign in the sphere in 
which the colony's fate was destined 
to be sealed. Major-General Dobell 
left nothing- to chance in providing 
for the security of the lines of com- 
munication in this difficult reorion, a 
blockhouse, garrisoned by from fifty 
to a hundred men, being established 
every 30 miles or so. This was essen- 
tial to the safety of the various columns, 
but it was also an increasing tax on the 
fighting strength of the scattered forces, 
from which heavy toll was steadily 
taken, not only by the enemy, but 
also by malaria, blackwater fever, and 
other diseases of the tropics. 

On October 8, 191 5, the British 
column under Lieutenant-Colonel A. 


The Great World War 

H. W. Haywood, R. A., met the enemy 
in considerable force at Wum Biagas, 
about midway between Edea and 
Yaunde, and lO miles south of the 
Sanaga River. The enemy was 
strongly entrenched, but after a severe 
engagement lasting 30 hours he was 
soundly beaten and his position cap- 
tured. In this affair and the energetic 
pursuit which followed we had between 
fifty and sixty casualties, including a 
number of officers killed or wounded. 
Here, as elsewhere, our native troops, 
recruited in the several colonies or dis- 
tricts to which the respective regiments 
belong, proved first-rate fighting men, 
"remarkably steady and courageous", 
as an officer attached to this column 
wrote in a letter quoted in the Morn- 
ing Post. 

"The 1st Nigerians are Hausas," he 
added — " big, strapping fellows, very black, 
and rather appalling to look at, owing to 
their custom of tattooing the face with 
hideous and fantastic designs. The tat- 
tooing is not done in the comparatively 
gentle nautical fashion with a needle, but 
with a knife, which leaves deep gashes in 
the features. Cheeks, forehead, nose, chin, 
and neck are ornamented in this way. The 
head is either shaved clean or odd little 
top-knots are left, somewhat like those of 
a circus-clown ! The field uniform consists 
of a green fez, khaki shirt, 'shorts', and 
puttees. A woollen cape and a blanket 
roll are carried on the back. They are 
armed with the 303 Lee-Enfield rifle, with 

" They take their fighting very seriously, 
and when they go into action they have a 
peculiar way of stamping their feet in a sort 
of rhythm, at the same time giving vent to 
the most blood-curdling and ferocious war 
chants! If properly led they will do any- 
thing and go anywhere: they are in many 
respects like great schoolboys, and every- 

thing depends on the courage and coolness 
of their white officers." 

The white officers are all drawn 
from the Repular reoriments of the 
British Army, and, needless to say, get 
the very best out of their men. Their 
adventures, if they ever come to be 
written, would fill a whole library of 
thrilling romance. The march of every 
column was one long series of adven- 
tures, as the troops cut their way some- 
times for weeks through almost im- 
penetrable bush, fording rivers knee 
to waist deep in which lurking croco- 
diles varied the attacks of Huns, mos- 
quitoes, flies, and huge ants, and never 
knowing how far or near the cunning 
and unscrupulous enemy might be. 
A good idea of these ever-present 
dangers and hardships is conveyed in 
another letter published in the Morn- 
incr Post, this time from an officer of a 
Gold Coast regiment, whose force was 
detailed to clear the left flank of Colonel 
Haywood's column, which, as we have 
just seen, had captured Wum Biagas on 
the road to Yaunde. The advance of 
this officer's regiment, after it had en- 
countered all the foregoing adventures, 
took them down the side of a moun- 
tain, with a precipice falling sheer into 
unknown depths, along a path at an 
angle of 45 degrees, and 4 to 5 inches 
deep in greasy mud. The troops suc- 
ceeded in getting down this after eight 
strenuous hours, and losing some 
twenty loads over the precipice; and 
found themselves at midday, with 
sounds of firing on their right, facing 
a river, fordable at one small spot, 
with a steep high bank on the opposite 
side. Here, through the trees, the 

Some "Jolly Good Scraps" 


officers could just make out a block- 
house half concealed in the bush, but 
as no attempt was made to fire on 
them they began to think the place 
had been evacuated by the enemy in 
order to concentrate against the main 
force at Wum Biagas. Happily they 
decided to make sure by a preliminary 
search with their small mountain gun 
and two machine-guns. At once the 
danger stood revealed, a furious salvo 
of fire opening not only from the loop- 
holes of the blockhouse, but also from 
hidden trenches lining the bank and 
both flank and rear of the positfon. 
Such an ambush was only possible 
in a country where, as the correspon- 
dent pointed out, it was impossible to 
see or scout your flanks. Knowing 
they were trapped they dropped like 
logs, for their side of the river had 
been made "as clean as a new pin", 
all the trees and brushwood having 
been cleared away. 

" After we had taken our breath we came 
to ourselves again and fired like the deuce 
at their positions, which we could only dis- 
tinguish by the bursts of flame from their 
rifles. As soon as we got their range their 
firing went to pieces and their shots com- 
menced to fly high. If they had only shot 
straight enough to hit a haystack I should 
not be here to tell the tale. However, in 
the first fifteen minutes our men dropped 
like flies, and one poor devil was shot 
through the eye and killed as dead as a 
door-nail only two yards away from me." 

Presently men were sent out to sweep 
the enemy from their flanks and rear, 
"and after a jolly good scrap lasting 
four and a half hours they cleared out 
entirely, leaving the place in our 
hands ". 

It was in just such a "jolly good 
scrap " that Captain J. F. P. Buder, 
of the same regiment, won his Victoria 
Cross, when, with only thirteen men, 
he attacked and defeated lOO of the 
enemy; also capturing a machine-gun 
and many loads of ammunition. 

While the British contingents were 
pursuing the defeated Germans along 
the motor road from Edea to Yaunde, 
the French column under Colonel 
Mayer was advancing in the same 
direction alo- g the railway line, coming 
into collision with the enemy on several 
occasions, and inflicting heavy losses 
on him. By November 17, 191 5, the 
French had won through to Mangeles, 
and by December 17 our troops had 
fought their way to open country. It 
was now apparent that the enemy's 
strenorth was becoming exhausted. 
Cut off from munitions, supplies, 
and reinforcements by the effective 
blockade of the whole Cameroons 
coast, the Germans could only impede, 
without staying, the determined pro- 
gress of the Allies, who gradually 
encompassed the foe in the compara- 
tively elevated area about Yaunde, 
where Brigadier -General Cunliffe's 
column also threatened them from the 
north. General Aymerich's Franco- 
Belgian columns from French Equa- 
torial Africa in the east and south- 
east, and another column from the 
French Cono-o, under Lieutenant- 
Colonel Le Meillour, in the south. 

Realizing that further resistance was 
futile. Colonel Zimmerman, the Ger- 
man Commander, with Ebermaier, the 
Governor, and Government officials, 
fled from Yaunde before it was too 
late, and practically the whole defence 


The Great World War 

of the colony collapsed. They evi- 
dently left Yaunde none too soon, for 
the official announcement that the 
British force under Colonel E. H. 
Gorges, D.S.O., had occupied that 
town on January i, 19 16, added that 
our troops were in contact with the 
German rearguard, the enemy having" 

Aymerich, the military commander in 
French Equatorial Africa, who, with 
the French Governor-General Merlin, 
had meantime arrived by gun-boat at 
Duala, where he had been received 
by General Dobell. Having made 
arrangements with General Dobell for 
the pursuit of the enemy from Yaunde, 


jad between Duala and Yaunde: a corner of one of the military 
the Allied troops 

^uiblished by 

retreated towards the south and south- 
east. During the first week in Janu- 
ary other Allied columns began to 
arrive in Yaunde from the north and 
from French Equatorial Africa. " It 
is, I think, remarkable," wrote Major- 
General Dobell, " that troops that had 
fought and marched for a period of 
seventeen months should have con- 
verged on their objective within a few 
days of one another." 

The command of the Allied troops 
at Yaunde was taken over by General 

General Aymerich dispatched columns 
of troops to the west, south-west, and 
south of that place with the object of 
cutting him off from Muni (Spanish 

On January 3 the main British 
column, together with French columns 
under Colonel Mayer, were directed 
on Ebolowa, 100 miles to the south, 
the last important post that the Ger- 
mans might hold before reaching 
Spanish territory. Another strong 
British column under Colonel Hay- 

Flight of the Germans 


wood was moved towards Widimenge, 
25 miles to the south-west, reaching 
Kolmaka. on the Njong River, on 
January 8, and releasing there some 
twenty or thirty European prisoners, 
including several French officers and 
non-commissioned officers. German 
troops, apparently, were still in pos- 
session of Akonolinga, to the east of 
Yaunde, and on January 10 General 
Aymerich dispatched a column to re- 
inforce Colonel Haywood, while the 
advanced troops of Brigadier-General 
Cunliffe from the north, who had 
reached Yaunde under Colonel Webb- 
Bo wen, were directed on Edea. 

Fighting was also reported farther 
south, close to the German-Spanish 
border, where two small French 
columns were advancing from the 
coast and from the French Congo to 
prevent the escape of the Germans 
into their last refuge on the Atlantic 
shores. The slippery Germans, how- 
ever, proved as elusive as De Wet in 
the great drives with which Lord 
Kitchener brought the South African 
War to a close. By January 18, re- 
ports were received from Colonel 
Mayer and Colonel Haywood that the 
enemy had evacuated both Ebolowa 
and Akonolinga, and that the German 
Governor and Colonel Zimmerman had 
made good their escape across the 
Spanish frontier. By February 6, 
900 German and 14,000 native troops 
were officially stated to have taken re- 
fuge in the same neutral colony, where 
the Germans were at once disarmed by 
the Spanish authorities. Subsequent 
advices showed that the number of 
German soldiers had been increased to 
2600. Not the least humiliating part 

of the evacuation for the Germans was 
the fact that the ex-Governor Ebermaier 
had to send his message (in French) 
informing the German Government of 
his retreat, through Major -General 
Dobell. His telegram, dated January 
17. 191 5. ^"^'^s to the following effect: 

" To the Minister of Colonies, Berlin. 

" Want of munitions compels me to leave 
the Protectorate and cross over into Spanish 
territory, together with all troops and staff. 
All the sick and wounded are in safety. 
The troops began to cross the frontier on 
the evening of the 4th. The first detach- 
ments reached the coast yesterday. The 
Spanish Government desires to transport 
to Fernando Po all those coming from the 
Protectorate. Negotiations on the details 
of internment are not yet completed. This 
report is written en route. 

" Ebermaier." 

It was subsequently announced that 
the Spanish Government arranged to 
transfer their uninvited guests to Spain, 
with the object of interning them at 
Cadiz until after the war, Germany 
agreeing to defray the expenses after 
the declaration of peace. In the mean- 
time the net which had been spread as 
far as possible over the Cameroons by 
the Allied columns gathered up a num- 
ber of scattered parties of the enemy, 
making many prisoners in the process, 
and receiving the surrender of numer- 
ous deserters fully armed. The last 
post to hold out was the German gar- 
rison on the isolated crest of Mora 
Mountain, in the far north, within a 
hundred miles of Lake Chad. For a 
year and a half the garrison on this 
inaccessible height has been cut off 
from the rest of the world, blockaded 


The Great World War 

on one side by a detachment of the 
French column which marched to the 
south from Fort Lamy under Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Brisset, and on the 
other side by a detachment of Nigerian 

On February i8, 1916, the Mora 
garrison capitulated, and the conquest 
of the great German colony of the 
Cameroons was at length complete, 
Mr. Bonar Law, as British Secretary 
of State for the Colonies, thereupon 
telegraphing his warm congratulations 
to Major-General Dobell, to Brigadier- 
General Cunliffe, and to all the forces 
under their respective commands. The 
Prime Minister, speaking on behalf of 
the House of Commons, had already 
acknowledged with gratitude and ad- 
miration " the extremely able measures 
which have been taken by our own 
General, General Dobell, and by the 
French General, and the magnificent 
courage and resource shown by the 
troops both of our own and of the 
French army ". To which we would 
add a similar tribute to those gallant 
Belo^ians who shared with them the 
hardships and dangers of the cam- 
paign. A detachment of these Belgian 
troops effected a junction with the 
Franco- British forces at Yaunde on 
January 28, when the flags of the three 
nations were hoisted over the fortress, 
and military honours rendered. On 
the following night the blockade of 
the Cameroon coast was completely 

Thus was brought to a triumphant 
conclusion an arduous campaign which 

in ordinary times would have been 
followed with intense and world-wide 
interest. The enormous difficulties en- 
tailed by the vast area to be covered, 
the appalling geographical features of 
the country, and the thoroughness of 
their own defensive organization had 
inspired the Germans with the con- 
fident belief that though they could 
not repel the invaders they could safely 
hold out in their various fastnesses 
until the fate of the Cameroons had 
been decided in other theatres of war. 
The early disasters at Garua and else- 
where had served to strengthen that 
belief; but from that time onward the 
campaign had turned steadily in the 
Allies' favour, the courage and tena- 
city of all the troops, and the excellent 
organization of all the operations, at 
length assuring the success of what 
Mr. Asquith described as "one of the 
most satisfactory and complete expe- 
ditions so far in the history of the 
war". In recognition of his valuable 
services in this connection Major- 
General Dobell, C.M.G., D.S.O., re- 
ceived the further honour of K.C. B. 

East Africa, where the struggle was 
still proceeding, was now the only 
colony left to Germany. The total ex- 
tent of the conquered area, including 
the Cameroons, Togoland, and South - 
West Africa, as well as Kiao Chau in 
China, and the German islands in the 
Pacific, was officially estimated in 
March, 19 1 6, in round figures, at 
751,000 square miles. 

F. A. M. 

Reorganizing the Eastern Front 



OF 1915-16 

Meisagowla and the Last Stand of the Russians in 191 5 — Reorganizing the Line — Limits of the German 
Advance — The Three Sectors of the Line: Riga, Pinsk, Galicia — General Ivanoff and the Sectors south 
of the Pripet — The Russian Winter Operations — The Gahcian Advance in December-January — Hinden- 
burg's Position — Defence of Riga — The Russian Opening of the 1916 Campaign South of Dvinsk. 

MEISAGOWLA, a name little 
heard or repeated in Eng- 
land before 191 5, is the 
village and the battle which marked 
the turn of the tide in the German 
campaign against Russia in 191 5. It 
was here that General Everts, com- 
manding the middle group of the 
Russian armies, sent his reserves for- 
ward to hold up the last and biggest 
thrust of Von Hindenburg which was 
to smash through the apex of the 
Vilna salient while cavalry outflaaked 
them. The attack was entrusted by 
Marshal von Hindenburg to General 
Eichorn; and the struggle at Meisa- 
gowla, which lasted ten days and on 
which turned the fate of half a million 
Russians within the salient, was one 
of the most desperate of this bloody 
war. General Ruzsky had sent two 
Divisions of the Russian Guard from 
Petrograd to stiffen the front at Meisa- 
gowla, and these bore the brunt of 
the German onset. It was only when 
they were broken that Everts ordered 
a retirement, and by that time the 
retreat of the main Russian army was 
secured, for he was able to march it 
out of danger, corps after corps, through 
a protecting corridor of troops between 
the Vilia River and the railway from 

Vilna to Lida. After the Germans 
had battered their way through at 
Meisagowla at very severe loss to 
themselves, it was five more days 
before they reached Vilna. The 
battle had lasted from September 2 
to September 1 2 ; the retreat of the 
Divisions of the Russian Guard never 
became a rout, and when the Ger- 
mans entered Vilna the town, which 
is the capital of Lithuania, had been 

The Germans o;ot no farther. Von 
Hindenburg had sent Scholtz to make 
a dash for Lida, and he oot there two 
days after Eichorn had reached Vilna. 
but he caught no retreating- Russians, 
for they were not going his way; and 
Eichorn found the roads to Minsk 
blocked by fresh troops. Farther 
south Prince Leopold of Bavaria's 
armies reached the railway junction 
of Baranovitche on September 28 
and halted there. Marshal von Mac- 
kensen, after pushing into the discon- 
certing maze of the Pripet Marshes, 
withdrew his forces behind the Oginski 
Canal, and entrenched them about 
Pinsk. His command passed into the 
hands of Linsingen; and Mackensen 
went on to organize the Serbian drive 
in concert with the armies of Bulgaria. 


The Great World War 

His departure marked even more de- 
finitively than the counter-attack by 
Evens on Eichorn and on the German 
cavalry at Smorgon the abandonment, 
voluntary or involuntary, on the part 
of the German Higher Command of 
the attempt to go farther. The Rus- 
sians were receivino- at the end of 
September reinforcements and am- 

and on the Western front; and the 
Germans were right in assuming that 
no offensive action on the part of the 
Russians could assume enough impor- 
tance to interfere with either of these 
projects. It is not so certain that they 
were right in their estimate of the task 
of holding the Russians tight along 
that long line which comprised the 

Reinforcements for the Army of the Tsar: Russian troops mustering in Siberia 

munition; the Germans, if no "de- 
cision" in the strict military sense had 
been reached, had at any rate removed 
for a period which must last through 
the winter and the spring, the possi- 
bility of a Russian advance of any 
weight. They were safe then in dig- 
oino" themselves in, and in treatinof the 
Russian front from the Baltic to the 
Bukovina as one which could be held 
by comparatively reduced numbers 
while their efforts were concentrated 
elsewhere. These efforts were, in fact, 
made successively on the Serbian front 

Riga-Dvinsk section, the unhealthy 
Pripet section, and the section from 
the Pripet to the Dniester wherein 
the Russians had never been severely 
handled. In two out of the three 
sectors it is fair to assume that the 
wearing -down process by irregular 
fighting and by the severities of winter 
cut down the German forces faster 
than the Russian. 

The sector from the Pripet down to 
the Dniester remained under the com- 
mand of General Ivanoff through the 
winter till April, 191 6, when he re- 

General Ivanoff's Operations 


signed for reasons of health which 
were probably more real than such 
reasons sometimes are, and handed 
over the command to General Brussiloff 
Ivanoff pertinaciously harassed Lin- 
singen, whose troops, mixed Austrian 
and German, were not so good as 
those of the Hindenburg group, and 
after a success at Trembovla in the 
middle of September pushed on 
towards the River Strypa. Here, on 
October ii, he hit the Austrian com- 
mander, General Bothmer, hard at 
Hajvorowka, and drove him across 
the river with the loss of many pris- 
oners. He had previously sent a fly- 
ino- column on the heels of the more 
northerly German army falling back 
out of the Pripet region, and had 
temporarily occupied Lutzk or Luck, a 
valuable and well-fortified bridorehead. 
This, however, he could not hold in 
the face of strong German reinforce- 
ments, and his column fell back on 
its main body, which remained in 
possession of all the strip of Galicia 
east of the Strypa. 

DurinQ- the earlier winter months 
the greater part of the Russian activity 
was on this part of their front. The 
forces in the Riga district maintained 
a condition of hard-won equilibrium 
with those of Hindenburg. Those in 
the middle sector had less difficulty 
in remaining on an equality with the 
German forces, because the Pripet 
Marshes gave no opportunity of an 
advance in strength on either side, 
and lent a slight superiority to those 
who, like the Russians, were better 
acquainted with the local conditions, 
and could turn to better account their 
adaptability to guerrilla warfare. The 

marshes are frozen entirely in very 
unusual winters only; in that of 19 15- 
16 they remained partially or lightly 
frozen so as never to be available for 
the passage of large bodies of troops 
or artillery. The Russians organized 
miniature flying columns of men, 
volunteers for the most part, who 

Map illustrating General Ivanoff's operations south of 
the Pripet Marshes and in Galicia 

harassed and raided at every con- 
venient opportunity. Their exploits 
seldom appeared in dispatches, though 
one notable occasion, when they raided 
the temporary head-quarters of a Ger- 
man force and succeeded in capturing 
the commander and part of his Staff, 
was recorded ; they did a great deal 
to render the German positions un- 
comfortable, if uncomfortable is strong 
enouofh a word. Farther south, Gene- 


The Great World War 

ral I vanoff's forces maintained through- 
out an initiative which had never been 
entirely lost to them, even in the pain- 
ful retreat from the Carpathians and 
the Dniester. 

From the Pripet Marshes to the 
Roumanian frontier the irregular front 
controlled by I vanoff's armies was 
250 miles long. It may conveniently 
be considered as havinor been divided 
into three zones. The most northerly 
was that stretching from the Pripet 
down to the watershed of hills which 
divides that river from the rivers flow- 
ing- south into the Dniester. 

The second included these tribu- 
taries, of which the most important 
was the Strypa. In this zone are 
Tarnopol, a junction on the railway 
to Odessa; Trembovla, on a branch 
line running south; Brzezany and 
Bucacz, also railway stations, and the 
second of them on the Strypa; and 
Usciezka, which was a very important 
bridgehead on the Dniester held by 
the Austrians. 

The third or Bessarabian sector was 
in the ground which the Russians held 
in that part of the Bukovina which 
lay between the Dniester and the 
Roumanian frontier. The ostensible 
point at which the Russian forces 
concentrated here were aiming was 
Czernowitz: the strategic object was 
to extend their line to the Roumanian 

Against the armies of Ivanoff were 
Austrians, who were stiffened by Ger- 
mans as soon as these could be spared 
from the Serbian expedition. The 
principal German contingents were in 
the most northerly part of the triple 
sector. The Archduke Ferdinand held 

the lateral railway which runs east to 
west on the south of the Pripet Marshes, 
cutting the rivers Goryn and Styr in 
succession at Sarny and at Khriask, 
which is just north of Chartorysk; and 
then going on through the town of 
Kovel. This was a very important 
stretch of line to keep. South of this 
Generals Puhallo and Boehm-Ermolli 
were entrenched with the ist and 2nd 
Austrian armies on the Styr guarding 
Lutzk. General Bothmer held all the 
line of the Strypa through Bucacz. 
Finally, General Pflanzer with the 6th 
Austrian army was responsible for 
holding the Dniester and the Bukovina 

It was here that the Russian com- 
mander launched a determined attack 
just after Christmas of 191 5. The 
fighting continued through the New 
Year till the end of the first week in 
January. It was specially fierce at 
Taporontz, or Toporovce, and the 
Russians made considerable gains of 
ground in fighting their way towards 
the heights covering Czernowitz on 
January 2 and January 4. Fighting 
went on at intervals during January, 
and was renewed during February. 

At the same time that the move- 
ment towards Czernowitz was made, a 
Russian column advanced in the most 
northerly section of General I vanoff's 
te7'rain along the Sarny- Kovel rail- 
way. It drove in the extreme nor- 
thern outposts across the Styr, and 
seized the village of Khriask {Janu- 
ary I ) on the west bank. A few days 
later the Russians stormed the village 
of Chartorysk, and held it against all 
the counter-attacks launched to deprive 
them of it. They had thus possessed 

The Movement towards Czernowitz 

What a Gas Attack looks like from the Air: view over the German trenches from a Russian aeroplnne 

on tlio liastern Front 

riie clouds of poisonous gas are issuing from ilie cylinders in the German front line, and blowing towards the Russian trenches. 
In the background are three lines of German infantry — the sun throwing their shadows in front — waiting to charge when the gas 
fumes have done their work. 

themselv^es of a considerable stretch of 
bridgeheads on the Styr, and were in 
a position to threaten Kovel. In the 
zone below this, that of the Strypa, 
the Russians were equally successful. 
They cleared the whole of the river's 
eastern bank of Austrian troops down 
to its junction with the Dniester except 
at Bucacz, where the enemy continued 
to hold a strong- bridgehead. This 
clearance had the effect of interrupt- 

ing railway communications between 
Bucacz and Czernowitz. To the south 
and west of the point where the Strypa 
falls into the Dniester the powerfully- 
fortified bridgeheads of Usciezka 
and Zaleczyki remained in Austrian 
hands till late in the spring. A fierce 
attack was made by the Russians on ' 
Usciezka in January, and they ap- 
peared to be in complete possession of 
it; though an Austrian comiimniqud^ ^^ 

179-180 -\^ 

in \ 




The Great World War 

The Supreme Commander of the Russian Army : the 
Tsar following the operations of his troops, with an obser- 
vation officer on his right 

reported that it had been recaptured. 
It was not of much use to either side; 
and eventually, in March, 191 6, the 
Russians, having blown up 300 yards 
of Austrian entrenchments higher up 
the Dniester, succeeded in establishing 
a bridgehead which for practical pur- 
poses rendered the Austrian tenure 
of Usciezka valueless. The position 
gained by the Russians was at 
Michalze, which the Austrians had 
converted into something approaching 
a fortress. The Austrian comimcniqiie 
gave a highly-coloured account of the 
way in which Austrian troops, being 
blown up here, cut their way through 
the Russian lines to Usciezka; but it 
does not seem likely that this account 
bore much relation to the truth, or 
that many of the Austrian garrison 

On the Riga front, where Generals 

Everts and Ruzsky faced Marshal Hin- 
denburg, the task of the Russians was 
not that of offence, but of so securing 
their positions as to neutralize the of- 
fensive which the Germans continually 
threatened to undertake in the spring, 
and in the translation of which into 
fact some of the best Russian military 
critics certainly believed. In the au- 
tumn the German pressure on Riga 
had subsided with the failure of the 
naval attack in the Gulf of Riga, be- 
cause the first necessity of a success 
without great loss was that the Ger- 
man left flank should be protected and 
supported from the sea. Failing that 
support, an attack from the west on 
the Riga defences and on those of the 
Dvina, at the mouth of which the port 
is situated, offers some serious prob- 
lems to the most determined assailant. 
The position may be roughly figured 
as follows. Turn the left hand palm 
downwards on the page, so that the 
thumb and the forefinger, stretched 
wide apart, both point to the bottom 
of the page, the thumb to the south- 
west, the forefinger to the south-east. 
Rioa will be at the fork of the thumb, 
with the Gulf to the north of it. The 
thumb will be the River Aa, which, in 
fact, after running nearly west, with 
Lake Babit parallel to it, along the 
coast of the Gulf, crooks round to the 
south, and loses itself in small tribu- 
taries among forests to the east. In 
the wide corner space between the 
thumb and the forefinger, between the 
Aa and the Dvina, is the Tiral Marsh, 
a very stiff proposition for troops, and 
a still stiffer one for artillery. The 
marsh runs almost to the forefinger of 
the Dvina at Dahlen Island, and there 

Hindenburg's Road to Riga 


are woods farther south-east at Borko- 
witz, Lennewaden, and Linden. The 
main railway from Riga to Dvinsk 
follows the Dvina. The other rail- 
ways from Riga run westwards to 
Tukkum and south-westwards to 
Mitau. There is, of course, also the 
railway north-eastwards to Petrograd. 
Now the coast railway between the 
Aa and the Gulf being barred to Hin- 
denburg, what was he to do? Evi- 
dently he must strike at Riga from 
the south-east, from Mitau, or from 
some point farther south. 

Up to the end of October, 191 5, 
Hindenburg had a firm hold on both 
banks of the Aa from Mitau as far as 
Schlock, which is also on the Riga- 
Tukkum railway, near the Gulf shore. 
His line continued bent back to Lake 
Kangen, which is also near the Gulf 

But during the first week of November 
General Ruzsky, with the help of the 
fire of Russian warships from the Gulf, 
pushed back this line till he had got 
the Germans out of Schlock and the 
station of Kemmen, next along the 
railway line to the west. He also 
loosened Hindenburg's hold on all that 
part of the Aa which mattered, and 
made any prospect of a German ad- 
vance along the coast road extremely 
remote. The Russians at the end of 
the month were holdino- a strong line 
across the hollow between the thumb 
and the knuckle of the forefinger. 
Hindenburor could not therefore eet 
at Riga except below the knuckle. 

His first attempts, rather spasmodic, 
were made to cross the Dvina at 
Dahlen Island, and still higher up the 
river at Friedrichstadt, but these met 


The Tsar on the Russian Front: His Majesty addressing some of liis officers 


The Great World War 

with no success, and by the beginning: season in this reoion. The Russian 
of December, 1915, he had parted attack, which was made at a number 
with any prospect of wintering at Riga, of points along a 70-mile front from 
The appearance of activity was never Dvinsk to Lake Narotch, through the 
lost, and few days passed without en- towns of Vidzy and Postavy, began 
counter; but the first movement of on March 19, 1916. Its objects were 
importance came from the Russian twofold: the chief of them to render 

useless the German 
preparations to strike 
at Dvinsk on the 
Dvinsk-Rigaline; the 
secondary one to reach 
the railway junction 
of Svientsiany it pos- 
sible, because here the 
Germans had accu- 
mulated large stores 
of supplies. 

The little town of 
Postavy was the Rus- 
sian pivot of opera- 
tions. It is on the 
railway which runs 
eastwards from Svi- 
entsiany. Through 
Svientsiany also runs 
the north -and -south 
main Petrograd rail- 
way, which joins 
Vilna to Dvinsk, while 
another branch runs 
to Poniewitz on the 
west. If the Ger- 
side in the short period when the days mans were intent on pursuing their 
were lengthening, but the spring floods advertised attack on the Riga section 
had not yet come to convert the land it was clear to General Everts that 
into knee-deep mud. The Russian they were very likely to make their 
attack was made by General Everts thrust not directly at Riga, but at 
on the lake region south of Dvinsk; Dvinsk. Dvinsk in the autumn had 
but the Germans, as was their praise- proved too hard a nut for the Germans 
worthy military custom, endeavoured to crack, and the task could not be 
to anticipate it by making what may compassed without railways for am- 
be called the first infantry attack of the munition. They had the two lines 

Hindenburg's Winter Campaign of 1915-16: map illustrating the Russian 
operations about Riga and the Lake District south of Dvinsk 

Opening the 1916 Campaign 


With the Russians on the Eastern Front: a cavalry column on the road 

which have been mentioned, the one 
coming up from Vihia, the other from 
Libau through Ponievvitz, and the two 
connected by a branch line through 
Svientsiany. But the Libau Hne, 
among other disadvantages, reached 
the Dvinsk defences at Illutsk, whence 
it runs close to the Dvina, under fire 
from the right or eastern bank of the 
river. It would supply a local attack, 
but not the big, amply-munitioned at- 
tack essential for success. The Vilna 
line was therefore of vital importance 
to the Germans, and the Russians were 
determined to deprive them of its ad- 
vantages if they could; and it was for 
this reason that they attacked the Ger- 
man entrenchments, seekinq- to find a 

way through them either north or south 
of Postavy, though the chief attack 
was directed from the south. The 
attacks only lasted for about a week, 
and the Germans triumphantly re- 
ported that all had been repelled with 
"enormous losses" to the Russians. 
It is certain that there was a oreat deal 
of hard fiqhtino-, with an interchano'e 
ot local successes; but the Russians 
appeared amply satisfied with the re- 
sults, and this first bleedinof of their 
new^ formations, joined to the fact that 
they were well supplied with ammuni- 
tion, was the best auourv of their 
ability to take the offensive when the 
later months of 1916 gave the oppor- 
tunitv for it. 

E. S. G. 


The Great World War 



(September, 1915-January, 19 16) 

The Champagne Battle-fields — Early Struggles in the Great War — The German "Wall of Steel" — 
General de Castelnau's Objective — French Hopes — Secret Army Orders — -General Joffre's Last Words — 
Opening of the Battle — Marchand and his Gallant Colonials — Elaborate German Defences— Keys of the 
Position — Effects of the French Bombardment — Brilliant Gains on the Opening Day — Checks which 
prevented a Decisive Victory — Attack and Counter-attack — Total Gains — King George's Congratulations 
— Messages from President Poincare and the French Minister of War — Consolidating the New French 
Line — Germany's Great Counter-attack — Its Limited Success — Winter Campaign on the Rest of the 
French Front — Belgian Operations — The Struggle in Alsace — German Preparations for the Grand 
Assault on Verdun — Attempt to Break Through in Champagne — Some Feints and Minor Successes. 

EVER since the Battle of the 
Marne in September, 19 14, 
the rolling- plains of Cham- 
pagne between Rheims and the Ar- 
gonne Forest had been the main 
battle-field of the Allies' line in France, 
just as Ypres, up to the September 
offensive of 19 15, had been the storm- 
centre in Flanders. Before the Great 
War had revolutionized tactics these 
chalky downs, with their possibilities 
of concealment in the copses of pine 
trees planted by Napoleon III, and 
their grand opportunities for cavalry 
manoeuvres, were marked out as an 
ideal country for a decisive battle on 
classic lines, and both sides now fought 
foot by foot for an opening. But in- 
stead of the classic battle, they had 
perforce to struggle for every inch of 
ground across two great fortress lines, 
stretchinor from end to end, remindino- 
our Allies of nothing so much as the 
last great siege undertaken by French 
troops — that of Sebastopol in 1855. 

Instead of the irresistible sweep of 
infantry in the open, and the dashing- 
cavalry charge, it had become a mur- 

derous war of explosives, of mining 
and burrowing" underground, and of 
bayonet work in the trenches. Sooner 
or later the Germans knew that the 
French would attempt a tremendous 
lunge forward at this front, where the 
army of General Langle de Gary was 
none too securely placed under the 
ceaseless pressure of the enemy's 
centre. The whole region, too, was 
sacred ground to Frenchmen. It 
held memories of disaster in the last 
Franco- Prussian War, but it also em- 
braced the historic village of Valmy, 
the scene of one of the decisive battles 
of the world and the first triumph of 
the republican arms, when, on Sep- 
tember 20, 1792, the . Prussians and 
Austrians were forced to retreat before 
the army of the Revolution. Only a 
few miles to the west of Valmy were 
the ancient earthworks of the Canipi 
Catalaunici, the scene of another con- 
flict included in Sir Edward Creasy's 
Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World 
— the crushing defeat of Attila and 
his Huns by the Romans and the 
allied Franks and Visigoths in 451. 

The French Bombardment 


What more appropriate region could 
have been chosen for France's main 
attack against the modern Huns on 
September 25, 191 5? 

The chalky soil was drenched with 
the blood of both sides as attack and 
counter-attack succeeded one another 
at intervals in the early months of 

down for months into a war of en- 
gineers, both sides converting the 
whole battle-field into an immense 
labyrinth of earthworks, with line 
upon line of intersected trenches, re- 
volving steel cupolas, miniature for- 
tresses, and every other defence known 
to modern military science. 

French Official Photograph 

A Miniature Fortress in the German Line: one of the revolving steel gun-turrets in the trenches 
captured by the French in Champagne 

The French artillery-fire had blown this section of the trench to pieces, exposing practically the wliole of the turret in its pit. 

191 5, culminating in the preliminary 
offensive which, as already described, 
carried the French lines to Souain 
and above the sanguinary front of 
Perthes - Beausejour. The moral of 
these hard-won successes was not lost 
on the invaders, who set feverishly to 
work to strengthen their defences all 
along the line. The struggle settled 

As along the British front in 191 5, 
the French troops waited through the 
dreary months of siege warfare with 
increasing" impatience for the hour to 
sound which was to carry the fight 
once more into the open. The sum- 
mer slipped away without the expected 
onslaught, and the Germans, more 
and more arro^rant and confident be- 

The Great World War 

hind their boasted "wall of steel", 
sent jeering messages inviting their 
opponents to Germany. They ceased 
their taunts as the guns, like the roll- 
ing of mighty drums along the whole 
Allied front, from the North Sea to 
the Swiss frontier, at length heralded 
the battle's approach. None welcomed 
the signal with keener joy than the 
patriotic /(j^?///, whose ardent spirit was 
entirely out of tune with the long sus- 
pense in the trenches. For a whole 
week preceding the fateful 25th, the 
thunder of the guns never ceased. 
German accounts likened the final 
bombardment to a volcanic eruption, 
shaking the land to its foundations, 
and pouring death and destruction on 
their trenches until their first-line de- 
fences were mangled beyond recog- 

This was true enough up to a point, 
but even the myriads of shells poured 
from French guns of every calibre, 
including the new super - howitzers 
which the French engineers had 
strained every nerve to produce in 
time for the purpose, could not wholly 
destroy all the vital positions along a 
front extending over 1 5^ miles, from 
Auberive on the left to Ville-sur- 
Tourbe on the right, bordering the 
Argonne Forest. General de Castel- 
nau is reported to have demanded of 
the artillery such a destructive bom- 
bardment as would enable the infantry 
to advance shouldering their rifles. 
This may have been his expectation 
at the vital points selected for the 
main thrusts, but his plans allowed 
for the resistance of the Germans at 
each of their dominatino- fortresses, 
where experience had proved that 

frontal attacks were suicidal, no matter 
how fiercely the guns had prepared 
the way. Here, as elsewhere along 
the Western front, the enemy had 
shown how formidable these bastions 
could be; how murderously they could 
hold up a victorious advance of the 
Allies, even when their line on either 
flank had crumpled up. General de 
Castelnau's scheme was to aim first 
at the lines .of least resistance, and 
having carried these by storm, to 
attack each centre of defence by a 
double flank attack from the rear, 
gripping it as in a vice until it sur- 
rendered, or was entirely crushed. 

His immediate objective on Sep- 
tember 25, 191 5, was the Bazancourt- 
Ghallerange Railway, the enemy's main 
line of supply, running, like the Lens- 
La Bassee railway on the battle-field 
of Loos, behind the German position, 
and connected with light field railways 
feeding every sector of the front. The 
poi/it, however, as well as the higher 
French Command, hoped for far greater 
ultimate success than this. No soldier 
in the world takes a more intelligent 
interest than the French poilu in any 
action in which he is engaged. He 
has always fought better, as General 
Joffre said in an intercepted Army 
Order, when knowino- what he is fioht- 
ing for. Napoleon once complained 
that his men wanted to know every- 
thing. General Joffre recognized the 
soldiers' rights in this respect in the 
stirring words of his last Order of the 
Day before the attack of September 25, 
as well as in the secret Army Order 
referred to in an earlier chapter on the 
Great Offensive in Artois, in which 
officers of all orades were instructed 

Battle Orders 


to explain to their men the favourable 
conditions existing for driving the Ger- 
mans out of France, and so raise their 
courage to the height of the sacrifice 
required of them. 

Whether this intercepted order — 
issued after the battle as a German 
Official wireless report— was genuine 
or not the Germans were determined 
not to be outdone in moral preparation 
for the approaching struggle. It needed 
no secret order to tell the foe that the 
long, unparalleled bombardment of his 
trenches from end to end foreshadovv-ed 
a stupendous effort on the Allies' part 
to break rioht through the German line. 
When, by publishing Joffre's inter- 
cepted Orders, the Berlin wireless 
souoht to minimize the results achieved, 
the French, after breaking down no in- 
considerable part of the "wall of steel", 
retaliated by revealing" the Order ad- 
dressed to his troops on September 22 
by General von Fleck, commanding 
the Rhenish Corps in Champagne: 

'■^ Armeegruppe Fleck I. A., Nr. 218^^, 
A nueegruppen-Befelil. 

" Comrades, — Let us swear in this solemn 
hour that each one of us, no matter where 
he may be, whether in the trendies or in 
the batteries or in positions of command 
no matter where, that he will do his duty 
there and fight to the bitter end. Wherever 
the enemy may hurl himself to the assault 
we will receive him with a well-directed fire, 
and if he reaches our positions we will throw 
him back at the point of the bayonet and 
pelt him with hand-grenades. If we have 
the determination to act in this manner and 
if we are determined to face death, ever\- 
enemy attack will be broken by us, and the 
country may confidently look on this wall 
of steel constituted b\' her sons." 

It was not without reason that the 

Germans prided themselves on this 
formidable wall, upon which they had 
lavished their military genius ever 
since they had fallen back with the 
turn of the tide on the Marne. It 
was estimated that in this I5i-mile 
sector of the Champagne line, on an 
average depth of 2^ miles, their en- 
gineers had completed by September, 
19 1 5, something like 400 miles of en- 
trenchments, all deeply excavated, con- 
nected byan elaborate system of defence 
works, and bristling with machine- 
guns and other weapons of defence. 
Other fortified lines lay between the 
front positions and Vouziers, the Ger- 
man head-quarters in Champagne, 
which General von Kluck vowed, if 
he could not capture Paris, should 
never be taken by the French. Vou- 
ziers was a strategical prize for the 
possession of which it was worth mak- 
ing heavy sacrifices. It would press 
back the Germans to the other side 
of the Aisne, and isolate the Crown 
Prince's Army in the Argonne. Hopes 
therefore ran high when the French 
Generalissimo's special Army Order 
was read to the waiting troops, and 
an extra ration of wine served all 
round, on the eve of the battle: 

" The offensive is to be pursued without 
truce and without respite. Remember the 
Marne. Conquer or die!" 

Dawn on the field of Champagne 
on that memorable September 25, as 
on the Allies' front in Artois, where 
the British were alre:-idy gassing the 
Germans at Foos, broke damp and 
misty, with promise of heavy rain as 
the day wore on. At nine o'clock it 
was raining hard, but nothing could 


The Great World War 

quench the ardour of the French in- 
fantry as they Hstened to the officers' 
final words of instruction. A quarter 
of an hour later the order was given 
for the general assault along the whole 
15-l^-mile front, while the artillery lifted 
its fire to the German rear, playing 
havoc, in co-operation with a fleet of 
aeroplanes, with the railway line, com- 
munication trenches, and other German 
defence works. 

Amid the smoke and mist of the 
rain-sodden battle-field it was difficult 
to follow the successive waves of in- 
domitable troops, in their invisible blue 
uniforms, their heads protected by their 
blue steel casques, as they charged 
across the open with the Marseillaise 
battle-cry, "To Victory or Death!" 
Among the first went the dashing- 
Colonial Division from the wooded 
saucer of the downs in which lies the 
villaofe of Souain, dominated about 
2 miles away by the hillock of Nava- 
rin Farm. The Colonials were led by 
their redoubtable commander, General 
Marchand, of Fashoda fame — then 
Lord Kitchener's foe, now his friend — 
and accompanied in the initial attack 
by the Moroccan division and a bri- 
gade each of Zouaves and the Foreigrn 
Legion. The Colonials' objective 
was the fortified Navarin Farm, pro- 
tected by intact entrenchments and 
machine-guns which had escaped the 
havoc of the bombardment, and whose 
decimating fire now swept all the No 
Man's Land in front. The assaulting 
troops swerved to left and right, but 
the decimated centre was still struo- 
gling vainly when Marchand, cane in 
hand and pipe in mouth, coolly took 
his place in front like a simple com- 

pany commander, and charged at the 
head of his men. In a few minutes 
he had fallen, severely wounded with 
a fragment of shell; but his heroic 
sacrifice had not been made in vain. 
Fired by his example, and burning to 
avenge a leader whom they adored, 
his troops swept on with an irresist- 
ible force which carried one German 
position after another, until, within an 
hour, the Navarin Farm was in their 
possession. Here, however, their pro- 
gress was checked by the enemy's 
defences in the Bois Sabot, on the 
right of the farm, which bloodily 
repulsed repeated attacks, and forced 
the French at this point to consolidate 
the positions won, 

Navarin Farm was the key of but 
one of a whole series of complete 
centres of defence along these 15^ 
miles of massed entrenchments and 
redoubts. On the left was the Epine 
de Vedegrange, just east of Auberive, 
where the woods and rising ground 
afforded every opportunity to the 
German engineers and artillery to 
render the position unconquerable. 
On the right of Navarin Farm, past 
Souain Butte and Tree Hill — both 
stronoholds of tremendous strenoth 
- — was the Butte de Tahure, com- 
manding the village of Tahure and 
some three miles above the scene of 
the furious fighting early in the year 
for the o-round round Perthes, the 
whole of which was now seamed with 
trenches and protected by fortified 
woods which had their centre of resist- 
ance in the Trou Bricot, not inaptly 
named the Hollow of Death, To the 
riofht of Perthes stood another main 
buttress of the German defence, the 

The Main German Defences 


The Battle-fields of Champagne: map showing approximately the French line between Rheims and the 
Argonne Forest before the great offensive of September, 1915 

Butte de Mesnil, where intact wire 
and concealed machine-o-uns oruarded 
an immense glacis presenting five suc- 
cessive lines of trenches along a steep 
slope of 400 feet. This, as will be seen, 
proved the hardest nut of all to crack 
on that September 25. To the right 
again, past what was once the peaceful 
farm and hamlet of Beausejour — now, 
like Hooge and so many other storm 
centres on the Western front, a scene 
of utter ruin and abomination — stood 
the most formidable position of all, the 
plateau and extended hills known as the 
Mainde Massiges. The plateau was the 
[lalm of the hand and the outstretched 
hills the fingers; and so sure were the 

Germans of their strength at this point 
that they were wont to boast that it 
only needed two machine-guns and 
two washerwomen to hold it. 

Such were the main defences of the 
Germans' steel wall in Champagne. 
We have seen how Marchand's men 
broke clean through two miles of it as 
far as the Navarin Farm. On their 
left, where deadly woods and a more 
elaborate network of trenches added to 
the difficulties confronting the French 
troops, progress was not so rapid. 
On the extreme left, indeed, as in the 
Battle of Loos, where Sir Douglas 
Haig's troops between the Hohen- 
zollern and the Canal were sacrificed 


The Great World War 

Drawn by Georges Scott 

Honour to the Rrave: the colonials' salute on the removal from the battle-field of Champagne of their 

wounded leader, General Marchand 

in vain a few hours earlier on the 
same Saturday morning, the assailants 
made practically no advance. On the 
right, below the Epine de Vedegrange, 
however, they carried four lines of 
trenches in succession, advancing from 
one to one and a half miles until their 
line linked up with the Colonials' left. 
Nearly looo prisoners were captured 
in this sector, and a number of o-uns. 

It was in the centre, from Navarin 
Farm to the Butte de Tahure, that 
the best progress was made on the 
25th. On the right of Marchand's 
Colonials the native African troops 
found that the bombardment had done 
its work thoroughly, and the dazed de- 
fenders were too demoralized to offer 
much serious resistance. At one point 
the Africans took 2000 prisoners, and 
added 1 1 guns, a light field railway, 
and much munitions and supplies to 

their spoils. Farther east the Savoy 
and Dauphiny battalions, advancing 
from Perthes — first encircling and 
then carrying in triumph the Bricot 
"Pi olio w of Death" — crossed the road 
from Souain to Tahure, and dug them- 
selves in on the slopes of Hill 193 and 
the Tahure ridge, having completed by 
the afternoon an advance of two and 
a half miles. This was the greatest 
gain recorded that day. For a time 
it seemed as thouoh nothino- could 
stop these impetuous Frenchmen, 
carrying all before them as they broke 
in successive waves over the battered 
entrenchments, capturing prisoners by 
the hundred, guns by the score, and 
giving, for one brief glorious interval, 
an opportunity for a few of the cavalry 
to gallop into action. Two regiments 
of hussars, lured by the hope that 
their chance had come at last, followed 

A Great Haul 


up the infantry success by a change 
which had for its objective the enemy's 
batteries north of the Maisons de 
Champaone. Here, however, the Ger- 
mans on the right were holding out 
with grim determination, and caught 
the cavahy with a withering fire from 
their machine-guns. At once dis- 
mounting, the hussars rushed on foot 
to the help of the infantry, and joined 
forces with them in an attack wliich 
led to the capture ot some 600 

The greatest haul was made in the 
defence works of the Bricot Hollow, 
where the garrison remained so sure 
of the impregnability of the front line 
that several of its officers were found 
in their underground beds when the 
victorious assailants swept it into their 

net by a sudden attack in the rear, as 
well as upon both Hanks. Africans and 
Bretons had a share in this astonish- 
ing coup, which resulted in the capture 
of thousands of prisoners and many 

"Our soldiers were out to win," to quote 
from one of the French official account.s of 
the battle, " and had imposed their ascend- 
anc)' upon the eneni}'. The delight of being 
in open countrx' again, and of realizing that 
a great German stronghold was crumbling 
beneath them, spurred them on to greater 
efforts, and our generals transferred their 
ad winced posts to the shelter of the cap- 
tured entrenchments with indescribable 


To the right, however, the line of 
advance was bent sharply back until 
it left a .salient surroundino- the villa<>e 

The Aimonred Man and the Armoured Trench: ii i .^i ^ ... ..-..!. 

one of the shattered German trenches in the Sabot Wood, ("hampaijne 

French OBicial PhotogT.iph 

^.r new steel helmets, entering 


The Great World War 

of Tahure, defended by the Butte de 
Mesnil, which, with its awful glacis 
and network of underground defences, 
resisted every attempt to conquer it, 
like the vital works of the Hohenzol- 
lern Redoubt on the British front. At 
the Butte de Mesnil the strength of 
the position was increased by the steep- 
ness of the approach. The French 
had hoped to reduce it by sweeping 
round its flanks and attacking it simul- 
taneously on all sides; but its flank 
defences defeated every attempt of the 
kind during the battle of September 25 
and succeeding days. It fell at last 
on October 6, when the village of 
Tahure and the heights to the north 
of it were also carried, thus straight- 
enino- out the new French line. 

East of the Butte de Mesnil, and 
dominating the extreme right of the 
battle-field, the most imposing of all 
the German buttresses, the fearsome 
Main de Massiges, was stormed on Sep- 
tember 25 with a brilliant charge and 
bombingf attack which orave the French 
troops — another Colonial Division — 
possession of the plateau forming the 
palm of the hand. They had cleverly 
avoided the valleys between the pro- 
tecting spurs, or fingers, and having 
won a foothold on the plateau, pro- 
ceeded to fight for the remainder, foot 
by foot and trench by trench, until at 
length, after days and nights of cease- 
less combat, the whole fortress finally 

The double check at the Main and 
the Butte de Mesnil had, unfortu- 
nately, robbed the troops in the centre 
of the promise of a decisive victory. 
Thrust through the chink in the armour 
between these two great strongholds, 

the French centre had burst through 
the shattered trenches of the front line 
and carried position after position in 
a glorious advance which, like that of 
the Highlanders at Loos, was destined 
to be driven back for lack of support. 
The leading detachments, pouring- past 
the farm of the Maisons de Cham- 
pagne, captured the heights command- 
ing Ripont and the valley of the Dor- 
moise. With adequate reinforcements 
they might have won the road to Vou- 
ziers, and carried the tide of victory 
along until it had achieved all that 
Joffre and de Castelnau in their most 
sanguine moments had dared to hope 
from it. Reinforcements, however, 
could not be sent while the Main de 
Massiges and the Butte de Mesnil 
were still holding out, and the battle 
was raging fiercely all along the line. 
The Germans had time not only to 
organize a counter-attack from Ripont 
before the French could pursue their 
threatening advantage at this point, 
but also to push the advanced troops 

The greater victory was denied our 
Allies on September 25, but enough 
had been accomplished to show that 
the steel wall upon which the foe so 
boastfully prided himself was not so 
invulnerable as he supposed. That 
day the French had succeeded in pene- 
trating the whole 15^ miles to a depth 
officially estimated at from f to 2^ 
miles; 12,000 prisoners had already 
been counted, and many heavy field- 
and machine-guns had been captured. 
In places the enemy, whose moral had 
been badly shaken by the staggering 
bombardment, surrendered in groups, 
raising their hands above their heads 

Some Results of the Battle 


and calling- out, " Kamarad ! Kamarad ! " 
Elsewhere, with undeniable courage, 
they fought to the last. At certain 
points their dead bodies literally filled 
the trenches, so that, as the official 
account bore witness, " one had to walk 
over them exposed to the enemy's fire". 
All night long, and for days and 
nights to follow, the conflict ra^ed in- 
cessantly, until practically the whole 
of the German first line had passed 
into de Castelnau's hands, and the 
doooed struoorle was resumed in front 
of the second line. By the end of the 
month, when the great battle began 
to wear itself out, the total number of 
prisoners reached over 23,000, and the 
number of guns brought to the rear 
amounted to 79. The total German 
losses were estimated by the French 
General Staff, from the best available 
information, at 140,000 officers and 
men, including killed, wounded, and 

captured. Needless to say, these losses 
were vastly increased before the at- 
tacks and counter-attacks of theautumn 
offensive finally gave place to the old, 
hideous routine of siege warfare. 

It was at this point that King George 
addressed the following telegram to 
President Poincar^: — 

" Having followed with admiration the 
magnificent deeds of the French army I 
take this opportunity, M. le President, to 
congratulate you, as well as General Joffre 
and the entire French nation, on the great 
success won by the valiant French troops 
since the beginning of our common offen- 

To this M. Poincare replied as 
follows : — 

" The French Armies and their General- 
in-Chief will read your Majesty's eulogistic 
message with profound gratitude and pride. 
They know how greatly the determined 
co-operation of the Allied troops, and the 

The French Advance in Champagne; map showing approximately the old and new lines at the end of 

September, 1915 


The Great World War 

ch Omual Pliotoffraph 

Some of the 23,000; a group of German prisoners taken during the battle in Champagne, September, 1915 

brilliant offensive of Field-Marshal French, 
have contributed to the common success 
of the past kw days. I am the interpreter 
of the whole French nation in expressiiig 
to your Majesty, and to the valiant British 
Army, my warmest congratulations." 

The President had already sent his 
own CQngratulations to General Joffre 
and his armies, in a letter addres5:ed 
to M. Millerand as French Minister 
of War. 

" The magnificent results achieved by 
our operations in Artois and Champagne," 
he wrote, "enable us to estimate the extent 
of the victory just won by the Allied Armies. 
Our splendid troops have given, in this ar- 
duous fighting, fresh proofs of their incom- 
parable ardour, self-sacrifice, and si.olime 
devotion to their country. They have also 
definitely asserted their superiority to the 

enemy. I beg you to transmit to tlii 
General-in-Chief, to the generals com- 
manding groups of armies and armies, and 
to all the generals, officers, non-commis- 
sioned officers, and soldiers, my warmest 
and most sincere congratulations." 

The French Minister of War for- 
warded this letter to General Joffre 
\\ith the following note: — 

"My Dear General, 

" It is with a heart full of joy that 
I send you the letter I ha\'e just received 
from the President of the Republic. F.i 
communicating it to the troops I beg you 
to add to it, together with my most hearty 
personal congratulations, an expression of 
the admiration and gratitude of the Govern- 
ment of the Republic." 

Though too roughly shaken both 

The Germans' Counter-offensive 


here and in Artois to organize at once 
a counter-attack on anything like a 
corresponding scale, the Germans had 
no intention of losing some 15^ square 
miles of conquered ground without a 
stern resolve to flinor the assailants 
back. When, on October 6, the French 
got their teeth into the second line by 
the capture of the Butte de Tahure, 
or Hill 192 — a tactical point of great 
importance, commanding the village 
of Tahure — the enemy made daily 
attempts to recover both positions by 
means of violent infantry assaults 
and preliminary bombardments. Each 
costly attempt, however, on these oc- 
casions, melted away under the de- 
fenders' infallible curtain of fire. The 
loss of such a vital point in the enemy's 
much-vaunted second line made him 
cling the harder to the one remaining 
salient in advance of this position, 
bounded on the south by the obstinate 
defensive work known as the Courtine, 
west of the Maisons de Champagne, 
and i^ miles to the north of Mesnil- 
les-Hurlus. This German wedge had 
a front of about 1300 yards and an 
average depth of 270 yards, consisting 
of three or four lines of entrenchments 
connected by subterranean tunnels and 
communication trenches, all admirably 
organized for defence and stubbornly 
held; and it took our Allies a whole 
month of ceaseless hammering to 
smash a way in and force its surren- 
der, when 200 prisoners were made. 
This definitely consolidated the new 
French line. 

Twelve months' work by the enemy 
over miles of front had thus been 
brought to nought, but behind all 
these conquered redoubts and en- 

VOL. V. 

trenchments were other formidable 
lines, and before these could be simi- 
larly subdued the centre of military 
gravity had shifted to the Balkans. 
General Joffre, now Commander-in- 
Chief of all the French forces, paid 
a sudden visit to London before the 
end of October, 191 5 — his first since 
the outbreak of the war — with the 
result, after conferences with Lord 
Kitchener, Mr. Asquith, and Mr. Bal- 
four, that Britain and France became 
fully committed to the new campaign 
in the Near East. 

Determined, if possible, to recover 
their lost ground now that the French 
general offensive had died down, the 
Germans mustered on October 30 for 
a supreme effort to recapture the five- 
mile section between the Tahure Hill 
and Hill 193, including the village 
and trenches to the south as far as and 
including the Courtine labyrinth. The 
attack was preceded by a terrific bom- 
bardment, and delivered in mass for- 
mation by successive waves of fresh 
troops, brought back in many cases 
from the Russian front to meet the 
emergency in the West. Notwith- 
standing the vigour of the assault, the 
avalanche of infantry, broken by the 
fire from the French machine-guns 
and " 75's ", was effectually stayed 
over most of the ground, the Germans, 
driven back to their trenches, leaving 
the ground thickly strewn with their 
dead; but they succeeded in recap- 
turino- the summit of Tahure Hill. 
Fiohtino- in this sector continued with 
unabated fury, and insignificant success 
to the enemy. Despite the employ- 
ment of poison gas, liquid fire, and all 
his other evil devices, he succeeded, 



The Great World War 

up to the end of 191 5, in recovering 
only a foothold here and there in his 
lost front, chiefly in the fiercely con- 
tested reo^ion between the Courtine 
and the Butte de Mesnil. Towards 
the end of the year the " Lion of the 
Aroronne " — General Gouraud — re- 
turned to the front, having completely 

apart from affairs of outposts, along 
the Belgian front, where King Albert's 
army was still adding steadily to its 
strength and efficiency. Early in 
December the Belgians re-inundated 
the Yser district, with the result that 
the Germans lost a number of their 
advanced posts. The British monitors 

French Official Photograph 

Heroes of the Champagne Battle: decorating French soldiers for gallant deeds in the great attack 

recovered from the wounds received 
in Gallipoli. He was now given 
command of one of the armies in the 
Champagne theatre. 

All this time there was little of im- 
portance to record along the rest of 
the Western front, save the obstinate 
fighting in Artois and elsewhere along 
the British lines, already described in 
our earlier chapters. Bomb fighting 
on the dunes and reciprocal bombard- 
ments were the outstanding incidents, 

were also intermittently active, espe- 
cially against the German positions 
at Westende. The French artillery 
gradually asserted its superiority along 
most of its far-flung line, and aircraft 
activity increased with every succeed- 
ing month. 

On the extreme rioht of the French 
front the struoole in Alsace continued 
to centre in the fiorht for the sinister 
slopes of Hartmannsweilerkopf On 
December 21, 191 5, the French began 

Incidents in the Winter Campaign 


a series of operations which, after a 
week's incessant struorgrle, endino- in 
a blinding: snowstorm, enabled them 
appreciably to extend their positions 
from the conquered crest, and to cap- 
ture 1668 prisoners. With the turn 
of the year the Germans delivered a 
series of determined counter-attacks, 

the other, but leaving the French 
every month more firmly established 
in the lost provinces. Here, more 
than anywhere, the bad weather ham- 
pered the operations throughout the 
winter of 191 5-16. 

Early in the new year the enemy 
must already have been hard at work 

1 Photograph 

' They also serve 

": widows, orphans, and parents receiving decorations in Paris won by fallen 
heroes at the front 

General Cousin is shown conferring war decorations of the fallen at one of the periodical distributions of the kind at the 
Invalides, Paris, each presentation being accompanied by a brief recital of the heroic deed thus honoured. In the back- 
ground are two of the captured German biplanes. 

in the course of which they claimed 
to have recovered the lost trenches 
south of the Hartmannsweilerkopf and 
captured 20 officers and 1083 chas- 
seurs, besides 15 machine-guns. So 
the dinor-donor combat continued alono- 
the mountainous front of Alsace, the 
swing of the pendulum giving the ad- 
vantage first to one side and then to 

preparing the way for the Crown 
Prince's grand assault on \'erdun in 
the following February. Another great 
effort to break through in Champagne, 
e.xtending from December 27 to Janu- 
ary 4, with a force estimated at not 
less than 60,000 men. was probably 
[)art of the .same deep-laid scheme, 
and, had it succeeded, might have 


The Great World War 

sealed that fortress's fate. On this, 
as on so many previous occasions, the 
enemy strove his hardest to smash a 
way through from the Courtine to the 
Massiges plateau, after a prodigious 
bombardment followed by a poison- 
gas attack. Though the Imperial 
Guard were included in the attack, 
though as many as four actions were 
concentrated on this five -mile front, 


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Map showing approximately the Allies' Line near Albert 
and the position of Frise on the River Somme captured by 
the GermatiS on January 28-29, 1916 

*' despite also ", to quote from the 
French official account, "the use of 
asphyxiating gases in great copious- 
ness, and despite the repetition of the 
same effort no fewer than eight times, 
the German troops were driven back 
by the fire of the French guns, after 
suffering the most appalling losses ". 
They were further punished by the 
intense bombardment maintained for 
several days afterwards against various 
points of the German front, some 
trenches being destroyed to the west 
of the Maisons de Champagne, and 

an entire installation for delivering 
gas attacks wrecked north of the 
Navarin Farm, several reservoirs of 
poison gas being exploded. 

Later in the month of January, 
191 6, other attempts to conceal the 
Crown Prince's plans in the West 
were made on the extreme right of 
the German front, where an attempt 
to capture the town of Nieuport 
was frustrated by our Allies' artillery 
fire; on the Vimy Heights, where the 
enemy succeeded in straightening out 
his line on the Western side by a 
series of small gains at heavy cost; 
and on the Somme, below Albert, 
where he scored a local success on 
January 28-29 by capturing the village 
of Frise, in the bend of the river to- 
wards Dompierre. The main feature 
of the attacks in Artois was the lavish 
use made by the enemy of mines. 
These were obviously the work of 
months of silent burrowing since the 
great offensive of September, 191 5, 
four small salients being dug in this 
way under the French line between 
the Arras- Lens line, chiefly in the 
direction of Neuville St. Vaast and the 
lost village of Souchez. In front of 
each of these underground salients 
were driven some six or seven power- 
ful mines, every one of which, exploded 
immediately before the attack, tore out 
a crater from 40 to 50 feet in diameter. 
It was estimated that each mine must 
have contained from si.x to eight tons 
of explosive. After daily fighting at 
these different points there was a 
general engagement on January 28 
which began with a simultaneous ex- 
plosion of twenty-five German mines, 
and a violent bombardment of the 

Preparing for Verdun 


French trenches. Yet for all their pro- and elsewhere, like the ground above 

digious efforts the enemyonly succeeded the mined approach to their trenches, 

in partially occupying the four small had more beneath them than appeared 

salients so cunningly prepared under- on the surface. They were not the 

ground. The most that they gained vain spectacular affairs organized, as 

were the observation posts of the was too readily believed at the time. 

French Official Photograph 

After the Battle: French troops in Champagne taking a well-earned rest behind the firing line 

French advanced trenches, held with 
insignificant forces. The real French 
line, which our Allies had completely 
consolidated since pushing the Ger- 
mans back in September, and was 
shortly to be handed over to their 
British comrades, remained intact. 

All this German activity on the 
French and Belgian fronts, and sudden 
attacks on our own lines near Pilkem 

merely to convince public opinion in 
Germany and neutral countries that 
the iron fist was not orrowino^ soft. 
They were deliberate feints made with 
the object of cloaking as long as pos- 
sible the mighty concentration of men 
and ouns for the orand assault on 
Verdun, planned for the following 

F. A. U. 


The Great World War 



October, 1915 

The Mailed Fist in Belgium— Charge against Edith Cavell— Her Life and Lineage— Reign of Terror 
in lirussels— Edith Cavell arrested— American Legation's Eftbrts on her Behalf— Trial and Sentence- 
Hoodwinking the American Legation— Mr. Brand Whitlock's Appeal for Clemency— Vain Efforts of 
Spanish and American Ministers— Edith Cavell's Last Hours— The British Chaplain's Narrative— An 
Unforgettable Crime— Memorial Service at St. Paul's Cathedral. 

ONE would have thoiioht that 
even Prussianism would have 
been satisfied with its twelve 
months' fruits of fri^htfulness in Bel- 
eium without addino- to it the deliberate 
murder — for it was nothing- less — of a 
gentlewoman who had spent her life 
in alleviating the sufferings of others, 
Germans among them. But it is one 
of the worst attributes of frightfulness, 
as of every other form of \ice, that it 
grows by what it feeds on; and the 
utter inability of Prussian militarism 
to understand why the shooting of 
Nurse Cavell should have sent a thrill 
of horror and disgust throughout the 
civilized world, and called aloud for 
vengeance, was the most damning 
commentary on German KitUiir since 
the sinking of the Litsitauia. It made 
no difference to German judges and 
Governors that the victim was a woman, 
that she had nursed German as well as 
Allied wounded back to life, and that 
the United States Minister had put in 
a special plea on her behalf, not only 
in the name of chivalry, but also in 
that of common humanity. It was 
enouoh that Nurse Cavell had, ad- 
mittedly, broken a military law, and 
been condemned to death by German 
Court Martial, where the quality of 

mercy was unknown. Besides, the 
Great Offensive of the Allies in Artois 
and Champagne, which at that time 
had nearly torn a double rent in the 
German line, had raised a hope in. 
Belgium that the hour of freedom was 
at hand, and something was needed to 
show that the mailed fist could strike, 
as hard and as ruthlessly as ever in 
King Albert's unhappy land. It suited 
the military needs of the moment, when 
the British forced their way to Loos 
on September 25 while the French 
pierced the " wall of steel " in Cham- 
pagne, that the German Governor of 
Brussels already had lAider lock and 
key between thirty and forty of the 
oppressed civilians, two-thirds of whom 
were women. There is little doubt that 
the trial of these prisoners, ending in 
the secret execution of Nurse Cavell 
— the one representative of the hated 
British nation — was part of a cold- 
blooded plot to terrorize afresh the 
whole Belgian people. 

The charoe brouofht aoainst Miss 
Cavell was that she had sheltered 
fugitive British and French soldiers 
and helped them, as well as some 
young Belgians, to escape across the 
frontier into Holland. This, ap- 
parently, was freely admitted by Miss 

The Reign of Terror in Brussels 


Cavell, who, scorning to conceal any- 
thing, furnished her accusers with in- 
formation which she alone could have 
given, and probably sealed her fate. 
She had, it is true, violated a military 
law, and incurred some penalty, pos- 
sibly imprisonment until the end of 
the war. But this was no drum-head 
court martial on 
a field of battle. 
This was Brussels, 
where, as the 
British Home 

Secretary pointed 
out at the time, the 
Germans claimed 
to have estab- 
lished orderly rule 
comparable with 
their own govern- 
ment, and to have 
appointed there a 
Civil Governor. 
And their victim 
was no unknown 
adventuress, with- 
out a claim on 
their generous 
consideration, but 
one who had 
proved a good 

Samaritan to many a wounded Ger- 
man since the beginning of the war. 
A woman of high ideals and rare 
unselfishness, Edith Cavell came of 
an ancient Enolish lineaoe which in- 
eluded a distinguished admiral in the 
reign of Henry VII. The daughter of 
the late Rev. Frederick Cavell, vicar 
of Swardeston, near Norwich, and 
brought up in a quiet country vicarage, 
she had dedicated her life to nursing 
since joining the profession in 1896, 

Miss Edith Cavell 
Reproduced by courtesy of The Illustrated London Neivs 

when she became a probationer at the 
London Hospital. As soon as war 
broke out in the summer of 19 14, 
when she was staying with her aged 
mother at Swardeston, she left the 
security of England and returned to 
her post of danger in Brussels. Here, 
from small beginnings, she had estab- 
lished a nursing 
home with a staff 
which in 1914 
numbered ninety 
nurses of all na- 
tionalities, Ger- 
mans included, 
with a surgical 
hospital and chil- 
dren's ward at- 
tached. As soon 
as the German 
army entered the 
gates of Brussels, 
a few weeks later, 
she placed the 
institution and the 
services of her 
staff at the com- 
plete disposal of 
Governor von 
Luttwitz for the 
care of the casual- 
ties among friends and foes alike. 
Many a wounded and dying -German 
owed her a debt which should not 
have been forgotten when her own 
hour of danger arrived. 

Beloved throughout Brussels, she 
devoted much of her time to the poor 
as well as to the sick, and felt the 
sufferings of the saddened city in 
those early months of the occupation 
with a heart always overflowing with 
compassion. In a letter written in the 


The Great World War 

spring of 19 15, and quoted in the 
Nit7'sing Times, she sent home a 
moving- account of the subdued and 
silent streets, once so busy and bust- 
ling, where no one now dared to speak 
to his neighbour lest he should be a 

" I am but a looker-on after all," she con- 
tinued, " for it is not my country whose soil 
is desecrated and whose sacred places are 
laid waste. I can only feel the deep and 
tender pity of the friend within the gates, 
and observe with sympathy and admiration 
the high courage and self-control of a people 
enduring a long and terrible agony. They 
have grown thin and silent with the fearful 
strain. They walk about the city shoulder 
to shoulder with the foe, and never see them 
or make a sign; only they leave the caf(6 
which they frequent and turn their backs 
to them and live a long way off and 

Under the oppressive yoke of the 
invaders the magnificent temple to 
justice raised by Belgium in its capital 
was a mockery. The Germans con- 
verted it into barracks for their troops, 
reserving an ever-decreasing section 
for the courts to administer the tra- 
vesty of civil law that still remained 
to them. One heroic jurist, M. Leon 
Theodor, dared, in the name of all the 
Bars of Belgium, to utter a noble pro- 
test against this treatment before the 
so-called "German Courts of Justice", 
ending as follows: — 

" We are not annexed. We are not con- 
quered. We are not even vanquished. Our 
army is fighting. Our colours float along- 
side those of France, England, and Russia. 
The country subsists. She is simply un- 
fortunate. More than ever, then, we now 
owe ourselves to her body and soul. To 
defend her rights is also to fight for her. 
We are living hours now as tragic as any 

country has ever known. All is destruc- 
tion and ruin around us. Everywhere we 
see mourning. Our army has lost half of 
its effective force. Its percentage in dead 
and wounded will never be obtained by any 
of the belligerents. There remains to us 
only a corner of ground over there by the 
sea. The waters of the Yser flow through 
an immense plain peopled by the dead. It 
is called the Belgian Cemetery. There sleep 
our children by the thousands. There they 
are sleeping their last sleep. The struggle 
goes on bitterly and without mercy. 

" Your sons, Mr. President, are at the 
front; mine as well. For months we have 
been living in anxiety regarding the morrow. 
Why these sacrifices, why this sorrow? Bel- 
gium could have avoided these disasters, saved 
her existence, her treasures, and the life of her 
children, but she preferred her ho?iour." 

Our extract, taken from the judicial 
study of " The Case of Edith Cave II, 
by James M. Beck, formerly Assistant 
Attorney-General of the U nited States,^ 
reveals the tragic atmosphere of Brus- 
sels, and some of the results of the 
reion of terror in Belgium, where the 
number of non - combatants shot by 
the Germans were already counted by 
the thousand. M. Leon Theodor was 
not shot, but, like Brussels's dauntless 
Burgomaster, M. Max, was shortly 
afterwards placed under arrest and 
imprisoned in Germany for fearlessly 
defending the oppressed civilian popu- 
lation from a system of tyranny and 
secret executions which, in their malig- 
nancy — to quote the words of Mr, Beck, 
whose opinion counts as that of a neu- 
tral as well as a distinguished lawyer 
— "should excite the professional jeal- 
ousy of Danton, Marat, and Robes- 
pierre". The Zabern-like spirit of 

' The Case of Edith Cavell: A Study of the Rights of 
Non-combatants (Putnam's Sons). 

German Ideas of Justice 


the conqueror's rule had been suffi- 
ciently shown in the sentence of ten 
years' hard labour inflicted upon Prin- 
cess Maria de Croy at Ostend for 
breakino- her umbrella over the shoul- 
ders of a German officer who had 
insulted her. 

It was in the midst of this reign of 
terror that Edith Cavell was arrested, 
on August 5, 1915, and arrested so 
secretly that the American Legation, 
which had assumed the care of British 
citizens in Belgium since the begin- 
ning of the war — just as the United 
States had taken over the care of 
German residents in Britain and other 
Allied countries — was apparently un- 
aware of her danger until the last day 
of the month. Some information had 
meantime reached the British Foreign 
Office, as, on August 26, Sir Edward 
Grey requested the American Ambas- 
sador in London to make enquiries 
through the United States Legation 
in Brussels. Five days later Mr. Brand 
Whitlock, the American Minister to 
Belgium, wrote to Baron von der 
Lancken, head of the Political Depart- 
ment of the German Governor-General, 
to know whether the information was 
correct which had just reached him to 
the effect that Miss Cavell had been 
arrested, and if so to send the neces- 
sary authorization to arrange for her 
defence. The German authorities did 
not even bother to answer this letter 
until Mr. Brand Whitlock wrote aofain 
on September 10, pressing for a reply 
by telegram. Even then it was two 
days later before Baron von der 
Lancken condescended to answer, and, 
without a word of apology for the long 
delay, acknowledged that Miss Cavell 

had been arrested on August 5, adding 
that she was being kept in custody in 
the military prison of St. Gilles, one 
of the south-western suburbs of the 

" She has herself confessed ", he added, 
" to having concealed in her residence Eng- 
lish and French soldiers, as also Belgians 
of military age, all desirous of proceeding 
to the front. She has also confessed to 
having provided these soldiers with the 
money necessary for travelling to France, 
and to having facilitated their escape from 
Belgium by procuring them guides who 
enabled them to cross secretly the Dutch 

Mr. Brand Whitlock had asked in 
his first letter that M. de Leval, Legal 
Counsellor to the Legation, might be 
permitted to confer with the prisoner, 
and if need be entrust someone with 
her defence. This was declined on 
the oround that the Governor General, 
"as a matter of principle", did not 
allow accused persons to have any 
interviews whatever. Miss Cavell's 
defence, it was explained, had been 
entrusted to a barrister, M. Braun, 
who had already placed himself "in 
the hands of the competent German 
authorities ". That was the German 
way of administering military justice. 
Even the counsel officially appointed 
for the defence was not allowed to see 
the accused before the trial. In point 
of fact, M. Braun, the Belgian barrister 
in question, was either unable or un- 
willing to act for Miss Cavell, handing 
over the defence to another lawyer 
named Kirschen. "According to cre- 
dible information", writes Mr. Beck, 
" Kirschen was a German by birth, 
although a naturalized Belgian subject 


The Great World War 

and a member of the Brussels Bar". 
At all events, although he is reported, 
in the words of M. de Leval, " to have 
made a very good plea for Miss Cavell, 
using all the arguments that could be 
brought before the court ", he failed to 
keep the American Legation — the pri- 
soner's one remaining hope — informed 
of the developments of the secret trial, 
as promised, and did not even com- 
municate the fact that it had closed 
on Friday, October 8, judgment being 
reserved. It was only through "an 
outsider ", on the Saturday, that the 
Legation learned that the trial had 
taken place. Everything, indeed, 
seemed to conspire to keep the Lega- 
tion in the dark. When, some time 
before, the American Minister's legal 
adviser had proposed to watch the 
case in court he had been immediately 
dissuaded from doingsobyM. Kirschen, 
on the ground that his presence "would 
cause a great prejudice to the prisoner, 
because the German judges would re- 
sent it, and feel it almost as an affront". 
Could there be any stronger com- 
mentary on German justice than this 
unworthy plea: that the minds of the 
judges would be prejudiced against a 
woman on trial for her life by the 
presence of a representative of the 
American Government, whose duty it 
was to look after British interests? 
From the same unofficial source the 
following facts were subsequently dis- 
closed to M. de Leval, and set forth 
in his official report: — 

" Miss Cavell was prosecuted for having 
helped English and French soldiers, as well 
as Belgian young men, to cross the frontier 
and to go over to England. She had ad- 
mitted, by signing a statement before the 

day of the trial, and by public acknowledg- 
ment in Court, in the presence of all the 
other prisoners and the lawyers, that she 
was guilty of the charges brought against 
her, and she had acknowledged not only 
that she had helped these soldiers to cross 
the frontier, but also that some of them had 
thanked her in writing when arriving in 
England. This last admission made her 
case so much the more serious, because if 
it only had been proved against her that 
she had helped the soldiers to traverse the 
Dutch frontier, and no proof was produced 
that those soldiers had reached a country 
at war wath Germany," she could only have 
been sentenced for an attempt to commit 
the 'crime' and not for the 'crime' being 
duly accomplished. As the case stood, the 
sentence fixed by the German military law 
was a sentence of death." 

What chance was there for any hap- 
less prisoner to avoid such legal pitfalls 
when the officially appointed counsel 
for the defence was not only forbidden 
to interview the accused before the 
trial, but unable to see any document 
of the prosecution. It was all very 
well for M. Kirschen to assure the 
counsel for the American Leoation 
beforehand that the hearing of such 
cases was carried out very carefully, 
and that there was not the slightest 
danger of any miscarriage of justic-e, 
but every lawyer knows how impos- 
sible it would be to obtain a fair trial 
in such arbitrary circumstances, or jus- 
tice for every case in a simultaneous 
trial of between thirty and forty pri- 
soners. It was Miss Cavell herself, in 
her oral statement before the Court, 
who disclosed practically all the facts 
of the prosecution. 

" She spoke without trembling," we are 
told on the authority of M. de Leval's un- 
known informant, "and showed a clear 

American Minister's Plea for Mercy 


mind. Often she added some greater pre- 
cision to her previous depositions. When 
she was asked why she helped these soldiers 
to go to England, she replied that she 
thought that, if she had not done so, they 
would have been shot by the Germans, and 
that therefore she thought she only did her 

General Baron von Bissing, the German Governor, on 
the steps of his residence in Brussels. (Behind is an 

duty to her countr}' in sa\ing their lives. 
The Military Public Prosecutor said that 
argument might be good for English sol- 
diers, but did not apply to Belgian young 
men whom she induced to cross the frontier, 
and who would have been perfectly free to 
remain in the country without danger to 
their lives." 

Edith Ccivell had seen enough of 
German militarism to know that she 

was running grave danger — possibly 
that she was risking" her life — when 
.she helped these refugees to freedom, 
and she was too proud to plead for 
mercy; but she was probably ignorant 
at the time of her offence of the pre- 
cise paragraph in the German Military 
Code which was to send her to her 
doom. "Any person", says para- 
graph 58 of this Code, "will be sen- 
tenced to death for treason who, with 
the intention of helping the hostile 
Power or of causing harm to the Ger- 
man or Allied troops, is guilty of one 
of the crimes of paragraph 90 of the 
German Penal Code." M. de Leval 
points out that the case referred to 
was that of " . . . conducting soldiers 
to the enemy . . . (viz. ' dem P^einde 
Mannschaften zufuhrt')". 

While admitting that a general and 
strained construction of this legal lan- 
guage might be applicable to Edith 
Cavell's case, Mr. Beck affirms with 
confidence that under this law she 
was innocent, and that the true mean- 
ing of the Code was perverted in 
order to inHict the sentence of death 
upon her, military necessity then de- 
manding a victim further to terrorize 
the subjugated people. His argument 
— and tlie voice of a neutral of Mr. 
Beck's leoal standing is of greater 
weight than the naturally biased 
opinion of Edith Cavell's countrymen 
— is that Miss Cavell, yielding to the 
humanitarian impulses which ruled 
her life throughout, had simply given 
shelter to soldiers and in some way 
facilitated the escape of these and 
others, not back to the Allies' line, 
but to Holland. " Holland is a neutral 
countrv. and it was its dutv to intern 


The Great World War 

any fu5.ritive soldiers who might escape 
from any one of the belHgerent coun- 
tries. The fact that these soldiers 
subsequently reached England is a 
matter that could not increase or 
diminish the essential nature of Miss 
Cav ell's case." 

Quite apart, however, from the 
strict letter of the law, none but a 
ruthless, tyrannical Government would 
have chosen a woman for its pitiless 
sacrifice, especially one whose services 
to the German wounded might, as Sir 
Edward Grey wrote to the American 
Ambassador in London, have been 
regarded as a complete reason in 
itself for treating her with leniency. 
Nothing shows more clearly the grim 
determination of these malevolent 
rulers to take Miss Cavell's life than 
their discreditable and too successful 
efforts to conceal the fact from the 
American Legation that the death 
sentence had been formally passed, 
and would be carried out immediately. 
The American authorities, to be ready 
for any eventuality, had prepared a 
petition for pardon addressed to the 
Governor-General in Belgium, General 
Baron von Bissing, who had succeeded 
to that office towards the end of 19 14; < 
but no word reached them officially of 
the tragic turn of events on Monday, 
October 1 1, though positive assurances 
had been given that the Leoation 
would be fully informed of any de- 
velopments. It was only through 
private sources that evening, at 8 
p.m., that they learned the truth: 
judgment had been delivered that very 
afternoon, and Edith Cavell was to be 
shot at 2 o'clock the next morning. 
Unable through illness to attend in 

person, Mr. Brand Whitlock imme- 
diately sent Mr. Gibson, the Secretary 
to the Legation, to present his appeal 
to Baron von der Lancken that 
execution of the sentence should be 
deferred until the Governor should 
consider his plea for clemency. Mr. 
Gibson was accompanied, not only by 
M. de Leval, but also by the Spanish 
Minister, Senor Don Alfonso Merry 
del Val, who was equally anxious to 
do all that he could, in the name of 
humanity and chivalry, to save Miss 
Cavell's life. The purport of the 
American Minister's letter was an 
appeal for clemency on behalf of one 
whose career of humanity, if for no 
other reason, was of a kind " to in- 
spire the utmost pity and to procure 
for her the utmost mercy". The most 
moving part of the appeal was its 
postscript : 

" My dear Baron, 

" I am too ill to present you my 
petition in person, but I appeal to your 
generosity of heart to support it and save 
this unhappy woman from death. Have 
pity on her! 

" Yours very sincerely, 

"Brand Whitlock." 

Bearing this letter the American 
representatives and the Spanish 
Minister arrived at the Politische 
Abteilung, only to find that Baron 
von der Lancken and all the members 
of his staff were absent for the even- 
ing. A special message was sent 
to the Baron, asking him to return 
at once on a matter of the utmost 
urgency. It was shortly after 10 
o'clock when he arrived, followed by 
two junior members of his staff, Count 

No Hope for Edith Cavell 


Harrach and Herr von Falkenhausen. 
As soon as he read the note the 
Baron expressed disbelief in the re- 
port that sentence had actually been 
passed, as well as his surprise that 
credence should be given to any 
report not emanating from official 

" He was quite insistent", says Mr. Gib- 
son in his report of this interview, " on 
knowing the exact source of our informa- 
tion, but this I did not feel at liberty to com- 
municate to him. Baron von der Lancken 
stated that it was quite improbable that 
sentence had been pronounced, that, even 
if so, it would not be executed within so 
short a time, and that in any event it 
would be quite impossible to take any 
action before morning." 

When it was pointed out that, if the 
facts were as they believed them to 
be, action would be useless unless 
taken at once, he agreed, after some 
hesitation, to make enquiries. Having, 
apparently, telephoned to the presiding 
Judge of the Court Martial, he pre- 
sently returned to say that the facts 
were as represented, and that Miss 
Cavell was to be executed that night. 
It was in vain that Mr. Gibson em- 
phasized the horror of executing a 
woman, no matter what her offence 
was, pointing out that the death sen- 
tence had hitherto been imposed only 
for actual cases of espionage, whereas 
Miss Cavell "was not even accused 
by the German authorities of anything 
so serious"; in vain that the Spanish 
Minister, with equally chivalrous zeal, 
led the Baron aside " in order to say 
very forcibly a number of things which 
he would have felt hesitancy in saying 
in the presence of the younger officers 

and M. de Leval, a Belgian subject; 
vain also that Mr. Gibson and M. 
de Leval meantime reminded these 
younger officers of the untiring efforts 
of the American representatives on 
behalf of German subjects at the out- 
break of war and during the siege of 
Antwerp. " I pointed out", adds Mr. 
Gibson, "that while our services had 
been rendered gladly, and without any 
thought of future favours, they should 
certainly entitle the American Minister 
to some consideration for the only re- 
quest of the sort he had made since 
the beginning of the war". It was all 
unavailing. There was no hope, said 
Baron von der Lancken, after finally 
conferring in person with the Governor- 
General, Baron von Bissing, to whom 
a similar letter of appeal had been sent 
by Mr. Whitlock, though without the 
personal postscript. 

The Governor-General, who alone, 
apparently, had discretionary powers 
under German Military Law to accept 
or refuse an appeal for mercy, seems 
to have told Baron von der Laiicken 
in this fateful conference "that he had 
acted in the case of Nurse Cavell only 
after mature deliberation; that the cir- 
cumstances in her case were of such 
a character that he considered the in- 
fliction of the death penalty imperative; 
and that he must decline to accept the 
American Minister's plea for clemency, 
or any representation in regard to the 
matter". The responsibility for the 
execution rested with the Military 
Commander of the district, Major- 
General von Haesler. In these cir- 
cumstances Baron von der Lancken 
declared that " even the Emperor 
himself could not intervene ", though 


The Great World War 

here he was wrong, for the Kaiser, 
when he saw how the conscience of 
the whole civilized world was shocked 
by the execution of Edith Cavell, 
promptly commuted the death sen- 
tence which had been passed upon 
seven other prisoners at the same trial. 
This was largely the result of strong 
representations on the part of the King 
of Spain and the Pope on behalf of 
two French ladies among them, who, 
like Edith Cavell, had been condemned 
to death for sheltering French and 
British fugitive soldiers. Had the 
American Minister's plea for delay 
been granted it is more than likely 
that Edith Cavell too might have 
been spared. 

Little more remains to be told of 
her few remaining hours. While this 
earnest but unavailing effort was being 
made to save her life she was prepar- 
ing for the supreme sacrifice with a 

steadfast courage and Christian resig- 
nation which have inscribed her name 
for all time among the world's great 
heroines of patriotism and faith. 

At eleven o'clock that Monday 
mornino- M. de Leval had called on 
Herr Conrad, the official in charge of 
the Political Department of the Ger- 
man Government in Belgium, and 
asked that permission be granted to 
the Rev. H. S. T. Gahan, the British 
Chaplain at Brussels, to see Miss 
Cavell in jail. This was refused, as 
was the request that M. de Leval 
himself migrht see her, in view of the 
fact that the trial had now taken place. 
"He replied", writes the Legation's 
legal adviser, " that she could see any 
of the three Protestant clergymen at- 
tached to the prison; and that I could 
not see her until judgment was pro- 
nounced and sio;-ned, but that this would 
probably only take place in a day or 

In Memory of Edith Cavell: the memorial service in St. Paul's Cathedral, October 29, 1915 

Edith Cavell's Last Hours 

1 1 1 

two". Herr Conrad's conduct through- 
out was one of the worst features of 
the case. This was the man who had 
repeatedly given positive assurance 
both to Mr. Gibson and M. de Leval 
that the Legation would be fully in- 
formed as to the developments of the 
trial — promises, as we have seen, made 
only to be broken, and afterwards semi- 
officially denied. Despite these assur- 
ances, frequent enquiries had been made 
in the course of the same day by the 
Leo^ation officials; but even when sen- 
tence of death was secretly pronounced, 
at 5 p.m., and the execution ordered 
for 2 a.m. the next mornino- the traofic 
fact was withheld. The Legation's 
last enquiry was made at 6.20 p.m., 
more than an hour after judgment had 
been delivered, and still Herr Conrad 
had the effrontery to declare — to quote 
from ?.lr. Gibson's report — " that sen- 
tence had not yet been pronounced, 
and specifically renewed his previous 
assurances that he would not fail to 
inform us as soon as there was any 
news ". As Sir Edward Grey after- 
wards pointed out, these efforts to con- 
ceal the truth were doubtless prompted 
by the determination to carry out the 
sentence before an appeal from the 
finding of the Court Martial could be 
made to a higher authority, and show 
in the clearest possible way that the 
authorities concerned were well aware 
that the carrying out of the sentence 
was unwarranted by any consideration. 
Before the night was over the Ger- 
mans relented to the extent of allowing 
their victim the spiritual solace of a 
last interview with the British chaplain. 
Mr. Gahan's simple narrative of the 
closing scene in that prison cell of St. 

Gilles, where Edith Cavell had been 
awaiting her fate for the past ten 
weeks, cut off entirely from friends 
and relations, but nobly unafraid, is 
one of the most moving- documents of 
the war. 

"To my astonishment and relief", he 
writes, " I found my friend perfectly calm 
and resigned. But this could not lessen 
the tenderness and intensity of feeling on 
either part during that last interview of 
almost an hour. Her first words to me 
were upon a matter concerning herself per- 
sonally, but the solemn asseveration which 
accompanied them was made expressedly 
in the light of God and eternity. She then 
added that she wished all her friends to 
know that she willingly gave her life for 
her country, and said: ' I have no fear nor 
shrinking; I have seen death so often that 
it is not strange or fearful to me '. She 
further said: 'I thank God for this ten 
weeks' quiet before the end '. ' Life has 
always been hurried and full of difficult)-.' 
* This time of rest has been a great mere)-.' 
' They have all been very kind to me here. 
But this I would say, standing as I do in 
view of God and eternity, I realize that 
patriotism is not enough. I must have no 
hatred or bitterness towards anyone.' 

" We partook of the Holy Communion 
together, and she received the Gospel mes- 
sage of consolation with all her heart. At 
the close of the little service I began to 
repeat the words ' Abide with me ', and she 
joined softly in the end. We sat quietl>' 
talking until it was time forme to go. She 
gave me parting messages for relations and 
friends. She spoke of her soul's needs at 
the moment, and she received the assurance 
of God's Word as only the Christian can 
do. Then I said ' Good-bye ', and she 
smiled and said, ' We shall meet again '. 

" The German military ch.aplain was with 
her at the end, and afterwards gave her 
Christian burial. He told me: 'She was 
brave and bright to the last. She professed 
her Christian faith, and that she was glad 


The Great World War 

to die for her country '. ' She died like a 
heroine.' " 

No need here to enquire into the 
truth of the horrible stories afterwards 
circulated relating to the manner in 
which this noble woman was done to 
death. All the accounts of the shoot- 
ing can at present only be the evidence 
of hearsay. In any case such an act 
had, and could have, no parallel in 
Great Britain, Even in cases of 
proved espionage — and we have it 
on the authority of Sir Edward Grey, 
as well as of Secretary Gibson, that 
Edith Cavell was not charged with this 
offence — Great Britain had meted out 
to a woman no sentence of death since 
the war began. Not a few women of 
German birth had been found guilty 
and sentenced to various terms of 
imprisonment for deliberate and per- 
sistent spying, but in each case the 
lawyers for the defence were accorded 
the same privileges as in a civil court 
in peace time, and the prisoner the 
opportunity of having the sentence 

Edith Cavell died with words of for- 
giveness on, her lips, but it was well 
that Germany should know that it could 
not continue such crimes with im- 
punity. When asked in the House 
of Commons towards the end of Octo- 
ber whether the Foreign Secretary 
intended to take steps to convey to 
Baron von Bissing that when oppor- 
tunity offered he would be held per- 

sonally responsible by His Majesty's 
Government for this quasi-judicial as- 
sassination, Lord Robert Cecil, Under 
Secretary for Foreign Affairs, referred 
to the Prime Minister's pledge on May 
5, 191 5, that due reparation would be 
exacted from all persons, whatever 
their position, who could be shown 
to have maltreated our prisoners in 
Germany, "The pledge", he added, 
" still held good, and applied with two- 
fold force in the case of a savage 
murder, under legal form, of a noble 
woman"; though he did not think that 
any good purpose might be served in 
attempting to convey that resolution 
to any particular German official, who, 
for all they knew, might not be the 
chief offender. 

The subsequent memorial service 
at St, Paul's Cathedral — the mother 
church of the diocese in which Edith 
Cavell had herself worked as a nurse 
— attended by Queen Alexandra, the 
Prime Minister, the representatives of 
the great Dominions, and a mighty 
concourse of mourners representing 
every phase and class of public and social 
life, but especially of the nursing pro- 
fession, showed how deeply the nation 
had been stirred by this unforgettable 
crime, and was a profoundly impres- 
sive tribute to the memory of a woman 
who had given her life for her country 
as surely and as bravely as the noblest 
heroes on the field of battle. 

F. A, M, 

General Sarrail's Problem 



(November, 1915-January, 1916) 

General Sarrail and the Archangel Mountain Position — French Position on the Cerna and Vardar — 
British Front from Rabrovo to Lake Doiran — General Teodoroff's Attempt to Prevent a Franco-British 
Junction — The Attack on the British Front at Doiran- Resistance of the Tenth Division — Successful 
Junction and Retirement of Franco-British Forces across Greek Frontier — Salonika from Political and 
Strategical Standpoints — Salonika and the Serbians — M. Venizelos and the Greek Attitude of Neutrality 
— General Sarrail and Greece — The Defences of Salonika— Sarrail's Destruction of Part of the Railway — 
Air Raids — Bulgaria's Forces — Reactions of German and Austrian Military Necessities — The Serbian 
Retreat through Montenegro — Montenegro's Position — Exoneration of the Italians from Responsibility — 
Montenegro's Diplomacy — Fall of Mt. Lovchen — Retirement of King Nicolas from the Capital Cettinje 
and the Country. 

IN pushing up the Vardar valley 
to the point where the tributary 
Cerna joins the Vardar at an 
acute angle, General Sarrail with his 
comparatively small French force had 
gone as far as, or farther than, prudence 
would allow. The French force crossed 
the Cerna on November 5, 191 5, driv- 
ing in the Bulgarian outposts, but were 
then confronted by the mountainous 
Archangel position, strongly held by 
the Bulgarians. That barrier lay be- 
tween them and the small Serbian 
force which, led by Colonel Vassitch, 
was hanging on by toes and finger 
nails to the Babuna Pass, 10 miles 
away on the other side of Mount Arch- 
angel. When Colonel Vassitch's hold 
was torn awciy by the weight of num- 
bers, and to escape capture he had to 
fall back towards Monastir and eventu- 
ally follow the main Serbian army on 
the only road to safety through Al- 
bania, General Sarrail's mission had 
failed, as it was bound to do, because 
it had started too late, and because, 
slow as was the German- Austrian 
advance southwards through winter 

Vol. V. 

Serbia, reinforcement for the French 
or British forces was slower still. 
Nothing, as explained in an earlier 
chapter, was left for General Sarrail 
to do but to 00 back, leaving the Ser- 
bians to their fate and Macedonia to 
the Bulgarians. Thanks to the slow- 
ness of his adversaries, he had not to 
make the decision in haste; and his 
military ability and the fighting mate- 
rial he commanded enabled him to 
retire from a delicate situation with 
little loss and Qrreat honour. How 
little his decision was hastened may 
be apprehended from the fact that till 
November 27 he retained all his posi- 
tions, and when the Bulgarians, after 
manoeuvring the Serbians from the 
Babuna Pass, turned their attention 
to the French, Sarrail beat them off 
in a fierce encounter which cost them 
4000 killed and wounded. 

Nevertheless, retreat was a neces- 
sity, however it might be delayed, and 
it was a disagreeable one, because of 
the large amount of war material and 
stores which had been collected in the 
angle between the Cerna and the \^ar- 



The Great World War 

dar for the advance that could never 
be pushed. Even when, by a series of 
small attacks intended to deceive the 
enemy into believing- that the French 
had not abandoned the idea of an ad- 
vance, Sarrail had covered the with- 
drawal of the larger part of his stores, 
the difficulties were not at an end; 
on the contrary, they were growing. 

The British forces held a much 
more contracted front, from Rabrovo 
to Lake Doiran, with the Belashitza 
Mountains to their north-east. General 
Sarrail's problem was to withdraw his 
elongated line, especially where it 
formed the bulge of the horseshoe, till 
he could flatten it out into a straight 
line with the British troops on his 

'i'he Camp<i __m 

uiaming at Salonika 

as the Bulgarians became numerically 
stronger and as the detachments of 
mixed Austrian, German, and Bul- 
garian troops began to come down 
from the north. The French were 
not holding a straight front, but were 
formed in a kind of horseshoe, of which 
one prong extended from the River 
Cernato Krivolak.on the River Yardar, 
whi-le the other prong went down the 
opposite bank of the Vardar till it 
touched the British troops, some miles 
east of the ••'ver at Rabrovo. 

rioht flank. The Bulorarians were not 
blind to his intentions, and the com- 
mander of the Southern Buloarian 
Army, General Teodoroff, who had 
already proved his capacity by the 
way in which he had frustrated the 
efforts of the Franco- British relieving- 
force with one hand while trivino- him- 
self the opportunity of grasping at 
Colonel Vassitch's forlorn hope with 
the other, endeavoured to improve the 
situation to his own advantage. He 
had disposed considerable forces at 

With General Mahon's Irish Divi 



Istib and Strumnitza early in Novem- the battalions . of the Connaught 

ber, to prevent a further advance by Rangers, a couple of battalions of the 

either French or British up the left Munster I'-usilicrs, and two battalions 

(easterly) bank of the Vardar; he now of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. On 

endeavoured to use these forces to these fell the brunt of the fightino-. 

prevent an effective junction between and the gallantry with which the\' 

General Sarrail's right 

and the British left 

flank. He concentrated 

the bulk of his troops 

to riorht and left of" the 

road which leads from 

Strumnitza through 

Rabrovo, south to Lake 

Doiran, and, marching 

astride this road, 
to drive a 
between the 
and British 
If this could 
have been done, he 

would have then flung 
his whole weight on 
the British, driven 
them back across the 
Greek frontier, and 
would then have been 
able to tLU'n westwards 
to cut the line of retreat 
of the French down 
the Vardar valley. 
The plan was a good 
one. It failed o wing- 
to the fine handling- 


The British Line in the Ballians: preparing the new battle-field 

and the fine fiohtinof 

qualities of the British Tenth Division, bore themselves was recognized in the 
The Tenth Division was a New War Office coiumunique describing- 
Army formation, and was made up their successful resistance. On Decem- 
entirely of Irish troops trained at the ber 3 the French withdrew from Kri- 
Curragh under the command of Lieu- volak, and by December 5 had rcaclTed 
tenant-General Sir B. INIahon, and. the steep defile where the Vardar runs 
blooded in the Suvia Bay operations, through the crags of Demir Kapu. 
Among its units there were one of Their retreat was continuing me^tticdiy - 









The Great World War 

Awaiting the Bulgarian Onrush: a British outpost on the look-out for the enemy 

cally the next day, when the Bulgarians 
made their first move by launching an 
attack prepared by a heavy bombard- 
ment on the British positions 20 miles 
to the east-south-east. The attack 
was pushed home with great deter- 
mination, and in the mountain mists 
small parties of the Bulgarians reached 
our first-line trenches, only to be im- 
mediately driven out by a counter- 
attack. The onrush flickered away. 
The Bulgarians re-formed, and next 
day began the attack with greater 
forces. They came on with a courage- 
ous disregard of losses and with a 
close imitation of the German phalanx 
formation. By weight of numbers — 
one account described the odds at the 
crucial section of the front as ten to 
one — they bore the Irishmen out of 
the first line of trenches, though not 
before the darkness of the short win- 
ter's day had fallen. Under cover of 

the darkness the vanguard of the Tenth 
Division withdrew to a second line of 
trenches, and naturally suffered in the 
retirement. But next day, when again 
the Bulgarians attacked, the Irish Bri- 
gade could not be moved. They held 
their ground as long as it was neces- 
sary for the purposes of the French 
commander, who at the end of this 
three days' battle had withdrawn his 
men far enough south to be out of any 
danger of suffering from General Teo- 
doroff's strategy. It remained only to 
align the French and British troops, 
both falling back together, the British 
to their third position. The action 
had cost us 1500 men and eight guns, 
which had to be abandoned, but the 
French force was in safety, and the 
retreat of the combined armies could 
now proceed methodically and without 
risk. The Bulgarian losses, which were 
unofficially placed at 8000 men, were 

The Allies Fall Back on their Base 


certainly much higher than ours, be- 
cause they had to take risks in order 
to secure the great prize which would 
have fallen to them had Teodoroff's 
coup come off. On December 1 1 the 
retreat of the French was continued, 
protected by their rear-guards, to the 
line Smokvitza - Doiran, Next day 
they reached Ghevgeli, and the British 
troops, falling back with equal regu- 
larity and steadiness, recrossed the 
Greek frontier. By Christmas the 
Franco- British forces, each with a line 
of railway at its disposal, were within 
reach of their base at Salonika. 

Salonika in the winter of 191 5-6 
stood for many things to the Allies. 
It was duringr General Sarrail's fiohtinor 
retreat a haven ; and those who were 
ignorant of the French commander's 
ability and the forces at his disposal, 
or who were influenced by the loudly 
proclaimed intentions 
of the Germans and 
Bulgarians to hurl the 
British and French 
into the sea, hoped 
only that the Allies 
would be able to extri- 
cate themselves from 
a difficult position 
without loss. It is 
indeed possible that 
pusillanimity in high 
places fostered these 
fears. But the idea 
of abandoning the 
enterprise on which 
Sarrail had embarked 
never entered the 
heads of the French 
Higher Command for 
a moment, though in 

France, as in Britain, there were critics 
who condemned the. diversion of any 
considerable force from the Western 
front to the auxiliary expedition in the 
y^gean. General Joffre, however, 
held positive views, and even the Ge>" 
man attack on Verdun did not shake 
them, but, on the contrary, demon- 
strated their soundness. To him Salo- 
nika represented, not a haven, but a 
base for future operations which might 
find a joint in the defences of the Cen- 
tral Powers and their allies. That was 
one aspect of its military value, and 
was a preponderant one if ever the 
Bulgarian army was to be driven back 
from the country of the Serbians. 
There was another. Salonika was a 
combined naval and military base, 
which is to say it was a depot where 
forces could be assembled not merely 
to oppose the Bulgarian forces on their 


The Great World War 

front, but to threaten other vuhicrable 
points in Asia Minor or in Turkey. 
With Salonika and Alexandria in their 
hands, the Allies, possessing- as they 
did the command of marine communi- 
cations, were in this part of the field 
of warfare on interior lines. They 
could transfer troops across from one 
point to another on the shores of the 
Mediterranean — for example, from 


Approximate distances in English Statute miles 

Map illustrating the Strategic Importance of Salonika 

Salonika to the Gallipoli Peninsula, 
from Salonika to the Gulf of Alex- 
andretta, or from Alexandria to Sa- 
lonika — ten times more quickly than 
the enemy could tiansfer troops from 
any one ofv these points to another. 
Salonika anc\ Alexandria are only four 
days' steaming apart; possible points 
of attack on the; Turkish-Asiatic coast, 
Adalia and Alexxundretta, are three or 
four days from SaJonika, two or three 
days from Alexandria. The Turks 
would need as many weeks to reinforce 
their defences from . Constantinople. 


Salonika as a haven was of value; as 
a jumping-off place it was invaluable. 
It was from this aspect that it had 
to be considered ; but there were other 
considerations of a political and stra- 
tegic kind that could not be netjlected. 
The use of Salonika for purposes of 
military convenience by any belligerent 
Powers was a clear breach of neutrality, 
which Germany was not slow to point 
out, and of which Greece was uncom- 
fortably aware. The justification of- 
fered by the Allies was that the occu- 
pation of Salonika and of the railways 
and other communications leading from 
it to Macedonia was the necessary con- 
sequence of their endeavour to offer 
that help to Serbia which Greece had 
refused, and which she had been ex- 
pected by treaty to give. We say 
" expected ", because Greece denied 
that she' had been bound to give as- 
sistance to her ally, and Prince George 
of Greece, in a letter addressed to Lord 
Burnham, and published in the Daily 
Telegraph, declared that " neither the 
spirit nor the letter of the Greco- 
Serbian Treaty obliged Greece to 
intervene, while from a practical point 
of view it was obvious that such inter- 
vention would have brought about a 
disaster for Greece, while being- of no 
material benefit to Serbia ". But one 
clause of that treaty permitted to Serbia 
the use of communications with Serbia 
for re-munitionment or reinforcement. 
It was on this clause that the Allies 
relied. Pearlier in the war Serbia had 
been re-munitioned in this way, a fact 
to which Greece pointed in evidence 
of her sympathy and good faith. But 
the distance between re-munitionment 
and reinforcement when the reinforce- 

Greece and the Occupation of Salonika 


ment was effected by the troops, not 
of Serbia, but of other nations whose 
status certainly had no place in the 
Greco- Serbian Treaty, was a great 
deal in the letter, however little in the 
spirit; and Greece found herself in a 
humiliatinor and even in a danorerous 
position. She could not turn the 

that no Greek could regard with plea- 
sure and few would tolerate. More- 
over, as M. Venizelos pointed out in 
an article criticizing the attitude of 
King Constantine, it was certain that 
once the Bulgarians got into Greece 
they would never be got out again — 
at any rate by the Greeks. He might 

1^^***"" m I \^im»i 

Salonika during the Allies' Occupation: view along the quay, with a captured German aeroplane in the foreground 

Entente forces out, even if public feel- 
ing in Greece had supported the step; 
but while they remained she was ex- 
posed to charges from Germany and 
Austria of violating neutrality by shel- 
tering them. Logically she could not 
deny the right of Germany and Austria 
to invade her territory in order to 
throw the intruders into the sea, as 
they had threatened to do; but here 
again the prospect of welcoming the 
Bul^rarians over the border was one 

have added, though he did not, since 
the fact was so well known, that once 
Austria set foot in Salonika that useful 
port would be for ever lost to Greece. 
All that was left to Greece to do 
was to protest — which she did on every 
suitable occasion, and on some that 
were unsuitable — and, at first, to en- 
deavour to demonstrate to the French 
and P)ritish that they were unwelcome 
guests. These efforts were not entirely 
successful either from a diplomatic or 


The Great World War 

he French Command in the Balkans: General Sarrail and General Bailloud at Salonika 

from a practical point of view. On the 
point of diplomacy the Allies replied 
to the protests by pointing to Greek 
obligations to Serbia, and ultimately, 
when the question arose of transporting 
Serbian soldiers to the Salonika front, 
referred the Greek Government to the 
Serbian Government fo*- explanations. 
From a pract'c^i point of view the 
policy of pii- >ricks in which the Greeks 
were at first ''nclined to indulge had 
several drawb 'cks. If the Greeks per- 
sisted in regarding General Sarrail and 
the British as ci^^koos in the Salonika 
nest they found that the birds were 
rather pugnacious.i There was a dis- 
position to deny the^French troops the 
free use of railways\ General Sarrail 
retorted by blowing up a line of rail- 
way which hampered Hiis strategical 
dispositions. Salonika \vas a nest of 
spies; Sarrail arrested 3'^o of them, 

and deported the Bulgarian, Austrian, 
and other enemy legations. Rightly 
or wrongly the Greek islands were sus- 
pected of giving harbourage to German 
and Austrian submarines — it is only fair 
to say that Prince George of Greece 
denounced the suspicion as ridiculous, 
and pointed out that the coast of Africa 
and the Bulgarian coast near Enos af- 
forded the submarines sufficient shelter 
— but the Allied Fleets were able to 
blockade the whole of Greek shipping. 
It is not necessary to waste much sym- 
pathy on Greece at this period of her 
history, but commercially and politi- 
cally she stood to gain nothing and 
lost a good deal by the position in 
which she was placed, or by the atti- 
tude she felt herself forced to adopt. 
Salonika was, from its geographical 
position, of great value to the Allies, 
though not nearly of as great value as 


The Defences of Salonika 


its possession would have been to tlie 
enemy. The gulf is horseshoe shaped 
O, and therefore, though difficult to 
approach or to attack by sea, requires 
large forces to defend it on the land 
side, because these forces have to be 
spread out over lines covering the 
whole perimeter of the horseshoe and 
at some distance from it. With suf- 
ficiently numerous forces and with 
heavy guns its defences can be made 
very hard to approach. General Sar- 
rail, with General Mahon, converted 
its environs into a vast entrenched 
camp. On the west of Salonika, at a 
distance of 12 miles, flows the River 
Vardar, Sarrail's line of retreat from 
Macedonia. It is unfordable at all 
times of the year, with marshy banks 
extending" widely on either side of the 
stream and making the river a formid- 
able obstacle to any attack from the 
west. Eight miles north of the town 
rises the ridge of hills of which the 
highest and the middle point is Daud 
Baba. From this 1500-feet hill spurs 
run to the River Vardar on the west 
and towards Salonika on the south. 

It has been called the Achi Baba 
of Salonika, and was converted into 
a dominating citadel which covered 
the railway approaches from the north 
and the railway and road bridges over 
the Vardar. East of the Daud Baba 
position the ridges turn south-east to 
the Derbend heights. Through a gap 
here passes the road to Seres, and 
south of it the hills rise aoain and 
cover Salonika in a wide arc which 
curves round westward as it nears 
the gulf The average heioht of this 
range which protects the town on the 
east is about 1700 feet, but hills such 

as Beas Tash (2193 ^^^0 and Hortiach 
(3543 feet) are higher. From the 
mouth of the Vardar round the outer 
circle of defences resting on the posi- 
tions named is something over 70 
miles, a perimeter requiring close on 
a quarter of a million men for its 

But with such forces at the disposal 
of the commander defending^ it the 
Salonika position was a very hard 
nut for the Bulgarians to crack, even 
with the aid of such men as the 
Austrians, Turks, and Germans could 
spare to assist them. . On the west 
the combination of river and marsh 
offered difficulties similar to those 
which Hindenburg found in his at- 
tacks on Riga. On the north there 
was Daud Baba, which under General 
Sarrail's skilled direction became the 
equivalent of a modern fortress, and 
offered the Bulgarians the gloomy 
prospect of a Verdun if they should 
endeavour to storm it. On the east 
the defensive positions could be ap- 
proached only by a 20- mile gap be- 
tween the two lakes of Butkovo and 
Tachinos. A length of the River 
Struma ran the whole length of the 
gap from lake to lake, and was itself 
a strong defensible position. West of 
this gap were the forward slopes of 
the Krusha ridge on the north of the 
Seres road, and of the Beshik Dagh 
to the south of it. Artillery on these 
heights commanded the river. The 
river, the lakes, the hills made the 
Struma position a strong one, and with 
sufficient men a commander could 
easily close an approach to Salonika 
on this side. The weakness by which 
the attacking commander would be 


The Great World War 

hampered would be that of finding 
heights by which he could either 
dominate the defence or regulate his 
own artillery-fire. Between the four 
lakes, Doiran, Lano-aza, Tachinos, 
and Butkovo, the country had no 
roads. The railway to Dedeagatch 
from Salonika, which it was neces- 
sary that the Allies should keep under 
their control, takes a wide curve to 
the northward, away from the coast. 

Durino- the remainder of the winter 
and well into the spring of 191 6 General 
Sarrail continued to strenofthen these 
his Grecian lines of Torres Vedras, 
taking what military steps seemed neces- 
sary to him, and leaving the diploma- 
tists to settle the bill with the Greek 
Government. The position of ambi- 
guity into which Greece had been 
forced made these diplomatic confer- 
ences frequent. They occurred when 
new railway facilities were demanded, 
or when Sarrail, for strategic reasons, 
destroyed a length of the railway and 
the bridges at Demir Hissar and 
Kilindir (January 12), and they re- 
curred when raids were made on 
Salonika by enemy aeroplanes with 
the intention of damaging the Allied 
forces, but with the result of destroy- 
ing Greek property. A strong squad- 
ron of French aeroplanes sallied from 
Salonika from time to time to drop 
bombs on Monastir and to discover 
the dispositions of the Bulgarian forces, 
and a flight was made on one or more 
occasions as far as the Buloarian 
capital of Sofia, where, besides the 
regulation bomb, the aviator dropped 
leaflets to inform any Bulgarian in- 
habitants who were ionorant of the 
fall of Erzerum and Trebizond that 

such events cast their shadows before 
them. The Bulgarian or German 
aeroplanes which visited Salonika 
with intention of returning such mes- 
sages in kind were not very successful, 
for the struogle which the Germans 
maintained for the ascendancy of the 
air on the Western front monopolized 

Highlanders in the Balkans: a winter snap-shot in one 
of the British bivouacs 

their best machines and aviators, 
and a Zeppelin, which report said had 
been a present from the Kaiser to 
Ferdinand of Buloaria, was io^no- 
miniously brought down in the marshes 
of the Vardar, west of Salonika. 
These aerial exchanges and a con- 
tinued activity of patrol-work in the 
hills towards Doiran and the paths 
to Ghevgeli comprised the manifest 
operations during the early months of 

Position of the Central Powers 


1916; though throughout the period 
the arrangement and preparation of 
troops and the accumulation of sup- 
plies continued unostentatiously. 

It may be said that by the end of 
January the chances of success by the 
Bulgarians at Salonika had faded. 
They had pushed forward work on 
the railway, and had completed the 
length from Nish to Ghevgeli by mid- 
January, so as to secure supplies and 
ammunition, but they had not enough 
men for an attack. They had suffered 
heavily at the hands of the Serbians; 
part of their forces had been detached 
for pursuit of the Serbians in north- 
ern Albania, where Essad Pasha's 
levies gave a great deal of trouble, 
and until Roumania's attitude was 
defined the Bulgarian - Roumanian 
frontier could not be neglected. They 
may have had eight divisions left for 
attacking General Sarrail, but that 
was not enough without help from 
other quarters. Germany had not 
much to lend. They had possibly 
five divisions in Serbia, most of them 
diverted to garrison duty, for the task 
of holding down Serbia was at least 
as hard as holding down Belgium, 
and was performed with no less 
tyranny. Germany had also many 
calls on her for the operations she 
was projecting about Verdun. Aus- 
tria was preoccupied with subduing 
the Montenegrins, in overrunning 
Albania, in arranging to meet the 
Russian winter and early spring attacks 
in Bessarabia and about Czernowitz. 
Austria like Germany was further con- 
sidering an attack on the western 
group of the Allies. She was fiercely 
attacked by the Italians on the Isonzo 

front as soon as the Germans de- 
veloped their offensive at Verdun, and 
replied to this menace with a violent 
counter-thrust on the Italian hard- won 
Trentino positions. The Turks, after 
the evacuation of the Gallipoli Penin- 
sula by the Allies, had concentrated a 
force about Xanthi on the Greco- Bul- 
garian frontier, apparently with a view 
to advancinor on Salonika; but the series 
of defeats which began on January 8 
as the Russian Army of the Caucasus 
advanced into Armenia obliged them 
to turn their attention elsewhere. 
Thus the force available for an at- 
tack on Salonika amounted to about 
130,000 men, which was insufficient 
for the purpose. The Central Powers 
had to rest on the defensive therefore 
at this point and do the best they 
could to prosecute the campaign else- 
where while holding back the com- 
bined French, British, and Serbian 
forces from any attempt to reconquer 

The most effective step they took 
in support of this pohcy was that of 
overrunning Albania and Montenegro, 
whereby any prospect that the Italians 
could operate against their flank from 
this direction was removed. The re- 
treat of the Serbians through Albania 
could not be harassed by the pursuing 
forces to an extent overwhelmingly 
disastrous to the pursued, because the 
difficulties were alike for all who tra- 
versed the snow -clad mountains of 
Albania during the winter. But cold, 
and hardship, and hunger which ap- 
proached starvation took a heavy toll 
of the fugitives, as well as of those 
civilians who accompanied them and 
of the Austrian and Bulgarian pri- 


The Great World War 

soners whom they took with them. 
The passage of the Serbian army 
through Albania was one of the 
tragedies of the war. 

The almost inevitable corollary of 
Serbia's removal from effective action 
was the reduction of Montenegro. 
Montenegro had been one of the neg- 
lected, if not one of the negligible, 
factors of the war, till the end of 19 15. 
She was a poor country, not very well 
armed, badly provisioned, and without 
any such reserves of ammunition as 
were necessary for a prolonged war. 
It cannot be determined here, and will 
not be determined till long after the 
war is ended, what responsibility rested 
on Montenegro's declared allies for 
leaving her isolated for so long. It is 
certain, on the one hand, that a great 
deal of suffering was endured by the 
population, which was involuntarily 
reinforced by numbers of Bosnian re- 
fugees, and that the Austrians prose- 
cuted a rioforous blockade of the coast, 
including the port of Antivari, and 
raided Cettinje and the palace of King 
Nicolas by aeroplane. The impres- 
sion left on the mind of the uninformed 
and unprejudiced spectator was that 
Montenegro, being unable to take a 
vigorous part in the war, was neglected 
by her friends as well as by her ene- 
mies. Queen Elena of Italy is a 
princess of Montenegro, and Italy, 
especially, was reproached, and very 
unjustly reproached, for not coming 
to the rescue of her small beleaguered 
neighbour. But unless Italy had been 
in a position to send a very large army 
to Montenegro, and to employ a con- 
siderable portion of her iieet in guard- 
ing bases on both sides of the Adriatic, 

the expeditionary force would not have 
been of any use in protecting Monte- 
negro from invasion at the time when 
Austria was prepared to undertake it. 
The whole expeditionary force would 
have had to be expert at mountain 
warfare, bringing with it mountain 
guns and plenty of engineers, miners, 
and sappers. With only one small 
railway (from Antivari to Vir Bazar) 
and not a great number of carriage 
roads, a vast amount of hill transport 
would have been necessary. No doubt 
there would have been great political 
advantages in preserving Montenegro 
intact; but, so far as Italy was con- 
cerned, the Italian army had other and 
more indispensable strategical work to 
do. General Cadorna declined to be 
led into what is called by the expert 
an ancillary expedition, and by the 
public a side-show, and she was at 
least as well justified of her decision 
as either France or Britain. In short, 
Montenesfro was a sufferer from the 
"leave it to partner" policy which 
continually vitiated the Allied opera- 
tions during the first eighteen months 
of the war, but still more a sufferer 
from the fact that till the spring of 
1 9 16 the preponderance of military 
effectiveness rested with Germany and 
Austria. They could attack Monte- 
negro with much less difficulty than 
the allies of Montenegro could defend 
her, and while on the political side the 
subjugation of this small country could 
be exaggerated to a point of the highest 
impressiveness, on the strategical side 
it rounded off the conquest of Serbia, 
the overrunning of Albania, the exten- 
sion of the Austrian coast-line on the 
Adriatic, and some consequent increase 

Montenegro and the Serbians 


of Austria's ability to place obstacles not so single-minded, and it was urged 

in the way of Italian co-operation in with some show of reasonableness that 

the restoration of Serbia. King Nicolas, whose chief endeavour 

The political aspect of the failure had been always to preserve Monte- 

on the part of either Great Britain, negro from destruction, had been made 

Map showing the Lines of the Serbian Retreat to the Adriatic 

France, or Italy to intervene on Mon- 
tenegro's behalf may be left with the 
further observation that Montenegro's 
attitude was not without ambiguity. 
The Montenegrin people were at one 
with the Serbians and the cause which 
Serbia represented, but the Court was 

use of in order to adopt an attitude of 
acquiescence with Austrian designs. 

Before analysing this suggestion an 
account may be given of the extremely 
rapid campaign against Montenegro, 
which began with the capture of Mount 
Lovchen on January 10. Mount Lov- 


The Great World War 

chen dominates the bay and harbour 
of Cattaro from the MonteneQrin side, 
but from a military standpoint this is 
not a complete statement. If Mount 
Lovchen had been an overpowerino" 
menace to this great Austrian natural 
harbour the Austrians would hardly 
have spent millions in fortifying and 

value, Mount Lovchen was of little use 
to the Montenegrins and of little harm 
to the Austrians. Its capture was of 
value only because of its impressiveness, 
and it does not appear to have cost the 
Austrians much effort. According to 
Austrian accounts, the whole campaign 
against Montenegro was undertaken by 

Scutari, to which the Serbians eventually retreated through Northern Albania 

developing the indentations of the bay, 
the Bocche di Cattaro. But jutting out 
into the bay is Mount Vermats, which 
is the real dominating height, and this 
had already been strongly fortified by 
the Austrians against a possible attack 
from Mount Lovchen. If Mount Lov- 
chen had been furnished with Austrian 
guns, and had been converted into a 
Gibraltar, it would have compromised 
the defences of Mount Vermats. With- 
out such armament, and in fact possess- 
ing merely some old guns of doubtful 

Austro- Hungarian forces, and the ad- 
vance began on three sides at once. 
The principal attack was from the 
Bocche di Cattaro on Mount Lovchen, 
because Cettinje was only a short dis- 
tance away, and a blow struck there 
would reach the heart of the country. 
The Montenegrins, who had always 
reoarded Mount Lovchen as invulner- 


able, would, it was expected, regard 
this as the feint attack, and would oive 
their chief attention to other prepara- 
tions being made by the Austrians at 

The Montenegrin Collapse 


Avtovatz, Vilek, Cajnitza, and along grin mountaineers who knew every 

the Tara River, and especially around foot of it. But on the 9th the weather 

Berane. cleared, the guns of the fleet got to 

The Austrians were extremelyactive work, and were supported by Austrian 

about Berane, which they occupied after land batteries, and the attackers en- 

a struggle, and it seems justifiable to as- countered so little resistance that, ac- 

sume that the Montenegrins neglected cording to an Austrian officer, they 

to entrench themselves strongly or in called it a tourist excursion. On the 

considerable numbers on the Mount loth of January the mountain was 

Lovchen positions. Meanwhile the occupied; there was absolutely no 

Austrian Fleet in the Bay of Cattaro, hand-to-hand fighting; and the kind- 

The Defences of Scutari : the citadel, overlooking the lake 

which had enjoyed the opportunity for 
many months of ascertaining the correct 
ranges of forts on the mountain, waited 
until a clear day before attempting co- 
operation with the Austrian military 
forces. The day arrived on January 8, 
19 1 6, and the task of the soldiers 
proved a much easier one than had been 
anticipated. On the afternoon of the 
8th a violent snowstorm handicapped 
the bombardment by the fleet, and the 
attack was suspended, for it was feared 
that the infantry would lose their way 
on the unknown terrain and would fall 
into ambushes prepared by Montene- 

liest critic must acknowledge that the 
feat could only have been accomplished 
in face of the feeblest resistance by 
the defenders. The naval guns counted 
for something, but naval guns of greater 
calibre and numbers did not avail in 
Gallipoli. Mount Lovchen, which was 
expected to stand for months and exact 
a toll of men numbered by the ten 
thousand, fell without any resistance 
worthy of the name. The Austrian 
casualties were fifty-four killed and 

With Mount Lovchen in Austrian 
hands the road to Cettinje was open. 


The Great World War 

The capital fell without any fighting 
at all; the Austrians occupied Mon- 
tenegro, as one might say, before 
breakfast. The proceedings which 
followed justify the term of ambiguity 
which has been applied to them. After 
the fall of Mount Lovchen on January 
lo King Nicolas asked the Austrian 
commander for a truce, but was re- 
fused. News of the refusal was re- 
ceived at Cettinje that night, and the 
King and the civil authorities left for 
Podgoritza, with the exception of the 
Mayor and a Court official, who re- 
mained behind to hand over the town 
to the Austrians. The Austrians, ap- 
parently ignorant of the ease of their 
conquest, did not arrive till three days 
later, when a troop of about twenty 
men with a lieutenant rode in, and 
were followed by others later in the 

day. At about the same time emis- 
saries from King Nicolas returned. 

These emissaries, according to the 
accounts first circulated, were the 
bearers of a personal letter from 
King Nicolas to the Austrian Em- 
peror, which, after referring to the fall 
of the capital, asked for peace and a 
guarantee of the liberties of the Mon- 
tenegrin people. Next day, or the day 
after, the Austrian General of Divi- 
sion replied insisting on unconditional 
capitulation and disarmament. Ap- 
parently these terms were accepted on 
January i6, though they were after- 
wards modified to the point of allowing 
the Montenegrins to keep their own 
personal weapons, though not army 

But now a not unexpected difficulty 
arose. The negotiations, if not merely 

The Austrian Advance into Montenegro: the road from Mount Lovchen into 
King Nicolas's kingdom 

The Montenegrin Capitulation Rescinded 


Montenegro's Capiui 

^eneral view of Cettinje 

a ruse to oaln time, as was sug-oested 
in their defence, were not to the taste 
of the jMontenegrin people; they were 
abhorrent to many Montenegrin offi- 
cers. Some of them declared their 
intention of fiohtino- on, and Kino- 
Nicolas, whatever his original motives 
may have been, now withdrew from 
the negotiations, and, as far as he 
could do so, rescinded the capitula- 
tion. But in effect if not in name 
Montenegro disappeared froni the 
ranks of the fiohtino- nations, im- 
pelled by a necessity not less urgent 
than that which had afflicted Serbia, 
but which ory-ve her a orreat deal less 

the aspect of having heroically resisted 
it. Many of her soldiers never laid 
down their arms, but retired to join 
the Serbians making their way to 
Durazzo and Avlona (or Valona), which 
were the goals of the Serbian retreat. 
The Italian navy and other forces, with 
an efficiency and a gallantry beyond 
praise, held the way of retreat from 
Albania open; and by so doing pre- 
served a very large number of some 
of the best fighting-men in Europe, 
Serbians and Montenegrins, for war- 
fare in another theatre and on more 
fortunate occasions. 

E. S. G. 


185 186 


The Great World War 



(October, 191 5-January, 19 16) 

Canada's Roll of Honour — The Reputation of Princess Patricia's Own — Second Division at the 
Front — Winning their Spurs — "Cutting-out Expeditions" — Lieutenant-Colonel Odium's Model — Some 
of the Earlj' Raids — Keeping the Enemy Busy — A Chapter of Heroism — Christmas and the New Year 
on the Canadian Front— Daring Work of Patrols and Snipers — How Lieutenant Owen died — Grim 
Work in the German Trenches— Some Illustrious Visitors— Canada's Response to the King's Appeal for 
More Men — The Dominion's Share in the War. 

AFTER saving the situation in 
the first great gas attack at 
^ Ypres on April 22-23, 191 5, 
and bearing the brunt of some of the 
hardest fighting: in the Festubert 
region during the following May and 
June,^ the Canadians remained in the 
forefront of the fight on the Western 
front, though not again called upon to 
engage in any major operation before 
the end of that year. The glory of the 
First Division, which had resounded 
throughout the Empire, had been 
dearly won. By September 30, 191 5, 
little more than seven months after 
arriving at the front, its total casual- 
ties in killed, wounded, and missing 
amounted to 1 1,705, equal to nearly 50 
percentof the whole contingent. These, 
of course, were considerably added to 
in the deadly warfare of the trenches 
durino- the ensuino- months. The 
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light 
Infantry, who preceded the P^irst Divi- 
sion to France, arriving at the British 
front before the end of 19 14, had lost 
up to June 30 of the following year no 
fewer than 981 officers and men, in- 
cluding 253 killed and 631 wounded. 
This heroic regiment was afterwards 

' Vol. Ill, Chapters XI and XII. 

transferred to the Third Canadian 
Division, formed under the command 
of General Mercer towards the end of 
191 5 from troops already in France or 
at the training depots at Shorncliffe 
and Bramshott. On its departure 
from the 8oth British Brigade, to which 
it had previously been attached, the 
General Officer commanding that Bri- 
gade placed on record his "keen ap- 
preciation of the splendid services " 
rendered by the battalion. 

"The gallantry of the P.P.C.L.I. during 
the fighting at St. Eloi," he wrote, " and 
later during the second battle of Ypres, 
when the battalion hung on to their trenches 
with unparalleled tenacity and lost over 
75 per cent of their effectives, has won for 
them not only the admiration of their com- 
rades, but, when the history of the war is 
written, will earn for the regiment a reputa- 
.tion which will stand amongst the highest 
in the record of the exploits of the British 

Canadian Contingent 

The Second 
arrived at Shorncliffe a few weeks 
after the departure of the First Con- 
tingent for the front, and were inspected 
by the King on September 2, 191 5, 
before their departure for France. 
Here Lieutenant-General E. A. H. 

Canada's New Material 


Official Photojjiai.h. Crown Copyriglit ReberveJ 

King George and Canada's Second Canadian Division : the troops marching past His Majesty at the 

saluting point 

Alderson, C.B., who had greatly dis- 
tinguished himself in his leadership of 
the First Canadian Division, now as- 
sumed command of the Canadian Army 
Corps, the ist Division being placed 
under Major-General A. W. Currie, 
C.B., and the 2nd Division under 
Major-General R. E. W. Turner, V.C, 
C.B. The new Contingent won the 
warm approval of Lord French — Sir 
John French as he was at the time, 
"The material of which it is composed 
is excellent," he wrote in his dispatch of 
October 15, 1915, "and this Division 
will, I am convinced, acquit itself well 
in face of the enemy, as the ist Cana- 
dian Division has always done." Sir 
John was not mistaken. Though not 
put to the test of a decisive battle 
before the end of his command in 
France, the new-comers lived up to 
this high reputation in their cool cour- 
age in the firing line, and their dash 
and determination in the minor enoraore- 
ments in which they won their spurs. 
Many of them laid down their lives in 

these minor operations, thus helping 
to bind Canada and the British Empire 
together, in the words of the Field- 
Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, "with 
those indissoluble bonds which are 
forged on the field of battle ". 

The Canadians developed an auda- 
cious system of "cutting out" expedi- 
tions about this period, which relieved 
the monotony of the trench warfare 
through the winter, and helped to 
keep alive the offensive spirit of the 
Allies. Their night raid of November 
16-17 ^V'^^s not the first foray of the 
kind on the Western front, but the 
plan of attack on that occasion — made 
and also personally superintended by 
Lieutenant-Colonel Victor W, Odium, 
of the British Columbia Regiment — 
was so strikingly successful that 
it was described in French Army 
Orders and circulated to serve as a 
model. The attack was planned 
against two points in the enemy's 
front line near Messines, and for 
several days previously selected parties 


The Great World War 

of Colonel Odium's and another bat- 
talion underwent special training for 
the task. In his account of the 
raid Sir W. Max Aitken, M.P., de- 
scribes how, on the afternoon of the 
1 6th, the Canadian Artillery cut the 
German wire opposite the points of 
attack, also destroying it in other 

gallantry and resource not only during 
the cutting of the German wire, but 
also in superintending the laying of a 
bridge over the River Douve, not 
more than 16 yards from a heavily- 
manned German trench. It was a 
bright moonlight night, and it speaks 
volumes for the scoutcraft and cool- 

Official Photograph, Crown Copyright Reserved 

Canadian Infantry in a Wood at the Front 

places in order to put the enemy off 
the scent. Trees interfered somewhat 
with the wire -cutting operations in 
front of the Canadians, so some scouts 
were sent forward after dark to com- 
plete the work. These were under 
the command of Lieutenant William 
D. Holmes, who had distinguished 
himself by gallant conduct at Festubert 
in the previous May, and won the 
D.S.O. on the present occasion for his 

ness of these Canadians that they 
completed their task, after four hours' 
work, without attracting attention. All 
the volunteers of this daring party 
under Lieutenant Holmes — Sergeants 
H. Ashby and W. C. Meyerstein, 
Corporals Babcock, H. Odium, and 
K. Weir, and Private J. Berry — 
were subsequently rewarded with the 

Guided by these intrepid scouts at 

Lieutenant-Colonel Odium's Model 


2.30 on the following morning, the 
Canadians' storming-party, consisting 
of Brigade bombers under Captain 
C T, Costigan and riflemen under 
Lieutenants A. Wrightson and J. R. 
M'lllree, reached the parapet of the 
nth Prussians by the Petite Douve 
Farm unobserved. The weather had 
changed, a heavy rainstorm blowing 
as Captain Costigan and Lieutenant 
M'lllree led their bombing parties 
into the enemy's trench, Lieutenant 
M'lllree throwinor down the first Ger- 
man he met and felling the second 
with his rifle. Joined by his bomb- 
ing party he then led them along the 
trench and communicating trenches, 
all heavily manned by the enemy. 
Captain Costigan had meantime led 
his bombers in another direction, shoot- 
ino- with his revolver the first three 
Germans he met. Many of the enemy 
were bombed or bayoneted in this wild 
night's adventure, and twelve prisoners 
were taken. Touch was maintained 
throughout by telephone with Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Odium in the Canadian 
front-line trench, and as soon as the 
raiders had discovered all they were 
sent to find out they were recalled by 
prearranged signals, returning with 
their prisoners with the loss of one man 
accidentally killed and one wounded. 
Lieutenant Wrighlson, who displayed 
the utmost coolness and judgment 
throughout, and received the Military 
Cross, was the last man to leave the 
trench after giving the order to re- 
tire. Captain Costigan and Lieutenant 
M'lllree were rewarded with the 
D.S.O., and Sergeant A. Robertson 
and Corporal A. K. Curry the D.C.M. 
The other battalion's party, under 

Lieutenants J. E. Purslow and K. T. 
Campbell, had been less fortunate, a 
deep ditch 1 2 feet wide checking the ad- 
vance right in front of the enemy's para- 
pet. The ditch, which was shoulder 
high with water, was entered by both 
officers, but the bottom was found 
entangled with barbed wire, and all 
efforts to overcome this obstacle proved 
fruitless. The Canadians at this point, 
therefore, had to content themselves 
with bombing from positions close to 
the ditch, returning safely to their 
trenches after causing casualties among 
the enemy. Throughout the operation 
the Canadian artillery kept the enemy 
in the adjoining trenches at a respect- 
ful distance, and as soon as the party 
returned played havoc among the 
German reinforcements sent post-haste 
from all directions. The enemy was 
obviously nettled at this surprising 
coi//>, and in his official "wireless" 
accorded it the dignity of an attack in 
force, which had been repulsed. So 
far was this from being the truth that 
the British Field- Marshal Command- 
ing-in-Chief sent a special message 
congratulating the Canadians on the 
success of the enterprise, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Odium also receiving the 

To the cunning of the backwoods- 
man was added the craft of the Indian 
frontiersman, one of tiie officers ot 
the Gurkha Rifles, Captain Andrew 
H. Jukes, being attached to the staff 
of a Canadian infantry brigade to 
assist in the training of its scouts. His 
skill and initiative were responsible 
for much of their excellent work — in- 
cluding a number of enterprises against 
the enemy's trenches, which were 


The Great World War 

crowned with marked success — and 
were rewarded with, the D.S.O. 

It was no joke to be stationed op- 
posite to these resourceful, devil-may- 
care Canadians, as the Prussians found 
to their cost. Shortly after the raid 
on the Petite Douve Farm, one of the 
Canadian patrols at night discovered 
an unexploded 4.5 shell between the 
front trenches. The shell was placed 
under the enemy's parapet and deto- 
nated with gun-cotton, causing no little 
damage in the process. The Canadian 
artillery also bore witness to the 
gradual growth of the dominant spirit 
in the British trenches. Sometimes 
the wire would be cut by the artillery 
in order to produce the impression of 
an impending attack and keep the 
enemy in a state of needless tension. 
On one such occasion described by 
Sir Max Aitken the bombardment so 
demoralized the Germans that some 
of them bolted from their trenches, 
only to be caught in the open by our 
shrapnel and machine-gun fire. "In 
one place," he adds, " apparently under 
the belief that an assault had taken 
place, the German artillery opened fire 
on their own front-line trenches and 
practically destroyed one of their own 
strong positions. A considerable por- 
tion of the enemy's front-line trenches 
was evacuated during the bombard- 
ment, and only reoccupied after dusk 
with great precaution." 

Other typical examples of Canadian 
grit and initiative may be mentioned 
here, though they rightly belong to 
the previous month's record. While 
the Germans were delivering their 
oreat counter-attack at Loos on the 
8th of October, the enemy facing a 

Canadian battalion near Wytschaete 
exploded a number of mines, and 
advanced with the object of occupy- 
ing the craters. Lieutenant A. W 
Northover was buried under the debris 
in the Canadian trench, but imme- 
diately on being dug out assumed con- 
trol, and took steps to deny to the 
advancing enemy any foothold in the 
craters. "His prompt action and gal- 
lant example ", says the Gazette in 
announcing his award of the Military 
Cross, "went a long way towards 
successfully coping with a difficult and 
dangerous situation." The D.C.M. 
was won on this occasion by Private 
H. B. Compton, of the same battalion, 
who, on being dug out from the 
wreckage with his officer, immediately 
volunteered to assist in bombino^ the 
enemy back, afterwards helping to 
recover four other men under heavy 
fire who had been buried by the ex- 
plosion. " Throughout the action his 
courage, resource, and devotion to 
duty were most marked." 

Five days later came the blood- 
ing of a new infantry battalion in an 
attack on the German crater in front 
of their lines, when both sides lost 
heavily, though the enemy's casualties 
were estimated as four times those of 
the Canadians. 

" It was their first real baptism of fire," 
wrote Lieutenant H. W. Ferguson in a 
letter home quoted in Canada, " though 
we had been in it a little before, and the 
men, every one, stood up to it like old 
veterans. It would have done your heart 
good to have seen those men under shell- 
fire that at times seemed almost as though 
nothing human could exist under such a 
hail of hurling metal. . . . Many heroic 
deeds were done that day. All the wounded 

Heroic Work of Rescue 


were brought in by our fellows, only the 
dead remainingoutside our parapets. These 
v/ere brought in as well under cover of 
darkness that night. The spirit of the men 
is wonderful through it all." 

.Sergeant W. C. Ryer, of this bat- 
talion, here won his D. C. M. by 

Map showing approximately the British Line between 
Ypres and Armenti^res, and the Scene of the Canadiau 
Fighting during the winter of 1915-16 

carrying another sergeant, who was 
mortally wounded, until his comrade 
died, and then returning to the crater 
and, with the assistance of another 
Canadian, carrying back a second. It 
was a fine example of heroism, per- 
formed under a heavy cross-fire from 
machine-ofuns and rities. Similar de- 

votion and bravery were displayed 
just a week later by Company Ser- 
geant-Majors J." D. Matheson and 
B. Benton, and Private J. Donaghue, 
all of another Canadian battalion, at 
Wulvero^hem, near Messines. Mathe- 
son had been out with a patrol when 
two of his men were wounded, and as 
these could not be located owinor to 
the enemy's heavy fire he led the 
remainder of his party back to their 
lines, afterwards crawling out alone 
along the enemy's wire searching for 
his missing comrades. Apparently 
this gallant attempt failed, but it fully 
earned the D.C.M. subsequently 
awarded for it. Benton and Donaofhue 
were similarly decorated for volunteer- 
ing to make a second and, as it proved, 
more successful attempt. They crawled 
out some three hundred yards, found 
one of the wounded men in a shell- 
hole near the German wire, and, after 
his wounds had been dressed by 
Company Sergeant - Major Benton, 
Donaghue crawled in with him on his 
back, guided by the sergeant-major. 
They, too, received the D.C.M., also 
richly deserved before the end of the 
month in the same district by Private 
G. L. Eastman, of another Canadian 
battalion, as officially recorded in the 
London Gazette as follows: — 

" When on sentry duty in the front-line 
trenches he saw a German bomb coming 
into the trench. It would have fallen into 
a dug-out in which were two of his com- 
rades, but he dashed forward, caught the 
bomb, and hurled it over the parapet, when 
it immediately exploded. Private East- 
man's cool daring and presence of mind 
probably saved the lives of his two com- 


The Great World War 

Such deeds were common to all 
parts of the British front, but they 
deserve to be remembered as well 
as the more sanguinary records of the 
night forays with which this chapter 
of Canadian courage is largely con- 
cerned. Here is another typical in- 
stance of the dare-devil spirit which 
animated these Dominion troops, 
whether in the work of rescuino- their 
own men or killing the Germans. It 
belongs to the story of their minor oper- 
ations in October, 19 15. Lieutenant 
J. G. Anderson and Private A. H. V. 
Whyte, both of the same battalion, 
went out to explore a German sap 
near Messines, the officer entering 
the sap itself and the private creeping 
along the edge. They met and shot 
two Germans, exchanged shots with 
three others, and returned with the 
rifles of the men they had killed. 
" Next day ", says the Gazette in 
recording the award of the Military 
Cross to Lieutenant Anderson and the 
Distinguished Conduct Medal to Pri- 
vate Whyte, "they returned to the 
sap and attacked another body of 
Germans, who retired, leaving a cloak, 
some bombs, a periscope, &c., behind". 
These they brought in, together with 
much valuable information. About a 
week later Private Whyte ventured 
for a third time into the same sap, 
accompanied by two others, and, 
though heavily bombed by the Ger- 
mans, did not return until further 
useful information had been secured. 

It was this Canadian battalion 
which had been checked by the enemy 
in the " cutting out " expedition on 
November 16-17, ^^^^ I'x^^v distin- 
guished itself in the attack on the 

advanced German barricade on the 
Messines Road in the early hours ot 
December 15. A week or two pre- 
viously our artillery fire had felled a 
large tree between the opposing lines, 
and this had fallen across the road 
about 100 yards from the Canadian 
lines. Quick to take advantage of 
this, the enemy had reached it by saps, 
and gradually converted it into a dan- 
oerous barricade. One nioht Lieuten- 
ant John Gait, of Strathcona's Horse 
— son of the President of the Union 
Bank of Canada, and oTeat-orrandson 
of John Gait, the Scottish novelist — 
had crawled out with fourteen men 
to take it by assault and blow it up, 
but the Germans in possession were 
ready with bombs and bullets, and the 
attack, though most gallantly delivered, 
failed. Lieutenant Gait and two others 
being afterwards reported missing, and 
eio^ht of the survivors returninof 
wounded. The battalion referred to 
prepared for their assault on the 15th 
of December with preliminary scout- 
ing and reconnoitring, which served 
them m good stead at the critical 
moment. The barricades were also 
shelled on several occasions, especially 
in the early morning of the 15th, when 
a number of direct hits were recorded. 
Two assaulting parties, one under 
Lieutenant K. T. Campbell, and the 
other under Lieutenant K, A. Ma- 
haffy, then advanced towards the barri- 
cade, supported by a third party under 
Lieutenant E. H. Latter, the whole 
under the command of Captain E. C. 
Jackson. Against this concerted attack 
the German garrison had no chance, 
and the barricade was soon in the 
Canadians' hands, the survivors being 

Winter in Flanders 


< ttTi lal Photograph Crown Cop> r 

ke.idy to kepel an Attack: Canadian infantry in the trenches wearing the new steel helmets 

sent back to the British Hues. A heavy 
machine - gun and artillery fire was 
opened by the enemy on the captured 
position, but the Canadians returned 
safely to their lines at daybreak, their 
only casualties being Lieutenant Camp- 
bell and one man, both slightly 
wounded. Captain Jackson, who com- 
manded the attack with great dash 
and determination, received the D.S.O. 
for this exploit; and Lieutenant Camp- 
bell, who had also distinguished him- 
self in the " cutting out" expedition of 
November 16-17, the Military Cross. 
The D.C.M. was won on the same 
occasion by Sergeant J. S. INLGlashan, 

who accounted for five Germans as 
they were making for cover; and by 
Privates J. H. Lindsay and R. A. 
Coles, for conspicuous gallantry dur- 
ing the attack. 

Winter had now settled down in 
earnest in Flanders. The rains trans- 
formed the roads into quagmires, and 
much of the low- lying ground into 
swamps of mud, which put an end for 
a time to military activity on both 
sides, apart from the ceaseless mining 
and sniping and occasional artillery 
duelling which continued from one end 
of the line to the other. Large work- 
ing parties were kept busy during 


The Great World War 

December reclaiming and improving 
the Canadian trenches, which were 
rendered as comfortable as experience 
and hard work could make them. 
One general who passed through them 
told the Canadians that they were the 
best in the line. 

Christmas week was particularly 
quiet, and Christmas Day itself was 
the finest day of the month. There 
was no repetition this year of the re- 
markable scenes during the unofficial 
truce of Christmas 19 14. The sink- 
ing of the Lnsitania, the murder of 
Nurse Cavell, and countless other 
German crimes committed in the name 
of war, had changed all that. Sir 
Max Aitken, in mentioning that several 
small parties of the enemy endeavoured 
to fraternize with the Canadians on 
Christmas Day, 191 5, adds laconically: 
"They were dispersed by our fire". 
The only other intercourse was on 
Christmas night, when a patrol of the 
3rd Canadian Infantry Brigade en- 
countered a large enemy party near 
the German lines and exchanged 
bombs with them. Although subse- 
quently fired on by machine-guns, the 
Canadian patrol returned safely. 

On New Year's Eve the Germans 
made other attempts to arrange a 
truce at various points on the Dominion 
front. In one case they went so far as 
to mount their parapets at daybreak on 
January i and shout across to the op- 
posing trenches: "New Year Greet- 
ing!" But the Canadians were not 
taking any risks with men whose re- 
cord for treachery, apart from their 
record for " frightfulness ", was so 
black that none could safely trust 

" In all cases", writes Sir Max Aitken, 
" the enemy was arrested by machine-gun 
and rifle-fire, while batteries were also called 
into action. This ended the overtures of 

The same official "eye-witness" 
added that in spite of the wintry con- 
ditions the health of the troops re- 
mained excellent. " Inspired by the 
o^lorious record of Canadian arms in 
the past year, and cheered by mes- 
sages from home " — a daily cable ser- 
vice from Canada having just been 
inaugurated by the Canadian Govern- 
ment — " all ranks are welcoming the 
New Year with unflinching spirits and 
an unshaken confidence in approach- 
ing victory." 

Patrols and snipers continued with 
the ounners to share most of the 
enterprise along the fronts of both the 
First and Second Canadian Divisions 
during the first month of 19 16. One 
of the patrols of French- Canadians, 
under Lieutenant George Vanier, 
distinguished itself on the night of 
January 2-3 by blowing up a small 
house behind the German wires and 
quite close to the enemy front-line 
trenches. The building was known 
to be fortified; whether it was still 
occupied by the enemy remained to 
be seen. It needed the spirit of the 
trapper to cut through the heavy 
wire surrounding this "shack", and to 
creep right into it without arousing the 
enemy's suspicions; but the French- 
Canadians, who were accompanied 
by a corporal of a field company 
of Engineers, succeeded not only in 
doing this, but also in removing the 
steel loop -plates and sending them 

How Lieutenant Owen Died 


back to the Canadian lines. As it 
happened the building was found un- 
occupied, and was prepared for demo- 
lition without attracting attention from 
the neighbouring German trenches. 
A charge of gun-cotton was laid, and 
successfully exploded by electricity as 
soon as the patrol had safely returned 

Official Photograph. 

Within Fifty Yards of the German Lines: lunch in the Canadian trenches 

the enemy were seen to fall. When all the 
bombs carried by our scouts had been 
thrown, Lieutenant Owen ordered them to 
retreat. He said, ' I am coming right after 
you ', and remained firing his revolver at 
the Germans to cover the retreat of his 
men. After a Httle while, as he did not 
appear. Corporal Weir and Sergeant Ashby 
returned to look for him. The Germans 
had moved off, leaving 
their wounded on the 
c^'^round. Lieutenant Owen 
was found lying shot 
through the head. Be- 
tween them these two 
men, who had accom- 
panied the officer on so 
many of their dangerous 
enterprises, carried him 
back to their trench, 
where shortly afterwards 
he died. Among those 
Avho have most distin- 
guished themselves in 
the dangerous work of 
scouting and patrolling 
' No Man's Land ' none 
has been more conspicu- 
ous than Lieutenant 

to their trenches. The whole inci- 
dent was typical of the daring work 
which gave the Canadians complete 
ascendancy at this period in scouting 
and patrol work along their front. It 
was an ascendancy won by such men 
as Lieutenant H. H. Owen, of the 
British Columbia Battalion, who fell 
in the following circumstances, as re- 
lated by Sir Max Aitken: — 

" While out between the trenches with 
three battalion scouts, Lieutenant Owen 
encountered a patrol of fifteen Germans 
and immediately gave fight. Bombs were 
thrown and revolvers freely used. Four of 

He was the only son 
of the Rev. C. C. Owen, rector of 
Christ Church, Vancouver — himself 
serving at the front as chaplain to one 
of the Canadian battalions — and had 
been recommended seven times for 
exceptional bravery in action. 

The snipers of both divisions also 
did excellent work. Unfortunately 
some of their best men were lost in 
the course of this month by shell- 
fire. Among these was Sniper Patrick 
Riel — a relative of the famous rebel, 
Louis Riel — who had been among the 
first to join the colours at the out- 
break of war, having served with a 


The Great World War 

Canadian battalion since formation 
in August, 1 9 14. He had earned a 
reputation as one of the best snipers 
in the 2nd Brigade, and had twenty- 
nine Germans to his credit before 
being killed by shell-fire on January 14, 
1 9 16. Ten days before this the same 
battalion lost another of its crack shots 
— Sniper Macdonald, who, all told, had 
accounted for no fewer than forty-two 
of the enemy — also killed by shell-fire. 
The month of January, 19 16, closed 
with a gallant cutting-out expedition 
by parties of the North -West and 
Vancouver Battalions which took the 
enemy completely by surprise in two 
of the most strongly fortified sections 
of the German front line. Lieutenant 
L. A, Wilmot, of one of these batta- 
lions, who had previously been under 
heavy fire for several hours superin- 
tending the hazardous preliminary 
work of cuttino- lanes throucrh the 
German wire, led one party of thirty 
men, accompanied by Lieutenants 
Nigel E. O'Brian and G. L. Gwyce, 
of the same battalion. Creeping 
stealthily through the wire at 2.30 
a.m., the Canadians reached the 
enemy's parapet just as two German 
sentries, patrolling up and down the 
trench, met and exchanged greetings. 
As the men turned, the leading Cana- 
dians jumped clown on them, and in 
the struQTole both sentries were killed. 
Then, bombing and bayoneting their 
way down the trench, the raiders 
accounted for about twenty more of 
the enemy, destroyed a machine-gun 
and its emplacement, and after seven 
breathless minutes returned in triumph 
with a German under-officer — wearing 
the Iron Cross, and armed with a saw- 

edged bayonet and a revolver with 
flat-nosed bullets — and two other 
prisoners. Though wounded in the 
attack, Lieutenant Wilmot, who after- 
wards received the Military Cross, 
superintended the withdrawal of his 
party, two other members of which 
were slightly wounded. Lieutenant 
O'Brian, who personally killed several 
of the Germans and took others 
prisoners, was also decorated with the 
Military Cross. 

The second party in this grim ex- 
pedition was under Captain Duncan 
E. Maclntyre and Captain Kenneth 
C. C. Taylor, who, on creeping warily 
forward, found their section of the 
enemy's trench crowded with Ger- 
mans. The first to jump over the 
German parapet was Captain Mac- 
lntyre, who led the way after personal 
reconnaissance, and acted throughout 
with the greatest promptness and 
dash. In the savaoe firrhtinor which 

r^ o o 

followed, some thirty of the enemy 
were killed or wounded, and another 
machine-gun and emplacement de- 

"Captain Taylor", writes Sir Max Aitken, 
" was wounded in the leg by the explosion 
of the bomb just as he was jumping into 
the enemy trench. In subsequent fighting 
he killed at least five of the enemy with his 
revolver, and when his ammunition was 
exhausted threw his revolver at another 
German and stunned him. He then seized 
the bayonet of a dead German and killed 
another one with it. During the fight he 
received a bullet wound in the shoulder and 
several bomb wounds in the back. Alto- 
gether Captain Taylor was wounded in 
eight places, but in spite of this he walked 
back unaided to our lines." 

He was rewarded with the D.S.O. 

The "Fighting Tenth 


also conferred upon Captain Mac- 
Intyre, who later, in the words of the 
Gazette, "showed great coolness and 
presence of mind in the selection of a 
suitable line of retirement ". Three 
prisoners had been taken in the course 

Official Photograph Crown Copyriglit l;'j ,_:.-: 

Lieutenant Kent receiving the Military Cross 

of this raid, but two of these were 
killed in the trench by the enemy's 
bombs, and the third was similarly 
accounted for as he was being hauled 
over the parapet. Our own casualties 
in this party, in addition to Captain 
Taylor, were one man killed and five 
wounded — two mortally. The plan 
adopted was very similar to that of the 

cutting- out jxpedition organized by 
Lieutenant-Colonel Odium in the pre- 
vious November. Both parties carried 
telephones into the German trench, and 
maintained touch throughout with bat- 
talion head-quarters. "In each case", 
adds Sir Max, "the signal for artillery 
fire was given by the last man to leave 
the German trenches, and within a few 
seconds heavy artillery and trench mor- 
tar fire was opened on the enemy's 
lines." This fire must have taken 
heavy toll of the enemy's reinforce- 
ments, who were rushing up at the 
time from the support trenches. 

Another Canadian battalion, which 
has distinguished itself at Ypres, Fes- 
tubert, and Givenchy, also shared in 
these "strafing" expeditions. Lieu- 
tenant A. S. Trimmer, of this bat- 
talion, won the Military Cross for 
gallantry displayed in leading one 
party of bombers through the Ger- 
man wire and inflictinof severe loss on 
the enemy. Although wounded, he 
remained behind till all his men had 
safely withdrawn. The same decora- 
tion was awarded to Lieutenant Lewis 
Younger, who commanded the men 
covering the wire-cutting party which 
prepared the way for the assault, and 
subsequently led one of the bombing- 
parties with conspicuous bravery up 
to the enemy's trenches. He per- 
sonally accounted for several of the 
enemy. Yet another officer of the 
same battalion to earn the Military 
Cross at this period was Lieutenant 
Stanley H. Kent, who similarly dis- 
tinguished himself both in raiding the 
enemy's trenches and in leading daring" 
reconnaissances between the lines. 
Seroeant E. R. Milne, also of the 


The Great World War 

same battalion, who had been 
awarded the D.C.M. in the Gazette of 
January 14, 19 16, for a series of most 
gallant exploits, now earned the rarer 
distinction of a clasp to that decoration 
in one of these "cutting-out" expedi- 
tions. Thouoh four times wounded 
on this occasion, he led the attacking 
party through the enemy's wire, and 
remained with his men throughout 
with the greatest determination. 

It was towards the end of this 
month of January, 19 16 — on the 
27th, to be exact — that the Prince of 
Wales visited the Canadian Corps. 
His Royal Highness inspected sec- 
tions of the front trenches of both the 
First and Second Divisions, as well 
as all the Divisional and Brigade 
Head-quarters. Two days later fol- 
lowed Mr. Bonar Law, the British 
Colonial Secretary, himself Canadian 
born, who also visited the Dominion 
Head-quarters, and witnessed a review 
of the Alberta Battalion. After the 
march past and a brief address by the 
Colonial Secretary, General Turner 
read an Order of the Day recounting 
the courag-eous deed of Private A. H. 
Jackson, of this battalion, on January 
II, when a large mortar shell had 
fallen in the midst of a party of men 
with whom he was working in one of 
the trenches. Knowing how dan- 
onerous and destructive were these 
shells, and realizing how little time 
there was for any oT them to escape. 
Private Jackson had instantly thrown 
himself on the shell, at the risk of 
being blown to fragments, and seizing 
the burning fuse had wrenched it out 
in the nick of time. It was a deed 
worthy of Lieutenant Smith, V.C., 

whose sacrifice of his life in savins;' his 
comrades in a similar crisis in the 
Dardanelles had been made the sub- 
ject of a Special Order to the loth 
French Army, as stated on p. 41. 

A similar act won the Distinouished 
Conduct Medal for Private W. B. 
Harris of one of the Vancouver bat- 
talions, and was described as follows 
by Sir Max Aitken: — 

" Private Harris was attending the Gren- 
ade School in December, and while throw- 
ing a live bomb slipped and fell. The bomb 
rolled into a trench in which a number of 
men were standing. All of these, except 
one, were able to gain cover. Harris, who 
saw that this man was unable to move, flung 
himself without hesitation on top of the 
bomb in an effort to save his comrade. 
Almost immediately the bomb exploded. 
Harris was very seriously injured and the 
other man's leg broken. Both men are 
reported to be doing well." 

Spurred by the heroism of her 
soldiers, and fully alive to the formid- 
able nature of the task ahead, the 
Dominion Government answered the 
King's stirring appeal for more men 
by increasing her promised contribu- 
tion first to 250,000, and then, on the 
first day of 19 16, to 500,000 troops. 
This last magnificent response was 
announced by Sir Robert Borden, the 
Prime Minister, in his New Year 
message to the people of the Do- 

" Much ", he said, in making this an- 
nouncement, " has had to be learned during 
the past fifteen months, because we were 
not prepared for this war. The strongest 
assurance of ultimate victory lies in the fact 
that we were not crushed. In learning that 
hard lesson those who forced this war upon 
us may be assured by the traditions of our 

Canada's Unflinching Resolve 


past that the lesson will be thoroughly 
learned, to the end that there shall be an 
enduring peace. The very character and 
greatness of the ideals for which we are 
fighting forbid us to pause until their 
triumph is fully assured. . . . Yesterday 
the authorized forces of Canada numbered 
250,000, and the number of enlisted was 
rapidly approaching that limit. To-da}-, 
the first day of the New Year, our autho- 
rized force is 500,000. This announcement 
is made in token of Canada's unflinching 
resolve to crown the justice of our cause 
with victory and an abiding peace." 

Canada was also doing her share in 
the manufacture of munitions, orders 
to the value of over $300,000,000 
having been placed in the Dominion 
up to the end of 19 15, fully employing 
some 100,000 skilled w^orkmen. The 
work was carried out under the super- 
vision of an Imperial Munitions Board, 
which superseded the original Do- 
minion Shell Committee, and was re- 
sponsible to the British Minister of 
Munitions. Altogether it was estimated 
that the total war orders undertaken 
in Canada up to the end of 191 5 
amounted to about $1,000,000,000. 
The Dominion's help in the matter 
of food supplies was also invaluable. 
The crop was not only the largest on 
record, but of an exceptionally fine 
quality. While thus increasing the 
production in agricultural supplies and 
munitions of war, every endeavour 
was made to practise economy among 
the people, with the result that the 
heavy adverse balance of trade which 
had faced Canada for many years was 
completely reversed, exports now 
greatly exceeding imports. 

The financial resourcefulness of the 
Dominion was so remarkable as to be 

described by one journal, the Toronto 
Daily Nezvs, as " The Canadian 
Miracle". For years before the out- 
break of the war, it was pointed out, 
Canada had financed a great national 
development largely with the aid of 
annual borrowings in the British mar- 
ket, and grave fears for the future 
were expressed by Canadian financiers 
now that their chief monetary prop 
was in danger of being suddenly 
knocked from under them. Eighteen 
months of war not only proved these 
fears groundless, but converted the 
Doininion from a condition of depen- 
dence to one in which she could lend 

"At the end of 1913 no sane person 
would have believed such a transformation 
possible under any conceivable circum- 
stances. With the aid of a providentially 
large crop Canada has achieved the im- 
possible. A country which thought it could 
not manage without $300,000,000 a year 
from the Mother Country is actually loan- 
ing the Imperial Treasury money to finance 
war orders on this side of the Atlantic. 
As the Finance Minister has said, this loan 
of 350,000,000 and the promise of a further 
loan of 875,000,000 to the British Govern- 
ment by Canadian bankers must be accepted 
as marking a new epoch in the financial 
history of the Empire. To that extent for 
the time being the Dominion has' been 
changed from a debtor into a creditor 
nation. There is no exaggeration in say- 
ing that a miracle has thus been wrought 
before our eyes." 

Canada, therefore, at the beginning 
of 19 1 6 was immeasurably stronger 
than ever, both as a nation within 
itself and as a nation within the 

F. A. M. 


The Great World War 



(November, 191 5-March, 19 16) 

Winter in the Fighting Line — Brilliant Exploit of Somerset Light Infantry — How Colonel Howard 
Died — "Winter Sports" in Full Swing — Some of the Cutting-out Expeditions — Among the Fighting 
Patrols — Our 3rd Army below Arras — Operations of the ist and 2nd Armies — Gallant Exploits of Guards 
and " Die-hards" — Heroic Work round Ypres — Four V.C.s — Yorkshire Grit — Sir Douglas Haig on the 
Winter Campaign — Developments of the War in the Air — Thrilling Aerial Feats of Lieutenant Insall and 
Captain Loraine — Other Heroes of the Royal Flying Corps — Christmas and New Year in the Trenches 
— The Carol of the Guns — Memorable Visit of a Naval Party — How the "Handy Men" Rose to the 
Occasion — New Year Greetings between the Allied Armies and Rulers — Early Operations of 1916 — 
German Preparations for Verdun — Feint Assaults on the British Front — Renewed Attacks round Ypres — 
The Battle for the Bluff — Lost and Won again — Ready for the Next Great Round. 


N an earlier chapter some mention 
was made of the vital changes 
the French and British 


Higher Commands, and the proper 
co-ordination of Allied strategy, which 
brought the year 191 5 to a close and 
marked an epoch in the history of the 
Great World War, but something yet 
remains to be written of the men in 
the fighting line during this otherwise 
indecisive period. The story of most 
of the British front closely resembles 
that which has just been recorded of 
the lively section held by the Canadians 
in Flanders. Winter again brought 
rain and mud and relative stagnation 
all along the line, but, though no great 
offensive was attempted by either 
army, the daily and nightly struggle 
went on unceasingly, w'ith greater or 
less intensity according to local cir- 
cumstances. The Germans, unfortu- 
nately, still held their points of vantage 
on superior ground, and took remorse- 
less toll with their artillery. Our 
troops, however, were no longer at a 
disadvantage from lack of sfuns and 
munitions, and had longr since estab- 

lished their individual supremacy. 
"When all this deadly mechanical 
trickery of war can be swept aside, 
and the Briton meets the German as 
man to man," as one of our officers 
wrote at the time, " the German 
scurries away, and does not make 
any pretence of equality." This was 
apropos of what the officer called "a 
jolly little raid in the Huns' trenches" 
by a company of a new regiment 
"from the hearty, wholesome West 
of England ", led by their colonel, 
who, though begged not to accompany 
them, insisted on doing so. The 
commanding officer was Lieutenant- 
Colonel Lewis C. Howard, who, with 
several of his brother officers, was 
decorated for a successful raid on the 
German trenches near Armentieres 
during the night of December 15-16, 
1915. The first news which the 
enemy had of their arrival on this 
occasion was when Second- Lieutenant 
¥. D. Withers, in command of the 
leading company, leapt into the trench 
and shot down the sentry with his 

Lieutenant- Colonel Howard and the Somersets 


" Then," writes the officer in tiie letter 
referred to, pubh'shed in the Morning Post, 
" h'ke a huge Rugby rusli on the l:)al], the 
English soldiers were over the German 
parapet, their colonel at their head, shout- 
ing gaily, cheering, shooting. The Huns 
would not make a fight of it. Most of 
them scurried away like frightened rabbits 
to the communication trenches. Others 

Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis C. Howard, Somerset Light 
/nfantry, decorated for a brilliant raid on the German 

trenches, and killed in action shortly afteruards. 

threw up their hands, calling out 'Kamerad!' 
A German officer, who showed fight, was 
struck down by a loaded bomb stick — his 
skull crushed in . . . After twenty minutes, 
the allotted time, the compan}' started back 
for their own trench. The\' had twelve 
prisoners, a German Ma.xim-gun, two bags 
of German bombs, and some other booty." 

A.s soon as the raiders left the 
trench our artillery completed their 
work by bombardini^" the crowded 
communication trenches and doing 
considerable execution, the German 

Vol V. 

guns replying with insignificant 
success. Our total losses were only 
three men killed, while the Somersets 
accounted for thirty or forty in the 
trenches alone. Lieutenant- Colonel 
Howard, who organized the whole 
affair with the greatest energy and 
skill, subsequently received the D.S.O. 
" Inspiring all ranks with enthusiasm 
and confidence throughout, he dis- 
played ", says the Gazette, "complete 
indifference to personal danger during 
the withdrawal of the raiding force 
under fire." Captain R. Hall Hunting- 
ton, who distinguished himself on the 
same occasion, and, like his command- 
ing officer, had been previously brought 
to notice for oallant work at Loos, also 
received the D.S.O., the Military 
Cross being awarded at the same time 
to Second- Lieutenant Withers. Ser- 
geant J. Coxon, who, after jumping 
into the trench, was attacked by three 
Germans, of whom he shot two and 
made the third a prisoner, received 
the D.C.M., also conferred upon 
Sergeant J. Black, Corporal A. L. 
Fenwick, and Private A. F". Jefferies 
for conspicuous bravery both on this 
and other occasions. 

The Somersets' brilliant exploit, un- 
happily, had a tragic sequel a few 
days later, when the enemy sprang 
a mine in the same section of Ko 
Man's Land, and a struggle ensued 
for the craters in the course of which 
Lieutenant- Colonel Howard lost his 
life. Idle Colonel had seized the 
craters immediately after the explosion 
and held them; but three days after 
the Somersets were relieved they 
were lost by another regiment, and 
it fell to Lieutenant-Colonel Howard 



The C 

Great World War 

rolling to 
not ven- 

THE SECOND WIN' ^'^^ °" 

'' recon- 

(N°^" several 

Winter in the Fighting Line— Brillian' when 
Died— "Winter Sports" in Full Swing— Stantly. 
Patrols — Our 3rd Army below Arras — Oper stao"e- 
and " Die-hards" — Heroic Work round 1 ^' 1 

Winter Campaign— Developments of the^"^^'"'''^^' 
Captain Loraine— Other Heroes of thelSO played 
— The Carol of the Guns — Memorable ^}-lgQ war 
Occasion — New Year Greetings betw ^ ^ . 

n -D .■ c ^T A XT returned to 

Lrerman Preparations for Verdun — re 

The Battle for the Bluff— Lost and \\n which he 

rvice in the 

IN an earlier chapter sc Rapid pro- 
was made of the vid Lancaster 
in the French an his appoint- 
Hicrher Commands, and ne command 
co-ordination of Alliee Somerset Light 
brought the year 191 made fit to stand 
marked an epoch in tl regiment in the 
Great World War, buy Force. It was 
remains to be wr' a captain of his old 
the fighting line d ork and Lancasters, 
indecisive period - now reproduced was 
of the British f 

that which has lids began as a sort of 
the lively section ^o break the monotony 
in Flanders. Vire, and to keep the 
rain and m'-'d v-es constantly " on the 
all alono; Some grim humorist gave 
offensivehe name of "winter sports"; 
army, the'^as not long before, at one 
went on urHOther, they were enlivening 
less intensit^ritish front. On the night 
cumstances. nersets' brilliant raid in 
nately, still helc/o battalions of the Rifle 
on superior grou King's Royal Rifle 
less toll with t? heroes of a similar 
troops, however, \onnerie. Before we 
disadvantage from -^nture, however, an 
munitions, and had ir Cordonnerie de- 
ed, in which two 

officers of the same gallant battalion 
of the King's Royal Rifles won the 
Military Cross. One of them was 
Lieutenant Gerald Meredith, grandson 
of the novelist; the other, Lieutenant 
H. H. de Daillon Monk. They were 
reconnoitring between the lines under 
their company officer on the night of 

Official Photograph 

"Winter Sports" at the Front: British infantry practising 
trench-raids behind the firing line 

November 24-5, when their leader 
was killed close to the enemy's wire. 
With supreme devotion, and a deter- 
mination that never failed. Lieutenants 
Meredith and Monk brought the body 
back to our trenches, over flooded and 
difficult country, and under heavy and 
continuous fire. It took them over 
an hour to reach cover with their 
tragic burden. 

Their brother officer who distin- 
guished himself in the "cutting-out" 
expedition on the night of December 

Cutting-out Expeditions 


15-16 was Lieutenant Felix W. Warre, 
who earned the Military Cross for 
coohiess and pluck during his share 
of this successful affair, in which more 
than a score of the enemy were killed. 
Remaining in the raided trench until 
he had evacuated his own killed and 
wounded, he was the last man to return, 
and then, finding that some wounded 
had been left behind, he at once went 
back under heavy rifle and machine- 
gun fire and collected them. He was 
himself wounded while returning the 
second time. Three Distinguished 
Conduct Medals were also won by the 
K.R.R.C. on this occasion: by Ser- 
geant O. Green, who killed at least 
two Germans, and completely cleared 
his portion of the trench; Sergeant 
E. G. Wimpey, who commanded the 
advanced bombers and kept back re- 
inforcements; and Private H. Skeels, 
who displayed exceptional daring and 
inflicted heavy loss on the enemy, in 
spite of the difficulty of bombing owing 
to the mud and wet. 

The raiders from the Rifle Brigade 
sent out two parties to cut the enemy's 
wire before the attack by their sec- 
tion of the line. They were under 
Lieutenant C. E. S. Rucker. Unfortu- 
nately the work was interrupted by a 
German listening post, and the enemy 
being roused the raid had to be 
abandoned. The British officer, how- 
ever, after returning to report, took 
out a bombing party and, under a 
heavy fire, destroyed the listening post, 
though it was inside the German wire 
and close to the hostile parapet. For 
this fearless feat Lieutenant Rucker, 
who had volunteered for both duties, 
received the Military Cross, the 

D.C.M. being awarded to Corporal 
R. Hunt, and Privates G. J. Higgins 
and A. S. V. Bench, all of whom re- 
mained out over two hours, success- 
fully cutting through the enemy's wire 
despite the fact that a German sentry 
was in view the whole time. It is 
interesting to turn up the telegraphic 
account of these operations at the time 
from General Head-quarters and find 
them tersely described on December 16 
as follows: — 

" Last night two small enterprises were 
successfully carried out near Armentieres, 
hostile trenches being entered and the occu- 
pants disposed of Enemy losses are esti- 
mated at seventy killed. Our losses are 

This was a favourite quarter for 
cutting-out expeditions — perhaps due 
to some friendly rivalry with the 
Canadians a few miles away to the 
north. There was another British 
raid two nights later north-east of 
Ploegsteert — or Plug Street, as that 
most fiercely contested district was 
more familiarly called. The heroes 
on this occasion were Second- Lieu- 
tenant C. J. Cordon and nine men 
of the Wiltshire Regiment. In a 
daring reconnaissance on the preceding 
night that officer, with Sergeant G. 
H. Ingram, had penetrated the enemy's 
wire, and then, alone, entered the 
German trench. On the night of 
December 18-19 Second- Lieutenant 
Cordon returned with his party of 
nine, leading them through the wire, 
then crawling 50 yards under the 
enemy's parapet, and finally jumping 
into the hostile trench with two non- 
commissioned officers. He shot two 
Germans, and the rest of the party 

Drawn by Christopher Clark 

British Billets on Fire on the Western Front : quelling a dangerous outbreak 

The danger in this case was increased a hundredfold by the fact that amnuinition was stored in the buildings. "Ammunition", 
wrote the officer who sent tlie sketch from which the drauing was made, "was constantly going off, and the whole business was 
rendered exciting hy the knowledge tiiat a sack of bombs was somewhere in the burning btiilding." 


In and About Pluo: Street 



accounted for a number of others 
before they were heavily counter- 
attacked, when he succeeded in extri- 
cating his men without a casualty. 
One German pinned him down during 
the fight, but was killed by Sergeant 
Ingram, who was rewarded for his 
bravery throughout with the D.C.M. 
— also conferred upon Sergeant A. 
W. Loveday, who gallantly held up 
the counter-attack by bombing, thus 
enabling the officer to withdraw his 
party without loss. For his fearless 
couraoe Second- Lieutentant Cordon 
received the Military Cross. Another 
of the Wiltshire subalterns — Second- 
Lieutenant B. J. Macklin — won the 
same decoration earlier in the month 
for a splendid exhibition of initiative 
and couraoe. He had taken out 
three men to cut wire in preparation 
for a surprise attack, only to find 
six yards of water in front of the 
obstruction. Nothing daunted, he 
crawled through the water alone and 
cut a lane through four rows of 
wire, although a listening post came 
within four yards of him. "After 
watching this post for about an hour," 
says the Gazette, "he crawled be ck to 
our lines, made his report, and then 
returned to bring in the men he had 
left behind." 

Just above "Plug Street" the line 
was held by the Lancashire Fusiliers. 
south of Warneton Railway, who 
joined in the raiding competition with 
a highly successful affair of their own 
on the night of December 28-29. 
While leading his party to the assault, 
Lieutenant H. H. Fowkes, with three 
men, outstripped the others, and lay 
on the enemy's parapet under heavy 

fire until the time arrived to jump 
into the trench. Then, leaping in, he 
bombed his way up some 50 yards, 
pursuing the fleeing Germans, and in- 
flicting heavy losses upon them before 
withdrawing his men. His services 
were acknowledged with the Military 
Cross, which was also conferred upon 
Second- Lieutenant R. F. Mackinnon, 
of the same battalion, who, not for the 
first time, displayed the highest cour- 
age while leading the wire-cutters. 
When discovered with his assaulting 
party while only a few yards from the 
enemy's trench, he was subjected to a 
heavy bombardment lasting over an 
hour, and it was largely due to his 
personal bravery and resource that 
no casualties were suffered. Three 
D.C.M.'s also fell to the Lancashire 
Fusiliers for this exploit, the recipients 
being Sergeant T. A. O'Hara, Cor- 
poral A. Grindrod, and Private G. 
Singleton, all of w^hom were in the 
forefront of the charge down the Ger- 
man trench. Private Sinirleton was 
severely wounded in the attack, but 
refused assistance. 

A few hours later Captain J. H. E. 
Dean with oreat darino- led a fiohtim;'- 
patrol from a battalion of the Cheshire 
Regiment up to the enemy's lines 
at Le Touquet, obtaining a footing 
on the hostile parapet and bombing 
the trenches for some 40 yards, in- 
flicting considerable loss. Although 
under heavy fire, he succeeded in 
withdrawing his patrol with a loss of 
one killed and nine wounded. He was 
accom[)anied by Second- Lieutenant 
Mtz-roy A. Somerset, of the same 
battalion, who, although shot through 
the rioht forearm and wounded in the 


The Great World War 

head, remained at his post, and con- 
tinued to throw bombs till ordered to 
retire. Both officers received the Mili- 
tary Cross, the D.C.M. being won at 
the same time by Corporal H. Jackson- 
Payne, who was wounded in three 
places while in charge of the right 
bombing-party, but persisted in con- 
tinuino- to throw bombs with the ut- 
most coolness; and by Private W. 
Williams, who pave another fine exhi- 
bition of cool courage while in charge 
of the left bombing-party. 

One of the first of the "cutting-out" 
expeditions on the British front during 
the period that is under review stands 
to the credit of a Territorial bat- 
talion of the Gloucestershire Regiment, 
at Gommecourt, south of Arras, where 
the 3rd British Army, about whose 
doings little was allowed to transpire 
at the time, carried the French line 
down towards Frise, on the Somme. 
Above Arras the French prolonged 
the line to the vicinity of Loos until 
that sector, during the prolonged 
struggle for Verdun, was also taken 
over by the British. It was on the 
night of November 25-26, 191 5, that 
the raiders of the Gloucester Territo- 
rials were led into the German trenches 
at Gommecourt by Second- Lieutenants 
J. M. C. Badgley and T. T. Pryce, both 
of whom received the Military Cross 
for their skill and daring. Second- 
Lieutenant Badgley cut through two 
lines of wire entanglement, and though 
wounded in the attack itself, being met 
by a heavy bomb-fire on entering the 
German trench, and driven out by 
superior numbers, he withdrew his 
men successfully. Second-Lieutenant 
Pryce succeeded in entering the enemy's 

trenches unobserved with his party 
and cleared them, also bombing large 
numbers of Germans crowding in their 
deep dug-outs. He, too, was wounded, 
but subsequently extricated his men in 
face of overwhelming reinforcements. 
Lance-Corporal H.W. Moore won the 
D.C.M. for his great bravery on this 
occasion in entering shelters full of 
the enemy and clearing them with his 
bombs. " When he had no more 
bombs", adds the Gazette, "he fought 
his way through a group of Germans 
in order to carry an order to retire to 
a blocking group which had been cut 
off" Private W. J. Redmore, who 
was in the thick of the desperate 
hand-to-hand fighting which ensued, 
was another of the Gloucesters to 
receive the D.C.M. He was the last 
man to quit the trench, and as he was 
leaving found a corporal lying at the 
bottom wounded in the leer. Lifting 
him out of the trench, he carried him 
through the German wire and brouoht 
him to safety. 

Our 3rd Army, whose sector be- 
tween Arras and the Somme had 
broucrht the total British front in 
France and Flanders up to between 
65 and 70 miles, had few opportuni- 
ties during this period of distinguish- 
ing itself, but it held its ground with 
<>rim determination. Amone other 
occasions on which the monotony of 
trench warfare was varied with an 
assault on the enemy's line was 
the bombing attack from one of the 
battalions of the Cheshire Reoiment 
on the night of December 6-7, 191 5, 
near Carnoy, between Albert and the 
Somme. The mud had rendered 
the advance almost impossible, but 

From the Somme to Ypres 



Extending our Front in France: map showing approxi- 
mately the line of the 3rd British Army from below Arras 
to its junction with the French near Frise, on the Somme, 
at the close of the winter campaign of 1915-16 

Second- Lieutenant G. P. Hardino- led 
the attack on the German trenches 
with consummate coohiess and abiUty, 

thereby winning the Military Cross. 
Three of the Cheshires earned the 
D.C.M. on this occasion — Private S. 
Bland, who, as bayonet-man, headed 
the assault with great dash, bayoneting 
one German, shooting two more, and 
taking one prisoner before he was him- 
self wounded; Private J. H. Keating, 
for his pluck in reinforcing the block- 
ing party when it was in danger of 
being driven in, keeping the men to- 
gether, and helping them to repel 
several counter bomb-attacks; and 
Corporal J. Moore, who greatly assisted 
the attack by keeping up rapid fire 
while in charge of a " West" machine. 
In the midst of the ficrht "a liohted 

o o 

bomb", says the Gazette, "dropped 
off the cap of the machine, and would 
have caused many casualties, but Cor- 
poral Moore groped for it in the mud, 
and had just time to throw it over the 
parapet when it exploded". It was 
not far from Carnoy, a month or so 
later, that the Germans broke through 
the French line in the swampy loop of 
the Somme and captured the village 
of Frise, as mentioned on p. loo. 
That local attack spread to the British 
lines at Carnoy, but died down after 
taking and losing a few unimportant 

Though no oreneral offensive during- 
the winter of 191 5-16 fell to our war- 
worn First and Second Armies, hold- 
ing the line from Loos to Boesinghe, 
beyond Ypres, the daily and nightly 
carnage of the trenches, and the em- 
bittered combats for such points of 
vantage as Hooge and the Hohen- 
zollern Redoubt, rendered these com- 
paratively uneventful months a costly 
period for both sides. The main- 


The Great World War 

tenance of our defences alone entailed 
especially heavy work. Bad weather 
and the enemy, as Sir Douglas Haig 
pointed out in his first despatch after 
assuming the Chief Command of the 
British Forces in France and Flanders, 
combined to flood trenches, dug-outs, 
and communications, and all such 
damage had to be repaired promptly, 
under fire, and almost entirely by 
night. Although therefore the struggle, 
in a general sense, was never intense, 
it was everywhere continuous. 

" In short," added Sir Douglas Haig, 
" although there luis been no great incident 
of historic importance to record on the 
British front during tlie period under review, 
a steady and continuous fight has gone on, 
day and night, above ground and below it. 
The comparative monotony of this struggle 
has been relieved at short intervals by sharp 
local actions, some of which, although indi- 
vidually almost insignificant in a war on 
such an immense scale, would have been 
thought worthy of a separate despatch 
under different conditions, while their cumu- 
lative effect, though difficult to appraise at 
its true value now, will doubtless prove 
hereafter to have been considerable." 

The art of mine exploding was 
developed with appalling ingenuity, 
and in course of time the Germans 
■ — for once forestalled in methods of 
" frightfulness " in warfare — adopted 
our invention of the "cutting-out" ex- 
pedition and adapted it to their own 
ideas of how such purely barbaric 
fighting should be conducted. They 
usually relied more on their preliminary 
bombardment to clear a safe path for 
their raiding parties, and maintained 
a curtain of fire round the chosen 
sector while their raiders were at work. 
The horrible hand-to-hand conflicts 

which followed in the isolated trenches 
may be better imagined than described. 
The Germans — perhaps from their 
faith in large numbers, and their difil- 
culty in finding the right type of man 
for dashes in handfuls — took care to 
send what they considered to be an 

Lord French's Successor: (General Sir Uouglas Haig al 
the General Staff Head-quarters of the French Army 

overwhelming force, but the result was 
not always what they anticipated. 
Sometimes they were forced to beat 
an ignominious retreat. Sometimes 
they found their quarry flown — merely 
to return as soon as the raiders' 
appointed time arrived for their with- 
drawal. But sometimes their success 
was too horrible for words. 

Among the Snipers and Raiders 


On the whole, however, the new 
warfare was more suited to the British 
temperament, with its quick initiative 
and eagerness for the sporting" chance, 
than the less individualistic German. 
Our superiority in this respect was 
unquestioned throughout the winter, 
by which time, too, we were begin- 
ning to beat the enemy at his equally 
dangerous game of sniping. With his 
immense superiority in numbers to 
choose from, he had half a dozen 
sharpshooters to our one at the begin- 
ning of the war, and the combination 
of courage, cunning, and deadly ac- 
curacy which characterized most of 
these Jagers gave the enemy an ad- 
vantage for which we had to pay 
dearly for many months. By the 
winter of 19 15-16, however, our own 
[)icked men had been trained and 
organized for our new lorce of snipers: 
Bisley marksmen, crack shots from the 
backwoods, gamekeepers, and the 
most promising raw material among 
the New Army recruits, all of whom, 
thoroughly instructed in the whole art 
and craft of modern sniping, by ex- 
perts in our new training schools, 
gradually put an entirely new com- 
plexion on this harassing species of 

One of the most dashing- raids from 
the British front occurred during the 
last month of 19 15, and was led by 
Lieutenant Keith Trevor of the Middle- 
sex Regiment, who had with him only 
a handful of seven "Die-llards". 
This was on the night of December 
14-15, when, after creeping stealthily 
from the British lines at the Bois 
Francjais, they were discovered within 
ten yards of the German trench and 

fired at. Pushing fearlessly on they 
got through the wire in the darkness, 
and rushed the trench. Bombing the 
first dug-out, "with good results" as 
the unimaginative Gazette expresses 
it, the raiders found themselves 
counter-attacked by fifteen Germans, 
who were driven back, however, largely 
by a single-handed bombing display 
by Private L. Kossak. Lieutenant 
Trevor himself threw bombs, though 
severely wounded in the wrist, and 
finally withdrew his party with com- 
plete success. He won the Military 
Cross for this affair, as well as for con- 
sistent courage in carrying out many 
dangerous reconnaissances, usually 
accompanied by Privates Kossak and 
A. A. Alma, both of whom were re- 
warded with the D.C.M. 

While the "Die-hards" were 
worthily winning fresh laurels at the 
Bois Franqais the Grenadier Guards, 
now holding- {)art of the line in the 
Neuve Chapelle region, were similarly 
engaged in the lines opposite Le 
Tilleloy. Ca[)tain Sir Robert Marcus 
Filmer, Bart., who had served with 
the Grenadiers in the Soudan and 
South Africa, prepared the way for 
the raid by a bold reconnaissance of 
the German position, crawling down 
the entire length of the trench to a 
point at which it joined another, thus 
discovering the best points of attack 
and the weak spots in the wire. " The 
success of the enterprise ", says the 
GazcttcxXW recording his award of the 
Military Cross, "was largely due to 
his reconnaissance and subsequent 
gallant conduct in the trenches." The 
same decoration was won by Second- 
Lieutenant the Hon. W. Alastair 


The Great World War 

Darner Parnell, of the Grenadier 
Guards, who had brought back very 
valuable information from a reconnoi- 
tring patrol on the previous night, 
when he entered the German trenches. 
The younger brother and heir-pre- 
sumptive of the sixth Lord Congleton 
— then serving as a Lieutenant in the 
Royal Navy, whose elder brother, the 
fifth Baron, had been killed in action 
with the Grenadier Guards in the 
early months of the war — he had crept 
throuo'h the German wire on the nieht 
of the raid itself, and, rushing the 
trench, surprised one of the enemy 
posts, two of whom were killed, one 
taken prisoner, and the rest dispersed. 
The prisoner was seized by Sergeant 
J. Lyon, of the same battalion, and 
held with great tenacity, although an 
attempt at rescue was made by another 
party of Germans, Sergeant Lyon's 
capture, as well as his pluck in accom- 
panying Second - Lieutenant Parnell 
on the preliminary patrol, brought 
him the D.C.M. 

The Guards had moved into these 
lines near Neuve Chapelle in No- 
vember. When we last heard of the 
Division, it will be remembered, it 
had just passed through the ordeal of 
the October struggle for the Hohen- 
zollern Redoubt, after straiohteninsf 
out the salient round Loos. Now it 
had settled down to the routine of 
trench warfare along a quieter sector 
of the front, working hard, under the 
usual bombardments, to make the 
trenches liveable through the long 
winter months, training new units in 
the science and discipline of the fight- 
ing line, and varying the monotony 
with occasional forays in the dark. 

There was a good deal of liveliness 
on the Grenadiers' front at this period. 
Private W. N. Sweetman, of one bat- 
talion, won the D.C.M. for the lead- 
ing part which he played in another 
successful attack on the trenches of 
the enemy, this time on the night 
of December 11-12. 

"When the retirement was ordered", says 
the official record, " he remained within 50 
yards of the enemy's trench, with Lieutenant 
Ponsonby, who was wounded, and finally 
succeeded, under a heavy fire, in getting 
him to within 100 yards of our trenches, 
when, with assistance, the wounded officer 
was brought in. It was a fine display of 
cool bravery." 

Two nights earlier the D.C.M. had 
been won by Corporal J. Riley, of an- 
other battalion, whose exploits were 
typical of the adventures which made 
the hours of darkness in No-Man's- 
Land anything but uneventful. Cor- 
poral Riley went out by himself on the 
night of December 9 to examine the 
German wire. He was armed with a 
revolver and some bombs. Before he 
could complete his task he was dis- 
covered by a German covering-party, 
who called out " Hands up!" His re- 
ply was a bomb, and a run for his life. 
Unable to see, he fell into a hole, and 
hurrying footsteps told him that he 
was being pursued. He turned, threw 
another bomb, and then opened fire 
with his revolver. This effectually 
stopped the pursuit, but not before the 
gallant Corporal had been hit in the 
foot by a bullet. However, he suc- 
ceeded in crawling back to our wire, 
and was carried thence into our trench. 

It was in the same sanguinary re- 
gion, towards the end of November, 

Victoria Cross Heroes 


that one of the Territorial battaHons 
of the Sherwood Foresters added to 
the honours of that fine regiment by 
a determined bombing-attack on the 
German trenches opposite the position 
known as the Boer's Head, near Neuve 
Chapelle. Second- Lieutenant W. A. 
Lytle won his MiHtary Cross for ex- 
cellent work in this connection, first 
reconnoitrina; the ground with the ut- 
most coolness, and then leading his 
grenadiers in the attack itself with a 
total disregard for danger. He was 
finally forced to withdraw in the face 
of superior numbers, but not before 
he had thrown about 100 bombs and 
inflicted serious loss on the enemy. 
Lance- Sergeant M. Limb and Lance- 
Corporal M. C. Rust both won the 
D.C.M. for behaving with great gal- 
lantry on this occasion. 

Some of the bravest deeds of the 
closing months of 191 5 were done on 
patrol duty in these hours of darkness 
on the British front. It was on one 
such occasion, at La Brique, between 
Pilkem and Ypres, on the night of 
November 23, that Corporal Alfred 
Drake, of a battalion of the Rifle Bri- 
gade, won the posthumous honour of 
the Victoria Cross for a noble example 
of self-sacrifice and devotion. He was 
one of a reconnoitring patrol of four 
which was discovered when close to 
the enemy, who opened heavy fire with 
rifles and a machine-gun, wounding the 
officer and one man. One of the two 
survivors carried his comrade back, 
while Corporal Drake remained with 
his officer, and was last seen beside 
him bandaging his wounds, regardless 
of the enemy's fire. 

" Later," adds the Gazette, "a rescue-party 

crawling near the German lines found the 
officer and corporal, the former unconscious 
but alive and bandaged. Corporal Drake 
beside him dead and riddled with bullets. 
He had given his own life and saved his 

Three attempts at rescue had failed, 
and an officer and four men had been 
wounded before the fourth and success- 
ful effort was made. This last gallant 
party, for which both Lieutenant C. 
Roper Gorell- Barnes, Adjutant of the 
same battalion, and a brother officer, 
Lieutenant A. Ronald Backus, volun- 
teered, was guided by Private J. E. 
Beazley, who had brought in his 
wounded comrade, and was the only 
man remaining of the destroyed patrol. 
He had already made one unsuccessful 
effort to reach the wounded officer and 
corporal still lying out in front of the 
German lines. Bright moonlight now 
added to the danger of the task, and a 
German covering-party was heard close 
by as the rescuers crawled out towards 
the enemy's line. This time, however, 
they succeeded in finding the wounded 
officer, and with great difficulty dragged 
him back under heavy rifle and ma- 
chine-gun fire, thus undoubtedly saving 
his life. For their share in this heroic 
incident Lieutenant Gorell- Barnes re- 
ceived the D.S.O., Lieutenant Backus 
the Military Cross, and Private Beazley 
the Distinguished Conduct Medal. 

Another V.C., for similar valour and 
devotion, was earned, on the 4th of 
November, 191 5, near La Houssoie, by 
Private Thomas Kenny, of the Dur- 
ham Light Infantry, while on patrol 
duty with Lieutenant Brown in a thick 
fog. Suddenly some Germans, who 
were lying out in a ditch in front of 


The Great World War 

their parapet, opened fire and shot 
Lieutenant Brown through both thighs. 

" Private Kenny," records the Gazette, 
" although heavily and repeatedly fired 
upon, crawled about for more than an hour 
with his wounded officer on his back, trying 
to find his way through the fog to our 
trenches. He refused more than once to 
go on alone, although told by Lieutenant 
Brown to do so. At last, when utterly ex- 
hausted, he came to a ditch which he recog- 
nized, placed Lieutenant Brown in it, and 
went to look for help. He found an officer 
and a (e\v men of his battalion at a listen- 
ing-post, and after guiding them back, with 
their assistance Lieutenant Brown was 
brought in, although the Germans again 
opened heavy fire with rifles and machine- 
guns, and threw bombs at 30 yards dis- 
tance. Private Kenny's pluck, endurance, 
and devotion to duty were beyond praise." 

A few weeks kitcr anotlier gallaiu 
officer of the Durham Light Infantr\- 
^this time not far from Armentieres 
— was severely wounded wliile on 
night patrol beyond our wire. He 
was saved by Sergeant J. Broderick, 
who carried him in, and won tlie D.C. M. 

It was close by the scene of the 
Rifle Brigade's heroism, near Ypres, 
where Corporal Drake won his post- 
humous honour, that another Victoria 
Cross was nobly earned only a few 
days before — on the 16th of Novem- 
ber, 1915 — by Private John Caffrey, 
of the York and Lancaster Regi- 
ment. A man of the West Yorkshire 
Regiment fell badly wounded and was 
lying in the open unable to move, in 
full view of the enemy's trenches, some 
300 to 400 yards away. Corporal 
A. J. Stirk, of the Royal Army Medi- 
cal Corps, who subsequently received 
the D.C.M., and Private Caffrey, at 

once started out to rescue him, but 
at the first attempt they were driven 
back by shrapnel fire. 

" Soon afterwards they started again 
under close sniping and machine-gun fire, 
and succeeded in reaching and bandaging 
the wounded man; but, just as Corporal 
Stirk had lifted him on Private Caffrey's 
back, he himself was shot in the head. 
Private Caffrey put down the wounded 
man, bandaged Corporal Stirk, and helped 
him back into safety. He then returned 
and brought in the man of the West York- 
shire Regiment. He had made three 
journeys across the open under close and 
accurate fire, and had risked his own life 
to save others with the utmost coolness 
and bravery." 

The West Yorkshires also shared 
in the highest honours won in this 
phase of the campaign round the 
fiercely contested Ypres salient. On 
November 19, Corporal Samuel Mee- 
kosha, of one of the Bradford Terri- 
torial battalions of that regiment — a 
Russian Pole on his father's side and 
Irish on his mother's — was with a 
platoon of some twenty non - com- 
missioned officers' and men who were 
holding an isolated trench, known as 
the " Pump Rooni", on the Yser 
Canal. During a heavy bombard- 
ment by the enemy, six of the platoon 
were killed and seven wounded, while 
all the remainder were more or less 

"When the senior non-commissioned 
ofiicers had been either killed or wounded," 
says the Garjclte in announcing his award 
of the Victoria Cross, '* Corporal Meekosha 
at once took command, sent a runner for 
assistance, and, in spite of no less than ten 
more big shells falling within 20 }'ards of 
him, continued to dig out the wounded and 

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The Great World War 

buried men in full view of the enemy and 
at close range from the German trenches. 
By his promptness and magnificent courage 
and determination he saved at least four 

Corporal Meekosha vv^as bravely 
assisted by Privates Wilkinson, E. 
Johnson, and J. Sayers, who stuck to 
him most stoutly throughout, and were 
each rewarded with the D.C.M. One 
of the Leeds Territorial battalions 
of the same reoriment had a num- 
ber of similar ordeals to face in their 
battered trenches on the Yser Canal. 
On November 6 Private A. Dodd 
went to the rescue of two wounded 
men under very heavy shell and trench- 
mortar fire, when, owing to the trench 
having been blown in, stretcher-bearers 
were unable to reach them. After 
dressing their wounds and bringing 
them safely away, he returned and 
extricated a partly-buried man, who, 
unfortunately, was found to be dead. 
On the same day, when four other men 
had been buried near Turco Farm by 
the enemy's devastating fire, Sergeants 
A. L. Pearson, Corporal E. Green, 
and Private A. Benson displayed equal 
valour and devotion, successfully rescu- 
ing all four, although they were in 
full view of the enemy's fire - trench, 
and were being shelled by a high- 
velocity quick-firing gun. With Private 
Dodd they all received the D.C.M. 
Two days later one of the sergeants of 
the Leeds Rifles had his leg crushed 
by the blowing in of a dug-out, and 
Captain H. J. Burke, attached to the 
regiment from the Royal Army Medical 
Corps, found immediate amputation 
necessary. With absolute fearlessness, 
in order to save time, he crawled across 

the open to get his instruments. The 
enemy turned a machine-gun on him, 
but in spite of their fire he returned the 
same way, and coolly performed the 
operation in the trench in the midst 
of the heavy bombardment. Captain 
Burke received the Military Cross for 
this superb act of courage, the same de- 
coration being bestowed upon Second- 
Lieutenant Campbell K. Alexander, 
who assisted him under fire, although 
he had no medical knowledge. On 
November 1 1 Second - Lieutenant 
Alexander was again to the front at 
Hale Farm, when he gallantly helped 
to dig out two men who had been 
buried, while the enemy were shelling 
the place with their howitzers. In 
this work he was nobly assisted by 
Private W. Stead, also of the Leeds 
Rifles, whose reward was the D.C.M. 
Three other Distinguished Conduct 
Medals fell to another Territorial 
battalion of the West Yorkshires 
on December 8, when one of their 
trenches on the Yser Canal was blown 
in and a bombing-post wrecked. One 
was awarded to Lance-Corporal J. T. 
Cov/srilL vvho was in chargre of the 
post when five bombers were buried. 
Working in an extremely exposed 
position he at once extricated them, 
and then went 200 yards over danger- 
ous ground to report to his officer, 
afterwards returning to his post and 
holding it until relieved. Lance- 
Corporal H. Ingleby, similarly de- 
corated, "took charge of his platoon", 
states the Gazette, " when the senior 
non-commissioned officers were killed 
or wounded, moved it to a better 
position, recovered, under heavy fire, 
several rifles and much equipment 

Yorkshire Grit 


from a trench which had been blown 
in, dug out a wounded man, and organ- 
ized the removal of the wounded". 
After that it seems almost superfluous 
to add that Corporal Ingleby "set a 
fine example of cool bravery". The 
third D.C.M. was won by Private J. 
W. Worth, who, at great personal risk, 
rescued two sergeants and two men 
who had been buried under the parapet. 
Immediately after the rescue a heavy 
shell burst on the exact spot. 

About a fortnight previously two 
men of a battalion of the West Riding 
Regiment gave an equally fine exhibi- 
tion of Yorkshire grit on the other side 
of Ypres, near "Hell-Fire Corner", 
on the Menin road, when a small party 
of another regiment had come sud- 
denly under heavy shrapnel fire and 
had taken cover. One man was 
wounded and fell on the road, where 
Second - Lieutenant R. Macfarlane 
Neill, attached to the West Ridinors 
from the Royal Scots Fusiliers, re- 
mained with him, bandagrina- his 
wounds. Lance -Corporal A. Clark- 
son and Private J. Ainley, both of the 
West Ridings, rushed to the rescue 
from their dressing-station, and, with 
the officer's assistance, succeeded in 
getting the wounded man on to a 
stretcher, and finally in bringing him 
safely in under heavy fire, a distance 
of several hundred yards, although on 
the way the concussion of one shell 
knocked the whole party down. For 
this deed the officer was awarded 
the Military Cross, and the men the 
D.C.M. Two other D.C.M. 's fell to 
this battalion of the West Ridino- 
Regiment near Hooge, on November 
22. when Lance-Corporal R. Rossall 

and Sergeant H. Pearson went out to 
the rescue of a corporal of their bat- 
talion who had been mortally wounded 
on bombing patrol not more than 10 
yards from the German trenches. A 
German patrol was advancing towards 
them at the time, but Lance-Corporal 
Rossall drove them off with bombs, 
and then, with the sergeant's help, 
brouofht in their wounded comrade. 

The only serious attempt against 
our Ypres line before the end of the 
year was a gas attack north-east of 
the town, on December 19, accom- 
panied by a heavy bombardment. It 
was the very day on which Sir Douglas 
Haior took over the Chief Command 
from Lord French. The attack, how- 
ever, had been expected, and our 
protective measures proved effective 
against the poisonous fumes behind 
which the Germans, massed in their 
trenches to complete their insidious 
work, waited for the most part in vain 
for an opportunity to charge. Our 
guns had their range exactly, and, ex- 
cept in a few places, where they were 
killed or driven back before reaching 
our line, they were kept pinned to 
their trenches. 

So the ruthless struggle raged 
throughout the lonor winter months of 
191 5-1 6. The story at this stage is 
necessarily a chapter of incidents, but 
the record of such incidents enables 
us to form some idea of what the 
armies had to face, as well as the way 
in which they faced it, along their 60 
to 70 miles of trenches in France and 
Flanders. These conditions prevailed 
for months after Sir Douglas Haig 
assumed the High Command on De- 
cember 19, 191 5, and they are well 


The Great World War 

summarized in the following extract 
from his first des[)atch: — 

" Artillery and snipers arc practically 
never silent, patrols are out in front of the 
lines every night, and heavy bombardments 
by the artillery of one or both sides take 
place daily in various parts of the line. 
Below ground there are continual mining 
and counter-mining, which, by the ever- 
present threat of sudden explosion and the 
uncertaint}' as to when and where it will 
take place, causes perhaps a more constant 
strain than any other form of warfare. In 
the air there is seldom a day, however bad 
the weather, when aircraft are not busy re- 
connoitring, photographing, and observing 
fire. All this is taking place constantly at 
any hour of the da}- or night, and in any 
part of the line.'' 

The perils of the air had consider- 
ably increased at this period with the 
development in the German aeroplane 
service through the advent of their 
new Fokker machine, described on 
pp. 55-7, but nothing could daunt the 
ardent spirits of our officers of the 
Royal Pdying Corps. One of the 
finest exhibitions of valour and effi- 
ciency in the whole history of this aerial 
warfare was witnessed on November 
7, 191 5, when Second-Lieutenant G.- 
S. M. Insall, of the Royal Flying- 
Corps, was patrolling in a Vickers 
fighting-machine with First-class Air 
Mechanic Donald as gunner, and on 
sighting a German machine near 
Achiet at once gave chase. With 
a favourite trick of the enemy, the 
German pilot led his pursuers over a 
rocket battery, but with great skill 
Lieutenant Insall dived to close range, 
so that Donald could fire a drum of 
cartridges into the enemy's machine. 
This stopped the German engine. 

whereupon the pursued pilot dived 
through a cloud, still followed by 
Lieutenant Insall. Fire was again 
opened, and this time the enemy ma- 
chine was brought clown heavily in a 
ploughed field 4 miles south-east of 

" On seeing the Germans scramble out of 
their machine and prepare to fire," saj's tlie 
Garjctte, "Lieutenant Insall di\ed to 500 
feet, thus enabling Donald to open heavy 
fire on them. The Germans then fled, one 
helping the other, who was apparently 
wounded. Other Germans then commenced 
heav\^ fire, but in spite of this Lieutenant 
Insall turned again, and an incendiar}- bomb 
was dropped on the German machine, which 
was last seen wreathed in smoke. Lieu- 
tenant Insall then headed west in order to 
get back over the German trenches, but as 
he was at only 2000 feet altitude he dived 
across them for greater speed, Donald firing 
into the trenches as he passed o\-er. The 
German fire, however, damaged the petrol 


Second-Lieutenant lI. S. M. Insall, who won the \ ictoiia 

Cross while serving with the Royal Flying Corps 

(From a photograph by Hana) 

Heroes of the Royal Flying Corps 


Caiitain Robert l.oi.iiiu', the actoi-, who won the Mihtary 

Cross while serving with the Royal Flying Corps 

(From a photograph by Ellis & Walery) 

tank, and. with great coolness, Lieutenant 
Insall landed under co\-er of a wood 500 
}'ards inside our lines." 

The German ounners rained some 
150 shells on the oround in the hope 
of revenge, but failed to cause any 
material damage. Ritte-fire, however, 
had played havoc with the machine in 
parts; but during the night it was re- 
paired behind screened lights, and at 
dawn Lieutenant Lisall, with Donald 
on board, Hew his machine home. For 
this brilliant feat he w^as decorated 
with the Victoria Cross, and his me- 
chanic Donald with the D.C.M. A 
few months later, unfortunately, the 
officer was brought down behind the 
German lines and made a prisoner of 

Some ten days before Lieutenant 

Vol. v. 

Insall earned his V.C. the Military 
Cross was won by Captain Robert 
Loraine, the actor, for a more thrilling 
" turn" than he was ever likely to give 
on the British stage. An ardent aviator 
before the war, he was now on the 
special reserve of the Royal Flying- 
Corps, and on the occasion in question 
fought a successful duel with a German 
Albatross biplane. Attacking it within 
15 yards, at a height of 9000 feet, he 
forced the enemy to dive, following the 
hostile machine to 600 feet, when it fell 
in our lines. The German pilot was hit, 
and his camera and wireless transmitter 
were found to have bullet-holes through 
them. The British gunner was Lieu- 
tenant the Hon. E. Fox Pitt Lubbock, 
a younger son of the first Lord Ave- 
bury, attached to the Royal Flying- 
Corps from the Army Service Corps, 
who fired deliberately and with effect 
during- that breathless and almost ver- 
tical dive, when the pilot was fully 
occupied. He, too, received the Mili- 
tary Cross; also won for similar deeds 
of daring during these closing months 
of 1915 by Second- Lieutenant H. S. 
Shield, Royal Flying Corps, Second- 
Lieutenant S. H. Long, attached to 
the same corps, from the Durham 
Light Infantry, Captain G. A. K. 
Lawrence, Royal Artillery and Royal 
Flying- Corps, whose niachine on 
one occasion was hit in no fewer than 
seventy places, in spite of which he 
carried on and completed his three- 
hour reconnaissance; and Lieutenant 
G. Lindsay Cruickshank, Gordon 
Highlanders and Royal Flying Corps, 
for " successfully carrying- out a special 
mission involving very great risk". 
On November 28 Lieutenant (Tem- 

189 190 


The Great World War 

porary Captain) G. L. P. Henderson, 
of the Special Reserve of the Royal 
Flying- Corps, crowned a nine months' 
record of "conspicuous and consistent 
gallantry and skill" and won the Mili- 
tary Cross by an exciting series of 
attacks in the air between Lille and La 
Bassde, in the course of which he drove 
down one Albatross, put two other 
hostile machines to flight, and then, 
under anti-aircraft fire, 
chased two more ma- 
chines and drove them 
off Four days later, 
when on escort to a 
bombing expedition 
near Don, he was hit 
in the head by a bullet 
while fiohtinga German 
machine; but, thouoh 
partially stunned and 
half - blinded, he suc- 
ceeded in brinorinof his 
own machine back to 
his aerodrome. An- 
other fine record with 
the Royal Flying 
Corps, also extending 
over nine months, was 
rewarded with the D.S.O.on December 
19, when Captain M. M'Bean Bell- 
Irving, of the Special Reserve, success- 
fully engaged three hostile machines 
between Lille and Ypres. 

"The first", says the Gazette, "he drove 
off, the second he sent to the ground in 
flames, and the third nose-dived and dis- 
appeared. He was then attacked by three 
other hostile machines from above, but he 
flew off towards Ypres, and chased a ma- 
chine he saw in that direction. He over- 
hauled it, and had got to within 100 yards, 
when he was wounded b)- a shell and had to 

The new year soon added to these 
well-earned laurels of the Royal Flying 
Corps. One of the first honours of 
1 91 6, if not the very first, was the 
Military Cross awarded to Captain 
W. D. S. Sanday, who went out on 
January i in a very high wind to 
observe the fire of a battery near 
Hulluch, and owing to the clouds 
was forced to fly at a height of no 

Aeroplanes on the German Front: an Albatross biplane 

more than between 800 and 900 feet. 
Nothing daunted by the heavy rifle-fire 
to which he was continually subjected, 
he did not return until he had enabled 
our battery to score several direct hits. 
One of the youngest heroes of the Buffs, 
Second - Lieutenant Frank Hudson, 
attached to the Royal Flying Corps, 
was similarly decorated in the early 
months of this year for skill and gal- 
lantry on several occasions. " This 
young officer", to quote from the 
Gazette, " is only eighteen years of age, 
but has many times driven off enemy 

The Coming of the Fokker 


machines and twice forced them to 
the ground." Once he was severely 
wounded in the head, but successfully- 
completed his aerial reconnaissance, 
althouoh after recrossino- our line and 
landing at an aerodrome he at once 
lost consciousness. More dramatic 
still was the magnificent feat of Lieu- 
tenant M. Henderson, of the Seaforth 
Highlanders and Royal Flying Corps, 
who was struck by a shell from a 
German anti-aircraft gun. The shell 
passed through the nacelle of Lieu- 
tenant Henderson's machine and took 
oft" his left leg just below the knee; 
but in spite of this he succeeded in de- 
scending from a height of 7000 feet and 
landing 3000 yards behind our line, 
thus saving his aeroplane and the life 
of the observer as well. For this he 
received the D.S.O. 

It was about this period that the 
Fokker monoplanes, with their powers 
of rapid climbing and quick pursuit, 
enabled the Germans to challenge the 
undoubted supremacy hithertoobtained 
by the Royal Flying Corps over the 
enemy on the Western front. During 
the first year of the war the ascendancy 
of the British air service had been 
remarkable. More than anything else, 
as the Under-Secretary for War pointed 
out in reply to criticisms in the House 
of Commons, it had been a moral 
ascendancy, and not due to the 
superiority of our engines. The Ger- 
mans "hardly dared to go over the 
British lines at all, showing how greatly 
superior we were in men and material". 
!t was amazing, added Mr. Tennant, 
that they had not wakened up earlier 
to the situation. 

"They had done so now; they had pro- 

vided themselves with better machines than 
they had formerly possessed, though not 
machines as good as ours — and at this late 
period of the war they had arrived at the 
position of being able to encounter our air- 
men in the air." 

The Fokker development came 
somewhat as a surprise, and we had 
to pay the penalty, but the new tactics 
were soon met "quite satisfactorily". 
Our aerial reconnaissances, thouorh 
under more hazardous conditions, were 
still carried out with the greatest pos- 
sible regularity, and entirely, it was 
said, to the satisfaction of the new 
Commander-in-Chief, Sir Douglas 
Haio". Thouorh for the moment the 
majority of the German aeroplanes 
were probably faster than the majority 
of ours, that state of things was beino- 
rapidly altered. 

Certain German experts, like Lieu- 
tenants Immelmann and Captain 
Boelke,^ claimed formidable lists of 
Allied victims, but the measure of the 
Fokkers was soon taken by such British 
flyers as Lieutenant (Temporary Cap- 
tain) Eustace Grenfell, of the Royal 
Artillery and Royal Flying Corps, who, 
single-handed, attacked three of these 
machines and brought every one down. 
Captain Grenfell, who, added the 
Gazette, had " shown great bravery 
and initiative at all times", was awarded 
the Military Cross for this triple event. 
Here is another gallant episode, simi- 
larly rewarded, the heroes in this case 
being Second - Lieutenant Thomas 

^ Immelmann, who claimed to have brought down fif- 
teen machines, was himself brought down in June, 1916, 
by a British airman. Boelke, who, at that period, was 
credited with having brought down eighteen machines, 
was unofticially, and erroneously, reported to have been 
killed about the same time by a French airman. 


The Great World War 

Howe, of the Connaught Rangers 
and Royal Flyino Corps, and Second- 
Lieutenant Edward Leggatt, Wilt- 
shire Regiment and Royal Flying 
Corps, who first attacked one hostile 
machine and drove it down and then 
climbed again and attacked another. 
By a combination of good flying and 
shooting they hit the German pilot, 
damaged his machine, and forced it to 
descend within our lines, where both 
occupants were made prisoners. 

The war was carried to the enemy's 
aerodromes, where these new machines 
were known to be housed. One night 
a daring raid was made by Captain 
J. E. Tennant, Scots Guards and Royal 
Flying Corps, who, on approaching one 
of the German aerodromes, shut off his 
engine in order to avoid givino- warn- 
ing, hazarding the risk of not being- 
able to start it again. Descending to 

T,o feet of the sheds in which the aero- 
planes were housed, his own machine 
was damaged by the explosion of his 
bombs at so low a height; but he 
succeeded in reaching the British aero- 
drome in safety. "On his return," 
we are officially informed. Captain 
Tennant, whose gallant deed was re- 
warded with the D.S.O., "requested 
permission to take another machine 
and repeat the operation". Another 
daring feat about this period was that 
of Second- Lieutenant Henry J. F. 
Yates, Royal Flying Corps, who, 
having been instructed to destroy an 
enemy waterworks, found on arrival 
that the place was defended by anti- 
aircraft guns, and infantry .lying on 
their backs, who at once opened a 
fierce fire. Notwithstanding this, he 
pluckily descended to 600 feet, and, 
dropping a bomb in the very centre of 

A Useful Capture by the Allies : a German Fokker monoplnne brought down intact on the Western Front 

Fighting the Fokkers 


the waterworks, effectually destroyed 
the place. This done, Lieutenant 
Yates, who had distinguished himself 
by gallant and skilful work on a previous 
occasion, and now earned the Military 
Cross, attacked a machine-gun detach- 
ment and drove it from its position by 
fire from his own machine-oun. With 
such officers as these — and their num- 
ber was legion- there was little fear 
of the mastery of the air passing into 
German hands. The non - commis- 
sioned officers and men were just as 
keen. Their courage was exemplified 
in the case of Corporal C. H. Nott, 
who, while acting as gunner during" 
one of these attacks in the air, was 
hit in the eye, and for a time, which, 
though short, must have seemed an 
eternity to the pilot, was rendered un- 
conscious, the machine being also con- 
siderably shot about, and the engine 
damaged. On recovering conscious- 
ness. Corporal Nott "at once made 
use of his gun, with such effect that he 
drove off the enemy's aeroplane, which 
had pressed the attack". Without the 
fine pluck of this gallant non-com- 
missioned officer, " who is likely to 
lose his eye", adds the Gazette in re- 
cording his award of the D.C.M., 
there is little doubt that the machine 
and personnel would have been lost. 
Another gunner has left a vivid ac- 
count of a fight with a number of 
Fokker machines, in which he took 
part while on patrol duty some 60 
miles over the enemy's lines. The 
Fokkers as usual attacked from the 
rear, with the object of swooping on 
the slower-moving craft like hawks, on 
their prey, but the British machine 
rose to a height of between 14,000 

and 15,000 feet before the fioht beoan. 
Then the British flyers waited for the 
enemy to get near. " Mind and give 
them some lead", said the officer pilot; 
and the gunner, in the letter after- 
wards quoted in the Times, describes 
how he waited until the leading Fokker 
was "ridiculously near", and then 
emptied a full magazine into her. " The 
machine fell like a log out of sight", 
and the rest of the pursuers changed 
their tactics. The next one came 
more to the front, but this, too, the 
gunner succeeded in hitting and send- 
ing it nose-diving towards the ground; 
but before the British airmen could 
see the result another Fokker took 
them by surprise, and the British 
gunner was wounded with a bullet 
that went through his thioh. 

" Almost at the same moment an anti- 
aircraft shell hit us, blowing my seat away, 
large pieces of shell piercing my thick 
leather flying-jacket. I was stunned for a 
time, but was in no position to do a faint, 
so I pulled myself together and we made 
for our lines, then some 50 miles awa)', 
doing 'ducks and drakes' to avoid anti-air- 
craft shells." 

Luckily they reached the British 
lines in safety, and our wounded air- 
man was soon fighting his battles over 
again from a more comfortable berth 
in a hospital at the base. 

In the trenches — to retrace our 
steps to the infantry fighting-line on 
the British front — the close of the 
year 1915 had brought with it little 
desire for the unofficial truce which 
had led to the remarkable fraternizine 
during the Christmastide of 19 14. As 
mentioned in the Canadian chapter, 
the Lusitaiu'a and Nurse Cavell 

The Great World War 


A Duel in Mid-air: drawn by a French aviator 

A thrilling fight took place between the Fokker monoplane and the Farinan biplane shown above. The German swooped 
down towards its French opponent, c.nd the two machines were only a few inches apart when they passed each other. A second 
Farnian hurried up, and it was one of the aviators of this machine who m?-^' .",.c urawing now reproduced. 

crimes were still unforoettable and 
unforgivable, and out beyond the 
British trenches were the dead bodies 
of com, ^^des over which none could 
meet the enemy in any spirit of peace 
and goodwill. The one carol heard 
in most trenches on this Christmas 
Eve was the remorseless sound of 
the guns. Christmas Eve itself was 
ushered in by one of the Belfast bat- 
talions of the Royal Irish Rifles with 
a plucky deed in which Second- Lieu- 
tenant J. F. Stevenson won the Mili- 
tary Cross. He was returning in the 
small hours of the morning from a 
successful reconnaissance, when two of 
his men were killed and his own re- 

volver was knocked out of his hand. 
Coming across one man who was badly 
wounded, he crawled with him on his 
back for some 50 yards, when the man 
was hit a second time. Again the 
officer got him on his back, and this 
time managed to carry him 200 yards, 
to our wire, where, with assistance, he 
finally got him through and back to 
our trenches. A few weeks previously 
a similar deed was placed to the credit 
of another battalion of the Royal Irish 
Rifles, also belonging to Belfast, sta- 
tioned near Beaumont Hamel. Hear- 
ing that a wounded man was lying 
out near the German lines, Second- 
Lieutenant H. de la Maziere Harpur 

■'Handy Men" in the Trenches 


and Company-Sergeant W. D. Magoo- 
kin went to his rescue. They had to 
search over 350 yards before they 
found the missing man lying helpless 
only some 20 yards from a German 
listening - post. Though the enemy 
opened fire on them with rifles and 
machine-guns, they carried him back 
in safety to the British lines. The 
London Irish, who had been in the 
forefront of the fray on the first day of 
the Battle of Loos, again distinguished 
themselves on December 16, 191 5, 
while holding an exposed position in 
the front line at the Quarries, near 
Hulluch, the stern struggle for which 
had never ceased since the Allied 
offensive had been launched on the 
morning of September 25. For his 
conspicuous gallantry and ability while 
in command of this exposed position, 
when a succession of violent bomb- 
attacks was delivered by the enemy, 
Second- Lieutenant Ronald G. Munro 
earned the Military Cross, and Private 
J. Tilley the D.C.M. During the 
first attack, when the barrier had been 
blown down and all the available Lon- 
don Irish bombs buried. Private Tilley 
sent back his remaining comrades to 
get more bombs, and held up the 
enemy single-handed at the critical 
point till reinforcements arrived. 

Six days later three enterprising 
privatesof the Highland Light Infantry 
— J. Savage, P. Donnelly, and A. 
Campbell — won the D.C.M. for a 
valiant piece of work while on a 
bombing patrol at Cuinchy. Stealing 
up to a crater close to the German 
wire, they reached the edge and threw 
sixteen bombs at the enemy working 
inside it. Subjected as they were to 

heavy rifle-fire, the enterprise was ren- 
dered the more hazardous by the heavy 
state of the ground, but they got away 

The most memorable incident of all 
at the turn of the year in the fighting- 
line was the friendly visit of a party of 
seamen of the Grand Fleet, who, as it 
happened, came in for a furious burst 
of strafing while in the trenches oppo- 
site a certain place about the Quarries, 
near Hulluch, where the London Irish, 
as mentioned above, had recently re- 
pelled a succession of bomb attacks. 
Arriving at the Western front on 
December 30, 191 5, the naval party 
went into the trenches the same day, 
and were visiting that afternoon the 
very section of our front selected by 
the Germans for the simultaneous fir- 
ing of five mines. The explosions 
were terrific, and could be heard for 
miles. Some of our troops were buried 
in the wreckage, and a few casualties 
were caused, but there was no trace of 
panic among the men holding the line. 
For a time, however, the local position 
was critical, and the "Handy Men" 
helped to save it. 

" The Royal Navy party ", stated the 
official report, " rose to the occasion splen- 
didly. Two of them, on seeing a Vickers 
gun-team knocked out, manned the gun at 
once and kept it in action most usefully for 
some time. Many took rifles and fired 
away hard. The remainder helped to re- 
cover and assist the wounded. The Bri- 
gadier-General, in recommending that the 
prompt and plucky action of the navy 
party should be recognized, expressed his 
admiration of their conduct on behalf of all 
ranks of his brigade." 

For their pluck and initiative on 


The Great World War 

this occasion Ship's-Corporal William 
C. Hatherly and Petty-Officer William 
Brioht were awarded the Distinsfuished 
Service Medal. 

Although there were no international 
conversations to celebrate the occasion 
in No- Man's- Land, the New Year was 
ushered in with the most cordial greet- 
ings between the Allied armies and 
their rulers. Kino- Georoe's messaoe 
to the French nation and the French 
army eloquently expressed His Ma- 
jesty's confidence in the ultimate 
triumph of the sacred cause for which 
they were all fighting — a cause, as 
President Poincare said in reply, 
" which concerns not only the exist- 
ence of the Allied countries but the 
liberty of all peoples". Lord French's 
successor at the front sent the follow- 
ing message on the same occasion to 
General Joffre: — 

^''Jauieary /, igi6. 

" I beg you to accept, in my own name 
and that of the British army in France, 
greeting and good wishes for the coming 
year. The year that has passed has knit 
yet more closely the ties that unite our two 
nations, and I pray and believe that in the 
year to come our united strength will enable 
us finally to drive the enemy far beyond the 
borders of your beloved country. I beg you 
to accept, on this New Year's Day, from all 
ranks under my command, our sentiments 
of deep friendship and admiration for your- 
self and the armies of France. 

"General Haig." 

To which General Joffi^e replied: — 

" I beg you to accept my most earnest 
thanks for your good wishes. I trust that 
the mutual confidence and co-operation of 
all ranks will lead to the still greater success 
of our combined efforts, and enable us to 
defeat our enemies completely. At the com- 

mencement of the New Year I wish to ex- 
press, on my behalf and on behalf of the 
troops under my command, the feelings of 
deep sympathy and affectionate comrade- 
ship which we all feel for you and the 
British armies under your command. 

"J. Joffre." 

The total losses on the British front 
in France and P landers down to Janu- 
ary 9, 1916, given below from the 
official figures supplied by the Prime 
Minister to the House of Commons, 
showed how urgent was the need of 
men to repair the wastage of war, and 
foreshadowed the passing of the Mili- 
tary Service Bill a few months later. 
These were in addition to 148,957 
casualties in the Dardanelles and other 
theatres of war down to the same 
period, making a grand total of 








5, '38 






The most noteworthy local opera- 
tions" early in the new year on the 
British front were the series of Ger- 
man infantry attacks in the Ypres 
salient, between February 8 to 1 9, pre- 
ceded, as a rule, by mine explosions 
and intense bombardment. These 
subsidiary operations, designed partly 
to secure local points of vantage, were 
also probably meant, as Sir Douglas 
Haig observed, to distract attention 
from the impending struggle for Ver- 
dun, which began on P'ebruary 21, 

Fresh Attacks against Ypres 


19 1 6. The first attack of 19 16 round 
Ypres took place on February 12 at 
the extreme left of our line to the 
north of Ypres, after several days' 
heavy shelling- over the whole of this 
area. Here the 4th German Army 
Corps, holding- the front between 
Ypres and the sea, launched an attack 

Map showing ihe Scene of the German Attacks on the 
British Line north of Ypres, February, 1916 

fanwise upon the small salient marked 
by Steenstraate, Het Sast, and Pilkem. 
where the British troops linked up with 
the right wing of the F'rench army, 
which extended " Joffre's Wall " to 
the point at which the Belgians com- 
pleted it to the sand-dunes on the 
coast. Success at this point would 
probably have given the Germans 
possession of a section ot the Yser 
Canal, from which they had been 
lluno- back after the Second Battle of 

Ypres, and raised fresh hopes of an- 
other bid for Calais, some 45 miles 
away. The formidable preparations for 
a great attack in this direction, how- 
ever, were merely a feint to cover the 
real objective of the spring offensive 
at Verdun. A great show of serious 
business was made behind the German 
lines, and the first bombing-attack in 
the early morning- of February 1 2 gave 
the enemy a foothold in our first line 
near Pilkem; but the counter-attack 
which was immediately organized en- 
abled us to clear the foe out of our 
trenches and to pursue them to their 
own. The German wireless claimed 
that forty British prisoners were cap- 
tured in this fiohtino-, the truth beino- 
as our own General Head-quarters 
pointed out, that we had only eleven 
men missino-, of whom eio^ht were be- 
lieved to have been killed, and three 
lost in pursuing the enemy back to the 
hostile line. It was easier to prove 
the enemy's deliberate falsehoods in a 
small affair of this kind than in such 
titanic struggles as the approaching 
bid for Verdun, when his exaooera- 
tions assumed proportionate dimen- 

The threat against Ypres, in order 
to [)in down the British army during 
the critical clays of February, was 
continued in the Pilkem region to 
the north of the town ; in the neigh- 
bourhood of Hooge, to the east; and 
on the bank of the Ypres-Comines 
Canal, to the south. In the north, 
after further bombardment on both 
sides, the German fire aoa-in increased 
in intensity, preparatory to another in- 
fantry assault, a second attempt then 
beinu" made to rush our extreme left — 


The Great World War 

this time entirely without success. In 
several other places in the neighbour- 
hood, as well as opposite the French 
lines beyond, the German infantry got 
over their parapets in scattered bodies 
of from 20 to 80 men, but were imme- 
diately repulsed by rifle and machine- 
gun fire. . 

" Throughout the operations ", wrote Sir 
Douglas Haig, " our position in this part of 
the line remained intact, except that two 
isolated trenches of no tactical importance 
were captured by the enemy a day or two 
later; they were obliterated by our artillery 
fire. Throughout this fighting the French 
on our immediate left rendered us the 
prompt and valuable assistance we have at 
all times received from them." 

The attacks to the east of Ypres, in 
the crumpled and cratered region of 
Hooge, were similarly dealt with. 
Since our own demonstrations in the 
same district at the time of the battle 
of Loos the enemy had pushed out 
several saps in front of his trenches, 
connecting them up into a firing-line 
some 150 yards from our positions. 
Here, during the whole of February 1 3, 
while his threatening operations were 
in progress to the north, he heavily 
bombarded our front - line trenches, 
and completely destroyed them. Fol- 
lowing this came an intense bombard- 
ment on the afternoon of the 14th, 
when the enemy exploded his series of 
mines in front of our positions, simul- 
taneously launching infantry attacks 
against Hooge and the northern and 
southern ends of Sanctuary Wood. 
Each of these attacks, however, was 
repulsed by our artillery, machine-gun, 
and rifle fire. 

Farther to the south the enemy was 

more successful. Our position on the 
northern bank of the Ypres-Comines 
Canal was of considerable tactical 
value, including a narrow ridge of rising 
ofround which had been a source of 
annoyance to the enemy for many 
months. This narrow ridge, some 30 
to 40 feet high, and close, at its 
northern extremity, to the famous 
Hill 60, was covered with trees, and 
was probably the heap formed by 
excavation when the canal was made. 
A feature of the flat-wooded country 
at the southern bend of the Ypres 
salient, it ran outward through our 
territory almost into the German area, 
with our trenches passing over the 
eastern point of it. This point was 
known as the Bluff, and it dominated 
a sector in which our guns, our raiders, 
and our bombing patrols had long 
made the enemy's life wellnigh un- 

The Germans prepared the way for 
their massed attack on this annoying 
position by a concentrated bombard- 
ment on the afternoon of the 14th 
which almost obliterated our trenches, 
and, with the additional explosion of 
five mines, rendered the ruins un- 
tenable. Then, with a sudden rush 
of infantry at nightfall, they succeeded 
in capturing these and other front-line 
trenches north of the Bluff — some 600 
yards in all. The infantry attacks 
extended over 4000 yards, but every- 
where else were repulsed with heavy 
loss to the enemy. In the darkness 
and confusion of the assault two of our 
miners, emerging from one of our saps 
in the midst of the German invasion, 
had a remarkable escape. With rare 
presence of mind they joined the flow- 

The Battle for the Bluff 


ing tide until an opportunity came to 
escape from the maze of ruins, when 
they crept back to their comrades in 
their new positions. Counter-attacks 
were at once organized, and two of 
the lost trenches prompdy recaptured, 
but the enemy maintained his hold on 
400 of the 600 yards 
of what had come to be 
known as the " Inter- 
national Trench", fi'oiii 
the fact that it had 
changed hands fre- 
quently in the previous 

On the niorht of the 
15th- 1 6th another 
counter - attack was 
made, our advance be- 
ginning across the open 
on the north side of 
the canal, while our 
bombers advanced 

along the communica- 
tion trenches immedi- 
ately north of the Bluff. 

"The night", to quote 
from Sir Douglas Haig's 
dispatch, " was very dark, 
and heavy rain had turned 
the ground into a quag- 
mire, so that progress was 

sisted chiefly of transforming the Bluff 
into a death-trap for the enemy. Our 
gunners had the range exactly and kept 
the battered trenches under continuous 
bombardment, besides maintaining a 
curtain of fire beyond, so that German 
reinforcements could only be moved 

Map showing the Scene of the German Attacks East and South-east of 
Ypres during February, 1916 

he " Bkiff'' and International Trench lie on the wooded hill north of the Ypres-Coniines 
Canal and south of Hill 60. 

difficult for the attacking 
force, which was unable to consolidate its 
position in the face of heavy machine-gun 
and rifle fire. After the failure of this attack 
it was decided to adopt slower and more 
methodical methods of recapturing the lost 
trenches, and nothing of special importance 
occurred in the Ypres salient during the rest 
of the month, although both sides displayed 
rather more than the usual activity." 

up at a heavy cost. After paying this 
high price for seventeen days another 
British counter-attack not only robbed 
the foe of his precarious foothold, but 
also won, in revenge, a section of 
his own front line. This turning of 
the tables was the result of careful and 
elaborate planning, following a great 
feint on March i which the enemy, 
The more methodical methods con- mistakino- a sudden crescendo of artil- 


The Great World War 

lery fire for the beginning of a grand 
assault, fondly imagined he had effectu- 
ally crushed by his own guns. When 
the real assault was launched at 4.29 
a.m. on March 2 our infantry effected 
a complete surprise, finding the enemy 
in the International Trench with their 
bayonets unfixed, and many of them 
without rifles or equipment. In point 
of fact the Germans were planning 
a new offensive of their own at the 
same moment, and fresh troops, ap- 
parently, were taking over the posi- 
tion when the British troops charged 
out of the darkness into their midst. 
They were the right-hand assaulting 
party, whose objective was the Bluff, 
while the centre and left attacking 
parties carried the offensive into the 
German lines beyond. So com- 
pletely were the Germans off their 
guard in the International Trench 
that they offered little opposition to 
the right-hand attack. About fifty of 
them took refuge in a crater at the 
«- eastern end of the Bluff, where they 
sonj- up a brief resistance before dis- 
Here.iring in the tunnels they had 
while hucted since their capture of the 
in progre. In these tunnels they were 
bombarded taken at leisure. 
and completie the centre attack, whose 
lowing this (-eached its assigned objec- 
ment on thjt much opposition, swept 
when the en to the German third line, 
mines in fraized at the eastern end of 
taneously h 
against Hoc 

southern en' "> ^^'^'^te Sir Douglas Haig, in 

Each of the.^^^^^>' ^9, I9i6,"wa.s not suit- 

1 A k >ermanentl\-, but it pro\'ecl use- 

t^ y jorarv coverino; position while 

anu rine nre. trenches in rear were being 

Farther tC and at niuhtfall the covering 

party was withdrawn unmolested. The later 
waves of our centre attack met and cap- 
tured, after some fighting, several Germans 
coming out of their dug-outs. 

"The left attacking party, at the first 
attempt, failed to reach the German 
trenches, but those who had penetrated to 
the German line on the right realized the 
situation and brought a Lewis gun to bear 
on the enemy's line of resistance, completely 
enfilading his trenches, and thus enabling 
the left company to reach its goal. Thus 
our objective, which included a part of the 
German line, as well as the whole of the 
front lost by us on February 14, was cap- 
tured, and is still held by us. Several 
counter-attacks were destroyed by our fire. 
The enemy's trenches were found full of 
dead as a result of our bombardment, and 
5 officers and 25 1 other ranks were captured. 
The support of the heavy and field artillery 
and a number of trench mortars contributed 
largely to the success of the operation." 

Elsewhere alono- the British front 
the winter campaign of 191 5-16 wore 
away with little to vary the monotony 
of trench warfare and the daily toll of 
such operations as the mining and 
crater fighting in the Loos salient. 
We could still boast the best-fed and 
best-spirited army that ever took the 
field, and with the steady accumulation 
of guns and munitions, the arrival of 
steel helmets and all the other acces- 
sories of modern campaigning, it was 
in a fair way to becoming the best- 
equipped fighting force in the whole 
world-wide war. It was not privileged 
to share with F" ranee the glory of the 
defence of Verdun during the mighty 
battle which began on February 21, 
1916, but it remained ready to co- 
operate throughout. It had its light 
amusements as well as its grim work 
in the fighting-line. Apart from the 

r >.^n by M. LgO 

Directing an Attacic on tiie British From: scene at a brigade head-quarters, "somewhere in France** 

No exterior appearance was allowed to make tlie location of Brigade Head-quarters conspicuous to enemy eyes. From this point 
would be directed an attack on the enemy's lines after the broad oniline of the operations had been discussed at Army Head-quarters. 
Staff officers are shown sending their orders by the written message and the telephone along tlieir section of the front. 



The Great World War 

crude amenities of the trenches there 
were recreation huts in the background, 
miHtary bands in the vast training- 
camps of the new armies, with inter- 
regimental football matches, sports, 
occasional concerts and theatricals, 
and boxing competitions. But though 
the British army was only called upon 
during the period covered by Sir 
Douglas Haig's first dispatch to re- 
lieve our Allied troops on that part of 

their defensive front extending fronv 
Loos to beyond Arras, it was far fronli 
idle or inactive. It developed its parj- 
tiality for raiding parties by making; 
these at least twice or three times at 
week, and in every other form of locajj! 
activity showed the enemy that it 
awaited the next round in the interl- 
national fight with eaeer and increas-- 

ing" confidence. 

F. A. M. 



(April, 1915-April, 1916) 

Position of Russian Army of the Caucasus after Sarikamish — From the Chorok to Lake Van and 
Lake Urmia — Southern Advance of Russians — Success in the Lake Van Region — First Northern Move- 
ment on Lake Tortum — Advance to Hassankala — The Deve Boyun Ridge and the Defences of Erzerum 
— The Principal Group of Protecting Forts — Russian Storming Attack of Tafta Forts — The Fight in the 
Guraji Boghar Pass — Collapse of the Turkish Defence — Captures at Erzerum and After — The Coastal 
Advance on Trebizond — Attack on Kara Dere Position — Force Landed West of Trebizond — Fall of Trebi- 
zond — Capture of Mush and Bitlis. 

BEFORE the close of the year 
19 14, when German miHtary 
power was far from its zenith, 
and when the forces of Austria- Hun- 
gary were showing their crying want 
of that organization which Germany 
presently applied to them, the Turkish 
armies were in process of revealing 
that they had scarcely any organiza- 
tion at all. Although to a great ex- 
tent officered by Germans, and their 
strategy apparently dictated from 
German Head-quarters, the Turkish 
forces in Asia Minor collapsed hope- 
lessly in the attempt to take the offen- 
sive against the Russian Army of the 
Caucasus. In late December, 19 14, 

as described in an earlier chapter, 
General Liman von Sanders, attempt- 
ing the invasion of the Caucasus 
with three Turkish army corps, the 
9th, loth, and nth, was decisively 
defeated at Sarikamish. The 9th 
Corps was reduced to flying frag- 
ments, the iith Corps, coming to its 
succour, was driven over the frontier 
at Kara-Urgan, and fell back on the 
fortified base of Erzerum. The roth 
Corps to the northward, whose part 
it had been to aid the 9th and nth 
by crossing the ridges and outflank- 
ing the Russian defences at Kars, 
behind Sarikamish, was also beaten — 
by the difficulty of its task as well as 

The New Viceroy of the Caucasus 


by the Russian resistance — and fell 
back to the valley of the River 

One of the main roads — they are 
few and they are not magnificent — 
leads from Kars to Sarikamish, and 
thence south - westwards across the 
frontier till it comes to Kopri Keui, 

sian line by the hammer blow of the 
Dunajec. It was not till August, 191 5, 
had brought the Austro-German East- 
ern campaign to an end, and the "bolt 
had been shot" at the Wilna salient, 
that Yudenitch made any attempt to 
waken his Caucasian bears from their 
winter sleep. He had patiently im- 

Russia's Giant Commander-in-Chief in t'le Caucasus: the Grand Duke Nicholas at an inspection of troops 

and then turns westwards to Erzerum. 
General Yudenitch, the Commander 
of the Russian Army of the Caucasus, 
was now comfortably astride this main 
road, and there he stayed waiting for 
the favourable moment to prosecute 
his adventure. He had long to wait. 
The spring took the fiower of his 
troops to Galicia, where the armies 
of the Dniester were struggling to 
repair the breach driven in the Rus- 

proved his positions, and when the 
Grand Duke Nicholas, after handing 
over the titular leadership of the main 
armies to the Tsar, took the office of 
Viceroy of the Caucasus, Yudenitch's 
forces were strung along a line which 
began in the north at the Chorok 
River, thence due south to Lake Tor- 
tum ; then at an obtuse angle, south- 
east, for nearly 150 miles along the 
caravan road to Bayazid; finally, an- 


The Great World War 

other 100 miles south along the Turco- 
Persian frontier to Lake Urmia. On 
the north the Chorok River section 
protected Kars from invasion. I'he 
thinly strung line flung far to the 
south was to prevent an incursion of 
Turkish or Turco-German forces into 


then there is a long stretch of desolate 
country bisected by the beginnings of 
the Euphrates, here running not south, 
but in a swilt mountain torrent to the 
west, before one arrives at the great 
Lake Van. West of Lake Van are 
Mush, which is just by the young 
Euphrates, and Bitlis, which is 40 

Photo. Underwood & Underwood 

The Track of the War in Asia Minor: the devastated city of Van, once the capital of an Armenian kingdom 

Chorok River, which rises 50 miles 
on the Constantinople side of Erzerum, 
runs between it and the Black Sea 
roughly parallel for 100 miles to the 
Black Sea's southern shore before it 
turns sharply northward to flow into 
the sea at Batoum. Lake Tortum lies 
between Erzerum and the Chorok 
valley ; at its northern end is Tew, 
and at its southern end Ardash. The 
next stage south is Kopri Keui, and 

miles south. Lake Urmia is far to 
the south-east, and the other neigh- 
bouring town which it is of import- 
ance to keep in mind, when reviewing 
the Russian operations in Asia Minor, 
is Diarbekr, nearly 100 miles west of 
Bitlis, and on the head waters of the 
Tigris. A glance at the map will 
show that the Euphrates flows in a 
great loop, which curves right round 
the course of the Tigris. 

Pushing the Turks Back from Van 

/ / 

The character of the fightino", when 
the time for action arrived, differed 
from that of any other front. The 
country was everywhere mountainous 
and desolate, the roads hardly existent, 
the communications in consequence 
maintained with great difficulty. An 
advance by either army strained the 
transport to the utmost. The army 
which could best cope with this handi- 
cap was the one that would win, and 
other things being equal the army 
most likely to do so was the one that 
could march best. That army was 
the Russian army, the most enduring 
marchers of any Power, and apart from 
the strategic and organizing ability of 
General Yudenitch, this factor was the 
one which most contributed to the suc- 
cess attained by his forces. It was 
impossible to entrench the whole of 
that long mountainous territory where 
the armies confronted one another, 
and consequently in Asia Minor the 
combination of fightino- and marchino- 
ability came to its own, and triumphed 
over that which required the protec- 
tion of entrenchment to give it oppor- 
tunity. The Turkish army had good 
soldiers, but it contained too great a 
proportion of raw soldiers, untrained 
and unhandled, to be of use unless 
commanded by genius. 

The Russian plan made best use of 
the capacities of its soldiers. 1 1 pivoted 
on its defences before Kars and on its 
perfected line of communications along 
the Sarikamish road, and swung for- 
ward, its left wing stretching far to the 
south and to Lake Van. It began to 
push back the Turks from the district 
north of Lake Van (the Van vilayet) 
along the upper Euphrates valley, and 

about the middle of July reached a 
line stretchinij from MelasQferd, on the 
northern tip of the lake, to Ahlat. 
Here it came into contact with con- 
siderable Turkish forces in chosen and 
fortified positions. These positions the 
Turks continued to reinforce, having 
by this time apprehended the intention 
of the Russian movements. 

In drivingr back the Turkish riorht 
wing during July from the valley of 
the upper Euphrates, the Russians 
occupied the vilayet of Van and the 
town of Van itself Their arriva. 
was timely for the Armenian popu- 
lation, for after its abandonment by 
the Turks it was threatened by the 
bands of Kurdish robbers, who acted 
as spies, auxiliaries, and jackals to 
the regular Turkish troops. The 
Armenians were fortunately able to 
organize some sort of defences of 
the town against the attacks of these 
brigands; and their resistance is one 
of the curious and little-known inci- 
dents of a war so vast that many such 
deeds of courage and endurance pass 

General Yudenitch had to dislodge 
the Turks from their stronghold before 
their reinforcement should make it 
hazardous or impossible, and he con- 
sequently attacked them on the front 
which is called in the Russian dis- 
patches the Kop Kormundy positions. 
After sustaining repeated onslaughts 
the Turks broke and fell back on their 
reinforcements, which were now com- 
ing up fast from their base at Mush, 
on the Euphrates. The reinforce- 
ments, together with the force driven 
out, made up a force of ten divisions, 
sufficient not only to hold the Russian 

191 192 


The Great World War 

advance in check, but to open up a 
counter-attack. They took the offen- 
sive on July 23, and the Russians fell 
back before them. The Turks con- 
tinued to press forward with more 
precipitancy than prudence, till on 
August 4 they found they had pushed 
into a trap. The Russian account of 
what took place is detailed, and states 

a wide flanking manoeuvre over the 
mountains, and fell on the flank and 
towards the rear of the Turks. The 
point of chief attack is said to have 
been near Dayar. The Turks, who, 
like most raw troops, were very ner- 
vous of being cut off, may have over- 
rated the size of the outflanking force; 
but it is clear that very great confusion 

Before the Russian Occupation of Van : Armenians defending the city against the attacks of the Kurds 

that the Turks, held at the Akhtin 
Pass and the Diadin Valley, along 
each of which they were pushing 
powerful columns, were outflanked at 
both places. What happened appears 
to have been a repetition of the man- 
oeuvre which had proved so disastrous 
to Liman von Sanders at Sarikamish. 
The Russians, holding up the frontal 
attacks along the valleys, though with 
a show of giving way before them, 
used their marching ability to make 

in their ranks resulted, and they began 
to retreat with greater haste than they 
had advanced. The Russians pressed 
them hard, but from the precipitate 
nature of the retreat and the difficulties 
of the ground the captures were not 
large, a fact that confirms the opinion 
that the outflanking Russian forces 
were small, and that the Turks had 
yielded to the first threat at their com- 
munication.s. The surprise had been 
sufficient to secure for the Russians 

Gallipoli, Serbia, 

and the Asiatic Front 


the considerable advantage of dis- 
lodging a very large number of Turks 
from very useful positions ; and they 
utilized their tactical victory with great 
skill. Their outflanking or enveloping 
column seized a pass which was a use- 
ful line of retreat for the Turks on the 
right or western bank of the Euphrates, 
and though the Turks, when the first 
panic of surprise was over, made deter- 
mined efforts to recapture this line of 
retreat, they were unable to do so. 
They were equally unable to hold back 
the Russians at the Merghemin Pass, 
where a day-and-night battle, in which 
the bayonet played a much larger part 
than artillery, resulted in the triumph 
of the Russians at dawn of August 10, 
when* the whole pass was in their 
hands, and the Turkish division, the 
29th, which had held it was in flight. 
The firm hold of these two passes 
enabled the Russians to accelerate the 
pursuit and to establish themselves 
firmly at Chariandagh. The disorgan- 
ized Turkish army retreated along the 
left bank of the Euphrates towards 
Mush, or made its way towards Bitlis; 
and the Russians, securely established 
in a valuable strategic position between 
Lake Van and the Euphrates, consoli- 
dated it. 

There was another long pause, 
chequered by incidents of raids and 
reconnaissances of positions, and by 
attempts to feel the strength of estab- 
lished forces. The Gallipoli expedi- 
tion, which had held up some of the 
best- equipped Turkish troops, had 
subsided into inertia by the autumn, 
and there was the dangerous prospect 
that Turks released from it would be 
sent to reinforce the Asiatic front. 

The German- Austro- Bulgarian attack 
on Serbia in the later part of the 
year was also a ground for suspending 
action, because it was not clear to 
what extent it would absorb the at- 
tention of the British and French 
forces, and so prevent them in their 
turn from diverting Turkish troops 
to other theatres of war. But by the 
beginning of 19 16 the situation for 
good or bad had cleared; and it may 
be noted that at this time the Turks 
were committed as much as the Bri- 
tish to the Mesopotamian enterprise, 
though with less disconcerting results. 
If it had been found possible to relieve 
Townshend at Kut, the Mesopotamian 
expedition would have been not un- 
reasonably acclaimed as a valuable 
diversion of Turkish troops from 
Armenia and the region of Lake Van. 
It was while the Turks were pre- 
occupied with this, the left flank of the 
Russian line and the nearest to their 
communications with Bagdad, that the 
first and heavier Russian blow was 
preparing in the north. The move- 
ment began on Monday, January 10, 
when the Russians surrounded Lake 
Tortum, ;^o miles north-east of Er- 
zerum, driving the Turks out of the 
village of Tew on the north of the 
lake, and of Ardash on the south-east. 
In succeeding days the Russians stif- 
fened their positions at all points, to 
the north of this up to the Black Sea 
coast, where they occupied the little 
seaport of Archava. One road of ad- 
vance, a caravan route, lay along the 
coast, and this good road could be 
protected by a flanking force of Rus- 
sian destroyers. The Russian fleet, 
though unable to prevent occasional 


The Great World War 

raids on the part of the Breslau, had 
now command of the Black Sea. 

A week after tliis first movement 
a oreneral attack was made on the 
Turkish centre at points all along the 
130-mile front, from Lake Tortum to 
the Upper Euphrates. The attack was 
prolonged for three days, and the 
Turks gave before it. They retreated 
in disorder along the roads and tracks 
to Erzerum. Kopri Keui, on the great 
main road from Kars and Sarlkamish, 
was occupied and Turkish supplies 
were captured. Another three days 
saw General Yudenitch, his objective 
now declared, another staoe alonor the 
road at Hassan kala, where he added 
1500 prisoners to war booty, and was 
only 20 miles from Erzerum, though 
the famous Deve Boyun ridge lay 

Deve Boyun ridge is famous, be- 
cause it has been the scene of struggles 
in the past for the fortress; and it is 
the basis of formidable defences aoainst 
any enemy assaulting Erzerum from 
the east, as Seljuks, Mongols, Turks, 
and Russians had done successively 
at intervals extending over six cen- 
turies. Against modern attack and 
modern artillery Erzerum had been 
well fortified by German engineers, 
who had rectified the Deve Boyun 
forts and constructed others on a 
smaller perimeter about the town. 
Erzerum is covered on the south and 
west as well as on the east by high 
ranges. On the north of the small 
enclosed plain in which Erzerum 
stands is a marsh, through which the 
more northerly branch of the Eu- 
phrates flows at the beginning of its 
first westerly curve. There is no way 

for an army through this marsh; an 
invader, unless coming from the west, 
must approach the town through the 
three roads which pierce the eastern 
and southern ranges. As he must 
bring heavy artillery he is presum- 
ably tied to these roads. The first of 
them, rather poor, comes from distant 
Batoum, on the Black Sea, and Olty, 
and pierces the eastern range at the 
gorge of Guraji Boghar. The second, 
by far the best, and the main road of 
invasion at all epochs, comes through 
the range by the Camel's Pass, the 
Deve Boyun. It is more than 6000 
feet above the sea, but only a few 
hundred feet above Erzerum, which 
stands on the high plateau of Asia 
Minor. The Russian railhead was 
only 70 miles east of this pass, and 
the use of the excellent road had 
been increased by the construction of 
a light railway for part of the distance. 
A third road, like another spoke in 
the wheel, comes in from the south, 
climbing a very high ridge of 9000 
feet. It is the road from Mush. 

The Russian attack on Erzerum 
proceeded by the two upper gates, 
the Guraji Boghar and the Deve 
Boyun, and it was the successful 
storming of the second and the lower 
of these two that decided the fate of 
the town. The fortifications of the 
Deve Boyun consisted of four groups 
of works. To the north of the pass, 
which at its summit runs through a 
very narrow gorge, is a very steep 
height called the Tafta. On these 
flankino" northern heiohts were three 
forts, the strongest of which swept 
with its fire the whole of the road 
up to the summit of the pass, and the 

The Storming of the Deve Boyun 


others of which reinforced it and pro- 
tected it. This was the master group 
of the system. Behind it on a ridge 
to the north were other works, which 
all contributed to protect Tafta in the 
event of an enemy trying to get round 
it instead of taking it by direct assault. 
On the south of the pass is the spur 
called the Ahmed Dagh. The highest 
point was crowned with a strong fort, 
and all round it open works which 
either protected it, or commanded the 
road rising up to the pass and the 
plain of Pasine to the east. Protect- 
ing the Ahmed Dagh forts and posi- 
tions were other groups of works, 
similar to those reinforcing Tafta on 
the north, and similarly designed to 
prevent the main fort from being ap- 
proached or circumvented. These 

were south of Ahmed Daoh. Running 
through them (and supplying the mili- 
tary reason for them) is a ravine trc ck 
which was specially covered by bat- 
teries on the Eklikhan Hill and the 
Tchatarli Hill. To the whole series 
of forts the key was Tafta, and the 
system had been constructed on the 
assumption that no besieging force 
would try to rush Tafta directly, but 
would approach it by successive and 
gradual reductions of its supports to 
the south and to the north. The 
Russians confounded these expecta- 
tions by striking directly for the main 
position, and by carrying Tafta before 
most of the other works were reduced. 
The struggle began on the afternoon 
of Friday, February 1 1 : by the 14th 
two works had been carried at the 

Phovo. I. nderwood & Undfrwnoa 

The Russian Advance in Turkish Armenia: g^neml view o' Frzf rur 


The Great World War 

point of the bayonet, and by the after- 
noon of Tuesday the 15th the whole 
position was mastered, and the road 
over the pass was held by the Russians. 
This feat, which filled even Russia's 
allies with surprise, and produced a 
"painful impression" at Berlin, was 
accomplished in one of the worst 
winter months of the year, amid snow 
and ice, and, having regard for the 
difficulties of bringing up heavy artil- 
lery, gave almost the impression that 
the Russians had taken the " impreg- 
nable" Deve Boyun fortifications with 
their fists. There is some ground for 
supposing that the Russians succeeded 
beyond their own expectations by seiz- 
ing an opportunity which had not been 
thought at all likely to present itself; 
and that the storming of the Erzerum 
defences was the outcome of a sudden 
resolution taken by a military genius. 
The Russian Head-quarters strategy 
contemplated originally a gradual pres- 
sure over the whole of the front, with 
a variety of manoeuvres, especially to- 
wards Lake Van, such as would mis- 
lead the Turks as to the place at which 
a blow would be struck at them. But 
the collapse of the Turkish centre, and 
the comparatively easy capture of Has- 
sankala and Kopri Keui determined 
General Yudenitch to keep the Turks 
on the run, and having pursued them 
to the Deve Boyun gates he went 
through after them. But the gate at 
which he first knocked was not that of 
Deve Boyun, but of the pass farther 
north at the Guraji Boghar Pass. The 
Guraji Boghar Pass was protected by 
flanking forts on the Kara Gubek 
heights. The principal fort was well 
placed, so as to command the ap- 

proaches to the pass, and was armed 
with Krupp guns. About four miles 
beyond the height at which this fort 
was situated was a saddle-like depres- 
sion between two peaks of a mountain 
that had been neglected, in consequence 
of its natural difficulties, as a possible 
road of approach. The track through 
this was behind the line defended by 
the forts, and up it the Russians con- 
trived to drag by man power enough 
heavy artillery on sledges to bombard 
the fort. They had the advantages 
of surprise, and a lucky shot found the 
magazine and caused a disastrous ex- 
plosion in the heart of the fort. 

This preliminary and unexpected 
success appeared to disconcert the 
Turkish defences, and under the im- 

riiglibh Miles 
012 A 6 8 

Map illustrating the Russian Attack on the Deve Boyun 
Pass and Advance on Erzerum 

Winter Campaigning in the Caucasus 


Russia's Achievements in Asia Minor: the Staff of the 4th Dnision of Chasseurs of the Caucasus encamped 
on the Katgabazar Plateau during the advance on Erzerum, January, 1916 

pulse of the same kind of panic which 
had seized their field armies when 
their communications were threatened 
in the Lake Van district, their o-^rrisons 
went to pieces. That explanation, if 
it be even partially a correct one, does 
not in any way detract from the fierce 
bravery of the sustained assault by the 
Russians on the Deve Boyun forts, 
which had to be taken, and were in 
fact taken by the bayonet, if the cap- 
ture of the first northern fort of Kara 
Gubek was not to be rendered useless. 
The arrangement and conformation of 
the forts which oruarded the main road 
into Erzerum were such that they 
ouoht to have been able to sustain an 
attack quite independently of the loss 
of the far outlying fort. It could only 

have been the desperate courage of the 
Russian infantrymen, added to the 
resolution and resource of the Russian 
artillerymen and engineers, which 
carried in succession first the main 
forts on Tafta Hill to the north of the 
road through the pass, and then those 
of Ahmed Dagh. 

A little before midday on Wednes- 
day, February 16, the Russian cavalry 
rode into the city along the main road 
through the pass, and was soon joined 
by the separate columns which now 
poured through the Guraji Boghar 
Pass, as well as through the high pass 
piercing the southern hills. One of 
the most curious occurrences of the 
Turkish flioht from, and about, Erze- 
rum took place in the neighbourhood 

1 84 

The Great World War 

of the Guraji Boghar Pass. When the 
Russian decision to close in on Erze- 
rum became evident to the Turks, 
Kiamil Pasha had ordered his wings 
to fall back on the fortress. But the 
Russian spearhead along the Has- 
sankala - Deve - Boyun - Erzerum ap- 
proaches came on more quickly than 
the Turks retiring parallel with their 
march to north and south. The 9th 
Turkish Division from the Lake Van 
region were hindered from doing so 
by the more rapid movement of the 
Russians from the Melasgerd district. 
But the loth Turkish Division on 
the winof north of Erzerum had retired 
much more slowly, occasionally turn- 
ing to fi2:ht the Russians. Half of this 
corps was outdistanced by the advance 
of the Russian centre, and actually 
approached the Guraji Boghar valley 
after the Russians were in possession 

of it. They ran into an impossible 
position, and a number of them capitu- 
lated forthwith. The capture and dis- 
persion of the Turkish forces became 
the first object of General Yudenitch. 
Erzerum fell into his hands practically 
intact. It was quite indefensible by 
its closely-set inner forts when the 
outer approaches on the hills had been 
taken, and the Turks had neither made 
any attempt at a further stand nor had 
done much damage to the town before 
getting out of it as fast as possible. 
Only a few of the Government build- 
ings and stores on the southern side 
had been destroyed ; a considerable 
amount of ammunition had been left 
undestroyed, and few fortress guns 
had been blown up. The swiftness 
with which Erzerum fell conveyed at 
first an erroneous impression of the 
resolution and courage demanded of 

The Lasl Stage of the Russian Triumph at Erzerum: advance guard of the investing army awaiting 
the final assault on the forts of the citadel 

Effects of the Fall of Erzerum 


The Fall of Erzerum, February i6, 1916 : eflects of the Russian artillery fire outside one of the Turkish forts 

the forces which took it; but though 
so larore a number of Turkish soldiers 
fled without firing a shot, and though 
the first fuQ:itives beoan to leave the 
town and the neighbourhood when the 
fort of Kara Gubek fell, the garrisons 
of a number of the forts died at their 
posts. The Russian Head-quarters 
coinniunique acknowledged that the 
forts were full of Turkish bodies. The 
fort ditches, added an unofficial wit- 
ness, were filled with the mass of 
bodies which choked them, and most 
had fallen at the point of the bayonet. 
The whole of the fortress artillery and 
a large part of the enemy's field artil- 
lery, in all more than 240 guns, tell 
into Russian hands. In the pursuit 
of the remains of the 10th Turkish 
Division, which retreated to the north- 
west of Erzerum, 13 field-guns, as well 
as machine-o"uns and ammunition, fell 

into Russian hands; and this by no 
means comprised the whole stock of 
miscellaneous booty. 

The chief value of the capture of 
Erzerum, apart from its moral and 
political effect, and the use of the town 
as a new base at the junction of all 
the more important roads, was the 
destruction of the cohesion of the 
Turkish forces which had been its 
garrison, and which Erzerum had in 
its turn supported. The remnants 
retreated fanwise to the west, south- 
west, and north. From Erzerum north 
to the Black Sea are four roads, three 
of them to Trebizond, and one to 
Rizeh, east of it. The main road to 
Trebizond passes by Baiburt and 
Gumushaneh, and is about 200 miles 
long. The other roads are mule tracks. 

From Erzerum westwards the great 
road leads to the military station of 

1 86 

The Great World War 

Russian Trophies at Erzeruin : two of the heavily-embroidered standards captured from the Turks 

Erzingan, where the retreating Turks 
of Febzi Pasha's garrison were reor- 
ofanized and coalesced with the rein- 
forcements which Constantinople had 
dispatched too late. Erzingan is 75 
miles away. The next stage west- 
wards is Sivas, another 150 miles dis- 
tant, and a road and river junction; 
but another 200 miles separates Sivas 
from railhead at Angora. 

Two roads lead from Erzerum to 
the south-west, one going to Kharput 
and to Diarbekr (150 miles away), and 
the other over the mountains to Mush 
and to Bitlis, on the Tigris. Both 
towns were important points held by 
the Turks, though Mush was occupied 
by the Russians after the fall of Erze- 
rum; and each had been the scene of 
massacres of the Armenians. 

General Yudenitch sent three columns 

in pursuit, one along the westerly road 
to Erzinoan, another along the main 
road to Trebizond, and a third along 
the subsidiary road northwards to 
Rizeh, to intercept the remnants of 
the Turkish army, which was heading 
for Trebizond along the valley of the 
Chorok. The first impetus of the 
Russian forces was now slowing, as 
the difficulties of transport and supply 
mounted ; and over the rough country 
progress was slow. But on March 16 
the first column occupied the town of 
Mamakhatun, 60 miles west of Erze- 
rum and half-way to Erzingan. The 
column on the Trebizond road was at 
Ashkala by the end of February, and 
the third column was on the Chorok 
river by about the same time. There 
it was held up by the difficulties of 
the way, for it could get no farther on 

Russia's Capture of Trebizond 


the way to Rizeh and the coast through 
the winter passes of the mountains. 
Here, however, the Russian command 
of the Black Sea asserted itself The 
Russians landed a force on March 4 
at Atina, 60 miles east of Trebizond, 
It seized the nearest military station, 
and on the 7th had secured Rizeh. 
A new Russian force now began 
marching- along the coast road to 

It encountered small opposition at 
first, but its task became harder as it 

position of great strength. Between 
the successive spurs short, rapid rivers 
flow to the sea. The Kara Dere is 
such a river. It rises in a gorge of 
the mountains, and after leaving the 
spur flows past an outlying height of 
2000 feet, into a marsh by the sea. 
The country is therefore possible for 
troops only in the narrow space, some 
10 miles in extent, between the heights 
whence the river descends and the 
mountain which guards the marsh by 
the sea. It was a most formidable 

approached the town, the defences of obstacle, and with enough men to de- 

which from the east bore a distant re- 
semblance to those which had guarded 
Erzerum. The tangle of mountains 
which had barred the approach of the 
Russians to Trebizond from the south 
begins to fall to the Black Sea in a 
succession of spurs, with an occasional 
outlying height. One of these spurs 
about I 5 miles east of Trebizond con- 
stitutes, with its outlier, a defensive 

fend it would have proved almost 
impassable. The Russians, however, 
attacked it, and succeeded about the 
middle of April in crossing to the 
western side of the Kara Dere with 
part of their troops. It was presumed 
by the Turks to be waiting for rein- 
forcements from the Chorok Valley; 
and as the Turkish forces numbered 
nominally three divisions they may 


The Russian Occupation of Erzerum : Cossacks on guard, and inhabitants going about their business unmolested 

1 88 

The Great World War 

have awaited the Russian attack with 
composure. Once again, however, 
they were to experience a surprise, 
and a new demonstration of the effect 
of sea power. The garrison of Trebi- 
zond had been reinforced by the Bres- 
lau, which made one of its meteoric 
appearances in the Black Sea in April ; 
but the Russians improved on this 
expedition by landing a force west of 
Trebizond. The town, undefended 
and indeed indefensible, fell at once 
into the Russian hands, and the force 
o-uardino- it to the west at Kara Dere 
was left without its base. Although 
the Russian line north to south between 
Trebizond and Erzerum could by no 
means be quickly cleared, the elements 
for a junction were there, and Trebi- 
zond supplied them with a new sea 
base, the best of its kind on that shore 
of the Black Sea. Trebizond is the 
great port of sea-borne commerce on 
the north shore of Asia Minor, and is 
a city of considerable prosperity, though 
it aftords indifferent harbourage for 
ships. Like Mush and Bitlis, it suf- 
fered an atrocious massacre of its 
Armenian inhabitants at the hands of 
the Turks. 

While the spear-thrust at Erzerum 
was beino^ made the flank attacks at 
Lake Tortum and at Lake Van had 
been equally fruitful. The Turks hold- 
ing the passes at Lake Tortum were 
all dislodged, and driven down to the 
Doumlu Dagh plateau, where the re- 
treat degenerated into a rout. Many 
were captured and more died from cold 
and hunger; the numbers which got 
past Erzerum and joined the main 
bodies retreating northwards to Trebi- 
zond or westwards to Erzinjian were 

few. On the distant left or southern 
wing the operations were equally pro- 
ductive of result. The left-wing army, 
after capturing Mush, turned farther 
south to Bitlis, which is an important 

Map showing Lines of Russian Advance on Erzerum, 
Trebizond, and Bitlis 

point commanding the pass over the 
Taurus mountains, and lying athwart 
the road to Bagdad. It is 120 miles 
away from Nisibin, the railhead of 
the Bagdad railway. Here, however, 
the Russian movement paused, await- 
ing reinforcement and munitions while 
the Turks assembled a force to oppose 
the advance. 

E. S. G. 

India's Unswerving Loyalty 




India's Help — Lord Hardinge's Tribute — Germans and Indian Anarchists — The Ghadr Conspiracies 
— More Princely Munificence — Loyalty of Moslem India — Turkish Treatment of Moslem Pilgrims- 
Islam's Revolt — Well-earned Honours for the Aga Khan — The Amir True to his Trust — Minor Troubles 
on the North-west Frontier — Tochi Valley and other Operations — Allegiance of the Border States — 
Germany's Ceaseless Designs in India — Another Plot P'oiled — Flighting Record of the Indian Troops-^ 
Their Services for the Empire — Kut and the Medical Break-down in Mesopotamia — Lord Hardinge's 
Departure — Appointment of Lord Chelmsford — Treatment of Indian Wounded — Indian Battle Honours 
— Persia's Part in the War — Turco-German Plots to Capture the Shah — Difficulties of the Persian 
Government — How the Swedish Gendarmerie were Bought — Prince Henry of Reuss and his Intrigues — 
Lawlessness in the Persian Gulf — Revolt of the Gendarmerie — Russia's Counter-strokes — The Teheran 
Plot that Failed — Shah decides in Favour of the Allies — Russia's Successful Advance in the North — 
Persia, Bagdad, and Kut — General Judenich's Strategy — British Advance in Southern Persia. 

I WAS sure in my heart of hearts 
that India was sound", said 
Lord Hardinge, the Viceroy 
through the first eighteen months of 
the war, "and I never hesitated to 
proclaim that assurance and act upon 
it." Our record of India's share in all 
the great campaigns — in France and 
Flanders, Gallipoli, and Mesopotamia 
— as well as in Kiao-Chou, Egypt, 
East Africa, and elsewhere, shows how 
nobly her army and her Ruling Princes 
responded to that trust. More remark- 
able still was the unfailing and un- 
shaken allegiance of the native popu- 
lation, without distinction of race or 
religion, notwithstanding the elaborate 
machinations and falsehoods of Ger- 
many both before and after the out- 
break of war. Among a population 
of upwards of 300,000,000, divided by 
varied castes and creeds, and in all 
stages of intellectual development, a 
certain amount of unrest must always 
be expected, but the vain efforts of cer- 
tain revolutionaries to create sedition 
merely served to accentuate the deep- 

seated loyalty of the people as a whole. 
Germany had reckoned without the 
real strength of British rule in India 
— the moral faith which the over- 
whelming majority of the people pos- 
sessed not only in the inherent justice 
of the Government, but in its supreme 
pov;er to guide its destinies. 

Had this Imperial strength been 
based on unreliable foundations we 
should not have dared to denude India 
as we did of British troops at the 
beginning of the war, however sorely 
their help, as well as that of the Indian 
contingents, was needed on the battle 
fronts. India gave so unstintedly in 
those critical days — in guns, rifles, 
ammunition, and stores, as well as in 
men — that at one time there was 
hardly any artillery throughout the 
length and breadth of the Dependency, 
save a few batteries retained on the 
North - west Frontier for protection 
against attack from without. Thus, 
in those perilous early months, when 
our resources in artillery were proving 
entirely inadequate to the needs of the 


The Great World War 

The Road to the Front: Indian troops on the march 

situation, India supplied to our fighting- 
troops practically the whole of her 
artillery, of the most modern and up- 
to-date pattern. We have this on the 
authority of Lord Hardinge in the 
course of a statement to a correspon- 
dent of the Neiv Yoj-k Times, in which 
he further explained how this was 
possible : — 

"At the outset of the war I had consulta- 
tions with the leaders throughout India. I 
frankly exposed to them the situation and 
the needs of the Empire, and was assured 
that there would be no serious trouble in 
India. I believed their assurances, and my 
trust has been amply justified. We sent 
out of the country no less than 300,000 men 
to various fields of the Imperial battle-line 
in France, Egypt, China, Mesopotamia, 
East Africa, Gallipoli, and even the Came- 

roons. These consisted of both Indian and 
British troops. When it is remembered 
that the British army of occupation usuall)- 
numbers some 73,000 men and that at one 
time for a {&\v weeks there remained onl)' 
a handful of British troops — something 
between 10,000 and 15,000 men — in a coun- 
try with a population of over 315,000,000, 
one can realize that such a course of action 
would have been foolhardy in the extreme 
had there been any real f(^undation for the 
reports of widespread and serious disaffec- 
tion spread from enem)- sources." 

It was only a temporary arrange- 
ment, for with the growth of the British 
army to continental dimensions the 
garrison of India was considerably 
reinforced by Territorial and garrison 
battalions, as well as by Territorial 
artillery; but the very fact that India 

German-inspired Conspiracies 


could be left in this fashion, even as 
a temporary measure, was the finest 
proof the world could be given of her 
absolute stanchness. " Britain had 
no need to send troops to hold her," 
wrote Sir Francis Younghusband. 
"She held to the Empire." 

This steadfast loyalty was soon put 
to the test by the return in the winter 
of 1 9 14-15 of strong groups of anar- 
chistic Sikhs from the western parts of 
the United States and Canada, where 
they had obviously fallen under Ger- 
man influence. The arch-conspirator 
of these revolutionaries — the Gliadr 
party, as they were called, from the 
anarchistic paper of that name, printed 
abroad and surreptitiously introduced 
into the country — was Hardyal, who 
was at one time employed at the Ger- 
man War Ministry. At the subse- 
quent trial of many of the malefactors 
in Lahore it was proved conclusively 
that some definite understanding- 
existed between Hardyal and Ger- 
many, the enemy agreeing to assist 
the revolutionists wherever possible. 
Among other interesting statements 
placed on record in the course of that 
conspiracy trial were the disclosures 
that Germany had supplied many of the 
arms taken to India by the returning 
emigrants; that the war was urged in 
many secret lectures as affording the 
Ghadr party a golden opportunity; and 
that certain conspirators spoke of there 
being 75,000 rifles in Bengal, sent by 
Germany for their use. It was also 
stated that Germany was planning to 
send back all Indian prisoners of war 
by way of Persia and Afghanistan to 
help the revolutionists; and the stories 
afterwards received from the intern- 

ment camps in Germany, of the prefer- 
ential treatment accorded to Indian 
captives, seemed to confirm this. In- 
sidious attempts were also made at the 
same time to suborn from their alle- 
giance sepoys of Indian regiments at 
home, the only result being that the 
plot was revealed to the Government 
by the soldiers themselves. 

Instead of shaking British rule to 
its foundations the enemy had merely 
succeeded in proving how well and 
truly those foundations had been laid, 
and in showing the Indian unrest in 
its true proportions. It was only the 
half-educated, for the most part, who 
lent themselves to such sedition. In 
order to make the Government's task 
as easy as possible, the political and 
really educated classes suspended all 
political controversies concerning such 
problems as " colonial self-govern- 
ment " and other sweeping internal 
changes; and as for the Ruling Princes 
nothing, as Lord Hardinge said, could 
possibly exceed their loyalty. " There 
has not", he declared, "been one single 
instance of even disaffection, or even 
of the absence of patriotism, on the part 
of the Princes or Chiefs, whom I re- 
gard as the pillars of the State." As 
described in earlier chapters they were 
ready to make the greatest sacrifices 
for the sake of the Empire, contribut- 
ing vast sums of money and large 
numbers of Imperial Service troops, 
employed both abroad and in India, 
and in some cases performing the ser- 
vices in the Dependency of British 

It is impossible here even to sum- 
marize the later additions to the muni- 
ficent offers and gifts already enume- 


The Great World War 

rated. ^ Some of them were mentioned 
by Mr, Chamberlain in the House of 
Commons towards the end of 19 15 as 
examples to illustrate the spirit which 
animated the whole of our Indian 
empire. Three hospital ships, equipped 
and maintained from unofficial sources, 
had then left the shores of India — 
the Loyalty, g-iven jointly by a number 
of rulincv Chiefs; the Madras, Q-iven 
by the Madras War Fund; and the 
Bengali, given by the people of Ben- 
gal. The last was most unfortunately 
wrecked on its way to the Persian 
Gulf; the first two were continuously 
employed in carrying sick and wounded 
between India and the theatres of 

The Nizam of Hyderabad offered 
60 lakhs for the expenses of one of his 
Imperial Service Regiments, which had 
gone to the front, and of the Cavalry 
Regiment of the Indian Army, of which 
he was honorary colonel. The Maha- 
rajah of Mysore, besides the 50 lakhs 
he had already given, offered the ser- 
vices of his State in many other prac- 
tical ways. The Maharajah Sindhia 
of Gwalior, whose health alone pre- 
vented him from going to the front, 
made further munificent gifts in money 
and in kind, including a motor ambu- 
lance fleet and six armoured aero- 
planes. The Begum of Bhopal, in 
addition to large contributions to re- 
lief funds and other services, sent 500 
Korans for sick and wounded Moslem 
soldiers. The Gaekwar of Baroda 
^ave 5 lakhs of rupees for the pur- 
chase of aeroplanes. The Maharajahs 
of Kashmir and Patiala and the Jam 
Sahib of Nawanas^ar, besides other 

'Vol. I, pp. 106-9; Vol. IV, pp. S-9. 

services, jointly maintained a hospital 
for officers in a house at Staines, which 
His Highness the Jam had gi\cn for 
the pur()ose. 

This hospital at Staines, named, 
with His Majesty's consent, the Prince 
of Wales Hospital, had been the resi- 
dence, "Jamnagar", of His Highness 
the Jam, better known in this country 
as Prince Rantjitsinhji the cricketer, 
who, as previously stated, had joined 
the Native Princes serving with the 
colours at the front. On the occasion 
of the opening ceremony he declared 
that he had never been so proud of 



The of Hyderabad 
(P'rom a photograph by Hourne & -Shepherd, India) 

Forging New Bonds of Empire 


The Maharajah of Mysore 
(From a photograph by Vandyk) 

the furnace of battle, the sorry con- 
spiracy of the 6"/z^c/r party scarcely de- 
serves mention save by way of contrast. 
When these emigrants returned with 
their revolutionary ideas, and a deliber- 
ate plan of reducing the Indian pro- 
vinces to chaos by the murder of police 
and officials, they made their way up 
country in the early months of 191 5, 
and, arriving in the Punjab, committed 
all kinds of excesses. If they expected 
to find the people ripe for revolt they 
were soon undeceived. The peasants 
themselves helped the authorities to 
track down these desperadoes, the 
loyal attitude of the people, as well as 
the fearless devotion of all ranks of the 
Punjab police in carrying out the mea- 
sures taken under the Defence of India 
Act, eventually bringing the whole 
conspiracy to naught. In numberless 

being an Indian as that day, when the 
King- Emperor had allowed Indian 
troops to fight side by side with the 
British against the common foe. It 
was an honour, he added, to have fly- 
ing over the hospital the Union flag, 
the common emblem of what Empire 
and real brotherhood meant to all of 
them. The Maharajah of Bikaner, 
one of the first of the Ruling Princes 
to serve with the colours at the front, 
added to his contributions a birthday 
gift to the King-Emperor of a sum in 
rupees equal to nearly ^17,000, to be 
devoted as His Majesty might deem 
fit for the purpose of the war. 

While such whole-hearted loyalty 
existed; while Britain and India were 
binding themselves together with the 

indissoluble bonds which are forged in 
Vol. v. ^ ■ 

The Jarp Sahib of Nawanagar (Prince Rantjitsinhjij ,_ 

in his Uniform on Active Service \^ <? 

(From a photograph by Vandyk) V ^ ^ 

' nt^^ 



The Great World War 

cases the peasants themselves seized 
and handed over the guilty parties to 
the authorities. The fables circulated 
at the time by Germany to the effect 
that revolution had broken out "every- 
where" in India, under the leadership 
of a Rajah who never existed, were 
simply part of the colossal campaign 
of lies by means of which the enemy 
hoped to spread what he was pleased 
to call the Holy War against the 
British. It was to counteract these 
fictions that the India Office issued 
the following announcement on No- 
vember 19, 191 5: — 

" Statements from the German press with 
regard to alleged disorders in India have 
been reproduced in certain foreign countries 
to the effect that revolt has broken out 
everywhere; that Brahmins, Buddhists, and 
Mohammedans have united to make all 
possible difficulties for the detested EngHsh; 
that Rajah of Bhagalpur heads the move- 
ment; that grave disorders have occurred 
at Bombay, Madras, Nagpur, Allahabad, 
and Inaspur; that in the last-named place 
rebels have endeavoured to stop the depar- 
ture of native troops, and that British troops 
have had to retire and rebels have occupied 
barracks and arsenals. The Secretary of 
State for India announces that there is not 
a word of truth in these statements from 
beginning to end. It may be added that 
there is no such person as the Rajah of 
Bhagalpur. If the Nawab of Bhawalpur is 
referred to, he is a minor of eleven years of 

A truer index of the real feeling 
throughout India was provided, only 
a day before this statement was pub- 
lished, in the Mohammedan festival 
of Muharram in Bombay, a celebration 
almost invariably marked by grave 
disorders whenever the Mohammedan 

community of India is seriously affected 
by unrest. On this occasion the fes- 
tival was celebrated with a peaceful- 
ness which gave the complete lie to 
German propagandists. The loyalty 
of Moslem India, which the enemy 
confidently hoped to undermine when 
he dragged Turkey into the conflict 
as his misguided tool, was one of the 
great reassuring factors of the situation 
from the very first. Moslem India 
was not deceived either by this astute 
move on Germany's part or the 
seditious conspiracies which preceded 
it. " Turkey ", declared the Moslem 
leader, Aga Khan, to his many 
millions of adherents, "has made her- 
self a tool in Germany's hands. Not 
only has she ruined herself, but she 
has forfeited the position of trustee of 
Islam." Other leaders of Indian 
Moslem opinion issued similar mani- 
festoes to their subjects and followers. 
The Nizam of Hyderabad, as the lead- 
ing Mohammedan ruler in India, 
and head of a State whose ruler re- 
mained faithful to the British during 
the Mutiny of 1857-8, also struck the 
true hereditary note in his message, 
impressing upon all Mohammedans 
their imperative duty to remain faithful 
to their old and tried devotion. 

" I repeat and reiterate ", he wrote, " that 
in this crisis Mohammedan inhabitants of 
India, especially subjects of this State, 
should, if they care for their own welfare 
and prosperity, remain firm and whole- 
hearted in their loyalty and obedience, and 
swerve not a hair's-breadth from their 
devotion to the British Government, whose 
cause I am convinced is just and right. 
The}' should keep the sacred tie which 
binds a subject people to their rulers, and 
in no case allow themselves to be beguiled 

The Turks and the Moslem Indians 


by the wiles of anyone into a course of open 
or secret sedition." 

The Nizam of Hyderabad also dis- 
played the most princely generosity 
in his contributions to the war funds. 
The 60 lakhs of rupees mentioned by 
the Colonial Secretary as the Nizam's 

The Maharajah of Bikaner, in Active Service Uniform 
(From a photograph by Vandyk) 

gift for the expenses of his regiments 
on active service equalled about 
^400,000 in British coinage, and 
formed the laroest individual offerino- 
made at the time to the Indian Govern- 

The treatment of Indian Moslem 
pilgrims by the Turks after their entry 
into the war served to strengthen the 
bondsof loyalty between Moslem India 
and the British Throne. One such 

pilgrim, Zakir Husain by name, whose 
story was published by the Bombay 
Government, relates how the Turks 
blocked all the routes homeward after 
the outbreak of war, and subjected 
the Indians to all manner of hardships 
and cruelty. Orders were issued by 
the Turkish authorities in the sacred 
city of Kerbela, in the Bagdad vilayet, 
whither Zakir Husain went on pil- 
CTrima^e with his mother and sister in 
the summer of 19 14, that the goods 
and women of Indians were to be re- 
garded as the legal property of those 
who robbed them. Not only were 
their houses searched and their pro- 
perty seized, but dozens of them were 
arrested and deported to the Aleppo 
side, while their families were left in 

" Throughout the next fourteen months," 
continued Zakir Husain, " we never got 
meals more than once a day. We could 
not get any work, and consequently we 
had to beg from door to door in order to 
get a few scraps of bread to eat, and the 
state of the women and children was worse 
even than that of the men. For a man to 
be an Indian was considered a sufficient 
reason by Turks to torture and imprison 
him. We protested that we were Moslems, 
but they never paid heed. They them- 
selves are no Moslems, and do not act 
according to the precepts of Islam. Ac- 
cording to what I heard, the Indians in 
Nejaf, Kazimain, and Bagdad have also 
been treated in the same cruel way as we 
were. Hundreds have been deported and 
their houses pillaged." 

The day was not far distant, how- 
ever, when the Turks were to be 
driven from Kerbela in the revolt of 
Islam which openly challenged Tur- 
key's claim to be the guardian of the 


The Great World War 

Holy Places, and thrust her out of 
the sacred city of Mecca, when the: 
Arabs of the Hejaz in tlic summer ol 
1 916 proclaimed the independence of 
Arabia. The Aga Khan had fore- 
seen the downfall of Turkey when he 
declared, after the news had been 
received of her alliance with Germany, 
that she had "lost the position of 
trustee of Islam, and evil will overtake 
her ". Nothing that the Turks or 
their German masters could do, de- 
clared the Aga Khan, would ever 
weaken the loyalty of the Moslem 
Indians, based as it was on the con- 
sciousness that their most cherished 
interests, religious as well as civil, were 
guaranteed to them by British rule 
more securely than they could be by 
any other dominion. "All Indians 
knew", he concluded in the memorable 
speech which he delivered in London, 
"that if Britain was ever weakened 
India's aspirations, India's whole 
future, would go to pieces." The un- 
swerving loyalty of His Highness Aga 
Sultan Sir Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan, 
G.C.S.I., G.C.I.E., to give him his 
tide in full, was further rewarded by 
the King- Emperor in the spring of 
19 16 by the grant of a salute of eleven 
guns, and the rank and status of a 
First-Class Chief of the Bombay Presi- 
dency for life. These were excep- 
tional distinctions - — ■ the honour of 
gun salutes being regarded in India 
as something above and beyond all 
titular rewards — but they were earned 
by exceptional services which the 
Empire is not likely to forget. 

It was not only from the great com- 
munities and the larger States that 
these expressions of devotion poured 

in upon the Indian Gox'crnment. The 
notabilities and tribes of the turbulent 
borderland were not behind the in- 
habitants of British India in the spon- 
taneity of their expressions of loyalty. 
Some striking examples of these were 
the offers of service by the Frontier 
Militias; the proposal of the Khyber 

The Aga Khan, spiritual ..c.ul ol ihe Moslem Indians 
(From a photograph by Vandyk) 

tribes, who fought us in the past not 
once but many times, to furnish an 
armed contingent; and the voluntary 
subscription to the Relief Fund by 
the Wazirs of Bannu of their allow- 
ances for one month. 

Beyond the border the stanch ad- 
herence of the Amir of Afghanistan 
to his promised policy of strict neu- 
trality, and his determined loyalty to 
the British alliance, in spite of the in- 
evitable German intrigues in his midst, 

Minor Troubles on the Frontier 


played a large part in maintaining 
tranquillity along the frontier as a 
whole. At the outbreak of the war 
the Amir gave the Viceroy the most 
solemn assurances, which he repeatedly 
renewed, of his intention to preserve 
the neutrality of his country through- 
out, and Lord Hardinge expressed the 
firmest confidence that His Majesty's 
promises would be faithfully performed, 
notwithstanding the very great pres- 
sure put upon him by certain members 
of his family and some prominent 
officials, encouraged by Germans and 
Turks, who went to Kabul with letters 
from the Kaiser in the hope of in- 
ducing the Amir to proclaim a Jehad 
on the North-West Frontier. While 
the Eviden was pursuing her disturbing 
course alonsf the coast towns of India, 
and piling up her long list of victims 
among the merchant ships; while, too, 
the Turks were making their first vain 
attempts to seize the Suez Canal and 
so sever Britain's main communications 
with India, the Turco-German agents 
tried to move heaven and earth to 
rouse these inflammable hillmen to 
set the torch of war alight from one 
end of their border to the other. Con- 
sidering that Turkish troops had been 
employed for some years previously in 
drilling the Amir's army, the measure 
of their success was extraordinarily 

It is true that we had to deal with 
a number of severe attacks from certain 
tribesmen just outside the border 
during the first year of the war, but 
these were all repulsed, and the tribes- 
men concerned severely punished. At 
the beginning of 191 5 the fort of Spina 
Khaisora in the Tochi Valley was 

attacked by a strong force of the tur- 
bulent Khostwal tribe, who were 
promptly repelled by the Bannu Mov- 
able Column and a portion of the 
North Wazaristan Militia, operating 
under the command of Major-General 
H. O'Donnell, C.B., D.S.O. Of the 
British troops only the North Waza- 
ristan Militia actually engaged the 
enemy, but the operations were very 
successful, the enemy losing some fifty 
or sixty killed and being driven in con- 
fusion over the frontier. The North 
Wazaristan Militia won special mention 
in Major-General O'Donnell's dispatch 
for their dash and spirit in the action 
against heavy odds and after a long 
march. It was in this affair that 
Captain Eustace Jotham, of the 51st 
Sikhs, lost his life in an act of signal 
valour which was afterwards recog- 
nized by the award of the Victoria 
Cross. Captain Jotham, who was 
commanding a party of about a dozen 
of the North Wazaristan Militia, was 
attacked in a nullah and almost sur- 
rounded by an overwhelming force of 
some 1500 tribesmen. Under orders 
to run for it with his party he gave 
the command to retire and could him- 
self have escaped, but most gallantly 
sacrificed his life in stopping to help 
a dismounted sowar who had lost his 
horse, and trying to carry him into 
safety. Both were killed. 

Major G. B. Scott, commanding the 
North Wazaristan Militia, was men- 
tioned in dispatches for his sound and 
bold leadino: ^t a critical time in this 
engagement, when suddenly faced with 
a desperate position against great odds. 
" The officer's clear military instinct 
and perception of the situation", wrote 

1 98 

The Great World War 

Major-General O'Donnell, "saved the 
day." Lieutenant N. H. Prendergast, 
who also distino-uished himself, was 
given command of the flank attack 
after escaping in a most marvellous 
manner from a practically hopeless 
situation, and carried out his indepen- 
dent command with conspicuous cool- 
ness and ability. "A fine young 
officer", notes the Major-General, in 
his reference to this incident. Various 
Indian ranks of the North Wazaristan 
Militia were recommended for gallantry 
and good work on the same occasion, 
including Subadar Major Tor Khan, 
Sardar Bahadur, I.O. M., whose power- 
ful influence with his corps proved an 
invaluable asset, and " whose bravery 
and energy", we are told, "are a by- 
word with all". 

The Tochi Valley was the scene of 
another incursion in the following 
March, when a considerable force of 
Zadrans, estimated at 7000 to 8000 
men, invaded British territory from 
Khost. To meet this new danger the 
Bannu Movable Column, together 
with a portion of the North Wazaristan 
Militia, the whole under the command 
of Brigadier-General V.B. Fane, C.B., 
moved out from Miramshah on 
March 26, when the tribesmen were 
threatening that place. The attack 
was entirely successful, the enemy 
losing some 500 in killed or wounded, 
and retiring in disorder across the 
border. " Our success ", says the 
dispatch, "was largely due to the 
skilful manner in which a column 
under Major G. B. Scott, Comman- 
dant, North Wazaristan Militia, by 
means of a night march gained a 
position in rear of the enemy by the 

time the British frontal attack com- 
menced." This frontal attack, com- 
manded with great skill by Lieutenant- 
Colonel H. E. Lewis, was securely 
protected on the right flank by Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel G. M. Baldwin, D.S.O., 
of the Frontier Force Cavalry, whose 
good leading and dispositions were 
also commended. 

Similar affairs occurred among 
several other unruly tribes along this 
always inflammable borderland, only 
to receive equally prompt and drastic 
punishment. Later in the spring of 
191 5, for example, a Mohmand lashkar, 
estimated to number some 4000 men, 
invaded British territory near Shab- 
kadr, when they were attacked by the 
Khyber Movable Column and quickly 
dispersed across the border. For the 
most part, however, the outbreak of 
the Great War failed to arouse the ex- 
citement on the North-West Frontier 
that Germany had confidently ex- 
pected. To a certain extent this was 
accounted for by Colonel Sir George 
Roos-Keppel, Chief Commissioner of 
the North-West Frontier Province, 
on the ground of the difficulty of com- 
prehending the vast issues of such a 
distant conflict. 

" So much was understood, however," he 
wrote in his annual report for 191 5, "that 
Britain was engaged in a great struggle, 
and the cis-border population had no hesi- 
tation in giving their verdict on the issue 
before them regarding the maintenance of 
British supremacy. Promises of service and 
expressions of loyalty were evoked on all 
sides, and were repeated, it may be noted, 
on the anniversary of the declaration of 
war on August 4, 191 5. The enthusiasm 
spread in some degree even to the tribal 
tracts administered by Government, and 

Friends and Foes on the Frontier 


the offers of service by the militias and the 
proposal of the Khyber tribes to furnish an 
armed contingent may be cited in this con- 

" The outbreak of war with the 
Porte ", added Sir George Roos- 
Keppel, " only served to call forth 
fresh expressions of allegiance to the 
British Government, and of condem- 
nation of the bellicose folly of Turkey." 
Against the isolated outbreaks already 
referred to could be set an overwhelm- 
ing list of acts and offers of unfor- 
gettable loyalty. The Prime Minister 
of the independent Gurkha State of 
Nepal, in the Himalayas, largely 
added to the munificent gifts and 
offers made at the beginning of the 
war, including the army under his 
control, and rendered His Majesty's 
Government, as Mr. Chamberlain bore 
witness, most valuable services by the 
military facilities which he afforded. 
The Maharajah of Bhutan, a country 
bounded on its northern borders by the 
once hostile, and now most friendly, 
land of Tibet, contributed a lakh of 
rupees to the Relief Fund, besides 
offering the financial and military re- 
sources of his State. Tibet itself not 
only remained on the best of terms 
but gave repeated and unmistakable 
demonstrations of her sympathy and 
support. The Dalai Lama, as stated 
in an earlier chapter, offered 1000 
soldiers at the outbreak of war. Later, 
when news arrived on the roof of the 
world of General Botha's conquest of 
South-West Africa, he ordered flags 
to be hoisted on the hills round Lhasa, 
and special prayers to be offered for 
Britain's further victories. 

When, therefore. Lord Hardinge 
came to take his farewell as Viceroy, 
in March, 19 16, he had reason to 
speak with pride and appreciation of 
the deep-seated patriotism and whole- 
hearted devotion of the people of 
India, "which would ever shine as a 
beacon, and illumine the history of the 
land ". Most of the frontier troubles 
had subsided by the winter of 191 5-16, 
which proved the quietest of the five 
past years, and, save for certain Mah- 
sud raiders, who would presently 
receive due punishment, perfect tran- 
quillity then prevailed on the border. 
The truth was that any invasion of 
India from the North-West was now 
a far more difficult matter than it had 
ever been. The most vulnerable points 
were strongly defended, and high ex- 
plosives, aircraft, and other develop- 
ments of modern warfare had vastly 
improved the defensive works which 
had been in progress, more or less, 
for over a century. By the summer 
of 1 9 16 the British regiments which 
had been sent from India to fight in 
the chief theatres of war had been re- 
placed, and fresh supplies had made 
India, in guns and ammunition, stronger 
than ever. Internally, save for a regret- 
table number of murders and dacoities 
in Bengal, the situation, said Lord Har- 
dinge, in his farewell speech on March 
25, 1 916, could hardly be more favour- 
able. The Government, he added, 
had ample evidence of the ceaseless 
designs of Germany to create trouble, 
based on the fallacy that India would 
betray the Empire. In his later state- 
ment to the correspondent of the A^eiu 
York Times, the ex-Viceroy added 
that one of these plots — directly in- 


The Great World War 

stigated by Germany through various 
agents, freely suppHed with funds for 
the purpose — was nothing less than 
a general revolt, which was timed to 
break out on Christmas Day, 191 5. 
The centre of this conspiracy was. in 
Bengal, where there had always been 
a certain amount of anarchist activity. 

Fortunately the Government was 
warned in time, and, with full infor- 
mation of the projected rising, was 
able to render all preparations abor- 
tive. Instead of this rebellion the year 
closed with the great Indian National 
Congress at Bombay, at which Sir 
Satyendra Sinha, in his presidential 
address, voiced the unswerving fealty 
and whole-hearted homage of the 
congress to their beloved Sovereign. 
In referring to the war he declared 
that the uppermost feeling in their 
minds was deep admiration for the 
self-imposed burden which Britain 
was bearing in the struggle for liberty 
and freedom, and profound pride that 
India had not fallen behind the other 
portions of the Empire. 

The magnificent part played by 
India's troops during this historic 
period in all parts of the world will 
be found recorded elsewhere. In the 
limited space of the chapters on the 
many campaigns in which they figured, 
however, it has often been impossible 
to do full justice to their work, or 
adequately estimate the value of their 
services. Having an army ready, 
India was ahead of all the component 
parts of the Empire in fighting by the 
side of the Mother Country on the 
batde-fields of France, the first time in 
all history that Briton and Indian had 
fought together in Europe. The first 

contingent arrived in the very nick of 
time, when the hard-pressed British 
Army, after flinging its front across 
Flanders to prevent its flank from 
being turned, was stopping the first 
German bid for the Channel ports 
through Ypres, and needing all the 
help it could get. For full twelve 

Lord Chelmsford, who succeeded Lord Hardinge as 

Viceroy of India 

(From a photograph by Martin Jacolette) 

months after gallantly supporting the 
Second Corps in those days of stress 
in October, 19 14, the Indian Army 
Corps, in ever - increasing numbers, 
played its part in the Western cam- 
paign with a courage and endurance, 
often against great odds, and in new 
and trying conditions, which "worthily 
upheld the honour of the Empire ", to 
quote from the King-Emperor's fare- 
well message in the autumn of 1915,^ 

1 Vol. IV, p. 329. 

"Anzacs" and their Indian Comrades 

20 1 

*' and the great traditions of my army 
in India". When the Indians de- 
parted from the European front for 
other fields of action — in Mesopotamia 
and elsewhere — they left with a just 
pride "in deeds nobly done in days of 
ever-memorable conflict ", and an ex- 
perience of modern warfare which 
stood them in good stead in their new 

Meantime, in Gallipoli the Indians 
had established with the Australians 
and New Zealanders that fellowship 
in battle and the common hardships 
of campaigning which, since the days 
of Clive, had promoted ties of good 
comradeship with British troops. 
Here, and elsewhere, they had done 
more for Imperial unity in a few 
months of war than could have been 
accomplished in many years of peace. 

Those who fell in Gallipoli did not 
die in vain, for, as the King said in a 
message to Australia and New Zea- 
land which applied with equal force 
to India, "their sacrifice has drawn 
our peoples more closely together, 
and added strength and glory to the 
Empire". The " Anzacs " who re- 
turned had nothing but praise for their 
Indian comrades-in-arms in that cam- 
paign. One Australian soldier's testi- 
mony, in a letter to the Secretary of 
State for India, praising the 14th 
Mountain Battery for its gallant sup- 
port of the 3rd Australian Infantry 
Brigade at Gaba Tepe, in the small 
hours of April 25, 19 15, was typical 
of many such tributes: — 

"All Australians", he wrote, "were fas- 
cinated by tlie cool work done by the 
batter)' which aided us so much, and 
stirred us to feeling which words cannot 

convey by the loyal help they gave us when 
we were in need of it. There was a fine 
exhibition of true Empire spirit around the 
camp fire; we would collect sticks for a 
fire, and they would make chupatee (?) 
cakes, and I can tell you that in that valley 
of death those cakes with jam between 
them went well. I wish you to know that 
wherever we meet those grand and game 
soldiers of India, Australians will extend 
an open hand of binding friendship." 

Thus were broken down old in- 
visible barriers of prejudice, and a 
deeper sympathy won for India's hopes 
and aspirations both at home and in 
regard to the Imperial changes which 
would inevitably follow the war. In 
Mesopotamia our Indian troops played 
a predominant part in the campaign, 
the whole expedition being under the 
control of the Indian Government from 
its first brilliant series of victories up 
the Tigris and Euphrates to the 
tragedy of Kut, after which the re- 
sponsibility was taken over by the 
Imperial Government. The full story 
of that hapless adventure had yet to 
be told when Lord Hardinge's term of 
office expired, but this much at least 
was known, that the Indian troops, like 
their British comrades, had played a 
manful part throughout one of the 
most arduous campaigns in the whole 
World War. The break-down in the 
medical supplies which added to the 
hardships of that expedition in the 
second half of 191 5, and the prime 
responsibility for the strategy which 
led to disaster at Kut, are matters 
which must be left for discussion else- 
where. Mistakes, however, were in- 
evitable where, as in the Mother 
Country, the military task proved so 


The Great World War 


incomparably greater than anything 
that had been even imagined before. 
Previously the largest expedition that 
had ever left India's shores had been 
composed of no more than 18,000 
men; but since the 
outbreak of war in 
August, 1914, until 
Lord Hardinge's de- 
parture in the spring 
of 191 6, India had sent 
over the seas no fewer 
than 300,000 soldiers. 
Lord Hardinge, after 
receivinor the Garter for 
his distinguished ser- 
vices as a just and sym- 
pathetic ruler through 
a term of office beset 
by unparalleled difficul- 
ties, was succeeded by 
the 3rd Lord Chelms- 
ford, who brought to ^j-^^SP^f^-^-'^" 
his task considerable ^J>--^-* 

experience as a pro- 
consul. Shortly after 
succeeding to his title 
he was appointed, in 
1905, Governor of 
Queensland, and held 
that office until 1909, 
when he followed Sir 
Harry Rawson as 
Governor of New 
South Wales. Lord 
Chelmsford went to 
Australia with a repu- 
tation as a cricketer — having, as Mr. J. 
F. N. Thesiger, captained the Oxford 
eleven — which gave him a ready wel- 
come in the Commonwealth; and he 
succeeded Lord Hardinge as Viceroy 
with a knowledge of existing condi- 

tions in India which made him equally 
acceptable in the Dependency. A cap- 
tain in the 4th Dorsetshire Regiment, 
he had been serving in India since the 
early stages of the war, 


India's Care of her Wounded Soldiers: a ward of the Lady Harding 
Hospital at Bombay 

extensively in Upper India during the 
winter of 19 15-16, and staying for a 
time at Government House, Delhi, as 
a ouest of Lord Hardinoe. 

Unhappily the collapse of the medi- 
cal arrangements in Mesopotamia in 


The Care of India's Wounded 


191 5 was one of the ugliest features 
of the ill-fated campaign which led to 
the fall of General Townshend at 
Kut, and the care of India's wounded, 
once they returned home, was not 
above criticism. But at the Lady 
Hardinge War Hospital in Bombay, 
which, with its spacious, mosque-like 
dome, formed one of the most striking 
of all the fine buildings in that city, 
the whole organization was on a scale 
worthy of the Empire. Its ward ar- 
rangements may be judged from the 
interior view printed on p. 202. The 
picture overleaf relates to the care of 
the Indian wounded at Brighton while 
the Indian Expeditionary Force was 
fighting in France and Flanders. 
When it suddenly became necessary 
in the course of that campaign to relin- 
quish the plans which had been formed 
for removing the Indian wounded from 
the front to Marseilles and Egypt, 
the authorities were confronted with 
a difficult problem. It was no easy 
matter suddenly to meet all the needs 
of a hospital in which fighting men from 
all parts of India could be accommo- 
dated and treated in strict accordance 
with their varying castes and creeds. 
The emergency was met by Lord 
Kitchener by the appointment as Com- 
missioner of Indian Hospitals of Sir 
Walter Roper Lawrence, whose dis- 
tinP:uished Indian services had been 
rewarded in 1906 with a baronetcy 
and the G.C.I.E. Sir Walter at once 
organized arrangements for the recep- 
tion of the Indian wounded both in 
F" ranee and this country, the necessary 
hospitals, including those at Brighton, 
where the majority of the wounded 
were brought, being created and fully 

equipped in a marvellously short space 
of time, 

" Dr. Brighton " fully lived up to 
his enviable reputation as a health- 
giving host. From December, 19 14, 
to November, 191 5, over 2000 patients 
passed through the wards of the 
Indian Military Hospital established 
in the Royal Pavilion — the fantastic 
palace built by George IV, the 
Oriental design of which helped to 
make the Indians feel at home — and 
of these only 12 died. The whole of 
the royal and other buildings lent by 
the town authorities were adapted 
and transformed for the purpose, and 
everything that science could suggest 
was furnished to make the hospitals 
complete. Here, as elsewhere, the 
Indian wounded were visited more 
than once by the King-Emperor and 
Queen - Empress. On the second 
occasion His Majesty decorated a 
number of the wounded Indian officers 
for conspicuous gallantry in the field, 
also presenting the Victoria Cross 
won at Ypres by Jemadar Mir Dast, 
of Coke's Rifles, as already recorded, 
in the attack on the 26th of April, 
1 91 5. Jemadar Mir Dast, though 
recovered from his wounds, was still 
suffering from the effects of poison 
gas, and had to be wheeled up for 
the Royal investiture He insisted on 
standing up, however, in front of the 
King- Emperor. Before awarding the 
Cross His Majesty addressed him as 
follows : — 

"It is nearly sixty j-ears since Queen 
Victoria instituted this Cross for conspicu- 
ous bravery in battle. At the Delhi 
Durbar, in 191 1, I ordered that my Indian 
soldiers should be admitted to this hi.t'h 


The Great World War 

Britain's Care of her Indian Wounded: the dome of the Royal PaviUon at Brighton, converted into 

a niihtary hospital 

and coveted distinction. I have already 
bestowed with my own hand two V.C.'s on 
Indian soldiers, and I give this third Cross 
with infinite pleasure. I earnestly hope 
that you will soon completely recover from 
your injuries, and that you will live long to 
enjoy your honours." 

Then came the presentation of a 
Military Cross and other decorations 
to various Indian officers, after which 
Their Majesties visited the wards in 
order to see those of the wounded 
who were not well enough to attend 
the investiture in the grounds ; pass- 
ing thence to the different kitchens 
attached to the hospital, including one 
for the Mohammedans, another for 
the meat-eating- Hindus, a third for 
those prohibited from eating anything 
involving the taking of life; and so 
on. Proper caste cooks, with a head 

cook in charge, were attached to each 
kitchen. Their Majesties were left in 
little doubt that everything possible 
was being done to meet both the 
spiritual and material needs of all the 
different races and religions repre- 
sented there. On the way to the 
kitchen they could hear the Sikhs 
chanting the evening prayers in their 
improvised temple, on which occasions 
special petitions were always offered 
for the King - Emperor's victory. 
Separate parts of the grounds had 
also been reserved for the relioious 
observances of other Indian sects. 
Queen Alexandra and other members 
of the Royal Family, as well as Lord 
Kitchener and Mr. Chamberlain, as 
Secretary of State for India, were 
among many other illustrious visitors 
to these warriors, who had so nobly 

Persia's Place in the War 


responded to the King- Emperor's 
call "to uphold the Izzat of the British 
Raj against an aggressive and relent- 
less enemy ". 

In the many theatres of war the 
Indian soldiers had earned a full share 
of honours. The total number of 
decorations which they had won down 
to the month of June, 1916, was over 
1300. These included the Victoria 
Cross, which had been won in seven 
cases; the Military Cross, in twenty- 
six cases; the Indian Order of Merit 
of the First Class, in six cases; and 
the Indian Order of Merit of the 
Second Class, in 416 cases. 

It was part of the German plot to 
drao- Persia into the conflict, as well 
as Afghanistan, and so extend the war 
until it set the whole North-Western 
Frontier aflame. In Afghanistan, as 
we have seen, the strength and loyalty 
of the Amir brought these schemes to 
nought, but they were more eflective in 
Persia, where the young Shah and his 
weak government were heavily handi- 
capped by internal troubles, and where 
German gold had long been preparing 
the way among discontented gendar- 
merie and rapacious tribesmen. The 
situation became extremely grave in 
the latter part of 19 15, when our tragic 
failure to advance first on Constanti- 
nople and then on Bagdad gave the 
enemy the opportunity for which he 
had waited since the beginning of the 
war. He had not waited in idleness. 
Long before the retreats from Gal- 
lipoli and Ctesiphon he had left no 
stone unturned to force Persia into 
the conflict on the side of the Central 
Powers and against the Entente. 
Here, as elsewhere in the East, his 

propaganda had been of the Holy War 
order, involving an appeal to the most 
fanatical elements in Persia. In this 
appeal, as the Marquess of Crewe 
observed in the House of Lords, we 
were bound to take second place, 

" Our treatment of Islam has been one of 
giving absolutely free and fair play to the 
exercise of their faith, but we have never 
attempted to pretend adhesion. But in the 
case of this propaganda there has been a 
free use of pretended conversion to the faith 
of Islam. Our appeal has been made — it 
always has been made — to the rational ele- 
ments of the Moslem world ; these appeals 
are made to the most ignorant and bigoted 
members of it." 

Even in normal times the new Con- 
stitutional Government of Persia had 
found it no easy matter to preserve 
order. Hence the creation of the 
Swedish gendarmerie, in succession to 
the similar force of Persians armed 
and dressed as Cossacks, and officered 
by a certain proportion of Russian 
officers. The new oendarmerie was 
Swedish only in its name and officers, 
the rank and file, as with their prede- 
cessors, beino- Persian. When it was 
formed it was necessary that it should 
be officered by men from a country 
which was neutral in the sense of not 
being specially concerned in Persian 
affairs, or suspected of any ambitions 
of becoming so. It was for that 
reason that Swedish officers were 
chosen; and tie e, it is only fair to 
add, when they betrayed their trust 
and rebelled against their Persian 
employers, were disowned by their 
own Government, which endeavoured 
to prevent them from engaging in any 
unneutral manner. It is also right to 


The Great World War 

explain that most of the officers origi- 
nally nominated for the force by the 
Swedish Government had returned 
when the troubles began, their Swedish 
successors throwing in their lot with 
the Germans and their money-bags as 
discredited adventurers. 

In the meanwhile an elaborate plot 

German officers, " perhaps more Ger- 
man riff-raff, assisted by a number of 
Turks, and forming an obvious nucleus 
for the bodies of brigands and oudaws 
who are only too numerous in Persia". 
Besides the hired bravoes who had 
penetrated into Persia for the purpose 
were a number of prisoners who had 

Impressing the Persians: the first (Russian) armoured car seen in Telieran 
Standing next to the car on the right is the Russian colonel of the Persian Cossacks, with his wife and the Belgian Minister. 

had been in progress to force Persia 
into the war under the leadership of 
Prince Henry of Reuss, the German 
Minister in Teheran — formerly Ger- 
man Consul- General at Calcutta — 
with the help of br:c°ry on a most 
lavish scale, and a campaign of assas- 
sination at the hands of a formidable 
bodiy of desperadoes, largely com- 
posed of Germans and Austrians. 
Some of these miscreants, according 
to Lord Crewe, were presumably 

been taken by the Russians and had 
escaped after being interned at various 
places in the Caucasus. 

The influence of these conspirators 
made itself felt in the summer of 191 5 
in the vicinity of Bushire, on the 
Persian Gulf, where the presence of 
hostile tribesmen was reported to the 
British Residency on July 12. In 
order to verify the report Major 
Oliphant, 96th Regiment, and Captain 
Ranking, Assistant Political Officer, 

The British at Bushire 


went out to reconnoitre with a mixed 
patrol of infantry and sowars. While 
returning, the patrol was ambushed, 
and both officers were killed, the 
tribesmen concerned in the outrage, 
who also killed or wounded three 
others of the party, afterwards dis- 
appearing into the interior. 

This unprovoked attack was the 
work of the Tanoistani tribesmen, in- 
festing the coastal region of Bushire, 
and since the Persian Government 
failed to make reparation for their 
action the British Government ordered 
that both the port and town of Bushire 
— the land terminus of the Indo- 
European telegraph line and a chief 
station of the British Indian Steam- 
ship Company — should be seized and 
occupied until the British demands 
had been complied with. On August 
8, 191 5, therefore, Bushire was taken 
over by a British force without oppo- 
sition. Further, as a punishment to 
the tribesmen implicated in the hostile 
assault of July 12, orders were issued 
for a naval and military force to attack 
the fortified village of Dilwar, the 
head-quarters of the lawless Tangis- 
tanis. The result, as testified by Sir 
John Nixon in his dispatch relative to 
these operations, afforded "an excel- 
lent example of co-operation between 
the two Services, and it was very cred- 
itably carried out by all concerned". 

Commanded by Captain D. St. A. 
Wake, R. N., the naval squadron 
arrived off Dilwar on August 10, but 
owing to unfavourable weather con- 
ditions landing operations had to be 
postponed until the 13th. Naval guns 
on that day assisted the operations by 
some first-rate practice, which drove 

inland the hostile tribesmen opposing 
the landing of the little expeditionary 
force. This consisted of troops and a 
naval landing-party, under the com- 
mand of Major C. E. H. Wintle, and 
engaged the enemy in several actions 
during the two following days. In 
spite of stiff opposition and intense 
heat the fort and village of Dilwar 

Prince Henry of Reuss, Prime Mover in the German 
Plots in Teheran 

were destroyed, and heavy losses in- 
flicted on the Tangistanis both by 
rifle and machine-gun fire, as well as 
by shell fire from the ships. Having 
successfully accomplished its task the 
force was re-embarked, without inter- 
ference by the enemy, on the night of 
August 15-16. 

In the meantime the British garri- 
son at Bushire maintained its outpost 
line for the protection of the northern 
part of the island from attack from. -the 




The Great World War 

mainland. The low-lying sandy tract 
which joins the " island " to the main- 
land is known as the " Mashileli" and 
is about seven miles across, the same 
distance dividing the sea which flanks 
the Mashileh on the north and south. 
It is liable to inundation during high 
tides. Along the edge of Bush ire 
Island, overlooking the Mashileh, ex- 
tends a line of cliffs, much intersected 
by nullahs and broken ground. The 
eastern section of the British outposts 
lay along the line of the cliffs, while 
the southern section extended across 
the island to the sea on the west side. 
Close and incessant watch had to be 
kept all along the outpost line, for 
Tangistani raiding- parties frequently 
crossed the Mashileh at night and 
attempted to break through. 

Early in September word reached 
the British head-quarters that plans 
were being made for an enemy attack 
in force. The plan developed at day- 
break on September 9, when a patrol 
from the outposts located a body of 
Tangistani mustering in the nullahs at 
the edge of the Mashileh — a favourite 
spot for the gathering of many forces 
on such occasions. 

" On receiving this report," writes Sir 
John Nixon, in his dispatch dated January 
15, 1916, but not pubHshed until towards 
the end of the following July, " Brigadier- 
General H. T. Brooking, C.B., commanding 
the British garrison, immediately made dis- 
positions to attack the enemy in front and 
to turn their left flank, and for the cavalry 
to move out on the Mashileh on their line 
of retreat. After several hours' fighting, the 
turning attack, commanded by Lieutenant- 
Colonel Lane, 96th Berar Infantry, charged 
with the bayonet. The enemy, some Coo 
strong, broke and fled across the Mashileh. 

The cavalry then charged them in the open, 
and our guns shelled them across the 
Mashileh until they were out of range. 
Throughout the period of his command at 
Bushire, General J^rooking dealt with an 
awkward situation in a most capable 
manner. On the occasion of the action of 
September 9, thanks to his energetic and 
skilful command, tiie Tangistanis were de- 
feated and lost heavily before they had 
time to deliver a serious attack. In this 
action the bravery and endurance of the 
troops in most trying heat, which claimed 
several victims, was most commendable. A 
landing-party of the Ro\'al Navy afforded 
valuable assistance. The charge by a squad- 
ron of the 1 6th Cavalry, led by Major \V. H. 
Pennington, 12th Cavalry, in which both 
British officers and half of the Indian 
officers lost their lives, was a most gallant 

The other British officer to fall in 
this fine charge of the i6th Cavalry 
was Second-Lieutenant L. I. L.Thorn- 
ton, attached from the LA. R.O., who, 
with Major Pennington, had also been 
mentioned for good work in the earlier 
operations at Bushire. The Indian 
officers of the 16th Cavalry killed on 
the same occasion were Rissaldar 
Prem Singh and Jemadar Gopal 
Singh. Other units mentioned for 
their services in these operations were 
the 96th Berar Infantry, who distin- 
puished themselves throuohout; the 
1 1th Rajputs, and the 23rd Peshawar 
Mountain Battery. 

The Bushire force, however, was 
powerless to affect the general situa- 
tion in Persia, which gradually grew 
from bad to worse in the summer of 
1 91 5, The most ominous develop- 
ment was a series of deliberate mur- 
ders in various parts of the country. 
The Russian bank-manager was killed 

Turco-Germaa Outrages 


at Ispahan, where, later, tlie British 
Consul was attacked and the Indian 
orderly killed. At Shiraz, in Southern 
Persia, the British Consul - General 
was wounded and the Vice -Consul 
assassinated. That was on Septem- 
ber 2, 191 5, and although the Persian 
Government at once tendered a formal 
apology the situation was obviously 
becoming intolerable, Russian troops 
accordingly began to make their pre- 

sence felt in Northern Persia, where 
a certain number of them had long 
been stationed in order to secure the 
maintenance of Russian interests. 

Another outrageous incident had 
occurred at Kangavar on August 25, 
when the British and Russian Consuls 
at Kermanshah were returning to their 
posts from Hamadan. The German 
Consul from Kermanshah had arrived 
with a force consisting of perhaps 
200 men, and, having occupied the 
surroundino- hills, had informed the 
Governor that he would give three 
hours for the British and Russian 
Consuls to leave. Failing this, he 

Vol. V. 

would attack the town. The Consuls 
were obliged to return to Hamadan, 
whereupon the German and his forces 
left. The object of this attack, as the 
British Foreign Office pointed out at 
the time, was obviously to keep the 
Consular representatives of the En- 
tente Powers out of Kermanshah 
— the main means of entrance for 
German agents on the Turco- Persian 
front, and on the road along which 
the greater part of the 
conspirators' war ma- 
terial was smuggled 
from the Turkish 

The British force 
was not yet strong 
enough seriously to 
grapple with the law- 
lessness in the south, 
though the two ser- 
vices did their best to 
punish the raiding 
tribes along the Per- 
sian Gulf These 
robber hordes badly 
needed chastening. Tribesmen who. 
in normal times, broke the monotony 
of life by piracy and gun-running, they 
were now well paid by German agents, 
and armed with modern rifles. Our 
Navy and the limited number of Bri- 
tish troops available did wonders in 
the way of keeping the rebels in check 
along the coast, but they could not 
work miracles inland, where the whole 
country was in a state of unrest. In- 
creasing in boldness one rebel chief, 
Bahram Khan of Baranzai, invaded 
British Baluchistan — 300 miles from 
the frontier of India — at the end of 
September, 191 5, at the head of a 



The Great World War 

strong force of local tribesmen, en- 
couraged by the German Consul at 
Kerman, but was beaten back by the 
Khan of Kelat, with the assistance of 
the Mekran Levy Corps. No British 
troops were engaged. 

These and other developments 
brought the crisis to a head in Nov- 
ember with the open revolt of the 

of treating them as hostages and put- 
ting pressure on the British Govern- 
ment. The prisoners appear to have 
been well treated, but needless to say 
the capture of a prominent British 
representative in this manner was not 
lightly to be dismissed, especially in 
view of the riotous condition of 
affairs in other parts of the country. 

\ RUS'siANf 


Jfiiglisli Miles 

Persia and the Great War: map illustrating the German attempts to carry the conflict to India 

by way of the Middle East 

Persian gendarmerie, who, as they 
were not receiving their pay from 
their own Government, fell easy 
victims to German o-old. Their 


Swedish officers, for the most part, 
appear to have sold their services as 
mere mercenaries. The first scene of 
the new act in this Persian melodrama 
took place on November lo at Shiraz, 
where Major O'Connell, the British 
Consul, and some representatives of 
the British colony were seized and 
carried off to Borasjam, half-way to 
Bushire, with the presumed intention 

The irony of it was that the rebellious 
gendarmerie had been largely trained 
and equipped at the joint cost of 
Britain and Russia, out of loans and 
advances made for that purpose in 
the hope of securing the safety of the 
southern trade routes. To both 
Allies, who, by their Convention of 
1907, had engaged to respect the 
integrity and independence of the 
country, it was now clear that Persia's 
position as a neutral State was being 
seriously undermined. A new Gov- 
ernment was accordingly formed at 

The Russian Advance 

21 I 

Teheran, containing some stronger 
elements; and one of those Russian 
counter-strokes were delivered which 
furnished some of the most dramatic 
surprises of the Great World War. 
A Russian advance began from Kas- 
vin, and by a series of swift successes 
changed the whole situation. The 
Russian Leoation in Teheran issued 
a manifesto to the Persian people 
pointing out that since the measures 
hitherto taken against the corrupting 
gold of Germany and the propaganda 
of the Turco- German agents who were 
seeking to drag Persia into the war 
had failed to have the desired effect, 
Russia, in agreement with the Gov- 
ernment of the Shah, had decided to 
put an end to these activities. The 
Russian arms would not be turned 
against the Persians, but would be 
used solely in the defence of the 
peaceful population, and payment 
would be made for everything taken. 
Lord Robert Cecil explained in the 
House of Commons at the time that 
this Russian column was advancing 
towards Teheran as the sole means of 
affording protection to the British and 
Allied Legations and subjects there, 
and the Persian Government had been 
expressly informed of the pacific in- 
tentions of these troops. The only 
desire of the British Government, he 
added, was to maintain friendly rela- 
tions with Persia, provided that her 
Government made genuine efforts to 
prevent the attempts of our enemies 
against the Allies' officials in that 
country. The Persian Government, 
however, had been given quite clearly 
to understand that if it concluded any 
special agreement with Germany and 

Turkey the Anglo - Russian under- 
taking to maintain the integrity and 
independence of Persia would lapse. 
Although this warning, said Sir 
Edward Grey in the House of Com- 
mons on November ii, had been 
given by Russia alone, the British 
and Russian Governments were acting 
in complete unity in Persia. " It 
must be obvious", he added, "that 
the Persian Government cannot make 
agreements with our enemies, who 
have instigated murderous attacks on 
our Consuls and their staffs, without 
risking the position of Persia." It 
was an unenviable position for the 
unfortunate Shah ; and there was a 
good deal to be said for the plea of 
the Persian Government that ever 
since the outbreak of war its whole 
time and attention had been devoted 
towards finding means by which its 
neutrality could be respected in every 
sense of the word. No one con- 
versant with the military, political, and 
financial condition of the country 
throughout that period was surprised 
that Persia found her task impossible 
against the Machiavellian plots of 
Germany. These conspiracies were 
to a certain extent supported by some 
few of what are called the advanced 
school in Persia : men who had been 
seduced into thinking that the Nation- 
alist Party in Persia would be favoured 
by the Kaiser, just as Nationalists of 
India and Ireland had been promised 
everything they ever hoped for if only 
they would join forces with benevolent 
Germany. That belief, however, did 
not apparently go very deep or sink 
very far; which was, perhaps, not 
altogether surprising, for, as Lord 


The Great World War 

Crewe said, it was almost too bad a 
joke, or too good a joi^e, to associate 
German domination in a country like 
Persia with tlie idea of freedom or 
extended rights. Knowing, therefore, 
that it could not stand alone, it was 
time to make the Persian Government 
decide that a more hopeful future 
awaited it through the support of 
Cireat Britain and Russia rather than 
through that of Germany and Turkey. 
Hence the Russian advance from 
Kasvin under General Baratoff in 
November, 191 5, with full assurances 
that it was designed, like the arrival 
of British troops in Bushire, as a 
continued effort to secure the mainten- 
ance of Persian independence. 

As soon as he heard of the Russian 
advance. Prince Henry of Reuss, after 
planning a coup which he fondly 
hoped would deliver the young ruler 
into his power, fled from his Legation 
at Teheran on the night of November 
14, 1 91 5, for Shah Abdul Azim, a 
short distance from the capital, ac- 
companied by the Turkish and Aus- 
trian diplomatists, and followed by the 
gendarmerie — ostensibly on a Govern- 
ment mission. Arrived at Shah 
Abdul Azim, the plotters confidently 
awaited the arrival of the Sovereign, 
for whose reception the gendarmerie 
were now drawn up in review order, 
the Foreign Ministers, with their 
staffs, attending in full dress. Unfor- 
tunately for their plans, which included 
a concentration of the Persian, Ger- 
man, and Turkish forces under the 
Shah at the former capital of Ispahan, 
and an advance thence against the 
Russians and British, the plot at 
Teheran miscarried. It seems that 

on the night of the German flight the 
Colonel of the Persian Cossack I)ri- 
gade, which had remained faithful to 
its allegiance, had arranged to hold 
an "At Home", and the infamous 
plan of the Germans was to bribe 
one of the Swedish officers, attending 
as the Colonel's guest, to assassinate 
him in the midst of the reception. 
This, it was hoped, would throw the 
whole brigade into such confusion as 
to make the rest of the plot easy. 
Happily the would-be assassin, armed 
with bombs, was discovered in time, 
and the loyalty of the Persian Cos- 
sacks remained intact. The Shah's 
position, however, remained trying 
enough for a young sovereign — he 
was only seventeen — called to occupy 
a throne through a crisis which would 
have proved a time of exceptional 
stress and danger for an older and 
stronger ruler. On the following 
morning Teheran was full of excite- 
ment over the news that the Shah 
was, indeed, about to leave the capital. 
It seemed as though the German plot 
had succeeded after all. Within the 
Palace, according to Reuter's graphic 
account, the most dramatic scenes 
were in progress. The unfortunate 
Shah, unable to make up his mind, 
sat bewildered in a corner of the room, 
surrounded on one side by the func- 
tionaries who were doing their utmost 
to induce him to go, and on the other 
by Samsan-es-Sultaneh, the Sipahdar 
■ — presently to receive the higher title 
of Sipah Salar, or Prime Minister — 
and Prince Firman Firma, urging him 
no less earnestly to stay: 

" Utterly distracted, the boy -ruler sent 
four times for Colonel Westdahl, asking 

The Shah's Decision 


hiin what he advised, but the Chief of PoHce 
correctly rephed on each occasion that he 
was there to obey orders, and not to advise 
— a striking contrast to the behaviour of 
tlie Chief of the Gendarmerie, Colonel 
Kdwall. The Ministers, when appealed to 
by the Shah, did not know what to say, as 
they had become completely overawed by 
the German party. This state of hesita- 

The Young Shah of Persia 

tion lasted all the morning", and in the 
afternoon the British and Russian Minis- 
ters had a private conference with the 
Shah, at which it was explained at great 
length to the young boy that the presence 
of the Russian troops near Teheran was 
not a menace but a safeguard to the public 
safety, and that the policy of the two 
Powers was one of friend h'ncss towards 

This, apparently, clinched matters, 
His Majesty then openly declaring" 

himself the friend of Great Britain 
and Russia, and also confirming the 
evidence that the Germans had made 
the greatest efforts to drag his country 
into the war ao^ainst the Allies. The 
Shah's decision to remain in his capital 
was a fatal blow to Prince Reuss's 
immediate hopes. The rumours spread 
abroad of a forthcomino- march of the 
Turks and Germans on India, by way 
of Bagdad and Persia, were now dis- 
counted by the concrete fact of the 
vigorous Russian advance against 
Hamadan, where the Turco- German 
conspirators were concentrated. The 
strength of the rebels was uncertain, 
but they were known to be well sup- 
plied with war material from the 
Turkish frontier. Lord Robert Cecil 
estimated their numbers towards the 
middle of December, 191 5, at 8000 
irregulars and 3000 revolted gen- 
darmes, with an adequate supply of 
rifles and machine-guns. Whatever 
their strength, they did not venture to 
measure it against the might of the 
oncoming Russians, who, after clear- 
ing the district near Ava, and seizing 
the Sultan Bulak Pass, which hes on 
the direct route from Kasvin, occu- 
pied Hamadan without opposition on 
December 15. The rebels and their 
Turco-German paymasters fell back 
towards the Kurdish town of Ker- 
manshah, on the main caravan route 
froni Bagdad to the Persian capital, 
and the enemy's base ot operations on 
the Turco- Persian front. 

fiere Prince Henry of Reuss, hav- 
ing the bulk of the Shah's arnied 
forces still in his power, and being 
within easy reach of reinforcements 
and supplies across the Turkish fron- 


The Great World War 

tier, by no means abandoned hope 
of capturing the Shah and setting 
the whole country ablaze. From the 
holy city of Kum, another centre of 
his intrig^ues aoainst Great Britain 
and Russia, south of Teheran, and 
70 miles south-east of Hamadan, 
every effort was made to continue the 
agitation, and placards were posted 
calling on the Faithful to attack all 
Russians and British in the name of 
the Holy War. The capital was also 
flooded with inspired telegrams and 
petitions from hirelings threatening 
dethronement and all manner of dis- 
turbances if the Shah persisted in 
refusinor to throw in his lot with the 
rebels. It was not long, however, 
before Kum followed the fate of Ham- 
adan, the Russians occupying the city 
on December 21, 1915, taking every 
precaution in doing so, however, to 
respect the religious associations of 
this centre of pilgrimage. The troops 
did not enter until the Persian authori- 
ties had consulted with the Mahom- 
medan clergy and arranged which 
quarters should be allotted for the 
Russian occupation. Kashan, 80 miles 
farther south, fell into Russian hands 
a few days later. General Baratoff, 
commanding the expeditionary force, 
had meantime been received at Tehe- 
ran by the Shah, after the assurance 
that the troops would not enter the 
capital unless obliged to do so in order 
to protect Allied life and property. 

Foiled in their plot to carry the 
Shah and his Government with them, 
the Germans continued the revolution- 
ary movement in the Kermanshah 
district, recovering not a little of their 
prestige by the British evacuation of 

Gallipoli at the end of 191 5 and be- 
ginning of 1 9 16, as well as by the 
success of the Turks in surrounding 
Kut-el-Amara. One sequel to these 
set-backs was the announcement that 
Turkey, on January 14, 191 6, had 
again invaded Persia, a force of 
regulars having' arrived at Kerman- 
shah to support the rebels and the 
German agents. These still had with 
them the bulk of the Persian oen- 
darmerie — some 6000 out of a total of 
about 7000 — together with a motley 
army of bandits, malcontents, and 
fanatics, all well armed and supplied 
with guns, but of little resisting power 
against artillery fire and cavalry 
attacks. It was reported at this period 
that Prince Henry of Reuss had been 
recalled, and replaced as the Kaiser's 
chief agent in Persia by Dr. Vassel, 
formerly German Consul-General at 

Field-Marshal Von der Goltz, who 
had organized the Turkish defence of 
Bagdad against General Nixon's 
threatening advance from the Persian 
Gulf, and was now controlling the in- 
vestment of General Townshend at 
Kut, probably decided at this time to 
postpone his Persian plans until the 
fate of Kut had been sealed. The 
dispatch of Turkish troops to Kerman- 
shah was only part of the "active 
defence" to which the Field- Marshal 
was now committed by the disturbing 
Russian operations. He was not 
strong enough to advance against 
General Baratoff in Persia, while the 
British were continually returning" to 
the attack on the Tigris, and the 
Grand Duke was threatening Erzerum 
on the Caucasus front. If he had any 

Turn of the Tide in Persia 


doubts on this subject they must have 
been dispelled by the thunder -clap 
which came with the fall of Erzerum 
on February 16, 191 6. That astonish- 
ing success of the Russians in Armenia 
raised premature hopes that the Turks 
would be forced to relax their grip on 

hammer blows for Erzerum. Ad- 
vancing from Hamadan along the old 
highway which had been the royal 
road from Bagdad to Teheran from 
time immemorial, General Baratoff 
forced the strongly fortified positions 
at Bidesuirkh Pass, occupied Sakhne, 

Principal Roads. 


Russian advance 
British advance.. 

Bagdad and the Persian Campaign: map showing approximately the lines of the British advance from the 
Persian Gulf and of the Russian column from Northern Persia at the end of April, 1916 

Kut, hopes which seemed to be con- 
firmed by the simultaneous movements 
of Russian columns towards the Tigris 
from Lake Van, resulting in the cap- 
ture of Bitlis on March 2, and from 
Hamadan, where General Baratoff 
had consolidated his position before 
the Grand Duke and General Jude- 
nich had delivered their sledge- 

and finally breaking the Turkish re- 
sistance before Kermanshah, carried 
that town by storm on February 26. 
Still pushing west towards the Turkish 
frontier, and capturing some eight or 
ten guns in the pursuit, as well as 
many prisoners, the Russians occupied 
the town of Karind on March 11, "on 
the way to Bagdad", as the official 


The Great World War 

coniuuinique {xo\\\ Petrograd expressed pregnable; and though he did not Hve 
it. This brought them, as the crow to receive the surrender of General 
flies, within some 130 miles of Bagdad; Townshend — his death occurring at 
but, if their intention had been, as the Bagdad on April 19, the day before 
conimuniq lie suggested, to push straight the fall of Kut — he was probably satis- 
on over the mountains to the Tigris, it fled that the Russian advance through 

Persia had been effec- 
tually checked among 
the mountains which 
marked the boundary 
between the land of 
the Shah and the 
Mesopotamian plains. 
Had he lived a few 
months longer he might 
have been less satisfied 
on this {)oint. Per- 
haps it had formed 
no part of the Grand 
Duke's spring cam- 
paign to follow up his 
winter triumphs with 
an immediate ad\ance 
on Bagdad. The difh- 
culty of supplies in the 
case of such far-flung 
columns was neces- 
sarily stupendous, es- 
pecially where the long 
lines of communica- 
tions were constantly 
threatened by robber 
bands lurking in 
mountain fastnesses 
was frustrated by the stubborn Turkish and ready to harass the convoys at 
defence at the Tak-i-Gerreh. Here, every opportunity. In any case the 
along the difficult and sometimes fall of Kut removed all urgency in the 
precipitous route which descends from matter, and General Judenich, who 
Karind through the Zagros mountains was in strategic command of the 
to the Mesopotamian plain, 5000 feet Russian Mesopotamian front, as well 
below. Von der Goltz had laid his de- as of the operations which had been 
fences with some of the skill which so brilliantly successful in Armenia, 
had made his position before Kut im- had the matter well in hand. The 

Tlie Giand Duke's Master Strategist: General Judenich, who phinned the 
Russian campaigns in Asia Minor, Persia, and Mesopotamia 

The Kaiser as the Saviour of Islam 


two columns now operating in the 
direction of the Tigris, one threatening 
Baodad, the other Mosul, were each 
part and parcel of Russia's larger 
Asiatic campaign, timed to fit into a 
scheme of strategy planned on the 
grand scale of modern warfare. The 
meaning of each move was not always 
clear as column after. column dropped 
into its appointed place and then 
waited for unknown developments, 
but out of all the uncertainties of the 
campaign at this stage emerged at 
least one substantial and vital fact: 
Russia's mighty blows in Armenia and 
her opportune advance in Persia had 
for the time being shattered Germany's 
last hopes of raising the Mussulman 
Orient against civilized Christianity. 

To what lengths of mendacity the 
Germans went in their efforts to win 
the support of the whole Mohammedan 
world was discovered by many of our 
missionaries. Bishop Stileman, at the 
annual meeting of the Church Mis- 
sionary Society in 1916, mentioned 
but three of the falsehoods which they 
were known to have circulated with 
this end in view, but these were suf- 
ficiently typical. One of them was 
that it was Germany's chief aim to 
restore Islam to its proud position ot 
a thousand years ago, the Kaiser, now 
a true follower of the Prophet, being- 
called Hadji Mohammed Guilliamo. 
Hadji, it should be explained, is a 
term applied only to those who have 
made a pilgrimage to Mecca. The 
Faithful were assured that when the 
Kaiser was at Mecca he lay three 
days and nights before the great shrine, 
seeking to know God's will; where- 
uj)on a voice from heaven came to 

him as the true envoy of the Lord, the 
Saviour of Islam, and the sword of the 
Lord, saying, "Arise and fight!" 

The second falsehood quoted by 
the Bishop, and one most assiduously 
circulated by German agents, was that 
Britain's main object in waging the 
war vas that as she already had the 
bones of the Pharaohs and other 

Brigadier-General Sir Percy Sykes, commanding in 

Southern Persia (see next page) 

(From a photograph by EUiott i^ Fry) 

ancients in the British Aluseum she 
was determined to rifle the tomb of 
the Prophet Mohamnied and add his 
remains to the same collection! 

Lie No. 3 was that the whole family 
of the HohenzoUerns was descended 
from Mohammed's sister, and that it 
was therefore the sacred duty of all 
Mohammedans at the present time to 
rally round the Central Powers. More 
amazing still was the story told to 
Mohammedan tribesmen that Ger- 


The Great World War 

many possessed a giant aeroplane with 
an all-powerful magnet, which had 
not only visited Petrogad, Paris, and 
London, but had also succeeded in 
drawing up the Tsar of all the Russias, 
the French President, and his most 
gracious and unwilling Majesty King 
George out of his bedroom in Buck- 
ingham Palace; and that all three 
monarchs had been taken prisoners to 

Puerile though these falsehoods 
might seem to us, as Bishop Stileman 
pointed out in quoting them, they 
nevertheless had a far-reaching and 
dangerous effect upon the ignorant 
people in many Mohammedan lands. 
Similar tales had undoubtedly been 
circulated in Persia, where German 
agents were too long allowed to exer- 
cise their baleful influence. By the 
spring of 1916, however, the pacifica- 
tion of South-eastern Persia was at 
length seriously undertaken by the 
British, with the cordial co-operation 
of the Persian Government. Sir Percy 
Sykes, one of the greatest living 
authorities on Persia,^ and thoroughly 
at home both with the people and their 

language — having served as Consul- 
General and agent to the Governor- 
General in the Persian province of 
Khorasan from 1906 to 191 3 — landed 
at Bunder Abbas on March 16, 1916, 
gazetted to the temporary rank of Bri- 
gadier-General, and empowered with 
the duty of organizing a military police 
for Southern Persia. With this new 
force, which increased with remark- 
able rapidity both in strength and 
efficiency, and the solid backing of 
British troops, a new complexion was 
gradually given to the state of the 
whole surrounding region. On June 
13, 191 6, when our present survey 
comes to an end. Sir Percy Sykes 
clearly demonstrated the downfall of 
the German influence in Southern 
Persia by entering Kerman with the 
British column under his command, 
a march of about sixteen days from 
Bunder Abbas. It was at Kerman 
that Brigadier-General Sykes had long 
resided as British consul, and his in- 
fluential presence was calculated to 
have the best possible effect among a 
people whose complete confidence he 
had gained in the past. F. A. M. 



Geographical Importance of Portugal — The Alliance with Great Britain — Circumstances of the 
Rupture with Germany — The Portuguese Navy — The Declaration of the British Government. 

IF we wish to understand the im- 
portance of Portugal in the 
World War, the best as well as 
the shortest way to find an answer is 
to look at a track chart of the world. 

A globe is perhaps better, because it 
gives the real proportions of countries 

^ His History of Persia, in two large volumes, pub- 
lished in 1 91 5, at once took rank as the standard authority 
on the subject. 

Portugal's Harbours and Colonies 


to the whole, and their relative not only the Mother Country in the 
positions, or as the sailors have it, Iberian Peninsula, but all that remains 
their bearings, to one another with to her of her once vast colonial empire 
more accuracy than is possible for so — her islands in the Atlantic and pos- 
conventional a thing as any kind of sessions in Africa. The small remnants 
map must be. Yet the chart will do, of her old widespread dominion in the 
and all the better if it is consulted to- East, Goa and Macao, may indeed be 

left aside. They now 
lie outside the field of 
the war, vast as it is. 

From the mouth of 
the Minho to Cape St. 
Vincent the coast runs 
from the north for in 
round figures 360 miles. 
From Cape St. Vincent 
to the mouth of the 
Guadiana, roughly 

speaking 140 miles, it 
runs from west to east. 
On the coast facing the 
west Portugal pos- 

Portugal's Geographical Importance in the War: map showing the positions of 
her chief harbours, her islands in the Atlantic, and her African possessions 

gether with Messrs. Philip's Distance 
and Speed Tables for Shippers. 
Portugal has been drawn into the war 
because of her geographical position. 
That is not, of course, the only reason. 
There are others of a political char- 
acter, which must not be overlooked. 
But they would never have come into 
play if it were not for the influence of west, and at a distance of 535 miles 
geography. When we say Portugal, from Lisbon, lies the island of Ma- 
the name must be taken as including deira. To the south, and a little 

sesses one really good 
harbour, rather difficult 
of access, but spacious 
and safe, Lisbon. On 
the south coast there 
is the fine anchorage 
in Lagos Bay. In any 
war in which the North 
Seas and the Mediter- 
ranean are concerned, 
this position must always make Portu- 
gal important, even if her whole ter- 
ritory were confined to the Iberian 
Peninsula. But this is far from being 
the case. On the 38th degree of lati- 
tude, opposite the southern coast of 
Portugal, and at a distance of 830 
miles, lie the Azores. To the south- 


The Great World War 

to the west of Madeira, lie the Cape 
Verde islands, at a distance (counting 
from the most easterly of them) of 
300 miles from the mouth of the 
Senegal River. St. Thomas on the 
lujuator, and in the Gulf of Guinea to 
the south of the mouth of the Niger, 
belongs to Portugal. On the west 
coast, and to the south of the Equator, 

were beyond the reach of the Central 
Power. But on its northern frontier 
the Portuguese colony touched German 
East Africa. The Mother Country, 
its islands, and its West African pons 
had a far more direct interest for Ger- 
many. Her navy could use their waters 
and their harbours so long as they 
remained neutral. And the islands, 

Onr Oldest Allies: Portus;uese sailors on the march 

she Still holds the great province of 
Angola, lying between 6th and tlie 
1 8th degrees of southern latitude. On 
the east coast she possesses Mozam- 
bique, the great territory which 
stretches for 1430 miles opposite the 
island of Madagascar. On the sea- 
coast this part of the still considerable 
possessions of Portugal has not been, 
and is not likely at any future time to 
be, brought into contact with the war. 
Since the German cruisers had been 
destroyed the straits of Mozambique 

more especially the Azores, were tempt- 
ing objects for German aggression. 

From the time when the international 
relations of modern States may be 
said to have begun, the position of 
Portugal on the way from northern 
Europe to the Mediterranean has 
made her friendship an object of par- 
ticular importance. This beginnin;^ 
was also that of the history of Portugal 
herself The nation as an independent 
State may be said to have been a pro- 
duct of the crusades. Until then there 

Oritrin of our 

oldest Alliance 


was nothino' to show that Portuoal 
would separate its destiny from that 
of other parts of the Iberian Peninsula. 
At the end of the eleventh century all of 
it to the south of the Douro was in the 
hands of the Mohammedan conquerors, 
Arabs and Moors. But the country 
between the Douro and the Minho, 
the present northern frontier of Portu- 
gal, was given as a feudal fief to Henry 
of Burgundy by Alfonso VI of Castile, 
of whose dominions it formed part, 
toofether with the rest of the north- 
west of the peninsula. Alfonso had 
married a Burgundian princess, and 
he married his natural daughter 
Theresa to her brother Henry. The 
tendency of a "march", or frontier, 
province to grow great by conquest 
and to become independent was often 
illustrated in the early Middle Ages, 
and Portugal was one example among 
many of a common process. The son 
of Henry, Count of Porto, i.e. Oporto, 
Affonso Enriquez, i.e. Henryson, to 
give him his proper title, conquered 
beyond the Douro. His victory over 
the Moors at Ourique in 1 139 was the 
beeinninof of the transformation of the 
county of Porto into the kingdom of 
Portugal. He won Lisbon in i 147. 

The rivalry between France and 
England began with the birth of the 
kingdom. Burgundianandother French 
crusaders came in large numbers to help 
in the conquest, and they remained to 
form the governing class, the nobility 
of Portugal. English crusaders on 
their way to the Holy Land by sea 
helped to take Lisbon, and not a few 
of them were content to remain to 
help to hold the conquest. They 
became the vassals of Affonso 

Enriquez, the victor of Ourique and 
founder of the first dynasty of Portu- 
guese kings. In the later part of the 
lourteenth century and the reign of 
Edward III this rivalry became 
flagrant. The kings of Castile were 
allies of the kings of P^rance, and 
when the old line of Portuguese kings 
came to an end, they endeavoured 
with P^rench help to enforce claims 
on the crown of Portugal. England 
opposed what was naturally looked on 
as an extension of French influence. 
John, called of Aviz, a natural son of 
the last king of the old line, was the 
national candidate. He was aided by 
England, and English archers helped 
him to win the battle of Aljubarrota 
in 1385, and plant himself firmly on 
the throne. The only part of a very 
complicated story of war, negotiations, 
and royal marriages which needs to 
be mentioned here is that the new 
kino- of Portuofal married a dau""hter 
of John of Gaunt. The dynasty of 
Aviz, as the new line was called, was 
closely connected with England. Its 
friendship was valuable, because its 
dominions lay on the road of English 
trade to southern Spain. When the 
great age of Portugal began by the 
opening of the trade route to the Fast 
round the Cape of Good Hope at the 
close of the fifteenth century, Lisbc^n 
grew otherwise important to all nor- 
thern Europe, for it became the em- 
porium of the eastern trade. Mer- 
chants from England, the Netherlands, 
and the German Hanse towns settled 
in large numbers in Lisbon. The good- 
will of Portugal was more an object 
than ever to England, and so was the 
friendship of England to Portugal. 


The Great World War 

The connection would appear to 
have been broken when the House 
of Aviz came to an end in its turn, 
and Philip II of Spain enforced his 
indubitably good claim to the crown 
of Portugal. But the interruption 
was short. The Portuguese crown 
remained united to the Spanish for 
sixty years only, from 1580 to 1640. 
Then a revolt restored the indepen- 
dence of Portugal and established the 
new dynasty of Braganza. Very 
soon the old rivalry of France and 
England began again. Both helped 
Portugal to free herself from Spain, 
but each wished to dominate her 
politics. From the mere fact that 
Portugal was more easily reached by 
England oversea, the French were at 
a disadvantage. The marriage of 
Charles II to Catherine of Braganza 
was part of a general treaty by which 
we guaranteed the independence of 
Portugal at home and her possessions 
abroad, in return for the surrender of 
Bombay. The arrangement did not 
produce all the results looked for, but 
in the main it was carried out. It has 
been the basis of the relations of the 
two countries ever since. 

They were drawn closer during the 
eighteenth century. Portugal was the 
ally of Great Britain in the War of 
the Spanish Succession. In 1703 was 
made the famous Methuen Treaty, so 
called because it was negotiated by 
Sir Paul Methuen. By the terms of 
this treaty Portugal admitted British 
goods on easy terms, while Portuguese 
wines paid a lower duty than others in 
Great Britain. This not only gave 
Great Britain the command of an im- 
portant market in Portugal and Brazil, 

but, what was not overlooked when 
the treaty was made, though it was 
not officially mentioned, it facilitated 
the smuggling of large quantities of 
British goods across land frontiers into 
Spain and Spanish America. Portugal 
was much taunted with having become 
a mere dependence of Great Britain, 
but by Powers which would willingly 
have brouorht her into submission to 
themselves. The realities of the posi- 
tion were well brought out in the 
course of the eighteenth century. 
British ships used Brazilian ports on 
the way to the East — a very important 
relief when scurvy was usual in long 
sailing voyages and before the con- 
quest of the Cape of Good Hope. 
British fleets used Portuguese anchor- 
ages in Europe. On the other hand, 
when Spain became the ally of France 
and endeavoured to conquer Portugal 
in the Thirty Years War, British sol- 
diers repelled the invasion in 1761. 
The old alliance reached its highest 
and heroic stage when Napoleon en- 
deavoured to seize the whole Peninsula 
in 1808. The events of the Peninsular 
War are too numerous for record 
now. But it would be unjust, and un- 
critical too, to pass over the fact that 
the services rendered were mutual. 
If Portugal could not have driven 
out the French invader by her own 
strength, neither could the British 
army have held its ground for a 
month without the adhesion and co- 
operation of the Portuguese people. 
And it was they who had to bear the 
suffering, as the Duke of Wellington, 
with his characteristic mental honesty, 
allowed. In later years the British 
Government has not had to aid Por- 

Portugal and the Great War 


tugal against foreign invasion, but 
British volunteers took a most decisive 
share in the overthrow of the worn- 
out absolutist royal government. The 
victory of Sir Charles Napier over the 
fleet of the absolutist Dom Miguel in 
1833 was the decisive event of the 
struggle for liberty. The relations of 
the two nations have not always been 
quite cordial. A few years ago certain 
events in South Africa did for a time 

A Portuguese Torpedo Boat 

embitter Portuguese feeling, but the 
soreness has worn away, and Portugal 
has ended by remembering the aid 
given against menaces of the Boers 
and the Germans in South Africa. 
When, therefore, the time came for 
her to take action in this war, a long- 
tradition was operative to enforce im- 
mediate reasons why she should take 
sides with Great Britain and her Allies. 
The formal declaration that a state 
of war had arisen between them came 
from Germany on March 9, 1916, 
when the Kaiser's representative at 
Lisbon handed in the notification to 
the Portuguese Government. The 

reasons given for this peremptory step 
were: that Portugal had requisitioned 
certain German merchant vessels which 
had been lying in her ports since the 
beginning of the war; that she had 
forbidden the coaling of German ships; 
and that "The extensive sojourn of 
British war vessels in PortusTuese 
waters, which is also in conflict with 
the laws of neutrality, was allowed; 
Great Britain was also permitted to 
use Madeira as 2l point 
■' :^;^- '>,; ::^ cCappui for her fleet. 
Guns and materials of 
war were sold to En- 
tente Powers, and even 
a destroyer was sold to 
Great Britain". These 
and other allegations 
of the same character 
must of course be re- 
garded as the forms 
which are used by di- 
plomacy not so much 
for the purpose of con- 
veying statements of 
fact, as because they 
serve to cover more substantial reasons 
for taking action. 

Even if the Portuguese Government 
had favoured the Entente Powers, 
this, which was inevitable in the posi- 
tion of the country, would not in itself 
have imposed on Germany the alter- 
native of either submitting to a wrong 
or of declaring war. The requisition- 
ing of the interned German merchant 
ships would certainly not have pro- 
vided a reasonable casus belli. So 
long as the two countries remained at 
peace Portugal would have been under 
an obligation to pay for the use of the 
steamers, and to make good their value 

2 24 

The Great World War 

if the Allies were to seize them while 
sailino- under Portuouese command. 
The real reasons for the peremptory 
line taken by Germany were easy 
enough to understand. In the first 
place, she had no reason to fear the 
consequences of the addition of the 
Portuguese navy to the other sea forces 
arrayed against her. Portugal does 
not command the resources which 
could enable her to indulge in such a 
costly form of armament as is a modern 
fleet. The largest of the half-score 
vessels or so, over and above mere 
harbour and river boats, which she 
possessed did not exceed 4200 tons. 
In addition to this neoative reason 
why Germany should be ready to seize 
an excuse, or to make one, for declar- 
ing vvar, there were others of a positive 
character. That such cruisers of hers 
as might reach the open ocean would 
find more prizes to destroy would be a 
minor consideration, but with Portugal 
as an open enemy she would be more 
free to invade Mozambique, if the 
course of the war in East Africa were 
to go in her favour. The case as it 
presented itself to her was that she 
had nothing to lose by declaring war, 
while there was just a possibility, 
though indeed a small one, that she 
might make some gain. As a matter 
of fact, Germany had not waited for 
the seizure of her ships by Portugal 
on February 23, 191 6, before making 
an attempt to master the Portuguese 
colonies. In October and December, 
1 914, she had made raids on Angola, 
as Sir Edward Grey reminded the 
world on March 14, 19 16, when he 
made a statement to the House of 
Commons. It was made on behalf of 

Mr. Asquith and stated the case in 
the most precise terms. After noting 
that Portugal was perfectly entitled to 
requisition the German ships which 
had lain so long in her ports, and did 
not go beyond her rights as a neutral, 
so long, of course, as she accepted her 
responsibility to pay for the use of 
them, as she had, Sir Edward Grey 
went on to say: 

" But Portugal is not a neutral nation in 
the narrowest sense of the term. At the 
beginning of the war the Portuguese Govern- 
ment declared that in no circumstances 
would they disregard the duties of their 
ancient alliance with Great Britain, and 
now as always they have remained faithful 
to their obligations as our allies." 

The British Government met the 
fidelity of Portugal by the proper cor- 
responding guarantee of support. No 
immediate necessity arose for the use 
of the reserves which Portuoral hastened 
to call out. Germany's power to reach 
her in any part of her dominions by 
sea had ceased long- before March y, 
1916. The requisitioned steamers, on 
which the Allies had to some extent 
relied, as Sir Edward Grey also noted, 
to remedy the acknowledged "shortage 
of tonnage in all parts of the globe ", 
free to be used for commercial pur- 
poses, did not prove so promptly avail- 
able as had been hoped. The Germans 
left in charge of them, acting by orders 
from their Government, had taken 
measures to disable the engines. To 
remedy the mischief was a matter of 
time and trouble. Yet the addition to 
the forces arrayed against Germany 
which was made by the adhesion of 
Portugal to the Entente was a sensible 
one. D. H. 

Period of Preparation 




(February 21 -April 12, 19 16) 

German Summer Campaign of 1916 — Reasons for Striking on the Western Front — Selection of the 
Verdun Sector for the Great German Eftbrl — \'erdun's Position and Defences — General Sarrail's Defensive 
Lines — German Assemblage of Forces for the Attack on the X'erdun Position — The Massed Guns — 
Opening of the Attack on February 21 — Obliteration of the French First-line Defences — Colonel Driant's 
Counter-resistance — Retirement to Line of Samogneux-Hcrbebois — Critical Stage of February 24 — French 
Counter-attack and Successful Occupation of their Second Line — German Occupation of Douaumont 
Fort as the Result of their Culminating Assault — Counter-attack by Balfervier's 20th French Corps — 
Temporary Cessation of the German Attempt East of the Meuse — The Offensive on the West Side of the 
Meuse — Successive Attacks on the Mort Homme and Cumieres — Attempt to outflank Mort Homme by 
Avocourt and Hill 304 — The New German Rearrangement of Forces — Futile German Attack of March 28 
— A Return to the Attack on the East Side of the Meuse — The Double Attack on Hill 304 and Mort 
Homme — End of the First Stage of the Battle of \'erdun with the German Failure of the First and Second 
Week of April. 

AFTER the i^reat offensive of 
LJL the French on the Cham- 
^ -^ pagne front, in the autumn 
of 1 91 5, an attempt which, despite its 
partial success, definitely committed 
the opponents to another winter cam- 
paign, both sides utilized the winter, 
as armies in previous centuries had 
done, as a period of preparation. The 
usual tlock of conflicting- rumours filled 
the air as to the issue of these prepara- 
tions, but only three of them need be 
mentioned. The first was that the 
Allies in the West were preparing a 
great spring offensive on a greater 
scale of combination and momentum 
than that of September; the second 
was that Germany was contemplating 
a renewed attack on Russia, with the 
intention of completing the incomplete 
advantaoe oained in the summer of 
1 91 5; the third was that Germany's 
campaign of 1916 was to be a vast 
attack on the Franco - British front, 
seeking there the decision which should 
end the war by breaking through or by 

Vol. V. 

immobilizing the French and British 
forces to the same or to a greater 
exent than the Russian. As the in- 
telligence work on both sides was 
remarkably good, though the German 
spy organization, like the German 
artillery, was more abundant in ma- 
terial, the French Head-quarters Staff 
were no doubt quite able to predict 
the German intention by the begin- 
ning of the year, and could guess that 
whatever German offensive was de- 
veloped, would be set in motion before 
the Allies were ready or willing to 
attack. There was no great surprise, 
therefore, about the German attack, 
such surprises being almost impossible 
under the conditions of the campaign, 
and the only surprises at all likely to 
be of value being those which might 
arise from the precise locality, magni- 
tude, and timing of the onset. 

The reasons why Germany struck at 
the Allied lines in the West were sound. 
The British army was steadily gaining 
in numbers and efficiency, and, even 



The Great World War 

more to the point, the heavy balance 
against it of artillery and shells was 
being rapidly redressed. In France 
and in Britain alike the ammunition 
was being piled up to an extent that 
made it impossible for German strategy 
to sit still and do nothino- in the face 
of the growing threat. A timely blow 
might weaken or dissolve the threat, 
more especially as Germany had de- 
voted the winter, as the Allies had 
done, to the accumulation of shells 
and the aggregation of guns, while her 
initial superiority in them had not been 
caught up, and could still be counted 
on. It was sound policy also to strike 
at the strongest of her enemies, and 
this policy had the recommendation of 
the two leaders who had won for Ger- 
many the successes against Russia. 
Von Hindenburg thought that it was 
of little positive value to advance 
against Russia in the early spring, and 
that Russia was quite out of action for 
some time to come. Von Mackensen's 

experience in driving his battering- 
ram of massed artillery through the 
Russian front on the Dunajec prompted 
him to urge similar tactics against the 
French. The utmost resources of the 
German artillery machine had never 
been brought to bear in the Dunajec 
manner on the French — if these re- 
sources, supplemented by a commen- 
surate weight of infantry, were con- 
centrated against any section of the 
French lines, they must, it was 
urged, penetrate it. Was it not a 
mere matter of weio^ht and numbers? 
Could not the Germans magnify and 
improve upon the French September 
assault in Champagne? 

Reasons for the selection of Verdun 
as the sector of assault could be quite 
well maintained, thouoh the idea that 
the capture of Verdun would open the 
road to Paris was not one of them. If, 
however, the lines at Verdun had been 
broken by the battering - ram's on- 
slaught, as the Germans may have, at 



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^ Dkm'viller^ 


Soua.S VUlo^' 


5te Menehould 
> CKalonS-sur Marne 

les Haxt^poidtelj 

Englisli Mile 


Railways „ 

Light Railways 

Canals „ 

1 1 I I I 

t- Verdun 

W^^\"ze la Pte -ttfif Lamorjille m,i: 
^^\D ^,^r^H^St. Mlhiel/ 
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en- Hay c 

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J ^^^^€T^ Jj^^cT \x^Vp ^ ?^ /^^!!L— o/— l^Nancy 

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Map showing the French Line from Champagne to St. Mihiel before the German Assault on \'erclun 

The Value of Verdun 


The Ordeal of Verdun : one of the city streets ruined by the German bombardment, but kept clear for the 
passage of French troops and supplies to the firing-line 

the highest, pitched their hopes, the 
French position would have been very 
much embarrassed. Verdun did not 
constitute a pronounced sahent of the 
French Hnes, but it was at the northern 
extremity of that great bulge which 
the Germans had made at St. Mihiel. 
If anything happened at Verdun to 
compromise the French position seri- 
ously, a second hammer blow from 
underneath at St. Mihiel might convert 
compromise into disaster. But, even 
if these oreater successes were not 
achieved, a crack or a sudden dent at 
Verdun would probably result in the 
capture of large numbers of men and 
masses of material which could not be 
removed by way of the bridges of the 
Meuse. The Meuse was flooded in 
spring; the bulk of the French defences 

in men on the east of the river were 
distributed over a wide arc, like the 
arc of a bow of which the Meuse was 
the string. A sudden flattening of the 
bow might have crushed the forces 
within the arc. Lastly, there was the 
political consideration that the capture 
of Verdun, of which, as of its defences, 
a ereat deal had been made in official 
photographs and semi-official descrip- 
tions, would strike a resounding blow 
throuofhout all the countries at war. 

Verdun has always been a famous 
city. It was fortified by Vauban for 
Louis XIV, and it made a stout re- 
sistance till it was starved out after a 
ten weeks' siege by the Germans in 
1870. After the loss of Alsace-Lor- 
raine it became, with Belfort, Toul. 
and fipinal, one of the eastern bul- 


The Great World War 

For the Defence of Verdun : one of tlie huge shell reserves behind the 
French line 

warks of France, and, converted into 
a great entrenched camp, formed the 
left wing of the fortifications of the 
heights of the Meuse. It was fortified 
with an inner fine of redoubts, and 
beyond them an outer fine of forts and 
batteries was pushed out in a circuit 
of some 30 miles. Before the war 
all the forts had been brought up to 
date; but when the war began, and 
other forts began to clatter down, the 
work of entrenching far in front of 
them was begun in haste and not a 
moment too soon. But the lUitile of 
the Marne frustrated the efforts of the 
Crown Prince to invest Verdun, and 
General Sarrail, who had held it 
aoainst him with a field army, enlarged 
its perimeter of defence. In tiie spring 
of 191 5 the French won Les Eparges, 
which gave them an advanced posi- 
tion in the heights of the Meuse east 
of Verdun and overlooking the plain 

of the VVoevre. They 
were never able to 
press this advantage so 
as to nip the German 
salient at St. Mihiel, 
but it strengthened 
the Verdun lines by 
extending them. 

Verdun, the old 
town, is deep-sunk on 
the Meuse. Some 
distance north of it, on 
the western bank of the 
river, rise low hills, of 
which the nearest and 
the most prominent is 
the ridge of Charny. 
North of Charny 
again, on this side, 
are hills dominated by 
such heights as Hill 304, Hill 295 
(Mort Homme) \ and Hill 265, which 
became famous from the fights for 
them. On the eastern side of Verdun 
the heights of the Meuse rise steeply 
to a broken table-land 5 to 6 miles 
broad. Below the table-land, to the 
east, is the plain of the Woevre. The 
table-land has great woods of beech 
and chestnut, and is cut by wooded 
ravines. The French lines, as thrust 
forward by Sarrail, lay, at the be- 
ginning of Tebruary, 1916, 9 miles 
north of the town of Verdun, and 
8 miles to the east, at their farthest, 
beyond the table-land of the eastern 
heights of the Meuse in the flat plain 
of the Woevre. From the Argonnc, 
on the west, the line cin'ved gently 

' For clearness of narration and because the English 
substitutes for Mort Ilomme, Oie Hill, Corbeaux Wood, 
(S;c. , have become familiarized to English readers under 
the names of Dead Man, Goose Hill, Crows Wood, Sec, 
these substitutes are more generally emplnyed in the text. 

»^ •^■♦"iT^^,-' 

V '''— '^->, •"'' "'y.^ 

The Defender of Verdun: General P^tain (centre) walking with General Joffre on his right 



The Great World War 

north-east towards Forges, and passed 
along the hollow which falls from 
Poroses into the Meuse. The line 
crossed the Meuse, ran past Consen- 
voye, Brabant-sur-Meuse, and Caures 
Wood, passed north of another wood 
and along the heights of the Meuse 
towards Herbebois and Ornes. It 
then left the heights of the Meuse to 
strike south-eastwards in the plain of 
the Woevre as far as Fromezey, and 
thence to curve back again through 
Fresnes, and, regaining the heights at 
Les Eparges, to strike south towards 
St. Mihiel. That was the outermost 
line. The first inner line went through 
Samogneux, Beaumont, Fosses Wood, 
and Bezonvaux. The second inner 
line went through Bras, Douaumont, 
Hardaumont, Vaux, and Fix. Be- 
tween the first and second inner lines 
positions had been prepared to com- 
mand the curve of the Meuse, as well 
as on Poivre Hill, and on the southern 
slopes between Louvemont and Hau- 
dremont about the farm of Haudre- 
mont. All this succession of positions 
had been strengthened, not by con- 
centration at the forts, most of which 
had been dismantled, but by laby- 
rinthine trenches, hidden roads, con- 
cealed gun-positions, and barbed wire. 
But this cunning system of defences, 
though it magnified Verdun as a fort- 
ress, could not diminish some of the 
disadvantages which modern artillery 
imposed on the position as a place to 
be defended. The chief of these dis- 
advantages was that all the French 


ground eastwards of Verdun, in the 
arc of the bow, had to be supplied 
across the Meuse, and principally over 
the Verdun bridges. The railways 

supplying Verdun were not immune 
from the attack of German lonor-rano^e 
guns — and there was always the danger 
of being jammed against the Meuse 
if the attack were on a crushing- scale. 
The French had foreseen the perils. 
Sarrail had so strengthened the trench 
defences and the interior communica- 
tions as to remove the chance that any 
attack could be fast enough, or fierce 
enough, to jam the French between 
their defences and the river, and he 
had organized a system of motor trans- 
port to feed the men and guns of an 
army of a quarter of a million. But 
he could not deprive the Germans of 
the advantages of wooded positions 
north of his lines, where they could 
mass men unperceived, or of the good 
heavy-gun positions which they pos- 
sessed at the wood of Forges, on the 
west, and the two hills of Ornes on the 
east. Nor could he ensure that the 
defences on which he had lavished so 
much skill should remain in the state 
of polish to which he brought them 
before he exchanged his command at 
Verdun for another at Salonika. 

The German High Command spared 
no pains to conceal from the Allies 
the direction in which the Teutonic 
" push " was to be made. From the 
first week in January onwards a num- 
ber of feint thrusts were made on the 
whole line of front from Switzerland 
to the sea, in Alsace, in Champagne, 
on the Aisne and the Yser, at the 
Hohenzollern and Hulluch positions, 
and the Vimy heights. Any one of 
the positions selected for these attacks 
might reasonably have been subjected 
to a main attack, and by multiplica- 
tion" of these feints the Germans hoped 

Preliminaries at Verdun 


to confuse expectation as to the right 
one. They were at great pains to 
prevent aerial scouting on the part of 
the Allies, and the early weeks of the 
year saw the appearance of their swift 
aeroplane — the . Fokker — which was 
designed for defence and as a weapon 
to keep off intruders. Their own 
scouting aeroplanes became more dar- 

To an extent these measures were 
successful. They were not proof 
against "intelligence information", and 
even rumour spoke of the Kaiser's 
presence on the Western Front, and 
of rehearsals and unexampled prepara- 
tions; but these preparations might 
equally well have been designed for a 
blow at the Aroonne or east of Ver- 
dun. The Germans employed still 
another device to confuse anticipa- 
tion. The September offensive'of the 
French, in 191 5, had been heralded 
by long, sustained bombardments. 
The German sustained fury of pre- 
liminary bombardment gave much less 
notice. Instead of being a matter of 
days, it lasted no more than a few 
hours before the infantry was launched 
to follow it up. When the storm burst 
it was of a fury that not all the know- 
ledge of the preparations which had 
been made, and which in the few days 
immediately before February 21, 1916, 
could no lonofer be concealed from the 
scouting aeroplanes, could have fore- 

The seven miles of the French 
positions from Brabant on the Meuse 
eastwards to Herbebois, was held by 
three French divisions, part of General 
Humbert's Third Army. Against it 
the Germans were ready with fourteen 

divisions. Their central army, on the 
line Bois de Haumont to Azannes, 
consisted of the i8th Army Corps, the 
3rd Army Corps, ^ picked men of 
Brandenburg, the 15th Army Corps 
and a Bavarian Ersatz Division. 

On the right flank of this, to the 
west, another army corps was de- 
ployed from the Bois de Haumont to 
Consenvoye on the Meuse, and beyond 
it westwards to Varennes. It con- 
sisted of the 7th Army Corps of the 
2nd Landwehr Division, the iith 
and 1 2th Reserve Divisions, with an- 
other Reserve Division, the 14th. 

On the easterly flank, along the 
railway to Metz, was another army of 
the 5th Army Corps, the Bavarian 
Army Corps and the 5th Landwehr 

In all, not far short of half a million 
men. The guns which were massed 
cannot be computed: a correspondent 
in the Nieiiwe Rotterdavische Courant 
wrote the following impression of 
them : — 

" Over the roads leading towards Verdun 
artillery and ammunition were brought up 
in such quantities as the history of war has 
never seen on such a small space. The 
country was covered with guns. We could 
hardly believe what we saw round Verdun. 
Long rows of guns as in old battle pictures, 
set up in open fields with gunners standing 
about them, and on the hill-tops observa- 
tion-posts with their great telescopes un- 
covered. When I shut my eyes I still see 
before me those curved lines, row upon 
row in endless array, with gunners moving 
about them in the open battle-field." 

It was this array of guns which 

' On the 3rd Amiy Corps of Brandenburgers fell the 
hrunt of the culminating struggle. It was withdrawn on 
the 3rd of March, and replaced by the 113th Reserve 


The Great World War 

opened the ball at seven o'clock on 
the morning of February 21. From 
the wood of Forges, from the wood 
of Consenvoye, and from the forest of 
Spincourt, as well as from the little 
wood of Grenilly, north of Ornes, the 
great 13-inch Austrian guns, as well 

shape of the hills. In that four hours' 
bombardment the French front lines 
melted away. The Germans had it 
all their own way; their guns, massed 
far behind, were firing by the map, 
and had the range of the French 
trenches to a yard; the February 

Map showing the Various Stages in the First Phase of the Attack on Verdun 

The German attack on the French lines at Verdun began on the east side of tlie Meuse at dawn on February 21, 1916. 
The most northerly line drawn on the map shows the French position at the time of the German onset. The other lines show 
the successive positions taken up by the French as they were forced back on February 22, 23, 24, and 25. On Friday, February 25, 
the final adjustment of the French line in the first phase of the struggle east of the Meuse took place. It crossed Poivre Hill and 
Douaumont Plateau. 

as the Krupp 12-inches, began; they 
were supported by guns of every 
calibre above 4 -inch. Never has 
so concentrated a torrent of shells 
been poured in on a position. It 
blotted out the French first line 
trenches, it smashed the trenches 
leading to them, it made firewood of 
the coppices and woods, it altered the 

morning was thick and raw, with low 
visibility, so that the French artillery 
could not find the German euns to 
answer them. It was as certain as 
anything ' could be that when this 
volcanic blast ceased the German 
troops would merely walk in. That 
was expected; the thin line of French 
troops retired, not without losses 


The First German Assault 233 

commensurate with this unexampled nature of rear-guard actions. To the 
shelling, to their support lines. These French soldiers of these front lines 
lines were not good. After the in- was given the task of selling the 
defatigable Sarrail had left Verdun, positions as dearly as they could, 
this section of the line, so long left That task was greatly performed, 
quiescent by the enemy, had not At daybreak the German attack 
marched with the times. The lines had began with the torrent of shells again 
not been "improved", as the German methodically let loose. The left wing 
so industriously improves his trenches; pivot of Brabant still held ; the right- 
and they gave bad cover for reinforce- hand corner at Herbebois began to 
ments. It was an occasion when the crumble; the fierce French counter- 
best of cover was necessary, for the attacks in the Haumont and Caures 
long -projected German assault left woods were unable to prevent the 
nothino- to chance, neither curtain fire masses of Germans from borino- in. 
to hold off reinforcements and inter- All day the French were out-shelled; 
cept retreat, nor pioneer battalions to but Haumont and Caures were not 
examine the effect of the bombard- lost till nightfall; and when from 
ment and prepare it against the Head -quarters came the order to 
counter-assault, nor ample troops to retreat, Colonel Driant's Chasseurs 
occupy the position. The programme could hardly be made to obey it. 
was fulfilled. Firing -trenches and Colonel Driant died. At Head-quar- 
most of the support -trenches were ters it was understood that retreat 
carried in the centre in the two woods was necessary, that resistance then 
of Haumont and Caure. The flanks and there could be maintained only 
at Brabant on the left, and Herbebois at a desperate cost. Brabant was 
on the right, were held, and a French still in French hands, but it now 
counter-attack, late in the afternoon, jutted out dangerously. Brabant must 
led by Lieutenant - Colonel Driant, go, and the line be retired so that it 
won back some of the ground lost in would stretch in an almost west-and- 
the wood of Caures. But this was no east line from Samooneux on the 
more than the gallant and necessary Meuse to just north of Beaumont 
sacrifice to gain time. The character village; thence a shade north of east 
of the German blow had revealed to Herbebois, and so on, curving 
itself to the alert French mind. There round to Ornes. From Ornes the 
was nothing to do but to yield to the line, leaving the plateau, struck out 
blow, retiring to positions where its into the plain of the Woevre ; and 
momentum could be resisted and re- this part of the line was shortly to be 
inforcements be brought up to with- revised in a drastic manner, 
stand increasing pressure. Until that On the 23rd the German bombard- 
position of equilibrium w^as reached, ment began on the new^ Samogneux- 
counter-attack on a large scale was Herbebois line; the German attack 
out of the question. Counter-attack was renewed. Neither the bombard- 
on a small scale would be of the ment nor the attack had the precision 


The Great World War 

of the first days, and the French were 
able to retire in better order and more 
slowly; but by the end of the day 
their line was again jagged and dented 
in the middle, and the wings held on 
to their peril. Out in the plain of the 
Woevre the thinly held lines were 
being menaced by German guns. A 
contraction on a laroe scale of the 
French front had become necessary. 
Accordingly, in the night of the 
23rd-24th, preparations were made to 
relinquish the east -west line from 
Samogneux on the Meuse to Ornes 

for a new line, Champneuville on the 
Meuse past Louvemont in the centre 
to Bezonvaux, which is in a ravine 
just below the Meuse plateau. The 
outposts in the Woevre plain were 
drawn in close to the plateau. 

The day following, Thursday 24, 
was one of the early critical stages 
of the battle. The German pro- 
gramme had gone well, though it 
was a little behind the clock. They 
began to speed it up, helped therein 
by the French necessity. On the 
French retirement their waves of 

Crucial Points in the German Attacks on Verdun : general view— continued on the opposite page— of the village 
and Fort of Douaumont during the assaults of February and March, 1916 

Critical Hours at Verdun 


attack pressed hard, so that the garri- 
son of Ornes on the extreme rlo-ht had 
difficulty in avoiding capture. The 
other vvinor at Samosfneux held on 
more firmly, but it had to go after 
making" the Germans pay thousands 
of men for the hills between this line 
and the new one to be taken up. But 
Beaumont in the old centre was isolated 
and the woods on either side were 
taken ; and — a dangerous thrust — the 
Germans came close up to Louvemont, 
the new centre getting well astride of 
the road going north-east to Ornes. 

That was perilously close to the position 
which the French meant to occupy, 
but were not yet ready to occupy. But 
that night the retreating French 
soldiers made the first of those orreat 
rallies which enabled their orenerals to 


break the German plan. They had 
fought a desperate rear-guard action 
for four days; they now rose to a 
counter-resistance which held up the 
Germans while the French Hiofh 
Command consolidated their forces on 
the new and last position covering 
Verdun. Positions had been prepared 

Diawn l.y D. NUcpherson 

Crucial I'oiiUs in the German Attacks on Verdun : general view— continued from the opposite page — of Fort 
Douaumont during the assaults of February and March, 1916 


The Great World War 

on the Ridge of Talou, inside the loop 
which the Meuse makes here, and on 
the Poivre Ridge. The new Hne was 
to run from Vacherauville on the Meuse 
along this ridge of Poivre, then just 
south of Louvemont, past Haudremont 
and Douaumont, and through the wood 
of Hardaumont to the edge of the hills 
at the ravine of Vaux. On the morn- 
ing of Friday 25 the line held was a 
little in advance of this, thrown out in 
front of the two keys of the position, 
the Poivre Hill and the plateau of 

In falling snow the prompt German 
bombardment began, and the German 
divisions were loosed on the attenuated 
French front in the knowledge that 
this was the last position to be won. 
Eighteen German divisions were ready 
for the central assault on this 4g-mile 
front from the Poivre Ridge to the 
eastern spur of Hardaumont above 
the Vaux ravine. Poivre Ridge is 
the western spur of the wide Louve- 
mont plateau ; the eastern spur of 
the plateau is topped by Haudremont 
farm. East of that again is the plateau 
of Douaumont with several spurs cut 
by ravines all clothed in trees. It is 
not a clear geometrical position, but is 
broken up by all these wooded ravines, 
some of which lead north - east to 
Bezonvaux. The most westerly wooded 
spur of Douaumont is called the Wood 
of La Vauche; the most easterly is 
Hardaumont wood. Douaumont vil- 
lage, Douaumont Fort, and Douau- 
mont redoubt stand, or rather stood, 
on top of the plateau some 600 feet 
above the level plain. The village is 
to the west, the other positions from, 
a third to half a mile from it. 

The Germans came at the two ends, 
Poivre and Douaumont. The attack 
on the Poivre Ridge was a failure. 
The Germans had not been able to 
range their artillery so effectively on 
the new positions ; the French guns 
from either side of the Meuse had the 
range, and broke up attack after attack 
all day long. But the fiercer assault, 
and the main one, was that which was 
simultaneously made on the Douau- 
mont plateau. Taking what shelter 
there was from the woods, the Ger- 
mans pushed up from Fosses and 
Caurieres, up the spur of La V^auche, 
and from the glens of Bezonvaux. 
They came in masses and in waves, 
reaching the rim of the plateau in 
remnants, only to have the remnants 
slaughtered. All that day the German 
sacrifice was wholly in vain. The 
thin line had held the position and had 
held it till General Petain arrived. 
He was badly wanted, and he came in 
advance of his reserves and reinforce- 
ments. He was to witness the culmi- 
nating effort of the enemy on the 
Douaumont position, on the two miles 
of which their assault on Saturday 
became narrowed. The village was 
a ruin, the fort battered, but the 
position, if won, would lead the way 
to Verdun and scrap all the French 
defences on the eastern side of the 
river. It is said that the Kaiser was 
on the hills at Ornes to watch the 
success of the oreat hammer blow; it 
is known that orders had been given 
to take Douaumont at all costs, that 
German troops, many of them boys, 
were sent forward clrusfSfed with ether 
to the attack, and that Berlin was 
anticipating the inevitable success. 

The Ruins of Douaumont: a corner of the famous village— showing in tlie background the glacis of the 
fort— photographed between the two series of German assaults in February and March, 1916, during which it 
was four times captured and recaptured 


The Great World War 

The 3rd Army Corps, which was 
poured away in this attack, and the 
15th Army Corps undertook the task 
of storming the smooth 300 yards 
between the shelter of the woods and 
the crest. Time after time the attack 
was smashed, but about ten o'clock on 
Saturday morning the 24th Branden- 
buro- Reoiment, brave ficrhtino-men 
indeed, emerged from the fire and 
burst their way into the French trenches 
at the Fort of Douaumont — between 
the village and the redoubt. The line 
was pierced, and the news was flashed 
to Berlin and over Europe that 
"Douaumont, the eastern pillar of the 
Verdun defences, was solidly in Ger- 
man hands". 

The news and the ex^.tation were 
premature. The feat had been a 
splendid one, but it was unavailing. 
General Petain at once sent in the 
reserves which had followed him, 
General Balfervier's 20th Corps, the 
corps from Nancy which had held the 
Grand Couronne, sixteen months be- 
fore, in a counter-attack. General 
Balfervier's men only wanted such an 
opportunity. They flung the Ger- 
mans back once more to the rim of 
the plateau — all except the Branden- 
burgers, who held out in the ruins of 
the fort — and by this one blow made 
the whole of the German success of 
little value. The Brandenburg-ers had 
thrust in the thin point of the wedge, 
but the wedge could not be driven in, 
the opening could not be enlarged, 
and the point might itself be broken 

This great counter-attack, a remark- 
able piece of perfectly timed strategy, 
marked the end of the first phase of 

the attack. The first great effort of 
the Germans had failed in essentials, 
because the object which they sought 
had eluded them, and the price they 
had paid for the ground won had been 
wholly out of proportion to its value. 
It was now General Petain's task to 
consolidate his position so as to resist 
the further German attacks which, 
now that the outline of the German 
plan of campaign had been revealed, 
were certain to come. He had to 
reorganize communications, and in- 
deed to construct them; to re -make 
the trenches and put the defences into 
order to resist a more tremendous 
gun-fire than had ever been levelled 
at any positions; to bring up supports 
and provide for their regular rotation ; 
to establish artillery to cope with the 
unprecedented German concentration 
of guns. The first round had been 
ended by the French counter-stroke, 
but it was impossible that the German 
High Command should give up its 
plan without trying to wrest success 
for it, by the same means as at first 
or by other means. For some days 
the plan was pursued as if in the hope 
or expectation that by perseverance 
it would succeed, but probably also 
as a mask for a revision of tactics. 

The attack went on during Sunday, 
27th, and Monday, 28th, of February, 
but with more dispersion and less 
fury. The westerly attack on the 
Poivre Ridge came to a standstill 
largely because the French guns on 
the other side of the Meuse raked 
the German columns. The Germans 
could oret no farther, and the PVench 
counter-attacks at the Louvemont end 
could not thrust them back because of 

Germans Attack West of the Meuse 


the German guns, now advanced to 
the new Beaumont positions. Nor 
could the French eject the Branden- 
burgers from the fort at Douaumont 
or get them out of Hardaumont wood. 
Meanwhile the Germans began to 
project attacks farther south, seeking 
a weak spot in the French line on the 
Woevre at Fix, and at Manheulles, 
south of Fix, where the 3rd Bavarian 
Army Corps was sent into action. 
The exchanges here were approxi- 
mately equal. Hard struggles took 
place at Fix, Manheulles, and at 
Fresnes on the Verdun road, but it 
was quite obvious that no German 
attack from the plain of the Woevre 
could have much chance of success 
in a rainy March. The snow and the 
rain had turned the clayey soil into 
swamps and ponds ; the only way for 
heavy artillery was the metalled road 
or the railway, and a concentration 
of attack, such as had just stopped 
short of success on the Douaumont 
ridge, was an impossibility. If the 
Germans were to succeed, they must 
substitute a new plan. 

They were quick to do so. They 
had put their money, or rather their 
heaviest metal, on the attack east of 
the Meuse, and for the 12-inch and 
16-inch howitzers the emplacements 
had been built in the woods of Spin- 
court. But they had ample means of 
intercommunication behind their lines, 
and between the two banks of the 
Meuse, and heavy guns and the shells 
for them can be moved. So the new 
plan was to crack the French lines on 
the west side of the Meuse, drive them 
out of their artillery positions, and so 
remove the barrier which this artillery 

offered to the attack on Poivre Ridoe 
and the prosecution of the general 
attack on the east side. The blow, if 
successful, would also threaten the rail- 
way communications of Verdun. So, 
in the lull of a few days at the end of 
February and the beginning of March, 
German oruns and ammunition were 
transported from Spincourt on the 
east to Montfaucon on the west; and 
on Tuesday, March 2, a new bom- 
bardment began, on the French lines 
between the Arofonne forests and the 

From the wood of Cheppy on 
the west the French lines ran north- 
eastward through the woods of Avo- 
court, Malancourt, and Montfaucon, 
covering the villages of Avocourt and 
Malancourt, but falling two miles short 
of the hill of Montfaucon. Then they 
turned east, covering Bethincourt and 
the road which goes from Malancourt 
through Bethincourt and Regneville 
to the Meuse. Here they were just 
south of the Forges wood, and just 
north of the Foro^es brook and the 
succession of hills which the marshy 
waters of the brook lave. These hills, 
with their odd names, all mark staoes 
in the struoole on the east bank. The 
main ridge is called the Gooses Crest; 
and nearest to the Meuse it is clothed 
by the Crow's wood, with the parent 
Cumieres wood behind it. Farther 
away to the western end of the ridge 
are the two heigrhts of the Mort 
Homme. The veritable Dead Man's 
Hill, 295 metres high, is farthest west; 
the dominated height, Hill 265, is 
farther east. To the south-west of 
Dead Man, with a gap in between, is 
Hill 304. This row of hills formed 


The Great World War 

French Official Photograph 

Heroes of Verdun : parading the colours of a division which greatly distinguished itself in tiie defence 
The colours were paraded before General Gouraud, who lost one of his arms in the Gallipoli campaign. 

the first French artillery positions. Man. If the Goose's Crest position 

The key to them was Dead Man ; but as a whole could be carried, the 

just as Dead Man commanded the French must retire on their inner 

positions nearer the Meuse, so Hill position of the ridge of Charny; and, 

304 supported and commanded Dead though that would not imply the fall 

Vaux and Douaumont 


of Verdun, it would imply that the 
chief artillery position protecting 
Poivre Hill on the other bank from 
being- taken would have been removed. 
The German enterprise began with 
a bombardment on March 2, and 
this bombardment lasted four days, 
and consequently disclosed, without 
leavino- much room for doubt, the Ger- 
man intention. They masked it by 
the resumption of an attack on the 
Douaumont position, but this was 
undertaken quite as much with the 
idea of keeping the French busy here 
as with any other intention. A strong- 
assault was delivered on Douaumont 
village, into the ruins of which the 
attackers penetrated ; but as the village 
is below the crest, and the French held 
the higher slopes, there was no great 
harm in that. There were also tenta- 
tive advances from Haudremont wood, 
and a push towards Vaux. But all 
the time the villages west of Verdun, 
the French communications, and Ver- 
dun itself were being shelled by long- 
range fire, and the Germans were 
massino- in and behind Foro-es wood. 
On the morning of Monday, March 6, 
the 7th German Reserve Corps was 
sent forward. Clearly the French 
could not hold on here, for on the 
other bank the Germans were well to 
the south of them, behind them, and 
on their right flank, and so could en- 
filade them with fire. The French 
therefore fell back, selling the position 
as dearly as they could, and took up 
the prepared lines behind the Goose's 
Crest. Pushing forward, the Germans 
got as far as Regneville, in the loop of 
the Meuse, by nightfall, and were push- 
ing up the ridge. They had got a 

footing in that part of the Crow's 
wood which clothes the northern slopes 
of the ridge, and they had won the 
most easterly crest by the morning.^ 
Tuesday dawned with a repetition of 
results, on the western side of the 
Meuse, which had marked the attack 
of February 2 i on the eastern side — 
the French had relinquished all their 
first positions. But they had fallen 
back with little loss to the second. 
They were in better trim to hold 
their ground now and to counter- 
attack. On Tuesday they won back 
part of the Crow's wood, but farther 
west, towards Bethincourt, had to stand 
up to a heavy attack. This struggle 
went on for a week, till Tuesday, 
March 1 4. 

It was diversified by a well-concerted 
and determined attempt of the Ger- 
mans to take the village of Vaux on 
the eastern side, and so to outflank the 
Douaumont position. This attack 
began on March 9, at midnight, when 
a brigade of the 9th Reserve Division 
made their way up the Vaux ravine 
and oot into the ruined villaoe. The 
French drove them out with the 
bayonet. They returned, reinforced, 
and on a wider front, passing the vil- 
lage and getting up to the fort on the 
hill. They were driven back. They 
came again in a final burst (on Saturday 
the iith), but the momentum of the 
attack failed at the wire entanglements 
of the fort, and another costly example 
had been added to the Germans' in- 
decisive results. There were other co- 
ordinated attacks on Manheulles and 
Fix, which attained nothing better, 

1 This crest was also called 265, but it is quite distinct 
from the Hill 265 which is a spur of the Dead Man. 



The Great World War 

All this time the struggle between 
Bethincourt and the Meuse was con- 
tinuing, and on the morning of Tuesday 
the 14th came the great bid for the 
Dead Man. The French line ran 
sharply away south-east from Bethin- 
court over that outlier of the Dead 

against the French main position. 
The French held them everywhere 
except on the slopes of Hill 265, where 
the Silesians captured two positions 
below the crest and made it untenable. 
Berlin promptly announced that the 
Dead Man hacl been captured, which 

The German Attack on the French Positions west of the Meuse 

The most northerly line, marked with XXX's, shows the French and German trenches in contact on March 6, 1916. The line 
intersecting this, marked with OOO's, shows the French position taken up under pressure of the German attack on March 16. 
This line was afterwards straightened to the position indicated by the addition of the third line in the map running from Avo- 
court to Mort Homme, and remained thus to April 10. 

Man which is called Hill 265, and 
thence alone the Goose's Crest to the 
Meuse. It was at Hill 265 that the 
German attack, made with a division 
and two brigades, 25,000 bayonets, 
debouched from Crow's wood. One 
brigade advanced towards the Dead 
Man's highest ridge; another on the 
slopes of the 265 position ; the centre, 
a Silesian division, came on in waves 

was a lie. There was a day's interval, 
and on Thursday i6th a second Ger- 
man attack on the same lines as the 
first strove to make the lie good. It 
was riddled by the 75's on the flank 
and broken ; a French counter-attack 
drove what was left of it back to the 
shelter of the Crow's wood. The i6th 
was a bad day for the Germans; 
another night attack on Vaux was 

German Army of Verdun Reconstituted 


caught, first by the French search- 
lights and then by the French guns, 
and was left bleeding on the slopes in 
front of the fort. 

There ended for the time the second 
stage of the battle of Verdun. The 
original plan had been to break in the 
flattish curve of the French line on 
the east of the Meuse as a 16-inch 
shell smashes the cupola of a fort. 
When the smashing blow failed to get 
home, and the cupola began to re- 
semble rather a door which obstin- 
ately refuses to be pushed back because 
somebody is pushing on the other side, 
the plan was revised. An attempt 
was made to o-et behind the hinges of 
the door on the western side of the 
Meuse. This attempt first attacked 
the key position of the Dead Man. 
It now prepared to attack the key of 
Dead Man, Hill 304. Also, the great 
enterprise having been launched, new 
German divisions were brought up to 
support it. By the middle of March 
the reconstituted German army of 
Verdun was as follows: — 

West of the Meuse 
(8i divisions). 

East of the Meuse 
(12 divisions). 

'Xth Reserve Corps (2 divisions). 

Vlth Reserve Corps {2 divisions). 

192nd Brigade. 

nth Bavarian Division. 

2nd Landwehr Division. 
,XVIth Corps (2 divisions). 

''Vth Reserve Corps (2 divisions). 

Vllth Reserve Corps (2 divisions). 

I2ist, 58th, iiSth Divisions. 

XVIIIth Corps (refitting). 
^Illrd Corps (refitting). 

The Ilird Corps was that of the 
Brandenburger, and had spent half or 
more of its effectives in the first great 
attack on the Douaumont Plateau. 

'Bavarian Ersatz Division. 

In the Woevre Plain | XVth Corps (2 divisions). 
(4 divisions). j Konigsburg. 

I. ? Division. 

These twenty-four and a half divi- 

sions, with their attendant artillery, 
would give an approximate yield of 
half a million of men over a front of 
25 miles, or 20,000 men to the mile. 

The new bombardment beean on 
March 17, and went on till midday 
on the 20th, when the first attack 
towards Hill 304 was sped towards 
the Avocourt wood, which, should it 
be taken, would afford first-rate cover 
for massing an attack on the hill. A 
Bavarian division, headed by a pioneer 
corps of Flammenwerfers, who carried 
devices to squirt liquid fire, fought 
its way to the eastern part of the 
wood. Their efforts were seconded by 
Wurtembergers, and towards even- 
ing, in spite of the losses inflicted by 
the French guns, the German line was 
pushed to the clear edge of the wood. 
The next two days they spent in con- 
solidating the position and in building 
a redoubt in the wood, while the rest 
of the French front at Malancourt 
and Haucourt was hammered. The 
Germans made slow progress, but 
they got on. Then after one of the 
customary lulls of preparation the 
German artillery - fire intensified on 
Tuesday the 28th to the degree which 
heralded an assault on a large scale. 
The point attacked was weakly held 
by the French in men but strongly 
supported by the French guns. The 
Germans threw in their troops with 
their yet unbroken pertinacity, and 
Malancourt was slowly yielded to 
them. But the real danger was not 
here but in that Avocourt wood, 
whence the Germans could emerge 
with a much smaller breadth of danoer- 
zone to cross. Towards the wood, 
therefore. General P^tain loosed one 


The Great World War 

of his rare counter-attacks. It suc- 
ceeded. The Wiirtembergers were 
driven back from the edoe of the 
wood, their laboriously constructed 
redoubt fell into French hands, and it 
was held against counter-attacks. But, 
this having been accomplished, it was 
less necessary to hold Malancourt 
except to bargain for the necessary 
price. The French soldiers fought 
desperately amid the ruins. When 
its fate was sealed, Petain made no 
attempt to hold Haucourt behind it, 
but drew in his lines to a stronger 
position on the slopes of Hill 304, 
with the Foroes brook and a treeless 
olen between them and the next Ger- 
man attack. 

Again the German attack see-sawed 
to the other side of the Meuse, this 
time to renew the attack at Yaux. 
The movement began on March 31 
with two of the searching or tentative 
assaults which proceeded no farther 
when the French were found to be 
strongly posted and alert. These 
attacks were followed by others in- 
creasing in intensity and weight, and 
one of them obtaining a hold on Vaux 
village, till, on Sunday, April 2, a big- 
assault by a division was sent forward. 
It got up the steep roadway which 
leads between the Hardaumont and 
Caillette woods, and captured a good 
deal of the Caillette wood. It was a 
shrewd stroke. General Petain could 
not afford to let it remain unanswered. 
He counter-attacked at once, and by 
the next day the French had thrown 
the Germans out of Caillette wood 
again at all but one point, had retaken 
the ravine, and at night got back to 
\'aux villaoe once more. This was 

one of the most bitterly fought epi- 
sodes in the long battle of \^erdun. 
The Germans had paid heavily for 
Caillette wood. The French had to 
pay almost as heavily to win it back 

Almost immediately afterwards the 
fight began again on the western side. 
Malancourt had been ceded. Hau- 
court the F"rench defended only with 
artillery — a fact of which the Germans 
were not fully aware till they rushed 
the empty village — and Bethincourt 
evidently could not be much longer 
held without a greater sacrifice than 
it was worth. In the darkness of the 
night of April 7 its garrison was with- 
drawn, and the Germans entered it 
next day. The French line was now 
aligned from the redoubt in Avocourt 
wood along the north-western and 
northern slopes of Hill 304 to the 
Forges brook, thence south of Spur 
265 and behind the Goose's Crest to 
the Meuse at Cumieres. Its retire- 
ment to its new positions was made 
just in time to receive the shock of 
the heaviest attack which the Ger- 
mans had made since the struggle of 
their Third Army Corps for Douau- 
mont. On Friday, April 7, the 
French aviators reported a German 
concentration of not fewer than five 
divisions in the woods and behind the 
heights which run from Malancourt to 
Forges. They were massed for an 
attack which should test both Hill 304 
and the Dead Man. Two divisions 
were to open out from the western 
woods on Hill 304; two other divi- 
sions were to strike from Crow's wood 
at the Dead Man ; and each of these 
was to be supported by flanking 

End of the First Phase at Verdun 


attacks — the first on Avocourt, the 
second, the eastern flank attack, on 
Cumieres. To complete the picture, a 
feint attack was to be made at the 
Poivre Crest on the other bank. 

The attack began on Saturday 
morning. The effort from the Avo- 
court wood was a fiasco from the out- 
set. The French gruns blew it back 
before it reached the French trenches. 

Next day the fight went on with the 
same intentions, in the same direc- 
tions, and with much the same barren- 
ness of result, and by Tuesday 1 1 
it was clear that as a decisive assault 
the new German plan had failed. 
Ground had been won by them; they 
could saw their way very slowly into 
this or that side of the French de- 
fences, but they were powerless to 

French Official Pliotograph 

French Discipline under Shell-fire: infantry supporting the front line advancing in open order along an 

exposed roadway 

It was followed, according to pro- 
gramme, by the direct attack from the 
Crow's wood on the Dead Man. The 
first attack withered. The flank at- 
tack towards Cumieres had better luck 
at first, for it made its way from 
Regneville along the water meadows 
as far as the ruined houses of the 
village; but there it flickered out, and 
the survivors were destroyed. At the 
Dead Man the first futile attacks were 
followed by others, and at the close 
of the day a quarter of a mile of 
French front-line trenches was carried. 

bring about that collapse of them 
which alone could overwhelm the 
defenders in disaster. The great 
attack of the second week of April 
was not the end of the Battle of 
Verdun, but it was the end of any 
immediate stroke of strategy which 
was likely to alter the situation. The 
attacks were renewed. The French 
were to cede more ground under their 
pressure, and the ground lost was to 
be retroceded by counter-attack, but 
v.ith the four- day battle, from April 
8 to April 12, along the Avocourt- 


The Great World War 

Cumieres front, the first stage of the 
battle of Verdun came to an end. It 
was after it that General P^tain pub- 
lished his memorable order of the day, 
thanking the 2nd Army for its past 
services, and promising it the same 
success in the future as when, on that 

" glorious day", the German assaults 
were shattered by the French guns. 
"On les aura," said the General, and 
the phrase was caught up by his men, 
who added to it the words: "lis ne 
passeront pas." 

E. S. G. 



British Help during the Battle of Verdun — Taking over the French Line south of Loos — The Shat- 
tered City of Arras — Ninety Miles of British Front — The Battle of the Craters at St. Eloi — A Chaplain's 
V.C. — Canadians' Ordeal at St. Eloi — Sir Max Aitken's Narrative — Gallant Shropshires on the Ypres- 
Langemarck Road — The Guards in the Ypres Salient — Round Loos and Hulluch — The Irish Troops' 
Reply to the Sinn Fein Rebellion — German Attacks to keep British in Check during the Battle of Verdun 
— Scottish Heroes of the Spring Campaign — Lancashire Grit in the Souchez Sector — The Gallant Twelfth 
Division — Supermen among the V.C.'s — Empire Day on the Western Front in 1916 — Arrival of the 

A S soon as the German Crown 
/-\ Prince began thundering at 
-*- -^ the gates of Verdun Sir 
Douglas Haig stood ready and eager 
to co-operate at the first call for help 
from the French oeneralissimo, but 
the only assistance required by our 
indomitable Allies during the first half 
of 191 6 was the relief of the French 
troops on their defensive front from 
south of Loos to beyond Arras, the 
old capital of Artois, as far as Hebu- 
terne, where the line linked up with 
the British Army already on the 
Somme. "This relief", wrote Sir 
Douglas Haig in his first dispatch 
after succeeding Lord French at the 
front, "I was glad to be able to afford." 
It released for the defence of Verdun 
a large force of troops who were 

reckoned among the finest in the 
French Army — the men who had won 
the so-called " Labyrinth " and held 
the "accursed" heiohts of Notre Dame 
de Lorette and the Arras salient 
against repeated onslaughts of the 
enemy. The same sector included 
the battered villages of Souchez and 
Neuville St. Vaast, and the slopes of 
the Vimy ridge, which had witnessed 
some of the sternest fiohtino- in the 
September offensive of the Allies in 
191 5. It also brought under British 
protection the shattered city of Arras, 
its great Renaissance Cathedral still 
standing, though bearing irreparable 
marks of ruthless bombardment. Shells 
had wrecked the dome, and great 
pillars lay shattered on the floorway 
of the nave when the British came to 

In Vauban's Old Citadel 


release the heroic defenders for the 
more pressing perils at Verdun. 

" This old city of Artois ", wrote the Daily 
Chronicle correspondent on visiting the 
place at this period, " is the most tragic of 
all the ruins where British soldiers stand 
on guard in this war of desolation. Ypres 

earth. The bastions of Vauban's old cita- 
del are still high and strong. Arras may 
still be called a city, and some of its people 
are still living there, deep down in its vaults 
and cellars, from which they come up — 
these old womer. and young girls and white- 
faced children — to blink in the light of day, 
to listen intently to the great silence, and 

Arras at the Time of the British Occupation : the ruins of the Hotel de Ville 

is pitiful — a white horror of broken life. 
But it is no more now than a rubbish heap 
of fallen masonry. Arras is not like that, 
for many of its streets are standing, and in 
every part of it one may see how fine and 
beautiful this city was in the old days of 
peace. The old Spanish houses in the 
Grande Place are not all destroyed. Public 
gardens, and long avenues of trees, are 
green with the first leaves of spring and 
flowers are thrusting up from the moist 

then to scuttle down again when something 
comes rushing through the sky, across the 
roofs, to tear a great hole in the ground or 
to crash through another roof" 

The Germans had already forced 
their way into the suburbs of St. 
Laurent and Blangy, but they were 
there held as firmly as round the larger 
salient of Ypres. The whole sector 


The Great World War 

was sacred ground to the troops who 
now handed it over to the care of their 
British Allies, but they knew that 
every yard which had been won by so 
much sacrifice would be jealously 
guarded by our men. The relief on 
such a considerable front, everywhere 

View inside the shattered Renaissance Cathedral 
at Arras 

in close touch with the enemy, was a 
delicate operation, but it was attended 
with complete success, thanks, as Sir 
Douglas Haig bears witness, to the 
cordial co-operation and goodwill of 
all ranks concerned, as well as to the 
lack of enterprise shown by the enemy 
while it was in progress. French 
appreciation of British assistance in 
the hour of need was shown in General 

Joffre's reply to Sir Douglas Haig's 
telegram of congratulation on the re- 
sult of the first battle of Verdun. " The 
French Army ", replied the generalis- 
simo, " is confident that it will obtain 
results from which all the Allies will 
reap an advantage. It remembers also 
that its recent call on the comradeship 
of the British Army met with an im- 
mediate and complete response." 

With this additional sector, linking 
up our troops at Loos with the 3rd 
British Army which had secretly taken 
over the French lines from below Arras 
to the Somme as lono- a"0 as August 
1 91 5 — and kept out of the news as far 
as possible until the summer offensive 
of 191 6 — the British front, extending 
from just north of Ypres to Frise, now- 
covered a distance in one unbroken 
line of, roughly, 90 miles. Gradually, 
therefore, by various extensions, it had 
added 60 miles of frontage in the course 
of twelve months. All alono- these 
90 miles of British trenches no action 
was fought on a grand scale, such as 
that of Verdun, throughout the spring 
of 19 1 6, but there were countless minor 
affairs, a ijreat oatherino- of the clans 
from all parts of the empire, and a vast 
ao'olomeration of ouns and munitions 

00 o 

in preparation for the summer offensive 
in concert with the whole of the Allies 
on all the European fronts, a combined 
attack which the Germanic Powers 
attempted to forestall and frustrate by 
their sledge-hammer blows at Verdun 
and in the Trentino, and their feint 
attacks round Ypres, as well as by 
their desperate ventures in the North 
Sea and Ireland. That, however, is 
to anticipate. For the present we are 
only concerned with the spring cam- 

Cutting Away a German Salient 


paign on the British front, after the 
loss and recapture of The Bluff on the 
northern bank of the Ypres-Comines 
Canal, which brought to a satisfactory 
close the long winter campaign of 

Of the numerous local actions which 
followed — many of them worthy of a 
special dispatch in any campaign before 

some 600 yards. This salient, which 
included a mound that was a constant 
source of annoyance to us, together 
with the usual maze of trenches, en- 
tanglements, and fortifications, was first 
subjected to a series of six unusually 
larore mines. So heavv was the chargfe 
that the simultaneous explosion shook 
the ground fully six miles away. One 

French Official Photograph 

Preparing for an Allied Bombardment of the German Trenches: bringing a battery of heavy guns into position 

the Great World War, but now mere 
incidents dismissed at the time in a 
few brief lines — the next affair of 
outstanding importance was the battle 
for the craters at St. Eloi. This costly 
struggle began in brilliant fashion on 
March 27, 1916, when the Royal 
F'usiliers and Northumberland Fusi- 
liers — the famous Fighting Fifth — 
straightened out the line at St. Eloi 
by cutting away the small German 
salient which encroached on the semi- 
circle of our defences round Ypres to 
a depth of 100 yards over a front of 

captured officer declared that two com- 
panies of his battalion in the first line 
had been blown to pieces. Tons of 
earth were flung hundreds of yards 
hioh, and in fallino- so choked the 
German communication trenches that 
many of the defenders were cut off 
from retreat when the Fusiliers, 
scarcely allowing time for the wreck- 
age to settle, charged across to com- 
plete its work. Their attack was 
aimed at the German Second Line, 
and, on the right, was completely suc- 
cessful, the infantry swarming over 


The Great World War 

the remaining wire and parapets, and 
finding the dazed defenders in little 
mood for serious opposition. The left 
attack, however, was less fortunate, a 
gap being left in possession of the 
Germans, who contrived thereby to 
capture and hold one of the craters 
caused by the mines. "The following- 

prisoners, including lo officers. Our 
own losses, up to this point, were not 
serious. They would have been far 
heavier under the severe gruelling of 
the German gunnery but for the steel 
helmets, which had already proved 
their value along the whole length of 
the battle line. The appearance of 
the Fusiliers when 
they were relieved 
after earning the 
honours of the initial 
attack would have 
surprised their friends ; 
' ' perhaps even shocked 
them ", adds a Moni- 
i)ig Post correspon- 
dent at the front: — 

Official Photograph isbued by the Press Bureau 

Captured from the Craters of St. Eloi : a group of prisoners — one wearing the 
German steel helmet— after the battle of March 27, I9r6 

days ", writes Sir Douglas Haig, "were 
spent by both sides in heavy bom- 
bardment, intended on our part to 
capture the remaining trenches, and on 
the part of the Germans to drive us 
from the positions we had occupied." 
It was not until the very early morn- 
ing of April 3 that the outstanding 
crater was taken, this being followed 
by the capture of the last trenches held 
by the enemy in this obstinate salient. 
The whole of our objective had thus 
been secured, together with nearly 300 ours of the fray a few weeks later when 

" They had no appa- 
rent reason for cheerful- 
ness, but merry they 
were, though plainly 
tired out. They were 
disguised in mud from 
their boots to the crowns 
of their steel helmets. 
Their faces were swathed 
in ragged scarves, and 
the ironmongery on their 
heads was wrapped in 
canvas. They carried 
German helmets on their rifles, and shuffled 
along to absurd songs. They looked more 
like the veterans of Agincourt come to life 
again, and glad of it, than any likeness 
their homefolk could call to mind. And 
their eyes, though red-rimmed, were im- 
pudent and gay." 

Other regiments of the same Divi- 
sion fought in the later and fiercer 
phases of this struggle for the St. Eloi 
salient down to April 3, when the whole 
position was won ; and shared the hon- 

Heroes of the St. Eloi Craters 


a hollow square was drawn up behind 
the fighting hnes, and twenty -two 
officers and men who had specially 
distinguished themselves received the 
ribbons of their various decorations, 
pinned on their breasts by the General 
of the Division, The last to be deco- 
rated was the Rev. Edward Noel 
Mellish, that "very gallant gentle- 

enemy, in order to tend and rescue 
wounded men. Under continuous and 
heavy shell and machine-gun fire he 
brought in ten badly wounded men 
on the first day, seeming to bear a 
charmed life. On the second day the 
battalion to which he was attached 
was relieved, but he went back and 
brought in twelve more wounded men. 

Unicial Photograph issued by the I'rcss Bureau 

Happy Warriors: officers and men of tlie Northumberland Fusiliers — the "Fighting Fifth" — photographed 
with their trophies immediately after their successful advance on March 27, 1916 

man ", as the General called him, who 
had won the Victoria Cross by risking 
his life over and over again in the 
recent fiohtino- while rescuinp" the 
wounded from certain death. The 
London Gazette had already described 
how Mr. Mellish, who was a curate at 
St. Paul's, Deptford, before joining as 
temporary chaplain to the forces, went 
repeatedly backwards and forwards 
during the heavy fighting on three 
consecutive days between our original 
trenches and those captured from the 

On the night of the third day he took 
charge of a party of volunteers and 
once more returned to the trenches 
to rescue the remaining wounded. 
" This splendid work", adds the official 
record, " was quite voluntary on his 
part and outside the scope of his or- 
dinary duties." No wonder the General 
called for three cheers for Mr. Mellish 
after reading out this record of magni- 
ficent gallantry and pinning the ribbon 
of the Victoria Cross on his breast. 
Evidently he found this ordeal harder 


The Great World War 

to face than the German guns, for we 
are told that when left standing- alone 
in the middle of that enthusiastic 
square, while his comrades cheered 
themselves hoarse, he blushed till he 
almost matched the new bit of crimson 
he was wearing. Mr. Mellish was the 
first " Fighting Parson " to win the 
Cross in the Great War. Only one 
other instance of the kind had hitherto 
been recorded in the annals of the de- 
coration—that of the Rev. James W. 
Adams, who earned his Cross in the 
Afghan War of 1879.^ 

The hardest task in the St. Eloi 
Scdient, unfortunately, was still to come, 
for the waterlogged soil, the heavy, in- 
cessant shelling, and the destructive 
mine explosions made the work of con- 
solidating our new position extremely 
difficult. Pumps were brought up 
under fire and strenuous efforts at 
draining instituted, but the utmost that 
the Ih'igade now holding the captured 
line could effect by the morning of 
April 5 was a reduction of water in 
the trenches by 2 feet. The men in 
possession at this time were the Ca- 
nadians, who were on the immediate 
right of the Imperial Division when 
the salient was won, and whose artil- 
lery co-operated in the covering bom- 
bardment. Without sharing in the 
initial attack they had contributed in- 
directly to its success by their general 
activity and sending timely help to 
the advanced bombing posts on the 
eve of the final assault. When at 

' Another Victoria Cross was to be won in the Great 
War some six months after Mr. Mellish's name had been 
added to the Hst. The hero on this occasion was the 
Rev. W. R. F. Addison, who, like Mr. MeUish, showed 
an utter disregard of personal danger in assisting the 
wounded i nder fire. 

length the British troops were engaged 
in consolidating the ground w^on, their 
commander sent the Canadians a warm 
message of thanks for their most valu- 
able help. 

Now the Canadians were themselves 
holding the captured salient, having 
relieved the battle-worn British troops 

The Rev. Edward Noel Mellish, awarded the Victoria 
Cross for rescuing Wounded Men under Fire 

in the new line on the night of April 
2-3. As already mentioned, the new 
occupants worked with might and main 
to make the position secure. The ori- 
ginal German line was marked only 
by the series of mine craters, the 
struggle for the possession of which 
increased in bitterness and intensity 
under fierce bursts of concentrated fire 
from German artillery which ploughed 
practically every yard of the demolished 
salient. The whole area was one con- 

Canadians' Ordeal at St. Eloi 


fused mass of shells, thousands upon 
thousands of them, great and small. 

"The explosion of six liiitish mines", 
writes Sir Max Aitken.the official Canadian 
chronicler, " had not only affected the Ger- 
man front line trench, but had yet further 
stirred up and churned the heavy soil still 
sodden with the winter rains. Trees had 
been smashed by the hail of shells and up- 
rooted b}' their explosions. All signs of 
vegetation had disappeared. Of the former 
landscape there remained nothing but an 
ugly quagmire. Through this trackless 
morass of water-filled holes, mud and earth 
piles, in which at any step a man might 
sink over his waist, British troops had con- 
trived to dig a narrow and shallow trench 
to the south of the craters, and Canadian 
troops had succeeded in linking up the 
British right with the main line." 

Such trenches as existed were at 
least half full of water. Parapets were 
built up only to be demolished by the 
havoc of the shells. Day and night 
succeeded with very little improve- 
ment, and on April 5, when the 
enemy's bombardment increased in 
intensity, the new trenches practically 
ceased to exist. The climax was 
reached in the early hours of the 
following mornino- when some com- 
panies of the Canadian battalions who 
had successfully held the advanced 
positions with clogged courage for 
three clays and nights were being 
relieved. In the midst of this difficult 
operation the Germans, at 3 a.m., 
started a terrific bombardment which 
made all movement along the Cana- 
dians' front line an impossibility. 
Whole sections of the battered trench 
speedily disappeared. 

" Here and there", writes Sir Max Aitken, 

" a dug-out on which no shell had fallen 
sheltered a (ew men, or the very shell holes 
which had blotted out some yards of the 
trench afforded insecure cover to others, 
but there was no continuity, no communica- 
tion. Each group was isolated, thrown to- 
gether on its own resources." 

Meantime our own artillery had 
taken up the challenge, every avail- 
able Canadian gun being turned on 
the German positions, helped by the 
British artillery both on its right and 
left. But in the dark hours before 
this bombardment the enemy had con- 
trived to deploy a whole battalion of 
infantry opposite the Canadians' shat- 
tered line, and these troops, supported 
by another battalion, attacked at 3.30 
a.m. There was practically nothing 
to stop them over the demolished 
trench. " Machine-guns had been 
smashed or buried, rifles were clogged 
with mud. The few men who in 
this or that isolated group still re- 
mained unwounded w*ere hopelessly 
outnumbered." To the right and left 
of this gap in the Canadians' line, 
however, where the trenches and 
parapets had suffered less, a fierce 
resistance was offered. Sir Max 
Aitken describes how, despite the tre- 
mendous shelling and sweeping fire of 
hostile machine-guns, men climbed fear- 
lessly on to the parapets and parados, 
the better to fire at the advancing foe, 
who, expecting to find all the front- 
line trenches unoccupied, advanced in 
fairly close formation. " Machine- 
guns were lifted into the open and 
worked with desperate courage until 
they became clogged with mud splashed 
on to them by exploding shells, or else 
were smashed or buried." Rallied by 


The Great World War 

Captain G. T.Gwynne 
and Lieutenant N. E. 
O'Brian — one of the 
officers to win the 
Mihtary Cross in the 
cutting-out expedition 
which is described on 
page 1 40 — men of 
the Canadian bat- 
talions hurled back 
the attack on the right 
and held their lines 
intact. The grim na- 
ture of the fighting a 
little farther to the east 
may be judged from 
the same writer's story 
of the adventures of 
Lieutenant Browne, 
of the French Cana- 
dians, who decimated 
the Germans with his 
machine-gun at close 
range, and continued 
to fire until his gun 
action : 


Map showing the Scene of the Fighting at St. Eloi and the British Salient 
round Ypres in the Spring of 1916 

was put out of 

" With his detachment of six men Lieu- 
tenant Browne then withdrew in the direc- 
tion of our second line. On the way barbed 
wire was encountered. While crossing it 
the party was shot at by Germans who had 
interposed on the line of retreat. Four of 
the party were killed, but, having crossed 
the wire, Lieutenant Browne met a few 
more of our men who had been cut off 
from their trench, and with these reinforce- 
ments charged the point from which he 
had been fired at. Twelve Germans were 
found there, one of whom was an officer. 
All twelve were clubbed to death, the 
officer being attacked and killed by Private 
Simoneau. Lieutenant Browne eventu- 
ally reached our trenches with his party. 
Of his original detachment of six there 
remained but two. Amono^ the missing 

was Lance - corporal Lambert, who had 
already earned the D.C.M. and the Medaille 

Dawn on the 6th revealed a situa- 
tion that was both danoerous and 
uncertain. Two of the craters were 
known to have been lost; several of 
the others were isolated and their fate 
was uncertain. Bombing parties, 
quickly organized, found the nearest 
still held by a Canadian detachment. 
The second was unoccupied, save by 
the dead bodies of the brave defenders, 
every man of the garrison having been 
killed. Captain Gwynne was still 
holding the Canadian line on the 

though the enemy had taken 
possession of the craters in his rear. 


"A Perfect Hell" 


Bombed and shelled incessantly until 
all his remaining" rifles were out of 
commission and his men exhausted, 
he finally decided, about noon, to re- 
treat. "Word was sent through for 
the artillery to concentrate on the 
craters held by the enemy ", writes 
Sir Max Aitken, and under cover of 
this fire, and of machine-gun and rifle 
fire from the Canadian trenches on his 
right, "he succeeded in withdrawing 
his men from an exceedingly difficult 
position ". Major Daly, with three 
companies of a Canadian battalion, 
was still holding the line on the left, 
and on reinforcements arriving from 
another Canadian battalion he sent 
two platoons to occupy three of the 
craters shortly after dusk. Here 
the newcomers, under Captain Styles 
and Bidwell, entrenched themselves, 
and held on under a relentless torrent 
of German shells until the evening" of 
April 8, when they were relieved. 
Major Daly was relieved at the same 
time, having held the trenches on the 
left of the craters, in the face of repeated 
infantry assaults and heavy bombard- 
ments, for four days and nights, besides 
commanding the surrounding positions 
with a courage and resource that never 

It is difficult, as Sir Douolas Haiof 
observes in his dispatch, to follow in 
detail the fighting on the Canadian 
front during the next few weeks, the 
operations consisting of repeated at- 
tacks on both sides on mine craters 
still more or less isolated. The trenches 
running past this rent in the lines had 
been completely destroyed by shell 
fire. Four at least of the craters were 
still in the Canadians' hands on the 

night of April lo-ii, when the de- 
fenders repulsed a determined assault 
on all four positions, as well as on 
some of the Canadian front - line 
trenches to left and right. Amid so 
much confusion, and unavoidable diffi- 
culty in maintaining communication 
with the garrisons of these advanced 
posts in the craters, considerable mis- 
conception appears to have existed as 
to the real state of affairs. It was 
reported to Sir Douglas Haig on the 
nth, after the successful repulse of 
the last German onslaught, that we 
had recaptured all that remained of 
the position won by us on March 27 
and April 3. This, however, was 
subsequently found to be incorrect, 
some of the new craters, it is presumed, 
having been mistaken for the old 
ones. The new craters, remaining" 
exposed to the enemy's view and to 
the full weight of his artillery, proved 
at length untenable, and on May 16, 
when Sir Douglas Haig sent his first 
dispatch from General Headquarters, 
our troops were holding roughly the 
general line from which the Royal and 
Northumberland Fusiliers launched 
their successful attack on the salient 
on March 27. 

The story will never be told of all 
the countless deeds of magnificent 
courage in this bitter struggle. Whole 
garrisons fell in defence of those 
abandoned craters, and the record of 
their valour died with them. Those 
who survived can only describe their 
experience as "a perfect hell ". "You 
might be talking to a chum a few yards 
away from you ", wrote one of them, 
"when you would feel a hot flash and 
the chap you were talking to had 

The Shropshires' Desperate Venture 


crone. Whether he was blown to 
pieces or not, God knows. You could 
only wonder if your turn would come 
next." Back in the old lines the 
Canadians still fought with an obsti- 
nate heroism and a dour determination 
to settle accounts with the Boches, 
who, on their side, concentrated the 
full force of their fury on the Dominion 
troops in this sector of their front — 
perhaps because the first anniversary 
occurred before the end of April of 
the memorable day on which the 
Canadians saved the situation in the 
first orreat gras attack at Lancremarck, 
on the other side of the Ypres salient. 
This long- ordeal of the trenches was 
graphically described by Sir Max 
Aitken, who, by the way, received the 
honour of a baronetcy in the King's 
Birthday Honours List of the following 

" Day after day, night after night, on the 
Canadian front, guns thunder and boom, 
their menacing rumble now swelling in 
gradual crescendo to the roar of bombard- 
ment, now dwindling in volume to an inter- 
mittent growl. There is little rest or security- 
even in the rearward areas. Often tlie 
labour of weeks is undone in a single 
moment. Fortifications crumble, parapets 
collapse, buildings fall, and dug-outs cave 
in under the ruthless violence of explosi\e 
shells. Bursting shrapnel rains a vicious 
stream of bullets on trench, path, and field. 
Fixed rifle batteries and machine-guns 
sweep roads and approaches at uncertain 
intervals, and from points of vantage keen- 
eyed snipers watch patiently for the un- 
wary. Under these conditions men have 

^ Sir (William) Maxwell Aitken, the son of a Scottish 
minister at New Brunswick, was tiie Unionist member 
for Ashton-under-Lyne, as well as official Canadian Re- 
presentative at the Front. His valuable services in con- 
nection with the war were many and various. 

VOL. v. 

to live, hold the line, dig entrenchments, 
erect entanglements, carry up food and 
ammunition, and effect reliefs. For both 
sides it is appro.ximately the same, and 
even in a week devoid of outstanding 
feature the toll of active siege warfare is 

Just a year after the Canadians had 
proved their mettle in the Second 
Battle of Ypres, the King's Shropshire 
Light Infantry worthily celebrated the 
occasion by recapturing a position 
which had been taken from us on the 
night of April 19, 19 16. For the Ger- 
mans, still hammerino- in vain at the 
gates of Verdun, never ceased to keep 
the British busy round Ypres, constantly 
searching for a weak spot in the armour 
through which they might make a fatal 
thrust. Their capture of the trench on 
the Ypres- Langemarck road followed 
their fruitless efforts to push the Cana- 
dians farther back at St. Eloi, and was 
a shortlived triumph. Though the 
ground was a quagmire of mud, full 
of waterlogged craters and shell holes, 
so that men floundered in the dark up 
to their very armpits, the Shropshires 
struggled on in their desperate venture 
through a storm of rain on that Good 
Friday night of April 21-2 with an 
invincible valour which well earned 
for their regiment the rare mention of 
its name in the official daily report 
from British Headquarters. It took 
them two hoLU's to cross the 200 yards 
to the German lines. To prevent 
themselves from sinking in the quag- 
mire these gallant Shropshires lay 
almost flat on the mud, pushing them- 
selves along practically with hands 
and knees, or using their rifles as poles 

to support them in the slime. 

201 202 


The Great World War 

" A few " (wrote Mr. Philip Gibbs in the 
Daily TelegrapJt) " fell into shell craters 
and were drowned. Some were so caught 
and stuck by the mud that they could not 
get free nor move a yard. The assaulting 
companies, all struggling like this, lost touch 
with each other in the darkness, but pressed 
forward independently to their objectives. 
The men on the right, or as many as could 
keep together, rushed the enemy's trench 
at about half-past one in the morning, and 
took possession of a portion of it in spite 
of heavy rifle, grenade, and machine-gun 
fire from the enemy's support trenches. 
Bombing parties worked up farther and 
established posts, but could find no sign of 
the men who had been advancing with them 
on the left. At first it seemed as though 
the men here were alone in the enemy's 
lines, but later cheering was heard, which 
showed that the centre of the assault had 
reached the goal through the quagmire be- 
hind. These Shropsiiire lads in the centre 
had been through fire and water. As soon 
as they left their position they became ex- 
posed to a hail of rifle bullets, and their 
captain fell wounded. Several men dropped. 
Through the darkness came cries for help 
from men up to their waists in shell craters, 
hurt. But the others pressed on and jumped 
into the trench. A few Germans attempted 
resistance, and were bayoneted or shot, and 
others fled." 

Then came the hurried work of con- 
solidation before the inevitable counter- 
attack, and the settling of accounts 
over the few points still held by the 
enemy; but the work was well done 
in all respects, and when dawn came 
the counter-attack was hurled back 
without difficulty. The Shropshires 
had not only retaken the lost trench, 
but had also held it; and no finer feat 
was chronicled throughout the spring 
campaign of 191 6. It was marked by 
many individual acts of extraordinary 

bravery, not the least astonishing of 
which was that of the officer, struck 
by a piece of shell, who led his men 
to the assault with one of his arms 
hanging merely by a thread. The 
Colonel, unhappily, was killed, and 
all ranks suffered severely; but the 
British line, to quote from the brief 
record in the official report, was " com- 
pletely re-established ". 

Not far away was the Guards Divi- 
sion, which went into the Ypres salient 
in the spring of this year, after its turn 
in the trenches by Neuve Chapelle. 
The Guards came in for the usual 
strafing from the enemy's guns, but no 
serious infantry attack was attempted 
against their line at this period, save 
at Wieltje, between Ypres and St. 
Julien, where a raiding party, after a 
preliminary pounding with heavy guns 
on April 19, broke into a trench in front 
of the Scots Guards. They were not 
there long. Several resourceful officers 
soon had the matter well in hand, and 
helped to chase the raiders back to 
their lines. 

For the next noteworthy incident 
along the British front the scene shifts 
to the dreary field of Loos, where the 
endless battle was still raging round 
such vital points as the Hohenzollern 
Redoubt, the Quarries, and Hulluch. 
Here, in the hour of loyal Ireland's 
anguish, when Dublin was in the 
throes of the Sinn Fein rebellion, the 
Germans chose to make an attack on 
the 16th Irish Division, holding the 
British line between Hulluch and 
Vermelles. They had already insulted 
the Munsters and other Irish regi- 
ments by hoisting placards announcing 
the pitiful outbreak in Dublin as a 

Ireland at the Front 


national revolution, and calling on the 
troops to desert the British lines. A 
letter to Mr. John Redmond from his 
brother, Mr. William Redmond, while 
serving with one of the Irish regi- 
ments at the front, relates how the 
Irishmen responded: — 

" The Germans in the trenches opposite 
certain Irish regiments ", he writes, " put 
up the following notices: i. ' Irishmen! In 
Ireland revolution. English guns are firing 
on your wives and children. The English 
Military Bill has been refused. Sir Roger 
Casement is being persecuted. Throw away 
your arms. We give you a hearty wel- 
come.' 2. 'We are Saxons. If you don't 
fire, we won't' 3. 'Irishmen! Heavy up- 
roar in Ireland. English guns are firing 
on your wives and children.' The Irishmen 
replied by singing Irish airs and ' Rule, 
Britannia!' to the accompaniment of mouth- 
organs and melodeons." 

The Munsters at one point deter- 
mined to avenge the insult by captur- 
ing the placards, two officers with 
twenty -five men crawling out after 
dark towards the enemy's trenches for 
that purpose. All went well for a 
time. They cut their own wire, and 
crawled stealthily half-way across No 
Man's Land; but were then discovered 
by the German search-lights. Machine- 
guns were immediately trained in their 
direction. Some were hit. All lay 
perfectly still for hours. Then, gradu- 
ally, they resumed their perilous mis- 
sion; cut through the enemy's wire 
entanglements, and leapt in the dark 
amons: the astounded Germans, who 
promptly turned and fled. It was not 
long before the placards were in the 
Irishmen's hands and borne back in 
triumph to their trenches, bearing 

marks of the bullets to which they had 
already been subjected even before 
the raid was decided on. They were 
sent to London for safe custody, to 
form part in due course of the regi- 
ment's collection of war trophies. 

Perhaps it was in revenge for this 
uno-rateful conduct after all their be- 
nevolent planning and scheming on 
Ireland's behalf that the Germans 
chose the Irish lines for their gas 
attack at dawn on April 27 in the 
same neighbourhood. Unluckily for 
themselves they picked out battalions 
of the Royal Irish and Royal Innis- 
killine Fusiliers, regriments which had 
won undying honour not only on the 
fields of France and Flanders, but also 
in Gallipoli and the Balkans. With 
such inspiring records behind them, 
the two battalions of these famous 
reeiments in the i6th Irish Division 
(Second New Army) now winning 
their spurs side by side in the trenches 
near Hulluch, were not likely to fail. 
Nor did they. The poison gas came 
pouring thickly and suddenly into their 
trenches at daybreak, but the Irishmen 
were ready for it, as well as for the 
infantry assault, while the enemy's 
artillery cut them off by a "barrage", 
or curtain, of lachrymatory and other 
shells extendino- for a considerable 
distance over the support and reserve 
lines. The infantry attack did not 
mature until after an unaccountable 
delay of some two hours, and a further 
discharge of gas. On the right it 
crumpled up at once under the Irish- 
men's annihilating fire. Only a few 
survivors returned unwounded to their 
trenches. On the left, where the 
enemy's concentrated artillery fire had 

an Official Photograph 

While the Sinn Feiners were rebelHng in Ireland: Captain William Redmond, M.P., brother of Mr. John 
Redmond, leading Irish troops at the Front 

"Is it not an additional horror, said the Irish leader, Mr. John Redmond, "that on the very day when we hear that men of the 
Dublin Fusiliers have been killed by Irishmen in the streets of Dublin, we receive the news of how the men of the i6th Division — our 
own Irish Brigade, and of the same Dublin Fusiliers— had dashed forward and by their unconquerable bravery retaken the trenches 
that the Germans had won at HuUuch?" 


German Feint Attacks 


pounded the trench and parapets to 
pieces, he succeeded for a time in 
hurling himself through the gap, but 
only for a time. A counter-attack was 
immediately organized, and within 
half an hour the only live Germans 
in the British trenches were either 
wounded or prisoners. 

A similar attack in the same region 
was made two days later, and was 
equally unsuccessful. On this occa- 
sion, after formidable preliminaries, 
only a small assault was attempted, 
and was easily repulsed. " The more 
serious advance which appears to have 
been intended ", writes Sir Douglas 
Haig, " was probably rendered impos- 
sible by the fact that a part of the 
enemy's gas broke back over his own 
lines, to the visible confusion of his 
troops, who were massing for the 
attack." Their losses both from this 
cause and our artillery must have been 
considerable, judging from the number 
of ambulances seen coming up to 
Hulluch. Behind the enemy's line 
the ground was found to be coloured 
by gas on a front of about 1000 yards 
to a depth of some 3000 yards. 

On the same night the Germans 
carried out another gas attack, this 
time on a more considerable scale, 
north of the Messines-Wulverohem 
road. The poisonous fumes were liber- 
ateci about i a.m. on a front of 3500 
yards, under cover of heavy rifle and 
machine-gun fire. Immediately after- 
wards a heavy barrage of artillery fire 
was placed on three parts of this area, 
and no fewer than eight infantry as- 
saults were launched. 

"Of these attacks ", writes Sir Doui:,das 
Haig, "only two penetrated our trenches; 

one was immediately repelled, while the 
other was driven out by a counter-attack 
after about forty minutes' occupation. The 
enemy's object would appear to have been 
the destruction of mine shafts, as a charge 
of gun-cotton was found unexploded in a 
disused shaft, to which the enemy had 
penetrated. But if this was his object he 
was completely unsuccessful." 

Whatever his immediate aim, it is 
probable that the real motive of all 
this renewed activity on the British 
front was to prevent us from sending 
any further assistance to the French. 
His feint attacks earlier in the year 
had failed to stop us from liberating 
the fine French army from its battle- 
ground in Artois for service at Verdun, 
but the fate of Verdun was still hang- 
ing in the balance, and the German 
policy was to keep the British in check 
at all costs. Every day, therefore, saw 
angry duels between the rival guns, 
with heavy bombardments threatening 
infantry attacks at various points along 
the 90 miles of British front. Their 
onlv success in the assaults which 
matured during the first half of May 
was in the desolate region north-east 
of Vermelles, where another heavy 
attack was launched during the night 
of the iith-i2th by some Palatinate 
battalions over the mangled ground 
near the Hohenzollern Redoubt. 
Here our lines had been pounded 
to shapelessness by a preliminary 
bombardment of appalling intensity, 
and in the confusion and darkness of 
the German onslaught some 500 yards 
of our front trenches were lost. A 
counter-attack was immediately or- 
ganized by our bombers in the sup- 
port trenches, and a terrific fight 


The Great World War 

From an Orficial Plintoeraph 

Preparing lo Attack: Irish troops iu action on the Western Front 

ensued in which a portion of the 
oTound was reoained. 

Meantime our own troops were 
equally active in punishing the enemy 
at various points, particularly dis- 
tinguishing- themselves in daring- 
bombing exploits and night raids on 
the enemy's trenches. The Royal 
Welsh Fusiliers were mentioned for 
a highly successful expedition of this 
description just north of Thiepval 
Wood on the night of May 7-8, and 
the Royal Inniskillings for a similar 
affair near Fromelles, where the 
Germans, to their cost, were found 
crowded together in their trenches, 
and driven out with heavy losses 
before the Irishmen had completed 
their work. The fortunes of war 

presendy brought the local storm 
centre back to 'T^lug Street" on the 
night of May 13-15, when three 
parties of the enemy attacked our 
lines at separate points south-east of 
the Wood. They prepared the way 
with two heavy bombardments of artil- 
lery fire by guns of every calibre, and 
in the infantry attack which followed 
one party succeeded in entering our 
trenches. Immediately afterwards, 
however, it was ejected by our 
bombers, "leaving behind", adds the 
official cominuniqiie, " ten dead Ger- 
mans". The other parties, who, like 
the first, expected to find the trenches 
lifeless after the shatterino- bombard- 
ment to which they had been so freely 
subjected, met the surprise of their 

Scotland's Share in the Struggle 


lives on nearinof the British lines, for 
they were met by our Scottish troops 
on the parapet and dispersed in dis- 

Some day the full story will be told 
of the part played in Armageddon by 
each part of the British Isles — Eng- 
land, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales — - 
but in the midst of the war, with all 
its carefully guarded secrets, and its 
increasing- ramifications all over the 
world, it was impossible to identify 
the different units in most of these 
engagements. They were never 
singled out for mention at the time, 
save in very special circumstances. 
Only in the Honours Lists of the 
London Gazette, some months later, 
was recoonition griven to individual 
valour; and presently these lists 
omitted all dates and scenes of action, 
so that it became more difficult than 
ever to piece the scattered fragments 
of official news into a complete and 
authoritative picture of the operations 
in any sector of the British front. 
Press correspondents were gradually 
accorded more and more licence, and 
in the days of decisive engagements 
filled their papers with vivid pen pic- 
tures, red-hot as it were, from the 
battle-field; but all their pictures were 
necessarily drawn from hearsay, amid 
the turmoil of the army behind the 
fighting line, and, when re-read months 
later in the cold liaht of the full official 
dispatches, were only occasionally of 
real value for historical purposes. The 
records of many of the bravest deeds 
were buried in the supplementary 
pages of the Gazette, and save where 
the regiments, as already mentioned, 
were singled out for special mention in 

the daily reports from Head-quarters, 
the units engaged were rarely men- 
tioned. The Scottish troops again 
won this distinction on the nisfht of 
May 16-17, when two raiding parties 
of the Seaforth Highlanders, entering 
the enemy's trenches at Roclincourt, 
between Neuville St. Vaast and Arras, 
killed a number of the enemy who 
were on guard, and successfully bombed 
three dug-outs full of other Germans. 
The Seaforths' casualties, added Sir 
Douorlas Haio-, were slig^ht, and the 
whole of the raiding parties got back 
to our trenches. 

The Seaforths earned their share of 
the decorations awarded during this 
period. Among the most notable of 
them may be recorded the Military 
Crosses won by Lieutenant E. A. 
Mackintosh for his skill and gallan- 
try in oroanizinof and leading- a sue- 

-'00 o 

cessful raid on the enemy's trenches, 
when he brought back two wounded 
men under heavy fire; Second-Lieu- 
tenant Thomas Milne, who led a 
party of bombers with the coolest 
courage until he was wounded, and 
by his personal example did much to 
ensure the success attained; and 
Second- Lieutenant A. Gordon Cross, 
the story of whose brilliant adven- 
tures, baldly though it is told in the 
official records, stirs the imagination 
like a page of fiction: — 

" After the explosion of a series of enemy 
mines Second-Lieutenant Cross rushed for- 
ward, but fell into a crater, where he was 
attacked by five of the enemy. He was 
hit on the head, but managed to shoot two 
with his revolver. Finalh' his captors left 
him, to assist one of their own officers, and 
he got back. He then took part in a bomb- 
ing attack which drove the enemy off." 


The Great World War 

A fool, as Mr. Kipling would say, 
would have tried to describe that. 
Run through these Honours Lists and 
you will find all the famous Scottish 
regiments represented by similar acts 
of individual gallantry during these 
months of trench warfare before the 
great offensive of the coming July. 
Sometimes it is for a splendid piece of 
rescue work at the bottom of a mine 
shaft, as in the case of Lieutenant 
H. J. Humphreys, attached to a 
company of the Royal Engineers 
from the Black Watch; sometimes 
it is for fine and gallant work in 
the air, as in the case of Second- 
Lieutenant Lord Doune, of the 
Scottish Horse (T. F.) and Royal 
Flying Corps, who, with Second- 
Lieutenant Walker as gunner, dived 
towards one of the vaunted Fokkers 
flying some 1000 feet below, and after 
a thrillino- chase brouoht it down 
behind the British lines; but chiefly 
it is for the dogged everyday courage 
of the trenches, the bloody w^ork of 
raiding parties, the reckless daring of 
patrol duty, or the devoted bravery of 
rescue parties in No Mans Land. 
One other instance of Scottish pluck 
during this period may be mentioned 
as illustrating the work of the Machine 
Gun Corps. 

The hero on this occasion was 
Second-Lieutenant J. Reid M'Gregor, 
attached to a company of the M.G.C. 
from the Gordon Highlanders, who 
won the Military Cross for the in- 
trepid manner in which he beat off 
a German attack. The enemy had 
taken in their wire and made a gap 
preparatory to their advance. There- 
upon Second- Lieutenant M'Gregor 

trained his guns on the gap. One 
oun he mounted in a commandinof but 
exposed position, and during the heavy 
bombardment presently begun by the 
enemy he went to see how matters 
stood. He found all the team killed 
or wounded, but, nothing daunted, 
worked the gun single-handed under 
intense fire and kept the Germans 

What has been written of the Scot- 
tish regiments applies equally to the 
fighting ranks of England, Ireland, 
and Wales. All were wrinoino- a 

o o 

reluctant but unmistakable respect 
fi-om the Germans for the prowess of 
the new British army. It was during 
the month of May, 19 16, that the 
Lancashire men convinced the enemy 
of the fact that the readjustment of 
the Allies' line in Artois threatened 
danger to his vital positions on the 
Vimy heights, where Prince Rupert 
of Bavaria guarded the southern ap- 
proach to Lens. With every advan- 
tage of ground the enemy had steadily 
strengthened his hold since the French 
fought with the noblest heroism and 
self-sacrifice for the same commanding 
ridge in the September offensive of 
19 1 5. Their magnificent efforts, though 
near to beiner crowned with a brilliant 
success, left the Germans still in pos- 
session of the heights, and the British 
victory at Loos, threatening Lens 
from the north, consequently missed 
the oreat strategical result which had 
been hoped for from that combined ad- 
vance. Thenceforward the Germans 
had literally left no stone unturned in 
their ceaseless efforts to make the 
Allies' line untenable. For weeks 
before the Lancashires' opportunity 

In the Souchez Sector 


came the enemy had made Hfe un- 
bearable in the region of La FoHe 
farm, south-west of Givenchy-en- 
Gohelle, by his possession of two 

Map showing approximately the British hne in 
Artois in the Spring of 1916, after the rehef of the 
French army south of Loos by Sir Douglas Haig 
during the Battle of Verdun 

groups of mine craters, from the hps 
of which he could keep close watch 
on the British trenches and dominate 
them with his artillery fire. To the 

Lancashires fell the task of removing 
this nuisance. 

The way was prepared by a series 
of counter-mines laid from the British 
trenches some 50 to 100 yards below 
each group of craters, which were 
separated by a space of about 40 yards 
of open ground. Everything went 
like clockwork on the night of the as- 
sault. This, fortunately, had succeeded 
forty-eight hours of wet and cloudy 
weather, hindering the enemy's ob- 
servation. The prelude to the affair 
was the bombardment of the German 
trenches by the British "heavies", 
which sent the Germans scuttling into 
their deep dug-outs. Then, at 8.30 
p.m., just as the guns lifted, came the 
crashing explosion of the mines under 
the group of craters facing the British 
left, three in number, followed by a 
volcanic upheaval in which earth and 
smoke and fragments of men were 
flung in one horrible mound high into 
the air. Scarcely had the debris setded 
when the Loyal North Lancashires, 
holding the British line facing this 
position, sprang from their trench and 
were taking possession of the new- 
craters which had rendered the old 
ones useless. On their extreme left 
one of the German craters — the one 
nearest to the British line — had not 
been blown up, but was carried by 
assault without much opposition from 
men who had been momentarily ex- 
pecting to share the fate of their 
hoisted comrades. This fate over- 
took the Germans holding the right- 
hand group precisely ten seconds after 
the flrst explosion, and was immedi- 
ately followed by a resolute assault by 
the Lancashire Fusiliers, who, sweep- 


The Great World War 

ing across the intervening space of 
open ground before the German rein- 
forcements of men and bombs could 
o-et there, seized the lips of the new 
craters and kept the enemy back. 
Beautifully organized, and led with 

French Poilu in the Steel Helmet worn by the French 

The German steel helmet is shown on p. 250, and the British 
on pp. 251 and 267. 

consummate coolness and courage, 
these Lancashire battalions soon had 
the edge of the craters joined up and 
the whole position consolidated, not- 
withstanding the furious rille fire and 
shower of bombs poured into the cap- 
tured ground. Our losses had not 
been light, and were heavier still in 
the sterner task of holding: our oains 

in the face of the mass of German 
artillery now concentrated on the spot; 
but the enemy's casualties were far 
greater. The most trying ordeal to 
the Lancashires in the captured craters 
was the agonizing cry of the Germans 
who had been buried in the dug-outs 
to which they had fled, in accordance 
with their usual practice, when the 
British bombardment began. Their 
frantic shouts from the lower darkness 
rose above the tumult, but it was im- 
possible to dig them out while the 
Germans were doing their best to 
pound the place to pieces. Some of 
our bombers, ceasing fire, shouted to 
the enemy within hearing distance 
offering an informal truce to enable 
him to rescue his wounded; but the 
only response was another storm of 
bombs, and a more desperate struggle 
than ever. Possibly, of course, the 
proposal was misunderstood. 

Next morninof found the Lanca- 
shires firmly installed in their new 
position, their total gain extending in 
length over some 350 yards. Not only 
had the several craters been linked up, 
but the intervening gap between the 
two groups had been trenched, com- 
munication trenches had been duo- 
from the old line, bombing posts had 
been established, and machine-guns 
were ready to defend all the strategic 
points. Lancashire had further reason 
to be proud of her sons for that night's 
work. Though the fighting men had, 
as usual, been simply splendid, the 
working parties who had followed up 
their assault were not less heroic. 

" They did amazing things," wrote Mr. 
PhiHp Gibbs in the Daily Telegraph, " toil- 
ing' in the darkness under abominable shell- 

Ebb and Flow on the Vimy Ridge 


fire, and their labour was life-saving. By 
daylight they had built communication 
trenches with ample head cover from the 
crater lips to our front-line trenches, so that 
the chiefs and supplies can go up to shelter. 
It was a superb achievement, and as fine 
as anything in this war. It is a song of 
the spade which should be put into a ballad 
to be learnt by heart." 

Alas! it was not destined long to 
remain a song of triumph. The enemy, 
fully alive to the danger of this new- 
development, brought up an immense 
accumulation of artillery, and, concen- 
trating an appalling fire on the position, 
proceeded systematically to smash it 
to bits. Trench mortars, machine- 
guns, rifle grenades, and the like joined 
in with the " heavies ", and were replied 
to in kind; and presently it became all 
too clear that the gain had been too 
isolated to stand the strain of such an 
intense and incessant bombardment. 
The Lancashire men in possession held 
on grimly, but were unable, two days 
later, to prevent the Germans from 
recovering one of the captured craters, 
when their infantry advanced in crush- 
ing numbers under a dense curtain of 
fire, and after a prolonged period of 
heavy artillery lire. The gallant re- 
capture of this crater in another two 
days by the Loyal North Lancashires 
drove the Germans to desperation. 
They determined to win back their old 
advantage of position at all costs. A 
more formidable assault than ever was 
therefore delivered by them on Sunday, 
May 2 T , after what was described at the 
time as the most highl\' concentrated 
artillery attack in the Souchez area 
since the September Offensive of 191 5. 
The bombardment, which lasted from 

the early hours of the morning, grew to 
extreme intensity in the afternoon, by 
which time it was estimated that the 
enemy had massed on this small front 
no fewer than 100 batteries. For 
four solid hours his guns rained shells 
without ceasing. No trenches, as we 
had repeatedly proved in similarattacks 
on our own side, could remain tenable 

One of the British Steel Hehiiels 

under such a destructive storm of 
heavy fire; and so it was in the present 
case. When the terrific bomljardment 
ceased, much of our front trenches in 
this battered sector had been quite 
obliterated, and the German infantry, 
advancing immediately afterwards 
through our barrage of fire and clouds 
of smoke, were able to penetrate our 
line on a front of about 1500 yards. 
Sir Douglas Haig reported that the 
depth of penetration varied from roo 
to 300 yards. Our own artillery re- 
taliated by subjecting the lost posi- 


The Great World War 

tions to heavy punishment, and, since 
our guns had the range to a nicety, 
and our bombers were full of fight, 
the enemy paid dearly for a success 
which he made no attempt to ex- 
pand. It had to be confessed, how- 
ever, that he had robbed us of a 
promising foothold and regained his 
advantage of position on the crest of 
the Vimy ridge. It was disappoint- 
inof, but ebb and flow had ever been 
the course of the struoole since the 
French first tried to oust the enemy 
from the same fearsome heights. 

Some of the proudest honours fell 
to Lancashire men during the early 
months of 1916. Before the battle 
of the craters just described, one of 
the Loyal North Lancashires, Private 
Henry Kenny, earned the Victoria 
Cross for heroic rescue work between 
the lines, ooingf out not once but on 
six different occasions in a single day 
under heavy shell, rifle, and machine- 
gun fire. Each time he succeeded in 
carrying to a place of safety a wounded 
man who had been lying in the open. 
Private Kenny was himself wounded 
in the neck while handing the last 
man over the parapet. In the later 
struggles for one of the craters cap- 
tured by the Loyal North Lancashires 
another Victoria Cross was won by 
Lieutenant Richard B. B. Jones, an 
old Dulwich College boy, who had 
left school for the army in September 
19 14. He was holding the crater 
with his platoon of Loyal North Lan- 
cashires when it was isolated by a 
heavy barrage of fire on our trenches, 
and the enemy, after exploding a mine 
forty yards to the right, attacked it in 
overwhelminof numbers. 

" Lieutenant Jone.s kept his men together, 
steadying them by his fine example, and 
shot no less than fifteen of the enemy as 
they advanced, counting them aloud as he 
did so to cheer his men. When his ammu- 
nition was expended he took a bomb, but 
was shot through the head while getting up 
to throw it. His splendid courage had so 
encouraged his men that when they had no 

Lieutenant Richard Basil B. Jones, one of the Victoria 
Cross heroes of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment 

more ammunition or bombs they threw 
stones and ammunition boxes at the enemy 
till only nine of the platoon were left. 
Finally they were compelled to retire." 

In an earlier crater fight, in which 
the Royal Lancashires were con- 
cerned, the Victoria Cross was won 
by Private Harry Christian, who was 
holding the crater with five or six men 
in front of our trenches. 

The Gallant Twelfth Division 


" I'he enemy", again to quote from the 
London Gazette, " commenced a very heavy 
bombardment of the position with heavy 
' minenwerfer ' bombs, forcing a temporary 
withdrawal. When he found that three 
men were missing, Private Christian at once 
returned alone to the crater, and, although 
bombs were continually bursting actually 
on the edge of the crater, he found, dug out, 
and carried one by one into safety all three 
men, thereby undoubtedly saving their 
lives. Later, he placed himself where he 
could see the bombs coming, and directed 
his comrades when and where to seek cover." 

In the same month was awarded 
another Victoria Cross for an exhibi- 
tion of almost superhuman endurance 
by one of the East Kents — the famous 
fiorhtino^ Buffs, who claim to be the 
oldest regiment in the army, and lived 
up to their finest traditions in the 
Great World War. Their hero on 
this occasion was Corporal William 
R. Cotter, of a battalion which formed 
part of that gallant 12th Division 
which fought so splendidly on the foul 
battle-field of Hulluch and the Hohen- 
zollern, but was so little heard of in 
the official dispatches. The Twelfth 
formed part of the First Hundred 
Thousand — the Eastern Division ; 
young stalwarts of the Home Coun- 
ties, Kent and Surrey, Sussex and 
Wessex, Middlesex and Essex, Nor- 
folk and Suffolk, and the shires of 
Bedford, Gloucester, and Somerset. 
They had proved their mettle at "Plug- 
Street" before being thrown into the 
furnace at Loos, where they lost their 
commander. General Wing, and his 
A. D.C., besides many other of their 
bravest and best, in the hideous 
maze of earthworks and craters which 
stretched from La Bassee Canal to 

Loos. For the most part their glori- 
ous deeds passed unrecorded, but time 
will prove how nobly they bore more 
than their share of the never-ending 
battle which throughout the autumn 
and winter of 191 5-6 turned this deso- 
late region into one vast, appalling 

It was in the month of Varch, 
on the night of Monday, the 6th, 
that Corporal Cotter, of the Buffs, 
showed to what supreme heights the 
valour and fortitude of this heroic 
fighting stock could attain. In the 
attack on an enemy trench on the 
night in question. Cotter's bombing 
party was cut off, and so hard pressed 
in a crater that he went back to report, 
and obtain more bombs. He was re- 
turning when his right leg was blown 
off at the knee, and he was also 
wounded in both arms, but, nothing 
dismayed, he somehow made his way 
back to the crater, steadied the men 
who were holding it, and altered the 
dispositions of the defenders to meet 
a fresh counter-attack of the enemy. 

" For two hours ", adds the Gazette, " lie 
held his position, and only allowed his 
wounds to be dressed when the attack had 
quieted down. He could not be moved 
back for fourteen hours, and during all this 
time had a cheery word for all who pas.sed 
him. There is no doubt that his magnifi- 
cent courage helped greatly to save a critical 

Alas! he was too terribly wounded 
to reap the reward of his heroism, 
dying on March 14 in hospital in 
France, a fortnight before his name 
appeared in the next list of V.C.'s. 
In the same list was recorded a simi- 
lar act of almost superhuman valour 


The Great World War 

and endurance, per- 
formed by Captain 
Arthur F. Gordon 
Kilby, of the South 
Staffords, who, selected 
at his own request, 
on account of the gal- 
lantry which he had 
displayed on many 
previous occasions, led 
an attack with his 
company on a strong 
enemy redoubt. 

" The compan\' charged 
along the narrow tow- 
path, headed by Captain 
Kilby, who, though 
wounded at the outset, 
continued to lead his men 
right up to the enemy 
wire under a devastating 
machine-gun fire and a 
shower of bombs. Here 
he was shot down, but, 

although his foot had "Kamerads!"-. 

been blown off, he con- 
tinued to cheer on his 
men and to use a rifle. Captain Kilb}' has 
been missing since the date of the perfor- 
mance of this great act of valour, and his 
death has now to be presumed." 

French Official Photograph 

German prisoners employed to clean one of their captors' 
"75" guns 

of their comrades were buried. The 
enemy at once launched its infantry 
to seize the crater formed by the ex- 
plosion, but the lieutenant, though 
much shaken, had immediately organ- 
There were two other V.C.'s in this ized a party with a machine-gun to 
list of heroes, and their deeds were man the near edge, and was ready for 
equally typical of the fighting spirit the assault. Opening rapid fire on the 
of our New Armies in the unparalleled enemy, who was advancing in force, 
horrors of modern warfare. The first he first checked and then drove the 
was awarded to Lieutenant Eric- A. Germans back, leaving many dead be- 
M'Nair, of the Royal Sussex, who was hind them. Lieutenant M'Nair then 
holding part of the front line when the ran back for reinforcements — for the 
enemy exploded a mine right under danger was by no means over— and 
him. Lieutenant M'Nair and many sent to another unit for bombs, am- 
men of two platoons were hurled with munition, and tools to replace those 
the wreckage into the air. Not a few buried. The communication trenches 

Empire Day at the Front 


were blocked by the wreckage, but, 
taking his Hfe in his hands, he went 
across the open under heavy fire and 
led back the reinforcements in the same 
fearless way. " His prompt and plucky 
action and example ", adds the Gazette, 
"undoubtedly saved the situation." 
The other Victoria Cross was won 
by Sergeant A. F. Saunders, of the 
Suffolks, in a costly attack on the 
enemy's trenches. 

"When his officer", to' quote from the 
official record, " had been wounded in the 
attack he took charge of two machine-guns 
and a {^\v men, and, although severely 
wounded in the thigh, closely followed the 
last four charges of another battalion, and 
rendered every possible support. Later, 
when the remains of the battalion which he 
had been supporting had been forced to 
retire, he stuck to one of his guns, continued 
to give clear orders, and b)' continuous 

The late Captain .'\rthur F. Gordon Kilby, South 
Staftbidshire Regiment, who won the Victoria Cross 
after his foot had been blown off (see p. 270) 

firing did his best to cover the retire- 

To all these new and war-worn 
armies from the British Isles, with 
their gallant Canadian comrades and 
the Indian cavalry, came, in the spring 
of 1916, the fighting men from the 
rest of the British Empire: the Anzacs 
who had already won immortal glory 
on the heights of Gallipoli; South 
Africans who, having beaten the Ger- 
mans in South-West Africa, were eao;er 
to fight them on European soil; New- 
foundlanders who had won their spurs 
in the closing acts of the Gallipoli 
drama; Ceylon planters; men from the 
Straits Settlements; and others who 
had travelled many thousands of miles 
for the privilege of fighting for free- 
dom and the Empire in the decisive 
theatre of war. Thus Empire Day 
of 1916 found representatives of every 
part of His Majesty's Dominions fight- 
ing side by side on the battle fields 
of France and Flanders, "bound to- 
oether ", as Sir DouHas Haitr said in 
a stirring message to the different parts 
of the Empire, "not only by ties of 
blood, but by similarity of ideals and 
loyalty to one Crown and one Flag 
. . . united heart and soul in this efeat 
fight for freedom and justice — the old 
watchwords of our race ". To the 
Kino- Sir DouMas Haisf also sent the 
followino; telecrram : — 

" On Empire Day, on behalf of your 
Majesty's armies now in France, represen- 
tative of every part of your Majesty's 
Dominions, I respectfully submit the assu- 
rance of our lu\al devotion to your Majest\' 
and to the principles of freedoi.i and justice 
which are symbolized for us by the ''".mwu 
and flag of the British Emp;:c. 


The Great World War 

His Majesty replied as follows: — 

" I warmly appreciate the assurances of 
loyal devotion which you send me to-day 
in the name of the armies of the British 
Empire serving under }'Our command. 
Tell them with what pride and interest I 
follow their fortunes and of m\' confidence 
that success will crown their efforts. Ma\' 

had seen service in Gallipoli, the 
strength of the various units havino" 
afterwards been made up by rein- 
forcements from Australasia, whose 
training had been completed in 
Egypt. Hianks to the Navy they 
had been safely transported from 
Egypt, their only casualties being 




General Joft'ie and our Men from the Souihern Cross: Australasian troops — shown on the opposite page- 
marching past ihe French Generalissimo after their arrival on the Western Front 

the comradeship of the battle-field knit still 
closer together the peoples of the Dominions 
and Mother Country in the age of peace 
which, please God, will be the fruit of this 
long and arduous war. 

"George, R.I." 

The new Dominion troops had then 
been lonor enouoh in France to make 
their presence felt on the fighting front, 
though the time had not yet arrived 
for a great offensive. Nearly half of 
the New Zealanders and Australians 

due to the overturning of a motor 
omnibus by the Suez Canal, where one 
man was drowned. Bases were estab- 
lished both at Marseilles and Havre, 
though the principal base was in the 
Mother Country. There was no de- 
monstration for the Anzacs when they 
first arrived at Marseilles, for the 
troops, kept on board during the day- 
light hours, were landed at night, and 
only those inhabitants who were woken 
up by the strains of the band as the 

An Imperial Review in France 


men marched through the deserted 
streets knew that fresh troops were on 
the road. 1 hey threw the new-comers 
a passing- cheer without reah'zing who 
they were. But later, when they 
knew, and when all the British troops 
at Marseilles assembled for a grand 
review, the Empire troops were ac- 

Prench armies "for the valiant troops 
of the Dominions, India, and the 
Colonies, whom they admire for their 
fine conduct and brilliant feats of arms 
on all the battle-fields on which they 
have fought". When, after the tedious 
period of waiting necessary for the 
ororanization of lines of communica- 

Fioin (iaiiipuli to ill' 

Freiuli Iiohi: Au^^ils iii.uiiiiiig past General Joffre, who appears in the left-liand 
portion of the photograph shown on the opposite page 

corded a tremendous and joyous wel- 
come by the enthusiastic population. 
Four squadrons of Indian Lancers led 
the march past, followed by Anzacs, 
South Africans, and detachments of 
Scottish troops. General Joffre after- 
wards saw some of the Anzacs at the 
front, and it was no mere figure of 
speech that he afterwards employed 
on Empire Day when he telegraphed 
the sentiments of high esteem and 
cordial comradeship entertained by the 

tion and bases, and the final training 
of recruits in trench warfare behind 
the lines, the Australian and New 
Zealand troops finally took over a 
portion of the front, they stepped into 
their allotted places alongside the 
divisions from the Motherland with 
the coolness and efficiency of seasoned 
warriors, who, having passed through 
the great adventure of Gallipoli, knew 
how to play the great game as well as 
anyone. They found the bombard- 

203-204 \>j£ £./- 



The Great World War 

ments and all the contrivances of 
modern warfare that the Germans had 
developed with such foul ingenuity 
worse than anything of the kind that 
they had to endure from the Turks; 
and the physical drawbacks in the 
trenches were harder to bear than the 
scorching sun and dreary isolation of 
Egypt; but of the three evils most of 

warfare that the Boche has invented. But 
gas attacks do not profit the enemy much 
in these days. The most recent helmets 
invented by the British seem to give an 
ahnost perfect immunity from gas attacks." 

Here in France, too, the Anzacs 
were at least in the main theatre; not 
in a side-show. And the spring rains, 
which flooded their trenches and 

A French Welcome for the Australasians: decorated Dominion troops at Marseilles 

them apparently considered the West- 
ern front the least. They tasted poison 
gas for the first time, for the Turks 
had left this noxious weapon to their 
more cultured masters; but the Aus- 
tralians and New Zealanders had 
come well prepared. 

"Our men", wrote Mr. Malcolm Ross, 
the official war correspondent with the New 
Zealand Force, " had already been supplied 
with gas helmets, and there were double 
flaps to the dug-out doors, to help to defeat 
one of the most devilish phases of modern 

chilled them to the marrow — coming 
as they had done straight from the 
blazing sands of Egypt — were not so 
hateful as the parching thirst of Gal- 
lipoli. " It's a thousand times better 
to have too much water", as one oi 
them said, "than too little." Always, 
too, there was the joy of a real rest 
to look forward to in the billeting 
areas behind the lines. In Gallipoli 
the fiorhtino^ front, save in the critical 
moments of attack, was often the 
safest part of the Anzacs' restricted 

Egypt's Strategical Importance 


theatre. No patch of ground was 
really safe at all. Here in France, 
however, was a background of green 
woodlands and friendly villages, 
where the Anzacs made themselves 
thoroughly at home; where life was 
something of a picnic again; and the 
horrible war could for a time at least 
be shut out of sight. Best of all, 

there were the golden hours of 
"Home" on leave. "Home", that 
was so ready to welcome them with 
open arms, and that so many of them 
now saw for the first time in their 
lives. Yes, they preferred the French 
front, with all its foul German horrors, 
to the evils of Gallipoli or the everlast- 
ing deadliness of the Egyptian desert. 

F. A. M. 



(February, 1915-May, 19 16) 

Egypt's Strategical Importance — Suez Canal Defences — Some Minor Operations — Turkish Mine- 
layers — Sinking of the Teresias — Egypt and the War — Treachery of the Senussi — Historj^ of their Sect — 
Won over by the Germans — The Tara Prisoners — Opening of the Western Frontier Campaign — General 
Wallace's Operations — Indecisive Victories — Sikhs and New Zealanders distinguish Themselves — Major- 
General Peyton assumes Command — South Africans in Action — Heroic Charge of the Dorset Yeomanry 
at Agagia — Reoccupation of Solium — Dashing Feat of the Duke of Westminster's Armoured Cars — How 
the Tara and Moorine Survivors were rescued — Far-reaching Effects of British Triumph on the Western 
Frontier — The Darfur Campaign — A Truculent Sultan and his Lesson — Tribute to Sir Reginald Wingate 
— Prince of Wales's Visit to the Soudan — His Reception in Egypt by the Anzacs. 

IT was hardly expected that the 
Turks would tamely accept their 
humiliating defeat on the Suez 
Canal in February, 191 5, and leave 
Egypt to her fate. Even if the Turks 
were willing to submit, their German 
taskmasters would insist on another 
attempt to threaten Britain's proud 
position there, and thus menace her 
short sea-route and main line of com- 
munications to the East. Since it was 
unlikely that the Kaiser's fleet could 
wrest the sovereignty of the sea from 
our island race, this remained for Ger- 
many the only way to conquer the 
ocean by land. The odds must always 
be against a successful invasion of 

Egypt across the shifting sands of the 
Sinai Peninsula, but Egypt was not 
the immediate objective so much as 
the Suez Canal ; and for such a shrewd 
strategic blow, ever present in Ger- 
man calculations, great risks were 
worth running. We shall probably 
never know the true story of the 
relations between the Germans and 
the Young Turks at this critical 
period, but it is possible that Enver 
Pasha, with his vain dreams of ruling 
as Sultan of Egypt, and Djemal 
Pasha, with his fanatical zeal regard- 
ing the reconquest of both Egypt and 
Tripoli, were ready to run graver 
risks even than the Germans, espe- 


The Great World War 

cially after the evacuation of Gallipoli 
and the fall of Kut. 

Before either of these tragedies 
had been enacted, both Germans and 
Turks were profiting by the lessons 
of their first fiasco on the Suez Canal. ^ 
Under the oroanizinor oenius of the 
German engineer, Meissner Pasha, 
new strategic lines and pipes of water 
were laid to reduce as far as possible 
the difficulties of the desert journey; 
Djemal's so-called "Egyptian Army" 
was stiffened by further reinforce- 
ments of Germans; and every effort 
was made to spread the Holy War 
in all the surrounding regions. 

For the rest of 191 5, however, the 
most that could be done with Djemal's 
army itself — or the army of Baron 
von Kressenstein, who was supposed 
to be in virtual command of Djemal's 
force — was so to maintain the threat 
against Egypt as to compel us to 
keep a large army there which might 
have been more profitably used in 
other theatres of war. Though no 
further advance in force took place 
across Sinai for eighteen months after 
the first attack on the canal, the 
Turks continued to hold the Peninsula 
in some strenoth, undertakinof a num- 
ber of minor enterprises, chiefly with 
the object of damaging the canal and 
shipping, and giving the troops under 
Major-General A. Wilson, command- 
ing the Suez Canal defences, a vast 
amount of heavy and monotonous 
work, especially in patrolling, to frus- 
trate the enemy's attempts at mine- 
laying. In March, 191 5, the Imperial 
Yeomanry Brigade, as well as the 
Australian and New Zealand Infantry, 

' Descriljed in \'ol. II, pp. 199-206. 

who had reinforced the troops on the 
canal, returned to Cairo— soon to be 
swallowed up in the Gallipoli cam- 
paign. With the withdrawal of troops 
to other theatres, and the sickness 
incidental to the ensuing hot season, 
the patrolling of the canal, espe- 
cially at night, became very arduous. 
Major-General Wilson himself de- 
scribes the nature of this work in one 
of his dispatches," recounting all the 
minor operations following the dis- 
astrous defeat of the enemy at the 
beginning of February, 1915 — the 
successful little affair at Tor at dawn 
on P^ebruary 13, when a half battalion 
of the Gurkha Rifles, under Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Haldane, secretly con- 
veyed to its destination by H.M.S. 
Minei'va from Suez, joined forces 
with the Egyptian Battalion in gar- 
rison at Tor, and scattered the Turks 
who had been threatening that place 
for some time past, killing 60, and 
taking 102 prisoners; the attack on 
March 22, 1915, of the mixed column 
of Hyderabad Lancers, a Terri- 
torial Lancashire Battery R. F. A., 
Bikanir Camel Corps, Sikhs and 
Gurkhas, under Lieutenant -Colonel 
Boisragon, V.C., who, moving out 
from Kubri, surprised an enemy force 
of some 800 infantry and 200 mounted 
men lurking some 10 miles from the 
canal, and after hurling it back with 
serious losses was only prevented by 
the heavy going across the sandhills 
from cutting off its retreat; and re- 
peated reconnaissances by land, sea, 
and air. 

The mine- layers were an ever- 
present danger. On April 8, 191 5, 

"Supplement to \\\e: London Gazette, June 20, 1916. 

Guarding the Suez Canal 


for example, suspicious tracks were 
noticed on the east bank of the canal 
between El Kap and Kantara, and on 
the canal beino- draooed sure enouo-h 
a mine was discovered. It had evi- 
dently been placed there under cover 
of a demonstration on the previous 

"Owing to this occurrence", wrote Major- 
General Wilson, "it became necessary greatly 

the rest, not only reached the shore of 
the Little Bitter Lake, but also waded 
out and boarded a Suez Canal pile 
driver, destroying a small boat and 
taking- prisoner an Italian workman 
found on board. The nearest post 
gave chase immediately the occurrence 
was reported, but were unable to come 
up with the raiders, who were probably 
all mounted men. At the end of June, 



Map illustrating the Campaigns in Egypt from February, 1915, to May, 1916 

to increase our patrols. Intermediate night 
piquets were established between posts and 
a system of hourly patrols along the east 
bank instituted. Arrangements were made 
for a thorough search of the canal bank at 
daylight every morning, and officers com- 
manding posts were authorized to stop ship- 
ping in case of any suspicious circumstances 
being detected." 

May, 19 1 5, brought a number ot 
hostile patrols within reach of the 
canal, and though they all retired as 
soon as our forces moved against them, 
one party of Turks, more daring than 

191 5, another party of Turkish marau- 
ders succeeded in reaching the naval 
section of the canal defences near the 
south end of the Little Bitter Lake, 
and, evading the naval launches which 
patrolled this section, placed a mine 
in the track of the traffic. The victim 
was the British steamship 7\'rcsias, 
which struck the mine on June 30. 
" Thanks to the skilful handling of the 
ship," writes Major-General Wilson, 
"and the prompt action of the Canal 
Company's official, the accident only 
blocked the canal for fourteen hours, 


The Great World War 

and the ship, though seriously dam- 
aged, has since been towed into Alex- 
andria for repairs." To the indispen- 
sable navy — under Vice-Admiral Sir 
R. Peirse — fell the task of guarding 
the Bitter Lakes throughout these 
operations; and it was always ready 
and anxious, as Sir John Maxwell bore 
witness, " to help and facilitate the duty 
of protecting the canal and advising 
in any enterprise that needed naval 
assistance ". 

So the summer and autumn of 1915 
slipped away in the monotonous but 
all-important zone of the Suez Canal, 
the enemy confining himself to these 
sporadic attempts to block the water- 
way — his chief object being to detain 
thereby as many of our troops as pos- 
sible on its defence. Except during 
the actual attack in February, how- 
ever, and the Teresias incident, traffic 
throughout this period continued prac- 
tically as in times of peace. The drain 
on the Turkish forces under Djemal 
Pasha's own command, due to the need 
of reinforcements in Gallipoli and else- 
where, prevented all idea of another 
attack in force until the following year. 
" It was therefore possible," wrote 
General Sir J. G. Maxwell in his dis- 
patch of March i, 191 6, shortly before 
handing over the command in Egypt 
to General Sir A. J. Murray, "while 
retaining just sufficient force to safe- 
guard the canal, to move troops to 
other theatres where their presence 
was most required." 

Egypt itself had suffered compara- 
tively little, though it had had its 
share of crises, political, military, and 
economic. The masses of people were 
content with the new regime. They 

had escaped the hardships and sacri- 
fices of most of the countries drawn 
into the vortex of war; and evidence 
daily accumulated that Britain was tak- 
ing no risks in the matter. They were 
well aware that the only Turks who 
were likely to invade Egypt were those 
who, like the wretched procession of 





^r ^ji 





^^^^^ ' i^^H 



^^^Hk' ^^^^1 



^^^^^^Hk^'^''' '.^-^~ "^^^1 


J ^ 





Vice-Admiral Sir Richard H. Peirse, K.C.B., commanding 

the Naval Forces in the Defence of Egypt 

(From a photograph by EUiott & Fry) 

the previous February, arrived as pri- 
soners of war. There were anxious 
moments on Egypt's western front, as 
will presently be seen, and it was true 
that the smouldering disaffection of the 
reactionaries had not been entirely 
stamped out, while the Nationalist 
faction still claimed a few adherents, 
but the Turco - German influence, 
though it instigated attempts on the 
lives of the Sultan Hussein I and 

History of the Senussi 


Faithi Pasha — attempts which happily 
were unsuccessful — failed conspicu- 
ously to move the people as a whole. 

On the western front of Egypt, how- 
ever, the Senussi showed ominous 
signs as early as May, 191 5, that the 
machinations of Nuri Bey, a half- 
brother of Enver Pasha, were beorin- 
ning to take effect. This develop- 
ment was unlooked for, because the 
Senussi sect had seemed determined 
at the outbreak of the war to remain 
aloof, as it had done when the Egyp- 
tian Mahdi raised his standard of re- 
volt in the 'eighties. The founder of 
this remarkable sect, Sidi-Mohammed- 
ben-Ali-es-Senussi, who died about 
i860, was no mere ignorant upstart. 
His forefathers were venerable Mo- 
hammedans of history, and, like all 
other founders of the various factions 
of Islam, he claimed direct descent 
from the Prophet. An Algerian by 
birth, he had studied religion at Mo- 
rocco, where he became a professor of 
theology, and after much wandering 
and pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina, 
earned such a reputation for wisdom 
and learning that he was once an- 
nounced by Egyptian professors in the 
great mosque of El-Azhar as "the 
wisest of the Mohammedan race; the 
light of the pure law, the sun of the 
firmament, the tree of profound cog- 
nition ". He founded a new school of 
thought, the doctrines of which in- 
volved the renunciation of the world 
and all such indulgences as wine, 
tobacco, sugar, and the wearing of 
ornaments of gold and silver, implac- 
able hostility to all Christians and Jews, 
and strict secrecy. Condemning all 
veneration of dead saints, he preached 

that worship must be reserved for God 
alone, though living saints should be 
reverenced, being sacred through in- 
spiration, which ceased with their 
death. His fame and following in- 
creased so that when, in 1845, he as- 
sumed the title of Khalifa, or successor 
of the Prophet, he veiled his face, as 
being too sacred for mortal eyes to 
gaze upon. And when he died he 
appointed his son his successor, calling 
him the Mahdi, who was promised by 
Mohammed to be the restorer of all 
things. In the early 'sixties the son 
and successor settled at Jerabub, near 
the western frontier of Egypt, and the 
ramifications of the sect spread all over 
North Africa. They occasionally came 
in confiict with General Joffre and other 
French commanders in the colonial 
wars before Armageddon; and after 
the downfall of the Egyptian Mahdi 
they were said to have extended their 
influence in the Soudan. When, in 
1902, the Senussi Mahdi fell in fight- 
ing the infidel, he was succeeded by 
his nephew, Seyzid Ahmed, who made 
his head-quarters at the Kufru Oasis, 
in the Libyan Desert. Here, though 
nominally under British rule, and pay- 
ing for one of his towns, Siwa, or 
Jupiter Ammon, an annual tribute of 
dates to the Egyptian Government, 
he remained a law unto himself, sur- 
rounded by a warlike race of Berbers 
and Arabs, whose military strength 
and political influence at the beginning 
of the Great War were largely an un- 
known quantity. 

Here, obviously, was fit material for 
Turco-German conspirators, especially 
with a Kaiser who did not hesitate, in 
a letter written in Arabic " to the illus- 


The Great World War 

trious chief of the Senussi ", and inter- 
cepted by the French, to proclaim 
himself "the Envoy of Allah and 
Protector of Islam ", and pray to Allah 
that the Senussi would " expel all 
infidels from the lands which belonged 
to the true believers ". German agents 
had already wormed their way among 
this austere fraternity in 191 1, when 
they helped the Turks under Enver 
Pasha to arm the desert tribes against 
the Italians in Tripoli during the 
Turco- Italian campaign. This danger 
on the western front of Egypt was not 
overlooked when the Great War broke 
out, but for some time after the out- 
break of hostilities the anti- British 
influence inspired by the Turkish 
party in Tripoli, under the leadership 
of Nuri Bey, was not strongly felt. 
The first Turkish attempt on the Suez 
Canal in February 191 5 was accom- 
panied by no corresponding movement 
in the west, the attitude of the Senussi 
towards Egypt meantime, to all ap- 
pearances, remaining friendly. 

With the advent of Gaafer, a Ger- 
manized Turk of considerable ability, 
who arrived in Tripoli in April, 1915, 
well supplied with arms and sinews of 
war, this attitude underwent a marked 
change. " From that moment," wrote 
Sir John Maxwell a year later, "it 
became evident that the Turkish influ- 
ence was gaining weight, and it was 
only by means of great forbearance, 
and by tactful handling of a delicate 
situation by Lieutenant-Colonel Snow, 
commanding the Western Desert, that 
a rupture was so long deferred." Hav- 
ing iforced back the Italians to the coast 
towns of Tripoli, the tribes under the 
Senussi influence were probably flushed 

with success when two British sub- 
marines, sheltering from the weather 
on August 16, 191 5, near Ras Lick, 
on the coast of Cyrenaica, were treach- 
erously fired upon by Arabs under the 
leadership of a white officer. Casual- 
ties were suffered on both sides, but 
the incident was closed by the accep- 
tance of the Senussi's profound apolo- 
oies and his assurances that the act 
had been committed in ignorance that 
the submarines were British. A period 
of quiet followed, but German sub- 
marines had now arrived in the Medi- 
terranean, and presently established 
secret-supply bases along this strip of 
coast; and early in November, 191 5, 
while Sir John Maxwell was tempo- 
rarily absent from Egypt in order to 
meet Lord Kitchener at Mudros, a 
series of events occurred which placed 
beyond all doubt the insincerity of 
the Senussi's continued assurances of 

On the 5th of November the British 
patrol boat Tara — known before the 
war as the steamer Hibernia, which 
plied across channel on the Dublin- 
Holyhead route — was torpedoed off 
this coast by an enemy submarine, 
eleven men in the engine-room being 
killed by the explosion. When the 
crew of ninety odd had taken to their 
boats, and the steamer had foundered, 
the submarine came alono- and towed 
the survivors ashore, where they were 
handed over as prisoners to the Senussi. 
Two days later the Moorine and her 
crew shared a similar fate. When 
news of these events reached the 
British authorities strong representa- 
tions were made for the immediate 
release of the prisoners, but the Senussi 



^ra»ii by F. de Haenen 

Ships of the Air versus Ships of the Desert : British aeroplanes bombing a Senussi camel convoy 

laden with ammunition 

The sketch by a British officer from which the drawing was made was accompanied by the following note: "In the region of 
Baharia Wells, south of Dabaa, one of the four great wells in the desert between Alexandria and Matruhj two of our aeroplanes 
accomplished a very hazardous feat in dropping bombs on a Senussi village and demolishing a camel convoy. Some camels were 
laden with high-explosives, and violent explosions occurred, causing great damage." 



The Great World War 

merely feigned ignorance of both occur- 
rences, pretending to discredit them. 
Meantime the isolated Egyptian post 
on the coast at Solium, near the Tri- 
politan frontier, had been shelled by 
the enemy submarines, the Egyptian 
coastguard cruiser Abbas being sunk 
at her moorings, and another, the 
Nur el Bahr, receiving considerable 
damage from shell-fire. The position 
of Solium became critical, and an 
emergency squadron of the Royal 
Naval Armoured Car Division was 
sent to strengthen the post, which was 
systematically sniped at night-time, 
and threatened by Senussi regulars. 
In these circumstances the negotia- 
tions which had been started whereby 
the Senussi should get rid of their 
Turco-German advisers in return for 
a sum of money, and thus preserve 
peace, were useless. There was no 
alternative but to recognize a state of 
war and take action accordingly. 

All these events, as Sir John Max- 
well observes, had caused a dangerous 
spirit of unrest to prevail throughout 
the country, and the possibility of in- 
ternal disturbances was a source of 
greater anxiety than the external 

" This unrest was especially evident 
amongst the Arab population inhabiting 
the western edge of the cultivation — 
amounting in the Behera Province alone 
to over 120,000. The religious influence of 
the Senussi is great amongst these people, 
and their natural sympathies are inclined 
towards their brethren in the western desert. 
The above considerations made it impera- 
tive, on the one hand to keep the sphere of 
hostilities as far as possible to the west of 
the Delta, and, on the other hand, to avoid 
anything in the nature of a reverse. In 

pursuance of this policy it was decided to 
withdraw the western frontier posts to 
Mersa Matruh, and to concentrate at that 
place a force sufficient to deal swiftly with 
the situation; to secure the Alexandria- 
Dabaa railway as a secondary line of com- 
munication by land with the railhead at 
Dabaa; to occupy the Wadi Natrun and 
the Fayum as measures of precaution ; and 
to watch closely by constant and careful 
reconnaissance the Oasis of Moghara." 

Solium Post, the garrison of which, 
consisting of 5 British and 2 Egyptian 
officers and 102 British and Egyptian 
rank and file, found itself opposed by 
2000 Arabs under German and Turk- 
ish officers, had been evacuated by 
sea on the afternoon of November 23, 
such motor-cars of the Royal Naval 
Armoured Car Squadron as could be 
moved having previously been dis- 
patched by land. Unfortunately it 
was found necessary in the withdrawal 
to abandon — after disabling them — 
three light cars and the two Egyptian 
army 9-cm. Krupp guns, and also to 
abandon an outlying post of one 
Egyptian officer and fourteen other 
ranks who failed to reach the beach 
in time, and were made prisoners. 
The evacuation of the posts of Bagbag 
and Barrani was effected by land on 
the same day. It was not without 
significance that during the march and 
after the arrival at Matruh a number 
of desertions occurred among the 
Egyptian Coastguard Camel Corps. 
These desertions amounted in all 
to 1 2 native officers, 2 cadets, and 
120 other ranks, who took with 
them their arms, equipment, and 176 

Obviously it was necessary to deal 

The Western Frontier Force 


with the situation quickly and effi- 
ciently. A Western Frontier Force 
was appointed under Major-General 
A. Wallace, and began to concentrate 
at Matruh — on the coast about 1 50 
miles from Solium — on the night of 
November 23-24, the first to arrive 
being" detachments of the Sikhs under 
Lieutenant-Colonel J. C. R. Gordon. 
The presence of enemy submarines 
necessitated the sea journey from 
Alexandria being performed by night 
only, but by December 7 the con- 
centration was practically complete. 
Major-General Wallace's force con- 
sisted of a Composite Mounted Brigade 
under Brigadier-General J. D. T. 
Tyndale Biscoe, including British Yeo- 
manry, Australian Light Horse, and 
a Territorial Battery Royal Horse 
Artillery; a Composite Infantry Bri- 
gade under Brigadier -General the 
Earl of Lucan, including detach- 
ments of the Sikhs and three Ter- 
ritorial battalions of the Royal Scots, 
and the Middlesex Regiment; with 
auxiliary services, divisional train of 
the I St Australian Division, and a 
detachment of the Egyptian Army 
Military Works Department, no Royal 
Engineers being available.^ 

" It must be acknowledged ", says Sir 
John Maxwell, in pointing out that General 
Wallace had to overcome many difficulties 
beyond those caused by the enemy, " that 
this force, although the best available in 

^A battalion of the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Bri- 
gade, with one company of the Sikhs, a detachment of the 
Bikanir Camel Corps, an attached Egyptian army machine- 
gun section, an armoured train garrisoned by Gurkha 
Rifles, and two l2-pounder guns of the Egyptian army 
artillery were sent at the same time to make good the 
Alexandria-Dabaa Railway and patrol to Moghara Oasis, 
while a battalion of the North Midland Mounted Brigade, 
with a battery of the Royal Horse Artillery, were dis- 
patched to preserve order in the Fayum. 

Egypt at the moment, was by no means 
well adapted for the task which lay before 
it. Regiments and Staffs had been some- 
what hastily collected, and were not well 
known to one another. The Composite 
Yeomanry Brigade, to give an instance, 
contained men from twenty or more dif- 
ferent regiments. Before a really efficient 
fighting force could be collected much re- 
arrangement was necessary, with the result 
that the composition was constantly chang- 
ing; and it was, in fact, not until the middle 
of February that the conditions of the 
Western Frontier Force could be considered 
really satisfactory. Moreover, the lack of 
sufficient and suitable transport made it 
necessary for General Wallace to withdraw 
his troops to Matruh after each engage- 

The first offensive movement from 
Matruh took place on December 11, 
191 5, when a reconnoitring force under 
Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon, consisting 
of 350 men of the Sikhs, three squad- 
rons of the Composite Yeomanry 
Regiment, one section of a Terri- 
torial battery of the Royal Horse 
Artillery, a detachment of the Royal 
Naval Armoured Car Division, as 
well as a section of the South Mid- 
land Territorial Field Ambulance, 
Royal Army Medical Corps, was sent 
out to disperse a hostile gathering 
reported within striking distance. 
Marching westward at 7 a.m. by the 
coast road, the cavalry pushed forward 
in advance of the column and became 
engaged with the enemy, who was in 
considerable strength, before the in- 
fantry could join in. The going was 
so heavy that the infantry were unable 
to co-operate throughout, but the 
cavalry were reinforced during the 
afternoon by the timely arrival of a 


The Great World War 

reinforcing squadron of the Australian casualties in this affair were estinia- 
Light Horse, and the enemy was ted at not less than 250, against our 
finally driven back with the loss of total of 65 killed and wounded, the 
upwards of 100 killed and wounded, experience of the operations on both 
Our own losses were not severe — 32 occasions had clearly shown that to 
killed and wounded — but the casualties obtain a swift, decisive result more 
unfortunately included Lieutenant- strength was essential. Major-General 
Colonel Snow, who was killed late in Wallace was therefore reinforced at 
the afternoon by an Arab whom he Matruh by a recendy arrived battalion 
was endeavouring to per- 
suade to surrender. 

Two days later the 
same column, reinforced 
by two companies of the 
Royal Scots from Ma- 
truh, was ordered to ad- 
vance ao-ainst a hostile 
Arab force under Gaafer 
Pasha, numbering 1 200 
rifles, with two "uns and 
machine-guns, which had 
been discovered some 13 
miles away by air recon- 
naissance. The enemy 
did not wait to be at- 
tacked, but advancing to 
meet Lieutenant-Colonel 
Gordon, eno-agred him 
with reckless courage. 

What Sir John Maxwell describes as of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, 
"a sharp and somewhat critical action" two naval 4-in. guns, and a battery 
developed, but after a trying and of the Honourable Artillery Company, 
anxious period the arrival of rein- while shortly afterwards a brigade of 
forcements from Matruh — two guns of the 54th Division relieved the other 
the Royal Horse Artillery and two New Zealand Rifle Battalion, now 
squadrons Australian Light Horse — withdrawn to Alexandria, 
turned the scale in our favour, the Meanwhile the enemy had also been 

enemy at length being driven back gathering reinforcements, concentrat- 
with heavy loss. Darkness put an end ing at Gebel Medwa, about 8 miles 
to further pursuit, and on the following south-west of Matruh, where his 
morning Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon's strength was estimated from air recon- 
force returned to Matruh. Though naissance and other sources to have 
the enemy had been beaten, and his reached about 5000 men. with four 

Map illustratiiv^ the Campaign against tlie Senussi on the Western 
Frontier of Egypt 


A Christmas Day's Battle 


o-uns and machine-ouns. More than 
half the force were known to be Ma- 
hafizia — the Senussi uniformed regu- 
lars — and the whole were under the 
command of the Germanized Turk 
Gaafer. On Christmas Day, 191 5, 
Major-General Wallace moved out 
from Matruh to o-ive battle, startinor 
before daylight, and dividing his force 
into two columns. The rio;ht column, 
commanded by Lieutenant - Colonel 
Gordon, and comprising the bulk of 
the infantry, with some of the Hussars 
and a section of Royal Horse Artil- 
lery, was to advance directly on Gebel 
Medwa; while the left column, com- 
manded by Brigadier-General Biscoe, 
and including the remainder of the 
mounted troops and Horse Artillery, 
was to make a wide detour southward 
round the enemy's right flank in order 
to cut off his retreat to the west; 
H.M.S. Clematis was to assist as oc- 
casion offered with gun-fire from the 
sea. Leaving the cavalry to clear the 
arid zone to the south in its wide out- 
flanking movement, the right column, 
under Lieutenant - Colonel Gordon, 
marched westward along the Khedi- 
vial Motor Road. All went well until 
6.30 a.m., when the adv^ance- guard 
came suddenly under fire from artillery 
and machine-guns from the south- 
west. The enemy was soon driven off, 
and three-quarters of an hour later 
Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon was within 
striking distance of his main position 
— an escarpment about a mile south 
of Gebel Medwa, backed by rocks, 
caves, and small gullies which afforded 
every natural advantage to the defence. 
The plan of action immediately decided 
upon was to attack the enemy from his 

right flank with the Sikhs, while the 
Hussars and some Middlesex Terri- 
torials delivered a containing attack 
along his front. The advance of the 
infantry at 7.30 was greatly assisted 
by guns of the Royal Horse Artil- 
lery, which came into action on the 
high ground near the road, 2000 yards 
east of Gebel Medwa, and quickly 
silenced the enemy's guns, H.M.S. 
Clematis joining in at 7.45 with an 
accurate and useful fire at a ranee of 
about 10,000 yards. 

Even so the Sikhs, deploying west 
of the road, and advancing with dash 
and enthusiasm, met with determined 
opposition from marksmen in carefully 
concealed positions. The Indians were 
reinforced at 9.30 by two companies of 
the New Zealand Rifles; a third com- 
pany shortly afterwards being ordered 
up from the reserve to prolong the line 
to the left and clear a donoa runnine 
parallel to the line of advance from 
which the Sikhs were suffering most 
of their casualties. It was then that 
the fun began, as one of the New 
Zealanders expressed it. These Do- 
minion troops were receiving their bap- 
tism of fire, and were eager to prove 
that New Zealanders could fight as 
well in Egypt — or anywhere else for 
that matter — as in Gallipoli. In places 
the donga was so steep that when the 
men let themselves go they sometimes 
slid down 50 feet at a stretch. 

While this was happening the crest 
in front of the Sikhs had been carried, 
and that battalion, with the two New 
Zealand companies on the right, had 
pushed rapidly forward, driving the 
enemy into the caves and gullies, all 
of which had in turn to be cleared. 


The Great World War 

At II a.m., when the western edge of 
the plateau was reached, Brigadier- 
General Biscoe's cavalry column, which 
had been considerably delayed by some 
hostile mounted troops, could be seen 
operating about 2 miles to the south- 
west, and, signal communication being 
opened, it changed direction along the 
Wadi Majid, where it again became 
v^iigaged. The nullahs at the head 
of the Wadi Majid were thoroughly 
cleared at the point of the bayonet by 
2.15 p.m., and after an hour and a half 
of sharp fighting the whole position 
fell into our hands, with numerous 
prisoners, 80 camels, and much live 
stock, as well as 30,000 rounds of 
small-arm ammunition and three boxes 
of gun ammunition. The cavalry 
column having finally driven off the 
enemy, with whom it had been en- 
gaged since two o'clock, succeeded in 
joining up with the left of the Sikhs 
at 4 p.m., but by that time, unfortu- 
nately, the bulk of Gaafer 's force had 
already made good its escape west- 
wards along the sea -shore, and the 
approach of darkness precluded the 
possibility of further pursuit. Gaafer 
himself lost his personal effects, besides 
some 450 men in killed and pri- 
soners — apart from the wounded, whom 
he was able to get away — our own 
losses amounting to 15 rank and file 
killed and 3 officers and 47 other ranks 

" The energy, resolution, and initiative 
displayed by Lieutenant- Colonel Gordon 
throughout this operation ", wrote Sir John 
Maxwell in his dispatch relating to these 
operations, " is deserving of the highest 
praise, and in his difficult task he was 
magnificently backed up by his own regi- 

ment of Sikhs, temporarily commanded 
by Major Evans, and by the battalion 
New Zealand Rifle brigade under Major 

The New Zealanders, who with 
the rest of the infantry bivouacked for 
the night at Gebel Medwa, while the 
cavalry returned to Matruh, marched 
back to camp singing and in the 
highest spirits. They had had a 
" Merry Christmas ", they declared, 
and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. 
"Thus it was", to quote from the 
official account of the affair written by 
Mr. Malcolm Ross, New Zealand's 
Press Representative with the Ex- 
peditionary Force, " that the ' New 
Battalion ' was blooded. They have 
started well, and I have not the least 
hesitation in saying that they will 
worthily uphold the reputation that 
New Zealand has already earned on 
the battle-field." It was not long before 
they had another opportunity of dis- 
tinguishing themselves. After various 
minor operations in the neighbourhood 
of Matruh — operations heavily handi- 
capped by the weather, torrential rains 
at the turn of the year transforming 
the whole region into a sea of mud — 
a fresh gathering of the enemy in force 
was discovered at Hazalin, 25 miles 
south-west of Matruh, the tent of 
the Grand Senussi himself being 
recognized in the camp. General 
Wallace, having been reinforced by 
the South African Regiment, set out 
on January 22 with the same force as 
before, reaching Bir Shola (16 miles) 
after dark, and bivouacking there for 
the night preparatory to striking the 

At six a.m. 

Senussi in the morning. 

Sikhs, South Africans, and New Zealanders 


on the 23rd the troops advanced from 
their camp to engage the enemy in two 
columns, the rig^ht agrain commanded 
by Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon and the 
left by Brigadier-General Biscoe. Two 
hours later Biscoe reported the enemy 
2 miles ahead of his advanced squad- 
rons, the Australian Light Horse, 
who shortly afterwards became en- 
gaged. The Hussars and Honourable 
Artillery Company were immediately 
sent forward in support, Colonel 
Gordon's infantry column simultane- 
ously pushing on in attack formation, 
the Sikhs leading. The enemy, 4500 
strong, well-handled, and supported by 
three guns and several machine-guns, 
stood his ground stoutly, and though 
gradually pressed back, his retirement 
of nearly 3 miles on his main positions 
was conducted, as Sir John Maxwell 
testifies, with great skill, defying all 
our efforts to come to close quarters. 
At one time, indeed, when our flanks 
were being held up, the enemy made 
an attempt to surround us, and more 
than one dangerous situation had to 
be relieved with reinforcements before 
the flanks were secured. Meantime, 
however, the Sikhs and South Africans, 
with part of the New Zealand Battalion 
on the left of the Indians, had reached 
the enemy's main line, and by 3 p.m. 
the whole of his positions were won, 
his camp and stores being afterwards 
burnt. The Senussi had undoubtedly 
suffered a heavy blow, his losses being 
placed at not less than 700 killed and 
wounded, but unluckily it was again 
impossible to pursue the success to 
decisive victory, and so bring this 
troublesome side-show to a speedy 
termination. Throughout the day the 

factor of mud had played an important 
and unfortunate part, and approaching 
darkness and the exhaustion of the 
cavalry horses forbade further pursuit. 
The whole country owing to the ab- 
normal rains was still little more than 
a quagmire, seriously hampering the 
movements of the cavalry, and render- 
ing impossible their full co-operation 
with the infantry. Our own losses 
in this action on January 23, 1916, 
amounted to 3 1 killed and 29 1 wounded. 
"On the success attained", says Sir 
John Maxwell, "especial praise is due 
to the leadinor of the main attack and 
to the gallantry of the Sikhs, the South 
Africans, and the New Zealanders, 
who fought with invincible dash and 
resolution throughout the day." 

Having thus dealt the Senussi a 
blow which, according to deserters, 
had gone far to shake the faith of his 
followers in his cause. Sir John Max- 
well now decided that the time had 
arrived to recover the lost Egyptian 
coast line to the Tripolitan frontier by 
the reoccupation of Solium. At this 
stage General Wallace, whose cam- 
paigning days had begun as long ago 
as the Afghan war of 1879, and who 
considered that the coming operations 
would involve a physical strain beyond 
his powers, "felt himself obliged, owing 
to age," writes Sir John Maxwell, "to 
tender his resignation of the command 
which he had held with unvarying 
success for the past three months ". 
Major-General W. E. Peyton, C.B., 
D.S.O., was appointed in his stead, 
and his assumption of command on 
February 9 practically coincided with 
the final reorganization of the force, 
with sufficient camel transport to ren 

The Great World War 

The Campaign in Western Egypt : dismounted troopers in action on Christmas Day, 1915— 

continued on opposite page 

der it completely mobile. Henceforth 
it was possible to follow up any success, 
instead of having to return each time 
to Matruh. Other important changes 
had taken place in the composition 
of the force. The Sikhs had been 
ordered to India, and though their 
loss, as well as that of the gallant 
New Zealand Battalion, was severe, 
they had been replaced by the South 
African Brigade, largely composed of 
young warriors fresh from their con- 
quest of German South-West Africa, 
and commanded by one of South 

Africa's finest fighting men, Brigadier- 
General H. T. Lukin. C.M.G., D.S.O., 
who led the ist Colonial Division, Cape 
Colony, in the South African War. 
The Composite Yeomanry Brigade 
had also vanished to another theatre 
of war, and been replaced by the 2nd 
Mounted Brigade, some troops from 
Hong Kong and Singapore also 
swelling the force at Mersa Matruh. 
Almost all that now remained of the 
original command was Lord Lucan's 
Composite Brigade of three Territorial 

Pushing on towards Solium 


Drawn by R. Caton Woodville 

The Campaign in Western Egypt : led horses coming out of action at Mersah-Matruh on Christmas Day, 1915 — 

continued from the opposite page 

Before recapturing Solium it was 
necessary to recover Barrani, on the 
coast road, about half-way to the Tri- 
politan frontier. With this end in view, 
the first stepping-stone had already 
been secured on February i6 at Un- 
jeila, where an advanced depot was 
established. Four days later General 
Peyton dispatched Brigadier-General 
Lukin to recapture this second step- 
ping-stone at Barrani with a force 
consisting, in addition to the ist 
South African Brigade (less two of 
its battalions), one squadron of Hus- 

VOL. V. 

sars and another of Yeomanry, a de- 
tachment of the Royal Scots, a bat- 
tery of the Royal Horse Artillery, and 
two field ambulances. The troops 
had a long trying march across the 
desert sands for four days — remind- 
ing the South Africans of their 
campaigning hardships in German 
South - West Africa — before they 
arrived within striking distance of 
the enemy, who had been located by 
air reconnaissance at Aofaoia, some 
14 miles south-east of Barrani, Here 
Gaafer Pasha and Enver's brother, 



The Great World War 

Nuri Bey — for both leaders were 
known to be in the Senussi camp — 
had gathered their forces in a position 
of exceptional strength on a dominat- 
ing ridge, with machine-guns estab- 
lished somewhat in front of their main 
body. The 25th had been planned 
by General Lukin as a day of much- 
needed rest for his troops preparatory 
to a night approach and attack at dawn 
on the following morning, but the 
enemy, again demonstrating that he 
was by no means disposed passively 
to await attack, opening fire on the 
British camp at 5.30 p.m. with two 
field-sfuns and at least one machine- 
gun. The artillery was soon silenced, 
and the action which followed was of 
no importance, but it had sufficiently 
disturbed General Lukin's plans to 
make him abandon the proposed night 
march in favour of daylight operations 
on the morrow. 

At 9.30 on the morning of February 
26, therefore, General Lukin moved 
out with his whole force, save for a 
small detachment left to guard his 
camp. Two hours later, after the 
yeomanry had seized a hillock 4000 
yards north of the enemy's position, 
the attack was developed, some of the 
South African Infantry moving for- 
ward in the centre on a front of about 
1700 yards with the steadiness which 
is the hall-mark of seasoned cam- 
paigners. Yeomanry and two ar- 
moured cars operated on their right 
flank, with orders to pursue the moment 
the enemy should break, the remaining 
squadron of yeomanry, with two more 
armoured cars, similarly operating on 
the left. Other South African In- 
fantry, with two further armoured cars. 

formed the cjeneral reserve. Such were 
General Lukin's dispositions when, as 
the attack developed, the enemy, after 
a fairly heavy fire with rifle, machine-, 
and field-guns, sent out his infantry, 
exactly as on previous occasions, at- 
tempting a rapid outflanking move- 
ment against the British left. This 

Brigadier-General H. T. Lukin, commanding the 
South African Brigade 

manoeuvre was at once detected and 
frustrated by a company from the re- 
serve, which, sent up in echelon be- 
hind the threatened flank, brought the 
counter-attack to nouoht. This dancrer 
over, General Lukin, "acting with ad- 
mirable promptitude", to quote from 
Sir John Maxwell's dispatch, " with- 
drew his squadron from his left flank 
and sent it to strengthen his main 
pursuing force on his right; and there 
is litde doubt that this quick decision 
did much to ensure the success of the 

The Dorsets' 

subsequent operations ". The firing- 
line was now within 500 yards of the 
enemy. Throwing into the fight the 
greater part of his reserves — at the 
same time sending a staff officer to 
Colonel Souter, of the Dorset Yeo- 
manry, to be ready for his opportunity 
to pursue and cut off the enemy — 
General Lukin carried the main posi- 
tion, and, in exact accordance with the 
plans, left the cavalry to complete the 

It was now that occurred one of the 
most brilliant feats of arms in the whole 
campaign — the charge of the Dorset 
Yeomanry (the Queen's Own), who, 
with gallant comrades from Buck- 
inghamshire and Berkshire, had been 
specially mentioned in Sir Ian Hamil- 
ton's dispatches for their superb gal- 
lantry at Chocolate Hill, Gallipoli, 
little more than six months previ- 
ously. The Dorsets had to fight 
without their horses in Gallipoli. 
Here, however, they were in the saddle 
again, and thirsting for just such an 
opportunity as now presented itself 
It came when Colonel Souter, after 
allowing the enemy to get clear of the 
sandhills, where there might have been 
wire or trenches to interfere with the 
horses, and pursuing on a line parallel 
to, and about 1000 yards west of, the 
line of retreat, at lenoth decided that 
the moment had come to charge. Up 
to that point he had only attacked with 
dismounted fire wherever the horses 
wanted an easy, but about 2 p.m. he 
saw for the first time, from a ridge 
overlooking the valley, the whole re- 
treating force, extending for about a 
mile with a depth of 300 to 400 yards. 
The camels and bagfo^aofe were in front, 

Gallant Charge 



escorted by irregulars, their trained 
fighting troops, or Mahafizia, forming 
their rear and flank guard, well pro- 
tected by maxims. 

" About 3 p.m.", to take up the .story in 
the words of Colonel Souter's own report, 
" I dismounted for the last time to give my 
horses a breather and to make a careful 
examination of the ground over which I was 
about to move. By this time the Dorset 
Regiment was complete, and as the squad- 
ron of the Bucks had gone on ahead and 
could not be found, I attacked with Dor- 
sets alone. The attack was made in two 
lines, the horses galloping steadily, and 
well in hand. Three maxims were brought 
into action against us, but the men were 
splendidly led by their squadron and troop 
leaders, and their behaviour was admirable. 
About fifty yards from the position I gave 
the order to charge, and with one }'ell the 
Dorsets hurled themselves upon the enemy, 
who immediately broke. In the middle of 
the enemy's lines my horse was killed undei 
me, and, by a curious chance, his d\'ing 
strides brought me to the ground within a 
few \ards of the Senussi General, Gaafer 

To this may be added the unofficial 
tribute of one of Colonel Souter's 
officers, who describes how splendidly 
the Colonel led them, in front of the 
whole regiment, and the regiment rid- 
inof behind him in line as at a oene- 
ral's inspection. The fall of Colonel 
Souter just in front of Gaafer, with its 
dramatic sequel in the surrender of 
the Senussi leader, was, in the words 
of the same correspondent, "the most 
wonderful piece of luck". The Colonel 
was alone at the time, save for Second- 
Lieutenant John H. Blaksley and 
Trooper William Brown, both of 
whom had also had their horses shot 
under them. These three dismounted 


The Great World War 

yeomen were thus surrounded at the 
time by some 50 fit or lightly wounded 
enemy, and the situation, as Sir John 
Maxwell says, was distinctly threaten- 
inof until the arrival of the machine- 
gun section decided the issue. Gaafer 
Pasha, who was then escorted from the 

a prisoner. Nobody in the world 
could stand against such an onslaught; 
aoainst men who evinced such scant 
reeard for death." Our losses were 
severe, but according to Sir John 
Maxwell they were justified by both 
the moral and material results achieved. 

After the Dorset Yeomanry's Brilliant Charge against the Senussi: bringing in prisoners 

field to a place of safety, had believed 
it impossible that any cavalry could 
survive the deadly storm of machine- 
gun fire which he had brought to 
bear upon the advancing troops. The 
charge itself he afterwards described 
as "bravery unparalleled". "It was 
not war," he said, according to Reuters 
correspondent, "but it was immense. 
In theory it should have failed; in 
practice it succeeded, and I am to-day 

" One squadron was deprived of all its 
leaders, two being killed and two having 
their horses killed under them. Without 
their officers' control the men carried on 
too far, and it was this squadron that suf- 
fered most of the casualties. The enemy's 
losses were also heavy, and it is most im- 
probable that anything would have induced 
them to stand up to well-handled cavalry 

For this remarkable exploit, espe- 
cially for the capture of the Senussi 

Armoured Cars in Action 


general, Colonel Souter, "whose reso- 
lution and coolness stood him in great 
stead at a very critical moment," was 
awarded the D.S.O., Second-Lieuten- 
ant Blaksley receiving the Military 
Cross at the same time, and Trooper 
Brown the Distinguished Conduct 

Barrani was now occupied without 
further opposition, and preparations 
were begun by General Peyton for 
the final advance on Solium, towards 
which the enemy had retreated after 
his defeat at Agagia. That action 
deprived the Senussi and the Turks 
of their last hope that the British 
would try to retake Solium from the 
sea, where, with the fort on the hill- 
top, and the escarpment rising sheerly 
from the shores of the bay, a landing 
could be opposed with every advantage 
on the side of the enemy. It was 
this escarpment, which runs round the 
Libyan Plateau many scores of miles, 
that decided General Peyton to send 
along its top two battalions of infantry, 
the armoured cars, his camel corps 
company, and his mountain guns under 
General Lukin, while the remainder 
of his force moved by the coast. 
General Lukin, who had already 
reached the inland plateau by the 
Medean Pass, was at Siwiat by mid- 
night on March 13-14, the remaining 
infantry then being at Alim Tejdid, 
and the mounted troops at Bagbag. 
On the following morning both columns 
moved towards Solium, whereupon 
the enemy, fully realizing that he was 
outmanoeuvred and undone, abandoned 
the town in all haste, and took to his 

Now at last came the chance of the 

armoured cars under Major the Duke 
of Westminster. The enemy was 
reported some 20 miles away to 
the west, and not unnaturally, owing 
to his superior mobility, considered 
himself fairly safe. Hitherto the op- 
portunities of the armoured cars had 
been comparatively few in the Senussi 
campaign owing to the nature of the 
ground over which the operations had 
taken place, but now at length they 
could follow the enemy's tracks along 
a road which, by comparison, was 
splendid. It ran beyond the Egypt- 
Tripoli frontier to Tobruk, 90 miles 
away on the coast. The going was 
so good after the first 8 miles that the 
pace was increased to nearly 40 miles 
an hour. If the enemy had been 
amazed at the charge of the Dorsets 
they were now thunderstruck as these 
new weapons of war came tearing 
along at their irresistible speed, rapidly 
reducing the distance until they came 
within sight of the main camp at 
Asisa — some 19 miles from Bir Waer, 
where the enemy had already burnt 
the German-owned munition factory 
— not more than a mile south of the 
road. Hundreds of fumtive Bedouins 
had been passed on the road, but no 
notice had been taken of these by the 
cars, who were out for bies'er orame. 
When the main camp was seen a 
mile away direction was immediately 
changed, and all but two of the cars 
advanced in line, these two, according 
to a preconcerted plan, proceeding 
about two miles farther along the road. 

"As the cars approached", says the official 
account issued by the War Office, "one gun 
and two machine-guns came into action. 
These were smart!}' handled by the enemy, 


The Great World War 

but the whole gun teams were shot down 
while the cars were 400 yards away. The 
cars then dashed into the camp. The hostile 
forces scattered in every direction, and the 
pursuit was carried on. After about ten 
miles there was danger of the petrol supply 
giving out. It was found when the cars 
were again concentrated that all the enemy 
artillery had fallen into our hands. This 
amounted to three guns and nine machine- 
guns with twenty-four spare barrels, and 
some forty revolvers and a large quantity 
of ammunition." 

All, too, at the cost of one British 
officer slightly wounded. Forty pri- 
soners were also captured in this dash- 
ing affair, which, with the re-occupation 
of Solium, effectually completed the 
defeat of the Senussi and their allies, 
drivinof their scattered and demoral- 
ized forces far beyond the Egyptian 
frontier. One more object, however, 
remained to be achieved before the 
campaign could be regarded as closed. 
There were still some ninety odd 
British prisoners in the hands of the 
Senussi — survivors of the Tara and 
Alooriiie, which had been torpedoed 
four months before. These were 
known to be somewhere on the Cy- 
renaica coast. Close examination of 
the prisoners captured by the Duke 
of Westminster led to the conclusion 
that the survivors could be found at 
a place some 75 miles west of Solium. 
The place was identified as Bir Hakim 
from a letter, picked up near the ruins 
of Bir Waer, written by Captain Gwat- 
kin Williams of the Tara, to Nuri 
Bey, complaining that the prisoners 
were starvino- and ill, and sueS'estino- 
that medical comforts should be pro- 
cured from Solium. This, of course, 
had been written before General Pey- 

ton's advance, and threw a startling 
light on the condition of the captives, 
who, from letters previously published 
at home, were supposed to be well fed 
and humanely treated. 

An attempt at rescue was at once 
decided upon, the task being again 

The Duke of Westminster, awarded the D.S.O. for 
his Services with the Armoured Cars in the Senussi 

entrusted to the light-armoured car 
battery, under the Duke of West- 
minster. That night every man in 
the battery was hard at work tuning 
up the machines, as though in prepara- 
tion for a great tourist race, and the 
work continued throughout the follow- 
ing day. At three o'clock on the morn- 
ing of March 17 the rescue expedition 
started from Solium, the nine armoured 

Duke of Westminster's Rescue Column 


cars, twenty-six other cars, and ten 
motor ambulances being guided by 
Captain Royle of the Egyptian Coast- 
guard Service, and the only two na- 
tives who apparently knew anything 
of Bir Hakim or its whereabouts. 

That race through practically un- 
known country, where the enemy might 
be lurking anywhere in dangerous 
strength, will be remembered as one 
of the most daring and romantic epi- 
sodes of the war. It was still dark 
when the Duke of Westminster's pro- 
cession of cars reached Asisa, the scene 
of his dashing exploit on the 14th. 
Here a halt was made for the first 
rays of dawn. 

" The cars then hummed ahead," wrote a 
special correspondent on the Western Eg}'p- 
tian front at the time, in an account pub- 
lished in thQ Moj-iiiHg Post, "gathering pace 
as the shadows grew less. At sixty-five miles 
a small party of Arabs were disarmed, but 
were then set free as there was no room for 
prisoners. For miles the tracks of a car had 
been seen. At eighty-one miles a captured 
Wolsele)' belonging to the Ro)'al Naval Ar- 
moured Car Division was found with the 
engine in good order, but with one of the 
back wheels buckled. It had improvised 
tyres. A great quantity of sheet rubber 
was washed up some time ago on this coast, 
presumably part of the cargo of a torpedoed 
ship. The Arabs rolled it up, bound it 
tightly with camel hide, and fastened it to 
the rims with wire. When an officer went 
out a few days later for this car he found it 

Meantime the rescue column sped 
onwards, changing direction when 80 
miles along the Tobruk road, turning 
due south into the desert. For a time 
the oruides seemed to have lost their 

" A hundred miles went by, then 105, 

which was believed to be the limit of the 
distance, but still there was not the faintest 
sign of the Tara camp. Between no and 
115 miles no one spoke, and the silence 
suggested fears of failure. A mile farther 
Arabs were discovered near a mound in 
the distance. A halt was called. At two 
o'clock the Duke sent forward the armoured 
cars to attack. They raced up to within 
200 yards of the mound, and, as one would 
expect, the first car was that of Lieutenant 
William Griggs, the famous jockey, who 
regards this as the biggest of classic races 
in which he has taken part. Before the 
relievers the prisoners were standing sil- 
houetted against the skyline, absolutel}' 
motionless, silent as statues, dumb with 
amazement at the appearance of the 
strange throbbing fleet." 

lliey were on the brink of starva- 
tion, and so weak when the Duke of 
Westminster and his party set them 
free once more that not a few of them 
shed tears of joy. Some put their arms 
round the necks of their deliverers and 
kissed them. Notwithstanding the 
pitiable plight of the captives, their 
Senussi guards had made them work 
for them up to the last, beating them 
with whips of hide until they did what 
was wanted. The Arabs, who had 
taken to headlong flight as soon as 
the cars appeared on the horizon, paid 
the penalty with their lives. The 
racing cars quickly had them at their 
mercy. Not one escaped. 

With the rescue of the British pri- 
soners and the safe return of the ar- 
moured cars the campaign in Western 
Egypt came to a triumphant close. For 
his distinguished services on both ex- 
peditions with his battery the Duke of 
Westminster was subsequently a warded 
the D.S.O. The distance travelled on 
the second occasion was about 1 20 


The Great World War 

miles each way, and, as Sir John Max- 
well says in his dispatch, " the fact that 
the rescue was effected without any loss 
of life does not detract in any way from 
the brilliance of the exploit". 

The success of General Peyton's 
operations had far-reaching effects. 
Our lost prestige through the evacua- 
tion of Solium had been more than 
recovered by a campaign which in 

completely. For several weeks the 
Bedouins, reduced to a state of starva- 
tion by reliance upon the false promises 
of the Germanized Senussi, surren- 
dered at the rate of hundreds a day, 
so that a special branch of the adminis- 
tration had to be established for their 
protection and control. 

"On the east", wrote Sir John Maxwell 
in his last dispatch upon handing over the 

The Duke of Westminster's Armoured Cars in Action: the raid on the Senussi camp — continued 

on the opposite page 

three weeks had not only driven the 
enemy back far beyond the Egyptian 
border, but had also captured his 
commander with all his artillery and 
machine-guns, and cleared the country 
for 150 miles. An immediate effect 
was the removal of the anxiety at one 
time felt as to the possibility of hostile 
outbreaks in Egypt itself, where agita- 
tion was known to be rife. The atti- 
tude of the people in Alexandria, and 
more especially of the Bedouin popula- 
tion of the Behera province, which had 
come under hostile influence, changed 

command in Egypt to General Sir A. J. 
Murray, to be faced shortly afterwards with 
his sterner task in Ireland, "the failure of 
the Turks to carry out their threat to attack 
Egypt and seize the Suez Canal has simi- 
larly resulted in a loss of credit and prestige. 
In the south, scattered forces still hold the 
Oases, and the inherent difficulties of desert 
campaigning will make them troublesome 
to deal with; but the failures in east and 
west have, it may fairly be claimed, had 
the result of establishing our hold upon 
Egypt more firmly than ever, and of con- 
vincing all the more enlightened of the 
people that they can gain nothing by in- 
triguing with our enemies." 

Trouble in Anglo-Egyptian Soudan 


Just as General Peyton was winding 
up his brilliant campaign on the 
western frontier of Egypt another 
native storm was brewing in the 
Anglo- Egyptian Soudan, where, for 
some months previously, the attitude 
of Ali Dinar, the Sultan of Darfur, 
was officially described as "unsatis- 
factory and truculent". Darfur had 
remained the only province within the 

Inspector on the border. One of 
them, according to Lord Crewe, in 
discussing these developments in the 
House of Lords in the following June, 
was couched in the most lurid terms, 
being addressed, with a sort of grim 
humour, to "the Government of Hell 
in Kordofan and the Inspector of 
Flames at Nahud ", and expressed a 
determination to inflict upon all infidels 

The Duke of Westminster's Armoured Cars in Action: the raid on the Senussi camp — continued 

from the opposite page 

Anglo- Egyptian sphere of influence 
which had not yet been brought 
directly under the control of Khartoum, 
though subject to an annual tribute of 
^500. The Sultan, an uneducated 
and fanatical type of Moslem, began 
intriguing in 191 5 with the Senussi 
and other tribes obviously misled by 
Turco-German propaganda, and early 
in February of the following year 
concentrated a threatening force on 
the Kordofan frontier at Jebel el Hella. 
He then addressed violent letters to 
the Governor of Kordofan and the 

those combined punishments in this 
world and the next which the Moslem 
was in the fortunate position of being 
able to distribute. Obviously Ali 
Dinar was sadly in need of a lesson, 
and not only in the interests of our- 
selves but also in those of the French, 
whose colony of Wadi bordered on 
the western side of Darfur. 

I n March, 1 9 1 6, therefore, the Sirdar, 
Sir Reginald Wingate, ordered a mixed 
force of all arms to assemble at Nahud 
under Colonel Kelly, in readiness to 
crush the truculent Sultan's power for 


The Great World War 

Principal tracks ■ 
Railways .... 


mischief. Um Shenga and Jebel el 
Hella were occupied before the end 
of the month, and a further move for- 
ward was subsequently made to Abiad, 
where preparations were completed 
for the final advance on EI Fasher, 
Ali Dinar's capital. The whole plan 
of campaign went like clockwork, in 
spite of the fact that communications 
extended some 300 miles through a 
country devoid of any means of trans- 
port. El Fasher fell on May 23, the 
very day fixed for its occupation in 
the original plan. The 
final advance had be- 
gun eight days before, 
the main action being 
fouorht near the villaoe 
of Berinsfia, twelve 
miles north of the capi- 
tal. Here the enemy, 
between 2000 and 
3000 strong, held a 
strongly entrenched 
position, but on the morning of May 22 
was induced by the Egyptian Camel 
Corps to leave this stronghold and at- 
tack our troops, which they did with 
the utmost rapidity and desperation. 
Their reckless courage was of no avail 
against the steady fire which mowed 
them down as with scythes, only a 
handful penetrating to within ten yards 
of our lines. Then our troops counter- 
attacked, totally defeating the enemy, 
whose minimum losses were estimated 
at 1000. Our casualties amounted only 
to five killed and 23 wounded. The 
Sultan's best troops were present, and 
most of his leading commanders were 
accounted for at the time, or subse- 
quently surrendered. Ali Dinar him- 
self when last seen was flying with a 

small following towards the mountain 
range of Jebel Marra, to the south- 
west of El Fasher — faced by a journey 
of one and a half days before he could 
reach that lofty hiding-place. 

A thrillino- feature of the figrhtinof 
was the effective work, both before 
and during the action, of an officer 
of the Royal Flying Corps, who 
succeeded by means of bombs and 
machine-gun fire in compelling first 
a large body of hostile cavalry, and 
then a force of some 2000 infantry, to 

Map illustrating the Successful Operations against the Sultan of Darfur 

retire in disorder. This gallant officer, 
who, unfortunately, remained anony 
mous in the War Office account, was 
himself wounded by a bullet in the 
thigh, but returned safely to Abiad. 
For the rest the success was a triumph 
for Egyptian arms — for the force en- 
gaged was purely Egyptian- — and the 
British officers in command, as well 
as for the British officials whose sound 
judgment and excellent organization 
had been conspicuous throughout. 

" The plan.s", as Lord Crewe bore witness 
in the House of Lords on June 27, 1916, 
" were most carefully drawn, and the exe- 
cution was rapid and prompt. It was just 
what would be expected of Sir R. Wingate, 
who was one of the most brilliant repre- 
sentatives of that type of soldier-adminis- 

I'he Hen to the British Throne in Egypt: Captain H.K. H. the Prince of Wales at an Inspection of Anzacs- 

vvith General Birdwood riding on his right 


The Great World War 

trator of whom the history of our govern- 
ment of India and the Soudan had given 
many examples. Sir Reginald was admir- 
ably supported by his head-quarters staff. 
A word of commendation should be given 
to the young officials, many of them of short 
service, who carried on the administration 
with such success under the Sirdar, and to 
the officer who carried out the military part 
of the expedition with the utmost care and 
with the success which all were glad to re- 
cognize." ^ 

It was immediately before this ex- 
pedition that the Prince of Wales paid 
his first visit to the Soudan, arriving 
on April 3 at Khartoum, where, as at 
Omdurman and elsewhere, his presence 
did much to prove again the feelings 
of loyalty to the British Crown. His 
Royal Highness was received at Khar- 
toum by Sir Reginald Wingate, and 
drove through the town amid scenes 
of great popular enthusiasm to the 
Palace, in the gardens of which officers 
and native chiefs from all parts of the 
Soudan had assembled to meet him. 
Many of the chiefs were wearing the 
medal presented to them by King 
George on the occasion of his Majesty's 
visit with the Queen a little over four 
years previously. 

The Prince of Wales had arrived 
in Egypt about a month before his 
visit to the Soudan, having been 
appointed Staff Captain to the General 
Officer Commanding- in-Chief the 

^ The conquest of Darfur was completed in the follow- 
ing November, when the last of the rebels were rounded 
up and the ex-Sultan Ali Dinar himself was killed. 

Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. 
He had been gazetted to his captaincy 
on March 10, 1916, before leaving 
France, where his keenness, pluck, 
and modesty had won golden opinions 
among all ranks of the army, as well 
as the Military Cross for distinguished 
service. He had seen a good deal of 
the French front — where he received 
the Croix de Guerre from the Presi- 
dent of the Republic in October, 191 5 
— as well as the British, and was later 
to pay a visit to the Italian theatre of 
war. His appointment to the Egyp- 
tian Expeditionary Force created in- 
tense satisfaction throughout the army 
engaged in the defence of that much- 
threatened land, especially among the 
Australian and New Zealand troops, 
many of them veterans of the Gallipoli 
campaign. The Prince himself took 
the deepest interest in the work of all 
the divisions in the field, proving his 
physical fitness on several occasions 
by riding across long stretches of the 
Egyptian desert under the scorching 
sun to examine the front-line trenches. 
One day he attended an inspection of 
the Australian Infantry Brigade and 
Artillery by Sir Archibald Murray, at 
the close of which the " Anzacs", being 
permitted to fall out on the parade 
ground, rushed to line the route back 
to Head-quarters, all joining in a 
memorable demonstration in His 
Royal Highness's honour. 

F. A. M. 

The Persistence of the Submarines 




(January-May, 19 16) 

The Character of the Period — The Persistence of the Submarines — The Armed Merchant Ship — The 
New German " Ruthlessness" and its Effects — The Diminution of Merchant Tonnage for Trade — The 
Career of the Mows — The Action of the Alccmtara and Consorts with the 6^r^z/— The Raid of April 25 
— Mr. Balfour's Assurance^Increased Force of the British Fleet. 

WHEN looked at as a whole, 
the naval operations of the 
first five months of 191 6 
(and the remark holds good of later 
times) show us the constant move- 
ments, successful and unsuccessful, of 
the submarine, the sudden blows of the 
mine, and the occasional dash of the 

The survival of the submarines was 
of the nature of a disappointment. 
What was proved to be a premature 
hope that means had been found for 
limiting^ their rang^e of action at least 
very closely had been felt in 19 15. 
The First Lord, Mr. Balfour, had used 
rather indefinite but none the less de- 
cidedly optimistic language, and it had 
spread a general confidence. The 
measures of precaution taken were 
partly of a passive nature — nets, for 
instance, spread across approaches to 
harbours and narrow passages of sea. 
By their very success these guards 
tended to force the under-water craft 
of the enemy to act in open waters. 
But measures of a more drastic char- 
acter were taken. A special maritime 
force, drawn mainly from the fisher- 
men, was organized for the purpose 
of hunting down the submarines and 
helping the vessels they attacked. It 
was formed on a large scale, for it was 

reported to have employed a hundred 
thousand men. The operations of this 
guard were composed of innumerable 
separate cruises and actions. The 
methods adopted and the instruments 
used were, as a matter of course, kept 
secret, but the Admiralty allowed 
Mr. Noyes to repeat many stories of 
the feats and the sufi^erings of the 
" trawler " crews, in The Times at the 
end of August and beginning of Sep- 
tember, 19 1 6. This preventive service 
was busy in every scene of naval opera- 
tions. Yet all the vigilance and acti- 
vity of light cruisers, trawlers, and 
destroyers, and all minor successes, 
which were numerous on the side of 
the Allies, and occasional on the side 
of the enemy, failed to prevent the 
far-ranging sweep of a kind of vessel 
which can act in concealment and 
move below the surface. 

It lay in the conditions of the war 
that more successes should be achieved 
by the Central Powers — for the Aus- 
trians rivalled the Germans in this 
field — than by the Allies. The chief 
prey of the submarine was the mer- 
chant ship, and as the Allies had many 
more tradino--vessels on sea than their 
opponents, who were practically limited 
to the Baltic, they had many more to 
lose. This form of war on commerce 

Drawn by G H Davis 

With the Naval Auxiliaries in the North Sea: the fast motor craft which help to guard our shores 


The War on Merchant Ships 


played so large a part in the five 
months of war we are now dealing 
with that it calls for special notice, 
and for some statement of certain 

A merchant ship is essentially a non- 
combatant, and therefore not liable to 
be assailed in the same way as a man- 
of-war. It is liable to be captured, 
and to be taken into a port as a prize. 
When the captor cannot, or, for reasons 
which seem to him sufficient, does not 
choose to, carry her or send her into 
harbour, he can destroy her, but on the 
understandino^, to which all civilized 
nations had agreed, that he saves the 
crew and such passengers as she may 
carry. It has therefore been a fixed 
rule that when a merchant ship is 
sighted by an enemy she must be 
called on to surrender. If she en- 
deavours to make off, or shows fight, 
then she may be dealt with as a fight- 
ing-vessel — that is to say, be attacked 
by arms, subdued, or destroyed. But 
the case is not so simple as, on a mere 
statement of the general principle, it 
looks. A custom, datino- from ancient 
times, when piracy was rife on all seas, 
had permitted the merchant ship to 
carry arms for her own defence. The 
proposal to forbid the carrying of guns 
by merchant ships has been made, but 
it has been opposed, notably by the 
United States, on the ground that it 
would encourage piracy. There are 
many instances in naval history in 
which merchant ships have fought 
actions, fortunate or the reverse, not 
only with sloops or privateers, but 
with frigates. 

The ancient usage prevailed without 
arousing ill feeling or dispute until the 

war which began in 19 14. In this 
struggle the introduction of the sub- 
marine made a great difference. There 
is no objection to the use of the sub- 
marine as a commerce-destroyer on 
grounds of principle, provided she acts 
subject to the rules adopted for other 
cruisers. But the Germans had from 
the first shown little regfard for those 
rules. The case of the Ltisitania is 
enough to prove how ruthless they 
could be, and at the close of 191 5 
several other examples, which differed 
from this one only in the magnitude 
of the loss of life incurred, were given, 
notably in the eastern Mediterranean 
and on the coast of Crete. The Ja- 
panese Yasaka Maru, the French 
Ville de la Cititat, the P. and O. 
packet Persia, and other trading or 
passenger vessels of less importance 
were sent to the bottom by sudden 
attack. When charged with violatinor 
the old laws of nations the Germans 
either allecred that these unfortunate 
ships were carrying military stores, 
and therefore were employed for a 
warlike purpose, and so not entitled 
to be ranked as non-combatants, or 
they made use of an argument based 
on the nature of the submarine, and 
the alleged policy of the British Ad- 
miralty. They pointed out that the 
submarine is in herself very delicate 
and easily damaged. If. therefore, 
she approaches an armed merchant 
ship for the purpose of summoning 
her crew to surrender, she may be 
crippled by a single shot. And they 
pointed out that the British Admiralty 
had encouraged merchant ships to 
carry guns for their own protection, 
and to fire on the submarine at sight. 


The Great World War 

They drew the deduction that all 
British trading-vessels were provided 
with the means of acting as war-ships, 
and directed so to act against sub- 
marines. Therefore they were to be 
treated on the footing of war-ships — 
that is to say, to be considered liable 
to be attacked, without previous sum- 
mons, from below the surface and with 
the torpedo. 

If it were possible to discuss such a 
question apart from all considerations 
of humanity, we would be forced to 
allow that there was force in the Ger- 
man contention. A merchant ship 
which opens fire on a hostile man-of- 
war does herself play the part of a 
war-ship, and cannot claim to be other- 
wise treated. If we did not know 
what the previous conduct of the Ger- 
mans had been, we might judge that 
the Admiralty was in error when it 
encouraged merchant ships to go 
armed. There would appear to be 
no more reason why the non-com- 
batant afloat should be more free to 
use arms than he is on shore. But 
the Germans had shown a perfect 
readiness to assail merchant ships as 
if they were men-of-war. The use of 
guns for their protection was recom- 
mended because it had been already 
proved that they were subject to attack 
without warning, while the Germans, 
taking advantage of their own wrong, 
made the fact that certain merchant 
ships would be found to carry guns 
an excuse for refusing to treat any of 
them as non-combatants. 

In the beginning of the year 191 6 
an intense asfitation was begrun in 
Germany in favour of giving a far 
greater degree of rigour to the conduct 

of naval operations. The chief theo- 
retical exponent of this doctrine was 
Count Reventlow, a well-known writer 
on naval subjects, but it was notorious 
that the same views were held by 
Admiral von Tirpitz, the minister for 
the navy. The Admiral had sufficient 
influence to impose his policy on his 
Government. It was definitely adopted 
as from March i, 1916, after which 
date merchant ships were to be at- 
tacked without previous summons. At 
the same time the German Govern- 
ment, througrh all its wireless stations 
(on April 29), published a list of cases 
which it professed to consider as 
justifying its decision. They ranged 
in dates from June 3, 191 5, to January 
17, 1 9 16. Not the least curious feature 
of this apology was that some of the in- 
stances given, of the abuse of the use 
of arms by merchant ships, only proved 
that the possession of even a small gun 
could be an effective protection. The 
most typical of them all was this: — 

''June 14, 191 5. — West Hebrides, about 
30 miles from Lewis, two unknown steamers 
sailing close to each other opened fire, both 
at about 4000 metres, against a submarine 
with small-bore guns from the stern. The 
impacts were very poor on the side of the 
submarine, but she submerged quickly and 
continued to remain deep down, seeing that 
the submarine attack would have been with- 
out any chance of success." 

It is obvious that a vessel which 
was warned off by shots of a "very 
poor impact " must have been conscious 
of sfreat weakness. But another case 
quoted was almost equally significant 
for a different reason. 

''November 3, 191 5. — In the western Medi- 
terranean the British transport Woodfield6\<\ 

New Campaign of Ruthlessness 


not stop at a warning shot, but returned the 
fire at 6000 metres with a small gun. It was 
stopped by artillery-fire and sunk later on. 
I'rom the list of the steamer's crew it is 
evident that there was a gun captain and 
naval gunners amongst them." 

Now what this case proved was 
clearly that some submarines at least 
could safely act as any other cruiser 
would — and use the gun only. They 
had, on the showing- of the German 
Government itself, no need to strike 
from below the surface with the tor- 
pedo and without warning. The real 
explanation of the line taken by the 
German Government was shrouded 
rather than revealed by these and such 
like apologies. The true purpose 
was to provide a colourable excuse 
for a oeneral attack on all vessels 
without regard to nationality which 
were employed in bringing cargoes to 
Great Britain. The list cited in- 
stances, such, for example, as that of 
the S.S. Melanie in the middle Medi- 
terranean on January 17, 19 16, in 
which the British vessel showed neutral 
colours. The argument, though so- 
phistical, was sufficiently intelligible. 
If a submarine could not be expected 
to run the risk of exposing herself to 
the fire of a merchant ship's guns, if 
all merchant vessels were presumably 
armed, and if the flag shown by them 
was no guarantee of nationality, it 
seemed to follow that the submarine 
must either cease to act as a commerce- 
destroyer at all or must assail every 
tradinof - craft, without reoard to the 
colours shown, as if it were a war- 
ship. The first of these alternatives 
could not have been accepted in 
Great Britain, whose submarines were 

Vol. V. 

employed as commerce-destroyers in 
the Baltic, though with more humanity 
than was usual among the Germans. 
They on their part claimed to act on 
the second. 

The first days of the new campaign 
of ruthlessness were not notable for 
any change in the conditions of trade 
at sea; but the Germans were un- 
doubtedly acting on a plan and with 
prepared means. The fact that be- 
tween April I and 30 eighty -four 
merchant ships, of which about a 
fourth were neutrals, were destroyed 
by submarine attack is sufficient evi- 
dence that the German menace was 
not wholly idle. The loss of the 
neutrals fell on all maritime peoples, 
from Norway to Spain. The purpose 
of this indiscriminate assault was un- 
questionably that defined by Mr. 
Houston, the well-known Liverpool 
shipowner, at the beginning of April. 
It was to deter neutrals from bringing 
cargoes of food and raw material to 
Great Britain, and thereby produce a 
failure of supplies and a rise in prices 
which could not fail to cause great 
distress in this country. 

We cannot deny that the loss of 
shipping produced by this and by 
another form of attack about to be 
mentioned was more serious than it 
w ould appear to be when it is merely 
deducted from the total of our merchant 
navy. So large a proportion of the 
national tonnage — it was allowed to 
amount to nearly a half — was unavoid- 
ably diverted to military purposes that 
the deduction made in these ways from 
the portion left available for trade was 
sensible. The defect of British ship- 
ping was to a great extent made good 

207 203 


The Great World War 

by neutrals. It was recorded, for in- 
stance, that one Norwegian sailing 
vessel of the venerable age of 127 
years was employed at high freights 
for lack of a more modern carrier. 
If the neutrals could have been terri- 
fied into withdrawing, the injury caused 

Central Powers. The loss of Ameri- 
can lives in the Channel packet Sussex, 
which was torpedoed in the Channel 
(March 24), and the sinking of the 
American S. S. Petrolite by an Austrian 
submarine in the Mediterranean pro- 
duced international dangrers which 


i lie iurpedoing of the Channel Steamer Sussex: view of the vessel beached at Boulogne, showing 
how the bows were blown clean off by the explosion 

would have been serious in the last 
degree. But the policy of striking at 
Great Britain through them entailed 
one formidable danger for Germany. 
The neutral can be injured with im- 
punity when weak; but the United 
States were very strong, and when 
their shipping and citizens were in- 
jured they protested with a force 
which compelled attention from the 

they could not venture to face. But 
the dispute was a diplomatic one, and 
hardly belongs to the present subject, 
and then it produced its full effect at 
a rather later period than that with 
which we are dealing. On the whole 
the German campaign failed to justify 
the policy of Admiral Tirpitz — and the 
failure was no doubt the real reason 
for the eclipse which overtook him. 

The Stigma of Barbarity 


The results of the German sub- 
marine operations must of course be 
given in the bulk and by the aid of 
figures; but their character, their in- 
humanity, and essentially uncivilized 
quality must be shown by particular 
cases. There is an eloquence beyond 
all rhetoric in the simple statement of 
the Admiralty that: — 

" The British steamship Zent^ unarmed, 
was sunk by torpedo from a submarine on 
April 5, 10.10 p.m., without any warning 
whatever. She never saw the submarine. 
She sank in a very few minutes, and conse- 
quently forty-nine lives were lost." 

There is no sophistry which can 
conceal the fact that an act of this 
kind is essentially savage. But even 
when the submarine does not deliber- 
ately kill wholesale, when she allows 
the crew to get away in the boats, the 
humanity shown may be no greater. 
Let us take the case of the S.S. Coquet y 
destroyed in the Mediterranean on 
January 4, 191 6, by an Austrian sub- 
marine. In this case the captain, A. 
C. B, Groom, and his crew of thirty- 
one were allowed to take to the boats. 
But they were far off land, the weather 
was rough, and the boats were leaky. 
Captain Groom expostulated with the 
Austrian commander, saying that it 
was no better than murder to send 
men away in such conditions. The 
Austrian officer laughed and replied 
that he would spare the next steamer 
he met and send her to look after 
them. The boats separated in the 
rough weather. The fate of one re- 
mained unknown; the other reached 
the coast of Africa in six days. Here 
Captain Groom, who was in it, and 
those who were with him were attacked 

by Bedouins. Two men and a boy 
were killed. Ten were taken prisoners. 
Captain Groom and one man who 
were left for dead were rescued by 
an Italian steamer. In this case the 
fate of those who perished was only 
postponed and made worse by the 
comparative moderation of the Aus- 
trian. And this was inevitable, for 
since the submarine cannot carry pri- 
soners with her, at least not more than 
two or three, she needs must leave 
the crews of ships destroyed to the 
mercy of winds and waves. And this 
fact alone stamps a submarine warfare 
on commerce with the stio^ma of essen- 
tial barbarity. 

The scattering of mines is but an- 
other form of the same evil method, 
at least when they are not used as 
defences, but are laid on trade routes. 
The destruction of H.M.S. King Ed- 
ward VII m the North Sea on Janu- . 
ary 9, 191 6, of the cruiser Aretlmsa, 
also in the North Sea, carrying the 
broad pennant of Commodore Regi- 
nald W. Tyrwhitt, on February 14, 
and of the battleship Rzissell in the 
Mediterranean on May 4, was due to 
mines. As they were war-ships, they 
stand on a different footing/ from 
non-combatants; but the peril which 
proved fatal to them was no less dis- 
astrous to the P. and O. mail steamer 
Maloj'a, which perished on a mine be- 
tween Dover and Folkestone on April 
30, with the loss of 155 lives. And 
the Maloja was one of many British 
and neutral ships which were shattered 
wholly or in part by the same means. 

While the German submarines were 
doing their worst in European waters, 
one of the livelier episodes of the war 


The Great World War 

ran its course in the Atlantic. The 
successful commerce-destroying cruise 
of the armed German S.S. Mdivc (i.e. 
Sea-gull), and her safe return to a home 
port, constituted an achievement of 
which the enemy had no cause to be 
ashamed, and was one we could hear 
of without bitterness. It was no doubt 
rather disappointing to have to learn 
that on January i6, and at a spot 60 
miles to the north of Madeira, the 
S.S. Appani, of the Elder- Dempster 
line, had been captured by a German 
cruiser, and had (what was even less 
welcome) been carried across the At- 
lantic to Norfolk, in Virginia, as a 
prize. And this capture was by no 
means the whole of the captor's suc- 
cess. Up to March 4, on which day 
her return was announced, she had 
destroyed or taken thirteen British 
steamers, of 52,901 tons in all, and of 
a total value of ^2,000,000 in round 

The history of the Moive is one for 
which there are many precedents, and 
which will have, we may be sure, imita- 
tors in all sea wars. She was built, not 
as a fighting ship, but as a fruit-carrying 
boat, at Geestemiinde, on the Weser. 
The line of trade she was intended to 
follow required that she should possess 
a good rate of speed, and speed was 
precisely the quality most needed for 
the military work she was appointed 
to perform. It was easy to strengthen 
such a ship so as to enable her to carry 
a battery which would be heavy enough 
to overpower an armed merchantman. 
The command was given to Com- 
mander Captain the Burggraff Count 
Nikolaus zu Dohna Schlodien, a naval 
officer. Captain Dohna Schlodien was 

allowed to publish a narrative of his 
cruise. It gives a lively, and on the 
whole quite credible, account of the 
successful career of such a craft as his. 
The Moive escaped from a German 
port, which he does not name, at the 
very end of 191 5. She was carefully 
disguised, but her success in getting 
away was due to the thick weather 
and to luck in hot meet'io" a British 
cruiser. After running up the coast 
of Norway, the Mowe stood over to 
the British coast to lay mines in less 
than thirty fathoms. Thick and stormy 
weather, again aided by luck, enabled 
her captain to cast the mines. The 
German Government claim, with prob- 
ability if not with truth, that the 
King Edwai'd VII was lost on them. 
When that first duty had been per- 
formed the Moive steered for her 
cruisingr-oround. It was one familiar 
to privateers and pirates in former 
times; it was on the coast and on 
the seas adjoining the north-west 
corner of Africa. The extent of the 
injury she inflicted on British com- 
merce has been stated, and she did 

One of the Forward Guns of the German Raider Mowe 

The Mowe had two guns in the fo'c'sle concealed hehmd hinged 
steel plates. The plates were dropped when the raider prepared 
for action, exposing the gun as shown in the illustration. 

The '' Mowe " and her Methods 


The Mowe's 5.7 Gun, Concealed and as Ready for Action 

The illustrations show the method of conceaUng the raider's stern 
gun, which was hidden beneath the casing ordinarily used to cover 
the hand steering-gear of a tramp steamer. The removal of a few 
bolts caused the casing to drop flat on the deck, revealing the gun 
ready for action. 

some further harm to the French and 
the Belgians. In one case she was 
resisted. The S.S. C/aji MacTavish 
made a fight, but was sunk. Her 
captain proved his spirit by his man- 
ful conduct, but the result of the en- 
counter must be accepted as a proof 
that no mere armed merchant-ship can 
hope to defeat a vessel specially fitted 
for war, even though the assailant be 
originally of the same class as herself 
The method of the Mowe and of all 
commerce-destroyers of her kind is 
adequately illustrated by the story of 
the Appavi. 

The Appam, a steamer of 7781 tons, 
taken just before the sinking of the 
Clan MacTavish, was on her way from 
Dakkar to Plymouth, and had aboard 
301 individuals, crew and passengers. 
Among these were Sir Edward and 
Lady Merewether, who were on their 
way from Sierra Leone to the Leeward 

Islands, of which Sir Edward had 
been appointed governor. The actual 
capture cannot be better told than in 
the words of the Appanis commander, 
Captain H. E. Harrison: 

" The day was bright and clear when the 
Appavi was captured. She was travelling 
at a fair rate of speed when we sighted what 
appeared to be an ordinary tramp steamer, 
which was gradually coming closer. We 
feared no danger and made no preparations 
to resist, as we were not expecting any 
attack. Suddenly the tramp fired across 
our bows. I immediately hove to. Simul- 
taneously the tramp's false forecastle head, 
which was apparently made of canvas, fell 
away, revealing a battery of huge guns. 
We surrendered without offering any re- 

If the Appain had been on the out- 
look for an attack, and had made a 
fight, she would certainly have shared 
the fate of the Clan MacTavish. As 
she carried a number of interned Ger- 
mans among her passengers, the captors 
were well able to take the course they 
did, which was to arm their rescued 
countrymen, put other prisoners they 
had in their hands into the Appain, 
and send her under command of a 
prize-master to Norfolk. The British 
captives were released by the Govern- 
ment of the United States, but the 
status of the Appani was a subject of 
diplomatic controversy. When the 
Mbive reached home, again with the 
help of thick weather and luck, she had 
still with her, according to the German 
authorities, " four British officers, 20 
British marines and sailors, and 166 
men, crews of enemy ste.imers (among 
them 103 Indians) as prisoners, and 
^50,000 in gold bars". The German 


The Great World War 

public, which had not had many occa- 
sions for legitimate rejoicing over 
achievements at sea, was pardonably 
elated by the M'dwes cruise. It may 
be allowed on our part that her cap- 
tain and his subordinates appeared to 
have acted with humanity. 

Yet the Germans would have made 

merce-destroyer, the Greif, made an 
effort to slip through the British watch. 
She came out disguised with the Nor- 
wegian colours painted on her side. 
According to the rule accepted by all 
nations, it is an abuse to fire while 
showing neutral colours. But the only 
colours which must be taken to indi- 

Drdwn by G. H. Da> 

The Gallant End of the Clan MacTavish: the Britisn merchantman sinking after her fight with the 
German commerce-destroyer Afowe 

a great mistake if they had concluded 
that the career of the Mowe was more 
than a fortunate exception in a story 
of general failure. Before she escaped 
to the open ocean, other vessels — the 
Meteor for one — had tried and had 
not succeeded. The fate of one which 
attempted to repeat her achievement 
only proved how firm the hold of the 
British navy on the North Sea con- 
tinued to be. On February 29, four 
hours before the return of the Moive 
was announced, another German com- 

cate nationality are those displayed at 
the flagstaff at the stern. When placed 
at any other point they may be used 
as signals or for ornament, but they 
do not indicate nationality. The Ger- 
mans had, therefore, a technical right 
to claim that they could not be said to 
fioht under Norweoian colours because 
they were painted on her side. But 
the plea was a somewhat pettifogging 
one, and the act went, to say the least of 
it, far to being a mean abuse of neutral 
colours. She was met by the A lean- 

The Bombardment of Lowestoft 


tara, a fine large vessel built for the 
Royal Mail Steam Packet Company 
as late as 19 14. The Alcantara was 
an armed steamer in Government ser- 
vice, and was commanded by Captain 
T. E. Wardle, R.N. The end of the 
Greif shows what would have been 
the fate of the Mowe if she had been 
less fortunate. The German ship, on 
being summoned, opened fire on the 
Alcantara. In the action which fol- 
lowed both were sunk, the German 
by gun-fire and the British ship by a 
torpedo. Before the action was con- 
cluded anotherarmed merchant cruiser, 
the Andes, came up and aided in the 
destruction of the German ship. Ac- 
cording to the German official account, 
the 6^r^z/"engaged three British cruisers 
and a destroyer. If this could have 
been shown to be true it would only 
have proved how numerous and effec- 
tive was the British watch. But as 
the survivors of the Gi^eif's crew, 5 
officers and 115 men, were taken pri- 
soners, and, of course, secluded, the 
German Government could not know 
either the number of the Greif's op- 
ponents or, as it also alleged, that her 
crew blew her up. The British loss 
was 5 officers and 65 men. Captain 
Wardle received the Distinguished 
Service Order for his services in the 
action, and the same honour was con- 
ferred on Engineer Lieutenant -Com- 
mander C. A. R. Williams, R.N.R., 
for his services in charge of the engine- 

A raid of another and less legitimate 
order than that which the Greif was 
intended to carry out took place on 
April 25, at the same time as certain 
events in Ireland, which cannot be 

said to belong properly to the naval 
operations of the war, though they 
did include the landing of the former 
Sir Roger Casement, and an attempt 
to land arms in Ireland. The pro- 
motion of a treasonable outbreak 
which could bring only disaster to all 
concerned was an act morally on a 
level with the bombardment of un- 
fortified or only technically fortified 
coast towns. 

On April 23 the Germans repeated 
their performances of November 3 
and December 16, 191 5. As an opera- 
tion of war the raid was insignificant. 
The German squadron of battle- 
cruisers, attended by light craft, ap- 
peared about daybreak off Lowestoft, 
fired some shells into that town, fired 
also at some small coast -defence 
patrols and cruisers, and then vanished, 
followed by air-craft. The Admiralty 
statement records that: 

" About 4.30 on Tuesday morning the 
German battle -cruiser squadron accom- 
panied by light cruisers and destroyers 
appeared off Lowestoft. The local naval 
forces engaged it, and in about twenty 
minutes it returned to Germany, chased 
by our light cruisers and destroyers. On 
shore two men, one woman, and a child 
were killed; the material damage done 
seems to have been insignificant. So far 
as is known at present two British light 
cruisers and a destroyer were hit, but none 
were sunk." 

The Germans claimed to have sunk 
a destroyer and two patrol boats. 
Among the latter was the trawler 
King Stephen, whose crew were taken 
prisoners. Yarmouth was fired into 
at the same time, and the German 
Admiralty assured the world that 


The Great World War 

" fortifications and important military 
buildings were damaged ". 

The general impression produced 
by this episode was not unnaturally 
that the German aim was simply to 
injure and terrify the civil population. 
There can be no question that if such 
assaults were to be frequently repeated, 
and at short intervals, with impunity, 
the harm done to those immediately 
assailed would be cumulative and 

was promptly given in the form of a 
letter for publication written on the 
same day. A good part of this reply 
may be said, without disrespect, to 
have consisted of soothing assurances 
and oeneralities. Mr. Balfour dwelt 
on the brutality of such destructive 
attacks, the risks they entailed for the 
Germans, the little effect they could 
produce on the naval supremacy of 
Great Britain, and other such topics. 

The Matron's Room 

Effects of Shell-fire 

After the German Naval Attack on Lowestoft : views of the wrecked convalescent home — one of the 

houses damaged by gun-tire 

might become intolerable. Lowestoft 
and Yarmouth are important towns. 
The townsmen might well feel entitled 
to ask that the British Fleet should 
not only be so disposed as to be in a 
position to stop all attempts of the 
enemy to treat them as a species of 
whipping-boy for the whole country. 
They had now had three experiences of 
this kind, and this time they protested. 
A deputation from the two towns, 
headed by their mayors, waited on 
the First Lord of the Admiralty on 
Monday, May 8, to put the case before 
him. Mr. Balfour, who received them, 
promised a public statement, which 

But he recoornized that even half-hour 
bombardments may produce "anxiety 
and in some cases even terror " to 
the sufferers. He undertook to give 
reasons why confidence should be felt 
for the future. The most substantial 
part of his assurances lay in these 

" In the earlier stages of the war con- 
siderations of strategy required us to keep 
our battle fleets in more northern waters. 
Thus situated they could concentrate effec- 
tually against any prolonged operation such 
as those involved in an attempt at invasion, 
but not against brief dashes effected under 
cover of night. But with the progress of 

Lessons of the Lowestoft Raid 

the war our maritime position has improved. 
Submarines and monitors, which form no 
portion of the Grand Fleet itself, are now 
available in growing numbers for coast de- 
fences, and, what is even more important, 
the increase in the strength of the Grand 
Fleet itself enables us to bring important 
forces to the south without in the least 
imperilling our naval preponderance else- 

There is what is grandiosely called 
"a school of naval thought", that is 
to say, a number of persons who talk 
very loosely, who describe all measures 
of local defence as meant to soothe 
the fears of old women of both sexes. 
The people of Lowestoft, who had now 
suffered three such attacks, and had 
suffered loss of life and property, might 
fairly ask whether the British navy 
did not exist for the defence of the 
whole country, and whether an im- 
portant part of the country was to be 
left exposed to constant attack in defer- 
ence to "a school of naval thought" 
which applied an orthodox doctrine 
with pedantry. When we look at 
the German operations on April 25 
in connection with former and later 
events we can well believe that they 

were designed to provoke a separation 
of British forces which would enable 
an attack to be made on the North 
Sea Fleet with a better chance of 
success than if it were to be found 
united at one spot. But in view of 
Mr. Balfour's declaration, which was 
of course made on behalf of the whole 
Board, the people of Lowestoft and 
Yarmouth were entitled to believe that 
the numbers of the British Fleet had 
now reached a level which made it 
safe to station an effective part of the 
whole to protect a portion of the coast 
so open to attack, and so often at- 
tacked. Since that was happily the 
case the neglect to provide defence for 
the future would have been unpardon- 
able. It is true that the fleet or 
army which tries to protect every- 
thing at once often ends by protect- 
ing nothing. The defence is liable to 
be everywhere weak, and therefore 
to be broken down by a concentrated 
attack. And this is particularly the 
case in naval warfare, since it is not 
possible to trench the sea. Yet con- 
centration may be exaggerated, and 
all principles must be applied with 
discretion. £) j-^ 


The Great World War 



General Townshend's Gallant Leadership— His Fighting Retreat from Ctesiphon— The Rattle at 
Um Al Tubal — Installed at Kut-el-Amara — The Town and the British Lines — Safe Dispatch of 
Prisoners and Cavalry Brigade— Relief Force concentrating at Imam Ali Gherbi— Kut completely Sur- 
rounded— Nur-ed-Din's Premature Summons to Surrender— Weeks of Desperate Fighting— The Battle 
of Christmas Eve, 191 5— New Tactics of Besiegers— A Blockade Investment— Losses of the Garrison- 
Advance of General Aylmer's Relieving Force— Sir Percy Lake succeeds Sir John Nixon in Supreme 
Command— General Aylmer's Victory at Sheikh Saad— His Costly Failure at the Hannah Position— 
The Deluge— Sufferings of the Wounded— Situation of Kut Garrison— Discovery of Grain Stores— Von 
der Goltz's Arrival— Guarding the Approach to Kut— General Aylmer's Last Attempt— The Repulse at 
Es Sinn— A Golden Opportunity Lost— General Aylmer succeeded by Lieutenant-General Gorringe— 
King George's Message to General Townshend— General Townshend's Reply— Sir Percy Lake's Special 
Order to the Relief Force— Fighting the Floods— Minor Operations. 

NOW that the official dispatches 
have been pubHshed of 
General Sir John Nixon 
and his successor, Lieutenant-General 
Sir Percy Lake, covering the opera- 
tions in Mesopotamia from the closing 
months of 191 5 to the fall of Kut at 
the end of April, 19 16, it is possible 
to gather up the disconnected threads 
of our narrative of that unfortunate 
campaign. We left General Towns- 
hend at Kut on December 3, 191 5, 
after conducting his masterly retreat 
from Ctesiphon,^ not only saving his 
sick and wounded, but also keeping 
the 1350 prisoners included among the 
British spoils of that brilliant but fruit- 
less victory within a score of miles of 
Bagdad.. General Townshend's rare 
qualities as a leader had shone on the 
battle-field, but he had been tried more 
especially during the retirement. " U n- 
tiring, resourceful, and even more cheer- 
ful as the outlook grew darker," was 
Sir John Nixon's tribute, "he possesses, 
in my opinion, very special qualifica- 

1 Vol. IV, Chapter XIIL 

tions as a commander". The advance 
on Bagdad, like the advance on Con- 
stantinople by way of Gallipoli, had 
been a most gallant attempt to achieve 
what proved to be the impossible. In 
the face of the overwhelming reinforce- 
ments brought by the Turks against 
the wasted ranks of the 6th Division, 
retirement was the only alternative to 

The full story has yet to be told of 
Townshend's trying march to Kut, 
with the ever-present danger of en- 
velopment on all sides, but there is 
little doubt that it was only his timely 
retreat to Lajj under cover of darkness, 
during the night of November 25-26, 
191 5, which prevented him from being 
surrounded at Ctesiphon. From Lajj 
he reached Azizi unmolested during 
the night of November 27-28, and 
Um Al Tubal on the 30th, the Cavalry 
Brioade under Brioadier - General 
Roberts having had a brush with the 
enemy east of Kutunie on the previous 
day, when they drove back the Turks' 
advanced mounted troops who were 

Townshend's Fighting Retreat 


attacking one of our stranded gun- 
boats. The countless loops and twists 
of the Tigris which, with their shallow 
depths and shifting channels, had sorely 
handicapped the advance now added 
enormously to the dangers of the re- 
treat. The gunboats under Captain 
Nunn, D.S.O., who had distinguished 
himself in the amphibious campaign at 



English Miles 
5 '• zo 

Map illustrating General Tovvnshend's Fighting Retreat after the 
Battle of Ctesiphon, November 25-December 3, 1915 

the capture of Basra, and of Nasiriyeh 
on the Euphrates, earlier in the year, 
played a valuable part in operating on 
the left flank of the troops, and pro- 
tecting and assisting the steamers and 
barges when they grounded, but they 
themselves suffered heavy losses, in- 
cluding the Shaitan, Co7net, and Fire- 
fly, and were unable to remain in touch 
with the troops during the retirement. 
Navigating trouble with our ships in 
the shoal water about Um Al Tubal 
delayed General Townshend's main 
body on the 30th, and gave the enemy 

a dangerous opportunity of creeping 
up in force. Early that day a mixed 
brigade under Major-General Sir C. 
Mellis, V.C., consisting of infantry and 
cavalry, with a battery of the Royal 
Field Artillery, had pushed on towards 
Kut to deal with hostile mounted 
troops who had interrupted the passage 
of our steamers at Chubibat, about 
25 miles below Kut; but 
with increasing- danger to 
the main body from the 
reinforced enemy advanc- 
ing from Ctesiphon this 
mixed brigade was re- 
called, retracing its steps 
in time to share in the 
battle which ensued at 
daybreak on the follow- 
ing morning. 

General Townshend 
needed all the strength 
he could muster to ward 
off the attack launched 
on this occasion with the 
enemy's whole force. In 
the fierce fighting which 
followed a Turkish column 
attempted to envelop his 
right flank, but, quickly taking advan- 
tage of a successful counter-attack, he 
was able to break off the fight and retire 
by echelons of brigades. The whole 
movement was executed in perfect 
order under a heavy shell-fire, and by 
midday the enemy had been shaken 
off. General Townshend afterwards 
reported to Sir John Nixon "that it 
was entirely due to the splendid steadi- 
ness of the troops, and to the excellency 
of his Brigadiers, that he was able to 
repulse the enemy's determined at- 
tacks and to extricate his force from 


The Great World War 

the difficult situation in which it was 
placed " ; but all this would have availed 
little without the sound generalship 
and inspiring example of General 
Townshend himself, who, as in every 
other action in which he took part, 
remained, as Sir John Nixon bore wit- 
ness, imperturbable under the heaviest 

Major-General Sir C. Mellis, V.C., commanding the 
Mixed Brigade in General Townshend's Retreat from 

(From a photograph by Elliott & Fry) 

fire, and undisturbed in his judg- 
ment. It was no mean tribute, too, 
that the Commander-in-Chief paid to 
the officers and men of the mixed 
brigade, when he recorded that, after 
their exhaustinsf march of over 80 
miles in three days, with the battle 
thrown in, " their valour and discipline 
at the end of it were in no way 
diminished, and their losses did not 
include a single prisoner". 

Continuintr the retreat the reunited 

force reached Shadi on the night of 
December 1-2, and on the morning of 
December 3, as already mentioned, 
was installed at Kut-el-Amara, where 
it was decided that the retirement 
should end. So exhausted were the 
troops that a halt had to be called 
when within four miles of the British 
camp. For most of them there had 
been little to eat for forty-eight hours, 
and the infantry were too tired to 
move. But they had also worn out 
the enemy, and were prepared to give 
him an equally hot reception on their 
safe arrival at their destination. In 
spite of the vastly superior numbers 
which pursued them, they had inflicted 
heavy losses on the enemy during 
their rear-ouard actions, while their 
own casualties throughout the retreat 
were officially given as under 300. 

The entrenched camp at Kut was 
contained in a U-shaped loop of the 
river, forming a peninsula in the Chal- 
dean desert about a mile across, which 
was regarded as the most defensible 
position between Bagdad and the Per- 
sian Gulf. The northern defences, like 
the Krithia lines across the southern 
zone in the Gallipoli campaign, 
stretched right across the peninsula, 
and were some 3200 yards from the 
town, which will be seen in the map 
at the south-west corner of the loop. 
Above the redoubt on the northern 
lines was a bridge of boats, guarded 
by a British detached post on the op- 
posite side of the river. Another de- 
tached post was established on the 
southern bank opposite Kut, where a 
small village and liquorice factory were 
fortified and held by two battalions. 
Havino- reached his strongrhold after 

Kut Surrounded 


this fighting retreat, General Towns- 
hend had reason to beh'eve that with 
his well-tried troops, all ranks of which 
had proved themselves not once but 
many times to be soldiers of the finest 
quality, he could hold out until a re- 
lieving force arrived. Knowing that 
it could not be long before the Turks 
would be round his flanks, he at once 
set about improving the defences, and 
relieved the congestion by evacuating 
the sick and wounded, as well as the 
Turkish prisoners, the whole of the 
1350 captured at Ctesiphon having 
been safely brought away, as already 
stated. These were shipped to Basra, 
the last traffic to pass down the river 
from Townshend's stronghold being a 
hospital ship, which ran the gauntlet 
of the enemy's guns, and succeeded, 
in spite of some casualties, in making 
good her escape. The only vessel 
then left at Kut was the armed tug 
Sumana, this being retained for use 
as a ferry. The Cavalry Brigade 
and a convoy of transport were also 
marched down to Imam Ali Gherbi, 
about 50 miles below the town, before 
the enemy could effect an investment. 
One squadron was kept behind at 
Kut. The rest, hotly pursued by the 
Turks, fought their way to Imam Ali 
Gherbi, and having been reinforced 
with cavalry and guns from Basra, 
halted to form the advanced ^uard 
behind which a relief force was to be 
collected under the command of Major- 
General F. J. Aylmer, V.C. Rein- 
forcements were hurrying from over- 
seas, and measures were taken at 
Kut to prolong the siege until their 

On the day that the Cavalry Bri- 

gade left that town — December 6, 
191 5 — the enemy closed on the 
northern front, the only means of exit 
by land, and by the following day the 
position was completely cut off Nur- 
ed-Din Pasha, who, only some nine 
weeks previously, had been driven out 
of the same stronghold by General 
Townshend, was so confident that he 
now had the British commander at 
his mercy, that on December 8, after 

English Miles 
f ? 4 


CD <^ 

British Positions 
Turkish Positions 

Map illustrating the Turkish Investment of Kut 

carrying out a heavy bombardment 
from three sides, he sent in a letter 
demanding his surrender. His erst- 
while conqueror refused. Nearly five 
months were to elapse, and many 
Turkish reinforcements to be brought 
from other fields, before he was obliged 
to capitulate; and then to another 
Turkish commander; and not because 
the enemy had succeeded in securing 
a foothold anywhere within his lines, 
but solely because his gallant force, 
their scanty supplies at length ex- 
hausted, were vanquished by sheer 

starvation. Their docrcred determina- 



The Great World War 

tion and magnificent courage, as well 
as General Townshend's admirable 
dispositions for the defences of the 
position, to which Lord Kitchener 
was afterwards to accord unstinted 
praise in the House of Lords, were 
soon put to the test by the investing 
army. On the day following Nur-ed- 
Din's premature summons to surren- 
der, a heavy attack on the right bank 

special objective of the Turkish shell- 
fire and sapping operations. 

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 
of 191 5 brought this phase of the 
investment to a close with a series 
of infuriated efforts to hack a way 
through. Apparently the Turks, 
ao-ain reinforced, believed that General 
Townshend's ammunition and supplies 
were giving out, and that they had 


General View of Kut-el-Amara from the River Tigris 

forced our detachment covering the 
bridge of boats to retire, the right 
bank thereupon being occupied by the 
Turks at the bridgehead. That night 
the bridge itself was successfully de- 
molished by a party bravely led by 
Lieutenant A. B. Matthews, R.E., 
and Lieutenant R. T. Sweet, of the 
Gurkha Rifles. Attack and counter- 
attack now succeeded one another in- 
termittently till the end of the year, 
by which time the operations had 
settled down on the lines of regular 
siege warfare, the British redoubt at 
the north-east corner becoming the 

only to press the attack long enough 
to capture the position before General 
Aylmer's force, which they knew to 
be concentrating only some 50 miles 
away to the south, could come to the 
rescue. Moreover, the Anzacs and 
the British army at Suvla Bay had 
slipped from the Turkish clutches in 
Gallipoli only a few days before, and 
the news had redoubled the deter- 
mination of the Turks to seize their 
prey at Kut. During the night of De- 
cember 23-4, therefore, and through- 
out the 24th, they concentrated their 
heavy fire on the redoubt, and with 

Failure to carry Kut by Storm 


the sheer weight of one of their attacks 
succeeded at length in breaching the 
British parapet and effecting an en- 
trance. But not for long. A counter- 
attack drove them out, leaving the 
fortress a cemetery of Turkish dead. 
Returning to the attack again and 
again, the Turkish infantry continued 
the struggle far into the night, once 
more effecting a lodgment in the fort, 
and once more being ejected by its- 
heroic garrison, who included bat- 
talions both from the British and the 
Indian armies. By Christmas morn- 
ing, however, only dead and captured 
Turks remained within the British 
lines. The assault had been finally 
defeated, at a total cost to the enemy 
of about 2000 men. Our own casual- 
ties in these fierce attacks amounted 
to 315. Two days later the enemy 
asked for, and obtained, a four hours' 
armistice to bury his dead and re- 
move his wounded, who were lying 
in larg"e numbers in front of the 

The Christmas failure of the Turks 
to carry Kut by storm introduced a 
new phase in the campaign. Warned 
of the preparations for the approaching 
advance of General Aylmer's relieving 
column, the main Turkish army pro- 
ceeded to take up a position across 
his path at Sheikh Saad, some 40 
miles lower down the Tigris, the 
movement of troops in this direction 
from the Turkish head-quarters 6 miles 
above Kut beginning on December 
28, and continuing for several days. 
Sheikh Saad had previously been 
occupied only by enemy mounted 
troops. The Turks now entrenched 
themselves in force astride the river, 

3J miles east of that town, contenting 
themselves at Kut for the future with 
a blockade investment, varied by shell- 
ing the position at night with big 
guns. During the first month of the 
siege the garrison's total casualties 
were 1540 killed and wounded; and 
though the enemy's losses had been 
at least twice as heavy, these were at 
once made good. 

The chief fear in Kut was now the 
prospect of starvation and the shortage 
of ammunition, but the new year 
brought new hope to General Towns- 
hend's little army when it heard 
that General Aylmer, after several 
days of heavy fighting, had captured 
the Turkish position at Sheikh Saad 
and forced the enemy back. It is 
clear, from the subsequent dispatches 
of Lieutenant - General Sir Percy 
Lake, K.C.B., who assumed com- 
mand of the Indian Expeditionary 
Force, after serving as Chief of the 
General Staff in India, on January 19, 
1 916 — Sir John Nixon being com- 
pelled by ill-health to return home — 
that the advance of the relief force 
was unavoidably premature. At that 
time General Townshend had not 
discovered the hidden stores of grain 
which enabled him to hold out for 
some months longer, and the reports 
disclosing his anxiety regarding the 
limit of his food and ammunition sup- 
plies, and the condition of some of 
his troops, influenced Sir John Nixon 
in ordering General Aylmer to advance 
to his relief at the earliest possible 
moment. There was also the im- 
portant factor to be considered of the 
rapidity with which the Turks could 
reinforce the troops opposed to General 


The Great World War 

Townshend, and the desirability of 
forestalling" them. 

General Aylmer's leadiiio- troops, 
under Major- General Youn^husband, 
advanced from Imam Ali Gherbi on 
January 4, moving towards Sheikh 
Saad by both banks of the river, and, 
getting in touch with the enemv on 
the morning of the 6th, found him 
entrenched in considerable strength 
astride the Tigris 3^ miles east of 
Sheikh Saad. An attempt was made 
to turn his right flank, but failed, as 
Sir John Nixon afterwards explained, 
" owing to the presence of hostile 
cavalry and Arabs in superior force 
on this flank ". On the same day 
General Aylmer advanced from Imam 
Ali Gherbi widi the remainder of his 
force, and, arrivino- on the followino- 
mornino-, ordered a oreneral attack, 
Major- General Younghusband com- 
manding on the left or northern bank 
and Major-General G. V. Kemball on 
the right or southern bank. It was 
two o'clock when our troops came 
under heavy rifle and maxim fire from 
the Turkish trenches, admirably con- 
cealed, at 1 200 yards. The enemy's 
artillery was also active. The flatness 
of the mud-coloured ground offered no 
possibility of cover, and a haze made 
distance extremely deceptive to the 
advancing troops. "Nothing", wrote 
Mr. Candler, the representative of the 
British Press with the Expeditionary 
Force, " could exceed the gallantry of 
the attack. Individuals with wide ex- 
perience of fighting on the Western 
front in France said they had experi- 
enced no hotter fire at the same range 
in that campaign." After fierce fight- 
ing lastino- throuehout the rest of the 

day the Turkish trenches on the right 
bank were captured by one of our 
infantry brigades, in the face of a 
galling fire, and with the help of 
another gallant infantry flank attack. 
Some 600 prisoners and two guns 
were taken in this success, but the 
enemy still held his trenches on the 
left bank, where he was too strong to 
be dislodged. Attempts to turn his 
left flank had been checked by counter 
enveloping movements from the north, 
and by night our troops entrenched at 
a distance from 200 to 700 yards from 
the Turkish positions. 

Some of the reinforcements who 
arrived at Imam Ali Gherbi direct 
from the British base advanced next 
morning, and after a march of 20 
miles entered into action the second 
day after taking the field. Little 

Major-General Younghusband, commanding the Troops 

on the Left Bank in General Aylmer's .'\dvance 

{From a photograph by Elliott & Fry) 

General Aylmer's Early Victories 


Major-General F. J. Aylnier, V.C. , commanding the 
Tigris Column in the First Attempt to relieve Kut 

progress could be made on the 7th, 
however, owing to the fatigue of the 
troops after the wearing battle of the 
previous day, but on the 9th the 
Turks were forced to abandon their 
remaining positions before Sheikh 
Saad and to retire up stream, their 
total losses for the three days' fight- 
ing being estimated at 4500. Unfor- 
tunately, heavy rains now began to fall, 
and though the retreating foe was 
followed by General Aylmer's force, 
the roads, with the alluvial soil churned 
into mud, became almost impassable. 
For the next two days active opera- 
tions had to be suspended, the enemy 
meantime fallino- back some 10 miles 
to a position of great strategical 
strength at the junction of the Tigris 
and its tributary, the Wadi. Here, 
behind this waterway and on the 

right bank of the Tigris opposite 
Vol. v. 

its mouth, the enemy made his fresh 

Concentrating his whole force on 
the left bank of the Tigris, General 
Aylmer, after a night march on Janu- 
ary 12, advanced against the Wadi 
position on the morning of the 13th, 
supported by the guns of the river 
monitors, A frontal attack pinned the 
Turks to their entrenchments, where 
they were exposed all day to our artil- 
lery fire, another movement in the 
meanwhile being made round their 
northern flank. " Before dark ", to 
quote from Mr. Candler's account of 
the battle, "both frontal and flanking 
attacks were pushed home with great 
gallantry over ground void of cover, 
and a footing was established in the 
Turkish trenches." During the night 
the enemy again retired, leaving our 
troops in undisputed possession of the 
Wadi position, while they fell back 
another 5 miles and entrenched across 
the Umm-el- Hannah defile, bounded 
on the north by the Suwekie marsh 
and on the south by the Tigris. 
This brought them within about 25 
miles of Kut, whence the none too 
reassuring reports as to the condition 
of the beleagfuered oarrison uroed Sir 
John Aylmer to press forward without 
delay. But the weather, bad enough 
before, now became execrable. For 
several days a hurricane made navi- 
gation wellnigh impossible, and with 
a pelting rain, not only added greatly 
to the discomfort of the troops, but 
rendered movement by land most 
difficult. The river came down in 
flood and, overflowing its banks, con- 
verted the around on either side into 

a veritable bog. 

209 210 


The Great World War 

In the face of all these hardships 
General Aylmer's leading troops had 
followed the retreating Turks to the 
Umm- el -Hannah position, and en- 
trenched themselves at the mouth of 
the defile in order to shut the enemy 
in and restrict his power of taking the 
offensive; reinforcements for the main 
column were steadily pushed up the 
line; and General Aylmer was actively 
engaged in reorganizing his force for 

nah defile that General Townshend 
discovered his new sources of supplies, 
and sent word that he could hold out, 
if necessary, for another eighty-four 
days. Had the discovery been made 
but a few days sooner, the extreme 
urgency of the situation would have 
disappeared, and other dispositions 
made that might have changed the 
whole fortunes of a campaign which, 
from small beginnings, was fast grow- 

Mnp illustrating the Turkish Positions guarding the Approaches to Kut against the British Relief Force 

advancing from Imam Ali Gherbi 

a farther advance with the least pos- 
sible delay. He fully realized, as was 
pointed out by Sir Percy Lake, who 
at this juncture succeeded Sir John 
Nixon in the supreme command, that 
an immediate advance must involve 
some deficiencies in his organization 
and fighting strength, but these con- 
siderations were outweighed by the 
vital factors of General Townshend's 
apparently precarious position, and the 
desirability of forestalling the Turkish 
reinforcements. It was not until after 
the costly fighting which ensued in the 
unsuccessful attempt to force the Han- 

inof into a war of the first maornitude, 
bringing in its train first the deceptive 
promises and then the bitter disillusion- 
ments of the struggle in Gallipoli. 

The fate of that melancholy attempt 
to win through to Constantinople, now- 
sealed by the final evacuation of the 
Gallipoli peninsula on the night of 
January 8-9, 19 16, at once reacted 
on the Mesopotamian campaign, set- 
ting free the flower of the Turkish 
army to reinforce the Bagdad divisions 
to an unlimited extent. This fatal 
development, coinciding with the open- 
ing up of the through route from 

Fatal Transport Difficulties 


Germany by Belgrade and Sofia to 
Constantinople — thus paving the way 
for unrestricted remunitioning for the 
Turks — changed the entire complex- 
ion of the Mesopotamian campaign. 
German engineers were straining 
every nerve to complete the railway 
to Bagdad, and even though every 
condition of weather and tide had been 
in our favour — instead of the reverse — 
the Turks would still have been at a 
great advantage in this respect. How 
heavily we were handicapped is pointed 
out in Sir Percy Lake's first dispatch, 
describing the difficulties experienced 
in pushing up reinforcements, supplies, 
and munitions of war: — 

" The number of steamers available in 
January, 19 16, for river transport purposes 
was practically the same as when in June, 
191 5, the first advance up the Tigris took 
place. Additional river craft had from time 
to time been demanded, as augmentations 
to the force in Mesopotamia were decided 
upon, but owing to the peculiar conditions 
which vessels intended for the intricate 
navigation of the Tigris have to satisfy, the 
provision of these vessels was. a difficult 
problem, necessarily entailing long delays, 
and the supply was never able to keep pace 
with the requirements of the force. In 
consequence of this, it was never possible 
during the period now under report either 
to concentrate at the Tigris front the whole 
of the forces available in the country, or to 
equip such forces as could be concentrated 
there with sufficient transport to make them 
mobile and enable them to operate freely 
at any distance from the river. It was 
always necessary, therefore, for General 
Head-quarters to balance most carefully 
the flow of reinforcements and supplies, so 
that the former should not outrun the latter." 

When General Aylmer began his 
further advance on January 19, the 

bridge across the Wadi, to add to his 
difficulties, had been washed away 
several times by the high tides. The 
boisterous winds also had seriously 
hampered the construction of a tem- 
porary bridge across the Tigris, at this 
point not less than 400 yards across. 
As it was essential to establish artillery 
on the right or southern bank, in 
order to support by enfilade fire the 
approaching attack of our infantry on 
the Hannah position, guns and troops 
were accordingly ferried across. High 
winds and squalls of rain hampered 
these operations throughout, but by 
the 19th all troops for the right bank 
were established in their allotted posi- 
tions there, the leading infantry bri- 
gades on the left bank meantime 
pushing nearer the enemy. January 
20 was devoted to a systematic bom- 
bardment of the Turkish position, 
followed during the night by the 
advance of the infantry to within 200 
yards of the opposing trenches. 

When news first reached Great 
Britain of the disastrous fight which 
followed, the scene of action, through 
a misunderstanding of references to 
the Es Sinn position, was announced 
as within 7 miles of General Towns- 
hend's desert fortress, and the hopes 
founded on this misunderstanding- 
were doubly disappointed when it 
became known that the action had 
taken place not 7 but 23 miles from 
Kut, and had failed. The bald 
official account conveys little idea of 
the bitterness and misery of that 
black day of January 21, 1916, on the 
dreary banks of the Tigris; when the 
wounded lay out in the mud, "and the 
rain and the heavens", to quote from 


The Great World War 

Mr. Candler's account, "came down 
and threatened to put an end to all 
strife in a Qeneral inundation ". The 
Turks were holding a position of great 
natural strength, on the north bank of 
the Tigris, with their left -esting on 
the swampy marsh of Suwekie and their 
right on the river. Thus both flanks 
were secure from being turned, while 
the whole front of a mile and a half 

The Amphrbious Campaign in Mesopotamia: armed river craft in the advance 

up the Tigris 

commanded the approach over a 
level plain entirely destitute of cover. 
Knowing that the only hope of push- 
ing through to Kut was by a frontal 
attack, our infantry, as already men- 
tioned, had crept up overnight and 
pushed their advanced line to within 
200 yards of the enemy's line. 

It probably needed many more guns 
than General Aylmer had at his com- 
mand to prepare the way for victory 
under such conditions, for the pound- 
ing of the preceding day, and the 
intensive bombardment under which 

our troops advanced to the attack on 
the morning of the 21st itself, failed 
to ensure success. It also transpired 
subsequently that the wily Turk was 
by no means skulking in his trenches 
during our systematic bombardment. 
According to Mr. Candler, the enemy 
had known where to expect the attack, 
and moving along to his left and the 
Suwekie marsh, had thence enfiladed 
our advance into the 
bombarded zone. Most 
of the frontal fire came 
from his second line. 
On our left, nearest 
the river, the bom- 
bardment had suc- 
ceeded in thinning the 
Turkish ranks in the 
front - line trenches, 
thus making our task 
easier; but on our 
right the troops, deci- 
mated both by frontal 
and enfilade fire, could 
only cover half the 
distance to the enemy's 

Our left column, 
consisting of the Black Watch, with 
Jats and Dogras, were more success- 
ful, penetrating the Turkish front line 
with a rush that swept all opposition 
before it, not only capturing the 
trenches at this point, but also holding 
them for an hour and a half. Un- 
happily they were alone in their 
triumph, and remained unsupported 
until, overwhelmed by numbers in the 
Turkish counter-attacks, and bombed 
until their ranks were woefully thinned, 
they too were forced to retire. Sup- 
ports, it seems, had been sent forward. 

The First Repulse at Umm-el-Hannah 


but these had lost direction, and, 
coming under heavy fire, had failed 
to reach them. It was now that the 
heavy rains began to fall, continuing 
throughout the day, breaking down 
telephone communication, converting 
the ground into a sea of mud, and 
heaping hardships upon troops already 
tried to the uttermost. When, at 
I p.m., and after further artillery bom- 
bardment, the attack was renewed, the 
state of the ground rendered rapid 
movement impossible. And the deluge 
of rain continued without ceasing. 

" The river was brim-full," wrote Mr. 
Candler, "our camps were under water; 
the only dry place was the hold of a ship. 
We were encamped on the scene of the 
Great Flood, and it really seemed as if that 
Biblical visitation were going to repeat 
itself, engulfing Turk and British alike." 

In the face of these appalling con- 
ditions, and severe losses from the 
enemy's heavy and effective fire, the 
second assault, like the first, failed in 
spite of every effort, and after main- 
taining their positions until dark our 
sorely-tried troops were slowly with- 
drawn to the main trenches which 
they had previously occupied, some 
1300 yards from those of the Turks. 
As far as possible the wounded were 
brought in during the withdrawal, but 
their suffering's, when the crround was 
nothing but a quagmire in which 
vehicles and stretcher-bearers could 
scarcely move, were so acute and dis- 
tressing that they may be better 
imaoined than described. With the 
ground in this condition, and the 
troops still exhausted, it was impracti- 
cable to renew the attack on the 

following day; so General Aylmer 
obtained a six hours' armistice in 
order to bury the dead and remove 
the rest of the wounded to shelter. 
Our losses had been very heavy, and 
we had sustained a defeat which must 
have dashed many high hopes to the 
groui.d in beleaguered Kut, but the 
relief force, h'lrriedly improvised as 
it was, and handicapped by unspeak- 
able weather conditions, had done all 
that mortal men could do. 

" I cannot sufficiently express my ad- 
miration," wrote Sir Percy Lake, who joined 
General Aylmer at Umm-el-Hannah four 
days later, " for the courage and dogged 
determination of the force engaged. For 
days they bivouacked in driving rain on 
soaked and sodden ground. Three times 
they were called upon to advance over a 
perfectly flat countr}-, deep in mud, and 
absolutely devoid of cover, against well- 
constructed and well -planned trenches, 
manned by a brave and stubborn enemy 
approximately their equal in numbers. 
They showed a spirit of endurance and 
self-sacrifice of which their country may 
well be proud." 

Meantime General Townshend and 
his ory-lla.nt garrison at Kut — thanks to 
their ground beingf raised above the 
level of the river — though apparently 
nearing the end of their resources, 
had escaped the worst consequences 
of the January floods. These, indeed, 
had turned in one respect to their 
advantage, driving the enemy from 
his trenches on the northern side of 
the Kut peninsula, and compelling his 
withdrawal to higher ground some 
2000 yards away. Three days after 
the repulse of the relief force at Umm- 
el-Hannah, too, came the unexpected 


The Great World War 



PPI|H|H9l^^^p~ > ■ 

The Joys of Campaigning in Mesopotamia: an officers' camp flooded out 

discovery of sufficient grain stores — 
hidden away in the houses of the 
natives and mostly underground — to 
enable the commander of the garrison 
to send General Head-quarters the re- 
assurinor message that he could hold 
out for another eighty-four days. This 
was allowing for the feeding of the 
civil as well as the military population. 
The Arabs at Kut would willingly 
have left their homes to their fate if 
the Turkish troops had allowed them, 
but the Turks had no intention of 
relieving the British of any hungry 
mouths. They shot the few natives 
who abandoned the place in the early 
days of the investment, and made it 
clear that any who tried to escape 
would be executed in the same way. 
Thus, as Mr. Candler points out, the 
garrison was burdened with 6000 
additional mouths, for to expel the 
Arabs would have meant their whole- 
sale murder. 

The discovery of the grain stores, 
which were commandeered and paid 
for, relieved the situation for the time 
beinor and enabled General Towns- 
hend to plan for three months' sup- 
plies on a gradually reduced scale. 
Hunger was henceforth to remain his 
chief problem, and he himself shared 
every privation, as well as every 
danger, with his troops. The Arabs, 
who had hitherto supported them- 
selves, now received rations as sup- 
plied to the garrison. Aeroplanes were 
useful in bringing supplementary stores, 
from cioarettes and vesfetable seeds to 
millstones for grinding the newly dis- 
covered grain, the large quantity of 
which could not be used at once owinof 
to the difficulty of grinding for so large 
a population. It was not until the 
middle of February that the real pri- 
vations of the garrison began, espe- 
cially in the hospital, where milk and 
other essentials were lacking. Hospital 

Life in Beleaguered Kut 


diet was now restricted to corn-flour 
or rice water for the sick, and ordinary 
rations for the wounded. Scurvy had 
set in before this. On January 26, 
General Townshend, always looking 
far ahead, had planted vegetable seeds, 
and these, we are told, bore welcome 
fruit before the exhaustion of the sup- 
plies which led to the surrender of the 
stronghold three months later.^ For- 
tunately the troops, who possessed only 
the summer kit they were fighting in, 
had found a large consignment of warm 
clothing awaiting their safe arrival at 
Kut. It had just been received as 
a gift from the British Red Cross 
Society, and was probably the means 
of saving many lives. 

With every succeeding week in the 
new year the Turks were strengthening 
their hold on the place which had 
so stubbornly defended itself against 
direct assault. Von der Goltz arrived 
on the scene, and strengthened the 
fortifications until not only Kut, but 
all the approaches from the British 
lines were rendered as impregnable as 
modern military science could make 
them. When the floods forced the 
Turks out of their trenches on the 
northern side of the Tigris loop, twenty- 
two rows of well-constructed trenches 
were counted in the abandoned posi- 
tion, the whole of which was also 
honeycombed with miles of communi- 
cating trenches. The loop itself was 
enclosed by a formidable series of re- 
doubts which made the escape of the 
weakened garrison by that means out 
of the question. As for the British 

^ General Townshend's requests for vegetable seeds and 
graniaphone needles gave a cheery note to the news from 
Kut at the beginning of 1916. 

approaches to Kut, they were guarded 
by successive positions astride the 
Tigrris which increased in strenoth 
the nearer they approached to the 
blockaded garrison, culminating in the 
defences at Es Sinn, some 7 miles 
below the town. Here the entrench- 
ments extended for 16 miles, includ- 
ing a series of redoubts stretching 
back to the Shatt-el-Hai, the river 
which connects the Tigris at Kut with 
the Euphrates at Nasiriyeh. It was 
this strategic value of the Kut posi- 
tion which made its possession of 
such potential importance to either 
side, and probably led to the decision 
that General Townshend's retirement 
from Ctesiphon should end there. 
The main object of General Aylmer s 
Relief Column had not been to bring 
away the beleaguered force, but to 
help it to save Kut from falling again 
into the enemy's hands. 

After the desperate battle of January 
21, 1 9 16, and the welcome news that 
General Townshend had roughly three 
months' supplies in hand, no further 
advance of the relieving^ force was 
attempted for some w^eeks. In the 
meantime preparations were made for 
renewing the offensive on a more pro- 
mising basis, and an official announce- 
ment was made to the effect that the 
campaign, having outgrown the re- 
sources of the Indian army, would be 
controlled in the future by the Imperial 
General Staff at home, instead of, as 
hitherto, by the Secretary of State for 

It was obviously necessary to take 
advantaofe of the lessons learned, and 
to make the most of the period of re- 
organization before a fresh advance 


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was made from Imam AH Gherbi. The 
hurried improvisation of temporary 
brigades, divisions, &c., with which 
the force had perforce to set out at the 
beginning of the year had already 
shown its inherent weakness. Sir 
Percy Lake pointed out that divisions 
and brigades, the units of which had 
served together in France, had to be 
broken up to meet the difficulties of 
transport on a long sea voyage, and 
there had been no time on arrival in 
Mesopotamia to await belated units. 
Brigades and divisional formations 
had accordingly been hurriedly pieced 
toofether with such units as became 
available. This had proved a severe 
handicap to effective co-operation, and 
steps were now taken to reconstitute 
formations in their original condition. 
It also accounted for much of the 
medical disorganization. In many 
cases field ambulances had arrived 
after the combatant units. Distressing 
stories which now beoan to arrive of 
the cruel sufferino:s of the sick and 
wounded pointed to a lamentable 
break-down in the hospital arrange- 
ments. This was admitted in the 
House of Commons by Mr. Cham- 
berlain as Secretary for India on 
March 21, 191 6, when he said that 
according to the information in his 
possession there had been a grave 
and, he was inclined to think, an in- 
excusable shortage of necessary sup- 
plies above Basra. He made no at- 
tempt to palliate some of the things 
which had taken place, but he begged 
the House to remember that the 
Mesopotamian campaign had been 
carried on under circumstances of very 
great difficulty. 

"This was in part due — in large part he 
did not doubt — to the enormous difficulties 
of river traffic. Only particular kinds of 
river traffic were suitable. They had to be 
of extraordinarily shallow draft, and the 
Government had swept this country and 
had had recourse to Egypt and to other 
countries to secure, or ascertain if they 
could secure, boats of a character suitable 
for these rivers. They had had misfortunes 
with regard to some of this transport. Some 
of it was destroyed or lost by perils of the 
sea en route, and undoubtedly the shortage 
of river transport accounted for a great deal 
of what had happened; but he did not think 
it accounted for all, and neither the Govern- 
ment at home nor the Government of India 
were satisfied with the state of things which 
had prevailed." 

General Bingley, a distinguished 
officer, and Sir William Vincent, a 
distinguished Civil servant, were ap- 
pointed by the Government of India 
to proceed to Mesopotamia to investi- 
gate matters on the spot, and a Com- 
mission sat in the House of Commons 
under the presidency of Lord George 
Hamilton to enquire into the whole 
conduct of the campaign. Judgment 
cannot be passed on anyone until the 
results of these enquiries are published. 

Meantime Kut was still awaiting 
relief with valiant fortitude but ever- 
increasing anxiety as week after week 
slipped by, and the Hood season, due 
about the middle of March, drew near. 
General Townshend, as well as Sir 
Percy Lake, knew that as soon as the 
Tigris came down in flood the Turks 
could cut the bunds if they wished and 
so flood the country — as the Belgians 
had inundated the last corner of their 
land before the German advance in 
the European war — and so render 

General Aylmer's Last Attempt 


further offensive operations in that 
direction impracticable. From the 
last week in January to the beginning 
of March, 1916, preparations were in 
full swing for a decisive advance which 
it was hoped would smash a way right 
through the Turkish main line of 
defence. Our trenches were again 
pushed forward on the northern bank 

farther in rear — at Felahieh, Sanna-i- 
yat, Nakhailat, and along the northern 
part of the Es Sinn line. This last 
stronghold constituted the Turkish 
main line of defence. Its advanced 
position rested near Beit Aiessa, and 
its right flank on the Dujailah Redoubt, 
which lay some 5 miles south of the 
river and 14 miles south-west of the 

Reinforcements for the Tigris Force: British troops doubHng across a pontoon bridge built over the marshy 

bed of a river 

towards the fatal Hannah position, 
minor operations were undertaken to 
gather information and harass the 
enemy, the bridge was replaced which 
had been destroyed in the January 
floods, and reinforcements were pushed 
up from the base both by steamer and 
route march. 

But the Turks had also been rein- 
forced, and besides holding the Hannah 
position in increased strength had 
now constructed other defensive lines 

British lines on the right bank. By the 
first week in March General Aylmer 
decided to await no further reinforce- 
ments, but to advance with the maxi- 
mum force for which land transport 
could be made available, with two 
days' food and water, and attack this 
Turkish right flank and Dujailah Re- 
doubt as the decisive step towards the 
relief of Kut. Otherwise the cominor 
of the inevitable floods might render 
any advance too late. 


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With the enemy equally alive to the 
situation it was difficult but essential 
to deliver the attack when and where 
it was least expected. Up to a point 
the advance which ensued seems to 
have been organized with remarkable 
success, but it failed most lamentably 
at the critical moment just when vic- 
tory lay within easy reach. Until the 

the Turks during die period of pre- 
paration our artillery on each side of 
the river engaged the opposing trenches 
on the left bank, the troops in front of 
the Hannah defile meantime making 
a great show of activity. Adverse 
weather conditions seriously delayed 
operations at the beginning of the 
month, thus enabling the Turks to 

GuanliiiL; tlie Appro, icli to Iviit: home of the Tuikish entrenchments at Es Sinn 
The view shows the open nature of the ground over which the British and Indian troops had to advance. 

report of the Mesopotamian Commis- 
sion is published it will not be possible 
to tell the full story of the tragic failure 
at Es Sinn, though Sir Percy Lake 
relates it with some candour in his dis- 
patch of August 12, 19 16, published 
in the following October. With the 
growth of the Turkish defences it was 
obvious by the beginning of March 
that it would be impossible to carry 
the enemy's positions on both banks 
of the Tigris, but in order to deceive 

construct trenches closing the gap 
which had hitherto existed between 
the great Dujailah Redoubt, the centre 
of the Es Sinn position, and the Shatt- 
el-Hai channel. 

On March 7, however, everything 
was ready, and assembling his subor- 
dinate Commanders on the afternoon 
of that day General Aylmer issued his 
final instructions. He pointed out that 
surprise being the very essence of the 
enterprise it was imperative that the 

The Failure at Es Sinn 


capture of the Dujailah Redoubt, the 
key to the position, should be pushed 
through with the utmost vigour. His 
plan of attack, stated briefly, was as 
follows: While the greater part of a 
division under General Younghusband, 
assisted by naval gunboats, contained 
the enemy on the left bank, the re- 
maining troops, formed into two 
columns, under General Kemball and 
General Keary respectively, were to 
deliver the main attack on the Turkish 
right flank. A reserve of infantry and 
the Cavalry Brigade were held at 
General Aylmer's own disposal. Kem- 
ball's column, covered on the outer 
flank by the Cavalry Brigade, was to 
make a turning movement by night to 
attack the Dujailah Redoubt from the 
south, supported by the remainder of 
the force operating from a position to 
the east of the Redoubt. 

It was no mean feat of arms which 
succeeded in bringing this large force 
across the enemy's front over unknown 
ground without rousing his suspicions, 
and Sir Percy Lake pays fitting tribute 
to the excellent staff work and good 
discipline of the troops throughout the 
long night march. Unfortunately, to 
quote from the Commander-in-Chief s 
dispatch, "while Keary s column was 
in position at daybreak ready to sup- 
port Kemball's attack, the latter's com- 
mand did not reach the point selected 
for its deployment, in the Dujailah de- 
pression, until more than an hour later" 
— a delay which proved "highly preju- 
dicial to the success of the operation". 
Nevertheless, the troops reached their 
allotted positions undiscovered by the 
enemy, and all that remained, appa- 
rently, was to push on and win. That 

at least is the inference to be drawn 
from Sir Percy Lake's candid account. 

" In spite of their late arrival," he writes, 
" the presence of so large a force seems to 
have been quite unexpected by the Turks, 
as Dujailah Redoubt was apparently lightly 
held when our columns reached their allotted 
positions. Prompt and energetic action 

General H. d' Urban Keary, commanding the 3rd 

Division of the Tigris Rehef Force 

(From a photograph by Elliott & Fry) 

would probably have forestalled the enemy's 
reinforcements. But time was lost by wait- 
ing for the guns to register and to carry 
out reconnaissances, and when, nearly three 
hours later, Kemball's troops advanced to 
the attack, they were strongly opposed by 
the enemy from trenches cleverl}' concealed 
in the brushwood, and were unable to make 
further ground for some time, though as- 
sisted by Keary 's attack upon the Redoubt 
from the east." 

The golden opportunity had been 


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lost, and General Townshend, only snatched a victory at the eleventh 
some seven miles away, who was hour, winning a foothold right in the 
probably prepared to welcome General Redoubt itself. Here, however, they 
Aylmer to Kut that very evening, had were heavily counter-attacked, by the 
to steel his heart against another dis- reinforced enemy, "and being sub- 
appointment. Though the day was jected to an extremely rapid and 
not given up as lost with the failure accurate shrapnel fire from concealed 
of the belated attack on the Dujailah guns in the vicinity of Sinn Aftar," 

writes Sir Percy Lake, "they were 
forced to fall back to the position from 
which they started". More could 

Redoubt, its prospects of success di- 
minished with each succeeding hour 
as fresh Turkish reinforcements con- 
tinued to arrive. By 
one o'clock our 
southern assault had 
pushed forward to 
within 500 yards of 
the Redoubt, but con- 
cealed trenches again 
stopped further pro- 
gress, while the 
Turks, on their part, 
were able to counter- 
attack with fresh 
troops from the direc- 
tion of Magasis. 

Then came the un- 
welcome discovery by 
the Engineers that 

the water-supply in the Uujailah de- not be asked of men who had been 
pression, upon which General Aylmer under arms for thirty hours, including 
had reckoned, was insufficient, and a long night march and a pitched battle, 
that unless the Redoubt could be The element of surprise having been 
carried that day the scarcity of water lost, too. General Aylmer considered 
would of itself compel our troops to that a renewal of the attack during 

Turkish Entrenchments along the Tigris 

fall back to the position from which 
they had started. In the desperate 
eft'ort to retrieve the fortunes of the 
day, made at 5.15 p.m. with fresh 
attacks from the south and east under 
cover of a heavy bombardment, the 
Manchesters and some other units, 
leading the 8th and 37th Infantry 
Brigades in the eastern assault, nearly 

the night could not be made with any 
prospect of success; and next morning, 
finding the enemy's position unchanged 
and his own force faced with insufficient 
water, he decided upon an immediate 
withdrawal to Wadi, which was accor- 
dingly reached that night (March 9). 

Though the attack had failed, the 
men had fully earned the praise be- 

General Gorringe takes Command 

Desert Warfare in Mesopotami; . an Indian cavalry regiment on tlie march, led by its British officers 

Stowed upon them by General Aylmer, 
in the Orders of the Day on March lo, 
for the gallantry and endurance which 
they had displayed. 

"The night march", he wrote, "was carried 
out admirably, and the attack was executed 
in very fine style. The steady manner in 
which the retirement was performed amply 
proves that our want of success had not 
affected the troops in any way, while the 
enemy's lack of initiative shows clearly that 
our operations have inflicted great loss on 
the Turks and have seriously affected his 

General Aylmer took the oppor- 
tunity at the same time of thanking 
the troops engaged in the Hannah 
operations "for the very fine work 
they have performed, and for the 
cheerfulness with which they have 
borne many hardships ". 

Three days later General Aylmer 
was succeeded by Lieutenant-General 
Sir G. F. Gorringe, who had won his 
spurs in the early triumphs of the 
Mesopotamian campaign and had been 
actine as Chief of the Staff to the 

Tigris column from January 28, 191 6, 
It was General Gorringe who was des- 
tined to make the last attempt to save 
the beleaguered garrison at Kut. Here, 
in the meantime. General Townshend 
was holdinor on in the face of increasino- 
hardships as the ration loaf grew gradu- 
ally smaller and the pinch of hunger 
more and more pronounced. No de- 
tails of these privations had been pub- 
lished in Great Britain at this period, 
but some inkling of the position was 
conveyed to the public by King 
George's message on February 14, 
1 91 6, in which His Majesty said: — 

" I, together with your fellow-countr)'men, 
continue to follow with admiration the gal- 
lant fighting of the troops under your com- 
mand against great odds. Ever\- possible 
effort is being made to support your splendid 

General Townshend, replying 
through General Lake on February 17, 
said : — 

" It is hard for me to express hy words 
how profoundly touched and inspirited all 


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ranks of my command have been by His 
Majesty's personal message. On their be- 
half and on my own I desire to express to 
His Majesty that the knowledge that we 
have gained the praise of our beloved Sove- 
reign will be our sheet-anchor in this de- 

This knowledge, and General Towns- 
hend's own inspiring example, enabled 
them to keep their flag flying at Kut 
for another two months or more. 
Their leader was no stranger to forlorn 
hopes. He had been the hero of the 
defence of Gilgit years before in one 
of the little wars on India's North-West 

Frontier, as mentioned in an earlier 
chapter; and he had also served in the 
Camel Expedition which attempted at 
the last moment to relieve Gordon at 
Khartoum. No doubt he sometimes 
wondered whether Kut would share 
the fate of Gilgit, which he had saved 
from the fierce tribesmen of Chitral, 
or that of Khartoum, which fell into 
the hands of the Mahdi. His hopes 
must have faded considerably with the 
failure at Es Sinn and the arrival of 
the flood season, which put an end to 
all prospect of relief during March. 
On the 22nd of that month their 

Indian Horse Transport for the Tigris Force : errvbarking horses on the Shatt-el-Arab from an improvised 

wooden pier 

The horses for the cavalry with the Tigris force were taken up by steamer under charge of Indian troops. In the picture 
the horses are seen wailing in rows under an awning on the river pier 

A Call to the Tigris Column 


urgent need for every 
effort on the part of 
the rehef force was 
put before the Tigris 
Column by Sir Percy 
Lake in the following 
notice in the Orders 
of the Day: — 

General Tovvnshend, 
and the gallant troops 
under his command, who 
won the Battle of Ctesi- 
phon against heavy odds, 
have now been besieged 
in Kut by greatly supe- 
rior forces for over three 
months. They have wit- 
nessed the failure of two 
determined attempts to 
break through to their assistance, but they 
still implicitly rely upon their comrades of 
the Mesopotamian Force to do all that is 
humanly possible for their relief In ap- 
peaHng to the officers and men of the 
Tigris Column to continue their devoted 
and self-sacrificing efforts the Army Com- 
mander would remind them that the whole 
Empire, while realizing the difficulties which 
they have to face, relies with the utmost 
confidence upon the resolution, energy, 
courage, and endurance of all ranks to 
carry out successfully the task entrusted 
to them. 

The men needed no urging forward. 
They were hard at work sapping along 
the northern bank for a fresh push at 
the earliest possible moment, but the 
unspeakable weather conditions were 
all against them. Minor operations 
also took place on the right or southern 
bank, in which enemy trenches were 
taken and prisoners captured, but 
when the Tigris came down in flood 
on March 15 its heavy inundations 
had forced our troops to evacuate 

Minor Operations on the Tigris: a village held by lurks set on fire after 
being shelled by the British navy 

their advanced positions on that bank. 
The rest of the month was one long 
struggle with the floods to prevent the 
whole country from being inundated. 
With every available man turned to 
digging embankments active opera- 
tions in the field were out of the ques- 
tion, save for such sapping as was 
possible towards the enemy's lines. 

While the Tigfris force was strivingr 
so hard to win a way through to Kut, 
little of note had occurred in other 
parts of Mesopotamia. The Karun 
line and the neiorhbourhood of the oil- 
fields, as well as the country to the 
west and south of Basra, remained 
undisturbed throughout the period 
under review. For the greater part 
of the time peace also reigned on the 
Euphrates, neither the Turks nor the 
Arab tribes in the vicinity of that 
river giving any trouble. When, 
however. General Aylmer began his 
advance on Kut along the Tigris 
from Imam Ali Gherbi, it was thought 


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advisable to make a demonstration 
northwards with the Euphrates force 
to a short distance from an advanced 
post at Nasiriyeh, This was in order 
to deter as many as possible of the 
hostile tribes on the Shatt-el-Hai 
channel, which links up the Euphrates 
with the Tigris at Kut, from joining 
forces with the enemy. At the be- 
ginning of January, 1915, the major 
portion of the force at Nasiriyeh ac- 
cordingly moved out and encamped 
in the neighbourhood of Butaniyah 
Lake. Apparently nothing worth 
mentioning happened until a month 
later, when the troops were returning 
to Nasiriyeh, the object in view, ac- 
cording to Sir Percy Lake's dispatches, 

having been attained. Some of the 
tribes, hitherto quite friendly to the 
British, but obviously affected by 
events on the Tigris, mistook the 
return towards Nasiriyeh for a retreat, 
and treacherously attacked our rear- 
guard. Fortunately the attack was 
beaten off, a party of the Royal West 
Kents and a mountain battery receiv- 
ing special mention for their very 
gallant behaviour on this occasion. 
The tribesmen had cause to repent 
their treachery on the following morn- 
ing, when a small force marched out 
from Nasiriyeh, and taking them by 
surprise destroyed all their villages. 

F. A. M.