Skip to main content

Full text of "The Story of the great war : history of the European War from official sources"

See other formats


This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 



at jhttp : //books . qooqle . com/ 



KM333 



Gift of The People of t!:o UniLod States 
Through the Vir.tr.: S-.ck Campaign • 
(A.L.A. — A. h.C — U.S.O.) : 

To the Armed -o:r^ p.r'd tfc: chant Marine 





i 



* 



Gift of The People of t!.o UnKad States 
Through the Vict'.: • S-.ck Campaign • 
(A. L A. — A. h. o.-~U. S. 0.) ; 
To the Arm:d -o:t->s ar'd tfc: chant Marine 






Story of The Great War 



History of the European 
War from Official Sources 



COMPLETE HISTORICAL RECORDS OF EVENTS TO DATE. 
ILLUSTRATED WITH DRAWINGS, MAPS, and PHOTOGRAPHS 

'Prefaced by 

WHAT THE WAR MEANS TO AMERICA 
MAJOR GENERAL LEONARD WOOD, U. S. A. 

NAVAL LESSONS OF THE WAR 
REAR ADMIRAL AUSTIN M. KNIGHT, U. S. N. 

THE WORLDS WAR 
FREDERICK PALMER 

THEATRES OF THE WAR'S CAMPAIGNS 
FRANK H. SIMONDS 

THE WAR CORRESPONDENT 
ARTHUR RUHL 

Cdited by 
FRANCIS J. REYNOLDS ALLEN L. CHURCHILL 

Former Reference Librarian of Congress Associate Editor, The New International Encyclopedia 

FRANCIS TREVELYAN MILLER 
Editor in Chief, Photographic History of the Civil War 







O L L I E R 

NEW YORK 



& 



SON 



O Si 

s ^ S 






The 

STORY OF THE 
GREAT WAR 



CHAMPAGNE • ARTOIS • GRODNO 
FALL OF NISH • CAUCASUS 
MESOPOTAMIA • DEVELOPMENT 
OF AIR STRATEGY • UNITED 
STATES AND THE WAR 



>ft A 



1 




VOLUME IV 



P • F • COLLIER W SON • NEW YORK 



KT3333 



AurvardN 

university 

Vlibrar / 



Copyright 1916 
By P. F. Collie* ft Son 



CONTENTS 

PART I.— WAR IN SYRIA AND EGYPT 

<'.I'TEB PAGK 

1. Renewed Turkish Attempts 9 

PART II.— WAR IN THE AIR 

II. Raids of the Airmen 16 

III. Zeppelins Attack London— Battles in the Air ... 29 

IV. Venice Attacked— Other Raids 34 

PART III.— THE WESTERN FRONT 

V. Summary of First Year's Operations 89 

VI. Fighting in Artois and the Vosges . 46 

VII. Political Crisis in France— Aeroplane Warfare — Fierce 
Combats in the Vosges — Preparations for Allied 

Offense 52 

VIII. The Great Champagne Offensive 61 

IX. The British Front in Artois 81 

X. The Battle of Loos 90 

XI. The Cavell Case— Accident to King George 98 

XII. Operations in Champagne and Artois— Preparations for 

Winter Campaign 104 

XIII. Events in the 'Winter Campaign 117 

XIV. The Battle of Verdun — The German Attack .... 131 

PART IV.— THE WAR AT SEA 



XV. Naval Situation at the Beginning of the Second Year- 
Submarine Exploits 143 

XVI. The Sinking of the Arabic — British Submarine Successes 150 
XVII. Cruise of the Moewe— Loss of British Battleships . . 159 
XVIII. Continuation of War on Merchant Shipping — Italian 
and Russian Naval Movements — Sinking of La 

Provence 165 

1 



CONTENTS 



PART V.— THE WAR ON THE EASTERN FRONT 

CKAPTBB PA0B 

XIX. Summary of First Year's Operations 174 

XX. The Fall of the Niemen and Nareff Fortresses . . 178 

XXI. The Conquest of Grodno and Vilna 185 

XXII. The Capture of Brest-Litovsk 198 

XXIII. The Struggle in East Galicia and Volhynia and the 

Capture of Pinsk 200 

XXIV. In the Pripet Marshes 209 

XXV. Fighting on the Dvina and in the Dvina- Vilna Sector 212 

XXVI. Winter Battles on the Styr and Strypa Rivers . . 223 

XXVII. On the Tracks of the Russian Retreat 229 

XXVIII. Sidelights on the Russian Retreat and German 

Advance 240 

XXIX. Winter on the Eastern Front 250 

PART VI.— THE BALKANS 

XXX. Battle Clouds Gather Again 255 

XXXI. The Invasion Begins 268 

XXXII. Bulgaria Enters the War 269 

XXXIII. The Teutonic Invasion Rolls o:j 273 

XXXIV. The Fall of Nish — Defense of Babuna Pass . . . 282 
XXXV. Bulgarian Advance — Serbian Resistance .... 290 

XXXVI. End of German Operations — Flight of Serb People — 

Greece 800 

XXXVII. Allies Withdraw into Greece — Attitude of Greek 

Government 808 

XXXVIII. Bulgarian Attacks — Allies Concentrate at Saloniki 816 
XXXIX. Italian Movements in Albania— Conquest of Monte- 
negro 327 

XL. Conditions in Serbia, Greece, and Rumania .... 339 

PART VII.— THE DARDANELLES AND RUSSO- 
TURKISH CAMPAIGN 

XLI. Conditions in Galupoli— Attack at Suvla Bay . . 344 

PART VIIL— AGGRESSIVE TURKISH CAMPAIGN 
AT DARDANELLES 

XLII. Sari Bair— Partial Withdrawal of Allies .... 353 
XLIII. Aggressive Turkish Movements — Opinion in England — 

Change in Command 357 



CONTENTS 



3 



PART VIIL— AGGRESSIVE TURKISH CAMPAIGN 
AT DARDANELLES— Continued 

CHAPTEB FACW 

XLIV. Abandonment op Dardanelles — Armenian Atrocities . 369 
XLV. Campaign in Caucasus — Fall op Erzerum 880 

PART IX.— ITALY IN THE WAR 

XLVI. Review op Preceding Operations— Italian Movements . 393 

XLVII. Italy's Relations to the Other Warring Nations . . 899 

LXVIII. Problems op Strategy 404 

XLIX. Move Against Germany 410 

L. Renewed Attacks — Italy's Situation at the Beginning 

op March, 1916 413 

PART X.— CAMPAIGN IN MESOPOTAMIA 

LI. Operations Against Bagdad and Around the Tigris . 419 

LII. Advance Toward Bagdad — Battle op Kut-el-Amara . . 426 

LIII. Battle of Ctesiphon 437 

LIV. Stand at Kut-el-Amara— Attempts at Relief ... 444 

PART XL— THE WAR IN THE AIR 

LV. Development of the Strategy and Tactics of Air 

Fighting 454 

LVI. Zeppelin Raids— Attacks on German Arms Factories- 
German Over-Sea Raids 459 

LVII. Attacks on London — Bombardment op Italian Ports — 

Aeroplane as Commerce Destroyer 466 

LVIII. Air Fighting on All Fronts— Losses 473 

PART XII.— THE UNITED STATES AND THE 
BELLIGERENTS 

LIX. Sinking of the Arabic — Another Crisis — Germany's 

Defense and Concessions 480 

LX. Issue with Austria-Hungary Over the Ancona — Sur- 
render to American Demands 490 

LXI. The Lusitania Deadlock — Agreement Blocked by Armed 

Merchantmen Issue— Crisis in Congress .... 496 
LXII. Developments of Pro-German Propaganda — Munitions 

Crusade Defended — New Aspects of American Policy 505 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

Kaiser Wilhelm Inspbcting His Troops ...... Frontispiece 

OPPOSTTB PAG* 

Zigzag Trenches in the Champagne 62 

German Infantry Storming a Hill 94 

General Joffre and General Pctajn 142 

Austrian Infantry in Russia 238 

Constructing a Bridge Over the Danube 270 

British Hydroplane on Guard at Saloniki . 818 

Aeroplane Guns on Turntable 462 

Firing a Torpedo from the Deck of a Destroyer 494 



LIST OP MAPS 

TAO* 

Middle Europe— The German Vision of an Empire fbom the Baltic 

to the Persian Gulf (Colored Map) Front Insert 

Champagne District, The 68 

Battle in Champagne, September, 1915, Detail Map of . . . 69 

Artois Region, September, 1915, The French Gains in ... . 86 

Battle at Loos, The 95 

Verdun, The Forts at 184 

Verdun, Fighting at, up to March 1, 1916 141 

Verdun (Colored Map) Opposite 142 

IKjel Canal 167 

Russia, The Battle Front in, January 1, 1916 228 

Balkan (Serbian) Operations, General Map of 262 

German-Austro-Bulgar Campaign Against Serbia, The Beginning 

of the 268 

Retreat of Serbians 804 

Saloniki, The Allies at 824 

Montenegro, The Austrian Campaign in 835 

Dardanelles, Operations at the . . - 868 

Turkish Empire, The 381 

Turkey in Armenia, The Russian Advance on 390 

Bagdad Railroad, The 420 

Russian Advance Through Persia, The 488 

Mesopotamia, The British Campaign in 461 



i§ 



3 

rS 




*o 



y 



"JA..*J*x,:iGF; ' •irs-i^.-* ?s --JM3K™' 



PART I— WAR IN SYRIA AND EGYPT 



CHAPTER I 

RENEWED TURKISH ATTEMPTS 

THE leaders of the Turkish troops had been hard at work 
arousing the fanaticism of the Turkish soldiery against the 
British foe before the next day's battle began. It is due these 
noisy "Holy Warriors" that sentries of the Fifth Egyptian Field 
Battery were warned of the near presence of the enemy. 

The Indian troops now took the offensive, supported by the 
warships and mountain and field artillery. The Serapeum 
garrison, consisting of Ninety-second Punjabis and Rajputs, 
now cleared its front of the enemy who had been stopped three- 
quarters of a mile away. A counterattack made by the Sixty- 
second Punjabis of the Tussum garrison drove the Turks back. 
Two battalions of the Turkish Twenty-eighth Regiment now 
joined the fight, but the British artillery threw them into dis- 
order, and by 3 p. m. of February 3, 1915, the Moslems were in 
retreat, leaving behind them a rear guard of a few hundred 
men hidden in the gaps among the brush along the eastern 
bank. 

The warships on Lake Timsah had been in action since morn- 
ing, and the sand hills near Ismailia were at first crowded by 
civilians and soldiers eager to witness the fight, until the Turkish 
guns to the east and southeast of the Ferry post drove them in 
cover. 

About 11 a. m. an old unprotected Indian Marine transport, 
H. M. S. Harding e, was struck by two 6-inch shells. One carried 
away the funnel and the other burst inboard doing much dam- 

9 



10 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR • 

age. Two of the crew were killed and nine wounded. George 
Carew, the pilot, lost a leg, but continued on duty and helped to 
bring the injured vessel into Ismailia. The French coast guard 
battleship Requin came now under the Turkish fire, but her 
10.8-inch guns soon silenced the enemy's batteries. 

The morning of February 8, 1915, the Turks advanced on the 
Ismailia Ferry, then held by Sikhs, Punjabi Rifles, a battery of 
Indian mountain artillery and Australian engineers, digging 
shelter pits as they moved forward, covered by two field bat- 
teries. Their advance was stopped by the British guns when 
they had come within 1,000 yards of the outpost line. During 
the afternoon the Turks kept up some desultory firing that' was 
ineffective; they also engaged in some reconnoitering of British 
positions during the dark night that followed, but when morning 
broke they had all disappeared. 

Meanwhile, at El Kantara the struggle had reached much the 
same conclusion. The Indian troops had repelled an advance 
from the south, in which two Turkish regiments, the Eightieth 
and Eighty-first of the Twenty-seventh Division, were engaged. 
H.M.S. Stviftsure, which had taken the place of the disabled 
Hardinge, aided by Indian and Territorial artillery, did effective 
work in covering the British positions. The nature of the 
ground here was so marshy that in places the Turks sank to 
their waists in muddy ooze, and foredoomed their attack to 
failure. Again it was demonstrated that they are poor strate- 
gists and fail to make careful observations of the terrain before 
advancing to attack. At El Ferdan, where some Turks made a 
demonstration with a battery about this time, there were no 
losses, though the gunboat Clio was hit several times. At El 
Kantara, where a part of General Cox's brigade of Gurkhas, 
Sikhs, and Punjabis were engaged, there were thirty casualties. 

Between Tussum and Serapeum there was some sniping dur- 
ing the late afternoon of February 3 from the east bank of the 
canal, during which a British sailor was killed on H.M.S. SwifU 
sure. The desultory firing continued during the night and 
through the early morning of February 4. A deplorable incident 
occurred this day in which a brave British officer and several of 



SYRIA AND EGYPT 1J 

his men were the victims of Turkish treachery. Several hun- 
dred Turks had been discovered by half a battalion of Ninety* 
second Punjabis sent out from Serapeum. In the encounter that 
followed, some of the Turks held up their hands as a sign of 
surrender, while others continued to fire. Captain Cochran of 
the Ninety-second company, who was advancing with his men to 
take the surrender, was killed. A few of his soldiers also fell, 
and some others were wounded. The British took a prompt and 
~ complete revenge for the loss of these men. After being reen- 
f orced by Indian troops they overpowered the enemy in a hand- 
to-hand struggle, in which a Turkish officer was killed by a 
British officer in a sword combat. The Turks had lost in this 
brisk engagement about 120 killed and wounded, and 6 officers 
and 25 men were captured with 3 Maxim guns. 

The Turkish attempts at Suez on February 2, 1915, were insig- 
nificant, and did not cost the British the loss of a single man. 
By nightfall, just as their compatriots had done along other 
parts of the canal, the Turks fled in the direction of Nakhl, 
Djebel, Habeite, and Katia. On the afternoon of the 4th, when 
the fighting between Serapeum and Tussum was concluded, 
Indian cavalry and various patrols captured some men and war 
materials. At Ismailia preparations were under way to pursue 
the retreating Turks across the canal. This plan, for some 
reason, was subsequently abandoned. 

During these various fights along the canal, the British had 
lost 115 killed and wounded, a small number considering the 
character of the ground and the very numerous attacks and 
skirmishes. Nine hundred Turks were buried or found drowned 
in the canal, 650 were taken prisoners, while it is estimated that 
between 1,500 and 2,000 must have been wounded. The brunt 
of the struggle fell on the Indian troops, who, in general, fought 
with great bravery. There were some Australian and Egyptian 
troops engaged who proved themselves valuable auxiliaries. 

In these engagements along the canal the Syrian Moslems dis- 
played even greater bravery than the Turks, who were not 
lacking in intrepidity, though they showed poor judgment. They 
had much to learn in the way of taking cover, and would often 



12 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

blindly advance over difficult ground that placed them at a dish 
advantage. 

Djemal Pasha had evidently counted on an Egyptian rising, 
and perhaps a mutiny of the Indian Moslem troops, but he 
showed that he entirely misjudged their sentiments, as they dis- 
played great bitterness toward the Turks during the fighting, 
and attacked them in a thoroughly vindictive spirit. If Djemal 
had not counted on help from these quarters he would probably 
not have attempted to break through the British positions cover* 
ing a ninety-mile front with such a small force. It was esti- 
mated that he had about 25,000 men, but not more than half of 
these were brought into action at any given point where they 
might have achieved some success. The Turks had burned up 
some war material and left a few deserters behind them, but 
they had retreated in good order, and the British commanders 
had reason to believe that they should soon be heard from again, 
and that a main attack was contemplated. 

On February 6, 1915, British aeroplane observers discovered 
that the Turks in front of the Tussum-Deversoir section had gath- 
ered at Djebel, Habeite, and were strongly reenforced. It ap- 
peared that Djemal was now preparing to attack in force. The 
British were quite ready for them, having been reenforced on 
February 3 and 4 by the Seventh and Eighth Australian bat- 
talions, a squadron of the Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry, 
and the Herts, and Second County of London Yeomanry. But 
the British hopes of a decisive engagement were blighted by the 
general retirement of the Turkish army with their reenforce- 
ments. 

They crossed the desert successfully, thanks to the organizing 
skill of Kress von Kressensteiil and Roshan Bey, and set off for 
the Turkish base at Beersheba, spreading the news along the 
road that they had won a victory and would soon return to 
Egypt and achieve another, this by way of keeping the Syrians 
reassured that success was on the Moslem side. 

In January, 1915, the commander of Turkish troops at Fort 
Nakhl, hearing that the Government quarantine station at Tor 
was undefended, sent a body of men under two German officers to 



SYRIA AND EGYPT 13 

occupy the place. The raiders found on their arrival at Tor that 
about 200 Egyptian soldiers were in occupation and waited there 
until they received reenforcements, which brought their force 
up to 400 men. For the time they occupied a small village about 
five miles north of Tor, occasionally firing a shot at long range 
and sending arrogant messages to the Egyptians. On February 
11 a detachment of Ghurkas embarked secretly from Suez, and 
advancing over the hills in the rear of the Turks, surprised their 
position on the following morning. In the encounter that fol- 
lowed the Turks were annihilated. Sixty lay dead on the field, 
and over a hundred, including a Turkish officer, were made 
prisoners. On the British side one Ghurka was killed and an- 
other wounded. It was a disappointment that the German offi- 
cers and a few men had left the camp some days before for Abu 
Zenaima on the coast, where there was a British-owned man- 
ganese mine, which the raiders damaged as best they could, and 
then stealing some camels, departed for the fort at Nakhl. 

The failure of the Turks to win any success at that canal, and 
their' subsequent retreat, had a discouraging influence on the 
Bedouin levies, who had joined Djemal Pasha and Hilmi Bey, 
and they now chose the first opportunity to vanish with the new 
rifles that had been given to them. 

For a month the Turks did nothing but keep the British troops 
occupied by petty raids and feint attacks, which were worri- 
some, but better than utter stagnation. 

On March 22, 1915, a Turkish column with guns and cavalry 
appeared near the canal near El Kubri, and their advance guard 
of about 400 encountered a patrol of nine men under Havildar 
Subha Singh of the Fifty-sixth Punjab Rifles. The Havildar 
retired fighting courageously, holding the enemy back until he 
had got his men to safety, with a loss of two killed and three 
wounded. The Havildar, who was badly wounded himself, re- 
ceived the Indian Order of Merit and was promoted to Jemadar. 
He had inflicted on the enemy a loss of twelve men and fifteen 
wounded. 

On March 23, 1915, General Sir G. J. Younghusband set out to 
attack the Turks who had been under the command of Colonel van 



14 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

Trommer, but owing to delays they had had time to retreat to- 
ward Nakhl. In the pursuit that followed, their rear guard lost 
about forty men and some were taken prisoners. There were 
about a dozen British casualties. 

On April 29, 1915, a raiding party with Maxims attacked a de- 
tachment of Bikanir Camel Corps and Egyptian sappers near Bir 
Mahadet, which resulted in the wounding of a British officer, and 
five killed and three wounded among the Egyptians and 
Bikaniris. A punitive expedition sent out to attack the raiders 
marched through the night to Bir Mahadet only to find that the 
Turks had fled. The British aeroplane soon after "spotted" the 
enemy near a well six miles north. The Patiala cavalry, who 
were leading, came up with the Turkish rear guard in the after- 
noon and charged. The Turks stampeded, except for a small 
group of Turkish soldiers led by a plucky Albanian officer, who 
held their ground and attacked from the flank the advancing 
British officers and Patiala cavalry. Two British officers and a 
native officer were killed or badly wounded in the subsequent 
charge. The Albanian, who had displayed such courage, proved 
to be a son of Djemal Pasha. He fell with seven lance thrusts, 
none of which however proved fatal, while all his men were 
killed or captured. The British had four or five times as many 
men as the escaping enemy, but they did not pursue. 

In June, 1915, Colonel von Laufer and a mixed force attempted 
a feeble raid on the canal near El Kantara, but were driven off 
with some loss by the Yeomanry, who had done effective work in 
keeping the enemy away from the British lines. A mine having 
been found near the canal about this time, the Porte informed 
the neutral powers that the canal must be closed to navigation 
owing to the arbitrary conduct of the British in Egypt. But the 
rurks were not in a position to carry out their threats, owing to 
the vigorous attack on the Dardanelles. Troops were hurried 
from Syria to Constantinople, and by June 6 less than 25,000 
Turkish troops remained in central and southern Syria and the 
Simai Peninsula. At Nakhl and El Arish there were left about 
7,000 veteran desert fighters, but the British air scouts kept a 
watchful eye on the desert roads, and used bombs with such 

A— War St 4 



SYRIA AND EGYPT 15 

effect that the Turks were kept in a constant state of appre- 
hension by their attacks. 

At Sharkieh, the eastern province of the Delta, there had 
been some uneasiness when the Turks made their unsuccessful 
strikes at the canal, but the population gave no trouble. At 
Alexandria and Cairo some few fanatics and ignorant people of 
the lower classes displayed some opposition to the Government. 
The sultan was fired on April 8, 1915, by a degenerate, Mohammed 
Khalil, a haberdasher of Masoura, the bullet missing the victim 
by only a few inches. Khalil was tried by court-martial and 
executed April 24. The attempt on Sultan Hussein's life had the 
effect of making him friends from among the disaffected in 
the higher classes who found it wise policy to express their 
horror of the attempted crime, and to proclaim their allegiance 
to the Government. On April 9 the sultan received a popular 
ovation while on his way to the mosque. 

As a base for the allied Mediterranean expeditionary force, 
and as a training ground for Australian, Indian, and British 
troops, Egypt in 1915 was of the utmost military importance to 
the British Empire. From the great camps around Cairo and 
the canal, forces could be dispatched for service in Europe, 
Mesopotamia, and at the Dardanelles, while fresh'contingents of 
soldiers were constantly arriving to take their places. 

On July 5, 1915, a body of Turks and Arabs from Yemen in 
southwest Arabia made a threatening demonstration against 
Aden, the "Gibraltar of the East/' on the Strait of Perim at the 
entrance to the Red Sea. They were equipped with some field 
guns and light artillery, and crossing the Aden hinterland near 
Lahej, forced the British to retire on Aden. 

On July 29, 1915, Sheikh Othman, which had been abandoned 
by the British on their retreat on the 5th, was again occupied by 
them, and the Turks and Arabs were expelled. The British 
troops drove the enemy for five miles across the country, causing 
some casualties, when the Turks and their allies scattered and 
disappeared. 

B— War St 4 



PART II— WAR IN THE AIR 



CHAPTER II 

RAIDS OF THE AIRMEN 

THE war in the air developed into a reign of terror during the 
second half of the first year of the world catastrophe. While 
the armies on the land were locked in terrific conflict, and the 
navies were sweeping the seas, the huge ships of the air were 
hovering over cities with a desperate resolve to win on all sides. 
By degrees the pilots of the various nations learned to work in 
squadrons. The tactics of the air began to be developed and op- 
posing aerial fleets maneuvered much as did the warships. Long 
raids by fifty or more machines were reported, tons of bombs 
being released upon cities hundreds of miles from the battle line. 

The German ambition to shell London was realized, and the 
east coast of England grew accustomed to raids. The spirit of 
the British never faltered. Perhaps it was best typified in the 
admonition of a Yarmouth minister following a disastrous Zep- 
pelin visit, who said: "It is our privilege, we who live on the 
east coast, to be on the firing line, and we should steel ourselves 
to face the position with brave hearts/' 

Casualties grew in all quarters. French cities were the great- 
est sufferers, although French airmen performed prodigies of 
valor in defending the capital and in attacks upon German de- 
fensive positions. But the stealthy Zeppelin took heavy toll on 
many occasions. It was shown that there was no really adequate 
defense against sudden attack from the air. Constant watchful- 
ness and patrolling machines might be eluded at night and death 
rained upon the sleeping city beneath. 

16 



RAIDS OP THE AIRMEN 17 

The spring of 1915 found the air service of every army primed 
for a dash. The cold months were spent in repairing, reorganiz- 
ing and extending aerial squadrons. Everything awaited the 
advent of good weather conditions. 

During February, 1915, the hand of tragedy fell upon the Ger- 
man air service. Two Zeppelins and another large aircraft were 
wrecked within a couple of days. 

In a storm over the North Sea on February 16, 1915, a Zep- 
pelin fought heroically. Contrary air currents compelled the 
Zeppelin commander to maneuver over a wide zone in an effort 
to reach land. Caught in the gale the big dirigible was at the 
mercy of the elements. Snow, sleet, and fog enveloped it and 
added to its peril. The craft caught in the February storm, 
fought a losing battle for twenty-four hours and finally made a 
landing on Fanoe Island, in Danish territory. The officers and 
men were interned, several of whom were suffering from ex- 
posure in an acute form and nearly all of them with frostbitten 
hands and feet. 

Another Zeppelin was lost in this same February storm. It is 
presumed that the two started on a raiding trip against England 
and were caught in the storm before reaching their destination. 
Details of the second Zeppelin's fate never have been told. It 
fell into the sea, where parts of the wreckage were found by 
Dutch fishermen. All on board lost their lives. The third air- 
ship wrecked that month was of another type than the Zeppelin. 
It foundered off the west coast of Jutland and four of its crew 
were killed. The others escaped, but the airship was a total loss. 

This trio of accidents shocked the German official world to its 
depths and had a chilling effect upon the aerial branch of its 
military organization for some weeks. The Zeppelins remained 
at home until the return of better weather. England, for a time, 
was practically freed from the new menace. 

It was not accident alone, nor an adverse fortune, which 
caused the loss of the three airships. The position of the British 
Isles, on the edge of the Atlantic, enabled British weather fore- 
casters to tell with almost unfailing exactness when a storm was 
to be expected. The French also had an excellent service in this 



18 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

direction. Realizing that bad weather was the worst foe of the 
Zeppelin, aside from its own inherent clumsiness, the two gov- 
ernments agreed to suppress publication of weather reports, 
thereby keeping from the Germans information of a vital char- 
acter. The German Government maintained a skilled weather 
department, but the geographical location of the country is such 
that its forecasters could not foretell with the same accuracy the 
conditions on the Atlantic. The shrewd step of the French and 
British therefore resulted in the destruction of three dirigibles 
in a single month, a much higher average than all the efforts of 
land guns and aviators had been able to achieve. 

February, 1915, was a bleak, drear month. Aviators of all 
the armies made daily scouting trips, but wasted little time in at- 
tacking each other. Few raids of importance took place on any 
of the fronts. But British airmen descended upon German posi- 
tions in Belgium on several occasions. Zeebrugge, Ostend, and 
Blankenberghe received their attention in a half dozen visits be- 
tween February 5 and 20. 

On February 16, 1915, a large fleet of aeroplanes, mostly Brit- 
ish, swept along the Flanders coast, attacking defensive posi- 
tions wherever sighted. At the same time, French airmen shelled 
the aeroplane center at Ghistelles, preventing the Germans from 
sending a squadron against the other flotilla. 

Paris, Dunkirk, and Calais glimpsed an occasional enemy aero- 
plane, but they were bent on watching troop movements and only 
a few stray bombs were dropped. The inactivity of the armies, 
burrowed in their winter quarters, was reflected in the air. 

It was announced by the French Foreign Office that from the 
beginning of hostilities up to February 1, 1915, French aircraft 
had made 10,000 reconnaissances, covering a total of more than 
1,250,000 miles. This represented 18,000 hours spent in the air. 

Antwerp, which had surrendered to the Germans, was visited 
by British flyers on March 7, 1915. They bombarded the sub- 
marine plant at Hoboken, a suburb. The plant at this point had 
been quickly developed by the conquerors and the harbor served 
as a refuge for many undersea boats. Numerous attacks on ships 
off the Dutch mainland persuaded the British authorities that a 



RAIDS OF THE AIRMEN 19 

blow at Hoboken would be a telling stroke against German sub- 
marines, and so the event proved. Several ?raft were sunk or 
badly damaged. Bombs set fire to the submarine works and much 
havoc was wrought among the material stored there. A number 
of employees were injured. The Antwerp populace cheered the 
airmen on their trip across the city and back to the British lines, 
for which a fine was imposed upon the city. 

During March, 1915, there was some activity in the East, 
where Zeppelins shelled Warsaw in Poland, killing fifty persons 
and causing many fires. One of the raiders was brought down on 
March 18, and her crew captured. The Russian service suffered 
losses, Berlin announcing the capture of six aeroplanes in a 
single week. One of these was of the Sikorsky type, a giant bat- 
tle plane carrying a half dozen men. 

Shortly after one o'clock on the morning of March 21, 1915, 
two Zeppelins appeared above Paris. Four of the raiders started 
from the German lines originally, but two were forced to turn 
back. They were first seen above Compifcgne, north of which the 
German lines came nearest to Paris. The news was flashed ahead. 
The French airmen rose to meet them. Two of the Zeppelins 
eluded the patrol. Their coming was expected and when they ap- 
proached the city searchlights picked them up and kept the 
raiders in view as they maneuvered above the French capital. 
The French defenders and the Zeppelin commanders met in a 
bold battle in the air. The Zeppelins kept up a running fight with 
pursuing aeroplanes while dropping bombs. They sailed across 
Mt Vaterien, one of the most powerful Paris forts, dropping 
missiles which did little harm. A searchlight from the Eiffel 
Tower kept them in full view. They were forced to move rapidly. 
Finally they swung in a big arc toward Versailles, and then 
turned suddenly and sailed for the heart of the city. Twenty-five 
bombs were dropped. Eight persons were struck and a number 
of fires started. 

The Parisians flocked to the streets and watched the strange 
combat with rapt interest. Although the raiders had come be- 
fore, the spectacle had not lost its fascination. Even though the 
authorities issued strict order? and troops tried to drive the 



20 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

throngs indoors, Parisians persisted in risking life and limb to 
see the Zeppelins battle in the night skies. Upon this occasion 
the battle aloft lasted until after four o'clock in the morning, or 
more than three hours. 

On the same night, March 21, 1915, three bombs were thrown 
upon Villers-Cotterets, fifteen miles southwest of Soissons. There 
was small damage and no casualties. But the two raids em- 
phasized that a few weeks more would see intensive resumption 
of war in the air. 

French aviators shelled Bazincourt, Briey, Brimont, and Vailly 
on March 22, 1915. At Briey, the station was damaged and the 
railway line cut, two of the birdmen descending to within a few 
hundred yards of the track. Enemy batteries at Brimont suffered 
damage. The next day a German machine was shot down near 
Colmar, in Alsace, and its two occupants captured. 

With the return of spring, 1915, came renewed activity among 
airmen on all fronts. The first day of April was marked by the 
loss of two German machines, one near Soissons and the other 
near Rheims. The first fell a victim to gunfire, both occupants 
being killed. The second, an Albatross model, was discovered 
prowling above Rheims. French pilots immediately gave chase 
and after a circuitous flight back and forth across the city, com- 
pelled the enemy machine to land. The pilot and observer were 
overpowered before they had time to set it afire, the usual pro- 
cedure when captured. 

A typical day of this season with the birdmen of France was 
April 2, 1915. A War Office report of that day tells of forty-three 
reconnoitering flights and twenty others for the purpose of at- 
tacking enemy positions or ascertaining the direction of gunfire. 
Bombs were dropped upon the hangars and aviation camp at 
Habsheim. The munition factories at Dietweiler, and the railway 
station in Walheim. The station at Bensdorf and the barracks at 
the same place were shelled from the air. Much damage was done. 

Seven French aeroplanes flew over the Woevre region on this 
day, penetrating as far as Vigneulles, where the aerial observers 
discovered barracks covered with heavy corrugated iron. The 
machines descended in long spirals and dropped a number of 



RAIDS OP THE AIRMEN 21 

bombs, setting the barracks afire. Troops were seen rushing in 
all directions from the burning structures. 

The aviation camp at Coucu-le-Chateau, north of Soissons, and 
the station at Comines, Belgium, were under fire from the air. In 
Champagne a quantity of shells were unloosed upon the station 
at Somme-Py and Dontrein, near Eacille and St Etienne-sur- 
Suippe enemy bivouacs were bombarded. Other bivouacs at 
Basancourt and Pont Fa verger were struck by arrows dropped 
from the skies. 

These numerous raids and reconnaissances were repeated 
every day at many points. German airmen were not less active 
than those of the Allies. Neither side allowed a fine day to pass 
without watching the enemy from the air and striking him at 
such places and times as they could. 

Early on the morning of April 13, 1915, a Zeppelin was dis- 
covered surveying allied gun positions near Ypres, in Belgium* 
The batteries immediately opened fire and several shells found 
their target, judging from the heavy list which the airship de- 
veloped. It was seen to be in serious trouble as it made its 
escape. Amsterdam reported the following day that the craft 
fell near Thielt, a complete wreck. What became of the crew 
never was learned. \ 

The raids on England were now resumed. On April 13, 1915, 
a Zeppelin visited Newcastle-on-Tyne and several near-by towns* 
Newcastle, a great naval station and manufacturing city, had 
been the objective of previous air attacks that brought forth 
little result. The Zeppelin commander, who directed the bom- 
bardment of the thirteenth, was well informed and proceeded 
straight to the arsenal and naval workshops. More than a dozen 
bombs fell. Strangely enough none of these caused material loss, 
and there were no casualties. Dwellings were set afire in other 
quarters of the city. The stir that followed brought England to 
the realization that better weather was dawning and with it an 
imminent peril. Efforts were redoubled to ward off aerial raiders. 

A flotilla of Zeppelins shelled Blyth, Wallsend, and South 
Shields, on the northeastern coast of England on the night of 
April 14, 1915. This attack was directed primarily at the indus- 



22 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

(rial and shipping centers of Tyneside. Berlin claimed a distinct 
success, buttheBritish denied that extensive harm had been done. 

French airmen drove home an attack on April 15, 1915, that 
had important results. The station at Saint-Quentin was shelled 
from the air and upward of 150 freight cars and extensive freight 
sheds destroyed. Some of the cars contained benzol, the explo- 
sion of which spread burning liquid in every direction. Adjacent 
buildings were consumed by the spreading fire and it seemed that 
Saint-Quentin itself might go. Twenty-four German soldiers 
were killed and the fire burned from four o'clock in the after- 
noon until six the next morning, the explosion of shells being 
frequently heard. These facts were communicated to the French 
by spies and prisoners and thus written into the war's record. 

Lowestoft and Maldon, only thirty miles from London, were 
the mark of bombs on the morning of April 16, 1915. The raiders 
arrived at Lowestoft about midnight and released three bombs, 
one of which killed two horses. A half hour later they appeared 
over Maldon, where six bombs were dropped. Several fires broke 
out. There was a panic when searchlights revealed one of the 
raiders still hovering above the city. But he apparently was 
merely bent on learning the extent of his success, as he passed 
on to Hebridge, two miles away, where a building was fired by a 
bursting shell. 

Another German squadron of six craft was sighted at Ipswich, 
approaching from the direction of the channel. A few fires in 
Ipswich and two persons hurt at Southwold were the only evi- 
dences of the visit. This raid was made significant by the fact 
that the squadron paid small attention to towns in its route, pro- 
ceeding to Henham Hall, residence of the Countess Stradbroke, 
near Southwold. It then was used as a hospital for wounded 
soldiers. A half dozen bombs fell in close proximity to the main 
building, but fortunately none of them struck their mark. 

The evening of that day, April 26, 1915, the third raid on 
England in less than twenty-four hours took place. Canterbury, 
Sittingbourne, and Faversham were shelled, all three towns 
being within thirty miles of London. British machines drove the 
invaders off. About half past one of the next morning a Zeppelin 



RAIDS OF THE AIRMEN 23 

dropped seven bombs in the neighborhood of Colchester. It was 
evident from these frequent visitations that the German authori- 
ties were bent on reaching London itself. Nearly every raid 
brought the enemy craft nearer. The gain of almost a mile was 
made on each raid. The Germans were wary and evidently 
suspected that London's air defenses were adequate. The small 
towns which they shelled were of no importance whatever from 
a military standpoint, and such casualties as resulted were in- 
significant as compared to the death roll that London might be 
expected to yield. 

A French squadron engaged in a raid of some consequence on 
April 16, 1915. Leopoldshoehe, east of Rurigue, fell a victim. 
Workshops, where shells were made, came in for a heavy aerial 
bombardment. Fire started which swept away several buildings. 
Equipment and supplies were smashed. Other bombs dropped on 
a powder magazine at Rothwell caused a second fire. The elec- 
tric plant at Maixienes-les-Metz, ten miles north of Metz, which 
supplied the city with light and power, was rendered useless. 
Munition plants and the station in Metz itself suffered, and three 
German aeroplanes guarding the city were compelled to land 
under the guns of the fortress when the French squadron 
turned about. This dash was a profitable one for the French and 
showed a new organization that promised well for the future. 
Just how many machines took part was not learned, hut there 
probably were forty or fifty. North of Ypres French gunners 
brought down a German aeroplane which fell behind the enemy's 
trenches, ablaze from end to end. 

The Germans took similar toll. Several of their flyers shelled 
Amiens on April 17, 1915, dropping bombs which killed or 
wounded ten persons in the vicinity of the cathedral. The in- 
vaders sailed up in the night and descended to a point just above 
the city before dropping the first bomb. They were off in a couple 
of minutes, before pursuing machines could engage them. 

All of these raids were more or less effective. At the time they 
attracted wide attention, but as the war wore on the world be- 
came accustomed to aerial attacks. The total of lives lost and the 
destruction caused never will be accurately known. 



24 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

On April 21, 1915, came news of another trip to Warsaw by 
Zeppelins, a dozen persons being killed. Bombs fell in the center 
of the city and the post-office building was struck. A resumption 
of activity in that quarter was productive of raids, clashes in the 
air and Zeppelin alarms, such as were common in the western 
theatre, but on a lesser scale, as the Russians and Austrians 
possessed only a limited air equipment and the Germans 
were compelled to concentrate the bulk of their machines 
elsewhere. 

In the southern war zone the aerial operations recommenced 
with April, 1915. The Austrians made several more or less futile 
attacks on Venice. Italian cities, especially Venice, Verona, and 
others near the border removed many of their art works to safe 
places, including stained-glass windows from cathedrals, can- 
vases, and statuary. The base of the Campanile, Venice, and 
other historic edifices were protected with thousands of sand- 
bags. The famous horses brought from Constantinople were 
taken down. This denuding process robbed the ancient seat of 
Venetian power of its many splendors, but assured their pres- 
ervation and future restoration. 

The Austrian bombs started numerous fires, tore up a few 
streets, and caused some casualties. In turn, the Italians dashed 
across the Austrian lines and attacked supply bases, railway sta- 
tions, and other vantage points in the same way that the Allies 
were harrowing the Germans on the western front. In this work 
the Italians made use to some extent of their dirigibles, a type 
smaller than the Zeppelin but highly efficient. 

Thirty persons were killed or wounded in Calais on April 26, 
1915, when a Zeppelin succeeded in reaching a point above one 
of the thickly populated sections of the city. The raid took place 
before midnight The visitor was quickly driven away by a 
French machine, but not until the damage had been done. An 
orphanage was among the buildings struck, many of the victims 
being children. A fleet of aeroplanes visited Amiens at about the 
same hour, their efforts being directed to the bombardment of 
ammunition depots near that city. The invaders were driven off 
with small results to show for their work. 



RAIDS OP THE AIRMEN 25 

In a raid on April 28, 1915, upon Friedrichshafen, bo often 
the mark of airmen, several airship sheds and a Zeppelin were 
damaged. A nearly simultaneous bombardment of Leopolds- 
hoehe, Lorrach, and the station at Haltinge resulted in the 
destruction of train sheds and two locomotives. Forty-two mem- 
bers of the Landsturm were killed or wounded at Lorrach and 
two aeroplanes put out of commission, service being cut on the 
railway line. This was the official French version. Geneva gave 
a different and more vivid account. According to the Swiss, the 
French airmen visited Friedrichshafen twice within thirty-six 
hours, destroying five airships, setting fire to several buildings, 
and causing at least $1,000,000 damage. The report said that 
they returned by way of Metz, dropping arrows and bombs, and 
wrecking the station at Lftrrach. 

The east coast of England was the victim of an air raid on 
April 30, 1915. Hostile aircraft were sighted over Ipswich, 
about sixty-five miles from London, shortly after midnight. The 
alarm was spread westward, whence the craft were bound. Five 
bombs fell upon Ipswich, but no one was killed. A few dwell- 
ings and commercial buildings were struck, fires starting which 
the local department soon controlled. Only a few minutes after 
the machines shelled Ipswich, they were seen to approach Bury 
St Edmunds, fourteen miles to the northwest of Ipswich. Three 
bombs failed to produce casualties, but fires were started. Little 
damage resulted. 

On the first day of May, 1915, announcement was made in 
Paris that experiments conducted at Issy les Molineaux over 
several months had brought about successful tests in firing a 
three-inch gun from an aeroplane. This had never been ac- 
complished before, and had seemed a well-nigh impossible task. 
An entirely new piece was developed, firing a shell of about the 
same size as the regular 75-millimeter field gun. It was made 
lighter by half, with an effective range of 2,500 meters, consider- 
ably less than the standard gun. 

French skill in designing weapons, always a trait of the race, 
was evidenced here. The heavy steel breechblock of the seventy- 
five was replaced by a wooden block When fired the explosion 



26 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

of the powder charge automatically blew the wooden breech- 
block backward, thus neutralizing the shock. But owing to the 
open breech much of the powder's driving force was lost. Noth- 
ing to equal the new arm had there been up to that time. The 
wooden breechblock completely did away with the heavy hydraulic 
recoil cylinders which were one of the distinguishing features of 
the seventy-five. These cylinders were esteemed by many author- 
ities to be the finest in the world, absorbing maximum shock 
with a minimum of effort. 

The coming of this new gun marked a big step forward in 
aerial war and gave the French machines so equipped a decided 
advantage. Its effect was to make the German flyers more wary, 
avoiding combat except when impossible to avoid the issue. But 
its use was confined to the larger machines as a rule, particularly 
the Voisin biplane, the machine gun being favored by many air- 
men because of its lightness and the ease with which it could 
be handled. 

The beginning of May, 1915, found aerial warfare in full 
progress again. The British defense squadrons showed some- 
what better generalship and it was not until the tenth of the 
month that Zeppelins obtained any appreciable advantage in 
that quarter. But two of the raiders evaded the patrols on the 
night of May 10, 1915, and dropped bombs upon Westcliff-on- 
Sea, near Southend, at the mouth of the Thames, a bare twenty- 
five miles from London. There were no fatalities, but a man 
and his wife were badly burned when their home caught fire 
from a bursting bomb. At Leigh, near Southend, several shops 
were burned. It was reported that four Zeppelins had been 
seen at Leigh, whereas Westcliff-on-Sea saw but two. If the 
larger number were correct it would indicate that the Germans 
were becoming more determined to reach London. One feature 
of the raid at Westcliff-on-Sea was that of sixty bombs dropped 
only a few struck in the town. Most of them fell on the beach 
and the sand neutralized any effects that the missiles might have 
had. 

The Bull and George Hotel at Ramsgate was completely wrecked 
by bombs which struck it on the night of May 17, 1915. An in- 



RAIDS OF THE AIRMEN 27 

stance of the vagaries of explosives was furnished by this raid. 
One of the bombs which struck the hotel penetrated the roof and 
fell upon a bed on which a woman was sleeping. It wrecked 
the room and tore a great hole in the floor through which the 
bed and occupant fell to the cellar. The sleeper was badly hurt 
and the bed practically uninjured. Fires started by other bombs 
in Ramsgate soon were extinguished. 

Advices from Rotterdam stated that during this raid a Zep- 
pelin fell into the Gierlesche Woods, Belgium, two men being 
hurt The cause of the airship's plight was unknown, but the 
damage made it necessary that the frame be taken apart and 
sent to Germany for repairs. 

One of the oddest combats of the war was staged on this day- 
May 17, 1915. A Zeppelin, flying from the direction of the 
English coast, was sighted in the channel by a French torpedo 
boat. The craft was at a comparatively low altitude and 
furnished an excellent mark. Only a few shots had been fired 
when it was seen to be in distress. The Zeppelin made several 
frantic efforts to rise, then fell into the sea within four miles of 
Gravesline. It sank before aid could be given the crew. 

May 17, 1915, was a bad day for Zeppelins. One of the 
dirigibles supposed to have attacked Ramsgate early that morn- 
iing was discovered off Nieuport, Belgium, by a squadron of 
eight British naval machines which had made a sortie from 
Dunkirk. They surrounded the enemy craft and three of the 
pilots succeeded in approaching close to the Zeppelin. Foul 
bombs were dropped upon the airship from a height of 200 feet 
A column of smoke arose. The Zeppelin looked as though it 
would fall for a moment, but righted itself and mounted to an 
altitude of some 11,000 feet, finally eluding its pursuers. 

Two Zeppelins and two Taubes were caught by daylight after 
a frustrated raid upon Calais on May 18, 1915. They were fired 
upon from many points. A battery at Gros Nez succeeded in 
hitting one of the dirigibles. The other craft of the flotilla stood 
by their injured fellow as long as they dared, but made off after 
a few minutes, as French machines were closing in from all sides. 
The injured Zeppelin dropped on the beach near Fort Mardick, 



28 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

about two miles from Dunkirk. Forty men aboard were taken 
prisoners, including several officers. 

Two women in Southend, England, met death on May 27, 
1915, when Zeppelins visited that city. A child was badly in- 
jured. The lighting plant and several industrial establishments 
suffered damage. Repeated attacks on Southend had resulted 
in the installation of searchlights and the detailing of more 
aviators to guard its citizens. Neither availed to prevent the 
loss of life, but they did succeed in driving away the raiders 
after their first appearance. 

Of all the raids carried out during the spring and summer of 
1915, one of the most important was that upon Ludwigshafen, 
in Bavaria. Here the laboratories of the Badische Anilin und 
Soda Fabrik were located. This plant was said to produce two- 
thirds of the nitrates used in the production of ammunition for 
the German armies. Since the start of the war it had been the 
object of several attacks, none of which had noteworthy results. 

But on the morning of May 26, 1915, eighteen French aero- 
planes started at daybreak from a border stronghold and headed 
straight for Ludwigshafen. They had a supply of gasoline to 
last seven hours and rose to a height of 6,500 feet in order to 
escape detection. In this they did not succeed, but ran into 
several lively cannonades before reaching their destination. Once 
there, they circled above the big chemical works, dropping bomb 
after bomb. More than a ton of explosives were hurled upon the 
buildings in a quarter of an hour. Columns of smoke rose from 
the burning structures. Loud explosions issued from the smoke- 
stacks, sounding like the report of heavy guns. Workmen fled 
in all directions and the whole plant soon was wrapped in flames. 
The airmen lingered about for a short time, watching the results 
of their work. It became evident that the plant would be a total 
loss, and the flames spread to near-by buildings, for a time 
threatening a good part of the city. 

Swiss reports of a few days later said that upward of a 
hundred workmen lost their lives, that scores were hurt and the 
property loss ran well into the millions. The blow was severe, 
the heaviest up to that time which German industries, far from 



ZEPPELINS ATTACK LONDON 29 

the battle front, had sustained. It revealed a new chapter of war 
in the air to communities which would be snugly secure under 
any other condition. On the return trip, ill fortune overtook 
the French flotilla. The machine of its commander found if 
necessary to make a landing. Chief of Squadron, De Goys, and 
Adjutant Bunau-Varilla were captured. They burned their aero- 
plane before being taken prisoners. 



CHAPTER III 



ZEPPELINS ATTACK L N D N — BATTLES 
IN THE AIR 

ENGLAND'S insularity disappeared on the night of May 31, 
1915. The isolation by sea which had kept her immune from 
attack since the days of the Normans failed to save London from 
the Zeppelin. After ten months of war the British capital looked 
upon its dead for the first time. Four children, one woman, and 
one man were killed. An old apple woman died of fright. There 
were numerous fires, only three of which assumed serious pro- 
portions and these were extinguished by the fire department 
after a few hours. 

London's initial glimpse of a Zeppelin was obtained about 
11.80 p. m., when the theatre section was filled with homeward 
bound throngs. The lights attracted the raiders to this district, 
where a half dozen bombs were dropped. No sooner bad the 
first of the missiles fallen than antiaircraft guns began to open 
a bombardment from many directions. Searchlights mounted at 
advantageous points threw their narrow pencils of light into the 
skies. The people in different sections of the city caught a 
fleeting glance of a huge airship that floated sullenly along, like 
some bird of prey from out of the past — a new pterodactyl that 
instead of seizing its victims dropped death upon them. 

One shell fell in Trafalgar Square. The Zeppelins passed over 
the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, and other famous build- 



80 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

ings, but apparently did not have their location well in mind as 
these noted monuments escaped harm. 

But the Zeppelins had come. And they left scars which greeted 
Londoners the following morning to prove that the raid was 
not a bad dream which would disappear with the morning mists. 
In addition to the four persons killed, seventy others were in- 
jured, some of whom suffered the loss of limbs and other injuries 
that incapacitated them. Immediately there was a cry for 
revenge. Some of the newspapers advocated reprisals upon 
German cities. This the government refused to do and stead- 
fastly adhered to a policy of war upon fortified places and armed 
men alone. Rioting took place in many districts where Germans 
were numerous. Shops and homes were looted. Every Ger- 
man who appeared in the streets, or any person who looked like 
one, was liable to attack. A number of aliens were badly 
handled. The public declared a spontaneous boycott upon every 
person having a name that seemed to be of German origin. 
There was a united movement to obtain some reparation for the 
Zeppelin raids. But the results were only trifling and the in- 
dignation died down with the passing days, British calmness 
soon succeeding the excitement of a moment. 

Italian frontier towns became the goal of Austrian airmen 
on June 1, 1915. A half dozen persons were killed or injured 
and there was some property damaged. With warm weather 
and good flying conditions raids were in order every day. 

On June 3, 1915, British aviators made a successful attack 
upon German airship sheds at Evere, Belgium. The same day 
French machines bombarded the headquarters of the crown 
prince in the Argonne, with what results never was definitely 
established, although there were reports that several high officers 
had been killed. 

It was made known in London on June 3, 1915, that Great 
Britain and Germany had agreed to a plan for the protection of 
public buildings from air raids. According to this agreement 
hospitals, churches, museums, and similar buildings were to 
have large white crosses marked upon their roofs. Both 
governments pledged themselves to respect these crosses. Much 



ZEPPELINS ATTACK LONDON 31 

importance was attached to the idea at the time, but its effects 
were disappointing. The marks either were not readily perceiv- 
able from an aeroplane or the pilots did not trouble themselves 
too much about the crosses. Public buildings continued to suffer. 

On the night of June 4, 1915, German dirigibles attacked 
towns at the mouth of the Humber, the port and shipping of 
Hardwich, in England. There were some casualties and con- 
siderable properly loss, but the British Government would not 
make public the extent of the damage as the places attacked 
were of naval importance. Calais, on the French coast was 
raided the next day by two German airmen. There was one 
casualty. England's east coast was visited by Zeppelins on the 
night of June 6, 1915, twenty-four persons being killed and forty 
hurt. There was much damage, all details of which were 
suppressed. 

Just after the break of day on June 7, 1915, a British mono- 
plane was returning from a scouting trip over Belgium. At the 
same hour a Zeppelin flew homeward from the English coast. 
The two met between Ghent and Brussels. Four persons had 
been killed and forty injured during the night at Yarmouth and 
other near-by towns on the East channel coast. Raids had been 
frequent of late and the British pilot sensed the fact that this 
Zeppelin was one of the dreaded visitors. He was several miles 
away when the big aircraft hove into view. Uncertain for a 
few minutes how to proceed, he rose until he was two thousand 
feet above the Zeppelin. His maneuver was not appreciated at 
first, or the Zeppelin crew did not see him. There was no attempt 
either to flee or give battle. 

But as the monoplane drew nearer it was sighted and a com- 
bat followed such as never was seen before. Sub-Lieutenant 
R. A. J. Warneford, a young Canadian who had not reached 
twenty-one years of age, matched his pygmy machine against 
the great aerial dreadnought. The fight started at a height of 
6,000 feet. Lieutenant Warneford released his first bomb when 
about 1,000 feet above the Zeppelin. He saw it strike the airbag 
and disappear, followed by a puff of smoke. Because of the 
sectional arrangement this did not disable thp airship. The 

C— War St. 4 



32 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Lieutenant circled off and again approached the Zeppelin. Every 
gun was trained upon him that could be brought to bear. The 
wings of his machine were shattered many times, but he kept 
on fighting. When once more above the enemy craft, he released 
another bomb. It also struck the Zeppelin, but appeared to 
glance off. 

The antagonists resorted to every conceivable ruse, one to 
escape, the other to bring down its quarry. All efforts of the 
Zeppelin commander to reach the height of his antagonist were 
defeated. His lone enemy kept above him. The battle varied 
from an altitude of 6,000 to 10,000 feet Three other bombs 
struck the airship, and each time there was the telltale wisp of 
smoke. 

The Zeppelin was mortally injured. Her commander turned 
to earth for refuge. Seeing this, Lieutenant Warnef ord came 
nearer. He had but one bomb left Descending to within a few 
hundred feet of the airship, while its machine guns played upon 
him, he released this remaining bomb. It struck the Zeppelin 
amidship. There was a flash, a roar, and a great burst of smoke 
as the vanquished craft exploded and plunged nose downward. 
The rush of air caused by the explosion upset the equilibrium 
of the victorious machine, which dropped toward the ground and 
turned completely over before its pilot could regain control. The 
presence of mind which he showed at this juncture, was one of 
the most remarkable features of this remarkable conflict. 

The young Canadian pilot righted his machine in time to see 
the Zeppelin end its career. Like a flaming comet it fell upon the 
convent of Le Grand Beguinage de Sainte Elizabeth, located in 
Mont Saint Amand, a suburb of Ghent. This convent was used 
as an orphanage. The burning airship set fire to several build- 
ings, causing the death of two sisters and two children. The 
twenty-eight men aboard were killed. Accounts from Amster- 
dam a day or two later gave a vivid description of the charred 
remnants of the machine, the burned convent buildings, and the 
victims all piled together. 

Lieutenant Warnef ord saw the Zeppelin fall and knew that its 
raiding days were over. Then he discovered that his own ma- 



ZEPPELINS ATTACK LONDON 33 

chine was in trouble. In another moment he realized the im- 
possibility of returning to the British lines, and was compelled to 
volplane toward earth, cutting off his driving power. Descend- 
ing in a soft field, he found that his motor was out of order. 
Thirty precious minutes were spent repairing the damage. It 
took him as long again to get his machine started, a task not 
often accomplished by one man. But he sailed serenely home and 
brought the news of his strange victory. 

Within twenty-four hours Lieutenant Warnef ord was the hero 
of the world. His name and achievement had been flashed to 
the four corners of the earth. Every newspaper rang with 
acclaim for the boyish aviator who had shown that one man of 
skill and daring was a match for the huge Zeppelin. It was the 
old story of David and Goliath, of the Roman youth who bested 
the Gaul, of Drake's improvised fleet against the Armada. The 
lieutenant was called to London and presented with the Victoria 
Cross by King George, who thanked him in the name of the 
British Empire for adding another laurel to the long list of its 
honors. A day or two later President Poincarg received him in 
Paris and pinned the Legion of Honor cross upon his breast. 

But this same week saw the climax of this war romance — a 
tragic ending to a war epic. Lieutenant Warnef ord was practic- 
ing with a new French machine at Versailles. He either lost 
control or the motor failed him. It dropped to earth, killing the 
pilot and an American newspaper correspondent who was in the 
observer's seat. This sudden end to a career so brilliant, the 
cutting off of a future so promising, cast a pall over the minds 
of both the French and British airmen. The body of Lieutenant 
Warnef ord lay in state at the French capital and afterward in 
London, where every honor was shown his memory. 



34 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

CHAPTER IV 

VENICE ATTACKED — OTHER RAIDS 

BRITISH airmen visited Ghent on June 8, 1915, where several 
ammunition depots were fired. The railway station was hit 
and a number of German troops in a train standing there killed 
or hurt. 

On June 9, 1915, Venice was shelled by Austrian aviators, 
bombs falling near St. Mark's and setting a number of fires. 
There were no casualties as far as known. 

An Italian airship squadron raided Pola, the principal Aus- 
trian naval base, on June 14, 1915. Pola has one of the best 
harbors on the Adriatic and is an exceptionally strong position. 
It was from there that Austrian warships and aircraft made 
their attacks upon Italian and other allied shipping. The city 
had a big arsenal and miscellaneous war plants. The arsenal 
was struck by some of the bombs dropped during this raid, ship- 
ping in the harbor was bombarded, and one warship badly dam- 
aged. This was perhaps the most valuable accomplishment of 
the Italian air service in offensive actions up to that time. Con- 
trary to what might be expected from the Latin temperament, 
Italy had confined herself to the use of aircraft for scouting pur- 
poses almost exclusively. The campaign in Tripoli had taught 
her their value, and she had not shown a disposition to bombard 
Austrian cities in reply to attacks upon her own people. 

The visit of the Zeppelins to London had aroused not only the 
ire of Britain, but that of her French allies. It was decided to 
take reprisals. Forty-five French machines left the eastern 
border during the night of June 15, 1915, and set their journey 
toward Karlsruhe. Some of the craft were large battle planes; 
all of them had speed and carrying capacity. Approaching 
Karlsruhe they at first were taken for German machines, by 
reason of the location of Karlsruhe far from the front. 

The squadron divided and approached the city from a half 
dozen different directions, dripping bombs as they came. One of 



VENICE ATTACKED 35 

the largest chemical plants in Germany was set afire and burned 
to the ground. Both wings of the Margrave's Palace were struck 
and one of them practically ruined. In the opposite wing, which 
escaped with only slight damage, the Queen of Sweden, who is a 
German by birth, was sleeping. She was said to have missed 
death only by a few inches. Other titled persons in the palace 
had narrow escapes. A collection of art works was ruined. De- 
spite the fire of antiaircraft guns the French machines hovered 
above the city and dropped bombs at will, again proving that 
there was no sufficient protection against air attacks except by 
flotillas of equal force. 

Within a half hour flames started in many sections of the city. 
The chemical and other plants were burned. Karlsruhe's citizens 
were made to realize the losses which German airmen had in- 
flicted upon the noncombatants of other countries. According 
to the best advices 112 persons were killed and upward of 300 
wounded. The maximum number admitted by the Germans to 
have been injured was 19 killed and 14 wounded. But persons 
arriving in Geneva, for weeks after the raid, told of the whole- 
sale destruction and large casualties. The victims were buried 
with honors, and the German Government issued a statement 
deploring the "senseless" attack. This was one of the few raids 
made by aviators of the allied powers in which the lives of non- 
combatants were lost. That it was a warning and not an adopted 
policy is indicated by the fact that it was not followed up with 
other raids. 

Zeppelins were seen off the east coast of England about mid- 
night on June 16, 1915. They left in their wake one of the long- 
est casualty lists resulting from aerial raids upon England up to 
that time. South Shields was the principal sufferer. Sixteen 
persons were killed and forty injured. The Zeppelins devoted 
their attention to the big Armstrong works principally. Guns 
and munitions of almost every description were being made 
there, and the raid was planned to wreck the establishment. 
This attempt was partially successful, but the buildings destroyed 
soon were replaced and operations at the plant never ceased. 
The extent of the damage was kept secret, but the number 



36 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

of victims again caused indignation throughout the British 
Empire. 

One result of this raid was a demand in the House of Com- 
mons on June 24, 1915, that the public be informed as to defense 
measures against air raids. The Government had evaded the 
question at every opportunity, and up to that time kept discus- 
sion of the subject down to the minimum. But on this occasion 
the Commons were not to be easily disposed of, and insisted upon 
an answer. This was promised for a future day, but Home 
Secretary Brace announced that 24 men, 21 women, and 11 chil- 
dren had died as a result of attacks from the air since the war 
began. He said that 86 men, 35 women, and 17 children had 
been wounded. Of these a percentage died later. The secretary 
intimated that the Government was keeping a, record of every 
pound's worth of damage and every person injured, with the 
expectation of making Germany reimburse. 

The South Shields attack led to further expansion of the air 
service and redoubled measures to check the raiders. It seems 
likely that not a few aircraft have been captured about which 
the British Government made no report. What the motives for 
this secrecy are it would be hard to decide. But a guess may be 
hazarded that, as in the case of certain submarine crews, it is 
intended to charge some aviators and Zeppelin crews with mur- 
der after the war is over, and try them by due process of law. 
For a time the Government kept a number of men taken from 
submarines, known to have caused the loss of noncombatant 
lives, in close confinement. Germany retaliated upon army 
officers, and the British were compelled to retire from their 
position. It has been hinted that in the case of the Zeppelin 
raiders she had quietly locked up a number of them without 
announcing her purpose to the world. 

The closing days of June, 1915, brought two raids on Paris. 
Taubes in one instance, and Zeppelins in another were held up 
by the air patrol and driven back, a few bombs being dropped on 
Saint Cloud. The work of the Paris defense forces was notably 
good during the summer of 1915, countless incursions being 
halted before the capital was reached. 



VENICE ATTACKED 37 

What may have been intended as a raid equal to the Cuxhaven 
attack was attempted on July 4, 1915, but was foiled by the 
watchfulness of the Germans. Cruisers and destroyers ap- 
proached German positions on an unnamed bay of the North 
Sea, and a squadron of British seaplanes rose from the vessels. 
German airmen promptly went aloft and drove off the invaders. 
The set-to took place near the island of Terschelling off the 
Netherlands. When convinced that the Germans were fully 
ready to meet them the British turned back and put out to the 
open sea. It was intimated from Berlin that a considerable naval 
force had been engaged on the British side. There was a good 
deal of mystery about the incident. 

Perhaps the most important accomplishment of the British 
flying men during July, 1915, as concerns actual fighting, was 
the destruction of three Taubes at the mouth of the Thames. 
The invaders were sighted while still at sea and the word wire- 
lessed ahead. Four British machines mounted to give battle, and 
after a stirring contest above the city brought down two of the 
Taubes. They were hit in midair, and one of them caught fire. 
The burning machine dropping headlong to earth furnished a 
spectacle that the watchers are not likely to forget. The third 
Taube was winged after a long flight seaward and sank beneath 
the waves, carrying down both occupants. This contest took 
place July 20, 1915, and followed several visits to England by 
Zeppelins, none of which had important results. 

On July 21, 1915, French aviators made three conspicuous 
raids. A squadron of six machines descended upon Colmar in 
Alsace, dropping ninety-one shells upon the passenger and 
freight stations. Both broke into flames, and the former was 
almost wholly destroyed, tying up traffic on the line, the object 
of all attacks upon railroad stations, except at such times as 
troops were concentrated there or trains were standing on the 
tracks ready to load or unload soldiers. 

The second raid of this day was especially interesting, because 
a dirigible and not an aeroplane was employed, the French sel- 
dom using the big craft so much favored by the Germans. 
Vigneulles and the Hatton Chattel in the St Mihiel salient were 



38 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

the objectives of the dirigible. A munition depot and the 
Vigneulles station were shelled successfully. The third air 
attack was made upon Challerange, near Vouziers, by four 
French aeroplanes. Forty-eight bombs were dropped on the 
station there, a junction point and one of the German lesser 
supply bases. The damage was reported to have halted reen- 
ilorcements for a position nearby where the French took a trench 
section on this same day. Accepting the report as true, it 
exemplifies the unison of army units striving for the same pur* 
pose by remarkably different methods and weapons. 

The French kept busy during this month of July, 1915, with 
raids upon Metz and intermediate positions. Metz is the first 
objective of what the French hope will be a march to the Rhine, 
and since the start of the war the Germans there have Jiad no 
rest. 

On July 28, 1915, Nancy was visited by a flock of Zep- 
pelins and a number of bombs dropped which did considerable 
damage in that war-scarred city. Eleven or twelve persons 
were killed. 

During the night of July 29-30, 1915, a French aviator shelled 
a plant in Dornach, Alsace, where asphyxiating gas was being 
made. Several of his bombs went home and a tremendous ex- 
plosion took place that almost wrecked the machine. But the 
driver returned safely. An air squadron also visited Freiburg, so 
often the target of airmen, and released bombs upon the railway 
station. 

French airmen were extremely active on July 29, 1915. One 
flotilla bombarded the railroad between Ypres and Roulers, near 
Passchendaele, tearing up the track for several hundred yards. 
German bivouacs in the region of Longueval, west of Combles, 
also were shelled from the air, and German organizations on the 
Brimont Hill, near Rheims, served as targets for French bird- 
men. A military station on the railway at Chattel was shelled, 
and the station at Burthecourt in Lorraine damaged. Forty-five 
French machines dropped 103 bombs on munition factories and 
adjoining buildings at Pechelbronn, near Wissemburg. 



PART III— THE WESTERN FRONT 



CHAPTER V 

SUMMARY OF FIRST YEAR'S OPERATIONS 

THE first anniversary of the war on the western front fell on 
August 2, 1915. It was on Tuesday, July 28, of the previous 
year that Count Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian Foreign 
Minister, had pressed the button in "the powder magazine of 
Europe" — the Balkans — by declaring war on Serbia. 

For two days the world looked on in breathless, wondering 
suspense. Then, like a series of titanic thunderbolts hurled in 
quick succession, mighty events shaped themselves with a violence 
and a rapidity that staggered the imagination. 

On July 31, 1914, "a state of war" was proclaimed in Ger- 
many; the next day (August 1) that country declared war on 
Russia; on August 2, 1914, Germany delivered her ultimatum 
to Belgium and invaded both France and Luxemburg, following 
up these acts with a declaration of war against France on the 
3d of the same month. 

Before the sun had risen and set again there came the climax 
to that most sensational week: Great Britain had thrown her 
weight into the scales against the Teutonic Powers. This oc- 
curred on August 4, 1914, the same day that the German frontier 
force under General von Emmich came into contact with the 
Belgian pickets before Liege. 

After thirty-six hours of fighting the southern forts were cap- 
tured and the city fell into German hands on August 7, 1914. . It 
was not until the 15th, however, that General Leman, the Belgian 
commander, was conquered in his last stronghold, the northern 
fort of Loncin. When that fell, the railway system of the 

3* 



40 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

Belgian plains lay open to the invaders. Leman's determined 
stand had delayed the German advance for at least a week, and 
afforded an extremely valuable respite for the unprepared 
French and British armies. 

The first drafts of the British Expeditionary Force landed 
in France on August 16, 1914. On August 7, 1914, a French 
brigade from Belfort had crossed the frontier into Alsace 
and taken the towns of AltWrch and Mulhausen, which, 
however, they were unable to hold for more than three days. 
Between August 7 and August 15, 1914, large bodies of Ger- 
man cavalry with infantry supports crossed the Meuse be- 
tween Liege and the Dutch frontier, acting as a screen for the 
main advance. The Belgian army, concentrated on the Dyle, 
scored some successes against the Germans at Haelen, Tirlemont, 
and Engherzee on the 12th and 13th, but after the fall of Fort 
Loncin the German advance guards fell back and the main Ger- 
man right under Von Kluck advanced toward Brussels. On the 
19th the Belgians began to withdraw to the fortress of Antwerp. 
Brussels fell to the Germans on the 20th. Von Kluck turned 
toward the Sambre and Von Billow advanced along the Meuse to 
Namur. On the opposite bank (the right) of the Meuse the 
Saxon army of Von Hausen moved against Namur and Dinant, 
while farther south the German Crown Prince and the Duke of 
Wiirttemberg pushed their forces toward the French frontier. 
Meanwhile, General de Castelnau, commanding the French right, 
had seized most of the passes of the Vosges, overrun upper 
Alsace almost to the Rhine, and had reached Saarburg on the 
Metz-Strassburg railway. On August 20, 1914, the Germans at- 
tacked Namur, captured it on the 23d, and demolished the last 
forts on the 24th. This unexpected event placed the Allies in an 
extremely critical situation, which led to serious reverses. The 
British force on the left was in danger of being enveloped in Von 
Kluck's wheeling movement; the fall of Namur had turned the 
flank of the Fourth and Fifth French armies; the latter was 
defeated by Von Btilow at Charleroi on the 22d; the pressure 
exerted by the armies of the Duke of Wiirttemberg and the 
crown prince also contributed to render inevitable an immediate 



SUMMARY OF FIRST YEAR'S OPERATIONS 41 

retirement of the allied right and center. The French army that 
had invaded Lorraine — a grave strategical blunder — had also 
come to grief. The Bavarians from Metz had broken its left 
wing on the 20th and driven it back over the frontier. De 
Castelnau was fighting desperately for Nancy on a long front 
from Pont-&-Mousson down to St. Di6. On the 24th the British 
line fell back to the vicinity of Maubeuge, where Von Kluck 
attempted to close it in. Sir John French frustrated the plan by 
further retiring to a line running through Le Cateau and Land* 
recies, August 25, 1914. After a violent holding battle during 
two days the whole British front had fallen back to St. Quentin 
and the upper valley of the Oise. 

It was General Joffre's plan to retreat to a position south 
of the Marne, where his reserves would be available, a move- 
ment which was successfully carried out by all parts of the 
allied line during the following week. By September 5, 1914, 
this line extended from the southeast of Paris, along the 
southern tributaries of the Marne, across the Champagne 
to a point south of Verdun. Beyond that, De Castelnau 
was still holding the heights in front of Nancy. The powerful 
German advance had forced the Allies back some hundred and 
thirty miles, almost to the shelter of the Paris fortifications. It 
seemed only a matter of hours to the fall of Paris when General 
Joffre began his counteroffensive on September 6, 1914. At- 
tempting to pierce and envelop the allied left center, Von Kluck 
marched across the front of the British to strike at the Fifth 
French Army commanded by General d'Esperey, who had re- 
placed Lanrezac after the Charleroi defeat. But the turn of the 
tide was at hand. The Sixth French Army from Paris, under 
General Manoury, fiercely attacked Von Kluck's rear guards on 
the Ourcq; Sir John French drove against the right of the main 
German advance; the Fifth and Ninth French armies held the 
front of Von Kluck and Von Bulow; the Fourth French Army 
south of Vitry resisted the piercing movement of the Duke of 
Wflrttemberg, and the Third French Army (General Sarrail) 
checked the crown prince at Verdun, while De Castelnau at 
Nancy entered upon the final stage of the battle of Lorraine. The 



42 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

first great German offensive had failed in its purpose. By 
September 12, 1914, the whole German front was retreating 
northward. The Aisne plateau, where the Germans came to a halt, 
is considered one of the strongest defensive positions in Europe, 
and General Joffre soon realized that it could not be taken by 
direct assault. He therefore attempted to envelop the German 
right and extended his left wing— with a new army — up the 
valley of the Oise. Some desperate German counterattacks were 
met at Rheiins and south of Verdun, but they achieved small 
success beyond creating a sharp salient in their line at St. 
MihiSl, where the invaders managed to cross the Meuse. Gen- 
eral Sarrail defended Verdun with a field army in a wide circle 
of intrenchments, with the result that the crown prince was 
unable to bring the great howitzers within range of the fortress, 
and his army suffered a severe defeat in the Argonne. 

The allied stand on the Marne and the resultant battle not 
only checked the German avalanche and saved Paris, but dis- 
located the fundamental principle of the whole German plan of 
campaign — to crush France speedily with one mighty blow and 
then deal with Russia. 

On September 3, 1914, the Russians had already captured 
Lemberg— two days before the allied retreat from Mons came to 
a sudden halt on the Marne. On that same day, too, the French 
Government had been removed from Paris to Bordeaux in antici- 
pation of the worst. Having secured the capital against immedi- 
ate danger, General Joffre now began to extend his line for a 
great enveloping movement against the German right. He 
placed the new Tenth Army under Maud'huy north of De Cas- 
telnau's force, reaching almost to the Belgian frontier. The 
small British army under Sir John French moved north of that, 
and the new Eighth French Army, under General d'Urbal, was 
intended to fill the gap to the Channel. With remarkable flexi- 
bility the Germans initiated the movement with their right as 
fast as the French extended their left, and the whole strategy 
of both sides developed into a feverish race for the northern 
shore. Before General d'Urbal could reach his appointed sector, 
however, that "gap" had been filled by the remnants of the Bel- 



SUMMARY OP FIRST YEAR'S OPERATIONS 43 

gian army, liberated after the fall of Antwerp on October 9, 1914. 
By a narrow margin the Allies had won the race, but were unable 
to carry out the intended offensive. Desperate conflicts raged 
for a month, but they succeeded in holding the gate to the 
Channel ports. The first battle of Ypres-Armentieres opened on 
October 11, 1914, when the Germans attacked simultaneously at 
Ypres, Armentidres, Arras, and La Bass6e. As a victory at either 
of the two last-named places would have amply sufficed for the 
German purpose, this fourfold attack appears to be a rather 
curious division of energy. The passages at Arras and La 
Bass6e were held by General Maudliuy and General Smith- 
Dorrien respectively. The former defended his position for the 
first three weeks in October when the German attacks weakened ; 
the latter, with the British Second Corps, had reached the far- 
thest point in the La Bass6e position by October 19, 1914. Violent 
fighting occurred round this sector during the latter part of 
October, and, though compelled to yield ground occasionally, the 
British fores* prevented any serious German advance. In the 
early stage of the struggle the Belgian army and a brigade of 
French marines held the Yser line. A British squadron, operat- 
ing from the Channel, broke the attack of the German right, and 
during the last week of October the Belgians held the middle 
crossings, with the assistance of part of the French Eighth 
Army. All immediate danger was removed from this section by 
October 31, 1914, after the Belgians had flooded the country and 
driven the Wurttembergers back at Ramscapelle. 

Returning to Ypres, we have stated that the Germans attacked 
four different points in this region, on October 11, 1914. By the 
20th, however, it became apparent that their main objective was 
the Ypres salient — neither the best nor the easiest route to the 
sea. What, then, was the motive underlying this particular phase 
of the German strategic plan? It would be pure presumption — 
taking that word at its worst meaning— to criticize the deep 
and crafty calculations of the German war staff. A reason — 
and a good reason — there must have been. What the historian 
cannot explain he may, perhaps, be permitted to speculate upon 
in order to arrive at some working hypothesis. Hence, would it 



44 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

be considered an extravagant flight of fancy to assume that the 
German decision was influenced by the very simple fact that the 
British Expeditionary Force was concentrated in and around 
Ypres? Skillful stage management is useful even in the grim 
drama of war, and the defeat or elimination of the British forces 
in the first great battle of the war would indeed have produced 
a most sensational effect with almost incalculable results. Be 
that as it may, the first battle of Ypres has already been accorded 
its position in the British calendar as "the greatest fight in the 
history of our army." There is yet another distinction that 
battle can claim : it was the first mighty collision between Anglo- 
Saxon and Teuton in the history of mankind. They had fought 
shoulder to shoulder in the past — never face to face. French 
troops also took part in the battle; they consisted of territorials, 
some cavalry, and Dubois's Ninth Corps; but the heaviest blows 
were delivered with whole-hearted force and energy upon the 
British line. This remarkable fight lasted nearly a month. Dur- 
ing its progress the Allies withstood some half a million German 
troops with a force that never exceeded 150,000 in number. 

Before the last thunderous echoes of Ypres had melted away in 
space, dreary winter spread its mantle over the combatants with 
impartial severity. During the next three months the opposing 
forces settled down and heavily intrenched themselves and then 
began that warfare at present familiar to the world, resembling 
huge siege operations. The Allies were fighting for time — the Ger- 
mans against it. The allied commanders aimed at wearing down 
the man-power of the enemy by a series of indecisive actions in 
which his losses should be disproportionally greater than their own. 

The most important events of the winter campaign were the 
fight near La Bass6e in December, 1914, where the British Indian 
Corps distinguished itself; the fighting at Givenchy in January 
and February, 1915; the battle at Soissons in January, 1915, 
where the French lost some ground ; the long struggle in northern 
Champagne during February and March, 1915, where the French 
first made use of artillery on a grand scale; and some consider- 
able actions in the neighborhood of Pont-&-Mousson and the 
southeast valleys of the Vosges. 



SUMMARY OF FIRST YEAR'S OPERATIONS 45 

In March, 1915, the Allies began what has been described as a 
tentative offensive. Between March 10 and Mar?h 12, 1915, the 
British advanced about a mile on a front of three miles at Neuve 
Chapelle, but the aim of the operations, which were directed 
against Lille, could not be achieved. Early in April the French 
carried the heights of Les Eparges, which commanded the main 
communications of the Woevre, an action that led to a general 
belief that the Allies' summer offensive would be aimed at Metz. 
But the plan — if it ever was entertained — was abandoned toward 
the end of April, 1915, when the critical situation of the Russians 
in Galicia made it imperative to create a diversion in another 
area, where the effects would be more quickly felt. Before the 
French attack could mature, however, the second battle of Ypres 
was developing. 

The Germans began shelling Ypres on April 20, 1915, to prevent 
reenf orcements from entering the salient, and in the evening of 
April 22, 1915, they made their first attack with poisonous gas. A 
French division lying between the canal and the Pilken road had 
the first experience of this new horror added to the methods of 
warfare. Much has been written in condemnation of employing 
poisonous gas, and the practice has been widely discussed from 
the "moral" and "humane" point of view. The Germans claim 
that the French used it first — a contention not supported by 
evidence. "On the general moral question," says Mr. John 
fiuchan, the well-known English writer on military subjects, "it 
is foolish to dogmatize." He points out that all war is barbarous 
in essence, and that a man who died in torture from the effects of 
poison gas might have suffered equal agony from a shrapnel 
wound. Hence he draws the conclusion that the German innova- 
tion, if not particularly more barbarous than other weapons, 
was at least impolitic, since its employment raised a storm of 
indignation and exasperated the feelings of Germany's enemies. 
Be that as it may, the poison clouds proved very effective at 
Ypres during April and May, 1915. The French line was driven 
in and the left brigade of the Canadians on their right was 
forced back in a sharp angle. For the first five days the northern 
side of the salient was steadily pressed in by gas and artillery 



46 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

attacks. This, the second battle of Ypres, ended about May 24, 
1915; it had lasted practically as long as the first battle, though 
the fighting had been less continuous. The Germans were mean- 
while striving desperately to force a decision in Galicia and 
Poland, simultaneously fighting a long-range holding battle in 
the west with fewer men and more guns. 

On May 10, 1915, began the great attack by the French in the 
Artois, aimed at securing Lens and the communications of the 
Scheldt valley. After violent artillery-fire preparations, the 
French center south of Carency was pushed forward a distance 
of three miles. In a few days they took the towns of Albain, 
Carency, Neuville St. Vaast, and most of Souchez, besides the 
whole plateau of Lorette. But the Germans had prepared a 
number of fortins, which had to be captured before any general 
advance could be made. This mode of warfare enables a nu- 
merically inferior force well supplied with ammunition to resist 
for a considerable time the most resolute attacks. The French 
army was still engaged in this operation when the first anni- 
versary of the war dawned. The situation at the moment is 
summarized in a French official communique as follows : "There 
has been no great change on the western front for many months. 
Great battles have been fought, the casualties have been heavy on 
both sides, but territorial gains have been insignificant/' 



CHAPTER VI 



FIGHTING IN ARTOIS AND THE 
VOSGES 

ON the first of August, 1915, the situation on the western 
front was as follows : The position of the Belgian troops has 
been described ; the British held the line from the north of Ypres 
to the south of La Bassle. The Germans had closed in to some 
extent round Ypres during the two big battles, and the trenches 
now ran in a semicircle about the city at a distance of from 



FIGHTING IN ARTOIS AND THE VOSGES 47 

two and one-half to three miles. The line turned south at St 
Eloi, skirted the west of the Messines ridge, turned east again 
at Ploegstreet Wood, and south to the east of Armenti&res. 
Hence the trenches extended south westward to Neuve Chapelle 
and Festhubert to La Bass6e. The remainder of the front — 
down to the Swiss frontier — was defended by the French, along 
by Lille, Rheims, and the fortresses of Verdun, Toul, Epinal, 
and Belfort. 

After the battles of May and June, 1915, in Artois, activity 
on the western front became concentrated in the Vosges, where 
the French by a series of comparatively successful engagements 
had managed to secure possession of more favorable positions 
and to retain them in spite of incessant and violent counter- 
attacks. The supreme object of the allied commanders at this 
stage was to wear down their opponents through vain and costly 
counteroffensives, and to absorb the German local resources in 
that sector. It had been decided by the Allies to begin a fresh 
offensive on the western front in August, 1915, but owing to 
incomplete preparations, the attempt was of necessity postponed 
till the third week in September. It was extremely urgent that 
some determined move should be made as speedily as possible; 
the Russians were suffering defeat and disaster in the east, and 
were already retreating from Warsaw in the first days of August, 
1915. The British and the French meanwhile could do little more 
than engage in local actions until their arrangements for offen- 
sive operations on a vast scale should be completed. On the other 
side, the Germans were also busily making preparations to pro- 
vide against every possibility in case of retreat New lines of 
defenses were constructed across Belgium; formidable complex 
trenches guarded by barbed-wire entanglements; concrete bases 
for heavy guns connected by railways; and a large fortified 
station was erected. These preparations rendered possible a 
very rapid transportation of troops and munitions to Brabant 
and Antwerp. 

The fighting on the western front during August, 1915, may 
be described as a fierce, continuous battle, a lively seesaw of cap- 
turing and recapturing positions, followed at regular intervals 

D— War St. 4 



48 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

by the publication of the most contradictory "official" reports 
from the German, French, and British headquarters. Many of 
them gave diametrically opposite accounts of the same events. 
In the first week of the month the Germans made furious 
attacks against the French positions at Lingekopf and Barren- 
kopf. All through the Argonne forest the combatants pelted 
each other with bombs, hand grenades, and other newly invented 
missiles. Several determined attempts were made by the Ger- 
mans to recapture the positions lost at Schratzmannele and 
Reichsackerkopf, but the French artillery fire proved too 
strong. Soissons was again bombarded; desperate night attacks 
were delivered around Souchez, on the plateau of Quennevi&rest 
and in the valley of the Aisne ; local engagements were fought in 
Belgium and along parts of the British front; trenches were 
mined and shattered, while aeroplanes scattered bombs and 
fought thrilling duels in the air. The Belgians were forced 
partly to evacuate their advanced positions over the river 
Yser, near Heraisse, south of Dixmude. In the Argonne the 
Germans, by a strong infantry charge, penetrated the first 
line of the French trenches, but were unable to hold their 
ground. 

On August 9, 1915, a squadron of thirty-two large French 
aeroplanes carrying explosives, and accompanied by a number 
of lighter machines to act as scouts, set out to bombard the 
important mining and manufacturing town of Saarbriicken, on 
the river Saar, in Rhenish Prussia. This was where the first en- 
gagement in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 was fought. 
Owing to mist and heavy clouds, only twenty-eight of the aero- 
planes succeeded in locating the town, where they dropped one 
hundred and sixty bombs of large caliber. A number of Ger- 
man aviators ascended as soon as the flotilla's arrival had been 
signaled, and a lively skirmish ensued between them and the 
French scouts. The results and casualties of the raid have not 
leaked out 

The German General Staff was evidently not unacquainted 
with the fact that the Allies had a big "drive" in contemplation. 
Most of the fighting had been forced by the Germans with ever- 



FIGHTING IN ARTOIS AND THE VOSGES 49 

increasing violence and energy. Toward the middle of August, 
1915, tEeir attacks became fiercer still. After a deadly bombard- 
ment that literally flattened the countryside, and in which shells 
of all calibers as well as asphyxiating gas bombs were hurled 
against the French positions between the Binarville-Vienne-le* 
Chateau road and the Houyette ravine in the Argonne, the Ger- 
man infantry dashed from their trenches in great numbers and 
close formation and charged across the intervening ground. So 
furious was the onslaught that the French were driven well 
back out of their shattered defenses. Within a few hours strong 
reenf orcements hurried to the spot enabled the French to deliver 
a counterattack and recover some of the lost ground. Simul- 
taneously, the Germans attempted to storm the French position 
in the neighborhood of La Fontaine-aux-Charmes, but with less 
success. During the last week of July and the first half of 
August, 1915, large bodies of German troops were detached from 
the armies operating on the eastern front and poured into 
France and Flanders. Different estimates fix the numbers at 
from 140,000 to 200,000. 

On August 18, 1915, violent fighting broke out in the region 
north of Arras, in the course of which the French took an 
important field position. In a desperate bayonet charge the 
following night the Germans vainly endeavored to recover the 
ground. The French also captured a trench in a long battle 
spread over a wide section of the Alsatian front. In the Artois 
they seized the junction of the highroads between Bethune and 
Arras and between Ablain and Angres. North of Carleul they 
held the Germans in check against a heavy artillery* infantry, 
and bomb attack, but were driven out of some trenches they had 
previously won on Lingekopf . By the 20th the Germans had 
regained some of the trenches on the Ablain-Angres road, but 
lost them again in a French bayonet charge two days later. 
French aviators bombarded the railway stations at Lens, H6nin- 
LiStard and Loos, in the Department of Pas de Calais. Arras, 
the scene of some of the severest conflicts in the war, was sub- 
jected to another prolonged bombardment by the heavy German 
artillery. Thus the pendulum swung to and fro; the main 



50 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

strength of Germany and Austria-Hungary was strenuously 
being exerted in the Polish salient, while on the western front 
the Germans also conducted a harassing and exhausting 
defensive. Meanwhile the Allies were gradually completing 
their preparations for the great coup from which so much was 
expected. 

On August 31, 1915, the science of aviation lost one of its 
most daring and brilliant exponents by the death of Alphonse 
P6goud. No man before him ever took such liberties with the 
law of gravitation or performed such dare-devil pranks at dizzy 
altitudes up in the sky. He was the first to demonstrate the 
possibility of "looping the loop" thousands of feet from the 
earth; many have done the trick since, but for the pioneer it 
was a pure gamble with almost certain death. Even into the 
serious business of war P6goud carried his freak aeronautics, 
though it must be added that his remarkable skill in that direc- 
tion had enabled him to escape from many a perilous situation. 
A few days before he fell P6goud carried out a flight of 186 miles 
over German territory. He returned unscathed, while the planes 
of his machine were riddled with bullet holes. On the occasion 
of decorating P6goud with the Military Medal in March, 1915, 
the French Minister for War said : "Time and again he has pur- 
sued the enemy's aeroplanes successfully. On one day he brought 
down a monoplane and a biplane and compelled another biplane 
to land while he was all the time within range of fire." The 
following two of his innumerable thrilling exploits deserve to be 
recorded : "At one time P6goud caught sight of a German ammu- 
nition depot and dropped nine bombs on it. The air concussion 
was so great from the explosion of the ammunition that his 
machine was all but wrecked, and he regained his equilibrium 
only after performing more than exhibition acrobatics. On 
another occasion, having located a captive German balloon, he 
ascended to a great height behind the clouds and then literally 
fell out of the sky toward his target. At a distance of only fifty 
yards he dropped a bomb which struck the balloon squarely. The 
vibration waves caused his aeroplane to bounce about like a 
toy boat on a rough pond. But P6goud still carried his good 



FIGHTING IN ARTOIS AND THE VOSGES 51 

luck and, managing to steady the craft, sailed away amid a hail 
of German bullets."* 

Of all the fighting on the western front during the month of 
August, 1915, the main interest attaches to that carried on in 
the struggle for the important mountain peaks in the Vosges 
which dominated German positions in the Alsatian valleys and 
plain. According to the French official reports, these operations 
resulted in the capture of the peaks named Lingekopf , Schratz- 
mannele and Barrenkopf. The German official statement of 
September 2, 1915, however, claimed that the first and last of 
these had been recaptured. The French preparations for the 
attack on Lingekopf included the building of a mountain 
road eight miles long with communication trenches extending 
even farther, and also the construction of innumerable camps, 
sheds, ammunition and repair depots, as well as ambulance 
stations. The mountain road proved to be a triumph of engi- 
neering, as more than a hundred tons of war material passed 
over it daily without a single breakdown. The slopes which had 
to be stormed were thickly wooded, which greatly facilitated 
their defense, while the main French approach trenches were 
exposed to a double enfilade fire, rendering their use impossible 
in daytime. Between Schratzmannele and Barrenkopf there was 
a German blockhouse with cement walls ten feet thick. This was 
surrounded with barbed-wire entanglements and chevaux-de- 
frise. The French delivered their first attack on July 20, 1915. 
After a violent bombardment of ten hours, chasseur battalions 
stormed the German positions, capturing the Linge summit to the 
left and the Barren to the right. The Germans, however, firmly 
retained their hold on Schratzmannele. They caught the exposed 
French flanks with a stream of machine-gun fire and forced the 
chasseurs to retire to sheltered positions lower down the slopes. 
Two days later the French made another attack, and for quite 
a month, judging from the contradictory "official" reports, these 
peaks changed hands about twice a week. The French claim 
that they obtained "complete possession" on August 22, 1915, 
and that "the enemy, who had employed seven brigades against 

* New York "Sun." 



52 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

us, had to accept defeat/' The German version, on the other 
hand, ran : "The battle line of Lingekopf-Barrenkopf thus passed 
again into our possession. All counterattacks have been 
repulsed." 



CHAPTER VII 

POLITICAL CRISIS IN FRANCE — AEROPLANE 

WARFARE — FIERCE COMBATS IN THE 

VOSGES — PREPARATIONS FOR 

ALLIED OFFENSE 

IT was also during the month of August, 1915, that the political 
horizon in France was temporarily overcast by one of those 
peculiar "crises" which seem to happen chiefly in countries en- 
joying the most liberal institutions and the greatest freedom of 
speech and press. On the 6th it was announced from Paris that 
the Government had decided to replace General H. J. E. Gouraud, 
Commander of the French Expeditionary Force at the Darda- 
nelles, by General Sarrail, who had been designated Commander 
in Chief of the Army in the Orient. That Gouraud would have 
to be relieved of his command was painfully obvious, for that 
gallant officer had been struck by a shell while visiting a base 
hospital on July 8, hopelessly shattering his right arm, which 
had to be amputated. As, however, the French military con- 
tingent in the ill-starred Gallipoli adventure was but a small 
affair, the appointment of General Sarrail to the command 
thereof could only be regarded as the reverse of a promotion. 
In the first great German offensive toward Paris it was General 
Sarrail who had successfully defended the fortress of Verdun 
against the attacks of the German Crown Prince. Gradually the 
story came out that the general was the victim of a political 
intrigue — a plot to displace him as well as M. Millerand, the Min- 
ister for War. An acrimonious discussion developed in the French 
Chamber on August 14, 1915, in which some of the members 
nearly came to blows. The political truce, arranged between the 



PREPARATIONS FOR ALLIED OFFENSE 53 

conflicting parties at the beginning of the war, hung in the 
balance. Faithful to the old tradition that the duty of the Oppo- 
sition is to oppose anything and everything, the Radical- 
Socialists and the Socialist party were loud in their denunciation 
of the conduct of the war, and desired to allocate responsibility 
for the military failures of the previous year. A number of 
high officers had already been "retired" in connection with those 
failures, which were serious enough. But the charge alleged 
against Sarrail was that he had omitted to supply his men 
adequately with antipoison gas masks. In one of the German 
attacks in which gas was used, Sarrail's front was pierced and 
a thousand men were forced to surrender. Some accounts gave 
the number as 5,000. For this the general was at first suspended, 
and then offered the other command, which he refused on the 
ground that if he was guilty he deserved punishment; if not, 
he was entitled to reinstatement. The real motive underlying 
the prosecution, however, was generally believed to have been 
one of a purely political nature. Sarrail, a "Republican/ 9 as 
opposed to a "Reactionary/' which latter signifies a conservative 
in politics and, frequently also, a professed churchman — in 
short, General Sarrail had attracted the animosity of both the 
clerical and radical parties. When, finally, the Government 
promised to increase the Dardanelles force to 80,000 men, he 
accepted the appointment. 

The first week in September, 1915, saw considerable artillery 
activity along the whole front. Except in the Vosges, where 
French and German bayonets clashed on mountain peaks and in 
underground tunnels, infantry action had been suspended for 
nearly two weeks. Heavy bombardments had been maintained 
by both sides — those of the Allies being especially deliberate and 
persistent. As a fireman would sway the nozzle of his streaming 
hose from side to side, so the Allies poured a continuous, sweep- 
ing torrent of shot and shell over the German positions in certain 
well-defined zones along the line. It began from the extreme 
left on the Belgian front, thence swung into the region of 
Souchez, then around Arras, farther on along the Aisne, par- 
ticularly at the two extremities of the Aisne plateau, turned to 



54 . THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

the right in Champagne, spread to the Argonne, next in the 
Woevre and finally in Lorraine. Beneath the cyclone and out 
of sight trench mortar actions were fought, mining operations 
carried on, bombs and hand grenades thrown. 

On September 1, 1915, four German aeroplanes had dropped 
bombs on the open town of LunSville, killing many civilians. As 
a measure of reprisal forty French aeroplanes returned the 
compliment by making another air raid on Saarbriicken, where 
,they bombarded the station, factories, and military establish- 
ments. A squadron of thirty or forty vessels of the British 
Fleet bombarded ihe whole of the Belgian coast in German pos- 
session as far as Ostend. French artillery stationed in the 
vicinity of Nieuport cooperated to shell the German coast bat- 
teries at Westende. In retaliation for the bombardment of the 
open towns of St. Di<§ and Gerardmer by German aeroplanes, a 
French aeroplane squadron assailed the railroad and military 
establishments of Freiburg in Breisgau. Aerial operations had 
by this time become a powerful auxiliary to the combatants on 
each side. The aeroplane attained a definite position as a weapon 
even in trench and field warfare. Machines hovered over the 
lines every day, reconnoitering and dropping bombs on positions, 
stores, transports, moving troops, trenches, and munition depots. 
Bombardment by aeroplane was, in fact, quite as serious and 
formidable a business as any artillery attack. The bombs carried 
by these machines were exactly of the same caliber as those used 
by heavy guns. Constant practice afforded by daily opportunities 
had enormously increased the skill of the aviators, many of whom 
could hit a small house from high altitudes without much 
trouble. Duels and pitched battles in the air were of daily 
occurrence on the western front. As soon as an "enemy flyer" 
hove in sight on either side of the lines, locally attached aviators 
rose and attacked the intruder. This, the most "modern" method 
of fighting, has produced a crop of thrilling incidents and stir- 
ring examples of bravery exhibited by the German, French, and 
British flying men. A code of what might be called "aerial 
chivalry" has spontaneously grown up among the flying frater- 
nity. Two pretty incidents will suffice to demonstrate: A 



PREPARATIONS FOR ALLIED OFFENSE 55 

German aviator had been attacked and brought to earth by a 
French airman. The German was killed in the contest. In the 
dead man's pocket was found a diary of his adventures in the 
war, and other happenings, from day to day. It was written in 
conversational style addressed throughout to his wife, together 
with a letter to her of the same day's date. The next morning 
a French aeroplane flew over the German line. Descending to 
within a few hundred yards of the ground, despite the hail of 
bullets that whistled around him, the aviator dropped a neatly 
wrapped parcel, rose suddenly to a great height and was gone. 
That parcel contained all the dead German aviator's private 
property, his papers, medals, etc., with a note of sympathy from 
the victor. A few days after the death of P6goud, who was 
killed in mid-air before he fell, a German aviator flew at great 
height over an Alsatian commune on the old frontier and dropped 
a wreath bearing the inscription : "In memory of P6goud, who 
died a hero's death, from his adversary." 

The French method of aerial maneuvering is interesting as 
well as effective. Their air squadrons operate in the following 
manner: ten machines rise 6,000 feet along the enemy's line; ten 
others rise 9,000 feet. If an enemy machine attempts to pass 
the Frenchmen attack simultaneously from above and below, 
while, if necessary, two other machines come to their aid. Thus 
the intruder is always at a disadvantage. On several occasions 
the Germans attempted to fly across the French lines in force, 
but always with disastrous consequences. When the French set 
out in squadrons to make a raid or bombard a position they 
pursue the same tactics and achieve very important results. 

Early in September, 1915, General Joffre paid a visit to Rome, 
was received in audience by King Victor Emmanuel, and decor- 
ated with the highest Italian military distinction — the Grand 
Cross of the Military Order of Savoy— as proof of his majesty's 
esteem for the French army. General Joffre afterward made a 
tour of the Italian battle front and conferred with General 
Cadorna. 

About September 8, 1915, the Germans recommenced to attack 
in the Argonne, where the German Crown Prince had failed to 



56 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

break the French line in June and July. After a violent artillery 
preparation, including the use of a large number of asphyxiating 
shells, two infantry divisions were flung against the French. 
The Germans rushed the first-line trenches at several points. 
Strong attacks were launched against them and prevented any 
further advance. 

French and British airmen raided the aviation sheds at 
Ostend ; another air squadron dropped sixty shells on the aviation 
ground at Saint Medard and on the railway station at Dieuze, 
in Lorraine, twenty-five miles northeast of Nancy. A bombard- 
ment of Zeebrugge by the British fleet caused much damage, the 
Germans losing forty dead and some hundred wounded. Here 
the submarine port, with two submersibles and two guns on the 
harbor wall were destroyed, while the central airship shed, con- 
taining at the time two dirigibles, was also severely damaged. 
The semaphore tower was shot to pieces and some sluices 
crippled. Perhaps the most exciting incident at this period was 
the great allied air raid on the Forest of Houlthulst, about half- 
way between Ypres and Dixmude. The forest was quite shel- 
tered from the ravages of the allied guns, and had been converted 
into a regular garrison district, with comfortable barracks full 
of soldiers, provision stores, and large munition depots. The 
whole camp was brilliantly illuminated with electric light. 

At ten o'clock on the night of September 9, 1915, sixty French, 
British and Belgian aeroplanes started out in clear moonlight. 
Immediately the aerial flotilla had announced its approach by 
the well-known buzzing of sixty industrious propellers, the whole 
neighborhood was plunged in sudden darkness. The moon, how- 
ever, supplied the necessary light to guide the sky raiders to 
their goal. Besides, French flyers had already photographed the 
region in broad daylight, so that the situation of the main build- 
ings was thoroughly known to all the pilots. It is stated that 
four tons of high explosives and incendiary bombs were scattered 
with deadly effect; some of the aircraft whose stock became 
exhausted flew back to their base, landed, refilled, and returned 
to the scene of action — two and three times. The greatest con- 
sternation naturally prevailed among the soldiers below, running 



PREPARATIONS FOR ALLIED OFFENSE 57 

in panic-stricken groups to escape from the blasting shower let 
loose over their heads. Indescribable confusion prevailed; fre- 
quent explosions were heard as some aerial missile found a piled- 
up accumulation of its own kind. By 11.30, an hour and a half 
after the squadron had set sail, the entire forest and the build- 
ings it contained were in flames. The next morning a German 
aeroplane, "adorned with sixteen Iron Crosses/' was forced to 
descend near Calais owing to engine trouble and was captured 
by the French. 

By way of reprisals for the continued attacks on Lund- 
ville and Compi&gne by German aviators, a squadron of French 
aeroplanes flew over the German town of Trier (Treves) on 
September 13, 1915, and deposited one hundred bombs. After 
returning to the base and taking on board further supplies, they 
set out again in the afternoon and dropped fifty-eight shells on 
the station of Dommary Baroncourt. Other aeros bombarded the 
railway stations at Donaueschingen on the Danube and at Mar- 
bach, where movements of troops had been reported. Activity 
grew in intensity all along the front. Artillery fighting on the 
Yser, the north and south of Arras, in the sectors of Neuville, 
Roclincourt and Mailly. To the north of the Oise the French 
artillery carried out a destructive fire on the German defenses . 
and the works of Beuvraignes. Infantry attacks occurred in 
front of Andrechy. On the canal from the Aisne to the Maine 
the French bombarded the trenches, batteries and cantonments 
of the Germans in the environs of Sapigneul and of Neuville, 
near Berry-au-Bac. Grenade engagements took place neai the 
Bethune- Arras road and north of Souchez. South of the Somme, 
before Fay, there were constant and stubborn mine duels, while 
fierce bombardments in the sectors of Armancourt (southwest 
of Compi&gne), Beuvraignes (south of Roye), as well as on the 
plateau of Quenneviferes (northeast of Compi&gne) and Nouvron 
(northwest of Soissons) , continued uninterruptedly. In Cham- 
pagne and in the Argonne also, long range artillery fighting rent 
the air. 

On the Lorraine front, in the environs of Embermenil, 
Leintrey, and Ancerviller, near LunSville, the German trenches 



58 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

and works were subjected to heavy fire. Poison shells and 
liquid fire played an important part in the furious fighting 
that was gradually developing in the Vosges, and assisted the 
Germans to gain some initial successes. On the Lingekopf- 
Barrenkopf front the French were driven out of a first-line 
trench on the Schratzmannele, but they recovered most of the 
ground by a counterattack. Similarly on the summit of the 
Hartmannsweilerkopf, where the Germans had also obtained a 
footing in the French trenches, they were subsequently ejected 
again. These trenches had been captured with the aid of blaz- 
ing liquids. Our first knowledge of this ''blazing liquid" (out- 
side of Germany) was derived from a document which fell into 
French hands early in the war. It was Note 32 of the Second 
Army, dated October 16, 1914, at St. Quentin. In it were 
published the following instructions under the heading of 
"Arms at the disposal of Pioneers (Sappers) for fighting at 
close quarters" : 

"The flame projectors (Flammenwerfer), which are very sim- 
ilar to portable fire extinguishers, are worked by specially trained 
pioneers and throw a liquid which at once catches fire spon- 
taneously. The jet of fire has an effective range of 30 meters. 
The effect is immediate and deadly, and the great heat developed 
forces the enemy back a long way. As they burn from one and 
a half to two minutes, and can be stopped whenever neces- 
sary, short and isolated jets of flame are advisable, so that 
one charge is sufficient to spray several objectives. Flame pro- 
jectors will be mainly employed in street and house-to-house 
fighting, and will be kept in readiness at the place from which 
an attack starts/ 1 

There is no doubt that some engines of this nature were em- 
ployed by the Germans during August and September, 1914, to 
destroy portions of the towns and villages destroyed by them. 
One captured apparatus, actually examined, comprised a portable 
reservoir for holding the inflammable liquid and the means of 
spraying it. The former, which is carried strapped on to a man's 
back, is* a steel cylinder containing oil and compressed air in 
separate chambers. The latter consist* of a suitable length of 



PREPARATIONS FOR ALLIED OFFENSE 59 

metal pipe fitted with universal joints and a nozzle capable of 
rotation in any direction. When a valve is turned on, the air 
pressure forces the oil out of the nozzle in a fine spray for a 
distance of over twenty yards. The oil is ignited automatically 
at the nozzle and continues to issue in a sheet of flame until the 
air pressure falls too low or the oil is exhausted. The heat given 
out is terrific in its intensity. A similar method employed by 
the German troops consists of a liquid substance which is squirted 
into the trenches. Bombs are then thrown which on explosion 
ignite the fluid. Yet another sort of projectile took the form 
of an incendiary bomb or shell which was discharged noise- 
lessly, possibly from a catapult. It bursts on impact, tear- 
ing a hole and burning a circle of ground about eight feet in 
diameter. 

By the middle of the month, September, 1915, the liveliest 
activity obtained everywhere in the west — each side apparently 
doing its utmost to harass the other. Nothing of a definite 
nature was achieved by either. The Germans were merely sit- 
ting tight along most of the line while taking the offensive only 
in those sectors where they had reason to believe the Allies would 
attempt to strike the great blow. The Allies, on the other hand, 
endeavored to weaken their opponents as much as possible in 
order to create an easier passage for the great "drive" they con- 
templated. The innumerable engagements about this time 
throughout the western theatre of the war form a bewildering 
conflict of unconnected and minor battles and skirmishes. When, 
years hence, the "official" histories are written and published, 
the student may be able to read the riddle and trace some thread 
of continuity and intention through the labyrinth of these opera- 
tions. For the present they must be regarded as mere incidents 
in the overture leading to a great battle. The actions were de- 
scribed from day to day with some detail by the Allies, and as 
"unimportant attempts" by the German official communiques. 
The latter generally consisted of few words that gave little or no 
indication of what had happened, and frequently wound up with 
the phrase: "There was no change on the front." The following 
translation may be given as a typical example: "The French 



60 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

attempted an attack but were repulsed by our fire. An enemy 
aeroplane was shot down. We successfully attacked in the 
Argonne. The situation is unchanged." 

On September 18, 1915, the British fleet again bombarded the 
German defenses on the Belgian coast, in conjunction with the 
British artillery in the Nieuport district. Unabated fighting 
raged along the whole front, and it was all summed up in the 
German official communique of September 20, 1915, with com- 
mendable brevity: 

"The hostile vessels which unsuccessfully bombarded Westende 
and Middelkerke, southwest of Ostend, withdrew before our fire. 
Several hits were observed. Along the land front there were no 
important events/' 

Nevertheless, important events were shaping themselves about 
this time. German artillery attacks increased in violence against 
the British front. Aeroplanes were particularly busy observing 
all moves on the board. In Champagne the Germans kept the 
French occupied with heavy shells and "lachrymatory projec- 
tiles." These projectiles have been described as "tearful and 
wonderful engines of war/' They are ordinary hand grenades 
with a charge that rips open the grenade and liberates a liquid 
chemical. When that happens, the effect of the fumes brings 
water to the eyes of the men in such quantities that they are quite 
unable to defend themselves in the event of an attack. Shooting 
is entirely out of the question. The stinging sensation produced 
in the eyes is not pleasant, but it is not painful, and the effect 
wears off in a few minutes. The troops humorously refer to 
these grenades as "onions." 

On September 21, 1915, a party of French airmen carried out 
the most daring of the many raids on German towns and posi- 
tions they had hitherto accomplished. An aero squadron flew to 
Stuttgart, which is about 140 miles due east from Nancy, and 
dropped thirty shells on the palace of the King of Wurttemberg 
and the railway station of the town. They were fired at from 
many points, but safely completed their double journey of nearly 
300 miles. Before this exploit, which was undertaken as a 
reprisal, the longest distances traveled by raiding squadrons of 



THE GREAT CHAMPAGNE OFFENSIVE 61 

French aeroplanes were those to the Friedrichshafen Zeppelin 
factories on June 28, 1915, involving a double journey of 240 
miles from Belfort; and to the explosives factory at Ludwigs- 
hafen, on the Rhine, which represented a distance of 230 miles 
from Nancy and back. The Berlin official report thus describes 
the event: 

"At 8.15 this morning enemy airmen with German marks on 
their aeros attacked Stuttgart and dropped several bombs on the 
town, killing four persons and wounding a number of soldiers 
and civilians. The material damage was quite unimportant/' 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE GREAT CHAMPAGNE OFFENSIVE 

THE day fixed for the opening of the Allies' long-projected 
offensive dawned on September 22, 1915. Gigantic prepara- 
tions had been in the making. Large drafts of fresh British 
troops had been poured into France, which enabled Sir John 
French to take over the defense of a portion of the lines hitherto 
held by General Joffre's men. Defensive organizations had been 
improved all round; immense supplies of munitions had been 
accumulated; units had been carefully regrouped and new ones 
created ; all that skill, foresight and arduous toil could accomplish 
had been attained. The spirit of the human fighting material 
was all that could be desired. In order not to interrupt the course 
of the narrative later, we insert here the interesting general 
order that the French commander in chief issued to his troops 
on September 23, 1915, when it was read to the regiments by 
their officers : 

"Soldiers of the Republic: 

"After months of waiting, which have enabled us to increase 
our forces and our resources, while the adversary has been using 
up his own, the hour has come to attack and conquer and to add 



62 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

fresh glorious pages to those of the Marne and Flanders, the 
Vosges and Arras. 

"Behind the whirlwind of iron and fire let loose, thanks to the 
factories of France, where your brothers have, night and day, 
worked for us, you will proceed to the attack, all together, on the 
whole front, in close union with the armies of our allies. 

*Your 6lan will be irresistible. It will carry you at a bound 
up to the batteries of the adversary, beyond the fortified lines 
which he has placed before you. 

"You will give him neither pause nor rest until victory has 
been achieved. 

"Set to with all your might for the deliverance of the soil of 
la Patrie, for the triumph of justice and liberty. 

"J. JOFFRE." 

The general outlines of the plan of campaign may be briefly 
described: The British were to deliver a main attack on the 
German trenches between Liens and La Bass6e, in close coopera- 
tion with the French on their immediate right in Artois, and to 
hold the enemy by secondary attacks and demonstrations on the 
rest of the (British) front, about eighty miles. The French, for 
their part, took in hand the two principal operations — to batter 
through in Artois and to exert their mightiest efforts in 
Champagne. 

To a proper understanding of a campaign or a battle, some 
knowledge of the topographical conditions is essential. The 
chief scene in the act— where the grand attack falls — is the 
beautiful vineyard region of Champagne. Here the German 
front is the same as they established and fortified it after the 
Battle of the Marne. It rests on the west side on the Massif de 
Moronvillers; to the east it stretches as far as the Argonne. 
It was intended to cover the railroad from Challerange to Bazan- 
court, a line indispensable for the concentration movements of 
the German troops. The offensive front, which extends from 
Auberive to the east of Ville-sur-Tourbe, presents a varied aspect. 
From east to west may be seen, firstly, a glacis or sloping bank 
about five miles wide and covered with little woods. The road 




SOgsag treacfees in Chasipafne. The strip on which the armies are clinched varies hi width 
aad winds ever denes, marshes, weeds sad meentalas 



THE GREAT CHAMPAGNE OFFENSIVE 



63 



I 




E— War St. 4 



64 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

from Saint-Hilaire to Saint-Souplet, with the Baraque de l'Epine 
de Vedegrange, marks approximately its axis. 

(2) The hollow, in which lies the pretty village of Souain and 
where the first German line follows its edge. The road from 
Souain to Pomme-Py describes the radius of this semicircle* 
The farm of Navarin stands on the top of the hills two miles 
north of Souain. 

(8) To the north of Perthes, a comparatively tranquil region 
of uniform aspect, forming between the wooded hills of the 
Trou Bricot and those of the Butte du Mesnil a passage two 
miles wide, barred by several lines of trenches and ending at a 
series of heights — the Butte de Souain, Hills 195 and 201 and 
the Butte de Tahure, surmounted by the second German line. 

(4) To the north of Mesnil, a very strong position, bastioned 
on the west by two twin heights (Mamelle Nord and Trap&ze), 
on the east by the Butte du Mesnil. The German trenches form 
a powerful curtain between these two bastions, behind which a 
thickly wooded undulating region extends as far as Tahure. 

(5) To the north of Beaus6jour, a bare terrain easily travers- 
able, with a gentle rise in the direction of Ripon to the farms of 
Maisons de Champagne. 

(6) To the north of Massiges, hills numbered 191 and 199, 
describing on the map the figure of a hand, very strongly forti- 
fied and forming the eastern flank of the whole German line. 
This table-land slopes down gently in the direction of Ville-sur- 
Tourbe. 

As to the German defenses, the French were intimately 
acquainted with every detail. They had maps showing every 
defensive work, trench, alley of communication, and clump of 
trees in the landscape. Each of these features had been given a 
special name or number preceded by a certain letter, according 
to the sector of attack wherein it was situated. These details 
had been laboriously collected by aviators and spies, and applied 
with minute precision. 

On the morning of September 22, 1915, the French accelerated 
their long-sustained bombardment of the German positions with 
intense fury, continuing day and night without a break until 



THE GREAT CHAMPAGNE OFFENSIVE 66 

the 25th. The direct object of this preparatory cannonade was 
to destroy the wire entanglements, bury the defenders in their 
dugouts, raze the trenches, smash the embrasures, and stop up 
the alleys of communication. The range included not only the 
first trench line, but also the supporting trench and the second 
position, though the last was so far distant as to make accurate 
observation difficult. The heavy long-range guns shelled the 
headquarters, the cantonments and the railroad stations. They 
speedily demolished the permanent way, thereby stopping all 
traffic in reenf orcements, munitions and commissariat. From 
letters and notes afterwards found upon German prisoners who 
came out alive from that inferno, one may gather an approxi- 
mate idea of what the bombardment was like : 

"September 23. 
"The French artillery fired without intermission from the 
morning of the 21st to the evening of the 23rd, and we all took 
refuge in our dugouts. On the evening of the 22d we were to 
have gone to get some food, but the French continued to fire on 
our trenches. In the evening we had heavy losses, and we had 

nothing to eat" ua A _ ^ M 

"September 24. 

"For the last two days the French have been firing like mad. 

To-day, for instance, a dugout has been destroyed. There were 

sixteen men in it. Not one of them managed to save his skin. 

They are all dead. Besides that, a number of individual men 

have been killed and there are a great mass of wounded. The 

artillery fires almost as rapidly as the infantry. A mist of 

smoke hangs over the whole battle front, so that it is impossible 

to see anything. Men are dropping like flies. The trenches are 

no longer anything but a mound of ruins." 

"September 24. 

"A rain of shells is pouring down upon us. The kitchen and 

everything that is sent to us is bombarded at night. The field 

kitchens no longer come to us. Oh, if only the end were near! 

That is the cry everyone is repeating." 

"September 25. 

"I have received no news, and probably shall not receive any 

for some days. The whole postal service has been stopped; all 



66 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

places have been bombarded to such an extent that no human 
being could stand against it. The railway line is so seriously 
damaged that the train service for some time has been com- 
pletely stopped. We have been for three days in the first line; 
during those three days the French have fired so heavily that 
our trenches are no longer visible/' 

"September 25. 

"We have passed through some terrible hours. It was as 
though the whole world were in a state of collapse. We have 
had heavy losses. One company of 250 men had sixty killed 
last night. A neighboring battery had sixteen killed yesterday. 
The following instance will show you the frightful destruc- 
tiveness of the French shells : A dugout five meters deep, sur- 
rounded by two meters fifty centimeters of earth and two 
thicknesses of heavy timber, was broken like a match." 

Report made on September 24, 1915, in the morning, by the 
captain commanding the Third Company of the 135th Regiment 
of Reserves : 

"The French are firing on us with great bombs and machine 
guns. We must have reenforcements at once. Many ;nen are 
no longer fit for anything. It is not that they are wounded, but 
they are Landsturmers. Moreover the wastage is greater than 
the losses announced. Send rations immediately; no food has 
reached us to-day. Urgently want illuminating cartridges and 
hand grenades. Is the hospital corps never coming to fetch the 
wounded? I urgently beg for reenforcements; the men are dying 
from fatigue and want of sleep. I have no news of the battalion." 

The time fixed for all the attacks on the Champagne front 
was 9.15 a. m., September 25, 1915. Just before the assault 
General Joffre issued the following brief order: 

"The offensive will be carried on without truce and without 
respite. 

"Remember the Marne — Victory or death." 

Punctual to the moment the troops climbed out of their 
trenches with the aid of steps or scaling ladders and drew up 
in line before making a rush at the German trenches. The opera- 
tion was rapidly effected. The German position was at an average 



THE GREAT CHAMPAGNE OFFENSIVE 67 

distance of 220 yards; at the word of command the troops broke 
into a steady trot and covered that ground without any serious 
loss. The honor of the first assault was granted to the dare- 
devil Colonial Corps, men hardened in the building up of 
France's African Empire, and to the Moroccan troops, famous 
for fierce and obstinate fighting. The men tore across the ground 
to the assault, led by their commander, General Marchand, of 
Fashoda fame, who left the army at the age of forty-four but 
volunteered immediately on the outbreak of the war, and was 
given command of the Colonial Brigade. General Marchand fell 
in the charge with a dangerous shell wound in the abdomen. 
The men dashed on to the German trench line, stirring the rain- 
drenched, chalky soil to foam beneath their feet. Under the 
leadership of General Baratier, Marchand's right-hand man in 
his colonial conquests, the French Colonial Cavalry played 
an important part in the charge. This was the first time for 
many months that cavalry really came into action on the 
western front. They lost heavily, but their activities prob- 
ably explain the great number of prisoners captured in so 
short a time. 

At nearly every point the Germans were taken completely by 
surprise, for their defensive fire was not opened until after the 
flowing tide of the invaders had passed by. This was due neither 
to lack of courage nor of vigilance, but to the demoralizing effect 
on the nerves of the defenders by the terrific cannonade, which 
in all such cases induces a sort of helpless apathy. 

The French actually penetrated into the first German trench 
over the whole attacking front at one rush ; after that their prog- 
ress met with fiercer resistance and varying checks. While 
certain units continued their advance with remarkable rapidity, 
others encountered machine guns still in action and either 
stopped or advanced with extreme difficulty. Some centers of 
the German resistance maintained their position for several 
hours; some even for days. A line showing the different stages 
of the French advance in Champagne would assume a curiously 
winding shape, and would reveal on one hand the defensive 
power of an adversary resolved to hold his ground at all costs, 



68 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

and on the other the mathematically successful continuity of the 
French efforts in this hand-to-hand struggle. 

The Battle of Champagne must be considered in the light of 
a series of assaults, executed at the same moment, in parallel or 
convergent directions and having for their object either the 
capture or the hemming in of the first German position, the 
units being instructed to re-form in a continuous line before the 
second position. In order to follow the development clearly, the 
terrain must be divided into several sectors, in each of which 
the operations, although closely coordinated, assumed, as a con- 
sequence either of the nature of the ground or of the peculiarities 
of the German defenses, a different character. The unity of the 
action was nevertheless insured by the simultaneity of the rush, 
which carried all the troops beyond the first position, past the 
batteries, to the defenses established by the Germans on the 
heights to the south of Py. At the two extremities of the 
French attacking front, where the advance was subjected to 
converging fires and to counterattacks on the flanks, the offensive 
practically failed — or at least made no progress. The fighting 
that took place in Auberive and round about Servon was marked 
by several heroic features, but it led to no further result than 
to hold and immobilize the German forces on the wings while 
the attack was progressing in the center. 

In accordance with the pToposed arrangement of divisions into 
sectors, we will take as Number — 

(1) The sector of the Epine de Vedegrange: Here the first 
German line was established at the base of a wide glacis covered 
with clumps of trees, and formed a series of salients running 
into each other. At certain points it ran along the edge of the 
woods where the supplementary defenses were completed by 
abatis. The position as a whole between Auberive and Souain 
described a vast triangle. To the west of the road from Saint- 
Hilaire to Saint-Souplet, the troops traversed the first German 
line and rushed forward for a distance of about 1,200 yards as 
far as a supporting trench, in front of which they were stopped 
by wire entanglements. A counterattack debouching from the 
west and supported by the artillery of Moronvillers caused a 



THE GREAT CHAMPAGNE OFFENSIVE 



S9 



I 



SB 



t /£ It 






i 



CO 




70 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

slight retirement of the French left. The troops on the right, 
on the contrary, held their gains and succeeded on the following 
days in increasing and extending them, remaining in touch with 
the units which were attacking on the east of the road. The 
latter had succeeded in a brilliant manner in overcoming the 
difficulties that faced them. The German position which they 
captured, with its triple and quadruple lines of trenches, its 
small forts armed with machine guns, its woods adapted for the 
defensive purpose in view, constituted one of the most complete 
schemes of defense on the Champagne front and afforded cover 
to a numerous artillery concealed in the woods of the glacis. On 
this front, about three miles wide, the attack on September 25, 
1915, achieved a mixed success. The troops on the left, after 
having penetrated into the first trench, had their progress 
arrested by machine guns. On the right, however, in spite of 
obstacles presented by four successive trenches, each of which 
was covered by a network of wire entanglements and was con- 
cealed in the woods, where the French artillery had difficulty in 
reaching them, the attacking troops gained about one and one- 
half miles, took 700 prisoners and captured seven guns. 

The advance here recommenced on September 27, 1915. The 
left took possession of the woods lining the road from Saint- 
Hilaire to Saint-Souplet as far as the Epine de Vedegrange. 
Along the whole extent of the wooded heights as far as the 
western side of the hollow at Souain the success was identical. 
Notwithstanding the losses they sustained and the fatigue in- 
volved in the incessant fighting, the troops pushed forward, 
leaving behind them only a sufficient force to clear the woods of 
isolated groups of Germans still remaining there. Between four 
and six in the afternoon they arrived immediately in front of 
the second German position. On the same day they penetrated 
this position at two points, and captured a trench over a thou- 
sand yards wide, called the "Parallel of the Epine de Vedegrange," 
which was duplicated almost throughout by another trench 
(the parallel of the wood of Chevron) . A little farther east the 
French also penetrated the German trench to a depth of about 
450 yards. But it was impossible to take advantage of this 



THE GREAT CHAMPAGNE OFFENSIVE 71 

breach owing to a concentration of the heavy German artillery, 
a rapidly continued defense of the surrounding woods, and the 
fire of machine guns which could not be approached. These 
guns were planted in the trenches on the right and left of the 
entry and exit of the breach. The results attained by the 
French in this sector alone amounted to fifteen square miles of 
territory organized for defenses throughout nearly the whole of 
its extent. On September 28, 1915, they also took over 3,000 
prisoners and forty-four cannon. 

(2) Sector of Souain: The German lines round about Souain 
described a wide curve. Close to the French trenches, to the 
west at the Mill and to the east at the wood of Sabot, they 
swerved to the extent of about a mile to the north of the village 
and of the source of the Ain. 

When the offensive was decided upon it was necessary, in 
order to extend the French lines forward to striking distance, 
to undertake sapping operations in parallel lines, and at times to 
make dashes by night over the intervening ground. The men 
working underground got into communication with the trenches 
by digging alleys of communication. Under the eyes and the 
fire of the Germans this difficult undertaking was carried out 
with very slight loss. These parallel lines approached to within 
a distance of 150 yards of the German trenches. The assault 
was made in three different directions : on the west in the direc- 
tion of Hills 167 and 174; in the center along a line running 
parallel with the road from Souain to Pomme-Py, in the direction 
of the farm of Navarin; on the east in the direction of the 
woods intersected by the road from Souain to Tahure, and in 
the direction of the Butte de Souain. The advance was extremely 
rapid — on the left over 2,000 yards in less than an hour, in the 
center over 3,000 yards in forty-five minutes. At 10 a. m. the 
French had reached the farm of Navarin. Toward the east 
the forward march was more difficult. Some German machine 
guns stood their ground in the wood of Sabot and enormously 
strengthened the German resistance. This defense was even- 
tually overcome by surrounding them. Arriving at the wooded 
region in that part where it is intersected by thf> road mentioned 



72 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

above, the assailants joined tip on the 27th with those of their 
comrades who were attacking to the north of Perthes. They 
left behind them here, also, only sufficient men to clear the 
woods of stragglers. 

Parlementaires were sent to the Germans, who received them 
with a volley of rifle shots and endeavored to escape during the 
night. The majority were killed and the survivors surrendered. 
Several batteries and a large quantity of war material remained 
to the French. On the 28th, along the entire length of the 
sector, they were immediately in front of the second German 
line. 

(3) Sector of Perthes: Between Souain and Perthes stretches 
a wooded region in which heavy fighting had already taken place 
in February and March. At that time the French had contrived 
to take possession of the German defenses of the wood of Sabot 
on the eastern extremity of this region. They had also made 
some progress to the northwest of Perthes, on the summit of 
Hill 200. But between these two positions the Germans had 
retained a strong system of trenches forming a salient almost 
triangular in shape, which the French nicknamed "la Poche" 
(the Pocket). During the whole year a war of mining had 
been going on, and the region, which was broken up by concave 
constructions and intersected in all directions by trenches and 
alleys of communication, constituted an attacking ground all the 
more difficult because to the north of la Poche the rather thickly- 
wooded Trou Bricot, the edges of which had been put in a state 
of defense, obstructed a rapid advance. This wooded region 
extends over a width of more than a mile. The arrangements 
made for the attack contemplated, after the capture of la Poche, 
the surrounding of the woods of the Trou Bricot The junction 
was to be made at the road from Souain to Tahure, with the 
troops assigned for the attack on the eastern border of the 
hollow at Souain. 

The ground to the east of the Trou Bricot was less difficult. 
Open and comparatively flat it was defended on the north of 
Perthes by a triple line of trenches distant 100 yards from each 
other. At a distance of 1,000 to 1.200 yards a supporting 



THE GREAT CHAMPAGNE OFFENSIVE 73 

trench, called the "York trench/ 9 was almost unique in its entire 
construction. The open country beyond stretched for a distance 
of two and one-half miles up to the second German position (Hill 
195, Butte de Tahure) . The principal effort was directed against 
this passage, the left flank of attack being secured by a sub- 
sidiary action confined to the capture of la Poche. 

At 9 a. m. the French artillery directed their fire successively 
against the first-line trenches and the supporting trenches. The 
attack took place in perfect order. The infantry were already 
swarming into the German trenches when the German artillery 
opened its defensive fire. The French counterhatteries ham- 
pered the German pieces and the reserves in the rear suffered 
little from their fire. At 9.45 a. m. the two columns which were 
attacking the extremities of the salient of la Poche joined hands. 
The position was surrounded. Those Germans who remained 
alive inside it surrendered. At the same time a battalion was 
setting foot in the defenses of the southern edges of the wood of 
Trou Bricot. The battalion that followed, marching to the out- 
side of the eastern edges, executed with perfect regularity a 
"left turn" and came and formed up alongside the communica- 
tion alleys as far as the supporting trench. At the same moment, 
in the open country to the north of Perthes, the French troops 
surmounted the three first-line trenches and, preceded by artil- 
lery, made a quick march to the York trench and occupied it 
almost without striking a blow. 

Farther to the east, along the road from Perthes to Tahure, 
the French advance encountered greater difficulties. Some 
centers of the German resistance could not be overcome. A 
sheltered machine gun continued its fire. An infantry officer, 
with a petty officer of artillery, succeeded in getting a gun into 
action at a distance of over 300 yards from the machine gun 
and firing at it at close quarters. Of the troops that were 
advancing to the north of Perthes, some made for the eastern 
border of the wood of Bricot, where they penetrated into the 
camps, ousting the defenders and surprising several officers in 
bed. Late in the afternoon a French regiment had reached the 
road from Souain to Tahure. Other units were marching 



74 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

straight toward the north, clearing out the little woods on the 
way. They there captured batteries of which the artillerymen 
were "riveted to their guns by meana of bayonets/' The same 
work of clearance was meanwhile being performed in the woods 
extending east of the road from Perthes to Souain and Tahure, 
where batteries were charged and captured while in action. At 
this spot a regiment covered three miles in two hours and cap- 
tured ten guns. From midday onward the rate of progress 
slackened, the bad weather making it impossible for the French 
artillery to see what was going on, and rendering the joining up 
movements extremely difficult. From the Buttes de Souain and 
Tahure the Germans directed converging fires on the French, 
who were advancing there along very open ground. Neverthe- 
less, they continued their advance as far as the slopes of Hill 
198 and the Butte de Tahure and there dug themselves in. 

The night passed without any German counterattack. In the 
darkness the French artillery brought forward their heavy pieces 
and several field batteries which had arrived immediately after 
the attack beyond the York trench. At dawn the reconstituted 
regiments made another forward rush which enabled them to 
establish themselves in immediate contact with the second Ger- 
man position from the Butte de Souain to the Butte de Tahure, 
and even to seize several advanced posts in the neighborhood. 
But on the lower slopes some of the wire entanglements remained 
intact; a successful assault on them would have been possible 
only after a fresh artillery preparation. Up to October 6, 1915, 
the troops remained where they were, digging trenches and 
organizing a defensive system which had to be constructed all 
over again on ground devastated by German fire. 

(4) Sector of Le Mesnil: It was to the north of Le Mesnil 
that the French encountered the greatest German resistance. In 
the course of the engagements of the preceding winter the French 
had succeeded in securing a foothold on top of the hill numbered 
196. The Germans remained a little to the east, in the "Ravin 
des Cuisines" (Ravine of the Kitchens) . This the French now 
took by assault, but could get no farther. The German .trenches, 
constructed on the northern slopes of Hill 196, were so con- 



THE GREAT CHAMPAGNE OFFENSIVE 75 

cealed from field observation that it was difficult for the artillery 
to reach them. They were furthermore flanked on one side by 
the twin heights of the Mamelles, and on the other by the Butte 
du Mesnil. Some French units managed to penetrate into the 
trenches to the eastward on the 25th, but a counterattack and 
flank fires dislodged them again. To the west they did not cap- 
ture the northern Mamelle till the night of October 1-2, 1915, 
thereby surrounding the trapeze works that surmounted the 
southern Mamelle. 

(5) Sector of Beaus6jour: The French attacks launched north 
of Beaus6jour met with more conspicuous success. Throwing 
themselves on the first German lines the swarming invaders 
rapidly captured the defense works in the woods of Fer de Lance 
and Demi-Lune, and afterwards all the works known as the 
Bastion. Certain units won the top of Maisons de Champagne 
in one rush and darted past several batteries, killing the gunners 
as they served their pieces. The same movement took them 
across the intricate region of the mine "funnels 9 ' of Beaus6jour 
up to the wood intersected by the road to Maisons de Champagne. 
There ihey encountered German artillerymen in the act of 
unlimbering their guns. They killed the drivers and the horses ; 
the survivors surrendered. 

Farther westward the left wing of the attacking force 
advanced with greater difficulty, being hampered by the small 
forts and covered works with which the trenches were every- 
where protected. At this moment the cavalry unexpectedly came 
to the support of the infantry. Two squadrons of hussars gal- 
loped against the German batteries north of Maisons de Cham- 
pagne in the teeth of a fierce artillery fire. Thqr nevertheless 
reached that part of the lines where the Germans still held their 
ground. Machine guns rattled against the cavalry, dropping 
many of their horses. The hussars dismounted and, with drawn 
sabers, made a rush for the trenches. Favored by this diversion 
the infantry simultaneously resumed their forward movement. 
The German resistance broke down, and more than 600 were 
taken prisoners. Later in the day of the 25th some German 
counterattacks were made from the direction of Ripon, but 



76 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

failed to drive the French from the Maisons de Champagne 
summit. During the next few days a desperate struggle ensued 
north of the summit in the vicinity of a defensive work called 
the "Ouvrage de la Defaite," which the French took by storm, 
lost it again, then recovered it, and finally were driven out by a 
severe bombardment. 

(6) Sector of Massiges: The safety of the French troops 
which had advanced to the wood and the Maisons de Champagne 
was assured by the capture of the heights of Massiges. This 
sharply undulating upland (199 on the north and 191 on the 
south) formed a German stronghold that was believed to be 
impregnable. From the top they commanded the French posi- 
tions in several directions. The two first attacking parties 
marched out in columns at 9.15 a. m., preceded by field-artillery 
fire. In fifteen minutes they had reached the summit. Then 
their difficulties began. In the face of a withering rifle and 
machine-gun fire they could proceed but slowly along the sum- 
mits by the communication alleys, blasting their way through 
with hand grenades, and supported by the artillery, which was 
constantly kept informed of their movements by means of flag 
signals. The Germans surrendered in large numbers as the 
grenadiers advanced. The French formed an uninterrupted, 
ever-lengthening chain of grenade-bearers in the communication 
alleys, just as buckets of water were passed from hand to hand 
at fires in former times. This chain started from Massiges and 
each fresh arrival of grenades at the other end was accompanied 
by a. further advance. 

The fight continued in this manner from September 25, 1915, 
to October 3, 1915, with fierce perseverance against stubborn 
opposition. The Germans poured a continuous stream of reen- 
forcements into the section and offered a resistance that has 
rarely been equaled for obstinacy and courage. According to 
French reports, they stood up to be shot down — the machine- 
gun men at their guns, the grenadiers on their grenade chests. 
Every attempt at counterattacking failed them. Having the 
heights of Massiges in their possession enabled the French to 
extend their gains toward Ville-sur-Tourbe, while taking in 



THE GREAT CHAMPAGNE OFFENSIVE 77 

flank those trenches they had failed to capture by a frontal 
attack. The loss of these heights seemed to have particularly 
disturbed the German General Staff. It was at first denied in 
the official reports, and then explained that the ground had been 
abandoned owing to artillery fire, whereas the French Head- 
quarters Staff claimed that they had captured the ground mainly 
by hand-grenade fighting at close quarters. 

The Battle of Champagne presents a number of curious 
aspects. How came the Germans to be so overwhelmingly sur- 
prised? Beyond all doubt, they expected a great French 
offensive. In the orders of the day issued by General von 
Ditfurth on August 15, 1915 — five weeks before the French 
attack began — we read, "The possibility of a great French 
offensive must be considered." General von Fleck was rather 
late: on September 26, 1915, when the French had already 
taken nearly the whole first-line trenches, he expressed the 
opinion that "The French Higher Command appears to be dis- 
posed to make another desperate effort." What is tolerably 
certain is that the German General Staff did not foresee the 
strength of the blow nor suspect the vigor with which it would 
be delivered. Even the command on the battle field itself appar- 
ently failed to recognize what was happening before their eyes. 
Inside the shelters of the second line two German officers were 
placidly enjoying the delights of morning in bed, when they 
were disturbed by noises which it was beyond their wits to 
account for. The door of their little house was rudely thrust 
open and excited voices said rude things in French. Then bayo- 
nets made their appearance, and soldiers, hot and breathing hard 
after their steeplechase across the German trenches, pulled the 
officers from their beds with scant respect, informing them 
briefly that they were prisoners. This was the first intimation 
which the stupefied officers received that the enemy had broken 
through their lines. 

Thqy seemed to have had an excessive confidence in the 
strength of their first line, and the interruption of telephonic 
communications had prevented their being informed of the rapid 
French advance. Then as to the disposition and employment of 



78 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

reserves : Here it looks as though that perfect organization and 
semi-infallible precision which characterize the German army 
had, for the nonce, gone awry in the Champagne conflict. In 
order to make up for the insufficiency of the local reserves the 
German military authorities had to put in line not only the 
important units which they held at their disposal behind the 
front (Tenth Corps brought back from Russia), but the local 
reserves from other sectors (Soissons, Argonne, the Woevre, 
Alsace), which were dispatched to Champagne one battalion 
after another, and even in groups of double companies. Ill 
provided with food and munitions, the reenforcements were 
pushed to battle on an unknown terrain without indication as to 
the direction they had to take and without their junction with 
neighboring units having been arranged. Through the haste 
with which the reserves were thrown under the fire of the 
French artillery and infantry — already in possession of the 
positions — the German losses must have been increased enor- 
mously. A letter taken from a soldier of the 118th Regiment 
may be cited as corroborative evidence: "We were put in a 
motor car and proceeded at a headlong pace to Tahure, by way 
of Vouziers. Two hours' rest in the open air with rain falling, 
and then we had a six hours 9 march to take up our positions. 
On our way we were greeted by the fire of the enemy shells, so 
that, for instance, out of 280 men of the second company only 
224 arrived safe and sound inside the trenches. These trenches, 
freshly dug, were barely thirty-five to fifty centimeters (12 to 
17 in.) deep. Continually surrounded by mines and bursting 
shells, we had to remain in them and do the best we could with 
them for 118 hours without getting anything hot to eat. Hell 
itself could not be more terrible. To-day, at about 12 noon, 600 
men, fresh troops, joined the regiment. In five days we had 
iost as many and more/ 9 

The disorder in which the reenforcements were engaged 
appears strongly from this fact: On only that part of the front 
included between Maisons de Champagne and Hill 189 there 
were on October 2, 1915, no fewer than thirty-two different bat- 
talions belonging to twenty-one different regiments. During the 



THE GREAT CHAMPAGNE OFFENSIVE - 79 

days following the French rush through the first line, the Ger- 
mans seemed to have but one idea, to strengthen their second 
line to stem the advance. Their counterattacks were con- 
centrated on a comparatively unimportant part of the battle 
front in certain places, the loss of which appeared to them to be 
particularly dangerous. Therefore on the heights of Massiges 
the German military authorities hurled in succession isolated 
battalions of the 123d, 124th and 120th regiments; of the Thir- 
tieth Regular Regiment and of the Second Regiment Ersatz 
Reserve (Sixteenth Corps), which were in turn decimated, for 
these counterattacks, hastily and crudely prepared, all ended in 
sanguinary failures. It was not the men who failed their 
leaders, for they fought like tigers when reasonable oppor- 
tunities were offered them. 

That strong offensive capacity of the Germans seemed also, 
on the occasion, to have broken down. General von Ditfurth's 
order of the day bears witness to this: "It seemed to me that 
the infantry at certain points was confining its action to a mere 
defensive. ... I cannot protest too strongly against such an 
idea, which necessarily results in destroying the spirit of 
offensive in our own troops and in arousing and strengthening 
in the mind of the enemy a feeling of his superiority. The 
enemy is left full liberty of action and our action is subjected 
to the will of the enemy." 

It is of course impossible to estimate precisely what the 
German losses were. There are certain known details, however, 
which may serve to indicate their extent. One underofficer 
declared that he was the only man remaining out of his company. 
A soldier of the third battalion of the 123d Regiment, engaged 
on the 26th, stated that his regiment was withdrawn from the 
front after only two days 9 fighting because its losses were too 
great. The 118th Regiment relieved the 158th Regiment in the 
trenches after it had been reduced to fifteen or twenty men per 
company. Certain units disappeared completely, as for instance 
the Twenty-seventh Reserve Regiment and the Fifty-second 
Regular Regiment, which, by the evening of the 25th, had 

left in French hands the first 13 officers and 933 men, and 

F— War St. 4 , 



80 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

the other 21 officers and 927 men. Certain figures may help to 
arrive at the total losses. At the beginning of September, 1915, 
the German strength on the Champagne front amounted to 
seventy battalions. In anticipation of a French attack they 
brought there, before the 25th, another twenty-nine battalions, 
making a total of ninety-nine battalions. Reckoning the corre- 
sponding artillery and pioneer formations, this would represent 
115,000 men directly engaged. The losses due to the artillery 
preparation and the first attacks were such that from September 
25 to October 15, 1915, the German General Staff was compelled 
to renew its effectives almost in their entirety by sending out 
ninety-three fresh battalions. It is assumed that the units 
engaged on September 25-26, 1915, suffered losses amount- 
ing to from sixty to eighty per cent (even more for cer- 
tain corps which had entirely disappeared). The new units 
brought into line for the counterattacks, and subjected in con- 
nection with these to an incessant bombardment, lost fifty per 
cent of their effectives, if not more. Hence it would be hardly 
overstating the case to set down 140,000 men as the sum of the 
German losses in Champagne. It must also be taken into 
account that of this number the proportion of slightly wounded 
men able to recuperate quickly and return to the front was, in 
the case of the Germans, very much below the average propor- 
tion of other engagements, for they were unable to collect their 
wounded. Thus nearly the whole of the troops defending the 
first position fell into French hands. 

After recounting the losses of one side, let us turn to analyze 
the gains of the other. The French Jiad penetrated the German 
lines on a front of over fifteen miles, and to a depth of two and 
a half miles in some places, between Auberive and Ville-sur- 
Tourbe. The territorial gains may be thus summarized : The 
troops of the Republic had scaled the whole of the glacis of the 
Epine de Vedegrange; they occupied the ridge of the hollow at 
Souain; debouched in the opening to the north of Perthes to the 
slopes of Hill 195 and as far as the Butte de Tahure ; carried the 
western bastions of the curtain of le Mesnil ; advanced as far as 
Maisons de Champagne and took by assault the "hand" of 



THE BRITISH FRONT IN ARTOIS 81 

Massiges. The territory they had reconquered from the invaders 
represented an area of about forty square kilometers. On and 
from October 7, 1915, they beat back the furious efforts of the 
Germans to regain the lost ground. Nevertheless, in spite of the 
utmost resolution on the part of commanders, and of valor on 
the part of the French troops, the Germans were not completely 
overthrown, and the annihilating results expected from the 
action of the mass of troops and guns employed were not 
attained. It was a victory, but an indecisive one. 

On October 5, 1915, General Joffre issued the following mani- 
festo from Grand Headquarters : 

"The Commander in Chief addresses to the troops under his 
orders the expression of his profound satisfaction at the results 
obtained up to the present day by the attacks. Twenty-five 
thousand prisoners, three hundred and fifty guns, a quantity of 
material which it has not yet been possible to gauge, are the 
trophies of a victory the echo of which throughout Europe indi- 
cates its importance. 

"The sacrifices willingly made have not been in vain. All have 
been able to take part in the common task. The present is a sure 
guarantee to us of the future. 

"The Commander in Chief is proud to command the finest 
troops France has ever known." 



CHAPTER IX 

THE BRITISH FRONT IN ARTOIS 

EVER since August 16, 1915, a persistent and almost continu- 
ous bombardment of the German lines had been carried out 
by the French and, to a less extent, by the British and Belgian 
artillery. The allied gunners appear to have distributed their 
favors quite impartially. There was nothing in the action taken 
to direct attention to one sector more than to another. The Vosges, 
the Meurthe and Moselle, Lorraine and the Woevre, the Argonne, 



82 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Champagne, the Aisne, the Somme, the Arras sector, Ypres and 
the Yser, and the Belgian coast where the British navy had 
joined in, all were subjected to a heavy, deliberate and effective 
fire from guns of all calibers. As in Champagne, the rate of 
fire quickened up on September 22, 1915. Great concentrations 
of guns had been made at various points, and enormous quan- 
tities of shells had been collected in readiness for the attack. 
But the artillery preparation which immediately preceded that 
attack in the west was of a most terrific description. Shortly 
after midnight and in the early hours of Saturday morning, 
September 25, 1915, the German positions were treated to a 
bombardment that had rarely been equaled in violence. From 
the Yser Canal down to the end of the French line the Allies 9 
guns took up the note, and soon the whole of the allied line was 
thundering and reechoing with the infernal racket The German 
lines became smothered in dust and smoke, their parapets simply 
melted away, their barbed-wire entanglements disappeared. 
Those sleeping thirty or forty miles away were awakened in the 
night by the dull rumbling. The whole atmosphere was choked 
with the noise, and so it continued throughout the day with 
hardly an interval As if in anticipation of the coming onslaught 
the German artillery had also raised the key of its fire to a 
higher pitch several days before. 

Simultaneously with the attack in Champagne, Sir John 
French assumed the offensive on the British front. The main 
British attack was directed in the neighborhood of Lens, against 
Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria. While the French troops were 
rushing the German first line in Champagne, the British troops 
executed a precisely similar movement south of La Bassfe Canal 
to the east of Grenay and Vermelles. With the first rush they 
captured the German trenches on a front of five miles, pene- 
trating the lines in some places to a distance of 4,000 yards. 
They conquered the western outskirts of Hulluch, the village of 
Loos, with the mining works around it, and Hill 70. They lost 
the quarries northwest of Hulluch again, but retook them on 
the following day. Other attacks were made north of the La 
Bassee Canal, which drew strong German reserves toward these 



THE BRITISH FRONT IN ARTOIS 88 

points of the. lines, where hard fighting occurred throughout the 
day with fluctuating success. The British also made another 
attack on Hooge on either side of the Menin road. The assault 
north of the road yielded the Bellewaarde Farm and ridge, but 
the Germans subsequently recaptured this part South of the 
road the attack gained about 600 yards of German trench. The 
British took 2,600 prisoners, eighteen guns and thirty machine 
guns in the first day. The Fourth British Army Corps, under 
Sir Henry Rawlinson, had thus taken Loos and overrun Hill 
70, a mile to the east, and even penetrated to Cite St. Auguste. 
The Fifth Corps, under Sir Hubert Gough, on the left, had 
stormed the quarries, taken Cite St. Elie, and occupied a portion 
of the village of Haisnes. But the First Army, in its attack, had 
not kept adequate reserves on hand; and those at first at 
the disposal of the general in chief, which had to serve the 
whole front and to be kept in hand in case of unexpected events, 
came up too late to enable the British to hold and consolidate all 
the ground they had won. The Ypres-Arras sector had been 
more formidably fortified than any other portion of the German 
front. It is an extremely thickly populated neighborhood, and 
the terrain is full of difficulties. It could not be expected that 
an advance here, at least from the outset, could be as rapid as 
that in Champagne. Whereas in the latter it was a fight for 
rivers, ridges and woods, in the close country north of Arras 
the struggle raged in and around villages, houses, and for some 
particular trench that had to be taken before the French and 
British could enter the great plain that stretches down to Lille. 
Every house along that part had been converted into a fortress. 
When the superstructure had been blown to pieces by shell fire, 
pioneers burrowed thirty or fifty feet below the cellars and thus 
held on to the position. 

To the right of the British in Artois, the French infantry 
attack was directed toward the forest of Hache. Only eighty 
or ninety yards separated the French from the German trenches, 
and the French infantry, which attained its objective in a few 
minutes, found the trenches a mass of ruins and almost deserted, 
and the Germans retreating into the wood. The first wave of 



84 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

attackers followed in pursuit, but they reached the second line 
of trenches, situated in the middle of the wood, without meeting 
any Germans in considerable force. They pushed on to the 
eastern edge of the wood, but the Germans again put up no 
defense, and their third-line trenches, on the fringe of the wood, 
were likewise taken. Then came a halt in the advance. The 
German commander pulled his men together and, with the 
reserves which had come up in the meantime, launched a counter- 
attack against the French, who had quickly established them- 
selves in their newly captured positions. Heavy shells, high 
explosives and shrapnel were raining in the trenches occupied 
by the French, and but for the new steel helmets which had 
recently been supplied, the casualties would have been enormous. 
One man's helmet was split clean across the crown by a shell 
splinter, but the man escaped with merely a scratch. The Ger- 
mans came on in close formations, hurling grenades as they 
marched. The atmosphere of the wood became almost insupport- 
able with the smoke. Finally, the French hurled a veritable 
torrent of grenades, which drove the Germans back and compelled 
them to withdraw across the River Souchez. Boise Hache was 
entirely won. 

The British attack between La BassSe and Lens and the 
French attack on the Souchez side were admirably coordinated, 
and were directed mainly to assist the French to gain the 
heights west of Vimy; which were the unattained object 
of their efforts during May and June. By September 27, 1915, 
the French had all Souchez in their hands, and were advancing 
upon Givenchy. The capture of the Vimy heights was an item 
of the highest importance, for to the eastward of them all the 
ground was commanded by their fire, and the chances were that 
the Germans would fall back on Douai and on the line of the 
Lille-Douai Canal, once they were pushed off the high ground. 
In the Argonne the German Crown Prince carried out desperate 
attacks against the French first-line trenches at La Fille Morte 
and Bolante. These the French repulsed with heavy losses to 
the Germans, whose dead lay piled in heaps in front of the 
positions. 



THE BRITISH FRONT IN ARTOIS 85 

One result of the British attack was the hurried recall of the 
active Corps of Prussian GuarcL from the eastern front — an 
important relief to the hard-pressed Russians. This famous 
corps was at the time split up into three groups ; the active corps 
was with Mackensen in Galicia and in the advance upon Brest- 
Litovsk. It was transferred to the Dvina after the fall of Brest, 
and had since been engaged before Dvinsk. The Reserve Guard 
Corps was in the central group of the German armies, and the 
other, the Third Division, was still in Galicia. The British and 
the Prussian Guards had made each other's acquaintance in the 
Battle of Ypres. 

At the end of the month Haisnes, on the northern flank of 
the new British line, was still for the greater part in German 
possession ; on the right flank the British were across the Lens- 
La Bassee road. The British had captured not only the first 
position of their enemy, but also a second or supporting line 
which ran west of Loos. They were now up against the third 
line. Sir John French reported having taken so far over 3,000 
prisoners, twenty-one guns, and forty machine guns. The French 
in Artois had taken a matter of 15,000 prisoners and a number 
of guns. After obstinate day and night fighting they had 
reached Hill 140, the culminating point of tjie crests of Vimy, 
and the orchards to the south. The crown prince still plugged 
away on this front with heavy artillery and aerial torpedoes. 
Columns of flames began to issue from his trenches on September 
27, 1915 — the inflammable liquid appeared to be a composition 
of tar and petrol — and the smoke and flames, carried by the 
wind blowing from the German trenches, soon reached the 
French line and made the atmosphere intolerably hot and suffo- 
cating for the French troops. Then suddenly out of the thick 
fumes began to appear German infantry with fixed bayonets, 
sent forward to the attack. They were literally mown down by 
the fire from the French machine guns and rifles, but the wave 
of attackers seemed unending, and by dint of overwhelming 
numbers it poured into the French trenches. A terrible hand- 
to-hand fight then ensued in an atmosphere so thick that it was 
difficult to distinguish friend from foe. These clouds were not 



86 



THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 



0£UO*€TTG 

ABiAIN 




SCAL£bOFMILe% 

RAILROAD 
HIGHWAY* 



THB FRENCH GAINS IN THE ABTOI8 REGION, SEPTEMBER, 1915 



THE BRITISH FRONT IN ARTOIS 87 

poisonous, for the Germans had themselves to fight in them; 
they were let loose to cover the infantry charge. 

The French were compelled to retire, which they did, contesting 
every foot of ground. Meanwhile, reenforcements had arrived 
and these were at once thrown into the fighting line. The 
French, however, were soon brought to a halt Asphyxiating and 
lachrymatory bombs, which emitted bluish smoke as they ex- 
ploded, began to fall in their midst Spurred on by their leaders 
the men dashed on, passing through yet another of these barriers 
of smoke until they came to grips with the attackers, who were 
now coming on like a torrent, in close formation, shouting wildly. 
Altogether, the scene was one that vividly brings to the imagina- 
tion the truth of Sherman's dictum that "war is hell/' A mad 
potpourri of dimly visible forms, struggling like demons, shoot- 
ing, stabbing, hacking and roaring in an infernal caldron of 
tar, poison, sulphur, tears and blood. Truly a worthy theme 
for another Dante and a Gustave Dor6. For some time it looked 
as if the French would be crumpled up, but reserves were steadily 
streaming in, and eventually the attackers began to waver and 
fall back. The French 75-millimeter Creusots came into play 
again, and after a battle that lasted in all twenty-four hours, the 
Germans were driven back to their own trenches. 

In the morning of October 2, 1915, the Germans made a dem- 
onstration in front of the Belgian trenches at Dixmude, con- 
sisting of a bombardment and a violent discharge of bombs. On 
one small section alone 400 bombs were dropped. The German 
infantry broke into the Belgian trenches, but were dislodged 
again in a few minutes. 

The position which the British had captured was exceptionally 
strong, consisting of a double line, including some large redoubts 
and a network of trenches and bomb-proof shelters. Dugouts 
were constructed at short intervals all along the line, some of 
them being large caves thirty feet below the ground. The French 
capture of Souchez was an event of considerable importance, for 
the German High Command had issued orders for this section to 
hold on to the last, that it was to be retained at all costs. The 
road to the Douai plain was to be barred to the French, who 



88 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

had to be held back behind the advanced works of the Artois 
plateau. In May, 1915, the problem was to prevent the French 
setting foot on the summits of Notre Dame de Lorette and of 
the Topart Mill. The Germans sacrificed many thousands of 
men with this object, but the French nevertheless made them- 
selves masters of the heights which the Germans considered of 
capital importance, and dislodged them from Carency and 
Ablain-St. Nazaire. There remained only one stage to cover — 
the Souchez Valley — to reach the last crest which dominated the 
whole country to the east, and beyond which the ground is flat. 
This task had been accomplished during the last few days of 
September and the beginning of October. Souchez and its 
advanced bastion, the Chateau Carleul, had been made into a for- 
midable fortification by the changing of the course of the Carency 
streams. The Germans had transformed the marshy ground to 
the southeast of this front into a perfect swamp, which was 
regarded as impassable. The German batteries posted at Angres 
were able to enfilade the valley on the north. From behind the 
crest of Hill 119 to Hill L40, which were covered with trenches 
connected by a network of communication trenches, many 
batteries were engaged against the French in the district of 
Notre Dame de Lorette, Ablain-St. Nazaire and Carency. To 
the north of Souchez the German trenches were still clinging to 
the Notre Dame de Lorette slope. 

The attack of September 25, 1915, was to overcome all these 
obstacles. The artillery preparation, which lasted five days, was 
so skillfully handled that, even before it was finished, many 
German deserters came into the French lines declaring that they 
had had enough. The infantry attack was delivered at noon on 
September 25, 1915, and with one rush the French troops 
reached the objectives which had been marked out for them — 
the chateau and grounds of Carleul and the islet south of 
Souchez. Meanwhile, other detachments carried the cemetery 
and forced their way to the first slopes of Hill 119. On the left 
the French troops advanced down the slopes of Notre Dame de 
Lorette and made a dash at the Hache Wood, the western out- 
skirts of which they reached twenty minutes after the attack 



THE BRITISH FRONT IN ARTOIS 89 

began. The capture of the wood has already been described. 
The French attack on the right, being held up by machine-gun 
fire, could not be maintained in the cemetery, and it was decided 
to approach Souchez by the main road so that they might pour 
in their forces on the east, while, to the north, the French force 
that had bitten its way into the Hache Wood was to continue its 
advance. This maneuver decided the day. The Germans, who 
were in danger of. being cut off in Souchez, abandoned their 
positions, and those who had retaken the cemetery, being in the 
same perilous circumstances, regained by their communication 
trenches their second line on the slopes of Hill 119. Thus fell 
Souchez to the French in two days. The allied offensive was a 
short and sharp affair, skillfully planned and bravely executed, 
but disappointing in result. At the great price of 50,000 
casualties the British had overthrown the Germans on a front 
of five miles, and in some places to a depth of 4,000 yards, and 
had captured many prisoners and guns; but they had not 
definitely broken the German lines. At a heavy cost the Allies 
on the western front had captured about 160 German guns and 
disposed of 150,000 Germans, including some 27,000 prisoners, 
and the result of their efforts was to shake the Germans in the 
west very severely and to call back to France many troops from 
the eastern front. That the blow was regarded by the kaiser 
as a serious one was shown by an Order of the Day in which he 
declared that every important success obtained by the Allies on 
the western front "will be considered as due to the culpable 
negligence of the German commanders, who will lay themselves 
open to being punished for incompetence." But if the Allies' 
successes were due to hard fighting and brilliant dash, the fact 
that they did not break right through the enemy's lines is 
an eloquent testimony to the wonderful strength of the German 
resistance. The marvel was that any were left alive in the first 
line after the preliminary bombardment to face the bayonets 
and grenades of the attackers. In a report from German Gen- 
eral Headquarters, dated September 29, 1915, Max Osborn, 
special correspondent of the "Vossische Zeitung," described how 
the French artillery swept the hinterland of the German posi- 



90 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

tions in Champagne and then concentrated upon these. 'The 
violence of the fire then reached its zenith. Hitherto it had been 
a raging, searching fire ; now it became a mad drumming, beyond 
all power of imagination. It is impossible to convey any idea of 
the savagery of this bombardment. Never has this old planet 
heard such an uproar. An officer who had witnessed during the 
summer the horrors of Arras, of Souchez, and of the Lorette 
Heights, told me that those were not in any way to be compared 
with the present, beyond all conception, appalling artillery 
onslaught. Day and night for fifty hours, at some points for 
seventy hours, the guns vomited destruction and murder against 
the Germans, the German trenches and against the German 
batteries. Strongly built trenches were covered in and ground 
to/ powder; their edges and platforms were shorn off and con- 
verted into dust heaps; men were buried, crushed, and inevitably 
suffocated — but the survivors stood fast." A German soldier 
told how, in the fierce hand-to-hand fighting which followed, a 
Frenchman and a German flew at each other's throat, and how 
they fell, both pierced by the same bullet, still locked in each 
other's grip. And so, too, they were buried. Courage is not the 
monopoly of any race or nation. 



CHAPTER X 

THE BATTLE OF LOOS 

AT 5.50 a. m. on September 25, 1915, a dense, heavy cloud arose 
«**» slowly from the earth — a whitish, yellowish, all-enveloping 
cloud that rolled slowly toward the German trenches — a little 
too much to the north. Thousands of German bullets whistled 
through that cloud, but it passed on, unheeding. The attack 
began at 6.30. 

A Scottish division had been ordered to take Loos and Hill 70. 
It therefore played the first role in the battle, since it was on 
Loos, of which Hill 70 is the gateway, that the efforts of all 



THE BATTLE OP LOOS 91 

converged from the north as well as the south. Brigade "X" of 
the Scottish division was to execute an enveloping movement to 
the north around Loos and to carry Hill 70 by storm. Brigade 
"Y" meanwhile was to attack the Loos front, Brigade "Z" 
remaining in reserve. By 7.05 a. m. the whole of the first line 
was captured. The second line, covering Loos, was carried with 
the same ease. The Germans, taken by surprise, were fleeing 
toward Loos, where they put up a stern rear-guard fight, and 
toward Lens, which was strongly fortified. 

After the capture of the second line in front of Loos, "X" and 
"Y" Brigades separated, "Y" surrounding the village with two 
battalions, while the rest captured the village and cleaned it up. 
It was stiff street fighting, the Germans being hidden away in 
all sorts of corners with plenty of machine guns. The Scots 
made a quick job of it, not stopping for trifles. It is related 
that a sergeant, to whom two Germans had surrendered, pulled 
a few pieces of string from his pocket, tied their hands together, 
and passed them to the rear with the request, "Please forward/ 9 
Brigade "X" had meanwhile thrown its enveloping net around 
Loos without meeting much resistance. The British had reached 
the top of Hill 70 by nine o'clock. The climb was a hard and 
rough accomplishment, with the right flank under mitrailleuse 
fire from Loos, and with the left exposed to fire from Pit 14A; 
but it was accomplished far too quickly. Serious disasters fre- 
quently occur in war through tardiness; in this case a possible 
great victory was missed through being too quick and arriving 
too early. When the brigadier got up to Loos he saw his men 
vanishing in the distance. A strong German redoubt, over the 
ether side of the hill crest, was not even defended. The brigade 
crossed the Lens-La Bass^e road, which runs along the height, 
carried the third German line on the opposite slope, and at 9.20 
it was outside St. Auguste. Unfortunately for the British, the 
corps commander, who arrived at this moment with his staff in 
hot haste, was unable to get his unit in hand again. Overflowing 
with offensive ardor, he had thrown his men forward with a most 
impetuous movement, and they got out of hand. The brigade 
turned at right angles and got into the suburbs of Lens. It 



92 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

seemed as though the gates of the northern plain were about to 
be smashed in. Then the great danger appeared. There was 
still no great converging movement from the south, where a 
British division and French troops were engaged. Touch was 
also lost to the north. The neighboring division in this direction 
was held up until the afternoon by wire entanglements. The 
left flank of the brigade was at the mercy of a German counter- 
attack, but the Germans did not launch it, for they had not the 
men. What they did, however, was to concentrate on the brigade 
a murderous fire from Loos in the south, Lens in the east, St. 
Auguste in the north, and Pit 14A and two or three neighboring 
houses in the west. They were even seen hastily installing 
machine guns along the railway embankment northeast of Lens. 

Shattered by fire, uncertain of its direction, shaken by the 
very quickness of its previous advance, the brigade hesitated, 
sowed the ground with its dead, and retired in good order on 
Hill 70, where it intrenched slightly below the redoubt aban- 
doned by the Germans during the attack and which was now 
reoccupied by them. As a matter of fact, the screening gas 
clouds hindered rather than helped the attack. The Scottish 
division was exhausted, but if fresh troops had come up and a 
fresh attack had been delivered against the Germans, who were 
gathering all their men in the Douai region, the German front 
would undoubtedly have been pierced like cardboard. Brigade 
"X" had made a path, and if only reenforcements had arrived 
without delay the path would have become a highroad — would 
have become the whole of Douai plain. Not until nightfall were 
the reserves forthcoming. It is evident that, in this first day, 
advantage was not taken of the results achieved. 

Though long-range fighting was incessantly kept up around 
Loos, nothing of importance happened till October 8, 1915, when 
the Germans, after an intense bombardment with shells of all 
calibers, launched a violent attack on Loos and made desperate 
efforts to recapture their lost positions. The main efforts were 
directed against the chalk pit north of Hill 70, and between 
Hulluch and the Hohenzollern redoubt. In the chalk pit attack, 
the Germans assembled behind some woods which lay from 300 



THE BATTLE OF LOOS 93 

to 500 yards from the British trenches. Between these woods 
and the British line the attacking force was mown down by 
combined rifle, machine-gun and artillery fire, not a man getting 
within forty yards of the trenches. 

Farther to the south, between Hulluch and the quarries, the 
attack was also repelled, the British securing a German trench 
west of Cite St. Elie. The Germans did succeed in penetrating 
the British front in the southern communication trench of the 
Hohenzollern redoubt, but were shortly after expelled again by 
British bombers. 

British flying men played an important part in the Battle of 
Loos and in the preparations that preceded it. Troops and guns 
had to be moved at night so that the German aeroplanes might 
not note the concentration. Hence it was decided that British 
aeros should warn off the German flyers by day. They prob- 
ably outnumbered the German machines by eight to one. As the 
attack proceeded a flock of aeroplanes was cutting circles and 
dipping and turning over the battle field as if in an exhibition 
of airmanship. They appeared to be disconnected from the 
battle, but no participants were more busy or intent than they. 
All the panorama of action was beneath them ; they alone could 
really "see" the battle if they chose. But each aviator stole only 
passing glimpses of the whole, for each one was intent on his 
part, which was to keep watch of whether the shells of the 
battery to which he reported were on the target or not. To 
distinguish whose shell-burst was whose in the midst of that 
cloud of dust and smoke over the German positions seemed as 
difficult as to separate the spout of steam of one pipe from 
another when a hundred were making a wall of vapor. Yet so 
skilled is the well-trained airman that he can tell at a glance. 
It is not difficult to spot shells when only a' few batteries are 
firing, but when perhaps a hundred guns are dropping shells on 
a half-mile front of trench, a highly trained eye is required. 
Occasionally a plane was observed to sweep down like a hawk 
that had located a fish in the water. At all hazards that intrepid 
aviator was going to identify the shell-bursts of the batteries 
which he represented. The enemy might have him in rifle range, 



94 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

but they were too busy trying to hold up the British infantry 
to fire at him. Other aeroplanes were dropping shells on railway 
trains and bridges, to hinder the Germans, once they had 
learned where the force of the attack was to be exerted, from 
rushing reenf orcements to the spot For that kind of work, 
as for all reconnaissances, the aviators like low-lying clouds. 
They slip down out of these to have a look around and drop a 
bomb— thus killing two birds with one stone — and then rise to 
cover before the enemy can bring his antiaircraft guns to bear. 
A German description of the Battle of Loos says that during 
the preliminary gas attack the British artillery was hurling gas 
bombs upon the Germans. The latter coughed and held their 
ground as long as they could, but many fell, unable to resist the 
fumes, In the midst of all this the Germans were preparing for 
the expected infantry attack. Finally the British appeared, 
emerging suddenly as if from nowhere, behind a cloud of gas, 
and wearing masks. They came on in thick lines and storming 
columns. The first line of the attackers were quickly shot down 
by the hail of rifle and machine-gun bullets that rained upon 
them from the shattered German trenches. The dead and 
wounded soon lay like a wall before the German position. The 
second and third lines of the British suffered the same fate. It 
was estimated that the number of British killed before this 
German division alone amounted to 8,000 to 10,000. The fourth 
line of attackers, however, finally succeeded in overrunning the 
decimated front line of Germans, who stood by their guns to the 
very last ; those of them who had not fallen were made prisoners. 
Not one of them returned to tell what happened in this terrific 
fighting. The British are stated to have attacked in an old- 
fashioned, out-of-date manner that made the German staff 
officers stare in open-mouthed wonder. "Eight ranks of infantry, 
mounted artillery, cavalry in the background — that was too 
much ! A veritable battle plan of a past age, the product of a mind 
in its dotage, and half a century behind the times! Splendidly, 
with admirable courage, the English troops came forward to the 
attack. They were young, wore no decorations ; they carried out 
with blind courage what their senile commanders ordered— and 




i 

s! 

ii 

'i 

Ii 

■ A 



THE BATTLE OF LOOS 



95 



J3*. 

ANNEQUIN J^ 



leiVENCHY 



{£&!»&? rf *. 
■^'///h^ 



COINCHY 
CAMBRII 






jJlDOUVRIM f^? 



#** 



MAZINGARBE 

"'Mil 

vORENAV 



AUCHY H AIS>l*e% x .„ . 

% ^\ V//ivvC= 

5w? 



I SHADED PORTION 
f 9HOW9 BRITISH 
I GAINS IN 

,s>gprr. 191s 



s 



'A 



'<%•' 



/ 



^ l "* VENOIN I.V. 






ANNA 







BULLY f 



2&& 

ABLAi 

ft***! 



»* 



LEI 






m 



novelle* 



SAUAUMINES 



ELEl 



»w> 



*«.. 



•ir / 

>RES>, _ , 

ISOUCHEZ ^ 



9 CALE OF M»LES> 
o */ft 1 2. 

RAILROADS 
HlOHWAlrt 



THE BATTLE AT LOOS 



G— War St. 4 



9fc THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

this in a period of mortars, machine guns and the telephone. 
Their behavior was splendid, but all the more pitiable was the 
breakdown of their attack/' 

Connected with the Battle of Loos there was one little person 
who deserves a chapter in history — all to herself — and that is 
Mile, Emilienne Moreau, a young French girl who lived — and 
probably still lives — with her parents in the storm-battered 
village of Loos. She was seventeen years of age at the time she 
became famous, and was studying to be a school-teacher. She 
was "mentioned in dispatches" in the French Official Journal in 
these terms: 

"On September 26, 1915, when the British troops entered the 
village of Loos, she organized a first-aid station in her house and 
worked day and night to bring in the wounded, to whom she gave 
all assistance, while refusing to accept any reward. Armed 
with a revolver she went out and succeeded in overcoming two 
German soldiers who, hidden in a near-by house, were firing at 
the first-aid station/ 9 

This, however, was not a complete list of the exploits of la 
petite Moreau. She shot two Germans when their bayonets 
were very close to her, and later, snatching some hand bombs 
from a British grenadier's stock, she accounted for three more 
who were busy at the same occupation. Furthermore, "when 
the British line was wavering under the most terrible cyclone of 
shells ever let loose upon earth, Emilienne Moreau sprang for- 
ward with a bit of tricolored bunting in her hand and the 
glorious words of the 'Marseillaise 9 on her lips, and by her 
fearless example averted a retreat that might have meant dis- 
aster along the whole front. Only the men who were in that 
fight can fully understand why Sir Douglas Haig was right in 
christening her the Joan of Arc of Loos." 

A more mature French Amazon is Madame Louise Arnaud, 
the widow of an officer killed in the war. She commanded a corps 
of French and Belgian women who were permitted by the War 
Minister to don uniforms. The corps was intended for general 
service at the front, one-third of them being combatants, all able 
to ride, shoot and swim. 



THE BATTLE OP LOOS 97 

After the great allied offensive in the west had spent its force 
rather the force of its initial momentum — quite an interest- 
ing battle broke out, this time on paper. It consisted on the one 
side of an attempt to estimate the results of success and to attach 
to them the highest possible value. The energy of the other side 
was devoted to belittling these results and proclaiming the alleged 
futility of the venture. Thus, King George telegraphed to Sir 
John French on September 30, 1915 : 

"I heartily congratulate you and all ranks of my army under 
your command upon the success which has attended their gallant 
efforts since the commencement of the combined attack/' 

Lord Kitchener sent this message: 

"My warmest congratulations to you and all serving under 
you on the substantial success you have achieved. . . ." 

In his report of October 3, 1915, General French stated that 
'The enemy has suffered heavy losses, particularly in the many 
counterattacks by which he has vainly endeavored to wrest back 
the captured positions, but which have all been gallantly repulsed 
by our troops. ... I feel the utmost confidence and assurance 
that the same glorious spirit which has been so marked a feature 
throughout the first phase of this great battle will continue until 
our efforts are crowned by final and complete victory." 

The following sentence is culled from the French official report 
on the fighting in Champagne: 

" . . Germans surrendered in groups, even though not sur- 
rounded, so tired were they of the fight, and so depressed by 
hunger and convinced of our determination to continue our effort 
to the end. . . ." 

Rather contradictory in tone and substance were the German 
dispatches: 

'The German General Staff recently invited a number of news- 
paper men from neutral countries — the United States, South 
America, Holland, and Rumania — to inspect the fighting line in 
the west during time of battle. . . . They are thus enabled to 
verify the reports from the German headquarters concerning 
this greatest and most fearful battle fought on the western front 
since the beginning of the war. They are, accordingly, in a 



98 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

position to state that exaggerated statements are made in the 
reports from French headquarters, and to confirm the facts that 
the Germans were outnumbered several times by the French; 
that the French suffered terrific and unheard-of losses, in spite 
of several days of artillery preparation ; that the French attacks 
failed altogether, as none of them attained the expected result, 
and that the encircling movement of General Joffre is without 
tangible result" 'The world presently shall see the pompously 
advertised grand offensive broken by the iron will of our people 
in arms. . . . They are welcome to try it again if they like." 
"French and English storming columns in unbroken succession 
roll up against the iron wall constituted by our heroic troops. 
As all hostile attacks have hitherto been repulsed with gigantic 
losses, particularly for the English, the whole result of the 
enemy's attack, lastimg for days, is merely a denting in of our 
front in two places. . . ." No wonder neutrals were sometimes 
puzzled. 



CHAPTER XI 



THE CAV1LL C A SI — ACCIDE NT TO 
KING GEORGE 

ON October 15, 1915, the United States Ambassador in London 
informed the British Foreign Office that Miss Edith Cavell, 
lately the head of a large training school for nurses in Brussels, 
had been executed by the German military authorities of that 
city after sentence of death had been passed on her. It was 
understood that the charge against Miss Cavell was that she had 
harbored fugitive British and French soldiers and Belgians of 
military age, and had assisted them to escape from Belgium in 
order to join the colors. Miss Cavell was the daughter of a 
Church of England clergyman, and was trained as a nurse at the 
London Hospital. On the opening of the Ecole Beige d'ln- 
firmi&res Diptamfas, Brussels, in 1907, she was appointed matron 
of the school. She went there with a view to introduce into 



THE CAVELL CASE 99 

Belgium British methods of nursing and of training nurses. 
Those who knew Miss Cavell were impressed by her strength of 
character and unflinching devotion. She could have returned to 
England in September, 1914, shortly after the outbreak of the 
war, when seventy English nurses were able to leave Belgium 
through the influence of the United States Minister, but she 
chose to remain at her post. The execution, which was accom- 
panied by several barbaric features, raised a great outcry of 
public indignation not only throughout the British Empire, but 
also in most neutral countries. That indignation rose to a still 
higher pitch when, on October 22, 1915, the report on the case, 
by Mr. Brand Whitlock, United States Minister in Belgium, was 
published in the press. From the report it appeared, what the 
world had hitherto been ignorant of, that Mr. Whitlock had made 
the most strenuous efforts to save the unfortunate lady from 
death. His humanitarian labors in that direction were strongly 
seconded by the Spanish Minister in Brussels. 

Miss CavelPs mother, a widow, residing at Norwich, received 
the following letter of sympathy from the king and queen : 

"Buckingham Palace, 
"October 23, 1915. 
"Dear Madam : 

"By command of the King and Queen I write to assure you 
that the hearts of their Majesties go out to you in your bitter 
sorrow, and to express their horror at the appalling deed which 
has robbed you of your child. Men and women throughout the 
civilized world, while sympathizing with you, are moved with 
admiration and awe at her faith and courage in death. 
"Believe me, dear Madam, 

"Yours very truly, 

"Stamfordham." 

The report described how Mr. Hugh S. Gibson, the Secretary 
of the American Legation, sought out the German Governor, 
Baron von der Lancken, late at night before the execution, and, 
with the Spanish Minister pleaded with him and the other Ger- 
man officers for the Englishwoman's life. There was a reference 



100 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

to an appalling lack of good faith on the part of the German 
authorities in failing to keep their promise to inform the Ameri- 
can Minister fully of the trial and sentence. Mr. Whitlock's 
final appeal was a note sent to Von Lancken late on the night of 
October 11, 1915, which read as follows : 

"My dear Baron : I am too sick to present my request myself, 
but I appeal to your generosity of heart to support it and save 
from death this unhappy woman. Have pity on her. 

"Yours truly, 

"Brand Whitlock." 

The next day Mr. Whitlock telegraphed to our Ambassador in 
London: "Miss Cavell sentenced yesterday and executed at 2 
o'clock this morning, despite our best efforts, continued until the 
last moment" The sentence had been confirmed and the execu- 
tion ordered to be carried out by General von Bissing, the 
German Governor General of Belgium. 

The British press drew an apposite parallel between the sum- 
mary execution of Miss Cavell in Belgium and the course taken 
in England in the case of Mrs. Louise Herbert, a German, and 
the wife of an English curate in Darlington. She had been sen- 
tenced to six months' imprisonment as a spy. According to 
English criminal law every condemned person is entitled to 
appeal against the sentence inflicted. Mrs. Herbert availed her- 
self of this indisputable right, and her appeal was heard at 
Durham on October 20, 1916 — eight days after the execution of 
Miss Cavell. The female spy admitted that she had sought infor- 
mation regarding munitions and intended to send this informa- 
tion to Germany. She also admitted that she had corresponded 
with Germany through friends in Switzerland. Here, according 
to military law, was a certain case for the death sentence, which 
would undoubtedly have been carried out in the Tower had the 
accused been a man. It must be borne in mind that the Court of 
Appeals in England has the power to increase a sentence as well 
as to reduce or quash it altogether. Astonished by her frank 
answers, the judge remarked: "This woman has a conscience — 
she wishes to answer truthfully and deserves credit for that. At 



THE CAVELL CASE 101 

the same time, she is dangerous/' He then gave judgment that 
the sentence of six months' imprisonment should stand. No 
charge of espionage was preferred against Miss Cavell. She was 
refused the advocate Mr. Whitlock offered to provide her with, 
and the details of the secret trial have not been made public. 

Whatever may be the right or the wrong of the case, it is 
reasonably safe to apply to it the famous dictum of Fouche on 
Napoleon's execution of the Due d'Enghien : "It is worse than a 
crime ; it is a blunder." It certainly had the effect of still further 
embittering the enemies of Germany. Perhaps no incident of 
the great world war will be more indelibly imprinted on the 
British mind than this. Many thousands of young Englishmen 
who had hitherto held back rushed to join the colors. "Edith 
Cavell Recruiting Meetings" were held all over the United 
Kingdom. A great national memorial service was held in St* 
Paul's Cathedral in London, where representatives of the king 
and queen, statesmen, the nobility and thousands of officers and 
soldiers attended. The Dowager Queen Alexandra, who is the 
patron of the great institution now in course of erection and 
known as the "Queen Alexandra Nurses' Training School," 
expressed the desire that her name should give place to that of 
Miss Cavell, and that the institution shall be called "The Edith 
Cavell Nurses' Training School." 

Within a month of her death it had been decided to erect a 
statue to the memory of Miss Cavell in Trafalgar Square. Sir 
George Frampton, R.A., President of the Royal Society of British 
Sculptors, undertook to execute the statue without charge. 

The most permanent memorial of the death of Nurse Cavell 
will be a snow-clad peak in the Rocky Mountains, which the 
Canadian Government has decided to name "Mount Cavell." 
It is situated fifteen miles south of Jasper, on the Grand Trunk 
Pacific Railway, near the border of Alberta, at the junction of 
the Whirlpool and Athabasca Rivers, and has a height of more 
than 11,000 feet. 

A curious sequel followed the execution of Miss Cavell. Nearly 
three months later, on January 6, 1916, a young Belgian was 
found shot dead in Schaerbeek, a suburb of Brussels. The Ger- 



102 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

man authorities took the matter in hand for investigation, but in 
the meantime General von Biasing fined the city of Brussels 
500,000 marks and the suburb of Schaerbeek 50,000 marks on the 
plea that the murder had been committed with a revolver, the 
Germans having ordered that all arms should be surrendered at 
the town hall. But there was more in this affair than an ordinary 
crime. The "Echo Beige/' published in Amsterdam since the 
German occupation of Belgium, revealed that the punitive action 
by the German authorities was prompted by something other 
than an infringement of the regulations. The body found was 
that of a certain Niels de Rode, and he it was who denounced 
Miss Cavell and also betrayed several Belgians — his own country- 
men — who were trying to cross the frontier to join the army. 
The "Echo Beige" asserted that De Rode was executed by Belgian 
patriots to avenge the betrayal of Miss Cavell. The anger of 
the German authorities was explained by the loss of their 
informer. 

On October 22, 1915, London was officially informed that 'The 
king is in France, where he has gone to visit his army. His 
majesty also hopes to see some of the allied troops." This was 
not the king's first visit to the battle line, and, as before, his 
departure from England and arrival on the Continent had been 
kept a secret until he had reached his destination. The king 
traveled by automobile from Havre to various parts of the 
British and French lines, "somewhere in France," inspecting 
troops and visiting hospitals. The royal tour was brought to a 
premature close on the morning of the 28th owing to an unfor- 
tunate accident The king had just finished the second of two 
reviews of troops representing corps of the First Army when 
his horse, frightened by the cheers of the men, reared and fell, 
and his majesty was severely bruised. Twice the horse (a mare) 
reared up when the soldiers burst suddenly into cheers at only 
a few yards' distance. The first time the mare came down again 
on her forefeet, but the second time she fell over and, in falling, 
rolled slightly on to the king's leg. The announcement of the 
king's mishap came with dramatic suddenness to the assembled 
officers and troops. The troops of the corps which he had first 



THE CAVELL CASE 108 

inspected could hear from where they stood the cheers of their 
comrades about a mile away, which told them that the second 
review was over, and that the king would pass down the road 
fronting them in a few minutes. The orders to raise their caps 
and cheer were shouted to the men by the company officers, and 
then the whole corps, with bayoneted rifles at the slope, advanced 
in brigade order across the huge fallow field in which they had 
been drawn up to within thirty yards or so of the road. In a 
few minutes a covered green automobile was seen tearing down 
the road at full speed, and as it drew up opposite the center of 
the corps the cheering began to spread all along the line. In the 
enthusiasm of the moment the majority did not notice that the 
ear was not flying the royal standard, and even when an officer, 
with the pink and white brassard of an Army Corps Staff, 
jumped out of the car and began to shout hasty instructions few 
realized their mistake and his words were carried away down 
the tempestuous wind that raged at the time. Then the officer 
hurried here and there calling out that the king had met with 
an accident and that there was to be no cheering. A few of 
those in the center caught his words, but the news had not spread 
to more than a fraction of the whole body before the king's car 
drove past A curious spectacle now presented itself. Along 
one portion of the front the men stood silently at attention, 
while their comrades on either side of them, and yet other troops 
farther away down the road, were raising their caps on their 
bayonets and cheering with true British lustiness. Some could 
catch a glimpse of the king as his car dashed swiftly by. He 
was sitting half-bent in the corner of the vehicle, and his f ac* 
wore a faint smile of acknowledgment The king's injuries 
proved to be worse than was at first supposed, necessitating his 
removal to London on a stretcher. 



104 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

CHAPTER XII 

OPERATIONS IN CHAMPAGNE AND ARTOIS — 
PREPARATIONS FOR WINTER CAMPAIGN 

BY the middle of October operations on the western front cen- 
tralized almost entirely in the Champagne and Artois dis- 
tricts, where the Germans, fully appreciating the menace to 
their lines created by the results of the allied offensive, sought 
by continuous violent counterattacks to recover the territory 
from which they had been dislodged and to prevent the Allies 
from consolidating and strengthening their gains. Their attacks 
in the Artois fell chiefly between Hulluch and Hill 70, and south- 
east of Givenchy, against the heights of Petit Vimy. The Ger- 
mans succeeded in retaking small sections of first-line trenches, 
but lost some of their new trenches in return. Whereas the 
Allies held practically all they had gained, the Germans were 
considerably the losers by the transaction. The British attempted 
to continue their offensive by driving between Loos and Hulluch, 
the most important and at the same time the most dangerous 
section on the British front. By steadily forging ahead south- 
east of Loos toward Hill 70, the British were driving a wedge 
into the German line and creating a perilous salient around the 
town of Angres as the center. To obviate the danger from 
counterattacks against the sides of the salient, the British en- 
deavored to flatten out the point of the wedge by capturing more 
ground north of Hill 70 toward Hulluch. To some extent the 
plan succeeded ; they advanced east of the Lens-La Bass6e road 
for about 500 yards, an apparently insignificant profit, but it 
had the effect of strengthening the British position. 

Uninterrupted fighting in Champagne had made little differ- 
ence to either side, save that the French had managed to 
straighten out their line somewhat, though they were by no 
means nearer to their desired goal — the Challerange-Bazan- 
court railway. If that could be taken, the Germans facing them 
would be cut off from the crown prince's army operating in the 



OPERATIONS IN CHAMPAGNE AND ARTOIS 105 

Argonne. Bulgaria had meanwhile entered the conflict and 
started the finishing campaign of Serbia with the assistance of 
her Teutonic allies. 

Between October 19 and October 24, 1915, the Germans made 
eight distinct attacks in the Souchez sector in Artois, attempting 
to loosen the French grip on Hill 140. In this venture the First 
Bavarian Army Corps was practically wiped out by terrible 
losses. Each attack was reported to have been repulsed. Com- 
menting on the same event, the German report said that ". . • 
enemy advances were repulsed. Detachments which pene- 
trated our positions were immediately driven back. 9 ' Both sides 
of the battle line now settled down to the same round of seesaw 
battles of the preceding midsummer ; attacks and counterattacks ; 
trenches captured and recaptured; here a hundred yards won, 
there a hundred yards lost After almost every one of these 
events the three headquarters issued statements to the effect 
that 'the enemy was repelled with heavy losses, 9 ' or that some 
place or other had been "recaptured by our troops." On October 
24, 1915, the French in Champagne made some important prog- 
ress. In front of their (the French) position the Germans 
occupied a very strongly organized salient which had resisted 
all previous attacks. In its southwestern part, on the northern 
slopes of Hill 196, at a point one and a quarter miles to the north 
of Meenil-les-Hurlus, this salient included a valuable strategic 
position called La Courtine (The Curtain), which the French 
took after some severe fighting. La Courtine extended for a 
distance of 1,200 yards with an average depth of 250 yards, and 
embracing three or four lines of trenches connected up with 
underground tunnels and the customary communication 
trenches, all of which had been thoroughly prepared for defense. 
In spite of the excellence of these works and the ferocious re- 
sistance of the German soldiers, the French succeeded in taking 
this position by storm after preparatory artillery fire. On the 
same day that this was announced, the Berlin report put it thus : 
"In Champagne the French attacked near Tahure and against 
our salient north of Le Mesnil, after a strong preparation with 
their artillery. Near Tahure their attack was not carried out 



106 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

to its completion, having been stopped by our fire. Late in the 
afternoon stubborn fighting was in progress on the salient north 
of Le Mesnil. North and east of this salient an attack was re- 
pulsed with severe French losses." 

The following two interesting reports were issued on Octo- 
ber 27, 1915: 

Paris Berlin 

After having exploded in the After the explosion of a 
neighborhood of the road from French mine on the Lille-Arras 
Arras to Lille ... a series of road an unimportant engage- 
powerful mines which de- ment developed, which went in 
stroyed the German intrench- our favor, 
ments . . . our troops immedi- 
ately occupied the excavations. 
They installed themselves 
there, notwithstanding a very 
riolent bombardment and sev- 
eral counterattacks by the 
enemy, who suffered serious 
losses. We captured about 30 
prisoners. 

An important event happened in France on October 28, 1915, 
when the Viviani Cabinet resigned, much to the general sur- 
prise of the nation. The result of the change of government 
was that M. Aristide Briand, one of the aggressive and militant 
members of the Socialist party, succeeded as Premier and 
Foreign Secretary, M. de Freycinet became Vice President of 
the Council, and General Gallieni Minister for War. It was not 
a "political crisis/ 9 but a union of the parties — a coalition, such 
as the British Government had already adopted. The change 
implied a distribution of responsibility among the leading men 
of all parties, a useful measure to stifle criticism and insure 
unanimity of purpose. M. Viviani reentered the new Cabinet 
as Minister of Justice. For the first time in the history of the 
French Republic a coalition ministry of all the opposing factions 
was formed. 



OPERATIONS IN CHAMPAGNE AND ARTOIS 107 

Some stir and much speculation was caused when General 
Joffre visited London at the end of October and held another 
conference with Lord Kitchener. It was generally understood 
that some scheme for central military control was being pro- 
moted, to render quicker decisions and coordinate action possible. 
It was obvious that matters of vital interest had brought the 
French Generalissimo to London. Shortly before his departure 
it leaked out that the British Government had for some time 
contemplated the creation of a new General Staff composed of 
experts to supervise the prosecution of the war, and it was be- 
lieved, perhaps with justification, that General Joffre had come 
to give his opinion on the matter. On November 17, 1915, the 
first meeting of the Anglo-French War Council was held in 
Paris. The British members in attendance were the Prime 
Minister, Mr. Arthur James Balfour, First Lord of the Ad- 
miralty; Mr. David Lloyd-George, Minister of Munitions, and 
Sir Edward Grey, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. The 
French participants were Premier Briand, General Gallieni, Ad- 
miral Lacaze, Minister of Marine, and General Joffre. 

At the beginning of November a temporary lull had set in on 
parts of the western front, and the center of interest was for 
the time shifted to the Balkans. The French and British seemed 
unable to continue their offensive operations and were, for the 
most part, confined to their trenches and such territory as they 
had wrested from the Germans during September and early 
October. On October 30, 1915, the Germans had again begun 
a series of determined offensives in Artois and Champagne. 
They met with considerable success in the initial stages, for on 
the morning of the 31st they had gained about 1,200 yards of the 
French trenches near Neuville-St. Vaast and on the summit of 
the Butte de Tahure, capturing 1,600 French soldiers. The 
struggle for the Neuville trenches continued for days, during 
which the positions changed hands at short intervals. 

In Champagne the Germans, after a fresh artillery prepara- 
tion, with the employment of suffocating shells of large caliber, 
renewed their attacks in the region to the north of Le Mesnil. 
They delivered four successive assaults in +he course of the day 



?10 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

able regularly to pay these large monthly installments was due 
to the fact that the provincial authorities secured large support 
from the Soci6t6 G6n6rale de Belgique, which bank expressed its 
readiness, on certain conditions, to lend money to the provinces 
and make payments for them, these transactions, of course, tak- 
ing place under the supervision of the German authorities. On 
the other hand, the Soci6t6 G6n6rale was granted by the Ger- 
mans the exclusive right to issue bank notes, which had hitherto 
been the privilege of the Belgian National Bank. 

The uninterrupted and intense activity along the front with 
grenades, mines and heavy guns can be only vaguely described 
or even understood from the brief chronicles of the official 
bulletins. This underground warfare, to which only dry refer- 
ences are occasionally made, was carried on steadily by day and 
by night. The mines, exploding at irregular intervals along the 
lines, gave place to singular incidents which rarely reached the 
public. Near Arras, in Artois, where sappers largely displaced 
infantry, was related the story of two French sappers, Mauduit 
and Cadoret, who were both decorated with the Military Medal. 
The story of how they won this distinction is worth repeating: 

They had dug their way under and beyond German trenches 
when the explosion of a German mine between the lines cut their 
gallery, leaving them imprisoned in a space eight feet long. This 
happened at ten in the morning. They determined to dig toward 
the surface and encouraged each other by singing Breton songs 
in low tones while they worked. The air became foul and they 
were almost suffocated. Their candles went out and left them to 
burrow in absolute darkness. After hours of intense labor the 
appearance of a glowworm told them that they were near the 
surface. Then a fissure of the earth opened and admitted a 
welcome draft of fresh air. The miners pushed out into the 
clear starlight. Within arm's length they beheld the loophole of 
a German trench and could hear German voices. The thought 
seems not to have occurred to them to give themselves up, as 
they could easily have done. Instead, they drew back and began 
to dig in another direction, enduring still longer the distress 
which they had already undergone so long without food or 



OPERATIONS IN CHAMPAGNE AND ARTOIS 111 

drink. After digging another day they came out in the crater 
of a mine. The night was again clear and it was impossible for 
them to show themselves without being shot by one side or the 
other. So they decided to hold out for another night. They lay 
inside the crater exposed to shells, bombs, and grenades from 
both sides, eating roots and drinking rain water. On the third 
night Mauduit crept near the edge of the crater and got near an 
advance sentinel, one of those pushed out at night beyond the 
lines to protect against surprise. Cadoret, exhausted, lost his 
balance and fell back into the crater. Under the German fire 
Mauduit went back and helped his companion out. Both crawled 
along the ground until they fell into the French trenches. 

Attacks by French aeroplanes upon the German lines were 
the main features of the day's fighting for November 28, 1915. 
They damaged the aviation hangars near Mlilhausen, in Alsace, 
and brought down two German machines. The Germans ex- 
ploded a mine in front of the French works near the Labyrinth, 
north of Arras, and succeeded in occupying the crater. 

Near the end of November the sleet, snow and winds abated 
and a dry frost accompanied by clear skies set in. Immediately 
a perfect epidemic of aerial activity broke out. French, German, 
British, and Belgian aeroplanes scoured the heavens in all direc- 
tions, seeking information and adventure. Even the restless 
artillery seemed inspired with still greater energy. German 
ordnance belched its thunder around Aveling, Loos, Neuve 
Chapelle, Armentteres, and Ypres, eliciting vigorous responses 
from the opposite sides. Aviators fought in the air and brought 
each other crashing to earth in mutilated heaps of flesh, frame- 
work and blazing machinery. No fewer than fifteen of these 
engagements were recorded in one day. And yet, despite all the 
bustle and excitement, the usually conflicting reports agreed 
that there was nothing particular to report. Each sector ap- 
peared to be conducting a local campaign on its own account. 

The Switzerland correspondent of the since defunct London 
"Standard" quoted, on November 30, 1915, from a remarkable 
article by Dr. Heinz Pothoff, a former member of the Reichstag: 

"Can any one doubt that the German General Staff will hesi- 

H— War St. 4 



112 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

tate to employ extreme measures if Germany is ever on the 
verge of real starvation? If necessary, we must expel all the 
inhabitants from the territories which our armies have occupied, 
and drive them into the enemy's lines; if necessary, we must kill 
the hundreds of thousands of prisoners who are now consuming 
our supplies. That would be frightful, but would be inevitable 
if there were no other way of holding out." 

On the last day of November a bill was introduced in the 
French Chamber of Deputies by General Gallieni calling to the 
colors for training the 400,000 youths of the class of 1917, who 
in the ordinary course of events would not have been called out 
for another two years. The war minister explained that it was 
not the intention of the Government to send the new class, com- 
posed of boys of 18 and 19, to the front at once, but to provide 
for their instruction and training during the winter for active 
service in the spring, when, "in concert with our allies, our re- 
enforcements and our armaments will permit us to make the 
decisive effort/' The bill was passed. 

A British squadron bombarded the German fortifications on 
the Belgian coast, from Zeebrugge to Ostend, for two hours on 
November SO, 1915. The weather suddenly changed on the entire 
western front. Rain, mist, and thaw imposed a check on the 
operations, which simmered down to artillery bombardments at 
isolated points. For the next three months the combatants 
settled down to the exciting monotony of a winter campaign, 
making themselves as comfortable as possible, strengthening 
their positions, keeping a sharp eye on the enemy opposite, and 
generally preparing for the spring drive. Great offensive and 
concerted movements can only be carried out after long and 
deliberate preparations. The Allies had shot their bolt, with 
only partial success, and considerable time would have to elapse 
before another advance on a big scale could be undertaken. 
Hence the winter campaign developed into a series of desultory 
skirmishes and battles, as either side found an opportunity to 
inflict some local damage on the other. For the Allies it was 
part of the "war of attrition," or General Joffre's "nibbling 
process." 



OPERATIONS IN CHAMPAGNE AND ARTOIS 113 

The Germans had gone through a bitter experience in 
Champagne; but with military skill and energy they set to 
work improving their defenses. At intervals of approximately 
500 yards behind their second line they constructed underground 
strongholds known as "starfish defenses/ 9 which cannot be de- 
tected from the surface : About thirty feet below the ground is 
a dugout of generous dimensions, in which are stored machine 
guns, rifles, and other weapons. Leading from this underground 
chamber to the surface are live or six tunnels, jutting out in 
different directions, so that their outlets form half a dozen points 
in a circle with a diameter of perhaps 100 yards. In each of the 
tunnels was laid a narrow-gauge railway to allow the machine 
guns to be speedily brought to the surface. At the mouth of the 
tunnels were two gun platforms on either side, and the mouth 
itself was concealed by being covered over with earth or grass. 
The defenses were also mined, and the mines could be exploded 
from any one of the various outlets. On several occasions when 
the French endeavored to press home their advantage they found 
themselves enfiladed by machine guns raised to the surface by 
troops who had taken up their places in the underground strong- 
holds at the first menace to the second line. When one of the 
outlets was captured, machine guns would appear at another; 
while, if the French troops attempted to rush the stronghold, the 
Germans took refuge in the other passages, and met them as 
they appeared. 

On the French and British side also, underground defense 
works were of a most scientific and elaborate character. Trench 
warfare has become an art. Away from the seat of war the 
importance of the loss or the gain of a trench is measured by 
yards. If you are in trenches on the plain, where the water is 
a few feet below the surface, and all the area has been used as 
a cockpit, you would wonder how any trench can be held. If, on 
the other hand, you were snugly installed in a deep trench on a 
chalk slope, you would wonder how any trench can be lost. Any 
real picture of what a trench is like cannot be drawn or imagined 
by a sensitive people. It is, of course, a graveyard— of Germans 
and British and French. Miners and other workers in the soil 



114 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

drive their tunnel or trench into inconceivable strata. They 
come upon populous German dugouts, corked by some explosion 
perhaps a year ago. They are stopped far below ground by a 
layer of barbed wire, proved by its superior thickness to be 
German. Every yard they penetrate is what gardeners call 
"moved soil." It is of the nature of a fresh mole heap or ants 1 
nest, so crumbled and worked that all its original consistency 
has been undone. A good deal of it doubtless has been tossed 
fifty feet in the air on the geyser of a mine or shell explosion. 
It is full of little bits of burnt sacking, the debris of sandbags. 
Weapons and bits of weapons and pieces of human bodies are 
scattered through it like plums. The so-called trench may be no 
more than a yoked line of shell holes converted with dainty toil 
and loss to a more perpendicular angle. And the tangled pattern 
of craters is itself pocked with the smaller dents of bombs. There 
are three grades of holes — great mine craters that look like an 
earth convulsion themselves, pitted with shell holes, which in 
turn are dimpled by bombs. Imagine a place like the Ypres 
salient, a graveyard maze under the visitation of 8,000 shells 
falling from three widely separate angles, and some slight idea 
may be formed of nearly two years' life in the trenches. It is an 
endless struggle for some geographical feature: a hill, a mound, 
a river, or for a barn or a house. At Ypres, indeed, the German 
and British lines have passed through different sides of the same 
stable at the same time. The competition for a hill or bluff is 
such that in many cases, as at Hill 60, the desired spot, as well 
as the intervening houses and even woods, have been wiped out 
of existence before the rival forces. 

On November 2, 1915, the British Premier announced in the 
House of Commons that there were then nearly a million British 
soldiers in Belgium and France; that Canada had sent 96,000 
men to the front, and that the Germans had not gained any 
ground in the west since April of that year. He furthermore 
stated that the British Government was resolved to "stick at 
nothing" in carrying out its determination to carry the war to 
a successful conclusion. In addition to the troops mentioned 
above, the Australian Commonwealth had contributed 92,000 



OPERATIONS IN CHAMPAGNE AND ARTOIS 115 

men to date; New Zealand 25,000; South Africa, after a brilliant 
campaign in which the Germans in Southwest Africa were sub- 
dued, had sent 6,600; and Newfoundland, Great Britain's oldest 
colony, 1,600. Contingents were also sent from Ceylon, the Fiji 
Islands, and other outlying parts of the empire. The premier 
said that since the beginning of the war the admiralty had trans- 
ported 2,500,000 troops, 300,000 sick and wounded, 2,600,000 
tons of stores and munitions, and 800,000 horses. The loss of 
life in the transportation of these troops was stated to be lees 
than one-tenth of one per cent. 

On December 2, 1915, General Joffre was appointed com- 
mander in chief of all the French armies, excepting those in 
North Africa, including Morocco, and dependent ministry col- 
onies. The appointment was made on the recommendation of 
General Gallieni, the War Minister, Who, in a report to Presi- 
dent Poincar6, said : 

"By the decree of October 28, 1913, the Government, charged 
with the vital interests of the country, alone has the right to 
decide on the military policy. If the struggle extend to several 
frontiers, it alone must decide which is the principal adversary 
against whom the majority of the forces shall be directed. It 
consequently alone controls the means of action and resources 
of all kinds, and puts them at the disposal of the general com- 
mander in chief of the different theatres of operations. 

'The experience gained, however, from the present operations, 
which are distributed over several fronts, proves that unity of 
direction, indispensable to the conduct of the war, can only be 
assured by the presence at the head of all of our armies of a 
single chief, responsible for the military operations proper." 

General Joffre's new appointment possesses a historic interest, 
for it created him the first real general in chief since the days 
of Napoleon, independent entirely of the national ruler as well 
as of the minister for war and any war council. 

In the beginning of December, 1915, Field Marshal Sir John 
French was relieved at his own instance and appointed to the 
command of the home forces. He was given a viscountcy in 
recognition of his long and brilliant service in the army. 



116 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

From the landing of the British Expeditionary Force in 
France, Sir John French had commanded it on the Franco-Bel- 
gian frontier along a front that grew from thirty-two miles to 
nearly seventy in one year, while the troops under his command 
had grown in numbers from less than sixty thousand to well over 
a million. The son of a naval officer, John Denton French began 
his career as a midshipman in the navy, but gave that up after 
a three years' trial and joined the army in 1874. General French 
was essentially a cavalry commander, and as such he distin- 
guished himself in the South African War of 1899-1902. His 
conduct in the European War has been the subject of some 
criticism. The time is not yet ripe to form a just estimate of 
his achievements and failures. Nothing succeeds like success, 
and nothing is easier than to criticize a military commander who 
fails to realize the high expectations of his countrymen. What- 
ever may be the verdict of history for or against General French, 
it will certainly acknowledge that he did great things with 
his "contemptible little army." The figure of Viscount French 
of Ypres will stand out in bold relief when the inner his- 
tory of Mons, the Marne, Neuve Chapelle, Ypres, and Loos 
is definitively written. The present generation may not be per- 
mitted to read it, for even to-day, after a hundred years, 
military experts are still divided over the mistakes of the great 
Napoleon. 

The command in chief of the British army now devolved upon 
General Sir Douglas Haig, who, though a "born aristocrat/ 9 had 
nevertheless taken his trade of soldiering very seriously. He 
had served with distinction in India and South Africa. During 
the retreat from Mons General Haig performed marvels of 
leadership. By skillful maneuvering he extricated his men at 
Le Cateau in the most critical moment of the retreat. He led in 
the attack on the Aisne, and is also credited with chief responsi- 
bility for the clever movement of the British army from the 
Aisne to Ypres. In his dispatch on the battle of Ypres Field 
Marshal French highly praised the valuable assistance he had 
derived from General Haig. It was said that during the fierce 
battle of Ypres, "at one time or another every corps and division 



EVENTS IN THE WINTER CAMPAIGN 117 

commander in the lot lost hope — except Haig. He was a rock all 
through." 

On December 2, 1915, Mr. Asquith announced in the House of 
Commons that Great Britain's total losses in killed, wounded, and 
missing since the war began amounted to 510,230. 

The figures for the western front were: Killed, 4,620 officers 
and 69,272 men; wounded, 9,754 officers and 240,283 men; miss- 
ing, 1,584 officers and 54,446 men; grand total of casualties, 
379,959. 



CHAPTER XIII 

EVENTS IN THE WINTER CAMPAIGN 

IT is well-nigh impossible to give a connected story of the 
innumerable and far-flung operations of the winter campaign. 
It resolves itself into a mere list of dates and a brief description 
of what happened on those dates. At this short distance of time 
even the descriptive details are by no means altogether reliable, 
owing to the contradictory reports that announced them. During 
the first week in December, 1915, the Germans concentrated 
strong reenf orcements and an immense amount of artillery with 
the object of striking a blow at the allied line in Flanders and 
Artois. In Champagne they captured about 800 feet of an 
advanced trench near Auberive. The French admitted the loss, 
but claimed that they had reoccupied a large part of the ground 
originally yielded. 

Floods in the Yser region compelled the Germans to aban- 
don many of their advanced trenches, and two of their 
ammunition depots were blown up. Near Berry-au-Bac they 
destroyed a French trench with its occupants and blew up 
some mines that the French had almost completed. Artillery 
engagements in Artois became more pronounced, especially 
around Givenchy. On the 8th sixteen British aeroplanes bombed 
a German stores depot at Miraumont, in the Somme district, and 
the aerodrome at Hervilly. The attack was carried out in a 



118 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

high westerly wind, which made flying difficult All machines 
returned safely after inflicting much damage on both objectives. 
A British cargo boat having run aground off the Belgian coast, 
three German hydroaeroplanes attempted to sink her with bombs. 
Several of the allied aeroplanes, one of them French, set out 
from the land and drove the German flyers away after an 
exciting fight Deep snow in the Vosges Mountains prevented 
operations beyond artillery action. 

On December 16, 1915, in the course of his demand in the 
Chamber of Deputies that the Chamber grant three months 9 
credit on the budget account, the French Minister of Finance, M. 
Ribot, said that while the war expenditure at the beginning of 
the conflict was 1,500,000,000 francs ($300,000,000) a month, 
it had risen to 2,100,000,000 francs ($420,000,000). "At the 
beginning of hostilities financial considerations took a secondary 
place. We did not think the war would last seventeen months, 
and now no one can foresee when it will end." 

Artillery activity of more than usual intensity at a number of 
points marked the 17th, 18th and 19th of December, 1915. To the 
east of Ypres French and British batteries bombarded the Ger- 
man trenches from which suffocating gas was directed toward 
the British line. No infantry attacks followed. By December 
22, 1915, the French had gained the summit of Hartmannsweiler- 
kopf, a dominating peak in southern Alsace, overlooking the 
roads leading to the Rhine. For eight months they had fought 
for the position, and thousands of lives were sacrificed by the 
attackers and the defenders. The Germans succeeded in recov- 
ering part of the ground next day. The French took 1,300 pris- 
oners in the capture, and the Germans claimed 1,558 prisoners 
in the recapture. Fighting continued around the spot for 
months. 

Christmas passed with no break in the hostilities and no mate- 
rial change in the situation on the western front The year 1915 
closed, in a military sense, less favorably for the Allies than it 
began. Only a few square miles had been reconquered in the 
west at a heavy sacrifice; Italy had made little progress; the 
Dardanelles expedition had proved a failure; the British had not 



EVENTS IN THE WINTER CAMPAIGN 119 

reached Bagdad nor attained their aim in Greece; while Russia 
had lost nearly all Galicia, with Poland and Courland as well, and 
the Serbian army had been practically eliminated. On the other 
hand, the Allies had maintained supremacy on the seas, had 
captured all but one of the German colonies, and still held all 
German sea-borne trade in a vise of steel. Not one of the armies 
d the Allies other than that of Serbia had been struck down ; 
each of them was hard at work raising new armies and devel- 
oping the supply of munitions. The spirit of all the warring 
peoples, without exception, appeared to be that of a grim, 
unbending determination. Germany, with a large proportion of 
her able-bodied manhood disposed of and her trade with the 
outer world cut off, was perhaps in greater straits than a super- 
ficial examination of her military successes showed. The care 
with which the Germans economized their supplies of men, and 
made the fullest possible use in the field of men who were not 
physically fit for actual military service, was illustrated by the 
creation of some new formations called Armierungsbattalionen. 
These battalions, of which, it was said, no full description would 
be published before the end of the war, consisted of all sorts of 
men with slight physical defects, underofficers and noncommis- 
sioned officers who were either too old for service or had been 
invalided. Their duty was to relieve the soldiers of as much 
work as possible. They were employed in roadmaking and in 
transporting munitions and supplies in difficult country — for 
example, in the Vosges Mountains. Most of these men — and 
there were many thousands of them — wore uniforms, but carried 
no arms. 

It is rather an ironical commentary on "our present advanced 
state of culture," as Carlyle put it, that the birthday of the Man 
of Sorrows — the period of "peace on earth and good will toward 
all men" — was celebrated even amid the raucous crash and mur- 
derous turmoil of the battle field. Preparations had long been in 
the making for the event. In the homes of France, Germany, 
and Great Britain millions and millions of parcels were care- 
fully packed full of little luxuries, comforts, tobacco, cigars, and 
cigarettes, and addressed to some loved one "at the front" 



120 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Newspapers collected subscriptions and busy societies were also 
formed for the same purpose, so that there was hardly a single 
combatant who did not receive some token of remembrance from 
home. 

On the occasion of the New Year the kaiser addressed the 
following order to his army and navy : 

"Comrades : — One year of severe fighting has elapsed. When- 
ever a superior number of enemies tried to rush our lines they 
failed before your loyalty and bravery. Every place where I 
sent you into battle you gained glorious victories. Thankfully 
we remember to-day above all our brethren who joyfully gave 
their blood in order to gain security for our beloved ones at home 
and imperishable glory for the Fatherland. What they began 
we shall accomplish with God's gracious help. 

"In impotent madness our enemies from west and east, from 
north and south, still strive to deprive us of all that makes life 
worth living. The hope of conquering us in fair fighting they 
have buried long ago. On the weight of their masses, on the 
starvation of our entire people, on the influence of their cam- 
paign of calumny, which is as mischievous as malicious, they 
believe they can still reckon. Their plans will not succeed. 
Their hopes will be miserably disappointed in the presence of 
the spirit of determination which imperturbably unites the army 
and those at home. 

"With a will to do one's duly for the Fatherland to the last 
breath, and a determination to secure victory, we enter the new 
year with God for the protection of the Fatherland and for 
Germany's greatness/ 9 

About the same time Count Zeppelin delivered a speech at 
Dtisseldorf. The local newspapers reported him as saying: 
"Speaking for myself and expressing the view of your Imperial 
Master, the war will not last two years. The next few months 
will see German arms march rapidly from triumph to triumph, 
and the final destruction of our enemies will be swift and sudden. 
Our Zeppelin fleets will play an important part in future opera- 
tions and will demonstrate more than ever their power as a 
factor in modern warfare/ 9 



EVENTS IN THE WINTER CAMPAIGN 121 

The opening of the year 1916 found Great Britain in the throes 
of a momentous controversy over the question of adopting con- 
scription. In the west the Franco-British armies hugged the 
belief that their lines were impregnable to attack. An offensive 
on the part of the Germans was certainly expected, but where 
and when it would materialize none could foretell, though the 
French command had a shrewd suspicion. It was purely a 
matter of deduction that the Germans, having so far failed to 
break a passage through the circle of steel that encompassed 
them on the east and the west, would be forced to concentrate 
their hopes on an offensive on the western front They had care- 
fully taken into consideration the Battle of Champagne. They 
admitted that the French had opened a breach in their line, and 
they would probably argue that the imperfect results of the 
operations were due only to the inability of their enemies to 
exploit the first advantage that they had gained. They appear 
to have decided to copy the French example, but to apply to it 
a great deal more of thoroughness. The French, they might 
argue, fired so many shells on a front of so many miles and 
destroyed our trenches ; we will fire so many more shells on a nar- 
rower front, so that we can be certain there will be no obstacle 
to the advance of our infantry. The French had not enough 
men to carry their initial success to its conclusion, consequently 
we will mass a very large number of men behind the attack. 
With this object undoubtedly in view, the Germans indulged in 
a succession of feints up and down the whole frontier, feeling 
and probing the line at all points. This procedure cost them 
thousands of men, but it probably did not deceive the strategists 
on the other side. All that remained indeterminable to the 
French Staff was the precise date and locality. 

A general survey of the front for the first days of January, 
1916, reveals activity all round. In Belgium there was artillery 
fighting over the front of the Yser and along the front at 
Yperlee, and a similar duel between Germans and Belgians near 
Mercken. In front of the British first-line trenches the Germans 
sprang mines, but did not trouble to take possession of the 
craters. The British sprang some mines near La Poisaelu and 



122 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

bombarded the German trenches north of Fromelles and east of 
Ypres, the Germans responding vigorously. 

The British also attempted a night attack near Frelinghien, 
northeast of Armentidres, which failed in its purpose. German 
troops cracked a mine at Hulluch and captured a French trench 
at Hartmannsweilerkopf with 200 prisoners. The French heavy 
artillery in Champagne directed a strong fire against some huts 
occupied by Germans in the forest of Malmaison. A German 
attack with hand grenades in the vicinity of the Tahure road did 
little harm. Between the Arve and the Oise artillery exchanges 
were in continual progress ; between Soissons and Rheims a series 
of mine explosions ; and in the Vosges the French artillery roared 
in the vicinity of Miihlbach. A German long-range gun fired 
about ten shots at Nancy and its environments, killing twf 
civilians and wounding seven others. 

In the north, again, we find the German artillery making a 
big demonstration on the front east of Ypres and northeast of 
Loos; the British destroying the outskirts of Andechy in the 
region of Roye. French and Belgian guns batter the Germans 
stationed to the east of St. George and shell other groups about 
Boesinghe and Steenstraete. South of the Somme the German 
first-line trenches near Dompierre are receiving artillery atten- 
tion, and a supply train south of Chaulnes is shattered. In 
Champagne the Tahure skirmish goes on, while in the Vosges 
an artillery duel of great intensity rends the air in the Hirz- 
stein sector. 

Along the Yser front the Belgians are shelled in the 
rear of their lines, and a German barracks is being bom- 
barded. On the southern part of the British front bomb attacks 
are being carried out. With all this sporadic and disconnected 
expenditure of life, energy and ammunition little damage is 
done, and the losses and gains on either side are equally unim- 
portant. The Germans are tapping against the wall, looking for 
weak spots. By the 5th, however, when General Joffre's New 
Year's message appears, in which he tells his armies that the 
enemy is weakening, that enemy suddenly grows more active 
and energetic. German artillery fire increased in violence 



EVENTS IN THE WINTER CAMPAIGN 123 

throughout Flanders, Artois, Champagne, and the Vosges. They 
launched infantry attacks against the French between Hill 193 
and the Butte de Tahure. North of Arras the French bom- 
barded German troops in the suburbs of Roye; in the Vosges 
they shelled German works in the region of Balschwiller, and 
demolished some trenches and a munitions depot northwest of 
Altkirch. 

British aeroplanes dropped bombs on the aerodrome at 
Douai, and a German aviator dropped a few on Boulogne. The 
German War Office statement briefly announced that "fighting 
with artillery and mines at several points on the Franco- 
Belgian front is reported." The next few days are almost a 
blank; hardly anything leaks out; but things are happening 
all the same. 

To the south of Hartmannsweilerkopf, after a series of 
fruitless attacks, followed by a severe bombardment, the 
Germans succeeded in recovering the trenches which they had 
lost to the French on December 31, 1915. Besides that, 
they also captured 20 officers, 1,083 chasseurs, and 15 machine 
guns. This move compelled the French troops occupying the 
summit of Hirzstein to evacuate their position. Artillery inces- 
santly thundered in Flanders, Champagne, Artois, the Vosges, 
and on the British lines at Hulluch and Armenti&res. By Jan- 
uary 10, 1916, it looked as though the Germans intended to 
retrieve the misfortunes of Champagne. An assault by the 
kaiser's troops under General von Einem was made on a five- 
mile front east of Tahure, with the center about at Maisons de 
Champagne Farm, close to the Butte de Mesnil. At this point 
the French had held well to the ground won during the previous 
September. On the 9th the German artillery opened fire with 
great violence, using suffocating shells, and this was followed 
by four concentric infantry attacks on that front during the 
day and night. The French fire checked the offensive, but at 
two points the Germans managed to reach the first French lines. 
The battle raged for three days, during which the Germans took 
a French observation post, several hundred yards of trenches, 
428 prisoners, seven machine guns, and eight mine throwers. 



124 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

The French counterattack broke down, though it was claimed 
that they had recovered the ground. 

At Massiges the Germans attacked on almost as large a scale 
as the French had done the previous autumn. The German 
bombardment increased steadily in intensity, and during the 
last twelve hours 400,000 shells were stated to have fallen on 
the eight-mile front from La Courtine to the western slopes 
of the "Hand" of Massiges. The infantry were thrown for- 
ward on the 10th. The first attack was launched on the hill 
forming the western finger of Massiges, whence the French 
fire broke their ranks and drove them back. Foiled in this 
direction, the next attack was delivered against the five-mile 
front. Some 40,000 men took part in the charge. But the pow- 
erful French "seventy-fives" tore ghastly lanes in their ranks, 
and few lived to reach the wire entanglements. Crawling 
through the holes made by the bombardment, they captured 300 
yards of trenches. A portion of this the French regained. The 
British lost four aeroplanes on January 12-13, 1916. Two 
German aviators accounted for one each, and the other two 
were brought down by gunfire. 

The Prussian Prime Minister, Dr. von Bethmann-Hollweg, 
who is also Imperial Chancellor, opened the new session 
of the Prussian Diet on January 13, 1916. He as usual blamed 
the Allies for the war. "As our enemies forced the war 
upon us, they must also bear the guilt of the responsibility 
if the nations of Europe continue to inflict wounds upon one 
another." 

By the 13th the German offensive in Champagne had collapsed. 
Operations in the west resumed for the time a normal state of 
activity, in which artillery duels were the main features. In 
the middle of January the British opened fire on the French 
town of Lille, near the Belgian border and inside the German 
lines. According to German authority, the damage done was 
negligible. Little of import happened till January 23, 1916, when 
two squadrons of French aeroplanes, comprising twenty-four 
machines, bombarded the railway station and barracks atrMetz, 
They dropped 130 shells. The aeros were escorted by two pro- 



} 



EVENTS IN THE WINTER CAMPAIGN 125 

tecting squadrons, the pilots of which during the trip engaged 
in ten combats with giant Fokkers and aviatiks. The French 
machines were severely cannonaded along the whole of their 
course, but returned undamaged, except one only, which was 
obliged to make a landing southeast of Metz. On the 24th the 
Germans made another strong feint, this time in Belgium, that 
had all the appearance of the expected attack in force. They 
began by bombarding the French lines near Nieuport, but the 
infantry charge that was to have followed was smothered in the 
German trenches, before the men could make a start. Another 
German attack north of Arras was held up by French rifle fire. 
The chief result of the offensive seems to have been the destruc- 
tion of Nieuport cathedral. 

Toward the end of January, 1916, activity became more and 
more intensified all along the western front in every sector except 
that in which the Germans were preparing for the big coup — 
Verdun. It will be simpler to review the disconnected operations 
by following them separately in the different districts where they 
occurred. It will be observed that in practically every case the 
Germans assumed the offensive. In Alsace the French batteries 
exploded a German munitions depot on the outskirts of Orbey, 
southeast of Bonhomme. In the region of Sondernach, south of 
Minister, the Germans captured and occupied a French listening 
post, from which they were expelled by counterattacks. On 
February 13, 1916, they attempted an infantry attack, which was 
halted by French artillery fire. The Germans gained 300 feet of 
trenches on the 14th. The French took the ground back again, 
but were unable to hold it. On the 18th the Germans, after 
the usual artillery preparation, directed an infantry attack 
against the French position to the north of Largitson, where they 
penetrated into the trenches and remained there for some hours 
until a counterattack expelled them. In Lorraine, constant artil- 
lery duels raged in the sectors of Reillon and the forest of Parroy. 
In the Argonne, French mine operations destroyed the German 
trenches over a short distance near Hill 285, northeast of La 
Chalade. On February 12, 1916, the French shattered some 
enemy mine works. 



126 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

Increased artillery firing at many points in Flanders and 
northern France first gave the Allies the impression that the 
Germans were planning a new offensive on a large scale against 
their left wing, in an attempt to blast a passage through to Calais 
and Dunkirk. By February 7, 1916, the Allies were thoroughly 
awake to the possibility of a big blow impending somewhere in 
the west. The sweep through Serbia had released several hun- 
dred thousand men for service elsewhere. For a month the Ger- 
mans had been hammering and probing at Loos, Givenchy, 
Armentidres, and other points with the evident object of finding 
a weak spot. Along the NeuvUle-Givenchy road especially the 
Germans made no fewer than twenty-five determined attacks 
between the 1st and 17th of February, 1916. Their later attacks 
developed more to the north, near Lidvin, where heavy trench 
fighting occurred, with no important results either way. 

At the beginning of February, 1916, the 525-mile battle front 
in the west was held on one side by about 1,250,000 Germans — 
an average of 2,500 to the mil*— as against quite 2,000,000 
French, about 1,000,000 British, and 50,000 Belgians. But this 
superiority in numbers on the allied side was neutralized by the 
strength of the German defense works plus artillery. None of the 
Allies 9 undertakings had, so far, been carried out to its logical 
—or intended— conclusion. Whether this was due to weakness, 
infirmity of purpose or lack of coordination, remains to be told 
some future day. By the middle of the month it became apparent, 
from their expenditure of men and munitions, that the German 
General Staff were determined to make up for their past losses 
and to recapture at least some of the ground taken from them by 
the Allies. It seems hardly credible that all these fierce attacks 
were mere feints to withdraw attention from their objective — 
Verdun. They had no reason to fear a French offensive in the 
immediate future. For one thing the condition of the ground 
was still too unfavorable. The French at this stage occupied 
practically the entire semicircle from Hill 70 to the town of 
Thelus, excepting a portion between Givenchy and Petit Vimy. 
Hill 140, the predominant feature in the district, was almost all 
in French hands. The line between La Folie and the junction of 



EVENTS IN THE WINTER CAMPAIGN 127 

the Neuville-St Vaast road covered the Labyrinth, which the 
French had won in the summer of 1915, and it was here that the 
main force of the German attacks was launched. The French 
positions on the heights commanded every other position 
that the Germans could possibly take within the semicircle, 
and naturally gave the former an immense advantage for their 
next offensive. 

In Artois the Germans exploded several mines on January 26, 
1916, in the neighborhood of the road from La Folie, northeast 
of Neuville-St Vaast, and occupied the craters made. Violent 
cannonading kept up in the whole of this sector. By the 28th the 
Germans had captured three successive lines of French trenches 
and held them against eight counterattacks. After exploding 
mines the Germans made an attack on both sides of the road 
between Vimy and Neuville and stormed French positions be- 
tween 500 and 600 yards long. They captured fifty-three men, a 
machine gun, and three mine throwers. On the 28th they di- 
rected infantry attacks against various points and gained more 
trenches. Following up their advantage the Germans stormed 
and captured the village of Frise, on the south bank of the 
Somme. 

While this struggle was in progress, a terrific fight was 
raging north of Arras. The real objective of the attack appears 
to have been an advance south of Frise in the direction of Dom- 
pierre, but this effort met with little success. The French at once 
set to work to recover the only ground that was of any real im- 
portance. The troops in the section opened a series of counter- 
attacks, and in a very short time the French grenadiers had 
gained the upper hand again. The capture of Frise brought the 
Germans into a cul-de-sac, for their advance was still barred by 
the Somme Canal, behind which there lay a deep marsh. Maneu- 
vers were quite impossible here, hence the village could not serve 
as a base for any further operations. The German gains were 
nevertheless considerable, for they took about 3,800 yards of 
trenches and nearly 1,300 prisoners, including several British. 
Spirited mine fighting marked the first three days of February, 

1916. In the neighborhood of the road from Lille the French 
I— War ft 4 



128 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

artillery fire caused explosions among the German batteries in 
the region of Vimy. Between February 8-9, 1916, the Ger- 
man infantry stormed the first-line French positions over a 
stretch of more than 800 yards, capturing 100 prisoners and five 
machine guns. Small sections of these trenches were retaken 
and held. 

The German report stated that the French "were unable 
to reconquer any part of their lost positions/' Five German 
attacks were made on Hill 140 on February 11, 1916, all but one 
being repulsed by the intense fire of the French artillery and 
infantry. Stubborn fighting, accompanied by heavy losses, raged 
about the 14th, by which time the French had regained a few 
more trenches. The steady underground advance of the French 
sappers drove the Germans back upon their last bastion, com- 
manding the central plain. 

The French trenches gradually crept up the slopes of the 
hill until the German commander, the Bavarian Crown Prince, 
realized that the next assault was likely to be irresistible 
and to involve the abandonment of Lille, Lens, Douai, and the 
entire front at this point. A mine explosion west of Hill 140 
made a crater fifty yards across. A steeplechase dash across 
the open from both sides — French and Germans met in the 
crater — a fierce struggle for its possession followed, and the 
French won the hole. A furious bombardment from a score of 
quick-firing mortars hidden behind La Folie Hill battered the 
earth out of shape, and when the Germans occupied the terrain 
where the French trenches had been, the "seventy-fives" played 
such havoc among them that they were forced to relinquish their 
hold. To the south of Frise the Germans were preparing an at- 
tack, but were prevented from carrying it out by French and 
British barrier fires. 

On the British front the artillery was hardly less active than 
in Artois. On one section, according to a German report, the 
British fired 1,700 shrapnel shells, 700 high explosive shells, and 
about the same number of bombs within twenty-four hours. 
On January 27, 1916, the Germans attempted an infantry attack 
on a salient northeast of Loos, but were held back. A British 



EVENTS IN THE WINTER CAMPAIGN 129 

night attack on the German trenches near Messines, Flanders, 
was likewise repulsed. In the morning of February 12, 1916, 
the Germans broke into the British trenches near Pilkellen, but 
were pushed out by bombing parties. There was much mining 
activity about Hulluch and north of the Ypres-Comines Canal. 
At the latter place some desperate underground fighting occurred 
between sappers. On the 14th the Germans were again engaged 
in serious operations in the La Bass6e region, where they exploded 
seven mines on the British front. 

By February 15, 1916, the British first-line trenches on 
a 600 to 800 yards' front fell to the Germans in assaults 
on the Ypres salient, carried by a bayonet charge after artil- 
lery preparation. Most of the defenders were killed and 
forty prisoners taken. The assaults extended over a front 
of more than two miles. The trench now captured by the 
Germans had frequently changed hands during the past twelve 
months, and for that reason was facetiously called "the inter- 
national trench." The brunt of the fighting here fell upon the 
Canadians, who were withdrawn from the trench owing to the 
furious bombardment, and sheltered in the second-line trench. 
The German infantry consequently met with no opposition at the 
former, but when they approached the latter the Canadians 
opened a murderous fire with rifles and machine guns, dropping 
their enemies in hundreds. A few, however, managed to reach 
the trenches, when the Canadians sprang out and charged with 
bayonets, rushed the Germans back to and across the first-line 
trenches again, which were then reoccupied. It was the Cana- 
dian First Division that had blocked the German path to Calais 
in the spring of 1915 almost at the same point. 

Activity on the west front on the 18th was largely confined 
to the Ypres district British troops attempted to recapture 
their positions to the south of Ypres, simultaneously bombard- 
ing the German trenches to the north of the Comines Canal. By 
February 20, 1916, as a result of the continuous fighting north of 
Ypres, the British had lost on the Yser Canal what the German 
official report described as a position 350 meters long, and the 
British statement as "an unimportant advanced post." The 



130 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

German* took some prisoners and repelled several day and night 
attacks by the British to recover the ground. 

In Champagne, uninterrupted artillery actions continued ap- 
parently without much advantage to either side. The German 
works north of Souain were particularly visited. On February 
5, 1916, the French bombarded the German works on the plateau 
of Navarin, wrecking trenches and blowing up several munition 
depots. Some reservoirs of suffocating gas were also demolished, 
releasing the poisonous fumes, which the wind blew back across 
the German lines. On the 13th the French were able to report 
a further success northeast of the Butte du Mesnil, where they 
took some 300 yards of German trenches. A counterattack by 
night was also repulsed, the Germans losing sixty-live prisoners. 
They succeeded, though, in penetrating a small salient of the 
French line between the road from Navarin and that of the 
St Souplet. They also captured, on the 12th, some sections of 
advanced trenches between Tahure and Somme-Py, gaining more 
than 700 yards of front 

In the Vosges a similar series of local engagements occupied 
the combatants. Artillery exchanges played the chief part in the 
operations. Three big shells from a German long-range gun fell 
in the fortress town of Belfort and its environs on February 8, 
1916. The French replied by bombarding the German canton- 
ments at Stosswier, northwest of Mtinster, Hirtzbach, south of 
Altkirch, and the military establishments at Dornach, near Miihl- 
hausen. On the 11th ten more heavy shells fell about Belfort 
North of Wissembach, east of St. Di£, a German infantry charge 
met with a withering fire and was stopped before it reached the 
first line. 

While all the fighting just described was in progress, matters 
were comparatively on a peace footing in the Argonne Forest 
The French and Germans engaged in mine operations, smashing 
up inconsiderable pieces of each other's trenches and mine works. 
But it was here that affairs of great historic import, perhaps the 
mightiest event of the war, were in the making. 

In an interview given to the editor of the "Secolo" of Milan, 
at the end of January, 1916, Mr. Lloyd-George, the British Min- 



THE BATTLE OF VERDUN 181 

ister of Munitions, said: "We woke up slowly to it, but I am 
now perfectly satisfied with what we are doing. We have now 
2,500 factories, employing 1,500,000 men and 250,000 women. 
By spring we shall have turned out an immense amount of 
munitions. We shall have for the first time in the war more 
than the enemy. Our superiority in men and munitions will be 
unquestioned, and I think that the war for us is just beginning. 
We have 8,000,000 men under arms; by spring we shall have a 
million more. . . . Our victory must be a real and final victory. 
You must not think of a deadlock. One must crack the nut before 
one gets at the kernel. It may take a long time, but you must 
hear the crack. The pressure on the enemy is becoming greater. 
They are spreading their frontier temporarily, but becoming 
weaker in a military sense. Make no mistake about it; Great 
Britain is determined to fight this war to a finish. We may 
make mistakes, but we do not give in. It was the obstinacy of 
Great Britain that wore down Napoleon after twenty years of 
warfare. Her allies broke away one by one, but Great Britain 
kept on. Our allies on this occasion are just as solid and de- 
termined as we are." 



CHAPTER XIV 



THE BATTLE OF VEKDUN — THE 
GERMAN ATTACK 

TOWARD the close of 1915 the German General Staff decided 
on a vast onslaught on the French front that would so crush 
and cripple the fighting forces of France that they would cease to 
count as an important factor in the war. A great action was 
also necessary owing to the external and internal situation of 
the German Empire. The time was ripe for staging a spec- 
tacular victory that would astonish the world, intimidate Greece 
and Rumania, and stiffen the weakening hold that Germany 
had on Turkey and Bulgaria. 

The German General Staff knew that Russia was arming 
several hundred thousand new troops, that Great Britain had 



132 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

reenf orced her armies on the Continent, that the Allies were 
amply supplied with guns and shells, and that in the spring they 
would undertake an offensive on a large scale that would go far 
toward ending the war. In order to anticipate this threatened 
onslaught the German staff decided to strike, hoping to gain a 
victory before the Allies were entirely ready. 

Having arrived at this decision, the next problem was to select 
the battle field, and Verdun was decided upon. At first this 
choice created general astonishment, for the capture of Verdun 
would only mean the gaining of a certain number of square miles 
of territory. But the German staff believed that the capture of 
the ancient fortress of Verdun would have a powerful effect on 
public opinion at home and abroad. As a military operation 
they were confident that such a victory might have a decisive 
effect on the future of the war. It was hoped that the French 
army, already weakened, would receive a crushing blow from 
which it could never recover. An intelligent German prisoner 
explained the German point of view: "Verdun sticks into our 
side like a dagger, though sheathed. With that weapon threaten- 
ing our vitals, how can we think of rushing on France elsewhere? 
If we had done so, the Verdun dagger might have stabbed us in 
the back as well as in the side/' 

In order to sustain the German people's faith in the Hohen- 
sollern dynasty there was urgent necessity that the crown prince 
should gain a success. The capture of Verdun would reestablish 
his somewhat tarnished military reputation and might force an 
exhausted France to sue for peace. 

The loss of Verdun and its girdle of forts would have made 
the situation of the defenders very difficult, they would find it a 
serious problem to hold back the German hosts while organizing 
a new line of defense from St. Mihiel to Ste. M6n£hould. More- 
over as the German lines formed a semicircle around the French 
position at Verdun an immense number of guns could be massed 
against a small area. 

In the matter of railway facilities the Germans had every 
advantage. They possessed fourteen strategic lines, while the 
French had only one ordinary double line, which was in easy 



THE BATTLE OP VERDUN 133 

range of the German guns south of Vauquois, and a narrow 
gauge from Verdun to Bar-le-Duc. This terrible handicap was 
in time overcome by the French, who brought to perfection a 
system of motor transport by road that enabled them at a mo- 
ment's notice to bring up men, ammunition, and supplies to the 
defense of Verdun. 

The French positions around the fortress had not greatly 
changed since the closing months of 1914, when the French car* 
ried the village of Brabant and Haumont Wood and occupied the 
southeast corner of Consenvoye Wood. Two formidable natural 
barriers had been secured by the Germans : Forges Wood on the 
left, a long crest east and west confronting the French lines and 
bisected its full length by a ravine. Protected from French fire 
from the south, it afforded an excellent artillery position, while 
the trees served as a screen against aerial observation. The 
position also commanded a clear view of the French left at 
Brabant. To attack Forges Wood it would be necessary to 
advance over an open space entirely bare of any natural pro- 
tection. On the right of the French positions the Germans 
occupied a strong post on a sort of island that overlooked the 
Woevre plain and having on one side a steep cliff. 

The possession of these two strong positions by the Germans 
exposed the French flanks to artillery fire from every direction. 
It was impossible that the French line, bent into a salient in 
front of Haumont and Caures Wood, could hold out if the Ger- 
mans massed a great number of guns against it. 

When the struggle in the Verdun sector began the French left 
was resting on the centers of Brabant, Consenvoye, Haumont, 
and Caures Wood, their first position. The second was marked 
by a line passing through Samogneux, Hill 844, and Mormont 
Farm. 

The French center included the Bois de la Ville, Herbebois, and 
Ornes, with the woods of Beaumont, La Wavrille, Les Fosses, Le 
Chaume, and Les Cauri&res as the second position. 

The French right included Maucourt, Mogeville, the Haytes- 
Charri&res Wood, and Fromezey, with a second position covering 
Bezonvaux, Grand-Chena, and Dieppe. Back of these positions 



134 



THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 



p HIGHWAYS 
FORT^ 
BATTERIES 



MfaiT 



fe *^r ■ "*%*JJ <#® 

XW ™y 4$ AOM0 " 

ixwvemoht JSU ^sir^ 

5 ^ * \ 



~ORC$ry 





OftPPS 




THE FORTS AT VERDUN 



THE BATTLE OF VERDUN 135 

the line of forts was distinguished by the village of Bras, Douau- 
mont, Hardaumont, the fort of Vaux, La Laurie, and Eix. 
Between this line of forts and the second position an intermediate 
position on the reverse side of the slope had been begun from 
Douaumont to Louvemont, on the Poivre and Talov Hills, but at 
the time of the opening assault the work had not made much 
progress. 

The Germans prepared for the offensive with the most ex- 
haustive labors, and as far as it was humanly possible left noth- 
ing to chance. Roads were made through the woods and up the 
slopes, firm foundations were laid down, and the heavy guns 
were dragged to elevated positions. As the result of these weeks 
of herculean toil there were massed against the selected sector 
over a thousand guns brought from every quarter — Serbia, 
Russia, and the west front. The proportion of heavy guns was 
much larger than had ever been employed in preparing attacks of 
this kind. 

Toward the close of December, 1915, the Germans received 
strong reenforcements, the first to arrive being three divisions 
which had fought in the campaign against Serbia. From other 
fronts also they flowed in, and the two corps which had held the 
Vauquois-Etain sector was increased to seven. Some of the 
finest German troops were included in these armies, such as the 
Third Brandenburg Corps and the Fifteenth Corps. It was 
evident that the Germans counted on the battle of Verdun to 
decide the fighting in France, for just before the offensive began 
General Daimling addressed his troops in these words: "In this 
last offensive against France I hope that the Fifteenth Corps 
will distinguish itself as it has ever done by its courage and 
its fortitude." 

Starting from the north of Varennes the German order of 
battle on the day of attack was as follows : On the extreme right 
were the Seventh Reserve Corps, comprising the Second Land- 
wehr Division, the Eleventh Reserve Division (later relieved by 
the Twenty-second Reserve Division), and the Twelfth Reserve 
Division in the order given. Northeast of Verdun, and facing 
the French lines, were the Fourteenth Division and the Seventh 



136 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Reserve Corps, with the Eleventh Bavarian Reserve Division in 
support. To the left of these armies was a central force, com* 
prising the Eighteenth Corps, the Third Corps, the Fifteenth 
Corps, and the Bavarian Ersatz Division in the order named. 

It was estreated by a competent French military authority 
that the Germans had under arms in this sector up to the 16th 
of March a grand total of 440,000 men, of which 320,000 were 
infantry. When the battle opened, the Germans were at least 
three times as strong in numbers as their opponent. 

Before the date fixed for the great offensive the Germans 
undertook many local attacks on the French front with a view 
to deceiving their antagonists as to their real objective. In 
Artois, Champagne, and the Argonne Forest there was some 
strenuous mine fighting, and at Frise in Santerre the Germans 
gained some ground only to lose it a little later. 

A bombarding squadron of Zeppelins which the Germans sent 
out along the Verdun front to cut railway communications fared 
badly. The French antiaircraft guns brought down a number 
of Fokkers and a Zeppelin in flames at Revigny, but the raiders 
succeeded in cutting the Ste. M6nehould line, leaving only a 
narrow-gauge road to supply Verdun. 

At 4.15 in the morning of February 21, 1916, the great battle 
began, the German guns deluging the sector with shells of every 
caliber that smashed and tore the French positions and surround- 
ings until the very face of nature was distorted. French trench 
shelters vanished and in Caures Wood and La Ville Wood men 
were buried in the dugouts or blown to fragments. Telephone 
lines having been cut, communication could only be maintained 
by runners. News of the great destruction wrought by the 
German guns, far from depressing the French fighting units, had 
a stimulating effect. The French front lines crumbled away 
under the deluge of fire, but their occupants still clung tenaciously 
to the debris that remained. The German guns were every- 
where, and it was useless for French aerial observers to indicate 
any special batteries for bombardment The Germans had the 
greater number of guns and the heavier, but the French artil- 
lery was better served on the whole, and there was less reckless 



THE BATTLE OF VERDUN 137 

expenditure of ammunition. As an illustration of the brilliant 
work of the French artillery, an eyewitness has described the 
defense of a position southeast of Haumont Wood. Here one 
battery was divided into flanking guns in three positions — one to 
the southeast of Haumont Wood, a second to the south, and a 
third to the north of Samogneux. The two other batteries were 
to the south of Hill 812; there was also a supporting battery of 
six 90-mm. guns. In response to the German attack the French 
replied with a curtain of fire, but, unchecked by the fearful loss 
of life, they began to swarm in from all sides. 

"They reached Caures Wood by the crests between Haumont 
Wood and Caures Wood itself, and advanced like a flood on our 
positions. The section which attempted to hold them back ad- 
justed its range to their rate of progress and mowed them down 
wave after wave. Swept by the storm of shells, the Germans 
continued to advance and some succeeded in making their way 
around to the rear of the guns. The French by this time had 
come to the end of their ammunition, but they did not lose their 
head, and, destroying their pieces, retreated, bringing a wounded 
sergeant major along with them. 91 

A battery of 90's on the Haumont knoll was forced to stop 
firing. Pierrard, an adjutant whose battery had ceased to exist, 
was dispatched by the commander to help. 

"Pierrard collected his companions and attached himself to the 
battery, which opened fire again with tremendous effect. Those 
guns were in action under him for forty-eight hours, during 
which he kept up constant communication with the group com- 
mander, the burden of his song being an incessant demand for 
ammunition for this truly epic duel with the Germans. 

"Unfortunately it was impossible to get supplies up. The 
Germans were so near that Pierrard and his men used their 
rifles against them; then, finding the position untenable, they 
blew up their guns and retired." It was during this retreat that 
the gallant Pierrard was killed. 

The indomitable courage of the French gunners in this great 
battle is described in another instance by a French officer who 
Was present: 



138 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR" 

"A certain battery was being terribly shelled. A 805-mm. 
shell burst and killed the captain, the adjutant, a sergeant major 
and five gunners. Do you think that the others stopped? Not 
at all; they took off their coats and, working in their shirt 
sleeves, increased their efforts to intensify the curtain of fire 
and to avenge their leaders and comrades." 

The defense of Caures Wood by Lieutenant Colonel Driantfs 
chasseurs was one of the most brilliant and dramatic incidents 
in the battle of Verdun. The deluge of German shells had de» 
stroyed the deepest French dugouts, and before noon their 
stronghold had been smashed in, burying an officer and fourteen 
men beneath the debris. The bombardment continued until the 
French defenders were left without a single shelter worthy of 
the name. When the Germans began to attack Haumont, their 
front-line skirmishers, to create confusion, wore caps that imi- 
tated the French, and were also provided with Red Cross bras* 
sards. The attempted deception was soon discovered, and the 
Germans were forced to pay heavily for the trick. In spite of 
great losses the Germans continued to advance, succeeded in 
gaining a foothold in the French first-line trenches, and held on. 
Throughout the night there were many counterattacks and con- 
stant grenade fighting, but the French maintained their positions. 

On the second day of the assault the Germans resumed their 
terrific bombardment. Trenches were obliterated, and portions 
of the forest were swept away. About noon a large body of 
German troops attacked French positions in Caures Wood, try- 
ing to turn their flanks from two sides, Haumont and La Ville 
Wood. The French fought with desperate energy, but the Ger- 
mans had one gun that raked their chief position, and the iron 
ring of the enemy gradually contracted. To attempt to defend 
the position longer in the face of such conditions would mean 
death or captivity and reluctantly the French commanding offi- 
cer, Lieutenant Colonel Driant, gave the order to retire. Driant 
waited to see the last of his men through Hie wood. He was 
never heard of again. 

The retiring column, leaving the shelter of the wood, en- 
countered heavy machine-gun fire, and, greatly depleted in 



THE BATTLE OP VERDUN 139 

numbers, finally gained the first line of the second position at 
Beaumont. 

No attempt was made by the Germans to advance on the 
Woevre front In the territory of Soumazannes, La Ville Wood, 
and Herbebois the French firmly maintained the supporting line. 

The tactics pursued by the Germans during the first days of 
the battle of Verdun were ably considered and not lacking in 
thoroughness. Their favorite method was to break into de- 
fensive sectors with heavy artillery, and then completely sur* 
round them by barrage fire. After the destructive work of the 
guns they sent forward a scouting parly of a dozen or fifteen 
men to report on the extent of the damage. Following them 
came bombers and pioneers, and then a strong body of infantry. 
Theoretically, this system had merit, but it did not always work 
out as perfectly as the German strategists had planned. Their 
artillery fire often failed to win the ground and make it safe for 
their infantry to advance and occupy it. The French artillery 
endeavored to isolate the attacks, should they succeed in reaching 
the French lines, and their /earless infantry by vigorous counter- 
attacks prevented the Germans from making any important 
advance. 

The fighting for Haumont was continued on February 22, 1916. 
The strong resistance the French had offered to the furious 
attacks of the German infantry may be called a failure. But 
they succeeded in holding back the Germans until their reserves 
had timeio reach the scene and prepare a new defensive line. 

Early in the morning of the 22d the Germans had increased 
their bombardment. Shells of the largest caliber fell, uprooting 
trees and demolishing houses. 

When the Germans attacked Consenvoye Wood with flame 
projectors and advanced toward the western edge of Haumont 
Wood, the French could not move out of the village, so dense was 
the curtain of fire around them. 

Braving this blasting storm, troops of the Haumont garrison 
occupied the hali-ruined works on both sides and in front of the 
place, while the southern exit was held by some reserves that 
had reached the scene. 



140 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

Haumont and the ravine to the south were flooded with Ger- 
man sheila of the largest caliber. Early in the afternoon they 
were falling at the rate of twenty a minute. The French held 
on undismayed. The village crumbled into a mass of debris. 
The principal French defense, a redoubt of concrete, was 
smashed, and some eighty men were buried in the ruins. A 
number of machine guns were also lost, and the ammunition 
dump was destroyed. 

About 5 o'clock in the evening a German battalion attacked 
Haumont, advancing in three columns. The remnant of French 
troops manned the trenches. The few remaining machine guns 
were brought into action and, being well served, wrought havoc 
in the enemy's ranks, but the deadly advance continued, regard- 
less of the heavy losses incurred. 

The French then assembled every survivor in some trenches 
southeast of Haumont, and with three machine guns continued 
the fight. But the Germans had the advantage of numbers. 
They penetrated to the center of the village, and finally sur- 
rounded the French battalion headquarters. 

After premises were fired by means of flame projectors, the 
French colonel and his staff, facing capture or death, were for- 
tunate in escaping through the German machine-gun barrage 
without a single casualty. They had been forced to evacuate 
Haumont, but their sustained and splendid defense of the place 
/ was one of the bravest deeds that marked the Homeric struggle 
at Verdun. 

At the close of the day the French still held the greater part 
of Herbebois and Wavrille, but La Ville Wood was in the hands 
of the enemy. The French line now ran by Hill 240, the Mor- 
mont Farm, and the intermediate position of Samogneux- 
Brabant. Their defensive works and trenches having been de- 
stroyed or made useless, the French had no cover. Fighting 
must now be carried on in the open. Often the French artillery 
fired at point-blank range regardless of their own sacrifices so 
long as they could mow down the enemy. 

Brabant was evacuated by the French during the night of 
February 22, 1916. At Samogneux, owing to the intensity of 



THE STRUGGLE FOR VERDUN 



141 



% 



3 




142 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

the German fire, they remained on the defensive. Several 
counterattacks to the east were carried out which greatly im- 
proved the French positions. 

In the Wavrille sector the French had succeeded during the 
night in connecting their new line with the Herbebois sector, 
though incessantly bombarded. Wavrille Wood and Hill 351 
must be protected, for their capture would enable the Germans to 
sweep the Beaumont-Hill 344 line. 

After repeated attacks the Germans captured Wavrille Wood, 
where they were kept hemmed in by the French barrage and 
unable to proceed. Fighting in the Herbebois sector had raged 
throughout the day, and during the night the French were forced 
to withdraw. 

When February 24, 1916, dawned the French line ran by 
Beaumont, the northern edge of the Bois des Fosses, and covered 
La Chaume Wood. The Germans continued to bombard the 
Woevre front, but did not attempt to attack as the French artil- 
lery held them to their trenches. 

During the day the Germans, who had been hemmed in at 
Samogneux, after repeated struggles to debouch from that place, 
succeeded when night came in capturing Hill 304. 

From the southern edge of Caures Wood the Germans slowly 
advanced through the heavily timbered ravines up the slopes of 
Anglemont Hill. On the side of Fosses Wood they bombarded 
French positions all the morning of February 24, 1916. East of 
Rappe Wood and to the north of Wavrille Wood they assembled 
strong forces. Two French battalions succeeded in carrying 
part of the wood, and were then held up by machine-gun fire. 
Fosses Wood and Beaumont were deluged by German shells of 
every caliber. An infantry attack gave the Germans the south- 
ern edge of Wavrille Wood, where the French clung tenaciously. 
Fosses Wood, then Beaumont, were captured, then La Chaume 
Wood. The French situation had become serious. At 2.20 in 
the afternoon a large force of Germans advanced between Louve- 
mont and Hill 347, and though the French made desperate efforts 
to stay the advancing waves, Les Chambrettes, Beaumont, and 
Fosses and Caures Woods were occupied by the enemy. 




Geaersl Joflre coaferrlag wfta Geaeral P«Ufn aoar Vordaa. waere Geaeral Petaia'e forces 
meet tae wulii of tae analea of too Crowa Prlaee la tae battle for Iho fortroM 



Gift of The People of the United S'^ ; 
♦ Through t:i2VM;ry Book Campj: - 
(A.L,\--a. il-C— -U.S.O.} 

To the Arr.icd Forces and Merchant Marine 

PART IV— THE WAR AT SEA 



CHAPTER XV 

NAVAL SITUATION AT THE BEGINNING 
OP THE SECOND YEAR — SUB- 
MARINE EXPLOITS 

NAVAL events such as the world had never known were 
believed to be impending at the beginning of the war's 
second year. With the land forces of the belligerents in a fierce 
deadlock, it seemed that a decision must come upon the sea. 
Assuredly the Allies were willing, and Germany had accom- 
plished things in her shipyards that for sheer determination 
and efficiency developed to the last degree, were comparable to 
her finest deeds of arms. None doubted that she longed with 
a grim hope for such a meeting. Helgoland and the newly 
enlarged Kiel Canal were hives where an intensive industry 
kept every man and vessel fit. And the navy grew while it 
waited. 

It was not the work of a day, though, nor of a generation, 
to match the sea power that Great Britain had spent centuries 
in building. Try as she would, strain men, ordnance plants, 
and shipyards to the breaking point, Germany could not catch 
up with her great rival. The first half of the new year saw 
no matching of the grand fleets. It did produce a few gallant 
combats, and was marked by a melancholy succession of 
German submarine attacks on defenseless craft. The sacri- 
fice of lives among neutrals and the Allies cast a pall upon 
the world. 

Naval losses up to August 1, 1915, had been considerable on 

both sides without crippling any one of the belligerents. No 
J— War St 4 j^g 



144 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

sooner was a warship sunk than there were two to replace it. 
Every country engaged took effective steps to preserve such 
maritime power as it had, and Great Britain worked harder 
than any of the others, for her existence depended upon it. 

The first year of the conflict cost England thirty-two fighting 
craft, great and small. France lost thirteen, Russia five, Japan 
three, a total of fifty-three. The combined tonnage was 297,178. 
To counterbalance this Germany lost sixty-seven war vessels, 
Turkey five and Austria four, the seventy-six ships having an 
aggregate tonnage of 206,100. The difference of 91,078 gross 
tons in favor of Germany and her partners in war was offset by 
the number of fast German cruisers which fell victims to the 
Allies, and by the numerical inferiority of the Central Powers 9 
combined fleets. 

On August 1, 1915, the naval situation was identical with that 
of August 1, 1914. Great Britain, aided materially by France, 
and her other allies, in a lesser degree, stood ready to do battle 
with the Teuton sea forces whenever opportunity offered. She 
had won every important engagement with the exception of the 
clash off the coast of Chile, and could look calmly forward, 
despite the gnawing of German submarines at her commerce. 
With every gun and man primed for the fight, with the greatest 
collection of armed vessels ever known lying at ports, merely 
awaiting the word, she felt supremely ready. 

The lives of 1,550 persons were lost during the first year of 
the war through the sinking of merchant ships, nearly all of 
which were torpedoed. This applied to vessels of the Allies alone, 
twenty-two persons having been lost with neutral ships. The 
total of tonnage destroyed between February 18, 1915, when the 
German edict against commercial vessels went into effect, and 
August 1, 1915, was 450,000 tons, including 152 steamships of 
more than 500 tons each. This was the heaviest loss ever 
inflicted on the shipping of the world by any war. But it did 
not seriously cripple the commerce of either France or England, 
Germany's two major opponents. Their vessels continued to sail 
the seven seas, bringing the products of every land to their aid, 
while Germany and her allies were effectually cut off from prac- 



SUBMARINE EXPLOITS 145 

tically all resources except their own. Switzerland and Sweden 
were the main dependence of Germany for contraband, and the 
activities of the former were considerably restricted when the 
Entente Allies really settled down to a blockade of Germany. 
Austria and impoverished Turkey had no friends to draw upon, 
but must fight their battles alone except for such assistance as 
Germany could lend, which did not extend beyond the actual 
material of war — guns, shells and bullets. 

The submarine was Germany's best weapon. She outmatched 
the Allies on land, but in such a small degree that her most 
stubborn effort could not win a decisive victory. Meanwhile her 
opponents grew stronger in an economic way, while the situa- 
tion in Germany became more strained. By issuing a constantly 
increasing volume of bank notes against an almost stationary 
gold reserve she depreciated the value of her mark at home and 
abroad. In the face of this tangled situation her submarines 
rendered incalculable aid, destroying and menacing allied com- 
merce. Without them Germany would have been helpless upon 
the sea, would have ceased to exist as a maritime power. Her 
first-line ships lay securely in their harbors, unable to venture 
forth and match the longer-ranged, heavier-gunned vessels of 
the British, ably supplemented by the French fleet. 

Just how many submarines Germany possessed at the begin- 
ning of the war cannot be stated. The number probably was 
in the neighborhood of fifty. That she has lost many of these 
vessels and built even a larger number is certain. As the con- 
flict grew older Great Britain in particular learned a method of 
combating them. It was estimated that on August 1, 1915, she 
had 2,300 small craft specially fitted for running down sub- 
marines. Private yachts, trawlers, power boats, destroyers, and 
torpedo boats hunted night and day for the elusive undersea boats 
of her enemy. The pleasure and fishing craft which had been 
impressed into service were equipped with all sorts of guns, 
some of them very old ones, but thoroughly capable of sinking 
a submarine. These vessels patrolled the British coast with a 
zeal that cost Germany dear. Some authorities believed that up to 
August 1, 1915, upward of fifty German submarines had been 



146 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

sunk and more than a dozen captured. The numbers probably 
are excessive, but if they had disposed of even twenty-five under- 
sea boats the effort was a distinct success. 

In addition to this means of defense Great Britain embarked 
upon another undertaking that truly was gigantic in its extent 
and the difficulties imposed. She stretched wire nets for many 
miles under the surface of the waters washing her shores. The 
regular channel routes were thus guarded. Once within such 
a net there was no escape for the submarine. The wire meshes 
fouled their propellers or became entwined around the vessels 
in a way that rendered them helpless. The commander must 
either come to the surface and surrender or end the career 
of himself and crew beneath the waves. A number of sub- 
marines were brought to the surface with their crews dead by 
their own hands. Others were captured, and it is said that 
about twenty of these vessels have been commissioned in the 
British navy. 

The hazardous character of the work in which the submarine 
engaged and the success of British defensive measures undoubt- 
edly made it difficult for Germany to man her new undersea craft 
Special training is essential for both crew and officers, and men 
of particularly robust constitution are required. There have 
been reports that men assigned to the German submarines 
regarded their selection as a practical death warrant Despite 
the fine courage of German sailors as evidenced in this war f 
word filtered through the censorship that it was becoming diffi- 
cult for Germany to secure men for her submarines. 

But the venturesome spirit of many German submarine com- 
manders knew no bounds. Previous to the period under consid- 
eration at least one submarine had made its way from a German 
base to the Dardanelles, establishing a record for craft of this 
sort that had seemed impossible up to that time. During August 
other submarines made the same trip without any untoward 
event. The Allies knew full well that reenf orcements were 
being sent to the Mediterranean, but seemed unable to prevent 
the plan's success. This inability was to result in serious losses 
to both the allied navies and their merchant shipping. 



SUBMARINE EXPLOITS 147 

The first event during the month of August, 1915, that bore 
any naval significance was the sinking of the British destroyer 
Lynx on August 9, 1915, in the North Sea. She struck a mine 
and foundered within a few minutes. Four officers and twenty- 
two men out of a complement in the neighborhood of 100 were 
saved. The vicinity had been swept only a day or two before 
for mines and it was believed that a German undersea boat had 
strewn new mines which caused the loss. 

Another British war vessel was sunk the next day. The aux- 
iliary cruiser India fell prey to a submarine while entering the 
roads at Restfjord, Sweden, on the steamship lane between 
England and Archangel, Russia's northernmost port Eighty 
of the crew, estimated at more than 300 men, were saved by 
Swedish craft The attack came without warning and furnished 
another illustration of the submarine's deadly effectiveness 
under certain conditions. The India, a Peninsular and Oriental 
liner before the war, was well known to many travelers. Built 
in 1896, she had a registry of 7,900 tons, and was in the eastern 
service for a number of years. 

After many months of idleness a clash came in the North 
Sea on August 12, 1915. The Ramsay, a small patrol vessel, met 
and engaged the German auxiliary Meteor. Although out- 
matched, the British ship closed with her foe and kept up the 
fight for an hour. The cannonade attracted a flotilla of cruisers, 
which came up too late to save the Ramsay, but which did suc- 
ceed in cutting off the Meteor. 

Four officers and thirty-nine members of the crew were picked 
up by the Germans when their antagonist went down and these, 
together with the crew of the Meteor, took to the German's boats 
when her commander saw that escape was impossible. He blew 
up his ship and by a combination of pluck, good seamanship, and 
a favorable fortune managed to dude the cordon of British 
cruisers, reaching the German shore with his prisoners. The 
total crew of the Ramsay was slightly more than 100 men. 

Two successful attacks in four days on British war vessels, 
and the loss of a third by a mine, stirred official circles, and 
demand was made in the papers that redoubled precautions be 



148 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

taken. It was believed that the adventure of the Meteor into 
hostile waters heralded further activity by the German fleet, but 
the days passed without incident, and the British naval forces 
settled down to the old routine of watching and waiting. 

While these events were transpiring in the North Sea the 
British had not been idle elsewhere. From the beginning of 
operations in the Dardanelles attempts had been made to pene- 
trate the Bosphorus and sink one of the Turk's capital ships. 
A number of sailing vessels and one or two transports had been 
sunk by British submarines in that sea, but efforts to locate the 
larger warships of the enemy failed until August 9, 1915. On 
that day the Kheyr-ed Din Barbarossa, a battleship of 9,900 tons 
and a complement of 600 men, was sent to the bottom. The 
attack took place within the Golden Horn, at Constantinople, 
and the event spread consternation in the Turkish capital. It 
was the first time on record that a hostile warship had pene- 
trated the land-locked waters of the Ottoman city, so favored 
by nature that attack had seemed impossible there. 

The Barbarossa, although an ancient ship as war vessels are 
rated, carried four 12-inch guns and was a formidable fighting 
craft, having been overhauled by German engineers about a 
year before the war started. Along with the Goeben and 
Breslau, which took refuge at Constantinople on the outbreak 
of hostilities, and were "sold" to Turkey, she constituted the 
Turk's chief naval arm. 

News of the feat was received with enthusiasm in England, 
coming as the initial achievement of the sort by a British sub- 
marine. It helped salve the wounds to British pride, made by 
repeated disasters through the medium of German undersea 
boats. The event was one of the few bright episodes from an 
Ally standpoint in the campaign to capture Constantinople, and 
was taken to mean that a new tide had set in for the attackers. 
It did serve to clear the Sea of Marmora of Turkish shipping, 
and supplies for the beleaguered forces at the tip of Gallipoli 
Peninsula were henceforth carried by a single track railway or 
transport. It also inspired a heaHAy respect among the Turks 
for enemy submarines. 



SUBMARINE EXPLOITS 149 

A few days later, August 16; 1915, another German submarine 
was to set a new record. Early in the morning of that day the 
towns of Whitehaven, Parton, and Harrington, on the western 
coast of England, were aroused in succession by the boom of 
guns and the falling of shells in their streets. It was believed 
for a few frenzied moments that the German fleet had come. 
But merely one lone submarine had made the attack. This was 
enough to cause considerable alarm, particularly when it was 
seen that a gas plant at Whitehaven had caught fire. There 
were other fires in the same town and at Harrington, none of 
which did much damage. 

Once more the undersea boat of the enemy had scored. Not 
since 1778 had the towns smelled hostile powder. In that year 
John Paul Jones surprised the guards at Whitehaven during the 
night, spiked the guns of its defenses, and prepared to burn a 
number of ships at anchor there. The arrival of reenf orcements 
frustrated this plan and the American seamen were recalled to 
their vessels. Whitehaven never forgot, and now it has a new 
chapter in its martial record. 

The Turks were soon to have their revenge for the loss 
of the Barbarossa through the medium of a German sub- 
marine which, after more than a year of war, accomplished one 
of the cherished plans of the Germans — the sinking of a British 
troop ship. On August 17, 1915, the Royal Edward, register- 
ing 11,117 tons, was hit and sunk in the JEgean Sea. There 
were thirty-two officers and 1,350 troops aboard, in addition to 
220 officers and men of the ship's company. One thousand were 
lost. 

The blow was a hard one, coming after the efforts of the 
British navy to protect the country's fighting men. It em- 
phasized the new activity by German submarines in the Mediter- 
ranean. No one believed for a moment that Austria had 
ventured upon such an extensive campaign as recent events 
pointed to. In addition to the one German submarine known 
to have reached the Dardanelles via Gibraltar, it had been 
reported that others were being brought overland to Pola and 
the parts assembled there. 



150 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

A good deal of mystery surrounds an engagement off the west 
coast of Jutland on this same August 17th. Berlin announced 
that a fight began at 2 o'clock in the afternoon between five 
German torpedo boats and a light British cruiser and eight 
destroyers. It was alleged that the cruiser and one destroyer 
foundered, without any loss to the German force. 

The British Admiralty was vague in its report of the encoun- 
ter, saying that the British ships were mine-sweepers, of which 
one failed to return. Like many other incidents of the war at 
sea, the real facts cannot now be established. But there is no 
doubt that a clash did take place, and the German report was 
the more circumstantial. 



CHAPTER XVI 



THE SINKING OF THE ABABI C — BRITIS H 
SUBMABINE SUCCESSES 

WHILE the diplomats were laboring with questions arising 
from the loss of the Lusitania, at a moment when tension 
between the United States and Germany was acute, came the 
sinking of the Arabic, on August 19, 1915, with the death of 
two Americans and thirty-odd British citizens out of 391 persons 
aboard. The attack took place near Fastnet Light, not far distant 
from the spot where the Lusitania was sunk. Like the latter ship 
the Arabic was struck without warning, two torpedoes pene- 
trating her side. She was a vessel of 15,801 tons and, although 
in service for a number of years, was rated as one of the first- 
class Atlantic liners. Previous to the attack she had been chased 
on several occasions by undersea craft, but had always managed 
to elude them. 

The outcry that followed this event in the United States gave 
the situation as regarded Germany a graver aspect than before. 
She had been warned that this country would hold her to strict 
accountability for the lives of its citizens. Berlin, asked if a 



THE SINKING OF THE ARABIC 151 

submarine sank the vessel, followed by immediate disclaimers 
of any belligerent intent. It was alleged that a German sub- 
marine had been in the act of attacking another British vessel 
when the Arabic hove into view and attempted to ram the sub- 
marine. In defense the latter's captain sank the liner, Berlin 
explained. 

This theory was not in the least acceptable to the United 
States. Captain Finch of the Arabic and other persons aboard 
had seen the attack on the second ship, and the Arabic attempted 
to flee but was overhauled and torpedoed. The facts were 
attested to by such a number of persons that there could be little 
doubt of their correctness. But despite this and Germany's oft- 
repeated assurances of respect for American lives, nothing of a 
positive character was done by the United States. Negotiations 
dragged out to a wearisome length and the submarines continued 
to take their almost daily toll from neutrals and belligerents alike. 

The British submarine E-7 was sunk by a Turkish land bat- 
tery in the Sea of Marmora on September 4, 1915, thirty-two 
men being lost. She was the first undersea boat of the Allies to 
meet that fate in the Dardanelles operations. 

The combination of care and luck that had kept British trans- 
ports inviolate for more than a year, which ended with the 
sinking of the Royal Edward, was to be reversed during the 
coming months when German submarines inflicted heavy losses 
on this class of ships. The Mediterranean proved to be the 
grave of several thousand men lost in this manner. The 
Ramazan, of 3,477 tons, bringing native troops from India, was 
torpedoed and sunk on September 19, 1915, in the JEgesm Sea. 
Out of about 1,000 men on board some 300 were landed at Malta. 
The levy which she had aboard consisted of Sikhs and Gurkhas. 
The sea was new to these men, drawn from interior provinces, 
and they had embarked upon their first voyage with all the mis- 
givings which usually accompany that experience. The panic 
among them when the Ramazan was hit may well be imagined. 
Hints of it crept into the British press, but it was said that 
after a few wild minutes the officers got their men in hand and 
all died together with true British fortitude. 



152 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

One of the few announcements made by Germany concerning 
lost submarines was given out on September 27, 1915, whether 
for diplomatic reasons or otherwise it would be difficult to say. 
The U-27, it was said, had not been heard from since August 
10, 1915, and was deemed to have been sunk or captured. Berlin 
concluded with the observation that the U-27 might have been 
destroyed after sinking the Arabic, inasmuch as none of her 
commanders had reported the torpedoing of the liner up to that 
date. It was Germany's plea at the time that she knew nothing 
officially of the Arabic's loss. The disappearance of the U-27, a 
new and fast submarine having seventeen knots speed on the 
surface, therefore, was a matter of diplomatic importance. The 
puzzle never was answered. 

For some unexplained reason Great Britain never resorted to 
submarine attacks upon German shipping in the Baltic Sea until 
the fall of 1915. While her own vessels were being sunk she 
spared those of her enemy, either because the navy had not been 
prepared to undertake an expedition into the Baltic, or because 
it had been looked upon as a small issue in the face of graver 
problems. This situation was changed by the German threat 
against Riga, Russia's important Baltic port, following the fall 
of Libau and the progress of German troops in Courland within 
cannon range almost of Riga. 

It was determined to send a squadron of submarines into the 
Baltic as a means of assisting Russia and for the purpose of 
stopping supplies being sent to Germany from Sweden. Com- 
manders of the undersea boats were specifically directed to see 
that all passengers and crews were taken off merchant ships 
before they were sunk. These orders were carried out in detail, 
not a single noncombatant having lost his life as a result of the 
operations that ensued. 

The E-13, with several other submarines, was bound for the 
Baltic when she ran aground. This was in Danish waters off the 
island of Saltholm, between Copenhagen and MalmO. She 
struck early in the morning and all efforts to gain open water 
failed. At five a. m. a Danish torpedo boat appeared and in- 
formed the commander that twenty-four hours would be given 



THE SINKING OF THE ARABIC 153 

him to leave the three-mile zone. Shortly afterward a German 
destroyer came up and remained close by until two additional 
Danish torpedo boats reached the scene. The German withdrew, 
but reappeared about nine o'clock, accompanied by a second de- 
stroyer. The three Danish boats were close at hand, but neither 
they nor the British crew had an inkling of what was to follow. 

One of the German destroyers hoisted a signal, but this was 
pulled down so quickly that the E-13'8 commander failed to read 
it. The German then fired a torpedo at the helpless craft, which 
struck the bottom near by without doing any damage. This was 
followed with a broadside from every gun that could be brought 
to bear. 

Realizing that escape was impossible the British commander 
gave orders to abandon the ship and blow her up. When such 
of his men as were still on their feet tumbled over the side, the 
Germans turned machine guns and shrapnel upon them. A dozen 
men were killed or wounded before a Danish boat of the trio on 
hand steamed into the line of fire and stopped the slaughter. 
Both of the German destroyers retired. 

This attack inflamed England from end to end. It was 
pointed out how British sailormen so frequently had risked their 
lives to rescue Germans in distress, and demand was made for 
reprisals. No direct steps were taken toward that end, but the 
German navy soon was to suffer losses from the companion boats 
of the E-13, which had reached the Baltic safely. 

Hard on the heels of the E-18 incident came formal complaint 
from Germany that the British had pushed overboard survivors 
from a German submarine sunk by a trawler. Men aboard the 
transport Narco&ian gave the first news of this affair on reaching 
New Orleans after a trip from England. They said that while 
the U-27 was parleying with the Narcosian, preparatory to sink- 
ing her, an armed trawler came to their aid and rammed the U-27, 
which sunk almost at once. Several of the German sailors swam 
to the trawler and climbed over her sides. They were thrown 
back and drowned, according to the Narcosian crew's testimony. 

Representations upon this subject were made to Washington 
by the German authorities, without any expectation that the 



154 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

United States would take action, but merely to serve as a record 
and basis for future action. The German press cried for re- 
venge, and it was not long until the Government itself talked 
broadly of similar treatment for British prisoners. Great 
Britain suggested that a board of American naval officers 
hear evidence in the case and render a decision, providing 
that Germany would defend charges of a similar character. 
From fighting, the two principal combatants had fallen to 
quarreling, Germany refused the challenge and nothing came 
of the matter. 

A large German torpedo boat was run down and cut in two by 
a German ferryboat on October 15, 1915, not far from Trelle- 
borg, Sweden. Both vessels were running with all lights out 
when the accident took place. Five men were saved and forty 
drowned. 

The first fruits of the undertaking to clear the Baltic of Ger- 
man shipping and interfere with the operations against Riga 
was the sinking on October 24, 1915, of the Prinz Adalbert, an 
armored cruiser of 8,858 tons. Of 575 men aboard less than 100 
were saved. She was the first big German warship to be blown 
up by a torpedo. True, the Bliicher was so disposed of during 
the Dogger Bank fight, mentioned in another volume, but she 
already had been disabled. 

The submarine that ended the Prinz Adalbert's career never 
was identified, but she did her work well. Berlin announced that 
two torpedoes struck the cruiser, both taking effect, and that she 
sunk in a few minutes. The attack was made near Libau, ac- 
cording to the German statement. 

The British cruiser Argyll stranded off the Scottish coast on 
October 28, 1915, and broke up a few days later. The mishap 
occurred during a storm, and all of her crew were rescued by 
other vessels. She was of 10,850 tons burden, and carried a 
heavy armament. This same day the Hythe, an auxiliary vessel 
was sunk in a collision near Gallipoli Peninsula, with a loss of 
twenty lives. 

Turkish gunners destroyed the French submarine Turquoise in 
the Dardanelles on November l r 1915. Her crew of thirty odd 



THE SINKING OF THE ARABIC 155 

men were killed or drowned. The incident took place at the nar- 
rowest point of the passage into the Sea of Marmora. 

November proved to be a bad month for the kaiser's naval 
forces. During the first week the U-8 was lost in the North Sea. 
Berlin reported that the vessel had stranded. Whether this ver- 
sion was correct cannot be learned, the British policy of conceal- 
ing submarine captures, in order to befog Berlin, cutting off in- 
formation from that source. 

This month also cost the British several ships. Torpedo boat 
No. 96 collided with another vessel near Gibraltar on November 
2, 1915, and sank before all of her crew could escape, eleven men 
being drowned. The fifth of the month witnessed a successful 
attack by an enemy submarine upon the armed merchantman 
Torn of the British navy. She was a vessel of 6,322 tons and 
carried from four to five hundred men, of whom thirty-four lost 
their lives. The sinking of the Tara, coupled with numerous at- 
tacks on merchant ships, proved that the undersea fleet of Ger- 
many in the Mediterranean was becoming formidable. Then be- 
gan a painstaking search of the many small islands off the Greek, 
Italian, and Turkish coasts for submarine bases. Several were 
discovered and destroyed. A number of submarines also were 
caught or sunk in the Mediterranean. 

The Undine, a German cruiser having 2,636 tons registry, 
and a crew of 275 men, was torpedoed in the Baltic November 
7, 1915. She had been convoying a fleet of merchant ships com- 
ing from Sweden when a British submarine cut short her days. 
Nearly all of the crew were lost. 

Germany now began to feel the pinch of undersea warfare. 
Sweden, most friendly of neutral powers on the European con- 
tinent, and a source of endless supplies, was almost isolated from 
the Baltic side by the half dozen British submarines in that sea. 
Unlike the British, the Germans deemed it better to keep their 
vessels in port than risk destruction, even in the face of condi- 
tions that approached starvation for the poor. The string of 
vessels that had been bringing native Swedish products to Ger- 
many, and others from the United States and elsewhere, trans- 
shipped by the Swedes, were kept idle. 



156 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Search for the submarines that imperiled their last water link 
with the outside world went zealously on. A number of small, 
fast patrol boats and cruisers were assigned to the task. Thus 
it was that the Frauenlob, a cruiser of 2,672 tons and some 300 
men, came within the range of a British submarine off the Baltic 
coast of Sweden on November 7, 1915. She blew up and plunged 
to the bottom after a single torpedo had been fired. Practically 
every man aboard was lost 

As may be well imagined these achievements of her own un- 
dersea boats filled England with pride. It was almost a joy, ex- 
cept for the loss of life, to see Germany suffer at a business in 
which she had caused such distress to others. And the Empire 
was suffering acutely from the suspension of connections with 
Sweden, as evidenced by the greater haste to run down the elu- 
sive submarines that dogged her navy. More vessels were as- 
signed to the hunt. Every mile of shore line within the German 
reach was searched for a possible base and the vessels in the 
hunt kept a lookout on all sides for the telltale periscope. 

The British lost another destroyer on November 9, 1915, dur- 
ing a storm in the Mediterranean, a half dozen men being saved. 
And the Turks accounted for a submarine on the 13th, when the 
E-20 was sunk by land fire in the Sea of Marmora. Although 
Turkish craft had been compelled to forego trips in those waters 
they proved to be most unfriendly for allied submarines. With 
experience on the part of the Turks came less respect for the un- 
dersea boats, a number of which were hit by land batteries dur- 
ing the operations there. 

Naval operations continued in this way without notable in- 
cident until December 18, 1915. Then the cruiser Bremen joined 
the other German war vessels that had been sunk in the Baltic 
search. She registered 2,672 tons, and had about 300 men 
aboard. The attack took place near the Swedish coast, and 
created such a sensation that the Swedes became convinced the 
British had a submarine rendezvous on their shores, and took a 
hand in the hunt. No evidence of a base could be found. 

By this time German shipping had practically disappeared 
from the Baltic and it never reappeared. The British tactics 



THE SINKING OF THE ARABIC 157 

fully served their purpose in this direction. And the few sub- 
marines rendered effective aid in the defense of Riga, helping 
the Russians stem what promised to be a dangerous onslaught. 
It would not be too much to say that the arrival of the little fleet 
of undersea boats was a turning point in the German drive along 
the Baltic, which overwhelmed Libau. The Russian line stiffened 
before Riga with the aid of the navy and the submarines. Riga 
was saved, perhaps Petrograd, which it guarded. 

There was a considerable loss of life on December 28, 1915, 
when the Vitte de la Ciotat, a French channel steamer, became 
the mark of a torpedo. Seventy-nine of her passengers and crew 
were drowned, the survivors suffering severely from bad weather 
in open boats before they reached land. A number of them after- 
ward died of pneumonia. 

The final tragedy of the year at sea took place on December 
80, 1915, shortly after one o'clock in the afternoon at a point 300 
miles northwest of Alexandria, Egypt, where the Peninsular and 
Oriental liner Persia was torpedoed. Like so many ships that 
had gone before she sank immediately. Out of 241 passengers 
aboard only fifty-nine were saved, while ninety-four men in a 
crew of 159 reached shore. This aroused some criticism, but 
there was no evidence to show that the crew had taken advantage 
of those intrusted to their protection. 

No one saw the submarine that sank the Persia. She un- 
doubtedly was torpedoed, as it was scarcely reasonable that a 
stray mine had floated to such an unfrequented spot. One 
American citizen, Robert Ney McNeely, appointed consul to Aden, 
Egypt, lost his life. He was en route to his post at the time and 
the United States Government found itself facing another serious 
situation. Here was an American official, bound on official busi- 
ness, killed by a friendly nation. There the problem became more 
complex. It could not be proved to whom the submarine be- 
longed that attacked the ship; it could not even be shown that 
she had been torpedoed. Germany flatly denied any hand in the 
affair and Austria, after delay for reports from her submarines 
commanders, likewise disclaimed responsibility. Official Wash- 
ington turned inquiring eyes upon Turkey. There were hints in 



158 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

the German press that a Turkish boat torpedoed the vessel. Both 
Germany and Austria had pledged themselves to respect the lives 
of noncombatants, but Turkey, having never sank a passenger 
ship, was bound by no such pledge. It even was hinted that Bul- 
garia might be the nation to blame. She had entered hostilities 
on the side of the Teutonic Powers, and was said to have at least 
one or two submarines. 

Amid this welter of excuses, explanations and possibilities the 
United States Government floundered for several weeks. Then 
it gave up the problem and ruled that Mr. McNeely should have 
asked for a warship if he wanted to reach Aden and there was 
no other way to go. The Persia had several 4.7-inch guns aboard, 
which compromised her in the view of Washington. 

According to the British Admiralty thirty-nine unarmed steam- 
ships and one trawler flying the Union Jack were sunk without 
warning by submarines up to the end of 1915. Thirteen neutral 
steamships and one sailing vessel were listed under the same 
heading. Of these, the GhdfUght and Nebraskan were American. 
The Norwegians lost four steamships and the sailing craft, the 
Swedes four, the Danes one, the Greeks one, and the Portuguese 
one. It was stated that several vessels believed to have been 
sunk by submarines, where proof was lacking, had not been taken 
into account. 

Although this compilation included the Lu&itartia, the Arabic, 
and other big vessels on which many lives were lost, the list seems 
of small consequence in view of later raids upon allied and neu- 
tral shipping by the German undersea boats. It was destined to 
reach an ominous length in the succeeding months. 



CRUISE OF THE MOEWE 159 

CHAPTER XVII 

CRUISE OF THE MOEWE — LOSS OF 
BRITISH BATTLESHIPS 

THE cruise of the Moewe stands out as one of the most impor- 
- tant naval achievements of the war. She left Bremerhaven 
on December 20, 1915, according to one of her officers who after- 
ward reached the United States, and calmly threaded her way 
through the meshes of the British navy's North Sea net. After 
leaving the shelter of home waters, with the Swedish colon 
painted on her hull, the Moewe boldly turned her nose down the 
Channel. She answered the signals of several British cruisers 
and on one occasion at least was saluted in turn. Having a 
powerful wireless apparatus aboard, her commander, Count zu 
Dohna-Schlobitten, a captain-lieutenant in the Imperial navy, 
was able to keep up with the movements of British patrol vessels. 
Several intercepted messages told of a strange white liner that 
refused to answer questions. This was the Moewe, and before 
passing into the Atlantic she had changed her coat to black. 
She was sighted by probably a dozen British warships before 
reaching the North Atlantic. By refusing to heed the signals of 
distant vessels, which she had a good chance of outdistancing in 
a race, and showing every courtesy to those close at hand, the 
raider made her escape. 

The Moewe had about three hundred men aboard. They were 
a picked crew, and her commander a man of daring. Within 
a period of less than three months he sunk fifteen merchant 
ships, captured the Appam and sent her to Norfolk, Va., 
then returned home with 199 prisoners and $250,000 in gold 
bars. And he may have been responsible for the loss of the 
British battleship King Edward VII, of 16,500 tons, which 
struck a mine in the North Sea on January 9, 1916. It is certain 
that the Moewe left a chain of mines behind her on the out- 
ward voyage, some of which undoubtedly caused loss to allied 
shipping. 

K— War St. 4 



160 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Once past the British Channel fleet, the Moewe struck for the 
steamship lane off the Moroccan, Spanish, and Portuguese coasts. 
There she was comparatively safe from pursuit, and so skillfully 
were her operations carried on that it was many weeks before 
the fact became known that a raider actually was abroad. But 
one by one overdue steamships failed to reach their ports and 
suspicion grew. Either the Karlsruhe had returned to life as a 
plague upon allied shipping, an able successor appeared, or a 
flotilla of giant submarines was at large that could cruise almost 
any distance. Several vessels brought tales to England of being 
chased by a phantom ship near the African coast. But such 
stories had been repeated so many times without any foundation 
that the British admiralty was in a quandary. To overlook no 
clue, a flotilla of cruisers swept the seas under suspicion. They 
came back empty handed. 

At dawn, February 1, 1916, a big steamship passed into 
Hampton Roads, disregarding pilots and the signals of other 
craft She hove to at an isolated spot and waited for daylight. 
When the skies cleared the German naval flag was seen floating 
at her prow. Newport News could scarce believe the report. 
Then the city remembered the Kronprinzessin Cecile and the 
Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, both of which had stolen in under 
cover of night from a raiding career. 

But this was no raider. It was the Appam, a raider's victim. 
She had sailed across the Atlantic from a point on the South 
African route, held prisoner thirty-three days by a prize crew 
of twenty-two men and one officer, lieutenant Hans Berg, of the 
Imperial German Naval Reserve. Aboard the Appam were 156 
officers and men, 116 of her own passengers, 188 survivors of 
destroyed vessels, and twenty Germans who had been en route to 
a prison camp in England when rescued. This large company 
was cowed by the lieutenant's threat to shoot the first man who 
made a hostile move, or to blow up the vessel with bombs if he 
saw defeat was certain. And, like a good stage director, he 
pointed significantly to rifles, bayonets, and bombs. 

There were several notables among the prisoners, including 
Sir Edward Merewether, Governor of Sierra Leone, and his wife. 



CRUISE OF THE MOEWE 161 

They were homeward bound from his African post for a vaca- 
tion when the Moewe took the Appam. All of the persons 
aboard, save the Germans, were released and the ship interned. 
Then followed a long wrangle as to the status of the vessel, Ger- 
many claiming the right of asylum for a prize by the terms of an 
old Prussian treaty with the United States. Great Britain pro- 
tested this claim and demanded that the ship be released. With- 
out actually affirming one or denying the other, the United 
States allowed the Appam to remain in German hands, enjoy- 
ing the same privileges as other interned ships. 

The Appam was a rich prize indeed. Having a registry of 
7,781 tons, she was a modern vessel throughout, having been em- 
ployed for several years in the trade between South Africa and 
England. She was worth $1,000,000 stripped, while her cargo 
sold for $700,000. The $250,000 in gold bars which subsequently 
went into the Berlin strong box also came from the Appam — a 
round $2,000,000. Altogether it was a very good day's work for 
the Moewe. 

Not till the Appam arrived in the Virginia harbor was it 
positively known that a raider had eluded the allied navies. The 
search that followed was conducted on a broader scale and with 
more minute care than any similar hunt of the war, but to no 
avail. On February 20, 1916, the Westburn, a British vessel of 
3,300 tons, put into Santa Cruz de Teneriffe, a Spanish port 
She, too, had a German captor aboard. One officer and six men 
brought in 206 prisoners from one Belgian and six British ships. 
Having landed all of those on board the German lieutenant in 
command asked for permission to anchor at a different point, 
and, this being granted, steamed beyond the three-mile limit, 
where the Westburn was blown up. Long use of sea water in 
her boilers caused the explosion, her commander said. He was 
arrested along with his half dozen men, then paroled. It was 
the fortune of war. Once more the Germans had won, the British 
lost 

Again word was passed that the Moewe must be found. The 
British public took her feats much to heart. They rivaled the 
finest accomplishments of British sailormen in the days when 



162 TOT STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

privateers went forth to destroy French commerce. But the 
Moewe never was caught. On the morning of March 5, 1916, she 
put into Wilhelmshaven with 4 officers, 29 marines and sailors, 
and 165 men of enemy crews as her prisoners. And the gold 
bars were secure in the captain's safe. 

Immediately a fervor of enthusiasm ran through Germany. 
The Moewe was back after a trip of many thousand miles, with 
prisoners and bullion aboard. She had sunk fifteen allied vessels — 
thirteen British, one Belgian, and one French — with an aggregate 
tonnage of nearly 60,000. This had been accomplished in the 
face of her enemies' combined sea power. The Moewe first sailed 
through the blockade and then came home again by the long way 
round. She skirted the whole of Iceland to reach Wilhelmshaven 
safely, making a perilous voyage into Arctic waters at the worst 
season of the year. All this and more the German papers re- 
counted with pardonable pride. It was said that Germany had 
flung the gauntlet in the British face and escaped unscathed. 

Count zu Dohna-Schlobitten had the honor paid him of a visit 
from the kaiser aboard his ship, where he received the Iron Cross. 
Wilhelm was much pleased, as may be imagined, and the example 
of the count was held up to the German navy as an illustration 
of what daring could achieve. 

The Moewe' s exploits evidently were part of a concerted plan. 
Whether the raider actually sunk all of the vessels accredited to 
her is a question that probably never will be answered. The 
evidence tends to show that it was Germany's aim to create a 
fleet of auxiliaries in the mid-Atlantic. It seems likely that the 
naval board in Berlin conceived the idea of having a number of 
their interned vessels break for the sea on a stated day and meet 
at a common rendezvous, or undertake raiding upon their own 
account. 

Whatever the plan, it was carried out in part. Two German 
liners escaped from South American ports on February 12, 1916, 
and never were heard from again, so far as the records go. They 
were the Bahrenfeld and the Turpitu As the identity of the 
Moewe already had been established and allied warships were 
scouring the seven seas for her, it appears plausible that the 



CRUISE OF THE MOEWE 163 

Bahrenfeld and Turpin both assumed the same title, and that 
one or other of the vessels was taken to be the original Moewe by 
persons on ships which they sunk. Or one or both may have 
been run down and the fact kept secret. 

The Bahrenfeld and Turpin commanders were wily men. They 
told the authorities at Buenos Aires, where the first named had 
sought asylum, and Puenta Arenas, Chile, where the second was 
interned, that the machinery of their ships was suffering from 
disuse, and requested permission for a day's run in the neigh- 
boring waters that the engines might have exercise. This was 
granted, and they quietly put to sea. That was the last seen of 
them by the South American folk. But the port officials at Rio 
de Janeiro were suspicious when the Asuncion tried the same 
ruse. As she began to edge beyond bounds a shot across her bow 
cut short the plan. 

Both the Bahrenfeld and the Turpin were built in England, 
the former having a registry of 2,357 tons, and the latter 3,301 
tons. 

The first day of the new year was marked by the explosion of 
the British armored cruiser Natal in an east-coast port. Three 
hundred men of a crew numbering 700 were killed, the others 
escaping because they had shore leave. Not a man on board 
lived to tell how the explosion came. It was one of a mysterious 
chain that had shaken even British nerves in the early days of the 
war when a half dozen warcraft were blown up in home ports. 
The explosions were, in every instance, extremely violent, liter- 
ally blowing the vessels to bits. Several of them were affirmed to 
have been accidental by the British admiralty, which rendered 
that verdict upon the Natal, but these official explanations never 
were convincing. 

The Natal, a vessel of 3,600 tons, had but recently returned 
from sea service and was in good condition throughout. The 
explosion that rent her apart came in the quiet of the evening 
when the men either were sleeping or preparing for supper. 
Suddenly there was a crash, and the Natal was no more. Such 
of her hull and superstructure as had not been scattered in every 
direction sank beneath the surface of the water. 



164 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Just nine days later the King Edward VII, a predreadnought 
of 16,500 tons, collided with a mine in the North Sea and soon 
foundered. She was a second-line ship of heavy battery and 
carried a crew of 777 men, all of whom were taken off before the 
big craft sunk. This was one of the few instances in which there 
was no loss of life from mine or torpedo explosions. The accident 
occurred at a time when the King Edward VII was accompanied 
by a number of other vessels, or most of the men aboard prob- 
ably would have been drowned. On a warship, even more than 
a passenger vessel, it is impossible to carry enough boats for all. 
The price of defeat in a naval action inevitably is death. For this 
reason there was general thanksgiving in England that the crew 
of the battleship had been saved, even though the ship was lost. 

During the month of January, 1916, three British sailing 
vessels and ten steamships were sunk by enemy warships, with 
a respective tonnage of 153 and 81,481. Four hundred and ten 
lives were lost. Three steamships struck mines and foundered 
in the same month, having a tonnage of 8,357. Two persons 
died in the trio of accidents. 

The Amircti Charner, an old but serviceable French armored 
cruiser of 4,680 tons, was torpedoed in the Mediterranean near 
Syria on February 8, 1916. She went down within a few 
minutes, although about a hundred men managed to reach the 
lifeboats and rafts. The weather was bitterly cold, and only one 
survivor lived to bring the news. He was picked up on a raft 
with fourteen dead companions and told an incoherent story that 
bore little relation to the truth. But it was only too easy to guess 
what had happened. 

During the early period of the war the French navy escaped 
the heavy blows that fell upon the British, partly because Ger- 
many concentrated on her larger antagonist's navy, and partly 
due to the fact that the British ships were nearly all engaged in 
the Atlantic, while the French confined themselves more espe- 
cially to the Mediterranean. With the opening of operations at 
the Dardanelles and the coming of German submarines the losses 
of the French sea forces began to grow rapidly. But they held 
the Mediterranean against all attacks. 



WAR ON MERCHANT SHIPPING 165 

The Arethusa, which torpedoed the Blilcher after she had been 
put out of action by the Lion in that famous fight, collided with 
a mine near the east coast of England on February 14, 1916. She 
went down with a loss of ten men, neighboring vessels doing 
notable rescue work. The Arethusa was a cruiser of 3,600 tons 
and had taken an active part in all of the work that fell to the 
British fleet. She was one of the pet ships of the navy, having 
a reputation for speed and luck that made her name familiar to 
readers the world over. A half dozen brushes with the enemy 
had found her well up in the fighting line, and she was said by 
sailormen to have a charmed existence, never having been hit. 
But she sunk quickly after striking the mine. The passing of 
so gallant a ship was one of the chief developments of the month 
in its naval history. 

The Peninsular and Oriental liner Maloja was blown up in the 
Channel on February 28, 1916, supposedly by a mine. The loss 
of life was large, 147 persons being drowned. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

CONTINUATION OF WAR ON MERCHANT 

SHIPPING — ITALIAN AND RUSSIAN 

NAVAL MOVEMENTS — SINKING 

OF LA PROVENCE 

THROUGHOUT the months of January and February, 1916 
while negotiations between Germany and the United States 
were in a critical stage, the submarine war on merchant shipping 
continued with little abatement Seeing that her armies could 
thwart the Allies' offensive efforts, but were unable to crush any 
one of the larger powers, Germany turned longing eyes to the 
sea. There was much talk of risking a major engagement. The 
kaiser's naval advisers worked feverishly with figures and plans. 
An echo of this scarce suppressed excitement crept into the Ger- 
man press, and was duly noted in London and Paris. 



166 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

One of the principal German journals came out with a frank 
discussion of the elements involved and the chances of success. 
It was said that three possibilities lay open. The first con* 
templated an attack upon the Allies' flank in Flanders, made from 
the sea, to coordinate with a drive on land. Another section of 
the fleet would try to hold off the British until the action was over 
or, failing that, combine forces with the first squadron and stake 
the Empire s fortune on the result of a general battle. 

The second plan provided for a dash to sea with the purpose 
of running the blockade and effecting a junction with the Aus- 
trians in the Mediterranean, to be followed by an attack upon 
the Suez Canal. A land attack was to take place at the same 
time. The third scheme called for minor raids on exposed points 
by the two fleets and relentless submarine activities. 

This estimate was not far short of the actual plans before the 
German naval authorities. Their realization of the pressing need 
for action, the tightening blockade, and the desperate possibilities 
of defeat, made them a trifle unwary. News was flashed abroad 
many times that revealed this state of mind. For instance, on 
February 20, 1916, it was announced that cooperative action at 
sea had been settled upon in accord with the proposals of Arch- 
duke Charles Stephen and Prince Henry of Prussia, the kaiser's 
brother. Such information, whether genuine or not, could only 
make the Allies redouble their watch. 

Early in February, 1916, it was established that 70,000 naval 
reservists had been gathered at Kiel and Helgoland ready for 
duty on auxiliary vessels and cruisers of newly-formed squad- 
rons. Many facts that pointed to Germany's resolution in the 
face of odds never reached America. The Ally censors kept 
Germany's secret well. But the whole world expected that a big 
engagement would be fought any day. The intervening hours, 
almost the minutes, might be counted. 

Then Germany changed her mind. She gave notice that after 
March 1, 1916, a new submarine campaign would be launched. 
Certain concessions were granted to the demands of the United 
States, but it was proposed to consider many vessels as warcraf t 
that other nations regarded as merchant ships. It was agreed 



WAR ON MERCHANT SHIPPING 



167 




tied Kaiser . 



KIEL CANAL 



168 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

that warning should be given passenger vessels unless they made 
an offensive move. This broad ruling gave Germany a free 
hand, at least from her own standpoint 

The new campaign was widely advertised, a succession of 
brusque threats and veiled insinuations leading up to a fine 
climax of publicity. The tactics were those of diplomacy and 
the drama, with the world for an audience. 

But the campaign failed to accomplish what had been claimed 
for it. The number of vessels lost did not materially increase, 
nor did allied shipping halt No matter what efforts Germany 
has made the ports of her enemies never have closed — have in 
reality been far busier than before the war. And the British 
navy's nets and traps, and her thousands of patrol boats made the 
submarine commanders' task ever more difficult. Within a few 
weeks after the latest German policy was in effect the Allies 
could again breathe easy. Casualties at sea continued, but there 
was no general destruction as had been promised. 

The principal achievement of Italy's navy in the war has been 
the protection of her coast line. Indisputably she has dominated 
the Adriatic, bottling up the Austrian fleet at Pola. Not a single 
engagement, worthy the name, has been fought in that narrow 
strip of water, only forty-five miles wide at its southern extrem- 
ity, ninety at the northern end and 110 at the widest point 
Across this limited space Italy has transported about 200,000 
troops, with the loss of but two transports, the Mart Chiaro and 
the Umberto, both of which were small. A good part of the 
Serbian and Montenegrin armies were carried to places where 
they might recuperate, and a considerable force of her own 
troops landed on the coast of Albania. This was accomplished 
in defiance of Austria's numerous submarines, which never have 
achieved anything like the success of the German undersea craft 

After Italy's entrance into the war Austrian squadrons of 
light cruisers and destroyers shelled several coast cities. But 
these attacks soon ceased and all of the 500 miles of Italy's 
Adriatic shore, dented as it is with small harbors and flanked by 
many islands, has been strangely immune from enemy depreda- 
tions. This is a tribute to the Italian navy that cannot be easily 



WAR ON MERCHANT SHIPPING 169 

explained. The Italian censorship, stricter than that of any other 
belligerent power, has let through almost nothing about her naval 
activities. The Austrians simply have refused to fight, pre- 
ferring to keep their warcraf t safe in the harbor at Pola rather 
than risk the fortune of battle. 

During the period under review in this volume the Italians 
lay and waited for their foe as they had done for weary months. 
Nothing happened. A few merchant ships, sailing vessels for the 
most part, were torpedoed, but there was no attempt by the Aus- 
trians to sink enemy warships. Italy kept up her vigil and the 
Austrians dozed in their strong harbor at Pola. 

When Bulgaria cast her lot with Germany the Russian Black 
Sea fleet shelled Dedeagatch and other Bulgarian coast cities, 
damaging fortifications, destroying shipping in the harbors and 
causing a few casualties among troops and citizens. These 
demonstrations were taken to herald a landing of soldiers on the 
Bulgar coast, but this expected event never developed. Russia, 
having abundant troubles in other quarters, has been in no posi- 
tion to undertake an invasion of her newest foe's territory. 

While allied vessels were pounding the forts at the Dardanelles 
it was reported several times that the Russians would cooperate 
in a grand assault, endeavoring to reduce the Black Sea defenses 
of the Ottoman capital. The fortifications there were shelled a 
few times and various cities on the Asiatic shore of the Turks 
have been bombarded. But all of this work was desultory, having 
no special purpose and accomplishing little. Turkish shipping 
was driven from the Black Sea in the early days of the war, al- 
though a few transports and supply vessels have made the 
hazardous trip to Trebizond and other Turkish ports. The Rus- 
sian fleet has taken heavy toll among such craft and to all pur- 
poses pinned the Turk to his side of the sea, while enjoying all 
of its privileges. 

The successful operations of the Russian Caucasian army in 
the first months of 1916 and the movement down the Black Sea 
coast was aided by the fleet, which brought supplies across the sea 
to newly won points and prepared the way for an attack upon 
Trebizond. That city is of considerable importance, being a mili- 



170 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

tary base and having a number of industries. It was a busy port 
before the war began and would be a valuable rallying point for 
future operations against Constantinople. All signs indicated a 
Russian offensive with Trebizond as its immediate objective. 
The harbor's fortifications already had been damaged by the 
Russian fire, and the fleet undoubtedly could cooperate in any 
attack upon the city. 

The Turkish navy, like the Austrian, kept to home waters. 
Scarcely a month passed that engagements were not reported 
between the Goeben and Breslau with vessels of the enemy. 
Many of these were circumstantial, one of which recounted a 
long range fight between the Goeben and Russian warships, in 
which the Goeben was said to have been severely damaged. Ac- 
cording to subsequent reports a great hole in her hull was patched 
with cement, armor plate being unavailable in Constantinople. 

Losses inflicted upon British shipping up to the end of Feb- 
ruary, 1916, were slightly under 4 per cent of the vessels flying 
the British flag, and a shade more than 6 per cent in point of 
tonnage. The loss of the other Allies, on a basis of tonnage, 
was as follows : France, 7 per cent; Russia, 5 per cent; and Italy, 
4% per cent. 

How heavy the hand of war has fallen upon neutrals may be 
judged from a comparison of sea casualties. Italy lost twenty- 
one steamers with a gross tonnage of 70,000 in the period before 
the reader, while Norway, a neutral, lost fifty steamers having 
an aggregate tonnage of 96,000, more than 25 per cent larger. 
Total allied shipping losses numbered 481 steamships having a 
tonnage of 1,621,000, and fifty-seven sailing vessels, with a ton- 
nage of 47,000. One hundred and forty-six neutral craft were 
junk, whose tonnage reached 293,375, while sailing vessels to the 
iiumber of forty-two, with a tonnage of 24,001, were lost. Ger- 
many's methods cost innocent bystanders among the nations al- 
most one-fifth of the damage done to her foes' commercial fleets. 

Inclusive of trawlers, 980 merchant craft had been sunk by the 
end of February, of which 726 were vessels of good size. It was 
destruction upon a scale never seen before, an economic pressure 
that made former wars seem mere tournaments. And Germany's 



WAR ON MERCHANT SHIPPING 171 

most desperate attempts failed to accomplish her end — the 
halting of allied commerce. Although it was mathematically 
certain that a percentage of the ships sailing every day would be 
torpedoed, the world's trade went on in the usual channels. 

There was a brighter side to the situation. "After more than 
a year of war," says a British admiralty statement, "the steam 
shipping of Great Britain increased eighty-eight vessels and 844,- 
000 tons. France at the end of 1915 was only short nine steamers 
and 12,500 tons of the previous year's total. Italy and Russia 
both show an increase in tonnage. 

"It is therefore clear that the shortage of tonnage is due not 
to the action of submarines, but to the great requirements of the 
military and naval forces. The latest published statement of 
these show that they are demanding 3,100 vessels." 

Another turn was given to the controversy over sea laws dur- 
ing the first quarter of 1916 by the arming of many British and 
a considerable proportion of Italian passenger vessels. Earlier 
in the war a few British ships came into New York harbor with 
guns aboard, but they were forced to abandon the plan because 
of American protests. The second attempt was different and 
so were the circumstances. Germany had shown a disregard for 
the helplessness of passenger craft that did not permit of forcible 
objection to the adoption of defensive methods by such vessels. The 
Italians, in particular, displayed a resolute spirit Diplomatic 
hints had no weight at Rome and one after another the Italian 
liners came into New York with trim three-inch pieces fore and 
aft They had a most suggestive look and were manned by crews 
trained in the navy. Not since the days of open piracy had armed 
merchant ships been seen in American waters. Their presence 
recalled the time when every ship that sailed was prepared to 
fight or run as necessity might dictate. 

Germany flatly refused to consider merchantmen with guns 
aboard as anything but warships, and gave notice that she would 
sink them without warning. Once more the relations of Ger- 
many and the United States reached a point that bordered on an 
•pen break. Although this never quite happened, the United 
States temporising and the kaiser's agents granting just enough 



172 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

to prevent a rupture, the situation was exceedingly delicate. 
American contentions ultimately were met by the promise that 
armed craft would not be attacked unless they made an offensive 
move. This left things as they had been before. There was no 
world court to decide what an offensive move meant, nor to en- 
force a decision. 

The White Star line announced in the closing week of Feb- 
ruary, 1916, that passenger service between the United States 
and England would be discontinued until further notice. This 
meant that all of the company's ships had been requisitioned for 
the carrying of munitions. It betokened a more intensive prep- 
aration for the prosecution of the war by England and her 
Allies. It also pointed to the swelling tide of supplies flowing 
from America. 

France was to sustain the supreme affliction of the war at sea 
on February 26, 1916. La Provence was sunk that day. She had 
sailed from Marseilles with 3,500 soldiers and a crew of 500 
men, bound for SalonikL A torpedo sent her to the bottom, 
along with 3,300 of those on board, representing the greatest 
tragedy of the sea in history. The attack took place in the Medi- 
terranean and the big liner plunged beneath the waves in less 
than fifteen minutes after she had been struck. 

Few vessels enjoyed such fame as the La Provence. Built in 
1905, she broke the transatlantic record on her first trip across, 
defeating the new Deutschland of the Hamburg-American line 
in a spectacular dash that brought her from Havre to New York 
hours ahead of the best previous record. With a registry of 19,- 
000 tons and engines generating 30,000 horsepower she was a 
ship of exceptional grace. Not until the Lvmtania came into 
service did the La Provence surrender her distinction of being 
the fastest vessel afloat, and strangely enough both she and the 
Lueitania were to fall victims of German submarines. 

When the torpedo that cost so many lives exploded within 
the hull of the La Provence, killing a good part of the engine- 
room crew, it was seen that only a few of her large company 
could escape. Lifeboats, rafts, and the makeshift straws to 
safely that could be seized upon in emergency accommodated a 



WAR ON MERCHANT SHIPPING 178 

bare 700 and odd men. The troops gathered on the upper decks 
and sang the "Marseillaise" as the great hull settled in the water. 
Officers embraced their men, some indulged in a last whiff of 
tobacco, others prayed for the folks at home. Commandant 
Vesco stood on the bridge and directed the launching of the few 
boats that got away. Then, as the vessel came even with the 
waves, he tossed his cap overboard and cried : "Adieu, my boys." 
As one man they answered : 
"Vive la France/' 



PART V— THE WAR ON THE EASTERN 

FRONT 



CHAPTER XIX 

SUMMARY OF FIRST YEAR'S OPERATIONS 

AFTER the last days of that fateful July, 1914, had passed, 
-bringing mobilization in Austria-Hungary, Serbia, and 
Russia, and the outbreak of war between the former two coun- 
tries, the dance of death was on. On August 1, 1914, Germany 
ordered the general mobilization of its armies, and on the same 
day declared war against Russia. Within a few days the first 
Russian advance into East Prussia began under the leadership 
of Grand Duke Nicholas, who, by a special order of the czar, had 
been made commander in chief of all Russian forces on August 3, 
1914. Germany, fully occupied with its advance into Belgium 
and France, offered hardly any resistance, and its forces, con- 
sisting almost exclusively of the few army corps permanently 
stationed along its eastern border and reenforced only by local 
reserves, advanced only in a few places, and there only for short 
distances, into Russian territory. 

On August 5, 1914, Austria-Hungary, too, declared war against 
Russia, and the next day brought immediately engagements 
along the frontier of the two countries, which, however, did not 
develop seriously for some time. The Russian advance into 
East Prussia had reached Marggrabova by the 15th, and from 
then on proceeded fairly rapidly during the following week. 
Memel, Tilsit, Insterburg, Kdnigsberg, and Allenstein — to name 
only a few of the more important cities of East Prussia — were 
either threatened with occupation by the Russian forces or had 

174 



SUMMARY OP FIRST YEAR'S OPERATIONS 175 

actually been occupied by them. The entire Mazurian Lake dis- 
trict in the southeast of the Prusso-Russian border region was 
overrun with Russian troops. But about August 22, 1914, Ger- 
many awoke to the danger of the Russian invasion. General 
von Hindenburg was put in command in the east, and in the 
battle of Tannenberg, which lasted from August 22 to 27, 1914, 
inflicted a disastrous defeat on the Russian armies, capturing 
tens of thousands of its soldiers and driving as many more to 
their deaths in the swamp lands of the Mazurian Lakes. Not 
only did this end for the time the Russian invasion of Germany, 
but the latter country's armies followed the retreating enemy a 
considerable distance into his own territory. 

But although such important points as Lodz and Radomsk 
were occupied during the last days of August and the first days 
of September, the German advance into South Poland quickly 
collapsed- In the meantime the Russians had successfully in- 
vaded Galicia, and by September 3, 1914, the Austro-Hungarians 
evacuated Lemberg. In the north, too, the Russian forces had 
resumed the offensive and once more were invading East Prussia. 
But they were again beaten back by Von Hindenburg on Sep- 
tember 10-11, 1914, and, four days later, on September 15, 1914, 
suffered another serious defeat in the Mazurian Lakes. The 
Galician invasion, however, was meeting with great success. By 
September 16, 1914, the important Austrian fortress of 
Przemysl — sixty miles west of Lemberg — had been reached and 
its siege begun. By September 26, 1914, the Russians had 
reached the Carpathian Mountains and were flooding the fertile 
plains of the Bukowina, threatening an imminent invasion of 
Hungary itself. 

The first week of October, 1914, brought a third invasion of 
East Prussia which, however, did not extend as far as the two 
preceding it, and which was partly repulsed before October was 
ended. In the meantime Austria had called upon Germany for 
immediate help in Galicia, and by October 2, 1914, strong Ger- 
man-Austrian forces had entered Poland in order to reduce the 
Russian pressure on Galicia, reaching the Upper Vistula on 
October 11, 1914, and advancing against Poland's capital, War- 

L— War St 4 



176 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

saw. On the same day the siege of Przemysl was lifted, after a 
Russian attempt to take it by storm had been successfully beaten 
off a few days earlier. Throughout the balance of October, 1914, 
the heaviest kind of fighting took place in Galicia and the 
Bukowina. In the latter district the Austro-Hungarian troops 
were successful, and on October 22, 1914, reoccupied Czernovitz 
in the northeastern part of the province. 

By November 7, 1914, the Russians were back again in East 
Prussia, but encountered determined resistance and suffered a 
series of defeats. However, although they were repulsed in 
many places, they succeeded in retaining a foothold in many 
ethers. At the same time very strong Russian forces had ad- 
vanced from Novo Georgievsk across the Vistula toward the 
Prussian provinces of Posen and Silesia. In the face of these 
the Austro-Hungarian-German forces immediately gave up their 
attempted advance against Warsaw and retreated beyond their 
own borders into Upper Silesia and West Galicia. By the middle 
of November an extensive Russian offensive was under way 
along the entire front Nowhere, however, did it meet with 
anything but passing success. In East Prussia and in North 
Poland the Germans won battle after battle and steadily ad- 
vanced against Lodz. About November 22, 1914, it looked as if 
the tide was going to turn in favor of the Russian arms. One 
German army group seemed completely surrounded to the north- 
east of Lodz. But, although losing a large part of its effective- 
ness, it managed to break through the Russian ring and to con- 
nect again with the other German forces by November 26, 1914. 
At the same time heavy fighting occurred around Cracow and in 
the Bukowina where the Russians again occupied Czernovitz on 
November 27, 1914. 

Lodz fell on December 0, 1914. On the 7th the Russians were 
again repulsed in the Mazurian Lakes region. Throughout that 
month and January, 1915, very severe fighting took place in the 
Carpathian Mountains, and by the end of January, 1915, the 
Austro-Hungarian forces were in possession of all the passes, 
but had not been able to drive the Russians from the north side 
of the mountains. In the meanwhile the Russians were pressing 



SUMMARY OF FIRST YEAR'S OPERATIONS 177 

their attacks against East Prussia with renewed vigor and 
greatly augmented forces, and by February 7, 1915, had again 
advanced to the Mazurian Lakes. In a battle lasting nine days, 
Von Hindenburg once more defeated the Russian army and drove 
it back into North Poland, inflicting very heavy losses. At the 
end of another week, February 24, 1915, the Russians had been 
driven out of the Bukowina. 

Von Hindenburg had followed up his new success at the 
Mazurian Lakes with a drive into North Poland, undoubtedly 
with the object of invading Courland. Hardly had it gotten under 
way when the Galician fortress of Przemysl was forced to sur- 
render on March 22, 1915. This not only gained for the Russians 
a large booty in prisoners, munitions, and equipment, but also 
released the great army that had been besieging the fortress. It 
was thrown immediately against the Austro-Hungarian forces 
in Galicia, who were driven back again rapidly into the Car- 
pathian Mountains. Again Austria appealed to Germany for 
help. General von Mackensen was sent to the rescue with an 
army made up largely from troops taken from Von Hindenburg's 
forces. Thereby the latter again was forced to stop further 
operations in the north. Von Mackensen's combined Austro- 
Hungarian-German armies had an immense supply of guns and 
munitions, both of which were beginning to run short in the 
Russian army. With these they blasted away Russian line after 
line, driving the Russians finally almost completely out of Galicia, 
after retaking Przemysl on June S, 1915, and Lemberg on June 
24, 1915. 

In the north, in the meantime, the Germans had received re* 
enforcements filling the gap that Von Mackensen's Galician 
operations had caused. With these they invaded Courland while 
other forces landed on the Gulf of Riga. With these two groups 
they pushed south and soon connected with Von Hindenburg's 
army before Novo Georgievsk and Warsaw. The latter had been 
there practically ever since early in January, 1915, when after 
the fall of Lodz it had gradually advanced against Poland's 
capital, but was held within seven miles of it along the Bzura 
and Rawka Rivers, where many bloody engagements were fought. 



178 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

At the same time that these two groups formed a junction Von 
Mackensen tame up with his forces from the south, taking 
Zamost and Lublin and investing Ivangorod. Immediately the 
drive for Warsaw began from all sides. Pultusk, on the Nareff, 
fell on July 25, 1915, and on July 30, 1915, the Russians began 
the evacuation of Warsaw and retreated toward a very strongly 
fortified line that had been prepared and ran from Kovno south 
through Grodno and Brest-Litovsk. 



CHAPTER XX 



TBI FALL OF TH1 KI1MBN AND 
NABIFF FOBTR1S8BS 

THE 5th of August, 1915, was a fateful day for the Russian 
armies. The fall of Warsaw, on that date, was confirmed by 
the occupation of Poland's ancient capital by German forces 
under the command of Prince Leopold of Bavaria, brother of 
King Ludwig III of Bavaria and son-in-law of Emperor Francis 
Joseph of Austria-Hungary. This in itself would have been a 
severe setback to the Russian arms. But the consequences which 
this event was bound to have were of even greater importance. 
In an earlier part of this work we heard at some length of 
the arrangement of Russia's girdle of fortresses which — to 
repeat only the most important — stretched from Kovno in the 
north through Oliha, Grodno, Ossovetz, Lomza, Osholenka, and 
Novo Georgievsk to powerful Warsaw and from there to the 
south and east to Ivangorod and Brest-Litovsk. These perma- 
nent fortifications were supported by strong natural barriers or 
obstacles in the form of rivers. The Niemen, Bobr, Nareff, 
Vistula and Bug, with their interminable windings, made more 
difficult to cross in some places by extensive swamp lands, had, 
together with the fortified places, offered ideal means for strong 
defense. Again and again, throughout the first thirteen months 
of the war, German and Austrian froops had driven the Russian 



THE FALL OF NIEMEN AND NAREFF 179 

forces back to these defensive lines — but no farther. Behind 
this shelter the Russians were able to recuperate from the 
severest reverses and, thanks to a very extensive and compara- 
tively scientific network of railways, reserves and reenforce- 
ments could be brought up from interior points until armies 
which apparently had been beaten to a standstill emerged again, 
stronger than ever in number and equipment, to undertake a 
new offensive against the German masses. 

Just previous to the fall of Warsaw the eastern front, roughly 
speaking, was formed by the two sides of an equilateral triangle, 
with the northern side starting from a point on the Gulf of 
Riga, about forty miles northwest of Riga, and with the southern 
side starting from Chotin on the River Dniester in Russian 
Bessarabia, very close to the point where that Russian province 
touches Rumania and Galicia. The apex was at Warsaw. When 
this apex caved in with the withdrawal of the Russians, it fol- 
lowed logically that something had to happen to the two lines 
that met there. That the Russians retreated from Warsaw on 
account of some insurmountable difficulties which made the 
further holding of this most important center impossible, is 
quite clear. It has been established by now, almost beyond all 
doubt, that this step became necessary because of insufficient 
munitions. But whether this is so or not, it still remained true 
that whatever caused their retreat from Warsaw would exert a 
similar influence on their capacity to hold their second line of 
permanent fortifications. And events immediately following the 
fall of Warsaw proved this contention. Backward and back* 
ward fell the Russian lines during the following weeks until by 
the end of October, 1915, the two sides of the erstwhile triangle 
had disappeared entirely, and the Russian front was found now 
along the base of the triangle stretching from Riga through 
Friedrichstadt, through a point somewhat west of Dvinsk, thence 
almost due south, skirting Pinsk slightly to the east, and again 
running south in front of Rovno, entering Galicia at a point 
about halfway between Zlochoff and Tarnopol, and following, 
slightly to the west, the River Sereth to a point on the Dniester 
only a few miles west from where it had ended in August, 1915. 



180 THE STOBY OF THE GREAT WAR 

How immense a loss this involved for the Russians can be 
easily seen by a glance at a map. The territory that fell into 
German hands exceeded 60,000 square miles, with millions of 
inhabitants, containing some of the most valuable railway lines 
from a strategic point of view, and including besides Warsaw 
such important places as Mitau, Kovno, Vilna, Grodno, Bialystok, 
Brest-Ldtovsk, Ivangorod, Cholm, Kovel, Pinsk. Though the 
Russians destroyed many of the railways, drove off men and 
cattle alike, and moved vast quantities of supplies, equipment, 
and valuables of all kinds, the time and the facilities at their 
disposal were so insufficient that the victorious German armies 
were bound to find still untold quantities of all these. The out- 
break of winter, it is true, finally halted the German advance, 
the force of which gradually would have spent itself anyhow on 
account of the ever-lengthening lines of communication with its 
bases. In spite of this, however, it is next to miraculous that 
the Russians were at all able to form a new line and to withdraw 
beyond this line, after all, the largest part of their forces. This 
accomplishment was only a renewed proof of the remarkable 
ability of the Russian leaders at least along one line — the orderly 
withdrawal of immense masses. It also showed once more the 
wonderful resiliency of the Russian armies and the immense 
advantages which are to be derived from a practically inexhaust- 
ible supply of men. 

Almost as remarkable as the compactness and efficiency of 
the Russian retreat was the swiftness and insistency of the 
German advance. Throughout the German offensive leading up 
to and following the fall of Warsaw the German armies in the 
north and center of the eastern front cooperated closely with 
the Austrian forces in the south. This must be borne in mind 
as well as the fact that for this entire campaign the General 
Staffs of the Central Powers had conceived one plan, according 
to which all their armies proceeded. This frequently neces- 
sitated the halting of the advance on one or more points in order 
to enable some other army at some other point to overcome 
obstacles which had proved more difficult Considering the 
immense extent of the eastern front — which from considerably 



THE PALL OF NIEMEN AND NAREPF 181 

over 700 miles at the beginning of August, 1915, gradually 
shortened to about 600 miles by the end of October, 1915 — it is 
little short of marvelous that the German-Austrian offensive 
should at no time have lost its cohesion. In order to get a 
clearer perspective of the somewhat complicated operations of 
a large number of separate army units, we will divide the entire 
eastern front into three sections and follow separately the 
operations of each. 

In the north — from the Gulf of Riga to Novo Georgievsk — 
Field Marshal von Hindenburg was in command. Under him 
there were four armies, each under a German general: that 
under Von Billow in the extreme north; that under Von Eich- 
horn to the south of the former and facing the Niemen River 
and the fortress of Kovno; the two other armies under Von 
Scholtz and Von Gallwitz — the latter the farthest south— were 
to attack the Nareff-Bobr line between Novo Georgievsk and 
Lomza. 

The central group was under the command of Field Marshal 
Prince Leopold of Bavaria and was reenf orced by another army 
under General von Woyrsch, which previous to the fall of War- 
saw had been fighting' more independently somewhat to the 
south and, a day before the fall of Warsaw, had forced the 
strong fortress of Ivangorod on August 4, 19J5. 

The southern group was originally exclusively Austro-Hun- 
garian. But during the early summer of 1915 a German army 
under General von Mackensen had been sent into Galicia to 
cooperate with the Austrian forces in freeing Przemysl and 
Lemberg after they had assisted in throwing back the left wing 
of the Russian forces then fighting in Galicia and in forcing 
them to relinquish their hold on the mountain passes of the 
Carpathians. This problem having been solved, these mixed 
Austro-Hungarian-German forces were rearranged and reen- 
f orced, and, under the command of Von Mackensen, were to at- 
tack the retreating Russians around Brest-Litovsk. The left 
wing of this group was under the command of Archduke Joseph 
Ferdinand. To the southeast of this entire group was another 
army under the Austrian General Pflanzer-Baltin, which in the 



182 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

early summer (1915) had driven the Russians out of the 
Bukowina. 

On August 8, 1915, the attack on Kovno was begun. At the 
same time the German forces advanced against Lomza and still 
farther south advanced nearer and nearer to the Warsaw- 
BialystokrVilna-Petrograd railroad, their main objective for 
the present. All these advances found serious opposition at the 
hands of the Russians, who successfully attempted to hold up 
the enemy everywhere in order to insure the safety of their 
retreating armies. On August 10, 1915, the Russians attempted 
an unsuccessful sortie from Kovno. Farther south, as far as 
Lomza, the Russian forces continued their retreat, fighting con- 
tinuous rear-guard actions for the purpose of delaying the hard- 
pressing enemy, who, however, gradually came closer and closer 
to the Nareff-Bobr line. Of course the losses on both sides 
throughout this continuous fighting were severe. The Russians 
lost thousands of men by capture, for although they succeeded 
in withdrawing, practically intact, the principal parts of their 
armies before the Germans could come up in strong enough 
numbers to risk attacks, smaller detachments here and there 
lost contact with the main body and fell in the hands of the 
Germans and Austrians, so that there passed hardly a day when 
the official reports did not contain some claims about a few thou- 
sand men having been captured. 

South of the Niemen the Russians attacked Von Eichhorn's 
army along the Dvina River, but were thrown back with severe 
losses. On August 11, 1915, Von Scholtz's group occupied the 
bridgehead at Vilna, which had been stubbornly defended until 
the Russian retreat had progressed far enough to make its fur- 
ther possession unessential. The same forces succeeded in 
crossing the Gac River, south of the Nareff, capturing during 
three days' fighting almost 5,000 men. Von Gallwitz with his 
army stormed on the same day Zambroff and then pressed on 
through Andrzejow toward the east South of the Nareff, 
toward the Bug and Brest-Idtovsk, the fighting continued 
throughout the following days. Wherever possible the Russians 
resisted, and every little stream was wed by them to its utmost 



THE FALL OF NIEMEN AND NAREFF 188 

possibilities in delaying the advance of the enemy. On August 
18, 1915, a strongly fortified position in the Forest of Domini- 
kanka fell into German hands. On the same day an outlying 
fortified position north of Novo Georgievsk had to surrender and 
other forces fighting between the Nareff and Bug reached the 
Slina and Nurzets Rivers. The latter was crossed late on August 
15, 1915, after the most severe kind of fighting. 

Kovno's garrison attempted on that day another unsuccessful 
sortie, resulting in the capture of 100 men and in slight gains 
on the part of the besieging forces. The latter success was also 
repeated before Novo Georgievsk. By this time the general 
retreat, and the ever-increasing pressure on the part of the 
advancing enemy made itself felt even in the most northern part 
•f the Russian line. There, as well as in the farthest south of 
the line, the least changes took place. But on August 15, 1915, 
German troops attacked the Russians near Eupishky, at the 
point where the original Russian front turned toward the south- 
west, and threw them back successfully in a northeasterly direc- 
tion, capturing at the same time some 2,000 officers and men. 

August 17, 1915, marks the beginning of the end for Kovno 
and Novo Georgievsk. On that day both of these fortresses lost 
some of their outlying forts, and before Kovno alone 4,500 Rus- 
sians and over 200 guns fell into the hands of the Germans. 
During the night of August 18, 1915, Kovno fell, after having 
been defended most valiantly against the ever-repeated attacks 
«n the part of the Germans under General von Eichhorn. It was 
me of the strongest Russian fortresses, with eleven outlying 
forts on both sides of the Niemen, commanding this river at the 
point where it turns from its northerly course toward the west 
and defending the approach to Vilna from the west. Over 400 
guns and vast quantities of supplies and equipment as well as 
about 4,000 officers and men made up the booty. On the same 
day additional forts of Novo Georgievsk fell, although the 
fortress itself still held out. The fall of Kovno, expected and 
discounted as it undoubtedly was by the Russians, was a serious 
blow. It now became absolutely necessary to withdraw all their 
forces in that sector beyond the Niemen, in order to avoid their 



184 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

being cut off by German columns advancing from Kovno to the 
south along the east bank of the Niemen. This need found 
expression in the immediate withdrawal of the Russians from 
the line Kalvarya-Suvalki. For the Germans an additional 
advantage arose in their ability to establish contact between 
Von Hindenburg's forces in Poland and Von Billow's army in 
Courland and thereby remove all possibility of having the tatter's 
right wing enveloped. 

As if the fall of Kovno had given a new impetus to the 
Germans, their attacks on Novo Georgievsk were now renewed 
with redoubled vigor. On August 20, 1915, this last of the 
important strongholds of the Niemen-Nareff-Vistula line fell, 
although the less important fortresses of Olita, Grodno, and 
Ossovetz were still in Russian hands. There, too, large numbers 
of men and guns and immense amounts of equipment and sup- 
plies were the rewards of the victor. It is said that the total 
number of men taken before and in Novo Georgievsk aggregated 
85,000, while the number of guns exceeded 700. While the town 
was still burning from the final bombardment — in which some 
of the famous Austrian mortars of heavy caliber participated — 
the German Emperor, accompanied by Field Marshal von 
Hindenburg, General von Falkenhayn, Chief of the German Gen- 
eral Staff, General von Beseler and many other high officers, 
entered this latest conquest of his victorious armies, over which 
he later held a review. 

The continued retreat of the Russian army and the menacing 
and ever-increasing pressure of the advancing Germans, of 
course, could have only one result on the fate of the few posi- 
tions which were still held by the Russians by now west of the 
Vilna-Grodno-Bialystok line. Unless they were willing to risk 
the loss of large numbers of troops by having their lines of 
retreat cut off, it became necessary to withdraw as many as 
their means of transportation and their efforts to delay the 
Germans permitted. As a result the fortified town of Ossoveta 
on the Bobr was evacuated and occupied by the Germans on 
August 28, 1915. A few miles south, beyond the Nareff, Tykotsyn 
suffered the same fate. In the latter instance the Russians lost 



THE CONQUEST OP GRODNO AND VILNA 185 

ever 1,200 men and 70 machine guns. Still farther south, near 
Biebk, Russian resistance was not any more successful. East 
of Kovno the German advance was not as successful; at least 
the Russians were able in that region to delay the enemy to a 
greater extent, although the delay had to be bought dearly. But 
eonsidering the short distance at which Viha was located and 
the great importance of that city as a railroad center for the 
safe withdrawal of the Russian main forces, any effort that 
promised success was well worth even heavy losses. Through- 
out the following days the forces of the northern group pressed 
on relentlessly to the east and south, delayed here and there, 
but succeeding in forcing back the Russian troops step by step. 



CHAPTER XXI 

THE CONQUEST OF GKODNO AND VILNA 

WITH the fall of Olita, Bialystok, and Brest-Litovsk, which 
took place on August 25-26, 1915, and is described in more 
detail in another chapter, the northern group under Von Hinden- 
burg immediately increased its activities. In Courland, south of 
Mitau, near Bausk, heavy fighting took place, and the Russian 
fines, which had held their own throughout the entire retreat of 
. the Russian armies in Poland, began to give way. At one other 
point the Russians had fought back inevitable retreat with special 
stubbornness, and that was due west of Grodno, in the neighbor- 
hood of Augustovo, which had seen such desperate lighting dur- 
ing and following the Russian invasion of East Prussia. But 
there, too, now the Germans began to make headway and were 
advancing against the Niemen and the last Russian stronghold 
on it, Grodno. 

At about the same time that considerable activity developed 
at the utmost southern end of the line in eastern Galicia, opera- 
tions of equal extent and of great importance took place at the 
extreme northern end, in the vicinity of Riga. On August 30, 



186 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

1915, parts of Von Hindenburg's northern group, under Genera* 
von Beseler, reached positions south of Friedrichstadt on the 
Dvina. Other troops under General von Eichhorn advanced to 
the northeast of Olita in the direction of Vilna, while still other 
forces farther south stormed the city of Lipsk, less than twenty 
miles west of Grodno, after having forced a crossing over the 
Vidra River, a tributary of the Sukelka. The fighting around 
Friedrichstadt continued throughout the last days of August, 
1915. To the south of the Niemen the advance against the 
Grodno-Vilna railway continued without cessation. Whatever 
troops were not engaged in pursuing the retreating Russian 
forces were now being concentrated on the approaching attack 
against the last Russian fortress in Poland — Grodno. To the 
south of it, by August SI, 1915, they had reached Kuznitsa, on 
the Bialystok-Grodno railway. The investment of Grodno may 
be said to have begun with that day. It was then that the first 
reports came that heavy artillery had been brought up by the 
Germans and was throwing its devastating shells into the fort- 
ress from the western front Little hope was left to the Rus- 
sians for a successful resistance. For whenever these heavy 
guns had been brought into play before, they had blasted their 
way to the desired goal, no matter how strong or modern had 
been the defenses of steel and cement. 

For the withdrawal of the Russians from Grodno there were 
available two railroads, one running north to Vilna and another 
running at first southeast to Mosty, and there dividing into two 
branches by both of which finally in a roundabout way either 
Minsk or Kieff could be reached. The Germans, of course, were 
eager to cut off these lines of retreat. The latter road was 
threatened by the forces approaching Grodno from the south. 
Before they reached it, however, troops from Von Hindenburg's 
group on September 1, 1915, cut the Grodno-Vilna railroad at 
Czarnoko. On the same day some of the western outer forts of 
Grodno fell, Fort No.- 4 being stormed by North German 
Landwehr regiments and Fort No. 4a by other troops from 
Baden. In both cases the Russians resisted valiantly, with 
numerically so inferior garrisons that the Germans could report 



THE CONQUEST OF GRODNO AND VILNA 187 

the capture of only 660 Russians. After the fall of these two 
fortified works the balance of the advanced western forts of 
Grodno were evacuated by the Russians. This, indeed, was the 
beginning of the end for the last great Russian fortress. On 
September 2, 1915, Grodno was taken by Von Hindenburg's army 
after a crossing over the Niemen had been forced. The Rus- 
sians, however, again had managed to escape with their armies. 
Hie entire lack in the official German announcement of any 
reference to the Russian garrison of Grodno suggests that 
there was no garrison left by the time the Germans took the 
fortress. In spite of this fact, however, the Germans of course 
continued to capture Russians in fairly large quantities for, 
naturally, numerous detachments lost contact with the main 
body during the retreat 

With the fall of Grodno the next objective of the German 
troops became Vilna. Indeed, on the very day of Grodno's occu- 
pation, German cavalry reached the northwest and western 
region immediately adjoining Vilna, in spite of the most deter- 
mined Russian resistance. These, of course, were troops that 
had not participated in the drive against Grodno, but during that 
time had been fighting the Russians farther to the north, and now 
that Grodno was no longer to be feared, started a drive of their 
own against Vilna. Vilna is second in importance among Polish 
cities only to Warsaw itself. By September 8, 1915, detach- 
ments of General von Eichhorn's army had reached Troki, hardly 
more than ten miles west of Vilna. 

The Russian front had now been pushed back everywhere over 
a wide extent, which varied from about twenty miles in the 
extreme southeast and about fifty miles in the regions east of 
Grodno and Kovno, and to the north of this territory to almost 
200 miles in the center east of Warsaw and Brest-Iitovsk. Of 
the great Russian fortresses of the first and second line, built as a 
protection against German and Austro-Hungarian advances, none 
remained in the hands of the Russians. It was true that the 
main body of the Russian armies had succeeded in extricating 
itself from this disaster and withdrawing to the east to form 
there a new line. But it was also true that this retreat of the 



18* THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Russian army had cost dearly in men, material, and, last but not 
least, temporarily, the morale of the troops themselves. For a 
considerable period of time during the retreat rumors were 
heard of changes in the leadership of the Russian armies. These 
rumors gained strength when it was announced that General 
Soukhomlinoff had resigned as minister of war and that some of 
the commanding generals of the different individual army groups 
had been replaced by others. In view of these changes it did not 
come as a surprise when on September 7, 1915, it was announced 
that the czar himself had taken over the supreme command of 
All his armies, which up to that time had been from the beginning 
of the war in the hands of his uncle, Grand Duke Nicholas. 

The announcement reached the outside world first in the form 
of the following telegram from the czar to President Poincarg of 
France: 

"In placing myself to-day at the head of my valiant armies I 
have in my heart, M. President, the most sincere wishes for the 
greatness of France and the victory of her glorious army. 

"Nicholas." 

This was followed on September 8, 1915, by the publication of 
the official communication by which the czar relieved the grand 
duke from his command and appointed him viceroy of the 
Caucasus and commander in chief of the Russian army in the 
Caucasus. It read as follows: 

"At the beginning of the war I was unavoidably prevented 
from following the inclination of my soul to put myself at the 
head of the army. That was why I intrusted you with the com- 
mandership in chief of all the land and sea forces. 

"Under the eyes of all Russia Your Imperial Highness has given 
proof during the war of a steadfast bravery which has caused a 
feeling of profound confidence and called forth the sincere good 
wishes of all who followed your operations through the inevitable 
vicissitudes of war. 

"My duty to my country, which has been intrusted to me by 
God, compels me to-day, when the enemy has penetrated into 



THE CONQUEST OF GRODNO AND VILNA 189 

the interior of the empire, to take supreme command of the 
actice forces, and to share with the army the fatigue of war, 
and to safeguard with it Russian soil from attempts of the 
enemy. The ways of Providence are inscrutable, but my duty 
and my desire determine me in my resolution for the good of 
the state. 

"The invasion of the enemy on the western front, which neces- 
sitates the greatest possible concentration of civil and military 
authorities as well as the unification of command in the field, has 
turned our attention from the southern front At this moment 
I recognize the necessity of your assistance and counsels on the 
southern front, and I appoint you viceroy of the Caucasus and 
commander in chief of the valiant Caucasian army. 

"I express to Your Imperial Highness my profound gratitude 
and that of the country for your labors during the war. 

"Nicholas." 

The grand duke addressed his former armies before departing 
to his new sphere of activity as follows: 

"Valiant Army and Fleet : To-day your august supreme chief, 
His Majesty the Emperor, places himself at your head; I bow 
before your heroism of more than a year, and express to you my 
cordial, warm, and sincere appreciation. 

"I believe steadfastly that because the emperor himself, to 
whom you have taken your oath, conducts you, you will display 
achievements hitherto unknown. I believe that God from this 
day will accord to His elect His all-powerful aid, and will bring 
to him victory. 

"Nicholas, 
"General Aide de Camp/ 9 

Another of the small southern tributaries of the Niemen which 
offered excellent opportunities for resistance of which the Rus- 
sians promptly availed themselves, was the Zelvianka River, 
which joins the Niemen just west of Mosty. The fighting which 
went on there for a few days was almost exclusively in the form 
of rear-guard actions, and was typical of a great deal of the 



,190 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

fighting during the Russian retreat. Whenever the Germans 
advanced far enough and in large enough numbers to endanger 
the retreating armies, the latter would speed up as much as 
possible until they reached one of the many small rivers with 
which that entire region abounds. There sufficiently large forces 
to delay the advance, at least for a day or two, would be left 
behind to use the natural possibilities of defense offered by the 
waterway to the best possible advantage, while the main body 
of the army would move on, to repeat this operation at the next * 
opportunity. In most instances these practices held up the 
German and Austrian advance just exactly in the manner in 
which it had been designed that it should. Furthermore, the 
Russians would not give way until they had inflicted the greatest 
possible losses on their enemies, and in that respect they were 
frequently quite successful. For first of all many of these rivers 
have either densely wooded or very swampy banks which lend 
themselves admirably for defense to as brave a fighting body as 
the Russian army, and which proved exceedingly treacherous to i 
the attacker; and in the second place the Russians, of course, 
had the advantage that they were fighting on their own soil, 
while the Germans were in a strange and often hostile country. 
In spite of this, however, the German advance, taken all in all, 
could not be denied, and in practically every one of the cases 
just described, the final outcome was in a very short time de- 
feat for the Russians and a successful crossing of the watery 
obstacle by the Germans. This was true also at the banks of 
the Zelvianka, where the Germans on September 9, 1915, 
stormed successfully the heights near Pieski, capturing 1,400 
Russians. This success was followed up by further gains on the 
next day, September 10, 1915, that again yielded a few thousand 
prisoners. A few days later the crossing was forced and the 
Germans began to attack the Russians behind the next Niemen 
tributary, the Shara. 

Farther to the north especially heavy fighting occurred for a 
few days around Skidel, a little town just north of the Niemen 
on the Grodno-Mosty railroad, and it was not until September 
11, 1915, that the Germans succeeded in storming it. On the 



THE CONQUEST OF GRODNO AND VILNA 191 

game day German aeroplanes attacked the important railroad 
junction at Lida on the Kovno-Vilna railway, and also Vileika on 
the railway running parallel to and east of the Warsaw-Vilna- 
Dvinsk-Petrograd railroad. In a way this signified the opening 
of the German offensive against Vilna. Concurrent with it the 
fighting on the Dvina between Friedrichstadt and Jacobstadt 
waxed more furious. Farther south the Germans advanced 
toward Rakishki on the Kupishki-Dvinsk railroad and between 
(hat road and the River Vilia they even reached at some points 
the Vilna-Dvinsk railroad. Without any lull the battle raged 
now all along the line from the Dvina to Vilna, and from Vilna 
to the Niemen. South of this river the attack of the Germans 
was directed against the Russian front behind the Shara River. 
By September 14, 1915, Von Hindenburg stood before Dvinsk 
with one part of his army group. The other parts were rapidly 
pushing in an easterly direction from Olita and Grodno with the 
object of attacking Vilna from the south, but they encountered 
determined resistance, especially in the region to the east of 
Grodno. With undiminished vigor, however, the Germans 
continued their advance against Dvinsk and Vilna. To the 
south of the former city they pushed beyond the Vilna-Petrograd 
railway, taking Vidsky, just north of the Disna River, in the 
early morning hours of September 16, 1915. 

At that time the fall of both Vilna and Dvinsk seemed to be 
inevitable. On September 18, 1915, the Germans reported con- 
tinuous progress in their attacks on Dvinsk. On the same day 
they broke through the Russian front between Vilna and the 
Niemen in numerous places, capturing over 5,000 men and 16 
machine guns. Of railroad lines available to facilitate an 
eventual Russian retreat from Vilna, the northern route to 
Petrograd by way of Dvinsk had been in German hands for some 
days. The southern route by way of Lida to Kovno was im- 
minently threatened at many points. The only other railroad on 
the eventual line of retreat to the southeast by way of Minsk was 
likewise threatened both from the south and north. Vilna taken, 
the Germans immediately bent all their energies to the task of 
pursuing the retreating Russians. 

M— War St. 4 



192 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

On September 18, 1915, Vilna fell into the hands of General 
von Eichhorn's array. With it the Russians lost one of the most 
important cities of their western provinces. Vilna is one of the 
oldest Russian towns, its history dating back as far as 1128. It 
is the capital of a government of the same name* In the Middle 
Ages it was the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, but 
became a Russian possession as a result of the partition of 
Poland in 1795. Of its population of more than a quarter million 
almost one-half are Jews. Possessing an ancient Roman Catholic 
cathedral, it is the seat of a bishop of that church, as well as of 
a Greek archbishop. 

On the same day on which Vilna's fall was reported, part of 
Von Hindenburg's army, its left wing, was reported at Vornjany, 
Smorgon, and Molodechno, all places east of Vilna, the last 
about eighty miles on the Vilna-Minsk railway. In vain did the 
Russians try to pierce this line, which, by the very nature of the 
advance, must have been exceedingly thin. It not only held, but 
managed to force the Russians to continue their retreat, and 
during this process captured large numbers of them* General 
von Eichhorn's army, the actual conquerors of Vilna, and Von 
Hindenburg's center reached Osmiana, thirty miles southeast 
of Vilna, on September 20, 1915. The right wing, on the same 
day, had pushed on to the east of Lida and to a point just west of 
Novogrudok. By September 21, 1915, the crossing of the Gavia 
River, a northern tributary of the Niemen, was forced north and 
south of Subolniki, and on September 22, 1915, the Russian 
front extending from Osmiana to Subolniki and Novogrudok 
was forced to retreat a one day's march, ten miles, taking new 
positions on a line: Soli (on the Vilna-Minsk railroad) -Olshany- 
Traby-Ivie to a point slightly northeast of Novogrudok. A 
German attempt to outflank the retreating Russians from the 
north, made on September 23, 1915, at Vileika on the Vilia, about 
ten miles north of the railway junction at Molodechno, failed. 
During the next day the Germans again forced back the Russian 
front eastward for about ten miles, or a one day's march. Along 
this new front — Smorgon-Krevo-Vishneff-Sabresina-Mikolaieff, 
just southeast of which latter place the historical Beresina joins 



THE CAPTURE OP BREST-LITOVSK 193 

the Niemen — the Russians made a firm stand during the rest of 
September, 1915. 

The German advance was stopped, which fact undoubtedly 
was partly due to the renewed activity of the Franco-English 
forces on the west front, as well as to the absolute necessity of 
giving a chance to recuperate to the armies on the east front, 
which had been fighting now incessantly for months. September 
28, 1915, may be considered approximately as the date at which 
the Battle of Vilna ended. After that date fighting along the 
eastern front assumed the form of trench warfare, except in the 
extreme northern section, and in Volhynia, eastern Galicia. In 
the sector, bounded in the north by the Vilia, and in the south by 
the Niemen, the Russian front was along a line running through 
the towns of Smorgon, Krevo, Vishneff , Sabresina, Mikolaieff. 

As a result of the Battle of Vilna and the Russian retreat fol- 
lowing it the Germans captured 70 officers, about 22,000 men, a 
large number of cannon and machine guns, and a great quantity 
of equipment. Along the entire eastern front the German forces 
captured men and equipment during the month of September, 
1915, as follows: 421 officers, 95,464 men, 37 cannon, 298 ma- 
chine guns, and 1 aeroplane. 



CHAPTER XXII 

THE CAPTURE OP BREST-LITOVSK 

THE central group under Prince Leopold had hardly entered 
Warsaw proper when it continued its advance in an easterly 
direction toward Brest-Litovsk after having occupied Warsaw's 
eastern suburb, Praga. At the same time other forces com- 
pleted the investment of Novo Georgievsk, covering the sector 
between the Nareff and the Vistula. By August 10, 1915, the 
left wing of the central group had reached Ealuszin and Gen- 
eral von Woyrsch's army had become its right wing, taking the 
Russian positions just west of Lukoff. On the same day German 



194 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

aviators threw bombs both at Novo Georgievsk and Brest- 
Litovsk. Under heavy fighting a crossing was forced over the 
Muchavka and Lukoff was occupied on August 11, 1915. 

One of the most awful consequences of the Russian retreat 
was the sad plight in which the civil population of the stricken 
country found itself. In the beginning of the retreat the Rus- 
sians forced these poor people to join in the retreat. This itself, 
of course, meant untold hardships and frequently death. But 
as the advance of the Germans became more furious and the 
retreat of the Russians more rapid, it often happened that these 
unfortunate persons — irrespective of age, sex or condition — 
were forced by their Russian masters to turn around again and 
thus place themselves squarely between the two contending 
forces. 

With the fall of Lukoff an important railroad leading into 
Brest-Litovsk had fallen into the hands of the invading enemy. 
Along this line, which is part of the direct line Warsaw- 
Brest-Litovsk, Austro-Hungarian forces now progressed rap- 
idly in an easterly direction and by August 14, 1915, had 
reached Miendzyrzets. 

In spite of the heaviest kind of bombardment and of almost 
uninterrupted infantry attacks on Kovno and Novo Georgievsk, 
both of these fortresses still held out By August 1, 1915, how- 
ever, the German lines had advanced far beyond these places 
and it became clear that their next chief objective was Brest- 
Litovsk. Each one of the three main army groups directed 
strong parts of their forces toward this Russian stronghold. 
From the northwest detachments of Von Hindenburg's group, 
coming from Lomza and OstroflF , had crossed in a wide front 
the Warsaw-Bialystok section of the Warsaw-Vilna-Petrograd 
railway. After taking Briansk they had forced the crossing of 
the Nurzets, a tributary of the Bug, and the only natural barrier 
in front of Brest-Litovsk from that direction. They were 
rapidly approaching the Brest-Litovsk-Bialystok railway. The 
central group's front — Lukoff -Siedlets-Sokoloff — had been 
pushed forward to Drohichin on the Bug, only about forty-five 
miles to the northeast of the fortress. Parts of Von Macken- 



THE CAPTURE OP BREST-LITOVSK 195 

sen's southern group under the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand had 
even reached Biala, less than twenty miles west of Brest-Litovsk, 
and still other detachments from this group were advancing 
along the eastern bank of the Bug. Three railroads leading out 
of the fortress were still in the hands of the Russians — to Bialy- 
stok to the north, to Pinsk and Minsk to the east, and to Kovel 
and Kovno to the south. This continuous offensive against all 
the Russian lines, of course, cost both sides dearly. The 
attackers, however, seemed to have had the better end of it. The 
Russians, according to official figures, lost almost 100,000 men 
by capture alone during the first two weeks of August, 1915. 

The German successes before Kovno and Novo Georgievsk 
had the result of increasing the vigor of the drive against Brest- 
Litovsk. Those detachments of Von Hindenburg's army group 
which had forced a crossing of the Nareff between Bialystok 
and Lomza pushed on rapidly to the south and threatened as 
early as August 18, 1915, the northern section of the Bialystok- 
Brest-Litovsk railway. On the same day Prince Leopold's forces 
reached the south bank of the Bug, north of Sarnaki. Parts of 
Von Mackensen's army kept up its attack against the Russians 
around Biala, forced them across the Bug and into the very 
forts of Brest-Litovsk and at the same time began the bombard- 
ment of the outlying forts with the heavy artillery that had 
been brought up. Other parts, on that day, August 19, 1915, 
crossed the northern part of the Cholm-Brest-Litovsk railway 
east of Vlodava. At the same time Austrian forces under Field 
Marshal-Lieutenant von Arz and Archduke Joseph Ferdinand 
cleared the left bank of the Bug, east of Janoff, and thereby 
completed the investment of the fortress from the west. 

Closer and closer the girdle was drawn. Every day the 
German advance progressed. In the evening of August 19, 1915, 
Prince Leopold's forces crossed the Bug at Melnik and began to 
threaten the fortress from the northwest. Still closer to Brest- 
Litovsk Austrian troops belonging to Von Mackensen's group 
crossed to the north bank of the Bug near Janoff, while other 
parts of this group advanced from the south beyond Vlodava 
and forced the Russians to withdraw from the east bank of the 



196 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Bug north of this town. On the Germans and Austrians pushed 
from all directions except, of course, the east. By August 20, 
1915, the lower part of the Brest-Litovsk-Bialystok railway was 
crossed and the only railway leading out of the fortress toward 
the east, which at Shabinka separates into two branches, one 
to Minsk and another to Pinsk, seemed threatened. The German- 
Austrian advance from the south that day reached Pishicha, 
apparently directly toward the southern railroad from the for- 
tress to Kovel and from there to Kovno and Kieff. 

From all sides now the circle around Brest-Litovsk was drawn 
closer. The important railroad center at Kovel was taken on 
August 24, 1915, and immediately the combined German and 
Austrian forces swung around toward the north along both 
sides of the road leading to Kobryn, east of the fortress and on 
the railroad to Pinsk. In the meantime heavy artillery 
had been brought up and began the bombardment of the for- 
tress. During the night of August 25, 1915, the storming of the 
forts began. Austrian troops under General von Arz took the 
three forts on the western front, while a Brandenburg Reserve 
Corps attacked from the northwest and penetrated into the cen- 
tral forts. The Russians then evacuated the fortress. Its fall 
immediately imperiled the entire Russian positions and resulted 
in a general retreat of all Russian forcec. The question for 
them now was no longer how long they were able to delay the 
enemy, but how much they could save out of the wreck. On the 
same day that saw the fall of Brest-Litovsk the Russians lost 
Bialystok, and on the next day, August 16, 1915, they evacuated 
the fortress of Olita on the Niemen, about halfway between 
Kovno and Grodno; the latter, the last of Russia's proud string 
of western fortresses of the first line, of course was now not 
only seriously threatened but had become practically untenable. 

In a way the victory at Brest-Litovsk was an empty one, for 
the Russians apparently had decided that the fortress would 
become untenable before long and had withdrawn from it in 
good time not only practically the entire garrison but also what- 
ever supplies or equipment they could possibly transport, 
destroying mosf of what they were forced to leave behind and 



THE CAPTURE OF BREST-LITOVSK 197 

blowing up many of the fortifications. The strategical value 
of the victory was, of course, not influenced by this action. After 
the fall of the fortress the combined forces of the Germans and 
Austrians did not rest on their laurels. Without wasting any 
time they immediately took up in all directions the pursuit of 
the retreating Russians. For a short time the retreating Rus- 
sian troops made a determined stand in the neighborhood of 
Kamienietz-Litovsk, northeast of Brest-Litovsk, but could not 
withstand the German pressure for long. A great deal of very 
heavy and bloody fighting took place in this period, August 25 
to August 31, 1915, in the dense forest south of Bialystok and 
east of Bielsk, sometimes known as the Forest of Bialystok and 
sometimes as the Forest of Bieloviee, a little town at the end 
of a short branch railroad, running east from Bielsk. The 
Upper Nareff flows through this forest and much of the fighting 
was along its banks. Austrian troops, a few days earlier, had 
reached Pushany, just north of the Brest-Litovsk-Minsk rail- 
road and from there pressed on in an easterly direction. By 
August 21, 1915, the Upper Nareff had been crossed after the > 
hardest kind of fighting on both sides, and the advance continued 
now toward Grozana. It was not, however, until September 1, 
1915, that these troops were able to fight their way out of the 
forest At the same time Von Mackensen's troops were follow- 
ing the retreating Russians into the Pripet Marshes. Other 
parts of this group which had advanced east from Brest-Litovsk 
along the Minsk railroad reached the Jasiolda River, a tributary 
of the Pripet, at a point near Bereza, while Austro-Hungarian 
troops forming part of Von Mackensen's army advanced to east 
and south of Boloto and Dubowoje. Further north, Prince 
Leopold's army was still fighting the retreating Russians just 
north of Pushany, but on September 4, 1915, finally fought its 
way out of the marshes which — outrunners of the vast Pripet 
Marshes — are abundant in that region. 

Back the Germans and Austrians forced their retreating 
enemy during the following days, although the pursuit lost a 
little in force and swiftness. For the troops which were 
engaged in these operations had been steadily on the move prac- 



198 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

tically ever since the attack on Warsaw began. On September 
6-7, 1915, the Russians again made a stand on a wide front east 
and south of Grodno. This line stretched south from the Niemen 
near Mosty to Volkovysk, then southeast to Rushana, thence 
east of the Pushany Marshes across the Jasiolda River near 
Chenisk to Drohichyn, on the Bresfc-Litovsk-Pinsk railroad. On 
the German and Austrian side these engagements were fought 
by the armies of Prince Leopold of Bavaria and Field Marshal 
▼on Mackensen. At the same time troops belonging to Von 
Hindenburg's group attacked a newly formed Russian line 
farther north which extended from Volkovysk in a northwest- 
erly direction to the village of Jeziory and the small lake on 
which the latter is situated, just north of Grodno. Volkovysk 
itself and the heights northeast of it were stormed by the Ger- 
mans on September 7, 1915, on which occasion again almost 
8,000 Russians were captured by the Germans. 

During the next few days the left wing of this army group 
fought in close cooperation with the ri^ht wing of Von Hinden- 
burg's army along the upper Zelvianka, a southern tributary of 
the Niemen. The rest of Prince Leopold's army were making 
the Kobryn-Minsk railroad their objective and were fighting on 
September 9, 10, and 11, 1915, for possession of the station at 
Kossovo. 

While Von Hindenburg's army group was occupied with the 
drive on Vilna and Von Mackensen's forces advanced against 
Pinsk, Prince Leopold's regiments, as we have learned, fought 
continuously in the sector between the Niemen and the Jasiolda 
Rivers. The problem assigned to them apparently was that of 
gaining the Vilna-Kovno railroad in order to cut off the Russian 
retreat, and by the time Vilna fell, September 18, 1915, they had 
just succeeded in forcing a crossing over the Shara River, which 
runs practically parallel to the Lida-Baranovitchy section of the 
Vilna-Kovno railroad. In a way this gave them command of 
that section; but they first had to cross the country between the 
Shara and the railroad, over a width of about twenty miles. 
Although they were reported on September 19, 1915, as partici- 
pating in the pursuit of the retreating Russians, they seem to 



THE CAPTURE OF BREST-LITOVSK 199 

have arrived just a little too late to capture large numbers of 
them. In fact, not until September 20, 1915, were they reported 
actually at Dvorzets, on the Vilna-Eovno railway, while on that 
day the right wing of this army was fighting west of Oshoff, 
which, indeed, is to the east of the Brest-Litovsk-Minsk railway, 
but still a considerable distance (about twenty-two miles) west 
of Moltshad, a little to the southeast of Dvorzets; stormed 
Ostroff , and crossed the Oginski Canal at Telechany, after first 
throwing the Russians across it These operations netted some 
1,000 prisoners. September 22, 1915, brought their left wing 
about ten miles farther east at Valeika, while farther south 
the fighting continued in the same locality as on the previous 
day during the following days. By September 23, 1915, the left 
wing again had advanced about ten miles along the Servetsh 
River at Korelitchy, as well as the Upper Shara, east of Barano- 
vitchy and Ostroff. The Russian resistance along this river was 
maintained during September 24, 1915, although the Germans 
gained its eastern bank south of Lipsk. 

Just as in the Vilna-Niemen sector to the north, the German 
advance in the region bounded in the north by the Niemen and 
in the south by the Jasiolda was halted during the last week of 
September, 1915. And the line of positions which had been 
reached by the German forces was maintained throughout the 
rest of the fall and the entire winter, excepting a few minor 
changes. In a rough way, that front extended as follows: 
Starting south of the junction of the Beresina with the Niemen, 
it followed the course of the latter river through the town of 
Labicha for about thirty miles in a southeasterly direction, then 
bent slightly to the southwest at Korelitchy, passing to the west 
of Tzirin, crossed the Brest-Litovsk-Minsk railway about half- 
way between Baranovitchy and Snoff and about ten miles 
farther south the Vilna-Kovno railway between Luchouitchy 
and Nieazvied, at which town it again bent to the southwest, 
along the Shara River, passing east of Lipsk, and then along 
the entire length of the Oginski Canal to its junction with the 
Jasiolda, northwest of Pinsk. Along this line both the Russians 
and Germans dug themselves in, and throughout the winter a 



200 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

bitter trench warfare netted occasionally a few lines of trenches 
to the Russians and at other times had the same results for the 
other side, without, however, materially changing the position 
of either. 



CHAPTER XXIII 

THE STRUGGLE IN EAST GALICIA AND 
VOLHYNIA AND THE CAPTURE 

OF PINSK 

THE fall of Ivangorod and Warsaw was the signal for advance 
for which the southern group under Von Mackensen had been 
waiting. General von Woyrsch's forces pressed on between 
Garvolin and Ryki, northeast of Ivangorod. Other forces 
threw the Russians back beyond the Vieprz and gradually 
approached the line of the Bug River. Still farther south, on 
the Dniester, Austrian troops, too, forced back the Russians 
step by step. On August 11, 1915, Von Mackensen's troops 
attacked the Russians, who were making a stand behind the 
Bystrzyka and the Tysmienika. This hastened the Russian 
retreat to the east of the Bug. 

Throughout the following days the story of the Russian 
retreat and the German-Austrian advance changed little in its 
essential features. As fast as roads permitted and as quickly 
as obstacles in their way could be overcome, the forces of the 
Central Powers advanced. With equal determination the Rus- 
sian troops availed themselves of every possible, and quite a 
few seemingly impossible, opportunities to delay this advance. 
Every creek was made an excuse for making a stand, every 
forest became a means of stalling the enemy, every railroad or 
country road embankment had to yield its chance of putting a 
new obstacle into the thorny path of the advancing invader. 
Whenever the latter seemed to ease up for a moment, either to 
gain contact with his main forces or to rest up after especially 
severe forced marches, the Russians were on hand with an 



THE STRUGGLE IN EAST GALICIA 201 

attack. But just as soon as the attack had been made the Ger- 
mans or Austrians or Hungarians, or all three together, were 
ready to forget all about the temporary let-up and were pre- 
pared to meet the attack. Then once more the pursuit would 
begin. 

During the drive on Brest-Litovsk, covering practically all of 
August, 1915, after the fall of Warsaw, the operations of Von 
Mackensen's southern group were so closely connected and inter- 
twined with those of the central group that they have 
found detailed consideration together with the latter. During 
all this time the extreme right wing in Eastern Galicia did com- 
paratively little beyond preventing an advance of the Russian' 
forces at that point With the fall of Brest-Litovsk, however, 
and the beginning of the Russian retreat along the entire front, 
activities in the southeastern end of the Russo-German-Austrian 
theatre of war were renewed. 

On August 28, 1915, German and Austro-Hungarian forces 
under Count Bothmer broke through the Russian line along the 
Zlota-Lipa River, both north and south of the Galician town of 
Brzezany, about fifty miles southeast of Lemberg, and in spite 
•f determined resistance and repeated counterattacks drove the 
Russians some distance toward the Russo-Galician border. At 
the same time other parts of Von Mackensen's army successfully 
attacked the Russian line at Vladimir Volynsky, a few miles east 
•f the Upper Bug and somewhat north of the Polish-Galician 
border. The combined attack resulted in a gradual withdrawal 
of the entire Russian line as far as it was located in Galicia, 
aggregating in length almost 160 miles. These operations alone 
netted to the Austro-Germans about 10,000 Russian prisoners. 
This attack came more or less unexpectedly, but in spite of that 
was carried on most fiercely. By August 30, 1915, the right 
wing had forced the Russians back to the river Strypa and was 
only a few miles west of Tarnopol. 

Farther north another army under the Austrian General 
Boehm-Ermolli encountered determined resistance along the 
line Zlochoff-Bialykamien-Radziviloff , where the Russians were 
supported by very strongly fortified positions. Still farther 



202 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

north the attack progressed in the direction of the strongly 
fortified town of Lutsk, on the Styr River, less than fifty miles 
west of the fortress of Rovno, in the Russian province of 
Volhynia. This fortress, together with Dubno, farther south on 
the Ikwa, a tributary of the Styr, and with Rovno itself formed 
a very powerful triangle of permanent fortifications erected 
by Russia in very recent times. The purpose for which they had 
been intended undoubtedly was twofold ; first, to offer an obstacle 
to any invasion of that section of the Russian Empire on the 
part of Austro-Hungarian troops with Lemberg as a base, and 
secondly, to act as a base for a possible Russian attack on Galicia. 

In view of these facts, it was surprising that on August 31, 
1915, only three days after the resumption of actual fighting 
in Eastern Galicia, the fall of Lutsk was announced. The 
very form of the official Austrian announcement rather indicates 
that the Russians must have evacuated Lutsk of their own 
accord, possibly after dismounting and either withdrawing or 
destroying its guns. For the report states that only one— the 
Fifty-fourth Infantry — regiment drove the Russians by means 
of bayonet attacks out of their first-line trenches and then fol- 
lowed them right into Lutsk. This, of course, could not have 
been accomplished so quickly unless the Russians had already 
withdrawn at that point as well as everywhere else. At the same 
time their line was also pierced at Baldi and Kamuniec, which 
forced their withdrawal from the entire western bank of the 
Styr. German troops, fighting under General von Bothmer in 
cooperation with the Austro-Hungarian army of General Boehm- 
Ermolli, on the same day (August 31, 1915) stormed a series of 
heights on the banks of the Strypa, north of Zboroff, although 
they encountered there the most determined resistance on the 
part of the Russian forces. 

The immense losses in men, guns, and materials which the 
Russians suffered throughout the month of August, 1915, in 
spite of their genius for withdrawing huge bodies of men at the 
right moment, will be seen from the following official statement 
published on September 1, 1915, by General Headquarters of 
the German armies. These figures do not include the losses suf- 



THE STRUGGLE IN EAST GALICIA 203 

fered by the Russian armies which in Eastern Galicia were 
fighting against Austro-Hungarian troops. 

"During the month of August the number of prisoners taken 
by German troops in the eastern and southeastern theatres of 
war, and the quantities of war materials captured during the 
same period, totaled more than 2,000 officers and 269,800 men 
taken prisoners, and 2,000 cannon and 560 machine guns. 

"Of these, 20,000 prisoners and 827 cannon were taken at 
Kovno. About 90,000 prisoners, including 15 generals and more 
than 1,000 other officers, and 1,200 cannon and 150 machine guns 
were taken at Novo Georgievsk. The counting up of the cannon 
and machine guns taken at Novo Georgievsk has not yet 
been finished, however, while the count of machine guns 
taken at Kovno has not yet begun. The figures quoted as totals, 
therefore, will be considerably increased. The stocks of ammu- 
nition, provisions, and oats in the two fortresses cannot be 
estimated. 

The fall of Lutsk had serious consequences for the Russians. 
With this fortress gone the entire line south of it was endan- 
gered unless promptly withdrawn. It was, therefore, not sur- 
prising that when on September 1, 1915, the left wing of the 
Austro-German forces crossed the Styr on a wide front north 
ef Lutsk the entire Russian line down from that point should 
give way. That, of course, meant the evacuation of Galicia by 
the Russians. Brody, about halfway between Lemberg and 
Rovno on the railroad connecting these two cities, was taken by 
Boehm-Ermolli's army on September 1, 1915, and these troops 
immediately pushed on across the border. General von Both- 
Boer's forces, slightly to the south, kept up their advance from 
Zaloshe and Zboroff in the direction of Tarhopol and the Sereth 
River. Still farther south the third group under General 
Pflanzer-Baltin drove the Russians from the heights on the east 
bank of the Lower Strypa. The general result of all these opera- 
tions was the withdrawal of the Russian front along the Dniester 
between Zaleshchyki in the south and Buczacz in the north, to 
a new line along the Sereth, starting at the bitter's junction with 
the Dniester. But there the Russians made p stand. The 



204 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

hardest possible fighting took place on September 4, 1915, all 
along the line in Galicia, Volhynia, and on the Bessarabian 
border. Much of it was of the "hand-to-hand" kind, for both 
sides had thrown up fortifications and dug trenches, which they 
took turns in storming and defending. 

One of the heaviest battles of this period took place on 
September 6, 1915, lasting into the early morning hours of the 
7th, along a front about twenty-five miles wide, with its center 
about at Radziviloff, a little town just across the border of 
the Lemberg-Rovno railroad, a few miles northeast of Brody. 
There the Russians had strongly intrenched themselves. The 
fighting was most bitter, especially around the castle of Podka- 
men, which Boehm-Ermolli's troops wrested from the Russians 
only through repeated and most fierce infantry attacks and by 
means of terribly bloody hand-to-hand fighting. However, finally 
the Russians had to give way, leaving over 8,000 men in the hands 
of their adversaries. Farther south the armies of Generals von 
Bothmer and Pflanzer-Baltin, too, had to withstand continuous 
attacks of the Russians and more or less fighting went on all 
along the southeastern front as far down as Nova-Sielnitsa, a few 
miles southeast of Czernovitz at the point where the borders of 
Rumania, Galicia, and Bessarabia meet. 

The result of the Austrian victory of September 7, 1915, near 
Radziviloff was the further withdrawal on September 8, 1915, 
of the Russian line, extending over fifty-five miles to the east 
bank of the Ikwa River, a tributary of the Styr, on the west 
about thirty miles northeast of Radziviloff on the Lemberg- 
Rovno railroad. This withdrawal, of course, seriously threatened 
this fortress, which, being on the west side of the Ikwa, was 
open to direct attack from the west and south as soon as the 
Russians had been thrown back beyond the Ikwa. And, indeed, 
the next day, September 9, 1915, brought the fall of the city 
and fortress of Dubno. Austrian troops under General Boehm- 
Ermolli took it by storm, while other detachments advanced to 
the Upper Ikwa and beyond the town of Novo Alexinez. This 
was as serious a loss to the Russians as it was a great gain for 
their enemies. For Dubno commanded not only the valley of 



THE STRUGGLE IN EAST GALICIA 205 

the Ikwa, but it also blocked the very important railway and 
road that run from Lemberg to Rovno. 

Farther south along the Sereth the Russian lines had been 
greatly strengthened by new troops brought up from the rear 
by means of the railroad Kieff-Shmerinka-Proskuroif-Tarnopol. 
This enabled the Russians to make determined attacks all along 
the river, which were especially severe in the neighborhood of 
Trembovla. General von Bothmer*s German army at first suc- 
cessfully withstood these attacks in spite of Russian superiority 
in numbers, but was finally forced to withdraw from the west 
bank of the Sereth to the heights between that river and the 
Strypa River, which are between 760 and 1,000 feet above the 
sea level. But on September 9, 1915, the German forces 
advanced again and threw the Russians along almost the entire 
Kne again beyond the Sereth. Farther south on that river, near 
its junction with the Dniester, Austrian regiments under Gen- 
eral Benigni and Prince Schoenburg stormed on the same day 
the Russian positions northwest of Szuparka, capturing over 
4,000 Russians. 

While Von Mackensen's army was pushing its advance toward 
Pinsk, the principal city in the Pripet Marsh region, along both 
sides of the only railroad leading to it — the Brest-Litovsk- 
Kobryn-Pinsk-Gowel railroad line— heavy fighting continued in 
Volhynia and East Galicia. West of Kovno the Russians were 
thrown back of the Stubiel River on September 9, 1915, by the 
Austrians. General von Bothmer's German army, which formed 
the center of the forces in Volhynia and Galicia, advanced from 
Zaloshe on the Sereth toward Zbaraz, a few miles northeast of 
Tarnopol. Before the latter town, which the Russians seemed to 
be determined to hold at any cost, new reenf orcements had ap- 
peared and opposed the advance of the Austro-German forces 
with the utmost fierceness. In that sector they passed from the 
defensive to the offensive, and with superior forces threw back 
the enemy again from the Sereth to the heights on the east bank 
of the Strypa on September 10, 1915. But with these heights at 
their back the German line held and all Russian attacks broke 
down. 



206 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

In spite of this they were renewed on September 11, 1915, 
with such strength that small detachments succeeded in gaining 
a temporary foothold in the enemy's trenches, where the bloodi- 
est kind of hand-to-hand fighting occurred. At that moment 
General von Bothmer ordered an attack on both flanks of the 
Russians, who thereby were forced to give up the advantage 
which they had so dearly bought However, this did not make the 
Russians lose heart. Again and again they came on, and so 
fierce were their onslaughts that the Austro-German line was 
finally withdrawn to the west bank of the Strypa on September 
13, 1915. To the north, along the Ikwa from Dubno to the 
border, reenforcements were also brought up by the Russians 
and succeeded in holding up any further advance on the part of 
the Austrian troops. Especially hard fighting took place in the 
neighborhood of Novo Alexinez, a little village just across the 
border in Volhynia. 

On September 15, 1915, Von Mackensen took Pinsk after hav- 
ing driven the Russians out of practically all the territory 
between the Jasiolda and Pripet Rivers. Considering that this 
city is, in a direct line, more than 220 miles east of Warsaw, this 
accomplishment was little short of marvelous, especially in view 
of the fact that the territory surrounding Pinsk— the Pripet 
Marshes — offered immense difficulties. However, the same 
difficulties were encountered by the retreating Russians in even 
greater measure, because, while there is some solid ground west 
of Pinsk, there is practically nothing but swamps to the north, 
south, and east of the city, the direction in which the Russian 
retreat necessarily had to proceed. It was thus possible for Von 
Mackensen to report on September 17, 1915, the capture of 2,500 
Russians south of Pinsk. 

In the Volhynian and Galician theatre of war the struggle 
continued without any abatement. Neither side, however, suc- 
ceeded in gaining any lasting and definite advantages. One day 
the Russians would throw their enemies back across the Strypa, 
only to suffer themselves a like fate on the next day in respect to 
the Sereth. More or less the same conditions existed east of 
Lutsk and along the Ikwa, in both of which regions the Russians 



THE STRUGGLE IN EAST GALICIA 207 

continued their attempts to drive back the Austro-Germans by 
repeated attacks. 

After the conquest of Pinsk, Von Mackensen's army for a few 
days continued its advance from that town in a northeasterly, 
easterly, and southeasterly direction. But here, too, the advance 
stopped about September 23, 1915, after some detachments which 
had crossed to the north and northeast of Pinsk, over the Oginski 
Canal at Lahishyn, and over the Jasiolda between its junction 
with the canal and the Pinsk-Gomel railroad, had to be with- 
drawn on that date. In this sector — f rom the Jasiolda to the Styr 
at Tchartorysk just south of the Kovel-Kieff railway — the fight- 
ing assumed the form of trench warfare, just as it did along the 
rest of the front south of the Vilia River. The front there was 
along the Jasiolda from its junction with the Oginski Canal, 
swung around Pinsk and east of it in a semicircle, through the 
Pripet Marshes, crossed the Pripet River at Nobiet and then con- 
tinued in a southerly direction to Borana on the Styr, along that 
river for a distance of about twenty miles, across the Kovel-Kieff 
railroad at Rafalovka to Tchartorysk on the Styr. 

Farther south the Russians gained some slight successes, and 
even forced the Germans to retreat to the west bank of the Styr 
at Lutsk. The fighting in that vicinity and along the Ikwa was 
very severe. Especially was this true in the neighborhood of 
Novo Alexinez, where, in very hilly country, the Russians 
launched attack after attack against the Austro-German forces, 
without, however, being able to dislodge them from their very 
strong positions. The battle raged furiously on September 25, 
1915, when some Russian detachments succeeded in advancing 
a few miles to the southwest of Novo Alexinez into the vicinity 
of Zaloshe. However, the Austrian resistance was so strong that 
the Russians lost about 5,000 men. When on September 27, 1915, 
a German army under General von Linsingen had again forced 
its way across the Styr at Lutsk and threatened to outflank the 
right wing of the Russian forces, the latter finally gave way and 
retreated in the direction of Kovno. A Russian attempt to break 
through the Austro-German line, held by General von Bothmer's 
army, on the Strypa west of Tarnopol, was made on October 2, 

N— War St 4 



208 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

1915, but failed. The same was true of attacks on the Ikwa 
west of Kremenet and north of Dubno near Olyka, made on 
October 6, 1915. These were followed up on the next day, Octo- 
ber 7, 1915, with further attacks along the entire Volhynian, 
East Galician, and Bessarabian front. 

At that time this front extended as follows: Starting at 
Tchartorysk on the Styr, a few miles south of the Kovel-Gomel 
railroad, it ran almost straight south through Tsuman, crossed the 
Brest-Litovsk railroad a mile or two north of Olyka, passed about 
fifteen miles west of Rovno to the Rovno-Lemberg railroad, which 
it crossed a few miles east of Dubno, then followed more or less 
the course of the Ikwa and passed through Novo Alexinez. There 
it turned slightly to the west, crossed the Sereth about ten miles 
farther south, passed through Jezierna on the Lemberg-Tarnopol 
railroad and crossed the Strypa at the point where this river is 
cut by the Brzezany-Tarnopol railroad, about fifteen miles west 
of the latter city. Again bending somewhat, this time to the 
east, it continued slightly to the west of the Strypa to a point 
on this river about fifteen miles north of Buczacz, then followed 
the course of the Strypa on both sides to this town, bent still 
more to the east, passing through Pluste, about ten miles south- 
east of which it crossed the Sereth a few miles north from its 
junction with the Dniester, coming finally to its end at one of 
the innumerable bends in the Dniester, practically at the 
Galician-Bessarabian border and about twenty miles northwest of 
the fortress of Chotin. Although the amount of territory gained 
by the Austro-Germans in the period beginning with the fall of 
Warsaw was smaller in that section than in any other on the 
eastern front, it was still of sufficient size to leave now in the 
hands of the Russians only a very small part of Galicia, little 
more than forty miles wide at its greatest width and barely 
eighty miles long at its greatest length. 



IN THE PRIPET MARSHES 209 

CHAPTER XXIV 

IN THE PRIPET MARSHES 

A GREAT deal of the fighting after the fall of Brest-Litovsk, 
August 27, 1915, occurred in and near the extensive swamp 
lands surrounding the city of Pinsk and located on both sides 
of the River Pripet. To the Russians this part of the country is 
known as the Poliessie; its official name is the Rokitno Marshes, 
after the little town of that name situated slightly to the west, 
but it is usually spoken of as the Pripet Marshes. Parts of this 
unhealthy and very difficult region are located in five Russian 
governments: Mohileff, KiefF, Volhynia, Minsk, and Grodno, 
and these swamps therefore are the border land of Poland, Great 
Russia, and Little Russia. A comparatively small section of 
them has been thoroughly explored and their exact limits have 
never been determined. In the west and east the Rivers Bug and 
Dniester respectively form a definite border, which is lacking in 
the south and north, while to the northwest the famous Forest of 
Bielovies may be considered its boundary. According to a very 
rough estimate the Pripet Marshes are approximately one-half 
as large as the kingdom of Rumania ; only one river of importance 
runs through them, the Pripet, from which, indeed, the marshes 
take their popular name. On both of its sides the Pripet has a 
large number of tributaries, among which on the right are : the 
Styr, the Gorin, the Usha, and on the left the Pina, the Sluch, 
and the Ptych. A large number of small lakes are distributed 
throughout the entire district. Quite a large number of canals 
have been built, one of which connects the Pina with the Bug, 
another the Beresina, of Napoleonic fame and a tributary of the 
Dnieper, with the Ula and through the latter with the Dvina. In 
this manner it is possible to reach the Baltic Sea by means of 
continuous waterways from the Black Sea. 

It is very difficult to conceive a clear picture of this region 
without having actually seen it. In a way one may call it a 
gigantic lake which away from its shores has been filled in with 



210 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

sand to a small extent and to a larger extent has turned into 
swamps. It is densely covered with rushes, and out of its waters, 
which are far from clear, a multitude of stony islets rise up 
covered with dense underbrush. Its center is surrounded by 
an even more dense seam of pine forests. Its rivers and brooks 
are so slow that they can hardly be distinguished from stagnant 
waters. The only town of any importance within its limits is 
Pinsk on the Pina. 

In a general way five railroad lines have been built through 
various parts of the Pripet Marshes; the most important being 
a section of the Rovno-Vilna railroad; two others of special im- 
portance to the Russian retreat were the Brest-Litovsk-Pinsk- 
Gomel and the Ivangorod-Lublin-Cholm-Kovel-Kieff road. The 
Brest-Litovsk-Minsk railroad also passes in its greatest part 
through the outlying sections of the Pripet Marshes. The effect 
of these swamp lands on the Russian retreat and the German 
advance, of course, was twofold: it increased the difficulty of the 
Russian retreat, throwing at the same time very serious obstacles 
in the way of the advancing Germans. 

To the southward, and in a region very similar in all its char- 
acteristics, is the Volhynian triangle of fortresses : Lutsk, Dubno, 
and Rovno. Here too, during the fighting around these three 
places, the Russian and German armies had to contend with 
tremendous difficulties, which were caused chiefly by the fact that 
this part of the country, with the exception of a few sections, 
was almost impassable. This fact, undoubtedly, was primarily 
responsible for the decision of the Russian Government to locate 
these three powerful fortresses at that particular point, because 
the very difficulties which nature had provided became valuable 
aids to a strong defense against an invasion of Russian territory 
by Austro-Hungarian troops from the south. 

The fortresses of Lutsk and Dubno date with their beginning as 
far back as 1878, at which time they were built according to the 
plans of the Russian General Todleben. A little later the forti- 
fications of Rovno were added to this group, and one of the 
strongest triangles of Russia's fortifications was formed thereby. 
The sides of this triangle measure thirty, twenty-five, and forty 



IN THE PRIPET MARSHES 211 

miles respectively. The longest of these is the line between 
Lutsk and Rovno, with its back toward the Pripet Marshes. Of 
the three fortresses Rovno is the most important from a stra- 
tegical point of view, for it defends the junction of three of the 
most valuable railroads, the railway leading from Lemberg into 
Volhynia, that running south from Vilna into Galicia, and the 
railroad which by way of Berticheff indirectly connects Kieff with 
both Warsaw and Brest-Litovsk. The three fortresses, therefore, 
acted as a wedge between the most southeastern and the Polish 
zones of operations. They secured the connection of any Russian 
forces in Poland with the interior of Russia, and made possible 
the transfer of forces through the protection which they gave 
to the various railroad lines necessary for such a transfer. On 
account of the conditions of the surrounding territory it was 
impossible for any attacking army to dispose of the fortresses 
by investing them with part of their available forces while the 
balance of them continued on their advance; for the only way to 
reach the country in back of the three fortresses was by way 
of the fortresses themselves, which meant, of course, that they 
would have to be taken first before the advance could be con- 
tinued. Furthermore, the fortresses also acted as a barrier, pro- 
tecting the approaches to Kieff, enabling the undisturbed con- 
centration of an army in that protected zone while the enemy 
would be busily occupied in battering his way through the 
fortress triangle. The latter were still more strengthened by 
the Rivers Ikwa and Styr, which flow to the southwest and north 
of them. 

The fortifications of all these three points were not of par- 
ticularly recent origin, although they had been remodeled at 
various times since their original creation. Lutsk, a city of some 
twenty thousand inhabitants, is located on a small island of the 
Styr, and controls the Kovel-Rovno section of the Brest-Litovsk- 
Berticheff railroad. Some ten forts of various degrees of strength 
surrounded the central fortifications, forming a girdle of forts 
with a circumference of approximately ten miles. Dubno, south- 
east of Lutsk, a town of about fifteen thousand inhabitants, is lo- 
cated in the valley of Ikwa on its left bank, and protects the 



212 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Brody-Zdolbitsa section of the Lemberg-Rovno Vilna railroad, 
with its branches to Kovel, Brest-Litovsk, and to Kieff . The forts 
are not as numerous as at Lutsk, but are more advantageously 
located and, therefore, proved more difficult for the attacking 
Austro-Hungarian-German troops. Besides the Styr and Ikwa 
Rivers this comparatively small sector offers other natural ad- 
vantages in the form of a number of smaller streams, the defense 
of which is greatly assisted by the marshy condition of their 
banks and the heavy growth of underbrush to be found there. 

Rovno, the largest of the three cities, with about twenty thou- 
sand inhabitants, was first fortified in 1887, and as a railroad 
junction is even more important than either Lutsk or Dubno. 
Its fortifications are built to serve as a fortified bridgehead. They 
amount to seven forts of which five are located on the left bank 
of the Ustje and two on the right. These forts were built in the 
form of a semicircle, at a distance of four to six miles from the 
city itself and with a circumference of approximately twenty- 
five miles. Originally this group of fortresses undoubtedly was 
intended to act as a basis for a Russian invasion of Galicia and 
Hungary rather than as a means of defense against an invasion 
from these countries. And, indeed, in the earlier part of the 
war, when the Russians forced their way into Galicia and to the 
Carpathian Mountains, they fulfilled their purpose with greater 
success than they were destined to achieve now as a means of 
defense. 



CHAPTER XXV 



FIGHTING ON THE DVINA AND IN THE 
DVINA-VILNA SECTOR 

AT the time Warsaw fell, in the beginning of August, 1915, the 
- eastern front north of the Niemen extended as follows: 
Starting on the western shore of the Gulf of Riga, at a point 
about twenty miles west of Riga and about thirty miles north- 
west of Mitau it ran in » slightly curved line in a southeasterly 



FIGHTING ON THE DVINA 213 

direction to the town of Posvol on the Musha River, passing just 
west of Mitau and the River Aa, about ten miles west of Bausk. 
From Posvol a salient with a diameter of about twenty miles 
extended around Ponevesh on the Libau-Dvinsk railroad, with its 
most eastern point a few miles west of KupishM on the same 
railroad line. From there the southern side of the salient passed 
through Suboch and RogofF to Keydany on the Nievraza, and 
along the banks of that stream to its junction with the Niemen, 
about five miles west of Kovno. 

In a preceding chapter we have learned how this line was 
pushed back by the Germans during and following the drive on 
Kovno and Vilna. After Vilna's fall on September 18, 1915, the 
Germans had advanced along the western shore of the Gulf of 
Riga to Dubbeln, about ten miles west of Riga, at the Aa's delta. 
But, although the Germans succeeded in crossing the Aa at Mitau 
and establishing their positions to the east of that city, they were 
unable then, and in fact during the following months, to approach 
closer to Riga at that point, so that a salient was formed west of 
Riga, which at its widest point was over twenty miles distant 
from this point. Just south of Mitau, the south side of this 
salient bent almost straight to the east for a distance of thirty 
miles until it reached Uexkuell on the Dvina, about twenty 
miles southeast of Riga. From there the line followed almost 
exactly the east bank of the Dvina, passing through the im- 
portant towns of Friedrichstadt and Jacobstadt, from where 
it bent due south, gradually drawing away to the west of 
the Dvina River and passing west and southwest of Dvinsk 
at a distance of about ten miles. All along this line con- 
siderable fighting took place throughout September, 1915, as has 
already been narrated. 

During September 21-22, 1915, this fighting was especially 
severe west and southwest of Dvinsk, where the Germans were 
making unsuccessfully desperate efforts to break the Russian 
lines and get within striking distance of Dvinsk. However, al- 
though they managed to maintain their own lines against all 
Russian attacks and to gather in some 5,000 prisoners, they could 
not break the Russian defensive. 



214 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

The Russian forces at this point were led by General Russky, 
among whose commanders was Radko Dmitrieff, of Balkan War 
fame. Both of these generals are to be counted among the great- 
est Russian leaders and they were especially expert in everything 
that pertained to fortresses and their defense. As wonderful as 
the German military machine had proven itself, as severe as their 
often repeated offensives were, as superior as their supply of 
artillery and munitions was both in quality and quantity, Russky 
and Dmitrieff proved a good match for them all. The possession 
of Dvinsk at that particular moment would have meant an almost 
inestimable advantage to the Germans, just as its loss would have 
been apt to mean the complete rout of the Russians. For once the 
line broken to a sufficiently great width at that point, all the 
Russian forces having their basis on Petrograd, Smolensk, and 
Moscow might have been turned completely. 

This supreme importance of Dvinsk was understood equally 
well by both sides. On the part of the Germans this under- 
standing resulted in unceasing attacks by all available means 
and forces, while the Russians on their part were prepared to 
defend their positions with a stubbornness and determination 
unequaled by the case of any other fortress with the possible 
exception of Riga and Rovno. The harder the Germans drove 
their armies against Dvinsk the harder the Russians fought to 
repulse them. The latter were greatly assisted in this by the 
fact that strong reenforcements had been sent to this crucial 
point from Petrograd and from other interior points. Still more 
important was the beginning of considerable improvement in the 
Russian supply of guns and shells. Even though, in that respect, 
Russky was undoubtedly still far behind his German opponent, 
Von Hindenburg, yet he was at that moment in a much better 
position than any other Russian general. Dvinsk had to be held 
at all costs — the Russian General Staff apparently had decided — 
and to Dvinsk, therefore, were sent all available guns and 
munitions. 

Originally the fortress of Dvinsk was far from being up to 
date or particularly effective and imposing. It consisted of an 
old citadel which, it is true, had been improved considerably; but 



FIGHTING ON THE DVINA 215 

even then its outworks extended hardly farther than a mile beyond 
its own range. As soon as General Russky assumed command he 
began feverishly to improve these conditions. In this undertak- 
ing he was greatly assisted by the nature of the countryside sur- 
rounding Dvinsk. Immediately to the northwest, west, south, and 
southeast the River Dvina formed a strong line of natural de- 
fense. Beyond that was a region thickly covered with small and 
big lakes, which swung around Dvinsk as a center, in the form 
of an immense three-quarters circle, starting to the south of the 
Libau-Ponevesh-Dvinsk railroad and stopping just west of the 
Dvinsk-Pskoff-Petrograd railroad. The diameter of this circle 
varies from thirty miles to sixty. The ground between these 
lakes is swampy in many places, difficult of approach, and com- 
paratively easy to defend even against superior forces, especially 
because most of it is not entirely flat, but interspersed with hills 
and woodlands. 

Throughout this entire district the Russians built a dense 
network of trenches, and it was especially by means of these 
that the Germans were repulsed not only successfully but 
with great losses to their attacking forces. The more important 
of these earth fortifications were built in a novel fashion. The 
main part of each had the form of a crescent with its horns turned 
toward the enemy. Every attack from the latter, in order to find 
a point big enough for an effective attack, had to be frontal in 
nature; that means, it had to be directed against the main part 
of the crescent-shaped trench. But, whenever such a frontal at- 
tack would be executed and just as soon as the attackers would be 
inside of the sides of the crescent, machine guns and rifle fire 
from its two horns would hit them on both flanks and frequently 
destroy them utterly. In order to make the Germans advance far 
enough into the crescent, advanced trenches had been built in 
front of its horns, which were connected with the main part of 
the crescent by communicating trenches. 

These advanced trenches were manned by comparatively small 
forces, whose duty it was to offer a sufficiently strong resistance 
to draw a fairly good-sized number of Germans. This purpose 
having been accomplished the troops in the advanced trenches 



216 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

would give way and retire by means of the communicating 
trenches into their main positions. Again and again the Ger- 
mans followed them into the death-dealing hollow, to be decimated 
unmercifully in the manner described above. At the same time 
Russian guns would open fire and direct a sheet of shells toward 
the back of the attacker, thus cutting off most effectively any 
reenforcements which might have made it possible for the Ger- 
mans to either storm the main trench or withdraw at least that 
part of their attacking party which had not yet fallen prey to 
Russian ingenuity. It is said that General Russky contrived to 
throw out fortifications of this nature around Dvinsk in an im- 
mense circle which had a diameter of twenty miles and with its 
circumference formed a front of almost two hundred miles. Of 
course, this front was not in the form of an unbroken line. There 
were any number of places along it that could be occupied by the 
Germans practically at will. But once there the next advance 
would invariably bring them face to face with a new obstacle, kill 
hundreds of them, and frequently result in the withdrawal of the 
remnant to its main line, from where another advance would be 
attempted promptly on the next day. 

One other feature of these fortifications contributed a great 
deal to their becoming practically impregnable. The Russian 
engineering troops saw to it that all these works were built as 
narrow as possible and were dug as deep as the ground per- 
mitted. It was this fact which made the German artillery fire 
so surprisingly ineffective at this point. In spite of its unceasing 
fierceness the results it accomplished were as nothing compared 
with the effort and expense it involved. For, of course, no matter 
how brilliant the gunnery, how wonderful the cannon, how de- 
vastating the shells, if the target at which they are aimed is 
sufficiently far away and sufficiently small, the result will be dis- 
appointing; and the Russians at Dvinsk saw to it that the Ger- 
mans experienced a long series of costly and heartbreaking dis- 
appointments of that nature. 

A Hungarian staff correspondent, who was with Von Hinden- 
burg's army, had this to say about the siege of Dvinsk, or rather 
about the attacks on its outlying fortifications: "The German 



FIGHTING ON THE DVINA 217 

army could not make use of its heavy artillery, for it proved 
quite useless, owing to the extreme narrowness of the Russian 
trenches. In the lake district south of Dvinsk the Russians made 
the utmost of their natural defenses, and even the advanced 
trenches there were only occupied after very heavy losses, and 
then retained under the most trying circumstances. In taking 
Novo Alexandrovsk — a village about fifteen miles southwest of 
Dvinsk on the Dvinsk-Kovno post road — the losses incurred on 
our part were unprecedented in severity." 

Another correspondent in writing to his paper, the "Vossische 
Zeitung," describes the fortifications of Dvinsk as follows: 
"Every rod of land is covered with permanent trenches, roofed 
securely against shrapnel and shell fragments and connected 
with so-called 'fox holes' — small shelters in which the garrisons 
are safe against the heaviest shells. Sand trenches, skillfully 
laid out, so that they are mutually outflanking, smother explod- 
ing projectiles. The flanking fire of the machine guns often 
annihilates the assailants when they are apparently success- 
fully attacking. One company alone thus lost fifty-one dead 
in one day. Between September 15 and October 26, 1915, 
Dvinsk, in a way, was captured fifteen times, but it is still 
in Russian hands. The bombardment has reduced the fortress 
in size one-half without affecting in the least the strength of the 
remainder." 

South of Dvinsk, however, the Germans had been able to ad- 
vance their line slightly farther to the east. On September 27-28, 
1916, and the following days they were fighting on the shores of 
Lake Drysvidly, about ten miles east of the Dvinsk- Vilna railroad, 
and at Postavy, ten miles south of the Disna River, a southern 
tributary of the Dvina. Again on October 1, 1915, the Russians 
attacked north of Postavy, as well as south on the shores of Lakes 
Narotch and Vishneff , but without success. Throughout the next 
day the fighting continued, although not particularly severe. But 
on October 6, 1915, stronger Russian forces were again thrown 
against the German lines. In the beginning they gained ground 
at Koziany, on the Disna, and south on Lakes Drysvidly and Vish- 
neff, but the day's net results left the Germans in possession of 



218 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

their old positions. Russian attacks in that region during Oc- 
tober 7-8, 1915, suffered the same fate. 

On the latter day the Germans made an attack in force south 
of Ilukst, ten miles to the northwest of Dvinsk, and took the 
village of Garbunovka, capturing over 1,000 Russians and some 
machine guns. On the next day, October 9, 1915, the Russians 
attempted unsuccessfully to regain these positions and were also 
defeated to the west of Ilukst, north of the Ponevesh-Dvinsk rail- 
road. On the 10th, attacks west of Dvinsk and Vidzy, north of the ^ 
Disna, had no better results. 

Throughout the following week, October 10 to 17, 1915, the 
Russian army continuously attacked along the entire line 
west and sduth of Dvinsk. In some instances they suc- 
ceeded in breaking temporarily and for short distances through 
the German line. But in no case did this lead to a lasting 
success and, in some instances even, the Germans closed the line 
again so quickly that the Russian detachments who had broken 
through were cut off from their main body and fell into the 
hands of the Germans. 

Both on October 22 and 23, 1915, the Russians launched strong 
attacks near Sadeve, south of Kosiany, which were repulsed in 
both instances. On the latter day the Germans again attacked 
northwest of Dvinsk, near Ilukst, and captured some Russian posi- 
tions as well as over 3,500 men and twelve machine guns, main- 
taining their hold on the former in the face of strong Russian 
counterattacks on October 24, 1915. Small German detachments 
which had advanced toward the north of Ilukst on that day, how- , 
ever, had to give way promptly to superior Russian forces. In 
spite of this the Germans repeated the experiment on the follow- 
ing day with stronger forces and at that time gained their point. 
On October 26, 1915, the Germans broke through the Russian line 
south of the Ponevesh-Dvinsk railroad, between the latter city 
and the station of Abele, but had to give up part of the newly- 
gained positions during the night only to regain it again the next 
morning. A Russian attack against this position undertaken 
later on that day, October 27, 1915, broke down under German 
artillery fire, before it had fully developed. 



FIGHTING ON THE DVINA 21* 

In a similar way the most furious kind of fighting took place 
throughout this period on the Riga salient. There, too, the 
Russians, successfully held the Germans at a safe distance. In 
the second half of October, 1915, when Von Hindenburg ap* 
parently had become convinced that he would not succeed in tak- 
ing Dvinsk before the coming of winter, if at all, the German 
general began to shift the center of his operations toward the 
aorth and massed large forces against Riga. According to some 
reports as many as six army corps were concentrated at that 
point. The country there, though different from that in the 
vicinity of Dvinsk, was hardly less difficult for the Germans and 
offered almost as many opportunities for natural defenses to the 
Russians. 

- We have already described at the beginning of this chapter 
the exact location of the salient that ran around Riga from Dub- 
beln on the Gulf of Riga by way of Mitau to Uexkuell on the 
Dvina. The first sector of it — Dubbeln-Mitau — was approxi- 
mately twenty-five miles long, and the second — Mitau-Uexkuell — 
about thirty miles. On its western and northwestern side it was 
bounded to a great extent by the River Aa and by the eastern half 
of Lake Babit. The latter is about ten miles long, but only a 
Mttle more than one mile in width and runs almost parallel to part 
of the south shore of the Gulf of Riga, at a distance of about 
three miles. 

On its southern and southeastern sides the salient followed, for 
some ten miles, first the post road and then the railroad from 
Mitau to Kreutzburg on the Dvina — about fifty miles northwest 
of Dvinsk — and then turned to the northeast for another twenty 
miles or so. On this latter stretch it crossed two tributaries of 
the River Aa, the Eckau and the Misse. Through the entire depth 
of the salient, in a southwesterly direction from Riga, runs a 
section about twenty-five miles long of the Riga-Mitau-Iibau 
railroad, cutting it practically into two equal parts. Another 
railroad connects Riga with Dubbeln and still another with Uex- 
kuell, so that the Russians had good railroad communications to 
every point of the salient The inside of the latter, besides the 
rivers mentioned, contained some half dozen other smaller water- 



220 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

ways, tributaries of the Aa and Dvina, and was covered almost 
entirely with dense forests. In the center of these there are 
located extensive swamps known as the Tirul Marshes, and 
smaller stretches of swamp lands are also found in various other 
sections of these woods. 

With the exception of the Mitau-Riga railroad there are only 
two means of approaching Riga, a fairly good road that leads 
along Lake Babit from the Aa to Riga, and another that runs 
from Gross Eckau on the Eckau River through the woods by way 
of Kekkau to Riga and in its northern part parallels the Dvina. 
The latter stream widens considerably about ten or fifteen miles 
above Riga and forms many small islands, the largest of which 
is Dalen Island, just to the north of Kekkau. Separating it from 
the mainland is only a comparatively narrow arm of the Dvina. 
The northern tip of the island is solid, somewhat elevated 
ground, and commands the eastern main arm of the Dvina as 
well as its eastern bank. If the Germans could gain this island 
their chances of reaching Riga from the south would be many 
times increased. An attack in that direction had nothing to fear 
from a flanking movement on the part of the Russians, because 
the latter would be prevented from getting at their advancing 
enemy either from the west or northwest by the impassable Tirul 
Marshes. 

On October 16, 1915, the Germans decided to attempt this 
maneuver and made a rather unexpected attack east of Mitau 
and north of Eckau and forced the Russians back of the Misse 
River, an eastern tributary of the River Aa, near Basui, on which 
occasion they claimed to have captured over 10,000 men. Some 
more ground was gained in that neighborhood during the next 
three days. 

Immediately the Russians retaliated by an equally unexpected 
naval operation far to the north, at the western entrance to the 
Gulf of Riga. A Russian fleet appeared there and bombarded 
the ports of Domesnaes and Gipken. Detachments were landed. 
Although they destroyed some of the fortifications that had been 
erected there by the Germans and scattered the small forces 
which the Germans had there, they withdrew within a few days. 



FIGHTING ON THE DVINA 221 

This operation had practically no influence on the further devel- 
opments along the balance of the front, except that, threatening 
as it was for the time being to the German rear, it resulted in 
a temporary reduction of the pressure that the Germans were 
trying to exert from the south. 

One other attempt to reach Riga before the coming of winter 
was made toward the end of October. Apparently the German 
plan was to make a triple attack on the Baltic fortress. From 
the south another drive was made against Dalen Island. From 
the southwest the new offensive started from Mitau in the direc- 
tion of Olai along the Mitau-Riga railroad, and from the west 
reenf orcements that had been concentrated at Tukum advanced 
on both sides of Lake Babit. However, this offensive, too, was 
unsuccessful. Especially that started along the north shore of 
Lake Babit pro zed costly to the Germans. There the stretch of 
land between the gulf and the lake is nowhere more than three 
miles wide, and in many places not that wide. Through its entire 
length flows the Aa. It is only sparsely wooded. Comparatively 
small Russian forces successfully opposed the advancing Ger- 
mans, whose narrow front was easily dominated and driven back 
by machine guns and field artillery; from the gulf, too, Russian 
war vessels trained their guns on the Germans, and the attack 
was quickly broken up with considerable losses to the attackers 
and only small losses to the defenders. Against these conditions 
the Germans seemed to be helpless. They fell back along the 
north shore of Lake Babit and along the Aa toward their base 
at Schlock. This, of course, necessitated a simultaneous with- 
drawal of the German forces on the south shore of the lake. The 
Russians immediately followed up their advantage, and by No- 
vember 6, 1915, the Germans had withdrawn all their forces 
from along the north side of the Tirul Marshes. About that 
time the Germans withdrew beyond the Aa to its west bank, 
and on November 8, 1915, the Russians stormed the village of 
Kemmern, about five miles west of Schlock. During the next 
two weeks, November 8 to 22, 1915, continuous fighting took 
place to the north of the Schlock-Tukum railroad. This resulted 
in the storming by the Russians of the villages of Anting and 



222 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Ragasem on the shores of Lake Kanger and the withdrawal #f 
the Germans beyond the west shore of this lake. 

As early as the beginning of November weather conditions 
had made fighting on a large scale impossible for a few weeks. 
Attacks and counterattacks, such as we have just described, were 
still kept up in front of Dvinsk and Riga, it is true, but they 
gradually lost in extent and severity and brought practically no 
changes of any importance. Along the rest of the front, down 
to the Vilia, the fighting assumed, like everywhere else on the 
eastern front, the form of trench warfare, interrupted occasion- 
ally by artillery duels of considerable severity, doing, however, 
more damage to the landscape than to the military forces. Aero 
attacks on a small scale, too, were the order on both sides when- 
ever opportunity and climatic conditions permitted. This state 
of affairs continued throughout the months of November and 
December, 1915, and January and February, 1916. 

Throughout this period the Russo-German lines in the Dvina- 
Vilia sector remained practically unchanged, although, of course, 
minor readjustments took place here and there. In the north, 
along the Aa and Dvina, and before Dvinsk, it was still in the 
same position that has been described in the beginning of this 
chapter, except that it had been pushed back from Dubbeln to 
Lake Ranger, Kemmera, and the River Aa. At the point where it 
crossed the Vilna-Dvinsk railroad, about ten miles southwest of 
Dvinsk, it bent still more to the southeast, passed east of Lake 
Drysvidly, then about ten miles east of Vidzy, crossed the Disna 
near Koziany, and reached its most easterly point a few miles 
west of the village of Dunilovichy. From there it bent back 
again in a westerly direction, but ran still toward the south, 
about ten miles east of Lake Narotch, and at the same distance 
to the west of the town of Vileika to the Vilia, just north of 
Smorgon. 

In spite of all the severe fighting before Dvinsk and Riga, 
neither of these cities had yet been brought within the range 
of the majority of the German guns, even though continuous 
local successes had been gained on the part of the German troops. 
The losses which the latter suffered cannot be stated definitely. 



WINTER BATTLES ON THE STYR 223 

because no official figures, either Russian or German, are avail- 
able. They must have been severe, however. The net result 
of all the fighting in the region before Dvinsk, which had then 
been in progress practically for fifty days, therefore, was next 
to nothing for the Germans and hardly more for the Russians. 
Neither had been able to gain any definite success over the other. 
Throughout all this time the Germans not only made innumera- 
ble infantry attacks, but also kept up an incessant artillery fire, 
throwing as many as 100,000 shells a day against the Russian 
positions. That they did not gain their point speaks well, not 
only for the valor of the Russian army, but also for the ability 
of its leader, General Russky. 



CHAPTER XXVI 

WINTER BATTLES ON THE STYE AND 
STRYPA RIVERS 

AS the autumn of 1915 drew to an end and winter approached, 
- the fighting along the eastern front changed from attacks 
over more or less extensive spaces to trench warfare within very 
restricted territory and to artillery duels. This change took 
place, as we have already seen, as far as the front from the Vilia 
River down to the southern limits of the Pripet Marshes was 
concerned, as early as the end of September, 1915. Farther 
south, however, along the Styr and its tributary, the Ikwa, and 
in the region through which the Strypa, Sereth, and Dniester 
flow, in the Russian provinces of Volhynia and in Austro-Hun- 
garian East Galicia, the severest kind of fighting was kept up 
much longer. 

The preceding chapter carried us, as far as this territory was 
concerned, up to October 7, 1915. On that day the Russians 
attacked with all available forces of men and munitions along 
the entire Volhynian, Galician, and Bessarabian front. One of 
the principal points of contention was the little town of Tchar- 

O— War St.* 



224 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

torysk on the Styr, about five miles south of the Warsaw-Kovel- 
Kieff railroad. To the northwest of it the Germans under Gen- 
eral Linsingen began a counterattack on October 7, 1915, and 
threw the Russians across the Styr. A Russian counterattack, 
undertaken on the 8th with the object of regaining their lost 
position, was frustrated by artillery fire. To the north, just 
across the railroad at Rafalovka, attacks and counterattacks 
followed each other as regularly as day and night. For about 
two weeks a series of local engagements on this small front of 
ten or fifteen miles took place with such short periods of rest 
that one may well speak of them as the Battle of Tchartorysk. 
Neither side, however, seemed to be able to gain any marked 
advantage. 

About the 18th of October, 1915, the Russians succeeded, 
after bringing up reenforcements, in driving a wedge into 
the Austro-German line which they were able to maintain 
until October 21, 1915. On that day the Austro-Germans, too, 
brought up reenforcemento and started a strong offensive move- 
ment. From three sides the small salient was attacked near 
Okonsk, and after furious resistance it caved in. Russian coun- 
terattacks to the north and south, undertaken in order to relieve 
the pressure on the center, had no effect. The Russians were 
forced to retreat, and left 15 officers, 8,600 men, 1 cannon, and 
8 machine guns in the hands of their enemies. However, the 
Russians came on again and again, and the battle continued for 
a number of days. Step by step the Russian troops were forced 
back again toward the Styr. Village after village was stormed 
by the combined Austro-German forces. In many cases small 
villages changed hands three or four times in as many days. 
Not a day passed without repeated attempts on the part of both 
sides to break through the line. But though some of these were 
successful, sometimes for the Russians and sometimes for their 
adversaries, the gains were only temporary and local, and were 
usually wiped out again before long. On November 16, 1915, 
however, the Austro-German forces gained a decided victory 
over the Russians, who were thrown back to the east bank of 
the Styr under very heavy losses. By that time the winter 



WINTER BATTLES ON THE STYR 225 

weather had become too severe for extensive operations, and 
comparative inactivity ruled along: that part of the front. 

While the Battle of Tchartorysk was raging, engagements of 
varying importance and extent, but all of great severity and 
costly to victor and vanquished alike, took place at other parts 
of the Volhynian, Galician, and Bessarabian front. Just south 
of Tchartorysk, near Kolki on the Styr, Austrian troops gained 
additional territory on October 7, 1915, Still farther south at 
Olyka, west of Rovno, the Russians were thrown back by a 
bayonet attack, carried out by two Austro-Hungarian infantry 
regiments. On the Ikwa, northwest of Eremenets, a very bitter 
struggle ensued for the village of Sopanov, which during one 
day, October 7, 1915, changed hands not less than four times, 
but finally remained in the possession of Austro-Hungarian 
forces west of Tarnopol. Russian attacks gained temporary 
successes, which were lost again when German and Austro- 
Hungarian reenforcements were brought to their assistance. 
On October 8, 1915, these attacks were not only repeated, but 
new attacks developed on the Strypa at Buczacz, Tluste, and 
Burkanov, which, however, were all repulsed. During these two 
days the Russians lost over 6,000 men on the Styr and Strypa 
Rivers. Again, on October 9-10, 1915, the Russians attacked 
along these two waterways and on the Ikwa. On the latter day 
four separate attacks were launched at Burkanov alone. On 
the 14th another attempt was made to break through the line 
west of Tarnopol. Then a period of comparative rest set in for 
about a week. 

But on October 20, 1915, a new Russian attack near Novo 
Alexinez, a small border village, resulted in a slight gain, which, 
however, could not be enlarged in spite of heroic efforts. An 
attack east of Zaloshe on the Sereth was likewise without suc- 
cess. Both of these were repeated on October 21-22, 1915, without 
better results. During the next week the fighting was reduced 
considerably in volume and severity, until on October 30, 1915, 
a new attack with replenished forces against the Strypa line 
started the ball rolling once more. On the same day a Russian 
aeroplane was brought down southeast of Lutsk. 



226 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

According to official figures published by the General Staffs 
of the German and Austro-Hungarian armies respectively, the 
Russian losses during the month of October, 1915, amounted to 
244 officers, 41,000 men, 23 cannon, and 80 machine guns, all 
captured by German forces, and 142 officers, 26,000 men, 1 can- 
non, 44 machine guns, and 3 aeroplanes captured by the Austro- 
Hungarian troops. Corresponding figures for the armies of the 
Central Powers are not available. 

On the last day of October, 1915, renewed fighting broke out 
again on the Strypa, near Sikniava, where the Russians had con- 
centrated strong forces. The Austrians met a strong attack 
with a prompt counterattack and carried the day. As before, 
the fighting, once started at one point on the Strypa, quickly 
spread. On November 2, 1915, the engagement at Sikniava was 
continued, and a new attack developed near Buczacz with the 
usual more or less negative result for both sides — maintenance 
of all attacked positions without gain of new territory. Another 
series of very bitter clashes occurred between November 4-7, 
1915, near the village of Sienkovce on the Strypa. During the 
same period fighting went on also at many other points of that 
small river, which by this time had seen the flow of almost as 
much blood as water. 

Southeast of the village of Visnyvtszyk on the Strypa seven 
separate Russian attacks were launched within these four days. 
On the 7th a strong attack was made also in the neighborhood of 
Dubno from the direction of Rovno without gaining ground. 
Isolated attacks of varying extent took place for a few more days. 
But by that time severe winter weather restricted operations in 
this sector just as it had done along the balance of the eastern 
front. Of course occasional attacks were started whenever a lull 
in the snowstorms or a favorable change in temperature made it 
possible. But, generally speaking, the Styx and Strypa section 
now settled down to trench fighting, artillery duels, and minor 
engagements between advanced outposts. The Russian losses 
during the month of November, 1915, as far as they were in- 
flicted by Austro-Hungarian troops, totaled 78 officers, 12,000 
men, and 32 machine guns. 



WINTER BATTLES ON THE STYR 227 

Late in December, 1915, on the 24th, the Russians, disregard- 
ing climatic conditions, once more began an extensive offensive 
movement in East Galicia and on the Bessarabian border, with 
Czernovitz, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian province of 
Bukowina, as its apparent objective. It lasted until January 15, 
1916, or twenty-three days, interrupted only occasionally by a day 
or two of slightly decreased activity. Its net result for the Rus- 
sian army, in spite of very heavy losses in killed, wounded, and 
captured, was only the certainty of having inflicted fairly heavy 
losses on the German and Austro-Hungarian troops opposing 
them. Territory they could not gain, at least not to a large 
enough extent to be of any influence on the further development 
of events. The severest fighting during these operations took 
place near Toporoutz and Rarawotse on the Bessarabian bor- 
der. Much of it was at very close range, and on many days the 
Russians made three and four, sometimes even more, successive 
attacks against one and the same problem. Especially bitter 
fighting occurred on January 11, 1916, when one position was 
attacked five times during the day and a sixth time as late as 
ten o'clock that night. 

Coinciding with the Russian attempt to break once more 
through the Austro-Hungarian line into the Bukowina, attacks 
were launched from time to time at various places on the 
Dniester, Sereth, and Strypa, especially in the vicinity of 
Buczacz. None of these, however, had any effect, nor were 
other very occasional attacks west of Rovno and on the Styr of 
more avail. During the three weeks of fighting the Russians, 
according to official Austro-Hungarian figures, lost over 5,000 
men by capture. 

After a few days' lull the Russian armies began another 
battle with strong forces near Toporoutz and Bojan, east of 
Czernovitz, on January 18, 1916. The severity of the fighting 
increased on the next day, January 19, 1916, and at the same 
time heavy artillery fire was directed against many other points 
along the East Galician front. Again the Russians suffered 
severe losses during their repeated storming attacks against the 
strongly fortified positions of the Austro-Hungarian troops. 



228 



THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 



'SALT/ 



h=$ £A 



6 t» ■» Tt M • m 




THE BATTLE FRONT IN RUSSIA, JANUABY 1, 1916 



ON THE TRACKS OF RUSSIAN RETREAT 229 

After two days' preparation, by means of artillery fire, another 
attack was thrust against the Toporoutz section on January 22, 
1916, but when this, too, did not bring the desired result the 
Russians apparently lost heart. For, from then on for the bal- 
ance of January, 1916, as well as through the entire month of 
February, 1916, they made further attacks only at very rare 
intervals, but otherwise restricted themselves to artillery duels 
and trench fighting. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

ON THE TRACKS OF THE RUSSIAN 
RETREAT 

TN the preceding chapters we have followed, day by day, the 
-*- military events of the Russian retreat and of the German 
advance after the fall of Warsaw and Ivangorod. With admira- 
tion we have heard of the deeds of valor accomplished by the 
various armies of the three belligerents. The endurance that 
they displayed, the hardships that they had to bear, the losses 
that they suffered — both victor and conquered — have given us a 
clearer idea what war means to the men that actually wage it. 
Occasionally we have had glimpses of the devastation that it 
brings to the country over the hills and valleys and over the 
plains and forests of which it rages. Again and again we have 
been told of the horrible suffering and utter ruin which was the 
share of the civic population, rich and poor, young and old, man, 
woman, or child. But these latter features are apt to be over- 
shadowed by the more sensational events of battle and siege, 
and in the excitement of these we easily lose sight of the tremen- 
dous drama in which not trained soldiers act the parts, but 
ordinary everyday beings, farmers and merchants, working men 
and women, students and scholars, people of every age, race, 
and condition, people just like we ourselves and like those with 
whom we come in daily contact throughout our entire life. And 



230 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

yet their numbers run into the tens of millions as compared 
with the hundreds of thousands or perhaps four or five millions 
of soldiers, and it is their suffering — bared as it is of the glory 
and excitement that usually lightens the life of the fighting man 
— that is the quintessence of war's tragedy. 

No one who has not been himself a participant or an actual 
observer of these horrors can really and truly gauge their full 
extent or describe them adequately. But a clear record of them 
is as much an essential requirement of a war's history as a 
chronological narration of its various events. In the following 
paragraphs will be found gathered reliable reports based on the 
keen observation of men who in their capacity as special cor- 
respondents of various newspapers had opportunities to collect 
and observe facts at close range and the very vicinity where 
they transpired. They come from various sources, but chiefly 
from the narrative of a war correspondent published in the 
Munich "Neueste Nachrichten," who was himself an eyewitness 
of what he describes. Although they refer more especially to 
that part of Russia that is situated between the Galician border 
and the fortress of Brest-Litovsk — the region of the Bug River 
— they might have been written equally well of any part 
or all of the eastern theatre of war, for they are typical 
of what happened throughout that vast territory that stretches 
from the eastern front as it stood at the time of Warsaw's 
fall in the beginning of August, 1915, to that other line 
that formed a new front, much farther to the east, when the 
German advance into Russia came to an end in the latter part of 
October, 1915: 

"The first anniversary of the war had just passed. Again 
summer was upon us, like in those days of mobilization. The. 
atmosphere was full with memories of the beginning of the 
campaign. Out of Galicia an endless column rolled to the north 
into Poland. The old picture: the creaking road, overloaded 
with marching troops, with artillery lustily rolling forward, 
with caravans of supply trains. Repeating itself a thousandfold, 
the sum total of the mass deepened the impression and made 
the idea of the 'supreme command of an army' appear like a 



ON THE TRACKS OF RUSSIAN RETREAT 231 

fairy tale. Supply wagon after supply wagon, mile after mile, 
in a long, never-breaking chain! 

"The greater the distance of the observer, the deeper becomes 
the impression of the general impulse of advance, of the same- 
ness of its direction and motion. Can we see a difference as 
compared with earlier times? Can we notice if the new class 
•f soldiers are equal to the older; if the horses are in the same 
good condition as before? All in all, it is the same play, even 
if with new actors in its parts, which was acted before us during 
the very first days of the war, never to be forgotten : a variety 
•f types, unified by the purpose that was common to all. . . . 
Of course, the close observer will always be able to make distinc- 
tions. To him all soldiers are not just soldiers. Through their 
uniforms he will recognize the farmer, the artisan, the factory 
hand, the slim young volunteer, the genial *Landwehr' or *Land- 
sturm' man, the teacher, schoolboy, student, clerk, and profes- 
sional soldier. 

"Before them stretches a new country. Broader plains, lower 
ranges of hills than in Galicia. To the right and left, as far as 
the eye reaches, fields, meadows, and swamps. Here and there, 
v'ndmills. Immense forests, different from those they knew at 
home: pines, oaks, and birches, all mixed together, with some 
ash-trees and poplars, only slightly cut down and low of growth. 
The retreating Russians have tried everywhere to burn down 
forest and field, but have destroyed in most places only narrow 
strips and small spots that look now like islands : there the trees 
have been bared of their foliage in the middle of the summer 
as if it were the early spring, and the pines are red and brown 
like beech trees in the winter time. Every few miles trenches 
and shelters had been cut into the landscape and ran across field 
and forest, hills and valleys, masterpieces of their kind, cun- 
ningly hidden, partly untouched. Alongside the road there were 
many, many soldiers 1 graves, singly or sometimes combined into 
small cemeteries. The Russians bury their dead with devotion. 
Double-armed Greek crosses betray their burial places. . . . But 
not always did they find time during their retreat. Occasionally 
a penetrating odor of decay announces the fact that some of 



232 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

their dead had to be deprived of burial. Then, very rarely only, 
indeed, one comes across black, swollen corpses, so terribly 
gnawed and disfigured by millions of small crawling animals, 
that all individuality, all humanity, has been destroyed. 

"The advance moves on for miles on curious roads. Are these 
still roads? There is no foundation. Just cuts have been made 
into the ground, which is sandy here and muddy there and again 
swampy. During dry weather they take turns in being dusty 
like the desert, or hard as stone or gently yielding; during rain 
they are without exception unreliable, spiteful, dangerous. The 
burden of the uninterrupted transport traffic escapes to the left 
and to the right farther and farther into the edges of the Adds, 
cutting off continuously new widths of wheel tracks so that 
roadways are formed 150 to 300 feet wide, which narrow down 
only at bridges or fords by sheer necessity. All bridges, even 
those that have been spared by the Russians, have to be solidly 
renewed and supported, for they had never been intended for 
such demands. Across furrows and deeply cut wheel tracks, 
across loose footbridges, through puddles that are more like 
ponds, and through deep holes, motorcars — fast automobiles and 
gigantic motor trucks — rush and rumble madly, from time to 
time helplessly sinking down into the mud and mire till relays 
of horses and the force of the next detachment pushing forward 
on its way rescues them and they are off again. 

"The road is lined with a sad seam of dead horses. Still other 
cadavers poison the air and entice swarms of greedy crows. The 
Russians have killed all cattle which they were unable to carry 
along quickly enough or to eat upon the spot, and then left the 
carcasses on or alongside the road : cattle, pigs, sheep have been 
shot down in this fashion, so that the pursuer should find no 
other booty than ashes and carrion. 

"At some distance from the line of march there may be left 
some untouched villages, sound, normal, human settlements. But 
one does not see them. Wherever the fighting has been going 
on, we pass by debris and ruins. Big villages have been burned 
from one end to the other into empty rows of chimneys and 
blackened heaps of tumbled-down houses. 



ON THE TRACKS OF RUSSIAN RETREAT 28S 

"The churches alone sometimes have been shown some respect. 
As far as they have not been riddled by shells or have not lost 
their roofs, they are still standing, clean and almost supernat- 
ural with their white or pink wooden walls, their shrilly blue 
er deep red domes, and their shining gilt decorations. Every- 
thing else has gone up in flames or has been shot to pieces. 

"Out of the general wreckage a few utensils and pieces of fur- 
niture stick out here and there : bent beds, crumpled-up sewing 
machines, half-melted pans and pots. Sometimes it is even 
possible to form an idea of the former appearance of a house 
from the design of its blackened wall paper or from a few rem- 
nants of some other decorations. Here and there small corners 
and nooks have been preserved as if by a miracle, and, in some 
unaccountable way, have survived the ruin that surrounds them 
en all sides: strips of a flower garden, or perhaps a summer- 
house with a table in it and a cover and breakfast dishes on the 
table. 

"Up on a chimney, half of which has tumbled down, stands a 
stork, as if he were meditating over the ruin wrought by human 
lumds; suddenly he pulls himself together, spreads out his wings 
with quick decision, floats down into his familiar pond and for- 
gets the raving of maddened mankind in the enjoyment of a 
juicy frog. Through the labyrinth of a fallen-down barn limps 
a big black cat, tousled and scratched, already half-maddened 
from hunger, vicious like a wounded panther. Along what had 
been once streets run packs of dogs gone wild, restlessly smelling 
at dirt and corpses, growing bolder day by day until finally they 
have to be shot down. 

"Only few people can stand it on this God-forsaken stage of 
misery. Occasionally a few thin Jews in their long coats walk 
across the ruins of the market place, which look like a stage 
setting. On their shoulders they carry in a bundle their few 
belongings, like pictures of the Wandering Jew. Their families 
live for a short time from whatever they can scratch together 
from the ruins or out of the trampled-down fields. They cook 
and bake on one of the stoves standing everywhere right out in 
the open road and offer their poor wares for exhibition and sale 



234 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

on a few boards, a last effort to support life by trade. In the case 
of the women, no matter what the nationality, it always seems as 
if they had saved out of the horrible destruction only their best 
and brightest clothes. At a distance their colors shine and 
smile as if nothing at all had happened. But upon coming up 
closer, one can easily see how little these unfortunate beings 
carry on their poor backs. 

"More than once we stand perplexed before the touching pic- 
ture of a short rest on the 'flight to Egypt/ A little family — is 
it the only one that has remained behind when everybody else 
wandered away, or have they already come back home because 
there was nothing better to be found out in the world? In the 
garden of a plundered farmhduse they have put up a poor imita- 
tion of a stable out of charred boards, and in it they live more 
poorly than the poorest gypsies. Their lean cow has been tied 
to a bush; among the trampled-down vegetables their equally 
lean mule grazes. The mother squats on the ground, nursing a 
child, while father and son are stirring up a heap of glowing 
ashes and roasting a handful of potatoes that they have dug 
up somewhere. 

"The return pilgrimage of the natives has already begun at an 
extensive rate. The advancing Germans are met everywhere 
by long lines of them, on foot and in wagons, carrying with them 
carefully and lovingly the few remnants of their herds. What 
has been their experience? 

"One nice day the Cossacks had appeared at their farms and 
had told them : 'Not a soul is allowed to remain here. The Ger- 
mans are approaching and the Germans will torture you all to 
death if they catch you. Take with you whatever you can carry. 
Everything else must be burned and destroyed, so that the Ger- 
mans won't find anything that they can use/ That was enough 
to make these poor, ignorant farmers take leave of their 
homesteads. By the thousands they wandered off quickly and 
without much hesitation. Some were driven away like so much 
cattle, day by day farther into an uncertain future. Others 
were carried in long columns of wagons to the nearest railroad 
and still others were led orderly by their own mayors and vil- 



ON THE TRACKS OF RUSSIAN RETREAT 235 

lage elders. In the inland of the Empire they were to found for 
themselves new homes. The czar was going to look after them. 
Russia is powerful and rich. It will lure the Germans into 
its swamps so that they will drown there miserably. It will 
draw them all the way to Moscow and there they will experience 
the deadly fate of 1812. Just like Napoleon will the Germans 
suffer this time. This patriotic hope, however, did not com- 
pensate the farmers for their lost homes. It is true the; 
get enough to eat every day. At their resting places they 
are fed from field kitchens supplied and equipped by the Rus- 
sian army and administered by civil committees. Hunger 
they did not need to suffer. But for all that, their home- 
sickness will not down, and the dislike of the continuous 
wandering, the aversion to strange places, the loathing of the 
tmorderly, irregular life of nomads strengthens their deter- 
mination to turn off their road at the first opportunity and to 
seek the long way back to their village, in spite of the terrible 
Germans. 

"But in the meantime the world has been turned upside down, 
their homes are unrecognizable; nothing, absolutely nothing, is 
as it used to be. Wherever there is the smallest nook that has 
remained inhabitable, some stranger has built a nest. The new 
authorities speak German, rule German, and run things in a 
German way. The need to protect themselves against epidemics, 
and political prudence, demand that these homeless wanderers 
should not be permitted to wander around any longer at will. 
Into cities they are not allowed to enter, or even to pass through 
them. Out in the country, the field police watch them care- 
fully, for more and more frequently adventurous groups are 
formed — states in a very small way and without any regard for 
anybody else. Strong fellows with plenty of nerve use this rare 
opportunity, make themselves leaders and dictators of these 
groups, organize new communities, which they rule with a 
strong hand, make laws, inflict punishments, and impose their 
will just as they please. That makes it necessary for the Ger- 
man authorities to interfere promptly and to bring order and 
authority to bear on these insecure conditions. The population 



236 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

is registered and no one is allowed to immigrate or to emigrate 
without the proper papers. 

"Of course, there are also good, carefully tended main roads 
besides the bad country paths, and some of them are even paved 
for miles. One of these runs right straight from the south 
toward the Polish city of Cholm. For miles one can see this 
road, which looks like a ribbon that grows narrower and nar- 
rower all the time; in the background is a forest, through and 
beyond which the road runs. At the farther end of the forest, 
on the shoulders of a hill, are the white buildings of the monas- 
tery of the Russian bishopric of Cholm. Only when one comes 
within a few hundred steps of these buildings does one see the 
low, long, stretched-out little town in line with the ridge of the 
hills that drop away to the north. . . . 

"A little farther on, to the northweot of this little eountry 
town, is the larger, rich city of Lublin. There all the advantages 
of civilization are in evidence : street cars, electric lights, depart- 
ment stores, coffee houses. But here, too, war, want, and misery 
have left their impression on everything: old men, women, chil- 
dren in rags, asking for shelter and stretching out their thin 
arms for bread. On all the squares troops pass and cross each 
other, delaying the traffic. There are Germans and Austro- 
Hungarians in long columns and then again a long line of Rus- 
sian prisoners of war, marching to work. Among the well- 
dressed ladies and gentlemen only rarely some figures remind 
one of the fact that this is Eastern Europe : tall, thin Jews in 
their long caftans and Jewish women with their unnatural wigs; 
male and female beggars there are in great numbers, and they 
are so hungry looking and ragged, so deep-eyed and sickly, that 
one can hardly manage to swallow one's food in their vicinity, 
if one happened to have chosen a seat on the terrace of one of 
the hotels. 

"A few days later Brest-Litovsk was taken. Behind the 
troops that stormed the fortifications during the night and thus 
forced the fall of the city, pressed from early morning great 
masses of the Austro-Hungarian and German armies. They 
came on over all the roads: infantry, artillery, cavalry, 



ON THE TRACKS OF RUSSIAN RETREAT 237 

engineering troops, supply detachments, and in between, impa- 
tiently puffing, the automobiles of the higher staff officers, every- 
body eager to enter the big fortress and to get hold of the big 
booty. 

"But what a disappointment! From far off clouds of dust 
and smoke announced the fate of this famous fortress. The 
bridges across the Bug had all been destroyed, those of steel 
blown up and the wooden ones burned. Only slowly separate 
small units managed to cross on temporary narrow bridges to the 
citadel. Everything else crowded together on both sides of the 
road and spread out into the fields, filling the flat surrounding 
country as far as the eye could reach with one single, immense, 
many colored war camp: groups of horses, field kitchens, resting 
infantrymen, innumerable white backs of wagon after wagon. 

'Whoever managed to enter Brest-Litovsk saw for the first 
time a big city devastated and ruined as pitilessly as formerly 
only villages had been made to suffer. Hundreds and hundreds 
•f houses, once human habitations, now smashed down to their 
very foundations, or mangled so as to have lost all meaning, 
ruins containing nothing but broken stones and ashes and at 
the best here and there a stair banister, suspended in midair. 
And all destruction had not been wrought as a result of a long 
siege and its continuous assaults of gunfire and shells. In one 
night, at the command of the Russian authorities, this Russian 
city had been laid waste. Only about one-quarter of it had 
remained entirely or partly habitable. Only in the citadel were 
there left supplies of any great amount. There quite some 
quantities of flour and canned food, weapons and munitions, 
war and railroad equipment, had escaped the well-prepared 
explosion, and had been saved only because there had not been 
enough time to complete the work of destruction and to explode 
all the mines that had been laid. A happy exception among this 
horrible riot of wholesale destruction was found occasionally in 
the case of some few estates of the Polish nobility. In some way 
they escaped here and there and were passed by without suffer- 
ing demolition and despoliation in spite of the fact that the vil- 
lages near which they were usually located were almost always 



238 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

masses of smoking: ruins. The manor houses of some of these 
estates often became the temporary lodging of some division or 
even some army corps staff. For they filled one of the chief 
requirements for such headquarters : a sufficiency of many large, 
light rooms which permitted to combine the necessary offices 
with the officers 9 quarters under the same roof. Every high 
command needs a number of offices for its various branches of 
service, in war as well as in peace. At that, war demands a 
hundredfold measure of ready cooperation and punctual working 
together. What happens from early in the morning, far into 
the night and often throughout the night in these offices dur- 
ing the course of a lively action on the battle field is nothing more 
or less than administrative activity as it is known to us and 
practiced in peace, but of a degree of activity, responsibility, and 
decision, of an importance and variety as times of peace do not 
demand from an army officer. 

"Day and night numerous telegraphs and telephones, estab- 
lished often by means of very skillful and exposed connections, 
receive reports, communications, inquiries, and requests from the 
front and transmit orders, instructions, decisions, and informa- 
tion to the front, and at the same time maintain a similar service 
with superior headquarters. The number of subjects which have 
to be watched continuously is legion: movements of their own 
and the enemy's forces ; changes in their own and the opponent's 
positions; news and scouting service; losses, reserves; lodging, 
provisioning, arming of the troops; sanitation, prevention of 
epidemics, ambulances, hospitals; counting and handling of 
booty and prisoners; military law, religious matters, gifts; 
health and continuity of the supply of mounts ; climate, weather, 
condition of the water; condition of streets, bridges, fortifica- 
tions; means of intercourse and traffic of all kinds; railways, 
mails, wagons, motors, pack animals; aeroplanes; telegraph and 
wireless stations. 

"And all these matters, within a certain group of the army, 
change hourly, perhaps, and are continuously subject to unex- 
pected modifications; at the same time they depend in their 
outward relations on events that happen in other adjoining army 




i 



r 



i 



i\ 
l\ 

li 



1 

n 

i\ 
I 
f| 

S' 
I 



ON THE TRACKS OF RUSSIAN RETREAT 239 

groups, on the general military and political conditions, on the 
decisions and interference of general headquarters. And if the 
staff quarters of two or three army groups have to consult with 
each other about every action and re-action before they make 
their various moves, unceasing activity must be displayed by 
everyone in order to accomplish all that each day demands. This 
activity which at one and the same time actuates and report*, 
acta, observes, and accounts, requires the possession of many 
manly virtues : the energy of strong nerves, clearness, wisdom, 
knowledge, self-consciousness, and decision. Every commander 
shares in it. But the greatest demands are made by it on the few 
supreme commanders on whom depends the fate of millions. 

"Thus the summer months quickly passed by. As they passed, 
the advance continued. In spite of this, however, the crops were 
brought in from the fields so recently conquered. And what was 
accomplished in this direction will some day form a separate 
chapter in the economical history of this war. 

"Much of the crops, of course, had been destroyed. In many 
other cases all the agricultural machines and implements had 
been carried off or destroyed. And then there was a great lack 
of labor. What was there to be done? Under the leadership of 
officers with agricultural experience separate commissions were 
formed. They gathered up all the implements and machines that 
could be found or could be repaired again and then ordered by 
the hundred and thousand from the country in the rear what 
they still lacked and soon battalions of war prisoners were busy 
peacefully gathering in Hie wheat in the fields. Before long 
the harvest had been completed. Threshers and threshing ma- 
chines were put to work. Wherever flour mills were in condition 
to allow of repairs, mechanics were set to this task. And soon a 
steady stream of flour poured forth that enabled the invaders to 
feed their armies, their prisoners, and whatever part of the civil 
population had returned, to a great extent from supplies raised 
and gathered in the occupied region itself, a remarkable success 
gained from a combination of German organization, Russian 
labor, and Polish versatility." 

P— War St. 4 



240 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

SIDELIGHTS ON THE RUSSIAN RETREAT 
AND GERMAN ADVANCE 

THE difficulties which the Austro-German troops encountered 
in pursuing the withdrawing Russians were in many in- 
stances greatly increased by the very strong field fortifications 
which the Russians had thrown up everywhere to stem the ad- 
vance of the enemy. How effective these fortifications were 
may be readily understood from the following description 
which is taken from the report of a special correspondent of 
a south German newspaper who had an opportunity to in- 
spect these positions soon after they had been wrested from the 
Russians : 

"In fortifying this position the Russians had indeed created 
a masterwork of modern field fortification. Deep, broad trenches 
had been fitted so closely to the landscape that in most 
instances they could be recognized as such only at very close 
distances. Almost all these trenches had been covered with a 
fivefold layer of tree trunks, on top of which there was to be 
found another layer of earth and over that again a solid layer 
of sod. The wooden pillars which supported this covering had 
in many places been fastened by means of wooden plugs into 
strong tree trunks, which in turn had been deeply imbedded in 
the bottom of the trench. Everywhere there were to be found 
openings for one and sometimes even two or three sharpshooters 
or for machine guns. Powerful shelters had been erected as a 
protection against shrapnel. Everywhere the trenches had been 
located in such a manner that one would outflank the other. In 
all the trenches there were to be found shelters, many of which 
were spacious enough to allow a whole company to retreat to 
them, and to these the Russians withdrew whenever the Ger- 
man artillery fire was directed against the trenches. These 
shelters were deep down below the ground ; their entrances were 
comparatively small and protected with manifold layers of rail- 



RUSSIAN RETREAT AND GERMAN ADVANCE 241 

road rails. In front of these positions had been erected strong 
successive lines of entanglements which consisted partly of 
barbed wire and partly of strong abatis, formed of trees and 
their branches. In front of one section of these trenches the 
Russians had cut down a piece of woodland between 150 and 300 
feet wide. They had then left the trees on the ground wherever 
they happened to have fallen and covered the entire space with 
a confusion of barbed-wire entanglements." 

Another difficult problem which confronted both the Russians 
in their retreat and the Germans in their advance was that of 
transportation, especially in the region between the Vistula and 
the Bug Rivers. Not only is the number of railroads in that terri- 
tory very small, but neither side had available a large enough 
number of railroad cars to transport the large number of men 
and vast quantities of equipment involved. This necessitated the 
creation of new means of transportation. Acording to a corre- 
spondent of the Hungarian newspaper "Az Est" the problem was 
solved by the Austro-German armies in a remarkable way. In 
the first place the number of horses before each wagon was in- 
creased. Where formerly two horses had been used, four were 
employed now, and where four used to be considered sufficient the 
number was increased to six. This resulted in an unending line 
of giant transports drawn by teams of four and six horses like 
they had never been seen before. 

The work of these horses was greatly lightened by field rail- 
ways. So quickly were these built that they seemed to grow 
right out of the ground. In some places industrial railways of 
this nature, already in existence, were utilized. Both steam and 
horsepower were used on these railways. Valleys were bridged 
over; gradients were reduced by every available means. 
At regular distances pleasant little block houses were to 
be found, which served as stations and guardhouses. The con- 
dition of the roads did not permit the use of motor trucks to any 
great extent, but wherever there was even a thread of possi- 
bility for motor trucks to get through they were promptly called 
upon to assume a leading part as a means of transportation. 
The immensity of the problem may well be understood by the fact 



242 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

that approximately two thousand automobiles of all kinds were 
employed by the German army of the Bug River. 

All of this could be moved quickly. Everything that was 
necessary to make repairs was carried along. Supplies were 
heaped on motor trucks, and the officers in charge of supplies 
and equipment lived in automobiles which had been fitted up 
like rooms. The supply and equipment departments had their 
own electric-lighting system and their separate wireless. This 
vast establishment could be mobilized in twenty-four hours, and 
its completeness, swiftness, efficiency, and punctuality were not 
only a triumph of modern industry, but were among the chief 
contributing causes for the Austro-German success in over- 
powering obstacles and difficulties, and for the fact that through- 
out the entire campaign in Russian Poland the troops never 
suffered lack of provisions and munitions. 

The Russian retreat brought untold misery to the civil popu- 
lation of those parts of Russia which were affected by it. Espe- 
cially true was this of those sections in which the Russian 
authorities decreed that the civil population had to become 
participants in the retreat and leave their homes and goods to 
the mercy of the invaders. The terrible suffering and misery 
resulting from these conditions will, perhaps, become more 
vivid from the following details taken from some Russian 
newspapers which will give an idea of the conditions: "In 
Moscow all railroad stations are overcrowded with refugees. 
Most of these are unable to leave the freight cars in which they 
had arrived because the tortures of hunger and thirst which they 
had to suffer during their trip had been too much for them. 
Thousands upon thousands of these unfortunate beings had been 
struck down by sickness, and as far as the capacity of the Mos- 
cow hospitals allowed had been cared for, while still other thou- 
sands had to be satisfied with accommodations in the open squares 
and streets of the city, while others were removed farther east in 
order to reduce the overcrowded conditions of the city. Every 
day some ten thousand refugees were sent east by way of 
Smolensk, Orel, and Tula. Among these were many thousands 
of German colonists who had formerly been residents of Cholm 



RUSSIAN RETREAT AND GERMAN ADVANCE 243 

and Volhynia, but had been removed from there by order of the 
Russian Government previous to the Russian retreat. The fate 
of all these hundreds of thousands of refugees by the time winter 
will have arrived will be horrible. What, for instance, will 
happen to about thirty thousand farmers from Galicia who 
were removed by force and now are located in a concentration 
camp on the River Slucz with nothing over their heads except 
the sky?" 

From all parts of the Russian Empire involved in the German 
advance, streams of these unfortunate victims of war were con- 
tinuously flowing toward the east. One of the chief reasons for 
the extensive misery which they had to suffer was the fact that 
the Russian organization, which even in times of peace does not 
work any too well, broke down completely under this unexpected 
and unparalleled demand on its resources. In spite of the fact 
that the larger number of these refugees were driven east by 
the special and express command of the Russian authorities, the 
latter had made no preparations to take care of them nor did 
they seem to show much worry concerning their fate. Even 
some of the high Government officials pointed out to the respon- 
sible Government departments that, as long as the Government 
had driven these unfortunate human beings away from their 
own homesteads without, in most cases, giving them time to 
gather in even their most necessary belongings, it had become 
the Government's duty to provide for them elsewhere in some 
fashion. If one considers that most of these people were without 
any resources whatsoever, and that the housing and feeding of 
such vast masses demanded the expenditure of large sums of 
money, which apparently were not available, it will easily be 
understood that all these men, women, and children of all ages 
and conditions suffered not only untold inconveniences, but actu- 
ally the pangs of hunger and thirst, which in a great many 
instances resulted in the outbreak of epidemics and in the 
decimation of whole camps. 

How a civilian observer was struck by some of the conditions 
in Poland may be gleaned from a description in one of the Ger- 
man monthly magazines rendered by an artist who accompanied 



244 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

one of the German armies on its invasion of Poland : "Of course 
the first thing: one learns to know is the horrible condition of 
roads in Russia. . . . One of the other main difficulties is the 
lack of cleanliness which results in so many epidemics among 
the population. These two conditions presented serious problem* 
to the invading army; for, of course, it became necessary to 
remove the difficulties arising from them as much as possible. . . . 

"The water supply also is of the worst on the eastern front, 
and when I wandered in the great summer heat through the 
trenches or drove by the hour with wagon and horse through the 
sandy wastes of Poland, I could not help but think of the many 
occasions when the fighting armies, in spite of all fatigue and 
hardships, had to go without drinking water of any kind what- 
soever. , . ." 

One of the greatest successes which the Germans gained in 
the summer of 1915 was the taking of the fortress of Kovno. 
Indeed it was the fall of this Russian bulwark as much as any- 
thing else that precipitated most of the Russian losses after the 
fall of Warsaw. Considering the importance of Kovno the fol- 
lowing report of a special correspondent of the ''Berliner 
Tageblatt," who was present during its bombardment, will be of 
interest. He says : 

"The bombardment had reached a strength which made one 
believe that he was present at a concert in the lower regions. 
Guns of every variety and caliber, up to the largest, had been 
concentrated here and attempted to outroar each other. In un- 
ceasing activity the batteries spit their devastating sheaths of 
fire against the Russian forts and against the fortified positions 
which had been thrown up by the Russians between the forts 
and which had been supplied by them with very strong artillery. 
The latter did its best to keep up with the efforts of the besieg- 
ing army. Day by day the Russian guns began firing against the 
German lines almost as soon as the German lines had opened 
their fire and the combination swelled the noise to a terrible 
height. 

"Exactly at seven o'clock in the evening the German guns 
paused for a while in order to permit their infantry to advance. 



RUSSIAN RETREAT AND GERMAN ADVANCE 245 

This was an almost daily occurrence and day by day the German 
lines drew nearer to the Russian forts. 

"Hardly had the fire of the German guns stopped when a 
furious crackling of rifle fire would begin. The German lines 
had left their trenches and were advancing against the Russian 
position from which they received heavy fire. Machine guns, 
too, joined the uproar. It was impossible to follow the infantry 
attack in detail, but its success could be gleaned from the fact 
that the German gun fire, which gradually was taken up again, 
had to be advanced in the direction of the fortress/ 9 

This fortress of Kovno, for which the Germans were making 
such a tremendous drive and which the Russians tried to hold 
with all die resources at their command, occupies in respect to 
the Niemen line the same position which the fortress of Lomza 
occupies in respect to the Nareff line, only in a much greater 
measure. And, indeed, the city is specially adapted by its entire 
location to act as protector of this important river. Between 
steep banks, which rise as high as 200 feet, the stream rushes 
along here, surrounding the city picturesquely with its heights 
and protecting it at the same time from attack. There Kovno is 
situated where the Vilia joins the Niemen, and only a short 
distance down the latter the Nieviaza adds its waters, so that 
Kovno forms a natural center of a number of extensive valleys 
which join here. It is upon these natural conditions of its situa- 
tion that the unusual importance rests which Kovno has occupied 
for centuries in a historical, economical, and military respect in 
the history of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia. 

Founded in the eleventh century, it belonged from 1384 to 
1398 to the Order of the German Knights, who made a military 
point of the first order out of it. In 1400 the Grand Duke of 
Lithuania attacked and captured the town. The height of its 
career was reached in 1581, when it was raised to the center of 
the export trade and received a custom house. The commerce 
of the city at that time reached annually the sum of three 
million ducats, an immense amount for that period. The Rus- 
sian czars, therefore, attempted at various times to capture the 
rich city, but it was not until the third partition of Poland in 



246 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

1795 that Kovno became definitely a possession of the Russian 
Empire. 

After that Kovno suffered many reverses. In 1806 a dis- 
astrous fire broke out and destroyed three-fourths of the city, 
but in spite of this disaster and others which followed, the city 
recovered and gained a certain importance in a political way, 
when in 1842 it was made the capital of the newly created gov- 
ernment of Kovno. From then on the trade of the city grew in 
bounds and leaps, and it became a center of the trading to and 
from Prussia. Its industries, too, were developed extensively. 
Seven fortifications are situated to the south of the city, three 
more protect the road to Vilna, and one the bridge across the 
Vilia. 

During the series of engagements near Dvinsk, in the fall of 
1915, especially severe fighting occurred on the shores of Lake 
Sventen. The colonel of a Russian regiment which participated 
in these engagements gave the following vivid description to a 
staff correspondent of the London "Times" : 

"We had to secure a lodgment on the promontory nicknamed 
by our men the 'Dog's Tail. 9 My scouts crossed the lake at 
night, dug themselves in and annoyed the enemy holding the 
brickyard, situated upon a slight eminence at the northern part 
of the promontory. A Lettish officer commanded the scouts and 
organized the whole landing. Being a native of the place, he 
was able to take advantage of every latent resource afforded by 
the country. Thus he managed to discover a small fleet of boats, 
and added to them by constructing a number of rafts. During 
the night our men gradually reenforced the scouts. On the fol- 
lowing day we rushed the brickyard. This gave us a larger foot- 
hold to deploy one of our regiments, and storm what we called 
'Bald Hill/ while another regiment gave its attention to 'Red 
Hill/ to the southwest. 

"Our advance was very slow. The Germans had a large num- 
ber of Maxims, three times as many as we had, also automatic 
rifles, and freely used explosive bullets. But on our side we had 
our artillery massed in several lines east of Sventen and Medum, 
including field and heavy guns under good control, so that we 



RUSSIAN RETREAT AND GERMAN ADVANCE 247 

could pour in direct or flanking fire at will. Three days passed 
chiefly in artillery preparation for our final attack. The infantry 
advanced slightly. Our artillery observers were in the trenches 
correcting the fire of our guns. On November 3, 1915, the enemy 
began to pour in a fierce flanking fire from their guns west of 
Ilsen. 

'When the scouts and supports moved from the 'Dog's Tail 9 
promontory, our neighboring corps began to advance also, and 
we finally extended our right flank and gained direct contact, 
But all this time we were suffering heavily from the enemy'p 
Maxims on the heights. 

" 'Bald Hill' and 'Red Hill' were won on the third day. The 
enemy counterattacked and retook the first named heights. Our 
position was now a critical one. The waters of the lake in our 
rear cut off all hope of immediate reenf orcements or of eventual 
retreat We had to retake 'Bald Hill' at all costs, and we did it. 
My men were tremendously encouraged by the hurricane fire 
kept up by our artillery. Many of them had witnessed the ter- 
rible effects of the German hurricane fire. For the first time 
they saw that our own artillery was not only equal but even 
superior to anything the Germans could do. Our gunners tele- 
phoned asking me when they should stop, so that our men should 
not suffer from their fire. It seemed to me that our shells were 
bursting perilously near, and I asked them to cease fire. A half 
company then attacking 'Bald Hill' was immediately mown down 
by the German machine guns. I at once signaled to the gunners 
'keep on firing' and only when our skirmishers were within 250 
paces of the German trenches the hurricane was suspended and 
we went for the Germans with the bayonet, but they did not wait." 

Many of the successes gained — both by the Russians in their 
retreat and by the Germans in their advance — were due to the 
effective work of the aviation corps. Scouting and bomb drop- 
ping were daily occurrences. A picturesque description of such 
a trip made by an aeroplane "somewhere in Poland" is taken 
from "Motor" and gives a very clear idea of the dangers to 
which pilot and observer are subjected at all times as well as of 
the practical results of their work: 



248 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

"The departure had been set for nine o'clock in the morning 
and, while the pilot has already taken his place in the aeroplane 
and is trying out his motor, his companion comes out of his tent. 
The latter wears a wide brown leather coat, a storm cap is 
drawn deep down over his forehead, a long shawl covers his 
throat and in order to protect himself against the oil which the 
motor puffs out during the flight he has covered his eyes with 
big spectacles. A sergeant with some soldiers carry bombs to 
the aeroplane and pack them carefully next to the seat of the 
observer. The latter takes his seat, the motor starts, the pro- 
peller turns around quicker and quicker, and at last the pilot 
waves his arm — the wedges are withdrawn from under the 
wheels. The plane begins to roll along, lifts itself up from the 
ground and mounts in elegant spirals higher and higher; smaller 
and smaller appear men and houses; at last the aerostat shows 
3,000 feet; the observer gives a sign and the plane turns in the 
direction of the enemy. It is comparatively easy to find the way : 
the railroad tracks which run toward the lines of the enemy 
serve as a guide; the aeroplane follows them above villages 
chopped into ruins by gunfire, whose houses look like small toy 
boxes. Suddenly, dark lines appear which run toward the west: 
trenches of the enemy which unroll themselves to the observer 
as if they were on a map. And right away small white clouds 
arise, the first greetings which the enemy fires toward the aero* 
plane, but under which the latter rushes by descending quickly. 

"At last the trench zone has been crossed ; the country in back 
of it appears to be strewn with pits and funnels caused by the 
explosion of big caliber shells. Here and there destroyed villages 
are to be seen from which dark pillars of smoke arise. Then the 
first roadway about which information is to be gathered appears. 
Peacefully it lies in the sunlight. Farther toward the west, how- 
ever, the street becomes more lively; but the black specks which 
move down there are only a few automobiles which most likely 
carry some members of the general staff of the enemy and offer 
nothing worth while observing. But a little farther back a dark 
line and many small specks appear — detachments on the march. 
The observer leans over his map, compares, looks down once 



RUSSIAN RETREAT AND GERMAN ADVANCE 249 

more, then marks the observation on his map and the time at 
which it was made, and on goes the journey. In the streets of a 
larger place, which is reached soon afterward, a crowd of people 
are observed ; in front of a church are standing at regular dis- 
tances a number of wagons, a short wagon in front and back of 
it shapes that look like a frame— cannon. The observer con- 
tinues to make marks on his map and at the same time a sharp 
sound is heard at his side and in the upper plane a slash appears. 
He waves his hand and the pilot sharply turns to the left. The 
observer reaches for a bomb and holds it over the edge of the 
aeroplane, drops it, and immediately afterward a flash appears 
among the cannon and the crowd on the market place disperses 
in wild flight. Another wave of the hand, another turn to the 
left, another bomb. The result is satisfactory; at least one can- 
non has been destroyed. But now it begins to become unpleas- 
ant; to the right and to the left, in front and in back, small white 
clouds arise; down there the bombardment has begun and 
it must make quite a loud noise which, however, is drowned in 
the noise of the motor. The pilot stops the motor and silently 
and gently the aeroplane descends into less dangerous heights; 
then the motor again begins to work and the aeroplane quickly 
turns its course toward the southwest following the white band 
of the country road. 

"Suddenly white wisps of smoke arise over the tree tops of a 
near-by forest; again the observer makes some entries and, while 
the aeroplane rushes furiously forward, marks down with his 
pencil one body of troops after another. Above a freight station 
, another stop is made; on the platforms of its storehouses men 
rush along busily. Their work will have to be disturbed: a mo- 
tion of the hand, a pull on the motor which starts the descent, a 
grasp for the third bomb — and a railway guardhouse collapses 
into itself. The last bomb hits its mark even better; it explodes 
right in the middle between two cars without, however, hurting 
anybody; for the workmen have run away as quickly as their 
feet will carry them; pillars of fire roar up high; gasoline or 
coal oil supplies apparently have been hit. To determine this 
definitely is impossible, for the aeroplane must rush on. After 



250 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

a short time, its commission executed, it turns back toward the 
east; the batteries which had been observed a short while ago 
and the lines of trenches are again passed and at last the tents of 
the hangar come into view; the cross, showing the place for 
landing, becomes visible ; the descent begins ; the wheels touch the 
ground with a sharp jolt; the observer jumps out of his seat and 
runs up to his commander to make his report" 



CHAPTER XXIX 

WINTER ON THE EASTERN FRONT 

BY the end of November, 1915, winter had set in along the 
eastern front. Especially along the northern part of the 
eastern line this necessitated almost a complete stoppage of 
operations. For there the weather becomes very severe. Th6 
ground freezes sometimes to a depth of three and more feet, 
which, of course, makes it impossible to dig trenches quickly. 
But just as soon as trench digging at short notice became im- 
possible operations had to cease. For whenever armies advance 
over closely contested ground — as was the case all along the 
eastern line — the advance by necessity is slow, possibly over 
only a few miles every day. And every time the line is pushed 
forward, and trenches previously occupied are left behind, it 
becomes necessary with each step of the advance to dig new 
trenches unless the advanced line was fortunate enough to be 
able to stop the day's work in the trenches of the enemy, a possi- 
bility which, of course, did not offer itself any too frequently. 
And even then a lot of digging was necessary, because what 
was previously, during the enemy's occupation, the back of a 
trench line now had to be turned into its front. All of this dig- 
ging, or at least most of it, had to be done quickly, in order to 
avoid the loss of the newly gained positions by the success of 
hostile counterattacks. But both sides alike found it impossible 
to dig quickly, or, for that matter, in most cases to dig at all 



WINTER ON THE EASTERN FRONT 251 

when the ground was frozen solid. So both sides found them- 
selves condemned to a more or less continuous state of inactivity 
as far as all war operations were concerned, excepting only artil- 
lery duels, mining, aeroplane attacks, sniping from each other's 
trenches, and all those other more or less insignificant opera- 
tions that are usually called by the generic term "trench war* 
fare/' 

Although the Russians were acknowledged masters of trench 
digging and of throwing up well-planned and efficiently defended 
field fortifications of every kind, and also the great mass of their 
soldiers were much more accustomed to severe winters than the 
German forces, because a very much larger part of the Russian 
than of the German Empire is subject to very low winter tem- 
peratures, still the Germans, all in all, had the advantage over 
their adversaries under these conditions. In the first place the 
percentage of mechanically and scientifically trained men in the 
German army is far greater than that in the Russian army, be- 
cause the latter is recruited primarily from an agricultural popu- 
lation, whereas the former draws its largest numbers from an 
intensively industrial body. Furthermore, organization within 
and without the army had been developed to a far higher degree 
by the Germans than by their eastern neighbors. It is, there- 
fore, not at all surprising to hear of the marvelous preparations 
that the Germans had made for the approaching winter, and 
inasmuch as most of this information is gathered from Russian 
sources, there can be little doubt of its correctness. 

Down below in their trenches, covering the walls of their dug- 
outs, the Germans had erected light metal buildings. These had 
been manufactured back in Germany in immense quantities in 
simple, standardized parts. Easily shipped in a "knockdown" 
condition, they were just as easily put up and put together, 
and all of them were fitted with heating apparatus of some kind. 
Warm clothing of every kind and description had either been 
manufactured at the Government's expense or had been collected 
from private sources throughout the empire by appealing to the 
nation at large by means of the newspapers. Although the state- 
ment, frequently heard, that each man had a sleeping sack un- 



252 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

doubtedly was vastly exaggerated, vast quantities of these use- 
ful articles had been distributed. Then, too, officers, from cap- 
tains down, gave their men detailed instructions and orders 
how to protect themselves efficiently against severe cold, and 
how to treat promptly and effectively any of the many ailments 
that are apt to afflict people unused to very low temperatures in 
a rather moist region, from frostbite down to colds. 

From every possible line of human enterprise the Germans, 
according to Russian reports, apparently tried to learn lessons 
which might become applicable in these near-arctic conditions 
on the east front. Having been taught by the previous winter's 
experience the impossibility of trench digging, they promptly 
organized extensive mining detachments among their engineer- 
ing troops, augmenting the latter in great quantities by soldiers 
from other branches of their general service who, from their 
experiences in times of peace, had become particularly adaptable 
to such work. These mining troops, later on in the winter, were 
to creep forward under the protection of night's shadows and 
blast with dynamite those trenches that were absolutely essen- 
tial for cover of advancing troops and that could not be dug in 
the frozen ground with more simple tools. Long before this, 
however, while winter had not yet shown its full severity, these 
troops were busily occupied with the preparation of land mines, 
which were to act as substitutes for barbed-wire entanglements 
when freezing snow, piling up many feet high, rendered the lat- 
ter useless. Previous experience, too, had taught that, when such 
weather conditions arose, the immense quantities of snow that 
fall in these regions not only completely covered barbed-wire 
entanglements, but as repeated snowstorms thickened the mass 
day by day, and sleet and thaw, caused by an occasional hour's 
sunshine, hardened it, made it even possible for the enemy's 
forces to advance securely on it in spite of, and on the very top of, 
all barbed-wire obstacles. 

Throughout the first winter of the war the Germans had also 
used ski detachments. Most of these were employed in the 
mountainous regions of the western front. But small troops had 
been sent to East Prussia and had proven themselves very valu- 



WINTER ON THE EASTERN FRONT 253 

able there. Again and again Russian troops, attempting opera- 
tions on ground covered with two or three days 9 snowfall, had 
sunk to their waists and chests into the snow and had become 
easy prey to attacks made by German soldiers on skis. So the 
Germans early in the fall, when certain parts of south Germany 
and Austria, covered with high mountains, lend themselves ad- 
mirably for ski practice, had sent time after time detachments 
of carefully selected infantry troops to these regions and had 
made ski experts out of them. Sledges too — large and small — 
had been provided in quantities, because they had proven their 
value as means of transporting men and supplies where all other 
means had failed absolutely. 

With the approach of real winter all these comparatively new 
features of warfare were put to use. Of course the Germans 
were by no means the only ones to profit from past experience 
and from the modern advance of the sciences and mechanical 
industries. But from all reports it is clear that they outdid the 
Russians in inventiveness as well as in the thoroughness and 
extent of their preparations. 

"Jack Frost' 9 also definitely stopped regular fighting. With 
its arrival war at the eastern front deteriorated into more or less 
of a guerrilla war. Instead of attempts to break through the line 
by miles, both sides settled down to a bitter contest for choice 
pieces of ground here and there. An exchange of a bit of high 
ground for a nasty, damp trench in a bog was considered quite 
a victory. The capture of a small supply train by a small de- 
tachment that had managed to sneak through the line at some 
point unobserved or unoccupied, because it apparently was im- 
possible for occupation on account of the nature of the ground, 
was as much talked about as only a victory in a real engagement 
would have been two or three months ago. In a way, both the 
Russian and German and Austro-Hungarian armies had a much 
more severe time of it on the east front than the German and 
Franco-English forces had at the west front. First of all, the 
latter was located in much more civilized regions, cleaner, there- 
fore, and healthier. Then, too, the nature of the ground in the 
west was less hard on the fighters, higher in most places, and, 



254 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

therefore, drier. Furthermore, the western line was practically 
an unbroken line from the English Channel down to the Swiss bor- 
der. In the east, however, marshes, lakes, and rivers made an 
unbroken line impossible. All along the front there were innu- 
merable gaps. Of course many of these were gaps because ne 
human being could find a foothold on them, and, therefore, 
needed no watching. Others, however, while impossible for 
occupation, were not equally impossible for passage, provided 
those that attempted to pass were willing to take great risks. 
And there was no lack of such on either side. So Russians, Ger- 
mans, and Austro-Hungarians had to be continuously on the 
jump to prevent such raids of their lines which, though they 
might have been very small in the beginning, might have had 
very serious consequences. These conditions, therefore, made 
war on the east front for everybody concerned truly a war of 
attrition, equally racking for nerves and bodies. 

Only one other event of importance occurred on the east front 
during the winter of 1915-16. General Russky, commanding 
the Russian forces fighting before Riga and Dvinsk and in the 
Dvina-Vilia sector, was forced by illness to retire from his com- 
mand. He was succeeded by General Everth, who up to then had 
commanded the next adjoining army group, from the Vilia down 
to the Pripet Marshes, and who now assumed command over all 
the Russian forces from the Gulf of Riga to the Pripet Marshes. 
Farther down the line General Ivanoff continued the leadership 
that he had assumed after the German advance had come to a 
standstill at the end of October. 

Thus the winter passed. As we have learned in some of the 
preceding chapters, operations were resumed in a small way at 
certain points along the line from time to time. With the ap- 
proach of the spring of 1916 these activities slightly increased 
in extent and severity. But both sides, as long as frost con- 
tinued, were satisfied with this state of conditions and with 
never-ceasing preparations for new offensive operations to begin 
as soon as nature would permit. 



PART VI— THE BALKANS 



CHAPTER XXX 

BATTLE CLOUDS GATHER AGAIN 

rpHOUGH Serbia had been the first to be attacked by the Cen- 
J- tral Powers when the world war began, the end of the first 
year's fighting was to find her still unconquered, though she had 
passed through ordeals quite as severe as those suffered by 
Belgium. 

Let us review, briefly, the events of the first year : 

Hardly had hostilities been declared by Austria-Hungary, on 
July 28, 1914, when the armies of the Dual Empire began gather- 
ing along the Serbian frontiers; then, within a few days, they 
hurled themselves into Serbia, hoping to overwhelm her by the 
sheer weight of their numbers. Not only did the soldiers of the 
little Balkan nation withstand the onslaught of the imperial 
troops, but within the week they had swept them back, driving 
them across the frontiers. 

So astounded was the Austrian General Staff, so dumfounded 
was it by this unexpected disaster, that it required some 
weeks to realize what had happened, and to prepare for a 
second and mightier attempt to overcome the resistance of the 
Serbians. 

On came the Austrians again, only to suffer a second defeat. 
Then they made their third and mightiest effort, and this time 
every available resource of the empire was strained to the utmost ; 
every soldier not absolutely needed elsewhere was utilized. And 
this time, indeed, the Austrian forces did penetrate some distance 
within Serbian territory, and for over a fortnight the Serbian 

Q— War St 4 255 



256 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

capital was theirs. But their initial success only made their 
final defeat the more complete. For the third time the Serbian 
soldiers beat them back, and from that date, December 14, 1914, 
Serbia remained undisturbed by foreign invasion for almost a 
year. 

Shortly after the beginning of the New Year, came an enemy 
for whom the Serbians were not so well prepared: a typhus 
epidemic, which took almost as many victims as had the fighting. 
Realizing their helplessness, the Serbians uttered an appeal for 
help, and almost every nation, not an enemy, including the United 
States, responded generously with money, and by sending Red 
Cross corps to nurse the plague victims. By the summer of 1915, 
the epidemic had spent itself, after decimating the army and the 
civil population. 

Meanwhile a danger threatened the Serbians which over- 
shadowed even that from the Austrians ; namely the danger that 
other Balkan nations, and especially Bulgaria, might join the 
Teutonic Powers. Serbia had already shown that she could take 
care of the Austrians alone, but with Bulgaria attacking her 
flank, even the most optimistic realized that the fight against 
such odds probably would be hopeless. 

Turkey, even while Serbia was hurling back the Austrians for 
the second time, in November, 1914, was the first to declare 
herself in favor of the Teutons by attacking the Russians. Then 
began the game of diplomacy to win over the Christian states to 
the Allies. All had declared themselves neutral, even Greece, 
though she was bound by a treaty to assist Serbia against foreign 
attack. But it was generally realized that each was only watch- 
ing for the first signs of weakness on either side before deciding 
which to support. To give weight to her diplomacy Great Britain 
began her military operations on GaUipoli, on the understanding 
with Greece, of which Venizelos was then premier, that Greek 
troops should assist But Venizelos was forced to resign by the 
Greek King and the governing clique, and Greece continued to 
maintain her neutrality. 

Rumania, in spite of her leanings toward the Allies, remained 
firm in her neutrality. Bulgaria was more explicit; she made it 



BATTLE CLOUDS GATHER AGAIN 257 

understood that she would join that side which could most effectu- 
ally guarantee her possession of the territory in Macedonia which 
she considered she had won in the First Balkan War and which 
was given over to Serbia and Greece after the Second Balkan 
War by the Treaty of Bucharest. Throughout the year the negotia- 
tions continued whereby the Allies attempted to persuade Greece 
and Serbia to agree to Bulgaria's terms, but Greece continued 
obdurate in her determination to hold all she had, and Serbia 
yielded only in part, and very reluctantly. In August, 1915, be- 
ginning the second year of the war, these negotiations were still 
in progress. As it was still unknown publicly that Bulgaria had 
already signed a secret alliance with Germany, the situation was 
considered favorable to the Allies, especially as on August 22, 
1915, it was announced that Venizelos was again to become prime 
minister of Greece. 

The first indication that King Ferdinand and his cabinet had 
come to a decision was in the agitation that appeared in Bul- 
garia itself among the leaders of the opposition parties, protest- 
ing against the Germanophile policy of the Government. On 
September 18, 1915, a deputation of these leaders had an inter- 
view with the king, in which they made their protest; the report 
was that a stormy scene occurred, in which several members of 
the deputation used language to the effect that should the king 
go against the popular feeling, which was in favor of the En- 
tente, it would cost him his throne. They also demanded that the 
National Assembly be convened. 

The king's reply was to order a general order of mobilization 
of the Bulgarian army. At the same time a note was issued to all 
foreign representatives in which the Government stated explicitly 
that Bulgaria had no intention of entering the war; that she had 
called her men to the colors only to maintain an "armed neu- 
trality/' as Holland and Switzerland were doing. In spite of 
these assurances, Greece also began mobilizing. On September 
20, 1915, there appeared a significant statement in the German 
official report of military operations, to the effect that German 
artillery, stationed on the Danube opposite Semendria, had 
opened fire on a Serbian position. Never before had there been 



258 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

mention of German guns so far south. Altogether, the situation 
in the Balkans was now becoming acute. 

On September 28, 1915, Sir Edward Grey made a statement 
in the British Parliament which made the world realize that a 
crisis in the Balkans was imminent. He announced that efforts 
were still being made to arrange an agreement between Bul- 
garia and Serbia and Greece regarding Macedonia, "but," he 
added significantly, "if Bulgaria assumes an aggressive attitude 
on the side of our enemies, we will support our friends in the 
Balkans with all our power, in concert with our Allies and with- 
out reserve or qualification/' 

This was followed up by another statement on October 1, 1915, 
to the effect that German and Austrian officers were arriving in 
the Bulgarian capital, creating a situation of "the utmost grav- 
ity." Within forty-eight hours, Russia issued an ultimatum to 
Bulgaria demanding that the German and Austrian officers in 
Sofia be removed within twenty-four hours, otherwise Russia 
would sever all diplomatic relations with King Ferdinand's Gov- 
ernment To this Bulgaria made no immediate reply, with the 
result that the Russian Minister left Sofia the next day. Premier 
Radoslavov, however, on the same day, published an official state- 
ment that there were no German or Austrian officers in Sofia and 
that Bulgaria had no intention of breaking her neutrality. Mean- 
while came reports through Greece stating that Bulgarian troops 
were being massed up against the Serbian frontier. As subse- 
quent events soon proved, Bulgaria was determined to hide her 
real purpose to the last moment; not until she actually made her 
first attack did she cease denying her hostile intentions. 

That Bulgaria was acting in cooperation with the Teutonic 
allies was obvious, for already the Serbians had observed that 
great forces were being mobilized across the rivers, along her 
northern and northwestern frontiers, along the banks of the 
Danube, the Save, and the Drina. 

What did not develop so soon was the fact that this new in- 
vasion was to be under the leadership of the German General 
von Mackensen, and that the invaders were to consist in large 
part of German regiments. During the summer Mackensen had 



BATTLE CLOUDS GATHER AGAIN 259 

been engaged in directing a strong Austro-German offensive 
against the Russians, with conspicuous success. For weeks after 
he had left this front and was busy organizing a similar offen- 
sive against the Serbians, the German official dispatches con- 
tinued to associate his name with actions on the Russian front 
that the preparations in the south might continue secret as long 
as possible. 

Not long after the first Austro-German guns began hurling 
their shells across the Danube, against the Serbian position at 
Semendria, the Serbians learned of the disposition and the re- 
sources of the enemy. The troops under Mackensen were divided 
into two armies, each in close contact with the other. One of 
these wings was under the command of a German, General von 
Gallwitz, who had distinguished himself against the Russians a 
short time previously. The men under him were entirely Ger- 
mans. The other army was under the command of an Austrian, 
General von Kovess von Kovesshaza. His men were both Ger- 
man and Austrian, the latter predominating. 

The army under Gallwitz extended from Orsova, near the Ru- 
manian frontier, along the Danube westward to a point opposite 
Semendria. Here his right flank joined Kdvess's line, which 
extended up past Belgrade, along the Save and part way up the 
Drina. The rest of the frontier up the Drina was covered by a 
smaller Austrian army. 

Altogether, the Austro-German armies comprised at least 300,- 
000 men. The Austrians were picked troops, for it was only 
natural that the general staff wished to retrieve, in some measure, 
the humiliation of the previous year. The Germans, numbering 
fully half of the total force, were also hardened veterans, who 
had seen plenty of fighting on the Russian front or in France 
or Flanders. 

Mackensen's overwhelming success in driving the Russians out 
of Galicia had been mainly due to his artillery, that arm of the 
military service in which the Germans excelled all their enemies. 
And here, too, the artillery was to play an important part, for 
fully 2,000 cannon, nearly all of mid-caliber and heavy caliber, 
had been brought down against the Serbians. During the first 



260 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

three invasions the Austrians had thrown their infantry up 
against the Serbian lines. Now German tactics were to be 
tried: the Serbian trenches and other defensive positions were 
to be pulverized with powerful explosives, then rushed with 
infantry. 

Though they had been undisturbed for so long, the Serbians 
were by no means in doubt as to what was yet to come. They 
had realized that eventually the enemy would return more de- 
termined and more powerful than ever. Therefore, they had 
spent the nine months since the last defeat of the Austrians in 
extensive preparations. Line after line of trenches had been 
built back into the interior of the country, and all the possible 
crossings on the rivers had been heavily fortified. Moreover, 
they had drained the civilian population of every male person 
strong enough to carry a gun. 

At this time, when the fourth invasion began threatening, their 
army mustered fully 310,000 men, slightly more than the Aus- 
tro-German. In regard to small arms and ammunition they 
were also at least equal to the enemy, for vast consignments of 
military stores had been sent into the country by the Allies. 
Only in heavy artillery were they inferior, but then this was also 
true of all the armies facing the Germans throughout Europe. 

Therefore, had the Serbians been called upon to defend them- 
selves only against General von Mackensen's armies, it is highly 
probable that they would have been able to give the same answer 
as they had the year previous. So probable, in fact, that Macken- 
sen would hardly dared to have attacked them with only 800,- 
000 men. To be sure, their enemy was no longer made up of raw 
recruits and there was now the heavy artillery as well as a com- 
mander of great ability to face, but the preparations they had 
made in defensive works, as well as the mountainous nature of 
their country, more than made up for these advantages possessed 
by their opponents. It was the Bulgarians who would turn the 
scale. 

Because of the greed for territory of their governing clique, 
the Serbians now faced dangers which even their rugged quali- 
ties could not contend against long. For now, while they were 



BATTLE CLOUDS GATHER AGAIN 261 

steeling themselves to meet the impact of the blow from the 
Austro-Germans from the north, the Bulgarian army, fully as 
strong as themselves, was gathering on their right flank. In 
spite of the diplomatic protests of Ferdinand and Radoslavov, 
the Serbians were not deceived. 

The danger from the Bulgarian army meant more to the 
Serbians than the mere doubling in number of their enemy's 
forces. It was the position of the Bulgarians which made the 
situation especially precarious, impossible. 

A glance at the map will show that the main line of railroad, 
running down from Belgrade to Saloniki by way of Nish, passes 
within a few miles of the Bulgarian frontier, just opposite Sofia. 
Indeed, from Klisura on the froYitier the distant whistle of the 
locomotives and the rattle of the trains across stretches of trestle 
work can be heard plainly on still days. From Klisura on the 
frontier to the railroad is all down hill. Farther south, at Kus- 
tendil, the danger was even greater, though the distance from 
frontier to railroad somewhat more, for at Kustendil was the 
terminus of a short railroad from the Bulgarian capital. From 
this point on the frontier toward the railroad at Kumanova the 
terrain was all in favor of the Bulgarians, for Kustendil is at the 
top of a chain of mountains and the railroad runs along the 
bottom of a valley, the famous Morava Valley. 

This railroad, from Upper Serbia down to Saloniki, was the 
only line of communication and transportation between the main 
Serbian armies and the Allies. Cut this, and they would wither 
like a flower separated from its stem. 

So keenly did the Serbians realize their danger that they asked 
permission of the Allies to attack Bulgaria before the Bulgarian 
army was completely mobilized. They hoped thereby to disable 
Bulgaria with one sharp blow while she was not yet prepared, 
then turn their whole attention toward the enemy in the north. 
But to this plan the Allies would not consent, still hoping that 
Ferdinand would reconsider his resolution. 

Just before the fourth invasion actually began, the Serbians 
held their frontier along the Danube and the Save with three 
armies, consisting of nearly eight divisions, or half of all their 



262 



THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 







5! 

s 



THE INVASION BEGINS 263 

available men. On the west the First Serbian Army, of three 
divisions, commanded by General Mishitch, occupied the angle 
formed by the Save and the Drina, with its headquarters at 
Shabatz, the scene of such bloody fighting a year before. To the 
eastward came a force of a division and a half under command 
of General Zivkovitch, known as the Army for the Defense of 
Belgrade, which indicates its position. Between Belgrade and 
the Rumanian frontier lay the Third Serbian Army, of three 
divisions, with General Jourishitch at its head, protecting the 
mouth of the Morava Valley. 

Facing the Austrians over in the west, in the vicinity of 
Vichegrad, was the army of Ushitze, of less than two divisions, 
under General Goykovitch. 

These were the forces, about two-thirds of the total Serbian 
army, which faced the Austro-Germans. But another 100,000 
had also to be deployed along the Bulgarian frontier to protect 
the railroad as best they could. Thus it was that wherever she 
faced her enemies, Serbia was hopelessly outnumbered. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

THE INVASION BEGINS 

AS already stated, the first of Mackensen's huge shells began 
L bursting over the Serbian defenses across the river on Sep- 
tember 20, 1915. While the wheels of diplomacy continued turn- 
ing during the following weeks, the roar of the big guns grew 
louder and more persistent and swept up and down the long 
line. Then came several attempts on the part of the Austro- 
Germans to cross the rivers ; all these the Serbians successfully 
repulsed, though they may have been mere feints, as a boxer 
jabs at his opponent's jaw while he really aims for his wind. 
There were seven of these attempts. In one, near Semendria, 
the Serbians reported that a whole battalion of an enemy was 
destroyed. Meanwhile German aeroplanes whirred back and 



264 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

forth over the Serbian lines, reconnoitering their positions and 
sometimes dropping bombs. One of them flew south as far as 
Nish, then turned eastward and disappeared over the mountain 
ridges toward Bulgaria. And all this while the frontier guards 
reported that the Bulgarians were massing their troops day by 
day. 

As already noted, the Serbian frontier in Macedonia was left 
practically unguarded. Possibly the Serbians still hoped the 
Greeks would hold to their treaty and join them from that di- 
rection. And, indeed, the Greek army was being mobilized, 
frankly to meet the Bulgarians. More encouraging still, the 
news came that France and England, at the request of Venizelos, 
had agreed to send to Saloniki 150,000 men to make up for an 
equal number which, by the terms of the Serbo-Greek treaty 
for mutual defense against Bulgaria, Serbia would have pro- 
vided had she been able to do so. 

This force began landing in Saloniki on October 5, 1915, but 
cm the same day Venizelos was again compelled to resign by 
King Constantine, who was determined to keep the Greek nation 
out of the war. This was a sad blow to the hopes of the Serbians. 
Still, the British and French troops continued landing, in spite of 
the "protest" from the Greek Government. 

Beginning on October 3, 1915, the fire of the Austro-German 
artillery became doubly insistent, thundering up and down the 
whole front with increasing vigor. Again the Teutons began 
poking their pontoons out into the river, and again they were 
smashed by the Serbian guns. The lighting waxed hottest at 
Ram, Dubrovitza, and Semendria, on the Danube, and in and 
about Ciganlia Island (Island of the Gypsies), at Obrenovatz, 
Shabatz, and Jarak on the Save, where it is joined by the Drina. 
Ram and Semendria, both fortified places, guarded the mouth of 
the Morava Valley, and these Gallwitz subjected to an especially 
heavy fire. By October 5, 1915, the shelling became heaviest in 
this sector: the enemy's guns and howitzers belched forth a 
steady hail of big shells. 

Belgrade, also, became the object of an increasingly tremen* 
dous effort on the part of the Austro-German artillery. Here 



THE INVASION BEGINS 265 

they had brought up long-range guns, and with these inflicted 
heavy damage. 

Nevertheless, the Serbians in Belgrade gave a good account of 
themselves. There were stationed there the big naval guns, 
4.7-inch and 6-inch, sent into the country by Great Britain, 
France, and Russia, and served by their expert gunners. For 
several days the foreign gunners, under command of Rear Ad- 
miral Troubridge, swept the broad surface of the Danube and 
the Save, sinking two of Hie enemy's gunboats that happened 
to come within range. 

On October 5, 1915, the German fire on Belgrade intensified 
and became terrific. They no longer satisfied themselves with 
pouring their deadly fire on the fortress of Belgrade and the 
neighboring positions at Zamar, but they began a systematic 
bombardment of the city itself, hurling vast quantities of in- 
flammatory bombs, as though they meant to burn down every 
building before attempting to take it. Into the suburbs beyond, 
through which ran the highways leading into the interior, they 
rained a curtain of fire which made flight for the inhabitants 
almost impossible. 

On October 6, 1915, the Austro-German forces finally managed 
to effect a crossing which the Serbians were not able to repulse; 
at several points they landed on the opposite bank, including 
Belgrade itself. The first attempts had been made at Jarak, 
Podgorska Island, and Zabrez, and had been driven back again 
and again, but this time the enemy put such energy behind his 
efforts that eventually the Serbians were no longer able to drive 
him back. Gypsy Island, too, a short distance from Belgrade, 
was captured, whence a landing was made under the Lower 
Fortress and on the Danube Quay in the city itself. In the first 
attempt all the Austrians or Germans who landed under the 
Lower Fortress were either killed or captured. Finally the 
invaders established themselves permanently on the quay. Dur- 
ing that day the fighting was of a bloodier character than had 
as yet taken place. 

Next day, October 7, 1915, the Austro-Germans pushed on to 
further success; their big guns raked the river shore up and 



266 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

down and tore down all defensive works, making them untenable 
for the defenders. And on the day following, October 8, 1915, 
the Austro-Hungarian troops of Kovess penetrated into the 
northern sections of the city, taking the citadel by storm. At the 
same time a German contingent, attached to KSvess's command, 
landed west of the city and took the heights in that section, fight- 
ing its way to the Konak and finally to the Royal Palace, in the 
center of the city, over which they hoisted the German and Aus- 
trian flags. Though there was still much to do, Belgrade was now 
practically in their hands. 

Little by little the foreign naval guns in Belgrade had been 
silenced by the big shells of the German howitzers. In the after- 
noon General Zikovitch, seeing that the city was now lost and 
hoping to save it from complete destruction, ordered his forces 
to retire on the fortified positions lying behind and south of the 
capital. Several detachments of the defenders, however, had 
already been cut off and were obliged to remain. Some fought 
grimly to the bitter end, inflicting heavy losses on the invaders; 
others were obliged to surrender. In some of the streets the 
fighting took on a bloody, hand-to-hand character, in which some 
of the civilians took part All through the night Mannlicher rifles 
sputtered back and forth, interspersed here and there with the 
deeper detonation of the hand bombs which the Serbians hurled 
in the skirmishes from street to street and from terrace to 
terrace. When morning dawned the last of the firing died down 
and the greater part of Belgrade was a vast field of charred 
timbers and tumbled-down stones. 

Belgrade was taken, as the official German and Austrian re- 
ports announced joyously next day, but its taking had been at an 
enormous cost and, aside from the political value of its posses- 
sion, with very little gain. The official list specified the war 
material captured as only 9 naval guns, and 26 unmounted field 
pieces, the prisoners amounting to 10 officers and 600 men, many 
of whom were wounded. The Serbian Government had been 
established in Nish since the beginning of the war. 

What had happened at Belgrade was typical of the fighting at 
a number of other points along the banks of the three rivers. On 



THE INVASION BEGINS 267 

the same day that Belgrade was taken the Austro-Germans 
crossed the Danube between Gradishte and Semendria, near the 
village of Zatagna and the small fort called Kosolatz. Ram, too, 
after having been heavily bombarded, was taken. Then, from 
these points they tried to blast their way through farther south, 
away from the river into the interior, but the Serbians held them 
back from the neighboring heights. 

In the west, on the Save, toward the mouth of the Drina, the 
invaders were not so successful. In this area were some of the 
best of the Serbian soldiers, among them the Shumadia Division, 
which especially distinguished itself during all the later fighting. 
Here Marshal Mishitch, who had led his men so ably during the 
third invasion ten months previously, was in command. He also 
had charge of the defenses along the lower Drina, and opposite 
Badovintse he drove back the Austrians with bloody slaughter. 

Between Obrenovatz and Kratinska, on the Save, the Austro- 
Germans had delivered heavy attacks for three nights success- 
ively, but were effectively checked. The operations were directed 
specially against Zabrez. On October 10, 1915, this Serbian posi- 
tion was still holding out. In the afternoon of that date the 
Austrians bombarded heavily, using great quantities of asphyxi- 
ating bombs. Then they charged in solid masses, believing that 
the gases had thrown the Serbians into disorder. The latter, 
however, were provided with masks, and when the enemy charged 
they sprang from their trenches and met them on the open 
ground in hand-to-hand bayonet fighting, driving them back in 
panic. 

Again the Austrians showered gas shells on the Serbians; then, 
toward dusk, came on again, but the Serbians once more broke 
through the Austrian ranks and captured many prisoners. 

But in spite of these local successes by the Serbians, the fight- 
ing was beginning to go against them; the invaders had crossed 
the frontier and could no longer be dislodged. On October 11, 
1915, the official German dispatches were able to announce that 
Mackensen's forces were in possession of the Serbian banks of 
the Danube and the Save between Gradishte and Shabatz, a 
stretch of over a hundred miles* On the D-ina* too, the Aus- 



268 



THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 




THS BEGINNING OF THE GERMAN-AUSTBO-BULGAB CAMPAIGN 
AGAINST SERBIA 



BULGARIA ENTERS THE WAR 269 

trians had been able to cross over in several places. To all these 
points they hurried large bodies of reserves to push their ad- 
vantages and so continue a vigorous offensive east, south, and 
west of Belgrade, in a wide, sweeping movement along the entire 
front. 

The main effort was made in the east, to secure possession of 
the Morava Valley and its railroad. Near Semendria, Gallwitz'? 
right wing was in touch with KSvess's left. The plan was that 
they should advance up the Morava together, each covering one 
side of the valley. But it was first necessary to reduce the Ser- 
bian forts at Semendria and Pojarevatz. 

It was now two weeks since the heavy artillery had begun 
playing on Semendria. By October 11, 1915, the invaders had 
succeeded in taking Semendria, the garrison retiring to Pojare- 
vatz. Here a very severe battle was fought, but finally the 
Serbians were forced back, though not without inflicting the 
heaviest losses that the enemy had as yet suffered. After two 
days the fort was taken and the Serbians retired to the hills be- 
yond. Thus the invaders were now ready to begin their advance 
down the Morava Valley. 

But just then there came a pause in the fighting. The Serbians 
observed that Gallwitz waited. What he waited for was not im- 
mediately obvious to them. Within a few days they were to 
know. 



CHAPTER XXXII 

BULGARIA ENTERS THE WAR 

THE Bulgarian Government suddenly threw aside all dissimula- 
tion and declared war on Serbia, on the pretext that the Ser- 
bians had crossed the frontier and attacked Bulgarian troops. 
On October 11, 1915, the Bulgarian army began operations by 
attacking the Serbians at Kadibogas, northwest of Nish, the at- 
tack gradually extending up and down the frontier. This was 



270 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

the fatal blow. To oppose the 300,000 men that the Bulgarians 
could easily put into this field, the Serbians had not over a third 
as many. 

Bulgaria had two large armies against the Serbian frontier. 
The First Army, under General Boyadjieff, was fully 200,000 
strong and was concentrated in the north from Vidin to Zaribrod, 
threatening the Timok Valley and that part of the Belgrade-Sofia 
railroad running from Pirot to Nish. 

The Second Army, under the command of General Todoroff, 
was only half as large, and directed itself toward Macedonia and 
especially toward Uskub, both on account of the strategic im- 
portance of that place as a railroad center and as the best point 
from which a wedge might be driven into the side of Serbia, 
separating the north from the south. The headquarters of this 
second force was in Kustendil, its left wing extending down to 
Strumitza in Macedonia. 

On this eastern front, to oppose the Bulgarians, the Serbian 
forces were in three groups. In the north, its left flank touching 
the forces operating against the Austro-Germans, lay the Timok 
group, commanded by General Zivkovitch, whose headquarters 
were in Zaichar. South of this force came the second group — ter- 
ritorial troops — numbering three divisions of infantry and one 
of cavalry, altogether about 80,000 men, and commanded by 
Marshal Stepanovitch. It was based on Pirot and was especially 
charged with the defense of the railroad. Lower down, with 
headquarters in Vranya, was the detachment of the Southern 
Morava. Farther down in Macedonia, concentrated around 
Uskub, Veles, and stretched down along the Vardar toward the 
Greek frontier at Doiran, were another 25,000 men under the 
command of General Bojovitch. 

As a slight offset to the disheartening news that the Bul- 
garians had at last definitely joined hands with the Teutonic 
forces, came the tidings that Prance and England had declared 
war on Bulgaria and that their forces, which had been landing in 
Saloniki, were already advancing up the Vardar with the inten- 
tion of making a junction with the southern Serbian forces. Al- 
ready, on that same day, October 15, 1915, the allied vanguard had 




i! 

u 

ii 



i 

I 

i 

1 



BULGARIA ENTERS THE WAR 271 

advanced as far as Valandova and was there attacked by the Bul- 
garians, the latter being beaten back and heavily defeated. These 
were the French troops, under command of General Sarrail ; hay- 
ing thrown back the Bulgarians he worked his way northward 
along the railroad until he reached Krivolak and Gradsko, a few 
miles below Veles. But transporting troops from France and 
England was a slow business, and General Sarrail had not then, 
nor had he later, enough forces to advance north any farther. 
Meanwhile the Bulgarians in the north, under Boyadjieff, begam 
operations against the Serbians. 

The country in this section is extremely rough, being all rocky 
ridges and deep ravines, with roads little better than mountain 
trails. Boyadjieff succeeded at once in crossing the Lower Timok, 
then divided his force into two main divisions. One of these he 
advanced against Pirot, the other against Zaichar and Kniashe- 
vatz. But now the Serbians began a strong resistance. 

On October 15, 1915, the Bulgarians began three strong as- 
saults, east and southeast of Zaichar, all of which the Serbians 
repulsed successfully. East of Eniashevatz another series of bit- 
terly contested encounters took place, neither side making any 
decided gains. On the following day the fighting extended to 
Svinski Vis. By this time the Serbians east of Kniashevatz be- 
gan giving way slowly and the Bulgarians pushed forward and 
on October 19, 1915, they arrived before Negotin. Toward Pirot 
they also succeeded in making some advance. 

For several days the two fighting lines of men swayed back 
and forth. Here artillery played not so important a part. Both 
Bulgars and Serbs, primitive, rugged fighters, threw military 
science to the winds and plunged into the battle face to face and 
breast to breast, thrusting each other with cold steel. In some of 
the struggles the men lost their guns ; they picked up the bowlders 
that lay about them thickly and hurled them at their enemies or 
they gripped each other with their hands and fought as animals 
fight. Quarter was neither asked nor given. 

Witnesses state that in neither of the two Balkan wars was 
there such ferocious fighting, such awful slaughter, as during the 
encounters between the Serbians and Bulgarians along this sec- 

B— War St 4 



272 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

tion of the frontier. Both sides lost heavily; whole companies 
and even battalions were hemmed in against the rock walls, then 
exterminated to the last man. 

But finally numbers began to show the advantage, and the 
Serbians were obliged to retire from ridge to ridge. Village 
after village was taken and burned. 

In Macedonia, Todoroff, though his force was much smaller, 
was having comparatively easy work. A large part of the vital 
railroad line passed through this section and it was Todoroff s 
first aim to throw himself astride of it, thus effectually breaking 
off communication between the vanguard of the French army and 
the Serbians. It was this portion of the country that the Greeks 
would have defended, had they joined the Allies. 

The first thing that Todoroff did was to detach a strong force 
from his main body, with which he struck at the railroad between 
Vranya and Zibeftcha and succeeded in cutting it. The detach- 
ment of the Southern Morava was driven back'at the first encounter 
and on October 17, 1915, the Bulgarians entered Vranya. On the 
same day the main body of the Bulgarians advanced down the 
slopes from Kustendil and took Egri Palanka, on the road toward 
Kumanova and Uskub. Farther south they penetrated the Valley 
of the Bregalnitza, the scene of the Bulgarian defeat in the 
Second Balkan War, where they captured the important strategic 
point, Sultan Tepe, and the town of Katshana, taking twelve field 
pieces. Passing rapidly on through Ishtip, they occupied that 
part of Veles lying east of the Vardar River, where, on October 
20, 1915, they again cut the railroad line and so made any further 
advance on the part of the French almost impossible. The next 
day the Bulgarians captured Kumanova and then, on the day fol- 
lowing, drove the Serbians on through Uskub. The Serbians re- 
tired fighting to Katshanik Pass, north of Uskub, where they 
made a stand that became one of the notable achievements, on 
their part, of the whole campaign. For by the defense of this 
pass they made the Bulgarian effort to cut Serbia in two for some 
time fruitless. 



THE TEUTONIC INVASION ROLLS ON 273 

CHAPTER XXXIII 

THE TEUTONIC INVASION ROLLS ON 

MEANWHILE, Bulgaria having plunged into the fighting, the 
Teutonic allies in the north resumed their efforts to advance 
southward. But for some time they had all they could do to 
maintain themselves on the banks of the rivers. Before them 
rose the rock-ribbed hills skirting the mountains of the interior, 
and along these hills the Serbians had, during the previous ten 
months, built up line after line of strong intrenchments, one be- 
hind the other. To carry one line was only to gain a few hun- 
dred yards of territory. 

Just as soon as Kovess felt his hold on Belgrade secure, he 
began an attack on the heights to the south. After three days 
of intense bombardment he succeeded in taking Mount Avala, an 
eminence some 1,600 feet in height and ten miles from the city. 
On the same day, October 18, 1915, Obrenovatz fell into his hands, 
and Shabatz three days later. However, these two places were 
still only on the banks of the river. 

The chief efforts of the invaders, however, were directed 
toward making an advance down the Morava Valley. Their first 
assault was made against the Serbian positions in the moun- 
tainous country of the Podunavlie. Gallwitz here had an exceed- 
ingly difficult task, for the ground rose in rocky, steplike forma- 
tion, offering all the advantages to the defenders. But the 
bombardment from the heavy artillery had its effect and slowly 
the Germans advanced. By October 23, 1915, they had reached 
the southern bank of the Jesenitza, not far from Palanka and 
had passed Rakinatz on the road to Petrovatz on the Mlava. 

During this same period the German left wing, having smashed 
Tekia with gunfire, crossed the Danube near Orsova and suc- 
ceeded in taking the heights overlooking the river. On the ex- 
treme western front the Austrians crossed the Drina at Vishe- 
grad. Thus all the rivers forming the frontiers had passed com- 
pletely into the hands of the invaders. But it had been a costly 



274 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

gain. By this time the Austro-Gennan forces had lost very 
heavily. The Serbians also had had heavy losses, but not half so 
many as the enemy. 

It was the policy of General Putnik, the Serbian Chief of Staff, 
to prolong the fighting as much as possible, for during this time 
the transports of the Allies were disembarking troops in Salo- 
nika at the rate af 5,000 men a day, and there was hope that even- 
tually they would be able to advance northward, and at least save 
the Serbians from the Bulgarians. This same hope had stiffened 
the resistance of the soldiers in every skirmish. Then came word 
that the Russians would relieve the pressure by attacking the 
Bulgarians, either through Rumania, or by landing troops in 
either Bourgas or Varna. And once indeed the Russian ships did 
bombard Varna, but without any attempt at disembarking troops. 

As the days passed and no help from outside came, the belief 
began gradually to dawn on the Serbian people that they were 
doomed as a nation. This feeling first manifested itself in the 
flight of the civil population. At first the noncombatants had 
merely retired with the fighting line. The first three invasions 
had shown that the Austrians did not always refrain from com- 
mitting atrocities, especially when their armies had suffered un- 
usually. Nor was there any reason to suppose that the German* 
were any kindlier to civilians. Thus it was that hardly any oi 
the civil population remained behind in conquered territory. 

Then, gradually, came the conviction that Serbian soldiers 
alone must face the enemy, and even the most patriotic realized 
what a hopeless fight it was. The whole population began mov- 
ing southward; along every available road trailed long lines 
of slowly moving ox carts, loaded with the few movable belong- 
ings of their peasant owners. South continued the exodus and 
then — the Bulgarians blocked the way. The roads to Greece 
were closed. There remained nothing for them to do but to turn 
toward the awful mountain wilderness intervening between them 
and the Adriatic sea coast, infested by fierce bands of Albanian 
brigands and tribesmen. 

The weather was bad; rain fell heavily and incessantly, the 
roads were deep in mud and the plight of these people, most of 



THE TEUTONIC INVASION ROLLS ON 275 

them old men and women and children, became intensely mis- 
erable. 

The Austro-German lines in the north continued their slow but 
persistent southward advance; the invasion rolled on, the Ser- 
bians retiring before them step by step. During the last week of 
the month Gallwitz came to the heights east of Banitzina, south 
of Jesenitza, and began storming them. Then followed another 
spurt of severe fighting and Livaditza and Zabari, on the Morava 
River, fell into their hands, after which they occupied the region 
south of Petrovatz. By the 28th they had gained Svilajnatz, beat- 
ing down the Serbian resistance by sheer weight of men and 
guns, and by the last day of the month they were within a day's 
march of Kragujevatz, in which was located Serbia's chief 
arsenal. Situated on the Lepenitza, a branch of the Morava, it 
lay about half way between Belgrade and Nish, on a branch line 
of the main railroad. It was a point well worth defending, and 
the Serbians did defend it stubbornly, but on November 1, 1915, 
they were compelled to evacuate it, after first destroying the 
arsenal and all the materials it contained. 

It was here that the Shumadia Division especially distinguished 
itself. The regiments of that unit had been recruited in this sec- 
tion; it was literally defending its native soil. During the first 
part of the fighting it had been intrenched in the hills to the north 
of the town. The day was wet and dense mists rolled through the 
mountain passes down over the hills. The Germans had effec- 
tually shelled the positions of the Shumadians and were under 
the impression that they had retired, wherefore they advanced 
upward to occupy the deserted trenches. 

And then, suddenly, wild yells and shouts burst out from the 
rolling mist and the Shumadians fell upon the invaders with set 
bayonets. The latter, who had been growing accustomed to the 
purely defensive tactics of their enemy, were completely taken by 
surprise and thrown into disorder. 

The first line of the Teutons wavered, then broke and scattered. 
Coming up against reenforcements behind, they re-formed and 
advanced again. And again the Shumadians burst down on them 
and engaged them hand to hand. Fighting like savages, they 



276 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

drove the invaders before them for a considerable distance, tak- 
ing over 3,000 prisoners and several guns. When finally they 
retired just as the main body of the advancing foe was coming 
up, they left behind them hundreds of enemy dead, the fallen 
literally covering the ground in heaps. 

The mixed forces of Kovess, keeping in touch with Gallwitz's 
right wing, had been advancing more or less in line with the Ger- 
mans, marching along the railroad from Belgrade and Obreno- 
vatz toward the Western Morava. South of Belgrade the Ser- 
bians had put up a stout resistance at Eosmai, but were finally 
dislodged by the heavy artillery fire. On October 25, 1915, 
Kovess arrived at Ratcha, south of Palanka, on the right side of 
the Morava. After a hard fought battle at Gorni Milanovatz, he 
reached Cacak on November 1, 1915, a few miles west of Kragu- 
jevatz. Here it was that he struck the Western Morava and the 
railroad passing along it eastward from Ushitze to its junction 
with the main line. Farther to the westward his cavalry, on 
October 26, 1915, had occupied Valievo on the Upper Kolubara 
and one of his divisions had crossed the Mai jen Mountains, where 
the Austrians had been so humiliatingly defeated the year before. 
Farther west, but more to the south, the Austrians, who had 
pushed on from Vishegrad, arrived in Ushitze on November 2, 
1915, and presently effected a junction with the main body. 

Meanwhile, a day or two before the end of the month, an in- 
cident up in the northeast foreshadowed the attainment of the 
main objective of the Austro-German forces. The Serbians had, 
naturally, withdrawn from this section and now a German cav- 
alry patrol, scouting in advance of its own lines, met with a body 
of Bulgarian scouts. The Bulgarian and the Teutonic forces had 
come in contact with each other. But the chief significance of 
this fact was that now the road was open for communication be- 
tween Germany and Turkey. Even if the railroad running from 
Belgrade to Constantinople, by way of Sofia, should be tem- 
porarily cut, or should not be captured throughout its entire 
length for some time, shipments of war material could already 
be made to Turkey by way of the Danube down to Rustchuk in 
northern Bulgaria and thence by railroad. Thus the Turks at 



THE TEUTONIC INVASION ROLLS ON 277 

Gallipoli, who had been running short of ammunition, could now 
be relieved. 

This opening of communication with Turkey was made much 
of in the German official reports and some of the newspapers be- 
gan referring to Mackensen's army as "the army of Egypt" 

On the first day of November, 1915, Mackensen could really say 
that he had conquered all of northern Serbia. But the fact re- 
mained that the Serbian army was still in the field ; not even a 
part of it had as yet been captured or annihilated. And it is 
a military axiom that no matter how far an army may retreat 
and no matter how much territory may have been conquered, no 
battle is decisive until the enemy has been destroyed, either en- 
tirely or in large part. The Germans were to be reminded of this 
fact more than once on the Russian front. 

Up till this time Boyadjieff, at the head of his Bulgarian army, 
was attacking the Serbians from two directions : along the Timok 
against Kniashevatz, Zaichar, and Negotin, and along the 
Nishava against Pirot. Both movements were directed ultimately 
toward Nish, but the more northerly had also the purpose of 
effecting a junction with the left wing of the Germans under Gall- 
witz, which was advancing from Tekia, in the northeast corner 
of Serbia. Negotin and Prahovo, the latter a port on the Danube, 
had been taken on October 25, 1915. Lower down, the Bul- 
garians, who were in overwhelming strength, occupied both 
Zaichar and Kniashevatz on the 28th. Meanwhile, the Serbians 
were also compelled to abandon the commanding heights of 
Drenova Glava, fifteen miles northwest of Pirot, and on the 28th 
Pirot fell, though not without heavy fighting. With Pirot on the 
south and Kniashevatz on the north in the hands of the Bul- 
garians, the situation of Nish became very precarious. The Ser- 
bian Government was now shifted to Kralievo. 

Down in Macedonia the Second Bulgarian Army, under 
Todoroff, seemed to have come to an end of its initial success. 
After its occupation of Uskub it had advanced to Katshanik Pass, 
which was occupied by the Serbians under General Bojovitch. 
Todoroff at once began a violent attack and by October 28, 1915, 
part of the defile seemed to have been cleared of the Serbians. 



278 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

But presently the Serbians were reenf orced by two regiments of 
the Morava Division and two of the Drina Division, whereupon 
Bojovitch suddenly turned and once more possessed himself of 
the pass. 

Again and again the Bulgarians attacked, determined to take 
the pass, but as often as they hurled themselves up the defile, 
just so often the Serbians drove them back with fire and 
bayonet. 

During this same period another Serbian force under Colonel 
Vassitch was fighting farther south. On October 22, 1915, he 
succeeded in recapturing Veles, which, it will be remembered, 
Todoroff had taken in his rapid advance during the first few days 
of his fighting. Here it was that the Serbians expected to make a 
juncture with the French forces under Sarrail, and for several 
days they could even hear the thunder of the French guns repell- 
ing a Bulgarian attack, so close together were they. 

For a whole week Vassitch held Veles against the overwhelm- 
ing attacks of the Bulgarians ; then, finally, on the 29th, he was 
compelled to retire to the Babuna Pass, the narrow defile also 
known as the Iron Gate, through which passed the highway from 
Veles to Monastir, by way of Prilep. By the first of November, 
1915, the Serbians were still holding this pass, which was all that 
prevented the Bulgarians from driving in the wedge that was to 
separate Upper Serbia from Macedonia. 

While it was true that no important part of the Serbian army 
had as yet been eliminated from the field ; that it was, as a whole, 
still intact, yet it was now evident that the little nation had come 
very near to the end of her resistance. By this time it was quite 
obvious that no real help could be expected from the Allies. 
Great Britain had offered the island of Cyprus to the Greeks, if 
they would stand by their agreement by joining the Serbians, 
against the Bulgarians, at least. But even that tempting offer 
would not induce them to risk themselves in a fight whose out- 
come seemed so doubtful. On October 20, 1915, Italy had given 
her moral support by declaring war against Bulgaria, but for the 
time being she offered nothing more material. On October 21, 
1915, British and French ships bombarded the Bulgarian port of 



THE TEUTONIC INVASION ROLLS ON 279 

Dedeagatch, on the Gulf of Enos, and also a junction of the rail- 
road connecting Saloniki with Constantinople, but this had no 
material result in deterring the Bulgarians from pressing their 
campaign against the Serbians in Macedonia. On October 28, 
1915, Russian ships bombarded Varna, on the Black Sea coast 
of Bulgaria. This was done, not so much for any material 
damage that could be done to Bulgaria, but for the moral effect 
it might have on the population, which was supposed to have very 
deep feelings of regard for Russia, because she had freed them 
from the Turks in 1878. But the Bulgarian troops previously 
stationed at this point had been replaced by Turkish forces, so 
that it is probable that the Bulgarian population was not much 
affected. 

On land, the French troops under Sarrail had advanced 
farthest north ; on October 23, 1915, they defeated the Bulgarians 
severely at Rabrova and pushed on to Krivolak, where they again 
engaged the Bulgarians on the 30th and repulsed their attack. 
By November 2, 1915, the French were at Gradsko, where the 
Tcherna joins the Vardar River, hoping to get in touch with the 
Serbians who were defending the Babuna Pass and whose guns 
they could hear pounding over the ten miles of intervening moun- 
tain ridges. The British bore little of this lighting, having made 
their advance over toward Lake Doiran. 

But though the French had arrived within hearing of the 
Serbian guns, they lacked the numbers that would give them the 
strength to push farther. The French were, indeed, redoubling 
their efforts to support the Serbians; but the Allies were paying 
the penalty of their blind confidence that Bulgaria and Greece 
would join them in the Balkan campaigns. In Great Britain 
public sentiment was aroused by the belief that British military 
authorities had somehow failed to do all that might be expected 
for Serbia, a feeling which became more acute when a telegram 
from M. Pachitch, the Serbian premier, was published, in which 
he said : "Serbia is making superhuman efforts to defend her ex- 
istence, in response to the advice and desire of her great ally. 
For this she is condemned to death. ... In spite of the heroism 
of our soldiers, our resistance cannot be maintained indefinitely* 



280 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

We beg you to do all you can to insure your troops reaching us 
that they may help our army. . . ." 

On the same day this was published in the London papers, there 
was also printed a speech made by Lord Lansdowne in the House 
of Lords, in which he stated that the British had landed in 
Saloniki a force of only 13,000 men. 

In France the sentiment in favor of assisting the Serbians was 
so strong that the Cabinet, which did not approve of a Balkan 
campaign, was forced to resign. The French president thereupon 
found a new prime minister in M. Briand, the ex-Socialist, who 
once before had been premier, and, associating with himself M. 
Viviani and other ex-ministers, he formed a Cabinet which was 
prepared to push the campaign in aid of Serbia to the fullest ex- 
tent On the following day, October 29, 1915, General Joffre 
went to London to consult with the British Government and to 
agree with them upon more energetic measures with regard to 
transporting troops to Saloniki. Apparently his mission was 
successful, for after that large forces were sent to the Near East, 
but so far as any effectual help to Serbia was concerned, it was 
now too late. 

Greece now showed a decided change of attitude. Evidently 
this change was not a little due to the success of the Austro- 
Germans and the Bulgarians in the north, and the nearer they 
came to her own frontier, the less cordial became Greece to the 
Allies. King Constantine saw to it that every obstacle, short 
• of armed interference, was put in the way of transportation 
of troops and supplies to the front up in Macedonia. This atti- 
tude was to continue until the Serbians were finally swept out of 
| their native land and the question came up of retiring the allied 
' m troops back to Saloniki, when the British and French took very 
severe measures against the Greek authorities. 

Meanwhile, the invasion of Serbia was rolling onward. Hav- 
ing taken Kragujevatz, where they began restoring the arsenal 
to working order with feverish haste, the Austro-Germans 
crossed the Cacak-Kragujevatz road and continued onward. 
Kovess advanced over the Posetza and the Germans entered 
Jagodina on November 3, 1915. 



THE TEUTONIC INVASION ROLLS ON 281 

By this time the Serbian headquarters at Kralievo was seri- 
ously threatened ; in fact, the Serbian Government was able to 
withdraw just in time to prevent capture and establish itself in 
Rashka. On came the enemy, along both banks of the Western 
Morava. In the streets of Kralievo there was fierce fighting, at 
times hand-to-hand, between the defenders and the Brandenburg 
troops of the invaders, but finally, on November 5, 1915, the 
town was taken. 

Here the invaders made their first large capture of war mate- 
rial, which included 130 guns, though most of them were said to 
be of an obsolete pattern, the others being without breech- 
blocks. Within forty-eight hours the Germans had reached 
Krushevatz, where 3,000 Serbian soldiers were captured, not 
counting 1,500 wounded lying in the hospital. 

The whole Western Morava was now in the hands of the in- 
vaders. To the eastward Gallwitz pressed on until he came to 
the hills south of Lugotzni, where he was held up for a short 
space by the Serbian rear guards. Finally, the heights were taken 
by storm. On November 4, 1915, Parachin on the railroad was 
taken; from this point a branch line runs back to Zaichar, al- 
ready in possession of the Bulgarians, so that now the two armies, 
German and Bulgarian, were almost in touch with each other. 
And next day, in fact, their lines joined up at Krivivir, which 
was taken that night by an assault under cover of darkness. 
Their lines were now only thirty miles from Nish. 

During this time other large bodies of Bulgarians under 
Boyadjieff were also advancing on Nish; one from Pirot, in a 
southerly direction, and another along the road from Kniashe- 
vatz, marching north. They were now closing in on that city 
in overwhelming strength. 



282 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

CHAPTER XXXIV 

THE PALL OP NISH — DEFENSE OP 
BABUNA PASS 

AT a small village called Svrlig, six miles outside the city, the 
**• Serbians began a fight which presently assumed the char- 
acter of some of the bloody battles they had fought earlier in the 
campaign. Again and again the Bulgarian attacks were hurled 
back ; thus the battle lasted for three days, from November 2 to 5, 
1915. The Serbians retired only when the Bulgarians began 
bringing up their big guns, and the shells were already drop* 
ping into Nish, On November 5, 1915, the Bulgarians entered 
the city and took possession, where even yet the British and 
French flags were flying, raised by the Serbians when they still 
thought that only a few days intervened until they would be 
welcoming the allied troops. A hundred guns were taken 
with Nish, though the Serbians claimed that they were old and 
obsolete. 

The fall of Nish, from a political point of view, at least, was 
the worst blow that the Serbians had suffered since the capture 
of Belgrade. The German and Austrian papers made the most 
of it, and indeed all Europe now realized that the last days of 
the Serbian resistance were at hand. 

In Macedonia the Bulgarians under Todoroff were not having 
an easy success. They were being held up still at Katshanik 
Pass, where the Serbians under Colonel Bojovitch were daily 
beating back the Bulgarian assaults and thus keeping open the 
retreat of the main Serbian army. Down in the Babuna Pass the 
Serbians were making a similar stubborn defense, hoping against 
hope that the French would come to their relief. And possibly, 
had it not been for the defeats that the Bulgarians were receiv- 
ing from the French at Strumitza, they would have been able to 
take the pass long before. For in that direction Todoroff had 
been suffering great loss ; so severely was he pressed that he was, 
for the time being, unable to press his advance into the heart of 



THE FALL OF NISH 283 

Macedonia. To this extent, at least, the Allies, and especially 
the French, did help the Serbians. 

The Bulgarians were in exactly the same position, and trying 
to accomplish exactly the same thing, as in the Second 
Balkan War. At that time they were endeavoring to drive a 
wedge in between the Serbians and the Greeks. Now the situa- 
tion was the same, except that the French were in the place of 
the Greeks. 

From Eatshanik to Krivolak the railroad was in Bulgarian 
hands. From Krivolak south to Doiran it was in the hands of 
the Allies, though parts of it were at times under the fire of the 
Bulgarian artillery. South of Katshanik the Bulgarians had 
crossed the road and had pushed westward until they were held 
up at the Babuna Pass. Should the pass be forced the Serbian 
line was in immediate danger of being flanked and the French, 
too, would be in a similar danger, for by striking south the Bui* 
garians could make a move around toward the French rear. 
Hence the almost superhuman efforts both Serbians and French 
were making to close this gap. 

The stand that the Serbians made in Babuna Pass was one of 
those feats which will remain inscribed on the pages of history 
through the ages and will excite the admiration of all people, 
regardless of how their sympathies may lie toward the main 
issues of the war. During the first week of November Colonel 
Vassitch had only 5,000 men with which to dispute the right of 
way against 20,000 Bulgarians. And not only had the Bulgarians 
a great advantage in the matter of numbers, but they were well 
supplied with big guns. Day after day and night after night, 
the little force of Serbians crouched among the deep shadows of 
the defile, sometimes without food, always under a heavy fire, 
now and again making the rock cliffs about them echo with 
bursts of their plaintive, national folk songs. After November 
4, 1915, the Bulgarian attacks became more persistent, and their 
infantry would hurl itself up into the pass; then the Serbians 
would spring up from behind rocks and ledges and throw them- 
selves at their hated kinsmen with naked bayonets, shouting 
such words in their common language as send the flush of rage 



284 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

burning through the cheeks of men and make things red before 
their eyes. Again and again were these sanguinary hand-to- 
hand struggles enacted under the towering rock walls of those 
forbidding mountains, and again and again the Bulgarians were 
thrown back. Meanwhile, the French, only ten miles away, 
were within sound of the firing. 

As a matter of fact, General Sarrail had already done won- 
ders, considering the shortness of the time he had had and the 
small forces and few facilities at his disposal It seemed, to 
those at a distance, such a small gap to fill. And indeed, so 
nearly did Sarrail effect the junction that nothing but the absence 
of reenf orcements at a critical moment caused him to fail. 

As soon as he had landed at SaloniM he had sent every soldier 
under his command along the railroad up the valley of Vardar, 
toward Veles. Unfortunately, transportation facilities were 
poor; the road was only single track; curving and twisting in 
and out among the rising foothills and mountain spurs. 

His first fighting had been at Strumitza station, where he 
defeated the Bulgarians and so assured himself of possession of 
Demir Kapu defile, a cleft in the mountains ten miles in length 
and from which, had they held it, the Bulgarians could easily, 
with a comparatively small force, have prevented any further 
advance. Having secured this pass, Sarrail pushed through it to 
Krivolak, which was reached on October 19, 1915. But here he 
was compelled to make a halt, to fortify this advanced position 
and to await further reenforcements. 

When news of the proximity of the French advance reached 
Vassitch, he redoubled his efforts, and on October 22, 1915, he 
thrust his little army forward and succeeded in recapturing 
Veles. This town lay along the railroad, about thirty-five miles 
northwest of Krivolak. 

Three miles north of Krivolak, on the road to Ishtip, rises a 
steep and forbidding height, called Kara Hodjali (the Black 
Priest), which the French were fortunate enough to take before 
the Bulgarians came up in force. It was this height which en- 
abled them, when the Bulgarians did swarm down on them, some 
days later, to hold their position. From October 30, 1915, until 



THE FALL OP NISH 285 

November 5, 1915, the fighting here was furious, but finally the 
Bulgarians were driven back. Meanwhile, however, the advance 
had been delayed and Vassitch, after holding Veles a week* was 
forced to retire to Babuna Pass again. 

From Krivolak to the pass was twenty-five miles, due east. For 
fifteen miles the road lay across a rolling plain, to the River 
Tserna, as the Macedonians and Serbians called it, or Tcherna, 
meaning "Black, 11 in Bulgarian. Beyond that rose steep and 
difficult mountain ridges, which the Bulgarians had occupied and 
fortified. Yet Sarrail determined to make an effort to force' his 
way across. 

By this time reenforcements had arrived from Saloniki, so he 
began moving across the plain through Negotin and Kavadar to 
th* Tcherna. This stream, though narrow, was deep and un- 
f ordable. It could be crossed only in one place, by a small plank 
bridge, at Vozartzi. 

On November 5, 1915, the French troops began crossing this 
bridge and scaling the heights before them, some of whose peaks 
towered fully a thousand feet above the river. And here it was 
that they first heard the booming of the Serbian guns, on the 
other side of the ridge. 

Sarrail now advanced his men northward, along the west bank 
of the Tcherna, and next day he delivered an assault on the 
Mount of the Archangel, ten miles below Vozartzi. Here was the 
renter of the Bulgarian positions, and here their lines must be 
pierced, if Babuna Pass was to be reached. 

But not only was this position well fortified, but the Bulgarians 
were in superior force to the French. Moreover, as soon as 
Todoroff heard of what was going on, he hurried reenforcements 
to the Bulgarians on Mount Archangel. And this Sarrail knew; 
yet, without hesitation, he began the assault. 

At the first attack the Bulgarian advance lines were driven 
out of the villages at the base of the mountain. The French 
continued their advance, and on November 10, 1915, they 
began a circling movement which resulted in the Bulgarians 
being squeezed out of Sirkovo, a village some distance up the 
mountain. 



286 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

But by this time the Bulgarian reenforcements were begin* 
ning to arrive, and by the end of the second week of the month 
they began to take the offensive. They now had 60,000 men; 
against this force it was obviously impossible for the French to 
make any further headway. 

The Bulgarian commander now showed that it was his inten- 
tion to circle about the French, cut off their retreat by destroy- 
ing the wooden bridge over the Tcherna in their rear, then pin 
them up against the mountain and pound them until they sur- 
rendered, all of which might have been accomplished by a more 
skillful general. 

For three days a violent battle raged, in which the fate of the 
French army more than once hung in the balance, but superior 
military skill counted in the end. Possibly, too, the hearts of the 
Bulgarian soldiers were not in this fight, for the Bulgarian people 
have an almost reverential respect for the French. At any rate, 
they did not show here the same qualities that so distinguished 
them in the war gainst the Turks. At the end of the third day 
their lines began wavering, then broke. So completely were they 
routed that the French were compelled to bury nearly 4,000 of 
the dead they left behind. So close had the fighting been that at 
times the Bulgarian infantry charged the French positions to 
within a dozen yards, but in the last moment lacked the dash to 
carry them through the machine-gun fire and into the French 
ranks. At such moments the French would countercharge, 
whereupon the Bulgarians would turn and flee. Had the 
French been only a few thousand men stronger, they could 
have followed up their advantage, completely routed the Bul- 
garians, pushed their way across the mountains to Babuna 
Pass and so relieved the Serbians, as well as closing the gap 
through which the Bulgarians were yet to penetrate into 
Macedonia. 

The French completed their victory on November 14, 1915; 
until the next day the Serbians held out, hearing the French 
guns, now loud and clear, then receding, hoping every hour to 
see them come streaming over the mountains to their aid. But 
the French could not do the impossible. The Bulgarians had 



THE PALL OP NISH 287 

been thrown back, but not crushed. Sarrail dared not leave that 
slender crossing over the Tcherna too far behind. 

On November 16, 1915, the Serbians finally fell back from the 
pass on Prilep. The French, however, not knowing of the Serbian 
retirement at the time, continued to hold their advanced position 
at Mount Archangel until November 20, 1915, when the Bul- 
garians returned to give them fresh battle. And again the 
French were able to repulse their attacks, but further advance 
was now out of the question. 

The situation of the Serbian armies up in the north was now 
truly desperate. The combined Austro-German and Bulgarian 
lines, beginning at Vishegrad, north of Montenegro, swept in a 
straight line across the heart of Serbia to Nish, where it curved 
downward to Vranya, then swept into Veles and down to where 
the French army prevented it from reaching the Greek frontier. 
It was, in fact, like a great dragnet, which had only to be con- 
tracted to sweep the Serbians inward, over against the awful 
defiles of the Montenegrin and Albanian Mountains, a country 
through which no organized army could pass in a body, and 
through which only the strongest of the noncombatants could 
hope to escape alive. And for a time it seemed as though the 
French would prick a hole through this net, through which, by 
rending it into a wide gap, the Serbians could have been saved. 
But with the retirement of Colonel Vassitch from Babuna Pass 
that last chance was gone ; Serbia was left to her fate. 

Meanwhile the pressure from the north continued irresistibly; 
steadily the Serbian armies were being pushed back against the 
mountain ranges, in comparison to which their own mountains 
were mere hills. And while the Serbians were waxing weaker 
every day, their enemies were growing stronger, not only because 
their long line was contracting, but because now they were being 
constantly reenforced. Also, with the cutting of the railroad, all 
means of supply were gone; the Serbians must now continue 
the fight with their own resources. They were now becoming 
woefully short, not only of ammunition, but of food as well. 
Yet they continued the struggle, retreating before the enemy 
facing them, step by step backward, taking advantage of every 

S— War St 4 



288 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

little natural position to cause the invaders as much loss as 
possible. 

During the two weeks following the fall of Nish the three 
commanders of the invading armies began, and continued, a great 
converging movement on the Eossovo Plain, their object being 
to completely encircle the main Serbian armies. Kovess was 
advancing his forces toward Mitrovitza on the north side of the 
plain from Kralievo up the valley of the Ibar, branching out of 
the Western Morava. In the hills north of Ivanitza the Serbian 
rear guards made a stubborn attempt to hold him back, but 
finally they were dislodged and the Austrians occupied Ivanitza 
on November 9, 1915. Four days later, after driving the Ser- 
bians from their intrenchments in the Stolovi ranges, he reached 
Rashka, which had been the seat of the Serbian Government 
after its flight from Kralievo and which was situated on the Ibar, 
some distance along the road to Mitrovitza and only a few miles 
from Novi Bazar. This place he took on November 20, 1915, and 
with it a small arsenal, in which were fifty large mortars and 
eight guns, which even the German reports described as of 
"somewhat ancient pattern." 

To the eastward the Austrians had taken possession of 
Sienitza and Novi Varosh, up toward the Montenegrin frontier. 
Being expelled from Zhochanitza, the Serbians retired to Mitro- 
vitza. By November 22, 1915, the Austrian lines had followed 
to within five miles of that point. 

Gallwitz and his Germans, in the meanwhile, operating on the 
left flank of the Austrians, was pushing southward, his object 
being to take Pristina, on the east side of the Kossovo Plain and 
about twenty miles southeast of Mitrovitza. But this was a task 
that could not be accomplished without much difficulty, for before 
him towered the backbone of Serbia's main mountain ridges, each 
ravine and each ledge sheltering strong Serbian forces. 

As usual, however, the big guns cleared the way before Gall- 
witz, though at Jastrebatz the Serbians made him pay a heavy 
price in the losses he suffered. On this front the Bulgars were 
now coming close enough to the Germans to support them; 
against the two the Serbians had not the slightest chance. 



THE PALL OP NISH 289 

By November 8, 1915, Gallwitz was starting out from Krushe- 
vatz, after which he followed the banks of a small branch of the 
Western Morava in a southwesterly direction, toward Brus, with 
one part of his force, another being sent due south across a range 
of high hills toward Kurshumlia. He soon reached Ribari and 
Ribarska Bania, where the retreating Serbians gave him what 
he himself described in his official report as "very stiff fighting/' 
Next he stormed the pass through the mountains and thus gained 
an entrance to the valley of the Toplitza, through which flows 
a river westward into the Morava, the main stream by that name, 
though in this district it is known as the Southern Morava. 

A week's hard fighting and marching followed before Kur- 
shumlia could be taken, which the Serbians evacuated without 
resistance, though not before they had stripped it of everything 
that might be of value to the enemy. Here was located a Serbian 
hospital, full of wounded soldiers, all of whom fell into the hands 
of the Germans. 

Moving on from this town, which lay about halfway between 
Krushevatz and Pristina, the Germans next pushed on to Prepo- 
latz defile in the eastern part of the Kopaonik Mountains, which 
they reached on November 20, 1915, then scaled the intervening 
ridges on their way southward. The Serbians struggled on, but 
the same day on which Kovess came within striking distance of 
Mitrovitza, Gallwitz was threatening Pristina from the north 
end of the Lab Valley. 

Thus the Serbians were finally driven out of the last corner 
of their native land, on November 20, 1915. Only a week previ- 
ously Mackensen had communicated with the Serbian leaders, 
offering them terms that certainly should have seemed alluring 
to them in their dire extremity. This offer had been to the effect 
that if they would make peace they should lose nothing but 
Macedonia and a strip of territory along the Bulgarian frontier, 
including Pirot and Vranya. 

The answer of the Serbian Premier, M. Pachitch, to this offer 
of separate terms was : 

"Our way is marked out We will be true to the Entente and 
die honorably/' 



290 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

After the evacuation of Nish the Serbians, under Marshal 
Stepanovitch, retreated to the west bank of the Morava, blowing 
up the bridges as soon as they were across. Here they held up the 
Bulgarians for some time, the river acting as a screen. It will 
have been noted that the Serbian forces always offered the most 
stubborn resistance to the Bulgarians, often coming to close 
quarters with them, whereas the Austro-Germans drove them on 
miles ahead of them. The reason was that the Bulgarians were 
not so well provided with heavy artillery, such as they had being 
more or less matched by the Serbian field pieces. The Germans, 
however, could stand off several miles and shell a Serbian posi- 
tion without the Serbians being able to reply with one effective 
shot. 

In this battle along the Morava, King Peter appeared, hobbling 
up and down the lines under fire, talking to the men here and 
there and uttering words of encouragement This had the effect 
of reviving some of the old enthusiasm which was somewhat 
dampened after such a continuous series of reverses and retreats. 



CHAPTER XXXV 

BULGARIAN ADVA N CE — SERBIAN 
RESISTANCE 

ON November 7, 1915, the Bulgarians captured Alexinatz in 
the north. The Serbian army of the Timok, retiring from 
Zaitchar, barely succeeded in crossing the bridge over the river 
in time to avoid complete disaster. In the south, and on that 
same day, the Serbians were compelled to abandon Leskovatz. 
With the capture of these two towns, and several other minor 
points along the line, the enemy secured complete possession 
of the main line of railroad from Belgrade through Nish to Sofia 
and Constantinople, and of the Nish-Saloniki railroad as far 
south as the French intrenchments at Krivolak. This was to them 
a very material triumph, for hitherto they had been transporting 



BULGARIAN ADVANCE 291 

munitions to the Turks by the water route, along the Danube 
to Rustchuk in northern Bulgaria. This route was not only- 
more direct, but much quicker. Their main object had now been 
accomplished in full. Thus Germany was now in direct railroad 
communication with Asia, and again the German and Austrian 
papers made frequent references to a possible Egyptian cam- 
paign in the future. Another great advantage resulting to both 
Bulgaria and the two Teutonic empires from the capture of 
the railroad was the fact that Bulgaria, whose cereal crops 
had been accumulating in big stores because they could not be 
exported, could now send them into Germany and Austria, where 
they were badly needed, thus defeating in some measure the ob- 
ject of the British blockade. 

Prom Alexinatz the hard-pressed army of the Timok had 
only a single line of retreat, which was by the road to Prokuplie 
and Kurshumlia, and, in danger of being cut off by the Germans 
in the west, it began a hurried march, though fighting rear- 
guard actions all the while, and was thus able to make a junction 
with the Serbians retiring from Krushevatz. Prokuplie did not 
fall into the hands of the Bulgarians until November 16, 1915. 
Northwest of Leskovatz, where the pressure was not quite so 
extreme, the Serbians under Stepanovitch made a determined 
stand on November 11-12, 1915. Charging the Bulgarian center 
suddenly, they broke through their lines and threw them back in 
great confusion and took some guns and a number of prisoners. 
But as usual, the Serbians were not strong enough to follow up 
their advantage, and presently strong reserves came up to re- 
enforce the Bulgarian forces. Two days later the fight was re- 
newed and the Serbians were compelled to retire down the road 
toward Tulare and Pristina. 

Meanwhile the Bulgarians in Uskub were sending forces north 
toward Pristina, and this sector of the campaign was to witness 
the battle of Katshanik Pass, in which the Serbians were yet to 
put up a fight as heroic as any of the whole campaign. 

It has now become quite obvious to the Serbians that they 
were not to receive from the Allies the assistance that was 
necessary to save their main armies. At this time there were 



292 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

reports of a Russian invasion of Bulgaria to be led by General 
Kuropatkin, and it was even said that the czar had himself 
sent a telegram to the Serbian Premier, M. Pachitch, promising 
him such aid if only he could hold out until the end of November, 
1915. How much of these rumors reached the Serbians is not 
known, but at any rate they did not materially affect their 
plan of action. There was only one plan now possible, and that 
was to effect an orderly retreat to some territory where their 
enemies could not follow, and thus keep the army intact. The 
way behind them, into the mountains of Montenegro or Albania, 
lay open. But without railroads, without even one good wagon 
road, it was impossible for an army to pass this way in a body. 
It would have to break into small bands, each taking a separate 
trail by itself. Aside from that there was no food supply; the 
soldiers would starve to death. It was true that the ships of the 
Allies controlled the Adriatic, but without roads no adequate 
food supply could be forwarded to the retreating armies. Nor 
did those barren regions offer any local supply; the poverty- 
stricken natives could barely maintain themselves. The only 
alternative to a retreat through this wilderness was to escape 
south over the Greek frontier, where they could join the French 
and British forces outside SalonifcL 

But this was just the alternative which the Austro-Germans 
and the Bulgarians were determined to deny them. The Serbian 
forces still numbered somewhere around 200,000; this body, 
combined with the allied troops, who would presently be number 
ing another 100,000, would form a military force, its rear pro- 
tected by the British and French ships, which the Teutons 
and Bulgarians would never dare to attack, even though the 
Greeks still continued neutral. Moreover, there was no doubt 
that the Greeks would interfere should the Bulgars cross their 
frontier. 

This force, then, would continue a constant threat to the lines 
of communication and transportation which had just been opened 
up between the Central Powers and Turkey, and along which 
they would soon be sending large quantities of war munitions 
to the Turkish forces at Gallipoli. At any moment the enemy 



BULGARIAN ADVANCE 293 

at Saloniki might strike, and to guard against such a possibility, 
the Austro-Germans would have to maintain larger forces along 
the railroad than they could spare. At all costs the Serbians 
must be prevented from joining the Allies. And this was the ob- 
ject of the powerful effort made by the Bulgarians to hurl their 
forces through the gap between Sarrail and the Serbians in the 
Babuna Pass. 

However, the Serbians decided on a determined effort to break 
through the net that was being drawn around them. This meant* 
first of all, that the Katshanik Pass, which in the second week 
of November, 1915, was still in the hands of the Serbians but 
was being attacked from the south by the Bulgarians, had to 
be first cleared of the enemy, who must then be driven out of 
Uskub, whence the Serbians would then be able to force their 
way west to Tetovo, and then south by the main highway 
through Gostivar and Kitchevo, to Monastir. Once at Monastir 
the road would be comparatively easy to Saloniki, by way of 
the short branch of railroad whose terminus was at Monastir. 

In the effort to carry out this plan one of the most desperate 
battles of the whole Serbian campaign was fought, quite as 
bloody and as heroic as any of the large engagements that were 
fought in the beginning of the invasion. It failed, but it was a 
failure of which no army need to have been ashamed. 

On about November 10, 1915, Bojovitch's army with which 
he had been holding the pass against overwhelming numbers of 
Bulgarians, had dwindled to 5,000. At about that time he was 
reenforced by three regiments, including one from the famous 
Shumadia Division and one from the Morava Division, which 
were sent to him along the railroad, the only bit of railroad re- 
maining to the Serbians, leading from Pristina to Ferizovitch, 
the latter point being some ten miles distant from the Katshanik 
Pass. The weather had begun getting cold and raw by this time, 
and the roads were in a miserable condition. The Serbians, 
though exhausted by their many hardships, and weak from the 
want of proper food, set out from the terminus of the railroad 
and pressed on toward the pass. As soon as they arrived 
Bojovitch prepared to deliver his final attack on the Bulgarians. 



294 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

The Serbian general had now about one hundred field pieces, 
mostly of the French 75 and 155 type; 3 inches and 6 inches. 
With these he began a vigorous bombardment of the Bulgarian 
trenches, raining a continuous shower of shrapnel and high 
explosive shells on them. Under this terrible fire the Bul- 
garians were compelled to retire from their defensive works and 
retreat south for four miles, out of range of the Serbian artillery. 

Then the Serbian infantry charged, pouring volley after volley 
into the ranks of the retreating Bulgarians. The latter began 
fleeing in disorder, but presently they came up against their 
reserves, whereupon they rallied. On came the Serbians with 
cries of "Na nosh! Na nosh!" and "Cus schtick! Cus schtick!" 
('With the knife!" and "With the bayonet!") 

Those were cries that the Bulgarians knew well, and they 
too set up the same shouts. The rifle firing died down. The two 
lines charged each other silently, like warriors of old, with 
points of glittering steel before them. Then came the merging 
clash, and the rows of running men broke into turbulent metees, 
knots of struggling, writhing bodies. Shouts and hideous curses 
sounded up and down the lines like the snarls of savage ani : 
mals. Wounded men reeled, panting and sobbing, sometimes in 
their savage agony springing on their friends and rending them 
with their hands and teeth before they finally collapsed into 
inert heaps, dead. Others, throwing down their unloaded rifles, 
picked up jagged rocks and hurled them into knots of struggling 
men, regardless of whether they smashed in the skulls of friends 
or foes. There had been greater battles in that campaign, but 
never had the fighting been so savage, so bitter; even the 
battle of Timok, the first encounter between Bulgar and Serb, 
was far outdone. 

For a while it seemed as if the Serbians would actually batter 
their way through. One Serbian regiment charged seven times 
and each time captured three guns, only to have them wrested 
out of its hands again. Once the Bulgarians 9 center was pierced 
by a tremendous effort on the part of the Shumadians and the 
Morava troops. The Bulgarians sagged back, and some broke 
and fled. 



BULGARIAN ADVANCE 295 

But again reserves came on the scene, whereas the Serbians 
were, every last man of them, on the front line of the fighting. 
Fresh forces of Bulgarians, being shipped up from Uskub by 
rail, were constantly arriving on the field, and in the end they 
were enough to turn the balance. 

For three days the battle had raged, one continuous series 
of sharp, hand-to-hand encounters, by night as well as by day. 
But finally, on November 15, 1915, the Serbians had reached the 
limit of their strength; the battle was going against them. And 
then they retired from the pass by way of the Jatzovitza Hills 
toward Prisrend. 

Thus the plans of the Serbians to cut their path south to their 
Allies on the Greek frontier were defeated, and they were 
forced back into the north again. The effect of the collapse of 
this effort was immediately seen in the withdrawal from Mitro- 
vitza of the Serbian staff, such members of the Serbian Govern- 
ment as had remained there and the diplomatic representatives 
of the Entente nations. 

The Bulgarians had been perfectly well aware of the plans 
that lay behind the tremendous effort made by the Serbians at 
Eatshanik Pass and they had caught to forestall part of it by 
attacking Kalkandelen, a point which had been taken and retaken 
more than once. On November 15, 1915, they took it again, 
and finally, driving the small Serbian force that had oc- 
cupied it before them, they took Gostivar on the following day, 
the Serbians retiring to Eichivo, on the road to Monaster. On 
about the same day, or a little later, Boyadjieff, after a stiff 
fight, stormed the heights near Gilan, northwest of Kutshanik 
Pass, and, after occupying Gilan itself, advanced toward 
Pristina, reaching its vicinity by November 22, 1915. 

The invaders had succeeded in their main object, which 
was to round up and if possible corner the main Serbian forces; 
they were now rolled back on to the great Kossovo Plain, where 
they were united, but considerably confused and hampered by 
the vast crowds of fugitives fleeing from all parts of the north, 
center and east of the country. Near Mitrovitza, on the north 
of the plain, near Pristina on the east of it, and at Eatshanik 



296 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

at its southern extremity, the Austro-Germans and the Bulga- 
rians had, by the beginning of the fourth week of November, 1915, 
absolutely rounded up and hemmed in all the larger forces of the 
Serbians. Here they must either surrender, engage in one last 
desperate battle that meant certain destruction, or retire back* 
ward into the mountains of Montenegro and Albania, which by 
this time were covered with deep snow. 

It was finally decided to give the enemy one more battle and 
if that failed, as seemed inevitable, to retreat into the wilderness, 
thus defeating the main hope of Mackensen, which was to elimi- 
nate the Serbians entirely as a factor in the war, either by cap- 
turing the whole army or destroying it King Peter himself 
was present, hoping by his presence to revive the spirits of his 
soldiers to such a pitch that they would make a hard fight, for by 
this time they had undoubtedly lost a good deal of their morale. 

Von Gallwitz had passed through Nish and was now driving 
back the Serbian advance posts in the Toplitza Valley, while 
the Austrians, on his right, were pressing on toward Novi Bazar. 
As will be seen by a glance at the map, the Serbians were there- 
fore bearing the concentrated attack of four armies; that which 
operated from Vishegrad, the mixed forces under Edvess, Gall- 
witz's army and the main Bulgarian forces. The pressure was 
incessant. Reenf orcements had been hurried through from Ger- 
many to make good the heavy losses which had been sustained 
during the campaign. Communication between the main Ser- 
bian armies and the Serbians in the south had now been cut 
completely and only Prisrend and Monastir remained to be taken 
before the whole of Serbia and Serbian Macedonia would be 
cleared of the Serbian fighting forces. 

The fight in the region of Pristina was to be the last grand 
battle of the retreat. Here what remained of the Serbian main 
forces took battle formation, finally to dispute the enemy's ad- 
vance. To this end the remaining stock of gun ammunition and 
rifle cartridges had been carefully saved and a store of war 
material gathered at Mitrovitza in readiness for such a stand. 
The weary bullocks were turned loose from the gun carriages 
they hauled, for there could be no taking them along up among 



BULGARIAN ADVANCE 297 

the crags of the mountain country. The guns themselves were 
brought into position on the surrounding hills, trenches were dug 
wherever possible. Machine guns were located to cover the 
mountain paths and valley roads, and strong redoubts, which had 
been thrown up with civilian labor before the army had arrived, 
were manned. And then there remained a brief period during 
which the weary soldiers could take some much needed rest. 

There was something tragically significant that this last stand 
should be made on the plains of Kossovo, or the "Field of the 
Ravens/' as it is sometimes called by the natives, on account a 
the great flocks of those birds that frequent it For on this same 
field it was that Lazar, the last of the ancient Serbian czars, 
whose empire included the whole of Macedonia, Albania, Thes- 
saly, northern Greece, and Bulgaria, had fought just such a last 
desperate battle against the Turks in 1389, and had gone down 
before the Moslem hordes, and with him the Serbian nation. 
Each year the Serbians had commemorated the anniversary of 
this event by mourning. 

Kossovo Plain is a high plateau, forty miles long and ten wide ; 
from its rolling fields the forbidding crags of Montenegro and 
Albania are plainly visible, black in summer and white with snow 
in winter. 

The gray dawn of a November day brought the first mutterings 
of the storm that was presently to break in fury up and down 
the whole front. The ragged, mud-stained cavalry of Serbia 
came trotting wearily through the infantry lines, bearing signs 
of the many skirmishes they had taken part in. The outlying 
posts were exchanging rifle fire with the advance guards of the 
enemy and now, through his powerful field glasses, the Serbian 
commander could see great masses of the invading troops deploy- 
ing against his front. 

"You have come to see the death of a nation," he remarked to 
an American correspondent who was present. 

"It is sad that a stranger's eyes should see us die," said an- 
other officer in high command. 

Soon the crackling and sputtering fire of the Mannlicher rifles 
was rippling up and down the lines; the whole front from 



298 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

Pristina to south of Marcovitza blazed flame, and the last big 
battle of Serbia's resistance was on. Two lines of men, the one 
thick and heavily equipped, the other attenuated and half- 
starved, were locked together in a desperate hand-to-hand 
struggle. 

As though to afford a proper setting for the scene, nature 
herself broke into a wild fury; overhead the sky darkened, then 
the black clouds burst into a howling storm, full of cold sleet 
and rain. Amidst the black, stark hills, in a ceaseless downpour, 
men trampled and slipped through the clay mud, dripping wet 
from head to foot, stabbing, shooting, hurling hand bombs, 
until this peaceful valley echoed to the shouts and roar of com- 
bating armies. 

And as the first day's fighting increased in intensity, the fury 
of the elements overhead intensified, and presently it was im- 
possible to distinguish the roar of the big cannon from the 
deep crash of thunder; intermingling with the shouts and cries 
tf men roared the blast of the gale as it whipped over rocky 
eminences. 

Here again was raised that dreaded battle cry: "Na nosh! 
Na nosh!" With such a shout a whole regiment of the fierce 
Shumadians leaped out of its trenches and tore across the inter- 
vening ground between its trenches and the rocks of a near-by 
eminence which a force of Magyars had made into a position* 
Haggard from pain and starvation, their hair long and matted, 
Borne still in ragged uniforms, but most of them in the sheepskin 
coats of peasants, their eyes bloodshot with rage, they formed not 
a pleasant picture to the intrenched Huns. The rifle fire from 
the eminence leaped to a climax; the Hungarians knew they 
were fighting for their lives. In the horde rushing up the steep 
slope lay an appalling danger. Up they surged, without firing 
a shot, the bayonets gleaming in the lightning flashes. Among 
the rocks appeared white faces behind black rifle barrels. And 
then, with one fierce yell, the men in the shaggy sheepskin coats 
were hurling themselves in among the men in blue-gray uni- 
forms. For a few brief moments there was a wild metee; then 
the men in blue-gray broke and ran. 



BULGARIAN ADVANCE 299 

Such scenes were common throughout the three or four days of 
the battle. 

What made the resistance of the Serbian soldiers so fierce was 
the knowledge possessed by each that there was no alternative 
to victory but a retreat into those white, bleak wilds behind 
him. And there was not a Serbian boy in those ranks who 
did not realize what a winter's march through that country 
would mean. 

From the fall of Nish, in fact, the Serbians had been fighting 
with their backs to a wall, and grim and bloody were the 
struggles between Serb and German in the wild tangle of hills 
that surrounded the Plain of Kossovo. Quarter was neither 
given nor asked, and unlucky was the too venturesome 
Austrian regiment that penetrated the Serbian lines the first 
few days without sufficient support. 

"The 184th Regiment," said one of the soldiers 9 letters, which 
were published in the Austrian papers, "went into a valley and 
was never seen again." One Serbian regiment, stationed to hold 
the mouth to a small valley, to cover the retirement of another 
Serbian regiment, remained at its post for four days, fighting 
off the greater part of an Austro-German division, until, of the 
1,200 men of the original detachment, only sixty-three remained 
on their feet, and most of those wounded. 

To his credit be it said that the aged King of Serbia remained 
with his battling men to the end. While the guns were thunder- 
ing against Pristina and the thin line of the last resistance was 
frenziedly holding back the German and Bulgarian lines, there 
came to an ancient church, which was under fire, a mud-stained 
old man in a field service uniform. The few foreign cor- 
respondents who saw him pass into the church did not recognize 
in this old man, bent, haggard and unshaven, the king who had 
sat on the throne of Kara-Georgevitch — the grandson of that 
famous swineherd. 

Before the high altar the old man knelt in prayer while a 
group of staff officers stood at a distance, watching him in silence. 
The crash of bursting shrapnel came to them from outside and 
once a window was shattered and the little church was filled with 



300 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

splinters of flying glass and still the King of Serbia knelt at his 
devotions, praying that at the last moment his kingdom might be 
saved from destruction. 
But in spite of his appeals the end came. 



CHAPTER XXXVI 

END OF GERMAN PER A T I NS — P L IG HT 
OF SERB PEOPLE — GREECE 

WITH the fall of Pristina and Mitrovitza on November 28, 
1915, ended the operations against Serbia, so far as Mac- 
kensen and his Germans were concerned. On November 28, 1915, 
German Headquarters issued an extraordinary report in which it 
announced that with the flight of the scanty remains of the 
Serbian army into the Albanian Mountains "our great operations 
in the Balkans are brought to a close. Our object, to effect com- 
munications with Bulgaria and the Turkish Empire, has been ac- 
complished/' After briefly describing these operations and ad- 
mitting the "tough resistance" of the Serbians, who had "fought 
bravely," this communique asserted that more than 100,000 of 
them, almost half their original force, had been taken prisoners, 
while their losses from killed and desertions could not be esti- 
mated. The impression left by this document was that there were 
very few of the Serbian soldiers left. On the other hand, the 
Allies claimed that on the date mentioned Serbia still had 200,- 
000 fighting men left. 

At any rate, it was true that Germany had now opened rail- 
road communications with the Orient. Her engineers and mili- 
tary railroad staff had repaired the damage the retreating Ser- 
bians had done to the main trunk line, and early in December 
through trains were running from Berlin to Constantinople. 
Having accomplished this, Germany withdrew most of her troops 
from the Balkans, leaving the Bulgarians to finish Macedonia, and 
Austria to deal with Montenegro. 



END OF GERMAN OPERATIONS 301 

It was a nation, rather than an army, that was in flight; not 
for many hundreds of years has there been such an instance in 
history. When Nish had fallen into the hands of the enemy, the 
population in general had realized that the whole land was go- 
ing to be overrun by the invaders. Then almost the whole people 
had set out in flight for Monastir, near the Greek frontier, where 
the Bulgarians had not yet closed in. On its retreat from Kossovo 
Plain the Serbian army caught up with the rear of this fleeing 
throng. Winter had set in unusually early that year. Even at 
Saloniki on the shores of the tepid iEgean and sheltered behind a 
ring of hills, where snow had not fallen in November in ten years, 
a fierce northerly gale, known as the "Vardar wind/ 9 had sprung 
up on November 26, 1915, and kept the air swirling with snow- 
flakes, while up in the near-by hills the snow was already two feet 
deep. Up in the Albanian Mountains the paths and trails were 
already choked, while chilling blasts of sleet-laden winds howled 
through the defiles. 

The way from Upper Serbia to Monastir led across great, 
bleak slopes, which were now being lashed by these terrible winter 
storms. Old women and children fell by the wayside; young 
mothers, hugging their babies to their breasts, sought shelter 
behind rocks and died there of weakness and starvation. All 
along the road of retreat was marked by the abandoned dead 
and dying. One of the very few descriptions of this phase of the 
Serbian flight that has appeared was written by Mr. William G. 
Shepherd, special correspondent of the American United Press : 

"The entire world must prepare to shudder," he writes from 
Monastir, "when all that is happening on the Albanian refugee 
trails finally comes to light. The horrors of the flight of the hap- 
less Serbian people are growing with the arrival here of each new 
contingent from the devastated district. 

"They say that nearly the whole route from Prisrend to Mon- 
astir, ninety miles, is lined with human corpses and the car- 
casses of horses and mules dead of starvation, while thousands 
of old men, women, and children are lying on the rocks and 
in the thickets beside the trail, hungry and exhausted, await- 
ing the end. 



302 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

"At night the women and children, ill-clad and numbed with 
cold, struggle pitifully around meager fires of mountain shrub, 
to resume in the morning the weary march toward their supposed 
goal of safety — Monastir. But by the time this dispatch is 
printed Monastir, too, may be in the hands of the enemy. This 
will leave them to the mercy of the inhospitable mountain fast- 
nesses, where for the past two days a terrific blizzard has been 
raging, or to the Bulgarians/' 

The chief of the Serbian General Staff, Field Marshal Putnik, 
old and now very ill, was driven along the road in a carriage until 
his horses fell dead of exhaustion. His escort of soldiers carried 
him for two days in an ordinary chair to which poles had been 
tied for handles and so brought him to safely. One account re- 
ported that the carriages of the retreating Serbians literally 
passed over the dead who had fallen in the road, for it was im- 
possible either to spare the time to drag them out of the way or 
to make a detour to avoid them. 

King Peter himself had escaped from Prisrend by motor car, 
accompanied by three officers and four men, arriving in Liuma 
over the Albanian frontier. Thence the monarch and his remain- 
ing handful of followers set out through the mountains, the 
king traveling part of the way on horseback and partly in a litter 
slung between two mules, through mud and a constant downpour 
of rain. During the evening of the second day they lost the trail, 
which was only rediscovered after much wandering. 

After two weeks 9 rest at Scutari, King Peter continued his 
journey to San Giovanni di Medua, Durazzo, and Avlona, whence 
the party crossed over the Adriatic to Brindisi in Italy, where the 
king remained incognito for six days. After a two days 9 sea 
voyage from Brindisi the old monarch finally arrived in Salonikt, 
where he was received with all honors by the Greek authorities 
and the Allies. 

It is estimated that the number of civilians in flight over these 
terrible roads numbered fully 700,000. And of these fully 200,- 
000 died. 

"It seems so useless, 99 writes a German officer, in a letter which 
was published in a German paper, "for there is nowhere else for 



END OF GERMAN OPERATIONS 808 

us to reach except the sea and there is nothing but the smelfof 
dead bodies of horses, men, cattle — a discord of destruction that 
seems contrary to all our civilization. Our own men are apathetic 
and weary, and have no heart in the business. The Bulgarian 
soldiers are not very popular with us. In the first place they 
are more like Russians than Germans, and there is something 
about the Slav that makes one's hair bristle. Their cruelly is 
terrible/ 9 

Meanwhile, Prisrend, on the extreme right of the Serbian main 
force, did not fall till November 80, 1915. From Mitrovitza a 
part of the Serbian army had retired and fought the Austrians 
again at Vutchitra, but was beaten and driven across the Sit- 
nitea, on the western bank of which stream it continued fighting 
until finally it fled into the mountains. 

The main line of retreat was along the highway from Pristina 
to Prisrend. The Bulgarians, pressing on after, took the heights 
west of Ferizovitch and also advanced northward toward Ipek, 
against which point KOvess had sent a detachment. The retreat 
to Prisrend was covered by the Shumadians. On November 27, 
1915, 80,000 Serbians stood at bay in front of this town, but next 
day, after a few hours 9 fighting, and having used up all their am- 
munition, they unbreeched their guns and fled across the frontier 
into Albania, making along the White Drin for Eula Liuma, while 
several thousands of them fell prisoners into the hands of the 
enemy. Thus was the last shot of the Serbian resistance in the 
northern section of the country fired. 

The retreat of the Serbian armies through the mountains of 
Albania was almost as heartrending as the flight of the civilian 
population. Day by day, thousands of men, ill-clad and ill-shod, 
or with bare and bleeding feet, so famished that they fed on the 
flesh of dead horses by the wayside, stumbled painfully and 
wretchedly along, over trails deep in snow, some going west 
toward Scutari, others attempting to reach Greece through El- 
bassan and Dibra. All semblance of military formation or order 
was lost; they were now nothing more than a fleeing mob of 
disorganized peasants, some unarmed, others with guns but no 
ammunition. Officers and men trudged on side by side, on equal 

T— War St 4 



804 



THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 





M 



■Jkniazi 



fmorM ^ 

fcTf r 







vOPRisrtNA 



=L\T- 




tcvrA*/ 



*%«© 



/ '> V 





THE HEAVY DOTTED 
UNE% A HOW THE 
LINE OF THE 
SERBIAN RETREAT 

M»a»« faowticws 

*CALB OF MIWC* 



o io w »o 40 jo 



PRILBP. 




SffRAT 



KAVAOAA tO 

Afy © R E" ET C Cjb 

*^ \ SALONIKA 



RETREAT OF SERBIANS 



END OF GERMAN OPERATIONS 305 

terms. Once an Austrian light mountain battery, following on 
the heels of the retreat, had arrived at the mouth of a long defile 
through which the last of the retreating Serbians were winding 
their way into the mountains, in single file. The Austrian bat- 
tery immediately opened fire and swept the defile from end to end 
of all human life. 

While the main Serbian armies were being driven out of their 
native land, the Bulgarians, after taking Babuna Pass and Kit- 
chevo and Kruchevo, on November 20, 1915, halted on their way 
to Monastir, now only a few miles distant. Monastir itself is 
practically an unfortified city; it lies on the edge of a broad level 
plain, offering not the least advantage to a defending force. A 
few guns might easily sweep the city into a heap of ruins. But 
above Monastir towers a lofty mountain, so steep that even under 
peaceful conditions a strong man finds it hard to climb. A few 
guns placed in position among the rocks on top of this mountain 
could command the city and all of the surrounding plain within 
range of their fire. Therefore, the problem of an invading force 
is to take the mountain outside the city, rather than the city it&elf . 

Beyond this lofty eminence, to the westward, rise thickly 
wooded ridges, rugged mountain fastnesses, through which, along 
the bottom of a winding defile, runs the road to Resen and Ochrida 
and three large lakes : Ochrida, Prespa, and Little Prespa. Below 
these lakes, which almost join, is the Greek frontier; above them, 
and some distance beyond, lies the Albanian frontier. 

For some days Vassitch and his remaining force of a few thou- 
sand footsore soldiers remained at Prilep, awaiting the Bul- 
garians. When finally they took Brod, with the object of cutting 
off his retreat, he quitted Prilep and fell back on Monastir, then 
retired over the mountains to Resen. Here he was joined by two 
barefooted regiments that had come down from the north with 
the refugees, but they were too exhausted to be of much value for 
fighting. Altogether they numbered about 7,000, while the pur- 
suing Bulgarians were at least 30,000 strong. At Resen, where 
the roughness of the country enabled them to make some re- 
sistance, they fought the last battle, or skirmish rather, that was 
to take place between the Serbians and the invaders, then retired 



306 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

down along the eastern shore of Lake Prespa and so over into 
Greece. And now not one Serbian soldier remained either in 
Serbia proper or Serbian Macedonia. Many of them were yet 
to do some more fighting, against the Austrians at least, for Aus- 
tria had yet to invade and conquer that other little Serbian state, 
Montenegro. As yet the Austrian right wing of Kdvess's army 
had not entered Montenegro, but maintained itself at Vishegrad, 
from which, using it as a pivot, the center and left wing had 
swept over Serbia. From Vishegrad across the northern bound- 
ary of Montenegro stretched another force of Austrians, meant 
only to hold the Montenegrins back. Hitherto, the Montenegrin 
army had been facing this line, without being able to afford the 
Serbians much assistance. It was not until after the last of the 
Serbians had been dealt with that the Austrians turned their 
attention toward the Montenegrins and the conquest of their 
rugged country. Nor did they seriously undertake this task un- 
til toward the end of the year; the whole of this campaign is an 
episode by itself and will be dealt with presently. 

With the disappearance of the last of the Serbian armies into 
the defiles of the Albanian Mountains, the French and British 
forces, which had been vainly endeavoring to save Serbia, had no 
longer any special object in holding their advanced positions in 
Macedonia, especially as they were not strong enough to under- 
take an offensive movement, even after the last Serbian defeat, 
though during November, 1915, large reenforcements had been 
arriving and disembarking in Saloniki. As already stated, the 
rumors of military action on the part of Russia against Bulgaria 
had proved unfounded and a second bombardment of Varna had 
had no effect on the course of the campaign. Italy had done 
nothing in the Balkans as yet, except to fire a few shells into 
Dedeagatch on November 11, 1916. A month later she landed an 
army on the Albanian coast, at Avlona and elsewhere, but, while 
this facilitated the escape of many of the Serbian refugees, it 
was too late to have any effect on the military situation. 

Throughout the latter part of November, 1915, after the battle 
between General Sarrail's army at Mt. Archangel, the British 
had sent up considerable forces which were deployed on the 



END OF GERMAN OPERATIONS 307 

French right and were holding the mountain chain to the north 
of Lake Doiran, forming a natural boundary between Greek and 
Bulgarian territory. 

Though Sarrail had repulsed all the Bulgarian attacks, his 
position was rendered embarrassing by the fact that the Greek 
Government had decided to concentrate a large part of its army 
in that particular corner of its frontiers. Obviously, the Greeks 
had a right to make whatever movements they wished on their 
own territory, but the consequences were singularly unfortunate, 
both for the French and the British, for the Greek commander 
in chief found it necessary to move troops and stores along the 
same line of railroad which the British and the French were 
using. This meant a curtailment of supplies and the checking 
of effective and continuous supports for the fighting line. 

Added to this was the sudden coming of an early winter. 
While snow was falling even in Saloniki, up in the hills where the 
advanced lines were deployed a furious blizzard was blowing, 
against which the soldiers were only prepared with small tents 
of waterproof sheets for shelters. Down in the base camps the 
gale swept down the tents so that the men were practically unpro- 
tected from the fury of the freezing blasts. At the front the 
enemy's positions were no longer visible, the intervening valleys 
being full of swirling clouds of snow. On November 27, 1915, the 
French War Office issued an official communique, which gave the 
first indication of what was about to happen: 

"In view of the present situation of the Serbian armies our 
troops, which have been occupying the left bank of the Tcherna, 
have been removed to the right bank of the river, the movement 
being effected without difficulty." 



308 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 



CHAPTER XXXVII 

ALLIES WITHDRAW INTO GREECE — A TTIT UDE 
OF GREEK GOVERNMENT 

A GENERAL withdrawal into Greece, with Saloniki as base, 
had been decided on by General Sarrail, in accordance with 
instructions from Paris and London. 

This now brought up a very peculiar and delicate situation 
between the Allies and Greece. As a neutral, Greece was 
strongly disposed to take up the same attitude toward the bellig- 
erents as Holland, who during the early part of the war had been 
interning great numbers of the English and Belgian soldiers who 
had sought refuge inside her boundaries when the Germans had 
taken Belgium. The Allies, on the other hand, were not inclined 
to accept this point of view, as Greece was bound to Serbia by a 
defensive treaty and therefore could not assume full neutrality 
without repudiating this treaty. To this Greece opposed the con- 
tention, based on a technicality, that the treaty with Serbia had 
in view only a defensive alliance against Bulgaria, whereas now 
the Austrians and Germans were attacking, as well as the Bul- 
garians. The successes of the Austro-German forces had stiff- 
ened the determination of the Greek King and his Government to 
stand by this policy. 

However, there was ample room for a diversity of opinion 
among the Greeks themselves; on which side Greece's political 
interests lay was largely a matter of individual opinion. The 
chief, and probably the only, reason why there was any popular 
feeling in favor of the Allies was because they were opposed to 
the Bulgarians, whom the Greeks hate in season and out. 

But on the other hand, Greek ambitions and Italian ambitions 
clash in Albania, in the islands of the Archipelago and in Asia 
Minor. Both nations hope to acquire territory in those countries. 
And Italy was one of the Allies. Had Italy not entered the war 
it is very probable that Greece would have aligned herself with 
the Serbians, French, and British in the early stages of their 



ALLIES WITHDRAW INTO GREECE 309 

operations. But when Italy declared war on the side of the 
Allies, there was no doubt in the minds of the Greek politicians 
that she had been promised much, if not all, of the territories on 
which they had their own eyes. Added to this, the King of Greece 
was related to the German Emperor through marriage, his queen 
being a sister of Emperor William. 

All through November, 1915, and during the early part of 
December, 1915, the ambiguous, doubtful attitude of Greece was 
causing the French and the British much anxiety. It was a 
curious and, for the Allies, a very dangerous situation. Faced 
as they were by an enemy much their superior in numbers, there 
was danger of finding that disadvantage considerably intensified 
by the inclusion of Greece among their enemies. 

The unrestricted command of the base at Saloniki was now 
indispensable for the safety of the allied forces. They had 
landed under the terms of a "benevolent neutrality/ 9 even at the 
request of the Greek Government, while Venizelos was at its 
head. With the change in premiers had come a complete change 
in attitude. The Greeks had begun hampering the Allies at every 
turn. Prices were raised; they were called upon to pay in ad- 
vance, and in gold, for the use of the railroads in transporting 
the troops. Further, the Greek troops were actually occupying 
the defensive positions around Saloniki; positions which the 
Allies should occupy and strengthen, if they were to make their 
base secure. The Greeks stretched barbed-wire entanglements 
between themselves and the allied troops. Submarine mines, 
stored as if ready to be launched, were discovered at the month of 
the Vardar River, and the fort at the entrance to the upper Gulf 
of Saloniki had been secretly strengthened and heavy guns 
mounted. The port swarmed with German and Austrian and Bul- 
garian spies; its atmosphere was heavy with hostility to the 
Allies. Prince Andrew of Greece, in an interview with a neutral 
journalist, said that as long as 80,000 French soldiers were 
hostages to the Greek army for the Allies 9 good behavior, the 
Allies would never dare to bombard Athens or any other Greek 
port. So critical did the situation become that one Sunday the 
British ships cleared for action. 



310 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

And now, after the failure of the French troops to join up 
with the Serbians in Babuna Pass, arose the probability of with- 
drawing their forces in Serbian and Bulgarian territory across 
the frontier to Saloniki. Thus arose the question : How would 
Greece comport herself on their retirement? Would she give 
them complete freedom of communication south of the frontier to 
Saloniki? Or would she seek to disarm and intern them and 
such Serbians as crossed the border? 

A brief review of the political events that had been happening 
in Athens since the situation of the Serbians had become acute 
will show how divided Greece herself was on these questions. 

When France and Groat Britain decided to assist Serbia by 
sending forces to her support, Venizelos was premier of Greece 
and it was with his consent that the first contingents began dis- 
embarking in Saloniki on October 5, 1915. His policy of thus 
aiding the operations was thoroughly discussed in the Greek 
Chamber of Deputies and approved by a majority of 45 in a 
house of 257. 

The following day King Constantine summoned the premier 
and told him that he could not support his policy and demanded 
his resignation, which was given. In his place the king installed 
M. Zaimis. In a meeting of the Chamber a day or two later, on 
October 11, 1915, the new premier defined the policy of his Gov- 
ernment as one of armed neutrality, adding that "our attitude 
in the future will be adapted to events, the course of which will 
be followed with the closest of attention." Whereupon Venizelos 
arose, protesting, and made a speech that clearly defined the 
attitude that he thought Greece should follow, and which he felt 
was supported by a majority of the people. 

"Even if there did not exist the treaty with Serbia," he said, 
"our interests oblige us to depart from neutrality, as another 
state wishes to aggrandize itself at our expense. The question 
is not whether we ought to make war or not, but when we ought 
to make war. In any case we ought not to allow Bulgaria to 
crush Serbia. The national soul will say that it is to the interest 
of Greece that Bulgaria should be crushed. If Bulgaria should 
conquer, Hellenism will be completely vanquished." 



ALLIES WITHDRAW INTO GREECE 311 

That Venizelos spoke for the majority of the deputies was soon 
to manifest itself. On November 4, 1915, in the course of a debate 
in the Chamber, a Venizeloist deputy, M. Vlachos, made some 
criticism of the minister of war, which caused the latter to leave 
the Chamber in violent anger. The scene provoked a tumult, 
in which cheers and protests mingled. The deputy finally 
apologized and order was reestablished, the minister of war re- 
turning to his seat It was then that Venizelos arose and ex- 
pressed the opinion that an apology was also due from the war 
minister because of his disrespectful behavior in leaving the 
House. The premier, M. Zaimis, thereupon declared that, in the 
opinion of the Government, the war minister's conduct had been 
perfectly correct and he demanded a vote of confidence from the 
assembled deputies. 

M. Venizelos replied by delivering a strong attack on the Gov- 
ernment's war policy, which, he said, was not supported by a 
majority, deploring that Bulgaria was being allowed to crush 
Serbia, that she might fall on Greece later. 

As a result of the vote that followed this discussion, the 
Chamber refused to express confidence in the present Govern- 
ment by a vote of 147 against 114, in consequence of which the 
premier, Zaimis, was compelled to resign. The king, however, 
still persisted in his opposition to the policy of the Venizelos 
parly and immediately called upon M. Skouloudis, one of his own 
partisans, to form a new cabinet. To avoid any more expressions 
of disagreement with the king's policy on the part of the Cham- 
ber, the new premier, only a week later, ordered the dissolution 
of that body, his pretext being that the country at large should 
have an opportunity of expressing itself through a general elec- 
tion. This was a move which Venizelos had always opposed ; for, 
he pointed out, so long as the Greek army was mobilized and 
Greek soldiers were excluded from casting their votes, the true 
opinion of the people could never be determined. And even if 
the soldiers were allowed to vote, they would be under the influ- 
ence of their officers, who always supported the king's policy. 

This high-handed procedure on the part of the Government 
created a bad impression in France and Great Britain. What 



812 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

added to that was the dispatch which announced, only a few days 
before, the arrival in Saloniki in a special train from Sofia of 
four German officers : Baron Falkenhausen, Colonel von Erbst- 
ner, General von der Goltz's A. D. C., Prince von Bttlow's son, and 
another. After a short stay in Saloniki they departed for Athens 
in a Greek torpedo boat, accompanied by Greek officers of high 
rank. It was just after the arrival of such a mission in Sofia 
that Bulgaria had made her agreement with Germany, promising \ 
her support i*> driving out the Serbians. And meanwhile Premier 
Skouloudis, doing as Radislavov, the Premier of Bulgaria, had 
done, was protesting daily that Greece had no intention of going 
against the Allies. 

But incidentally he also expressed the opinion publicly that 
Greece's "benevolent neutrality" did not extend to protecting 
the allied troops, whether French, British, or Serbian, from the 
operation of international law, and that, therefore, these troops 
would be disarmed and interned on their passing over into 
Greek territory. 

His words created some alarm in the allied countries, which 
was deepened when it became known that Greece was concen- 
trating 200,000 men in and around Saloniki. The question 
now arose, Should the Allies submit quietly while Greece 
carried out this publicly declared intention, or should they 
persuade her to a change Of opinion by the application of armed 
force? 

Ordinary arguments had proved unavailing and much time 
was lost in talk. Opinion and feeling began growing heated in 
France and Great Britain over the delay, as well as over the 
question itself. France in particular called for immediate and 
energetic action, urging that it was necessary to show the iron 
hand under the velvet glove. The iron hand was not a mere 
figure of speech, for the British and French fleets could not only 
bombard the coast cities of Greece, but institute a blockade which 
would cut off all her supplies. 

On November 19, 1915, the British Legation in Athens, com- 
municated a statement to the press, beginning with the following 
passage: 



ALLIES WITHDRAW INTO GREECE 813 

"In view of the attitude adopted by the Hellenic Government 
toward certain questions closely affecting the security of the 
allied troops and their freedom of action (two privileges to 
which they are entitled in the circumstances in which they landed 
on Greek territory), the allied powers have deemed it necessary 
to take certain measures, the effect of which is to suspend the 
economic and commercial facilities which Greece has hitherto 
enjoyed at their hands." 

At the same time came a dispatch from Athens announcing 
that the French and British ships had begun to institute a 
severe search on board all steamers flying the Greek flag in the 
JEgean and in the Mediterranean. 

Thus a partial embargo was placed on Greek shipping, only 
severe enough to make the Greek Government realize what might 
happen should a thorough blockade be established. At the same 
time two visits that were paid to King Constantine while this 
crisis was acute had a favorable influence on it. One was from 
M. Denys Cochin, a member of the French Cabinet and a man 
held in the highest esteem in Greece; the other was from Lord 
Kitchener, who was on his way back from an inspection of the 
British forces in Gallipoli, whither he had been dispatched by his 
colleagues in the British Cabinet to report on the advisability or 
the reverse of abandoning that peninsula. 

Still the negotiations were spun out and it was not till 
November 23, 1915, that matters were brought to a head by the 
presentation of a combined note to Greece. 

This note demanded formal assurances that the allied troops 
should under no circumstances be disarmed and interned, but 
should be granted full freedom of movement, together with such 
facilities as had already been promised. Greece was only re- 
quired to live up to her previous promises ; she need not abandon 
her attitude of neutrality. On the other hand, the note categori- 
cally stated that the Allies would make restitution for all terri- 
tory occupied and pay suitable indemnities. Two days later the 
Greek Government replied in friendly but somewhat vague terms, 
which were not considered satisfactory, and on the 26th the 
Entente sent a second note asking for a precise assurance regard- 



814 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

ing the liberty of movement of the allied troops* The Greek 
answer was liked so little that it was decided to tighten some- 
what the grip of the iron hand. 

Thus what is known to international law as a "measure of 
constraint short of war" was instituted. The pressure was at 
once felt. At Saloniki particularly the people were obliged to 
live from hand to mouth, the supply boats being able to bring in 
only enough flour to last two days. So great was the need of 
grain in Greece itself that a cargo of flour which had been 
condemned at Piraeus was baked into bread. The Bulgarians 
attempted to relieve the situation by sending in 15,000 tons of 
wheat by rail from Sofia, but as the line over which it passed 
through Drama was presently occupied by the British, this source 
of supply could not be maintained, nor would it have been 
sufficient to have relieved the situation. 

The Greek public and their Government were strongly im- 
pressed. One dispatch stated that Greek troops were patrolling 
the streets of Athens and that a heavy guard had been placed 
around the royal palace in fear of revolutionary attempts. Mean- 
while the Cabinet Council was sitting in permanent conference 
with the chiefs of the General Staff trying to come to a decision. 

"You are wicked/ 9 said M. Rallis, Greek Minister of Justice, 
to a British newspaper correspondent; "the only thing we want 
is peace and you force us to make war. You are starving us; 
two wheat vessels were stopped to-day. You want us to save you 
when no English soldiers shed their blood for Serbia, when 
scarcely an English rifle has been fired. We do not wish to be 
another Serbia." 

The newspapers which supported Venizelos, on the other hand, 
accused the Government of having precipitated the country to 
the verge of a conflict with the Entente Powers by want of 
foresight and a policy of deception. 

Finally, however, the Greek Government came to terms, ac- 
cepting practically all that the Allies demanded and withdrawing 
most of the Greek soldiers from Saloniki, while the Gevgheli- 
Saloniki and the Doiran-Saloniki railroads were handed over to 
the Allies with their adjacent roads and land. King Constantino 



ALLIES WITHDRAW INTO GREECE 315 

complained that he was between the devil and the deep sea, or 
words to that effect, and protested that Greek neutrality was 
violated, though he did not deny that he had at first acceded to the 
invitation Venizelos had extended to the Allies to send troops to 
Saloniki. The king, anxious to be rid of his unwelcome guests, 
let it be understood that if the Allies would only retire from 
Greece altogether, he and his army would protect their retreat 
and see that they were not molested on embarking. But this was 
a proposition which the Entente Powers were not inclined to 
consider at all by this time. 

Meanwhile, before Greece was finally compelled to come to a 
complete understanding with the Allies regarding her attitude 
in the event of a general retirement on Saloniki, General Sarrail's 
position was becoming decidedly dangerous, The Bulgarian 
armies were, for the time being, busy pursuing the last remnants 
of the Serbians out of the country beyond Monastir, but presently 
they would be able to give their full attention and strength to 
an attack on the Allies. Thanks to the difficulties occasioned 
by the concentration of Greek troops in that section of the 
country, the British forces had not been afforded ample means of 
transportation and they were arriving but very slowly, though 
gradually they had established a line along the rugged hills to 
the north of Doiran. They had not, at the end of November, 
1915, fought a general action as yet. 

General SarraiPs position was a remarkably insecure one. 
The taking of Prilep, and subsequently the occupation of Mona- 
stir by the Bulgarians, practically turned his line and exposed 
him to a perilous flanking movement against his extreme left on 
the Tcherna. His troops were bunched up in a very acute salient, 
the head of which was just south of Gradsko, and his front very 
largely conformed to the convolutions of this and the Vardar 
River. On his right, from before Strumitza Station, the British 
continued the line to the north of Lake Doiran. 

It will seem somewhat strange that, though the British were 
the first to disembark in Saloniki in the first week in October, 
1915, two months should elapse before they took any prominent 
part in the fighting. The British commander, General Mahon, 



316 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

reached Greece on October 12, 1915, to be followed a month later 
by General Munro, but the British made no move of any im- 
portance. There were some trifling encounters with outposts, 
and these had bedn magnified into battles by the dispatches from 
Greece, but the truth was that the French had borne the brunt of 
the struggle on the Tcherna, perhaps because they were then 
more numerous than the British, who were not actively engaged 
in force until the first week of December. Their trenches, north 
and west of Lake Doiran, among bleak hills covered with snow, 
spread out fanwise in the direction of Strumitza, which they 
had taken over from the French when the latter had gone up the 
Vardar to Krivolak. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 

BULGARIAN ATTACKS — ALLIES CON- 
CENTRATE AT SALONIKI 

ON December 5, 1915, the Bulgarians gave the first indica- 
tions of their preparations to break through the thin lines 
of the Allies. On that date the British were to have their first 
taste of heavy fighting. The Bulgarians delivered a massed at- 
tack at two points; one at Demir Kapu, another against the 
British positions on the Rabrovo-Doiran road. 

The first assault of the enemy succeeded in gaining a foothold 
in the British trenches, but the British were presently able to 
regain their positions and drive the Bulgarians back. Here again 
it was obvious that the hearts of the Bulgarian soldiers were 
not in this fighting. Most of the British soldiers had never 
seen any fighting before, yet they were able to accomplish what 
the fierce Serbians had not been able to do; drive a superior 
force of Bulgarians back at the point of the bayonet. Numbers 
of the Bulgarians were taken prisoners, willingly enough, it 
seemed, and they told their captors that up to the actual fight- 
ing, until they actually saw the troops they were engaging, they 
had been under the impression they were to fight Greeks. 



BULGARIAN ATTACKS 317 

This first attack made the British commander realize, how- 
ever, that the enemy opposing him was vastly his superior in 
numbers. A second assault, delivered in the face of a hot 
fire from the British, but with overwhelming numbers, drove 
the British soldiers from their first line of trenches; but they 
held on to their second line and every effort to expel them was 
a costly failure. 

Meanwhile, Sarrail, on the Vardar, under cover of a feigned 
attack on Ishtip from Kara Hodjali, drew in his men from the 
Tcherna, and before the enemy had realized what he was doing, 
he had retired from the Kavaar Camp with all his stores, of 
which there was by this time a tremendous accumulation, and 
entrained at Krivolak, blowing up the bridges and tearing up 
the railroad behind him. On December 5, 1915, he had reached 
the north end of the Demir Kapu Gorge (Defile) practically 
without opposition, but in the gorge he had to fight hard to get 
out of it. 

He had had the forethought, however, to throw up strong de- 
fensive works at the entrance and this enabled him to repel 
the attacks of the Bulgarians in spite of the determination with 
which they were being pushed. The retreat through the defile 
was an extremely precarious and difficult task, as there was no 
way out except along the railroad, running along a narrow 
shelf cut out of the steep, rocky banks of the Vardar. Yet the 
retreat was successfully accomplished, with all the stores, 
and, after destroying a tunnel and a bridge across the Vardar, it 
was continued to Gradetz, where heavy intrenchments had been 
thrown up. 

Here, on December 8-9, 1915, the Bulgarians delivered 
a very violent attack, but were driven off with heavy losses. On 
the 10th the French announced that they were now occupying 
a new front, along the Bojimia, a branch of the Vardar, and 
that they were in touch with the left flank of the British. 

Meanwhile, on the east side of the Vardar, General Todoroff 
was continuing his attack on the British. He had massed to- 
gether about 100,000 men. On the morning of the 6th, after the 
first assault and under cover of dense mists thai were rolling up 



318 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

from the swamps down near Saloniki, he was able to get in close 
to the British without being seen. As the dawn began break- 
ing he poured a rain of high-explosive shells on the British, 
which here consisted mostly of Irish regiments. 

As on the day before, the enemy came on in successive waves, 
so thick that the later ones carried the first before them, even 
when they turned to flee from the heavy fire of the British 
Finally the British were again compelled to give way before the 
heavy impact of numbers. By evening they had retired two 
miles, not a great deal, considering the masses that were driving 
them. More than once it looked as though the British would be 
literally overwhelmed and annihilated. Eight guns were lost 
and about 1,800 men were killed or wounded. 

The retirement had been in the direction of the Vardar and by 
the end of the second week of December, 1915, the British were 
able to make another stand over on the banks of the Vardar, 
below the right wing of the French. 

The whole Bulgarian field army was evidently divided between 
the Rabrovo road and north of Strumitza Junction. It was 
clearly the enemy's intention to drive a wedge into the center, 
thus to isolate all the northern divisions and to bring about a 
general disaster. 

Sarrail recognized his danger and began to retire his northern 
units, covering the movement with a fiercely contested action 
in the region of Strumitza. 

By December 11, 1915, the French and British lines were 
close back on the Greek frontier, and although the Bulgarians 
delivered a heavy attack on that day, it was their final effort; 
the following day the Allies were across the frontier and the 
Bulgarians made no attempt to follow them. Possibly they were 
restrained by their German allies, or possibly they had no desire 
to involve Greece, for had the Bulgarians set foot on Greek 
soil, it is more than likely that Greek troops would have re- 
sisted them, and once such an encounter had taken place, Greece 
would probably have thrown herself into the war on the side of 
the Allies. As they retired, the allied troops destroyed the rail- 
road behind them and set fire to Gevgheli and other towns on the 




i 

1* 



it 
u 



I 



BULGARIAN ATTACKS 319 

other side of the border. And, by a fortunate coincidence, it 
was on the day before they crossed the frontier that Greece had 
finally accepted the proposals of the Allies that their forces were 
to be allowed freedom of movement. 

Considering the tremendous difficulties he had had to contend 
with, in the face of the immense strength of his enemy, General 
Sarrail's retreat by no means diminished his reputation as a 
military leader. Although his men had at their disposal only one 
single-track line of railroad and no roads, their retirement was 
conducted in such order that they were able to save and with- 
draw all their stores, while the total of their casualties did not 
exceed 3,500, a very moderate loss under the circumstances. 
In less skillful hands the retreat might easily have developed 
into an irretrievable disaster. In its main object, saving Ser- 
bia from being crushed, the campaign had certainly been a 
failure, but this was rather the fault of the allied govern- 
ments, and not because of the inefficiency of the leaders in the 
field. 

The Bulgarians, naturally, felt that they had attained a great 
victory, and in a measure they had. On December 14, 1915, 
they published their version of the operations as follows: 

"December 12, 1915, will remain for the Bulgarian Army and 
nation a day of great historical importance. The army on that 
day occupied the last three Macedonian towns that still remained 
in the hands of the enemy : Doiran, Gevgheli, and Struga. The 
last fights against the British, French, and Serbians took place 
near Doiran and Ochrida Lakes. The enemy was everywhere 
beaten. Macedonia is free! Not a single hostile soldier remains 
on Macedonian soil. . . . In the course of ten days the ex- 
peditionary army of General Sarrail was beaten and thrown back 
on neutral territory. On December 12, the whole of Macedonia 
was freed. The pursuit of the enemy was immediately stopped 
when the neutral frontier of Greece was reached." 

This communique further pointed out that Serbia had been 
beaten in forty, and the British and French in ten, days. An 
official paper in Sofia declared that the "victories won over the 
Franco-British hordes" was even more glorious than those won 

U— War St 4 



320 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR . 

over Serbia and declared that Bulgaria had given a lesson to the 
so-called Great Powers, Great Britain and France, showing them 
at the same time the manner in which small nations could fight 
for their independence. 

That the Bulgarians did not pursue the allied troops across the 
Greek frontier was one of the surprises of the campaign. What 
the Greeks would have done had their hereditary enemies in- 
vaded their soil, even though not for the purpose of attacking 
them, was a question which perhaps the Greek Government 
itself had not fully answered. Certainly the critical character 
of the situation placed the Greeks in a very uncomfortable 
position. It had been at their suggestion that the Allies 
had come to Greece, and though a protest had been made 
against their landing, that protest was the last word in 
formality. 

Consequently the Allies had some shadow of a moral right 
to the use of Saloniki, but now that Sarrail was falling back, 
with every prospect of his bringing the battle front down with 
him into Greek territory, the diplomatic situation became ex- 
tremely delicate. To add to the confusion of the situation, 
it must be remembered that two or three divisions of the Greek 
Army had been concentrated in the very district through which 
the Bulgarians must pass, should they decide to follow the re- 
tiring column of the Allies' troops. Here, then, was the Greek 
dilemma; they had allowed, under formal protest, a pacific pene- 
tration of their country in accordance with the agreement they 
had made with Serbia, that the latter should be allowed to 
import armies, munitions, and other military material over the 
Saloniki-Uskub railroad. This agreement, Venizelos insisted, 
was binding on Greece, notwithstanding the equivocations 
of the king. But when the French and British troops retired, 
another situation was created altogether, because it was scarcely 
likely that the Bulgarians would stop short at the frontier of 
Greece, and more than likely that they would follow up their 
advance and incidentally shell and destroy Greek property. Thus 
Bulgaria would be doing what the Allies had very carefully 
avoided doing: commit an act of war against Greece. 



BULGARIAN ATTACKS 321 

But fortunately for Greece, the Bulgarians did not continue 
the pursuit, though the Greek Government waited anxiously to 
see what turn events would immediately take. Sofia published 
the most reassuring things about the friendliness of Bulgaria 
for Greece, though of course Athens, being herself the seat of 
a Balkan nation, knew what value such protestations of affection 
had. Greece had only to recall the expressions of friendliness 
Bulgaria had uttered to Serbia less than a week before attack- 
ing her. 

Meanwhile the French and British had fallen back on an 
intrenched line two or three miles to the south of the Greek 
frontier. This front stretched from Karasuli, on the Vardar 
River, to Kilindir, on the Doiran-Saloniki railroad, and was 
about fifteen miles in length. The French were still on the left 
and the British on the right. The British flank, in the east, was 
about thirty miles from Saloniki. These lines were strongly 
intrenched and otherwise strengthened, for it was not yet cer- 
tain that the enemy did not mean to invade Greece. 

In the early days of October, when the Allies had first begun 
landing their troops, it had not yet been definitely decided that 
Saloniki was to be held permanently, or at least as long as the 
war lasted, but by this time the value of the port had been 
realized. So long as it was held in strong force it constituted a 
constant threat against any attempt on the part of the Austro- 
Germans to push their invasion down into Egypt. Further, 
it was suggested by naval experts that if ever it passed into 
the hands of the Germans, it might easily become the base for an 
effective submarine warfare in the eastern Mediterranean, which 
would be extremely dangerous to the allied fleets in those waters, 
already the scene of considerable submarine activity, as was 
demonstrated by the sinking of not a few transports, war vessels, 
and other ships by the enemy. These waters could not be dragged 
with steel nets, as had been done in the British Channel. As 
the terminus of the railroad running through Macedonia from 
Belgrade, Saloniki was potentially an important city. Austria 
had long been aware of the high significance of this port and it 
was, in fact, the final objective of her "Drang nach Osten" policy. 



822 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

When it fell to Greece after the Second Balkan War she had been 
bitterly disappointed, which was one reason why she had done 
her best to spur Bulgaria on to precipitate that unfortunate 
campaign. And this was another little matter which probably 
helped to swing the balance of Greek sympathy toward the 
Allies. What prosperity Saloniki had enjoyed during Turkish 
rule had been entirely due to its big Jewish population, which had 
been the mainstay of its commercial activities. 

When Greece acquired possession little change followed, and 
when the troops of the Allies began to disembark in the begin- 
ning of October they were at once confronted by a serious dif- 
ficulty in the absence of docking and local transportation facili- 
ties. There was, further, the serious difficulty of obtaining 
space ashore for camp ground for the troops, as well as suitable 
level stretches for aeroplanes, Greek troops being in occupation 
of all such spots. Moreover, the railroad facilities, even when 
given over entirely to their use, were inadequate. 

So long as the outcome of the effort to join up with the Ser- 
bians remained in doubt the Allies had not given much energy to 
fortifying Saloniki in great strength, but immediately the re- 
tirement was decided upon this task was undertaken with some 
dispatch. On and after December 12, 1915, the Allies, having 
at last succeeded in compelling Greece to agree to their plans 
for a permanent occupation, began preparations to meet all 
possible events in the future. As the Greek troops withdrew, 
French and British forces took their places, some being fresh 
arrivals, for reenf orcements were landing daily at the rate of 
between 4,000 and 5,000. As there were many rumors of the 
enemy's intention to advance and attack before the city should 
be made more defensible, the work of making it as formidable 
as possible was pushed with fever heat. 

Steps were at once taken to establish strong lines of intrench- 
ments. In the course of a week or ten days this task was 
sufficiently under way to settle the alarms of an immediate at- 
tack from the enemy; the lines of the defensive works followed 
a half circle of hills and lakes, some fifty miles in extent, reaching 
on the west from the Vardar River to the Gulf of Orfano on 



BULGARIAN ATTACKS 323 

the east and inclosing a very considerable area, giving the Allies 
sufficient freedom of movement. 

Yet it was fortunate for the Allies that political considerations 
deterred the enemy from making the attack* Had the Bulgarians 
advanced in full force, the Allies would have been heavily out- 
numbered, not only in men, but in heavy artillery and ordinary 
field guns as well. It is doubtful whether they could success- 
fully have resisted a determined effort to turn their flanks. 

The conformation of the coast line around Saloniki is a handi- 
cap to a continuous defensive line. It would demand more men 
than other conformations would. Saloniki stands on a gulf, or 
bay, and this would necessitate spreading the defending lines 
around it in almost a complete circle, so that the adjacent shores 
would be protected as well. 

There does exist a natural horseshoe of positions from which 
Saloniki could be held and which would cover the port from sea 
to sea, but their development extends from 120 to 130 miles of 
country, an area which could not well be held with less than a 
force of half a million men. At the eastern horn of the Gulf of 
Saloniki runs the Kaloron Ridge, culminating in a peak some 
3,000 feet above sea level. All the southern slopes of this ridge 
are exposed to the fire of any fleet of warships that might lie 
offshore. This ridge continues toward the north by two more 
peaks, each connected with its neighbor by a saddle-shaped ridge. 
The positions along this ridge would pass first over a point about 
a thousand feet high, covering the village of Galatista, and next 
by a chain to the Hortak Dagh Mountains, one of the nearest 
points in the line to Saloniki. 

To the north again the ground falls abruptly to the level of 
Lake Langaza, thence turns eastward to the height of Dautbaba, 
after which the lines could be stretched to the borders of the 
swampy region at the mouth of the Vardar, ground which is as 
impassable as the Pripet Marshes on the Russian front and 
which were formerly occupied by the Bulgarian comatjis, in spite 
of all the efforts of the Turks to eject or capture them. 

On December 20, 1915, there arrived in Saloniki, General de 
Castelnau, Chief of the General Staff of the French Army. He 



324 



THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 







% 






BULGARIAN ATTACKS 325 

came with the same purpose that had brought Lord Kitchener, 
to make a tour of inspection of the Near Eastern situation. No 
doubt a certain anxiety was felt in France and England regard- 
ing the security of the Saloniki position, and General de Castel- 
nau had been dispatched to investigate. With General Sarrail 
he made a thorough survey of the French lines, and with General 
Mahon he undertook an equally searching tour of the British 
section. Apparently he was satisfied with the situation, for soon 
after he stated in an interview to the press that the position 
of the Allies in Saloniki was excellent. After having passed & 
week with Generals Sarrail and Mahon, he paid a short visit 
to King Constantine on the 26th. On the same day the French 
Government issued an official communique, which announced that 
General de Castelnau, together with Generals Sarrail and Mahon, 
had settled upon the plan of action to be followed by the Allies 
and that he had assured the French Government that the ar- 
rangements which had already been made rendered the safely 
of the whole expedition absolutely certain. 

This statement came as rather a strong contrast to an official 
declaration made by the German Government to the effect that 
Germany would be established in Saloniki by January 15, 1916. 
Possibly the Teutonic allies may have planned at that time to 
initiate a campaign against Saloniki, but apparently pressure 
on their lines on the other fronts became so strong as to divert 
them from this object. 

However, the year was not to close without some disturbance 
of the monotony of the situation that now set in at Saloniki. 
In the middle of the forenoon of December 30, 1915, an attack 
was made on the city by a fleet of the enemy's aeroplanes, which 
sailed overhead at a great height and dropped bombs, doing 
considerable damage. One bomb fell on a detachment of Greek 
troops, which was carrying on drill maneuvers outside the city 
in the presence of Prince Andrew of Greece. Attempts were 
made from the warships in the harbor to reach the aircraft with 
their antiaircraft guns, but as the aeroplanes were over ten thou- 
sand feet high they were not hit. French aeroplanes were sent 
up to engage them, but by the time they had circled up to the 



326 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

same high altitude, the enemy had disappeared over the mountain 
tops toward Monastir. 

Less than six hours later the soldiers of the Allies suddenly 
descended on the German, Austrian, Bulgarian, and Turkish 
consulates and arrested the enemy consuls and vice-consuls, 
taking them prisoners together with their families and entire 
staffs. They were immediately marched down to the quays and 
sent aboard one of the battleships. The four consular buildings 
were then taken over by the Allies as barracks. On the following 
day the consuls and their belongings were on their way across 
the Mediterranean to some unknown destination, though, as 
developed later, they were landed at Marseilles in France, thence 
sent to, and liberated in, Switzerland. Later the Norwegian con- 
sul was also arrested on a charge of espionage. 

One of the disadvantages under which the Allies labored 
in Saloniki was the comparative ease with which the enemy 
could spy on their movements. This had especially been the 
case when their lines had been advanced beyond the Greek 
frontier. 

The Greek Government protested at this breach of neutrality, 
declaring that such high-handed proceedings undermined its 
sovereignty and the enemy Powers also protested and threatened 
reprisals. 

Further proof of the decision that the Allies had made to re- 
main in Saloniki was given by their occupation of Castellorizo, 
an island lying off the mainland of Asia Minor near Rhodes, 
commanding the Gulf of Adalia. Five hundred French soldiers 
had been landed, with a view to using the place as a base for 
operations in that part of Turkey, should that later become 
feasible. The Greek Government again protested, as it also 
did when, in the first week of January, the Allies arrested the 
German, Austrian, and Turkish consuls at Mitylene for the same 
reasons that had led to the arrests in Saloniki, and shipped 
these men away on a man-of-war. Greece was indeed kept 
quite busy framing protests during this period, for on January 
11, 1916! a detachment of French soldiers took possession and 
military control of the island of Corfu, but the Greek garrison 



ITALIAN MOVEMENTS IN ALBANIA 327 

there offered no opposition. The place had some strategic value, 
but the main purpose for which it was to be used was as a 
sanitarium for the Serbian refugees, who were beginning to 
arrive from Albania, and many of whom were in miserable 
physical condition. 



CHAPTER XXXIX 

ITALIAN MOVEMENTS IN ALBANIA — 
CONQUEST OF MONTENEGRO 

WHILE the French and British were strengthening their 
position in Saloniki in every possible way, the Italians were 
beginning a movement which .was to have some influence in the 
Balkans. 

Already, a year before, Italy had landed a small containing 
force in Avlona, Albania, on the Adriatic coast, because Greece 
had previously occupied a section of southern Albania, contiguous 
to her frontier. Albania, it will be remembered, had been de- 
clared an independent nation after the Balkan wars and William 
of Wied had been appointed its sovereign, by the consent of the 
Powers. But so turbulent had his subjects been that finally, 
when an uprising threatened his life, he fled on a foreign war- 
ship. The leader of the Albanians, in so far as they could 
be brought to respect any one general leader, was Essad Pasha, 
the Albanian commander at Scutari, who had defended that place 
so long and so valiantly against the attacks of the Montenegrins 
during the First Balkan War. 

Already in the latter days of November there had been rumors 
that Italy was landing an army of considerable size in Avlona, 
to assist the Serbians. This could easily be done without at- 
tracting much attention, as this town, often described as the 
"Gibraltar of the Adriatic, 9 ' is not more than fifty or sixty miles 
from the Italian coast and can be reached by steamer in a few 
hours. Its occupation by an enemy would be highly undesirable, 
from the point of view of Italian interests. 



328 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Baron Sonnino, the Italian prime minister, made a speech in 
which he declared that Italy was determined to do everything to 
assist the Serbian army, and that the Italian flag on the other 
side of the Adriatic would also constitute a reaffirmation of Italy's 
traditional policy, which included the maintenance of Albanian 
independence. 

By the end of the first week of December, 1915, an army of 
50,000 had been landed. With part of this force Italy occupied 
Durazzo on December 21, 1915, joining up there with Essad 
Pasha, who had declared himself against Austria. A few days 
later this chief, in the name of the Albanian nation, declared 
war on Austria. 

Meanwhile, the Austrian warships had become very active 
along the coast; in December their activities culminated in an 
attempt to bombard Durazzo, whereupon they were engaged by 
some Italian, French, and British ships and compelled to retire, 
with the loss of two destroyers. 

Thus, at the beginning of the year 1916, a period of compara- 
tive quiet seemed to be settling down over the Balkans, with one 
exception. And that exception was Montenegro. Austria was 
now prepared to turn her full attention to this little state, whose 
soldiers had invaded her territory several times, during the 
Serbian campaign at the very beginning of the war, and now 
again, when the final invasion had been undertaken. 

Little was heard of Montenegro in the press dispatches, but 
she had thrown the full strength of her little army into the 
field against the Austro-German invaders. Before the Balkan 
wars her fighting men had numbered some forty thousand, but 
by this time they were reduced to something less than twenty 
thousand. They were short of artillery and munitions, short of 
all kinds of supplies, even food, but it was a difficult task for 
the Allies to offer them any material relief. Montenegro is 
unserved by any seaport and even the Italians who had landed 
at Avloha did not hope to establish any communication with 
them through the mountainous country intervening. 

The one topographical feature of Montenegro that must be 
especially noted is a mountain which rises abruptly, dominating 



ITALIAN MOVEMENTS IN ALBANIA 329 

the surrounding Austrian territory along the coast, more es- 
pecially the seaport and naval station, Cattaro. The importance 
of this eminence, Mount Lovcen, would have been paramount, 
had it been properly equipped for offensive action. 

For Cattaro is a natural harbor of the first order, capable 
of accommodating the whole Austrian fleet. The barracks at 
Cattaro are plainly visible from the top of Mount Lovcen, but to 
bring guns of a large enough caliber up there to reach those 
barracks was practically impossible, on account of the rugged 
nature of the surrounding country. 

During the ten weeks the fourth and final invasion of Serbia 
was running its course, the warriors of the Black Mountains 
were engaged in giving their kinsmen, the Serbians, their full 
support. Indeed, the Montenegrin army, though it amounted 
only to a few regiments, had held a slice of Bosnia for some time, 
formed the left flank of the whole Serbian position and did good 
service during the earlier stages of the conflict, being opposed to 
the Austrian lines around Fotcha and on the Lim, a branch of 
the Drina. 

But the Austrians along this part of the front were satisfied 
merely to hold the Montenegrins back, not a very difficult task, 
considering their numbers. On the other hand, any attempt to 
advance into their mountainous country would have been an 
extremely arduous undertaking, entirely out of proportion to the 
importance of the Montenegrin forces, from a military point of 
view. 

When Serbia had finally been overrun, Mackensen withdrew 
his Germans and also some of the Austrians, these being sent 
north up to the Russian front, where there seemed danger of 
renewed activities on the part of the czar's forces. Especially 
threatening were the rumors that the Russians were about to 
make a descent on Bulgaria through Rumania, or across the 
Black Sea. 

The Austrians along the Montenegrin front, however, re- 
mained where they were and presently they were strongly 
reenforced, for Austria was determined on the permanent elimi- 
nation of Montenegro, as she had been determined on putting 



330 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

an end to the Serbian nation. Nor was this impossible, in 
spite of the mountainous nature of the country, if only the 
invaders were provided with heavy enough guns. What could 
be done in Serbia could also be done in Montenegro. 

As far back as the middle of November, 1915, it was 
announced in the dispatches from Rome that Austria was as- 
sembling a force of three army corps in Herzegovina to attack 
Montenegro from that side. There was also available the 
Austrian troops already in Serbia on the eastern frontier of 
Montenegro, to say nothing of the Bulgarians, who so far as- 
sisted the Austrians as to take Djakova, on December 3, 1915. 
The whole expedition was put under the command of Von 
Kovess, shortly after the fall of Mitrovitza. 

King Nicholas was not ignorant of what was coming. At the 
end of November, 1915, after Serbia's last resistance had been 
overcome, he issued a proclamation to his people in which he 
said that Montenegro would continue the fight to the bitter end, 
even though it was probable that she would share the fate of 
Serbia. The Allies, he went on to state, would make every effort 
to keep, not only the army, but the people as well, supplied with 
all that was needed to live and to resist the enemy. Supplies had 
always been a hard problem in that poverty-stricken little land 
and when the Serbian refugees began flocking in, it became 
an insoluble problem, unless with help from outside, which was 
not always forthcoming. 

It was obvious that, in spite of the fact that they had assisted 
in a successful invasion of Serbia, the Austrians, now that they 
were by themselves again, were not so confident of overcoming 
even the Montenegrins that they could afford to undertake the 
campaign impulsively, for during the whole month of December, 
1915, they did not press the campaign on the Montenegrin front. 
During this period and the first week of January, 1916, they were 
satisfied with more or less holding their lines, though they did 
advance some distance on the eastern, or Sanjak, front, cap- 
turing Plevlie, Ipek, and Bielopolie. But, as an offset to this 
success, the Montenegrins scored at least one victory of con- 
siderable magnitude. On December 1, 1915, the Montenegrin 



ITALIAN MOVEMENTS IN ALBANIA 331 

forces operating in southeastern Bosnia defeated the Austrians 
near Foca, on the Drina, seven miles across the Drina, forcing 
the enemy to retreat along the river toward Gorazda. A few 
days later the Austrians retaliated by sending an aeroplane 
flying over Cettinje, which dropped a number of bombs on that 
small city. Other aeroplanes, flying over the Montenegrin 
encampments, dropped circulars stating that all Serbia had been 
conquered, and if Montenegro made any further resistance, she 
would suffer the same fate. Toward the end of the month the 
Austrians began a heavy bombardment of Mount Lovcen and 
launched a strong infantry attack against it, but were repelled 
with considerable losses. 

On December 23, 1915, the Montenegrin Government reported 
having inflicted a reverse on the Austrians advancing from the 
east. The Austrians bombarded violently in the Mojkovac sector, 
then attacked Touriak, in the direction of Rozai-Berane, but 
were thrown back. At Berane the Montenegrins assumed the 
offensive for a brief space, and at Bielo they drove the enemy 
troops back as far as Ivania. 

However, these were all minor operations and the successes 
of the Montenegrins were not of a permanent nature. Apparently 
the Austrians were all this time strengthening their lines and 
arranging their forces for the general offensive, which they were 
ready to begin early in January, 1916. 

On January 6, 1916, Kdvess began decisive operations with a 
series of violent attacks on the eastern front, on the Rivers 
Tara, Urn, and Ibar, while at the same time the warships in the 
Gulf of Cattaro opened a terrific fire on Mount Lovcen. 

For four days the Montenegrin troops offered a determined 
resistance. Berane, on the Lim, was captured by the Austrians 
on the 10th. On the same day the warships suddenly ceased 
their bombardment of Mount Lovcen and Austrian infantry 
swept up the mountain sides and delivered a strong attack. The 
handful of Montenegrins at the top were completely overwhelmed 
and Lovcen was captured. Some surprise was expressed among 
the Allies at the time that this supposedly powerful stronghold 
should so easily succumb, but it soon developed that the defenders 



.-*• 



332 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

were not only short of food, but they had run out of ammunition 
and had practically fired their last cartridges. 

With Lovcen in the hands of the enemy Cettinje could no 
longer be held by the Montenegrins, and on January 13, 1916, it 
was occupied by the Austrians. The back of the Montenegrin 
resistance had now been broken. 

On January 17, 1916, it was announced in the Austrian Par- 
liament by Count Tisza that the Montenegrin Government had 
sued for terms of peace. Montenegro's official version of this 
sudden surrender was given in a note by the Montenegrin Consul 
General in Paris: 

"The newspapers announce that unhappy Montenegro has 
had to submit to the inevitable after having struggled heroically 
under particularly disadvantageous conditions against an enemy 
much superior in number and formidably armed. It may be 
considered as certain that if the king and the Government have 
yielded it is because the army had expended the last of its 
munitions. 

"Even flight was impossible. The enemy was on the frontiers ; 
there was no escape by the sea; inveterate hostility was to be 
encountered in Albania. If the Serbian army was able to escape 
from Serbia, the weak contingents of Montenegro, exhausted by 
the superhuman efforts of their long and desperate, but effective 
resistance, and by privations of all kinds, were not able to seek 
refuge on friendly territory. It is possible to discuss ad in* 
finitum the conditions of the suspension of hostilities, the details 
of which, it is to be observed, come from enemy sources; it is 
even possible to heap insults on the unfortunate conquered. . . ." 

The question immediately raised in the British and French 
newspapers was : who opened negotiations with the enemy — the 
king or his minister? Mi'uskovitch, who was frankly in favor 
of the Austrians, had become premier at a critical moment in 
Montenegro's fate and negotiations were undoubtedly proceed- 
ing while the fighting on Mount Lovcen was still in progress. 
It was said that this was well known to the troops in the field, 
and in consequence they had not made so determined a resist* 
ance as they might otherwise have done, 



ITALIAN MOVEMENTS IN ALBANIA 333 

Meanwhile throughout Germany and Austria celebrations of 
the great victory were going on and a Vienna paper published 
what purported to be the terms that were to be granted the 
conquered Montenegrins, harsh in the extreme. It was even in- 
dicated that the Montenegrin soldiers must all serve with the 
Austrians on the Italian front. And next there was a strange 
silence, a period during which no mention at all was made of 
Montenegrins, as to whether they had accepted the terms or 
not. 

Meanwhile among the Allies, who had not expected that Monte- 
negro would give in so quickly, there was much criticism of 
the little state's surrender. It was suggested that it had been 
inspired for dynastic reasons, by a pro-Austrian section of the 
court. It was even asserted that King Nicholas had secretly 
come to terms with Austria before the fall of Mount Lovcen 
and that the resistance put up by the Montenegrins was unreal 
and of a purely theatrical character. It was recalled that the 
wife of the Montenegrin Crown Prince was a German princess. 
It was said that a compact was in existence, and had been in 
existence for several months, by which Montenegro agreed to 
hand Mount Lovcen over to the Austrians in return for Scutari. 

These speculations were finally terminated by an official state- 
ment issued by Sir J. Roper Parkington, the Consul General 
for Montenegro in London, in which he said that the king and the 
Government of Montenegro had peremptorily refused the con- 
ditions of peace offered them by Austria and that Montenegro 
would continue the struggle to the bitter end. The announcement 
made by the Austrian Government that the Montenegrins had 
already laid down their arms seemed, therefore, to have been 
without foundation. This communique also stated that all the 
reports issued by the Austrians had been in large part untrue. 

"King Nicholas/ 9 continued this official announcement, "re- 
mains with his two sons at the head of his troops, to organize a 
final defense, and to take part, in case of necessity, in the retreat 
of his brave army. His majesty expresses the hope that the 
Allies will eventually afford him effectual assistance for the re- 
treat, as they have already done for the Serbian army." 



834 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

In the fourth week in January, 1916, the Montenegrin premier, 
M. Miuskovitch, issued a note admitting there had been negotia- 
tions with Austria, but asserted that they had been merely a pre- 
text to gain time, to insure the safe retreat of the army toward 
Podgoritza and Scutari, as well as to give opportunity to the 
Serbian troops to leave Podgoritza and Scutari for Alessio and 
Durazzo in Albania. 

On January 23, 1916, old King Nicholas appeared in Rome, 
where he was met by his son-in-law, the King of Italy, and 
from thence he went on to Lyons, in France, where his queen 
had preceded him and where, by the courtesy of the French 
Government, the capital of Montenegro was temporarily es- 
tablished. 

At this time the Austrian Government had continued issuing 
reports to the effect that the Montenegrin soldiers were laying 
down their arms, but this seems to have been only partly true. 
Though many of them were captured, a much greater number 
joined the Serbians in Albania, where they made a juncture 
with the forces under Essad Pasha. 

The Austrians, however, continued their advance, occupying 
Scutari on the 23d and San Giovanni di Medua on the 25th. 
Thus Montenegro itself was finally overrun. 

But this little country, the poorest in Europe, offered the 
Austrians very little reward for their enterprise. 

An Austrian journalist, accompanying the invading forces 
when they took possession of the king's palace in Cettinje, 
described the interior decorations as follows: 

"In the reception room two great oil paintings occupied the 
positions of honor. One was that of the Emperor of Austria 
and the other was that of the Queen of Hungary. In the king's 
study, on one of the writing tables, there was a portrait of 
Francis Joseph and in other rooms we also came across his 
picture." 

On the whole, Montenegro had not made the desperate resist- 
ance which its reputation for hard fighting had led people to 
believe it would put up. This partial failure was explained by 
M. Miuskovitch, who declared that when Montenegro entered 



ITALIAN MOVEMENTS IN ALBANIA 



335 




V— War St 4 



THE AUSTRIAN CAMPAIGN JN MONTENEGRO 



336 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

the war on the side of the Allies she had been promised every- 
thing necessary for the army and also for the civil population, 
because even in normal times they import wheat. Russia and 
France were to have sent supplies, but this promise could not be 
carried out. They had done the best they could with the 
materials on hand, but without ammunition they could not be 
expected to fight. 

The Montenegrins, said the premier, had been given the task 
of protecting the rear of the Serbian army and they had de- 
fended the Sandjak frontier so successfully that on this side the 
Serbians had had time to retire. But when the Serbians were 
obliged to fall back on Montenegrin territory, their arrival pre- 
cipitated events. The Montenegrins had still some supplies, but 
with 120,000 to 130,000 additional mouths to feed, these were 
soon exhausted. On many occasions the Montenegrin soldiers 
did not receive rations for a whole week and when they did, 
each ration only amounted to half a pound of corn flour a day. 

After escaping, King Nicholas sent the following letter to Gen- 
eral Vukovitch: 

"I order you anew to resist the enemy in the most energetic 
way possible. In the event of a retreat, follow the direction of 
the Serbian army toward Durazzo. The Serbian commanders 
have been informed of this. You will receive food supplies at 
Medua and farther on. 

"Prince Mirko and all the other ministers who have re- 
mained cannot in any case open negotiations with anyone what- 
ever. The French Government has promised our retreating 
army all possible facilities, such as it gave to the Serbian army. 
Prince Mirko and the other ministers must in no case remain, 
but make every possible effort to escape." 

Having completed their invasion of Montenegro, the Austrians 
now began to continue their advance over into Albania. On 
January 26, 1916, they reached San Giovanni di Medua, a seaport 
in northern Albania. At the same time Essad Pasha at Durazzo 
reported that he was being threatened by an Austrian and Bul- 
garian column marching northwest from Berat, while still an- 
other column was heading toward the Italian forces in Avlona. 



ITALIAN MOVEMENTS IN ALBANIA 337 

Meanwhile all haste was being made in getting the Serbians 
safely out of Albania and transporting them to Corfu, the Greek 
island lying south of Avlona, in the Adriatic, which the Allies 
had occupied under the protest of the Greek Government This 
undertaking was much facilitated by an improvement in the 
weather, which until then had been very severe, and by the con- 
struction of bridges across the rivers by a force of British 
engineers. Depots of provisions were also established along all 
the roads by which the refugees were straggling in toward the 
coast. The few guns, limbers, and munitions which these 
fragments of the Serbian army had brought with them were 
transported to Brindisi. At about the same time that the 
Austrians occupied San Giovanni di Medua, a Bulgarian detach- 
ment had occupied Dibra, in southern Albania, just above 
the Greek frontier and not far from Lake Ochrida and 
Monastir. 

On February 10, 1916, the last of the Serbian soldiers had 
been taken out of Albania. In spite of the attempt made by 
Austrian ships and submarines, involving several minor naval 
engagements with the ships of the Allies, the embarkations 
had been going on at the rate of from eight to ten thousand 
men a day. In Corfu alone, 75,000 had been landed ; others were 
taken to Bizerta, the French naval port in Tunis, and some had 
been sent to Italy. On this date Dr. Vesnitch, the Serbian minis- 
ter in Paris, made the following statement: 

"One hope still illumines the night of invaded Serbia; her 
avenging army. At present that army numbers more than 
100,000 men. It can be confidently stated that it will be increased 
to 160,000." 

On February 11, 1916, the Austrians had advanced within a 
few miles of Durazzo and on the following day occupied the 
Tirana heights, between Breza and Bazar Siak, Breza being 
about twelve miles northeast of Durazzo and Bazar Siak about 
halfway between these two towns. Two days later the Italian 
forces advanced against this Austrian column and delivered a 
strong attack, which was repulsed by the Austrians, according 
to Vienna dispatches. Meanwhile the Bulgarians were occupying 



838 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

Fieri, about sixteen miles from Avlona, and claimed that they 
had taken possession of a third of southern Albania. A day 
or two later the Austrian and Bulgarian columns operating in 
central Albania made a junction and occupied Elbassan, thirty- 
eight miles southeast of Durazzo. 

The enemy was, in fact, closing in on Durazzo. On February 
25, 1916, the Austro-Bulgarian forces had driven the Italians 
to the isthmus west of the Durs lakes and the Austrian artillery 
began to open fire on Durazzo itself. At daybreak the next 
morning the Austrians closed in and the Italians and Albanians 
under Essad Pasha were finally, after a spirited resistance, 
driven back from their positions at Bazar Siak. Soon afterward 
the Italians on the southern bank of the lower Arzen were 
forced to abandon their positions. The Austrians crossed the 
river and proceeded southward. 

At noon a decisive action east of Bazar Siak drove the Italians 
from their positions. The same fate was suffered by the de- 
fenders of Sasso Blanco, six miles east of Durazzo. By evening 
the entire outer circle of defenses had been taken. The Aus- 
trians, advancing to the inner line positions, observed that the 
Italians were embarking on their ships. 

They were now able to reach the docks with their artillery, 
and attempted to hinder the retirement of the Italians with a 
heavy shell fire and succeeded in inflicting some damage to some 
of the ships. But by the following morning the Italians had 
made good their escape, and with them went Essad Pasha and 
his Albanian troops. 

On February 28, 1916, the Austrian Government issued a full 
report on the campaign in Albania which had culminated in that 
section in the capture of Durazzo: 

'The Austrian troops have captured Durazzo. During the 
forenoon one column, under the fire of the Italians, advanced 
across the northern isthmus to Portos, four miles north of 
Durazzo. Our troops advancing across the southern isthmus were 
hindered at the beginning by the fire of the Italian artillery, but 
toward night numerous detachments, by wading, swimming, and 
floating, reached the bridge east of Durazzo, driving back the 



SERBIA, GREECE, AND RUMANIA 339 

Italian rear guard. At dawn an Austrian battalion entered the 
burning town." 

The spoils were, according to tiie report, twenty-three cannon, 
including six big coast defense guns, 10,000 rifles, and a large 
amount of artillery ammunition and provisions. 

The Italian version was: 

"After our ships had silenced the enemy batteries and swept 
the coast and near-by roads of their fire, all the Italian troops 
which were sent temporarily to Durazzo to cover the evacuation 
of the Serbians, Montenegrins, and Albanians, reembarked with- 
out incident and were transported to Avlona, notwithstanding 
the bad weather which still prevails in the lower Adriatic. War 
material which was still serviceable was also taken aboard the 
ships and the damaged supplies were either rendered useless 
or destroyed." 

Thus, by the first of March the Austro-Bulgarian forces had 
almost completed their conquest of Albania, the only important 
point still in the hands of the Italians being Avlona. At this 
point, however, the Italians had made longer and bigger prep- 
arations for defense, besides which they were here in far greater 
numbers, estimated at from 50,000 to 120,000. 



CHAPTER XL 



CONDITIONS IN SERBIA, GREECE, 
AND RUMANIA 

DURING this time the Bulgarians and Germans were es- 
tablishing a semicivil government in Serbia. Many conflict- 
ing reports were circulated, some of them to the effect that 
there was much friction between the German and Bulgarian 
officers. Whether Germany and Bulgaria really intended to 
make an attack on Saloniki has until now been a question, but 
in those districts near the Greek frontier considerable forces of 
Germans remained, garrisoning the large towns, notably Mo* 



340 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

nastir. The forces along the frontier itself were Bulgarians at 
first, but toward the end of February, 1916, detachments of 
Germans began taking their places along the front. The Allies 
in Saloniki reported that up to this time there were heavy 
desertions from the Bulgarian forces, the deserters coming in 
to Saloniki, complaining that they were starved and did not wish 
to fight the French and British. When the Germans appeared 
on the front, these desertions suddenly ceased. 

In the middle of January Emperor William of Germany paid 
Serbia a visit and inspected the captured towns and cities of 
most prominence. On the 18th he arrived in Nish, where he 
was met by King Ferdinand and Prince Boris of Bulgaria. The 
two sovereigns then attended Mass in the cathedral together, 
after which they reviewed the troops. 

At a dinner which followed the emperor announced to King 
Ferdinand his nomination to the rank of a Prussian field marshal 
and presented him with the baton. King Ferdinand in turn 
bestowed the order for bravery on the emperor and General 
von Mackensen. In a speech which he made, King Ferdinand 
addressed the emperor with "Ave Imperator, Cesar et Rex/' 
("Hail Emperor, Caesar and King.") 

During the first two months of the year the Allies had con- 
tinued to reenf orce their forces in Saloniki, and toward the end 
of February there were reports to the effect that General Sarrail 
would assume an offensive up into Macedonia and Bulgaria. On 
January 20, 1916, the ships of the Allies again bombarded Dedea- 
gatch vigorously, then proceeded to Port Lagos and swept that 
seaport with a heavy shell fire. A few days later a feat, which 
in some respects established a new record in the annals of French 
aviation, was performed by an attacking squadron of forty 
French aeroplanes. 

The French squadron left Saloniki at seven in the morning and 
divided into two parts, one of which proceeded to Monastir, 
about sixty miles distant, and the other going to Ghevgli. Some 
of the aeroplanes were armed with guns. 

Altogether over two hundred projectiles were discharged at 
the enemy's camp, on the building occupied by the Bulgarian 



SERBIA, GREECE, AND RUMANIA 341 

headquarters in Monastir, and on other military establishments. 
The airmen were vigorously bombarded in return, but sus- 
tained no casualties. One notable feature of the raid was that 
the squadron had to contend with a forty-mile gale from abeam 
during the whole trip and they had also to fly over mountains 
6,000 feet in height. By noon both sections of the squadron had 
returned to Saloniki. 

On the part of Greece there was no change; she still continued 
her attitude of sullen acquiescence to the presence of the Allies' 
troops in Saloniki. In the last week of January General Sarrail 
sent a detachment to occupy Cape and Fort Kara Burun, about 
twelve miles from Saloniki and commanding the harbor. This 
action, it was stated, was due to the fact that a British transport 
had been torpedoed by a German submarine under the very guns 
of the fort. As usual, Greece protested, and, again as usual, 
no notice was taken of her protest. 

At about this same time King Constantine sent for the Ameri- 
can correspondent of the Associated Press in Athens and asked 
him to make public certain statements he wished to make, where- 
upon he gave the journalist an interview so remarkable that when 
it was published it attracted world-wide attention. 

"It is the merest cant/' he said, "for Great Britain and France 
to talk about the violation of the neutrality of Belgium after 
what they themselves have done and are doing. . . . The 
only forum of public opinion open to me is the United States. 
The situation is far too vital for me to care a snap about royal 
dignity in the matter of interviews when the very life of Greece 
as an independent country is at stake. I shall appeal to America 
again and again, if necessary, for that fair hearing which has 
been denied me by the press of the Allies. 

"Just look at the list of Greek territories already occupied by 
the allied troops — Lemnos, Imbros, Mytilene, Castelloriza, Corfu, 
Saloniki, including the Chalcidice Peninsula, and a large part of 
Macedonia. In proportion to all Greece it is as if that part of 
the United States which was won from Mexico after the Mexican 
War were occupied by foreign troops, and not so much as by 
your leave. . . . Where is the necessity for the occupation 



842 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

of Corfu? If Greece is an ally of Serbia, so also is Italy, and 
transportation of the Serbs to Italy would be simpler than to 
Corfu. Is it because the Italians are refusing to accept the Serbs, 
fearing the spread of cholera, and the Allies are thinking that 
the Greeks want to be endangered by cholera any more than 
the Italians? . . . The history of the Balkan politics of 
the Allies is the record of one crass mistake after another, and 
now, through pique over the failure of their every Balkan cal- 
culation, they try to unload on Greece the results of their own 
stupidity. We warned them that the Gallipoli expedition would 
be fruitless and that the Austro-Germans would surely crush 
Serbia. ... At the beginning of the war eighty per cent of 
the Greeks were favorable to the Allies; to-day not forty, no, 
not twenty per cent would turn their hands to aid the Allies/ 9 

As for Venizelos, his voice was no longer heard. So disliked 
was he by the Government that when certain soldiers joined in 
a celebration of his name-day, fifty of them were sentenced to a 
month's confinement as a punishment for so expressing their 
sympathy. In the middle of February, 1916, this enmity was 
especially acute. Venizelos himself told a journalist that he was 
holding himself so aloof from politics that he did not even read 
the reports of the proceedings of the Chamber of Deputies. 

But on March 1, 1916, there was a report from Athens that 
King Constantine had suddenly summoned Venizelos. Several 
interviews followed, and it was then announced that the king 
and Venizelos were reconciled. Whether that meant any change 
in Greece's policy was not mentioned. The general impression 
prevailed at this time, however, that the great success of the 
Russians in Asiatic Turkey was having its effect on the King of 
Greece and his Government. 

Of Rumania little was heard during the entire winter, no 
startling changes having taken place in her attitude. In January 
the British Government contracted with Rumania for the pur- 
chase of 800,000 tons of wheat, to the value of about fifty million 
dollars, to be delivered by the middle of April. 

On February 14, 1916, the Rumanian Government announced 
that its mobilization had been completed by the calling up of a 



SERBIA, GREECE, AND RUMANIA 843 

fresh class and that the General Staff was completing the de- 
fenses of the Carpathians and the fortifications along the banks 
of the Danube in the new Dobrudja territory, which had been 
taken from Bulgaria during the Balkan Wars. Take Jonescu, 
the well-known Rumanian statesman, in an interview with a 
French journalist on the same date said : 

"As regards Rumanian policy ; we made a great mistake in not 
intervening when Bulgaria entered the war. I hope that we shall 
not make the same mistake again and that we shall not quail 
before Germany's threats, if she makes them. . . . The 
country is unanimous on this point" 



PART VII— THE DARDANELLES AND RIjSSO- 
TURKISH CAMPAIGN 



CHAPTER XLI 

CONDITIONS IN GALLIPOLI — ATTACK 
AT SUVLA BAY 

WE left the allied troops at the end of July, 1915, firmly 
established at two points on the Gallipoli Peninsula. But 
though they had won these secure bases by terrible losses and 
much heroism, yet they had progressed but slightly toward their 
ultimate objects — the capture of the three key points to the 
peninsula defenses and the opening of the Dardanelles to the 
fleets of England, France, and Russia. 

Indeed, it had become apparent, not only to those in com- 
mand on the spot, but to the authorities in London and in Paris, 
that the allied forces had reached a condition of stalemate on 
the two fronts. In other words, the Turks by their stubborn, 
intelligent, and brave defense had eliminated the possibility 
of the element of surprise, without which it was almost hope- 
less to expect success under the modern conditions of trench 
warfare. 

Much as the world appreciated the virtues of the Turk as a 
fighting man, it must be confessed that he furnished the allied 
troops with an unpleasant surprise. He displayed, first of all, 
a quite remarkable degree of bravery, hurling himself against 
the intrenched troops of France aand England with an abandon 
and a disregard of personal safely that excited the admiration 
of his enemies. The whole Gallipoli campaign is replete with 
examples of Turkish valor. 

844 



CONDITIONS IN GALLIPOU 345 

Furthermore, the Turks were well led, not only by their Ger- 
man officers, but by the Turkish commanders as well. Frequently 
they surprised and confounded the allied command in this 
respect, successfully foiling vital movements by daring and 
original maneuvers. This was all the more remarkable because 
it demanded cool thinking at critical moments, not the excited 
religious fanaticism for which the Turk had been noted. The 
Turk is an adept in the construction of trenches and their use. 

Thus it became apparent to all that if any real success was 
to be obtained in the Dardanelles campaign the element of sur- 
prise must be reintroduced. Sir Ian Hamilton refused to throw 
away his troops in hopeless frontal attacks against practically 
impregnable defenses. He called upon Lord Kitchener for re- 
enforcements, at the same time issuing an encouraging bulletin 
to his troops, telling them that help was coming. 

These new troops, which began to arrive at Mudros about the 
first week of August, 1915, were not to be used for strengthen- 
ing the two fronts, but were to be employed in an entirely fresh 
attempt to surprise the Turks at a new point, push inland before 
the defenders had time to bring up troops, and seize commanding 
positions in the first great rush. In fact it was a repetition of 
the attempts made at Achi Baba and Krithia at the original 
landings, applying the lessons learned at such tremendous cost 
on those occasions. 

Besides the military considerations which made such an at- 
tempt desirable, the political situation in the Balkans made an 
allied success in the Dardanelles highly imperative. The success 
of the great German drive against the Russians in Poland and 
Galicia had had a disturbing effect upon at least one of the Bal- 
kan neutrals. Bulgaria, it soon became apparent, was preparing 
to enter the struggle on the side of the Central Powers and 
Entente diplomats reported to their Governments that nothing 
short of a smashing victory at the Strait would change the pur- 
pose of King Ferdinand. Furthermore, the Entente Powers were 
disturbed over the attitude of Greece and Rumania. It had been 
confidently expected that the latter country would enter the 
struggle on the side of the Entente Powers at the same time 



346 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

that Italy actively entered the struggle. Indeed, the Bank of 
England had made an advance to Rumania of $25,000,000, 
although it was expressly understood that the loan was purely 
a business transaction and had no political import. It was 
believed that Rumanian sympathy, as a whole, was with the 
Entente Powers, but it was known that financial, commercial, 
and dynastic ties with Germany and Austria were important and 
might at any moment, in favorable circumstances, turn the 
scales in favor of the Central Powers. 

It had become apparent, too, that even Greece had been im- 
pressed by the success of the Germans. It was known that 
King Constantine, with his strong German sympathies, and es- 
pecially his oft-expressed admiration for the power of the Ger- 
man military machine, was determined at all costs to keep 
his little kingdom out of the great struggle. Inasmuch as 
these two countries, Greece and Rumania, had been confidently 
regarded as belligerents on the side of the Entente Powers, even 
their neutrality was regarded as a blow to the Allies. 

This, then, was the situation that made a dashing stroke in 
Gallipoli necessary. Sir Ian Hamilton prepared for it with 
great skill. A point called Suvla Bay, north of the base es- 
tablished by the Australian and New Zealand troops at Anzac 
Cove, was selected for the point of landing, aiming to cooperate 
with the force already ashore and assisted by a strong diversion 
aimed against the Bulair lines. 

For this supreme attack, upon which so much was dependent, 
fresh troops were brought from England — men who had seen 
nothing of the fighting on any front. Indeed, it is a question for 
future experts and historians to argue pro and con whether or 
not the outcome of the attack was not due almost entirely to 
this use of green troops. How they were depended upon in a 
crucial operation, how they wavered, and the consequences to 
the allied operations will be told in the narrative. 

Suvla Bay lies between five and six miles from Anzac Cove. It 
is a wide, shallow indentation forming an almost perfect half 
circle. Although the landing facilities were not as good as at 
some other points on the coast of the peninsula, it had the ad- 



CONDITIONS IN GALLIPOLI 347 

vantage of providing plenty of more or less open country for 
maneuvering, once the troops were well ashore. This was an 
element lacking in the case of all the other landings, and one 
that Sir Ian Hamilton found of vital importance. The nature 
of the Gallipoli country as a whole made flank attacks almost 
impossible, but he hoped in the case of the fresh landing to be 
able to avoid a direct frontal assault. 

The new troops, once ashore at Suvla Bay, were to push rapidly 
across country, skirt Salt Lake, and carry the crest of the Ana- 
farta Hills, a range running to something like 600 feet in 
height and dominating two important roads and the adjacent 
country, excepting the all-important peak of Sari Bair. 

At the same time the Australian and New Zealand troops 
were to make a sudden and supreme attack upon Sari Bair itself, 
It speaks volumes for the confidence which Sir Ian Hamilton 
had in the fighting qualities of these colonial troops that he set 
them such a tremendous task. Since the landing at Anzac Cove, 
the Turks, under the supervision of their German mentors, had 
fortified every yard of the thousand feet of heights known as 
Sari Bair. An unprecedented number of machine guns had been 
brought up and placed in concealed positions from which it was 
possible to sweep every line of advance, thus powerfully in- 
creasing the volume of the infantry and artillery fire. It did not 
seem possible that an attack, however resolutely and bravely 
made, could succeed in the face of such a fierce defense. 

The third element in this new attack was to be a demonstra- 
tion against Earachali, on the European mainland of Turkey, 
menacing the Bulair lines as well as the railway running to 
Sofia, Bulgaria. For this purpose a number of troopships and 
warships carrying what was known as the Greek Legion and 
made up of Cretan volunteers, were to be used. It was hoped 
that this diversion would attract most of the available reserves 
in and about the Gallipoli Peninsula and make impossible the re- 
enforcement of the troops stationed near Anaf arta Hills and Sari 
Bair. 

The fourth and last element was to consist of a determined 
attack upon the Turkish defenses about Krithia, pinning to that 



348 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

spot all the troops possible. Curiously enough the plans of the 
Turkish command, dominated by Enver Pasha, favored the allied 
troops in that the Turks had planned an attack upon the enemy 
on the Krithia lines about this time and had concentrated most 
of their available reserves near the tip of the peninsula. 

This intention on the part of the Turks was undoubtedly due 
to the information they had received of the arrival of fresh 
British troops. But quickly as they pushed forward their prep- 
arations, the Allies were too lively for them. On August 6, 
1915, the French and British troops advanced against the Turks 
and there followed some of the most determined and desperate 
fighting of the whole Dardanelles campaign. In the fighting 
the East Lancashire Division, a territorial force, did heroic 
work and bore the brunt of the fighting. There were many in- 
dividual feats of daring and bravery, yet one stands out con- 
spicuously. A youthful Manchester schoolmaster, Lieutenant 
W. T. Forshaw, held his trench against attacks for forty-five 
hours. For forty-one of those hours he was continuously throw- 
ing bombs and only desisted when his arm became temporarily 
paralyzed. When, finally, the Turks swarmed into his trench, 
revolver in hand he led his wearied troops and drove them 
out. He richly deserved the coveted Victoria Cross which was 
conferred upon him. 

At dawn on the following day, the Australians began the 
attack at Sari Bair. The force at Anzac Cove had been re- 
enforced with Indian troops and two divisions of the new troops 
from England. As planned, the operations at Sari Bair were to 
consist of an attack, first on the right, to serve as a feint, 
and then a main attack on the left which was to link up and 
support the attack from Suvla Bay, moving around in back of 
Salt Lake. 

The attack on the right, upon what was called Lone Pine 
Plateau, was a dispiriting failure on the opening day. The 
dismounted troops of the Third Australian Light Horse, a mag- 
nificent body of men, were sent forward to storm the elaborate 
trenches of the enemy. The attack was made in three lines. The 
first was mowed down to a man; of the second only a few sur- 



CONDITIONS IN GALLIPOLI 349 

vivars reached the Turkish trenches to be either captured or 
killed; the third was stopped by a change of orders just as 
it was about to follow the other two into the valley of sure 
death. 

On the following day, the 8th, the main Australian inf antry 
forces were sent forward against the same trenches and, 
after some bloody fighting, succeeded in capturing and holding 
them against repeated counterattacks. 

While this holding operation was in progress the main attack 
was being made on the left. New Zealand and Australian 
troops, supported by a picked force of Indian hillmen, used to 
night warfare and campaigning in difficult mountain country, 
starting in the evening of August 6, 1915, made a rapid march 
along the coast as far as Fisherman's Hut. There large 
quantities of stores had been gradually accumulated in prepara- 
tion for this very movement. 

At Fisherman's Hut the force, numbering 6,000 men, under 
the command of Major General Sir A. J. Godley, turned sharply 
inland and just before dawn, almost without the knowledge of 
the Turkish defenders, had arrived within half a mile of one of 
the dominating hills on the right flank of the vitally important 
Sari Bair. 

At this point Godley's force was split into three columns. 
One composed of Australian troops, was based on Asma Dere, 
almost within touch of Suvla Bay. The Indian troops were 
within striking distance of Chunuk Bair, close to the towering 
peak of Koja Chemen, rising sharply to almost 1,000 feet, while 
the New Zealanders were within striking distance of Rho- 
dodendron Ridge. 

With the dawn of August 7, 1915, the Turks awoke to the 
seriousness of the new menace. So difficult was the country 
in which the British troops were operating that the Ottoman 
commander had dismissed all idea of a serious attack from that 
point and had merely posted patrols in the hills guarding the 
flank of Sari Bair. Now, however, reserves were hurried to 
the scene, and so rapidly and in such large numbers did they 
arrive that the troops from Anzac were soon compelled to dig 



350 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

themselves in in an attempt to hold what they had won by their 
surprise march. 

Early on the morning of August 8, 1915, the Australians 
moved out from Asma Dere. They had as an objective a near- 
by hill from which it was proposed to storm the height known 
as Koja Chemen. Unfortunately for their plan, the Turks by 
this time had brought up such forces that the Australians were 
outnumbered. They had not proceeded far before they dis- 
covered that they were being rapidly encircled. A retreat was 
immediately decided upon and so closely were they followed by 
the Turks that the British troops had difficulty even in holding 
their original position at Asma Dere. 

Meanwhile the New Zealanders were having more success. 
Carrying full kit, food, and water, these splendid colonials clam- 
bered up the steep sides of Rhododendron Ridge, swept the Turks 
from the crest and charged up the southwestern slope of the 
main peak of Sari Bair. There they dug in and fought des- 
perately to hold their advantage against successive waves of 
Turkish infantry that came charging down upon them. 

At the same time the Indian troops gained some fresh ground 
in the neighborhood of Hill Q. 

During the night of August 8, 1915, and the early morning 
of the following day, the officers of the British forces who had 
survived the fighting reorganized the scattered remnants and 
prepared for a fresh advance. About midnight reenforce- 
ments arrived at all three bases and were hurried forward 
to relieve as much as possible the exhausted men in the firing 
line. 

Just as dawn was breaking on August 9, 1915, word was 
passed along the lines that a supreme effort was to be made to 
carry the heights that barred the allied troops from a great 
victory. British and French warships posted close inshore and 
in wireless touch with the troops opened an intense bombard- 
ment of the Chunuk Bair, Hill Q, and Koja Chemen. Then the 
whistles blew, the infantry leaped out of its shallow trenches 
and, with a yell that echoed and reechoed through the Gallipoli 
hills, charged up the precipitous slopes. 



CONDITIONS IN GALLIPOLI 351 

Of the three columns, the greatest success was gained by the 
Indians. Led by the hardy Gurkhas, they actually reached the 
crest of Hill Q and looked down on the much-to-be-desired Strait, 
bathed in the hot August sunshine. 

The Turkish command full well realized the importance of this 
position, and immediately guns from every angle were turned on 
the Indian troops and the New Zealanders who were supporting 
them on the left. A hurricane of shells was poured on the troops 
before they had time to dig themselves in. A few seconds later 
a counterattack was launched in such force against the New 
Zealanders that they and the Indians were swept down the slopes 
of Sari Bair. 

By nightfall of August 8, 1915, the few Turkish patrols in 
the district had been driven off and considerable forces of the 
British troops had made their way inland. Splitting into two 
columns, one moved north and seized Karakol Bagh; the other 
and larger force marched across the low country until it had 
arrived in position facing the Anafarta Ridge, its objective. 

Lying between the line of advance from Suvla Bay to the 
Anafarta Ridge and Asma Dere, the base of the Australian 
troops operating against Sari Bair, were a number of hills, two 
of which played supremely important parts in the fighting of 
the next few days. They have been called Chocolate Hill and 
Burnt Hill. 

It was in an action against Chocolate Hill that the battle 
opened. Moving in a night attack on August 8, 1915, Irish troops 
stormed Chocolate Hill and came within measurable distance of 
connecting up with the Australian division. Then preparations 
were made for an attack upon the Anafarta Ridge. 

On August 11, 1915, the right wing of the forces landed at 
Suvla Bay succeeded in working along the coast and linking 
up with the Australians at Asma Dere. They brought with them 
to the hard-hitting Colonials the first word of the progress of the 
Anafarta operation, and it was a bitter disappointment to the 
latter to learn that their heroic efforts against Sari Bair had been 
largely made in vain because of the failure of the Suvla Bay 
force to accomplish its task* 

W— War St 4 



352 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

Both sides then busied themselves preparing for the new war- 
fare in this region. The British consolidated their positions, 
and on August 15, 1915, sent forward the same Irish division 
that had captured Chocolate Hill in an attempt to rush Dublin 
Hill. After a hand-to-hand fight with the Turkish troops, who 
swarmed out of their trenches to meet the charging Irishmen, 
the hill was won. 

The Turks, meanwhile, were strongly fortifying not only the 
Anafarta Ridge proper but some of the hills commanding its 
left flank. Here Hill 70 and Hill 112 were the major positions, 
and on August 21, 1915, the British troops moved out in an 
effort to capture them. 

A portion of the British troops succeeded in reaching the top 
of Hill 70. There, however, they were greeted by a terrible fire 
from a battery concealed on Hill 112 and forced to fall back, first 
to the lower slopes of the hill and then, when the fire slackened, 
to their original intrenched positions. 

Even less success was enjoyed by the troops making the as- 
sault upon Hill 112. The Turkish artillery poured a curtain of 
fire among the shrubs at the foot of the hill which effectively 
prevented the proposed advance. Farther to the south at the 
same time the Australians were attacking Hill 60 of the Sari 
Bair group and succeeded in driving the Turkish defenders from 
its crest. 



PART VIII— AGGRESSIVE TURKISH CAMPAIGN 
AT DARDANELLES 



CHAPTER XLII 

SABI BAIB — PARTIAL WITHDRAWAL 
OF ALLIES 

THUS practically ended the Suvla Bay operation and its 
supporting movements. Much had been expected of it and, 
by the barest margin, in the opinion of many competent mili- 
tary men, great results had been missed. Just what ultimate 
effect its success in this operation would have had on the Galli- 
poli campaign, on the position of Turkey in the war and, finally, 
upon the course of the war as a whole, it is obviously impossible 
to say. There are those who claim that the capture of Constan- 
tinople would have brought the struggle to a quick and dis- 
astrous end from the viewpoint of the Central Powers. There 
are others, equally entitled by experience and knowledge to speak, 
who claim that it would have had no appreciable influence on the 
final result. And there is a third body of critics of opinion that 
the capture of Constantinople would have been a disaster for the 
Allies, inasmuch as it would have opened up vast questions of 
age-long standing that would have led to wide dissension between 
England, Russia, and France. 

There is another and no less interesting phase of the Suvla 
Bay operation that will one day be studied with care. In this 
crucial attack a reliance was placed upon raw troops who had 
seen little or no actual fighting. It was, in a way, an attempt to 
prove that patriotic youths, rallying to the colors at their coun- 
try's need, although without previous training, could in a few 

353 



354 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

months be made more than a match for the obligatory military 
service troops of the Continental system. 

Some extremely interesting details of the preparation for the 
landing at Suvla Bay have been given by a correspondent who was 
permitted to be present, but who, like all except a few officers of 
General Ian Hamilton's immediate staff, was kept in absolute 
ignorance of the exact location of the spot selected. 

"It has long been obvious that some new landing on a vast 
scale was about to be attempted," he wrote, "and surmise has 
therefore been rife as to the exact point on which the blow would 
fall. It was hoped to take the Turk completely by surprise, and 
to obtain a firm foothold on the shore before he could bring up 
his reenf orcements. In this it would seem as if we have been 
successful, for two divisions were yesterday (August 7, 1915) 
put ashore almost without opposition. The enemy probably had 
accurate knowledge of the arrival of large reenf orcements, for it 
is almost impossible to keep movements of troops unknown in 
the Near East, and his airmen have frequently flown over our 
camps. He knew, therefore, we were preparing to strike, but on 
the vital point as to where the blow would fall he seems to have 
been entirely ignorant 

"No one who has not seen a landing of a large army on a 
hostile shore can have any idea of the enormous amount of prep- 
aration work and rehearsal which must precede any such move- 
ment. For three weeks this has been going on incessantly. 

'Tor many days past a division has been practicing embark- 
ing and disembarking until every officer and every man knew 
the exact rdle he had to play. 

"On the morning of August 6, 1915, 1 was told to hold myself 
in readiness to embark that evening for an unknown destina- 
tion, which would not be disclosed to me until after I got on 
board the transport There was general rejoicing among the 
troops when it became known that the period of preparation 
was at length passed and that the hour for action had at last 
arrived. 

"Throughout the whole of August 6, 1915, the work of em- 
barking proceeded without a stop. Dense masses of fully 



SARI BAIR 355 

equipped infantry, each carrying two days' rations, and tin 
dishes strapped on their knapsacks, moved down to the quay 
and were there embarked. The troops seemed in excellent spirits 
and full of fight. They were cracking jokes and singing many 
familiar songs, the favorite of which seemed to be a blending of 
Tipperary* with 'Are We Downhearted?' Which query was 
answered by a deafening roar of 'No!' " 

In writing of the country around Suvla Bay the same cor- 
respondent said: 

'The country is in fact terrible; the hills are an awful jumble, 
with no regular formation, but broken up into valleys, dongas, 
ravines, and partly bare sandstone, and partly covered with 
dense shrub. In places there are sheer precipices over which it 
is impossible to climb and down which a false step may send 
you sliding several hundreds of feet." 

Finally, deeply illuminating is the official communique 
published in England on August 26, 1915, regarding the 
operations in early August. The most striking paragraphs 
follow: 

''Very severe and continuous fighting, with heavy losses to 
both sides, has resulted. Our forces have not yet gained the 
objectives at which they were aiming in sphere eight, though 
they have made a decided advance toward them and have greatly 
increased the area in our possession. 

"The attack from Anzac after a series of desperately con- 
tested actions, was carried to the summit of Sari Bair and 
Chunuk Bair Ridge, which are the dominating positions on this 
area, but, owing to the fact that the attack from Suvla Bay did 
not make the progress which was counted upon, the troops from 
Anzac were not able to maintain their position in the actual 
crest, and after repeating counterattacks, were compelled to with- 
draw to positions close below it." 

And the communique ends up with the significant sentence: 

"But these facts must not lead the public to suppose that 
the true objective has been gained or that further serious and 
costly efforts will not be required before a decisive victory is 
won." 



856 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Picturesque accounts of the fighting by the Australian troops 
for Sari Bair on August 6, 7, and 8, 1915, have been written 
by an eyewitness of the fighting. Speaking of the few mo 
ments before the fighting, he said: 

"Meanwhile the combined Australians and New Zealanders 
braced for the desperate night attack that had been decided upon. 
The men had long been waiting for this hour to arrive. 

"Strict orders were given that not a shot was to be fired; 
the bayonet alone was to be used. Exactly at ten o'clock on 
Friday night a brigade clambered over their trenches and furi- 
ously charged the Turkish line amid loud cheers, bayoneting all 
the enemy found therein. The Turks, taken apparently quite 
unawares, fired wildly and were unable to check the advance. 

"Thus in a few minutes all the enemy nearest the sea were in 
our hands and the way was thus cleared for the main advance. 
The New Zealanders stopped only to take breath and then pur- 
sued their victorious career, rushing in succession the old No. 3 
outpost, 'Bauchop's Hill/ and other Turkish positions. The na- 
tive Maoris entered into the charge with great dash, making the 
darkness of the night hideous with their wild war cries, and 
striking terror into the hearts of the Turks with the awful 
vigor with which they used their bayonets and the butt end of 
their rifles. 

'The darkness of the night, the broken nature of the ground, 
and the shell fire with which the enemy had smothered every 
available bit of ground, with his deadly snipers, delayed the main 
advance somewhat after these preliminary positions had been 
successfully rushed, for every hill and spur had to be picketed 
to keep down the fire from lurking marksmen left in the rear of 
pur advancing columns. The fighting throughout the night 
was continuous, for amid these gloomy ravines the Turks offered 
courageous and despairing resistance to the Australians, the 
New Zealanders and Maoris, and many bloody encounters, the 
details of which will never be known, were fought in the dark 
hours which preceded a still more eventful dawn/ 9 



AGGRESSIVE TURKISH MOVEMENTS 357 

CHAPTER XLIII 

AGGRESSIVE TURKISH M O V E M E N T S— P I N I N 

IN ENGLAND — CHANGE IN 

COMMAND 

WITH the withdrawal of the allied troops from Anzac Cove 
and Suvla Bay, the Turks were free to concentrate all their 
forces in the Gallipoli Peninsula in the south against the British 
and French forces that were still intrenched on a line running 
roughly from Y Beach on the JEge&n Sea to Kereves Dere on the 
Dardanelles, skirting the slopes that led up to the town of Krithia 
and the heights of Achi Baba. 

Immediately the Turks began to transfer the guns and men 
that had been used against the northern position. Obviously 
such a transfer in difficult country with few roads and a re- 
stricted front took considerable time. In the meantime the 
British and French in front of Krithia were not inactive. They 
countered constantly against the ever-increasing pressure of the 
enemy. Although few infantry attacks were engaged in, bomb 
and mine warfare for the improvement of the allied positions 
and the prevention of fresh inroads by the Turks was an al- 
most constant affair. 

Fortunately for the safety and subsequent plans of the Allies, 
the Gallipoli Peninsula at that time of the year was rendered 
most difficult for offensive fighting. Heavy rains and conse- 
quent floods make the country almost impassable for the move- 
ment of big guns or large bodies of troops in the face of a 
determined defense. 

But while the position of the allied troops in the hills away 
from the fringe of coast was becoming desperate, at or near 
the beaches they could enjoy practical immunity except from 
a few long-range Turkish batteries. The powerful guns of the 
allied warships so far outranged and outweighed anything the 
Turks could bring into the field about Krithia and Achi Baba that 
the allied troops could lie sheltered under their protection. 



358 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

This fact undoubtedly contributed largely to the astonishing 
success of the reembarkation operations here, as it had at the 
two northern bases. The chief danger to the allied troops about 
Erithia was in the retreat over the few miles that separated 
them from the embarkation beaches. 

Finally, however, the pressure of the Turks became so heavy 
that there was very real apprehension for the safety of the 
allied troops still left on the peninsula. Whether or not it 
was ever intended to maintain the positions won in the south it is 
impossible to say at this time. Some observers were of the 
opinion that it was England's desire to construct on the terri- 
tory in her possession at the entrance to the Dardanelles a 
second Gibraltar, commanding at least one end of the important 
waterway. German opinion held that it had been agreed between 
the Entente Powers in the event of the forcing of the Dardanelles 
that the land commanding the waterway was to be divided among 
the three countries, each dominating a stretch — probably Russia 
in Constantinople, England at the Narrows, and France in 
between. 

However that may be, any intention of hanging on to the 
territory captured in the south was soon to be impracticable. 
By the first of the year, 1916, the Turks were hotly pressing 
the allied troops to the left of Erithia and it became imperative 
to shorten the line. 

Favored by the floods and the fact that, despite the knowledge 
of the Turks that a reembarkation had been decided upon, they 
did not know exactly when it was to be carried out, the retire- 
ment was effected with small loss. On the nights of January 
8-9, 1916, the men were embarked from the beaches at the north 
of Sedd-el-Bahr under the guns of the British and French 
fleet. 

At the last moment it was found impossible to get eleven 
British guns away. Reluctantly it was decided to destroy them 
and they were rendered useless by the last troops leaving the 
peninsula. Similarly the French were compelled to abandon 
six heavy pieces. Immense stores were burned and all the build- 
ings, piers, etc., erected by the allied troops blown up. 



AGGRESSIVE TURKISH MOVEMENTS 359 

While the Allies 9 offensive was beginning to wane at Gallipoli, 
an interesting incident developed at Constantinople which gives 
some idea of the high tension existing there at the time. The 
story is best told in the original words of Mr. Henry Wood, an 
American newspaper correspondent, who in a dispatch dated 
August 17, 1915, first gave the news to the New York "World." 
He wrote: 

"The following is the story of the manner in which Mr. Mor- 
genthau, the American Ambassador, intervened in favor of 2,000 
English and French civilians whom Enver Pasha had decided 
to expose to the bombardment of the allied fleet at Gallipoli : 

'The decision had not only been taken, but every detail had 
been covertly prepared for its carrying out on a Monday morn- 
ing, when on the previous evening Mr. Morgenthau learned 
of it. He at once telephoned to Enver Pasha and secured from 
him a promise that women and children should be spared. A 
second request, that the execution of the order be delayed until 
the following Thursday, was only granted after the ambassador 
had assured Enver that it would be the greatest mistake Tur- 
key had ever made to carry it out without first advising the 
powers interested. 

"Mr. Morgenthau at once telegraphed to France and England 
by way of Washington, and no reply having arrived by Wed- 
nesday morning, again telephoned to the War Minister, in- 
sisting on being received in personal audience. 

" 'I have not a single moment left vacant until four o'clock, 
at which time I must attend a Council of the Ministers/ was 
the reply. 

"'But unless you have received me by four o'clock/ Mr, 
Moigenthau replied, 4 I will come out and enter the Council of 
Ministers myself, when I shall insist upon talking to you/ 

"An appointment was therefore granted for three o'clock, and 
after a long argument Enver Pasha was persuaded to agree to 
send only twenty-five French and twenty-five English to Galli- 
poli 'as a demonstration/ the War Minister arguing that any 
farther retraction would weaken discipline. It was also agreed 
to send only the youngest men, and Bedri Bey, the Constants 



860! THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

nople chief of police, was at once sent for in order that he might 
be acquainted with the new limitation of the decision. But he 
at once protested. 'I don't want to send a lot of boys down 
there. I want to send down notables. You have tricked me/ 
he declared, turning to the ambassador. 

"Next morning the ambassador attended personally to the go- 
ing aboard of the twenty-five French and twenty-five English 
who had been finally selected. For all that, they knew the 
original orders to expose them to the fire of the fleet were to 
be carried out to the letter, and the farewell to their friends 
and relatives at the Golden Horn pier was one of the most af- 
fecting ever enacted at Constantinople. At the last minute 
one of the British ministers, who still remained at Constanti- 
nople, volunteered to go along in order that he might offer spirit- 
ual consolation should they eventually face death, and a young 
Englishman was released in his place. Mr. Morgenthau insisted 
that the party be accompanied by Mr. Hoffman Phillip, First 
Secretary of the American Embassy. 

"On their arrival at Gallipoli they were imprisoned in two 
empty houses and informed that the allied fleet was expected any 
moment to resume its bombardment. The city had been under 
fire for several days, and was almost completely deserted. No 
provision had been made for their subsistence. During the days 
which followed the fifty men suffered considerable hardships, 
but at last orders came from Constantinople for all fifty to be 
returned and released/' 

Meanwhile a curious hardening of public opinion regard- 
ing the Dardanelles was taking place in England, which in 
the course of time was destined to have an all-important in- 
fluence on the operations in that part of the. world. Before 
the Suvla Bay landing there had been considerable but mild 
criticism of the manner in which the whole affair had been un- 
dertaken and carried out. Close upon the early successes of the 
naval bombardment there had been an unjustified public op- 
timism. Then came weeks of pessimism following that black day 
when three battleships were sent to the bottom almost at one 
blow. 



AGGRESSIVE TURKISH MOVEMENTS 361 

Subsequent events and the false color given to them by the 
official, but especially the unofficial, accounts served to hearten 
the British public for a time. Then came Winston Churchill's 
famous speech in which he spoke of Sir Ian Hamilton's forces 
being "only a few miles from a great victory/' such as would have 
a determining effect upon the outcome of the war. This was 
followed by many absurd but circumstantial reports that the 
Dardanelles had actually been forced but, for some unexplained 
reasons, the news was being withheld by the Government. 

A little later there came news of the arrival of German sub- 
marines off Gallipoli and of the sinking of two more battleships. 
This was followed by unofficial intimation that the major fleet 
had had to be withdrawn from the waters about the peninsula 
and that the forces on land were in a measure cut off and depend- 
ent upon smaller vessels for naval support and supply. 

At this point criticism of the Dardanelles campaign became 
more pronounced and daring in many quarters in England. The 
public was ripe for it and many openly expressed their regret 
that it had ever been entered upon. Then came the Suvla Bay 
landing, and affairs rapidly moved to a climax. 

The Suvla Bay attempt, like all of the other operations at 
Gallipoli, was conceived in a spirit of excessive optimism, It 
was intended to be a surprise and the public in England were 
kept absolutely ignorant of the preparations, so far as it was 
possible to prevent a leakage with thousands of troops being 
sent out of the country. Even after the landing and the fighting 
were well over, little or no news was allowed to get into the 
papers. Finally there came a long dispatch from the United 
States, which, curiously enough, the British censor passed, tell- 
ing of the utter defeat of the Turk, the complete success of the 
Suvla Bay maneuver, and intimating that the forcing of the 
Dardanelles was now but a question of a few days. 

This amazing dispatch, in which there was of course no truth, 
was printed in the leading English papers, and a large part of 
the unthinking public and even a portion of the more intelligent 
classes swallowed it whole. The news came just at the time of 
the blackest week of the war up to that time, from the British 



362 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

point of view, when the Germans were racing to the end of their 
remarkable drive against the Russians and the czar's great for- 
tresses were falling like packs of cards before the furious on- 
slaughts of the Teuton forces. 

But with the arrival and publication in England of Sir Ian 
Hamilton's account, and the declaration by him that the ends 
aimed at had not been achieved, it soon was realized that even 
this great attempt, upon which so much had been builded, had 
failed. Depression became universal, and there were for the 
first time responsible demands that the whole expedition be 
abandoned. 

This question of the total abandonment of the attempt to force 
the Dardanelles was a tremendous problem for England. In- 
volved in it was the great question of her prestige, not only 
among her millions of Mohammedan subjects, but also in the 
Balkans, then rapidly moving to a decision. Turkey was the 
only Mohammedan power still boasting independence, and for 
Great Britain to acknowledge herself bested in an attempt to 
defeat her was likely to have far-reaching and serious results 
throughout India and Egypt, where Great Britain's ability to 
hold what she had won was dependent in a large measure upon 
the very prestige now in danger. 

One of the reasons for urging the abandonment of the Dar- 
danelles campaign was the urgent need for troops elsewhere. It 
was declared that it was absurd folly to be wasting troops at 
Gallipoli when the western front was being starved for men. 
Furthermore there were rapidly accumulating evidences that the 
Entente Powers were soon to be compelled to fight on a new and 
important front. 

About this time Germany began her preparations for a final 
attack upon Serbia. Try as the Allies might, they had not been 
able to force an agreement between Serbia and Bulgaria on the 
question of the ownership of those parts of Macedonia won from 
the Turk in the First Balkan War, and taken from the Bulgar by 
the Serbians in the second. Germany, taking advantage of these 
irreconcilable differences, was about to launch a heavy attack 
from the north upon the kingdom of aged Peter. 



AGGRESSIVE TURKISH MOVEMENTS 363 

In these circumstances there came before the British Govern- 
ment, in common with the French Government, the question of 
Just how great an obligation rested on the shoulders of the two 
great powers. Serbia certainly looked to them to assist her with 
all their strength, and at the height of the agitation Sir Edward 
Grey made a public declaration that in every circumstance Serbia 
could look to England for unlimited support. 

It was when those who knew began to discuss the question of 
where Great Britain was to find the military force to make good 
Grey's pledge to Serbia that the Dardanelles campaign came in 
for hot criticism. It was known that few, if any, fully trained 
troops were available in England for a fresh campaign. Indeed, 
as matters ultimately worked out, it was France who found the 
bulk of the force that was hurried to Saloniki when Bulgaria 
declared war on Serbia and joined in the Austro-German attack 
upon the Balkan kingdom. Later, under French pressure, Eng- 
land withdrew 40,000 of her troops from the western front and 
rushed them off to Saloniki, but much too late to succor Serbia. 

Finally, so powerful became the influences calling upon the 
Government to retire from the Dardanelles with as much grace 
as possible that the opinion of Sir Ian Hamilton was asked. 
Probably the inside truth of the affair will not be known for 
some years, but it later developed that there was considerable 
friction between Sir Ian Hamilton and the British War Office at 
the time. Sir Ian, it is known, laid a large part of blame for 
the failure at the Strait to the fact that Earl Kitchener did not 
send him large reenforcements that were expressly promised. 
At any rate he was against a withdrawal from Gallipoli in the 
circumstances and in favor of a swift and overwhelming assault 
with all the troops and forces that could be gathered. He was 
still firmly convinced that the forcing of the Dardanelles was 
possible and probable. 

Just what were the relations between France and England, 
and especially how they each regarded the Dardanelles cam- 
paign in the winter of 1915, it is impossible to say with any 
degree of assurance. It is known, however, that there were 
serious differences of opinion! not only among the more influ- 



364 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

ential men in both Paris and London, but between the two 
Governments. 

Obviously, the British were the more reluctant to abandon the 
project, which had been entered upon with so much confidence 
and enthusiasm. It was distinctly a British operation, although 
the French Government had given its unqualified approval at 
the start and had loyally contributed all the troops it could 
spare. But the plans had been drawn up in London and had been 
worked out by British commanders ; and the acknowledgment of 
failure was a confession of British, not French, incompetency* 
It was a blow at British prestige such as had not been dealt since 
the early disasters of the Boer War. 

While the whole question of the Gallipoli campaign was being 
reconsidered there occurred something that had a profound effect 
upon subsequent events in that part of the war area and else- 
where. The defeat of the Russians while the French and British 
troops were unable, through lack of preparation and foresight, 
to carry on an energetic offensive that might have drawn the 
Germans from their Slav prey, convinced all the allied Govern- 
ments that the time had arrived for a thorough revision of their 
system of cooperation. In short, if the war was to be won and 
each of the Entente Powers was to escape a separate defeat 
while the others were doomed to a forced inactivity, it was neces- 
sary that their military, economic, and financial affairs should be 
so coordinated and administered that they should be directed 
with one object only in view — the winning of the war. 

For this purpose representatives of the allied powers met in 
Paris and discussed plans. One of the first results of these dis- 
cussions was to be seen in the military field. The armies of 
France and England in the field became, for all practical pur- 
poses, one. The supreme command of the allied forces in France 
was placed in the hands of the commander in chief of the French 
army. 

General French, who had been only nominally under the orders 
of the French commander in chief, retired from command of the 
British army in France and one of his subordinates, Sir Douglas 
Haig, took his place. Similarly, in the southwestern theatre of 



AGGRESSIVE TURKISH MOVEMENTS 365 

the war, where Sir Ian Hamilton was in supreme command, the 
leadership passed to France, Hamilton resigning and his plac< 
being taken by Sir Charles Monro. When the British and French 
troops from Gallipoli were ultimately landed at Saloniki the 
supreme command of the allied forces in that theatre of war was 
given to General Sarrail of the French army. 

Undoubtedly, too, the influence of France, and of Joffre indi- 
vidually, was thrown into the scales at these Paris meetings 
against a continuance of the Dardanelles operations. French 
public opinion was strongly in favor of sending immediate succor 
to the Serbians. So strong, in fact, was this public opinion that, 
when the expected help failed to arrive, it forced the immediate 
downfall of Delcass6 and the ultimate resignation of the French 
Cabinet. 

Soon after Kitchener returned to London from these Paris 
conferences a sensation was caused by the announcement that 
he was leaving the War Office temporarily and would undertake 
an important mission in the Near East. Ultimately it developed 
that this important mission was nothing more nor less than a 
first-hand examination of the problems confronting the British 
commander in withdrawing his force from Gallipoli and a study 
of the field into which it was proposed to transfer, not only these 
troops, but hundreds of thousands of others. 

Probably no high officer of the British army was more fitted 
for the mission. Whatever one may think of Kitchener's ad- 
ministration of the British War Office during a period of unprece- 
dented difficulty, no one can deny his success in India and Egypt. 
With those commands had necessarily gone an exhaustive study 
of military operations that might conceivably have to be under- 
taken for the protection of British prestige and power in the 
Mohammedan world. 

Thus he was thoroughly at home in the Near East and he 
brought back to London an encouraging report. Even high 
military opinion in England had been of the opinion that the 
withdrawal of the allied troops from Gallipoli could not be 
effected without terrible losses. Some even held that it would 
be better and less costly in human lives to leave the troops there 



366 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

on the defensive until the end of the war than to attempt to get 
them out of the death hole into which they had been dumped. 

This, however, was not Lord Kitchener's idea. He reported 
that they could be withdrawn, not, it was true, without heavy 
losses, but at a cost much smaller than the general estimate. 
This conclusion he came to after an examination on the spot, and 
subsequent events, as we shall see, more than justified his judg- 
ment in the matter. 

Once having made up its mind to risk the loss of prestige in- 
volved and withdraw the army from the Gallipoli Peninsula, the 
British Government acted with speed and intelligence. It turned 
the difficult task over to General Sir Charles Monro, whose subse- 
quent accomplishment of the operations earned him the admira- 
tion of every military man throughout the world. 

General Sir Charles Monro's job was difficult and dangerous 
enough for any man. In the face of an enemy numbering, some- 
thing like 80,000 men, along a line of 20,000 yards, he had to 
withdraw an almost equal number of men with their stores, 
trucks, ammunition, guns, etc. Only by the greatest of good 
fortune could he have the inestimable advantage of surprise. 

Moreover, the enemy had been tremendously encouraged and 
emboldened by the successful defense which they had offered to 
all the allied assaults of the previous year. Their Mohammedan 
fanaticism had been stirred by the Turkish, Austrian, and Ger- 
man press, and their pride quickened by the thick crop of rumors 
that the Allies were finally about to acknowledge defeat. 

In many places the French and British trenches were separated 
by less than fifty yards from the Turkish defenders. In few 
cases were they more than 500 yards distant. Furthermore, the 
Turkish positions overlooked the allied troops, being in almost 
every case on higher ground. And finally the Suvla Bay and 
Anzac regions, the points from which the troops would have to 
be embarked, were all within artillery range and often within 
rifle range of the enemy. 

Every effort was made by General Monro and his subordinate 
officers to conduct the preparations for the embarkation of the 
troops in secret. That is to say the exact day decided unon was 



AGGRESSIVE TURKISH MOVEMENTS 367 

kept a secret from all except the highest officers. For it was not 
possible to keep from the Turks entirely the knowledge of a com- 
plete withdrawal from the Gallipoli Peninsula of the allied 
troops. Too much publicity had been given to the whole discus- 
sion in France and England for that. 

Eventually, Monday, December 19, 1915, was decided upon for 
the critical operation. With all possible secrecy a great fleet of 
transports was gathered at Mudros Bay and, under the protec- 
tion of this fleet of warships — the strongest that had approached 
the Gallipoli Peninsula since the arrival of the German sub- 
marines in the neighborhood — sailed for Suvla Bay and Anzac 
Cove. 

It had been decided to remove the allied troops from these two 
bases before attempting the perhaps more difficult task of getting 
the force away from the Krithia region. Indeed, after the 
troops had been safely extricated from the northern bases it was 
officially announced in London that the Allies would continue to 
hold the base won in the south. This proved, however, to be 
merely in the nature of a literary demonstration to divert the 
attention of the none too credulous Turk from the real purpose 
of the allied command. 

While the fleet of transports and warships was approaching 
the two bases under cover of the night, the Australian and New 
Zealand troops at Anzac and the British troops at Suvla were 
hastily preparing for leaving. Among the colonial troops there 
was the keenest regret in thus relinquishing what had been so 
hardly won at the price of so many precious lives. To the 
Australians the operations at Anzac will always remain one of 
the greatest, if not the very greatest military feat in their his- 
tory. To be sure they fought in numbers and with conspicuous 
bravery throughout the Boer War; but Anzac was an operation 
all their own, on a scale never before attempted by them as a 
distinct military organization. They had won undying fame and 
unstinted praise from the highest military authorities, and the 
success of the operation in that part of the Gallipoli Peninsula 
had become a matter affecting their pride. 
X— War St 4 



368 



THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 



*&* KARNABtKEUl" 




SfCfMJK OP Mlt.E<> 

"> HIGHWAY* 

PORT* 
HClOHTftlNFeCT 



OPERATIONS AT THE DARDANELLES 



ABANDONMENT OF DARDANELLES 369 

CHAPTER XLIV 

ABANDONMENT OF DARDANELLES- 
ARMENIAN ATROCITIES 

FINALLY, by midnight of Sunday, all was ready. Just after 
that hour the allied troops on shore at Anzac and Suvla Bay 
could see the dark forms of the warships and the transports as 
they dropped anchor close inshore. If they had listened atten- 
tively they might have heard the soft splash of the hundreds 
of muffled oars as they slowly propelled the ships' boats toward 
the beaches. 

On shore preparations were being made to repel a hurricane 
attack by the Turks. For it was felt that as soon as the enemy 
got knowledge of the contemplated withdrawal they would attack 
with unprecedented fury. 

But, though the British troops waited, the expected attack 
never came. Finally, just after three o'clock in the morning, the 
Australians exploded a large mine at Russell's Top, between the 
two systems of trenches, and made a strong demonstration as if 
about to initiate a big offensive. About eight o'clock the last of 
them were taken off. Before these last men left they set fire to 
the stores that it had been impossible to carry away. 

It was only then, apparently, that the Turks awoke to the real 
progress of events. Immediately from every Turkish battery a 
hurricane of shells was poured into the deserted Allies' base. 
Those within range turned their fire upon the allied fleet, now 
swiftly disappearing from sight in the thin haze. 

Highly significant, as showing the serious state of public opin- 
ion in England during the closing days of the Dardanelles cam- 
paign, were the published statements of E. Ashmead-Bartlett. 
Ashmead-Bartlett was in the nature of an official eyewitness of 
the major part of the operations at the Strait, although the 
British War Office took no responsibility for his opinions or 
statements. It was at first intended by the British authorities 
that there should be no newspaper correspondents on the spot, 



370 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

but finally, as a concession to the demands of the united press 
of Great Britain, it was agreed that one man should be allowed 
on the scene and that his dispatches should be syndicated among 
the papers sharing the expense of his work. Ashmead-Bartlett 
was the man selected for the unique task. 

His dispatches from the Dardanelles were censored on the spot 
and again in London, so they did not possess much information 
of direct value. It was when he returned to London and was in a 
degree free from restraint that he wrote frankly. His remarks 
are quoted in part because they are the best, perhaps the only, 
unprejudiced opinion on the operations from a British point 
of view. 

Writing in the middle of October, 1915, he strongly advised 
the abandonment of the campaign, "which," he says, "if it ever 
had any hope of success, now is completely robbed of it." In 
his opinion, giving up the campaign would not hurt the Allies 9 
prestige in the Balkans, for the simple reason that their prestige 
had "been reduced to nil" by the Foreign Office, loquacious poli- 
ticians, and faulty diplomacy. 

Speaking of the military operations at the Dardanelles, after 
paying the highest tribute to the ability and the courage of the 
Turks, and berating the British politicians who interfered with 
the General Staff, he said: 

" Apart from the question that the conception is of doubtful 
paternity, we committed every conceivable blunder in our meth- 
ods of carrying out the plan. Few minds were engaged that 
had any knowledge of the character of the Turks 9 fighting quali- 
ties and the geography of the country. Never before in this war 
has the situation been more serious. 

"Our boasted financial stamina in outlasting our opponents 
is going fast to ruin in excessive expenditures in enterprises 
which, if they ever had any hope of success, now have been finally 
robbed of all such hope. 

"A good gambler, when he loses much, can afford to stop. He 
waits for a turn in his luck and a fresh pack of cards, and clears 
off for another table. The mad and headstrong gambler loses 
everything trying to recoup, and has nothing left to make a fresh 



ABANDONMENT OF DARDANELLES 371 

start elsewhere. Which is England to be, the former or the 
latter?" 

It is natural that the Turkish people should have been jubi- 
lant over the turn of events in Gallipoli and elsewhere. After 
the series of defeats during the Balkan War the successes of 
the Great War against such redoubtable opponents as France 
and England were all the more inspiring. The final success in 
the Dardanelles had been predicted some weeks before in the 
Turkish Parliament, and therefore was not unexpected. In the 
last week in October, Halil Bey, president of the Turkish Cham- 
ber of Deputies, declared : 

"At the time when the most serious engagements were taking 
place in the Dardanelles and in Gallipoli, I was in Berlin. I was 
there able to realize personally the feelings of high and sin- 
cere admiration entertained by our allies for the extraordinary 
bravery with which terrible attacks were repulsed by our armies. 
The German nation publicly congratulated their Government, 
which, at a time when we were despised by the smallest nations, 
was proud to sign an alliance with us. That alliance carries with 
it obligations for the distant future, and unites in a sincere and 
unshakable friendship three great armies and three great nations. 

"The cannon which thundered on the Danube will soon be 
heard again in greater force and will create in the Balkans an 
important sector in connection with the war. After the reestab- 
lishment of communications, which will take place within a brief 
space of time, our army will be in a better position to fulfill its 
mission on all the fronts, and in irresistible fashion. The hopes 
of the enemy are forever destroyed as regards Constantinople 
and its straits, and can never be renewed/' 

Extremely significant is one of the concluding paragraphs of 
his speech in which he foreshadows economic developments after 
the war. In view of the Allies 9 expressed intention of making 
an effort to boycott German trade even after the signing of peace 
terms, the following words of Halil Bey are illuminating and 
important : 

"The most important result of this war is that from the North 
Sea to the Indian Ocean a powerful group will have been created 



372 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

that will be ever in opposition to English egotism, which has 
been the cause of the loss of millions of human lives and of thou- 
sands of millions in money, and will act as a check on Russian 
pride, French revanche, and Italian treachery. In order to se- 
cure this happy result the Turkish nation will be proud to sub- 
mit to every sort of sacrifice." The president concluded his 
speech by eulogizing the memory of those who had fallen in 
the war. 

Halil Bey's prediction of the reestablishment of communica- 
tions with the Central Powers was not long in being fulfilled. 
Within two weeks the Germano- Austrian drive from the Danube 
had penetrated to Bulgarian territory opposite the Rumanian 
frontier, and within another fortnight it had linked up with 
the Bulgarian columns in the south operating against Nish. For 
all practical purposes Serbia was in their hands, and the power- 
ful economic group heralded by Halil Bey was in the process 
of completion. 

There is no doubt that the forging of this strong link with 
Berlin was one of the main considerations in inducing the Allies 
to abandon the Dardanelles campaign. There were two im- 
mensely important reasons why this should have radically 
changed conditions in the Gallipoli Peninsula. 

In the first place, there was the question of supplies. There 
are three ways in which modern wars on a big scale can be 
won: by direct military pressure, by financial pressure, or by 
economic stress. In the case of the Allies 9 offensive against 
Turkey, after the first disappointment of the naval military 
operations, it was confidently predicted that economic stress 
would accomplish what military pressure had failed to do. It 
was known that Turkey had but meager means of making 
good the enormous expenditure of heavy-gun ammunition 
necessary in modern battles. Indeed, as early as the big naval 
attempt to force the Dardanelles, rumors were heard of a 
shortage of ammunition in the Turkish forts, and in this 
connection it is interesting to print a report that gained cur- 
rency at the tim* of *he abandonment of the Anzac and Suvla 
Bay base o 



ABANDONMENT OF DARDANELLES 373 

Had the allied fleet returned to its attack upon the Dardanelles 
batteries on the day following the great bombardment of March 
19, 1915, the waterway to Constantinople would surely have been 
forced, in the opinion of several artillery officers of the defense 
works near Tchanak-Kalessi expressed to the Associated Press 
correspondent, who had just reached Vienna. 

One of the principal batteries, it appeared, had for three of 
its large caliber guns just four armor-piercing shells each when 
night ended the tremendous efforts of the British and French 
fleet. 

For the fourth gun five shells were left, making for the 
entire battery a total of seventeen projectiles of the sort which 
the aggressors had to fear. What this meant is best understood 
when it is considered that the battery in question was the one 
which had to be given the widest berth by the allied fleet. 

During the evening of March 18, 1915, the correspondent talked 
with several artillery officers from this battery. 

"Better pack up and be ready to quit at daybreak/' said one 
of them. 

"Why?" he asked. 

"Oh, they are sure to get in to-morrow !" 

Then the officer stated his reasons. He was so certain that 
the British and French would return in the morning to finish 
their task that there was no question in his mind as to the pro- 
priety of discussing the ammunition matter. 

"We'll hold out well enough to make them think that there 
is no end to our supply of ammunition," he said, "but it can't 
be done if they go about their work in real earnest. With our 
heavy pieces useless they can reduce the batteries on the other 
shore without trouble. The case looks hopeless. You had better 
take my advice." 

Following the advice thus given, the correspondent rose early 
next morning and packed his few belongings, keeping, mean- 
while, a watchful eye on the tower of Eale-Sultanie, where the 
flag, showing that the allied fleet was near, was usually hoisted. 
But the morning passed and still the danger signal did not 
appear. Evidently the allied fleet was not inclined to risk more 



374 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

such losses as those of the previous day, when the Bouvet, Irre- 
sistible, and Ocean went down and five other ships were badly 
damaged. Yet even with the eleven remaining ships, it appears 
from the Turkish admissions, the Dardanelles could have been 
forced on March 19, 1915. 

The correspondent visited several of the batteries during the 
day. The damage done the day before was slight indeed, con- 
sisting mostly of large earth displacements from the parapets 
and traverses. Four guns were temporarily out of commission, 
but the general shortage of ammunition made these pieces negli- 
gible quantities anyway. 

Although the British information system in this field of opera- 
tions was efficient, it must have failed in this instance, for it 
seems certain that with seventeen shells the battery in question 
would have been easily disposed of, a channel could have been 
made through the mine field, and the way to Constantinople 
would have been open. 

All this was realized in the Turkish capital. The court made 
arrangements to transfer to Akhissar Anatolia, and the Ger- 
man and Austro-Hungarian Embassies were ready to leave for 
this ancient seat of the Ottoman Government. The families of 
many German officers in the Turkish service left Constantinople. 
In short, everybody understood that a calamity was pending. 
What its exact nature was but a few knew. 

Whatever truth there may have been in this particular story, 
there seems to be little doubt that the Turks were woefully short 
of ammunition. During the Balkan War it was reported on good 
authority that much of their ammunition was defective. When 
countries like France, England, and Russia hopelessly miscalcu- 
lated the need of ammunition for modern warfare, it is not ask- 
ing too much of us to believe that the Turks suffered in a worse 
degree. 

Without direct or indirect communication with Germany, it is 
easy to imagine this condition of affairs getting steadily worse. 
At the beginning of the war, there seems to be good evidence, 
large quantities of all kinds of munitions and war supplies were 
rushed from Germany to Constantinople by way of Rumania 



ABANDONMENT OF DARDANELLES 375 

and Bulgaria, but it was not long before the Rumanian Govern- 
ment, either of its own volition or in the face of threats by the 
allied powers, refused to permit these supplies to pass through 
her territory. 

It became evident to the Allies that sooner or later the Ger- 
mans would have to make an attempt to link up with the Turks. 
Thus, from one point of view, the operations at the Dardanelles 
became a race against Germany, with a common objective, Con- 
stantinople. Those who laid their money on the allied horse 
were confident of winning, figuring that long before the Germans 
were free of the French menace on the west and south and the 
Russian menace on the east, arid so in a position to undertake 
an offensive against Serbia, the allied troops would have forced 
the Dardanelles, vanquished the Ottoman troops before the gates 
of Constantinople, and opened the Strait of the Dardanelles and 
the Bosporus. 

So it was that when events did not transpire as expected, 
and the allied troops were still hanging desperately to their 
bases on Gallipoli Peninsula, when the Germans had subdued 
Serbia, and arrived in triumph in the capital of the Ottoman 
Empire via the Berlin to Constantinople Express, there was no 
longer any hope of starving the Turkish guns nor, having even 
forced the Dardanelles, any certainty of the capture of Constan- 
tinople. In other words, conditions had radically changed, and, 
even with better chances of success than were believed to exist, 
the game was no longer worth the candle. 

The second reason was that, with a neutral Bulgaria, the bene- 
fits to the Allies of a successful offensive in the Dardanelles were 
obvious. The forcing of the Strait, a combined naval and land 
attack upon Constantinople, the driving of the Turk from Europe, 
and the insertion of a firm defensive wedge between the empire 
of the Sultan and any possible German offensive from the 
north, were objectives important enough to justify almost any 
expenditure of money, men, and effort the Allies might have 
made. 

But with the Turkish army linked up with a friendly Bul- 
garia, and backed by a strong Austro-German force led by 



876 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

General Mackensen, the conditions were changed to a state of 
hopelessness. An allied army operating on the European side 
against Constantinople would be dangerously flanked by the 
Bulgarian and Austro-Germans and hopelessly outnumbered if 
limited to the force the Allies had been able to send to the 
southeastern war area. 

Just how many men it was possible for Bulgaria and Turkey 
to put in the field it is not possible to state definitely. It would 
be reasonable to figure that they could by a great effort, after 
many months of war, put at least twice their reputed war 
strength into the ranks. The larger countries far exceeded such 
figures. Enver Pasha, at the end of October, 1915, stated that 
Turkey had raised a total of 2,000,000 soldiers. Bulgaria, in 
a case of necessity, might possibly have added another million, 
while Germany and Austria, at the time of the operations against 
Serbia, demonstrated their ability to supply, in action and in re- 
serve, another 500,000 for this front. 

These are huge figures. There were many reasons why all 
these troops could not be used against an allied offensive. It is 
not meant to imply, for instance, that an allied offensive on a 
large scale, based on Saloniki, is doomed to failure. The figures 
are quoted simply to show the military conditions that made an 
offensive from the Dardanelles hopeless in the circumstances 
that obtained at the end of 1915 and that weighed with the mili- 
tary authorities in London and Paris in deciding upon a with- 
drawal from the Gallipoli Peninsula. 

Probably it will be a long time before the world has any accu- 
rate, adequate idea of the terrible disaster that overtook British 
prestige and allied troops in their year's attempt to force the 
Strait. Official figures announced by Premier Asquith speak 
of more than 100,000 troops killed, wounded, or missing, but 
these total figures took account of the sick, who reached an ex- 
traordinary high total. Lack of drinking water, the difficulty 
of keeping the troops supplied with food, the intense heat, and 
the fact that the men engaged were unused to the climatic con- 
ditions, combined to lay low thousands upon thousands of men 
not mentioned in the restricted casualty lists. An estimate of 



ABANDONMENT OP DARDANELLES 377 

another hundred thousand put out of action, temporarily or per- 
manently, by sickness is not unreasonable. 

Thus 200,000 men, six battleships and smaller war vessels, 
enormous stores and millions of dollars' worth of ammunitions 
were the price Britain paid to discover that the Dardanelles 
were impregnable even to British battleships and British endur- 
ance. And who shall estimate the loss of vital prestige, the 
waste of fine efforts at a time when it was so much needed else- 
where? Some future historian, with all the facts in his posses* 
sion, with the saving perspective that only time can give, will 
have a fascinating subject for discussion in this Dardanelles 
campaign, destined to go down into history as one of the most 
spectacular and daring in the annals of warfare. 

It was not until some weeks later that the outside world 
began to hear rumors of the dire predicament of the Armenians 
under Turkish rule. In their case, as in that of the French and 
British who were to be sent to the Dardanelles, Mr. Morgenthau 
finally intervened with effect. 

It had always been recognized that the elements of serious 
trouble existed in the districts of Asiatic Turkey populated by 
the Armenians. In the days of Sultan Abdul Hamid there had 
been frequent massacres by the Turks, following outbreaks of 
racial and religious strife. The Armenians had not been easy 
people to govern, and a constant and deep hatred existed between 
them and their rulers. 

With the coming of the Young Turks the lot of the unhappy 
Armenians had apparently bettered. Indeed, at the time of the 
outbreak of war, one of two special European inspectors, spe- 
cially appointed to watch over the administration of the six 
provinces of Asiatic Turkey in which the Armenians lived, was 
actually on his way to his post. 

Of course the war changed the entire situation and made the 
position of the Armenian population a precarious one. All hope 
of reform for the moment was banished and the old hatred, of 
which it was hoped the world had heard the last, was revived 
and intensified by the passions aroused by the entrance of Turkey 
into the struggle. 



378 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Nor were the Armenians content to await their fate. In sev- 
eral important instances they took matters into their own hands. 
It was, perhaps quite natural that many of them, especially those 
who lived near the Russian frontier, should sympathize with 
Russia. 

Early in April of 1915, a considerable force of Armenians in 
the city of Van collected and resisted the attempts of Turkish 
gendarmes to apply the terms of an order banishing certain of 
their number suspected of Russian or anti-Turk sympathies. In 
such force were they that they actually, with the help of Russian 
troops, captured the city. 

With the Van revolt Talaat Bey, the powerful Turkish Minis- 
ter of the Interior, determined upon a ruthless policy of repres- 
sion, and it was largely due to efforts to put that policy in force 
that there resulted the subsequent massacre of Armenians 
that shocked the world. It is difficult for anyone not in posses- 
sions of the actual facts to apportion an exact measure of blame 
for these bloody reprisals; and in the following account, it must 
be remembered, we are compelled at this juncture to rely almost 
entirely upon English and Russian official and military in- 
formation. 

The district covered by the massacre, in which it has been 
said 1,000,000 Armenians (probably not an exaggeration) were 
killed, were Eastern Anatolia, Cilicia, and the Anti-Taurus 
regions. It is said that at Marsovan, where there is an Ameri- 
can college, the Armenians early in June were ordered to meet 
outside the town. They were surrounded and 1,200 of their 
number killed by an infuriated mob. Thousands of the rest 
were hurled into northern Mesopotamia. 

At Bitlis and Mush, in the Lake Van district, it is reported that 
12,000 were killed and several Armenian villages entirely wiped 
out. 

As has been pointed out, the Armenians of some districts did 
not sit still and wait to be massacred. At Shaben Karahissar 
in northeastern Anatolia, within a hundred miles of Trebizond, 
the Armenian population held the town for a short time against 
Turkish troops. Finally they were overcome and 4,000 are said 



ABANDONMENT OP DARDANELLES 379 

to have been killed. At Kharput, a hundred and twenty-five 
miles southwest of Erzerum, the Armenians held the town for 
a whole week, but were finally overcome by troops and artillery. 
In many of the districts the able-bodied men of the Armenian 
population have been drafted into the labor battalions for mili- 
tary work at the front and at the bases. The men too old for 
this class of work, and yet suspected of agitating against 
Turkish rule, were exiled into districts where their powers for 
harm would be nil. 

It must not be assumed because of these accounts that the 
Turkish Government gave its unqualified approval of these 
massacres. Undoubtedly Talaat Bey adopted a deliberately ruth- 
less policy in dealing with all cases of actual or suspected revolt. 
But it is a far cry from a systematic, intelligent policy of fright- 
fulness to an indiscriminate massacre. 

Protests against these massacres were not confined to the 
outside world. Many influential personages in Turkey openly 
protested, and in some notable cases conscientious and brave of- 
ficials actually refused to obey the demands of the Constanti- 
nople authorities and hand over Armenian subjects or assist in 
their exile. 

Again in this case, as in that of the proposal of Enver Pasha 
to send a large number of allied citizens to the bombardment 
area of Gallipoli as a reprisal, it was Mr. Morgenthau, the 
American Ambassador at Constantinople, who followed up his 
protest by real action. He threw himself heart and soul into 
the work of softening the lot of the unfortunate Armenians. 
Of course he had to move warily in order not to offend the 
pride of the Turkish authorities, but working through the 
American Consular officials stationed throughout Turkey and 
through the American missionaries and teachers working among 
the Armenian and Turkish people he undoubtedly saved the lives 
of thousands of men, women, and children, while oilier thou- 
sands undoubtedly owe to his zeal their escape from exile or 
starvation. 

It was due largely to the publicity given to these deplorable 
happenings in the American press that the attention of the 



380 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

world was drawn to Asiatic Turkey and the conditions there, re 
suiting in action by the Turkish Government that effectively put 
a stop, for the moment at least, to the persecution of an un- 
happy people. 



CHAPTER XLV 



CAMPAIGN IN CAUCASUS — PALL OP 
ERZERUM 

THE fall of 1915 and the early winter of 1915 were periods of 
feverish activity behind the lines in the Caucasus. A severe 
winter held up any active operations of consequence on the part 
of either belligerents, but both knew that with the coming of 
better conditions their defensive and offensive organizations 
would be put to severe tests. 

On the part of the Russians the Caucasus front became at the 
time one of prime importance. Not excepting even the Balkan 
frontier, to Russia the Turkish line was of more importance 
than any other on which her army was aligned. In the first 
place, of all her frontier that running through the Caucasus 
promised the best return for the least expenditure of effort, time, 
money, and men. Against both Germany, in the north, and Ger- 
many-stiffened Austria in Galicia and the Carpathians, Russia 
had had severe reverses. The czar's staff, through grim experi- 
ence, realized the tremendous difficulties that confronted them 
on these two fronts. Turkey, ill prepared, lacking superlative 
military leaders, without organization, and barely recovered 
from the terrible effects of the Balkan wars, appeared to be an 
easy opponent, comparatively speaking, despite the frightful 
difficulties of large military operations in the roadless and railless 
mountain passes of the Trans-caucasus. 

Furthermore, the military pressure was becoming steadily 
easier on Russia. The great German drive was drawing to its 
close. With its front established in a straight line from just south 
of Riga on the north, to the Rumanian frontier on the south, the 



CAMPAIGN IN CAUCASUS 



381 




.•CftU'ar HUM, 
I J S M ]L 



THE TURKISH EMPIRE 



382 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Austro-German army decided to abandon the offensive for the 
time being and be content with holding that front; and devote 
its energies to the Serbian and French theatres of war. This 
promised to provide a very welcome breathing spell for Russia, 
permitting her to reorganize her military forces, remedy her 
deplorable shortage of munitions and incidentally to turn her 
attentions to the Turks. 

Finally, once in the war, the whole of Russian official opinion 
tended toward a settlement, once and for all, of her age-long 
dream of Constantinople. The consolidation of the Balkans on a 
Slav, pro-Russian basis, important as it appeared to be and fur- 
nishing the ostensible causes of the war, was but incidental to the 
Russian dominion over and control of Constantinople, the gate 
to the warm waters of the Mediterranean. 

From the viewpoint of the Entente Powers as a whole there 
were cogent reasons why a Russian offensive against the Turkish 
Caucasus front would be highly desirable. It would, for instance, 
relieve the pressure, not only on the Gallipoli front, but as well 
on the British forces in Mesopotamia. In the latter field, of 
course, Great Britain, with a miniature army of not more than 
40,000, was attempting to reach Bagdad, but was being hard 
pressed by the Ottoman forces. Furthermore, an eventual junc- 
. tion of the Russian columns from the Caucasus and the British 
troops from the Persian Gulf, and the establishment of an im- 
pregnable line, would provide against any future drive of a 
German-Austro-Turkish army toward India. 

These, then, were the considerations that influenced the prep- 
arations for a resumption of the Russian offensive against 
Erzerum and beyond, which had been more- or less quiescent since 
the smashing defeat of the Turkish army on the frontier in 
December, 1914. 

Undoubtedly this state of affairs had much to do with the 
transfer of the Grand Duke Nicholas to the Caucasus command 
when it became apparent that the German offensive in the north 
was nearing its finish. With masterly skill the Russian com- 
mander in chief had withdrawn his huge army in the face of a 
victorious and highly efficient enemy, not, to be sure, without 



CAMPAIGN IN CAUCASUS 383 

serious losses, but certainly without permitting his long front to 
be really broken or his forces utterly defeated. It was felt in 
Russia that he, of all men developed by the war, was the one to 
organize and initiate the proposed operations in the Caucasus. 

It was early in the month of September, 1915, September 5 to be 
precise, that the czar issued his famous order relieving the Grand 
Duke Nicholas of his command in the north and transferring 
him to the Caucasus. Taking with him a number of the higher 
officers who had been with him through the trying months on 
the Warsaw front, the Grand Duke Nicholas immediately 
journeyed south and took over the command of the Russian forces 
in that theatre of war. 

It was not long before there were to be seen many evidences 
of the arrival of a commander with energy and determination. 
1 Despite the lamentable shortage of munitions known to exist in 
Russia, guns, shells, rifles, provisions, and stores of all kinds were 
rapidly accumulated at the main Caucasus base and from there 
distributed to the points along the line of advance into Turkey. 
Many of these supplies of all kinds, provisions as well as muni- 
tions of war, came from the United States by way of the Siberian 
port of Vladivostok and even by way of Archangel, although that 
port was, in most cases, reserved for British shipments. From 
Vladivostok the American shipments were carried over the 6,000 
miles of the great Trans-Siberian railway to Petrograd and from 
there continued on their long and slow journey to the Caucasus 
front 

Among the endless stream of supplies were many special and 
ingenious conveyances for transporting guns, provisions, and 
soldiers over the otherwise impassable snows of this terrible 
region. It was necessary, to insure success, that by some means 
hitherto unknown to military transportation guns weighing tons 
should be moved about the trackless, roadless country almost like 
playthings. Only thus could a commander hope to secure that 
preponderance of heavy gunfire without which the modern offen- 
sive is doomed to defeat or stalemate. 

By the beginning of February, 1916, all was ready for the 
Russian advance upon Erzerum. To begin with, the Turks were 

Y— War St d 



584 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

known to be busily occupied in other fields. The British forces in 
Mesopotamia, although held up at Kut-el-Amara, and known to 
be in sore straits, were in daily expectation of strong reenforce- 
ments. The campaign against Bagdad, which had been originally 
undertaken by the Indian army, had proved too big a task for that 
relatively small organization, and the conduct of that campaign 
was taken over by the imperial military authorities in Great 
Britain, who have larger militant forces at their disposal than 
those possessed by the Indian Government. 

Aside from this fear of strong reenforcements, the Turkish 
commanders were straining every effort to capture the British 
force shut up in Kut-el-Amara, and thus secure a great victory 
that could not fail to have far-reaching military and political 
effects both in Turkey and throughout the whole warring world. 
For this reason every unit of troops that could be possibly spared 
from other fields was rushed to Bagdad and thrown into the 
field against General Townshend's sorely pressed command 
awaiting relief at Kut-el-Amara. 

Furthermore, although the pressure on the Gallipoli front had 
been relaxed through the practical abandonment by the allied 
troops of the attempt to force the Dardanelles, with the entrance 
of the Bulgarians into the war and the prosecution of the offen- 
sive against Serbia a new need had been found for Turkish 
troops. For the Bulgarian and Serbian development had brought 
the Allies in ever-increasing strength to Salonika The Allies at 
the Greek port were a constant potential menace to Turkey, as 
well as to Bulgaria, and through the Entente press were running 
constant rumors of a coming offensive directed at Constantinople 
''through the back door," as it was called. 

To be sure the allied forces at Saloniki, beyond a half-hearted 
effort, with but a fraction of their numbers to assist the escape 
of the Serbian army from the menace of the Austro-German- 
Bulgarian pincers that threatened it on three sides, had made no 
move to carry the war to the Bulgarian or Turkish enemy. Yet 
Turkey found it necessary to keep constantly at Constantinople, 
or in the country immediately to the north and in close touch with 
the Bulgarian forces, an army estimated at at least 200,000 men. 



CAMPAIGN IN CAUCASUS 385. 

In other words, the Turkish General Staff could withdraw few 
if any of the men concentrated about Constantinople at the begin- 
ning of the war to fill the enormous gaps made in her line on other 
fronts. Indeed, she had need to add to them to offset the extraor- 
dinary number of men who were constantly being poured into 
Saloniki by France and England until, in the early spring, their 
total was variously estimated at from 250,000 to 350,000 men of 
all services. 

It was in these circumstances, then, that the Grand Duke 
Nicholas ordered the advance upon Erzerum. They go far to 
explain the events of the subsequent few weeks in and about the 
great Turkish Caucasian fortress town. 

Russian forces had, during the three months immediately pre- 
ceding the big offensive, prepared the way by the capture of 
points from which the grand attack was to be launched. In com- 
mand of the czar's troops was General Judenich, although the 
Grand Duke Nicholas was officially responsible for operations on 
this front. General Judenich had devoted years of his life to a 
study of the special problems attending an offensive in the Kars- 
Erzerum regions and carried through his task with a skill and an 
expedition that have hardly their equal in the history of the war. 

The advance of the Russian forces upon Erzerum was made 
from three points. It is well for the reader to keep this con- 
stantly in mind. It was an application of the principle of the 
pincers, combined with a great frontal attack, used so often and so 
successfully by the Germans in their Russian drive. It adds 
tremendously to the difficulties of a commander battling to de- 
fend a big position. Nowadays, under the new conditions of 
warfare, fortresses or other positions are not defended to the end. 
They are held just as long as it is safe for the army within to 
hold out. But a commander must on no account endanger his 
force. Discretion is more than ever the better part of valor, and 
"he who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day," is the 
guiding principle of the general of modern times. 

Now this triple menace, striking not only on the front but on 
both sides and menacing the roads by which a defeated army must 
retreat, seriously weakens the defense which an army within a 



386 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

fortress can make. It was just such an operation or series of 
operations that carried the tremendously strong fortress of 
Antwerp in record time, that accounted for the surprising fall 
of Namur in two days, and that explains the rapidity with which 
a score of almost impregnable Russian fortresses in Poland fell 
before the rush of the German avalanche. 

The triple Russian thrust at Erzerum was made from Olty, 
which had been captured as far back as August 3, 1915, along the 
Kars-Erzerum road by way of Sarikamish, the scene of the great 
Turkish defeat of the early days of the war, and from Melazghert 
and Khynysskala. 

Erzerum was undoubtedly one of the strongest positions in the 
Turkish Empire, although the experience of the war had tended 
to detract from previous confidence in the strength of old-style 
concrete forts when attacked by concentrated big-gun bombard- 
ment. Opinions differ on the question of whether or not the 
Erzerum armament had been maintained up to a modern stand- 
ard. But as regards the number of its guns, and the size and 
number of its individual forts, there are no two opinions. 

Its eighteen separate positions encircling the city in two rings, 
defended by concrete forts, would, under ordinary conditions, 
have made it virtually impregnable. One count mentions as 
many as 467 big guns in the outer forts, 374 in the inner forts, 
and 200 more or less mobile fieldpieces scattered about the coun- 
try intervening. Although this was an early Russian report, 
issued in the delirium of national joy that followed the capture 
of the fortress, and should be considerably discounted, neverthe- 
less, Erzerum boasted a plentiful supply of big guns, few if any 
of which were taken away by the fleeing Turkish army, although 
the majority of them were probably rendered useless at the last 
moment. According to Entente information, among these guns 
were 300 of the very latest pattern Krupp pieces, but on the other 
hand, according to German information, the fortress boasted no 
guns less than twenty years old. Arguing from the known 
shortage of big guns in Turkey and the fact that of late years 
other fronts have been of prime importance and have undoubtedly 
received what fresh ordnance the army was able to purchase and 



CAMPAIGN IN CAUCASUS 387 

Secure, it does not seem likely that much modern equipment was 
found in the Caucasus fortress by the Russian victors. 

Quickly the three Russian forces converged upon Erzerum. 
Finally, driving outlying Turkish forces before them, in the 
second week of February, 1916, they were in touch with the outer 
defenses of the great fortress. It was rumored at this time that 
both Von der Goltz and Liman von Sanders, the two high Ger- 
man commanders, lent by the kaiser to Turkey, were in Erzerum 
superintending the defense and, furthermore, that huge Turkish 
reenforcements were covering the 200 miles from the nearest 
railway head by forced marches in an effort to arrive at the 
fortress and prevent its encircling and isolation by the Russians. 
Both of these reports, however, ultimately were proved to be 
figments of the active imaginations of local correspondents. 

The Turkish plan of campaign for the defense of Erzerum, 
according to official Russian sources, was as follows : The Third 
Army Corps, which had been ordered up to replace the losses in 
the Caucasus front of the previous nine months, was moved out of 
Erzerum and took up a position between that town and the Rus- 
sian front. The Ninth and Tenth Corps moved out toward Olty 
to form an offensive ring, while the Eleventh Corps was to hold 
the Russian offensive on the Kars-Erzerum road. In case the 
Russians in the last named region were too strong for the 
Eleventh Corps to hold, it was to fall back slowly on the fortress 
of Erzerum, drawing the army of the Grand Duke Nicholas with 
it. When this movement had progressed sufficiently, the Ninth 
and Tenth Corps were to attack energetically on the flank. 

Unfortunately for the success of this plan, although the 
Eleventh Corps performed its function and drew the Russian 
army with it in its retreat toward Erzerum, the Ninth and Tenth 
Corps suffered a reverse and were compelled to fall back also. 
Similarly, the Third Corps was compelled to yield before superior 
numbers and barely escaped envelopment 

Naturally, there is considerable difference of opinion as to the 
question of numbers involved in these operations. It seems to be 
fairly well established, however, that the Russians used, roughly, 
eight army corps, or slightly more than 300,000 men. Eight 



388 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

corps are known to have been at the disposal of the grand duke, 
but a small portion of his force was at the same time engaged in 
an expedition into northern Persia, so that the round figures 
given would seem to be conservative. 

Although but four Turkish corps are mentioned, it is known 
that the Ottoman command had at its disposal considerable num- 
bers of Kurds, Persians, Arabs, and other irregular troops, as 
well as several units not specifically mentioned in the official 
accounts. Thus the estimate of 180,000 to 200,000 men would 
not seem to be out of the way. 

While the thrusts from the northeast and southeast were fight- 
ing their way toward the flanks of Erzerum, the Russian troops 
advancing along the Kars-Erzerum road, driving the Eleventh 
Corps before them, made a fierce frontal assault upon the outer 
forts of the town. 

In this connection it would be well to examine more minutely 
the conditions that confronted the Russian commander. Erzerum 
is situated on a plateau some 6,000 feet above sea level, and the 
key forts had been placed on high ground commanding the sur- 
rounding country. However well the Russian transport depart- 
ment had done its work, the Russian supply of heavy artillery 
could not have been overwhelming in the sense that heavy guns 
were overwhelming on other fronts. There could, therefore, have 
been no condition of affairs where the infantry was called upon 
simply to occupy positions previously shattered by gunfire. In- 
deed, the best opinions agree that little or no real damage was 
done by the artillery to the Erzerum forts and that the infantry 
had to advance against practically intact defenses. Yet, after 
five days of fierce assault, the hardy Siberian troops of General 
Judenich's army carried nine of the outlying forts and forced the 
evacuation of the entire fortress. 

There can be but one explanation of this astonishing result. It 
is hardly possible for any troops to take a position like Erzerum 
by direct assault. The fortress successfully resisted all Russian 
attempts to capture it in the Russo-Turkish War, although then 
far less strong than in 1916. Some foreign military critics have 
tried to explain the puzzling facts by claiming that the well- 



CAMPAIGN IN CAUCASUS 389 

known bravery and tenacity of the Turk on defense, shown all 
through his history and never more evident than in the Gallipoli 
campaign, was, for some unknown reason, totally lacking at 
Erzerum. Such claims, however, do not hold water. 

Erzerum was evacuated simply because of a menace to the 
Turkish lines of communication and the danger of isolation. 
However well provisioned the fortress might have been — and its 
stores were vast, for it was the chief supply and provisioning 
center for the whole Turkish miliary organization in Asia^ 
Minor — it could not hope to withstand an indefinite siege. The 
Turkish high command would not view with equanimity the 
bottling up of close upon 200,000 of its first-line troops. With 
the example of Przemysl, and Metz in 1870 in its mind, it decided 
upon a, perhaps, temporary abandonment of the position immedi- 
ately it became apparent that the Russian advance from the 
northeast and southeast could not be successfully opposed by the 
troops available. 

Furthermore, the defense of the fortress was weakened by the 
condition of the country over which the Turkish army had to 
retreat in any retirement from Erzerum. It is no simple matter 
to transport a defeated army, with its supplies, enormous guns, 
ammunition, and other impedimenta, even with an efficient rail- 
way organization at its back. It is comparatively easy, then, to 
imagine some of the difficulties that confronted the Turkish com- 
mand. From Erzerum to the nearest railhead is something like 
200 miles. A blinding snowstorm was raging and the tem- 
perature was hovering around 25 degrees below zero. Few roads, 
and those almost impassable at that season of the year, must 
supply all the needs of scores of thousands of men and thousands 
of animals, carts, trucks, guns, carriages, etc. 

The retreat of the Turkish forces from Erzerum, resembling a 
rout in its inevitable haste and confusion, had to be made in the 
face of a victorious enemy and, menaced by superior forces on 
both flanks, under terrific weather conditions and through road- 
less and highly broken country. After a preliminary artillery 
bombardment of the Turkish forts on the southeast front of the 
city, the Russian infantry began to assault Fort Kara Gubek. 



390 



THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 




§ 

8 

z 

i 

I 

0Q 

D 
OS 



CAMPAIGN IN CAUCASUS 391 

Finally this was carried and then fell in quick succession Forts 
Tafta and Chobandede, six miles south on the commanding and 
important Deyer Boyum Heights. By February 15, 1916, the 
Russians were masters of the city and fortress. 

At first it was supposed in the allied countries that the Turkish 
army had been trapped in the fortress and more or less author- 
itative accounts spoke of the surrender of 180,000 Turkish 
troops. These accounts were circumstantial enough. Several 
days before the news of the fall of Erzerum came through there 
appeared stories of the envelopment of the city. It soon became 
known, however, that less than 17,000 troops had been taken with 
the abandoned forts — merely a rear guard left behind to delay 
the onward sweep of the Russians and give the retreating Turk- 
ish army a chance to put a few miles between it and its pursuers. 

If the country to the west of Erzerum was rugged and difficult 
for the retiring Turk, it also followed that it was not only difficult 
for the pursuing Russians, but also offered many opportunities 
for a stern resistance. Thus it was not astonishing to learn that 
the Russians had little chance of following up their success at 
Erzerum. The Turkish army, largely intact, made good its 
escape across Armenia, followed by the troops of the Grand Duke 
Nicholas, much to the chagrin of allied public opinion, which had 
hoped for a smashing victory such as the fall of Przemysl, or Metz 
in 1870, or Plevna in 1877. 

The grand duke decided to advance with the right of his army 
on Trebizond, the Turkish supply base on the Black Sea. Turkey 
was known to be hurrying reenf orcements to this town in the hope 
of preventing its capture by the Russians. It became a race 
across difficult country and, although Petrograd and London re- 
ports confidently predicted the success of the Russians, in the 
end the Turks were able to bring up strong enough forces to 
prevent its capture, for the time being at least. 

It is difficult to measure with any accuracy the political results 
of the success of the Russians at Erzerum, for the political re- 
sults far outweighed the military. In a general way it can be 
said that it had little or no effect upon the Balkans, and upon 
Mohammedan opinion throughout the East, merely serving to 



392 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

offset in a small measure the effects of the allied withdrawal 
from the Dardanelles. On the other hand, it had a tremendously 
important effect upon the situation in Persia. In that kingdom, 
just prior to the Russian offensive, there were many evidences 
that affairs were ripe for a rising of the local tribes against the 
Russians in occupation of the northern zone of influence. In- 
deed, at the very time the grand duke gave his orders for the 
advance upon Erzerum he was compelled to detach troops for 
operations in Persia. This force advanced against a body num- 
bering about 2,000, made up of Turks, Persians, and some Ger- 
mans, and finally, after some small fighting, occupied the Persian 
towns of Hamadan, Kurn, and Kermanshah. 

Even with these successes there was great difficulty in control- 
ling the Persians, who had gained courage through the defeat of 
the British in Mesopotamia and in Gallipoli. However, the cap- 
ture of Erzerum and the rout of the Turks had a quieting effect, 
for the time being at least. 



PART IX— ITALY IN THE WAR 



CHAPTER XLVI 

REVIEW OF PRECEDING OPERATIONS- 
ITALIAN MOVEMENTS 

A RETROSPECT of the Austro-Italian struggle, taken from 
the vantage point afforded by nine months of fighting, re- 
vealed what was intended to be a campaign of invasion as de- 
veloping all the characteristics of trench warfare. Following 
shortly on the declaration of war by Italy, General Cadorna de- 
ployed the whole of the Italian Third Army on the right bank of 
the Isonzo between Tolmino and Monfalcone, and carried out a 
vigorous offensive in order to gain a secure footing on the left 
bank — an antecedent condition to further operations eastward. 
Italian troops crossed the river at five different points, Caporetto, 
Plava, Castelnuovo, Gradisca, and Monfalcone. Considering the 
immense strength of the Austrian defenses this was considered 
a good start Along the thirty-mile front from Tolmino to the sea 
there is a continuous wall of defensive works, flanked on the 
north by the fortified position of Tolmino, and on the south by the 
formidable Carso Plateau, while Gorizia constitutes the central 
Austrian paint d'appui, having been converted into a modern 
fortress with a girdle of exterior forts supplemented by advanced 
batteries provided by armored cars on which the latest types of 
howitzers are mounted. All that military science could do to 
render this iron barrier impregnable had been done, and the 
Italians from the first had a hard struggle in their attacks on it. 
While regular siege operations were being carried on against 
Tolmino and Gorizia, the Italians were putting forth great efforts 

393 



394 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

to secure possession of the Carso Plateau, which dominates the 
rail and carriage road between Monf alcone and Trieste, as well 
as the Isonzo Valley up to Gorizia. The plateau had to be com- 
pletely occupied before any advance could be made along the 
coast road into Istria and before Gorizia could be attacked from 
the south. Two months after the declaration of war the Italians, 
who by that time were in possession of the bridgehead at Sagrada, 
stormed with great gallantry several lines of trenches on the 
summit of the western face of the plateau, and captured two 
thousand prisoners with a large quantity of war material. They 
followed up this success by an infantry attack, supported by a 
large number of heavy and field guns. Farther north another 
army operated against Tarvis along two routes, one of which goes 
over the Pontafel Pass and is traversed by the railroad running 
between Vienna and Venice, while the other is a coach road lead- 
ing from Plezzo over the Predil Pass to the Save Valley. The 
progress of the Italian columns was checked at Malborgeth, where 
the Austrians had constructed a chain of permanent forts, while 
along the coach road an equally strong group of forts covering 
the Predil Pass blocked the way. A further offensive was di- 
rected across the Carnic Alps by way of the Ereuzberg Pass down 
the Seoten Valley to Innichen and Toblach on the Pusterthal rail- 
way. Formidable works had been constructed at Seoten and 
Lambeo, covering the approaches to the railroad, and on these the 
Italians opened a furious bombardment for the purpose of clear- 
ing a way into the Drave Valley. The object aimed at here was 
very clear to the Austrians, for when the railroad was reached 
communication along the Pusterthal between the Adige and 
Isonzo would be cut, and the Austrian position on the Trentino 
turned. This was the position in August, 1915, when the Italians 
were exerting pressure on the Austrians for the further purpose 
of diverting troops from the Russian frontier, where was being 
carried on the greatest offensive known to history. 

During August, 1915, a continuous night and day battle was 
waged on the Isonzo frontier for the possession of the Carso 
Plateau. Gorizia, with its circle of outlying forts, proved itself 
practically unavailable from either the north or west, for two 



ITALIAN MOVEMENTS 395 

fortified heights, Monte Sabatino, on the right bank, and Monte 
Gabrielle on the left bank, of the Isonzo River, stood sentry over 
the town on the north, while the plateau of Podgora, which is a 
perfect labyrinth of deep, intercommunicating trenches, barred 
the approach to the town from the west. A determined and care- 
fully prepared attack was made by a large Italian force on 
Podgora, but though ten regiments were sent against the position 
they failed to get through. In another movement the troops of 
General Cadorna were successful in obtaining a firm footing on 
the western face of the Carso Plateau, occupying Sdraissima, Po- 
lazzo, Vermegbano, and Monte Sei Bussi, which overlooks Mon- 
f alcone. Finding, however, that the Austrians had been strongly 
reenforced, General Cadorna abandoned his storming tactics, 
and began advancing along the plateau by the slower methods of 
siege operations. From the beginning, both Italians and Austri- 
ans recognized the Carso Plateau as the key to Gorizia, and 
around it have been waged some of the bitterest conflicts of the 
war. 

During September, 1915, General Cadorna was able to report 
progress all along the front occupied, and especially on the Tren- 
tino frontier, where Italian troops moved along the three main 
routes which converge on the Adige Valley from the Italian 
plain. The route taken was through the Val Giudicaria on the 
western face of the Trentino salient, up the Adige on the south 
side, and along the Val Sugano on the eastern front The Val 
Giudicaria is the highway into the Tyrol from Brescia, and on 
either side of it are fortified positions nearly the whole way to 
Trent. During the first week of the war the Italians, taking the 
Austrians by surprise, seized Condino by a coup de main, and 
compelled the Austrian garrison to fall back on the -second line 
of defense higher up the valley. Then the Italian troops began to 
secure the position gained by constructing defensive works cov- 
ering the road approaches to Brescia, and linking these up with 
other defensive positions extending along the entire front from 
the Stelvio pass to Lake Garda. Simultaneously with the occu- 
pation of Condino, an Italian force, based on Verona, moved up 
both banks of the Adige, crossed the Austrian frontier near 



396 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

Borghetto, and seized Ala with hardly any opposition. Continuing 
their offensive the Italians then seized Monte Altissimo and its 
northern spurs, which command the railroad between Riva and 
Rovereto, and at the same time occupied the important position 
of Gori Zugra, which is four miles north of Ala, and flanks the 
Rovereto road. From there on advance was subsequently made 
to Pozzachio, an unfinished fort eight miles from Rovereto, which 
was abandoned by the Austrians as soon as the Italian offensive 
began to develop. Another force then moved up the Val Astico 
from Asiefo, and succeeded in storming the Austrian positions on 
Monte Maronia, whence the Italians threatened the main de- 
fenses of Rovereto on the Lavaone-Folgaria Plateau. Rovereto 
is at the junction of three mountain roads leading into Italy in 
this locality, and has a strategical importance second only to that 
of Trent. Its occupation was recognized from the start as a 
necessary preliminary to advanced operations up the Adige. The 
third Italian column, directed against Trent, moved up the Brenta 
along the Val Sugana, and in September, 1915, its advanced 
guards, operating right and left of the valley, reached Monte 
Salubion on the north and Monte Armenderia on the south of 
Borgo. These heights command the town of Borgo, but as the 
inhabitants are all Italians, the place was not occupied lest this 
should lead to its bombardment by the Austrian artillery. The 
Austrian commander, however, did not spare the town, which 
had been repeatedly bombarded by the guns north of Ronegno. 
Borgo is only eighteen miles from Trent and its investment by 
Italian troops brought them almost within striking distance of 
the great Tyrol fortress. 

During November and December, 1915, a series of most des- 
perate attempts were made by the troops under General Cadorna 
to storm the bridgehead of Gorizia and establish a firm footing on 
the Doberdo Plateau. This plateau, which acts as the citadel for 
the more extended position of the Carso, rises from 850 to 650 
feet above the level of the valley, and dominates all the approaches 
to Gorizia. Monte San Michele, which is a ridge on the north side 
of the plateau, and rises in one place to 900 feet above sea level, 
is the key to the whole position; and round it there was a con- 



ITALIAN MOVEMENTS 397 

tinuous sanguinary hand-to-hand fight, the Italians sometimes 
gaining the advantage, and at other times the Austrians. Against 
this position General Cadorna concentrated 1,500 guns, some of 
them 14- and 15-inch howitzers, and naval guns. A tremendous 
artillery duel, interspersed with infantry attacks, thus set in, and 
for a long time the fate of Gorizia trembled in the balance. But 
the advantage of position and the systematic preparation of long 
years told heavily on the side of the Austrians, who had de- 
fended the town with a determination and courage equal to that 
of their adversaries. General Boroevich had all along had gen- 
eral charge of the Isonzo defenses, while the Archduke Joseph, 
who held the Dukla Pass for so many weeks against the Russian 
attacks, succeeded to the command of the corps holding the 
Doberdo Plateau. Meanwhile the Italian troops were achieving 
successes elsewhere. They occupied during the month of Novem- 
ber, 1915, Bezzecea in the Ledro Valley, and took possession of 
Col di Lava (8,085 feet) in the Dolomite district. 

This was roughly the position from the military point of view 
on the various Austro-Italian fronts toward the close of the year, 
when the obstacles facing the Italian forces began to be appreci- 
ated by the outside world. It was by that time generally rec- 
ognized that, though the Italians outnumbered the Austro-Hun- 
garian troops, and but few reserves were available to reenf orce 
General Boroevich, the Austrian defenses were enormously 
strong, and could only be captured after a heavy sacrifice of life 
and an unlimited expenditure of artillery ammunition. No mere 
study of the map can convey any true idea of the difficulties to be 
overcome before the Austrian positions in the Dolomites and 
Carnic Alps could be captured. For such a survey could give no 
indication of the huge guns mounted on the very summit of snow- 
clad peaks, or the lines of armored trenches stretching uninter- 
ruptedly from the Stelvio to the Isonzo. In the mountain warfare 
that had to be undertaken amidst the terrific heights, progress 
by either side could all but be reckoned by yards. The con- 
voys had to plod up and down precipitous mountain sides. In- 
stead of the fighting taking place in valleys and passes, as many 
thought, the positions and even the trenches were revealed as 



398 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

frequently on the very summits of almost inaccessible peaks and 
crags, often above the snow line. At high altitudes the few ob- 
servers admitted on either side saw artillery of a caliber usually 
associated with defensive works at sea level. The intrepidity re- 
quired in operations over such a terrain is illustrated by the 
Italian capture of Monte Vero, when a battalion of Alpini as- 
cended barefooted the precipitous face of the mountain in the 
middle of the night and stormed the Austrian position on the 
summit. In such enterprises youth and enthusiasm were found 
the best assets. The Alpine troops of Italy are recruited from 
mountain populations, whose hearts and lungs, accustomed to 
high altitudes, can well bear the strain of mountain fighting. 

On the lower Isonzo front the character of the operations has 
somewhat recalled the aspect of the fighting area and the troop 
movements in France. Here low foothills and undulating plains 
predominate. There was on the Isonzo front, however, an ab- 
sence of the horrors of war in the shape of devastated towns, vil- 
lages, and countryside, with which the world has become familiar 
in illustrations from Belgium and northern France. 

Over no field of operations was the veil of official secrecy more 
securely held than over the events proceeding on the Austro- 
Italian front. Newspaper men were rigorously excluded from 
the area over which martial law prevailed and the official com- 
muniques seldom erred on the side of perspicuity. This pro- 
cedure gave rise to a widespread impression that the Italian 
forces had been largely marking time. The brilliant dash into 
the Isonzo Valley and the capture of Austrian positions in the 
Trentino which were chronicled during the months of June and 
July, 1915, marked an advance which was not equaled by any 
achievements in the months that followed. Nevertheless, a de- 
tailed study of the changes in position during that time show that 
the Italians were drilling their path forward with unflagging 
determination. 



ITALY'S RELATIONS TO WARRING NATIONS 399 
CHAPTER XLVII 

ITALY'S RELATIONS TO THE OTHER 
WARRING NATIONS 

MEANWHILE, events of a most startling character were tak- 
ing place close to the Italian frontier, every one of them big 
with consequence to Italy's vital interests. The conquest of Serbia 
by the forces of Germany and Austria-Hungary under General 
von Mackensen was begun and completed in two months. On 
October 14, 1915, Bulgaria declared war against the Allies and 
immediately attacked Serbia from the south, cooperating with 
the Austro-German forces with whom direct communication was 
established toward the end of November, 1915. A belated 
French-British expedition landed at Saloniki for the purpose of 
lending aid to harassed Serbia, but the forces, which were united 
under the command of the French General, Sarrail, were capable 
of achieving little. After coming into contact with the Bulgarians 
they began on November 27, 1915, to retire to their base at 
Saloniki, with Irish troops covering their retreat. The conquest 
of Montenegro followed that of Serbia. The much-coveted stra- 
tegic position of Mount Lovcen, commanding the Bocca di Cat- 
taro, was captured by the Austrians on January 10, 1916, while 
the capital, Cettinje, was likewise occupied three days later. 
Farther east, the ill-starred Dardanelles venture was coming to a 
disastrous end. Evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula by the 
forces of Britain and France began in December, 1915, the last 
soldiers of these two powers leaving Sedd-el-Bahr on January 
7, 1916. 

It was expected that Italy would take a prominent part in the 
series of events which had taken place on these various fields. 
More than once the message was sent round the world that a 
well-equipped Italian expedition had left for the Dardanelles. It 
was considered certain that Italy would lend her assistance to 
the forces landed at Saloniki, and thus aid in preventing the over- 
running of Montenegro, which could not but constitute a direct 

Z— War St. 4 



400 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

menace to herself . Apart from the landing of a number of troops 
at Avlona in Albania, Italy kept aloof. This rigid abstinence, 
eoupled with the appearance of deadlock on Italy's two main 
frontiers, set in motion an undercurrent of criticism among the 
friends of the Allies. A further source of uncertainty was found 
in the relations still maintained between Italy and Germany. 
"Why did not Italy declare war against Germany as well as 
against Austria? 9 ' was a query that was continually put. In the 
face of this attitude of doubt the Italian Government still con- 
tinued what it considered its sound and well-matured policy of 
concentrating its forces for the protection of its own fron- 
tiers against Austria, and looking on every other enemy as 
secondary. 

As regards the Balkans, it has to be recalled that it was Italy 
who first suggested that Serbia receive the assistance of the Allies 
against the superior Austrian forces. This suggestion was at 
that early time taken into but slight consideration by France and 
Great Britain. A battery or two was lent to Serbia by Great 
Britain, but little more was done until the spectacle of invasion 
became imminent. While Italy recognized that her interests were 
of a paramount character in the Balkans, she was convinced that 
the war would be decided in the main theatre, and not on any of 
the side theatres that Germany might decide to choose. Nor was 
Italy under any misapprehension as to what would be her fate 
were the Austrians to succeed in breaking through the lines of 
defense on her northern frontier. These considerations decided 
her against participating in any over-sea adventure unless she 
was absolutely compelled to do so. 

Italy's interest in the problem as to who was to dominate 
Constantinople and the Dardanelles was less than that of either 
England or Russia. The apologists of her policy of abstention 
maintained, indeed, that jealousy of Russia was Great Britain's 
main motive in deciding on the expedition to Gallipoli. Italy had 
a more important work to do than to lend her aid in playing off 
one ally against another. Any aid given to that expedition had, 
necessarily, to be of a comprehensive character if success was to 
be achieved. This would have meant a serious depletion of the 



ITALY'S RELATIONS TO WARRING NATIONS 401 

Italian forces and might have opened up a way that would have 
enabled the enemy to strike at the very heart of Italy. 

When the possibility of Bulgaria taking the side of the Central 
Powers loomed into the domain of actuality, Italy with her nearer 
intuition in Balkan affairs called attention to the impending 
denouement. In this she was seconded by Serbia, who asked the 
aid of the Allies in striking a blow which would have prevented 
what proved from the allied point of view to be a calamity. 
Italy's suggestion was that Sofia be at once occupied before Bul- 
garian mobilization could be got under way. The policy of hop- 
ing against hope took the place of energetic action. Then action 
on the part of the Allies followed when the blow had fallen. Yet 
Italy knew that Serbia was doomed the moment Bulgaria de- 
clared war. 

Bitter as the admission might be to Italy, it was convinced that 
Montenegro was in the like case with Serbia. Montenegro had 
as little hope of coping with the combined forces of Germany, 
Austria, and Bulgaria as Serbia. A mere consideration of the 
alternative plans of rendering aid to her small neighbors revealed 
the most promising of them as entailing a useless sacrifice. It 
would have meant the taking over-sea of some hundreds of thou- 
sands of men and large guns during the worst period of the year. 
The passage to the Montenegrin port of Antivari would have re- 
quired the protection of the entire Italian navy, thus leaving the 
coasts of Italy exposed to the attacks of the enemy. And what 
would have been the main purpose of the expedition? To save 
the celebrated Mount Lovcen, which indeed dominates the Bocca 
di Cattaro, but does not dominate the Bocca di Teodo, where at 
the time of the combined attacks of Montenegrins and French 
from Mount Lovcen months before, and of the French and Eng- 
lish from the sea, the Austrian navy was safely sheltered. What 
Italy could wisely do she did so. She succored the retreating 
Serbian and Montenegrin soldiers, gave them food, clothing, and 
shelter, and brought them in safety to the different places to 
which they had been assigned. 

Even before hostilities commenced between Italy and Austria 
the Italian Government accomplished a tour de force. Against 



402 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

the tacit opposition of Austria she transported a considerable 
body of troops to the port of Avlona, which, with Brindisi, com- 
mands the entrance to the Adriatic. A glance at the map will 
immediately reveal the vital importance of this strategic position 
as a base for expeditionary forces in Albania and the Balkans, 
while its naval possibilities make it inferior to no port on the 
Adriatic. The fly in the ointment was in the Austrian hold on 
the Bocca di Cattaro. Thence Austrian submarines could menace 
Italian shipping, even though no Austrian surface craft dare 
approach the Strait of Otranto. To this has to be added the 
further peril arising from the strong current that is supposed to 
descend from the head of the Adriatic. While transporting 
troops from Brindisi to Avlona, more than one Italian vessel fell 
victim to floating mines borne down by this current. 

Such in general outline was Italy's position at the end of the 
year 1915, and such the tenor of those who sought to vindicate 
her policy in the Balkans and elsewhere. It was maintained by 
Italian publicists that the Italian fleet had fought with the fleets 
of France and England on several occasions against the Turks. 
It was pointed out that that fleet was on continual patrol duty in 
the Mediterranean with those of the Allies. Italian troops had 
also been landed with French troops on the island of Corfu, and, 
according to report, had cooperated to some extent with British 
troops in Egypt and North Africa. Nevertheless, political and 
military reasons all combined to make the Austro-Italian frontier 
the one battle ground where Italy could hope for an enduring 
victory and fight for it with all her strength. 

In regard to the absence of a declaration of war between Ger- 
many and Italy, the attitude of the Government of King Victor 
Emmanuel was thus explained: First of all, the treaty of the 
Triple Alliance did not consist of a single document, but of three 
separate agreements: one between Germany and Austria, an- 
other between Germany and Italy, and another between Austria 
and Italy. When Austria declared war on Serbia, Italy registered 
her protest against the policy of Austria in which she claimed to 
recognize a violation of that country's treaty with herself. The 
pourparlers thus graduallv turned for subject matter to the time- 



ITALY'S RELATIONS TO WARRING NATIONS 403 

honored grievances which Italy cherished against her present ally, 
but old oppressor. In these negotiations Germany rendered con- 
tinued aid to Italy, who sought by peaceful means to secure the 
return of the provinces to which she had an immemorial claim. 
These negotiations failed, and Italy, denouncing her treaty with 
Austria-Hungary, declared war against her. But except in so 
far as she was the ally of Austria-Hungary, Italy had no griev- 
ance against Germany. She broke off diplomatic relations with 
both empires, and she expected that Germany would declare war 
against her. Germany did not do so, and there the matter 
remained. 

Italy had undoubted historic grounds for this procedure, which 
was likewise in full agreement with the national feeling. For 
well over a century feeling in Italy against Austria has been deep 
and widespread. Toward Germany, on the other hand, the feel- 
ing is largely neutral, tinged with a certain awe of German 
efficiency. German investments in Italy are also said to total 
something like $3,000,000,000, and the economic domination 
which that vast sum denotes was bound to be felt through every 
channel of the national life. But neither the respect felt for Ger- 
man ability nor the secret influence of German finance has 
hampered Italy in the conduct of the war. Besides breaking off 
diplomatic relations with the kaiser, she treated the Germans 
within her gates exactly as she treated the citizens and subjects 
of other enemy countries. She formed a commercial alliance with 
France, Great Britain, and Russia, an alliance the chief aim of 
which was the removal of German economic domination in Italy. 
She, moreover, requisitioned German merchant ships that had 
taken shelter in Italian ports; and finally she broke off com- 
mercial relations with Germany, and took measures to prevent 
Germany from obtaining through Switzerland any goods neces- 
sary for the welfare of the population or the prosecution of the 
war. Germany allowed the serious measures taken by Italy to 
pass unchallenged, and so Italy was content to let the relations 
between the two countries continue on that basis. 

But beneath all these surface movements ran a deeper current 
of influence that was partly hidden from all except those who 



404 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

were active participants in affairs of southeastern Europe. 
There was, for example, the rivalry between Italy and Greece, 
a factor that may yet be discovered to have had a deciding in- 
fluence in the war. For it was the entrance of Italy into the 
war, with the assumed pledge of territorial profits in the Balkans 
and in Asia Minor, that forced Greece into maintaining her neu- 
trality at a time when the alignment of forces in the Balkans 
was still in complete doubt. A well-informed and well-conducted 
diplomacy, steering skillfully amid the eddies of Balkan affairs, 
might have brought the combined strength of Italy, Bulgaria, and 
Greece to the side of the Allies. But Greek jealousy of Italy was 
allowed to smolder and even to be fanned into flame by the 
awakened pretensions of the Italian press, whose ambitions in 
the East became inflated at the prospect of a victorious war, out 
of which Italy was mirrored as issuing as an imperial state 
holding a hegemony over the lesser lands on her extended bor- 
der. While hesitation and doubt held sway in the councils of 
the Allies, Bulgaria struck, and at one stroke brought disaster 
on Serbia and Montenegro, and stiffened Greece into an attitude 
ef unshakable neutrality. 



CHAPTER XLVIII 

PROBLEMS OF STRATEGY 

MEANWHILE, with more than half a year's fighting behind 
them, the Italian commanders had come to certain well- 
defined military conclusions. The plans of General Cadorna had 
involved three separate campaigns — one in the Trentino, the 
other in the Carso, and a subsidiary campaign in the Carnic 
Alps to the north, along the main watershed of the mountains. 
A general offensive in the Trentino had been tested and found 
well-nigh impossible. Trentino is indeed a military paradox — a 
sharp salient jutting into Italy, which is strong by reason of its 
being a salient. This is because it is inclosed on eight sides by 



PROBLEMS OP STRATEGY 405 

great walls, the batteries of the main Alpine chain. A salient 
is weak as a strategical situation in proportion to the possibility 
of crushing in its sides and threatening the lines of retreat of 
the forces occupying the point. Where the sides cannot be suc- 
cessfully attacked, it becomes a position of strength and remains 
a constant threat. This was the situation in the Trentino. The 
main Alpine chain is not impassable. It is indeed conceivable, 
under exceedingly favorable circumstances, that one or more of 
the passes on the east or west side might be taken and an advance 
down the valleys to the Adige turn the positions of the defenders. 
But ordinary foresight on the part of the defense would make this 
impossible. The valley of the Adige is the only avenue through the 
Trentino, and this avenue, which is at best only a narrow road, 
was heavily guarded by the strong fortress of Trent. Moreover, 
there could be but little result accruing to Italy if the Trentino 
were forced. The Adige leads only to the main chain of the Alps, 
and farther on, across the mountains by the easiest of Alpine 
highways, is the Brenner Pass. Modern defensive power is so 
great that its development to the point where this highway 
would be impregnable, except against overwhelmingly superior 
numbers, would be a matter of great simplicity. Along the 
northern frontier, in the Carnic Alps, the situation is similar. 
There is only one pass across these mountains, and this the 
Austrians could block with the same facility and certainty with 
which they could block the Brenner Pass. 

On the other hand the presumption that the Isonzo sector 
had a degree of vulnerability was found correct, and along the 
Isonzo line the real Italian offensive from the beginning con- 
tinued to be directed. The Isonzo is roughly about three miles 
into Austria, beyond the political boundary. But it is the true 
military boundary between Italy and Austria, and it was always 
regarded by the Austrians as their first line of defense. For 
almost its entire length, as far south as Salcaro, about four miles 
north of Gorizia, the Isonzo River runs through a deep gorge 
and is easily defended. From Salcaro to the sea it issues from 
the gorge into a more level country — the plateaus of Gorizia and 
of Carso — although even the southern part of the line is domi- 



406 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

nated by a series of elevations in supporting distance of each 
other. Until the line of the Isonzo was forced, Trieste and the 
entire Istrian Peninsula might be regarded as safe. 

Although the line of the Isonzo was, as has been shown, the 
only feasible line on which Italy could advance, no serious offen- 
sive could be attempted until the outlets from the Trentino were 
thoroughly and effectively stopped up. For Italy to have ad- 
vanced in the Carso, with her rear open to attack by the Aus- 
trians coming through the Tyrolean passes, would have been 
foolhardy. Italy's first step, therefore, was to start a simultane- 
ous forward movement through every pass from Stelvio on the 
west to the pass near Pontebba on the north. These movements 
naturally were of an offensive nature, although they were really 
for a defensive purpose. No attempt was made to advance any 
distance through the western passes. The Italians were con- 
tent to take the fortifications guarding the entrance and to seize 
heights commanding the approaches. 

On the south and east of the Trentino, however, the opera- 
tions took on a more extended and, for the Austrians, a more 
serious aspect. On the south the principal efforts were directed 
against Riva and Rovereto. The operations against Riva, which 
is situated at the head of Lake Garda, were directed along the 
valley of the Ledro and thence along the Tonale River, a small 
stream connecting Lake Ledro and Lake Garda. At the same 
time the Italians pushed with energy down the Val Sugana, 
which leads directly to Trent. The advance was pushed to a 
point where there was no possibility of the Austrians coming 
through, and there the Italian forces rested. 

Well up, toward the north, in the Dolomites there followed 
considerable fighting, in the Cordevole Valley particularly, for 
the Col di Lona, the loftiest of the mountain tops in that region. 
The Cordevole unites with the Val Forsa some twenty miles east 
of the Adige Valley, the Val Forsa connecting with the Adige 
at the town of Lavio, six miles north of Trent. To cut in behind 
the Austrians south of Trent would, of course, have created 
havoc with the entire Austrian forces in the Trentino, but, as 
stated, the defensive possibilities of the situation are so formid- 



PROBLEMS OF STRATEGY 407 

able that success would appear almost beyond the realms of 
actuality. 

On the Isonzo front the fighting all along continued on a large 
scale. An idea of the immensity of the struggle is suggested by 
the Austrian estimate in January, 1916, that Italian casualties 
had passed the million mark. Exaggerated as this number was 
regarded in allied circles, it showed Austria-Hungary's opinion 
of the severity of the fighting in what was considered a sub- 
sidiary theatre of the Great War. 

The railroad situation on the Isonzo front is, as in practically 
all modern military situations, of primary strategic importance. 
The Istrian Peninsula is served by three lines, each of which 
runs to Austrian bases of supply. One runs up the valley of the 
Isonzo, through Gorizia and Tolmino and through the Hochein 
Tunnel to Vienna. At Gorizia a branch leaves this line, running 
southeast, and connects Gorizia with Trieste across the Carso 
Plateau. The second line comes from the east from Laibach 
through San Pietro, where a branch runs south to Fiume, and 
the third comes north from the Austrian naval base at Pola. 
Gorizia is served by the northern road from Vienna, from Trieste 
by the main line, and by the branch just described. Supplies 
from Vienna would be stopped by cutting the road anywhere 
north of Gorizia. But to shut off Trieste as a source, both of 
the southern rail communications must be cut. Early in June, 
1915, the Italians forced a passage of the Isonzo at Plava and 
at Monf alcone, and cut the railroad at these two points. Gorizia 
then continued to be supplied only by the Trieste branch. Nor 
was Trieste itself cut off, as the road from Laibach through 
San Pietro continued open. The only way to isolate Istria was 
to take the San Pietro junction, and this was the ultimate aim 
of the operations at that region. 

The Italian objective in Istria was, of course, Trieste. In 
order to advance on Trieste the Italians must be secured from 
a flank attack, and Gorizia, which is a strongly fortified bridge- 
head, would be directly on their flank. Therefore, it must be 
either captured or masked before an advance to the south could 
be started. Gorizia, too, was important for another reason. It 



408 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

was the point which the Austrians had chosen to be the center 
of their first main line of defense. If it fell, not only was the 
way open for an advance on Trieste, but the entire Austrian 
line to the north and south was jeopardized through the fact 
that, with the center pierced, both wings were exposed to flank 
attacks, and would have to retreat or be rolled up and defeated 
in detail. In other words, the fall of Gorizia would uncover 
Austria's entire Isonzo line, and, although there might be some 
subsequent resistance in the mountains to the north, the giving 
way of the line would be inevitable. 

Gorizia, however, as has been shown, stands in the front rank 
of strong natural defensive positions. The foothills of the Julian 
Alps descend sharply to a plain near where the Isonzo issued 
from the gorge which it has cut through the mountains. The 
line between the plain and the mountains is sharp and clearly 
marked. There is no gentle tapering off of one into the other. 
This line between the hills and plain is somewhat irregular in 
shape and incloses a pocket in which Gorizia is situated. It is 
not unlike a huge elliptical stadium. At the north end, level with 
the ground, is Gorizia, with the Julian Alps mounting on all sides. 
The southern bank is constituted by the plateau of the Carso, 
in which is situated the town of Doberdo. Thus the plain of 
Gorizia is surrounded on three sides by elevations which serve 
as admirable watchmen for the city beneath. Just across the 
Isonzo from Gorizia are the town and spur of Podgora, which 
absolutely command the city and prevent an Italian attack from 
that side. With Podgora completely in Italian hands, it is diffi- 
cult to see how Gorizia could hold out. From Podgora the depots, 
barracks, and supply houses of Gorizia are within artillery range 
of guns of all calibers, and the environs of Podgora have changed 
hands several times. 

To the north of Podgora, at a distance of between two and 
three miles, is a second series of heights — the heights of Oslavia, 
which also dominate the bridgehead. These the Italians rushed 
in December, 1915, so the heights northwest of Gorizia continued 
in Italian hands. To the south, on the Carso Plateau, the Italians 
also pushed forward. The heights on the edge of the plateau — 



PROBLEMS OF STRATEGY 409 

San Michele and San Martine di Carso— came into Italian hands. 
The fortifications of Gorizia — temporary field fortifications — are 
not at all like the more modern fortifications of Europe, which, 
previous to the shelling of Liege and Namur, were considered 
almost impregnable. They are more nearly like the little town 
of Ossowetz on the Bobr River, which held out against the Ger- 
man 42-centimeter guns for over six months, and was then 
evacuated only because its defenders were flanked out. There 
was very little concrete in the Gorizia defenses, which were 
mostly earthworks formed into terraces on which the guns were 
mounted. Many of these gun positions have been destroyed, but 
Gorizia has continued to hold out despite the desperate attacks 
of the besiegers. 

Because of the natural defensive strength of the line less men 
have been used by Austria on this front than in any other theatre 
of the war. When war between Italy and Austria broke out 
the Austrians had already commenced the vast operations which 
flung Russia from the Carpathians and behind Lemberg. The 
men were therefore not available in sufficient numbers to defend 
the line of the Isonzo, otherwise it is likely it would have re- 
mained intact from the outset, and the Italian forces would never 
have been able to force their way through Flava and Monfalcone. 
That Austria harbored little anxiety regarding her Italian fron- 
tier likewise appears from her relinquishment of the Russian 
offensive to begin operations in the Balkans. Whether a real 
Italian offensive at any time was among her military plans will 
remain doubtful till events make the situation clear. Austria 
would appear to have little to gain from a conquest of Italian 
provinces in which her former rule brought her the deep and 
ordained resentment of the Italian people. 

During the month of January, 1916, the southern theatre of 
war was comparatively quiet. The forces under General Cadorna 
maintained their offensive on the Isonzo without any decisive 
revolt taking place. There was considerable bombardment of 
the bridgeheads at Tolmino and Gorizia. In the Gorizia sector 
the Austrians attacked tha Italian positions at Oslavia, captur- 
ing 900 men and inflicting severe losses in killed and wounded. 



410 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Determined attacks by the Italian troops followed, and the posi- 
tions were again transferred to Italian hands. At the end of 
this month an official r£sum£ covering Italy's entrance into the 
war and the operations of the Italian army in the intervening 
months was issued at Rome. In this official communique it was 
estimated that 30,000 Austrian prisoners, 5 guns, 65 machine 
guns, and a large quantity of war material had so far been cap- 
tured by the Italians from the Austrian forces. Twenty-five 
Austrian divisions, totaling about 425,000 men, were said to 
have been massed along the Italian frontier at the beginning 
of the war. 



CHAPTER XLIX 

MOVE AGAINST GERMANY 

A ROYAL decree was issued at Rome on February 11, 1916, 
prohibiting the importation into Italy or transit through 
Italy of all German and Austrian merchandise, as well as the 
exportation of all merchandise of German or Austrian origin 
through Italian ports. This was the formal recognition of a 
policy that had been followed out with increasing strictness since 
hostilities commenced, but which had never been officially de- 
clared. The declaration of war by Italy against Austria carried 
with it the prohibition of trading with Austro-Hungarian sub- 
jects, and announcement had been made in the Italian press of 
prosecution of persons on the charge of trading with the nation's 
enemy. The coupling of the German Empire with Austria- 
Hungary in this royal decree was the first formal act on the 
part of Italy in the way of making it clear that all commercial 
relations with Germany were suspended. This was in accord- 
ance with the general policy of cooperation among the Allies, 
whose disjointed action had hitherto seriously hampered the con- 
duct of the war. 

It was also decided by the Italian Government on February 16, 
1916, that warmer commercial relations with the allied nations 



MOVE AGAINST GERMANY 411 

should be cultivated. In pursuance of this policy a program wag 
mapped out covering the following five years, during which 
period machinery, raw materials, and manufactured articles des- 
tined for the development of existing industries or the creation 
of new ones could be imported free of any duty if their origin 
was in allied or friendly countries. In this way it was aimed 
to disintegrate the commercial domination of Germany which 
had been built up by the efforts of a generation. It was felt that 
by this method efforts on the part of Germany and Austria- 
Hungary to recapture lost Italian import trade would be ren- 
dered futile. During this same month announcement was made 
regarding the third Italian war loan. This was declared to have 
reached on February 6, 1916, 3,000,000,000 lire, which, together 
with former loans, showed that altogether 5,000,000,000 lire had 
been contributed. Considerable satisfaction was expressed at 
this result. It was conceded that in the realm of finance, in 
which Italy had been considered weakest, the country had done 
remarkably well. Considering that Italy not long ago was con- 
sidered one of the poorest nations of Europe, bearing taxes out 
of all proportion to her wealth, and that even now she had been 
enjoying but half a century of national independence, the show- 
ing was full of promise for the future. In general, it was held 
that Italy had revealed herself in a character different from 
that which had been made traditional by the criticisms of 
foreigners. 

Not only on the declaration of war had the traditional "Latin 
temperament" shown itself to be surprisingly calm and self-pos- 
sessed, but various other traits were revealed that militated 
against the conventional view. When hostilities began on the 
Austro- Italian frontier the stroke of the fateful hour found Italy 
prepared to the last button and the last man. An organization 
that was the fruit of years of toil had been built up, ready for 
action on any frontier. That such action would be first needed on 
the frontier of a former ally could not have been foreseen. But 
within a very short time Italy was mobilized, and her prompt 
efficiency made it possible at once to carry the war on to Austrian 
territory, where it has since been waged. 



412 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

On the last day of the month of February, 1916, Italy took 
still another step which showed her prepared to burn all her 
boats as far as Germany was concerned. On that date the Italian 
Government requisitioned thirty-four large German steamers in- 
terned in Italian harbors. A total of fifty-seven German and 
Austrian vessels were in Italian ports at the beginning of the 
war. The Austrian ships were seized by Italy when war was 
declared on the Dual Monarchy. No action had, however, been 
taken in regard to German vessels. Their status in the ports of 
Italy had been regarded as parallel to that of German vessels 
which remained in American ports after war began. This led 
to a certain amount of heartburning among the friends of the 
Allies, who pointed out that it was in line with the Italian policy 
of maintaining commercial relations with Germany as far as 
they could be maintained. Rumors had also been rife regarding 
alleged secret agreements that had been made with the German 
Government. 

These rumors were gradually dissipated by the successive 
measures taken by the Italian Government and the requisition- 
ing of the German interned vessels revealed her as in full co- 
operation with the Allies. There were also other considerations 
that weighed with Italy. The submarine had revealed itself as 
a powerful destructive weapon, and the toll taken by it of allied 
ships was a heavy one. It was seen that the transfer of German 
vessels to the flag of Italy and their use by the Allies would do 
much toward relieving the congestion of goods at American docks 
which were awaiting shipment to the allied countries. The loot 
of German vessels then in Italian ports and their tonnage formed 
a formidable total. They were as follows : At Ancona, Lemnos, 
24,873 tons; at Bari, Waltraute, 3,818; at Cagliari, Spitzfels, 
5,809; at Catania, LipaH, 1,539; at Genoa, Hermesburg, 2,824, 
Konig Albert, 10,484, Moltke, 12,325, Prinz-Regent Luitpold, 
6,595; at Girgenti, Imbros, 2,380; at Leghorn, Amalfi, 1,756, 
Termini, 1,523; at Licata, Portfino, 1,745; at Naples, Bayem, 
8,000, Marsala, 1,753, Herania, 6,455 ; at Palermo, Algier, 3,127, 
Catania, 3,000, Tunis, 1,833; at Savona, Bastia, 1,527; at Syra- 
cuse, Albany, 5,882. Ambria, 5,143, Barcelona, 5,465, Katter- 



BENEWED ATTACKS 413 

turm, 6,018, Mudros, 3,137, Sigmaringen, 5,710, Italia, 3,498; 
at Venice, Samo, 1,922, Volos, 1,903; at Massowah, Aspemfell, 
4,361, Borkum, 5,645, Choiring, 1,657, Christian X, 4,956, Ost- 
warfc, 4,400, Persepolis, 5,446, Segovia, 4,945, and Sturmfels, 
5,660. All these were at the end of February, 1916, put into 
the service of the Allies, compensating in some degree for the 
losses suffered by each of these nations from mines and the 
deadly submarine. 



CHAPTER L 



RENEWED ATTACKS — ITALY'S SITUATION AT 
THE BEGINNING OF MARCH, 1916 

DURING the month of February, 1916, the war on the Italian 
front continued with bitterness but without decisive result. 
Early in the month the Austrians attacked the heights of Oslavia 
northwest of Gorizia, capturing 1,200 men and several trenches. 
Several days later the Italians achieved some results after weeks 
of hammering in the Sugana Valley. They captured the moun- 
tainous region of Collo and also occupied the towns of Roncegno 
and Romchi. By this new acquisition of territory the Italians 
came almost within striking distance of one of their chief ob- 
jectives in the war — the city of Trent — which lies, protected on 
the northeast and north by a line of forts, fifteen miles west of 
the conquered terrain. Meanwhile several aerial attacks, which 
had been fitfully chronicled since the beginning of the war, 
brought anxiety to the coast towns of Italy. Venice with its 
arsenal was visited more than once. In February, 1916, hostile 
aeroplanes bombarded the town of Setio, fifteen miles from 
Vicenza, killing six persons, wounding many others, and doing 
considerable material damage. The aerial attack on Setio was 
the third reported in one week on Italian cities, following raids 
on the districts of Ravenna and Milan. Setio is in northeastern 
Italy, fifteen miles south of the Austrian border, and fifty miles 
northwest of Venice. On February 14, 1916, Austrian aeroplanes 



414 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

dropped bombs on Rimini, but were chased to the east by the 
fire of antiaircraft batteries. 

In the last week of February, 1916, a report that Durazzo, an 
Albanian port on the Adriatic Sea, had been evacuated by the 
Italian troops was confirmed. The Italian brigade stationed 
there had been withdrawn, it was officially declared. The Italian 
troops were drawn back in company with Serbians, Monte- 
negrins, and Albanians. Men and horses were gathered to- 
gether, revictualed, and transported with light losses in the 
midst of grave difficulties, by the combined action of Italian and 
allied warships and Italian troops along the Albanian coast 
When the evacuation was completed by the departure of the 
Albanian Government from Durazzo, the Italian brigade as- 
signed to the city began a retreat, which was accomplished ac- 
cording to plan despite serious attacks from the Austrian forces, 
which advanced as far as the isthmuses to the east and north of 
Durazzo. The fall of the city of Durazzo resulted from the de- 
feat of the Italian and the Albanian forces under Essad Pasha, 
the provisional president. A strong line of outer defenses for the 
city had been constructed and the indications were that a spirited 
resistance would be offered. The Austrian and German forces 
attacked at daybreak. The defenders were soon ejected from 
their positions at Bazar Sjak. Soon afterward the Italians on the 
southern bank of the lower Arzen were forced to abandon their 
positions. The Austrians crossed the river and proceeded south- 
ward. At noon a decisive action east of Bazar Sjak drove the 
Italians from strong positions. The same fate was suffered by 
the defenders of Sassa Bianeo, six miles east of Durazzo. By the 
evening of February 23, 1916, the entire outer girdle of defenses 
was taken. The attackers, advancing to the inner line positions, 
established the fact that the Italians were embarking their 
troops hurriedly. The final result was that the only position held 
by Italian troops in the Balkans was Avlona in Albania. The 
situation was viewed with much concern in Italy, where the am- 
bition was to make the Adriatic an Italian sea. It was an un- 
satisfactory result of a series of operations in which Italian 
interests were vital, but in which Italians had taken but a 



RENEWED ATTACKS 415 

negligible part. The conquest of most of the territory north of 
Greece had left the Austro-Germans with a large army released 
for work elsewhere. French and British were intrenching 
strongly at Saloniki, backed by a powerful fleet. The Italians 
still held Avlona. Greece remained neutral, but was filled with 
resentment against the Allies, who were repeatedly violating her 
territory. Bulgaria, flushed with victory, now held her strong 
army in leash. Serbia and Montenegro had gone down before 
the invader. Rumania was resisting every effort whether by 
threat or force or cajolement to lead her into war. The situation 
called for the most serious consideration from Italy and her 
allies. 

During February, 1916, M. Briand, the French Premier, was 
the guest of the Italian Government in Rome, where he had gone 
with the object — the words are M. Briand's — "of establishing a 
closer and more fruitful cooperation between the Italians and 
their allies/' Political cooperation was complete, he declared, 
but military cooperation on their part had been admittedly less so, 
and that was the supreme want of the moment. Italy rightly 
hesitated to embark on adventure, but in order to secure her 
political aims her primary object was identical with that of her 
allies, namely, to break down the military strength of the Central 
Powers. For this purpose it was necessary to strike together, 
and strike at the enemy's heart. The world knew what Italians 
wanted, and meant to get — the Italian Trentino and Trieste; but 
frontal attacks were costly, as General Cadorna had discovered, 
and the Italian strategist had not yet said his last word. 

The fate of Trieste might perhaps bemore quickly decided on the 
Danube than on the Isonzo. There was a general agreement that 
an error had been committed by the Allies in letting the Central 
Powers cross the Danube into Serbia. Except along the 250-mile 
gap between the Adriatic and the Serbo-Rumanian frontier, the 
Central Powers were blockaded either by ships and soldiers or by 
neutral territory. Opinions differed as to where the Allies should 
strike to reach the heart of Germany, but there were many who 
thought that the first offensive should be to close the gateway 
into the Balkans by reconquering Serbia and cutting the com- 

AA— War St. 4 



416 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

mimications between the Central Powers and their allies. Time 
would show what the allied Governments meant to do, but if this 
intention was to get back to the Danube half a million men would 
be required at Saloniki with an equal force in reserve. 

It was generally admitted that the territorial ambitions oi 
Italy had been seriously checked by the development of Austrian 
strength. The war as originally planned on the Austro-Italian 
frontier was to be one of swift movement in the direction oi 
Trieste and Dalmatia; with the gradual cooperation of the 
Balkan nations and a general invasion into the interior of Aus- 
tria. Until, therefore, decided headway could be made on the 
Isonzo front and Gorizia had fallen, a feeling-out movement 
would appear the best to be followed. The Italian people were 
learning to accept the delay with philosophic resignation. The 
axiom of Napoleon was recalled that it was always the unsus- 
pected that happened in war, and events in the other fighting 
areas enabled them to grasp the difficulties of the situation on 
their own border. 

Already in February, 1916, the conquest of Montenegro and 
the capture of Mount Lovchen, long the nightmare of Italian 
statesmen, by the Austrians, began to be less a subject of anxiety. 
Serious blow as it was to Italian prestige, it did not appear irre- 
parable. Even before, Austria had already a magnificent series 
of natural harbors in the Adriatic. But it was argued that 
Austria had not a sufficiently strong fleet to take advantage of 
the new wonderful natural harbor now entirely in her possession. 
The chief perils lay in the formidable obstacle to naval activity 
formed by Mount Lovchen, with 305-mm. guns mounted on its 
summit and in the facile use of the Bocca di Cattaro as a sub- 
marine base from which to harass the Italian fleet. Italy, it was 
recognized, was contending with geographical disadvantages 
everywhere, but in the Adriatic more than elsewhere, owing to 
the peculiarly tame configuration of her coast line. As compared 
with that on the eastern side of the Adriatic the contrast was 
great. 

Nature had, indeed, been lavish in her gifts to Austria in 
this direction. Deep water inlets forming natural harbors, which 



RENEWED ATTACKS 417 

at the present time are invaluable as harbors for warships or as 
submarine bases, are to be found all along the Dalmatian coast. 

Tajer, Zara, Lesina, Lissa, Curzola, Maleda, Sabbioncello, 
Grayosa, and Sebenico are almost in themselves sufficient to 
counterbalance any numerical disparity between the Austrian 
and Italian fleets. Several of these natural harbors have of late 
years been transformed, at enormous expense, into naval ports 
and strongly fortified. Millions have been spent on Sebenico, 
and it has been so fortified as to be absolutely impregnable from 
the sea, even the rocks facing the harbor having been cased in 
ferroconcrete and turned into forts. The claim of Venice to be 
mistress of the Adriatic belongs to a remote age; it has long 
since been ousted by Pola, which has gradually been developed 
into one of the strongest naval arsenals and ports in the world. 
Similarly the whole coast line of Dalmatia is fronted by a chain 
of islands, round which submarines can receive supplies and lurk 
in absolute security. In the rear of these islands is a succession 
of navigable channels through which a war fleet can pass under 
cover from Pola to Cattaro. The Italian coast line is the very 
antithesis of the Austrian. Between Venice and Brindisi, the 
whole length of the Adriatic, there is not a single natural harbor. 
But, said the Italians : 

"What is the good of a fine stable without horses?" Italy had 
the ships, Austria the harbors: it remained to be seen which 
would win out. 

The bearing of all this on the question of Italy's cooperation 
with the Allies in the Balkans is apparent. It had been fre- 
quently remarked that the Dalmatian coast line was likely one 
day to bring on a European war, for its possession is of vital 
interest to Italy. Austria, with twelve naval bases and all the 
natural advantages of coast line in her favor, is in a far stronger 
position than Italy. How can Italy hope to occupy the Dalmatian 
coast? There was and is a considerable diversity of opinion in 
Italy as to the wisdom of an over-sea expedition in addition to 
the occupation of Avlona in Albania. At one moment it was 
suggested that in view of the preponderating call on the military 
resources of the country in the areas of operations on the Isonzo, 



418 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

in Carnia, Cadore, and the Trentino, it would be wiser to with- 
draw for the time being from Avlona. But it would seem as 
though Italy is bound to see the thing through. The place has 
been put into a state of comparative impregnability. Italy is 
well aware that her line of communication must remain more or 
less at the mercy of the Austrian fleet operating from Pola and 
the naval bases along the coast She would need very material 
assistance from the allied fleets, and her part in the Balkan 
operations would appear therefore to depend on cohesive action 
among the allied admirals. The loss of Avlona would inflict a 
blow on the prestige of the Allies paralleling that of the Gallipoli 
d6b&cle. Yet at the end of February, 1916, the Austrians, ad- 
vancing along the coast in conjunction with Bulgarians coming 
from Monastir, would appear to be making Avlona their objec- 
tive. Austrian success would make the Adriatic a mere clausum 
to the allied fleets and cripple Italy in one of her chief arms of 
defense and offense. 



PART X— CAMPAIGN IN MESOPOTAMIA 



CHAPTER LI 

OPERATIONS AGAINST BAGDAD AND 
AROUND THE TIGRIS 

THE British campaign in Mesopotamia during the first year 
of the war had been generally successful. After the capture 
of Basra in November, 1914, the Delta country was cleared of the 
enemy and the safety of the oil fields assured. A period of quiet 
followed, broken only when the Turks took the offensive, which 
failed, in April, 1915. Late in May the British won a decisive vic- 
tory over the Turkish troops at Kurna. In July, 1915, the ill- 
fated expedition against the enemy forces guarding Bagdad was 
planned. Later, after the failure in the Dardanelles, it was neces- 
sary to attempt something spectacular that would restore British 
prestige in the Orient, and this could be accomplished by the 
capture of Bagdad. 

The British position in regard to Persia had become difficult. 
It was known that the German Ambassador at Teheran, Prince 
Henry XXXI of Reuss, was scheming with Persian tribes and 
Persian statesmen and politicians, and also trying to win over 
the armed police and their Swedish officers. Russia and Great 
Britain had established this police system to protect the high- 
ways from brigands, and Swedish officers had been chosen to com- 
mand them because they might be counted on not to favor 
Russian or British interests. 

The mountain tribes on the Turko-Persian border were in a 
state of unrest and seemed to be only waiting an opportunity to 
show their hostility toward the foes of Germany and Turkey. 

419 



420 



THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 




S 



OPERATIONS AGAINST BAGDAD 421 

The Swedish-led gendarmerie were also more than suspected by 
the British of having been won over by German agents. The 
Russian army in the Caucasus meanwhile was accomplishing lit- 
tle or nothing, while the Turkish forces in part were extending 
toward the Persian highlands, with the purpose, it was suspected, 
of joining with the Swedish-led rebels and mountain tribes. The 
Turks and intriguers in Persia evidently thought the time ripe for 
a quick conquest of Persia, as the main Russian armies in 
Poland were not in a position to interfere. It seemed to the Turks 
and their German advisers that the hour was propitious to send 
forward an army that would drive the British-Indian Expedi- 
tionary Force out of Mesopotamia. 

Sir John Nixon had no adequate forces at his command for 
the proposed task of capturing Bagdad, having only at his dis- 
posal one division of Indian and British troops, and a brigade 
or so in reserve with which to attack the Turkish army that was 
daily increasing in numbers. 

The most implacable foe that the British troops had to contend 
against was the climate. It was found impossible to march more 
than eight miles a day and after sundown. The heat in the tents 
at times varied between 128 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. With 
burning sand underfeet, and scorching rays of the sun from 
above, blood dried up in the body, the brain became inflamed, fol- 
lowed by delirium, coma, death. It was impossible for the white 
soldiers to perspire unless they were near marshes where they 
might quench their intolerable thirst in the brackish waters. 
Owing to the lack of fresh vegetables and improper food, the 
rations of bully beef and hard-tack, and the assaults of blood* 
sucking insects, many deaths occurred. Even the Northwest 
Indian troops, accustomed to the desert and life in a hot climate, 
suffered intensely in Mesopotamia. It is necessary to consider 
the climatic conditions the British forces had to contend with in 
this country to understand why their progress was necessarily 
slow, and why so many men fell by the way. 

The attempt to capture Bagdad was much criticized when pro- 
jected, and since, as being foolhardy, and likely to fail, and in any 
case not worth the great loss of men it must entail. But the 



422 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

British-Indian Expeditionary Force was in a position where it 
must take a gambler's chance and stand to win or lose. To 
capture the city of the Caliphs would in the first place greatly 
impress the Mohammedan population and restore British pres- 
tige, which had sadly suffered through the Dardanelles failure. 
And it was necessary that the British troops should act promptly 
and without counting the possible cost, for every hour's delay 
permitted the Turks and their allies to grow in strength. 

To the British, Bagdad was of importance. It was needed as a 
base at the head of navigation. It would enable them to prevent 
Turkish troops from traveling over Persian highways, and, most 
important of all, it would afford the British opportunities to check 
Mohammedan organization and subdue attempted risings. 

General Townshend, who commanded the division that was sent 
forward to attempt the capture of Bagdad, had all the odds 
against him. His small force, consisting of two-thirds Indian and 
one-third British troops, was hopelessly inadequate for the pro- 
jected campaign. It was known that the Turks were well 
equipped with guns of superior power, and that they were directed 
by German officers, assisted by German engineers; that the very 
able German officer Marshal von der Goltz was in charge of opera- 
tions. When it is considered that the Turkish force was three 
times as strong in numbers as General Townshend's, the British 
general's advance on Bagdad seemed foredoomed to failure. His 
only hope lay in delivering a swift defeat to the Turks before 
their reenforcements could arrive from the Caucasian front, a 
movement which began about the middle of September, 1915. 

Before an advance could be made on Bagdad it was necessary 
for the British to defeat a large Turkish force at Nasiriyeh and 
at Kut-el-Amara, where the British captured fourteen guns and 
about 1,000 prisoners, losing in killed and wounded 500 officers 
and men. The Turkish trenches were destroyed and within a 
small area about 900 Turkish dead were counted. 

The British troops, having fought in an atmosphere of 130 
degrees, were thoroughly exhausted when they encamped in Nasi- 
riyeh. Like most Arab towns, the place was in such a filthy con- 
dition that it required weeks to clean it up and make it habitable 



OPERATIONS AGAINST BAGDAD 423 

for Europeans. Meanwhile the British troops lived in tents and 
enjoyed a much needed rest. It was stated that fully 95 per cent 
of the men were in such a state of exhaustion as to be quite unfit 
for active service. If the Turkish commander in chief had 
known of this, the reenforcements he had dispatched from his 
base at Kut-el-Amara might easily have compelled the British 
force to retire. Fortunately for the British, the Turkish reen- 
forcements encountered on the way the routed Turkish army of 
the Euphrates and evidently heard such tales of the fighting 
powers of the British and Indian soldiers that they joined the 
fugitives in their retreat. 

At the close of August, 1915, Nasiriyeh had been made habita- 
ble by the British engineers and a large part of the force departed 
for Amara on steamers and barges, most of the soldiers wearing 
only a waist-clout and still suffering from the intense heat, as 
they crouched under the grass-mat shelters that had been pro- 
vided. The garrison left in the town to keep the Arabs in order 
suffered from swarms of flies, heat, fever, and dysentery, and 
would have welcomed a Turkish attack if only that it might afford 
some variety to their monotonous life. 

During this time General Townshend, from his base at Amara 
on the Tigris, was moving his heterogeneous collection of vessels 
up the river and had begun friendly negotiations with the power- 
ful tribes of the Beni Lam Arabs, who held most of the land be- 
tween the Tigris and the northern mountains, and much territory 
on the southern side of the river. Here stretched out a desert 
waste between Amara and Eut-el-Amara, occupied by powerful 
confederations of fighting Bedouins, the Abu Mohammed tribes, 
known by their black tents, who moved about the British base on 
the river ; the Makusis tribes, who fought as light cavalry on the 
side of the Turks, and the Abu Dir Diraye Arabs, who were ready 
to fight on any side that promised the most booty. For religious 
reasons their priests urged the Arabs to fight against the infidels, 
but the Britons had enjoyed considerable prestige in Mesopo- 
tamia; thousands of Arabs calling themselves English subjects 
and claiming the help of the British Consul in Bagdad when they 
were in difficulties. 



424 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

A fighting league with the great federation of Beni Lam was 
greatly to be desired by the British, for it would enable them to 
use freely a considerable stretch of the Tigris, and secure safety 
from attack from both banks. The Beni Lam by siding with the 
English, whose recent victories had not failed to impress them, 
hoped to gain new grazing territory from their rivals who fought 
with the Turks, so an alliance was formed and ratified by the 
Sheiks of the confederation, and Sir John Nixon, Commander in 
Chief; Sir Percy Cox, British Resident in the Persian Gulf, and 
General Townshend commanding the troops at Amara. 

The British were under no illusions regarding the Arab char- 
acter, having learned from some bitter experiences just how 
much the wily nomads were to be trusted. As long as the British 
were victorious they might count on the Arabs' allegiance, but in 
case of defeat he was more than likely to turn about and fight 
with the enemy. The alliance between the British and the Beni 
Lam Arabs was of problematic value, but it was worth while 
under the circumstances. It was better to secure their friend- 
ship even temporarily, for the Arabs had been a constant source 
of trouble from the time the British Expeditionary Force entered 
Mesopotamia. Fighting to them was a pastime rather than a 
serious business, and whenever the struggle became deadly they 
Would very likely disappear. A veritable nuisance to the British 
force were the Arabs who hung around the skirts of the expedi- 
tionary force and amused themselves by reckless sniping. 

Conflicts with mounted bands offered no difficulties, for having 
no artillery they would disappear among the dunes to be located 
later by British aeroplanes, and could then be hunted down by 
columns of infantry. When aeroplanes were not available, it 
was impossible to follow their movements. Having perfect 
mounts they could afford to laugh at a cavalry charge. 

"They would simply melt away into thin air," wrote an officer 
at the front, who had led a charge against these sons of the 
desert. "They are a quaint mixture," he adds : "some of them 
being distinctly gallant fellows, but the greater part are curs 
and jackals and will never take you on unless they are at least 
three, or four, to your one. Incidentally, they have the pleasant 



OPERATIONS AGAINST BAGDAD 425 

habit of turning on the Turks (for whom they are nominally 
fighting) and looting and harassing them as soon as they (the 
Turks) take the knock from us, and as a consequence the Turk 
does not much care about having a real scrap with us/' 

Sometimes the Arabs led the British into desert wastes where 
they could get water from hidden springs known only to them- 
selves, and where the British soldier, who literally traveled on his 
water bottle, suffered tortures from thirst under a heat that dried 
up the blood in his veins. In some of these attempts to round up 
Bedouin marauders the British lost a number of men because the 
water supply gave out. These conditions will explain why in so 
many dispatches sent by General Townshend from the front, it 
was stated that he had to fall back on the Tigris because his 
troops lacked water. In such parts of the country where it was 
possible to employ armed motor cars and even the best Arabian 
steed could be run down, the Bedouins found their old tactics of 
little account and were inspired with a wholesome fear of the 
British soldier. Portable wireless apparatus used by airmen and 
troops, and scouting aeroplanes, made difficulties for the elusive 
Bedouins whose methods of desert warfare had not changed in 
centuries. So it happened that in proportion as British fighting 
methods and British resources became known and feared by the 
Arab in Mesopotamia he grew more and more wary of running 
into danger, unless the odds were altogether in his favor. What 
the German and Turkish officers endured from their Arab allies 
will probably never be known, but on more than one occasion 
when the British won a victory and the Turks were in retreat, 
the Arabs were active in despoiling the fugitives and then made 
off with their loot, and with the new rifles and equipment they 
had been supplied with by the Turks or Germans. 

Being accomplished robbers, the Arabs were constantly making 
raids on British stores under cover of the night and were gen- 
erally successful. On one occasion a party of eight got by the 
pickets and crawled into the regimental slaughterhouse. But 
they had not counted on modern science. There were mines 
planted outside the door and every Arab who was a robber was 
killed. 



426 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

CHAPTER LII 

ADVANCE TOWARD BAGDAD — BATTLE OP 
KUT-EL-AMARA 

THE advance toward Bagdad was begun in the middle of Sep* 
tember, 1915, but owing to the constantly changing conditions 
in the bed of the Tigris, which hindered the progress of vessels, ] 
and the necessity for constant reconnaissances of the river » 
region, it was not until the last of the month that the British 
force, consisting of only four brigades, reached the vicinity of 
Kut-el-Amara. 

Nuredin Pasha's troops occupied a strong position near the 
£ut, with carefully constructed intrenchments protected by 
large areas of barbed-wire entanglements and supported by con 
siderable heavy artillery. The British camp was about ten miles 
away from the Turkish position. They were weaker in men and 
in guns than the enemy. The heat was overpowering. The 
British lost some men on the way to this camp and others con- 
tinued to drop out from heat exhaustion. 

On September 23, 1915, two British brigades advanced to 
within sight of the Turkish tents, while their principal camp was 
pitched on the south bank of the Tigris. The British steamers 
took up a position between the two armies in readiness to shat- 
ter a surprise attack. It was discovered when the two brigades 
made a demonstration against the enemy on September 25, 1915, 
that the Turks had thoroughly mined all the southern bank of 
the river, which caused the British commander to alter his plans 
of attack. 

On the night of September 27, 1915, the two brigades, 
leaving their tents standing to deceive the Turks, crossed the 
Tigris by a flying bridge. It is said that this dummy camp which 
a Turkish division was facing was the direct cause that enabled 
the British to win a victory. If the Turks had concentrated all 
their forces on the north bank of the river the British attack 
Would undoubtedly have failed. It was the absence of the divi- 



BATTLE OF KUT-EL-AMARA 427 

sion facing the empty tents from the real battle field that caused 
them to lose the day. 

In order to understand the magnitude of the British victory 
it is necessary to describe the seemingly impregnable char- 
acter of the Turkish defenses. There were twelve miles of 
defenses across the river at right angles to its general direction 
at this point — six miles to the right and six miles to the 
left. The works on the right bank had been strengthened by 
the existence of an old water cut. The banks at this point 
were from ten to twenty feet high and afforded excellent facil- 
ities for viewing the deployment of troops advancing to attack. 
A strong redoubt on the extreme right opposed any flank 
movement that might be attempted in that direction. On the 
left bank the line of defenses was separated by a heavy marsh 
about two miles wide, so that from the left bank of the river 
there were, first, two miles of trenches, then two miles of marsh, 
and then two miles of defenses. It was evident that much labor 
had been expended in preparing these defenses, showing the 
skilled hand of German engineers. Each section of the succes- 
sive lines of trenches was connected by an intricate network of 
communication trenches. Along these complete lines of water 
pipes had been laid. 

It was known that the Turkish army holding this strong posi- 
tion had been largely reenforced by the arrival of fresh troops 
from Nasiriyeh, and the Turkish commander in chief, Nuredin 
Pasha, may well have believed that victory would crown his arms 
that day and that the British expeditionary force would be anni- 
hilated. There was no lack of confidence in the British camp 
either, though it was known that the Turks were vastly superior 
in numbers to their own army. For, despite some hard lessons 
learned from the enemy, the British soldier considers himself a 
superior fighter to the Turk, and is always eager for an oppor- 
tunity to prove it. 

If the Turks had made their position almost impregnable on 
land, they had neglected nothing to prevent the British from 
gaining any advantage on the Tigris. The river was blocked at 
different points by lines of sunken dhows, while across the water, 



428 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

and a little above it, was stretched a great wire cable. Special 
care had been taken to protect the Turkish guns from being 
destroyed. Each one of them was placed in such position that 
nothing less than a direct hit by a howitzer shell could damage it. 

On September 26, 27, and 28, 1915, a column under General 
Fry, by ceaseless effort day and night, had managed to work its 
way up to within four hundred yards of the Turkish barbed- 
wire entanglements, round what was known from its shape as 
the Horseshoe Marsh. The troops went forward slowly under 
continual shell fire and hail of rifle bullets, digging themselves 
in as they advanced. The British guns in the open could not 
check the Turkish artillery, which increased in intensity as the 
British troops continued to advance. The nature of the ground 
was decidedly to the advantage of the attackers, for at intervals 
there were deep, firm-bottomed trenches that afforded excellent 
cover. If the Turks had been provided with good ammunition 
the British would have lost vastly more men than they did. It is 
said that the Turkish shrapnel was of such poor quality that the 
British troops passed unscathed through it, only being wounded 
when they were hit by cases and fuses. All told, the British 
suffered ninety casualties in this attack on the enemy round the 
Horseshoe Marsh. The main object of this operation was to hold 
the Turkish attention at a point where they hoped to be attacked 
while more important work was going forward elsewhere. 

A second column under General Delamain, which had crossed 
the Tigris from the south side, marched all night of Septem- 
ber 27, 1915, and reached their new attacking position on a neck 
of dry land between two marshes where the Turks were in- 
trenched at five o'clock in the morning of September 28, 1915. 
Advancing cautiously for a mile between the two marshes, Dela- 
main's column came in sight of the enemy's intrenchments. 
Before the fight opened General Townshend directed General 
Houghton to lead a detachment of Delamain's force around the 
marsh to the north and make a flank attack on the Turkish in- 
trenchments. That Nuredin Pasha should have left his northern 
flank exposed to a turning movement appeared to some of the 
British officers at the time as a piece of incredible stupidity; 



BATTLE OF KUT-EL-AMARA 429 

but it developed afterward that the Turkish commander knew 
perfectly well what he was about. The open road around the 
marsh was a skillfully prepared trap. A carefully concealed 
Turkish brigade that had escaped the observations of the British 
airmen lay behind the ridges near the most northern marsh. 
But the Turkish surprise did not come off as they expected, for 
General Houghton's column moved forward so swiftly through 
the dark around the marsh that, at 8.20 a. m., he was ready 
to send a wireless message to his superior officer announcing that 
he had reached the left rear of the Turkish lines. Everything 
now being ready for a general attack, General Townshend pro- 
ceeded to give battle. Since sunrise on September 27, 1915, the 
fleet on the river, consisting of armed steamers, tugboats, 
launches, etc., had been firing on the main Turkish position. 
Attempts made by H. M. S. Comet, leading a flotilla to get in 
near to the shore at the bend of the river and bombard the 
Turks at close range, were a failure. For the enemy quickly 
noted this movement and dropped shells so fast on the British 
vessels that they were compelled to retire. Some boats had been 
struck by Turkish shells, but the damages were not serious. 
Later some armed launches were able to creep near to the Turk- 
ish field batteries, and about noon their guns were silenced and 
the gunners killed or dispersed. The British shore batteries did 
some effective work, but the Turks succeeded in getting in one shot 
that killed two gunners and wounded a number of others. It was 
the only shot, and the last, that caused any British loss of life. 

During most of the long hot day General Fry's brigade occu- 
pied a position in front of the Horseshoe Marsh, subjected to 
a constant shower of shells from quick-firing guns. It was evi- 
dent that the enemy artillery was manned by Germans, for the 
firing showed speed and accuracy. It was an advantage to the 
British that the enemy had no airmen to scout and spot for them, 
and consequently there were few casualties as the result of the al- 
most continuous deluge of shells poured forth by the Turkish 
guns. Early in the morning the Turks discovered that the British 
camp was a dummy, and a division crossing the Tigris by means 
of a flying bridge dashed into the fight A counterattack was 



430 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

made against General Delamain by the greater part of this fresh 
division. 

The British column which was operating between what were 
known as the Suwada Marsh and Circular Marsh started its 
assault between eight and nine o'clock in the morning. The 
British had concentrated all their available artillery between 
the marshes, and under the protection of the guns and the sup- 
porting fire of Maxims and musketry a double company of 
the 117th Mahrattas made a headlong charge on the Turkish 
trenches. The daring Indians suffered great losses, not more 
than half the number who had set out reaching the Turkish 
trenches, into which they dashed intrepidly and bayoneted their 
way along them, causing heavy losses to the enemy. A double 
company of Second Dorsets was now sent against the Turkish 
trenches, and after meeting with desperate resistance they suc- 
ceeded in entering the enemy's deeply dug line. The rest of the 
battalion followed a little later, joining their comrades in the 
captured position. 

General Houghton's leading troops now came into action 
around the rear of the Circular Marsh. The Turks' northern 
flank had been stormed, but they still held desperately to their 
southern flank, from which they poured a devastating stream of 
shells against the British troops that caused many casualties. 

General Houghton's troops had had little rest since the pre- 
vious day, but they were cheered by the prospect of success, 
and with the Oxfords leading they entered the fight, and after 
four hours of continuous struggle surrounded and destroyed or 
captured the enemy force. The Turkish troops, concealed in 
deep ditches protected from the scorching rays of the sun by 
grass matting, fought on with dogged determination and were 
with difficulty dislodged. The British troops exposed to the piti- 
less heat, and exhausted from lack of sleep and from having had 
no water since the previous day, suffered terribly and could not 
possibly have held out much longer if the Turkish resistance 
had not collapsed. 

General Delamain, commanding the victorious columns, had 
made a night march from the dummy camp on the Tigris, and 



BATTLE OF KUT-EL-AMARA 431 

his soldiers and horses also suffered from thirst, having been 
forced into action before it was possible to renew the water 
supply. 

In the afternoon of the same day, September 28, 1915, General 
Houghton's exhausted troops were furiously attacked by the 
Turkish division that had crossed the Tigris at nine o'clock in 
the morning, while a force of Turkish cavalry at the same time 
attempted an outflanking charge. 

The British troops beat off the Turkish horsemen and infantry 
and endeavored to reach the river, which was over a mile to the 
rear of the Turkish intrenched forces at Horseshoe Marsh. Ex- 
hausted with weariness, consumed by a feverish thirst, the gallant 
troops were swept by showers of shrapnel from heavy Turkish 
batteries stationed near the Kut just when they were near- 
ing the longed-for river that promised relief for their suffer- 
ings. It was impossible for them to continue in that unprotected 
position, and reluctantly the troops turned back from the inviting 
waterway and struggled back to the Suwada Marsh, where Gen- 
eral Delamain's force was concentrated. The filthy marsh water 
was undrinkable, but it could be used to cool the superheated 
jackets of the guns and thus keep them in a condition for action. 
After nearly fourteen hours of continuous fighting and march- 
ing the troops at last had an opportunity to take a short and 
much-needed rest. 

At 5 p. m. a wireless message was received from General 
Townshend ordering a combined attack on the Turkish lines 
around Horseshoe Marsh. General Delamain's column was 
ordered to move forward to the rear of the enemy's position, 
while General Fry's column, which had been moving toward the 
Turkish center, was directed to hold back until Delamain had 
reached the appointed place. 

Behind Nuredin Pasha's main position the two brigades under 

General Delamain and General Houghton, skirting the Suwada 

Marsh, struggled once more to gain the river. Suddenly, out 

of the dust clouds that obscured the view for any distance, 

appeared a Turkish column about a mile to the west marching 

almost parallel with the British force, but a little behind it. It 
BB— War St 4 



432 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

is related by one who was present that this sudden appearance 
of the enemy so close at hand, and marching in the open, had 
such a stimulating and heartening effect on the exhausted and 
thirst-stricken British troops that they forgot for a time all about 
the river toward which they were eagerly pressing, and, dash- 
ing forward, charged the Turks with the bayonet and routed 
them before they had time to recover from their surprise or 
could fire more than a few wild shots. The British captured 
all the enemy guns and pursued the enemy fleeing toward the 
river, shooting them down as they scattered, and only ceasing 
their destructive work when darkness fell and the few living 
Turks had escaped over their bridge of boats on the river. 

The combat here had not lasted more than an hour, and the 
British brigades, now that the excitement was over, were too 
exhausted to proceed any farther and bivouacked on the ground 
near the scene of their victory. 

It was hopeless now to attempt to continue the encircling 
movement, which was started at five o'clock, owing to the dark- 
ness and the condition of the men. Some time during the night 
Nuredin Pasha, having evacuated his fortified position, moved 
his troops across the Tigris tc the southern bank and, by forced 
marches, reached Shat-el-Hai. From there he proceeded to 
Azizie, where, for the defense of Bagdad, extensive fortifications 
had been constructed. It was evident from the rapidity of his 
movements that the Turkish commander was afraid of being 
overtaken by the British forces, for in two days he had marched 
his men sixty-five miles toward Bagdad. 

The Turkish forces made good their retreat, and so General 
Townshend, who had accomplished some remarkable successes 
at the beginning of the battle, was deprived of a decisive victory. 
He had evidently planned the battle on the impulse of the mr* 
ment and when it was impossible to secure an adequate water 
supply. His men fought with courage and determination, but 
tormented by thirst and worn out from loss of sleep it was physi- 
cally impossible for them to accomplish more than they did. It 
was a bitter blow to General Townshend that the Turks had been 
able to retreat in good order. The importance of such a vie- 



BATTLE OP KUT-EL-AMARA 433 

tory could not be overestimated. It meant the conquering of 
entire Mesopotamia as far as Bagdad, and the moral effect of 
such a success on the Arabs and tribesmen would have greatly 
raised British prestige in that region. 

An attempt was made to give chase to the fleeing Turks on 
the river during the night, when Lieutenant Commander Cook* 
son, the senior naval officer, with his ship, the destroyer Comet, 
and several other smaller vessels set out after them. The Turks 
fired on the boats from the shore, and the Comet, which had t 
steamed in close to the bank, was assailed with hand grenades 
by the enemy. A strong, thick wire had been stretched across 
the river, attached to sunken dhows, and it became necessary to 
remove these obstructions before an advance could be made. A 
vivid description of the heroic death of Lieutenant Commander 
Edgar Christopher Cookson, D. S. O., R. N., who won the Vic- 
toria Cross for his bravery at this time, is given in a letter home 
by one of his crew of the destroyer Comet: "Just as it was get- 
ting dark our seaplane dropped on the water alongside of us 
and told Lieutenant Commander Cookson that the Turks were 
on the run, but that a little farther up the river they had placed 
obstructions across, so that we could not pass without clearing 
it away. This turned out to be the liveliest time that I have had 
since we began fighting. It was very dark when we started off, 
the Comet leading, and the Shaitan and Sumana following. When 
we got around the head of land the Turks opened fire with rifles, 
but we steamed up steadily to the obstruction. The Turks were 
then close enough to us to throw hand bombs, but luckily none 
reached the deck of our ship. 

"During all this time we weren't asleep. We fired at them 
with guns and rifles, and the Shaitan and Sumana were also 
blazing away. Our troops ashore said it was a lively sight to 
see all our guns working. 

"We found that the obstruction was a big wire across the 
river, with boats made fast to it. An attempt to sink the center 
dhow of the obstruction by gunfire having failed, Lieutenant 
Commander Cookson ordered the Comet to be placed alongside 
and himself jumped on to the dhow with an ax and tried to cut 



484 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

the wire hawsers connecting it with two other craft forming 
the obstruction. He was shot in seven places and when we 
dragged him over his last words were : 'I am done ; it is a failure. 
Return at full speed!' He never spoke afterward. We had six 
wounded, but none seriously/ 9 

The adventure which had cost the British the loss of a brave 
officer was not a failure, as this writer concludes : "We must have 
frightened the Turks, because on going up the river again about 
daybreak (after we had buried our commander) we found the 
Turks had cleared out and retired farther up the river. So we 
steamed up after them and when we reached Kut-el-Amara we 
found the army there." The friendly but keen rivalry that ex- 
isted between the two services is amusingly shown in the sea- 
man's final comment, 'This is the first place that the army has 
got ahead of the navy/ 9 

A little later the gunboats were ordered to pursue the fleeing 
Turks. The Shaitan and the Sumana grounded on uncharted 
mud banks and were unable to proceed, but the Comet continued 
on its way and forced the Turks to leave several dhows behind 
them laden with military stores, provisions, and ammunition. 

Kut-el-Amara, the Arab town which General Townshend was 
to make famous in history, was occupied by the British troops on 
September 11, 1915. It is situated on a bend of the Tigris and is 
120 miles from Bagdad by road, and 220 miles by water. The 
retreating Turkish army made a stand a little to the west of 
Azizi, which is forty miles to Bagdad by road and about four 
times that distance by water. The object of the Turks in taking 
up a position at this place, it was discovered later, was to enable 
their engineers to prepare near Bagdad the most elaborate and 
scientifically arranged system of fortifications that had so far 
been constructed in Mesopotamia. 

When the British Expeditionary Force began to threaten the 
"City of the Caliphs," it was evident that the Turks had found it 
possible to extend the Bagdad railway line, by means of which 
Nuredin Pasha received fresh troops to reenforce his army, 
brought hurriedly down out of Syria. For when the British force 
reached Azizi on October 13, 1915, it was known that the Turkish 



BATTLE OF KUT-EL-AMARA 435 

commander had recently received some thousands of fresh troops. 
Their presence in that part of Mesopotamia, at that time, could 
only be explained on the ground that with the aid of German 
engineers the Turks had been enabled to complete railway com- 
munications, an important fact that seems to have been unsus- 
pected by the British military authorities, and which might lead 
to serious consequences for the already outnumbered British 
force. Until the beginning of November General Townshend's 
division remained here, part of the Turkish force being in- 
trenched about four miles up the river. While it was expected 
that at any hour the Turks would attack, they did not attempt 
the offensive with any strong force, but skirmishes between the 
opposing troops were of frequent and almost daily occurrenoe. 
The British infantry were busy many days digging intrench- 
ments, and every preparation was made by the British general 
to make his position impregnable. With shore batteries and a 
number of armed steamers and armored boats on the river, it 
was hoped that the Turks would make a grand attack. Why they 
did not when they had four times the number of men as the 
British was inexplainable. Some such move was necessary if 
they hoped to restore the confidence of their Arab allies, which 
was said to be wavering. The recent British victory had, perhaps, 
made the Turkish commander doubtful of his troops, for no 
serious offensive against the British position was attempted. 

About the middle of October, 1915, General Townshend re* 
ceived some reenf orcements who had fought their way along the 
river, constantly harassed by Bedouins and hostile tribesmen, 
reaching the British position in a thoroughly exhausted condition. 
Even with the arrival of the reenf orcements General Townshend's 
force numbered little more than a complete division, and a small 
reserve. During the stay at Azizi it was rumored that a large 
contingent of troops was on its way from India to strengthen the 
force at this place. 

As time passed and nothing more was heard of these 
promised reenforcements the small British army settled down 
with grim determination to make the best of their situation, 
but there was a general feeling among them that the Government 



436 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

had not acted fairly by them in not sending help. It was evident 
that the Indian and British Governments were imperfectly in- 
formed as to the strength of the enemy's forces and of the means 
whereby they could fill up the ranks when depleted by battle. 
This is the only explanation or excuse that could be made. At no 
time did General Townshend's force number more than four 
brigades, which, under the circumstances, was wholly inadequate 
to accomplish the conquest of Bagdad. 

General Townshend being thrown on his own resources pro- 
ceeded to act with extreme caution, for the whole fate of the 
British Expeditionary Force hung in the balance. It was not a 
time to take venturesome risks, for he could not spare a man. 
The Turks, fortunately, showed no disposition to attack in force, 
but they resorted to methods of guerrilla warfare. 

The Turks had only left one brigade to hold their advanced 
position, the remainder joining the forces established in the new 
fortifications near Bagdad. 

The rear guard remaining near Azizi did not allow the British 
to forget their presence. They were well equipped with guns 
and at frequent intervals sent shells into the British camp with- 
out, however, doing much damage. Along the river ihey were 
strong enough to hold back the British gunboats. For a time 
General Townshend pursued the policy of watchful waiting, but 
one dark night toward the close of October, 1915, the opportunity 
arrived for an operation which promised success. Two brigades 
were sent out to make a long detour, with the object of getting 
behind the Turkish position. This, it was expected, would take 
most of the night. At sunrise it was proposed that another 
brigade should make a frontal attack on the enemy. The Turks, 
however, were not to be caught napping. Their outposts, far 
flung into the desert, soon gave warning of the attempted British 
enveloping movement, and they were in full retreat with most of 
their stores and guns before the British force could reach their 
main position. The Turkish retreat in the face of superior num- 
bers was the logical thing to do under the circumstances, and 
from the manner in which the movement was conducted it was 
evident that it had beev prepared for in advance. The brigades 



BATTLE OF CTESIPHON 437 

of British and Indian troops that had been sent forward to make 
a frontal attack on the Turkish position now embarked on the 
miscellaneous flotilla of boats on the river to pursue the retreat- 
ing foe. The attempt was not successful, for, owing to the condi- 
tion of the river which abounded in mud banks not down on the 
chart, the British boats were constantly sticking fast in the 
mud or grounding on shoals. Such slow progress was made that 
the pursuit, if such it could be called, was abandoned. 

British seaplanes and aeroplanes meanwhile had been scouting 
around Bagdad and keeping a watchful eye on the Turkish lines 
of communication that extended up the river toward the Caucasus 
heights, and across the desert in the direction of Syria. The 
difficult task set before the small British force was to break its 
way through to Bagdad, where it was hoped it would be joined by 
the advanced columns of the Russian army in the Caucasus. 
Early in November, 1915, General Townshend knew that a Rus- 
sian advanced column was rapidly forcing its way down the 
border of Persia by Lake Urumiah. In a more southerly direction 
a second column was on the march to the city of Hamadan, 250 
miles from Bagdad. It was hoped that the small British force 
would smash the Turks at Bagdad and the GermanoPersian 
Gendarmes Corps be vanquished at Hamadan, after which it 
would be no difficult task for the troops of Sir John Nixon to link 
up with the army of the Grand Duke Nicholas. These far too 
sanguine hopes were not destined to be fulfilled. 



CHAPTER LIII 

BATTLE OP CTESIPHON 

GENERAL TOWNSHEND having captured the village of Jeur 
on November 19, 1915, marched against Nuredin Pasha's 
main defenses which had been constructed near the ruins of 
Ctesiphon, eighteen miles from Bagdad. Ctesiphon at the pres- 
ent time is a large village on the Tigris, once a suburb of ancient 



438 



THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 




THE RUSSIAN ADVANCE THROUGH PERSIA 



BATTLE OF CTESIPHON 439 

Seleucia, and the winter capital of the Parthian kings. The vicin- 
ity is of great historic interest About thirteen centuries ago 
Chosroes, the great Persian emperor, erected a vast and splendid 
palace, said to be the greatest on earth in that period, and of 
which the ruins are still standing near the marshy edge of the 
river. Neither the ravages of time, nor' the devastations of the 
destructive Mongols who swept the country in ages past could 
obliterate this palatial memorial to the genius of Persian archi- 
tects. The ruins of the palace at Ctesiphon contain the greatest 
vaulted room in the world, and its battered walls, grand in decay, 
stand to-day an anduring monument to the invincible power of 
Islam in the days of Mohammed. For one of the first of the well- 
known achievements of the army of the Arabian prophet was the 
capture of Ctesiphon and the burning and despoiling of the 
palace of the Persian kings. 

Nuredin Pasha was well aware when he selected his defensive 
position near the ruins of this memorial to the valor of Islam in 
ancient days, that every Turk, Arab, and tribesman of his troops 
was familiar with the story, and he doubtless hoped that its 
memory might inspire the descendants of the Prophet's army to 
fresh deeds of valor for the honor of Islam. 

Around this ruin the Turks had constructed their position, on 
the right bank of the river and on the left For miles around the 
country was perfectly flat and devoid of cover of any description. 
A network of deep and narrow trenches stretched back to within 
a short distance of the River Dialah, six miles to the rear, which 
flows into the Tigris at this point The earth from the trenches 
had been carried to the rear, and there were no embankments 
or parapets of any kind. Along the entire front a thick barbed- 
wire fence had been set up. 

The hard-fought action at Ctesiphon must rank as one of the 
greatest battles in which the Indo-British army has ever been 
engaged. The troops were in an emaciated condition through 
constant fighting, first in excessively hot weather, and afterward 
suffering intensely from the cold, which made the nights unen- 
durable at this time of the year in Mesopotamia. In such a 
physically weakened condition did the Indo-British troops engage 



440 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

the vastly stronger forces of Nuredin Pasha at Ctesiphon. An 
officer who participated in the battle describes in a letter home 
some of the striking incidents of that important action. 

"Morning of the 22d of November, 1915, found the troops in 
readiness to attack, stretched out on the wide plain facing the 
Ctesiphon position, the troops detailed for the frontal attack 
nearest the river. As soon as dawn broke the advance com- 
menced. The left of the columns marching against the enemy's 
flank were faintly visible on the horizon. The gunboats opened 
fire against the enemy's trenches close to the left bank. Th« 
field artillery drew in and pounded the ground where they 
imagined the trenches must be, but there was no reply, nor 
any sound of movement at Ctesiphon until the lines of advancing 
infantry got within 2,000 yards of the wire entanglements. 
Then, as by signal, the whole of the Turkish line broke into a 
roar of fire, and we knew that the struggle had commenced. 

"Under the heavy artillery fire the attack pushed in toward 
the enemy with a steadiness which could not have been beaten on 
parade until effective rifle range was reached, where a pause was 
made to build up the strength. The fight for the trenches from 
now on until the British succeeded in reaching the first line of 
trenches baffles description. The gallant advance across the open 
ground, the building up of the firing line, the long pause under 
murderous rifle fire, while devoted bodies of men went forward 
to cut the wire, the final rush and the hand-to-hand fighting in 
the trenches, are stories which have been told before. No de- 
scription could do justice to the gallantry of the men who car- 
ried it out. 

"Meanwhile, the flank attack had crushed the enemy's left and 
driven it back on its second line a mile or so to the rear. Courage 
and determination carried the day, and by the afternoon the whole 
of the front Turkish position, and part of the second line was in 
the hands of the British. The intensity of the fighting, however, 
did not abate. The Turks pressed in counterattacks at several 
points from their second position on which they had fallen back. 
Twelve Turkish guns were captured, taken again by the enemy, 
recaptured by the British, and retaken finally by the Turks, and 



BATTLE OF CTESIPHON 441 

so the fighting went on until a merciful darkness fell, and, as if 
by mutual agreement, the fire of both sides, too weary for more, 
died away." 

Nuredin Pasha's forces were numerically far superior to the 
British. General Townshend had only four brigades, while the 
Turkish commander had four divisions, and was much stronger 
in artillery. 

The Turkish commander, who was well informed as to the 
strength or weakness of the British force, may well have looked 
forward to an easy victory. But the many successes gained by 
British arms during the campaign in Mesopotamia had not failed 
to impress the Turkish troops and the tribesmen, their allies, 
with a wholesome respect for British valor. If General Towns- 
hend had been reenforced by another division that might easily 
have been spared to him from the army that had been in training 
in India for ten months previous, he could have smashed the 
Turks at Ctesiphon and conquered Mesopotamia. As it was, the 
British victory was all but complete. An entire Turkish division 
was destroyed. They took 1,600 prisoners and large quantities 
of arms and ammunition. But these successes had been dearly 
won. Some of the British battalions lost half their men. Ac- 
cording to the best authorities the British casualties totaled 
4,567, of whom 643 were killed, 3,330 wounded, and 594 men not 
accounted for. According to the Turkish accounts of the Battle 
of Ctesiphon, which emanated from Constantinople, the British 
had 170,000 men in action, and their losses exceeded 5,000. This 
estimate of General Townshend's strength was far from th<a 
truth. At no time did the British commander's troops number 
more than 25,000, and 16,000 men would be a liberal estimate of 
his striking force. 

A graphic description of what followed the battle is furnished 
by a letter home, written by an officer who participated in the 
struggle. 

"The cold of the night, want of water, the collecting of the 
wounded, gave little rest to the men, though many snatched a 
few hours' sleep in the trenches among the dead. Dawn of No- 
vember 23, 1915, broke with a tearing wind and a dust storm 



442 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

which obscured the landscape for some hours, and then the air, 
becoming clearer, allowed us to take in the scene of the fight. 
Whatever losses we suffered the Turks must have suffered even 
more severely. They had fought desperately to the end, knowing 
that to attempt to escape over the open ground was to court in- 
stant death. The trenches were full of their dead, and here and 
there a little pile of men showed where a lucky shell had fallen. 
Ctesiphon loomed through the dust before us, still intact for all 
the stream of shell which had passed it, for our gunners had been 
asked not to hit the ancient monument. 

'The early part of the morning was occupied in clearing to the 
rear the transport which had come up to the first line during the 
night. At about ten o'clock the air cleared and the enemy's 
artillery began to boom fitfully. Their guns from across the river 
began to throw heavy shells over us, and as the light grew better 
it developed into an artillery duel which lasted throughout the 
day. General Townshend during the afternoon parked his trans- 
port two miles to the rear, and while holding the front line of the 
Turkish position swung his right back to cover his park. In the 
late afternoon the artillery fire briskened, and long lines of Turk- 
ish infantry could be seen in the half light advancing against the 
British. The first attack was delivered against our left just after 
dark with a heavy burst of fire, and from then until four o'clock 
the next morning the Turkish force, strengthened by fresh troops 
that had arrived from Bagdad, flung themselves against us and 
attempted to break the line. On three separate occasions during 
the night were infantry columns thrown right up against the 
position at different points, and each effort was heralded by wild 
storms of artillery and infantry fire. The line held, and before 
dawn had broken the Turks had withdrawn, subsequently to re- 
form on their third position on the banks of the Dialah River." 

By November 24, 1915, the casualties had been evacuated to 
the ships eight miles to the rear. The British force remained on 
the position which they had won for another day and then with- 
drew toward Kut-el-Amara. 

General Townshend's force reached the Eut on or about 
December 5, 1915, having fought some rear-guard actions on the 



BATTLE OP CTESIPHON 448 

way, and lost several hundred men. The news had been skillfully 
spread about the country that the Turks had won a great victory 
at Ctesiphon, in proof of which it was known that the British 
were retreating, and that the Turkish forces were in pursuit. 
These facts had the usual effect on the Arabs, who had been 
friendly to the British, and who now deserted them to join forces 
with the Turks. For the wily nomads are ever ready to go over 
to the side which seems to be winning, for then there is promise 
of much loot There is no profit in aiding lost causes or the 
weaker side. 

An officer describing General Townshend's retreat on Kut-eU 
Amara through a country swarming with hostile Arabs has this 
to say: "It speaks well for the spirit of the troops under his 
command that, in the face of overwhelming numbers the retire- 
ment was carried out with cheerfulness and steadiness beyond 
all praise, and not even the prisoners, of whom 1,600 had been 
captured at Ctesiphon, were allowed to fall into the hands of the 
enemy. The country around is perfectly flat, covered with short 
grass or shrub, though here and there old irrigation channels 
make it difficult for carts or motor cars to negotiate. The opera- 
tions above the Eut were carried out by land, though ships bore 
an important part in bringing up supplies and the thousand and 
one things required by an army in the field. An enemy report 
was published to the effect that the Turks had captured one of 
our armored trains. It will not be giving away a military secret 
when I say that no railway of any sort exists south of Bagdad." 

How closely General Townshend was pressed by the enemy in 
his retreat to Eut-el-Amara is evident from an officer's letter: 
"We found the Turks in camps sitting all around us. We had to 
fight a rear-guard action all day and marched twenty-seven miles 
before we halted. After lying down for two or three hours, we 
inarched on fifteen miles more to within four miles of the Eut. 
Here we had to stop for a time because the infantry were too 
tired to move." 



444 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

CHAPTER LIV 

STAND AT KUT-EL-AMARA — ATTEMPTS 
AT RELIEF 

KUT-EL-AMARA, where General Townshend and his troops 
were so long besieged, stands on the left bank of the Tigris, 
almost at the water's level, with sloping sand hills rising to the 
north. The desert beyond the river is broken here and there by 
deep nullahs which, when they are filled with water after a rain- 
fall, are valuable defensive features of the country. Five miles 
from the town, and surrounding it on all sides but the waterside, 
is a series of field forts of no great value against heavy artillery. 
Had the Turks been equipped with large guns such as the 
Germans employed in Europe these fortifications would have 
been shattered to pieces in a few hours. But the forts proved 
useful. 

The spaces between them were filled with strong barbed-wire 
entanglements and carefully prepared intrenchments. To the 
southeast the position was further strengthened by a wide 
marshy district that lies just outside the fortified line. General 
Townshend was holding a position that was about fifteen miles 
in circumference, to adequately protect which it would have been 
necessary for him to have twice as many men as were at his dis- 
posal. For one of the lessons that has been learned in the Great 
War is that 5,000 men, including reserves, are required to the 
mile to properly defend a position. General Townshend's occu- 
pation of the Kut was therefore precarious, and he could only 
hope to hold out until the arrival of reenforcements which had 
been held back by the Turks when they were within sight of the 
British general's position. 

The Turkish success in checking the British advance and in 
bottling up General Townshend's troops in Kut-el-Amara had 
inspired them with hope and courage and the town was subjected 
to almost constant bombardment. Confident of the outcome the 
Turks fought with considerable bravery. 



STAND AT KUT-EL-AMARA 445 

It was known to the Turks that reenf orcements had been sent 
to the relief of the British commander, and they hoped to capture 
the Kut before these arrived. On December 8, 1915, they shelled 
the British position all day ; the bombardment was continued on 
the 9th and they made some desultory attacks on all sides. From 
the British point of view the attitude of the Arabs at this time 
was satisfactory. General Townshend received encouraging 
news that a relieving force was pushing its way rapidly to 
his aid. 

On December 10, 1915, the Kut was again heavily bombarded 
by the Turks and an attack was developed against the northern 
front of the position, which however was not pressed. On the 
day following the bombardment was continued. Two attacks 
made on the northern front of the British position were repulsed, 
the enemy losing many men. 

December 11, 1915, the bombardment was renewed. The 
Turks reported the capture of Sheik Saad on the line of retreat, 
twenty-five miles east of the Kut. They also gave out a state- 
ment that the British had lost 700 men in this fight. 

Heavy musketry fire marked the Turkish offensive on Decem- 
ber 12, 1915. They attacked on the same day a river village on 
the right bank of the Tigris, but were repulsed with heavy casu- 
alties. It was estimated by the British commander that the 
Turks lost at least 1,000 men during this abortive attack. 

British losses at the Eut since their return totaled 1,127, in- 
cluding 200 deaths, 49 from disease. Reenf orcements were con- 
stantly joining the Turkish besieging army, and it was estimated 
that in the first weeks of December, 1915, they had been strength- 
ened by 20,000 men. Every day the enemy's ring of steel became 
stronger, while the British were in such a position that if the Kut 
became untenable they could not retreat with any hope of success. 
If forced out into the open, there would be nothing left for them 
to do but surrender. 

A sortie of British and Indian troops was made on December 
17, 1915, who surprised the enemy in the advanced trenches, 
killed 30, and took 11 prisoners and returned without suffering 
any casualties* 



446 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

On or about this date, on the Sinai Peninsula, a British reo 
onnoitering party routed a hostile band of Arabs near Matruh, 
losing 15 men killed and 15 wounded, 3 of whom were officers. 
The Arabs had 35 killed and 17 taken prisoners. 

On December 24, 1915, the Turks having made a breach in the 
north bastion of one of the Kut forts succeeded in forcing their 
way in, but were repulsed, leaving 200 dead. On Christmas Day 
there was fierce fighting again at this point, when the Turks once 
more entered through the breach and were driven out with heavy 
losses. 

The garrison consisting of the Oxford Light Infantry and 
the 103d, being reenforced by the Norfolk Regiment and 104th 
Pioneers, drove the Turks back over their second line of trenches 
and reoccupied the bastion. The total British losses in the fight- 
ing on Christmas Day were 71 killed, of whom three were officers, 
one missing, and 309 wounded. It was estimated that the en- 
emy lost about 700. 

The Turks continued to bombard the Kut almost hourly, but 
the only serious damage effected by their fire was when on De- 
cember 30, 1915, shells burst through the roof of the British 
hospital and wounded a few men. 

General Aylmer's leading troops under General Younghusband 
of the British force sent to relieve the besieged army at the Kut 
left Ali Gherbi on January 4, 1916. Following up both banks of 
the Tigris, British cavalry came in contact with the enemy on 
the following day. These advanced Turkish troops were on the 
right bank of the river and few in number, but farther on at 
Sheik Saad, the enemy in considerable strength occupied both 
sides of the river. On January 6, 1916, the British infantry at- 
tacked and then dug itself in in front of the Turkish position on 
the right bank. In the morning of the following day by adroit 
maneuvering, the British cavalry succeeded in getting around to 
the rear of the enemy's trenches on the right bank and destroyed 
nearly a whole battalion, taking over 550 prisoners. 

Among the number of captives were sixteen officers. Several 
mountain guns were also taken. The British casualties were 
heavy, especially among the infantry. 



STAND AT KUT-EL-AMARA 447 

The remainder of General Aylmer's force having advanced 
from Ali Gherbi, January 6, 1916, fought a simultaneous action 
on the left bank of the river while the action on the right bank 
just described was in progress. 

Early in the afternoon of this day the British forces were sub- 
jected to heavy rifle and Maxim fire from the Turkish trenches 
1,200 yards away. The hazy, dusty atmosphere made it difficult 
to see with any accuracy the enemy's defenses. Their numerous 
trenches were most carefully concealed. Toward evening the 
Turkish cavalry attempted an enveloping move against the Brit- 
ish right, but coming under the fire of the British artillery, that 
move failed. Finding the resistance of the Turkish infantry too 
strong, the British troops abandoned any further offensive and 
intrenched in the positions they had won. Later in the evening 
the Turks suddenly evacuated their defenses and retired. A 
heavy rainfall hindered the British commander from pursuing, 
and a stop was made at Sheik Saad to enable him to get his 
wounded away. The Turks finding that General Aylmer did 
not pursue, fell back on Es Sinn, from which they had been ousted 
by General Townshend in September of the previous year. The 
Turkish version of the Battle of Sheik Saad estimated the Brit- 
ish losses at 3,000. 

On January 12, 1916, the Turks advanced from Es Sinn to the 
Wadi, a stream that flows into the Tigris about twenty-four miles 
from Kut-el-Amara. Here the British relieving force came in 
touch with the enemy on January 13, 1916, and a hotly contested 
struggle ensued that lasted all dpy long. The British force con- 
sisted of three divisions. One of these, occupying a position on 
the south bank of the Tigris, was being opposed by a column 
under General Kemball. On the northern bank General Aylmer's 
troops engaged two divisions in the neighborhood of the Wadi. 

On January 14, 1916, the Turkish army began a general retreat 
and General Aylmer moved his headquarters and transport for- 
ward to the mouth of the Wadi. On the day following the whole 
of the Wadi position was captured by the British relieving force, 
and the Turkish rear guard again took up a position at Es Sinn. 
It was reported that German officers were with the Turkish force. 

CC— War St 4 



448 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

Further military operations against the Turks were delayed by 
storms of great violence that continued for about ten days. Gen- 
eral Ayhner found it impossible to move his troops through the 
heavy mire, and not until January 21, 1916, could he advance and 
attack the Turks who after their retreat occupied a position near 
Felahie, about twenty-three miles from Kut-el-Amara. Here a 
brisk engagement was fought in the midst of torrents of rain 
that greatly hindered operations. The struggle was indecisive. 
Owing to the floods. General Aylmer could not attack on the fol- 
lowing day, but took up a position about 1,300 yards from the 
enemy's trenches. 

Mr. Edmund Candler, the well-known English writer, who was 
with the British troops operating on the Tigris, furnishes some 
striking details of the engagement. His picturesque description 
of what took place at this point in General Aylmer's advance to 
relieve the besieged army at the Kut, shows the desperate char- 
acter of the Turkish resistance : 

'The Turks were holding a strong position between the left 
bank of the Tigris and the Suweki Marsh, four miles out of our 
camp. It was a bottle-neck position, with a mile and a half of 
front : there was no getting around them, and the only way was 
to push through. 

"We intrenched in front of them. On' January 20, 1916, we 
bombarded them with all our guns and again on the morning of 
the 21st preparatory to a frontal attack. 

"At dawn the rifle fire began, and the tap-tap-tap of the 
Maxims, steady and continuous, with vibrations like two men 
wrestling in an alternate grip, tightening and relaxing/ 9 It was 
not light enough for the gunners to see the registering marks, 
but at a quarter before eight in the morning the bombardment 
began. "The thunderous orchestra of the guns shook the earth 
and rent the skies. Columns of earth rose over the Turkish 
lines, and pillars of smoke, green and white and brown and 
yellow, and columns of water, where a stray shell — Turkish no 
doubt— plunged into the Tigris. 

"The enemy lines must have been poor cover, and I was glad 
we had the bulk of the guns on our side. All this shell fire should 



STAND AT KUT-EL-AMARA 449 

have been a covering roof to our advance, but the Turk it ap- 
pears was not skulking as he ought. 

"The B's came by in support and occupied an empty trench. 
They were laughing and joking, but it was a husky kind of fun, 
and there was no gladness in it, for everyone knew that we were 
in for a bloody day. One of them tripped upon a telegraph wire. 
'Not wounded yet!' a pal cried. Just then another stumbled to 
an invisible stroke and did not rise. A man ahead was singing 
nervously, That's not the girl I saw you with at Brighton/ 

"I went on to the next trench where a sergeant showed me his 
bandolier. A sharp-nosed bullet had gone through three rounds 
of ammunition and stuck in the fourth, during the last rush 
forward. 

"I could conceive of the impulse that carried one over those 
last two hundred yards — but as an impulse of a lifetime; to 
most of my friends this kind of thing was becoming their daily 
bread. The men I was with were mostly a new draft. I could 
see they were afraid, but they were brave. Word was passed 
along to advance to the next bit of cover. 

"The bombardment had ceased. The rifle and Maxim fire 
ahead was continuous, like hail on a corrugated roof of iron. The 
B's would soon be in it. I listened eagerly for some intermis- 
sion, but it did not relax or recede, and I knew that the Turks 
must be holding on. The bullets became thicker — an ironic whis- 
tle, a sucking noise, a gluck like a snipe leaving mud, the squeal 
and rattle of shrapnel. 

"I found the brigade headquarters. We had got into the 
Turkish trenches, the general told me, but by that time we were 
sadly thin, and we had been bombed-out. At noon the rain came 
down, putting the crown upon depression. All day and all night 
it poured, and one thought of the wounded, shivering in the cold 
and mud, waiting for help. At night they were brought in on 
slow, jolting transport carts." 

The writer met a boy, the only officer of his regiment who had 
come out of the trenches alive and unwounded, and who had a 
bullet through his pocket and another through his helmet. He 
was in a dazed state of wonder at finding himself still alive. 



450 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

"It was a miracle that anyone had lived through that fire in 
the attack and retreat, but the boy had been in the Turkish 
trenches and held them for an hour and a quarter. Oddments of 
other regiments had got through, two British and two Indian. 
I saw their dead being carried out during the truce of the next 
day." 

The boy officer's regiment had been the first to penetrate the 
enemy's trenches. As he dropped into the trench a comrade next 
to him was struck in the back of the head and dropped forward 
cm his shoulder. "I saw eight bayonets and rifles all pointing to 
me/' said the boy officer describing his experiences. "I saw the 
men's faces, and I was desperately scared. I expected to go 
down in the next two yards. I felt the lead in my stomach. I 
thought I was done for. I don't know why they didn't fire- They 
must have been frightened by my sudden appearance. I let off 
my revolver at them and it kicked up an awful lot of dust" 

The British troops that had charged the Turkish trenches were 
not supplied with bombs, but the enemy were well equipped with 
them. Consequently the British were gradually driven down 
the trench from traverse to traverse, in the direction of the river, 
where they encountered another bombing party that was coming 
up a trench at right angles. The British were placed in a des- 
perate position, being jammed in densely between these attacks, 
and literally squeezed over the parapet. In evacuating the 
trench they were subjected to a deadly fire in which they lost 
more men than in the attack. 

The uniform flatness of the terrain in this region and entire 
absence of cover for the attacker, whether the movement be 
frontal or enveloping, was responsible for the heavy losses the 
British incurred in this engagement. Here there were no pro- 
tecting villages, hedges, or banks. A swift, headlong rush that 
could be measured in seconds was impossible under the circum- 
stances. At 2000 yards the British infantry came under rifle 
fire, and had no communication trenches to curtail the zone of 
fire. An armistice was concluded on January 21, 1916, for a 
few hours, to allow for the removal of the wounded and the 
burial of the dead. In forty-eight hours the Tigris had risen as 



STAND AT KUT-EL-AMARA 



451 





KOWEIT-=XV^ 



=i& 



PERSIANS 



THE BRITISH CAMPAIGN IN MESOPOTAMIA 



452 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

high as seven feet in some places and the country around was 
under water, which effectually prevented all movements of troops 
by land. 

General Townshend meanwhile, besieged at Kut-el-Amara, 
continued cheerfully to repel attacks and to await the arrival of 
the relieving force. He was well supplied with stores, and there 
was no fear of a famine. He described his troops at this time 
as being in the best of spirits. Evidently he was not in a posi- 
tion to be of any assistance to the relieving force, whose ad- 
vance had been delayed by the storms. At the close of January, 
1916, he reported that the enemy had evacuated their trenches 
on the land side of the Eut defenses, and had retired to a posi- 
tion about a mile away from the British intrenchments. 

The floods of January, 1916, were a distinct benefit to General 
Townshend, for the Turks, intrenched in a loop of the Tigris, 
were driven out by the deluge and compelled to seek higher 
ground. 

In the first days of February, 1916, Sir Percy Lake, who had 
succeeded Sir John Nixon to the chief command of the British 
forces in Mesopotamia, dispatched General Brooking from Na- 
sariyeh with a column up the River Shatt-el-Har, a branch of the 
Tigris, to make a reconnaissance. On February 7, 1916, on his 
way back, General Brooking was attacked by hostile Arabs near 
Butaniyeh. He was also attacked by tribesmen who had been 
considered friendly to the British and who issued from villages 
ulong the route. There was some sharp fighting in which the 
tosses were heavy on both sides. The British had 873 men 
killed or wounded, while the Arab dead numbered 636. On the 
9th a small punitive expedition was sent against the treacherous 
tribesmen, and four Arab villages were destroyed. The incident 
offered another striking proof that no dependence could be 
placed on the faith of the Arabs. 

General Aylmer finding, after his failure at Felahie, that his 
force was too weakened physically to attempt to break through 
to relieve the beleaguered division at the Eut, decided to intrench 
in the position then occupied by his troops and to await the re* 
enforcements which were on the way. 



STAND AT KUT-EL-AMARA 453 

On February 17-19, 1916, hostile aeroplanes dropped bombs 
on the Kut, without doing any damage, General Townshend re- 
ported. For two and a half months the British army had been 
bottled up in this river town, and the Turks had tried every 
means to dislodge them. 

On February 22, 1916, British columns under General Aylmer 
advanced up the river on the right bank to Um-el-Arak, occu- 
pying a position which commanded the Turkish camp behind 
their trenches at El Henna, a marsh on the left bank. At day- 
break the British guns opened a heavy bombardment on the 
enemy's camp across the Tigris, which at this point makes a 
sharp bend to the north. The Turks were evidently taken by 
surprise, for a lively stampede followed. 

On March 6, 1916, General Aylmer marched up the Tigris to 
the Turkish position at Es Sinn, which is only seven miles from 
Kut-el-Amara. This is a Turkish stronghold and was carried by 
General Townshend on his way to the Kut. The position had 
been greatly strengthened since that time, that General Aylmer 
could hardly have hoped to succeed in driving the enemy out. 
But the effort had to be made, and resulted in a failure. The 
enemy lost heavily according to the British accounts, while their 
own casualties were unimportant The Turkish version of the 
struggle was as follows : 

"On the morning of March 8, 1916, the enemy attacked from 
the right bank of the Tigris with his main force. The fighting 
lasted until sunset. Assisted by reenforcements hastily brought 
to his wing by his river fleet, he succeeded in occupying a por- 
tion of our trenches, but the latter were completely recaptured 
by a heroic counterattack by our reserves, the enemy being then 
driven back to his old positions/' 

Owing to the lack of water, General Aylmer was forced to 
fall back on the Tigris. On March 10, 1916, information reached 
the Tigris corps that the Turks had occupied an advanced posi- 
tion on the river. The following day a British column was sent 
to turn the enemy out. The British infantry daringly assaulted 
the position and bayoneted a considerable number of the Turks, 
after which the column withdrew. 



PART XI— THE WAR IN THE AIR 



CHAPTER LV 

DEVELOPMENT OF THE STRATEGY AND 
TACTICS OP AIR FIGHTING 

THE student or observer of the Great European War inevitably 
must be impressed with its impersonal character. Every- 
where masses and organizations rule supreme, and men and 
material are thought of and used as aggregations rather than as 
individuals and units for destruction and defense. The indi- 
vidual, save as he gives himself up to the great machine, every- 
where is inconspicuous, and while no less courage is demanded 
than in the days of the short-range weapons and personal com- 
bat, yet the heroic note of personal valor and initiative in most 
cases is unheard, and the individual is sunk in the mass. One 
is almost tempted to believe that chivalry and individual heroism 
no longer bulk large in the profession of arms, and that in the 
place of the knightly soldier there is the grim engineer at tele- 
scope or switchboard, touching a key to produce an explosion 
that will melt away yards of trenches and carry to eternity not 
tens but hundreds and thousands of his fellows; there are 
barriers charged with deadly currents; guns hurling tons of 
metal at a foe invisible to the gunners, whose position is 
known only by mathematical deductions from observers at a 
distance. 

All of this and much more the engineer has brought to twen- 
tieth-century warfare, and the grim fact remains that trained 
masses are used, made and destroyed in vain attempts at an 
object often unknown to the individual. 

464 



STRATEGY AND TACTICS OF AIR FIGHTING 455 

Accordingly, when we turn to the work of the aviators we pass 
back from the consideration of the mass to the individual. What- 
ever may be the airman's convictions as to the ethics of the 
Great War, always his duty and his adversary are well defined, 
and it is his personal devotion, his skill and daring, his resource- 
fulness and intrepidity that are to-day playing no small part on 
the battle fronts of Europe. He too is an engineer with scientific 
and technical knowledge and training that control the most 
delicate of machines ever at the mercy of the elements, and 
engineer and scientist have supplied him with instruments and 
equipments embodying the results of refined research and in- 
vestigation. Withal, he is a soldier, yet not one of a mere mass 
aggregation, but an individual on whose faithful and intelligent 
performance of his duty mid extreme perils the issue of a great 
cause may depend. But not entirely a free-lance, for experience 
in aerial warfare has shown that in the air, as on the ground, 
harmony of action and plan of operation avail and contribute to 
success. Consequently, with the development of military aero- 
nautics during the course of the war, the work of the flying 
corps, with training and practical experience, gradually became 
more systematic and far more efficient. 

While many of their achievements were distinctly sensational, 
involving extreme personal daring and heroism, yet usually the 
general operations were as methodical and prearranged as other 
forms of military activity carried on by the different armies on 
the ground below. No longer were single aeroplanes used ex- 
clusively, but large numbers of machines were brought to bear, 
with the pilots drilled not only in the manipulation of their indi- 
vidual machines, but to work with others in military formations 
and groups, while increased attention was paid to weapons and 
the protection of vulnerable parts. 

The flying craft cooperated constantly with the intelligence 
departments of the various staffs, observing the enemy positions, 
the distribution and movement of troops, and photographing the 
territory, and their observations were not only useful but essen- 
tial to the artillery engaged so extensively in indirect fire. As 
their work became more practical and understood, it was the 



456 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

more appreciated and its volume increased. Indeed, by the sum- 
mer of 1915 the aviation corps of the various belligerent armies 
in Europe had settled down to more or less of a routine of obser- 
vation, reconnaissance, and patrol, enlivened by bombing expedi- 
tions against the enemy and frequent aerial combats. What once 
would have been considered feats of usual intrepidity and skill 
on the part of the aviators, long since had become commonplace, 
and the standard of operation developed to a degree that at the 
beginning of the war would have been considered phenomenal. 

Reconnaissance was actively in progress on all of the battle 
fronts, combats in the air were more frequent, bombing expedi- 
tions were conducted across the frontiers, and with a constantly 
increasing supply of new and improved machines, and freshly 
trained aviators, the work progressed, so that before the end of 
1915, on the part of the Allies at least, there was probably ten 
times as much flying as at the beginning of the year. Even when 
the heavy fogs pervading the battle fields of western Europe in 
the early part of 1916 prevented other operations, reconnaissance 
was actively carried on, and this, with the routine work of deter- 
mining ranges, positions, etc., for the artillery, in active prog- 
ress, gave little quiet to the airmen. With the development of 
the war there was a constantly increasing demand on the skill of 
the aviators. 

Many of the places from which it was necessary to begin flights 
did not furnish good starting, and often the same condition held 
as regards the landing places. Furthermore, flying was attended 
with much greater danger, with a corresponding increase in 
fatalities, on account of the improvements in the antiaircraft 
guns and ranging apparatus and the skill of the gunners. 
Withal, all official reports agree in stating that the proportion of 
casualties was smaller in the air service than in other branches 
of the service. There has been an ever-increasing number of 
combats in the air. Often when aeroplanes were observed in 
reconnaissance the enemy would make an attack upon them in 
force and endeavor to destroy the machines. Indeed, this was a 
marked tendency of the war, and the record from the first of 
August would show not only an increased number of duels be- 



STRATEGY AND TACTICS OF AIR FIGHTING 457 

ween individual machines, but of skirmishes between air patrols, 
and contests in which a number of machines would attack in 
force opposing aeroplanes. 

As the war developed there was an increased tendency toward 
the tactical maneuvering of a number of aeroplanes, a greater 
frequency of bombing raids, and these attempts naturally led to 
reprisals as well as to defensive efforts. Often the aeroplanes 
designed for dropping bombs were heavy and powerful machines, 
not armed primarily for attack, but depending for protection 
upon one or more fighting aeroplanes of greater maneuvering 
power which accompanied them and carried machine guns and 
other weapons. In these bombing raids the tendency was to use 
a number of machines. In the raids of October 2, 1915, on the 
stations of Vosiers and Challeranges, sixty-five machines were 
employed. A few days later a fleet of eighty-four French aero- 
planes made a raid on the German lines, starting from an aero- 
drome near Nancy. Since then raids by large flocks of aeroplanes 
have become common. 

One important objective of such attacks was the destruction 
of the enemy's communication, and the bombing of railway trains 
bringing up supplies or reenforcements, became a most impor- 
tant feature. Often this involved considerable daring on the 
part of the pilot and his companion, as to insure a successful 
dropping of bombs the aeroplanes had to descend to compara- 
tively low levels. The British Royal Flying Corps on several 
occasions dropped bombs from a height hardly more than 500 
feet, and in the operations at the end of September, 1915, within 
five days, nearly six tons of explosives were dropped on moving 
trains with considerable damage. 

The most striking feature, perhaps in the work of the aero- 
planes, was the increased height of flight which developing con- 
ditions made necessary. At the beginning of the war it was 
assumed that overhead reconnaissance could be carried on in 
safely at a height of from 4,000 to 6,000 feet above the surface of 
the earth. At such altitude it was assumed that the aeroplane 
was safe from terrestrial artillery on account of offering so small 
a target, as well as on account of its spaed and the difficulty of 



458 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

determining its range, but this condition of affairs did not long 
remain. Both armies, and particularly the Germans, acquired 
experience in the use of their antiaircraft guns, and improved 
weapons were placed at their disposal, so that it was not long 
before the gunners could cause their shrapnel to burst with 
deadly effect some three miles in vertical height above the 
ground, and up to 10,000 feet their shooting compelled the ad- 
miration of the aviators of the Allies. 

Such efficient gunnery practice, of course, contributed to the 
loss of life among the aviators and the destruction of machines, 
notwithstanding the constantly increased height of flying. In 
some cases aeroplanes managed to reach the ground safely with 
as many as 300 bullet holes, but in other cases a single bullet 
sufficed to kill the aviator or to hit a vital part, and this was a 
compelling reason for armoring the aeroplanes and protecting 
their engines and controls. 

All of this naturally produced a higher standard of skill in the 
European armies than was ever before realized, and the training 
of new aviators, especially in the light of war experience, was 
carried on in large part by convalescent members of the aviation 
corps who had seen actual service in the field, so that the quota 
of recruits was not only maintained but supplied, trained to a 
high degree of efficiency. 

The progress of the war marked changes in the tactics of the 
aerial services of the various armies. The French and English 
believed that in the course of the war the Germans had lost a 
number of their most skilled and intrepid aviators, and that the 
expert pilots were held in readiness for more serious effort rather 
than being sacrificed for any contests of doubtful outcome. The 
Germans for a time became more cautious in their fights over 
the French lines, and in the summer and autumn of 1915 seldom 
crossed. This probably was due in large part to the increased 
number of aeroplanes at the disposal of the French and English. 
Apparently for a number of weeks there was a decrease in the 
reckless flights on the part of the Germans and desire to give 
battle, and more attention was paid to developing tactical 
efficiency and securing military results. Often their aeroplanes 



ZEPPELIN RAIDS 459 

operated in connection with the artillery, and in many cases 
their object was to draw the Allies' machines within range of the 
German antiaircraft artillery, which was efficiently served. 

A complete chronicle of the flights and air battles of the period 
of the war under review would contain a record where hardly 
a day passed without some flight or contest of greater or less 
significance. A duel between two hostile airmen might be of less 
importance than an exchange of shots between members of 
opposing outposts, yet it might involve heroic fighting and a skill- 
ful manipulation of aeroplane and machine gun, when one or 
both of the contestants might be thrown headlong to the ground. 
So for these pages we may select some of the more significant of 
the battles in the air with the understanding that many of those 
ignored were not without their vital interest. 



CHAPTER LVI 



ZEPPELIN KAIDS — ATTACKS ON GERMAN ARMS 
FACTORIES — GERMAN OVER-SEA RAIDS 

THE second year of the war opened with a spirited combat be- 
tween the German and French aeroplanes, on August 1, 1915, 
when six attacking German machines engaged fifteen French 
machines over Chateau Salins. This fight, which at the time was 
widely discussed, lasted three-quarters of an hour, and as the 
French reenf orcements came the Germans retreated to their own 
lines, though it was reported that several of the French machines 
were disabled and forced to land. Regarding this contest the 
opinion was expressed that the French were inadequately armed 
to fight the Germans, and that the latter were not driven back 
until armed scouts had joined the French. Furthermore, it was 
believed that the German aeroplanes were more heavily armed 
than those previously employed, and represented a new and more 
powerful type of machine. If the French suffered in this battle 
for lack of armament, the lesson was taken to heart, for the f 61- 



460 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

lowing week a French squadron of thirty-two units, including 
bombing machines convoyed by a flotilla of armed scouts (avion* 
de chas8e) made an attack on the station and factories of 
Saarbriicken. 

There was air war over sea as well as over land. On August 3, 
1915, a squadron of Russian seaplanes attacked a German gun- 
boat near Windau and forced her to run ashore, while the same 
squadron attacked a Zeppelin and two German seaplanes, one of 
which was shot down. The Russians the following day attacked 
Constantinople and dropped a number of bombs on the harbor 
fortifications. That the advantage was not entirely with the 
Allies at this time was shown by the report that on August 10, 
1915, a Turkish seaplane attacked an ally submarine near 
Boulair. The Russian seaplanes were again successful on August 
10, 1915, when they participated in the repulse of the Germans 
off the Gulf of Riga, where they attempted to land troops. The 
Russians had merely small sea craft such as torpedo boats and 
submarines in this engagement, but their seaplanes proved very 
effective, and the Germans retired with a cruiser and two torpedo 
boats damaged. 

After the attack by German Zeppelins on the east coast of 
England in June, 1915, there was a lull in the activity of the 
German airships. Count Zeppelin had stated early in the spring 
that in August fifteen airships of a new type capable of carry- 
ing at least two tons of explosives would be available, and accord- 
ingly, when a squadron of five Zeppelins were sighted off Vlie- 
land, near the entrance of the Zuyder Zee, pointed for England, 
it was realized that attempted aerial invasion was being resumed 
in earnest. These airships bombed war vessels in the Thames, 
the London docks, torpedo boats near Harwich, and military 
establishments on the Humber, with the result, slight in its mili- 
tary importance, of some twenty-eight casualties and a number 
of fires due to incendiary bombs. This attack encountered re- 
sistance and counterattacks from the British aerial services, not 
without effect, but lacking in positive achievement. One Zep- 
pelin was damaged by the gunfire of the land defenses, and upon 
her return an Ally aeroplane squadron from Dunkirk attacked 



ZEPPELIN RAIDS 461 

the disabled airship and finally blew her up after she had fallen 
into the sea off Ostend. 

It was realized, particularly by the British, that the best way 
to meet the Zeppelins was by aeroplane attack, yet on the raid 
just described, the great airships entirely escaped the Briti^ 
aviators. This Zeppelin raid was followed by a second on the 
night of August 12-13, 1915, which was directed against the 
military establishment at Harwich. Six people were killed and 
seventeen wounded by the bombs, and the post office was set on 
fire by an incendiary bomb. Aside from this, damage was limited 
On August 17 and 18, 1915, a squadron of four Zeppelins again 
attacked the English east coast, and their bombs killed ten per- 
sons and wounded thirty-six. Once again the airships were able 
to escape the British air patrols and made their escape appar- 
ently without damage, though one, the L-JfO, while flying over 
Vlieland, Holland, was fired upon by Dutch troops. 

An important effect of the Zeppelin raids was to bring the war 
directly to the experience of the British public, and the effect on 
recruiting as well as in arousing an increased national spirit for 
defense was marked. On the other hand, in Germany the Zep- 
pelin raids produced great elation, and the German populace 
anticipated that the aerial invasion of Great Britain would con- 
tribute materially toward the conclusion of the war. 

In the early summer of 1915 there had been rather less activity 
on the war front in eastern France and Flanders, especially on 
the part of the Germans, and as later developments proved, they 
apparently were engaged in experiments with new types of 
machines and engines. There was also in this time a manifesta- 
tion of increased skill on the part of the German air pilots, so 
that when the new machines were brought out they were handled 
with skill and ease, especially when climbing to the upper air and 
dodging the shells from antiaircraft guns of the Allies. 

In the meantime, and especially during August, 1915, the 
French began to develop bombing attacks against German arms 
and ammunition factories, railway junctions, and other military 
establishments, on a scale never before attempted in aerial war- 
fare. Toward the middle of the month as many as eighty-four 



462 TliE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

French aeroplanes were assembled for a flight over the Germaa 
lines, and so carefully were these aviators trained that in less 
than four minutes the eighty-four aeroplanes were in the sky, 
arranged in perfect tactical formation. On this particular occa- 
sion a reconnaissance was made in force, and the various evolu- 
tions and the distributions of the machines were carefully tried. 
With such practice, on August 25, 1915, a French aerial squadron, 
including sixty-two aviators, flew over the heights of Dilligen in 
Rhenish Prussia, thirty miles southeast of Treves, and dropped 
more than 150 bombs, thirty of which were of large caliber. This 
raid, while successful in many respects, was not without damage, 
for the French lost four aeroplanes. One fell to earth on fire 
near Bolzhen with the pilot and observer killed. A second was 
captured by the Germans, together with its occupants, near 
Romilly, a third was forced to land near Arracourt, north of 
Luneville, and was destroyed by German artillery, and the fourth 
landed within range of the German guns near Moevruns, south 
of Nomeny, behind the French front. On this very day a second 
French squadron bombed the German camps of Pannes and 
Baussant, starting fires, and discharged bombs over other Ger- 
man stations and bivouacs. In Argonne stations were bom- 
barded as well as the aviation park of Vitry-en-Artois. Allied 
fleets of French, British, and Belgian aeroplanes, both of the 
land and sea services, comprising some sixty machines in all, 
bombarded the wood of Houthulst and set a number of fires. 

It must not be inferred that at this time there was any lack of 
individual effort or achievement. Often bombs were dropped at 
important stations on lines of communication, and on August 
26, 1915, a poisoned gas plant at Dornach was bombed by a 
French aeroplane and ten shells dropped. 

On the other side, during the month of August, 1915, and 
particularly toward the end, raiding expeditions were organized 
by the Germans, and on August 28, 1915, an attack on Paris was 
organized, in which six German aeroplanes were to take part 
This furnished a striking test of the French aerial defenses, for 
none of the German aeroplanes was able to get near Paris, and 
in the attempt one was shot to pieces by a French gun plane 




11 

I] 

i\ 
1? 

h 
i 

s 
? 

I 



ZEPPELIN RAIDS 463 

which overtook the German and riddled the machine with bullets, 
causing it to fall in flames with the pilot incinerated. The Ger- 
man aeroplanes were first discovered by the French scouts aa 
they flew over the French battle front at so great a speed and 
height that attack from the ground from the parks near the 
battle lines was impossible. The alarm was given by telephone, 
however, while north of Paris the French patrol flotilla was 
found in readiness. The Germans were forced to retreat, and in 
addition to the aeroplane shot down, as already mentioned, an- 
other was fired upon after it had dropped five bombs on Mont- 
morency. 

On September 3, 1915, a raid nearly 150 miles from the French 
base was made by two French aviators on Donaueschingen 
and Marbach in Bavaria. On the same day in retaliation 
for the German bombardment at Luneville and Compidgne the 
French air service sent out a squadron of nineteen aeroplanes 
over the town of Treves, which dropped about 100 shells. The 
same squadron, after returning to its base, proceeded in the after- 
noon to drop fifty-eight shells on the station at Dommary and on 
Baroncour. 

During September, 1915, the Germans resumed oversea raids, 
and naval airships attacked the city of London, with results con- 
sidered generally satisfactory, as German bombs were dropped 
on the western part of the city, the factories at Norwich, and the 
harbor and iron works near Middlesbrough. In this raid, made 
by three Zeppelins on the night of September 8-9, 1915, the 
British reported as a result 20 killed, 14 seriously wounded, 74 
slightly wounded. The Zeppelins flew over Trafalgar Square, 
one of the innermost places of London, and were clearly visible 
from the streets. They were attacked by antiaircraft guns, and 
by aeroplanes, but the latter were unable to locate the airships, 
whose bombs, both incendiary and explosive, fell on buildings 
and in the streets. Later in the month of September other 
Zeppelin raids occurred over various parts of the eastern coun- 
tries of England. 

On September 22, 1915, French aviators made a spectacular 
raid and shelled the royal palace and station at Stuttgart in the 

DD— War St 4 



464 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

kingdom of Wiirttemburg. This was partly in retaliation for 
the bombarding by the Germans of open towns and civilian 
populations, and in the course of the attack about 100 shells were 
dropped on the royal palace and the station, killing, according to 
German reports, four persons, and wounding a number of sol- 
diers and civilians, but without doing important material dam- 
age. Antiaircraft opened fire on the French raiders and they 
Were forced to retire. In this attack the French machines were 
painted with the German distinguishing marks, with the result 
that after their attack a German airman arriving at Stuttgart 
was fired on by the German troops until he was recognized as 
one of their own officers, fortunately landing unhurt near the 
town. 

During the first three weeks in September, 1915, the Royal 
Flying Corps, with the British army in the field, was very active, 
and there were forty air duels in eighteen days. During the first 
three weeks four monoplanes were known to have been de- 
stroyed, and at least seven others sent heavily to earth, and all 
survivors were, of course, forced to retire to their own lines. 

One notable contest by a British pilot took place one morning 
when he beat off the first four German machines that had come 
to attack him, one after the other, but by the time of the onslaught 
of the fifth, he had exhausted all of his machine-gun and re- 
volver ammunition. The British airman proceeded to go through 
the motions of aiming and firing his revolver, and the German 
pilot not realizing that the weapon was useless, after firing a 
number of shots at him, retired, so that the British officer was 
able to finish his reconnoitering and return to his own lines. 

On September 7, 1915, a furious battle in the plain sight of 
thousands of soldiers occurred in midair, and resulted in the 
destruction of a German aeroplane, which had been particularly 
active in ranging the German guns, and had circled and signaled 
above the British positions, apparently with considerable effect. 
A British aeroplane straightway went out and attacked the Ger- 
man at a height of 9,000 feet above the latter's lines, and the 
duel was in clear sight of the armies. Every form of maneuver 
known to the expert pilot was indulged in, and in the meantime, 



ZEPPELIN RAIDS 465 

both foes were shooting at each other as rapidly as possible. 
Finally the German aeroplane was seen to fall erratically at an 
angle, nose downward, that indicated its probable destruction. 

On September 13, 1915, two German aeroplanes were brought 
down by the British within their lines, one of which fought a 
most thrilling battle before it succumbed. It was a large biplane 
of considerable speed, armed with two machine guns, one fore 
and one aft. Flying over the British lines, it was sighted by the 
English, and a similar type aeroplane attacked. A shot hit the 
German machine in the gasoline tank, putting the motor out of 
commission, and, notwithstanding their rapid fall, the aviators 
maintained their firing until the end. The machine crashed to 
the earth, and both pilot and observer were killed, but the aero- 
plane itself was not badly damaged. On the same day, Septem- 
ber 13, 1915, a German aeroplane visited the coast of Kent and 
dropped bombs, which resulted in damage to a house and injured 
four persons before it was chased off by two British naval 
aeroplanes. 

Regarding the British aviation service, Field Marshal Sir John 
French, in a dispatch to the secretary of state for war, said with 
special reference to the fighting on September 25, 1915, at Artois, 
"that the wing of the Royal Flying Corps attached to the Third 
Army performed valuable work, and not only in times of actual 
battle, but throughout the summer. They continuously cooper- 
ated with the artillery, photographing the positions of the enemy, 
bombing their communications, and reconnoitering far over 
hostile country." In the period under review by the field mar- 
shal, he stated that there had been more than 240 combats in the 
air, and in nearly every case the British pilots had to seek out the 
Germans behind the German lines, where their aeroplanes were 
aided by the fire of the movable antiaircraft guns, and that they 
were successful in bringing down four German machines behind 
the British trenches, and at least twelve in the German lines, as 
well as putting out of action many others more or less damaged. 

While considerable has been made of the Zeppelins, the French 
airships were also active during the war. One of the latter craft 
of this type, the Alsace, having a capacity of 23,000 cubic meters 



466 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

(30,000 cubic yards) , on the night of September 30 and Octobei 
1, 1915, bombarded the junction of Amagne-Lucquy, and the 
stations of Attigny and Vouziers on the trunk-line railroad going 
through Luxemburg and the Ardennes, which was the main 
supply line for the whole German line from Verdun to the neigh- 
borhood of Novon, This airship made its journey and returned 
safely. However, three days later, in a cruise in the Reathel 
district, it was forced to land, and the crew were captured by the 
Germans. 

On October 3, 1915, a group of French aeroplanes started out 
to attack Luxemburg, where the kaiser on his return from Russia 
had established his headquarters. The station was bombarded 
at the railroad bridge and also military buildings. The "group" 
that was used for this work consisted of three flotillas and a 
flotilla leader, that is, a total of nineteen aeroplanes. 



CHAPTER LVII 



ATTACKS ON LONDON — BOMBARDMENT OF 
ITALIAN FOBTS — ABBOPLANB AS COM- 
MERCE DESTROYER 

ON the evening of October 13, 1915, one of the most noted of 
the Zeppelin raids over Great Britain occurred, with London 
as the objective. The airships flew very high to avoid searchlights 
and gunfire, thus interfering with the accuracy of the bomb drop- 
ping, and in only one case was damage done to property con- 
nected with the conduct of the war. The darkening of the city 
and the various protective measures required high flying, so that 
the dropping of bombs was more or less at random. The raid 
occurred in the early evening, and while hundreds of thousands 
of persons heard the bursting bombs and the guns, there was no 
panic, and the majority of the citizens took shelter as they had 
been warned officially. An investigation of the damage the next 
morning showed five distinct areas where bombs containing high 



ATTACKS ON LONDON 467 

explosives had been dropped, and the principal damage was where 
the explosion of the bombs falling into subways containing gas 
and water pipes had ignited the former. In one case a number 
of bombs were dropped on a suburban area where there were no 
aerial defenses or searchlights, but in few cases were houses 
actually struck or seriously damaged. Most of the damage was 
done to people in the streets, and the effect on buildings, while 
serious, possessed no military importance, and fires produced by 
incendiary bombs were readily extinguished. The London police 
officials repeated the warning to the citizens to remain within 
doors during any subsequent air raids and advising them to 
keep at hand supplies of water and sand as a safeguard against 
incendiary bombs. 

In the raid of German Zeppelins over the British Isles on the 
night of October 13-14, 1915, and the attack on London, forty- 
five were killed and 114 wounded. It was reported during No- 
vember that Great Britain proposed to construct fifty dirigibles 
within two years to meet the Zeppelin menace, and to construct 
each year a sufficient number to secure complete mastery of the 
air for England. The attack produced a degree of indignation 
and irritation that was more than proportional to the damage 
done, and the Government was criticized for the inadequacy of 
the protective measures. 

After these air raids on Great Britain there was a lull in such 
activities, but it was realized by the English that with the open- 
ing of spring these attacks probably would be carried on with 
greater vigor and determination, as there would be an increased 
number both of Zeppelins and SchCitte-Lanz airships. The at- 
mospheric conditions pervading the British Isles formed as im- 
portant a defense against airship attacks for almost half the 
year as actual military measures. Several times fogs and high 
winds prevented attempts of this kind, and it was realized by the 
German air pilots that unless weather conditions were favorable 
flights should not be attempted. Therefore, during the late 
autumn and winter of 1915-1916, they concerned themselves with 
problems of construction and equipment, and the training of air 
pilots rather than actual attempts. 



468 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

In the meantime the Germans suffered by the destruction of 
several Zeppelins. One was destroyed with its crew by colliding 
with a dummy on October 18, 1915, near Maubeuge, and the 
Z-28 was lost near Hamburg, and a third, whose number was 
unknown, at Bitterfeld, Saxony. On December 5, 1915, the Rus- 
sians brought down another Zeppelin near Ealkun on the Libau- 
Romin railway, locating it with a powerful searchlight and de- 
stroying it by artillery fire. The airship previously had escaped 
several attacks after being caught by the searchlights, but when 
H appeared for a second time over Ealkun, with its motors silent, 
it was hit by gunfire. Another accident at Tondern resulted in 
the destruction of the Zeppelin Z-22 during the first week in 
December, 1915, this being the same station at which the Z-19 
was destroyed in the previous month. The Z-22 had been in 
service only a few weeks, and was of the latest type, with invisible 
gondolas, platforms at the top of the envelope, and detachable 
rafts for use in case of accident while crossing the sea. Its de- 
struction was due to the accidental explosion of a bomb while the 
airship was leaving the shed, and nearly all the forty members of 
the crew were killed or wounded. Still another Zeppelin was re- 
ported to have been destroyed by a storm in Belgium about 
December 12, 1915. 

On November 15, 1915, two Austrian aeroplanes bombarded 
Brescia, killing seven persons and wounding ten, all of whom 
were civilians, and some of them women. None of the bombs hit 
any of the arms factories of the city, which is about fifteen miler 
west of the southern part of the Lago di Garda, while Verona, 
which was attacked by Austrian aeroplanes on the previous Sun- 
day, is about the same distance east The attack on Verona 
resulted in the death of thirty persons and injury to about twice 
that number, and was made possible in a degree by the fog which 
allowed the aircraft to approach close to the city before they 
were discovered. They flew as low as 4,500 feet, it is stated, each 
dropping five or six bombs. On November 18, 1915, the Aus~ 
trians' seaplane squadron dropped bombs on the forts at San 
Nicote and Alberoni, and also on the arsenal, the aviation station, 
gas works, railway station, and several parks at Venice. The 



ATTACKS ON LONDON 469 

Italians attacked in turn, and there was a heavy fire of anti- 
aircraft guns, but the Austrian squadron retired in safety. On 
November 19, 1915, Austrian aviators threw fifteen bombs on 
Udine, Italy, killing twelve persons and wounding twenty-seven. 

The activity of the Italian aero service developed in the course 
of the war, and there were many combats between them and 
Austrian aviators. On December 30, 1915, it was reported that 
during the naval engagement off Durazzo an Austrian seaplane 
was shot down by an Italian destroyer, while a fortnight later, 
January 12, 1916, when four Austrian aeroplanes were attack- 
ing Rimini with bombs with little success, one of them was 
brought down by fire from the main artillery and shells from the 
warships. On January 13, 1916, Italian aeroplanes dropped bombs 
on a barracks in the Breguzzo zone in the valley of the Giudicaria, 
with success. On January 15, 1916, an Italian air squadron made 
an extensive raid in the region of the East Isonzo and bombarded 
the enemy aviation camp at Assevizza, the cantonments at Ciha- 
povano and Boruberg, and the railway stations at Longatica, 
Pregasina, and Lubiana. This squadron was under continuous 
fire by antiaircraft batteries, but returned in safely. 

Reports from Montenegro during January, 1916, reported the 
activity of Austrian aeroplanes in bombing operations. On 
January 7, 1916, an Austrian aeroplane fell near Dulcigno, and 
the aviators were taken prisoners. 

On November 28, 1915, the French were successful in three 
battles in the air and two raids. A French aeroplane in Belgium 
pursued a German squadron and brought down one of the Ger- 
man machines in the sea off Westende-Bains, between Nieuport 
and Ostend. On the same day ten French aeroplanes set fire to 
the German hangars in Habsheim in southern Alsace, and also 
damaged an aeroplane that was on the ground. Two German 
machines that attempted a pursuit of the French were repulsed, 
one being damaged by machine gunfire, and the other being 
capsized. On the same day, near Nancy, French aeroplanes shot 
down a German machine and put another to flight. 

The Allies continued vigorously their attacks on various muni- 
tion plants and aero stations of the Germans. How much damage 



470 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

can be dime by aeroplane attacks was indicated in an item in the 
annual financial statement of the Krupps, which was published 
during the year 1915 in a German paper. This item reads: 
"Claims and damages due to the war, ten million marks ($2,375,- 
000)," and deals with the effect of the raid over Essen by the 
airmen of the Allies. 

The German aerodrome at Gits, containing fourteen machines, 
was attacked, and at La Chapelette the ammunition factory with 
nineteen machines was also the object of an attempt by the 
Allies. Some sixteen British aeroplanes bombarded a stores 
depot at Miramont in the Somme district, and the aerodrome at 
Hervilly. All of the machines returned safely, and considerable 
damage was believed to have been done at the above points. 

The aeroplane as a commerce destroyer had a test on October 
30, 1915, when three German machines attacked the steamship 
Avocet of the Cork Steamship Company. One of these, a large 
battle plane, discharged some thirty-six bombs, but none hit. 
With the supply of projectiles exhausted, the battle plane, handled 
with great skill, opened gunfire on the vessel, while the small 
planes crossed and recrossed, dropping their bombs, but without 
effect. The aviators and their observers also opened rifle fire on 
the steamer, but in the space of thirty-five, minutes they were 
unable to do any serious damage, and none of the crew was 
injured. It was noted that the failure to fly low so as to get 
sufficient accuracy for dropping the bombs was responsible for 
the miscarriage of this attack. 

The use of seaplanes to attack merchantmen and smaller 
warcraft became a feature of the Austrian and German cam- 
paign, and in November and December, 1915, several attacks 
were reported on steamers of the Allies. Two German aeroplanes 
dropped bombs on a British patrol ship off North Hinder Light- 
ship in the North Sea on November 6, 1915, and set her on fire. 
The French steamer Harmonie was attacked in the Mediter- 
ranean by an Austrian aeroplane, but none of the six bombs 
which were dropped struck the vessel. Three German seaplanes 
attacked a British cargo boat aground off the coast of Belgium, 
but before they could succeed in destroying her with bombs, the 



ATTACKS ON LONDON 471 

attempt was reported by the Allies 1 aero scouts, and a squadron 
of aeroplanes went to the rescue. The Germans were forced to 
retire, while French torpedo boats floated the British freighters. 

One of the notable events of the year was the first seaplane 
battle between the British and German seaplanes near Dunkirk 
on November 28, 1915. The British were successful, as they 
were also in an attack on a large German seaplane by one of 
their aeroplanes patrolling off the Belgian coast. The German 
machine was hit and fell on the sea, bursting into flames and 
exploding on striking the water. No trace of pilot, passengers, 
or machine could be found. The British aeroplane, under com- 
mand of Lieutenant Graham, was also damaged by gunfire and 
fell into the sea, but the officers were picked up and safely landed. 

The Allies, and particularly the British, employed aeroplanes 
chiefly for patrolling their coasts, naval harbors and subsidiary 
fleet bases, as well as the principal shipping lanes, in order to 
keep them clear of the insidious action of hostile submarines. 
Of this silent and steady coast patrol work, which is deprived of 
any spectacular side, little has come to light, except where a 
reconnaissance also involved an attack upon forces of the 
enemy. 

It was during such patrol flights, along the Belgian coast, that 
two German submarines were put out of action by aviators of 
the Allies. The first of these engagements occurred on August 
26, 1915, when Squadron Commander A. W. Bigsworth of the 
Royal Naval Air Service destroyed a German submarine off 
Ostend by dropping several bombs on the but partly submerged 
vessel. The second German submarine was destroyed off Middel- 
kerke, Belgium, on November 28, 1915, by a British seaplane, 
piloted by Flight Sublieutenant Viney, and carrying a French 
officer, Lieutenant Count de Sincay, as an observer. German 
submarines* having been reported in the vicinity, the aviators 
were ordered to patrol the coast with the object of watching for 
the enemy. The aviators rose to an altitude of 3,000 meters, and 
had been up for half an hour when they sighted, four miles from 
the shore, two submarines side by side on the surface. The place 
was favorable for attack, the sea being shallow there, and the 



472 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

aviators hoped that the enemy boats would be unable to escape 
by diving. The seaplane quickly dived to about 200 meters 
above the sea and attacked the submarines, one of which suc- 
ceeded in escaping, the other boat, however, was hit by two 
bombs, which broke open its hull and caused it to sink in a few 
minutes. 

Owing to the great range of vision afforded by a seaplane, 
both horizontally and vertically, owing also to its considerable 
speed and ease of maneuvering, marine aeroplanes have proven 
formidable foes for submarines, which they can easily overtake 
and destroy with bombs. Especially is this true when a sub- 
marine is steaming partly submerged, with only its periscope 
visible above the sea, for, whereas, the submarine's outline is 
easily detected from great heights, the periscope has but a limited 
range of vision horizontally, and none vertically. 

Another instance of how aeroplanes can be used for attacking 
war vessels was furnished by the feat of a British aviator who 
attacked a Turkish army transport on August 12, 1915, in the 
Marmora Sea and sank the vessel with a heavy projectile, which, 
it is claimed, weighed over 200 pounds. 

Although not yet sufficiently developed to fulfill the functions 
for which they are ultimately intended, i. e., strategical recon- 
naissance and offensive action against vessels of war and coast 
fortifications — seaplanes have played a very useful role in tac- 
tical operations, and particularly in convoying troop ships, as 
well as in "spotting" for naval guns. Whenever the compara- 
tively limited range of seaplanes precluded their employment for 
long-range reconnaissances or bombardment, airships were called 
upon to carry out these duties. 

In the matter of airships, Germany was markedly favored by 
the possession of the Zeppelin type, whose speed and endurance 
is still unequaled by the smaller, nonrigid dirigibles which con- 
stitute the chief bulk of the British, French, Italian, and Russian 
fleets of "lighter-than-air" machines. 

Obviously, the employment of airships is fraught with even 
more danger, on account of the large hull exposed to enemy fire, 
than that of aeroplanes. A great number of Zeppelins have been 



AIR FIGHTING ON ALL FRONTS— LOSSES 473 

destroyed either by antiaircraft guns or by storms, although the 
gallant feat of the late Flight Lieutenant Warneford, who blew 
up single-handed a Zeppelin near Ghent, has not yet been re- 
peated by aviators of the Allies. 

An Austrian aviator, however, succeeded on August 5, 1915, 
in putting out of action the Italian dirigible Citta-di-Jesi, which 
was returning from a bombing raid on Pola. Soaring above the 
airship the aviator dropped several bombs on the envelope, which 
was damaged, the hydrogen being ignited thereby. The airship 
did not explode, but was forced to alight on the sea, her crew 
being captured by the Austrians. 



CHAPTER LVIII 

AIR FIGHTING ON ALL PRO N T 8 — LO S SES 

BY December, 1915, and January, 1916, the official reports of 
the war in the air contained a continued account of activity. 
Almost every day reconnoitering machines were sent out over one 
city or another, and attempts were made to interfere with their 
work or to bring on battle, and on December 19, 1915, the British 
War Office reported forty-four combats in the air, with two 
enemy aeroplanes brought to the ground within their own lines, 
and two brought down in damaged condition. On this day one of 
the British machines was missing. 

Again, the report on December 29, 1915, from the British War 
Office mentioned an unsuccessful attack by the Germans on one 
of the British aerodromes by four machines, only two of which 
reached their objective, and no damage was done to them, 
although one of the British aeroplanes was shot down. On 
December 29, 1915, sixteen British aeroplanes attacked the 
Comines station with bombs, and hit the station railway and 
sheds in the vicinity. Ten of the British aeroplanes attacked the 
aerodromes and did considerable damage, in both cases all ma- 
chines returning safely. 



474 THE STORY OF THE GREAT WAR 

On this day, December 29, 1915, there were twelve encounters 
with hostile aeroplanes, and a British aeroplane engaged four 
belonging to the Germans, one of which was believed to have 
been brought down, while another was damaged, and all four 
were driven off. The British aeroplane fell as the result of a 
struggle with two machines* On January 5, 1916, a number of 
British aeroplanes made a bombing raid against enemy aero- 
planes at Douai, while the Germans retaliated by an aeroplane 
raid over Boulogne, dropping a few bombs without damage. 
The next day the British made another raid with eleven ma- 
chines on gun and supply stations at Lesars. On January 10, 
1916, enemy aircraft dropped bombs near Starzelle, Hazebrouck 
and St. Omer, and one woman and one child were killed. 

That the activities of the British were not always crowned 
with success is stated in the report for January IS, 1916, where 
record is made of the fact that four of the British aeroplanes 
sent out on the previous day had not returned. On January 17, 
1916, sixteen British aeroplanes attacked the German supply 
depot at Lesars, northeast of Albert, and did considerable dam- 
age. On this day there were nineteen encounters in the air, and 
five of the German machines were driven down, and two British 
aeroplanes were lost 

, The activity of the French did not diminish as the war pro- 
gressed, and the the activity of the bomb-operating squadron 
continued. On December 20, 1915, four French aeroplanes de- 
signed for bomb-dropping, escorted by seven machines with 
rapid-fire guns dropped on the fort and station at Mtilhausen 
six shells of 155-millimeter caliber, and twenty shells of ninety- 
six caliber. In the terse language of the official report, "they 
reached their objective/' The damage must be imagined as it 
was not specified. 

During December, 1915, and January, 1916, the French avi- 
ators were active with the eastern army, although many diffi- 
culties were encountered, especially the intense cold in the Balkan 
Mountains when reconnoitering around the Bulgarian lines and 
elsewhere. French aviators during December, 1915, shelled 
Uskub, Istip, Strumitza, and other encampments with great 



AIR FIGHTING ON ALL FRONTS— LOSSES 475 

effect, and they made a remarkable series of photographs and 
maps, in addition to reporting to headquarters by wireless. The 
aviation corps in this section of Europe furnished daily weather 
reports to the headquarters staff regarding the speed of the wind 
and the height of the clouds from 1,000 meters altitude, and thi* 
work shows the extent of the organization and plan of campaign. 
On December 29, 1915, the French aeroplanes bombarded parks 
and encampments of the Bulgarians at Petrik, east of Lake 
Doiran, and that the activity in this region was not all one-eided 
was evident by the fact that on January 27, 1916, hostile aero- 
planes bombarded the cantonments of the Allies in the environs 
ef Saloniki, doing little damage, but losing one of their aero- 
planes, which was brought to earth by gunfire. On January 14, 
1916, the Allies were again attacked, and bombs were dropped on 
Janes (Tanesh) , northwest of Eukus (EiDdch) , and on DoganizL 

In the operations around Constantinople both sides employed 
aeroplanes for various purposes. On the GaDipoli front on De- 
cember 20, 1915, it was reported that the Allies had a seaplane 
shot down and its occupants made prisoners, while on December 
28, 1915, an ally aeroplane was shot down at Birheba. On 
December 26, 1915, an ally aeroplane was brought to earth near 
Birelsabe, and the French pilot, Captain Baron de Ceron, and a 
British lieutenant were killed. On December 27, 1915, the Turk- 
ish forces sent out a seaplane, which made a reconnoitering flight 
over Tenedos, the island of Mavro, and the many positions near 
Sedd-ul-Bahr, striking a torpedo boat south of this point with a 
bomb. On December 28, 1915, three ally aeroplanes flew over 
Ari-Burnu, and one of these was hit by artillery fire and fell into 
the sea, while a British seaplane successfully dropped some bombs 
on a tent camp. On December 28, 1915, Turkish artillery brought 
down a biplane flying over Yent Shehr and Eum Kaleh, and on 
the previous day a reconnoitering and bombing expedition was 
undertaken by a Turkish seaplane, which dropped bombs on the 
harbor tool house at Mudros. 

On January 1, 1916, a Turkish seaplane attacked and repulsed 
a hostile ally aeroplane while reconnoitering, and on the follow- 
ing day a Turkish seaplane dropped bombs on the enemy's camp 



476 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

at Sedd-ul-Bahr. Lieutenant Ryck Boddike figured prominently 
in a number of successful flights, in one of which he attacked a 
French aeroplane on January 6, 1916, killing the aviator and 
bringing down the machine on the Anatolian coast, near 
Akbanca. Qn the following day he shot down, east of Yalova, a 
British Farman aeroplane. On January 7, 1916, also there was 
bomb dropping by the Turkish aviators over the enemy's positions 
at Sedd-ul-Bahr, and their aviation station on the island of 
Imbros. January 10, 1916, Lieutenant Ryck Boddike brought 
down his fourth enemy aeroplane, which fell into the open sea, 
and two days later he shot down his fifth, a British machine of the 
Farman type, killing one of the aviators and wounding the other. 
This aeroplane fell in such condition that it could be repaired by 
the Turks. On January 14, 1916, a Turkish aeroplane attacked 
a monitor which, with other .vessels, opened fire in the direction 
of Kilid Bahr. The monitor was forced to withdraw in flames. 

Late in the year 1915 the Germans, after a period of inactivity, 
made a raid in force on the French fortress at Belf ort At least 
three aeroplanes dropped bombs over the city, and were attacked 
in turn by the machine and antiaircraft guns of the garrison, 
and French aviators proceeded to the attack, beating off the Ger- 
mans, who returned again later in the day discharging another 
shower of shells over the fortress. 

On December 29, 1915, the Germans reported that they had 
shot down an English biplane in an aerial flight near Bruges, 
and the occupants of the machine were killed. The English ma- 
chine had been flying over the district of Lichtervelde, south of 
Bruges, and had dropped several bombs, one of which had hit a 
munitions depot with disastrous effect. A German aeroplane 
intercepted the British machine on its return, and in the course* 
of the battle both machines were disabled and crashed to earth. 
The same day the Germans reported the loss of two aeroplanes 
by the British, one of which was forced to descend at a point to 
the north of Lens, and the other, a large battle aeroplane, was shot 
down in a fight north of Han, on December 27, 1915, and three 
British aeroplanes were destroyed by fire west of Lille. The 
Berlin report on December 29, 1915, stated that on the whole 



AIR FIGHTING ON ALL FRONTS— LOSSES 477 

front artillery and aeroplanes were active. The enemy's aircraft 
attacked the towns and railroad stations of Wervick and Menin, 
Belgium, without, however, doing military damage. A British 
aeroplane was shot down in a fight northeast of Cambrai, and on 
January 6, 1916, the Allies made an aircraft attack upon Douai, 
which failed, and two British aeroplanes were shot down by 
German aviators. One of these was brought down by Lieutenant 
Boelke, and was the seventh aeroplane that he had disabled 
January 10, 1916, a German air squadron attacked the ware- 
houses of Fumes. On this same day an interesting air battle 
occurred, involving a series of fights, with casualties on both 
sides, between the French and German aeroplanes above the line? 
of the latter near Dixmude. Three French avions cannon ( Voisin 
steel biplanes armed with 37-millimeter quick-firing guns at the 
bow) fought with German scouting aeroplanes of the Fokker 
type. The attack was brought on by the Fokker assailing a 
French machine which was forced to descend, but one of its com- 
panions straightway attacked the German and brought him down 
by machine gunfire at a distance of twenty-five meters. A third 
French machine was also successful in attacking another Fokker, 
which fell in the forest of Houthulst, southeast of Dixmude. 

On January 11, 1916, a French battle aeroplane was attacked by 
German rifle fire and forced to land near Noumen, south of Dix- 
mude in Belgium, and the aeroplane and its occupants, unin- 
jured, became German prisoners. On this day a British biplane 
was shot down in an encounter near Tournai, Belgium. Lieu- 
tenant Boelke on January 13, 1916, shot down a British aero- 
plane, as did also Lieutenant Immelmann — one northeast of 
Tourcoing and the other near Bapaume. Both were decorated 
with the Order of Pour-le-M6rite by the emperor. A third British 
aeroplane was shot down in an aerial fight near Roubaix, and a 
fourth was brought down by German defense guns near Ligne, 
northwest of Lille. Of the eight British officers on these four 
aeroplanes six were killed and two wounded. 

On January 15, 1916, Lieutenant Boelke again shot down an 
enemy aeroplane, which fell within the British lines and was set 
on fire by German artillery. On January 18, 1916, there were 



478 THE STORY OP THE GREAT WAR 

aerial battles near Paschendaele and Dadezelle in Flanders, and 
three of the four occupants of one machine were killed. A French 
aeroplane was shot down by German airmen near Moyenvic, and 
the pilot and observer were captured. 

In the course of the war the German aeroplane fleet developed 
at the close of the year 1915, and at the beginning of 1916, a 
renewed activity and initiative of attack. In the period from 
December 20, 1915, to January 19, 1916, an analysis of the official 
reports indicated that the British airmen had had seventy-five 
individual combats with the Germans, in the course of which nine 
British and eight German machines were lost. The Germans, on 
the other hand, reported in this time that they had destroyed 
fourteen British and three French aeroplanes, while the French 
claimed the destruction of three German machines, one of which 
was shot down in the Balkans; while the Turks, defending the 
Dardanelles, claimed to have shot down seven ally aeroplanes. 
Italian airmen overcame two Austrian machines, and Austria 
and Montenegro each overcame one enemy aeroplane. An 
analysis of these figures indicates that for this month the advan- 
tage was distinctly with the Germans, as they had destroyed 
twenty-five machines as against fourteen aeroplanes brought 
down by the enemy. 

The statements concerning the losses of airships and aero- 
planes published by the various armies and newspapers in most 
cases were disputed for their accuracy. The Paris 'Temps" on 
February 5, 1916, criticising a German statement, stated as the 
correct figures for the aeroplane losses of the various combatants 
on the western front between October 1, 1915, and January 31, 
1916, the following: 'Thirteen English and seventeen French 
aeroplanes lost on the side of thq Allies— eleven German aero- 
planes destroyed on the English front and twenty on the French 
front. Of the French machines lost, four were overcome in aerial 
combats, one destroyed by artillery fire, three were forced to 
descend by motor troubles, and eight disappeared on land-scout- 
ing missions/' 

During the month of February, 1916, patrol service was 
actively maintained on both sides of the frontier; a large number 



AIR FIGHTING ON ALL FRONTS— LOSSES 479 

of attempts at bombing were made, and many individual combats 
took place, with the losses, so far as the French and Germans 
were concerned, about evenly divided, the French reporting the 
destruction of nine German aeroplanes, while the Germans 
claimed to have destroyed eight French and four British ma- 
chines. For this period the official reports of the British claimed 
that four German machines were forced to the ground, but it was 
not apparent whether they had been actually destroyed or merely 
forced to retire. In the French reports, in addition to the nine 
German aeroplanes destroyed as noted, it was stated that two 
additional were "forced down/' 

In January and February, 1916, the German air service again 
began its activity against the British Isles, and not only Zep- 
pelins but also seaplanes and aeroplanes crossed the Channel and 
dropped explosives and incendiary bombs on English towns and 
villages, mostly on the east coast. The Germans claimed that in 
one instance a Zeppelin had gone as far as Midlands in an at- 
tempt at some of the great manufacturing centers of England, 
and this seemed to indicate that the campaign would be carried 
on with greater relentlessness than ever and more attempt at 
material damage. More and more aeroplanes of the German 
service were beginning to cooperate with the Zeppelins, and it 
was clear that future attacks would be in forces with aeroplanes 
to protect the Zeppelins from attack by quick-flying hostile aero- 
planes. It was evident from the activity of the Germans that in 
all departments of its aerial services increases were being made, 
and increased activity was to be manifested. At the same time 
the Allies were showing corresponding activity in their attempts 
to destroy the air cruisers of the enemy. 

The German military Zeppelin L-Z-77 was brought down by a 
French incendiary shell from a 75-millimeter antiaircraft gun of 
the motor-gun section of R6nigny in the neighborh