Collected in Six Volumes
From Official and Authoritative Sources

(See Introductory to Volume I)


Editor of The Search-Light Library


Copyright, 1917, by




Thirty million soldiers, each living a great human story—this is the real drama of the Great War as it is being written into the hearts and memories of the men at the front. If these soldiers could be gathered around one camp-fire, and each soldier could relate the most thrilling moment of his experience—what stories we would hear! "Don Quixote," the "Arabian Nights," Dante's "Inferno," Milton's "Paradise Lost, and Regained"—all the legends and tales of the world's literature out-told by the soldiers themselves.

It is from the lips of these soldiers, and those who have passed through the tragedy of the war—the women and children whose eyes have beheld the inferno and whose souls have been uplifted by suffering and self-sacrifice—the generations will hear the epic of the days when millions of men gave their lives to "make the world safe for Democracy." The magnitude of this gigantic struggle against autocracy is such that human imagination cannot visualize it—it requires one to stand face to face with death itself.

A member of the British War Staff estimates that more than a million letters a day are passing from the trenches and bases of the various armies "to the folk back home." Another observer at the General Headquarters of one of the armies estimates that more than a million and a half diaries are being kept by the soldiers.[ii] It is in these words, inscribed by bleeding bodies and suffering hearts, that posterity is to hear True Stories of the Great War.

It is the purpose of these volumes, therefore, to begin the preservation of these soldiers' stories. This is the first collection that has been made; it is in itself an historic event. The manner in which this service has been performed may be of interest to the reader. It was my privilege to appoint a committee, or board of editors, to collect stories from soldiers in the various armies—personal letters, records of personal experiences, reminiscences, and all other available material. An exhaustive investigation has been made into the files of European and American periodicals to find the various narratives that have "crept into print."

More than eight thousand stories were considered. The vast amount of human material would require innumerable volumes to preserve it. It was the judgment of the committee that this documentary evidence could be brought into practical limitations by selecting a sufficient number of narratives to cover every human phase of the Great War and preserve them in six volumes.

This first collection of "True Stories" forms what might be termed a "story-history" of the Great War, although all chronological plan is purposely avoided in order to preserve the story-teller's "reality" rather than the historian's record.

These volumes are in the nature of a "Round Table" in which soldiers, refugees, nurses, eye-witnesses—all gather about the pages and relate the most thrilling episodes of their war experiences. We hear the tales of the soldiers who invaded Belgium, through the campaigns and battles on all the fronts, to the landing of the American troops in France. Diplomats tell of the scenes at the outbreak of the war; despatch bearers relate their[iii] missions of danger from Paris to Berlin, London, Vienna, Petrograd; refugees describe the flight of the Belgians, the exodus of the Serbians, the invasion of Poland. Emissaries at General Headquarters tell of their dinners with the Kaiser and the Crown Prince, with Hindenburg and Zimmerman, and describe the scenes inside the German empire. Soldiers from the Marne, the Aisne, Verdun—relate their experiences. We listen to passengers tossed into the sea from the Lusitania; revolutionists who overthrew the Czar in Russia; exiles returning from Siberia. We hear the tales of the fighters from South Africa, Egypt, Turkey; stories from the Far East along the seas of China. The lieutenant of the Emden relates his adventures. There are stories told by Kitchener's "mob"; the "fighting Irish," Scottish Highlanders, the Canadians, the Australians, the Hindus. The French hussars and poilus tell of their experiences; the Italians in the Alps, the Austrians in the Carpathians—the stories cover the whole world and every race and nation.

These personal narratives reveal the psychology of war in all its horrible reality—modern warfare on its gigantic scale—the genius of invention and organization applied to destruction. They reveal, moreover, the psychology of human nature and human emotions in all their moods and passions. The first impression is of the physical horror of the war, but this is soon overcome by the higher spirituality that impels men to sacrifice their lives for civilization and humanity. The stories sink at times into grossest brutality only to rise to the heights of nobility on the part of the sufferers. Officers tell of the charges of their battalions; the men in the trenches tell of the "nights of terror"; spies tell of their secret missions; nurses deliver the death-messages of the dying; priests tell how they carry the Cross of Christ to the bloody fields; the prisoners tell the "inside story of the prisons";[iv] aviators relate their death-duels in the air; submarine officers tell how they torpedo and capture the enemies' ships. There is testimony from the lips of women who were ravaged; children who were brutally mutilated; witnesses who saw soldiers crucified; soldiers lashed to their guns; babies torn from their mothers' arms; homes in flames and ruins, cathedrals desecrated.

And yet there is an undercurrent of humanity in these human documents. In their physical aspect they are almost beyond human belief—but there is a certain spiritual force running through them. There is a nobility in them that rises above all the physical anguish.

These stories (and this war) reveal the souls of men as has nothing before in modern times. The war has taught men "how to die." These men have lost all fear of death. They have traveled the road of the crucifixion and stood before Calvary; they have caught a glimpse of something finer, nobler, truer than their own individual existence. Through suffering and self-sacrifice they have risen to the noblest heights. They have found something that we who have not faced death in the trenches may never find—they have felt an exaltation in mind and body that we may never know. There is the fire of the Old Crusaders about them; they have caught the realization of the glory of humanity as they march into the face of death. It is interesting to observe that wherever the story-teller is fighting for a principle, he sees no horror in war or death. It is only where he thinks of his individual suffering, where his thoughts are of his own physical self, that he complains.

And there is even humor in these stories; we see men laughing at death; we see the wounded smiling and telling humorous tales of their suffering; there is irony, cajolery, good-natured satire, and loud outbursts of laughter. And there is tenderness in them—kindness,[v] gentleness, devotion, affection, and love. We find in them every human passion—and every divine emotion. They form a new insight into character and manhood—they inspire us with a new and deeper faith in humanity.

The committee in making these selections found that many of the human documents of the Great War are being preserved by the British, French, and German publishing houses, but it is the American publishers who are performing the greatest service in the preservation of war literature. We have given consideration wherever possible to the notable work that is being done by our American colleagues. While we have selected from all sources what we consider to be the best stories of the war, giving full recognition in every instance to the original sources, it is a pleasure to state that our American periodicals have been given the preference. They cordially co-operated with us in this undertaking and we trust the public will show their due appreciation. We would especially call attention to the list of books and publishers recorded in the contents pages of the several volumes; also to the periodicals which are preserving many of the human stories of the war. These will form the basis for much of the literature of the future.

As editor-in-chief of these volumes, I desire further to give full recognition to my associates: Mr. M. M. Lourens, of the University of Leyden; Mr. Egbert Gilliss Handy, founder of The Search-Light Library; Mr. Walter R. Bickford, former managing editor of The Journal of American History; and the staff of investigators at The Search-Light Library who made the extensive researches and comprehensive bibliographies—covering the whole range of literature on The Great War—required as a basis for the production of these books.

Francis Trevelyan Miller.




The Board of Editors in accordance with the plan outlined in "Introductory" for collecting the "Best Stories of the War," has selected this group of stories for VOLUME I from the most authentic sources in Europe and America. This volume includes 170 episodes and tales of adventure told by twenty-six story-tellers—Soldiers, Staff Observers, Officers, Despatch Riders, Cavalrymen, Aviators, Nurses, Prisoners, Raiders, Secret Service Men and American soldiers. Full credit is given in every instance to the original sources.

Told by Hall Caine
(Permission of J. B. Lippincott Company)
Told by Pierre Loti
(Permission of J. B. Lippincott Company)
Told by Rene Bazin
(Permission of Current History)
Told by Gabriele D'Annunzio
(Permission of London Telegraph)
Told by Count Ilya Tolstoy
(Permission of Current History)
Told by Queen Marie of Rumania
(Permission of Philadelphia Public Ledger)
Told by Sven Hedin
(Permission of John Lane Company)
Told by Captain Ian Hay Beith
(Permission of Houghton, Mifflin and Company)
Told by Mina Macdonald
(Permission of Longmans, Green and Company)
Told by Eric Erichsen
(Permission of Robert M. McBride and Company)
Told by Capt. W. H. L. Watson
(Permission of Dodd, Mead and Company)
Told by Edmund Yerbury Priestman
(Permission of E. P. Dutton and Company)
Told by Lieut. Marcel Dupont
(Permission of J. B. Lippincott Company)
Told by Violetta Thurston
(Permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons)
Told by Ernesta Drinker Bullitt
(Permission of Doubleday, Page and Company)
Told by Donald Hankey
(Permission of E. P. Dutton and Company)
Told by Patrick MacGill
(Permission of George H. Doran Company)
Told by Frank H. Simonds
(Permission of American Review of Reviews)
    IN FRANCE246
Told by Lincoln Eyre, with Pershing's Army
(Permission of New York World)
Told by Gordon Gordon-Smith
(Permission of New York Tribune)
Told by the Men in the Tanks
Told by Private Miron D. Arber
(Permission of Wide World Magazine)
Told by the Air Raiders Themselves
(Permission of New York American)
Told by (name withheld), an Eye-Witness
(Permission of New York Evening World, Los Angeles Times, and Literary Digest)
Told by Passengers of the Ill-Fated "Lusitania"
(Permission of New York Sun)

Photo by International News Service.


A Better Defense Against Enemy Eyes Than Against Bullets or Shells!

"Canadian War Records, Copyright Reserved."


Watching Artillery Fire From an Advance Pit in No-Man's-Land


A Battery of Heavy Howitzers Doing its Part in Hammering the Enemy into Proper Condition for a Charge

© International News Service.


A Few Minutes Later These Britishers Were in the German Trenches



"How I Met the Kaiser, Crown Prince and Archduke"

Told by Hall Caine, Famous British Novelist, Who Offered All to His Country

This celebrated novelist, since the outbreak of the War, has fought a noble battle for the Anglo-Saxon race with the "pen that is mightier than the sword." His appeals to America have been the voice of a world patriot calling in the name of humanity. He presents the great actors in vivid pen pictures, the Kaiser, the Crown Prince, the Archduke. The following pen sketches are from "The Drama of 365 Days," by permission of the publishers J. B. Lippincott Company: Copyright, 1915.


Other whisperings there were of the storm that was so soon to burst on the world. In the ominous silence there were rumours of a certain change that was coming over the spirit of the Kaiser. For long years he had been credited with a sincere love of peace, and a ceaseless desire to restrain the forces about him that were making for war. Although constantly occupied with the making of a big army, and inspiring it with great ideals, he was thought to have as little desire for actual warfare as his ancestor, Frederick William, had shown, while gathering up his giant guardsmen and refusing to allow them to fight. Particularly it was believed in Berlin (not altogether graciously) that his affection for, and even fear of his grandmother, Queen Victoria, would compel him to exhaust all efforts to preserve peace in the event of trouble with Great Britain. But Victoria was dead, and King Edward might perhaps be smiled at—behind his back—and then a younger generation was knocking at the Kaiser's door in the person of his eldest son, who represented forces which he might not long be able to hold in check. How would he act now?


Thousands of persons in this country had countless opportunities before the war of forming an estimate of the Kaiser's character. I had only one, and it was not of the best. For years the English traveller abroad felt as if he were always following in the track of a grandiose personality who was playing on the scene of the world as on a stage, fond as an actor of dressing up in fine uniforms, of making pictures, scenes, and impressions, and leaving his visible mark behind him—as in the case of the huge gap in the thick walls of Jerusalem, torn down (it was said with his consent) to let his equipage pass through.

In Rome I saw a man who was a true son of his ancestors. Never had the laws of heredity better justified themselves. Frederick William, Frederick the Great, William the First—the Hohenzollerns were all there. The glittering eyes, the withered arm, the features that gave signs of frightful periodical pain, the immense energy, the gigantic egotism, the ravenous vanity, the fanaticism amounting to frenzy, the dominating power, the dictatorial temper, the indifference to suffering (whether his own or other people's), the overbearing suppression of opposing opinions, the determination to control everybody's interest, everybody's work—I thought all this was written in the Kaiser's masterful face.


Then came stories. One of my friends in Rome was an American doctor who had been called to attend a lady of the Emperor's household. "Well, doctor, what's she suffering from?" said the Kaiser. The doctor told him. "Nothing of the kind—you're entirely wrong. She's suffering from so and so," said the Majesty of Germany, stamping up and down the room. At length the American doctor lost control. "Sir," he said, "in my country we have a saying that one bad practitioner is worth twenty good amateurs—you're the amateur." The doctor lived through it. Frederick William would have dragged him to the window and tried to fling him out of it. William II put his arm round the doctor's shoulder and said, "I didn't mean to hurt you, old fellow. Let us sit down and talk."

A soldier came with another story. After a sham fight conducted by the Kaiser the generals of the German army had been summoned to say what they thought of the Royal manœuvers. All had formed an unfavourable opinion, yet one after another, with some insincere compliment, had wriggled out of the difficulty of candid criticism. But at length came an officer, who said:

"Sir, if it had been real warfare to-day there wouldn't be enough wood in Germany to make coffins for the men who would be dead."

The general lived through it, too—at first in a certain disfavour, but afterwards in recovered honour.

Such was the Kaiser, who a year ago had to meet the mighty wind of War. He was in Norway for his usual summer holiday in July, 1914, when affairs were reaching their crisis. Rumour has it that he was not satisfied with the measure of the information that was reaching him, therefore he returned to Berlin, somewhat to the discomfiture of his ministers, intending, it is said, for various reasons (not necessarily humanitarian) to stop or[4] at least postpone the war. If so, he arrived too late. He was told that matters had gone too far. They must go on now. "Very well, if they must, they must," he is reported to have said. And there is the familiar story that after he had signed his name on the first of August to the document that plunged Europe into the conflict that has since shaken it to its foundations, he flung down his pen and cried, "You'll live to regret this, gentlemen."


And then the Crown Prince. In August of last year nine out of every ten of us would have said that not the father, but the son, of the Royal family of Germany had been the chief provocative cause of the war. Subsequent events have lessened the weight of that opinion. But the young man's known popularity among an active section of the officers of the army; their subterranean schemes to set him off against his father; a vague suspicion of the Kaiser's jealousy of his eldest son—all these facts and shadows of facts give colour to the impression that not least among the forces which led the Emperor on that fateful first of August to declare war against Russia was the presence and the importunity of the Crown Prince. What kind of man was it, then, whom the invisible powers of evil were employing to precipitate this insensate struggle?

Hundreds of persons in England, France, Russia and Italy must have met the Crown Prince of Germany at more or less close quarters, and formed their own estimates of his character. The barbed-wire fence of protective ceremony which usually surrounds Royal personages, concealing their little human foibles, was periodically broken down in the case of the Heir-Apparent to the German Throne by his incursion every winter into a small cosmopolitan community which repaired to the[5] snows of the Engadine for health or pleasure. In that stark environment I myself, in common with many others, saw the descendant of the Fredericks every day, for several weeks of several years, at a distance that called for no intellectual field-glasses. And now I venture to say, for whatever it may be worth, that the result was an entirely unfavourable impression.

I saw a young man without a particle of natural distinction, whether physical, moral, or mental. The figure, long rather than tall; the hatchet face, the selfish eyes, the meaningless mouth, the retreating forehead, the vanishing chin, the energy that expressed itself merely in restless movement, achieving little, and often aiming at nothing at all; the uncultivated intellect, the narrow views of life and the world; the morbid craving for change, for excitement of any sort; the indifference to other people's feelings, the shockingly bad manners, the assumption of a right to disregard and even to outrage the common conventions on which social intercourse depends—all this was, so far as my observation enabled me to judge, only too plainly apparent in the person of the Crown Prince.

Outside the narrow group that gathered about him (a group hailing, ironically enough, from the land of a great Republic) I cannot remember to have heard in any winter one really warm word about him, one story of an act of kindness, or even generous condescension, such as it is easy for a royal personage to perform. On the contrary, I was constantly hearing tales of silly fooleries, of overbearing behaviour, of deliberate rudeness, such as irresistibly recalled, in spirit if not in form, the conduct of the common barrator in the guise of a king, who, if Macaulay's stories are to be credited, used to kick a lady in the open streets and tell her to go home and mind her brats.



Then the Archduke Ferdinand of Austro-Hungary, whose assassination was the ostensible cause of this devastating war—what kind of man was he? Quite a different person from the Crown Prince, and yet, so far as I could judge, just as little worthy of the appalling sacrifice of human life which his death has occasioned.

Not long before his tragic end I spent a month under the same roof with him, and though the house was only an hotel, it was situated in a remote place, and though I was not in any sense of the Archduke's party, I walked and talked frequently with most of the members of it, and so, with the added help of daily observation, came to certain conclusions about the character of the principal personage.

A middle-aged man, stiff-set, heavy-jawed, with a strong step, and a short manner; obviously proud, reserved, silent, slightly imperious, self-centred, self-opinionated, well-educated in the kind of knowledge all such men must possess, but narrow in intellect, retrograde in sympathy, a stickler for social conventions, an almost unyielding upholder of royal rights, prerogatives, customs, and usages (although by his own marriage he had violated one of the first of the laws of his class, and by his unfailing fidelity to his wife continued to resist it), superstitious rather than religious, an immense admirer of the Kaiser, and a decidedly hostile critic of our own country—such was the general impression made on one British observer by the Archduke Ferdinand.

The man is dead; he took no part in the war, except unwittingly by the act of dying, and therefore one could wish to speak of him with respect and restraint. Otherwise it might be possible to justify this estimate of his[7] character by the narration of little incidents, and one such, though trivial in itself, may perhaps bear description. The younger guests of the hotel in the mountains had got up a fancy dress ball, and among persons clad in all conceivable costumes, including those of monks, cardinals, and even popes, a lady of demure manners, who did not dance, had come downstairs in the habit of a nun. This aroused the superstitious indignation of the Archduke, who demanded that the lady should retire from the room instantly, or he would order his carriage and leave the hotel at once.

Of course, the inevitable happened—the Archduke's will became law, and the lady went upstairs in tears, while I and two or three others (Catholics among us) thought and said, "Heaven help Europe when the time comes for its destinies to depend largely on the judgment of a man whose bemuddled intellect cannot distinguish between morality of the real world and of an entirely fantastic and fictitious one."

(Hall Caine in his pen portraits from the War describes "A Conversation with Lord Roberts"; "The Motherhood of France"; "The Russian Soul"; "The Soul of Poland"; "The Part Played by Italy," and sixty-two dramatic sketches.)


[1] All numerals throughout these volumes are for the purpose of enumerating the various stories and episodes herein told—they have no relation to the chapters in the original sources.



"I Am Bound on a Mission from the President of France"

Told by Pierre Loti, of the French Academy, and Captain in the French Navy

This master of the modern school of French letters offered his services to his Country at the outbreak of the War. As Captain Julien Viaud, of the Naval Reserve, this famous author was assigned to the dockyards. He longed for more active service and appealed to the Minister of Marine: "I should accept with joy, with pride, any position whatsoever that would bring me nearer to the fighting line, even if it were a very subordinate post, one much below the dignity of my five rows of gold braid." With his masterful touch Pierre Loti is immortalizing the War in literature. The story here told of his visit to King Albert, of Belgium, is from his notable story entitled "War" in which he describes with simple but touching words his encounters with wounded soldiers, sisters of mercy and homeless little Belgian orphans. This one story from his book of twenty-five inspiring chapters is reproduced by permission of his publishers, J. B. Lippincott Company: Copyright 1917.


To-day on my way to the General Headquarters of the Belgian Army, whither I am bound on a mission from the President of the French Republic to His Majesty King Albert, I pass through Furnes, another town wantonly and savagely bombarded, where at this hour of the[9] day there is a raging storm of icy wind, snow, rain, and hail, under a black sky.

Here as at Ypres the barbarians bent their whole soul on the destruction of the historical part, the charming old town hall and its surroundings. It is here that King Albert, driven forth from his palace, established himself at first. Thereupon the Germans, with that delicacy of feeling to which at present no one in the world disputes their claim, immediately made this place their objective, in order to bombard it with their brutal, heavy shells. I need hardly say that there was scarcely anyone in the streets, where I slowed down my motor so that I might have leisure for a better appreciation of the effects of the Kaiser's "work of civilisation"; there were only some groups of soldiers, fully armed, some with their coat-collars turned up, others with the back curtains of their service-caps turned down. They hastened along in the squalls, running like children, and laughing good-humouredly, as if it were very amusing, this downpour, which for once was not of fire.

How is it that there is no atmosphere of sadness about this half-empty town? It is as if the gaiety of these soldiers, in spite of the gloomy weather, had communicated itself to the ruined surroundings. And how full of splendid health and spirits they seem! I see no more on any faces that somewhat startled, haggard expression, common at the beginning of the war. The outdoor life, combined with good food, has bronzed the cheeks of these men whom the shrapnel has spared, but their principal support and stay is their complete confidence, their conviction that they have already gained the upper hand and are marching to victory. The invasion of the Boches will pass away like this horrible weather, which after all is only a last shower of March; it will all come to an end.



At a turning, during a lull in the storm, I come very unexpectedly upon a little knot of French sailors. I cannot refrain from beckoning to them, as one would beckon to children whom one had suddenly found again in some distant jungle, and they come running to the door of my car equally delighted to see someone in naval uniform. They seem to be picked men; they have such gallant, comely faces and such frank, spirited eyes. Other sailors, too, who were passing by at a little distance and whom I had not called, come likewise and surround me as if it were the natural thing to do, but with respectful familiarity, for are we not in a strange country, and at war? Only yesterday, they tell me, they arrived a whole battalion strong, with their officers, and they are camping in a neighbouring village while waiting to "down" the Boches. And I should like so much to make a détour and pay them a visit in their own camp if I were not pressed for time, tied down to the hour of my audience with His Majesty. Indeed it gives me pleasure to associate with our soldiers, but it is a still greater delight to associate with our sailors, among whom I passed forty years of my life. Even before I caught sight of them, just from hearing them talk, I could recognise them for what they were. More than once, on our military thoroughfares in the north, on a pitch-dark night, when it was one of their detachments who stopped me to demand the password, I have recognised them simply by the sound of their voices.

One of our generals, army commander on the Northern Front, was speaking to me yesterday of that pleasant, kindly familiarity which prevails from the highest to the lowest grade of the military ladder, and which is a new[11] tone characteristic of this essentially national war in which we all march hand in hand.

"In the trenches," he said to me, "if I stop to talk to a soldier, other soldiers gather round me so that I may talk to them too. And they are becoming more and more admirable for their high spirits and their brotherliness. If only our thousands of dead could be restored to us what a benefit this war would have bestowed upon us, drawing us near together, until we all possess but one heart."

It is a long way to the General Headquarters. Out in the open country the weather is appalling beyond description. The roads are broken up, fields flooded until they resemble marshes, and sometimes there are trenches, chevaux de frise, reminding the traveller that the barbarians are still very near. And yet all this, which ought to be depressing, no longer succeeds in being so. Every meeting with soldiers—and the car passes them every minute—is sufficient to restore your serenity. They have all the same cheerful faces, expressive of courage and gaiety. Even the poor sappers, up to their knees in water, working hard to repair the shelter pits and defences, have an expression of gaiety under their dripping service-caps. What numbers of soldiers there are in the smallest villages, Belgian and French, very fraternally intermingling. By what wonderful organisation of the commissariat are these men housed and fed?

But who asserted that there were no Belgian soldiers left? On the contrary, I pass imposing detachments on their way to the front, in good order, admirably equipped, and of fine bearing, with a convoy of excellent artillery of the very latest pattern. Never can enough be said in praise of the heroism of a people who had every reason for not preparing themselves for war, since they were under the protection of solemn treaties that should have[12] preserved them forever from any such necessity, yet who, nevertheless, sustained and checked the brunt of the attack of the great barbarism. Disabled at first and almost annihilated, yet they are recovering themselves and gathering around their sublimely heroic king.


It is raining, raining, and we are numb with cold, but we have arrived at last, and in another moment I shall see him, the King, without reproach and without fear. Were it not for these troops and all these service motor cars, it would be impossible to believe that this remote village was the General Headquarters. I have to leave the car, for the road which leads to the royal residence is nothing more than a footpath. Among the rough motor cars standing there, all stained with mud from the roads, there is one car of superior design, having no armorial bearings of any kind, nothing but two letters traced in chalk on the black door, S.M. (Sa Majesté), for this is his car. In this charming corner of ancient Flanders, in an old abbey, surrounded by trees and tombs, here is his dwelling. Out in the rain, on the path which borders on the little sacred cemetery, an aide-de-camp comes to meet me, a man with the charm and simplicity that no doubt likewise characterise his sovereign. There are no guards at the entrance to the dwelling, and no ceremony is observed. At the end of an unimposing corridor where I have just time to remove my overcoat, in the embrasure of an opening door, the King appears, erect, tall, slender, with regular features and a surprising air of youth, with frank eyes, gentle and noble in expression, stretching out his hand in kindly welcome.

In the course of my life other kings and emperors have been gracious enough to receive me, but in spite of[13] pomp, in spite of the splendour of some of their palaces, I have never yet felt such reverence for sovereign majesty as here, on the threshold of this little house, where it is infinitely exalted by calamity and self-sacrifice; and when I express this sentiment to King Albert he replies with a smile, "Oh, as for my palace," and he completes his phrase with a negligent wave of the hand, indicating his humble surroundings. It is indeed a simple room that I have just entered, yet by the mere absence of all vulgarity, still possessing distinction. A bookcase crowded with books occupies the whole of one wall; in the background there is an open piano with a music-book on the stand; in the middle a large table, covered with maps and strategic plans; and the window, open in spite of the cold, looks out on to a little old-world garden, like that of a parish priest, almost completely enclosed, stripped of its leaves, melancholy, weeping, as it were, the rains of winter.

After I have executed the simple mission entrusted to me by the President of the Republic, the King graciously detains me a long time in conversation. But if I felt reluctant to write even the beginning of these notes, still more do I hesitate to touch upon this interview, even with the utmost discretion, and then how colourless will it seem, all that I shall venture to say! It is because in truth I know that he never ceases to enjoin upon those around him, "Above all, see that people do not talk about me," because I know and understand so well the horror he professes for anything resembling an "interview." So then at first I made up my mind to be silent, and yet when there is an opportunity of making himself heard, who would not long to help to spread abroad, to the utmost of his small ability, the renown of such a name?

Very striking in the first place is the sincere and exquisite[14] modesty of his heroic nature; it is almost as if he were unaware that he is worthy of admiration. In his opinion he has less deserved the veneration which France has devoted to him, and his popularity among us, than the least of his soldiers, slain for our common defence. When I tell him that I have seen even in the depths of the country, in peasants' cottages, the portraits of the King and Queen of the Belgians in the place of honour, with little flags, black, yellow and red, piously pinned around them, he appears scarcely to believe me; his smile and his silence seem to answer:

"Yet all that I did was so natural. Could a king worthy of the name have acted in any other way?"

Now we talk about the Dardanelles, where in this hour serious issues hang in the balance; he is pleased to question me about ambushes in those parts, which I frequented for so long a time, and which have not ceased to be very dear to me. But suddenly a colder gust blows in through the window, still opening on to the forlorn little garden. With what kindly thoughtfulness, then, he rises, as any ordinary officer might have done, and himself closes the window near which I am seated.

And then we talk of war, of rifles, of artillery. His Majesty is well posted in everything, like a general already broken in to his craft.


Strange destiny for a prince, who, in the beginning, did not seem designated for the throne, and who, perhaps, would have preferred to go on living his former somewhat retired life by the side of his beloved princess. Then, when the unlooked-for crown was placed upon his youthful brow, he might well have believed that he[15] could hope for an era of profound peace, in the midst of the most peaceful of all nations, but, contrary to every expectation, he has known the most appallingly tragic reign of all. Between one day and the next, without a moment's weakness, without even a moment's hesitation, disdainful of compromises, which for a time, at least, though to the detriment of the civilisation of the world, might have preserved for a little space his towns and palaces, he stood erect in the way of the Monster's onrush, a great warrior king in the midst of an army of heroes.

To-day it is clear that he has no longer a doubt of victory, and his own loyalty gives him complete confidence in the loyalty of the Allies, who truly desire to restore life to his country of Belgium; nevertheless, he insists that his soldiers shall co-operate with all their remaining strength in the work of deliverance, and that they shall remain to the end at the post of danger and honour. Let us salute him with the profoundest reverence.

Another less noble, might have said to himself:

"I have amply paid my debt to the common cause; it was my troops who built the first rampart against barbarism. My country, the first to be trampled under the feet of these German brutes, is no more than a heap of ruins. That suffices."

But no, he will have the name of Belgium inscribed upon a yet prouder page, by the side of Serbia, in the golden book of history.

And that is the reason why I met on my way those inestimable troops, alert and fresh, miraculously revived, who were on their way to the front to continue the holy struggle.

Before him let us bow down to the very ground.

Night is falling when the audience comes to an end[16] and I find myself again on the footpath that leads to the abbey. On my return journey, along those roads broken up by rain and by military transport wagons, I remain under the charm of his welcome. And I compare these two monarchs, situated, as it were, at opposite poles of humanity, the one at the pole of light, the other at the pole of darkness; the one yonder, swollen with hypocrisy and arrogance, a monster among monsters, his hands full of blood, his nails full of torn flesh, who still dares to surround himself with insolent pomp; the other here, banished without a murmur to a little house in a village, standing on a last strip of his martyred kingdom, but in whose honour rises from the whole civilised earth a concert of sympathy, enthusiasm, magnificent appreciation, and for whom are stored up crowns of most pure and immortal glory.


(Another Story Told by Pierre Loti)

The blood of the masters is drenching the soil of France. The great academicians are willing to die that their beloved France may live. Here we stand on the battleground with this great French novelist, whose impressions are told in Current History.

This is the first time that I have found myself so absolutely and infinitely alone, in the midst of this stage setting of immense desolation, which to-day, as it chances, is sparkling with light, and is only the more mournful for that. Until I reach the little wood to which an errand of duty calls me I need think of nothing; I need not occupy myself with anything; I need not avoid the shells,[17] which would not give me time to avoid them, nor even choose the spot to set my foot down, since it sinks in everywhere equally. And so it comes that I drift back again to the mood of former days, to my mood of mind before the war, and all these things to which I have grown used I see and judge as though they were new.

Only a score of months ago who would have imagined such a face of things? Thus, these countless excavations—white, because the soil of this region is white—excavations that stretch on all sides and which mark across the wilderness multitudes of zebra-tracings—is it possible that they mark out the only paths along which our soldiers of France can move to-day with a sort of half security?... Little sunken ways, some of them full of curves, some of them straight, which have been named "guts," and which we have had to multiply, to multiply to such a point that the earth is furrowed by them to infinity! What an enormous sum of toil they represent, these mole paths, lying in a network over hundreds of leagues! If we add the trenches, the shelter caves, all these catacombs that plunge down into the hearts of the hills, one's mind stops dead before such a total of excavation, that might seem the work of centuries.

And these things that look like fishing nets stretched on all sides. If one were not informed in advance and accustomed to them, could one divine what they can possibly be? You might think that gigantic spiders had been spinning their webs among these myriads of posts, sometimes planted in straight lines, sometimes forming circles or half moons, tracing across the wide expanse designs that must be cabalistic in order better to ensnare and envelop the Barbarians. And besides they have terribly reinforced them, multiplying them twice, nay, ten times, since my last passage, these stake nets, and our[18] web-spinning soldiers have had to make among them turnings and passages, with the enormous reels of barbed wire which they carry under their arms.

But there is one thing that you can understand at the first glance, and which adds to the grim horror of the whole scene, and that is the inclosures sprinkled here and there, the wooden fences that shut in closely packed groups of poor little burial crosses, made of two pieces of wood. That you can tell at once, alas! and see exactly what it is! Here they lie, therefore, under the thunder of the big guns, as though the battle was not yet finished for them, our dear departed ones, our unknown, magnificent heroes—whom even those who weep for them cannot now come nigh, because death is passing ceaselessly in the air above their silent little gatherings.

Ah! To complete the unreality of it all, here comes a black bird of gigantic wing-stretch, a monster of the apocalypse, that flits past noisily high above me. He flies on toward France, seeking doubtless the more sheltered region where women and children begin to be found, with the hope of slaughtering some of them.


I walk on, if one call it walking, this wearisome and inexorable process of plunging through the mud. And finally I arrive at the little grove of trees where we are to meet. I am glad of it, for my helmet and cloak had become a heavy burden under this unexpectedly burning sun. It happens that I am the first to arrive; the officer whom I have summoned—to discuss new defense works, new lines of stake nets, new burrows—is without doubt that blue outline making its way hither, but he is still distant, and I have still a few moments to continue my[19] meditation of the way hither before it is time to become once more concentrated and exact. It is clear that the place is not left entirely alone, for these poor, half-stripped branches offer no more resistance than mere sheets of paper to the huge humming beetles that pass through them from time to time; but all the same a little wood like this keeps you company, shuts you in, spreads something of illusion about you.

I am on a bit of rising ground, from which I look down on all the terrible landscape, the succession of monotonous hillocks zebra-streaked by whitish "guts," and the few trees disheveled by shrapnel bullets. In the further distances these intertwined wires, stretched in all directions, sparkle in the sun, somewhat like "the Virgin's threads," which spread over the meadows in Spring. And on all sides the detonations of artillery keep up their accustomed rumble, which goes on unceasingly here, night and day, like the roar of the ocean against the cliffs.

Ah! the huge bird has found some one to speak to in the air! I see it all at once assailed by a host of those little tufts of white cotton—bursting shrapnel—which look so innocent, but which are so perilous for birds of its breed. It turns about hastily; its crimes are put off for another time.

From behind a nearby rising ground come forth a group of men in blue, who will reach me before the officer who is coming over there. It is the chance one, the one among thousands of these little processions which one meets incessantly, alas! along the battle front, and which form, so to speak, part of the stage setting. At its head four soldiers are carrying a stretcher, and others are following, to relieve them. Attracted also by the illusory protection of the branches, they stop instinctively at the entrance of the little wood to take breath and[20] change shoulders. They come from the first-line trenches, which are three or four kilometers away, and are carrying a "gravely wounded" man to an underground hospital, which is some quarter of an hour away. They also had not foreseen this vicious sun that scorches one's head; they are wearing their helmets and cloaks, and they feel the weight of them as much as that of the precious load which they take such pains to carry steadily; more, they drag along, on each foot, a thick shell of sticky mud which gives them feet like elephants, and the sweat runs in big drops over their fine, tired faces.

"What is the matter with your wounded man?" I ask in a low voice.

In still lower voices they answer me: "He is ripped up the belly—oh! the trench surgeon told us that...." They finish the sentence only with a shake of the head, but I understand. For the rest, he has not stirred. His poor hand remains pressed to his brow and his eyes, doubtless to protect them against the baking sun, and I ask: "Why did you not cover his face?" "We did put a handkerchief over it, Colonel, but he took it away; he said he would rather have it like that, so that he can still see something between his fingers."


Ah! but the two last men, besides sweat, have broad smears of blood across their faces and running down their necks. "Oh, nothing much the matter with us, Colonel!" they tell me; "we got that as we came along. We started to carry him along the 'guts,' but it shook him too much; so we came on outside in the open." Poor, admirable dreamer! To save their wounded man from jolting they have risked all their lives! Two or three of these huge death beetles which ceaselessly hum[21] past have smashed themselves near them against the stones and have sprinkled them with their fragments; the Germans do not take the trouble to shoot at a single passerby like myself, but a group, and especially a litter, is irresistible for them. Of the two who are streaming with blood, one is, perhaps, not much the worse, but the other has an ear torn off, and hanging only by a shred of skin.

"You must get your wound dressed by the surgeon immediately, my friend," I say to him.

"Yes, Colonel, we are on our way there to the hospital. It suits exactly."

That is the only thing that has occurred to him to say in complaint: "It suits exactly." And he says it with such a fine, quiet smile, while thanking me for taking an interest in him.

I hesitate to go closer to look at their gravely wounded man, who has remained without stirring, for fear I might disturb his last thoughts. I do go close to him, however, very gently, because they are going to carry him away.

Ah! He is a mere lad! A village boy; one can guess that at once by his bronzed cheeks, which have just begun to grow pale. The sun, as he wishes, floods his handsome 20-year-old face, which is at the same time vigorous and candid, and his hand is still held like a guard before his eyes, which are set and seem no longer to perceive anything. They must have given him morphine to keep him from suffering too much. Humble child of our countryside, brief little life, what is he dreaming of, if he is still dreaming? Perhaps of his kerchiefed mamma, who wept happy tears every time she recognized his childish writing on an envelope from the front? Or is he dreaming of the farm garden that held his earliest years?


I see on his breast the handkerchief with which they tried to cover his face; it is of fine linen, embroidered with a Marquis's coronet—the coronet of one of his bearers. He had wanted "to go on seeing things," doubtless in his terror of the great night. But even this sun, which must dazzle him, will soon cease suddenly to be recognizable for him; to begin with, it will be the half-darkness of the hospital, and, immediately afterward, will begin for him the long inexorable night, in which no sun will ever dawn again.



Last Messages of French Soldiers

Told by Rene Bazin, Member of the French Academy

Behind the dry official reports of military events is a vast fund of emotional human stories. Glimpses of this side of the Great War are found in private letters, personal experiences, and thrilling episodes of courage, humor, or pathos which are being preserved in the New York Times Current History.

I have heard magnificent sayings of our soldiers; others have been written to me by those who heard them. I would not have them perish. It seems to me that they naturally form a part of the epoch we are living through; that they are good to read and meditate on, unconscious testimonies of that which historians will call the new life of France, of that which has ever been her deeper life, widened and developed in this hour of trial.

Therefore I shall record here not all these sayings and traits, but some of them.

At B., in the hospital of the Grand Hotel, a wounded soldier was to have a limb amputated. But he was so weak that the surgeon hesitated.

"If we could only give him some blood!"

"If that is all that is needed I am ready to give it!" answers another wounded soldier, a Breton.

The transfusion is made. The staff of the hospital, touched by the devotion of this wounded soldier, who was known to be very poor, made a little collection here and there, very quietly, and gathered five hundred[24] francs, which they took great satisfaction in offering to him. One day one of them came close to his bed, spoke of the service he had rendered, thanked him and offered him the money. Mark his answer:

"Oh, no! I give my blood; I do not sell it!"

A very young soldier from the North, with a beardless and rather childish face, is stretched at the back of a trench, dying from a terrible shell wound in the stomach. In spite of the frightful wound he does not complain, he does not repine, and in his wide, upward-gazing eyes one could just perceive the expression of sadness which he often had. For since mobilizing he had received no news from his home in the occupied territory. His comrades are doing what they can for him, offering him water to drink, unbuttoning his tunic, trying to stanch the blood. Opening his eyes, which he had kept for a long moment closed, and no longer with an expression of suffering, he said to one of his comrades, a big, hairy fellow who was bending over him:

"Friend, you must not tell mother what a frightful wound I had! A bullet is better than what I have!" Then he distributed a few little things he had in his pocket—his knife, his purse, a corkscrew, a tinder-box—a last testament soon ended. Finally, with difficulty, he opened his notebook and, setting himself to write, though he could no longer see very clearly, he traced a few lines. When he had finished his soul departed.... Three minutes later, as the word of his end spread along the trench, at this time not under heavy bombardment by the enemy, a Captain arrived, smeared with mud up to the shoulders. He saw the soldier. "Oh, poor boy! One of my bravest!" Respectfully he took the notebook, which had fallen on the ground, opened it and read: "Au revoir, father; au revoir, mother; au revoir, little sisters; I am dying for my country. Vive la France!"


Sergeant Raissac of Beziers was mortally wounded in an assault on a German trench. When they lifted his body his hand still held a photograph representing his mother, his sisters and himself, and on the back of the picture he had managed to write, with his last effort, "Adieu! No tears, but a Christian acceptance. I am at peace with God."

Yesterday, during his two days' leave, I met the son of a poor countrywoman, a workman whom I have loved for a long time. When I took leave of him, saying, "Good luck to you, Marcel!" he looked up with unreproaching eyes and answered me: "On the one side, and on the other, I fear nothing!" And this meant: "Life? Death? What does it matter? I am ready!"

What does all this signify? It is the poetry of chivalry that continues; it is the unfinished Crusade; it is God making Himself manifest through purified France.

Those who seek the sublime will find nothing grander.


Told by Maurice Barrès, in memory of Max Barthou, who volunteered at eighteen

I believe that young heroes abound at this moment when every family is cruelly involved in the war. The son dreams of helping his father, his elder brothers, of joining them, of avenging them. Are his city and his home invaded? With his whole heart he tries and examines himself as to what his duty and his honour demand. I remember how the minds of my companions, some 10 years old, and our slightly older brothers were fired in 1870....

Do you wish me to bring you my contribution to the monument of our young patriots?


First, a little story. On Nov. 24, 1914, on a cold day, about 3 in the afternoon, the Prussians, whom they call "Boches," are once again trying to cross the frontier, to enter France. It is very cold, there is a high wind, and snow covers the ground. Who tells the story? A workman at the front, who, from the neighbourhood of Pont-à-Mousson, writes to his two little children at his home at Neuillez sur Marne. They gave me his letter. I should spoil it if I retouched it. I transcribe it just as it is:

"My dear little Marcella, this story, which happened to some French soldiers, you are to tell to your little Charlie and your companions, and you are to show them how two little children saved the lives of twenty-eight papas.

"In a lonely farmhouse a detachment of reservists, composed of thirty men, are resting from the labours of the night in an underground cellar, waiting for the next night to begin their work again and accomplish their mission.

In a room about them, two children, Liza and John, are sitting beside their mamma near the fire. All three talk the old country dialect. All at once the mother rises, runs to the door and sees some horsemen coming from a distance.

"'My children,' she says, pressing them to her heart, 'I think the Prussians are coming. They will see that we have lodged and fed French soldiers, and they will surely want to make us tell where they are. They will take them and shoot them.'

"'We must say they have gone away there, just in the opposite direction!' said little John.

"'Oh, no!' said their mamma; 'if we deceive them with a lie they will come back and take vengeance. Listen rather! I shall speak to the Prussians only in dialect, and they won't understand a word. Do you also[27] do as I do, and, to everything they say, answer always in the same phrase, in dialect.'

"The clatter of hoofs was heard, and the rattle of weapons.

"'Courage, my children!' said their mamma. The door opens. The Boches enter. They ask questions, but the mother's answers are unintelligible to them.

"'Look at these two children! They must learn French at school,' said the officer, who spoke a little French.

"One of the Germans seized little Lisa, while another caught little John.

"'Where is your father?' he asked in a harsh voice. 'Where are the French that passed here?'

"Lisa raised her blue eyes to this foreign soldier and, all trembling, replied in dialect. John did the same. The soldiers, irritated, suspecting a trick, searched the house, but did not find the trap-door which had been previously covered with dirty straw. They threatened to cut the children's throats. They told them they would kill their mother, too, if they did not answer. The poor children began to cry, but, faithful to their mother's directions, they repeated, through their tears, the same phrase.

"The French soldiers who were in the cellar and who heard everything through a ventilator felt their blood boil, and, but for their officer, would have come forth to protect the poor children, and, without doubt, would have been killed, for they were outnumbered.

"The Prussians did not think that such young children, threatened with death, would be capable of such heroic discretion; they ended by believing that they could not make themselves understood and rode away.

"And that is how two little children, Lisa, aged 8, and John, aged 10, by their obedience to their mother and by courage kept thirty men from being killed, twenty-eight[28] wives still have their husbands, and forty-seven little children have their papas. Among these forty-seven little children my little Marcella and my little Charlie will perhaps see their papa again."

I leave this story in its fine simplicity. A workman who had become a soldier chats with his children far away. But the chief attraction in it for me is that the fact reported is quite authentic. I know the farm in the district of Meurthe et Moselle, and later on I shall tell its name, as well as those of the farmer's wife and the two children, who have received a well-earned reward.



"Where Minutes Are Eternal"

Told by Gabriele D'Annunzio, Italy's Most Famous Living Poet and a Lieutenant in the Italian Navy

The great D'Annunzio, like most of the famous poets, painters, and composers of Europe, is offering his life to his country. He is a Lieutenant in the Italian Navy. Occasionally some word is heard from him in which we see war through the eyes of the poet. He sent this graphic description of his experiences as a mine-layer to the London Telegraph of December 29, 1915.


It can be said of the Italian war what Percy Bysshe Shelley said of the Medusa's head which he saw in Florence, and which he attributed to Leonardo da Vinci: "Its beauty and its horror are divine."

This night of danger and death is one of the sweetest that ever spread its blue veil over the face of the heavens. The sea darkens, and in its innumerable pulsations the nocturnal phosphoresence is already discernible. Here and there the rippled surface of the sea glitters with an internal light as a quivering eyelid, disclosing mysterious glances. The new moon is like a burning handful of sulphur. Ever and anon the black cloud of smoke rising from the funnels hides it or appears to drag it in its spirals like a moving flame.

Life is not an abstraction of aspects and events, but a sort of diffused sensuousness, a knowledge offered to all the senses, a substance good to touch, smell, taste, feel. In fact, I feel all the things near to my senses,[30] like the fisherman walking barefooted on the beach covered with the incoming tide, and who now and then bends to identify and pick up what moves under the soles of his feet. The aspects of this maritime city are like my passions and like the monuments of Nineveh and Knossus, places of my ardor and creations of my fancy, real and unreal, products of my desire and products of time. This city is one of those tumultuous harmonies whence often the most beautiful elements of my art are born. Nothing escapes the eyes Nature gave me, and everything is food for my soul. Such a craving for life is not unlike the desire to die in order to achieve immortality.

In fact, to-night death is present like life, beautiful as life, intoxicating, full of promises, transfiguring. I stand on my feet, wearing shoes that can easily be unlaced, on the deck of a small ironclad on which there is only space enough for the weapons and the crew. Steam is up. The black smoke of the three funnels rises toward the new moon, shining yellow in the cloud, burning like a handful of sulphur. The sailors have already donned life-saving belts and inflated the collars which must support the head in the agony of drowning. I hear the voice of the second officer giving the order to place in the only two boats the biscuits and the canned meat.

A young officer, muscular, but agile as a leopard, who has Boldness' very eyes, and has to his credit already an admirable manoeuvre in conducting the destroyer from the arsenal to the anchorage, pays for the champagne. We drink a cup sitting around the table on which the navigation chart is spread, while the commander of the flotilla dictates, standing, to the typist the order of the nocturnal operation, which is to be issued to the commanders of the other ships. A suppressed joy shines in the eyes of all. The operation is fraught with danger, is most difficult, and the cup we drink may be our last.


An ensign, who is little more than a boy, and a Sicilian, who resembles an adolescent Arabian brought up in the court of Frederick of Serbia, rubs in his hands a perfumed leaf, one of those leaves which are grown in a terra cotta vase on the parapets of the windows looking into the silent lanes of the city. The perfume is so strong that every one of us smells it with quivering nostrils. That single leaf on that terrible warship, where everything is iron and fire, that leaf of love, seems to us infinitely precious, and reminds us of the gardens of Giudecca and Fondamenta Nuove left behind.

The commander continues to dictate the order of the operation with his soft Tuscan accent, with some same telling words that Ramondo d'Amoretto Manelli used in the epistle he sent to Leonard Strozzi when the Genoese were vanquished by the navy of the Venetians and Florentines.


Ours is a marvelous exploit. We are going to plant mines near the enemy's coast, only a bare kilometer from its formidable batteries. The ensign fastens the black collar around his neck, and will presently inflate it with his breath.

We are ready. We sail. The firmament over our heads is covered with smoke and sparks. Along the gunwale, on each side of the ship, the enormous mines in their iron cages rest on the supports projecting over the water. The long torpedoes are ready for the attack, protected by their iron tubes, with their bronze heads charged with trytol, beasts in ambuscade. The sailors, their heads covered, are grouped around the guns, whose breeches are open. All the available space is strewn with weapons and contrivances, and full of alert men. In order[32] to go from stern to prow it is necessary to crouch, bend, pass under a greasy torpedo, leap over outstretched sailors, strike the leg against the fastening of a torpedo, squeeze against a hot funnel, entangle one's self in a rope, receive squarely in the face a dash of foam while grasping the railing.

I ascend the bridge. We are already clear of the anchorage. It is dark. The moon is dipping in the sea. In an hour it will have disappeared. The ship quivers at the vibration of the machinery. The funnels still emit too much smoke and too many sparks. On board all the lights are out, even the cigarettes. Darkness enshrouds alike both prow and stern. The last order megaphoned resounds in an azure dotted with sparks and stars—which are only inextinguishable sparks. A light mist rises from the water. The wake foams, and the sea ahead parts in two broad furrows along the sides of the ship, giving forth, now and then, strange reflections.

Following in our wake the second destroyer looms up darkly, and after her all the others in line. When the route is changed to reconnoitre the coast, from the great central wake many oblique ones part, designing an immense silver rake.

The commander is against the railing, leaning out toward darkness, with his whole soul in his scrutinizing eyes. Now and then he turns his ruddy face and transmits an order with exact and sharp words. The helmsman at the wheel never once removes his eyes from the compass, lighted by a small lamp in a screened niche. Clearly he is a man of the purest Tyrrenean race, a true comrade of Ulysses, with a face which seems to have been modeled by the trade wind. Near by is the signal box. "Half Speed," "Full Speed," "Slow," "Stop." Through the speaking tube the orders are transmitted to the engine room. "Four—Three—Zero."


We are making twenty-three knots an hour. The foam of the great wake glitters under the stern lights. "A little to the right."

The navigating officer is bending over the chart, held down by lead weights covered with cloth, measuring, figuring with the compass and the square, under the blue light of a shaded lamp. A great shooting star crosses the August sky, disappearing toward the Cappella.


Impatience gnaws my heart. I strain my sight to discern in the darkness the signal which has been prearranged. Nothing is to be seen yet. I descend from the ladder and move toward the stern, skirting the row of torpedoes, leaping over the outstretched sailors. From the stern the dark silhouettes of the other destroyers in line are visible. All of a sudden the signal is flashed in the direction of the prow. We are nearing the spot of our operation. Every will is strained.


The speed is reduced to six knots. The funnels still emit too much smoke and too many sparks. The commander is furious. Orders are megaphoned and every word seems to crowd the adventurous air with danger. The manoeuvre is executed with sort of rhythmic precision. Maintaining their distance, and one by one, every ship files to the starboard of us, standing black over the foaming wake, lighted every now and then by a strange phosphorescence.

"On reaching the eastern route for the planting of the mines, extinguish the stern lights," cries the megaphone. Under the playing searchlights the enemy's coast is clearly visible. We are in low water, and the speed is further diminished.



We almost touch bottom, and proceed by feeling our course ahead. We also take soundings continuously to avoid running aground. The ships seem to pant and puff grievedly, as great mammals in danger of running ashore.

"Reverse engines. Full speed!"

One of the ships feels she cannot manoeuvre any longer, having actually struck bottom, and endeavors to free herself. She lies ahead of us, and within speaking distance. We see the water glitter under the blue light of her stern lanterns. It seems to us now that every other ship is in danger. The sky is veiled. Long Medusan tresses of clouds drag the constellation as the net drags silvery fishes. The engines throb painfully.

The commander is there, all soul, defying the darkness with his eyes. What if at that moment the enemy should sight us?

"The Invitto leads."

His clear orders through a series of manoeuvres draw away the flotilla from the shallow waters and on to the safe course. Beyond, on the shore, the enemy's searchlights are seen crossing each other like white blades. Under the light the shore seems so near as to give one the illusion of being about to drop anchor. We are all tensely waiting. In a few seconds we shall be in the prearranged spot. Minutes seem hours. The rubber stoppers have been removed from the tubes. The mines are ready, on their supports, to be lowered into the sea. The sailors await the order standing.


The minutes are eternal. We may be detected every second. The shore is only a mile from us. The funnels are our despair. They still emit too much smoke and[35] sparks. At last a warning is heard from the bridge.


The Lieutenant looks at his watch, lighting the dial with the lamp hidden in his hand. The enormous mines, whose heads are charged with destruction, are there silent, like gigantic, gray, petrified sea Medusas, fixed on their support, whose double tooth projects over the waters.

"Ready! Let go!"

The first mine rolls over with the sound of a shattering barrel, falls in the foaming sea, disappears.

"Ready! Let go!"

Eighteen seconds elapse. The second falls, followed by the third, fourth, and all the others, on every ship which maintains a diagonal course nearing the coast. In three minutes the operation is over; the mines are planted in the exact spot. The teeth of the crew gleam in a wild smile. Each sailor sees in his heart the enemy's battleships rent and sinking.


We assume our position at the head of the line, returning on our course with the initial speed. The ships seem now to me to be quivering with warlike joy. In the distance over the mainland the white beams of the searchlights still cross each other. Ever and anon a rocket explodes. Our wake now is so beautiful as to resemble a whirling milky way. A sailor mounts the bridge and gives us a cup of steaming coffee, whose aroma titillates our nostrils and our heart. We light our cigarette.

But here is a Marconigram.

"Look out, two submarines are lying in wait for you on the safe route."

And in the first quiver of dawn, with expanded lungs, we again breathe danger and death.



"The Deserted Battlefields I Have Seen"

Told by Count Ilya Tolstoy, Son of the late Count Leo Tolstoy, Famous Russian Novelist

Count Tolstoy has been serving with the Red Cross branch of the Russian Army. During these tragic experiences, he kept a war diary on the battlefields. This is the first English translation of excerpts from this diary, translated from the Russian by Miss I. Rojansky for Current History—Copyright 1916 by Otis F. Wood.


The war relics of devastated structures leave a sad and painful impression. Of the many deserted battlefields which I have seen during the two years past, the nameless little graves faintly marked with little wooden crosses, of the deserted trenches, nothing gave me so much food for deep and sad reflection as the bare and lonely chimneys projecting from amid piles of rubbish, melancholy blackened pots, the scattered remnants of domesticity; a smashed pail, a broken wheel, a binding of a torn book, the splinters of what was once a crib.

To think that hereabout dwelt a family; that they were contented and possibly happy! Those walls, stripped and crumbled, what have they not seen!

It always seems to me that an event having occurred at a given place, the memory of the occurrence attaches permanently to it. Whenever I happened to find myself[37] in a locality in which some memorable events had taken place I could not think of those events without at the same time visualizing the surroundings amid which they occurred; and the more recent the occurrence, the more vividly I can see the scene unfolding itself before my eyes.

The vast number of such impressions which the present war has produced make a film, vivid and endless.


I remember one such pile of ruins, which I saw not far from the road leading to Jaroslav. This ruin remained permanently fixed in my memory by reason of a horrible tale connected with it.

Some time ago there lived on a farm a well-to-do Galician gardener. When the war broke out he was drafted into the army. He went forth, leaving behind him a wife and three small children. Shortly following his departure, troops commenced appearing in the immediate neighborhood. At first came small detachments, but these were quickly followed by more formidable bodies. In a short time lines of trenches were dug on both sides of the farm and real warfare began.

The firing was continuous. The family sought safety in the corners of their hut. They hid in the cellar under the heaps of beets and potatoes, but the children soon became accustomed to the hissing of bullets and lost all fear of them.

The wounded soldiers, for the most part Austrians, began crawling toward the farm. There they bound up their wounds. The children looked on and sometimes gave aid, holding with their tiny fingers the blood-soaked cotton, or winding long and transparent bandages around the wounded limbs. They became accustomed to pain[38] and to the groans of the dying, and in their naive and simple way rendered all the help of which they were capable.

At night, when darkness fell and when firing from both sides would cease, the Austrian relief workers would come, place the wounded on long and unsteady stretchers, and carry them to the rear. On one occasion the wounded sent the eldest girl to the pond to fetch some water. She stayed away for a long, long time. Later she was found lying on the grass with a bullet in her slender little shoulder. The pails lay near her empty.

During the night she, too, was placed on a stretcher and was carried away. With her went the mother and the rest of the children. From that night on the farm remained forsaken.

The wounded, however, continued crawling to the hut, their numbers increasing from day to day. At times the litter bearers could not manage to look into the farm, and the wounded lay for days at a stretch without aid.


At the end of October a serious cholera epidemic broke out among the Austrian troops. From that time on there appeared among those creeping toward the lonely farm large numbers of emaciated and pale-blue forms—shadows of men. On reaching the farm they fell on to the straw, coiled and groaned in agony, and for the most part remained lying there, silenced by everlasting sleep.

There was no one to bury the bodies, and they gradually began decomposing. On top of those bodies fell more and more. It became impossible to live amid these hellish surroundings, and if by chance some unfortunate wounded happened to come along most of them would leave the little hut and limp ahead, preferring to dare the[39] firing line rather than be stifled in this horrible atmosphere of death and stench.

The engagements, having lasted several weeks, became more and more stubborn. The trenches crept nearer and nearer, until they resembled two live, gigantic horns about to embrace each other. Presently one of the Austrian trenches came so near the farm that the house became an obstacle to firing, and an order was issued to apply the torch to the incumbrance.

It was a dangerous task; all knew through experience that the Russians keep a sharp lookout on all that transpires in the enemy line and do not allow to pass with impunity the most insignificant move on the part of the enemy. At night the men, while smoking, would lie low at the very base of the trench, as the mere striking of a match sufficed to draw fire from the opposite lines.

As a result of some faint noise or a slight movement, vigorous firing would not infrequently burst out all along the line, and instead of getting the much-needed rest, the soldiers would pass nights on their feet and remain fatigued from sleeplessness and nervous exertion.

A young Second Lieutenant, recently promoted, and clean-shaven, volunteered to apply the torch. Though an ambitious man, he was at the same time limited and cowardly. He always tried to conceal his cowardice under a mask of arrogance, pushing his way forward whenever there was an opportunity to get into the spotlight and have his name mentioned. To brace himself, the officer emptied a large glass of spirits, and, taking along one of the men, left a cozy, sheltered trench and began feeling his way across the fields.


The night was dark as a grave, and over the lowland[40] of the garden hung a thick, milky fog. The feet sank deep into the sticky, soaking mud. The Lieutenant's assistant went slowly, bent to the ground and breathing heavily.

They continued on their way without seeing anything ahead. Though the distance between them and their object was only 200 yards, it seemed to them from time to time as if they had lost their bearings and were going in the wrong direction.

Soon they were aware of a heavy, suffocating smell; the next moment there loomed up before their eyes a sombre silhouette of a building. It stood there enveloped in fog.

Reaching a corner of the house, the Lieutenant stopped short, drew from his ulster a big field revolver and whispered to the man to come near.

It seemed that his main care was not to carry out the task he had undertaken, but to hide conveniently from the Russian fire, and then slip off to the rear as soon as the house caught fire. He figured that while the flames were spreading over the structure, and before they had reached the last wall, he could quietly and without the least danger remain under shelter. As soon as the fire enveloped the structure, and before the walls began crumbling, he would run back in time to avoid exposure by the conflagration.

With this in view, he gave orders to his subordinate to pile up straw on the side of the building directly facing the trenches. In the meantime the officer, having taken shelter behind the opposite wall, lit a cigar and remained waiting for developments.

A few moments of long and painful suspense followed. The poor Lieutenant was in a state of frenzy. It was not the personal danger alone that now excited his imagination. He was tormented by the mystic fear of that[41] which he was about to carry out. In the darkness he drew a sombre sketch of all that was hidden behind the wall, the inevitable which he was to face within a few moments.

How many of them are there? In what stage of decomposition? How do they lie?

The officer suddenly recalled a conversation in which some one had told him that when the flames touched the dead in the crematory they coiled and twisted as if alive. In his excited imagination he quickly pictured a wild dance of the dead which was about to begin.

"When they calm down," he thought, "after they are burned, as soon as roast meat is scented I will run, and then let the Russians shoot at them. All I have to do is to get away in time. If we were only done with this! Quick! Quick!"

At this moment he became aware of a pleasant smell of straw smoke, and immediately afterward the opposite corner of the structure burst into a bright flame. Almost simultaneously with the flash firing began from the Russian trenches, and it seemed to the officer that a few bullets hissed near him.

The soldier succeeded in pouring a great quantity of kerosene into the interior of the house. The fire spread with unusual swiftness. In two minutes the structure was all ablaze.


The officer stood at the open door, watching curiously the interior of the main room. Scattered all over the floor there lay contorted and twisted forms. They lay in irregular heaps. It was an appalling and gruesome sight. From somewhere protruded some one's long, bare legs; near the wall lingered a lonely arm, curled, swollen, and[42] slightly lifted, it hung in a threatening posture; from under a tattered old military coat projected a thick brush of black-blue hair; and at some distance, leaning on the furnace, there half sat the mighty figure of a stately corpse. The majestic body was bent in gloom, two huge, rough, and calloused hands supporting a big head.

Suddenly it seemed to the Lieutenant as if he heard some one groan. The sound became more and more audible, coming nearer and nearer; one voice, a second, somebody called, a cry rang out, and suddenly pandemonium broke loose. Air-rending cries came from all sides, and men began to drop, one by one, falling about the officer and stretching at his feet. Some fell straight from the ceiling to the earthen floor, others came creeping down the ladder; they dropped into the flames, choking and writhing in deadly agony.

The officer, half dead from fright, drew his revolver and opened fire. He ceased firing when his supply of bullets gave out. His ammunition gone, the Lieutenant threw down the weapon and ran. No one will ever know the number of unfortunates he thus killed. All I know is that of all the men hiding in the garret of that farm only one was saved. It was he who told me this terrible tale. He did this while lying in one of our hospitals. According to his version, there were at the time in the building a great number of wounded soldiers, who had come there during the last engagement. When fire was set to the house, they endeavored to get down. All perished. Some were burned alive, while others were shot to death by their own officer. Among those who perished was also the soldier who had served as the Lieutenant's assistant.

These were the horrible visions. I saw them every time I chanced to pass the ruined and devastated spot.

The fate of the vain and unhappy officer does not in[43] the least concern me. I am not even disposed to blame him for his weakness. For this we can only pity a man. One is bound to pity also those who met death at his hands.

But for some reason or other I cannot help remembering the wounded little girl. There she lay, dying from loss of blood; there at the turning of the footpath, near the two little birch trees.



The Horrors of the Little Balkan Kingdom

Told by Queen Marie of Rumania

Driven into exile with her many subjects, who had to retreat before the Hun just as the Belgians and Serbians were forced out of their peaceful homes in the debacle of war, Queen Marie of Rumania turned to the pen, and with it pictured the horrors that have engulfed the pretty little Balkan kingdom. Queen Marie was married to King Ferdinand in 1893, and was then the Princess Marie of Edinburgh, the daughter of Alfred I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince of Great Britain and Ireland. Noted for her beauty, idolized by her people, she has devoted herself to Red Cross work and the care of her stricken people ever since the entry of Rumania into the war. In devoting her pen to the cause of her adopted country, Queen Marie has followed the example of her husband's aunt, the late Queen Elizabeth (Carmen Sylva), whose charming books of poetry and prose deal almost entirely with the customs and folklore of Rumania. In this article in the Philadelphia Public Ledger Queen Marie gives a graphic picture of war-torn Rumania.


The trains are passing ... passing ... and the cargo they are hurrying thither is the youth of our country and the hope of our homes....

By thousands they are massed together; they sit on the roofs of the wagons, they hang on to their sides, they balance themselves in perilous positions, but all of them are gay, ... they shout, they sing, they laugh....

And the trains pass, pass ... all day the trains pass....[45] With hands full of flowers we hurry to the stations; our hearts are heavy; we long to say words they will remember, to tell them what we feel, but their voices raised in chorus drown all we would say.

One cry is on every lip when they see me, "We are going! Going gladly, going to victory, so that you may become Empress—Empress of all the Rumanians!" There is hardly a voice that does not say it; it is the cry of every heart; they hope it, they believe it, they mean it to me, and I smile back at them offering them my flowers, which they clutch at with eager hands.

And thus the trains pass ... pass....


One evening the sun was going down in glowing glory, turning all it shone over into glittering gold. I was late, other duties having kept me back; the train I had come to greet was already moving away.

In joyous crowds the young soldiers thronged the carriages; others had been before me to deck their caps, their tunics, even their horses and cannons, with bright violet asters of every shade. The prodigious radiance of sunset fell over all those flowers, enhancing their beauty, as though even the heavens were doing their utmost to render more blessed the departure of those eager boys, who so gayly were going to death.

Hurriedly I ran toward the moving carriages, distressed at being late. A great shout mounted from a thousand throats as they recognized me and a shower of flowers fell at my feet.

From their caps, their tunics, their cannons they tore away the flowers that had been given them to shower them over their Queen, while the usual chorus mounted[46] to the skies: "May you become Empress—Empress of all the Rumanians."...

And always more flowers fell over me; my arms were full; my hands could hardly hold them; the ground was purple where I stood....

Long did I remain there after the train had disappeared. A trail of smoke against the orange sky alone marked its passage, and all those fading flowers at my feet.

As one looks at the incomprehensible, I gazed at those two long rails running into the infinite, there seeming to join their separate ways, and wondered toward what fate those youths were hurrying; wondered if their dream would be realized; especially I wondered how many would come back....

The sun had set, the smoke had dissolved into nothing; the voices of my soldiers were but a remembrance ... slowly I turned my foot toward home....


All day long I have been moving among the wounded, wandering from ward to ward—they all want me to come among them, each soldier desirous to see his Queen....

Never do I leave a call unanswered; everywhere do I go; no sight is too sad, no fatigue is too great, no way too long, but sometimes it is to me as though I were wandering through some never-ending dream.

Bed beside bed they lie there, and all eyes meet me, follow me, consume me; never before have I known what it means to be the prey of so many eyes.... They seem to be drawing my heart from my bosom, to be a weight I can hardly bear!

I bend over suffering faces, clasp outstretched hands, lay my fingers upon heated brows, gaze into dying eyes,[47] listen to whispered words—and everywhere the same wish follows me: "May you become Empress—Empress of all the Rumanians!" Stiffening lips murmur it to me, hopeful voices cry it out to me; it goes with me wherever I move: "What matters our suffering as long as you become Empress—Empress of all the Rumanians!" Infinitely touching are the words when they mount toward me from the beds of so many wounded, who see in me the realization, the incarnation of the dream for which they are giving their lives.

It makes me feel so small, so humble before their stoic endurance; tears come to my eyes and yet, because of the beauty of it, I have a great wish to thank God.

Why should I be chosen to represent an ideal? Why should just I be the symbol? What right have I to stand above them, to buy glory with the shedding of their blood?...

And always more tenderly do I pass from bed to bed....

That was at a time when hope still sang in every soul, when in the first enthusiasm all hearts beat in unison, when belief in glorious victory gladdened the day....

But much later, under widely different circumstances in quite another place, the same words were said to me by one who could not see my face, for that morning he had been trepanned; his bandaged head was lying in a pool of blood....

Some one told him that his Queen was beside him, that she had come to see him, to inquire about his sufferings; to help him if he needed help.

A groping hand was stretched out toward me; I took it in mine, whispering words of comfort; bending low toward the parched lips that were murmuring something that at first I could not understand. The man had no face, no eyes; all was swathed in blood-stained cloths.[48] Then, as though from very far, came the words, the same brave words: "May the great God protect you. May He let you live to become Empress—Empress of all the Rumanians!"


It was to me as though something very wonderful had quite suddenly descended upon the distress of my soul, something very holy, very beautiful; but that was almost more than I could bear.... Touching had been that wish when hope shone before us like a star, but now it was more than touching, it was grand and sacred, for it was pronounced at an hour when darkest disaster had overthrown our land, when inch by inch our armies were retreating before the all-invading foe. There in that chamber of suffering those dying lips still spoke of the hope they clung to, of the dream that, in spite of sacrifice, death and misery, one day must surely come true....

That dying man was but one of many, a voice out of the unknown, a martyr without a name; but his words had gone home to my heart.

As I bent over him, laying my hand gently upon his crimson-stained rags, I prayed to God to listen to his wish; prayed that the blood of so many humble heroes should not be given in vain; prayed that when that great hour of liberation should sound at last an echo of the shout of victory that that day would sound over all our land should reach the heart of this nameless one beyond the shadow into which he was sinking, so that even beyond the grave he should still have a share in the glory his living eyes were not destined to see....



Told by Sven Hedin, Noted Swedish Explorer—Authorized Translation from, the Swedish
by H. G. Dewalterstorff

This is one of the most remarkable narratives of the War. It is a great historical record, as well as a fascinating story of personal experiences. Dr. Sven Hedin is one of the great Swedish explorers and historians. His record as a man of intrepid daring is known throughout Europe. By special permission of the Kaiser, Dr. Hedin was commissioned to visit and observe the German Armies in Belgium and France. He is the friend of Kings and was received with open arms at the headquarters of the general staff of the German Army. These experiences he describes in a volume entitled "With the German Armies in the West," which is one of the few War books which has been accepted by the German government as a true record. Dr. Hedin's talks with the Kaiser, the Crown Prince, and the Army Officers, with his journeys along the battle grounds of the Western front, allow us to look behind the scenes for the first time. A few selections from his remarkable tales are here given by permission of his publishers John Lane Company.


The rain falls thick and heavy and patters down on the dripping lines outside my balcony. Berlin is dull and miserable in the autumn when the rain sweeps its long, monotonously straight streets with their heavy, dark houses. Not even the trooping of the colors and the march past at midday raise the drooping spirits, and only a few pedestrians with open umbrellas join the band and march in step with the soldiers. No calls are made, no visits paid, for the whole of the aristocracy is in mourning for lost relatives and everybody's thoughts are centered on the war. Nobody feels inclined for the futile pleasures of ordinary times when the newspapers speak of a father who has lost four sons at the front, or of a mother whose three sons have each died a hero's death for Emperor and country. But no complaints are heard, no tears seen. In the streets one seldom sees signs of mourning. There is perhaps a tacit convention not to express in black and white the sorrow which is felt at the bottom of the heart, but to make the grief subservient to the proud consciousness that the beloved one has fallen for his country, never to return!...


But the rain keeps on falling and beats against the window-panes. I hurry downstairs, jump into a taxi and in a few minutes I am sitting in an elegant drawing-room at the dainty new residence of the Swedish Minister, at the corner of Friedrich Wilhelmstrasse and Tiergartenstrasse, chatting with old friends—needless to say, about the war. When I last met Count Taube in Berlin, I had just returned from a long journey in the Far East. Now I stood on the threshold of a new journey, which might be infinitely longer than the last! Later in the day I visited another nobleman, Prince von Wedel, whom I had met in Vienna when he was ambassador there, and in Strassburg when he was Governor. We had much to talk about, but what is there to discuss in these days but the great and bloody drama which occupies everyone's thoughts—the War!

My most important visit in Berlin was to the Foreign Office. But before narrating what took place there I must say a few words about the reasons which led up[51] to my journey. It was desirable that no one in a responsible position in Sweden should have an inkling of my journey to the front. Our country belonged to the neutral states, and thus no authority must entertain the slightest shadow of suspicion that I was traveling on any sort of secret mission. No,—the reason was a very simple one. Only a few days' journey away the greatest war of all time was being waged. It was clear that the outcome of this struggle would decide the political development for the next fifty or hundred years, or perhaps longer. In any case its shadows must envelop the remainder of the lives of the present generation....

Once this war is over, whole libraries of books will be written about it. I do not think it an exaggeration to say that on the western front alone upwards of a million and a half diaries are being kept at the present moment. In all directions, in all fighting units down to the company, the platoon and the battery, official war journals are being kept and accounts of the fighting are being prepared from the bedrock furnished on the one hand by the draft of outgoing reports and on the other by incoming papers, orders, reports and communications. The soldiers record their own personal experiences, the officers their military observations. Many a notebook has no doubt protected a heart or checked the death-dealing bullet. Thus the sections of the German General Staff, whose task it will be in due course to prepare the materials, will be occupied for many years to come with this monumental labor.

When I went out to the front, it was clearly established in my mind that my narrative would be quite different from the military accounts. I was not going to devote any attention to matters of purely military science, which could only be dealt with by experts.



I am standing on the doorstep and ringing the bell at the Foreign Office at 76 Wilhelmstrasse, Berlin.

The Under Secretary of State, Herr von Zimmermann, who is acting Foreign Minister in Berlin whilst His Excellency von Jagow is at the Main Headquarters, received me with open arms and said that all he knew was that I was to proceed straightway to the said Headquarters.

"But where are the Main Headquarters?" I asked.

"That is a secret," Herr von Zimmermann answered, with a smile.

"Good, but how am I to get there?"

"Oh, the Chief of the Great General Staff, Colonel-General von Moltke, has given instructions that a car is to be kept at your disposal. You may decide yourself when you would like to start. An officer and an orderly will accompany you, and if you like you can travel to the Main Headquarters day and night without stopping, or you can choose your own road and time. In fact, you are at liberty to do as you like."

"And afterwards?"

"After that your fate will rest in the hands of His Excellency von Moltke. No doubt he will map out a plan for your journey. The only thing you have to think about now is to get to him."

"And where shall I find the car?"

"This paper will tell you."

Herr von Zimmermann handed me a permit from the Great General Staff which read as follows: "The bearer of this permit is entitled to use the relays of the Imperial Volunteer Automobile Corps to the Main Headquarters. Everything that can in any way expedite his journey is to be placed at his disposal."



Still as ignorant regarding the whereabouts of the Main Headquarters as when we left Berlin, we set out from Treves in the morning of the 18th of September, recrossed the Moselle, and cast a glance up at the heights from which on August 4th Frenchmen in mufti were heliographing to the airships, who wanted to know how the German mobilization was getting on. At the flying station we stopped a moment to have a look at the Taubes in their canvas sheds....

Now we begin to look about. Yes, it is obvious that the Main Headquarters are still at Luxemburg. Sentries at the entrances to all hotels, soldiers everywhere, officers rushing past in motor-cars. In a market-place large tents have been put up for horses, and round them walk the sentries smoking their pipes; in another open space there are rows of motor-cars laden with petrol and oil in cylinders.

We must observe becoming military precision in our search and consequently make at once for the house where the Great General Staff has taken up its quarters, and which in ordinary times is a Luxemburg school. Von Krum gets down and soon returns with the intimation that we must report ourselves to a Lieutenant-Colonel Hahnke. He sent us off to the Chief of the General Staff, His Excellency von Moltke, who with his charming Swedish Countess has just sat down to dinner at the Kölnischer Hof, where they reside. The Countess was on a short visit to Luxemburg in the service of the Red Cross. Here I felt almost as if I were at home, for I had many times been a guest in their hospitable home in Berlin. As calm as if he had been on manoeuvers, the Chief lit his cigar and made detailed enquiries about my[54] plans and wishes. I said I wanted to go to the front and see as much as I might be allowed to, mentioning that it was my intention subsequently to describe what I had seen of the war with my own eyes. If possible I wanted to get an impression of a modern battle, and hoped also to get an opportunity of visiting the occupied parts of Belgium.

The Chief thought for a moment. Permission to visit the front had already been granted to me by the Emperor, and it only remained to decide which would be the best place for me to begin my observations. The army of the German Crown Prince was the nearest, only a couple of hours away. The Chief would arrange everything for my journey, and I was shortly to receive details of the programme. "Of course, there can be no question of safety in the fighting zone," he said, "it is not far away. If you listen you can hear the thunder of guns from Verdun."...

It would take too long to describe all the interesting acquaintances I made in Luxemburg and to introduce to the reader all the eminent men with whom I spoke during the two days I spent in this little town. Suffice it to mention the Imperial Chancellor von Bethmann Holweg, the Foreign Minister von Jagow, the War Minister Lieutenant-General von Falkenhayn, and the Chief of the Imperial Volunteer Automobile Corps the young Prince Waldemar, son of Prince Henry.

The Main Headquarters are the head or rather the brain of the army in the field, where all plans are made and from which all orders are issued. It is an incredibly complicated apparatus with an organization of which every detail has been prepared in advance. When an apparatus of this kind is installed in a small town like Luxemburg, all hotels, schools, barracks, Government offices, as well as a number of private houses, have to be[55] requisitioned for billets. The invaded country has no alternative but to resign itself to its fate. But nothing is taken promiscuously, everything will be made good after the war. The War Ministry is housed in an hotel, the General Staff—as already mentioned—in a school, the officers of the automobile corps, in a private house, and so on. The Commander-in-Chief, von Moltke, resided at the Kölnischer Hof, the Imperial Chancellor and the Foreign Minister in an exceptionally elegant private house, whilst the Emperor's personal staff and suite were stopping at the Hotel Staar, where a room was also placed at my disposal....


Directly I arrived in Luxemburg, I was honored with an invitation to dine with the Emperor William the following day at one o'clock. Most of the guests were stopping at the Hotel Staar, and the cars were to leave there in good time. I went with Adjutant-General, Lieutenant-General von Gontard, Acting General à la suite. The street close to the Imperial residence was railed off, the barriers being withdrawn by the soldiers to let our car pass. The Emperor lived in the house of the German Minister and had his private apartments on the first floor. On the ground floor was the chancellerie, where enormous maps of the theaters of war were mounted on easels, and next to it was the dining-room, quite a small apartment.

The guests, all in field uniform, without any display, for-gathered in the chancellerie. I myself was dressed in the most flagrant, everyday clothes—in the field nothing is carried for show. Among the Emperor's suite I recognized a couple of old acquaintances, the Headquarters Commandant, Adjutant-General, Colonel-General[56] von Plessen, and the President of the Navy Council, Admiral von Müller, of Swedish descent, who spoke Swedish as fluently as German. The others were his Excellency von Treutler and Lieutenant-General Baron Marschall, Colonel von Mutius, acting aide-de-camp, the Princes Pless and Arnim and the Emperor's body-physician, Dr. Ilberg. We were thus ten all told.


At the stroke of one the door from the vestibule was opened and Emperor William entered with a firm, quiet step. All glances were fixed on the strongly built, well-knit figure. The room became as quiet as the grave. One realized that one was in the presence of a great personality. The little room, otherwise so humble, now had a deeper significance. Here was the axis, the pivot round which the world's happenings turned. Here was the center from which the war was directed. Germany is to be crushed, so say its enemies. "Magst ruhig sein,"[3] says the German army to its Fatherland. And here in our midst stands its supreme war-lord, a picture of manliness, resolution and honorable frankness. Around him flit the thoughts and passions of the whole world. He is the object of love, blind confidence and admiration, but also of fear, hate and calumny. Round him, who loves peace, rages the greatest war of all times, and his name is ringed with strife....

Any feeling of timidity one may have had whilst waiting for the most powerful and most remarkable man in the world vanished completely once the Emperor, after a more than hearty handshake and a cheery welcome, began to speak. His voice is manly and military, he speaks extraordinarily plainly without slurring over a single syllable, he is never at a loss for a word, but always strikes the nail on the head—often in exceedingly forceful terms. He punctuates his sentences with quick and expressive gestures. His speech flows smoothly, is always terse and interesting and is often suddenly interrupted by questions delivered with lightning precision, which one must endeavor to answer equally quickly and clearly. A good answer never fails to elicit the Emperor's approval. He is exceedingly impulsive and his conversation is a mixture of earnest and jest. A ready repartee or an amusing tale causes him to laugh so heartily that his shoulders shake with it.


At the Emperor's bidding we passed into the dining-room. Admiral von Müller sat on the left, I on the right of our august host, and opposite him was Adjutant-General von Gontard. The table was simply laid. The only luxury that could be discovered was a bell of gold placed in front of the Emperor's cover, and which he rang when a new course was to be brought in. The dinner was equally plain, consisting of soup, meat with vegetables, a sweet dish and fruit with claret. I have seldom been as hungry as when I rose from this table: not on account of the dishes, but because there had not been a moment's silence up to the time when the bell rang for the last time and bade the uniformed servants withdraw our chairs as we rose. The Emperor talked to me all the time. He began by reminding me of my last lecture in Berlin, at which he was present, and he conjectured that Tibet, where I had passed through such stirring times, would probably soon be the only country in the world where peace reigned. Then we spoke of the political position and of the storms that are sweeping over Europe....


On a table in the chancellerie were cigars and cigarettes round a lighted candle. Here the conversation was continued with zest and vigor, and jest and earnest, horrors of war and funny stories were all jumbled together; finally the Emperor took his leave, wishing me a successful and instructive trip, and went up to his apartments, where no doubt piles of papers and letters, reports and telegrams awaited him.

The talk of the Emperor having aged during the war, and of the war with all its labors and anxieties having sapped his strength and health, is all nonsense. His hair is no more pronouncedly iron gray than before the war, his face has color, and far from being worn and thin, he is plump and strong, bursting with energy and rude health. A man of Emperor William's stamp is in his element when, through the force of circumstances, he is compelled to stake all he possesses and above all himself for the good and glory of his country.


I returned to the Hotel Staar just in time to meet the young lieutenant who had been instructed by General Moltke to take me to the Headquarters of the Crown Prince's Army. His name was Hans von Gwinner and he is the son of the great banker and Bagdad Railway magnate in Berlin. He was a wide-awake and capable young fellow and drove his car himself. I sat down beside him, whilst the orderly accompanying us took his seat inside.

It poured with rain as we left the town. The road was slippery, but we had studded tires and the lieutenant drove at terrific speed. We had started off rather late and we wanted to get in before dark. It is better thus, otherwise one is not entirely safe from the attentions of franctireurs. A whole lot of them had recently been[59] caught by the Fifth Army and shot without hesitation....

We stop outside the house in which the General in Command of the 5th Army has taken up his quarters. I was able to speak there without difficulty to one of my friends from the Main Headquarters, Landrat Baron von Maltzahn, Member of the Reichstag and a personal friend of the Crown Prince. He was able to give me the welcome news that I was expected and that I must hurry in order to be in time for supper, which was served at eight o'clock. So we drove at once up to the little French château, where His I. & R. Highness had elected to stay. Here I said good-bye to my excellent friend Lieutenant von Gwinner and thanked him for his companionship. Thus he, too, disappears from my horizon, and I stand before a new association of acquaintances and friendships.

Footmen in military uniforms at once took charge of my baggage and conducted me to my room on the first floor, next door to the Crown Prince's private apartments. A few minutes before eight the acting Lord-in-Waiting, Court-Marshal von Behr, knocked at my door. He was a pleasant young man of distinguished and attractive appearance, and he had come to bring me in to supper. We went out through the upper vestibule and down the stairs, from the landing of which we were fortunate enough to witness a pleasing ceremony. In the lower hall stood a number of officers in line, and opposite them some twenty soldiers formed up in the same way. Then came the Crown Prince William, tall, slim and royally straight, dressed in a dazzling white tunic and wearing the Iron Cross of the first and second class; he walked with a firm step between the lines of soldiers. An adjutant followed him, carrying in a casket a number of Iron Crosses. The Crown Prince took one and handed[60] it to the nearest officer, whom he thanked for the services which he had rendered to his Emperor and country, and then with a hearty handshake he congratulated the hero whom he had thus honored.

When all the officers had received their decorations, the reward for their bravery, the turn came of the soldiers, the ceremony being precisely the same as with the officers; but I found it hard to distinguish what the soldiers said in their loud, rough and nervous voices. At last I distinguished the words: Danke untertänigst Kaiserliche Hoheit (I humbly thank your Imperial Highness).


When the knights of the Iron Cross had taken their departure, we went down into the hall, where the Crown Prince stepped up to me and bade me heartily welcome to his Headquarters and to the seat of war. The meal, which might as well have been called dinner as supper, was attended by the following gentlemen: Lieutenant-General Schmidt von Knobelsdorff, Chief of Staff of the 5th Army, Court-Marshal von Behr, Chief of the Medical Corps, Body-Physician Professor Widenmann, Majors von der Planitz, von Müller, personal Adjutant to H.I. & R.H., and Heymann, Lieutenant von Zobeltitz and a few members of the Staff, who arrived later after the day's work in the field and took their seats at the lower end of the table.

Would you like to know what the German Crown Prince, the Crown Prince of Prussia, eats for supper? Here is the menu: cabbage soup, boiled beef with horseradish and potatoes, wild duck with salad, fruit, wine, and coffee with cigars. And what would you say the conversation was about? It is hard to say exactly, but[61] we traveled over almost the whole world with the ease bred by familiarity. The Crown Prince, like the Emperor, began with Tibet, and from there it was but a step across the Himalayas to the palms of the Hugli Delta, the pagodas of Benares, the silver moonlight over Taj Mahal, the tigers of the jungle and the music of the crystal waves of India beating against the rocks of Malabar point. We also spoke of old unforgettable memories and of common friends who now love us no longer—of the brave and famous Kitchener, the conqueror of Omdurman and South Africa, of the Maharajahs and their fairy-like splendor at Bikanir, Kutch Behar, Gwalior, Kashmir and Idar.

We also talked about the war and its horrors, and the terrible sacrifices it demands. "But it cannot be helped," said the Crown Prince, "our Fatherland asks us to give all we have, and we will, we must win, even if the whole world takes up arms against us."

"Is not the calm here wonderful! We seem to be living to-night in the most absolute peace, and yet it is but a couple of hours' drive to the firing line," observes my Imperial host after listening to a short, concise and satisfactory report made in a ringing voice by an officer who has just entered. "Yes, your Imperial Highness, I had imagined the Staff Headquarters of an army to resemble a buzzing beehive, but now that I have the reality before me, I find no trace of anxiety or nervousness, nothing but calm and assurance everywhere. But what I should like to see most of all would be a battle, for I suspect that in common with most other civilians I have formed an erroneous opinion on this subject."

The Crown Prince smiles and answers: "Yes, battle painters like Neuville and Détaille would have little use for their art in these days. Of the fighting men one sees practically nothing, for they are concealed by the ground[62] and in the trenches, and it is rather dangerous to get too close to a bayonet charge—unless one's duty takes one there."

What life and spirit at the Crown Prince's Headquarters! Everything was gay with the freshness of youth, and devoid of restraint. No trace of the stiffness of court ceremonial. Even General Schmidt, who usually maintained the strictest discipline, was infected by the prevailing spirit of camaradie. But owing to the terrible burden of work which rested on the shoulders of the Chief of Staff, it was not unusual for him to come in for his meals after the others. The supper, or rather the talk after it, went on till about eleven—these were the only hours when one could meet in quiet, for during the day everyone was busy with his duties, and the Crown Prince then occupied his post as commanding officer at suitable points at the front.

The château where we were staying belonged to an aristocratic French lady—if I remember rightly her name was du Vernier. When the war broke out she moved to Bordeaux. On her return after the contest she will find her château, her estates and the beautiful park in the same condition as when she went away. There was a certain aristocratic grandeur about the château, though signs of decay were already making themselves apparent. On the mantelpiece in my room stood a pendulum clock of gilt bronze of an antique mythological design, and on each side stood a couple of gorgeous candelabra. The walls were decorated with a few unassuming pictures, amongst them a portrait of an old French warrior.

I open my window, it is pitch-dark outside, and the rain falls close and heavy upon the trees and lawns outside. Tired after a somewhat ambitious day's work, I hurry to bed, the more so as I suspect the next day's programme to be no less exacting....



But events move all too fast. Observations and impressions follow so quickly upon one another that it is difficult to assimilate them all. The whole road is full of supply columns moving southward, and we meet innumerable empty transport lorries on the way north, to be reloaded at some railway station. Here we also see fresh young troops, all strapping fellows, who have come direct from Germany to go straight to victory or death. All are jolly and eager; truly, they look as if the whole affair were to them but an autumn manœuver, and as if they felt no trace of excitement. They march along with easy bearing and sing merry soldiers' ditties under the leaden skies now darkening this unhappy, bleeding France. They light their pipes and their eternal cigarettes, laugh and chat—as if they were going to a picnic in the country. In reality they are going out to fill the gaps made by the French fire in the ranks of their comrades. They are Ersatstruppen, i.e., reinforcements, but I do not see a single face which betrays the slightest feeling that death is near. They hear the thunder of the guns better than we do, for the humming of the car drowns all other sounds. But they seem to delight in the dull music, and yet their place is far in advance of the artillery positions. Ersatstruppen! it means that their duty is to replace the fallen, and that the same fate awaits themselves. Yet they are gay and happy. "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori."...

We now begin to notice that we are approaching the firing line. The whole road is encumbered with troops. Here comes a detachment of wounded on foot, with bandages round heads and hands, or with the arm in a[64] sling. We meet an empty ammunition column, an endless string of rattling wagons.

The artillery ammunition column which we are just now passing is an impressive sight. The noise of these vehicles, dull and heavy, is quite different from that of the empty wagons on our left, but then they are loaded to the top with heavy ammunition, shells for 21-cm. mortars at Septsarges and neighbouring villages. Every ammunition wagon—consisting of limber and wagon body—with its team of six horses requires the services of six men. Three of them—drivers—ride on the off-side horses, two are seated on the limber, and one facing the rear on the wagon body. They are armed with Mauser pistols fastened on the left side of the belt, but the swords of the drivers are securely strapped on to the left side of the saddle.

The horses are fat and sleek, and pull without exerting themselves unduly. They move at a walking pace—anything else would be impossible on this road. It is a far finer sight to see one of these columns trundling along at full speed with the horses moving at a sharp trot or gallop. Even at the pace at which they are now travelling these endless columns are an impressive and attractive sight. What does it matter if the helmets, in order not to glitter and attract attention, are concealed by a cover which even hides the spike surmounting them; what does it matter if the men's uniforms are of the same dirty grey as the clay and mud of the soil? The whole team looks picturesque enough with its massive, solid wagon, its pole, its leather fittings and its harness.

Tramp, tramp go the horses' hoofs, and behind them comes the rattling of the heavy wagons. One rider sings, another whistles and a third is shouting at a refractory horse. Behind sit a couple of men rolling cigarettes, which by the way is more difficult than it sounds when a[65] wagon is jolting up and down. This column also has a mounted escort. The train is wound up by a field kitchen with a couple of store wagons on which a few bundles of firewood are also lying. Without ceasing, this eternal tramp, tramp, keeps dinning into our ears as the columns slowly travel southward, a never-ending stream of warriors, horses, ammunition and provisions.


It was still daylight when we returned to our domicile, where the Crown Prince, just back from his day's work, was resting in the doorway. A moment later I went out for a walk in the town. At the bridges over the Meuse I was stopped by the sentries, who in authoritative but invariably polite tones asked to see my Ausweis. That they found me suspicious-looking, ambling along as I did with a sketch-book under my arm, was not to be wondered at. Only one of them, an honest Landwehr man, declared categorically that my pass was not sufficient. "Oh," I said. "The name of the Chief of the General Staff of the Field Army, General Moltke, does not impress you?" "No, the permit must be viséd by the 5th Army," he replied. A couple of his comrades saved the situation after reading the permit, and declared that General Moltke was good enough for them....

It had been arranged that at about half-past six I should look out for the Crown Prince and his staff as they passed through Dun on their way back from Romagne. The time was approaching, and we were on the watch. The traffic had not decreased at all, rather the reverse. For a moment it looked like a block, and it would have been a nice thing if the Crown Prince had arrived just then. We crossed the bridge and were outside the town,[66] when the aristocratic-looking cars, bearing the mark, General Ober Kommando V. Armee, came tearing along at full speed. Beside the chauffeur of the first one sat the Crown Prince himself in a cloak with a high collar. He made a sign to me to get in and I took my seat behind him. Then he talked for a while to the officers of the lines of communications, and after that we started. But now the pace was slow, as we happened to meet an infantry regiment. The men took hold of their helmets by the spike, raised them aloft and gave a rousing cheer, as if they were charging a French position. But this time the cheer was meant for the Commander of the 5th Army and the heir to the throne, and we drove through a roaring sea of loud hurrahs. Gradually the ranks thinned out and finally came the stragglers—for there are footsore men even in the best marching army of all—in small groups of two or three, but they cheered as wildly as the rest. Last of all a solitary man stood by the side of the road. He, too, joined in with all the strength of his lungs. When the Crown Prince had reassumed his motor goggles and turned up the collar of his cloak he was not easily recognised, especially by the men of the transport columns we met, who had their horses to look after. But his Imperial and Royal Highness turned half round to me and said unassumingly that nothing pleased him more than to find that he was supported and understood by the soldiers. He considered it the first duty of a prince to show himself worthy of the confidence of his whole people, and for his own part he could not imagine a greater happiness than to occupy such a position in the minds of the German people.


We reached home in due course and sat down to table.[67] The spirits of the company were as cheerful and unconstrained as usual, though one would have expected high-sounding speeches, toasts and cheering.

Dinner had been going on for some time when Professor Widenmann, the body-physician, came in and took his place. He had been at a hospital, looking after our friend, Baron von Maltzahn, who had been the victim of a motor accident in the course of the day. The car, while going at a terrific pace, had skidded at a corner of the wet road and turned over. Von Maltzahn lay underneath and had the whole weight of the car on his chest. He had a couple of ribs broken, a broken leg, concussion of the brain and general shock. His condition was rather alarming, but the professor had good hopes of his recovery.

That professor is a man one would never forget. We took to each other, more especially as he had travelled all over the world. He had seen a great deal of Africa, and had been very near the summit of Kilima Njaro when he was forced to turn back by wind and weather. We had mutual friends far and near, and long after the others had gone to their rooms we sat up chatting—on that evening, which was my last with the German Crown Prince, the Crown Prince of Prussia.

On the following day, September 24, we made a very early breakfast, after which the cars of the Chief Command of the Army again drove up to the château. I thanked his Imperial and Royal Highness the Crown Prince with all my heart for the great hospitality which had been shown me and for all the memorable things I had had the opportunity of seeing while with his proud army. After a vigourous shake of the hand and a friendly Auf Wiedersehen! the energetic young Imperial Prince got into his car and went off to his duty.



I was once more honoured with an invitation to dine at the Emperor's table at one o'clock. Those present, apart from the Chamberlain, included Herren von Plessen, von Gontard and von Busch, the latter being the German Minister at Luxemburg, also the Emperor's Field Chaplain and a couple of adjutants. In the forenoon news had been received of the illness of Prince Oskar. He had contracted some sort of heart complaint through over-exertion. I expected therefore to find the Emperor a bit depressed, but there was no sign of it. He walked in with youthful and military bearing, honoured me once more with a hearty handshake and bade me welcome back from the 5th Army. Thereupon he took a letter out of his pocket and asked me to read it through carefully. Whilst His Majesty was talking to his suite, I read the letter. It was addressed to the Emperor personally and was written by a sergeant who had been at Prince Joachim's side when he was wounded. Now the sergeant wanted to tell his august master how gallantly the Prince had borne himself and what an example he had been to the soldiers. The letter was simply and ingenuously written and showed how deep and strong is the loyalty which binds the German Army to its supreme Chief and Emperor. The loyalty and unity between Emperor and people, between Commander and Army, form the firm and immovable rock on which the German Empire has been built up. When the Emperor turned to me again and asked what I thought of the letter, I merely answered: "It must be a pleasure to your Majesty to receive such messages from the rank and file."

"Yes," he replied. "There is nothing that gives me so much pleasure as these proofs of the faithful loyalty of[69] my people and the close bonds which bind me to my entire army. Such a letter as this I treasure amongst my most valued possessions."

Then we talked about Prince Oskar's illness, and whilst on this topic, the Emperor said: "So you see, now Hohenzollern blood, too, has flowed. I have six sons and a nephew with me in the war and among the many German Princes who are fighting at the front several have already given their lives for Germany's sake."


We were to drive to Douai, where we were invited to take supper at 8 A.M. with the ... Crown Prince of Bavaria. The distance is nearly thirty-four kilometres and can easily be covered in three-quarters of an hour, but the numerous posts stationed on the road took up much of our time. It was five minutes to eight when we arrived. An adjutant conducted us to a drawing-room, and we had not waited half a minute when the Crown Prince entered.

He is one of those rare men whom all love and admire—all except the English, for I think that even the French cannot help paying him a meed of respect. In the German army he is looked upon as a very eminent general—a born strategist and a thoroughly schooled soldier. As regards appearance, manner and speech, he is fascinating and congenial in the highest degree, neither regal nor humble, but without artifice and modest like an ordinary mortal. When one knows that he has recently experienced the greatest private sorrow which could befall him, one fancies, perhaps, that one detects a trace thereof in his features—an air of sadness—but otherwise he does not betray, by a look or a sigh, how deeply[70] he grieves over the death of the little prince of thirteen, the darling of all Bavaria. When the country and the empire are in danger, all private sorrows must be put aside! The Crown Prince has no time to grieve or to think of the void and bereavement which he will feel on his victorious return to Munich. He lives for and with his army, and is like a father to each and all of his soldiers. He devotes all his power of mind, all his physical strength, all his time, to the one great object which dominates all else in the minds of the whole German army.

Crown Prince Rupprecht walks in with brisk and easy stride, stretches out his hands towards us and gives us a truly cordial welcome. And then he adds half-humourously: "I expect some other distinguished guests at my table to-night."

"Who can that be?" asks the Duke.

"The Emperor!" replies the Crown Prince, and clasps his hands together.

"The Emperor?" we cry, for we had no idea that His Majesty was in this part of the country.

"Yes, the Emperor has visited several units in this neighbourhood to-day, and has promised ... Hush, I hear his car!" and with that the Crown Prince hurried out.

Meanwhile the Officers of the General Staff of the Army came to greet us, and presently the Emperor's suite, among whom I knew several, also entered. Before I had time to wonder where the supreme War-Lord himself had gone, we were asked to step into the dining-room. The Emperor was already seated at the table. We all stepped up to our chairs, but no one seated himself. The Emperor sat with bowed head, looking very grave. But suddenly his blue eyes flashed up, and he nodded kindly in all directions. When he caught sight[71] of me, he extended his hand across the table and cried gaily: "Guten Tag, mein lieber Sven Hedin; es scheint Ihnen gut zu gefallen in meiner Armee," a sentiment which I confirmed with the greatest alacrity.

Perhaps it might amuse the reader to hear who were the ten people seated round Crown Prince Rupprecht's table. Duke Adolf Friedrich of Mecklenburg sat at the Emperor's right, and Prince Löwenstein at his left. Right opposite the Emperor sat the Crown Prince—the host—with Colonel-General von Plessen, Adjutant-General, at his right and myself at his left. Next to me on the other side was Lieut.-General von Marschall, with Colonel Tappen, of the Crown Prince's staff, on his left. To the left of Prince Löwenstein sat General Falkenhayn, Minister of War, and between him and General von Plessen the chief of the Crown Prince's staff, General Krafft von Dellmensingen. At another table of about the same size, covers had been laid for the other gentlemen of the Emperor's and Crown Prince's staff and suite.


The Emperor was in brilliant spirits. I really do not know whether he can be otherwise, for whenever I have had the honour to meet him, he has always been merry, amiable and witty. He can certainly express at times in words of thunder his displeasure at some contemptible act on the part of the enemy, but he is soon sunshine again and bursts into irresistible laughter at some whimsical idea. He has a wonderful gift of instilling life into a party and keeping the conversation at high pitch—as he did here for over two and a half hours. He told us a great deal of most interesting news, things which had happened in different parts of the field during the last[72] few days and which, at least to me and to the Duke, were news indeed. If one asks the Emperor any question about the conditions in more or less remote countries, as to which sparse or contradictory information has come to one's ears, he will, off-hand, and with a masterly marshalling of facts, deliver a veritable lecture on its internal and external policy, its public sentiments, its resources, and its military strength. I think I have never met a man who can rival Emperor William in this respect.

He also possesses the faculty of grasping with lightning quickness and judging the opinions expressed by others. He listened with the liveliest interest to Crown Prince Rupprecht as the latter gave him various details about his army, and to me when I described the bombardment of Ostend.

It was past half-past ten when the Emperor laid down his cigar and rose to say good-bye with that vigorous handshake which leaves its mark on one's knuckles. The Crown Prince alone accompanied him out into the hall, which immediately adjoined the dining-room and from which a few steps led out into the road. A soldier stood ready holding the Emperor's light greyish-blue cloak, with dark fur collar; another handed him the plain Prussian officer's field-cap. After the host and his guest had exchanged a few more words they went out to the car, which drove off rapidly into the night.


[2] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters in original sources.

[3] From the line "Lieb Vaterland magst ruhig sein" ("Be undismayed, dear Fatherland"), in Die Wacht am Rhein.



Stories Straight from the Trenches

Told by Captain Ian Hay Beith, Famous Scotch Novelist with the Argyil and Sutherland Highlanders

Ian Hay's collection of War stories is pronounced in England "the greatest book of the War." This Scotch novelist went to the trenches to fight with the Highlanders. He sends "back home" graphic and absorbing stories of a thousand heroes. They are full of humor, with bits of superb character drawing that make the men at the front seem like old friends. His division has been badly cut up and seriously reduced in numbers during the War; he has risen from a sub-lieutenant to the rank of Captain, finally to be transferred to the machine gun division and recommended for a military cross. The story of the first hundred thousand was originally contributed in the form of an anonymous narrative to Blackwood's Magazine. In a letter to his publishers, Capt. Beith describes the circumstances under which he is writing: "I write this from the stone floor of an outhouse, where the pigmeal is first accumulated and then boiled up at a particularly smelly French farm, which is saying a good deal. It is a most interesting life and if I come through the present unpleasantness I shall have enough copy to last me twenty years." His pictures of the Great Struggle, uniquely rich in graphic human detail, have been collected into a volume, "The First Hundred Thousand," by Houghton, Mifflin and Company, of Boston and New York, which is creating wide attention. One of the stories entitled, "The Front of the Front," is here retold by permission of his publishers.



We took over these trenches a few days ago; and as the Germans are barely two hundred yards away, this chapter seems to justify its title.... We find that we are committed to an indefinite period of trench life, like every one else.

Certainly we are starting at the bottom of the ladder. These trenches are badly sited, badly constructed, difficult of access from the rear, and swarming with large, fat, unpleasant flies, of the bluebottle variety. They go to sleep, chiefly upon the ceiling of one's dugout, during the short hours of darkness, but for twenty hours out of twenty-four they are very busy indeed. They divide their attentions between stray carrion—there is a good deal hereabout—and our rations. If you sit still for five minutes they also settle upon you, like pins in a pincushion. Then, when face, hands, and knees can endure no more, and the inevitable convulsive wriggle occurs, they rise in a vociferous swarm, only to settle again when the victim becomes quiescent. To these, high-explosives are a welcome relief.

The trenches themselves are no garden city, like those at Armentières. They were sited and dug in the dark, not many weeks ago, to secure two hundred yards of French territory recovered from the Boche by bomb and bayonet. (The captured trench lies behind us now, and serves as our second line.) They are muddy—you come to water at three feet—and at one end, owing to their concave formation, are open to enfilade. The parapet in many places is too low. If you make it higher with sandbags you offer the enemy a comfortable target: if you deepen the trench you turn it into a running stream. Therefore long-legged subalterns crawl painfully past these danger-spots on all-fours, envying Little Tich.



Then there is Zacchæus. We call him by this name because he lives up a tree. There is a row of pollarded willows standing parallel to our front, a hundred and fifty yards away. Up, or in, one of these lives Zacchæus. We have never seen him, but we know he is there; because if you look over the top of the parapet he shoots you through the head. We do not even know which of the trees he lives in. There are nine of them, and every morning we comb them out, one by one, with a machine-gun. But all in vain. Zacchæus merely crawls away into the standing corn behind his trees, and waits till we have finished. Then he comes back and tries to shoot the machine-gun officer. He has not succeeded yet, but he sticks to his task with gentle persistence. He is evidently of a persevering rather than vindictive disposition.

Then there is Unter den Linden. This celebrated thoroughfare is an old communication-trench. It runs, half-ruined, from the old German trench in our rear, right through our own front line, to the present German trenches. It constitutes such a bogey as the Channel Tunnel scheme once was: each side sits jealously at its own end, anticipating hostile enterprises from the other. It is also the residence of "Minnie." But we will return to Minnie later.

The artillery of both sides, too, contributes its mite. There is a dull roar far in the rear of the German trenches, followed by a whirring squeak overhead. Then comes an earth-shaking crash a mile behind us. We whip[76] round, and there, in the failing evening light, against the sunset, there springs up the silhouette of a mighty tree in full foliage. Presently the silhouette disperses, drifts away, and——

"The coals is hame, right enough!" comments Private Tosh.

Instantly our guns reply, and we become the humble spectators of an artillery duel. Of course, if the enemy gets tired of "searching" the countryside for our guns and takes to "searching" our trenches instead, we lose all interest in the proceedings, and retire to our dugouts, hoping that no direct hits will come our way.

But guns are notoriously erratic in their time-tables, and fickle in their attentions. It is upon Zacchæus and Unter den Linden—including Minnie—that we mainly rely for excitement.


As already recorded, we took over these trenches a few days ago, in the small hours of the morning. In the ordinary course of events, relieving parties are usually able to march up under cover of darkness to the reserve trench, half a mile in rear of the firing line, and so proceed to their appointed place. But on this occasion the German artillery happened to be "distributing coal" among the billets behind. This made it necessary to approach our new home by tortuous ways, and to take to subterranean courses at a very early stage of the journey. For more than two hours we toiled along a trench just wide enough to permit a man to wear his equipment, sometimes bent double to avoid the bullets of snipers, sometimes knee-deep in glutinous mud.

Ayling, leading a machine-gun section who were burdened[77] with their weapons and seven thousand rounds of ammunition, mopped his steaming brow and inquired of his guide how much farther there was to go.

"Abart two miles, sir," replied the youth with gloomy satisfaction. He was a private of the Cockney regiment whom we were relieving; and after the manner of his kind, would infinitely have preferred to conduct us down half a mile of a shell-swept road, leading straight to the heart of things, than waste time upon an uninteresting but safe détour.

At this Ayling's Number One, who was carrying a machine-gun tripod weighing forty-eight pounds, said something—something distressingly audible—and groaned deeply.

"If we'd come the way I wanted," continued the guide, much pleased with the effect of his words upon his audience, "we'd a' been there by now. But the Adjutant, 'e says to me——"

"If we had come the way you wanted," interrupted Ayling brutally, "we should probably have been in Kingdom Come by now. Hurry up!" Ayling, in common with the rest of those present, was not in the best of tempers, and the loquacity of the guide had been jarring upon him for some time.

The Cockney private, with the air of a deeply-wronged man, sulkily led on, followed by the dolorous procession. Another ten minutes' labored progress brought them to a place where several ways met.

"This is the beginning of the reserve trenches, sir," announced the guide. "If we'd come the way I——"

"Lead on!" said Ayling, and his perspiring followers murmured threatening applause.

The guide, now in his own territory, selected the muddiest opening and plunged down it. For two hundred yards or so he continued serenely upon his way, with[78] the air of one exhibiting the metropolis to a party of country cousins. He passed numerous turnings. Then, once or twice, he paused irresolutely; then moved on. Finally he halted, and proceeded to climb out of the trench.

"What are you doing?" demanded Ayling suspiciously.

"We got to cut across the open 'ere, sir," said the youth glibly. "Trench don't go no farther. Keep as low as you can."

With resigned grunts the weary pilgrims hoisted themselves and their numerous burdens out of their slimy thoroughfare, and followed their conductor through the long grass in single file, feeling painfully conspicuous against the whitening sky. Presently they discovered, and descended into, another trench—all but the man with the tripod, who descended into it before he discovered it—and proceeded upon their dolorous way. Once more the guide, who had been refreshingly but ominously silent for some time, paused irresolutely.

"Look here, my man," said Ayling, "do you, or do you not, know where you are?"

The paragon replied hesitatingly:—

"Well, sir, if we'd come by the way I——"

Ayling took a deep breath, and though conscious of the presence of formidable competitors, was about to make the best of an officer's vocabulary, when a kilted figure loomed out of the darkness.

"Hallo! Who are you?" inquired Ayling.

"This iss the Camerons' trenches, sirr," replied a polite West Highland voice. "What trenches wass you seeking?"

Ayeling told him.

"They are behind you, sirr."

"I was just goin' to say, sir," chanted the guide, making one last effort to redeem his prestige, "as 'ow——"


"Party," commanded Ayling, "about turn!"

Having received details of the route from the friendly Cameron, he scrambled out of the trench and crawled along to what was now the head of the procession. A plaintive voice followed him.

"Beg pardon, sir, where shall I go now?"

Ayling answered the question explicitly, and moved off, feeling much better. The late conductor of the party trailed disconsolately in the rear.

"I should like to know wot I'm 'ere for," he murmured indignantly.

He got his answer, like a lightning-flash.

"For tae carry this," said the man with the tripod, turning round. "Here, caatch!"


The day's work in trenches begins about nine o'clock the night before. Darkness having fallen, various parties steal out into the No-Man's-Land beyond the parapet. There are numerous things to be done. The barbed wire has been broken up by shrapnel, and must be repaired. The whole position in front of the wire must be patrolled, to prevent the enemy from creeping forward in the dark. The corn has grown to an uncomfortable height in places, so a fatigue party is told off to cut it—surely the strangest species of harvesting that the annals of agriculture can record. On the left front the muffled clinking of picks and shovels announces that a "sap" is in course of construction: those incorrigible night-birds, the Royal Engineers, are making it for the machine-gunners, who in the fullness of time will convey their voluble weapon to its forward extremity, and "loose off a belt or two" in the direction of a rather dangerous hollow midway between the trenches, from which of late mysterious[80] sounds of digging and guttural talking have been detected by the officer who lies in the listening-post, in front of our barbed-wire entanglement, drawing secrets from the bowels of the earth by means of a microphone.

Behind the firing trench even greater activity prevails. Damage done to the parapet by shell fire is being repaired. Positions and emplacements are being constantly improved, communication trenches widened or made more secure. Down these trenches fatigue parties are filing, to draw rations and water and ammunition from the limbered wagons which are waiting in the shadow of a wood, perhaps a mile back. It is at this hour, too, that the wounded, who have been lying pathetically cheerful and patient in the dressing-station in the reserve trench, are smuggled to the Field Ambulance—probably to find themselves safe in a London hospital within twenty-four hours. Lastly, under the kindly cloak of night, we bury our dead.

Meanwhile, within various stifling dugouts, in the firing trench or support trench, overheated company commanders are dictating reports or filling in returns. (Even now the Round Game Department is not entirely shaken off.) There is the casualty return, and a report on the doings of the enemy, and another report of one's own doings, and a report on the direction of the wind, and so on. Then there are various indents to fill up—scrawled on a wobbly writing-block with a blunt indelible pencil by the light of a guttering candle—for ammunition, and sandbags, and revetting material.

All this literature has to be sent to Battalion Headquarters by one A.M., either by orderly or telephone. There it is collated and condensed, and forwarded to the Brigade, which submits it to the same process and sends it on, to be served up piping hot and easily digestible at[81] the breakfast-table of the Division, five miles away, at eight o'clock.


You must not imagine, however, that all this nightwork is performed in gross darkness. On the contrary. There is abundance of illumination; and by a pretty thought, each side illuminates the other. We perform our nocturnal tasks, in front of and behind the firing trench, amid a perfect hail of star-shells and magnesium lights, topped up at times by a searchlight—all supplied by our obliging friend the Hun. We, on our part, do our best to return these graceful compliments.

The curious and uncanny part of it all is that there is no firing. During these brief hours there exists an informal truce, founded on the principle of live and let live. It would be an easy business to wipe out that working-party, over there by the barbed wire, with a machine-gun. It would be child's play to shell the road behind the enemy's trenches, crowded as it must be with ration-wagons and water-carts, into a blood-stained wilderness. But so long as each side confines itself to purely defensive and recuperative work, there is little or no interference. That slave of duty, Zacchæus, keeps on pegging away; and occasionally, if a hostile patrol shows itself too boldly, there is a little exuberance from a machine-gun; but on the whole there is silence. After all, if you prevent your enemy from drawing his rations, his remedy is simple: he will prevent you from drawing yours. Then both parties will have to fight on empty stomachs, and neither of them, tacitally, will be a penny the better. So, unless some elaborate scheme of attack is brewing, the early hours of the night are comparatively peaceful. But what is that sudden disturbance in the[82] front-line trench? A British rifle rings out, then another, and another, until there is an agitated fusilade from end to end of the section. Instantly the sleepless host across the way replies, and for three minutes or so a hurricane rages. The working parties out in front lie flat on their faces, cursing patiently. Suddenly the storm dies away, and perfect silence reigns once more. It was a false alarm. Some watchman, deceived by the whispers of the night breeze, or merely a prey to nerves, has discerned a phantom army approaching through the gloom, and has opened fire thereon. This often occurs when troops are new to trench-work.

It is during these hours, too, that regiments relieve one another in the trenches. The outgoing regiment cannot leave its post until the incoming regiment has "taken over." Consequently you have, for a brief space, two thousand troops packed into a trench calculated to hold one thousand. Then it is that strong men swear themselves faint, and the Rugby football player has reason to be thankful for his previous training in the art of "getting through the scrum." However perfect your organization may be, congestion is bound to occur here and there; and it is no little consolation to us to feel, as we surge and sway in the darkness, that over there in the German lines a Saxon and a Prussian private, irretrievably jammed together in a narrow communication trench, are consigning one another to perdition in just the same husky whisper as that employed by Private Mucklewame and his "opposite number" in the regiment which has come to relieve him.

These "reliefs" take place every four or five nights. There was a time, not so long ago, when a regiment was relieved, not when it was weary, but when another regiment could be found to replace it. Our own first battalion once remained in the trenches, unrelieved and only[83] securing its supplies with difficulty, for five weeks and three days. During all that time they were subject to most pressing attentions on the part of the Boches, but they never lost a yard of trench. They received word from Headquarters that to detach another regiment for their relief would seriously weaken other and most important dispositions. The Commander-in-Chief would therefore be greatly obliged if they could hold on. So they held on.

At last they came out, and staggered back to billets. Their old quarters, naturally, had long been appropriated by other troops, and the officers had some difficulty in recovering their kits.

"I don't mind being kept in trenches for several weeks," remarked their commander to the staff officer who received him when he reported, "and I can put up with losing my sleeping-bag; but I do object to having my last box of cigars looted by the blackguards who took over our billets!"

The staff officer expressed sympathy, and the subject dropped. But not many days later, when the battalion were still resting, their commander was roused in the middle of the night from the profound slumber which only the experience of many nights of anxious vigil can induce, by the ominous message:—

"An orderly to see you, from General Headquarters, sir!"

The colonel rolled stoically out of bed, and commanded that the orderly should be brought before him.

The man entered, carrying, not a despatch, but a package, which he proffered with a salute.

"With the Commander-in-Chief's compliments, sir!" he announced.

The package was a box of cigars!

But that was before the days of "K(1)."


But the night is wearing on. It is half-past one—time to knock off work. Tired men, returning from ration-drawing or sap-digging, throw themselves down and fall dead asleep in a moment. Only the sentries, with their elbows on the parapet, maintain their sleepless watch. From behind the enemy's lines comes a deep boom—then another. The big guns are waking up again, and have decided to commence their day's work by speeding our empty ration-wagons upon their homeward way. Let them! So long as they refrain from practising direct hits on our front-line parapet, and disturbing our brief and hardly-earned repose, they may fire where they please. The ration train is well able to look after itself.

"A whiff o' shrapnel will dae nae harrm to thae strawberry-jam pinchers!" observes Private Tosh bitterly, rolling into his dugout. By this opprobrious term he designates that distinguished body of men, the Army Service Corps. A prolonged diet of plum-and-apple jam has implanted in the breasts of the men in the trenches certain dark and unworthy suspicions concerning the entire altruism of those responsible for the distribution of the Army's rations.


It is close on daybreak, and the customary whispered order runs down the stertorous trench:—

"Stand to arms!"

Straightway the parapets are lined with armed men; the waterproof sheets which have been protecting the machine-guns from the dews of night are cast off; and we stand straining our eyes into the whitening darkness.

This is the favorite hour for attack. At any moment the guns may open fire upon our parapet, or a solid wall[85] of gray-clad figures rise from that strip of corn-land less than a hundred yards away, and descend upon us. Well, we are ready for them. Just by way of signalizing the fact, there goes out a ragged volley of rifle fire, and a machine-gun rips off half a dozen bursts into the standing corn. But apparently there is nothing doing this morning. The day grows brighter, but there is no movement upon the part of Brother Boche.

But—what is that light haze hanging over the enemy's trenches? It is slight, almost impalpable, but it appears to be drifting towards us. Can it be——?

Next moment every man is hurriedly pulling his gas helmet over his head, while Lieutenant Waddell beats a frenzied tocsin upon the instrument provided for the purpose—to wit, an empty eighteen-pounder shell, which, suspended from a bayonet stuck into the parados (or back wall) of the trench, makes a most efficient alarm-gong. The sound is repeated all along the trench, and in two minutes every man is in his place, cowled like a member of the Holy Inquisition, glaring through an eye-piece of mica, and firing madly into the approaching wall of vapour.

But the wall approaches very slowly—in fact, it almost stands still—and finally, as the rising sun disentangles itself from a pink horizon and climbs into the sky, it begins to disappear. In half an hour nothing is left, and we take off our helmets, sniffing the morning air dubiously. But all we smell is the old mixture—corpses and chloride of lime.

The incident, however, was duly recorded by Major Kemp in his report of the day's events, as follows:—

4.7 A.M.Gas alarm, false. Due either to morning mist, or the fact that enemy found breeze insufficient, and discontinued their attempt.

"Still, I'm not sure," he continued, slapping his bald[86] head with a bandanna handkerchief, "that a whiff of chlorine or bromine wouldn't do these trenches a considerable amount of good. It would tone down some of the deceased a bit, and wipe out these infernal flies. Waddell, if I give you a shilling, will you take it over to the German trenches and ask them to drop it into the meter?"

"I do not think, sir," replied the literal Waddell, "that an English shilling would fit a German meter. Probably a mark would be required, and I have only a franc. Besides, sir, do you think that——"

"Surgical operation at seven-thirty, sharp!" intimated the major to the medical officer, who entered the dugout at that moment. "For our friend here"—indicating the bewildered Waddell. "Sydney Smith's prescription! Now, what about breakfast?"


About nine o'clock the enemy indulges in what is usually described, most disrespectfully, as "a little morning hate"—in other words, a bombardment. Beginning with a hors d'œuvre of shrapnel along the reserve trench—much to the discomfort of Headquarters, who are shaving—he proceeds to "search" a tract of woodland in our immediate rear, his quarry being a battery of motor machine-guns, which has wisely decamped some hours previously. Then, after scientifically "traversing" our second line, which has rashly advertised its position and range by cooking its breakfast over a smoky fire, he brings the display to a superfluous conclusion by dropping six "Black Marias" into the deserted ruins of a village not far behind us. After that comes silence; and we are able, in our hot, baking trenches, assisted by clouds of bluebottles, to get on with the day's work.


This consists almost entirely in digging. As already stated, these are bad trenches. The parapet is none too strong—at one point it has been knocked down for three days running—the communication trenches are few and narrow, and there are not nearly enough dugouts. Yesterday three men were wounded; and owing to the impossibility of carrying a stretcher along certain parts of the trench, they had to be conveyed to the rear in their ground-sheets—bumped against projections, bent round sharp corners, and sometimes lifted, perforce, bodily into view of the enemy. So every man toils with a will, knowing full well that in a few hours' time he may prove to have been his own benefactor. Only the sentries remain at the parapets. They no longer expose themselves, as at night, but take advantage of the laws of optical reflection, as exemplified by the trench periscope. (This, in spite of its grand title, is nothing but a tiny mirror clipped on to a bayonet.)

At half-past twelve comes dinner—bully-beef, with biscuit and jam—after which each tired man, coiling himself up in the trench, or crawling underground, according to the accommodation at his disposal, drops off into instant and heavy slumber. The hours from two till five in the afternoon are usually the most uneventful of the twenty-four, and are therefore devoted to hardly-earned repose.


But there is to be little peace this afternoon. About half-past three, Bobby Little, immersed in pleasant dreams—dreams of cool shades and dainty companionship—is brought suddenly to the surface of things by—

"Whoo-oo-oo-oo-UMP!"—followed by a heavy thud upon the roof of his dugout.[88] Earth and small stones descend in a shower upon him.

"Dirty dogs!" he comments, looking at his watch. Then he puts his head out of the dugout.

"Lie close, you men!" he cries. "There's more of this coming. Any casualties?"

The answer to the question is obscured by another burst of shrapnel, which explodes a few yards short of a parapet, and showers bullets and fragments of shell into the trench. A third and a fourth follow. Then comes a pause. A message is passed down for the stretcher-bearers. Things are growing serious. Five minutes later Bobby, having despatched his wounded to the dressing-station, proceeds with all haste to Captain Blaikie's dugout.

"How many, Bobby?"

"Six wounded. Two of them won't last as far as the rear, I'm afraid, sir."

Captain Blaikie looks grave.

"Better ring up the Gunners, I think. Where are the shells coming from?"

"That wood on our left front, I think."

"That's P 27. Telephone orderly, there?"

A figure appears in the doorway.

"Yes, sirr."

"Ring up Major Cavanagh, and say that H 21 is being shelled from P 27. Retaliate!"

"Verra good, sirr."

The telephone orderly disappears, to return in five minutes.

"Major Cavanagh's compliments, sirr, and he is coming up himself for tae observe from the firing trench."

"Good egg!" observes Captain Blaikie. "Now we shall see some shooting, Bobby!"

Presently the Gunner major arrives, accompanied by[89] an orderly, who pays out wire as he goes. The major adjusts his periscope, while the orderly thrusts a metal peg into the ground and fits a telephone receiver to his head.

"Number one gun!" chants the major, peering into his periscope; "three-five-one-nothing—lyddite—fourth charge!"

These mystic observations are repeated into the telephone by the Cockney orderly, in a confidential undertone.

"Report when ready!" continues the major.

"Report when ready!" echoes the orderly. Then—"Number one gun ready, sir!"


"Fire!" Then, politely—"Number one has fired, sir."

The major stiffens to his periscope, and Bobby Little, deeply interested, wonders what has become of the report of the gun. He forgets that sound does not travel much faster than a thousand feet a second, and that the guns are a mile and a half back. Presently, however, there is a distant boom. Almost simultaneously the lyddite shell passes overhead with a scream. Bobby, having no periscope, cannot see the actual result of the shot, though he tempts Providence (and Zacchæus) by peering over the top of the parapet.

"Number one, two-nothing minutes more right," commands the major. "Same range and charge."

Once more the orderly goes through his ritual, and presently another shell screams overhead.

Again the major observes the result.

"Repeat!" he says. "Nothing-five seconds more right."

This time he is satisfied.

"Parallel lines on number one," he commands crisply. "One round battery fire—twenty seconds!"

For the last time the order is passed down the wire, and the major hands his periscope to the ever-grateful[90] Bobby, who has hardly got his eyes to the glass when the round of battery fire commences. One—two—three—four—the avenging shells go shrieking on their way, at intervals of twenty seconds. There are four muffled thuds, and four great columns of earth and débris spring up before the wood. Answer comes there none. The offending battery has prudently effaced itself.

"Cease fire!" says the major, "and register!" Then he turns to Captain Blaikie.

"That'll settle them for a bit," he observes. "By the way, had any more trouble with Minnie?"

"We had Hades from her yesterday," replies Blaikie, in answer to this extremely personal question. "She started at a quarter-past five in the morning, and went on till about ten."


(Perhaps, at this point, it would be as well to introduce Minnie a little more formally. She is the most unpleasant of her sex, and her full name is Minenwerfer, or German trench-mortar. She resides, spasmodically, in Unter den Linden. Her extreme range is about two hundred yards, so she confines her attentions to front-line trenches. Her modus operandi is to discharge a large cylindrical bomb into the air. The bomb, which is about fifteen inches long and some eight inches in diameter, describes a leisurely parabola, performing grotesque somersaults on the way, and finally falls with a soft thud into the trench or against the parapet. There, after an interval of ten seconds, Minnie's offspring explodes; and as she contains about thirty pounds of dynamite, no dugout or parapet can stand against her.)

"Did she do much damage?" inquires the Gunner.


"Killed two men and buried another. They were in a dugout."

The Gunner shakes his head.

"No good taking cover against Minnie," he says. "The only way is to come out into the open trench, and dodge her."

"So we found," replies Blaikie. "But they pulled our legs badly the first time. They started off with three 'whizz-bangs'"—a whizz-bang is a particularly offensive form of shell which bursts two or three times over, like a Chinese cracker—"so we all took cover and lay low. The consequence was that Minnie was able to send her little contribution along unobserved. The filthy thing fell short of the trench, and exploded just as we were all getting up again. It smashed up three or four yards of parapet, and scuppered the three poor chaps I mentioned."

"Have you located her?"

"Yes. Just behind that stunted willow, on our left front. I fancy they bring her along there to do her bit, and then trot her back to billets, out of harm's way. She is their two o'clock turn—two A.M. and two P.M."

"Two o'clock turn—h'm!" says the Gunner major meditatively. "What about our chipping in with a one-fifty-five turn—half a dozen H E shells into Minnie's dressing-room—eh? I must think this over."

"Do!" said Blaikie cordially. "Minnie is Willie's Worst Werfer, and the sooner she is put out of action the better for all of us. To-day, for some reason, she failed to appear, but previous to that she has not failed for five mornings in succession to batter down the same bit of our parapet."

"Where's that?" asks the major, getting out a trench-map.

"P 7—a most unhealthy spot. Minnie pushes it over[92] about two every morning. The result is that we have to mount guard over the breach all day. We build everything up again at night, and Minnie sits there as good as gold, and never dreams of interfering. You can almost hear her cooing over us. Then, as I say, at two o'clock, just as the working party comes in and gets under cover, she lets slip one of her disgusting bombs, and undoes the work of about four hours. It was a joke at first, but we are getting fed up now. That's the worst of the Boche. He starts by being playful; but if not suppressed at once, he gets rough; and that, of course, spoils all the harmony of the proceedings. So I cordially commend your idea of the one-fifty-five turn, sir."

"I'll see what can be done," says the major. "I think the best plan would be a couple of hours' solid frightfulness, from every battery we can switch on. To-morrow afternoon, perhaps, but I'll let you know. You'll have to clear out of this bit of trench altogether, as we shall shoot pretty low. So long!"


It is six o'clock next evening, and peace reigns over our trench. This is the hour at which one usually shells aeroplanes—or rather, at which the Germans shell ours, for their own seldom venture out in broad daylight. But this evening, although two or three are up in the blue, buzzing inquisitively over the enemy's lines, their attendant escort of white shrapnel puffs is entirely lacking. Far away behind the German lines a house is burning fiercely.

"The Hun is a bit piano to-night," observes Captain Blaikie, attacking his tea.

"The Hun has been rather firmly handled this afternoon," replies Captain Wagstaffe. "I think he has had[93] an eye-opener. There are no flies on our Divisional Artillery."

Bobby Little heaved a contented sigh. For two hours that afternoon he had sat, half-deafened, while six-inch shells skimmed the parapet in both directions, a few feet above his head. The Gunner major had been as good as his word. Punctually at one-fifty-five "Minnie's" two o'clock turn had been anticipated by a round of high-explosive shells directed into her suspected place of residence. What the actual result had been nobody knew, but Minnie had made no attempt to raise her voice since. Thereafter the German front-line trenches had been "plastered" from end to end, while the trenches farther back were attended to with methodical thoroughness. The German guns had replied vigorously, but directing only a passing fire at the trenches, had devoted their efforts chiefly to the silencing of the British artillery. In this enterprise they had been remarkably unsuccessful.

"Any casualties?" asked Blaikie.

"None here," replied Wagstaffe. "There may be some back in the support trenches."

"We might telephone and inquire."

"No good at present. The wires are all cut to pieces. The signallers are repairing them now."

"I was nearly a casualty," confessed Bobby modestly.


"That first shell of ours nearly knocked my head off! I was standing up at the time, and it rather took me by surprise. It just cleared the parados. In fact, it kicked a lot of gravel into the back of my neck."

"Most people get it in the neck here, sooner or later," remarked Captain Blaikie sententiously. "Personally, I don't much mind being killed, but I do bar being buried alive. That is why I dislike Minnie so." He rose, and stretched himself. "Heigho! I suppose it's about time[94] we detailed patrols and working parties for to-night. What a lovely sky! A truly peaceful atmosphere—what? It gives one a sort of Sunday-evening feeling, somehow."

"May I suggest an explanation?" said Wagstaffe.

"By all means."

"It is Sunday evening!"

Captain Blaikie whistled gently, and said—

"By Jove, so it is." Then, after a pause: "This time last Sunday—"


Last Sunday had been an off-day—a day of cloudless summer beauty. Tired men had slept; tidy men had washed their clothes; restless men had wandered at ease about the countryside, careless of the guns which grumbled everlastingly a few miles away. There had been impromptu Church Parades for each denomination, in the corner of a wood which was part of the demesne of a shell-torn château.

It is a sadly transformed wood. The open space before the château, once a smooth expanse of tennis-lawn, is now a dusty picketing-ground for transport mules, destitute of a single blade of grass. The ornamental lake is full of broken bottles and empty jam-tins. The pagoda-like summer house, so inevitable to French château gardens, is a quartermaster's store. Half the trees have been cut down for fuel. Still, the July sun streams very pleasantly through the remainder, and the Psalms of David float up from beneath their shade quite as sweetly as they usually do from the neighborhood of the precentor's desk in the kirk at home—perhaps sweeter.

The wood itself is a point d'appui, or fortified post. One has to take precautions, even two or three miles behind the main firing line. A series of trenches zigzags in and out among the trees, and barbed wire is interlaced[95] with the undergrowth. In the farthermost corner lies an improvised cemetery. Some of the inscriptions on the little wooden crosses are only three days old. Merely to read a few of these touches the imagination and stirs the blood. Here you may see the names of English Tommies and Highland Jocks, side by side with their Canadian kith and kin. A little apart lie more graves, surmounted by epitaphs written in strange characters, such as few white men can read. These are the Indian troops. There they lie, side by side—the mute wastage of war, but a living testimony, even in their last sleep, to the breadth and unity of the British Empire. The great, machine-made Empire of Germany can show no such graves: when her soldiers die, they sleep alone.

The Church of England service had come last of all. Late in the afternoon a youthful and red-faced chaplain had arrived on a bicycle, to find a party of officers and men lying in the shade of a broad oak waiting for him. (They were a small party: naturally, the great majority of the regiment are what the identity-discs call "Pres" or "R.C.")

"Sorry to be late, sir," he said to the senior officer, saluting. "This is my sixth sh—service to-day, and I have come seven miles for it."

He mopped his brow cheerfully; and having produced innumerable hymn-books from a saddle-bag and set his congregation in array, read them the service, in a particularly pleasing and well-modulated voice. After that he preached a modest and manly little sermon, containing references which carried Bobby Little, for one, back across the Channel to other scenes and other company. After the sermon came a hymn, sung with great vigor. Tommy loves singing hymns—when he happens to know and like the tune.

"I know you chaps like hymns," said the padre, when[96] they had finished. "Let's have another before you go. What do you want?"

A most unlikely-looking person suggested "Abide with Me." When it was over, and the party, standing as rigid as their own rifles, had sung "God Save the King," the preacher announced awkwardly—almost apologetically—

"If any of you would like to—er—communicate, I shall be very glad. May not have another opportunity for some time, you know. I think over there"—he indicated a quiet corner of the wood, not far from the little cemetery—"would be a good place."

He pronounced the benediction, and then, after further recurrence to his saddle-bag, retired to his improvised sanctuary. Here, with a ration-box for altar, and strands of barbed wire for choir-stalls, he made his simple preparations.

Half a dozen of the men, and all the officers, followed him. That was just a week ago.

Captain Wagstaffe broke the silence at last.

"It's a rotten business, war," he said pensively—"when you come to think of it. Hallo, there goes the first star-shell! Come along, Bobby!"

Dusk had fallen. From the German trenches a thin luminous thread stole up into the darkening sky, leaned over, drooped, and burst into dazzling brilliance over the British parapet. Simultaneously a desultory rifle fire crackled down the lines. The night's work had begun.

(Ian Hay relates innumerable stories, each filled with absorbing human emotions. Among them are: "The Conversion of Private M'Slattery;" "Shooting Straight;" "Deeds of Darkness;" "The Gathering of the Eagles;" "The Battle of the Slag-Heaps," all of which are the narratives of a trained novelist direct from the battlefield.)


[4] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters in original sources.



In the Palace of Prince and Princess K——
By Mina MacDonald, English Companion to the Two Daughters of a Hungarian Magnate

These experiences of an English girl throw a new light on the character of the Hungarian noble families. At the outbreak of the War, she was companion to the two daughters of a Hungarian Prince who resided in the vicinity of Pressburg. This gave her an opportunity of gauging the sentiments of those connected with the House of Hapsburg. They discussed the War with frankness in her presence. The family treated her precisely as one of their own and at no time considered her as an "enemy alien." In the preface to her narrative, Miss MacDonald says: "If other British subjects in Austria proper were treated more rigorously, they must lay the blame on instructions received from Berlin. My own experiences in the Hungarian family during the throes of a World War may, perchance, induce British (and American) readers to think more highly of the gallant Magyar race." Selections from her narrative are here presented by courtesy of her publishers, Longmans, Green and Company.


The village of K—— stands in a pleasant mountain valley among the White Carpathians on the borders of Moravia.... It cannot even lay claim to the various dissensions of its neighbouring town S—— where representatives of every race, religion, and political party to be found in Austria and Hungary, keep the town like a boiling pot. It is far otherwise in K—— which is solidly and frankly Clovak, Catholic, and anti-Austrian. The peasants who, with the exception of the priest, the schoolmaster and the inn-keeper, constitute the population of village, are all dirty, drunken, hard-working, and intelligent.


The Schloss is an old white building full of beauty and interest, built on the hill below the village, in the midst of a park where Maria Therese used to hunt.... The gardens which surround the Schloss are so beautifully laid out and so ornamented with fountains and statues that K—— is known to Hungarians as the Miniature Versailles; the head gardener being a person of such serious importance in K—— that even the Herrschaft at the Schloss speak of and treat him not as an ordinary gardener but as a Man of Art. Indoors, too, the house confirms its reputation of being a small Versailles, for the collection of pictures and antiquities, begun centuries ago, is pursued by the Prince of to-day with vigour, and carping guests have been heard to remark that though there wasn't a chair in the Schloss but had a history and a value that made ordinary mortals' hair stand on end, there also wasn't one that offered any ease or comfort except in the Prince's den where all was modern—but sacred to the Prince.

Life was always merry at the Schloss, and it was a very jolly party that Excellenz von R—— found gathered there when she arrived hot and cross from Vienna, on June 28, 1914, bringing her bad news. We were: the Prince and Princess—the best-natured and most happy-go-lucky of all hosts and hostesses; their daughters, Claire aged twenty-one, fair, blue-eyed and very beautiful, and Billy aged eighteen, large and dark and interested in all things pertaining to sport; General T——, round,[99] white-haired, and explosive—once Commandant of a very famous Galician fortress, but now living in irksome retirement in Vienna; his son Walther, a lieutenant of Uhlans, known to us as "The Babe"; finally, myself, known to everybody as Jerry—a name which no circumstances could make beautiful, and which became heart-breaking when invariably pronounced there as "Sherry."

Everybody knew and liked Excellenz von R——, who was a very gay and enterprising old lady, and Claire, Billy, and I who had looked forward in pleasure to her coming, awaited her at the gates and clambered into the carriage from both sides as it passed—for Jan, the coachman who had driven Excellencies to and from the Schloss for the past twenty-five years, found it beneath his dignity to stop at the gates to take us in, so we tumbled in as best we could on and around Excellenz, whose face was long and tragic.


"Ach, my dear children, have mercy on old bones! And I bring you bad news! The Tronfolger and his wife were shot to-day in Sarajevo. Oh, poor Sophie!" and Excellenz, who was an intimate friend of the Duchess, burst into tears. "It's quite true too—official before I left Vienna this afternoon."

But Jan was before her at the house and called as he drove up, to the footman on the steps—

"Tronfolger mit Frau heute geschossen."

German, which he insisted on speaking, was not Jan's strong point. The footman, a Bohemian and anti-Austrian, sniffed at this lack of breeding, and answered very casually "So." Excellenz, though she was still weeping, was very angry and shook her fist at Jan, but she got her[100] innings in the hall where the Princess was awaiting—in perplexity as she saw Excellenz's wrath and tears.

"What, Francesca, you arrive in tears at K——?"

"Yes, I should think I do—it's too awful," and Excellenz sobbed out her news.

"What nonsense!" said the Princess. "How can you believe these wild stories? Besides, who would shoot that pair?"

"But it's official."

"What is official?" asked the Prince appearing.

"The Archduke and Sophie were shot to-day in Sarajevo."

"Then what the devil made them go there? They might know beforehand that they wouldn't get out of there with whole skins," he replied, greeting his guest.

In the drawing-room I found the General, who in the excitement of the moment had been forgotten. He said as usual, "Pooh! that's not a funny joke, Sherry."

"That may be; but it's official, and you ought not to receive your 'officials' with 'pooh,' but perhaps it's your way here. Here is Excellenz von R—— in tears—she has brought the news from Vienna."

"Old wives' tales! I don't believe it."

Excellenz nevertheless persuaded him.

"Donnerwetter! Jesus Maria! And she tried to save him! Plucky woman—always was plucky. Skinflint though—a skinflint. Too fond of the Jesuits! This plot was arranged in Serbia, I'll stake my life—stake my life. Ach, those Serbs! The scum of creation—scum of creation! We must exterminate them one day. They have always been a trouble, but this will bring about their end at last. Ach, the poor Archduke and the poor Duchess! Ach! Pooh!"

"Personally," said the Prince, "I think you needn't be so angry with the Serbs. They've done us a good turn[101] really. The Archduke—it's useless to pretend otherwise, General—was the best hated man in Austria, and the Duchess the best-hated woman. Both cared only for the Church. They won't really be regretted. The young Karl Franz Josef may be the saving of Austria at a critical moment."


Excellenz von R—— during her stay in K—— remained sad over the murder of her friend, and no one spoke of anything but the political complications which might ensue. The plot, it seemed, had been known to the military and civil authorities in Sarajevo, and several arrests made even before the tragedy. The Archduke was very uneasy, and asked the Governor, General Potiorek, if it was safe to venture out to the reception in the town hall. "Absolutely safe," General Potiorek was unwise enough to reply, "I can stake my own life on your Highnesses' safety."

After Excellenz von R—— returned to Vienna the Bores arrived en masse to spend the whole month of July in K——. They were the Princess's young brother Count R——, his wife, and children, Elizabeth and Stefan. It is not without reason that they are known as the Bores. The Count was the most bearable of them—but even he was trying to one's nerves in hot weather. He was gay and irresponsible—had squandered his own fortune, and as much of his wife's as she would allow him, at baccarat. His particular sin was his unfortunate habit of writing verse to each and all of us and singing it, to his own melodies, on every embarrassing occasion. His verse was clever—and usually true, consequently it annoyed. The countess was a politician, devoting her[102] attentions to the General, who spent his days in trying to avoid her.

"Jesus Maria!" he would say when, red and panting, he had made good his escape. "In all my years in Bosnia and Galicia I never had anything like this—pooh!"

Elizabeth—usually called Bethi—was sixteen, and Stefan was twelve. Both were small but they overran the whole Schloss; no person or thing was sacred to them, and no room escaped invasion.... Bethi was being educated in the Convent of the Sacré Cœur in Budapest, where all disliking her, the nuns advised her mother to have the girl's education completed at home—an advice which we in Schloss K—— could so well understand and sympathise with!...

The children were always first in church, occupying the most comfortable chairs in the chancel. Once they actually established themselves in the large velvet chairs placed for the Prince and Princess. Billy could not succeed in dislodging them, and Claire and I, on arrival, had to use force—to the amusement of all the peasant children—which so insulted Stefan that he sulked during Mass till he conceived the brilliant idea of stretching out his foot far enough to trip up an altar boy. The priest stumbled in the "Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas," and the old church servant, who had in earlier days been the village schoolmaster, shot out of the sacristy, as was his custom when the attention of the acolytes wandered, and soundly cuffed the unfortunate altar-boy. Happily the Countess had seen, and Stefan had a very bad quarter of an hour afterwards in the Schloss.


There were days of tension after the ultimatum went to Serbia. The press was very restrained but clearly[103] uneasy, and did not attempt to justify the extravagant tone of the ultimatum. General opinion as to whether the Serbs would fight or not was not very divided, and there were few who did not agree that Serbia was never intended to fight. She was simply to behave herself in future and Austria was to see that she did it. General T—— was indignant at the ultimatum.

"Berchtold again! Soft-headed fool—pooh! There are so many ways of getting what one wants—he must just choose this one! This way may really lead to war, and we are not prepared—no money, no munitions—nothing, nothing! Ach, it's an awful business! Perhaps Serbia won't dare to fight ... if the Russians back her she will!"

"You surely can scarcely imagine that any country could take such an ultimatum lying down?" I suggested.

"Pooh," he replied, "you can't deny that they've always been a thorn in our flesh. But my country is mad—mad! Nobody seems to realise what this can lead to. The Serbs are good fighters too. If Russia backs them we're done for. Na, I must get back to Vienna now, for Walther will have to go if there's war. Pooh—they're all crazy everywhere."

Even the Man of Art grew mournful among his rosebushes. He was Croatian and bitterly anti-Austrian.

"Ach, Fräulein! There are sad days coming, for that wasn't an ultimatum that went to Serbia—it was a declaration of war. The Serbs will fight, Fräulein. I know the race; they are brave men such as we have in Croatia. Of course they'll fight. They are real soldiers and have real officers—old General Putnik—that's a man! They'll beat us, Fräulein, and I'll have to go and fight against them too—against my own race. Bah! we're slaves here in Austria."



Then came the Serbs' reply and the partial mobilisation of the Austrian army. Everybody looked grave and the Prince became distinctly irritable.

"Just in the middle of the harvest, too! What a time of year to send an ultimatum! How the devil do they expect me to get my harvest in, if they take my men away? The lifting of the beets won't even begin for six weeks yet."

"War will be finished by then," said Billy, "and Serbia will have ceased to exist."

"And what of little Poli—the beautiful Dragoon with the sky-blue coat?" asked Claire. "Won't you have to return to Göding and join your regiment now?"

"This upsets all my plans for the summer," replied the soldier, "and it's very annoying, and it's too bad of them to spring a war upon peace-loving soldiers like this. They'll telephone to me if they want me, and I won't move from here till they do."

"And if the telephone is out of order, as it usually is, you'll be shot as a deserter," said Billy.

"Nevertheless, I won't go," said Poli, for the Einjährigerfreiwilliger was a man of peace and did not appreciate a Government which enforced days of warlike pursuits upon him each year.

But Poli had to go, for one morning about four o'clock, as the church bells were ringing the Angelus, the order for a general mobilisation was "drummed out"—in Hungary the town crier always uses a drum. Being much too sleepy to grasp what he said, I promptly went to sleep again, and in the morning discovered that I was the one person in the Schloss who had not been at all upset by the news, and that I was regarded by all as something[105] approaching a monster of callousness. There was the wildest confusion inside and outside the Schloss when I came downstairs; all the outdoor servants had gathered in the courtyard to say good-bye before leaving to report themselves at their "Kaders"; indoors the housemaids were crying as they went about their work, and it was with difficulty that the Princess, Claire, and I managed at last to get some sort of a breakfast served by a scared-looking butler. The Prince and Billy had been up at the stables for some time, for the officials had already arrived to claim the horses on the Government list. "And all our riding-horses will have to go—every one of them," sobbed the Princess, "yes, even Hadur—nothing but Claire's little horses, which are too young, and one other pair will be left."


The road was simply alive—peasants leading in their horses, recruits wearing the Hungarian red, white and green in their hats, cartloads of Jews huddled together weeping and wailing because their Moishes and Aarons had to go, wild-looking gipsies who had never done military service, dancing and singing in the gladness of their hearts that when others were taken they were left to steal and sing.

The town of S—— was seething with excited gesticulating crowds of people—all soldiers and recruits were drunk—the women-folk sobbing and screaming—the gipsies who lived in the town drunken and singing and dancing like their brethren in the country—every one was hurried and anxious, men, women, children and horses were all mixed up and military automobiles rushing about everywhere.... We reached the Oberstuhlrichter's door[106] in safety, but so bruised and breathless that we could hardly move. Our friend, the Oberstuhlrichter was so harassed and overworked, that he had nothing to say but—"For the love of Heaven, my dears, go away. I really know nothing myself except that Germany and Russia are now in the fray and I've got to get all the recruits away from here at once. Now go away and leave me."


From him we went to Aunt Sharolta and Uncle Pista—in Hungary all older people are addressed as uncle or aunt. Aunt Sharolta was nearly blind, but wonderfully sweet and gentle; and Uncle Pista was small, round and jovial—red-faced and white-haired. He always wore a piece of plaster on his nose, and we often speculated as to what might be below that plaster, for it certainly never was changed, and whether it had originally been black or pink no one knew, for from time immemorial it was grey. He was the most intrepid politician I have ever met. He had learned geography sixty years ago, had forgotten it for fifty, and I doubt if he rightly knew where Serbia lay from Austria. His daughters' geographical views were based on their father's.

When, on this particular day, we appeared in their house, hot and breathless and looking as if we had been picked out of the hay-stack, we found Uncle Pista bemoaning his horses and saying that if this sort of thing would continue he would have no nerves left. Aunt Sharolta was turning out all her drawers for things to manufacture into comforts for the soldiers, and having unearthed a piece of grey material embroidered with rose-buds she was making it into a chest-protector.

"Our boys," she explained, "will die of cold in Russia, if we don't make warm clothes for them."


"What's more to the point, my horses will die of cold in Russia," grumbled Uncle Pista.

"You don't think, then, that the Russians may break into Galicia?" I suggested.

"What an idea! Our army won't let them. Russia will take six weeks to mobilise—she can't do it in less—and by that time we shall have finished off Serbia and we can join the Germans in Russia. It's a pity though that the German Kaiser didn't keep quiet; of course he knows best, but there's no question but the Tsar was very impertinent to him lately, and William is hot-tempered. I've no doubt it's for the best, and it's one of God's mercies that we have the Kaiser behind us to help us against Russia. Our boys will be in St. Petersburg long before Christmas."


Partridge shooting opened on August 1st, and the Prince and Billy—for the keepers were all away at their Kaders—collected some beaters—among whom the naughty and clever Joszo, resplendent in carpet slippers, a pair of old gaiters, and an old cartridge belt—and set out to a melancholy half-hearted shoot, from which Billy returned in a dismal humour. They had shot little and had thought all the time of the men—German, Austrian, Russian, and French—who had shot with them last year and who were now engaged in shooting one another; the Prince had spoken all the time, too, of his friend the Grand Duke Nicholai Nicholaievich, who had hitherto been such a charming and clever man, but who, now that he was to lead the Russians, was nothing but a mahogany-coloured giant; and it was a disgusting world, and how could anybody ever be happy again....

The days that followed were very anxious. France, the newspapers said, declared war on Germany; and[108] Austria felt cross and shocked. How could France declare war on any country when she was herself, as the whole world knew, so little prepared? But there would be a revolution in France, and Poincaré would be guillotined for rushing his country into war like that. Oh, yes, all were agreed, nothing was surer than that Poincaré would meet the traitor's death he deserved.... My return to England had been planned for September, and I began to think that I ought to try to leave at once, but this was laughed down.

"How do you propose to go, Jerry—by private balloon? For everything on wheels is in the hands of the army at present. No, whatever happens you must just stay with us—even if England should join in, you will easily be home for Christmas—the war will be finished long before then. But England won't fight, so why should we break our heads about it?"

I pointed out that treaty obligations would hardly allow Great Britain to stand aside.

"Treaty obligations don't count any more," said the Prince; "the Germans are in Belgium."

"Great Britain, I imagine, does not accept the German view of treaty obligations. Can't you really see that Germany is committing a crime in going through Belgium like that?" I asked the Prince.

"No, absolutely not, when the French were already in Belgium before France declared war on Germany. And even supposing they were not there, Germany would still be right in forcing her way through—it's a case of the survival of the fittest. He's a nice fool that King of the Belgians! He had simply to allow the Germans through, and he would have been well paid for it by William. Old Leopold would not have been so silly."

"There you are right," I said, "he probably would have sold his country."


"Now, Jerry, don't be impertinent! Anything you say now will be used against you if England declares war on us. Don't forget you're our prisoner then."

When the declaration of war did come it sobered us somewhat! The Princess quickly recovered and said——

"Why do you worry about it, Jerry? It's not a matter between you and me, but between Grey and Berchtold—let them scratch each other's eyes out if they like. After all, I'm not sure that I'm so angry with them, for it means that now you've got to remain here indefinitely—nolens volens. I am very glad, for it will be fearfully dull here without our usual big shooting parties. And now come and play bridge."

That was the way in which the Princess looked at it all the time. It was impossible for me to persuade her that to have an enemy alien in the house might be very unpleasant for her: she could never see why, though England and Germany hated each other so cordially, she and I could not remain the good friends we had always been and live peacefully in the same house.

It was very easy for us to disagree, for, after a course of the Neue Freie Presse, the Neues Wiener Tagblatt and the Berliner Tagblatt, with the exception of myself and the servants—the majority of whom were Slavs—the inmates of Schloss K—— were soon convinced that it was England that had been behind the whole conflagration: that jealous of Germany's dangerously increasing foreign trade, she sought to cripple it by a war, and accordingly it was at England's suggestion that Russia bribed the Serbs to assassinate the Archduke—an event which the Entente felt would certainly force Germany's hand....

"We are not strong enough to do anything ourselves,[110] and Germany is the one hope of our existence. What can one do if one is so poor and so divided as we are? Oh, but Willy will save us—a plucky dashing fellow who will teach you all a lesson. You will shed bitter tears in England yet."

"We shall see, when the war is over, who will laugh and who will cry," I would reply.


I have said that all the servants were anti-Austrian. I wrong Marischa and probably also Therese. The latter was the maid who waited on me—a Vienna girl whose views were probably orthodox enough.... She was a scullery-maid—round as a barrel, with a large, good-humoured face, was always in a hurry and always smiling, and dressed always in the black and red costume of Moravia.... She had had a husband who left her years ago, going to America, from where he wrote to say that he had had enough of her and did not intend to return to her. Then Stefka Stefan came into her life and she found him irresistible.... He was small, sulky, and delicate looking, not as one pictures a hero of romance; but he was very devoted to Marischa and, if she could have got a divorce from her husband, he would have married her; but, as she explained to me in her inimitable way, this wasn't possible.

"Priest say no divorce, so Marischa yes just live like that with Stefan. Prince and Princess yes give Marischa and Stefan house. Marischa's husband no good man, but Stefan yes good man and yes want to marry Marischa: priest say no possible, so Marischa yes live just like that with Stefan."

Nevertheless her romance was a very real grief to Marischa, for the priest at confession would never give[111] her absolution, and her enforced abstinence from communion pained her more than it would many of her class. The earthly tie was stronger and Stefka Stefan continued to work in the garden at Schloss K—— and to live in Marischa's cottage. In spite of many protests the Prince was obdurate and refused to send the couple away, saying, with easy Hungarian carelessness, that the life in Marischa's cottage was better and purer than in the next house where at one side the gamekeeper beat his wife, and at the other the butler was in turn beaten by his wife. Marischa's loyalty simply oozed out of her.

"Kaiser brave man, yes brave man. Kaiser fears only God, so God let Kaiser win."

"Which Kaiser, Marischa?"

"German Kaiser. Our King Kaiser yes old man now not know like German Kaiser yes know—fears God—fears God."

It was a pity to spoil this beautiful faith, so I always remained on very good terms with Marischa, who always greeted me with a smile of affection and pity that was touching.


News of great deeds soon came from Serbia, where the Austrians were supposed to be already in the heart of the country. No lie was ever too big for the Austrian papers, and the jubilation throughout the country over the imaginary successes in Serbia knew no bounds....

The fields had become very empty and sad: instead of the crowds of jolly handsome young peasant lads, singing their beautiful Slovak songs as they worked, there were now only a few old men and women, and gipsies who would follow one any distance begging all the time for "a Kreutzer for the love of God, Mistress."

The men-servants who had gone to their Kaders soon[112] began to return. First came the Man of Art. We had all been sitting outside on the terrace when we heard that this first of the heroes had returned, and he was at once summoned to give his report. His heart was bad, so bad that the doctor feared that the exertion of even a few days' military service might kill him, therefore—with many shakes of his head—he would never fight for his country.

"Where did they tell you that?" I asked.

"In Agram, Fräulein," very mournfully.

"They didn't expect you to believe it, I hope?"

But the Princess interrupted. "Don't ask these awkward questions, Jerry. We're much too glad to have him back again to go very deeply into the details of his terrible illness. And now, Herr Gärtner, give us all your news of the war."

He did, and how they wished he didn't!

"The Herrschaft all thought Russia would take six weeks to mobilise—well, the Russians are in Galicia now. Our armies there were far too small and badly prepared, and they have been cut to pieces. The great body of troops is being withdrawn from Serbia up to Galicia, and we have had very serious reverses in Serbia too. It's our officers that are no good. I travelled with a Bulgarian who had come from Moscow to Agram through Roumania, and he says the Russian mobilisation is complete, and that he didn't think there were so many men on earth as he saw pouring through Moscow as the Siberian troops came up. The Herrschaft cannot hear those things, as they sit in the gardens here away from it all, but I know for a fact that the Russians are in Galicia and Lemberg is about to fall."

"And yet the newspapers speak only of the success of our offensive against Serbia," said Claire, in tears.

"Our newspapers are the most lying on earth, Highness,[113] and I tell you that Austria will lose, and lose badly in this war."

Consternation of all! An Englishwoman to hear all this!

"That will do," said the Prince, shortly, "and I should advise you not to repeat in the village what you've just said, else you'll get yourself into trouble." The Princess then hurried the offender off to the gardens before more could be said.

In a few days the gamekeeper arrived back, to the annoyance of his wife, who had hoped that the war would end her beatings for some time. His uncle was an army doctor, and no reasonable being could expect the gamekeeper to be strong and well in such circumstances—heart disease again, of the most incurable kind. The butler and the first footman returned from Bohemia—the one with varicose veins, and the other with heart disease.

The newspapers were silent about the Russian front, but became more and more triumphant about events in Serbia, where Conrad von Hötzendorf expected the whole Serbian army to be surrounded in a few days by the Austrians under General Potiorek, who, in his capacity of Military Governor of Bosnia, when the Archduke and his wife were shot, had been sent to punish the Serbs.

I soon began to receive and to send English letters through Rome, and during the rest of the time I was in Hungary I had no trouble with my mails, despite the fact that foreign correspondence was forbidden to enemy aliens. It was very difficult for me to realise that I was an enemy alien, for my liberties were hindered in no way....


At the end of the month the Admiral arrived from[114] Vienna. He was no longer young, but he was very enterprising, and, though for many years retired, he now offered himself to his country, which was ungrateful enough to evince no very pressing need of his services....

The Admiral brought us all the news of Vienna, which he described as being in a state of wild enthusiasm and satisfaction. Day by day Italy's declaration of war on the Allies was awaited, and, as expectancy gradually died, Vienna's rage against Italy knew no bounds. A popular joke in the city then was:—

"Was ist der Dreibund? Ein Zweibund und ein Vagabund!"

But, the Admiral assured us, everybody knew that the Zweibund would win without the Vagabund: Willy would see to that; he had all that was necessary to win a war, men, munitions, and brains. No, there never was a man so plucky as Willy. The Admiral's thoughts, from force of habit, lingered on things naval, and his morning greeting was, invariably—

"Good morning! To-day we shall hear something from the sea!"

We all grew impatient as time passed and the Admiral's big sea-battle failed to take place. I once dared to suggest that the German Fleet was afraid to come out. The Admiral's remaining hairs literally stood on end.

"Afraid! Oh, Miss Jerry! You must have patience—they will come out in time. What do you suppose Willy built his Dreadnoughts for? To sit in the Kiel Canal, perhaps?"

There was never even a hint in the Austrian papers of any doings at sea at all; but the Man of Arts knew of the clearing of enemy ships from the seas by the Allied Fleets. It was in the Slav papers.

"But how do you manage to get those papers?" I once asked.


"Na, Fräulein; don't ask me that. To have that known is as much as my life is worth. But you can be quite certain that I'm not the only person here who gets them."

Japan's declaration of war was the surprise of the Admiral's life, and his rage was almost classic. It was right, though, he said, for the Allies to welcome the yellow Japs to their rainbow collection of soldiers!

Uncle Pista was charmingly funny about Japan one afternoon when Claire, the Admiral, and I went to tea to Aunt Sharolta.

"Japan will regret what she has done," and in anticipation of this his face grew rounder and redder. "There won't be much left of her by the time that Germany's done with her."

"How is Germany going to manage it?"

"By sending ships and men there, of course," he replied, contemptuously.

"And how will Germany manage that?" asked the Admiral, greatly amused.

"How!" repeated the old gentleman. "How does any ship go anywhere? By crossing the sea, of course."

"What about the British Navy on the way?" asked Claire.

"Why—would the German boats go near the British Navy?" and Uncle Pista was surprised and disappointed.

"Not intentionally—but they might find the British Navy difficult to avoid," said the Admiral.

"Then they wouldn't avoid it at all," said Uncle Pista, recovering his spirits. "They would just smash it up, as they're smashing up the English in Flanders just now, and then go on, and they would be in Japan in a few days."

"Good sailing!" commented the Admiral.

"Oh, yes, there will be an end of Japan and of England,[116] too! Willy will teach them the lesson they need. How glad I am that no child of mine ever learned English!" By this time we were literally roaring with laughter, and he paused in surprise. "What are you all laughing at? Am I not right?" He had forgotten my nationality.

"Quite," I said, hoping he would continue. But Aunt Sharolta looked up from the chest-protector she was sewing and said—

"It is useless for you to talk like that, Pista, when we are being annihilated in Galicia and Serbia. Oh, yes, I know the newspapers are very encouraging, but those who know say otherwise."

"Have patience! Have patience," said the Admiral. "Trust in Willy. And mark my words, to-morrow we shall hear something from the sea."

(This English companion to a royal Hungarian family continues to relate her experiences until the spring of 1915, when, despite the efforts of her kind host and hostess, she escaped from the War-cursed country. She tells how she made her way to Switzerland, via Vienna and Innsbruck, and arrived safely at her home in London.)


[5] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters in the original sources.



"What My Eyes Witnessed in East Prussia"

Told by Erich Erichsen, A Soldier in the German Army Translated from the Danish by Ingebord Lund

This is a tragic story of a Dane who was forced to fight in the German Army. He was mobilized at the beginning of the War and forced to serve on the Western and Eastern fronts. He wrote the first revelations of life in the German trenches. This is the first authentic account of how Germany makes war from the lips of a German soldier. After being wounded, disfigured for life, and a cripple, he went home where his own father and mother hardly knew him. Twenty editions of his book have appeared in Danish but for obvious reasons, its sale in Germany has been prohibited. The experiences herein related are by permission of his American publishers, Robert M. McBride and Company.


On the East front I took part in the great offensive against the Russians. My old comrade was there also; he was still alive. But there were many new faces in my division. The bloody days before Liège, the horrors of the fight through Belgium, and the long strife in the trenches of Flanders, had cost many men their lives or their reason....


I remember how Belgium was laid waste. But to tell the truth, things were much the same in East Prussia. Before the invasion, it was in many parts a melancholy country. But it looked more pitiable than ever, as we marched through it, with the Russians retreating before us. Trampled fields, ploughed up by shells, burnt farms, property wantonly injured or destroyed, towns in ruins and human beings in despair, robbed of all they had, their happiness, their joy, their future. It was an indescribable scene of misery and woe. But at the same time it was exceedingly touching to see how the greater number of the people clung to the devastated home, whose master was probably in the fighting line, if he were not already killed. The wretched hovels and the ruined farms still sheltered human creatures, who did their work as best they could, and hid themselves from the night and the rain in some cramped space, between half-charred boards and ends of beams, or whatever they could find to hand.

It was misery. It was poverty. It was wretchedness. But it was home—the one fixed point in their existence. If they once forsook that, they were exposed to the merciless uncertainty of life. So they clung to it obstinately and faithfully in spite of all they had to bear and suffer, both when the Russians advanced, and when they retreated. Among their other miseries they had also learnt to know famine. When the Russians advanced, they did not leave much behind. Many a time these people begged our last slice of bread from us, to stay the worst of their hunger.

We gave to them willingly. I felt at times, that their lot was far worse than ours. We indeed might lose our lives in many different ways, and we also knew what it was to be hungry. But we had not to listen[119] to our children crying for food, or see our tiny infants sicken and die because there was no milk to be had and the mother's breasts were empty.

I can well understand why wherever we came, the people greeted us as their deliverers.

I understand their joy and their often boundless gratitude in word and deed. I understand why the old men and the trembling women so often fell upon our necks with tears of joy.

It must be heart-breaking to see the plot of ground you love laid waste and trampled down, without being able to do anything to save it. It must be still more heart-breaking to see the home that you have cherished devoured by flames, and then, on dark and stormy nights, taking your children by the hand or on your back, and followed by terror-stricken women and bewildered old people, to flee from that home and wander along toilsome roads to uncertainty, in company with hundreds of others who know just as little where to go for help or safety.

We met many such crowds of homeless wayfarers on our march, people who could hardly drag themselves along for hunger and cold and terror.

There were miserable carts drawn by miserable, starved horses and wretched bits of furniture, piled up anyhow in haste and fear. There were people huddled together under the lee of a hedge or in a wood, or sheltering in the holes they had dug into banks of earth or dykes, wrapped in rags, starving with cold and still terror-stricken. Men gazing towards the homes from which they had fled, looking in bewilderment and despair at the down-trodden and ruined country; women lying down and trying to warm their little ones at a naked, impoverished breast, or groaning in misery and hopelessness over the dying eyes[120] of a child; old men and old women with only one wish in the world—the sum and substance of their prayers from hour to hour being that God would take them away from all this misery, which they could not in the least comprehend and which they had not strength enough to bear.


And what appalling things they told us, in trembling voices and shaking with sobs!

Not only their homes, their domestic animals and their furniture had been harried by fire and sword—it cannot be otherwise in war, I suppose, for it has no mercy.

It had been here as it had been in Belgium—the soldiers were intoxicated with savagery and the lust of destruction. In such an army there may be a thousand scoundrels amongst a hundred thousand decent men; but scoundrels create new scoundrels, drink begets coarseness, and coarseness begets violence. Old men are mocked and tortured, women outraged without mercy, and innocent little children are made to suffer without pity. Men have to pay for their hate and their defiance, even though honest and justifiable, with military retribution, merely because one of them has been impudent. He has stirred up and set ablaze passionate instincts that no one can quench.

I knew what might happen—I had been through the whole affair in Belgium. I knew from experience all that they told me, and a great deal more.... But I can assure you now, and I shall dare to say it on the day I have to stand before my Eternal Judge, I have never of my own impulse harmed any civilian; I[121] have no murder or other deed of shame on my conscience. The guilt of whatever I have had a share in doing is entirely on the heads of those who could demand it of me. They could demand of me that I should do my duty and whip me into doing it, or shoot me if I refused. I had long since sworn loyalty to the colours. That oath is sacred, like any other oath. And I was a subject of the country I served and had to serve.

That being so, may I not be allowed to say that while I was appalled at what I now saw, I was at the same time filled with a certain satisfaction. It appalled me because all horror appals, yet at the same time there was a certain satisfaction about it, because I saw in it a just retribution for all that we had done in Belgium—a mild and very lenient retribution, by the way.

Don't you think one may be allowed to say that without being stamped as cruel and merciless?

There is, amongst my Russian experiences, an incident which I shall always be glad to cherish with the warmest gratitude, because it represents to me what we mortals usually call Nemesis—that is, chastising justice, or whatever name you prefer to give it.

I call it the judgment of God because it seemed as if there was a leading and guiding hand in it—a hand that struck one who was guilty and gave atonement for two whose lives had been taken.

The rearguard to which I belonged—I think we were only a couple of thousand men—had been billeted for a day in a fairly large village not far from the Russian frontier. It was one of the first places to be laid waste. There were not many farms or houses left that were not in ruins. The cattle had[122] been taken and the corn trodden down. Many homes were quite deserted, and no one knew where the inmates were. Besides, who could know at such a time, when each one had enough to do to save himself and those belonging to him. Perhaps they were dead; perhaps terror had driven them to madness; perhaps they had dragged themselves along, weary to death, in the train of the fleeing crowds and had fallen by the wayside in a ditch or at the edge of a forest, left behind by the others who continued their insensate flight and took heed of naught but themselves and their own affairs.

Perhaps they lay by the roadside gazing towards the home that was now a ruin, at the fires blazing over the flat country, and up to the heavens where it seemed to them that everything was forgotten—mercy, goodness, justice.

Perhaps they murmured a prayer, the last, the very last, and then lay down and waited for what was to come—for silent, reconciling death, that would bring them peace and alleviation for all that they had not been able to endure in a world that seemed to them to have been quite forsaken by God.

I know that old men were found with their hands folded on their breasts and the reconciling peace of death on their wasted, rigid faces.

I know that young women were found with their infants pressed close to their bare breasts, as if trying to give them their last warmth, until they had both gone into the land of everlasting peace, slain by cold and hunger and terror.


In one of the poorest of the small houses in the[123] village lived a young woman. She had been beautiful, as women in villages often are, a radiant figure of health and strength, with the perfume and sweetness of the fields and their sunshine on her lips and in her eyes. She seemed to be about half-way through her twenties. But now her face was drawn and pale, and she dragged herself wearily about as if she were ill.

I remember her home distinctly. It had been a little six-windowed thatched house near the end of the village. Two of the windows belonged to a room with an alcove and the kitchen. The other part of the house had been allotted to the cow, the pigs, and the hens.

It was now almost in ruins. The roof was gone, the woodwork charred, and the walls had tumbled down in a crumbling heap where the animals had been. Only the little room with the alcove and the kitchen were intact, but the window-panes were smashed, the door battered in, and rags had been stuck in here and there as a slight protection against wind and weather.

Behind the house there was a small, down-trodden garden, hedged about with a dyke of willows and elders.

On the day when the Russians entered the village they ravaged it with fire and sword in their savage exultation. It was said that many of them were drunk. However that may have been, they forced their way into farmsteads and houses, took what there was of cattle and fodder, smashed everything to bits here and set on fire there, and did not deal gently with the women in the houses.

The little house at the end of the village was also visited by a soldier. He stormed and raged and shouted and spared nothing of the little that could be[124] spared. Finally he threw himself upon the young wife and tried to take her by force.

Then the husband rushed upon him to save his wife's honour. He did not succeed, and it cost him his life. He fell within the room, killed by the blow of a sword on his head.

The soldier's savagery increased, and at last it completely mastered him. He kicked the young woman till she was nearly beside herself with terror, and stabbed her little boy, who was lying in the bed, with a bayonet thrust.

Then only, and not till then, was he satisfied with his achievements.

The poor woman buried her husband and child the next day in a corner of the garden and covered the little mound with flowers.

There was no one who could have helped her to give them Christian burial. It then became clear to everyone that she had lost her reason. She went about muttering continually, with a remote and strange look in her tearworn eyes, that sometimes looked as if they were blind. She would often sit for hours on the garden dyke beside the grave of her husband and child.

It was extremely sad and pathetic, and heart-rending to see her sitting there, sometimes till late at night, as if she were waiting for the two to come back.

Sometimes she would lie down on the grave, pressing one cheek against the ground, and she would lie a long time like that—sometimes until she fell asleep. If anyone asked her why she lay there she stared vacantly with a pair of bewildered, tear-bright eyes and answered through her sobs that she could hear her little boy crying and calling to her.



Every time a convoy of prisoners passed through the village she was seized with restlessness. She was eager and quick in her movements and she stood staring intently at those who passed by.

It seemed as if she were looking for one particular face amongst the many hundreds, but when they had passed by she collapsed again and dragged herself back to the house, or out to the dyke and the mound in the corner of the garden.

Towards evening, on the day that we had entered the village, I was standing outside her house with one of my comrades. She was going about that evening moaning as she had never moaned before. Her hair was hanging in matted strands about her face, and her clothes were nothing but torn rags. It seemed as if she had torn them in her horror.

All the time she went on murmuring, between her moans: "My lovely little boy—my lovely little boy!..."

Now and then she clenched one hand in the other or struck them both against her forehead.

While we were standing by looking at her my lieutenant came up. He tried to soothe her and patted her shoulder, but every time he touched her she shuddered and seemed to shrink in sudden terror.

"My poor little boy!" she moaned. "They killed him. He was only six years old and was lying in his bed. 'Pray to God,' I cried to him; 'pray to God.' I was lying on the floor by his bed and saw him fold his hands in prayer, while he gazed at me in terror.

"But he who was standing over him did not spare him. He stabbed him in the breast with his bayonet,[126] and he kicked me along the floor. My husband was lying murdered on the doorstep; his face was red with blood; his forehead was cut open."

Her words came in rapid, violent gasps, while she pressed her hands against her eyes as if to shut out all the horror she saw before her.

"But there is justice in the world," she screamed. "There is justice. I shall find him; I shall find him; I shall find him!..."

Then she grew a little calmer, and the lieutenant and I stood whispering to each other about what we had just seen and about what we had heard about her.


Some time after a convoy of prisoners passed by. There were about two hundred men.

The instant the young woman saw the prisoners she rushed out on the road. Meanwhile my captain had come up, too. He stood by her side and closely watched her movements. She looked like an animal ready to spring. Every muscle was tense, every nerve tightened, and meanwhile her eyes scrutinized the prisoners as they passed by.

There was a strange, penetrating force in her eyes. They burned like live coals. They flashed like rapiers.

Suddenly she rushed out and almost threw herself upon one of the prisoners in the convoy. It stopped, and as she clenched her hands threateningly in the air she screamed in mingled exultation and agony: "It's he! It's he! I knew I should find him!"


At first the captive soldier stared at her in surprise. Suddenly a wave of deep red suffused his face, and then he turned ashy grey and bent his head. It looked as if he were slowly sinking on his knees.

The young woman went on crying: "It's he! It's he! I knew I should find him!"

At last she laughed wildly, a laugh that was more like a mad shriek, and then collapsed on the roadside while the froth oozed through her tightly-closed lips.


My friend ceased speaking for a moment, and I felt a prickling and tingling all over me. It was emotion and uneasiness both in one.

I looked at him. His eyes had suddenly become bright and clear, and there was a smile about his narrow lips of mingled sadness and joy.

I will not tell you anything more about it. I will not go further into what happened. I will only add that half an hour later that man was no longer among the living.

We shot him.

Was it honourable and just? Is it never permissible to shoot a prisoner? Perhaps—perhaps not. I don't wish to dispute about it with anybody. In this case that question does not interest me in the least. I don't care whether it was lawful or not.

I will only honestly and openly declare that to me this little incident stands out, amongst all the appalling things I saw, as something infinitely beautiful and exalted.

I felt that at that moment I had seen cold, stern Justice face to face.



The day I went home was terribly long. It seemed to me as if my journey would never come to an end....

I was so deeply stirred that I could have wept. My lips quivered and my breast was as empty as if all the air had been pumped out of my lungs.

As the train glided into the small station I pulled down the window and looked out.

It was all so joyously familiar. The name with the foreign, snarling sound. The station-master, erect and stiff, like the old non-commissioned officer with a big German beard that he was. The flowers on the window-sills of the station-house. The faces of the station-master's wife and children against the window-panes. The smell of asphalte from the sun-baked platform.

And over there—why, that was my father, my dear, dear old father! He seemed to me to have aged a good deal. His broad back, which before had been so straight and so proudly erect, was bent and tired; and his face looked worn as if after a long illness.

His glance went down the train from carriage to carriage. I waved my hand to him and called out:


He turned at the sound and stared at me a moment.

At first a startled look seemed to pass over his face. A sudden wonder, as when you see something you have not expected, and then it seemed to me that he tottered backwards a step or two when he understood who it was that had called. He bent his head and pressed his hand to his eyes.

I think he was weeping.


Then I jumped out of the carriage, and the next instant I was beside him.


He threw his arms round my neck and kissed me fervently on both cheeks as he whispered in a trembling voice:

"Oh, thank God we've got you back again! Welcome home, my dear boy—welcome—welcome! Thanks be to God from your mother and me and all of us! O my God, my God!—it has been a hard time!"

He shook me as you shake a friend in exuberant joy. And then he took my arm. "Why, I could not recognize you at first," he said with a little smile. "You have changed—somewhat.... But on the whole you are looking quite well."

"Yes, am I not?" I said. "Quite well—I think so myself."

I smiled.

I remembered that that was what they always said at the hospital....

Then we drove along the road to my home, and in thirsty eagerness my mind drank in all the old, familiar and beautiful luxuriance: the white road with the perfume of the poplars; the hedges with the wild roses; the white-washed, thatched farmsteads; the bright, summer gleam of the blue fjord.

It was all just the same as when I left home nearly two years ago—so it seemed to me, at any rate. I could not see any change.

My father had sat silent awhile and had now and then stolen a glance at me, and I understood why. He had to feel at home with my face first before he could[130] feel quite at home with myself. He was never at any time one to speak much, by the way.

We drove past one of the big farms. The house stood close up to the road, and looked so peaceful, so bathed in sunshine; and the blossoms from the fruit trees sprinkled their pure white snow over the bright lawns.

"The farmer in there fell last September," said my father; "and his two sons are also gone. There are no more men left now in that family....

"The husband is gone over there, and yonder the son. Both sons from that place are gone. And over there they have lost a son-in-law—you know, the one who had just got married. At the farm yonder the husband came home a cripple last Christmas; and the son in that one is blind."

His hushed and mournful words spoke of nothing but death and grief. There was scarcely a farm or a house the door of which was not marked with the cross of death, or in which mourning or disablement had not a home....


My fiancée was standing in the middle of the yard. Her face had not the same bright gentleness as before. About her features and on her lips there were the same sad and mournful lines that I had seen on the faces of the women in the hospital. She, too, was stamped with the daily silent longing and uncertainty, the nightly dread and heart-ache.

She seemed to me to look old. And she was not yet twenty-two.

She threw her arms round my neck, almost before I had reached the ground. She said nothing. She[131] only cried, clinging closely to me and hiding her face on my shoulder.

"Well, you can recognise him, it seems," said my father. "It was all I could do—just at first...."

She looked at me, and then turned to my father as she said:

"I knew that he would look like that—that was how I always saw him. In my thoughts by day and my dreams at night."

Then we went into the sitting-room.


My mother was standing by the table. She was pale and there was a frightened and despairing look in her eyes.

She gazed at me for a moment as if in terror. Then she sank down upon a chair and hid her face in her hands.

"Is that my boy—is that my boy?..."

It sounded like a heart-broken wailing. I saw that she was sobbing. I perceived that my face had frightened her; the empty sleeve too.

I went over and knelt down beside her, putting my arm round her waist and my head in her lap.

I had always done that as a boy when she was grieved about anything.

Then I felt her hand gently, stroking my head. How soft that hand was! What a blissfulness there was in that quiet, gentle stroking!

Is there anybody who knows how to caress like a mother? Is there anything in the world that holds such rapturous joy?...

After a little while she took my chin in her hands[132] and raised my head. Our eyes met. Hers were soft and shining—a fathomless deep of love to gaze into.

Her face was grey and there was a quivering about her firmly-closed lips. But I could see that she was happy—silently, speechlessly happy.

I felt her lips on my forehead. It was like a great solemnity to me. And then she said in a soft whisper:

"My own big boy—my own big boy—thank God for ever that I have you back again!"

A sad little smile passed over her face, and, as if she felt a desire to say something showing a little of her warm-hearted and charming humour, she added between smiles and tears:

"But you are not such a handsome boy as when you went away."

Then she broke down and bent her face over mine.

That was my home-coming. I had looked forward to it and it had given me all the happiness I could wish for.

(The Danish soldier boy tells the tragic story of the "folk back home;" how mothers, and wives and children are "waiting" for their loved ones. His whole story is one of the most pathetic and loving tales of the broken hearts of the war.)


[6] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters in the original sources.



An Oxford Man With the Motorcyclists

Told by Capt. W. H. L. Watson

This young Oxford student at the outbreak of the War was in London to begin his work in the British Museum. "At 6:45 P.M., on Saturday, July 25th, 1914, Alec and I determined to take part in the Austro-Serbian War. I remember the exact minute," he says. They were certain Armageddon was coming. He went straight to Scotland Yard and joined the Despatch Riders with several of his fellow students. He then began his daring adventures carrying despatches for the British Army in Northern France. He rode through the battle of Mons and in the thrilling pursuit that lead to the Aisne. His experiences teem with exciting incidents of those never-to-be-forgotten days. The thrill of the charge, the depression of retreat, the elation of outwitting a clever enemy and all the little incidents of heroism, self-sacrifice and comradeship that have become commonplaces in the daily lives of the British Tommies, are most interestingly described in this Oxford man's account of "Adventures of a Despatch Rider" by permission of his publishers, Dodd, Mead and Company.


It had been a melancholy day, full of rain and doubting news. Those of us who were not "out" were strolling up and down the platform arranging the order of cakes from home and trying to gather from the sound of the gunning and intermittent visits to the Signal Office what was happening.


Some one had been told that the old 15th was being hard pressed. Each of us regretted loudly that we had not been attached to it, though our hearts spoke differently. Despatch riders have muddled thoughts. There is a longing for the excitement of danger and a very earnest desire to keep away from it.

The C.O. walked on to the platform hurriedly, and in a minute or two I was off. It was lucky that the road was covered with unholy grease, that the light was bad and there was transport on the road—for it is not good for a despatch rider to think too much of what is before him. My instructions were to report to the general and make myself useful. I was also cheerfully informed that the H.Q. of the 15th were under a robust shell-fire. Little parties of sad-looking wounded that I passed, the noise of the guns, and the evil dusk heartened me.

I rode into Festubert, which was full of noise, and, very hastily dismounting, put my motorcycle under the cover of an arch and reported to the general. He was sitting at a table in the stuffy room of a particularly dirty tavern. At the far end a fat and frightened woman was crooning to her child. Beside her sat a wrinkled, leathery old man with bandaged head. He had wandered into the street, and he had been cut about by shrapnel. The few wits he had ever possessed were gone, and he gave every few seconds little croaks of hate. Three telephone operators were working with strained faces at their highest speed. The windows had been smashed by shrapnel, and bits of glass and things crunched under foot. The room was full of noises—the crackle of the telephones, the crooning of the woman, the croak of the wounded old man, the clear and incisive tones of the general and his brigade-major, the rattle of not too distant rifles, the[135] booming of guns and occasionally the terrific, overwhelming crash of a shell bursting in the village.

I was given a glass of wine. Cadell, the Brigade Signal Officer, and the Veterinary Officer, came up to me and talked cheerfully in whispered tones about our friends.

There was the sharp cry of shrapnel in the street and the sudden rattle against the whole house. The woman and child fled somewhere through a door, followed feebly by the old man. The brigade-major persuaded the general to work in some less unhealthy place. The telephone operators moved. A moment's delay as the general endeavored to persuade the brigade-major to go first, and we found ourselves under a stalwart arch that led into the courtyard of the tavern. We lit pipes and cigarettes. The crashes of bursting shells grew more frequent, and the general remarked in a dry and injured tone—

"Their usual little evening shoot before putting up the shutters, I suppose."


But first the Germans "searched" the village. Now to search a village means to start at one end of the village and place shells at discreet intervals until the other end of the village is reached. It is an unpleasant process for those in the middle of the village, even though they be standing, as we were, in comparatively good shelter.

We heard the Germans start at the other end of the village street. The crashes came nearer and nearer, until a shell burst with a scream and a thunderous roar just on our right. We puffed away at our cigarettes for a second, and a certain despatch rider wished he were anywhere but in the cursed village of Festubert by Béthune. There was another scream and overwhelming relief. The[136] next shell burst three houses away on our left. I knocked my pipe out and filled another.

The Germans finished their little evening shoot. We marched back very slowly in the darkness to 1910 Farm.

This farm was neither savoury nor safe. It was built round a courtyard which consisted of a gigantic hole crammed with manure in all stages of unpleasant putrefaction. One side is a barn; two sides consist of stables, and the third is the house inhabited not only by us but by an incredibly filthy and stinking old woman who was continually troubling the general because some months ago a French cuirassier took one of her chickens. The day after we arrived at this farm I had few despatches to take, so I wrote to Robert. Here is some of the letter and bits of other letters I wrote during the following days. They will give you an idea of our state of mind:

If you want something of the dramatic—I am writing in a farm under shrapnel fire, smoking a pipe that was broken by a shell. For true effect I suppose I should not tell you that the shrapnel is bursting about fifty yards the other side of the house, that I am in a room lying on the floor, and consequently that, so long as they go on firing shrapnel, I am perfectly safe.

It's the dismallest of places. Two miles farther back the heavies are banging away over our heads. There are a couple of batteries near the farm. Two miles along the road the four battalions of our brigade are holding on for dear life in their trenches.

The country is open plough, with little clumps of trees, sparse hedges, and isolated cottages giving a precarious cover. It's all very damp and miserable, for it was raining hard last night and the day before.

I am in a little bare room with the floor covered with straw. Two telegraph operators are making that infernal jerky clicking sound I have begun so to hate.[137] Half a dozen men of the signal staff are lying about the floor looking at week-old papers. In the next room I can hear the general, seated at a table and intent on his map, talking to an officer that has just come from the firing line. Outside the window a gun is making a fiendish row, shaking the whole house. Occasionaly there is a bit of a rattle—that's shrapnel bullets falling on the tiles of an outhouse.

If you came out you might probably find this exhilarating. I have just had a talk with our mutual friend Cadell, the Signal Officer of this brigade, and we have decided that we are fed up with it. For one thing—after two months' experience of shell fire the sound of a shell bursting within measurable distance makes you start and shiver for a moment—reflex action of the nerves. That is annoying. We both decided we would willingly change places with you and take a turn at defending your doubtless excellently executed trenches at Liberton.

The line to the ——[8] has just gone. It's almost certain death to relay it in the daytime. Cadell and his men are discussing the chances while somebody else has started a musical-box. A man has gone out; I wonder if he will come back. The rest of the men have gone to sleep again. That gun outside the window is getting on my nerves. Well, well!

The shrapnel fire appears to have stopped for the present. No, there's a couple together. If they fire over this farm I hope they don't send me back to D.H.Q.

Do you know what I long for more than anything else? A clean, unhurried breakfast with spotless napery and shining silver and porridge and kippers. I don't think these long, lazy after-breakfast hours at Oxford were wasted. They are a memory and a hope out here. The shrapnel is getting nearer and more frequent. We are all hoping it will kill some chickens in the courtyard. The laws against looting are so strict.


What an excellent musical-box, playing quite a good imitation of Cavalleria Rusticana. I guess we shall have to move soon. Too many shells. Too dark to write any more——


After all, quite the most important things out here are a fine meal and a good bath. If you consider the vast area of the war the facts that we have lost two guns or advanced five miles are of very little importance. War, making one realize the hopeless insignificance of the individual, creates in one such an immense regard for self, that so long as one does well it matters little if four officers have been killed reconnoitering or some wounded have had to be left under an abandoned gun all night. I started with an immense interest in tactics. This has nearly all left me and I remain a more or less efficient despatch-carrying animal—a part of a machine realizing the hopeless, enormous size of the machine.

The infantry officer after two months of modern war is a curious phenomenon.[9] He is probably one of three survivors of an original twenty-eight. He is not frightened of being killed; he has forgotten to think about it. But there is a sort of reflex fright. He becomes either cautious and liable to sudden panics, or very rash indeed, or absolutely mechanical in his actions. The first state means the approach of a nervous breakdown, the second a near death. There are very few, indeed, who retain a nervous balance and a calm judgment. And all have a harsh, frightened voice. If you came suddenly out here, you would think they were all mortally afraid. But it is only giving orders for hours together under a heavy fire.


Battle noises are terrific. At the present moment a howitzer is going strong behind this, and the concussion is tremendous. The noise is like dropping a traction-engine on a huge tin tray. A shell passing away from you over your head is like the loud crackling of a newspaper close to your ear. It makes a sort of deep reverberating crackle in the air, gradually lessening, until there is a dull boom, and a mile or so away you see a thick little cloud of white smoke in the air or a pear-shaped cloud of grey-black smoke on the ground. Coming towards you a shell makes a cutting, swishing note, gradually getting higher and higher, louder and louder. There is a longer note one instant and then it ceases. Shrapnel bursting close to you has the worst sound.

It is almost funny in a village that is being shelled. Things simply disappear. You are standing in an archway a little back from the road—a shriek of shrapnel. The windows are broken and the tiles rush clattering into the street, while little bullets and bits of shell jump like red-hot devils from side to side of the street, ricochetting until their force is spent. Or a deeper bang, a crash, and a whole house tumbles down.

¾-hour later.—Curious life this. Just after I had finished the last sentence, I was called out to take a message to a battery telling them to shell a certain village. Here am I wandering out, taking orders for the complete destruction of a village and probably for the death of a couple of hundred men[10] without a thought, except that the roads are very greasy and that lunch time is near.


Again, yesterday, I put our Heavies in action, and in a quarter of an hour a fine old church, with what appeared from the distance a magnificent tower, was nothing but a grotesque heap of ruins. The Germans were loopholing it for defence.

Oh, the waste, the utter damnable waste of everything out here—men, horses, buildings, cars, everything. Those who talk about war being a salutary discipline are those who remain at home. In a modern war there is little room for picturesque gallantry or picture-book heroism. We are all either animals or machines, with little gained except our emotions dulled and brutalized and nightmare flashes of scenes that cannot be written about because they are unbelievable. I wonder what difference you will find in us when we come home——


Do you know what a night scare is? In our last H.Q. we were all dining when suddenly there was a terrific outburst of rifle fire from our lines. We went out into the road that passes the farm and stood there in the pitch darkness, wondering. The fire increased in intensity until every soldier within five miles seemed to be revelling in a lunatic succession of "mad minutes." Was it a heavy attack on our lines? Soon pom-poms joined in sharp, heavy taps—and machine guns. The lines to the battalions were at the moment working feebly, and what the operators could get through was scarcely intelligible. Ammunition limbers were hurried up, and I stood ready to dart anywhere. For twenty minutes the rifle-fire seemed to grow wilder and wilder. At last stretcher-bearers came in with a few wounded and reported that we seemed to be holding our own. Satisfactory so far. Then there were great flashes of shrapnel over our lines;[141] that comforted us, for if your troops are advancing you don't fire shrapnel over the enemy's lines. You never know how soon they may be yours. The firing soon died down until we heard nothing but little desultory bursts. Finally an orderly came—the Germans had half-heartedly charged our trenches but had been driven off with loss. We returned to the farm and found that in the few minutes we had been outside everything had been packed and half-frightened men were standing about for orders.

The explanation of it all came later and was simple enough. The French, without letting us know, had attacked the Germans on our right, and the Germans to keep us engaged had made a feint attack upon us. So we went back to dinner.

In modern war the infantryman hasn't much of a chance. Strategy nowadays consists in arranging for the mutual slaughter of infantry by the opposing guns, each general trusting that his guns will do the greater slaughter. And half gunnery is luck. The day before yesterday we had a little afternoon shoot at where we thought the German trenches might be. The Germans unaccountably retreated, and yesterday when we advanced we found the trenches crammed full of dead. By a combination of intelligent anticipation and good luck we had hit them exactly——

From these letters you will be able to gather what mood we were in and something of what the brigade despatch rider was doing. After the first day the Germans ceased shrapnelling the fields round the farm and left us nearly in peace. There I met Major Ballard, commanding the 15th Artillery Brigade, one of the finest officers of my acquaintance, and Captain Frost, the sole remaining officer of the Cheshires. He was charming to me; I was particularly grateful for the loan of a razor, for my own[142] had disappeared and there were no despatch riders handy from whom I could borrow.

Talking of the Cheshires reminds me of a story illustrating the troubles of a brigadier. The general was dining calmly one night after having arranged an attack. All orders had been sent out. Everything was complete and ready. Suddenly there was a knock at the door and in walked Captain M——, who reported his arrival with 200 reinforcements for the Cheshires, a pleasant but irritating addition. The situation was further complicated by the general's discovery that M—— was senior to the officer then in command of the Cheshires. Poor M—— was not left long in command. A fortnight later the Germans broke through and over the Cheshires, and M—— died where a commanding officer should.


From 1910 Farm I had one good ride to the battalions, through Festubert and along to the Cuinchy Bridge. For me it was interesting because it was one of the few times I had ridden just behind the trenches, which at the moment were just north of the road and were occupied by the Bedfords.

In a day or two we returned to Festubert, and Cadell gave me a shake-down on a mattress in his billet—gloriously comfortable. The room was a little draughty because the fuse of a shrapnel had gone right through the door and the fireplace opposite. Except for a peppering on the walls and some broken glass the house was not damaged; we almost laughed at the father and mother and daughter who, returning while we were there, wept because their home had been touched.

Orders came to attack. A beautiful plan was drawn up by which the battalions of the brigade were to finish[143] their victorious career in the square of La Bassée.

In connection with this attack I was sent with a message for the Devons. It was the blackest of black nights and I was riding without a light. Twice I ran into the ditch, and finally I piled up myself and my bicycle on a heap of stones lying by the side of the road. I did not damage my bicycle. That was enough. I left it and walked.

When I got to Cuinchy bridge I found that the Devon headquarters had shifted. Beyond that the sentry knew nothing. Luckily I met a Devon officer who was bringing up ammunition. We searched the surrounding cottages for men with knowledge, and at last discovered that the Devons had moved farther along the canal in the direction of La Bassée. So we set out along the towpath, past a house that was burning fiercely enough to make us conspicuous.

We felt our way about a quarter of a mile and stopped, because we were getting near the Germans. Indeed we could hear the rumble of their transport crossing the La Bassée bridge. We turned back, and a few yards nearer home some one coughed high up the bank on our right. We found the cough to be a sentry, and behind the sentry were the Devons.

The attack, as you know, was held up on the line Cuinchy-Givenchy-Violaines; we advanced our headquarters to a house just opposite the inn by which the road to Givenchy turns off. It was not very safe, but the only shell that burst anywhere near the house itself did nothing but wound a little girl in the leg.

On the previous day I had ridden to Violaines at dawn to draw a plan of the Cheshires' trenches for the general. I strolled out by the sugar factory, and had a good look at the red houses of La Bassée. Half an hour later a patrol went out to explore the sugar factory. They[144] did not return. It seems that the factory was full of machine guns. I had not been fired upon, because the Germans did not wish to give their position away sooner than was necessary.

A day or two later I had the happiness of avenging my potential death. First I took orders to a battery of 6-inch howitzers at the Rue de Marais to knock the factory to pieces, then I carried an observing officer to some haystacks by Violaines, from which he could get a good view of the factory. Finally I watched with supreme satisfaction the demolition of the factory, and with regretful joy the slaughter of the few Germans who, escaping, scuttled for shelter in some trenches just behind and on either side of the factory.


I left the 15th Brigade with regret, and the regret I felt would have been deeper if I had known what was going to happen to the brigade. I was given interesting work and made comfortable. No despatch rider could wish for more.

Not long after I had returned from the 15th Brigade, the Germans attacked and broke through. They had been heavily reinforced and our tentative offensive had been replaced by a stern and anxious defensive.

Now the Signal Office was established in the booking-office of Beuvry Station. The little narrow room was packed full of operators and vibrant with buzz and click. The Signal Clerk sat at a table in a tiny room just off the booking-office. Orderlies would rush in with messages, and the Clerk would instantly decide whether to send them by wire, by push-cyclist, or by despatch rider. Again, he dealt with all messages that came in over the wire. Copies of these messages were filed. This was[145] our tape; from them we learned the news. We were not supposed to read them, but, as we often found that they contained information which was invaluable to despatch riders, we always looked through them and each passed on what he had found to the others. The Signal Clerk might not know where a certain unit was at a given moment. We knew, because we had put together information that we had gathered in the course of our rides and information which—though the Clerk might think it unimportant—supplemented or completed or verified what we had already obtained.

So the history of this partially successful attack was known to us. Every few minutes one of us went into the Signal Office and read the messages. When the order came for us to pack up, we had already made our preparations, for Divisional Headquarters, the brain controlling the actions of seventeen thousand men, must never be left in a position of danger. And wounded were pouring into the Field Ambulances.

The enemy had made a violent attack, preluded by heavy shelling, on the left of the 15th, and what I think was a holding attack on the right. Violaines had been stormed, and the Cheshires had been driven, still grimly fighting, to beyond the Rue de Marais. The Norfolks on their right and the K.O.S.B.'s on their left had been compelled to draw back their line with heavy loss, for their flanks had been uncovered by the retreat of the Cheshires.

The Germans stopped a moment to consolidate their gains. This gave us time to throw a couple of battalions against them. After desperate fighting Rue de Marais was retaken and some sort of line established. What was left of the Cheshires gradually rallied in Festubert.

This German success, together with a later success against the 3rd Division, that resulted in our evacuation[146] of Neuve Chapelle, compelled us to withdraw and readjust our line. This second line was not so defensible as the first. Until we were relieved the Germans battered at it with gunnery all day and attacks all night. How we managed to hold it is utterly beyond my understanding. The men were dog-tired. Few of the old officers were left, and they were "dead to the world." Never did the Fighting Fifth more deserve the name. It fought dully and instinctively, like a boxer who, after receiving heavy punishment, just manages to keep himself from being knocked out until the call of time.

Yet, when they had dragged themselves wearily and blindly out of the trenches, the fighting men of the Fighting Fifth were given but a day's rest or two before the 15th and two battalions of the 13th were sent to Hooge, and the remainder to hold sectors of the line farther south. Can you wonder that we despatch riders, in comparative safety behind the line, did all we could to help the most glorious and amazing infantry that the world has ever seen?[11] And when you praise the deeds of Ypres of the First Corps, who had experienced no La Bassée, spare a word for the men of the Fighting Fifth who thought they could fight no more and yet fought.


A few days after I had returned from the 15th Brigade I was sent out to the 14th. I found them at the Estaminet de l'Epinette on the Béthune-Richebourg road. Headquarters had been compelled to shift, hastily enough, from the Estaminet de La Bombe on the La Bassée-Estaires road. The estaminet had been shelled to destruction half an hour after the brigade had moved. The Estaminet de l'Epinette was filthy and small. I slept in a stinking barn, half-full of dirty straw, and rose with the sun for the discomfort of it.


Opposite the estaminet a road goes to Festubert. At the corner there is a cluster of dishevelled houses. I sat at the door and wrote letters, and looked for what might come to pass. In the early dawn the poplars alongside the highway were grey and dull. There was mist on the road; the leaves that lay thick were black. Then as the sun rose higher the poplars began to glisten and the mist rolled away, and the leaves were red and brown.

An old woman came up the road and prayed the sentry to let her pass. He could not understand her and called to me. She told me that her family were in the house at the corner fifty yards distant. I replied that she could not go to them—that they, if they were content not to return, might come to her. But the family would not leave their chickens, and cows, and corn. So the old woman, who was tired, sank down by the wayside and wept. This sorrow was no sorrow to the sorrow of the war. I left the old woman, the sentry, and the family, and went in to a fine breakfast.

At this time there was much talk about spies. Our wires were often cut mysteriously. A sergeant had been set upon in a lane. The enemy were finding our guns with uncanny accuracy. All our movements seemed to be anticipated by the enemy. Taking for granted the extraordinary efficiency of the German Intelligence Corps, we were particularly nervous about spies when the Division was worn out, when things were not going well.



At the Estaminet de l'Epinette I heard a certain story, and hearing it set about to make a fool of myself. This is the story—I have never heard it substantiated, and give it as an illustration and not as fact.

There was once an artillery brigade billeted in a house two miles or so behind the lines. All the inhabitants of the house had fled, for the village had been heavily bombarded. Only a girl had had the courage to remain and do hostess to the English. She was so fresh and so charming, so clever in her cookery, and so modest in her demeanour that all the men of the brigade headquarters fell madly in love with her. They even quarrelled. Now this brigade was suffering much from espionage. The guns could not be moved without the Germans knowing their new position. No transport or ammunition limbers were safe from the enemy's guns. The brigade grew mightily indignant. The girl was told by her numerous sweethearts what was the matter. She was angry and sympathetic, and swore that through her the spy should be discovered. She swore the truth.

One night a certain lewd fellow of the baser sort pursued the girl with importunate pleadings. She confessed that she liked him, but not in that way. He left her and stood sullenly by the door. The girl took a pail and went down into the cellar to fetch up a little coal, telling the man with gentle mockery not to be so foolish. This angered him, and in a minute he had rushed after her into the cellar, snorting with disappointed passion. Of course he slipped on the stairs and fell with a crash. The girl screamed. The fellow, his knee bruised, tried to feel his way to the bottom of the stairs and touched a wire. Quickly running his hand along the wire he came to a telephone. The girl rushed to him, and, clasping his[149] knees, offered him anything he might wish, if only he would say nothing. I think he must have hesitated for a moment, but he did not hesitate long. The girl was shot.

Full of this suspiciously melodramatic story I caught sight of a mysterious document fastened by nails to the house opposite the inn. It was covered with coloured signs which, whatever they were, certainly did not form letters or make sense in any way. I examined the document closely. One sign looked like an aeroplane, another like a house, a third like the rough drawing of a wood. I took it to a certain officer, who agreed with me that it appeared suspicious.

We carried it to the staff-captain, who pointed out very forcibly that it had been raining lately, that colour ran, that the signs left formed portions of letters. I demanded the owner of the house upon which the document had been posted. She was frightened and almost unintelligible, but supplied the missing fragments. The document was a crude election appeal. Being interpreted it read something like this:—


Talking of spies, here is another story. It is true.

Certain wires were always being cut. At length a patrol was organised. While the operator was talking there was a little click and no further acknowledgment from the other end. The patrol started out and caught the man in the act of cutting a second wire. He said nothing.

He was brought before the Mayor. Evidence was briefly given of his guilt. He made no protest. It was stated that he had been born in the village. The Mayor turned to the man and said—

"You are a traitor. It is clear. Have you anything to say?"


The man stood white and straight. Then he bowed his head and made answer—

"Priez pour moi."

That was no defence. So they led him away.


The morning after I arrived at the 14th the Germans concentrated their fire on a large turnip-field and exhumed multitudinous turnips. No further damage was done, but the field was unhealthily near the Estaminet de l'Epinette. In the afternoon we moved our headquarters back a mile or so to a commodious and moderately clean farm with a forgettable name.

That evening two prisoners were brought in. They owned to eighteen, but did not look more than sixteen. The guard treated them with kindly contempt. We all sat round a makeshift table in the loft where we slept and told each other stories of fighting and love and fear, while the boys, squatting a little distance away, listened and looked at us in wonder. I came in from a ride about one in the morning and found those of the guard who were off duty and the two German boys sleeping side by side. Literally it was criminal negligence—some one ought to have been awake—but, when I saw one of the boys was clasping tightly a packet of woodbines, I called it something else and went to sleep.

A day or two later I was relieved. On the following afternoon I was sent to Estaires to bring back some details about the Lahore Division which had just arrived on the line. I had, of course, seen Spahis and Turcos and Senegalese, but when riding through Lestrem I saw these Indian troops of ours the obvious thoughts tumbled over one another.


We despatch riders when first we met the Indians wondered how they would fight, how they would stand shell-fire and the climate—but chiefly we were filled with a sort of mental helplessness, riding among people when we could not even vaguely guess at what they were thinking. We could get no deeper than their appearance, dignified and clean and well-behaved.

In a few days I was back again at the 14th with Huggie. At dusk the General went out in his car to a certain village about three miles distant. Huggie went with him. An hour or so, and I was sent after him with a despatch. The road was almost unrideable with the worst sort of grease, the night was pitch-black and I was allowed no light. I slithered along at about six miles an hour, sticking out my legs for a permanent scaffolding. Many troops were lying down at the side of the road. An officer in a strained voice just warned me in time for me to avoid a deep shell-hole by inches. I delivered my despatch to the General. Outside the house I found two or three officers I knew. Two of them were young captains in command of battalions. Then I learned how hard put to it the Division was, and what the result is of nervous strain.

They had been fighting and fighting and fighting until their nerves were nothing but a jangling torture. And a counter-attack on Neuve Chapelle was being organised. Huggie told me afterwards that when the car had come along the road, all the men had jumped like startled animals and a few had turned to take cover. Why, if a child had met one of these men she would have taken him by the hand instinctively and told him not to be frightened, and defended him against anything that came.

First we talked about the counter-attack, and which battalion would lead; then with a little manipulation we[152] began to discuss musical comedy and the beauty of certain ladies. Again the talk would wander back to which battalion would lead.

I returned perilously with a despatch and left Huggie, to spend a disturbed night and experience those curious sensations which are caused by a shell bursting just across the road from the house.

The proposed attack was given up. If it had been carried out, those men would have fought as finely as they could. I do not know whether my admiration for the infantry or my hatred of war is the greater. I can express neither.


On the following day the Brigadier moved to a farm farther north. It was the job of Huggie and myself to keep up communication between this farm and the brigade headquarters at the farm with the forgettable name. To ride four miles or so along country lanes from one farm to another does not sound particularly strenuous. It was. In the first place, the neighbourhood of the advanced farm was not healthy. The front gate was marked down by a sniper who fired not infrequently but a little high. Between the back gate and the main road was impassable mud. Again, the farm was only three-quarters of a mile behind our trenches, and "overs" went zipping through the farm buildings at all sorts of unexpected angles. There were German aeroplanes about, so we covered our stationary motor-cycles with straw.

Starting from brigade headquarters the despatch rider in half a mile was forced to pass the transport of a Field Ambulance. The men seemed to take a perverted delight in wandering aimlessly across the road, and in leaving[153] anything on the road which could conceivably obstruct or annoy a motor-cyclist. Then came two and a half miles of winding country lanes. They were covered with grease. Every corner was blind. A particularly sharp turn to the right and the despatch rider rode a couple of hundred yards in front of a battery in action that the Germans were trying to find. A "hairpin" corner round a house followed. This he would take with remarkable skill and alacrity, because at this corner he was always sniped. The German's rifle was trained a trifle high. Coming into the final straight the despatch rider rode for all he was worth. It was unpleasant to find new shell-holes just off the road each time you passed, or, as you came into the straight, to hear the shriek of shrapnel between you and the farm.

Huggie once arrived at the house of the "hairpin" bend simultaneously with a shell. The shell hit the house, the house did not hit Huggie, and the sniper forgot to snipe. So every one was pleased.

On my last journey I passed a bunch of wounded Sikhs. They were clinging to all their kit. One man was wounded in both his feet. He was being carried by two of his fellows. In his hands he clutched his boots.

The men did not know where to go or what to do. I could not make them understand, but I tried by gestures to show them where the ambulance was.

I saw two others—they were slightly wounded—talking fiercely together. At last they grasped their rifles firmly, and swinging round, limped back towards the line.

Huggie did most of the work that day, because during the greater part of the afternoon I was kept back at brigade headquarters.

In the evening I went out in the car to fetch the general. The car, which was old but stout, had been left[154] behind by the Germans. The driver of it was a reservist who had been taken from the battalion. Day and night he tended and coaxed that car. He tied it together when it fell to pieces. At all times and all places he drove that car, for he had no wish at all to return to the trenches.

On the following day Huggie and I were relieved. When we returned to our good old musty quarters at Beuvry men talked of a move. There were rumours of hard fighting in Ypres. Soon the Lahore Division came down towards our line and began to take over from us. The 14th Brigade was left to strengthen them. The 15th and 13th began to move north.

Early on the morning of October 29 we started, riding first along the canal by Béthune. As for Festubert, Givenchy, Violaines, Rue de Marais, Quinque Rue, and La Bassée, we never want to see them again.

(This despatch rider's stories are dedicated "To the Perfect Mother—My Own." He describes "Enlisting"; "The Journey to the Front"; "The Battle of Mons"; "The Great Retreat"; "Over the Marne to the Aisne"—and many other adventures.)


[7] All numerals relate to stories told herein—not to chapters in the book.

[8] Dorsets, I think.

[9] I do not say this paragraph is true. It is what I thought on 15th October, 1914. The weather was depressing.

[10] Optimist!

[11] After nine months at the Front—six and a half months as a despatch rider and two and a half months as a cyclist officer—I have decided that the English language has no superlative sufficient to describe our infantry.



A Record of the Belton Bulldogs

Told by Edmund Yerbury Priestman, Scoutmaster of the 16th (Westbourne) Sheffield Boy Scouts

These anecdotes and experiences are related in the letters written home by a scoutmaster serving as a subaltern. The author, at the outbreak of the War, officered the Boy Scouts who were guarding places of danger from spies in England. He took a commission in the 6th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment, and shipped for Suvla Bay in the Dardanelles Campaign. Here this young English officer of twenty-five years of age fell in action on November 19th, 1915. His letters have been collected into a book under title "With a B.-P. Scout in Gallipoli." They form one of the few really humorous books the War has produced, with an irrepressible outburst of a youth who always saw the cheerful side of life. Some of these letters are here reproduced with courtesy of his American publishers, E. P. Dutton and Company, of New York. All rights reserved.


Somewhere in Turkey.

I am sitting on a rolled-up valise, a sort of hold-all in a dugout on a hillside, while a weary "fatigue" party is digging more dugouts. Writing isn't easy, as I have to balance the paper on my knee, so pardon! This little hole in Europe (i.e. this dugout) appears to belong to a Second-Lieutenant Huggins—at least, that's the name of the valise—and taken all round it is quite a good hole to live in. Our life has become analogous to the life of a rabbit, and we vie with each other as to the security of our respective burrows against the little attentions paid us daily by the Turkish gunners. Mr. Huggins, so far as security goes, has done well, as his lair is dug some five feet deep and strongly built up with stone parapets. Lying at the bottom he (or the present occupier, E. Y. P.) would be fairly safe against either shrapnel or high explosive. But when he lays him down to sleep I guess Huggins will be one of the sickest soldiers on the Peninsula, for in the left-hand a party of some 1,000,000 ants are at this moment digging themselves in! Itchi koo! as the song says.


We are really reserve, resting at present, but it seems that we have to do all the dirty work for the fellows who have taken over our nice comfortable trenches, and we shan't be sorry to get back into them on Sunday next.

The great advantage of our present position is that the hill we are on runs down to the sea, and every day we can get a dip, so long as we stay here. After a week or two in the trenches we certainly need plenty of bathing, and I caught two of the minor horrors of war in my shirt yesterday. One of them (the hen-bird) won the prize offered by one of the subalterns for the biggest caught. Private Jones's boast that he had caught one "as big as a mule" failed to materialise when the time for weighing-in came. So mine (no larger than an average mouse) won easily.

At this point I will break off for a lunch of bully and biscuits.

To resume, having finished my lunch, using Mr. Huggins' valise as a table.


Away to the east, along this ridge of hills, somebody is firing machine-guns and artillery, but as I can only see the smoke of the shrapnel away up in the sky above the hilltops, I don't know whether they are our guns or Johnny Turk's. If they are his we shall soon have some over us here, as he has picked up the Hun's habit of having at least one daily "hate." Another shell has burst—nearer us this time. Yes, Johnny is out for blood, so I have moved the Huggins bundle and settled myself on the hard, cold floor of the Palace Huggins, where the shrapnel bullets will have more difficulty in finding me.

The system the gunners go on is to send an officer up a hill to a place where he can see the countryside. He observes through the 'scope where the places are that the enemy troops mostly use, paths, wells, dugouts, etc., and marks them on his map, probably numbering them points 1, 2, 3, and so on. He also has an accurate rangefinder and a telephone connecting him with the battery of guns. If he sees a party of men at a certain spot, he wires down: "Give 'em socks at point 17," or words to that effect, and we get a few shells along, while the observing officer scores the hits. Other days I rather suspect he puts all the numbers into a hat and shakes them up. Then he picks one out, and with luck the shell falls two miles away from anyone and wipes out an ant-hill with great slaughter.

He's a peculiar gentleman, old man Turk. One night when I was going my rounds in the trenches I noticed a general rush at a point where generally some of our liveliest boys want suppressing, so I listened, as everyone else seemed to be doing, and away from behind the Turks' trenches came a sound of a band, playing some real racy oriental music. We had quite a promenade concert. Coming from over the rugged top of a rocky hill and through the quiet starlit night it was quite weird,[158] in a way, but we all enjoyed it. In France the Germans often have a bit of a concert before any big attack, but although we thought Johnny Turk might be going to do the same, no attack came off that night. We did have a mild attack once—see enclosed account[13]—but the enemy never got within very exciting distance of the section of the trench I was responsible for. Anyway, you can show this printed account round, and tell everyone that your son helped General Maxwell to hold the Turks back. What! What!


Talking about generals: we all came out of the trenches feeling very sorry for ourselves when we were relieved a week ago. Certainly we were dog-tired and inexpressibly dirty. The day following our Divisional General elected to inspect us. Thought we to ourselves: "This means that he is going to see what is left of us, just to see if we are even good enough to go as a garrison to, say, Malta." Someone even whispered "India." Certainly no one would for one moment have suggested the possibility of our being of the least use as a fighting unit ever again. As a matter of fact, in numbers, health, and[159] morale we were pretty weak. The General looked on the brighter side, however, and our dreams of Bombay were shattered pretty quickly. The General made a speech. He said that probably not since the days of the Peninsular War had troops such a hard time as we had during the past month. (We sighed solemn approval.) We had come through well. He told us that our hardships had apparently left us little the worse. (At this point a private fell forward in a faint—for which piece of acting I firmly believe he had been subsidised by his fellow-men! The body having been ostentatiously removed, the General continued.) There were other hard times ahead for us, he said (exit dream of India), but for several days yet we should continue to rest. ("Fall in, those fifty men with picks and shovels!" came the voice of a sergeant-major some distance away.) "And here y'are," concluded the General, looking round at the circle of faces ingrained with brown dust and looking swarthy in consequence, "here y'are all looking as fit as can be!" He ended by saying that when he had got our reinforcements out from home he felt sure we should be as good a fighting force as ever—which I suppose we shall be. All the same, we shall have earned a rest soon, I hope.

The ridge of hills we're on is very much the shape (and nearly the height) of the Maiden Moor and Catbells ridge. First comes a place like Eel Crags, all covered with dugouts on the Newlands side and occupied by hundreds of troops. Then you come on, still on the same side, by a footpath to about the middle of Maiden Moor. Here you will find us, only instead of our homes looking down into the valley, they look down on to the sea-shore and away out to sea, where we can see one or two rocky islands and far away the coast of the mainland of Turkey, a bit of Bulgaria, and a bit of Greece.[160] Over on the other side we can see right away down the Peninsula and pick out all the positions you read about in the papers. Following on the ridge, you come to a dip before reaching the hill corresponding to Catbells, and here is our trench, running over the saddle of the hill. Beyond, on the slope, is the Turkish trench, and somewhere about where that old "skeleton" is that we used to see from the lake as we rowed to Keswick, the Turks have their guns. They also have one beyond the end of the ridge, about where Crossthwaite is. Well, that gives you the general situation of our part of the line, without saying too much.

The trouble at present is that they can't locate the exact position of the Turks' big gun, which is very cleverly hidden. The Navy, the artillery, and the airmen have all been hunting for weeks, but so far none of them have put it out of action, and "Striking Jimmy," as we call him, goes on calmly dropping nine-inch high explosives about the hills. Fortunately he doesn't often hit anything really important (touch wood!—he's just sent a shell in our direction).

I met Owen quite unexpectedly on the beach the other day. His section is stationed some miles from here, so I sha'n't be likely to run across him again. It was very lucky seeing him at all. He was very busy making pumping arrangements for the water supply, and I (as usual, in charge of a fatigue-party) was asleep under one of his water-tanks, when he began to curse me for being on prohibited premises. It was quite funny! Then he recognized me, and we had a whole afternoon together. He's had some pretty rough times and narrow escapes, just as I have, but we've both got so far and quite hope to finish all safe now.

Don't ask me how things are going here. You, who see the newspapers, know far more than we do.



When you have lived for ten days in a region where they wander whistling overhead, where they somersault eccentrically in circles, where they drop bits of themselves with the buzz of a drunken bumblebee, where, in fact, they do everything but burst, you come to know the projectile family fairly intimately. In fact, some poetically constructed Bulldog has christened the various members of the family.

First, there is Whistling Willie, a bustling soul, who does his journey, between the boom of leaving his front door and the moment when he sneezes up a cloud of dust in front of our parapet, in about four and a half seconds. You can almost hear him saying to the Turkish gunners: "Now then, you chaps, come on, buck up, look alive! That's it, off we go, booooom! zizzzzz! Here we are—tishoo!" Yes, he's a brisk, pushing lad, is Willie, but rather superficial really. There's more swagger and dust about him than the result justifies—although it's only fair to say that he once threw up a stone large enough to upset the Adjutant's tea. Probably the war will end (if ever) with that deed of questionable military significance to his credit, and no more.

Willie's cousin, Whispering Walter, also of Ottoman origin, is a fellow of infinitely more worth and solidity. Though he takes longer over his trip from the muzzle to the mark he makes up for lost time when he gets there. It is rather as though he gave his gunners instructions to push him off slowly so as to give him time to pick a good place to drop. "Very good," they say to him, "off yer goes!" Booooom! A pause. Then Walter comes into our area—"Whizzlizzlizzle," he whispers to himself confidentially, as much as to say, "Now where, down below,[162] is a good fat Brigadier, or a mountain battery, or a pile of stores (dash it, I must hurry up and spot something; I'm nearly exhausted)—oh, a girls' school, a cabbage-patch—anything!" And down he comes—whang!—as often as not half a mile from anything he could damage. There is a lesson on the futility of procrastination in Walter's methods.

Walter has two brothers, Clanking Claud and Stumer Steve. Claud always sets out, like his elder brother, in a meditative mood. Having traveled a sufficient distance and found nothing worthy of his mettle, he decides, apparently, to show his independence by never coming down from his airy height to earth at all. So "Kerlank!" he says, and disappears ostentatiously in a cloud of white smoke some fifty yards above us. True, he showers a lot of little leaden marbles, but that merely shows his spiteful nature.

And then there is poor Stumer Steve. "If ye have tears, prepare to shed them now," for Stephen is both blind and dumb. Though he sets out full as his brothers of resolution, though, like Walter, he whispers promises of daring deeds, like Claud, passes with discriminating deliberation over the ground below, yet his final descent is a hollow and meaningless affair, though pathetic withal, "Plunk!" In a word the requiem of Steve. A young and apparently vigorous life robbed of its final destiny, a career despoiled of its rightful goal. Often we find he is filled with—sawdust! Sawdust! Like any sixpence-halfpenny doll! Sometimes he is empty altogether. Poor Steven, the best that can be said of him, even when in desperation he lands upon a stone and goes hurtling away in spiral somersaults, is—"stumer," and even that's an American word!

Quite another kettle of fish is Greasy Gregory. There is a solemnity, a grandeur, and a determination about[163] Greg that inspires respect. Also he is just about twice the size of his fellows and takes quite twice as long in making his way to earth. The mysterious and rather awe-inspiring feature of his performance is that you never hear him start! Possibly you are sitting over a slice of bacon or a savoury, bully stew when he makes his advent known. Just a greasy flutter overhead and then "Crash!" Gregory has come.

Everything gets up and changes places in a cloud of yellow dust and smoke. The atmosphere being thick, things that have no sort of right there get into intimate and inconvenient places (tea-pots, tunic pockets, etc.), and I have spent as much as twenty minutes in a time of famine separating Gallipoli Peninsula from raspberry-jam after one of Gregory's little jokes.

Last, and least, comes the clown of the party—Airy Archibald. His specialty is aeroplanes, and his efforts are acknowledged to be purely humorous by both sides. His methods are something like this. On some still, cloudless afternoon a distant buzzing sound is heard, heralding the approach of an aeroplane. Instantly Archibald springs into life. Whoop-pop!

Somewhere (it generally takes a good deal of finding) a tiny puff of smoke appears against the blue. Never by any chance is it in the same quarter of the sky as the aircraft. Whoop-pop! Whoop-pop! One after another they leap up to have a look. The airman never takes the smallest notice, but sails serenely on, and never yet have I seen Archibald get within a thousand yards of his object. Once, so rumor has it, he did get nearer, so near, in fact, that two of his bullets hit a wing of the machine. But the shock of success was too great, and Archie's empty shell falling to earth put two of his own gunners out of action! This story I cannot vouch for, but this I know, that after a monoplane has actually disappeared[164] over the horizon I have seen Archibald jump viciously at him four times and every time miss him by quite three miles! Well, here's to you, my comic friend. You add a humor to life, and I wish the others could follow your lead, and, taking life less seriously, give us as wide a miss.

(Four weeks later, the writer of this narrative fell in the trenches a victim of these Turkish guns.)


[12] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters in the original sources.

[13] A sudden attack was made on the right of the 11th Division and upon the extreme left of the 29th Division about 2 o'clock on the night of the 1st instant. It commenced with shell, machine gun, and rifle fire on Jephson's post and along Keretch Tepe Sirt ridge. Brigadier-General Maxwell was holding the right section of the 11th Division when a body of the enemy attempted a bomb and bayonet assault under cover of their bombardment. There was no heart, however, in the attack, and it was easily repulsed with loss to the enemy.

The Navy, as usual on such occasions, were prompt with their assistance, and the flanking torpedo-boat destroyer with her searchlight lit up the northern slopes of Keretch Tepe and effectively stopped the enemy from pressing in along the coast.



Impressions of an Officer of Light Cavalry

Told by Lieut. Marcel Dupont, of the French Chasseurs

This officer of the Light Cavalry tells a straightforward story of the charges on the battlefields of the War: "Days of misery, days of joy, days of battle—what volumes we might write if we were to follow our squadrons day by day. I have merely tried to make a written record of some of the hours I have lived through. If I should come out of the deathly struggle safe and sound, it would be a pleasure to me some day to read over these notes of battle and bivouac. I shall rejoice if I have been able to revise some phases of the tragedy in which we were the actors if my brothers-in-arms read the simple tales of a lieutenant of Chasseurs, an unschooled effort of a soldier more apt with the sword than with the pen." M. Dupont tells: "How I Went to the Front," "The First Charge," "Sister Gabriel," and "Christmas Night." Some of these stories are here told by permission of his publishers from his book, "In the Field."—J. B. Lippincott Company.


One morning in the middle of September, 1914, as we raised our heads at about six o'clock from the straw on which we had slept, I and my friend F. had a very disagreeable surprise: we heard in the darkness the gentle, monotonous noise of water falling drop by drop from the pent-house onto the road.


Arriving at Pévy the evening before, just before midnight, we had found refuge in a house belonging to a peasant. The hostess, a good old soul of eighty, had placed at our disposal a small bare room paved with tiles, in which our orderlies had prepared a sumptuous bed of trusses of straw. The night had been delightful, and we should have awaked in good spirits had it not been for the distressing fact noticed by my friend.

"It is raining," said F.

I could not but agree with him. Those who have been soldiers, and especially cavalrymen, know to the full how dispiriting is the sound of those few words: "It is raining."

"It is raining" means your clothes will be saturated; your cloak will be drenched, and weigh at least forty pounds; the water will drip from your shako along your neck and down your back; above all, your high boots will be transformed into two little pools in which your feet paddle woefully. It means broken roads, mud splashing you up to the eyes, horses slipping, reins stiffened, your saddle transformed into a hip-bath. It means that the little clean linen you have brought with you—that precious treasure—in your saddlebags, will be changed into a wet bundle on which large and indelible yellow stains have been made by the soaked leather.

But it was no use to think of all this. The orders ran: "Horses to be saddled, and squadron ready to mount, at 6.30." And they had to be carried out.

It was still dark. I went out into the yard, after pulling down my campaigning cap over my ears. Well, after all, the evil was less than I had feared. It was not raining, but drizzling. The air was mild, and there was not a breath of wind. When once our cloaks were on it would take some hours for the wet to reach our shirts. At the farther end of the yard some men were moving[167] about round a small fire. Their shadows passed to and fro in front of the ruddy light. They were making coffee—jus, as they call it—that indispensable ration in which they soak bread and make a feast without which they think a man cannot be a good soldier.

I ran to my troop through muddy alleys, skipping from side to side to avoid the puddles. Daylight appeared, pale and dismal. A faint smell rose from the sodden ground.

"Nothing new, mon Lieutenant," were the words that greeted me from the sergeant, who then made his report. I had every confidence in him; he had been some years in the service, and knew his business. Small and lean, and tightly buttoned into his tunic, in spite of all our trials he was still the typical smart light cavalry non-commissioned officer. I knew he had already gone round the stables, which he did with a candle in his hand, patting the horses' haunches and looking with a watchful eye to see whether some limb had not been hurt by a kick or entangled in its tether.

In the large yard of the abandoned and pillaged farm, where the men had been billeted they were hurrying to fasten the last buckles and take their places in the ranks. I quickly swallowed my portion of insipid lukewarm coffee, brought me by my orderly; then I went to get my orders from the Captain, who was lodged in the market-square. No word had yet been received from the Colonel, who was quartered at the farm of Vadiville, two kilometres off. Patience! We had been used to these long waits since the army had been pulled up before the formidable line of trenches which the Germans had dug north of Rheims. They were certainly most disheartening; but it could not be helped, and it was of no use to complain. I turned and went slowly up the steep footpath that led to my billet.



Pévy is a poor little village, clinging to the last slopes of a line of heights that runs parallel to the road from Rheims to Paris. Its houses are huddled together, and seem to be grouped at the foot of the ridges for protection from the north wind. The few alleys which intersect the village climb steeply up the side of the hill. We were obliged to tramp about in the sticky mud of the main road waiting for our orders.

Passing the church, it occurred to me to go and look inside. Since the war had begun we had hardly had any opportunity of going into the village churches we had passed. Some of them were closed because the parish priests had left for the army, or because the village had been abandoned to the enemy. Others had served as marks for the artillery, and now stood in the middle of the villages, ruins loftier and more pitiable than the rest.

The church of Pévy seemed to be clinging to the side of the hill, and was approached by a narrow stairway of greyish stone, climbing up between moss-grown walls. I first passed through the modest little churchyard, with its humble tombs half hidden in the grass, and read some of the simple inscriptions:

"Here lies ... Here lies ... Pray for him...."

The narrow pathway leading to the porch was almost hidden in the turf, and as I walked up it my boots brushed the drops from the grass. The damp seemed to be getting into my bones, for it was still drizzling—a fine persistent drizzle. Behind me the village was in mist; the roofs and the maze of chimney tops were hardly distinguishable.

Passing through a low, dark porch, I opened the heavy[169] door studded with iron nails, and entered the church, and at once experienced a feeling of relaxation, of comfort and repose. How touching the little sanctuary of Pévy seemed to me in its humble simplicity!

Imagine a kind of hall with bare walls, the vault supported by two rows of thick pillars. The narrow Gothic windows hardly allowed the grey light to enter. There were no horrible cheap modern stained windows, but a multitude of small white rectangular leaded panes. All this was simple and worn; but to me it seemed to breathe a noble and touching poetry. And what charmed me above all was that the pale light did not reveal walls covered with the horrible colour-wash we are accustomed to see in most of our village churches.

This church was an old one, a very old one. Its style was not very well defined, for it had no doubt been built, damaged, destroyed, rebuilt and repaired by many different generations. But those who preserved it to the present day had avoided the lamentable plastering which disfigures so many others. The walls were built with fine large stones, on which time had left its melancholy impress. There was no grotesque painting on them to mar their quiet beauty, and the dim light that filtered through at that early hour gave them a vague soft glow.

No pictures or ornaments disfigured the walls. The "Stations of the Cross" were the only adornment, and they were so simple and childish in their execution that they were no doubt the work of some rustic artist. And even this added a touching note to a harmonious whole.


But my attention was attracted by a slight noise, a kind of soft and monotonous murmur, coming from the altar. The choir was almost in darkness, but I could distinguish[170] the six stars of the lighted candles. In front of the tabernacle was standing a large white shadowy form, almost motionless and like a phantom. At the bottom of the steps another form was kneeling, bowed down towards the floor; it did not stir as I approached. I went towards the choir on tip-toe, very cautiously. I felt that I, a profane person, was committing a sacrilege by coming to disturb those two men praying there all alone in the gloom of that sad morning. A deep feeling of emotion passed through me, and I felt so insignificant in their presence and in the mysterious atmosphere of the place that I knelt down humbly, almost timidly, in the shadow of one of the great pillars near the altar.

Then I could distinguish my fellow-worshippers better. A priest was saying mass. He was young and tall, and his gestures as he officiated were low and dignified. He did not know that some one was present watching him closely; so it could not be supposed that he was speaking and acting to impress a congregation, and yet he had a way of kneeling, of stretching out his arms and of looking up to the humble gilded cross in front of him, that revealed all the ardour of fervent prayers. Occasionally he turned towards the back of the church to pronounce the ritual words. His face was serious and kindly, framed in a youthful beard—the face of an apostle, with the glow of faith in his eyes. And I was surprised to see underneath his priest's vestments the hems of a pair of red trousers, and feet shod in large muddy military boots.

The kneeling figure at the bottom of the steps now stood out more distinctly. The man was wearing on his shabby infantry coat the white armlet with the red cross. He must have been a priest, for I could distinguish some traces of a neglected tonsure among his brown hair.

The two repeated, in a low tone by turns, words of[171] prayer, comfort, repentance, or supplication, harmonious Latin phrases, which sounded to me like exquisite music. And as an accompaniment in the distance, in the direction of Saint Thierry and Berry-au-Bac, the deep voice of the guns muttered ceaselessly.

For the first time in the campaign I felt a kind of poignant melancholy. For the first time I felt small and miserable, almost a useless thing, compared with those two fine priestly figures who were praying in the solitude of this country church for those who had fallen and were falling yonder under shot and shell.

How I despised and upbraided myself at such moments! What a profound disgust I felt for the follies of my garrison life, its gross pleasures and silly excesses! I was ashamed of myself when I reflected that death brushed by me every day, and that I might disappear to-day or to-morrow, after so many ill-spent and unprofitable days.

Without any effort, and almost in spite of myself, pious words came back to my lips—those words that my dear mother used to teach me on her knee years and years ago. And I felt a quiet delight in the almost forgotten words that came back to me:

"Forgive us our trespasses.... Pray for us, poor sinners...."

It seemed to me that I should presently go away a better man and a more valiant soldier. And, as though to encourage and bless me, a faint ray of sunshine came through the window.

"Ite, missa est...." The priest turned round; and this time I thought his eyes rested upon me, and that the look was a benediction and an absolution.

But suddenly I heard in the alley close by a great noise of people running and horses stamping, and a voice crying:


"Mount horses!... Mount horses!"

I was sorry to leave the little church of Pévy; I should so much have liked to wait until those two priests came out, to speak to them, and talk about other things than war, massacres and pillage. But duty called me to my men, my horses, and to battle.

Shortly afterwards, as I passed at the head of my troop in front of the large farm where the ambulance of the division was quartered, I saw my abbé coming out of a barn, with his sleeves tucked up and his képi on the side of his head. He was carrying a large pail of milk. I recognised his clear look, and had no doubt that he recognised me too, for as our eyes met he gave me a kindly smile.

My heart was lighter as I went forward, and my soul was calmer.


For the last six days we had been quartered at Montigny-sur-Vesle, a pretty little village half-way up a hillside on the heights, 20 kilometres to the west of Rheims. There we enjoyed a little rest for the first time in the campaign. On our front the struggle was going on between the French and German trenches, and the employment of cavalry was impossible. All the regiment had to do was to supply daily two troops required to ensure the connection between the two divisions of the army corps.

What a happiness it was to be able at last to enjoy almost perfect rest! What a delight to lie down every evening in a good bed; not to get up before seven o'clock; to find our poor horses stabled at last on good litter in the barns, and to see them filling out daily and getting sleeker!


For our mess we had the good luck to find a most charming and simple welcome at the house of good Monsieur Cheveret. That kind old gentleman did everything in his power to supply us with all the comforts he could dispose of. And he did it all with such good grace and such a pleasant smile that we felt at ease and at home at once. Madame Cheveret, whom we at once called "Maman Cheveret," was an alert little old lady who trotted about all day long in quest of things to do for us. She put us up in the dining-room, and helped our cook to clean the vegetables and to superintend the joints and sweets. For Gosset, the bold Chasseur appointed to preside over our mess arrangement, was a professional in the culinary art, and excelled in making everything out of nothing; so, with the help of Maman Cheveret, he accomplished wonders, and the result of it all was that we began to be enervated by the delights of this new Capua. And how thoroughly we enjoyed it!

We shared our Eden with two other squadrons of our regiment, a section of an artillery park, and a divisional ambulance. We prayed Heaven to grant us a long stay in such a haven of repose.


Now one morning, after countless ablutions with hot water and a clean shave, I was going, with brilliantly shining boots, down the steep footpath which led to the little house of our good Monsieur Cheveret, when my attention was drawn to a small white notice posted on the door of the church. It ran:

"This Evening at Six O'clock,
Benediction of the Most Holy Sacrament.


It occurred to me at once that this happy idea had been conceived by the Chaplain of the Ambulance, for until then the church had been kept locked, as the young parish priest had been called up by the mobilisation. I made haste to tell our Captain and my comrades the good news, and we all determined to be present at the Benediction that evening.

At half-past five our ears were delighted by music such as we had not been accustomed to hear for a very long time. In the deepening twilight some invisible hand was chiming the bells of the little church. How deliciously restful they were after the loud roar of the cannon and the rattle of the machine-guns! Who would have thought that such deep, and also such solemn, notes could come from so small a steeple? It stirred the heart and brought tears to the eyes, like some of Chopin's music. Those bells seemed to speak to us, they seemed to call us to prayer and preach courage and virtue to us.

At the end of the shady walk I was passing down—whose trees formed a rustling wall on either side—appeared the little church, with its slender steeple. It stood out in clear relief, a dark blue, almost violet silhouette against the purple background made by the setting sun. Some dark human forms were moving about and collecting around the low arched doorway. Perhaps these were the good old women of the district who had come to pray in this little church which had remained closed to them for nearly two months. I fancied I could distinguish them from where I was, dignified and erect in their old-fashioned mantles.

But as soon as I got closer to them I found I was mistaken. It was not aged and pious women who were hurrying to the church door, but a group of silent artillerymen wrapped in their large blue caped cloaks. The bells shook out their solemn notes, and seemed to be[175] calling others to come too; and I should have been glad if their voices had been heard, for I was afraid the Chaplain's appeal would hardly be heeded and that the benches of the little church would be three-parts empty.

But on gently pushing the door open I found at once that my fears were baseless. The church was in fact too small to hold all the soldiers, who had come long before the appointed hour as soon as they heard the bells begin. And now that I had no fears about the church being empty I wondered how I was going to find a place myself. I stood on the doorstep, undecided, on tip-toe, looking over the heads of all those standing men to see whether there was any corner unoccupied where I could enjoy the beauty of the unexpected sight in peace.

The nave was almost dark. The expense of lighting had no doubt to be considered, for for several days past no candle or taper was to be had for money. And no doubt the kindness of a motorist of the Red Cross had been appealed to for the supply of all the candles which lit up the altar. This was indeed resplendent. The vestry had been ransacked for candlesticks, and the tabernacle was surrounded by a splendid aureole of light. All this increased the touching impression I felt on entering.

Against the brilliant background of the choir stood out the black forms of several hundreds of men standing and looking towards the altar. Absolute silence reigned over the whole congregation of soldiers. And yet no discipline was enforced; there was no superior present to impose a show of devotion. Left to themselves, they all understood what they had to do. They crowded together, waiting in silence and without any impatience for the ceremony to begin.



Suddenly a white figure came towards me through the crowded ranks of soldiers. He extended his arms in token of welcome, and I at once recognised the Chaplain in his surplice. His face was beaming with pleasure, and his eyes shone behind his spectacles. He appeared to be supremely happy.

"This way, Monsieur l'Officier, this way. I have thought of everything. You must have the seat of honour. Follow me."

I followed the holy man, who elbowed a way for me up the crowded aisle. He had reserved all the choir-stalls for the officers. Before the war they had been occupied, at high mass, by the clergy, the choir, and the principal members of the congregation. He proudly showed me into one of them, and I felt rather embarrassed at finding myself suddenly in a blaze of light between an artillery lieutenant and a surgeon-major.

The low vestry door now opened and a very unexpected procession appeared. In front of a bearded priest walked four artillerymen in uniform. One of them carried a censer, and another the incense-box. The other two walked in front of them, arms crossed and eyes front. The whole procession knelt before the altar with perfect precision, and I saw beneath the priest's vestments muddy gaiters of the same kind as those worn by the gunners.

At the same time we heard, quite close to us, strains of music which seemed to us celestial. In the dim light I had not noticed the harmonium, but now I could distinguish the artist who was enchanting us by his skill in drawing sweet sounds from a poor worn instrument. He was an artillery captain. At once all eyes were turned towards him; we were all enraptured. None of us dared[177] to hope that we should lift our voices in the hymns.

The organist seemed unconscious of his surroundings. The candle placed near the keyboard cast a strange light upon the most expressive of heads. Against the dark background of the church the striking features of a noble face were thrown into strong relief: a forehead broad and refined, an aristocratic nose, a fair moustache turned up at the ends, and, notably, two fine blue eyes, which, without a glance at the fingers on the keys, were fixed on the vaulted roof as though seeking inspiration there.

The Chaplain, turning to the congregation, then said:

"My friends, we will all join in singing the O Salutaris."

The harmonium gave the first notes, and I braced myself to endure the dreadful discords I expected from this crowd of soldiers—mostly reservists—who, I supposed, had come together that evening mainly out of curiosity.

Judge of my astonishment! At first only a few timid voices joined the Chaplain's. But after a minute or so a marvel happened. From all those chests came a volume of sound such as I could hardly have believed possible. Who will say then that our dear France has lost her Faith? Who can believe it? Every one of these men joined in singing the hymn, and not one of them seemed ignorant of the Latin words. It was a magnificent choir, under a lofty vault, chanting with the fervour of absolute sincerity. There was not one discordant note, not one voice out of tune, to spoil its perfect harmony.

Who can believe that men, many of them more than thirty years old, would remember all the words unless they had been brought up in the faith of their ancestors and still held it?

I could not help turning to look at them. In the light of the candles their faces appeared to be wonderfully transfigured. Not one of them expressed irony or even[178] indifference. What a fine picture it would have made for a Rembrandt! The bodies of the men were invisible in the darkness of the nave, and their heads alone emerged from the gloom. The effect was grand enough to fascinate the most sceptical of painters; it soothed and charmed one and wiped out all the miseries that the war had left in its wake. Men like these would be equal to anything, ready for anything; and I myself should much have liked to see a Monsieur Homais hidden away in some corner of that church.

Meanwhile the sacred Office was proceeding at the altar. At any other time we might have smiled at the sight of that soldier-priest served by choristers of thirty-five in uniform; at that ceremony it was inexpressibly touching and attractive, and it was especially delightful to see how carefully and precisely each performed his function that the ceremony might not lack its accustomed pomp.


When the singing had ceased the Chaplain went up to the holy table. In a voice full of feeling he tried to express his gratitude and happiness to all those brave fellows. I should not imagine him to be a brilliant speaker at the best of times, but on that occasion the worthy man was completely unintelligible. His happiness was choking him. He tried in vain to find the words he wanted, used the wrong ones, and only confused himself by trying to get them right. But nobody had the least desire to laugh when, to conclude his address, he said with a sigh of relief:

"And now we will tell twenty beads of the rosary; ten for the success of our arms, and the other ten in memory of soldiers who have died on the field of honour.... Hail! Mary, full of grace...."


I looked round the church once more, and every one's lips were moving silently accompanying the priest's words. Opposite us I saw the artillery captain take a rosary out of his pocket and tell the beads with dreamy eyes; and when the Chaplain came to the sentence "Holy Mary, Mother of God, ..." hundreds of voices burst forth, deep and manly voices, full of fervour which seemed to proclaim their faith in Him Who was present before them on the altar, and also to promise self-sacrifice and devotion to that other sacred thing, their Country.

Then, after the Tantum ergo had been sung with vigour, the priest held up the monstrance, and I saw all those soldiers with one accord kneel down on the stone floor and bow their heads. The silence was impressive; not a word, not a cough, and not a chair moved. I had never seen such devotion in any church. Some spiritual power was brooding over the assemblage and bowing all those heads in token of submission and hope. Good, brave soldiers of France, how we love and honour you at such moments, and what confidence your chiefs must feel when they lead such men to battle!

We sat at table around the lamp, and good Maman Cheveret had just brought in the steaming soup. Right away towards the east we heard the dull roll of the cannon. Good Monsieur Cheveret had just brought up from his cellar a venerable bottle of his best Burgundy, and, at the invitation of the Captain, he sat down to drink a glass with us, smoking his cherry-wood pipe and listening with delight to our merry chat.

Gosset was in his kitchen next door preparing a delicious piece of beef à la mode and at the same time telling Maman Cheveret about his exploits of the past month.

We heard the men of the first troop cracking their[180] jokes in the yard as they ate their rations and emptied their pannikin of wine under a brilliant moon.

Down in the valley on the banks of the murmuring Vesle, songs and laughter floated up to us from the artillery park.

And the village itself, shining under the starlit sky, seemed bathed in an atmosphere of cheerfulness, courage and confidence.


[14] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters from original sources.



Journal of an English Nursing Sister

Told by Violetta Thurstan

This English woman relates her experiences as an eye witness and participant. "For me," she says, "the beginning of the War was a torchlight tattoo on Salisbury Plain. It was fascinating to watch the stately entrance into the field of Lancers, Irish Rifles, Welsh Fusiliers, Grenadiers and many another gallant regiment, each marching into the field in turn to the swing of their own particular regimental tune until they were all drawn up in order." She then tells about "The Beginning of It All"; "Her Experiences in Charleroi and Roundabout"; "The Return to Brussels"; "Our Work in Warsaw"; "The Bombardment of Lodz," and "The Trenches at Radzivilow." These and many other stories have been collected into a volume under the title "Field Hospital and Flying Column." The stories told here are by permission of her publishers, G. P. Putnam's Sons.


The Grand Duchess Cyril happened to be staying at the Hotel Bristol too. Like most of the other members of the Russian Royal Family, since the beginning of the war she has been devoting her whole time to helping wounded soldiers, and is the center of a whole network of activities. She has a large hospital in Warsaw for men and officers, a very efficient ambulance train that can hold 800 wounded, and one of the best surgeons in Petrograd working on it, and a provision train which sets up feeding-stations for the troops and for refugees in places where food is very scarce, which last is an indescribable boon to all who benefit by it. The Grand Duchess's hospital in Warsaw, like every other just at this time, was crammed to overflowing with wounded from Lodz, and the staff was inadequate to meet this unexpected need.


The Grand Duchess met Princess V. in the lounge just as we arrived from Lodz, and begged that our Column might go and help for a time at her hospital. Accordingly, the next day, the consent of the Red Cross Office having been obtained, we went off to the Grand Duchess's hospital for a time to supplement and relieve their staff. They met us with open arms, as they were all very tired and very thankful for our help. They only had room for fifty patients and had had about 150 brought in. Fortunately the Grand Duchess's ambulance train had just come back to Warsaw, so the most convalescent of the old cases were taken off to Petrograd, but even then we were working in the operating-theater till twelve or one every night. They hoped we had come for two or three weeks and were very disgusted when, in five days' time, the order came for us to go off to Skiernevice with the automobiles. The hospital staff gave us such a nice send-off, and openly wished that they belonged to a flying column too. I must say it was very interesting these startings off into the unknown, with our little fleet of automobiles containing ourselves and our equipment. We made a very flourishing start out of Warsaw, but very soon plunged into an appalling mess of mud. One could really write an epic poem on Russian roads. At the best of times they are awful; on this particular occasion they were full of large holes made by shells and covered with thick, swampy mud that had[183] been snow the week before. It delayed us so much that we did not get to Skiernevice till late that night.


Skiernevice is a small town, important chiefly as a railway junction, as two lines branch off here towards Germany and Austria northwest and southwest. The Tsar has a shooting-box here in the midst of beautiful woods, and two rooms had been set apart in this house for our Column.

We arrived late in the evening, secretly hoping that we should get a night in bed, and were rather rejoiced at finding that there were no wounded there at all at present, though a large contingent was expected later. So we camped in the two rooms allotted to us: Princess, Sister G., and myself in one, and all the men of the party in the other. No wounded arrived for two or three days, and we thoroughly enjoyed the rest and, above all, the beautiful woods. How delicious the pines smelt after that horrible Lodz. Twice a day we used to go down the railway line, where there was a restaurant car for the officers; it seemed odd to be eating our meals in the Berlin-Warsaw International Restaurant Car. There was always something interesting going on at the station. One day a regiment from Warsaw had just been detrained there when a German Taube came sailing over the station throwing down grenades. Every man immediately began to fire up in the air, and we ran much more risk of being killed by a Russian bullet than by the German Taube. It was like being in the middle of a battle, and I much regretted I had not my camera with me. Another day all the débris of a battlefield had been picked up and was lying in piles in the station waiting to be sent off to Warsaw. There were truck-loads[184] of stuff; German and Russian overcoats, boots, rifles, water-bottles, caps, swords, and helmets and all sorts of miscellaneous kit.

We often saw gangs of prisoners, mostly Austrian, but some German, and they always seemed well treated by the Russians. The Austrian prisoners nearly always looked very miserable, cold, hungry, and worn out. Once we saw a spy being put into the train to go to Warsaw, I suppose to be shot—an old Jewish man with white hair in a long, black gaberdine, strips of colored paper still in his hand with which he had been caught signaling to the Germans. How angry the soldiers were with him—one gave him a great punch in the back, another kicked him up into the train, and a soldier on the platform who saw what was happening ran as fast as he could and was just in time to give him a parting hit on the shoulder. The old man did not cry out or attempt to retaliate; but his face was ashy-white with terror, and one of his hands was dripping with blood. It was a very horrible sight and haunted me all the rest of the day. It was quite right that he should be shot as a spy, but the unnecessary cruelty first sickened me.

There were masses of troops constantly going up to the positions from Skiernevice, and as there was a short cut through the park, which they generally used, we could see all that was going on from our rooms. On Sunday it was evident that another big battle was pending. Several batteries went up through our woods, each gun-carriage almost up to its axles in mud, dragged by eight strong horses. They were followed by a regiment of Cossacks, looking very fierce in their great black fur head-dresses, huge sheep-skin coats, and long spears. There was one small Cossack boy who was riding out with his father to the front and who could not have been more than eleven or twelve years old. There are quite[185] a number of young boys at the front who make themselves very useful in taking messages, carrying ammunition, and so on. We had one little boy of thirteen in the hospital at Warsaw, who was badly wounded while carrying a message to the colonel, and he was afterwards awarded the St. George's Cross.

There were enormous numbers of other troops too: Siberians, Tartars, Asiatic Russians from Turkestan, Caucasians in their beautiful black-and-silver uniforms, Little Russians from the south, and great fair-haired giants from the north.

The little Catholic Church in the village was full to overflowing at the early Mass that Sunday morning with men in full marching kit on their way out to the trenches. A very large number of them made their Confession and received the Blessed Sacrament before starting out, and for many, many of these it was their Viaticum, for the great battle began that afternoon, and few of the gallant fellows we saw going up to the trenches that morning ever returned again.

That afternoon the Prince had business at the Staff Headquarters out beyond Lowice, and I went out there in the automobile with him and Monsieur Goochkoff. We went through Lowice on the way there. The little town had been severely bombarded (it was taken two or three days later by the Germans), and we met many of the peasants hurrying away from it carrying their possessions with them. You may know the peasants of Lowice anywhere by their distinctive dress, which is the most brilliantly colored peasant dress imaginable. The women wear gorgeous petticoats of orange, red and blue, or green in vertical stripes and a cape of the same material over their shoulders, a bright-colored shawl, generally orange, on their heads, and brilliant bootlaces—magenta is the color most affected. The men, too, wear[186] trousers of the same kind of vertical stripes, generally of orange and black. These splashes of bright color are delicious in this sad, gray country.


The General of the Staff was quartered at Radzivilow Castle, and I explored the place while the Prince and Monsieur Goochkoff did their business. The old, dark hall, with armor hanging on the walls and worm-eaten furniture covered with priceless tapestry, would have made a splendid picture. A huge log fire burning on the open hearth lighted up the dark faces of the two Turkestan soldiers who were standing on guard at the door. In one corner a young lieutenant was taking interminable messages from the field telephone, and under the window another Turkestan soldier stood sharpening his dagger. The Prince asked him what he was doing, and his dark face lighted up. "Every night at eight," he said, still sharpening busily, "I go out and kill some Germans." The men of this Turkestan regiment are said to be extraordinarily brave men. They do not care at all about a rifle, but prefer to be at closer quarters with the enemy with their two-edged dagger, and the Germans like them as little as they like our own Gurkhas and Sikhs.

The next day the wounded began to arrive in Skiernevice, and in two days' time the temporary hospital was full.

The Tsar had a private theater at Skiernevice with a little separate station of its own about 200 yards farther down the line than the ordinary station, and in many ways this made quite a suitable hospital except for the want of a proper water-supply.


The next thing we heard was that the Russian General had decided to fall back once more, and we must be prepared to move at any moment.

All that day we heard violent cannonading going on and all the next night, though the hospital was already full, the little country carts came in one after another filled with wounded. They were to only stay one night, as in the morning ambulance trains were coming to take them all away, and we had orders to follow as soon as the last patient had gone. Another operating- and dressing-room was quickly improvised, but even with the two going hard all night it was difficult to keep pace with the number brought in.

The scenery had never been taken down after the last dramatic performance played in the theater, and wounded men lay everywhere between the wings and drop scenes. The auditorium was packed so closely that you could hardly get between the men without treading on some one's hands and feet as they lay on the floor. The light had given out—in the two dressing-rooms there were oil-lamps, but in the rest of the place we had to make do with candle-ends stuck into bottles. The foyer had been made into a splendid kitchen, where hot tea and boiling soup could be got all night through. This department was worked by the local Red Cross Society, and was a great credit to them.

About eight o'clock in the morning the first ambulance train came in, and was quickly filled with patients. We heard that the Germans were now very near, and hoped we should manage to get away all the wounded before they arrived.

The second train came up about eleven, and by that time a fierce rifle encounter was going on. From the hospital window we could see the Russian troops firing from the trenches near the railway. Soon there was a[188] violent explosion that shook the place; this was the Russians blowing up the railway bridge on the western side of the station.

The second train went off, and there were very few patients left now, though some were still being brought in at intervals by the Red Cross carts. Our automobiles had started off to Warsaw with some wounded officers, but the rest of the column had orders to go to Zyradow by the last train to leave Skiernevice.

The sanitars now began to pack up the hospital; we did not mean to leave anything behind for the enemy if we could help it. The few bedsteads were taken to pieces and tied up, the stretchers put together and the blankets tied up in bundles. When the last ambulance train came up about 2 P.M. the patients were first put in, and then every portable object that could be removed was packed into the train too. At the last moment, when the train was just about to start, one of the sanitars ran back and triumphantly brought out a pile of dirty soup plates to add to the collection. Nothing was left in the hospital but two dead men we had not time to bury.

The wounded were all going to Warsaw and the other Russian Sisters went on in the train with them. But our destination was Zyradow, only the next station but one down the line.


When we arrived at Zyradow about three o'clock we were looking forward to a bath and tea and bed, as we had been up all night and were very tired; but the train most unkindly dropped us about a quarter of a mile from the station, and we had to get out all our equipment and heavy cases of dressings, and put them at[189] the side of the line, while Julian, the Prince's soldier servant, went off to try and find a man and a cart for the things. There was a steady downpour of rain, and we were soaked by the time he came back saying that there was nothing to be had at all. The station was all in crumbling ruins, so we could not leave the things there, and our precious dressings were beginning to get wet. Finally we got permission to put them in a closed cinema theater near the station, but it was dark by that time, and we were wet and cold and began once more to center our thoughts on baths and tea. We were a small party—only six of us—Princess, we two Sisters, Colonel S., a Russian dresser, and Julian. We caught a local Red Crosser. "Where is the hotel?" "There is no hotel here." "Where can we lodge for to-night?" "I don't know where you could lodge." "Where is the Red Cross Bureau?" asked Princess, in desperation. "About a quarter of an hour's walk. I will show you the way."

We got to the Red Cross Bureau to find that Monsieur Goochkoff had not yet arrived, though he was expected, and they could offer no solution of our difficulties, except to advise us to go to the Factory Hospital and see if they could make any arrangement for us. The Matron there was very kind, and telephoned to every one she could think of, and finally got a message that we were expected, and were to sleep at the Reserve. So we trudged once more through the mud and rain. The "Reserve" was two small, empty rooms, where thirty Sisters were going to pass the night. They had no beds, and not even straw, but were just going to lie on the floor in their clothes. There was obviously no room for six more of us, and finally we went back once more to the Red Cross Bureau. Princess seized an empty room, and announced that we were going to sleep in it. We were told we couldn't, as it had been reserved for[190] somebody else; but we didn't care, and got some patients' stretchers from the depot and lay down on them in our wet clothes just as we were. In the middle of the night the "somebody" for whom the room had been kept arrived, strode into the room, and turned up the electric light. The others were really asleep, and I pretended to be. He had a good look at us, and then strode out again grunting. We woke up every five minutes, it was so dreadfully cold, and though we were so tired, I was not sorry when it was time to get up.

We had breakfast at a dirty little restaurant in the town, and then got a message from the Red Cross that there would be nothing for us to do that day, but that we were probably going to be sent to Radzowill the following morning. So we decided to go off to the Factory Hospital and see if we could persuade the Matron to let us have a bath there.

Zyradow is one very large cotton and woollen factory, employing about 5,000 hands. In Russia it is the good law that for every hundred workmen employed there shall be one hospital bed provided. In the small factories a few beds in the local hospital are generally subsidized, in larger ones they usually find it more convenient to have their own. So here there was a very nice little hospital with fifty beds, which had been stretched now to hold twice as many more, as a great many wounded had to be sent in here. The Matron is a Pole of Scottish extraction, and spoke fluent but quite foreign English with a strong Scotch accent. There are a good many Scotch families here, who came over and settled in Poland about a hundred years ago, and who are all engaged in different departments in the factory. She was kindness itself, and gave us tea first and then prepared a hot bath for us all in turn. We got rid of most of our tormentors and were at peace once more.


As we left the hospital we met three footsore soldiers whose boots were absolutely worn right through. They were coming up to the hospital to see if the Matron had any dead men's boots that would fit them. It sounded rather gruesome—but she told us that that was quite a common errand. The Russian military boots are excellent, but, of course, all boots wear out very quickly under such trying circumstances of roads and weather. They are top boots, strong and waterproof, and very often made by the men themselves. The uniform, too, is very practical and so strong that the men have told me that carpets are made from the material. The color is browner than our own khaki—and quite different both from the German, which is much grayer, and the Austrian, which is almost blue. I heard in Belgium that at the beginning of the war German soldiers were constantly mistaken for our men.


[15] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters from original sources.



By Ernesta Drinker Bullitt, An American Woman in the Diplomatic Circles in Germany and Austria

This is one of the most delightfully interesting narratives in the entire War. It is the diary of an American woman with a charming sense of humor. Mrs. Bullitt accompanied her husband on his interviews with the diplomatists as special correspondent with the Philadelphia Public Ledger. Her conversations with historical personages give one an intimate acquaintanceship with the great characters in the world's tragedy. This American woman tells how she dined with von Bissing, Governor of Belgium; Zimmerman, "the busiest man in the German Empire," discussed the War with her; Countess von Bernstorff and Baroness von Bissing asked her to tea; ambassadors and statesmen parleyed with her. She recorded her daily experiences without any thought of their future publication. It stands unique as a record written entirely within the lines of the Central Empires. Brilliant sketches from this diary are here reprinted by the authority of the publishers: Doubleday, Page and Company: Copyright 1917.


Copenhagen, May 14, 1916.

Once upon a time ... before the war, one went abroad with no more preparation than a steamer ticket and an American Express check or two. Two days ago, we undertook to go from Holland to Denmark, via Germany. Before daring to approach Bentheim, the German frontier, we were equipped with passports, thrice viséd;[193] a special letter of identification from the Department of State, birth certificates, letters to the frontier authorities from Count Bernstorff and the German Minister at The Hague, eighty-seven other letters of introduction, two letters of credit, and a Philadelphia police card....


May 23d.

Denmark is hospitable, inexpensive, and friendly. We have seen the Egans frequently. They have been more than kind. Mr. Egan has been in Denmark eleven years—a longer period than any other diplomat in our service to-day has held a post. By common consent, he is the most popular diplomat in Denmark. The other Ministers keep dashing in and out, getting advice from Mr. Egan....

Among the other qualities of a perfect diplomat which Mr. and Mrs. Egan possess, they have that of never making a "break." Therefore, they gave us (principally me) what we needed—advice as to caution in speech, behavior, facial expression, and etiquette, also warning us against writing anything down on paper. It's going to be hard on me. I never was born to be indefinite. I am practising conversing diplomatically.

"Mrs. Bullitt, Verdun has been taken and Paris is about to surrender."

"Really? How curious. Battles are so interesting, aren't they?"

"Mrs. Bullitt, if it were not for American ammunition, the war would have ended in six months."

"Yes, battles are dangerous, aren't they?" Whereas, I might mention our Spanish war and certain famous German munition factories. So, the crest of idiotic amiability being reached, we move on to the weather.


Count Szechenyi, the Austro-Hungarian Minister, thinks it would be a good plan for us to go to Vienna and Pest, as so little has been seen of them during the war. He has very kindly written to people there that we are coming. I played tennis with him this afternoon at the club, he in his suspenders and monocle, and I in street clothes, with a pair of borrowed tennis shoes two inches too long on my feet, and a racket like a spoon, as a means of defence, in my hand....


Hotel Esplanade, Berlin, May 29th.

We got to Berlin. I must say I should have liked to wrap up in the American flag and sleep on Mr. Gerard's doorstep myself. The inspection this time was really too disgusting to repeat. I decided that, if I ever again heard any one say: "It's our orders," I should kill him. Orders apparently mean: Be as nasty to the man who can't hit you back as your imagination will allow....

We lunched at the Embassy the day after we got here. Mrs. Gerard is charming and Mr. Gerard one of the most amusing men I ever met. Brusque, frank, quick-witted, a typically judicial mind, and a typically undiplomatic manner, he is the last person in the world a German would understand. His dry, slangy, American humor, his sudden lapses into the comic in moments of solemnity, his irreverence for the great, shock the worthy German. That he treats the Emperor in any other way than as a business acquaintance is most unlikely....

The Embassy is filled with Harvard secretaries, whose lips, as Mr. Egan says, are still wet with the milk of Groton. The ballroom is bulging with stenographers. Never did the world see its few remaining diplomats so overworked. Instead of coming down and reading the[195] papers for two hours a day, they now all work mornings, afternoons, and sometimes evenings.


June 3d.

To-day, the flags are all out for the naval victory, even the trams and buses are decorated. The Germans didn't wish to celebrate until they were quite sure. They've made one or two mistakes, so they were cautious this time. The school-children take a real interest in German victories. They get a holiday on the strength of one, and they measure the victory only by the length of their holiday. The joy is slightly adulterated by having to go to school first and listen to a careful explanation of what they are about to celebrate. Their fondness for Hindenburg is quite immoderate. In the eyes of German children, a campaign against the Russians is a most praiseworthy undertaking.

The great wooden statue of Hindenburg, encased in geranium plants and scaffolding, had many nails driven into it to-day. The statue is an unsightly thing, but it seems to appeal to the Berliners to buy a nail for the benefit of the Red Cross, climb the scaffolding, and hammer it in....

Lunched with the Jacksons. Mr. Jackson was Secretary of the Embassy here for years. The Germans trust him, Baron von Mumm told me. Baron and Baroness Roeder were there and Countess Götzen. I asked Baron Roeder what he did and he said he was Master of Ceremonies at Court, and official introducer, and a lot of other things. He is about seventy-five, but he says he is going to the front if the war keeps up much longer. Already he has offered himself three times. His chief irritation against England is being cut off from his London tailor. Every German I meet out of uniform tells the same sad[196] tale. The old gentleman said he thought the naval victory was due principally to Zeppelins. The Blüchers joined us for coffee. Count Blücher looks like the pictures of his famous grandparent. Princess —— said that his father is a dreadful old gentleman, fights with everyone, his son included, all the time. As the old Prince is eighty-five, the relations had better run around and turn the other cheek before it's too late.


June 4th.

We staggered in to Countess ——'s tea late in the afternoon. She told me how she brought up Hilda, her daughter. Hilda is a little matter of six feet high. Her mother was afraid to ever let her daughter go up in the hotel lift alone for fear something will happen to her. As her last offence was to refuse to let the Kaiser kiss her—he being her godfather and claiming parental privileges—it would seem she could take care of herself.


June 8th.

I met Countess Blücher talking to that mad Irish-American, John Gaffney. He was removed from his consulship at Munich for being un-neutral, so now he is in a white rage at the President. He says he is the only American who has been fair to the Germans and that he never was un-neutral. Both Countess Blücher and Gaffney were in a great state of mind over Casement. Gaffney says he is a hero who sacrificed himself for his country, and Countess Blücher that he is a lifelong friend and therefore must be got off from hanging, whatever he has done. She has written a letter to England, saying Casement is mad, in hope that it may help to save him.


"I don't fancy he will like that—coming from me," she said, "but it was the only thing I could think of doing."

I asked Count Blücher when he thought the war would end, and he said: "When Russia is spent." I said that sounded rather pessimistic.

"No," he said. "I think we can wear her out and then get a port on the Baltic...."

Dined last night with Countess Götzen. I sat between a Spaniard and Prince Christian of Hesse. The Spaniard was a detestable little thing, and Prince Christian had tonsilitis and thought he was going to die, so I didn't get much entertainment out of him, either. Later on we changed seats and I drew a fat and pleasant Bavarian, who had known my aunt in America. I asked him what his name was and he said they called him "Booby." I said I might get to that in time but I had to have something else to tide me over. After a few Christian names, I ran him down to his visiting card and Baron von Papius.

Had tea with Countess Sehr-Thoss, an American. She is charming. When I admired an old painting on her drawing-room wall, she said: "Yes. I bought that with 2,000 marks sent me by my old uncle to buy eggs. He wrote he heard in America we were paying five dollars apiece for eggs and thought I might not be able to afford them!"

The Duchess of Croy came bounding in, looking most exuberant and American. I liked her, she is so unaffected....


June 10th.

Saw Fräulein Marelle and Fräulein Schulhoff, of the[198] Lyceum Club, this morning. They were telling us stories of the invasion of East Prussia.... One lady, whom Fräulein Marelle knows, a Frau von Bieberstein, had her château cut to ribbons. Her tapestry chairs were sliced up with knives, her china and mirrors broken, her beautiful chapel knocked to pieces, her bed ripped up and the feathers scattered from garret to cellar. It was rather queer to hear this tale from a German woman after Mme. Huard's tale of the wreck of her château in northern France by the Germans.

They told me, too, of a nurse, a friend of theirs, who had gone to Russia. There she found, among other things, a carload of children, eighty in number, all dead of starvation. The Russians had put them in the car, sidetracked it, and forgotten it. Some other cars were found containing 200 people, all dead but one child in its mother's arms. The nurse saw the Czarina and told her of these, and many other things, and she said the Empress burst into tears. Well she might!

The Germans are told that if the Russians get into East Prussia again, they are to send the women away immediately—those who stay are all outraged.


June 12th.

Agatha Grabish called this morning. She has been to East Prussia. One old woman she talked to said she had stayed for the first Russian invasion.

"Why?" Agatha asked her.

"Well," she said, "my bread was baking when the others started to go, and I didn't want to leave it. But I might just as well have," she added, "because the Russians came in and ate it all up as soon as I took it out of the oven."

Billy (the author's husband) and I went to see Zimmermann in the Foreign Office. He, with Von Bethmann-Hollweg,[199] Von Jagow, Helfferich, and Falkenhayn, are running Germany. Zimmermann is a large, blond man. His forehead is exceptionally high and his cheeks much scarred by sword slashes. He is genial, calm, and although the busiest man in the Empire, quite unhurried.

"I have just been seeing some bankers," said he. "We are negotiating another loan for our Turkish friends. Those people are always in need of money."

Billy said it was a great imposition for us to take up his time, as he was probably very busy. He laughed and declared he was glad to see us. I told him he was like Disraeli, who said he was not "unusually busy to-day" but "usually busy."...

We asked him whether Germany looked for a long peace after the war, and whether it would be on the grounds of great military strength and strong boundaries, or on the basis of an international conciliatory body, or a treaty?

He answered that nothing short of a United States of Europe would amount to anything, and seemed to possess the usual German skepticism of treaties.

"We will have to have a United States of Europe some day, to enable us to compete economically with America. That may come in eighty or one hundred years, but not in our lifetime. If you would really develop your natural resources, we in Europe would be helpless...."


June 27th.

I went to Baroness von Bissing's to tea. Oh, welcome was the hour and her comfortable chair! She is small, with finely chiselled features; her movements are quick, like those of a highly bred animal, and she is rather excitable.


We sat down to tea and cherry tarts and I asked her when she was next going to Belgium. She can, of course, go whenever she likes, but is never there officially, as no German officer may take his wife to Belgium. The General, being so strict a gentleman, will not break the rule even for himself, and so Baroness von Bissing and her children must live alone in Germany, and he with his 150 aides-de-camp in his palace in Brussels.

"It is very hard to be without my husband and my eldest son," she said.

"Where is your boy?" I asked.

"He was taken prisoner by the French, wounded in six places. When he got well, they took him to prison and put him in solitary confinement in a little tiny cell with no work to do and no one with whom he can speak. He may not even look out of the cell window, for they painted it white. Twice a day he is taken for a walk by his guards—and this all because the French thought we did not treat Delcassé's son properly. Now, because they took my boy, and another, we have put six of their men in solitary confinement. We will see where these reprisals will bring us; I am sorry they must be, but we have more captured men than they."

"Why did they put Delcassé's son in prison in the first place?" I asked.

"Because he was an impertinent boy and called his officers 'dirty dogs of Prussians,'" she answered....

"Serbia and Montenegro are full of people that need to be punished, but Italy—Italy!"—said Frau von Bissing, with her pretty nose in the air—"is a nasty little dog that has done something dirty and must be kicked out!"...

"England is a disgusting hypocrite," said my hostess emphatically. "France is not so bad; we do not hate her, but England is in this war solely for money. It is[201] a pleasant little joke of theirs, about our invading Belgium first, but I know that the English and French were there before us."

Now, if the wife of the Governor of Belgium believes this so earnestly, one may imagine how firmly the rest of Germany believes it....


July 1st.

Went to the Von Gwinners' to lunch. It was Von Gwinner who put through the Bagdad Railway scheme. The house is large, but there is a life-size marble statue of a woman playing a violin in the drawing-room. He has a beautiful garden.

Von Gwinner said the victor in this war would be the nation which declared bankruptcy two weeks after all the rest. He expects they will all be taxed to the verge of poverty when the war is over, but believes Germany can hold out the longest.

Dined with Baron von Mumm Tuesday night at the Automobile Club. He is a fraud, and Count Montjelas with him, and I hope to see them both soon to tell them so. There was a crowd in the Leipziger Platz when I got there, and the two men were standing at the window. I asked what it was and they said: "Nothing, nothing, only the usual people going home from work." Now, whether they knew or not, I am not sure, but it really was the Socialists publicly demonstrating their disapproval of the imprisonment of Liebknecht for two years and a half. That shows what a Berlin riot is. I looked on and never knew it!

We've heard from Freiherr von B—— that there was a really recognizable one in Düsseldorf. All the women went to the City Hall and demanded more meat and potatoes. The Mayor stuck his shaved head out of[202] the window and tried to calm them with tales of beans and peas, but they shouted they did not want them, they wanted potatoes and, when he said he hadn't any, they smashed all the windows that couldn't resist brick.

"That's just like the poor," said Von B——, "they won't eat anything except potatoes."

Baron Böcklin showed us pictures he'd taken on the front. In one little house in Belgium, which he'd made his headquarters, a woman sneaked in on him one night when he was sleeping. He heard her and, jumping up, caught her by the throat. She had a long knife in her hand. As Böcklin was taking it from her, a man crawled out from under his bed with a gun, but was covered by the sergeant who came to Böcklin's rescue. The Baron let both assassins go, instead of having them shot as he had the right to do. Böcklin's mother was an American, and his grandmother an Englishwoman....

Heard a delightful story about Mr. Gerard from Mrs. ——. She said that to tease Countess B—— he asked her why she hadn't married some nice stockbroker in New York, who could have provided her with much better-looking clothes, and more of them, than Count B——. She went home in a rage and told the Count, who also became furious and they both told all Berlin that Mr. Gerard was so anti-German that he disapproved of German-American marriages. Mrs. Gerard implores her husband to save his jokes for those who have a sense of humor but he says, no matter what resolutions he makes, Countess B—— is more than he can resist, and his remarks grow always worse instead of better.


July 6th.

That night we went to the Max Warburgs' to dine. They are very delightful people; their house is large and[203] nice, their sense of humor a joy to find, and besides that, Mrs. Warburg was well dressed and wore—oh, wonder of wonders in a German woman—silk stockings. Mr. Warburg is one of the biggest bankers of Germany, and is certainly the nicest. He declared American business men and American financiers to be the most charming and the most uninformed men in the world.

"They know nothing of international affairs, not one thing," said he. "And they do not even know their own country thoroughly. We wonder over here how they can possibly get along with such little knowledge of the affairs of the world." He said he told his brother, Mr. Paul Warburg, that it's easy enough for him to be a big man in America, where there is so little competition, but just let him come to Germany and try it. One may think America is work-mad, but it seems a shiftless, lazy place after Germany....


July 13th.

Lunched at the Lays'. They had a party for Prince Christian of Hesse and his wife, and Mr. and Mrs. Roger's mother and father. The Blüchers were to have been there, but old Count Blücher chose this morning to drop dead off his horse. He must have been a charming old man. Most of his life he spent trying to evade his German taxes. He had an island off the coast of England, on which he kept a great many kangaroos. Perhaps he thought they added a touch of British atmosphere to his estate. He wished to know if he couldn't come to America and live there about a week, in order to become an American citizen, as he found his island didn't get him out of paying his German taxes, but when told it would take even longer than a week to become an American citizen, he gave up that idea. He was much interested[204] in America but said he thought it must be dangerous to have so many buffaloes around. And, when he heard of the lynchings our peace-loving citizens occasionally like to indulge in, he suggested we let our wild Indians out to subdue the lynchers. "That would soon put a stop to such riots," said the old gentleman.


July 31st.

Upon Billy's appealing to Count Harrach, we were allowed to go to tea with the Whitlocks. Diplomatic life in Belgium to-day is one of the experiences it is no harm to omit. If the American Diplomats attempt to be tactful with Belgians about the Germans, and say that they really are a nice lot after all, Belgian doors close and hats are not lifted in the street. Yet if they refused to see Germans or avoided them they would shortly be requested to leave on the grounds of being anti-German. Tact and diplomacy have a hard life in Belgium now....

Philip Platt, who was also at lunch, had, as his chief worry that day, the knowledge that the three young Princesses de Ligne, who are ardently working for their country, were feeding the children in the Petites Abeilles so fast that they nearly choked them. The question which bothered him sorely was, who to get to tell the three noble ladies that their attentions would be more appreciated if they were less violent.


Berlin, August 2d.

Our last night in Brussels we dined with General von Bissing. The dinner, for some peculiar reason, was given for us.

The hall was filled with officers. One very glorious-looking person took me in charge and introduced each[205] man to me. They clicked their booted heels together and kissed my hand. This audience over, the Governor appeared. He is seventy-two and looks sixty. His face is stern yet not unkind....

I asked Von Bissing if he approved of suffrage, and he said: "Never! It is something terrible for women."...


Berlin, Aug. 4th.

Hindenburg has been given charge of the eastern front, proving that Austria must have been feeling rather dejected. He was in command almost two weeks before the news came out. It must be a great blow to the Austrian pride.

I wonder if he will drive the Russians back a second time. When Hindenburg won the battle of Tannenberg and drove the Russians out of East Prussia, he was executing in reality what he had lectured the military students about for twenty years. In his lecture course he had called it the "Battle of the Masurian Lakes," and none in the world knew so well what to do in just the situation which arose as did the retired general. He had been refused, at the beginning of the war, as too old, and was obliged to sit at home helpless, and read about the Russians swarming into his country. At this point, the Kaiser remembered Hindenburg. In the middle of the night orders arrived that the General in command of the eastern front had been deposed and Hindenburg put in his place. A special train was waiting and Hindenburg started at two in the morning and worked out his plans as he sped towards the advancing Russian army. In three days the enemy was in retreat and Germany was saved. Is it a wonder the people call him: Unser Hindenburg? The story goes that the General who was in[206] command sent word to the Kaiser that he must retreat behind the Oder. The Kaiser sent word back: "Retire behind the Oder, but without the army," and immediately sent for old Hindenburg. The General never plays politics. A few years ago, when there was a general inspection of troops, they conducted a sham battle. General Von Moltke managed to get a very strong position; then the Kaiser, as a grand finale, led an immense cavalry charge down a plain and exposed his troops to fire from three sides. As a grandstand play, it was magnificent. Triumphant, the Kaiser rode up to General Hindenburg, the referee.

"How was that, General?" he demanded, proudly.

The General saluted.

"All dead but one, Sir," he said.


August 13th.

Had tea with Constance Minot and Countess Bernstorff the other day. Just now she is in a great state of nerves over the thought of going to America to join the Ambassador. She declared she knew the English had been lying in wait for her for two years and were going to be as disagreeable as possible.

"They will search everything I have, I know," said she. "They will wash my back with acid and they will rip the lining out of everything, and I shall never be fit to be seen again."

In vain Constance and I assured her that she would be treated with great respect. I told her we had had no trouble at all, and she said: "What did you do?" I answered that we made love to the English inspection officer and asked him to dinner, and asked her why she shouldn't do the same.

"I suppose that would be the best way," she answered.[207] Another real grievance was that everyone had tried to give her things to bring to friends and relatives in America.

"One woman gave me a large box. I opened it and found a toy Zeppelin. Imagine if the English had found that in my trunk! They would have taken me off the boat and hanged me, surely!" she said, with a laugh.


August 15th.

Went to Herringsdorf on the one o'clock train Saturday with Lithgow Osborne and Christian Herter. The Ambassador was in Herringsdorf with Aileen and Lanier Winslow....

After dinner we went for a walk on the pier. I was with the Ambassador, who kept making his dry, humorous remarks about everyone. Soon a guard turned us back.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"You are in Germany," replied Mr. Gerard. "Don't forget that. They wait until they find out that people like to do a thing, and then at once they forbid it."

"What I'd like best, Mr. Gerard," said I, "would be to hear you talk to the powers that be in Germany. It must be rather difficult for them to understand all your jokes."

"It is," he replied. "They can't make me out at all here."

He makes the most glorious remarks to every one. I heard that, apropos of the Lusitania, the Ambassador said to the Chancellor:

"Your argument about the Lusitania amounts to just this. If I were to write a note to your sister and say: 'If you go out on the Wilhelm Platz, I will shoot you!' and if she did go out on the Wilhelm Platz and I shot her—that would be her fault, wouldn't it?"

And one day when Zimmerman remarked: "The United[208] States couldn't go to war with us, because we have 500,000 trained Germans in the United States," the Ambassador replied: "You may have 500,000 trained Germans in the United States, but don't forget that we have 500,001 lamp-posts."



Resurrection of the Soul on the Battlefield

Told by Donald Hankey, Who Was Killed in Action on Western Front on October 26, 1916

The high spiritual idealism which actuates so many thousands in the ranks of the Allies finds its voice in Donald Hankey. The horrors of War are so appalling that the heart faints when we think only of the body. But when the eye is turned to the spiritual side it is a magnificent spectacle of the self-sacrifice of men. This young Britisher with inspiring nobility tells of his experiences in his book "A Student in Arms," which is one of the most notable contributions to the War's literature, dealing with the deeper things of human life. His sketch of "The Beloved Captain" is here told by permission of his publishers, E. P. Dutton and Company.


"The New Army," "Kitchener's Army," we go by many names. The older sergeants—men who have served in regular battalions—sometimes call us "Kitchener's Mob," and swear that to take us to war would be another "Massacre of the Innocents." At other times they affirm that we are a credit to our instructors (themselves); but such affirmations have become rarer since beer went up to threepence a pint.


We are a mixed lot—a triumph of democracy, like the Tubes. Some of us have fifty years to our credit and only own to thirty; others are sixteen and claim to be eighteen. Some of us enlisted for glory, and some for fun, and a few for fear of starvation. Some of us began by being stout, and have lost weight; others were seedy and are filling out. Some of us grumble, and go sick to escape parades; but for the most part we are aggressively cheerful, and were never fitter in our lives. Some miss their glass of claret, others their fish-and-chips; but as we all sleep on the floor, and have only one suit, which is rapidly becoming very disreputable, you would never tell t'other from which.

We sing as we march. Such songs we sing! All about coons and girls, parodies of hymns, parodies about Kaiser Bill, and sheer unadulterated nonsense. We shall sing

"Where's yer girl?
Ain't yer got none?"

as we march into battle.

Battle! Battle, murder, and sudden death! Maiming, slaughter, blood, extremities of fear and discomfort and pain! How incredibly remote all that seems! We don't believe in it really. It is just a great game we are learning. It is part of the game to make little short rushes in extended order, to lie on our bellies and keep our heads down, snap our rifles and fix our bayonets. Just a game, that's all, and then home to tea.

Some of us think that these young officers take the game a jolly sight too seriously. Twice this week we have been late for dinner, and once they routed us out to play it at night. That was a bit too thick! The canteen was shut when we got back and we missed our pint.


Anyhow we are Kitchener's Army, and we are quite sure it will be all right. Just send us to Flanders, and see if it ain't. We're Kitchener's Army, and we don't care if it snows ink!


He came in the early days, when we were still at recruit drills under the hot September sun. Tall, erect, smiling: so we first saw him, and so he remained to the end. At the start he knew as little of soldiering as we did. He used to watch us being drilled by the sergeant; but his manner of watching was peculiarly his own. He never looked bored. He was learning just as much as we were, in fact more. He was learning his job, and from the first he saw that his job was more than to give the correct orders. His job was to lead us. So he watched, and noted many things, and never found the time hang heavy on his hands. He watched our evolutions, so as to learn the correct orders; he watched for the right manner of command, the manner which secured the most prompt response to an order; and he watched every one of us for our individual characteristics. We were his men. Already he took an almost paternal interest in us. He noted the men who tried hard, but were naturally slow and awkward. He distinguished them from those who were inattentive and bored. He marked down the keen and efficient amongst us. Most of all he studied those who were subject to moods, who were sulky one day and willing the next. These were the ones who were to turn the scale. If only he could get these on his side, the battle would be won.

For a few days he just watched. Then he started work. He picked out some of the most awkward ones, and, accompanied by a corporal, marched them away by[212] themselves. Ingenuously he explained that he did not know much himself yet; but he thought that they might get on better if they drilled by themselves a bit, and that if he helped them, and they helped him, they would soon learn. His confidence was infectious. He looked at them, and they looked at him, and the men pulled themselves together and determined to do their best. Their best surprised themselves. His patience was inexhaustible. His simplicity could not fail to be understood. His keenness and optimism carried all with them. Very soon the awkward squad found themselves awkward no longer; and soon after that they ceased to be a squad, and went back to the platoon.

Then he started to drill the platoon, with the sergeant standing by to point out his mistakes. Of course he made mistakes, and when that happened he never minded admitting it. He would explain what mistakes he had made, and try again. The result was that we began to take almost as much interest and pride in his progress as he did in ours. We were his men, and he was our leader. We felt that he was a credit to us, and we resolved to be a credit to him. There was a bond of mutual confidence and affection between us, which grew stronger and stronger as the months passed. He had a smile for almost everyone; but we thought that he had a different smile for us. We looked for it, and were never disappointed. On parade, as long as we were trying, his smile encouraged us. Off parade, if we passed him and saluted, his eyes looked straight into our own, and his smile greeted us. It was a wonderful thing, that smile of his. It was something worth living for, and worth working for. It bucked one up when one was bored or tired. It seemed to make one look at things from a different point of view, a finer point of view, his point of view. There was nothing feeble or weak about[213] it. It was not monotonous like the smile of "Sunny Jim." It meant something. It meant that we were his men, and that he was proud of us, and sure that we were going to do jolly well—better than any of the other platoons. And it made us determine that we would. When we failed him, when he was disappointed in us, he did not smile. He did not rage or curse. He just looked disappointed, and that made us feel far more savage with ourselves than any amount of swearing would have done. He made us feel that we were not playing the game by him. It was not what he said. He was never very good at talking. It was just how he looked. And his look of displeasure and disappointment was a thing that we would do anything to avoid. The fact was that he had won his way into our affections. We loved him. And there isn't anything stronger than love, when all's said and done.


He was good to look on. He was big and tall, and held himself upright. His eyes looked his own height. He moved with the grace of an athlete. His skin was tanned by a wholesome outdoor life, and his eyes were clear and wide open. Physically he was a prince among men. We used to notice, as we marched along the road and passed other officers, that they always looked pleased to see him. They greeted him with a cordiality which was reserved for him. Even the general seemed to have singled him out, and cast an eye of special approval upon him. Somehow, gentle though he was, he was never familiar. He had a kind of innate nobility which marked him out as above us. He was not democratic. He was rather the justification for aristocracy. We all knew instinctively that he was our superior—a man of finer[214] temper than ourselves, a "toff" in his own right. I suppose that that was why he could be so humble without loss of dignity. For he was humble too, if that is the right word, and I think it is. No trouble of ours was too small for him to attend to. When we started route marches, for instance, and our feet were blistered and sore, as they often were at first, you would have thought that they were his own feet from the trouble he took. Of course after the march there was always an inspection of feet. That is the routine. But with him it was no mere routine. He came into our rooms, and if anyone had a sore foot he would kneel down on the floor and look at it as carefully as if he had been a doctor. Then he would prescribe, and the remedies were ready at hand, being borne by the sergeant. If a blister had to be lanced he would very likely lance it himself there and then, so as to make sure that it was done with a clean needle and that no dirt was allowed to get in. There was no affectation about this, no striving after effect. It was simply that he felt that our feet were pretty important, and that he knew that we were pretty careless. So he thought it best at the start to see to the matter himself. Nevertheless, there was in our eyes something almost religious about this care for our feet. It seemed to have a touch of the Christ about it, and we loved and honored him the more.


We knew that we should lose him. For one thing, we knew that he would be promoted. It was our great hope that some day he would command the company. Also we knew that he would be killed. He was so amazingly unself-conscious. For that reason we knew that he would be absolutely fearless. He would be so keen[215] on the job in hand, and so anxious for his men, that he would forget about his own danger. So it proved. He was a captain when we went out to the front. Whenever there was a tiresome job to be done, he was there in charge. If ever there were a moment of danger, he was on the spot. If there were any particular part of the line where the shells were falling faster or the bombs dropping more thickly than in other parts, he was in it. It was not that he was conceited and imagined himself indispensable. It was just that he was so keen that the men should do their best, and act worthily of the regiment. He knew that fellows hated turning out at night for fatigue, when they were in a "rest camp." He knew how tiresome the long march there and back and the digging in the dark for an unknown purpose were. He knew that fellows would be inclined to grouse and shirk, so he thought that it was up to him to go and show them that he thought it was a job worth doing. And the fact that he was there put a new complexion on the matter altogether. No one would shirk if he were there. No one would grumble so much, either. What was good enough for him was good enough for us. If it were not too much trouble for him to turn out, it was not too much trouble for us. He knew, too, how trying to the nerves it is to sit in a trench and be shelled. He knew what a temptation there is to move a bit farther down the trench and herd together in a bunch at what seems the safest end. He knew, too, the folly of it, and that it was not the thing to do—not done in the best regiments. So he went along to see that it did not happen, to see that the men stuck to their posts, and conquered their nerves. And as soon as we saw him, we forgot our own anxiety. It was: "Move a bit farther down, sir. We are all right here; but don't you go exposing of yourself." We didn't matter. We knew it then. We[216] were just the rank and file, bound to take risks. The company would get along all right without us. But the captain, how was the company to get on without him? To see him was to catch his point of view, to forget our personal anxieties, and only to think of the company, and the regiment, and honor.

There was not one of us but would gladly have died for him. We longed for the chance to show him that. We weren't heroes. We never dreamed about the V. C. But to save the captain we would have earned it ten times over, and never have cared a button whether we got it or not. We never got the chance, worse luck. It was all the other way. We were holding some trenches which were about as unhealthy as trenches could be. The Boches were only a few yards away, and were well supplied with trench mortars. We hadn't got any at that time. Bombs and air torpedoes were dropping round us all day. Of course the captain was there. It seemed as if he could not keep away. A torpedo fell into the trench, and buried some of our chaps. The fellows next to them ran to dig them out. Of course he was one of the first. Then came another torpedo in the same place. That was the end.

But he lives. Somehow he lives. And we who knew him do not forget. We feel his eyes on us. We still work for that wonderful smile of his. There are not many of the old lot left now; but I think that those who went West have seen him. When they got to the other side I think they were met. Someone said: "Well done, good and faithful servant." And as they knelt before that gracious pierced Figure, I reckon they saw nearby the captain's smile. Anyway, in that faith let me die, if death should come my way; and so, I think, shall I die content.


[16] All numerals relate to stories told herein—not to chapters in the book.



The Man With the Rosary

Told by Patrick MacGill, Rifleman Number 3008, London Irish

Patrick MacGill is the genius of the battlefield. The War has given his great Irish heart its opportunity to express itself, and his stories from the front have become little classics in the War's literature. He dedicates his stories: "To the London Irish, to the Spirit of Those Who Fight and to the Memory of Those Who Have Passed Away." A letter to him by the President of the County of London Territorial Association reads: "When I recruited you into the London Irish—one of those splendid regiments that London has sent to Sir John French, himself an Irishman—it was with gratitude and pride. You had much to give us. The rare experiences of your boyhood, your talents, your brilliant hopes for the future. Upon all these the Western hills and loughs of your native Donegal seemed to have the prior claim. But you gave them to London and to our London Territorials. The London Irish will be proud of their young artist in words and he will forever be proud of the London Irish Regiment, its deeds and valour, to which he has dedicated such great gifts. May God preserve you." Patrick MacGill, shoulder to shoulder with the Tommies as a private soldier, is writing many great books. The following stories are taken from his volume entitled "The Red Horizon," by permission of his publishers, George H. Doran Company: Copyright 1916.



Sometimes when our spell in the trenches comes to an end we go back for a rest in some village or town. Here the estaminet or debitant (French, as far as I am aware, for a beer shop), is open to the British soldier for three hours daily, from twelve to one and from six to eight o'clock. For some strange reason we often find ourselves busy on parade at these hours, and when not on parade we generally find ourselves without money. I have been here for four months; looking at my pay book I find that I've been paid 25 fr. (or in plain English, one pound) since I have come to France, a country where the weather grows hotter daily, where the water is seldom drinkable, and where wine and beer is so cheap. Once we were paid five francs at five o'clock in the afternoon after five penniless days of rest in a village, and ordered as we were paid, to pack up our all and get ready to set off at six o'clock for the trenches. From noon we had been playing cards, and some of the boys gambled all their pay in advance and lost it. Bill's five francs had to be distributed amongst several members of the platoon.

"It's only five francs, anyway," he said. "Wot matter whether I spend it on cards, wine, or women? I don't care for soldierin' as a profession."

"What is your profession, Bill?" Pryor asked; we never really knew what Bill's civil occupation was, he seemed to know a little of many crafts, but was master of none.

"I've been everything," he replied, employing his little finger in the removal of cigarette ash. "My ole man apprenticed me to a marker of 'ot cross buns, but I 'ad a 'abit of makin' the long end of the cross on the short side, an' got chucked out. Then I learned 'ow to jump through tin plates in order to make them nutmeg graters, but left that job after sticking plump in the middle of a plate. I had to stop there for three days without food or drink. They were thinnin' me out, see![219] Then I was a draughts manager at a bank, and shut the ventilators; after that I was an electric mechanic; I switched the lights on and off at night and mornin'; now I'm a professional gambler, I lose all my tin."

"You're also a soldier," I said.

"Course, I am," Bill replied. "I can present hipes by numbers, and knock the guts out of sandbags at five hundred yards."


We did not leave the village until eight o'clock. It was now very dark and had begun to rain, not real rain, but a thin drizzle which mixed up with the flashes of guns, the glow of star-shells, the long tremulous glimmer of flashlights, the blood red blaze of haystacks afire near Givenchy, threw a sombre haze over our line of march. Even through the haze, star-shells showed brilliant in their many different colours, red, green, and electric white. The French send up a beautiful light which bursts into four different flames that burn standing high in mid-air for five minutes; another, a parachute star, holds the sky for three minutes, and almost blots its more remote sisters from the heavens. The English and the Germans are content to fling rockets across and observe one another's lines while these flare out their brief meteoric life. The firing-line was about five miles away; the star-lights seemed to rise and fall just beyond an adjacent spinney, so deceptive are they.

Part of our journey ran along the bank of a canal; there had been some heavy fighting the night previous, and the wounded were still coming down by barges, only those who are badly hurt come this way, the less serious cases go by motor ambulance from dressing station to hospital—those who are damaged slightly in arm or head[220] generally walk. Here we encountered a party of men marching in single file with rifles, skeleton equipment, picks and shovels. In the dark it was impossible to distinguish the regimental badge.

"Oo are yer?" asked Bill, who, like a good many more of us, was smoking a cigarette contrary to orders.

"The Camberwell Gurkhas," came the answer. "Oo are yer?"

"The Chelesa Cherubs," said Bill. "Up workin'?"

"Doin' a bit between the lines," answered one of the working party. "Got bombed out and were sent back."

"Lucky dogs, goin' back for a kip (sleep)."

"'Ad two killed and seven wounded."


"Good luck, boys," said the disappearing file as the darkness swallowed up the working party.

The pace was a sharp one. Half a mile back from the firing-line we turned off to the left and took our way by a road running parallel to the trenches. We had put on our waterproof capes, our khaki overcoats had been given up a week before.

The rain dripped down our clothes, our faces and our necks, each successive star-light showed the water trickling down our rifle butts and dripping to the roadway. Stoner slept as he marched, his hand in Kore's. We often move along in this way, it is quite easy, there is lullaby in the monotonous step, and the slumbrous crunching of nailed boots on gravel.

We turned off the road where it runs through the rubble and scattered bricks, all that remains of the village of Givenchy, and took our way across a wide field. The field was under water in the wet season, and a brick pathway had been built across it. Along this path we took our way. A strong breeze had risen and was swishing our waterproofs about our bodies; the darkness was[221] intense, I had to strain my eyes to see the man in front, Stoner. In the darkness he was a nebulous dark bulk that sprang into bold relief when the star-lights flared in front. When the flare died out we stumbled forward into pitch dark nothingness. The pathway was barely two feet across, a mere tight-rope in the wide waste, and on either side nothing stood out to give relief to the desolate scene; over us the clouds hung low, shapeless and gloomy, behind was the darkness, in front when the star-lights made the darkness visible they only increased the sense of solitude.

We stumbled and fell, rose and fell again, our capes spreading out like wings and our rifles falling in the mud. The sight of a man or woman falling always makes me laugh. I laughed as I fell, as Stoner fell, as Mervin, Goliath, Bill, or Pryor fell. Sometimes we fell singly, again in pairs, often we fell together a heap of rifles, khaki, and waterproof capes. We rose grumbling, spitting mud and laughing. Stoner was very unfortunate, a particle of dirt got into his eye, almost blinding him. Afterwards he crawled along, now and again getting to his feet, merely to fall back into his earthy position. A rifle fire opened on us from the front, and bullets whizzed past our ears, voices mingled with the ting of searching bullets.

"Anybody hurt?"

"No, all right so far."

"Stoner's down."

"He's up again."

"Blimey, it's a balmy."

"Mervin's crawling on his hands and knees."

"Nark the doin's,' ye're on my water proof. Let go!"

"Goliath's down."

"Are you struck, Goliath?"

"No, I wish to heaven I was," muttered the giant,[222] bulking up in the flare of a searchlight, blood dripping from his face showed where he had been scratched as he stumbled.

We got safely into the trench and relieved the Highland Light Infantry. The place was very quiet, they assured us, it is always the same. It has become trench etiquette to tell the relieving battalion that it is taking over a cushy position. By this trench next morning we found six newly made graves, telling how six Highlanders had met their death, killed in action.


Next morning as I was looking through a periscope at the enemy's trenches, and wondering what was happening behind their sandbag line, a man from the sanitary squad came along sprinkling the trench with creosote and chloride of lime.

"Seein' anything?" he asked.

"Not much," I answered, "the grass is so high in front that I can see nothing but the tips of the enemy's parapets. There's some work for you here," I said.


"Under your feet," I told him. "The floor is soft as putty and smells vilely. Perhaps there is a dead man there. Last night I slept by the spot and it turned me sick."

"Have you an entrenchin' tool?"

I handed him the implement, he dug into the ground and presently unearthed a particle of clothing, five minutes later a boot came to view, then a second; fifteen minutes assiduous labour revealed an evil-smelling bundle of clothing and decayed flesh. I still remained an onlooker, but changed my position on the banquette.

"He must have been dead a long time," said the[223] sanitary man, as he flung handfuls of lime on the body, "see his face."

He turned the thing on its back, its face up to the sky. The features were wonderfully well-preserved; the man might have fallen the day before. The nose pinched and thin, turned up a little at the point, the lips were drawn tight round the gums, the teeth showed dog-like and vicious; the eyes were open and raised towards the forehead, and the whole face was splashed with clotted blood. A wound could be seen on the left temple, the fatal bullet had gone through there.

"He was killed in the winter," said the sanitary man, pointing at the gloves on the dead soldier's hand. "These trenches were the 'Allemands'' then, and the boys charged 'em. I suppose this feller copped a packet and dropped into the mud and was tramped down."

"Who is he?" I asked.


The man with the chloride of lime opened the tunic and shirt of the dead man and brought out an identity disc.

"Irish," he said, "Munster Fusiliers. What's this?" he asked, taking a string of beads with a little shiny crucifix on the end of it, from the dead man's neck.

"It's his rosary," I said, and my mind saw in a vivid picture a barefooted boy going over the hills of Corrymeela to morning Mass, with his beads in his hand. On either side rose the thatched cabins of the peasantry, the peat smoke curling from the chimneys, the little boreens running through the bushes, the brown Irish bogs, the heather in blossom, the turf stacks, the laughing colleens....

"Here's a letter," said the sanitary man; "it was posted last Christmas. It's from a girl, too."


He commenced reading:—

"My dear Patrick,—I got your letter yesterday, and whenever I was my lone the day I was always reading it. I wish the black war was over and you back again—we all at home wish that, and I suppose yourself wishes it as well; I was up at your house last night; there's not much fun in it now. I read the papers to your mother, and me and her was looking at a map. But we didn't know where you were so we could only make guesses. Your mother and me is making the Rounds of the Cross for you, and I am always thinking of you in my prayers. You'll be having the parcel I sent before you get this letter. I hope it's not broken or lost. The socks I sent were knitted by myself, three pairs of them, and I've put the holy water on them. Don't forget to put them on when your feet get wet, at home you never used to bother about anything like that; just tear about the same in wet as dry. But you'll take care of yourself now, won't you: and not get killed? It'll be a grand day when you come back, and God send the day to come soon! Send a letter as often as you can; I myself will write you one every day, and I'll pray to the Holy Mother to take care of you."

We buried him behind the parados, and placed the rosary round the arms of the cross which was erected over him. On the following day one of our men went out to see the grave, and while stooping to place some flowers on it he got shot through the head. That evening he was buried beside the Munster Fusilier.

(Patrick MacGill tells many heart stories of the trenches in "The Red Horizon." He tells of "The Night Before the Trenches"; "A Dugout Banquet"; "A Nocturnal Adventure"; "Everyday Life at the Front"; "The Women of France"—his genius is immortalizing every human phase of the War.)


[17] All numerals relate to stories herein told—not to chapters from original sources.



From Graves of the Marne to Hills of the Meuse

Told by Frank H. Simonds, Famous American War Historian

Mr. Simonds is the first great historian that this war produced. He traveled over the battlefields to record for history the world-revolutionizing events as they were taking place. As the intimate friend of Governments, General Staffs and diplomats, he gathered his knowledge first hand and became recognized throughout America and Europe as the historical authority on the war's strategy. His judgments were weighed by such men as President Poincaré and Lloyd-George—and followed with interest by the officers of the armies. Mr. Simonds had been studying military strategy for many years before the war; he was an authority on the Napoleonic campaigns—but it was not until the Great War that the "man and the opportunity met." He was then an editorial writer on the New York Sun, where his first prophetic editorials gained him immediate recognition. He later became associate editor of the New York Tribune. His reviews of the war began to appear in the American Review of Reviews, for whom he produced his great five-volume "History of the World War"—a work for the generations. We can tell here but one of his brilliant stories—his "Visit to Verdun."


My road to Verdun ran through the Elysée Palace, and it was to the courtesy and interest of the President of the French Republic that I owed my opportunity to see the battle for the Meuse city at close range. Already through the kindness of the French General Staff I had[226] seen the Lorraine and Marne battlegrounds and had been guided over these fields by officers who had shared in the opening battles that saved France. But Verdun was more difficult; there is little time for caring for the wandering correspondent when a decisive contest is going forward, and quite naturally the General Staff turned a deaf ear to my request.

Through the kindness of one of the many Frenchmen who gave time and effort to make my pilgrimage a success I was at last able to see M. Poincaré. Like our own American President, the French Chief Magistrate is never interviewed, and I mention this audience simply because it was one more and in a sense the final proof for me of the friendliness, the courtesy, the interest that the American will find to-day in France. I had gone to Paris, my ears filled with the warnings of those who told me that it was hard to be an American in Europe, in France, in the present hour. I had gone expecting, or at least fearing, that I should find it so.

Instead, from peasant to President I found only kindness, only gratitude, only a profound appreciation for all that Americans had individually done for France in the hour of her great trial. These things and one thing more I found: a very intense desire that Americans should be able to see for themselves; the Frenchmen will not talk to you of what France has done, is doing; he shrinks from anything that might suggest the imitation of the German method of propaganda. In so far as it is humanly possible he would have you see the thing for yourself and testify out of your own mouth.

Thus it came about that all my difficulties vanished when I had been permitted to express to the President my desire to see Verdun and to go back to America—I was sailing within the week—able to report what I had seen with my own eyes of the decisive battle still going[227] forward around the Lorraine city. Without further delay, discussion, it was promised that I should go to Verdun by motor, that I should go cared for by the French military authorities and that I should be permitted to see all that one could see at the moment of the contest.

We left Paris in the early afternoon; my companions were M. Henri Ponsot, chief of the Press Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and M. Hugues le Roux, a distinguished Frenchman of letters well known to many Americans. To start for the battlefield from a busy, peaceful city, to run for miles through suburbs as quiet and lacking in martial aspect as the regions beyond the Harlem, at home, was a thing that seemed almost unreal; but only for a brief moment, for war has come very near to Paris, and one may not travel far in Eastern France without seeing its signs.

In less than an hour we were passing the rear of the line held by the British at the Battle of the Marne, and barely sixty minutes after we had passed out through the Vincennes gate we met at Courtacon the first of the ruined villages that for two hundred miles line the roadways that lead from the capital to Lorraine and Champagne. Suddenly in the midst of a peaceful countryside, after passing a score of undisturbed villages, villages so like one another, you come to one upon which the storm has burst, and instead of snug houses, smiling faces, the air of contentment and happiness that was France, there is only a heap of ruins, houses with their roofs gone, their walls torn by shell fire, villages abandoned partially or wholly, contemporary Pompeiis, overtaken by the Vesuvius of Krupp.


Coincidentally there appear along the roadside, in the[228] fields, among the plough furrows, on every side, the crosses that mark the graves of those who died for France—or for Germany. Along the slope you may mark the passage of a charge by these crosses; those who fell were buried as they lay, French and Germans with equal care. Indeed, there is a certain pride visible in all that the French do for their dead foes. Alongside a hamlet wantonly burned, burned by careful labor and with German thoroughness; in villages where you will be told of nameless atrocities and shameful killings, you will see the German graves, marked by neat crosses, surrounded by sod embankments, marked with plaques of black and white; the French are marked by plaques of red, white and blue, and the latter invariably decorated with a flag and flowers.

Once you have seen these graves by the roadside going east you will hardly go a mile in two hundred which has not its graves. From the environs of Meaux, a scant twenty miles from Paris, to the frontier at the Seille, beyond Nancy, there are graves and more graves, now scattered, now crowded together where men fought hand to hand. Passing them in a swift-moving auto, they seem to march by you; there is the illusion of an arrow advancing on the hillside, until at last, beyond Nancy, where the fighting was so terrible, about little villages such as Corbessaux, you come to the great common graves, where a hundred or two hundred men have been gathered, where the trenches now levelled are but long graves, and you read, "Here rest 179 French soldiers," or across the road, "Here 196 Germans."

Take a map of France and from a point just south of Paris draw a straight line to the Vosges; twenty or thirty miles to the north draw another. Between the two is the black district of the Marne and Nancy battles. It is the district of ruined villages, destroyed farms; it is the[229] region where every hillside—so it will seem to the traveler—is marked by these pathetic crosses. It is a region in which the sense of death and destruction is abroad. Go forty miles north again and draw two more lines, and this is the region not of the death and destruction of yesterday, but of to-day; this is the front, where the graves are still in the making, the region of the Oise to the Meuse, from Noyon to Verdun.

On this day our route led eastward through the villages which in September, 1914, woke from at least a century of oblivion, from the forgetting that followed Napoleon's last campaign in France to a splendid but terrible ten days: Courtacon, Sézanne, La-Fère Champenoise, Vitry-le-François, the region where Franchet d'Esperey and Foch fought, where the "Miracle of the Marne" was performed. Mile after mile the countryside files by, the never changing impression of a huge cemetery, the hugest in the world, the stricken villages, now and then striving to begin again, a red roof here and there telling of the first counter offensive of peace, of construction made against the whirlwind that had come and gone.


Always, too, nothing but old men and women, these and children, working in the broad fields, still partially cultivated, but no longer the fields of that perfectly cared for France of the other peace days. Women and children at the plough, old men bent double by age still spending such strength as is left in the tasks that war has set for them. This is the France behind the front, and, aside from the ruined villages and graves, the France that stretches from the Pyrenees to the Marne, a France from which youth and manhood are gone, in which age and childhood remain with the women. Yet in this land we[230] were passing how much of the youth and manhood of France and Germany was buried in the graves the crosses demonstrated at every kilometer.

But a hundred miles east of Paris there begins a new world. The graves, the shell-cursed villages, remain, but this is no longer the France of the Marne fighting and of the war of two years ago. At Vitry-le-François you pass almost without warning into the region which is the back of the front of to-day, the base of all the line of fire from Rheims to the Meuse, and suddenly along the road appear the canvas guideposts which bear the terse warning, "Verdun." You pass suddenly from ancient to contemporary history, from the killing of other years to the killing that is of to-day—the killing and the wounding—and along the hills where there are still graves there begin to appear Red Cross tents and signs, and ambulances pass you bearing the latest harvest.

And now every village is a garrison town. For a hundred miles there have been only women and old men, but now there are only soldiers; they fill the streets; they crowd the doorways of the houses. The fields are filled with tents, with horses, with all the impedimenta of an army. The whole countryside is a place of arms. Every branch of French service is about you—Tunisians, Turcos, cavalry, the black, the brown and the white—the men who yesterday or last week were in the first line, who rest and will return to-morrow or next day to fight again.

Unmistakably, too, you feel that this is the business of war; you are in a factory, a machine shop; if the product is death and destruction, it is no less a matter of machinery, not of romance, of glamour. The back of the front is a place of work and of rest for more work, but of parade, of the brilliant, of the fascinating there is just nothing. Men with bright but plainly weary faces, not[231] young men, but men of thirty and above, hard bitten by their experience, patently fit, fed, but somehow related to the ruins and the destruction around them, they are all about you, and wherever now you see a grave you will discover a knot of men standing before it talking soberly. Wherever you see the vestiges of an old trench, a hill that was fought for at this time twenty months ago, you will see new practice trenches and probably the recruits ... the boys that are waiting for the call, listening to an officer explaining to them what has been done here, the mistake or the good judgment revealed by the event. For France is training the youth that remains to her on the still recent battlefields and in the presence of those who died to keep the ground.


Just as the darkness came we passed St. Dizier and entered at last upon the road to Verdun, the one road that is the life line of the city. For to understand the real problem of the defence of Verdun you must realize that there is lacking to the city any railroad. In September, 1914, the Germans took St. Mihiel and cut the railway coming north along the Meuse. On their retreat from the Marne the soldiers of the Crown Prince halted at Montfaucon and Varennes, and their cannon have commanded the Paris-Verdun-Metz railroad ever since. Save for a crazy narrow-gauge line wandering along the hill slopes, climbing by impossible grades, Verdun is without rail communication.

It was this that made the defence of the town next to impossible. Partially to remedy the defect the French had reconstructed a local highway running from St. Dizier by Bar-le-Duc to Verdun beyond the reach of German[232] artillery. To-day an army of a quarter of a million of men, the enormous parks of heavy artillery and field guns—everything is supplied by this one road and by motor transport.

Coming north from St. Dizier we entered this vast procession. Mile after mile the caravan stretched on, fifty miles with hardly a break of a hundred feet between trucks. Paris 'buses, turned into vehicles to bear fresh meat; new motor trucks built to carry thirty-five men and traveling in companies, regiments, brigades; wagons from the hood of which soldiers, bound to replace the killed and wounded of yesterday, looked down upon you calmly but unsmilingly. From St. Dizier to Verdun the impression was of that of the machinery by which logs are carried to the saw in a mill. You felt unconsciously, yet unmistakably, that you were looking, not upon automobiles, not upon separate trucks, but upon some vast and intricate system of belts and benches that were steadily, swiftly, surely carrying all this vast material, carrying men and munitions and supplies, everything human and inanimate, to that vast grinding mill which was beyond the hills, the crushing machine which worked with equal remorselessness upon men and upon things.

Now and again, too, over the hills came the Red Cross ambulances; they passed you returning from the front and bringing within their carefully closed walls the finished product, the fruits of the day's grinding, or a fraction thereof. And about the whole thing there was a sense of the mechanical rather than the human, something that suggested an automatic, a machine-driven, movement; it was as if an unseen system of belts and engines and levers guided, moved, propelled this long procession upward and ever toward the mysterious front where the knives or the axes or the grinding stones did their work.


Night came down upon us along the road and brought a new impression. Mile on mile over the hills and 'round the curves, disappearing in the woods, reappearing on the distant summits of the hills, each showing a rear light that wagged crazily on the horizon, this huge caravan flowed onward, while in the villages and on the hillsides campfires flashed up and the faces or the figures of the soldiers could be seen now clearly and now dimly. But all else was subordinated to the line of moving transports. Somewhere far off at one end of the procession there was battle; somewhere down below at the other end there was peace. There all the resources, the life blood, the treasure in men and in riches of France were concentrating and collecting, were being fed into this motor fleet, which like baskets on ropes was carrying it forward to the end of the line and then bringing back what remained, or for the most part coming back empty, for more—for more lives and more treasure.

It was full night when our car came down the curved grades into Bar-le-Duc, halted at the corner, where soldiers performed the work of traffic policemen and steadily guided the caravan toward the road marked by a canvas sign lighted within by a single candle and bearing the one word, "Verdun." All night, too, the rumble of the passing transport filled the air and the little hotel shook with the jar of the heavy trucks, for neither by day nor by night is there a halt in the motor transport, and the sound of this grinding is never low.


It was little more than daylight when we took the road again, with a thirty-mile drive to Verdun before us. Almost immediately we turned into the Verdun route we met again the caravan of automobiles, of camions, as the French say. It still flowed on without break. Now, too,[234] we entered the main road, the one road to Verdun, the road that had been built by the French army against just such an attack as was now in progress. The road was as wide as Fifth Avenue, as smooth as asphalt—a road that, when peace comes, if it ever does, will delight the motorist. Despite the traffic it had to bear, it was in perfect repair, and soldiers in uniform sat by the side breaking stone and preparing metal to keep it so.

The character of the country had now changed. We were entering the region of the hills, between the Aisne and the Meuse, a country reminiscent of New England. Those hills are the barrier which beyond the Meuse, under the names of the Côte de Meuse, have been the scene of so much desperate fighting. The roads that sidled off to the east bore battle names, St. Mihiel, Troyon, and the road that we followed was still marked at every turn with the magic word "Verdun." Our immediate objective was Souilly, the obscure hill town twenty miles, perhaps, south of the front, from which Sarrail had defended Verdun in the Marne days and from which Pétain was now defending Verdun against a still more terrible attack.

And in France to-day one speaks only of Verdun and Pétain. Soldiers have their day; Joffre, Castelnau, Foch, all retain much of the affection and admiration they have deserved, but at the moment it is the man who has held Verdun that France thinks of, and there was the promise for us that at Souilly we should see the man whose fame had filled the world in the great and terrible weeks. Upward and downward over the hills, through more ruined villages, more hospitals, more camps, our march took us until after a short hour we came to Souilly, general headquarters of the Army of Verdun, of Pétain, the center of the world for the moment.

Few towns have done less to prepare for greatness than[235] Souilly. It boasts a single street three inches deep in the clay mud of the spring—a single street through which the Verdun route marches almost contemptuously, the same nest of stone and plaster houses, one story high, houses from which the owners had departed to make room for generals and staff officers. This and one thing more, the Mairie, the town hall, as usual the one pretentious edifice of the French hamlet, and before the stairway of this we stopped and got out.

We were at headquarters. From this little building, devoted for perhaps a century to the business of governing the commune of Souilly, with its scant thousand of people, Pétain was defending Verdun and the fate of an army of 250,000 men at the least. In the upstairs room, where the town councillors had once debated parochial questions, Joffre and Castelnau and Pétain in the terrible days of the opening conflict had consulted, argued, decided—decided the fate of France, so the Germans had said, for they had made the fall of Verdun the assurance of French collapse.

Unconsciously, too, you felt the change in character of the population of this village. There were still the soldiers, the eternal gray-blue uniforms, but there were also men of a different type, men of authority. In the street your guides pointed out to you General Herr, the man who had designed and planned and accomplished the miracle of the motor transport that had saved Verdun—with the aid of the brave men fighting somewhere not far beyond the nearest hills. He had commanded at Verdun when the attack came, and without hesitation he had turned over his command to Pétain, his junior in service and rank before the war, given up the glory and become the superintendent of transport. Men spoke to you of the fine loyalty of that action with unconcealed admiration.


And then out of the remoteness of Souilly there came a voice familiar to an American. Bunau-Varilla, the man of Panama, wearing the uniform of a commandant and the Croix de Guerre newly bestowed for some wonderful engineering achievement, stepped forward to ask for his friends and yours of the old "Sun paper." I had seen him last in "The Sun" office in the days when the war had just broken out and he was about to sail for home; in the days when the Marne was still unfought and he had breathed hope then as he spoke with confidence now.

Presently there arrived the two officers whose duty it was to take me to Verdun, Captain Henri Bourdeaux, a man of letters known to all Frenchmen; Captain Madelin, an historian, already documented in the history of the war making under his own eyes....


"Were we to see Verdun?" This was the first problem. I had been warned two days before that the bombardment was raging and that it was quite possible that it would be unsafe to go further. But the news was reassuring; Verdun was tranquil. "And Pétain?" One could not yet say.

Even as we spoke there was a stirring in the crowd, general saluting, and I caught a glimpse of the commander-in-chief as he went quickly up the staircase. For the rest we must wait. But not for very long; in a few minutes there came the welcome word that General Pétain would see us, would see the stray American correspondent.

Since I saw Pétain in the little Mairie at Souilly I have seen many photographs of him, but none in any real measure give the true picture of the defender of Verdun. He saw us in his office, the bare upstairs room, two years[237] ago the office of the Mayor of Souilly. Think of the Selectmen's office in any New England village and the picture will be accurate. A bare room, a desk, one chair, a telephone, nothing on the walls but two maps, one of the military zone, one of the actual front and positions of the Verdun fighting. A bleak room, barely heated by the most primitive of stoves. From the single window one looked down on the cheerless street along which lumbered the caravan of autos. On the pegs against the wall hung the General's hat and coat, weather-stained, faded, the clothes of a man who worked in all weathers. Of staff officers, of uniforms, of color there was just nothing; of war there was hardly a hint.

At the door the commander-in-chief met us, shook hands and murmured clearly and slowly, with incisive distinctness, the formal words of French greeting; he spoke no English. Instantly there was the suggestion of Kitchener, not of Kitchener as you see him in flesh, but in photographs, the same coldness, decision. The smile that accompanied the words of welcome vanished and the face was utterly motionless, expressionless. You saw a tall, broad-shouldered man, with every appearance of physical strength, a clear blue eye, looking straight forward and beyond.

My French companion, M. Le Roux, spoke with Pétain. He had just come from Joffre and he told an interesting circumstance. Pétain listened. He said now and then "yes" or "no." Nothing more. Watching him narrowly you saw that occasionally his eyes twitched a little, the single sign of fatigue that the long strain of weeks of responsibility had brought.

It was hard to believe, looking at this quiet, calm, silent man, that you were in the presence of the soldier who had won the Battle of Champagne, the man whom the war had surprised in the last of his fifties, a Colonel,[238] a teacher of war rather than a soldier, a professor like Foch.

No one of Napoleon's marshals had commanded as many men as obeyed this Frenchman, who was as lacking in the distinction of military circumstances as our own Grant. Napoleon had won all his famous victories with far fewer troops than were directed from the telephone on the table yonder.

Every impression of modern war that comes to one actually in touch with it is a destruction of illusion: this thing is a thing of mechanism rather than of brilliance; perhaps Pétain has led a regiment, a brigade, or a division to the charge. You knew instinctively in seeing the man that you would go or come, as he said, but there was neither dash nor fire, nothing of the suggestion of élan; rather there was the suggestion of the commander of a great ocean liner, the man responsible for the lives, this time of hundreds of thousands, not scores, for the safety of France, not of a ship, but the man of machinery and the master of the wisdom of the tides and the weather, not the Ney, or the Murat, not the Napoleon of Arcola. The impression was of a strong man whose life was a life beaten upon by storms; the man on the bridge, to keep to the rather ridiculously inadequate figure, but not by any chance the man on horseback.


My talk, our talk with Pétain was the matter of perhaps five minutes.... Once he had greeted us his face settled into that grim expression that never changed until he smiled his word of good wishes as we left. Yet I have since found that apart from one circumstance which I shall mention in a moment I have remembered those[239] minutes most clearly of all of my Verdun experience. Just as the photograph does not reveal the face of the man, the word does not describe the sense of strength, of responsibility, that he gives.

In a childish sort of way, exactly as one thinks of war as a matter of dash and color and motion, one thinks of the French general as the leader of a cavalry charge or of a forlorn hope of infantry. And the French soldier of this war has not been the man of charge or of dash—not that he has not charged as well as ever in his history, a little more bravely, perhaps, for machine guns are new and something worse than other wars have had. What the French soldier has done has been to stand, to hold, to die not in the onrush but on the spot.

And Pétain in some curious way has fixed in my mind the impression of the new Frenchman, if there be a new one, or perhaps better of the French soldier of to-day, whether he wear the stars of the general or undecorated "horizon" blue of the Poilu. The look that I saw in his eyes, the calm, steady, utterly emotionless looking straight forward, I saw everywhere at the front and at the back of the front. It embodied for me an enduring impression of the spirit and the poise of the French soldier of the latest and most terrible of French struggles. And I confess that, more than all I saw and heard at the front and in Paris, the look of this man convinced me that Verdun would not fall, that France herself would not either weary or weaken.

In Paris, where one may hear anything, there are those that will tell you that Joffre's work is done and that France waits for the man who will complete the tasks; that the strain of the terrible months has wearied the general who won the Battle of the Marne and saved France. They will tell you, perhaps, that Pétain is the man; they will certainly tell you that they hope that the[240] man has been found in Pétain. As to the truth of all this I do not pretend to know.

There was a Kitchener legend in Europe, and I do not think it survives save a little perhaps in corners of England. There was a legend of a man of ice and of iron, a man who made victory out of human material as a man makes a wall of mortar and stone, a man to whom his material was only mortar and stone, even though it were human. This legend has perished so far as Kitchener is concerned, gone with so much that England trusted and believed two years ago, but I find myself thinking now of Pétain as we all thought of Kitchener in his great day.

If I were an officer I should not like to come to the defender of Verdun with the confession of failure. I think I should rather meet the Bavarians in the first-line trenches, but I should like to know that when I was obeying orders I was carrying out a minor detail of something Pétain had planned; I should expect it to happen, the thing that he had arranged, and I should feel that those clear, steel-blue eyes had foreseen all that could occur, foreseen calmly and utterly, whether it entailed the death of one or a thousand men, of ten thousand men if necessary, and had willed that it should happen.

I do not believe Napoleon's Old Guard would have followed Pétain as they followed Ney. I cannot fancy him in the Imperial uniform, and yet, now that war is a thing of machines, of telephones, of indirect fire and destruction from unseen weapons at remote ranges, now that the whole manner and circumstances of conflict have changed, it is but natural that the general should change, too. Patently, Pétain is of the new, not the old, but no less patently he was the master of it.



We left the little Mairie, entered our machines and slid out swiftly for the last miles, climbed and curved over the final hill and suddenly looked down on a deep, trenchlike valley marching from east to west and carrying the Paris-Verdun-Metz railroad, no longer available for traffic. And as we coasted down the hill we heard the guns ... not steadily, but only from time to time, a distant boom, a faint billowing up of musketry fire. Some three or four miles straight ahead there were the lines of fire, beyond the brown hills that flanked the valley.

At the bottom of the valley we turned east, moved on for a mile and stopped abruptly. The guns were sounding more clearly, and suddenly there was a sense not of soldiers, but of an army. On one side of the road a column was coming toward us, a column of men who were leaving the trenches for a rest, the men who for the recent days had held the first line. Wearily but steadily they streamed by; the mud of the trenches covered their tunics; here and there a man had lost his steel helmet and wore a handkerchief about his head, probably to conceal a slight wound that but for the helmet had killed him.

These men were smiling as they marched; they carried their full equipment and it rattled and tinkled; they carried their guns at all angles, they wore their uniforms in the strangest of disorders; they seemed almost like miners coming from the depths of the earth rather than soldiers returning from a decisive battle, from the hell of modern shell fire.

But it was the line on the other side of the road that held the eye. Here were the troops that were going toward the fire, toward the trenches, that were marching[242] to the sound of the guns, and as one saw them the artillery rumble took on a new distinctness.

Involuntarily I searched the faces of these men as they passed. They were hardly ten feet from me. Platoon after platoon, company after company, whole regiments in columns of fours. And seeing the faces brought an instant shock; they all ... were in the thirties, not the twenties; men still in the prime of strength, of health, but the fathers of families, the men of full manhood.

Almost in a flash the fact came home. This was what all the graves along the road had meant. This was what the battlefields and the glories of the twenty months had spelled—France had sent her youth and it was spent; she was sending her manhood now.

In the line no man smiled and no man straggled; the ranks were closed up and there were neither commands nor any visible sign of authority. These men who were marching to the sound of the guns had been there before. They knew precisely what it meant. Yet you could not but feel that as they went a little wearily, sadly, they marched willingly. They would not have it otherwise. Their faces were the faces of men who had taken the full measure of their own fate.


You had a sense of the loathing, the horror, above all the sadness that was in their hearts that this thing, this war, this destruction had to be. They had come here through all the waste of ruined villages and shell-torn hillsides; all the men that you saw would not measure the cost of a single hour of trench fighting if the real attack began. This these men knew, and the message of the artillery fire, which was only one of unknown terrors[243] for you, was intelligible to the utmost to each of them.

And yet with the weariness there was a certain resignation, a certain patience, a certain sense of comprehending sacrifice that more than all else is France to-day, the true France. This, and not the empty forts, not even the busy guns, was the wall that defended France, this line of men. If it broke there would come thundering down again out of the north all the tornado of destruction that had turned Northeastern France into a waste place and wrecked so much of the world's store of the beautiful and the inspiring.

Somehow you felt that this was in the minds of all these men. They had willed to die that France might live. They were going to a death that sounded ever more clearly as they marched. This death had eaten up all that was young, most of what was young at the least, of France; it might yet consume France, and so these men marched to the sound of the guns.... Instinctively I thought of what Kipling had said to me in London:

"Somewhere over there," he had said, "the thing will suddenly grip your throat and your heart; it will take hold of you as nothing in your life has ever done or ever will." And I know that I never shall forget those lines of quiet, patient, middle-aged men marching to the sound of the guns, leaving at their backs the countless graves that hold the youth of France, the men who had known the Marne, the Yser, Champagne, who had known death for nearly two years, night and day, almost constantly. Yet during the fifteen minutes I watched there was not one order, not one straggler; there was a sense of the regularity with which the blood flows through the human arteries in this tide, and it was the blood of France.



So many people have asked me, I had asked myself, the question before I went to France: "Are they not weary of it? Will the French not give up from sheer exhaustion of strength?" I do not think so, now that I have seen the faces of these hundreds of men as they marched to the trenches beyond Verdun. France may bleed to death, but I do not think that while there are men there will be an end of the sacrifice. No pen or voice can express the horror that these men, that all Frenchmen, have of this war, of all war, the weariness. They hate it; you cannot mistake this; but France marches to the frontier in the spirit that men manned the walls against the barbarians in the other days; there is no other way; it must be.

Over and over again there has come the invariable answer; it would have come from scores and hundreds of these men who passed so near me I could have touched their faded uniforms if I had asked—"It is for France, for civilization; it must be, for there is no other way; we shall die, but with us, with our sacrifice, perhaps this thing will end." You cannot put it in words quite, I do not think even any Frenchman has quite said it, but you can see it, you can feel it, you can understand it, when you see a regiment, a brigade, a division of these men of thirty, some perhaps of forty, going forward to the war they hate and will never quit until that which they love is safe or they and all their race are swallowed up.... Under the crumbling gate of the Verdun fortress ... as we entered a shell burst just behind us and the roar drowned out all else in its sudden and paralyzing crash. It had fallen, so we learned a little later, just where we had been watching the passing troops; it had fallen among them and killed. But an hour or two later, when we[245] repassed the point where it fell, men were still marching by. Other regiments of men were still marching to the sound of the guns, and those who had passed were already over the hills and beyond the river, filing into the trenches in time, so it turned out, to meet the new attack that came with the later afternoon.

I went to Verdun to see the forts, the city, the hills and the topography of a great battle; I went in the hope of describing with a little of clarity what the operation meant as a military affair.... But I shall never be able to describe this thing which was the true Verdun for me—these men, their faces, seen as one heard the shell fire and the musketry rolling, not steadily but intermittently, the men who had marched over the roads that are lined with graves, through villages that are destroyed, who had come of their own will and in calm determination and marched unhurryingly and yet unshrinkingly, the men who were no longer young, who had left behind them all that men hold dear in life, home, wives, children, because they knew that there was no other way.

I can only say to all those who have asked me, "What of France?" this simple thing, that I do not believe the French will ever stop. I do not believe, as the Germans have said, that French courage is abating. I do not believe the Kaiser himself would think this if he had seen these men's faces as they marched toward his guns. I think he would feel as I felt, as one must feel, that these men went willingly, hating war with their whole soul, destitute of passion or anger. I never heard a passionate word in France, because there had entered into their minds, into the mind and heart of a whole race, the belief that what was at stake was the thing that for two thousand years of history has been France.



Stories of American Troops on Road to Front

Told by Lincoln Eyre, with Pershing's Army

It was one of the most dramatic scenes in the world's history when on that twenty-seventh day of June, 1917, the first American Army that ever crossed the seas to Europe stepped foot on the soil of France to join its allies in the war to "make the world safe for democracy." America at last was repaying the debt which it owed France when she crossed the Atlantic to fight with Washington's Army in the American Revolution. The historic scenes are described by Lincoln Eyre, who was attached to the Joffre commission on its tour of triumph in the United States. He is now with the American Army as war correspondent for the New York World, with whose permission this record is made. Copyright, 1917, by Press Publishing Company.


Boulogne, France, June 13, 1917.

Cheering thousands, moved to tears, welcomed General John J. Pershing on his arrival here to-day. The tall, soldierly-appearing figure of Pershing, garbed in the business-like khaki of the American army, was acclaimed as France has seldom acclaimed another in all her history. Frenzied crowds packed the streets to shout their joy and wave the Tricolor of France with the same three colors of the Star Spangled Banner. Gen. Pershing[247] was welcomed at the dock by Gen. Pelletier, representing the French Government and General Headquarters; Commandant Hue, representing the Minister of War; Gen. Lucas, commanding the northern region; Col. Daru, Governor of Lille; the Prefect of the Somme and other public officials.

Pershing arrived at 9:40 o'clock this morning. He was deeply moved by the greeting he received.

"I consider this one of the most important moments in American history," he said. "Our arrival on French soil, constituting as we do the advance guard of an American army, makes us realize to the fullest the importance of America's participation. Our reception has moved us deeply. I can only reaffirm that America has entered the war with the intention of performing her full share—however great or small the future will dictate. Our Allies can depend upon that absolutely."

A small French boy who edged forward in the crowds that greeted the American general was noticed by Pershing. He wanted something and Pershing wanted to know what it was. He came forward and shyly shook hands with the big, smiling American and then asked him to sign an autograph album, proudly displaying the signatures which he had already obtained in it from Marshal Joffre and Field Marshal Haig. Gen. Pershing stopped right there and signed the book.

While Pershing and the commissioned officers of his staff disembarked and were immediately taken away in automobiles, non-commissioned officers and privates—orderlies and attachés to the American General's entourage—swarmed off the vessel and mixed joyously with the crowd at the railway station. There were British Tommies there to welcome their new brothers in arms—and French poilus as well. Hundreds of handshakings—and embraces—marked the meeting of these representatives[248] of three great armies, now pledged to a common purpose.

Boulogne harbor was alive early in the morning awaiting the arrival of the American General and his staff. The first notice that the ship was finally arriving came with the roar of salutes from French patrol boats in the outer harbor. Then the British troopships hastily shifted their anchorage to allow the boat with its all-important cargo to dock at the principal wharf. There a huge American flag was flung to the breeze from the topmost part of the landing stage, while on the dock itself a brilliant, colorful assembly awaited, cheering so that their welcome must have been heard far out over the waters as the boat slowly nosed her way between the whistle-shrieking and gun-barking craft in between.

On the dock were British, French and Belgian officers, formally drawn up in rigid salute as Gen. Pershing first put his foot on French soil and gave evidence in the flesh of America's determination to fight. Rene Besnard, Under Secretary of War, was the Governmental representative at this notable scene. He arrived from Paris and shook hands with the American commander as he stepped ashore. French Government officials formally welcomed Gen. Pershing and his staff in the name of the nation and the Americans were taken to a special train en route for Paris.


Paris, June 13, 1917.

Paris, frantic with enthusiasm, streets massed with throngs waving the American and French flags, greeted Major-Gen. John J. Pershing and his staff here at 6:30 o'clock this evening. Marshal Joffre, former Premier Viviani, Minister of War Painleve, American Ambassador[249] Sharp and a score of other dignitaries greeted the American commander and his officers at the Gare du Nord.

"The living symbol of America's help in the war for civilization."

"The man who will lead the American armies!"

Such were the tumultuous salutes.

Hundreds of thousands thronged the sidewalks from the railway station, the Gare du Nord, to the Hotel Crillon, where Gen. Pershing made his headquarters. From the moment the automobile, in which he rode with Minister of War Painleve and Gen. Pelletier, designated as his honorary aide, moved slowly into the boulevard outside the railway station, until he arrived at his hotel, the cheering was continuous and, if possible, increased in volume, and the crowds fairly smothered the Americans with flowers.

As Gen. Pershing stepped on the railway platform he found awaiting him M. Viviani, Minister Painleve, Marshal Joffre, Gen. Foch, Gen. Dubail, Military Governor of Paris; M. Mithouard, President of the Municipal Council of Paris, and American Ambassador Sharp. M. Mithouard spoke a few words of welcome. A company of infantry was lined up as a guard of honor, and the Republican Guard Band played "The Star Spangled Banner." Gen. Pershing shook hands in the most cordial fashion with M. Viviani and Marshal Joffre and remarked, with a smile:

"It does not seem long since we saw you in Washington."

Then he was escorted to the Painleve automobile. Ahead of it was that occupied by M. Viviani and Ambassador Sharp, and behind one bearing Marshal Joffre and Rene Besnard who had accompanied Gen. Pershing from Boulogne.


From windows the Stars and Stripes were waved by men, women and children. French girls, with flowers bought from their savings, fought for a chance to hurl their offerings into the laps of the astonished Americans. The ride to the Hotel Crillon, in which suites for the General and his chief officers had been reserved, lay through many of the principal streets, and the motors were driven slowly to afford the crowds a good look at the Americans.

Paris, June 14, 1917.

This was Pershing Day in Paris. The cheers which greeted the American general's entry into the city yesterday were re-echoed wherever he appeared to-day. All gloom which has pervaded the city for months seemed to dissipate wherever the tall figure of the American appeared.

When the General appeared on the Place de la Concorde this morning he was wildly cheered by thousands who lined the streets. He was escorted to the Palace of the Elysée with military honors and was presented to President Poincaré, after which he was entertained at breakfast. Other guests were Premier Ribot, Gen. Painleve, Marshal Joffre, Minister Viviani, Ambassador Sharp and many prominent statesmen.

In the afternoon he was escorted to the Chamber of Deputies by Ambassador Sharp. The unexpected appearance of Gen. Pershing in the diplomatic gallery turned a commonplace meeting of the Deputies into a great ovation for the American General.

Premier Ribot, who had been discussing the Greek situation, recognized Gen. Pershing and switched from his speech, saying:

"We are confronted afresh by beholding the United States coming to the rendezvous of the representatives of a free people."


As the Deputies leaped to their feet in honor of the American General, the Premier continued:

"The people of Paris are so sure of themselves that in their acclamation of Gen. Pershing they are writing the first chapter in the history of the constitution of a society of nations."

The Chamber turned with one accord to where Gen. Pershing stood. He bowed his acknowledgments of the Parliamentary greeting. Following Premier Ribot, Foreign Minister Viviani said that "neither pen nor note could do justice to the reception which he and Gen. Joffre were accorded in the United States."

M. Viviani referred to President Wilson as "that great, calm figure in whose untrembling hands there rests, with Washington and Lincoln, all the grandeur of American history."

A tremendous outburst of applause filled the auditorium when M. Viviani told of how at Chicago, once the center of pro-Germanism, he had been promised that the last American and the last American dollar would be given by the United States that France might restore Alsace-Lorraine.

This morning Gen. Pershing stood with uncovered head at the tomb of Napoleon and paid tribute to one of the world's greatest commanders. With his staff he was received at the Hotel des Invalides by Gen. Niox, the commander, and Gen. Malterre. As the American party entered the spacious grounds leading to the building they encountered a number of veterans. A grizzled soldier of the Crimea saluted. Gen. Pershing stopped and extended his hand, saying:

"It is a great honor for a young soldier like myself to press the hand of an old soldier like yourself who has seen such glorious service."

Gen. Niox conducted the American commander within[252] the vast rotunda, with its walls hung with battle flags, and thence the party proceeded below to the crypt where the sarcophagus of Napoleon reposes. Entrance to the crypt is rigorously limited, and it is seldom that any one is admitted except crowned heads or a former ruler, as in the case of ex-President Roosevelt when he visited Paris.

Gen. Pershing was then conducted to the Artillery Museum, where precious relics of Napoleon are preserved. He was particularly interested in Napoleon's sword and Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor. An hour was spent in the building.

To-night Gen. Painleve gave a dinner in honor of Gen. Pershing. Among the guests were famous French soldiers, Allied diplomats, residents in Paris, and French statesmen.


Paris, July 1, 1917.

Paris was overwhelmed with joy this morning at the first published announcements that all of the first contingent of United States troops had landed safely in France. It was not long, either, until the city got a sight of American sailors, marines and even a few regulars—soldiers assigned to duty with various officers who have come immediately to Paris from the port of landing.

Already the French are stirred to exultation and a realization of the victory which they feel sure to come, now that America has its fighting men so near the front. The fraternization of the Americans with the English, Canadians, Australians and French is remarkable, and the new arrivals are being received everywhere with open arms and open hearts. Last month nearly all the British[253] troops not having near relatives in the British Isles have been coming to Paris on leave, and so the newly landed Americans find plenty of comrades able to speak their common language.

The Yankees warmed up particularly to the Canadians, among whom are many Americans, but the greatest surprise came at the way the French officers and poilus fraternize with their new allies. The appearance of American naval officers in white duck summer uniforms in the smart Paris restaurants causes gasps of astonished delight.

The French press has extended an enthusiastic greeting to the American troops. The Temps dwells upon their youth, vigor, and military aspect, and the completeness of their equipment.

The Journal des Debats says: "The grand democracy of the New World does nothing by halves. It entered this vast conflict in full consciousness of the ends to be attained and with full resolution to neglect nothing in attaining those ends. What we witness to-day in the arrival of the Americans on French soil is magnificent proof of this fact. Two months and a half after the Americans entered the war their hardy troops arrive in solid lines upon the European front, and it is not a modest advance guard. On the contrary, the forces which have just landed on our shore surpass anything which could reasonably have been expected within so short a time. When we recall the length of time it took England to move her forces to South Africa, and, similarly, the length of time it took us to move our troops to Salonica this remarkable accomplishment by the Americans is seen in its full significance. The material they bring is on the same abundant scale as their troops. Those who have been doubtful whether the American concourse would come in time have failed to estimate at its just value the tremendous[254] moral and material American power that German brutality has mobilized against itself. And what we see to-day is only the commencement. Each day henceforth will increase the weight of that formidable sword thrown into the balance by the great Republic of America. Who can, even in Germany, be blind to the inevitable consequences of the events we are now witnessing?"


Paris, July 4, 1917.

All France celebrated the Fourth of July. Paris turned out a crowd that no American city ever surpassed for size, enthusiasm and profusion of Stars and Stripes. A battalion of the first American expeditionary force about to leave for training behind the battle front had its first official review in France and was the centre of the celebration. Everywhere the American flag was flying from public buildings, hotels and residences and from automobiles, cabs and carts, horses' bridles—even the lapels of pedestrians' coats displayed it.

The crowds began early to gather at vantage points. Rue de Varenne was choked long before 8 o'clock this morning, when the Republican Guards Band carried out a field reveille under Gen. Pershing's windows. All routes toward the Hotel des Invalides were thronged even before Pershing's men turned out. About the Court of Honor where the Americans were drawn up with a detachment of French Territorials, the buildings overflowed with crowded humanity to the roofs. All around the khaki-clad men from the United States were trophies and souvenirs of war—German cannon, airplanes, machine guns and many appliances for burning suffocating gas. Behind them in the chapel separating the Court of[255] Honor from Napoleon's tomb were German battle flags, trophies of the Marne and Alsace, beside Prussian banners of 1870.

In the chapel before the tomb of Napoleon, Gen. Pershing received American flags and banners from the hands of President Poincaré. Almost the entire history of the struggles of the French against the Germans looked down upon the scene from paintings portraying heroic incidents in French battles from Charlemagne to Napoleon. There was a sharp contrast between the khaki and plain wide brimmed hats of Pershing's men and the gay dress of d'Artagnan's plumed musketeers and Napoleon's grenadiers.

The enthusiasm of the vast crowd reached its highest pitch when Gen. Pershing, escorted by President Poincaré, Marshal Joffre and other high French dignitaries, passed along reviewing the lines of the Americans drawn up in square formations. Cheering broke out anew when the American band struck up "The Marseillaise," and again when the French band played "The Star-Spangled Banner" and Pershing received the flags from the President.

"Vive les Americains!" "Vive Pershing!" "Vive les Etats-Unis!" shouted over and over by the crowd greeted the American standard bearers as they advanced.

The crowd that had waited three hours to witness the ceremony that was over in fifteen minutes, surged toward the exit cheering frantically after the departing Americans and trying to break through a cordon of police troops. Outside a greater crowd that covered the entire Esplanade des Invalides took up the cheers as Pershing's men marched away. The crowd in the Court of Honor tried to follow the soldiers, but the throng outside was so dense, and the exits so small that it was half an hour before the people could get out. The Cours de la Reine[256] from Alexander Bridge to the Place de la Concorde was black with people all of whom seemed to want to rush up to the men and embrace them as they marched by. When the last man had passed great crowds surged from both sides to the middle of the street, breaking through the police military guards and blocking traffic for a long time behind the marching column.

More people were massed in the Tuileries Gardens than on the Esplanade des Invalides. Few of them could get a glimpse of the parade but all joined in a tremendous outburst of cheering when music from the Republican Guard Band announced the approach of the troops, and the cheering did not diminish in volume until the last man in the line had disappeared from view of the Gardens down the Rue de Rivoli.



Experiences in the Flight to Albania

Told by Gordon Gordon-Smith, with the Serbian Army

Gordon-Smith was with the armies of King Peter in the flight into Albania. He stood beside the forlorn king as he fled with his people before the German-Austrian-Bulgarian hordes. His accounts of the hardships and heroism of the Serbs is the first to reach the world. He tells about the tragic exodus through the mountain passes—men, women and children; the babes and the feeble on the procession of bullock carts; the wolves howling through the night and gnawing at the bodies of the dead along the road. A few of these stories are told here by permission of the New York Tribune, for whom he acted as special correspondent in the Balkans.


The headquarters of the Serbian Army left Krusevatz for Rashka, as the German advance menaced its retreat from the former town if longer delayed. With my colleague of the Petit Parisien I determined to push forward to join the Second Army, which was opposing the enemy's advance in the valley of the Morava.

The roads were in a frightful condition. They were, for the most part, mere cart tracks and perfect seas of mud. The carriage half the time was ploughing through two feet of tenacious clay. Twice it stuck fast up to the axles in mud, and was only extricated with the friendly aid of a passing bullock team. Good horses are no longer to be had in Serbia; they have all been requisitioned for the army.


One of our horses, a giraffe-like chestnut, is an ex-cavalry horse of the Austrian army and bears the mark of a wound from a shell splinter. It is named Julius. Its partner (which I have named Cæsar) is a flea-bitten gray, somewhat short in the wind. Both regard Serbian mud and the effort it entails on them with profound disapproval.

Just at the point where the road from Krusevatz joins the main road running to Stalatz I came across half a dozen British soldiers belonging to the heavy battery which defended Belgrade. They were seated at the roadside preparing the inevitable pot of tea without which Tommy Atkins's happiness is not complete.

They told me their battery was en route for Nish and that the guns had already been entrained at Stalatz. They were covering the intervening sixty kilometres in a couple of bullock carts. They were profoundly ignorant of what was happening in Serbia or the outside world, but were correspondingly cheerful.

They insisted on us sharing their tea, and produced a pot of the equally inevitable marmalade, which they proudly declared was one of the few objects which had survived the bombardment of Belgrade. I left them loading up their wagon and giving orders to their drivers in weird but apparently effective Serbian.

It was dark when we reached Chichivatz, the first stage on our journey. The problem was to find quarters and food. Every village behind the front is filled to overflowing with the fugitive population from the country held by the Germans. Every public edifice is crammed; people sleep on straw, twenty in a room, in every available house. At the village inn the food supply resolved itself into the inevitable "Schnitzel," which in the present instance was a badly burnt piece of pork. We were, however, fortunate enough to find the local station-master[259] at the inn, who hospitably offered us a bedroom in the railway station.

When we got there we noticed that he had already begun to pack up ready to leave. With him was a young official of the Ministry of Commerce, who had been sent to destroy the stores and rolling stock....

As fast as the Germans advance in the north and the Bulgarians in the south the locomotives and rolling stock are accumulated on the only section of the line now in Serbian hands; that is the 80 kilometres between Chichivatz and Nish.

When everything is lost on this section the Serbian authorities fill the whole track with rolling stock from one end to the other and blow up all the bridges, so as to render the line unworkable. The new American engines, which were only delivered this year, have been placed in a long tunnel on a side line, and each end of the tunnel blown up, so as to entomb them undamaged....

Seven Serbian divisions opposing eighteen German divisions were odds that not even the bravery of King Peter's army could withstand. Train after train rolled through the station loaded with military stores and packed with fleeing peasants.


Next morning the station master roused me at 7:30 o'clock with the words, "The Germans are coming!" From his tone one could have supposed the cavalry were at the outskirts.

The real reason, I soon discovered, was his desire that I should evacuate my sleeping quarters, as an ox wagon was already at the door to transport the furniture to a place of safety.


We determined to leave the carriage to ride to the front, as a carriage, in a sudden retreat, is apt to be cumbersome. We accordingly saddled the horses and rode to Parachine, twenty kilometers distant.

Parachine we found in a state of considerable excitement. The thunder of the guns drawing nearer and nearer gave evidence of the approach of the enemy. The battle was raging about four miles outside the town. The Second Army held the heights on both sides of the valley, opposed to a force of nearly double its strength....

As the staff of the Second Army was expected to arrive in the town that evening we determined to remain over night at Parachine. With thirty thousand refugees in a town of twelve thousand inhabitants it was no easy matter to find a room, but the Mayor kindly had a deserted house broken open for us, and also, which was even more important, found food and stabling for our horses. Next morning the people of the next-door house awakened us with the news that the Germans were attacking the town, and that infantry fire was clearly audible.

When we got out we found the Serbian baggage train pouring through the town—a clear sign that the retreat had begun. The town was in wild excitement for two reasons—firstly, on account of the approach of the Germans, and, secondly, because orders had been given to distribute to the inhabitants everything in the military stores to prevent them falling into the hands of the enemy. As a result I saw hundreds of people going about carrying a dozen pairs of boots, uniforms, under-clothing, bread, biscuits, etc.

At midday the provision and munition columns, having safely cleared the town, General Stephanovitch and his staff, after placing a strong rear guard to delay the[261] German advance as long as possible, left for Rajan, a town about twenty miles distant.

The wildest reports were current. But it is no use arguing with panic-stricken people. In spite of my assurances, they went on loading carts and wagons in feverish haste and, in spite of the pouring rain, went off in the darkness. The curious thing is that not one in ten knew where they were going. The Germans were coming from the north, therefore they fled south.


For a month past I have met hundreds of thousands of such refugees, who wander on aimlessly from town to town, driving flocks and herds before them, always trying to keep a couple of days march in advance of the invader.

It goes without saying that they add enormously to the difficulties of the military situation. They block the roads and overcrowd towns and villages. When their food supplies run down they are face to face with starvation. And when one remembers that a similar exodus is going on from the south before the Bulgarian invader the horror of the situation may be imagined....

The whole of Old Serbia, the Serbia of King Milan, is in the hands of the Germans, while the Bulgarians are masters of nearly the whole of Serbian Macedonia.

I had hardly been asleep half an hour when I was aroused by a tremendous explosion, followed a quarter of an hour later by a succession of minor explosions. These were caused by the blowing up of the ammunition wagons. The crimson glare announced that the scores of cars on the railway siding were ablaze.


At the same time an engine just opposite my windows began whistling stridently. Downstairs in the courtyard I found the whole population, male and female, old and young, busy looting the carriages and trucks not yet a prey to the flames.

Half a dozen wagons filled with boots for the Rumanian army, which had been lying in the siding for three months, were being plundered. Two other wagons filled with 50,000 francs' worth of cigarette papers, wagons filled with Serbian wine, French champagne, liqueurs and perfumery, were also given over to plunder. Thousands of bags of flour, boxes of biscuits, tinned meats and sardines covered the ground on all sides, while the inhabitants of the village were loading carts and handbarrows.

These people were not worrying much about the approach of the Germans. As they had determined to be taken prisoners, they regarded the advance of the invaders philosophically.

My chief worry was Varvarian, which I could see only four miles away. It had been occupied at dawn by the German cavalry, and, of course, they might risk a sudden dash for Chichivatz, and perhaps even Salatz, down the line.

We therefore determined to return at once for Krusevatz. The press of vehicles on the road was so great that we saw we could proceed quicker on foot, so we left the carriage to follow and started to cover the intervening twenty kilometres.

When we reached Krusevatz, late in the afternoon, we found the town apparently in high festival. Everybody seemed in the best of humor and gaiety reigned everywhere.

We soon discovered the cause. The whole town, men, women and children, had been drinking unlimited quantities[263] of French champagne, a trainful of which was lying in the station. When the capture of the town was seen to be inevitable orders were given there, as elsewhere, to let the population plunder everything in sight, and the order had been faithfully obeyed.

I doubt, however, if this had the effect of preventing the goods falling into the hands of the Germans. The latter would not be long in hearing of what had happened. They would simply post up a notice to the inhabitants telling them to bring back all the plunder to the "Kommandatur," twelve bullets being provided for any one who should fail to do so. This, plus the threat of a house-to-house search to discover those who had failed to obey, would probably rake in nine-tenths of the goods.

The great retreat of the Serbian army across the mountains had now begun. With their 300,000 bayonets, in spite of the fact that the Teutons were, as far as physique went, the most miserable material it was ever my lot to see, they continually outflanked the 150,000 men the Serbians were able to oppose to them.

The Serbian armies, except the division which was opposing the Bulgarians in the south, were forced back on the mountain range, which at this point runs transversely across Serbia, and behind which lies the old Turkish province, the Sandpak of Novi Bazar, and the Plain of Kossovo.

The operation of conducting the retreat of the Serbian armies through the mountain passes was like filtering a fifty-gallon cask through the neck of a pint bottle. The transport of 20,000 ox-drawn army service wagons, whose best gait is about two miles an hour, alone constituted a formidable problem.

In view of the terrible nature of the roads, we had to[264] add a third horse to the team of our carriage. A mile from the town we found ourselves in a mass of wagons, which every instant became more congested. The passage of tens of thousands of guns and wagons had churned the roads into a huge quagmire.


As darkness fell the scene became a sinister one. To the left, behind the railway station, one building after another burst into flame; the employees were firing the storehouses and blowing up the wagons on the siding. A few minutes later the whole town was shaken by a series of explosions. The accumulated stocks in the Obelitchavo powder magazine were being blown up.

From the eminence on which I stood the spectacle was terrifying. Krusevatz was blazing at half a dozen points, the whole sky was covered with a crimson glare, while below us the river, like red blood in the flames, could be followed to the horizon, where the flashes of Serb guns delaying the German advance could be seen.

On the line of retreat confusion was becoming worse. The whole road was filled with a triple line of bullock wagons, their panting teams straining to tear them through the tenacious mud.

Suddenly there came an explosion like an earthquake. An immense column of yellow flame shot heavenward. The heavy girder bridge over the river had been dynamited. At the same instant three immense German shells came screaming overhead and burst with tremendous explosions, one near the town hall and two near the railway station. These nerve-shaking explosions caused a wild panic, the first I had seen in Siberia. The terrified oxen broke into a run and poured in a surging mass, with my carriage in their midst, down the road.


Suddenly they came on a narrow bridge spanning a small ravine. Those on the outside were forced against the parapet. I saw the carriage balance for an instant and then with the three horses roll into the ditch thirty feet below. There was a sound of smashing glass, and it was all over with our vehicle.

The only thing was to extricate the kicking horses and salve such baggage as had escaped. This was a long and difficult process in torrents of rain, but after an hour and a half of hard work we finally got our belongings ranged alongside the road.

The next difficulty was a means of transport, but an obliging non-commissioned officer to the Reserve Munition Column of the Timok Division stopped a half-empty ox wagon and our belongings were hoisted in. We in turn found shelter under the tilt of another wagon and made ourselves as comfortable as the munition boxes would allow.

The German infantry was of miserable quality, men who a year ago would never have passed the doctor, they burst their way through by shell and shrapnel fire.

It was during these attacks that they took hundreds of prisoners, all of them, as I have said, of miserable physique. I saw a youth in the streets of Krusevatz, who could not have been more than sixteen or seventeen years old. His "pickelhauben," much too large for him, came down over his ears. Another I saw was minus a finger on his left hand, and a French surgeon told me he had a German patient who was deaf and dumb. All were pale-faced, narrow-chested, and not the class of men one saw twelve months ago.

Then came the blizzards of snow and inundations which blotted out the road in districts hundreds of kilometers[266] in extent. Add to this fact, all communication with the outside world was completely cut off, there were no letters, telegrams or newspapers, and such vague reports as filtered in were brought by circuitous routes over hundreds of kilometers of the worst roads in Europe.

With every trump card in the hands of her enemies, Serbia's fate was sealed. All she could do was to fight to the last, and this she did.


Every road in Serbia was filled with the flowing tide of human misery. Every town and village was overcrowded. In Kroljevo in ordinary times there are 15,000. When I reached the town it contained 120,000. The same held good of every other center.

The government issued a decree ordering all the male population above fourteen to leave the invaded districts before the arrival of the enemy. This added nearly a million to the number of people the government had to support, and under the strain the civil administration broke down completely. Soon the old Serbia of King Milas was completely in the hands of the Germans, while the Bulgarians drove out the population of Serbian Macedonia.

As a consequence the only refuge left was Novi Bazar. Into this narrow space poured an endless tide of refugees. Gaunt, hollow-eyed men, women and children dragged themselves wearily for hundreds of kilometers, bound they knew not whither. Always behind them they heard the inexorable thunder of the guns, warning them to press on and on. Thousands fell by the wayside, succumbing to cold and hunger.

Probably not since the crossing of the Alps by Napoleon has such a military expedition been undertaken[267] as the traversing of the Albanian Mountains by the headquarters staff and the remains of the Serbian army.

The sight presented by Lium Koula on the eve of departure was unique. On the mountain side for miles nothing could be seen but endless fires. They were made by thousands of ox wagons, unable to go further, as the road for vehicles ceases there. Fortunately the snowstorm ended and was followed by brilliant sunshine.

Next day at 9 o'clock the headquarters staff set out. It included 300 persons and 400 pack animals. The road wound along the banks of the Drin, which had to be crossed twice by means of picturesque old single-span Turkish bridges, since destroyed to impede the Bulgarian advance.

The first mistake was that of transporting the sedan chair of Field Marshal Putnik at the head of the procession. Every time it halted to change bearers, which was every fifteen minutes, the whole two-mile-long procession, following in single file, had to stop also. As a result, instead of reaching Spas before sundown, we only reached the base of the mountain after darkness had fallen.

Here a long council was held as to whether we should bivouac in the village below or undertake the mountain climb in the dark. The latter course was decided upon. It was one of the most extraordinary adventures ever undertaken. A narrow path, about four feet across, covered with ice and snow, winds corkscrew fashion up the face of the cliff. On one hand is a rocky wall and on the other a sheer drop into the Drin.


This road winds and twists in all sorts of angles, and it was up this that we started in the black darkness, with[268] the sedan chair of General Putnik still heading the procession. Every time it reached a corner it was a matter of endless difficulty to manoeuver it around.

On one occasion we stood for thirty-five minutes in an icy wind listening to the roar of the Drin, invisible in the black gulf 500 feet below. Horses slipped and fell at every instant, and every now and then one would go crashing into the gulf below.

It was 10 o'clock when, tired, hungry and half frozen, we reached bivouac at Spas. Here we found that though dinner had been ready since 3 o'clock it could not be served because all the plates and spoons were on the pack animals, which remained in the village below. Neither had the tents arrived, and as Spas contains only five or six peasant houses accommodation was at a premium. Colonel Mitrovitz, head of the mess, told me I would find room in a farmhouse a quarter of a mile away.

The house really was two hours distant, over fields deep in snow. When I got there at midnight I discovered that there were already nearly a score of occupants; but at least I was able to sleep in some straw near the fireside, instead of in the snow outside.

Next morning I set out at 6 to get ahead of the main body of the headquarters staff. The day was magnificent and we slowly climbed foot by foot to the cloud-capped summits of the mountains. Up and up we went, thousands and thousands of feet.

Every few hundred yards we came on bodies of men frozen or starved to death. At one point there were four in a heap. They were convicts from Prisrend penitentiary, who had been sent in chains across the mountains. They had been shot either for insubordination or because they were unable to proceed. Two other nearly naked bodies were evidently those of Serbian soldiers murdered by Albanians.



Soon after midday I overtook King Peter and his staff. Despite his seventy-six years, he marched on foot with vigor younger men might have envied.

During all the four hours I marched with the royal staff he never once mounted his horse, which a soldier was leading behind him. When we stopped for the night at Bredeti King Peter had a ten hours' march to his credit.

It was at this point I came across the first of Essad Pacha's gendarmes. They had been sent out by that heavy-handed ruler to protect the King and his staff. They were a picturesque lot, many of them barefooted, but there was no doubt about the first class quality of their rifles and revolvers. They wore the Serbian gendarme's uniform—that is, they wore any uniform—of which the Nish government had some months before made them a present of several thousand.

The attitude of the population could not be described as friendly to the Serbians, but at the same time there were no outward signs of hostility. They rarely saluted and showed no desire whatever to offer hospitality. In the case of the royal household and headquarters staff Essad Pacha had requisitioned accommodations, but any one not belonging to one of these units had every chance of faring badly. All they had to depend on were wayside caravanserai.

These huge, barnlike structures consist of nothing but four walls and a roof, the latter generally doubtfully water-tight. Here men and horses were all quartered pell-mell. Everybody annexes as much space as he can get and lights a fire for warmth and cooking. As they have no chimneys, the smoke is left to find its way out[270] through the open doors or the thatched roof. The state of the atmosphere may be imagined.

As my colleague, Paul Dubochet, of the "Petit Parisien," and I had pushed on ahead of the headquarters staff, we had naturally lost the advantage of being billeted by Essad's gendarmes. When we finished the day's march we took our share of floor space, but the atmosphere in an hour generally proved too much for us.

We were therefore compelled to surrender, and, despite the freezing cold and the driving snow, we determined to put up a small tent I received at the time of the destruction of the military stores at Kraguyevatz Arsenal. It was only three feet high and open at the end; hence it was only an indifferent shelter against the blizzard. However, I ordered my man to build an immense fire near the open end, and we went to sleep.

Three hours later we awoke, to find the wretched tent ablaze. We struggled out with difficulty and managed to save most of our belongings, but the tent and the sleeping rugs were gone. There was nothing to do but remain at our camp fire until dawn.


On the next march a new experience awaited us. The road ran for miles through a rocky gorge, and nothing else. The bed of the river was the only means of travel. There is nothing so nerve-racking as to keep one's eyes constantly glued to the ground, when each step presents a new problem. Of course, every now and then one of the stones would turn under our feet, and this meant a plunge up to the knees in icy water.

So far as the eye could see there was nothing but this rocky bed, winding between towering basaltic cliffs. The[271] task of transporting a thousand men and horses under such conditions was almost superhuman. If the Albanians had been openly hostile not one man would have come out alive.

The Albanian, like most peasants, is grasping and fond of money, but once you cross his threshold your person and property are sacred. I never had the slightest fear once I entered an Albanian house.

On the road everything is possible. The tribes live at war with one another and respect for human life is non-existent. It would have been as much as our lives were worth to travel an hour after darkness. But during the daylight an armed party inspires a certain respect.

The men physically are probably the handsomest in Europe. I have never seen anywhere such beautiful children as those of the Albanians. Not one in a hundred knows how to read or write or has even been more than twenty miles from home.

It was through such a country the Serbians had to transport soldiers, and that with the Germans and the Bulgarians in close pursuit.

The last stages of the march were probably the hardest, as fodder for the animals and food for the men was practically unprocurable. Money difficulties also increased daily, the Albanians refusing to accept Serbian script at any rate of exchange. They would, however, give food and lodgings for articles of clothing, shirts, underwear, socks and boots. On the last stage we had, therefore, to resort to the primitive system of barter, buying a night's lodging with a shirt and a meal with a pair of socks.


In the mountains just before Puka I discovered the[272] first trace of wolves. The carcasses of dead horses, which were now numbered by scores, showed signs of having been torn by them. A part of the French aviation corps, which was preceding us, got lost in the snow and darkness, and had to spend the night in the open without protection. A dozen were frostbitten, but no fatal casualties. After six days we finally reached the Drina again, a swiftly flowing stream.

Thence the march to Scutari may be summed up in the word mud—mud of the deepest and most tenacious kind, sometimes only reaching to the ankles, sometimes to the knees, but it was always there.

The twenty-five miles between the Drina ferry and Scutari represents physical effort of no mean order. It was the finish for scores of unfortunate pack horses. During the last two days they got practically no food. On these days we found dead horses every hundred yards. When at last, at 4 in the afternoon, we came in sight of the towers and minarets of Scutaria every one heaved a sigh of relief. The streets presented a wonderful sight, being thronged with Serbian soldiers, mixed with French aviators, men of the French and Serbian medical staff and scores of the Red Cross unit—British, French, Russian and Greek.

Scutari's normal population of 40,000 had been increased by 100,000 Serbian and other refugees. Food was running scarce, and there were practically no accommodations. The unfortunate diplomatic corps was scattered all over in such lodgings as could be found for it. The headquarters staff took possession of the Hotel De la Ville. I learned the Danube division, which had entered Albania by Montenegro, had performed the miracle of saving part of its field artillery.

The fate of Serbia was worse than that of Belgium,[273] for to King Albert's subjects there always remained France, England and Holland as havens of refuge. For King Peter's people there was none. On the one hand, the inhospitable mountains of Montenegro offered a barrier which the starving people were powerless to cross. On the other was the desolation of the snow-capped peaks of Albania, with a population sullenly hostile to Serbia and everything Serbian.

But even if they had been willing to welcome them with open arms they could not have helped them, as the mountaineers of Albania live themselves all their lives on the ragged edge of starvation. The catastrophe, therefore, was beyond human aid, and Serbia had to drink the cup of bitterness to the dregs and witness the foundering of all that was left of her manhood and national wealth. It was the death agony of one of the bravest nations in Europe, of a people who had for five long years fought four victorious wars for its national existence, and at last succumbed to a combination of forces three times stronger than itself.



Adventures as Romantic as Mediaeval Legends

Told by the Men in the Tanks

Here are four tales as strange as "Arabian Nights" direct from the great battles of the Somme. It was on these battlegrounds that armored monsters plunged into the enemies' ranks, spitting flame and death, and creating consternation among the German soldiers. These armored tractors are an American invention. While the huge death-machines were constructed in England, they were built on plans from the United States. It was for divulging secrets about these tractors that Mlle. Mata Hari, the Dutch-Javanese dancer, was arrested in Paris as a spy and sentenced to execution.


Monday.—Out for first time. Strange sensation. Worse than being in a submarine. At first unable to see anything but imagined a lot. Bullets began to rain like hailstones on a galvanized roof at first, then like a series of hammer blows. We passed through it all unscathed.

Suddenly we gave a terrible lurch. I thought we were booked through. Lookout said we were astride an enemy trench. "Give them hell!" was the order. We gave them it. Our guns raked and swept trenches right and left.

Got a peep at frightened Huns. It was grimly humorous. They tried to bolt like scared rabbits, but were shot down in bunches before getting to their burrows. Machine guns brought forward. Started vicious rattle on our "hide." Not the least impression was made. Shells[275] began to burst. We moved on and overtook some more frightened Huns. Cut their ranks to ribbons with our fire.

They ran like men possessed. Officer tried to rally them. They awaited our coming for a while. As soon as our guns began to spit at them they were off once more. Infantry rounded them up and survivors surrendered. Very curious about us. Stood open mouthed and wide eyed watching, but weren't much the wiser.

Experience was not altogether pleasant at first. Tank sickness is as bad as sea sickness until you get used to it.

Tuesday.—Off for another cruise. Peppering begun at once. Thought old thing was going to be drowned in shower of bullets. Things quiet down quickly. Silly blighters thought they could rush the tank like they would a fort. Dashed up from all sides. We fired at them point blank. Devilish plucky chaps some of them, for all their madness. The survivors had another try. We spat at them venomously. More of them went down.

The blessed old tub gave a sudden jerk. God in heaven, thought I, it's goodby to earth; but it wasn't. Only some Hun dead and wounded we had skidded into. The rain of bullets resumed. It was like as if hundreds of rivets were being hammered into the hide of the tank. We rushed through. Soon the music had charms, and we got to like the regular rhythm of it.

Suddenly a jolt, and our hearts jolted in our mouths in sympathy. Nothing doing in the mishap line. Only some unwonted obstacle. Heavier "strumming" on our keyboard outside, and more regular. Machine guns at it now. Straddled on as though we like it. A tremendous thud. The whole outfit seemed done for. Nearly jumped out of my skin. Looked at each other and wondered what it was. Still a roof over our heads, thank God.


Wednesday.—Early start. Roughest voyage yet. Waves of fire seemed to break over us. Tremendous crash. Then another, and several others at intervals. Silence for a time. Party of Huns came to meet us outside the village. Very stout old gentleman in front. Thought it was the Mayor and village bigpots to give us a civic welcome. Mistaken. They meant to give warm reception, but not as we understood the word. Let fly with machine guns. Then tried silly boarding tactics. We laughed. Our guns answered theirs.

Tank reception committee dispersed in a cloud of smoke and flame; no trailing clouds of glory. Fat old gentleman only visible member of deputation. Stood openmouthed. Purple with rage. Tank bore down. Old gent started to run. Funnier than a sack race. Old gent flung himself to earth with many signs to surrender.

Thursday.—Got into the village, and passed down between two irregular rows of wrecked houses. Hundreds of Huns came rushing up from cellars and from behind ruins to see us. Some had eyes staring out of head. Looked surprised and even frightened.

One blighter made a rush at us with a clubbed rifle. Made a terrible swipe at the tank. Smashed his rifle, and made a nasty noise on our roof. Hurt himself more than he hurt us. Off for a joy ride after some nice Huns who took to flight as we came up.

Friday.—Early afloat. Usual showers of bullets and a few shells on the way. Got right across a trench. Made the sparks fly. Went along parapet routing out Huns everywhere. Enemy terrified. Tried to run, but couldn't keep it up under our fire. Threw up the sponge and surrendered in batches.

One cheeky chap said he didn't think it was fair to fight with such things. We said that was our affair, and we could stand the racket Germany cared to make over[277] it. Asked one chap if the thought we should have got permission from the Kaiser before using them. Didn't see the joke. Took about two hundred prisoners. Killed and wounded as many more. Tired out when through.

Saturday.—On the move before breakfast. Terrible crash on first go off. Thought we had collided with a wandering world. Weathered the storm. Got busy on enemy trenches. Rare good sport. Enemy tried a surprise for infantry—Yorkshiremen—advancing to attack. We tried a surprise, too, and ours came off first. Huns weren't pleased. Didn't think it was playing the game according to Potsdam rules.

We waddled into their ambush for the attacking troops. Never saw men so frightened. Fled panic-stricken in all directions. Only a few chaps stayed behind and tried to stop us by machine gun fire. Smashed them to bits and left their machine guns to be picked up by the Yorkshiremen they hoped to surprise.

Went snorting after the enemy wherever we could find them. Their losses were terrible. Later strong detachments tried to make their way back, supported by big guns. Lined up across the road and gave them hot time. Every time they tried to rush through we ripped their ranks to bits. At last they gave it up. Very wise.

Sunday.—Good work of frightening Huns continued. Better day, better deed. Fritz didn't think that. Blighters opened rifle fire on us at two hundred yards. It went like water off a duck's back. Fritz couldn't make it out. Kept up the fire, but got a bit nervy as the blessed old thing kept waddling up to him. Ladled out death as you might vamp out indifferent music from a hurdy-gurdy.

Fritz got fits. No fight left in him. Prisoners scared to death. Some of them acted as though they believed that we used our tanks for making sausages out of prisoners.[278] We had a lot of trouble explaining that once they surrendered they were safe.

Finished an exciting week. Got plenty of fun, but one wants a good rest after a spell with a tank.


Told by Philip Gibbs, War Correspondent, in France

After the battle of Flanders the tank pilots have been able to tell the tale of their adventures after a spell of rest, badly needed by the young men, who crawled out of their steel boxes speechless, bruised and dazed.

For seventeen hours one of the tank pilots and his crew stayed out, fighting all the time, and for twenty-four hours another crew went through, not with incessant fighting, but bogged and unbogged, and struggling on and getting into action and slouching back after a good record of achievement.

The tanks have justified themselves again and won their spurs—spurs as big as gridirons.

In the battle of Flanders they had plenty of chance to show what they could do. The way of the allied advance was hindered by a number of little concrete forts built in the ruins of farmsteads, which had withstood the British gunfire. At Plum Farm and Apple Villa and in the stronger and more elaborate fortified points like Frezenberg and Pommern Castle and Pommern Redoubt the German machine gunners held out when everything about them was chaos and death, and played a barrage of bullets on the advancing Allies. Platoons and half platoons attacked them in detail at great cost of life, and it was in such places that the tanks were of the most advantage.

It was at Pommern Castle, east of St. Julien, that one[279] of the tanks did its best. Do not imagine the castle as a kind of structure with big walls and portcullis and high turrets, but slabs of concrete in a huddle of sandbags above a nest of deep dugouts. On the other side of it was Pommern Redoubt, of the same style of defense.

The British were fighting hard for the castle and having a bad time under its fire. A tank came to help them and advanced under the swish of bullets to the German emplacements, lurching up the piled bags over the heaped-up earth and squatting on the top like a grotesque creature playing the old game of "I'm king of the castle. Get down, you dirty rascals."

The "dirty rascals," who were German soldiers, unshaven and uncovered in the wet mud, did not like the look of their visitors, who were firing with great ferocity. They fled to the cover of Pommern Redoubt, beyond. Then the tank moved back to let the infantry get in, but as soon as it turned its back the Germans, with renewed pluck, took possession of the castle again.

The men who were fighting round about again gave the signal to the tank to "get busy" so it came back, and, with the infantry on its flanks, made another assault, so that the Germans fled again.

The Pommern Redoubt was attacked in the same way, with good help from the tanks.

Frezenberg Redoubt was another place where the tanks were helpful, and they did good work at Westhoek.

One of them attacked and helped to capture a strong point west of St. Julien from which a good many Germans came out to surrender. Afterward some tanks went through the village, but they had to get out again in a hurry to escape capture in the German counterattacks.

It was not easy to get back in a hurry, as by that hour in the afternoon the rain had turned the ground to a[280] swamp and the tanks sank deep in it with the wet mud half-way up their flanks and slipped and slithered back when they tried to struggle out. Many of the officers and crew had to get out of their steel forts, risking the heavy shelling and machine-gun fire, to dig their way out; and in the neighborhood of St. Julien they worked for two hours in the open to debog their tank, while the Germans tried to destroy them by direct hits.

In a farm somewhere in this neighborhood no fewer than sixty Germans came out with their hands up in surrender as soon as a tank was at close quarters. The story is told that at another place the mere threat of a tank's approach was enough to decide a party of eight to give in. It is certain beyond all doubt that the German infantry has great fear of the "beasts."

In this battle there was not a single case of attack upon a tank by infantry, although we know that they have been training behind their lines with dummy tanks, according to definite rules laid down by the German command.

One fight did take place with a tank, and it was surely the most fantastic duel that had happened in the war. It was queer enough, as I described a day or two ago when one of the British airmen flew over a motor car and engaged in a revolver duel with the German officer, but even that strange picture is less weird than when a German airplane flew low over a tank and tried to put out its "eyes" by a burst of machine gun bullets.

Imagine the scene, that muddy monster, crawling through the slime with sharp stabs of fire coming from its flanks and above an engine with wings, swooping round and about it like an angry albatross and spattering its armor with bullets. It was an unequal fight, for the tank just ignored that waspish machine-gun fire and went on its way with only a scratch or two.


The tanks were in action around the marshes and woodlands by Shrewsbury Forest. Here there was very severe infantry fighting and the Germans made desperate resistance, followed by many counterattacks, so that the progress of the British was slow and difficult and the tanks helped them as best they could.

One trouble of the tanks is their limited vision, and this and the darkness before the battle were the cause of an unexpected collision, which adds to the strange history of the mechanical monsters, so that it is all beyond the wildest flight of imagination.

One of the tanks was crawling up to get into position for attack, and unaware that it was bearing steadily down upon one of those light railway engines which I saw steaming along in the centre of the Ypres salient on the morning of battle. It was grunting and whistling so that it could be heard a mile away, but not a sound of it came to the ears of the pilot and the crew in the tank, where their engine also was laboring with rattle of steel. The tank bore on through the darkness and its mighty battering ram hit the light engine fair and square and knocked it off the rails. There were explanations and apologies and much tugging and heaving with all the powers of a tank before the engine was righted again and went on its way. (Told in New York Times—Copyright, 1917.)


Told to the Montreal (Canada) "Herald and Star"

"Hi, Bodger! Just keep clear of my weighing machine! It's only up to a quarter of a ton, and I'm not taking any risks."


Temporary Captain Bodger, R.G.A., turned sadly away from the Ration Depot and lumbered back to his howitzers. He was an excellent officer, and his 8 in. shells reached their address in Bocheland with the precision of a postal delivery. But he weighed 280 pounds, and his girth was threatening his career.

Only yesterday he had walked five miles to a field artillery observing station in the trenches, whence he was to range on a new German redoubt, and had ignominiously failed to get through the tunnel. A party of grinning Tommies had taken 40 minutes to enlarge the entrance for him; the subaltern to whom the observation post belonged had complained of his attracting the attention of the enemy's airmen by waiting outside, and the general, who unfortunately went by, had regarded him with a send-him-to-the-base look in his eye. Something must be done, but what?

Bodger had a light lunch of three chops and a plate of ham, trifled with some suet pudding and cheese, and ordered a second bottle of beer to assist his meditations. But the only idea that emerged was a transfer to Coast Defence, and this involved boat work, which his stomach loathed. With a regretful glance at the empty bottles, he went back to his work.

But in the meantime an intelligence of a higher order had been shaping his destinies. The Army commander, hearing the tale of the tunnel and the observation post, had remarked: "Sound gunner, is he? No use sending him to the Transport; lorries are overloaded already. There's one thing in this Army that's up to his weight, and that's a tank. Shift him over, will you?"

When the great man spoke things moved quickly, and in the battery Bodger met an orderly with a "memo," directing him to report at once to H. M. landship Mastodon for instruction. The Mastodon was a new ship.[283] Her commander, a cavalry major, was pleased to get a good gunnery man who was also useful as shifting ballast. Bodger took kindly to his new duties, and the tank steered sweetly under his sympathetic hand.

A week later the Mastodon took part in a minor push—a little affair of straightening the line.

There was a parapet to get over, and the Mastodon, according to custom, cocked up her tail and charged it.

Now if things had gone right the tail should have come down with a whump, throwing her nose up, and she should have cleared the bank like a porpoise jumping. But the glue-like mud piled under her belly, her tail remained up, her nose down, and she hit the face of the bank with a bump like a luggage train in collision. She backed out, but her tail remained high in air.

It was then that Bodger first distinguished himself. He squeezed through a door. Heedless of the bullets which hummed round him, he swarmed up the tail with the determination of a bull walrus and sat on the end of it. There was no mistake about the tail coming down this time. The Mastodon charged again, nose well up, and got over the bank, kicking up a shower of clods behind her.

Bodger stuck to his perch, though the shell-splinters whanged on the armour, and got off with nothing worse than a chipped ear. After this he became a tank enthusiast, and when his major was promoted Admiral of the Fleet and hoisted his flag in the Mammoth, Bodger succeeded to the command of the Mastodon. He painted her in a beautiful chromatic color-scheme, and fitted a larder and a cushioned beer-bin. He worked up his crew at gunnery till they could hit a Boche parapet while bumping across country. He enjoyed four solid meals a day and ceased to repine at his increasing weight.

The Big Push came on, and Bodger's Mastodon proved[284] the smartest landship in the fleet, while at gunnery she could have given points to the Excellent. There came a day when we had pierced deeply into the German lines, and with it came Bodger's chance, which has made his name in the Land Fleet. He saw a locomotive half a mile in front dragging off a couple of howitzers along a light railway, and, regardless of his admiral's warning toots he made for it across the trenches.

Furious Germans tried to rush him as he ploughed through their lines but he held the Mastodon to her course, spouting flame on both broadsides. Field guns were hurriedly turned on him, but the shells missed or glanced from the armour. He headed off the locomotive by a bare 50 fathoms, and, reversing his starboard chain, jockeyed the Mastodon sharply round to meet it.

Now when a 60-ton locomotive hauling double its weight of heavy howitzer, meets a 100-ton tank, both all out, something is almost certain to happen. This time it was the unexpected.

The antagonists stood on their tails, locked for a moment like wrestlers, and then suddenly disappeared from view. The railway crossed a hollow road at the point of encounter and the bridge had given way. Down went the locomotive, wheels uppermost, with the Mastodon on top of it. The trucks with the monster howitzers lumbered up and pitched on top of the heap. But the tank, though dented like an old tin can, was little the worse, and the Germans, who expected to find a wreck, were met by shells and machine-gun fire.

There was no holding our men that day, and they pressed on well beyond the hollow road where the Mastodon had "brought up." When the leading battalion reached her they found Bodger lunching on deck, with a dozen bottles of beer standing ready for his visitors. He was asked to describe his trip across the German[285] trenches, but preferred to expatiate on the perfections of his cushioned beer-bin. "Only two bottles broken, and I believe one of them had gone flat!"

A new 1,000-horsepower tank, carrying a 6 inch gun, is ready for launching, and Bodger will command her. He is looking forward to steering her through the streets of Berlin.


Told by Percival Phillips, with British Army in France

The capture of the greatest Prussian stronghold between the Ancre and the Somme involved hard and bitter fighting. Nowhere on the western front have the Prussian troops made stronger resistance against odds or given greater trouble in their underground lairs, dugouts and tunnels. We know now that the Prussian lines yielded many marvellous examples of catacomb work beneath the hills and valleys of Northern France for the shelter of their battalions. The British troops spoke to-day soberly and impressively of scenes in the buried fortress that lies below the blasted ridge.

Two "tanks" played an important part in the capture, but the greatest "tank" story of the day concerns another part of the line—the capture of Gueudecourt; and it is so unusual and so thrilling as to give it precedence over the exploits at Thiepval. This "tank" killed three hundred Prussians who tried to storm it.

The "tank" had assisted in cleaning up Gueudecourt, and infantry followed in its wake through the village, cheering mightily. The shallow cellar shelters held about four hundred prisoners, who gladly gave themselves up, and the business at Gueudecourt was easily finished.

Then the "tank" started on a tour of its own in the[286] direction of a hostile trench beyond the town. Its progress was a signal for other Prussian refugees lurking in the shell craters to signal their submission to the advancing monster.

Majestically the "tank" wallowed forward amid the fluttering of white handkerchiefs that dotted the field shell holes, and hastily scooped out one man from his hiding place. These isolated ones would have been made prisoners in the "tank," but it had neither time nor accommodation. Bigger game lurked in the ground ahead.

It ambled on its lonely advance until a deep, broad fissure in the tumbled earth made apparent the lodging place for many armed men. The "tank's" intention was to sit astride of this trench as a kind of deadly jest, calculated to fill any troops with horror and play its machine guns freely about, but suddenly it halted its engines and stopped.

Instantly the Prussians swarmed out of the earth and buzzed around the "tank" like bees. You must give them credit for unusual courage, for although hidden batteries rained bullets at them they made desperate attempts to storm the travelling fort and to pierce its hide with rifle fire and kill the crew within.

They might as well have attacked a battle ship with spades. The machine guns whirled incessantly and the pile of dead Prussians grew steadily around the monster, but still there were rushes by these foolish men, who clambered to the steel roof and hoisted one another up in the hope of finding loopholes or joints in the armor of the strange beast.

Some of them carried dead men on their shoulders before they themselves were dropped by the hidden gunners. It was a fearful and indescribable sight—this futile combat of men with machinery. The "tank" fought stolidly.


Inside, the crew were filled with joy. Never in their wildest dreams had they conceived the possibility of having Prussians crowding forward to be killed. Never did gunners work their guns more heartily. All they asked was for more Prussians.

The strange tumult drew the attention of the infantry engaged in cleaning up odd corners throughout Gueudecourt. They ran to the rescue of the "tank," but it did not need rescuing. It was quite happy. The infantry took a hand and beat the Prussians off, or, rather, what was left of them. They took a few discouraged prisoners from a field of battle thick with corpses. At least three hundred Germans lay dead around that "tank."



The Story of a Wonderful Feat

Told by Private Miron D. Arber, Army Service Corps

Whilst living in Jaffa, Palestine, the author—a Russian subject—volunteered to join the British Red Cross, but before he could leave, Turkey declared war, and he was arrested and sent to a prison camp in the interior. From this dreary place he made his escape, and, cleverly disguised as a Bedouin woman, actually crossed the terrible desert of Sinai, a distance of two hundred miles, to the verge of the Suez Canal. On the banks of the Canal, when within an ace of regaining his liberty, he was seized by Turkish patrols and turned back into the desert. Sick at heart, he retraced his steps, secured another female disguise, and—let him tell his own story as he tells it in that thrilling journal of adventure, the Wide World Magazine.


Before the war I was a Russian medical student. On the outbreak of hostilities between England and Germany I visited the British Consul at Jaffa, in Palestine, where I was then residing, and after volunteering for service with the British Red Cross obtained from him the necessary documents to enable me to take up work with that organization. I was most anxious to leave Palestine at once, as I feared what the Turks might do; but to my dismay I was held up by the Customs authorities, who discovered the official British papers in my pockets.

Just two days afterwards Turkey declared war, and the situation in Jaffa became horrible. The Government[289] confiscated all property belonging to the Allies that they could lay hands upon, and its officials raided the clothing establishments and commandeered the whole stock of material. I even saw such articles as silks and women's hosiery taken away by the Turkish officers—no doubt intended for their wives. Proprietors of horse vehicles were deprived of their sole means of livelihood by the ruthless confiscation of their animals and carts, and all mules or camels found in the streets were also seized to carry ammunition and stores to the Egyptian frontier. Such tradesmen as cabinet-makers and metal-workers were forced to give their services for nothing, and, failing prompt compliance, were thrown into prison, there to remain under the most awful conditions. The Turks made a thorough job of the looting; people in the streets were forcibly relieved of any wearing apparel that had the slightest military use, and their leggings, raincoats, and similar articles were annexed by the Turkish officers. Houses were entered and robbed of bedding, mattresses, and pillows for the benefit of Turkish wounded, and private dwellings and public institutions alike—for example, the Anglo-Palestine Bank—were systematically searched and valuables, money, and banknotes confiscated. The Turk is a past-master in the art of looting.

Two days after the declaration of war orders were received from Constantinople for the expulsion from Turkish territory of all subjects of the Allies. Men, women, and children were accosted in the streets, and proof of their nationality demanded. If belonging to one of the Allied nations they were herded together and conveyed during the night from Jaffa to Egypt in an Italian steamer. The sights witnessed were most distressing, parents being separated from their children and husbands from their wives. A number of small[290] boats arrived during the night to take the people out to the ship, it being impossible to bring a large vessel close in. After the unfortunate refugees had been put in the boats they were taken by the Arab boatmen about half-way to the ship. Here the rowers rested on their oars and demanded large sums of money before completing the journey. In many cases the poor folk were unable to pay.


In a certain hospital at Jaffa—this I know personally to be true—the French nuns there, who had with unceasing care and attention devoted themselves to sick and needy Arabs and Turks, were now rewarded for their past unselfish labors by the grossest ill-treatment, being driven out without any thought as to what was to become of them. One incident in particular well depicts the atrocious treatment meted out to these devoted women by the Turks. An old man who had been at this hospital for twenty years told me that when German and Turkish commandants visited the place they asked the French orderly why the sick Turkish troops had no food to eat, to which he replied that there was no money with which to obtain it. Thereupon these heartless officials ordered the Frenchman to be seized and soundly flogged.

From now onward the position for subjects of the Allies became worse and worse. Directly hostilities began, gendarmes came to our house and took me away in the presence of my mother and sister. It was a terrible parting, as may be easily imagined. The distress of the two women was most pitiful, and I dreaded to think what their fate might be when left unprotected. Because of the natural outburst of anger and sorrow on[291] their part, they were the recipients of further mental punishment at the hands of my captors, one of whom threatened my mother with his rifle in order to increase her terror, while another roughly pushed her aside whilst I was hustled from the scene. In my anguish I struck one of them, but they soon overpowered me and dragged me off.

This was the beginning of my sufferings. When I arrived at the Government buildings with my escort I was told that I was a prisoner of war and was about to be sent away. I was, however, allowed to bid good-bye to my mother and sister, who had followed me there. Afterwards I was carefully searched, permission being refused me to take away any luggage whatever. From early in the morning until ten o'clock at night I was guarded in these buildings; then, a number of other prisoners of war having arrived, we were all taken outside and placed upon donkeys. An escort surrounded us, and we set off inland. We marched away along a route which, fortunately, was already well known to me, for as a tourist in the happy days of peace I had traversed it many times previously.

At three o'clock the next morning we arrived at an Arab village, where we rested until nine o'clock, when breakfast was served. This consisted of Arab bread—prepared in a couple of minutes from water, flour, and salt—and a small piece of cheese. The inhabitants of this village pelted us with stones and subjected us to most insulting and abusive language.


After breakfast our journey was continued until the afternoon, when we halted until eight o'clock. Then[292] we started off again, reaching a place called Ber Sheba, or Beersheba, about sixty miles from Jaffa, by the following morning. Here we were all separated, and I was taken to an Arab hut and given a straw mattress to lie on and a filthy blanket to cover me. The same meagre fare—native bread and a small piece of cheese—was again served out to me, and I was left alone. After spending two days and nights in this wretched shelter I was removed to another, which I fully made up my mind was to be the last ere I attempted my escape, which I was continually thinking about.

The stretch of ground allotted to the prisoners-of-war camps was surrounded by a barbed-wire fence some twelve feet high, having only one gateway. The camp consisted of about twenty-five huts, the bulk of these being for the accommodation of the prisoners, and the remainder for the soldiers. Posted to every four of these buildings was a guard consisting of several sentries, stationed at a distance of from twenty to thirty yards from the buildings. Every Friday it was the custom for the soldiers—who were, of course, Mohammedans—to attend the mosque, and on these occasions but few sentries were left to guard the camp; the gate was also allowed to stand open. I therefore decided that, when I had worked out a plan of escape, I would choose a Friday on which to attempt it.

In the camp I had the good fortune to come in contact with other prisoners of war, who generously gave me some of their money, of which I stood in great need, for I knew that money would be absolutely necessary to aid my escape. After a short time, having received various small amounts in this way, I accumulated quite a useful sum.

Although the food was wretched and the accommodation miserable, I must state in fairness that I received[293] much kindness from different Turkish officers, who, perceiving that I was sad and anxious, had compassion on me and tried to console me. When the German officers, however, with their renowned kultur, came to know this, they became enraged, and forbade the officers to have anything to do with me. There was much bad feeling, by the way, between the Turks and the Germans, because while the latter enjoyed plenty of luxuries, the former entirely lacked them, and received pay which was totally inadequate to their needs.

About this time many wounded soldiers began to arrive at Ber Sheba from the Egyptian frontier, where, it was very evident, there was "something doing." They were conveyed to our camp in large baskets—each capable of holding ten wounded—slung upon the backs of camels. On arrival at the village, half of the unfortunate occupants were usually dead or dying as the result of the shaking and jostling occasioned by this crude method of transport. As it became known that I was a medical student, my services were utilized, and I attended to the wounded in the hospital. One might have thought this would have secured me better treatment, but as a matter of fact I was brutally ill-used, somebody whom I had offended reporting to the officer commanding that I knocked the wounded about! This ended my hospital career, and I was at once placed under arrest and confined to my hut again. The food provided now consisted of rice, meat, and bread, all served together in a bowl. This latter turned out to be the bowl of fortune for me, for it occurred to me that it would make an excellent improvised implement for removing the earth beneath the wall of my hut, thus providing me with a means of exit when the time came for my "flitting."



Night and day I brooded over the problem of escape. My original idea was to elude the vigilance of the guards and get out of the camp through its solitary gate, open on Fridays only. Once outside, I intended to proceed to Jaffa, and somehow get on board a ship there. This plan, however, I had to abandon, for a newly-arrived prisoner of whom I made inquiries informed me that there was no boat available at that port. I had, therefore, no alternative but to choose the crossing of the terrible Sinai Desert to the Suez Canal, a distance of approximately two hundred miles. This was a sufficiently formidable undertaking, but even though I risked dying of exhaustion or thirst on the way I determined to try it, if I got the chance, sooner than endure the misery of my life in the camp. By journeying that way I thought I might be able to give the British authorities in Egypt useful information concerning the Turks.

It was obvious to me, of course, that I could not hope to cross the desert, through a region that was full of Turkish soldiers, in my own character—such an enterprise would have been sheer madness. I decided, after much consideration, that my best plan would be to disguise myself as a Bedouin woman.

Let me explain exactly why I chose to take on a female rôle—a very difficult one for most men to sustain. Before the war I had impersonated women on many occasions, both on the theatrical stage and on concert platforms in Russia and Turkey—where I appeared under the name of "Valia Pavlov"—in aid of charity. For example, although I had only seen her twice in France, I quite satisfactorily impersonated Mme. Sarah Bernhardt. I can successfully imitate a woman in walking,[295] speaking, and singing, my face, figure and soprano voice lending themselves admirably for these purposes. I knew, moreover, that a woman would be less suspected than a man, would not be closely questioned, and would have more freedom. In other words, there would be less chance of detection.

Now it is easy enough for a prisoner to decide that he will escape disguised as a woman; the difficulty is to put the plan into execution. But I knew what I was about, and I thought I saw my road to success, though it was one that needed careful negotiation. Every day I was allowed a few hours for exercise outside the camp, escorted, of course, by my own particular guard. Having a good knowledge of Arabic, I had the opportunity, while stretching my legs in this way, of conversing with the Bedouins who dwelt in the neighborhood. The soldier who accompanied me was, fortunately for me, quite ignorant of the language of these people. This was a real stroke of good fortune, and materially helped me in laying my plans. If I was to cross the desert in the guise of a Bedouin woman I should need the assistance of these folk, and I neglected no opportunity of making good friends of them. To this end I gave them small sums of money from time to time, taking care not to reveal to them in any way my intentions, for my knowledge of their character led me to believe that, should I require any favor of them later on, they would not refuse it to me, and so it turned out.

After a lot of preparatory work of this kind—most of it done under the very nose of my unsuspecting guard—I finally selected the man I thought could be relied upon to help me. He never for a moment suspected my intention to escape, as I carefully explained to him that I wanted to obtain an outfit of female attire to enable me to make a journey to see a friend of mine who was[296] a prisoner of war near the Suez Canal. He swallowed my story in its entirety, and in his guileless simplicity was convinced that I should return after accomplishing my errand. He arranged to supply me, when I notified him that I was ready, with a complete outfit "borrowed" from his wife, and to set me on my way to Suez.

It was now "up to me" to devise a means of getting out of my hut and clear of the camp. I have already mentioned my possession of a bowl, with which I intended to dig a tunnel under the side of my hut. Let me now describe the hut itself, in order that my position may be quite clear.

My prison was constructed of wood and canvas, the form of the interior being to all intents and purposes that of a bell-tent. The skin was of canvas, lined with wood clamped together with stout iron strips. There was a door to the hut, with a strong lock, in which the key was turned upon me after every visit from my guard—twice to three times daily. Directly I had fixed things up with the Bedouin I started digging my tunnel. Sometimes the sentry disturbed me during my excavations, but as I was always on the alert, his approach, followed by the click of the key in the lock, gave me sufficient warning to fling my mattress quickly over the hole, take my seat on a box, and look up calmly when he entered, thus avoiding rousing his suspicions. There was little danger to be apprehended from the outside, owing to the great height of the grass and weeds which grew all around the hut. Scraping laboriously with my precious bowl, distributing the scooped-up material carefully over the earthern floor of the hut so as not to attract attention, and on the qui vive night and day, I worked at my burrow for three whole days. The tension I underwent during this period, and the constant anxiety that tortured me, are quite indescribable. I worked like a fiend;[297] I had fully determined that I would not remain in the camp any longer even though death waited for me outside.


My tunnel being completed, I fixed the hour of departure with my Bedouin friend, arranging for him to be waiting at a specified spot about two hundred yards away. The time appointed was in the dead of night—at 12.30 A.M., to be exact—and as the hour approached I worked myself into a feverish state of excitement. I became terribly nervous, thinking of the risk I was about to take and the journey that awaited me if I got free. I realized, almost for the first time, the manifold difficulties of my enterprise, and I told myself I was only going to my doom. Then, as the hands of my watch moved steadily onward, the reaction came, and I grew calm and confident. Courage was needed to make this dash for freedom—well, I would show courage. The moment for action came, and swiftly I removed the mattress that had hitherto concealed my secret passage, put my head through the aperture, and peeped out to survey my surroundings.

So terrible was the tension at that moment that the very grasses which waved in the faint night breeze and the leaves that rustled in the trees caused me to start as though my plans had been discovered; I saw myself, in my mind's eye, thrown back into my cage and subjected to all the humiliating punishments and sufferings that would inevitably have followed. So much was I overcome by my feelings at this moment that I wept for very fear, and, kneeling down, prayed fervently to my Maker to give me back the courage which I felt[298] was leaving me and restore the strength of mind and body that alone could see me safely through that never-to-be-forgotten ordeal.

When the nerve-storm passed I quietly emerged from my hiding place and crept silently away through the grass, making for the point where I was to meet my Bedouin Good Samaritan. I passed through the open gateway in the fence without accident, and arrived at the rendezvous quite breathless. Thank Heaven! My friend was there, and to my surprise and joy he had secured for me a camel, upon which I was to continue my flight.

My joy at this first success is indescribable. There was no time to be lost, however, so I speedily divested myself of my prison attire, which, upon the advice of my Bedouin friend, I carefully buried. I then dressed myself with all possible haste in the disguise my friend had procured for me.

This consisted of a Bedouin dress of some blue-colored stuff with white spots, and resembled an overall or woman's nightgown, secured around the waist with a red sash. The head-dress was a small loose-fitting green bonnet, which had stitched to it a cheap black cotton substitute for woman's hair. Suspended from my ears were large brown polished wooden earrings and droppers, and over all I threw loosely a large piece of thin black veiling, resembling a shawl, which covered the whole of my head, face, and figure, leaving only my eyes showing. My feet were left quite bare. No facial make-up was necessary, my skin being smooth and quite as brown as any Bedouin's. Being thoroughly familiar, from my various impersonations, with the adjustment of a woman's dress, I was able without difficulty to put this costume on in the dark, and I was greatly helped by the fact that before the war my parents had employed[299] a Bedouin servant whose dresses I had worn on the occasion of various carnivals.

The problem of shaving had already occurred to me, and fortunately for my purpose, a very simple solution was available. I obtained some powder which, after being mixed with water and applied to the face, completely destroys the hair for the time being. This depilatory is in common use amongst the Bedouins, Arabs, and Turks for the removal of hair, whether from the body or face. My toilet being completed, I rose to my feet—looking to all appearance a typical Bedouin woman—and the pair of us mounted the camel and rode steadily on for fifteen hours to a place called Wad-el-Arish. Our rations during that long, weary journey consisted of onions, bread, and a few dates.

Upon arrival at Wad-el-Arish my good friend and I parted company, for he feared to accompany me farther lest he should run into danger, as there would be great risk for him in passing that way by reason of the troops journeying in the same direction. I used all my powers of persuasion to induce him to continue with me, assuring him optimistically that no harm would come to him, but despite all my efforts to allay his fears, he declined. Ere we parted, he bestowed on me such good things as he was able to spare for my comfort and sustenance during my travels, giving me a flask of water, dry bread, and dates. Then, after a hearty farewell, he retraced his steps, riding the camel, while I continued alone on foot, following the track left by the troops who were journeying across the desert.


My first day in the desert was a hot and tiring one, but in spite of the discomfort I continued to walk on[300] until the evening, never losing sight of the soldiers and camels far ahead. When darkness fell I settled down on the sand for the night with only a dirty blanket for my covering, the desert for my bed, and the heavens to shelter me.

With the coming of dawn I was on my way again. The second and third days, being uneventful, call for no description; but I recollect that, on the fourth day, I was accosted by several Turkish patrols, who endeavored to question me. A happy thought struck me, and I kept silent, simply motioning to them with my fingers, giving them the impression that I was deaf and dumb, and therefore an object of pity. I knew only too well the nature of these Mohammedans—fanatical in the extreme, pitying only the afflicted and maimed of their own caste. Had I been a real woman, I should have been terribly afraid of some of these ruffianly fellows, but as it was I feared nothing but discovery, and my pretence of being deaf and dumb gave me excellent protection.

When one or two of them seemed inclined to interfere with me, their comrades, pitying me, shouted angrily: "Haram, haram! For the love of God, don't touch her." With that they left me, and very thankfully I went on my way.

By the fifth day my slender stock of provisions was running low, only a few dates and a little bread remaining, but my good luck seemed destined to continue, for I met with hospitality from some of the soldiers I encountered, who gave me bread, dates, and water. About two o'clock in the afternoon of the sixth day a terrible wind arose, and the sandstorm which followed nearly blinded and choked me. I could do nothing but crouch down and cover myself with my blanket as best I could, remaining in that position until ten o'clock at night, when the wind ceased. I continued my journey during the[301] night so as to make up for lost time, and to my horror was met by a pack of prowling jackals. These beasts, when hungry, are dangerous to the solitary traveller, and my alarm can well be imagined; but curiously enough the fear was reciprocal, and the skulking brutes disappeared.

On the seventh day of my interminable journey I met an old Bedouin riding on a camel, and was not long in fraternizing with him. After paying him the customary compliments—not forgetting a little money, that magic key to the Bedouin heart—I travelled with him for five days, the pair of us riding together on his camel. This event, I think, appealed to my sense of humor more than any other incident of my escape. For five whole days and nights we were in each other's company—yet the simple old fellow never discovered or even suspected my secret. To him I was just simply a woman of his own race. He treated me with respect, and, in his Bedouin way, even showed me kindness. I laugh now when I think about it, and how startled he would have been to learn the truth. He left me at the end of the fifth day, at a point where our routes diverged, and once more I went on alone on foot.

On the twelfth day of my journey across the desert, what with the hardship and the poor food, I began to get exhausted. I felt feverish and deadly tired, but realized that I must not give way, and, remembering how fortune had favored me hitherto, I determined to press forward and reach the Canal as speedily as possible. I was plodding doggedly on, a few hours later, when I sighted a party of mounted gendarmes approaching, and the thought instantly flashed through my mind that I was being chased; they would take me prisoner again, and drag me back to be punished. The idea filled me with terror, but I managed to evade them by concealing myself[302] behind a hillock of sand, where from sheer exhaustion and nerve-strain I fell fast asleep.

The thirteenth morning of my trip had dawned when I awoke, and I knew that the journey was nearing its end. This was well for me, for I was beginning to run short of food again, having only a little bread and a few dates left, so I ate sparingly lest my stock should become exhausted ere I reached my next resting-place.

Towards the close of my wanderings that day luck again befriended me, for I chanced to meet a party of Bedouins encamped in the desert, and they provided me with the now familiar fare of onions, salt, water, and bread. Like the Turks, they had not the slightest suspicion that I was other than I seemed.

From these people I learned definitely that my journey was nearing completion; only one and half day's travel was needed, and it would be ended. My anxiety seemed to increase during these last hours of my pilgrimage, and many a time I almost succumbed from weakness, but I forced myself to continue.

At last, to my joy, I perceived signs of some sort of civilization in the distance—tents, soldiers, and all the miscellaneous equipment of a Turkish army and its innumerable camp-followers. I trudged on and on through this concourse, quite unchallenged—who would bother about a poor deaf-mute Bedouin woman?—and eventually arrived near the Canal. How excited I was at sight of it! How I longed to be on the other side! On the opposite shore I could see soldiers, but I was too far away to distinguish what troops they were.


On approaching nearer to the Canal I came to a place[303] opposite El Kantara, where some English soldiers on the farther bank pointed their rifles at me and forced me to stop. Away behind me, at the top of a slope, were some Turkish patrols on horseback, and to my dismay I saw that they were watching me closely. I had hoped to get near enough to the British to open up communication with them, but this now seemed out of the question; directly I made a move in that direction the horsemen would swoop down upon me.

Evidently I should have to wait for a better chance, so with a sinking heart I walked towards the Turks, thinking that by adopting an indifferent attitude I could dispel any suspicions I might have aroused. I sat down as they approached me, and when questioned by them explained that I was a Bedouin woman going to Egypt. (I thought it advisable on this occasion not to keep up my pretence of being deaf and dumb.) They told me roughly that this was impossible; there was a war on, and Egypt was closed to strangers.

Then came the bombshell; they ordered me to return whence I came, and, to make my departure certain, conducted me away from the camps and told me not to let them see me wandering about again.

I do not like to dwell upon my feelings at that awful moment. Here had I risked my life to escape, and spent many weary, anxious days in crossing the desert, only to be turned back when actually in sight of my goal, and almost within hail of British soldiers! It was heart-breaking, maddening. I could hardly control myself as I went slowly back into the desert, and I dared not think of what lay in store for me. I might perish miserably in the sand-wastes, or I might stagger on till I fell once more into the hands of my late keepers, who would punish me savagely for my abortive escape.

There is a bright lining to the darkest cloud, however,[304] and so I discovered. I had not proceeded very far on my return journey when I came across a party of Bedouins who, as luck would have it, were travelling in the same direction. I promptly made friends with them, and for a small sum of money they allowed me to ride on camel-back with their wives, the journey to Ber Sheba taking about six days. Never once did any of them suspect me. Undoubtedly my disguise was well-nigh perfect, but it must also be remembered that the Bedouins are a simple people, and the reverse of cultured, so that my task was tolerably easy.

Arrived at Ber Sheba once again, I bade good-bye to my new friends and sought out my old Bedouin acquaintance at the place where he lived. He was amazed to see me back so soon, and told me that the Turkish authorities had been greatly perturbed over my escape, and were still searching for me. It would be unsafe to remain, he told me, so I only stopped with him a very short time.

It was obvious to me that it would be of no use to try the desert route again, so I evolved a new plan. Leaving Ber Sheba, I made for a place called Gaza, some thirty miles away, proceeding immediately after to Jaffa, where I managed to exchange my Bedouin dress for that of a European lady. I should here explain that I have found it necessary at several points in my story not to go into details, and I must also suppress the names of the kind friends who provided me with the disguise. Sundry good people who helped me are still in Palestine, and it might go hard with them if I gave any clue to their identity.


When I reached Jaffa the Italian steamer Catania had[305] just arrived at the port, and I promptly embarked upon her, despite the strict scrutiny of a German female Customs official. She looked over all the women who boarded the steamer, but she never dreamed for one moment that I was a disguised man, and I passed on to the boat without question.

On the voyage I made friends with a lady refugee, and, finding that she was to be trusted, confided my secret to her. This good woman helped me out of my last difficulty by lending me a suit belonging to her husband, to don directly I landed in Egypt. Oh! the delight of once more resuming a man's attire and a man's ways of life!

Arrived in Egypt, and once more in my own proper person, I visited the British military authorities at Alexandria, who referred me to No. 5 Indian General Hospital at St. Stephano. Here, being a medical student, I secured employment and remained for some time doing Red Cross work under Colonel Pridmore, the officer commanding that institution, to whom, and to Mrs. Pridmore, I am much indebted for many kindnesses. Later I went to No. 2 Australian General Hospital at Cairo. Subsequently I was transferred, at my own request, to London, where I enlisted in the Army Service Corps and became a British soldier. Since then I have had the pleasure of appearing before many thousands of my soldier comrades as a female impersonator, amusing them with my songs and the story of my adventures.

It is one thing to act the part of a woman for the sake of amusement; it is quite another to do it in an attempt to secure one's liberty, with death as the price of discovery.



"How We Drop Bombs on the Enemies' Cities"

Told by the Air Raiders Themselves

The first stirring sensations of the Great War, which aroused the imaginations of the people, were the sailing of the fleets of ships in the air and under the seas. The world was indeed startled when the squadrons of Zeppelins rose from Germany, crossed the seas, and hovered over England, dropping bombs on ports and cities, and hurling death from the clouds. Here are two stories of German raiders in which they tell how it feels to drop bombs from the skies on European capitals. The German authorities permitted the publication in a Hamburg newspaper of a very exciting and detailed account of a Zeppelin raid upon London by one of the crew of the airship. This account was designed to arouse the enthusiasm of the German nation for the daring and difficult work done by the Zeppelins, and to make them realize the havoc and terror they created in England. A translation of the narrative follows:


Told by Commander of a German Air Fleet

Our Zeppelin received orders at 6 o'clock in the evening to fly from our hangar in Belgium for an attack on London.

The giant airship slipped easily out of the long shed with noiseless motors, and after rising to 8,000 feet, the altitude most suited for steady flying, our captain steered by compass straight for London.


Our true German hearts beat high this night with the hope of doing some great and irreparable damage to London....

Perhaps we should destroy their House of Parliament ... or their War Office ... or the Foreign Office ... or the official dwellings of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.... Well did I know the location of all these places from my long residence in London.

Our commander said that a bomb dropped in a certain space of half a square mile in London could hardly fail to destroy some person of great importance in the official or wealthy classes of England.

Perhaps we might strike a school or a hospital or a party of women. We should regret such accidents, but it is impossible to modify our splendid and effective aerial warfare simply because innocent combatants place themselves in the way of legitimate objects of attack.... We know that London is a fortified city, and non-combatants who remain there do so at their own peril.

The way had for months been prepared by previous aerial attacks and reconnoissances for a more accurate and effective blow at the heart of London. All lights, both street lamps and those in dwellings, have been lowered by order of the English Government to a point that causes the busiest thoroughfare at night to present only a dull glow a few hundred yards away.

On the other hand, powerful searchlights operated in connection with anti-aircraft guns, and other military works are kept constantly playing on the sky in the search for our airships. If we can discover the topographical position of these searchlights and batteries we can establish the other principal centres of the city from them and throw our bombs with some approach to accuracy—that is to say, we can at least drop them on a quarter where[308] we know that there are public buildings or where important officials reside.

To establish the location of these points has been the work of our earlier air reconnoissances, and as a result of this system our work must become more and more deadly every day. We have, for instance, found that powerful searchlights and batteries are operated at Woolwich on the extreme eastern outskirts of London, at St. James's Park, which is in the centre of the metropolis, at Hampstead Heath on the north, and at the Crystal Palace, south of the Thames. The English are not likely to move all these defensive points, and if one is moved and not the others, the captain of the Zeppelin can discover the change by reference to the other points.

As our Zeppelin can travel seventy miles an hour at its maximum, the journey of a little more than two hundred miles from Belgium could be performed in a few hours. Darkness was falling as we passed over the stormy North Sea for we did not wish to be seen and reported by patrol ships.

The cold was intense and could be felt through the fleece-lined clothes and heavy felt shoes with which we were provided. Our Zeppelin carried four tons of the most destructive explosives ever created by science—sufficient to annihilate the heart of London, the greatest city in the world. The amount was divided into forty bombs of 100 pounds each, and eighty of fifty pounds each. The larger bombs are designed to destroy fortifications and heavy buildings. The smaller ones are for the purpose of setting fire to houses, and contain an explosive that develops a temperature of 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

We made out the mouth of the Thames from certain lightships and shore lights that have been maintained. At about 10 o'clock we found a powerful searchlight playing on us. This we knew from our information to be[309] Woolwich, the important English arsenal. As we no longer desired to conceal our presence, we discharged ten of the larger bombs in the vicinity of the searchlight.

The bombs are discharged from tubes pointing downward from a steel plate in the floor of the airship. The bomb is furnished with a steel handle, and by means of this it is lowered into the tube. A bolt fitting into a hole in the bomb holds it in the tube. The marksman presses his foot on an electric button in the plate in the floor of the car and this withdraws the bolt, releasing the bombs. He can drop two bombs at once if he wishes, and the third two seconds later.

The height at which the airship flies, its speed and the effects of wind at present render impossible scientific aim in the sense that an artillerist would use the term. Nevertheless a considerable degree of effectiveness is attained by Zeppelin marksmen, while a poor marksman may entirely waste his ammunition. To hit a mark half an acre in extent is good marksmanship from a Zeppelin. In practice a regiment of wooden dummies was set up in a field and one of our aerial marksmen succeeded in wiping out the whole regiment.

If Zeppelin marksmanship is still rudimentary, the destructive power of our bombs, on the other hand, is terrible beyond anything dreamed of before this war. One of our 100-pound bombs striking fairly will destroy any existing building not constructed purely as a fortification. Even if it strikes in a street, it will dig a hole a hundred feet deep, destroying gas pipes, electric wire conduits, subways and any subterranean constructions that may be beneath the surface. Thus the destruction and paralyzing of all life in a city can be practically assured if we use sufficient bombs. Our bombardment of Woolwich was followed by the extinction of the searchlight, and[310] we had reason to believe that we had inflicted serious damage at this important centre.

We knew that in a few minutes we should be over the heart of London. Our daring commander decided to sail very low, following the course of the Thames which he knew would take him near all the objects he wished to reach.

Suddenly the huge outline of a building loomed under our noses. Seen against the dull, cloudy sky, it appeared colossal. We almost struck it. It was a church! It was St. Paul's Cathedral! An instantaneous turn of the elevating rudder saved us from a collision with the monstrous dome. A few seconds more straight to the westward and we knew that we were over the centre of official and fashionable London.

Our commander ordered the bombs discharged as fast as we could throw them. The ship circled slowly round and round, peppering death on the solar plexus of the British Empire.

Beneath us was the Strand, with its theatres and hotels, the House of Parliament, the Government offices in Whitehall and Parliament street, the residences of the aristocracy in Mayfair, the fashionable clubs in Pall Mall, Buckingham Palace, the War Office, the Admiralty and Westminster Abbey.

It was a night of terror for London! The searchlights and the guns played upon us constantly. At night the anti-aircraft fighters use shells that spread a long trail of luminous red smoke through the darkness in order to mark the position of the airship for the other gunners firing shrapnel. It was a grand and inconceivably weird spectacle to watch the electric beams and the long red trails playing about in the air, while shrapnel burst about us and our great bombs exploded on the earth below with a glow that we could faintly discern.


It is exceedingly difficult for a gunner to hit an airship at a height of 8,000 feet, or even lower. We enjoyed a feeling of tremendous power and security. Our daring commander ordered our craft to circle lower and lower in his determination to inflict the greatest possible injury on the enemy.

At last we could see the outlines of buildings on the ground. Below us was a great open square and in the centre a very high slender column. It was the ... British monument to their noted Admiral Nelson standing in the centre of Trafalgar Square.

"Give old Nelson a bomb!" roared our brave commander.

Down went a bomb aimed straight at the head of the one-eyed admiral. The fervent wishes of every man in our crew went with it. Whether it struck the mark time alone will show.

We had ventured too near the earth, and an unusually well-aimed shot struck the forward part of our vessel. One of our mechanical experts, in his anxiety to ascertain the nature of the damage, climbed out on a stay, fell and was, of course, lost. That was our only casualty. We found later that the shot had only penetrated one "ballonnet" and had not interfered with our stability in any important degree.

Our commander threw the elevating rudders to their extreme upward angle, and in a few minutes we were practically out of danger once more. We threw all our supply of bombs upon London and then turned for home again. Steering by compass and the stars for Belgium, we made the return journey without mishap. The dawn was just breaking when we came in sight of certain landmarks which guided us to our hangar.

There are certain details of the raid which I should not wish to reveal, and could not reveal without making[312] myself liable to the death penalty. An attack by a Zeppelin is always accompanied by other air craft, both dirigibles and aeroplanes, in order to give protection to our capital airships and create confusion among the enemy. The English never know whether they are firing at a Zeppelin or a semi-rigid dirigible of similar shape, but comparatively small importance. These are the scouting cruisers of the air. Moreover our raiding forces split up in the darkness according to prearranged plans, thus causing hopeless confusion among our terrestrial opponents, even if the approaching attack has been reported to them in advance.


Told by a Young German Aeronaut in a Letter to His Mother

Dear Mother:

Thank God! After a veritable Odyssey, to-day at noon I again reached my division. With much joy I was greeted on all sides, for, after a four days' absence I was given up for lost. Dear little mother, I shall tell you the story from the beginning. During the forenoon I went up at D—— for the purpose of ascertaining the enemy's position at L—— and F——, and to take notes on their movements. Ober-Lieutenant K—— went along as observer, and my biplane soon carried us to a height of about 800 metres above the enemy's position, which was sketched and photographed time and again. As expected, we were soon the object of a lively firing, and several times I felt a well-known trembling in the machine—a sign that a shot had hit one of the wings. After a three-hour flight we were able to give our reports to General Herringen at headquarters. He praised us[313] warmly and ordered that we be served a roast chicken and he gave us some fine Havana cigars.

As I was again preparing my aeroplane in the afternoon, with the help of several chauffeurs, who filled the benzine tank, and as I was patching the four bullet holes with linen, a Bavarian officer told me that he would like to observe the retreat of the English from the large pike toward M——. I prepared my machine immediately, and around 4 o'clock, with Major G——, I went up. By following the streets it was soon evident that the English retreat was without plan or order, but to all appearances the troops wanted to reach fortified positions as fast as they could. Perhaps they would flee all the way to Paris.

Paris! The Bavarian officer shrieking something to me. Though the motor almost drowned, I understood what he meant. I glanced at the benzine indicator. I possessed sufficient oil. Paris it would be!

Steering toward the south, we journeyed for half an hour, and then out of the distance, far, far below, the gray stone housetops of the French capital took shape. Something impelled me to increase our speed, and we raced toward the city at seventy miles an hour. Incredibly fast Paris becomes clearer and more distinct.

The chain of the forts St. Denis! Montmartre stands out through the mist! The iron pillars of the Eifel Tower!... We are directly above Paris. The major points below with his finger; then he slowly turns to me, raises himself from his seat and shouts, "Hurrah!"

And I? From sheer joy, mother, I nearly went out of my mind. I began to make the wildest circles in the air. I felt I could do anything. There the white Sacred Heart Church, here the Gare du Nord, there Notre Dame, there the old "Boul Mich," where as a student I had so often caroused and which now, as conqueror, I soared above.


The heart of the enemy seemed defenseless; the proud, gleaming Seine lay below me. Everything horrible which I always thought of Paris as possessing vanished—only an impression of the wonderful and the great remained; and I loved Paris more as a conqueror.

Over the housetops I swung in great circles. Little dots in the streets showed me that crowds were gathering. They could not understand how a German could handle the French invention more skilfully and advantageously than the French themselves. They began to shoot at us. It was fine. They were very bad shots. I felt like dropping a bomb—not to kill them, but simply to see something blown up. Then from the direction of Juvisy came a French monoplane. As it was more swift than my biplane, I had to turn and try to escape. My Bavarian comrade prepared my rifle and seized his pistol. The Frenchman approached closer and closer. I attempted to reach the protecting clouds at 6,000 feet, but my pursuer flew swifter than we, ever nearer and nearer. Suddenly I became aware of a second monoplane only 500 yards away. It attempted to block my path. We had to act. I shot at the airman ahead of us. Then a turn and the Major took aim. He shot once, twice, three times. The enemy's machine, which was now next to us only 100 yards away, toppled, tilted upward, and then fell to the ground like a stone. But our other pursuer was almost on top of us and shot at us with pistols. Close to the gas lever a bullet hit the fuselage. Then impenetrable fog concealed us from the enemy. I could hear the buzz of his motor grow fainter and fainter.

When we again emerged from this gray ocean of clouds it was twilight. But suddenly, before, behind and on the sides, white smoke clouds appeared bursting shrapnel. Still flying above the enemy's position, we were directly exposed to their artillery fire. Devil with it! The fire[315] grew worse. I knew from the little trembles that the machine was getting blow upon blow, but it never entered my mind that those shrapnel balls meant death to me. Something in man remains unmoved by logic and knowledge—especially when you're in the air. There, of a sudden, a white-yellow fire in front of me. The machine reared up. The major seemed to reel to his feet. Blood was pouring from his shoulder. The covering of the wings was tattered. The motor buzzed and roared as before, but the screw was missing. A grenat shattered our propellor, but, thank heaven, did no worse. My machine began sinking to earth. I succeeded in gliding and threw the biplane down into the woods. The branches and tree tops crashed to splinters. I struck the steering gear and then was no longer aware of what went on around me. When I again became conscious I was lying next to Major G. on the forest ground surrounded by a group of German reservists. Recognizing the machine, they had forced themselves into the forest in small numbers to save us. Major G. had to be removed to the nearest hospital. I only received a crushed leg.

Your Affectionate Son.

(The two foregoing stories are here retold by permission of the New York American, to whom they were sent from Germany.)



Journey Home of a Hundred Thousand Exiles

Told by (name withheld), an Eye-Witness


The exiles in the Irkutsk prisons were watching eight fellow prisoners who were being flogged. Suddenly, in the doorway, an official appeared. It was the Provincial State Attorney. There was a look of great tidings in his face.

"Russia is a republic," he cried. "You are free."

The news of the revolution had reached across the vast stretches of Siberia. It was a moment of tense excitement. Bewilderment and then jubilation beset the exiles. An hour later began one of the strangest spectacles in modern history—the exodus from Siberia. It is estimated that a hundred thousand political exiles began their race back to Russia.

Traveling from the most inaccessible mines and settlements, they journeyed by sledge or trudged on foot to the nearest point on the Trans-Siberian railway. It was a race against time. The Spring thaw was approaching. If the exiles did not reach the railroad within two weeks the roads would be impassable. The wilderness would become a sea of mud. Far in the north, in the coldest settlements of the lower Lena, it would be impossible to move forward until the ice breaks on the river two months later.


The first large party consisted of one hundred and fifty political convicts and administrative exiles, including twenty members of the Jewish revolutionary band. The exiles were traveling in special cars and had been on the road continuously from March 24, five days after they first heard of the revolution.

The cars were met by a vast crowd at the railroad-station, which cheered them tumultuously. The returning exiles returned the cheers, but they were in a deplorable physical condition—shaggy, uncouth, unwashed, and extremely emaciated.

Many were crippled with rheumatism, two had lost hands and feet from frostbites, and one, who attempted flight a week before the revolution, had been shot in the leg when he was recaptured. He was lying in a prison-hospital when he learned that he was a free man.

Five days after the triumph of the revolution 6,000 exiles entered Irkutsk, but the vast majority were unable to proceed west, owing to the lack of rolling-stock. These encamped about the town and along the railroad, and at least a month will be needed before they can be sent home.

The crowds at Tyumen cheered the famous terrorist, Nicolai Anuikhin, who shot and killed the chief of the Petrograd-Warsaw Railway in 1906. His victim, General Fuchloff, was about to kidnap 400 railroad strikers and send them to Siberia.

Anuikhin, who introduced himself as "a released jailbird," is a gigantic, broad-shouldered, elderly man, with a gray imperial and an excited manner of speech. He said:

"After one year in European convict prisons I spent ten years in the Alexandrovsk prison, fifty miles from Irkutsk. This is the biggest convict jail in Russia and contained 12,000 ordinary criminals and about 500 political prisoners, mostly sentenced to life katroga, the severest[318] form of Russian punishment short of death.

"I spent the first five years in the so-called probation class, with hands and feet manacled and chained to a wheelbarrow which I had to take everywhere. In addition I was repeatedly flogged by order of the Governor. The Assistant Governor, during the absence of his chief, ordered daily floggings for his own satisfaction.

"The occupants of the different dormitories communicated by means of tappings and other systems of signaling. Although we also had means of communication with the outside world, we knew nothing of the revolution until the morning of our release.

"After our release we learned that the Assistant Governor, on getting the news of the revolution, declared that he would give a farewell flogging, 'in order to prepare my jailbirds for sweet liberty.'"

Among the political prisoners from Tobolsk was Alexander Popoff. He was sentenced to death for an alleged plot against the Emperor, a charge which he declares was a fabrication by the police. Popoff, who is a highly intelligent artizan, was chained by the wrists and ankles for four years. In describing his release, he says:

"A most remarkable feature of amnesty day in Tobolsk was the sudden demand for blacksmiths. The prison blacksmith, fearing the vengeance of the convicts, fled, and private blacksmiths, in the general orgy of revolutionary triumph, could not be found.

"In the meantime sixty chained men waited for their liberation. The newly formed committee of public safety, unable to find blacksmiths, drove the still chained convicts to the dismissed Governor's palace, where a banquet had been prepared, and we had our first free meal. Above the din of speeches and cheers for the Russian Republic could be heard the jangling of our shackles."

The news of the revolution reached the prisoners in[319] Siberia by various channels, but in all cases the announcement was unexpected and dramatic. In several places the police were wise enough to tell the news themselves in order to escape the danger of suddenly finding themselves in the power of men they had abused with impunity for years. The exiles rarely rose against their jailers. Basil Muravin, once a social revolutionist, tells this story:

"When the revolution occurred I was in the small Udinsk transport-prison awaiting the arrival of other convicts for dispatch together to the east. I had long lost hope of pardon when I learned that I was free. The discovery came in a most dramatic way. I was at the time in chains as a newcomer of unknown character. I heard a sudden shouting and afterward a terrific rifle-firing. It sounded as if a million cartridges had exploded in quick succession.

"Next bullets began to fly over the prison-yard. Finally a bullet cut the halyard of the Russian flag which waved over the prison-building. The flag dropped on the roof and shortly afterward a crowd stormed the prison and hoisted there a revolutionary ensign. My last experience of the old régime was a visit by the former Governor of the jail, who, fearing retaliation, begged me to sign a statement acquitting him of ill-treatment. Though his treatment of the convicts had been bad, I agreed, not desiring to mar Russia's new freedom by acts of petty vengeance."

In another case the priests announced the revolution in the churches.

Fifty exiles, who were in the congregation, rushed out, determined on vengeance on the local police-captain, who was a wanton tyrant. They were met by the policeman's ten-year-old daughter, who stood before her father and exclaimed, "Kill me first!" The child's action saved the captain's life.



This is the tale of a Hussar who had escaped twice from Russian prisons, faced murder, come half-round the world, and ran the British blockade. He was a reserve officer in the Austrian Army, a Hungarian captain in a famous regiment of Hussars. He was stationed in the fortress at Peremysl when the Russians advanced into the Karpathians and took the city. Taken prisoner, he was marched off to a detention camp near the front where the officers were separated from the soldiers. The men disappeared, but the officers were taken to a military prison near Odessa.

The prison fare was not particularly bad, but the monotony of the place was dreadful. Shut up as they were without anything to think of, they began to have all kinds of imaginary grievances—principally against one another. "If half the challenges to deadly combat are carried out there will be a duel a minute after the war," he says. It got to be positively ludicrous. Pompous and sensitive enough in all conscience in ordinary circumstances, the German and Austrian officers, under the nervous conditions of prison life, lived under a hair-trigger. If you accidentally bumped into a man on your morning walk, or if you forgot to bow in the usual manner, you promptly had a challenge to a duel—to be fought after the war, as there was nothing to fight with in prison.

Having been brought up along the Galician borders, this Hungarian spoke Russian like a native. This fact encouraged him to make an attempt to escape.

For some remarkable reason the Russians had allowed the captured officers to retain all their money. He himself had several thousand dollars in his pockets. When it became whispered around that he intended to make a[321] getaway, other officers asked him to carry money back to their families. The result was that when he slipped away he had nearly $30,000 in cash on his person.

He didn't tell me exactly how he managed to get away, but I inferred that it was through the bribery of some of the prison guards. At any rate he slipped out of the prison one night and turned eastward. His general plan was to make his way down through the passes of the Caucasus Mountains through Armenia, and thence to Turkey, where he would be safe.

Hiding by day and walking by night, he managed to get to a half-civilized little hamlet on the edge of the great mountains.

The wilderness of the journey before him left him rather appalled. He had intended to buy a horse and try to make his own way through, but he saw that this would be impossible. It inevitably meant losing his way and starving—if he were not killed by wandering bandits!

The town was full of wild-looking Kurdish mountaineers armed to the teeth. He decided to open negotiations with one of these to act as his guide. The first one approached readily agreed to act as his guard, guide, and escort on the long journey through the mountains. He said the fellow was as dirty as a pig and looked as tough as a Malay pirate, but his belt was filled like an arsenal.

Under his advice, the Hungarian officer bought a horse for about three times what it was worth. The arrangements were all made and they were to start the next morning when the wife of the Kurdish peasant at whose hut the Hungarian had taken lodging whispered him a word of warning.

"Don't go with him," she said. "As soon as you are one day out, he will kill you."

"Why should he kill me?" asked the Hussar.

The woman shrugged her shoulders. "Well, it is a[322] long journey," she said, "why should he take all that trouble when he could get your money in some other way?"

Her logic was at least convincing if not reassuring. The Hungarian took a little walk through the one street of the town. In the light of her warning, he saw that all the men there would kill a baby to get a drink of milk. They looked vicious enough to commit any crime.

The Hussar sat down to think it over. If he tried to go on through the mountains alone he would probably be followed and killed, or assassinated for his rifle by the wandering Kurdish tribes in the mountains. If his luck was good enough to keep him from being shot, he would lose his way and starve. If he went out with his guide, it was simply a question of how long the man allowed him to live. There was only one thing left to do—he must get back to the prison from which he had escaped, where he would find food, shelter, and safety.

He got up in the middle of the night, slipped out of the hut, and took the trail again. Without a great deal of difficulty he found his way back to the prison. A day or two later the sentinel at the officers' prison was amazed to see a Hungarian Hussar come nonchalantly up the road and ask to be let into prison.

They led him before the Russian governor of the prison who was furious.

"Where have you been?" he demanded.

"Why," said the Hussar blindly, "I have always wanted to see these wonderful mountains, so I just went out for a day or two to see the scenery."

"What do you think this is, a summer resort?" roared the Russian colonel.

The Hussar was ordered for a time into solitary confinement. But the Russian commandant was a pretty good fellow. Besides, with his education and his knowledge[323] of Russian, the Hungarian was very useful about the prison. So they restored him to favor very soon.

Meanwhile his uniform had worn out. They had to give him some kind of clothing, so they fitted him out with the clothes of a Russian peasant.

The loose, easy-going discipline of the prison, his pockets full of money, and these Russian clothes made escape the second time ridiculously easy.

He said it could scarcely be called escaping. He literally put on his hat and walked. He figured it out this time that the way to avoid detection was not to hide around dark corners; but to disarm suspicion by openly mixing with the crowds.

Wherefore he went openly down the streets to the railroad-depot, bought a ticket to Moscow in the ordinary way, and traveled just like any other passenger.

At Moscow he stopped for several weeks. His story became decidedly vague at this point.

He told me that he fell in with a woman who had the entrée to army circles in Russia and that she got him a card to a Russian officers' club where he hung around for two weeks, mingling with the officers without his nationality being suspected. The woman had in the meantime dressed him up in good clothes and had changed his Austrian money into Russian coinage.

The Hussar tried to give me the impression that the woman had fallen a victim to his manly charms and had thereby been induced to turn traitor to her country. I couldn't quite believe this, he didn't look the part.

From what we have since learned of Russian conditions, it seems very probable that, when the Hussar got to Moscow, he hunted up the circle of German spies who were operating there, reported for duty, and was taken care of.


"Well, what am I going to do—stay here for the rest of my life?" demanded the Hussar testily.

"Patience, my son," said the old man. "To-night there is another train—a scrubby little local train that runs back and forth across the border carrying the peasants and traders. No one pays any attention to that train. You will be on it when it goes out to-night."

When the local train left that night the Hussar was one of the passengers. The others were dirty, badly smelling Manchurian farmers.

But it carried him safely across the border and into China. Without further difficulty he made his way to America.

He was on his way to the Eastern coast and expected to take ship for Austria within a month. When his companion hinted that he would find it harder to get through the British blockade than to hoodwink the Russian officials, he winked. And sure enough, within three months the Westerner had received a card from him. He was back at his old table in the café of Peremysl, drinking cool concoctions from tall glasses.

(The foregoing stories are: (I) told in the New York Evening World; (II) told in the Los Angeles Times, and reprinted in the Literary Digest.)



"How We Saw Our Ship Go Down—Torpedoed by a German Submarine"

Told by Passengers of the Ill-Fated "Lusitania"

These tragic stories are like voices from the grave—the ocean giving up its dead. They are told by those who were saved from the tragedy ship on that fearful day, May 7, 1915 (at 2:08 P.M. Greenwich time) when the Lusitania, fifteen miles off "Old Head of Winsale" on the Irish coast, was torpedoed by a German submarine. The Lusitania sailed from New York at noon, May 1, 1915, carrying 1,959 persons—passengers and crew. It had been warned by official notices from the German embassy that it would be attacked by German submarines, which only aggravates the crime by making plain its deliberate intention. The voyage was uneventful until the seventh, when the ship, running at 17 knots, was nearing its destination. It was shortly after luncheon, the sea was calm, when two torpedoes struck the Lusitania. The scenes of terror which followed are described by the survivors—a few of their stories, typical of their fearful experiences, are told here. The ship sank in less than twenty minutes, and 1,198 men, women, and children went down into an ocean grave.


I was on the bridge of the Lusitania (at 2:08 Friday afternoon, May 7, 1915, off Old Head of Kinsdale on Irish Coast) when I saw a torpedo speeding toward us, and immediately I tried to change our course, but was unable to man[oe]uvre out of its way. There was a terrible[326] impact as the torpedo struck the starboard side of the vessel, and a second torpedo followed almost immediately. This one struck squarely over the boilers. I tried to turn the Lusitania shoreward, hoping to beach her, but her engines were crippled and it was impossible. Until the Lusitania came to a standstill it was absolutely out of the question to launch the boats—they would have been swamped. It has been suggested that it was impact with ammunition in the cargo that made the work of the torpedoes so deadly, but if there had been ammunition in the cargo the Lusitania would have been blown to pieces. I saw the torpedoes with my own eyes as did many others. It was cold-blooded murder.

I was in the water four hours after the Lusitania sank. I am a strong swimmer, and so was able to keep afloat until I was rescued. When I was swimming about, suddenly a German submarine rose to the surface amid the wreckage, then submerged again. Some persons in lifeboats nearby saw the submarine even better than I did.

(As Captain Turner went about the streets of Queenstown he tried bravely to cheer the survivors, but he seemed stunned. For the most part he walked with bowed head, and many of those he met did not recognize him. When told of the recovery of Charles Frohman's body, and of the finding of many other Americans among the dead, tears came to his eyes.)


It was seven or eight minutes after 2 o'clock when the torpedo struck us, and my watch stopped at 2:33, when I went into the water a half minute before the Lusitania disappeared. Captain Turner was on the bridge when the ship went down, and the last order I heard him give was[327] "Hard aport," just before the torpedo struck. It seems as though he was trying to turn the ship to escape the torpedo. I rushed on deck, but met two women in the companionway who shouted "torpedo"! I rushed back to my stateroom for some belongings, but as the water was coming through the promenade deck I didn't wait, but rushed back to the deck again. Most everybody went to the cabins for life preservers. There was no panic, though lots of excitement. Not even a panic when the ship went down.

The worst thing was the inefficiency with the lifeboats. On the port side many of the davits wouldn't work and the boats would not go over. The tackle broke on one of four or five boats I saw lowered, while one dropped from the davits and split in two. A few of the collapsible boats floated away upside down, while one raft, which some one cut away with an axe, crushed some men who were trying to climb into a boat.

There was a great whirlpool when the Lusitania finally settled into the sea, but no suction. I was drawn into the whirlpool, but had no trouble in swimming out. She went down very fast at one end. Our boat, which was the most crowded of all, with eighty-four in it, was almost swamped by the wireless antennæ, which swept across us as the Lusitania keeled over for the last time before she righted and sank.

The daughter of Lady Allan told me she saw the submarine, but I know of no one else who did. Shots were fired while we were in the small boats, about twenty minutes after the Lusitania sank, but I don't know if they were from the submarine. They might have been signals from land. The only boat in sight was a fishing smack, or pilot boat, three or four miles away. There was smoke on the horizon, and one vessel seemed to be coming up, but she sheered off.


The wireless operator told me he got in four wireless signals and got an answer to the last one. The boats rowed toward the smack, which took part of the people on board and towed two other boatloads. It was 5 o'clock when we were picked up, and at that time no boat was anywhere near the scene of the wreck. One trawler got to the wreck about 5:30. It was followed by two torpedo boats and eight or nine other boats. Captain Turner had ordered some lifeboats swung over the side on Wednesday and all swung over on Thursday morning, but the rafts and collapsible boats were not touched, but remained securely fastened. There was plenty of boat accommodation if there had been time to get them over.

The men all waited until no women were in sight before they went into the boats. I never believed it true before, but there seemed to be a regular chorus all the time on the Lusitania: "Women first! Women first!"


I think I can say that I was one of the few persons who really saw a torpedo discharged at the Lusitania. Coming on deck from the dining saloon. I was leaning against the starboard rail of the ship when I saw the periscope of a submarine about two hundred yards away. Then I noticed a long white streak of foam. It gave me the impression of frothy fizzing in water. A woman came to me and said: "There's a torpedo coming." Before she had finished the explosion took place and tons of debris were blown up through the four decks. Almost immediately there was a terrific impact, followed by an explosion. The Lusitania was going at fifteen knots at the time. The shot was perfectly aimed at the boat, and when it struck, debris, dust and water were thrown up in[329] a dense column through the entire superstructure of the vessel about the bridge. A hundred must have been blown to atoms, including trimmers and stokers, to say nothing of men and women in the forward cabins, who were about to come on deck.

The Lusitania fell over to starboard and then slowly righted part way. Nearly every one rushed below. I went to the flying deck and stood between the funnels, where I could see them making an awful mess of getting the boats out. They were cutting and hacking at them. The first boat floated away empty. The next three were smashed. The Marconi main room was put out of commission by the first torpedo; then the wireless operator rushed to the emergency room, and just as he got the first reply to the "S. O. S." the whole apparatus went out of action.

The first torpedo hit amidship by the grand entrance to the saloon and rear of the bridge. A Marconi man rushed to me and offered me a chair, and said I had better take that, as it might be useful and better than nothing.

A few moments after the explosion the vessel toppled over, as if she were in drydock and some of the underpinning on the starboard side had been knocked away. There was a frantic dash from the starboard entrances to the port side and from below women were shouting, "What shall we do?" They knew well what had happened, as the chance of being torpedoed was discussed every day. I heard nothing else on the voyage. When the Lusitania listed still more I slid off the flying deck on to the boat deck, and from there fell into a boat lying alongside. As I got into the boat she was swept almost away by one of the funnels falling across her, and we only managed to push clear. I saw a minister's wife sucked right down one of the funnels and shot out again,[330] looking like a piece of burned coal. We managed to save her. I rowed for some time with a woman between my knees before discovering that she was dead.

There was no great excitement, in the real sense of the word. Most of the women tried hard to keep cool, and except for occasional screams of "Where is my husband? Where is my child?" they acted bravely. I noticed more people going below than coming on deck after the explosion. The last person I spoke to before the vessel went down was Mrs. Mason, the young American daughter of William Lindsay, a manufacturer of Boston, who was on her honeymoon. She was asking for her husband.

Alfred Vanderbilt I saw standing outside the grand entrance of the saloon, looking quite happy and perfectly composed. He was holding a jewel case for a lady, for whom he was apparently waiting. I did not see Charles Frohman until I saw his body in a mortuary. His was the most peaceful face among all those I saw there. There was no trace of agony, and unlike others his features were not disfigured in any way. Frohman was none too well on the voyage, and was hardly able to walk, so he remained in his cabin most of the time, where, I believe, he was when the ship sank. Elbert Hubbard and his wife I also believe went down in their cabin.

The first two boats from the port side were manned principally by officers. The slow speed gave the Germans an absolutely pointblank shot. They couldn't miss. Only God's fair weather and daylight brought us ashore. If the Lusitania had been convoyed or had put on speed she would have been here now.

The wireless operators were still sending out calls from their emergency apparatus, the main wireless room having been disorganized. The ship was now listing badly to starboard, and, taking a swivel chair which an operator offered to me, I slid down into the water and to a[331] boat which was still attached to the davits and which was partly covered with water. We cleared the boat not a moment too soon, for we had hardly done so when the vessel went down on the starboard side, one of the funnels grazing our heads. In the twinkling of an eye the monster vessel disappeared amidst the cries of those who had been caught. It was one long indescribable scene of agony. There was floating debris on all sides and men and women and children clinging for dear life to deck chairs and rafts which littered the water. Many were entangled in wreckage, and one by one they seemed to fall off and give themselves up.

About the last thing I saw happen on the boat was the chief Marconi operator taking a photograph when the vessel was listed to 45 degrees, but the pictures were spoiled by the water. We rowed around for three and a half hours before we were picked up.


I saw the wake of the first torpedo the moment before the Lusitania was struck. I was on the upper deck. Looking out to sea, I saw all at once the wash of a torpedo, indicated by the snakelike churn on the surface of the water. It was about thirty feet away. Then came the thud as it struck the ship. Mr. Berth and his wife, of New York, first class passengers, were the last persons I spoke to on the ship. About this time all the passengers in the dining saloon had come up on deck. The upper deck was crowded, and the passengers were wondering what was the matter, few really believing that the ship had been torpedoed. They began to lower boats. I saw Berth help his wife into a boat. I fell into the same boat and we were shipped down into the water.


About a minute after the boat struck the water, I looked up and cried out: "My God! The Lusitania is gone!" We saw her entire bulk, which had been almost upright just a few seconds before, suddenly lurch over away from us. Then she seemed to stand upright in the water and the next instant the keel of the vessel caught the keel of our boat and we were thrown into the water. There were only about thirty people in the boat and I should say that all were stokers or third class passengers.

When the boat was overturned I sank fifteen or twenty feet and I thought I was a goner. However, I had my lifebelt around me and I managed to rise again to the surface. There I floated for possibly ten or fifteen minutes, when I made a grab at a collapsible lifeboat, to which other passengers were clinging. We managed to get it shipshape and clamber in. There were eight or nine in the boat. It was partly filled with water, and in the scramble which occurred the boat overturned, and once more we were pitched into the water. This occurred, I should say, eight times, the boat righting itself each time. Before we were picked up by the Bluebell six of the party of eight or nine were lying drowned in the bilge water in the bottom of the boat. It was cold-blooded, deliberate murder and nothing else—the greatest murder the world has ever known.


I was in the smoking room when the explosion took place. It shook the whole ship, just as a train would shake if the locomotive suddenly stopped and backed into it. I did not, of course, know what it was, and it did not occur to me that we had been torpedoed. I[333] thought it might be a mine, or that we had run upon a rock, but it simply did not occur to my mind to imagine anything so horrible as that this defenseless ship with its helpless passengers would be torpedoed without warning.

I left the smoking room and went out on deck to look over the side at the spot where the ship was when the explosion took place. It was about 300 feet away. The ship began to take a list to starboard, but very slowly. There was no panic, either then or at any other time. Many other passengers came out and looked over the side, just as I did, but there were no signs of alarm or any rushing about.

I went down to "A" deck to see what was happening there, but there was no commotion, any more than there was on the upper one, to which I returned. But the ship was listing more and more. The lifeboats had been swung out the previous day, and I saw women and children being put into them by sailors. There was no rushing for the boats, no struggling for places; everything was being done with perfect calmness and orderliness. I went down to my cabin, meeting many people in the alleyways with lifebelts and others going for them.

I made my way aft, and seeing no one on the navigating bridge, scrambled up there, where I could observe everything that was happening along one side of the ship. The ship now heeled over so much that the passengers were clinging to the deck rail. It was a terrible sight; their helplessness, with the great ship steadily going down under us.

Suddenly there came a terrific rumbling, roaring noise; the huge ship trembled as her funnels went over, and she just slid under the waves by the head. Then she seemed to be suddenly checked, as though her bow had struck something, but it was only momentary, and in another moment she disappeared under the water. I went[334] down with her, but came to the surface again very quickly. All around me I saw great numbers of persons struggling in the water. Presently there floated near me a rectangular sheet metal can, like the air tank of a lifeboat, and I clutched it. I waited for a rescuer, but there was none in sight. Then two men came along, hanging on to a barrel with handles on each end, so I brought my tank over and caught on to it for company. We were hanging on for some time, when a man of seventy-five and a boy of seventeen came along on a plank. The boy could not swim. We caught them and added them and their plank to our party.

After another twenty minutes or so we saw in the distance what looked like a raft, so we swam toward it, pushing our supports. It took us nearly half an hour to reach that raft, and it turned out to be a collapsible boat.

We were in this boat some time, and were taking in water steadily, when a man weighing perhaps 250 pounds floated by, without any life preserver. He was all in, but we got him aboard. Next a foreigner, who could speak no English, got in with us. Then a woman floated along with a deck chair and an oar, and we took her aboard, but it was doubtful how long we could remain afloat, so one man took the can I spoke of and pushed off on his own account.

At last, at 6.10, after four hours in the water, the trawler took us in. We were stiff and cold, and went down to the engine room to dry our clothes. We were tended with the greatest care by the crew. It was an experience no man would like to face again, and those who went through it will have a lasting memory of its horror. Why, I remember on the voyage over remarking that I never saw so many babies and young children on any ship.



After the explosion quiet and order were soon accomplished by assurances from the stewards. I proceeded to the deck promenade for observation and saw only that the ship was fast leaning to starboard. I hurried toward my cabin below for a lifebelt and turned back because of the difficulty in keeping upright. I struggled to D deck and forward to the first-class cabin, where I saw a Catholic priest.

I could find no belts and returned again toward E deck and saw a stewardess struggling to dislodge a belt. I helped her with hers and secured one for myself. I then rushed to D deck and noticed one woman perched on the gunwale, watching a lowering lifeboat ten feet away. I pushed her down and into the boat, then jumped in. The stern of the lifeboat continued to lower, but the bow stuck fast. A stoker cut the bow ropes with a hatchet, and we dropped in a vertical position.

A girl whom we had heard sing at a concert was struggling and I caught her by the ankle and pulled her in. A man I grasped by the shoulders and I landed him safe. He was the barber of the first-class cabin, and a more manly man I never met. He showed his courage and his will later on.

We pushed away hard to avoid the suck, but our boat was fast filling and we bailed fast with one bucket and the women's hats. The man with the bucket became exhausted and I relieved him. In a few minutes she was level full. Then a keg floated up and I pitched it about ten feet away and followed it. After reaching it I turned to see the fate of our boat. She had capsized and covered many. Now a young steward, Freeman, by name, had approached me, clinging to a deck chair. I urged[336] him to grab the other side of the keg several times. He grew faint, but harsh speaking roused him. Once he said: "I am going to go," but I ridiculed this and it gave him strength. By stroking with our legs we succeeded in reaching a raft.

We were in the water about one hour and a half. At this time I suffered from violent vomiting. Then followed appalling chills, but by beating myself I restored my energy and was soon handling an oar. Freeman collapsed, but recovered after reaching the patrol boat Brock. There were about twenty-three persons on the raft. They worked nobly in picking five of us up after what seemed an eternity.

The good boat Brock and her splendid officers and men took us aboard. I went to the engine room and stripped to the skin. Here and in the room above I cared for men and women as they were rescued. Little ten-year-old Frank Hook had his left thigh bone fractured. This I reduced and splinted, and in a short while Frank asked, "Is there a funny paper on the boat?"

At the scene of the catastrophe the surface of the water seemed dotted with bodies. Only a few of the lifeboats seemed to be doing any good. The cries of "My God!" "Save us!" and "Help!" gradually grew weaker from all sides and finally a low weeping, wailing, inarticulate sound, mingled with coughing and gurgling, made me heartsick. I saw many men die. Some appeared to be sleepy and worn out just before they went down, others grew gradually blue and an air of hunger gave their features a sardonic smile.

There was no suction when the ship settled. She went down steadily and at the best possible angle. The lifeboats were not in order and they were not manned. Most of the people rushed to the upper decks.

I did not hear a second explosion. There is no more[337] horrible or pitiable sight possible than the sight of the faces of mothers and babies and girls here in the morgues.

Weighing all the facts soberly convinces me that it was only through the mercy of God that any one was saved. I sailed from America that I might offer my services as a surgeon. I have visited the Valley of Death and am heartsick.


Ninety-two passengers of the Lusitania who formed part of that pitiful handful of maimed, dead and dying brought ashore with the survivors of the disaster that followed the attack on the vessel by a German submarine were buried with services that have no parallel in history. Under a sky in which not a single cloud floated and to the strains of hymns played by British soldiers they were laid to rest two miles behind Queenstown in a cemetery bursting with spring greenery and tucked between hills flaming with gorse. The services at the graves began at four o'clock, and at half-past four the sod of Ireland was being shovelled upon the coffins.

Queenstown sensed the full horror of the Lusitania disaster. Up to the time that the long stream of coffins began to disappear over the hill behind the town there was about the affair, what with the continued searches for survivors and the bustle about the morgue, something of the unusual and theatric. But when the funeral started the realization came that each of these cheap coffins held a body and that in the Atlantic, less than twenty miles away, there were more than a thousand in addition, all victims of a German submarine.

The townsfolk stood hatless nearly all forenoon as the[338] coffins were conveyed to the cemetery on carts. This process required hours, and it was not until three o'clock in the afternoon that the funeral procession proper left the Cunard offices at the waterfront. There were only three bodies, one each in a hearse, in this cortège, the other eighty-nine already having been placed in the graves.

With the British army band playing Chopin's "Funeral March" the funeral procession marched through the crooked streets past the cathedral, which stands on the highest point of the town, and then took its course along an undulating country road, now rising and now sinking between green hills. Along this road country folk were clustered for the most part, perched on stone fences behind the soldiers who guarded the road the entire two miles from the cathedral to the cemetery. Those waiting in the graveyard first heard, borne faintly on the soft breeze, the notes of the funeral march and then the sound of muffled drums. A moment later the sun flashed on the band instruments and the cortège took form in the distance. Not for more than an hour, however, did it reach the lane bordering the cemetery, which it entered in the following order:—

A major of the Royal Irish infantry on horseback, five members of the Irish Constabulary and a group of Protestant churchmen, then in black robes came thirteen priests, and behind them were the hearses, draped with British flags, to the rear of which trudged the mourners, among them several American survivors of the disaster.

The sailors from the steamship Wayfarer, which was recently torpedoed but was able to make port, came next, and behind them the members of the Corporation of Cork, headed by the Lord Mayor. A company of marines followed and then came sailors of the various British ships in harbor. The British officers, numbering[339] a hundred odd, marched erect but slow. Next in line were captains Miller and Castle, Attachés of the American Embassy in London. Both were dressed in khaki uniforms. A party of British naval officers and Admiral Sir Charles Coke, of Queenstown, followed them. The Most Reverend Robert Browne, Bishop of Cloyne, rode in a carriage.

The procession was a full hour in passing into the cemetery. There soldiers guarded the walls as six other soldier pallbearers lifted the coffins from the hearses and set them beside the graves. The three coffins rested beside separate graves. The other eighty-nine had previously been placed in three great pits—sixty-five in one, in layers two deep, and twelve each in the other two. Conducted by Bishop Browne, the Catholic service was held first, the choir boys bearing incense, appearing from a cluster of elms and coming to the graveside. The Church of Ireland service, that is, the Protestant Episcopal, followed, and finally the non-conformist rites were performed. As the last words of this service were spoken the muffled drums rolled and the familiar hymn, "Abide with Me," swelled forth. Sailors who had replaced the soldier pallbearers then lowered the coffins into the small graves, and simultaneously the earth began to thud on the coffins in all the graves. The crowd, nearly all with eyes wet, slowly left, some to take jaunting cars, but most of them to trudge across the fields of the city. As they reached the crest of the hill immediately above the harbor flashed into view and in it the flag of every vessel fluttered at half mast.

Many children and little babies lie in the morgues like so many dolls. The townspeople covered them with flowers yesterday and it is probable these little ones will be placed in a grave together.



Personal Experiences Direct from the Front

This is a series of personal narratives and letters from the American soldiers with Pershing in France. This great American army "captivated the French imagination." Our boys who have gone across seas to fight with the Allies carried the American flag into new glories and triumphs that will become epics of valor in the annals of mankind. These letters have been collected by the New York Sun, with whose permission they are given permanent historical record. They give a clear insight into the American soldier's life in the first days of Pershing's army in France.


(Told by Private Joseph A. Deegan, of the Eleventh Railway Engineers)

The daily life of the American soldiers and their relations with those of other nations is an intimate and interesting phase of the war concerning which little has been published. Here is a description of them among the French, the Chinese laborers and Hindus and the German trenches:

Fine is no name for the way I feel. The climate in the part of France we have finally settled in is just betwixt and between. It is lukewarm. Over in England it was rain, rain, rain. Everything was wet and muddy. We slept and ate in mud right up to our mustaches. However, the blooming little isle had its good points, so[341] I ought not to knock it. London gave us a royal welcome, and I now have a few good friends there. A live time also awaits me if I ever go back to Exeter, Aldershot or Folkestone.

But turning the film back to La Belle France, here we have nice climate, an exciting war, excellent champagne and a set of girls that would make the boys back home green with envy. What more could a man ask? The only trouble with the French people is their unfailing habit of trying to overcharge us. However, we are getting on to their curves now and take discounts off every price they ask. For instance, when I go into a candy shop the proprietress will exclaim: "Ah, bon Americain." Then she will proceed to quote me one and one-half francs for a bar of five-cent chocolate. After a little hesitation and figuring on my part I slip her half a franc, and even at that she is making a 75 per cent profit. She accepts the slight reduction with a deprecating air, and probably mutters to herself: "Those Yankees are as stupid as foxes." Aside from our little monetary differences we and the French are the most affectionate of comrades.

Somewhere in France we camped next door to a Chinese labor camp. There was a small army of them. The Mongolians are the best pals we have run into yet. They were so honored by the attention paid to them by the whites that they broke their necks to please us. When I said to a Chink: "Gimme a cigarette, Charlie," he would run a quarter of a mile to his tent and come back with a fistful. Some of the Chinks even wanted to lend money to our boys. Unfortunately, however, our bunch got to selling them, at exorbitant prices, gold rings that after a rainstorm resembled the Irish flag, and wrist watches with the small item of works entirely missing. The English soldiers sort of wised up the Yellow Perils[342] to our tricks and before we parted company with them they became noticeably cool toward us. Well, they were Coolies, anyhow. That's a cool joke.

Lower down in France we were camped directly opposite a tribe of Hindus—you know, the kind with knotted Turkish towels for hats. These birds bury and pick the pockets of all soldiers killed on the front, so you cannot sell them trinkets. They have carloads of them. The Hindus are surlier and dirtier than the Chinese gentlemen, and we did not mingle with them so freely. If you want to get them drawing knives just holler, "Buddha no bon!" They are fanatics on religion. About a week ago we visited their camp and they immediately challenged us to a tug of war. They had about twelve on one end of the rope and we had only seven. Evidently, however, they are not over strong, because we pulled them almost up to the firing line. They are hard losers, and might have drawn their bowies, but I think they suspected we were Irish, so they remained peaceable.

The guns play a constant tattoo at night, and I am getting used to them now. The other day a few other fellows and myself made a tour of inspection among some recently deserted German trenches up near the line. In them we found feather beds, a box of cigars and, last but not least, a beautifully toned organ. The feather beds were wet and coated with mud, so we couldn't bother with them. You will say "Impossible" when I say I left the cigars there also. This I did, however, as the Germans have a playful habit of poisoning such dainties. The organ was badly warped and too far below the ground to attempt to salvage, but we stayed there for a while and I made the subterranean passages echo to the strains of "Ragging the Scale."

Another pet trick that the Germans employ is to leave[343] a watch hanging on the wall of their abandoned trenches. Said watch connects with a high explosive bomb which explodes when the Ingersoll is removed from the wall. The other night I was talking with a couple of English soldiers, who told me that the English and Bavarians became so friendly at one stage of the war that a squad of the English soldiers crossed over to the German trenches one night, had a little souse party with the Bavarians and returned back to the allied trenches in the morning. For this they were court-martialled. They say that the Bavarians will frequently holler over to the English not to fire any shots so that they can eat their dinner in quiet, and they will reciprocate in like manner. The English apparently have no hard feelings against the Bavarians, but sure do hate the Prussians. Yesterday I saw a vicious air fight. The German aviator looped the loop with his machine fully a dozen times in order to escape the machine-gun fire from the Allies' planes, and escape he did, for I saw him shooting over the German lines leaving his pursuers far behind.

Any German prisoners I see I always give them a cheery, "Wie gehts?" and some of them answer "Good morning" in English. They are sick of the war and claim they are glad to be prisoners. Visited a large French city the other day which the Germans had occupied but which was recaptured by the French. No human being could imagine the destruction that has been wrought there. Among the thousands of houses there is not a single one that could be lived in. Most of them are beaten to dust, churches and everything else. An old Frenchman there told me with tears in his eyes how his daughter and the rest of the girls of the city had been forcibly taken away by the Germans when they were evacuating the city. I can now understand enough French to converse in a broken way. The slogan here[344] now is, "Give the Germans hell and take no prisoners." From all stories and indications they have acted like barbarians and deserve the worst treatment possible. Their fire is becoming weaker and I think their days are numbered. The Americans will put the finishing touches on them, and don't be surprised if I send you a postcard from Berlin some day.


(Told by Edward J. Doyle, with American Army)

The experiences and the souvenirs—such as a piece of shell shot through an ambulance and buttons cut from the uniforms of German prisoners—of a volunteer in the American Red Cross service are recorded in this letter.

Sherman was right, but he knows nothing about it. I suppose by this time you know all about the attack, and needless to say I have been through it all. Haven't had my clothes off in over a week and my total sleep might average about three hours a day for that time, so you can imagine how I feel. We haven't been working all the time, but we get shelled out of every place we try to sleep, when we get a chance, and that's worse than working. We are quite a way to the left of where I wrote from last. We relieved a section that could not stand the work—that was before the attack—and you can imagine what it was during and since the attack.

We arrived at B—— a week ago this morning and started in. That night the Germans shelled that town, and imagine, it's about fifteen miles from the German lines. We were alone in a barn, and when the shells began to go over our heads and gas with it, you can see how much sleep we had. Next morning Bud and I started out, and the car is running rotten. The Germans are shelling the road all the way from here. This is our first post out[345] of R——, about three miles from B——. Don't try to look up these towns; it's a useless task. Poste 4, a like distance from R——. We get in the middle of Hill ——, about a mile from Poste 2, when the car dies.

About 100 yards ahead of us is a crossroad and the Boche is shelling it. Bud and I didn't realize where we were, and all alone, mud over our shoe tops where we stopped. We worked on the car for one and a half hours, falling in the mud every time a German shell came through the air. We got eleven holes in our car from that morning, and a piece of shell went right through an inch rod on the front of the car. I'll show you a picture of that. We were the first in the section to get hit, and how we escaped alive is the wonder of every one who has seen the car, and we are always the center of attraction when we stop along the road or at the postes. I have a piece of shell that went through the car—a souvenir. We were in the most dangerous part of the whole woods—French guns on every side of us, but of course we didn't know—and those were what the Germans were after.

When we finally decided we couldn't get the car to run we made for a nearby dugout, and a Frenchman there told us we had our nerve. I left Bud there and walked back to this post—about three and one-half miles—got another car and towed our own back—that was our baptism of fire, and it was plenty. We got our car fixed up that day and worked all that night and the next day. That night we were dead, and the damn Germans shelled B—— again, and we had to get out twice during the night and run for a nearby quarry, and no one who has not been through it can imagine the feeling of being awakened by hearing a shell go over your head, and almost before you can get into your shoes and out[346] of a place another drops near by. It's a thousand times worse than being on a shelled road because you can see a shell hit the road and invariably another follows—wait for the second one to land and then beat it—some sport.

I'm at P. J. Left now, our most advanced post with the exception of one about a mile from here, which we make only at night, as the Germans can see the road from their first lines. They must have seen us on the road—some plane of theirs—as they have been shelling here ever since we arrived. We're in the dugout now and I don't expect to find my car when I come out at the rate the shells are landing around here.

Now for the attack. Sunday we were at Post 4—a piece of shell just landed on my helmet. I'm just at the entrance of the dugout—got to stop—it's getting too warm.

Friday, 1:50 P.M.—Just got out of P. J. Left. They shelled it from 12 o'clock yesterday until 9:30 last night. Blew up everything in sight but our dugout; killed a couple of the brancardiers; blew up the kitchen, and you should have seen what was left of our car—everything was hit on the darn thing but the air in the tires.

The French made another attack last night on Hill —— and took it. You have undoubtedly read about it if you have followed the news. Back for the attack now—Sunday we were at Post 4, that is, my car—and we made a couple of trips from there, and all Sunday night the woods were just ablaze with guns firing and the boys went over the top at 4:40. All we carried that night had been gassed and there was a bunch of them. At 5:10 a car came to poste, saying they could not make Poste 2—the road was blocked—so the lieutenant telephoned and gave me a note to deliver to Poste 2—that meant get it there. Well, we started out, and such a[347] sight! There was one whole ammunition train along the road that had been shelled and gassed—every horse dead—and not only horses. We got to Hill ——, where Bud and I were stuck, and such a sight!

Two trains had been gassed, and we cut the horses that were still alive from the carriages and then there was a stampede. I shall never forget that morning—the road blocked, shell holes, gas, dead horses, at least fifty of them, in less distance than a city block, and this awful racket. Well, we got the road cleared and made Poste 2, and there it was worse than ever. Our chief and sous-chief and about six of our boys had been there all night, gas masks on for nine hours. Two of them had shell shock, another hysterical, and the dead and wounded all around us. I'm poor at description, and you could never picture such a scene. Well, we got a load and started back. You could still cut the gas, and after we had gone a way one of the couchés rapped on the window. We stopped. The fellow on the top stretcher had died, his head had fallen off the edge of the stretcher and he was leaking from the mouth on the chap below. We took him out, fixed his head on the stretcher and started on, shells dropping all around us. How we ever got through no one knows, but we did, and that's just the way things went. Carried Boches and cut buttons off some of the prisoners—have a Boche helmet and gas mask—souvenirs.


(Told by (name suppressed), 11th Regiment Railway Construction Engineers)

This member of Company D, 11th Regiment Railway Construction Engineers, swings pick and axe and acts as chauffeur on a handcar, but he enjoys it heartily.


For several days we have been busy getting some new drills, but unfortunately I am not at liberty to tell you the nature of them.

All day yesterday was my own time, but I was too busy cleaning up to write. The sun was shining most of the day, for a change, so I was able to wash my clothes, air my blankets, etc., and take a real bath.

We made stoves out of some large oil cans, and as we have deep pans we boiled our clothes out and then scrubbed them well on our washboard. But the real treat was our bath. We walked about half a mile to a British camp, where they have some bath. They have rigged up a small room with live steam in it. We stood in the room for at least a half hour and just perspired. Then a cold shower and, believe me, for the first time since I left home I was real clean.

Do you remember how you laughed at my army shoes because they were so heavy? Well, you should see our shoes now. They are the same as the Tommies wear in the trenches. The soles are nearly as thick as the heels on our other shoes. Besides, the heels and soles are studded with iron plates and hobnails. Of course they are very heavy, but for all of that they are very fine shoes, as the wear in them surpasses the lighter American shoe and they are better protection from water. We have also discarded the canvas leggings and are now wearing the spiral cloth puttees.

We are still in a rest camp belonging to the British, but suppose we will be moving off to our own base in the near future. The powers that be know best.

In the Base Camp—Hurrah! Received your package yesterday in perfect condition, and maybe I wasn't happy, also the squad, for of course they have to have some of it. Best of all, the cigarettes and tobacco are real American[349] products. I do not care for the English stuff. And the candy—well, "nuf sed!"

Last night a number of us walked around a very interesting battlefield. If I should give you its name you would remember it as one of the famous ones of the war. I have never seen so much junk lying round as there is on this old battleground. Bullets, old shells, helmets, guns and what not. There is so much stuff we did not bother to pick it up. We found a number of English rifles and shrapnel helmets, some with a lot of holes in them. I guess the men who wore them are dead. As for graves, well, in some spots they are as thick as daisies.

You wanted to know if I had taken any pictures. Unfortunately all cameras were confiscated, so nothing doing in that direction. As it is, there is very little scenery of interest where we are. The country is fairly well blasted and the tops of all the trees are gone; but you can see such pictures in the Sunday supplements.

I do not know, of course, if the newspapers say that we are being well fed or not, but we certainly do not feel the effects of the U-boat war. While we were in the rest camp we did not eat any too well, but now that we are in a permanent camp everything is changed. How does roast beef, tomatoes, brown gravy, butter, tea, jam and apple dumplings sound? Of course the apple dumplings were not hard to get, as we have the apples growing in our camp. The flour, however, came from the good old U. S. A.

For the last few days I have been swinging a heavy pick and axe and playing chauffeur (with some other fellows) on a handcar. Believe me, it is hard work pumping one of those cars heavily loaded against a head wind or on an up grade. However, the work is doing me worlds of good. I am feeling fine and getting stronger every day.


There is something doing on our front to-night. From all the banging noise Tommy must be strafing Fritz good and plenty.

We have had several issues of tobacco since we arrived in this part of the world. I do not know where the tobacco comes from, but imagine it is part of the money collected from our good citizens in New York. The only trouble is that it is English tobacco and not the good old American kind.

It would surprise many of our curio seeking friends to see what we do with those that we pick up. Our poker is an old French bayonet, something that many a person would put in a cabinet under lock and key.

On Leave.—Immediately after breakfast I started for a very famous city some nine or ten miles from our camp. I stopped in for a friend of mine, in one of the other companies. We started to walk to town in hopes of having a motor lorry (just plain motor truck in America) overtake us, but we had covered some five miles before we were overtaken by a horse-drawn wagon.

This particular city (censor forbids my giving name) was never reached by the Huns except at long range bombardment. One can hardly believe the amount of destruction the Huns are capable of doing when they start out on their career of hate.

In this town they seem to have centered their vengeance on a most beautiful church and one of the fine old cemeteries that France is noted for. The church was not entirely demolished, but I think it is beyond repair. As for the cemetery, many a poor Frenchman returned to the surface before the Angel Gabriel had blown his trumpet.

Just next to this old cemetery is a new one. Instead of old tombstones and marble crypts, this plot is marked with many small white wooden crosses. Here and there[351] one can find a more pretentious cross, indicating an officer. One cannot realize the tug at the heartstrings until one has seen the hand marks of "Kultur." The only consolation, a brutal one, is that on the way to the town are many graves with German names on the crosses.

But let's get cheerful and talk of the main object of my trip, to get something to eat. The real fun of the day came while we were eating. Fritz paid us a visit by aeroplane and dropped a few visiting cards in the shape of bombs. A couple of Tommies were eating in the same room, and as they showed a great deal of sang froid I was compelled to do the same. However, my real fear was that I wouldn't be able to finish my eggs, but would have to dive for a bomb-proof. Fortunately he was driven away before much damage was done and I finished my eggs in peace.

I forgot to tell you that our quarters are the most comfortable we have had. We are in a hut which is built like a tunnel. The outside is made of corrugated iron, but the inside is lined with wood. There are fourteen of us in my hut, but there is plenty of room. We sleep on cots for the first time since we left Fort Totten.


(Told by Wallace Gibbs)

Our guide in this trench is with a British siege gun battery shelling and being shelled by the Germans on the Flanders front. He tells of a stormy night under shell fire.

Aug. 13, 1917.

Your letter followed me all around Blighty and over half of France. And yet it got me. Got me in the[352] middle of a tree-shattered, shell-pocked country field, in a wee hole in the ground. That's some postal service for you!

Guns are going merrily to-night. Fritz was putting up S. O. S. signals a bit ago. He dropped one on our cook house about a quarter of an hour ago. Poor "Ginger," our cook, got it badly. Head, back and leg.

You can't dodge 'em here; there's too much row. Besides, one don't hear the shell that's going to get one. Don't know whether that's a blessing or not. A vivid imagination is no good to any one out here. Some fellows are jumpy with expectation; others are always smelling gas, and so on.

Saw a boche plane brought down yesterday. He made a terrific attempt to get right, almost succeeded, then nose dived plumb!

Can you picture me in a little narrow, gravelike hole, writing this—and guns firing behind me and Hun shrapnel whining and bursting with a ping just outside? That's the doings just now. Fritz is being real nasty.

You just live on chance at this game. One gets callous—only thoughts of home annoy a bit. One fellow got killed early this morning. It was hard lines. Fritz was pushing the shell over; it was black and wet, only gun flashes giving light now and again, leaving it blacker than before. (Things are rotten in the night!) One came very near to where they were unloading shell. He made a dive for an old trench: just then another burst. He copped it when he had only a yard to go. Another second would have done it. It's all luck. I was at the cook house to-night; I left just a bit before. I said to a fellow, "Are you going up to the guns?" He said, "No." So I pushed off on my own.

Still that's only stray shooting, nothing to what we give Fritz. He must have hell in his lines. He's getting[353] what the British once got, only more so. He didn't have to fight then, he merely walked over. Now he gets as good as he gives, and he don't like it. You never saw such a weary, scared-looking crowd in your natural as the mob that came in from the latest push. I was sorry for the boys—some looked only 15 years old. They were mixed with big, sour, dour, square-head swine. We are looking forward to giving them another dig soon.

The men are not commenting much on the U. S. A. coming in. They don't comment much on anything, now everybody is in; but it will make a big difference.

It's a very nice war in "Blighty," with nice time, polished buttons and a pair of swanky boots and heaps of glory reflected from the lads out here. But out here—well, a fellow might fight a Hun, but damned if he can fight a shell!

Still, it's marvelous how little notice one can take of them when they're somewhere else, but it don't half buck up one's ideas when they get personal. The soulful Huns usually open up at night time when fellows are trying to forget—shells and guns, lice and biscuits. (Oh, those army biscuits!)

Well, George, this has got to finish. Gas is coming over now in shells, dozens of them; I must put on my mask. The air is growing sweet and sickly. Isn't he a rotter?... All clear again. Jove, he dropped them close! Some experience between those two lines, eh? Hope this finds you in the Pink. Best regards to everybody.


(Told by James M. White—"Somewhere in France")

The thrilling experiences through which drivers for the[354] American Ambulance in France pass are narrated in this letter. Mr. White has been decorated with the Croix de Guerre.

So many things have happened ... that I hardly know where to begin. Also, I am pretty tired out, so please excuse this letter if it is rather incoherent. We have been working our present posts now for three weeks and often it has meant forty-eight hours steady. Not only has it been hard work but it has been most exciting. One of the boys who has been always with the section says that never has he seen such all round hard and exciting work. It is practically over now and we will all be very glad to go en repos.

You have seen by the papers of around this date what a successful attack the French have made. Out of the numerous sections of the ambulance we had the honor of doing the hardest work, and it has been well appreciated, for letters have been written to the General about it. That probably will mean a citation for us.

When I write you about what we have gone through I do it, not for personal reasons, but because I want you to know that this work is no play, and far from being an occupation of the "semi-heroic rich." I have seen more of war in five minutes in this sector than in months in the other places we have been. Nine of our twelve cars have been hit, but luckily only one chap has been wounded, and that not very seriously. I really think there is a divine Providence watching over us, for you would hardly believe some miraculous escapes that have taken place.

I have seen demonstrated something which I had heard but never believed, namely that a shell can land so close that its proximity saves one, the eclats going over one's head. Shells play queer tricks at times. Three cars were standing in a row, one with two wounded. A shell[355] landed near and the concussion blew whole panels out of each car and killed the two men. The remarkable part is that neither the cars nor men were actually hit by anything but dirt.

Nowadays the Germans seldom send over waves of gas. They seem to prefer to send in hundreds of gas shells. These have the same whistle as the high explosives but do not explode with a loud noise. It is more like the opening of a gigantic ginger ale bottle. They do a lot of damage, for they often catch one unawares. They will pick out a hollow and just drench it with gas shells; some smell like garlic and others like mustard. We have found it impossible to drive at night with masks on, especially those of us who wear glasses, for they immediately fog up. All of us dread these shells, much preferring to take our chance with the high explosive. A soldier was telling me of a new gas that they send in by shells. Wherever there is a perspiration on the body it forms an acid which gives a very bad burn. The men suffer most around the necks, under the arms and on the hands.

Altogether, this has been a tremendously interesting period. The aerial activity has been intense, there being lots of fights and numerous captive balloons brought down. The Germans have a nasty habit of coming over at night, flying low and turning their mitrailleuse on the roads which they know are crowded with wagons carrying material.

By a lucky shot the other day the Germans started a fire in a small munitions depot quite close to us. I have seen displays of fireworks, but this had them all beaten with a four hours' display. Some of the abris up front are perfect marvels of safety and comfort and I shall try and give you an idea of one. One side of a solid stone hill had been used before the war as a quarry. This[356] particular side happened to be away from the Boche. It has been so tunnelled that one walks through cave after cave with plenty of head room and spacious rooms. Everywhere there is plenty of light supplied by an electric generator and one finds a wonderfully complete and clean operating room. Remember this is all within a mile and a half of the front-line trenches, which in modern warfare is a short distance.

The wounded get splendid treatment; but of course stretchers take the place of beds, for it is by no means a hospital. They can comfortably take care of 200 men and, mind you, all of this has been cut out of solid rock. At such a post we get the men and take them back to the field hospital, where they may again be sorted for transport to the hospitals further back.

We carried quite a few German wounded yesterday and it is very interesting to hear their ideas about things in general. Most of them seem to be in great perplexity about why we declared war. Some of them seem like mere boys and others quite old, but then that holds for all armies.

It is almost a month since I heard from America, but then I know how busy you all must be with the moving. Please tell Tom that the second package of tobacco has come and I am ever so grateful. I lost my passport but have another. I had to have new pictures taken and walked all over Paris on a hot day to find a place, hence the expression.


(Told by J. Welling Lane, with American Ambulance)

The writer of this letter, J. Welling Lane, left his place with the banking firm of Montgomery, Clothier &[357] Tyler, 14 Wall street, New York, in April, 1917, to go to France with the American Ambulance. He had served on the Mexican border with the First Field Artillery.

France, Aug. 23, 1917.

Dear ——:

Well, old man, I can certainly tell of some real experiences now. The latest: Last night we had an air raid, beginning around 9 o'clock, when the Boche came over and dropped some bombs, trying for some gun positions near here, then at exactly 12:30 A.M. a big raid. There must have been at least five machines or more came flying very low and dropped a bomb within twelve feet of our barracks, wounding one of the boys who slept in the corner nearest the bomb in the bottom of his heel. He will be all right soon, but will take quite some time to recover.

It is a wonder to all he did not get it anywhere else. I drove him to the hospital with our Lieutenant and waited until they extracted the eclat, and am keeping it for him. It went through the wooden wall, through the blankets and carried a piece of blanket into the wound. Then another of the fellows lying opposite received a hard scratch, but only a scalp wound.

Our Brigadier, or Quartermaster, who keeps tires, etc., was sleeping in a little shed within seven feet of the hit, and when we all rushed over we heard him groaning, and I broke in the door to find him on the floor. He was hit in three places, a long piece in his side and one little piece piercing his backbone. He is dead now. Our barracks is riddled with holes from the eclat. The hole is about three feet deep and very narrow, the eclat spreading in all directions. There were all told eight bombs dropped around us.


Sept. 26, 1917.

One did not explode and can be seen in the ground near a stable. If it had exploded it would have no doubt killed many horses. That was a pretty close call for all of us, no doubt being brought on by the new gun position. One of the guns, by the way, was the one that silenced the German gun that used to shell Dunkirk, being able to shell twenty to twenty-five miles.

We just gave them a most successful attack when every objective was gained besides 6,000 to 7,000 prisoners—174 officers were taken. We assisted Section 18 of the American Ambulance and I worked from 11 o'clock Sunday to Wednesday at 7 P.M., and during that time had only about seven hours sleep. But strange as it may seem, no doubt, the excitement and all, I did not feel sleepy or tired but as fresh as if I never had worked. We secured our meals after a fashion, often times missing some.

The wonderful part is the few wounded other than very slight wounds upon the French side. The Boche said the artillery work was awful. One English speaking person said he had no food for three days and of a battalion of 1,000 men only twenty-one were left. The food they are getting is very poor and very little and every one was tickled to death to be a prisoner.

Some of the strangest sights were the Germans working as brancardiers helping to carry the wounded. One instance which I photographed was a Boche coming down the road helping a wounded Frenchman. Another was five prisoners coming down from the post of secours that we moved up to as soon as the position had advanced, which before was on the three line trenches, came down the road without any guard at all. They just told them to walk to the next village. It is all so wonderful;[359] never have I been so close or in such an interesting place.

From our post secours, which by the way has been advanced again to the spot which before the attack was no man's land—you can see all the French lines being on the side hill, the Boche positions being on top. Now advanced about four kilometres. This attack we have been through makes up for the long repose we have had. Our division was not in the attack, only one regiment, and we only assisted Section 18, but they are a white livered bunch and our section did duty continually while they sat around telling their weird tales of gas and having to work so long without sleep, &c. Far from the spirit all section four has, who were fighting all the time for more work. All the time grumbling did not have enough.

One man who is dying now I heard is to get the Medaille Militaire, the very highest honor the army has, and is only bestowed upon the men when there is no chance for them. Some section we have, haven't we? Now another of our boys will receive the Croix de Guerre medal. He came down one portion of the road usually shelled with three couchés and one assis on the seat beside him. As he came down they were dropping them in. The boys were tiring and replacing the cars in between the shots, which came at 2½ minute intervals, and one broke near him, wounding the assis beside him.

A piece of eclat caught our man in the arm, making a slight flesh wound and leaving a piece of wood in it. It had passed through a part of the body of the car and blew this wood into him. He had enough gas in the feed pipe to carry him about a hundred feet outside of the zone when another of our section cars came along and took his assis, who by now was a couché down for a dressing. Our man stopped a carrier and had them[360] take his blessés back to the post while he tried to start his car, but was unsuccessful. He ran down a trench through the falling shells from another post of secours with a note to our post telling that everything was O. K., and the wounded taken care of. They took him to the hospital, and he is now back with us, but not in service for a while. He is to get a medal.

We are certainly being hammered up a bit, but think the worst is over, so there is absolutely no need to worry about me, as I haven't come near anything yet. Pershing and Pétain were down the road while the attack was on, and also our post was visited by a Regular American Army Medical Colonel while we were in action. It is now all over and the service is to be taken over by the American Army. I don't know what difference it will make with us. Since last night's fracas we are to have a guard posted all night to warn us of any more raids so we can get into our trench, which is more than safe against any repetition.

An English speaking boche gave me a photo postal card of himself and mate and gave the date and place and signed his name. I have a boche gas mask and many buttons and shoulder-straps. The boches do not recognize hospitals plainly marked with red cross, since they threw bombs on a nearby hospital, burning up four buildings, killing 170 and wounding forty-one. 'Tis one of the hospitals we evacuated too, but now is being evacuated by a French section. A British section of the best which has been in this section with the French army two years and has been twice cited in army orders was hit and one couché killed and four were wounded and the driver only a slight flesh wound during the attack. Strange to say, so many ambulances always come clear. Their speed helps. Good luck to you all.